Interesting clash of similar styles as Athletico Madrid take on Leicester City in UCL

By Daily Sports on April 11, 2017

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Diego Simeone, the Athletico Madrid, coach would probably not have given much thought to France international midfielder Hartem Ben Arfa’s recent criticism of his playing philosophy. Former Newcastle and Marseille midfielder, Ben Arfa, whose brilliant football skills are widely acclaimed, but not his character, had told French journalists of his displeasure of watching teams that are more wholly defensive in their approach to football games and singled out Simeone and Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho as two coaches that he doesn't fancy because of their (in his opinion) ultra-defensive tactics which gives less latitude for offensive players to express themselves.

But why would Simeone not be probably bothered? Simply, because his coaching method has put him in the top cadre as one of the best coaches in world football today. He has won a Spanish La Liga title, wrestling it from the Barcelona and Real Madrid grip in 2014 and has reached the final of the European Champions’ League in the last two years, missing the title narrowly on both occasions.

This year Simeone and his Athletico Madrid players are on course to reach the final of the Champions League and to achieve that aim they have the tricky matter of facing English league's surprise new package, Leicester City.

Among other talking points, this game presents a fascinating prospect of a clash of similar styles. Both clubs have found success winning titles recently with an unorthodox 4-4-2 formation.

When Leicester City (under now sacked coach Claudio Ranieri) surprised every odds (to use an understatement) by winning the Barclay's premier league last season, they fashioned out a stingy back four of players who stuck mostly to their defensive roles. Then, they operated mostly with two midfielders (Ngolo Kante and Danny Drinkwater) who were also solid defensively, forgoing the more fashionable three-man midfield of most teams that usually has one flair attacking midfielder at the tip of the centre of the middle.

Leicester City then deployed two wide players whose job include the provision of width when the team is to attack and the narrowing down of the middle when the lose possession (forming a compact shape with the breast of the team). Up top were two strikers in Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki who possessed gallons of strength to chase down opponents in their half as well as racing in lightening quick manner to score from counter attacks.

One can argue that Leicester City copied from Athletic because the Spanish team were the first to play and achieve success with exactly this style in recent times.

Now both teams are expected to face each other in a two-legged clash. It could largely boil down to small details to separate both sides; like late injuries to key players or a momentary loss of concentration.

The first leg comes up on Wednesday night in Madrid while The Foxes will host Athletico in the return leg a week later.


Diego Simeone saw his team snatch a late draw against Real Madrid’s in a La Liga derby-day at the weekend thanks to star turn Antoine Griezmann’s late leveller.

Simeone has some injury concerns, with keeper Miguel Moya, defender Sime Vrsaljko, midfielders Nico Gaitan, Tiago all expected to miss out.

While Augusto Fernandez and striker Kevin Gameiro are also not expected to be fit in time for Wednesday.


Craig Shakespeare (Leicester coach) confirmed a massive blow to the Foxes' chances with the news that skipper Wes Morgan is out of their historic clash with a back injury.

Shakespeare rested five players in the 4-2 defeat to Everton, exposing their defensive frailties, and they will be even more threadbare now - and without their talisman leader.

Nampalys Mendy is out long term, while Nigerian Wilfred Ndidi's groin complaint is not expected to heal in time to make the first leg.


Isaac Success’ former club Granada appoint Arsenal legend Adams as coach

Spanish La Liga side Granada has appointed ex-Arsenal captain Tony Adams as coach.

50-year old Adams had a well-decorated playing career, winning many titles with Arsenal before ending his career in 2002.

Adam's appointment follows a string of poor performances by Granada this season which has caused manager Lucas Alcaraz his job.

A statement by Granada reads: “After evaluating the situation in which the team is and the sensations the team had been showing after recent results, Granada has decided to end the time of Lucas Alcaraz and his coaching staff in charge of the first team.

“In his place, the club place all their confidence in Tony Adams, vice president of DDMC, as head coach of Granada until the end of the season.”

Adams has had stints as coach in several countries since hanging his boots. He had spells in charge of Wycombe and Portsmouth and also spent time on the coaching staff at Dutch side Feyenoord before moving to Azerbaijan in 2010 as manager of FC Gabala.

Adams later took on the role of sporting director with Gabala and most recently ventured to China, where he spent time in a similar role with Chongqing Lifan.

Granada currently have Nigerian midfielder Uche Agbo in their books while Super Eagles striker Isaac Success (now of Watford in the English premier league) played for them from 2014 to 2016.

Source Daily Sports

Posted April 11, 2017

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