— Goal (@goal_intl) December 9, 2011
Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League game day has delivered some big surprises. England’s top contenders, Manchester United and Manchester City, both got the boot. While City’s failure to reach the knock-out stages was almost sealed on game day five, United’s loss at FC Basel came as “the hammer” of the group stages. Under-performing during the entire campaign, it came down to the last game and a single point was needed out of the game against Basel. While in soccer everything is possible, it was hard to believe United will not gather that one single point out of a “one-game-competition” against the Swiss. Continue reading
Bad day for English soccer and both Manchester clubs. United lost to FC Basel in a dramatic game and Manchester City won their game at home 2-0 against the Bayern Munich reserve, but Napoli didn’t play and beat Villareal 2-0 as well.
Both, United and City, will now continue their campaigns in the Europa League. The two top Premier League teams not making it out of the group stages in the Champions League surprised soccer experts world wide.
Today and tomorrow it counts for the Barclay’s English Premier League clubs. Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City are fighting for survival in the UEFA Champions League. While Manchester United and Chelsea can advance on their own, City is not so fortunate. City’s fortune is depending on Villareal and their mood. The Spanish must deliver a point in the game against Napoli and City win their game against Bayern Munich. Bayern Munich is traveling to Manchester as the group winner and is not very concerned about the outcome of this trip. There lies City’s chance for a win. The rest will be praying… Continue reading
The Champions League final hype is in full gear. Not only in England and Spain, the entire world’s view is aimed to London where Manchester United and Barca face off on Saturday. In England, the pot is about to boil over these days. As always, the British press is looking for ways to live up to their name as the biggest enemy of the English soccer teams before any important competition. This time, naturally, the target is Sir Alex’s Manchester United squad.
Without going into the details of the case again, it has been reported all over the place, the target in the team is Ryan Giggs. Read here about the details. While everyone is allowed to have an opinion about Ryan Giggs and his actions, it is stuff that should not be beaten to death in the press the way the British press does. Especially since the case doesn’t indicate any criminal act on Giggs’ side. The media outlets that have jumped on this story should be ashamed of themselves and their poor reasons and motivations for this kind of reporting. The public interest card they play is absolutely ridiculous and has no base.
For someone that is just looking to see a real exciting soccer match, “the game” that is played this week is absolutely not necessary and disappointing. The Spanish must be rolling on the floor and laughing about this form of British cannibalism.
Soccer is a game of mind and body, if your mind is somewhere else, you will have a hard time to perform on the field. Manchester United, last week, was my favorite for this final. With all the stuff boiling up this week, that view has changed. There is no way that United’s players can perform as they should, in order to win the game on Saturday.
Manchester United has everything to beat Barca in the final on Saturday. Great players, on all positions, an excellent coach that knows the details of the game, a winning mentality and a run that creates positive momentum you need to go into a game like this one. That Barca is still the favorite for the most is helping the cause as well. In a one game decision, this takes a lot of pressure away and in turn puts a lot of pressure on Barca. The longer the game goes on without a Barca goal, the better the chances for United will be. For Sir Alex and his team it is now important that they can overcome all the nonsense that the press has created and focus on the game. The advice for the British press, focus on the game as well. That’s were the public interest is. If you don’t know how to write about soccer, contact me. I will tell you about the game and what it means.
On Tuesday we will finally find out who is the winner of “The Battle of Spain”. After almost three weeks of waiting and watching some passionate soccer, and everything around it, the World will sleep again. Well, for the most, the battle is already over. Indeed, it doesn’t look good for Real Madrid, Jose Mourinho, Cristiano Ronaldo and team mates. While at the beginning of the series Real did well, the win of the Copa del Rey could now turn into “the win of the golden pineapple”.
What happened? The momentum, after the Copa del Rey final on Real’s side, has shifted. After Barca’s win in the first leg at Real, just a few believe Real still has a chance. Even “the special one”, Jose Mourinho, admitted that it looks impossible to turn this around. Moral is miserable, as the last league game on Saturday showed. Real losing at home against Zaragoza. Not that Barca did any better, they lost their league game as well, but they can afford it with an eight point lead. Plus, they played after Real already lost, so it is easy for them to excuse themselves for the loss. Conserve power for the second leg is a good excuse in this case.
A lot happened over the past three weeks. The two clubs really brushed each other up, on the field, as well as off the field. So much, that the Spanish national coach, del Bosque, complained about all the El Clasico’s. He is afraid that the outcome and all the fights on and off the field will impair moral in the Spanish national team. It might. Some of the fight’s on the field were so full of passion, that it is hard to believe that these players can be best friends again comes Wednesday morning.
Writing off Real? I warn from doing so. Can you imagine that Cristiano Ronaldo scores two or even three goals in one game? I can, it wouldn’t be the first time. I can also imagine that Iker Casillas has an amazing game and drives Lionel Messi & Co. crazy. Yes, no Sergio Ramos, no Pepe. Khedira is injured and out as well. Almost the entire defense is out for this important game. Well, there are still a few guys that can mix some concrete there, in the Real defense. Albiol and Carvalho for example might be nice guys off the field, on the field you need to get around them first. Besides that, can you imagine being a “bench player” and now coming in into such an important game? What better motivation do you need? If that doesn’t make you fight with the knife between the teeth, what will? I don’t think this competition is over for Real. I know, it is not for Mourinho and he will find a way to motivate his players, if that is even needed.
I am a firm believer in Jose Mourinho. A lot of people in soccer don’t like him, and I do think that he sometimes does ridiculous things, but he has the ability to get into opponents heads. He already, in public, declared that it is next to impossible to turn this around, but that is just a way to cover for what already everyone believes. He lost at home, he is missing important players, he can’t sit on the bench, the game is at Barca, nothing speaks for Real. However, I do not believe for a second that Mourinho is giving up. He will pull a rabbit out of his hat, at least he is trying.
The draw of the champions league quarterfinal created some excitement for soccer fans around the world. The premier league clubs Chelsea and Manchester United face off for a battle of England. Alone this set-up is promising soccer at its finest. No less excitement for the third English club in the competition: Spurs are facing Real Madrid! And, they were lucky, the first game is in Madrid. Spurs have a great chance to advance into the semis. While Real is a great team and getting better every month, they are still everything else than solid in defense. Of all the attractive opponents, this is the best Spurs could get. A great name and no further motivation needed and a chance to win. Paradise for every coach and player. Good luck, Spurs!
Barca drew the, on paper, least attractive opponent for the quarter-final. Donetsk is not necessarily a cracker in European soccer. However, they are dangerous and can give Barca lots of trouble. The outcome of this duel is not as clear as it looks like. The first game is played in Barcelona and that is an advantage for the Russians. Barca needs to be ready for a “hot dance”.
While Bayern Munich is probably in tears at this moment, Inter Milan is smiling all over their face. They clearly, if that can be said of a quarter-final, drew the easiest team in the pott. Schalke at this stage, is not a team that can create fear. With all the troubles from the past week and the way things in Schalke go after such events, they will still be trying to force themselves out of the “chicken stable” they put themselves in to. There chance is the goalie Neuer and a goal from Raul. Without those two doing magic, they have no chance.
Inter Milan will make the semi-final and most likely Barca. The two other games are completely open. Awesome!
Spurs are the first Premier League team to advance into this year’s Champions League quarterfinal. Adding loads of passion and willpower to their playing abilities, Spurs fought off AC Milan’s efforts to make up for a 1-0 loss at home. Strong defending and keeping the Italians honest with own attacks were the recipe for Harry Redknapp’s team.
AC Milan is not just a football team, the team is the current leader in the Italian Serie A and has several top class players. Spurs can be proud of their accomplishments over the past 1 1/2 years and yesterday’s performance leaves supporters hopeful for the coming tasks internationally and in the Barclay’s English Premier League.
Harry Redknapp and Spurs have nothing to fear in this competition. Everything on top of what is already accomplished is considered sensational and exceeding the expectations. Even if the Spurs meet Barca in the quarterfinal, the ball is round and you never know what happens.
Spurs now need to take the momentum into the coming games in the Premier League and stay in touch with their opponents for next years Champions League qualification.
As expected, Arsenal didn’t survive the round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League. As in the year before, Lionel Messi and his friends mark the end of the road for the gunners.
Depsite all reports, the gunners had van Persie and Fabregas at their disposal. However, neither one could make an impact on Arsenal’s game, at least not on the positive side. In the 56th minute, van Persie collected his second yellow of the the game and was consequently sent off. Ten Gunners had no chance to turn the game around.
Wenger’s tactic was standing deep and trying to stop Barca before the box. While this paid off until the 47th minute (5 minutes were added in the first half), it didn’t give Arsenal a chance to set up some own opportunities to score. Barcelona’s goalie Valdez had a very quite first half. With a 1-0 at half time, the Gunners had to do more in the second half. They tried, without being a force they scored with great help of Busquets, who beat Valdez with a header in the 52nd. After van Persie was sent off, Arsenal had no chance and Xavi and Messi scored for the final 3-1.
Arsene Wenger has to ask himself about his strategy for this game. Defending with everything you have didn’t help many against Barca. There was no effort at all visible to start any promissing attacks against the Spanish. The idea was to disrupt Barca’s efforts and then keep the ball. While the first part worked for the most part in the first half, the second part didn’t work at all and put the gunners in lots of trouble. Rather than play the ball quick into Barca’s half, they tried to hold the ball with short passes. Clearly not the right way, against the best squad in the world.
For Arsenal, the second opportunity for silverware went south. Arsenal is still in the FA Cup and has a shot for the Premier League championshsip. There is, however, a great chance that the gunners end the season empty handed again.
>As of yesterday, the German Bundesliga has secured another UEFA Champions League starter place. With Bayern’s win against Inter Milan and Leverkusen’s advance in to the next round in the Europe League, the German Bundesliga took a starter place away from Italy. From the season 2012/13 the Bundesliga is starting with 3 teams in the Champions League and one in the qualifier. The Italians lost one and will start with two teams in Champions League and one in the qualifier.
What lured around for a while became reality. The improved quality of German soccer paid off for the German clubs and league. This is clearly a win for the Champions League and soccer. It also raises hopes from an economical standpoint, since the event will attract more German “big business” for advertising and sponsorship, not only in Germany, but globally.
If you take a look at the Bundesliga, it could easily be possible that a third of the league is playing on an international level. The Bundesliga has only 18 teams and starting in 2012 five of them will play international, guaranteed. With a favorable outcome in the German “DFB Pokal”, the number of international starters could go up to six. This is an outstanding achievement of the German league.
The Germans decided in the past to leave the Bundesliga and the 2. Bundesliga with 18 clubs each, betting that quality will improve. The other leagues in Europe play the season with 20 teams. The decision left the Germans with the advantage of a winter break. While the German soccer fans’ delight for the break is limited, the players and clubs appreciate the break to rest and re-charge batteries. Now the supporters suffering pays off, they can now watch more Champions League.
>Manchester United made the trip to Marseille without a few important players. In defense the young Smalling had to take position for the injured Ferdinand and Evans. Not in the starting line up also, Giggs, Park, Rafael or Scholes. The first half didn’t bring a lot of excitement. While in the opening 10 minutes it looked like there will be a game, the rest of the second half was more or less pushing the ball back and forth. The goalies, with minimal exceptions, didn’t really need their hands for 35 minutes.
The second half showed significantly more action than the first and Marseille took control of the game. While more possession and mainly in United’s half, more than a mild “harassment” couldn’t be achieved. Sir Alex reacted after 72 min and sent Paul Scholes for Gibson, who couldn’t be found for 70 minutes. That, and a change in system gave United control back, which they kept until the last three minutes. Marseille tried one more time, but couldn’t force a result change.
With a good result as a goal, for United, the game served the purpose. For Marseille, the Champions League dream seems to be over. The game in Manchester should not cause the English major problems, if they keep their form and don’t slide into a major crisis within the next three weeks.
While Chelsea and Carlo Ancelotti traveled to Copenhagen with some “stomach issues”, the game displayed an absolute professional game with not many flaws. Sure, Copenhagen didn’t do anything to trouble the Blues, but Chelsea’s performance is already promising the quarterfinal.
Copenhagen acted to careful and was to busy trying to avoid mistakes in order to create difficult situations for the English. Due to the lax attitude of the Danish, Chelsea took over command from the beginning and never gave control away. Anelka, with fierce support of the Copenhagen goalie, scored twice. The second during a time when Copenhagen started to move a little faster then they did in the first half. With the second goal the game was over. While the Danish pretended to try,they couldn’t come up with more than catching practice for Peter Cech.
Also good news for Chelsea, Fernando Torres, while without luck, played a decent game. He got himself a few chances, but the last punch wasn’t strong enough, yet. It was at least a performance to build on.
The second leg should not be a problem for Chelsea, unless Copenhagen will wake up from hibernation, the Danish season is still on winter break, with new power and a lot more determination. They can do better, ask Barca.