4 April 2012

CHELSEA 2 (Lampard 21 Pen, Meireles 92)
BENFICA 1 (Garcia 85)

Javi Garcia checked Cole to concede the penalty. Cardozo had a shot cleared off the line and Pereira was shown a complete bullshit red card. He overran a ball, slid across the turf to tackle Mikel, barely made contact and Mikel of course rolled around like a punk bitch, second yellow, off.

Kalou rolled a centre across goal, Ramires failed to connect and it hit the right post before rolling to safety. Torres, Kalou and Mata missed further chances. Benfica suddenly, finally showed up, possibly due to Chelsea fatigue. Cech was forced to saved with his feet from Olivera and made a phenomenal one handed stop to claw away Djalo's goalbound effort. In terms of shot stopping Cech is back to his very best. Javi Garcia rose high above a static Chelsea defence to head in the equaliser. Chelsea were on the ropes but useless, overrated, never had it midget Aimar gave away the ball with a lousy free kick, Mikel cleared and Meireles stuck out a foot to poke the rebound past Aimar, raced upfield and confidently smashed the ball past Artur from the edge of the box.

Chelsea are more than capable of frustrating Barcelona as much as Milan did in defence but the problem is going forward and more importantly their horrific fixture list. They'll be on their last legs by the time they travel to the Nou Camp.

Chelsea win 3-1 on aggregate.

Attendance : 37,264
Red Card : Pereira 40 (Benfica)
Assists : Cole (won pen), Aimar, Mikel

REAL MADRID 5 (Ronaldo 26, Kaka' 37, Ronaldo 75, Callejon 80, Di Maria 84)
APOEL NICOSEIA 2 (Manduca 67, Solari 82 Pen)

Higuain, who is a lousy finisher, missed a cross six yards from goal and Ronaldo tapped it in at the back post. Kaka', standing on the edge of the box, turned onto a Marcelo pass and sent a right foot shot curling into the top corner. Lovely goal. He also hit the base of a post with a similar effort.

Almeida sent Manduca clear of the mediocre Altintop with a great pass on the turn and he beat Casillas with ease. Ronaldo made it 3-1 with a tremendous free kick from a silly angle. I believe it was only the second free kick he has scored this season, in about 1000 attempts. Callejon beat the offside trap to score goal #4. Altintop went through the back of Andoro to concede the penalty which was converted by Esteban Solari, brother of injury prone ex Real Madrid fraud Santiago Solari. Albiol and Di Maria doubled up on an Apoel player to win the ball in the opposition half, Kaka' flicked the ball forward to Di Maria and as the Apoel defence backed off he sent a sumptuous lob sailing over Urko. Wonderful goal.

Real Madrid win 8-2 on aggregate.

Attendance : 70,000
Assists : Marcelo, Marcelo, Almeida, Kaka' (won fk), Di Maria, Adorno (won pen), Kaka'

3 April 2012

BARCELONA 3 (Messi 11 Pen, Messi 41 Pen, Iniesta 53)
MILAN 1 (Nocerino 32)

Mexes lost possession trying to dribble through midfield, Messi raced into the box and passed to Xavi, Antonini intercepted but overran the ball and dived into a tackle, taking down Messi. Robinho slalomed his way between three players before passing to Ibrahimovic, with his back to goal he played a ball inside Puyol and Nocerino ran clear of Mascherano to equalise. Nesta grabbed a chunk of Busquets shirt as Iniesta? swung in a corner, Puyol in turn had hold of Nesta. It's something Nesta has got away with his entire career but the ref pointed to the spot. Puyol wasn't penalised because he has special dispensation to commit fouls from UEFA and FIFA. I'm sure there was shirt pulling by Barcelona players on Milan corners but that's how these things go. The second penalty knocked the stuffing of Milan. Messi took a shot from the edge of the box, it spun up off Mexes and Iniesta tapped in the rebound. Tulio and Adriano missed further chances to score.

Two penalties and a deflection. Nothing impressive about Barcelona today - against a weakened Milan. Right tactics by Allegri, wrong personnel. That will change.

Barcelona win 3-1 on aggregate.

Attendance : 94,629
Assists : Messi (won pen), Ibrahimovic, Busquets (won pen), n/a

BAYERN MUNICH 2 (Olic 13, Olic 37)

Ribery took the long way round two Marseille players before centring to Olic, 1-0. Both 'keepers saved shots from distance. Ribery played a ball out wide left to Alaba and Olic slide in his centre. As routine a win as you're likely to see at this stage (Apoel excepted of course).

Heynckes had the luxury of resting Robben and Gomez, who came on as a sub mid-way through the second half.

Bayern Munich win 4-0 on aggregate.

Attendance : Ribery, Alaba
Assists : Ribery, M'Bia

28 March 2012

BAYERN MUNICH 2 (Gomez 44, Robben 70)

I was so looking forward to this. Neuer made a fantastic early save. As Marseille were appealing for handball against Lahm he turned and passed to Ribery, Robben split the Marseille defence with a pass inside their centrebacks and Gomez beat Marseille's 3rd choice 'keeper with a first time shot, which he should have saved. Robben played a one-two with Muller as he cut in from the right and angled a shot into the bottom left corner.

Attendance : 35,000
Assists : Robben, Muller


Robinho wasted a great early chance as Milan quickly attacked following a mistake by Valdes. Abbiati fumbled a Messi shot and Alves put the ball wide from a yard out. Milan were lucky not to concede a penalty when Abbiati was late on a ball and Sanchez went sprawling. Seedorf sent Ibrahimovic clear after Ambrosini mugged Xavi but his tame shot didn't trouble Valdes. Messi's best effort was saved by Abbiati.

Poor game overall with the highlight being some great tackling. In one respect, and only one respect, this was similar to Milan v Barcelona 1994 with scratch defenders Bonera and Nesta performing heroics. That's two incredible performances by Bonera in a row. I will be stunned if he maintains his current level.

The condition of Milan's pitch has deteriorated further since the improved weather in recent weeks. Time for a synthetic pitch. It works for Novara. Milan can only steal an away goals victory if they take one of the few chances they create and defend as they did today. I can't see it happening but nonetheless Allegri is very close to building the next great Milan side.

Attendance : 75,152
Assists : n/a

27 March 2012

REAL MADRID 3 (Benzema 74, Kaka' 82, Benzema 90)

Benzema missed an open goal following good work by Ronaldo and Sahin! Kaka' and Marcelo were introduced as second half substitutes and made an immediate impact. Kaka' whipped in a cross for Benzema to head past Chiotis. Marcelo ran onto a Ronaldo back heal and despite slipping pulled back a centre for Kaka' to tap home. Benzema rubber stamped Real Madrid's semi-final place from a lovely angled Ozil pass.

Real Madrid can win this 10 goals on aggregate. Apoel will get flogged in the return.

Attendance : 22,385
Assists : Kaka', Marcelo, Ozil

CHELSEA 1 (Kalou 75)

Choker Cardozo, who should never be forgiven for missing that penalty against Spain in the World Cup, lost Terry and chested down a ball but volleyed wide. He also sent a header 30 yards over the bar. Meireles stung Artur's palms with a shot from distance.

Benfica put their height to good use in the second half as Chelsea struggled with crosses. Cardozo got hold of a poor clearance with a ferocious left foot volley, brilliantly blocked by David Luiz on the line. Benfica should have been awarded a penalty when that lowlife Terry blocked Pereira's shot with his arm. Seconds later Mata poked a Cech goalkick past Artur but took the ball wide and couldn't find the back of the net. Gaitan, who was largely disappointing, hung up a cross, Jardel leapt in the air and sent a header crashing towards the bottom corner but Cech denied him with a phenomenal save. Ramires intercepted an awful pass near the Chelsea penalty area and sprang a counter attack, Torres held off a challenge as he ran in from the right and pulled back a centre for Kalou, 0-1.

The match was officiated by Tagliavento. I maintain officials should take charge of a match if they share a nationality with a coach. Obviously this is unavoidable with players given the wide range of nationalities in most squads but for coaches there's no such excuse.

Attendance : 60,830
Assist : Torres