footy musings from a (relative) newbie

Posts tagged ‘galatasaray’

Chelsea Advances & Drogba Says Goodbye

Thanks to goals from Samuel Eto’o and Gary Cahill, Chelsea advanced to the Champions League quarterfinals. But the big story of the night was the love-in the Chelsea fans had for Didier Drogba who was returning to Stamford Bridge for the first time since he helped Chelsea win the Champions League in 2012. The match may have been boring, but it had one of my favorite things: futbol moments – those little nuggets of human connection that bubble to the surface of the cutthroat sporting competition. Jose Mourihno & Drogba embracing before the match, Drogba being marked by his former teammates John Terry & Gary Cahill. I live for that stuff – even when it involves the hated Chelsea.

As for Chelsea’s chances in the CL, I’m putting them in the team-no-one-wants-to-face category, though I wouldn’t put it past Mourihno to park the bus all the way to Lisbon and win it all.

Only 2 more CL matches – Manchester United vs. Olympiacos and Borussia Dortmund vs. Zenit St. Petersburg – left to determine the remaining quarterfinalists.

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1st leg done

Not sure what to make of Real Madrid’s win over Schalke 04 today. Does it confirm them as Champions League title contenders or solidify their status as flat-track bullies? Time will tell, I guess.

As for Chelsea, their draw with Galatasary was textbook Jose Mourihno. They got the away goal but didn’t try to do much else. That’s why he gets the big bucks and why he’s won this competition twice.

The festivities resume on March 11/12.

More European competition fun with tomorrow’s Europa League matches.

It’s Baaaaack

After a two-month hiatus, UEFA Champions League returns this week. And because I never learn my lesson, I’m putting my shoddy prediction skills to work again. Here’s who I think will be celebrating when the round of 16 concludes next month.

Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich: The one everyone has been talking about since before the round of 16 draw occurred. Bayern have dominated everything they’ve done this season – losing only once (to Manchester City in the UCL group stage). And while Arsenal topped the Premier League for most of the season, they now sit second, and their form the past month has been shaky. I think Bayern will advance, but I am still not sold on them repeating as European Champions. Winner: Bayern Munich

Manchester City vs. Barcelona: Both teams bring good form into the tie, but I think the Catalans will advance easily. Winner: FC Barcelona

Bayer 04 Leverkeusen vs. Paris Saint-Germain: Even without injured Edinson Cavani, PSG should have too much for the Bundesliga’s second place club. That said, this is probably the matchup that most intrigues me in this round. Winner: Paris Saint-Germain

AC Milan vs. Atletico de Madrid: As with any tie involving Milan, this strikes me as a toss-up. Milan have performed poorly in Serie A all season and needed a Mario Balotelli wonder goal to beat lowly Bologna last Friday. That said, Atletico Madrid haven’t been any great shakes in La Liga – recently relinquishing their league lead to the Barca-Real tandem. Still, I think they will have just enough to get past Milan. Winner: Atletico de Madrid

Olympiacos vs. Manchester United: So, in December, I said Olympiacos had no hope of beating Manchester United. But Man U’s Premier League travails the last month – to say nothing of the pitiful loss to Sunderland in the League Cup – has to have given the denizens of Karaiskakis Stadium some cause for hope. Still picking the Red Devils to get through. Winner: Manchester United FC

Galatasaray AŞ vs. Chelsea FC: This only holds interest for me because of the reunion (of sorts) between Jose Mourihno and two of his former players – Didier Drogba & Wesley Sneijder. Otherwise – I got nothin’. Oh, Galatasary are currently second in the Turkish Super League. Chelsea will advance easily. Winner: Chelsea FC

FC Schalke 04 vs. Real Madrid: This should be easy for Madrid, but honestly, it’s hard to predict much with that team. As much talent as they have, they are still capable of throwing up random awful performances. I know little about Schalke’s performances this season, except to say they’re currently fourth in the Bundesliga and they just beat Bayer. This doesn’t help me predict anything, but since when has that stopped me? Winner: Real Madrid CF

FC Zenit vs. Borussia Dortmund: BvB are on something of an upswing, but even if that wasn’t the case, getting past Zenit should be easy peazy, especially with players like Henrikh Mkhitaryan returning from injury. Winner: Borussia Dortmund

Actual Rd of 16 Draw

I may have mentioned that my prediction skills are terrible. But hey – at least I got Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich right!

My quick thoughts on what the balls threw up in Nyon (wait, that sounds bad. Oh well).

Manchester City vs. FC Barcelona: Well, some say City’s owners have been trying to recreate Barcelona in Manchester, so I guess this will be the true test of how far along they are in that (wait for it) project.

Olympiacos vs Manchester United: Given the way United have performed this season, Olympiacos will think they have a chance. They will be wrong.

AC Milan vs. Atlético de Madrid: Atletico have been so good this season (see how they ran away with Group G?), but this Milan team – shoddy though it is – will put up a fight.

Bayer 04 Leverkeusen vs. Paris Saint-Germain: One of the more intriguing and hard to call ties of this round. Technically, PSG should easily get past Bayer. But then, technically, Bayer shouldn’t even be in this round given how poorly they performed in their group.

Galatasaray AŞ vs. Chelsea FC: The reunion of Mou and King Didier.

FC Schalke 04 vs. Real Madrid: Like Bayer 04, Schalke shouldn’t even be in this round, and I don’t know if they’ll have enough to threaten this star-studded Madrid side.

FC Zenit vs. Borussia Dortmund: I appreciate that Zenit midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk has already started the trash talking months in advance of this tie. But Zenit had better enjoy being in the knockout stages while it lasts – cuz it won’t last long.

Arsenal FC vs. FC Bayern Munchen:
My lone correct prediction. Hard to say how this one will play out. Bayern is the stronger, deeper team, but they just had their first loss of this season’s Champions League to Manchester City last week. And it was Arsenal who inflicted one of Bayern’s two CL losses last season (albeit past the point when it mattered). Another one that’s tough to call.

Rd of 16 Draw Projections

The Group Stage of UEFA Champions League is over, and to my mind, a whole new tournament begins with the round of 16 draw.

My projections for the draw before it’s revealed in a few hours:

Manchester United vs. AC Milan

Real Madrid vs. Bayer 04 Leverkeusen

Paris Saint-Germain vs. FC Zenit

FC Bayern Munchen vs. Arsenal FC

Chelsea FC vs. Olympiacos

Borussia Dortmund vs. Galatasary AŞ

Club Atletico de Madrid vs. Manchester City FC

FC Barcelona vs. Schalke 04

And So the Group Stage Ends

After six matchdays, the UEFA Champions League has whittled to 16 the 32 teams that began the Group Stage in September. Along the way, some groups threw up surprises (Ciao, Juventus), while others stayed tight until almost the last kick.

At the start of the Group Stage, I made my picks for winners and runners-up. So, how did I do?

In Group A, I picked Manchester United and Bayer LeverKeusen to prevail, and they did – though not before putting out some lackluster performances. Group B was supposed to yield Real Madrid and Juventus as winner and runner-up, respectively. But while the Spaniards did their part (progressing through the group undefeated), Juventus started the competition playing badly and were eventually eliminated on this last matchday by Galatasary. Likewise, in Group C, Benfica, my pick for runner-up to Paris Saint-Germain, are out of the tournament; Greek team Olympiacos is going to the round of 16 instead.

Group D proved to be status quo as defending champions Bayern Munich and Manchester City are on to the next round – the latter for the first time. No doubt Man City will take confidence from their defeat of Bayern on the final matchday.

Despite twice defeating Chelsea, Switzerland’s FC Basel are out of the competition after losing to Schalke 04. Honestly, this is surprising to me. Basel played Chelsea off the park TWICE, and Schalke have been weaksauce in this competition and in the Bundesliga. Yet Chelsea and Schalke are the teams that ended up going through from Group E. At least I got the winner and runner-up right for this group!

As advertised, the Group of Death (Group F) showed no mercy, as Napoli were eliminated despite beating Arsenal 2-0 on Matcday 6. Borussia Dortmund squeaked into the round of 16 with just about the last kick of their game against Marseille. Seeing Gonzalo Higuain cry reminded me of why a Group of Death stresses me out. Inevitably, hearts get broken.

Zenit St. Petersburg followed Atletico Madrid out of Group G, giving me a perfect record in this group and ensuring that I get to continue ogling the pretty that is Anatoliy Tymoshchuk in the next round.

Finally, in Group H, Barcelona won the Group and AC Milan did just enough to come out runners-up. But I ran out of fucks to give about this group when I saw that Barca and Milan were drawn together again.

So, another Group Stage ends, and draw day for the round of 16 awaits on December 16. I’ll be up bright and early for it.

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