Monthly Archives: February 2016
Posted: February 29, 2016Categories: Real Madrid
The first week of round of 16 fixtures for the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League delivered mostly small advantages. Wolfsburg edged out Gent 3-2, Paris Saint Germain beat Chelsea 2-1, and Benfica took a 1-0 advantage of Zenit Saint Petersburg. Of those advantages, only Wolfsburg's seems highly unlikely to fall in the second leg of the round. Gent lost at home, which means that Wolfsburg both took the lead in the aggregate and picked up three away goals for their trouble. Chelsea and Zenit, however, both lost in away games, and the Blues even picked up an away goal, meaning that neither football club can be totally counted out of the Champions League tournament at this point.
Real Madrid, on the other hand, feel like the safest of bets to advance to the quarterfinals. The Vikings beat Italy's AS Roma 2-0 in their first round of 16 leg, and they did it at
After a more than two-month break, the UEFA Champions League has resumed with the first leg of the round of 16. For Chelsea FC, the return to the high-profile tournament was something of a moment of truth. Despite a dismal autumn performance in the English Premier League, the Blues managed to fight their way to the top of their group in the Champions League, winning four of their six games and edging out Dynamo Kyiv, Porto, and Maccabi Tel Aviv for the honor. Sure, Chelsea's group, Group G, was one of the easier ones in the competition, but in a period where any win was a landmark for the football club, qualifying for the round of 16 was nothing short of a miracle.
Theoretically, winning their group should have given Chelsea an easier draw for the round of 16. Instead, the Blues were drawn against reigning French champs, Paris Saint Germain, who finished second to Real Madrid in Group A. PSG have been borderline unstoppable in the Ligue 1 this season and are widely expected to
Posted: February 26, 2016Categories: Atletico Madrid
By Karl Matchett.
Having led La Liga at the turn of the year and still been in the running to compete for a treble, Atletico Madrid will be disappointed at how the last month has panned out, losing their spot atop the table to Barcelona and exiting the Copa del Rey at the hands of Celta Vigo.
Their latest couple of fixtures have highlighted both the strengths and the weaknesses of this Atleti side: 0-0 in La Liga against Villarreal, and 0-0 against PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League.
A near-impenetrable back line, marshalled by Diego Godin and with a last line of protection-Jan Oblak-as good as any side other than Bayern Munich have to offer, Atletico simply don't concede many chances, and have a top-class 'keeper to stop those which do sneak through. At the other end of the pitch though, the
By Greg Lea.
There are now just three and half months left before the 15th edition of the European Championship gets under way in France. England's first match takes place on the second day of the tournament, with Roy Hodgson's side facing Russia at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on June 11. With the competition closing in, there are still a number of selection issues for the Three Lions manager to iron out before he settles on a final 23-man squad to take across the Channel.
In terms of goalkeepers, the choice appears to be pretty straightforward: Joe Hart will be England's No.1 and start between the sticks as long as he is not injured, with Stoke City's Jack Butland and Southampton's Fraser Forster likely to be the Manchester City man's two deputies. West Bromwich Albion's Ben Foster, Burnley's Tom Heaton and John Ruddy of Norwich City are other options, although none are of the standard of the trio that are likely to be called up.
In defence, Nathaniel Clyne,
Posted: February 24, 2016Categories: Manchester City
By Karl Matchett.
Improbably, in a weak and unpredictable Premier League where last season's relegation battlers Leicester City are top in February, the chances of Manchester City reclaiming the title have almost gone.
Improbable because their main rivals have floundered, improbable because of the enormous sums of money spent in summer and improbable because of the depth of the squad-yet Manuel Pellegrini has somehow still managed to find himself three places and six points off the summit. It's a monumental failure on his part to guide this squad to first place, quite comfortably in fact, and now that everybody knows he is on his way out of the Etihad door, Pellegrini's chances of leaving as anything other than a failure are rapidly dwindling.
Having also essentially thrown away their chances
By Edward Stratmann.
Due to the Stadio Olimpico hosting the Six Nations Rugby contest between Italy and England, Lazio's Serie A match with Hellas Verona was pushed forward to the unusual timeslot of 7.45pm on a Thursday night.
Stefano Pioli's men knew they were in for a real battle against the bottom placed strugglers, however, for the Mastiffs were unbeaten in their last five matches heading into the clash. Ultimately, while Luigi Delneri's side put in a spirited showing, they eventually succumbed to Lazio's quality, losing 5-2.
One man whose performance deserved special mention was Felipe Anderson. The enigmatic attacker, who's endured a rather turbulent campaign to date, once again showed why he's such a frustrating player for Lazio's fans. On his day, he's unstoppable, but he's had far too many off days this season. But then, to remind us all of his incredible talent, he'll put in a performance like the one against Verona on Thursday. One full of skill, pace,
Leicester City lost a game last weekend, falling 1-2 against Arsenal, but the defeat barely seemed to matter. The Foxes remain the highest ranked team in the Premier League, and as the weeks go on, it's becoming increasingly probable that they will at very least contend for the top-flight title in 2016. Such a victory would be a game-changer for the EPL, not because this has been a great or even particularly good season for English soccer, but because it would further challenge the idea of the Premier League's virtual "class system."
Since the English Premier League began with the 1992/93 football season, the division has crowned 23 champions. The 2015/16 campaign will mark the 24th Premier League winner. However, despite the fact that this league has now persisted for nearly a quarter of a century, the number of different soccer clubs to actually hoist the trophy remains a very small figure. Indeed, 23 seasons in, only five different teams have won the Premier
Posted: February 20, 2016Categories: Juventus
Will the Valentine's Day match-up between Juventus and Napoli go down as the most influential game of the 2015/16 Serie A season? That possibility certainly seems like a strong one following Juve's down-to-the-wire 1-0 victory. The victory puts the Zebras back at the top of the 2015/16 Serie A, and could prove to be the game that ultimately wins the football club a fifth straight title in the Italian top-flight. Or, it could just be the beginning of a highly competitive and ultra-exciting battle between two teams that are currently at the top of their game. Only time will tell.
Juve's Remarkable Comeback
Even if Juventus haven't clinched the Serie A title just yet-and they haven't,
Posted: February 19, 2016Categories: Borussia Dortmund
By Karl Matchett.
German Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund put themselves in a strong position in the UEFA Europa League last 32 with a 2-0 first leg win over FC Porto on Thursday, keeping Thomas Tuchel's side in with a shout of double cup success for the season.
While the latter stages of the Europa League are still some way off, BVB are already in the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal and are just six points off top spot in the Bundesliga itself, with a home game still to play against leaders Bayern Munich. While the domestic league title might prove to be beyond them if Bayern don't slip up elsewhere, there is still plenty of reason
Posted: February 19, 2016Categories: Malaga
ByÂ Ameen Rabbani.
Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid travel to Malaga this weekend in what should be the toughest domestic fixture to date for the Frenchman since he took over from Rafa Benitez. Not just because his men endured an energy-sapping Champions League encounter with Roma in midweek or because of the hostile reception that awaits them at La Rosaleda but also because the opponents are in a sensational run of form that has seen them surge up the table in remarkable fashion.
When Malaga last played Los Blancos they escaped from the Bernabeu with a 0-0 draw on matchday six despite playing the last 20 minutes with 10 men. Holding on for that long against Cristiano Ronaldo and co, who by the end registered more than 30 shots, was an indication of the spirit and discipline of Javi