Ron's Blog

The Importance of Attitude

By Ron Smith | 14/03/2013 | 0 Comments |

The Champions League has often presented difficult tasks for teams to qualify for the next stage and the knock out stage is a classic situation.  Two games are played and away goals count double in the event of a draw.

It's not unusual for the away team to play for a draw or keep the score to a minimum and in the process try to at least score a goal. This approach is supported by the notion that when the team plays at home they will win the match.

So what happens when a team wins away and causes an upset, albeit a lovely one?  AC Milan won 2-0 away at barcelona in the first leg and bayern Munich won 3-1 away at Arsenal.  Game over one might say! Or is it?

The return leg in both games highlighted the importance of approaching every game with the right attitude.  Bayern conceded one goal in the third minute to Arsenal and eventually lost 2-0 at home, their worst defeat for  many years.  They eventually went through to the next stage on the away goal rule and would not have been happy with the performance that night, nor would the fans.

AC Milan lost 4-0 at Barcelona.  They also conceded one goal early in the match and it looked quite possible at that stage that Barcelona would over come the 2-0 defeat from the first leg, which happened convincingly.

So what goes wrong?  It's impossible to ignore the fact that the team has an advantage going into the second leg but how does it affect performance.  It has to be the attitude in approaching the game.  Players do not lose ability, they might not always play to their capabilities but  what happens in terms of work rate and the intensity of play?  It is one of the most puzzlingly aspects of performance and I'm sure there will be some serious questions asked at Bayern about the team's performance.  I'm sure they talked about it beforehand but whatever they tried to implement didn't work.  Maybe Arsenal did the same and because they had everything to play for their attitude was different, they had nothing to lose and could play without being too cautious, take risks where the returns would be worth it.

AC Milan had the same strategic approach as they did in the first leg against Barcelona, which was to defend in numbers and attack on the break and it almost worked for them in the first half when they had a great chance that hit the post.  AC Milan looked like they were hoping to win rather than going out to try to win and they were thumped 4-0.

The observations of this week in the Champions League have happened before and no doubt they'll happen again.  Only the very best teams play under these conditions so they do have experience to draw on, so what goes wrong? Is it a flaw in the human make up that we can't ignore the facts even if we try to tell ourselves that the score is 0-0 at kick off?


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