Sportige http://sportige.com The Sports Know-It-All Sat, 25 Oct 2014 19:03:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Match Highlights – Real Madrid vs Barcelona http://sportige.com/match-highlights-real-madrid-vs-barcelona-10-25-2014/ http://sportige.com/match-highlights-real-madrid-vs-barcelona-10-25-2014/#comments Sat, 25 Oct 2014 17:54:23 +0000 http://sportige.com/?p=69929 More ]]> Real Madrid beat Barcelona1 e1414259154265 Match Highlights   Real Madrid vs Barcelona

The speed and tactics of Real Madrid were too much for Barcelona in the first Clasico of the season, as an early Neymar goal wasn’t enough for the visitors, eventually losing 3-1 with a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty followed by goals from Karim Benzema and Pepe in a dominant performance from the European champions.

Barcelona are still on top of the league, one point ahead of Real Madrid, but their early advantage, in the match and in the La Liga, has now been pretty much erased. Starting with Luis Suarez in the lineup was an interesting decision, but it also meant a formation that the team isn’t used to playing in. One great pass from him to Neymar resulted in the fourth minute goal, but after missing out on a few good opportunities while Real Madrid were still finding it difficult to handle the three-headed attack, the home side took over the match.

The first goal came from the penalty spot, as Cristiano Ronaldo reached 16 goals in eight league matches this season. Gerard Pique with an awful performance handled the ball with his hand while trying to block a pass from Marcelo, resulting in the spot kick. Claudio Bravo has been perfect this season, not conceding a single goal, but Ronaldo’s finish was just the first of more to come.

The Barcelona midfield struggled against the pressure from Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Isco and Marcelo who kept leaving his position in order to help out. It worked very well for Real Madrid, constantly troubling a slow Barcelona defense and midfield with counter attacks. A corner kick taken by Kroos in the 50th minute landed on Pepe’s head to make it 2-1, after the Portuguese defender played badly through the first half of the match.

A terrible mistake by Andres Iniesta in the 61st minute, right after Xavi left for Ivan Rakitic, resulted in the third goal for Real Madrid, scored by Karim Benzema. Barcelona looked a bit better in the final 30 minutes, but Real Madrid were the more dangerous team, and if it wasn’t for inaccurate touches from Ronaldo and Marcelo near the penalty box, this could have been a rather embarrassing result for the league leaders.

It’s not as if Iker Casillas wasn’t tested, but he was the less busy of the two goalkeepers. Neymar stopped playing after his goal and Lionel Messi played too far away from the danger area most of the time. Barcelona will probably look better once Suarez settles in but for now, despite not leading the league, Real Madrid are the best team in Spain and probably Europe.

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Premier League – Week 9 Results & Table http://sportige.com/premier-league-week-9-results-table-10-25-2014/ http://sportige.com/premier-league-week-9-results-table-10-25-2014/#comments Sat, 25 Oct 2014 16:30:25 +0000 http://sportige.com/?p=69916 More ]]> West Ham Premier League   Week 9 Results & Table

Despite not playing, the big winners of the day were Chelsea, seeing Manchester City, formerly in second place, lose 2-1 at West Ham. Liverpool carry on with their string of poor performances and disappointing results, drawing at home with Hull, while Arsenal find a scoring and winning touch at Sunderland.

West Ham 2  Manchester City 1: The fantastic season for the Hammers continues with another impressive victory over a “big” club at home. Morgan Almafitano put them in front in the first half and despite pressure from the champions, Diafra Sakho put them two goals up in the 75th minute. David Silva scored one for City in the 77th minute, but while Yaya Toure hit the crossbar twice, he couldn’t beat Adrian when it mattered.

Liverpool 0  Hull City 0: Another disappointing day for Liverpool, leaving frustrated for not being able to capitalize on chances and possession in the second half against a Hull team that didn’t try to score but neither defended very well under pressure. Lack of accuracy and a great day between the posts for Eldin Jakupovic kept it a goalless draw.

Southampton 1  Stoke 0: After thrashing Sunderland, Southampton carry on with their fantastic start to the season, moving up to second place, as a Sadio Mane goal in the first half was enough to keep them undefeated at home and being the closest team to Chelsea right now.

Sunderland 0  Arsenal 2: Not a very good day for Arsenal, but that’s nothing new. The difference was the efficiency and the clinical finishing from their best player, Alexis Sanchez, with a brace.

West Brom 2  Crystal Palace 2: Two first half goals for Crystal Palace in the first half weren’t enough for the visitors to hang on to a win, as Victor Anichebe and a late penalty from Saido Berahino gave the Baggies at least one point. Brede Hangeland and Mile Jedinak scored for Palace.

Swansea 2  Leicester 0: The excellent form of Wilfried Bony and his teammates continues with a comfortable 2-0 win over the worst away team in the Premier League. It’s now four goals in three matches for the Ivorian striker.

#
Team
GP
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
PTS
1
Chelsea
8
7
1
0
23
8
15
22
2
Southampton
9
6
1
2
20
5
15
19
3
Man City
9
5
2
2
19
10
9
17
4
West Ham
9
5
1
3
17
12
5
16
5
Arsenal
9
3
5
1
15
11
4
14
6
Swansea City
9
4
2
3
13
10
3
14
7
Liverpool
9
4
2
3
13
12
1
14
8
Man United
8
3
3
2
15
12
3
12
9
Hull City
9
2
5
2
13
13
0
11
10
Tottenham
8
3
2
3
10
11
-1
11
11
Stoke City
9
3
2
4
8
10
-2
11
12
West Brom
9
2
4
3
12
13
-1
10
13
Aston Villa
8
3
1
4
4
12
-8
10
14
Everton
8
2
3
3
16
16
0
9
15
Crystal Palace
9
2
3
4
13
16
-3
9
16
Leicester City
9
2
3
4
11
15
-4
9
17
Sunderland
9
1
5
3
8
17
-9
8
18
Newcastle
8
1
4
3
8
14
-6
7
19
Burnley FC
8
0
4
4
4
13
-9
4
20
QPR
8
1
1
6
6
18
-12
4
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e
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Match Highlights – Liverpool vs Hull, Sunderland vs Arsenal http://sportige.com/match-highlights-liverpool-vs-hull-sunderland-vs-arsenal-10-25-2014/ http://sportige.com/match-highlights-liverpool-vs-hull-sunderland-vs-arsenal-10-25-2014/#comments Sat, 25 Oct 2014 16:02:33 +0000 http://sportige.com/?p=69920 More ]]> Arsenal beat Sunderland e1414252928124 Match Highlights   Liverpool vs Hull, Sunderland vs Arsenal

Two goals from Alexis Sanchez helped out Arsenal find a hard earned victory against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, walking away with the 2-0 win, while another frustrating day for Mario Balotelli was part of another disappointing home match for Liverpool, finishing in a 0-0 draw with Hull City.

It’s only the third league win this season for the Gunners, but with the entire table so close and tight, each victory makes you rise at least three or four spots at a time. After the win, with two close range goals from Sanchez, undoubtedly the team’s best player so far this season, Arsenal rise to fifth in the Premier League, overcoming another day in which they weren’t the better team on the pitch for most of the afternoon.

Sunderland can feel slightly hard done by, testing Wojciech Szczesny five times and taking an overall of 13 shots at goal. Jozy Altidore, John O’Shea and especially Jack Rodwell found themselves quite often with comfortable situations inside the penalty box, but their scoring struggles this season (8 goals in 9 matches) continue, suffering their first home defeat.

For Liverpool, only one point, which makes it the third home match out of five so far this season without a win. Mario Balotelli took plenty of shots and wasn’t so bad or off the mark, but an excellent day at goal for Eldin Jakupovic once again signaled out how difficult it is for the Reds without Luis Suarez this season.

The first half football was some of the poorest we’ve seen from any team this season, but bringing on Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson in the second half worked wonders for Liverpool. Still, without Daniel Sturridge or anyone consistent when it comes to scoring, all that possession and keeping the ball around the box had no meaning.

The ability remains disappointing, the finishing remains abysmal. For some reason, it seems Brendan Rodgers keeps starting with the wrong lineups only to understand what’s wrong later on in the match. It’s still enough to be better than most of the league and remain in the hunt for the top 4, but with every match that goes by and no progress is shown, it’s becoming more and more evident that this season might not be filled with happy moments.

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Los Angeles Lakers – Jeremy Lin With His Best of the Preseason http://sportige.com/los-angeles-lakers-jeremy-lin-with-his-best-of-the-preseason-10-25-2014/ http://sportige.com/los-angeles-lakers-jeremy-lin-with-his-best-of-the-preseason-10-25-2014/#comments Sat, 25 Oct 2014 13:15:12 +0000 http://sportige.com/?p=69912 More ]]>  Los Angeles Lakers   Jeremy Lin With His Best of the Preseason

The Los Angeles Lakers lost (again), playing their last preseason game, 92-93 to the Sacramento Kings. Jeremy Lin once again came off the bench, and was the best player on the court excluding DeMarcus Cousins. Unless Kobe Bryant tries to steal the show too much during the season, Lin is likely to have more games like this very soon.

Lin finished with 19 points and 7 assists on 6-of-12 from the field and 5-of-6 from the line as he once again found himself with five personal fouls. Maybe it’s just the preseason, always filled with too many free throw shots and easy fouls getting called by officials. We’ll see once the regular season begins (the Lakers open on October 28 against the Rockets, which is something of a revenge game for Lin and also for Bryant, who can’t stand the sight of Dwight Howard) if it’s actually an issue.

DeMarcus Cousins led all scorers with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists. Maybe he’s already the best center in the NBA, but Cousins is looking forward to putting an official stamp on that label this season. It wasn’t too difficult against Robert Sacre and sometimes Julius Randle, as the Lakers also started with Ronnie Price (again), Ed Davis, Wesley Johnson and Wayne Ellington.

Price played only 3 minutes before leaving with a sore knee. Right now it just seems like a precaution for a team that lost Steve Nash for the entire season (not such a bad thing) but when the only other point guard aside for Lin is Jordan Clarkson, until the Lakers make a move with the probably injury exception they’re going to get for Nash (worth around $4.8 million), they need to be very careful.

So why is Lin still on the bench? Because Byron Scott is too worried about the second unit being awful. Regardless of who is the point guard, Kobe Bryant will be handling the ball most of the time when he’s on the floor. This calls for an off-the-ball kind of small guard to partner up with him. Price isn’t that type of player, and neither is Lin. But it’s funny that Price, a guy with career numbers of 3.4 points in 11.7 minutes a night over the last nine season is getting the nod in favor of Lin.

The two most important things is playing time and the role Lin gets. If he starts off the bench but plays 35 minutes a night, it doesn’t really matter, because it’ll mean he’s on the floor during the closing moments of games, where Lin usually excels. But that can only happen if Kobe Bryant allows it to. Like every other Lakers team since Phil Jackson left, the head coach is second in command when trying to run an offense and defense. Bryant can drag this team down not just with his massive, overpaying contract, but by also being the guy he has been too many times – someone who only wants to win if he’s the leading man, willing to ignore what’s best for the team, which a lot of times will be putting the ball in Lin’s hands and let him make the decision.

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Chicago Bulls – Can Win the NBA Championship, But Will They? http://sportige.com/chicago-bulls-can-win-the-nba-championship-but-will-they-10-25-2014/ http://sportige.com/chicago-bulls-can-win-the-nba-championship-but-will-they-10-25-2014/#comments Sat, 25 Oct 2014 12:45:49 +0000 http://sportige.com/?p=69907 More ]]> Derrick Rose1 e1414232147749 Chicago Bulls   Can Win the NBA Championship, But Will They?

The Chicago Bulls aren’t giving up on building a championship team around Derrick Rose. The addition of Pau Gasol to the improving Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler make for the best supporting cast assembled around the former MVP since he won the award. Now all that’s left is actually staying healthy and carrying on his preseason form into the NBA’s regular season.

When Derrick Rose was drafted in 2008, the wheels were set in motion to turn the Chicago Bulls into one of the best teams in the NBA again, a title contender. The plan worked fine and in 2010-2011, the Bulls finished with the best record in the league, losing to the Miami Heat in the conference finals after five games. Rose was the MVP, it was the Bulls first conference finals since 1998, and the future looked bright.

Next season, despite Rose playing just 39 of 66 games, the Bulls finished with the best record in the league (tied with the Spurs). When Rose was healthy, and going into the 2012 postseason he did, the Bulls, statistically, were the best team in the NBA that regular season, only with vital experience they gained the previous season. They had no problem beating the 76ers in that first game of the series. But then Rose got injured, and the downward spiral began.

Chicago Bulls e1414232247313 Chicago Bulls   Can Win the NBA Championship, But Will They?

Unlike other teams that crash and burn without their star player, the Bulls did reasonably well. They got knocked out by the Sixers in that first round, but a year later they beat the Brooklyn Nets in seven games and gave the Miami Heat a lot of problems in the conference semifinals. Last season began with hope when Rose started the season, but after 10 games he tore his meniscus, and it was back to square one – shuffling and trying to make the most of a bad situation. Excellent defense and occasional smart offense was enough to put them in the playoffs, but not past the first round.

So what’s new this season? Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng (traded in the middle of last season) are gone from that core that was supposed to win a championship. Mike Dunleavy, a useful but very limited small forward remains in the projected lineup. Joakim Noah, who had a breakout season in terms of his ability as a passer and point-center last season, might have a slow start because of an offseason injury. Aaron Brooks will be playing the part of D.J. Augustin as the backup the Bulls need desperately in case Rose breaks down again.

Jimmy Butler is back, but he might be a different player than last season. No turf toe injury to slow him down, Butler looked great in the preseason – as a shooter, defender and overall explosive offensive player that’s going to be trying his best not just for the sake of his team, but also for his upcoming contract extension, always an excellent incentive to play a lot better than before.

Tom Thibodeau e1414232292553 Chicago Bulls   Can Win the NBA Championship, But Will They?

Pau Gasol should be an improvement to Boozer, even though he is on the decline. Having Noah next to him means he doesn’t have to be too much of a focus on defense. He can stretch the floor a bit, is an excellent passer and probably won’t be the kind of player that is taken off the floor in crunch time like Boozer was. That might be a problem for Taj Gibson, but Thibodeau will find minutes for the guy who should have been starting for the Bulls at power forward last season.

Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott are the rookies who push Tony Snell down the rotation. Mirotic is a stretch four but he might be used as a small forward at times. The Bulls have options of putting on a deadly 3-point shooting lineup and also very big lineups with these players. Thibodeau isn’t exactly an offensive expert, but he has gotten better at making the most of an improved roster, although it might cause him some problems in making defensive adjustments

And then there’s Derrick Rose. For a moment, the best point guard in the NBA. The best player? Probably not, but this season – the championship hopes, hinge on him not just staying healthy, but playing like he has in the last two preseason games. A limited, rusty, badly shooting Rose is still an upgrade than not having him at all because of the attention he takes up on offense, and yet without Rose being an excellent point guard, it’s hard seeing the Bulls having enough to overtake the Cavaliers in the East.

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Oregon Ducks – Marcus Mariota Not Giving Up on the Heisman Trophy http://sportige.com/oregon-ducks-marcus-mariota-not-giving-up-on-the-heisman-trophy-10-25-2014/ http://sportige.com/oregon-ducks-marcus-mariota-not-giving-up-on-the-heisman-trophy-10-25-2014/#comments Sat, 25 Oct 2014 12:45:16 +0000 http://sportige.com/?p=69901 More ]]> Oregon beat California Oregon Ducks   Marcus Mariota Not Giving Up on the Heisman Trophy

Playing in what definitely will be his final season in College Football, Marcus Mariota wants it all: Leading Oregon into the playoffs and maybe winning a national championship, and also putting himself in a better position to win the Heisman Trohpy, with his chances greatly improved after a record breaking performance in a 59-41 victory on the road against California.

After already slipping at home against Arizona, the Ducks can’t take anything for granted anymore, even on the road against a team that has given up at least 30 points in what is now 18 consecutive conference games. The Golden Bears did put up a fight and even held the lead twice in the first quarter, but they gave up 28 points in the second quarter, something that it is impossible to come back from against a team vastly superior in almost every way.

Mariota became the all-time leader for the school when it comes to passing yards and finished the game with 18-of-30 for 326 yards with five touchdown passes and an interception. He has also now thrown a touchdown pass in 34 consecutive games, five behind the record of 39 games, held by Rakeem Cato of Marshall, who doesn’t look like he’s going to be slowed down any time soon considering how weak the schedule is for the Thundering Herd.

Mariota didn’t need to do a lot of running, finishing with six carries for 36 yards, while Royce Freeman got 112 yards and two touchdowns to lead a rushing attack with 264 yards in the game. Oregon have now scored more than 40 points in three consecutive games, and have topped 40 on six of their eight games this season, including against the ranked Michigan State and UCLA (at the time they were ranked).

What might be a bit more worrying is their defense, giving up 25.9 points per game, and over 30 points in four of their last five games. One might suggest that when you have an offense that puts up 590 yards or more quite regularly points conceded isn’t something to worry about, but Stanford, their next opponent and often a team that has stood in their way of winning the conference over the last two seasons, have the ability to slow Oregon down. There’s also a very difficult road game against Utah down the line, another tricky day for the slickest offense in College Football.

Two Oregon receivers – Byron Marshall and Dwayne Stanford, finished with over 100 receiving yards. Marshall had 133 yards on four receptions and one touchdown; Stanford finished with two scores, catching six passes for 103 yards. Pharaoh Brown caught only two passes, but both of them were for touchdowns.

Mariota is tied for 7th in the nation with 19 touchdown passes this season, but he has yet to throw a single interception this season. He is completing 70.2% of his passes, the best among the top 30 quarterbacks in terms of touchdown passes, and his rating of 191.0 is the best among starting quarterbacks. Right now, Dak Prescott might be ranked a bit higher when it comes to winning the Heisman, but if Oregon win out until it’s time to pick the four teams in the playoffs, that Heisman voting situation might change, especially if Mississippi State don’t stay undefeated forever.

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World Series – Kansas City Royals Getting Closer, San Francisco Giants Losing Grip http://sportige.com/world-series-kansas-city-royals-getting-closer-san-francisco-giants-losing-grip-10-25-2014/ http://sportige.com/world-series-kansas-city-royals-getting-closer-san-francisco-giants-losing-grip-10-25-2014/#comments Sat, 25 Oct 2014 11:45:08 +0000 http://sportige.com/?p=69898 More ]]> Royals beat Giants1 World Series   Kansas City Royals Getting Closer, San Francisco Giants Losing Grip

Home field is meaningless in this World Series, as the Kansas City Royals win 3-2 to pick up a 2-1 lead against the San Francisco Giants with another fantastic performance from the bullpen without having to do too much on offense.

Both teams combined to get only 10 hits on 62 at-bats, with Alcides Escobar being the only player to get two hits, and also end up running over home plate twice in the game. The Giants got another disappointing start from their pitcher, while their hitters who did put them back in the game in the sixth inning couldn’t get anything past the excellent pitching and fielding the Royals brought with them to the bay area.

Tim Hudson in his first ever World Series pitching stint picked up the loss, giving up three runs in 5.2 innings despite allowing only four hits. He struck out just two hitters in his performance and although the bullpen, including Romo and Casilla, that came on after him did a good job, it didn’t really matter when the offense couldn’t generate anything.

It was a very good performance for Jeremy Guthrie for the first five innings before letting two slip by him, as a Michael Morse double followed by Buster Posey grounding out generated two runs for the Giants, who couldn’t handle the performances of Kelvin Herrera, Brandon Finnegan, Wade Davis and Greg Holland, not allowing a single hit. Holland, who also got the save, has now done it seven times in this postseason, tying the all-time record held by a long list of players, most recently done by Koji Uehara of the Red Sox in 2013.

With their win, the Royals are now 10-1 in this postseason. Since the beginning of the Wild Card era, only two teams have won the World Series with just one loss to their name: The Chicago White Sox in 2005 and the New York Yankees in 1999.

The Royals didn’t get their points with big hits as well: A ground out by Lorenzo Cain, an RBI double from Alex Gordon and an RBI single in the next at bat by Eric Hosmer. For all three players these were their first RBIs of the World Series, with Hosmer pulling it off in a 2-out situation. This was the only time the Royals managed to pull through with a runner in scoring position. The Giants were 0-for-3 in that situation.

The keys are in the Royals’ hands now. They have Jason Vargas on the mound next in game 4, playing very well in the ALCS clincher against the Baltimore Orioles. Ryan Vogelsong and not Madison Bumgarner will start for the Giants. Vogelsong has pitched in two wins, but looked terrible on his last performance, lasting only three inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. The Giants still won that game.

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NBA Rumors – Cleveland Cavaliers Starting With Anderson Varejao http://sportige.com/nba-rumors-cleveland-cavaliers-starting-with-anderson-varejao-10-25-2014/ http://sportige.com/nba-rumors-cleveland-cavaliers-starting-with-anderson-varejao-10-25-2014/#comments Sat, 25 Oct 2014 11:15:00 +0000 http://sportige.com/?p=69904 More ]]> Tristan Thompson Anderson Varejao e1414229714180 NBA Rumors   Cleveland Cavaliers Starting With Anderson Varejao

Earlier in the preseason, it was reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to start Tristan Thompson in the lineup while Anderson Varejao comes off the bench. After a few preseason games, things have changed, and the Brazilian center will once again be part of the starting five, probably due to his familiarity with LeBron James.

David Blatt has plenty of experience as a head coach, but only in European basketball. In the NBA or North America for that matter, it is his first season. He’s gotten quite a job to take care of, overseeing LeBron James returning to Cleveland, joining forces with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. Just like Erik Spoelstra felt before he won championships, there will be a lot of pressure on Blatt to make the most of a privileged situation.

The initial thought process was wrapped around the notion that Varejao, who has been injured quite a lot of over the last four seasons, should be kept well rested and not overworked, which means preferably coming off the bench instead of being the starting center who gets the bulk of the minutes. But after a few games and trying a few things out, Blatt has decided that for now, Varejao will be the one starting while Thompson, who can play more than just one position, will be coming off the bench.

That was more or less the idea of beginning with Andy just because those two guys are so good together. And Tristan is equally as efficient in either case. So, that’s more or less the basis, but it doesn’t mean that Tristan won’t be starting some of the games. I’m sure he will be. Just right now, that’s the way we’re looking to go.

Thompson will get plenty of minutes this season, not to worry. We’ll see him next to LeBron James and next to Kevin Love and a number of combination the Cavaliers will try out. There’s also Brendan Haywood who’ll get some minutes off the bench, although he’ll probably will be traded at some point with the Cavaliers trying to use his appealing non-guaranteed portion of the two remaining seasons as a way to entice a trade.

James and Varejao have been teammates for six seasons: From 2004 until 2010, making it to the NBA finals together in 2007. Tristan Thompson joined the Cavaliers in 2011, the 4th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft. He has averaged 10.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game in three seasons with the Cavs, starting in all 164 games over the last two seasons.

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La Liga – Real Madrid vs Barcelona Predictions http://sportige.com/la-liga-real-madrid-vs-barcelona-predictions-10-25-2014/ http://sportige.com/la-liga-real-madrid-vs-barcelona-predictions-10-25-2014/#comments Sat, 25 Oct 2014 07:46:22 +0000 http://sportige.com/?p=69895 More ]]> Real Madrid vs Barcelona e1414223150874 La Liga   Real Madrid vs Barcelona Predictions

The First Clasico of the 2014-2015 season will be played in the Santiago Bernabeu, as Real Madrid, without Gareth Bale but with the Cristiano Ronaldo scoring machine will be hosting Barcelona, as Luis Suarez will play for the first time since the biting incident, possibly making the Lionel Messi – Neymar combination even more unstoppable.

One thing helping Barcelona out heading into this match is knowing they can afford to lose and still remain on top of the league. With 22 points and still no goals conceded, this has been another marvelous start for Barca, even though their most expensive signing over the summer, Luis Suarez, hasn’t been able to play, until now. They’ve scored 22 goals and Claudio Bravo at goal, with a changing defensive makeup in front of him, has yet to concede a single one.

Real Madrid have lost twice in consecutive weeks earlier in the season: Real Sociedad, Atletico Madrid. They come to this match from third, one point behind Sevilla and four behind Barcelona. But their form is scorching in all competitions. Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 15 league goals in 7 matches, half of his team’s frightening production. They’re coming off a 3-0 away from home at Liverpool without playing all that well. Even though they’re not leading the league, it’s hard to think of them as anything but quite frightening at this point.

Will Suarez start? Early reports indicate that he will. It’ll be interesting to see how that changes the dynamics in the Barcelona front three. Neymar has been almost like a real striker this season, drifting a bit to the left, but always playing in front of Messi. Pedro, Mounir El Haddadi and Sandro Ramirez have all been playing the more classic winger position. Suarez can do that, but he is so versatile it allows Barcelona to switch between him and Neymar or even Messi, although Messi is at his best so far this year when playing in a slightly retreated role.

The defense situation might be more interesting. Will Gerard Pique start next to Jeremy Mathieu? Or will it be Javier Mascherano? Both options aren’t ideal, but Pique is in the poorer form and Mascherano, despite not being and never will be a centre back, has turned in better performances this season. There is always Marc Bartra, the quicker of the trio, but I’m not quite sure he’s trusted to start in such a match. Pique might get the nod due to his height, and Real Madrid’s ability in the air.

Without Gareth Bale, this means Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Isco and James Rodriguez will be the front four while Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are playing behind them in the midfield. Isco and Rodriguez will be dropping back a lot in an attempt to create more balance in the midfield, although this Barcelona team isn’t so insistent on dominating possession above all else. Ivan Rakitic is a bit more pragmatic than Xavi, and he’ll likely get the start over the aging Spanish legend.

One issue for Real Madrid has been handling set pieces, but that’s not Barcelona’s strong suit anyway. Without Bale and with injuries to Jese, Sergio Ramos and Fabio Coentrao, their options off the bench are limited, which means Carlo Ancelotti needs his first eleven to avoid any trouble. Early goal and typical blitzes are what they’ll be striving for, because his ability to make changes to try and influence the match is limited.

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Manchester United Afraid of Being Crushed by Chelsea http://sportige.com/manchester-united-afraid-of-being-crushed-by-chelsea-10-24-2014/ http://sportige.com/manchester-united-afraid-of-being-crushed-by-chelsea-10-24-2014/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:52:04 +0000 http://sportige.com/?p=69891 More ]]> Jose Mourinho Louis van Gaal e1414156899280 Manchester United Afraid of Being Crushed by Chelsea

You’re only as good as your last (fill in the blank). Manchester United built an empire through the long and successful tenure of Alex Ferguson. Now? All that’s left is the financial success, as the media are portraying the mood within the club before their Chelsea encounter this Sunday as a group that’s awaiting an unavoidable disaster.

Chelsea lead the Premier League with 22 points from the first eight matches, only dropping two in a draw at Manchester City. They have a five point lead over second place, but are 10 points ahead of Manchester United, currently in sixth place with three wins from the first eight matches and still no victory away from home.

Luckily for them it’s a home match against a Blues side with a manager that doesn’t like to take risks on away matches against teams with a dangerous attacking side. There are a lot of troubles and weaknesses on this Manchester United team, but finding the net and creating chances isn’t one of them.

But the question might be if Chelsea even regard Manchester United as a big club? When Chelsea played at the Etihad against Manchester City, they came quite close to parking the bus for 90 minutes. Last season Jose Mourinho didn’t even use a striker in his lineup for his Old Trafford visit, ending in a 0-0 draw.

Even though Louis van Gaal is in charge now and not David Moyes, it feels like Manchester United are even more vulnerable and primed for the taking. Diego Costa might not be playing, but Mourinho has made those claims before. Nothing that comes out of his mouth is trustworthy if you’re counting on him telling the media the true injury status for some of his players.

There’s no mention of Manchester United possibly finding themselves back in the championship race. Nothing about showing how big and good this club & team are at this point. Only about avoiding a humiliating defeat and maybe poaching this match somehow. How the mighty have fallen.

No longer the biggest match in the Premier League, Manchester United don’t have any right to complain about Chelsea’s spending, especially after the amounts of money thrown by the Red Devils at new players over the last 14 months. How quickly it’s turned into what on the outside looks like a one-sided rivalry, with Manchester United possibly happy to walk away from a home match with a draw.

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