Tactical Analysis: Juventus 2-2 Real Madrid

Juventus and Real Madrid played to a 2-2 draw in Turin this evening in Champions League Group B action.

Both sides had phases of dominance- Juventus controlled the tempo in the first half, earning slightly more possession and creating the much more dangerous scoring opportunities. In the second half Madrid controlled the play.

Both sides opted for 4-3-3 formations (whoscored.com refers to Juve’s formation as a 4-1-4-1 in the graphic below- I’d call it 4-3-3). Xabi Alonso played in front of the back four for Carlo Ancelotti’s side having returned to the Real Madrid lineup Saturday after a lengthy groin injury. Khedira and Modric played the two shuttling roles. Sergio Ramos was given a rare start at right back ahead of Arbeloa with Pepe and Varane playing the center half spots. Iker Casillas was given the start in goal.

The only changes Antonio Conte made to the side that were beaten 2-1 by Real Madrid in match week three were to the left side of his defense. Bonucci replaced the red carded Chiellini at left center back while Asamoah was preferred to Ogbona at left back.

 First Half
 Juventus were dangerous down the left wing in the first half. Ronaldo started the game on the right flank but stayed high up the pitch with Benzema when Juventus were in possession. Xabi Alonso, Modric and Khedira kept a tight, narrow defensive shape in the middle and Bale dropped in to defend Juventus’s right flank. With Ronaldo keeping an advanced central position on defense, Juventus were left with space on the left touchline to drift into.

Tevez would drop into this space, forcing Ramos to move into a wide area to close him down and creating a gap between Ramos and his center back Varane. Pogba, who was excellent for Juventus in the first half, continually sprinted in behind Khedira and Real’s midfield line and into the gap between Ramos and Varane. Juventus’s opener came when Juve quickly switched the point of attack from right to left and took advantage of Pogba’s lung-bursting runs into that gap. Llorente received the ball in the middle and played it wide to Tevez. Ramos was forced to close him down towards the touchline. Pogba sprinted in behind the Real Madrid midfield and received a dangerous pass in the penalty area. In his effort to recover Varane dives in and commits a penalty. The screen shot below shows Llorente’s pass in flight to Tevez down the left channel. Notice Ramos being forced to close Tevez down in a wide position and Pogba bursting forward into the open space.

Pogba’s ability to find space behind Khedira to sprint into with the ball was dangerous throughout the half. On 28 minutes he was able to collect a crossfield pass from Vidal behind Khedira inside Juventus’s half. He drove forward toward Ramos who was left to defend Pogba and Tevez 1 v. 2 and slotted the ball wide to Tevez. With time and space, the Argentinian was able to stand up a beautiful ball to the back post for Marchisio who was denied by a world class save from Casillas.

Much of Juve’s dominance in the first half also had to do with the ease with which Pirlo was receiving the ball. Neither Khedira nor Modric stepped forward from their midfield line to press him and Benezema and Ronaldo didn’t drop in to deny passes into him. As a result, Pirlo was able to dictate the tempo and pick out dangerous penetrating passes forward. Pirlo completed 89 passes in the match- more than any other player.

Offensively in the first half, Real Madrid were at their most dangerous on the break. When they recovered possession, they looked to play quick outlet passes to Benzema checking back into midfield. Khedira did well on a number of occasions to quickly break forward and provide Benzema with an option to lay the ball off too. They would then look for Bale and Ronaldo breaking forward in behind the Juventus back four.

 Second Half
Whereas Ronaldo started the game on the right and move around freely in the opening 45 minutes, in the second half he maintained a position wide on the left. Presumably this was because Ancelotti wanted him to exploit the space behind Juventus’s right back Caceres. Throughout the game Caceres had been playing high up the pitch to provide width in attack and therefore leaving space in behind him. In the second half Real Madrid took advantage of that space. Ronaldo’s leveler was the result of a poor back pass from Caceres and not any tactical change. However, Real’s second was indeed a result of the tactical decision to have Ronaldo move into the space behind the right back. With Marcelo receiving the ball on the left wing, Ronaldo made a diagonal run into the left channel behind Caceres. He was spotted by Marcelo, collecting the ball on the flank and finding Bale making a run to the edge of the penalty area. Bale still had plenty to do and his finish was excellent but goal was the result of Real bypassing the Juve midfield by finding Ronaldo free in the left channel.

The big tactical weakness Ronaldo creates for Real Madrid when he’s employed on the left is his reluctance to track the opposition fullback. For Juventus’s equalizer, Caceres was able to receive the ball on the wing with Ronaldo nowhere near him. He had the time to have a look in the box and pick out a cross and found Llorente with a delicious outswinging cross. Varane probably deserves the bulk of the blame for the goal- his defending on Llorente was poor- but Cacares was given too much time and space and the wing to play the ball in. 

The 2-2 scoreline was probably a fair result though Iker Casillas was the busier of the two keepers. Real Madrid still don't look an entirely fluid side. In a 4-3-3 without a #10, their front three and midfield three at times looks disjointed. 

Juventus's drop off between the first half, when they were much the better side, and the early stages of the second half was surprising. They seemed shell shocked by Ronaldo's leveler and never really regained they form they showed in the first half. Copenhagen's win over Galatasaray in Group B's other game meant the draw wasn't a bad result in the end. Juve sit a point behind Copenhagen and Galatasaray in the battle for second and will play both of those sides in the final two fixtures. 

Tactics recap: Bayern Munich 3-1 Manchester City

For 80 minutes Wednesday evening Manchester City were so thoroughly outclassed by Bayern Munich it was difficult to believe they had a squad of European football’s most expensive and indeed most talented players. 

So comprehensive was the German side’s dominance that the home crowd applauded Bayern right winger Arjen Robben when he was substituted in the 78th minute.
After suffering a shocking 3-2 defeat to Aston Villa at the weekend in which a series of mistakes cost City a game they had controlled with ease, Wednesday evening’s contest was an entirely different story. Bayern hardly gave City a whiff of the ball, let alone any meaningful goal scoring chances. Although Alvaro Negredo struck late for City and David Silva nearly made it 3-2 with a free kick off the bar, the final 3-1 scoreline did not accurately reflect Bayern’s superiority.

Early this week Michael Cox wrote a piece for Soccernet stressing that City’s two league defeats to Cardiff and Villa were largely a product of lapses in concentration and avoidable mistakes. 

Silly individual errors certainly played their part last night. Joe Hart should have kept out Franck Ribery’s opener, Gael Clichy fell asleep and allowed Thomas Muller to get in behind the back four for the second and Fernandinho gave away possession in midfield far too easily for Bayern’s third. But equally as crucial as City’s individual errors was the way Manuel Pellegrini set his side out to play.

It’s no secret that Pep Guardiola-coached sides generally play a 4-3-3 with three talented passing center midfielders and look to dominate possession. Yesterday Guardiola used Philipp Lahm in front of the back four with Toni Kroos and Bastian Schweinsteiger higher up the pitch to Lahm’s left and right respectively. To compete in midfield and not allow Bayern to comfortably retain the ball, City needed to match Bayern’s three center midfielders with three of their own. Instead, Pellegrini opted for more of a 4-4-2 shape. Defensively, Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero stayed high up the pitch closer to the Bayern center backs and did little tracking back. This left their two center midfielders Yaya Toure and Fernandinho outnumbered 3 v. 2 in the central midfield zone. They generally picked up the two more advanced Bayern center midfielders, meaning one was always spare to drop off and collect passes without being closed down. This enabled Bayern to comfortably keep the ball and dictate the tempo. As a result City spent the bulk of the contest chasing Bayern in their defensive half without getting anywhere near the ball.  When they were able to win it back, Aguero and Dzeko were too high up the pitch to provide an outlet to spring counters. Bayern pressed quickly and relentlessly and forced City into knocking desperate long balls out of the back that simply gave possession right back to the visitors.

Aguero was substituted for David Silva in the 70th minute and City switched to a 4-2-3-1.  The change to three center midfielders coincided with City’s strongest spell of the game. Silva worked the space between the Bayern lines and provided a link to Negredo (who had come on to replace Dzeko) that City had lacked when they were in a 4-4-2. In Aguero’s 70 minutes on the pitch he had just 8 passes. In Silva’s 20 minutes he had 18. 

David Silva passes versus Bayern Munich via FourFourTwo (red= unsuccessful pass, blue= successful, light blue= chance created, yellow= assist)

Sergio Aguero passes versus Bayern Munich
Silva provided the pass for Negredo’s goal and also provided the ball through for Toure that led to Jerome Boateng making a cynical last ditch tackle and being sent off.  That’s not to say Aguero was to blame for the defeat and shouldn’t have been involved. In fact his pace could have been the biggest threat in behind the high line Bayern were playing. But he needed to playing alongside a creative midfielder with the positional awareness to drift into pockets of space and play through balls for him in behind the defense rather than alongside a #9. Had City gone with a 4-2-3-1 from the outside they’d have been better able to compete in the center midfield zone and we may have seen a much closer affair.

Match commentator Gary Neville went as far as saying that if Pellegrini were an English manager he’d have been called naïve for sticking with the 4-4-2 for so long. A stinging indictment, but one that’s difficult to argue with on the basis of last night’s performance.

Both Arsenal and Chelsea exploit oppositon outside back in Champions League wins

Both Arsenal and Chelsea played some sparkling football on their way to comfortable Champions League wins Tuesday evening.

Arsenal dominated a Napoli side that currently sits second in Serie A and came into the evening unbeaten in all competitions this season. Goals from Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud in the opening quarter of an hour shell shocked the Italians who appeared at a loss for how to deal with the blistering tempo with which Arsenal started the contest. Up 2-0, Arsenal never looked like losing the control they'd asserted from the opening whistle. Their second half was professional and efficient- they sat deeper to ensure the game didn't become stretched and cautiously chose when to break forward on the counter. As a result, Napoli saw more of the ball than they had in the first half but never really looked like troubling Arsenal in the final third.

While Chelsea certainly had the easier of the two fixtures, their 4-0 away win to Steaua Bucharest was nevertheless impressive. The Romanian side's organization was extremely poor- when they got forward they left huge gaps in front of the back four that Chelsea were easily able to transition into when they won the ball back. Ramires netted twice from runs deep in midfield either side of a Steau own goal and Frank Lampard closed out the scoring with a vintage Lampard goal from just outside the 18.

The most interesting tactical feature of both contests was the rather peculiar use of width seen from both Arsenal and Chelsea. These are two sides known for frequently having both wide midfielders tuck into central areas and looking to break through the opposition defense by overloading the middle of the pitch.

At Chelsea, Jose Mourinho tends to use right footed players on the left wing and left footed players on the right wing so they can tuck into central areas and shoot on their stronger foot. In Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Willian, Andre Schurrle, Kevin De Bruyne and Willian, Chelsea have a slew of these inverted wingers that prefer to tuck inside from wide areas rather than take the ball to the end line and whip in crosses. As a result, Chelsea's play often tends to be quite narrow.

Similarly, Arsenal tend to use players on the left of their midfield that drift in field to offer an extra body in the middle of the pitch. The clearest example of this style is their 1-0 win over Tottenham earlier this season when Santi Cazorla drifted inside from the left to overload Spurs' holding midfielder Etienne Capoue. Cazorla has been out with an ankle injury since the Tottenham fixture and has been replaced by Jack Wilshere who also plays very narrow on the left. Theo Walcott is typically used on the right side of midfield. Although his blistering pace and the fact he's a right footed player used on the right wing are typical attributes of a more traditional winger, he often tucks inside high up the pitch to get on the shoulder of the last defender and make runs in behind the defense. In this role he's more of a second striker than an out and out wide player.

Walcott was also unavailable for the Napoli game due to injury as were wide midfielders Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski who both have long term injuries. As a result, Arsene Wenger's only natural wide player available was Serge Gnabry, an 18 year-old whose only Champions League experience is a cameo off the bench last season against Schalke. While Gnabry has played well in recent weeks in both the Premier League and League Cup, Wenger opted not to risk playing an inexperienced teenager in such a big match up. As a result, he was forced to field five different players whose main positions are in the center of midfield.

Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta played the holding roles. Mesut Ozil played centrally behind the striker. Aaron Ramsey played to the right of midfield, Tomas Rosicky on the left. Without any natural wide midfielders on the pitch, it was fair to expect Arsenal would look to overload the middle of the pitch in the attacking third and try to unlock Napoli with tight passing combinations near the top of the box. Napoli certainly looked as though this is what they expected- they defended in two very narrow banks of four and conceded the channels. Surprisingly, Arsenal were more than happy to take advantage of the space they were given out wide and continually looked to overload Napoli left back Juan Zuniga.

Ozil and Giroud both drifted towards Ramsey into Zuniga's zone on the right flank, forcing the Napoli left back into 1 v. 2 situations which created easy opportunities to play 1-2's around him. Sagna overlapped Ramsey intelligently meaning Arsenal consistently had a spare man open on the right channel. The Gunner's opening goal highlighted their intelligent movement down the right. Sagna received the ball on the flank. Ramsey checked back towards him on the touchline, forcing Zuniga into a wide position high up the pitch and thereby opening up space for Giroud in behind Zuniga in the channel. Giroud's wide run forced Napoli center back Miguel Britos into a wide position. He controlled Sagna's floated pass excellently with his chest. Ramsey burst in behind Zuniga with an overlapping run around the outside, dribbled towards the front post then cut it back for an unmarked Ozil to slam home at the top of the box.

For Arsenal's second, they managed to pin Napoli in on a throw in deep in the visiting side's left defensive corner of the pitch. Flamini won the ball and it fell for Giroud on the right channel. This time it was Ozil making the overlapping run past Zuniga. Giroud laid it off for Ozil then spun off his defender towards the six yard box. Ozil dribbled to the end line then cut the ball back for Giroud to finish easily at the front post.

By the final whistle, fifty percent of Arsenal's attacking moves came down the right third of the pitch. In comparison, 41% of their attacks have occurred down the right third in the Premier League this season.

Similarly, Chelsea's goals came from exploiting one of the wings. Their attacks however came down the left channel. Schurrle was given the start on the left and was instructed to keep a wide position near the touch line. Mata mostly played centrally in the #10 role with Oscar just to the right of him in a very narrow position though the two interchanged frequently. Chelsea's strategy was clear from the off- get the ball wide into Schurrle so that he could exploit the defensive weakness of Steaua's right back Daniel Georgievski. Georgievski's 1 v. 1 defending was woeful and time and again Schurrle was able to blow past him off the dribble, forcing Steaua center back Lukasz Szukala away from the Chelsea penalty area where the Blues were making dangerous runs from midfield.

For their opener, Chelsea broke quickly down the left through Schurrle who was able to easily skip around Georgievski's laughably feeble attempt at a tackle before playing the ball into the box for Eto'o. Eto'o mishit his shot but it fell kindly for Ramires who was making one of his usual lung bursting runs from deep in midfield. Chelsea's second was the result of a quick counter off a Steaua free kick. Mata provided a quick outlet pass for Ashley Cole and then played Eto'o in behind the Steau defense. His effort was saved but Georgievski put it into his own net as he was sprinting back to cover. The own goal would certainly have been embarrassing but was one rare example of the Steaua right back being unlucky rather than just bad.

In the 55th Chelsea again attacked down the left through Schurrle and again exposed Georgievski. This time he tried to close down Schurrle on the touchline near midfield. The German midfielder easily turned him and once again was free down the left channel. Schurrle played Oscar at the top of the box where he spotted Ramires making an overlapping run to his right. Ramires finished the move off with a powerful strike over the goalkeeper's arms.

Whereas Arsenal's strategy was to constantly move bodies in to the one of the channels to overload the opposition outside back and play quick 1-2's around him, Chelsea's was to clear out one of the channels to leave Schurrle with plenty of space to run at a fullback he could consistently beat with ease. In the end both strategies achieved what they were supposed to and resulted in a positive day for English clubs in the Champion's League.

Juventus 2-0 Celtic: Juve forwards exploit 2 v. 2 at the back

Juventus put in a vintage Italian performance in a 3-0 win over Celtic at Parkhead, sitting deep and organizing themselves defensively to deal with wave after wave of Celtic's frenetic attack and finishing their few forays into the attacking third with magnificent efficiency. While many an observer of this game will argue Celtic battered their Italian opposition and were unfortunate to lose in the manner they did, the Italians were prepared for this type of game and deserve loads of credit for executing their system and making it difficult for Celtic to break them down in the final third.

Celtic missed a golden chance in the first half when Ambrose, included in the starting 11 despite playing in the final of the ANC Sunday, headed straight at Buffon from 6 yards out. Aside from that, Juventus were rarely stretched at the back to the point of defending desperately- they were compact, organized and able to deal with crosses into the area.

Juventus were without Kwadwo Asamoah who was deemed unfit after playing for Ghana in the ANC third place game Saturday. He was replaced at left wing back by Federico Peluso. Vucinic and Matri partnered up front- Quagliarella, Giovinco and Anelka all had places on the bench. Elsewhere the side was as expected in their usual 3-5-2.

Neil Lennon opted for an interesting, narrow 4-3-2-1 'Christmas tree' formation. Lustig, Ambrose, Wilson and Izaguirre lined up across the back. Brown, Wanyama and Mulgrew formed a central midfield three. Mulgrew and Wanyama tended to stay deeper while Brown was given license to get into more advanced areas on the right. James Forrest and Kris Commons played narrow just in behind Gary Hooper and then would look to make runs out into the channels behind Juve's wing backs.

Neil Lennon's tinkering with his formation was a brave one but made sense given his side's intent on pressing high up the pitch. The 4-3-2-1 shape meant Juventus didn't have a spare man anywhere on the pitch when Celtic pressed and therefore made it very difficult to play out of the back. Commons and Forrest pushed on to the outside center backs Caceres and Barzagli and Hooper pressed Bonucci. Brown tracked Pirlo as he dropped in to try to collect the ball of his center backs, which left Wanyama and Mulgrew to mark Marchisio and Vidal 2 v. 2. Celtic's outside backs Lustig and Izaguirre pushed high up the pitch on to Juve's wing backs. Ambrose and Mulgrew were therefore responsible for defending Matri and Vucinic 2 v. 2 at the back.

Without a spare central defender at the back, Celtic's success was always going to depend on whether Wilson and Ambrose could win their individual battles with the Juve forwards. Against Chelsea and Shakhtar Donetsk in the group stages Juventus showed how devastating the movement of their two forwards can be against two center defenders. One forward will typically drop into midfield, forcing one of the opposition center backs to follow him into midfield and thereby opening up space for either a diagonal run from the other forward or a burst in behind from midfield by one of the shuttling midfielders Vidal or Marchisio.

With Celtic's tireless pressing denying Juve the time and space on the ball to build any patient attacks, the Italians frequently looked to play balls over the top to their forwards, confident that eventually Matri or Vucinic could win their individual battle and go through on goal. They'd have been pleasantly surprised at just how quickly the strategy came to fruition. Peluso played a simple ball over the top to Matri in the third minute. The Juve forward shrugged Ambrose aside and slotted a shot past Fraser Forster and across the goal line before it could be cleared away.

Juve's second goal highlighted the ability of their forwards to open up space for their shuttling midfielders to make runs in behind the back four. Ambrose and Wilson were again tight on Matri and Vucinic respectively. Matri checked for the ball back into midfield, forcing Ambrose to follow his run and leaving acres of space to the right of Wilson. Marchisio darted past Brown into that space and Matri provided him with a clever flick that the midfielder dutifully dispatched. You can see a screen shot of the build up to the goal below. Marchisio sees Matri making his run into midfield and immediately begins his run in behind as Peluso plays the ball into Matri.

At 2-0 the tie looked done and dusted. When Ambrose was caught in possession in the 83rd, allowing Juve to tack on a third, all doubt was erased as to Celtic's fate in the final 16.

Note: I didn't quite find the time to analyze the Juventus defense versus Celtic attack- obviously quite an important feature of the game given 40% of the game took place in Juve's defensive third. Hopefully I'll have time in the next couple days to revisit this post and add more on that.

Tactical analysis: Arsenal 2-2 Schalke

After going two goals behind in the first half, Schalke came back to pick up a deserved point against Arsenal at Veltins Arena.

Both managers played their normal 4-2-3-1 formations. Arsene Wenger gave Theo Walcott the start over Aaron Ramsey on the right. Andre Santos had a miserable night at left back when Schalke beat Arsenal 2-0 a fortnight ago so Wenger shuffled Thomas Vermaelen to left back and brought in Laurent Koscielny to play along side Per Mertersacker in the center of defense.

The only change Huub Stevens made to his team from the last time these sides met was swapping Marco Hoger with Jermaine Jones.

Early Moments
In the opening 15 minutes of the game both teams got players behind the ball defensively rather than pressing. Both back fours pushed forward towards the bank of midfielders, keeping the space the opposition had to play in very compact. The two sets of holding midfielders sat close in front of the back four and checked runs into that area. It appeared both managers were concerned about giving the opposition center attacking midfielder space in between the seams. This makes sense. Both Santi Cazorla and Lewis Holtby are clever at finding pockets of space and have the ability to pick out decisive penetrating passes. It also wasn't all that surprising both teams had set up to counter. Away from home Arsenal didn't want to open themselves up too much in the early stages and expose themselves to counters. Schalke are terrific at breaking forward quickly through Holtby, Ibrahim Afellay and Jefferson Farfan and constantly looked dangerous on the counter when the teams met in London.

It was also apparent in the early stages that Arsenal were placing responsibility on Lucas Podolski and Walcott to drop in defensively and provide help to Vermaelen and Bacary Sagna. Schalke like to get their outside backs forward and when these teams last met a fortnight ago, Podolski did a poor job tracking Uchida when he advanced forward from right back. This left Andre Santos, a left back not known for his defensive qualities, exposed to overloads with Uchida and Farfan. Farfan had found it easy to get around Santos and cut in towards the near post all evening and Schalke created a number of dangerous chances from the right. With Podolski and Walcott recovering to help defensively this time around, Farfan and Afellay did not enjoy the same amount of space on the flanks early on they had at the Emirates.

Arsenal go 2-0 up
Arsenal went up 2-0 inside half an hour without ever looking especially threatening. The opener on 16 minutes came from a comedy of errors- Neustadter's failed back header put Giroud through on goal only for the Frenchman to get his attempt on goal horribly wrong; his blushes spared however when the ball fell kindly for the trailing Walcott. Schalke were then forced to replace Uchida at right back on 25 minutes, bringing in Hoger, a midfielder by trade. Hoger's defensive weaknesses were exposed immediately. Within a minute of his introduction he was beaten easily by Podolski on the left who played in an expert cross to the front post for Giroud to head home. Neither goal was particularly indicative of an overarching tactical battle that had been emerging- the first was simply a bad mistake from Neustadter, the second poor defending from Hoger coupled with a training ground cross and finish combination from Podolski and Giroud. It should be noted however that Arsenal's second started with a move that saw Jack Wilshere receive a pass level with the Schalke back four, highlighting his ability to play as a box-to-box midfielder and join in the attack around the penalty area.

The early goals did however change the tactics for the remainder of the game. At 2-0 up away from home, Walcott and Podolski began dropping even deeper to provide defensive cover. With Schalke now forced to chase the game, they began to push the outside backs Fuchs and Hoger higher up the field. In defense, Arsenal set up in a 4-4-1-1 with Walcott and Podolski picking up Fuchs and Hoger. Everything seemed to be going right for the Gunners. Their more defensive shape prevented Schalke from doing what they do best- counter attack. When they won possession back they looked to find Cazorla in pockets of space in front of the center backs where he could turn and start counterattacks. Walcott and Podolski tried use their pace to advanced past Fuchs and Hoger down the channels, leaving the Schalke center backs scrambling to defend the width of the pitch. Arsenal didn't get many opportunities to counter but their defensive shape was forcing Schalke to play the ball horizontally in midfield and the German side didn't look particularly threatening.

Schalke's opener in first half stoppage time was such a blow because it came at a time when Arsenal were defending rather comfortably and on a move in which it appeared they were set to execute their plan and launch a counter through Cazorla. Arteta won the ball off Schalke at his own 18 and found Cazorla in space between the Schalke midfield and center backs. The Spaniard lost his footing however (he did several times throughout the night) and Schalke recovered the ball with the Arsenal defense out of shape. Holtby received a waist high pass at the edge of the 18 that he laid down brilliantly for Huntelaar to tuck home. Defending a one goal lead was never going to be an easy task for Arsenal in the second half.

Second Half
Schalke were very adventurous with the positioning of their outside backs to start the second half. Podolski and Walcott continued to drop in deep but Fuchs and Hoger would still at times advance past them. Afellay and Farfan were dangerous when they got on the ball and cut inside, creating room for overlapping runs from the outside backs. Schalke's equalizer came when Walcott had drifted infield to help defend the middle of the park. The ball went wide to an unmarked Fuchs. Sagna felt the need to close him down quickly (maybe not the best option as Fuchs was still 45 yards from goal), leaving empty space down the left channel for Afellay to run into. Mertesacker elected not to leave his position in the box and instead allowed Afellay to pick his head up and fire a cross into the box. It found Hotby who headed it into the path of Farfan for the goal. Once again defending the channels had proved Arsenal's undoing.

After the equalizer both sides seemed content with the draw and the final 20 minutes were fairly uneventful.

Neither manager used his substitutions to alter the game. Stevens was forced into replacing his right back twice when Uchida and Hoger both went down to injury. Wenger didn't make a change until the 90th minute.

Tactics recap: Juventus 2-2 Chelsea

Most journalists and commentators will likely say this evening's 2-2 Champions League draw between Juventus and Chelsea was a fair result. In truth, the west Londoners were probably a bit fortunate to emerge with the home point on the balance play. Chelsea opened a two goal first half lead through a pair of Oscar goals inside two minutes of each other. However, after drawing a goal back late in the first half through Arturo Vidal, the Italian side dominated the second and although they finished the game with fewer shots on goal, they generally looked more threatening going forward. Chelsea looked vulnerable to balls played in behind the back four throughout the evening and ultimately conceded the equalizer when Fabio Quagliarella was able to time his run and finish a break away to complete the two goal comeback.

Both teams lined up in their usual formations- Juventus set out in a 3-5-2 while Chelsea opted for a 4-2-3-1. Chelsea, reacting to the creative threat of Andrea Pirlo from the base of the Juventus midfield, made one significant lineup change we've not seen from the Blues thus far. Oscar was brought in to play centrally just behind Torres, making his first Chelsea start, while Eden Hazard was shifted to the left. Oscar is a better tackler than Hazard and more used to being given some defensive responsibility. Roberto Di Matteo clearly told the young Brazilian to remain close to Pirlo to deny Juventus the distribution channel of their most clever passer. Oscar performed the task well. Pirlo never really had a huge impact on the game.

With Juventus's narrow center back three, Chelsea were able to enjoy some success in the first half when Hazard and Ramires were able to get the ball in the channels behind Juve's wing backs Stephan Lichtsteiner and Kwaswo Asamoah. When the wing backs were able to track back Ramires and Hazard, the Chelsea wide players were able to drift inside and create space for unmarked overlapping runs from outside backs Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic. The problems for Chelsea came when they got the ball in these areas and needed to find a penetrating pass. All three of Juventus's center backs were able to stay narrow near their 18 yard box and usually had only Fernando Torres to worry about defending. Asking Torres to get on the end of a cross or through ball in a 1 v. 3 situation was a difficult ask and the Spaniard had a frustrating night. Oscar's goals were from solid individual efforts but weren't attributable to Chelsea's tactics.

With Pirlo largely taken out of the game by Oscar, Juventus were forced to get their attacks started elsewhere. They enjoyed success from two main channels. With two forwards, Juve were able to occupy both Chelsea center backs. Mirko Vucinic would check back deeper to the ball, forcing one Chelsea center back to follow him and allowing Sebastian Giovinco to move laterally into the space created Vucinic. Giovinco had a poor game and was ultimately subbed for Quaglierella. Quaglierella continued making these lateral runs into space and ultimately got in behind Chelsea's defense and converted a 1 v. 1 with Cech. Juve's other main attacking threat came from their more advanced center midfielders Vidal and Claudio Marchisio. The two were able to make darting runs into towards the 18 that Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel had a nightmare of a time dealing with. The combined well for Juventus's opening goal.

Chelsea were also particularly poor at keeping possession in the second half. They wanted to sit deep and keep possession to kill the clock off but through a combination of Juventus's higher pressing and their own sloppiness they struggled to ever dictate the tempo. Mikel's giveaway that led to Juve's second goal is noteworthy but he was hardly the only one guilty of squandering possession.

The Italians will be more pleased with the away point but they were the more impressive side throughout the bulk of the match.