Barcelona 4-0 Milan: Villa plays centrally and allows Messi space between the lines

March 13, 2013

n_42875_1
“Barcelona recovered from a 2-0 first leg defeat. Jordi Roura (perhaps with help from Tito Vilanova) used David Villa upfront, with Cesc Fabregas on the bench, and played Javier Mascherano rather than Carles Puyol. Max Allegri kept things close to the first leg XI – Mathieu Flamini replaced Sulley Muntari, with Riccardo Montolivo moving to the left of the midfield trio. Upfront, with Giampaolo Pazzini injured, M’Baye Niang played upfront. Barcelona were excellent in the first half here – and although the home side’s strategy was slightly confused after the third goal which had tipped the balance of the tie, Milan didn’t have an answer for their unusual system.” Zonal Marking

Embattled Villa seizes opportunity in Barcelona’s comeback
“David Villa took two touches, one with his right foot and one with his left, and took his chance like a man that was never going to miss. Smooth and precise, lethal. Just like Villa always did. With the first touch, he controlled the ball and eased away from his marker in a single move, letting the ball come across him; with the second, opening out his body, he curled it past AC Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati and into the far corner, so far from the goalie that he did not even bother moving.” SI


2014: A Very Brazilian World Cup?

March 13, 2013

“In an ever-increasingly globalised world, national football teams offer a rare beacon of consistency and separation, a unit that cannot be corrupted or diluted, influenced or relegated. Fans can embrace their shared culture and nationality, with no fear of players being poached or tempted away by bright lights and bulging pay packets. The national identification allowed by international football also drives the assimilation and acceptance of diverse racial groups into modern society, predominantly in Western Europe. Countries are building squads that reflect the growing diversity of their nations, particularly in the poor, urban youth; the breeding ground for so many of the world’s footballing superstars.” In Bed With Maradona


Liverpool 3 Tottenham 2: In-Depth Tactical Analysis

March 13, 2013

“Rodgers made only one change from the last game against Wigan. Sturridge returned to fitness and replaced Allen, with the shape reverting to the usual 4-2-3-1. However, Reina was injured so Jones had start in a goal. For Tottenham, Lennon missed the game. It was always going to be interesting how Villa-Boas chose to replace him. As it played out, Dembele was moved to the right flank with Livermore partnering Parker in the centre. The other two changes (compared to the Arsenal game) were anticipated and part of the usual rotation, pre and post a Europa match. Lloris and Dawson replaced Friedel and Gallas respectively. Bale remained central, which meant Sigurdsson and Dembele were playing in narrow positions off the flanks (something that had certain ramifications on the whole tactical battle). The team’s formation looked the usual 4-2-3-1. But given that on the flanks there were two natural ball-players, playing on their wrong foot (hence looking to come infield), the shape predominantly morphed into a sort of 4-2-2-2.” Tomkins Times


Lazio 0-2 Fiorentina: Ledesma shows how not to play the holding midfield role – again role

March 13, 2013

“A familiar, assured passing performance from Fiorentina – but a rare away victory. They leapfrog Lazio into fourth. Vladimir Petkovic was without right-winger Antonio Candreva after his red card against Milan last week, so moved Alvaro Gonzales to the flank and used Ederson in the middle. Lorik Cana started at the back, in place of Giuseppe Biava. Vincenzo Montella selected his 4-3-3 formation. Alberto Aquilani was unavailable in the centre of the pitch, so Giulio Migliaccio started in his position, while Nenad Tomovic played at right-back. Fiorentina were clinical here – dominating the opening period with clever passing triangles, then playing possession football in the second half to seal a relatively comfortable victory.” Zonal Marking

Schalke 2-1 Dortmund: squeezed game allows full-backs forward on the overlap
“Schalke won the Revierderby with an excellent first-half display. Atsuto Uchida came back into Jens Keller’s side, with Marco Hoger moving forward into midfield in place of Jermaine Jones. Jurgen Klopp recalled Mats Hummels – although he didn’t seem 100% fit and only lasted half the game. Klopp left out Marco Reus, presumably because of rotation after a busy couple of weeks for Dortmund. This game was amazingly attack-minded in the opening stages, and almost solely about the flanks, with all four full-backs playing attack-minded roles.” Zonal Marking


The Question: is the away-goals rule counterproductive?

March 13, 2013

Newcastle's Danny Simpson heads the ball during the Europa League first leg against Anzhi
“Imagine that on Tuesday night, rather than playing that late free-kick short so Milan lost possession and conceded a fourth goal, Robinho had hurled it into the box. Imagine Philippe Mexès had jumped for it, the ball had taken the merest brush off his pony-tail and that had been enough to take it past Victor Valdés. That would have made it 3-1 on the night, 3-3 on aggregate and Milan would have beaten Barcelona on the away goals rule.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Manchester United 2-2 Chelsea: United storm into an early lead, then Chelsea dominate

March 13, 2013

“Manchester United appeared firmly in control for 20 minutes, but substitutions helped Chelsea get back into the game. Sir Alex Ferguson recalled Wayne Rooney, using him behind Javier Hernandez, with Shinji Kagawa left and Nani right. Jonny Evans also returned. Rafael Benitez surprisingly named Ramires and Frank Lampard in midfield, allowing him to play three attackers, including Victor Moses, behind Demba Ba. Cesar Azpilicueta was at right-back. United took an early lead with goals from Hernandez and Rooney, but then seemed to stop playing – and Chelsea could have won it late on.” Zonal Marking


Lyon 0-0 Marseille: A bad reflection of Ligue 1, and a bad result for Ligue 1

March 13, 2013

“PSG were the real winners, as 2nd versus 3rd played out a boring goalless draw. Remi Garde was without Anthony Reveillere, so Mohamadou Dabo played at right-back, with Samuel Umtiti on the left. Clement Grenier dropped to the bench, with the more defensive-minded Gueida Fofana starting instead. Elie Baup was without Morgan Amalfitano, so used the pacey Modou Sougou in his place. Otherwise, his side was as expected. This was desperately poor – two negative sides apparently content to play out a goalless draw, in a match featuring just three shots on target.” Zonal Marking