Archive for the ‘Champions League’ Category

Wednesday Action: Champ’s League & Cannons

One word: Cesc...

A gaggle of good games on the program today. Go:

• The Great Cesc Coaster….

Stoke head to the Emirates in today’s appetizer match.

Arsenal? Volatile. A premium performance against Barcelona followed up by “dropping” a draw to Leyton on some wonderment near stoppage time.

Stoke for their part are much stronger at home, but come in having failed to concede more than two goals in any match this season in the Premiership, the only team to do so.

Call this one the Army-Air Force game. Stoke will try to go over the top to Kenwynne Jones, Ricardo Fuller and company while the Wengers will look to play the ball on the ground through the midfield and carefully dissect the Trentmen’s backline.

And as always, please don’t climb on the cannons:

• Champ’s League: Finals rematch: Bayern tries to go galatic on Inter

Olic still out of action...

The visitors to the Giuseppe Meazza could really use the industry of Ivica Olic in this one…unfortunately the Croatian is still out of action.

Bayern takes to Milan today hoping avenge last year’s final loss. They may not find Jose Mourinho on the touchline but they’ll still have to handle Samuel E’to who has been–in this writer’s opinion–quietly brilliant in both league and Europe action this year. Look for him to attack the Germans down the left flank while “even quieter” Maicon–still brooding over not being relocated to Spain–attacks down the right flank.

Bayern will counter with the typical pair of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. While Ribery has been down right pedestrian this year, Mario Gomez up top is coming in in serious form and will try to throw some haymakers at Inter’s central defense.

Mourinho is a “galactico” but Inter should prevail at home.

• Triumph? Manchester to Marseille

First, let’s get some Man United info out of the way. Bebe, remember him, the United signing that Ferguson never saw in person? Yeah, he’s already rumored out of Old Trafford at the end of the year.

Cantona? Calls Fergie a genius here and says Manband Berba is “great.”

Today? Man United to the south of France to face Gignac, Remy and a Marseille team that have been ho-hum at best in Ligue 1 action.

Key match-ups?

Will Evra’s rose have a thorn in Loic Remy floating out behind his forward runs on the “port” flank?

And America’s best friend Andre Ayew attempts to boss the Redhead Devil midfield.

I’m sorry, did we mention Cantona?

Champ’s League: Real Madrid Lyonized?

UEFA Champion’s League Tuesday….begin:

Will we get trademark Ronaldo...and precisely what is that? More blame or more game? (Photo credit: Shaun Webb)

• Real Madrid Hope To Be Lyonized in France

Ronaldo.

Your turn my man to step up.

For the past two Champion’s League seasons your team has not attained the crown and you’ve squarely placed the blame on your manager or, in the case last year, blamed your manager after guaranteeing advancement.

To date this year, Ronaldo has grabbed the goals in La Liga, but the accolades have went to Messi, Xavi and company.

This time, Ronaldo has Jose Mourinho on his touchline. Can’t make those excuses. Apologies Lyon–with Michel Bastos playing out of his mind in the competition–it’s also about the Madeiran in this series.

• FC Copenhagen hope to snuff out Chelsea at home

Dame N'Doye for Copenhagen

Is Parken Stadium the scene for Chelsea righting the ship?

Not sure where to put this next comment, but I’m surprised more hasn’t been written about how Chelsea are just desperately missing a single piece to the puzzle: a centrally attacking midfielder-forward.

They’ve got none. Anelka looks for his shot when withdrawn, Kalou is more naturally a winger and not a playmaker. Lampard prefers to trail, while Michael Essien prefers to defend.

Didier Drogba is much better deployed in the attack and prefers to run off center while Torres likes to threaten the opponent’s backline.

It has been fascinating watching teams play Chelsea for the past few months once they realize that, unless someone has a great game out of character to their skillset, they can sag off the Blues.

Copenhagen’s got some firepower in this one to challenge stalwart David Luiz and favorite villian John Terry in the form of veteran forwards Brazilian César Santin and Senegalese Dame N’Doye. If Copenhagen can provide the service, might be a tough one for the visitors.

Champ’s League: Arselona Live!

Yes, there is another game today.

After yesterday’s Boot Country theatrics and the quibbles that seem to be following Roma, I’m highly inclined to only take in the score of that game. Probably a mistake but…the headliner:

Yes, it's probably time for us to get subjected to yet another Xavi passing chart...

• Cesc It Ain’t So: Will
Arsenal Hold The Line at Home against Barca?

Wonderful that this rematch is happening from last year. Better yet with different actors in it.

With less than a collective fifteen observations of both teams this year, I’m not going to go out with a prediction.

Here are just some thoughts.

I don’t think–even with the swap of Villa for Zlatan–that Arsenal can afford to sit deep in this one. Their defensive organization is simply not good enough–this is an Arsenal team that has consistently conceded against lower level Premiership sides as well as Championship sides.

That said, the addition of a nimble Johan Djourou–well-respected at this publication–and 25-year-old Laurent Koscielny give Arsenal an agile interior. Their relative youth suggests that the pair could either have a howler or not grasp the moment and be difference makers–watch how this duo comes out.

Secondly, and I’ll probably eat my words shortly here, if I’m Arsene Wenger, I use the same deployment of Theo Walcott as I did last year–after the half as a sub when Pep and company can only make adjustments in-stream.

Walcott is not a 90-minute player and adding him in early takes away the known threat that must be accounted for later–when Maxwell and company are slowed. I’d stow him on the bench for the start.

Finally, if I’m Arsenal, I’d bang on the right rear guard of Barca–use Van Persie off-center and bring Nasri–if fit. Force Busquets to drop to help out and hopefully open up space for Cesc in the middle.

All of this, of course, easier said then done.

For the interlopers, it will likely be business as usual. Press up the pitch, bring Dani Alves up the right flank using Busquets as cover (hence the Arsenal comment above) and then, of course, Xavi pulling the strings.

Champ’s League….soon.

Champions League – Inter Milan versus Spurs

The signing of the season. Whats not to like? Incredible football player and a lovely lovely wife! Yes i'm jealous.

93:00 – Bebe scores as Man United are up 3-0. Copenhagen are holding Barcelona to a 1-1 draw late in Denmark. and PEEEEEP PEEEP PEEP. Game is over as Spurs are deserved 3-1 winners. Are there a better two players in England right now then Bale and Van de Vaart?

90:00 – Milito answers right back with a shot that swerves just wide.

89:00 – GOOOOOAAAAAAL PAV! but all Bale. Kaboul tackles the ball and Bale runs end to end, out paces everyone and sends in an easy cross to Russian who slots it home. Spurs 3 – Inter 1

Continue reading

Champs League: Edu, Mata & Miller Time

Some quick previews, more a piece to post your thoughts.

It's go time again for Edu...

• Rangers Attempt to Carve Up Bursaspor

2:45 p.m. EDT – DirecTV

The Ibrox side did well on the road a few weeks ago against Fergie’s crew. Now Maurice Edu puts down his PlayStation paddle for a few hours and will take it to the Turkish side from Bursa.

The Rangers would be wise not to sleep on Bursapor who finished ahead of more notable clubs Fenerbache and Galatasary in their league last year.

Prediction: Kenny Miller, who’s in great form, has at least one goal for the home side, maybe two.

———

• Spurs Hoping That In Hindsight They Knock Off Twente

2:45 p.m. EDT – FSP

Steve McLaren’s former crew–who’s having a rough go of it in the Eredivisie–travel to White Hart Lane to face a non-so-red-hot Redknapp squad.

Spurs, who are coming off a 1-0 loss to West Ham where their central midfield, especially Tom Huddlestone, got absolutely worked by TSG not-so-favorite Scott Parker.

For the visitors, keep an eye out for Swiss youngster Luuk De Jong. He’s already got five goals in seven competitions this year after primarily being a sub last year and notching 7 onion baggers in 20 matches. Thirteen of those matches though he played less than 45 minutes!

De Jong is sort of like a tall Pippo Inzaghi. He consistently tests and skirts the offsides line looking to pounce on lead passes, but he can also get it done in the skies.

———

• Valencia Hope to Make Manchester United’s Spanish Sojourn An Absolute Nightmare.

2:45 p.m. EDT – FSP

Sir Alex Ferguson would be wise to go with his most veteran team in this game as the home side Valencia is flying right now.

The Spanish side has not lost in La Liga all year.

Their #10 is Juan Mata who’s recently been linked with moves to both Liverpool and Inter Milan. The 22-year-old Spaniard is an absolute wizard with the ball…one of those players that fits the cliché “he sees two passes ahead of everyone else.”

———

• A Rafa Team Is On The Ropes Again. Is An Upset Bremen?

2:45 p.m. EDT – FSP

Inter Milan is stumbling and with AC Milan bringing in the firepower right before the window closed, there’s mucho pressure on the side that Jose Mourinho waltzed to a treble last year.

Milito’s out for the hosts, but Werder Breman have left some major pieces of their arsenal back to celebrate Oktoberfest (Pizarro, Frings and Fritz).

Milito though had some inspirational words (below) for his side.

———

Elsewhere:

Rubin Kazan-Barcelona 12:30 p.m. Fox Soccer Channel

Spurs-Twente 2:45 p.m. FSP

Inter Milan-Werder Bremen 2:45 p.m.

Hapoel Tel Aviv-Lyon 2:45 p.m. DirecTV

Schalke-Benfica 2:45 p.m. DirecTV

Panathinaikos-Copenhagen 2:45 p.m. DirecTV

Champ’s League-ing Tuesday

Raise your hand if you love UEFA Champ’s League. Okay, who was the one guy in the back that prefers CONCACAF Champ’s League? Is that you Don Garber?

Good ones of course today:

• Will Ajax Scrub Milan Out at Home?

Oops! Wrong jersey. Is Zlatan the Johnny Damon of Serie A?

This should be the game that you’re going to want to pirate at work.

Ajax is flying in the Eredivisie with a league-leading 20 goals through seven games. They’ve only leaked one goal per game as well.

That said, Milan travels with a Robinho, Pato, Ronaldinho, Boateng and Ibra-with-a-chip-on-his-shoulder.

I’m sorry Grant Wahl, Ajax is going to struggle to get through this group.

• Frankly, the Blues should still win in a walk.

Lampard is out for Ancelotti’s men, Marseille bring Loic Remy, Andre-Pierre Gignac and Ghanian Andre Ayew to the Bridge. It’s still not enough.

• Will it be Merry Festivus for FC Basel?

Um, no.

Bayern Munich will come out with their guns blazing on the road at FC Basel after manager Louis Van Gaal gets a vote of confidence with a new contract and after being embarrassed by Mainz at home this Saturday.

Plus, FC Basel start Franco Costanzo between the pipes. My motto? Never trust a goalkeeper who pulls one of his defenders’ hair.

• Wenger’s going to need an Arsenal if his netminders continue to pull Homer Simpsons. Partizan Belgrade vs. Arsenal Wenger.

First, let me say I think Luis Fabianski is a decent keeper.

That said, I actually feel for Arsenal fans. Their goalkeeper situation is a like a port-o-potty at an underfunded state park: The longer the situation goes on, the more it fills up with sh*t. It stinks to high heaven and the area around it (the defense) starts to get trashed.

Enough already, bring in Lloris….watch Wenger transfer in Robert Green.

All I can tell you about Partizan Belgrade is that 14 out of 18 of their players’ last names end in “ic.”

They seem too one-dimensional to me; Emirates pulls this one out.

(Thank goodness for the unique Jonathan Wilson who actually has a viewpoint on Partizan.)

And more:

Spartak Moscow v MSK Zilina

Auxerre v Real Madrid

Braga v Shakhtar Donetsk

Roma v CFR 1907 Cluj-Napoca

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