Britain Soccer Champions League

How things stand at half time of UEFA Champions League quarterfinals


We have reached the halfway point of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, and three of the four ties are still hanging in the balance with all to play for next week.

As things stand, the path to the final four is still not clear for some of Europe’s biggest teams.


Four massive matches are coming up on April 8 and 9, and now it is time to take stock after the first legs.

Tension, ecstasy and despair have been rife in the first four games of the quarters… crank that up plenty of notches, and you might have a chance of replicating the emotions inside all four stadiums during the second legs.

FC Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid

What a tie we had at the Nou Camp in the first leg, as Atletico drove at the heart of Barcelona’s defense time and time again, and that’s without their injured talisman Diego Costa. His replacement, plain old Diego, scored a stunner to give the capital club the lead, and a second half equalizer from Neymar leaves the tie hanging in the balance. Diego Simeone’s Atleti are hungry to succeed in the UCL and make the last four. With the second leg at home against Barca at a fired up Vicente Calderon, the partisan crowd will play a huge factor. Barca’s galaxy of stars, led by Lionel Messi, haven’t figured out how to beat Atletico’s relentless high-pressure approach. They have to do that quickly. PST’s Richard Farley was waxing lyrical about the first game between these two. If you want to see two hugely contrasting styles of Spanish soccer clash, this is the match for you.

First Leg: FC Barcelona 1-1 Atletico Madrid

Second Leg: April 9, Vicente Calderon, Madrid

source: AP
A fiery encounter played out at Parc des Princes. Can Chelsea overturn PSG’s two-goal lead?

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Chelsea

Have PSG finally arrived on the big stage? The reigning French champions looked the real deal for vast swathes of their home victory against Chelsea in the first leg. Ezequiel Lavezzi opened the scoring and was a bright spark all evening, while Eden Hazard leveled and Chelsea looked solid until around the hour mark. Then an own goal by David Luiz and a late Javier Pastore strike, after a mazy run, handed the initiative to Les Parisiens in an absorbing clash at the Parc des Princes. Chelsea’s defending was sloppy and they now have to overturn a two-goal advantage at Stamford Bridge next Tuesday. Can Jose Mourinho’s men do it? They will likely face PSG without their talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic who limped off injured with 20 minutes to go in the first leg.

First Leg: Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 Chelsea

Second Leg: April 8, Stamford Bridge, London

Manchester United vs. Bayern Munich

In a turbulent week for David Moyes, and seven days after his side were humiliated by crosstown rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford, a very different United team turned up to play Bayern. The Red Devils conceded possession to the reigning European champions, but hit them on the break time and time again. A Nemanja Vidic header was cancelled out by Bastian Schweinsteiger’s goal, as a pulsating class took place under the lights at Old Trafford. Bayern dominated played but United dug in superbly, as two late yellows for Bayern will see Javi Martinez and Schweinsteiger sit out the second leg. Not many people thought Man United would still be in with a chance of advancing to the semifinals by the time the return game had come around, but they are very much in this tie. A cracking evening in Bavaria between two old foes awaits. Plus, Moyesy has faith.

First Leg: Manchester United 1-1 Bayern Munich

Second Leg: April 9, Allianz Arena, Munich


source: AP
Real rout Dortmund, as revenge tasted sweet for the Madrid club.

Real Madrid vs. Borussia Dortmund

Before this game Dortmund’s head coach Jurgen Klopp proclaimed himself delighted just to get to the knockout stages and anything was a bonus. It seems as if the quarterfinals is as far as that bonus goes. Spanish giants Real Madrid smashed BVB 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu, with goals from Gareth Bale, Isco and Cristiano Ronaldo doing the damage. Last season Dortmund humiliated Real by winning 4-1 at home with four goals from Robert Lewandowski. Surely the big Polish striker can’t repeat that feat this season? Dortmund need a miracle, as Real’s juggernaut guided by Carlo Ancelotti, continues to plow through Europe’s elite with ease. Can the second leg deliver a game, or will Madrid simply run away with it?

First Leg: Real Madrid 3-0 Borussia Dortmund

Second Leg: April 8, Westfalenstadion, Dortmund

Thanksgiving transfer rumors: Bender, Pato to Arsenal; Slimani to Palace

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Happy Thanksgiving!

[ VIDEO: Foxes to stay top? United for the title? ]

It’s time for a healthy dose of transfer rumors before you fill up on Turkey and pumpkin pie, so here is your fix of gossip.

Lars Bender, 26, is reportedly attracting Arsenal’s interest as the Bayer Leverkusen holding midfielder could move to the Emirates Stadium in January. Italian outlet CalcioMercato claim that Arsene Wenger is tracking Leverkusen’s captain as he badly needs reinforcements in midfield after Francis Coquelin went down injured against West Brom last weekend and is set to miss at least three months through injury. Bender, a German international, would certainly fit Wenger’s requirements as “top, top quality” but the transfer price may put Arsenal off as he would cost just under $30 million.

Another player the Gunners are said to be in for is ex AC Milan winger Alexandre Pato. Yeah, remember him? Pato, 26, is currently playing for Corinthians back in his homeland of Brazil but Wenger has met with former Arsenal midfielder, and current Corinthians director of football, Edu, to talk about signing the man who once carried the hopes of AC. Edu confirmed the talks and the Brazilian side are reportedly eager to cash in Pato in January and the player is keen for a move back to Europe. Do the Gunners need more firepower?

Algerian striker Islam Slimani, 27, has been linked with a $20 million move to Crystal Palace. Alan Pardew‘s side have made their best-ever start to a Premier League season this year but it could’ve been even better as scoring goals has been a real issue for the Eagles with midfielder Yohan Cabaye their top scorer with four goals. With Connor Wickham, Marouane Chamakh and Dwight Gayle all injured in recent weeks, the Daily Mirror says Pardew is looking to Sporting Lisbon’s Slimani to arrive in January and deliver the goals which could see them push for Europa League qualification. There’s no doubt Palace need reinforcement up top but is Slimani the man? With new investment from Americans David Blizter and Josh Harris expected by the festive season, Palace could have plenty of cash to spend in the January window.

Finally, Newcastle United have been linked with moves for both Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend by the Daily Mail. Steve McClaren‘s team are hovering just above the relegation zone and creating chances has been a big issue for the Magpies. It’s hard to see Shelvey, who has become a key figure for the Swans, leaving South Wales for a relegation scrap, but Townsend leaving Tottenham is much more likely to happen after he was involved in a bust-up with a fitness coach earlier this month and was suspended from training by Mauricio Pochettino. Townsend, 24, would likely be a regular for Newcastle and ahead of EURO 2016 he could get a good run of games to try and break back into the England squad.

Qatar launches probe after rains exposed poor construction

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Qatar has launched an investigation after heavy rains exposed poor construction in a country set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, a deluge that saw water cascade through the roof of its $15 billion main airport.

[ MORE: 3 things learned – United v PSV ]

The investigation already is examining the work of five unnamed companies and others could be targeted as well in the probe launched by Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, who also serves as interior minister, the country’s state-run Qatar News Agency said.

“Parties responsible for dereliction or negligence, whether governmental or private, will be held accountable,” the agency said, citing a statement late Wednesday from Qatar’s Government Communication Office.

Reached for comment, officials at Doha’s Hamad International Airport issued a statement simply saying: “There was no impact to operations yesterday.” It referred other questions to the government.

The day before, at least 79.5 millimeters (3.13 inches) of rain fell at the airport, according to the Qatar Meteorology Department. Typically, the hot, desert country sees around 50 millimeters (1.97 inches) of rain in a year.

The sudden rainfall saw water pour out of the airport’s ceiling in several places, captured in online videos.

Qatar opened Hamad International Airport in April 2014, part of its effort to enter the competitive Gulf airline market. The 600,000 square meter (6.5 million square feet) passenger terminal complex was scheduled to be completed in 2009.

The airport is part of a multibillion-dollar building boom in Doha ahead of the 2022 World Cup. However, the push has seen Qatar criticized for the way it treats its large migrant worker population. There also have been accusations of shoddy construction.

Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at .

How can Man United qualify for last 16 of Champions League?

Wayne Rooney, Manchester United FC

Heading into the their final UEFA Champions League Group B game, Manchester United hold their destiny in their own hands, but any slip-up could mean it’s Europa League on Thursday nights for Louis Van Gaal‘s men.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

The Red Devils would have advanced to the knockout stage with a victory over third-place PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday, but slumped to an ugly 0-0 draw instead.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Man United 0-0 PSV ]

So, here’s all of the scenarios for the final matchday of the group stage, away to Wolfsburg, in which United would advance to the round of 16 advance:

  • A Man United win will see Man United finish top of Group B
  • A Man United draw, coupled with a PSV draw or loss (vs. CSKA Moscow), will see Man United finish second in Group B
  • A Man United draw, coupled with a PSV victory, will see Man United finish third in Group B
  • A Man United loss, coupled with a PSV loss, will see Man United finish second in Group B
  • A Man United loss by more than one goal, coupled with a PSV draw, would see Man United finish third in Group B
  • A Man United loss, coupled with a PSV win, would see Man United finish third in Group B

[ MORE: Champions League schedule

There are your scenarios for Man United as it’s pretty simple to break it down: Win, and they go through. Fail to win, and their fate is completely in the hands of PSV.

VIDEO: Can Leicester stun the world? Man United title favorites?

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The Foxes are top of the Premier League and are led by a surging Jamie Vardy but how long can they keep shocking the world?

With six tough games coming up between now and the start of 2016, Claudio Ranieri‘s men will be pushed to their limit but so far this season they’ve been sensational and Vardy has equaled Manchester United legend Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of scoring in 10-straight PL games.

[ MORE: Full PST Extra archive ]

Can he make it 11 in a row on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra) when United visit the King Power Stadium? As for the Red Devils, they sit in second place and are just one point behind the flying Foxes’. Louis Van Gaal‘s men have certainly flown under the radar so far and our churning out wins at an impressive rate.

Jenna Corrado and I discuss that and more in the latest edition of PST Extra. Click play on the video above to see our chat in full.