Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

UEFA Champions League: Quarter-Final Preview

Posted in European Football by peterbein on March 29, 2010
FC Bayern v Manchester United

FC Bayern München plays Manchester United in a repeat of the 1998-99 UEFA Champions League final

The UEFA Champions League is now at the quarter-final stage and there are four mouth-watering clashes that whet the appetite for the feast of football which lies ahead in the next fortnight. “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” looks at the current form guide of each pairing of teams involved in the last eight of the competition:

FC BAYERN MÜNCHEN (Germany) v MANCHESTER UNITED (England)

This game brings back memories of United’s famous last-gasp triumph in the 1998-99 UEFA Champions League final where the Red Devils came from behind in second half stoppage time to win a thrilling contest 2-1. FC Bayern have gained revenge since then having knocked United out of this competition at the quarter-final stage in 2000-01, going on to lift the trophy against Valencia CF in that same season. At the moment both teams are, as expected, fighting for their respective national championships with Manchester United topping the English Premier League and FC Bayern just two points behind current leaders FC Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga. However the form of the two teams makes interesting reading as United have won all three of their games (against Fulham FC, Liverpool FC and Bolton Wanderers) since knocking AC Milan out of the Champions League in the Round of 16. In contrast FC Bayern have won only one of their last three league games, losing the last two matches to Eintracht Frankfurt and VfB Stuttgart, although they did reach the DFB Pokal final thanks to a “Traumtor” (dream goal) from Arjen Robben. Two potential classic matches await in this fixture.

OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS (France) v FC GIRONDINS de BORDEAUX (France)

During the UEFA Champions League draw in Nyon the reaction of Olympique Lyonnais chairman Jean-Michel Aulas said it all when his team were paired with fellow compatriots Girondins de Bordeaux in the last eight of this competition. After he had laughed off the events of the draw ceremony the serious business of preparing for France’s biggest football contest for many years began. This is a match that will grip the French nation as it will be a fascinating duel between the two teams who have won the last eight championships with Girondins having brought OL‘s fantastic run of seven successive championships to an end last season. Domestically Girondins are hanging on to the lead in Ligue 1 by a thread with no fewer than five teams capable of mounting a realistic challenge to their crown and their European opponents will want to remind Laurent Blanc’s men that there will be psychological points to be scored in this match. Olympique Lyonnais lie two points behind the leaders (albeit having played two games more) and will wish to make a statement in this game in order to sew a few seeds of doubt in the heads of the league leaders. Since the Round of 16 stage FC Girondins have only played two matches, winning one in the league against Lille OSC but losing the first domestic silverware of the season last Saturday in the Coupe de la Ligue final against Olympique Marseille. Olympique Lyonnais have a mixed record since they sensationally knocked-out Real Madrid in the last round, taking four points from their last three games.

FC Barcelona v Arsenal FC

Juliano Belletti scored the winning goal for FC Barcelona in the 2005-06 UEFA Champions League final against Arsenal FC

ARSENAL FC (England) v FC BARCELONA (Spain)

There may be more history in the FC Bayern – Manchester United match but this is the match that all football purists everywhere will be looking forward to. Defending European champions FC Barcelona will hope to put Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal FC side to the sword in a repeat of the 2005-06 UEFA Champions League final and a game which brings Gunners legend Thierry Henry back to his old club. He has publicly stated before this game that he will “always be an Arsenal fan” despite him now sporting the famous Blaugrana shirt of the Catalans. There is a reunion of sorts for Arsenal captain Cesc Fàbregas who will return to his boyhood heroes in the second leg fixture at Camp Nou. With both teams playing arguably the most exciting brand of football anywhere in Europe it should be the most technical and skillful of the four quarter-final match-ups. Both teams are in good form domestically since qualifying from the Round of 16 with Barça winning all three of their games against Real Zaragoza, Osasuna and Real Mallorca to keep in touch with eternal rivals Real Madrid CF at the top of La Liga. Arsenal are currently four points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United having dropped two points in their most recent game against Birmingham City following wins against Hull City and West Ham United.

INTERNAZIONALE FC (Italy) v CSKA MOSCOW (Russia)

Both of these teams pulled out amazing victories in the Round of 16 with Jose Mourinho’s Inter disposing of his former club Chelsea FC and Russian side CSKA Moscow knocking out Sevilla FC who were fancied as outside favourites by many people prior to their elimination in this tournament. Both of these teams played each other in the UEFA Champions League as recently as the 2007-08 season with the Italians having the better of their two games in the group stage beating the Army Men 2-1 in Russia and 4-2 in Italy. Internazionale FC are currently top of Italy’s Serie A but only by one point having dropped five out of the last available nine points in the league. Since knocking out Chelsea the Nerazzurri struggled to a draw against Palermo, beat relegation-threatened Livorno and lost the crucial top-of-the-table clash at Stadio Olimpico on Saturday to AS Roma who now lie in second place. The Russian Premier League season is only three games old and the Muscovites have started the season well having taken seven out of nine points to share the lead with three other teams. An opening day win over Amkar Perm and a Matchday 3 victory win over Anzhi Makhachkala sandwiched a goalless draw in the big local derby against Dinamo Moscow.

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUARTER-FINALS (team on left is home first)

1st Leg 30/03/10; 2nd Leg 07/04/10

FC Bayern München v Manchester United

Olympique Lyonnais v FC Girondins de Bordeaux

1st Leg 31/03/10; 2nd Leg 06/04/10

Arsenal FC v FC Barcelona

Internazionale FC v CSKA Moscow

UEFA: Who will win the UEFA Champions League 2010? (Poll)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on March 19, 2010

The draw for the quarter-finals and semi-finals have taken place today in Nyon, Switzerland and there are some very interesting matches to come in the remainder of the competition. Below is the draw for the UEFA Champions League and we have created a poll so that you can vote for the team who you think will be lifting the trophy in the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid on Saturday, May 22:

QUARTER-FINALS (1st leg 30-31 March; 2nd leg 06-07 April)

1. OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS (France) v GIRONDINS de BORDEAUX (France)

2. FC BAYERN MÜNCHEN (Germany) v MANCHESTER UNITED (England)

3. ARSENAL FC (England) v FC BARCELONA (Spain)

4. INTERNAZIONALE FC (Italy) v CSKA MOSCOW (Russia)

SEMI-FINALS (1st leg 20-21 April; 2nd leg 27-28 April)

5. Winner Match 2 v Winner Match 1

6. Winner Match 4 v Winner Match 3

FINAL (Saturday, 22 May)

7. Winner Match 5 v Winner Match 6

UEFA Champions League trophy

UEFA Champions League trophy

UEFA Champions League: Round of 16 Review

Posted in European Football by peterbein on March 17, 2010
Samir Nasri

Samir Nasri scored a wonder goal in Arsenal's 5-0 second leg victory over FC Porto giving The Gunners a 6-2 aggregate win.

The UEFA Champions League Round of 16 phase is over and the eight clubs who have qualified for the quarter-final stage can look forward to the draw at UEFA Headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland on Friday. With the draw for the quarter-finals and semi-finals taking place each club will be assessing all potential routes to the final to be played in Madrid on Saturday, May 22nd. Here is a round-up of who qualified and how they got on in their last 16 encounters:

ARSENAL FC (England)

Arsène Wenger’s side gave away two sloppy goals in the first leg in Oporto which gave the Portuguese side the ascendancy. However Sol Campbell’s header in the first half of the first leg gave The Gunners hope that they could turn things around at The Emirates stadium which they did in fine style. Niklas Bendtner, who had been lambasted by all his critics for missing a hat-trick of gilt-edged chances in a league game three days earlier, would silence his doubters with a hat-trick of goals in the second leg, sealing the game with a penalty in stoppage time. Emmanuel Eboue and, most famously, Samir Nasri completed the scoring as Arsenal completed a 6-2 rout of their hapless opponents.

FC BARCELONA (Spain)

European champions Barcelona march on into the quarter-finals with a 5-1 aggregate victory over VfB Stuttgart whose solid performance to secure a 1-1 draw at home in the first leg seemed a distant memory after just 22 minutes in Wednesday’s second leg at Camp Nou. Cacau, who scored in the first leg for Stuttgart, was a frustrated figure along with with his team mates as Messi and co began to run riot over the Swabian side. Messi scored two great goals from outside the box in this game (13 and 60 mins) and was the pivotal figure in a game which Barça totally controlled. Young guns Pedro (22 mins) and substitute Bojan, who scored with his first touch of the game on 89 mins, secured a 4-0 second leg win and means that Barcelona are the team that the other seven will want to avoid in Friday’s draw.

FC BAYERN MÜNCHEN (Germany)

Having easily negotiated their way past Juventus in the group stage FC Bayern found a much tougher challenge in their two-legged affair with AC Fiorentina. The first leg, which finished 2-1 to Bayern, ended in controversy as Miroslav Klose’s 89th minute winning goal was scored whilst he was clearly in an offside position which went unnoticed by the officials. In the second leg Bayern had a real fight on their hands as the Italians took a 2-0 lead early in the second half which left the Münchener trailing overall in the tie, however Mark van Bommel scored on the hour to level the tie 3-3 on aggregate. Four minutes after van Bommel’s goal though Fiorentina took a 3-1 lead on the night to give themselves the advantage thanks to their player of the season Stevan Jovetić but Dutch sensation Arjen Robben scored one of the goals of the tournament just one minute later to level the aggregate score at 4-4. Bayern’s two away goals meant that the Viola had to find another goal from somewhere but Bayern’s defence held firm for the remaining twenty five minutes of the tie.

CSKA MOSCOW (Russia)

Perhaps the surprise team left standing in the last eight of the competition. Russian side CSKA have only just returned to domestic action after a three month winter break and were out of match practice before their two-legged tie with Spanish side Sevilla CF. In the first leg Chilean winger Mark González scored a wonderful long range effort to restore parity in the 66th minute after Sevilla’s Álvaro Negredo had given the Andalucians a deserved lead on 25 minutes. In the second leg the Russians scored first thanks to Tomáš Necid but their lead lasted for only two minutes as Diego Perotti levelled for the home side. The crucial event over the two legs was Keisuke Honda’s strike ten minutes into the second half which gave CSKA  a second away goal meaning that Sevilla had to score two more goals without reply in order to qualify for the last eight but it wasn’t to be. The Russians held out comfortbaly and will hope to surprise further in the quarter-finals.

GIRONDINS de BORDEAUX (France)

The French champions had a fairly comfortable 3-1 aggregate win over perennial Greek champions Olympiakos in this Champions League tie. Michaël Ciani scored the only goal in the first leg in the Greek port of Piraeus to leave Bordeaux in a very good position ahead of the second leg in France. Yohan Gourcuff scored after just five minutes in the second leg to leave the French side in a commanding position. Olympiakos did pull a goal a goal back on 64 minutes thanks to their top scorer Konstantinos Mitroglu, the goal came just four minutes after Olympiakos’ Matt Derbyshire was shown a red card for a second bookable offence. The game did even up in terms of players as Bordeaux had Alou Diarra sent off on 69 minutes and the Greeks belatedly began to believe that a second away goal was possible. However Bordeaux eventually sealed the deal when Maraoune Chamakh scored a header on 88 minutes leaving just enough time for Olof Mellberg to be the second Olympiakos player shown the red card deep into stoppage time.

Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho, aka The Special One, masterminded a win over his old club Chelsea FC with Italian champions Internazionale FC

INTERNAZIONALE FC (Italy)

All of the coverage before this game was centred on Inter coach Jose Mourinho, which was perhaps a preconceived tactic by the man himself to avoid any unneccessary scrutiny of his team before the games with Chelsea FC. If this was a deliberate tactic from The Special One then it worked a treat for the Nerazzurri who have qualifed for the last eight for the first time since the 2005-06 season. The first leg in the San Siro stadium was a sell-out and the home fans were celebrating inside three minutes thanks to a great strike from Diego Milito. However Chelsea FC gradually upped-the-ante and were rewarded after 51 minutes when Solomon Kalou’s shot from distance was deflected in and the small contingent of fans from London were celebrating high in the stands…but not for long. Inter regained the lead just four minutes later thanks to Esteban Cambiasso and the tie was set up nicely for the return match at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium. However much of the game failed to live up to the hype due to Inter’s fine execution of Mourinho’s strategy in the first half which saw few chances created and the home fans left frustrated. Inter became more offensively involved in the second half and were celebrating in the 75th minute when Samuel Eto’o proved Chelsea’s nemesis, not for the first time, with a well struck shot low into the corner of the goal to give the Italian champions a deserved win.

MANCHESTER UNITED (England)

The English champions went through yet again to the last eight of the Champions League to keep up their impressive record in Europe’s elite competition and once again it was Wayne Rooney who inspired the Red Devils to victory scoring four goals over the course of their two-legged encounter with seven times European champions AC Milan. In the first leg Ronaldinho scored early to shock United and the Italians could’ve had at least four goals in the first half but the Rossoneri were wasteful in front of goal and they were to regret their lack of firepower when Paul Scholes scored a fluke equalizer in the 36th minute. Rooney then took charge scoring twice in the second half before Clarence Seedorf’s late consolation gave Milan hope in the second leg by reducing the arrears to 3-2. The second leg at Old Trafford, however, was no contest once Rooney (who else?) opened the scoring on 13 minutes. Further strikes from Rooney, Park Ji-Sung and Darren Fletcher sealed a comfortable win for United who hope to reach a third consecutive Champions League final.

OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS (France)

In what was the shock of the round Olympique Lyonnais disposed of los Galacticos of Real Madrid by securing a 2-1 aggregate victory over the nine time European champions whose dreams of a tenth triumph in their home stadium on May 22nd now lie in tatters. After Jean Makoun had given the French side a 1-0 first leg victory with a splendid long range strike in Lyon, Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal after six minutes in the return leg had all Madridistas hoping that the floodgates would open early. But after Real had missed a glut of further chances throughout the game it was to be Miralem Pjanić who would spoil the party when his 75th minute away goal meant that Real had to score another two goals to secure their passage to the last eight but it wasn’t to be.

UEFA Champions League: Round of 16 preview 2

Posted in European Football by peterbein on February 16, 2010
FC Bayern

FC Bayern have been celebrating a lot in the German Bundesliga recently. Will this continue in the Champions League against AC Fiorentina?

The UEFA Champions League is back! “Stoppage Time” continues its preview of the Round of 16 games with a focus on those matches taking place on Wednesday with the second legs on Tuesday, March 9th:

FC BAYERN MÜNCHEN (Germany) v AC FIORENTINA (Italy)

Whereas Italian side AC Fiorentina had a comfortable ride in Champions League group E disposing of Olympique Lyonnais, Liverpool FC and Debreceni to finish top, German Rekordmeister (record champions) FC Bayern had to go to Turin and win away at Juventus to claim the second qualification spot in their group. At the time FC Bayern were struggling for consistency under new coach Louis van Gaal but a heroic 4-1 win against Italy’s Old Lady signalled a change in fortune for the Bavarian giants. Since then FC Bayern have been faultless in the Bundesliga while AC Fiorentina have slid down the Serie A table and are now finding it difficult to qualify for European competition next season.

Since the conclusion of the Champions League group stage FC Bayern have gone from strength to strength having won their last eight games in the league and are now level on points with joint leaders Bayer 04 Leverkusen, trailing behind the Werkself (Work’s Eleven) by virtue of goal difference. Having also qualified for the DFB Pokal (German Cup) semi-finals all is rosy at the Allianz Arena, at the moment, with the German side quietly contemplating a chance at going for a treble similar to what FC Barcelona accomplished last season. AC Fiorentina, on the other hand, have struggled with form and injuries since sealing their place in the knockout stages. The Viola have won only two of their last eight games in the league (against Bari and bottom club Siena) and from the heady heights of fourth have gone sliding down the table to their current rank of eleventh leaving them seven points from a UEFA Europa League place.

Although Mario Gomez has hit 14 goals so far in his maiden season at FC Bayern all of the fans’ expectations rest on the shoulders of Arjen Robben, who has been a revelation since his two goal introduction to German football against champions VfL Wolfsburg on Matchday 4 of the Bundesliga. The Dutchman is backed up by a returning Franck Ribéry who is desperate to show the fans the sort of form which led him to the German Footballer of the Year award in 2008. AC Fiorentina will hope that Stevan Jovetić, who impressed with his performance against Liverpool earlier this season, can once again perform on the European stage having scored three times in the tournament so far this season. However the Florentines have suffered with injuries this season and the news that defender Alessandro Gamberini will miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury is bad news for the club. With the Italian side having never won a competitive fixture in Germany before the omens are against Fiorentina but at least they will be at home in the second leg so it is imperative that Fiorentina can score an away goal tomorrow night.

FC PORTO (Portugal) v ARSENAL FC (England)

Two-time European champions FC Porto will be hoping to continue their good form in the UEFA Champions League this season as they have struggled in their defence of the championship back home with both SL Benfica and surprise team Sporting Braga out in front. The Dragões (Dragons) progressed in second place from group B two points behind Chelsea FC and nine points ahead of both Atlético de Madrid and APOEL Nicosia. Arsenal usually progress with ease to the knockout stages in this tournament but find the tough going when the business end of the season arrives. Five years without a trophy would be a disaster for Arsenal fans who still lament how close they came to winning the trophy in 2006 when they were losing finalists to FC Barcelona. However they topped group H ahead of Greek champions Olympiakos and will hope that they can kick-start their season again in Europe.

FC Porto lie in third-place in the Portuguese Liga Sagres nine points behind leaders SL Benfica having played a game less than the Lisbon side. In their seven games since the group stage FC Porto have won four of them but have suffered a solitary defeat in that time to Benfica which has left them trailing in their wake. The Dragons have found consolation in the Carlsberg Cup (Portuguese League Cup) having qualified for the final to be played next month against…..Benfica. Arsenal have won seven of their twelve Premier League games since the group phase but have suffered a recent dip by losing to their two challengers for the title, leaders Chelsea FC and champions Manchester United. They did recover by beating Liverpool FC at home in their most recent league encounter so are still third in the table only six points behind first place. However defeats in the two domestic cup competitions to Stoke City and Manchester City means that Arsène Wenger’s men only have the domestic championship and Champions League to play for.

FC Porto’s danger man is Falcao who, since moving to the club from Argentine giants River Plate, has scored 17 goals (3 in the Champions League) so far this season. If he can link up with Brazilian striker Hulk then the Arsenal defence may just have problems against such a strong forward line although the Portuguese do miss two key players in Ruben Micael and Ernesto Farias. Arsenal’s inspiration usually comes from captain Cesc Fabrègas and the Gunners will rely on him more than ever as they suffer from a list of injuries including the likes of Andrey Arshavin, Robin van Persie, Eduardo and William Gallas, to name but four.

REMEMBER: the other four quarter-finals ties play next week so we will continue with the previews from next Monday, February 22nd.