Posts Tagged ‘UEFA Champions League’

UEFA Champions League PLAYOFFS Draw (2008-09): It’s Serie A vs. Premier League…

Friday, December 19th, 2008

UEFA Champions League

The draw for the 1st knockout round (Round of 16) of the UEFA Champions League took place at the House of European Football in Nyon, Switzerland, today at 12:00 CET (I liveblogged the event on Soccerlens). And boy oh boy, are there some good games comin’ up.

As far as Italian teams go, Inter, Juventus, and Roma didn’t exactly pick the easiest games of the lot. Quite the opposite in fact. And to make matters worse, lady luck bad luck gave them the scourge of Italian teams in the last decade, namely… Premier League clubs!

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Inter Milan 0-1 Panathinaikos: We Lost, We Qualified, We Got Booed… Inter’s Veni Vidi Vici (UEFA Champions League 2008-09)

Friday, November 28th, 2008

One certainly can’t say Jose Mourinho had not warned his players earlier this week. On paper, a home match to Panathinaikos seemed like an easy routine job for Inter, just the Portuguese manager’s concerns had a strong smell of pre-tactical (José-patented) “mindgames”.

Instead, those concerns were well-founded. This was indeed a tough match to handle for the Nerazzurri but what no one expected above all, was how inherently unmotivated and predictable the Milanese team played tonight. On the positive front for Mourinho, tonight’s tied game between Anorthosis and Werder Bremen effectively qualified Inter for the playoff round, but the Nerazzurri will have to wait matchday 6 to determine first-rank seeding business. And the ride to Germany promises to be a bumpy one.

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CFR Cluj 1-3 Roma: Giallorossi Back in the Driver Seat (UEFA Champions League 2008-09)

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Roma seem to have taken a fondness for 3-1 wins lately. After Bordeaux and Chelsea, CFR Cluj was the third team Wednesday to fall to the hands of Spalletti’s boys in Europe, enabling the Giallorossi to take sole command of Group A with one match to go.

And indeed that last match against Bordeaux will be determining to seal Roma’s fate: a draw would ensure their mathematical qualification to the next round, but with the first spot of the group on the line, even better would be for them to win.

But speaking of Roma wins, now that is something no man with a sane mind would have bet on just a few weeks ago. Roma were losing match after match in the Serie A, and their 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge seemed like the final nail in the Champions League coffin, a campaign which had already started with the shocking 2-1 loss to Cluj on matchday 1 and could only seem to get worse. Or so we thought.

Instead Roma recovered, recuperated their captain Francesco Totti, and they are back. Alive & kickin’! And kicking is what they did today.

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Fiorentina 1-2 Lyon: End of the UCL Line for La Viola… (UEFA Champions League 2008-09)

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Less fancy playing, better defending, more cynical finishing. This will be Fiorentina‘s lesson tonight after their elimination from the 2008-09 UEFA Champions League. And it sounds like an awfully familiar one. The kind that spectacular but inexperienced teams are forced to learn, as indeed La Viola’s return to Europe’s top competition demonstrated. 8 years after their last appearance, Fiorentina’s adventure ends in the Group Stage.

As for Lyon, they proved that winning seven Ligue 1 titles in a row can be a useful experience. You know, for European cups and stuff.

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Zenit 0-0 Juventus: One Point Closer to First Spot… (UEFA Champions League 2008-09)

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Claudio Ranieri had warned Zenit he wasn’t planning to fold today and that Champions League matches are never considered “friendly”, with or without the mathematical certainty of qualification. And that is why Juve’s manager sent his boys to play offensive football in Russia, keeping squad rotation to a minimum and concentration at its fullest.

If Wednesday’s match was to prove Juventus had “digested” (Ranieri’s words) their 1-0 loss to Inter this week-end, I’d say “mission accomplished”. Only partly however, because the Bianconeri were also determined to put the first place of Group H on ice, something which after their 0-0 draw today (and Real Madrid’s concurrent win vs. Bate Borisov) will unfortunately have to wait until matchday 6.

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