24/04/13 – Borussia Dortmund vs Real Madrid (Champions League Semi Final)

Borussia Dortmund vs Real Madrid (Champions League Semi Final)Mats Hummels is finally fit enough to return to Borussia Dortmund’s Champions League starting XI at the expense of Felipe Santana. Elsewhere Sven Bender is likely to play ahead of Sebastian Kehl in what should be Jurgen Klopp’s first choice line-up.

A suspension to Alvaro Arbeloa will mean Jose Mourinho is in need of a full back: Sergio Ramos may move from centre back rather than Michael Essien coming in. Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain continue to tussle for the forward position, although the Frenchman’s weekend goal may give him the edge.

These sides met in the group stage, Dortmund winning 2-1 at home before earning a 2-2 draw in the Bernabeu with a mixture of intelligent defence and quick counter attacks… (Read more)

09/04/13 – Galatasaray vs Real Madrid (Champions League Quarter Final)

Galatasaray vs Real MadridA suspension to Buruk Yilmaz robs Fatih Terim of his top scorer, so Galatasaray will pair Umut Bulut alongside Didier Drogba in attack. With both Tomas Ujfalusi (injured) and Dany Nounkeu (suspended) missing in defence Gokhan Zan should come in alongside Semih Kaya.

Jose Mourinho is without the suspended Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso – although how upset he will be about that is debatable. Pepe and Luka Modric should come in. Otherwise Real Madrid should start their first choice side, but expect key players to be removed if the tie is wrapped up with an early away goal.

Few would deny this tie is over, but a tactical contest still remains. Terim attempted an ambitious and aggressive policy in the first leg that left Galatasaray vulnerable at the back and they paid the price. For this game he somehow needs to adjust his system to become more solid, yet find at least three goals. Madrid will play their usual way and expect to kill the game by half time… (Read more)

05/03/13 – Manchester United vs Real Madrid (Champions League Last 16)

Man Utd vs Real MadridManchester United host Real Madrid with the tie perfectly poised at 1-1.

Sir Alex Ferguson will be without Phil Jones, who performed an important defensive role in the first leg, so Ferguson may turn to Ryan Giggs or Tom Cleverley in a holding role alongside Michael Carrick. With Nemanja Vidic playing at the weekend, Jonny Evans will probably partner Rio Ferdinand in defence. Antonio Valencia has been given the chance to play himself back into form – although it’s debatable if he has succeeded – and will probably play on the right, while Wayne Rooney and Shinji Kagawa will expect to fill the left midfield and central playmaker roles.

Madrid are coming into this game off the back of two Clasico victories, so confidence should be high. The form of Raphael Varane has made him a regular alongside Sergio Ramos, but Alvaro Arbeloa appears to face competition from Michael Essien for the right back slot following the latter’s deployment at full back on Saturday. Pepe, often used as a midfield destroyer against Barcelona, may feature as a more defensive option to Sami Khedira. Once again Jose Mourinho must choose between Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain in attack – Benzema’s opener on Saturday in conjunction with Higuain’s poor showing in the first leg probably makes the Frenchman favourite to start. Iker Casillas’ inclusion in the squad suggests he may rival Diego Lopez for the goalkeeping position.

Just as with the first leg both managers will want to counter attack, so the team seemingly on the back foot will often be the side offering the most threat… (Read more)

02/03/13 – Real Madrid vs Barcelona (La Liga)

Real Madrid (4-2-1-3) vs BarcelonaReal Madrid and Barcelona have played each other so often in recent years that attempting to offer a new insight into the tactical battle is all but impossible. The match will be the usual contest between Madrid’s physicality and Barcelona’s technical quality, quick counter attacks versus patient possession football. No ‘Clasico’ is ever played without purpose but with Barcelona having all but secured the league title and important Champions League fixtures coming up for both teams, this game certainly lacks the fixture’s usual edge.

Therefore rather than previewing the game I have decided to consider a tactical ‘Plan B’ for either team, or how the inclusion of specific players could add extra dimensions to their approach. Should Jose Mourinho wish to add extra depth to his midfield he could select Luka Modric in the advanced midfield position who would offer more tactical flexibility than Mesut Ozil. Modric was signed in the summer to supposedly offer such an option, but as yet he has struggled to hold down a first team spot, yet against Barcelona his ability to play in deeper areas would surely be an asset. For Barcelona Tito Vilanova, or in his absence Jordi Roura, can look to add more verticality by selecting Alexis Sanchez or David Villa on the left wing to mirror the direct running of Pedro on the right. As the 2-0 defeat to AC Milan demonstrated, at times the Catalan’s can lack penetration when they pack their midfield and forward line with playmakers.

Neither of these options are radical nor are they even untried by either manager, but they are a divergence from both Mourinho and Vilanova’s first choice XIs… (Read more)

13/02/13 – Real Madrid vs Manchester United

Real Madrid vs Man Utd (4-2-3-1)Both teams’ attention is almost solely on Europe now interest in their respect leagues has waned, with Real Madrid out of the La Liga title race and Manchester United holding a comfortable lead at the top of the Premier League. Yet despite their varying fortunes in their domestic leagues, and with United coming into this game as group stage winners, Madrid still appear many people’s favourites going into this tie.

Despite the hyperbole from both managers about a potential classic, Ferguson is likely to focus on containment while Madrid attempt to play for a victory. In this regard, with Madrid likely to be predictable in their approach, analysis focuses on United’s tactical selection… (Read more)