footy musings from a (relative) newbie

Posts tagged ‘real madrid’

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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I Have El Clasico Fatigue

Truthfully, I’ve had a low-grade version of it since the 2013-2014 La Liga fixture list was released. Because, as Sid Lowe, who covers Spanish football, notes, even when there’s no game being played, it feels like El Clasico is always going on!

For me, this means that when FC Barcelona and Real Madrid meet for the first time in league play this season, I’ll be in the very small minority that will greet the match with a big ol’ yawn.

Look, I get that these are the two biggest teams in world football, and that when they play each other, it’s about more than just football.

But as someone who follows the game intently, I think familiarity with the neverending Clasico has bred contempt. Their weekly results are endlessly compared and pored over; they engage in tit-for-tat battles over player signings, coaching pedigrees and who spent the most money. All of this is covered, not just by the Spanish football press, but by British and U.S. football websites as well. It’s ubiquitous to the point of aggravation.

By the time the actual matches roll around, I’m exhausted and have zero interest in watching them. It doesn’t help that many of the matches turn out to be tedious affairs – so much so, that I almost wish for the inevitable red card and/or fisticuffs to break up the monotony.

The teams may prove me wrong with this latest match, but for now, I’m searching for a cure for my El Clasico fatigue.

(For the record, though, I’m picking Barca to win 3-0. They’re at home and Madrid have been crap all season).

Champions League: Quick Thoughts on Matchday 3

Group standings are now starting to take shape. Stuff I’ll be keeping an eye on when Matchday 4 comes around on November 5/6.

  • I’m pleasantly surprised to see Zenit St Petersburg – one of my picks to move on from Group G – are in second place behind Atletico Madrid.
  • With their loss to Real Madrid, Juventus are languishing in third place in Group B. Hmmm…
  • Arsenal vs. Borussia Dortmund lived up to the hype, something of a rarity for marquee matches in this competition.
  • Bayern Munich and Paris St. Germain both slammed down 5-0 wins today. Damn.
  • Chelsea beat Schalke pretty easily, with Fernando Torres scoring 2 goals and continuing his European scoring form. See, I can say nice things about Chelsea.

For now, I’ll stick with my picks for group winners and runners-up (see below) – though Juventus and Benfica are starting to worry me:

Group A

Manchester United

Bayer Leverkusen

Group B

Real Madrid

Juventus

Group C

Paris Saint-Germain

Benfica

Group D

Bayern Munich

Manchester City

Group E

Chelsea

Schalke 04

Group F

Arsenal

Borussia Dortmund

Group G

Atletico Madrid

Zenit St. Petersburg

Group H

Barcelona

AC Milan

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