Celtic 2-1 Barcelona: a famous victory

November 8, 2012
Celtic 2-1 Barcelona: a famous victory

Little possession for long periods – then a set-piece opener followed by a second on the break – a classic underdog victory.

Neil Lennon was forced into a few changes from the side he used at the weekend, but kept to a 4-4-1-1ish formation. Adam Matthews played at left-back despite being right-sided, Kris Commons moved to the right of midfield, and Miku linked up with Georgios Samaras upfront.

Tito Vilanova picked roughly his expected side – Cesc Fabregas was only on the bench (he’s been a regular this season) and Marc Bartra started at the back. Alex Song was in the holding role.

Yes, Celtic spent most of the game in their own half, and rode their luck at times – but they didn’t simply park the bus. They retained an attacking threat throughout the game, while changing their usual strategy to suit the task at hand. Read more »

Manchester City 2-2 Ajax: Ajax pressing forces Mancini to change shape

November 7, 2012
Manchester City 2-2 Ajax: Ajax pressing forces Mancini to change shape

Ajax raced into an early two-goal lead, but Manchester City pulled it back.

Roberto Mancini chose an unusual formation – something like a lopsided 4-2-3-1. Pablo Zabaleta returned to the side, while Javi Garcia and Sergio Aguero came in for Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli.

From the XI that defeated City 3-1 in Amsterdam, Frank de Boer dropped Tobias Sana and recalled Derk Boerrigter.

This was a peculiar match with a few different points of interest – City’s formation, Ajax’s pressing, and City’s continued struggles when defending set-plays.

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Valencia 2-0 Atletico: neither side at their best as Simeone’s midfield selection backfires

November 6, 2012
Valencia 2-0 Atletico: neither side at their best as Simeone’s midfield selection backfires

Valencia won 2-0 in a disappointingly tame contest.

Mauricio Pellegrino changed his two wide players, bringing in Andres Guardado and Sofiane Feghouli, and also introduced Jonas behind Roberto Soldado.

Diego Simeone made a few changes, bringing back Tiago, Arda Turan and Adrian Lopez and moving to a different midfield format.

Neither side played particularly sparkling football in this match – the only interesting tactical feature was in the centre of midfield. Read more »