Roma 2-1 Fiorentina: everything down the wings

December 9, 2013
Roma 2-1 Fiorentina: everything down the wings

Roma ended a run of four draws with a victory over Fiorentina in a highly entertaining match.

Rudi Garcia’s side was as expected – Adem Ljajic continued to play the Francesco Totti role against his former side, while Dodo was still at left-back in place of Federico Balzaretti.

Vincenzo Montella moved Juan Vargas forward to the left flank having excelled at left-back against Verona in midweek. Manuel Pasqual returned at left-back, with Joaquin making way and Juan Cuadrado switching flanks. Alberto Aquilani returned in place of Matias Vecino in midfield, while David Pizarro was only fit enough for the bench.

This game was most interesting for its overall pattern, rather than for the specifics of either side’s play. Read more »

Manchester United 0-1 Newcastle United: Pardew beefs up his midfield and Newcastle dominate possession

December 8, 2013
Manchester United 0-1 Newcastle United: Pardew beefs up his midfield and Newcastle dominate possession

Manchester United lost their second consecutive home league match for the first time over a decade.

David Moyes made seven changes from the side that lost to Everton in midweek. Wayne Rooney was suspended and Michael Carrick was still injured, but Robin van Persie returned.

Alan Pardew moved away from the 4-4-2 system that had beaten Chelsea and Tottenham in recent weeks, bringing Vurnon Anita into the midfield and leaving Loic Remy alone upfront.

Moyes’ side had been a touch unfortunate against Everton in midweek, but here they were simply outplayed by a superior unit. Read more »

Tottenham 2-2 Manchester United: Villas-Boas uses a much more cautious system

December 2, 2013
Tottenham 2-2 Manchester United: Villas-Boas uses a much more cautious system

Tottenham went ahead twice, but mistakes allowed Manchester United back into the game.

Andre Villas-Boas brought back Vlad Chiriches in defence, Mousa Dembele in midfield, plus Aaron Lennon and Nacer Chadli on the flanks.

David Moyes was still without Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick – Tom Cleverley partnered Phil Jones in the middle, despite the option of £27.5m signing Marouane Fellaini.

There was no major theme throughout this game, aside from its openness, but there were a variety of interesting tactical points.

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Dortmund 0-3 Bayern: superior squad proves crucial as Bayern extend their lead

November 26, 2013
Dortmund 0-3 Bayern: superior squad proves crucial as Bayern extend their lead

Pep Guardiola demonstrated Bayern’s tactical flexibility in the second half, introducing Mario Gotze and Thiago Alcantara to great effect.

Jurgen Klopp had severe injury problems for this contest – as well as the continued absence of Ilkay Gundogan, his entire first-choice back four were out injured. 34-year-old Manuel Friedrich, previously without a club, was drafted in to play at centre-back.

Guardiola was without Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger, however, and used Phillip Lahm in midfield.

The scoreline exaggerates Bayern’s dominance – for long periods Dortmund competed well, but Bayern simply had greater strength in depth. Read more »