Who saw that coming?
We are finally down to 16 clubs in the Champions League. Some of these draws look to be very exciting and could go either way, while others promise to be a one-sided affair.
Who will advance? Who will win it all?
Latest rumors are that José Mourinho will be going back to Chelsea this summer. How credible that is and what it will all mean we will see in coming months.
Fact is that Chelsea hasn’t had the level of play since he left except during that brief period under Roberto Di Matteo who shouldn’t have been fired. He didn’t have a popular name, but his results spoke for themselves, winning the Champions League and at one point having (I believe) a 12 game winning streak in EPL is worthy of respect and some patience to build the team as he saw fit. Sadly, Roman Abramovich decided that his time was up and I believe that he made a mistake.
In any event, that is now a (not so) distant past and Chelsea definitely needs someone better than that hack Rafael Benitez who is in my mind utterly useless. Will they go back to “The Special One” or opt for someone else? Is Mourinho ready to leave Real Madrid?
Lazar Marković from FC Partizan Belgrade is an amazing talent and someone who will undoubtedly play for the largest European clubs in years to come.
Keep an eye on him as many big clubs have over the past year. Last month FC Barcelona called to wish him a happy 18th birthday – you think they are thinking of making an offer as early as this summer? 😉 Other teams who have shown interest thus far are Chelsea and Liverpool. Not a bad company to keep.
Champions League Final will be held on May 19, 2012 in Munich, Germany on Allianz Arena (home field of one of the finalists by the way). We now know that the 2012 UEFA Champions League finalists are Chelsea and Bayern Munich.
Each of the teams have advanced to the final in slightly different fashions. Chelsea, with a lot of heart, textbook team defense (remember, defense wins championships) collective tireless effort and a bit of luck which was certainly needed to beat the raining champions and arguably the best team in the world, Barcelona. Bayern on the other hand, simply played better football and as such has advanced past Mourinho’s Real Madrid.
Now onto the part that bothers me and makes this final less than ideal. Due to archaic and nonsensical yellow cards rule both clubs will have players missing due to suspensions. Bayern will be missing David Alaba, Holger Badstuber and Luiz Gustavo, while Chelsea will be without Branislav Ivanović, Raul Meireles, Ramires and John Terry. I among many others urge UEFA to change this rule and change it now (don’t wait until next year). Finals are considered “holidays of football” and as such millions of fans across the world deserve to see two BEST teams play with their BEST players. This should pertain to all of those players except John Terry whose idiotic, self-centered move nearly cost his team the final – for him I have no sympathy. Then again, who knows, he could have “helped” his team by not playing.
Either way, I’m looking forward to the final, one that will be won by Chelsea (2:1).
Cup competitions are generally known to surprise and enable less known teams to advance and win some trophies. However, this is not the case in England this season. This year’s finalists are two big clubs, Chelsea and Liverpool.
Could this be the only trophy Chelsea wins this year as they have no shot in the English Premier League (EPL) and defeating Barcelona in the Champions League will be very difficult.
Summer transfer window is closed, lots of money was spent and here’s who was paid the most.
|1. Sergio Agüero
|(Atletico Madrid – Manchester City)
|2. Javier Pastore
|(Palermo – Paris Saint Germain)
|3. Radamel Falcao
|(Porto – Atletico Madrid)
|4. Fábio Coentrão
|(Benfica – Real Madrid)
|5. Cesc Fàbregas
|(Arsenal – Barcelona)
|6. Samir Nasri
|(Arsenal – Manchester City)
|7. Juan Mata
|(Valencia – Chelsea)
|8. Samuel Eto’o
|(Inter Milan – Anzhi Makhachkala)
|9. Alexis Sánchez
|(Udinese – Barcelona)
|10. Stewart Downing
|(Aston Villa – Liverpool)
Money well spent?
English Premier League continues full steam ahead and provides great games week after week. Today, I will focus on the top two.
Tottenham Hotspur – Manchester City (1:5) – not really much to say here other than once again, Man City is the team to keep an eye on, they will surprise many larger teams (their town neighbors), last season’s Champions League winners and few more. Also, Edin Džeko is firing on all cylinders, 4 goals today and 7 so far this season, simply amazing. He looks like he’s having fun and enjoying the game which (unlike last season) makes it look much easier.
Manchester United – Arsenal (8:2) – not much left to say, but Man Utd is going for their 20th title
Manchester United and Manchester City are the two dominant teams thus far. Chelsea is slowly waking up, but so far they have been more lucky than good.
Earlier today Didier Drogba got knocked out during the game between Chelsea and Norwich City (3:1) and at first this collision with the opposing goalkeeper looked very bad. Slow motion shows him motionless mid air, right after the collision then bouncing off the ground. After a hospital visit, the diagnosis is a slight concussion, without any neck/spinal cord injuries as first feared.
He’s a great player and I wish him all the best. It’s always hard seeing someone getting KO’ed on a football pitch.
The best football league in the world has began their new season. English Premier League (EPL) or Barclays Premier League (as its been known for last 20 years) has been entertaining fans all around the world for decades with a physical no-nonsense approach to the sport which they (English) have also invented.
Having shared my affinities towards EPL up front it’s time to provide a brief review of some the games which took place this weekend.
First game first, Liverpool played a great first half then all of a sudden they went back to their play of season 2011, without ideas in the final third of the pitch, without creativity or attacking force.
Arsenal wasn’t impressive at all and now with losing both Fabregas to Barcelona and Nasri to Manchester City, Arsène Wenger better do something, QUICK! If he chooses not to then maybe Arsenal owners could finally send that long overdue “good bye” letter to Mr. Wenger. Arsenal is a club with too much history and fan base not to win anything for the seventh year straight.
Manchester United players are not clicking just yet, which can be attributed to a ton of traveling and games they have played over the past month or so (including their USA tour). It is important to note that both Vidic and Ferdinand ended their first game of the season early due to injuries which could be a massive problem if their stay off the pitch becomes prolonged. On the other hand, Manchester United can never be counted out as they have showed time and time again that they fight until the end and often score in the final minutes of the game. Also, their luck is nothing to discount considering today’s Ashley Young’s lucky double deflection to guide the ball in against West Brom for their 82nd minute winner.
Still waiting to see Manchester City play tomorrow against Swansea City, the team which has been spending money as if they own their private mint, with nothing to show for it. Has Roberto Mancini (who I really respect from his Inter Milan) days gotten into something he can’t sort out?
Last team which could make a difference in this year’s title run is Chelsea of course, and their first game of the season is scheduled for…today!? What! I missed that match completely, I guess I will need to look it up and see how they played, but considering the scoreless draw it looks like they are not completely aligned just yet. I expect them to do much better than last season.
Tottenham, Aston Villa, Stoke City and a few others could also throw their bids in for this seasons title or at least placement into the top third of the table to ensure Champions League or Europa League qualifiers which guarantees great football.
In summary, it is very early to judge teams’ true strength, but everything points towards another interesting season of the Premier League.
UPDATE on August 15, 2011 @ 8:58 pm: Finally watched Manchester City vs. Swansea City 4:0 (0:0) and must say that Man City will definitely be one of the teams fighting for the title. They started a bit slow (first 20 minutes or so) and then they took control of the game completely. Final score of 4:0 could have been even higher if the wasn’t for the woodwork and several great saves by Swansea’s goalkeeper. It’s too early to call, but Manchester City looked sharp.