Manchester City 0-2 Barcelona: City weather the storm before Demichelis tackle changes the tie

February 19, 2014

City-Barca
“Goals from Lionel Messi and Daniel Alves gave Barcelona a significant lead going into the second leg. Manuel Pellegrini unsurprisingly switched to a 4-2-3-1 / 4-4-1-1 formation, but surprisingly named two left-backs in tandem, Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov. Fernandinho was fit to return in midfield, while Martin Demichelis played at the back. Tata Martino was cautious with his team selection, playing Andres Iniesta on the left of a front three, with Cesc Fabregas in midfield. Barcelona enjoyed unprecedented spells of possession for an away side at the Etihad, but failed to convert their dominance into clear-cut chances in the first half – before Demichelis’ rash tackle at the start of the second half changed the tie.” Zonal Marking

Manchester City 0-2 Barcelona: Tactical Analysis | City make a case for themselves but organised Barca take full advantage
“A number of fixtures from the round of 16 stood out, but the most attractive one without doubt had to be the one between Manchester City and Barcelona. These 2 are probably the 2 best teams in their respective countries, and are both relatively free scoring sides. The presence of so many of the world’s best players only added to the glitter of the occasion.” Outside of the Boot


The Question: how can Arsenal’s tactics tame Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich?

February 19, 2014

“Perhaps there is some encouragement to be drawn for Arsenal from the fact that last time they played Bayern Munich, they won. Perhaps there is some encouragement to be drawn from the thought that, last season, Bayern only beat them on away goals, that no side came as close to eliminating Bayern from the Champions League as they did. But then you think back to the first leg, to Bayern’s 3-1 win at the Emirates, and the gulf between the sides becomes obvious. Arsenal have improved since then, but so too have Bayern and, under Pep Guardiola, they are as tactically flexible as any side in Europe.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


The Beautiful Language

February 19, 2014

“I had been in Teresópolis, Rio de Janeiro state, for two days and already I was running out of things to do. School children ambled between shops whose wares they must have known by heart. In the sleepy town square, old men gathered to play dominos and chat, whiling away the hours under a winter sun rendered impotent by altitude. There is a mountain trail that weaves through a jungle before coming up for air above the canopy, eventually scrambling up one of the mountains that flank the town. You can almost see Rio itself from the summit; almost feel its sands between your freezing toes. The youth of Teresópolis migrates to the city during the school holidays to escape their parents and the cold. Eventually, even the tasty steaks, breads and fine local beers lose their charm. With little to do, I soon found myself wishing I could play soccer with someone.” Road and Kingdoms


Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris is Premier League’s supreme sweeper-keeper

February 19, 2014

“There was a moment during the first half of Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-0 win over Everton on Sunday when Steven Pienaar, drifting in from the left, sought out the run of Kevin Mirallas, cutting in from the right. He played what probably seemed a well-weighted through ball, only for a flash of orange to materialise to stifle the danger almost before it had gestated. The moment went largely unnoticed, particularly by comparison with the diving save he made from Leon Osman’s early drive, but this was Hugo Lloris at his best.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Can Bayern Munich Be Beaten?

February 19, 2014

“On Tuesday, Bayern Munich visit Arsenal in the first leg of the first knockout round of the UEFA Champions League. Bayern are the holders of the European Cup. In Germany, they’ve won 19, drawn two, and lost none. They are 16 points clear of the second-place team in the Bundesliga, and their bench could walk into almost any starting lineup in Europe. Some have suggested that Bayern’s biggest obstacle to repeating as Champions League winners is their complacency, but then some seem to forget that Bayern are managed by one of the great modern managers in Pep Guardiola. Last weekend, Bayern beat Freiburg 4-0. After the match, Guardiola made Bayern train, playing a practice match against themselves. So, no, they won’t be complacent. The questions is, can they be beaten?” Grantland


Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool: Arsenal more disciplined despite a rotated side

February 19, 2014

Arsenal-v-Liverpool-FA-Cup-Fifth-Round-3152673
“Arsenal narrowly won an extremely open cup tie. Arsene Wenger rested various players ahead of the meeting with Bayern on Wednesday. The most interesting inclusion was striker Yaya Sanogo, making his first start. Brendan Rodgers brought back Daniel Agger in place of Kolo Toure, selected Joe Allen rather than Jordan Henderson, and also gave a runout to reserve goalkeeper Brad Jones. Arsenal were much improved compared to last weekend, particularly in terms of positioning and organisation.” Zonal Marking


Where Soccer Gets Made

February 19, 2014

“When the British ruled India, they had a habit of establishing garrisons in towns across the subcontinent. One of these was located in the ancient town of Sialkot, which now lies in Pakistan’s Punjab province, just shy of the Indian border. To amuse themselves, British soldiers stationed there would, of course, play cricket. But they played football, too, on the many stretches of carefully watered and manicured grass that can still be found across Sialkot’s cantonment area. According to a local legend, at around the turn of the twentieth century, the British officers managed to puncture their ball during a casual kick-about. Seeking a quick and cheap mend, they enlisted the services of a local Sialkoti cobbler, who readily agreed to try and restore the unusual object to its original full-roundedness.” Road and Kingdoms


Fiorentina 1-2 Inter: Palacio’s positional variation crucial in Inter victory

February 19, 2014

“Fifth-placed Inter won at fourth-placed Fiorentina, cutting the game between them to five points. Vincenzo Montella was still without Giuseppe Rossi and a host of defenders, with star midfielder Borja Valero suspended. Mario Gomez was fit enough to be on the bench, however, after a few months out – Joaquin and Josip Ilicic were upfront form the start. Walter Mazzarri named an unchanged side from last weekend’s 1-0 win over Sassuolo. Inter were the better side here – more organised without the ball and more purposeful with possession.” Zonal Marking


Manchester City 2-0 Chelsea: City stop Chelsea’s counter-attacks and win comfortably

February 19, 2014

“Manchester City gained revenge for their recent league defeat to Chelsea. Manuel Pellegrini’s side was very different from that match, with Costel Pantilimon, Joleon Lescott, Gael Clichy, Javi Garcia, James Milner and Stevan Jovetic all included. Jose Mourinho’s, however, named the closest thing possible to the XI that won at the Etihad. John Terry was out, so David Luiz moved back and John Obi Mikel came into the midfield. City were significantly superior throughout, amazingly so given how how confidently they were beaten less than a fortnight ago.” Zonal Marking