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Old 05-08-2019, 09:52 PM
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Strategy: What causes teams like Barca and Ajax to blow 3-0 aggregate leads?


Is it a case of teams like Barca and Ajax going into "turtle mode" in the second match, knowing they merely need to guard their earlier lead, but then this play-not-to-lose approach causes them to....lose?

Should a team with a 3-goal lead on aggregate actually play somewhat aggressive on offense in order to force their opponent to play some defense - ('best defense is a good offense?')
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Old 05-08-2019, 10:17 PM
Jackknifed Juggernaut is offline
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Yup, they say that the most dangerous lead to have in soccer is 2-0. Plus, the team that’s down in a knockout game has no choice but to be extra aggressive. Barcelona did it to PSG two years ago, and then had Roma do it to them last year. And then again yesterday. The flip side of that strategy is what happened to Brazil against Germany two World Cups ago. What’s really amazing is that 3 of the most prolific scorers in the EPL, Salah, Firmino and Kane, were absent from the winning semi-final sides. The replacements did more than you could even have hoped for from the starters.
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Old 05-08-2019, 11:08 PM
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I’d say if you’re up 3 goals you’re pretty good at offense. Play to your strengths and keep at it. The more goals you pile onto your opponent, the more desperate they get, the more risks they take, and the more mistakes they will make.

Last edited by Atamasama; 05-08-2019 at 11:09 PM.
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Old 05-08-2019, 11:51 PM
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Yeah. Completely agree with Juggernaut and Atamasama.

Well, the big difference is, of course, that Ajax has a small percentage of the budget the other teams mentioned have. But still, they should have fought harder to keep possession, and they were pretty subdued after they took the 3- goal lead.

About Barcelona, I blame our manager, Ernesto Valverde. He's a cautious, conservative, risk-averse sort of tactician... which isn't a bad thing up to a certain point and has allowed him to win silverware- but eventually, when facing somebody more willing to experiment and try to go the extra mile, he falls.
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Old 05-09-2019, 08:20 AM
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Pretty much all 4 of the goals Barca gave up were from the defense "switching off." Could be that they didn't think there's any way they could blow their 3-0 advantage and got complacent. They have a veteran world cup winning center back though, you'd think he'd get them organized.

Part of it is also luck combined with regression to the mean. Barcelona won the first leg 3-0, but that didn't accurately reflect how well each team played that game. Based on expected goals models, it was much closer. Same for the second leg, the scoreline flattered Liverpool somewhat. Add in that Soccer is a high variance game and you'll get a wide variety of scores from similarly played matches.

Agreed that Valverde isn't a great manager. Wouldn't shock me if he's fired over the summer (Xavi as replacement?) even though he's won the league both years in charge.
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Old 05-09-2019, 08:59 AM
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Agreed that Valverde isn't a great manager. Wouldn't shock me if he's fired over the summer (Xavi as replacement?) even though he's won the league both years in charge.
Yeah... but winning the league with either Barcelona or Madrid, whose combined budget multiplies several times that of the rest of the teams, isn't some sort of impossible achievement. This season in particular, when both Madrid and Atlético had a big drop in form, could have been won with literally any random manager at the helm.

That's not to say that Valverde is useless. He isn't. He does his job well enough to get the adequate results. There's a million worse managers we could have. He will just never go the extra mile and impress the world.

However, the Barcelona board is also strongly pragmatic. Valverde will remain a Barcelona manager as long as he wins a big title, either la Liga or the Champions League.
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Old 05-09-2019, 09:31 AM
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However, the Barcelona board is also strongly pragmatic. Valverde will remain a Barcelona manager as long as he wins a big title, either la Liga or the Champions League.
I dunno if La Liga will cut it. They've consistently won it over Messi's career, but haven't won the CL in 4 years (while watching Real Madrid win). It wouldn't shock me if they keep Valverde next year, but I'd figure that's his last shot at a CL, even if they win the league and the Copa del Rey next season. They probably only have 1 or 2 years more of Messi at an all-world level, gotta get it soon.
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Old 05-09-2019, 11:42 AM
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I suspect with Liverpool they lucked out with unknown quantity wildcard players delivering on the big occasion, previously left out because of the main stars were fit.

Often strategies will be based on known players, who to mark, and cover. With these two, they were pretty much blind spots for Barca.
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Old 05-09-2019, 12:23 PM
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Part of it too is that we tend to notice when somebody (or two somebodies) loses a big lead like this, precisely because it's rare. Maybe the turtling strategy really is correct and works 95% of the time, but it makes a big impression on us when it fails.

It's also a pretty small sample size, and it's not clear how to evaluate how much of the results are down to strategy decisions. I mean, give me a three goal lead and I could probably manage Barcelona to a win 90% of the time, with my "hey guys, go out and do your best kicks" instructions.
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Old 05-09-2019, 04:05 PM
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Barça defence sucks. Has since they lost Puyol and Valdes. Mascherano masked some deficiencies.
It does not help that Pique and Alba play more forward than actual forwards. Plus they are struggling against big powerful players like Origri.

Ajax were stunned by the two quick goals, and the spent the rest of the night trying to defend. The defence was playing on fumes near the end.
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Old 05-10-2019, 03:56 AM
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Originally Posted by borschevsky View Post
Part of it too is that we tend to notice when somebody (or two somebodies) loses a big lead like this, precisely because it's rare. Maybe the turtling strategy really is correct and works 95% of the time, but it makes a big impression on us when it fails.

It's also a pretty small sample size, and it's not clear how to evaluate how much of the results are down to strategy decisions. I mean, give me a three goal lead and I could probably manage Barcelona to a win 90% of the time, with my "hey guys, go out and do your best kicks" instructions.
That's probably true - 2-0 lead has given the win 90%, drawn 7%, and overturned for a loss 3% of the time in the history of the prem (1992 onwards). 3-0 lead is won what looks like 99% of the time - so very rare.

From here:
https://www.skysports.com/football/n...the-worst-lead

1-0 ain't so good - that's a 50/50 proposition. Go the match any time your team is defending a 1-0 lead into the second half and without fail you'll see fans on their feet bellowing 'TOO DEEP!' (or words to that effect). It really does seem like your team is deliberately sitting back (ie deep), conceding possession and territory, and just inviting the opponents onto them. WTF is wrong with them, don't they want to win?

Reality of course is that they're not playing this way out of choice, or some elaborate rope-a-dope strategy, they're being forced onto the back foot because the opposition know you get zero points for a loss. So they're upping the intensity and taking risks, which shifts the pattern of play. Maintaining this press for a sustained period is very hard on the attacking team so it's reasonable to try and absorb it and have them run out of steam.
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Old 05-10-2019, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Jackknifed Juggernaut View Post
Yup, they say that the most dangerous lead to have in soccer is 2-0.
"They" are stupid. No one would trade a 2-0 lead over a 1-0 lead. If teams fall behind by a goal, they'd put one in their own net of a 2 goal lead was so dangerous.
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Old 05-11-2019, 12:16 AM
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"They" are stupid. No one would trade a 2-0 lead over a 1-0 lead.
It's a figure of speech, of course.
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Old 05-11-2019, 02:18 AM
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"They" are stupid. No one would trade a 2-0 lead over a 1-0 lead. If teams fall behind by a goal, they'd put one in their own net of a 2 goal lead was so dangerous.
It refers to the team mentality. At 1-0 you know you are on a knife-edge. There is a possibility of 2-0 or higher leading to complacency infecting the team, shape and concentration wavering and in those cases when the team loses a goal it can be hard to switch back on. Football has a huge element of momentum to it and it can be hard to pinpoint when that momentum shifts and also almost impossible to wrestle it back.
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Old 05-11-2019, 09:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Go_Arachnid_Laser View Post
It's a figure of speech, of course.
Well, yeah. A dumb figure of speech.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Novelty Bobble View Post
It refers to the team mentality. At 1-0 you know you are on a knife-edge. There is a possibility of 2-0 or higher leading to complacency infecting the team, shape and concentration wavering and in those cases when the team loses a goal it can be hard to switch back on. Football has a huge element of momentum to it and it can be hard to pinpoint when that momentum shifts and also almost impossible to wrestle it back.
And at 3-0, there's even more complacency. It's a cliché. And not a particularly insightful one.
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Old 05-12-2019, 08:04 AM
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....It's a cliché. And not a particularly insightful one.
Except that you see it happening right before your eyes every weekend, especially in the majority of matches that don’t involve the top clubs. A team that is only up 1-0 will generally still continue to attack and “play their game” knowing that an opposing goal, even a fluky one, will ruin their day. When a team goes up 2-0, they often shut off their attack completely. The collective mentality shifts to defending, which eventually fatigues them. The team that’s down will continue to attack, identify weaknesses, sharpen their passing, attempt new strategies, and invariably have more chances. When a goal is eventually scored to close the gap to 2-1, the team that’s down is even more energized and confident, while the team that’s still winning gets panicky. And it becomes very difficult to “turn on” their attack again. So more defending, more fatigue, etc....
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Old 05-12-2019, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Jackknifed Juggernaut View Post
Except that you see it happening right before your eyes every weekend, especially in the majority of matches that don’t involve the top clubs. A team that is only up 1-0 will generally still continue to attack and “play their game” knowing that an opposing goal, even a fluky one, will ruin their day. When a team goes up 2-0, they often shut off their attack completely. The collective mentality shifts to defending, which eventually fatigues them. The team that’s down will continue to attack, identify weaknesses, sharpen their passing, attempt new strategies, and invariably have more chances. When a goal is eventually scored to close the gap to 2-1, the team that’s down is even more energized and confident, while the team that’s still winning gets panicky. And it becomes very difficult to “turn on” their attack again. So more defending, more fatigue, etc....
This happened to the USA vs. Brazil in the 2009 Confederations Cup and Japan in the Round of Sixteen against Belgium in last year's World Cup. Both teams went up 2-0, promptly went into turtle mode, and ended up conceding three consecutive goals and losing 3-2.
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Old 05-12-2019, 08:07 PM
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Except that you see it happening right before your eyes every weekend,
Like I said:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yookeroo View Post
And at 3-0, there's even more complacency. It's a cliché. And not a particularly insightful one.
If the phrase said that 2-0 is dangerous and can lead to complacency, It wouldn't sound so completely stupid. But is doesn't. It calls the 2 goal lead the "most dangerous". Hyperbole? Maybe (although I'm not convinced that people don't believe it literally). It's a silly cliché.
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