Category Archives: Tactics board

Inter v Milan – what did we learn?

Watching the Milan derby is always a pleasant experience; it is an important match to both sets of fans and more so this year as a win for Milan would put them with touching distance of Inter going into the end of the season. This year, however, the game took on extra significance as both teams would be playing English opposition in the Champions League. Inter will face Chelsea and Milan will play Man Utd. With Sir Alex Ferguson watching on what will he and Carlo Ancelotti make of their opposition.

Milan

Leonardo started with a 4-3-3 and it become evident early on that the middle three of Gattuso, Ambrosini and Pirlo were being overran. Sneijder, before being sent off, was finding too much space. There is an imbalance in those three players as all three are naturally deep players but all three seemed to compensate for the others by going forward. This left too bigger gap between the defence and midfield and Inter exploited it.

Going forward the two full backs did not offer any quality but could easily get up and down for overlapping runs. Pirlo was disappointing as the creative player in the midfield. Beckham, when he had the ball on the far right provided some trademark crosses but Borriello was too isolated and easily picked up by the Inter defence. Ronaldinho will cause Ferguson the most problems. Although not on top form tonight it was clear that he was a handful for Maicon. Man Utd have problems at right back and these could be exploited by Leonardo.

Overall it should be an easy win for Man Utd but with a note of caution. An orthodox 4-4-2, giving support to Borriello could see a tougher game.

Inter

Inter played a 4-3-1-2 system, a change for Mourinho which I think has been made with one eye on the Chelsea game. He knows that they don’t play with a lot of width so is getting used to packing the centre channel of the pitch. The three central midfielders were all very defensively minded and this enabled not only Sneijder, Militio and Pandev to play without fear but either full back could go forward and have suitable cover. I am particularly looking forward to seeing Maicon against Ashley Cole. There is also a solid centre to Inter’s defence; Julio Cesar (best goalkeeper in the world in my opinion), Lucio, Samuel and Materazzi.

Inter certainly have the better team and with Eto’o to return from duty in Africa Chelsea should be concerned about their chances. Mourinho will be spot on with his tactics against them and who knows Chelsea’s weaknesses better than him.

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Kightly – the key to Wolves’ survival this season

I started my Fantasy Football team this year with Doyle and Ebanks-Blake as two of my three strikers (the other was Torres if you were wondering). This was based on having seen Wolves play a number of times in the Championship last year. I was impressed with how they went about constructing attacks.

 

Playing a 4-4-2 with a very attacking left winger in Michael Kightly afforded Ebanks-Blake and Iwelumo the opportunities to score goals. Indeed Kightly topped the assists chart in the Championship last season. Wolves in order to get the best out of two strikers with excellent movement and ‘instinct’ need to utilise Kightly; get him running at people without fear of repercussions if he loses it.

 

It was interesting to hear in the pre-match build up that McCarthy had the pitch shortened and made narrower. The theory is presumably that space will destroy a team like Wolves, maybe not as gifted as Tottenham, Liverpool etc. However, does McCarthy really expect to get results against those teams or would the same sized pitch as last year help get results against the team he is battling with?

 

So far those matches this season the home form has seen a defeat to Pompey and draws against Hull and West Ham – not good enough. Granted the key to Wolves, Kightly, has been injured for the most part but, once he is back and firing on all cylinders, is making the pitch tighter going to help or hinder him.

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Portsmouth – fixed

I watched Pompey for the first time this season against Everton and they played well. Tim Howard was forced into a number of good saves and a few good chances were missed without the need of Howard’s intervention.

However, the team finds itself with the worst start to a Premiership season ever. Pointless after 7 games leads me to the conclusion that they could not have played that well in all other 6. So, does Paul Hart put the previous 6 down to the team finding its feet and continue as if the 7th was the way the team will go on to play. Or, does he think that having played well in the 7th game and taken no points requires a drastic change.

I would point to the latter because Everton were poor. If Everton had played well then I could see an argument for sticking with the team but Everton were as poor as Pompey were good.

It is clear that Pompey need to do something to make them somewhat of an enigma; difficult to beat but will have a chance of nicking a win if 0-0 in the 85th minute. Looking at the players at Paul Hart’s disposal then I think reverting the mid to late 90’s is the way to go – 3-5-2 – wing backs.

Both centre backs at the weekend are considered alongside Titus Bramble as the most culpable defenders of the Premier League. By playing three at the back there should be cover for each one and Pompey also have an overload of players in this position but not many full backs; Kabul, Ben Haim, Hreidarsson, Wilson,  Vanden Borre.

In terms of wing backs, Belhadj and the aforementioned Vanden Borre provide the obvious options but Finnan can play on the right and O’Hara comfortably do a job on the left if needed.

Another position of quantity is the centre of midfield; Brown, O’Hara, Diop, Mullins, Hughes, Mokoena, Boateng and Basinas. Pack that with two work horses and allow a creative player to roam with freedom will work wonders.

Hart also has options with his strikers. The squad is not bad in terms of quality but it is unbalanced.

Playing a 3-5-2 will confuse so many other teams in and around Pompey, teams which they should take points off. If a 4-4-2 is played then the two opposing central defenders will be taken up with Pompey’s strikers and the deeper central midfielder will be occupied with the roaming midfield player.

The two strikers of the opposing side will have to deal with 3 centre backs, one will always be spare to take a winger or on coming central midfielder. However, often the central midfielder will be taken by the holding midfielder.

Using this system Pompey will lose against teams like Everton and the other ‘bigger’ sides because the wing play will be more sophisticated than Pompey could handle. However, against teams that they should take points from, Bolton, Birmingham, Hull, Fulham etc. this system will fox the managers and the squad is big enough to keep it fresh and unpredictable. Utaka or Boetang, for example.

Pompey might survive if they make this radical change. They won’t if they do nothing.

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Argentina v Brazil – preview

Having watched a number of South American qualifying matches and Brazils recent Confederations Cup victory I am very excited about the a prospect of the forthcoming Argentina v Brazil match.

 

Argentina have moved the fixture away from their traditional ground in order to give their players the best chance, both physically (due to the altitude) and mentally (the pitch is much closer to the stands).

 

Whether it will work or not is debatable. I can not see Brazil losing this match, and therefore, Argentina will not win. A feature of Brazils recent play has been their ability to counter attack successfully. If Argentina are struggling for a win towards the end of the match then Brazil will steal a march on them.

 

The key battle will be between Javier Zanetti and the Brazilian left back. I say ‘the Brazilian left back’ because I am unsure who Dunga will select; Santos, Dani Alves, Maicon or A.N. Other. My money would be on Dani Alves for the reason that he plays against Messi everyday in training and has the pace required to get up and down the pitch.

 

If Zanetti, a man in the twilight of his career, is to support Messi and draw either Silva or Melo into support the left back, thereby creating space for Veron, he needs to be able to be able to race back and stop any developing attack. I can see Brazil having a lot of joy down Argentina’s right and, as such, Zanetti will be vitally important.

 

I don’t think he’s up to it and Brazil will either draw or, more likely, beat Argentina. We’ll see at 1:30am for what will be a cracking match.

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