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.
I detail the possession and positional philosophy of FC Barcelona and Pep Guardiola!
In the opening game of the 24th Matchday of La Liga two of the most astounding small teams faced each other in the stadium of the Catalonian side.
A match-up of the second and third place teams in La Liga, in the form of Simeone’s Atletico Madrid and Marcelino’s Valencia. In a hotly contested match, Atletico showed why they are the top defensive side in Europe at the moment, holding Valencia to 0 shots on goal for the whole match.
This might be it for the La Liga title race. After yet another Barcelona win at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, the Blaugrana can enjoy a comfortable lead, while some Blancos call for the head of coach Zinédine Zidane who thought man-marking Barça’s key players was the best strategy.
Simeone’s Atletico Madrid hosted Sampaoli’s Sevilla side in an eagerly anticipated 3rd vs 4th clash. An uncharacteristic season for the home side had shown signs of improving in recent weeks, whereas Sevilla’s form had been on the wane.
Luis Enrique’s Barcelona side made the enviable trip to Paris on Valentine’s day for a last-16 first leg clash with Paris Saint-Germain. Both sides are experiencing average domestic campaigns by their lofty recent standards and the Champions League thus takes on great significance as an alternative way of enjoying a successful season.
Granada v Real Sociedad belongs to the group of fixtures which one does not tend to eagerly anticipate. Both teams are, however, interesting in their own different ways.
Fresh from their midweek defeat to Manchester City, Enrique’s Barcelona travelled to the Sanchez Pizjuan on Sunday night for an eagerly anticipated clash with Sevilla. An away win would see the Catalan side close the gap on leaders Real Madrid to 2 points, however they were struggling in the absence of Iniesta and Pique in particular. As for the hosts life under Sampaoli was bliss and victory would leave them 3 points off the pace and dreaming of a title challenge.
The most tactically-enticing game of the weekend-just-gone came from Spain as the best defensive system in the world travelled to stop Sampaoli’s fluid Sevilla team.