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 »

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 »