The final day of group stage action saw Colombia and Japan advance in Group H, with Colombia’s match against Senegal as the focus match. Elsewhere in Group G, Belgium and England scrapped over second place with heavily rotated teams.
Infinitely-funded Manchester United faced Ajax – a side with an average age of under 23 – in the Europa League final. What followed was a typical Mourinho game in which he effectively shut-down the most threatening qualities of the opposition’s attack, while using a low-risk approach with the ball.
Fourth hosted third in a crucial match for the Champions League standings. Thomas Tuchel’s Borussia Dortmund prevailed after minimising Hoffenheim to few chances following taking an early lead.
Borussia Dortmund hosted AS Monaco in the first tie of the Champions League quarter final. Whether or not they should have played (they absolutely shouldn’t have) would require a separate article, but what unfolded was an exciting and fast-paced match.
Two of Italy’s best teams clashed in a game of contrasting playing styles.
Since returning from the winter break, RB Leipzig have failed to replicate the outstanding performances that had shocked the Bundesliga in the Hinrunde. Looking to remedy their drop-off, Hasenhüttl moved away from the customary 4-2-2-2 against Werder Bremen, in favour of a 3-4-2-1. The change certainly didn’t bring about the desired result, but was an interesting one in itself and will be the basis of this analysis.
In-form Borussia Dortmund faced not-so in-form Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday. Schmidt’s team were coming on the back of two consecutive losses to Mainz and Atletico, while his hosts had finally overcome their goal-scoring problems with wins over Wolfsburg and Freiburg.
Atalanta continued their excellent season last night with a surprise win over Napoli. Their pressing was key in restricting their hosts’ excellent left side, which helped to reduce the dynamic of their attacks.
Napoli reach the semi-final of the Coppa Italia after overcoming Fiorentina. It was a typical performance of the hosts, whose left side was prominent. They shaped-up in their typical 4-3-3 against a less-orthodox 4-4-1-1 from Fiorentina, which featured a lop-sided first line during build-up.
Bayern produced their best performance of the season to thrash a weak RB Leipzig in the most eagerly-anticipated match of the now-passed Hinrunde. Ancelotti’s side skilfully handled the visitors’ pressing, which had an off-day lacking several features which define their excellent success so far. Sadly, the game was practically over by the 30th minute, after Forsberg was dismissed for a challenge on Lahm while an excellent Bayern were already two ahead. Therefore, the analysis focuses largely on the first half of football.