Posts Tagged ‘Champions League’

My beloved fellow Chelsea supporters,

We have been through a tumultuous roller coaster of a season, fresh off the most glorious season we have ever witnessed. We have come from the highest of highs, only to be followed up with strings of depression, hatred, and misery. Fortunately, things are finally looking better for us and we are hitting a good run of form. We are still in the run for two trophies and are in good position to secure a Champions League spot.

The reason for this article, is to plead with you to please stop calling for the purchase of a big name striker in the off season. We have suffered through the record breaking purchase of Fernando Torres, and we do not need to splash that kind of money in the off season on another striker. We really don’t. We have a 19 year old phenom, out on loan at West Brom, that is cementing his place in the history books already. He has 13 goals and 3 assists in 27 appearances this season for West Brom and will forever have his name next to the likes of Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen. At 13 goals this season, Lukaku is only behind Owen and Fowler for the most goals scored in the Premier League by a teenager. Fowler holds the record with 23 goals, and Michael Owen has scored 18 goals twice as a teenager. Lukaku will have to go on an absolute tear to catch Fowler, but the notion of catching up to Michael Owen is not too far fetched. Even if he doesn’t catch up to Owen’s 18 goals, Lukaku’s season will still be very, very impressive. Let’s keep in mind, Lukaku is doing all of this for West Brom, a team that is not blessed with the talent that his parent club is equipped with. The likes of James Morrison, Graham Dorrans and Chris Brunt are not really up to par with the likes of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Oscar and Victor Moses. Imagine Lukaku with those world class players providing him with service. Opposing defenses will be kept awake at night thinking about how they could possibly try to deal with that. It would be an absolute nightmare for every team that would have to face Chelsea.

Not only do we have Lukaku on our books, but thanks to a fantastic piece of business in the winter window, we got our hands on a proper striker to replace Torres in Demba Ba. Lukaku and Ba are two fantastic strikers that have the ability to take Chelsea to the glory they aim for year in and year out. Of course, two strikers is not enough, as a team that is in as many competitions as Cheslea is in and with the fixture congestion that is always inevitable, we will need more depth. However, that does not mean you fill that need for depth with a 30-50 million signing. A hybrid winger/striker such as Heung-Min Son from Hamburg would fill that 3rd striker hole perfectly as well as provide extra cover/depth in the attacking band of three. Even if it’s not Son, my point is there are options out there, that are both cost-effective and talented options that would fill our needs without breaking the bank.

My beloved fellow Chelsea supporters, let’s get behind our wunderkid striker Romelu Lukaku and believe in his ability to shoulder the load along with Demba Ba and take us back to European and Domestic glory!

Blue is the Color! KTBFFH!



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The Champions League and Europa League Quarter Finals are set and we have some tasty match ups to look forward to. Let’s start by analyzing the Champions League draws.

PSG vs Barcelona

A mouth-watering draw with the likes of THE Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Javier Pastore, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lucas Moura taking on the sneaky fast Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas. This is going to be an EPIC encounter and will no doubt keep us all on the edge of our seats for all 180 minutes. I’m expecting a high scoring aggregate final with goals galore in both legs. Both of these teams are high energy and are well-equipped with firepower from more than one angle. I will be rooting for PSG to take down the blaugranas, however, I think Barca will be too much for Le Parisiens and when all is said and done, it will be Barca advancing to yet another Champions League semi-final.

Prediction: Barca 5-3 on aggregate

Real Madrid vs Galatasaray

Jose Mourinho will be reacquainted with one of his beloved former players, Didier Drogba. Many will look at this match up and think Real Madrid will cruise past the Turkish giants, but I don’t think it will be so easy. Galatasaray are a very, very, good squad with some elite talent amongst their ranks. The acquisition of Wesley Sneijder has not yet paid off as the Dutchman is still suffering from poor form. After all, he has pretty much been on vacation for a few months, he was not playing at all for Inter Milan before the transfer happened as he was relegated to the bench for not accepting a pay cut. If Sneijder can find his form in the next month, these two legs will be much more interesting. Burak Yilmaz has been on an absolute tear for Galatasary and is the joint top scorer in the competition with 8 goals, tied with Cristiano Ronaldo. Paired up with Didier Drogba, those two give Galatasaray a fighting chance against Los Blancos. However, I am a man of reason, and Real Madrid are definitely on a mission, guided by the great Special One. Mesut Ozil, Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Gonzalo Higuain, Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria, that is simply too much attacking prowess for the Turkish giants to overcome. I would like to give some recognition to 19 year old defender, Raphael Varane who has been a revelation in the center of defense for Real Madrid. This young man is going to become one of the worlds best defenders in the very very short future. He is an absolute gem that deserves all the recognition he gets. His play has not gone unnoticed as Deschamps has called his number for the French national squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifying matches.

Prediction: Real Madrid 4-2 on aggregate.

Malaga vs Borussia Dortmund

Malaga is one of the more intriguing teams remaining in this competition. They are a very talented squad with some real gems in their squad. If you are searching for one of the more promising young talents in world football, look no further than Isco. The Spanish attacker is having a magnificent season and has drawn the attention of some of the biggest clubs in the world, including Chelsea. Malaga realized this and went ahead and restructured his contract during the winter window in order to increase his buy out clause. It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that Isco will be sold in the summer because Malaga need all the money they can get due to their financial situation. They already sold starting left back Nacho Monreal during the winter window for 10 million euros to Arsenal, and had sold one of their best midfielders in Santi Cazorla during the offseason to Arsenal as well. Santi Cazorla has been fantastic for Arsenal this season, yet despite these moves, Malaga are still having a great season. Manuel Pelligrini has done a fantastic job for Malaga, guiding them to the quarter finals of the Champions League and has the team sitting in 4th place in La Liga. On the other hand, Borussia Dortmund are suffering from somewhat of a hangover from last seasons success yet still find themselves in a great position to reach the semi finals of the Champions League. Dortmund are coming off a double winning season last year, taking the DFB Pokal Championship along with the Bundesliga title. They are already knocked out of the DFB Pokal thanks to Bayern Munich and find themselves 20 points behind Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. This is their only chance at silverware this year and they certainly have the players to take them the distance. Led by Jurgen Klopp and young phenoms Marco Reus, Mario Gotze and Bundesliga top scorer Robert Lewandowski, this squad has the potential to lift the holy grail of all trophies.

Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 3-2 on aggregate.

Bayern Munich vs Juventus

The German Giants vs The Italian Giants. This will be a battle of tight knit defense vs high powered offense. In the end, I have no doubts that the Bavarian’s high powered offense will come out victorious. Bayern are still in the hunt for the treble, they have the Bundesliga wrapped up by a long mile, have a great shot at the DFB Pokal after knocking out rivals Borussia Dortmund and are now that much closer to returning to the Champions League final for a second consecutive year. Juventus should cause them a little bit of trouble becaue of their stingy defense having allowed only 18 goals in Serie A, however Bayern’s defense is quite stout in their own right. With the emergence of young phenom Dante and the solid veteran presence of Daniel van Buyten, the ever reliable captain Philipp Lahm and the emergence of David Alaba as one of the elite prospects at LB has led to Bayern only allowing 10 goals in the Bundesliga. Despite Juve’s lack of a prominent striker they have still managed to net 55 goals in Serie A, however, this will be their stiffest test all year. I think Bayern Munich will manage to roll past Juve and advance comfortably to the semis.

Prediction: Bayern Munich 4-1 on aggregate.


Europa League

The ugly step sister of European competitions has proven it can still be an entertaining tournament. Inter Milan put forth a valiant effort coming back from a 3-0 first leg deficit against Tottenham and managed to put 3 in the back of the net in the return leg to force extra time. Unfortunately, Adebayor managed to literally fall into a goal in the 1st half of extra time which made Inter’s conquest that much harder. They needed two goals in extra time after that because of the away goal rule, and they almost did it, but fell one goal short. They thumped a Bale-less Spurs 4-1 at the end but did not advance because of the away goal rule. As per usual for this season, Chelsea had another heart stopping game but managed to advanced thanks to the most unlikeliest source, Fernando Torres, granting his team advancement to the next round with a 3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge.

Tottenham vs Basel

Spurs should advance comfortably to the semi finals, however, nothing is ever a foregone conclusion when it comes to the Spurs as their fans can attest. Basel managed to get by Hulk and Zenit St. Petersburg but this should prove to be a much tougher task. Gareth Bale is in the form of his life and Moussa Dembele has proven to be a fantastic signing for AVB. Basel are heavily reliant on 31 year old countryman Marco Streller for their goals, he leads the team with 12 goals, the next highest scorer on the team is fellow countryman and 33 year old striker Alexander Frei with 6 goals. Tottenham have more talent, better players and should have no problem getting past Basel.

Prediction: Tottenham 4-1 on aggregate.

Chelsea vs Rubin Kazan

Nothing has come easy for the Blues this season and there should be no reason to believe that it will change now. Rubin Kazan’s leading scorer is Israeli international Bibras Natcho with 7 goals, but they also have Venezuela international and former Chelsea target Solomon Rondon with 5 goals and newly acquired midfield enforcer Yann M’Villa. Juding by the line up The Interim One trotted out in the second leg against Steaua Bucuresti, this competition is of high priority and Chelsea are definitely in it to win it. Regardless of the fact that Fernando Torress will be the only available striker for this entire competition, Chelsea should still manage to get through Rubin Kazan and advance to the next round.

Prediction: Chelsea 3-1 on aggregate.

Fenerbahce vs Lazio

Lazio look really good. They thumped Stuttgart 5-1 on aggregate in the previous round but will face stiffer competition here. Libor Kozak, 23 year old Czech striker, had a field day in the 2nd leg of the Stuttgart leg netting himself a hat trick. Fenerbahce barely squeaked by Viktoria Plzen, advancing 2-1 on aggregate. I’m thinking Lazio will continue their good form in the Europa League and will edge out Fenerbahce, but it won’t be as lopsided as their previous round.

Prediction: Lazio 3-2 on aggregate.

Newcastle vs Benfica

Newcastle barely got by Anzhi thanks to a late injury time winner by Papiss Cisse for the only goal over both legs for either team. Benfica, on the other hand, got by Bordeaux 4-2 on aggregate and will look to continue their run of 31 straight games unbeaten in regular time (they were defeated on penalty kicks against Sporting Braga on Feb 27th in Taca da Liga). Oscar Cardozo and Lima are Benfica’s top scorers and will look to help their team continue their fantastic run of form against the Magpies. I don’t think Newcastle have enough quality to get past the Portuguese giants and I see Alan Pardew’s men bowing out of the competition here.

Prediction: Benfica 4-2 on aggregate.

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At the hands of the one and only Special One, Sir Alex Ferguson and his Red Army were defeated on their home soil. The first half was edgy and United looked the better side for most of the half with Mourinho’s men on their heels. As the first half came to a close, Madrid suffered a set back when Angel Di Maria went down injured and was unable to continue. Kaka was forced to come on for him and did not really provide much of anything for Madrid throughout the entire game. The loss of Angel’s ability to take advantage of the United defenders on the wings and his ability to cut into the middle would be sorely missed. Just ask Carles Puyol what he thinks about man marking Di Maria in the box. Di Maria made Puyol look like a complete fool with a nasty step over that resulted in a Madrid goal in El Classico.

The second half is where all the magic happened. It started with a Sergio Ramos own goal in the 48th minute. Just like the first leg, Madrid would see themselves working from behind (insert sexual joke here). Just like the first leg, Madrid would come roaring back. This time they received a little help from an unlikely source. Nani decided it would be a good idea to conduct a flying high kick (best watched to the tune of “everybody was kung fu fighting”) to Arbeloa’s ribs. To his surprise, Nani was not declared the undisputed lightweight champion of the world, instead he was shown a shiny red card and was instructed to kindly get the fuck off the pitch you stupid, stupid, boy. Just like that, the match was turned on its head and Madrid looked to capitalize on this wonderful opportunity. The Special One smelled the game was there for the taking and he subbed off Arbeloa and brought on Luka Modric. A change that turned out to be simply magnificent.

It did not take long at all for Luka Modric to reintroduce himself to the United faithful when he brilliantly struck a swerving ball off the side of the post and into the back of the net. It really was a magnificent strike that had me in awe. Madrid knew their job was not done just yet, they needed another goal to wrap up the victory and three minutes after Luka’s wunderstrike, a moment of brilliance from the Madrid players resulted in Cristiano Ronaldo sliding in to slot home the winner. The build up to the goal was what was truly remarkable. A lovely backheel from Ozil to set Higuain loose inside the box on the wing and Higuain drilled in a low cross across the face of goal for Ronaldo to cooly slide in and punch it home. Classy Ronaldo refused to celebrate his goal and simply basked in the glory of knowing he’s not only devilishly good looking, but his team just knocked off his former employer to advance to the next round of the Champions League.

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You can add Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia to the list of injured players this season. Valencia will likely miss the rest of the season after suffering a horrible ankle injury during United’s goalless draw in their Champions League opening match against Rangers. Reports indicate that Valencia suffered a double fracture in the tibia and fibula in his left ankle and will require surgery immediately.

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A couple months ago I explained how the Serie A was in jeopardy of losing the privilege of having 4 teams qualify to the Champions League. For the longest time, Serie A, La Liga and the Premier League have had 4 teams qualify to the Champions League. Recently, Bundesliga has been creeping up on Serie A and are now threatening to overtake them as the 3rd strongest league in the world. It will all be determined on May 22nd when Bayern Munich face Inter Milan in the Champions League final.

If Bayern Munich manage to take the match to penalties, Bundesliga will overtake Serie A and in 2 years they will have 4 teams qualify to the Champions and Serie A will only have 3 teams. However, if Inter Milan win the match before it goes to penalties, the Serie A will be safe.

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Inter Milan scored three goals against Barcelona, something no other team has been able to accomplish all season. Barcelona jumped ahead after 19 minutes with a goal by Pedro but after that it was all Inter Milan. Diego Milito had a fantastic game, he had a couple of chances go wide early in the game but redeemed himself with 2 assists and an eventual goal of his own to seal the victory. Wesley Sneijder deserves a mention, the severely underrated Dutch midfielder connected flawlessly with Milito’s pass and tied the game up at 1. Wesley has quietly put together a fantastic season and has proven to be one the best midfielders in football today.

Inter Milan did a fantastic job keeping Messi quiet, the little magician was barely heard from all game. With a 3-1 lead, Mario Balotelli made his entrance in the 75th minute and due to a lack of effort on his part and playing a poor ball the crowd jeered him. Balotelli, only 19 years of age, was visibly irritated by this and did not give 100% for the 15 minutes of action that he saw. At the final whistle, Balotelli furiously exited the pitch and thew his jersey onto the ground. Several Inter teammates including Dejan Stankovic and captain Javier Zanetti called Balotelli’s actions childish. Marco Materazzi got into a heated exchange with the young striker which resulted in Balotelli leaving the San Siro early. However, he was impeded in the parking lot as fans and media surrounded his car and Inter President Massimo Moratti is seen attempting to clear the situation….or is he part of the mob? I’m not sure.

Even though Balotelli’s actions were childish, we should not forget this young man is still only 19 years of age. He is very much a child, in every sense of the word. He has a lot of growing up to do, but he can’t do it alone. He needs guidance, usually that guidance comes from teammates. Clearly, Balotelli is not getting the proper guidance from his teammates or anyone around him for that matter. Balotelli has been jeered ever since he made his debut. He has been attacked constantly and bombarded with racist remarks from fans all over Italy. Until he grows some thick skin and doesn’t allow those remarks to get to him, Balotelli will continue to hinder his progress as an elite striker. Perhaps a place for him in the Premier League or La Liga would be best for his career; unless of course, his beloved AC Milan come calling.

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Rooney surprised many people by starting the match today and it was evident that he was not 100%. However, his mere presence on the field seemed to fire up his team as they started off the match with style. Darron Gibson’s strike (thanks to a generous flick by Rooney) in the 3rd minute caught the Bayern goalkeeper off guard as he was very late in making an effort to stop the ball. The second goal came just four minutes later and really was a result of poor defending. Valencia should have never had the opportunity to cross that ball into the box but top marks to him for curling in a beautiful ball to a wide open Nani who put a sublime back-heel touch into the back of the net. Never mind the cross coming in, why does Nani have 3 Bayern defenders around him but none of them make any sort of attempt to defend the cross?  After going up 2-0 in the opening 7 minutes and completely dominating the match in every aspect, United seemed to have the tie in their back pocket. United were having their way with Bayern with countless runs on the flanks that went unguarded. At this stage all seems lost for Bayern as United continued to dominate the game, however in the back of your mind you remember Bayern still need just one goal to even everything up on aggregate. In the 41st minute Nani delivered what seemed to be the dagger with a magnificent strike to make it 3-0. However, two minutes later Olic’s persistence earned Bayern a goal, and once again we remind ourselves that at 3-1, Bayern need just one goal to see Man United off.

The second half begins with much anticipation and only 5 minutes in, Rafael earns himself his 2nd yellow card of the game and United are reduced to 10 men. It was a silly challenge by the youngster and he will have to learn from it. Without a doubt, this incident turned the match around. In the 55th minute Sir Alex decided to take out the clearly hurt Rooney; his presence alone seemed to be enough to not only provide a spark for his team but he also played as a decoy. About 20 minutes later, Arjen Robben showed the world why he should be considered one of the top midfielders in the world. He fired home a thunderous strike that in turn catapulted Bayern Munich into the semifinals to face Olympique Lyon.

For the first time since 2002-2003, there are no English teams in the semifinals of the Champions League.

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