Old Futbol Buffet–What I Missed

My life has been super super busy.  I have been trying to keep up on events going inEurope, which has been tough.

Two Saturdays ago I spent six hours at the local bar watching Chelsea v Spurs, Arsenal v Aston Villa (with an eye on Liverpool v Wigan) and then Real Mallorca against FC Barcelona.  Needless to say a nap was on the cards afterwards.

The London Derby wasn’t that great of a game.  Spurs seemed to be completely out of sorts with Bale drifting inside while Mata seemed awfully subdued for the Blues.  There were very few moments of quality: Adebayor’s run down the sideline and Walker’s terrible run to goal; free kicks from Bale and Mata; and double save on VdV. 2 pts from last 15 for spurs.  They will be lucky to hang to fourth.  (Did manage make the FA Cup semis against Chelsea though.)

Arsenal ran circles around Villa.  Albrighton had one nice run for the Villains but that’s about all I can remember from the visitors.  Once Given let in a soft goal from Gibbs, the writing was on the wall.  The goals from Theo and Arteta were simply spectacular.

Midweek saw the return of the Champions League, with Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Chelsea all but booked their places in the semis, with the gigantic clash between AC Milan and FC Barcelona still in the balance.  The game was entertaining but the surface and the lack of finishing kept the gloss of the game.  Zonal Marking examined the narrowness of FCB (until the introduction of Tello) and the organized pressing from the Rossoneri in his post.

The weekend in the Premiership saw more surprising results, with Arsenal losing to QPR and Wigan winning again in a dramatic last push to avoid relegation. Liverpool lost again but that’s not really a shock.  The biggest shock had to be Sunderland leading City 3-1 at the Eithad, before the blue team of Manchester pulled it back for a 3-3 draw.  If United beat Blackburn, then the Citizens may have kissed the title good bye.

The Men in Blazers pod this week was a mixed bag.  Roger’s phone line fromLiverpool was not stellar, but the banter on the previous week’s fixtures was great.  The guys spent a moment remembering Giorgio Chinaglia, who passed away last week.

Scott the Red is seeing his prediction for league honors come good in his post match wrap as United finally broke down a determined Blackburn team with two stunning goals from Valencia and Young.  I had the game on the background at work and, while it always looked like United were in control, there were some nervy moments.  As usual, I looked away and both goals were scored.  United have QPR on Sunday and if they win, surely City will feel the pressure against Arsenal.

One issue that has bothered me this season is Evra’s form for the Red Devils, which Doron addressed at stretford-end.com.  He examined all of the factors affecting the Frenchman—playing almost every minute this season, dealing with Suarez incident, negotiating the tendencies of the players around—and feels that United are lucky to have a player of his caliber.  Yes his form has dipped slightly but the rest of Europe would kill to have him.  Decent perspective, but next year Fabio has got to put up or shut up, so that Evra can be phased out.

In Serie A, Juventus thumped Napoli 3-0 to get within two points of AC Milan.  The title race is definitely back on and should be a fantastic finish.

Aaron and Marco of Juventiknows looked back at the Juventus game against Napoli which featured a comprehensive second half that produced 3 goals without replay.  Although Conte’s selections still cause some head scratching and face palms, you can’t argue with the results.  30 games unbeaten, two behind the leaders, and an easier run-in.  How great would it be if ADP ended his Juventus career by lifting the scudetto?

Speaking of dramatic title races, keep an eye on Portugal, Germany and Holland.  Epic finishes ahoy!!


Porto 60
Benfica 59
Braga 58

Ben Shave was on Beyond the Pitch to talk about the Portuguese League as the a dramatic run-in approaches.  Great information about the traditional powers and some of the surprising stories like Maritimo and Guimaraes.  They also discussed where AVB might land after his short time at Chelsea.


Borussia Dortmund 63
Bayern Munich 60


Ajax Amsterdam 58
AZ Alkmaar 57
Twente Enschede 55
PSV Eindhoven 54
Feyenoord Rotterdam 54
Heerenveen 54

Finally, Jonathan Wilson looked ahead to England’s Euro 2012 campaign by reminding readers of the events of the last two years.  His verdict: And soEngland, with three months to go until Euro 2012, is without a manager, without a captain and, frankly, without much of a clue.



Phil and Doron were back on Beyond the Pitch to look at news around Old Trafford, with the Reds picking up three vital points against Fulham.  Doron did an extensive look at Academy prospects and gave an update on the reserves.  Possible transfer window possibilities were discussed, focusing on Macheda and Berbatov.

Roberto Gotta was on Beyond the Pitch as well to discuss Serie A.  Inter took center stage as they have hired their 17th coach in 17 years.  Plus the guys looked at AC Milan down the stretch.

Grant Wahl and Alexi Lalas discussed the US’s failure to qualify for the London Olympics on the SI Soccer Roundtable and what that might mean for the coaches, players and program down the road. Interesting thoughts and well worth a listen.

Graham Hunter and Jonathan Wilson were Off the Ball Tuesday to discuss the FC Barcelona v AC Milan. Wilson pointed out that FCB’s manipulation of the refs does not cover them in glory and feels that this year’s vintage is not of the same standard as previous years.  Hunter praised the Blaugrana and thoroughly enjoyed the encounter between the European heavyweights.

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