For the first time since 2003, Ajax have qualified for the Champions League quarterfinals. Typically, strong Ajax teams are synonymous with youth talents. Yet it was 30 year old Dusan Tadic that pieced together a performance for the ages in the bright lights of the Bernebeu.
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After a hot start in Eredivsie, Ajax’s blues after the turn of the new year continued, this time in the form of an emphatic victory for Feyenoord thanks to their sharp transition play and effective defensive matchplan.
Closing out 2018 on a high note. Liverpool put five goals past Arsenal to continue their nine match winning run into the New Year, with their attacking tempo and speed proving too much for Emery’s side.
Another highly anticipated clash between Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and Guardiola’s Manchester City. As recent fixtures between the two teams provide evidence of Liverpool being City’s kryptonite, Guardiola made a series of conservative adjustments to gradually probe the hosts in a cagey affair.
Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham continued their hot start in league play with a resounding away win over Manchester United. Despite the scoreline, Jose Mourinho’s solution to breaking through Spurs high pressure tilted the run of play in United’s favor for the first half before Tottenham scored.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City commenced their Premier League title defence with a secure victory over Arsenal. For the first time in over two decades, a new manager was on the touchline for the Gunners, as former PSG and Sevilla boss Unai Emery made his English debut. However, the Emery honeymoon was interrupted by the Citizens, who showed signs of last seasons dominance in possession and pressing, alongside some details in attack construction that need ironing out over the course of the year.
While most clubs are preparing for their upcoming seasons throughout the summer, a handful are in the heart of their domestic seasons. The bright lights of Los Angeles staged LAFC hosting their crosstown nemesis LA Galaxy for the first time in their new stadium. With the first meeting between the sides gaining attention because of Zlatan’s debut performance and the Galaxy’s inspired comeback, the sequel saw LAFC relinquish their early advantage once again in a dramatic and puzzling manner.
A game of two states. Before the lone goal of the match, it was a tactically dynamic affair with several notable aspects surrounding possession behavior, team tactical mechanisms in transition, and high intensity defensive executions from both teams. After the French took the lead, the Belgians veered from their original focus in search of an equalizer. France were able to absorb Belgium’s attack and earn their spot in the World Cup Final.
France progressed onto the semifinals in a cagey affair with Uruguay, where both teams showed a focus stability where chances were few and far between.
In the heat of Samara, Brazil comfortably advanced to the quarterfinals as Mexico ran out of steam.