Posts Tagged ‘Real Madrid’

Transfer records went tumbling on deadline day yesterday. I expected a lot of activity but the amount of money that was thrown around really surprised me. January transfer window is usually full of speculation but very little transfer activity takes place. Mid-Season transfer are considered to be risky and unless there is an emergency clubs usually stay away from buying. Even players like Nemanja Vidic have struggled to make an impact immediately after coming in during the January transfer window.

The most high profile transfer was that Fernando Torres to Chelsea.The Blues also signed David Luiz from Benfica. The Luiz transfer had been going on and off the entire window, but I think it was a necessity for the Londoners to sign a Center Back given their lack of cover in the area. Chelsea fans would now love to see the back of Paulo Ferreira.

Once auditioned for a role as Side Show Bob.

Considering Liverpool’s position at the moment, I expected Torres to leave Liverpool soon. But I never expected him to hand in a transfer request 3 days before the window shuts. Torres has not been great this season but then again their whole team is struggling badly. The arrival of Dalglish has made a difference but it seems it wasn’t enough for Torres. One can’t blame Torres for wanting to leave but the manner in which he has left would have certainly angered the Liverpool supporters. A £50million offer was too good to refuse as far as Liverpool were concerned (and we privately agree, £50million for a player who is crocked so often?).

LFC fans surely feel let down by a man they called a Club Legend

Let us get down to the most mind boggling transfer in the history of transfers – Andy Carroll. I think he has been excellent this season. But £35millon?? £35millon for a player who has only 41 appearances in the league has 14 goals! This is the 8TH most expensive transfer in football – more expensive than World Cup winning David Villa. Andy Carroll (and every other English player still active in the world) has no idea what a World Cup medal looks like. Andy Carroll – much like his most expensive English brethren also suffers from disciplinary issues off the pitch. We clearly see him following in the path of Rooney, Ferdinand and Gerrard in that sense.

If he's worth 35 million, how much is Ronaldo or Messi worth?

This clearly is a panic buy from Liverpool. The Merseysiders are seventh in the league. Regardless of who they sign (barring maybe Messi) they are not going to get into the Champions League. Why spend so heavily in the January window when you have to pay twice the price?  Also Dalglish doesn’t seem like the kind of manager who would approve this kind of transfer which makes you wonder how much say he has over transfers.

Final Verdict regarding these two transfers- I have a feeling Torres won’t make that big an impact at Chelsea like many think he will. I think Chelsea needed a creative midfielder more than a striker. It will be interesting to see where he plays, probably Anelka will be dropped. He will score goals but I doubt he will be able to justify the £50million Chelsea has paid for him. He will not be available for the Sunderland game which means he could make his debut against Liverpool! It will be a real heated game.

Darrent Bent went to Aston Villa for £24million.So Carroll who is younger should fetch more than that. Only if you apply that kind of logic will this transfer make sense. This is a lot of pressure on a young player. After all he is only 22.He could crumble under the weight of expectation. But if keeps his head Liverpool have a good player in hand. But like Torres, I think he will struggle to justify the £35millon transfer fee.

In one corner of Manchester, some people are really happy that some other club is paying ridiculous prices for players who aren’t quite up there. City have been surprisingly pretty quiet throughout this transfer window, splashing £27 million pounds in the direction of Edin Dzeko, which looking at all the other transfers in this window seems like a well thought out, measured and financially prudent move.

 

Transfer Round-up

Tottenham went on a rampage in the last 3 days bidding over 30 million for nearly  every single striker playing in La Liga and got rejected by all.Harry Redknapp is not too happy about it. Peter Crouch was video taped doing The Robot outside White Hart Lane.

Denilson last night shocked the football world and Arsenal supporters by demanding a move away from Arsenal.He later on changed his mind after the best bid he received was  £5.99 from Crawley town! Crawley then withdrew the bid thinking it was over priced.

Rangers have signed Kyles Bartley and El-Hadji Diouf on loan. Glad to see Diouf leave the premier league. Fulham have signed Eidur Gudjohnsen on loan and Aston Villa have secured Michael Bradley on loan till the end of the season. Paul Konchesky joined Nottingham Forrest on loan. Daniel Sturridge moved to Bolton on loan.

Seria A

Lot of transfer has taken place in Seria A.The best signing has to be that of Antonio Cassano by AC Milan. Milan have also signed Emanuelson from Ajax, Van bommel and Nicola Legrottaglie from Juventus.

Inter Milan made 2 excellent signings in the January window.They have signed Pazzini from Sampdoria and Andrea Ranocchia from Genoa.This will certainly help their squad.

La Liga

No major news in La Liga. Adebayor of course moved to Real Madrid on loan. Also don’t forget that Ibrahim Affelay’s transfer from PSV to Barcelona went through during this transfer window.

 

The draws are out and Arsene Wenger will probably be wishing he kept his mouth shut.

Roma v Shakhtar Donetsk

AC Milan v Tottenham

Valencia v Schalke

Inter Milan v Bayern Munich

Lyon v Real Madrid

Arsenal v Barcelona

Marseille v Manchester United

Copenhagen v Chelsea
We’ve watched most of these ties last season. Last seasons two finalists get it on and Munich have a shot at revenge which they’ll most likely get. Tottenham get to face the other team from Milan and they’ll find themselves at familiar ground when they go back to the San Siro.

Arsenal draw Barcelona. Nuff said.

 

 

North East London Derby

You have to credit Harry Redknapp for the victory at the Emirates. After watching his Spurs team go down 2-0 against Arsenal in the first half, he had the courage to change things around and go with a more attacking formation. The goals for Arsenal came from Samir Nasri who is fire for Arsenal and from Maroune Chamakh, a striker’s finish – the second goal.

The introduction of Jermaine Defoe at the start of the second switched Tottenham’s formation from (the generally used in tough games) 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2, a formation which Redknapp loves (given that he used it at the Inter Milan game at the San Siro). However, over there he was criticized for using the formation and maybe he realized himself that he made a mistake cause he switched it at half time.

Got it Right

I didn’t see Spurs coming back into the game. I didn’t think they had the will to do it. I thought they would in a sense “do a Spurs” and end up on the losing side, but they showed great heart and great urgency to come out on top. Rafael van der Vaart, Spurs’ signing of the season, played well for about 5 minutes during his entire time on the pitch, but what a difference he made in that time.

His first contribution was controlling the ball brilliantly and toe poking it to Gareth Bale who finished past Fabianski. His second was converting the penalty Fabregas gifted to Spurs. And his third was delivering the free kick which Kaboul headed past the Arsenal goalkeeper. Then he was taken off.

I do not understand what happened to the Arsenal players in the second half that they performed so abysmally. They were cruising in the first half having scored two and all they had to do was was keep possession of the ball, contain the Spurs offense and counter quickly, things they’re good at. Except perhaps containing the Spurs offense was a little bit too difficult and you have to credit the Lilywhites for that.

I read an interesting article on the Republik of Mancunia about the power shift in North East London, comparing it to the power shift in Manchester and perhaps the article has a point. Spurs have finished closer to Arsenal than City have when compared to Man United, yet nobody talks of a power shift in North London.

Spurs have another interesting fixture coming up, at home against Liverpool and it’ll be interesting to see if they can come up with the goods there as well – and I really think victory is possible for Spurs next week given they’re playing at White Hart Lane.

Rooturn

Excuse me for the really bad title for this one. It sounds like something right out of the Daily Mail. Nonetheless, the point is, Rooney returned and the fans didn’t boo him, nor did they ecstatically cheer him on as they would have if he hadn’t gone around whoring himself.

Oh yes, sorry. All this happened during a football game. Manchester United were playing Wigan at Old Trafford and Wigan were giving United some very nervous moments. N’Zogbia got the better of Rafael time and again and it was quite scary to see him charging down our right wing. After Nani started on the right, he was switched to the left, and Obertan played on the right.

Hernandez and Berbatov both had a poor game last time out at Villa Park and therefore Macheda got the nod. I do not understand why he has been played up front and alone. He really hasn’t thrived in that position. Macheda does well when he’s got a strike partner with him – which in this case was apparently Obertan, but nobody can really say for sure.

United did go ahead in the first half after Evra headed the ball into the goal post – a rare sight, that one. In the second half, Alcaraz chose to leave his common sense in the dressing room and unnecessarily tackled Darren Fletcher to pick up his second yellow card and he was off. Rodallega decided that Alcaraz shouldn’t feel lonely and decided to follow him after a two footed tackle on Rafael just a couple of minutes later. Wigan were down by one goal and down to nine men.

But they held on. Two seasons back if the same thing had happened you would have expected goals galore! But it didn’t happen. While United did boss possession (as you would have expected them to), and created chances, they really didn’t hammer Wigan for 5 (which they did twice last season when Wigan had 11 men!). Evra got a fantastic chance. Rooney did as well. Once the threat from the left had reduced, Rafael got up quite well and delivered some really good crosses in.

In the end, United won 2-0, not an outstanding display, but the result was fantastic considering the other results across the Premier League.

It really is Roman Abramograd FC

Carlo Ancelotti was looked on the bright side after losing their game to Birmingham. Then he was later quoted as saying that he doesn’t have as much control in Chelsea as Ferguson does at Man United. Contrast this to Ferguson’s statement “I am the most important man at this club and that’s the way it has to be”.

Not the most important man at Chelsea

At Chelsea, Abramovic is the most important man at the club and any manager working there should realize that they will never get full decision making powers. One third of the way into the season, your assistant manager may be sacked. Then you will have no say in the replacement either. After sometime you may get sacked, but then you just have to accept this as the hazards of being Chelsea manager.

Goal Fest in Spain

United couldn’t hit more than two past a 9 man Wigan, whereas Barcelona put 8 goals past Almeria. Madrid scored 5 against Athletic Bilbao. You have to compare the teams in Spain and England because I think eventually there may be a clash in the Champions League.

Look at the teams that are playing in the Champions League from England – Chelsea, Man United, Arsenal and Spurs.

Spurs – First timers in the Champions League and doing really well. Is their squad big enough though? They really don’t have enough center back cover when Michael Dawson is out. King is pretty much out all the time and Gallas can be very injury prone. Take out Van der Vaart from the equation and their creativity in midfield suffers. Pavlyuchenko, Keane and Crouch are all good strikers but none of them are World Class.

Man United – United have a decent number of strikers – Rooney, Berbatov, Hernandez, Macheda, Owen – all good players. Its the width that matters at United. With Valencia out till February, no real wingers are available for Sir Alex. Giggs is an option, but he’s getting old and can’t play every game. Obertan has shown good skills at times, but isn’t really good enough for the Champions League in the knock out rounds. Nor is Bebe for sure (at the moment anyway). Park isn’t a winger, only he knows what he is.

Arsenal – They have a decent squad – Fabregas, Wilshere, Ramsey, Diaby, Denilson and Song in the center. Nasri, Arshavin, Rosicky, Walcott wide. Chamakh, Van Persie, Vela, JET up front, but then they are Arsenal and they might just screw it up nonetheless. I still feel that Arsenal has the best squad from England to compete in the Champions League, it’ll be interesting to see how they do compared to the other English teams.

Chelsea – Not a big enough squad. Full stop.

And now Spain –

Real Madrid – Attacking options – Ronaldo, Ozil, Higuain, Di Maria, Canales, Granero, Benzema. Midfield – Diarra, Diarra, Khedira, Xabi Alonso, Gago. Defense – Carvalho, Pepe, Albiol, Marcelo, Ramos, Garay.

FC Barcelona – Attacking options – David Villa, Messi, Iniesta, Pedro, Krkic. Midfield – Xavi, Keita, Mascherano, Busquets. Defense – Puyol, Pique, Alves, Milito, Maxwell, Abidal.

I’m just highlighting the difference in quality in depth of the squads of the English teams and two Spanish teams playing in the Champions League. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare in the knock out rounds (assuming they all qualify, that is). Will a Man United team filled with Bebe, Obertan and Park be capable of knocking out a Real Madrid team with Ronaldo, Higuain, Ozil, Alonso? Even as a United fan I have to say that it is highly unlikely. Can Chelsea’s Josh McEachren and Gael Kakuta plot Barcelona’s downfall? I doubt.

Of course, the players I mentioned aren’t the first choice for their teams when it comes to European fixtures, but the fact of the matter is that in certain areas, both Madrid and Barcelona have better second choice players than English teams have first choice players.

Ps — All is not well in Inter Milan. They lost to Chievo 2-1 this weekend.


Let me tell you first off, that as a United fan, I’m relieved! Finally an away win. But we shall get to that in a bit. I’ll just shed light on Saturday’s fixtures first before going into Sunday’s.

Chelsea won against Wolves to keep their position up at the top of the table. Goals came from Malouda and Saloman Kalou who has targeted 20 goals in the season for himself. So that put pressure on the other big teams.

He wants 20 goals

Spurs and Everton played out a 1-1 draw. Spurs looked like they were suffering from the much used cliche – “European hangover”. It will take them time, definitely to get used to playing the Champions League in mid week and the Premiership in the weekend, especially considering they played the European Champions midweek. Van der Vaart scored another goal, although to be fair, it was already on its way to the back of the net. I don’t care, because he’s there in my Fantasy football team!

You know, I wasn’t really sure about Arsene Wenger’s comments about Stoke playing rugby instead of football cause I hadn’t seen the game to which he was referring. However, after last night’s game against United, I think I have to agree. Ferguson was forced to play 4 defenders who at various points of their career have played a Centre Back – John O’Shea, Vidic, Ferdinand and Neville. What puzzles me is why Neville started when Wes Brown was available (he did come on later for Gaz). According to Ferguson, he’s the best center back in England when fit. He must have had his reasons of course.

Hahahaha

Hernandez scored a brilliant header with the back of his head. I have no idea how he managed to arch his back that much to score, but he clearly did, cause he got enough power on the header to take it past Sorenson. Tuncay scored a brilliant goal after Scholes gifted possession to Stoke. Hernandez got his second later on to take United to their first away win of the season.

Brilliance!

Man City got a man sent off almost before the match began. Boyata got sent off for tripping Chamakh after he was played in by Fabregas. I don’t think anybody can say anything about the card – which was definitely deserved.

Arsenal took the lead through Nasri, after a brilliant build up to the first goal. The 1-2 that he received was brilliant and Yaya Toure wasn’t close enough on Arshavin who returned the ball to Nasri. Gareth Barry (England’s defensive hope!) did an equally poor job of marking Nasri as he ran in to receive the pass. The Frenchman kept his cool and put the ball past Jo Hart. Arsenal’s second chance in the game came from the penalty spot but wasn’t converted. Fabregas was tripped by Kompany in the box for reasons best known to the Belgian. Fabregas tried to put the ball in the right corner, but Jo Hart made a superb save after guessing the right way. The penalty was at a good height, but still it was a phenomenal save.

Arsenal seemed to have been playing a different system which works in a parallel dimension. Song kept pushing forward leaving Fabregas in midfield. I have no idea why, but maybe I’m not meant to know because Song got on the score sheet later on. Arshavin chipped a ball from the left to the right to Nasri who gave it to Fabregas who then tried to play in Chamakh with a beautiful weighted pass but the pass was intercepted by Wayne Bridge (second half substitute for Yaya Toure). The interception teed up the ball for Song who obliged with a brilliant finish.

Nasir celebrates after Arsenal's first goal

Nicklas Bendtner, the poster boy of Denmark came on later on in the night and scored his first goal for the season. I’m sure Arsenal fans are delighted to have Barbie back, especially considering his finishing. Although I’m sure they would be more happy to see their Vice Captain – Van Persie returning. Walcott too made an appearance and his contribution was to run around really fast.

My least favourite player was taken off just after half time and Emmanuel Adebayor came on instead. No doubt Man City missed their captain who would’ve just run throughout the game.

Goal deluges across Europe

Real Madrid hammered Racing Santander for 6 in their weekend fixture at the Bernabeu with Cristiano Ronaldo (self proclaimed best player in the Universe) netting four. After a performance like that though, I think he has every right to call himself the best player in the Universe.

I have been a little critical of Angel Di Maria, but I think he played quite well against Racing and I can see him improve under Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese manager looked very relaxed as his side took control in the first half itself with Higuain netting the first, and Ronaldo scoring two. In the second half, within minutes of restart, Ronaldo got his hat trick thanks to a brilliant run by Di Maria. He netted his fourth from the penalty spot a little while later.

Mesut Ozil too got on the score sheet after a brilliant pass from Xabi Alonso split the entire Racing team in half. Ozil for his part, kept cool and provided a brilliant finish to make it 6-0. Sergio Canales came on for Ozil later on and looked very lively. The youngster is definitely a good talent and its only a matter of time before he becomes a brilliant player. Diop got a consolation goal for the visitors but refused to celebrate (for obvious reasons)

In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven absolutely HAMMERED Feyenoord 10-0. Yes you read that correctly. 10-0. Feyenoord are supposed to be one of the better teams in the Dutch League. PSV has been receiving Champions League payments for nearly the past 10 years except last year when they were pipped to the title by Steve McLaren’s FC Twente. Does this mean that PSV are a really powerful team in Europe? Hardly. However in the Netherlands, you better look out for them.

 

Drawchester United

Man United have done it again. They have drawn another match. This time against West Bromwich Albion at home! Thus far they have won all their home games and drawn all away games. But now they’ve started drawing the home games as well. Excellent! Just what the doctor ordered.

Costly Van der Sar error saw West Brom take a point at Old Trafford

The worrying thing for a United fan is the fact that they still haven’t played the tougher teams in the Premier League. Granted, given Sunderland’s current form, they are one of the better teams in the league, but they still haven’t played Man City, Spurs or Villa which are bound to be tougher than the likes of WBA. They have played Liverpool and home and won, and played Everton away and drawn. I don’t think this is good enough. In the 2008-09 season United didn’t have a great record against the other big four teams, but hammered smaller opponents, thereby amassing 90 points in the season and taking the title.

United are still unbeaten in the league, but that’s little consolation and so long as Man City are above them in the league (as is the case now) United fans will worried.

Fighting Blackpool

Every once in a while you see a team come up from the Championship and play exciting football. Blackpool are doing just that. They played Man City at Bloomfield over the weekend and boy were they unlucky to lose. Tevez had a goal given to him which should have been ruled as offside and Taylor Fletcher had a goal disallowed after incorrectly being ruled offside. The final score was 3-2 and David Silva scored a beautiful third goal amongst all this chaos.

Blackpool really looked threatening and for a while it seemed that all the money City pumped in had gone to waste. City were really lucky to win the game. I feel sorry for Blackpool because for teams like them, every point counts and could save them from taking the drop.

Teams like Stoke came up from the Championship and they decided NOT TO LOSE, whereas Blackpool decided to WIN. The strategies are different, but if the end result is the same (staying on in the Premier League) then the manager and the team, both, have achieved something worth remembering. You could argue that its boring watching teams like Stoke play. The Stoke board will tell you that they’d rather have boring football on display than earn lesser revenue by going back down to the Championship.

Chelsea held at Villa

Didier Drogba didn’t play the game and therefore my Fantasy Football gameweek went for a toss. The result was a pretty fair one in my opinion and I don’t think Chelsea will be too disappointed about getting only a point at Villa. Ancelotti certainly isn’t disappointed.

Jack Wilshere’s dark side

Poor Arsene Wenger. He goes on and on about bad tackles and then suddenly one of his own players lunges in with a really dangerous tackle on Zigic. Arsene Wenger has been very vocal in his criticism of dangerous tackles by other players on his own team and this time when the tables were turned, didn’t come off so strong.

Welcome to the Dark Side. We have cookies.

“We know Jack Wilshere is not a dirty player, but it does show you players can mistime in this hurly burly game in football. Everybody has to recognise that.” – Arsene Wenger

But when Paul Scholes does it, it means he has a dark side. Hypocrisy much, Mr Wenger?

It was a bad tackle and its a good thing Zigic wasn’t injured, Alex McLeish would have cried after spending 6 million on his transfer from Valencia.

Merseyside is blue

Everton absolutely pushed Liverpool out of the game. It was a really dominating performance from Everton and they deservedly ended up winning 2-0. Goals from Cahill and Arteta settled the encounter, Arteta’s strike being fantastic (not that Cahill’s goal wasn’t good in itself). Arteta (once upon a time, England’s midfield hope) and Cahill pulled all the strings in midfield making Liverpool’s summer signing of Meireles seem completely pointless.

Liverpool played two Defensive Midfielders – Meireles and Lucas and were still not able to get the ball enough. Steven Gerrard had to occasionally track back and anchor midfield. Yakubu looked three times a better striker than Fernando Torres, and its not everyday that something like that happens.

Let’s be honest, Everton ran out winners and deserved it.

Barcelona versus Valencia

Barcelona versus Valencia was the clash of the weekend in La Liga and was a really really good match. Barcelona were dominating the game in the second half with the score at 1-1. Barca won the game in the end with a commanding header from Puyol. Final score there was 2-1 to Barca. Iniesta and Puyol on the scoresheet for Barca and Pablo Hernandez for Valencia.

Real Madrid absolutely hammered Malaga with Ronaldo scoring a brace and two from Higuain as well. Higuain’s goals were set up by Ronaldo as well so its fair to say that he was probably the player of the match.

Ronaldo and Higuain celebrate after the first goal against Malaga

 

With that win, Real go on top of La Liga thanks to Valencia’s loss and Villareal drawing 2-2 away at Hercules (who seem to be giving a headache to the big teams). Sevilla also lost to Sporting Gijon which was quite unexpected.

Waaazaaa Wazza?

Wayne Rooney has reportedly refused to sign a new contract with Manchester United. All the newspapers have tipped him to make a move away from Old Trafford and claim that he has had a bust up with Sir Alex.

I’ll give you my two cents on the entire thing. It is too bad if Wayne Rooney wants to leave Manchester United. He’s a good player going through a bad patch, but he needs to be a little bit more mature when dealing with people and the media (especially).

Sir Alex has his best interests at heart and has tried to focus attention away from Rooney and he keeps bringing the spotlight back on to himself. He countered Sir Alex’s story that his ankle had a problem which was why he was going through a bad patch and said instead that his ankle was absolutely fine.

There’s no doubt that Sir Alex would’ve been furious with Wayne Rooney for this and perhaps it was one of the reasons Rooney started on the bench against West Brom.

I read elsewhere that Rooney is holding out for 200,000 Euro a week on his new contract which seems quite ridiculous considering he’s getting 120,000 Euro a week now. Apparently United offered him170,000 which seems quite fair to me.

Rooney needs to grow up.

Tonight’s Champions League clashes

For those of you who are in India and wondering which games will be telecast by TEN tonight –

Shakhtar Donetsk versus Arsenal on TEN Sports at 00.00 hours

Real Madrid versus AC Milan on TEN Action at 00.00 hours

Spartak Moskva versus Chelsea on TEN Action at 21.30 hours

We pulled out our prediction hats and we’re going to tell you who we think will qualify from the group stages of the Champions League. Its a little difficult to say who will go beyond that because the draws for the knock out stages aren’t done like in the World Cup.

So here we go..

Group A: Inter Milan, Werder Bremen, Tottenham, FC Twente

Nishanth – Inter Milan and Werder Bremen

Keshav – Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspurs

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Group B: Lyon, Benfica, Schalke, Hapoel Tel-Aviv

Nishanth – Benfica and Schalke

Keshav – Lyon and Benfica

__________

Group C: Manchester United, Valencia, Rangers, Bursaspor

Nishanth – Rangers and Bursaspor [Haha, no.. Manchester United and Valencia]

Keshav – Manchester United and Rangers

__________

Group D: Barcelona, Panathinaikos, Copenhagen, Rubin Kazan

Nishanth – Barcelona and Rubin Kazan

Keshav – Barcelona and Rubin Kazan

__________

Group E: Bayern Munich, Roma, Basel, CFR Cluj

Nishanth – Bayern Munich and Roma

Keshav – Bayern Munich and Roma

__________

Group F: Chelsea, Marseille, Spartak Moscow, Zilina

Nishanth – Chelsea and Marseille

Keshav – Chelsea and Marseille

__________

Group G: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Ajax, Auxerre

Nishanth – AC Milan and Real Madrid

Keshav – AC Milan and Real Madrid

__________

Group H: Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk, Braga, Partizan Belgrade

Nishanth – Arsenal and Braga

Keshav – Arsenal and Shakhtar Donetsk

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This is not in any order. We’re not predicting who’ll finish top of their group or anything. These are the teams we think who will make it out of their groups. And also the final is to be played at Wembley in May.

The Champions League draws were announced last night. Some of you might have had no idea, but the rest of us were eagerly anticipating the aforementioned draw.

Champions League 2010/11 groups

Group A: Inter Milan, Werder Bremen, Tottenham, FC Twente
Group B: Lyon, Benfica, Schalke, Hapoel Tel-Aviv
Group C: Manchester United, Valencia, Rangers, Bursaspor
Group D: Barcelona, Panathinaikos, Copenhagen, Rubin Kazan
Group E: Bayern Munich, Roma, Basel, CFR Cluj
Group F: Chelsea, Marseille, Spartak Moscow, Zilina
Group G: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Ajax, Auxerre
Group H: Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk, Braga, Partizan Belgrade

Spurs would’ve hoped for a slightly easier group in their European outing but Peter Crouch says he relishes the pressure, lets see how that one turns out.

Group B is also not very easy to decide, but based on Lyon’s performance last season in the same competition, you would fancy them to get out of their group.

United has a relatively good group. The Rangers clash will be noisy for sure. Police trouble perhaps in Manchester? Valencia is the other big team in that group, but without David Villa or Silva, will they go far?

Group D has Barcelona written on it all the way.

Group E is relatively straightforward, you would expect Munich and Roma to get out of their groups, but I’m never sure when it comes to Roma.

Chelsea will be travelling quite a bit in Group F, but its an easy one for sure.

Group G is the win. AC Milan and Real Madrid clash. Be there or else jump in a well.

Eduardo will make a return to the Emirates courtesy their Group H draw with Arsenal. It will be quite amazing if he scores at the Emirates, I’m not so sure the Arsenal fans would mind that either, provided they’re 12-0 up and there’s only 1 minute remaining. Actually, even then, I’m sure Fabianski/Almunia is capable of coming up with something amazing and letting Shakhtar win.

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Arsene Wenger has come out and accused Stoke of playing Rugby rather than football. Most of us still remember Shawcross’ horrible tackle on Aaron Ramsey. Now, let me just make it clear that I’m not saying Stoke plays fair. But they aren’t the only team like that.

Arsenal has a clash against Blackburn coming up. Sam Allardyce’s teams are often the most physical. I’d love to see Fabianski/Almunia deal with Samba during a corner.

The thing is, Arsene, you KNOW that these teams aren’t going to be easy physically. Why don’t you breed a team that can compete physically as well? I don’t think the team that consisted of Vieira, Keown and Adams et al would have come second best in a physical battle.

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