PSG 1-1 Chelsea: PSG dominate down the left

February 18, 2015
PSG 1-1 Chelsea: PSG dominate down the left

PSG dominated by constantly attacking effectively down the left, and Chelsea relied on Thibaut Courtois to secure a valuable away draw.

PSG selection

Laurent Blanc was without the likes of Thiago Motta, Yohan Cabaye and Lucas Moura through injury, which caused him problems in midfield – although the fact Blaise Matuidi was fit to start was a huge boost.

Blanc played David Luiz in midfield for the first time with Marquinhos coming into the defence, and Edinson Cavani returned to the attack.

Chelsea selection

Jose Mourinho went cautious in midfield, bringing in Ramires and moving Cesc Fabregas to the top of his midfield trio, with Oscar omitted.

Gary Cahill replaced Kurt Zouma, and Thibaut Courtois returned in goal, despite Petr Cech excelling against Everton last week, and Diego Costa played his first game in three weeks as he’s currently serving a domestic suspension.

Match summary

This was cautious and cagey in the beginning, before gradually opening out – although neither manager was adventurous enough to make attack-minded changes and go for the victory.
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Atletico Madrid 4-0 Real Madrid: Atletico solid in central areas when defending and fluid to cause overloads out wide when attacking

February 10, 2015
Atletico Madrid 4-0 Real Madrid: Atletico solid in central areas when defending and fluid to cause overloads out wide when attacking

This was the sixth Madrid derby of the season, and Atletico remain unbeaten in those matches. This was their most convincing performance to date.

Atletico selection

Diego Simeone made various changes having rotated for the win over Eibar the previous weekend, with the likes of Juanfran, Miranda, Arda Turan and Gabi all returning, but this was essentially returning to Atletico’s standard first XI. There was an early blow, when Koke limped off, with Saul introduced in his place.

Real Madrid selection

Carlo Ancelotti was without both Pepe and Sergio Ramos, which meant Nacho played alongside Raphael Varane at the heart of the defence. Marcelo was also out, so Fabio Coentrao played left-back, while James Rodriguez has joined Luka Modric on the sidelines. Cristiano Ronaldo returned after suspension.

Match summary

Atletico started at a ferocious pace, and took the lead early. From then, their counter-attacking game worked brilliantly with Real pushing players forward, and the result was never in doubt – the 4-0 scoreline is an entirely accurate reflection of the home side’s dominance. Read more »

ZM joins Football Collective

February 10, 2015
ZM joins Football Collective

Zonal Marking is pleased to be the latest blog added to the Football Collective network.

Football Collective is a place that brings bloggers together to provide a 360-degree view of the game’s biggest stories.

Established in Berlin, Germany, but with its partner blogs located around the world, Football Collective is a blog aggregator cut from a different trikot.

FC is committed to preserving the identity its partner blogs have long established, while also empowering them to concentrate on what they love most – covering their respective clubs.

Valuing quality over quantity, Football Collective’s focus is not breaking news but breaking through the barriers that bloggers may face, bringing the fierce devotion to their clubs to one network.

This week’s analysis of Atletico 4-0 Real is an example of how the partnership will work – with a widget displaying links to high-quality articles about the same game.

Wolfsburg 4-1 Bayern: Wolfsburg nullify Alonso and switch play effectively on the break

February 4, 2015
Wolfsburg 4-1 Bayern: Wolfsburg nullify Alonso and switch play effectively on the break

Bayern conceded four goals – as many as they’d let in during the entire first half of the Bundesliga season – and were completely outplayed throughout.

Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking brought Daniel Caliguiri into the side on the right, which meant Vieirinha was pushed back to a relatively unfamiliar full-back role. In the centre, Max Arnold got the nod over Joshua Guilavogui.

Pep Guardiola started with a 4-1-4-1 system. Mario Gotze was only on the bench, while Bayern continue to suffer from injury problems, particularly in midfield positions.

Wolfsburg’s performance here was outstanding, and this was one of the best counter-attacking performances of the season. Read more »

Man City 0-2 Arsenal: impressive defensive performance from Arsenal earns fine victory

January 19, 2015
Man City 0-2 Arsenal: impressive defensive performance from Arsenal earns fine victory

Arsenal produced a tactically mature performance, largely nullifying Manchester City’s attacking threats.

Manchester City selection

Manuel Pellegrini welcomed back Sergio Aguero, who played as the lone striker with David Silva just behind, and captain Vincent Kompany. City still have some key players unavailable: Samir Nasri is injured, while Yaya Toure is at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Arsenal selection

Arsene Wenger decided against using fit-again Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott, although Aaron Ramsey returned to take the place of Tomas Rosicky. There were a couple of inexperienced players in the side: Hector Bellerin and Francis Coquelin were notable starters. Meanwhile, Nacho Monreal got the nod over Kieran Gibbs, and David Ospina continued in goal with Wojciech Szczesny on the bench.

Match summary

This was a distinctly unArsenal performance – they defended deep and with great compactness, although their attacking in open play was unusually poor, and they should probably have created more genuine goalscoring opportunities on the break.

Nevertheless, it adds to the idea that Arsenal have become a more tactically flexible and reactive side when needed, which could prove crucial in the second half of the campaign as they compete on three fronts.

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Barcelona 3-1 Atletico: Suarez’s running brings out the best of Messi and Neymar on the flanks

January 14, 2015
Barcelona 3-1 Atletico: Suarez’s running brings out the best of Messi and Neymar on the flanks

Barcelona completely outplayed reigning champions Atletico Madrid, with Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez’s excellent combinations particularly impressive.

Luis Enrique fielded Ivan Rakitic rather than Xavi Hernandez in midfield, and played both his attacking full-backs in tandem.

The most interesting part of Diego Simeone’s team selection was the decision to play Jesus Gamez, usually a right-back, on the left of his defence – regular left-back Guilherme Siqueira was on the bench, and presumably not 100% fit.

Barcelona’s performance in isolation was more interesting than the clash between the systems, and after a week of turmoil this was a desperately needed victory for Luis Enrique. Read more »