Liverpool 3-2 Manchester City: Liverpool start superbly, City respond after the break

April 14, 2014
Liverpool 3-2 Manchester City: Liverpool start superbly, City respond after the break

Philippe Coutinho’s late goal handed Liverpool a crucial victory in a superb match.

Brendan Rodgers named his expected XI, which meant Joe Allen – often an option in big games – only on the bench.

Manuel Pellegrini played Gael Clichy ahead of Aleksandar Kolarov because of his his defensive discipline, and decided Sergio Aguero wasn’t fit enough to start the game, so continued with a 4-2-3-1 and Edin Dzeko upfront alone.

This was the classic game of two halves – Liverpool were dominant in the first period, Manchester City were superior after the break. Read more »

Atletico 1-0 Barcelona: Gabi v Busquets, and pressing the opposition keeper?

April 11, 2014
Atletico 1-0 Barcelona: Gabi v Busquets, and pressing the opposition keeper?

At the fifth time of asking this season, a contest between these two finally produced a winner – Atletico deservedly progressing to the semi-finals.

Diego Simeone was without two key players. Diego Costa hadn’t recovered from limping off in the first leg, and Arda Turan was also out. This meant Adrian Lopez played upfront and Raul Garcia played on the right of midfield.

Tata Martino continued with Cesc Fabregas and Neymar in the side, while Marc Bartra started as Gerard Pique was absent.

Atletico should have had the game wrapped up inside the first half, creating a number of great opportunities and hitting the woodwork three times. Read more »

Bayern Munich 3-1 Manchester United: Guardiola uses his full-backs in midfield, but Bayern better with a standard system

April 10, 2014
Bayern Munich 3-1 Manchester United: Guardiola uses his full-backs in midfield, but Bayern better with a standard system

Pep Guardiola played an unusual system, but it didn’t help Bayern break down Manchester United.

Guardiola fielded Toni Kroos in the pivot role, with Thomas Muller in midfield and Mario Mandzukic returning upfront.

David Moyes brought Shinji Kagawa and Darren Fletcher into his midfield, and recalled Patrice Evra and Chris Smalling at the back.

The pattern of the game wasn’t significantly different from the first leg, and the major talking point was Guardiola’s use of his two full-backs. Read more »

Chelsea 2-0 PSG: Mourinho takes risks late on

April 9, 2014
Chelsea 2-0 PSG: Mourinho takes risks late on

Chelsea recorded the 2-0 victory they required to progress on away goals.

Jose Mourinho welcomed back Samuel Eto’o upfront, although was without Nemanja Matic and Ramires in the centre of midfield. Eden Hazard started on the left, but lasted only a quarter of the game before being replaced by Andre Schurrle.

Laurent Blanc was without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, so moved Edinson Cavani upfront and brought on Lucas Moura down the right, which promised more counter-attacking thrust.

This was a tense but poor quality game for this level, and the major tactical interest was how Chelsea became more attacking late on. Read more »