Hello and welcome to Retro Football Analysis, a website dedicated to providing modern day analysis of classic games from the past.
We will use a variety of different audio and visual mediums to provide you with top quality analysis that bring famous games to life, delving deeper into the performance and using context to better help our understanding.
Here are our website owners and primary content providers.
Alistair and Stewart have extensive experience in football coaching and analysis, both of whom have been part of multiple title winning teams and aided the development of players who perform at the professional level throughout the world.
Alistair had this to say regarding the launch of Retro Football Analysis:
“I love watching classic games in my spare time, so now having the opportunity analyze them in greater depth is something I look forward to greatly. We are confident that we can provide a platform that is both engaging and educational, and will also serve to help those who seek to gain a greater understanding of how our game has evolved into what we see today.”
Stewart added this:
“Both Alistair and I believe that we can use games from the past to help our own development as coaches. By shining a light on classic teams and managers, many of whom aren’t given the credit they are due, it gives us a new perspective on how we frame analysis of our own team dynamic. With these things in mind we believe we have created a platform that will offer help to football professionals, but more importantly provide all readers with an enjoyable experience a pleasant trip down memory lane.”
You too can join our analysis team by reaching out to either Stewart or Alistair via their twitter handles listed above.
Rangers build up play focused on short passes in the lower to middle third of the field, moving the ball quickly to draw forward pressure from Leeds thus pulling them from their set defensive structure, with the goal of creating attacking space to carry or pass the ball into in wide areas. McCall formed the deeper of the central midfield roles, with Ian Ferguson the naturally more attacking of the two and more progressive with his passes. Rangers would also pull the creative forces of Ian Durrant and Trevor Steven into central areas, giving Rangers an extra man when rotating the ball from left to right or building through the thirds, but both players were also strong in progressing the ball forward on the dribble and creating penetrative passes into the final third.
Attacking Full Backs
During moments of build up play we would often see Rangers overload one side of the field, only to quickly spring an attack on the opposite side of the field by switching play to find the attacking movement of the opposite side full back. McPherson’s right back role was far more functional in attack, often looking to play crosses into the box where possible, whereas Robertson’s lightning pace allowed him to penetrate space in the final 3rd to receive a through ball and cross from the end line. Robertson is also very comfortable in receiving the ball on the same line as the midfielders and drive forward to shoot from distance.
Target Man Play
Rangers were blessed with one of the most prolific strike partnerships in all of European football at this time. Ally McCoist and Mark Hateley would end the 92/93 season with a combined 78 goals (49 and 29 respectively). Rangers natural target striker would be Mark Hateley who’s commanding presence in the air was a constant threat to the Leeds back line throughout the game. Hateley would position himself on the high line in the center, or just off to the right between the center back and full back, therefore maximizing the distance he has to attack the ball in the air, but also increasing the floor space has to link play into deep lying runners should they find his feet. McCoist would predominantly work in behind Hateley after a flick on, be McCoist was also adept at dropping just underneath Hateley to provide a further linking option, thus acting as the perfect foil for midfield runners such as Durrant and Ferguson who liked to attack the central spaces in behind the opposition’s midfield line.
Ian Durrant was a constant threat throughout the match for Rangers, attacking the inside spaces with forward runs to support the attack, but his most impressive attribute was how effectively he carried the ball during counter attacks. His progressive movements allowed McCoist and Hateley to get into good attacking positions, but as the opposition narrowed to close down the central spaces it also freed up areas for the full backs to attack into and create crossing opportunities.
Leeds Tactical Set Up
Build Up Play
Leeds favored a narrow midfield shape, much like that of Rangers, however the midfield roles were slightly different to that of their counter parts. Gary McAllister’s movement to pull out into the channels and build forward was exceptional, added to this his passing range was superb. David Batty was the more combative central midfielder, however his aggression also came in progressive dribbles forward, often carrying his team forward 20-30 yards at a time. Gary Speed’s craft on the left allowed him to drift between the flank and the inside channels to link with Cantona, but his athleticism and dynamic attack play was a threat throughout the match. At 35 Strachan still maintained the agility to find central spaces consistently, more often than not evading his pressure, which then brought about crosses into the box or attack play via a dribble and shot on his own. In addition to midfield creativity Tony Dorigo was a strong attacking presence from left back, often working with Gary Speed to advance into wide areas should the Welshman move inside. His quality deliveries were also designed to allow Chapman and Cantona to attack the box where possible.
Target Man Play
Leeds overall attack play was very functional, with Lee Chapman forming the focal point of the attack and would look to win his aerial duels after a long kick form keeper John Lukic or a ball out the back from Whyte or Fairclough. Eric Cantona & Gary Speed would act as a foil to Chapman’s headers, making attacking movements to benefit from the knock downs or flick ons, thus creating attacks for each other or shooting on goal themselves.
Given the athleticism of players like Whyte, Fairclough, Newsome, Speed, Chapman & Cantona, allied to the quality of deliveries that Gordon Strachan could produce, Leeds were a constant threat throughout the game from set plays. 5 of Leeds 12 attacks within the game would come from this area of play, however there were many more that would simply apply pressure onto the Rangers rearguard and force another turn over in play.
As mentioned during build up, the quality of Batty & Speed to quickly carry the ball into attacking transition was remarkable. When we also add the passing range of Strachan and McAllister it adds another dimension to the game whereby their opponents always have to have one eye on balancing their attacking numbers, constantly living in fear that a turn over could spark a Leeds attack on goal.
Value of Chances
The Leeds United goal in the early moments engendered a trading of blows in the first half that would see Rangers assume control of the attack play for 10-15 minutes but then strike when the iron was hot with a critical goal. Each goal would see Leeds United recover and close the gap, only for it to widen once again in the closing 15 minutes as Rangers finished with a flurry of chances.
With Rangers recording almost double the attacks in the match, its interesting the see the overall value of these efforts come in with a similar overall xG (Chance valuation). When we delve deeper we see that each side would be presented with 1 big chance in the match, (“Big Chance” Opta Def: A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score, usually in a one on one scenario or from very close range when the ball has a clear path to goal), however it was only Rangers who were able to capitalize upon that big chance when McCoist would notch their second goal of the game from inside the 6 yard box. The other big uptick on the xG timeline for Rangers came in the form of a John Lukic own goal, a chance in which the Leeds keeper would punch the ball into his own net. Leeds would create three attacks in the match that would score highly in terms of probability and contributed greatly to their xG, yet it was a chance from the edge of the box they did take (Gary McAllister’s strike on 2 minutes) which was graded as one of the lowest scoring, yet would give Leeds a lifeline in the tie headed into the second leg.
Type of Chances Created
Rangers would create 17 of their 21 attacks from Key Passes, and based on their general build up style of fashioning efforts through the center, we can see that this translates into lots of key passes coming from the midfield area (middle vertical third). We also see that many of these passes came from within the width of the 18 yard box, which would allow for the full backs to get into advanced areas.
Further to this we also see that 11 of the 21 attacks came during build up play, which helps us understand how effective Rangers were in executing their game plan to create attacks by exploiting spaces and creating attacks during open play. When examining how Rangers faired in converting their attacks into efforts on target we have to look at Corners as being their most effective route to goal. They would convert 3 on target from 4 efforts, returning them the two goals which brought about the victory.
The most effective method of creating a shot on goal for Rangers came from a Switch Pass (passing sideways to open up the play horizontally) and a Cross, both of which brought about 2 shots on target from 4 attacks created.
Leeds would only create 7 of their 12 attacks from Key Passes, which when we overlay this against the key pass locations we see that they created 5 highly rated attacks around the 18 yard box. While on the surface this looks like a solid return, we also found that none of these attacks would end up with a shot on target, therefore it would suggest that chance conversion was the bigger issue on the night. Using more functional attack play, creating attacks from flick ons and working off a second ball, is always far more risky in a team’s ability to create solid chances, which tonight very much proved to be the case with only 3 of the 12 attacks hitting the target overall, none of which Leeds created for themselves.
Where Chances are Created
When we assess the relatively small margin in difference of xG in the match it brings us back some interesting results. Rangers would create almost double the amount of chances in which to generate a similar xG (21 shots vs 12), so we could assume that Rangers were wasteful and Leeds more effective in front of goal. As xG only accounts for the location of shots, when we examine the value from the shots on target it shows us that Rangers returned 49% of their xG from shots on target, whereas Leeds on the other hand could only return 14% of their xG on target.
By looking at the Shot locations we can assess performacne further, starting with both teams shooting from distance. While it brought about a fairly poor return from both sides, with Rangers attempting 12 shots and Leeds United 7, both of which recording 2 shots on target from distance, it was the shots inside the box that would illustrate the key differentiator in this match.
If we examine chances inside the box we can look at those within the Golden Zone (Central portion of the 18 yard box) to better understand scoring probability. Each side would create 5 attacks inside the golden zone, however their fortunes were drastically different. Leeds United would only hit the target through 1 of those 5 efforts, with two chances being blocked and two further chances missing the target all together. Rangers would return 4 of the 5 Golden Zone efforts on target, with two chances being saved by Leeds United keeper Lukic, and two more finding the net. This turned out to be the critical point in evaluating both teams performances on the night, and it would set up the second leg perfectly given how important the goals return would become for both sides.
Who Created Chances
Ally McCoist would finish as Rangers best statistical attacker, taking part in 4 attacks on his own and creating 2 more for his teammates. His 4 attacks would generate 1 goal, and his personal xG for the match would 0.66, almost 35% of his teams overall attacking value.
Ian Durrant would finish as Rangers best statistical creator with 5 key passes, two of which turning into shots on target, and a goal assist which would open the scoring (A corner swung in and punched into his own net by Leeds United’s John Lukic).
Gary McAllister was Leeds United best statistical attacker, recording four shots on goal with an xG of 0.16. Only one of these efforts hit the target, but what a hit it would be as it rifled into the top corner and gave Leeds a vital away goal.
Leeds United’s best statistical creator gave slim pickings, however Eric Cantona tops the table with 2 key passes. One of these chances turned out to be Leeds only Big Chance of the game, as Cantona set up Lee Chapman for a front post effort that he sent wide.
Why not check out the Match Report from this match? CLICK HERE to do so.
Rangers seized the upper hand in the UEFA Champions League ‘Battle of Britain’ against English champions Leeds United with a 2-1 first leg victory in front of a raucous home crowd. Gary McAllister had stunned Ibrox with a 2nd minute volley, before a calamitous error from goalkeeper John Lukic leveled the scores and Ally McCoist completed the comeback to give Rangers the 2-1 edge ahead of the second leg.
Scottish champions Rangers entered this game having already improved on their Champions League performance the previous season, where they were beaten on away goals by Sparta Prague in the opening round despite 2 goals from McCoist. This time out, the Glasgow club disposed of Danish champions Lyngby by an aggregate score of 3-0 in the first round with goals from Mark Hateley, Pieter Huistra and Ian Durrant.
Rangers entered this game leading the Scottish Premier League and riding a streak of 12 consecutive victories in domestic and European play, with star striker McCoist in red hot form having netted 24 goals in 19 games.
Both teams were bound by the new rule that meant a team can field no more than 3 foreign born and 2 ‘assimilated’ players in a European fixture. Rangers fielded Englishmen Hateley and Trevor Steven, while Dutch international winger Huistra was named on the bench.
McCoist partnered Hateley up front in a 4-4-2 shape, while Durrant was joined by Ian Ferguson in midfield and Scotland international goalkeeper Andy Goram anchored the defense.
Leeds United had not competed in Europe the previous season, but did make history by becoming the last English First Division champions before the competition’s rebranding as the Premier League. The title defense was not going well, with Leeds having won only 4 of their opening 12 league games ahead of this trip north of the border.
Worse news for the traveling Leeds fan base was their team’s form away from Elland Road, where Leeds had failed to pick up a win in 8 fixtures, conceding 19 goals over that span.
Navigating the opening round of this tournament had also not been short of drama for Leeds, who came through a highly controversial tie with Stuttgart. After a 3-0 loss in Germany, Leeds almost produced a miraculous second leg comeback with a 4-1 win at Elland Road in the return leg. It seemed Stuttgart had advanced on the away goals rule, only for events to take a dramatic twist after the final whistle.
Stuttgart admitted to UEFA that they had fielded an ineligible player in the second leg at Elland Road. After a lengthy deliberation from the governing body, it was ruled that Leeds would be reinstated into the tournament, and the two clubs would face each other in a playoff game on neutral ground.
In a game played at FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou, Leeds would advance courtesy of a 77th minute winning goal Carl Shutt who had been introduced as a second half substitute.
Lee Chapman and mercurial Frenchman Eric Cantona formed the front line in a 4-4-2 shape for Leeds, with 33-year old veteran Chapman having scored 9 goals so far on the season, Veteran Scottish duo McAllister and Gordon Strachan featured in midfield for Leeds to complete the foreign born trio allowed, while Welshman Gary Speed on the left flank was an assimilated player.
It was the back line that was proving the weakness of Leeds so far this campaign, and an injury to stalwart right back Mel Sterland forced Chris Fairclough to play out of position as cover, while Jon Newsome slotted in next to Chris Whyte at center back.
In a hostile atmosphere, Leeds went on the front foot early when a long throw from David Batty was headed behind by Richard Gough to concede a corner. The resulting corner would be converted into a dream start for the visiting English team.
The corner from Strachan was driven to the near post area where David Robertson headed clear, only for McAllister to meet the ball on the edge of the penalty area and fire a magnificent volley into the top corner of the net.
Rangers responded immediately and had a penalty appeal at the other end when a high ball was lifted into the penalty area. Hateley headed it to strike partner McCoist who went down under contact from Whyte, only for Belgian referee Alphonse Costantin to wave away the Rangers protests.
In front of a raucous crowd and in charge of 22 fired up players, Constantin produced a strong performance and had little time for the kind of dissent given to referees in the modern day game.
A high octane start to the game continued as Leeds left back Tony Dorigo drove down the flank and delivered a cross towards Cantona, but the French striker failed to find Speed with his knockdown.
Leeds came forward again and Speed came inside to link with Chapman before spreading the ball to Strachan out on the right wing. Strachan settled the ball before sending over a cross that was headed behind by Ferguson for another corner.
The clever movement of left midfielder Speed was effective for the visitors, with the Welshman showing the ability to drive to the byline off the dribble, and also float inside to support the strikers while left back Dorigo overlapped to provide the width.
Strachan sent the corner to the near post area and it was headed clear before Leeds recycled the attack and McCoist conceded yet another corner when he put in a sliding challenge on Strachan.
The visitors appeared to be targeting the near post area at set plays, with towering striker Chapman occupying that area while defender Whyte also made runs into the space in front of goalkeeper Goram as Strachan whipped crosses in. Another unconvincing defensive header found its way to Newsome from this corner and the defender guided a header wide at the back post.
Rangers had plenty of attacking intent of their own, and came forward in the 10th minute when Ferguson switched the point of attack to find an onrushing Robertson. The left back took a touch before driving a shot wide of the goalpost.
Soon after, Stuart McCall carried the ball up the right flank for Rangers before playing a pass to McCoist, the striker teed up Ferguson who fired a shot well wide of the target.
The physical presence, holdup play and aerial prowess of Rangers target man Hateley was causing problems for the Leeds defense, and came into play again when Durrant lifted a ball into the penalty area. Hateley headed it to fellow striker McCoist, only for Lukic to come off his line quickly and smother the attack.
The home team kept up the pressure and Steven lifted a cross into the penalty area towards Hateley, only for Fairclough to intervene and head behind for a corner.
Rangers would take full advantage of the corner kick and level the scores in the 21st minute courtesy of a calamitous error from Lukic. Durrant whipped an inswinging cross into the 6 yard box, and goalkeeper Lukic came off his line only to skew the punch back into his own goal as Dorigo desperately tried to clear it.
With the crowd buoyed, Rangers came forward again when Ferguson played in McCoist down the right channel, and the forward won a corner when his cross was blocked by Newsome.
Rangers tried a different approach from this corner, with Steven driving a lofted pass to the edge of the penalty area where Ferguson hammered a volley wide of the post. Ferguson pushed forward into a shooting position again just minutes later, but again guided his effort wide.
The home side were coming forward in waves and Durrant carried the attack before being tackled by Newsome 20 yards out from goal. The ball fell to Steven who fired a shot that was deflected on its way into the hands of Lukic.
Durrant was a driving force for Rangers, and won his team a corner when he carried the ball forward and exchanged passes with target man Hateley before winning a corner under a challenge from Strachan. Durrant took the corner but his driven cross was hoofed clear of danger by Leeds midfielder McAllister.
Durrant was soon involved on the wrong end of things for his team, when he was dispossessed by Strachan who drove forward and chipped a shot that landed in the hands of Goram.
A thoroughly entertaining game continued at a high pace and Whyte teed up Speed who took a touch into the penalty area before his shot was deflected behind for a corner.
Leeds continued with their strategy of whipping a cross into the near post area from the corner and were inches away from taking the lead again when Whyte flicked on to Newsome who headed the ball against the goalpost. The attack was recycled but Strachan’s eventual shot past Goram was nullified by an offside flag. Soon after, Leeds defender Whyte pumped a high ball forward that bounced around the penalty area before falling to McAllister who blasted a shot over the crossbar.
Rangers won a free kick 30 yards out when Durrant played a pass forward to Hateley who was fouled by Fairclough. McCall rolled the free kick to Ferguson who shot on target this time, but his effort was saved by Lukic. After his pivotal error, Lukic was doing his best to make amends, and was called into action again a minute later to tip a Robertson shot over the crossbar.
The pressure would tell again eventually and Rangers completed the turnaround from the resulting corner in the 38th minute. Dave McPherson rose to meet Steven’s corner and his header was saved by Lukic, only for the rebound to fall at the feet of McCoist who stabbed it home to send the Ibrox crowd into raptures.
The clever movement of McCoist was tough for the Leeds back four to come to terms with all game, and he latched onto a Steven ball forward into the penalty area and took a touch before firing wide.
The visiting back four continued to struggle and Fairclough attempted to intercept a Robertson throw in, only for the ball to fall to Durrant who curled a shot wide from the edge of the penalty area.
Leeds manager Howard Wilkinson would have been desperate for the halftime whistle to arrive as his team continued to creak under the pressure. Durrant split the defense with a through ball to overlapping left back Robertson who had his cross headed high into the air by Whyte, before Lukic claimed it and walked a tightrope on the goal line to avoid conceding a corner.
With the home team now fully in the ascension, the attacks kept coming and McCall sliced through the defense before skewing a shot wide of the target. Rangers soon came again and Durrant sprayed a pass out wide to an onrushing McPherson. Right back McPherson fed Steven, and the resulting cross was half cleared before falling to McPherson who had his shot blocked by Speed. Midfielder Batty finished the job and punted the ball clear before the halftime whistle blew to the doubtless relief of the Leeds players.
The central positions adopted in attack by left midfielder Speed were effective going forward for Leeds throughout the first half in particular, but came at the expense of allowing space to attack down the same flank for Rangers right back McPherson and Steven in front of him.
Leeds boss Wilkinson had a big job to do during the interval, and would be looking for his back four to tighten up and keep the tie on a knife edge with the second leg still to come at Elland Road.
Rangers manager Walter Smith would have been looking to keep up the attacking momentum after the restart, while also staying tight at the back to avoid conceding another potentially crucial away goal.
Neither team made any substitutions at the interval, and unsurprisingly it was Rangers who came forward first in the second half. Durrant played in Steven only for Lukic to come off his line sharply and save at the strikers feet before Strachan swept up and cleared the rebound.
The first attack of the second half for Leeds came courtesy of a familiar buildup pattern when Speed floated inside before feeding Dorigo on the overlap. Dorigo’s deflected cross fell to the feet of Batty who had his shot blocked.
England international midfielder Batty was a key figure for Leeds in the game, showing the ability to connect passes going forward while also being a key defensive presence as McAllister, Speed and Strachan all pushed on in attack.
Left back Dorigo was becoming a key figure as Leeds chased an equalizer and surged forward again in the 56th minute, dribbling past Steven and Ferguson before launching a shot over the crossbar.
Leeds came forward down the opposite flank minutes later and Cantona’s cross was cleared only as far as McAllister who skewed a shot wide.
Rangers left back Robertson made a raid forward of his own and sent in a cross that was just out of the reach of Hateley and Speed knocked it behind for a corner. Steven drove in a low cross from the corner that was hacked away by Dorigo before Rangers recycled the attack. Steven was the provider again and lifted in a cross to McCoist who chested it down for Ferguson who fired a shot off target.
Despite the high stakes at play, the game remained wide open and Speed released Cantona down the left channel. The French striker chipped a cross to Chapman who met the ball at the near post and directed a shot wide.
The influential Durrant broke forward yet again in the 65th minute and skipped past a weak tackle from Cantona before crossing to McCoist who headed straight into the hands of Lukic.
Leeds won a free kick 30 yards out when Chapman was fouled by McPherson challenging for a high ball forward. Strachan’s high ball into the penalty area found its way to Cantona who fired an acrobatic volley over the crossbar.
McAllister drove the attack forward for Leeds and swapped passes with target man Chapman before referee Costantin called no foul after the midfielder went to ground under a challenge from Durrant.
Rangers manager Smith made the first substitution of the game in the 75th minute, replacing Steven with Huistra on the left flank. Huistra was involved immediately and released Robertson in behind who set up McCoist to fire a shot over the bar.
The home team won an attacking free kick when McCoist took a touch past Newsome before being brought down by the defender. A short free kick was worked to Ferguson who drilled a low shot wide.
Leeds made their first substitution of the game in the 79th minute when Cantona was replaced by Rod Wallace as the visitors searched for an equalizing goal.
Rangers substitute Huistra was making his presence felt on the left wing and sent in a cross that was headed behind by Newsome for a corner. Durrant sent over an inswinging cross from the corner but Leeds midfielder McAllister was there first to head clear.
McAllister was soon involved on the attacking end of things and collected a pass from Robertson before firing a shot from distance over the crossbar.
Rangers had the chance to land a hammer blow in the 86th minute when McCall drove through the midfield before releasing Hateley clean in on goal. A recovering Newsome put Hateley under pressure before the striker’s weak finish was comfortably saved by Lukic.
Wilkinson made his second and final substitution as the game entered its final stages, replacing Strachan with David Rocastle.
Leeds still had defending to do, and Huistra came forward on the left wing once more and whipped in a cross that Hateley headed well wide. The visitors won a free kick from the resulting goal kick when Chapman was fouled by Gough during an aerial challenge. Dorigo lofted the ball forward only for Gough to clear, before a second cross by Batty was cleared by Hateley.
An offside call gave Newsome one more chance to loft a ball forward for Leeds, before John Brown headed clear and the final whistle blew on an absorbing and hard fought encounter.
Rangers would have been pleased to be taking a 2-1 lead into the second leg at Elland Road, with their strike partnership of Hateley and McCoist having proved capable of giving Leeds all they could handle. Before the second leg, a home game against Motherwell was on deck for the Scottish champions as they looked to build upon their sizable lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League.
Leeds would be happy to have scored an away goal, which allowed for the possibility of a 1-0 win in the return leg to see them advance on away goals. For that to happen however, Wilkinson would need to galvanize a back four that was shipping goals and had been troubled time and again at Ibrox. Ahead of the second leg, Leeds would be looking to get their league title defense back on track in games against Queens Park Rangers and Coventry City.
The second leg would doubtless be as hard fought and intense as this fixture, with both teams fighting for not only bragging rights in Britain, but the prestige and sizable financial boost of a place in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League.
2’ LEE Gary McAllister (Gordon Strachan) 0-1
21’ RAN John Lukic OG (Ian Durrant) 1-1
38’ RAN Ally McCoist (Dave McPherson) 2-1
MAN OF THE MATCH
#11 CM Ian Durrant (Rangers FC) – All action performance in the heart of midfield from Durrant, who forced the error from Lukic that tied the scores before driving the attack forward again and again. Also contributed on the defensive end, winning tackles and tracking runs to dull the threat of a quality Leeds midfield.
1: CM Ian Durrant – Man of the Match.
2: CF Ally McCoist – A thorn in the side of Leeds throughout the game, McCoist buzzed around into pockets of space before capping a quality performance with the game winning goal.
3: RD Dave McPherson – Good defensive performance against a livewire opponent in Speed, McPherson also joined the attack on the right flank to good effect, and his header on target resulted in the rebound that McCoist tucked away.
1: CM Gary McAllister – Opened the game with a magnificent goal and remained influential throughout, showcasing clever movement and passing range to drive the Leeds attack.
2: LM Gordon Strachan – High energy performance on both ends of the ball from Strachan who caused problems for the ‘Gers while also tracking back to support Fairclough.
3: CM David Batty – Strong defensive presence in a Leeds midfield that sent bodies forward in search of goals consistently throughout the game.
Rangers UCL Review 92/93:
Stew and Ally kick off this series analyzing Glasgow Rangers historic 1992/93 Champions League campaign, by breaking down the 1st leg of the 1st round tie against Leeds United. Among other things they discuss how the UEFA Champions League would be formed, a look back at how each sides qualified for the 1st round, and what this would all mean headed into the game.
To give us some context on the data here is a quick overview of each team:
Newcastle Attacking Structure
Newcastle set up in a 442 system defensively, but would morph into a 4132 in attack in periods of the game, with Batty holding the space infront of the back four and the remaining midfielders narrowing.
Dahl Tomasson worked between the lines to link the game more and was a decent foil for Asprilla, who’s ability to lead the line was really on another level.
Beresford was more attacking in his movements than Barton, however with Barnes often moving inside like a central midfielder it gave Beresford the spaces to advance forward into.
Lee would attack from deep in this match, often running beyond the line of the ball to stretch the central space when the ball was in wide areas.
Barcelona Attacking Structure
Barcelona’s 433 was almost a mirror image of the current Manchester City set up, which on paper was a 433, however through the prism of a positional play model.
Both full backs would narrow to form a three man screen alongside Ivan de la Pena, in front of Nadal and Celades. De La Pena build up play was very positive, looking to play penetrative passes into Rivaldo or Enrique where available, as they’d typically position themselves in advanced areas between Newcastle’s lines.
Amunike was more of a true winger and would stretch the left wing space consistently, however Figo started wide and would drift inside and being replaced with Luis Enrique who’d peel wide, providing a rotation that was hard to pick up.
Anderson dropped to link the game like a false 9, peeling into the spaces between the lines and enticing the Newcastle center backs to come out and press the ball.
WHAT DO THE NUMBERS TELL US?
Value of Chances
While Barcelona would record just over double the amount of attacks than that of their opponents, it would take until the 73rd minute for them to surpass Newcastle in the overall valuation of their attack play. The first thirty minutes was a cagey and tentative match, seeing 4 attacks in total (between both teams) whereas after this initial period of feeling their way into the game it would be Barcelona who would launch attacks on a far more consistent basis, yet it was the hosts who’d attack in a far more clinical nature, scoring 2 goals from only 4 1st half attacks.
There is a period between the 55th and 75th minute that we could argue the hosts rode their luck, as Barcelona would unleash a blitz of attacks that would total what Newcastle created in the entire match.
This is where Newcastle’s performance really comes to the fore, as they would create 3 big chances in the match from only 11 attacks, and all of which would result in a goal. In a match where Newcastle were probably expected to have less of the ball, the way they advanced forward on the counter and were able to foster attacks on target was impressive, but more so was their ability to turn these efforts into goals at key times.
Barcelona would only create 1 big chance in the match, an effort which also resulted in a goal, but their overall attack play did see a solid amount of upticks. There were a decent amount of blocked efforts, which perhaps suggests they weren’t able to make the best use of the attacking space available to them, albeit compacted by the Newcastle defence, but overall Barcelona matched their actual goals with their xG numbers, which often suggests a fair outcome.
Type of Chances Created
Examining Newcastle’s approach play it is almost immediately apparent that they favored counter attack play through Keith Gillespie on the right wing. Further to that I’d also add in that Gillespie was up against arguably one of the most athletic players on the field, Barjuan Sergi, who was almost always in a defensive tussle with the Northern Irish winger. This shows us that not only has Gillespie performed well, but done so under sever duress from an International level defender. Gillespie would create 4 key passes from crosses into the box, all highlighted in black from the right wing area, with three of these creating attacks on target, and two of these efforts resulting in a goal. Overall from Newcastle’s 8 Key Passes (creative movements that would result in a shooting opportunity for a teammate) we’d see 4 of them hit the target, which is a solid return considering they’d only have 11 attacks overall.
Barcelona’s key pass locations would be more spread out, however a sizeable portion would also come from the right hand side. This side was manged by Figo in the first half, but in the second we’d see more actions from substitute Ciric in this area, as well as Luis Enrique pulling into the wide area to create movements to goal.
Given Barcelona’s patient approach play its not surprising that 10 of their Key passes would be created by passages of build up play, however in terms of efficency we’d actually see a better return on counter attacks. From Build up only 3 of the 10 creative actions would result in a shot on target, where as 2 of the 5 counter attacks would test Shay Given in the Newcastle net. Barcelona’s set up play saw 6 key passes coming from short ball movements, either a set back or a cut back, but they’d also cross the ball 5 times to create attacks, albeit a decent majority of these came from their sizeable set piece attack play.
While it was apparent that Barcelona opted for territory over penetration in their approach play, this at times did leave them very vulnerable on the counter, and the next set of stats will underline that further.
Where Chances are Created
With a player of Rivaldo’s quality in the team, its inevitable that there will be shots from distance in the match, but we’d also see Luis Figo and Luis Enrique chip in with some speculative efforts. The evidence for attempting these strikes is brought forward by the Figo goal late in the game, as the Newcastle defenders arguably blocked any vision the keeper may have had in order to make a save. Overall Barcelona’s performance was in line with their xG, which shows us that their output matched it’s xG value. Yet if we look at the xG from the attacks on target, it shows us that they’ve probably done well to get two goals, especially as the 2nd goal from Figo had such low probability.
If we analyze Barcelona’s performance inside the box, we see that of their 9 attacks 8 of them came from inside the golden zone (central portion of the 18 yard box). 8 golden zone efforts is a solid return in a single game, however only 3 of these would hit the target, two being saved and one turning in a goal.
Overall Barcelona would have 23 shots in total, with only 7 of these testing the keeper, a number that perhaps suggests poor performance somewhere along the line. Yet we also have to consider that 10 of these 23 efforts were blocked by Newcastle, this shows a desire from the hosts to get close to their opponents and make life hard for them. We can of course debate whether Barcelona’s approach play was good enough, but something we cannot deny is how Barcelon’as positioning in attack would leave them open to the movements of Gillespie and Asprilla, both of whom would punish Barcelona for their inability to transition defensively with any real purpose.
7 of Newcastles shots on goal would come from inside the box, with the highest % of these shots (3 from 7) coming from counter attack opportunities. Asprilla was deadly inside the box, showing terrific movement and an unstoppable leap to head home a cross not once, but on two separate occasions. In each of these three counter attacks which ended inside the box Asprilla would test the keeper, with the first of which resulting a goal.
Overall Newcastle would see their efforts on target level out by some missed opportunities from distance (11 attacks overall, 5 on target and 6 off target), but even with that considered their xG on target score was exceptional. 77% of Newcastle’s xG value came from efforts on target, bearing in mind that xG is calculated by the position of the shot not the outcome, the xGOT gives us a better understanding of a teams efficiency infront of goal. In comparison we see that Barcelona’s xGot accounts for only 38% of their xG coming from efforts on target, it hopefully now gives us a better picture of how impressive this display from Newcastle really was.
Who Created Chances
Newcastle’s best statistical attacker in the match was never in doubt, and is awarded to Faustino Asprilla. His tour de force performance saw him record 8 of Newcastle’s 11 attacks, 5 of which were on target and returned 3 goals. His personal xG was 1.457 for the match, which accounts for 86% of Newcastle’s overall xG value.
Barcelona’s highest statistical performer was Rivaldo, who also wracked up the attacks in the game. He would better Asprilla by recording 10 attacks overall, and a further two key passes for his teammates. Even though only 3 of these attacking efforts would result in a shot on target, he’d contribute a personal xG score of 0.825 and play a considerable role in Barcelona’s comeback into the match.
Using our very own Retro Football Analysis Match Simulator, we use the probability rating of each attack to calculate the odds of the matches outcome. Here are the results we got back.
Why not check out the Match Report from this match? CLICK HERE to do so.
Newcastle United got their UEFA Champions League campaign off to a flying start with a thrilling 3-2 win over UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup holders FC Barcelona at St. James’ Park. A spectacular hat-trick from Colombian striker Faustino Asprilla powered the home side into a 3-0 lead, before second half replies from Luis Enrique and Luis Figo made the home crowd nervous as the Toon Army held on to claim all three points.
Newcastle had qualified for this tournament with a second placed finish in Premier League play the previous season, when striker Alan Shearer led the way with 28 goals in all competitions. They then navigated the second qualifying round of this tournament in dramatic fashion when a 119th minute extra time goal from Temuri Ketsbaia proved the decisive strike in a 4-3 aggregate victory against Croatia Zagreb over two legs.
After winning their first two league fixtures of the season, the Magpies came into this game on the back of a defeat after falling 3-1 at the hands of Wimbledon the previous weekend, where defender Warren Barton had netted their lone goal.
Star striker Shearer has received an ankle injury in preseason, leaving Jon Dahl Tommason to partner Asprilla in attack for this game. The hard working duo of David Batty and Rob Lee paired in the central midfield department of a 4-4-2 system, while imposing Belgian center half Phillpe Albert anchored the back line.
Barcelona qualified for the tournament after finishing second behind Real Madrid in La Liga during the 1996/1997 season, a campaign which also saw them win the Copa Del Rey, Supercopa de Espana and the Cup Winners’ Cup. Brazilian superstar Ronaldo had led the way with 47 goals before being lured away by Inter Milan for a world record fee of $27 million.
The Catalans were coming off a perfect start to the season, having won all three of their La Liga games so far with another Brazilian star Rivaldo registering three goals. Rivaldo lined up as an attacking central midfielder for this game, behind a front three of Emmanuel Amunike, Figo and Sonny Anderson. Ivan De La Pena also started in central midfield in front of a back four marshalled by powerful center half Miguel Angel Nadal.
Newcastle flew out of the gate in front of a fired up home crowd and won a wide free kick within the opening minute when a twisting, turning run by Asprilla was halted with a foul by Michael Reiziger. Maintaining the high octane start, Asprilla took the free kick quickly and rolled it back to John Beresford, but the fullback’s poor cross was easily intercepted and Barca launched an end to end counter attack that resulted in Sergi Barjuan crossing into the hands of Shay Given.
Barcelona flashed good skill and movement in the opening stages, but it was Newcastle who would create the first big chance when Steve Watson strode out of the back and found the feet of Asprilla who had his back to goal. Asprilla played to John Barnes with a one touch pass, and Barnes released Tomasson, only for the Denmark international striker to roll his shot wide of the target.
Newcastle midfield enforcer Batty received an early yellow card in the 7th minute when he tracked the run forward of Luis Enrique before hauling the midfielder down by the shoulders. Figo sent in the free kick and his cross found its way to Anderson who fired a deflected shot that was comfortably saved by Given.
Striker Asprilla was pulling strings in the early stages and dropped deep into midfield to pick up possession and release Keith Gillespie down the right flank. Gillespie drove forward and sent a cross into the area, but a poor touch by Tomasson saw the chance go to waste.
Barcelona won a free kick 25 yards out in the 15th minute, when Watson was whistled for a high foot on Figo. De La Pena stepped up to take the free kick, but his effort was smashed straight into the wall.
Barcelona were having plenty of possession, with De La Pena and Rivaldo standing out in particular. However, the Catalans were struggling to carve out clear cut chances against the hard working Geordies. Luis Enrique picked up the ball out wide and cut inside under good defensive pressure from Barnes, eventually playing an errant pass backwards that Asprilla seized upon inside the center circle. Asprilla drove all the way into the Barca penalty area but no foul was given when he was dispossessed by a well timed sliding tackle from Nadal.
One tactic that was helping Barcelona gain the upper hand in terms of possession was the inverted fullback strategy that saw Sergi and Reiziger float inside to join Luis Enrique and De La Pena and give the Catalans extra numbers in the central midfield area. At the same time, both center backs split wide and the wing duo of Figo and Amunike provided the wide outlet option.
A penalty was awarded in the 22nd minute, and it was again the result of Asprilla running rampant. Lee won possession in midfield and slid a pass to Tomasson who drove forward before threading a ball into the penalty area where Asprilla was streaking onto it with a diagonal run. Asprilla took a touch around goalkeeper Ruud Hesp and was brought down by the goalkeeper as Italian referee Pierluigi Collina pointed to the spot.
Goalkeeper Hesp got a hand to Asprilla’s penalty kick, but the Colombian’s well placed shot still found the back of the net to put the home team 1-0 up.
Television graphics in the 28th minute illustrated that Barca had managed to have 59% of possession, but it was Newcastle, and Asprilla in particular who carried the bigger scoring threat.
Belgian center back Albert also helped Newcastle going forward, displaying the ability to dribble out of the back in possession, step high into midfield areas as an extra man and also find dangerous balls forward to launch counter attacks.
Another problem for Barcelona was the forward runs of Lee from deep positions in central midfield, and De La Pena found himself booked in the 30th minute for pulling Lee’s shirt to slow down a counter attack.
The resulting free kick was awarded inside the center circle, but still became the source of Newcastle’s second goal. Watson played the ball out to Gillespie on the right wing, where the Northern Ireland winger took a touch past Sergi and whipped in a beautiful cross for Asprilla to get in front of Albert Celades and head home at the near post. The Colombian striker wheeled away and marked the goal with his trademark cartwheel celebration.
Barca responded by creating their best chance of the game so far in the 32nd minute. Amunike sent in a cross and Anderson laid the ball off to Rivaldo, but the Brazilian pulled his shot wide of the target.
Speedy Nigerian winger Amunke was being marshalled tightly for long spells by the Newcastle defense, with winger Gillespie tracking back consistently. This allowed right back Warren Barton to sit inside in a position to block the cross or cover should Amunike penetrate off the dribble.
The away team kept up the pressure and won a shooting range free kick when Luis Enrique was fouled by Beresford 25 yards out. Rivaldo took the free kick but his effort hit the wall and looped behind for a corner. The corner from Sergi was cleared by Barnes at the near post and Newcastle launched a counter attack that ended when Gillespie’s cross was headed clear by Reiziger.
Newcastle were finding no issue creating chances against the Barcelona back line, and in the 43rd minute, Barnes picked out GIllespie who crossed for Lee to guide a diving header wide.
Barcelona had one last chance before the end of the half, but Sergi’s cross was headed wide of the target by Rivaldo.
Manager Louis van Gaal made a substitution at halftime, withdrawing the largely ineffective Amunike for Dragan Ciric. Having seen off Amunike in the first half, Newcastle right back Barton would now see a different kind of challenge as Figo switched to the left wing for the second half with Ciric lining up on the right.
The visitors created the first chance of the second half when Luis Enrique teed up Rivaldo but the resulting shot was comfortably saved by Given.
Newcastle went into a 3-0 lead in the 49th minute and once again the direct wing play of Gillespie broke down Barca. Lee played a pass to Gillespie inside the Newcastle half, before the winger beat Sergi and drove 30 yards down the flank and whipped in a pinpoint cross for Asprilla to rise and plant a header past Hesp.
The performance of right winger Gillespie was a fullback’s nightmare, and an example of wing play that any young winger could learn from to this day. The single minded winger showed the ability to create space for a cross, beat a defender off the dribble and consistently provide an end product in the form of a quality delivery into the box.
The third goal appeared to rattle Barcelona, and almost immediately following the kickoff an unpressured Luis Enrique sprayed an errant pass out wide that sailed out for a Newcastle throw in.
Roared on by a buoyant crowd, Newcastle continued to play to their strengths, and Barton fed Gillespie who drove forward before sending in yet another cross for Asprilla who had his header saved by Hesp.
Barcelona countered with a flank attack of their own, and Rivaldo’s cross was eventually hacked behind for a corner by Beresford.
Sergi’s ball into the box was headed behind by Lee to concede another corner, before Figo swung in a corner from the other side, only for Lee to clear the danger.
Portuguese star Figo provided Newcastle right back Barton with a different type of threat to deal with than Amunike had in the first half. While Figo lacked the pace of his Nigerian teammate allowing Barton to press him tighter, his ability on the ball saw him twist and turn on the dribble, while also showing the ability to cut inside and provide a threat.
Barcelona continued to search for a way back into the game and won a shooting range free kick when Rivaldo was fouled by Tomasson. Rivaldo got up to take the kick himself, but curled his effort over the crossbar.
Playmaker in chief RIvaldo was soon involved again as he dropped a pass back from the byline to Ciric who attempted a cross that was deflected behind for a corner by Barnes.
Before the corner was taken, manager Van Gaal subbed off center forward Anderson and replaced him with Christophe Dugarry as his team chased a goal. The first action after the introduction of Dugarry was Given coming off his line well to claim Sergi’s cross.
Newcastle won a 64th minute corner when Lee cut inside from the left flank and De La Pena knocked the ball behind, but referee Collina whistled for a foul on Albert to end the threat. Another corner was awarded to Newcastle minutes later when Albert released Gillespie down the right flank, and Sergi conceded a corner with his tackle. Tomasson and Gillespie worked a short corner routine that led to Barton delivering a cross that sailed into the hands of Hesp.
Rivaldo picked up the ball around 35 yards out in the 62nd minute, and unleashed a powerful long range shot that was deflected away by Given. Barcelona continued to press and won a corner soon after when Figo’s shot was deflected behind by Batty.
Given claimed Sergi’s corner and sent a punt forward to Asprilla who produced a spectacular first touch over the defenders head, only for the ball to go a yard too far and allow Celades to sweep up possession.
Barcelona won their 8th corner of the game when a Dugarry header was blocked, before Barton hacked it behind. Figo’s corner was headed clear before an attempted counter attack stalled when Tomasson overhit an intended through ball to Asprilla.
Television graphics in the 67th minute displayed the fact that Barcelona continued to have the upper hand in terms of possession with 59%, and the Catalans came forward once more only for Ciric to slice a cross out of play.
Substitute Ciric found himself in possession again a minute later, and this time won a corner when Watson blocked his cross behind. Sergi took the corner and found Nadal, who had his shot spectacularly tipped over the crossbar by Given. Two more corners from Sergi were cleared behind by the defense, and a third was cleared to concede a throw in deep inside the Newcastle half. Sergo fed Ciric from the throw and received the ball back before being crowded out by a combination of Beresford and Batty.
De La Pena released Sergi with a slide rule through ball form inside his own half, but the fullback’s shot was dragged well wide.
Barcelona did finally pull a goal back courtesy of a well worked move in the 73rd minute. De La Pena found Rivaldo who split the defense with a well weighted through ball for Figo to latch onto. The Portuguese winger picked up possession in the right sided channel before sending over a cross that Luis Enrique diverted past Given using his chest. Without celebration, Luis Enrique immediately picked the ball up out of the net and ran back to halfway as his team looked to produce a dramatic comeback.
The possession count ticked up to 61% in favor of Barca as the game entered the final 15 minutes, and the pressure was turned up as Rivaldo picked up a Figo pass on the edge of the penalty area and beat Watson with a wonderful first touch before having his shot well saved by Given.
Newcastle released the pressure when the irrepressible Asprilla picked the ball up around the halfway line before dribbling 30 yards and being fouled on the edge of the penalty area. Asprilla got up to take the free kick himself but blazed his effort high over the crossbar.
Making light of the absence of club legend Shearer, striker Asprilla produced one of the great individual performances in the history of the UEFA Champions League. The striker picked up possession all over the field, beat defenders off the dribble with ease and also managed to convert his dominance into goals.
From the resulting goal kick, Barca’s attempts to build possession were ended when Beresford intercepted the ball on halfway and passed to Asprilla who carried forward before guiding a shot wide of the target.
Manager Kenny Dalglish made a defensive substitution to try and preserve his team’s precious lead in the final stages, withdrawing striker Tomasson in favor of defender Darren Peacock.
The extra defensive strength would likely be needed as Barcelona continued to push forward and raise nerves among the home crowd. A lovely touch by Rivaldo released Ciric, and the winger cut back to Rivaldo who was denied by another excellent Given save.
Rivaldo was presented with another shooting chance when Beresford was whistled for a foul on the edge of the penalty area, and the Brazilian star rattled the crossbar with his shot.
Dalglish made another substitution to inject fresh legs in the 81st minute, withdrawing veteran winger Barnes and sending on the energetic Ketsbaia.
The corner count ticked to 13-3 in favor of Barca when Beresford deflected Sergi’s cross behind, Sergi whipped in a dangerous corner, and Rivaldo’s header was cleared off the goal line by Batty as the Toon Army held on.
Amid long spells of being pinned back on the defensive, Newcastle made a break of their own in the 86th minute when Gillespie raced away before guiding his shot wide of the target.
The buoyant Geordie crowd were starting to sense glory, but anxiety and tension rose in the stadium when Barcelona pulled the score back to 3-2 from a corner in the 89th minute. Given fumbled Sergi’s corner before Barton’s clearance found Figo on the edge of the penalty area, where the Portuguese winger settled the ball and fired a shot into the bottom corner of the net.
Barcelona had left themselves little time to claw the game back, but came forward again and an injury time cross from Rivaldo found Dugarry who headed wide of the target.
Fittingly, it was Asprilla who would run out the clock, drawing two fouls in the corner before holding possession until the final whistle blew on a famous result for the Toon Army.
The result sparked a great start to UEFA Champions League play for Newcastle, who followed it up by coming back from two goals down to draw 2-2 on the road at Dynamo Kyiv. Sadly, three consecutive defeats would follow, twice at the hands of PSV Eindhoven before falling in the rematch at Barcelona 1-0. A last day 2-0 win over eventual group winner Dynamo would be too little, too late to avoid elimination.
Newcastle would make the FA Cup Final courtesy of a semi final winning goal by a now healthy Shearer over Sheffield United, but fall 2-0 to Arsenal at the final hurdle. After a promising start in Premier League play, league form would also fall away and Newcastle won only one of their last five games on the way to a 13th place finish.
That would not take away from the historic nature of this game, with the result and hat-trick from Asprilla going down as a fondly remembered chapter in the clubs history.
Barcelona followed this game up with a 2-2 draw against PSV in Group C play, before two consecutive defeats at the hands of Kyiv left them in a hole they would not recover from in terms of qualification.
Barca did recover from the early elimination out of Champions League play to produce a very successful season on the domestic front, as 28 goals in all competitions from Rivaldo fired them to glory in the shape of a La Liga title, a Copa Del Rey win and a 3-1 aggregate win over Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Super Cup.
22’ NEW Faustino Asprilla PK 1-0
31’ NEW Faustino Asprilla (Keith Gillespie) 2-0
49’ NEW Faustino Asprilla (Keith Gillespie) 3-0
73’ BAR Luis Enrique (Luis Figo) 3-1
89’ BAR Luis Figo (Sergi Barjuan) 3-2
MAN OF THE MATCH
#11 CF Faustino Asprilla (Newcastle United) – Dynamite performance from the center forward who picked up the ball over the field, penetrated off the dribble and showed aerial dominance in the process of scoring a historic hat-trick.
3: CF Faustino Asprilla – Man of the Match.
2: RM Keith GIllespie – Spectacular performance and a lesson in wing play from the Northern Ireland international, who torched Spain international Sergi time and again, also providing two assists for Asprilla with pinpoint crosses. Gillespie was also a key part of Newcastle’s defensive game plan, tracking back to support Barton well all game.
1: CM David Batty – The defensive heart of Newcastle’s midfield, made a series of blocks and tackles while also doing his best to monitor the movement of Rivaldo. Produced a key goal line clearance in the second half as his team clung on to win all three points.
3: ACM Rivaldo – The focal point of Barca’s attack, found space between the lines all game and also showed ability to keep possession and complete passes when tightly marked. Split the Newcastle back four on multiple occasions with clever through balls.
2: M Luis Figo – Playing on both wings throughout the course of the game, Figo broke in behind and crossed for Barca’s first goal before scoring himself to set up a grandstand finish.
1: CM Ivan De La Pena – Pulled strings throughout the game as Barcelona dominated possession, completed passes consistently and switched the point of attack well as his team probed for goals during the second half.
BAR: Hesp, Sergi, Nadal, Celades, Reiziger, De La Pena, Luis Enrique, Rivaldo, Amunike (Ciric), Figo, Anderson (Dugarry).
Full highlights can be found on the sp1873 YouTube page here.
You can listen to a full interview on the game from Newcastle right back Warren Barton here, including his thoughts on the differences of playing for Kevin Keegan and Kenny Dalglish, while also revealing what it is like to mark a world great such as Luis Figo man to man. CLICK HERE
Why not check out the Data Analysis Report from this match? CLICK HERE to do so.
Nigeria 2-2 Cameroon (Cameroon win 4-3 on penalties)
African Cup of Nations Final
February 12th, 2000
Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, Nigeria
By Ally Bain (@allybain)
Value of Chances
There are a number of interesting things about the time, the first of which being that all four goals occurred during the opening 46 minutes of play which, in terms of overall attack play, was arguably the most sparce period of efforts on goal during the match (Nigeria 5 shots and Cameroon 7 shots). While both teams were neck and neck for long periods of the 1st half, we can see that Cameroon’s attack play was more consistent than their opponents, but also carried more of a threat with almost a full expected goal separating the sides until extra time. Nigeria would go almost 30 minutes in the 2nd half without registering an attack, but would come back in extra time to record a significant cluster of attacks. When examining this further we can see from the smaller upticks that many of these were speculative efforts and carried little to no threat.
We can see from the spikes in the graph that both sides registered attacks that carried decent chance creation value (the longer the peaks the higher the probability), however when we analyze what Opta defines as a Big Chance (A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score) we see that only 1 was created in the match and it fell to Samuel Eto’o who duly headed in Cameroon’s opening goal.
When examining quality we also have to take into account the amount of efforts on goal vs on target. We can see that Nigeria have had more shots on target from a fewer number of efforts, but in addition to this we also see they had a lower overall xG value despite their higher amount of shots testing the keeper. Simply put Nigeria had more success shooting from distance, therefore shots with lower probability of scoring were being saved, however we will see later in the shot graphs how this helps us understand which side carried more threat in the match.
Type of Chances Created
Nigeria would create 10 of their 14 shots on goal, and when we examine the key pass locations we can see there is a decent spread of creativity across the field. Babayaro would create 3 efforts from service on the left, where as 2nd half sub Babangida would create 3 chances of his own from the right. This highlights not only the variety of attacks the Nigerians were able to create, but also the prowess of the individuals conducting the creation. When we examine the types of key passes in the match we see that the highest number of attacks came from Switches of Play, which comes in the form of a horizontal cross/pass to allow the Oliseh and Okocha to shoot from distance (4 in total), and a traditional cross into the box for Kanu, Chukwu or Ikpeba to attack (3 in total).
Cameroon would also create 10 shots in the match, from an increased 18 shots on goal, however they would heavily favor the right hand side of the field with Geremi generating 5 key passes from wide areas. The cross into the box was Cameroon’s preferred movement to generate attacks, with 4 in total turning into shots on goal.
When we examine the patterns of play that would lead to shots on goal we see that both sides favored a build up play approach (23 shots in total during the match), with only 1 counter attack shot being registered in the match from either side. This likely speaks to a culture within African football to maintain possession, largely based on the temperatures and the requirement to preserve energy. When we break down the build up play attacks it tells us more about the performance of both sides, with Nigeria seeing 7 of their 11 build up chances hit the target, where as Cameroon were only able to test the keeper with 2 of their 12 build play chances.
Interestingly when we look at how each team faired on set pieces Cameroon would come out on top, with 2 of their 4 chances hitting the target (1 of which resulting in an Eto’o goal) with Nigeria failing to turn any of their 2 efforts into a chance on target. Its these fine margins that allowed Cameroon to maintain a foothold in a match where their opposition perhaps got the better of them during open play.
Where Chances are Created
In this section it allows us to consider a number of factors when evaluating attacking performance, the first well look at here is each teams numbers inside the box, specifically the central portion. We call this area the golden zone, such is the probability of a goal being scored inside this location, therefore when we boil down the game into performance within this area we see each side has recorded 4 shots with 2 on target. The two efforts each side recorded on target would equate to 1 goal and forcing the opposition keeper into a save a piece.
Out with the central portion we see that Cameroon would score their 2nd of the match inside the left portion of the 18 yard box, where as Nigeria could only record to shots on target. The equalizing factor for Nigeria would come in chances outside the box, with 3 efforts hitting the target to Cameroon’s zero, but more importantly it would be Jay Jay Okocha’s rasping effort from distance that would keep the Super Eagles in the match at 2-2.
So if there was little to separate the sides in attacking output lets delve deeper into the xG (chance creation value), and lets look specifically at those shots on target. So we’ve established that Nigeria would have 7 shots on target to Cameroon’s 4, however when we look at the value of these attacks (the probability of them turning into a goal) we see a very different story. Nigeria’s 7 shots on target are valued at 0.68 xG, so in theory the sum total of these efforts gave them a 68% chance of scoring. In comparison Cameroon’s 4 shots are valued at 0.78 xG, giving them a sum total of 78% chance of scoring. This therefore shows that while Cameroon had less efforts they carried a higher threat from their chances.
Overall the margins in this match were extremely fine, with both sides giving as good as they had, but while finals this close always threaten to disappoint a 4 goal game and a penalty shootout thriller secures this game as one of the best matches we’ve covered on the site.
Who Created Chances
Jay Jay Okocha would finish as Nigeria’s best statistical attacker, taking part in 3 attacks with 2 of those hitting the target, and 1 converting into a goal. While his personal xG for the match was 0.28, what he’ll be remembered for most is his wonderful strike from distance that would sail into the top corner. A truly remarkable goal.
Kanu would finish as Nigeria’s best statistical creator with only 2 key passes, however both would end up creating a shot on target, one of which was to lay on Raphael Chukwu for the opening goal.
Samuel Eto’o was Cameroon’s best statistical attacker, recording 5 shots on goal with an xG of 0.85 (54% of this teams overall xG value). While Eto’o was a constant threat throughout the match with his pace and aerial ability, 2 of his 5 efforts hit the target, with the first creating the opening goal of the game from a fine header.
Geremi was by far Cameroon’s best statistical creator in the game, with 5 key passes in total. He was a constant presence on the right wing, and would offer an array of crossing opportunities for M’Boma and Eto’o to attack.