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. It is a weekend of iconic matches, from the North London Derby and the Merseyside derby in England, to El Clásico in Spain and Napoli – Juventus in Italy.
Saturday, March 2nd
Tottenham Hotspur – Arsenal (Premier League), 13:30 CET
The North London derby comes at a good time for Arsenal and at a bad time for Tottenham. Arsenal have won five of their last six Premier League matches, only losing against Manchester City. In the past month, Unai Emery has been switching between formations with four and five defenders and seems to have finally integrated Mesut Özil back into the team.
Tottenham Hotspur lost against Chelsea midweeks, in a tight game that could have gone either way, but went Chelsea’s. Typical Tottenham, you say? Well, at Stamford Bridge, Tottenham did not show a lack of grit or willingness to work their socks off. What made them lose the game was not being able to find a way forwards despite Chelsea’s press and a very meager performance in terms of chance creation. Is that mentality, or quality?
If Spurs play their 4-4-2 diamond formation – which they did for parts against Chelsea – expect Emery to field a 3-4-2-1 to ensure a spare man in the build-up and a possible overload When one team has more players in a certain area or zone than the other team. in the halfspaces. Emery and Pochettino are both managers who are not afraid to switch things up tactically within matches, so emotions and derby feelings aside, this might turn out to be an interesting tactical battle.
The difference between these two clubs in the league table is only four points. Alongside Manchester United and Chelsea, it is going to be an exciting jostle for third and fourth place, in which this game can be crucial.
Tactical analysis by Erik Elias.
Borussia Mönchengladbach – Bayern Munich (Bundesliga), 18:30 CET
This is the best time of the season to meet Mönchengladbach, as their fantastic run of form is slowly starting to come to a halt, with only one point from their last three league matches. That they are still in third place after such a poor run of form is proof of their monumental Bundesliga season so far, even though RasenballSport Leipzig are breathing down their necks.
Against top opposition like Bayern Munich, Mönchengladbach’s manager Dieter Hecking has often tried to sit deep with his team in a 4-1-4-1 or 4-5-1 defensive organization, absorb the pressure and try to strike on the counterattack. Which is exactly how they won last time around against Bayern Munich – 0-3 final scoreline! – even though that was before Kovač got his act together and Bayern went back to winning ways.
Tactical analysis by Max Bergmann.
Real Madrid – Barcelona (LaLiga), 20:45 CET
El Clásico is never a small matter. In one of the most intense rivalries in world football, Real Madrid and Barcelona will face off for the 275th time, for the fourth time this season and for the second time this week. The overall balance in LaLiga clashes between these two giants of world football is near perfectly balanced. Real has 72 wins to Barcelona’s 71.
This season things are less balanced. Real have taken a 5-1 beating in what turned out to be Julen Lopetegui’s downfall as Madrid manager, and are fresh off a majestic lesson in efficiency – or a result very much going against the run of play, if you prefer – in the 0-3 Barcelona win at Bernabeu just two days ago.
In reality, both teams have had their struggles this season, although playing with the likes of Lionel Messi helps paper over the cracks with consummate ease. Let’s see if Barcelona’s elite-player-skill-turned-into-deadly-efficiency will prevail once more, or if Real’s superior chance numbers in the last meeting are indicative of better times to come.
Real Madrid’s home advantage perfectly balances Barcelona’s superior underlying numbers, which makes this game very hard to predict. If Real are to keep their idle title winning ambitions alive, a win is essential.
Tactical analysis by Om Arvind.
Sunday, March 3rd
Everton – Liverpool (Premier League), 17:15 CET
For some reason, this derby has the name of being the most dirty match the Premier League has to offer. More narrative than facts that one, since the last time a player had to leave the pitch due to a red card was a while ago. In April 2016, Ramiro Funes Mori decided to hack away at Divock Origi for fun and got sent off for it. Even though it might not be as warlike as the media would like you to believe, this game can still be tense, especially at a hostile Goodison Park.
A bit more history: the last time Everton won this game, in all competitions, was on 17 October 2010. Since then, Liverpool has been on an unbeaten that runs for 18 matches straight now.
There is hope however, since Marco Silva – after a disastrous run of three losses in a row – fielded a quite balanced 4-3-3 formation against Cardiff City. Morgan Schneiderlin was ushered back into the starting eleven and formed a midfield with Gylfi Sigurðsson and Idrissa Gueye, the attack was flowing and Everton collected a very routine win.
For Liverpool, pardon the cliché, all that counts is a win. They are racing Manchester City neck-on-neck for the Premier League title and if they want to win it, an away match against the league table’s number nine cannot pose any serious problems, can it?
Tactical analysis by José Perez.
Napoli – Juventus (Serie A), 20:30 CET
The Italian Serie A does not have a title race, at least not this season. Things looked to shape up that way over recent years, with Napoli edging ever close to Juventus’ impressive end of season points totals. In four seasons time, Napoli reduced the gap to Juventus from 24 to nine, to five, to last season’s four points. However, if the current season’s trend of a thirteen points gap at two-thirds of the season continues, we’re looking at a nineteen or twenty points margin and a potential Juventus title win at SPAL in six weeks time. Before the return matches of the Champions League quarter finals are played, that is. But for that to be relevant, the Bianconeri first have to erase the 2-0 defeat to Atlético Madrid.
Juventus will win the Serie A title, but to speed up the process they will definitely want to deal with Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli. This match probably also poses the biggest threat to their current unbeaten status in the league. If winning the Scudetto is not a challenge, might winning it unbeaten be something?
Tactical analysis by Peter M.
Olympique Marseille – Saint-Étienne (Ligue 1), 21:00 CET
A quick question up front. Which two teams are the record holders in terms of Ligue 1 titles? Indeed, Saint-Étienne (10) and Olympique Marseille (9). It will take at least two seasons, including this one, before Paris Saint-Germain (7) will have caught up with these two giants of French football.
Currently ranked fifth and fourth in the table, both Marseille and Saint-Étienne are serious threats to Lille and Lyon, who currently hold the second and third places that give entry to Champions League football next season. While both teams have near equal underlying numbers from open play, it’s in the set pieces where Marseille does a lot better than Saint-Étienne, who only rank thirteenth in expected goals from set pieces. On one hand this makes it hard to connect with the top teams, on the other hand, it’s quite clear from the stats where the key for Saint-Étienne’s final step currently lies.
Tactical analysis by Chris Baker.