Soccer Break Wednesday

March 9, 2011

SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/A fine Wednesday to you all, and a few statistics to begin with. Attendance at the Nou Camp: 95,486. Estimated crowd noise (in decibels): 121.8. Estimated noise of a referee’s whistle (in decibels): 121.8.

The operative word above is estimated, because of course we have no idea, but a quick dig around on the internet shows some debate about whether Robin van Persie could have heard Massimo Busacca’s whistle despite the defeaning noise at the Nou Camp.

Sending-off or no sending-off, here’s another statistic for you from the Champions League thriller. Completed passes: Barcelona – 738 ; Arsenal – 199. The Londoners did mighty well to hang in there and can be proud of their efforts, but the Catalan team’s superiority told in the end. Few teams could touch them in that mood.

Do you think 11 against 11 would have seen Arsenal through? Or was the red card just a mere sideshow?

In Tuesday’s other action, Shakhtar Donetsk eased past AS Roma 3-0 to book their quarter-final place to become the first Ukrainian side to reach the last eight since Dynamo Kiev in 1999.

So now all eyes will be on another north London team hoping to reach the quarters. Tottenham Hotspur take a one-goal advantage into their clash with AC Milan at White Hart Lane.

Schalke 04, whose manager Felix Magath could leave at the end of the season according to German media, host La Liga side Valencia after former Real Madrid striker Raul salvaged a 1-1 draw for the Bundesliga club in the first leg in Spain.

Can Spurs do it? They have the look of a very good cup side rather than a consistent team. Their topsy-turvy Premier League form is testament to that compared to their sparkling European performances this season.

In other Wednesday action, Everton host Birmingham City in the Premier League, with survival on the League Cup winners’ minds. They will play in the Europa League next season regardless of their fate this term.

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