abril 08, 2010

Europa league second leg games

I thought they didn't disappoint. I lost the feed of the Fulham Wolfsburg game, but scoring in the first minute pretty much sealed the game. I didn't get to see much of it, but what I saw was exciting. It was going to be very much an uphill battle for the Bundesliga champs after Zamora grabbed the first minute away goal though.

I ended up watching the Atletico Madrid Valencia second half. Great game. The ref made some very curious decisions though. An Atletico defender grabbed Vigic as he was going up for a header that would almost certainly have been a goal...and he ripped his shirt wide open. Yet somehow no penalty? Amazing. On the other hand, the linesman a few minutes before called offsides of Kun Aguero when Aguero was very clearly onsides. He had a one on one with the goalie with all kinds of time that would have definitely been a goal. Strangely the ref gave Aguero a yellow card for leaving the pitch slowly in the final minute, which means that Aguero will miss the next game.

Hamburg SV will play Fulham and Liverpool will face Atletico Madrid.

Europa League, second leg

The first leg games last week were all exciting. This week Atletico has Valencia at home, Standard Liege has the advantage in Belgium against Hamburg, Liverpool has a chance for redemption at Anfield against Benfica, and Fulham goes to Germany to face defending Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg.

To be honest, I'm pumped about these games. I'll likely be watching and screaming for Fulham in front of my computer monitor because I doubt Fulham will be the game televised here.

By the way, Pablo Aimar's visit to Liverpool will reunite him with Rafael Benitez, after they spent a few successful years together at Valencia.

abril 07, 2010

Robber wonder strike sinks United

What else is there to say: world class football from Arjen Robben. That was an amazing first-touch half side-touch volley.

Do I think Bayern was the better side? To be honest, no, I don't. But give them a ton of credit for scrapping two goals away to come out with just enough to advance.

The red card not only left Man U a player short, but it induced Ferguson to withdraw Rooney. And Nani had two goals of solid finishing, but the bulk of the labor was done by Ecuador's Antonio Valencia.

Considering Everton

When Landon Donovan arrived at Everton, they were in the relegation zone. Somehow they've had a crazy few 3 months won a bunch of matches and show up after a week in April with a chance at the Europa League.

Currently 5th and 6th are occupied by Tottenham and Liverpool with 58 and 55, while Aston Villa is just slightly behind with 54. Everton has 50.

Aston Villa and Tottenham have only played 32 games, however, while Liverpool and Everton have both played 33. Manchester City, with 59 points, has also played 32 games and has the pole position for the Champions League.

On Wednesday the 14th, Everton plays at Aston Villa, followed by Blackburn away, Everton at home, Stoke away and Portsmouth at home.

Aston Villa has Everton at home, Portsmouth away, Hull at home, Birmingham at home, Manchester City away and Blackburn at home.

If you were to bet, I'd still put money on Liverpool and Tottenham making the Europa League, but it's not impossible to see Everton in there but it will likely come down to whether Everton and Aston Villa can get a result in a week.

abril 06, 2010

Leo Messi! Messi! Lionel Messi! Messi!

Some variation of his name 4 times. Why? For the four goals he scored in beating Arsenal today. Obviously a great result for Barcelona. Arsenal is a dangerous club, as they showed by being up 3-2 in aggregate after 110 minutes of the 180 minute two leg match.

In some ways, Arsenal is the perfect team for Messi to face. They attack and play possession (and truthfully, due to injuries were without their 3 best attacking players). That means Messi will frequently find himself with space. Arsenal would never ever shame themselves like Chelsea did in last year's Champions League semis where Chelsea packed 11 men into the penalty area and basically put up a tent. And while Arsenal should be commended, it is true that it leaves them vulnerable to master class displays from Messi.

Barcelona will face Inter Milan in the Champions League semi-finals. But first, they have Real Madrid this Saturday...in Madrid at the Bernabeu.

abril 05, 2010

Barcelona v. Arsenal injury report, leg 2 at Camp Nou

The injury report will be pretty key to the match.
Lots of key injuries for both sides.

Out for Arsenal: Alex Song, Robin Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Wlliam Gallas, Andrei Arshavin, Aaron Ramsey
Somewhat Questionable: Sol Campbell

Out for Barcelona: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gerard Pique, Carlos Puyol
Doubtful: Jeffren, Yaya Toure, Andres Iniesta
Thierry Henry is apparently still having calf problems as well.

For both sides the question is: who starts at central defense?

Fernando Torres backs Arsenal to win the title?

"I want Arsenal to be the champions. They have the best fixtures of the three. Wenger deserves to win the title and to be imitated for his work he has done in his time there."

El Nino is a student of the game if he backs Wenger.