The Ten Commandments of Gegenpressing


“Space is critical in football, give your opponent too much of it, and you get punished; make the best of little space or try to profit from little space, and you might get rewarded with a goal. This creates a problem for every manager, irrespective of the philosophical divide: how do I limit and control my opponent’s use of space with and without the ball? To this end, Gegenpressing is a tantalizing option; Gegenpressing (counter-pressing) is simply winning the ball immediately after losing possession. The opposition’s intention after getting the ball is to start a counter; hence their defensive organisation is broken, leaving them vulnerable because their players are quite apart in the quest to score a goal. …”
Breaking the Lines
What is Gegenpressing and how it evolved into one of the most revolutionary tactics in modern football?
The Athletic: Liverpool are the masters of chaos – and the polar opposite of Manchester City
YouTube: What is Gegenpressing?

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Premier League managers and referees: ‘What sort of message does this send?’

“After Jurgen Klopp was sent off in Liverpool’s ill-tempered 1-0 win over Manchester City last weekend, Dr Tom Webb posted an image on Twitter similar to the one above of the Liverpool manager screaming at assistant referee Gary Beswick. ‘What sort of message does this send to people watching?’ wrote Webb, who co-ordinates the Referee and Match Official Research Network. ‘It’s images like this that make people think #referees are fair game… ‘if coaches and players in the Premier League are doing it, then it must be OK’… it isn’t and it certainly won’t help the trend of referee #abuse.’ …”
The Athletic

Liverpool vs Manchester City deconstructed: The bitterness, the briefings ⁠– and what’s next

“At 27 minutes past six on Sunday evening, Anthony Taylor blew his whistle at Anfield to bring the curtain down on Liverpool’s thrilling and tempestuous 1-0 victory over the reigning Premier League champions Manchester City. But the drama was only just beginning. The game itself was action-packed. Jurgen Klopp was sent to the stands after exploding in fury at the non-award of a foul and Pep Guardiola said members of the Anfield crowd threw coins at him while he was watching the game from the touchline. …”
The Athletic

Football has elevated time-wasting into a sophisticated art form

“As a pastime, or indeed lifestyle, time-wasting is undervalued. To do nothing takes real imagination; to produce nothing requires a strong moral core. The idle person does not, among other things, perform unnecessary cosmetic surgery or release an album of swing covers. The most courageous way of experiencing time is through inaction – to remain quite still and feel the minutes crawl across the face. Time-wasting in football, however, is the preserve of knaves and shysters. …”
Guardian

Liverpool’s unmovable Van Dijk shows Haaland is a stoppable force


Virgil van Dijk puffed out his cheeks and wrapped his arms around Joe Gomez. Mohamed Salah may have been Liverpool’s match-winner but this enthralling 1-0 triumph over Manchester City was built on firm foundations. Van Dijk has found himself in uncharted territory this season. His crown as the most complete centre-back in world football has slipped. As Liverpool’s defensive vulnerability has been repeatedly exposed, his form has been held up as a symptom of the team’s decline. There have been uncharacteristic errors and accusing fingers pointing in his direction. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic: Liverpool vs Manchester City and a dearth of proper wide options

Salah shines as Klopp earns tactical triumph amid his touchline theatrics


“Towards the end of this thrilling, slightly wild afternoon at Anfield, Jürgen Klopp could be seen with his arms outspread, a tableau of pathos, disbelief, astonishment, bewildered to find himself handed a red card by Anthony Taylor and sent from his touchline. As Klopp whirled away, almost sprinting from pitchside, air‑guitaring wildly, still barking and yelping and pointing, it was hard to disagree with his look of stunned surprise. This made no sense at all. How exactly had Klopp managed to last 85 minutes out there? …”
Guardian (Video)
SI: Liverpool Proves It Has Plenty of Fight Left in Drama-Filled Win Over Man City – Jonathan Wilson
BBC – Liverpool 1-0 Man City: ‘Why Liverpool had to wait for Joe Gomez to get back to his best’ – Martin Keown analysis
Liverpool 1-0 Man City: Player ratings as magic Salah fires Reds to win
Liverpool vs. Manchester City score: Mohamed Salah nets winner at Anfield as Jurgen Klopp sees red (Video)
Guardian: Klopp’s reliance on the undroppables reveals Liverpool’s soft underbelly

Every 2022-23 Premier League third kit rated

“Yes, we’re into the second half of October but only now can The Athletic rate the good, the bad and the ugly of this season’s Premier League third kits, as it’s taken this long for them all to finally be unveiled. Bizarre colour schemes, tributes to bridges and digital front-graphic panels, third kits are usually a heady cocktail of the experimental and the sublime, and this year is no different. …”
The Athletic

Premier League is asked if it has investigated Manchester City owner over Russia allegations

“The Premier League has been asked to confirm whether it has investigated the billionaire owner of Manchester City Football Club under its ‘fit and proper’ owners’ test, over allegations of helping Russian oligarchs avoid western sanctions after the invasion of Ukraine. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, the deputy prime minister of the UAE and a member of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi, has been accused in media reports of helping to allow rich Russians to evade sanctions by moving their assets, including superyachts and private jets, to the Emirates. …”
Guardian

Manchester United top the table (in paying off departed managers)

“The relentless pursuit of success comes at a cost. For Manchester United, the cost is an estimated £60million spent on sacking managers and their backroom staff since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in May 2013. David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick all received compensation. This financial outlay is more than Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have spent changing their manager in the same 10-year timeframe. …”
The Athletic

Manchester United’s flawed press made life far too easy for City

Manchester City were irresistible in attack throughout their 6-3 victory over Manchester United on Sunday afternoon. They constantly showcased the patterns we’ve come to expect: Kevin De Bruyne overlapping and then crossing, Bernardo Silva dropping deep in midfield and then pushing into the channel, Phil Foden drifting inside from the right, Jack Grealish storming forward from the left, and Erling Haaland banging in the goals. When City work the ball into the final third, they sometimes feel unstoppable. …”
The Athletic – Michael Cox

Watching three Premier League derbies in three days


Arsenal fans make their way to the Emirates from Gillespie Road on derby day
“Super League proposals, globalisation, games potentially being played abroad, the hunger for European football… it’s felt for a while that this might be the future of the game. Ask your typical English football supporter which fixture they first look for in June and chances are they’ll say their team’s local derby. …”
The Athletic

UEFA Champions League Preview: Big clash in Lisbon, while Juventus need a win

“While Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez claims there are too many inconsequential matches, the Champions League group phase pushes ahead with matchday three. Matches that look quite appetising can be found right across Europe, from London to Leipzig to Lisbon. …”
Game of the People

Manchester City played digital football. United are a dial-up version


“… With 44 minutes gone at the Etihad Stadium Manchester City scored a goal that brought the usual cheers and roars, but also something else, the urge to laugh. City had already spent the first half playing football that seemed to have benefited from an operating system upgrade, demonstrating the latest miracle processor against a batch of red-shirted patsies. The move to make it 4-0 was a moment of super-compression, lines cut in a perfect zigzag from outside City’s penalty area to the far left-hand corner of the Manchester United goal without friction or drag or loss of scale. …”
Guardian (Video)
NY Times: How Do You Stop Erling Haaland? You Don’t. (Video)
The Athletic (Video)

The Crisis Clubs: a Weekly Guide to Premier League Turmoil

“In case you hadn’t noticed, each week the Premier League has a specific team in crisis. Bad form, shock results, poor management, unforced errors; some or all of these factors can plunge one of the division’s 20 sides into momentary turmoil, transforming them into the main character in Premier League narrative for that week. More often than not the crisis club will be a member of the Big Six but not always and, no matter who it is, the next set of fixtures will invariably throw up a new team to take up the crisis mantle, and the nation’s attention will pivot instantly to the league’s new whipping boys for the week. Here, then, is an ongoing guide to the Premier League’s crisis clubs in 2022-23. …”
The Analyst

Premier League Big Six – when did they have their best days?

“Over the past few years, we have supposedly seen the ‘best ever’ club sides in the Premier League and even Europe. When Liverpool and Manchester City went head-to-head in 2019, some were quick to proclaim them the greatest of all time, but in 2019-20, City fell short and a year later, Liverpool’s defence of their Premier crown was rather tepid. The real test of a great team is consistency over a period of time and both of these clubs have shown they have that quality. …”
Game of the People

“Cup Sides”: Do they exist?

“Some sites are just good, right? They’re in the race for the most trophies most years, and while they invariably meet some disappointment along the way, the pots and pans usually start to pile up. Now think of Manchester City or Manchester United under Alex Fergurson or Liverpool in the 1970s and 1980s. However, other teams seem to do better as pure cup sides. A look back to the 1970s and 1980s and a look at the two major domestic cup competitions seems to confirm this. If we start our last ‘ah, those were the days’ in 1970 and look at that decade’s FA Cup competition, for example, we see certain teams with a distinct ‘cup pedigree’. …”
UK Daily

Champions League: Michael Cox’s tactical guide to this season’s leading contenders

“Judging by the bookmakers’ odds, there are eight sides who stand a decent chance of winning this season’s European Cup. Broadly speaking, they look familiar from last season — few clubs have undergone a dramatic overhaul in terms of their starting XI and only one of these eight clubs appointed a new manager in the summer. If you haven’t watched any of the favourites since last season, here’s the lowdown on their approaches for 2022-23. …”
The Athletic

Money to Burn: Lessons From the Premier League’s Transfer Window

“… This is what the Premier League does every year, of course: Every summer, and most winters, its clubs descend on Europe, the cash from infinitely spiraling television deals burning a hole in their pockets, and proceed to hose an entire continent with money. They swamp it, they flood it, they drown it with their wealth. And then, at the end of August, they go home, armed with a few more Brazilian playmakers and Swedish strikers, ready to play the games that will earn the money for them to do it all over again in a few months. …”
NY Times

The Earliest Premier League Sackings

“News broke just before 9am on Tuesday morning that Bournemouth had fired their manager Scott Parker, only four games into the 2022-23 season. The man who had stylishly guided the club back into the top-flight saw his side lose 9-0 at Liverpool on Saturday and, unlike Ralph Hasenhüttl, who has survived not one but two 9-0 defeats as Southampton boss, Parker has been dispensed with before September, reportedly more because of differing views on Bournemouth’s transfer strategy than the Anfield shellacking. Either way, Parker’s departure is one of the earliest in Premier League history, but which unfortunate managers have been sacked even earlier into the season? Read on to find out. …”

Real Madrid & the Role of Tactics at Elite Teams

Does a team need a complex tactical structure to be elite? In recent times we have seen complex tactical approaches from managers and clubs like Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and even Julian Nagelsmann’s Bayern Munich. But does a club need one to be successful? Real Madrid would argue not. Jon Mackenzie explains, Marco Bevilacqua illustrates.
YouTube

Is this the worst Premier League foul ever?

“Some fouls leave you wincing. Some are debatable. And some leave players with lasting damage. The Premier League is widely regarded as the most competitive league in the world, so naturally, there have been some hefty challenges. But which is the worst foul committed in the Premier League? Seb Stafford-Bloor writes. Philippe Fenner.”
YouTube

What the Champions League Is Lacking


“PARIS — There will be stories, of course. There are always stories. The Champions League delivers them so frequently and so reliably that it is impossible to dismiss the nagging suspicion that all of this might just be scripted, the product of some complex simulation being run from a secret lair in Nyon. Robert Lewandowski, clad in the blue and red of Barcelona, will return to Bayern Munich, only a few weeks after forcing his exit. Manchester City’s visit to Borussia Dortmund will see Erling Haaland standing once more before its Yellow Wall, that great force of nature no longer at his back but marshaled in his face. …”
NY Times
The Athletic: Champions League draw analysed – The biggest games, the shocks in store, the toughest groups

Premier League at 30: How football has changed


“‘Football didn’t start in 1992.’ It did not, but it did change forever. Next week marks the 30th anniversary of the Premier League replacing the Football League First Division at the top of the English football tree. Here is what has happened in those 30 years and how the Premier League and the world has changed. …”
BBC (Video)

The Evolution of Goalkeeper Passing in 30 Years of the Premier League

“The Premier League kicked off 30 years ago today and Manchester United’s only goal in their infamous 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United was assisted by goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel. The iconic Dane would end that season having created as many goals as Ian Rush and Paul Ince, and in the first top-flight season to contain the new back-pass rule, nearly every goalkeeper concentrated his efforts on getting rid of the ball as hard and fast as possible; the nation echoed to the sound of pumped and thumped Mitre Deltas. 30 years on and David De Gea’s ongoing issues with playing short passes to his defenders was one of the main factors behind Manchester United suffering a humiliating 4-0 defeat to Brentford on Saturday. No position has evolved more than the goalkeeper in these transformative three decades and here are some illustrations to show how. …”
The Analyst

Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

“… 3) Hammers looking to find rhythm. David Moyes was in no mood to deliberate after West Ham slipped to a second successive defeat, though it was not for the want of trying at Nottingham Forest; they had a goal disallowed, twice hit the underside of the crossbar and Declan Rice saw a penalty saved. Moyes said he hopes their Europa Conference League playoff first leg at home to Viborg on Thursday will help them establish some rhythm after a disappointing start. …”
Guardian

Why the through ball is becoming a dying art in European football


“The number of through balls in the UEFA Champions League dropped 50 per cent between the 2018-19 and 2021-22 seasons. In Europe’s top five leagues, the number of through balls dropped on average 30 per cent over the same period. In the Europa League, it dropped 24 per cent. The through ball is not extinct, but it is endangered.Before examining why, we need to define the term. FBref data define a through ball as a: ‘Completed pass sent between the back defenders into open space.’ It is a complex pass to complete, hence the number of through balls is never particularly high and is in fact lower than the goals-per-game total in Europe’s top divisions. …”
The Athletic (Video)

What you may have missed on the Premier League’s opening weekend


“The Premier League is back — and it was a dramatic opening weekend with promoted Fulham holding would-be champions Liverpool to a draw, Erling Haaland scoring two goals on debut for Manchester City and Manchester United losing at home, with Cristiano Ronaldo starting the visit of Brighton on the bench. But away from the main talking points, our The Athletic staff have picked out some of things you may have missed from the first round of 10 matches. Let us know what you spotted in the comments section below. …”
The Athletic

Haaland made clever runs but Nunez gave lesson in how to attack space in behind


“… Pep Guardiola was not concerned about the chances new Manchester City signing Erling Haaland missed, but was instead glad with the positions he occupied in the first place. Missing big chances on his debut in the Community Shield put Haaland in the spotlight. Yet there’s more to dissect in Haaland’s performance against Liverpool than those spurned opportunities. Guardiola was right about Haaland being there, but sometimes the service on Saturday from his City teammates was poor. Such as this moment below when Haaland bends his body to maintain an onside position, waiting for a pass from Kevin De Bruyne that does not come. …”
The Athletic

How Manchester City used their narrow full-backs to control midfield against West Ham

“‘They were so good. Tactically, they completely outdid us today.’ West Ham United manager David Moyes was so impressed with Manchester City’s performance against his club yesterday that he spent half of his post-match press conference talking about Pep Guardiola’s side. Specifically, their narrow full-backs. …”
The Athletic

The Ted Lasso fan’s guide to the Premier League: Your starting point for the 2022-23 season


“We’re not sure when Ted Lasso’s third and (maybe) final season will drop, but it’s never too early to start preparing for how you’ll fill the void once it ends — and this week provides the perfect opportunity. AFC Richmond won promotion back up to the Premier League at the end of the show’s second season, but the real thing kicks off on Friday for another year with plenty of comedy and drama of its own. So if you’re one of the many Ted Lasso fans who haven’t gotten invested in the real-life Premier League just yet, now’s the time to dive in — if only so you’ll be prepared for all the new details sure to be included in season three. Ted Lasso’s landmark licensing deal with the Premier League means lines between the two will be blurred more than ever when it does return. …”
The Athletic (Video)
BBC – Premier League 2022-23: Everything you need to know as new season starts (Video)
NY Times: They Got to the Premier League. Staying? That’s the Hard Part.

Predicting the transfer market: Nunez, Haaland and league exchange rates


“It was hardly surprising that at least three of the Premier League’s leading clubs were interested and, ultimately, that one of them ended up taking the plunge. The striker had scored freely in his domestic league, was a good age and, on the face of it, had all the attributes — physical in particular but technical too — to succeed in England. … Either way, it is interesting to cast your eye down the table below and wonder what the numbers will look like for Manchester City’s Erland Haaland and Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez — the Premier League’s two biggest imports this summer — at the end of their first season in England. Nunez came off the bench to score in Saturday’s Community Shield victory whereas Haaland missed a sitter late on, but how will their contribution be viewed in May next year? …”
The Athletic (Video)

Salah and Núñez seal Community Shield glory as Liverpool sink Manchester City

“As an augury of the 2022-23 season Liverpool will be the happier as Jürgen Klopp’s side already appear a slick team ready for serious combat. Manchester City do not. Pep Guardiola was hardly concerned about losing this first ever Community Shield staged in July but may scrutinise how Erling Haaland was near-anonymous throughout as this, despite the manager’s post-defeat protestations, disrupted the side’s rhythm. …”
Guardian

Coming This Season: Pep Guardiola 3.0

“Two months on, the euphoria has not yet faded. A few days ago, with the rich promise of a new season drifting into view, Manchester City released ‘Together: Champions Again,’ an official documentary detailing the thrilling, triumphant journey that culminated in Pep Guardiola’s team lifting yet another Premier League trophy last May. …”
NY Times

Premier League owners: Who is in charge of your club?


“With the 2022-23 campaign quickly coming into focus and the summer transfer window in full flow, many Premier League owners are in the spotlight once again. Following the Chelsea takeover and the promotion of Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest, there will be some new faces at the table this season. So, who owns your lot? See below for a breakdown of the ownership structure and board make-up of all 20 Premier League clubs…”
The Athletic

Transferspeak: The 22 stages of a transfer saga

“Transfer sagas are dead. Well, the classic, perfectly-sized sagas of the golden era, anyway. Bit of tapping-up, some balking at the asking price, a cheeky transfer request being slapped in, an 11th-hour hijacking, done deal, ‘as soon as I heard they were interested, there was no other place I wanted to go’. But something weird has happened. Transfers are now taking ages. Or are they? It’s the transfer window’s Muller-Lyer illusion: maybe transfers are just as long as they always were, but something is making them seem more drawn-out. …”
The Athletic

For Manchester City, Selling to Big Six Foes Is of Little Concern

Gabriel Jesus has signed for Arsenal and Raheem Sterling is almost certain to complete his anticipated move to Chelsea in the coming days. Both are intriguing transfers in and of themselves but, together, they represent something very unusual: players rarely move between Big Six Premier League clubs with all parties relatively satisfied with the deal. So what is Manchester City doing in allowing two regular first-team forwards to move to clubs that are, at least to an extent, direct rivals? …”
SI

Premier League five-a-side teams: who would you pick for your club?


“… We tasked our Premier League reporters with picking a five-a-side team from the club that they cover. There are some obvious picks — and some less obvious ones. The rules: *The ball is not allowed over head height  *Slide tackles are forbidden *Each team must have a goalkeeper and they can’t come out of the area *Outfield players are not allowed in the area *They can score from anywhere outside the area. Here we go then. Please feel free to disagree wholeheartedly with their picks in the comments section…”
The Athletic

Darwin Nunez vs Liverpool: Analysing the two games that wowed Klopp


“Darwin Nunez could become the most expensive signing in Liverpool’s history and his journey there has been seven years in the making. It was around 2015 when a Liverpool scout based in South America spotted the young Uruguayan striker playing for Penarol’s under-19s. Since then, Liverpool tracked Nunez’s progress as he went from making his debut in place of ex-Liverpool player Maxi Rodriguez for Penarol in November 2017 to his move to Almeria, in Spain’s second division, in 2019. …”
The Athletic (Video)
W – Darwin Núñez
NY Times: Soccer Rediscovers the No. 9
W – Erling Haaland

The Dust Settles: The Biggest Changes in Stats Perform’s Power Rankings Over the Course of this Season


“So that’s that. Another season in the books. Lots happened, but in some ways, lots stayed the same. As tends to happen, European football’s hierarchy tightened their stranglehold on silverware. Real Madrid, the very definition of footballing heritage, won their record 35th La Liga title and a 14th European Cup/Champions League. Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain continued their domestic league dominance. Elsewhere, it was a renaissance season for AC Milan, who won their first Scudetto in 11 years and returned to the Champions League for the first time since 2013-14. Forty-two years after winning the UEFA Cup in 1980, Eintracht Frankfurt won the famous trophy again, beating Rangers in the Europa League final. …”
The Analyst

Elano: ‘It’s not money, it’s passion. It has made me see how beautiful football is’


“The former Brazil international Elano spent a glamorous 15-year playing career with teams such as Santos, Manchester City, Grêmio, Flamengo and Shakhtar Donetsk. High wages, powerful club infrastructures and stadiums packed with vibrant fans seemed worthy reward for the midfielder’s accurate passes and tackles, and his calming, reassuring presence. …”
Guardian
W – Elano

Premier League winners and losers: set pieces, sprinting, nutmegging and fouling


“Manchester City are champions, Tottenham Hotspur grabbed the final Champions League spot and Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min share the golden boot trophy. The main prizes have now been handed out, but take a look under the bonnet and there are plenty of alternative awards to be handed out to players and teams. Some of them are insightful, some of them are utterly pointless. All of them are fun. Here we go… ”
The Athletic
The Analyst
Guardian – Premier League 2021-22 season review: our writers’ best and worst
***ESPN: How VAR decisions affected every Premier League club in 2021-22 (Video)
***W – 2021–22 Premier League

Kevin De Bruyne: Peaking at the Perfect Time


“Three of Manchester City’s five previous Premier League triumphs have gone right to the wire, where margins are so fine the title battle can be settled by a single man in a single moment. Sergio Aguero of course set the standard in 2011-12 with surely the most iconic goal of the Premier League era, defeating QPR at the death and clinching a first City championship in 44 years. Then, in 2018-19, it was Vincent Kompany’s turn. Although the departing City captain made only 17 league appearances that year, he will forever be associated with the title win after his thunderous strike secured a vital late-season victory over Leicester City. …”
The Analyst

Ranked: The top 10 defensive midfielders in the Premier League


“Defensive midfield is one of the most underrated and undervalued positions in modern football. These pivots are so often crucial to the success of their teams but can so often be overlooked for individual recognition, or in Manchester United’s case just overlooked entirely from the squad. So we’ve looked over the 2021/22 Premier League season and, taking into account the players enduring class in the years prior as well as their performances this season, come up with a list of the 10 best defensive midfielders in the Premier League. …”
squawka

Introducing playstyle wheels – The Athletic’s way of capturing ways a team play well (or not)


“There are a lot of numbers in football that measure success. Goals and points are the original analytics, and newer stats such as expected goals and possession value are just increasingly fine-grained ways to model how likely goals are to happen. They’ll give you the bottom line: is this team or player doing things that help put the ball in the net or keep it out? Basically, are they good at football? It’s harder to measure how they’re good at football. …”
The Athletic

Sean Dyche, Ulla Klopp and whoever saves Everton: Who deserves a statue at your Premier League club?


“Ten years on from ‘Aguerooooooooo!’ and Manchester City’s first Premier League title win, the club yesterday unveiled a statue of their former striker at the Etihad Stadium. Aguero’s iconic stoppage-time winner in their 3-2 victory against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the 2011-12 season will be remembered forever by City fans, so it is only right that he has been immortalised in galvanised steel. But who deserves a statue at your Premier League club? And who will be next at City? We’ve asked our Premier League club reporters to explain their choices and if you think they’ve got it drastically wrong then please let us know in the comment. …”
The Athletic

The Most Decisive Goals in Premier League History


“Today marks 10 years since Aguero. You remember: 93:20. Balotelli’s assist. The Goal That Changed Everything. The Match That Had Everything. Joe Hart on throw-in duties. Joey Barton’s long walk off. A surprisingly iconic QPR away kit. I think Edin Dzeko did something or other. Drink it in. I swear you’ll never see anything like this again. Sometimes goals are so iconic that they don’t need a date or a time. Just a single name. Michael Thomas, Jimmy Glass. Aguero. …”
The Analyst (Video)

Manchester City Had the Money. Haaland’s Team Had the Plan.


“A few days before last summer’s transfer window drew to a close, a handful of Manchester City’s most senior executives gathered in a conference room at the club’s sprawling campus to pick through what had gone right, and what had gone wrong, over the previous couple of months. Though City, the Premier League champion, had succeeded in persuading Aston Villa to relinquish Jack Grealish, the impish playmaker who had emerged as England’s breakout star during the European Championship — making him the most expensive player in English history in the process — it had failed to land its other priority target, the Tottenham striker Harry Kane. …”
NY Times

Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp Era Is Ascending and Shows No Signs of Slowing Down


“It’s a good time to be a Liverpool fan: They reached their third Champions League final in five years following Tuesday’s win over Villarreal, their 63rd game of 2021-22. They’ve played in every possible fixture available this season, they’re in contention to win a historic four trophies, and Jürgen Klopp recently signed a contract extension committing himself to the club until 2026. …”
The Ringer

Futures bets for EPL, Serie A title chases and other tight European races


“The Champions League final is set between Liverpool and Real Madrid, but there are still two incredibly close title races in two of the biggest leagues in Europe. The Premier League and Serie A titles are coming down to the final few weeks. There are also close battles for European places and relegation battles across the top five European leagues. Here’s a look at what’s on the line, the biggest matches to come and how the betting market views the close races in the final few weeks of league play. …”
The Athletic

Outbreaks of chaos expose fatal flaw that keeps denying Guardiola European glory


“At what point does just one of those things become more than just one of those things? If Manchester City’s defeat to Real Madrid on Wednesday night were a one-off, it could be written off. What can you do about luck like that? If you have nine shots on target to the opposition’s none in the first 90 minutes and still lose 2-1 what, really, have you done wrong? Especially when you’ve dominated the first leg as City had done. But this keeps happening. Season after season, Pep Guardiola finds his teams dominating Champions League ties and losing. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Cox: Like Ancelotti, Guardiola got his subs right. There’s not much more he could have done


“Even by the standards of Champions League semi-finals, the most action-packed and dramatic stage of any competition in modern football, Real Madrid’s comeback against Manchester City last night was truly extraordinary. For 85 minutes at the Bernabeu, City were largely faultless and seemed set to record a controlled 1-0 victory that would take them into the final against Liverpool on May 28. Then, suddenly, a late blitz saw the Spanish champions score two goals, both through Rodrygo, and at 5-5 on aggregate, the momentum was with Madrid. It wasn’t a surprise they opened the scoring in extra time, and it wasn’t a surprise that they held out. City were shellshocked. Is it possible to make sense of such a chaotic ending? Let’s see. …”
The Athletic: Michael Cox
Guardian: Systemic flaws of Guardiola’s City keep Champions League out of reach (Video)
NY Times: Real Madrid Stuns City, Seizing the Moment as Only It Can
Guardian: Real Madrid’s latest miracle is a tale of 88 seconds and one Ancelotti video (Video)
The Athletic: Camavinga, Rodrygo, Vinicius: Real Madrid’s big bets on rising stars are paying off

A Clash of Civilizations in the Champions League Semifinal


“It is easy to see a clash between Manchester City and Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinal as the ultimate contrast of footballing cultures: If City are the brash young upstart of European football, then Madrid are its landed gentry. The latter have been crowned its kings on 13 occasions, while the former still await their first European title. Historians might see this as a reductive reading of the situation—as a club, City were actually founded several years before Madrid, but in terms of prestige, the Mancunians are still playing catch-up. The pattern of Tuesday’s first leg, which Manchester City won 4-3, perfectly illustrated this dynamic. …”
The Ringer
NY Times: Superclubs and Spring Nights
Tactical Analysis: Manchester City 4-3 Real Madrid

Manchester City 4-3 Real Madrid: Classic Champions League tie a genuine gold standard match


Kevin de Bruyne opened the scoring after only 93 seconds in an incredible Champions League semi-final first-leg tie
“Carlo Ancelotti’s last visit to Manchester City ended in a 5-0 humiliation in what proved to be the final match of his tenure as Everton manager. When the legendary Italian manager, 62, turned to his Real Madrid backroom staff with arms outstretched and gave an anxious glance down at his watch with City 2-0 up after only 11 minutes on his return to Etihad Stadium, he was probably fearing a similar scoreline. City were flying. Real were overwhelmed. This was shaping up as a one-sided mauling for the great old Champions League campaigner chasing the trophy for a historic fourth time….”
BBC
The Athletic: ‘I always have it in my head’ – the mental strength behind Karim Benzema’s outrageous penalty for Real Madrid
NY Times: A Convincing Win That Was Anything but Convincing
The Athletic: Carlo Ancelotti’s quiet path to redemption at Real Madrid
Guardian: Pep Guardiola urges Manchester City to be more ruthless in Real Madrid return

A Different Kind of Rivalry Defines the Premier League Title Race


“The embrace between Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola two weekends ago at full time of the FA Cup semifinal was more subdued than the theatrical, jump-attack in the Premier League six days before that. Klopp more or less fielded his strongest Liverpool team against a Manchester City side weakened by a punishing midweek Champions League tie against Atlético Madrid. During the FA Cup match, City, who fell 3-0 down, managed to stay in it until the last kick, with Fernandinho blazing any lingering hopes of extra time over the bar. …”
The Ringer (Video)

When Were the 2021-22 Premier League Teams Last Relegated From the Top Flight?


Woolwich Arsenal, playing at Highbury, in the Second Division, in 1913. Crazy but true.
“The demotion season is upon us. In the next few weeks three teams will drop out of the Premier League, to be replaced by Fulham (promoted this week) and two others. As it stands it will be Norwich City, Watford and Burnley going down, but just how long is it since each of the 20 clubs currently in the Premier League last experienced relegation? Because make no mistake, they all have, just some more recently than others. …”
The Analyst (Video)

Oleksandr Zinchenko: ‘If you stay silent it means you support what is happening in Ukraine’


“… That is the exhausting but grimly necessary reality for Zinchenko and his compatriots. Every action is cast in the shadow of Russia’s invasion, with its barbaric consequences, and among the biggest concerns is that people outside become desensitised. It simply would not do and, on an Easter weekend when professional commitments bring an FA Cup semi-final for Manchester City against Liverpool, he wants to use his platform. For almost an hour his anger pours out, sometimes in controlled rage but often in raw expressions of hurt. Words can capture people’s attention but, in whatever order, they still cannot rationalise exactly what is happening inside Ukraine. …”
Guardian
W – Oleksandr Zinchenko

Two nights in Madrid, two wildly contrasting experiences


“Nobody was leaving. Not Atletico Madrid’s players, who it seemed were going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming from the Champions League stage, and not their supporters, who were determined to have the last word. … You wouldn’t have guessed their team had just been beaten to a place in the Champions League semi-finals by Manchester City. What a noise — from the start to the bitter, bitter end. And what an extraordinary occasion it was. Again. … When the dust settled on that angry, bad-tempered quarter-final second leg at the Wanda Metropolitano last night, it was City who had held on to secure a semi-final meeting with Real Madrid, leaving Atletico, like Chelsea the previous evening, to count their regrets. …”
The Athletic

Alan Shearer analyses Man City 2 Liverpool 2: Quick free-kick aids De Bruyne, Klopp’s clear message, screaming at Ederson


“Electric, relentless, scintillating, towering standards and brutal in its intensity; Jurgen Klopp likened this match to a boxing match and so it was, with these two exceptional teams slugging it out toe-to-toe at the top of the Premier League, each committed to their own style and principles, utter belief in what they do, and refusing to change for them or for anybody. It was everything we hoped for and expected. Blimey, Manchester City against Liverpool was good. …”
The Athletic
Guardian: Manchester City’s strive for perfection goes on as Liverpool highlight flaws – Jonathan Wilson

Broken down: How Klopp’s Liverpool and Guardiola’s Manchester City play football


“Manchester City vs Liverpool. Pep Guardiola vs Jurgen Klopp. A 4-3-3 vs ….well, a 4-3-3. Whichever angle you look at it from, City and Liverpool have barely given each other an inch as they set record-breaking limits in the modern Premier League era. … The numbers certainly support Klopp’s assertion. Only one point separates the two sides in terms of Premier League points accrued since the beginning of the 2018-19 season. After 143 games each, City are just edging it 338 to 337. …”
The Athletic (Video)
The Athletic: How Guardiola and Klopp left the rest of the Premier League trailing in their wake (Video)
The Athletic: One day, Jurgen Klopp will leave Liverpool – will all he has built last once he has gone? (Audio)
Guardian: Foden, the flanks and key battles that will decide Manchester City v Liverpool – Jonathan Wilson
BBC – Man City v Liverpool: Tiny margins involved in Premier League’s title-defining rivalry (Video)
NY Times: Liverpool, Manchester City and a Bar Set Too High
NY Times: Classic Games, Lingering Scars and the Finish Line in Sight