Archive | August 2011

Barcelona vs Porto: Porto show the way to beat Barca…almost!

How to beat Barcelona? That has been one of the questions of the summer (or even of the last couple of season) and will be asked countless times this season. In the 2011 UEFA Super Cup, despite losing 0-2, FC Porto showed us how Barca can be neutralised.

OK, Porto actually lost the game, but there were some promising signs throughout the game.

The game finished 2-0 to Barcelona, with Barca having 9 shots, 5 on target, to Porto’s 8 shots, 2 on target. However, Porto were reduced to 10 men in the 86th minute with the score still 1-0, and then had another man sent off on 90 minutes. At that point, Barca had managed 7 shots, with 3 on target. The first goal also was a bit misfortunate (despite in part being caused by the Barca press), with Fredy Guarin passing the ball towards Sapunaru, who didnt anticipate the pass and missed the ball, which then rolled on to Leo Messi, who was 8 yards behind the defence and rounded the keeper to slot away.

There are two general views to playing Barca (or pretty much any team for that matter) – drop off and sit deep, or push on and press them. Porto took the second option here which largely worked quite well.

Before the first goal on 38 minutes, Barca had only had 2 shots, both off target (although it is fair to say they could have scored at least one – getting in behind the high Porto line both occasions).

Porto prevented Barca entering their defensive third for 12 minutes, from 16:45 on the clock until 28:20.

There were plenty of positives to take from the display of FC Porto, and here I will look at how they attempted to neutralise Barca and how they looked to attack them, how this differed to Man Utd’s attempt in last seasons Champions League final, and then a general look at how different formations faired against Barca last season.


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Coming soon: How to beat Barca

Coming soon, an article looking at how FC Porto played against Barcelona in the 2011 UEFA Super Cup, comparing the tactics to what went wrong for Man Utd in the 2011 Champions League final, and then a look at how teams played Barca last season.

Expected within the next couple of days, so please check back soon.

English Premier League: Two Weeks In – What Have We Learned So Far? (part 2)

Part 1 can be found here

Key to player dashboards (diagrams provided by FourFourTwo Stats Zone/Opta):

Everton – Full backs see most action, but Arteta key

Only one game played (due to the postponed game against Tottenham), so slightly harder to spot any recurring factors, but the two players to see the most action were the two full backs, and this was a similar case last season:

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English Premier League: Two Weeks In – What Have We Learned So Far? (part 1)

So we’re two rounds into the English Premier League 2011/12 season already and I thought I’d take a look at the some of the tactical highlights being shown by all 20 top flight teams. This article won’t be looking at formations (these are readily available in many places) but rather the key areas, strengths and weaknesses of individual teams football tactics, and key players.

You may think 2 games aren’t much to spot any ‘trends’ or traits, but Opposition Scouts will have to be doing this. I will look to revisit this every so often throughout the season, so we can see if those tactics we highlighted are continued and how effective they become.

Key to player dashboards (diagrams provided by FourFourTwo Stats Zone/Opta):

Arsenal – Neat Passing in midfield, problems either end

Nothing particularly of interest in terms of tactics from Arsenal. In their two games so far, Arsenal look to continue the same old short passing game, attempting an average of over 500 passes per game, with an average completion rate of 83%. Their main problem appears to be in the final third – only 5 shots from 23 (22%) have hit the target in the two games so far, and a significant reduction in chances created:

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Coming Soon: English Premier League – Tactical Observations So Far

After the second round of fixtures, I will be providing a run down of any tactical trends appearing over the first two games, for all 20 teams.

Please be sure to check back towards the middle of next week.

Keywords: football tactics, team tactics, premier league, soccer tactics, team analysis

Cesc Fabregas: Gone, But How Much Will He Be Missed?

Anyone who knows half a thing about football knows that Fabregas was an important player for Arsenal, and a recent feature on showed him to be 3rd in the Premier League all time assists per game ratio (only behind David Beckham and Thierry Henry), but just how much did Arsenal rely on him?

Overall Arsenal Performance

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West Brom 1 – 2 Man Utd: Promising Start Hides Man Utd Deficiencies

Following the scintillating Community Shield comeback against Man City, Man Utd started this game very strongly, having 69% of possession up to the first goal on 13 minutes. They completed 69 of their 84 passes (82%) in that time, compared to West Brom’s 24 from 37 (65%), and looked to be in line for an easy game.

However, as we saw numerous times last season (particularly away from home), they allowed the opposition back into the game. In the second 13 minute spell up to the 26th minute, West Brom made almost 3 times the amount of passes as in the first 13 minutes – completing 70 from 92 passes (76%).

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