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United, the incredible run of results which culminated in a remarkable comeback in the previous round against PSG had been replaced by, 3 defeats in the last 4 games.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.
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.
The main thesis addressed is that sometimes making small changes through simple (individual) rules can improve to a great extent the collective functioning without needing more sort of complex changes.
Eintracht Frankfurt against Inter Milan looked to be one of the most interesting ties of the Europa League round of 16. Adi Hutter’s men have had a good run of form domestically, and dispatched of Shakhtar Donetsk with relative ease in the previous round having gone through the group stages with 6 wins out of 6. Their good form continued here, but with the game ending 0-0, they face a difficult task in the second leg.
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.
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.