Thursday, 28 April 2016


bayern munich played ath madrid at their home in the first leg of their ucl s/f . before i write about the match i would like to ask something as to whether man city appointing gaurdiola is worth it or not . yes gaurdiola is winner he is a very good trainer who not only trains the team very well but also prepares players at the personal level as well which in turn helps the team because when a single unit is prepared very well the unit can play better . but you do have to consider the after effects of gaurdiola leaving the club and the club feeling its effect . the trouble is that the tiki taka way or the famous gaurdiola way that he is known of is not seen anywhere in this current bayern team . they are playing a premier league team and if this is the way that he is going to continue at city then whether is he worth it . the reason for that is that he will sign players which will cost high and that and unlike bayern and barcelona who have very good academies and had very good local players in their team even before gaurdiola arrived . city doesnt have that and that will leave city with a big transfer hole and whether it will sit fine with uefa we will have to watch out .
ath mad started with their usual 4-4-2 formation while bayern started with 4-3-3 formation . i wont describe the team because you already know that . team under gaurdiola already have very unusual formation . it the way the players move or the team plays . but to be honest bayren had unable to find answers against team who played very swift counter attacking football .they had been found wanting against gladbach and yesterday against ath mad . it is very well know that gaurdiola tries to explore the space that the opposition gives or rather he creates spaces with players movement and their positioning which is then exploited by his team . yesterday he failed to do that most importantly he failed to explore the space that ath mad were giving to him and exploit it . ath mad play very conservatively they sit back they press only when the opposition comes into their half and they defend narrow which allows the opposition the space on the flanks .
now gaurdiola is a thinker and he must had watched the videos of ath mad losing matches and why did they lost or what he needs to do . he had set his team accordingly or should we say that that is the way bayern had been playing for the best part of their season . they have two wide players to explore the width and two midfielders to support them . now if we had looked the way bayern had found success against good teams these years then you would had found that bayern always tried to explore the hole and they always had a players to do that . most of the time lewandowski had played in the hole this year while at time costa and vidal too had been used to do that . yesterday the midfielders who support lewandowski were too wide or say that they were not that set up to exploit that instead they were positioned this way that they were there to support the wide players to stretch ath mad's defense but were not able to fully exploit that space that was offered by ath mad . the reason why i am stressing this is because if you had looked in the matches that bayern had dominated and won very comfortably then this was the space that was very much exploited . the other reason is that if you looked ath mad's defeat to barcelona this season earlier in the year then barcelona too had exploited the same space that i am talking about . bayern had been playing too much english type this season . they had been taking out ball wide and crossing out in the box rather than working the ball or trying to out pass their opponents . they had been fairly direct this term. what i had written earlier is that both vidal and thiago were expected to dominate that part of the pitch and try to go beyond lewandowski . vidal did recieve ball in the hole but first off ath mad's mad did a very good job or closing down his options and eventually denying him any opportunity to play anbody .
in the match for the first 25 min when the players were having energy and could chase the opposition ath mad made a very lively start they chased bayern all over the pitch and it is this approach that led to the goal . i dont think that any bayern players would had thought that saul would keep the ball that long and that he would try something like that . the commentators duly noted that bayern lacked pace in their midfield and that would cost them . alonso hasnt got the legs to cover the length of the pitch and cover the back four . thiago and vidal were alongside alonso but were there to support the wide players costa and coman and even try to get beyond them but on the flanks only and keep stretching the ath mad defense . the best chance that bayern had or even barca had against ath mad was when they switched the flanks very quickly and tried to exploit that space on the opposite flank . ath mad are never ever going to give any space in the middle . they stay very compact and they give very little space in the middle of the pitch . most importantly the one on one battle that they won all over the pitch were another factor that led to bayern's defeat . most importantly simeone's team are not given the due accolades that they are also a very good attacking unit just a very good defensive one . when they have the ball they use it very nicely and are more threatning than others . most importantly just like pep's team ath mad's players excel in one on one situation and that is very handy on offense .

last but not the least but ath mad had been able to keep their opponents at bay becuase one unsung hero had gone unnoticed for ath mad and that is agusto hernandez . his influence on both defense and offense had been amazing . his game reading had been amazing and most importantly him positioning in front of the defense meant that gabi could go higher up the pitch . i applaud ath mad transfer policy and they had been very swift in signing players and signing very good one . ferraria carrasco being another one.

Thursday, 21 April 2016


yesterday real madrid played villareal at the santiago bernebau . the game had some importance about it in many ways . first liverpool villareal's europa league opponent were playing at the same time in other game . real madrid needed to keep winning since earlier barcelona had thrashed their opponent in the league game and last but not the least that a win would give moral boosting win to either team in the run up to the major games next week . in the reverse fixture earlier in the season villareal had given the first shock to the beintez's real regime so the game had some expectations about it .
to be honest i not that aware about villareal's lineup and i just watched the first hour of the game . glad that the game didnt took an unexpected turn and proved any unexpected result at the end . real started with 4-3-3 formation while villareal started with their usual 4-4-2 formation . their are only few points that need to talked about in the this game . villareal were set up to defend their box . they formed two banks off four and defended very narrow to deny any spaces in the middle to exploit . they also played deep so as not have space for the front three to run behind the back four . real too played deep they kept bakambu and adrian in their front and both varane and ramos started on the goal side of the front two . most importantly real enjoyed numbers superiority in the middle of the park where they had three compared to villareal's two .
first off never really had the game plan or else their game plan does depends on how well deniss suarez and their forwards perform and not how well the team play or execute the plan . the players just couldnt decide as to what they need to do with the ball and whom should they pass or from which zone should they start the attack . they seem spending time and it was compounded with real having numbers superiority in the middle of the park . so whenever ball came in the middle of the park it was aggressively pressed by real . but the sad thing about villareal was that they just didnt had the necessary plan as to what they need to do to counter real . another problem was that villareal's forwards never worked in tandem . now in the game between milan and juventus i had highlighted the fact that the front two needs to be on same wavelength . they need to be in tandem . the best teams do have forwards on same page and they play off each other . bakambu and adrian were never on the same page . i think villareal's main offense comes from dennis suarez's zone and how well does he plays and gets the penetration with his runs and dribbling ability . yesterday was not his day villareal were not able to provide the possible support that suarez requires to work his magic  . villareal's players just could play around suarez . their main vice was that they were spending too much time on the ball allowing real to close them down or the next player whom they would pass the ball . this ball stalling comes when the team is not well drilled in terms of offense and is dependent on player quality rather than on team interplay which the coach invisions . the midfield were not able to support the forward and wide players and most importantly they just made wrong choices on the ball .
real may have won the game and zidane may get the plaudits for the win just as he got it for the win over wolfsburg in return leg but the overall teams display wont satisfy any coach . especially his star player who cannot get the better in one on one situations . first thing about real is that they are still are not able to bring benzema into play . they are not able to play off benzema or bring into main paying role . the team is still playing like it used to play under ancelotti and there is no crispness in the play . i had said this earlier zidane had switched ronaldo's position and has brought him more into play and given him more off the ball but to be honest i think he has forgotten to be a wide player and is now a out an out forward and it would be better to play him that way . where on he is at the end of things rather than to be creating things . 

Thursday, 14 April 2016


 i just read a news on a website that messi hasnt contributed in form of goal or assist for the last 5 games and that is one of the record from when he started playing . why has barcelona started to stutter or why have they wilted for the last 5 games . the answer lies in the tactics that had been changed in the last 5 matches . messi's position has been changed and so has the team approach . i will try to analyse barcelona for the two legged affair between ath mad .
barcelona's team had been the same which had played over the two legs with ath mad . but there had been some changes in the formation and there had been some changes in the style with which barcelona are going about in the game . first off last season messi was starting in the wide right position and whenever messi starts the defense gets pulled to that side so messi could pull defense on his side while neymar and suarez would have a free reign on the opposite flank . barcelona wouldnt try to play behind the back four instead would try to utilize the space between the back and middle four and then work from there and all this was possible because of messi's position . if the team would cover him well then they would get expose on other flank while if they dont cover him then he could milk them and that was what was happening in the last season . secondly they were playing more on the counter rather than on keeping the ball . the counters would be very fast with messi ,suarez and neymar .
from the el classico messi has started to play as the no.10 rather than playing as the wide right that he had been doing it for the last year or so . seconldy i never saw messi having so little of the ball as he had in the last match with ath mad . barcelona's main weapon had been messi . he is the instigaor ,creator and finisher . now suddenly he wants to play the no.10 role . in the first match between ath mad and barcelona . messi started as the no.10 rather than has usual position of wide right . secondly he was trying to play others from beyond the box rather than trying to come into the box . the position that he plays him he gets the opposition surrounding him which creates spaces for other either in wide areas if he plays central or on opposite flank when he plays wide . the most important facet of that game was that messi wasnt dribbling too much he wasnt trying to come inside . he was content of staying out of the box and creating chances beyond the box . he wasnt coming into the box with ball or with play in which he is central figure . instead he was like a team player who would get into box trying to be at the end of things which were created by somebody else which was very new to me . instead of messi creating he was trying to get to end of a cross ( this is in the second leg ) . even in the first leg with ath mad you could see the number of crosses barcelona in the box rather playing floor game. they were crossing the ball more in the box rather than trying to work the ball and try to have more penetration in the box . barcelona are know to out play their through their passing . under enrique barcelona have become more direct . they try to have more shot at the goal than they had under gaurdiola . gaurdiola yesterday looked like a team under tata martimo rather than under enrique .
who has changed messi's role and who has restricted his movement and dribbling whether its him or luis enriquie because yesterday he just didnt seem interesed and was passing the ball wide instead of trying to work ball throught the middle or take a shot from beyond the box or from its edge . he didnt tried to play one two to with anybody and barcelona played like a normal team yesterday . barcelona played like they played under gaurdiola but the only difference being that the game never revolved around messi instead it was much more like an good team playing but without a special player in them . messi's new position meant that neymar and suarez  too arent getting the same amount of space that he had been getting last year or before these 5 matches . suarez had to accomodate messi change in position and he is going more wide than he would had liked .
ath mad had played what they are know for . they sit deep invite others to open them up and then hit them on the counter . to be honest they are the best counter attacking team in the competetion right of now . most importantly i had written about the importance of strikers hunting in pairs and griezman and caressaco are the two best examples of that . the other best thing is the excellent support of the middle four who support the front two very well . most importantly when athletico had the ball they showed that they can play football and passed the ball around very well and excelling in the one on one situations . they tried to exploit the fullbacks and were successful in that . simeone may not look to be the most tactically astute manager but he does very correct things and very  correct changes in the game .
i think that barcelona could have exploited ath mad from the middle of the first half when they had started to come high up the pitch to close barcelona down and there was a considerable space was left between the lines for the likes of messi ,suarez and neymar or exploit . bacelona were trying to play from the back from the start they wanted to draw out ath mad and had been successful from around 30 min . but the trouble with barca as i had said that there was nobody who was trying to go beyond suarez . they were content to hit from distance with messi taking the least no. of shots on the goal that i had seen in the match untill now . ath mad were going to compact they were going to narrow compared to first legged where i felt that they showed a little bit of carelessness in maintaining their shape here they were much more disciplined and kept barcelona at bay .
the game was a chess match yesterday with both sets of coach trying to devise new game plan first luis enrique made the changes but subbing alves and rakitic who i think wasnt bad but he has to play as to how messi shifts his positions and he has to set himself according to him . he brought sergio roberto and turan to give the side more pace to which simoene brought tete and made 5 in the middle of the park . when enrique sent pique upfront to head the ball . he switched hernandez with savic to deal with pique .
if i can read correctly but i think all is not well in barcelona camp and messi might be on his out or luis enrique will be not  be there next season. all and all we have to congratulate ath mad for their faboulous perfromance and for their good defensive work . 

Wednesday, 13 April 2016


yesterday man city played psg at etihad . the game can be said as to how you waste world class talent when you dont have a game plan . i think in trying to copy barcelona laurent blanc's psg lost the way and got derailed . in the past also when i had done psg game analysis i had said that psg try one pass too many . they try to over do it . they are trying to copy barcelona but without an actual game plan and at times look like a headless chicken who run around in circles . psg can show that they have major amount of possession and they controlled the game but they were hopeless when it comes to threatning harts goal . they just didnt had a game plan as to how they are going to open man city defense . i dont think blanc will encharge of psg next season and it wont surprise me if jose mouriniho's name would be associated with the job .
psg had two players suspended so blanc wanted to get all the other best players in the side and he devised a 3-4-3 formation for that . he had aurier ,silva,marquinihos in the back three which were protected by middle two of motta and rabiot . while vanderwiel and maxwell were the wing backs . the front three consisted of di maria,ibramovic and cavani . while man city played the unchanged side with aguero up front with de bruyne just behind him . fernandiniho and fernando were in front of the back four while silva and navas were on the wings . the back four consisted of sagna,otamendi,mangala and clichy .
now city were in the driving seat with away goals rule and the goalless draw was suiting them . they just had to protect what they had in the bank  . while psg needed to score a goal to win but also keep the clean sheet so both teams were extra cautious and here game plan were according to that . both teams were playing deep and were not ready to over commit players leaving them open on the counter . since man city had the advantage of the away goals rule they decided to sit back and invite psg to open them up . to be honest there is nothing to write about psg's offense .psg were playing with 3-4-3 and maxwell and wanderwiel were playing as the wide players . how many times did maxwell and wanderwiel crossed the ball in the box while psg had the biggest two guys on the team and playing upfront in form of ibramovic and cavani but there were no crosses from maxwell and a just one from wanderwiel . secondly how many touches did ibramovic had inside the first 15 min and even in the match in the opposition half . i never saw di maria or cavani making runs beyond ibra . ibra just didnt had any service from the psg players . i dont what is blanc is doing there on the side line chewing gum while his job is to instruct his players on how they can improvise and what he had spotted in the game. on the defensive side i dont blame psg either . thiago silva always stayed goal side of aguero and he always had a two yards distance between him and aguero . psg pressed man city very well during the game and were literally handed a game when aguero missed the penalty .
i dont why are psg hell bent on playing outpassing team and trying to showoff . man city had the perfect defense . they had two banks of four . they waited for the ball to come to the back four and then press it and did it quite well . most importantly the back four and the middle four played very compact to deny any spaces for psg to explore . they set themselves on the counter and de bruyne and silva were very good on that keeping the ball and finding others to pass the ball .
there are two things that needs to be mentioned . first off playing out from the back . its very vital that the players out from the back should be a good ball player since he needs to pass the ball correctly or the error that aurier made in the game would  come to bite you in your a**. whenever i coach i stress the importance of playing out from the back and that is why players like blind,mascherano,pique and ramos are very important because they can play a good ball our from the back . in the modern game defenders dont get time on the ball they are quickly pressed so to play under pressure and play proper pass is very imporant and when a player can do that then it a real asset since the team can keep the ball and keep the tempo going and not just pass the ball back to the goalie for a punt . 

Sunday, 10 April 2016


yesterday milan played juvnetus at san siro . the milan coach had said earlier this week that the club would be correct to sack him . i cannot say that it would be a correct decision but looking at the team combination i think they will have to hire somebody for the next season . there are some obvious reasons to that i would make that clear but there are also some positive signs which could possibly save his job . another thing that was important for this match was that the italian national team boss conte was watching the game and it was an audition for the italian players in the game to show conte about their abilities . the game was very important for mario balotelli because conte hasnt played balotelli had outcasted him from the national team . the good thing about balotelli is that italian national team doesnt have a forward like balotelli who is comfortable on the grass . what ever forward they have they are good in air but nobody who can run behind the back four so i think he has case for inclusion which he presented yesterday .
milan started the game with 4-4-2 formation . balotelli and bacca started the game upfront while bonaventura and honda on the flanks while kuco and montolivo in the middle . the back four consisted of abate,alex,ramagnoli and antonelli. while juventus has started with their usual 3-5-2 formation with barzagli,bonucci and rugani in the back three with alex sandro and lichsteineir as the wing backs . marchisio was in front of the back three supported by pogba and asamoah in the middle three. while moratta and manzukic were the front two.
the game was interesting was because untill now whichever team that had played juvnetus had tend to sit back and try to absorb pressure and have numbers behind the ball . but here mihalovic took a very novel approach he tried to close juve down high up the putch. he closed them down and harried them . he forced juve to play a high tempo game rather than just sitting back and allowing juve to dominate the game . milan approach to close juventus created a lot of problem for them and if the other teams do copy this approach then it can cause a lot of problems for juventus .  this approach caused juve all sorts of problems and had he been able to get his offense to be on one page or say just as juventus forwards hunt in pairs or work in tandem and the other support cast rally around them then i think milan would have had a different result to what they have and may have given teams hint on how to play against juve .
as i had said that untill now team had sat and absorbed pressure against juventus . but here milan choose to take the game to juventus . they started to close down juventus from the top and kept the pressure till the back four . juventus tries to play through their wing backs or their forwards where they try to find one of their forwards and then spread the ball . the two milan forwards were not on the same wavelength . the difference was that . juventus forwards work in tandem . they try to find each other when they have the ball and play close to each other . milan's forward were never on the same wavelength . balotelli and bacca were too apart from each other and were not able to form a partnership .
milan have a good team but mihalovic hadnt been able to make it work . the trouble had been midfield he has montolivo and kuco over there . montolivo likes to spread the ball and is a good long ball passer but not very mobile and cannot control the tempo of the game . kuco is mobile and is technically good but coach needs to make the game revolve around him and should teach him how to operate the game or control the game . i am surprised that his name is not mentioned in the transfer market while players like naingolan are mentioned . he took the sting out of pogba yesterday and rendered him toothless in one on one .
the other weakness about juventus formation is that on the counter they seem to have three men behind the ball always but the trouble is that teams just dont have to take the ball beyond the back three they can just use the back three as the wall and shoot around it . teams can do that because juventus back three drop too deep and allows team space in front of them and that is not covered because on the counter only marchisio is there and pogba and others are caught high up the pitch . so milan did tried to exploit it . so all and all good display by milan but no fruit to show .

Sunday, 3 April 2016


yesterday's game by madrid against barcelona was nothing more than audition for zidane as to whether he should be in the dugout for madrid next season . whether he is good enough to take the club forward and can they win things under zidane . then my answer will surprise everyone but i think zidane still has a lot to learn about tactics and management and i dont think he will be in the dugout next season . even though madrid may have won and pundits may be lauding but the way madrid were overwhelmed for most of the match by barcelona then the answer is there in the match itself . madrid win was more because barca just couldnt finish what they were able to carve out and certain positional mistakes by their players which was duly noted by their captain iniesta .
barcelona started the game with their tried and tested 4-3-3 formation with alves,pique,mascherano and alaba in the back four . busquestus was sitting in front of the back four while iniesta and rakitic alongside him. naturally messi starts on the right in the front three but here he was in the middle in the no.10 position while neymar stayed wide on left suarez started on left but kept coming inside . madrid started with 4-3-3 formation . ronaldo,benzema and bale were upfront . while casmeiro was sitting in front of the back four while modric and kroos were along side him. the back four consisted of carvajal,pepe,ramos and marcelo.
the game started with madrid sitting back and allowing barcelona to come and open them up . zidane might had watched barca's game against ath mad and the problem's they posed for barcelona and the tactics they deployed in that game . the same tactics seemed to be employed by real mad . they didnt went on pressing high up the pitch but instead they waited for the ball to come into midfield and then press it . benzema was certainly given the job to go and press busquestus so that he cannot start the offense . but one thing that madrid that cannot understand is that busqestus job is just not to start the attack but keep the flow of the attack going . he is the one who keeps ball when passed back and finds outs the player upfront who can hurt the opposition . so madrid's tactics was partially correct here . if it was not busquestus then mascherano was there to start the attack . if the stats are seen then you could see the pass completion rate of mascherano must be highest plus the highest passes made by him .
the reason why messi may had started in the middle is because casmeiro started in front of the back four who is not the most mobile player plus he is not a good game reader . in the first half barca were all over madrid and there were reason's behind that . madrid were sitting back and inviting barca to open up but there was a difference between zidane's team and mourinoho's team. mouriniho's team would have a proper structure about them . there would not be that much distance between lines which madrid initially had which barca were exploiting nicely . neymar or suarez would recieve the ball wide and messi or iniesta would drop into that space and would find time and space on the ball there and could find the player that he desired . madrid just survived the first half due to sheer luck . zidane's does had to learn a lot about organising the team and how it needs to defend and what role should each player play and when should they step and stop the opposition or when should they drop back and hold their shape . ramos and pepe were clearly confused with messi,suarez and their runs and whom should they pick up .
in the past busquestus had been lauded for ball skill and his ability to keep the attack ticking but had been severly criticized for his positioning sense . particlularly on the counters busquestus had been found wanting and had trouble with his postional sense .even in the first half on one of the madrid counters he was found wanting . he should be infront of the back four and should try to cover the cutbacks but he was never to be seen on the counters and was never ever in the frame .
madrid's defense had many a leaks they were not that organised as they used to under mouriniho and trouble barca with their counter . first off madrid never had a no.10 around whom the offense revolves. madrid had three front players with all three playing in a straight line with no cohesion in between them . zidane expects too much from their front players . he wants his front players to go and beat their fullbacks and create chances . they didnt had too much of support . madrid were not able to keep hold of the ball under barca's press . only modric was the player who could beat the pressing and keep the game flowing or keep the attack going . madrid were slow on their offense often at times they seemed to be confused as to what their next moves need to be . they were not that crisp as they should had been . the counter wasnt properly orchestrated . plus the shape on offense too wasnt that good . it was too square and barca were able to easily press and had the ball back when they would loose it . other than modric none madrid players excelled in one on one challenges .
barca didnt loose because madrid played them out but because they couldnt finish what they created . seconldy on the defense they had a good tactics of caving in making madrid cover that much more grass but they didnt made a point as to where they should stop madrid . there were too many personal errors in barca lineup .
zidane may be BUOYED by yesterday's victory but whoever understands football wont ever back zidane to be real boss next season .