Daily Archives: February 20, 2012

Madrid-Barca dispute over Spanish Cup final venue a divisive saga

“Even when it’s not about them it’s about them. The big issue in Spain over the last week or so has been the final of the Copa del Rey: wherever you look, they’re indulged in the same, familiar argument. Seeped in the same hatred and the same suspicion, it follows familiar lines — the constant search to feel offended, to demonstrate the other side’s moral inferiority. A playground argument: You started it, no you did. You’re the bad guys, no you are. Everyone everywhere seems to be talking about the rivalry between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona and how that will play out at the Spanish Cup final.” SI, W – Copa del Rey

Barcelona 5-1 Valencia: Valencia do their Nou Camp usual – start well, then tire in second half February 19, 2012
“Lionel Messi hit four goals as 2nd-placed Barcelona thrashed 3rd-placed Valencia. Pep Guardiola was without the suspended Daniel Alves, so Martin Montoya played at right-back. Xavi Hernandez was only fit enough for the bench. At the back, Gerard Pique returned after being left out in the 3-1 Champions League win over Leverkusen in the week. Unai Emery was without Jordi Alba from the start, so played Jeremy Mathieu at left-back, rather than in the left wing position he’s thrived in against Barcelona in the past. Ever Banega’s strange injury ruled him out.” Zonal Marking

A Most Unusual English Season

“All in all, this has been a very strange season at the summit of English football. Very little has felt normal. After Liverpool’s slip from the top four slots a couple of seasons back, the Reds have found themselves in a catch-22: needing better players to get into the Champions League, but better players want to already be in the Champions League. It’s an odd situation.” Tomkins Times

Bayern Munich – Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)

“Despite a couple of below par performances in the new year, this season still holds a lot of promise for Bayern Munich. They currently sit in second place in the Bundesliga just two points behind reigning champions Borussia Dortmund, have reached the semi finals of the DFB-Pokal (German Cup) and comfortably won their Champions League group.” Swiss Ramble

The importance of potent partnerships

“Of the many images football has left in my mind, one of the most intriguing comes from a pre-match warm up more than 15 years ago. Flamengo were about to play Internacional in the Brazilian Championship. Reunited for the first time since winning the World Cup just over two years earlier, Romario and Bebeto were exchanging passes. Bebeto was sleek and somehow vulnerable, like a cheetah. Romario was stocky and merciless, a perfect hyena. The two made natural hunting partners. It is inconceivable that Brazil would have won USA 94 without them.” BBC – Tim Vickery

Bayern’s capture of Shaqiri a coup

“FC Bayern Munich has been following Xherdan Shaqiri’s progress keenly since September 2010, when the Swiss winger’s raw ability was noticed in two Champions League meetings with FC Basel at the age of 18. ‘If Bayern was to call, I wouldn’t have to think too long,’ Shaqiri said at the time, in response to Swiss media speculation that the Germans were interested to secure his services. Bayern kept tabs on the player and asked Basel keep the lines of communication open.” SI

Three own goals aid Liverpool

“Brighton contributed an amazing three own goals to Liverpool’s biggest win since September 2009 as the Reds booked an FA Cup sixth round meeting with Stoke. Liam Bridcutt twice turned the ball into his own net, the first, just before half-time after Kazenga Lua Lua had levelled Martin Skrtel’s early header proving crucial. Lewis Dunk also scored an own goal, although Reds boss Kenny Dalglish will be more pleased that man-of-the-match Andy Carroll was also on target before setting up Luis Suarez, who had already missed a penalty as he hunted for his first goal since completing his eight-match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra.” ESPN

Match Of The Week: Liverpool 6-1 Brighton & Hove Albion
“There’s history here, you know. When Liverpool were the kings of English and European football, Brighton & Hove Albion had a curious habit of being able to dump them out of the FA Cup. They did it at Anfield on the way to Wembley in 1983, and then again at The Goldstone Ground the following year. Times have changed since then, of course. It’s more than two decades since the league championship last ventured to Merseyside, and over that time Brighton have been to hell and back. As of today, however, they remain on upward trajectory. The new ground is completed and ready for expansion, if or when required, and the team sits in ninth place in the Championship table – still well in touch with a play-off place.” twohundredpercent