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. While most domestic leagues enjoy a nice winter break, or some very welcome Cup matches – hello England! – our focus will be on LaLiga. Fun begins on Sunday!
Sunday, January 6th
Sevilla – Atlético Madrid (LaLiga), 16:15 CET
After a two-week winter break, LaLiga returns with a bang. Third-placed Sevilla make a firm push to challenge the perennial Spanish top-three of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid. Sevilla’s successful first half of the season is driven by their excellent offensive numbers, which rank them second in LaLiga, not too far behind Barcelona.
By contrast, Atlético have always relied on their world-class defense, and this season is no exception, although injuries to nearly all defenders have certainly had their impact. It is only more impressive then to see Atlético still boast the best defensive record in terms of expected goals conceded, although their numbers have gone down from the stellar level of previous years.
One of LaLiga’s best offenses will go head-to-head with the best defense. What’s not to like?
Tactical analysis by Guillaume Maebe.
Real Madrid – Real Sociedad (LaLiga), 18:30 CET
Just like FC Barcelona, Real Madrid are facing a very solid team this weekend. Real Sociedad are second in terms of expected goals conceded so far in LaLiga, as only Atlético Madrid have done better in that regard. It is quite possible that Real Sociedad’s board members are not familiar with those stats however, as manager Asier Garitano was sacked on Boxing Day. His former assistant Imanol Alguacil is caretaker manager for now.
And what a game he will be coaching! Being the head coach away at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu is not too shabby… And it gets even better if you realize Sociedad have a genuine chance of nicking points away from Real Madrid, as every LaLiga team has this season.
Solari’s team dropped another two points against Villarreal, midweeks. It has been a horror season for Real Madrid so far, as they are now arguably only the fourth best team in LaLiga. Solari relies more on flank play, tries to press the opponent a bit more, but it is not working at all. All in all, Real Madrid have only won nine LaLiga games – out of a possible seventeen – and need some serious rebuilding in this transfer window or the next.
Tactical analysis by José Perez.
Just how much flank play do you want?
Real Madrid almost exclusively moved the ball forward along the flanks, with both fullbacks being the prime supplier for the wide forwards, with vertical passes along the touchline. pic.twitter.com/ins9lx8XVw
— Between The Posts (@BetweenThePosts) January 4, 2019
Getafe – Barcelona (LaLiga), 20:45 CET
Getafe are a team that can hold off any LaLiga opponent on their day. Only Atlético Madrid (12) have conceded less goals so far in LaLiga than Getafe (13), an impressive stat that is partly backed up by their underlying defensive statistics. Last season, both Barcelona and Real Madrid won with the slightest of margins at Coliseum Alfonso Pérez – Getafe’s stadium – as they both booked a 1-2 win.
FC Barcelona has won four games straight in LaLiga. The key question for Valverde in recent months has been that of all European super clubs of the modern era: finding balance between midfield control and a dynamic attack, without being vulnerable for counterattacks. With an aging squad at hand – especially in midfield – it remains to be seen how Valverde will handle these tactical questions going into the business end of the season.
Tactical analysis by Martyn Davis.
Tuesday, January 8th
Nantes – Montpellier (Ligue 1), 19:00 CET
While most of Ligue 1’s teams still enjoy their winter break, Nantes and Montpellier have some catching up to do. Last month, this fixture had to be postponed due to national unrest surrounding the ‘yellow vests’.
A disappointing season opening saw Nantes quickly dispose of manager Miguel Cardoso, who came in with high expectations on the back of his success in Portugal, where he led Rio Ave to qualify for European football with a neat passing style of football. In came Bosnian Vahid Halilhodžić, a veteran manager who had led Japan to the past World Cup, only to be replaced shortly before the tournament started. Under the new man, Nantes are unbeaten in four home fixtures, scoring an impressive thirteen goals in the process.
Montpellier have slipped a bit, with just one win in five prior to the winter break, after making a very impressive start to the season. Curiously, only three teams created shots of lower quality than Montpellier, one of them being Nantes. Montpellier’s success is clearly driven by their excellent defensive performances, which saw them concede only thirteen goals in seventeen matches so far.
Can Nantes’ new-found offense break Montpellier’s sturdy defense?
Tactical analysis by Chris Baker.