In 1974 Muhammad Ali fought George Foreman for the Heavyweight Championship of the World. Throughout the bout Ali hung on the ropes, covering up, defending and soaking up the punishment being dealt out by the favourite. When Foreman inevitably tired, Ali took advantage and won the title. Ali called it his Rope-a-Dope method.
Last night Arsenal emulated the great Ali.
Bayern came to play Tika Taka, a style of football developed at Barcelona under Bayern’s manager Pep Guardiola. They dominated possession, they dominated passing, they dominated territory. Arsenal defended, as the first half went on Arsenal defended deeper and deeper, Cech pulled off some terrific saves. It was not all one way however, Arsenal attacked on the counter and it was Neuer who pulled off a great save to scoop Theo Walcott’s close range header off the line. Still Bayern created the intricate passing patterns but the didn’t score.
The second half was a repeat of the first, Bayern keeping the ball for long periods, racking up the pass count but being unable to break down Arsenal’s resolute team defending. Eventually the Bayern players began to tire and the inevitable happened. Santi Cazorla swung in a free kick from the right, Koscielny went for the ball Neuer flapped at it and missed, Oliver Giroud stumbled into the gap left by Koscielny and somehow got enough contact on the ball to force it over the line.
On nil to the Arsenal.
The tiring Bayern players swarmed forward in a desperate search for an equaliser, leaving ever widening gaps at the back. Hector Bellerin won the ball near the half way line, sprinted forward and beyond his full-back to square the ball to the onrushing Mesut Ozil whose shot crossed the line fractionally before Neuer knocked it out but it was just too late, the fifth official stood with his arm upraised signalling the goal and a remarkable Arsenal win.
A two nil victory that seemed as unlikely as Ali’s over Foreman all those years ago in the Rumble in the Jungle.
Written by Norfolk Gooner.
We have been blessed with 2 match reports today – only fitting after such an epic performance 🙂
…. and now the inimitable Steve Palmer’s unique view of the game …..
It was interesting to hear Ferdinand’s thoughts on Ollie coming on and the difference it made, basically he said that if you are not switched on as a defender it is tough to switch from the way you have attempted to contain the small pacy forward and suddenly you have to switch to a physical game against someone who wants the ball in to his body.
And I guess that the defenders have been worried about the ball in behind so much they are giving themselves one or two yards head start on the foot race, suddenly the ball is going into Ollies body and he is bringing midfielders into the game with a platform. Also the fact that at the set piece with they had to put Muller on Kozzer so the centre backs could deal with BFG and Ollie, and that adds further confusion to their game plan.
Whilst possession might not have been level according to stats zone we had an equal number of shots in the box however we got far more of ours on target, and Munich were adjudged to have 2 clear cut chances whilst we had 4.
And that at the end of the day was the biggest difference.
Here’s a stat for you, we completed 207 of 278 passes against the possibly the best team in Europe, Chavs managed only 278 out of 378 in Kiev with an equal number of passes on the other side.
Biggest difference between us and those Chavs playing Munich in the CL final is the way we break with the ball, it’s not a hit and hope to someone to chase and then attempt to polish a turd, it’s worked through the midfield with pace and precision, we did the same vs City last season.
But best of all is probably the way we have changed our game in the last three matches.
United….high tempo….high pressing….
Munich…..defensive shape…..quick counters…
But obviously we never change our game plan for the opponents 🙂
The thing is it’s always been the same 11 and the same formation, and that is why players should be able to drop in and out without issues. The subtlety in tactics is what we do with and without the ball.
The thing is we often play sides like Watford so that style gets seen as our norm, we rarely face three contrasting opponents in quick succession so the tactical changes are never as evident.
United have a front three that can hurt you, but if they can’t get the ball to them they can’t hurt you, so you press their poor passing through midfield and from the back, Watford like so many others will sit back and kill you on counter, that tactic will work against us once in awhile but generally we find a way through to a win, and Munich like us to teams like Watford can kill you with fullbacks, midfielders and forwards, so you keep them in front of you and use the ball when you have it well.
There was a very interesting discussion about Klopp and his style on one of the podcasts, basically the theory being that he won’t yet have realised that the game is played at 100mph every week in the PL and that teams do not accept their fate even 1 or 2 nil down. His ability to cope with that will make or break him and his “heavy metal” football at Liverpool.
Gooner in Exile