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. This weekend, we track the title race in England and cover several games that are instrumental in the jostle for European tickets in France, Italy, Germany and Spain. And of course, we have some business in Brazil and the MLS as well. Ten matches in total!
Friday, May 3rd
Juventus – Torino (Serie A), 20:30 CET
It is common knowledge in Turin that the majority of calcio fans in the city are fan of Torino, while most of Italy’s juventino’s live outside of the city itself. This was also backed up by a benchmark survey by Statista.
The Derby della Mole comes a bit too late in the season, as Juventus is already champion. The reason this game is still attractive lies in three factors:
I) Torino are one of the hottest teams in Italy now, having lost just one of their last fourteen domestic league fixtures. Even though their run is based on some overperforming in both finishing and conceding, it is still noteworthy and interesting to see if they can do it in the hardest fixture Italy has to offer: away at Juventus.
II) The race for fourth, fifth and sixth spot in Italy is one of the most exciting in Europe’s top leagues. Fourth-placed Atalanta Bergamo and eight-placed Lazio Roma are separated by only four points.
III) Juventus are not in good shape, losing five points in their last three matches. Even though it may hold less weight since Juve are already crowned champions, they do not want to lose this derby in their own home.
Tactical analysis by Erik Elias.
Saturday, May 4th
Borussia Mönchengladbach – TSG Hoffenheim (Bundesliga), 15:30 CET
Gladbach hosting Hoffenheim is one of two out-and-out battles this weekend for the final top four spot in the Bundesliga, the other being Frankfurt against Leverkusen, previewed below. With three games still to play, both of these teams need a slip up from Frankfurt, who have a busy fixture list, as the Europa League semi-final against Chelsea is an incredible exciting opportunity, but also a heavy burden considering all of their domestic concurrents are out of European competitions.
There is more that these two teams have in common, as neither Gladbach manager Dieter Hecking, nor Hoffenheim manager Julian Nagelsmann will be at the club next season. Hecking will be replaced by current Red Bull Salzburg manager Marco Rose, a much sought-after commodity who had long been rumoured to go to RB Leipzig. However, with Rose leaving the Red Bull imperium, it is Nagelsmann who goes in the other direction, joining Leipzig.
Gladbach and Hoffenheim really need a win to avoid a potential six points gap to fourth place, and to distance themselves from the other teams chasing that all-important Champions League qualification.
Tactical analysis by Max Bergmann.
Newcastle United – Liverpool FC (Premier League), 20:45 CET
Having played midweeks against FC Barcelona, Liverpool now have to turn their attention back to the Premier League title race. Newcastle is on the menu, a side that – stylistically speaking – can be just the type of team Liverpool struggle against.
If you say Newcastle, you saw low defensive block. A low block refers to a team that retreats deep in their own half out of possession, generally only disrupting their opponents around their own box. All season long, they have relied on a compact 5-4-1 formation on their own half, allowing virtually no space. Newcastle have conceded 45 goals, which is seventh-best in the Premier League. Their goals scored record currently sits at 36, which is the fourth lowest. Pep Guardiola once said that you cannot play an open game against this Liverpool. Well, fair to say this won’t be an open game!
There is another – quite ironic – element to this match, as Rafa Benítez is managing Newcastle. His biggest success when coaching Liverpool was winning the biggest trophy in European club football: the Champions League. Nevertheless, there was always a sense that he could have won a Premier League title as well, and be the manager to break Liverpool’s streak of titleless seasons, stretching all the way back to 1990. Surely he will be a bit more motivated to keep that exact same streak alive now?
Tactical analysis by Tom Quartly.
Palmeiras – Internacional (Brasileiro), 00:00 CET
The 2019 Brasileiro is a week old and most of the recurrent patterns have already been seen. The fixture list for Brazilian clubs is the definition of hectic. We’ve got the two legged Copa do Brasil, group stages of the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana, and the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol cramped a double round of fixtures of the Brasileiro in the first week already.
Palmeiras confirmed their status as one of the top team in a 4-0 thrashing of newly promoted Fortaleza, only to drop valuable points in a 1-1 draw at CSA, also promoted and probably the weakest team in the league. Manager Luiz Philipe Scolari applied the concept of rotation to the max, with only striker Deyverson starting both league matches. Managing in Brazil is a job that requires a manager to constantly make fitness choices and rotating smartly, but a drop of points at CSA can hardly be acceptable.
Internacional took a hit with a 2-0 loss at Chapecoense, but recovered instantly with a 2-1 home win over title favorites Flamengo. Up next is a tough week with a trip to Palmeiras followed by an away match at River Plate, although Internacional is already secure of the top place in their Copa Libertadores group.
The fixtures come thick and fast in Brazil and we can only enjoy that.
Tactical analysis by Erik Elias.
Sunday, May 5th
D.C. United – Columbus Crew SC, 02:00 CET
As far as traditions go in a young league as the Major League Soccer, these two teams have it. D.C. United and Columbus Crew SC have both been present in the MLS right from the start in 1996. Both play in a 20.000 capacity soccer specific stadium, Columbus Crew SC being the first franchise to do so, and D.C. United moving to their new Audi Field just last season.
The similarities don’t end there, as last season, both finished on 51 points with a W-D-L record of 14-9-11. A superior goal difference meant D.C. United took fourth place, which proved meaningless in the end when Columbus Crew overcame D.C. United’s home advantage by knocking them out after penalties in the first knockout round of the playoffs.
With ten games played this season there is not a lot of light between the teams in the Easter Conference, even though Columbus Crew SC’s four game losing streak saw them slide down the table recently.
D.C. United haven’t won at home since mid March and Columbus Crew SC will aim to end their losing streak at Audi Field. We’re in for a nice game with two teams who already have a lot to play for this early in the season.
Tactical analysis by Carl Carpenter.
— Columbus Crew SC (@ColumbusCrewSC) 2 mei 2019
Getafe – Girona (LaLiga), 12:00 CET
These two teams have everything to play for, albeit at opposite ends of the table. There a just three matches to play in LaLiga and Getafe could well qualify for the Champions League. If they manage and equal or better points total than Sevilla from their final three matches – Girona at home, Barcelona away, Villarreal at home – Champions League football in Getafe’s limited Coliseum Alfonso Pérez becomes a reality. Obviously depending on other results, Getafe looks in need of the full three points and it will be interesting to see how this compact defense-first team will deal with those demands.
However, don’t be fooled by Getafe’s place in the league table. They currently pose a -3.5 expected goals difference, which means they project around mid table in terms of estimated team strength. Should they quality for the Champions League, that would be an immense event obviously, but it will also open the doors for the ‘small squad can’t cope with the demands of an extra competition’ when they drop back to their more realistic mid table spot next season.
Girona are on of three teams with a two points margin to eighteenth placed Valladolid. After a hopeful start to the season, Girona slipped down the table with just a single win in the whole of December, January and February. That win was an impressive feat nonetheless, 1-2 at Santiago Solari’s hapless Real Madrid. Last week’s surprise win over Sevilla cut short another poor streak of six losses on the trott and it could well be that Girona will need to repeat that trick to avoid dropping into the relegation places.
Tactical analysis by José Perez.
SS Lazio – Atalanta Bergamo (Serie A), 15:00 CET
With four matches to play in Serie A, no less than five teams still have a realistic shot at fourth place, and the associated final Champions League qualification. Atalanta have the best outlook, with a one point advantage over AS Roma, three points over Milan and Torino and four over Lazio. However, with away games to Lazio and Juventus part of their run in, there is every chance for the teams right behind.
Atalanta have the best offensive numbers in Serie A, both in terms of goals scored and in expected goals. Their free flowing offense of Papu Gomez, Duvan Zapata and Josec Ilicic is supported by bombarding wingbacks on either flank in Hans Hateboer and Robin Gosens, who regularly chip in with goals and assists.
Even though Lazio are only four points off fourth place, they will need to overtake four teams. This makes a home game against current fourth placed Atalanta a must-win for them. Based on underlying numbers, Lazio should definitely be in contention, pairing the sixth best offense with the fourth best defense by expected goals. The amount of goals a team is expected to score based on the quality of the shots they take.
Tactical analysis by Joel Parker.
Bayer Leverkusen – Eintracht Frankfurt (Bundesliga), 18:00 CET
Off the back of a hopeful draw against Chelsea, Eintracht Frankfurt now have to be at their best against Bayer Leverkusen again to secure their fourth place in the league table. Frankfurt now experience the fixture load of a big club, albeit without necessarily possessing the required squad depth for a deep European campaign and a successful finish in the league table.
From a tactical point of view, this match will most likely feature a lot of possession for Bayer Leverkusen. Eintracht Frankfurt will have no problems setting up in their medium block, A medium block refers to a team that retreats in their own half out of possession, generally only disrupting their opponents some way into their own half.R as manager Adi Hütter will probably draw up a pressing trigger or two, A pressing trigger is a specific pass or movement by the opponent that draws out a coordinated team press.to prevent Bayer Leverkusen from entering Frankfurt’s half in controlled buildup situations.
Since both teams play direct and aggressive in moments of transition, this also has the potential to turn into an Umschaltspiel as the Germans call it. Frankfurt’s physical state might limit them in an intense game, meaning there is also a scenario at hand wherein Hütter plays more defensively than he would normally do.
Tactical analysis by Josh Manley.
Olympique Lyonnais – LOSC Lille (Ligue 1), 21:00 CET
The two best clubs in France not called Paris Saint-Germain. Well, both of these clubs beat PSG at home, that’s not the point. The point is they are ranked second and third in Ligue 1 and in terms of player quality, these squads are probably also the second and third of the league.
Lyon have a very small chance of catching up with Lille, as they are six points behind with only four games to play here. In essence, Lille are also a bad opponent for Lyon, as they can soak up pressure in their 4-4-1-1 shape and strike on the counterattack.
Both clubs will face an exodus of talent come summer, as in the modern game, if you are not at the utmost top of the transfer food chain, you will get stripped of your best players ruthlessly. Making this perhaps one of the last genuine games in France for the likes of Pépé, Fekir and Depay to show their talents. Make sure to watch it.
Tactical analysis by Siddharth Ramsundar.
Monday, May 6th
Manchester City – Leicester City (Premier League), 21:00 CET
If Manchester City win twice, they win the title. Since the other game they have to play is away at Brighton, this match probably offers the biggest chance for a slip-up and therefore deserves your Monday evening attention.
Potential party poopers Leicester are still in contention for the ‘best-of-the-rest’ title in the Premier League, even though they are trailing Wolves by three points and their fixtures are not favorable. Their young talents have colored the league and after a very bad spell in January and February, but especially since Brendan Rodgers is at the helm, they re-found their rhythm and are now a solid upper mid-table side. Another ex-Liverpool manager that has a role to play in the title race, by the way…
The game in Leicester was lost by Manchester City, mind you, because Leicester formed a compact 4-1-4-1 block, defended well and counterattacked fiercely. Coming off a 3-0 win against Arsenal adds to the feeling that if it might go wrong for Manchester City this season, it will be in this match. It is worth noting the preview plot below, specifically title implications.
Tactical analysis by Peter M.