Fiorentina 1-2 Roma: early goal allows Roma to sit back and counter

October 28, 2015
Fiorentina 1-2 Roma: early goal allows Roma to sit back and counter

A top-of-the-table clash – Fiorentina started the weekend top, but Roma’s victory means they are Serie A’s new leaders.

Fiorentina coach Paulo Sousa would have kept an unchanged team from the side that was defeated at Napoli last weekend, but was forced to cope without injured left-wing-back Marcos Alonso. His solution was surprising: rather than bring ready-made replacement Manuel Pasqual into the side, he instead used Josip Ilicic from the start, which meant inexperienced attacking midfielder Federico Bernadeschi moving from a number ten role to the left-wing-back slot.

Rudi Garcia used a strikerless system in the thrilling 4-4 draw with Bayer Leverkusen, but welcomed back Edin Dzeko upfront here. Therefore, he used a 4-3-3: Alessandro Florenzi dropped back from midfield to right-back, with Vasilis Torosidis on the bench.
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Bayern 5-1 Dortmund: formation switches, width and long balls expose Dortmund

October 6, 2015
Bayern 5-1 Dortmund: formation switches, width and long balls expose Dortmund

Bayern Munich maintained their 100% record in the Bundesliga by thrashing second-placed Borussia Dortmund.

Pep Guardiola brought Jerome Boateng and Mario Gotze back into his side, although surprisingly Arturo Vidal remained on the bench. This seemed set to be a straightforward 4-2-3-1 system, although Guardiola had other ideas up his sleeve.

Thomas Tuchel, facing Bayern for the first time since succeeding Jurgen Klopp as coach, was only able to name Marco Reus as a substitute for fitness reasons, and also had defensive issues that he patched up rather unconvincingly. Read more »

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┬áHecking’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 »