Preview football matches weekend tactical analysis

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 list the matches that will be covered during this weekend, including a little preview of these matches. We’re tracking the title race in Germany, relegation zone battles in France, the entire top four in Italy will be covered, a top drawer clash in Brazil, an Eastern conference brawl in the MLS and of course… the FA Cup final!



Saturday, May 18th


Bayern Munich – Eintracht Frankfurt, 15:30 CET

It’s a real treat to get a Bundesliga title race that goes on until the last round of play. The last time that happened was in 2009, when Wolfsburg managed to defy all odds and grab the league title with a historically low amount of 66 points. Tomorrow, things will be different. The big favourite, Bayern Munich, is expected to win it, and all they need to do is win at home against the number six in the league.

Their opponent Eintracht Frankfurt have everything left to play for, as they are still eyeing fourth place. They do seem very fatigued in the past few weeks, which might be a logical consequence of the fact they had a deep European run for the first time in recent history, while not exactly possessing the squad depth to pull that off in accordance with competing in the league for fourth place. Number four Borussia Mönchengladbach has to play Borussia Dortmund while number five Bayer Leverkusen is set to square off against Hertha BSC. Meaning a win away at Bayern would not only shock the entire country, but could potentially also launch them into the Champions League.

Tactical analysis by Max Bergmann.



Borussia Mönchengladbach – Borussia Dortmund (Bundesliga), 15:30 CET

Dortmund have to hope for a small miracle in Munich. But before they can aspire to anything, they will need to collect three points away at Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Both of these teams prefer to be organized with and without the ball, as both managers like closed games more than open, chaotic games. This therefore might be one of those matches in which Dortmund acquires seventy percent possession, but only has ten shots. Lucien Favre won’t really care this time, as long as they manage a win and Bayern lose at home against Frankfurt. A win would see Mönchengladbach into the Champions League, meaning this is one of the most high-stakes matches of the Bundesliga season.

Tactical analysis by Erik Elias.


Manchester City – Watford (FA Cup), 18:00 CET

Yes, the importance of the FA Cup is waning every season. Due to heavier fixture load, more focus on European competitions and an overall increasement of spreading out the minutes players have to play across the season, the FA Cup has become less prominent. That being said, this is still the most prestigious and most coveted domestic cup in the world, meaning hundreds of millions of people will watch this match, traditionally played on a late afternoon on Saturday.

We all know how Manchester City plays, how they go about their business. Pep Guardiola will probably field his 3-2-5 formation, allowing his players to wreak havoc against a defensive opponent.

Watford might be a bit more unknowns. Barring any clever tactical plans from manager Javi Gracia, they will probably set up shop in their nominal 4-4-1-1- / 4-4-2 formation, close down the passing lanes. They do have some pretty combative midfielders, and a striking duo that can land a punch on the counterattack.

It would however be a small miracle if Watford would get a result from this match. Monumental performance if they cap it off, but a City win seems more likely.

Tactical analysis by Cem Soylu.



Real Valladolid – Valencia (LaLiga), 21:00 CET

The only place of interest in LaLiga’s league table going into the final round of matches is place four to six, where Getafe (58 points, +13 goal difference) will be looking to jump over current fourth placed Valencia (58 points, +14 GD). Behind them, in sixth place Sevilla (56 points, +13 GD) need both of them to slip up to stand a chance of making the fourth place.

Valencia have a trip to Real Valladolid coming up. Valladolid just played itself safe last week with a win at Rayo Vallecano, much to the relieve of their majority shareholder Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, also known as the old Ronaldo, or probably more justly, Phenomeno. Despite having the worst record in terms of expected goals from open play, Valladolid will see another year of top flight football.

For Valencia the task at hand is simple in its description, yet never simple in its execution. After a poor start to the season, where Marcelino’s men drew almost every game they played, Valencia started to catch up with their good underlying numbers and crept up the table, all they way to the much desired top four spot they hold now. Failing to make it past Arsenal in the Europa League, a win at Valladolid now is the only route left to qualify for the Champions League, an outcome that would seem in line with underlying numbers, which have Valencia as the third best team in the league.

Tactical analysis by Sérgio Sampaio.



Olympique Lyonnais – Caen or AS Monaco – Amiens SC (Ligue 1), 21:00 CET

Last week, we decided to watch and see what happened in the Bundesliga, before deciding what match we would write about. This weekend, we’re repeating that trick, but now in France!

PSG, of course, has already conquered le championnat, while Lyon’s win over Marseille more or less much sealed the deal for the much-coveted third spot, which grants a Champions League qualifier ticket. Meaning we will now shift our attention to the bottom, as the relegation dogfight is the only interesting battle left in France.

Remember when people said Monaco had too many good players to get relegated? Well, here we are. Number seventeen is safe in France, while number eighteen has to participate in relegation play-offs. If Amiens beat Monaco and Caen pull off a stunt against Lyon, all of a sudden with one game left to play, Monaco are seventeenth, and Cesc Fàbregas, Leonardo Jardim, Falcao, Djibril Sidibé  and all those other big names will have to make sure they get out of Monaco before having to spend a full season in Ligue 2.

Tactical analysis by Peter M.



Sunday, May 12th


Palmeiras – Santos (Brasileiro), 00:00 CET

Top of the table clash in the Brasileiro! Okay, we’re just four matches into the season, but Palmeiras are one of the title favorites and Santos enjoy a bright start under new manager Jorge Sampaoli.

The contrast in playing style between both teams could hardly be bigger. Led by legendary Brazilian manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, or Big Phil, Palmeiras play a resilient game from an organized defense-first set up. By contrast, Santos manager Sampaoli is a known protagonist of a fierce and aggressive pressing style, aimed to quickly regain possession practically anywhere on the pitch. This is exactly the style of play that led to the Chilean national team winning over so many hearts during Sampaoli’s reign as Chile manager from 2012 to 2016.

This period included the 2014 World Cup, Sampaoli’s Chile came very close to knocking out Scolari’s Brazil on home soil, only coming up short with three missed penalties in the shoot-out after a 1-1 draw. Scolari’s campaign, as we all know, ended in the national trauma of the 7-1 semi-final defeat against Germany.

Fair to say there is history between these two managers and we can’t wait to see another chapter being added.

Tactical analysis by Joel Parker.


Atlético Mineiro – Flamengo (Brasileiro), 00:00 CET

High-flying Atlético Mineiro dropped their first points of the young season in last week’s home defeat against Palmeiras. A relatively easy start to the season had resulted in three consecutive wins, but the first serious hurdle saw Atlético Mineiro stumble. This week, an immediate chance against another of the Brasileiro’s top teams presents itself in this clash with Flamengo, who look a bit troubled in the league recently. Their first four league matches already contained a loss at Internacional and a draw at Sao Paulo. Just this week Flamengo narrowly beat Corinthians in the Copa do Brasil and they hung on by the skin of their teeth at Club Atletico Penarol to make it through tier Copa Libertadores group. Balancing between all three competition will prove a tough task for manager Abel Braga and in that light the results in the early stage of the season may determine how priorities get shifted during the course of the congested Brazilian football season.

Tactical analysis by Tom Quartly.


Juventus – Atalanta Bergamo (Serie A), 16:00 CET

The champion of Italy against the most in-form team of Italy. Should be fun, right? Well, it’s a bit hard to predict the course of this game, because Juventus have been playing like a relegation candidate in recent weeks and Atalanta is coming off the back of a lost cup final. Hard to predict a match like that.

What’s not hard to predict is that Gian Piero Gasperini’s team will press high up the pitch, and we have seen Juventus struggle with that massively, most notably against Ajax. Might be fun to watch.

Atalanta are currently fourth in the league, with two games to play they hold a three-point advantage over their closest chasers AC Milan and AS Roma. If they manage a Champions League berth – bearing in mind the financial and reputational differences with their concurrents – it might be the biggest performance of this season’s Serie A.  

Tactical analysis by Om Arvind.



SSC Napoli – Internazionale (Serie A), 20:30 CET

Serie A’s number two against Serie A’s number three. Should be fun right? Well.. Internazionale have been offering the same old thing all season long. The same buildup pattern occurs time and time again, as one midfielder in their 4-2-3-1 comes deep to collect the ball, while the other one pushes up a bit more. If the ball is progressed, it is always progressed through the flanks. An extremely predictable, yet effective way of playing that has put them firmly in third place.

Considering Ancelotti’s tight 4-4-2 formation, this will probably be a tight affair, with few goals. Napoli are not fighting for anything, which may give this match a lackluster feeling. Are we in for a 0-0 here, or will both teams surprise us?

Tactical analysis by Peter M.


New York Red Bulls – Atlanta United (MLS), 23:00 CET

These two teams found themselves in surprisingly poor places early in the MLS season. New York Red Bulls recorded just a single win in their first seven matches and Atlanta were winless in their first six league matches under Dutch manager Frank de Boer. Hardly the start you would expect from either of these teams, who battled it out in the Eastern Conference finals last season after taking the first two places in the league table during the regular season.

Recently, however, both teams have picked up the pace and are moving up the table. Whatsmore, in a sharp turn of events Atlanta have now recorded five straight wins without conceding. Frank de Boer has always remained calm in his outings, stating that results would certainly come given their already impressive play earlier this season, even when Atlanta so often found themselves at the wrong end of the final score line. His brand of football revolves around patient circulation and working towards goal scoring chances, rather than pouncing on every opportunity. As such, the change of style may simply have cost some time to make its way through the club. Combined with a search for the most efficient defensive setup, involving a switch from three to four at the back, De Boer now seems to have his team on the right track, just in time for one of the most challenging trips in the MLS.

Tactical analysis by Josh Manley.

Erik Elias (25) is co-founder and chief editor of Between The Posts. Dutch, so admires Johan Cruijff and his football principles, but enjoys writing about other styles as well. Former youth coach. Scout. 'Quality without results is pointless. Results without quality is boring.' [ View all posts ]

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