footy musings from a (relative) newbie

Posts tagged ‘manchester united’

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

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.

Appreciating the Summer of Soccer Shade

It’s been a minute (well, more than a minute) since I’ve posted. That’s partly due to being busy (new job, big vacation). But it was also due to not being inspired to write about football. The conclusion of the European season was so lackluster, I couldn’t think of anything significant to say about it (actually, I couldn’t think of a thing to say about it at all).

Summer soccer – specifically, Women’s World Cup – has me excited again. I wish I could say the same about the Gold Cup.

While I’m at it, I’ll throw International Champions Cup in the DGAF pile too.

But the thing that’s really entertaining me soccer-wise these days is the amount of shade being thrown within the soccer family.

You could say Pia Sundhage got the Summer of Shade off to a good start in this pre-WWC article in which she threw shade at several of her former charges in the USWNT.

“I said that to Abby,” she recalled. “I told her: ‘If I stayed, you would be a sub. The best sub ever. But a sub.’ There was no question about that in my mind.”

Oh damn.

Then Victor Valdes threw subtle shade in response to Louis Van Gaal’s accusation that Valdes refused to play for the Manchester United reserves last season.

In other MU Shade news, new signing Bastian Schweinsteiger had his own to throw in response Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer’s remarks that Basti wouldn’t be able to handle the Premier League and maybe should have gone to MLS instead.

“I don’t know when Beckenbauer moved to America, but I am 30,” Schweinsteiger said. “It is a challenge for me to prove I can do it here, but I am confident I can adjust to the Premier League.”

Well damn.

But the Shade Kings of this Summer of 2015 (at least so far) have to be the MLS players who took to Twitter last week with their thoughts on Commissioner Don Garber’s picks of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard for the MLS All Star Game  XI (Yes, the same Gerrard and Lampard who have played exactly one MLS league game between them).

Basically.

As I noted in a tweet of my own on the ASG

Tis the (Pre) Season

With the World Cup behind us, it’s time for European clubs to prepare for their seasons, which begin in mid- to late August. This means we USA-based fans get to see some of our favorite teams and players on our shores, as they arrive for pre-season tours.

These tours have been known to give us treats like training sessions open to the public and ripe for ogling; European players trying to understand and/or master baseball (who can forget Cristiano Ronaldo’s throwing out the first pitch at a Dodger’s game during last year’s pre-season); showboating antics that lead to scolding from their coaches, and the like.

This year, the last two UEFA Champions League winners – Real Madrid and Bayern Munich – will be here, as will AS Roma, Tottenham Hotspur, Inter Milan, Manchester City, A.C. Milan, Manchester United and…well, I could just name 90% of the squads from the Big Four European leagues, but I’m too lazy.

I’ll be watching as many of these matches as I can, though I confess: I still can’t get myself terribly excited about that International Champions Cup Fox Sports keeps flogging.

And so…the Quarterfinals

Glamour ties + Grudge Matches = Great European Nights

At least we hope so. I’ve written before that Champions League matches at this stage can be so cagey as to drive away any semblance of enjoyment for us fans.

That said, the balls in Nyon have spoken. My initial reactions to the quarterfinal matchups:

Manchester United vs. Bayern Munich: Um…
Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid: A big European test for the Digeo Simeone project
Real Madrid vs. Borussia Dortmund: A rematch of last year’s semi-final, which Dortmund won impressively.
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Chelsea: Is it wrong to call this the Oligarch’s Invitational? If so, I don’t want to be right.

Now that the field has been whittled to the best of the best, we’re due for a “shocking” upset. All of the above teams should beware.

On to the Next

Manchester United survived Olympiacos – and many a gloom & doom prediction – to advance to the Uefa Champions League quarterfinals. Time will tell if this good result is a turning point for David Moyes and his team or just a blip of good fortune in their season of misery.

Rounding out the quarterfinal lineup is Borussia Dortmund who survived a (sort of) comeback from Zenit St. Petersburg.

This Friday’s quarterfinal draw should be interesting.

Atletico Madrid
Borussia Dortmund
Chelsea FC
FC Barcelona
FC Bayern Munich
Manchester United
Paris Saint-Germain
Real Madrid

The only prediction I feel safe in making is that Chelsea will have to play one of the Madrid teams.

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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