Archive for ‘Champions League’

December 17, 2010

>Tottenham return to Milan as Arsenal get Barca in Champions League

>As it so often does, the Champions League draw has thrown up some rather wonderful pairings.

After Gareth Bale’s heroic hat trick a few weeks ago, Tottenham will return to Milan to take on AC. While  of course difficult, the fact that the second leg will be at White Hart Lane means that if Spurs can keep it within a goal they have a decent chance of progressing. AC no longer have the prowess they once did.

Neighbours Arsenal have the dubious pleasure of taking on the seemingly imperious Barcelona once again. Having been undone quite convincingly by Lionel Messi and company in recent years, and given Barca’s current form, the red half of North London won’t be relishing their tie.

Chelsea will play Marseille, and Manchester United face FC Copenhagen in much more favourable draws for the recent finalists.

The full draw is as follows:

Roma v Shakhtar Donetsk
AC Milan v Tottenham
Valencia v Schalke
Inter Milan v Bayern Munich
Lyon v Real Madrid
Arsenal v Barcelona
Marseille v Manchester United
Copenhagen v Chelsea

November 3, 2010

>Taxi for Maicon


Last night at White Hart Lane was remarkable. Yes, Tottenham do have a history of ‘glory glory’ nights in Europe, but history is the key word. Surely they were not going to going to beat the European champions, the team containing Eto’o, Lucio, Maicon and company? 

Tottenham started brilliantly, a totally different side to the one that was demolished in 20 minutes at the San Siro. They passed, attacked, and deserved to go 1-0 up when Modric and Van Der Vaart combined to brilliant affect. An important save by Cudicini after a typically classy free kick from Sneijder  saw the home side keep their lead at the half time break.

Having scored a fabulous hat-trick in return fixture, Bale had worried Maicon in the first half. In the second half he destroyed him. Multiple times the young welshman ran pass the full back, one of the best in the world, like he wasn’t there. When the Spurs fans started mockingly singing ‘Taxi for Maicon’, the Brazilian must have been slightly hopeful that someone was genuinely offering him a way out of the torment! Apart from running his opponent ragged, Bale delivered two killer crosses that were finished calmly by Crouch and Pavlyuchenko to secure the victory. Tottenham’s third goal was critical, as a lapse from Hutton and Gallas has allowed Eto’o’s destructive finishing to put the holders back into the game.

An amazing night, a glory night, a night that leaves Tottenham within touching distance of qualifying for the Champions League knock-out stages at the first time of asking. A tough lunchtime battle with Bolton is next on the agenda, but for now Spurs can just savour the moment.

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October 21, 2010

>Tottenham nearly Baled out in Milan


The San Siro is a pretty formidable stadium for most football teams, but for Champions League debutants Tottenham it was all too much in a gut wrenching opening 35 minutes. It wasn’t even that Spurs played badly, they didn’t even have the chance to do that. After a minute and a half Javier Zanetti got on to a ball round the back of Alan Hutton and swept in Inter’s first. If Spurs thought that was the nightmare start, they were wrong. Minutes later puppet-master in chief Wesley Sneijder played a perfectly waited pass round the back of Tottenham’s defence. It tempted both winger Biabiany, and goalkeper Gomes. Only one winner. Gomes sent the winger flying and, even with full-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto in close proximity, had a very slim case, and was rightly sent off. Luka Modric was sacrificed for Carlo Cudicini, and the disaster was completed by the inevitable penalty conversion by Sameul Eto’o.

The spotlights on one of footballs biggest stages were proving far too bright for Tottenham. A great weaving Dejan Stankovic followed by a cool finish put the home side 3-0 up. Eto’o got in on the act in open play too, slotting the ball past Cudicini in typical fashion. In 35 minutes, Spurs had been given a lesson in Champions League football from the masters, the game was over before it had even started.

Except Gareth Bale didn’t quite see it that way. seven minutes into the second half he picked up the ball in his own half, after a fantastic tackle by Jermaine Jenas. He then proceeded to run 73 metres at full pelt, leaving three Inter defenders in his wake, before smashing the ball across Julio Cesar. He then proceeded to repeat the trick towards the end of the game, ending a similar run with an equally accomplished finish. Moments later it was Aaron Lennon’s turn to run at the now under pressure Inter defence before rolling it to Bale to smash in and claim his hat-trick. Had the game been five minutes longer, Spurs may well have made the one last chance to pull of the miracle comeback. However it wasn’t to be, and Bale felt a great sense of anti-climax saying “The result is what matters and it’s massively disappointing. We want to put that right next time.”

British teams Manchester United and Rangers were also in action last night. United saw off Bursaspor 1-0. Without Wayne Rooney, it was down to Nani to score the vital goal for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, and he did so after just seven minutes. United will be pleased to have got three points from the encounter, and to get their Champions League campaign going. Rangers got an impressive draw at home against Valencia in the group’s other game, a result that keeps them in second place behind United.

The story of the day though, was at the San Siro.

September 30, 2010

>Champions League review 30.9.10


It has been a successful week in the Champions League for all the British teams: 

Debutants Tottenham Hotspur kicked off their home campaign proper with a crazy 4-1 win over Dutch side FC. They were awarded 3 penalties, 2 of which were scored by Russian forward Roman Pavlyuchenko, and one that was missed be Rafa Van Der Vaart. Van Der Vaart did though score a magnificent volley, before being sent off for 2 rather unnecessary bookings. Tom Huddlestone was lucky not to have seen red earlier, as TV replays clearly show him swinging his arm into a Twente player’s jaw. Gareth Bale scored the 4th on the break.

Manchester United new boy Hernadez’s magnificent finish saw them take 3 point away from Valencia. No easy feat giving the fortress like status of the Mestaille stadium. Unsurprisingly the game was close affair, but the young attacking duo of Macheda and Hernadez had enough quality to make the one decisive breakthrough. After a disappointing home draw with Rangers, Manchester United will feel there campaign is truly under way.

The night before Chelsea had cruised to victory against Didier Deschamps’ Marseille side. They won 2-0, the first a near post flick from skipper John Terry, the second an outrageously cool penalty from Nicholas Anelka. Arsenal beat 10 man Partisan Belgrade 1-3, in a game that also saw multiple penalties. Their goals game from Arshavin, Chamakh, and Squillaci. Partisan scored a penalty, but also had one saved by Lukasz Fabianski. Andrey Arshavin also missed a penalty.

Apart from all the British teams winning, even Rangers got in on the act by beating Bursaspor 1-0, it was noticeable the number of penalties awarded. The extra officials seems to mean that more in-the-box incidents get noticed, and more penalties awarded. It will be interesting to see if these continues. 

Tonight Manchester City and Liverpool are in the Europa league, against Juventus and FC Utrecht respectively. 

August 26, 2010

>Breaking News: Champions League group draw

>The draw for the group stages of this years Champions League group stage has just finished in Monaco and is as follows:

Group A: Inter Milan, Werder Bremen, TOTTENHAM, FC Twente
Group B: Lyon, Benfica, Schalke, Hapoel Tel Aviv
Group C: MANCHESTER UNITED, Valencia, RANGERS, Bursaspor
Group D: FC Barcelona, Panathinaikos, FC Copenhagen, Rubin Kazan
Group E: Bayern Munich, AS Roma, FC Basel, CFR Cluj
Group F: CHELSEA, Marseille, Spartak Moscow, MSK Zilina
Group G: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Ajax, Auxerre
Group H: ARSENAL, Shakhtar Donetsk, SC Braga, FK Partisan

The draw could mean that all four English team get through. Spurs will face the toughest task, as the Champions League debutants will take on take on the current holders Inter. They do though have beatable opponents in am Ozil-lessWerder Bremen and FC Twente. Manchester United and Valencia should been too strong for Rangers and new boys Bursaspor. Chelsea and Arsenal should also face few problems, although both face inevitably uncomfortable trips to Eastern Europe.

The group that will attract most attention is the Brit-less group G. Mourinho’s Real Madrid were always a danger in this draw as they were seeded in pot 2 meaning they were going to meet another top team, which turned out to be AC Milan. With Ajax, and the difficult Auxerre, thrown into the mix this group has without doubt become the ‘group of death’.

August 17, 2010

>Spurs make Champions league debut

>Tonight Spurs will make their Champions League debut, against Young Boys of Bern in Switzerland. Not much is know about their opponents, and after an impressive start to the domestic league season against Manchester City, Spurs will start the game as favourites. However, they must avoid complacency and the feeling that they simply need to turn up to win.

Harry Redknapp has said this week that it wouldn’t be a disaster for Tottenham not to qualify for the group stage. VN normally wouldn’t dare argue with Lord Redknapp of the Lane, but on this occasion he is wrong. Having got so far, Spurs must finish off the job and be in the group stage proper.

It will be interesting to see which player get a run out, after an impressive burst from Gio Dos Santos, and a rest for Nico Kranckar at the weekend. Expect Big Tom Huddlestone and Luka Modric to dominate in midfield, with the slightly slower European game suiting them down to the ground.

Now, VN is obviously a neutral and highly unpartisan news souce, uhum, but just for once COME ON YOU SPURS. (“your fired”, Neutrality ED)

Final Score: Young Boys 1 Tottenham  Hotspur 3

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