Olympiakos 2-0 Manchester United: Olympiakos brave with positioning and pressing

February 26, 2014
Olympiakos 2-0 Manchester United: Olympiakos brave with positioning and pressing

Manchester United produced their worst performance of David Moyes’ reign so far, and Olympiakos fully deserved their two-goal victory.

Michel was without Javier Saviola upfront, so Michael Olaitan led the line.

David Moyes selected his two most cautious options on the flanks, in an otherwise unsurprising team selection.

Olympiakos weren’t outstanding on the night, but their overall gameplan worked effectively. Read more »

Arsenal 0-2 Bayern: Bayern dominant down the right, especially after Arsenal reduced to ten

February 20, 2014
Arsenal 0-2 Bayern: Bayern dominant down the right, especially after Arsenal reduced to ten

Arsenal started excellently but Bayern increasingly demonstrated their superiority.

Arsene Wenger made the surprise decision to continue with Yaya Sanogo upfront – the Frenchman had only made his full debut in the weekend win over Liverpool.

Pep Guardiola also named a surprise XI, with Javi Martinez in the side and Philipp Lahm back in his old right-back role. Thomas Muller was only on the bench.

Arsenal were excellent for the first 10 minutes, but after Mesut Ozil’s missed penalty Bayern grew into the game, and were completely dominant after Wojciech Szczesny’s red card. Read more »

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 »

Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal: game over after 20 minutes thanks to superb one-touch football

February 10, 2014
Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal: game over after 20 minutes thanks to superb one-touch football

Liverpool produced the best spell of football the Premier League has seen this season, and recorded a crushing victory over the (former) league leaders.

Brendan Rodgers named an unchanged side, despite the option of fit-again Joe Allen. He’s still without four key defenders.

Arsene Wenger brought Jack Wilshere into the side, moving Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out to the right flank. Nacho Monreal continued at left-back.

This was such a convincing victory, and the game was won so quickly, that it almost defies analysis. Liverpool established their lead from two set-pieces but continually opened up Arsenal in open play, and were always ready to pounce on the counter-attack. Read more »

Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea: cautious team selection from Mourinho, but positive approach

February 4, 2014
Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea: cautious team selection from Mourinho, but positive approach

Chelsea kept a clean sheet and created a number of chances in a highly impressive away performance.

Manuel Pellegrini was without Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri and Fernandinho. He kept a 4-4-2 with Edin Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo upfront, and brought Martin Demichelis into the midfield.

Jose Mourinho left out Oscar and played a cautious midfield featuring both David Luiz and Nemanja Matic.

Chelsea were excellent here, working extremely hard without the ball, counter-attacking effectively and being more adventurous than expected. Read more »

Barcelona 2-3 Valencia: Valencia rewarded for bravery on the counter-attack

February 3, 2014
Barcelona 2-3 Valencia: Valencia rewarded for bravery on the counter-attack

Barcelona suffered their first home defeat of the season, to a Valencia side who had the third-worst away record in La Liga.

Tata Martino rested Andres Iniesta, and is still without Neymar.

Valencia had a busy few days in the transfer window – mainly with players departing. Helder Postiga, Ever Banega and Andres Guardado have all left the club. Juan Antonio Pizzi selected a cautious XI with five players across midfield, including two holding midfielders, while Jonas was only on the bench.

This was a peculiar game. Barcelona were utterly dominant for the first 40 minutes, with little sign Valencia were set to record an upset. This wasn’t exactly a masterclass from Pizzi, but elements of Valencia’s play – and particularly their bravery in getting men forward on the break – should be applauded. Read more »