In the first leg of what was the most exciting prospects from the selection of CL matches a great game was expected, yet not primarily in the players on show but the tactical ability of the two managers who are, especially in the case of El Cholo, regarded amongst the best in the world.
Barcelona ended any speculation that their form would drop off following their loss to Malaga at the weekend with an impressive performance, particularly in the first half. Despite being outclassed in the first half, City could take some positives due to their second half display, coming close to scorer an equaliser.
Villarreal and Red Bull Salzburg are two of the few European teams that are leading the resurgence of the 4-4-2 after the formation became very rarely used in top-level teams in the late 2000’s/early 2010’s.
Liverpool proved the victor over a defensive Besiktas team which offered little in attack. Neither team excelled on the night but Liverpool were the superior team and controlled, yet they at times were found reliant on Ibe who, thankfully for Rodgers, excelled.
After finishing runners up in their group to Madrid – knocking out Liverpool along the way – Basel face Porto in the first round of the Champions League knockout stages. Porto reach this stage after winning their group, which included Shakhtar Donetsk and Athletic Bilbao.
Barcelona lined-up in the experimental 3-3-4 which had featured for long periods of time of Guardiola’s final season at the Camp Nou. The back 3 consisted of Abidal, Puyol and Mascherano ahead of Valdes in goal.
This match was probably the most highly anticipated Copa Libertadores match of this week due to the nature of the rivalry between the two Brazilian giants as well as the clubs being among the most successful in recent Libertadores history, each winning the competition within the last ten years.
“A game which wasn’t easy on the eye.”
This is how most people would describe the first leg between PSG and Chelsea. This is due to the tactical approach of both teams and how they interacted with each other.
Barcelona put on yet another impressive display and allowed Lucho to tie Guardiola’s record of winning 11 straight games with Barcelona. The recent change in positional structure from Barcelona has led to better utilization of their players, which in turn led to the current winning streak and their 5-0 victory over Levante.
An in-form Wolfsburg coming up against Roger Schmidt’s exciting Bayer Leverkusen side was always going to be a fascinating tie. And so it was, being one of the best and most dramatic matches I have ever watched.