Roma vs Viktoria Plzen Champions League Preview

Roma vs Viktoria Plzen Preview: A piece of cake for Di Francesco?

While Roma slipped to a 3-0 defeat at holders Real Madrid, Plzeň looked set to kick off with a victory. They opened up a two-goal lead on CSKA Moscow, only to concede twice in the second period – the equaliser a penalty deep into added time – to be pegged back to a 2-2 draw.

It’s a live-or-die game for both sides, and when we take a look at Twelve’s leader board for the opening matches, we can see how a comparison between their players would be disputed.

Roma vs Viktoria Plzen Champions League Preview

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Manchester United vs Valencia Champions League Preview

Manchester United vs Valencia Preview: José on the brink?

José Mourinho may already be in the last chance saloon at Manchester United following a disastrous week that saw the club knocked out of the League Cup at the hands of Derby, before suffering a humiliating 3-1 defeat against West Ham. Tuesday night provides the manager with the opportunity for some redemption when the team face Valencia in the Champions League.

Having won their opening game in the tournament 3-0 away to Young Boys, a home game against the Spanish side, who have won just one of their seven league games this season, should present an easy opportunity for Mourinho to win back some of his pride. Nobody will be betting on it being as simple as it looks on paper though, given United’s woes recently.

One positive from the recent trip to the London Stadium was the performance of substitute Marcus Rashford. Initially deployed on the right, before swapping to the left flank, the young forward brought more energy to United’s attack. He wanted to get involved in everything, having missed out on the last three games following his red card against Burnley, and was rewarded for his efforts with an excellent backheeled goal. Read More

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Huddersfield vs Tottenham Premier League Preview

Huddersfield vs Tottenham: Spurs still shaky as Gazzaniga stars again

Spurs will be hoping their top strength side will be able to overcome Huddersfield Town in their Premier League clash, after fielding a weakened team in their penalty shootout victory over Watford at the Stadium MK in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday.

Tottenham made a number of changes against Watford, having already been beaten by them this season. Spurs were hopeful the return of Wanyama and Sissoko would solidify the midfield after their absences. The ever so common rotation of full backs also occurred, seeing Aurier and Davies returning to the starting line-up.

To everyone’s delight Harry Kane was rested, alongside Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen who did not even feature in the match day squad. The England captain has clearly been struggling with fatigue after a long summer at the World Cup, so hopefully this break will bring new life into the Spurs striker who has been unable to find the back of the net like he usually does. Read More

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Roma vs Lazio Serie A Preview

Roma vs Lazio Preview: Get set for a cracking Derby della Capitale

As rivalries go, there are few bigger ones than the Derby della Capitale.

Arguably the fiercest city derby in the country, the Rome derby is also one of the most hotly contested matches in Europe.

Until a couple of days ago it seemed the first meeting between Rome’s greatest sides – Roma and Lazio – would be a one-sided affair with Roma struggling to hit top gear and Lazio going on a full-throttle stretch, but the midweek Serie A round set the tone right for Saturday’s encounter.

Win-less since the opening day of the season and their 1-0 victory at Torino, Giallorossi lost three matches – including the Champions League opener at Santiago Bernabeu – and were held to a frustrating 2-2 stalemate against Chievo. With an axe hanging over manager Eusebio Di Francesco’s neck, Roma needed an instant response and that’s exactly what their fans got. Read More

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Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid La Liga Preview

Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid: Can Los Blancos bounce back?

After the first five games of this season an increasingly bullish mood had seemingly taken hold at Real Madrid as they began to believe they were successfully emerging in to the post-Ronaldo era. But that all dissolved over 90 traumatic minutes on Wednesday night as they were comprehensively beaten 3-0 by Sevilla.

Real had managed to largely banish talk about their former number seven with four wins and a draw, which had left them sitting at the summit of La Liga level on points with Barcelona. But on closer inspection, Real had benefited from an accommodating fixture list that presented them with the modest opposition of Getafe, Girona, Leganes, Athletic Bilbao and Espanyol.

And as soon as they faced a credible opponent in fourth-placed Sevilla they looked bereft of ideas and were overwhelmed in the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Real will only be able to truly declare they have moved on from Ronaldo’s reign when they have negotiated their way past stronger opposition, and they will get another chance when they face city rivals Atletico at the Bernabeu on Saturday evening. Read More

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Chelsea vs Liverpool Premier League Preview

Chelsea vs Liverpool Preview: Are the Reds deservedly favourites?

Chelsea vs Liverpool sees two of the top three clash at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening. Except for a goalless draw at the London Stadium last weekend, both sides have won all six of their league games this season. It’s an intriguing clash between two top teams, and difficult to call.

Unless you’re a bookmaker. They have Liverpool as favourites which, when looking at league results in matches between the big six since August 2016, seems like a surprising position. In that period, Chelsea have only lost three of their 11 games at home, and the Reds have only won the same number on the road.

The margin isn’t huge, and depends on your bookie of choice, but the general prediction seems to be around a 33 percent chance of a Chelsea win, 40 percent for Liverpool, and 27 percent the draw. All three outcomes have a relatively close likelihood of occurring, but is it right that the visitors have the edge? Read More

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Juventus vs Napoli Serie A Preview

Juventus vs Napoli Preview: Tactical conundrums for top two

As Serie A drew to a close last season, fans of Italian football were treated to something of a rarity: a title challenge that went to the wire. Having beaten Juventus at the Allianz Stadium in Gameweek 34, Napoli found themselves one point off the top of the table with four games to go. In their next two games, though, they failed to beat Fiorentina and Torino, whimpering to a second-place finish five points behind I Bianconeri who picked up a seventh consecutive scudetto.

With the new season six games old, there is already a sense of déjà vu at the top table of Italian football. Juventus find themselves three points clear of Napoli at the top of Serie A as they head into their clash on Saturday. According to FiveThirtyEight’s predictive model, Juventus have a 63% chance of ending up at the top of Serie A come the end of the season, a figure that dwarves the 21% ascribed to their next closest challenger, Napoli. However the championship plays out this year, you can almost be certain that one of these two teams will be declared the winners by the time May swings around. Read More

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Arsenal vs Watford Premier League Preview

Arsenal vs Watford Preview: Can the Hornets defence stop the Gunners?

This Saturday’s match-up is an unexpected top of the table clash. Arsenal have put together a run of four wins, moving from the bottom of the table up to a tie for fifth behind… their opponent this Saturday, Watford. Most people would have expected Arsenal to be near the top but Watford being among the top four is the big surprise from the early results.

Watford:

Watford have put together a legitimately good defence this season.

They are over performing their expected goals (‘xG’) this season but still have excellent statistics to suggest this could continue and isn’t just down to a hot goal keeper keeping out goals. They are allowing just 9.8 shots per match (fourth fewest in the league), 1.5 big chances per match (seventh fewest) and 4.7 shots from the danger zone per match (sixth fewest). Read More

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West Ham vs Manchester United Premier League Preview

West Ham vs Manchester United: Was Pogba right to attack Jose’s tactics?

It’s been a rough week for Manchester United. The building momentum I wrote about last time collapsed in the next 90 minutes of Premier League football. In between, José Mourinho’s men made a positive start to the Champions League season against Young Boys, but their domestic winning run came to a frustrating end with the 1-1 draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Not once, but many times throughout the pre-season Mourinho pointed out this could be a difficult season for his team. It seems he was right. The Wolves draw was followed by an unexpected exit from the Carabao Cup as Frank Lampard’s Derby County won at Old Trafford on penalties. But that’s not the only problem United are facing at the moment. The most recent one is Paul Pogba losing his captaincy due to negative comments about the team’s tactics. Read More

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Manchester City vs Brighton

Manchester City vs Brighton: How well has Bernardo replaced De Bruyne?

Six weeks in to the Premier League and Manchester City keep chugging along nicely. After the disappointing loss to Lyon in the Champions League, City responded in fine style against Cardiff and Oxford with eight goals scored in total and none conceded.

What’s perhaps been the most impressive element of City’s start to the season is that it comes without Kevin De Bruyne running the entire midfield. Last year, De Bruyne had the highest usage rate (the percentage of a team’s possessions in which a given player has the final action) of any City player by a wide margin, and he also rated as Twelve’s top attacker.

One of the key questions when he went down through injury was who would take on the offensive burden he carried last season. In order to measure that, below is a table showing each player’s usage rate so far this season compared with their record last season (for players with a minimum of 270 minutes in both campaigns): Read More

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