Tactical Analysis: Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid | How Barca exploited half spaces

March 24, 2015

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El Clasico has become perhaps the most high profile fixture in club football. The historic rivalry between the clubs, the battle for supremacy between Ronaldo and Messi along with a star studded supporting cast, the possible implications in the title race all combine to form a heady mixture of apprehension and euphoria. The world waits with bated breath for kickoff only for it to be taken away by the plethora of talents on the pitch.” Outside of the Boot

Luis Suárez’s Validating Strike Lifts Barcelona Past Madrid
“Last October, Luis Suárez made his debut for F.C. Barcelona in a disappointing 3-1 loss to Real Madrid. He was substituted during that game after a long ban that had prompted questions over whether he could return to form and justify the record transfer fee that brought him here. On Sunday, Suárez repaid at least part of Barcelona’s investment by scoring a spectacular and decisive goal in a 2-1 victory over Real Madrid in the latest Clásico between the two giants of Spanish soccer. With the win, Barcelona opened up a 4-point lead over Madrid at the top of La Liga, with 10 games remaining in the season.” NY Times


Euro 2016: Crucial week for UK & Ireland teams on road to France

March 24, 2015

“England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland all return to international action this week – and all have realistic hopes of qualifying for Euro 2016. The five nations have never qualified for the same major international tournament before but, after a four-month break, they can all enhance their prospects of reaching next summer’s tournament in France with positive results. Why is there such hope? For a start, the finals has been expanded from 16 to 24 teams. But a solid start from all five sides to their qualification groups has also offered encouragement. Could it finally be that Wales and Northern Ireland play in their first European Championship? Can Scotland compete in a first major tournament since 1998? This week’s matches will represent the midway point in qualifying, so just how realistic is the prospect of all five making it through to France?” BBC


Soccer Analytics – Do They Belong in the “Beautiful Game”?

March 24, 2015

“There is a revolution happening in the world of sports, but it is not happening on a field or a court. Rather, the revolution is happening in the Excel sheets and the computers of statisticians and analysts who are tracking every play in sports today. In an age where the accessibility of data and the ability to analyze it quickly has reached team managers and coaches, the question remains, ‘How will analytics affect the sport of soccer?’” Soccer Politics

What Analytics Can Teach Us About the Beautiful Game
“Sports analytics, no matter the field’s renegade posturing, has now been around long enough to have its own pieces of conventional wisdom. Baseball’s cognoscenti know all about the primacy of on-base percentage over batting average, and they’ve also come to realize once-treasured strategies like bunting and stealing bases are best used sparingly. In basketball, the mid-range jump shot is slowly being phased out as an inefficient relic of antiquity. Spreadsheets are shaming football coaches into rolling the dice more often on fourth downs.” Five Thirty Eight


Aston Villa – Lost In The Supermarket

March 24, 2015

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“For a club of Aston Villa’s rich history, the past few years have been profoundly depressing, as they have spent most of that time at the wrong end of the Premier League table, desperately trying to avoid relegation. Their managerial merry-go-round has failed to improve matters, merely bringing their own version of doom (Alex McLeish) and gloom (Paul Lambert). This has been matched by a dismal performance off the pitch with the club bleeding money through some hefty losses, financed by the American owner Randy Lerner pumping vast sums of money into Aston Villa – with no tangible success. Little wonder that this toxic combination has caused Lerner to put the club up for sale.” The Swiss Ramble


Lionel Messi Is Back on His Game

March 24, 2015

“It has been a pleasure to watch Lionel Messi playing with Barcelona during the past week, in a way that it hasn’t been in a long time. When I profiled the Argentine superstar for the magazine in June of last year, just before the World Cup, he was in a bit of a funk. As one Argentine writer told me at the time, ‘It’s like he’s tied up.’  Messi had been having a (relatively) poor year with Barcelona, his club team in Spain, and there was a noticeable lack of spark in his play. He was hurt earlier in the year, and plagued by drama off the field at Barcelona, but nobody knew what the real root of the trouble was. He just didn’t look like himself.” NY Times


Tactical Analysis: Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United | United’s pressing, early dominance and more

March 24, 2015

“The fixture between Liverpool and Manchester United is one that demands global attention. As a spectacle, it is England’s riposte to El Clasico, Derby della Madonnina, De Klassieker, and so forth. In short, it is a very big deal. The animosity between the cities may have its roots in issues beyond the football pitch but it is on it that it finds a platform to express itself. Thus, a game between the two sides is always plagued with intensity and a smorgasbord of emotions. The traditional giants may not be fighting for the ultimate prize of the title but they are 2 of the teams in the running for a spot in next season’s Champions League. The result at Anfield may not prove be the defining moment in the race but its importance didn’t have to be underlined ahead of the game.” Outside of the Boot