League comparison #2: crossing

January 26, 2010
League comparison #2: crossing

In part one, we looked at the differences between the Premiership, La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 in terms of passing. Here, we turn to crossing.

Firstly, the number of crosses attempted per game in the five leagues:

Serie A sees by far the highest amount of crosses, with the Bundesliga trailing significantly. There’s little difference between the other three leagues.

These figures on their own may not be particularly interesting, but with the addition of crossing completion statistics, we can build a more detailed picture: Read more »

Teams of the Decade #13: Chelsea 2004-06

January 25, 2010
Teams of the Decade #13: Chelsea 2004-06

Everyone knows that Arsenal went unbeaten in 2003/04, but it’s worth pointing out that Chelsea only lost one game the next season, a surprise 0-1 defeat away at Manchester City. OK so, Jose Mourinho had inherited a great squad, which had been added to over the summer with the likes of Cech, Drogba, Carvalho and Ferreira, but to take charge of a side and lead it so convincingly to the title (they won it by 12 points) should be commended. That season’s Chelsea side also hold the record for the fewest goals conceded in a Premiership season – just 15 in 38 games, whilst 25 clean sheets is also a Premiership record. Read more »

Inter 2-0 Milan: Leonardo fails to exploit Inter’s numerical disadvantage

January 24, 2010
Inter 2-0 Milan: Leonardo fails to exploit Inter’s numerical disadvantage

Mourinho 2-0 Leonardo. Or, to use an aggregate score, Mourinho 6-0 Leonardo. They may be two of the most stylish and exciting coaches in Europe, but tonight Mourinho got his tactics spot on, whilst Leonardo’s Milan side seemed rigid and uncomfortable.

Inter dominated the first half hour by virtue of having an extra central midfielder – Milan’s midfield being an inverted ‘V’ (ie with the central player, Pirlo, playing just ahead of the other two) meant that Sneijder constantly found space between the three, and completely dominated proceedings. Read more »

League comparison #1: passing

January 24, 2010
League comparison #1: passing

It’s often argued that the major European leagues are becoming increasingly similar, and there are no longer significant variations in tactics.  What are the reasons for this? An increased number of foreign players and managers? More television coverage of foreign competitions? A greater number of European matches? Globalisation in general?

That debate is for another day – here, we investigate whether the major European leagues are as similar as is assumed. First, passing. Read more »

Juventus 1-2 Roma: Ferrara’s right-sided switch costs him the game – and perhaps his job

January 23, 2010
Juventus 1-2 Roma: Ferrara’s right-sided switch costs him the game – and perhaps his job

It’s a game of two halves, they say – the first one here was so bad you may as well not have bothered. Two similar shapes cancelling each other out, with an incredible lack of width from both sides. Roma started with Luca Toni upfront as a target man, but he was injured and went off after five minutes – with a half-fit Francesco Totti replacing him. Vucinic, therefore, became the focal point of the attack drifting to the left, and Totti playing as a trequartista. Given such an early reorganisation of the side, we can forgive Roma for their slightly purposeless first half. Read more »

The woes of Michael Owen detailed

January 23, 2010

When will we get to the point where no-one will bother questioning Michael Owen’s omission from the England squad?

For many, that point has long passed, although certain media pundits insist that Owen deserves his place in Capello’s 23. The reason Owen deserves to be considered, apparently, is that he is England’s best ‘natural born finisher’, but the fact remains that he’s not even the best English finisher at Manchester United.

See this chalkboard of today’s game against Hull. Wayne Rooney only had one more shot from inside the area than Owen, but ended up with four more goals. Read more »

How the 2000s changed tactics #8: Pace

January 22, 2010
How the 2000s changed tactics #8: Pace

There isn’t a great deal to say about this one – it pretty much does what it says on the tin. In the past ten years, pace has become arguably the most important quality for young footballers. Read more »

Teams of the Decade #14: Milan 2002-07

January 22, 2010
Teams of the Decade #14: Milan 2002-07

Milan will go down as one of the classic teams of the decade, if only for the players that wore the Rossoneri shirts. It featured a true modern legend in Paolo Maldini, as well as Costacurta, Stam, Cafu, Nesta, Serginho, Pirlo, Redondo, Seedorf, Gattuso, Boban, Kaka, Rui Costa, Leonardo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Shevchenko, Ronaldo, Inzaghi, Crespo, Pato…in fact, more true world-class footballers than any club throughout the decade.

Read more »

How the 2000s changed tactics #9: Versatile attacking players

January 21, 2010
How the 2000s changed tactics #9: Versatile attacking players

The great attacking players of the late 1990s were easy to pin down to specific positions. Gabriel Batistuta, George Weah and Ronaldo were central forwards; Zinedine Zidane and Manuel Rui Costa were central playmakers; Luis Figo, Ryan Giggs and Marc Overmars were wingers. Read more »

Teams of the Decade #15: Brazil, 2009

January 20, 2010
Teams of the Decade #15: Brazil, 2009

This Brazil side (with slight replacements in certain positions) has already been covered on this site, so it’s probably better for me to just link to the original article I wrote, although this focussed upon Brazil’s friendly against England, rather than the Confederations Cup side the Confederations Cup-winning players on the left.

Read more »