Teams of the Decade #6: Bayer Leverkusen 2001-02

February 25, 2010
Teams of the Decade #6: Bayer Leverkusen 2001-02

Ultimately, this Bayer Leverkusen side won nothing; the pressure of challenging on three fronts with a small squad had disastrous results at the end of the season, where they completed the most unwanted ‘treble’ in footballing history – losing the league on the final day of the season, losing in the German Cup final to Schalke, and finally, being defeated by Real Madrid in the Champions League final. Read more »

Champions League pass completion statistics – Barcelona unsurprisingly come out on top

February 25, 2010
Champions League pass completion statistics – Barcelona unsurprisingly come out on top

These are the pass completion statistics from the Champions League second round, first leg, as detailed by UEFA. They show a large variation between the 16 sides, from Barcelona’s 84% completion rate, to Fiorentina’s 57%. Read more »

Inter 2-1 Chelsea – a narrow victory for Mourinho by containing opposition full-backs

February 24, 2010
Inter 2-1 Chelsea – a narrow victory for Mourinho by containing opposition full-backs

It depends how you want to read this one. On one hand, with the advantage in the tie, Inter are content going to Stamford Bridge knowing Chelsea have to beat them to progress. On the other, Chelsea’s away goal could turn out to be vital, and a 1-0 win in the second leg will see them go through. Read more »

Stuttgart 1-1 Barcelona – Stuttgart get things right, but don’t make it count when they were on top

February 23, 2010
Stuttgart 1-1 Barcelona – Stuttgart get things right, but don’t make it count when they were on top

It was an intriguing game tonight, Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona’s usual 4-3-3 system taking on Christian Gross’ Stuttgart side playing a 4-4-2 counter-attacking system with split strikers. Although the 4-3-3 was basically intended to work best against a 4-4-2, Stuttgart were on top in the first half here, and probably should have been more than 1-0 up at the interval. Read more »

Chelsea and Drogba: two shots on target, two goals

February 23, 2010
Chelsea and Drogba: two shots on target, two goals

When Didier Drogba is on fire, the rest of the Chelsea side barely have to worry about getting shots in on goal. His two strikes against Wolves took him to 19 goals in 22 games this Premiership season, and 25 goals in 29 games in all competitions. Read more »

Teams of the Decade #7: Spain 2008

February 23, 2010
Teams of the Decade #7: Spain 2008

It’s hard to place this Spain team on a list which attempts to focus upon tactical innovations as much as success and pretty football – on one hand, the side was so wonderfully fluid and dynamic it was difficult to categorise them into a set formation, on the other it became increasingly clear that their first-choice system, with two strikers, wasn’t working for them.

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Teams of the Decade #8: Czech Republic, 2004

February 22, 2010
Teams of the Decade #8: Czech Republic, 2004

It may have been brief, but it was beautiful. The Czech Republic side of Euro 2004 was brilliant, because they had everything in an attacking sense. They had an aerial threat from 6′7 Jan Koller. They had pace upfront from Milan Baros. They had the finest footballer in Europe at the time in Pavel Nedved, and Poborsky and Rosicky who could play either centrally or wide. They had a deep playmaker in Tomas Galasek, and two rampaging full-backs who got up and down the line all day. Read more »

How the 2000s changed tactics #6: The death of the ‘poacher’

February 21, 2010
How the 2000s changed tactics #6: The death of the ‘poacher’

If you could travel back to the mid 90s and ask 100 football fans who the best finisher in the Premiership was, you’d find a majority telling you the answer was Robbie Fowler. He wasn’t tall, he wasn’t fast, he wasn’t strong and he wasn’t mobile, but if you gave him the ball, he would put it into the net with alarming regularity. Read more »

The most boring Premiership game of the season detailed

February 21, 2010

Many football supporters were complaining this weekend when the Manchester City v Liverpool game was on neither Sky Sports nor ESPN, despite being a fairly crucial 4th v 5th clash, and the season’s opening meeting between the two serving up an exciting 2-2 draw. Read more »

Arsenal 2-0 Sunderland – an ambitious approach from Steve Bruce that almost came off

February 21, 2010
Arsenal 2-0 Sunderland – an ambitious approach from Steve Bruce that almost came off

An interesting match-up today at the Emirates. Arsenal continue to deploy Cesc Fabregas in a very advanced role behind the frontman, with the wingers slightly deeper than they played in the clear 4-3-3 shape at the start of the campaign. Sunderland came with an extremely adventurous 4-3-3 shape, with three genuine strikers, and with a centre-half, Anton Ferdinand, in front of the back four. Read more »