Battle of the Leagues, Matchday 1: It. Is. On.


The time for talking is over — let the battle commence! It’s time for our managers to pit their teams representing the Premier League, LaLiga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1, Eredivisie, Major League Soccer and Liga MX against each other for global supremacy in ESPN’s Battle of the Leagues, presented by EA Sports FIFA 22.

Group A kicks off with Bundesliga vs. Major League Soccer and Ligue 1 vs. LaLiga, while Group B will see Premier League vs. Serie A and Liga MX vs. Eredivisie played out on EA Sports’ FIFA 22.

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You can catch up on the tournament rules and format here, then check out below to see the team selections, tactics and prematch chat before watching highlights of the matches with the managers’ real-time reactions.

Jump to: Bundesliga vs. Major League Soccer | Ligue 1 vs. LaLiga | Premier League vs. Serie A | Liga MX vs. Eredivisie | Match stats & standings




Gab Marcotti (Bundesliga)

“Obviously we’re playing two up from with Haaland and Lewandowski, so I want to make sure they’re well-supplied with service and that will be the job of my wide players, both full-backs and wingers. Diaby has pace and trickery, while Angelino and Kostic on the other side offer quality. With such attacking options out wide, I’ll need a solid base, so I’m counting on midfielder Witsel to shield defenders Hummels and Ginter. Oh, and I think we’ll be devastating on set pieces. I think we have a lot of direct players rather than necessarily creators and that’s fine: I want to get the ball forward quickly.

“With these guys, frankly, if Nedum plays a flat back four, I love Lewa and Erling one-on-one against a centre-back each. If he plays wing-backs, Kostic-Angelino on one side and Diaby-Mukiele on the other will simply overload them and pump balls into the box. Nedum was very proud of how quick his front players are and I wasn’t sure about Hummels, Ginter (and Witsel in front of them) against pacey forwards. But that’s OK, because Neuer can do the sweeper-keeper thing and, frankly, I’m looking to score more than the opposition, not so much concede less.

“I don’t think the philosophy will change necessarily, but I have options on the bench. Nkunku allows me to change formations if needed, Gnabry can play either flank. I’m not averse to going 3-5-2 either, if it means protecting a lead. What I won’t do is play Kimmich at right-back … unless absolutely necessary.”

Nedum Onuoha (MLS)

“I know I’m very much the underdog in this group, but I still fancy our chances to maybe cause an upset or two.

“I’ve decided to go with some solid defensive pieces, most notably Diego Chara and Blaise Matuidi in front of the back four. But I also think my front line — with Carlos Vela and Nani flanking Josef Martinez — may surprise the Bundesliga team with their pace and directness. Let’s go boys!”


Bundesliga: 4-4-2, fast build-up (attack), press after long ball (defence)

First XI — Manuel Neuer; Nordi Mukiele, Mats Hummels, Matthias Ginter, Angelino; Moussa Diaby, Joshua Kimmich, Axel Witsel, Filip Kostic; Robert Lewandowski, Erling Haaland

Substitutes — Koen Casteels, Raphael Guerreiro, Martin Hinteregger, Denis Zakaria, Serge Gnabry, Christopher Nkunku, Andrej Kramaric

MLS: 4-2-3-1. balanced (attack), balanced (defence)

First XI — Andre Blake; Kyle Duncan, Aaron Long, Miles Robinson, Kemar Lawrence; Diego Chara, Blaise Matuidi; Carlos Vela, Nicolas Lodeiro, Nani; Josef Martinez

Substitutes — Bill Hamid, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Kai Wagner, Giovani dos Santos, Yeferson Soteldo, Luis Araujo, Raul Ruidiaz



Josef Martinez puts MLS 1-0 up vs. Bundesliga in Battle of the Leagues and Gab clearly isn’t happy about it.



Julien Laurens (Ligue 1)

“Here we go! The Ligue 1 team is coming back even better, stronger, more determined and confident than a year ago when we won the first edition of the Battle of the Leagues. We will start the tournament in a 4-3-3 formation with a holding midfielder, which suits my players the most.

“We have the right balance, the best disposition to press and an incredible front three of Neymar, Wissam Ben Yedder and Lionel Messi while Kylian Mbappe is ready to come on at some point. That’s right: we are that good that we can even bench one of the best players in the world!

“In midfield, Renato Sanches will be the revelation of this tournament alongside Houssem Aouar and Benjamin Andre to form a midfield in which every player complements each other. Our two full-backs, Hamari Traore and Hassane Kamara, might not be familiar names to a lot of people worldwide, but they will surprise everyone with their contributions and quality. In the centre, Marquinhos and Jason Denayer are safer than the crown jewels; Anthony Lopes is crazy in goal but also capable of amazing saves.”

Rodrigo Faez (LaLiga)

“As you might expect from a selection of the best players who ply their trade in the Spanish league, my team is a ball possession-based side. The speed of my defence will be key with Eder Militao, Jules Kounde and Ferland Mendy in particular all blessed with pace.

“In midfield, Frenkie de Jong and Marcos Llorente give me a solid base that will leave attackers like Vinicius Junior and Memphis Depay free to express themselves and terrorise Ligue 1’s suspect defence.

“And up front we have a top striker leading the line in Inaki Williams. With Karim Benzema and Mikel Oyarzabal on the bench, the powerful attacking players I have should make the difference and win the title for Spain. Bring it on!

Teams & tactics

Ligue 1: 4-3-3, balanced (attack), balanced (defence)

First XI — Anthony Lopes; Hamari Traore, Jason Denayer, Marquinhos, Hassane Kamara: Houssem Aouar, Benjamin Andre, Renato Sanches; Lionel Messi, Wissam Ben Yedder, Neymar

Substitutes — Pau Lopez, Youssef Atal, Tiago Djalo, Bouba Kamara, Alexis Claude-Maurice, Gelson Martins, Kylian Mbappe

LaLiga: 4-2-3-1, balanced (attack), balanced (defence)

First XI — Jan Oblak; Kieran Trippier, Jules Kounde, Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy; Frenkie de Jong, Marcos Llorente; Ousmane Dembele, Memphis Depay, Vinícius Junior; Inaki Williams

Substitutes — Unai Simon, Pau Torres, Jose Gaya, Sergio Canales, Mikel Oyarzabal, Karim Benzema



Julien Laurens joins in with the player celebrations as Neymar hits a penalty into the top corner in Battle of the Leagues.




Mark Ogden (Premier League)

“I’ve gone for an attacking lineup, built around the solid defensive core of Van Dijk, Dias and Kante. With two advancing full-backs, those three will have to keep it tight to snuff out any opposition counter-attacks. And although I have gone for a fairly conservative 4-3-3 formation, it is really 4-1-2-3, with De Bruyne and Fernandes expected to focus on their contribution in the attacking third rather worry too much about defensive duties.

“It’s a risk, but my squad and team is overloaded with creative and attacking talent, so you have to play to your strengths. The thinking behind my approach is that games are won by the ability to take chances — this team will create lots of chances and, with the calibre of forwards in my lineup, I would expect them to score lots too.

“But you can’t win anything without a solid defence and reliable goalkeeper, which is why I have gone with Mendy behind that axis of Van Dijk, Dias and Kante.”

Kay Murray (Serie A)

“I’ve gone with a modern FIFA formation that’s all about pace and strength. The defence has so much speed with the two full-backs and centre-backs, while the midfield has a great mix of players — one defensive, another more box-to-box and a more attacking player.

“Paulo Dybala playing as the trequartista means he’s the perfect link between midfield and attack, where Ciro Immobile and Joaquin Correa have all the tools to not only score but to set each other up as well.

“It’s a dynamic, offensive-minded team that should create a lot of chances and not risk too much at the back.”

Teams & tactics

Premier League: 4-1-2-3, balanced (attack), press after losing ball (defence)

First XI — Edouard Mendy; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Ruben Dias, Luke Shaw; N’Golo Kante; Bruno Fernandes, Kevin De Bruyne; Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Cristiano Ronaldo

Substitutes — Ederson, Kurt Zouma, Lucas Digne, Jack Grealish, Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz, Sadio Mane

Serie A: 4-3-1-2, balanced (defence), balanced (attack)

First XI — Samir Handanovic; Juan Cuadrado, Kalidou Koulibaly, Milan Skriniar, Theo Hernandez; Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Franck Kessie, Nicolo Barella; Paulo Dybala; Ciro Immobile, Lautaro Martinez

Substitutes — Mike Maignan, Leonardo Spinazzola, Giorgio Chiellini, Luis Alberto, Lorenzo Insigne, Federico Chiesa, Dries Mertens



Kay Murray celebrates as Paulo Dybala puts Serie A 1-0 up vs. Mark Ogden’s Premier League team in Battle of the Leagues.



Herc Gomez (Liga MX)

“This will be a fast, attack-minded team that will not be afraid to take chances. It’s going to be great to watch.

“A lot of the threat will come from wide areas, where there will be progressions up the wings. Fast transitions will come either from full-backs who will burst forward when they have the support, or from inverted wingers who can create one-vs.-ones against opposition defenders and combine with centre-forward Andre-Pierre Gignac.

“With all of that happening on the wings, the midfield will be more balanced, with the central trio providing strong defensive bite but all possessing deep-lying playmaking abilities. Goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman’s presence will allow the defenders to play a high line, and we will take chances in our press — ¡muy agresivo!

Fresia Cousino Arias (Eredivisie)

“My team might lack the star power of other leagues, but I’ve put together a balanced, flexible XI that can handle whatever Liga MX has to offer.

“Dusan Tadic and Steven Berghuis can cause plenty of issues in attack, while Mario Gotze pulls the strings behind them. We also have the aggression and ball-winning abilities of Ibrahim Sangare anchoring the midfield.

“I think the centre-back pairing of Jurrien Timber and Marcos Senesi can handle Gignac, and our midfield will prevent their flanks from getting enough service.”

Teams & tactics

Liga MX: 4-3-3, fast buildup (attack), pressure on heavy touch (defence)

First XI — Nahuel Guzman; Salvador Reyes, William Tesillo, Matheus Doria, Juan Escobar; Richard Sanchez, Luis Romo, Fernando Gorriaran; Maxi Meza, Andre-Pierre Gignac, Nico Lopez

Substitutes — Guillermo Ochoa, Jorge Sanchez, Cesar Montes, Rogelio Funes Mori, Rubens Sambueza, Luis Montes, Orbelin Pineda

Eredivisie: 4-2-2-2, balanced (attack), balanced (defence)

First XI — Justin Bijlow; Lutsharel Geertruida, Jurrien Timber, Marcos Senesi, Owen Wijndal; Ibrahim Sangare, Fredrik Midtsjo; Mario Gotze, Cody Gakpo; Steven Berghuis, Dusan Tadic

Substitutes — Lars Unnerstall, Philipp Max, Riechedly Bazoer, Davy Klaassen, Joey Veerman, Eran Zahavi, Jesper Karlsson



Herc Gomez can’t believe it as his Liga MX side falls behind to Eredivisie in Battle of the Leagues.


Group A

Bundesliga 1-1 MLS

Kimmich 53′
Martinez 4′

Ligue 1 2-0 LaLiga

Neymar 30′, Ben Yedder 51′

Group B

Premier League 4-2 Serie A

Fernandes 22′, Havertz 64′, Mane 85′, Kane 90′
Dybala 17′, Immobile 45′

Liga MX 1-2 Eredivisie

Gignac 53′
Gotze 19′, Tadic 61′


Group A

Bundesliga vs. LaLiga
Ligue 1 vs. Major League Soccer

Group B

Liga MX vs. Serie A
Premier League vs. Eredivisie


Group A

Bundesliga vs. Ligue 1
Major League Soccer vs. LaLiga

Group B

Serie A vs. Eredivisie
Premier League vs. Liga MX

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