Valencia 2-1 Real Madrid: Valencia risk 3 v 3 at the back and push the wing-backs forward

January 7, 2015
Valencia 2-1 Real Madrid: Valencia risk 3 v 3 at the back and push the wing-backs forward

Valencia ended Real Madrid’s incredible 22-match winning run with a brave tactical performance at the Mestalla.

Valencia coach Nuno Espirito Santo continued with the 3-5-2 system he’d deployed for the first time in the 1-0 win at Eibar just before the winter break. There was a significant change, however, with new signing Enzo Perez coming straight into the side in place of Javi Fuego, while Antonio Barragan replaced Sofiane Feghouli on the right. On the opposite flank, Pablo Piatti didn’t last the first half, and was replaced by Jose Gaya.

Carlo Ancelotti selected the expected side, the starting XI which – aside from the absence of Luka Modric, who is still out injured – is his first-choice this season.

(Watch YouTube highlights here)

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World Cup 2014 best XI

July 24, 2014
World Cup 2014 best XI

Manuel Neuer, Germany

Other goalkeepers have made more spectacular saves, but Neuer’s all-round goalkeeping was by far the best in the tournament.

His performance against Algeria in the second round was remarkably proactive, and the type of display that genuinely might inspire the next generation of goalkeepers to play in a completely different way. He repeatedly swept well outside his penalty area, and on two occasions he wasn’t simply making interceptions or clearances, but instead getting stuck into 50:50 tackles.

When called upon to make saves, he could do that too – a double save from Paulinho against Brazil (albeit when the game was effectively over) was the highlight. Read more »

Germany 1-0 Argentina (AET): Gotze’s extra-time goal wins the World Cup

July 14, 2014
Germany 1-0 Argentina (AET): Gotze’s extra-time goal wins the World Cup

Germany won their fourth World Cup after victory over Argentina in a tense but enjoyable final.

Joachim Low’s team selection was compromised by the late withdrawal of Sami Khedira through injury. Christoph Kramer took his place – although he only lasted 30 minutes himself.

Alejandro Sabella’s side was unchanged from the semi-final against the Netherlands.

Both sides had promising moments in an even match – Argentina had the better chances before Mario Gotze’s late winner. Read more »

Argentina 0-0 Netherlands: Argentina through on penalties

July 10, 2014
Argentina 0-0 Netherlands: Argentina through on penalties

Sergio Romero was the hero after an extremely uneventful 120 minutes.

Alejandro Sabella brought back Marcos Rojo after suspension, while Enzo Perez deputised for the injured Angel di Maria.

Louis van Gaal was able to bring back Nigel de Jong after injury, meaning Daley Blind moved across to wing-back in place of Memphis Depay.

There was obviously great tension here, but not much happened – of the 62 games at this World Cup so far, this game featured the lowest shot rate, and the lowest percentage of touches in the opposition third. Read more »

Germany 7-1 Brazil: Germany record a historic thrashing, winning the game in 30 minutes

July 9, 2014
Germany 7-1 Brazil: Germany record a historic thrashing, winning the game in 30 minutes

In one of the most incredible matches in World Cup history, this ridiculous scoreline was an entirely fair reflection of Germany’s dominance.

Jogi Low named an unchanged side from the XI that had narrowly defeated France in the quarter-final.

Luiz Felipe Scolari was without the suspended Thiago Silva, and the injured Neymar. Dante was the obvious replacement at the back, while tricky winger Bernard was a surprise choice to replace Neymar, with Oscar moving inside to become the number ten. Luiz Gustavo returned after suspension, with Paulinho dropping out.

Incredibly, this game was finished after half an hour – it was 5-0, and Brazil were simply trying to avoid further embarrassment. Read more »