There were many impressive tactical performances by managers in the first first 16 legs, with the heads of Atletico, PSG and Spurs standing out
The first legs of the Champions League's second round games did not bring surprising results, but thanks to the general care over the fortnight – seven of the remaining 16 clubs were unable to score – Eight contacts hang in the balance.
A more pessimistic reading is that the rich differences between the upper clubs and the rest have led to more predictable as individual tactical intelligence information; Manchester City and Real Madrid got times from
Schalke and Ajax respectively, only for the class difference to shine late.
However, it was an interesting tactical round, with inspirational deputies and half-time thweaks making the difference in the Tottenham, Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid games.
Here are five tactical talk points of the games:
Liverpool will not be so careful this season
Liverpool managed to score 18 goals in their last Champions League games last season, which is why it's surprising to see the Jurgen Klopp 0-0 hit with Bayern Munich on Tuesday.
The typical Liverpool first blitz could have been the most effective strategy too, given that the German side has looked mild back in the last few weeks, turning under the pressure of fast attackers on several occasions.
Instead they show a warning. The full back of the two teams remained relatively deep and neither side was really committed to assaults, which seemed hopeful that he could find a way to dribble through a series of defenders with little middle-field support.
That's why two player areas often considered too slow about their situation – Javi Martinez and Jordan Henderson – the two outstanding players; the game was at a speed that they could follow, while lack of supportive support meant that mopping up was relatively simple.
It looks as if the Liverpool Champions League campaign followed their form of a more metallic, conservative league. Given the benefits of Anfield cacophonous, which seems to be a mistake.
Classic Atletico Resilience assisted by Simeone deputies
Atletico Madrid is playing Juventus with an intense tactical strategy, which has all the features of Diego Simeone's classic performance.
Successful in 4-4-2, their weight in the third central Juve denied any rhythm while Juanfran kept Cristiano Ronaldo quietly. Atleti was more clear in tackling and aggression throughout, looking as potential champions in the process.
The second half of Simeone was changes that ultimately defined the game. Recognizing the fact that Juve was vulnerable (and uncommon) in the air and on the counter, Alvaro Morata came on the field that Antoine moved
Griezmann wide out – to a devastating effect. Griezmann broke out quickly from the right wing, unlike Saul Niguez in the first half, to create a three-three attack for Atletico for the last 30 minutes. The urgent Juve defense refused under pressure.
Morata had a headed goal by VAR who won a header to win a free kick in the 77 minutes, in front of (through the following corner) the ball went down to Jose Gimenez to score. Morata won a duel bum of air in just 32 minutes on the field.
Tuchel Solskjaer outsmarts with half-time changes
Hesitancy and a caution defining the 45 minutes in Old Trafford as Man Utd and Paris Saint-Germain rushed with trading blows.
Both managers would feel confidently to go to the break, and again by the final whistle it was clear which one of Thomas Tuchel and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had shown the more tactical nous. I was forced to change when Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial started injuries, but nevertheless, Solskjaer's decision making showed a clear mistake of opinion.
It had been a balanced match in the first half with a limited space in the middle of the field as Marco Verratti ran the middle field (mainly because Paul Pogba was marked by the Marquinhos out of the game). As a result, United should have tried to redefine the competition on the borders, do not doubled boldly into the inside; Juan Mata and Alexis Sanchez inevitably added to the sense of glystrophobia.
Instead, Solskajer should have brought Romelu Lukaku on and move to 4-3-1-2 that has served the United head coach well in the last month. Lukaku and Marcus Rashford could be split broadly, using their counter speed with Mata in the hole behind them.
The Tucson half-time tactical switch itself solved Solskjaer's mistake. Thilo Kehrer's PSG manager ordered to sit deeper and narrow, forming three backs during permanent periods of possession (probably to nullify Fighting, without knowing that the French is about to be subdivided).
Rashford was easily missed as Mata and Sanchez were blocked by the external centers as they tried to drift. If Solskjaer had gone to 4-3-1-2, Lukaku and
Rashford could have run between the three PSG centers causing much more harm.
Ajax ruffle anlwcus Real with a most important performance
Ajax's first appearance in the Champions League campaign times since 2006 sends a message to the world that the Ajax Cruelty is a long way ago; their high-pressure football defeated European champions in Amsterdam despite a 2-1 defeat.
With a little more luck, we could have witnessed the golden generation of Ajax graduates starting to finish Monaco-esque for the final stages of the competition.
Frantic press ban, led by Dusan Tadic, David Neres, and Hakim Ziyech, actually passing by the back, with the Ajax center three tightening to contrasting numbers in a man-to-marking system -dyn.
Rejected real, spending long periods in their own half as Ziyech and Donny van de Beek turned on unemployed in the gaps around Casemiro. Just making inexperienced decisions in the last third – together with an incredible VAR call – which left Ajax down.
Real goals came through two assault, one down side by side, which highlighted the most important system hazards. Legs had started tires and Real took advantage of an unfortunate advantage, which was unfortunately that came up from a group of players with multiple winners medals.
Pochettino's tactics turn Sancho-Vertonghen's fight on top of it
This was another two-half game, and just like in Old Trafford he was half-tactical tactical adjustments that changed the direction of the knit. Jadon Sancho looked dangerous at the opening 45 minutes, turning to the space half between the left brain back to Jan Vertonghen and leaving the left-handed Toby Alderweireld.
Mauricio Pochettino gave detailed tactical feedback to players during the break to correct this problem. First, the defensive line was pushed higher so that the gap between the middle-back and midfield field was reduced, pressing Sancho out. But more importantly, Serge Aurier was not instructed to stay back more often, allowing the three centers to break down and Alderweireld traced Sancho without fearing what he was behind.
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Sancho's limited influence is tweak (he completed four dribbles in the first half and zero in the second) and Vertonghen released to move on, left behind in a deeper way to mark Sancho.
Suddenly, Tottenham had a great exit and the possession of the first 45 became interesting. Vertonghen assisted the opening goal with a perfect cross for Son Heung-Min, before adding the second with the type of assault on running that could not have been compromised in the first half.
Jan Vertonghen touch map | Second half Tottenham 3-0 Ajax