Manchester City 0-2 Barcelona: City weather the storm before Demichelis tackle changes the tie

February 19, 2014
Manchester City 0-2 Barcelona: City weather the storm before Demichelis tackle changes the tie

Goals from Lionel Messi and Daniel Alves gave Barcelona a significant lead going into the second leg.

Manuel Pellegrini unsurprisingly switched to a 4-2-3-1 / 4-4-1-1 formation, but surprisingly named two left-backs in tandem, Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov. Fernandinho was fit to return in midfield, while Martin Demichelis played at the back.

Tata Martino was cautious with his team selection, playing Andres Iniesta on the left of a front three, with Cesc Fabregas in midfield.

Barcelona enjoyed unprecedented spells of possession for an away side at the Etihad, but failed to convert their dominance into clear-cut chances in the first half – before Demichelis’ rash tackle at the start of the second half changed the tie. Read more »

Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool: Arsenal more disciplined despite a rotated side

February 18, 2014
Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool: Arsenal more disciplined despite a rotated side

Arsenal narrowly won an extremely open cup tie.

Arsene Wenger rested various players ahead of the meeting with Bayern on Wednesday. The most interesting inclusion was striker Yaya Sanogo, making his first start.

Brendan Rodgers brought back Daniel Agger in place of Kolo Toure, selected Joe Allen rather than  Jordan Henderson, and also gave a runout to reserve goalkeeper Brad Jones.

Arsenal were much improved compared to last weekend, particularly in terms of positioning and organisation. Read more »

Fiorentina 1-2 Inter: Palacio’s positional variation crucial in Inter victory

February 17, 2014
Fiorentina 1-2 Inter: Palacio’s positional variation crucial in Inter victory

Fifth-placed Inter won at fourth-placed Fiorentina, cutting the game between them to five points.

Vincenzo Montella was still without Giuseppe Rossi and a host of defenders, with star midfielder Borja Valero suspended. Mario Gomez was fit enough to be on the bench, however, after a few months out – Joaquin and Josip Ilicic were upfront form the start.

Walter Mazzarri named an unchanged side from last weekend’s 1-0 win over Sassuolo.

Inter were the better side here – more organised without the ball and more purposeful with possession. Read more »

Manchester City 2-0 Chelsea: City stop Chelsea’s counter-attacks and win comfortably

February 17, 2014
Manchester City 2-0 Chelsea: City stop Chelsea’s counter-attacks and win comfortably

Manchester City gained revenge for their recent league defeat to Chelsea.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side was very different from that match, with Costel Pantilimon, Joleon Lescott, Gael Clichy, Javi Garcia, James Milner and Stevan Jovetic all included.

Jose Mourinho’s, however, named the closest thing possible to the XI that won at the Etihad. John Terry was out, so David Luiz moved back and John Obi Mikel came into the midfield.

City were significantly superior throughout, amazingly so given how how confidently they were beaten less than a fortnight ago. Read more »

Monaco 1-1 PSG: Ranieri switches to a diamond to prompt a Monaco fightback

February 12, 2014
Monaco 1-1 PSG: Ranieri switches to a diamond to prompt a Monaco fightback

For the second time this season, France’s top two played out a 1-1 draw.

Claudio Ranieri will be without Falcao for the rest of the campaign, and Dimitar Berbatov was only on the bench. He played a 4-4-2 system that became 4-2-2-2 when the wide players advanced, and drifted inside.

Laurent Blanc was without Edinson Cavani. He continued with a 4-3-3 system, with his new signing, Yohan Cabaye, also only on the bench.

This was a reasonably interesting match, where PSG dominated but Monaco did well to get themselves back into the game Read more »