La Copa De La Espana Libre

March 30, 2012

1937 map showing the areas held by Republicans in white and Nationalist areas in grey
“In 1937, at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, Republican areas of Spain formed la Liga del Mediterraneo (the Mediterranean League) and la Copa de le Espana Libre (the Free Spain Cup) as the national league was suspended. These competitions mark a period many in Spain would like to forget, but one club wants them officially recognised. The competitions are just as important because of the teams that were omitted as they are for those that took part. Held in the Republican strongholds of Valencia and Barcelona, the most notable omissions were Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao.” In Bed With Maradona

Talking Tactics: What Barcelona can expect from Milan in San Siro

March 30, 2012

“Barcelona travel to Italy this week in the Champions League to face Serie A leaders AC Milan, having scrapped through 4-3 on aggregate against Arsenal in the last sixteen. Arsenal suffered from a poor first leg, where they lost 4-0 and were tactically played off the park, but this was turned around in the second leg as Wenger was willing to pinpoint Milan’s weaknesses (lack of width and an over reliance on counter attacks) and exploit them. Here are five things Barcelona can expect from their visit to the San Siro…” Just Football

All Elbows and Ugly

March 30, 2012

“Because he looks ridiculous, is a streaky player, has pixie cheekbones despite being 6-foot-7, reads as ‘posh’ and ‘soft’ in a sport that complicatedly worships killers with no nerves in their knuckles, has a sense of humor, is married to a woman who is noticeably hotter than he is, and tends to be photographed in the process of transforming himself into comedic aerial hieroglyphs — e.g., this, and this and this — Peter Crouch gets a bad rap. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that Peter Crouch is not often judged with the benefit of nuance.” Grantland (Video)

The downward spiral

March 30, 2012

“Late March, and if you listen carefully you can – in the parlance of a certain puce-cheeked knight of the realm – hear the sound of bums starting to squeak. So, time to cast an eye over the teams who this May are most likely to be swapping the preening pros, plastic fans and prawn sandwiches of the Premier League for the Bovril, goal celebration music and cheerleaders of the Championship. In descending order…” thetwounfortunates

Liverpool: Kenny Needs To Copy Newcastle’s Transfer Strategy

March 30, 2012

“After transforming his side’s fortunes last season and investing significantly over the summer, expectations were high for Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool heading in to this season. Unfortunately, the season has not played out as the Anfield faithful had hoped it would. The Reds have been something of a Jekyll and Hyde side: still unbeaten in cup competitions and well on course for a domestic cup double, but infuriatingly inconsistent in the Premier League and far from where many had expected them to be. They slumped to their fifth defeat in their last six league games – an uninspiring, lethargic 2-1 loss at home to relegation battling Wigan – and fans are beginning to turn on the very man that has long been revered as royalty at Anfield.” Sabotage Times

Milan 0-0 Barcelona: lots of little battles

March 29, 2012

“Both sides created chances, neither found the net. Max Allegri was without various players, most notably centre-back Thiago Silva. However, Robinho was fit to start upfront. Pep Guardiola named Carles Puyol at left-back, and used Seydou Keita in midfield with Cesc Fabregas only on the bench. A brief summary of the tactical battle? Milan often did well to crowd out Barca’s attacks, but Barca should have stretched them more. There wasn’t a key battle, nor an overall tactical theme – but instead plenty of small areas of interest.” Zonal Marking

Milan frustrates Barcelona in Champions League draw
“AC Milan held Barcelona to an entertaining 0-0 draw on Wednesday in the opening leg of the quarterfinals, the first time in 30 matches and more than two years that the Spanish team had been held scoreless in the Champions League. The last time Barcelona failed to score in the Champions League was in the 0-0 draw with Rubin Kazan in November 2009.” SI

Antonini delighted to deny Barcelona
“A timely tackle from Luca Antonini proved crucial in allowing AC Milan to hold FC Barcelona 0-0 in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday, and the Player Rater Top Player told ‘I’m happy and proud about the way I played and we played.'” UEFA (Video)

Champions League goalless draw gives Milan hope for Barcelona leg
“As Massimiliano Allegri pointed out after watching his side hold Barcelona to a goalless draw on Wednesday night, two of the possible results at the Camp Nou next week will see Milan through to the semi-finals of the Champions League. A win would be good, but a draw with goals would do just fine.” Guardian

Milan hold Barca in stalemate
“AC Milan held Barcelona to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the teams’ Champions League quarter-final at the San Siro. Milan should have been ahead just after the kick-off as Robinho found himself in space in the area, but he was unable to keep his close-range volley down.” ESPN

Bayern take big step towards semi-finals

March 29, 2012

“Marseille’s decision to field third-choice goalkeeper Elinton Andrade backfired as his mistake gifted Bayern Munich the opening goal in their Champions League quarter-final. The 32-year-old, preferred to number two Gennaro Bracigliano with first choice Steve Mandanda suspended, allowed Mario Gomez’s shot to squirm under his body in the 44th minute of the first leg at the Stade Velodrome.” ESPN

Kalou secures vital away win for Blues
“Chelsea may not be as good as they used to be but even a makeshift line-up was strong enough to put them in touching distance of the Champions League semi-finals. There was as little to fear from Benfica as Didier Drogba allegedly indicated, the side that helped eliminate Manchester United producing arguably one of the most toothless performances ever witnessed in a quarter-final home leg.” ESPN

Benzema brace puts Real on brink of semis
“Substitute Kaka sparkled and Karim Benzema scored twice as Real Madrid finally broke down Cypriot underdogs APOEL in Nicosia. The Brazil international was introduced in the 63rd minute and set up Benzema for a 74th-minute opener before tucking away fellow sub Marcelo’s excellent cutback eight minutes later.” ESPN