Tactically outdated Mourinho must reinvent himself – just like Guardiola

COMMENT: The Special One has used the same 4-2-3-1 formation for the last five-and-a-half years but must modernise if he is to save his job and win more major trophies 

Tactically outdated Mourinho must reinvent himself - just like Guardiola

“During our first team meeting at Real Madrid, Jose Mourinho didn’t talk much about tactics. In tactical terms, you just have to look at how he eliminated Barcelona in the Champions League with Inter in 2010 by playing defensive, counter-attacking football. Despite all the talented players he has had at his disposal, the recent years have shown that he has probably become outdated tactically.”

This was the damning response of an ex-Mourinho player when asked by Goal if his former Madrid mentor was to blame for Chelsea’s disastrous season.

The player in question asked to remain anonymous – he is active and may have to work with Mourinho again. But he is not alone in his criticism of the Chelsea boss. There have been numerous theories as to why the flailing Premier League champions, who sit just two points above the relegation zone following Saturday’s humiliating home loss to Bournemouth, have collapsed so spectacularly this campaign.

Is Mourinho suffering from third season syndrome? Is the dressing room broken? Is a poor summer transfer market to blame? Did the controversial departure of first team doctor Eva Carneiro affect the squad?

However, the former Madrid player’s narrow focus – whether Mourinho has been at fault tactically – is not a question that has been explored in depth. There can be little argument that since taking over Real Madrid in 2010, Mourinho has not evolved in a strategic sense. During his three-year spell at the Santiago Bernabeu and his two-and-a-half seasons back at Chelsea, he has almost always utilised his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.

But this is a system that – despite emerging as the most popular and innovative formation of the new millennium – is now out of fashion among the elite. None of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus or Atletico Madrid use it. Carlo Ancelotti quickly abandoned it after succeeding Mourinho at Madrid, although the under-fire Rafa Benitez has flirted with its return this term.

The 4-2-3-1 is still relatively popular in the Premier League, so the formation alone cannot be used as an excuse for Chelsea’s dismal domestic form – even if it could help explain why English sides have flopped in Europe in the last few years. But it is just as much how Mourinho’s players interpret their roles within this system that is hurting Chelsea.

Jose’s obsession with fielding a team that is solid, organised and protected by a flat back four and two holding midfielders has not once wavered. Although Eden Hazard and Willian do have some licence to roam and switch flanks in offensive phases and Cesc Fabregas can act as a floating playmaker, the position of each player in the team is rigid. Each occupies a place on the right, the left or the centre and generally holds their position throughout the game. With such clear reference points, Chelsea are not only painfully pragmatic but also very predictable.

Top football teams today need to be far more flexible and expansive. They can’t use the same formation and occupy the same positions each game. If they do they will soon be found out, especially with so much technology and data available to analyse every movement on the pitch.

Pep Guardiola is surely the most advanced coach tactically right now. On Saturday, he selected the same Bayern Munich XI for the first time in 100 games. Last season, 10 of Mourinho’s team started at least 26 of their Premier League matches and three were ever-presents.

Attempting to decipher Pep’s formation on the pitch is virtually impossible. To Guardiola, there is no such thing as a set formation, it is all about interpreting space depending on the scenario and where the ball and opponents are. Then it is about exploiting this space by creating ‘passing lanes’ to provide multiple channels of attack in each move. As a result Bayern can line up at the centre circle in a 3-4-3 or 4-3-3, then 10 seconds later be attacking in a 2-3-5.

“We can play a back three or a back four, we can play with one or two support strikers, whatever,” captain Philipp Lahm told Goal last month. “I don’t know how many systems we have. Our game is very flexible in any case. [A formation to us] is often only about how you write in down.”

Guardiola is a proponent of total football. He demands that his players are comfortable in any area of the pitch – and that his defenders are just as proficient going forward as they are backwards. Compare David Alaba, Philipp Lahm and Jerome Boateng starting moves from deep and pushing into midfield with Chelsea’s John Terry, Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma, who are incapable of crossing the halfway line unless it is to go up for a corner.

Then look at Diego Costa, a lone striker with little to no lateral or off-the-ball movement – once again an easy reference point for defenders unless he is in peak condition. A big hulking target man has been a favourite of Mourinho for most of his career, with Didier Drogba his crown jewel. But, this type of physical striker may also be going out of fashion.

The best team in the world, Barcelona, employ a trio of small, skilful, interchanging forwards. Manchester City have the premier attack in England with the pint-sized Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and David Silva buzzing around. Juventus and Atletico are building their futures around the tiny but incredibly talented Paulo Dybala and Antoine Griezmann, respectively. PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski may be big but they are technically the equal of anyone.

Guardiola’s philosophy that players and formations need to be eclectic and adaptable is catching on. Last season, Massimiliano Allegri won the domestic double and reached the Champions League final with Juventus by deploying numerous different systems. He regularly switched from a 4-3-1-2 to a 3-5-2, 4-4-2, 4-3-2-1 and 4-3-3 – often during the same game. This ability to “change the menu”, as Patrice Evra described it, is crucial.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have little variation to their play. Indeed, this season 13 of their 28 goals in the Premier League and Champions League have come from set pieces, while many others have been via deflections or goalkeeping gaffes. Very few have been well crafted.

“Juventus are developing a system that will be used by most of the big European teams in a couple of years,” former Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli told Tuttosport.

“Juventus are at the vanguard: they use a hybrid tactical method that highlights the individual quality, even changing tactically during the course of a single move.”

Mourinho must also embrace this change. He cannot stand still. As Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli pointed out on Tuesday: “Guardiola is constantly developing tactically”. The legendary Sir Alex Ferguson was successful for so long because he was always evolving. He won the 1999 Champions League with a flat 4-4-2 formation, then changed to a 4-4-1-1, lifted another European title with a 4-3-3, before returning to a 4-4-2 to win his 13th and final Premier League title in 2013.

The 4-2-3-1 formation and Mourinho’s interpretation of it is simplistic and outdated. It is no coincidence that in the last five-and-a-half years he has won five trophies (including two trophyless campaigns and no European titles), compared to the 17 he bagged in the seven years prior – which comprised of six league championships, two Champions Leagues and a Uefa Cup.

Swiss authorities arrest Hawit, Napout in FIFA corruption case in Zurich

FIFA vice-presidents Alfredo Hawit and Juan Angel Napout have been arrested in another pre-dawn raid of the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich on suspicion “of accepting bribes of millions of dollars,” the Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) has announced.

FIFA Logo

The luxury establishment used by FIFA officials was swooped upon for the second time this year, with interim CONCACAF president Hawit of Honduras and CONMEBOL chief Napout of Paraguay detained on orders issued by the FOJ on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The FOJ confirmed in a further statement on Thursday that the pair are both opposing extradition to the U.S.

Suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter has not been arrested as part of this latest raid.

A statement from the FOJ said: “On the instructions of the Federal Office of Justice (FOJ), a further two FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich today. They are being held in custody pending their extradition. According to the US arrest requests, they are suspected of accepting bribes of millions of dollars.

“The high-ranking FIFA officials are alleged to have taken the money in return for selling marketing rights in connection with football tournaments in Latin America, as well as World Cup qualifying matches.”

FIFA has acknowledged the latest controversy, saying in a statement: “FIFA became aware of the actions taken today by the US Department of Justice. FIFA will continue to co-operate fully with the US investigation as permitted by Swiss law, as well as with the investigation being led by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General. FIFA will have no further comment on today’s developments.”

The governing body’s executive committee is currently midway through a two-day meeting.

Hawit was appointed interim president of CONCACAF, the confederation of countries from North and Central America and the Caribbean, after his predecessor Jeffrey Webb was arrested in a similar raid in May. Napout is the president of CONMEBOL, the South American confederation.

CONCACAF released a statement on Thursday saying that it “continues to cooperate with all government authorities in their investigations” before adding: “Today’s developments only strengthen the confederation’s resolve in continuing to enact significant structural and governance changes to the organisation, including substantial amendments to its statutes and fundamentally changing how it conducts business.”

CONCACAF Press Release

The FIFA corruption scandal first broke in May when seven officials, including Webb, were arrested by Swiss authorities on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice, plunging football’s world governing body into meltdown.

Authorities in Switzerland and in the U.S. are investigating current and former senior football officials on charges that include racketeering, money laundering and fraud.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

 

The stats that show Ronaldo could be losing his magic

The former Manchester United man has struggled to convert chances in La Liga this term, though he could be set for a welcome boost against Getafe on Saturday

The stats that show Ronaldo could be losing his magic

Of all the issues facing Real Madrid this season, perhaps the most worrying for Rafa Benitez and fans at Santiago Bernabeu is the form of Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portugal international found the net on five occasions against Espanyol on September 12, but has only netted a further four times in La Liga since as the Blancos slipped behind Barcelona in the race for the title.

And Ronaldo can only blame himself for his poor returns in front of goal, with the former Manchester United man’s shot conversion rate of 12.12 per cent his worst since moving to the Spanish capital.

Ronaldo’s efforts pale in comparison to Barca duo Neymar and Luis Suarez, who have been in electric form both with and without Lionel Messi in the side, though both are trailing behind Real Sociedad’s Imanol Agirretxe.

But there could be some good news this weekend for Ronaldo, with Madrid’s opponents Getafe having conceded more goals from the penalty spot this season and the reported Paris Saint-Germain target his side’s designated spot-kick taker.

Culled from goal.com

 

Ancelotti: Messi’s return is not good news for Roma

The Italian does not think that the Argentine’s restoration to the starting line-up will affect Neymar and Luis Suarez, who have both netted 11 times in their past 11 games

Ancelotti: Messi's return is not good news for Roma

Carlo Ancelotti says Lionel Messi’s likely return to the Barcelona starting line-up is “not good news for Roma”, insisting that Neymar and Luis Suarez will be even more effective with the Argentine back alongside them.

Messi suffered a knee injury in a Liga game against Las Palmas on September 26, prompting fears that the Catalan club could struggle without their talismanic No.10.

However, Neymar and Suarez have flourished in his absence, with both men netting 11 times in the 11 games that they have started without Messi, sparking a debate over whether the pair perform better without the four-time Ballon d’Or winner, who made his comeback as a substitute in Saturday’s 4-0 rout of Real Madrid.

Ancelotti, though, says that the fit-again Messi is only going to make Barca stronger, pointing out that his wonderful on-field rapport with his fellow South Americans was the key factor in last season’s historic treble triumph.

“Messi’s return is not good news for Roma,” the Italian coach told Goal ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash at Camp Nou.

“It’s true that Suarez and Neymar are doing very well but clearly Barca with Messi are something else. Messi brings goals, quality… He brings everything!

“He brings  enthusiasm to his team-mates, who know that they have by their side a player capable of unlocking any game at any moment.

“It’s obviously better to play a Barca without him. Messi’s presence will only relegate Neymar and Suarez to the background in terms of media coverage, because on the field they do certainly not reside in the background.

“They had an extraordinary finish to last season, finding a special chemistry that allowed Barcelona to win everything.

“I don’t see them suffering with Messi, neither Neymar nor Suarez.”

Unprecedented security for Madrid-Barca clash

A unprecedented series of security measures will be put in place for Saturday’s La Liga clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona in response to the attacks that killed 129 people in Paris last week.

The exact number of security personnel will be ironed out in a meeting on Thursday between representatives of both clubs, police and local and national government.

“Security will be greatly reinforced. There will be a lot of security personnel to control not only the access to the stadium, but also the outskirts and the transport that will bring fans to the stadium,” said Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz.

Spain’s anti-violence commission met with political, police and sporting authorities on Wednesday and declared the match as “high risk”, which is customary for the biggest games in La Liga, especially those between eternal rivals Madrid and Barca.

However, the events in Paris, allied to a terror threat level of four out of a maximum five in Spain, means that the security measures have “no precedent for the celebration of sporting events,” according to Francisco Martinez Vazquez, secretary of state for security.

No official figures have yet been released, but according to reports in the Spanish media, there will be a triple ring of security around Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium with over 1,500 police, who will be armed with horses, dogs and metal detectors.

A capacity crowd of 81,000 fans are expected to attend the match widely seen as the biggest in the world with an estimated television audience of 500 million.

The Stade de France, where an 80,000 crowd were watching France host Germany, was one of a series of targets across the French capital on Friday.

As a result of the increased terror threat, Spain’s friendly in Belgium was postponed on Tuesday, as was Germany’s clash with the Netherlands due to a bomb threat in Hannover.

The Bernabeu was the target of a bomb threat in December 2004, just months after the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people.

The stadium was evacuated quickly and calmly near the end of a league match against Real Sociedad.

Two years previously, the Basque separatist group ETA planted a car bomb near the stadium on the day of a Champions League semi-final between Madrid and Barcelona causing 17 injuries. However, the game still went ahead.

Fernandez Diaz insisted at the moment there is no reason to think about postponing the game.

However, “should those circumstances arise, the priority is to ensure people’s lives,” he added.

Ramos: Clasico is almost orgasmic

The defender admitted that derbies with Barcelona are ecstatic affairs, while dismissing the suggestion Saturday’s defeat at Sevilla was a “disaster”

Ramos: Clasico is almost orgasmic

Sergio Ramos is already getting excited about Real Madrid‘s upcoming clash with Barcelona, joking the Clasico can be an almost orgasmic experience.

Los Blancos host their great rivals at the Santiago Bernabeu on November 21, with Rafa Benitez’s men having fallen three points behind the Liga leaders after Sunday’s shock loss at Sevilla.

Ramos has had his ups and downs against Barca, getting sent off in the infamous 5-0 loss at Camp Nou in 2010 but heading the winner in their meeting in March 2013.

Barca defender Gerard Pique claimed on Sunday that the Clasico “turns us on” and Ramos admitted he finds the derby nearly as arousing.

“I don’t know, I’ve never reached an orgasm personally during the Clasico – but almost,” the Spain international, who is a veteran in clashes with Barca having been at Madrid since 2005, quipped to reporters.

Ramos was speaking after Madrid’s 3-2 loss at Sevilla, a game in which he had opened the scoring with a spectacular overhead kick only to see the hosts mount a stirring comeback.

It was put to Ramos that the result was a “disaster” from Madrid’s perspective but he felt that such talk was over the top.

“Every person is free to use the adjective they want,” he added. “We didn’t play well and that is always reflected in the result but this is one of the most complicated grounds for visiting teams, not just Madrid.

“We know we played a poor game but we also have to recognise the great game Sevilla put in.

“I thought we were a little static. We’ve lost some very important points today and we’ve got to change our mindset. But we are still in the title race.”

Silva: Ronaldo’s French Will Help Him At PSG

Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva believes Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will join the French giants next year. 

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The Brazilian insisted the addition of Ronaldo would be great for the French champions, adding that the forward’s ability to speak French would help him settle in quickly.

“I do not know if Ronaldo will sign, but it is fun playing with such major players,” he told RMC.

“Ronaldo is the best player in the world. If the club wants him, of course the PSG squad would be happy.

“He is a very good player, technically essential for all teams in the world and especially for PSG, who have a big dream to win the Champions League with great players.

“I think Ronaldo will come. I do not know what happened with Blanc after the game because he did not say, but I hope there were positive talks between the two.

“He speaks French very well, perhaps better than me, and if it happens next year he will have no difficulty speaking with the media.”

There is a lot of speculation surrounding Ronaldo’s future, with many believing this season could be his last in Spain.

The 30-year-old has scored 13 goals and assisted a further two strikes in 15 matches for Real this season.