Tottenham vs Barcelona Champions League Preview

Tottenham vs Barcelona Preview: Whose Ball Is It Anyway?

David Wagner dominated the tactics board on Saturday with his Huddersfield side pressing Tottenham Hotspur into a mess. They limited Eric Dier to a poor performance with 78% pass success rate and Paulo Gazzaniga just 52%.

But it mattered for nothing as Spurs’ individual supremacy shone in the transitional and improvisational moments, giving Tottenham a misleadingly comfortable 2-0 scoreline.

The chance for Tottenham to test their talents against Barcelona is an exciting challenge. The two teams haven’t met in senior competition for decades, but it’s coming at the wrong time for the north Londoners.

Issues in midfield remain unresolved after an event-less transfer window. Post-World-Cup fatigue is hurting a team with no less than nine players in the semi-finals. Spurs are suffering a slow start to the season. Now, just in time, an injury crisis has set in. Dele, Aurier, Eriksen, Lloris, Vertonghen and Dembele are all doubts. Read More

Napoli vs Liverpool Champions League Preview

Napoli vs Liverpool Preview: Resolving Klopp’s Selection Dilemma

Caught in the middle of an extremely difficult run, Liverpool head over to Serie A hotshots Napoli looking to get back to winning ways and restore the momentum after a win-less double against Chelsea.

The 2-1 Carabao Cup elimination at Anfield was followed by a nervy 1-1 draw. Daniel Sturridge neutralized Eden Hazard’s opener with his 50th Premier League goal in a Liverpool shirt, as the Reds failed to record their fourth away win on the bounce.

Stamford Bridge is one of the most difficult grounds to play at in the division, and with Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea looking like one of the strongest sides in the Premier League, Liverpool should be applauded for the way they replied after going down.

Saturday’s trip to west London was an overall positive affair for Liverpool supporters who saw a team never ready to give up. Twelve’s effective time possession chart tells us that the Reds finished the game with 55% possession to their name as opposed to Chelsea’s 42% which is a fine indicator of Liverpool’s desire and drive. Read More

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

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

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

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

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

Valencia vs Juventus Champions League Preview

Valencia vs Juventus Preview: Ketchup for Ronaldo’s return?

“Goals are like ketchup: all comes out at once”. If Cristiano Ronaldo applies the analogy that he launched back in 2010, after ten games without scoring for Portugal, then Valencia have reasons to be worried.

Cristiano finally scored for Juventus, against Sassuolo (as Massimo Allegri had predicted), and in a double dose. The Portuguese star overthrew the psychological barrier, and just three days before his return to Spain. Definitely not good news for Valencia, against whom Ronaldo has already scored fifteen goals, with eight of them at Mestalla.

Ironically, it’s in Spain, where Cristiano Ronaldo lived for the last nine years, that begins this European journey of a “vecchia signora” with renewed ambition with the arrival of the Portuguese. “If you can’t beat him, sign him” must have been the idea of the Italian leaders, who advanced for the most popular transfer of the summer. Juventus don’t want only internal hegemony and looked for the missing piece to regain European glory. Read More

Barcelona vs PSV Eindhoven Champions League preview

Barcelona vs PSV Preview: Are Barca Champions League favourites?

Football’s premier club competition the Champions League kicks off for the season this week, and FC Barcelona’s search for a first title win since 2015 begins at home against PSV Eindhoven.

Ernesto Valverde’s men have been drawn in a relatively difficult Group B alongside Tottenham Hotspur of England, Inter of Italy and PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands. The first test for the Catalan club is arguably the easiest of the three opponents with PSV having qualified for the tournament by defeating BATE Borisov 6-2 on aggregate over the two legs.

Lionel Messi’s main focus this season appears to be the Champions League and he has made it abundantly clear that he would very much like to win it this year. Addressing the fans at the Camp Nou at the beginning of the season, here’s what the little magician had to say: Read More