Sweden vs USA

Sweden vs USA Preview: Two Powerhouses Collide

Both the United States and Sweden are among the group of favourites that could realistically win the World Cup. And both are quite similar in their general style of football, which became obvious on the first two matchdays.

Since the discrepancies in terms of physicality are still somewhat significant at this year’s tournament, teams such as the United States and Sweden seem to have a huge advantage over “smaller” sides. Both are able to bully those who cannot keep up with them in terms height, speed and athleticism in general. Read More

Germany vs China Preview

Germany vs China Preview: Germans out to make a fresh start

Two dark horses of the World Cup meet in the opening match of Group B. Who will win in the clash of Germany vs China: the more physical Europeans or the more technical Asian side?

Both the men’s and the women’s German national team are usually considered to be competitive at international tournaments no matter the circumstances. But just like Joachim Low’s players disappointed in France last year, their female counterparts did the year prior when they were knocked out in the EURO’s quarterfinals against Denmark.

Between 1995 and 2013, the Germans defended the EURO championship at every tournament, but somewhere after that, the train derailed and has never gotten back on track. Steffi Jones, a former German international, was supposed to be the saviour, yet she had to go following the disappointing display in 2017.

While Jones‘s appointment was often linked with political power play, since she has strong ties with the German FA, now-national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg seemed to be the more qualified candidate. But Voss-Tecklenburg appeared as a harsh critic towards the FA and was forced to work her way up by leading the Swiss national team onto the international stage.

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Manchester City vs Wolves

Manchester City vs Wolves Preview: Tricky Match-up for Guardiola’s Team

Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers have one obvious thing in common: both have recently beaten Liverpool 2-1. Granted, the Wolves defeated a diluted version of the Reds in their FA Cup encounter last Monday, but both Wolverhampton and City can certainly take away a lot of positives from succeeding against the current Premier League leaders.

For Manchester City, every match is a do-or-die situation right now. After a horrendous December in which they lost three matches within 18 days, the much-needed victory over Liverpool brought back some life to their hopes of defending the Premier League title. Still, City are trailing by four points and another loss would probably crush their hopes once and for all.

Wolves are not only one of the best teams behind the Premier League’s big six, but one of the trickiest opponents for City. When they met in August, Wolves drew with the powerhouse from Manchester. And Nuno Espirito Santo’s side could repeat exactly that on Monday. Read More

Manchester City vs Everton

Manchester City vs Everton Preview: The next stumbling block?

In a title right as close as the one between Manchester City and Liverpool, every mistake counts and could end up being one too many. City came up short on Saturday when Pep Guardiola’s side were defeated by Chelsea. The former Premier League leaders now have to get back on track, though their opponents on Saturday are anything but pushovers. Manchester City vs Everton is not easy to forecast.

City’s 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge was one of those matches which did not necessarily expose any weaknesses the team has. Guardiola’s players were dominating for most of the first half against a surprisingly passive Chelsea side and were close to scoring the first goal, although those chances came from successful counter-pressing attacks or quick counter-attacks out of City’s half, not from long spells of ball possession.

City missed the chance to convert one of their opportunities, but there was no indication the Blues could come up with an idea to find the back of the net. Yet they did and put City in a position from which they did not recover. Read More

Dortmund vs Bayern Munich Bundesliga Preview

Dortmund vs Bayern Munich: Can the Black-and-Yellows slip away?

The German Bundesliga has to sometimes bear the criticism that it is a league with great fans and great stadiums yet mediocre teams. But mediocrity does certainly not apply to the two clubs which are expected to have a close title race this season. Borussia Dortmund are currently leading the league by four points ahead of Bayern Munich who will travel to Dortmund for their highly anticipated ‘Der Klassiker’ showdown on Saturday.

Bayern Munich’s head coach Niko Kovač does not have the easiest job in the league right now. The 47-year-old Croatian took over last summer after two successful years at Eintracht Frankfurt that ended with Frankfurt beating Bayern in the German Cup final in May. Kovač’s authority in the locker room and his energetic style were supposed to reinvigorate an ageing Bayern side.

The winningest club in Bundesliga history has not spent much money on big signings the past few years. The only transfer of note prior to this season was Leon Goretzka who came on a free from Schalke. Bayern’s issues, however, are more profound than just the quality of the squad which is still superior to every other squad in the league and most in Europe. Read More

Shakhtar Donetsk vs Manchester City

Shakhtar Donetsk vs Manchester City: A Cold Tuesday Night in Ukraine

Is there anything to win when you put your billion-Pound star ensemble on an airplane and travel across Europe to play in the cold of the Slobidshchyna? At least three points in the Champions League group stage. That is the motivation for Pep Guardiola, knowing that Shakhtar Donetsk vs Manchester City might not turn out to be pretty. But that is not what City is all about right now.

Some football philosophers may suggest that the best teams sometimes look average and win nevertheless. That is what Manchester City have done in the past few weeks. Usually, head coach Guardiola comes up with a variety of tactical ideas; some outlandish, most brilliant.

But the Catalan also knows how valuable his players are and how many of them can make match-altering moves. It is the beauty of the current City squad that the likes of Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sané battle for two spots in the starting XI, that Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus often battle for one berth, with Guardiola knowing that each of them can rip through defences and score the one decisive goal. Read More

Cardiff City vs Manchester City Premier League Preview

Cardiff City vs Manchester City Preview: Keep the Party Going

It must be one of the scenarios coaches often dream of, when you can pick up players from your bench and know that they are going to deliver. Pep Guardiola is in exactly that position right now. A few days ago, Leroy Sané, one of Manchester City’s standout players of last season, was considered to be in a crisis.

The 22-year-old did not make the cut for Joachim Löw’s German national team at the World Cup, which after all was probably a blessing in disguise, and then had a rough start this season. Read More

The two faces of Manchester City

The two faces of Manchester City

Manchester City’s start to the new season has not entirely gone the way Pep Guardiola probably envisioned. After two stunning performances against Arsenal and Huddersfield Town, the defending champions drew 1-1 with Wolverhampton Wanderers last Sunday. These first three weeks showed the good and the bad side of Guardiola, and the two faces of Manchester City.

Take for instance the decisive win over Huddersfield. Guardiola had to know that Huddersfield were expecting a similar formation to what City played against Arsenal, meaning a system with one centre-forward and two wingers. Hence Guardiola mixed things up switching to a back three and a two-forward formation with Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus up front. Read More

Bayern Munich vs Hoffenheim

Bayern Munich vs Hoffenheim Preview: Niko Kovač’s first real test as Bayern boss

Bayern Munich have been uncharacteristically quiet in the transfer market. The German powerhouse signed midfielder Leon Goretzka way before the end of last season and then shied away from any further moves, apart from a deal with Vancouver Whitecaps for 17-year-old Alphonso Davies.

Naturally, the story of the summer was the arrival of Niko Kovač. The Croatian who won the German FA Cup with Eintracht Frankfurt in a dramatic final against Bayern back in May has been skyrocketed to a job many thought he could never get.
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Jorginho Chelsea Sarri

Jorginho alone can not solve Chelsea’s defensive issues

Chelsea are looking for a fresh start under newly-appointed manager Maurizio Sarri. The Italian eccentric replaces fellow countryman Antonio Conte and intends to replicate the work he was doing at Napoli for three years. Jorginho has followed him from Naples to help him achieve that.

The first true test for Sarri’s team came against Manchester City last Sunday. Even though the FA Community Shield is not always taken 100 percent seriously, a competitive City side exposed some of the Blues’ weaknesses Sarri has to work on. Most prominently, the pressing which was reminiscent of Napoli’s in the past few seasons did not work as effectively as it has to when the Premier League season starts.

Conte relied on a system with a back three and two high-volume runners on the wings. Sarri, however, immediately implemented a 4-3-3 system, similar to the one he played at Napoli. With the signing of Jorginho, he even has his crucial centre-midfielder from the San Paolo at his disposal, which might look like a promise that Chelsea would have a stable defence going forward. But Jorginho alone cannot provide full stability. The 2-0 loss against Manchester City on Sunday was proof of that. Read More