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Champions League draw

Posted by Daniel Stone on August 30, 2007

championsleague.jpgHere you have the Champions League draw. There isn’t really any group that will be classed as the Group of Death as the big teams seem to have been kept apart, for the time being!

Group A:Liverpool, Porto, Marseille, Besiktas

Liverpool and Porto should have absolutely no problem advancing to the next stage. Marseille, with Cisse, lost Frank Ribery in the summer and have had a very average start to the French League this season. Besiktas are bound to finish rock bottom.

Group B:Valencia, Chelsea, Schalke 04, Rosenborg

This group is similar to the previous one with the top two too powerful for the lower seeded teams. Chelsea knocked Valencia out of last season’s Champions League so the latter could be seeking revenge. Schalke 04 do not possess enough resources to trouble the big two. Rosenborg, no chance!

Group C:Real Madrid, Werder Bremen, Lazio, Olympiakos

Depending on the Real Madrid that turn up, this group could be quite open. Real Madrid had a very poor pre-season but have since started well in La Liga. However, Werder Bremen, Lazio and Olympiakos will be difficult to separate.

Group D:AC Milan, Benfica, Celtic, Shakhtar Donetsk

This group is probably the most competitive, taking away AC Milan. The holders shouldn’t have any problems progressing, although it will be very tight between Benfica (who have a new manager, Jose Camacho), Celtic (very hard to beat at Celtic Park) and Shakhtar (who have invested heavily on improving their squad).

Group E:Barcelona, Lyon, Stuttgart, Rangers

Last season I would have said this would be quite a difficult group for Barca but Lyon have started this season very slowly in contrast to previous years. Second place is up for grabs but I can’t see Rangers competing.

Group F:Manchester United, Roma, Sporting Lisbon, Dynamo Kiev

The major talking point of this group is Roma visiting Old Trafford for the second season in succession and after being humiliated 7-1 at the Theatre of Dreams (or nightmares in their case). United will take Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani back to their previous team, Sporting Lisbon, so it will be interesting to see the reception they get. I can see any of the top 3 qualifying.

Group G:Inter Milan, PSV Eindhoven, CSKA Moscow, Fenerbahce

Inter Milan have had an irregular start to their campaign but they should be qualifying along with PSV. It will be interesting to see how Roberto Carlos’ Fenerbahce get along. Moscow can also be a daunting place to go in winter.

Group H:Arsenal, Sevilla/AEK Athens, Steau Bucharest, Slavia Prague

Assuming Sevilla go through (they do lead AEK Athens 2-0 after the first leg) this seems to be the weakest group of the lot. I will be amazed if Arsenal and Sevilla do not qualify from this group.  

Posted in Arsenal, Barcelona, Champions League, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Sevilla, Valencia | Leave a Comment »

La Liga full of shocks

Posted by Daniel Stone on August 27, 2007

antoniopuerta.jpgLa Liga got underway this past weekend with plenty of goals, entertaining football and a long list of shocks. Although there was some wonderful football, what happened at Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán overshadowed all the football. Antonio Puerta suffered two heart attacks and is still in a critical condition. Let’s hope he will have a speedy recovery.  

Barcelona started their campaign with new signing Thierry Henry on the bench, with such a star studded frontline there was no room for him in the starting line up. One may wonder, if Henry is used as a substitute he may end up regretting his move to Sunny Spain, in contrast to the King status he had back at the Emirates. Back to the proceedings at El Sardinero (Racing Santander’s stadium), Henry came off the bench and came closest to breaking the deadlock with a shot that hit the post. The fantastic four (Barcelona front line: Messi, Ronaldinho, Eto’o & Henry) couldn’t have imagined starting the season firing blanks! Racing also threatened at the other end but the deadlock could not be broken as the game finished 0-0. Shock number 1. 

Other shocks include all three newcomers to La Liga starting with convincing victories; Almeria beating Deportivo 0-3 away, Valladolid beating UEFA Cup finalists Espanyol 0-1 away and Murcia beating Champions League hopefuls Zaragoza 2-1 at home. Shock number 5 came at Mestalla, Villarreal battering title credentials Valencia 0-3. The latter had two stars sent off; Joquin for dissent and David Villa, for mouthing off and diving The Spanish FA have said they will not be tolerating diving in La Liga this season, so let’s see how long this will last as a downfall to this great league is that players do fall theoretically all too often. 

Finally, Real Madrid endured a moral boosting win over neighbours Atlético Madrid. The pundits were predicting an away win (or even stating that this was the best chance Atlético had in beating Real in many years, this due to Real Madrid suffering their worst pre-season in many many years). After the first minute this looked the case after the all so reliable Guti (NOT!) lost his marker, Aguero who headed the ball in at the back post from a corner. Real moved up a few gears (they started in reverse to be honest) and took control of the game, playing entertaining football (as Schuster promised). Raul headed in the equaliser and before the winner came Sergio Ramos hit the post with a header as did Guti with a free-kick. In the 79th minute Wesley Sneijder popped up with the winner striking from 20 yards out which evaded Leo Franco via a deflection. These were the remaining results: 

A. Bilbao 0 – 0 Osasuna

Sevilla 4 – 1 Getafe

Mallorca 3 – 0 Levante

Recreativo 1 – 1 Betis

Posted in Almería, Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Deportivo, Espanyol, La Liga, Murcia, Racing, Real Madrid, Sevilla, Valencia, Villarreal, Zaragoza | 2 Comments »