Everton 3-3 Liverpool: amazingly open game, and goals from set-pieces

November 24, 2013
Everton 3-3 Liverpool: amazingly open game, and goals from set-pieces

Positive tactics and awful defending combined to create a goalfest at Goodison Park.

This is Roberto Martinez’s first-choice XI at the moment, with Leon Osman only on the bench.

Brendan Rodgers switched to a cautious 4-3-3 system, with doubts over Daniel Sturridge’s fitness meaning Luis Suarez played alone upfront. Joe Allen came into the midfield, with Jordan Henderson moving right. Jon Flanagan made a rare start at left-back.

This was quite a contest – and while the defending was often terrible, there were also some interesting tactical decisions from both coaches.

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Sweden 2-3 Portugal: Ibrahimovic 2-3 Ronaldo

November 22, 2013
Sweden 2-3 Portugal: Ibrahimovic 2-3 Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo produced an extraordinary performance to win this play-off almost single-handedly.

Erik Hamren named an unchanged starting XI from the first leg, which finished in a 1-0 Portugal victory.

Paolo Bento’s side had one change – Hugo Almeida had made the difference in the first leg as a substitute, so replaced Helder Postiga upfront

It’s difficult to remember a contest that had been promoted  so much beforehand as, essentially, an individual battle between two players. Football isn’t an individual sport, of course, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo lived up to the pre-match hype, and completely dominated their sides. Read more »

Ukraine 2-0 France: France lack creativity with the ball, and lack structure without it

November 18, 2013
Ukraine 2-0 France: France lack creativity with the ball, and lack structure without it

Ukraine are halfway to the World Cup, after a surprise 2-0 victory over France.

Mykhaylo Fomenko’s XI was fairly typical of his recent line-ups, although Roman Zozulya hasn’t always played upfront, and Edmar was fielded in an advanced role.

Didier Deschamps left out Mathieu Valbuena and played Samir Nasri instead, with Olivier Giroud favoured over Karim Benzema upfront.

This match was played at a high intensity and was dramatic throughout – France dominated possession but lacked organisation. Read more »

Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal: United start positively then defend extremely narrow

November 13, 2013
Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal: United start positively then defend extremely narrow

David Moyes recorded the first major victory of his tenure at Old Trafford.

Moyes selected Phil Jones in the centre of midfield alongside Michael Carrick, and continued with Shinji Kagawa on the left.

Arsene Wenger was without Per Mertesacker and Tomas Rosicky due to flu, so Thomas Vermaelen came into the side and Aaron Ramsey moved right.

This was a very narrow United victory, in a match where neither side played at their best. Read more »