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Tactical Analysis

West Bromwich Albion vs Aston Villa: Play Off Semi Final 2nd Leg

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With the Football season coming to an end, I tend to watch any football I can get my hands on. The only game that was on, was the WBA vs Villa game, which I deciced to review.

Brief Match Summary

It was a poor game overall, with very little signs of quality. West Brom won on the night (1-0), but I asked myself many times during this match whether these squads would be able to stay up, if they were to get to the Premier League. I don’t think they are near Cardiff City’s level, who got relegated this season. Aston Villa ran out as winners, with Jed Steer performing at the highest level to help Aston Villa through.

If you compare this game with the Derby vs Leeds United one, they are worlds apart.

The Heroes

Although West Brom scored the only goal in the second leg, it was Tammy Abraham & Jed Steer which turned out to be the heroes for Aston Villa. Jed Steer saved the first two penalties, which completely rocked the baggies confidence.

Tammy Abraham scored the vital penalty, sending Villa to their 2nd consecutive play off final.

Baggies Woes

The red card for Dwight Gayle in the first leg was a huge blow, as it left WBA without their star striker for the 2nd leg. If this wasn’t bad enough, they then lost Chris Brunt near the end of this match. 2 red cards in 4 days, a proper derby!

This is my first match analysis, but future ones will be more in depth, so aplogies for the brief write up!

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Tactical Analysis

Champions League 2018/19: Barcelona vs Liverpool (1st Leg)

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Liverpool vs Barcelona was probably the best football tie possible for neutrals. With both teams having fantastic seasons, this match-up would be able to show us exactly which team are the most threatening. I was eager to watch this, knowing it would be a fantastic attacking affair. One things for sure, it wasn’t going to be a boring game.

Let’s go straight to the first leg, when the team lineups were announced.

I could have predicted all but one player from the Barcelona team. Arturo Vidal was introduced, with Arthur missing. The game played out and Arthur was an unused substitute. I was a little shocked by this one, as he’s had a fantastic season. News broke after the game that his house was broken into, although we aren’t sure if this was during the game, or before, meaning he may not have had the right frame of mind to be playing football. I would expect him to just go back home to his family, if it had been pre-game though. I will leave that there, as I don’t know the ins our outs.

The Liverpool team was a little dis-jointed, with Georgino Wijnaldum used as a centre-forward, due to a Roberto Firmino injury. Trent Alexander-Arnold was also dropped, with Joe Gomez starting the game at right back. From the fact they didn’t have an out-and-out striker, it seemed doomed from the beginning. However, we all know that Salah and Mane have the capability to drag Liverpool through. Here’s the line-ups below.

(Lineups image)

As stated, Barcelona picked the team that most people would expect. Vidal was the big inclusion. Adding Sergi Roberto instead of Nelson Semedo was also a good call, as Valverde knew that his right back needed discipline, to stop Sadio Mane exploiting him. Semedo is more of an attacking defender, whereas Sergi Roberto is more well-rounded.

Klopp gambled with a midfield diamond, which didn’t end up paying off. Lionel Messi was ultimately the game changer, as he often is.

Lionel Messi finds a new level

The man that normally changes games did it again. Even though he was up against Matip, Van Dijk & Robertson (3 players who press heavy & are physically dominant), he found a way to exploit them on numerous occassions. Liverpool did a great job for the majority of the first half, forcing him out onto the wing on his weaker foot on numerous occassions. In the second half, he was a monster unleashed, he found energy levels from nowhere and started to lay claim to the Ballon D’or for this season.

Lionel Messi started to drop much deeper, and control the game. Instead of having the ball played to feet, he would now be running at the Liverpool side, drawing fouls or simply skipping past them, as he does. Liverpool were tiring, which is something which hasn’t happened much this season. They usually have immense fitness, but they were struggling to press Barcelona efficiently, hence them tiring out.

Liverpool were playing to get a goal, but this meant that they were without defensive resources on counter-attacks, meaning Suarez, Messi & Dembele (Subbed on) were left to their own devices. This led to 2 further Barcelona goals, it was now 3-0. Barcelona should have actually wrapped the game up completely, Ousmane Dembele had a shocker, missing a few 1 on 1’s, failing to square the ball & hitting it straight over the bar.

Conclusion

Barcelona 3 – 0 Liverpool. However, Liverpool fans will feel hard done by. They had a great structure, and weren’t frightened of taking the game to Barcelona. However, without Firmino, the final third lacked flair, so they were unable to score.

The game ended up playing into Barcelona’s hands, who were clinical on the night. Barcelona didn’t have that many chancesbut most chancesthey did have resulted in Liverpool kicking off! Messi found another gear to switch into and was ultimately the game-changer.

Although 3-0, I don’t think this tie is over. Barcelona have a tricky tie, where they need to score early to kill the game. The Kop end will be like a 12th man, if Liverpool get an early goal, it could result in a fantastic 90 mins of football. Liverpool at this point have nothing to lose.

This tie isn’t over!

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