Two losses out of two? There’s still hope …

October 7, 2015

“Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Malmö and Maccabi Tel-Aviv have the unwanted tally of zero points from two UEFA Champions League games – but their hopes have not completely died. This is the 13th season since the current UEFA Champions League format of eight groups leading to a knockout round of 16 was introduced in 2003/04. In the first 12 campaigns, 68 teams lost their opening two matches; yet of those, six still made it through to the next stage, one actually topping their group. Our graphic explains how many sides have gone through or been eliminated after having each of the six possible points’ totals following matchday two – while beneath we chronicle the six clubs that shook off the worst possible start to earn a knockout berth.” UEFA

“Idiotism, they shame us” – Russian clubs foul up again

October 2, 2015

“I gave my tickets to last Saturday’s Spartak Moscow – Zenit St. Petersburg showdown to a German friend and his colleague. They were mad to taste something local and, like the vast majority of ‘Western’ residents, never had the chance or initiative to score tickets. I’d an idea to take Timur, but since he’s a Lokomotivnik I figured best not to confuse the child. He’d already started supporting Mayo this August when I took him to Croker. He figured it was okay as they have the same colour shirts of Lokomotiv. Even when pointed out to him the difference between Gaelic Football and Soccer, he simply said ‘Football is football.’ Hard to argue with a child’s logic.” backpagefootball

What English clubs can learn from the transfer mastery of Shakhtar, Lyon and Porto

October 2, 2015

“At first glance, there’s really not a lot of similarity between war-torn Donetsk, debt-ridden Porto and metropolitan Lyon. The urban trio are not the surprise frontrunners for European city of culture, nominated by a hipster whose concerns are more esoteric than realistic, nor are they the latest cities to be twinned with Slough, a dystopia desperate to ship its industrial reputation for a bright European future. The answer, in truth, lies with three men you’ve likely never heard of.” backpagefootball

In light of Lewandowski, five most dominant performances of all time

September 24, 2015

“At halftime on Tuesday night, Wolfsburg led Bayern Munich 1-0. It had defended well, looked dangerous on the counterattack and seemed that it might, for the first time in its history, win at Bayern. Pep Guardiola made two changes at the break, bringing on Javi Martinez for Juan Bernat and Robert Lewandowski for Thiago Alcantara. Six minutes later, Lewandowski equalized, rolling in a half-blocked shot at the back post. A minute later, surging through the middle, he dispatched a fierce low shot into the bottom corner from just outside the box. Three minutes after that, he hit the post, then drew a save from Diego Benaglio and then, at the third attempt, completed his hat trick. Two minutes after that, he rammed in a volley at slightly higher than waist height, contorting superbly to keep his weight over the ball. And two minutes after that, hooking the ball from behind him, he lashed in a side volley from the edge of the box. Five goals, three of them in stunning quality, in the space of nine minutes.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Four Incredible Things That Happened in Bayern Munich–Wolfsburg BESIDES Robert Lewandowski’s Five Goals
“Yesterday, in the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich found themselves in an unfamiliar position: They were losing. This usually isn’t the end of the world for a team, especially one as good as the defending champions, but Bayern happen to be locked in what will likely be the most entertaining title race in club football this season. Bayern and their rivals Borussia Dortmund — who might be playing the most effervescent version of the sport right now — are steamrolling the competition, winning their matches and winning them big. Every game counts. Every goal counts. The entire league might be decided by the two matches that Dortmund and Bayern play against one another and how many goals they score throughout the season. Bayern losing to Wolfsburg, at home no less, was not on the menu.” Grantland (Video)

Barcelona beaten 4-1, Juve problems continue

September 24, 2015

“Barcelona suffered a big shock and Juventus stuttered again while Real Madrid and Lyon impressed. We round up how the group stage contenders got on in Wednesday’s action.” UEFA

Living on the edge – footballers under threat in Russia

September 24, 2015

“… One of the last half-dozen straws that broke my back in the day-to-day grind of sports was what happened to another player with whom I went through the same process. He signed for a D2 Central team and received 20,000rbs on his contract and another 20,000rbs black. As a favour to his Dad I helped him negotiate the deal. He got a break alright, as well as cuts and bruises which left him in a regional hospital for three days. I was in Voronezh and visited him. His story was nothing uncommon. No pay from November and a showdown with the Sports Director in April.” backpagefootball

Florenzi boosts Roma; Bayern shines, Arsenal flops in Champions League

September 18, 2015

“A brilliant goal from Alessandro Florenzi earned Roma a 1-1 draw against Barcelona in the highest-profile clash on the second half of Matchday One of the Champions League, while there was further disappointment for the Premier League as Arsenal was beaten away to Dinamo Zagreb, 2-1. Chelsea, though, did record a comfortable victory, 4-0 over Maccabi Tel Aviv to relieve some of the mounting pressure on Jose Mourinho, while there were a pair of comfortable wins for the two Bundesliga sides in action: Bayern Munich winning 3-0 away to Olympiakos and Bayer Leverkusen thumping BATE Borisov 4-1 at home.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


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