There were moments during Chelsea's Champions League final win when you couldn't quite believe how well Reece James was coping with the pressure of the occasion. Of course, even before kick-off in Porto, everyone knew how much quality the Redbridge-born right-back possessed, but his performance over the course of 90 minutes was genuinely enough to take your breath away. Indeed, that sharp intake of breath when City found space around the box was replaced by a sigh of relief after James almost single-handedly thwarted every attack.
This past weekend, West Bromwich Albion were relegated from England's top flight. The team lacked the quality to survive, and even despite Sam Allardyce turning them into a well-functioning team, they couldn't make up the necessary ground to stay in the division. But if there was one shining light in the otherwise unremarkable season for the Baggies, it would have to be their star attacking midfielder - Matheus Pereira.
Two seasons ago, Denis Zakaria was heavily linked to Manchester City, and hailed by pundits and fans alike as the next coming of Fernandinho. The Swiss midfielder still possesses all of the same qualities he did back when the speculation first surfaced, yet no one seems to talk about Zakaria in that same light anymore. Still only 24-years-old, Zakaria still has the world at his feet and should develop into one of the very best defensive midfielders in the world. If Manchester City had him on their radar, every other club should too.
After moving to Borussia Dortmund in 2017, Mahmoud Dahoud failed to establish himself at the club season after season. At the time of his arrival, the German international was considered one of the very best midfielders in the Bundesliga, and Dortmund's €12million signing of the Syrian-born superstar was seen as an absolute coup. An obvious baller and astute passer, Dahoud lacked the engine and defensive fervidity that Dortmund desired in his early years at the club and couldn't find his way into the Dortmund lineup. He was constantly cast aside season after season for the likes of Witsel, Delaney, Weigl and Can, despite his obvious quality on the ball. This left many fans wondering - when will Mo Dahoud be given a chance to shine for Dortmund? That question has now been answered, thanks in large part to current Dortmund boss Edin Terzic.
According to multiple sources, RB Leipzig's Ibrahima Konaté is set to join Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, as the club look to end their search for a new centre-back. The French defender broke onto the scene with Leipzig at the start of the 2018-19 campaign, making 28 appearances in the Bundesliga as Die Roten Bullen finished third. Since then, Konaté's found minutes on the pitch difficult to come by, appearing in only 12 league fixtures in 2020-21 and 8 in 2019-20. In Liverpool's Round of 16 match-up against the Red Bulls in the UEFA Champions League this season, the Frenchman was absent for both fixtures. Upon hearing this you might be wondering...did they get the wrong man?
In the Serie A 2020-21 season, AC Milan showed great promise and performances, having their best season in over a decade. Pioli’s tactics were spot on throughout the season, with the players on the field coming to life in surprising ways. The likes of Davide Calabria, Theo Hernandez and Rafael Leao have all had their best seasons as professional players this season but here we shed light on one of the most important players to the Milan system – 39-year old Swedish veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
After breaking onto the scene with FK Molde in 2018, Erling Haaland has had a quick rise to becoming one of the very best footballers on the planet now in 2021, at the tender age of twenty years old. This season the Norwegian striker has taken his game to new heights, scoring a remarkable thirty-two goals in twenty-eight matches across all competitions. He's particularly impressed in the UEFA Champions League, leading Dortmund into the Quarter Finals with ten goals in six matches so far. Here is a tactical analysis of one of the greatest phenoms in the history of the Bundesliga - Erling Haaland.
After his incredible performance against FC Barcelona, many now regard Kylian Mbappe as the next coming of Lionel Messi, with some even suggesting he's already taken over as the world's greatest player. It was clear as day that Mbappe was going to be a world beater when he first stepped onto the scene with AS Monaco as a seventeen-year-old. But the Frenchman has progressed just as many hoped he might, which cannot be said about most of the seventeen-year old's who have burst onto the scene like Mbappe. Now a well established front-man for PSG, Mbappe is once again leading his team's charge toward the UEFA Champions League final just as he did last season. This is a tactical analysis all about PSG's Kylian Mbappe.
Season after season in the Premier League, two of the biggest topics of debate involve refereeing and goalkeeping. We've already written about one of those two debates in our rant about the handball rule at the beginning of the season, and now it's time to examine the good and the bad of the Premier League's goalkeepers this season. Jordan Pickford, David De Gea and Alisson have all received criticism and attention for their recent performances, but this article attempts to assess how these players have actually performed, using data analytics. This is our analysis of the five best and worst goalkeepers in the league this season, utilizing saves per goal conceded as a statistical metric for our assessment.
Thomas Tuchel currently remains unbeaten in his first three matches in charge of Chelsea. During that time his team have kept over 70% of the possession and haven't conceded a single goal. One of Tuchel's most impressive tactical implementations has been his reliance on Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic as a double-pivot in a highly functional 3-4-2-1/3-4-3 system that transforms into a 3-2-5 in attack. Jorginho and Kovacic are playing just about as well as any central midfielders in the world at the moment, and might just be the pair of players that can bring Chelsea to greater times. This article will explore how players of any age can boss the midfield like Kovacic and Jorginho.