How things stand at half time of UEFA Champions League quarterfinals

2 Comments

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.

LATEST UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE NEWS, RIGHT HERE

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

Barcelona’s Twitter hacked to claim Di Maria signing

Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Leave a comment

FC Barcelona had eyeballs popping across the Twitterverse for a solid 90 seconds there.

La Liga’s giants Tweeted out a welcome to Angel Di Maria, the current PSG and former Real Madrid star, with the hashtag #DiMariaFCB.

[ MORE: EFL Cup Tues. wrap ]

It was an odd Tweet for 4 a.m. local time, as humourously pointed out by our Andy Edwards, and the hackers were quick to claim credit before any Tweets could be deleted.

So if someone tells you Angel Di Maria is the latest member of Barcelona, be sure to stop the spread of fake news.

On a day where Barca’s reportedly ready to up their bid for Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, something tells us someone at the Camp Nou is turning over their keys to the club’s social media.

Rescheduled Yankees game moves NYCFC-Houston to Connecticut

Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images
1 Comment

A rescheduled New York Yankees game is moving New York City FC to Connecticut.

Relax, it’s only for a day.

NYCFC will entertain the Houston Dynamo at Rentschler Field at 3 p.m. on Sept. 23 instead of their regular home of Yankee Stadium.

[ MORE: EFL Cup Tues. wrap ]

The club will offer tickets to another match to current ticket holders, and will also discount tickets to the game in East Hartford for fans who hold tickets to the Yankee Stadium game and want to travel for the Dynamo match (More info here, if you are in either of those camps).

This is the third of three scheduled seasons NYCFC will play at Yankee Stadium, and it doesn’t look like it’ll find a new home any time soon.

Given the everyday nature of Major League Baseball, it’s surprising there have not been more conflicts for NYCFC. We just remain hopeful for the day we can watch NYC’s star-studded roster play on a bigger home field.

“Injustice.” “Incomprehensible.” Ronaldo again protests suspension

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
3 Comments

The five-game suspension Cristiano Ronaldo received for making contact with an official is not sitting well with the forward.

Better put: it’s still not sitting well.

Six days ago, Ronaldo took to Instagram to say he was being persecuted after his red card in the Spanish Super Cup.

[ MORE: EFL Cup Tues. wrap ]

Tuesday afternoon, he kept up the strong words by saying the suspension is “incomprehensible” and “an injustice.”

Roughly translated, Ronaldo posted, “One more incomprehensible decision. From injustice to injustive, they will never overcome me. And as always I will come back stronger. Thank you to all who have supported me.”

We’ll say this: He’s a really good soccer player.

Barca to offer Liverpool $176M for Coutinho

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
1 Comment

Barcelona is insane.

Desperate following a rough two-legged loss to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup, the Blaugranas are reportedly ready to offer $176 million to Liverpool for Philippe Coutinho.

Read it again: $176 million for Philippe Coutinho. It’s about $126 million with $12 million more when Barca clinches a UCL spot over the next four seasons (which they have done every year since finishing sixth in 2002-03).

[ MORE: EFL Cup Tues. wrap ]

Even in this transfer market, that’s nuts. Crazy to offer, and maybe even crazier not to accept.

That’s pretty much two-thirds of the Neymar money. Two-thirds (I keep repeating myself with this story)

It’s even a convenient out for Jurgen Klopp, who’s said Liverpool is not a selling club. Here, he can say with a straight face that the club can improve with this money by selling a player who has — and I recognize it’s not all about goals and assists — one double-digit goal season in his career and a career single-season high of seven PL assists (done thrice).

Almost anyone who’s had the audacity to say the Reds should accept the bid has often been shot down by the Anfield faithful online. “It’ll ruin our season” and “How do we replace him this late?” are the common cries.

To the first question: No, it won’t. To the second: Easy?

It’s not like-for-like, but nearly every player in the world is available for $176 million. It’s not like-for-like, but here’s a short list: Antoine Griezmann, Gareth Bale, Paulo Dybala, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marco Reus… Shoot! Klopp could sign 2-3 of his favorite BVB alums.

With this fee, Coutinho would become the second-highest transfer fee of all-time, behind only Neymar. There are makeweights Barcelona could offer that would make the deal even more intriguing to the Reds: Arda Turan, Andre Gomes, Denis Suarez.

Look at it from a neutral’s eyes — which I know is hard from the number of times I’ve read @ Tweets that say, “The only people who would like this deal are fans of Chelsea or United!” — at some point, it becomes unreasonable to not take advantage of Barcelona’s desperation. Maybe Coutinho is worth the “fit” for Barca, but rejecting this fee is more illogical than the offer itself.

At the risk of inflaming every more Liverpool supporters, Ross Barkley is probably going to cost someone $35 million and he’s a year and a half younger (Coutinho is a superior player right now, but we’re talking about the market here).

And, lastly, at some point you’re telling your entire team room that you’re willing to turn down near record money — it would be the highest non-buyout clause transfer ever — to keep a player from his dream club.

Take the money. Use it. Move on.