Fierce_LiNk

Football Season 2019-20

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I made a decision to watch the Barcelona vs Napoli match since I thought that had the bigger chance of an upset. Napoli's defending has been so, so poor. Barcelona had a goal harshly disallowed, but have already scored 3, with Napoli getting a penalty before half time. Barcelona will win this and I think they'll score more in this second half.

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Glad I stopped watching the Chelsea game when I did, would much rather see some moments of Messi magic than us getting hammered, because it's hard to say how many more times we'll get to watch him at this point. I'll be checking the highlights for sure, but I'm guessing we were just as unconvincing throughout the rest of the game as we were in the opening 25. Those last two goals both being from crosses proves just how much we need to invest in, and work on, our defence. 

As for the Barça game, Messi's goal was absolutely brilliant. I love how intelligently he manages his own game and saves his energy for spurts of pace and brilliance throughout the game, and seeing him run through defenders, get that half a yard, and then score from that position from the floor makes me feel like I'm in high school again.

But while it's great to watch Messi save himself, as he should, why the hell does it feel like the rest of the team are doing the same? Few members of the old guard that are still left aside, there's no intensity or passion from the rest of the team, they're not chasing it down, and look absolutely exhausted. It's hard to not compare them to a Barça we've seen before, but they never seemed to be in control of the game, their passes were slow and sloppy, and I think were lucky Napoli couldn't find any consistency in the rhythm of their attacks. 

That's all apart from De Jong, though, who deserves special mention. His outside of the foot pass to Messi for what would have been the third if not cruelly overturned was absolutely superb, he consistently chased things down unlike his teammate, and was the only one driving other than Messi them forwards towards the opposition goal. Some great footwork to wriggle his way through the opposition at times, too. 

1 hour ago, Fierce_LiNk said:

Napoli's defending has been so, so poor. Barcelona had a goal harshly disallowed, but have already scored 3, with Napoli getting a penalty before half time. Barcelona will win this and I think they'll score more in this second half.

Yep, agreed. Napoli were very poor in defence, and though I think Koulibaly is a great defender of the goal, he really needs to sort out his footwork if he's going to be moving on up elsewhere. Got to give credit where credit is due to Gattuso, though, for doing such a great job of discipling this Napoli side after what happened under Ancelotti earlier on this season, it was great still seeing that fire in their eyes and them chasing the ball well into stoppage time despite knowing full well that they were out. 

For the disallowed goal, I can only agree that it's very harsh. Firstly, because De Jong's pass now won't be immortalised in goal reels, but more seriously because while they're abiding the letter of the law, the ball glanced Messi's arm at best, didn't give it any real direction, and I'm sure the outcome would have been the same regardless.

I even thought that the Koulibaly was a little on the harsher side too, I can see why it was given, but he clearly wasn't aware that Messi was next to - and then suddenly in front of - him, considering how long he took to start swinging his leg to clear the ball, as well as him going for it at full whack. At the same time, I guess it can be argued that him not being aware of Messi's presence is also just as dangerous, which is why I think it's fair to give it in the end. 

Overall, I think the takeaway is that Barça need a serious shakeup ahead of their game against Bayern. This team seem so out of it. But, now that we're just having one-off knockout round matches...there's still a chance Barça can find their way to the final and win it, but if tonight is anything to go by, they're going to be heavily reliant on De Jong and Messi in particular to do so. 

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Anyone else rooting for Atalanta? They're leading against PSG, but more than that they're the far superior team. 

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, LazyBoy said:

Anyone else rooting for Atalanta? They're leading against PSG, but more than that they're the far superior team. 

They've done really well so far, been solid in midfield where most of the battles seem to be going down, and PSG have allowed them to walk all over them.

The biggest problem they are going to have going into this second half is that they are giving far too many chances away. Neymar's shooting boots aren't on and he should have got it closer to the goal when he lumped it wide towards the end of that half, but this PSG side has far too much attacking potency for someone else to not turn on to the chances they're getting. Worst case, they'll throw Mbappé on. 

For all of the glitz and glamour of this PSG side, and all of the solid individuals they have on their team sheet, there's no cohesion to their play. They're like untamed beasts. He might have misfired so far, but Neymar looks hungry, he's chasing things down, and he's putting a shift in. Now is his time to turn up. 

Hopefully see some more goals in this second half. Going by the first half, it looks open for the taking for whoever can turn up now. Looking forward to it! 

Edited by Julius

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I think PSG's lack of sharpness is evident - what was the last competitive game they played?

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10 minutes ago, LazyBoy said:

I think PSG's lack of sharpness is evident - what was the last competitive game they played?

Last official game would be the end of last month in the Coupe de la Ligue final, think they had a friendly since though. 

Their core of Di María and Verratti missing is really showing, it just gives them that balance in midfield a bit more and connects their attack a bit better. 

Looked much better since Mbappé came on, mind. Draxler being thrown on with Paredes might help things a bit more. 

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Well there it is. Left it late, but in the end, deserved. Finally, PSG get their own slice of luck and best their demons. 

Really sparked into life by Mbappé coming on, dominated that second half after he came on. Paredes and Draxler coming on really balanced them out. Neymar was brilliant, if a bit unfortunate in front of goal. 

But they cannot afford to fall asleep in the first half next week, especially if they find themselves up against Simeone and Atlético. They need to come out now firing on all cylinders. 

Splendid game of football for the neutral, great fight shown by Atalanta. 

Roll on tomorrow's game! 

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It's like United vs. Bayern all over again. Except maybe not quite on the same level as that game since that was a final.

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Posted (edited)

Deserved win by Leipzig, made especially sweeter by not having Timo Werner at their disposal. 

Atlético were just too negative for the first half, and didn't really turn up until the last 25 minutes after João Félix came on and sparked them to life, but it was too little too late. He was superb, created some great chances, smartly won a penalty, and coolly converted. Simeone just needed to make more changes earlier on. There's no reason that the pressure we saw in the final 5 minutes weren't seen for the final 15 minutes when they were on level terms. Why do they need to go behind to come to life? 

Upamecano and Angeliño were absolutely the best players on the pitch tonight, the former giving an incredibly solid defensive display and showed his proficiency on the ball - I think his defensive style and possessive attitude would suit Barcelona perfectly. Angeliño was a war horse, constantly driving Leipzig forward, always dragging Atlético wide with the ball and then bringing the ball back inside with some smart passing. Leipzig moved the ball from left to right really well throughout. A great achievement for them to go from formation to UCL semis in 11 years, of course it hasn't been without its criticisms in how they've gone about it, but awesome hearing Nagelsmann's thoughts on the PSG vs Atalanta game and what he felt went wrong for Atalanta defensively in minding Neymar and Mbappé. 

Based on what we've seen in the opening quarter final matches, I don't think PSG vs Leipzig is as predictable game as it might be on paper. PSG has stellar individiuals, and if Neymar and Mbappé turn up they can cut through any defensive lineup, especially if Verratti is fit in time to play, but their game against Atalanta gave Nagelsmann a lot of material to find weaknesses in. Leipzig on the other hand are a great cohesive unit, and without Werner are blunted a bit in attack, but tonight showed that they can still take the battle to PSG next week. Should be a great game. 

Barça vs Bayern tomorrow too, which I cannot wait for. Bayern are favourites by far and ravenously tore us apart, but if the stars align, Barça can still take anyone on their day. Even if it is the weakest Barcelona side of probably the last 15 years or so, all it takes is a little Messi magic. Hoping for it to be a competitive match! 

Edited by Julius

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8 hours ago, Julius said:

Barça vs Bayern tomorrow too, which I cannot wait for. Bayern are favourites by far and ravenously tore us apart, but if the stars align, Barça can still take anyone on their day. Even if it is the weakest Barcelona side of probably the last 15 years or so, all it takes is a little Messi magic. Hoping for it to be a competitive match! 

Oh boy, I'm so nervous :D

We're in top form but as you said: Barca can take on anyone on a good day.

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5 hours ago, drahkon said:

Oh boy, I'm so nervous :D

We're in top form but as you said: Barca can take on anyone on a good day.

I'd be very surprised if you didn't smash them. A 'Barca are in crisis' level smashing, followed closely by 'is Spanish football declining' debate aired on every talk show.

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What a game it's been so far. Could be 3-1 already to Barcelona. Bayern Munich off to a great start and then a crazy own goal to put Barcelona back in it. Crazy game.

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Phew. Time to take a breather.

No concentration in the first 10 minutes. Thankfully the equalizer and the following chance by Messi woke us up. After that...domination. Great tactical display and very disciplined performance by each and everyone of our players.

"Just" gotta keep this up.

Oh and...the main ref is horrible. Then again, I was spoiled by a great referee performance yesterday.

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Such a weird first half. Bayern deservedly leave, but the score could just have easily have been flipped, or it could even be 4-4 right now. 

That opening 10 minutes was great, open, end-to-end stuff. So many mistakes. Barça aren't as comfortable on the ball as you think they would be, have been playing it backwards way too much, and it's no surprise a team which pushes as high and consistently as Bayern have scored a few. On the other hand, Bayern's defence seem to become quite narrow when going backwards, and when playing such a high line, it's leaving massive open spaces down the flanks for Messi to capitalise on during the counter. 

Don't see Barça turning it around, but I would not be surprised if they scored a couple. I would expect Bayern's defence to tighten up and play a little deeper, and then go kill Barça off on the counter. Should be an interesting second half. 

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I've never such poor defensive displays by two top class sides at this stage of the Champions League. High lines by both sides, but the Barcelona defence has been hideous. HIDEOUS. I've loved watching every second of this game.

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5 minutes ago, drahkon said:

I love Davies.
Still nervous, though.

 

Looks like one hell of a player. Amazing how he just destroyed all of those Barca players on that side to set up the fifth goal.

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Just now, Fierce_LiNk said:

Looks like one hell of a player.

His first season as a starter for us. He's been one of the very best in the league, probably one of the top 3 defenders in Europe right now. And he's 19 (maybe 20 now, not sure).

I love him :D

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7-2?!?!?

Reminds me so much of the Germany/Brazil World Cup game. Awful Barcelona performance, amazing Bayern Munich. 

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YES :D

Aside from 10-15 minutes spread out over the match, this was a great performance.

Gotta keep this up for (hopefully) the remaining two matches.

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9 hours ago, LazyBoy said:

I'd be very surprised if you didn't smash them. A 'Barca are in crisis' level smashing, followed closely by 'is Spanish football declining' debate aired on every talk show.

And there I was thinking I might have underestimated Barca.

That was absolute cruelty.

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Couldn't have happened to a nicer team. Hate Barcelona.

Every single one of Bayern's players outplayed, outfought, outran and outworked every Barcelona guy. Muller was immense, that first half in particular.

Coutinho scoring two goals against them is lol-worthy. Ridiculous. :laughing::laughing:

  • Haha 1

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That was a crazy match. In hindsight, Spurs weren't that bad in the group stage!

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Might watch this game at some point in the future when I'm having a bad day. Brilliant performance. I love it when you watch a football match and the players don't give a shit about defending. It's like when you're a kid and everyone just wants to play up front. Could have scored 20 tonight. 

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Absolutely amazing game by Bayern, well deserved win. Total domination made possible by relentless attacking football. Lovely stuff. Definite shades of Brazil v. Germany back at the 2014 World Cup. 

Would be a little nervous for them if they end up against City in the semis, though. As I said before, running back, their defence is far too narrow - imagining City's wingers running down those flanks against them on the counter, being supplied by Dr Bruyne? And if we can notice that, you can only imagine how much else someone like Pep might be picking up on. Not saying it will all go to plan for City of they end up against them, but there is one overwhelmingly clear weakness to capitalise on in this Bayern team. 

9 hours ago, LazyBoy said:

I'd be very surprised if you didn't smash them. A 'Barca are in crisis' level smashing, followed closely by 'is Spanish football declining' debate aired on every talk show.

Yep, and then next season one of their former players will take the helm and win the treble at the first time of asking :p

But in all seriousness - Barça are in crisis, and have been for years. We see glimpses of it here when things come crashing down, but then it slides under the radar for a long time because they have players who can produce moments of magic. It's no coincidence that things have only gone downhill since Bartomeu took over as president, and with the decisions he's made, has somehow managed to waste the last half decade of Messi's European career, who is now past his peak (despite still having that innate magic spark). Since last winning the Champions League in 2015, they've gone out at the quarter finals four times, and at the semi-finals once, the two years before competition bottling healthy leads against Roma and Liverpool. And let's not forget that they had to overturn a 4-0 deficit against PSG one of those years just to get through the Round of 16. Their domestic form has been erratic throughout the last few seasons too.

Honestly, I think even the 14/15 UCL win, despite having the wicked Messi-Suarez-Neymar attacking trio, was riding off the coattails of Guardiola's success quite heavily. The managerial position at Barcelona has been nothing short of a sham since Guardiola left in 2012; seriously, when can we genuinely say they've done anything other than depend on the players' skill and the leftovers of Guardiola's tactics, which are so deeply rooted in the squad and academy, to get by? Maybe, at a stretch, Enrique's more direct approach, but even then it was figured out shortly after that 14/15 UCL by opposition teams. 

We don't need to look any further back than tonight for proof of this though - Barcelona came out in a 4-4-2 with no real game plan, and stuck with it despite that. A 4-4-2 is great for soaking up pressure...which they did not do. Instead, they were still trying to play exactly how they did a decade ago - playing out from the back. Problem is, they're trying to do the same tricks with the weakest team they've fielded in the last 15 years, maybe even more, so is it any real surprise it comes crashing down like this? 

Setién will be gone shortly I'm sure, but I just don't know who walks in. Who would want this job? It's a poison chalice, you've got £300 million+ spent across Dembele, Coutinho, and Griezmann, who might not suit even suit the next playing style that they decide to carry. Xavi and Puyol could bring some passion back to the dressing room, but they need an evolution of tiki-taka, or, what could take much longer, a complete overhaul of the squad and the tactics alike, like when Guardiola came in back in 2008. 

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