Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal: Chelsea’s pressing wins the game within 20 minutes

March 26, 2014

“Jose Mourinho recorded his biggest league victory as Chelsea manager with a crushing win over Arsenal. Mourinho continued with Samuel Eto’o upfront rather than Fernando Torres – Eto’o only lasted 10 minutes, but scored the opener. In midfield, Mourinho was without Ramires and Willian, both suspended – he left out Frank Lampard and played David Luiz in the centre of midfield alongside Nemanja Matic. Arsene Wenger named the same side that defeated Tottenham the previous weekend. This game was done and dusted within the first quarter – Chelsea were 3-0 up, Arsenal were one man down, and the rest of the game was simply a question how how many Chelsea would score.” Zonal Marking

Poor Ox: Arsenal-Chelsea and the Mistaken-Identity Red Card
“Poor Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain. When you have a 15-minute stretch as poor as the one the Arsenal midfielder had against Chelsea on Saturday, you usually at least get to disappear afterward. A turnover leading directly to a goal, getting caught out of position up the field for a second, and then a (possibly harsh) red card for handling the ball on the line for a third goal is about as bad as it gets. After a quarter of an hour like that, a player’s only relief is that at least he gets to fade away, out of the limelight, back in the dressing room after being sent off. Poor Ox was denied even that.” Grantland

Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona: intelligent players find space in a crazily open match

March 26, 2014

“Barcelona came out on top in a brilliantly topsy-turvy Clasico. Carlo Ancelotti named his expected starting XI. Gerardo Martino selected Neymar rather than Pedro Rodriguez or Alexis Sanchez as his second forward, and continued with Andres Iniesta tucking inside from the left, as he’s often done in big games. This was the most fast-paced game you’ll see all season, with neither side controlling the game but both attacking relentlessly.” Zonal Marking

Tactician’s Corner: Barca, Real Madrid philosophies clash in spectacular Clásico
“El Clásico showed again on Sunday why it is one of the most anticipated fixtures on the world soccer schedule every year. The intensity and drama combined to make it one of the best games of the year, not to mention the seven-goal score line. In the end, Barcelona defeated Real Madrid, 4-3. Karim Benzema seemed to be on his way to a hat trick for Madrid, but Lionel Messi ended up bagging three goals instead — two on penalty kicks, including the winner in the 84th minute.” SI

Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona: Tactical Analysis
“One of the fiercest rivalries in World football was resumed on Sunday night as Real Madrid played host to Barcelona in an encounter that had the potential to influence the destination of this season’s La Liga crown. Any match between these 2 isn’t going to be called a dead rubber, but this was one had extra significance in a season which has seen leadership of the league vacillate between not just 2, but 3 different contenders. The Catalans needed to win to stay in the hunt and revive their hopes of retaining their title. For Martino, the clash was important because many felt that his future hinges on the clash. Madrid had the opportunity to go 7 clear of their arch-rivals at this stage of the season, effectively knocking them out of the title race.” Outside of the Boot

Manchester United 0-3 Manchester City: United forced to change shape within ten minutes

March 26, 2014

“Manchester City recorded a comfortable victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford. David Moyes named Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley in the same team for the first time, with Danny Welbeck returning to the side. Rio Ferdinand was fit enough to return at the back. Manuel Pellegrini went for Edin Dzeko ahead of Alvaro Negredo, and Gael Clichy ahead of Aleksandar Kolarov. City started brilliantly, and probably should have won the game within the first 25 minutes.” Zonal Marking

Manchester United disheveled again in 3-0 loss to rivals City
“The Stretford End was in fine voice again — in the past month it’s probably been as consistently noisy as it has been for a couple of decades — but this is a volume born of defiance. One again Manchester United was outclassed in a big game, for the second time in a month left to contemplate a 3-0 defeat to local rivals, either of which could go on to win the Premier League title.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Liverpool prosper from flexible philosophy of Brendan Rodgers

March 26, 2014

“It was José Mourinho who branded Arsène Wenger a ‘specialist in failure’ but Brendan Rodgers’ actions could give those words more clout. Despite not benefitting from the ‘financial doping’ that Wenger says falsifies the Premier League title race, Rodgers, in only his second full season at Anfield, has guided Liverpool into a position to do what Wenger has been trying and failing to achieve for the past 10 years: win the league with a swagger. The purpose of the comparison with Wenger is not to aim a gratuitous kick at the Frenchman but rather to acclaim a manager who has an equally strong commitment to playing attractive football but has applied it with greater intelligence.” Guardian – Paul Doyle

Bayern clinch a historic Bundesliga title

March 26, 2014

“‘It will not last forever,’ Martin says on this day in late March. Before the game, Berlin was hit by hail storms. Temperatures have gone down again, too. Spring, it feels, is still a faraway place. The fans outside the Olympiastadion still sport their between-season jackets; you can barely see the jerseys popping up underneath the collar. But on this very day, Bayern Munich were out to break another Bundesliga record — to win the fastest-ever Bundesliga title. Though mid-table Hertha Berlin made them sweat in the second half, Bayern’s 3-1 win took the Bavarians over the finish line.” ESPN

Team Focus: Record Breaking Parma Dream of a Return to Europe

March 26, 2014

“Parma were undone by a ‘Quagliarellata’. A wonder strike that came out of nowhere. Juventus hadn’t scored from open play at the Ennio Tardini in six years. Something special was required. Who else but Fabio Quagliarella duly provided it. Thirty-five yards out with his back to goal he turned his man and pitched a looping shot against the upright. It left Parma goalkeeper Antonio Mirante stunned. By the time he recovered his senses, Paul Pogba had followed Quagliarella’s shot up to score the only goal of the game. Parma had resisted until the 75th minute. It was the last time they lost in Serie A. That was right at the beginning of November.” Who Scored – James Horncastle