Champions League

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A.C. Milan 2-0 Celtic – (View From The Celtic End)

Published August 6, 2014 by gossipzoo

Acmilan Celtic

So near but yet so far. What a heart-breaking result. It is one of the cruelest defeats I have witnessed.

I was born into a Celtic-daft family just outside of Glasgow. Loving Celtic is in my DNA along with double strands of faith, passion and hope. Celtic fans are the life-blood of the club; our collective energy is the 12th man on game-day. The atmosphere at Celtic Park on European nights is magical, intoxicating and exhilarating. Now, I live in Los Angeles and catch the games at Joxer Daly’s, home to the L.A. Celtic Supporter’s club, where everyone is always welcome.

Today, the pub was packed, we had the Celtic game on the huge screen while the bank of tellies over the bar played host to all the other Champion’s League games; making the most noise, after us, were the Barcelona fans. Well done Calatans, some great goals were scored at Nou Camp. The Chelsea fans had the biggest groans. And yes, I am prevaricating over the discussing the Celtic game.

Before the match, I would have been delighted with a draw, maybe nicking an away goal, but the way the game unfolded, I started to believe we would win!

The first ten minutes are always the most nerve-wracking – in the past, we’ve gifted goals before settling into our own rhythm, today was no exception, Milan started strongly but we held them in check. Forster, our goalie looked up for the challenge of keeping a clean sheet. The German referee generally had a good game and allowed play to flow. As the first half progressed, we started to create chances and had a couple of almost-was’s by way of set-pieces. As the game continued our team work, discipline and persistence created more chances, but just couldn’t finish any of them. The atmosphere in the pub was relaxed and optimistic – not usual for a C/L game at the San Siro. In the dying minutes of the half, Milan put in a second spurt of activity, which we handled – in the past, we would have been fading a little, anticipating some pie and Bovril; the Barcelona game from last season comes to mind. Overall, in the first half, we were just as threatening as them, and they were as off-target as us!

A 0-0 score at half-time! Pre-game, nobody was expecting that. There was a sense from the Celtic fans in the pub of ,”To hell with a draw, we’re gonna win this – easy-peasy!’

During the second half, we looked comfortable, had more chances, more possession and more confidence; they, by contrast, appeared tired and lack-luster with only a few half-hearted attempts to score; the stadium was quiet considering how packed it was. We could have, should have, but didn’t score quite a few times; I felt that if we got one in, we’d score three. The Milan mob became a bit more histrionic and were throwing themselves down all over the place, which the referee kinda ignored most of the time. Balotelli deserved an acting award for his looks of anguish, maybe he should join One Direction if he finds the big bad Celtic team so intimidating. The general impression of them in front of the goal was that of swarming midges, annoying but not dangerous.

With 15 minutes to go, we brought on the new blokes, Boerrigter for Commons, Pukki for Matthews; we seemed to lose our fluid team work, but still appeared more capable of scoring, until we gifted them a goal, against the run of play in 82nd minute. Zapata’s off-target shot deflected off Izaguirre …so they couldn’t bloody well score against us until we helped them. They knew how lucky they were; they were celebrating like they’d just won the Champion’s League final. Then, and only then, the stadium came alive as their fans were jostled out of their stupor. Their second goal came off a free kick after Brown was carded – I don’t know why; the TV coverage didn’t show it. Forster saved Balotelli’s shot, but Muntari caught the rebound and knocked it in. In the four minutes of injury time, the Celtic fans could be heard singing, ‘You’ll never walk alone.’ It was too late; we lost 2-0.

I don’t mind being beaten, as much, when we’re out-played and out-classed, but today – we were not; we deserved more – more points, more goals, a reward for our efforts – but in football, the only thing that counts is the number of times the ball gets in the net, which we could not do. Neil Lennon will be proud of his players, pleased with his tactics, but frustrated at lack of goals. Attempts by Commons, Samaras, Matthews, Stokes all failed to yield results. I am proud of the way we played; I’ve full confidence that, in the cauldron of Celtic Park, we will beat them. One game down, five to go…last 16, here we come….did I also mention that unwavering optimism is another sign of a Celtic fan? Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart, and you’ll never walk alone…

The post A.C. Milan 2-0 Celtic – (View From The Celtic End) appeared first on WhatCulture!.

Man Utd: Everything You Need To Know About Olympiakos

Published February 23, 2014 by gossipzoo

copyright Andrew Orchard

copyright Andrew Orchard

Monday’s Champions League last 16 draw saw David Moye’s team paired with the Greek side Olympiakos, with the first leg to be played in Athens on the 25th February. What should we expect from the team blocking United’s path to the quarter finals?

Who’s The Boss?

Former Real Madrid midfielder, Michel, is the current manager of Olympiakos. The 50-year-old had two fairly uninspiring spells in his native Spain, with Getafe and Sevilla, before moving to the Greek capital in February 2013. His team went on to win the championship last season and have already made a strong start to their current campaign.

The Spaniard took the opportunity to revamp his squad in the summer transfer window, bringing in the likes of Javier Saviola from Malaga and Joel Campbell from Arsenal (on loan). Never shy to voice his opinion, he is certainly feeling confident ahead of the prospect of facing United. He has announced that his side “are in for two tough matches… but I fear no opponents”.

How’s Their League Form?

United’s poor start to the season would suggest that domestic form isn’t necessarily an indicator of how a team will perform in the Champions League. However, it is worth noting that Olympiakos have got their Super League campaign off to a scintillating start. They already sit 10 points clear of second place PAOK after 16 games, having scored a spectacular 48 goals on their way to the top. Averaging over 3 goals a game, home and away, is no mean feat.

Olympiakos are also very strong defensively, having only conceded 6 league goals this season. Clearly they are a team high on confidence, with both defence and attack currently firing on all cylinders. Historically however, their domestic dominance has hindered rather than helped any progress in the Champions League, as United’s opponents have only reached the last four of the competition once, back in 1999. It would seem that teams who enter the competition from poor domestic leagues ultimately struggle to transcend their league form into continental dominance. For more information, just ask Celtic.

Fox In The Box?

Konstantinos Mitroglou has been in sparkling form this season, with the striker contributing 22 goals for club and country. With Liverpool and Arsenal reportedly monitoring the 25-year-old’s progress, a two legged tie against United will give the Greek international a chance to showcase his talents against an English opponent.

His goals per game ratio has been exceptionally impressive; he has bagged 14 league goals in 10 games this season. With Moyes still uncertain of his best central defensive partnership, there is a chance that Mitroglou could expose any weaknesses. United would be wise to play a high line against the prolific striker, as he is prone to straying offside. He was caught out 11 times in the group stages; only Olivier Giroud bettered that unwanted statistic.

How Did They Get This Far?

Olympiakos came through as runners up to PSG in a group that also contained Benfica and Anderlecht. The Greek side sneaked through by the skin of their teeth, courtesy of a superior goal difference over Benfica. Interestingly, their water tight domestic defence conceded 8 times in the 6 group matches. Mitroglou top scored for the club in the group stage, with 3 goals.

Anything Else We Should Know?

UEFA have announced that the first leg, in Athens, will be played in a partially closed stadium. This punishment has been handed down for “racist conduct of supporters, insufficient organisation, the setting-off of fireworks and the use of a laser” during Olympiakos’ clash with Anderlecht in their last group game. The news could be a bonus to United, who will be looking to use the subdued home atmosphere to their advantage.

On a cheerier note, the tie will also give United fans the opportunity to welcome back a legend to the club in the return fixture. Whether Roy Carroll, current Olympiakos shot stopper, can expect quite the reception Ronaldo received last season, remains to be seen…

Likely Result?

Moyes has complained about his side’s bad luck this season, so seeing Olympiakos’ name come out of the draw on Monday must have felt like Christmas coming early. Compared to facing Real Madrid at the same stage last season, United’s second round opponents this time are possibly the lowliest side left in the competition. United famously enjoy strong finishes to their season and their players are well trained in the art of playing in continental competitions midweek, before league duties at the weekend. It is possible that Olympiakos will face the full wrath of a United team just beginning to find their rhythm when the two sides meet in February and March next year.

If United fail to overcome Olympiakos it will be a major surprise. Moyes will be confident of wins, home and away.

Stats courtesy of ESPN

The post Man Utd: Everything You Need To Know About Olympiakos appeared first on WhatCulture!.

Schalke vs Arsenal – Match Preview & Team News

Published November 7, 2012 by gossipzoo

Arsenal travel to Germany to take on Group B leaders Schalke in the Champions League tonight, looking to gain revenge for the 2-o defeat at the Emirates a fortnight ago. Kick-off time is at 7.45pm and the match will be screened live on Sky Sports 2 in the UK.

England international winger Theo Walcott will be assessed ahead of the game. The 23-year-old has been suffering from an illness and is a doubt for the game.

Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has an ankle injury and could miss out, though he did join up with The Gunners for a training session on Monday.

Aaron Ramsey is similarly a doubt for his groin injury that he picked up in the weekend’s narrow defeat to Manchester United. Still sidelined for the visitors are Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hip), Gervinho (ankle), Kieran Gibbs (thigh), Abou Diaby (thigh) and Tomas Rosicky (hamstring).

For Schalke, defender Christoph Metzelder has an adductor injury which kept him out of the weekend defeat at Hoffenheim. Julian Draxler is in contention to start from his broken arm having appeared as a sub at the weekend.

Team news courtesy of Teamtalk

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