The Question: is this the end for tiki-taka?

May 1, 2014

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“People are unhappy. They’re unhappy at teams like Bayern Munich who keep the ball, preserving possession and looking to pass opponents into submission, and they’re unhappy at teams like Chelsea who defend deep, allow opponents to have the ball and try to pick them off on the break. People, over the past fortnight, have declared themselves bored by – and opposed to – both proactive and reactive football. That’s not actually as contradictory as it sounds. We live in an age of extremes. When Barcelona first started to play tiki-taka under Pep Guardiola, they began to achieve unprecedented levels of possession. For the first time probably since Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan almost two decades previously, there was a new philosophy about.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Why ‘tiki-taka’ was not to blame for Bayern’s loss
“For some reason, narratives need to be dumbed down and simplified, while judgments must be sweeping and absolute. Bayern are humiliated over two legs by Real Madrid and it becomes a case of the “end of tiki-taka”: evidence of the futility of wanting to keep possession at all costs. It’s the triumph of athleticism over skill, destruction over creation, pragmatism over idealism, simple over baroque, the rumpled suit, down-home country gentleman ways of Carlo Ancelotti versus the skinny-tie, urban metrosexual over-sophistication of Pep Guardiola.” ESPN (Video)

Verzweifelt und Verflixt
“On the way to work this morning I’d be stuck in traffic, and and after fiddling a bit with the car’s in-built MP3 player I’d randomly spin the control to a random track. It would land on the Tyrolean folk group Die Ursprung Buam – and a typically foot-tapping ditty called Verzweifelt und verflixt – crudely translated, ‘desperate and confounded’. These two words would sum up my mood completely having witnessed FC Bayern being torn apart by Real Madrid in what had been billed as another night of glory at the Allianz Arena, where my dreams of seeing Bayern in another Champions’ League final would turn into ninety minutes of sheer hell I would never be able to get back.” Bundesliga Fanatic

Bayern Munich 0-4 Real Madrid: Tactical Analysis | Set Pieces & lack of penetration
“This is the time of the year when the going gets tough, and the teams that eventually go on to claim the honours in May, really take their game to a different level. The Champions League semi final is a match that needs not only preparation and hard work in training, but also a bit of luck, and some performances that are at another level. Last season, Lewandowski stole the show against Real, and Bayern’s collective brilliance was too much for Barcelona. This season though, the tables have been turned on Bayern Munich, as Real Madrid, led by Carlo Ancelotti, executed a devastating counter attacking plan to leave Bayern on the wrong end of a 5-0 aggregate score line. Guardiola’s possession based approach, which has certainly had it’s day, now looks like a bit outmoded.” Outside of the Boot

Real Madrid Slam the Door on Bayern Munich
“The three, three chief weapons of the Spanish inquisition are speed, set piece headers, Cristiano free kicks, and … and I think it’s probably time to stop the extended Monty Python metaphor. But, rest assured, I could go on and include things like how Luka Modric is developing into the evolutionary Xavi right before our eyes, or how Angel di Maria has once again been asked to change positions and roles and managed it with total aplomb.” Grantland


Champions League: Atletico Madrid tops Chelsea, seals all-Madrid final

May 1, 2014

“ose Mourinho’s Champions League semifinal misfortune struck for a fourth consecutive year, as Atletico Madrid beat Chelsea 3-1 at Stamford Bridge to earn a final place in Lisbon against neighbor Real Madrid. It will be the first time two teams from the same city have competed in a European cup final. Here is what caught our eye from Wednesday’s result in London’ There was not quite the fanfare surrounding the return of Tiago Mendes to Stamford Bridge that we saw in the round of 16 when Didier Drogba returned with Galatasaray, but the effect was altogether more decisive.” SI


Savio Nsereko: A Fallen Prodigy Seeking Redemption

May 1, 2014

“Throughout his tender, yet turbulent, career, the boy they simply call ‘Savio’ has veered off-the-grid towards the lonely space of forgotten capability. But if you squint, you’ll notice that the former West Ham United teenager is still there, still cutting in from the left, looking for space to shoot. Savio Nsereko was born in war-ridden Kampala, Uganda in 1989, before fleeing for Germany with his family when he was just a baby. His father died when he was only two years old, leaving his mother a single parent struggling to raise five kids. As with so many impoverished children throughout the world, Savio found relief on the football pitch. At 15 he entered 1860 Munich’s youth academy, from which he attracted the attention of Brescia’s sporting director, Gianluca Nani, who had famously been behind the developmental progress of Andrea Pirlo and Luca Toni. Savio signed with the Serie B club in 2005.” In Bed With Maradona


Edin Dzeko and 5 Bosnia-Herzegovina World Cup Players to Watch in Brazil

May 1, 2014

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“Safet Susic will face journalists next Monday and recite 23 names that will be on the passenger list on the flight to Rio. However, not many surprises are expected. On more than one occasion, the man himself admitted that his selection is very limited and that he has to rely on the team that he had in the qualifiers. The difference in quality between first-choice players and their alternatives is huge, so Susic has pinned his hopes to a nucleus that has been built in the previous three campaigns. This is the same generation that lost to Portugal in the play-offs twice, but also had France on the ropes in Paris in 2011 when a controversial Samir Nasri penalty denied them a place in Poland and Ukraine.” Bleacher Report


The Danger Of Predictions: Luis Suarez Edition

May 1, 2014

“Last summer, I said I thought Liverpool should sell Luis Suarez. There were a lot of reasons behind it, but most of it boiled down to the fact that Suarez was one of the worst high volume shooters in Europe when it came to converting shots into goals. A non-penalty conversion rate of 8.7% in his first season in the league, followed by another of 12.3% in his second season weren’t impressive enough for me to think his dribbling (also inefficient) and ability to create his own shot were enough. Liverpool were already near the limit in how often teams can generally shoot in a game (19.4 in 2012-13), and in my opinion, Suarez’ inefficiency was keeping Liverpool from taking the next step and competing for a Champions League place.” Stats Bomb


Scottish Premiership: Play-off contenders drawn into final battle

May 1, 2014

“Two points separate the five teams fighting to avoid finishing second bottom in the Scottish Premiership and the relegation play-off position. With three games remaining – and bottom-placed Hearts already relegated – time is running out for St Mirren, Hibernian, Ross County, Partick Thistle and Kilmarnock to win the points that will bring relief from the fear and anxiety of an end-of-season contest with a Championship side. BBC Scotland examines the strengths and weaknesses of each team, the joker in their squad that could prove pivotal, and their chances of avoiding the play-off position.” BBC