Tuesday: The Champ’s League..and More

It’s going to be all Southampton FC alum hype this week. Tomorrow it be Theo Walcott who will grab the hype for Arsenal as they battle Barcelona, again, in the Champion’s League.

Today, of course, it’s Gareth Bale….

Gosh, I really don't want Robinho back in the news...

• Tottenham Hotspur attempt to turn the lights out on AC Milan

….or is it?

As Harry Rednapp’s crew heads to the Giuseppe Meazza and the Champion’s League gets back under way, questions remains as to just who is fit for the visitors.

Ruled out earlier in the week, reports suggest Gareth Bale will make an appearance on the left flank that he alone owns during this Champ’s League campaign.

Knocks to Luka Modric and Rafael Van Der Vaart may drop both from the line-up.

Or is this just head games and will all three or a couple of the aforementioned play.

If you’ve watch the Spurs in the Champion’s League, specifically the width provided by Bale and Lennon, it’s no question that despite Milan’s form, the Londoners are going to give Allegri’s crew some problems.

Conversely, even minus maestro Andrea Pirlo in the middle and hatchet man Kevin Prince-Boateng, Milan will have the steel to go up the middle with the likes of Flamini, Seedorf and Gattuso.

Can Milan keep the pressure on in the middle of the pitch while Tottenham likely sits back and tries to catch ‘em down the flanks on the counter? Good question.

Another key match-up here? Robinho (likely to start over Pato) on the left hash going up against the sometimes clumsy Alan Hutton.

• Will Raul Schalke the Spaniards?

Two this past weekend for Valencia's Joaquin who may found himself on the pine with Mata's return...

It’s time to call a spade a spade.

Schalke 04 just hasn’t recaptured the glory they had last year. After challenging for the title last year in the Bundesliga, the German side have bobbed up and down all year long and currently are perfectly average, 10th in the table.

Conversely, while Valencia don’t have the best record in Europe, they’re playing this one at home and have been steady as she goes in La Liga in 2011.

While the headline here will be Raul’s return to Spain, the story will likely be Valencia’s midfielder, with Juan Mata returning, controlling the game and getting lose in German defensive third.

It’s going to take a big effort here by Schalke keeper Manuel Nueur, who’s been big all year, to earn the draw. Possible, but not probable.

• Elsewhere:

» Manchester City vs. Aris Salonika: The Citizens lick their wounds in Europa League action. Give us the crazy Italian! (He’s in the squad.)

» Birmingham vs. Newcastle: The Brum squad bores me. Really David Bentley and (former Bar Coder) Obafemi Martins was the best you could do in the January transfer window. A team sorely in need of a striker needs to give it team some firepower up top to avoid the continual grind. Anyway…

» Yankee Doodle Tuesday: Eddie Johnson goes for Preston North End.

» Ferrari firing up in Chicago: A little new piece missed yesterday. Former Sampdoria hopeful Gabriel Ferrari, one of the few Americans to test his wares in Serie A, is trying out for the Chicago Fire after his last club FC Wohlen didn’t sign him up. Going to try and get a TSG interview going there.

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29 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dth on 2011/02/15 at 9:09 AM

    Is there any way we can just switch Schalke for Borussia Dortmund? Surely no one but (very bitter) Schalke fans would object.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/02/15 at 9:17 AM

      Completely true. I watched that Dortmund-Schalke game. Dormund should have scored about 36 in that one.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2011/02/15 at 9:36 AM

        It’s true. They’re really good right now…and that’s even without Shinji Kagawa, who was probably their best player. I hope they’re able to keep that team together–I think it can give a challenge to just about anyone in Europe.

        Reply

  2. Posted by chazcar2 on 2011/02/15 at 10:45 AM

    I thought Leonardo was coach of Inter? Played for AC.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/02/15 at 10:46 AM

      Oops

      Reply

      • Posted by John on 2011/02/15 at 10:56 AM

        To be fair: Leonardo WAS the coach at AC, then he got canned, now he is the coach at Inter… eventually he will get canned there as well… then he will probably coach at Juventus, before getting canned and trying to be the coach at Wigan.

        Reply

  3. Posted by dth on 2011/02/15 at 1:29 PM

    Some enterprising moneyball-aping club should try and get Alexandre Pato. Proven, young talent like that shouldn’t have to waste away on the bench.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/02/15 at 1:35 PM

      he’s a party animal apparently. Needs to stop that first.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2011/02/15 at 1:53 PM

        And Ibra and Robihno aren’t?

        Reply

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/02/15 at 1:54 PM

          It appears they can handle it.

          Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2011/02/15 at 1:58 PM

          Judging by Pato’s goal-scoring record, he seems to be fine too. And it’s not as if Ibra is some huge high work-rate kind of a guy here. I accept that Ibra and Robihno are better players, but Pato’s age, ability, and curious bench-warming status make him an attractive investment. Were I a Boston-based ownership group that owned a team with many many holes across the pitch I might look into his availability.

          Reply

  4. Posted by dth on 2011/02/15 at 1:59 PM

    Question for discussion: how much would Tottenham be owning Milan by now if Bale and Modric were fit? Note that all those balls going to profligate Aaron Lennon would be going to Bale in this scenario.

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/15 at 2:16 PM

      I don’t know, for all of their possession, Spurs’ final product has been pretty much non-existent. Milan have soaked up a lot of pressure, but the few times when Spurs have got behind, they’ve been wasteful. Milan have worked the Spurs keeper more… Second half you have to give Milan credit. All Spurs are doing is either pumping it long to Crouch or giving it to Lennon, and Milan are doubling up on him well.

      If Spurs can nick a goal and take it back to the Lane, then it would be taylor-made for someone like Bale, as Milan would have to score.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2011/02/15 at 2:22 PM

        True: I just think Bale’s end product is dramatically better than Lennon’s end product. In fact, were I Spurs management, I’d be giving thought to splurging for a Lennon improvement.

        Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/15 at 2:26 PM

          I’ll eat my hat!

          Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/15 at 2:28 PM

          I actually thought Crouch had dragged that wide.

          If you’re Milan, at 0-0 in the 1st leg, how do you leave yourself exposed like that?

          Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/15 at 2:58 PM

          I bet Yepes gets a right rollocking for not bringing down Lennon [and conceding the free-kick outside the box and earning himself a yellow] when he had the chance…

          Reply

  5. Posted by dth on 2011/02/15 at 2:35 PM

    Some people who may get ignored for his performance today: Sandro and Palacios. Outnumbered in midfield, nevertheless were able to keep Milan under control in the center, allowing Spurs to pursue their strategy of getting it to the wings early and often.

    Reply

  6. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/15 at 2:36 PM

    Seeing The Yorkshire Ripper II getting all wound up is highly amusing.

    Reply

  7. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/15 at 2:53 PM

    Also nice to see the Italians not getting rewarded for their cheating [Ibrahimovic's blatant push and subsequent goal]. And then seeing Antonini gesturing and over-the-top histrionics…

    Reply

    • Posted by John on 2011/02/15 at 3:18 PM

      How bad was the Gatuso head-butt? I didn’t get to see it.

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/15 at 3:41 PM

        He barely touched him, but that’s not the point is it? Going after a member of the oppostion’s coaching staff, and having to be pulled off and held back… He’s banned for the return leg, but he should get more punishment for that behaviour IMO.

        Reply

        • Posted by FutbolAmerica on 2011/02/15 at 3:45 PM

          I would be suprised if he doesn’t get more punishment. After the shove during the match and (attempted?) head-butt after the match he’ll be looked into by the powers-at-be at UEFA for sure. I could see him getting a 3 match ban pretty easily. Drogba received that for criticizing the refs, I see this as much worse.

          Reply

  8. Posted by scweeb on 2011/02/15 at 2:58 PM

    Wow Gutuso such a poor player

    Reply

    • Posted by JC on 2011/02/16 at 8:29 PM

      Guttuso is not so much a poor player, as he is a pompous bitch. The only antic he did not attempt, was going Mike Tyson and biting Crouch’s ear. Lucky that two foot difference in height paid off.

      Reply

  9. Posted by dth on 2011/02/15 at 8:49 PM

    Trivia match time: Chivas just beat Red Bulls 3-2. As NYRB is something like the first or second most intriguing team in MLS from a USMNT perspective, I thought the game was worth watching and commenting on. Classic game of two halves or so: 60 minutes NYRB were better (2 goals in first half), last thirty Chivas was slightly better but NYRB defense was shambolic.

    Oddly, Tim Ream was not awful during the shambolic defending–hard to say directly at fault for any of the three goals, though perhaps he should’ve been tracking the run on the third goal. Don’t think so though. Normal technical standards, with a couple nice interceptions (where he started behind the forward and moved in front of him to get the ball). I think Ream’s speed might have been underrated by most fans–he had a couple moments where he was able to chase down a player.

    Agudelo scored a goal and had a nice eye for some passes, with good composure in the box. On the “unrealized bonus” side, it seems Agudelo is a fine presser/work rate guy: he had three dispossessions in the opponent’s half with a tackle. Not the first quality you hope for in a forward, but as Barcelona can tell you–having forwards who press is a great asset. As long as they do the other stuff. Which we think Agudelo does. Unfortunately, Agudelo had some strange decision-making in the second half: on a few separate instances he got the ball with his back to goal and held onto it until the double team closed in. I’m also not sure of his top-end speed–there was an instance where he could’ve pulled away from the defense to get one-on-one with the keeper. Still, fine game. Obviously hard to take too much from the events, but still, just wanted to share my impressions.

    Reply

    • Posted by FutbolAmerica on 2011/02/16 at 8:58 AM

      It’s still early in training camp though. I’m sure the RBNY players were feeling their preseason fitness by the middle of the second half and may have led to their breakdowns.

      Reply

  10. Posted by Nelson on 2011/02/17 at 12:26 PM

    Appreciate the spurs report but man you’re not a yiddo. Corluka has been holding down right back since his return from injury. Hoping that flamini didn’t break his leg/foot. Terrible tackle. Gattuso shouldve been carded for various tackles but ultimately got a yellow on one of his softer mistakes. Do strange to see modric push up with sandro and palacios behind. Although I do like sandros ability to get forward. See game vs Sunderland.

    Reply

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