After the last years’ Spanish domination in the European Cup Finals, English football finally took over for this season, with 4 teams representing in this season’s 2 Cup finals. If you followed the development of the english football lately, the shift was quite predicted and inevitable. Both teams have an important thing in common: conscious building in every aspect of the game throughout the last years, mixed with patience, allowing the 2 head coaches to improve their game model -5 years for Pochettino, 4 and half for Klopp.
In the last games of the season, Leverkusen used an interesting approach in their positional play, creating a 3-2-2-3 (midfield-box) staggering from the initial 4-2-3-1 shape, which basically changed the whole dynamics of their positional play.
According to several statistics (expected goals against – xGA, shots allowed, passes allowed per defensive action – PPDA) Eibar is on the top of the rankings in the La Liga. Therefore I decided to take a look into their defensive organization, analyzing their main principles and movements in their main 4-4-2 system (in high-press/mid-block/deep-block, plus their 4-1-4-1 system), whilst also highlighting their main weaknesses.
The basis and main principle of Liverpool’s 4-3-3 pressing system is to keep the ball at the central zones, therefore preventing the be moved by horizontal circulation, which usually -if done well- stretches the defensive structure both in the vertical and horizontal axis.
City definitely didn’t have good memories about the Selhurst Park, since this is where their 18 games winning streak ended last season, in a thrilling 0-0 game, where Milivojevic had the chance to win it for Palace, but missed a penalty in the 90th minute. Now City “only” had an 8 games winning streak, although this game’s importance was higher as a win would put Liverpool under pressure before their crucial afternoon game against Chelsea.
In the 1st leg both team selected a more conventional strategy, which ended up in a pretty slow-paced game, resulting a narrow 1-0 victory for Spurs thanks to a late Son goal. It will be interesting to see how the teams will adjust for 2nd leg, as City has to find how to attack effectively without losing the control the game, whilst Spurs must find the optimal approach and structure to avoid being overly-defensive in protecting their lead.
Bayern gains advantage in the title race after a surprisingly easy victory over Dortmund in the Allianz Arena, thanks to a dominant 4-0 1st half, where Bayern dominated due to their effective high pressing and in-possession strategy.
On Sunday a key game has been played between Liverpool and Tottenham for the title race, with Liverpool grabbing a late win on the game of contrary halves. This win put Liverpool back to the 1st position, leading the table by 2 points over Manchester City, although City can take their position back, if they beat Cardiff in the midweek round -to match the equal number of games played. Spurs meanwhile continued their not-so-impressive form, winning only 1 from their last 6 games in the league, and with Arsenal’s victory on Monday night Spurs dropped to 4th position.
Scoring 10 goals in the first 2 games, with convincing overall display, system flexibility, whilst using several newbies in the starting line-ups are all definite factors that makes these 2 wins even more impressive.
Even after harder 1st half, Belgium eventually found a way through Panama’s organized and deep defensive structure, which in the end became a really dominant performance for Martinez’s side.