Analysed: Are Barcelona the new Stoke or are Stoke the new Barcelona?

September 25, 2021


“It’s fair to say that the atmosphere at Barcelona is not exactly rosy at the moment. The off-field chaos is impossible to ignore, with debts of over €1.2 billion meaning one of the world game’s most famous clubs faces the very real prospect of bankruptcy. Of course, such huge financial difficulties have spilt onto the pitch, with Barcelona forced to offload some of their most prized assets — including Lionel Messi, the best player in their history (which is saying something when Diego Maradona and Johan Cruyff have also worn their colours). This was always going to lead to a drop-off in quality in Barcelona’s performances on the pitch, but the fans still expect more than they’re getting. …”
The Athletic (Video)
Barcelona’s 54 crosses in one dreadful game – how Koeman’s side are ‘playing like Stoke City’


Jorge Sampaoli is building something special at Marseille

September 24, 2021


“‘Nietzsche thought while walking too,’ said Marseille coach Jorge Sampaoli to explain why he constantly paces up and down the touchline. ‘I analyse things better while on the move.’ Following Sampaoli’s arrival in March, Marseille lacked the ferocity and intensity of their coach. Now, however, they are playing with intensity and dynamism, embodying their manager’s snarling, prowling touchline presence. Club and coach are a perfect match and, after years of underachieving, Marseille may have finally found the right formula. Known as a Marcelo Biesla ‘disciple’, even if he quietly rejects the comparison, Sampaoli has based his success this season on a gung-ho outlook. It is working, with four wins and two draws from Marseille’s first six games. …”
Guardian
Jorge Sampaoli: Coach Watch (Video)
W – Jorge Sampaoli
Jorge Sampaoli: 5 things on the inbound Marseille coach


“Ninth time lucky!” – Five things learned as West Ham stun Manchester United in EFL Cup upset at Old Trafford

September 23, 2021


“West Ham rolled up to Old Trafford in the EFL Cup without either of their best centre-backs in Kurt Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna, and given the Hammers were in siege defence mode for basically 80 minutes, you would have thought that would come back to haunt him, but it didn’t. United piled on the pressure, sending crosses and passes into the box but in the end it was Dean Henderson who made the bigger saves. That’s down to Craig Dawson and Issa Diop. The centre-back pair were colossal, getting their heads and feet to everything United put in. …”
Squawka
Guardian: West Ham’s Lanzini strikes to knock Manchester United out of Carabao Cup
BBC: Manchester United 0 – 1 West Ham United


Tactical Analysis: Manchester City’s Underlaps

September 22, 2021


“Adherents to the rather loaded term of positional play perceive football to be a game of dynamic spatial occupation. Subsequently, players will move in relation to the ball carrier and their supporting teammates. These reference points mean movements carry implications when working under a 5/7 zone structure which provides the framework for optimal creation of passing angles and maintenance of connections. Movement and subsequent vacation of space sends a signal to rotate, typically on the horizontal axis. …”
Running the Show


Eredivisie Overture: Part One

September 20, 2021


PEC Zwolle vs. Feyenoord in happier, safer times. 16 February 2020
“The Dutch are a society littered with contradictions. Rising waters threaten a country largely below sea level, but it was Amsterdam that served as a breeding ground for the very capitalism which constructed our climate crisis. Nationalism inherent in the Dutch psyche sees Germany as an ‘other’ when in reality the relationship between the two countries is as close as any. The Netherlands became famous in the football world for a revolutionary change in the perception of the game. Today, however, their current state of football is defined in many ways by conservatism. It’s not unlike a nation-state to find itself drowning in its own conflict. …”
Football Paradise


Arrigo Sacchi’s cultural revolution

September 18, 2021


Arrigo Sacchi
“In the early 1990s, the Italian national team were in a distinct crisis. To solve the tactical issues, the Federazione drew on the secret weapon of domestic Italian football: Arrigo Sacchi. The former Milan coach replaced Azeglio Vicini, who had not been able to win the World Cup at home, in 1991. Making its début against Norway, a draw meant that the qualification for the 1992 EURO was definitively over. However, Sacchi’s real goal was to rebuild the Squadra Azzurra – and in the long term to succeed at the 1994 World Cup. In that context, Sacchi relied on the well-known Milan axis composed of Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta and Franco Baresi. Meanwhile, the 1993 FIFA World Player of the Year, Roberto Baggio, was considered the pivotal point in attack. Certainly missing the qualities of his Dutch players from Sacchi’s Milan days, he was able to work on a coherent system, involving Baggio and the two Rossoneri Roberto Donadoni and Daniele Massaro. A system that, unsurprisingly, was very similar to the one Milan played in the late 1980s. …”
Arrigo Sacchi’s cultural revolution
Arrigo Sacchi: The Tactical Masters (Video)
How Marcello Lippi masterminded the resurgence of Juventus in the 1990s
The footballing fairy tale of Juventus cult hero Moreno Torricelli
How Giovanni Trapattoni adapted his way into legend
Total Football Journeyman: Arrigo Sacchi & The Cult of Universal Player (Video)
W – Marcello Lippi, W – Arrigo Sacchi, W – Giovanni Trapattoni
YouTube: A Brief History of Arrigo Sacchi, The coaching genius who made Juve invincible | Marcello Lippi Interview | Serie A, Legendary: Press Conference with Giovanni Trapattoni

Marcello Lippi


The Blueprint: Five Tactical Trends to Look out for in Juventus vs. Milan

September 16, 2021


“It’s official. The Blueprint’s gone continental. This week, we’re headed to Turin for a Serie A clash that pits the league frontrunners against an old superpower that has since faded. But maybe not in the way you think. Milan travel to Juventus with the sides in two very different frames of mind.  Juventus’ start has been troublesome to put it kindly, and downright dreadful if we are being less kind.  Defeat to Napoli last Saturday left Massimiliano Allegri’s side with just one point from their opening three fixtures, and they sit in 16th place. It’s the first time they’ve failed to win at least one of their first three Serie A matches in 52 years. …”
The Analyst


Traps, Overloads and Vertical Transitions – Benitez’s Everton’s Use of Wide Pressing Traps and How It Can Facilitate the Toffees in Possession Approach

September 14, 2021


“As Everton meandered to another mid-table finish in Carlo Ancelotti’s first full season, something which has become more common than not in recent years, it suffices to say Everton fans looked ahead to the summer transfer window wondering what direction Ancelotti and Marcel Brands would take Everton’s squad, some with trepidation considering the scattergun recruitment of the club in recent years. However, the Merseyside team saw their plans thrown into disarray when Ancelotti was chosen by Florentino Perez to return to Real Madrid at the start of June, leaving Everton searching for another permanent manager, another common feeling for Everton and its fans in recent years. Following a three-week managerial search, Farhad Moshiri and Everton turned to Rafael Benitez on a three-year contract to lead the team into the upcoming season and beyond. …”
Breaking The Lines
Rafa Benítez: Coach Watch (Video)
The Athletic: What it’s like to play for Rafa Benitez (Video)
W – Rafael Benítez
YouTube: Everton’s new system under Rafael Benitez | Premier League Tactics Session


Cox: Mane spinning both ways makes him a dangerous option through the middle

September 14, 2021


“Not for the first time, Sadio Mane’s fine performance in Liverpool’s 3-0 victory over Leeds was overshadowed by the contribution of Mohamed Salah. It was the Egyptian who scored Liverpool’s opener, which brought up his 100th Premier League goal and inevitably dominated the headlines. Mane had to wait until the 92nd minute — and his 10th shot of the match — before getting onto the scoresheet. But this was a contest made for Mane, against a Leeds side using their typically aggressive man-to-man press across the pitch. Whereas Salah was a threat primarily with his speed in behind, Mane was capable of coming short to receive the ball to feet, spinning past opponents and turning in either direction. He was Liverpool’s key attacker. …”
The Athletic
BBC – Leeds 0-3 Liverpool: Fabinho & Salah star as Liverpool look back at their best – Stephen Warnock (Video)


Catenaccio

September 13, 2021


Catenaccio (Italian pronunciation: [kateˈnattʃo]) or The Chain is a tactical system in football with a strong emphasis on defence. In Italian, catenaccio means ‘door-bolt’, which implies a highly organised and effective backline defence focused on nullifying opponents’ attacks and preventing goal-scoring opportunities. … The key innovation of Catenaccio was the introduction of the role of a libero (‘free’) defender, also called ‘sweeper’, who was positioned behind a line of three defenders. The sweeper’s role was to recover loose balls, nullify the opponent’s striker and double-mark when necessary. Another important innovation was the counter-attack, mainly based on long passes from the defence. In Helenio Herrera’s version of catenaccio in the 1960s, he used a 5–3–2 formation, in which four man-marking defenders were tightly assigned to the opposing attackers while an extra player, the sweeper, would pick up any loose ball that escaped the coverage of the defenders. The emphasis of this system in Italian football spawned the rise of many top Italian defenders who became known for their hard-tackling and ruthless defending. …”
Wikipedia
Football Tactics For Beginners: Catenaccio
YouTube: Catenaccio explained


Premier League 2020/21: The biggest underachievers and overperformers based on expected goals

September 11, 2021


“The Premier League season has reached its conclusion but does the final table accurately reflect performance? Manchester City deservedly wrapped up the title, while many expected Fulham, Sheffield United and West Brom to be relegated as the campaign progressed. Elsewhere though, some teams have managed to accumulate more points than their showings suggested they would, while others have been left confused as to how they aren’t higher up in the standings. Using data from Infogol’s expected goals model, we look at four teams who found themselves in a ‘false’ position after 38 games. …”
Sporting Life (May 28, 2021)
The Athletic: Premier League top-four permutations: What form table, xG, odds and fixtures show (May 11, 2021)
W – Expected goals
Sporting Life: Premier League: Team by team xG analysis on the 2020/21 season (May 28, 2021)
Five Thirty Eight: Club Soccer Predictions (Sept. 8, 2021)
YouTube: Football’s New Stat – What is Expected Threat?, What is xG? | By The Numbers (Jan. 2018)


Johan Cruyff

September 9, 2021


Hendrik Johannes Cruijff OON (Dutch: [ˈjoːɦɑn ˈkrœyf] (About this soundlisten, internationally spelled Cruyff; 25 April 1947 – 24 March 2016) was a Dutch professional football player and coach. As a player, he won the Ballon d’Or three times, in 1971, 1973, and 1974. Cruyff was a proponent of the football philosophy known as Total Football explored by Rinus Michels, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, and one of the greatest managers. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Dutch football rose from a semi-professional and obscure level to become a powerhouse in the sport. Cruyff led the Netherlands to the final of the 1974 FIFA World Cup and received the Golden Ball as player of the tournament. … Cruyff is widely seen as an iconic and revolutionary figure in history of Ajax, Barça, and the Oranje. David Winner, the author of Brilliant Orange, wrote about Cruyff’s influential career in the football world, ‘There have been lots of brilliant football figures down the years, but none has been as significant as Johan Cruyff. … As coach at Ajax and Barcelona, he built thrilling sides, nurtured a remarkable number of genius players and influenced many of the most important teams in the world. .. Once radical and revolutionary, Cruyffian principles have become standard throughout the modern game. His blueprint for developing young players has been copied all over the world.’ …”
Wikipedia, W – Style of play and views on the game
Total Football Journeyman: From Mighty Magyars to Flying Dutchmen
Guardian: What formation did Holland’s Total Football side actually play?
Cruijff’s Total Football Guide (433-2)
W – History of AFC Ajax
W – Rinus Michels, W – Ruud Gullit, W – Frank Rijkaard, W – Marc Overmars, W – Dennis Bergkamp, W – Louis van Gaal
YouTube: Total Football Explained 5:09, Football’s Greatest International Teams .. Netherlands 1974 26:08, Netherlands – Argentina: Bergkamp Goal 1998, Johan Cruyff ● Flair Like No one Else (Rare Footage)


USMNT, Ricardo Pepi shine against Honduras in second half of World Cup qualifier

September 9, 2021


“The U.S. men’s national team has gotten its World Cup qualifying campaign back on the rails with a 4-1 win over Honduras on Wednesday night. After entering halftime down 1-0, manager Gregg Berhalter made three substitutions to start the second half with aplomb. What ensued was a four-goal onslaught, as the USMNT climbed all the way to third in the Octagonal as the first international window comes to a close. It was a classic ‘tale of two halves’ type of match. After struggling in the 4-3-3, Berhalter lined his team up in a 3-4-3. What ensued was an even sloppier 45 minutes than any of the previous four intervals, with gaps galore in the midfield, between the back seven and the attack, and all over the defensive line. …”
The Athletic
NY Times: For U.S. Men’s Team, Win Salvages a Week They’d Rather Forget
Guardian: A brilliant 45 minutes against Honduras failed to mask US World Cup problems


Rosters Reimagined! A Post-Transfer Market Tinkering of the EPL’s Big Six

September 8, 2021


Liverpool – Most used so far: 4-3-3, Alternative pictured: 4-2-2-2
“The transfer window has closed and we’re left with a week of international football to wonder what money truly buys. So for kicks, let’s incorporate the new lads in alternative formations for the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ and see what cleverness or calamity results… Because why not, right? …”
The Mastermindsite


Total Football

September 5, 2021


Johan Cruyff playing with Ajax in 1971
Total Football (Dutch: totaalvoetbal) is a tactical system in association football in which any outfield player can take over the role of any other player in a team. Although Dutch club Ajax and the Netherlands national football team are generally credited with creating this system during the 1970s, there were other sides who had played a similar style before, such as the Austrian Wunderteam of the 1930s, the Argentine side ‘La Maquina‘ of River Plate in the 1940s, the Golden Team of Hungary in the 1950s, English team Burnley in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and Brazilian side Santos in the 1960s. In Total Football, a player who moves out of his position is replaced by another from his team, thus retaining the team’s intended organisational structure. In this fluid system, no outfield player is fixed in a predetermined role; anyone can successively play as an attacker, a midfielder and a defender. The only player who must stay in a specified position is the goalkeeper. …”
Wikipedia
YouTube: Total Football Explained


Analyzing Maurizio Sarri’s First Home Game in Charge of Lazio

September 5, 2021


“Lazio kicked off the Maurizio Sarri era with a 3-1 win against newly promoted Empoli, where Sarri coached from 2012 to 2015 and led to promotion. Their final match before September’s international break saw them host Spezia, coached by Thiago Motta following Vincenzo Italiano’s departure to Fiorentina in the summer. Whilst Spezia started in a 3-4-3 formation, Sarri continued with his traditional 4-3-3 formation, making just two changes: Luis Alberto came in for Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro on the left side of midfield, whilst Patric started on the right side of central defense in the place of Luiz Felipe. Lazio started off with a 4-4-2 high-block pressing scheme, with Felipe Anderson joining Ciro Immobile up top whilst Pedro dropped deeper to the wing. This was a flexible shape as Sergej Milinković-Savić often stepped out from midfield to press, which then saw Anderson drop back to a wider, deeper position. …”
Breaking the Lines
Tactical analysis analyze Lazio Empoli
NY Times – Maurizio Sarri: Chelsea’s Tuscan Son (Aug. 2018)
W – Maurizio Sarri


Golden Team

September 1, 2021


W – Gusztáv Sebes, W – Ferenc Puskás
“The Golden Team (Hungarian: Aranycsapat; also known as the Mighty Magyars, the Magical Magyars, the Magnificent Magyars, the Marvellous Magyars, or the Light Cavalry) refers to the Hungary national football team of the 1950s. It is associated with several notable matches, including the ‘Match of the Century‘ against England in 1953, and the quarter-final (‘Battle of Berne‘) against Brazil, semi-final (against Uruguay) and final of the 1954 FIFA World Cup (‘The Miracle of Bern‘). The team inflicted notable defeats on then-footballing world powers England, Uruguay and the Soviet Union, before the 1956 Hungarian Revolution caused the breakup of the side. Between 1950 and 1956, the team recorded 42 victories, 7 draws and just one defeat, in the 1954 World Cup final against West Germany. …”
W – Golden Team, W – Total Football
The greatest teams of all time: Hungary 1950–56
Guardian – Hungary’s Golden Squad: the greatest football team never to win it all?
The Curious Case of Hungarian football
Remembering Josef ‘Pepi’ Bican, once Europe’s greatest goalscorer
The glory of Josef Uridil, the first man to transcend football and celebrity in Austria
Hungary 1950s (Video)
W – Match of the Century (1953 England v Hungary football match), W – Battle of Berne (1954 FIFA World Cup), W – 1954 FIFA World Cup Final


Player Analysis: Ryan Gravenberch

August 30, 2021


“Ajax were denied the chance to have back-to-back Eredivisie titles for the first time since 2014 after the league was suspended and announced as null and void last season. Yet, it looks like they will be winning the title this time around, as they comfortably sit six points ahead of their nearest threat, and have a game in hand too. Their academy, De Toekomst – or, the future – has played its part in this as they have provided the first-team with more hungry young talent. One player in particular, is one that could be a very special player. Ryan Gravenberch is just 18 years old but has had a major part to play for de Godenzonen, starting 21 out of 23 possible matches in the Eredivisie. The Dutch midfielder was introduced to the first-team last season, but it has been this campaign where he has placed his marker and showed his quality. …”
Breaking the Lines
A Wijnaldum-inspired Netherlands hope to finally reap the benefits of consistency
Wonderkids: Ryan Gravenberch
W – Ryan Gravenberch


A Look at Possible Build-up Mechanisms in a 4-1-2-1-2

August 30, 2021


“We’ve done a lot of tactical content here through the years, from investigating Paulo Sousa’s innovative Fiorentina tactics to Thomas Tuchel’s build-up patterns at Borussia Dortmund and Diego Simeone’s suffocating, positionally-oriented Atlético de Madrid. However, this piece is not an analysis of a team or a coach; rather, this piece investigates possible implementations coaches could use when building from the back in a 4-1-2-1-2/4-4-2 diamond. …”
Running the Show (Nov. 2020)


Athletic Club 1 – 1 Barcelona

August 28, 2021


“Barcelona moved to the top of La Liga on goals scored as Memphis Depay rescued a point in an entertaining draw at Athletic Bilbao. Depay’s ferocious strike cancelled out Inigo Martinez’s headed opener after Athletic Bilbao had dominated. Both sides hit the crossbar and passed up numerous chances to claim all three points. Barca defender Eric Garcia was sent off in injury time for fouling Nico Williams when clean through. There is no doubt Ronald Koeman’s side are in transition – the loss of Lionel Messi leaving them in search of a new talisman and trying to find new ways to win. …”
BBC
10-man Barcelona forge their new side in the fires of San Mamés after 1-1 draw with Athletic Club
YouTube: Tactical Analysis : Athletic Club 1 – 1 Barcelona | Barca Tactics In The Post Messi Era, Highlights Athletic Club vs FC Barcelona (1-1)


Penalty area

August 25, 2021


“The penalty area or 18-yard box (also known less formally as the penalty box or simply box) is an area of an association football pitch. It is rectangular and extends 16.5m (18 yd) to each side of the goal and 16.5m (18 yd) in front of it. Within the penalty area is the penalty spot, which is 11m (12 yd) from the goal line, directly in-line with the centre of the goal. A penalty arc (often informally called ‘the D’) adjoins the penalty area, and encloses the area within 9.15m (10 yd) of the penalty spot. It does not form part of the penalty area and is only of relevance during the taking of a penalty kick, when any players inside the arc are adjudged to be encroaching. … Previously, penalty areas extended the width of the field, but were reduced to their current dimensions in 1901. …”
Wikipedia
YouTube: Why do penalty boxes have Ds?


Mamelodi Sundowns’ Three Coaches: Are You Not Entertained?

August 24, 2021


“The departure of Pitso Mosimane from Mamelodi Sundowns dominated the build-up to the 2020/21 DSTV Premiership, as the reigning champions had to prepare for life without the stewardship of arguably the greatest manager in the club’s history.  Forward came co-head coaches Manqoba Mnqithi, Rulani Mokwena and senior coach Steve Komphela; the trio took over in an attempt to perpetuate the team’s dominance of South Africa’s top-flight football. From the start, the coaches rapidly uncovered their go-to formation (4-3-3) at the club, and to date, the results have been fruitful, winning the league at their first attempt. The 4-3-3 presents a different configuration in build-up and attack. The below illustration shows a staggered 2-1-4-3 or 2-5-3, not much of a surprise with more teams that play a possession-conservative style of football in this configuration. It offers multiple passing lines vertically, diagonally and horizontally. …”
Breaking the Lines


Long, raking balls and a sublime volley: Watching Alex Mowatt for 90 minutes

August 23, 2021


“For the last few seasons it has looked as though Alex Mowatt has the potential to be a Premier League player. The challenge this season is for him to be as important for West Bromwich Albion as he was to Barnsley in order for that potential to be realised. If the 26-year-old thrives then so too should Valerian Ismael and his team, who have started the campaign at a canter with three wins and ten points. In their latest, a 2-1 win over Blackburn Rovers, Mowatt showed his quality in spades as The Athletic watched his every harrying run and kick of the ball. It is probably underselling things a little to suggest he started the game well. …”
The Athletic
W – Alex Mowatt


Wunderteam: Hungarian soccer team 1930s

August 22, 2021


1930: Beginning of the match.
Wunderteam (Wonder Team) was the name given to the Austria national football team of the 1930s. Led by manager Hugo Meisl, the team had an unbeaten streak of 14 games between April 1931 and December 1932. The style of the team was based on the Scottish school of football that focused on quick passing introduced by Englishman Jimmy Hogan. The forward line was complemented by wide half-backs and an attacking centre-half. Matthias Sindelar, Josef Bican, Anton Schall, Josef Smistik and Walter Nausch were the referents of the team that would dominate European football during that era. Matthias Sindelar, known as Der Papierene (The Papery Man) due to his slight build, was the star and captain of the team. In the early 1930s, Austria became a very celebrated team in Europe. … The cup was to be Wunderteam’s only championship win. …”
W – Wunderteam
Guardian – World Cup stunning moments: Austria’s Wunderteam go close, YouTube: Matthias Sindelar: The Footballer Who Defied The Nazis
Jimmy Hogan: the English pioneer who set Hungary up for greatness
How Austria’s Wunderteam defied the Nazis for one last act of greatness
Matthias Sindelar: the great pre-war footballer who danced before the Nazis
W – Austria–Hungary football rivalry
W – Jimmy Hogan, W – Béla Guttmann, W – Hugo Meisl, W – Márton Bukovi, W – Gusztáv Sebes, W – Izidor Kürschner

Matthias Sindelar


Interchanging front threes or a traditional No 9? Why top Premier League teams prefer flexibility

August 21, 2021


“As the Harry Kane transfer saga rumbled on in the background, the scene on the pitch for last weekend’s Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City clash was more typical of modern football. With no Kane available, Tottenham used Son Heung-min up front. With their pursuit of Kane so far unsuccessful, City used Ferran Torres up front. Son and Torres are both generally regarded as wide players. That’s not to say they’re not sporadically prolific — each one scored a Premier League hat-trick last season, and both say they’re perfectly happy playing through the middle. But neither is anything like traditional No 9s: they drop off, they come short and they make runs into the channels. …”
The Athletic


Borussia Dortmund 1 – 3 Bayern Munich

August 19, 2021


“The first half was a blink-and-you-miss it affair, with chances coming and going seemingly by the minute. Bayern targeted BVB right-back Felix Passlack early on, robbing him of possession three times with their relentless high press to set up presentable scoring chances, but neither Kingsley Coman (twice) nor Müller managed to hit the target. Dortmund were also dangerous going forward, though, and Bayern needed a world-class stop from Manuel Neuer to deny Marco Reus following a sensational through-ball from Jude Bellingham. Reus, Müller, Lewandowski and Erling Haaland all went close thereafter, while 16-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko had a goal disallowed for offside before Lewandowski thundered in the opening goal with a powerful header from Serge Gnabry’s cross to give the visitors the lead at the break. …”
Bundesliga: Robert Lewandowski double as Bayern Munich overcome Borussia Dortmund to win the Supercup (Video)
W – Der Klassiker
YouTube: Tactical Analysis : Borussia Dortmund 1 – 3 Bayern Munich || Nagelsmann’s Mid-Game Adjustments, Borussia Dortmund 1-3 Bayern Analysis |How Bayern won the German Super Cup


No surprise Leeds lost to Manchester United, just look at the wage bills

August 19, 2021


Marcelo Bielsa
“The easy thing is to blame the manager. It has become football’s default response to any crisis. A team hits a poor run or loses a big game: get rid of the manager. As Alex Ferguson said as many as 14 years ago, we live in ‘a mocking culture’ and reality television has fostered the idea people should be voted off with great regularity (that he was trying to defend Steve McClaren’s reign as England manager should not undermine the wider point). Managers are expendable. Rejigging squads takes time and money and huge amounts of effort in terms of research and recruitment, whereas anybody can look at who is doing well in Portugal or Greece or the Championship and spy a potential messiah. Then there are the structural factors, the underlying economic issues it is often preferable to ignore because to acknowledge them is to accept how little agency the people we shout about every week really have in football. …”
Guardian: Jonathan Wilson
Man United 5-1 Leeds – Tactical Analysis – Pogba’s Masterclass
YouTube: actical Analysis : Manchester United 5 – 1 Leeds United | Solskjaer’s Tactics vs Bielsa


Cox: How Nuno repeated Tuchel’s trick by using narrow attack to beat Manchester City

August 17, 2021


Manchester City’s 2021-22 started in the same way their 2020-21 ended — with a 1-0 defeat. Sunday’s loss at Tottenham wasn’t as disheartening as their defeat by Chelsea in the European Cup final, but there was a common pattern in how their opponents set up without possession. Although the 3-4-3 of Thomas Tuchel was different to the 4-3-3 used by Nuno Espirito Santo in his first game as Spurs manager, it’s worth looking at the positioning of the front three. In Porto, Tuchel evidently told his three attackers to remain in narrow positions and block any passes through the centre of the pitch, as shown below, which largely hampered City’s build-up play — particularly their ability to feed the ball into the centre of midfield. …”
The Athletic
Tottenham 1-0 Man City – Tactical Analysis – Nuno’s First Game
The Stats: Who was Tottenham’s biggest threat? Why didn’t City score? Do either need Kane?
YouTube: Tactical Analysis: Tottenham 1-0 Manchester City |How City’s Best Tactic Was Their Biggest Weakness|


Player Analysis: Noni Madueke

August 14, 2021


“As if the new generation of English footballers isn’t already special enough, another budding winger is starting to make serious waves with PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch Eredivisie. Most young players who come up in Premier League academies either break into the first team at their respective clubs or end up being sold to a championship side and other top leagues but rarely opt to completely try to make a name for themselves in a foreign league from the get-go. With Noni Madueke, that has been the case. At the time the decision may have seemed a bit rash, but at 19 the venture to take a different path is starting to pay dividends for the young starlet as he looks to have cemented a starting spot in PSV’s vastly talented team ahead of their 2021/22 campaign.  In the summer of 2018, he signed a three-year contract and hasn’t looked back. Upon his arrival, Noni played a single season with the youth team before taking the next step into the Eerste Divisie (Dutch First Division). …”
Breaking The Lines
W – Noni Madueke


Blunt going forward, weak at the back – dissecting Arsenal’s defeat at Brentford

August 14, 2021


“Despite getting their first semi-proper pre-season under Mikel Arteta, Arsenal began the 2021-22 Premier League season as they ended the last, struggling to penetrate in the final third and unable to dominate defensively. They failed to match Brentford in their first game in the top flight since a 1-0 loss to Arsenal in May 1947. … His glare was caught by the TV cameras and it was justified. Arsenal did not show what was necessary to take anything back to north London. Neither in attack, nor in defence did Arsenal assert themselves. To some extent, with very young players leading the charge. that is understandable. But those more senior players who could guide the youngsters did not do that job. Here is where it went wrong. …”
The Athletic
Did you just fall in love with Brentford? Quick, learn the basics on Toney, Canos, Frank and the rest


Brentford 2-0 Arsenal: Jubilation for Bees as fans return for victory over Gunners

August 13, 2021


“The charismatic Dane, a cult figure loved by Brentford fans after ending their 74-year wait for top-tier status, need not have bothered. Brentford’s followers needed no encouragement or orchestration to lift the decibel levels to deafening on a memorable, emotional occasion for a great old club and its fiercely loyal and fervent fanbase. The stage was set hours before kick-off as fans, finally allowed to fill this modern stadium to a 16,479 capacity, gathered around Kew Bridge Station and Chiswick roundabout with a sense of anticipation that was almost tangible. And expectations were fulfilled in 90 minutes Brentford fans will never forget, ending with the chant of ‘we’re top of the league’ (which of course, they are) after a fully merited 2-0 win over Arsenal. …”
BBC
BBC: Brentford 2 – 0 Arsenal
“This was the perfect start” – Five things learned as Brentford sting Arsenal 2-0 to kick-off the new Premier League season
Guardian: Canós and Nørgaard sink Arsenal to give Brentford dream start
Guardian: Arteta’s Arsenal already on back foot after bruising first night failure
YouTube: Sergi Canos blasts Brentford in front of Arsenal


How Vienna coffee houses gave rise to a new era of intellectualism in football

August 11, 2021


Cafe Griensteidl in Wien
“The intellectual scene in football has taken a sharp upturn with the emergence of quality publications over the last half a decade that fearlessly delve into the niche and fascinating aspects of the game that may otherwise be overlooked. Alongside this, the rise of social media has allowed us to engage more intimately with tactical theoreticians and pundits, giving our understanding of the game’s nuances a chance to thrive. Essentially, we know more about football than ever before. It’s hard to imagine that we could trace the emergence of this facet of football culture all the way back to interwar Vienna’s coffee houses. It was here that the game became an intellectual pursuit, not just a sport, and it helped give rise to one of the most ephemerally wonderful international sides of all time. As well as being a movement about the unrelenting desire for growth and development, it was also one marred by tragedy. …”
These Football Times
Coffee Houses of Vienna: Birthplace of Intelligent Football – Jonathan Wilson
Coffee House rules – how football was shaped in Vienna’s cafes
BBC – Dancing over the edge: Vienna in 1914


‘He’s electric’: Spurs land a fearless, old-school winger in Bryan Gil

August 9, 2021


“The way the story is told at Sevilla, the first time Bryan Gil turned up at the club’s training ground, one November evening when he was 11, they put him up against the biggest, strongest, hardest kid they could find. That would show how good he really was. Tall and blond, they called the kid The Russian, after Dolph Lundgren’s character in Rocky IV. His name actually was Iván too, and although he was Leiva not Drago, from Málaga rather than Siberia, he was an intimidating figure. Bryan took him apart. Sevilla’s academy director, Pablo Blanco, recalls the story, returning later with a team picture, the two boys by then on the same side. There’s something in the legend: The Russian is twice the size of the rest. …”
Guardian
Bryan Gil (pronounced Hill) – Spurs’ new signing is fearless, direct and similar to Grealish
W – Bryan Gil


Rodrigo de Paul: La Liga Player Watch

August 8, 2021


“Rodrigo de Paul cost Atlético Madrid a fee of £30m when they tempted him back to Spain from Udinese with the offer of a five-year contract and the opportunity to work under fellow Argentinian Diego Simeone. Like Simeone once was, De Paul is established in midfield for Argentina, and has experience of playing for some of Italy’s and – in Valencia – Spain’s biggest clubs. Aged 27 when he moved in July 2021, he is, typically for one of Simeone’s signings, a player in his prime. ‘I’ll enjoy being under his command because I grew up watching him play with Argentina’s national team,’ said De Paul, an influential figure in the team that won the 2021 Copa America. …”
Coaches Voice (Video)
How Rodrigo de Paul Will Fit Into Atlético Madrid
W – Rodrigo de Paul


Introducing ‘expected threat’ (or xT), the new metric on the block

August 8, 2021


“By this point, you’ve probably heard of the term expected goals (or xG). If not, familiarise yourself. It’s the poster-boy of the football analytics movement, going from being included in the box-score on shows such as Match of the Day and Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football to shaping how those within the game think about chance creation. It even influences scouting and recruitment. It’s become something of a meme too, with Brighton’s well-documented gap between goals and xG dominating the discourse for Graham Potter’s side in 2020-21. …”
The Athletic


Why Julian Nagelsmann could unlock Alphonso Davies’ potential at Bayern Munich

August 7, 2021


“With Julian Nagelsmann to take over from Hansi Flick as Bayern Munich head coach, many players will be wondering what the young tactical genius has planned for them at the Allianz Arena. One of those is Alphonso Davies, whose potential could be fully unlocked by the incoming coach. Having swept the board with trophies in the last year or so, it’s easy to forget that Davies is still only 20 and very much in the infancy of his career. … That could come sooner rather than later with one of the best tactical innovators in world football taking over the Bayern helm for 2021/22. First, let’s look at what Nagelsmann does with his current RB Leipzig team, and in particular his primary man on the left wing, Angelino. …”
Bundesliga (Video)
YouTube: What Nagelsmann Brings To Bayern Munich | Nagelsmann’s Potential Bayern Tactics (Aug. 6, 2021), Potential Line Up 2021 ft Julian Nagelsmann with formation 3-5-2
Julian Nagelsmann: Coach Watch (Video)
W – Julian Nagelsmann


Gregg Berhalter’s Plan for American Men’s Soccer Is Working

August 3, 2021


Some two dozen players sat in neat rows of chairs and peered at the projector screen in front of them, waiting for the tracksuited man to start the meeting. ‘I’m Gregg Berhalter, head coach,’ he announced, as if anybody in the room didn’t already know it. So began Berhalter’s first training camp in charge of the United States men’s national soccer team in January 2019. He paced around the room as he spoke, holding a marker in one hand and scraps of paper in the other. He smiled a lot but spoke seriously. …”
The Ringer
W – Gregg Berhalter


The Names Heard Long Ago: How the Golden Age of Hungarian Soccer Shaped the Modern Game – Jonathan Wilson

August 2, 2021


“Jonathan Wilson’s eleventh book, The Names Heard Long Ago: How The Golden Age of Hungarian Football Shaped The Modern Game, once again sees the celebrated journalist and author delving into a fascinating part of football history, meticulously detailed, thoroughly researched, as one would expect from the architect of the football fanatic’s Bible, Inverting The Pyramid. The Names Heard Long Ago explores the revolutionary concepts found in early 20th Century Hungarian football and the subsequent spread of ideas, tactics and characters around the globe, often granting unprecedented success in the far-reaching countries in which they were adopted, and still found in the game today. It illuminates names of once-great teams MTK and Ferencváros, characters who had a profound influence on the game such as Béla Guttman, Dori Kürschner, and Imre Hirschl. …”
How 20th Century Hungarian Football Influenced The Game We Love Today
amazon


No fanfare: Raphaël Varane’s Manchester United arrival is typically low-key

July 31, 2021


“In the 10 years since Raphaël Varane joined Real Madrid, he hasn’t done much. Apart from win the Copa del Rey, three league titles and four European Cups. There’s the World Cup, too; 360 games at the biggest club of all, and 79 more for France. But that’s about it. In his first clásico, a Copa del Rey semi-final at the Camp Nou, he cleared one chance one off the line, stopped Lionel Messi taking another and scored a superb header; in the second leg he scored again, taking Madrid to the final. He was 19, and it was all downhill from there. Varane is 28 now, has racked up 18 winners’ medals, and has gone. …”
Guardian
Raphael Varane to Manchester United: The deal that even surprised the club and what to expect for the player and his team-mates
W – Raphaël Varane
YouTube: Raphaël Varane Welcome to Manchester United


The Athletic’s football analytics glossary: explaining xG, PPDA, field tilt and how to use them

July 30, 2021


“Our use of data and statistics has been ever-growing within the articles that we write at The Athletic, drawing upon different metrics to highlight strengths, weaknesses, or patterns observed in a certain team or player. Some of these analytics metrics will be very familiar to you by now, while others might need a little bit more explanation. Much like the NFL analytics glossary from The Athletic, this is our attempt at explaining some of the most common football metrics and how to use them. So let’s dive in… ”
The Athletic


Football Ideologies: ITALY

July 29, 2021


Federico Chiesa
“As part of our special series on football ideologies, culture and tactics in the European Cup and UEFA Champions League, we sit down with Renzo Ulivieri, President of Italian Football Managers’ Association, and hear from some of the biggest names in the Italian game.”
YouTube: Football Ideologies: ITALY (Feb 14, 2021)  11:45


What to expect from Fabio Paratici, Tottenham’s new Director of Football

July 26, 2021


“… The announcement of Fabio Paratici being hired as Tottenham’s new ‘Managing Director of Football’ starting July 1st was understandably overshadowed, as football and Tottenham news cycles were distracted by Christian Eriksen’s collapse only minutes after the announcement was formally made. However, Fabio Paratici soon made his best attempt to wrest back the attention of Tottenham fans days later by reportedly torpedoing advanced negotiations with Paulo Fonseca to hire the newly available Gennaro Gattuso. …”
SD Nation (Audio)
Guardian – ‘I don’t know when he sleeps’: the workaholic world of Fabio Paratici
Fabio Paratici – the story of the man who has hired Nuno and is Tottenham’s future
W – Fabio Paratici
YouTube: “We are all looking forward to getting started.”


Chelsea Tactical Analysis: Thomas Tuchel vs Previous Managers

July 25, 2021


“Thomas Tuchel’s entry into the Premier League as Frank Lampard’s replacement is seen with a lot of hope by the Chelsea faithful. Tuchel is a coach who has proven himself at the highest level and has managed the very best in the business over his last four stints. The German manager is an out-and-out football coach and he works quite intricately with the teams he has managed and the personnel he has worked with. … Antonio Conte would deploy a three-man defense with two wide centre-backs. The wing-backs would shuttle up and down the flanks. They’d join in attack and that’s why Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses were a hit under the Italian’s tutelage. Now, Tuchel has taken a bit of both worlds and fused them together into a system that has worked like a charm so far. …”
sportskeeda (Feb 2021)
YouTube: The Difference Between Tuchel & Conte’s 3-4-3 | Tuchel’s Tactics vs Conte’s Tactics (July 2021)
W – Thomas Tuchel, W – Antonio Conte
Thomas Tuchel – Chelsea – Tactical Analysis (March 2021)
Kante’s renaissance: How Tuchel restored him to role he starred in under Ranieri and Conte (May 2021)


Player Analysis: Dembo Darboe

July 21, 2021


“The stench of brutal police intervention at anti-Lukashenko protests around Belarus festered long after the protests themselves, clouding opinions worldwide of the former Soviet republic. Once that became old news, plans to assassinate the much-maligned dictator emerged and were quickly foiled by his friends at the FSB. And last but not least, the fiasco at ten-thousand feet saw a Belarusian fighter jet force a Ryanair plane to land in Minsk so that Belarus could detain a pair of well-known activists, despite having no right but plenty of creedence. 2020 and 2021 have not been kind to Belarus, but as famously said, ‘no publicity is bad publicity.’ Belarus’s football scene saw a mini-boost in popularity when it was the sole league operating during the worldwide spring lockdown of 2020 though the attention was sadly short-lived as it dispersed as soon as the announcements of EPL and Bundesliga reopenings emerged. …”
Breaking The Lines (Video)


How America Is Producing Great Players | How USA Revolutionized Their Youth System

July 19, 2021


“Why is America suddenly becoming a football force?”
Football Made Simple: July 18, 2021 (Video)

“Why are MLS clubs getting paid for U.S. talent going to Europe, but not the youth teams that played a part in their development? (Sep 2020): … The reason why FCD was left empty handed was that for decades the U.S. Soccer Federation, for a variety of reasons, opted not to adhere to RSTP. When MLS was getting players from the college ranks, or on free transfers from abroad, this didn’t matter so much. But now that MLS was investing tens of millions of dollars every year in youth academies, it either wanted to see something in return for its investment or scare off foreign clubs from poaching their youth players and keep said prospects for themselves. …”
ESPN


Player Analysis: Kalvin Phillips

July 18, 2021


“In their first Premier League match in 16 years, with a breathtaking match against defending champions Liverpool, Leeds United have shown that they came to play football with love and fill the hearts of the spectators with the beauty of football. Leeds’s free-flowing football, holding the ball possession and constant attack gave immense rejoicing to the crowds. Leeds finished ninth in the table after displaying entertaining football. Where the other two teams Fulham and West Brom promoted with them became relegated to the second division. This success of Leeds owes to the contribution of several players in the team. …”
Breaking The Lines
W – Kalvin Phillips
My game in my words. By England and Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips (June 2020)(Video)
YouTube: Why Kalvin Phillips was England’s best player


Pep Lijnders’ Euro 2020 tactical diary: A young genius, why Grealish is dangerous and what went wrong for France

July 17, 2021


“Euro 2020 has been an absolute triumph for the collective. I’ve loved watching it every step of the way. I’ve loved the commitment of so many teams to an attacking style of football. I’ve loved the tactical battles between different systems. I’ve loved the sight of supporters back inside stadiums across Europe and the atmospheres that have been generated. Credit to England and Italy for making it this far. They deserve to be there. I wouldn’t bet on the outcome of Sunday’s final. It’s too close to call. Two evenly matched, well-balanced teams. …”
The Athletic (Audio)


How statuesque Donnarumma made it so hard for England’s penalty takers

July 13, 2021


“From the moment the referee blew his whistle to when Marcus Rashford finally made his first move to begin his run-up on England’s third kick of the Euro 2020 final penalty shootout, 11 seconds had passed. For the entirety of those 11 seconds, Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma stood like a statue, his feet wide apart and his arms loose at his sides, as everyone else in Wembley Stadium held their breath. Rashford then swung his body to his left and made a stuttering approach while Donnarumma waited, waited, and waited even more. It wasn’t until right before the England attacker made contact with the ball that Donnarumma finally made his first move. During the entirety of his approach, Rashford kept his eyes on the goalkeeper, waiting for Donnarumma to dive early, but he never did. …”
The Athletic
“An impassable brick wall” – Player ratings after a defensive battle as Italy beat England 3-2 on penalties to win Euro 2020
Breaking The Lines
YouTube: Tactical Analysis : England 1 – 1 Italy | How Mancini won the Euros


Breaking down England’s penalty heartbreak: At 10.49pm, Maguire slashes penalty home. At 10.54pm, everything changes

July 12, 2021


“It’s brutal sometimes, football. One by one, the players went to Bukayo Saka. They told him it would be OK, that they were proud of him, and that he should be proud of himself, too. They told him there was no blame and, even as they were saying it, they must have known their words made little difference. Maybe, in time, Saka will come to understand that, yes, he ought to be proud he played with such distinction during Euro 2020 that he was trusted, at the age of 19, to be part of the penalty shootout which decided the final between England and Italy. For now, though, what can anyone say to console a player who has suffered this kind of professional trauma? …”
The Athletic
NY Times: How Italy Beat England to Win Euro 2020 (Video)
Leaving Euro 2020 – Brian Phillips
BBC: ‘Out of despair, Italy have brought joy to a nation’
NY Times: After Defeat, England’s Black Soccer Players Face a Racist Outburst
Marcus Rashford mural vandalised after England lose Euro 2020 final
Guardian: England battle for survival instead of control as deep-lying issue resurfaces – Jonathan Wilson
W – UEFA Euro 2020 Final
NY Times: In the Big Euro 2020 Game, I Knew the England I Was Rooting For


Italy vs. England – Euro 2020 Final – Tactical Preview

July 10, 2021


4-3-3 Italy
“After the craziness of the Round of 16 resulted in France, Germany and Portugal all being eliminated from the competition, the match that was expected to take place in the Euro 2020 final will now come to fruition. Italy and England have been the two best teams at the tournament, and the only two teams to go unbeaten in all of their games up to this point. Here is a tactical preview of the Euro 2020 final battle between Italy and England. …”
The Mastermindsite
Out wide, substitutions and set-pieces: Where the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy will be won and lost (Video)
YouTube: Tactical Analysis : England vs Italy | Southgate vs Mancini
YouTube: England vs Italy Tactical Preview


Mancini’s Manchester City legacy: messiah, maniac or misunderstood?

July 10, 2021


“If there comes a time on Sunday evening when Roberto Mancini stomps along the Wembley touchline repeatedly shouting, ‘Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you’ at his Italy players, then we can safely say he hasn’t changed much after all. But throughout the summer of Euro 2020, Mancini has cut a far more relaxed figure than the one anybody at former employers Manchester City might remember. The now 56-year-old, tailored jacket slung over his shoulder, is the figurehead of perhaps the most urbane coaching staff ever to grace a football stadium, but more importantly he is the man who has guided Italy from their footballing ‘apocalypse’ — failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup — to the final of this European Championship. …”
The Athletic
Guardian: How Mancini’s quest for joy rebuilt Italy from the wreckage of 2018
BBC: ‘Out of despair, Italy have brought joy to a nation’
W – Roberto Mancini
Esquire: Giorgio Armani, Italian Football and the Perfect Summer Suit


Sterling and Saka lead charge as England throw off old anxieties

July 8, 2021


“Gareth Southgate values control almost above anything else. For England, this has been a tournament about control. He has talked about aping Portugal at Euro 2016 and France at the World Cup, of learning how to manage games. But there are two ways of controlling games. There is controlling games by attacking, as England did with remarkable intensity and consistency between the start of the second half and the end of the first half of extra time, and there is controlling the game as England did in the second half of extra time, keeping the ball away from Denmark with such efficiency that they managed only one touch in the England box in that period. Control, it turns out, doesn’t have to be boring. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson
Pickford’s positioning at fault for Denmark’s clever free-kick and wall routine? It’s not that simple…
Slate: The New Strategy That Put England Into the Euro 2020 Final (Video)
Two footballs, a laser pointer and Sterling’s penalty: The England vs Denmark controversies explained
Tactical Analysis: England vs. Denmark
YouTube: Tactical Analysis: England 2 – 1 Denmark | How Southgate’s Central Overload Prevailed


Italy’s Resurgence Leaves Them on the Cusp of European Glory

July 8, 2021


“The road toward triumph in a major soccer tournament must at some point take the form of an epic quest, and so the manner of Italy’s win over Spain was duly mythical. They defeated their Mediterranean rivals in a penalty shootout, prevailing by four successful kicks to two, and in doing so they showed an astonishing level of resilience. Against Belgium in the previous round, a match many of us thought featured the two best teams at Euro 2020, Italy were supreme for long periods; against Spain, they were thoroughly human. It is hard to imagine a midfield of Marco Verratti, Nicolò Barella, and Jorginho being consistently on the back foot against anyone, but this is what they experienced against Spain, assailed by the often majestic trio of Koke, the swiftly aging but still sublime Sergio Busquets, and, of course, the prodigy that is Pedri. …”
The Ringer
Italy 1-1 Spain – Euro 2020 Semi-Final – Tactical Analysis
Quick Take: Italy’s Shield is the Euro’s Sharpest Sword
Technical view: flying wingers and back-three success
Guardian: Giorgio Chiellini, the grinning warrior, gives Italy psychological edge
YouTube: Tactical Analysis : Italy 1 – 1 Spain | How Enrique Dominated Mancini


No Semifinalist Is an Island

July 6, 2021


“Kalvin Phillips came home, for the first time, as a fully fledged England international with four jerseys as souvenirs. He had asked his new teammates to autograph one, destined to be framed and mounted on a wall at home. Two others were reserved for his mother and grandmother, as tokens of gratitude for years of support. The final one he earmarked as a gift for the man who, he felt, deserved the bulk of the credit. A couple of years earlier, Phillips had been a promising but inconsistent midfielder in the Championship, England’s second-tier league. Now, despite having not yet played a minute in the Premier League, he had been called into a gathering of the country’s finest players. Without the intervention of Marcelo Bielsa, the Leeds United manager, Phillips said, none of it ‘would really have been possible.’ …”
NY Times


How Kasper Hjulmand has united a nation behind Denmark at EURO 2020

July 6, 2021


“… It is hard to believe right now that it has been less than a year since Hjulmand took command, with one of the big surprises in his first Denmark squad being the selection of Joakim Mæhle. The then 23-year-old right-back had limited experience at youth level with Denmark and was playing in Belgium with Genk. Fast forward to July 2021 and Mæhle is one of Denmark’s brightest stars at EURO 2020, an emblem of how the team has moved on since Hjulmand assumed control. A successful Danish league coach with Lyngby and Nordsjælland, Hjulmand should not by rights have been in charge at these finals. …”
UEFA (Video)
From North Florida to national hero: How Kasper Hjulmand became Denmark’s emotional leader (June 25, 2021)
Kasper Hjulmand ‘proud’ of courageous Denmark players (June 12, 2021)
W – Kasper Hjulmand


Verratti, Barella, Jorginho vs Busquets, Pedri, Koke: let battle commence

July 5, 2021


“There was a time when watching Spain gave you whiplash. Your eyes quickly grew tired flitting from player to player hundreds and hundreds of times and you were left feeling sorry for their opponents as they chased the long shadows under the lights at the Bernabeu and the Nou Camp when the ball moved at breakneck speed, fizzing and popping like bubbles in a flute of crisp cava. The midfield was Spain’s strength when they last won the European Championship in 2012 and it’s probably their best chance of winning the competition next Sunday, too. But unlike in Ukraine nine years ago, when Spain did to Italy what Picasso did to his muses, disarranging their profiles beyond all recognition to win the final 4-0, the tables have unexpectedly turned. …”
The Athletic


Will striker shortcomings cost Spain when it matters most?

July 5, 2021


“Spain are into the semi-finals of Euro 2020 – but only just. They needed a penalty shootout to scrape past Switzerland in the quarter-finals, after surviving a scare against Croatia in the last 16. And Spain may be the tournament’s top scorers but could a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal ultimately cost them? Five of their 12 goals came against Slovakia in the group stages and they have played more minutes than any other team left in the competition, after needed extra time twice. In their other three games they have scored only once on each occasion. …”
BBC
YouTube: Tactical Analysis : Spain 1 – 1 Switzerland | How Spain Made It To The Semis


How Italy Has Rampaged Through Euro 2020

July 5, 2021


“The new-look Italy has survived its sternest test. Since Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, manager Roberto Mancini has rebuilt the national team by emphasizing quick passing, high pressing, and, most of all, goals. The culture shift has worked better than anyone could have dreamed. Italy was on a 31-game unbeaten streak going into Friday’s match against Belgium. The advanced numbers approved of its form; the eye test liked its cohesion and the speed with which it drove at the goal after forcing turnovers. Italy flooded opposing nets during the streak, scoring four, five, six, seven, and nine goals at various times. It was the complete opposite of the dour, boring Italy teams that had earned reputations for defensive cynicism and attacking opportunism for generations. …”
Slate (Video)


Tactical Analysis: Czech Republic vs. Denmark

July 4, 2021


“First off, it would be appropriate to finally bury the common narrative that this Danish team has made it this far into the Euros as a response to the Eriksen situation. Apart from being almost cynical in nature, that argument does Kasper Hjulmand’s side a huge disservice. Denmark are very, very good. They overcame an extremely difficult group thanks to a valiant, relentless display in a 4-1 win, then they steamrolled a Welsh team that looked solid in defense to set up this quarterfinal game against an odds-defying Czech side. And, with their 2-1 win, they once again proved to be an adventurous unit, with flying wingbacks who create overloads and find pockets of space (as shown by Joakim Maehle’s deep run and exquisite trivela cross to set up Kasper Dolberg for the second goal). …”
Beaking the Lines
Tactical Analysis: Belgium vs. Italy
Tactical Analysis: Switzerland vs. Spain


Euro 2020: Denmark continue to show they’re no underdogs, even without Eriksen

July 3, 2021


“There might be a temptation to think Denmark are riding a wave of goodwill at these European Championships after the world watched Christian Eriksen collapse on the pitch three weeks ago, but their run to the semifinals of Euro 2020 is being driven by more than just destiny and fairytale. There was nothing mysterious about their 2-1 win over Czech Republic on Saturday. Denmark are good players, well coached by Kasper Hjulmand, and are able to score goals of high quality and equally defend with grit. Denmark are ranked as the 10th best team in the world for a reason. …”
ESPN (Video)
Guardian: Denmark’s Euro 2020 run is built on class and coaching, not just team spirit