Rafa Benítez Blog RSS Rafa Benítez Blog

Mar 2012
09:49 Comments (14)

Having reached this point in the most important European competition and having seen the draw for the UEFA Champions League, it is a good time to to have a closer look at the clubs that are in the quarter finals and how they have set up in previous ties on the way to the final in May at the Allianz Arena in Munich. So, if you would like, let's have a look at the teams and how they square up in the quarter finals.


The formations shown from Globall Coach are their systems in their last Champions League matches. Apoel have consistently played 1-4-2-3-1 throughout the competition except in the last match at home against Lyon when they were behind 0-1 from the first leg and they played with two strikers, Ailton and Solari, with Ailton coming to receive between the lines frequently. Their strategy in most games has been to drop off protecting their goal with a 1-4-5-1 defensive formation then looking to counter attack. They had some good possession at home in the last game. It is difficult to beat them, but if they are too deep it will be difficult for them to score. Manduca is suspended for this match so they will have to make some adjustment

Real Madrid have played a consistent system of 1-4-2-3-1but they will lose Alonso through suspension for this match. Their forwards have great individual ability and their second line interchange positions creating more problems for defences. They are strong in defence with Pepe and Sergio Ramos both quick and agressive and the coordination of movements on the left side between C. Ronaldo and Marcelo are very important for them in attack. They have many options in attack with Higuaín, Benzema, Kaká, Ozil, players that can change a game.


Benfica have varied their system throughout the competition sometimes playing 1-4-4-1-1 like they did against Manchester United at home but playing 1-4-2-3-1 away. Both legs against Zenit were played with a 1-4-1-3-2 or 1-4-4-2 with Witsel more attacking and Garcia holding more as shown in the screenshot. They will have a full squad to choose from in this next game. They are strong in the middle, with Javi Garcia and Witsel, with experience at the back and ability, and creativity in attack. Also Cardozo is strong and he has a great left foot.

Chelsea have a new caretaker manager (Di Matteo) who took charge for the last Champions League match against Napoli in which they played as shown in the screenshot above. They used 1-4-2-3-1 with Ramires coming in from the left and Cole giving width when getting forward. They won in the FA Cup against Leicester with Fernando Torres scoring two goals, so they will have confidence. They also have experience in the Champions League and they will be a difficult team to beat.


AC Milan regularly use the 1-4-3-1-2 formation shown above against Arsenal. In this match Robinho joined the two strikers more converting it to a 1-4-3-3 but two strikers is the usual system. Van Bommel has been the more defensive central midfield player but he is suspended for this game although Gattuso could be available. The two matches in the last round against Arsenal were very different. They dominated the first leg with strong performances of the two strikers Ibrahimovic and Robinho but had many problems in the first half of the return leg. They have also great experience in the Champions League and some players that can make the difference.

Barcelona, as everyone knows, play a flexible 1-4-3-3 and can also play with 3 defenders. Their attacking players have great ability in possession and in finishing. Their very strong possession game, switching play and looking for the right penetrating pass will always cause teams problems. Messi is in form, so he can make the difference on his own.


Marseille have mostly used a 1-4-2-3-1 system but have also changed to 1-4-3-3 and 1-4-4-2 for certain matches in the competition. In the system shown from Globall Coach, used against Inter Milan in the last match, there are two strong, physical defensive midfield players and Valbuena operating between lines in support of Remy. For the next match they will lose Mandanda after his red card in the last minute against Inter and they also will have to replace Diawara who is also suspended. A well organised team and they can press with intensity.

Bayern also have mostly used 1-4-2-3-1 in the competition. The formation is shown from their last match but Schweinsteiger should be available after making an appearance in this game. In their last match the system was not the difference but the ability to cause problems of these wide players along with their finishing. Their wide players have great attacking ability and can swap wings. Also Kroos or Muller between the lines are very dangerous. They have scored 20 goals in the last three games with the same players making the difference: Ribery, Robben and Mario Gomez.

14 Comments Send us your opinions
19/03/12 at 23:18:48 #1
Hello, I like Bayern, it is a very offensive team. I think they can win the Champions.
20/03/12 at 13:22:20 #2
Rafa, based on what I have seen throughout the CL thus far, and taking into consideration your thorough analysis (as ever), I cannot look beyond an all-Spanish Final. As dangerous as Bayern are, plus the incentive to play the Final in their own Stadium, I feel Real are both more organised and clinical with the players at their disposal.

Which 2 sides, if you were a gambling man, would you put your money on to reach this years final at this moment in time?

Cheers Rafa.


Hello Chris, Bayern could be dangerous for Real, but still I think Real and Barça are, at this moment, ahead of the others. Thanks.
20/03/12 at 17:20:46 #3
i share the same sentiments as chris,bayern are are good offensively.And i think unlike barca n madrid bayaern are dependent on the system they play rather overimphasis on individual brilliance which myt come in handy in this crucial stage of the competition
21/03/12 at 05:16:38 #4
otto or
Halo Rafa,

I guess Benfica may be a better side when comparing with Chelsea. Their midfielders have better control of the ball and creativity.

btw. do you think AC Milan stand a chance in beating the Fabulous Barcelona?


Hello, if Barcelona has his day I don't think so, but AC Milan has very good players that on their own can change a game and that is football, so, everything can happen.
21/03/12 at 14:59:28 #5
Peter Benson
Hi Rafa, I just wanted to say you are a legend at Liverpool and we will always love and rememeber you.
25/03/12 at 04:35:19 #6
rafa when are you coming back to manage Liverpool??
25/03/12 at 06:43:32 #7
Hi Rafa!I'm from China and i'm one of the liverpool fans.So i have a question to ask u.I've watched many games this season,as we can keep the ball,create the chance,but we lost many games,we all feel disappointed week and week again,what's the problem?I just can't understand...
25/03/12 at 06:48:07 #8
thx for answering,all kops are welcome u back!
25/03/12 at 12:44:50 #9
I dont think the Barca Milan game will be as straightforward as people think. Barca's form is really being masked by as you state the performance of Messi. Last few games have also shown the Barca defence is not at its best, and with Ibra knowing the team intimately and and robinho's pace the game is set up nicely. What do you think about Mascherano at fullback? he does seem the complete defender but is he vulnerable against aerial experts like Ibra?
26/03/12 at 20:30:02 #10
Dear Rafa Sir, in your opinion, what is the problem with Liverpool this season? We have played good football in the middle of the park but the play in the final third always disappointing. How do you think we can tweak the tactics to translate our possession into goals?


Hi Kenny, with a lot of respect I think you have to ask to Kenny. Thanks,
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