Quiet Steps: A New-Look Barcelona and Messi Embrace the Old Ways

October 1, 2014

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“The reports of Barcelona’s death may have been greatly exaggerated. This season has started as perfectly as possible. Any worries after a scoreless draw at Málaga last week were swept aside by Lionel Messi & Co. when they put six on Granada in the next match. New manager Luis Enrique has guided his team to the top of La Liga’s table, with 16 points from their first six games. Barcelona have yet to concede a goal, and, scarily, they are nowhere near their peak form. Luis Suárez has yet to play a minute for his new squad, and Neymar is only now rounding into shape after his World Cup injury. Barcelona’s decline, to the extent that there ever was one, appears to have been arrested. And it’s all thanks to evolution.” Grantland (Video)

Tactical Analysis | PSG 3-2 Barcelona : Marquinhos, Luiz, and Motta steal the show as Messi is thwarted
“One of the Marquee clashes of the group stage would be the two games between PSG and Barca. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Ezequiel Lavezzi all ruled out due to injury, the Parisian side were definitely on the back foot and were second favourites for the clash. However a performance of tactical discipline and heart saw them emerge triumphant in a five goal thriller.” Outside of the Boot


Tactical Analysis | Manchester City 1-1 Roma : Away side contain the 4-4-2

October 1, 2014

“The world’s toughest club competition is only in its second match day, but things are already getting very tight. The Group of Death, containing CSKA, Bayern, Manchester City, and Roma, was, always going to be a very close one, but few expected there to be such high stakes, this early on. Going into the game, the English champions, City, needed to pick up 4 points over their 2 clashes with Rudi Garcia’s Roma in order to stake a strong claim for a spot in the next round of the competition. This was no easy task, as Roma came into the game in terrific form, with their last European outing being their thrashing of CSKA. Realistically, both sides were looking at second spot in the group behind the dominant Bayern Munich, and so the game was worth a lot.” Outside of the Boot


Shakhtar Donetsk is playing home games 100 miles away because of shelling from Russia

October 1, 2014

“Crimean teams are competing in the Russian league, and Ukrainian titan Shakhtar Donetsk has been forced to Kiev because of conditions around the Donbass Arena. As much as we may want soccer to exist it its own sanctified realm, geopolitics are always ready to intervene, especially when Vladimir Putin’s involved. To talk about that intervention, Igor Levenshtein, editor of the Commentary Daily News in Ukraine, joined the show to detail what effects the region’s uncertainty has had on Ukrainian, Russian, and European soccer.” Fusion (Video)


Brazilian football: FFP rules could ‘prompt revolution’

October 1, 2014

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Marcos Rojo
“With 85% of teams inactive for more than six months of the year, leaving 16,000 players unemployed, Brazil’s professional football clubs are effectively in intensive care. So far they have been sustained by the drip-drip-drip of money from investors keen to buy a stake in players potentially destined for big-money European moves. But with world governing body Fifa’s recent announcement that it is banning third-party ownership, that lifeline is about to be withdrawn. That poses a major problem for Brazilian clubs, but it could be a decisive moment and one which prompts a much-needed revolution in the country’s domestic game.” BBC – Tim Vickery


Player Focus: Gerrard Offering Liverpool Defence Too Little Protection

October 1, 2014

“After Steven Gerrard had bent in the free-kick that gave Liverpool the lead in Saturday’s Merseyside derby, he ran away with one hand cupped to his ear. The message was fairly clear: where’s your criticism now? ‘I can take constructive criticism, but people go one step further and say you are finished and can’t run anymore,’ he said afterwards. ‘So it was nice to remind people that, at the age of 34, I can still play, I can still run and I am still around and I can still compete with the best players around.’ Which is true and simultaneously not true.” Who Scored


5 Tactical Conclusions From September

October 1, 2014

“Southampton have recovered excellently. No Rickie Lambert, no Adam Lallana, no Luke Shaw, no Dejan Lovren, no Calum Chambers…and no problem. Many predicted Southampton would struggle having sold so many star performers, but some intelligent recruitment and clever coaching from Ronald Koeman means Southampton are riding high, in second position in the Premier League table.” Betting Expert – Michael Cox


The Question: is the counter-counter more crucial than the counterattack?

October 1, 2014

Vincent Kompany
“Pause the video of Roma’s goal against Manchester City just as the ball reached Radja Nainggolan and City’s problem is clear. There’s the back four in classic saucer shape, the full-backs slightly advanced of the centre-backs and there, where one of the central defenders should be, is a huge hole into which Francesco Totti is beginning to run. Vincent Kompany is perhaps 10 yards advanced of Martín Demichelis, looking to close Nainggolan down and never getting close enough to him.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Barça face cross-border issues, Athletic hit rock bottom

October 1, 2014

“‘Ha! Zat eez wot ‘appens when ze Barca do not have ze Granada every week! Ha!’ snarked a much-loved French friend of LLL after PSG’s 3-2 victory in the Champions League on Tuesday night. Actually, that’s a bit of a porky-pie lie. The voice creeped out the imaginary mouth of an imaginary French friend living in the blog’s largely empty head. It is very unloved. Although it’s a little knee-jerk, which is what LLL is all about deep down, this is one possible reaction to Barcelona’s first loss this season – and the first goals conceded for that matter.” FourFourTwo


Analytics In Context: Assessing Leicester’s Chances of Staying Up

October 1, 2014

“Leicester’s chances of surviving in their return to the EPL for the first time since 2004 was boosted by their high profile come from behind victory against van Gaal’s work in progress on Sunday. However, they have remained firmly favoured to remain in the top flight by the published odds (currently 1.12 with Coral to stay up) even during a difficult start which saw them out shot against superior teams, where points were difficult to come by. This initial confidence in the Foxes was partly down to their impressive record in the Championship, where they gained over 100 points.” Betting Expert