The 'Midfield Destroyer' continues to be alive and well in the modern game, and encapsulates some of the most highly regarded and sought after defensive midfielders on the planet. The 'Destroyer' is essential to defending in transition and stunting attacks before the opposition reach the final third, within the wider umbrella of 'Anchoring' the midfield and screening in front of the back-line. Casemiro and Yves Bissouma would qualify as some of the best around, with Óscar Valentín and Benjamin André performing as two other fantastic emblems of the fearless persona behind the 'Midfield Destroyer' player type.
Not all 'Shuttlers' get the credit they deserve, even despite being absolute engines and motorcyclists for their teams. They respond brilliantly at all ends of the pitch through that tireless energy and appetite for the game, whilst prioritizing a defensive approach to life in football. N'Golo Kante serves as a perfect reminder of what 'Shuttlers' should strive to be - a player who wonderfully goes box-to-box with ease and admiration, without mitigating their resolute defensive responsibilities.
The term 'Sweeper' has existed within the game for decades. The traditional usage encourages the contrasting relationship between one centre-back who steps out (the 'Stopper'), and one that sweeps in behind. The modern game has evolved in such a way where centre-backs typically perform both roles simultaneously, and it's rare to find clear-cut examples of 'Sweeper-Stopper' partnerships. In fact, I'd go as far to suggest that they typically exist more in back-threes in the modern game, with one clear-cut 'Stopper' angling higher than an obvious 'Sweeper' cleaning up the messes in behind. This Player Role Analysis is all about the modern day 'Sweepers', as we break down the tasks, functions and over-arching role of a 'Sweeper' in 2022.
Over the past few decades, centre-backs have only grown in importance to attacking phases and playing out from the back, becoming some of the preeminent quarterbacks for their clubs. But the 'Stopper' is still alive and well, providing an 'old-school', throwback approach to defending that relishes the physical side of the game. Every team must find the balance in their defensive unit, and sometimes that may mean deploying a rock-solid, proactive defender that can win possession higher up the pitch. It's not the prettiest of roles, but when played correctly, 'Stoppers' can be absolutely imperative to a team's success.
As the name suggests, a 'Ball-Playing-Centre-Half' is a centre-back that excels in possession of the ball, from passing to long passing to carrying to dribbling. They can simultaneously exist as 'Sweepers' or 'Stoppers', providing another interesting asterisk to the role not found in many other positions. Unlike say a fullback or goalkeeper where we have created clearly defined separations and almost polarizations on a style scale, 'Ball-Playing-Centre-Halves' can also be 'Stoppers' or 'Sweepers'.
Liverpool have been utterly rampant this season on all fronts. With the strength in depth Jurgen Klopp has to offer in almost every position, the Reds look strong contenders to win each and every competition this season - going strong in the UEFA Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup. With an EFL Cup win already under their belts, a historic quadruple remains in their sights with a little over a month of action to play.
"If Manchester City win the match, the title race is over." - every Premier League pundit in existence. Well, Manchester City didn't win the match, so what happens now? First of all, what a match. Second of all, I am of the firm belief that Manchester City thoroughly outclassed Liverpool on the day, and that Raheem Sterling should have been ruled onside from that VAR disallowed goal (surely it's too close to say clear and obvious?). But I digress. I am not here to talk about refereeing decisions. Instead, the tactics! So let's jump into it, and discuss whether or not the title race is over, or in fact, still with everything to play for.
Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. But anyone who's read my analyses over the past few years will know that I'm a massive fan of the football data and statistics website FBRef. Powered by StatsBomb, FBRef is a free to use site with loads of data from footballing leagues around the world, including detailed scouting reports, a nifty 'Player Comparison Tool', and several practical statistics that can't be found anywhere else. So with that, today, I break down the underrated value of one of my favourite FBRef statistics - a lesser known thing called 'Progressive Passes Received.'
past weekend, securing an easy 4-2 win against arch-rivals Atletico Madrid. With the likes of Dani Alves, yes Dani Alves, and a younger version of Xavi himself in the form of 17-year-old Gavi, Barca have a mix of incredible experience and youthful verve to propel them into the top four moving forward. Here is our match analysis of Barca's 4-2 win over Atletico, and Barcelona's attacking variety and balance throughout the match.
After Roy Hodgson's retirement from the game, many thought Crystal Palace were doomed for relegation. However, with a couple of new signings and a more energetic, attack-minded style of play, Patrick Vieira has taken Palace to new heights. While they sit just tenth place in the table, Vieira's Eagles have now gone unbeaten in their last six matches, including a massive 2-0 win to set title-contenders Manchester City back a peg. Even in matches they've lost the season, the signs of what's to come from Palace in the future are promising. So with that, here is a tactical analysis of Patrick Vieira's Crystal Palace.
Since taking over from Gennarro Gattuso in May 2021, Luciano Spalletti has turned Napoli into one of Serie A's most formidable units. While a fifth place finish in the 2020-21 season was a fine result for Gli Azzurri, it wasn't what they had hoped for, nor what they could have achieved. In came Spalletti and POOF(!) the team are now on an unbeaten run at the start of the 2021-22 season, winning seven from seven. After Inter Milan broke Juventus' long-standing record last season, the Napoli faithful will now be hoping Serie A might be theirs for the taking this year. Here is a tactical analysis of Luciano Spalletti's new-look Napoli.
Hansi Flick's time in charge of Bayern Munich may have been short-lived, but the former and future national team coach will go down as one of the team's all-time greatest managers. Hansi Flick eased to a second Bundesliga title in charge of Bayern Munich on Saturday, after a smashing 6-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach. For all of their fantastic exploits this season, we analyze how Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga title. Check out the full video by AJAnalysis - YouTube.
Hansi Flick's time in charge of Bayern Munich may have been short-lived, but the former and future national team coach will go down as one of the team's all-time greatest managers. Hansi Flick eased to a second Bundesliga title in charge of Bayern Munich on Saturday, after a smashing 6-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach. For all of their fantastic exploits this season, we analyze how Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga title.