Tag Archives: Champions League

Top Moments of 2011

31 Dec

Happy New Year one and all!  2011 has been quite the year and here are my favorite moments:

1. Abby Wambach’s game-winner against Brazil – This goal was one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen.  Playing a man down and a goal down in stoppage time of extra time, Megan Rapinoe picked out Wambach with a pinpoint cross and Wambach’s header sent the game to penalties, which the U.S. dominated.  Not going to lie, definitely made me cry – on par with Landon’s Donovan’s late winner against Algeria in 2010.  Amazing moment.

2. Hodgson out, Dalglish in at Liverpool – After reigning over one of the worst starts for the Reds in a long time, Roy Hodgson was finally shown the door in January 2011.  His replacement?  None other than the legendary Kenny Dalglish.  The team was revitalized under Dalglish, showing the passion and desire that was missing the rest of the season and moving up the table to finish seventh.  Dalglish was given a three year contract in May.  New ownership, combined with the return of Dalglish changed the outlook for fans all over.

3. Japan’s Women’s World Cup victory – Even though it came at the expense of the U.S., it was impossible not to feel good for Japan.  Homare Sawa equalized for Japan late in stoppage time and the team went on to win the penalty shootout.  It was the first World Cup title for Japan, which was  (and still is) battling with the aftermath of the horrific earthquake and tsunami.  The victory was about more than just soccer.

4. Barcelona’s triumph – Barcelona showed why it truly is the best team on the planet, winning the Champions League title in convincing fashion over an outclassed Manchester United.  Barcelona also claimed the La Liga title and recently the Club World Cup title as well.  The team was (and is) mesmerizing to watch, especially player of the year Lionel Messi and midfield maestros Xavi and Iniesta.

5. City thrashes United – I don’t think it’s any secret that I am not the biggest fan of Manchester United.  Manchester City totally embarrassed the defending champs, 6-1, in mid October, much to the surprise of all but the most delusional of fans.  It was quite the win for City, a warning shot that they are to be taken seriously in the league race.  And let’s be honest, who doesn’t like to see United get knocked off its high horse every once in a while?  To top it off, United (along with City) was eliminated from Champions League play in early December.

What are your top moments from this year?


Champions League group stage ends on completely crazy note

7 Dec

Well, who can say they saw today’s results coming?  Two results clearly stand out: 1) Manchester United getting knocked out of Champions League with a 2-1 loss to Basel.  Really?  2) Lyon somehow turning around a NINE goal difference to edge Ajax for second in group D.

Major props to Basel on the upset of United.  A late goal from Alexander Frei sealed second place for Basel and knocked United out in the group stage for the first time since 2005-06.  And that, Alex Ferguson, is why you don’t take the group stage for granted.

Meanwhile, in group D, Lyon scored six second half goals to seal an improbable 7-1 win over Zagreb.  Meanwhile, Ajax lost a 2-0 decision to Real Madrid, and with those results combined, it meant that Lyon, not Ajax, heads to the round of 16.  Holy crap, how mad does Ajax have to be?  For Zagreb to ship seven goals at home?  Absurb.  Props to Lyon for making something out of what seemed to be a near impossible situation, but it does seem a little bit sketchy since I think the futsal team I play on could have played better defense.

Only two English teams advanced to the round of 16.  Man City defeated Bayern 2-0, but a Napoli win with the same scoreline sent the Italian through to the next round.  Who would’ve thought that Chelsea and Arsenal would be the lone Premier League teams remaining?  Ridic.

While I’m on the subject, I don’t really understand why people would root for all the Premier League teams to do well.  Ok, sure, the league looks better, but really?  Who cares?  You’re telling me that as a United fan, you want Arsenal to succeed? I don’t think so.  I just can’t get behind the idea of rooting for a team that I would hate in every other circumstance.

Round of 16 teams: Bayern Munich (GER), Napoli (ITA), Inter (ITA), CSKA (RUS), Benfica (POR), Basel (SUI), Real (ESP), Lyon (FRA), Chelsea (ENG), Leverkusen (GER), Arsenal (ENG), Marseille (FRA), APOEL (CYP), Zenit (RUS), Barcelona (ESP) and Milan (ITA).

Really early, completely premature and totally unnecessary final prediction: Barcelona vs. Milan

2011-12 Champions League group stage set

25 Aug

After a tediously boring draw earlier today, the Champions League groups are ready to go for another year of action. Group A ended up as the toughest draw with Bayern Munich, Villarreal, Manchester City and Napoli. Of course, Barcelona and Manchester United have one team in each of their groups that could pose a challenge.  The first group games are set for Sept. 13-14 and the complete schedule can be found here.

Oh and in case you were wondering, Lionel Messi won the first UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, which was announced after the draw to the surprise of approximately no one.

Group A
Bayern Munich (GER)
Villarreal (ESP)
Manchester City (ENG)
Napoli (ITA)

Group B
Inter (ITA)
CSKA Moskva (RUS)
Lille (FRA)
Trabsponzor (TUR)

Group C
Manchester United (ENG)
Benfica (POR)
Basel (SUI)
Otelui Galati (ROU)

Group D
Real Madrid (ESP)
Lyon (FRA)
Ajax (NED)
Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)

Group E
Chelsea (ENG)
Valencia (ESP)
Bayer Leverkusen (GER)
Genk (BEL)

Group F
Arsenal (ENG)
Marseille (FRA)
Olympiacos (GRE)
Borussia Dortmund (GER)

Group G
Porto (POR)
Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
Zenit St. Petersburg (RUS)

Group H
Barcelona (ESP)
AC Milan (ITA)
Viktoria Plzen (CZE)

Barcelona sublime in Champions League win

29 May

If you didn’t get a chance to watch the Champions League final yesterday, you are missing out. Barcelona put on a masterful performance to win the European title over Manchester United, 3-1.

  • Thank goodness the game was decided on the field, by the players.  There was no controversial sending-off, no shot-from-the-stands diving and no B.S. penalties – as it should be.
  • I love watching Barcelona play.  They all work so well together, it almost seems unfair.  And of course, there’s the passing, which is jaw-dropping.  They are so patient with the ball, watching for just the right opportunities to attack the goal.  And because of their ridiculous amount of possession, it made United work all the harder to even try to get the ball back.
  • I wish I could play like Xavi.  That man has phenomenal vision.
  • United started the game strongly, forcing Barcelona into uncharacteristic bad passes and mistakes.  The Spanish side soon settled down and took over proceedings.  United got some fire back after Rooney’s equalizer, but the second half was all Barcelona.
  • Why, oh why would you give Lionel Messi any room to operate?  Even though Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand made some excellent last ditch tackles, Messi had all the space in the world to receive the ball and run at the defenders at pace.  One of the reasons he was able to score his goal was that neither Vidic or Evra closed him down.  I still can’t believe the best player in the world is only 23 years old.  Scary.
  • Even though Barcelona was clearly the better side, props to Manchester United for not giving up, especially after the third Barca goal.
  • United tried to play the same way they have all year, but they were unable to come up with a way to contain Barcelona.  Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs were outclassed in the midfield.  Antonio Valencia had a less than memorable outing and Chicarito was unable to take advantage of his speed up top.  Rooney played well, but couldn’t spark a miracle comeback.

More Barca-Real drama today

3 May

Barcelona will host Real Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League semifinal this afternoon.  The bad blood boiled over in the last meeting as there were dives, fouls and cheating out the wazoo.

Barcelona holds a 2-0 lead and has no real need to score any more goals today.  They will be perfectly content with 80% possession and no shots.  How exactly will Real score if they can’t hold onto the ball?  It will be even more difficult for Real without Pepe, who was vital to the disruption of the Barca midfield in the last couple matches.  Last week, Barca couldn’t get a breakthrough until after his red card.  Real will also be without the services of Sergio Ramos (yellow card accumulation) and Jose Mourinho (red card). Mourinho has already labeled this tie as ‘mission impossible’.  (Talk about a way to inspire your team.)

Tensions ran incredibly high in last week’s match and it resulted in an ugly, foul-filled affair.  Will these teams be able to move past that or will this game be even uglier as Real pushes for goals of its own?  A 2-0 hole is not the end of the world for Real, but they will have to find someone else to play the disruptive role that Pepe did if they want any chance of getting back into this clash. If no one can fill that role, it’s going to be a long day for the Copa del Rey champs and a second final in three years for Barcelona.

TV Schedule
Barcelona vs. Real Madrid – 2:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer Live

This is pathetic

28 Apr

Alright, we know, it was an undeserved red card.  But what good does bitching about it all over your website do?  Who thought writing this article was a good idea?  It just makes Real look spiteful and petty.  Plus, with the way that game was going, who’s to say someone else wouldn’t have gotten sent off?

Here’s a life lesson for you: decisions don’t always go your way, but you get over it and you move on.  Focus on the next thing.  It doesn’t do any good to dwell on what’s done and dusted.

Messi is awesome, game was not

27 Apr

Lionel Messi scored twice in the final 15 minutes to give Barcelona a 2-0 win over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.  He has now scored 11 goals in his last 11 Champions League games and as is typical, his goals were quite nice.  What wasn’t so nice?  The vast majority of the rest of the game. Thoughts and observations below:

  • Pepe’s red card was on the harsh side.  I probably would’ve given yellow if I was the ref. (But let’s be honest, I’d be a terrible ref because I’d never call anything unless you were bleeding and/or a bone was sticking out of your body.)  More deserving of a red card?  Emmanuel Adebayor’s blatant face shove of Sergio Busquets.  I realize you’re frustrated, but still, that was unnecessary and you were lucky to only see yellow.
  • Whether it was completely legit or not, the red card completely changed the game.  Pepe was the key cog in the clogging of the midfield and a vital piece of Real’s success against Barca in their last two encounters.   Barcelona was finally able to break through because they were finally able to string together passes through the midfield.
  • For the love of all that is holy, enough with the diving.  If you get knocked over, fine, but grow a pair and get back up.  There is no need to act like you just got shot from the stands.  It’s embarrassing.  Players should be able to be carded and/or fined after a game ends for playacting.  Games should be won and lost because of the product on the field, not because someone (cough*Dani Alves*cough) is a good actor.
  • Also, there’s no need for 15 people to get in the ref’s face after every single foul call (and there were a lot of them tonight).  He made a decision, now let’s move on.
  • This game never got into any sort of rhythm.  There were too many whistles and too much bitching.  (Not saying they weren’t legitimate fouls, but hot damn, there were a lot of them.)
  • Yeah, Messi is kind of amazing.  His first goal required an excellent touch off a great cross and his second goal was pure brilliance.  Talk about a difference maker.  I love how he doesn’t always go for pure power on his shots.  It’s all about the placement.
  • Jose Mourinho is an excellent coach and a brilliant tactician.  However, me thinks he runs his mouth a bit too much.  After the game, he said, “Barcelona has qualified for the final. Sometimes I feel disgusted about this football world of ours…No one has any chance against Barca. Where does all this power come from? To win like this is very nasty.”  Huh.  If I recall correctly, your team beat them in the Copa del Rey final last week.  Also, you beat them as manager of Inter last year.  So you got a player (and yourself) sent off, get over it.  If it had been the other way around, would you be bitching?  Doubt it.  I realize that being rational isn’t necessarily Mourinho’s strong point, but please, you just sound way too bitter.
  • Halftime fight in the tunnel.  Seriously, people?  I realize tensions are high, but that’s just stupid.  What if Victor Valdes had gotten hurt?  Barcelona would’ve been screwed since Jose Pinto was sent off during the fracas.
  • Real has an uphill battle going into the second leg at the Camp Nou.  They won’t be able to sit back and let Barca control the ball 80% of the game if they want a chance at the final. (Which it sounds like Mourinho has already given up on…or are these just more Special One mind tricks?)

What’d you think?