Between the Posts tactical analysis weekend preview: a look at the games we will cover this weekend
Welcome to the weekend primer of Between the Posts, where we preview the matches that will be covered during this weekend, including a little preview of these matches. We have two games from France to offer, ‘El Regreso’ in Spain, two games from Spain, an FA Cup clash and the Derby della Madonnina to finish the weekend.
Friday, March 15th
Lille OSC – AS Monaco (Ligue 1), 20:45 CET
It is March and Monaco are six points clear of the relegation zone. If you would have told them about this situation before the season, they would probably be shocked, but now, it comes as a relief. The transition from Jardim to Henry and back to Jardim has wrecked their season, but in the past few weeks, based on a solid defensive organization, things have been going to right way.
Jardim has gone back to basics, instilled a very basic 4-2-3-1 that turns into a 4-4-1-1 or 4-4-2 without the ball. Funnily enough, their opponents Lille play exactly the same formation and are solid defensively as well, which means this probably will turn into a tight match with little room to play in, with a few key moments deciding the contest.
Tactical analysis by Josh Manley.
Saturday, March 16th
Real Madrid – Celta de Vigo, (LaLiga), 16:15 CET
After three editions of El Clásico in one month time, Real Madrid will play an even more special match this weekend. El Regreso, the return. No one less than Zinedine Zidane will take over as the third manager of Real Madrid this season. Zidane, under whose guidance Real blasted to the triple Champions League win. And Zidane, who himself left this summer, hinting on the club needing “a change, a different voice, another methodology”. Well, Real certainly got a change with Lopetegui and Solari, who proved unable to live up to expectations, for various reasons. It is now up to the man himself to re-establish the club, after signing not just for the rest of this season, but for three more.
Opponents Celta de Vigo are no strangers to managerial changes and failures to meet expectations themselves. In eerie similarity with Real Madrid, Celta are now up to their third manager of the season, Fran Escribá, the man who led Villarreal to an impressive fifth place in the 2016/17 season.
Two new managers, both in search for stability. Zidane to establish a base to work upon for next season, Escribá with the bare necessity of keeping Celta in LaLiga.
Tactical analysis by Om Arvind.
Hertha BSC – Borussia Dortmund (Bundesliga), 18:30 CET
After being the surprise package of early Bundesliga action, briefly enjoying a second place in late September, Hertha BSC are now residing in bleak mid-table territory. Their underlying statistics suggest that they are exactly where they should be, as they are experiencing a quite dull season altogether, with no chance of Europa League qualification and no relegation worries.
A difference of day and night with their opponents Borussia Dortmund, who have to win this game in order to stay in contention for the Bundesliga title. If one would look at the Bundesliga league table, one could be temped into thinking this is a tight and end-to-end title race. Recent form suggests Dortmund will not be able to take it home this season, as their lead has shrunk from nine points to zero. Something their expected goal numbers The amount of goals a team is expected to score based on the quality of the shots they take. long suggested by the way, but that’s a story for another day.
What to expect from this match, then? Dortmund having the ball a lot, as Hertha sit back in their defensive organization with five at the back. Breaking down extremely defensive opponents has been a problem so far this season for Dortmund, so keep an eye on this one.
Tactical analysis by Carl Carpenter.
Wolverhampton Wanderers – Manchester United (FA Cup), 19:55 CET
Manchester United should be scared for this one. There is a whole slew of matches this season that prove Wolverhampton Wanderers know very much what to against England’s top-six. Even though recently, manager Nuno Espírito Santo exchanged his favored 3-4-2-1 formation into a more conservative 3-5-2 shape. One way or another, Wolves are compact and organized without the ball and fast and direct with it.
For Manchester United, games are coming thick and fast now. Last Sunday, for the first time as United’s manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjær saw his team lose a game in which they were the better team. The fact this is an FA Cup match and there are no more replays at this stage of the competition will only add to the drama, as Wolves are extremely hard to break down.
Tactical analysis by Erik Elias.
Sunday, March 17th
Bayer 04 Leverkusen – Werder Bremen (Bundesliga), 13:30 CET
Football is hard to predict, but this match looks to be an attacking and intense contest. Bremen’s manager Florian Kohfeldt said it is hard to stop Leverkusen from creating scoring opportunities and said his team will try to defend through attacking. Werder‘s wing overloads When one team has more players in a certain area or zone than the other team. might be able to penetrate Leverkusen’s pressing approach. Leverkusen manager Peter Bosz asks the wingers to tuck in and press in the middle. As a result, the fullbacks are often unable to control the whole side on their own.
On the other hand, the pace of Leverkusen’s attacking department could be very dangerous for Werder‘s defense as it might exploit Bremen‘s biggest weakness: slow central defenders and midfielders.
This is the last chance for Werder Bremen to keep in touch with the sixth place in the league table, as they are now trailing sixth-placed Leverkusen with six points. So, two attacking teams meeting each other with something genuine at stake. What’s not to like?
Tactical analysis by Max Bergmann.
Everton – Chelsea (Premier League), 17:30 CET
In a severely reduced Premier League weekend, this is probably the standout fixture. Everton and Chelsea have both been knocked out of the FA Cup by Championship teams in January – Everton by Millwall and Chelsea by Sheffield Wednesday. For the home team, this season has been nothing but bleak. With most of the season played, it still remains hard to pin down what manager Marco Silva exactly wants to achieve in terms of playing style. Since December, Everton have only beaten four Premier League teams, three of which are in the bottom four, and Bournemouth, who are in a kind of free fall for months now. Underlying numbers provide little consolation for Everton fans, with the club putting up performances fitting with their bleak mid table position.
Meanwhile, Chelsea are having a very interesting season. So many debates have already surrounded the team, it’s kind of easy to forget this is still Sarri’s first season in charge. We’ve had stories of an impending managerial sacking, a goal keeper refusing to be substituted, a veteran striker teaming up with his old manager and of course the pending two-window transfer ban. Amidst all of this, Chelsea made it to the Europa League quarter finals in convincing fashion, and are still well in the mix for the top four.
Tactical analysis by Joel Parker.
AC Milan – Internazionale (Serie A), 20:30 CET
The Derby della Madonnina – named after the statue of the Virgin Mary on top of Milan’s Duomo – is everything. It is the Rossoneri against the Nerazzurri, the working class against the Bourgeoisie, and the battle for the bragging right in the shared San Siro stadium.
Milan go into this game on the back of an excellent run. Six wins and two losses in eight Serie A games since the winter break have seen the team propel up the table, past rivals Inter, into third place. With the acquisition of Krzysztof Piątek and Lucas Paquetá, Milan have seemingly hit two home runs, and a return to Champions League football – for the first time in six seasons – looms on the horizon.
Inter fans are going through less rosy times at the moment. Their club suffered a painful Europa League knockout against Eintracht Frankfurt, and since the winter break Inter have been defeated by Torino, Bologna and Cagliari. With just a three points cushion to fifth placed Roma remaining, this slide could end in drama if Spalletti does not find a way to get his team going any time soon.
Tactical analysis by José Pérez.
Real Betis – FC Barcelona (LaLiga), 20:45 CET
Barcelona this season are living proof that a team with structural deficits can still come by on the basis of elite individual talent. On more than one occasion, Lionel Messi single-handedly papered over the cracks in Valverde’s so far still incomplete puzzle. Having ditched last season’s pragmatic 4-4-2 formation, Valverde now plays a 4-3-3 shape. After initially trying to squeeze both Ousmane Dembélé and Philippe Coutinho both in the starting eleven, recently Valverde opted for more midfield stability and a place on the bench for one of the aforementioned stars. With Dembélé now sidelined due to injury, we can expect Coutinho to play on the left flank, ahead of a more conservative ball-retention focused midfield setup. With Barcelona leading LaLiga by seven points, qualified for the quarter finals of the Champions League, and a Copa del Rey final waiting in May, this is simply another splendid season. However, even Messi and co will feel their age sooner rather than later.
This season has been a bit of a mixed bag at best for Real Betis. Manager Quique Sétien definitely has them playing a very recognizable brand of high-volume passing play. But only two wins in their last nine matches, being knocked out of the Copa del Rey – by Valencia – and the Europa League – by Rennes, have smothered what could otherwise have been a rather optimistic season.
Tactical analysis by Peter.
Paris Saint-Germain – Olympique Marseille (Ligue 1), 21:00 CET
PSG have nothing to play for in this season after crashing out of the Champions League against Manchester United. Ligue 1 is practically won, as PSG are currently seventeen points clear of Lille and have a game in hand.
So how will they look for the remainder of the season? Well, alongside performing well in the cup, Sunday night’s le Classique against Marseille might be one of the few matches left in which they will have to be on their best to win.
Rudi Garcia’s men are fourth in the league and are in solid form. For the first time this season, Marseille have been able to string together a good set of results, garnering thirteen points from their last five league games. Some of those wins were ugly, some of them were genuine good performances.
Recent form aside, this is a historic match in France and even though it is not played in the fiery Stade Vélodrome, expect some sparks to fly around now and then in this match.
Tactical analysis by Cem Soylu.