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. This weekend is compact, yet it offers some genuine clashes from Italy, Spain and Germany.
Friday, April 5th
Girondins de Bordeaux – Olympique Marseille (LaLiga), 20:45 CET
Here’s a nice quiz question to open this preview with. When was the last time Bordeaux lost to Marseille at home in the league?
The way this question is posed might already make you think there is something special going on here. And rightly so. Chances are you haven’t even experienced a single Bordeaux home Ligue 1 defeat in your life, since it’s been 42 years (!). This impressive series now spans 33 matches (20 wins, 13 draws). Quite some stakes involved in this one for the home side to keep this series intact.
History aside, it’s been a very bleak season for Bordeaux. It started early with the Europa League qualification rounds that resulted from last season’s sixth place finish, it contained the group stage exit behind Zenit and Slavia Prague and it now sees the team sit out the season in thirteenth spot.
Olympique have more to play for this season, chasing fourth placed Saint-Étienne by just a single point. Aiming higher seems problematic, with the gap to Champions League qualification at seven points currently.
Tactical analysis by Peter M.
Saturday, April 6th
Bayern Munich – Borussia Dortmund (Bundesliga), 17:30 CET
‘As big as it gets in Germany’ is probably the correct way to describe this game. A pivotal part of a serious title race between the two biggest clubs of the country, going against each other in a game that can almost be described as a direct duel for the title.
For Dortmund, their biggest achievement might be that they made it this far and this match is still relevant. The past two months, Bayern seemed to steamroll over the Bundesliga in usual fashion, but here we are, seven games from the end, with Dortmund leading the league by two points. Even though some random finishing also played a roll in that…
So, what to expect from this match tactically? It probably will not be as vibrant and energetic as the November match that turned into a crazy 3-2 win for Dortmund. What most people probably forgot about that match is the fact Bayern competely dominated in the first half, only to get hammered on the counterattack time and time again after the interval.
Since then, Barring a crazy tactical twist by Dortmund manager Lucien Favre, his team will probably withdraw in their nominal 4-4-1-1 shape, try to keep Bayern out of their defensive organization and strike on the counterattack.
If Dortmund win this match, they lead the Bundesliga by five points, with six matches to play. That’s a big deal. Go watch this game.
Tactical analysis by Erik Elias.
Juventus – AC Milan (Serie A), 18:00 CET
When the Italian league was the best in the world, this was one of the most exciting matches in the world. Fast forward twenty-five years or so, and this has almost become an irrelevant fixture, an almost certain routine win for Juventus at home. Barring a Super Cup win after penalties, the last time AC Milan beat Juventus was in late 2016, when a wonderful second half strike by Manuel Locatelli tipped the game Milan’s way. It might be an advantage however that Juventus have to play Ajax in the Champions League Wednesday, and a certain 40-50-goals-per-season striker is still out injured.
In recent weeks, Milan are seriously endangering their top four spot, earning only two points from their last three league matches. The defensive side of things has been a problem all season long, as only the way Milan defend set pieces is genuinely elite in Italy. How much of that is coaching and how much is quality at the back is hard to tell as outsiders.
Tactical analysis by Josh Manley.
FC Barcelona – Atlético Madrid (LaLiga), 20:45 CET
It is interesting to note just how much Atlético Madrid’s approach against LaLiga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid have differed in the past few seasons. Against Real Madrid, more often than not, Atlético have pressed high up the pitch and tried to disrupt Real’s buildup. None of this seems to apply in matches against FC Barcelona, as they frequently park the bus, which they do better than almost any team in the world, by the way.
Ah, yes, Atlético’s famous defensive system. Check out the stats, together with Valencia, Atlético are lighting up the defensive numbers in Spain. As he has done in the past, manager Diego Simeone briefly flirted with a less conservative method this season, but stuck to the old recipe once the results did not go Atléti’s way. Simeone appears to understand the need for evolution but is always forced to trust his defensive instincts when the experiment does not work out.
What to expect at Camp Nou Saturday evening? Lots of possession for Barcelona and a Griezmann-led counterattack or two, that’s for sure. If Barcelona win the game, the league is more or less over, so let’s root for an Atléti win.
Tactical analysis by José Pérez.
Sunday, April 7th
Internazionale – Atalanta Bergamo (Serie A), 15:00 CET
Many Italian powerhouses struggle to meet expectations in this season’s Serie A. Roma are going through a turbulent spell, where new manager Ranieri might not even finish the season. Milan are in a loooooong transition period where a change of ownership should lead to stable Champions League qualifications. And Internazionale, well… Pazza Inter, right? The way attention gets split between on and off pitch events can never be beneficial to the level of football, with the ongoing saga surrounding striker Mauro Icardi getting more sequels than the Godzilla movie series.
The new kid on the block here is certainly Atalanta Bergamo, whose fresh and exciting attack-first style is rapidly winning fans over. Driven by the most prolific offense in the league – two goals more than Juventus – Atalanta are just a single points of a Champions League qualification spot. The way things are set up, Inter can hardly permit a loss here, or they might just get dragged back into the mix of teams fighting for the remaining top four spots behind Juventus and Napoli.
Tactical analysis by Chris Baker.
Everton – Arsenal (Premier League), 15:05 CET
When is the time to assess whether you’ve got the right manager or not? One would expect a team to have at least a rough idea with over three quarters of the season played. Well… things are not so easy at Everton right now.
On one hand, Marco Silva should be given time as the club is obviously still in transition to recover from the severely disbalanced squad cropped with central offensive midfielders to arose over recent years. With high profile summer acquisition Richarlison and a more than decent input of late by Bernardo, the offensive band of their 4-2-3-1 formation looks well in place. The striker position looks less settled, with Calvert-Lewin – still only 22 years old – and Cenk Tosun failing to fully convince as strikers to build a stable top half Premier League team on. Would all of this be enough to excuse Marco Silva failing to improve things so far, or would Everton’s hit-and-miss season prove costly for him?
Transition is clearly the buzzword at opponents Arsenal too. Moving away from the Wenger era was always going to take some time, and making too harsh statements at this point in time does not sound like a sensible plan. The main area of concern is definitely the defense, where Arsenal puts up just the eighth best defense by expected goals conceded. Obviously, there are personnel issues in play and injuries don’t help, but still, the tactical questions remain for now.
Two teams in transition with pressing issues regarding the tactical structure facing off in the business end of the season. What’s not to like?
Tactical analysis by Joel Parker.