Malaga 4-0 Valencia: Pellegrini gets the better of Pellegrino

November 26, 2012
Malaga 4-0 Valencia: Pellegrini gets the better of Pellegrino

Isco was the catalyst for a fabulous demonstration of movement and interplay from Malaga’s front four.

After rotating heavily for the trip to Zenit in midweek, Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini played a more familiar XI, unchanged from the draw at Osasuna last week.

Mauricio Pellegrino’s major decision was the use of Ever Banega – rather than Jonas – at the top of his midfield triangle. Roberto Soldado was out, so Nelson Valdez started upfront.

Malaga were well worth the win – the only surprising thing about the scoreline was that they weren’t out of sight sooner, having to wait until 74 minutes for the second goal.

There were only two major factors here – and both involved the two sides’ individual systems, rather than the actual clash between them. Read more »

Manchester City 1-1 Real Madrid: City out

November 22, 2012
Manchester City 1-1 Real Madrid: City out

Roberto Mancini started with a back three, then moved to a back four, but Manchester City couldn’t find a second goal.

Mancini decided to start with a similar XI to the second half shape against Tottenham, when they looked good with a back three. Nine of the 11 players were the same, with the exception of Matija Nastasic coming in for the injured Gael Clichy, and Samir Nasri (ill for the Spurs game) starting in the centre alongside Yaya Toure, an extremely attack-minded midfield.

Jose Mourinho named his expected side with one small exception – Luka Modric was at the head of the midfield triangle, rather than Mesut Ozil.

The shots statistics were interesting in this match. After 17 minutes, Real Madrid had attempted 7 shots, with 5 on target – whereas City hadn’t had a single attempt. Read more »

Juventus 3-0 Chelsea: Di Matteo uses Hazard upfront, but Chelsea lose the game elsewhere

November 21, 2012
Juventus 3-0 Chelsea: Di Matteo uses Hazard upfront, but Chelsea lose the game elsewhere

Juventus played excellently and comfortably defeated Chelsea.

Antonio Conte went with on-form Fabio Quagliarella upfront alongside Mirko Vucinic, and used Stephane Lichtsteiner rather than Mauricio Isla on the right.

Roberto Di Matteo dropped Fernando Torres in favour of Eden Hazard as a false nine – because he didn’t want to give Juventus’ three centre-backs a ‘reference point’. This meant he needed another wide player, and he wanted someone defensive-minded – this would have been Ramires were he not needed in the middle, so Cesar Azpilicueta became a cautious right-winger.

But Juventus were the superior side – their opening two goals were both aided with deflections, but they created significantly more goalscoring opportunities over the course of the 90 minutes, and put Chelsea under constant pressure. Read more »