Real Madrid 1-1 Atletico Madrid: Real victorious on penalties

May 30, 2016
Real Madrid 1-1 Atletico Madrid: Real victorious on penalties

Atletico Madrid started poorly – but Diego Simeone’s half-time switch put them in charge.

Zinedine Zidane named his expected starting XI. There were few selection decisions to make – Cristiano Ronaldo was doubtful but assured of his starting place, even if not 100% fit. Indeed, the more the match continued, the more it became obvious Ronaldo wasn’t playing at his physical peak.

Simeone made one selection decision of note, preferring Stefan Savic at centre-back in place of Jose Gimenez. Although Savic has played only half as much as Gimenez this season, he’s generally looked more commanding and authoritative – and, significantly, less error-prone.

Real played roughly as expected, but Atletico were surprisingly sloppy in the early stages. Read more »

Atletico Madrid 2-2 Bayern Munich (agg): Atletico progress on away goals

May 5, 2016
Atletico Madrid 2-2 Bayern Munich (agg): Atletico progress on away goals

Atletico narrowly progressed from a tight and extremely entertaining two-legged tie, as Bayern struggled to find the most suitable system for breaking down their opponents.

First leg

Diego Simeone was without star centre-back Diego Godin at the Vicente Calderon, so Stefan Savic started instead. Fernando Torres returned having served his suspension in the second leg of the quarter-final against Barcelona, and partnered Antoine Griezmann in Atletico’s compact 4-4-2 system.

Pep Guardiola surprisingly omitted Thomas Muller from his starting XI. He fielded two out-and-out wingers, Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman, on their natural flanks to help Bayern stretch the play. Read more »

Bayern 4-2 Juventus: flexible system puts Juve in charge, but Bayern subs prompt comeback

March 18, 2016
Bayern 4-2 Juventus: flexible system puts Juve in charge, but Bayern subs prompt comeback

Bayern achieved a brilliant comeback in one of the best Champions League knockout games for many years.

Pep Guardiola was without Arjen Robben, so Douglas Costa switched to the right flank with Franck Ribery playing on the left. Xabi Alonso started in the holding role rather than Thiago, while Mehdi Benatia was at centre-back, with David Alaba on the left and Juan Bernat on the bench.

Max Allegri had major injury problems, without Claudio Marchisio and Paulo Dybala from the XI which started the first leg, and Giorgio Chiellini still out too. Alvaro Morata played upfront instead of Dybala, and Hernanes started in place of Marchisio – but the real point of interest was Juve’s overall system.

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Manchester City 1-3 Leicester: early goal allows Leicester to play on the break

February 10, 2016
Manchester City 1-3 Leicester: early goal allows Leicester to play on the break

Leicester’s incredible season continues – they’re now five points clear at the top of the Premier League after this convincing victory.

Manuel Pellegrini’s most interesting selections were down his left flank. Fabian Delph was fielded in a narrow left-sided role, as he was for the 2-1 defeat to Arsenal shortly before Christmas, while Pellegrini also selected his more attack-minded left-back, Aleksandar Kolarov. This was likely to be a key zone considering Riyad Mahrez plays on that side and Jamie Vardy often drifts towards the inside-right channel. Pablo Zabaleta started over Bacary Sagna on the opposite side.

Claudio Ranieri rarely rotates his side – this was the fourth consecutive game he’d deployed this XI from the start.

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