Posts tagged ‘Champions League’

Advanced Tactics for the 4-2-3-1

The 4-2-3-1 formation has become the system of choice for many of the worlds top professional and national teams like Real Madrid, Manchester United and Brazil. As coaches at every level have watched these top teams play they have looked for ways to implement the system with their college, high school and youth teams.

The first step in introducing a new way of playing s to break the system down and identify the most important components. The was done very well by Continue reading ‘Advanced Tactics for the 4-2-3-1’ »

Is Mourinho At Fault

UEFA has charged Jose Mourinho with improper conduct following the controversial second yellow cards earned by Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos in Real Madrid’s 4-0 victory at Ajax in last weeks Champions League game.  Here is the situation.

Both players had been yellow carded earlier in the game (Mourinho claims they were “soft” debatable decisions).  If either of them got a yellow card in the next and last group game, they would be suspended and miss the first game of the single elimination round of 16.  Or, if they got a yellow card in the round of 16 they would be suspended as their yellow card points total from the group stage games would be carried over.

Now here is where the problem is.  If both players got second yellow card in the Ajax game, it would have given them enough points to be suspended for the next game.  (By beating Ajax, Real Madrid had secured top spot in Group G and therefore a seed of a group winner for the round of 16 rendering the result of their next and final group game against Auxerre irrelevant.)  And by doing this, they would start the round of 16 games with a clean disciplinary record, which means they would be allowed to get three yellow cards before being suspended.

So, according to UEFA, on the urging of Mourinho, both players purposely got themselves another yellow card resulting in red cards and ejections from the game.

What happened for the second bookings was that each player repeatedly stuttered, wasting time, when taking set pieces until referee Craig Thompson had no choice but to act with the yellow cards.

UEFA has charged Mourinho with improper conduct and Mourinho has denied any wrongdoing.  I think it is obvious to anyone with an ounce of intelligence that Mourinho and his players purposefully orchestrated the situation so they could start the round of 16 with a clean disciplinary record.  But I can’t see how UEFA can prove this.

Do UEFA have to prove this or can they go ahead with some form of punishment based on no proof but the obviousness of the situation?  I don’t know.  But what I do know is that UEFA only have themselves to blame for having such rules that don’t make sense.

It just doesn’t make sense for players to be put in this situation.  It would make much more sense to give all players a clean disciplinary record for the start of the round of 16.

Mourinho or his players can’t be blamed for figuring a way around the ridiculous rule.  It will be interesting to see what UEFA do.

Is the Two Extra Officials Experiment In Champions League Games Working?

I’ll keep this short and sweet.  Is the experiment in the Champions League games of having the two additional officials on each goal line working?  I don’t recall seeing them having to make a crucial decision in any of the games I have seen.  So no game changing decisions either way.

Has anyone seen anything by these goal-line officials that have made their presence worthwhile?

Is this something that will be successful enough that it will be put in place for all the major leagues in the world?

The Special One

Okay, it’s only another Champions League title (can it be described that way?), but my opinion of Jose Mourinho have sky rocketed after Inter won the Champions League this weekend.

The “Special One” can certainly be described that way now.  Let’s look at some reasons why.

He has generated success with three different clubs, winning the Champions League with Porto and now Inter and the EPL twice with Chelsea.

He won the Champions League with Porto, who really cannot be described as being one of top European clubs.

He is only the third coach to win the Champions League (or European Cup) with two different teams.

He has had success with a smaller club like Porto and has matched or exceeded expectations at big clubs like Chelsea and Inter.

And here’s the thing, if he does go to Real Madrid, I fully expect he will win the league and likely the Champions League there as well.

In an earlier blog, I asked who was the better manager, Ferguson, Mourinho or Wenger.  I would now have to vote for Jose.  What about you?

Blackpool v Cardiff or Champions League Final?

I wrote about the special intensity and atmosphere at playoff games earlier.  There is just something special about the all or nothing outcomes of these games that make them such a pressure game that isn’t replicated in cup finals.

I am writing this on Friday night, so it is before the Champions League final and playoff game between Blackpool and Cardiff this weekend.  Living here in the U.S. we will get the Champions League game on TV but not the Blackpool v Cardiff game.

I am probably in the minority here, but if I had to make a choice, I would prefer to watch the Blackpool v Cardiff game over the Champions League final.  It wouldn’t even be a close decision.  It might be closer if there was an English team in the Champions League final and it would be totally different if my home town team was in the Champions League (but it looks like being another year or two before Sheffield United get there).

If you are lucky enough to have both games on TV, just give some thought to the tension and/or how much you enjoy the game.  Don’t just fall into the trap of thinking that the Champions League final will be better because the quality of players are better.

Let me know what you think.  And other than Cardiff or Blackpool fans, I would like to hear what you think.  Am I crazy or do I have a point?

Special Atmosphere/Pressure For Playoff Games

I am writing this as I watch the Man City v Tottenham game.  It’s 2.15 pm here in the Midwest and it’s a good job I got most of my work done earlier in the day as I’m not getting much done right now.  I thought I would write about the distinct pressure and atmosphere of this game and other playoff games throughout the various leagues.

Apart from occasional instances over the decades, this kind of atmosphere and pressure is pretty new and something I first noticed when the English leagues moved to a playoff format to decide the final promotion places.

Why is the atmosphere and pressure different than let’s say a cup final or the Champions League final?  Obviously in those games, there is an enormous pressure to win and become the “Champions”.  However, for those that lose in those finals, the loss is not that great.  Afterall, they have enjoyed a great run getting to the final.  They have it on their record that they reached the final and enjoy the build up to the final.

But the playoff are totally different and I love them.  For the record, I have only seen the playoff games for 2-3 years on TV, then for some reason they stopped showing them here in the U.S. about 4-5 years ago.  But just loved watching them.  In fact, I would prefer to watch the games from League One, looking for promotion to the Championship, instead of an EPL game…They were just more exciting.

What makes them different?  It’s the all or nothing aspect and there is so much on the line.  The loser gets nothing or worse…gets relegated and the winners set themselves up for next season and in the process usually a ton load of money as well.  For instance, in this Man City v Spurs game, the winner finishes in 4th place in the EPL.  This qualifies them for Champions League play next season.  This is huge.  Not only for the players…and all top level players want to play Champions League soccer…just ask Torres, Gerrard and other Liverpool players how they feel about missing out next season.  But it will also give the team somewhere in the region of an additional $40 million in revenue.

So unlike a cup final where the loser at least can claim some semblance of success from a good cup run, the losers of a playoff game are absolutely distraught and can take nothing from losing.  This makes the pressure immense for the players and leads to some pretty intense and fast paced games.  I suppose the best way I could describe the games is to say that they are played as if both teams are losing 1-0 and it’s the last five minutes of a cup final.  Every tackle is critical, every header is important and it appears that every challenge is a last gasp stretch.

Just watching the Man City v Spurs game, and it’s only the first 20 minutes, but every corner is defended as though it was the last minute with more than a hint of panic.  Makes for a great game.

One thing I would like to see brought back to the playoffs is a four team playoff for the last relegation spot.  One reason is this makes the season more interesting because even teams in the middle of the league table are usually only a few points above the team who are sixth from bottom and in the last playoff spot.  But for some reason, the atmosphere at those games was even more intense.

Now all I need for some cable channel to start carrying the playoff games again.  For now though, I will make do with this special one-off game of Man City v Spurs.

Thoughts On the Last Week of the EPL

Well, the final week of the EPL season is upon us and here are some random thoughts.

Even though the Championship will be decided with the final games (Chelsea and Man U), I don’t feel any real suspense.  Unless there is a major disaster, Chelsea should have no problem with Wigan.  This makes Man U’s game irrelevant.  Of course, Chelsea could choke with the pressure but that is highly unlikely.

The better game is for fourth place between Man City and Tottenham.  This is huge for both clubs with a prize of Champions League football next season on the line.  Probably more of the pressure will be on Man City as they are at home and with all the money they have spent, not making the Champions League would be a major setback.  Really looking forward to that game.

Is this the beginning of the end for Liverpool?  They have always been regarded as one of the “big four”, but over the past few years, have really struggled to compete for the top spot.  Man U, Chelsea and Arsenal have all been in with a chance of the title at some point, but not Liverpool.  They also seem to lack the investment that the other three clubs have and along with some really poor buys by Rafa, they have steadily declined over the past few years to a 7th place finish.  I wonder if they will get back to being one of the “big four”?

How to players like Torres and Gerrard feel not playing Champions League football next season?  My guess is Torres will end up somewhere else, although there are few clubs that have the money to buy him and pay him.  I’m not sure what Gerrard will do unless something happens like Mourinho going to Real Madrid and putting in a offer for him.

So with relegation settled and the FA Cup not being what it used to, I will start looking forward to the World Cup after the week is done.