Croatia 3-0 Argentina: Sampaoli’s change of shape leaves Argentina exposed down the flanks

June 22, 2018
Croatia 3-0 Argentina: Sampaoli’s change of shape leaves Argentina exposed down the flanks

Croatia 3-0 Argentina is here.

England 2-1 Tunisia: set-piece routines create two goals for Kane (Independent.co.uk)

June 19, 2018
England 2-1 Tunisia: set-piece routines create two goals for Kane (Independent.co.uk)

England 2-1 Tunisia is here.

Mexico 1-0 Germany: Vela marks Kroos, Lozano speeds past Kimmich (Independent.co.uk)

June 18, 2018
Mexico 1-0 Germany: Vela marks Kroos, Lozano speeds past Kimmich (Independent.co.uk)

Mexico 1-0 Germany is here.

Portugal 3-3 Spain: Ronaldo scores a hattrick in a sensational game (Independent.co.uk)

June 16, 2018
Portugal 3-3 Spain: Ronaldo scores a hattrick in a sensational game (Independent.co.uk)

There will be minimal action on ZM over the World Cup, but I’m writing some ZM-style articles for the Independent website, so will link them from here!

Portugal 3-3 Spain is here.

Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool: freak goals hand Real their third straight European Cup

May 29, 2018
Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool: freak goals hand Real their third straight European Cup

Two crazy goalkeeping mistakes and an all-time great goal from substitute Gareth Bale earned Zinedine Zidane his third European Cup in three attempts.

Zidane decided to use his diamond midfield here, meaning Isco started instead of Bale, with Karim Benzema leading the line.

Jurgen Klopp’s side was as expected – injury problems meant he didn’t really have any selection dilemmas.

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Liverpool 3-0 Man City: City’s system & Liverpool’s pressing bring three goals in 30 mins

April 5, 2018
Liverpool 3-0 Man City: City’s system & Liverpool’s pressing bring three goals in 30 mins

Liverpool blitzed Manchester City in the opening half hour and take a massive lead to the Etihad next week.

Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI was as expected, with Loris Karius in goal and Dejan Lovren alongside Virgil van Dijk.

Sergio Aguero was injured. Pep Guardiola surprisingly omitted Raheem Sterling, perhaps as he’s previously performed poorly against his old club. Ilkay Gundogan was used instead, which hinted at an unusual system… Read more »

Juventus 0-0 Inter: Cuadrado-Mandzukic combination can’t quite provide the winner

December 11, 2017
Juventus 0-0 Inter: Cuadrado-Mandzukic combination can’t quite provide the winner

This match pitted six-time champions Juventus against surprise league leaders Inter, and produced an old-school Serie A game: patient, tactical, defences on top, but very much enthralling.

Juventus manager Max Allegri omitted Paulo Dybala from his starting XI – after an excellent start to the campaign, the Argentine has been off-form in recent weeks. Allegri opted for a more secure system with three central midfielders, plus Juan Cuadrado on the right and Mario Mandzukic wide-left.

Inter boss Luciano Spalletti has been very consistent with his team selection so far this season. The biggest area of change has been in midfield. Today, Matias Vecino returned, Marcelo Brozovic continued, and Roberto Gagliardini was left out.

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Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City: Guardiola uses his full-backs & wingers to get De Bruyne into space

October 2, 2017
Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City: Guardiola uses his full-backs & wingers to get De Bruyne into space

Chelsea came into this game on the back of a midweek victory at Atletico Madrid, probably the tactical performance of the season so far – they showed defensive discipline, midfield control and completely outwitted Diego Simeone’s usually-formidable Atletico.

The key was Antonio Conte’s use of 3-5-2, a modification upon the 3-4-3 that won Chelsea the league last season. This 3-5-2 allowed Eden Hazard to play centrally, and means Cesc Fabregas can be used in central midfield without Conte having to sacrifice one of his two disciplined defensive midfielders. Two big advantages.

But the 3-5-2 also has more of a weakness than the 3-4-3 – by increasing numbers in central positions, it means Chelsea have fewer men down the flanks. The wing-backs have to cover the flanks themselves – and it’s this weakness which Pep Guardiola exploited here, where City dominated from start to finish. Read more »

Real Madrid 4-1 Juventus: Real initially weak down the right, before dominating that flank

June 6, 2017
Real Madrid 4-1 Juventus: Real initially weak down the right, before dominating that flank

Real Madrid became the first club to retain the European Cup in its modern format, after an eventually comfortable 4-1 win in Cardiff.

Zinedine Zidane’s major selection dilemma was whether to pick Isco or Gareth Bale – but it seems Bale wasn’t close enough to full fitness to be seriously considered, and therefore Isco continued. Dani Carvajal was fit to play at right-back, with Danilo on the bench.

Max Allegri picked his expected side, in the flexible 4-2-3-1ish system that has become his established system in the knockout stage of this competition. Andrea Barzagli played on the right of defence, with Dani Alves more a midfielder than a wing-back.

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