An Assortment

Crack Football has been striking the chord of inactivity since mid-July, but to keep it ticking over I have decided to  fill it with an assortment of insight-based articles I have written for various web-based media. Tactical pieces, statistical pieces and opinions. The same amount of effort goes into my articles published elsewhere like in Crack Football, and there is always a sincere attempt to learn and improve constantly and look for pieces of scrap wherever possible.

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a) Brendan Rodgers is a forgotten man in Liverpool now but I, like all other Liverpool optimists, started the season with a clean slate hoping for switches of fortune for one of English football’s great institutions. What started as a mission to cover all of Liverpool’s Premier League matches this season petered out when the Reds lost to West Ham at Anfield for the first time since the 1960s.

Following are the tactical analyses of Liverpool’s first two league games of the 2015/16 season. It was a time when things looked good under Rodgers; with two wins from two games, our tails were up. But things boiled over soon, and Rodgers is no longer around.

Tactical Analysis: Stoke City 0-1 Liverpool | Stoke Attack Down The Right And Liverpool’s Lack Of Defensive Cover

Tactical Analysis: Liverpool 1-0 Bournemouth | Combination Play Down The Right

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b) Napoli have had a fine start to their 2015/16 Serie A campaign and with more than 3/4ths of the season still to play, they have already registered wins over Lazio, Juventus, AC Milan and Fiorentina. Things are on the up for Maurizio Sarri, so much so that he has already earned a nickname of wizard Sarri Potter.

However, they weren’t too rosy for Sarri at the start of the season. A loss against Sassuolo followed by two draws against Sampdoria and ex-club Empoli were part of a poor start to the post-Rafa Benitez era. But since then, Napoli have won four of their last five league games, a run kick-started by a 5-0 shellacking of Lazio at Stadio San Paolo, a game which I tactically analysed for Outside of the Boot.

Tactical Analysis: Napoli 5-0 Lazio | Counter Pressing And Left-Sided Combinations

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c) One of Barcelona’s La Masia starlets, Rafinha, had a great start to the 2015/16 campaign. The Brazilian, who earned his place in Luis Enrique’s side as the go-to man from the bench this season after the sale of Pedro to Chelsea, suffered a season-ending ACL tear in a Champions League clash against AS Roma, just a week after representing Brazil for the first time in an international match and only a day after I penned the following piece for Barcablog.

Why Rafinha Is Barcelona’s Blessing In Disguise

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d) Following Italian champions Juventus is fun, partly because of their massive global fan base, and partly because of manager Massimiliano Allegri’s tactical inventiveness. But Juventus haven’t had a great start to the season, and the Champions League has been a saving grace for their domestic predicaments.

Last season’s finalists started this campaign like a train, knocking over both Manchester City and Sevilla before contriving to drop their first points against Borussia Monchengladbach last week. The Sevilla win was a breeze for La Vecchia Signora, a typical European performance which I analysed tactically.

Tactical Analysis: Juventus 2-0 Sevilla | Allegri’s Tactical Innovation Keeps Sevilla At An Arm’s Length

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e) Have football title races gotten boring? Boring is unquantifiable in isolation, hence I fail to reach a valid conclusion in my analysis for Outside of the Boot. A four-minute read.

Analysis: Have Football Title Races Gotten Boring?

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f) Athletic Bilbao centre-back Aymeric Laporte’s burgeoning reputation has turned him into a player Barcelona fancy. The Frenchman is only the second from his country after Bixente Lizarazu to represent Athletic, who strictly adhere to their policy of meeting their ends with players of Basque origins, or in Laporte’s case, born and raised in the Basque country.

Laporte has already outperformed several Barcelona defenders this season according to the stats men. With the Catalan giants yet to fill the void left by Carles Puyol a year ago, their interest in Laporte could turn into a move to the Camp Nou for the defender. Following is a piece for Barcablog, on why Laporte could be the heir to Puyol.

Aymeric Laporte Is The Long-Term Solution To Barcelona’s Defensive Struggle

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g) England qualified for the Euro 2016 finals at a canter by winning all their ten qualifying games, albeit against lower-ranked opponents whose combined current average Fifa ranking is 91. What does it mean for Roy Hodgson’s Three Lions to head into France next summer on the back of a perfect qualification campaign?

Five teams in the history of the European Championship have managed to do what England achieved in the qualifiers, and only one emerged as the champions at the end of the finals. What does it suggest for England? Does it lay a marker on how far England can go in the finals? Is a major international tournament triumph forthcoming?

England At Euro 2016: Does Perfect Qualification Predict Success?

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h) Following are two stats-based articles on the Premier League’s hardest-working players (data updated till match day nine) and the fastest players in England’s top flight. There are quite a few surprising names in there, and all the statistics have been taken from EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, the Official Player Rating Index of the Barclays Premier League.

Stats: Premier League’s 8 Hardest Working Players This Season

10 Fastest Players In The Premier League

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i) It’s been more than two years since the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson retired, but have Manchester United rid themselves of their “Fergie Time” stigma? Stats from the 2014/15 Premier League reveal some interesting insights on the injury time details and how they impact the big clubs. An article for Soccerlens.

Are Manchester United Still The Kings Of Injury Time?

 

Thanks for reading.

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