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Archives for April 2012

Midfield battle key to Manchester derby clash

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Alistair Magowan - BBC Sport | 18:47 UK time, Friday, 27 April 2012

As seismic as it may be for Manchester City to win their first top-flight championship in 44 years, thereby denying their arch rivals Manchester United, both teams will be concentrating first on keeping 11 players on the field when they lock horns on Monday at Etihad Stadium.

Ignoring the Community Shield, previous encounters this season have involved a man being sent off, with Jonny Evans seeing red in City's 6-1 rout at Old Trafford and Vincent Kompany dismissed during United's 3-2 FA Cup victory across town.

Both punishments had an adverse effect on the respective games, although City did stage a fight-back in the second half of the third-round cup tie following their skipper's first-half departure.

So with City three points behind United and needing the win far more than their neighbours, how will managers Roberto Mancini and Sir Alex Ferguson prepare their teams ahead of the potentially historic derby?

Former United midfielder Nicky Butt and ex-City striker Uwe Rosler assess the key contests on the pitch and explain where they think the game will be won and lost.

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Chelsea can prey on Barcelona's weaknesses

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Alistair Magowan - BBC Sport | 17:00 UK time, Monday, 23 April 2012

Chelsea midfielder Ramires was rightly lauded for his display in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona where his determination and energy helped him track right-back Dani Alves.

Their battle on the wing was a key feature of the game as Chelsea attempted to narrow the Catalans' attacking options and funnel them towards the centre of the pitch.

The versatile Brazilian will have an even bigger role in the return leg when Pep Guardiola's team will look to exploit the wider Nou Camp pitch, and it was no surprise Ramires was given a day off for the Premier League draw at Arsenal on Saturday.
Frank Lampard, Raul Meireles, Didier Drogba and Barcelona's Xavi were the only players to cover more ground than Ramires at Stamford Bridge, but he will have to be more disciplined on Tuesday.

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