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Barcelona 3-1 Juventus: Barca pounce to end spells of Juve pressure

June 9, 2015
Barcelona 3-1 Juventus: Barca pounce to end spells of Juve pressure

Barcelona won the European Cup – and completed a treble for the second time in seven years – with a 3-1 victory over Italian champions Juventus.

Barcelona selection

There were no surprises on Luis Enrique’s teamsheet. Andres Iniesta had been the only slight injury doubt, but he was fit to start and wore the captain’s armband.

Luis Enrique continued with his policy of using his reserve goalkeeper in cup competitions, which meant Marc-Andre ter Stegen started on home soil, with Claudio Bravo on the bench.

Juventus selection

Max Allegri suffered a blow when Giorgio Chiellini was ruled out a couple of days before the final, meaning Andrea Barzagli came into the centre of defence. It also meant Leonardo Bonucci moving to the left of the centre-back pairing.

While it was unlikely to feature from the start here, Allegri has often played with a three-man backline this season. Chiellini’s injury meant there was less chance he would shift to that system midway through the game.

Match summary

Barcelona were dominant overall, particularly in the first half when they could have put the game to bed very early.

However, while Barca had plenty of strong spells, they actually scored their goals when Juve were causing them problems. Read more »

Wolfsburg 3-1 Dortmund: Wolfsburg comfortable despite rarely dominating

June 2, 2015
Wolfsburg 3-1 Dortmund: Wolfsburg comfortable despite rarely dominating

Jurgen Klopp waved farewell to Dortmund with a defeat in the German Cup final.

Wolfsburg selection

There were few surprises in Dieter¬†Hecking’s team selection. Andre Schurrle continues to be left on the bench ,with both wide players in good form.

Timm Klose has displaced Robin Knoche at the heart of Wolfsburg’s backline, while Naldo – who had been an injury doubt – was fit to start alongside him.

Dortmund selection

Jurgen Klopp’s final team selection was roughly the players he’d picked most frequently in this disjointed campaign – with one exception, as Erik Durm got the nod over Lukasz Piszczek at right-back.

Otherwise, the team was expected, and broadly in the 4-2-3-1 system Klopp has favoured at Dortmund.

Match summary

This was an unusual cup final – it was action-packed and end-to-end, with a succession of goalscoring opportunities. Wolfsburg didn’t ever force spells of strong dominance or pile pressure on the Dortmund defence, but instead were extremely efficient with their use of the ball in the second ‘quarter’ of the game, when they effectively won it. Read more »

Atletico 0-1 Barcelona: the Messi and Pedro combination wins Barcelona the title

May 20, 2015
Atletico 0-1 Barcelona: the Messi and Pedro combination wins Barcelona the title

Barcelona wrapped up La Liga with a 1-0 victory at the home of Atletico Madrid, the previous champions.

Atletico selection

Diego Simeone played his usual formation, but made a few changes from the team which drew 2-2 at Levante last weekend.

At the back, Diego Godin returned in place of Miranda. In midfield, Thiago dropped out and Mario Suarez came in. Upfront, Fernando Torres got the nod over Mario Mandzukic.

Barcelona selection

Luis Enrique’s best XI is now established, although here he was forced to cope without Luis Suarez, who was injured. Pedro Rodriguez was the obvious replacement.

Otherwise, there were no surprises. Aside from in goal, where Barcelona rotate for the cups, this XI will start the European Cup final next month.

Match summary

We’ve seen this contest many times before – Atletico sit back and counter, Barcelona dominate possession. This was an exaggerated version of that – Barca had 77% possession – and the game was played at a surprisingly high tempo, especially considering the sweltering heat in Madrid. Barcelona’s possession play was highly impressive at times. Read more »

Real Madrid 1-1 Juventus: Real attack through the full-backs but Juve hold on

May 15, 2015
Real Madrid 1-1 Juventus: Real attack through the full-backs but Juve hold on

Juventus qualified for the European Cup final with a 3-2 aggregate victory.

Real Madrid selection

Carlo Ancelotti surprisingly dropped Pepe and shifted Sergio Ramos back into his favoured centre-back position, after an unsuccessful stint in midfield during the first leg.

Upfront, Karim Benzema was fit to return, and otherwise it was Real’s expected side, with Marcelo and Dani Carvajal returning having been rested for the weekend draw with Valencia.

Juventus selection

Having missed the first leg through injury, Paul Pogba was fit to return in place of Stefano Sturaro.

This might have also influenced Max Allegri’s formation decision – had Pogba been out, he might have switched to the 5-3-2 system he used towards the end of the first leg, providing more defensive structure in a game where a draw would suit Juventus. Pogba’s availability, though, meant it was worth sticking with the diamond.

Otherwise, the team was as expected.

Match summary

Juventus emerged victorious but Real dominated for long periods of this second leg, and their tactical approach worked better here. Read more »

Barcelona 3-0 Bayern: Guardiola changes system within first 15 minutes, Messi wins it in the last 15 minutes

May 7, 2015
Barcelona 3-0 Bayern: Guardiola changes system within first 15 minutes, Messi wins it in the last 15 minutes

Barcelona eventually prevailed thanks to some fantastic Lionel Messi play, at the end of a fascinating, high-tempo contest.

Barcelona selection

Luis Enrique continues to use Marc-Andre ter Stegen as his cup goalkeeper, with Claudio Bravo dropping to the bench.

Otherwise, the team was as expected. Jeremy Mathieu was ruled out through injury – and it was interesting to see Thomas Vermaelen on the bench following his injury problems – but there were no real surprises, this was Barcelona’s regular outfield starting side.

Bayern selection

Pep Guardiola, on his first return to the Camp Nou, was still without key players – particularly Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, who were so devastating in this fixture two seasons ago – but also David Alaba.

Guardiola’s team selection was very similar to the XI which started in the cup match against Dortmund last week. The only change was Bastian Schweinsteiger in for Mitchell Weiser, which hinted that Bayern would again use a three-man defence.

Match summary

Not so much a game of two halves – more a game of four quarters. First, Barcelona were dominant in the opening period, then Bayern stabilised the game before half-time but remained on the back foot. After the break, Bayern emerged re-energised and played their best football, but then Messi took charge and put the tie out of Bayern’s reach. Read more »