13 March 2013

ARSENAL 2 (Giroud 3, Koscielny 86)

Rosicky delicately laid off a Wilshire pass to Walcott and Giroud smashed in his centre at the back post. Despite all their possession Bayern failed to trouble Arsenal's reverse goalkeeper Fabianski until the 67th minute and even then he was only forced to make a routine save. Earth, Wind and Fire played a one-two with Cazorla, wiggled away from a defender but dragged his shot wide of the right post. Koscielny gave Arsenal hope when he headed in a corner despite being out-jumped by Javi Martinez.

I have said time and time again Heynckes is a dreadful coach. It takes a special kind of idiot to comprehensively outplay the opposition at home in a European Cup final only to lose it. Bayern have the best squad in all of Europe but with this imbecile as coach 6/8 of the teams in the quarter-finals have a chance - Galatasaray and Malaga being the exceptions. This is Juve's cup to lose.

Match is tied 3-3 on aggregate. Bayern Munich win on away goals.

Attendance : 68,000
Assists : Walcott, Cazorla

MALAGA 2 (Isco 43, Santa Cruz 77)

Isco spun onto a pass, feigned to shoot, taking out a defender, then from the right edge of the box swung a shot into the left corner. Great goal. Defour was rewarded for his persistence with a yellow card for a foul on Joaquin. Santa Cruz punished shocking marking to deserved send Malaga into the last 16.

I'm sick of seeing Porto in the knockout stages of the competition. They are an absolute disgrace. They were incredibly negative and happy to contain. They only showed urgency after going two goals down.

Not so surprisingly this is the first time in 10 years that three Spanish teams have reached the last 8 of the UCL.

Malaga win 2-1 on aggregate.

Attendance : 27,451
Red Card : Defour 49 (Porto)
Assists : Iturra, Isco

12 March 2013

BARCELONA 4 (Messi 5, Messi 40, Villa 55, Alba 92)

Milan could not afford to concede early and that's exactly what they did. Messi played a one-two with Xavi and he ran into the D, pushed the ball onto his left foot then whipped a shot into the roof of the net. Fantastic goal. Pedro dived under contact with Abate in the box and surprisingly the ref didn't blow for a penalty. Abbiati tipped a Iniesta drive against the crossbar and Messi headed the rebound into the side netting. The game changing moment came on 38 minutes. Montolivo hit a longball out of defence and midget Mascherano could only head it into Niang's path. He raced forward and as Valdes came off his line fired a shot across goal but the ball rebounded off the inside of the left post. Two minutes later Milan were done. Flamini and Ambrosini ran into Iniesta as they tried to carry the ball out of defence and Messi drilled his pass into the bottom right corner.

Mascherano tackled Boateng as he tried to gather a Zapata through ball, Iniesta laid Mascherano's pass into Xavi and as Constant dived in Villa stepped away before slotting in the third. Messi caught Muntari as Robinho gave him a dreadful pass from a free kick, Bojan lost the ball, Messi spread the play out wide to Sanchez and Alba fired his brilliant out-swinging pass wide of Abbiati to complete a crushing victory. Textbook counter attack.

While an injury and ineligibility robbed Allegri of his two in form forwards there was no excuse for selecting Flamini. The last thing you need against a team like Barcelona is a player who gives the ball away due to technical deficiencies. Who knows what would have happened had Niang scored. Serie A journalist Carlo Garganese likened this Milan side to the Manchester United side of 1994. They too were hammered 4-0 at the Nou Camp before going onto bigger and better things but I doubt it will take this Milan side 5 more years to conquer Europe once again.

Barcelona win 4-2 on aggregate.

Attendance : 96,000
Assists : Xavi, Iniesta, Xavi, Sanchez

SCHALKE 2 (Neustader 17, Bastos 63)
GALATASARAY 3 (Altintop 37, Yilmaz 42, Bulut 94)

Muslera bungled on a corner and Neustader tapped in a rebound to give Schalke the aggregate lead. Altintop equalised with a fantastic goal. Inan rolled a pass to Altintop who took a couple of steps before hitting a crazy shot which swerved wickedly into the bottom right corner. Riera tackled Hoger when Neustader sold him short on a backpass, the ball broke for Burak and he held off Howedes before lobbing over Hildebrand. Hoger rattled the bar with a shot from the edge of the box, Bastos slipped the rebound to Pukki, Muslera crashed into him, Uchida picked up the ball and calmly laid it off for Bastos to equalise. With the scores tied at 3-3 Galatasaray had the advantage of away goals but Bulut made sure with an injury time goal on the break.

Galatasaray win 4-3 on aggregate.

Attendance : 22,000
Assists : n/a, Inan, Riera, Uchida, n/a

20 February 2013

MILAN 2 (Boateng 57, Muntari 81)

El Shaarawy rolled a corner to Boateng and his first time shot flashed wide of the right post. Constant touched a free kick to Montolivo, his first time shot whacked Zapata in the face and while Barcelona were appealing for handball Boateng turned to fire the rebound past Valdes. Ambrosini intercepted a Jordi Alba pass and Montolivo clipped the ball over Puyol for Niang (Balotelli light) to chase down, Niang bounced it off his chest and shoved Puyol to the floor as he passed inside to El Shaarawy, with his first touch he flicked up the ball and as he turned to his left he lofted a pass over to Muntari who drilled a first time volley into the bottom right corner. Brilliant goal.

Barcelona had two shots on target - that's if you count what were effectively pass backs as shots and Messi was once against shite on Italian soil. Barcelona have never overturned a two goal deficit in Europe but curiously have overturned a three goal deficit twice. Milan have to play the second leg as if the tie is still 0-0, not make mistakes and hope Barcelona don't get their usual favours from UEFA's referees. Niang is raw but has pace, is strong (and at 18 plenty of time to get bigger) and a very good football brain. He's going to be an absolute beast in a few years and Milan still have the best scouting in World football.

Attendance : 79,532
Assists : Zapata, El Shaarawy

GALATASARAY 1 (Burak 12)
SCHALKE 1 (Jones 45)

Inan clipped forward a Drogba pass, Yilmaz flicked the ball over the head of a defender with the outside of his right heel, took a couple of steps then hammered a shot into the roof of the net. Schalke should have equalised three minutes later but Huntelaar failed to get a touch on Altintop's header as it bounced across goal. Hildebrand parried a Drogba effort straight to Altintop and with the goal at his mercy he needlessly tore into the ball, smashing it against the crossbar. Draxler whacked a longball out of defence, Nounkeu overhit a pass to Felipe Melo, Jones intercepted and Huntelaar released Farfan who blitzed down the right, taking two defenders with him and Jones thumped his centre past Muslera. Huntelaar and Burak wasted good chances within minutes of each other and Draxler failed to punish Amrabat's hospital pass as he raced upfield on a counter attack and selfishly shot with Farfan better positioned.

Given Schalke's recent form and Galatasaray's high profile reinforcements this was a terrible result for the Turks though given how poorly both teams defend they still have a chance. In the quarter-finals the winner of this tie is toast.

Attendance : 50,734
Assists : Inan, Farfan

19 February 2013

ARSENAL 1 (Podolski 55)
BAYERN MUNICH 3 (Kroos 7, Muller 21, Mandzukic 77)

Ribery passed out wide to Muller and Kroos thumped his miss-hit cross into the ground and it flew past Szczesny. Szczesny made an excellent point blank save from a powerful Van Buyten header and Muller acrobatically volleyed in the rebound. Shocking marking from a corner gave Arsenal hope as the Bayern defence ball watched Wilshere's corner and as Neuer ran off his line and froze Podolski headed into an empty net. Giroud should have equalised but volleyed a great Walcott cross straight at Neuer. Dante hit a longball out of defence to Muller who was standing with his back to goal, he bounced the ball on his chest before passing inside to Robben, Robben played in Lahm on the overlap and Mandzukic got in front of Sagna but overran the ball, it shot up off his heels and bounced high over the bar before dropping into the net. A fluke goal but Bayern were worthy winners.

Attendance : 59,974
Assists : Muller, n/a, Wilshere (ck), Lahm

PORTO 1 (Moutinho 56)

A shit game between two of the three weakest sides left in the competition (Arsenal of course being the other). Sandro angled a ball around Demichelis and overrated midget Moutinho scored his third Champions League goal.

Attendance : 42,209
Assist : Sandro

13 February 2013

REAL MADRID 1 (Ronaldo 30)

The visitors made a nervous start with Khedira, Di Maria and Coentrao going close in the opening five minutes. Coentrao's shot, after fish-face failed to clear a Ronaldo centre, rebounded back off the inside of the right post. United took the lead with their first attack. Rooney swung in a corner and Wellbeck got above Sergio Ramos to head past Diego Lopez. Ten minutes later Ronaldo headed in the equaliser from a Di Maria cross. Wellbeck failed to punish Lopez for a terrible mistake when he fly out of the box and missed a RVP cross. Ronaldo should have headed Real Madrid into the lead in first half injury time.

De Gea made a magnificent save low to his left to deny Coentrao on the hour mark. Lopez tipped a RVP effort against the crossbar and seconds later RVP scuffed a shot 10 yards from goal after Xabi Alonso botched an offside trap. De Gea comfortably held onto a Khedira shot as Real Madrid's attacks ground to halt following the introduction of European flop of the season Modric.

Attendance : 85,454
Assists : Rooney (ck), Di Maria

SHAKHTAR DONETSK 2 (Srna 31, Douglas Costa 68)
DORTMUND 2 (Lewandowski 41, Hummels 87)

Hummels headed a corner against the crossbar. Srna gave Shakhtar the lead with a stunning free kick into the top left corner. Lewandowski pulled down a cross but then kicked fresh air which saw two Shakhtar defenders crash into each other and he took advantage to plunder a fortuitous equaliser. Douglas Costa punished Hummels for ball watching and adjusted his body brilliantly to score an acrobatic equaliser (similar to a goal I scored in a five-a-side game when I was in my physical prime). Lewandowski volleyed wide from six yards but Hummels made amends for his earlier mistake by emphatically headed in Schmeltzer's corner.

Shakhtar attacked at breathtaking speed at times more often than not their final ball was poor. I expect a high scoring return leg which Dortmund should win comfortably.

Attendance : 52,000
Assists : n/a, Gotze, Rakytskyi, Schmelzer

12 February 2013

JUVENTUS 3 (Matri 3, Marchisio 77, Vucinic 83)

Peluso whacked a longball towards the Celtic box, Ambrose, fresh from the afcon as it's called thesedays, failed to make what should have been a routine clearance, Matri poked the ball through Forster's legs, Wilson cleared the ball out of the goal after it had crossed the line and Marchisio blasted in the rebound but in any case Matri's goal stood. Celtic should have had at least one penalty when Lichtsteiner was wrestling with Hooper on successive corners. Padoin did the same to Brown in the second half. Weak officiating. Ambrose had a chance to make amends for his earlier mistake but headed straight at Buffon when unmarked. Matri laid off a Padoin pass first time and Marchisio turned inside Brown before shooting through Forster. Ambrose's misery was complete when Padoin pressed him into losing the ball and Marchisio fed Vucinic for a flattering third. Juve are into the quarter-finals and more than a match for any side over two legs though in a one off game I don't fancy their chances.

Attendance : 57,917
Assists : Peluso, Matri, Marchisio

VALENCIA 1 (Rami 90)
PSG 2 (Lavezzi 10, Pastore 43)

Lavezzi played a one-two with Pastore, skipped a red card challenge and thumped the ball past Guaita. Lucas crushed two players as he cut in from the left flank, skipping past a lunging tackle to beat the first defender then checking outside as another dived in before running into the box and pulling back a centre for Pastore. An extraordinary assist from the Brazilian. Valdez dived to win a free kick and Rami punished non defending to give Valencia (vain) hope for the second leg. Ibrahimovic ensured he made headlines with a late red due to typical La Liga cheating. Parejo dived when fighting for a ball and as Ibrahimovic raised his foot to challenge Guardado, almost certainly making no contact as his foot came down, the Mexican threw himself to the turf clutching his left shin. PUSSY.

Attendance : 55,000
Red Card : Ibrahimovic 92 (PSG)
Assists : Pastore, Lucas