Benítez minds the back as goals flow

September 29, 2009

“Liverpool FC manager Rafael Benítez has called on his free-scoring side to find the right balance between attack and defence as they travel to ACF Fiorentina looking for a second straight victory in Group E. The Reds have scored 16 times in their past four Premier League games but have also looked uncharacteristically vulnerable at the back, and Benítez would no doubt be delighted with the same 1-0 scoreline his side achieved against Debreceni VSC on Matchday 1 when they meet the Viola. After losing their first match at Olympique Lyonnais, Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli must now contend with an in-form Fernando Torres without his own star striker Alberto Gilardino, who is suspended.” (uefa)

Juventus-Bayern Munich: Five Questions for Bianconeri Glory at The Allianz
“For many fans, Juventus’ Champions League opener at home against French champions Bordeaux was a disappointing result to say the least. So many things that the team had been doing well weren’t executed whatsoever—the defense struggled, the strikers couldn’t score, and the midfield, who had been the anchor of the team, failed to impress. The result against Bordeaux started the current string of three draws in the last four matches. In that span, Juve have seen their perfect streak in Serie A snapped with a tie against Genoa a week ago and a so-so showing against Bologna this past Sunday.” (Bleacher Report)

Stimulating the Champions League
“Since introducing mini-leagues to replace the quarter-finals in 1991 and rebranding it the Champions League a year later, UEFA has tinkered endlessly with its premier club competition. Like an indecisive householder rearranging the front-room furniture, the suits in Switzerland have shifted group phases here and amended entry criteria there, changing beyond recognition a tournament that had gone untouched for the first 37 years of its existence.” (WSC)

Financial boost
“The European Club Association met recently in Geneva and the Magazine caught up with some of the representatives to find out just how revenue generated by the UEFA Champions League is helping clubs, both large and small.” (uefa)

Testing times for Van Gaal at Bayern
“The Champions League game between Bayern Munich and Juventus on Wednesday may ultimately prove to be one of the defining moments of Louis van Gaal’s career. It’s a bold statement to make considering that the notoriously authoritarian and rather taciturn 58-year-old Dutch coach, who took over at the German giants at the start of July, guided Ajax to the 1995 Champions League title.” (BBC)

UEFA Champions League and My DVR
“Now that the football gods have decided to share their love with satellite broadcasting there is a glut of high-level football to be had from the safety of one’s own home or favorite watering hole. The problem is that time zones, work hours, and weekend plans tend to interfere with one’s ability to sit down and watch games.” (albion road)

“The top two teams from each UEFA Champions League group go into the first knockout round in the spring, with the third-placed clubs to enter the UEFA Europa League Round of 32.” (uefa)

The view from the press box

September 29, 2009

“At some point early in the second half, Cristiano Ronaldo sets off from just over the half-way line and shoots a quick glance left and right to see if there is anyone worth sending a pass to. Deciding, as he often does, that a solo gallop into enemy territory might be the better option, he accelerates alarmingly into a pack of blue-shirted Tenerife defenders, who are vaguely assembled around the centre of their own half of the pitch.” (ESPN)

Grafite poses threat to Man Utd

September 29, 2009

“Manchester United might find themselves up against a striker with a point to prove when they take on Wolfsburg in the Champions League on Wednesday. Grafite almost certainly woke up last Thursday morning hoping that it would be his day. Coach Dunga was about to name Brazil’s squad for the final two rounds of World Cup qualification, away to Bolivia and at home to Venezuela, and with a place in South Africa already booked, there were likely to be some experiments.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)