Real Madrid vs Espanyol La Liga Preview

Real Madrid vs Espanyol Preview: Everybody forgets Cris

The day after Real Madrid crushed Roma in their Champions League debut, some newspapers have written dull headlines mentioning Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence. Well, amigos, just like Elsa sings in “Frozen”, it is time to let it go.

An idol will always be an idol, that’s for sure. But, collectively, Julen Lopetegui’s Real Madrid grows bolder and stronger than most of its version in recent years under Ronaldo’s baton and Zidane’s management. There is no key player now – at least, none comparable with the Portuguese in imposing fear, thus diminishing the certainty of triumphs. But there is more fluidity within the game where only sparks and individualities were expected. In the end, they shot 30 times on goal, with 11 of those on target to Olsen’s net.

Against a strong, but humane Roma, Luka Modric conducted Madrid’s victory as he’d had all his colleagues connected under GPS. The Croatian wizard played at Santiago Bernabéu as someone who wants to justify a World Cup Golden Ball that was disputable, to say the least. His engineering of passing and articulating Madrid’s offensive moves promises a new era when combined to Bale’s Boltian speed and Asensio’s humiliating skills. Read More

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Liverpool vs Southampton

Liverpool vs Southampton Preview: Ode to the One-Eyed King

Anfield rarely disappoints you on a Champions League night.

It could be argued that the Reds were unfortunate to be put in a strong group with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and even Crvena Zvezda who showed this week that passion can get you places even when all the odds are stacked against you.

In a way, it was the case with Liverpool as well, who pulled off a coup against an expensive PSG side, packed with some of the world’s most expensive players. Kylian Mbappe and Neymar were, however, given the taste of a genuine football atmosphere where fans and players breathe like one – holding each other’s back and moving forward hand in hand towards unimaginable heights. Read More

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Manchester City 1-2 Lyon

View From The Press Box: Manchester City 1-2 Lyon

In a new feature for Twelve, James Nalton reports from the press box on Manchester City 1-2 Lyon.

For modern Manchester City, defeats are a rarity. When looking at the bigger picture, and the club’s history, that they are even competing in the Champions League is something. That they expect to win every game they play is something else. This is how far they have come in a short space of time but even though they rarely lose, defeat to Olympique Lyonnais means they have now lost their last four in this competition.

It was December of last year that Pep Guardiola’s side tasted defeat for the first time in the 2017/18 season, when they lost to wily European campaigners Shakhtar Donetsk. Their manager used the loss to spur his side on for the rest of the season, and though this latest disappointment has come earlier in the campaign, Guardiola will hope it has a similar effect.

Guardiola was serving a touchline ban as a result of being sent to the stands for complaining to the referee during his side’s defeat to Liverpool in the quarter-finals last season. Mikel Arteta took control, and it appeared that he’d been given a chance to take full responsibility, taking pre and post-match press conferences as well as leading the team from the touchline. Read More

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Manchester United vs Wolves Premier League Preview

Manchester United vs Wolves Preview: United on the rise?

Manchester United take on Wolves this weekend on the back of some improved form and results following their rocky start to the season. Having lost 3-0 at home to Tottenham Hotspur, United supporters were worried about their chances of picking up all three points away to Watford, considering the Hornets had just beaten Mauricio Pochettino’s men.

Yet their fears were eased on the back of a first half performance that saw them deservedly go 2-0 up thanks to goals from Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling. United were less impressive in the second half but still managed to hang on to the win, courtesy of some excellent late stops from the ever reliable David de Gea.

This weekend’s fixture against Nuno Espírito Santo’s side should be less of a struggle, even if they are currently just one point worse off than United this season. Still, when you consider they’ve averaged just one goal per game so far, even United’s less than impressive defence should be able to ensure they keep a clean sheet. Read More

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Brighton vs Tottenham Premier League Preview

Brighton vs Tottenham: Snuffing out or just stuttering?

Tottenham played their best football of the season for a 30-40 minute stretch on Tuesday night before extending their losses to three in a row (which has never been seen before under Mauricio Pochettino) because sometimes that is just how football is.

The underlying mental weakness which Spurs and Pochettino have worked so hard, for so long to banish from the conversation surrounding the club crept back in, as three points as of 85 minutes became none by full time.

The discourse digs in deeper now. Is Pochettino’s head already elsewhere? Are the players still willing to invest? Has the system been found out? Is the project reaching it’s conclusion?

We can’t mind read but we can point to more tactical explanations and solutions. They are three-fold: Read More

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Cardiff City vs Manchester City Premier League Preview

Cardiff City vs Manchester City Preview: Keep the Party Going

It must be one of the scenarios coaches often dream of, when you can pick up players from your bench and know that they are going to deliver. Pep Guardiola is in exactly that position right now. A few days ago, Leroy Sané, one of Manchester City’s standout players of last season, was considered to be in a crisis.

The 22-year-old did not make the cut for Joachim Löw’s German national team at the World Cup, which after all was probably a blessing in disguise, and then had a rough start this season. Read More

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Eden Hazard Premier League Team Of The Week

Premier League Team of Week 5: The Duke is Hazard

It won’t surprise anyone to see that Eden Hazard features in the headline, as a hat-trick will always propel a player into our team of the week. Our 3-4-3 formation also contains one of the performances of the season so far, and a TOTW regular earns another cap. But we begin with a goalkeeper who hasn’t had the best time of it over the last few years.

Goalkeeper: Joe Hart. Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 Burnley.

Joe Hart was a busy boy on Sunday. He made six saves, including two from clear-cut chances. Most distressingly for Burnley, on our algorithm he was their top player in an attacking sense too. Things are looking bleak for Sean Dyche’s team at present.  Read More

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Young Boys vs Manchester United Champions League preview

Young Boys vs Manchester United: Mourinho’s momentum building

Manchester United will look to get their 2018/19 Champions league campaign off to the perfect start when they travel to Switzerland to take on Young Boys on Wednesday night. The last time United were in the elite European competition wasn’t memorable for them, as they lost to Sevilla in the first knockout round. This will be Young Boys’ first-ever appearance in the group stages of the competition, and they will be hoping for a historic win.

United’s momentum is building

United have now won two games in a row, and victory against Watford represented a huge win for Jose Mourinho’s struggling side. This may not seem like an impressive achievement, and United didn’t show a dominant performance, but two tricky away games against Burnley and Watford are behind them and Mourinho’s side’s momentum is starting to build.

And it’s thanks to a change in tactics. Read More

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Real Madrid vs Roma Champions League Preview

Real Madrid vs Roma Preview: New Era Begins for Los Blancos

With their eyes firmly set on the midweek Champions League action, both Real Madrid and AS Roma will be determined to put their respective domestic draws behind them as Europe’s elite competition returns to the spotlight. Real Madrid vs Roma could be a cracker.

The reigning European champions kick off their title defence and start pursuit of their fourth consecutive Champions League title through the beginning of a new era at Santiago Bernabeu. All of their previous four European crowns were in large amounts won thanks to the formidable goal scoring exploits of the man who is now residing in Turin (and will be hoping to spread his ketchup in Valencia). Read More

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Inter Milan vs Tottenham Champions League Preview

Inter Milan vs Tottenham Preview: Can Spurs pick themselves up?

Tottenham will need to improve on recent results if they are to get anything out of Tuesday night’s game against Inter Milan.

Spurs’ 2-1 defeat to Liverpool on Saturday was a flattering score line for the north London club, who had one of their sloppiest performances under Mauricio Pochettino. Tottenham were slow off the blocks and conceded in the first minute, only for the goal to be ruled offside. However, this did not send a warning to the Spurs players who continued to play their lacklustre football with multiple passes going astray and a number of them leading to Liverpool chances.

Just before half time the first goal scored by Liverpool came in that fashion with Spurs failing to clear the ball and Christian Eriksen heading the ball back to Liverpool who scored from the resulting corner.

Michel Vorm was heavily criticised for his poor contact of the ball that allowed Wijnaldum to head in, with the referee having to revert to goal line technology for clarification of the ball going in. Liverpool later doubled their lead after the ball hit the post and Michel Vorm couldn’t scramble onto the rebound, which resulted in Firmino tapping home. Read More

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