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Blog - Tactics and Analysis

Can, Skrtel, Sakho combo key for Reds


Man City are dependent on Yaya Toure

Tactics & Analysis

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Tactics And Analysis

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Tactics And Analysis
 By Michael Cox

Manchester City's problems are caused by their players, not tactics

ESPN FC's Craig Burley believes Manuel Pellegrini can get away with his 4-4-2 formation against lesser teams but not against top teams like Barcelona.
ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno does not believe Manuel Pellegrini's substitution pattern shows an attacking strategy, while Shaka Hislop thinks the Man City manager's message to his players is muddled.

After a week when Manchester City were convincingly defeated by both Barcelona and Liverpool, with 2-1 losses flattering the English champions on both occasions, manager Manuel Pellegrini's tactics inevitably came under fire.

For both contests, his 4-4-2 formation was outplayed in midfield and exposed between the lines, leading to many questions about whether the Chilean has the tactical nous necessary to get results against the biggest sides.

The 4-4-2 itself isn't necessarily a problem, although...

Emre Can, Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho combination key for Liverpool

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes a defensive lapse cost his side a place in the last 16 of the Europa League at the hands of Besiktas.

It's fair to say that while the Capital One Cup final between Chelsea and Tottenham will be the main event in English football this weekend, the Premier League meeting of sixth-placed Liverpool and title holders Manchester City closely follows.

Both sides will be looking to bounce back from disappointing results in Europe in midweek but it's the Reds whose exploits may well have been most damaging come the weekend. Were it not for the fact that not only did Liverpool play two days after City's narrow...

 By Michael Cox

Juventus must find a way to cope with Dortmund's pressure

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti breaks down Borussia Dortmund and Juventus' recent form, where he feels despite the "sky falling" domestically for Dortmund, they have proven to be a different side in the Champions League.

The greatest aspect of top-level European competition is the opportunity to witness contrasting footballing styles face one another; pleasingly, despite the globalisation of football and the increased movement of players and coaches across borders, obvious differences remain between Europe's best leagues.

The obvious example from this week's set of Champions League fixtures is the clash between Borussia Dortmund and Juventus in Turin on Tuesday night. Whereas some of the second round ties are frustratingly...

Emre Can is Liverpool's future and able to fill the void left by Steven Gerrard

Emre Can has been one of Liverpool's best performers in recent weeks and has settled in well following his move to Anfield last summer.

With Liverpool 1-0 down against Bolton in their FA Cup replay in early February, it seemed logical for Brendan Rodgers to introduce Daniel Sturridge for an underperforming Joe Allen with 20 minutes to go.

Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson were already on the pitch in the middle, while Rodgers had Alberto Moreno to play on the left and any one of Raheem Sterling, Fabio Borini or Philippe Coutinho who could move to the right side in their 3-4-3 formation.

Rodgers, though, made a more subtle yet...

 By Michael Cox

Karim Benzema better than ever but still underrated at Real Madrid

ESPN FC's Santi Solari discusses Real Madrid's injury crisis but believes they can rebound against Schalke in the Champions League round of 16.
The UEFA Champions League is back and the FC crew debate which of the remaining 16 teams is the favourite.

In a team packed with the world's most revered superstars, it feels slightly strange that Karim Benzema is Real Madrid's undisputed first-choice centre-forward.

It's not that Benzema isn't a fine footballer; he's just not a genuine superstar. This is a club that relishes big-name players more than any other, routinely buying the World Cup's best performer (Ronaldo, Fabio Cannavaro, Mesut Ozil, James Rodriguez after the past four) because there's a fetish for the glamour of big signings.


Three 'underdog' teams to watch in the Champions League round of 16

The UEFA Champions League is back and the FC crew debate which of the remaining 16 teams is the favourite.

The past season, Atletico Madrid came within minutes of shocking the world and winning a Champions League trophy. They were leading through regular time in the final against rivals Real Madrid, and it took an injury-time equalizer (and three extra-time goals) to end the dream. This was no fluke run; Atletico's quality shone through in the group stages, where they were unbeaten, and of course in La Liga, where they took the title.

Is it possible to identify another Atleti who could have a similar...