Liverpool 4-0 Everton: direct football and Sturridge wide-left helps Liverpool win easily

January 29, 2014
Liverpool 4-0 Everton: direct football and Sturridge wide-left helps Liverpool win easily

Another high-scoring Merseyside derby – but this time, the goals were all at one end.

Brendan Rodgers was without Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger, Mamadou Sakho, Jose Enrique, Joe Allen and Lucas Leiva, so had a patched-up back four, with Steven Gerrard in the deepest midfield role.

Roberto Martinez welcomed back Ross Barkley, but was without both Sylvain Distin and Seamus Coleman.

In an extremely intense, fast-paced match, Liverpool effectively sealed the victory by half-time. Read more »

Chelsea 3-1 Man United: Moyes’ use of Januzaj proves clever, but United sloppy at the back

January 20, 2014
Chelsea 3-1 Man United: Moyes’ use of Januzaj proves clever, but United sloppy at the back

Samuel Eto’o scored a hattrick as Chelsea convincingly defeated Manchester United without playing particularly well.

Jose Mourinho welcomed back Branislav Ivanovic, meaning Cesar Azpilicueta reverted to left-back and Ashley Cole was dropped. Nemanja Matic was on the bench, while Eto’o got the nod over Fernando Torres upfront.

David Moyes brought Phil Jones into his midfield and played Ashley Young on the left, moving Adnan Januzaj central and dropping Shinji Kagawa.

Manchester United actually started very well, but an unfortunate concession and sloppy set-piece defending let them down. Read more »

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 »