Soccer Break Thursday

March 10, 2011

SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Breathe in. Breathe out. The Champions League is over for this week after a tense two days of last 16 drama. And now for Europa League action on Thursday with yet more top sides in action.

First of all however let’s dissect the Champions League from Wednesday where underdogs Tottenham Hotspur and Schalke 04 progressed past their more fancied rivals, AC Milan and Valencia respectively.

The fact Spurs, who lie fifth in the Premier League compared to Serie A leaders Milan, and Schalke sit 10th in the Bundesliga as opposed to their La Liga third-placed victims, can overcome such stiff tests is yet more testament to how unpredictable and ultimately fascinating a competition the Champions League is.

This blog argues AC Milan are becoming the new Real Madrid by their constant failure in the world’s biggest club competition. Agree?

Anyway, bring on next week. What excites you more, the Champions League business end or your national league?

Arsenal’s defeat to Barcelona on Tuesday continued to fill the pages on Wednesday, small wonder after manager Arsene Wenger and midfielder Samir Nasri were charged for improper conduct after the match.

The Europa League perhaps gets a little forgotten after the thrills and spills of its big brother, but not here. Some of Europe’s most decorated sides, Liverpool, Ajax Amsterdam and Porto will be in action later on Thursday. Only first legs mind, but any predictions out there?

Liverpool’s January signing Luis Suarez made a name for himself last season with his goalscoring antics in the Netherlands, he then kept scoring at the World Cup with Uruguay before his infamous hand ball against Ghana, but 2011 looks like being his year following a fine performance against Manchester United last Sunday. Read more here.

Big-spending Manchester City will also be in action, and failure to lift any silverware this year will surely heap the pressure on manager Roberto Mancini. Can City realistically win anything in 2011?

In the Premier League on Wednesday, Birmingham battled for a well-earned point away at Everton but the League Cup winners still need some wins, and fast, to push them up the table. Read here for a Birmingham fan’s opinion, and vote on the poll about whether a quarter-final FA Cup over Bolton on the weekend would be of more benefit to the Blues.

This blog just can’t wait for the weekend, and neither can we.

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