Juventus 1-0 Milan: Milan press Pirlo at goal-kicks, but not in midfield

April 22, 2013
Juventus 1-0 Milan: Milan press Pirlo at goal-kicks, but not in midfield

A reverse of the previous meeting between the sides – the only goal came from the penalty spot in another disappointing contest.

Antonio Conte continued with the 3-5-1-1 that worked excellently away at Lazio, with Giorgio Chiellini returningin place of Federico Peluso.

Max Allegri was still without Mario Balotelli, and Mathieu Flamini was also banned. Massimo Ambrosini played the deep midfield role, with Riccardo Montolivo to the right and Kevin-Prince Boateng to the left.

This was a slow-paced, attritional contest with little technical quality – most shots were from long-range. Read more »

Tottenham 3-1 Manchester City: Villas-Boas’ second half formation switch changes the game

April 21, 2013
Tottenham 3-1 Manchester City: Villas-Boas’ second half formation switch changes the game

Manchester City dominated the first half, but some clever substitutions from Andre Villas-Boas meant Tottenham had a storming final 20 minutes.

Villas-Boas was able to select Gareth Bale from the start, although Aaron Lennon is still unavailable. Emmanuel Adebayor was favoured over Jermain Defoe.

Roberto Mancini was without David Silva and Sergio Aguero wasn’t 100% fit, so Edin Dzeko started upfront.

This was a game of two halves – Spurs eventually recorded a fine victory, but City had been very impressive before half-time. Read more »

Valencia 5-1 Malaga: Jonas and Canales’ narrowness allows Banega freedom to dominate

April 21, 2013
Valencia 5-1 Malaga: Jonas and Canales’ narrowness allows Banega freedom to dominate

Valencia thrashed Malaga thanks to four goals in an amazing eight-minute first half period.

Ernesto Valverde brought in Adil Rami and David Albelda for the two Costas, Ricardo and Tino.

Manuel Pellegrini was still without Jeremy Toulalan, so named an unchanged side from the 1-0 win over Osasuna.

The eight-minute spell was a freak period of play that decided the game – but it was an exaggerated reflection of Valencia’s dominance, rather than a false one. Read more »

PSV 2-3 Ajax: Eriksen’s influence helps Ajax attack down the wings

April 16, 2013
PSV 2-3 Ajax: Eriksen’s influence helps Ajax attack down the wings

Ajax recorded a crucial victory over their major rivals for the league title.

Frank De Boer brought Christian Poulsen into the side in the holding role, meaning Lasse Schone moved out to the right in place of Derk Boerrigter, who was on the bench.

Dick Advocaat left out Tim Matavz, with Dries Mertens returning to the side on the left flank, and Jeremain Lens playing as the primary striker.

In terms of quality, this match was underwhelming – neither played their best football. Read more »

Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea: City start brightly but Chelsea rally late on

April 15, 2013
Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea: City start brightly but Chelsea rally late on

Manchester City won a surprisingly attack-minded game at Wembley.

Roberto Mancini was without David Silva, so started Sergio Aguero after his excellent goal at Old Trafford on Monday. Costel Pantilimon continued as City’s dedicated FA Cup goalkeeper.

Rafael Benitez used his three creators behind Demba Ba – Frank Lampard and John Terry continue to be left out.

City played better football over the 90 minutes, although frequently made the wrong decisions in the final third. Read more »

Juventus 0-2 Bayern Munich: Bayern initially struggle with the tempo, then close out the tie

April 12, 2013
Juventus 0-2 Bayern Munich: Bayern initially struggle with the tempo, then close out the tie

This was expected to be the closest tie of the Champions League quarter-final stage, but was actually won by the biggest margin.

Antonio Conte was without the suspended duo of Arturo Vidal and Stephane Lichtsteiner, so he played Paul Pogba and Federico Peluso. Mirko Vucinic returned to the side upfront.

Jupp Heynckes welcomed back Javi Martinez from suspension, but otherwise continued with the side that played the majority of the first leg, after Toni Kroos’ injury.

Juventus started the game brightly, but Bayern eventually took command and calmed the tempo of the game. Read more »

Barcelona 1-1 PSG: Ancelotti replicates first leg tactics, but Messi fit enough to have an impact

April 11, 2013
Barcelona 1-1 PSG: Ancelotti replicates first leg tactics, but Messi fit enough to have an impact

PSG were elimintated on the away goals rule following a good counter-attacking display.

Tito Vilanova named Lionel Messi on the bench, with Cesc Fabregas deployed upfront after his weekend hattrick. Adriano played alongside Gerard Pique at the back.

Carlo Ancelotti was without the suspended Blaise Matudi, so used Marco Verratti alongside Thiago Motta, with David Beckham on the bench.

This was similar to the first leg – both sides used broadly the same strategy, and while Barcelona dominated possession, PSG threatened on the break. Read more »

Galatasaray 3-2 Real Madrid: Terim’s half-time switch gives Galatasaray hope

April 10, 2013
Galatasaray 3-2 Real Madrid: Terim’s half-time switch gives Galatasaray hope

Cristiano Ronaldo’s early strike left Galatasaray needing five – and they created enough chances to give Real a fright.

Without Burak Yilmaz, Fatih Terim brought in Umut Bulut and stuck to his diamond system, rather than switching to a 4-4-1-1, as rumoured.

Jose Mourinho was without Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos – he named the expected outfield side with Gonzalo Higuain upfront. Diego Lopez continued in goal.

Real’s early goal suggested the tie was over – but Galatasaray stormed back. Read more »

Dortmund 3-2 Malaga: Pellegrini’s side defend well, but are unable to cope with late pressure

April 10, 2013
Dortmund 3-2 Malaga: Pellegrini’s side defend well, but are unable to cope with late pressure

An astonishing stoppage time turnaround means Dortmund to progress to the semi-finals.

Jurgen Klopp used Jakub Blaszczykowski as his winger, rather than left-sided Kevin Grosskreutz, so Marco Reus started from the left. Sven Bender returned, but Mats Hummels was only on the bench.

With a couple of suspensions to cope with, Manuel Pellegrini brought in Sergio Sanchez and Ignacio Camacho. He pushed Julio Baptista upfront, dropping Javier Saviola, with Duda coming into the side.

Malaga coped well for most of the game – and two goals should have been enough to see them through. Read more »

Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City: City’s attackers combine well throughout

April 8, 2013
Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City: City’s attackers combine well throughout

Manchester City produced a fine performance to record a rare victory at Old Trafford.

Sir Alex Ferguson played two attack-minded wide players, with Ryan Giggs in the centre and Tom Cleverley only on the bench. Phil Jones continued alongside Rio Ferdinand in the centre of defence.

Roberto Mancini left out Sergio Aguero, favouring Carlos Tevez as a lone striker with David Silva just behind.

City were significantly better here – they dominated the first half, took the lead in the second, and Mancini used his bench better too. Read more »