Tottenham 1-1 Chelsea: Spurs play neat passing combinations but fail to adjust defensive line

September 30, 2013
Tottenham 1-1 Chelsea: Spurs play neat passing combinations but fail to adjust defensive line

A fair result at White Hart Lane as Andre Villas-Boas’ starting strategy proved successful, but Jose Mourinho’s in-game changes worked better.

Villas-Boas named roughly Spurs’ expected side – Kyle Naughton continued at left-back, while Andros Townsend continues to keep out Erik Lamela.

Mourinho named Ramires on the right of, the first time he’s played that way. John Obi Mikel started in midfield and Fernando Torres got the nod upfront.

This was a game of two halves – Spurs dominated the first, Chelsea the second. Read more »

Real Madrid 0-1 Atletico Madrid: Diego Costa leads the line superbly in excellent Atleti display

September 30, 2013
Real Madrid 0-1 Atletico Madrid: Diego Costa leads the line superbly in excellent Atleti display

Atletico Madrid went ahead early at the Bernabeu, and then created much better chances.

Carlo Ancelotti felt Gareth Bale wasn’t ready to make his first home start, instead using Angel Di Maria on the right. Asier Illaramendi partnered Sami Khedira in the centre.

Diego Simeone has rotated his midfield well this season – here Raul Garcia and Mario Suarez missed out.

Real dominated possession but Atletico always seemed comfortable, protecting their back four excellently and creating a succession of fine chances at the other end. Read more »

PSG 1-1 Monaco: PSG create better chances

September 26, 2013
PSG 1-1 Monaco: PSG create better chances

Ligue 1’s new ‘big two’ played out a reasonably entertaining 1-1 draw.

Laurent Blanc made three changes – Marquinhos made his first league starts in place of Alex, while in the wide positions Hervin Ongenda and Lucas Moura made way for the returning ex-Napoli duo of Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani.

Claudio Ranieri named an unchanged side – Jeremy Toulalan was still out injured, while James Rodriguez continued on the bench.

The start of this contest was cautious, but as the tempo dropped PSG’s creative players saw more of the ball. Read more »

Man City 4-1 Man United: Nasri’s narrowness and Kolarov’s overlapping put City in charge

September 22, 2013
Man City 4-1 Man United: Nasri’s narrowness and Kolarov’s overlapping put City in charge

Manchester City dominated from the opening moments, and completely outplayed Manchester United..

Manuel Pellegrini named Alvaro Negredo rather than Edin Dzeko upfront, the first time the Spaniard has started alongside Sergio Aguero. Down the left, Gael Clichy and David Silva were out, so Aleksandar Kolarov and Samir Nasri played.

David Moyes was without Robin van Persie, who was out injured with a thigh strain – so Danny Welbeck partnered Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young played on the left.

City played better in almost every respect, but it was down the left where they really excelled and took command of the game. Read more »

Napoli 2-1 Dortmund: Higuain & Insigne exploit Dortmund’s failure to heed their warnings

September 18, 2013
Napoli 2-1 Dortmund: Higuain & Insigne exploit Dortmund’s failure to heed their warnings

Gonzalo Higuain and Lorenzo Insigne scored the goals from set-piece situations – but they had been the most threatening players in open play, too.

Rafael Benitez’s line-up was as expected, with Insigne’s role on the left probably the biggest news on the teamsheet.

Jurgen Klopp is without long-term absentee Lukasz Piszczek at right-back, and the excellent central midfielder Ilkay Gundogan. Kevin Grosskreutz and Nuri Sahin played in those roles, while Pierre-EmerickĀ Aubameyang was only on the bench.

The teams were evenly matched for long spells of the first half, but Napoli increasingly threatened in two particular ways – and they proved the game-changing situations. Read more »