Posts Tagged ‘Milan’

Tactics: How the Champions League quarter-finalists line up

The eight remaining teams in this season’s Champions League are drawn from seven different countries and range in experience from quarter-final debutants APOEL to nine-time champions Real Madrid. They are nonetheless united by a number of tactical factors. All eight sides deployed four-man defences in their last-16 ties, while the majority of the teams preferred single-striker formations. Benfica and Milan were the only two teams to play with no wide midfielders.

The diagrams below depict the eight teams’ tactical line-ups from the first legs of their last-16 ties, before there were any leads to be defended or deficits to be overturned.

NB: The diagrams (screenshots from the UEFA website) show average positions from the first 15 minutes of matches only, so as to provide a clear indication of how the teams approached each game in terms of formation.

APOEL: 4-1-4-1

The average positions of APOEL's players in the first 15 minutes of their 1-0 defeat at Lyon in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie; UEFA

In the first leg of their tie at Lyon, APOEL played in a compact 4-1-4-1 formation and placed so much emphasis on defending their penalty area that they did not muster a single shot at goal until Gustavo Manduca tested Hugo Lloris with a rising drive in the 88th minute. Ivan Jovanović’s side were more proactive in the return leg, however. Esteban Solari played up front in support of Aílton, while Manduca was named in the starting line-up and scored the goal that levelled the tie in the ninth minute.

[Squad numbers: 22. Dionisis Chiotis; 7. Savvas Poursaitidis, 3. Paulo Jorge, 4. Kaká, 98. William Boaventura; 26. Nuno Morais; 10. Constantinos Charalambides, 31. Hélder Sousa, 23. Hélio Pinto, 11. Ivan Tričkovski; 8. Aílton]

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Pitchside Europe: Skulduggery submerges Serie A showdown

“Incensed by the decision to rule out Muntari’s goal, Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani reportedly stormed down to the tunnel at half-time and became involved in an angry exchange with Conte. There was aggravation on the pitch as well, with Arturo Vidal sent off for an ugly tackle from behind on Mark van Bommel and Philippe Mexes guilty of a sly dig to the ribs of his former Roma team-mate Marco Borriello that has seen him banned for three games. Approached by French television channel Canal+ in the mixed zone, Mexes swept past, explaining: “They’ve told me not to talk.””

This week’s Pitchside Europe column for the Eurosport website, on Saturday night’s stormy 1-1 draw between Milan and Juventus in Serie A, can be read here.

Tactics: Robinho arrival threatens Ronaldinho’s renaissance

Right-footed, left-sided attackers are currently one of football’s most fashionable commodities (think David Villa and Robinho at the World Cup; Franck Ribéry at Bayern Munich; Nani at Manchester United), and like any self-respecting wealthy Italian man, Silvio Berlusconi has to be up with the latest trends. So he bought two. But while Robinho is hoping his transfer deadline day move to Milan will allow him to re-launch his stuttering club career, his arrival at San Siro may well turn out to be bad news for Ronaldinho.

Berlusconi might be the most ardent Ronaldinho fan on the planet, but he seems obsessed with the idea that his hero should play in the centre. Earlier this summer he spoke of his desire to see Milan play with two strikers, supported by Ronaldinho as a central playmaker. It’s a seductive idea, motivated no doubt by memories of players like Gianni Rivera and Manuel Rui Costa who wore the red and black number 10 shirt with distinction, but it’s not a role that Ronaldinho seems to enjoy.

Almost all the most enduring images of Ronaldinho during his time at Barcelona – be it his sensational goal against Sevilla or his one-man demolition job against Real Madrid at the Bernabéu – saw him picking up the ball wide on the left and cutting in at goal. As he said himself last season: “I feel great and where I’m playing I can do my best. I’m happy to play behind the strikers, but where I’m playing now [on the left] is my best position.”

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Tactics: Testing times for the trequartista

The 2009-10 Serie A campaign was all set to be the season of the trequartista. Juventus’s major pre-season signing was Brazilian playmaker Diego from Werder Bremen, Milan were so keen to get the best out of Ronaldinho that club owner Silvio Berlusconi made him stand on a table at a pre-season training camp and promise to stay out of trouble and Jose Mourinho, who has as much romance in his soul as the Terminator, was happy for Internazionale to shell out €15 million on the sublimely gifted Dutchman Wesley Sneijder.

Four months into the season, things have not gone strictly according to plan for Serie A’s most alluring talents. Diego is being booed off the pitch by his own fans, Ronaldinho’s ineffectiveness in a central role has seen him restored to the left-wing role synonymous with his Barcelona pomp and Sneijder has started just four of Inter’s last 10 league games due to a combination of injury and suspension.

Sneijder’s situation is the least troubling of the three. When fit he is usually assured of a starting role and, in any case, he is not a true trequartista. But what about Diego and Ronaldinho? How is it that two of the world’s most talented playmakers have failed to shine in a central playmaking role at two of the world’s most well-resourced clubs?

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