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. In this article, you can find out which games are going to be featured on our site during the weekend, including a little preview of these matches. Seven games in total!
Friday, December 7nd
Juventus – Internazionale (Serie A), 20:30 CET
What’s a better way to kick-off your weekend than the Derby d’Italia? This classic fixture is played on a Friday night, to give both teams the optimal chance to prepare for the final round of matches in the Champions League group stage, later that week. And who are we to object to such a tasty affair on a Friday night?
Juventus might be well underway to their eighth consecutive Serie A title, hosting Inter is always going to mean a fierce contest is on the cards. Boasting the third best open play defense, and the fifth best offense, Inter will be aiming to take revenge for last April, when Juventus overturned an Inter lead with two goals in the final five minutes.
This Derby d’Italia is also a clash between two well-respected managers who have fought out some interesting tactical battles with their respective teams over the past ten years. Juventus manager Allegri holds a slight advantage, with four wins for him and three for Inter manager Spalletti.
Tactical analysis by Josh Manley.
Saturday, December 8th
Bournemouth – Liverpool (Premier League), 13:30 CET
Points-wise, Liverpool are having an extraordinary season so far. Going unbeaten for fifteen games, this is officially Liverpool’s best start to a top-flight season in their 126 years as a football club. They are easily on the way to crush their previous best point tally in the Premier League, which stands at 86 (2008/09 season).
There’s this other pretty decent side in town nowadays, though. You might have heard of them: Manchester City. Pep Guardiola’s team are still holding a two-point lead over Liverpool, but are playing Chelsea away from home on Saturday evening. There might be a chance that Liverpool ends the weekend as Premier League leaders.
Bournemouth are no pushovers, however. It is early December and Eddie Howe’s side, quite surprisingly, find themselves in seventh place. They have played a variety of formations so far, ranging from 4-4-2 to 3-4-2-1 to 4-2-3-1, and are fifth in the league in terms of Expected Goals Per Shot Conceded.
Tactical analysis by Erik Elias.
Schalke 04 – Borussia Dortmund (Bundesliga), 15:30 CET
The Revierderby – named after the mining area where both clubs are from – is always a heated affair. These are both big, big clubs, with gigantic stadiums and huge fan bases.
Going into the match, the difference between both teams couldn’t be bigger, as Dortmund have not lost a Bundesliga game all season, while Schalke are in twelfth place and have only scored a meagre 14 goals all season. It has been a complete melt-down for Schalke this year, with little going young Domenico Tedesco’s way.
Since their sensational 3-2 win over Bayern Munich, Dortmund have picked up another six points, albeit it with less spectacular football, but winning nonetheless. They are without a doubt the most stable Bundesliga team at the moment, and hold a seven point lead over second-placed Borussia Mönchengladbach and a nine point lead over Bayern.
Tactical analysis by Max Bergmann.
Chelsea – Manchester City (Premier League), 18:30 CET
Well, well, well. Will this be the first time Manchester City lose a game this season? Pep Guardiola and Maurizio Sarri both want their teams to have the ball and hunt for it when it is lost, so this might be a very fascinating duel between two sides that are very good in regaining possession.
Chelsea are in a bit of a rough spell, having lost two of their last three Premier League matches. It might not be a coincidence that the losses came against Wolves – when Jorginho was not playing – and against Tottenham Hotspur – who effectively took the deep playmaker out of the game with their tactics. The Brazilian playmaker is paramount to Chelsea’s play in possession, and how City will adjust to him is perhaps the key tactical question.
Since the summer of 2017, Manchester City haven’t been out form in domestic league play. It has been a remarkable run, as City have only lost 2 of their last 52 Premier League matches. It is a hard task at hand for Maurizio Sarri’s men, but somebody has to keep the title race interesting, right?
Tactical analysis by Om Arvind.
RCD Espanyol – FC Barcelona (LaLiga), 20:45 CET
Isn’t LaLiga fun this season? We’re fourteen matches in and only five teams have conceded more goals than both Real Madrid and Barcelona. Okay, it’s only fair then to add that Barcelona’s offense bailed them out of most holes, and that they still lead the table. It says a lot that, even with significant defensive problems, Barcelona are still favorites for the title, by a mile.
Espanyol, meanwhile, have won six out of seven competitive matches at their Estadi Cornellà-El Prat, impressing with five clean sheets. Based on a solid defense, Espanyol were among the early season surprises, before their recent slump of three losses on the trot put a dent in their ambitions.
Two crucial Barcelona players might return in time for this tricky Derbi de Barcelona. The presence of Suarez seems essential as Barcelona’s focal point in attack, and Arthur looked to be the ingredient that finally made Barcelona’s struggling midfield tick.
Tactical analysis by José Pérez.
Sunday, December 9th
US Sassuolo – Fiorentina (Serie A), 12:30 CET
A mid table clash between two teams that have recently slid down the Serie A table after inspiring starts to their seasons. Sassuolo recorded just a single win in their last eight matches, while Fiorentina did even worse by collecting just two points from their last seven games. In football, there is always hope, though, and both teams certainly have their specific things to look at for.
Sassuolo looked good in the two matches we dissected earlier this season at Between the Posts, where they impressed with their passing game, but lacked sting in the final third.
Fiorentina’s issues become clear by looking at their underlying numbers. In open play La Viola concede just 0.48 Expected Goals per match – a feat only bettered by… of course, Juventus – but their open play offense comes in at just ninth, with 0.81 Expected Goals per match. Disappointing numbers from an offense featuring talents like Federico Chiesa and Giovanni Simeone, but still enough to inspire confidence that Fiorentina will improve on their current twelfth place in the table.
Tactical analysis by Guillaume Maebe.
Monday, December 10th
Everton – Watford (Premier League), 21:00 CET
In midweek Premier League action, Watford came very close to nicking a point from Manchester City, which is a feat that is impressive on itself, if one takes into account especially how prolific this City side is. Even though Watford switched to a 4-2-3-1 shape against Pep Guardiola’s team, Watford are one of the few sides that regularly play two strikers, which has been one of English football’s trademarks for years. A tidbit that speaks volumes about the Premier League’s development from a tactical point of view.
Everton are not able to string together a set of good results. The most games they have won in a row is two, but they find themselves in the Premier League’s top-six nonetheless. They lean on a stable organization, which grants them the fifth best record in terms of Expected Goals conceded. Their attacking numbers are subpar though, if their manager Marco Silva can improve that, they might be in for a little surprise.
This is not the most high-profile match of the weekend, but might just be a nice high-energy Premier League game, and what else are you doing on your Monday evening anyway?
Tactical analysis by Martyn Davis.