Crunch Time For Arsenal

October 23, 2013 in Europe, Premier League by Louis Baxter

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I thought Arsenal were unlucky to lose 1-2 to Dortmund at the Emirates last night. Dortmund looked quite a way off their best, perhaps missing the midfield presence of Ilkay Gundogan more than they would likely want to admit. Dortmund’s game looked slightly off what it could be. Their pressing still made Arsenal uncomfortable for large portions of the game, but their attack looks much more splintered then it did at this point last season. Given this performance and the loss to Napoli, I’d be surprised to see them in the Champions League final this season.

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Spanish theatrics starting to overshadow the football

April 5, 2013 in Europe, La Liga by George Curtis

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It has long been the case that us English have always been great admirers of Spanish philosophy. The beauty of their football, the elegance of their players and the dignity and modesty with which they play the game. It would be a grave shame, therefore, if the unsavory theatrics and hounding of referees forced football fans to quench their football thirst elsewhere. Certainly on the back of both Barcelona and Real Madrid’s last 16 Champions League ties, that looks as if it isn’t too far away from happening.

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Never before has my disappointment at a negative Barcelona result been greeted with such animosity. Blaise Matuidi’s last minute leveller in Paris was greeted with a despondent sigh by myself, but a snigger of content from an anti-Catalan opposite. Perhaps the wave of dissatisfaction towards the Spanish giants has already begun. Read the rest of this entry →

Make Or Break Time For Newcastle United

April 2, 2013 in Europe, Premier League by Daniel Lloyd

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With the season about ready to come to a close, Newcastle United have a bigger month than most as they try to avoid the relegation dogfight that could ensue, as well as trying to progress further into the Europa League competition, even though they are up against very tough opposition.

First up, April 4th. Portugal. Newcastle travel to the Portuguese version of the Stadium of Light, the Estadio Da Luz. Could this be an omen? That the place Newcastle have to travel to has the same stadium name as their biggest rivals? Who knows, but what everybody knows about this match is that it is going to be tough. When the draw was announced, Newcastle United fans all over Twitter were hopeful, excited even, but then when they did some research on the team they had to face, and found out facts like they haven’t lost in the league all season, and that only Spartak Moscow and Barcelona have bested them in Europe…well, that struck a little fear into the ever faithful hearts of the Geordies. Sure, Newcastle have been doing well in Europe so far, and haven’t conceded in the knockout stages, but they have only scored two themselves, and in my opinion, against lesser opposition than the team top of the Portuguese league. Sure, Anji have got Eto’o, Boussoufa, Willian and the like, but Benfica are consistent Champions League performers, ones who I would put among the favourites of this competition.

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Barcelona v PSG - A test of two philosophies

March 19, 2013 in Europe by George Curtis

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A little over 1,100 kilometres separates the beautiful cities of Barcelona and Paris, two of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Paris, the city of romance, famous for its offerings of quaint bistros, spectacular museums and historic infrastructure, will play host to the appetizer of a delicious Champions League tie against Barcelona, who should feel right at home in the French capital. But whilst tourists might find parallels between the cultural offerings of the two cities, football fans will understand that these two European heavyweights couldn’t be more different.

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Arsenal exit the Champions League despite exposing Bayern flaws

March 15, 2013 in Europe by Ballsy Banter

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No team had recovered from being two goals down in the first leg of a Champions League tie. That was, until Wednesday night. A massive, brilliant, inspirational 4-0 home win eliminated AC Milan from this year’s tournament. If Barcelona could do it, then why couldn’t Arsenal? Travelling without Lukas Podolski, Jack Wilshere and Wojciech Szczesny, to a home ground that’s leaked only four goals this year, it was dubbed mission impossible.

Yet three minutes in, and Arsenal did exactly what they needed to do. A swift up field drive, an unfortunate slip from left-back David Alaba, and suddenly Walcott was in. With a low, drilled cross-cum-shot, the ball found its way to Giroud; the Frenchman poked it home. Could lightning strike twice? The answer was a resounding, well, nearly.

Giroud scores against Bayern

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