Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City: counter-attack versus possession play but both attack in behind

October 28, 2013
Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City: counter-attack versus possession play but both attack in behind

Two ex-Atletico strikers – Fernando Torres and Sergio Aguero – were the most prominent players in a fast-paced, exciting clash.

Jose Mourinho played Gary Cahill rather than David Luiz, and left out Juan Mata with Andre Schurrle and Eden Hazard on the wings. Torres started after his two goals against Schalke in midweek.

Manuel Pellegrini used Martin Demichelis for the first time, played three central midfielders with Yaya Toure pushed to the top of the triangle, two ball-players on the flanks, and Aguero upfront alone.

Joe Hart’s huge error in the 90th minute decided the game, and overall this was evenly balanced. Read more »

Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid: Barca start well, lose control in the second half, then Martino belatedly makes changes to secure the game

October 27, 2013
Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid: Barca start well, lose control in the second half, then Martino belatedly makes changes to secure the game

Both managers made surprise selection decisions upfront, but Barcelona’s line-up worked better.

Gerardo Martino left out both Alexis Sanchez and Pedro Rodriguez, naming Cesc Fabregas as one of his three attackers.

Carlo Ancelotti omitted Karim Benzema and brought Gareth Bale into the side. Daniel Carvajal started at right-back, and three nominal three centre-backs were used: Pepe, Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos. Diego Lopez returned in goal.

Martino’s starting selection certainly worked better, but Real had a strong period after Ancelotti turned to his bench earlier. Read more »

Real Madrid 2-1 Juventus: Real take the victory, but fail to impress

October 24, 2013
Real Madrid 2-1 Juventus: Real take the victory, but fail to impress

Despite losing the contest, Antonio Conte can arguably draw more positives from this match after his side performed impressively with ten men.

Carlo Ancelotti selected a 4-3-3 system for the second time this season, with Gareth Bale and Isco both on the bench. Iker Casillas returned in goal.

Conte went for a 4-5-1 system with Claudio Marchisio and Carlos Tevez either side of the midfield, and Fernando Llorente upfront alone. Leonardo Bonucci was left out, and Angelo Ogbonna played at left-back.

The game was fairly evenly balanced in the first half, with Giorgio Chiellini’s unnecessary penalty concession handing Real the advantage. After Chiellini’s dismissal, Real dominated possession but failed to put the game beyond Juve. Read more »

Arsenal 1-2 Dortmund: narrow midfield battle encourages both sets of full-backs forward

October 23, 2013
Arsenal 1-2 Dortmund: narrow midfield battle encourages both sets of full-backs forward

Robert Lewandowski’s late goal gave Dortmund an important victory at the Emirates.

Arsene Wenger was without the concussed Mathieu Flamini, so Aaron Ramsey returned. Santi Cazorla isn’t yet at 100% fitness, so Tomas Rosicky replaced him on the left.

Jurgen Klopp is still without Ilkay Gundogan and Lukasz Piszczek, while on the right, Jakub Blaszczykowski started rather than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

This was a relatively tight, evenly-matched game almost entirely based around the positioning of the full-backs: Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs, and Dortmund’s Kevin Grosskreutz and Marcel Schmelzer. Read more »