footy musings from a (relative) newbie

Posts tagged ‘chelsea’

3 Things I Learned From the Uefa Champions League Draw

  1. It’s too damn long.

  1. Arsenal can’t never get a break.

3. You CAN go home again. 

I can’t predict anything until a ball is kicked (how’s that for hedging), but here’s how the groups shook out.

Group A

PSG

Real Madrid

Shakhtar Donetsk

Malmo

Group B

PSV

Man. United

CSKA Moscow

Wolfsburg

Group C

Benfica

Atletico Madrid

Galatasary

Astana

Group D

Juventus

Man. City

Sevilla

Monchengladbach

Group E

Barcelona

Leverkusen

Roma

BATE Borisov

Group F

Bayern

Arsenal

Olympiacos

Dinamo Zagreb

Group G

Chelsea

Porto

Dynamo Kyiv

Tel Aviv

Group H

Zenit St. Petersburg

Valencia

Lyon

Gent

Twas the Weekend of the 3-0 Win

What was it with this weekend and 3-0 wins? First My Everton beat Southhampton by that scoreline. Then My NY Red Bulls took care of Toronto FC 3-0 on Saturday night. And finally, Manchester City defeated Chelsea – again 3-0. This last result was by far the most delicious because it is exactly what Jose Mourinho’s punk ass deserved after his latest round of throwing some unsuspecting soul under the bus for his team’s on-pitch failings. His sourpuss during the match was a thing of beauty. Long may his scowling continue.

Previously on the Premier League

Chelsea ran away with the league and left us quasi-neutrals quite bored with the whole spectacle.

But a new season is upon us, and hope is again alive that Mourinho and Co. will crash and burn.

That’s right folks. Our favorite sports soap opera has returned.

I’ve read all the preview articles and listened to all the season preview podcasts. I’m heading out to a pub tomorrow morning to watch the first Everton game of the season (vs. Watford). All that’s left for me to do is predict my top 4 finishers for the end of the season.

Yeah, despite ample documentation of my terrible prediction skills, I’m taking it there again.

  1. Chelsea – I haven’t seen anything in the pre-season/transfer season to tell me that Chelsea won’t win this title again (yes, including the New York Red Bulls reserves beating them in a friendly)
  2. Manchester United – They’ve shored up a lot of their problem areas (except for defense). I have to think they’ll be better than they were last season, though I don’t really have any evidence to back that up.
  3. Arsenal – two years in a row of not having to go through a Champions League playoff? Why not?
  4. Manchester City – I’m bemused to see some picking them to win the title. Why? Because they signed Raheem Sterling?

Off to bed, as kickoff is at 9:00 a.m.

Champions League Returns

Whenever this tournament starts a new season, it feels as if it never left. Sure it’s been 116 days since Real Madrid snagged their 10th European Cup in Lisbon. But that was last season. Thirty-one teams are now on a mission to dethrone the reigning champions and grab the cup themselves in Berlin on June 6, 2015.

The longer I watch this competition, the more it both frustrates and delights me. I love the Cinderella stories like Bulgarian champions Ludogorets’ remarkable run to this year’s Group stage; and the return of Cypriot team Apoel FC, after their own heroic run to the quarterfinals in 2012. On the other hand, it’s disheartening to see the latter stages of the competition become more and more of a closed shop.

I’ll still totally be watching, though, because it is some of the best football you’ll see anywhere on the planet. And that means I’ll also be making predictions about which teams will be celebrating passage into the round of 16 after Matchday 6. Cuz my prediction skills rock. Not.

Group A:
Atletico Madrid
Juventus
Olympiacos
Malmo
Winners: Atletico Madrid, Juventus

Group B:
Real Madrid
Basel
Liverpool
Ludogorets
Winners: Real Madrid, Basel

Group C:
Benfica
Zenit
Bayer Leverkusen
Monaco
Winners: Benfica, Zenit

Group D:
Arsenal
Borussia Dortmund
Galatasaray
Anderlecht
Winners: Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund

Group E:
Bayern Munich
Manchester City
CSKA Moscow
Roma
Winners: Bayern Munich, Manchester City

Group F:
Barcelona
PSG
Ajax
Apoel Nicosia
Winners: Barcelona, Ajax

Group G:
Chelsea
Schalke
Sporting Lisbon
Maribor
Winners: Chelsea, Schalke

Group H:
Porto
Shakhtar Donetsk
Athletic Bilbao
Bate Borisov
Winners: Athletic Bilbao, Porto

Group C and Group H are pretty wide open, so I reserve the right to change my mind on which teams will advance from those groups.

Almost Home

Juventus is really trying my patience losing to Benfica in the Europa League. They should be winning this competition easily.

In the Champions League, we had four very expensively assembled teams and they managed to come up with ONE goal in two games. So the less said about that the better. Say what you will about the Europa League, but at least Benfica, Juventus, Sevilla and Valencia scored some goals in their games.

Lisbon and Turin in Sight

So, it will be Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea.

I’ll admit: these matchups do have me intrigued.

  • Will poor, sad Thibaut Courtois get to play for Atletico against Chelsea – the team that loaned him to Atleti in the first place? (Probably)
  • How will Real vs. Bayern play out after their last epic semi-final two years ago? (Hopefully without penalties!)
  • How far will Jose Mourihno get trying to gaslight Diego Simeone? (My guess is not very)
  • Will Atleti make history and get to the final 40 years after they last made it? (Possibly)
  • Or will we get a Chelsea (Mou) vs. Bayern (Pep) final (Ugh! Anything but that!)
  • Who says football isn’t soap opera, eh?

    In Europa League, it’s Benfica vs. Juventus and Sevilla vs. Valencia (all-Spanish affair alert!) Juventus is winning this, right?

    I’m not willing to predict the Champions League winner because at this level, there’s very little between the teams, which means the games will be decided by the smallest of margins and factors I can’t even begin to think of.

    The Semis are Upon Us

    The two top European Competitions have their final fours (see what I did there).

    In the Champions League, the semi-finalists are

    Atletico Madrid
    Bayern Munich
    Chelsea
    Real Madrid

    The post-mortems on the quarterfinals are as numerous as they are repetitive, featuring headlines about Chelsea’s remarkable comeback, Bayern showing their class, Atletico being the romantics/hipsters choice and Real scraping into the semi-final round.

    There are things I love about this competition, but when it gets to this stage, it often feels anti-climactic, probably because it’s usually the same 3 or 4 teams competing for the trophy every year. And as I’ve said before this is my least favorite part of the tournament because the stakes are so high that it makes the actual games fairly dull (though that doesn’t mean I won’t be watching).

    In the Europa League, Benfica, Juventus, Valencia and Sevilla have made the semi-finals, with Valencia coming back from 0-3 down to beat Basel. Kudos to Valencia, but I would have liked to see Basel in the semis.

    I’d like to get excited about the draw on Friday, but I know UEFA’s going to drag it out.

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