Originally posted on Finishers Forum  |  Last updated 3/5/13
Previewing UEFA Champions League Rd of 16 – 2nd Leg - The second leg of the Champions League knockout round begins Tuesday. Here is a statistical look at the four matches this week, complete with Soccer Power Index projections… (Five Aside – ESPN) José Mourinho says world will stop to watch Manchester United v Real - José Mourinho believes the “world will stop” when Real Madrid face Manchester United at Old Trafford in their hugely anticipated Champions League encounter in which he expects each side to be bold as they seek to progress. While Sir Alex Ferguson warned his team not to fear the threat of the returning Cristiano Ronaldo, who is in superb form, with the last-16 tie standing at 1-1 following the opening leg, United have what would be a decisive away goal if the match ends goalless… (The Guardian) Glee and sympathy in North London - They were waiting for me outside the bar: three Spurs fans kitted out in the odious colors of their satanic North London cult. Since they never properly introduced themselves, let’s just call them Fat, Drunk and Stupid.   “Guess you’ll need a new jacket now,” snarled Fat, pointing to my shiny maroon satin jacket with the words “Kings of London” emblazoned underneath the Arsenal crest… (Kicking and Screaming – ESPN) Liverpool report debt increase of £22m and 10-month loss of £40.5m - The effect on Liverpool of signing expensive players in the first year of ownership by the Boston-based Fenway Sports Group [FSG] has been revealed, with accounts showing the club lost £40.5m in the 10 months to 31 May 2012. During the period, which covered Liverpool’s transfer activity in the August 2011 and January 2012 windows, the club’s biggest signings were José Enrique, from Newcastle United, and Sebastián Coates, from Nacional, but the wages still accounted for 70% of the club’s total income… (The Guardian)  What’s it like to mark Cristiano Ronaldo? - All eyes will be on Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo when the former Manchester United star returns to Old Trafford on Tuesday for the second leg of their Champions League tie. The 28-year-old scored 117 goals for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men before moving to the Bernabeu in 2009 for a record £80m fee… (BBC Sport) Manchester United v Real Madrid: Players recall famous night from 2003 - On 23 April 2003, the last time Real Madrid visited Old Trafford,Manchester United defeated the Spanish club 4-3 but were still knocked out of the Champions League quarter-finals, 6-5 on aggregate, by the galácticos of Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Luís Figo and Roberto Carlos in one of the great club encounters. A Russian billionaire named Roman Abramovich, a guest that night, was so inspired by what he saw that he ended up buying Chelsea that summer… (The Guardian) Arsenal asked for trouble against Gareth Bale, says Robbie Savage - The talk before the game was about how to stop Spurs’ in-form forward Gareth Bale but, in the end, the Gunners essentially played into his hands. Like Tottenham, Arsenal tried to keep a defensive line high up the pitch but they did not always put any pressure on the ball when Spurs were in possession. Add the pace of Bale and Aaron Lennon, who scored near-identical goals in quick succession after running on to passes from deep positions, and that spelt defensive disaster for Arsene Wenger’s side… (BBC Sport) Richard Jolly on Roberto Mancini’s ‘say what you think’ approach - While, for many managers, what happens in the dressing room stays in the dressing room, Roberto Mancini is the exception, a man willing to make private criticisms public. For some, it is heresy. For the Manchester City manager, it is necessary. He remains unapologetic about his approach… (ESPNFC United) Latin link-up has Reds purring - Sharp, skilful and South American, he was sublime. It has been the story of Liverpool’s season, a campaign where results have fluctuated but Luis Suarez’s devastating form has been a constant. Yet this was not a repeat from the archives; not when there was a welcome element of novelty. The Uruguayan was not the only inventive, incisive attacker from the southern hemisphere to flourish in northern England… (ESPN) Can QPR make a great escape? - Surely, surely ‘Arry can’t save QPR, can’t he? This is the question on the lips of many a football fan today, after an unexpected happy return to St Mary’s for the Rs boss at the weekend. Given a hostile reception on his old stomping ground, Redknapp’s delight was plain to see after his side recorded a vital win in the battle against relegation… (Tactics & Analysis – ESPN) Why Shinji Kagawa was Manchester United’s best player against Norwich - With 15 minutes to go, the Stretford End seemed in no doubt that Manchester United’s best player against Norwich City was Michael Carrick.  For the second game running, United’s most loyal supporters sang the midfielder’s name lustily. And even after Shinji Kagawa had transformed a match characterised by a lacklustre first half, they still sang on.  It is a mark of achievement for both players that the supporters have never given up on either. To watch these two players today was to witness the two world-class performances on the day… (Bleacher Report) Zhang giving Chinese game needed boost - Chinese football often takes a bashing in the wider media and, frankly, it is frequently deserved. The country qualified for the 2002 World Cup with a generation of players, of which a handful went on to play in European football. In the following 11 years, though, it has failed to build upon what was a useful platform to develop a better footballing future… (The Scout’s Notebook – ESPN) Venezuela’s paradox illustrates the perils of football globalization - What is the true measure of the state of a country’s football – the domestic league or the national team? A few decades ago the question hardly made any sense. One was a reflection of the other. These days, though, it is not so simple. In many cases the domestic and the international no longer go arm in arm. A process of ‘decoupling’ has taken place… (BBC Sport)
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