Mouth-watering. Clash of the Titans. Return of Cristiano Ronaldo. Sir Alex vs. Jose Mourinho.
These were some of the multitude of exclamations that were uttered when the draw for the Knockout Stages of UEFA Champions League 2012/13 was revealed earlier today.
For the standout tie of the round was Manchester United vs. Real Madrid. The two biggest football clubs in the world will do battle in the round of 16 come February and again in March 2013 to secure their passage into the last 8 of the competition. Full draw is as below:
Other tantalizing fixtures include Arsenal taking on Bayern Munich, Barcelona tussling with AC Milan and Juventus getting to battle Celtic. But those pale in comparison to the battle of the big two in club football!
One has to hark back to the 2002/03 season for United & Madrid’s last meeting at the European stage – Madrid running out eventual winners by 6-5. The stakes are much higher this time around. With their La Liga defense looking all but over, what with a 13 point deficit to Barcelona, and talks of Mourinho heading for the Bernabeu exit, the CL remains Madrid’s top priority.
For Sir Alex, another European triumph might only be second on his to-do list after wresting back the EPL crown from City but that doesn’t make it less wanted. Especially after those defeats to Barcelona and their disappointing campaign last season in the CL.
As I said in my post about the group stages’ draw – once gain, Le Jeu Commence!
The 2012-13 domestic football season has started off in earnest across across Europe over the past few weeks and it is just a matter of days before the continental championship kicks off as well. The draw for the group stages of the UEFA Champions League 2012/13 was held earlier today and the best of European clubs found out whom they will be facing come September
Holders Chelsea are grouped alongside Juventus whereas Arsenal have Schalke & Montpellier for company. Manchester United have an easy looking draw with Galatasaray, CFR Cluj & Braga being their opponents; but we all know what happened last season with a similar “easy looking” draw! The toughest group has to be Group D with Real Madrid, Ajax, Borussia Dortmund in there…and yeah, Manchester City round off that group…all four champions of their respective leagues!
The first legs of the round robin matches start on the 18th of September and the group stage will complete on the 5th of December. Le jeu commence.
The 2012 European Football Championships get underway today in Poland & Ukraine with the top sixteen teams in Europe battling it out for getting crowned the continent’s best team. Billed as the third biggest (er…fourth or fifth, if you believe the yoo-yes-yay doubters who say the Superbowl or NBA finals are bigger) global sporting event after the Olympics and the World Cup, the Euro is a coveted tournament for the football-crazy continent.
Of course Spain are the team to beat this year (reigning World Champions and Euro Champions and all that hoo-haa) and Germany & Netherlands are being touted as the next hot favourites. Italy, France and England the outside bets (why do I hear laughter). But is there a surprise on the cards? Can Croatia or Portugal do a ‘Greece’ and emerge champions of Europe?
All will be revealed on July 1st (too bad it will be revealed on Neo Prime/Sports *shudder*)
The draw for the round of 16 matches of the UEFA Champions League 2011-2011 was made earlier today at Nyon.
And know what, there is no Manchester United innit! They are in the draw for the *blegh* Europa League
Pick of the lot? AC Milan Vs. Arsenal. I’d also expect Chelsea to be given a stern test my the Napoli whiz-trio of Hamsik, Cavani & Lavezzi…but it remains to be seen if either or all of them will still be with Napoli come February 😐
The first legs will be played on 14/15 & 21/22 February 2012 with the return legs on 6/7 & 13/14 March 2012
More: UEFA.com | BBC Sport
Red Bull continued their domination at the head of the field as Mark Webber qualified on pole position for the German Grand Prix at Nurburgring. It was back-to-back poles for the Australian after his fastest lap at Silverstone in the last race. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton put behind his practice miseries and wrung around his car to take P2, which pushes Sebastian Vettel to the second row of the grid for the first time this season!
Ferrari took P4 and P5 with Fernando Alonso leading Felipe Massa, ahead of Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg in P6 and Jenson Button in P7. Adrian Sutil was P8 for Force India as Vitaly Petrov in the Renault and Michael Schumacher in the second Mercedes completed the top ten.
Red Bull and Ferrari had been the fastest cars in Friday and Saturday practice sessions as McLaren struggled with downforce throughout. But it was a great drive from Hamilton as he topped the timesheets in Q2 and then was second fastest in Q3. Alonso might have hoped that he will be the best-of-the-rest behind the Red Bulls but he has to be content with a second row start, beside a fast-starting Vettel and behind Hamilton!
Last year’s German Grand Prix (albeit at Hockenheim) was one of the key moments in the season and though Red Bull seem to be running away with both titles this season, another win for Alonso (with the Red Bulls tripping up over themselves & the McLaren 😛 ) would possibly bring back some excitement into the title chase.
The draw for the group stage of the 2010-2011 UEFA Champions League was held earlier today at Monaco and it threw up some really delicious ties for Europe’s top club prize. 32 clubs were split into eight groups of four teams, who’ll play each other home and away between September and December to decide which two teams from each group advance to the first knockout round.
Group A: Tottenham, Inter Milan, Werder Bremen, FC Twente
Group B: Benfica, Lyon, Schalke, Hapoel Tel-Aviv
Group C: Manchester United, Rangers, Valencia, Bursaspor
Group D: Barcelona, Rubin Kazan, FC Copenhagen, Panathinakos
Group E: Bayern Munich, AS Roma, Basel, CFR Cluj
Group F: Chelsea, Marseille, Spartak Moscow, Zilina
Group G: Real Madrid, AC Milan, Ajax, Auxerre
Group H: Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk, Partizan Belgrade, Braga
Champions Inter Milan have newcomers Tottenham, Dutch champions FC Twente and Germany’s Werder Bremen alongside them with last year’s runners up Bayern Munich in Group E alongside AS Roma, Basel & CFR Cluj.
Among the other English teams, Arsenal have potentially the easiest group as they’re bunched with Shakhtar Donetsk, Partizan Belgrade and Braga in group H. Premier League champs Chelsea were drawn alongside Marseille, Spartak Moscow and Zilina. Manchester United will face a tricky tie against SPL Champions Rangers with Valencia and Bursaspor the other teams in group C.
As is the case always, there’s the ubiquitous group of death and it is group G, with Real Madrid, Ajax, AC Milan and Auxerre grouped together innit!
The action kicks off on the 14th of September.
More: Replay of the draw | UEFA Report | BBC Sport Report
The first round of the 2010 FIFA Football World Cup has now ended and something that has never happened in any previous World Cups has happened – both the defending champions *and* the runners-up have crashed out! Holders Italy were beaten 3-2 by Slovakia, perhaps not too undeservedly, as their creaking and aging defence crumbled against the sprightly Slovakian attack. France crashed out of what has been a dismal tournament for them after a 2-1 loss against hosts South Africa. With the home team also not going through to the next round, it has been a pretty disastrous world cup for the holders, runners-up and also the hosts!
England just about scraped through to the next round with a narrow 1-0 win against Slovenia but more dramatic was the USA’s last-gasp winner against Algeria – Landon Donovan tapping home in the 92nd minute to get a 1-0 win and top group C. Germany eked out a 1-0 win against Ghana and though Australia beat Serbia 1-0, earlier results mean that its Germany and Ghana which go through.
Argentina beat a defensive Greece 2-0 and The Netherlands came up 2-1 winners over Cameroon and they are the only teams with 3 wins out of 3 matches and hope to be continuing the good form into the knockout rounds. Japan and South Korea are also though to the next round after impressive results against Denmark and Nigeria respectively. Brazil versus Portugal didn’t turn out to be the classic we all hoped for, perhaps because both were already safe. Spain beat a dogged Chile side in the last match of the round as both progress through to the next round.
All that means that the line-up for the round-of-16 matches looks like this:
Uruguay Vs. Korea
USA Vs. Ghana
England Vs. Germany
Argentina Vs. Mexico
Japan Vs. Paraguay
Netherlands Vs. Slovakia
Brazil Vs. Chile
Spain Vs. Portugal
Some tasty ties in there, right? Its warming up quite nicely…