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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…

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3 Italian Clubs Ready To Fight For European Glory Again

Published August 5, 2014 by gossipzoo

Marek Hamsik1

For some years now, Italian football has been in the wilderness. Despite Inter Milan being crowned champions of Europe in 2010, Italian clubs have struggled to make their mark in Europe’s premier club competition.

Such has been their demise on the European stage that Serie A has lost one of its 4 places in the competition, with now only 2 sides qualifying automatically and the other having to navigate the tricky qualifying round.

However, match day 1 of the Champions League showed us that Italian football is slowly on the rise again. Napoli and AC Milan picked up opening day wins, while Juventus were held to a draw by the resilient Copenhagen.

The results will no doubt fill Serie A fans with a renewed sense of optimism going into this year’s Champions League, something which has been lacking in previous seasons.

In this feature WhatCulture takes a look at Serie A’s 3 European clubs and assess what we can expect from them in this season’s Champions League.

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Man City vs Man Utd: Why Yaya Toure Is A Key Player In Derby

Published August 3, 2014 by gossipzoo

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Media Image Ltd

Manchester City’s box-to-box midfielder Yaya Toure is widely regarded as one of the side’s most influential players since signing from Catalan giants Barcelona in 2010.

Often known for his rampaging runs through midfield and his casual swagger style of play, Toure has risen to star status during his time in the Premier League. He’s been utilised largely in two positions for the Citizens – as a holding midfielder or a central midfielder given license to roam up the pitch.

This season has once again seen him playing a relinquished role in midfield, positioned in front of the defence as protection. New manager Manuel Pellegrini has used the 30-year old to break up the attacks and move the ball on in a swift fashion, or to set up counter attacks – dribbling the ball out of midfield at a minimum.

When title rivals Manchester United come to town this weekend, the Ivory Coast international will be a key player for the hosts. Yaya Toure has boasted high ball-retention stats early on this season – a 90.8% pass completion, while making an average of 86.8 passes per league game.

Manchester United duo Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney will have been targeted as the two biggest creative threats to the side, and the pair will need to be kept from picking out passes in the final third whenever possible.

As Rooney can often drop very deep to receive the ball, the job to stop both him and Carrick from playing will be on Yaya Toure, and should he collect the ball after making a challenge or interception, he’ll then be required to launch a counter-attack or to simply play it to an available teammate close-by.

Toure could be a pivotal player for Manchester City this weekend, and he could well be the one who decides which sides come out the victors in the pending clash.

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Newcastle 2-3 Hull City – Pardew Regrets Lack Of Consistency

Published August 2, 2014 by gossipzoo

Papiss Cisse 9

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Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was left bemoaning his side’s consistency after Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to Hull City at St. James’ Park.

The result came on the back of the Toon’s win at Aston Villa last weekend, but a lack of concentration cost United dear against Steve Bruce’s men.

And after shipping three goals for the third time in six Premier League home games, Pardew was left to rue his team’s defending as City notched their first away victory of the season.

“We started really well and got the goal,” said the Magpies boss, “but we weren’t tight enough as a team and Hull exploited those spaces.

“All three of their goals were poor from our point of view. We’ve defended really, really well over the last few weeks, but it’s consistency in our performances that this team is searching for.

“You can see similarities in this team to the one that finished fifth, but that team had a consistency about it as team – not as individuals.

“Today, the formation was the same (as it was against Aston Villa), the set-up was the same but we didn’t look the same.

“We looked too loose and gifted them their goals. You can’t do that against any opposition and I’ll be first to pay tribute to Hull, because they played very well.

“But for us it was a really disappointing day. You’ve got to do it home and away in this division.”

One player that was singled out for praise by Pardew was Loic Remy, who scored a brace in the first-half.

The on-loan forward looked a constant threat to City’s backline and his manager was quick to sing his praises following his first goals in a black and white shirt.

“Remy got a couple of good goals and he had a fantastic chance for a third, but unfortunately it came at him so quickly.

“But his performance was one of the rare highlights from today.

“We need the commitment and the quality that we showed at Villa in every game. Our passing wasn’t as great as it has been in the last two or three games and we had a day at the office that we have to forget quickly and move on from.”

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West Ham 2-3 Everton: Allardyce Rues Red Card Decision

Published August 2, 2014 by gossipzoo

Sam Allardyce was proud of his team’s performance and less than happy with the referee’s performance as his West Ham side lost in the final minutes to Everton 3-2.

Mark Noble was given a controversial red card and Allardyce felt that, along with Romelu Lukaku’s half time introduction, was the difference.

“Up until the sending off, I thought the players were great,” said Allardyce. “After losing your last home game you want a response from your players and I think we got that. Everton a great side and we matched them. I’m really disappointed that we lost.”

“Lukaku was a huge difference. Everton played off him and we found that more difficult but our defensive qualities shone through as we restricted them up until Baines scored the first goal.”

The late defeat was even more bittersweet as Lukau had been a summer transfer target for the Irons.

“I had been talking to Jose (Mourinho) all summer about Lukaku, it was no, no, no, no, no, then there was a quick switch and everton got in there before us or West brom. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.”

The red card for Noble certainly had an effect o the game, but Big Sam was watchful with his words.

“I’ve got to be careful what I say, we all have. We get fined and the last thing I want is the FA getting any of my money that I work really hard for. If we want referees to get better then they have to get criticised like we all do in this game.”

“I’ve had a look at (the challenge). It’s easy for me to say Mark Noble has played the ball but he did because I have seen it on the laptop. The ref sees it where he is but he has to be certain because it’s a sending off. If Noble had not been booked before then Baines might still score but it’s still 2-2 with eleven men.”

Leighton Baines stepped up to score his second free kick of the game from Noble’s foul.

“How often do you see that? Not very often. That’s three in two home games for us, Pennant did the same thing for Stoke. You expect three in the whole season and (Baines) has put two in one game.”

While Allardyce could take some respite from a good display in general from his defence, that late blow was ultimately very difficult to take. While Everton jump into the top four, West Ham slip to 14th with five points from five games.

The post West Ham 2-3 Everton: Allardyce Rues Red Card Decision appeared first on WhatCulture!.

Ukraine vs England – Team News, Match Preview & Likely Line-Ups

Published July 21, 2014 by gossipzoo

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Media Image LTD

Date: Tuesday, September 10 Venue: Olympic Stadium K/o: 19:45

England manager Roy Hodgson will be hoping Rickie Lambert rescues him from his striking crisis against Ukraine in tonight’s Group H World Cup qualifier.

Team News

The Three Lions will be without Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck for tonight’s clash in Kiev.

Hodgson will make only one change however to the side that won 4-0 at home to Moldova last Friday, meaning midfielder Frank Lampard will earn his 100th cap.

Manchester City’s James Milner is expected to replace the suspended Welbeck.

Ukraine are set to start with striker Marko Devic, while Yevhen Konoplyanka is set to keep his place on the left flank and Andriy Yarmolenko on the right in a 4-4-2 formation.

The home side are coming into this game in superb form having previously thumped San Marino 9-0.

(source: BBC)

Key Stats

Ukraine’s 9-0 win over San Marino last Friday was the biggest win in their history.

England top Group H on goal difference and with a game-in-hand on second placed Montenegro, but can be overtaken by Ukraine tonight with a defeat.

The last time these sides met was the first stage of this World Cup qualifier double header, with the game ending 1-1 at Wembley Stadium.

Of the last six encounters, dating back to 2000, the Three Lions have been victorious four times, with one defeat and a draw.

Likely Line-Ups

Ukraine
Pyatov, Khacheridi, Shevchuk, Fedetskiy, Rakitskiy, Tymoshchuk, Yarmolenko, Konoplyanka, Edmar, Seleznyov, Devic

England

Hart, Walker, Cahill, Jagielka, Cole, Lampard, Gerrard, Wilshere, Milner, Walcott, Lambert

Now click “Next” for our Match Preview.

The post Ukraine vs England – Team News, Match Preview & Likely Line-Ups appeared first on WhatCulture!.

Ukraine vs England – 5 Key Battles

Published July 21, 2014 by gossipzoo

roy-hodgson-press-2

Tonight, the nation will hold its collective breath as England take on Ukraine in Kiev.

The crunch Group H World Cup qualifier will likely have a deciding say on which side tops the table and makes it through to next summer’s tournament in Brazil.

Both sides go into this encounter in varying moods.

England, despite rolling over Moldova in a 4-0 win at Wembley Stadium last week, had their feelings tempered by the suspension to Danny Welbeck and injury to Daniel Sturridge.

Ukraine meanwhile are flying having battered shoddy San Marino in a thumping 9-0 win, a national record for the Yellow-Blues.

They also have the home advantage and the knowledge that they held tonight’s opponents to a shock 1-1 draw in their own stadium almost a year ago to the day.

Then, Frank Lampard rescued the Lions with an 87th minute penalty, and, with the Chelsea veteran set to make his 100th cap tonight, will he be similarly influential over proceedings?

As with any game, this one will be decided in certain key areas and here, we take a look at the 5 Key Battles that could decide the outcome of this fixture.

Click “Next” to begin.

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