Tag Archives: UEFA

Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich Preview

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UEFA Champions League

Real Madrid. Bayern Munich. 14 European Titles combined. 56 Domestic League Titles combined. 2 legendary clubs. 1 goal. Whenever two of the biggest clubs in Europe get together, it is a dazzling event. It becomes monumental when a berth in the Champions League Final is at stake.

Gareth Bale may not be a go, thanks to a nasty flu bug. Gareth Bale may not be a go, thanks to a nasty flu bug.

Despite all the glamour that is attached to these two sides, questions abound. Especially for Real Madrid. Gareth Bale, who was the hero for Real Madrid in their Copa del Rey final victory against Barcelona, suddenly went down with the flu during training. The Welsh International and former Tottenham star, is a breathtaking player on his best day, and if he can’t make the lineup, it could be a major blow for Real Madrid.

All signs point to Cristiano Ronaldo being in the lineup for Real Madrid. All signs point to Cristiano Ronaldo being in the lineup for Real Madrid.

The other question…

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Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea Preview

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UEFA Champions League

The semifinals of the UEFA Champions League kickoff in Madrid, where Atletico Madrid and Chelsea square off. Both teams are coming off thrilling climaxes in the quarterfinal stage. Atletico held off Spanish rivals Barcelona, while Chelsea overcame a 3-1 deficit to eliminate Paris Saint-Germain.

Both sides are heavily involved in the title chases of their respective leagues. Atletico sit atop of the La Liga table, four points clear of second place Barcelona, and six points clear of third place Real Madrid. Chelsea sit second in the English Premier League, five points adrift of Liverpool.

Both teams will need to fight off the distractions of their domestic leagues, but both will have to be aware of the lineups they put out, as they try to balance out playing time for their squads. This could become a battle of attrition.

The most intriguing figure in this tie could very well be Diego…

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Manchester United vs Bayern Munich Preview

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UEFA Champions League

Two of the most glamorous teams in Europe will clash in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League. Manchester United and Bayern Munich have a rich history of success, as well as memorable meetings between the two sides.

However, both teams seem to be heading in opposite directions. Manchester United have struggled in the English Premier League, sitting in 7th place in the table. If that position holds, the Red Devils would not qualify for European Football on any level for the first time since 1989.

Bayern Munich, on the other hand, have already wrapped up the Bundesliga title, with a record seven games to spare. Die Roten could pull off a second straight treble, as they are in the semifinals of the DFB-Pokal (The German Cup) as well as gunning for their second straight Champions League title.

The history is well documented. United defeated Bayern 2-1 in a thrilling…

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Mission Impossible For Arsenal

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Arsenal Defeated

There are many challenges to overcome for any club that wants to win the Champions League. The best slay the dragon, while the mere mortals go off quietly in a whimper. For Arsenal, their history is filled with whimpering. The North London club has never won Europe’s biggest prize, despite coming close in 2006, when they reached the finals only to lose to Barcelona.

In 2014, the Gunners face a daunting task. Down 2-0, Arsenal must travel to Allianz Arena where the defending European Champions Bayern Munich await them. It is one thing to face a 2-0 deficit. It is completely another when the best team in Europe holds that two goal edge. Especially when away goals matter so much in this competition.

The first leg back on February 19, was a controversial affair as Arsenal keeper Wojiech Szczesny was sent off in the 37th minute after he tripped Arjen…

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Napoli vs Borussia Dortmund Preview

UEFA Champions League

An intriguing matchup highlights Matchday 2 of the UEFA Champions League. Italian arrivistes Napoli clash with Borussia Dortmund at the Stadio San Paolo.

Napoli have started strongly in Serie A, topping the table with the maximum 9 points in 3 games. Manager Rafa Benitez has instilled confidence into the squad, along with experience in Europe. Benitez was the manager when Liverpool won the Champions League in 2005.

Borussia Dortmund came within an eyelash of winning the Champions League last season, and are hoping to take the final step this season. Die Schwarzgelben are also off to a strong start in the Bundesliga, topping the table with a maximum 15 points in 5 games.

Gonzalo Higuain
Gonzalo Higuain

Napoli prefers to use a 4-2-3-1 formation, as midfielders are clearly defined as attacking or holding midfielders. The biggest change though is at the striker position as Gonzalo Higuain comes over on a transfer from Real Madrid. The Argentine International replaces Edison Cavani who left for Paris Saint Germain. Higuain has registered 2 goals so far for La Partenopei, but he does have the potential to tally a multitude of goals, when given the opportunity.

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Manchester United vs Bayer Leverkusen Preview

UEFA Champions League

When the draw for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League concluded, many thought Manchester United had a fairly easy draw. The Red Devils should not be listening to those people, or they could be in for a surprise in their opening fixture. German upstarts Bayer Leverkusen will make the trip to Old Trafford in hopes of getting a result, and to send a message in Group A.

Perhaps no club is going through a bigger change of culture than Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson is not filling out the team sheet for the first time since 1986, which has to be jarring for the players and supporters alike. David Moyes comes over from Everton to replace a legend, and while Moyes does have an excellent pedigree, he has no experience managing in Europe’s top club competition. How he handles the pressure of European football could determine United’s fate in the competition.

Leverkusen have started very well in the Bundesliga, winning four of their first five matches, which has them third in the table, three points adrift of current leaders Borussia Dortmund. Manager Sami Hyypia knows Old Trafford, having played there as an enemy when he was with United’s bitter rivals Liverpool. Hyypia also has Champions League experience, winning the title with the Reds back in 2005. The Finnish manager is hoping to translate some of his winning European experience to his squad.

Robin Van Persie leads Manchester United with 23 goals in all competitions.
Robin Van Persie

United will either use a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3 formation, depending on what type of tactics Moyes will prefer to use. One thing is for certain is that Robin Van Persie will be in the starting XI for United. The Dutch International leads the Red Devils with 5 goals in all competitions, and was leading scorer in the English Premier League last season with 26 goals. RVP’s left foot is deadly, especially on set pieces where he is known to find the back of the net. Wayne Rooney has been the subject of many rumours in Manchester, on whether his long-term future will be at United. There was considerable talk during the transfer window that Rooney was headed to Chelsea, but those talks have been quelled for the moment. Rooney did start over the weekend, but his nagging health issues could see him on the bench for the opening European fixture. Mexican International Javier Hernandez could make the team sheet, even though he has struggle to find his game since Moyes arrival. Danny Welbeck is another possibility for United, up front.

Michael Carrick
Michael Carrick

The midfield has seen different variations early in the campaign, with the one constant being Michael Carrick. The holding midfielder is the rock at the centre of the pitch, and has shown to be very durable for United. Columbian International Antonio Valencia has shown flashes of brilliance, but his erratic and wayward at times. The ageless Ryan Giggs could make the sheet, if Moyes wants experience on the pitch. Ashley Young is a possibility, but he has been warned by Moyes about his diving and inconsistent play. Tom Cleverley is a solid holding midfielder, who should make the team sheet.

Patrice Evra
Patrice Evra

The back four remains a constant for United. Patrice Evra remains one of the premier left backs in the world. Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are fortresses at centre back. Phil Jones is one of the most underrated defenders in the world, and can be used either as a right back or as a central defender.

David de Gea
David de Gea

David De Gea is an improving keeper, that has gained the trust of his teammates. The Spaniard still has moments of doubt between the sticks, but those moments are becoming less frequent.

Stefan Klessling
Stefan Klessling

Leverkusen prefers a 4-4-2 format with midfielders joining the attack from the trail position. Stefan Klessling is a dangerous striker who can score goals from just about anywhere in the opposition side. His 6-3 frame makes him formidable in the air, which has helped him score four goals so far in the Bundesliga. Son Heung-Min is the creative element up front. The South Korean International is known more for his slick passing, than his finishing touch but that makes his partnership with Klessling ideal.

Sidney Sam
Sidney Sam

The midfield is focused around Sidney Sam. The Nigerian born attacking midfielder can move up to forward, which makes him a threat whenever he’s around the ball. Sam has four goals for Das Werkself so far this season. Stefan Reinartz is a sturdy holding midfielder who is difficult to penetrate against. Lars Bender is a crafty midfielder that possess incredible stamina. Gonzalo Catro is a defensive midfielder who can sneak up on the attack on occasion.

Sebastian Boenisch
Sebastian Boenisch

The back four has improved steadily over time. Polish International Sebastian Boenisch is the most dependable defender on Leverkusen. Italian Giulio Donati will anchor the right back position. Turkish International Omer Toprak should make the team sheet as one of the centre backs. Either Roberto Hilbert or Phillip Wollscheid will be the other centre back.

Bernd Leno
Bernd Leno

Keeper Bernd Leno returns after battling injuries last season. Leno is a rising star between the sticks, and he hopes his continued ascension will mean a call up to the German National side, in time for the 2014 World Cup.

Prediction:

The experience advantage will go to Manchester United but don’t sell Leverkusen short. They know how to handle hostile environments, playing in intimidating venues such as Allianz Arena and Signal Park. That said, United will focus their defence on shutting down Sam and Klessling. Leverkusen don’t have too many options past those two, which makes them vulnerable if they fall behind. United are still going through an adjustment period so expect an unspectacular but efficient United side. Manchester United wins 2-1 to get their European season started on the right foot.

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Your 2013-2014 Dubsism UEFA Champions League Preview

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Now that we have an opening draw, there are now 96 matches scheduled between 32 of the best clubs Europe has to offer. Several great  rivalries will be renewed over the next few months, and a handful of Europe’s up-and-coming sides will also be tested by the continent’s perennial powers.  As usual, most Americans couldn’t give a shit less.

That’s really a shame, because the Champions League has really become the world’s biggest sporting event. It’s part NCAA Basketball Tournament, part NFL Playoffs, and all about some rivalries that are older than America itself.

But I’m not here to win converts; I’m here to look at the eight groups of four teams each, and to take a look at who has the best shot to get out of the group stage.

Group A:  Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, Real Sociedad

This group features one three-time winner, two domestic champions from the previous season and four teams that have all made it to the knockout round of the competition in the new millennium.

1) Manchester United

  • How they qualified: English Premier League champion, advanced directly into group stage
  • Best finish: Winner (1968, 1999, 2008)
  • Home stadium: Old Trafford / Manchester, England
  • Manager David Moyes
  • Preview: United has a new look this year, as David Moyes replaced the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson as manager.  Man U remains as one of the royalty of European soccer; they still have a crushing level of talent even with the uncertain status of striker Wayne Rooney as far as his tenure with the Red Devils is concerned.  This club has to be considered a favorite to advance deep into this tournament.

2) Shakhtar Donetsk

  • How they qualified: Ukrainian Premier League champion,advanced directly into group stage
  • Best finish: Quarterfinals (2011)
  • Home stadium: Donbass Arena / Donetsk, Ukraine
  • Manager: Mircea Lucescu
  • Preview: Ever since legendary Romanian manager Mircea Lucescu took over at Donetsk in 2004, they have been consistently one of the best coached teams in any competition, European sides have found Donetsk to be a worthy adversary in many competitions, especially in their UEFA Cup win in 2009.  Having said that, this is a tough draw for the Ukrainians, and they will have to play their best football to advance.

3) Bayer Leverkusen

  • How they qualified: German Bundesliga third place, advanced directly into group stage
  • Best finish: Finalist (2002)
  • Home stadium: BayArena / Leverkusen, Germany
  • Manager: Sami Hyypiä
  • Preview: In its first three three Bundesliga matches, Leverkusen jumped out to an impressive 3-0 record with a goal differential of +5.  In other words, they look interesting, but they have a history of being better suited as a bridesmaid in top level European competitions.  They didn’t get out out of the Round of 32 of the Europa League last year, and this year finds them back in Europe’s premier club competition. Glory has always seemed to elude them, as they have been runner-up in the Bundesliga five times and in the Champions League once. Granted, the German League has really ascended in recent years to the top of the European food chain, but Leverkusen remains on my “believe when I see it” ilst.

4)  Real Sociedad

  • How they qualified: Spanish La Liga fourth place, defeated Olympique Lyonnais in playoff round
  • Best finish: Round of 16 (2004)
  • Home stadium: Anoeta / San Sebastián, Spain
  • Mananger: Jagoba Arrasate
  • Preview: As a member of the best league in Europe, Real Sociedad easily dispatched with solid French side  Lyon 4-0 on aggregate in the playoff round. While that performance has some viewing Sociedad as having arrived on the major European stage, but there are still too many questions about the depth of a club that has only been in the top flight of Spanish soccer for the past three years.

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