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Revving up for Russia - International March Friendlies

Discussion in 'Breakfast with Gazza (with Sachmoneious Bullcrap)' started by Zososoxfan, Mar 19, 2018.

  1. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    This is the final international break before this summer's world cup, so most national teams are playing a pair of matches as a final tune-up. There will certainly be things to look for and this can serve as a match-thread too. Schedule for WC teams as follows:

    3/22
    Denmark v. Panama

    3/23
    Japan v. Mali
    Russia v. Brazil
    Senegal v. Uzbekistan
    Australia v. Norway
    Tunisia v. Iran
    Switzerland v. Greece
    Saudi Arabia v. Ukraine
    Serbia v. Morocco
    Argentina v. Italy (which will feature a gesticulations faceoff post-match)
    Germany v. Spain
    England v. Holland
    Poland v. Nigeria
    Portugal v. Egypt
    France v. Colombia for the title of best cafe
    Peru v. Croatia
    Mexico v. Iceland

    3/24
    South Korea v. Northern Ireland in the battle of directional nations
    Sweden v. Chile

    3/26

    Portugal v. Holland

    3/27
    Japan v. Ukraine
    Russia v. France
    Nigeria v. Serbia
    Iran v. Algeria
    Switzerland v. Panama
    Denmark v. Chile
    Egypt v. Greece for the title of champions of Ancient History
    Senegal v. Bosnia and Hertz O' Go Vina
    Sweden v. Romania
    Belgium v. Saudi Arabia
    Germany v. Brazil
    Poland v. South Korea
    Colombia v. Aussies
    England v. Italy
    Morocco v. Uzbekistan
    Tunisia v. Costa Rica
    Spain v. Argentina
    Iceland v. Peru
    Mexico v. King's Landing
     
  2. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    With respect to Argentina, this is the squad that Don Sampa called:

    Keepers - Romero (Man U), Guzman (UANL), Caballero (!) (Chelsea)

    Defenders - Rojo (Man U), Funes Mori (Everton), Fazio (Roma), Otamendi (Citeh), Acuna (Sporting), Salvio (Benfica) (but who has since been taken out of the squad due to injury), Tagliafico (Ajax), Mercado (Sevilla), Bustos (Independiente)

    Midfield - Mascherano (Hebei), Paredes (Zenit), Lanzini (West Ham), Lo Celso (PSG), Biglia (Milan), Banega (Sevilla), Di Maria (PSG), Perez (Boca), Meza (Independiente)

    Forwards - Higuain (Juve), Messi (Barca), Aguero (Citeh), Perotti (Roma), Correa (Atleti), Pavon (Boca), Martinez (Inter as of like yesterday)

    Notable omissions - Rulli (GK, Sociedad), Mammana (Zenit), Kranevitter (Zenit), Rigoni (Zenit), Pastore (PSG), Dybala (Juve), Icardi (Inter), Correa (Sevilla), Lamela (Spurs), Alario (Leverkusen)

    This team is best understood from the forwards backwards. Obviously Messi is the focal point, but the traditional problem with Messi on the NT is that he is tasked with doing everything. There hasn't been a creator of enough quality to get him into advanced positions, so Messi needs to initiate the offense from a midfield that typically cannot make incisive passes. And despite having strikers of international quality (Aguero, Higuain, etc.), they still seem to have issues getting on the end of Messi's combination play. This is why I'm a bit saddened that Dybala, J. Correa, Lamela, and Alario aren't in the squad. We and Don Sampa should be familiar with what Di Maria, Higuain, and Aguero bring to the table. Dybala is the most creative and talented player that Messi has played with on the NT since Aimar/Riquelme/Crespo in 2006. I know that they tend to overlap in position a bit, but I would try and get them both on the field and build the team around BOTH of them. Dybala took a beating in the press for saying playing with Messi is hard, but I very much agree. Messi is unlike any player I've ever seen in that he sees and creates angles that no other player does and he has been in Barcelona for so long that when he is taken out of that context it requires some adjustment.

    Lamela is a binky of mine as a Spurs fan, but he is also a versatile hard working player, which is incredibly valuable around WC time. J. Correa is similar. I think Higuain is probably scarred from his performances on the NT (I know I am), so I wouldn't let him anywhere near this team. Aguero has always been a beast in EPL, but his form definitely dips on NT duty. Di Maria is a good player and probably a good fit for a pressing outfit like Don Sampa envisions, but I would be more interested in giving the younger guys some run. Another couple of oldsters I've seen enough of are Banega and Biglia. Biglia is a slightly above average traditional DMF destroyer. His passing is OK and not at all incisive. UCL performances notwithstanding, I think he should be replaced by Lo Celso who has shown the mettle at PSG, but with much better forward passing. Banega has probably filled the hardest role on this squad at CMF but he hasn't excelled at it despite playing in the same role at Sevilla. He is fulcrum on which the team is balanced, so he has to pick his spots to get forward. At Sevilla, he gets more lattitude to do this and gets more opportunities. But in the conservative international game, he only gets a few chances a game and doesn't take them enough for my liking.

    At the back, Otamendi is the most talented player and has done fairly well other than during Bauza's ignominious tenure. He will likely be setup in the middle alongside Masche, although Funes Mori, Fazio, and Mammana are all capable players as well. Gabi Mercado is an excellent FB, but without another on the other side, the squad lacks L/R balance. When he's on his game, Rojo is a real asset since he can play a stay at home FB or CB capably. My Man U friends hate him, but he has been solid for Argentina NT.

    In net, Romero has been a rock for many many years. It's truly unfortunate IMO that he got stuck behind De Gea because he is a very solid keeper. I was surprised Rulli wasn't called since I considered him a real player for the future.

    Don Sampa is a very good international manager. He took Chile's golden era of players to trophies and cohesive play. During his brief tenure so far, you can see Sampa trying to get Argentina to play his aggressive press but it's still been a work in progress. The beauty of Sampa's system is that it generates offense via turnovers in the offensive third. Thus negating Argentina's offensive weakness of getting Messi the ball in dangerous areas. Sampa has usually used a 3-3-3-1 formation and those middle 6 players will have to work a ton since Messi likely won't participate in the press and they will need to be his fellow attackers. But again, I think the key for Argentina is getting Dybala and Messi on the field at the same time without sacrificing offensive width to keep the defense honest and stretched. And since Dybala and Messi are both not deep strikers, you likely need one ahead of them.

    So, a 3-4-2-1 (3-4-3) or an aggressive 4-3-2-1 (4-3-3) is what the day calls for. Let Messi and Dybala both work behind a striker. You need two midfielders on either side to provide width (take your pick among Di Maria, Lamela, A. Correa, J. Correa) and help protect the defense, and then decide whether you want one or two pivots in the midfield. In either setup, the 3 or 4 defenders are total stay at homes. Against teams with dangerous wingers, I'd go xmas tree (4-3-2-1) and against teams with more creative midfields I'd go with the Spurs special - 3-4-2-1 (again, more like 3-4-3) so that the center of the pitch gets clogged up and the ball gets forced outside.
     
  3. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    After a bruising first half against Russia, Brazil got it together and put up 3 against the Ruskes. Willian is a dangerman every time he touches the ball. Paulinho was his inexhaustible self and always gets opportunities as the late man to join the attack. Alves and Marcelo are world class fullbacks. Casemiro really takes control of this team in the middle. Jesus is a real weapon up top. Oh, Coutinho is pretty good. Firmino came on as a capable sub. Did I mention Neymar sat out injured? S. T. A. C. K. E. D.
     
  4. Morgan's Magic Snowplow

    Morgan's Magic Snowplow Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    For a friendly, Spain-Germany is a pretty cracking match so far. Both sides clearly see this as a prime opportunity to test themselves against superior competition.
     
  5. 67YAZ

    67YAZ Member SoSH Member

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    The Casemiro-Paulinho midfield pair is what sets this version of Brazil apart from other recent vintages. If they stay healthy through tournament, this team will be an almost impossible out.
     
  6. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    The defense looked pretty sloppy against Russia. Then again, attacking Brazil also means opening yourself up a bit and they can carve up a defense right quick.
     
  7. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    Argentina had a solid Mess-less 2-0 win over Italy. Notes below:
    • Generally speaking, Argentina played well. They are starting to use Sampa's press effectively and they created some chances on turnovers in the attacking third. They were able to possess in the midfield and the back and generally controlled the pace of the match. The defense did have some nervy moments, especially when Italy got in behind the FBs, but overall pleased with the performance in light of no Messi and where this squad has been over the past two years.
    • Lanzini had an excellent match and likely is on the squad. He played the role I envisioned for Lamela (who I still hope gets selected although it's not likely) by pitching in defensively in midfield, working hard, providing incisive passing in attack, and combining with other attackers.
    • Di Maria was a bit wasteful, but was also threatening during his ~65'. Took on defenders repeatedly and had a fair amount of success.
    • Lo Celso was good but unspectacular. Helped control the midfield and possess and was involved in some good attacks. A good player to be in rotation for the tournament.
    • Higuaín was awful per usual and looks to be too slow to be in a pressing Sampa squad. I can only hope that Sampa sees more value in bringing in one of Argentina's other attacking options (Lamela, Alario, J. Correa, even Icardi) than this guy.
    • I really hope Sampa considers bringing Dybala to Russia. I get that he's one of those players that's struggled with his system so far, but there's no one who can replicate his skillset and it's too valuable to leave at home.
    • Tagliafico looked excellent in his role at LB. If Argentina can play a 4-2-3-1 with attacking FBs (Mercado is very good on the other side), it will go a long way to giving them balance. I wonder if we see Acuna or Rojo get a chance in the second match.
    • Everything I read continues to praise the unspectacular play of Biglia, but I'm not convinced he offers anything that, say Kranevitter, couldn't do. But, I may try and watch him more closely.
    • Banega came in as a sub and had one of the best matches in the NT shirt I can remember. He showed what he can do and probably left an impression on Sampa. Almost certainly has a spot on the team flight to Russia.
    • Paredes was OK and had a horrible gaff. I'm guessing he's not on the roster come summer.
    • Bustos was OK but not outstanding. Unclear if he will make the roster.
    • Otamendi looks settled as the defensive line leader. Fazio had a good match next to him.
    • Caballero had an excellent game and gives this team good depth behind Romero.
    • I'm a total homer for Rojo but at the least he likely has a roster spot for inside-outside defensive versatility. I hope he gets a run in the Spain match.
    • Perrotti only had a few minutes and I hope to see him more on Tuesday.
     
  8. Morgan's Magic Snowplow

    Morgan's Magic Snowplow Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    We'll see. They have lots of talent but not meaningfully more than France, Spain, or Germany. Brazil has stunk up the joint in international competitions since the 2014 WC semis, consistently less than the sum of their parts. Might they turn it around under Tite and win this summer? Definitely possible. But I wouldn't start making them favorites, especially for a competition in Russia.
     
  9. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    France-Russia just getting under way. France going with a strong lineup led by a front line of Martial-Mbappe-Dembele and a MF of Kante-Rabiot-Pogba, DLine of Lucas Hernandez-Umtiti-Kos-Pavard with Lloris in net. Pogba looks out of touch in the early going and a bit disinterested. I'm intrigued by the front line but will be interested to see how France attack the middle. Those strikers seem a bit redundant to me, even though I'd rather have those 3 out there than Giroud. Griezmann is the real surprise being left out.
     
  10. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    Looks like Mbappe will be the center man for now. Russia with a high quality chance in the box forcing an excellent save from Lloris. Russian attacker (Smolov) should've done better.
     
  11. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    Rabiot may be a better player than Pogba right now. Hard to believe considering how well Pogba was playing for Juve not long ago.
     
  12. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    Nice buildup by France leads to a point blank range shot from Mbappe but the keeper makes an excellent save. France is really having trouble possessing in MF with only Rabiot consistently sure-footed.
     
  13. teddykgb

    teddykgb Member SoSH Member

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    Mbappe is so good. Selfishly, it's such a shame he chose to stay in France.
     
  14. 67YAZ

    67YAZ Member SoSH Member

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    Who’s making them favorites? Germany enters this tournament as the #1. But given how impressively Brazil qualified, they have to be #2*. And my point is that instead of trotting out Luis Gustavo to pair with Fernandinho, Casemiro & Paulinho are both playing at a world class level right now. Opponents will be left with an tactical conundrum - how do they stay solid in solid in the midfield while also trying to get effective attacking width? It’s a tall order.

    *Pending Neymar’s injury and other key players staying healthy.
     
  15. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    I agree that Brazil are favorites. They have a complete team full of world class players and that extends to the bench in certain positions (e.g. striker, RB, keeper).

    I think Germany may struggle to generate offense without a central player. Sane and Muller are both dangerous on the wings, but they will need someone to get on the end of moves and Podolski is 32 and Werner is 22. Ozil has been more effective in a NT shirt, but unless Low puts a lot of faith in Werner, I think Germany will struggle to score. That being said, they are so solid at the back that they can afford to push numbers forward and that may be enough for Kroos, Ozil, et al. to create offense.

    France are incredibly stacked but they need to figure out how to create a cohesive offense out of Mbappe, Dembele, Martial, Griezmann, Giroud, and Coman. Even if they figure that out, they are going to rely heavily on Pogba in the middle because while Rabiot and Kante are excellent, Sissoko is the only depth in the MF I would trust. Although I admit I don't know Lemar well.

    Spain have a strong midfield and a solid defense (although old in the middle), but I think they also may struggle to generate offense.

    Argentina, I've already written about extensively.

    Belgium is the other favorite. They have tons of firepower and some very capable midfielders and defenders. Fairly or not, their performance will be a referendum on the quality of EPL since almost all of their internationals ply their trade there.

    England also have a better attacking squad than usual, but I think their defense is shaky, and until they show some tactical acumen on the international stage (2012 Eurocup or 2010 WC was last notably good performance IIRC), they will not get the benefit of the doubt.
     
  16. Morgan's Magic Snowplow

    Morgan's Magic Snowplow Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    You said they'd be an "almost impossible out" if they're healthy, which sounded like you were making them favorites.

    I don't think a Casemiro-Paulinho midfield is quite as impressive as you're making it out to be. Casemiro is a really good defensive midfielder but playing alongside Modric and Kroos means he doesn't have too many responsibilities for making the team tick. Paulinho has had a good season for Barcelona but likewise benefits greatly from the team around him and has had a pretty undistinguished career until this year, having failed to make an impression at Spurs and then taken up exile in China for two seasons. That pairing seems like a solid defensive midfield that will provide lots of energy but could have big troubles keeping possession and directing the build up, especially against teams like Spain and Germany that have much stronger technical players in midfield.
     
  17. BrazilianSoxFan

    BrazilianSoxFan Member SoSH Member

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    I imagine that today's results will put a tiny little bit of pressure on Argentina and Sampaoli, while Brazil removes a giant monkey from our backs.
     
  18. 67YAZ

    67YAZ Member SoSH Member

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    Great point. Maybe the Germans should bring back Schweinsteiger. That guy did it all for the Fire last season.
     
  19. Morgan's Magic Snowplow

    Morgan's Magic Snowplow Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    I guess you’re trying to be funny. But Germany has a ton of talent in midfield with Kroos, Gundogan, Khedira, and Weigl. Much stronger passers and possession oriented midfielders than Brazil.
     
  20. 67YAZ

    67YAZ Member SoSH Member

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    Which is one of the reasons Germany is favored to repeat.

    Your argument against Casemiro is that he doesn’t do the jobs of his world class teammates. And the knock on Paulinho is that he was not as good in the past. Hard to argue against scouting like that.

    We should all be so lucky as to see various combinations of Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Belgium, Spain, and France face off in the knock out stages. Give me them plus Mexico and Egypt in the quarterfinals and I’ll be tickled.
     
  21. Morgan's Magic Snowplow

    Morgan's Magic Snowplow Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    Do you need to act like such a asshole? I pointed out that Casemiro is a very good defensive midfielder but also a somewhat limited player and that Paulinho has a long track record of not being all that good and that his form this year is probably largely a mirage. If you don't agree, make an actual argument in response.

    I agree with that and would add England to the mix. I know we're all supposed to laugh at the notion of England competing with the big boys on the world stage but I think they will have their best team in a long while as long as Kane comes back completely healthy - probably the best talent since 2006 but perhaps the best team since 1990, as that 2006 side was horribly put together.
     
  22. 67YAZ

    67YAZ Member SoSH Member

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    Sounds like a loaded question.

    You underrate Casemiro's talent on the ball. Peeking at WhoScored, in 23 La Liga games, Casemiro is attempting 57.8 passes per and connecting on 88% of those. 4.7 are long balls and .9 are key passes, so these aren't all safe lateral touches. He's also picked up 3 assists and 5 goals on the year.

    Casemiro hardly ever takes off on a dribble, but does get fouled almost 3 times per game. From watching, I know he will get caught out and disposed about once a game - he can be over confident. But he's very good with the ball at his feet in addition to being a world class defensive mid.

    As for Paulinho - if you think it's a mirage, then what's there to argue?
     
  23. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    England does have a better attack than usual, but they also seem more vulnerable in the back than usual too. They likely can overcome this by being one of the fittest squads as is their MO. Looking over their squad, I do wonder who will be the central MF(s) to transition to attack. Once the ball gets to Sterling, Alli, Kane, Rashford, Vardy, etc. they should be fine. But, Dier isn't making incisive passes in the MF. Are they going to put the onus on Ox? Lallana is probably the best bet, but I haven't seen much of him this year. Barkley has not delivered on big expectations for Everton.
     
  24. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    I agree with @67YAZ here. Casemiro is a total package and for a WC, I don't know there's a better DMF to have. He is super strong and can fill all the duties of a traditional destroyer. But he has the skill and passing chops to be a modern MF. Kroos and Modric make him better sure, but he also allows them to flourish too. His biggest flaw is that he's prone to horrible tackles and stupid decisions. These things tend to get magnified at WC, so I'd expect desperate teams to try and get under his skin.

    As for Paulinho, I think @Morgan's Magic Snowplow is selling him short too. He may be a system player, but at both Barca and Brazil he is in an excellent system. Paulinho's value lies in his versatility and workrate. Early in the Barca season he was a huge asset because he would play in all 3 lines - he would track all the way back and help on defense, he's a strong tackler and defender in MF, and his late runs into the box in attack really unsettle defenses. Does he have the silkiest touch? No, but this is WC where the matches often get bogged down and managers have to carefully decide how to balance their formations. Paulinho allows Tite the luxury of not having to make difficult decisions.
     
  25. Morgan's Magic Snowplow

    Morgan's Magic Snowplow Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    In addition to the attacking talent, I think the best thing about this England squad is that most of the starting XI can be taken from three teams (City, Spurs, Liverpool) with tactically progressive managers that play relatively similar styles. Of course, Southgate may still fuck it up by asking them to play a completely alienation formation and tactics. But in the abstract at least you could play a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 system with Kane at CF, Dier and Wilshere in CM, and some combination of Sterling, Lallana, Dele, and Rashford in the other three more advanced roles. I think you're right that they are weak in central midfield. Wilshere has played well this year and he's still really the only player that can bring some class on the ball to that group. But they could play a really cohesive high pressure style, which most international sides just can't manage because they've got 11 guys from seven different clubs used to six different systems.

    Casemiro is a great player in my opinion, well rounded for a DM and hugely important to the Madrid side. But I wouldn't underestimate how much he benefits from playing alongside Kroos and Modric. If other teams press Brazil high up the pitch, do you want Casemiro to be the guy responsible for picking up the ball from the CBs with his back to the defense, operating in tight spaces against a high press, and figuring out how to engineer the build up in situations in which one mistake could be fatal? I don't think he is that kind of player and I don't think Brazil has that kind of player, which is probably their biggest weakness. It won't matter against weak teams that will just sit back and it won't matter against poorly managed teams that aren't cohesive enough to actually pressure them well (which describes basically every South American side they rolled through in qualifying). But against the better sides that have the players and experience to do this kind of thing - it was amazing even in the recent Germany-Spain friendly how much each side pressed and really fought tactically to control the match in midfield - then I think central midfield will be a weakness rather than a strength for Brazil. If they're going to win the tournament - and they might - its going to be because they have dynamic attackers and experienced defenders.
     
    #25 Morgan's Magic Snowplow, Mar 28, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2018
  26. Zomp

    Zomp Turkey Virgin Dope

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    Hasn't Lingard played well for England recently? I haven't watched any of their games recently. All I know is they've been playing 3 at the back.
     
  27. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    I think your point re: England is excellent - pulling mostly from 3 clubs that all play aggressive, pressing, attacking football will definitely help get these guys on the same page. Very much up to Southgate to recognize this strength, the team weaknesses, and put forth tactics accordingly.

    Your point about Casemiro is fair - I wouldn't want him under pressure receiving balls from CBs and asking him to turn it into offense. However, I think there are two counterpoints that outweigh this line of thinking. First, Casemiro can easily be bypassed. I may not trust Casemiro to get out of pressure, but I trust Marcelo, Alves, Coutinho, Willian, Neymar, Douglas, Luis, Sandro, etc. to accomplish that. If the opposition wants to shut down Casemiro as the engine for the team, I really don't think that's an issue and really, I'd rather have Casemiro initiate the offense if I'm playing Brazil rather than Marcelo or any other FB. Can't pressure everywhere, unless you want to get skinned repeatedly by Brazil's ridiculous wingers.

    Second, I think you're asking far too much of the position. What you've basically said is that every DMF not named Sergio Busquets isn't world class. It may be that Busquets is in a class of his own, but what he offers in possession and forward passing he likely gives up a bit in defense. I trust Casemiro with the ball more than someone like Eric Dier. Casemiro is likely on par with Khedira, Kante, Biglia, or Fellaini. I'd probably put Moussa Dembele ahead of that group in terms of incisive passing, but the rest are on a spectrum of 'never lose the ball badly' and 'good offensive passing'. Biglia for example, is probably a bit less error prone, but also provides nothing more than decent possession-based passing in MF. Fellaini probably offers a bit more than Casemiro going forward, but he really hasn't played as a DMF for Mourinho at United. He's probably well-suited for it alongside Dembele for Belgium to let KDB and the forwards handle the attack. But, to argue semantics some, I consider Busquets, Kante, Casemiro, and Dembele all world class, and the others as elite (save Fellaini who is a unique case).
     
  28. Morgan's Magic Snowplow

    Morgan's Magic Snowplow Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    I agree with these points about Casemiro. Its unrealistic to ask him to be something he's not and he is a great player for Madrid in the role he occupies. The broader point is that Brazil doesn't have other ball playing technical midfielders to play alongside him so he may be thrust into a role for which he is not well suited. Brazil still has a great team and lots of strength in other positions (although I'm not convinced by their CBs) but against top sides I think they are going to lose the midfield battle and have trouble controlling matches. This has been a major weakness of Brazil for a while now - for whatever reason, the country produces a ton of quick technically gifted attackers and not a lot of quick technically gifted and tactically astute midfielders.
     
  29. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    The answer for Tite is probably convincing Coutinho to drop a bit deeper than normal and be a possession-based MF. He's not as dangerous up front as Willian, Ney, or Costa and his familiarity with Paulinho likely gets the most of out them both. A midfield of Casemiro Paulinho and Coutinho is technically gifted enough to move the ball to the insane front line (seriously, how do you defend Willian, Jesus, and Neymar??) and able to hold the ball reasonably well. As a Barca fan, it would actually accelerate Coutinho's learning curve to becoming the next Iniesta. Coutinho is going to have to realize sooner or later that he is not going to always be played as the inverted left winger he was at Liverpool. With Suarez, Dembele, Griezmann, and Messi next season, Coutinho is going to have real defensive responsibilities to help in the MF.
     
  30. OilCanShotTupac

    OilCanShotTupac Sunny von Bulow Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    Barkley's not going to sniff the pitch in Russia and I doubt he even makes the squad. He was already teetering on the edge of going from "prospect" to "bust" at Everton, and then he got hurt and pawned off to Chelsea, where he can't crack the lineup. Add in his reputation as a gloomy Gus and head-case. Not happening.
     
  31. Tangled Up In Red

    Tangled Up In Red Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    (Caveat: Spurs supporter) I consider Mousa Dembele world class and terribly underrated. I see him as more of a CM (8) than a straight CDM. I'd also take a little issue with calling his passing 'incisive'. He is other-worldly at carrying the ball past players, linking defense to offense, but his passing leaves a fair amount to be desired, particularly in the attacking third. As at Spurs, with Dier, for Belgium he'd be best paired with a more traditional DM (6)... not that I know who that is.
     
  32. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    Fellow Spurs fan here - you are absolutely correct about Dembele's passing abilities. I guess we have touched upon the 3 levels of midfield passing play. The most basic and important for a DMF is what I would call defensive or possession-based passing. To use an example, I consider Biglia to have this skill (but lacking the two forthcoming passing skills). The second passing skill is what you're describing with Dembele - it's still possession-based (in that a turnover is brutal) but it moves the ball forward as opposed to laterally or backwards, thus helping the team transition from defense to offense. Finally, there is incisive passing (a universal term compared to the previous 2) which typically takes place in the final third and involves bypassing defenders. The only DMF I can think of that has that skill is Busquets.

    For Belgium, I'd probably use Dembele as a true DMF and pair him with Nainggolan who provides a lot of defensive help. Fellaini is probably in the conversation, but I don't think he starts ahead of Dembele or Nainggolan. Hazard, Lukaku, and KDB are auto-starts so there's really only one more spot to fill (assuming 4 at the back). There are other good attacking options (Origi, Mertens, etc.) but I think that leaves them thin in the MF or Martinez is asking KDB to play more defense than he should. Carrasco would fit this role pretty well, but I have no idea how he is doing in China (same goes for Witsel). I wonder about Chadli, Defour, or Januzaj.
     
  33. 67YAZ

    67YAZ Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    1,118
    Coutinho has significant defensive responsibilities under Klopp. Before Salah's arrival, there was a real tension. There were times when Coutinho was criticized for dropping too deep and other times for tracking back enough. Really that was about finding problems with the squad the first couple seasons under Klopp when it seemed impossible to get around parked buses. But with Salah in the fold, Coutinho played much more fluidly going back and and forth. Getting to tuck in behind Neymar-Jesus-Willian should provide similar freedom.

    The question, though, is if that duty is central or out to the wing. For Liverpool, it was on the left wing. With Alves somehow still playing at a World Class-level and Marcelo on the opposite side, there's good reason to bring Countinho more central. But will he be able to adjust and play freely there? He certainly can, but will Tite make it work?
     
  34. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,382
    Really disappointing news regarding Fox coverage of the WC. Only 4/12 commentators will be in Russia for the games. BeIn Sports does this shit and the product really suffers as a result. As the article says, kinda surprising considering this is the biggest sporting event in the world and this is Fox's first crack at it.

    https://deadspin.com/fox-sports-is-half-assing-the-world-cup-1825544146
     

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