Tuesday, 11 April 2017

My point of view on Champions league (I. part)

I was pretty close to take Monaco to qualify, or Monaco team totals over, but I've changed my mind. Let me explain why.

Mainly, there are too small differences between the top clubs in Europe, and in my opinion it's better to open the beer, or whatever you prefer, and watch matches in peace, cheering for your favourites. But of course, if you want to gamble, or you simply need to bet on Champions league to make it interesting, then be careful with stakes! 

Borussia Dortmund - Monaco

First of all, Signal-Iduna-Park is world wide known as stadium with amazing atmosphere. Borussia will have 12th player for sure! Everyone talking about the goals here, which is totally understandable, as both teams are mostly known as great attacking teams. But, let's take a look to the odds. Less than 1,40 already, and dropping. That's simply not normal for quarter finals of Champions league. Match is very important for both teams, and we all know that away goal counts more, so I don't believe that Borussia will go all out to attack. 

Borussia will probably miss Reus and Castro, while Durm, Götze and Schürrle are out for sure.
Monaco cannot count on suspended midfielder Bakayoko, while important full back Sidibe is injured, as well as Boschilia and Carillo.

Match is simply too important to be careless in defence. I even think that defence will play important role in this duel. There are rumours that Jardim will start with Raggi as left full back which means that their defence line will be positioned much deeper as we were used to see them. Reason is of course understandable... who would want to let big space between goalkeeper and defence, if Aubameyang is in opposite team. 

Monaco won their last league match in Angers, but they were playing with fire on this match. They were pretty close to drop points there, but all in all points are what counts, and they are still on the first place with 3 points ahead of PSG. Jardim left some important players on the bench, Bernardo Silva played 65 minutes, so it's obvious that they were already thinking about BVB. 

BVB lost Der Klassiker on Allianz Arena with 4-1, even though Tuchel played with the strongest squad. For sure, high loss against the biggest rival from Germany is not the best start of important week. 

Monaco will miss Bakayoko, who is their key box to box midfielder, and without Sidibe and Mendy this team will look pretty different. On the right full back position, we'll probably see Toure, which is similar player as Sidibe and Mendy are, capable to make runs, with pace, attacking minded, while Raggi is more like central defender. He is not capable to be in finish of Monaco attacks. We were used to see Monaco attacking, or arriving into opponents box with 7-8 players. Well, without Bakayoko, Sidibe and Mendy, we won't see that. We'll see Monaco in much more careful shape. With Joao Moutinho in midfield, they might be stronger on the ball, but as mentioned before, without this "runner", typical box to box midfielder, who was one of key players of Monaco against Manchester City. I think that attack of Monaco will more depend on individual skills of Bernardo Silva, Mbappe, Falcao, Lemar,... as before when whole team was coming to attack, and we were all wondering how is possible that team with 4-4-2 formation is coming in opposite box with 7-8 players (especially with both full backs at the same time!). I don't know Borussia Dortmund well enough, but even if Tuchel was pretty similar to Guardiola on press conference, saying that he knows that Monaco will score, and that they will need to score as well, I think that we might see calmer match as world is expecting to see.

Juventus - Barcelona

Let's start with words of captain Gianluigi Buffon: "Barcelona are probably the most difficult team to knock out over two legs, because often if whether they win or lose is down to their own performance." I totally agree with this statement. But specially now, you cannot know what kind Barcelona will come up on the pitch. We've seen 4-0 defeat in Paris, then 6-1 win at home, it's impossible to predict things here, but let's see some facts. Barcelona will miss Sergio Busquets, who is key when it comes to Barcelona's build up for a decade now. They are already having big problems with buildup, as Enrique tried to change this team to "counter-attacking" team, somehow destroying the impact of midfield on the game. It's also needed to mention, that Catalan club made some seriously strange decisions in transfer markets, with selling home grown youth players, and bringing in other young players, mainly from Valencia. It's obvious that values of "Cruyff's and Guardiola's" Barcelona, are pretty in the shadow lately, or even started disappearing. That's why I think that Juventus might take advantage of it.

Juventus won their league match against Chievo with 2-0, and Allegri rested some important players (Chiellini, Pjanić, Mandžukić didn't play, while Bonucci came for last 20 minutes, Alves for last 5 minutes..). 

Juve will miss Pjaca, who is injured, while Mandžukić remains under question mark.

Barcelona had an opportunity to close the gap with Real Madrid who lost points against Atletico, but they lost in Malaga with 2-0, and lost Neymar with red card. Again, it was one of those matches, where you are thinking "how the hell are they capable to play that good and that bad in few days difference". 

Barcelona will miss already mentioned Busquets as well as injured Rafinha, Vidal and Arda Turan.

Allegri announced that he is going to match with 4 offensive players, but that is not saying almost anything. We can still expect them as in 4-2-3-1 formation, as in 3-5-2/5-3-2 or 3-4-3/5-4-1. They have different profiles of players capable to play in different roles, so even seeing formation won't tell us everything. It's important to mention Dani Alves, who moved to Juventus right from Barcelona, and knows his former team mates very well. As I've said before, Barcelona will miss Busquets at build-up, which means that Messi will probably need to come deeper, to get the ball and to help in creation, being involved in midfield much more as if Busquets is on the pitch. With pressing of Juventus, it can happen, that he will struggle (something similar happened in Paris, where 4 or even 5 players of PSG were in position to make pressure on Leo. When it comes to organised, disciplined teams, then Juventus is among top3 if not top team in the world. 

On the other hand official news are coming about Neymar suspension in La Liga, and he received 1 match suspension for 2 yellow cards and 2 matches suspension for clapping to referee. That means that he won't play on El Clasico in Madrid. Can that affect his performance today?

Both teams have some incredible individuals. Right now Juventus looks stronger, and especially much more consistent. And right that is the biggest problem of Barcelona. Who is having problems with their image lately. It's true that they've succeeded with miracle against PSG, but Juventus is not PSG and against them, they will need two strong performances. Recent results are obviously pointing that they are not capable of that, but who has guts to go against this unpredictable Barcelona? Not me. As mentioned above, little things will decide the winner in those matches...

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