GL Round Table: How to win the Champions League in the Modern Era

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Post by Casciavit Mon Aug 24, 2020 5:58 am

This will be a two-part post. In the first post, I will talk about the relationship between clutch finishers and CL champions. The second post will be more of a hypothetical squad building post on how to best win the CL.




Re: Finishers & The CL

This seems to have turned into its own discussion recently. Pep haters seem to think we use it as an excuse to justify City's CL exits. Nobody is saying Pep isn't at fault for the exits and nobody is saying he shouldn't have to rely on missed sitters to qualify against Lyon. However, to claim City haven't struggled with finishing in the CL is downright wrong. City isn't the only team who struggle with it though, and I don't think a lot of people here realize how important taking your chances are. I want this to be a serious thread to discuss the most important things to win the CL. If any of you have additional thoughts/theories please share. I will share mine.

Finishing is the most important thing to win the CL.

I'm going to use a metric to explain why it's correlated to winning the CL.

We are going to use Expected Goals (xG). Opta defines xG as:

Expected goals (xG) measures the quality of a shot based on several variables such as assist type, shot angle and distance from goal, whether it was a headed shot and whether it was defined as a big chance.

Adding up a player or team’s expected goals can give us an indication of how many goals a player or team should have scored on average, given the shots they have taken.

Essentially it's placing a statistical value on how likely you're going to score depending on the context of a shot.

After a few years, I've come to the theory that the way to win the CL is by having clutch forwards and having midfielders who have the capacity to manage the tempo of the chaotic nature of knockout matches.

Today was a great example. PSG failed to take their chances, and when PSG conceded and the game went end-to-end, there wasn't a single PSG player calming things down. They tried getting the ball high up the pitch ASAP. It was the equivalent of playing ultra attacking on FIFA. Bayern on the other hand had Thiago who tried to bring patience to the play. Madrid had Modric and Kroos doing it, and Barca had Xavi and Iniesta.

I've come to this conclusion mostly through the eye test, but the stats back me up too.

We will look at the xG of the CL during the time in Lisbon. It makes things even more apparent because they were 90-minute ties. These numbers exclude any penalties.

R16:
City vs Madrid: 2-1. xG was 2.0 - 0.8.
Juve vs Lyon: 2-1. xG was 1.9 - 0.2
Barca vs Napoli: 3-1. xG was 0.4 - 1.0
Bayern vs Chelsea: 4-1. xG was 2.0 - 0.9.

Quarters:
PSG vs Atalanta: 2-1. xG was 2.8 - 0.5.
RBL vs Atletico: 2-1. xG was 0.8 - 0.3.
Bayern vs Barca: 8-2. xG was 5.1 - 0.9.
Lyon vs City: 3-1. xG was 1.0 - 2.3.

Semis:
PSG vs RBL: 3-0. xG was 3.6 - 1.1.
Bayern vs Lyon: 3-0. xG was 2.7 - 1.1.

Finals:
Bayern vs PSG: 1-0. xG was 1.1 - 1.0.

Notice how the only teams who won were those overperformed relative to their xG or had performances similar to it.

These stats once again amplify a phrase I've been saying for the longest time regarding the CL. The players who win you the CL are those who do the most with the least, not those who do the least with the most. Hence, if you want to win the CL you need players who DON'T underperform relative to their xG. They need to have a shooting rate similar to it, but ideally, you'd want it over it.

That's where having clinical finishers come into play. I know some ignorant bunch on here refuse to see that, but when the eye test and stats back me up, it shows how wrong that lot is. Now the question is what makes a clinical finisher:

I would say it's a player who has the ability to shoot from all sorts of angles combined with good accuracy and power. Now some players might have that skill, but seem to go missing in Europe (Aguero *cough*), hence having a big game mentality in Europe also counts. Essentially, you're looking for clutch players. However, these players can't do it alone they need to play in a good system in which their teams create quality chances.

I'm going to list the CL winners in the last decade, and you'll notice a trend in who their forwards were:

Inter 2010: Milito and Eto'o
Barca 2011: Messi, Villa, and Pedro
Chelsea 2012: Drogba
Bayern 2013: Mandzukic and Muller (Robben also had great shooting technique, but up until the final he had the reputation of a choker)
Madrid 2014: Cristiano, Bale, Benz
Barca 2015: Messi, Neymar, and Suarez
Madrid 2016: Cristiano, Bale, Benz
Madrid 2017: Cristiano and Benz
Madrid 2018: Cristiano, Bale, and Benz
Liverpool 2019: Salah and Mane
Bayern 2020: Lewandowski, Mueller, and Gnabry

Take a moment and look at the names on here. All these guys are certified match winners. Most if not all of them had superb shooting techniques combined with a big game CL mentality (maybe Lewa aside). They also had the ability to pull something out of nothing (scoring from low xG opportunities). I don't think I'll be able to find their individual xG during the CL knockout rounds, but I'm very confident in them performing well relative to it.

Tuchel talked about this exact thing in his post-match interview how he wanted efficiency and bravery. He said they tried doing finishing training the day before to give the players a good feeling, but it's just not really something you can train for at this kind of level. It's both a mentality and technique thing.



Some players have that instinct, others don't. That's what it comes down to in the biggest moments.

Conclusion:

Big game players who can take their chances when it counts are your best bet to win the Champions League. It isn't a guarantee that they will always finish their big chances, but they are the ones most likely to do so. If there isn't a big difference in performance, most CL exits come down to that detail, that their players lacked that killer instinct in the box. Football will always be a game about who scores more, so this should come as no surprise.
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Post by Casciavit Mon Aug 24, 2020 5:58 am

This second post is going to be more of a thought experiment.

Let's say I've just been hired as a director for a club. The owner said he'll support me financially as much as I want, the only thing that matters is I make the team win the CL.

Here's what I will do, and these steps I believe are the most important things to win the CL. I will back them up with trends of recent winners.

Step 1:
Hire a top coach who prioritizes balance. Setting up your team in the CL is all about making the players as comfortable as possible in an uncomfortable environment. If your goalie can't play with the ball at his feet, don't build from the back. Considering the chaotic nature of knockout rounds, and the influence the smallest of details have, it is absolutely imperative that you minimize the variance of all other things on the pitch. So that means play a starting 11 where the players are familiar with each other and you play to their strengths.

I'd also say to avoid hiring coaches who play robotic football like Pep and Conte. Elite coaches, but unless they have generational players suited to their styles or change their management styles, their current coaching styles don't suit the CL.

You want coaches who understand what the most important players in modern football are. Coaches who know your wingers need to be able to run behind the ball, your midfield needs to be athletic and balanced, and your defense needs to be reliable. They also need to give their players freedom and are able to coach them to play both deep and high and really manage all phases of play, while maintaining compactness.  

Trend: All CL winners since 2011 have been balancers and not idealists. Di Matteo, Jupp, Ancelotti, Lucho, Zidane, Klopp, and Flick.

Step 2: Buy big game forwards. It doesn't necessarily have to be galacticos, but galacticos are more likely to make something out of nothing for you. As I said it's about finding forwards who can do the most with the least. Even if the coach fucks up, they can save their ass. They are your best bet to win the CL.

Trend: I mentioned it in the post above, but all the CL winners in the last decade had forwards who could put the game to bed when the chances came to them.

Step 3: Have a midfield that represents your coaching style. Midfield is the representation of a team. They dictate the way you play. It is crucial that it is balanced. If it's a midfield two if someone likes to play higher up, have the other play deeper. If it's a midfield three, then make sure you have different profiles. The most common midfield three profile consists of a destroyer, passer, and box to box. Ideally, your passer should be able to kill the tempo and bring patience to the game whenever it becomes end to end. However, it depends on the coach. Klopp doesn't need that because he builds his teams to thrive in chaos. His midfielders like it when it's end to end. However, even he's looking for a controller now, based on recent links with Thiago.

Trend: Xavi and Iniesta, Kroos and Modric, and now Thiago have all shown the importance of a controller in midfield. Those players are crucial for technical teams. For teams who were more built on athleticism like Bayern 2013 and Liverpool 2019, their midfielders were perfect representations of their teams.  

Step 4: Solskjaer once said there's no such thing as a good save, just a bad finish. Truth is even the best of shots might be saved, but having a goalie who can do that and get rid of the possibility of having mishaps is incredibly crucial. The difference between Liverpool in 2018 and 2019 is that they replaced Karius with Alisson. Having able shot stoppers is the most important thing.

Trend: I love a goalie who can play with his feet, but the most important trait to have is one who's superb with his hands. Navas, Neuer, and Alisson make it no surprise. Although the latter two are great on the ball too. Finding a goalie who can do both, is the best of both worlds.

Step 5: A defensive leader. You need a big game CB who doesn't make mistakes in those high-pressure moments. A complete CB who can do it all. Win aerial challenges, tackle, pass, and carry. Avoid cruiserweight CB's like Christensen and donkey CB's like Otamendi at all costs.

Trend: Ramos and Van Dijk. Everyone knows the impact those two have on their respective defenses. Nothing else needs to be said.

Step 6: Flying fullbacks. They add a completely different element to a team's game. If you have fullbacks who can attack, you can play your CM's deeper and have them cover their backs, and then have your wingers come inside. Having fast wingers attack from the inside rather than the outside will give the opposition all sorts of headaches. Since I'm referring to a 4-3-3 shape, having players with those qualities turns the shape into a 2-3-5. The best attacking shape in football.

Trend: Pep and Lucho's Barca, Zidane's Madrid, and Klopp's Liverpool all attacked in that same shape in the opposition's half.

Step 7: Depth. Sometimes plan A doesn't work and you have to resort to the bench. Ideally, you would want players who could compete with the starters, but not every team can have that kind of quality on the bench. I believe football is a game of solutions. The more solutions you have, the more likely you are to win.

For example, if I have a pacey player who has little end product, I wouldn't really start him in the CL if I have more efficient players, but I can see their influence coming from the bench (someone like Vinicius). If I'm playing with a small CF, having a target man come on can also work its magic (Llorente for Spurs last year).

After years of watching and analyzing matches and their results, I've come to the conclusion that these 7 steps are what you need to compete in the deep CL stages. Obviously they aren't absolute principles, but these seem to be traits that most winners have shared over the years.

Thank you for coming to my ted talk.
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Post by Mr Nick09 Mon Aug 24, 2020 6:29 am

Nice post! I think the recipe a lot of clubs have it however it’s particularly difficult to find the players that you describe. for example world-class finishers: sometimes you simply cannot buy them, you may need to build them the way Liverpool did with Mané, who at first, was not known as a world-class finisher.

I guess this is where quality scouting comes into play finding those guys who are two footed, have Excellent placement and power in their shooting and thus produce high XG. In this regard even if he doesn’t really have a right foot Haaland is an absolute monster, And the moment is release clause is up it will go to a big club hopefully Madrid.

As for the other points I definitely agree with them I think they are age old recipe of what makes a great football team. Real Madrid did not win so many champions league in 5 years by luck, he pretty much had all the element you described with players who all hit their prime at the same time and are now football legends.
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Post by Thimmy Mon Aug 24, 2020 12:40 pm

I don’t care what anyone on here think, quality scouting trumps the hocus pocus man management that the most popular managers supposedly possess or attain, as soon as their teams become, or sustain success. It’s different for each team, and a lot variables play into what type of players are signed, but the manager seems to always take the brunt of the credit or criticism for it - regardless, of whether or not they got the players they wanted, or if they actually had any part in picking out the specific players.

From what I’ve been told, club budgets often bottleneck a manager’s ability to influence transfer activity, and then fans arbitrarily decide whether or not the manager is responsible for it.

From what I can tell, stability, which has already been pointed out in this thread, seems to be a key factor in creating a successful team in modern football. The right players + stability = sustainable success. Clever schemes and drilling deliberate, complicated plans into teams, seems to have become increasingly substituted by athletic prowess and individualism at the top level.

The likes of Roberto Carlos and Maicon, the bomber fullbacks, were reckless, luxury players that seemed to fit into a niche category of players at one point in time. Even Marcelo, Dani Alves or Ashley Cole were frequently considered to be defensive liabilities, but none of that matters anymore. Attacking fullbacks have become the standard.

Football has become far more offensive-minded. Offensive players have more freedom, more goals are being scored, and people are no longer impressed when a striker scores 20 goals in a season. It’s been a very gradual process, but football has gone through a relatively drastic transformation over the past decade, decade and a half.

In hindsight, it makes me wonder how good the likes of Marcelo, CR7, Dani Alves and Messi would have been today, had they been in their physical primes. I’m convinced that, at least, their defensive shortcomings would’ve been forgiven to a much greater degree than in the past. It just doesn’t matter as much anymore. You no longer need a Nesta or Maldini at the back. A pseudo-striker Ramos or Harry Maguire does the job.
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Post by Jay29 Mon Aug 24, 2020 2:18 pm

The important moments in a game are magnified in any knockout competition because it's a shorter format, so it stands to reason that players who deliver in those moments are super important to be successful. Moreover, knockout competitions are high-stakes affairs. The pressure is unbelievable and weird things can happen. I guess this is the "chaos" Casciavit describes. Players making errors when they normally wouldn't, choking chances they would normally convert, etc.

Because of this, teams that seek to control every element of a game tend not to be as successful as those that can adapt to different scenarios. If you have a 09-11 Barca team you can do it, but not with this City team. The majority of teams who have won the CL this past decade were happy without the ball, happy to play in their own half and soak up pressure, etc. Limit the chances of the opposition and increase the pressure to convert chances even more.

It's this weird quality in football that's difficult to define. Look at Sevilla in the Europa League. If we use Cas' criteria, they fit. Bono was the best keeper, Kounde was a commanding presence in defence, Navas and Reguilon were dynamic full backs, Banega controlled the midfield, and Ocampos/De Jong were killers. But if you asked me before the tournament if this team was all that good, I would have said no. Something about the EL elevated these players' level to become big game players and killers. I mean come on, De Jong was a bum all season but came up with a goal in the semi and two in the final. It's like magic.

Can you buy that? Not for one second do I believe Sevilla brought Ocampos and De Jong because they knew they could score big goals. Can you coach that? Maybe. But for me, the personality of the player and the coach is so important. Players who love the big occasion. Players can learn to enjoy big games, can become hungrier to win, etc. in the right environments. If you play for Sevilla it's impossible not to realise how important the EL is to the club and fans.

The challenge is gaining those qualities. Sometimes it's not obvious where it comes from. Maybe City should spend £100m on a killer striker or a midfield to slow down the tempo, but that player could come from nowhere for peanuts. Look at how cheap Bayern's frontline was. Gnabry was wasting away on loan at West Brom, signed for Bayern for cheap and turned into a 20 goal forward with goals all throughout the CL. PSG spent how much on Neymar and Mbappe? Both flops in the final.

We look at Liverpool signing Allison and Van Dijk, or Madrid singing Ronaldo, and conclude you need big money to sign the elite players. Sometimes that's true, but it's not an exact science.

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Post by El Gunner Tue Aug 25, 2020 1:47 am

nothing surprising really, it's all about balance first and foremost - not only in squad management and player attributes, but player personality and experience as well.

For example that's the reason Arsenal 2006 made it so far, the balance was good and arguably was the best performing team in the competition that season. Good solid goalie in Lehman, defensive leader in Campbell, Toure and Cole were well acclimated players to the team by then. Midfield stability with Gilberto, old experience with Pires (which was takem off after Lehman happened :facepalm: ) vibrant creative talent in Fabregas and Hleb. Experience uptop in Henry and Ljungberg. Henry was supposed to be our killer finisher, and he was up until the final when he turned into prime Higuain.

In hindsight maybe if Fabregas and Hleb had two more seasons under their belt that team would have been perfect.
Of course we were also helped that season by the other great European teams not being as great as they were when Vieira and Bergkamp were in their prime in the early 2000s.
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Post by Casciavit Tue Aug 25, 2020 2:17 am

Mr Nick09 wrote:Nice post! I think the recipe a lot of clubs have it however it’s particularly difficult to find the players that you describe. for example world-class finishers: sometimes you simply cannot buy them, you may need to build them the way Liverpool did with Mané, who at first, was not known as a world-class finisher.

I guess this is where quality scouting comes into play finding those guys who are two footed, have Excellent placement and power in their shooting and thus produce high XG. In this regard even if he doesn’t really have a right foot Haaland is an absolute monster, And the moment is release clause is up it will go to a big club hopefully Madrid.

As for the other points I definitely agree with them I think they are age old recipe of what makes a great football team. Real Madrid did not win so many champions league in 5 years by luck, he pretty much had all the element you described with players who all hit their prime at the same time and are now football legends.

Yeah, I agree with you especially in regards to scouting. There are some players who have those qualities from the moment they come up (Greenwood). There are other players who really didn't have that special of a shot in them, but worked on it relentlessly to make them one of the best shooters (Ronaldo and Coutinho). Ronaldo became a master at shooting from all sorts of angles, while Coutinho is one of the best shooters in the world cutting in from the left.

In cases like those, it comes down to bringing in hard-working players with a good mentality. There are so many tales of Ronaldo during his time at United of being the first to arrive and the last to leave, especially with him working with Rene Meulensteen after training on his finishing.

Nowadays, scouts take in a lot of information before signing players. They talk to people who know the player, to understand the kind of person he is, and then attempt to do their due diligence with the actual qualities on display when they play in a match. It's par for the course really.

As for Haaland, he is going to be the most in-demand CF simply because of that. He's ice-cool in front of the goal. A lot of the big CF's in 2020 are those who were born in the late 80s and came to prominence in the early 2010s. He's probably the first big CF of the new generation. Big, fast, and an amazing shot. Amazing signs.
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Post by Casciavit Tue Aug 25, 2020 2:48 am

Thimmy wrote:I don’t care what anyone on here think, quality scouting trumps the hocus pocus man management that the most popular managers supposedly possess or attain, as soon as their teams become, or sustain success. It’s different for each team, and a lot variables play into what type of players are signed, but the manager seems to always take the brunt of the credit or criticism for it - regardless, of whether or not they got the players they wanted, or if they actually had any part in picking out the specific players.

From what I’ve been told, club budgets often bottleneck a manager’s ability to influence transfer activity, and then fans arbitrarily decide whether or not the manager is responsible for it.

From what I can tell, stability, which has already been pointed out in this thread, seems to be a key factor in creating a successful team in modern football. The right players + stability = sustainable success. Clever schemes and drilling deliberate, complicated plans into teams, seems to have become increasingly substituted by athletic prowess and individualism at the top level.

The likes of Roberto Carlos and Maicon, the bomber fullbacks, were reckless, luxury players that seemed to fit into a niche category of players at one point in time. Even Marcelo, Dani Alves or Ashley Cole were frequently considered to be defensive liabilities, but none of that matters anymore. Attacking fullbacks have become the standard.

Football has become far more offensive-minded. Offensive players have more freedom, more goals are being scored, and people are no longer impressed when a striker scores 20 goals in a season. It’s been a very gradual process, but football has gone through a relatively drastic transformation over the past decade, decade and a half.

In hindsight, it makes me wonder how good the likes of Marcelo, CR7, Dani Alves and Messi would have been today, had they been in their physical primes. I’m convinced that, at least, their defensive shortcomings would’ve been forgiven to a much greater degree than in the past. It just doesn’t matter as much anymore. You no longer need a Nesta or Maldini at the back. A pseudo-striker Ramos or Harry Maguire does the job.

As far as what I know, when it comes to transfer activity, a lot of coaches will tell the directors what the team needs in terms of profiles. For example, if they need a winger, the coach may list 3-5 options, with their first option being their first choice.

Safe to say, a lot of coaches don't actually get their first choice, and some don't even offer the recommendations but rather the scouting department brings up a list of players according to the coach's wants. So you're definitely right.

I agree with you in that we give coaches too much praise or too much criticism when it isn't even them on the pitch. However, I differ when it comes to man-management. It does matter, especially at the bigger clubs. That's the difference between guys like Zidane and Benitez, and Flick and Kovac. Yes, Flick and Zidane won't win the biggest trophies if they didn't have the best players, but their predecessors showed you require more than just great players.

As for the more attacking nature of footballers nowadays, I agree, but I do feel teams do a better job of compensating for their defensive weaknesses. In the 70s they were claiming that the football of the future will involve having attacking players who are capable of performing the same tasks as defenders and vice-versa.

That's what we are seeing play out now. In the past teams were less compact and there was more of an emphasis on individual defending, hence those defenders stood out more at the time, as they didn't get the same level of protection defenses now do. I look at Atletico, and the way they defend, and it's like sometimes their front two are practically occupying the spaces that central midfielders would occupy in the past. Laughing

When it comes to the attacking phase, teams have much better positional play. Essentially the top teams all have someone covering their attacking players' backs. Combined with the increased athleticism of the modern player, in which all 11 are capable of attacking and sustaining pressure, it doesn't surprise me there are more goals now. The tactical level of the game now is the highest it has ever been.
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Post by Casciavit Tue Aug 25, 2020 3:09 am

Jay29 wrote:The important moments in a game are magnified in any knockout competition because it's a shorter format, so it stands to reason that players who deliver in those moments are super important to be successful. Moreover, knockout competitions are high-stakes affairs. The pressure is unbelievable and weird things can happen. I guess this is the "chaos" Casciavit describes. Players making errors when they normally wouldn't, choking chances they would normally convert, etc.

Because of this, teams that seek to control every element of a game tend not to be as successful as those that can adapt to different scenarios. If you have a 09-11 Barca team you can do it, but not with this City team. The majority of teams who have won the CL this past decade were happy without the ball, happy to play in their own half and soak up pressure, etc. Limit the chances of the opposition and increase the pressure to convert chances even more.

It's this weird quality in football that's difficult to define. Look at Sevilla in the Europa League. If we use Cas' criteria, they fit. Bono was the best keeper, Kounde was a commanding presence in defence, Navas and Reguilon were dynamic full backs, Banega controlled the midfield, and Ocampos/De Jong were killers. But if you asked me before the tournament if this team was all that good, I would have said no. Something about the EL elevated these players' level to become big game players and killers. I mean come on, De Jong was a bum all season but came up with a goal in the semi and two in the final. It's like magic.

Can you buy that? Not for one second do I believe Sevilla brought Ocampos and De Jong because they knew they could score big goals. Can you coach that? Maybe. But for me, the personality of the player and the coach is so important. Players who love the big occasion. Players can learn to enjoy big games, can become hungrier to win, etc. in the right environments. If you play for Sevilla it's impossible not to realise how important the EL is to the club and fans.

The challenge is gaining those qualities. Sometimes it's not obvious where it comes from. Maybe City should spend £100m on a killer striker or a midfield to slow down the tempo, but that player could come from nowhere for peanuts. Look at how cheap Bayern's frontline was. Gnabry was wasting away on loan at West Brom, signed for Bayern for cheap and turned into a 20 goal forward with goals all throughout the CL. PSG spent how much on Neymar and Mbappe? Both flops in the final.

We look at Liverpool signing Allison and Van Dijk, or Madrid singing Ronaldo, and conclude you need big money to sign the elite players. Sometimes that's true, but it's not an exact science.

Interesting take regarding Sevilla. You're right that they had the profiles you'd want in knockout competitions, but the quality of the players aren't ones you'd expect to win you those competitions. Last I checked someone like Luuk De Jong had a high xG, but again like you said, I'm not sure too many directors go into those competitions thinking he'll do the job lol.

It's not an exact science. It's hard to measure what it is that makes those guys turn up for those occasions when they don't normally show up at all. The most common theory for that is what you hear from top coaches who resort to phrases like CL DNA or Football heritage. It's the common dig people like to use against teams like City and PSG. How do you define it though? Some people accuse them of not having the same hunger in the competition that the traditional big clubs do, but I wouldn't say teams like PSG and City want it any less than top teams, in fact, they probably put more pressure on themselves to win it than the traditional European top teams do.

Honestly, there's something that I have just thought of now, which could tie in with a lot of things. Have you ever noticed how teams who feel like they have an obligation win the CL never do? I saw it with City this entire season. That was the players' number one goal, and they were speaking about in press conferences non-stop. You see it with Messi and Argentina, Pep and Bayern, Madrid for the longest time with La Decima, Neymar with PSG, and Juve with CL finals.

It seems to me that those players and teams put more pressure on themselves and approach the matches with a different mentality than the teams who win. Perhaps that ties into them making more individual mistakes because of the pressure they face in the CL? This is just something I have thought of right now, what do you think?

As for signing elite players vs scouting. Like I said, signing elite players isn't a guarantee but it's a better bet than scouting. You're right no one could have assumed Gnabry would turn up the way he did. However, if you're a big club and you have money, wouldn't you rather sign someone like Haaland who seems to have that instinct rather than taking a gamble with a lesser-known scouted talent?
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Post by titosantill Tue Aug 25, 2020 3:53 am

aside from having good players, there isnt a set way to win a competition like the champions league. it isnt like league tournaments where one team can outlast another with things like depth and quality for example. its easy to look at past winners and name their best forwards as reasons for them winning. aside for say fc porto and maybe pool in istanbul, that feature (i dont know if i can call it a stat) can be used for every team that's won the tournament, and most sides that have won are the big boys club sides.

quality is needed yes (and not just upfront but midfield and defence), but it doesnt guarantee anything, luck of the bounce, a ref call here and there mistakes can affect that. tbh i really dont think the "trend of the forwards on those teams" says much....like its not a mind boggling or an eye opening trend. not to mention, its not like in the times that said strikers won they were the best. if that's the case messi and suarez should have had barca win it every year except for the last 2

or ronaldo and raul should have had 1 together, or zlatan and messi. not to mention etoo (at inter) drogba wasnt in their primes when they won. that take is way too simplistic i feel
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Post by McAgger Tue Aug 25, 2020 6:21 am

What a great thread. Very interesting discussion.

I would add a few other important steps to Cas’ list.

Step 8: Prime. Having a majority of your starting XI hitting their professional primes at the same time. I think this is a huge one. A sweet spot when a players full physical potential matches their tactical IQ, footballing understanding, and mental fortitude. For every player that may be a different stage or age in their career but generally somewhere between the ages 25-31. Some players are outliers on either side of the spectrum, like Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler whose primes came when they were super young (18-21) where as guys like Lewandowski finally reaching their primes at 31-32. Obviously you can have a mixture of experience in your starting XI like 1 or 2 youngsters or old vets rejuvenated for one final exertion of high quality performance, but the balance has to fall in the direction of majority of the starters being in their primes. Mostly every team that has relied on a majority of super young untested talent (Monaco ’17, Ajax ’19,) or old past their primes players (Barcelona the last few years, Bayern in aged Ribery/Robben era, Inter Milan post Mourinho) have all failed to rediscover European success.

AC Milan of 2007 might come to mind of the last really old team to win, but I checked their starting XI for that season and even that team had a balance of majority of players in their primes. They just happened to be a team with a higher than average number of players whose primes skewed older than average. While also having the luxury of the best player in the world Kaka (25) and the best defender in the world Nesta (31). Pirlo was 27, Gattuso was 29. Seedorf was 31 having arguably the best season of his career. Ambrossini was 29. Gilardino was 25. Dida, Cafu, Inzaghi, Maldini were the four really past it players although Inzaghi and Maldini were turning back the time for one last squeeze of the old bones.


And the next two steps, although they aren’t necessarily steps you can take to actively build them, they are paramount in having European success imo.

Step 9: Game raisers. A certain player catching on fire at an opportune moment. In basketball it’s an actual phenomenon when a players gets streaking hot and it’s literally impossible for them to miss a shot. Klay Thompson is one of the biggest examples of going super sayan in professional sports for a short period of time. We’ve seen this happen in CL as well. Sometimes underperforming players or players you don’t expect to be match winners just have ridiculously hot streaks of over performing in the big stage. I’ll give Divock Origi as an example. The last month of the season for him in 2019 was just ridiculous. Liverpool, for all the things they did right and followed all the steps you mentioned in the OP, they needed Origi to have the month he had in 2019 to be able to win CL.

I think this is something that falls under the category of a great man manager. Pushing players that aren’t so good to play above their means and their capabilities. Klopp has done this. Mourinho has done this. Zidane has done this. Heyneckes has done this. I don’t think you can coach this into a player but I think managers can put their squad players into a proper working environment and mindset to be able to have this kind of a breakout.


Step 10: Luck. Honestly, sometimes when everything else fails, all you need is to get lucky. Whether it’s the luck of the draw or on the field, specially in those important moments deep in the knockout stages. Look at Shevchenko’s 118th minute chance that Dudes saved. No keeper in the history of the world has any right to save that shot from 2 yards out. You can’t even call it a save, Dudek had no idea where the ball was for that rebound. Look at Karius’ mistakes against Madrid. An element of luck is involved in the keeper getting concussed in a bizarre way and having a disaster class performance due to problems with his depth perception. Look at John Terry slipping while taking a decisive 5th penalty for the win. Look at Ribery’s back heel drag that deflects and fortunately falls into the path of the on rushing Robben in the 90th minute of a tied final. If the deflection doesn’t occur the back heel falls to one of the defenders. And there are countless other moments of good fortune that just happened to fall the right way for one of the teams on the night. You really need some luck to win cup competitions.
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Post by Jay29 Tue Aug 25, 2020 12:35 pm

Casciavit wrote:Interesting take regarding Sevilla. You're right that they had the profiles you'd want in knockout competitions, but the quality of the players aren't ones you'd expect to win you those competitions. Last I checked someone like Luuk De Jong had a high xG, but again like you said, I'm not sure too many directors go into those competitions thinking he'll do the job lol.

It's not an exact science. It's hard to measure what it is that makes those guys turn up for those occasions when they don't normally show up at all. The most common theory for that is what you hear from top coaches who resort to phrases like CL DNA or Football heritage. It's the common dig people like to use against teams like City and PSG. How do you define it though? Some people accuse them of not having the same hunger in the competition that the traditional big clubs do, but I wouldn't say teams like PSG and City want it any less than top teams, in fact, they probably put more pressure on themselves to win it than the traditional European top teams do.

Honestly, there's something that I have just thought of now, which could tie in with a lot of things. Have you ever noticed how teams who feel like they have an obligation win the CL never do? I saw it with City this entire season. That was the players' number one goal, and they were speaking about in press conferences non-stop. You see it with Messi and Argentina, Pep and Bayern, Madrid for the longest time with La Decima, Neymar with PSG, and Juve with CL finals.

It seems to me that those players and teams put more pressure on themselves and approach the matches with a different mentality than the teams who win. Perhaps that ties into them making more individual mistakes because of the pressure they face in the CL? This is just something I have thought of right now, what do you think?

As for signing elite players vs scouting. Like I said, signing elite players isn't a guarantee but it's a better bet than scouting. You're right no one could have assumed Gnabry would turn up the way he did. However, if you're a big club and you have money, wouldn't you rather sign someone like Haaland who seems to have that instinct rather than taking a gamble with a lesser-known scouted talent?

It's definitely a factor. Repeated failures can become a major hang-up for teams, who then start deviating from their usual gameplan because they feel they have to do something different to win. Yet every team I've seen win a major tournament had one gameplan and one team selection and rolled with it. It reduces the amount of things you have to think about it and creates familiarity, and that familiarity brings a sense of calm.

I know you've discussed Pep at length, but him changing his line-up and formation for knockout games is a deviation from the norm and therefore disruptive. You can find stories of Bayern and City players being uncertain about what their roles in the team are, what they're supposed to be doing, etc. and having to go to the touchline for guidance. The players have to think about what they're doing instead of playing their natural games and focusing on their performance. Whereas when you go back to his Barca days, it was the same formation, same team and same style of play during his two CL wins.

By contrast, Bayern were very consistent in their set-up and line-up throughout the tournament. Even as pundits questioned their high line, they never changed. Barca scored twice against them and Lyon created good chances but Flick kept the same set-up against PSG. That's not to say there weren't tweaks and adjustments, but he didn't deviate too much from his main gameplan and trusted his team to carry it out.

Of course, it helps massively if your gameplan is good from the start, and you have the right players to execute it. You can certainly argue that Pep does not trust his players to execute his gameplan against tougher opponents, hence his tendency to change things. In which case, he needs to find the right players for it to work. Moreover, sticking to a gameplan throughout a tournament is merely one factor of many. It's not a guarantee of anything, but it can help.

As for how you get those players... if you're hedging your bets in the market, then for sure, signing a Haaland over an unknown is the way to go, assuming you have the resources.

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Post by Thimmy Tue Aug 25, 2020 2:35 pm

Casciavit wrote:

However, I differ when it comes to man-management. It does matter, especially at the bigger clubs. That's the difference between guys like Zidane and Benitez, and Flick and Kovac. Yes, Flick and Zidane won't win the biggest trophies if they didn't have the best players, but their predecessors showed you require more than just great players.


I’m not downplaying the potential influence of great motivational management, or man management, but rather how casually and nonchalantly some people are quick to underline man management as an explanation for why a manager is doing well with his club, when they’ve already concluded that tactics can’t be it.

Is there even a top manager these days, who hasn’t been credited with great man management as the primary reason for their success? I could’ve sworn someone on here told me Klopp was behind the performance level of some of Liverpool’s most outstanding players, and I seemed to be the only one who found that statement baseless and ridiculous. I’d dig up the comment if the search function on GL wasn’t completely useless.

Motivation plays a big part in football, no doubt about it. I even get the impression that it’s something a lot of fans take for granted, or don’t deem as all that substantial. But sometimes the term «man management» seems to include a lot of arbitrary things.

I think it’s a bit silly that, when fans can’t make sense of a manager’s tactics (which I still firmly believe the vast majority of fans overestimate their ability to analyze and judge, considering we’re only capable of seeing it at a surface level) and also aren’t able to pinpoint exactly how the manager is succeeding, they tend to boil it down to this magical talent that seemingly covers everything but tactics. Add some bias to that, and you can turn water into wine Smile
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Post by Casciavit Wed Aug 26, 2020 12:41 am

Don't call me James wrote:What a great thread. Very interesting discussion.

I would add a few other important steps to Cas’ list.

Step 8: Prime. Having a majority of your starting XI hitting their professional primes at the same time. I think this is a huge one. A sweet spot when a players full physical potential matches their tactical IQ, footballing understanding, and mental fortitude. For every player that may be a different stage or age in their career but generally somewhere between the ages 25-31. Some players are outliers on either side of the spectrum, like Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler whose primes came when they were super young (18-21) where as guys like Lewandowski finally reaching their primes at 31-32. Obviously you can have a mixture of experience in your starting XI like 1 or 2 youngsters or old vets rejuvenated for one final exertion of high quality performance, but the balance has to fall in the direction of majority of the starters being in their primes. Mostly every team that has relied on a majority of super young untested talent (Monaco ’17, Ajax ’19,) or old past their primes players (Barcelona the last few years, Bayern in aged Ribery/Robben era, Inter Milan post Mourinho) have all failed to rediscover European success.

AC Milan of 2007 might come to mind of the last really old team to win, but I checked their starting XI for that season and even that team had a balance of majority of players in their primes. They just happened to be a team with a higher than average number of players whose primes skewed older than average. While also having the luxury of the best player in the world Kaka (25) and the best defender in the world Nesta (31). Pirlo was 27, Gattuso was 29. Seedorf was 31 having arguably the best season of his career. Ambrossini was 29. Gilardino was 25. Dida, Cafu, Inzaghi, Maldini were the four really past it players although Inzaghi and Maldini were turning back the time for one last squeeze of the old bones.
 

And the next two steps, although they aren’t necessarily steps you can take to actively build them, they are paramount in having European success imo.

Step 9: Game raisers. A certain player catching on fire at an opportune moment. In basketball it’s an actual phenomenon when a players gets streaking hot and it’s literally impossible for them to miss a shot. Klay Thompson is one of the biggest examples of going super sayan in professional sports for a short period of time. We’ve seen this happen in CL as well. Sometimes underperforming players or players you don’t expect to be match winners just have ridiculously hot streaks of over performing in the big stage. I’ll give Divock Origi as an example. The last month of the season for him in 2019 was just ridiculous. Liverpool, for all the things they did right and followed all the steps you mentioned in the OP, they needed Origi to have the month he had in 2019 to be able to win CL.

I think this is something that falls under the category of a great man manager. Pushing players that aren’t so good to play above their means and their capabilities. Klopp has done this. Mourinho has done this. Zidane has done this. Heyneckes has done this. I don’t think you can coach this into a player but I think managers can put their squad players into a proper working environment and mindset to be able to have this kind of a breakout.  


Step 10: Luck. Honestly, sometimes when everything else fails, all you need is to get lucky. Whether it’s the luck of the draw or on the field, specially in those important moments deep in the knockout stages. Look at Shevchenko’s 118th minute chance that Dudes saved. No keeper in the history of the world has any right to save that shot from 2 yards out. You can’t even call it a save, Dudek had no idea where the ball was for that rebound. Look at Karius’ mistakes against Madrid. An element of luck is involved in the keeper getting concussed in a bizarre way and having a disaster class performance due to problems with his depth perception. Look at John Terry slipping while taking a decisive 5th penalty for the win. Look at Ribery’s back heel drag that deflects and fortunately falls into the path of the on rushing Robben in the 90th minute of a tied final. If the deflection doesn’t occur the back heel falls to one of the defenders. And there are countless other moments of good fortune that just happened to fall the right way for one of the teams on the night. You really need some luck to win cup competitions.


Yup, I agree with you on all those points. Regarding point 8, I mean we've seen young teams make deep runs before, but when was the last time they actually went all the way to win? Was it Ajax in 95? They kind of had the perfect storm of LVG playing the football those youth team players did when they were kids. It's similar to Barca and Pep. That's one of the reasons I've criticized City's transfer market campaigns in the last few years. They buy players like they are in FM. No real experienced stars, but rather young and dynamic players with lots of potential.

Now maybe when their young players approach their primes they'll win everything because they will have developed that experience, but if you're looking to win in the near future, you can't rely on FM-esque transfers.

Regarding point 9, I agree having players hit good form at a specific moment is essential. Another thing I've personally noticed is that teams who put past a big scoreline against a top team before the finals almost always go on to win in the past few years.
Bayern 4-0 Barca 2013
Madrid 4-0 Bayern 2014
Germany 7-1 Brazil 2014
Barca 3-0 Bayern 2015
Madrid 3-0 Atletico 2017
Liverpool 4-0 Barca 2019
Bayern 8-2 Barca 2020

It seems to me those statement victories give these teams a whole newfound level of self-confidence and that momentum carries them all the way. If you notice a team does that place money on them going all the way in the future.

As for step 10, luck makes a big difference. You can have all the tools for CL success and you can have all your players firing at the same time, but if referee decisions go against them or if they make mistakes that they normally don't make, they'll take an L. However that's part of the game. All you can really do to combat that is by trying to put your team in the best situation possible so that they don't have to rely on their key moments being decided by luck.

It'll still happen though. All part of the game.
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Post by Casciavit Wed Aug 26, 2020 12:52 am

Jay29 wrote:

It's definitely a factor. Repeated failures can become a major hang-up for teams, who then start deviating from their usual gameplan because they feel they have to do something different to win. Yet every team I've seen win a major tournament had one gameplan and one team selection and rolled with it. It reduces the amount of things you have to think about it and creates familiarity, and that familiarity brings a sense of calm.

I know you've discussed Pep at length, but him changing his line-up and formation for knockout games is a deviation from the norm and therefore disruptive. You can find stories of Bayern and City players being uncertain about what their roles in the team are, what they're supposed to be doing, etc. and having to go to the touchline for guidance. The players have to think about what they're doing instead of playing their natural games and focusing on their performance. Whereas when you go back to his Barca days, it was the same formation, same team and same style of play during his two CL wins.

By contrast, Bayern were very consistent in their set-up and line-up throughout the tournament. Even as pundits questioned their high line, they never changed. Barca scored twice against them and Lyon created good chances but Flick kept the same set-up against PSG. That's not to say there weren't tweaks and adjustments, but he didn't deviate too much from his main gameplan and trusted his team to carry it out.

Of course, it helps massively if your gameplan is good from the start, and you have the right players to execute it. You can certainly argue that Pep does not trust his players to execute his gameplan against tougher opponents, hence his tendency to change things. In which case, he needs to find the right players for it to work. Moreover, sticking to a gameplan throughout a tournament is merely one factor of many. It's not a guarantee of anything, but it can help.

As for how you get those players... if you're hedging your bets in the market, then for sure, signing a Haaland over an unknown is the way to go, assuming you have the resources.

These new teams who don't have CL DNA play with an entirely different pressure than the teams who do. What you say makes a lot of sense as to why that is. As for Pep, I said very similar things after the game against Lyon. I think it was in the Pep denunciation thread, but I came to the same conclusion as you. His teams aren't really built for CL, and he makes matters worse by tinkering with his tactics beforehand due to his lack of confidence in his own team which has a knock-on effect with everything else that transpires afterward.

I read an article by The Athletic, which was maybe sometime around the game against Madrid, and I think it was Sam Lee who asked Pep's former assistant coaches and the former players on his recent struggles. Their responses mainly came down to sometimes the overtinkering doesn't help the players, but he's also dealt with some bad fortune. It's no surprise that his best CL campaign since leaving Barca was in 2016, and he had a pretty fixed shape and 11, and only had to swap players who were injured.
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Post by Casciavit Wed Aug 26, 2020 1:06 am

Thimmy wrote:
Casciavit wrote:

However, I differ when it comes to man-management. It does matter, especially at the bigger clubs. That's the difference between guys like Zidane and Benitez, and Flick and Kovac. Yes, Flick and Zidane won't win the biggest trophies if they didn't have the best players, but their predecessors showed you require more than just great players.


I’m not downplaying the potential influence of great motivational management, or man management, but rather how casually and nonchalantly some people are quick to underline man management as an explanation for why a manager is doing well with his club, when they’ve already concluded that tactics can’t be it.

Is there even a top manager these days, who hasn’t been credited with great man management as the primary reason for their success? I could’ve sworn someone on here told me Klopp was behind the performance level of some of Liverpool’s most outstanding players, and I seemed to be the only one who found that statement baseless and ridiculous. I’d dig up the comment if the search function on GL wasn’t completely useless.

Motivation plays a big part in football, no doubt about it. I even get the impression that it’s something a lot of fans take for granted, or don’t deem as all that substantial. But sometimes the term «man management» seems to include a lot of arbitrary things.

I think it’s a bit silly that, when fans can’t make sense of a manager’s tactics (which I still firmly believe the vast majority of fans overestimate their ability to analyze and judge, considering we’re only capable of seeing it at a surface level) and also aren’t able to pinpoint exactly how the manager is succeeding, they tend to boil it down to this magical talent that seemingly covers everything but tactics. Add some bias to that, and you can turn water into wine Smile

Laughing

We do tend to use it as a blanket term when defining a coach's success if they don't catch the eye tactically. Obviously, at the highest level, you need to be a good tactician and be good at dealing with players.

However, I can maybe see why those are the narratives that prevail among fans and people in the media. I mean you hear stories about how managers change the cultures at clubs. For every manager, it seems to be a different thing that makes them win over their players. I think that's what I would define as though. The ability to get the players to buy into you. Apparently, Flick was so successful because of how empathetic he was. With Fergie, you hear about how much of a father figure he was to players. When it comes to Klopp you hear about passion and giving players belief.

Players are the ones who contribute to that narrative too. Whenever you ask top players about their opinions on those managers, they tend to gloat about their human side. I mean there are guys like Pep and Conte, and the narrative players give is how much they improved as players, and that helps contribute to their differences in perception. Just my 2 cents.
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Post by Casciavit Wed Aug 26, 2020 1:08 am

El Gunner wrote:nothing surprising really, it's all about balance first and foremost - not only in squad management and player attributes, but player personality and experience as well.

For example that's the reason Arsenal 2006 made it so far, the balance was good and arguably was the best performing team in the competition that season. Good solid goalie in Lehman, defensive leader in Campbell, Toure and Cole were well acclimated players to the team by then. Midfield stability with Gilberto, old experience with Pires (which was takem off after Lehman happened :facepalm: ) vibrant creative talent in Fabregas and Hleb. Experience uptop in Henry and Ljungberg. Henry was supposed to be our killer finisher, and he was up until the final when he turned into prime Higuain.

In hindsight maybe if Fabregas and Hleb had two more seasons under their belt that team would have been perfect.
Of course we were also helped that season by the other great European teams not being as great as they were when Vieira and Bergkamp were in their prime in the early 2000s.


Yeah, sometimes you can have the recipe for a successful European team, and you can be performing well, but luck lets you down in those key moments. I would've liked to see Wenger win a CL. I wonder what he thinks are the reasons he wasn't able to win one. I'm sure he'll probably talk about it in his upcoming book.
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Post by Casciavit Wed Aug 26, 2020 1:25 am

titosantill wrote:aside from having good players, there isnt a set way to win a competition like the champions league. it isnt like league tournaments where one team can outlast another with things like depth and quality for example. its easy to look at past winners and name their best forwards as reasons for them winning. aside for say fc porto and maybe pool in istanbul, that feature (i dont know if i can call it a stat) can be used for every team that's won the tournament, and  most sides that have won are the big boys club sides.

quality is needed yes (and not just upfront but midfield and defence), but it doesnt guarantee anything, luck of the bounce, a ref call here and there mistakes can affect that. tbh i really dont think the "trend of the forwards on those teams" says much....like its not a mind boggling or an eye opening trend. not to mention, its not like in the times that said strikers won they were the best. if that's the case messi and suarez should have had barca win it every year except for the last 2

or ronaldo and raul should have had 1 together, or zlatan and messi. not to mention etoo (at inter) drogba wasnt in their primes when they won. that take is way too simplistic i feel


Of course, there isn't a set way. You can have what I'm saying you should have, and still lose. Will it guarantee you winning the CL? No, nothing can. Will it give you a higher chance? I think so. I'm just judging it based on recent trends that winning teams shared.

Sports are all about copying what's working at the time, so I don't see how you can claim that you can't use winning teams' formulas as examples. Top forwards aren't the only thing I've mentioned winning teams shared, but it's the first and most important step IMO. It's not just based on their names, but the dynamics between them. How the team is set up also counts. There are lots of variables involved. I just believe it's the first thing you should look for if you're looking to win the CL.
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Post by Cruijf Sun May 29, 2022 4:17 am

Something needs to be said about the fact that Ancelotti and Zidane have 7 CLs between them despite seemingly not being very sophisticated tactically, whereas Pep+Klopp+Mourinho+Allegri+Poch+Conte have 5 CLs combined, despite supposedly being the foremost tactical minds of the modern era.

I am increasingly convinced that the formula to CL success is to assemble a team of world class players, keep them happy, and let them win games for you rather than overcomplicating the tactical side.
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Post by Casciavit Sun May 29, 2022 5:14 am

Let's see how many variables applied to the past two winners based on my director checklist in the 2nd post:

Balancer coach: Tuchel and Carlo both played to their team's strengths. One went with a 5-4-1 and sat deep while the other went with an asymmetrical 4-4-2/4-3-3.

Killers: Madrid had Benzema and Rodrygo was also clutch, I think Chelsea was the only team in recent memory who didn't have a clutch player up front. Havertz was pretty cool in front of goal, but I remember Werner missing a fair few chances.

Balanced midfield with controller: Modric/Kroos and Jorginho

Clutch goalie: Courtois and Mendy both made saves you didn't expect them to make

Defensive leader: Chelsea had Thiago Silva. Not sure about Madrid, Militao definitely wasn't. Alaba?

Flying Fullbacks: Chelsea made great use of Reece James and Chilwell, Madrid less so with their wingbacks.

Depth/impact subs: Chelsea relied on guys like Pulisic, Ziyech, or Giroud to change the game for them. Madrid relied on guys like Camavinga and Rodrygo.
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Post by Casciavit Sun May 29, 2022 5:38 am

Cruijf wrote:Something needs to be said about the fact that Ancelotti and Zidane have 7 CLs between them despite seemingly not being very sophisticated tactically, whereas Pep+Klopp+Mourinho+Allegri+Poch+Conte have 5 CLs combined, despite supposedly being the foremost tactical minds of the modern era.

I am increasingly convinced that the formula to CL success is to assemble a team of world class players, keep them happy, and let them win games for you rather than overcomplicating the tactical side.


Ancelotti and Zidane don't give too many attacking instructions preferring to let the players make their own decisions. This is useful in the CL because due to the chaos and variance of knockout matches you need to rely on individual ingenuity more than set patterns or systems.

Fine margins make all the difference that's why it is imperative to have clutch players upfront and to have a goalie who makes saves you don't normally expect. You essentially need to outperform your own xG and have a goalie outperform his xGA.

Then it's about having players who can deal with the chaotic tempo of these matches. Madrid are masters at dealing with the game state. Benzema never loses the ball when he holds it up. Modric doesn't lose the ball when 2-3 players surround him. Kroos doesn't misplace his passes and knows when to speed the game up and when to slow it down. Their technical security prevents them from being put under sustained pressure, so they'll always have chances.

Then when they get those chances they had Benz/Ronaldo/Bale scoring them, and when the opposition got their own chances you had Navas/Courtois making miraculous saves. They didn't make individual blunders defensively because they didn't play in a way that makes them prone to doing so.

It was a tactical framework that wasn't too complicated and given the players they had it didn't need to be. Ancelotti this season played to their strengths. He played Valverde as a shuttler on the wing to give more legs to their aging midfield. He played Vinicius higher up the pitch to act as an outlet to relieve pressure. They weren't pressing high until the younger kids came on. They weren't defending high or building from the back against teams who press aggressively on the front foot. You need to prioritize balance and play to your team’s strengths in this competition.

Ultimately Madrid built a team in the last decade that was suited for CL success. They had world-class players who weren't chokers and knew how to deal with the pressure of playing in the CL. Coping with that pressure comes down to their own individual talents, the coaching, and the mentality needed to play for a team like Madrid.
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Post by BarcaLearning Sun May 29, 2022 7:33 am

Real mostly defend reasonably well, work hard in midfield, n just be fast n direct when they attack. Obviously they have incredible form on top players like Benzema, Vini, Modric all season. Ffs they almost feel like doing the opposite of what Pep does n it proves to work XD
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Post by Thimmy Sun May 29, 2022 12:00 pm

Cruijf wrote:Something needs to be said about the fact that Ancelotti and Zidane have 7 CLs between them despite seemingly not being very sophisticated tactically, whereas Pep+Klopp+Mourinho+Allegri+Poch+Conte have 5 CLs combined, despite supposedly being the foremost tactical minds of the modern era.

I am increasingly convinced that the formula to CL success is to assemble a team of world class players, keep them happy, and let them win games for you rather than overcomplicating the tactical side.


I've had this impression for many years now. I know I'm more pragmatic than the majority of our GL members, and I feel like the seemingly sustainable amount of so-called "luck" we had under Zidane had to have some explanation that you can't find by jumping to the most convenient conclusions.

I recall most of the RM section claiming it had to do with motivation. Sports believed it had to do with tactical pragmatism. Maybe both approaches had something to do with it, for all I know, but those explanations don't seem satisfactory to me at all. If it was a result of Zidane's tactics, that certainly wasn't something that was evident simply by analyzing matches.

This strange ability to score late winners and keep our calm whenever we concede one or multiple goals against opposition of any quality, has been present in the team since we won our first trophy with this core of players.

One thing I've definitely noticed with our team, in contrast to Man United, who are the other team I've watched the most during our period of success, is that regardless of how poorly we play, we've never looked as disjointed as they do. I assume team composition is the explanation behind that. Aside from our historically poor transfer business in acquiring Eden Hazard, who's hardly even played for us, we've kept a relatively low profile in the transfer market ever since Mourinho left us, and we still seem to be squeezing every last bit of juice out of the veterans we have left from this successful period.

Both Kroos and Modric look like they're running on fumes in so many of our matches these days. Carvajal has also lost a lot of his prior explosiveness, and is generally less impactful in both offense and defense. It was the same for Marcelo before he was eventually reduced to a bench role. I think it makes sense by watching them to conclude that it may be time to move on from this core of players that are living, club legends by now, but our recent history shows that their decline doesn't seem to affect our ability to win. If anything, they're always present when we do.
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Post by El Gunner Sun May 29, 2022 12:42 pm

the balanced team theory is a reasonably-minded conclusion of course, but i'm more convinced it's about having the clutch strikers that can get you the goals when needed in tight games.

some of the names in the 2000s and 2010s that come to mind:
Raul
Shevchenko
Inzaghi
Rooney
Eto'o
Messi
Drogba
Robben/Ribery
Ronaldo
MSN
Salah
Lewandowski
Benzema

there are a few odd one out years, like Chelsea last season. But really you need that talisman that wins you the game upfront.
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Post by Lord Spencer Sun May 29, 2022 1:08 pm

El Gunner wrote:the balanced team theory is a reasonably-minded conclusion of course, but i'm more convinced it's about having the clutch strikers that can get you the goals when needed in tight games.

some of the names in the 2000s and 2010s that come to mind:
Raul
Shevchenko
Inzaghi
Rooney
Eto'o
Messi
Drogba
Robben/Ribery
Ronaldo
MSN
Salah
Lewandowski
Benzema

there are a few odd one out years, like Chelsea last season. But really you need that talisman that wins you the game upfront.


You are missing Diego Millito from that list.
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