Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Friday. That means almost weekend. Which means yet more football. When does it ever stop? We don’t want it to though, especially with some cracking FA Cup games in store as well as Europe’s top sides slugging it out in their respective leagues.
This blog argues Balotelli is damaging his Man City career. What do you think? Balotelli is undoubtedly talented, just not consistent enough. Perhaps time will tell.
As for Liverpool, the Europa League is their only realistic chance of silverware this season. Was it disappointing to see so little urgency at the start of the game? Or do you feel the league match against Manchester United took a great deal out of Kenny Dalglish’s men?
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.
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.
After Chelsea’s vintage performance in a 3-1 win at Blackpool, Tuesday’s edition will start with a look at Fernando Torres.
Poor old Torres. He’s undoubtedly a classy player, but one who seems to be feeling the burden of expectation that has fallen on him after his British transfer record fee of £50 million in January.
Confident talk from Arsenal playmaker Samir Nasri in a piece by Mike Collett today, looking ahead to the second leg of the Gunners Champions League clash with Barcelona in the Nou Camp:
“We approached the game differently this year. Last year we were a little scared of Barcelona because they are fantastic and play amazing football and we were surprised how good they were.
Arsenal hitman Robin van Persie injured himself while scoring against Birmingham City in the League Cup final on Sunday and will now miss his team’s last 16 second leg clash against Barcelona on March 8. Not good news for the Gunners.
However, beat Leyton Orient in the FA Cup on Wednesday to set up a quarter-final with Manchester United, and keep the pressure up on their great rivals in the Premier League who have just lost to Chelsea, and there are still honours to be won.
I had been told the Stade Velodrome had a great atmosphere and after the constant noise the Marseille fans made in Wednesday’s 0-0 Champions league draw with Manchester United, I have one question – what would it be like if the stands had roofs?
Despite the dire match, the supporters at either side of the ground never stopped chanting and banging drums for a second. If the Velodrome wasn’t open to the elements I can only imagine that the noise would be even louder and give the home side an even bigger advantage.
Like many of Europe’s biggest clubs, Barcelona find themselves at a crucial point of the season, with their hopes in two of the three competitions they are contesting in the balance.
Worryingly for fans, Pep Guardiola’s side have been hit by a rash of niggling injuries to key players at a highly inconvenient moment.
It was my first trip to Lyon to see Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Real Madrid and though I knew what to expect on the field given the Spanish side’s troubles here in the past, I had no idea what the city or its famed cuisine would be like.
In the end, the food in one of France’s gastronomic centres probably outshone the fare on the pitch although it was a decent game with both sides fighting for every ball in the cold and the rain.
Olympique Lyon’s Stade de Gerland has proved to be something of a graveyard for Real Madrid’s European ambitions over the last decade.
The nine-time European Cup winners travel there for a Champions League last-16, first leg on Tuesday with an abysmal record to look back on from previous visits – three defeats, no goals scored and six conceded.