Manchester derby No ratings yet.

Manchester derby confirmed what was clear to everyone; City is miles ahead of United. Not even Pogba could turn this one around.

Manchester derby

Manchester derby

Across Europe a lot of mouth-watering clashes were played and the Manchester derby was the big match in Premier League this weekend. And everybody who expected a tight affair was left disappointed.

City produced a dominant display that didn’t allow the Reds any chance. True, United missed their best player in Pogba who fort-fitted just before the kick off. However city missed their best midfielder also in De Bruyne. So we could call important absences even!

Interestingly Mourinho and Guardiola didn’t fire poisonous dart at each other in the build up. As things stand right now that’s the only duel the Portuguese manager has a chance of winning.

City’s dominance

The scenario was clear from the beginning; the blues to keep the ball and attack in numbers and the reds to wait for mistakes and hit on the counter. It’s a familiar sight in the Manchester derby the last few years.

It was also clear that United’s midfield with Matić, Herrera and Fellaini can’t provide sufficient support to the attackers thru patient build-up play and defence-splitting balls. For that Mata would have to be involved. This midfield was composed to close the spaces and run the extra mile.

It looked as if Mourinho ordered man-marking of City’s central trio. Fellaini stepped up to mirror Fernandinho, Herrera tried to shadow David Silva and Matić was supposed to follow Bernardo Silva.

And it worked for United at the start. Well, at least for the first 10 minutes! Citizen’s play is way too dynamic and flexible to be limited with this kind of approach.

Early lead secured by David Silva who pounced on a loose ball in the heart of the penalty area was a just reward for shown till then. United barely had a kick and was already trailing.

Even before the goal the hosts, City in this case, had a few situations that could lead to their advantage.

United’s misery

Midway thru the first half Smalling had a header fly over the crossbar of a bored Ederson. And that “chance” was everything Mourinho’s troops managed in the first half.

United’s tactic to exploit opponents mistakes back-fired immediately after the break.

De Gea’s, Reds’s best player by far the last few seasons, miss-kick was picked up in the center of the park by City. Quick transition and a scholastic one-two on the edge of the area freed Aguero in a shooting chance inside the box.

The Argentine usually takes these kind of chances and he did it this time also. Thunderous shot above the keeper’s head; 2:0 and game virtually closed.

Manchester United’s 2nd half come-back, kind off…

Soon after Aguero’s goal Lukaku came on for an uninspired Lingard and immediately made an impact.

The Belgian striker went for a rare vertical pass in City’s penalty area. The situation wasn’t of any danger to the Brazilian shot-stopper in City’s goal as Lukaku’s movement was away from the goal.

Anyway, Ederson decided to go for it and duly came late, brought down the robust attacker and a penalty was given. Martial routinely converted from the spot, 2:1 and contest re-opened. It happened in the 58th minute and everything still to play for.

In theory, at least.

Mourinho’s game-plan worked in this occasion! They bored the opposition’s goalkeeper until he decided to go for an innocuous ball just to get some action. And made the mistake the Reds carved for!

Man Utd had a few minutes on the front foot after reducing the gap however never really threatened to get the second. Last season’s script wasn’t to be repeated.

Sane came in for Mahrez and demonstrated why he’s regarded the present and the future of the club. His quick feet and explosiveness were too much to handle for a tired United defense. He did spurn some good situations but he came in them with ease.

After a few missed opportunities, Guendogan’s goal in 86th minute cleared any doubts. The goal itself is the best demonstration of the gulf in class between the sides.

The German finished a team move that included 44 passes (!!!) and almost the whole team participating in the maneuver!

Conclusions from the derby

Manchester derby 2

City are the team to beat in England’s top flight, no argument there. Clear game-plan, several options for every position across the pitch and a ever-demanding manager.

The future looks bright and the final triumph is theirs to loose.

Manchester United’s been riding their luck and relying on for too long now. No clear game-plan, no rehearsed routines in attacking moves, little-to-none creativity in the maneuver, slow and predictable ball circulation. And a porous defense that already costed them important points.

League leaders are way ahead of them in every aspect.

If there was any talk or idea in the red side of Manchester about title challenge before the season started, they should revise their goals and set the bar lower. Much, much lower.

Chasing pack

Only Liverpool manages to keep up with Pep’s formidable team. Klopp’s boys managed to get over the midweek shock in Belgrade and obtain a win against slumping Fulham. As usually Salah broke the dead-lock. It wasn’t easy as the score-line might suggest as teh London outfit had some good opportunities to get in front but eventually succumbed to another defeat. Perhaps unjust but ultimately no points for them. Again.

Salah

Similarly, Tottenham forced a win away at Crystal Palace. First goal for young center-back Foyth proved enough to get all 3 points and maintain title hopes.

Chelsea somehow managed not to win against fairly modest Everton. The chances were there however eventually none of them were taken and the Liverpool side went home with a big smile on their face.

Another contender to drop important points at home was Arsenal. Contrary to Chelsea, Arsenal perhaps got what they deserved as for all the possession, Wolves had more attempts on goal and on target.

Relegation battle

Newcastle and Cardiff City snitched important wins against Bournemouth and Brighton respectively to escape from the relegation zone.

Especially important for Newcastle to build on last weekend’s win against Watford thus making it two-in-a-row.

Manchester derby was the most imbalanced match of the weekend with City displaying alarming supremacy. And since majority of other fixtures pitted top club’s against bottom one’s, it raises a lot of questions about United’s near future.

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UEFA Champions League – game over? No ratings yet.

UEFA Champions League is regarded as world’s top football competition. Even better then the World Cup. And now it’s coming to an end.

Footballleaks made public documents where it is clear that some of the biggest clubs in Europe decided to part ways with the sports continental governing body and start a competition that they’ll run as they deem appropriate.

What’s the idea?

Real, Bayern, Juve, Barca

The idea is to have a league of 16 clubs from Europe’s most infuential countries playing in the Super League.

Historical continental heavyweights such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan, Juventus, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Bayern Munich decided that they have the right to confront the best in the continent no matter what some criteria might say.

Newly great clubs such as Chelsea, Manchester City and PSG, with their economical power are welcome to join the elite even if there are no traces of them in the history of international competitions. OK, Chelsea won the CL in 2012 but that’s recent history, after multi-million take-over. You might argue the same even for Arsenal but the London club at least won the Cup Winner’s Cup in the 1990’s so there is at least some trace of them.

If you want to organize a league you need sufficient participants.

Super League

Can’t be hard to find somebody to participate in a league where the big boys play so Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, AS Roma and Olympique de Marseille accepted the invitation.

Ironically Olympique Marseille won the first edition of the UEFA Champions League, and the only for France, and Inter Milan is the last Italian club to lift the famed trophy but they’re not in the founders circle.

The competition would be very similar to the current format of the Champions league but with a closed circle of constant participants and carefully selected others to fill the blanks. No more lucky entries from Europe’s eastern countries who steal the show such as Steaua Bucharesti, Crvena Zvezda Belgrade, Dynamo Kyiv,…

Proof that the league has nothing to do with historical achievements, results or performances. It’s all about money!

What about the other historicaly big clubs in Europe?

There are some clubs from other countries that made football history. Clubs like Glasgow Rangers and Celtic from Scotland, Benfica and Porto from Portugal, AFC Ajax and PSV Eindhoven from Netherlands, Anderlecht from Belgium.

Well, the idea is to have also Super League 2, or whatever it would be called, in order to have promotions and relegations, just to make everything more interesting. Naturally, league’s founders couldn’t be relegated.

Which clubs would be there isn’t clear yet but my guess is that clubs such as Sevilla, Valencia, Napoli, Lazio, Tottenham, Zenit and Shakhtar Doneck would be added to some of the other teams that made history in the game.  

What does UEFA think of it?

It’s not something new. UEFA changed the competition’s formation several times and increased prizes in order to please the biggest money-makers is the sport.

In 1992 started the competition as we know it today, the Champions League. Before it was named Champions Cup and included only domestic league winners. Since the richest clubs wanted to compete in the top European level every year, UEFA had no chance then to make it happen. And duly organized a competition that didn’t include only the winners but also other top-seeded teams from respective countries.

Number of teams from each country was decided by UEFA’s coeficient which is calculated based on success in international competition in last 5 years.

It silenced the elite for a while but once Germany surpassed Italy in the ranking and got 4th club in the competition at the expense of the Italians, again everything was wrong.

So UEFA decided that the most influential countires would have guarenteed number of spots in the competition.

But as UEFA always promoted equal chances for everybody had to introduce fair-play regulations. Primarly regarding finances in order to maintain a level of competitivity between the rich and the others. The principle was to spend what you earn.   

However at every opportunity helped cutting corners to giants and ruthlessly slammed the others. Just ask Rubin Kazan about the punishement for not sustaining to the FFP rules. And what was the treatment of PSG and Manchester City?

AC Milan was also under investigation last summer and threatened with international exclusion but somehow convinced the authorities that everything will be fine.

UEFA basically did everything the giants requested and yet could be cut out from a multi-billion business.

UEFA, Čeferin

What can UEFA do?

That’s a good question. The clubs that desire to compete in the international competitions need to apply and follow some strict rules regarding infrastructure (stadium) and organization (youth sector).

If the biggest clubs don’t send their application, what can UEFA do? Exclude the club? Well, they already auto-excluded themselves so it’s not an option.

Penalise the national assosiation? For what? If a club doesn’t want to participate in a competition you can’t force it. Even if you could, they could play the reserve team. And then what?

Could they ban the related countries from the next European championships? Perhaps, but who would be at a loss? Who could prevent the assosiations to organize a Super League for national teams?

UEFA already organized the Nations League to satisfy the biggest countries. To save them from travels to the end of the world and possible humiliation of defeat to footballing excotics. It’s OK for now, but what will happen once a heavy-weight will be relegated to 2nd or even 3rd tier?

When would Super League start?

In 2021 the current agreement with UEFA on the CHampions League format and revenue sharing expires. The best time to start something new is when the existing is over.

Leak or strategical PR and negotiating advantage?

Is this really leak of confidential information or a strategical move? Perhaps initial discovery was the help from FIFA and UEFA to oil magnates in pumping the money into PSG and Man City not caring about FFP and the Super League story serves as a distraction?

Al-Khelafi

Perhaps it is strategical PR in preparing the audience for something new and exiting? Building the expectation and turning on the heat? In ideal circumstances UEFA’s revenues would drastically decrease due to these rumors and elite clubs would come as the Mesiah’s to the sport.

Could be that the clubs are looking for a better negotiationg position? Bigger slice in the next agreement?

Real Madrid won the last CL and got app. 80 mio € from the continental top organization for their effort. In the Super League their share could rise up to over 500 mio € per season.

Only Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich denied any implications, probably because the story was lunched by a German media, Der Spiegel.

And by rejecting the idea of an exit from the Bundesliga are they sending a message to the German national football association?

Rummenigge

A lot of questions are arising due to the leaks and surely the dust won’t settle for some time. And while everybody’s discussing about it, what other surprises are being prepared?

Whatever the truth behind these leaks is it won’t change the one that makes the world go round; rich will get richer on the back of the poor who’ll get poorer.

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Chelsea FC vs Manchester United – nightmare defending No ratings yet.

Chelsea FC vs Manchester United proved the real derby; goals, emotions, mistakes and boiling blood.

For the rest more or less everything as expected.

Chelsea FC vs Manchester United

sarri mourinho

 

It was expected to be the game of the weekend and you’d be forgiven if by half-time you’d be wondering what the fuss was all about. Chelsea was leading thanks to a Ruediger’s goal midway thru the first half and… that was pretty much it! United’s only meaningful escape in the blue half of the pitch was a Lukaku header that ended up well wide.

Once the teams came back from the dressing rooms it was a whole different story! Mourinho apparently instructed his players to step up and attack with more men which resulted in the eventual turn around. Martial took advantage from Chelsea’s shaky defending. And for me David Luiz was the shaky part of it.

Chelsea defence

He’s a great player, good passer or the ball, tremendous shot, good in the air a a lot more but he’s not a defender! That’s probably why Benitez, when in charge of the Stamford Bridge club, played him as defensive midfielder.

For the first goal David Luiz was on the floor, presumably in pain while the ball was bouncing around the box. Can’t determine the severity of his pain however he continued with the match right after therefore I can imagine that he could be on his feet and kick the ball away thru the pain – Martial was striking on goal just next to him! And then lie down and seek for help if it was really needed.

His partners in crime can’t be proud of their reactions also but, being such a hard player when it comes to tackling and fighting, I can’t get rid of the feeling that he could do more in that situation.

If for the first goal he might be in pain and somebody could justify him, for the second I can’t find any excuses. He mistimed his challenge, by a lot I might add, Mata flew past him and with a hole the size of Grand Canyon in the heart of the Blues defence it wasn’t too hard for the visitors to find a player who could fire on target without any obstacles.

After the comeback there were still 20 minutes left to play and Mourinho had his team playing like it was a handball match; everybody close to the box and playing it safe. Meaning kicking the ball as far as you could.

And after 20 minutes of relentless pressure from the home side, what happens?

This!

Chelsea goal

United black out

In the 95th minute with the ball flying into United’s box and with all 11 men defending the lead, THREE Chelsea players find themselves just few steps away from De Gea. Completely alone! And didn’t even score from the first shot after the ball bounced of the post. They had time to take another shot before anybody in red bothered to come close!

Surely the Spaniard is one of the best goalkeepers in the world and has produced some miraculous saves that kept his team afloat several times, however this was too much even for him.

It reminded me of the scenes in Shaolin football…

Mourinho anger

No matter what provocative words were said that caused all of Mourinho’s outrage, he should jump on his players on the field and shout at them! Incredible laps of concentration at the heavens door. Mourinho would enjoy getting one over his old club!

And while he’s shouting he could say a word or two about the first Chelsea goal as well. Ruediger was left completely alone in the center of the box and duly took advantage of it. Directly from a corner! It wasn’t a laboured action, a loose ball or a rebound. The cross came in a he was alone in the very center of the box, free to power his header into the net! Not really top notch defending.

But then again, it was the story of the whole match.

Another clue we could see in this game is that United has fire-power. A lot of it! Why Mourinho is keeping it on a short leash is anybody guess but if he decides to release it and actually play some attacking football from the beginning and not only when he’s losing it might bring some victories. Even the fans might start enjoying themselves in the beloved club’s performances.

Sarri maintained defeat box empty and Mourinho prolonged his stay at the helm of the most successful club in England. And both got a point for their troubles.

Chelsea FC vs Manchester United ended with a draw that before the match would be enough for the visitors, as stated in yesterday’s post and after the match is enoguh for the hosts.

Everything else

Beside the match of the day little surprises. Actually there was one! Liverpool’s win at John Smith stadium. And why is surprising that Liverpool won against Huddersfield Town? Well, because Liverpool didn’t play well, at all, and still managed to take all the stakes! In previous years the game would end up in a draw or perhaps even in a defeat but this time they got the result wanted. Winning without scintillating football, nobody can play 38 matches well, is champions material.

And additional surprise for me are only 3 goals conceded by the Reds defence. When you look at the line-up you don’t see 4 world-class defenders standing in front of Allison. There is one very good player, Virgil, and whoever partners him is just above average at best. Anyway, if it works, why changing it.

For the final victory Manchester City will be asked a question or two and probably also Chelsea, however the Beattles club is running smoothly for now.

City ran riot against Burnley and showed no mercy or sympathy for former club mate and captain Hart in visitor’s goal. Moreover, the Citizens had different scorers for all of the 5 goals while Ederson had the afternoon off. Guardiola surely appreciated the display.

As Liverpool, Tottenham managed to get all three points in the London derby against West Ham also without really demonstrating any of the sexy football they’re so famed for.

Important wins for Cardiff and Brighton against direct opponents for Premier status and for Watford in their quest for season wonder against Wolverhampton.  

Due to next week’s European matches all but 2 games have been played on Saturday which left the Sunday’s afternoon free. And it was a sad afternoon for football hungry fans.

Partial results

October 20

Chelsea 2 – 2 Manchester United

AFC Bournemouth 0 – 0 Southampton

Cardiff City 4 – 2 Fulham

Manchester City 5 – 0 Burnley

Newcastle United 0 – 1 Brighton & Hove Albion

West Ham United 0 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 – 2 Watford

Huddersfield Town 0 – 1 Liverpool

October 21

Everton 2 – 0 Crystal Palace

October 22

21:00 Arsenal – Leicester City

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