Milan 1-0 Juventus: Milan sit deep, then break quickly through their front three

November 27, 2012
Milan 1-0 Juventus: Milan sit deep, then break quickly through their front three

Juventus lost in Serie A for the second time under Antonio Conte.

Max Allegri continued with the 4-3-3 shape he used away at Napoli last week – Mario Yepes replaced Francesco Acerbi at the back, while Marco Amelia started in goal.

Antonio Conte picked Martin Caceres on the left side of defence in place of the injured Giorgio Chiellini – previously, Caceres has played to the right of the back three, with Andrea Barzagli moving across, but Barzagli remained in his usual position. Ahead of him, Mauricio Isla started rather than Stephane Lichtsteiner, who must have been more badly injured than was reported before the game.

Milan were a shade fortunate to win the game – it was universally agreed that the ball didn’t strike Isla’s arm for Robinho’s penalty – but overall they were the better side, as Gigi Buffon agreed. They defended solidly and attacked at great speed. Read more »

Chelsea 0-0 Manchester City: early caution from Benitez results in a dull game

November 26, 2012
Chelsea 0-0 Manchester City: early caution from Benitez results in a dull game

Rafael Benitez started his Chelsea reign with a goalless draw against the champions.

Benitez kept Roberto Di Matteo’s front six intact, although played Branislav Ivanovic and David Luiz together at centre-back, a combination his predecessor never selected.

Roberto Mancini played four at the back, and continued with Edin Dzeko upfront, rather than Carlos Tevez – maybe after seeing how Chelsea were vulnerable to crosses last weekend. Vincent Kompany was fit to start at centre-back.

City dominated in terms of possession and shots, but neither side did enough to win the game. Read more »

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 »