14 March 2012

CHELSEA 4 (Drogba 29, Terry 48, Lampard 75 Pen, Ivanovic 105)
NAPOLI 1 (Inler 55)

Napoli started brightly and should have taken the lead when Maggio rolled a centre across goal to Cavani but he shot wide. Maggio went off with an injury shortly thereafter and proved to be a huge loss. Drogba got in front of donkey Aronica to head in a FANTASTIC Ramires cross. Terry was given the freedom of the box by Inler en route to heading Chelsea level and up on away goals. Inler made amends when he chested down a Terry clearance and rifled a shot past Cech. Zuniga ran onto a Cavani back heal and sold Cole a dummy before firing a shot towards goal, the ball beat Cech but hit Lavezzi and bounced to Ivanovic. Dossena conceded the penalty with a blatant handball. Torres missed an open goal after De Sanctis overshot a longball. Ramires poked a ball between Hamsik and Dossena to Drogba who in turned rolled a centre through Cannavaro's legs and Ivanovic smashed past De Sanctis.

Terrible, terrible result for football. Drogba was a disgrace, feigning injury and wasting time. He also did the Busquets 'remove hands from face to see what ref has given' trick. Cheating bastard. In case you didn't know who was running the club, Terry who was substituted on 98 minutes, was shouting instructions from the bench, complete with hand signals. The honeymoon period won't last forever. In playing the old guard Di Mateo is simply papering over the cracks.

Chelsea win 5-4 on aggregate.

Attendance : 37,784
Assists : Ramires, Lampard, n/a, n/a, Drogba

REAL MADRID 4 (Higuain 26, Ronaldo 55, Benzema 70, Ronaldo 90)
CSKA MOSCOW 1 (Tosic 77)

Khedira clipped a fantastic reverse cross over the CSKA defence to Kaka' and Higuain tapped in his centre. In trying to catch a long range shot CSKA's 'keeper Chepchugov, named after the spinning roundhouse kick combo in Street Fighter, fumbled the ball in his own net. Chepchugov ran off his line to block from Benzema but he couldn't hold and the Frenchman put away the rebound. Tosic sent Pepe flat on his arse with a great dummy before unloading with a left foot shot that cannoned in off the underside of the crossbar. A fantastic pass from Pepe left Benzema with the simple task of rolling a centre to Ronaldo for the fourth.

Far too easy. The relentless speed at which Real Madrid attack at is something else. Obvious second favourites behind Barcelona. Once Mourinho goes they'll cease being a threat. Defensively they're not that much better than Napoli in terms of individual talent.

Real Madrid win 5-2 on aggregate.

Attendance : 67,743
Assists : Kaka', Ramos, n/a, n/a, Dzagoev, Benzema

13 March 2012

BAYERN MUNICH 7 (Robben 11, Muller 42, Gomez 44, Gomez 50, Gomez 61, Gomez 67, Robben 81)

Basel blew chance after chance to clear crosses and the were punished at the third time of asking when Kroos deflected cross left Robben in the clear as the Basel defence appealed for offside. Robben swung in a fantastic cross from the left and Muller beat Sommer at his near post with a right foot volley. Bayern won a free kick on the edge of the box, Badstuber broke from the wall and rolled Kroos' delivery across goal and Gomez turned it over the line.

Gomez' second was a stunning mid-air left foot volley as Bayern continued to punish Basel's inability to deal with crosses. Bayern's fifth started with Lahm playing a ball to Muller on the left, two passes later Ribery has possession on the left edge of the box, he turned Steinhofer inside out before hanging up a cross for Gomez' hat-trick goal. Ribery further tormented Steinhofer before pulling back a center which Gomez emphatically smashed past Sommer. Muller made way for Schweinsteiger and he played a great pass inside Joo-Ho (yes that is his name) to Robben who skipped over Sommer's challenge before shooting into an empty net. Shame Gomez couldn't get a fifth.

If Bayern can keep everyone fit there's a match for anyone and if they get to the final I wouldn't bet against them winning on their home turf regardless of who they face.

Bayern win 7-1 on aggregate.

Attendance : 66,000
Assists : n/a, Robben, Badstuber, Ribery, Ribery, Ribery, Schweinsteiger

INTER 2 (Milito 75, Pazzini 93 Pen)
MARSEILLE 1 (Brandao 92)

The complete fuck ups that are Inter conspired to go out to a crushingly awful Marseille side. Old man Zanetti pulled back a centre for Sneijder who managed to hit Mandanda from six yards out despite having the entire goal to aim at. Mandanda's second save has to be seen to be believed. Milito met Sneijder cross with his chest, Mandanda, who was falling towards his right stuck out his left hand to block a shot that was headed for the inside of the left post. Unbelievable save.

Milito scrambled Inter level on aggregate from a corner. Fraud Cambiasso missed a free header 5 minutes from time before that lumbering piece of crap Lucio, who was done in 2010, committed an act of high treachery and sent Inter out of the competition. Mandanda booted a goalkick downfield, Lucio should have headed clear but missed and Brandao evaded Samuel's desperate sliding tackle to score. Seconds later Pazzini threw himself over Mandanda to earn him a red card and quarter-final first leg suspension.

I can't stand Deschamps and his Marseille side are as equally dull and devoid of quality as he was during his playing days. Hopefully they draw Milan in the next round.

Match is tied 2-2 on aggregate. Marseille win on away goals.

Attendance : 62,632
Assists : n/a, Mandanda, Pazzini (won pen)

7 March 2012

BARCELONA 7 (Messi 25, Messi 42, Messi 49, Tello 55, Messi 58, Tello 62, Messi 84)
LEVERKUSEN 1 (Bellarabi 90)

Barcelona shut down a Leverkusen attack and broke, Xavi sent Messi clear of a defence that tried to play offside on the half-way line and he took a touch before lobbing over Leno. Barcelona's second was also a lightning quick counter attack started by Mascherano. Iniesta found Messi on the right hand side of the penalty box and he beat three players before blasting low to the left.

Another failed offside trap, Bundesliga teams never learn, gifted Messi a hat-trick goal, it was another lob but this time, remarkably with hid dodgy right foot. Fabregas played in Tello on the overlap and he opened up his body before steering into the bottom right corner. Under pressure from Messi, Schwaab's tackle forced his own goalkeeper into a save, Leno couldn't hold the ball and from an acute angle Messi kissed the ball in off the opposite post. Leno fumbled again to hand Tello his second though the pass from Alves was superb. Messi hammered Keita's centre past a traumatised Leno to complete the rout and set a record for the most goals scored in a single game by one player - five. Bellarabi scored the pick of the goals, he played a one-two with Rolfes and as he received the midfielder's pass he sent a first time shot crashing into the top right corner.

Tello is named after 'Kojak' Telly Savalas, probably. Bundesliga teams should be banned from Europe until they stop playing the offside trap on the half way line.

Barcelona win 10-2 on aggregate.

Attendance : 75,632
Assists : Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Fabregas, n/a, Alves, Keita, Rolfes

APOEL 1 (Manduca 9)

Apoel cancelled out their first leg deficit inside the opening ten minutes. Ailton was fouled as he tried to control an Oliveira long ball, the ball broke to Charalambidis and he ran into the box before hooking a centre to the back post which Manduca finished emphatically. Chiotis made a meal of an Edersen free kick and the Brazilian should have hit the target but headed wide after Bastos swung in a peach of a cross. Cissokho headed a Sousa free kick against his own crossbar. Chiotis got his fingertips to a Lisandro Lopez header. Manduca was shown a second yellow card for fouling Audio Cassette, his first was for removing his shirt after scoring, what a dipshit.

Kallstrom - Firm to the left, sends Chiotis the wrong way
Ailton - Hard left, sends Lloris the wrong way
Lisandro - His shot bounces off the inside of the left post, hits Chiotis on the back of the head and goes in
Morais - Hard into the bottom left
Gomis - Hard and fast to the left thought Chiotis went the right way
Alexandrou - Straight down the pipe, Lloris dives to his right
Lacazette - Poor penalty at a perfect height for Chiotis who parries to his left
Trickovski - Into the bottom right corner, Lloris nowhere
Bastos - Goes for the same corner as Lacazette with the same result

Match is tied 1-1 on aggregate, Apoel win 4-3 on penalties.

Attendance : 18,500
Red Card : Manduca 115 (Apoel)
Assist : Charalambidis

6 March 2012

ARSENAL 3 (Koscielny 7, Rosicky 26, RVP 43 Pen)

Arsenal got the early goal they so craved when Van Bommel didn't track his runner, Koscielny, and the rest of the Milan defence didn't bother attacking a cross, something they had done so well in the first leg. Oxlade-Chamberlain, who gave Mesbah fits in the first half, fired in a centre and the normally impeccable Thiago Silva casually passed the ball out of defence straight to Rosicky, 2-0. A couple of passes following a goalkick saw Mesbah scrambling back to his box as Oxlade-Chamberlain advanced, Mesbah blocked him as Nocerino came in from behind effectively making him the meat in the sandwiched, penalty. Van Persie almost tore a hole in the net. Emanuelson ran through a Koscielny tackle before finding El Shaarawy free on the right, as WS advanced the youngster fluffed his lines and shot wide with the goal at his mercy.

WS had to dive at the feet of Ibrahimovic after he had been found by Robinho. Van Bommel carelessly lost the ball in midfield and Arsenal broke through Rosicky, Gervinho's shot took a deflection off Mexes but Abbiati saved brilliantly with his feet, the ball broke to RVP and from six yards he tried to lob Abbiati but he flung up his right arm to block then grabbed the ball in his hands. Arsenal were a spent force after that, both wingers were eventually substituted due to injury. WS under kicked a pass to Song, Ibrahimovic intercepted and from 25 yards out failed to hit the target. Ibrahimovic stung WS hands with a speculative effort and Aquilani, back after two months out with an ankle problem fashioned what should have been the coup de grace. He returned an Emanuelson throw in with a back-heal, Emanuelson passed to Robinho, Robinho fed Aquilani as he burst into the box and angled a pass around Vermaelen, with only WS to beat Nocerino shot straight at him.

Milan played the second half as they should have the first. Allegri's switch to a 4-3-3 tactic, having already built up a substantial first leg lead, was one of the most careless decisions ever seen in a knockout tie. I fail to see why Arsenal have been praised for this or the fight backs against Spurs and Liverpool in recent weeks. If Wenger wasn't so clueless tactically he wouldn't have to run his players into the ground. In the last two games Arsenal have loss no less than 5 players to injury - Benayoun, Arteta, Diaby, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Sometimes it's better to take a loss and live to fight another day.

Sore loser Wenger refused to shake the hand of a UEFA official post match and has since been hit with a improper conduct charge following his post match comments which went something like "moan moan moan, moan moan moan, moan moan moan".

Here's hoping Milan draw Arsenal again next season, so they can thrash them home and away.

Milan win 4-3 on aggregate.

Attendance : 59,973
Assists : AOC (ck), n/a, AOC (won pen)

BENFICA 2 (Pereira 46, Oliveira 93)

Witsel swapped passes with Bruno Cesar as he ran into the box, Malafeev made a great point blank save but as the ball rebounded to Witsel he showed tremendous awareness to play a back-heal centre to his left for Pereira to score on the stoke of half time. Benfica also scored late in the second half - on a counter attack. Bruno Cesar fed Oliveira and his shot went in via a deflection off Hubocan.

Spalletti may rule the roost domestically but if Zenit are to be a force in Europe they need a much, much better tactician.

Benfica win 4-3 on aggregate.

Attendance : 48,909
Assists : Witsel, Cesar

22 February 2012

BASEL 1 (Stocker 86)

Ribery beat Basel's offside trap to chest down a Robben cross, he brilliantly turned inside Abraham only to be denied by a superb left handed save. Lahm set him up for another chance after charging down a clearance and this time Sommer saved at the opposite post with his right hand. Neuer went one better at the other end with an extraordinary point blank save from Dragovic's bullet header, he tipped the ball against a post and Badstuber hacked the ball off the line. Minutes later Park played a one-two on the edge of the box before angling a pass out to the unmarked Alexander Frei who slammed a shot against the crossbar. Sommer brought an excellent first half to a close with another fine save, this time from Alaba. The second half failed to match the first but at least produced a goal. Substitute Zoua ran across the penalty area before finding fellow substitute Stocker in space with a sudden pass, Stocker took a touch slotting into the bottom right corner.

23 year old Sommer looks an excellent prospect. More performances like this and he'll earn a move to a bigger Champions League club. Hopefully he has the good sense to stay at Basel, who have an excellent chance of giving him regular Champions League football, instead of joining some crappy mid-table EPL side.

Attendance : 36,000
Assist : Zoua

MARSEILLE 1 (Ayew 92)

There was a good early chance for Forlan but he volleyed at Mandanda. Either side and it would have been a goal. Sneijder released Cambiasso with a gorgeous angled left footed pass, Cambiasso pulled the ball back - for Zarate who timidly passed to Mandanda. Why the hell Milito and Pazzini weren't playing is a mystery. Forlan flicked on a Sneijder free kick but Stankovic failed to trouble Mandanda with a meek finish. Marseille, who were bloody awful, won a late corner when Julio Cesar made a meal of an Ayew shot. As Valbuena swung in the corner Samuel was lucky to get away with pushing over Jordan Ayew while his brother, Andre, headed in the winner.

Deschamps is such an awful, negative prick. I can't stand the way his teams play. If Inter do something brave, like sacking Ranieri and appointing Capello, there's no reason they can't beat Marseille in the return.

Attendance : 35,000
Assist : Valbuena (ck)

21 February 2012

CSKA MOSCOW 1 (Wernbloom 92)
REAL MADRID 1 (Ronaldo 28)

Berezutski gave away the ball in the penalty box when he underhit a header, Higuain intercepted and passed back to Coentrao, another poor defensive header followed and this time Ronaldo was on hand to punish the mistake with a crisp left foot drive. Callejon should have made more of a fantastic Ronaldo reverse pass. Outside of a counter attack Musa wasted CSKA offered little as you would expect of a side that hadn't played a competitive game for 3 months. Ronaldo could have had a hat-trick. In injury time Berezutski bravely headed on a Dzagoev free kick, almost catching Arbeloa's high foot to the face, and Wernbloom slammed a left foot volley past Casillas.

A predictable result given the circumstances. From the 2012-2013 season, when the Eastern Euro's follow the traditional football colander, expect a dramatic improvement in the spring performances of CSKA Moscow, Zenit, Chaka Khan etc, etc.

Attendance : 72,819
Assists : n/a, Berezutski

NAPOLI 3 (Lavezzi 38, Cavani 45, Lavezzi 65)
CHELSEA 1 (Mata 27)

Cech saved brilliantly with his feet to deny Cavani and then Maggio as he made an overlapping run onto a Lavezzi pass. Cannavaro horribly sliced a clearance after Gargano had cheaply given the ball away and Mata steered a volley past De Sanctis. David Luiz had a chance to make it 0-2 from a corner but headed over. Cavani cut infield from the left and gave the ball to Lavezzi, three players went with him anticipating the return pass allowing Lavezzi to run into the space and slam a shot inside Cech's left post. Ramires almost did a carbon copy goal at the other end but having wrong footed the Napoli defence he blazed over. A confused Chelsea defence, who continued to chase after the man in possession in packs like schoolchildren left Inler in acres of space, he swung over a cross to the back post and Cavani used his shoulder to put the ball in the back of the net.

10 minutes into the second half Lavezzi wasted a chance on the break, dragging a shot wide after Cavani played him in. More hopeless defending, this time from Aronica almost gifted Drogba an equaliser and from the resulting corner Cahill headed wide. Aronica hit a longball down the left flank, Cavani charged down Luiz's clearance, danced around Cech and rolled the ball to Lavezzi who smashed into an empty net. In attempting to make a clearance Lampard, on as a second half substitute, gave the ball to Cavani on the edge of the D, he slipped a ball inside to Hamsik, he checked inside er Cech, sending him on his backside and rolled a pass to the unmarked Maggio only for Cole to deny him with a fantastic clearance off the line.

Chelsea's away goal is largely irrelevant. It's difficult to see Napoli failing to score in the return and they've got three relatively easy fixtures before they head to London while the pressure is only going to build on Chelsea and on AVB who must be fearing for his job despite the apparent support of the buffoon Abramovich.

Attendance : 60,000
Assists : n/a, Cavani, Inler, Cavani

15 February 2012

ZENIT ST PETERSBURG 3 (Shirokov 27, Semak 71, Shirokov 88)
BENFICA 2 (Pereira 20, Cardozo 87)

Zenit's back-up goalkeeper Zhevnov's awful handling almost cost his side dearly in this tie. Zhevnov spilled a Cardozo free kick and Uruguayan midfielder Pereira, who most will remember from the World Cup, tapped in the rebound. Fayzulin returned a throw in to Hubocan, he swung over a first time cross and Shirokov equalised with a brilliant low volley. Semak scored one of the goals of this or any season. Denisov hit a firm first time cross over the top of two Benfica defenders, Kerzhakov ran across them and kept the ball in play with a back heal volley, Bystrov volleyed the ball on and Shirokov jumped in the air and came down on it with the back heal of his right foot and it bounced in off the post. Absolutely extraordinary. Zhevnov spilled another weak effort, this time from Gaitan, and Cardozo equalised but within a minute Zenit were deservedly back in front. Maxi Pereira miss controlled when attempted to clear a cross, his goalkeeper rushed off his line and dived at his feet and in the confusion Shirokov rolled into an empty net.

Attendance : 18,200
Assists : n/a, Hubocan, Bystrov, n/a, n/a

MILAN 4 (Boateng 15, Robinho 38, Robinho 49, Ibrahimovic 79 Pen)

Prior to the match I suggested if Mesbah and El Shaarawy started Milan would win figuring Robinho would continue his poor league form but he delivered and Arsenal failed to get at the teams only weak link - Antonini.

Milan appeared to suffer a blow when Mr. Champions League Seedorf had to leave with an injury on 12 minutes but as it turned out Emanuelson's greater power and pace was better suited to today's fetch and carry tactics than his disastrous outings as trequartista. Szczesny, under no pressure, booted a goal-kick to Nocerino. He dropped a pass between two defenders to Boateng and he trapped the ball on his chest before sending a rasping half volley crashing in off the underside of the crossbar from an improbable angle. Magnificent goal. Van Bommel, who had an outstanding game, intercepted a poor defensive header and passed to fellow Dutchman Emanuelson, operating in his natural position on the left, Emanuelson sent a ball down the line to Ibrahimovic, who was a few inches offside, as he ran into the box he put his right foot over the top of the ball to kill the pace then pulled back a low left foot cross which Robinho met with a stooping header on the run into the far corner. Exquisite skill from the giant Swede. Boateng should have scored a second but wasted a glorious Ibrahimovic pass.

Ibrahimovic had drifted out to the left, he passed the ball infield to Robinho, possibly looking to play a one-two, Vermaelen slipped and Robinho seized on the space to drive a low shot inside the left post. Henry's final contribution before he departed for the US was a fabulous back heal volleyed pass which Van Persie caught on the drop and Abbiati saved brilliantly. Djourou reacted to being sold a dummy by Ibrahimovic with a hand on the chest, conceding a soft penalty. Szczesny guessed right but the shot was perfectly placed. A couple of late chances fell to substitute Pato but fortunately he wasn't around from the start to screw things up.

Attendance : 64,462
Assists : Nocerino, Ibrahimovic, Ibrahimovic, Ibrahimovic (won pen)

14 February 2012

LYON 1 (Lacazette 58)

Attendance : 32,010
Assist : n/a

LEVERKUSEN 1 (Kadlec 52)
BARCELONA 3 (Sanchez 41, Sanchez 55, Messi 88)

Messi intercepted after Reinartz miss controlled and he sent Sanchez away for the opener. Corluka somehow managed to swing the ball around Abidal and Kadlec towered above Adriano to score with a spectacular diving header. Fabregas sent Sanchez between two defenders and he tore up the ground before rounding Leno and tapping into an empty net. Renato Augusto should have scored a second equaliser and Castro hit the base of the right post. Kiessling headed straight into the arms of Valdez then gave the ball away with an awful pass across midfield to Messi, who had earlier hit the woodwork, he held off Reinartz, passed the ball wide to Alvez who unselfishly centred, 1-3. Game, set and next round.

Attendance : 29,412
Assists : Messi, Corluka, Fabregas, Alves