The Reducer, Week 34: My Mind Is Playing Tricks on Me

April 26, 2012

“I will not invent light sabers. I will not be able to pull off the Ryan Gosling satin jacket from Drive if I decide to start rocking it. I will not grow old with the grace and dignity of John Slattery. I will not retire to an island off the coast of Dubai where I entertain myself in my latter days by watching robot greyhound races. Secretly, I fully expect all these things to happen. Hell, if it works for Roberto Mancini, why can’t it work for me?” Grantland

Real Madrid 2-1 Bayern Munich: Bayern through on penalties

April 26, 2012

“Bayern Munich will face Chelsea in the final, after overcoming Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. Jose Mourinho made one change from the first leg – at left-back, where Fabio Coentrao was left out after a difficult game in Munich, and Marcelo came in. Jupp Heynckes kept the same team from the first leg, in roughly the same formation. This game started brilliantly, but became increasingly cautious and then needed penalties to settle it. It was a very odd game with no overall pattern, so rather than the usual match overview, here’s ten disparate points…” Zonal Marking

Bayern Munich reach Champions League final after beating Real Madrid in dramatic penalty shoot-out
“It could still be a special one. Even without Jose Mourinho taking on his old Chelsea players, the 2012 Champions League final in Munich promises so much after Bayern Munich and Arjen Robben set up a May 19 date at their Allianz Arena home with Chelsea, Barcelona’s conquerors. So much for the Spanish inquisition.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Champions League Revenue – The Final Countdown

April 26, 2012

“Chelsea’s remarkable triumph over Barcelona in last night’s Champions League semi-final was a surprise, but no more than their old fashioned, backs to the wall display deserved. They might not have played the prettiest football, but the result made it all worthwhile in the end, as they could book their tickets to Munich for a sumptuous final against either Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. You can’t put a price on nights like that.” Swiss Ramble

Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea: Chelsea do an Inter 2010

April 25, 2012

“Chelsea produced an astonishing defensive display – and still created chances – to progress to the Champions League final. Pep Guardiola made the surprising decision to drop Daniel Alves, bringing back Gerard Pique in defence. Isaac Cuenca was fielded on the wing, and Cesc Fabregas in an attacking central midfield role. Roberto Di Matteo named an unchanged XI from the side that won 1-0 in the first leg, and set out in the same shape.” Zonal Marking

Chelsea reach Champions League final as Fernando Torres has final word in 2-2 draw against Barcelona
“What a night. What a display of defiance from Chelsea after the dismissal of John Terry for kneeing Alexis Sánchez. To the delight of their fans up in the Gods, 10 men went to mow a meadow, and thrillingly, amazingly, they cut mighty Barcelona, the European champions, the team of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta down to size.” Telegraph – Henry Winter (Video)

Barcelona’s stunning failure to beat Chelsea: What does it all mean?
“Barcelona’s failure to beat misfiring, mismatched, misbegotten 10-man Chelsea was one of the most surprising and indeed troubling results in recent history. It calls into question everything we thought we knew about the sport. Pep Guardiola’s free-flowing tiki-taka merchants are supposed to be the greatest team on the planet, if not the greatest team in history. So what went wrong?” SI

Torres stuns Barcelona and books Chelsea into Champions League final
“There are many emotions inspired by Chelsea’s arrival in the final but, more than anything, it is sheer wonder. They refused to be cowed after John Terry’s red card and deserve their place in Munich on 19 May because of the heroism that went into a night of rare achievement and glory. As triumphs in adversity go, the night they went down to 10 men and knocked out Barcelona on their own ground will take some beating.” Guardian (Video)

Stoic Barcelona fans refuse to say that the Pep Guardiola era is over
“Something strange happened in the dying moments of the semi-final. Fernando Torres had just scored the goal that ended Barcelona’s hopes of reaching the European Cup final, his eighth in 11 matches against the Catalans. Defeated by Real Madrid in the league, relinquishing the title, Chelsea had now knocked them out of the Champions League. In four days, Barça had lost virtually everything. But no one left and no one whistled; no one stayed silent. Instead, the chant went up. Soon it was going round right the stadium: Ser del Barça és el millor que hi ha! Being Barça fans is the best thing there is!” Guardian

Guardiola decision imminent
“Pep Guardiola has revealed he plans to make a decision on his Barcelona future in the coming days. Barcelona have endured a hugely disappointing week, with the home defeat to Real Madrid on Saturday all but ending their hopes of winning the league and a 2-2 draw with Chelsea at the Camp Nou on Tuesday resulting in their exit from the Champions League.”

Soccer Cities: Rio de Janeiro

April 24, 2012

“Rio de Janeiro may be the setting for world football’s showpiece event in 2014, at the newly refurbished Maracana stadium, but as far as domestic football goes the city has had to play second fiddle to both Sao Paulo and its neighbour Santos in recent seasons. Only two of the last 11 national championships have ended up in Rio, with Flamengo and Fluminense claiming successive titles in 2009 and 2010 respectively.” World Soccer

Liverpool 0 WBA 1: In-Depth Tactical Analysis

April 24, 2012

“Liverpool have won all five previous home games against West Brom in the Premier League without conceding a single goal. Going back further, the Baggies haven’t won any of their last 21 trips to Anfield (since 1967) in the top-flight (D4, L17). Overall, the Baggies have lost 10 of their 11 PL clashes with the Reds without troubling the scorers, winning the other 2-1 last season. Roy Hodgson’s win percentage as manager of West Brom (37%) is now higher than it was during his spell with Liverpool (35%). Liverpool have drawn a league-high nine home games this term.” Tomkins Times

Reading FC 2006 and 2012: a Comparative Perspective

April 24, 2012

“Reading’s extraordinary canter to the Championship title provokes inevitable comparison with the feat of their forebears of half a decade ago. The 106 points amassed by that vintage set a record and if we are yet to cover the 2005-6 Royals in our Great Football League Teams series, that’s not to ignore the best second tier XI of all time.” thetwounfortunates