Chelsea 2-0 PSG: Mourinho takes risks late on

April 9, 2014
Chelsea 2-0 PSG: Mourinho takes risks late on

Chelsea recorded the 2-0 victory they required to progress on away goals.

Jose Mourinho welcomed back Samuel Eto’o upfront, although was without Nemanja Matic and Ramires in the centre of midfield. Eden Hazard started on the left, but lasted only a quarter of the game before being replaced by Andre Schurrle.

Laurent Blanc was without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, so moved Edinson Cavani upfront and brought on Lucas Moura down the right, which promised more counter-attacking thrust.

This was a tense but poor quality game for this level, and the major tactical interest was how Chelsea became more attacking late on. Read more »

Everton 3-0 Arsenal: Everton maintain their challenge for fourth place

April 7, 2014
Everton 3-0 Arsenal: Everton maintain their challenge for fourth place

Everton outfoxed Arsenal with a surprise strategy and some clever movement.

Roberto Martinez wasn’t able to welcome back Phil Jagielka, but John Stones has been excellent as his replacement. Ross Barkley was left out, with Leon Osman favoured – but Osman barely lasted ten minutes before getting injured, and Barkley replaced him.

Arsene Wenger is without the preferred left side of his defence, as well as Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott. Aaron Ramsey was on the bench after three months out, alongside Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who had been expected to return.

Everton have often won games late on this season, but here they took command in the first half and sealed the contest on the hour mark. Read more »

Barcelona 1-1 Atletico: a predictable pattern, and two great goals

April 5, 2014
Barcelona 1-1 Atletico: a predictable pattern, and two great goals

Atletico and Barcelona played out their fourth draw of the 2013/14 campaign – with two crucial meetings still to come…

Tato Martino selected his expected side for this match: his ‘big game’ shape with Cesc Fabregas in midfield, Andres Iniesta out on the left and Neymar on the right. Gerard Pique didn’t last the first half, and was replaced by Marc Bartra.

Diego Simeone also named his expected side, and Atletico also suffered from an injury. Diego Costa was doubtful before the game and pulled up midway through the first half. He was replaced by Brazilian playmaker Diego, who played behind David Villa.

The first half was slow and cautious, the second much more intense – but the overriding feeling was that these two sides knew each other too well, and the tactical battle was rather familiar. It was more notable for minor points of interest, rather than the overall pattern – which was entirely as expected. Read more »

Manchester United 1-1 Bayern Munich: Welbeck causes problems upfront but Bayern attack down the right

April 4, 2014
Manchester United 1-1 Bayern Munich: Welbeck causes problems upfront but Bayern attack down the right

Bayern started as overwhelming favourites and dominated for the majority of the game, but Manchester United caused problems and weren’t flattered by a draw.

David Moyes had both first-choice full-backs out, so Phil Jones and Alexander Buttner played in those positions. Further forward, Moyes picked Ryan Giggs after his excellent game against Olympiakos in the previous round. Juan Mata is cup-tied.

Pep Guardiola was without Dante so Javi Martinez played at the back. Mario Gotze was only on the bench, as was Mario Mandzukic – Thomas Muller led the line.

Bayern had lots of possession, but didn’t create better goalscoring opportunities than Manchester United. Read more »