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. With Christmas – and Boxing Day football – just around the corner, we are covering eight weekend games in total!
Friday, December 21st
Borussia Dortmund – Borussia Mönchengladbach (Bundesliga), 20:30 CET
The new year is almost upon us, the number one and two square off in the Bundesliga, and Bayern Munich is not even involved! Utter madness.
Not Bayern, but Dortmund are proud league leaders, even though they lost three valuable points against minnows Fortuna Düsseldorf midweeks. Playing Gladbach will be a bittersweet experience for Dortmund manager Lucien Favre, as he enjoyed his most prolific spell in the Bundesliga over there, but resigned after they lost the first five Bundesliga games of the 2015/16 season.
Underlying expected goal statistics do not show anything that suggest Mönchengladbach maintain their current position as runners-up until the end of the season. Whether this will be a very fun game that features loads of offensive action remains to be seen, as Gladbach are known to be a quite defensive team and happy to let other teams have the ball.
Tactical analysis by Max Bergmann.
Wolverhampton Wanderers – Liverpool (Premier League), 21:00 CET
Wolves have been very solid in games against top opposition this season. Even though at times Wolves have struggled to break down teams from the bottom end of the table, their 5-4-1 defensive formation might be perfect when playing against the top sides. Their organization is solid, while Rúben Neves and João Moutinho are great passers to feed the offensive players.
Using that recipe, they won against Chelsea, drew against Arsenal, drew against Manchester City and drew against Manchester United. Liverpool have to be considered warned men, even though they have some quality attackers of their own, as we all know. This probably will be a tight affair, even though Wolves’ record at home is questionable this season.
Tactical analysis by Josh Williams.
Saturday, December 22nd
Chelsea – Leicester City (Premier League), 16:00 CET
Because their current position as number twelve in the Premier League, it is easy to forget Leicester were the fourth biggest spender of last season’s summer transfer window. Apparently, splashing out does not automatically lead to good results on the pitch, as some Premier League clubs will tell you… (We’re not looking at you Fulham. Truly, we’re not. Or maybe we are.)
Anyhow, Leicester is enjoying a lukewarm season so far, and going away to Chelsea might just add to that, as #SarriBall is flowing in full force. This game probably will feature a home side with loads of possession, while Leicester sit back in their 4-4-1-1 or 4-1-4-1 organization, absorb the pressure and launch quick counterattacks through James Maddison and good ol’ Jamie Vardy.
Tactical analysis by Josh Manley.
Eintracht Frankfurt – Bayern Munich (Bundesliga), 18:30 CET
Are things back to normal for Bayern Munich? Or is the correct question to ponder whether they have ever been abnormal? Take a look at our statistics page and you’ll see Bayern are comfortably leading a whole host of important statistical categories. The one they are not leading, though, is the most important: the league table.
Adi Hütter’s Frankfurt can be a nuisance for Bayern’s slightly ageing squad. Under the Austrian manager’s guidance, Frankfurt have turned into a more physical and hard-pressing team than under his predecessor Niko Kovač, who – as you will know as avid football fan – coaches Bayern Munich nowadays.
Easy win for Bayern you say, eh? Well, this season’s quite the outlier so far, and this match might just add to the air of surprise that’s been hanging around the Bundesliga this season. Oh, and did we mention Luka Jovic?
Tactical analysis by Rowdy Nossent.
FC Barcelona – Celta de Vigo (LaLiga), 18:30 CET
After a topsy-turvy start to this LaLiga season, the league table is slowly but surely starting to take a more familiar shape. Barcelona leads, three points behind them are Sevilla and Atlético, with Real Madrid in fourth place. But this season has been all but smooth sailing for Barcelona, who rely heavily on a now 31-years old Lionel Messi to paper over the cracks. He rescued the team almost single-handedly at Levante, driving Barcelona to a win that was only really comfortable by the final 0-5 score line. Underneath this seemingly big win, there were clear issues with defensive stability and ball progression.
Celta de Vigo had a disappointing start to the season, with manager Antonio Mohamed not finding the keys to get this young side going. He was replaced by Miguel Cardoso, who had a great spell at Rio Ave, but came up short at Nantes. With just four matches under the new manager, obviously the jury is still out. However, after being overpowered by Real Sociedad, Celta have been unbeaten in three matches, including an impressive 2-3 win at Villarreal.
Tactical analysis by José Pérez.
Montpellier HSC – Olympique Lyon (Ligue 1), 20:00 CET
Ignore the Parisian super star team, and Ligue 1 is a very close battle. At least five teams are full-on in the race for the second place, currently held by Lille. Lyon are equal in terms of dropped points, while Montpellier even dropped one point less, but still have some matches in hand.
Looking at underlying numbers, it seems likely, though, that Montpellier won’t be able to compete with the bigger names around them. Their prime quality has been a stellar open play defense, with numbers only bettered by, yes, PSG. From set pieces they’ve been a bit more vulnerable, but their overall defensive performance is the main driver behind this season’s success so far.
Montpellier will match up interestingly with Lyon, whose main strength definitely has not been in defense. Rather, it is Lyon’s free-flowing offense that can be either a joy to watch on night when they ‘click’, or a frustrating view when the fluid interplay keeps breaking down. With all their offensive talent, Lyon has a lot to work with, as they have proven with impressive performances against one of the world’s best teams, Manchester City. To achieve success in the league, Lyon might need to work on a more reliable, stable offense to cut out the off days where the talent lacks the structure to shine.
Tactical analysis by Martyn Davis.
Juventus – AS Roma (Serie A), 20:30 CET
We’re three matches removed from the halfway point of the Serie A season and Juventus have dropped exactly two points. Two! A 1-1 draw with Genoa in October is the one thing that separates Juventus from a maximum result in the league. And to think that in that match they created over three times as many expected goals as their opponents. Long story short, Juventus are winning Serie A, again. Their focus after the winter break will definitely shift to the Champions League campaign, the ultimate target with a squad bolstered by one Cristiano Ronaldo.
No such luxury for AS Roma, though. The giallorossi are in the midst of a problematic season, with manager Eusebio di Francesco seemingly hanging onto his job on a week-by-week basis. Results-wise, things look far from hopeless, though, with the team currently in eighth place, just three points of the important fourth spot. The problem, however, is that all teams above them put up more impressive performances, and better underlying numbers.
On one hand, Roma have little to lose traveling to Turin to meet an undefeated Juventus side. On the other hand, the on paper toughest fixture of the season awaits them this weekend.
Tactical analysis by Peter M.
Sunday, December 23rd
Everton – Tottenham Hotspur (Premier League), 17:00 CET
For years going, the English Premier League has had a clear top-six-and-the-rest structure now. Everton’s role has always been to challenge for the seventh place, and this season looks no exception to that trend. Competition for the desired seventh place, however, has increased massively. Newly promoted Wolves make a great push, West Ham United are on the rise, Watford and Bournemouth exceed preseason expectations and a plagued Leicester City team is still fully in the mix too. Underlying numbers clearly give the benefit to Wolves, who might even be able to mount a top six challenge, but behind them Everton are fine.
Marco Silva, not generally known for his defensive coaching, has managed to limit the amount of shots conceded, though the quality of those shots has been a bit alarming at times.
Tottenham Hotspur have dropped points mainly to direct rivals. Losses to Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal might be indicative of a problem playing the big boys, particularly when taking into account that Tottenham have clearly been the underlying side in terms of expected goals in all three defeats. On the flipside, apart from a loss in a scrappy game at Watford, Spurs have defeated all other teams, and are currently well-placed as the best of the rest, behind City and Liverpool, in third place. A visit to Everton should provide a stern test for Tottenham’s ambitions to push higher.
Tactical analysis by Chris Baker.