Germany vs Sweden Preview

Germany vs Sweden Preview: The World Cup’s Meanest Defence Will Win

The business end of this gruelling Women’s World Cup 2019 is upon us, with the quarter-finals up next. Germany vs Sweden sees two European heavyweights meet at Roazhon Park on Saturday to decide who will face Italy or Netherlands in the semi-final.

While both teams have looked good in possession and scored a lot of goals, it’s the Germans who look unbeatable at the back, having yet to concede a goal in this tournament. The Swedes have been good, but have shipped three thus far.

Hence this tie could boil down to how Sweden’s attackers break down a resilient German defence. If they fail in that, then Germany would have a very good chance as they haven’t failed to score in a single game yet. Read More

China vs Spain

China vs Spain Preview: Chance for both teams to reach the last 16

As we enter the final match day of the group stage, China vs Spain, a group B encounter which takes place at Le Havre, will decide who will join likely group winners Germany in the knockout stage of the Women’s World Cup.

Looking at the current standings, La Roja are second on virtue of a better goal difference and a draw on Monday will be enough for them to go through. From China’s viewpoint, by knowing that the four best third-placed teams will also reach the last-16, they may qualify even if they don’t beat Spain.

Currently, they are second in the best-ranked third-placed teams and a point is enough for them to contest a potential last-16 match against possible group D winners England or Group C winners Italy. With the qualifying scenarios put aside, let us take a look at how the two sets of players have performed so far. Read More

New Zealand vs Netherlands

New Zealand vs Netherlands Preview: European Champions the favourites here

When the final day of the first round of fixtures at the Women’s World Cup 2019 commences, we will see New Zealand vs Netherlands in a group E match at Stade Oceane.

While the Football Ferns come into this tournament as the underdogs, the Orange Lionesses arrive as reigning European champions, with some high-quality players at their disposal.

This is New Zealand’s fourth consecutive World Cup appearance after a 16-year hiatus between 1991 and 2007. They haven’t gone past the group stages each time, which really underlines their credentials as the ultimate underdogs. Read More

Mohamed Salah Leroy Sane Premier League wingers

Tactical Analysis: Contrasting Style of Premier League Wingers

The Premier League has seen an array of wingers in years gone by. But with managers willing to try different things to adapt to the modern-day game, we have witnessed the wingers performing different roles in different set-ups. Below we will analyse the distinct types of wide players, focusing on England’s top flight.

Firstly, let us define the role. A winger is an attacking midfielder who plays in wide areas, from where they can cross the ball and dribble past defenders. All in all, they are present to support the attacks from the sides of the field. Generally, a player playing in this position possesses pace to make runs in behind the defence, especially on counter-attacks.

The “yesteryear football” in England was predominantly about teams playing the 4-4-2 system with two wingers high and wide, crossing the ball on a regular basis with two strikers present in the box to attack those deliveries. Sir Alex Ferguson won countless trophies with Manchester United playing the flat 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1.

Back then the full-backs were defenders first, who would move forward if given the opportunity. However, the tale has changed in the modern game. The full-backs are like half-wingers themselves, hence they move forward whenever the team is in possession. It has made their job tougher in a positive sense, as they have to run up and down the pitch for the whole game, with a chance of making an impact at both ends of the field. Read More

Wolves vs Liverpool

Wolves vs Liverpool Preview: Van the man to stop Jiménez?

After beating Napoli and Manchester United in the space of five days, Liverpool are in seventh heaven at the moment. They have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League after coming out of a difficult group, and are the league leaders in England. Hence we can feel something is going well at Anfield under the tutelage of charisma itself, Jürgen Klopp!

However, the season doesn’t end here and games come thick and fast during the Christmas period. Next up for the Reds is a tricky away game against newly-promoted Wolves at Molineux on Friday.

Historically, away fixtures at promoted teams haven’t been easy for established Premier League clubs. And Nuno Espirito Santo’s men are looking anything but a side who were playing Championship football last year. Read More

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolverhampton Wanderers tactical analysis: A breath of fresh air

We expect promoted teams in the Premier League to be defensive. We anticipate a cautious approach from their managers, and eventually a lack of goals hits them hard as the season progresses. This has been the downfall of many sides in relegation fights.

However, there was one team that chose to have a clear footballing identity to their game, from the first whistle in their first top-flight season after six long years – Wolverhampton Wanderers. Right from their opening game against Everton at Molineux, there were patterns in their build ups, pressing structure off the ball and exquisite work-rate to help each other on the field.

We could vividly witness a football team operating together, and all 11 men are buying into what the manager is asking them to do. It’s working too; at present they have the fourth best underlying statistics in the division.

Credit goes to the gaffer, Nuno Espirito Santo, who arrived at the club in the summer of 2017 and got the Old Gold back into the Premier League in his first season in charge. The former Porto goalkeeper always has his own way of playing football, and he doesn’t back away from that if there is a situational change. Let’s take a closer look at how the 44-year-old sets up his side.  Read More

Chelsea

The changing impact of the Chelsea midfield under Sarri

We always talk about changing ways in which a team play their game when there is a switch in manager. This was not really the case when Chelsea replaced Jose Mourinho with Antonio Conte. The Italian was akin to the Portuguese in a way that defence-first was the order of the day for both. It rather agitated the Blues’ fans as teams began to work that tactic out, and the football became boring.

So making a progress in the style of play was in need before the start of this season. The board responded by hiring ex-Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri. A banker by trade, Sarri did not play football professionally. He took part in amateur games as a central defender and coached a few youth teams while performing his day job.

From Empoli to Naples, the 59-year-old created his reputation as an attack-minded coach. It was contrasting to what we generally hear about Italian born coaches, who put emphasis on being defensively solid.

Sarri’s philosophy mirrors high-intensity football with passing patterns and pressing of the highest order. A high-line defence and a narrow front-line to create space for fullbacks are the key denotations. The midfield is something which should be closely looked at, especially when we compare his system to that of Conte at Chelsea. Read More

Guardiola and Klopp

The contrasting use of full-backs by Guardiola and Klopp

Whenever we hear the word full-back in football, there seems to be a varied concept in people’s minds circling around. Back in the day, the job of a full-back was to stay close to their centre-backs and defend, occasionally making runs forward. However, the modern-day usage of a full-back is something different, not really alien to the previous version, but a bit more attacking and adventurous.

A right-back or left-back now acts as a winger in possession moving forward at every opportunity. They should have the awareness of making recovery runs or staying in good positions while defending. As a result, many managers in the past decade have their front-line very narrow, because they depend on the full-backs to provide the width on both sides of the field.

There are two such managers in the Premier League who make use of these players in a contrasting way: Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. The former’s 4-3-3 system is quite different to the 4-3-3 of the latter, so let’s take a closer look at how Guardiola and Klopp employ their full-backs. Read More