Posts Tagged ‘Rafael Benitez’

Report: Chelsea overcome Basel to reach Europa final

“LONDON — Chelsea reached the Europa League final for the first time in their history after surviving a first-half scare to defeat Swiss champions FC Basel 3-1 in the second leg of their semi-final on Thursday.”

My AFP match report from Stamford Bridge can be read here.

Report: City hold on to end Chelsea’s FA Cup defence

“LONDON — Manchester City withstood a valiant fightback from Chelsea to win a gripping FA Cup semi-final 2-1 at Wembley Stadium on Sunday and knock the holders out of the competition.”

My AFP match report on Manchester City’s engaging win over Chelsea at Wembley can be read here. You can also read my report on the first semi-final, and the shocking violence that scarred it, here.

Report: Chelsea roar back to defy United in FA Cup

“MANCHESTER, United Kingdom — Holders Chelsea stormed back from two goals down to draw 2-2 against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday and take their FA Cup quarter-final to a replay.”

My AFP match report on Chelsea’s cup fightback at Manchester United can be read here.

Report: Walters gifts put Chelsea third after Spurs falter

“LONDON — Jon Walters scored an unfortunate brace of headed own goals and missed a late penalty as Chelsea won 4-0 at Stoke City to reclaim third place in the Premier League on Saturday.”

My AFP round-up of Saturday’s Premier League matches can be read here.

Reaction: Benitez takes heart despite early Chelsea exit

“LONDON — Chelsea interim coach Rafael Benitez did his best to focus on the positives after the holders went out of the Champions League at the group phase despite thrashing FC Nordsjaelland.”

My AFP reaction piece from Stamford Bridge can be read here. You can read my match report here and there’s an analysis piece on what the short-term future holds for Chelsea here: Chelsea failure leaves little room for manoeuvre.

Analysis: Benitez tiptoes onto Chelsea tightrope

“The spine of the side — Petr Čech, John Terry, Frank Lampard — remains largely intact from the team that [José] Mourinho built, and [André] Villas-Boas paid the price for his clumsy attempts to ease players like Lampard out of the picture. [Roberto] Di Matteo galvanised the old guard for one last hurrah and took them to Champions League glory, before he, too, sought to shake up an ageing squad packed with domineering figures. The young attacking triumvirate of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar thrilled as Chelsea stormed four points clear in the Premier League, but they were unable to arrest the slump that ultimately cost Di Matteo his job. The quandary facing Benitez is that the Mourinho-era core has still not been replaced.”

I’ve written a piece for AFP on the challenges facing Chelsea’s new interim coach, Rafael Benitez, and you can read it here.

And here’s my match report on the 1-1 draw with Real Madrid that saw Manchester City eliminated from the Champions League: Real Madrid send Man City to another early exit.

Tactics: What’s wrong with Alberto Aquilani?

When Xabi Alonso left Liverpool for Real Madrid last summer, Alberto Aquilani was swiftly brought in from Roma as an ostensible replacement. It was by no means a like-for-like exchange – Aquilani typically played further forward in Italy, poses more of a direct goal threat and cannot quite match Alonso’s superb passing range – but it is worth remembering that Alonso himself was a more attacking player when he arrived at Anfield from Real Sociedad in 2004 and the expectation was that Aquilani would be groomed to succeed him in the deep-lying midfield regista role.

“He is a fantastic player on the ball, very technical,” said Aquilani’s former team-mate and one-time Liverpool man John Arne Riise. “He is different to Alonso but he is the sort of player who can break teams down. He is a very good passer of the ball; he runs a lot; finds space everywhere and he likes to get in the box to score goals.”

Rafael Benitez, meanwhile, responded to Aquilani’s arrival on Merseyside by hinting that the Italian would be deployed in a more advanced role than Alonso.

“He is a very good player on the ball, and hopefully he can produce the sort of passes that we missed last season,” said the Liverpool coach. “Certainly at home against packed defences when we could only draw important matches.”

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