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Real Madrid press Juventus to defeat

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Contrast between top and bottom clear

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Son and Alli shine as Spurs outfox Leicester

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Fluent Spurs upset United's man-marking

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Sanchez drops deep to punish defensive United

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Tottenham punish Arsenal mistakes

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Mourinho parks the bus in Manchester derby

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 By Michael Cox

Playing a game under Opta's watch: heat maps, pass completion and terror

With Craig Burley enjoying his holiday, the FC crew take a moment to poke some fun at some of his vacation exploits.

SUTTON, England -- Many of us involved in football reporting have, at some stage, been told our opinions are irrelevant because "we've never played the game." That is, of course, entirely untrue. We've all played the game; we're simply not very good at it. Last week, some of us were afforded the pleasure of discovering quite how incompetent we were, with statistics, graphics and heat maps to prove it.

Football data company Opta held a friendly match at Gander Green Lane, the home of Sutton United,...

 By Michael Cox

Man United give Lukaku the platform he craves to score the goals they need

Romelu Lukaku sits down with ESPN FC's Alexis Nunes in Los Angeles after completing his Manchester United medical.
After working together at Chelsea, Romelu Lukaku says he is excited to link up with Jose Mourinho again at Man United.
Romelu Lukaku says he looks up to Zlatan Ibrahimovic but will fill the striker position in his own way at Man United.
Herculez Gomez feels Romelu Lukaku's move to Man United allows for the Belgian to prove his worth to Mourinho.
Paul Mariner has his doubts as to whether Romelu Lukaku will thrive at Manchester United.
Ian Darke explains why he thinks Romelu Lukaku would be a good fit at Man United if they beat out Chelsea for his services.
The FC crew evaluate whether Romelu Lukaku would make Manchester United a Premier League title contender next season.
Mark Ogden feels Romelu Lukaku is the powerful striker Jose Mourinho and Man United have been searching for.
Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku kept busy ahead of preseason with a five-a-side match in Los Angeles.

This is the age of the false nine and, though there are few Premier League sides that genuinely use a player in the role, the emphasis upon link-up play has unquestionably shifted what managers want from their attackers.

The likes of Sergio Aguero and Alexis Sanchez didn't consider themselves No. 9s when arriving in England, but have been pushed forward to become a main striker with great goal-scoring success.

The same thing happened with Robin van Persie and Carlos Tevez. Even Harry Kane, often...

 By Michael Cox

'He's hit that too well' -- Why striking the ball worse is actually better

Sid Lowe, Raf Honigstein and Steve Nicol weigh the pros and cons of implementing a 60-minute clock in football matches.

One of the most popular footballing cliches presumably makes little sense to anyone watching the sport for the first time. "If anything," the commentator will say after an attacker's shot hasn't ended up in the net, "he's actually hit that too well."

It's difficult to imagine, for example, a runner running a race too well, or a long jumper jumping too far. But there is some logic behind this, especially with the evolution of the modern ball and how players now attempt to kick it.

The cliche is usually...

 By Michael Cox

Differing approaches inspired German, Chilean resurgences in the last decade

The FC crew make their picks for the Confederations Cup final between Chile and Germany.
Gab Marcotti examines the strengths and weaknesses of Germany and Chile ahead of the Confederations Cup final.
Daniel Amokachi and Andrew Kabuura discuss Germany's youthful Confederations Cup side and why they believe they've been so successful.

International football has, unfortunately, not been in a particularly good state over recent years. Once considered the peak of the game, it's impossible to claim now that it remotely rivals the standard of the Champions League.

The abolition of the three-foreigner rule, combined with increasing inequality both within leagues and between them, means top club sides are able to assemble players an international team cannot imagine.

The increased tactical emphasis in modern football, meanwhile, means...

 By Michael Cox

With Rooney gone, time for England to focus on collective group, not one star

England striker Harry Kane believes the rivalry between England and Scotland is still alive and has drawn comparisons with playing in a London derby.
Former England defender Sol Campbell is keen to see an evolution of England's players with Gareth Southgate in charge.
England's Marcus Rashford insists he is always learning from Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Manchester United.

Here are two quick questions.

First, who was Spain's key player for their World Cup success in 2010?

Second, who was Germany's key player for their World Cup success in 2014?

There is, of course, no right answer to either question.

For Spain you could name Xavi Hernandez for orchestrating the midfield play, Andres Iniesta for his mesmeric attacking midfield play or David Villa for his goal return.

Similarly, for Germany you could pinpoint Manuel Neuer's sweeper-keeping, Philipp Lahm's...

 By Michael Cox

To rebuild Man Utd's attack, Mourinho must focus on ability, not position

With Sir Alex Ferguson's comments on entertaining football, the FC crew analyse if it's a not so subtle dig at Jose Mourinho.
The guys answer your tweets on Marquinhos moving on, Prem clubs struggling in the UCL, and who Man United needs to buy.

It's funny how quickly things change in football. One moment Antoine Griezmann was specifically rating his chances of joining Manchester United, the next the transfer seemed off entirely, thanks to the upholding of a transfer ban that means Atletico Madrid wouldn't be able to sign a replacement for their best player.

United quickly reacted by briefing that they were instead looking for a No. 9, rather than a deeper or wider forward like Griezmann. Beyond that sounding suspiciously like sour grapes...