Italy 4-3 Japan: Italy start terribly but Prandelli makes an early change to prompt a comeback

June 21, 2013
Italy 4-3 Japan: Italy start terribly but Prandelli makes an early change to prompt a comeback

Italy were rather fortunate to win an amazingly open match.

Against Mexico, Italy were superb down the left but disappointing down the right, so Cesare Prandelli kept the left flank intact and changed two players on the right of his 4-3-2-1 – Christian Maggio replaced Ignazio Abate, while Alberto Aquilani came in for Claudio Marchisio.

Alberto Zaccheroni, up against his home country, brought in Ryoichi Maeda upfront, moved Shinji Okazaki to the right, and dropped Hiroshi Kiyotake.

Japan were excellent in the first half hour, but a combination of Prandelli’s substitution and a crazy, end-to-end game somehow let Italy back in. Read more »

Brazil 2-0 Mexico: Brazil start strongly but fade

June 20, 2013
Brazil 2-0 Mexico: Brazil start strongly but fade

The opening suggested Brazil would win comfortably – but they spent the majority of the second half clinging onto a one-goal lead.

Luiz Felipe Scolari kept the same XI that defeated Japan in the opening game.

On the right flank, Jose Manuel de la Torre stuck with the duo that ended the defeat to Italy – Gerardo Flores on the wing and Hiram Mier at full-back, with winger Javier Aquino on the bench. Carlos Salcido switched from left-back to the centre of midfield, with Jorge Nilo coming into the side.

Brazil started ferociously and pinned Mexico back into their own half, but their overall performance was disappointing. Read more »

Spain 2-1 Uruguay: Del Bosque changes his midfield structure, Uruguay are disorganised

June 18, 2013
Spain 2-1 Uruguay: Del Bosque changes his midfield structure, Uruguay are disorganised

Spain’s level of dominance should have resulted in a much more emphatic victory.

Xabi Alonso is unavailable for the Confederations Cup because of injury, and in his absence Vicente del Bosque changed the structure of his side, using Sergio Busquets as the sole holder, moving Xavi Hernandez into the role he plays at Barcelona, and introducing Cesc Fabregas as a number ten who could drive forward at the opposition defence. Roberto Soldado played upfront.

Oscar Tabarez left Diego Forlan on the bench, with Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez upfront. Gaston Ramirez and Cristian Rodriguez were the attacking midfielders, with Walter Gargano in the middle.

Spain’s possession dominance was astonishing in the first period, as Uruguay struggled to get out of their own half. Read more »

Italy 2-1 Mexico: Italy excel down the left flank

June 18, 2013
Italy 2-1 Mexico: Italy excel down the left flank

Italy dominated for the majority of the match, and Mario Balotelli was a fitting matchwinner.

Cesare Prandelli selected a 4-3-2-1 system, using Juventus duo Claudio Marchisio and Emanuele Giaccherini behind lone striker Balotelli.

Mexico coach Jose Manuel de la Torre used a standard 4-2-3-1 system, playing Giovani dos Santos behind Javier Hernandez.

Mexico had some bright moments, particularly through the lively Dos Santos – but Italy were the better side, and created more goalscoring opportunities. Read more »

Brazil 3-0 Japan: Brazil start the Confederations Cup with an encouraging performance

June 16, 2013
Brazil 3-0 Japan: Brazil start the Confederations Cup with an encouraging performance

Brazil scored at the start of the first half, at the start of the second half, and in the final minute.

Luiz Felipe Scolari named his expected side, unchanged from the XI that defeated France 3-0 last week.

Alberto Zaccheroni left out Ryoichi Maeda, using Shinji Okazaki as the lone striker, with Hiroshi Kiyotake playing on the right of midfield.

Brazil got off to a tremendous start through Neymar’s brilliant strike from the edge of the box and controlled the majority of the game. Read more »

European Team of the Season, 2012/13

June 12, 2013
European Team of the Season, 2012/13

That time of the year again.

Minimal explanation needed, although the list places a strong emphasis upon performances in big matches: key domestic games, and European Cup knockout games.

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Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich
Neuer played behind an excellent defence, and in a side that retained possession brilliantly for the majority of the campaign. That certainly helped the German record some incredible statistics in 2012/13 – he conceded just 18 goals in 31 league appearances, and kept clean sheets twice against Juventus, the Italian champions, twice against Barcelona, the Spanish champions. Whenever called upon he made fine saves, while his distribution was consistently impressive too. Read more »