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 »

Fiorentina 4-2 Juventus: Juve lead 2-0, but Montella changes formation to prompt comeback

October 22, 2013
Fiorentina 4-2 Juventus: Juve lead 2-0, but Montella changes formation to prompt comeback

Champions Juventus suffered their first defeat of the season, despite taking a 2-0 lead by half-time.

Vincenzo Montella is still without Mario Gomez, so fielded Giuseppe Rossi upfront alone, and brought Massimo Ambrosini into the midfield.

Antonio Conte left out Arturo Vidal after he was late back from international duty, but fielded Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente upfront together.

This was one of those crazy, inexplicable football matches where the goals had little relation to the tactical battle unfolding – but it was still a fascinating contest. Read more »