Guardiola’s image in the football world is complex to describe. While polarizing, everyone seems at least to agree that he is an unique innovator. Funnily enough, he is polarizing exactly because of this mutual agreement of critics and fans. The public discourse about his Barcelona team mainly revolved about the positional style of play and – even contrasted with Aragones’ successful EURO campaign with the Spanish national team – was highly focused on his idea of playing football and how it differed from most teams. Building up from the back with passes on the ground and involvement of the goalkeeper even under pressure, overload in the center while maintaining high width and depth, or even their extreme pressure with an extraordinarily high line to enable early regain of possession have conquered football back then (with two Champions League titles in four heavily favored campaigns) and since taken over the ideas of others teams more and more – some of them, Guardiola had started already in his first year as head coach back at Barcelona B.
With Tottenham unbeaten in the last six games in all competitions against their North London rivals, Mikel Arteta came into the match on Sunday having to show how exactly he has improved Arsenal in the last year and a half or so.
Chelsea set up in their usual 3–4–2–1 but with a range of changes in personnel, after a rotated side drew 1–1 away at Southampton and a game midweek against Atletico Madrid. Despite their European heroics, it was time for them to still try to address their lack of potency in front of goal, in the hunt to finish for Champions League football next season. Unfortunately for them, Manchester United haven’t been the easiest opponents, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer somehow being competent enough to be second in the league.
Arsenal have had a terrible time against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side in the Premier League. Since Pep took charge of the Citizens, the Gunners have failed to beat them in the league, while conceding 22 goals in 9 games spanning since the start of the 2016/2017 season. This Sunday was no different as Raheem Sterling scored after two minutes from a header (no, I don’t know either).
With only two wins in their last five, Liverpool’s recent form has seen them slip so far down the top of the table that both Chelsea and West Ham started the day with only one point behind their fourth place rivals. Only a win against Leicester would lift them into a better position.
However, despite Brendan Rodgers’ problems against the Big Six in the past, he has become more confident registering wins against Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea this season.
VfB Stuttgart have outperformed expectations during the Hinrunde. Yet, perhaps more so than their results and play, the array of strategies and structures employed in build-up and defensive transitions have left an impression on the Bundesliga. Head coach Pellegrino Matarazzo has established a formidable attacking team that consistently penetrates and creates, and hence can beat almost every opponent.
Americans call aubergines ‘eggplants’. For those familiar with the deep purple skin of the vegetable(?), this seems peculiar. To British ears, it’s one of those “oh, America!” things to roll ones eyes at and quietly mock, like ‘pants’ and ‘soccer’ and the missing ‘u’ in ‘colour’. And then you learn that there’s a variety of aubergine that is white, and small, and generally looks quite like an egg.
Following on from the first of this two part series where the predominant offensive structures Manchester City used were outlined, this part will examine the methods used to create chances within the aforementioned structures.
Manchester City were the most potent attacking force, in Europe’s major five leagues, during the 2019/20 season. They ranked first for expected goals (xG), shots taken and goals scored compared to the other top performing teams in Europe.
German Club TSG Hoffenheim has reached 6th place, allowing them to play on the international stage in the upcoming season. How did Hoffenheim perform after the re-start following the Corona-break? What are the key characteristics, including their principal strengths and weaknesses?