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 »

PSV 2-3 Ajax: Eriksen’s influence helps Ajax attack down the wings

April 16, 2013
PSV 2-3 Ajax: Eriksen’s influence helps Ajax attack down the wings

Ajax recorded a crucial victory over their major rivals for the league title.

Frank De Boer brought Christian Poulsen into the side in the holding role, meaning Lasse Schone moved out to the right in place of Derk Boerrigter, who was on the bench.

Dick Advocaat left out Tim Matavz, with Dries Mertens returning to the side on the left flank, and Jeremain Lens playing as the primary striker.

In terms of quality, this match was underwhelming – neither played their best football. Read more »

Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea: City start brightly but Chelsea rally late on

April 15, 2013
Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea: City start brightly but Chelsea rally late on

Manchester City won a surprisingly attack-minded game at Wembley.

Roberto Mancini was without David Silva, so started Sergio Aguero after his excellent goal at Old Trafford on Monday. Costel Pantilimon continued as City’s dedicated FA Cup goalkeeper.

Rafael Benitez used his three creators behind Demba Ba – Frank Lampard and John Terry continue to be left out.

City played better football over the 90 minutes, although frequently made the wrong decisions in the final third. Read more »