The #UCL knockout phase returns next week with 16 teams vying to lift the trophy at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid on 1 June 2019.
As we await the round of 16, it’s time to sit down with Adam our #PRINCE2PUNDIT. Let’s see how the remaining teams can use the seven PRINCE2® principles to be crowned champions.
Is there continuous business justification for the teams to not give up? There is. The winner will receive 19 million Euros, so that’s good value for money. However, that’s not all, the winners will go down in their club’s history as heroes. Upon returning to their home city, teams usually celebrate with an open-top bus parade. After being crowned champions in 2005, Liverpool were cheered on by almost 1 million supporters at their parade.
Before the start of the knockout stage teams should look at what lessons they can learn from previous matches and tournaments. Do they need to change their formation or their selection for the first knockout match? It’s also important to look at the performance of the next opponent to see if there are certain patterns. This will allow teams to learn from experience. Indeed, Real Madrid – the reigning champion, have applied this principle well, lifting the trophy three times in a row.
To be successful, players need to know what their roles and responsibilities are. While the ten field players may be arranged in any combination, it is important to decide who exactly will fill the defensive, midfield, and attacking positions. The players’ individual expertise is key here. If a defensive player continuously failed during the group stages, the manager should decide whether this important responsibility should go to another player in the round of 16.
Just with any PRINCE2 project, teams should manage this important tournament in stages. A team might have been successful during the group stages but that doesn’t mean they should enter the knockout rounds being overconfident. The immediate goal is to reach the next stage with the final being the aim of the whole project. Sepp Herberger, the manager of the West German team which won in 1954, once famously said "After the game is before the game".
Manage by exception is a crucial principle in football. There’s not much room for discussion while the match is in full swing – although we all love to see the managers frantically waving and shouting at the side. A team must know in advance how much wiggle room they have – a tolerance level on when a wing-back should overlap, when the centre-backs should go up for corners and how much offensive freedom the holding midfielder should.
Football managers need to tailor their approach to the environment, not only to every new match but also to the opposition and the performance of their own players. This means that injured players must be substituted in the round of 16 and managers might have to change their formation to adapt it to the next opponent. This season will also see the introduction of the video assistant referee (VAR) system starting in the round of 16 – so some might want to tailor their behaviour on the pitch to this technology.
The final PRINCE2 principle is focus on products. For the knockout stages teams must focus on only one product – goals. No matter how beautiful and impressive their style is, if they don’t score then they are out. Cristiano Ronaldo is currently the top goal scorer in #UCL history; if he can add to his tally this will be a big bonus for his team.
We hope there will be many goals during the next matches. If the remaining teams know how to use the PRINCE2 principle then there’s a lot to look forward to.
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