Tag Archives: Lyon

Champions League preview (6/3/12)

Arséne Wenger has absolutely nothing to lose. After the 4-0 hammering his Arsenal side received at the San Siro at the hands of AC Milan on February 15th last, the French boss may aswell go for it. What has he got to lose? Can the Gunners do what seems like the impossible? He must, of course, be wary of the Italian giants. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is in fine form, having scored a hat-trick at the weekend and not to mention the difficult time Robinho can give the North London side. To quote Del Boy Trotter: he who dares, Arséne, he who dares.

Also on Tuesday sees Zenit St Petersburg travel to Portugal to take on Benfica. The excellent five-goal-thriller in Russia last month gives Zenit the edge, but Benfica’s domestic form and their two away goals may count for something for Jorge Jesus’ side if they go all guns blazing at Luciano Spaelletti’s men. Watching from the sidelines will be the cup-tied Andrei Arshavin, who recently returned to Zenit from Arsenal.

Tomorrow, Barcelona host Bayer Leverkusen at the Camp Nou. The German outfit’s hopes of reaching the next stage of the competition appear slim at best, given that they go into this leg trailing 3-1 from the previous encounter at the BayArena on Valentine’s Day last. But Bayer’s form is quite good –  consecutive wins against Augsburg, Koln and then upsetting the mighty Bayern Munich could give Robin Dutt’s men the confidence for a massive upset in Catalonia. Pep Guardiola, of all people, will be well aware of this.

Also on Wednesday, APOEL host Lyon. The French side have only a slender 1-0 lead against the Cypriots and Ivan Jovanovic’s men will be seeking to make a historic win at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia (a place most of us Irish fans would prefer to forget after THAT game).

All in all there is some interesting ties with some more even more interesting ones next week. What’s your predictons? Let me know or hit me up on Twitter.



Champions League last 16 round-up

Lyon coach Rémi Garde had been disappointed by Saturday’s defeat by Caen and looked to freshen his side up by making four changes in their Champions League game on Tuesday against APOEL FC. One of these was the hot prospect Alexandre Lacazette and it was his 58th minute goal that secured the French side’s a vital home victory.

Also on Tuesday was Bayer Leverkusen who played hosts to current holders Barcelona. And despite it being Valentine’s Day, Barça showed the Germans no love or no mercy. Alexis Sánchez scored twice as the Catalans took a giant step towards a place in the quarter-finals. Michal Kadlec did score for Leverkusen but it was, of course, Leo Messi whose goal two minutes from time made him the competition’s outright leading scorer so far. See the video below for highlights:

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Arsenal have a mountain to climb at the Emirates. The reason? AC Milan put four past them at the San Siro. Ouch! Two goals from Robinho, a Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty and a spectacular Kevin-Prince Boateng volley gave the Rossoneri a comfortable 4-0 lead going into the second leg. Arsene Wenger will need to go on an all out attack – or pray that an extremely sub-par Milan side turn up at the Emirates on March 6th. I can’t see Arsenal recovering from this, though football has it’s surprises.

Finally, a tense-scoring match at the Petrovsky Stadium, witnessed home side Zenit St Petersburg narrowly clinch victory against Benfica. Uruguayan Maxi Pereira opened the scoring on 20 minutes for the Portugese side, only for Roman Shirokov‘s equaliser seven minutes later for Zenit brought things level. Sergi Semak goal gave Zenit the lead on 71 minutes before Benfica’s equaliser came with three minutes from time from Oscar Cardozo. But, it was to be Zenit’s night as sixty seconds later, Shirokov gave the Russian outfit their much deserved with and the game finished 3-2. Phew!

Next week sees Chelsea take on CSKA Moscow away, Chelsea travel to Napoli, Basel host Bayern Munich and Inter Milan face Marseille at the Stade Vélodrome in the French port city. ‘Til then.

Champions League matchday 6 round-up & last 16 preview

The Champions League last 16 will not feature either Manchester club. Not City nor United. This certainly wasn’t in the script. But it’s happened and Sir Alex now faces the penalty of playing in the Europa League along with Roberto Mancini.

The Mancunian sides aren’t they only ones to face an early exit form Europe’s biggest tournament. Trabzonspor’s stalemate at Lille witnessed both sides failing to qualify from Group B.  Real Madrid’s sixth win out of six sends Ajax out along with Dinamo Zagreb, who were destroyed by by Lyon at home 1-7 – Zagreb were 1-0 up at one point. The powers that be at Zagreb sacked coach Krunoslav Jurcic immediately after the match following the defeat. Who said football isn’t that ruthless?

The Europa League is Rooney's "penalty"

Elsewhere FC Porto narrowly missed out on the last 16 at the hands of Zenit St Petersburg following a 0-0 draw at the Estadio do Dragao. Finally, Marseille’s late victory at Borussia Dortmund book their place ahead of Olympiacos – who themselves did manage to beat Arsenal 3-1 on Tuesday.

So, in the last 16 are:

  • Bayern Munich
  • Napoli
  • Inter Milan
  • Benfica
  • FC Basel
  • Real Madrid
  • Lyon
  • Chelsea
  • Bayer Leverkusen
  • Arsenal
  • Marseille
  • Zenit St Petersburg
  • FC Barcelona
  • AC Milan

The draw takes place on Friday 16 December at mid-day. There could be some potentially good ties drawn. The Milan derby would appeal to many a fan (except those who support Inter or AC Milan possibly). Check back on Friday week and I’ll run through them with my predictions.

What games would you love to see drawn? Let me know on Twitter.



Champions League matchday 4 preview (part 2)

Bayern Munich have scored 33 goals without conceding in their last nine home games but the German side will need to be wary when Napoli come to the Allianz Arena tonight.

Jupp Heynckes’ men are top of Group A on seven points with their Italians opponents in second spot on five. Victory for the Germans will give Man City, currently on four points and in third position, an opportunity to sneak into second place. Roberto Mancini’s men face Villareal at the Madrigal. The Spanish side have yet to win a game in the competition.

City’s bitter rivals Man United host Otelul Galati tonight at Old Trafford. Like Valencia, the Romanians have also to claim as much as a point in Group C. Fergie’s men will be searching for nothing less than all three points while group leaders Porto face FC Basel which will be no easy fixture for the Portugese side.

Joe Cole will be out to make an impression at the San Siro tonight

Joe Cole’s Lille side travel to Milan to face Italian giants Inter. The French side are still only on two points in Group B following two draws. Victory in the San Siro will push them potentially into 2nd place – depending on the outcome of Trabzonspor and CSKA Moscow who both lie on four points apiece.

Finally The Special One’s Real Madrid side travel to France to take on Lyon. Madrid have already scored eight goals in their previous three games earning maximum points with Ajax, on four points lie in 2nd. They face Zagreb at the Amsterdam Arena tonight.

This is the matchday of the group stage in which the outcome shows how the tables may take shape by the final fixture. Like other managers, Fergie will be keeping an eye on the other of his group’s fixture with some anticipation.

Champions League and Europa Cup round-up

Heartbreak for the hoops. Shamrock Rovers put on a fine display at the Toumbas Stadium against Greek side PAOK in Group A of the Europa Cup. Many feel the Irish champions deserved a point from the tie. Sadly it was not to be. Costin Lazar’s spectacular 25-yard strike put the Greeks ahead early on before Karl Sheppard headed the equaliser just after half time. Then, on 63 minutes, Blackburn target Vieirinha scored what turned out to be PAOK’s winner. Rovers were second best on the night. But Rovers weren’t humiliated by any stretch of the imagination. PAOK are certainly beatable back in Dublin 24.

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Also in Group A, Tottenham beat Rubin Kazan by 1-0 courtesy of a Roman Pavlyuchenko goal. Spurs lead the group with PAOK and Kazan following. Rovers are still last – but the Tallaght club won’t be giving up just yet. Elsewhere, in Group H, Birmingham City travelled to the Jan Breydek Stadium to take on Club Brugge. The blues’ 19-year old striker Chris Wood’s goal – after 10 minutes of stoppage time – earned City’s win to put them joined-top with the Belgians. Stoke City are still unbeaten in Group E and their 3-0 win against Maccabi Tel Aviv sits them comfortably in first place of the group. Things aren’t looking up for Neil Lennon though. Celtic have yet to win a game in Group I. A 1-1 draw against Rennes puts the Glasweigans disappointingly in last position.

In the Champions League, Manchester City and rivals Manchester United (who both face each other this Sunday) recorded their first Champions League wins. City‘s win against Villareal was a major confidence boost as Sergio Aguero’s 93rd minute winner sent the blue half of Manchester into ecstacy as it was also the club’s first ever win in the Champions League. Two Wayne Rooney penalties earned the Red Devils their first three points against Oțelul Galați in Bucharest.

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In Group E, Chelsea earned their three points with their five goals against Belgian side Genk at Stamford Bridge. £50 million signing Fernando Torres got his name on the score-sheet twice. Not that Chelsea were particularly good as much as Genk were, on the night, pretty bad. Arsenal travelled to France to take on Marseille – and were blessed to go back to London with anything. But they did. Aaron Ramsey’s 92nd minute winner was the result of Arsenal’s persistence. Arsene Wenger can be pleased. He got, in the end, the points he needed to put the Gunners top of Group F.

Elsehwere, Real Madrid‘s 4-0 thrashing against Lyon at the Bernebeu puts the Spanish side top of their group – five whole points ahead of 2nd place Ajax who won their fixture 2-0 away to Dinamo Zagreb. Madrid’s bitter rivals Barcelona played 90 minutes of sheer wonderful football at the Camp Nou against Czech side Viktoria Plzeň. The Barça faithful in the 98,500 arena applauded and cheers the pure possesion, skill and showboating from Iniesta, Xavi and, of course, you-know-who. But it was their two goals that got the biggest cheer on the night. I’m sure Pep Guardiola will feel that Barça should have scored another two or three easily.

The next Champions League nights are 1st & 2nd November, while the next Europa night is on the 3rd – when Rovers will host the Greek side that broke their hearts tonight.

Champions League 2nd leg preview (part 2)

Last week the quarter finals of the Champions League received it’s first four teams in Barcelona, Schalke, Shakhtar Donetsk and Tottenham. Four more are set to join them in this week’s ties.

Marseille travel to Old Trafford on level terms with Manchester United. Fergie’s men enter this game on the back of an impressive FA Cup win against Arsenal (who themselves also exited the Champions League last week at the hands of Barça). If Didier Deschamps men can raise their game, they can definitely cause United some serious problems.

When Bayern Munich faced Inter in the first round, it was a last-minute Mario Gomez goal that made the difference for the Germans. Now Inter travel to the Allianz Arena to try turn things around. The Nerazzurri have this week learned the news that midfielder Thiago Motta will be injured for the tie. Bad news for Leonardo’s men who are already missing Diego Milito and Lucio. Louis Van Gaal will no doubt make the most of these absences.
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Like Marseille, fellow French club Lyon travel also travel to their second leg on level terms. The face Spanish giants Real Madrid. A second half goal from Karim Benzema (himself a former Lyon player) followed by a Bafétimbi Gomis equaliser from the first leg means it’s all to play for in the Estadio Bernebéu. It’s possibly The Special One’s most important game of the season so far, and he will need to be ruthless if he is to qualify for the last 8. But Lyon have a few tricks up their sleeve – most notably the brilliant Yoann Gourcuff and Lisandro Lopez might just cause Madrid’s defense some problems.

Finally, two Nicolas Anelka goals was the difference between Chelsea and FC Copenhagen in the first leg. The Londoners are considered favourites for this tie, but Carlo Ancelotti will still need to play it safe and send out a full strength team as the Danes have proved they are capable of beating the big boys having defeated Manchester United and Celtic in recent years. Not bad for a club that didn’t even exist 20 years ago.

Champions League Round of 16 preview (part 2)

Another week, another set of Champions League games. Last week we witnessed some surprises such as Arsenal beating Barcelona and Spurs beating Milan on their own turf (much to Rino Gattuso’s displeasure).

Chelsea are the guests in the Parken Stadium where they face FC Copenhagen.  Ståle Solbakken’s men are considered the outsiders and will need to get back into the groove as their last competitve match (due to the scheduling of the Danish league) was back in early December and are the lowest ranked team left in the competiton. One thing Carlo Ancelotti must be aware of is that the Danes haven’t lost at home in the Champions League beating the likes of Manchester United and Celtic in recent years.

The Special One Jose Mourinho will be celebrating the 9th anniversary of the last time he lost a home match this week. Only he’ll be at an away ground as his Real Madrid team travel to Lyon. The former-Inter gaffer will have a close to full-strength squad and will be looking to take advantage of the French side as Lyon’s fantastic Argentine stiker Lisandro Lopez is out with a hamstring inury.
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The San Siro is the venue for another exciting Champions League game this week with the blue and black half of the city playing host to Louis Van Gaal’s Bayern Munich. The Germans have Mario Gomez and Thomas Kraft back from their injuries picked up at the weekend against Mainz while Inter Milan will likely be missing star-striker Diego Milito. Though the Nerazzuri needn’t worry as Samuel Eto’o has proven himself as one of the world’s finest goalscorers and boss (and former AC Milan legend) Leonardo will be looking to the Cameroonian as Inter’s main striker on Wednesday with this being a repeat fixture of last year’s final.

Finally Sir Alex Ferguson takes his Manchester United squad to the Vélodrome as they face Marseille. Expect to see a different team than the one the great Scot put out against Crawley Town at the weekend. The truth be told, they were lucky to beat them. Still, Sir Alex knows what he is doing and Manchester United on their best day are capable of beating probably anyone. Didier Deschamps will be worried about the fitness of star players Brandao, Loic Remy and André-Pierre Gignac with the latter expected to be out for weeks. That said, if the French side get any points from the Red Devils, it wouldn’t be the first surprise of the competition.