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Saturday, March 10, 2007

The week that was in Europe - 6-8/03/07

It has been a good week of European football for the Brits this week, overall. Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea emerged further into the quarter-finals of the Champions League, Rangers came back from a goal down at Ibrox to level their UEFA Cup tie and Spurs put in another good away performance in Portugal to come away with a victory for their second leg UEFA campaign.

Liverpool played well against one of the best in Europe and current Champions and rattled a crossbar that has a hatred for John Arne Riise. Momo Sissoko almost got his first for the club, Ronaldinho hit the post, Peter Crouch almost equalised Eidur Gudjohnsen's only goal from yards. Good performance from Liverpool, arguably one that earned their progress as well as kept out the Spanish giants.

Man Utd had to endure an uncomfortable first half with Lille threatening to score but I sensed the French side had enough to come at Utd but not enough to susbtantially threaten to score. Their quality upfront was lacking and it told that Utd would score, ironically by Henrik Larsson in possibly his last Red Devils game. Utd go on to face Roma.

Chelsea also gave a lacklustre first half performance and were rocked when Porto scored first through Ricardo Quaresma, good goal. One half time break later and Chelsea were better, scoring twice to go through. If Liverpool-Barcelona was the tie of this round, then Chelsea v Valencia must be the one to watch for the quarter-finals.

Arsenal repeated their home game against CSKA Moscow in creating chance after chance yet failing to score and in the end drawing the game. This time drawing meant they were eliminated. It just was not to be for the Gunners and after PSV defender Alex scored in his own net the indications appeared to be Arsenal would use the fortune to turn up the heat on the Dutch side. Bringing on Thierry Henry therefore seemed appropriate, but an unfit Henry didn't fit this equation. A freekick later the Frenchman showed signs of discomfort that then went universal through the team as Alex nodded in an equaliser from a freekick seven minutes from time.

Celtic were the Braveheart of Scotland at the San Siro against AC Milan and it took a full ninety minutes of action with no goals scored to bring this tie into a further dogfight. The fact that Kaka would make a difference is not surprising as he made his run from midfield with space and a hesitant defence awaiting to slot under Artur Boruc. Celtic could not fashion a shot on goal to trouble the Italians and it would have taken any chance on goal just to get the vital equaliser to go through on. But Kaka's goal made a psychological impact, the Hoops lacking afterwards to at least hold the ball amongst the Milan defence.

Newcastle, Rangers and Spurs focused on the UEFA cup. Newcastle went goals-crazy for a 4-2 win, Rangers came from a goal behind to level at full time against Osasuna, and Spurs recorded another good away win in Portugal against a Braga side renowned domestically for their defensive record. Dimitar Berbatov really impressed again for Spurs, and he was practically taking the fight to Braga on his own so how he failed to score was one question.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

some fascinating ties no doubt. i think we're looking at a chelsea v liverpool rematch in the semis, and then an all english final.

3/10/2007 10:51 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

I wasn't going to go into predictions at this stage....but ok. Considering Liverpool v PSV, Man Utd v Roma, Chelsea v Valencia and Bayern Munich v AC Milan, on paper one may say Liverpool, Man Utd, Chelsea and AC Milan going through.

I mentioned PSV is not to be taken for granted. Ronald Koeman was at Benfica to eliminate MAn Utd and Liverpool and now adds Arsenal to his record. While our meet with PSV was good, this is where it really counts. There is to be no let up if Liverpool are to go through and I feel we can do well to emerge into the semis.

Roma are a good side and made Lyon worse in their own garden, the French side taking a unceremonious dip in form. But Utd are strong in all thirds and have a stinging attack to them which I cannot see at this moment Roma quelling.

Bayern Munich were hit in the first leg at the Bernabeu but came back well to narrow the aggregate. In the Allianz Arena, they came at Real with venom, the quickest goal in CL history. Real looked shook-up and needed a silly keeper challenge on Robinho to pull one back, though Sergio Ramos almost equalised. AC went through a treadmill with Celtic before Kaka's goal. I find this one difficult to tell, which could go down to who has whom back at the time. It could go down to the keepers, making Dida favourite over Oliver Kahn and therefore AC to go through.

Chelsea are Chelsea, second in the league, in all competitions remaining, one trophy already, great players that needed a half time push to go through. Valencia seem bent on overwhelming sides, refused to bow to Inter at the San Siro, didnt socre in the second leg but didnt concede either and I didn't think their temperament would be questioned as it will be by UEFA, disgraceful scenes at the Mestalla.

This is another difiicult one to tell, both sides attack well, good defenders, good strikers and a workhorse midfield. Something tells me the likes of Drogba, Robben and Essien will make Chelsea semi-finalists again.


3/10/2007 11:16 am

Blogger Pedro Morgado said...

Nice game. Supporters were fantastic.

This picture is wonderful.

Thank you, spurs!

3/10/2007 12:14 pm

Blogger T said...

Excellent commentary Redsman, and thanks for your comments Anon and Pedro (and good picture too!).

Naturally I'll focus on the Gunners exit. Redsman, you mention the similarity of the PSV match to our game at CSKA and I couldn't agree more: one of the stories of our season has been not converting our possession and attacking into goals. We simply didn't take our chances- particularly Adebayor and Fabregas in the space of a couple of mins after Alex had scored an OG.

Alex Hleb then made a big error conceding a really needless freekick by the corner flag in a rare PSV foray into our half- and boy we made to pay by a fantastic header by Alex. Goodness me- it was a glorious leap and fitting for the Brazilian defender to knock-us out because he was monumental at the back for PSV in both ties.

In the space of a fortnight we have been made to pay for not making the most our attacking game by conceding late sucker-punch goals (Drogba, McCarthy and now Alex). It is part of the learning process for what at the moment is a new and young team - and the lesson to learn is clear: be more ruthless up-front (we do miss Thierry and RVP) and keep your concentration for the full 90.

I agree with your predictions for the final four Redsman - and already envisage a semi-final second leg with Chelsea visiting Anfield: this will be billed as revenge-time given what happened in April 2005 in for me one of the most memorable games of recent years where Liverpool went ahead early thru Garcia's disputed goal and then somehow stood firm to a fantastically relentless Chelsea siege.

There is not one stand-out team in the final eight- and I can easily see one of the English teams winning the Cup. If Drogba remains fit I can see him being the vital player in this seasons Champs League.

3/10/2007 4:04 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Just a heads-up from the Liverpool FC official web-site, an account of supporters from both Liverpool and Barcelona on Tuesday:

Good reading and a show of how two sides, one a progressor, the other a loser, can come together and still appreciate each other, which is superb, considering what happened in the Mestalla this week.


3/10/2007 9:24 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well not much said about Arsenal, thanks very much. I couldn't stand to read anymore how we waltzed out of three cup opportunities within 10 days, shabby against Blackburn, against Chelski, and we should have hammered PSV what was Arsene doing bringing on Henry when he wasn't ready? Why didnt he use Aliadiere or Walcott instead? Why didnt we score, relying on a stupid own goal then a stupid freekick later and the same player scores for them.

Great team for the future, the young uns but we are being made to look like suckers. We have the players to take us further back into glory but they are not up for it on the big stage. Makes our Champs League final last season look lucky by comparison. I think Henry should leave at the end of the season if he isnt going to carry us as captain.

Oh yeah, read that article RedsMan, big difference was the gaps of seats at The Emirates and the Liverpool fans chanting with the Barcelona lot. We have got to get ourselves better motivated every game now, if Henry goes it will harder.

Fed Up Hurt Gooner fan

3/11/2007 4:39 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

OK, Anon (4.39PM), I feel the disappointment of a Gooner fan from Wednesday. I can't add much more to that supplied above by T, but I was frustrated for Liverpool not to score against Utd and then lose in injury time and I was equally frustrated during our match with Barcelona for doing the same, the first leg being the all important result.

Nothing to do after a disappointment other than pick your self up and get on. It was Arsenal who knocked us out of two cup competitions within three days, no team had scored six at anfield for 77 years.


3/11/2007 9:22 pm


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