Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Wednesday UCL Match Day 3 Review: Madrid Clubs Secure Wins, Arsenal Fights Back Plus More!


There were some upsets on the radar to go with some of the usual expected blowouts as the group stage of the UEFA Champions League danced its way through Wednesday night in Europe.

Real Madrid trounced Liverpool, while their crosstown neighbors throttled Malmo and Borussia Dortmund went nuts on Galatasaray.


As for Arsenal? Read on.

We are at the halfway point in Groups A-D, and some English clubs are concerned about their fortunes to be sure.

GROUP A

Atletico Madrid 5-0 Malmo


A sleepy first half for the hosts was quickly awakened by Koke in the 48th, followed Mario Mandzukic and Antoine Griezmann goals two minutes apart in the 61st and 63rd. 

Atleti is second to Olympiakos on head-to-head, as both clubs have six points.

Olympiakos 1-0 Juventus

Former Fulham hitman Pajtim Kasami scored 35 minutes in, and that goal held up. Juve and Malmo each have three points, and sit a win behind Olympiakos and Atleti.

GROUP B

Liverpool 0-3 Real Madrid
Liverpool could not conjure up a magical European night and result at Anfield as they slipped to a chastening 3-0 defeat against reigning European champions Real Madrid.


A buzzing start from the hosts was not sustained and ultimately, it was the Reds' lack of attacking options in contrast to Los Blancos' embarrassment of riches that proved the difference.


Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring with a quite brilliant half-volley while Karim Benzema added a smart brace, aided by poor Liverpool defending, before the break to leave Brendan Rodgers' side with a mountain to climb.

Ludogorets Razgrad 1-0 Basel

Bulgarian defender Veselin Minev buried a ball in the 90th minute to lift the hosts, as the visitors nearly waited out a red card for a point. Ludo, Liverpool and Basel are all even on three points to Madrid’s nine.

GROUP C

Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Zenit St. Petersburg
Goals in the 58th and 63rd made it seem easy, but a 73rd minute red card to Wendell meant Bayer was waiting for the bell.

Monaco 0-0 Benfica

No magic from Berbatov for the hosts, who couldn’t score despite a red card to Benfica’s Pereira Dos Santos. Maybe Falcao should’ve stayed.

GROUP D

Galatsasaray 0-4 Borussia Dortmund


Borussia Dortmund eased past Galatasaray to continue their 100% record in this season's Champions League group stages.


A brace from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, followed by goals from Marco Reus and Adrian Ramos, secured the points and took Dortmund three points clear of Arsenal in Group D.


Anderlecht 1-2 Arsenal
Two last-gasp goals from Kieran Gibbs and Lukas Podolski saw an uninspired Arsenal come from behind to beat Anderlecht 2-1 in Belgium and keep alive their Champions League hopes.


Overall it was a pretty gutless performance from the Gunners, who lacked quality without a host of injured first-team stars.


The Gunners came from behind in Brussels to steal a late, vital 2-1 win against Anderlecht, with goals from Kieran Gibbs and Lukas Podolski. Their victory means they stay relatively close to Dortmund, but it is the Germans who look the most fearful in this group.


"Nigeria Is Not A Serious And Focused Football Country"- Disappointed Keshi Lashes Out


Sacked Super Eagles manager Stephen Keshi has thrown a parting shot at Nigerian football, saying the country should stop seeing itself as a serious football nation considering it is still lagging behind in many vital areas needed to attain such levels.

In a chat with ESPN football pundit Colin Udoh, the former Togo and former Mali manager noted, for instance, that but for his intervention, the Akwa Ibom State governor was planning to lay artificial grass on the newly built world-class Uyo Stadium.  That venue will host the decisive clash of the Super Eagles with South Africa next month.

“How many good pitches do we have in this country? Keshi queried. We say we are a football nation and we don't even have good training pitches for the national team, or good field to play on. Instead, there are artificial pitches everywhere, even the new Stadium in Uyo, it was when I heard from the governor that they wanted to use artificial pitch that I had to shout and tell him no way. That is how they used natural grass pitch there. But why should I be the one to say it? Where are the journalists?”


He said he was proud of his achievements during his spell as Nigeria’s manager.

“People keep saying I drew a lot of matches. But how many Nigerian coaches agreed to play friendly matches all the time. Or to use home-based players without fear but people don't see that. Every time it's Keshi this and Keshi that. Then they say I always try to use the President against them. President that I cannot even see!”

He also said he was happy that the drama was finally over, as was his family.

“I am not bitter. I'm just disappointed in some of you,” he pointed out, referring to journalists.  “Now people can stop talking about Keshi.”


Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Football Association, responding to reports that Keshi would be in the country this week to finalise a contract to take over their National team, has denied ever approaching Keshi or getting any application from him.

7 Star Bayern Munich Pay Homage To The Pope After Thrashing Roma [PHOTOS]


Following Bayern Munich's 7-1 thrashing of Roma in the Champions League on Tuesday night, one would think they would be less than welcome around the Italian capital.


However, the Bundesliga champions were greeted with open arms in the Vatican City, where they were granted an audience with Pope Francis, a self-confessed football fanatic.


On Wednesday morning, following their impressive showing at the Stadio Olimpico the night before, Bayern gathered at the Pope's famous residence where they handed over a signed shirt.

Reasons Why Liverpool Can Defeat Real Madrid Tonight


Last weekend, Real Madrid beat Levante 5-0. Cristiano Ronaldo bagged two of them, making it an utterly absurd 19 goals in 12 league and cup appearances. 

His 15 in seven Primera Liga games is the same as Sevilla, currently second in the table, have scored, and it is more than 16 of the division's 20 clubs. Only Barcelona and Valencia have scored more than Ronaldo.


He isn't doing it on his own, either. Karim Benzema has a perfectly respectable five from ten starts, Gareth Bale has five in 13, and Javier Hernandez appears to have rediscovered his scoring touch, netting three despite spending much of his time on the bench.

That victory was Real's seventh in a row in all competitions, games in which they have prevailed by an aggregate score of 33-4. The numbers are scary for their next opponents.


A few hours after Real were putting their league opponents to the sword, Liverpool were bumbling to one of the most ridiculous wins in Premier League history. It's hard to recall a team winning a game while playing quite so incompetently as Liverpool did against QPR, relying on two own goals and throwing their lead away twice on the way to a 3-2 victory.

Add this to Liverpool being without their most potent striker in Daniel Sturridge, and with Mario Balotelli playing so listlessly, it's pretty difficult to see how they could possibly resist the seemingly irresistible force of Real when they visit Anfield in the Champions League on Wednesday night.


Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers spoke about the strengths of their opponents in an interview with Guillem Balague for Spanish newspaper AS, reported by Sky Sports:

They have amazing talents all over the field and they have the technique to play in small spaces and when the space opens up there is no one better on the counter-attack in Ronaldo and Bale because, they are two players that could be in the Olympic 100 metres final.

They are as strong a team now as they have been for many years. They have everything, big experience, big players, speed, technique and a great manager in (Carlo) Ancelotti, a good man who works with players and who is a good person.

However, there are some chinks of light for Rodgers and his team.

For a start, Real actually aren't quite as irresistible as they looked at the weekend. It's easy to forget, among all the mind-boggling statistics from Ronaldo and friends that they have already lost twice in this nascent season, once in a shambolic performance at Real Sociedad and another at home to Atletico Madrid in the early part of the season.


They are potentially vulnerable, as Bulgarian minnow Ludogorets illustrated in their last Champions League game, giving the Spanish giants an almighty scare even though Real eventually ran out 2-1 winners.

In addition, Real will be without two key players for the trip. As reported by Sky Sports, neither Gareth Bale (suffering with an abdominal injury) nor Sergio Ramos (who has a calf problem) travelled to England, while Karim Benzema and one of Ramos' potential replacements, Raphael Varane, missed the Levante game with a fever and so are unlikely to be playing at peak fitness.


Real do not have many weaknesses in their team, but one area that Liverpool might want to target is their full-backs. Dani Carvajal and Marcelo are likely to be the two choices on the flanks of Real's defence, and while both are undoubtedly happy going forward, both have positional issues that Liverpool could exploit.


Rodgers has the players to do this as well. Raheem Sterling has generally excelled through the centre, but he is equally dangerous on the flank, while Adam Lallana is beginning to find his feet in a Liverpool shirt. If both players are told to attack their markers at pace and look for space behind them, Liverpool could find some success in that area.

Additionally, Real do not generally play with a traditional holding midfielder (unless Sami Khedira is recalled), so deploying a 4-2-3-1 with Philippe Coutinho as the central man in the attacking three could exploit the space in front of their defence.

Of course, with Ronaldo in the team, any other weaknesses are potentially moot, so the question becomes how to stop the Portuguese genius. As many managers have concluded over the years, this is virtually impossible, and the best method is to try and cut off service to him.



In Real's case, that service will come from Toni Kroos and Luka Modric in the heart of midfield. This is where Jordan Henderson will be a key man for the Reds, as he will be asked to do the bulk of the work in closing down Kroos and Modric, not allowing the two to create the opportunities for Ronaldo.

Kaka's Beautiful WAG Looking Sizzling Hot And Fit! [PHOTOS]


Caroline Celico, the amazingly beautiful wife of legendary Brazil playmaker Kaka, dazzled her Instagram followers by sharing a photo of herself posing next to a stone wall on Tuesday.

The stunner, who married Kaka in 2005, is easily among the hottest Brazil WAGs of all time, but is she number one?



Scroll down to see some more images of Caroline, before making your decision.


Dutch Legend Rejects Chance To Become Super Eagles' Coach For Two Reasons


Former Chelsea manager Ruud Gullit, has rejected an opportunity to handle the Super Eagles, because of fears over the spread of the Ebola virus and kidnapping.

According to AfricanFootball.com, the Dutchman has been contacted to take over the African champions, after the Eagles’ remaining two 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Congo and South Africa.

However, Gullit might not take the job as one of his representatives claim it is “high risk”, especially with the upcoming elections.



“Gullit is not interested in coaching Nigeria,” the source informed AfricanFootball.com soon after he had spoken to the ex-Dutch skipper’s agent.

“His agent told me the job is high risk. She spoke about Ebola and fears about terrorism in Nigeria and she said for those reasons, her client will not be keen.”

Another source also confirmed these reservations and admitted that other top Dutch coaches may also turn down the chance to coach Nigeria for the same reasons.

“The fear of Ebola in Nigeria is still very real even though the Nigerian government has announced it has successfully tackled the disease there,” this source said.

“But the truth is that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is yet to certify Nigeria free of the disease.

“Also, Gullit is a top personality and he told the person who spoke directly to him today (Monday) that he fears he may be kidnapped in Nigeria.


“What is clear is that these fears may not be only limited to Gullit. Most other top Dutch coaches will also stay away because of these should they be approached for the job.”

INTERVIEW: Shuaibu Amodu Speaks About Task At Hand As Eagles Boss And Ike Uche's Recall


Super Eagles’ interim coach Amodu Shuaibu has revealed that he almost turned down the job but had to accept after he was convinced by NFF boss Pinnick Amaju to tinker the team in the remaining two AFCON qualifiers. He spoke with RICHARD JIDEAKA of Complete Sports Nigeria

Was it a difficult task for you accepting to handle Super Eagles last two AFCON qualifying matches as caretaker coach?

First and foremost, my reaction to the news of my coming back to handle the national team was a kind of surprise to me. Surprise in the sense that I have been disconnected from football coaching at the national team level for the past four years and hearing that the NFF wanted me as interim coach was a big surprise.


So, I was the last person I expected to be called for this job. The first thing that came to my mind was to say outright no. The reason why I thought about saying outright no was to make serious efforts to see how we can avert the removal of my colleague, (Stephen Keshi) from this job because he has only two games remaining in the qualifiers.

What is your view on the removal of Keshi from the national team with just two games to go?

My reason for this is that I believe it was not all over for the team. And that if we were patient enough for him to probably finish this job, we could still qualify and at that level, we would have been able to appraise him (Keshi) properly. 

But it looks like superior reasoning overtook my sentiment. But the decision was taken after I made serious efforts to see if the situation would be salvaged. Unfortunately, it was deeper from what I can see from outside.

Do you see the assignment as a difficult one?

I wanted to have a mental picture of what the job is all about before accepting to handle the remaining two matches of the 2015 Afcon qualifiers. 

I made my condition very clear to the NFF that if I were to accept the job for the remaining two matches; we must appreciate where we are coming from. And as a professional, I thought I was going to be close to the technical department where I was assigned to man for over a year now though without the necessary instrument of office to perform in the first place anyway.

How are you going to prosecute the two matches?

The NFF President Amaju Pinnick assured me of total support and I know he is a man of honour. So, I let him go out with the announcement. As I speak to you now, I am not going to dwell on controversies. My plan is to meet with my technical team to see how we can fashion out plans that will be suitable to prosecute these two matches.

Will Nigeria qualify for the Nations Cup?

At the end of the day what is important to me, my crew and all Nigerians is to see how we can salvage the situation and get the required results that will see us qualify.

Will you work with Keshi’s template in the area of players’ selection?

We have just met with the NFF technical department and they made our job easy by providing a list of 60 players to select from. I will sit with my technical crew and see those who are in good form for invitation. There is no way we can overhaul the Super Eagles within one month. Keshi’s team is made up of some of the best players the country can boast off so we’ll give them a chance to prove themselves.

Are we likely to see the return of Ike Uche in the team?

To be frank with you, I will give Ike Uche a call this night to commend him for scoring 100 goals in La Liga. He is doing well and if he remains in such good form, he surely will be recalled.

What is your term of contract as the interim coach?


To tell you the truth, I have not discussed the terms of the assignment with the FA. I believe that the NFF chieftains will give us what we deserve. Money is not the issue here but patriotism.

Source: Complete Sports Nigeria

Drogba Celebrates Win With His Team Mates And Son Who Plays For Chelsea Academy [PHOTO]

Didier Drogba celebrated with his son Isaac in the Chelsea dressing room after scoring his first goal since returning to the club this summer.


The 36-year-old converted from the penalty spot mid-way through the first half as Jose Mourinho's side beat Slovenian outfit Maribor 6-0 in the Champions League.

Drogba's son pictured just beside the Chelsea's forward with the face cap on
The Ivorian was joined by son Isaac as he and team-mates - including John Terry, Petr Cech and debutant Dominic Solanke - posed for a dressing-room snapshot after the match.

Isaac Drogba, who plays for Chelsea Under 14s, appears to follow his father around the world after Drogba moved from Chelsea to Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua and eventually on to Galatasaray, before making a sensational return to the Blues.



Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Tuesday UCL Matchday 3 Review: Bayern Maul Roma In High Scoring UCL Night


Neymar and Lionel Messi maintained their lethal partnership with a goal apiece as Barcelona swept aside Ajax 3-1 in Champions League Group F.          

The Argentine was the provider, slipping the ball through for Neymar to hit the opener with a clinical finish into the corner after seven minutes, then he struck midway through the half to put the hosts in control.          


Andres Iniesta threaded the ball through to the Argentine and his shot from the centre of the penalty area squirmed under keeper Jasper Cillessen.        
 

Messi now has 69 Champions League goals, as does Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo with the duo two off all-time leading scorer Raul.      
   

Anwar El Ghazi pulled back a late goal for Ajax before Sandro Ramirez settled any late jitters.    
    
Barcelona are second in the group behind leaders Paris St Germain.

A ruthless Bayern Munich scored five goals in the first 35 minutes on their way to an astonishing 7-1 win at AS Roma that left the home players and supporters shell-shocked.          


Arjen Robben scored twice, while Mario Goetze, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Mueller, from a penalty, also chipped in before halftime as the Bavarians exploited the many gaps left by the Roma defence in the Group E match.          


Gervinho pulled one back for Roma after halftime only for further goals from substitute Franck Ribery and Xherdan Shaqiri to give Bayern their biggest ever away win in Europe, while Roma equalled their heaviest ever defeat.      
   

It was Bayern's 12th match without defeat in all competitions and left them top of the group with nine points from three games, five clear of Roma. Manchester City have two points and CSKA Moscow one.

A stoppage-time penalty from Schalke 04's Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting snatched a 4-3 win against Sporting for their first victory and a winning return to the competition for new coach Roberto Di Matteo.          

In a rollercoaster game, Schalke squandered a two-goal lead after coming from a goal down when Adrien Silva struck twice in the second half. But Choupo-Moting kept his cool to win the game for Schalke deep in stoppage time.
        
Portugal winger Nani, on loan from Manchester United this season, had put the visitors ahead on 14 minutes before Schalke levelled through Nigerian Chinedu Obasi with the Portuguese down to 10 men after the dismissal of Mauricio in the 33rd.          

It looked all over when second-half goals from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and captain Benedikt Hoewedes put the hosts two goals ahead.          

But two goals from Silva, a spot kick and a header with 12 minutes remaining, looked to have turned the game around before Chuopo-Moting's last-gasp penalty.          

Schalke are second in Group G on five points, two behind leaders Chelsea, who crushed Slovenia's Maribor 6-0. Sporting are on one.

A 75th-minute blunder by goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz handed Porto a 2-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao that helped the 1987 and 2004 winners maintain a vice-like grip on Group H.          

Three minutes after coming on as a substitute, Ricardo Quaresma's right-foot shot from the edge of the area went straight at Iraizoz but the Spaniard somehow let the ball squirm under his body.

Porto had gone in front on the stroke of halftime when Mexican Hector Herrera produced an emphatic right-foot finish following a neat pass from Juan Quintero.          

Bilbao equalised 13 minutes after the break when Guillermo Fernandez neatly sidestepped two defenders before expertly sliding the ball beyond Brazilian keeper Fabiano.          

Several players squared up in a minor kerfuffle immediately after Guillermo's goal, with Porto's Danilo and Markel Susaeta of Bilbao being booked.    
       
It was a quiet night for Porto striker Jackson Martinez who was unable to add to the three goals he scored in his side's opening two games.          

The Portuguese team, who are second in their domestic championship, have seven points from three games and lead Group H by two points from Shakhtar Donetsk.          

Struggling Bilbao are languishing fourth from bottom in La Liga and are propping up the rest with one point in Group H, two behind BATE.

Naija Player Watch: In Form Ahmed Musa Torments Manchester City in 2-2 UCL Draw


Ahmed Musa scored twice against Argentina at the 2014 World Cup and in the buildup to Tuesday’s match opined that Manchester City were “very weak” this term, as per the Daily Mail.
He then proceeded to back up his words with a standout performance.

With the game still scoreless he released an audacious attempt from distance that quite nearly put CSKA Moscow ahead, but in the 64th minute he finally unlocked the City defense.

Running into space down the right, Musa spotted the run of Seydou Doumbia and squared a superb ball into the path of his teammate, who beat Joe Hart from in close.


The pass found its way behind both Eliqauim Mangala and Vincent Kompany before arriving at Doumbia’s feet.

Real Madrid Stars Looking Super Cool As They Touch Down In England For Liverpool Clash [PHOTOS]


Real Madrid's players looked in relaxed mood as they flew out to Liverpool on Tuesday morning to continue the defence of their Champions League crown on Merseyside.


Cristiano Ronaldo and Co take on Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday night looking to record their third consecutive win in Group B after victories away at Ludogorets and at home to Basle last time out.



And the Portugal star appeared in good spirits as he shared a joke with on-loan striker Javier Hernandez as they prepared to board Real's private plane with the rest of Carlo Ancelotti's squad

SOURCE: DailyMail