Is defending making a comeback after the gung-ho attacking years?

The Guardian - Feb 20, 10:30 GMT

Liverpool’s draw with Bayern followed a Champions League last-16 pattern so far – and the phenomenon runs deeperIt’s early days yet, of course. Nobody should be getting carried away

Liverpool’s draw with Bayern followed a Champions League last-16 pattern so far – and the phenomenon runs deeper

It’s early days yet, of course. Nobody should be getting carried away. There’s plenty of time for the second legs or subsequent rounds to make a mockery of the thought but, after a few years in which the big clubs have treated caution as something laughably old-fashioned, a quaint affectation like a waxed moustache or a pocket-watch, might defending be making a comeback?

There were no goals in Tuesday’s two Champions League ties. As yet, nobody has scored a goal in the first half of a Champions League knockout tie this season. Goals per game in the last 16 (with all the obvious caveats about sample size) are at less than two as opposed to five in the knockout phase last season. It’s as though the collective thought has gone round that after last season’s chaos of three-goal comebacks and nearly comebacks, getting the defence right is where teams can gain an edge.

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