Opinion: Manchester City underwent a great sense of contrast in a short space of time.

Manchester City went into the second-leg of their Champions League Quarter-Final tie with Liverpool with a three-goal deficit, and on top of that, had given up a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 in what was a game that could have sealed the Premier League title – against eternal rivals Manchester United.

Though having lost to United in the most surprisingly stupendous of fashions which in itself made *the* quintessential derby match, City are still sole favourites to win the title. But, Pep Guardiola’s side needed a huge whack of confidence, and perhaps reassurance that the season is not going to end disastrously. Perhaps they did not, but what can be argued as certain, is how defeating Liverpool, in what would have needed to be sensational circumstances, would have lifted up City’s spirits again after a short period of disarray.

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Wide players could have a huge impact on tactics during the World Cup.

This upcoming World Cup, which will be hosted in Russia, like previous competitions, beholds a great opportunity for sides to display tactical variation and subsequently enticing tactical battles.

I do think that in the midst of recurring tactical expectations of the World Cup, and how teams will play, that wide players will have a particularly distinct source of impact on how teams will go about outwitting the opposition, and the use of players and space in wide areas will depend team-by-team.

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Tactical Analysis: Chelsea 1-1 FC Barcelona

In one of the most anticipated matches of the second-round of the 2017-18 Champions League campaign, Antonio Conte’s Chelsea faced Ernesto Valverde’s FC Barcelona, in what was a mouth-watering encounter on a tactical front. Previews of the game pondered on how Chelsea would go about restricting Lionel Messi, and thwart out conclusions on how each side would approach each other with their game plans.

The final score was 1-1, but this does not reflect the amount of key components that can be analysed to show just how much of a quality watch this game was.

Starting XI/Shape

Chelsea deployed a 3-4-2-1 formation with Eden Hazard occupying the central position within the front three instead of a conventional target-man. A midfield partnership of  N’Golo Kante and Cesc Fabregas was expected to press and cover space, while Willian and Pedro were expected to support Hazard in attacking space on the counter-attack. Some had thought that for this game, Barcelona would use a diamond to accommodate the movement of Paulinho. But, Barcelona opted for a flat 4-4-2 formation at the start of the match, with both Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba expected to cover ground left vacant by the widest midfielders. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez made an impressive front-line on paper. The 4-4-2 used by Barcelona would vary in shape as the game progressed, however.

Chelsea vs. Barcelona Starting XI and Shape (20/2/18)

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Sócrates – The Doctor who prescribed beautiful football

To win is not the most important thing, Football is an art and should be showing creativity

Football is an art, and should be showing creativity. It should be enabling expression of imagination and cunning. What that creativity is, however depends on the individuals perspective of football.

The quote, is how Sócrates perhaps summarised his footballing philosophy. Indoctrinated in the ideology of playing football for the beauty it can behold rather than the act of winning, winning trophies was a sensational, yet secondary consequence of playing football beautifully. Joy came first.

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La Liga mid-sesason assessment: Part 1 – FC Barcelona

In such a drama filled stage of the La Liga season, Spain’s premier division saw its league leaders – FC Barcelona, if you need reminding, maintain their position almost unscathed, Zinedine Zidane and his Real Madrid side clutching at straws displaying a glimpse of the subdued, with the title seemingly out of reach. An uncustomary display of Atletico’s attacking prowess saw an excellent 5-0 win over Levante, but, Atletico, who have only conceded 9 goals (as of 28/1/18) saw their unbeaten run come to an end through a 0-1 away loss to Espanyol. With Atletico now out of the Champions League following a group-stage exit, can they now focus on the league entirely?

Barcelona, on the other hand, are still riding high in European football’s top domestic competition, and were involved in two of the biggest games of the season so far, historically and in regards to the league title, firstly drawing 1-1 against Valencia and then dominating the El Clasico in a 0-3 thrashing of Real Madrid. Both of these games were also fascinating tactical battles and demolishing Real kicked off a 7-game win-streak. When will it end?

An assessment of mid-season games and form, and what is coming next for La Liga’s title-challenging sides comes courtesy of Spanish football writer, Alfred Amoah.

Part 1 – Barcelona

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Tactical Analysis: Manchester United 3-0 Stoke City

On Monday 15th January 2018, Manchester United were 3-0 winners in an entertaining encounter against Stoke City, who had recently sacked manager Mark Hughes and appointed former Norwich City and Aston Villa boss, Paul Lambert. Manchester United have received mixed receptions this season regardless of their current league standing, and one of the reasons for this was the questionable formations and game plans in certain encounters. Yet, the Jose Mourinho-approved. but questioned 4-2-3-1 formation succeeded against a conservative and perhaps timid Stoke City block.

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