Ever since Jose Mourinho arrived in England, the importance of the transition phases has increased massively. From the 2010’s onwards this importance has only increased by the likes of Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola who helped to revolutionise attacking and defensive transitions and bring the game of football to a new level.
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Thomas Tuchel’s PSG side faced Nagelsmann’s RB Leipzig in the first Champions league semi-final on Tuesday evening. Whilst both sides came through their quarter-finals with late winners, PSG did so fulfilling their favourites tag with Leipzig instead causing an upset.
Two of the Europa League’s strongest remaining sides met as Inter Milan took on Bayer Leverkusen in one of the first quarter-finals on Monday evening. Leverkusen dispatched Rangers comfortably over two legs, whilst Inter beat Getafe in a one-off tie. An intriguing counter lay in waiting.
Solskjaer’s in-form Manchester United hosted a similarly buoyant Southampton side at Old Trafford on Monday evening. With the hosts locked in a battle with Chelsea and Leicester for the final Champions league positions, a win was vital. Whilst their opponents had no such clear targets, their recent performances and results show they do not lack motivation.
Liverpool hosted Salzburg in their gameweek 2 fixture on Wednesday evening. After their 2-0 defeat in Naples, this became a must win. Marsch’s side on the other hand, came into the game on the back of a 6-2 win against Genk. With both sides renowned for their ferocious intensity in all phases of the game, a high-octane game was expected.
Germany faced Sweden in the World Cup quarter final on Saturday evening. Coming into the game, the two-time champions had won every game without conceding despite their underlying numbers telling a different story.Sweden’s results were similarly impressive, failing to win just once, in a match against favourites USA.
Solskjaer’s United side hosted the perennial Spanish champions in the first leg of the Champions league quarter final on Wednesday. For United, the incredible run of results which culminated in a remarkable comeback in the previous round against PSG had been replaced by, 3 defeats in the last 4 games. Their opponents meanwhile, came into the clash on the back of 9 wins in their last 10.
Arsenal and Tottenham have entered the last few seasons with the same objective of claiming a top four position to ensure Champions League football. Along with the geographical rivalry, competing for similar positions has put increased importance on the direct clashes, and this piece will examine the details of both league clashes.
Borussia Dortmund hosted Hoffenheim in an exciting Bundesliga clash on Saturday afternoon. Favre’s men were the league leaders with a 7 point lead over title rivals Bayern, and victory in this game would be another crucial step towards a first Bundesliga title since 2012. For the visitors, one win in their last 9 league games had seen them fall behind in the race for Champions league qualification.
Two of the pre-tournament favourites met in Kazan for the first knockout game of the 2018 World Cup on Saturday afternoon. Lionel Messi’s Argentina had scraped through the group stages, whilst France strolled through their group in solid, but unspectacular fashion.