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 reveal the matches that will be covered during this weekend, including a little preview of these matches. Fun mix this weekend, as we cover one European Qualifier, the Nations League final, one MLS game and two Brazilian matches.
Saturday, June 8th
Turkey – France (Euro 2020 Qualifiers), 20:45 CET
After unexpectedly losing out on the first spot in their Nations League group, France have refound their World Cup form, even showing more ambition on the ball than they did last summer in Russia. Their last official match, a 4-0 thrashing of Iceland in late March, turned into an exhibition of attractive football, combining the guille of Parisian street football with the positional play and counterpress combination that has become common at the European top clubs where nearly all French players are employed.
Whether this is a definitive style change for Didier Deschamps’ team, or a one off, remains to be seen. Turkey should be warned however; they are only one spot above Iceland on FIFA’s world ranking and could be in for a proper beating if they are not careful.
Şenol Güneş was appointed manager in March, as his interim contract was officially upgraded to a permanent one last week. This provides more hope for a fun game, as Güneş prefers to have the ball and seeks to play on the opponents’ half when possible.
Güneş managed Turkey when they had their biggest triumph, a semi-final at the 2002 World Cup. He chose the same progressive way of playing there as well, up until the semi-final against Brazil, avoiding to retreat on their own half whenever possible. The downside is clear too; when Güneş was managing Besiktas two seasons ago, the same approach away at Bayern Munich in the Champions League, lead to a 5-0.
One look at the group standings is enough to understand the importance of this match. Let’s hope the match lives up to it.
Tactical analysis by Josh Manley.
Standings Group H, Euro 2020 Qualification.— Erik Elias (@erikelias_) June 8, 2019
1. France 2 - 6 (+7)
2. Turkey 2 - 6 (+6)
3. Albania 2 - 3 (+1)
4. Iceland 2 - 3 (-2)
5. Andorra 2 - 0 (-5)
6. Moldavia 2 - 0 (-5)
Palmeiras – Athletico Paranaense (Brasileiro), 21:30 CET
Palmeiras has started the season with flying colors. Even though they have played one match less than the other teams in Brazil, they are leading the league with sixteen points from six matches. The one match they are lagging behind the rest of the league is a suspended game, wherein they were leading against mid-table side Botafogo. Most goals scored and least amount of goals conceded. So yeah, things are going pretty well for Felipão and his men.
Mixed bag for the opponent, however. Missing out on the Recopa Sudamericana (the Super Cup of South America) after winning the first leg is characteristic for their season, as it is mostly inconsistency that sets them apart. In this match, expect Paranaense’s young playmaker Bruno Guimarães to dictate play from deep, attempting to poke holes in Palmeiras’ 4-4-1-1 defensive setup.
Something unique that definitely sets apart Brazil from Europe is the way the association officiates the league. The Brazilian domestic league goes on during tournaments like the famous Toulon youth tournament. When Paranaense asked for their young and prodigious fullback Renan Lodi to be left home for the Toulon youth cup, the CBF had a very creative solution in store. Lodi was banned from playing matches until the Toulon tournament is over. Welcome to Brazil!
Tactical analysis by Tom Quartly.
Sunday, June 9th
Philadelphia Union – New York Red Bulls (MLS), 01:30 CET
Philadelphia Union are a physically fit outfit that attempt to put the opponents under pressure early. Sounds familiar? Well, it might, because that is exactly the way most Red Bull clubs go about their business. Meaning this might be a very intense game with loads of counterpress situations, which are always fun to watch.
The Union come off the back of a very effective game, exactly the type of run-and-gun game that can occur when two teams intent on pressing battle it out with each other. They now lead the pack in the Eastern conference, which is testament to their vibrant way of playing. The Red Bulls go into this match as the number five, only four points behind the Union however, as point differences are still small in the early stages of the season.
Tactical analysis by Carl Carpenter.
Netherlands – Portugal (Nations League), 21:00 CET
Historically speaking, these teams do not have any reason to like one another. Portugal knocked the Netherlands out of major tournaments in 2004 and 2006, and indirectly in 2012. The last confrontation was in a friendly match last summer though, a match that was won comfortably by the Netherlands.
In terms of tactics, it will be interesting to see whether Fernando Santos sticks to the 4-4-2 diamond approach that looked very shaky from a defensive point of view against Switzerland. The Swiss were a lot better, actually, creating twice as much expected goals The amount of goals a team is expected to score based on the quality of the shots they take. as the Portuguese. Even though the midfield and attacking personnel is of a very high level, Santos cannot seem to put together a coherent playing style that gets the best out of his players. They have stumbled into the Nations League final, as they have stumbled into the semi-final, as they have stumbled into winning the European Championship in 2016.
Whether Fernando Santos makes adjustments to his defensive formation or not, the Netherlands will probably see more of the ball, leaving Portugal withdrawn 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. As Bernardo Silva is not an industrious number ten that can be deployed to neutralize Frenkie de Jong, Santos will have to come up with a plan to weaken the Dutch buildup.
The Nations League aside, this match will be the stage for some of football’s finest young talent of the moment in De Ligt, De Jong and João Félix. Add in two players that might be the best at their position right now – Virgil van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo – and this might turn out to be a cracker of a final.
Tactical analysis by Peter M.
Monday, June 10th
Fluminense – Flamengo (Brasileiro), 00:00 CET
This is a huge derby in Brazil. Fla – Flu, as it is aptly called, is the game between two of the clubs from the Doze Grandes, the biggest twelve clubs in Brazil. These two clubs do not only share a city, they also share a stadium, which happens to be one of the most famous stadiums in the world, the Maracanã. All 80.000 seats will be filled for this one, you can count on that.
Flamengo is the bigger club historically, and traditionally has a bigger budget. Their fourth place does not reflect the fact they have the biggest fan base of the country. Coming into this game, they are heavy favourites, coming off the back of a last minute Copa do Brasil win. The managerial switch from Abel Braga to Jorge Jesus is too fresh to count on a substantial difference in the playing style, meaning they will probably keep relying on the possession-oriented 4-2-3-1 formation in the coming weeks.
Fluminense are sixteenth, and simply have a lack of quality in all lines to hope for anything more than a mid-table finish. Danielzinho and Yony Gonzalez are exceptions to that rule, while young João Pedro (17) has been on fire in recent weeks.
If this match doesn’t deliver tactically, there is still the atmosphere and twenty-two combative players on display. Go watch it!
Tactical analysis by Joel Parker.