Champions League final

2019 Champions League Final Preview: Defence Key To Victory

The 2019 Champions League final between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur promises to be an intriguing encounter. Since Jürgen Klopp took over the reigns at Anfield, the two teams have met eight times in the league. The record reads three Liverpool wins, one for Spurs and four draws.

But despite the balance tilting towards the Reds, the goal difference between the two is only one in their favour. Only one of the Liverpool victories has been by more than a goal, while Spurs’ sole triumph was 4-1 in October 2017.

We can therefore expect it to be a close run thing. Only two of the six previous Champions League finals between two teams from the same country have been won in normal time, with one of those – with Jürgen Klopp’s Dortmund on the wrong end of it – requiring an 89th minute winner.

With this in mind, which will be more important: attack or defence? Read More

Liverpool 1-0 Napoli

Liverpool 1-0 Napoli: View From The Press Box

Liverpool made a number of changes for this must-win Champions League tie against Napoli, altering their personnel and their formation from the weekend’s Premier League meeting with Bournemouth.

In that game Jürgen Klopp had gone with a mixed formation which resembled his 4-2-3-1, but in truth was more 4-2-2-2 or 4-4-1-1, using Naby Keita wide on the left, Shaqiri right, with Roberto Firmino dropping deeper than fellow forward Mohamed Salah.

For this crunch game it was back to the old favourite — 4-3-3 — and the old favourites, James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum, against the 4-4-2 of Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli.

Liverpool tactics v Napoli

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Barcelona vs Tottenham

Barcelona vs Tottenham Preview: Dembélé to send Spurs out?

Barcelona have secured top spot in Group B of the Champions League but with a final match against Tottenham at the Camp Nou left to play, the Catalans will want to finish the first round in style.

Tottenham will be hoping that Inter lose or at the very least draw against PSV in the other group match and will want to walk away with three points on Tuesday to qualify for the Round of 16. However, even with Ernesto Valverde’s team having already secured qualification and with a plethora of injuries hitting the team, things will not be easy for Mauricio Pochettino’s men.

Sergi Roberto, Samuel Umtiti, Arthur and Malcom are all out for the blaugrana. Nelson Semedo is playing to prove a point and make that right back position his to keep in Sergi Roberto’s absence.

In midfield, Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic, Denis Suarez, Coutinho and Carles Aleñá have made sure that Arthur’s absence isn’t felt. And at the back, Clement Lenglent has formed a formidable partnership alongside veteran Gerard Pique. Read More

Tottenham vs Inter

Tottenham vs Inter Preview: Spurs in high spirits ahead of crucial clash

Spurs go into their must win midweek Champions League clash against Internazionale in great spirits after pulling off their best performance of the season, beating Chelsea 3-1 at Wembley.

Spurs’ 3-1 scoreline against Chelsea was a flattering one for the Blues who were outplayed for 90 minutes and had Tottenham been more clinical, the score could have been even higher.

Spurs were rampant from the get-go playing with a high intensity, managing to create a number of chances before going 1-0 up after eight minutes after Dele Alli latched onto a free kick from Christian Eriksen and headed in.

Spurs made it 2-0 after 16 minutes when Harry Kane was given too much space on the edge of the box and his shot from 25-yards beat David Luiz and Kepa Arrizabalaga. Twelve’s algorithm rated Kane as the man of the match.

Chelsea manager Mauruzio Sarri said after the game that with Spurs if Inter Milan are to stop Tottenham they must thwart off their early high intensity onslaught in the first 30 minutes by disrupting their flow. Read More

Manchester United vs Young Boys Champions League preview

Manchester United vs Young Boys Preview: Attack! Attack! Attack!

After a disappointing weekend, Manchester United fans will be hoping the manager and players can redeem themselves somewhat when they take on Young Boys at home in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

On the back of a difficult period of fixtures, which has seen them face the likes of Manchester City, Juventus and Chelsea all away from home, United now have a string of easier games. The result against Crystal Palace suggests these matches won’t be as simple as they should be though.

However, you would imagine that despite their recent form, United should be able to secure a result against the Swiss side. Away from home, United won 3-0, thanks to goals from Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial, so a home victory shouldn’t be beyond them.

All eyes will be on Jose Mourinho’s team selection though, with him stubbornly picking Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku whenever they are available, regardless of their performances. This season, both have fallen way short of expectations yet Mourinho has persisted. Read More

PSG vs Liverpool

PSG vs Liverpool Preview: Will the real Liverpool please stand up?

PSG vs Liverpool has the potential to be a classic, a feast of attacking football which people will look back upon for years to come. But there’s a potential fly in the ointment; the Reds’ two away performances in the 2018/19 Champions League suggest they don’t stand a chance in Paris.

What’s weird about their losses at Napoli and Crvena Zvezda is that they are so out of character with Liverpool’s results this season. Granted, their performance level within matches they’ve won has left a little to be desired at times. However, as the following chart of their expected goal stats from the season so far will demonstrate, by this measure at least they’ve largely got the results they deserved. Read More

Lyon vs Manchester City

Lyon vs Manchester City Preview: Lyon To Themselves

The first game of City’s Champions League campaign happened to be their worst result of the season so far. A 1-2 reverse to Olympique Lyonnais has since been followed by several decisive European victories against Hoffenheim and Shakhtar Donetsk, but as City’s only defeat this season the memory still lingers.

Did Lyon’s win mean they have some sort of secret sauce to beat City? Not particularly. This was more City being out of sorts in their initial Champions League encounter

Lyon’s defensive shape was pretty high, though they were decidedly not pressing City’s center-backs, waiting until the ball moved to Fernandinho to apply pressure. This is generally the right approach as City can eviscerate a high press and conceding too much space is often a death sentence.

City’s Usage Rates from the game appear to show Lyon’s approach worked, with Fernandinho’s Usage substantially increased from his season’s average as he struggled with passing and lost the ball three times. That said, most of the time City failed in the buildup it was mostly their own making, not an exceptional Lyon effort. Read More

Juventus vs Manchester United

Juventus vs Manchester United Preview: Will United turn up this time?

The reason why both David Moyes and Louis van Gaal were sacked by Manchester United was their inability to guide Manchester United to the Champions League. The former was sacked two days after it became mathematically impossible for the team to finish in the top four, even though the reality was that it had been confirmed much earlier.

Van Gaal was sacked two days after winning the FA Cup with United in 2016. They finished fifth that season and therefore missed out on qualification for the elite European competition.

In contrast, Jose Mourinho booked United’s place in the Champions League at the end of his first season in charge after winning the Europa League. United bowed out in the first knock-out round following the group stage though, after putting up very little fight against Sevilla.

Still, in the following season, United finished second and again qualified for the competition, and supporters will be hoping for improved performances in this campaign. Read More

Crvena Zvezda vs Liverpool Champions League preview

Crvena Zvezda vs Liverpool: Close the gates and catch that Liverbird

It’s been more than a year since the Serbian giants lost a home game.

A deep look into the club statistics across all possible competitions would reveal a remarkable piece of information: the Belgrade behemoths last suffered a home defeat at the hands of Arsenal (1-0) on 19th October 2017.

Since that moment, Crvena Zvezda have embarked on an astonishing stretch which currently stands at 23 matches at Stadion Rajko Mitic without a single defeat.

It was in no small part that Crvena Zvezda goalkeeper Milan Borjan stands as the one player responsible for such an amazing feat. The Canadian international has been one of the most notable Crvena Zvezda players this season in the Champions League and Twelve’s numbers are there to support such a claim. Read More