Bayern Munich 4-0 Barcelona: Bayern produce an astonishingly dominant performance

April 24, 2013
Bayern Munich 4-0 Barcelona: Bayern produce an astonishingly dominant performance

Bayern Munich didn’t try to outpass Barcelona, and instead ruthlessly exposed their traditional weaknesses.

Jupp Heynckes selected Mario Gomez rather than Claudio Pizarro as Mario Mandzukic’s replacement, and decided Jerome Boateng was a better option than Daniel van Buyten because of his extra speed.

Tito Vilanova’s side was as expected: Lionel Messi was fit, and Alexis Sanchez started as wide forward on the left, with Pedro Rodriguez on the right.

Barcelona enjoyed a decent opening ten minutes, but Bayern were strategically perfect and fully deserved to win by such a convincing scoreline. Read more »

Bayern Munich v Barcelona: tactical preview

April 23, 2013
Bayern Munich v Barcelona: tactical preview

The draw for the Champions League semi-finals produced two fascinating ties.

Germany and Spain are the leading two nations in European football at the moment – Italian football is going through a transition period, while the Premier League has declined suddenly, but not irreversibly, from the latter part of the last decade.

The ties are perfectly set up – one based around transitions, the other based around possession. 2011/12 champions against each other, and 2012/13 champions against each other. Read more »

Liverpool 2-2 Chelsea: Rodgers cautious from start, but Sturridge provides second half impact

April 22, 2013
Liverpool 2-2 Chelsea: Rodgers cautious from start, but Sturridge provides second half impact

Liverpool trailed for long periods, but Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez combined very effectively in the second half.

Brendan Rodgers left out Sturridge, favouring Stewart Downing in the only change from last week’s 0-0 draw at Reading.

Rafael Benitez’s side was fairly predictable, although he selected Fernando Torres upfront against his former club, despite the fact Demba Ba is cup-tied for Thursday’s Europa League game in Basel, meaning Torres will have to start in Switzerland too.

Chelsea dominated – and were ahead – for long periods, but eventually Liverpool clawed them back. Read more »

Juventus 1-0 Milan: Milan press Pirlo at goal-kicks, but not in midfield

April 22, 2013
Juventus 1-0 Milan: Milan press Pirlo at goal-kicks, but not in midfield

A reverse of the previous meeting between the sides – the only goal came from the penalty spot in another disappointing contest.

Antonio Conte continued with the 3-5-1-1 that worked excellently away at Lazio, with Giorgio Chiellini returningin place of Federico Peluso.

Max Allegri was still without Mario Balotelli, and Mathieu Flamini was also banned. Massimo Ambrosini played the deep midfield role, with Riccardo Montolivo to the right and Kevin-Prince Boateng to the left.

This was a slow-paced, attritional contest with little technical quality – most shots were from long-range. Read more »

Tottenham 3-1 Manchester City: Villas-Boas’ second half formation switch changes the game

April 21, 2013
Tottenham 3-1 Manchester City: Villas-Boas’ second half formation switch changes the game

Manchester City dominated the first half, but some clever substitutions from Andre Villas-Boas meant Tottenham had a storming final 20 minutes.

Villas-Boas was able to select Gareth Bale from the start, although Aaron Lennon is still unavailable. Emmanuel Adebayor was favoured over Jermain Defoe.

Roberto Mancini was without David Silva and Sergio Aguero wasn’t 100% fit, so Edin Dzeko started upfront.

This was a game of two halves – Spurs eventually recorded a fine victory, but City had been very impressive before half-time. Read more »

Valencia 5-1 Malaga: Jonas and Canales’ narrowness allows Banega freedom to dominate

April 21, 2013
Valencia 5-1 Malaga: Jonas and Canales’ narrowness allows Banega freedom to dominate

Valencia thrashed Malaga thanks to four goals in an amazing eight-minute first half period.

Ernesto Valverde brought in Adil Rami and David Albelda for the two Costas, Ricardo and Tino.

Manuel Pellegrini was still without Jeremy Toulalan, so named an unchanged side from the 1-0 win over Osasuna.

The eight-minute spell was a freak period of play that decided the game – but it was an exaggerated reflection of Valencia’s dominance, rather than a false one. Read more »