Europe: Big wins for Bayern and Real Madrid; Cups Review
To finish the year there has been domestic cup action this week throughout Europe. Some matches were called off due to bad weather in northern Europe including the entire first leg fixture list in Belgium’s Coupe Cofidis but, overall, there has been good quality football played in Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the best of the action:
GERMANY: Schalke 04 scraped through by the skin of their teeth against 2. Liga outfit FC Augsburg with the Gelsenkirchen side going through 1-0 courtesy of a Jefferson Farfan goal with just six minutes remaining. TSG 1899 Hoffenheim also put their name in the hat for the last eight with a 2-0 home win over Borussia Mönchengladbach with Gylfi Sigurðsson and Demba Ba doing the damage. On Wednesday cup holders FC Bayern went to VfB Stuttgart for the second time in three days and were involved in a humdinger of a game. Having put five past their hosts in the league game on Sunday, FC Bayern went one better as they beat the Swabians with a 6-3 scoreline. The biggest shock of the round came in Lower Saxony where English coach Steve McClaren is under increasing pressure after seeing VfL Wolfsburg go out against 2. Liga side Energie Cottbus. There were also wins for MSV Duisburg (2-1 over 1.FC Köln) and Alemania Aachen who prevailed 5-3 on penalties following a 1-1 draw against Eintracht Frankfurt. The games involving Kickers Offenbach v 1.FC Nürnberg and TuS Koblenz v 1.FC Kaiserslautern were postponed due to bad weather.
GREECE: In the Kypello Elladas defending cup holders Panathinaikos got the better of tricky opponents Trikala FC by 3-2 on Wednesday whilst local rivals Olympiakos Piraeus scraped through their game away at Asteras Tripolis with Spanish striker Ariel Ibagaza scoring the winner late in the game with four minutes remaining. Their namesakes Olympiakos Volou are through following a 2-1 win at home to Panserraikos on Tuesday whilst PAOK Thessaloniki, fresh from their UEFA Europa League exploits, also qualified for the quarter-finals with a 2-1 home win against PAS Ioannina. Atrmoitos beat AO Kavala 1-0 in the remaining game already played this week whilst three games take place this evening, the pick of the games being the meeting of Super League Greece sides Larissa and AEK Athens.
NETHERLANDS: There were easy wins this week for FC Twente and PSV Eindhoven. The former wrapped up a convincing 5-0 home destruction of Vitesse Arnhem whilst the latter conjured up a 3-1 win away at Roda JC Kerkrade. The only other game so far this week saw FC Utrecht get the better of FC Volendam by a goal to nil at home. Tonight sees defending champions Ajax Amsterdam face a tough home test against AZ Alkmaar but the game between this season’s surprise package in the Eredivisie, FC Groningen, and SC Genemuiden is now postponed becuase of the weather. The other three games in this round will be played in mid-January.
SPAIN: It was a job well done for Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey Round of 16, first leg as they held FC Barcelona to a goalless draw in the Camp Nou on Tuesday in a match pitting the two most successful Copa del Rey winners against each other. Valencia were also involved in a goalless draw against local rivals Villarreal whilst a night of drawn games was completed on Tuesday with Deportivo La Coruña’s 1-1 draw at Cordoba CF. On Wednesday there were wins for last season’s finalists Sevilla FC (5-3 v Malaga CF) and Atlético de Madrid (1-0 v RCD Espanyol) while Real Madrid easily saw off Levante CF by an 8-0 scoreline, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo both bagging a hat-trick apiece. The other two matches this week saw a victories for UD Almería (4-3 v Real Mallorca) and Getafe (2-1 away at Real Betis).
TURKEY: The Kupasi Türkiye has reached the last 16 stage. It has a group stage, unlike most other domestic knockout competitions, where the teams have been split into four groups of five teams. In Group A both Gaziantepspor and Galatasaray top the standings with four points from two games following their meeting on Tuesday where they both gained a point from a 1-1 draw. Beşiktaş are only in third place in Group B but they did chalk up their first win of the group with a 3-2 victory over second place Konya Sekerspor whilst Trabzonspor are in fourth having only drawn 2-2 at home to Gaziantep. The biggest surprise so far is that Fenerbahçe lie rock bottom in Group C having lost both of their two opening games against Ankaragücü and, on Tuesday, against first place Bucaspor. Group D saw league champions Bursaspor top the standings, defeating Karsiyaka Izmir 2-0 on Tuesday.