11 December 2006

CHELSEA 2 (Shevchenko 27, Wright-Phillips 83)

Mourinho surprisingly fielded a strong side, despite having already secured qualification. Shevchenko made up for a bad early miss with an excellent first time strike, driving through the left side of the ball to send it curling into the bottom right corner of the net. Levski 'keeper Mitrev should have been sent off for doing a Schumacher (Harald not Michael) on Drogba, the ref didn't even give a penalty. Misfit SWP came off the bench to score his first ever Chelsea goal. He broke from midfield and played a one-two with Carvalho before drilling a low shot past Mitrev. Hilario, who has performed much better than Cudicini when called upon, made two excellent saves in quick succession. Mitrev wasn't bad either.

Attendance : 33,358
Assists : Lampard, Carvalho

BARCELONA 2 (Ronaldinho 13 (fk), Gudjohnsen 18)

Ronaldinho ended Bremen's slim chances of making the last 16 with a crafty low free kick which fizzed under the jumping Bremen wall and beyond the helpless Wise. Ronaldinho hit a pass out wide to Giuly and the extremely poor Gudjohnsen, who was standing in a clear offside position as the Frenchman received the pass, smashed the ball into the roof of the net.

Barca's chances of getting to the quarter-finals are good, despite the absence of Eto'o, unless they are the team that draw Lyon.

Attendance : 95,550
Assists : Ronaldinho (won fk), Giuly

22 November 2006

BARCELONA 2 (Giuly 5, Iniesta 65)

Barca were passing the ball around in midfield going absolutely nowhere until Zambrotta decided to add some urgency to the attack by running down the right flank and firing a cross into the box, the ball took a deflection off two Levski players and Giuly arrived with a late run to volley past Petkov. Iniesta smashed in a second on the rebound after Petkov failed to hold Deco's ferocious drive.

Barca have to beat Bremen in the Nou Camp to reach the last 16 and unless Deco and Ronaldinho are added to the injury list I don't see them blowing it.

Attendance : 38,000
Assists : n/a, n/a

BREMEN 1 (Mertesacker 27)

I know what everyone is thinking and they're probably right. It looked like Chelsea mailed this in - for starters Mikel started alongside Drogba in attack. Bremen scored from a corner either side of Mikel missing a sitter and Wiese denying Ballack with a brilliant save but the home side created the better chances and deserved their victory.

Attendance : 40,000
Assist : Frings (ck)

31 October 2006

BARCELONA 2 (Deco 3, Gudjohnsen 58)
CHELSEA 2 (Lampard 52, Drogba 93)

Deco dispossessed Boulahrouz on the half way line before charging down the left flank, he cut inside as the Chelsea defence backed off then thumped a shot between Terry's legs into the bottom corner. Ronaldinho should have made it 2-0 but blazed over from 12 yards following a tremendous pull back from Messi. Motta and Drogba traded off the ball fouls, on the second incident Rafael Marquez ran over and pushed Drogba to the ground. Unfortunately in their wisdom UEFA appointed the most incompetent and crooked ref in Serie A, Stefano Farina, and he missed it, either that or he decided not to do anything about it. Ballack wasted Chelsea's first chance with an awful shot from the edge of the box while at the other end Hilario saved brilliantly from Xavi after he ran on Ronaldinho's through pass. Valdez made two brilliant saves in quick succession, first from Essien after the midfield almost finished off a wonderful attack and from the resulting corner an even better save from Robben's half volley. Cole brought down Xavi from behind with an awful challenge. Having already been booked, Farina showed him another yellow card but failed to show the red as Cole walked away protesting his innocence. Farina walked over to Mourinho on the touchline, gave him a thumbs up then walked back and showed a yellow card to Messi. It turns out the first card was for Lampard (who did NOTHING) and not Cole. THE SPINELESS COWARD (Farina not Cole).

Valdes made another brilliant save from Robben at the start of the second half then the Dutchman missed an absolute sitter following superb work down Barca's right flank by Cole and Lampard. Lampard miss-controlled a Makelele cross, as the Barca defence stood appealing for offside he chased down the ball before it went out for a goal kick and from a ludicrous angle curled a right foot shot over Valdez and inside the right post. Ronaldinho pulled a Marquez long ball away from Boulahrouz, burst into the box, toe poked the ball across the face of goal leaving Gudjohnsen to slam in from close range. Gudjohnsen, who is totally out of place in such a high quality side, should have scored a second but wasted a fantastic Ronaldinho pass with an abysmal volley. Gudjohnsen was stretchered off after landing awkwardly under a challenge from Carvalho. Ballack missed another chance made for him by substitute Kalou. In injury time Essien hurdled Edmilson's cynical attempt to chop him down before running down the left flank, ignoring Joe Cole, and sending a cross towards the far post, Terry headed the ball down, as Drogba controlled it on his chest Marquez, who was kicking and diving all match, took another swing at him but Drogba resisted the temptation to go to ground and slotted past Valdez to give Chelsea a deserved equaliser.

This was a fantastic match with Chelsea outplaying and beating Barca at their own game i.e. playing inventive attacking football (not hacking and diving). Marquez's cynicism was only matched by Farina's incompetence.

Attendance : 98,000
Assists : n/a, Makelele, Ronaldinho, Terry

BREMEN 3 (Mihaylov 33 og, Baumann 35, Frings 37)

Eromoigbe played a back pass to his 'keeper Mihaylov, he tried to stop the ball but a heavy first touch took it into the back of his net. Bumann headed in Vranjes corner and Frings completed a miserable four minute spell for the Bulgarian's when he capitalised on confusion in the area caused by Hunt's slip, with a firm shot across goal.

Attendance : 40,000
Assists : n/a, Vranjes, Borimirov

18 October 2006

BREMEN 2 (Lucio 45 og, Diego 74)

Bremen took the lead right on half time, Naldo's free kick clipped Lucio in the Levski wall wrong footing Petkov. Diego punished terrible defending to seal victory in this battle for a UEFA Cup spot.

Attendance : 41,000
Assists : n/a, Klasnic

CHELSEA 1 (Drogba 47)

The second half was great. Drogba received a pass from Ashley Cole and with his left foot back heeled the ball through Puyol's legs then turned before blasting a right foot shot wide of Valdes. Chelsea defended deep and caught Barca on the break on several occasions. Essien selfishly shot at two defenders with Carvalho and Shevchenko free on either side of the box and Shevchenko missed an absolute sitter when Lampard left him with only Valdes to beat.

Chelsea should have made more of the high line Barca's defence were holding. Barca never threatened, Ronaldinho was anonymous.

Attendance : 45,999
Assist : A Cole

27 September 2006

BREMEN 1 (Puyol 56 og)
BARCELONA 1 (Messi 89)

Bam Bam Puyol, under pressure from Borowski, turned a cross from Aaron HUNT, yes that is his name and how I wish he has a brother named Mike, past a helpless Valdes. Eto'o was stretchered off with looked like a bad knee injury, possibly kneecap related. Deco destroyed the Bremen defence with an exquisite disguised pass into the box and Messi fired into the bottom right corner to give the Champions what was, on the balance of play, a deserved equaliser.

Attendance : 41,256
Assists : n/a, Deco

LEVSKI SOFIA 1 (Ognyanov 89)
CHELSEA 3 (Drogba 39, 52, 69)

Mourinho played an orthodox 4-4-2 with Mikel on the right and Lampard on the left, and Essien and Ballack in the middle, is it any wonder Shevchenko never scores or gets any chances? Drogba lashed in his first goal on the rebound after Mikel forced Petkov into making a great save. Drogba controlled a Bridge longball on his chest before turning and thumping a left foot shot at goal, Petkov got a touch, and really should have put the ball out for a corner, but it rolled into the back of the net. Drogba completed his hat-trick when he messed up a back heel but his luck was in tonight. An outrageous back-heel sent Ognyanov clear of the Chelsea defence and he hammered a lot shot into the corner finally beating Cech who was actually the difference between the two teams given they had an equal number of genuine chances.

Attendance : 27,950
Assists : n/a, n/a, Lampard, Yuvov

12 September 2006

CHELSEA 2 (Essien 24, Ballack 68 Pen)

Essien seized on a ridiculous mistake by Pasanen on the edge of his box to give Chelsea the lead. Ballack took over penalty duties from Lampard and duly converted with a venomous strike from the spot after the lively Drogba was pushed in the back.

Attendance : 35,000
Assists : n/a, Drogba (won pen)

BARCELONA 5 (Iniesta 7, Giuly 39, Puyol 49, Eto'o 58, Ronaldinho 93)

Iniesta got the Champions off to a flier in the pouring rain with a low drive from the edge of the box. Eto'o helped on Iniesta's quickly taken free to Giuly who cut in from the right before lifting the ball over a sprawling Petkov in the Levski goal. Puyol tapped in the third after Petkov spilled a Ronaldinho free kick. Man of the match Eto'o sent three defenders dizzy with a rapid changes of direction before surprising Petkov with a precise, slow shot. Ronaldinho made sure he grabbed the headlines with a fabulous fifth goal. Gathering a pass from Eto'o he forced Milanov back into his box, cut inside the defender and whipped the ball inside the top right corner of the net. World Cup hangover? Bollocks.

For the first time in their history Barcelona had shirt sponsorship, proudly displaying the Unicef logo that they actually paid for in a deal which brings the charity €1.5 million a season. At a time when clubs like Milan and Bremen have disgraced their shirts with logos of betting companies Barcelona club cannot be praised enough for this gesture.

Attendance : 65,000
Assists : Eto'o, Eto'o, n/a, Deco, Eto'o