Chelsea vs Crystal Palace

Chelsea vs Crystal Palace Preview: Time for the first time

Let me put a question to you, Premier League fans: when was the last time you did something for the first time ever? Well, Mr. Roy Hodgson will meet Sarri’s boys for the first time this season. And I believe he is very excited to do so.

I mean, who wouldn’t be? Imagine you are a football manager and you must prepare your team to face one of the most brilliant teams of the season, at their ground. Also, you should be prepared to play against a couple of talented players, who can beat you in the blink of an eye.

Chelsea vs Crystal Palace

Looking at Chelsea’s ‘Effective Time Possession’ graphic against Burnley, it’s all about the left side. Assuming they will repeat patterns, the connection between Marco Alonso and Eden Hazard will be key. Perhaps the most dangerous duo in the Premier League this season? Read More

Barcelona vs Internazionale Champions League Preview

Barcelona vs Internazionale Preview: Who will save Valverde?

A potential thriller awaits at Camp Nou on Wednesday, not just because it pits La Liga’s champions against one of Serie A’s heavyweights, but also as it could go a long way in deciding who wins Group B. Both teams have a full haul of six points and will be keen to open-up some daylight at the top of the table.

Let’s go right away to Twelve’s Leader Board comparing players of both teams during this Champions League season. It’s no surprise to see Lionel Messi as the best performer. From the Neroazzuri side, Mauro Icardi stands out as the best performer.

Barcelona vs Internazionale Champions League Preview
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Roma vs Viktoria Plzen Champions League Preview

Roma vs Viktoria Plzen Preview: A piece of cake for Di Francesco?

While Roma slipped to a 3-0 defeat at holders Real Madrid, Plzeň looked set to kick off with a victory. They opened up a two-goal lead on CSKA Moscow, only to concede twice in the second period – the equaliser a penalty deep into added time – to be pegged back to a 2-2 draw.

It’s a live-or-die game for both sides, and when we take a look at Twelve’s leader board for the opening matches, we can see how a comparison between their players would be disputed.

Roma vs Viktoria Plzen Champions League Preview

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West Ham vs Chelsea Premier League Preview

West Ham vs Chelsea Preview: Hammers should fear the ugly sorcerer

West Ham claimed their first win of the season last time out while leaders Chelsea are looking to make it six victories from their first six matches. Sarri is striving for perfection and it brought him limited satisfaction to hear that he has emulated Carlo Ancelotti, Pep Guardiola and Craig Shakespeare by becoming the fourth manager to win his first five EPL games.

“I cannot change my mind because of one match,” Chelsea’s manager said. “My target is to be the best team in England, but not in one month. Maybe one season. Maybe a little more. But at the moment, in my opinion, Liverpool and Manchester City are better than us.”

But how can’t we say that Chelsea are favourites when eight of the top 10 players from both sides according to Twelve’s data are from the Blues? Read More

Chelsea vs Cardiff City

Chelsea vs Cardiff Preview: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Back in 1966, Italian movie director Sergio Leone released one of the greatest Spaghetti Western epics of all time. ‘Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo’ had Clint Eastwood in a remarkable role and is known for Leone’s use of long shots and close-up cinematography, as well as his distinctive use of violence, tension, and stylistic gunfights.

Well, maybe we’ll not see stylistic gunfights at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, but for sure there will be a lot of tension on the field. That’s because Cardiff City travel to London without a win to face a Chelsea side who have won all four league matches this season.

At first sight, it’s an easy match for Sarri’s rangers if we compare both teams on Twelve’s leader board. Of the top 10 players, only three are from the Bluebirds: Joe Ralls, Sol Bamba and Sean Morrison. Read More

Newcastle United vs Chelsea preview

Newcastle United vs Chelsea Preview: Hardest challenge for the Blues

If someone, a month ago, said to Maurizio Sarri that his players will adapt that fast to his ideas, he would not believe it. “For sure, in this moment, we are not at the top of our potential,” he said just ten days ago.

“I hope to be at the top of the potential of the squad in one or two months, but I don’t know. I hope that the second part of the season, for us, will be very good with a lot of points. I expect in the first part of the season some problems.”

Well, it’s early to project anything, but Chelsea leads the Premier League with Manchester City and Liverpool, with two wins and six goals scored. More importantly, we can identify Sarri’s ideas on his players’ behavior already.

Looking at Twelve’s leaderboard, Marco Alonso is the best performer of the team so far, with Jorginho – Sarri’s alter ego – and Pedro, the striker, right behind him. Take also the good job of David Luiz, N’Golo Kanté and Antonio Rudiger and you have the answer of good understanding of Sarri’s ideas. Read More

Chelsea Huddersfield preview

Huddersfield Town vs. Chelsea Preview: Do you feel Sarri?

Here we are starting a new Premier League season with great tactical ideas coming from the best managers on earth. And if Pep Guardiola, Jürgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino reigned before, there’s a new knight on Queensland. He’s Chelsea’s new manager, and he speaks with his hands.

For me it’ll be a pleasure to follow Italian coach Maurizio Sarri’s work at Stamford Bridge and bring it to you here on Twelve Football, using these amazing tools and producing some thoughts about tactics and analytics.

Sarri marks a significant shift in tactical strategy for Chelsea following 14 years of reactive counter-attacking football instigated by Jose Mourinho way back in 2004. It became a Blues tradition to hire coaches with principles of conservatism, with Andres Villas-Boas the notable exception.

From Rafa Benitez to Luis Felipe Scolari, from Mourinho’s second term to Antonio Conte, Chelsea had always preferred not to propose the match, but to suffer without controlling the ball. That’s coming to an end now.

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France and fencing on the run

France has done just enough to sneak by every opponent thus far, earning all but one of their five wins by one goal. They come into the final against Croatia as heavy favorites, however this will be a cautious game between two teams keen to avoid risks, both looking to grind the other down via their respective world-class central midfields.

I’ll compare the players who, for me, will have particular clashes between them and the results will determine the progress of the match.

For that reason, the head-to-head between Luka Modric and N’Golo Kante – the tournament’s two most impressive players – should define the World Cup final, both tactically and symbolically. Kante’s role is extremely important given Paul Pogba’s tendency to drift and Blaise Matuidi’s need to close down on the left wing, and the Chelsea midfielder certainly won’t choke; he has made more ball recoveries (48) and interceptions (19) than any other player at the World Cup.

On Twelve’s chart for Modric in attack, we can see where he created his best actions with the ball. Good passes and chances created around the 18 yard box. Also good long balls from behind the centre spot line.

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Allez Les Bleus, On The Counter-Attack

France have steadily improved as the tournament has progressed and are now starting to justify the hype surrounding their presence at Russia’s World Cup. They have kept three clean sheets from five matches and been largely untested thus far – even against powerful teams such as Argentina and Uruguay.

Didier Deschamps’ team proved to be comfortable when they let the opponents retain ball possession. When it happens, France is able to put their offensive threats – Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann – to play at their best in the situation they are more suited for: on counter attack.

Instead, when France were forced to control the game through possession, as they did against Uruguay, they faced trouble trying to provide their forwards with good chances.

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Uruguay’s last breath was a sad metaphor of their own

The great question for Uruguay was how to maintain their game model without Edison Cavani. As we talked about here, Uruguay’s strength is based on their duos’ work: Godin & Gimenez at the back and Suarez & Cavani at the front. Throughout the World Cup, there was no midfield build-up play star man or ideas that pushed the team to work the ball from the middle.

Tabarez likes the long balls. It was always like that, and there’s no difference in this 2018 team. Well, Cavani had important work as forward, sometimes building deep position in the six yard box, other times opening the field creating chances and giving assistance.

Against France, Cristhian Stuani, a 31 year old forward from Girona FC, was responsible for replacing the PSG star man, and replicating all his actions on the pitch. That would be a burden for any player, but especially for an ordinary forward with no great international background.

Looking at his Twelve dashboard, Stuani scored -14 points in 58 minutes played. A really terrible performance by a player who is expected to be a great part of the scene. A lot of errors and a poor job with the ball made Stuani’s performance forgettable.

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