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Roma 1-1 Juventus: Juve revert to a back three and sit deep

March 4, 2015
Roma 1-1 Juventus: Juve revert to a back three and sit deep

Juventus played for, and achieved, the draw which means they remain firm favourites for a fourth consecutive Serie A title.

Roma selection

Rudi Garcia’s side was largely as expected, with Francesco Totti playing the false nine role, and Adem Ljajic on the right flank.

The only change from the Europa League victory over Feyenoord was in goal, where Morgan De Sanctis returned.

Juventus selection

Max Allegri switched to a three-man defence – although, in reality, it was more of a back five. Martin Caceres came into the side.

Andrea Pirlo was injured and Paul Pogba on the bench, so Claudio Marchisio and Roberto Pereyra played instead.

Match summary

Roma had the majority of possession, but Juventus defended extremely well in open play, and counter-attacked dangerously too. Allegri’s side had the upper hand throughout. Read more »

Juventus 2-1 Dortmund: Juve bypass the midfield press for both goals

February 25, 2015
Juventus 2-1 Dortmund: Juve bypass the midfield press for both goals

Juventus saw little of possession, but attacked clinically to take a one-goal lead into the second leg.

Juventus selection

Max Allegri named his expected side in a 4-4-2 diamond system.

Andrea Pirlo limped off midway through the first half, however, with Roberto Perreyra replacing him, and Claudio Marchisio dropping back into the deep midfield position.

Dortmund selection

Jurgen Klopp decided to pick Henrikh Mkhitaryan rather than Shinji Kagawa, which made sense when it became apparent he was tucking into a 4-3-3 system, rather than playing as the number ten in a 4-2-3-1, Dortmund’s more customary shape.

Right-back Lukasz Piszczek was another injury casualty, with Matthias Ginter replacing him and Soktatis Papastathopoulous moving right.

Match summary

Dortmund had plenty of possession but rarely created clear-cut chances, while Juve sat deep and counter-attacked quickly through their front two. Read more »

PSG 1-1 Chelsea: PSG dominate down the left

February 18, 2015
PSG 1-1 Chelsea: PSG dominate down the left

PSG dominated by constantly attacking effectively down the left, and Chelsea relied on Thibaut Courtois to secure a valuable away draw.

PSG selection

Laurent Blanc was without the likes of Thiago Motta, Yohan Cabaye and Lucas Moura through injury, which caused him problems in midfield – although the fact Blaise Matuidi was fit to start was a huge boost.

Blanc played David Luiz in midfield for the first time with Marquinhos coming into the defence, and Edinson Cavani returned to the attack.

Chelsea selection

Jose Mourinho went cautious in midfield, bringing in Ramires and moving Cesc Fabregas to the top of his midfield trio, with Oscar omitted.

Gary Cahill replaced Kurt Zouma, and Thibaut Courtois returned in goal, despite Petr Cech excelling against Everton last week, and Diego Costa played his first game in three weeks as he’s currently serving a domestic suspension.

Match summary

This was cautious and cagey in the beginning, before gradually opening out – although neither manager was adventurous enough to make attack-minded changes and go for the victory.
Read more »

Atletico Madrid 4-0 Real Madrid: Atletico solid in central areas when defending and fluid to cause overloads out wide when attacking

February 10, 2015
Atletico Madrid 4-0 Real Madrid: Atletico solid in central areas when defending and fluid to cause overloads out wide when attacking

This was the sixth Madrid derby of the season, and Atletico remain unbeaten in those matches. This was their most convincing performance to date.

Atletico selection

Diego Simeone made various changes having rotated for the win over Eibar the previous weekend, with the likes of Juanfran, Miranda, Arda Turan and Gabi all returning, but this was essentially returning to Atletico’s standard first XI. There was an early blow, when Koke limped off, with Saul introduced in his place.

Real Madrid selection

Carlo Ancelotti was without both Pepe and Sergio Ramos, which meant Nacho played alongside Raphael Varane at the heart of the defence. Marcelo was also out, so Fabio Coentrao played left-back, while James Rodriguez has joined Luka Modric on the sidelines. Cristiano Ronaldo returned after suspension.

Match summary

Atletico started at a ferocious pace, and took the lead early. From then, their counter-attacking game worked brilliantly with Real pushing players forward, and the result was never in doubt – the 4-0 scoreline is an entirely accurate reflection of the home side’s dominance. Read more »