Barcelona 0-3 Bayern: Bayern untroubled at the back & consistently dangerous down the flanks

May 3, 2013

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“Bayern produced another highly impressive performance to qualify for the Champions League final with ease. Tito Vilanova decided not to risk the half-fit Lionel Messi, so Cesc Fabregas played as the false nine. David Villa replaced Alexis Sanchez, while Alex Song was in for the injured Sergio Busquets, and Adriano for the suspended Jordi Alba. Jupp Heynckes brought back Mario Mandzukic for Mario Gomez, and Daniel van Buyten played rather than Dante. Bayern replicated last week’s second half performance – they pressed before retreating into a solid defensive shape, then counter-attacked expertly.” Zonal Marking

Bayern Munich outclasses Barcelona en route to Champions League final
” Arjen Robben finished the tie off three minutes after halftime at Camp Nou, but in truth, it was finished a week ago at Allianz Arena. Bayern Munich completed the task, a 3-0 win and 7-0 aggregate, with rather less alarm than Borussia Dortmund had against Real Madrid the previous night, and so there will be, as had always seemed likely after the first legs, an all-German Champions League final. The astonishing thing about this Barcelona side is how far it has fallen and how fast. With Lionel Messi consigned to the bench by his hamstring injury, Barca was flat and, essentially, devoid of hope. What was startling in Munich last week was not that it lost; this is, after all, an exceptional Bayern team, but how it lost discipline, how it allowed the tie to be ended in the first leg.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Early look at what to watch in all-German Champions League final

May 3, 2013

“1. The (future) ex-factor. Mario Götze, Dortmund’s playmaker, is off to Bayern in the summer. Robert Lewandowski, Dortmund’s center forward, has (off the record) agreed to join Bayern, either this summer (should Dortmund release him) or next. Götze is in a race to recover from a hamstring tear in time for the showdown in North London, but conspiracy theorists will have a field day if any of the two take the pitch. Will they have divided loyalties, can they be relied upon to give their all for their old team against their new ones?” SI


Real Madrid 2-0 Dortmund: Modric finds his role and Real’s Plan B increases the pressure

May 3, 2013

“Real Madrid created enough chances to get back in the tie, but Dortmund progress to the final. Jose Mourinho left out Sami Khedira to field a very technical midfield trio, while Angel Di Maria and Michael Essien returned, and Sergio Ramos was back in the centre of defence. Jurgen Klopp unsurprisingly named an unchanged starting XI from the first leg, although was forced to replace the injured Mario Gotze with Kevin Grosskreutz early on, with Marco Reus moving to a central role. Real’s starting shape resulted in an early spell of pressure – and their Plan B caused problems too.” Zonal Marking


When Rachid Mekhloufi took the struggle for Algerian independence to the pitch

May 3, 2013

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“In April 1958, Rachid Mekhloufi, the great St. Etienne striker was 21 years old. Mekhloufi along with nine other players, left their careers in France and returned to Tunis to comprise the first FLN squad. They were playing for a country that did not yet exist. Algeria was in the beginnings of an uprising against its’ colonizer France. Their move would be analyzed, critiqued and applauded by many.” A Football Report

“From Meghni to Yebda, the French academy system has produced many players who have represented Algeria. Long before Algeria’s independence, though, it wasn’t quite so easy. Juliet Jacques looks at early French-Algerian relations in football. In April 1958, Rachid Mekhloufi stood on the brink of international superstardom. Having scored 25 goals in thirty games to help AS SaintÉtienne win their first Championnat the year before, Mekhloufi was about to win his fifth France cap in a friendly against Switzerland, with coach Paul Nicolas including him in the forty-man preselection for Les Bleus’ highly fancied World Cup squad.”
Spiel Magazine

Football Rebels: Mekhloufi and the FLN team
“The FLN football team raised the profile of Algeria’s independence movement. And Rachid Mekhloufi was one of the brave men who refused to play for France. French footballing legend Eric Cantona presents the next part of Al Jazeera’s Football Rebels series.” Aljazeera (Video)


Serie A’s battle for third down to Milan, Fiorentina

May 3, 2013

“OK, hands up, who remembers Serie A? After a fortnight where the major talking point has been the Bundesliga’s dominance over La Liga — with the Premier League chipping in with some end-of-season awards — Italian football has taken a backseat. It’s a position Italy has increasingly become accustomed to. Once revered as the finest league in Europe, there’s still much to recommend Serie A — but the UEFA coefficients now firmly rank it as the fourth-best league in Europe. Serie A boasts no semifinalists in either the Champions League or the Europa League, and it has featured an exciting title fight. Juventus have been on course for the title throughout the campaign, effectively ending the contest with their 1-1 draw away at closest challengers Napoli, who will finish second. Attention has turned to the battle for third.” ESPN – Michael Cox


Should Liverpool Sell Suarez?

May 3, 2013

“With his bags of skills and sheer quality on the pitch, it is hardly of any surprise that Luis Suarez is attracting so much attention from the top dogs of the European Football fraternity. Liverpool managed to repel off buyers only as recently as last summer, but their failure in qualifying for the Champions League this season too poses the stern question that will they manage to pull that off again this time? On Suarez’s part, will he give in to the lucrative offers of the Champions League clubs or stay back trying to help Liverpool in the pursuit of that elusive top 4 finish? Not to mention his perceived mistreatment in England by the authorities and media.” Outside of the Boot