Daily Archives: January 13, 2014

Barcelona, Atlético’s tactical clash ends in a stalemate

“All season, it’s been impossible to separate Barcelona and Atlético Madrid. They’ve chugged along at the top of the table, trading blow for blow, and when they met in the Copa del Rey, they exchanged a pair of draws and Barcelona went through only on away goals. They couldn’t be separated on Saturday either, a tight goalless draw leaving Barcelona top of La Liga at the halfway point by virtue of having a goal difference five better than that of Atlético.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Atletico Madrid 0-0 Barcelona: different styles but similar lack of invention upfront
“La Liga’s top of the table clash was intense and intriguing, but ultimately goalless. Diego Simeone named his expected side, with right-back Juanfran available after his suspension was overturned. Despite Lionel Messi’s return in midweek against Getafe, he wasn’t risked from the start – he joined Neymar on the bench, and Cesc Fabregas played as the false nine. A draw was a fair result – both sides’ gameplan was clear, but the defences came out on top.” Zonal Marking

Atletico Madrid 0-0 Barcelona: Tactical Analysis | Atletico’s Physicality versus Barca’s Passing
“The top 2 in Spain faced off for the first time in the league this season, in a clash that generated almost as much hype as most El Clasico’s. This season, Atletico have surprised one and all with their tremendous run in the league, staying 5 points clear of their city rivals Real for this long. Barcelona have been imperious, scoring almost at will, despite the absence of their talisman, Messi, and new acquisition Neymar. One of the meanest defences in the league was up against a free flowing attacking force, and it made for a great spectacle.” Outside of the Boot

Messi, Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic: football’s new superheroes

“The other night, I was standing outside the players tunnel before a Paris Saint-Germain game when Zlatan Ibrahimovic walked past. It was scary. Up close, the Swedish forward looked like a superhero: 1.95m tall, a chest the size of Pamela Anderson’s and the hungry glare of a man who has done his exercises, eaten his greens and had his afternoon nap every day for years. Today’s great footballers are incomparably fitter than their predecessors. But their perfection goes beyond the physical. This is the best time in football’s history to be a star. The game has been restructured in their service. When the Golden Ball for the world’s best player of 2013 is awarded on Monday – most likely to Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid – it will resemble an Oscars ceremony in the golden age of Hollywood.” FT – Simon Kuper

Regal Rodgers and Mediocre Moyes

“It’s been a while since we’ve been able to look down on Manchester United. Funnily enough, it’s quite a nice feeling. It may not last, of course, as football’s like that – you may laugh, but someone always laughs later (and no-one laughs last) – but right now I can’t help but feel that ‘we’ have got the better manager and they have got the bigger problems. In fairness to Moyes, there were challenges – maybe even poisoned chalices – at United: replacing a club legend who bequeathed a mixed squad (albeit one containing plenty of talent, and one capable of walking the league in 2012/13). I’ve never thought Moyes to be a bad manager, but like Roy Hodgson, he always struck me as unremarkable, and ultimately that means uninspiring.” Tomkins Times