Tiki-Taka’s Trojan Horse: Luis Enrique Transformed Barcelona From Within

June 2, 2015

“The shadow of Pep Guardiola still hangs over everything that happens at FC Barcelona, and for good reason. In 2009, Guardiola’s first season as manager, the club won the treble — league, league cup, and Champions League. It went on to win another two league titles, one more league cup, and one more Champions League trophy during Pep’s four years in charge. Quite simply, his Barca side, with their sustained dominance and signature quick-passing style, are the defining team of the 21st century.” Grantland

Sevilla wins second straight Europa League title; clinches UCL berth

May 29, 2015

“Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and Sevilla traded goals in a highly entertaining Europa League final on Wednesday, scoring four goals between them in the first half and five total. Sevilla eventually came out on top in the competition for the second successive year, 3-2, at Poland’s National Stadium in Warsaw. For the first time, this Europa League winner goes straight to the subsequent Champions League, giving the Warsaw final added meaning. Both teams’s intensity showed as much, as both fought for a berth in the continent’s premier club competition for which they failed to qualify via league play.” SI

Carlos Bacca double breaks Dnipro hearts for Sevilla to make history
“In the end, Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk’s sense of their own destiny was not enough. Sevilla, playing their familiar attractive football, became the first side to win the Europa League for the fourth time – astonishingly only nine years after they won it for the first time. While José Antonio Reyes offered a reminder of his energy and inventiveness for an hour, this was really the victory of two men who confirmed their great promise. Unai Emery, the 43-year-old coach, defended the title he won by beating Benfica in the final last year, but in a far more fluent, aesthetically pleasing way, while the 28-year-old Colombia forward, Carlos Bacca, demonstrated his predatory instincts with two goals.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Tactical Analysis | Lazio 1-2 Roma: How the Derby della Capitale was won and lost

May 29, 2015

“Another ‘Derby de la capitale’, another win for Roma. The fight for the Champions League spot is what made this clash even more special as Roma were before this game on 2nd place with 67 points and Lazio 3rd with 66, meaning that the winner of this game was able to secure a ticket for the Champions League 15/16.” Outside of the Boot

Just what is happening in Milan?

May 20, 2015

“It’s hard to believe that only four years ago AC Milan secured their 18th Scudetto. Even harder to believe that it was just a year before that Internazionale were on the verge of completing an unprecedented Treble of league title, European Cup and Coppa Italia. Today both Milan clubs languish in midtable obscurity, the recent scoreless draw between the clubs highlighting the lack of spark in either team. Milan are as close in points to relegation as they are to a Champions League spot. How they have reached this point could be a blueprint on how not to use your transfer funds.” backpagefootball

Real Madrid 1-1 Juventus: Real attack through the full-backs but Juve hold on

May 16, 2015

“Juventus qualified for the European Cup final with a 3-2 aggregate victory. Carlo Ancelotti surprisingly dropped Pepe and shifted Sergio Ramos back into his favoured centre-back position, after an unsuccessful stint in midfield during the first leg. Upfront, Karim Benzema was fit to return, and otherwise it was Real’s expected side, with Marcelo and Dani Carvajal returning having been rested for the weekend draw with Valencia.” Zonal Marking

Tactical Analysis: Real Madrid 2-2 Valencia | Valencia’s counter attacks and Real’s positional play
“The last clash between the teams ended in a 2-1 win for Valencia. This time in the Santiago Bernabeu, things didn’t quite turn out the way Ancelotti would have want them too either, as Real were down by 0-2 after just 30 minutes of the game. Thanks to a much better performance in the 2nd half, Real managed a draw courtesy a stunner from Isco, which was also the last goal to be scored ending the game at 2-2.” Outside of the Boot

Dnipro’s Europa League run reaps seeds sown by Yevhen Kucherevskyi

May 16, 2015

“It is 11 years since I visited Dnipropetrovsk. It may have changed, but back then it was a bracingly industrial city, the river thick with green sludge. Amid the factories and the endless brick there was one oasis: Dnipro’s impressive training base, a block of immaculate, manicured pitches surrounded by trees. ‘Dnipro always had a good school,’ said their then coach, Yevhen Kucherevskyi. He is dead now, killed in a car crash in August 2006, but the academy remains a cornerstone of the club: 12 of the first-team squad are home-grown. On Thursday Dnipro face Napoli in Kiev in the second-leg of their Europa League semi-final.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

The End of a Mini Era: Where Does Real Madrid Go From Here?

May 16, 2015

“Things move quickly at Real Madrid. One day you’re on top of the world, celebrating La Décima, and then before you know it, a year has gone by and suddenly everybody’s (probably) looking for a new job. Technically, Real Madrid are still alive in the La Liga title race, but with a four-point gap and two games to play, it’s doubtful they’ll chase down Barcelona. After yesterday’s 3-2 aggregate loss to Juventus in the Champions League semifinals, the Madridistas are staring down a season without a single trophy,1 and at a club where the only constant is change even when things are going well, nobody’s job is safe — unless you’re a certain Portuguese superstar.” Grantland

On verge of treble, winning proves to be Barcelona’s elixir after turmoil
“In January, Barcelona was in crisis. The vaunted front three hadn’t gelled, Lionel Messi was out of sorts and furious at being left out for the first game after the winter break (even though he had been in each of the two previous seasons as well) and Luis Enrique appeared to be a dead man walking. And that’s without even mentioning the off-field problems–the transfer ban, the boardroom wrangling, the allegations surrounding the Neymar transfer and the general sense that the club had tarnished its good name with some of its commercial deals. Four months on, Barca is three games from the treble.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


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