Atletico Madrid 2-2 Real Madrid: Atleti’s energy dominates midfield, but proves unsustainable

March 6, 2014
Atletico Madrid 2-2 Real Madrid: Atleti’s energy dominates midfield, but proves unsustainable

Despite Real’s early lead, Atletico dominated the first half – but tiredness caught up with them.

Diego Simeone decided to leave David Villa on the bench, using Raul Garcia as a number ten.

Carlo Ancelotti continued with the midfield and defence that had thrashed Schalke, but went for cautious options at full-back.

This was a standard Madrid derby: high-tempo and scrappy. Karim Benzema put Real into an early lead following a set-piece, but from then Atletico dominated. Real remain the title favourites – see online betting.

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Manchester City 3-1 Sunderland: City win the cup despite a fine Sunderland display

March 3, 2014
Manchester City 3-1 Sunderland: City win the cup despite a fine Sunderland display

Two superb goals saved the day for City, after they’d struggled to break down a well-drilled Sunderland side.

Manuel Pellegrini welcomed back Sergio Aguero, who partnered Edin Dzeko upfront. Samir Nasri was selected on the right, with Aleksandar Kolarov at left-back. Costel Pantilimon continued as the ‘cup’ goalkeeper.

Gustavo Poyet dropped striker Jozy Altidore from the squad and pushed Fabio Borini upfront, with Sebastian Larsson coming into the side, while Wes Brown returned after suspension and Lee Cattermole replaced the cup-tied Liam Bridcutt.

Sunderland’s starting approach worked nicely and they responded impressively after going 2-1 down – tactically, they deserve great credit for this performance. Read more »

Galatasaray 1-1 Chelsea: Mancini takes early action to correct his initial error

February 27, 2014
Galatasaray 1-1 Chelsea: Mancini takes early action to correct his initial error

Chelsea were completely dominant for the first half hour, but Roberto Mancini’s early substitution meant the game became more even.

Mancini surprisingly named a 4-4-2 system from the start, with Izet Hajrovic on the right flank, and Wesley Sneijder tucking inside from the left.

Jose Mourinho used Willian in the centre, two direct wide options down the flanks, and a mobile central midfield zone in the absence of cup-tied Nemanja Matic.

Chelsea should have won the game in the opening half hour, but Galatasaray fought back commendably. Read more »

Olympiakos 2-0 Manchester United: Olympiakos brave with positioning and pressing

February 26, 2014
Olympiakos 2-0 Manchester United: Olympiakos brave with positioning and pressing

Manchester United produced their worst performance of David Moyes’ reign so far, and Olympiakos fully deserved their two-goal victory.

Michel was without Javier Saviola upfront, so Michael Olaitan led the line.

David Moyes selected his two most cautious options on the flanks, in an otherwise unsurprising team selection.

Olympiakos weren’t outstanding on the night, but their overall gameplan worked effectively. Read more »

Arsenal 0-2 Bayern: Bayern dominant down the right, especially after Arsenal reduced to ten

February 20, 2014
Arsenal 0-2 Bayern: Bayern dominant down the right, especially after Arsenal reduced to ten

Arsenal started excellently but Bayern increasingly demonstrated their superiority.

Arsene Wenger made the surprise decision to continue with Yaya Sanogo upfront – the Frenchman had only made his full debut in the weekend win over Liverpool.

Pep Guardiola also named a surprise XI, with Javi Martinez in the side and Philipp Lahm back in his old right-back role. Thomas Muller was only on the bench.

Arsenal were excellent for the first 10 minutes, but after Mesut Ozil’s missed penalty Bayern grew into the game, and were completely dominant after Wojciech Szczesny’s red card. Read more »