ANALYSIS: Magpies ill-starred as Spurs counterpress stalls on the startline

Alan O’Brien 

Rafa Benítez may be right when he says that “everything is wrong” off the pitch at St James’s Park. On it, however, the Spaniard continues to work wonders. Newcastle United coped with Mauricio Pochettino’s counterpress better than most sides will this season. Foiled twice by the woodwork, the Magpies were ultimately unlucky to emerge empty-handed. Continue reading

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ANALYSIS: Samurai set-piece nightmare spares Belgian blushes

Alan O’Brien 

On a thrilling night in Rostov, Japan’s traditional dead-ball frailty ultimately proved the Samurai Blue’s undoing. But let not Belgium’s thrilling turnaround paper over the yawning cracks in the Red Devils ranks. Doubts have long lingered about Roberto Martinez’s system; specifically its ability to withstand top-class attacks. And those doubts were confirmed here in spades, despite Belgium’s eventual progression. Continue reading