Real Madrid 3-0 Galatasaray: a comfortable win

April 4, 2013
Real Madrid 3-0 Galatasaray: a comfortable win

Galatasaray attacked bravely – but left too much space for Real to break into.

Jose Mourinho used Michael Essien at right-back, with Karim Benzema rather than Gonzalo Higuain upfront.

Fatih Terim used exactly the same shape he used in the previous Champions League match at Schalke, in the same diamond formation.

Galatasaray had their moments, and created some decent chances – but Real’s creative players were given too much time on the ball. Read more »

Malaga 0-0 Dortmund: Dortmund create more chances, but fail to take them

April 4, 2013
Malaga 0-0 Dortmund: Dortmund create more chances, but fail to take them

Dortmund should be out of sight – but after the German champions were unable to score an away goal, Malaga are still in the tie.

Manuel Pellegrini named roughly his expected side – Julio Baptista played the support striker role.

Jurgen Klopp used Kevin Grosskreutz rather than Jakub Blaszczykowski, which meant Mario Gotze was central and Marco Reus on the right. Felipe Santana continued to deputise for Mats Hummels, while Sebastian Kehl was in Sven Bender’s position.

In a clash between similar football sides, Dortmund pressed better and attacked with neater combinations – only finishing let them down. Read more »

PSG 2-2 Barcelona: Ancelotti justified in using a brave starting line-up

April 3, 2013
PSG 2-2 Barcelona: Ancelotti justified in using a brave starting line-up

Barcelona twice took the lead, PSG twice equalised.

Carlo Ancelotti surprisingly named David Beckham as part of a midfield two, with four outright attacking players used in a 4-4-1-1 system.

Tito Vilanova played Alexis Sanchez, rather than Cristian Tello, as part of his front three.

Barcelona dominated in terms of possession and territory, and there was an element of fortune for both PSG’s goals – but overall Ancelotti’s side defended solidly and counter-attacked effectively. Read more »

Bayern 2-0 Juve: Bayern’s pressing prevents Juve bringing their strike duo into play

April 3, 2013
Bayern 2-0 Juve: Bayern’s pressing prevents Juve bringing their strike duo into play

Bayern take a commanding lead into the second leg, after a dominant first leg performance.

Jupp Heynckes named his expected side – Luiz Gustavo came in for the suspended Javi Martinez – although Toni Kroos’ early injury pushed Thomas Muller inside, with Arjen Robben introduced on the right.

Despite strong rumours Antonio Conte would select a 3-5-1-1 formation, he went for the usual 3-5-2 with Alessandro Matri and Fabio Quagliarella (his least favoured strike duo this season) upfront.d

This was all about Bayern – they pressed excellently and Juventus struggled to put together good attacking moves, or bring their strike duo into play. Read more »

Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United: Mata’s ball to Ba bypasses the zone United kept secure

April 2, 2013
Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United: Mata’s ball to Ba bypasses the zone United kept secure

Juan Mata and Demba Ba combined for a brilliant goal in an otherwise quiet match.

Rafael Benitez made various changes from the side that lost at Southampton on Saturday – he fielded his three exciting creators together behind Demba Ba.

Sir Alex Ferguson left out Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa, while Wayne Rooney was injured, so Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck were upfront.

A terrible first half was followed by a much more open second. Read more »

France 0-1 Spain: both sides use one wide player for ball retention and the other for direct attacks

March 28, 2013
France 0-1 Spain: both sides use one wide player for ball retention and the other for direct attacks

Spain recorded a narrow victory, and go one point clear of France at the top of Group I.

Didier Deschamps used Patrice Evra rather than Gael Clichy at left-back, and the late withdrawal of Mamadou Sakho saw Laurent Koscielny start at centre-back. But the key change was higher up – from the side that defeated Georgia 3-1, Olivier Giroud was dropped, with Yohan Cabaye coming into the centre of midfield, turning a 4-4-2 into a 4-5-1 / 4-3-3.

Vicente del Bosque was without left-back Jordi Alba, so Nacho Monreal played instead, while Victor Valdes continued as Iker Casillas is out injured. In midfield, Del Bosque was able to bring back Xavi Hernandez and Xabi Alonso, who both missed the surprise 1-1 draw with Finland. Pedro Rodriguez also returned. Santi Cazorla, David Silva and Cesc Fabregas missed out.

This was a tight match with little to choose between the sides – France had plenty of opportunities. Read more »