Benfica 2-0 Porto: good midfield pressure and quick attacking from the home side

January 17, 2014
Benfica 2-0 Porto: good midfield pressure and quick attacking from the home side

Benfica went top of the league with a controlled, confident victory at the Estadio da Luz.

Jorge Jesus played his usual outfield players, although in goal Artur Moraes was unavailable so back-up Jan Oblak played instead. This was Nemanja Matic’s final game before his return to Chelsea.

Paolo Fonseca played Carlos Eduardo at the head of his midfield trio, with Lucho Gonzalez deeper, and Josue and Steven Defour on the bench. Nicolas Otamendi was at centre-back, rather than Maicon.

Benfica were clearly the better side throughout this contest, more organised without the ball and more purposeful in possession. Read more »

Atletico Madrid 0-0 Barcelona: different styles but similar lack of invention upfront

January 12, 2014
Atletico Madrid 0-0 Barcelona: different styles but similar lack of invention upfront

La Liga’s top of the table clash was intense and intriguing, but ultimately goalless.

Diego Simeone named his expected side, with right-back Juanfran available after his suspension was overturned.

Despite Lionel Messi’s return in midweek against Getafe, he wasn’t risked from the start – he joined Neymar on the bench, and Cesc Fabregas played as the false nine.

A draw was a fair result – both sides’ gameplan was clear, but the defences came out on top. Read more »

Atletico Madrid proving tackling can be a quality

January 10, 2014
Atletico Madrid proving tackling can be a quality

This weekend, Atletico Madrid host Barcelona at the Vicente Calderon stadium in the biggest game of the European season so far.

The two sides are level on points, and therefore it is literally a top of the table clash – La Liga’s rules mean teams are separated by head-to-head results rather than goal difference, and therefore having not played each other this season, the sides can’t be separated.

Halfway through the season, La Liga’s best two clubs are neck-and-neck, joint first. Read more »

Juventus 3-0 Roma: Juventus sit extremely deep to prevent Roma counter-attacking

January 6, 2014
Juventus 3-0 Roma: Juventus sit extremely deep to prevent Roma counter-attacking

Juventus took a big step towards a third consecutive title with a convincing victory over their closest challengers.

Antonio Conte welcomed back Andrea Pirlo in the deep playmaking position, and was able to select his first-choice starting XI.

Rudi Garcia had Francesco Totti back after injury, and opted for Adem Ljajic rather than Mattia Destro in the forward trio.

Juventus created little in open play, but defended solidly and pounced at set-pieces – it was something of an ‘underdog’ victory, even though the home side started as favourites. Read more »

Tottenham 0-5 Liverpool: Villas-Boas’ return to a high line results in him losing his job

December 16, 2013
Tottenham 0-5 Liverpool: Villas-Boas’ return to a high line results in him losing his job

Liverpool were completely dominant throughout the 90 minutes in a staggeringly one-sided game.

Andre Villas-Boas selected a team very similar to the XI that drew with Manchester United recently, although injury problems at the back forced him to play Etienne Capoue out of position at centre-back, and Kyle Naughton at left-back.

Brendan Rodgers named his expected side, with Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge out injured.

Liverpool ripped Spurs apart with impressive efficiency, but it was amazingly easy for them to penetrate the Spurs defence. Read more »