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Champions League Preview

March 9th, 2010

ARSENAL v. PORTO

The Gunners will need a victory and a victory only in order to ensure their progression out of the last 16.  In the first leg of the tie, Arsenal gifted Porto a victory and will surely be coming out of the gates hard and fast from the opening whistle.  However, without their talismanic leader in Fabregas and their defensive stalwart in Gallas, Arsenal just may be prone to mistakes.

From Russia with love.

After losing Aaron Ramsey to the leg break, we may get a chance at seeing Rosicky and Eboue could be in line for a start.  Hulk will be the focus of Arsenal’s attention as the Brazilian has a knack of creating chances and causing chaos.  But can he take advantage of the injury-ravaged Arsenal squad?

Arsenal 3 – 1 Porto

FIORENTINA v. BAYERN MUNICH

“This is truly the game of our lives,” said Fiorentina captain Riccardo Montolivo.  After being unjustly beaten in Bayern Munich by a goal that should have disallowed for offside, Fiorentina will be itching to beat the Germans.  This second leg should prove to be quite a passionate game as Montolivo also was quoted as saying, “We will bring out all the anger that we have carried since the first leg at the Allianz Arena.”  Unfortunately for the Fiorentina, they will be without Adrian Mutu and Massimo Gobbi.  However, Jovetic, Gilardino and the addition of Vargas should be up to the task of dismantling Bayern’s defense, which will be without Demichelis.  Expect fireworks.

Fiorentina 3 – 2 Bayern Munich



Transfer News – September 2nd

DAILY MIRROR

* Daivd James fears for his World Cup place after being left stranded at crisis club Portsmouth.

* Burnley boss Owen Coyle hailed the sgining of striker David Nugent in a last-gasp loan deal from Portsmouth on deadline day.

* Gary Megson is backing Ivan Klasnic to solve Bolton’s chronic goalscoring problems after completing a loan deal for the Croatian striker.

DAILY STAR

* Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka is said to be angry and frustrated after discovering he will not be getting a new contract this season.

David James has been told to focus on Portsmouth and not showing pictures of himself to 8 year olds...no matter how much it boosts his esteem

David James has been told to focus on Portsmouth and not showing pictures of himself to 8 year olds...no matter how much it boosts his esteem

* Arsenal are set to appeal against UEFA’s decision to hand Eduardo a two-match ban for diving.

* Martin O’Neill was forced to sweat it out as he took his Aston Villa summer spending spree past the £40m mark last night.

* Steve Bruce last night blocked a deadline bid by Spurs to sign Sunderland defender Anton Ferdinand.

* Fulham snapped up Swedish striker David Elm on a one-year deal for £1m from Kalmar FF.

* Dutch defender Johnny Heitinga became Everton’s top earner last night in a beat-the-clock move to Merseyside.

* Portsmouth lost another of their big stars yesterday with Niko Kranjcar joining Tottenham in a £2.75m move.

* FA Cup sponsors E.ON have pulled the plug on their £35m deal.

* Rafa Benitez has become the first top boss to face the wrath of the FA over their new rules for criticising referees.

* Steve Harper has told Newcastle owner Mike Ashley to pull his finger out if he wants promotion this season.

THE SUN

* David Nugent finally ended his Portsmouth hell by securing a six-month loan move to Burnley bang on deadline.

* Niko Kranjcar insists he has not joined Tottenham as a stand-in for crock Luka Modric.

* Michael Ballack says Chelsea have been boosted by Liverpool’s rocky start to the season.

* Jamie Carragher has told Liverpool’s critics not to write them off – because they are the No 1 comeback kings.

* Emmanuel Adebayor says it will be like a family at war when he lines up against Arsenal in 10 days’ time.

* Manchester United and Real Madrid target Franck Ribery has blasted Bayern Munich boss Luis van Gaal in an amazing deadline-day outburst.

DAILY MAIL

* Aston Villa were given dispensation to complete a £5million deal for Richard Dunne last night as negotiations over his departure from Manchester City rumbled on past the 5pm deadline.

* Newcastle pulled off a coup by signing Manchester United defender Craig Cathcart on a season-long loan.

* Aidy Boothroyd will return to football today as the new manager of Colchester United.

* Stoke were beaten by the clock in an ambitious bid to sign Bayern Munich right back Christian Lell.

* Claudio Ranieri, the former Chelsea manager, is the new coach of Roma after Luciano Spalletti resigned yesterday following defeats in the opening Serie A games.

Ranieri...Claudio Ranieri

Ranieri...Claudio Ranieri

DAILY EXPRESS

* Ashley Cole will complete a new £120,000-a-week, five-year deal with Chelsea when he returns from England World Cup duty.

* Birmingham have signed Sunderland midfielder Teemu Tanio on loan until the end of the season.

* Harry Redknapp’s reputation as the master wheeler-dealer took a major hit on transfer deadline day.

* The Premier League’s Big Four reined in their spending yesterday to leave Everton’s £6million deal for Holland international Johnny Heitinga the biggest transfer in a low-key deadline day.

DAILY RECORD

* Celtic boss Tony Mowbray last night admitted he was delighted to snap up Chinese international Zheng Zhi after chasing him for more than a year.

* Jerome Rothen revealed he slammed the door shut on a glamour Premier League move to sign a deal with Rangers.

* Darren O’Dea signed on at Reading and then insisted he’ll be back up the road in no time to nail down his place as a Celtic stalwart.



Champions League Draw in Full

The draw in full

Group A: Bayern Munich, Juventus, Bordeaux , Maccabi Haifa

Group B: Manchester United, CSKA Moscow, Besiktas, Wolfsburg

Group C: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Marseille, FC Zurich

Group D: Chelsea, Porto, Atletico Madrid, Apoel FC

Group E: Liverpool, Lyon, Fiorentina, Debreceni

Group F: Barcelona, Internazionale, Dynamo Kiev, FC Rubin Kazan

Group G: Sevilla, Rangers, VfB Stuttgart, Unirea Uriziceni

Group H: Arsenal, AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos, Standard Liege

Analysis:

Group A:  Group A will be a very interesting group to watch unfold.  Juventus, Bayern and Bordeaux all have a great chance of reaching the knockout rounds, but it may all come down to how each of them play Maccabi Haifa – the Israeli champions.  In my eyes, whoever drops points to Haifa, doesn’t make it to the next round.

Prediction:

Bayern Munich and Juventus progress

Group B: Manchester United will be disappointed with all the traveling they will be doing, especially to Turkey where the hooligans go mad every time United come to town.  Wolfsburg is also going to be a bigger threat than they’re given credit for, watch for them to nick points in group play.  The Russians will be a stingy opposition and may steal points in the Motherland, but away from home may struggle to find their feet.  Wolfsburg are my dark horse of the tournament.  I don’t think for a second they deserved the fourth pot, but now find themselves with a tall order.  They can push for the knockout round, and their match against CSKA Moscow will make or break their run.

Prediction

Manchester United and Wolfsburg progress

Group C: Group C, along with F, is a “group of death”.  Somehow, Madrid dodged the British bullet (which makes for a more exciting knockout stage!), and they should find themselves in the knockout round before too long.  AC Milan have had a dodgy start to their campaign, and if they don’t start clicking could start dropping points in group play.  Marseille have been a tough nut to crack in years past, and with the addition of Morientes to their attacking play, will give Milan and Madrid a test.

Prediction:

Real Madrid and AC Milan to progress

Group D: The boys from London should have a spot in the knockout round if they keep their heads about them.  The only thing I would worry about is that they’ve been giving up goals early in the EPL and come from behind to win it, and may well do so against more formidable sides in this competition who won’t be so forgiving.  Atletico are always impressive to watch and I don’t see anyone but those two making it past this group.

Prediction:

Chelsea and Atletico Madrid to progress

Group E: Liverpool can’t have too many complaints here, they were grouped with great teams in Lyon and Fiorentina, but, to be honest, they should be able to cope.  The Merseysiders should claim the top spot, but the second one is completely up for grabs.  Fiorentina and Lyon are both squads that have firepower up top (Mutu and Govou) and can work to break down their opponents.  Fiorentina would love to have Melo back in their squad as I have no doubt he’d love to break up the Frenchmen in attack.

Prediction:

Liverpool and Lyon (by a hair!) to progress

Group F: This is it.  The group of death. We have the reigning Spanish and European champions as well as the Italian and Ukrainian league winners.  I’ve had to keep my mouth shut all day so as not to drool all over my desk.  Mourinho vs. Guardiola.  Eto’o vs. Pique.  Ibrahimovic vs. Cordoba.  Chocolate vs. Vanilla.  Coke vs. Pepsi.  Bert vs. Ernie.

Prediction:

It’s not going any other way.  Barcelona on top, Inter taking second.

Group G: My pick (and yours if you have sense) for the tamest group.  Not a lot to gawk at here.  Rangers and Sevilla will probably make the next stage, as I don’t think Stuttgart have enough bite to make any marks here.  Unirea Uriziceni will just be happy to be in the competition, and will love the fact that they have be thrown into this group.

Prediction:

Rangers and Sevilla to progress (in that order)

Group H: Arsenal may have the best of the English teams, and Wenger will be hard pressed to find something to complain about (if you can believe that!).  But remember the torrid time Standard Liege gave Liverpool last season in the qualifying rounds, as they could give group H some trouble.  Gunners aside, this group is fairly balanced.  Each team will fancy their chances at nabbing the last spot into the knockout stages.

Prediction:

Arsenal and Standard Liege to progress




Chelsea to Appeal Bans Set on Drogba & Bosingwa
July 2, 2009, 9:17 PM
Filed under: Champions League | Tags: , , , ,
Drogba furious with Referee Ovrebo in London

Drogba furious with Referee Ovrebo in London

Chelsea today revealed their determination to stand toe-to-toe with UEFA over the punishments which followed their rancorous response to Champions League defeat at the hands of Barcelona.

Precisely a week after European football’s overning body confirmed the Londoners would fight the bans handed out to striker Didier Drogba and right-back Jose Bosingwa, as well as an £85,000 club fine, the Blues revealed the reasoning behind their appeal.

A statement read: “We have today lodged an appeal against the UEFA bans given to Didier Drogba and Jose Bosingwa, and the fine imposed against the club.

“We believe these punishments are unnecessarily harsh given the circumstances.

“We would reiterate that the players and the club are acutely aware of our responsibilities towards setting a good example as role models and upholding the values of the game.

“That is why honest and sincere apologies were made swiftly after these regrettable incidents occurred.”

On June 17, Drogba was given a six-match ban – the last two suspended for two years – for his foul-mouthed confrontation with referee Tom Henning Ovrebo at the end of Chelsea’s 1-1 Champions League semi-final second-leg draw with Barcelona on May 6 – a result which sent the English side out on away goals..

UEFA’s control and disciplinary body also handed a four-match ban – the last game suspended for two years – to right-back Jose Bosingwa.

The Portugal defender labelled Ovrebo a “thief” after the same game, while the club received a fine of £85,000 for the improper conduct of their players and for the throwing of missiles by their supporters.

It all followed a controversial clash in which Ovrebo turned down a number of strong penalty appeals by Chelsea, which may have proved decisive before Andres Iniesta’s injury-time decider for the Catalans.

A date for an appeal hearing has yet to be revealed by UEFA.

Analysis:  When you stand in front of a live camera crew and call the referee “a f•••ing disgrace”, what’d you expect?  Drogba looked like a bigger disgrace as he waddled on to the field in his flip flops, pointing finger like a grandmother at anyone not in a blue shirt screaming in broken English for a penalty after the whistle had blown.  Granted, they had several good appeals dor penalties, they WEREN’T given.  Nothing will change that.  Ever.  Look at Lampard, he played the entire game, and even though he was upset (for great reason) he handled himself like a man. He showed in the interview afterwards that he was furious, but, again, took it like a man.  Again, I won’t take anything away from their penalty appeals.  They could have and should have had at least two if not three.

Bosingwa labeled Ovrebo a “thief” in a television interview, and will subsequently face a possible ban as well (even though reports are that he may not even be at the Bridge next season, as he is used as weight to bring Franck RIbery in).  Though both Drogba and Bosingwa retracted their statements…come on…they said it, and I’m sure the club forced them to take them back in order to avoid bans.

The 31 year old striker and 26 year old full back looked like children.

Likelihood of bans? – Almost undoubtedly they will face bans, possibly of four matches.  UEFA rarely overturns such punishments.

Grow up, kids.