Atletico 0-1 Barcelona: the Messi and Pedro combination wins Barcelona the title

May 22, 2015

“Barcelona wrapped up La Liga with a 1-0 victory at the home of Atletico Madrid, the previous champions. Diego Simeone played his usual formation, but made a few changes from the team which drew 2-2 at Levante last weekend. At the back, Diego Godin returned in place of Miranda. In midfield, Thiago dropped out and Mario Suarez came in. Upfront, Fernando Torres got the nod over Mario Mandzukic.” Zonal Marking


Xavi’s faith in his ideas helped make him the greatest Spanish player of all time

May 22, 2015

“Radical. Fanatic. Ideologue. These are terms that aren’t often attributed to professional athletes, but they are the first ones that come to mind when looking to describe Xavi Hernández, the greatest Spanish player of all time and arguably the greatest midfielder to ever play the game. When Xavi speaks in public, he defends an idea with the unwavering conviction of a cult leader, eschewing the platitudes and clichés that are commonplace in professional sports interviews.” Fusion


Pep Guardiola: The man behind the manager

May 20, 2015

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“‘Good artists copy, great artists steal.’ The quote by Picasso should tell you that great people don’t just come up with great ideas, but take all the best ideas from the greatest minds and apply them to their own visions. There are many in the game with the opinion that Pep has taken Bayern backwards and is not a great manager – inheriting two great squads. The recent first leg loss to Barcelona may have hurt Guardiola. It would be naïve to call his tactics naïve but they were certainly found out by the pace of Barca’s attack and the sheer class of Lionel Messi. However, the second leg showed more of what Guardiola is about. And, if the team’s defending hadn’t been so sloppy, they may very well have got back into the tie.” Outside of the Boot


Why Barcelona’s 4-3-3 works like a charm while Real Madrid’s is a disaster

May 16, 2015

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“FC Barcelona is on the verge of winning the treble, while Real Madrid will end the year without a major trophy. Last year, Real Madrid was the champion of Europe while Barça was trophy-less. What the hell happened? Why is it that two teams that seemingly play the same exact formation can have such wildly different outcomes? In Spain, there has been a lot of debate about whether Real Madrid’s 4-3-3 formation is feasible. Proponents say something like ‘Look at Barça! It plays the same way and also has three superstars up front, and it makes it work!’” Fusion


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


Tactical Analysis: Barcelona 3-0 Bayern Munich | Pep’s dangerous tactics backfire

May 12, 2015

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“If you’re reading this, you don’t need to be informed of the magnitude of the Barcelona – Bayern Munich Champions League semi-final. There were all kinds of storylines and sub-plots to the actual game. Most of them involved Pep Guardiola. It was Pep versus Messi, Pep versus his old club and his old teammate Luis Enrique, then you had Pep versus the machine he had created and every other storyline in between. That was why it was no suprise that Pep started the game in what might be described as an altenative style of play against a team like Barcelona. Guardiola is considered a visionary and the high intensity press that Bayern started with was emblametic of Pep’s thinking. It didn’t work though.” Outside of the Boot

Guardiola’s gambles put Bayern in hole in nightmare Camp Nou return
“That was what Guardiola had said of Lionel Messi before Wednesday’s Champions League semifinal between Barcelona and Bayern Munich, but to suggest the match simply bore that out would be too simplistic. To begin with, there was that extraordinary first 16 minutes when Guardiola played a man-marking back three against Neymar, Luis Suarez and Messi. It was perhaps the boldest, most startling defensive gambit in the history of the Champions League, and it may have consequences for Guardiola.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Champions League semis showcase changing role of deep-lying midfielder

May 12, 2015

“This season’s Champions League semifinals don’t feature the four most outstanding goalkeepers, defenders, wingers or strikers in the world, but it’s difficult to argue with the selection of deep-lying midfielders. In Sergio Busquets, Andrea Pirlo, Xabi Alonso and Toni Kroos, we’re being treated to an exhibition of probably the world’s four most revered footballers in that role. Between them, the quartet have won the last three World Cups and seven of the last 12 Champions League titles. More crucially, in different ways, they’ve helped redefine the nature of their position.” ESPN – Michael Cox


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