Player Ratings: Benzema the hero as Madrid crush Barcelona

October 27, 2014

Real Madrid CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga
“Real Madrid put on a performance to match any seen in the history of the Clasico at the Bernabeu on Saturday. The home side went behind to Neymar’s early goal but rebounded to carve out a 3-1 win that should have been even more emphatic. Tactically, Carlo Ancelotti outdid his Barcelona counterpart Luis Enrique by deploying two wide men in Isco and James Rodriguez, who had the desired effect of pulling Barca’s back line out of shape. Luka Modric and Toni Kroos bossed the midfield contest — Enrique elected to leave Ivan Rakitic on the bench — and Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema were duly handed the freedom of the Bernabeu.” ESPN

RATINGS: Suarez impressed but Benzema has final say in El Clasico
“In a game that attracted a worldwide audience of around 400 million people, Real Madrid claimed El Clasico bragging rights with a 3-1 destruction of Barcelona. Luis Suarez impressed on his long-awaited debut but it was Neymar who silenced the Bernabeu by opening the scoring after only four minutes before Cristiano Ronaldo sent the teams in level with a penalty for his 16th league goal of the season. The second half belonged to the hosts who doubled their lead through a header from defender Pepe before Karim Benzema completed a beautiful passing move to slot home their third and final goal.” Daily Mail

La Liga El Clasico: Real Madrid 3-1 FC Barcelona: Player Ratings
“A detailed, player-by-player breakdown of Barcelona’s gut-wrenching La Liga loss in the El Clasico.” Barca Blaugranes


The big clubs get bigger leaving the rest to collect the stickers

October 27, 2014

“I received an interesting present as I made my way to Rio’s legendary Maracana stadium on Wednesday evening. Flamengo, the club with the biggest support base in the land, was playing Internacional, a big club in its own right with ambitions of winning this year’s title – ambitions which took a blow with its 2-0 defeat. The slightly disappointing crowd of just under 19,000 went home happy – the win would seem to remove the slightest risk of Flamengo being relegated. Many of them travelled back clutching the same thing I had been handed as I made my way out of the local underground station and down the ramp towards the stadium – a sticker album of the UEFA Champions League, with a few stickers to start off the collection.” The World Game – Tim Vicery


Angel Di Maria and Juan Mata set for reunion with Mourinho

October 27, 2014

“Manchester United have broken their record transfer fee twice in 2014, with vastly different levels of success. Juan Mata has rarely sparkled since his 37.1 million-pound move from Chelsea in January, but Angel Di Maria has been in impressive form, having been signed for 59.7 million pounds in the summer. Jose Mourinho, who visits Old Trafford with Chelsea this weekend, might have predicted how things would go. Mourinho, of course, has coached both, and his perception of the duo tallies closely with their Manchester United performances. He struggled to appreciate Mata in their half-season together at Chelsea, believing the Spaniard was incompatible with his favoured system, and was happy to sell him to United.” ESPN – Michael Cox


Mid-Group Stage Champions League Update

October 27, 2014

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“We’re halfway through the 2014-15 Champions League group stage. The UCL is one of the greatest tournaments in all of sports because we get a chance to catch our breath for a couple weeks after every matchday. So let’s do so. Some groups are mostly decided, others hang in the balance. Who will go through in each four-team sector? To the groups!” Center Circle


Gennaro Gattuso quits then returns as manager at OFI Crete

October 27, 2014

“The aggression, intensity, and general bearded shoutyness that made ex-AC Milan star Gennaro Gattuso one of the best defensive midfielders in the world during the 2000s aren’t serving him quite as well now he’s gone from tackler to tactician. First there was a 2013 spell as player-coach of Swiss club Sion, which lasted less than three months. To be fair, that’s actually a long time at Sion. Gattuso was their fifth manager of the season, because the club’s president is a testicle-kicking architect who’s incapable of designing solid foundations. Later that year, Gattuso moved on to another club where managers have shorter lifespans than mayflies – then Serie B’s Palermo. The Sicilians axed him after he steered them to only seven points in the first six games.” Soccer Gods


The tactics behind West Ham’s recent success

October 27, 2014

“West Ham beat Manchester City yesterday and are currently sitting in fourth position in the Barclay’s Premier League, one point behind the title holders. On top of this, they have completely changed the manner in which they attack. Having played nine games, they look like a force to be reckoned with and it looks like no team is ever going to get an easy three points off ‘The Hammers’ this season. By deploying a 4-4-2 diamond formation – which can be described as a 4-1-2-1-2 – they have made the most of what is available to them. West Ham’s team is built from back to front. This is definitely one of West Ham’s strong points. Despite impressing their own fans on an offensive front, West Ham’s priority has always been defence. So, who better to start with than Adrián?” backpagefootball