Champions League round-up
It's been a long while since the previous post, a longer while since my previous article. But at 8.30am I have eventually made some time to come onto the computer. There have been mixed results in Europe over the past 48hrs from the British contingent and a controversial ending in one of them. Not the Lille v Man Utd fixture, I refer to the Nou Camp last night!! We were not expected to get anything there, that is controversial!
Joking aside, it was a good result for Liverpool, quite frankly even a draw would have been good perhaps with the exception of a no-score one. The seven days prior to last night documented issues within both camps. Samuel Eto'o publicly responded to the words of Barca coach Frank Rijkaard and teammate Ronaldinho who spoke out after apparently refused to come on, after having warmed up, against Racing Santander. Eto'o and Ronaldinho publicly hugged to show it was not contentious between them, yet between the Cameroon striker and the coach it is questionable still. Eto'o was not in the team last night.
Liverpool went on a training break away in Portugal and encountered an alleged altercation between John Arne Riise and Craig Bellamy leading up to an attempt of kneecapping with a 9 iron. This would appear to threaten any build-up and such a thing is unheard of going into an important match. It was good to see Riise and Bellamy congratulate each other after the goals and at full time. Put the handbags away and get on with business.
Much is currently the headlines in football of the Lille - Man Utd match. There is the old debate about when is a freekick allowed to be suddenly taken without the opposition being ready. I'm not so clear on it myself, my understanding is when it is direct the referee need not signal with his whistle. He steps away and the kick can be taken, which Ryan Giggs duly obliged with a well placed curler. The ensuing scenes of derision with a member of the Lille coaching staff clearly gesturing to the Lille players to come off the pitch in protest, players angrily approaching the referee. When play resumed, Gary Neville was struck by an object and met a hail of objects when taking a throw. I await what findings UEFA will come to.
Paul Merson was on Sky Sports Gillette Soccer with Rob McCaffrey and guests commentating over the PSV v Arsenal match when I switched over to tune in on all football results briefly. Merson mentioned that PSV simply resigned to not chasing the ball and therefore left Arsenal with overall possession. In Merson's words, he said there was no way Arsenal were going to lose the game. McCaffrey made reference to the effect that Merson's words were bold so early into the game and so they turned out to be. I was more concerned with Celtic v AC Milan and did not watch Arsenal, however Merson stated Thierry Henry had given the ball away so often it was a surprise Arsene Wenger had not torn his hair out. Henry being Henry, I found that difficult to believe. Arsenal enjoyed the first half and then apparently PSV played better in the second. Yet with the return leg at The Emirates, I fancy the Gunners to reverse the deficit.
I would imagine Celtic being content with not conceding to AC on Tuesday. While AC enjoyed chances from the beginning with a save by Artur Boruc from Alberto Gilardinho, Celtic equally contested through chances from Lee Naylor and Thomas Gravesen, to name two. With both sides missing a few key players, who may hopefully return in a fortnight's time, this battle is not over. Ac maybe favourites in their home ground but with players returning, Gordon Stratchen could still pull a result out of the ordinary.
Jose Mourinho returned to his former club, with the memories of his first European cup win. With John Terry's left ankle strapped after Monday's training, the centre-back appeared prepared to lead the Chelsea side onto the Estadio do Dragao pitch. Yet after just seven minutes into the match Terry went over on his right ankle and it looked painful to the degree the defender signalled he could not carry on. I hope Chelsea have not rushed him back too early, he will miss the weekend's League Cup final. Porto seemed to be of no persuasion of Chelsea's reputation and took the lead, only for Andriy Shevchenko to cut across a typical Shevchenko goal to equalise. While Chelsea worked well to keep out an energetic Porto, I felt Didier Drogba was not his effective self and otherwise would have put Chelsea ahead. The main thing is Chelsea finished unbeaten to take back to Stamford Bridge.
A word on the other teams: I fancy Lyon and Valencia, bot of whom held well away from home. Though Lyon are apparently not firing as excellently as before at home, they still looked good last night at Roma. Valencia came from behind twice at Inter with two sweet goals, particularly that of David Villa's freekick from some 30-35 yards. Real Madrid looked good but conceded twice so it is still open as to their progress.