Ligue 1’s Tale of the Tape

October 31, 2016

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“A glance at the Ligue 1 table and you might notice some surprises at the top of the table. Nice are first with a sparkling GD of +13. Toulouse are 4th and since Pascal Dupraz took over late last season they’ve had the statistical profile of an above average side. PSG are meandering in a way that’s not been seen since segments of the 2014-15 season while Lyon have looked dominant at times yet find themselves with only 13 points in 10 games. In comparison to the cakewalk that was Ligue 1 last season, this season has been much more parity driven.” StatsBomb


Guardiola wants Manchester City to be perfect in crucial Barcelona clash

October 31, 2016

“Pep Guardiola has warned his Manchester City side they will have to play “almost perfectly” if they are not to suffer again at the hands of Barcelona and leave their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages at serious risk. Two weeks after Guardiola’s team lost 4-0 at the Camp Nou, the sides renew acquaintances in Manchester with City’s manager knowing that another defeat against his former club could have costly repercussions given the standings in Group C and the possibility of Borussia Mönchengladbach moving into second position by beating Celtic.” Guardian (Video), Guardian – Champions League


Tactical Analysis: Juventus 2-1 Napoli | Juventus drag Napoli into a mud fight

October 31, 2016

“Serie A leaders Juventus hosted Napoli in this highly anticipated encounter. It was the first time Gonzalo Higuain played against his former team since his controversial transfer to Turin this summer. He scored the winning goal, and Juventus beat Napoli 2-1. Massimiliano Allegri’s side fielded a 3-5-2 formation. Because a win in the UCL encounter with Lyon will seal the qualification, Juventus rested Dani Alves, Claudio Marchisio, and Juan Cuadrado and replaced them with Andrea Barzagli, Hernanes, and Stephan Lichtsteiner.” Outside of the Boot


Team of the Week – Matchday 9 – Where is the middle class?

October 31, 2016

“Only four games ending with two or more goals meant a 19 goal total on Matchday Nine of the Bundesliga, as the New World Order continued its reign. Thanks to Rune Jarstein, the crossbar and some timely clearances, Hertha only lost to Hoffenheim 1-0, becoming the only team out of the top 10 to taste defeat. Nagelsmannia, Rasenballsport and Modeste all continued to trend upwards, while Freiburg (finally an away win!), Mainz and Leverkusen all earned convincing victories, outshooting their opponents 48 to 25 combined.” Bundesliga Fanatic


Tactical Analysis: Chelsea 4-0 Manchester United | Mourinho’s Unhappy Return

October 31, 2016

“Mourinho and his Manchester United side came to Stamford Bridgethis past weekend for their second tough away Premier League game of the week. It should suffice to say that Mourinho’s return did not go as planned, with Chelsea routing his team 4-0. The result sent shockwaves through the football world, with the skeletons still tumbling out of that particular closet.” Outside of the Boot


Tactical Analysis: Feyenoord 1-1 Ajax | All square in Der Klassieker

October 31, 2016

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“High-flyers Feyenoord had a chance to make it ten wins from ten in the Eredivisie and open up a sizable lead at the top of the league by recording their first league win over Ajax since January 2012 on Sunday afternoon. They failed to do so and just about managed to avoid defeat with a late equalizer, but still remain in control of first place in the standings early on in the campaign.” Outside of the Boot


Scottish football: five things we learned at the weekend

October 31, 2016

“There promises to be one almighty scrap for runners-up spot in the Scottish Premiership. You might say it’s a bit sad if we’re getting excited about the fight for second place but Celtic are in a league of their own and next best does bring with it a place in Europe and a decent chunk of prize money. I would expect Aberdeen and Rangers to battle it out for that consolation prize but wouldn’t be shocked if Hearts or St Johnstone are contenders as well.” BBC


Tactical Analysis: AC Milan 1-0 Juventus | Juventus lose their intensity and 3 points

October 31, 2016

“Serie A leaders Juventus visited 2nd placed Milan in a packed San Siro Stadium in this early Saturday feature game. Milan beat Juventus by a single goal, closing Juventus’s lead to 2 points. Vincenzo Montella’s side fielded a 4-3-3 formation. The only notable change is Manuel Locatelli started in place of injured captain Riccardo Montolivo. Massimiliano Allegri played the usual 3-5-2 formation. The only significant change is Mehdi Benatia replaced Giorgio Chiellini as the left center back.” Outside of the Boot


Tactical Analysis: Leverkusen 0-0 Spurs | Two pressing teams meet

October 31, 2016

“Roger Schmidt was in the stands at White Hart Lane when Spurs faced Man City and won 2-0. He would have surely been impressed by seeing the team from North London. It showed in his team’s performance against Spurs that he had done his homework with a very tactically astute performance from Leverkusen. With two very similar teams in terms of their wanting to press, the way the match would pan out depended on how each team would combat the other’s pressing.” Outside of the Boot


Gonzalo Higuain’s “betrayal” adds fuel to Napoli’s fire as they visit Juventus

October 27, 2016

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“Carlos Tevez joined Juventus the same summer Gonzalo Higuain moved to Napoli. Inevitably it started a debate about who had got themselves the better striker. ‘A true Argentine doesn’t play in Turin!’ declared a banner welcoming Higuain to Naples. The implication was that by not following in the footsteps of Diego Maradona, Tevez could never be considered as such. Just try telling that to Juventini and the people of Fuerte Apache, the Buenos Aires barrio where he grew up.” ESPN (Video)


My Second Team: Rayo Vallecano

October 27, 2016

“In architectural terms primary sporting allegiances are a bit like the single sweep of the modern football stadium, while second teams are more akin to the old Dell ground at Southampton. Just as you could reconstruct much of Southampton’s history from the joyously variegated collection of oddities crowding the touchlines, so secondary allegiances reflect changes in location, interests and influences.” thetwounfortunates, thetwounfortunates – My Second Team


Denis Kelleher: An ‘Unpredictable Irishman’

October 27, 2016

“Below the professonal ranks, Denis Kelleher was regarded as one of the finest footballers in Britain. In a remarkable life, the Irishman, capped eight times at amateur level, escaped from Nazi Germany, played for Great Britain at the Olympic Games, and became a folk hero at Barnet. Cian Manning tells his story.” Póg Mo Goal


Antonio Conte can break Mourinho’s Chelsea spell against Manchester United

October 27, 2016

“Tor a manager who is commonly thought to be incapable of building a dynasty José Mourinho left a remarkably durable legacy in his first spell at Chelsea. Neither party, it seemed, could ever quite let go. Even as late as 2012-13 Mourinho was referring to Chelsea’s squad as ‘my players’ which, to an extent, they were.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Ante Ćorić – Between the Dream and the Reality

October 27, 2016

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 10: Ante Coric of Croatia shoots past Liam Moore of England during the UEFA U21 Championship Playoff First Leg match between England and Croatia at Molineux on October 10, 2014 in Wolverhampton, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
“The scoreboard at the Maksimir stadium indicated 94:45 minutes during the mid-September Champions League game between Dinamo Zagreb and Arsenal. In the fifth minute of extra-time, Arsenal urgently searched for late equalizer but the match ended with a historic 2-1 Dinamo victory. But the score could have been even more decisive for Dinamo.” Futbolgrad (Video)


Change Is Coming at Arsenal, but Is It Enough to Make the Difference?

October 27, 2016

“Five teams at the top of the Premier League, divided by a single point. Even their goal difference varies by only two. Yet it’s impossible not to view all five teams differently, in part because of the fixture list and in part because past performance inevitably affects how we view the present.” bleacher report


Andriy Boryachuk – A key to Shakhtar’s tactical evolution

October 27, 2016

“Andriy Boryachuk is only 20-years old, but the young Ukrainian striker from Shakhtar Donetsk has turned heads in recent weeks. The young forward debuted for Shakhtar on matchday 9 against Volyn Lutsk, and he capped off his 16-minute debut by scoring the final goal for Shakhtar in the 78th minute.” Futbolgrad (Video)


Rangers 0 Celtic 1

October 23, 2016

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“Celtic will play Aberdeen in the Scottish League Cup final after Moussa Dembele secured a late victory over Rangers in the Old Firm semi-final. Brendan Rodgers’ side had the better of the Hampden match with Scott Sinclair, Tom Rogic, Dembele and Stuart Armstrong drawing saves from Matt Gilks. Erik Sviatchenko had a goal disallowed for Celtic and Sinclair’s free-kick was touched on to the bar by Gilks.” BBC

Rangers 0-1 Celtic: Player ratings from Billy Dodds and Pat Bonner
“Moussa Dembele’s late goal was enough for Celtic to beat Rangers 1-0 in the Old Firm Betfred League Cup semi-final at Hampden. Brendan Rodgers’ side will face Aberdeen in the final on 27 November. Former Rangers striker Billy Dodds and ex-Celtic goalkeeper Pat Bonner were at Hampden and gave their verdict on the teams.” BBC

Celtic vs. Rangers – more than just a game
“The Scottish League Cup semi-final will be the latest instalment in the Old Firm rivalry, which has cemented itself as one of the fiercest games in world football. That’s because for so many people it’s more than just football, with politics, sectarianism and football making for a lethal mix. Originally, Rangers were formed in 1872, and it wasn’t until 1888 when Celtic were founded by the Irish community who had moved to Glasgow to escape conditions back in their homeland. That ensured Celtic would be the team for Irish and Catholic families, whilst Rangers had a staunch Protestant following.” Football Pink


The rise of Soccer: The growing influence of USA on football

October 23, 2016

“Football is on the rise in America. Nobody can deny that. Children all over the country are getting into the sport and are becoming better and better at it. This progress has been shown over the last few decades. In 1990, America didn’t even have a professional football league and had just qualified for their first world cup in over twenty years. Twenty-six years later they have a thriving league in the MLS and are becoming more and more competitive on the international scene. Another, less spoken about, the thing that America is doing in the football world the takeover of multiple clubs across Europe. This takeover has led to both the first American manager in the Premier League and American style of business being implemented in some of Europe’s biggest clubs.” Outside of the Boot


Tactical Analysis: Liverpool 0-0 Manchester United | Mourinho successfully stifles Klopp

October 23, 2016

“In one of the most anticipated Monday Night Football games in years, José Mourinho reminded his critics of his managerial capabilities with an outstanding, if ugly, defensive performance at Anfield. Limiting a Liverpool side that had scored 28 goals in their last 11 home league matches to just three shots on target was no easy task, even if there was arguably justifiable criticism over Mourinho’s unwillingness to play a more expansive, attacking game.” Outside of the Boot


Is Julian Nagelsmann Already One of the Bundesliga’s Best Managers?

October 23, 2016

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“In a modern football landscape that sees teams hire and fire managers faster than they ever have, finding managerial stability and a good boss can be a tough task. For some clubs they have that stability, such as 1. FC Köln with Peter Stöger, Dortmund with Thomas Tuchel and Mainz with Martin Schmidt. For other teams such as Hoffenheim, finding a top class manager has been a tough task, with 8 manages serving the club since 2011. But now, it seems like Hoffenheim finally have that manager they’ve been looking for in Julian Nagelsmann, who has kept them up and now has them flying high again. Since the 29-year-old has done so much after his appointment, is he already one of the Bundesliga’s best managers?” Bundesliga Fanatic


Premier League stats: Which player has gone 1,241 days without starting in a win?

October 23, 2016

“One player’s unwanted record of failing to win a game when in the starting XI now stands at 1,241 days, while Nathan Redmond and Gary Cahill prevented an unwanted first for English players in the Premier League. Here, we take a look at some of the most interesting stats from the weekend.” BBC


As a former idol returns, Chelsea begin to look like Antonio Conte’s team

October 23, 2016

“After the horrifically dull disaster that was ‘Red Monday’, some marketing executives at Sky Sports might be shifting uneasily in their executive chairs at thought of marketing this Sunday’s clash between Chelsea and Manchester United as ‘Super’. Luckily for them, however, whatever happens on the pitch the narrative of a certain Jose Mourinho returning to the stadium where he made his name will be more than enough to push this fixture over the line as the standout game of the weekend.” backpagefootball


Ever-evolving Guardiola keeps adapting, from Barcelona to Bayern to Manchester City

October 20, 2016

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“When Pep Guardiola left Barcelona in 2012, there was one huge question about him. He’d grown up at Barcelona. He’d been a ball-boy there. He’d come through the youth system. He’d played for and captained the team. He knew Barcelona and its culture better than almost anybody else. It was a club that had formed him, and he was then able to reform it. He’d wound down his playing career elsewhere but could he really thrive elsewhere?” SI – Jonathan Wilson


The Five Months in Mexico That Shaped Pep Guardiola’s Philosophy

October 20, 2016

“It was as they were whiling away one of those long, sultry evenings cooped up in the comfortable surroundings of the Hotel Lucerna in Culiacán, Mexico, that Pep Guardiola outlined to Ángel Morales his vision of the perfect goal. Over the course of their five months in northwest Mexico, Guardiola, who would become the greatest soccer coach of his generation, and Morales, a journeyman playmaker from Argentina, spent hours together, eating, relaxing, talking. A decade later, though, it is that one thought, that purest distillation of Guardiola’s philosophy, that has stayed with Morales.” NY Times


Tactical Analysis: Juventus 2-1 Udinese | Absentees force Juventus to seek balance

October 20, 2016

“With a series of injuries and to rest players to prepare for the upcoming UCL encounter against Lyon, Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri has fielded an experimental side with a hybrid system. Juventus used a standard 4-4-2 formation during the defensive phase with two full backs (Stephan Lichtsteiner / Patrice Evra) and two wide midfielders (Alex Sandro / Juan Cuadrado).” Outside of the Boot


Political unrest in Gabon casts shadow over 2017 Africa Cup of Nations draw

October 20, 2016

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“No news, they say, is good news. Either that or it’s the result of a government blackout. The draw for the Africa Cup of Nations will be held in Libreville, Gabon, on Wednesday but yet again the buildup to a tournament has been dominated by doubts over where it will be staged as the aftershocks of Gabonese presidential elections continue to be reverberate.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Bulgaria 1994

October 20, 2016

“In the modern technological age, it’s quite easy to take for granted the vast amounts of information available to us about people and cultures from across the globe- the fact that we can, for instance, watch local news broadcasts from Papua New Guinea on Youtube or Snapchat with people working in a scientific base in Antarctica is no big deal. But for those of us who grew up in the late 80s and early 90s- a generation now popularly known as ‘millennials’- vast swathes of the world’s populations, despite experiencing unprecedented levels of social and political change at the time, still seemed so mysterious.” In Bed With Maradono


Tactical Analysis: Chelsea 3-0 Leicester City | Back 3 works magic for Conte

October 20, 2016

“Chelsea welcomed the defending champions of the English Premier League at Stamford Bridge. The Blues dominated the game and achieved a crucial 3-0 victory. With this past weekend, Chelsea continues challenging the top 3 in the table, while Leicester are still struggling for an away victory. Antonio Conte is the 3rd manager of Chelsea since Claudio Ranieri took charge of Leicester City. The game found a certain style: very ‘Italiano’ under 2 managers who came from the Apennine Peninsula, especially given that Chelsea played with a 3-back formation.” Outside of the Boot (Video)


Tactical Analysis: Middlesbrough 0-1 Watford | Watford counter effectively

October 20, 2016

“Boro came into this game looking for their first win of the season at home and were visited by Walter Mazzarri’s Watford. The match promised to be a tactical battle between the two talented managers who were new to the Premier League.” Outside of the Boot


Season Preview: Serie A 2016-17

October 16, 2016

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“With €155 million already spent this summer and another Serie A title in their sights, opposition fans will be praying for anything to stop the Old Lady of Juventus dominating another 12 months of domestic competition. Whether it be a Leicester-style upset or fairytale end to the career of Roma legend Francesco Totti, any side close to challenging the Bianconeri will probably receive widespread support throughout the Peninsula. However, while strengthening in preparation of Paul Pogba and Alvaro Morata’s departure to the Premier League and La Liga, Juventus have weakened their closest rivals, Napoli and Roma, with the capture of Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic.”
Forza Italian Football
World Soccer: Paddy Agnew’s preview of the 2016-17 Serie A season
Serie A 2016-17 season preview – Football Italia
2016-17 Serie A (Italy/1st division) location-map…


Idealist Tite the perfect man to lead Brazil

October 16, 2016

“A couple of weeks ago, new Brazil coach Tite was asked to make a choice – did he prefer the FIFA World Cup winning team of 1994, or their predecessors from twelve years earlier, the 1982 side that lost to Italy and failed to reach the semi finals? He went with the latter – part of the proof that, at last, the task of coaching Brazil has fallen to the right man.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Desert fire: the world cup rebels of Kurdistan

October 16, 2016

“Football’s world cup for unrecognised territories is viewed through the eyes of the manager and players of one of the most fascinating teams, Iraqi Kurdistan. In summer 2016, an extraordinary tournament took place: football’s ‘rebel’ world cup for stateless nations, minority ethnic groups and unrecognised territories. This surreal and vibrant spectacle is viewed through the eyes of the Kurdistan players and coach.” Football Pink (Video)


EFL 2016-17: Five things you may have missed from Saturday’s action

October 16, 2016

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“We’re over a quarter of the way into the English Football League season and the big coats are out for the upcoming winter slog. This weekend saw only one team below the Premier League left unbeaten, two League One clubs joining forces to protest against their owners and another not quite hitting the spot on social media. Here are five stories you may have missed from Saturday’s EFL action.” BBC


Scout Report: Konstantinos Stafylidis | The best left back in Germany?

October 16, 2016

“Augsburg have garnered somewhat of a cult following over the past two seasons, haven’t they? Their unexpected run to a fifth-placed finish and subsequent passage into the Europa League (as well as making it into the knockout stage) in 2014/2015 gave every football hipster an underdog club to claim as their own. Though they struggled mightily last season, relying on hitting during the second-half of the Ruckrunde to avoid the drop by five points come the end of the campaign, they’ve targeted this season as one to rebound through under new manager Dirk Schuster.” Outside of the Boot


Why the Premier League is the reason for England’s international struggles

October 16, 2016

“The mere appointment of an Eddie Howe, Jurgen Klinsmann or anyone else as the England manager would never be enough to seek solutions for the state of the English national side. The problems are more deeply rooted than some conceive. Selecting Michael Keane or bringing in a fresh approach to the side and changing the way the team plays won’t transform the whole scenario of the situation.” backpagefootball


Jürgen Klopp, José Mourinho and the cultivation of liderazgo

October 13, 2016

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José Mourinho is only four years older than Jürgen Klopp but in football terms it can feel as though there is a lifetime between them. In part it is an issue of tactics: the hard, high press of which Klopp is such a devotee is modish. When Liverpool and Manchester City went to Tottenham this season and engaged in breathless, percussive styles, it felt like the football of today, the freshest ideas being pitched against each other. Mourinho’s style is more conventional.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


The Bundesliga Doctor is here to help your team! Part 1 – the Waiting Room

October 13, 2016

“Since we are still on a rather pointless and lengthy international break, Bundesliga fans are forced to wait around, with only the occasional NationalMannschaft beatdown of the Czech Republic to keep them entertained. The break for the World Cup Qualifier, as the panel on the excellent Yellow Wall Podcast suggested, can be seen as the end of the starting phase of the Bundesliga season and thus is a nice time to look back on what trends have emerged so far.” Bundesliga Fanatic – Part 1, Part 2


A Light On Hanoi

October 13, 2016

“When I tell a friend I’m going to watch Hanoi T&T FC play he offers up a derisory snort. I get my bike fixed and the local mechanic shakes his head and mutters something in a tone that suggests derision, a bartender laughs at me. I am clearly not in on the joke. Vietnam is a football mad nation but ask a Vietnamese person if they follow a team here and they blush. My Airbnb host in Ho Chi Minh City woke up in the early hours to cheer on Manchester United against Southampton, watching Zlatan Ibrahimovic score his debut Premier League goal.” In Bed With Maradono


Russian Football: Stadiums

October 13, 2016

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“(1) LUZHNIKI STADIUM – MOSCOW. History: Luzhniki officially opened on July 31, 1956, intended for use as the Soviet Union’s central stadium. In 57 years, the facility has undergone two major renovations – prior to the 1980 Summer Olympics and in 1996-1997, when a roof was added to comply with UEFA standards. The stadium has hosted the Summer Olympics, UEFA Cup and Champions League finals, and numerous Russian national team matches. It has also served as the home pitch for Spartak, CSKA, Torpedo, Rubin and Anzhi over the years. Luzhniki also has a dark chapter, as 66 people died here in the worst stadium catastrophe in Russia’s history during an UEFA Cup match between Spartak Moscow and Dutch side Harlem on the 20th of October 1982. …” Russian Football News


How Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are taking Arsenal back to the days of Henry and Bergkamp

October 13, 2016

“It’s one of the best performances in recent years,” Arsene Wenger said after his side’s 3-0 demolition of Chelsea. This game was notable not only for being the first time Arsenal had beaten Chelsea since 2009, but for the way in which they won, using a tactical system hugely reminiscent of Wenger’s earlier Arsenal teams. Wenger’s first Arsenal team played a 4-4-2, which he tweaked and adapted until eventually he created the Invincibles – a fluid mix of attacking talent, supported by a solid core.” Telegraph


Far-Flung Adventures: Ross Jenkins on playing in Romania

October 13, 2016

“Ross Jenkins is a 25-year-old midfielder who spent last season at Romanian top-flight club Poli Timișoara. He broke into the Watford first team under Brendan Rodgers in 2008, and has also played for Plymouth, Barnet and Crawley Town, as well as the England Under-20s. Here he talks to Will Unwin about his adventures in Romania and the challenges of finding a club overseas…” the set pieces


Statistically Scouting the Bundesliga’s Buildup

October 10, 2016

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“One of the best attributes of looking at passing data is the samples pile up quickly a few games into the season. While teams still have just a handful of total shots, you can break down passes almost anyway you like and still wind up with hundreds in each bucket. One thing I’ve been doing with this dats is looking at how teams progress the ball up the pitch. It’s been illuminating to me and I’d like to share some first impressions with you today. Build up across any league varies wildly, we all know this especially when we get to see Sander’s maps illustrating the variation every game.” Stats Bomb


Tactical Analysis: Leverkusen 2-0 Dortmund | Compact center does it for Leverkusen

October 10, 2016

“Dortmund Shape and Philosophy contradiction. Dortmund started off with a dynamic shape – a 4-1-4-1 defensively and a 3-defender shape in attacking transition and initial build-up. Raphael Guerrero, Dortmund’s left-back cum central midfielder, was seen constantly switching between left-back and midfield positions during attacking and defensive transition.” Outside of the Boot


Young USMNT goalkeeping trio gets shot as Klinsmann seeks a worthy successor

October 10, 2016

“t was in September 2008 that the U.S. national team last visited Havana, but it may as well have been the 1970s or 80s. President George W. Bush’s administration had doubled down on the embargo, tightened travel restrictions and included Cuba in an expanded ‘Axis of Evil’. A handful of intrepid American fans who made the illegal trip to support their national team covered their faces with bandannas. That team would have driven past a billboard featuring portraits of Bush and Adolf Hitler, and later found locals scouting a practice session from a dorm built into the Estadio Pedro Marrero.” SI


Tactical Analysis: Sevilla 1-0 Lyon | Fluid home side victorious

October 10, 2016

“If Lyon harbor any hopes of progressing from Group H after their 1-0 defeat to Sevilla on Tuesday evening, they will at least be grateful of having kept the score down, so to have half a chance of reversing the result in early December. Despite Lyon having hit the woodwork twice, Sevilla were firmly in control, especially in the second half. Manager Jorge Sampaoli made two initial decisions that, while they perhaps took a while to settle in, were key to the hosts bossing the game.” Outside of the Boot