The Tactics Thread

Sven

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lol but it do make sense on the article. They seem to compare Simeone with Bielsa.
 

acmilan4ever

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Yeah it does, just read it. I actually commented on first glance without reading the article when i saw sanchez vidal and medel.

The second slide is, perhaps, even more interesting. It shows that Catania, when it attacks, switches to a three-man defense, with a sweeper or defensive midfielder drafted as an additional centre-back. It is in this role, pioneered by Matthias Sammer, that Simeone shined as a player; it is from here that somebody can easily dictate the tempo in a zone system. On the upper right corner one can almost see a player completely free, and indeed, by dropping the holding midfielder, a team is able to let the fullbacks surge and fully integrate themselves into the offensive schemes. More or less, this technical lore comes away as a Catalan achievement: Guardiola showed us what damage can be done by shifting to a mixed 3-4-3 system when in possession, and make no mistake, Barcelona is always in possession.



Like Bielsa, overall Simeone seems to like to have a mix in the midfield. Alongside the obvious presence of a holding player, it is common to see at the Massimino a mobile combination of wing-backs, traditional wingers and winger/playmakers—the idea being, to put it in pseudo-scientific terms, that to a diagonal surge through the middle to latch on to second balls corresponds an equal force to retreat and assist your outside centre-backs when the opponent is raiding down that particular flank.
 

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how would you stop Barca? what system will you use to counter them and is there any team in the world which could have a go at them by adding just two players?
Madrid not included they are the club of the last century and they are contend with it

My answer would be two strong midfield players who can destroy and create plays together ala Carlo-rijkaard partnership and a counter attacking force ahead of them

So I choose current milan+schweni:proud:+pastore so much speed and tenacity
-----------pastore/or(old ricky kind of player)---------

-schweni---MVB-------Boa--------
Even this team could get their but kicked.. :eek: :mad:
Dont make it a dream formation/signing thread
Thanks
 

Az.

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how would you stop Barca? what system will you use to counter them and is there any team in the world which could have a go at them by adding just two players?
Madrid not included they are the club of the last century and they are contend with it

My answer would be two strong midfield players who can destroy and create plays together ala Carlo-rijkaard partnership and a counter attacking force ahead of them

So I choose current milan+schweni:proud:+pastore so much speed and tenacity
-----------pastore/or(old ricky kind of player)---------

-schweni---MVB-------Boa--------
Even this team could get their but kicked.. :eek: :mad:
Dont make it a dream formation/signing thread
Thanks

The way i see it ,there are only two ways to stop Barca:

-one is to get a full on defensive team like inter did last year ,and have good finisher up front who can make the most out of the 3 or 4 chances you`re going to get playing like that.

This is by no means an ideal solution,but for a decent budget is the best option out there.

-The second one is simpler,but it cost a shitload of money and time. Basically just play like them,make you`re team a carbon copy of Barcelona.Now to explain my self further :

Barca`s greatest strength in my eyes is that they only play one formation and only have one philosophy.Some might argue that this is there greatest weakness but its not,when you have all the pieces to the puzzle like they do.

All there players are brilliant passers on the ball,they rarely make a pass thats more then 10 meeter long,and always always press the other team with all there players.Passing like that and pressing assures you constant control over the ball,even if you loose it ,you always have players nearby ready to take it back.

But this requires that you have players with murderous passing precision,the likes of Messi,Xavi,Iniesta and the rest of the squad.There`s no single player in there first 11 that cant pass the ball really good in a 10 meeter radius weather under pressure or not.

Then there`s the mentality,they never sit back.Whenever one of does 10 meter passes is made,the team moves forward ,as they pass the squad gradually establishes it self in the opposition half.Constant pressure on the opponents combine with deadly passing ability and players like Messi who can make something out of nothing is what you need to beat them.

If you want Milan next year to beat them at there own game we would need massive improvements to the squad,something like this:

--------------Pato------Ibra-------
-----------------Pastore--------------
--------Modric--MVB----Fabregas
---Taiwo--Nesta--TS---Abate----
------------Abbiati------------


This formation would be a mix of the two tactics posted above,so by no means it would guarantee success but we would give them a good run for there money with two great CM`S and one great AM.

Why i say this is a mix ?Because Taiwo &Abate are by no means slick passers of the ball ,but with enough practice in the summer,they could prove decent alternatives and you know there good at pressing at least.And last but not least a real problem is Ibra.

And not because the so called CL jinx,its because i simply dont see him doing the necessary pressing to mimic Barca`s playing system.But he can create something out of nothing,and i really dont see us investing in two CM`S one AM and striker.Ibra will have to do,and step up his game even further.
 

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I dont agree with carbon copy, they are best at what they do and thats in their blood, defeating them in their own game is not a wise idea we will be left with many tired and frustrated players and lot of goals in our post
TBH it would be suicidal
an Essien kind of player is so needed to deflate them and a holder

make a brick wall and counter, dont chase the ball , let it come to you and blitz...
 

acmilan4ever

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United actually started off strongly when they were pressurizing Barca and getting in their faces, they need to do that for 90 mins to have any chance at beat them - unfortunately they didnt have the right players for this, Park and Carrick were pretty shit. Fletcher was obviously missing, even Anderson could have been used to get in their faces. This is pretty much the way to stop Barca, stop them from playing their usual game and disrupting their rhythm.

Next year there could be a few teams that might possibly stop them, one never knows.
 

Armin__m

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Barcelona`s main strenght imo is the way they pressure the opposition. Sure, they can all pass well and combine superbly in the opposition half, but they score a lot of goals by taking the ball around the opposition box and quickly creating a scoring chance. If we were to witness a Barcelona vs Barcelona match (like in PES or Fifa) I believe it would be a match with a lot of goals, most of them coming from defensive mistakes caused by the oppositon pressuring all over the place..

Their pressuring also doesn`t allow opponents any space to start an organised attack, and there are two solutions for this, either counter-attack or play the long ball..

If we were to play agianst them next season, I`d like to see us impose our game on them, but if it fails, my second choice would probably be the long ball to Ibra and when he manages to bring it down, we`d have their not so great defense to deal with. Of course, it`s not that simple, but we have players who are able to make a simple, yet very effective pass that takes out the entire defense leaving a player in a one-on-one situation. We also have maybe the best CB for playing long balls in Silva..

I`m really looking forward to next season in the hope that we finally get back to being contenders for the CL. I trust B&G to make our team strong enough to fight for the title, and then it`ll be up to Allegri to make it all work, and he seems good enough for the task.
 

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Barcelona 2010 v Milan 1990
By: Gianfranco | June 1st, 2011
As I took in a second viewing of Barca’s dismantling of Manchester United, I simply couldn’t resist the comparison everyone is talking about. Is this Barcelona team better than the AC Milan team of the nineties that I grew up with as a child? Now I admit, it will be virtually impossible for me to come to an unbiased conclusion. Sacchi and Cappello’s Milan were my introduction and education to football as I know it, and frankly there could have been no better teacher. But Pep’s Barca has now arrived into some rarefied air, three straight La Liga titles and 2 out of 3 in the CL means that the great Milan squad of my youth may have finally found a true rival.

http://acmilan.theoffside.com/champions-league/barcelona-2010-v-milan-1990.html


Barcelona 2011 vs. AC Milan 1990

by Jonathan Wilson | Tuesday April 19, 2011

Ask anybody who's done it, and they'll tell you that sustaining success is much harder than achieving it in the first place. The great Hungarian coach Bela Guttmann refused ever to spend longer than three years at a club because he felt that after that he could no longer motivate players. It may be that in the modern world of soccer in which money begets money, success is easier to sustain than previously, at least on a domestic level. On a European scale what that means is a cluster of perhaps eight or so super powers constantly battling for the Champions League, which is surely the main reason no side has successfully defended the title since the AC Milan of Arrigo Sacchi in 1990.

Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/jonathan_wilson/04/18/2011barca.acmilan90s/index.html

Fifa Ballon d'Or Special: Comparing AC Milan 1989 to Barcelona 2010

Parallels between that Rossoneri team and Barca's current side
By Paul Macdonald | 9 Jan 2011

http://www.goal.com/en-gb/news/2885/europe/2011/01/09/2296731/fifa-ballon-dor-special-comparing-ac-milan-1989-to-barcelona
 

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GreatKalu

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------------ Pippo
-- Clarence --------- Kaka'
-Ambro ----- Pirlo --- Gattuso
Janku -- Maldini - Nesta - Oddo
---------- Butter fingers :star:

As long as the ref is fair, this team will destroy the midget army of importers :lol:
 

Sonny.Bill.Williams

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Nice read if you into stats etc:


Comparing the Best Soccer Leagues in the World



The article is a little bit of this, that, and everything from SBTN - some highlights and some low lights - intended for people with an interest in analytics but not necessarily expertise in soccer. One caveat up front: comparing leagues is inherently tricky business, if for no other reason that the data quality may be uneven and can be subject to limitations unknown to the analyst. As a result, differences attributed to style of play may reflect data collection techniques rather than real differences on the pitch. In any case, I bet regular readers of this blog will recognize most of it. Enjoy.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you live in the U.S., trying to follow top-level soccer isn’t always so easy. Sure, with MLS we now have a viable and high quality professional soccer league in the U.S., and it’s lots of fun to go to MLS matches, especially in the new built-for-soccer stadiums. But the truth is that the very best soccer is still played in Europe and will be for some time to come. So one of the perennial questions soccer fans have debated over the years is which leagues are the very best, and how you may be able to tell. To answer that question, UEFA, Europe’s soccer governing body, has been in the business of measuring the quality of leagues. This is meant to take some of the subjective judgments out of the debate, but more importantly, it helps UEFA determine how many teams from each league get a chance to participate in the crown jewel of international soccer competition, the UEFA Champions League.

UEFA does this by calculating a so-called league “coefficient,” which is determined by the results of the clubs of the leagues in UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League games over the past five seasons. UEFA’s most recent (2010) coefficients of the European leagues reveal the following hierarchy of leagues: the English Premier League (EPL), Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A, and the German Bundesliga are currently the top 4 leagues with some distance to spare (with the leagues in France, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Portual, and the Netherlands rounding out the top 10 leagues). A closer look at the coefficients reveals rough parity between the English and Spanish leagues (with coefficients around 80) followed by Serie A and the Bundesliga (with coefficients around 65). And this sounds about right; if you asked soccer professionals – coaches and players – where they want to work, these are the leagues that would likely rank highest in their minds.

An important and interesting follow-up question for soccer analysts is whether the style and quality of play differ across these four in important ways. At the level of players, the question would be whether moving from one league to another is akin to moving from, say, the AFC East to the NFC West in American football. At the level of teams and managers, the question is whether performance measured in one environment (speak: league) is comparable to performance in another – no manager wants to overpay for performance in a league that’s nothing like the one the player is hired into.

One indicator of a league’s quality may be how its teams do in head to head competition with teams from other leagues in Champions League or Europa League play. But there is surprising little else we know about how leagues compare, and it is difficult to develop very strong prior expectations about what the data might tell us about league differences in style and quality. On one hand, one might expect that leagues’ results reflect different, perhaps national, styles of play and tactics. So, off the bat, one might expect to see fewer shots on goal in countries like Italy and Germany that are traditionally known for a more defensive style of play than in countries like England, where teams have traditionally played a more physical game or Spain where a more open offensive possession-dominated game has predominated. On the other hand, one might argue that these leagues have become so thoroughly internationalized from the youth academies up, with player and manager movement and the diffusion of soccer knowledge across Europe and the globe, that one wouldn’t expect too many differences across the top leagues that could be attributed to “national” styles and soccer cultures.

In what follows, I report some data on league performance on offensive production and fouls and punishment to show that, while soccer at the very highest level follows similar basic patterns, there also are some real differences across the Big Four leagues of soccer.

To make things comparable and recent, I examine data for the last five seasons – that is, from 2005/06 to 2009-10.

cont.......
 

Sonny.Bill.Williams

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Offensive Production

First, here is a look at offensive production across the leagues, measured by the number of goals and shots taken by teams per match. An obvious place to start is to look at the number of goals scored per match.

goals+per+match+big+four.png


There is relatively little variation across years and leagues. Statistically speaking, these leagues are extremely “well behaved” and it is difficult to detect over time trends or cross-league differences. Each of the leagues, on average, sees slightly fewer than 3 goals each match each season. We observe the most stability in Serie A, which has only minute variation over time, and in the Bundesliga. The EPL and La Liga have seen slight upward trends in goals, but data for five seasons are probably not sufficient to say if these are long-term trends (the high point came in La Liga’s 2008/09 season at 2.9 goals per match). Overall, virtually without fail, the four big leagues see slightly below 3 goals per average match.

But teams can’t score if they do not shoot, so what do the data reveal about shots taken on goal (SOG) and shots on target (SOT)? One thing to note up front is that, in each of the four leagues, shots on target (SOT) and shots on goal (SOG) are (unsurprisingly) positively correlated with goals and wins. This means that the more teams shoot and the more accurately they shoot, the more they score and the more matches they win. Importantly, shots on target (SOT) are more highly correlated with outcomes than shots on goal (SOG).

shots+on+goal+since+2005.png


Here, again, we see that the leagues are remarkably similar to one another. On average, teams take about 25 shots per match. Over the last five years, the Bundesliga has been the most trigger-happy league with 27.6 SOG, and the EPL the least trigger-happy with 23.2. Serie A and La Liga were in between at 24.4 and 25.2, respectively. And the one notable anomaly seems to be Serie A in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons with only about 20 SOG. Overall, these are small differences around a similar central tendency.
And finally, teams can’t score unless they actually hit the target, so here are the numbers for shots on target (SOT) rather than just shots on goal (the data for the 2005-06 Bundesliga season are missing). Here, we finally see some more distinct differentiation among the leagues, mostly with regard to the English Premier League.

shots+on+target+since+2005.png


Aside from the one notable and peculiar outlier - Bundesliga clubs were particularly accurate in 2006-07 - the numbers of SOT are quite similar, with one exception: accuracy has gradually and notably gone up in the EPL where it is by now highest among the four leagues. That is, there has been an increase in accuracy in the Premier League, along with the increase in shots taken.

Another way to see this is to calculate the shots on goal by shots on target ratios - how many shots did teams have to take to yield shots on target? Here are the ratios, averaged over the past five years:

EPL: 1.87
Bundesliga: 2.46
Serie A: 2.58
La Liga: 2.79
 

Sonny.Bill.Williams

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These numbers show that the EPL clearly stands out: the league is clearly more efficient than the other leagues when it comes to shot accuracy and the difference to the other leagues is distinct. While shooters in the EPL are slightly less trigger-happy than shooters elsewhere, especially in recent years, they need fewer shots to create shots on target. And when we combine the shots on target trend with the accuracy ratio, it is clear that the EPL has outpaced the other leagues in recent years. Enough to say that it is different from the other leagues? By and large, the EPL is quite similar to the other leagues - so far as goals and overall shots are concerned - but hitting the target is one of the things that make it distinct.

When we put all these things together in one graph to show the various ratios of goals and shots (overall and on target), the distinctions among the leagues become more obvious (using data from the 2009-10 season).

goal+and+shot+ratios.png


Across the Big 4, the goal/shot ratios are virtually identical and reminiscent of Charles Reep’s ratio of 1 goal in nine shots on goal (.111) (Reep and Benjamin 1968). Despite this essential similarity, there are sizable differences in shot accuracy and conversion efficiency across them. In fact, the EPL and La Liga couldn’t be more different despite their virtually identical goal/shot ratios. In the EPL, we see lots of high value shots (the highest SOT/Shots ratios), but low conversion (the lowest goals/SOT ratios). In La Liga, we see the lowest proportion of accurate shots, but the highest conversion rates. Finally, the Bundesliga and Serie A are similar to one another in that they have more accurate shooting than in La Liga, but lower conversion rates than the Spanish league.

These findings suggest that the quality of forward play in the EPL is higher in that teams manage to take more accurate shots (though EPL strikers, on average, take fewer shots overall). At the same time, La Liga play stands out offensively because of the high conversion rate we see in the league. Whether this is due to better goalkeeping in EPL or weaker (though accurate in the sense of hitting the goal) shooting in the EPL cannot be answered with these data.

Fouls and Cards


Another way to evaluate the style of play is to consider how many fouls teams commit or how much punishment referees have to mete out. These can be taken as indicators of style of defensive play in the case of tactical fouls intended to interrupt the flow of the game, but also of how physically tough and dangerous a league is. When counting up fouls, however, there’s a thorny definitional issue. The official statistics we have from box scores and various other published sources include only fouls that are called by the referee, not necessarily those that were committed. Counting how many times referees blow the whistle for a foul and a card is not the same as counting actual fouls or correct punishment. Assuming that too many fouls called on any one team we would randomly draw from a hat cancel out too few called on another drawn from a hat, below is the total number of fouls called over the past five seasons.

fouls+per+season.png


As the data show, there is quite a range in how busy referees are. The totals range from fewer than 9,000 fouls called in the 2008/09 EPL season to almost 15,000 in the 2005/06 La Liga season and the 2007/08 Serie A season. Among other things, this suggests fewer interruptions to the game in Germany and England than Italy and Spain or conversely, a more fluid, continuous style of play. Over the 2005/06-2009/10 seasons as a whole, the average numbers of fouls per match were:

Bundesliga: 36.46
EPL: 24.63
La Liga: 37.41
Serie A: 35.09

Again, the EPL looks distinctly different from the rest of the pack (the low foul totals for the Bundesliga shown in the graph are virtually entirely due to the fact that there are fewer teams [18] and therefore matches played in that league). Clearly, fewer fouls are called in the Premiership. The data show that play is interrupted just for a foul (aside from all the other interruptions that happen in a match) every 3.5 minutes in the Premier League and every 2.5 minutes in the other leagues. At the level of individual teams, this means that teams in the Premiership are called for fouls an average 12 times per match, while teams in the other three big leagues foul a whopping 50% more at an average of about 18 times per match. This statistic is particularly interesting in light of the fact that commentators commonly talk about the alleged physical play in the EPL. Perhaps by that they mean that fouls are committed as often there as elsewhere but simply not called as much. This could be the case, of course, or there may simply be fewer fouls in the Premiership than anywhere else.

Along with fouls, does football punishment get meted out equally across leagues?

One easy way to see if there are patterns and to quantify their size is to look at yellow cards - a common enough occurrence in a match to yield some interesting and sufficient data. So here are trends in yellow cards since the 2005-06 season per team/match.
 

Sonny.Bill.Williams

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trends+in+yellow+cards.png


Overall, teams see about two yellows per match played. But clearly, referees in some leagues more easily pull out the card than in others. In particular, refs in La Liga give significantly more yellows than refs in the Premier League, but also than in Serie A, a league with similar foul totals. La Liga’s 2.5 yellows per team/match easily dwarf the Premiership’s roughly 1.5 cards. Whether this reflects differences in playing style, instructions from the league, training of refs, or more skillful diving in Spain’s top league is unclear, but punishment is clearly not meted out equally. We see consistently more yellows over the years in Spain and Italy than in England and Germany. We also see the fewest yellow cards in the EPL, consistent with the pattern of fouls called.

They’re the Same, Except When They’re Not, and the English Premier League Really Is Different

The data reviewed above provide some descriptive evidence for two basic conclusions. First, the highest quality soccer leagues in the world are remarkable similar in important ways. On common metrics of offensive production like goals scored, shots on goal, or the goal to shot ratio, the leagues are very similar. But lurking underneath these basic metrics we see that the English Premier League is different from the rest in key ways: play is interrupted less frequently because of fouls, there are fewer delays on the field because of yellow cards awarded, and shots on goal are significantly more likely to be accurate, though less likely to find their target when they are accurate, than in the other three leagues. Taken together, this suggests a faster, more continuous, and more exciting pace of play that viewers value. For players coming into the league, this suggests that players cannot count on refs to stop play, and the ability to keep going despite a tackle or challenge from the opposition is a key ingredient for EPL success. As well, EPL managers will be on the lookout for accurate shooters more than managers in other league as well as defenders and goalkeepers who know how to play together to turn away accurate shots after they’ve been taken (for example, after set play like a corner or free kick).

Next time you have a chance to watch a Premier League and Serie A match side by side, see if your own eyes confirm what these data just told you. But the beauty of the game and whether this is better soccer, lies in the eyes of the beholder.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Interesting read although slightly EPL biased and obvious loopholes ....Weird that Serie A has such a high amount of fouls yet has the most "playing time " out of the big 4
minutes+played+per+match.png


I know its not tactics ...didn't know of an appropriate thread

Another Interesting article about defensive evolution in football ...its interactive so can't be copied
Link
 
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Dinar

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Milan 1990 vs Barcelona 2011
Posted on Saturday, 4th June 2011 by Sam Lewis

After Barcelona’s super human display in the Champions League final against Manchester United, the question on many people’s lips is whether this Barcelona is the best side football has ever seen.

If you watch the final in detail, and look at the statistics, it’s hard to argue with that notion, the Catalan’s holding 70% possession of the ball, completing in the region of 600 passes, and getting 12 shots on target in comparison with United’s one.

It’s safe to say then, at a time when they have no peers, Barca are competing with history. And if you look back through the ages, there is one side that jumps out of the dusty pages as major competition for the “Best Team Ever” tag.

http://forzaitalianfootball.com/2011/06/milan-1990-vs-barcelona-2011/
 

necromancer

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The following lines jumped out from Early Doors' article on Villas-Boas. Not exactly about tactics, but this is the most suitable thread. I totally agree on what they are saying here. And this is possibly why managers like Bielsa are not successful.

"He was doing a scouting report, and in that capacity it is clear, thorough and accurate.

Those three attributes are among the most important for any manager.

The best managers assemble a collection of good players, give them clear instructions and goals, and make them believe they can win.

And that's about it.

Genius is overrated, especially when you are conveying your message to 22 blokes who may not share your massive cranial capacity.

It almost always fails in management because it is innate, instinctive and largely non-transferable."


Full article here - http://eurosport.yahoo.com/football/early-doors/article/338579/
 

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Would love to see something like this go down at Milan

---------CF------------
LW-----CAM-------RW-
----LCM----RCM--------
LB---CB-----CB----RB--
---------GK------------

HOWEVER

I think we are stuck in this mould of

---CF-------CF-
------CAM------
---LCM----RCM--
------CDM-------
LB--CB----CB--RB-

Im not complaining, but would love to see us use some width, that would tear Serie A apart
 

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necromancer

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:lol:Came in here to post this scout report.

It's a detailed one to say the least, interesting read. I wish we could find more stuff like this.

:) Seriously. Need janitor-spies in all major teams' dressing rooms for chalkboard pics minimum. Can omit White Hart Lane as we know it'll be a blank board.
 

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Can omit White Hart Lane as we know it'll be a blank board.

:lol: Just 'ave a go, lads!

I agree with you both though. I'd love to see more tactical reports like that one. Looked around a lot but no luck. Btw, that report was posted by Sonny.Bill.Williams a few pages back.
 
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Sonny.Bill.Williams

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Not tactics per say ,but I found it interesting

Has the Premier League Become More Unequal? Trends in Parity in European Football Leagues Since 1994
I've been traveling to Switzerland, Germany, and now England these last few days, so I thought it was only fitting to post the analysis below from London where I am currently enjoying the good weather and great company of friends and colleagues. When having conversations, especially here in England and over a pint or two of good beer, it's not unusual to hear complaints about leagues becoming too unequal. Usually these complaints are couched in terms of fairness, and they tend to come from supporters or officials of clubs that aren't doing as well as they would hope. But none of this means the complaints don't have merit.

To see if there's anything to them, some data Benjamin Leinwand and I have been collecting may help us out, I think. Initially, Benjamin and I wanted to get a sense of overall levels of parity in various leagues and to put them in perspective. So we started by examining levels of competitive balance in six European leagues with data for the past 15 years. We measured balance in a league based on wins and with the help of the Gini coefficient and the so-called Standard Deviation. The data showed that - considered over the entire 15-year period - the Dutch Eredivisie has been the most imbalanced league, while the French Ligue 1 has been the most balanced. The data also showed two groupings, with Ligue 1, the Bundesliga, and La Liga exhibiting more and the Eredivisie, EPL, and Serie A less balance.

Of course, there are different ways to measure competitive balance, and we'll provide some analyses of whether this matters before too long.* In the meantime, though, I thought I'd point out that what you find has a lot to do with where you look, and that's true when it comes to understanding league (im)balance, too. There are different ways of slicing the data on leagues and each gives you a slightly different vantage point on where leagues are or are headed. Here's an example. The good thing about combining 15 years of data when looking at league balance is that we can avoid focusing too much on recent events that may or may not be typical. But there's a downside to this: by averaging over a longer time span, trends get lost in the shuffle. It seems to me that both are important - we want to know if the Bundesliga is more balanced than, say, the EPL, but we don't want to make sweeping generalizations by looking just at last year's results.

But we also want to know if a league has become more or less balanced in recent years - that is, what has happened to parity over time. Is the Eredivisie's or the EPL's lack of balance (compared to the other leagues) a recent development, or does it reflect a long-standing pattern? To answer these kinds of questions and get a sense of the dynamics of competition in the six leagues, we took a look at trends over time and plotted the annual Gini and Standard Deviation scores since the 1994/95 season. The picture looks like this.:

trends+in+wins+ginis+1994-2010+6+leagues.png


The first point is that some leagues show very clear upward trends. The trend is most obvious in the case of the EPL, where we see an ever increasing imbalance in the league that started as far back as 1997. And this trend is apparent, regardless of which measure of imbalance we use.

trends+in+wins+stddev+1994-2010+6+leagues.png

The numbers show that the Premiership is significantly more imbalanced today than it was 5, 10, or 15 years ago. But it does not seem to be the only league with a growing competitive imbalance. The Bundesliga, too, seems to have crept upward ever so slightly, and so has La Liga very noticeably since 2002. Interestingly, the Eredivisie's high level of imbalance and Ligue 1's high level of parity do not seem to have changed much over time.

And the trends are statistically significant: when we estimate a regression model of Gini or Standard Deviation with time as the independent variable, we find significant and positive linear trends (p<.05) in the EPL (for the Gini coefficient as well as the standard deviation), and for Serie A (for standard deviation of wins). The coefficients for La Liga are positive, too, but significant only at the .10 level (two tailed tests of significance, in case you were wondering). So what we can say, based on these data, is that the Premier League has become significantly less balanced over time, and that La Liga and Serie A also have become more unequal, but the trends there are not as clear cut - in the case of Serie A only with regards to one measure of parity and in the case of La Liga to a lesser extent (statistically and substantively speaking).

Now that we know the overall historical levels of balance and trends over time, let's get to the fun stuff most fans really care about: what do the numbers tell us about which of the leagues was most imbalanced in 2010/11? Take a look:


2010-11+wins+gini.png

Regardless of whether we measure league balance with Gini or Standard Deviations, we currently have two sets of leagues when it comes to parity. On one hand, there's La Liga, the Premier League, and the Eredivisie, one of which was imbalanced to begin with (Eredivisie) and two of which have become more so over time (La Liga, EPL). On the other hand we see significantly lower and virtually identical levels of imbalance in Ligue 1, Serie A, and the Bundesliga for the 2010/11 season. Looking at standard deviations alone (below), the Bundesliga was in a league of its own, recording the highest level of parity of all the leagues last year.




2010-11+wins+std+dev.png

So what does this mean? Assuming that levels of imbalance in the Premier League are too high or are in danger of being too high (and some people would disagree with either assumption), it tells us that Manchester City and Chelsea are not really the problem, or not the only problem the league has. The trend toward competitive imbalance in the Premier League started quite some time ago and well before Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour appeared on the scene. At the same time, I do wonder how much more of a league of haves and have nots the league wants to become (or remain). And the Premiership is not alone; some of the other leagues also seem to be on the verge of becoming significantly more unequal - in particular La Liga - and another - the Eredivisie - already is very unequal. And while the Bundesliga appears to be the healthiest league at the moment (financially speaking), it's not clear that this is necessarily connected to the level of competitive balance. After all, one of the sickest leagues (Serie A) is just as balanced but not doing nearly as well.
 

Sven

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http://www.zonalmarking.net/2011/08/18/mourinho-messi-false-nine/

Nice article by ZM, on how Real Madrid marked Barça attack, with Carvalho free to move up in the field to chase Messi (while Pepe keep positioned as a spare man) and the fullbacks marking the wingers.

messi.jpg


It didn't work very well, but still the question is interesting - how is the best way to position a defense to face an attack with a false 9 and two inverted wingers/forwards? (I mean, apart from use 9 man behind the ball and keep the defense/midfield tight and deep - this can be the answer to mark every kind of attack anyway).

The bank of four as we know it seems to be a bit useless, cause it was built to deal with traditional strikers in the box. As in the case of Carvalho, he was not succesful playing out of the line. So a lot of people think it's better to use a three man defense with a DM just in front to mark Messi (like it looks on the moment 2 in ZM diagram) and keeping 3 x 2 in the back.

So, a system like México or Bielsa's Chile, (or Ajax 95) were the defenders can switch from three to four man easily (just in case the false 9 becomes a true 9 as a response to the defense) seems to ideal.

And in my opinion, an Italian system with a sweeper like Sacchi used in the early 90's could do just as fine. First, defensive fullbacks like Maldini or Tassoti/Panucci, cause of their CB quality, would have no problem coming inside to mark the forwards. Second, the sweeper wouldn't be unconfortable neither up in the pitch to track Messi (specially someone with Baresi's antecipation and speed and reading of the passes) neither in the box.
 

end-er

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I agree with the theory, with the mention that you need 4 damn good defenders to play it.

In our team Silva could be the skipper, maybe. He's the only one who has the mobility.

Thing is, this type of player is long disappeared. Last WC skipper I remember is Sammer. Is there anyone else?
 
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