Milan 0-2 Juventus: Milan play well, but Juventus show ruthlessness upfront

March 3, 2014

“Clarence Seedorf’s Milan played extremely well – but couldn’t translate their dominance into goals. Seedorf changed no fewer than six players, despite winning 2-0 at Sampdoria last time out. Mario Balotelli was still unavailable. Juventus were without Arturo Vidal through suspension and Giorgio Chiellini was only fit enough for the bench, but otherwise Antonio Conte’s line-ups was as expected. Milan were superior for long periods, but lacked combination play and reliable finishing upfront – in stark contrast to Juventus.” Zonal Marking

AC Milan 0-2 Juventus: Tactical Analysis
“AC Milan vs Juventus has widely been considered to be the biggest match (traditionally) in Italian football. The two have won majority of the domestic league titles and performed commendably in Europe as well, representing the Italian peninsula. However, Juventus have won the last two Scudetto’s & look set to claim a third, while Milan haven’t won a trophy since 2011. What’s worse is that while Juventus enjoy a lead at the top of the Serie A this season, Milan are struggling to stay in the top half. But when these two sides meet, it’s always a tight affair. The rivalry, the history, the passion adds to the experience and this fixture rarely disappoints.” Outside of the Boot

Manchester City 3-1 Sunderland: City win the cup despite a fine Sunderland display

March 3, 2014

“Two superb goals saved the day for City, after they’d struggled to break down a well-drilled Sunderland side. Manuel Pellegrini welcomed back Sergio Aguero, who partnered Edin Dzeko upfront. Samir Nasri was selected on the right, with Aleksandar Kolarov at left-back. Costel Pantilimon continued as the ‘cup’ goalkeeper. Gustavo Poyet dropped striker Jozy Altidore from the squad and pushed Fabio Borini upfront, with Sebastian Larsson coming into the side, while Wes Brown returned after suspension and Lee Cattermole replaced the cup-tied Liam Bridcutt. Sunderland’s starting approach worked nicely and they responded impressively after going 2-1 down – tactically, they deserve great credit for this performance.” Zonal Marking

Tactics Board: City win Cup out wide
“Sunderland looked to deprive Manchester City of space, defending deep and narrow in a compact formation. While they left space on the flanks, it was a logical move: Because City’s nominal wide midfielders, David Silva and Samir Nasri, tend to come infield, Gus Poyet wanted to prevent his side from being outnumbered closer to goal.” ESPN

Manchester City 3-1 Sunderland: Tactical Analysis
“A side going for a quadruple, and another looking to maintain it’s Premier League status. Only in the Capital One Cup will you see such contrasting seasons clash in the final. But this was the case when Manchester City took on Sunderland at Wembley. Undoubtedly City were the favourites but Sunderland came with a sure game plan and stuck by it, going into half-time with the lead and momentum. But City were always going to be threatening. As images of the 2013 FA Cup Final flashed in the minds of the Man City players and fans, they came back storming in the second half, scoring 2 goals in under 2 minutes before getting a late third as well.” Outside of the Boot

Atletico Madrid 2-2 Real Madrid: Atleti’s energy dominates midfield, but proves unsustainable

March 3, 2014

“Despite Real’s early lead, Atletico dominated the first half – but tiredness caught up with them. Diego Simeone decided to leave David Villa on the bench, using Raul Garcia as a number ten. Carlo Ancelotti continued with the midfield and defence that had thrashed Schalke, but went for cautious options at full-back. This was a standard Madrid derby: high-tempo and scrappy. Karim Benzema put Real into an early lead following a set-piece, but from then Atletico dominated.” Zonal Marking

Atletico Madrid 2-2 Real Madrid: Tactical Analysis
“One of the fiercest rivalries in World football lived up to it’s name at the Vicente Calderon as the two title chasing teams from Madrid went head to head. The game could have so easily be mistaken for an all out wrestling brawl, as we got to see the alternative side of the ‘beautiful game’. Fouls, tackles, dives, clashes, it had it all – an all-out derby. Real Madrid were leading the pack by a three point margin, with both Barcelona and Atletico tied for 2nd spot. Real were also looking to avenge their Copa Del Rey defeat, and the 1-0 loss earlier in the season against their rivals at the Bernabeu.” Outside of the Boot

League of Ireland Preview: Sligo Rovers

March 3, 2014

“Truth be told, it was always going to be an arduous task for Sligo Rovers to retain their league title last season. And so it proved as it was a superior St Patrick’s Athletic outfit who instead took home the crown as the chasing pack wilted in the closing stages. Despite the fact that Rovers began the league campaign excellently by storming to an impressive eight match winning streak, their powers began to wane noticeably towards the business end of the league season. Of course, finishing third is still nothing to be sniffed at and the self-belief to better that performance remains as strong as ever.” Backpage Football

League of Ireland Preview: St Patrick’s Athletic
“As the old saying goes, reaching the top of the mountain is one thing but staying at the summit is an entirely different ball game and that is the task the stares 2013 Airtricity League Champions, St.Patrick’s Athletic right in the face ahead of the new campaign. Liam Buckley will once again take the reins at the Stadium of Light for the 2014 League of Ireland season but perhaps never has there been such expectation and excitement surrounding the “Saints” going into a new year with big name signings such as Mark Quigley and Irish international, Keith Fahey adding to the already hugely impressive Pats armour from last season.” Backpage Football

Poetry in motion as Reds lay down a marker

March 3, 2014

“Liverpool fans have revived the old ’70s Boney M classic ‘Brown Girl In The Ring,’ or at least chants to that tune, as a nod towards the team’s recent revival of fortunes. The more conservative element have kept to the far safer rewrite ‘We are Liverpool, tra-la-la-la-la’ up until now, but by the end of an efficient 3-0 win at Southampton, the more arrogant ‘we’re gonna win the league’ version grew louder and louder and louder.” ESPN

Belenenses and the Curve

March 3, 2014

“When Miguel Rosa and Filipe Ferreira scored the two goals that enabled CFF Belenenses to beat Sporting Braga 2-1 in January, an audible sigh could be heard amongst the scattered faithful in Estádio do Restelo. Since a 2-0 win over Olhanense on 5th October last year, the dark blues had not tasted victory in the league. A real sense of drama and foreboding had begun to fall over the club that hauled itself so impressively back into the Portuguese top flight last season, after a brief three year spell in the wilderness of the Portuguese second tier, the sparsely populated and little followed Liga da Honra. That Alan brought Braga back into the game with a sumptuous goal worth taking a long and repeated look at only heightened the tension, but the home side held out for the much needed tonic of three points and a widening gap with the Superliga’s bottom two, Olhanense and Paços de Ferreira. Since then, the fires of passionate belief have once again been snuffed by defeat on Madeira against Nacional and a stultifying 0-0 draw with Académica de Coimbra.” In Bed With Maradona