Champions League draw analysis: Picks to make it out of each group

August 29, 2015

UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino, left, and UEFA Competitions Director Giorgio Marchetti, right, remove the balls containing the names of the soccer clubs, during the draw for the Champions League 2015/16 play-offs, at the UEFA Headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)
“There was a twist to the Champions League group stage draw in Monaco Thursday. UEFA’s new seeding regulations meant that only reigning champions would be picked from Pot 1, leaving some dangerous contenders in the lower pots. And so it proved, as Manchester City was drawn with Juventus and Sevilla while Real Madrid drew Paris Saint-Germain and Shakhtar Donetsk. The draw resulted in some intriguing individual storylines, powerhouses going up against one another and the first steps on the road to the San Siro.” SI (Video)

Player Analysis: Sergio Busquets against Athletic Bilbao

August 24, 2015

“In the 1st leg of the Spanish Super Cup, Barcelona had huge problems dealing with the high-press of Bilbao in Barcelona’s own half-pitch, while also employing a man-marking system. Athletic were also very centrally compact playing with a 4-4-2, which Barcelona could not penetrate, conceding 4 goals through different pressing approaches of Bilbao which eventually led to counter-attacks against the then destabilized Barca defense.” Outside of the Boot

Athletic Bilbao 0-1 FC Barcelona: Match Review

August 24, 2015

“Starting the game, Barcelona were coming up against a familiar opponent. The Catalan club have already played Athletic twice this season thanks to the Supercopa and the wounds from that defeat are still fresh. Therefore you would expect a lively start from Barça as they look to seek revenge but the opening stages were all a bit tame. Athletic were smart about absorbing the early Barcelona pressure and neither side registered a shot on target during the opening minutes. The high press of the Basques succeeded in limiting Barcelona’s ability to create clear-cut chances.” Barca Blaugranes

La Liga preview: Can Real Madrid or Athletic Bilbao overtake Barcelona?

August 21, 2015

“On the face of it, the Spanish Super Cup suggested this season might be different. Barcelona, who won the treble of league, Copa del Rey and Champions League last season, was beaten 4–0 in the first leg by Athletic Bilbao and, back at the Camp Nou, managed only a 1–1 as it attempted the impossible task of overturning that deficit. Is Barça in crisis, could Athletic mount a serious challenge, is this the year when Spain becomes more than a two and a half horse race? Probably not.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

FC Barcelona Power Rankings: Week Two

August 19, 2015

“The timing of the Supercopa de España ensured that this week’s power rankings were pushed back a day to Tuesday, which means that we have a total of three competitive matches on which to rank the squad. Of course, there have been some ups and downs over the course of those 300 minutes of football, so this might get controversial… Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Barca Blaugranes

Tactical Analysis: Athletic Bilbao 4-0 Barcelona | Bilbao’s 4-4-2 and pressing exposes Barca’s vulnerabilities

August 17, 2015

“San Mames is a notoriously hard stadium to play in, as visiting teams often find themselves wavering in front of the intense Bilbo crowd and team during the 90 minutes of the game. Since the first sound of the whistle, Bilbao approached the game with a robust and intense style. Playing hard, aggressive and direct, the first 10-20 minutes of the game did not see Bilbao risk anything in the build up, but instead preferred to play longer towards the opposing half, in order to force the high-lines of Barcelona to drop deeper. This long balls approach worked as it forced Ter-Stegen out of the goal to head it away, leaving his goal completely exposed which was duly punished by what may turn out to be a contender for goal of the season. San Jose got to the 2nd ball and shot directly into the open goal from 40 yards out, resulting in a 1-0 lead for Bilbao after 15 minutes of the Super Copa Espana.” Outside of the Boot

Tactical Analysis: Barcelona 5-4 Sevilla | How Barca created space in the middle by playing out wide

August 17, 2015

“Last season treble winners Barcelona came up against Europa League champions Sevilla in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. For what was expected as a mouth – watering game by many, I’m sure they weren’t disappointed with the final outcome.” Outside of the Boot


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