Category Archives: The Champions League

Something needs to be done to the Europa League

The Europa League has become the forgotten competition in Europe.

By Ryan Fleming

A few colleagues and myself have been talking about the recent European match that took place late Wednesday afternoon. To the surprise of most of us it was the Europa League Final. I was aware, obviously, but many who follow the sport really had no idea. What was surprising to us was how little UEFA put into letting fans know that FC Braga and FC Porto were playing something all-together much more important than just another European match.

In respect to both Braga and Porto, perhaps the lack of interest in the Final could be the teams that were playing. Again, respect has to be given to both of the teams and Porto especially for winning the Europa Cup, 1-0, but much of the world outside Portugal probably did not care all that much about the match. This, in itself is an issue. And UEFA is squarely to blame.

I don’t don myself a problem-solver or an architect in making things better. But alas, I have proposed some changes to make this all-important game something of importance in even the most casual of fans.

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Arsenal and Tottenham share struggles in North London

By Ryan Fleming

Obviously it isn’t true. Each team wants to win each game, be the best in its division and play in Europe next season. It’s pretty simple. What’s also just as easy, is watching Tottenham and Arsenal and how they both seemingly don’t want to do well. Of course, both of the North London clubs have aspirations to succeed and it has shown earlier this year (ie: Totts’ run in the Champions League and Arsenal’s impressive Dec/Jan run).

As of late, though, acting like their in cahoots, both clubs are playing down to to their competition, refusing to be the bullies, and instead getting picked on themselves. Arsenal’s downfall is basically lack of experience and, at least in my eyes, a definite lack of motivation and emotion. In the Gunners’ case, at least their manager owed up to the club’s seemingly two-month downfall.

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Poor showing in Madrid leaves Champions League strategy in shambles for Spurs

By Michael King

Effectively, Tottenham’s Champions League hopes have ended; for both this year and next. The Spurs gambled on making a deep run in the competition would out-weigh failure to qualify for next year’s tournament via a Top 4 English Premier League finish.

And now they have little to show for it.

It’s perhaps unfair to argue this position with the ability of hindsight in light of Tuesday’s dreadful performance against Real Madrid. The 4-0 loss in Spain during the first quarterfinal leg puts the London team in an insurmountable hole. Overcoming a four-goal deficit on aggregate is beyond the capability of this team, especially given its most recent performances.

This was not the same Tottenham team that twice appeared the better side against Inter Milan in the CL group stages and defeated AC Milan last month in Italy.

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Champions League succes take center stage for Tottenham

Harry Redknapp has Tottenham challenging for its first European Cup since the Spur's won the 1984 UEFA Cup. Tottenham advanced in the Champions League after beating Serie A side AC Milan. (Courtesy Wikicommons)

By Ryan Fleming

If you’re an Arsenal fan you have to grimace, knowing all in well that the team you utterly despise more than all, Tottenham, has advanced farther than you in the Champions League. Not only do you have to be sadden, even frustrated, you have to be utterly embarrassed.

It might be a strong word to use, but for a team that wasn’t supposed to advance past the qualifying stages in the first place, to move to the next round while you sit at home has to be rather, well, embarrassing. Sure, you can point to the absolute fact that you had to face a harder opponent and one that is up for the “World’s Best Club Team Ever” award. But in Spurs’ perspective, you didn’t and they did.

Much of the plaudits have to be toward Peter Crouch (despite his silly play that certainly cost Spurs a goal on Wednesday). Crouch, like every team knows, when on the field is the focus of attention, yes, even more so than the spiky-haired Gareth Bale. The lanky, often seemingly unathetlic-looking forward, scored the lone Tottenham goal that saw them off to the next round. One goal you say? Where’s the credit for the Spurs defense? I was getting to that.

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Arshavin and Arsenal stun Barcelona at the Emirates in round one

Arsenal shocked Barcelona at the Emirates stadium (Arsneal's home) with a late winner from Andrei Arshavin. The win was the first for Arsenal over Barcelona. (Courtesy Wikicommons)

By Jonathan Gold

This, ladies and gentlemen, was a triumph. This was a season-definer, one of Arsenal’s biggest wins in years. A comeback victory over probably the greatest professional soccer team ever assembled. It was truly astonishing.

And yet, it was also a demonstration that Arsenal really is its own worst enemy.

It looked to be going precisely how I and everyone else in the sane world predicted when David Villa took advantage of a mistake by Clichy to beat the offside trap and finish with his usual precision before the half-hour mark. I’d been mildly encouraged by the early pressure from Arsenal, but I’ve seen them flounder time and again after getting my hopes up in big games. All too often, the Gunners come out blazing and fade down the stretch.

This close to the game, I’m not able to describe the tactics used to you with any sort of precision, because my brain is not functioning correctly. But soccer’s collective punditry has apparently decided that Wenger’s genius had a lot to do with the team’s unbelievable fightback against what still must be described as superior opposition.

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Gareth Bale, A World Class Talent, Keeps Getting Better

Since Harry Redknapp's appointment as manager of Tottenham, he has used Bale on the left wing of the Spurs line up and the Welsh international wreacked havoc on defenses in his wake. (Courtesy Simon Kendrick)

By Ryan Fleming

Three years ago I was searching for a reason to get into soccer. I was searching for something not so obvious, a player or a team hidden to the large majority that I could learn and eventually follow them like they were my own.

For one reason or another I came across Gareth Bale.

The short, but speedy Welshman appealed to me, pulling me toward the way he plays like a magnet. When then-Tottenham manager, Juande Ramos, basically benched Bale for his short campaign in the ‘08/’09 season (yes, the one Spurs started off with no wins in the club’s opening eight league games). The North London club proved ineffective and most plainly stated, boring. The lack of playing time for Bale helped lead to Ramos’s demise.

Ramos got the ax and in came a new life for Bale, a chance not just for the EPL to see what he can do, but for the entire world.

Harry Redknapp took the Spurs post on Oct. 26, 2008 – a date that should be stapled in the back of Bale’s mind. Though his resurgence didn’t begin as soon as Redknapp took the helm of Tottenham, Bale fought his way into Spurs’ UEFA Cup campaign and manged to earn himself 17 other starts for the club.

The ‘09/’10 season was the ladder-that-put-Bale-over-the-wall-season. It didn’t start off as that, though.

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Champions League Still Probable for Spurs

Tottenham midfielder Gareth Bale a pair against Stoke on Saturday, but many believe his performance on Wednesday against Young Boys will decide a lot in his young career. (Photo Courtesy TottenhamFan)

By Ryan Fleming

The English soccer world was up in arms one week ago over one of their most exciting, young clubs, Tottenham. But, for no good reason.

In its first European Cup appearance since 1962, the Spurs were upset, 3-2, by Swiss side Young Boys in the first leg of their Champions League Playoff. However, a pair of second half goals to shorten a three-goal deficit gave Spurs some confidence going into their second leg Wednesday at White Hart Lane.

The frenzy that the English tabloids have themselves caught in is utterly ridiculous.

Tottenham, thanks to the likes of striker Roman Pavlyuchenko, find themselves in a awkward, yet positive position despite coming back to England with a loss.
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Please, No More Excuses, Mr. Redknapp

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, seen here celebrating with players and fans after winning the 2008 FA Cup with Portsmouth, was unhappy after Spurs fell to Young Boys, 3-2, in the first leg of their Champions League qualification tie on Tuesday. (Photo Courtesy Sir Pix-A-Lot)

By Joe Meloni

When they were done laughing about it, many English soccer fans whose allegiances lie outside of White Hart Lane wondered if any top-flight English sides had suffered defeats as “humiliating” and “embarrassing” as Tottenham’s 3-2 loss to Swiss club Young Boys in the first leg of the final UEFA Champions League qualifying round.

Yes, Spurs fell 3-2 to the squad from Bern, and the adjectives quoted above were just some of the barbs tossed toward Totts following the defeat. To answer the question, there was one defeat I could come up with off-hand that seems far worse than losing to perfectly fine mid-level squad. In 1988 University College Dublin AFC qualified for the European Cup Winners Cup and pulled a scoreless draw with English side Everton in the first leg of the tournament’s opening round. While the Toffees didn’t fall to UCD, it’s seems like the more improbable result than Young Boys beating Spurs on Tuesday. Continue reading

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The Mighty Mourinho

By Kevin Koczwara

Jose Mourinho’s teams win. That’s just what they do. You can’t say they are always the most entertaining side, or the best team on the field. But they score timely goals, come together in tough matches, and win. It’s that simple.

Mourinho won every trophy he could when he was in charge of FC Porto in Portugal, including the UEFA Champions League. He was introduced to the world during Porto’s amazing run through Europe. Mourinho’s men held off the marauding Manchester United and went on to win the trophy in 2004.

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Inter Claim Europe and Secure Historic Treble

By Mark Duckworth of The National Game

Inter Milan may have won the Champions League on Saturday night, but as Jose Mourinho led his Inter side around the Santiago Bernabeu for a lap of celebration, you got the feeling that it wouldn’t be long until Mourinho is back, but not with Inter Milan.

Mourinho may have just won Inter, their first treble, but I feel that still won’t be enough for Inter to keep the Special One, and with Mourinho’s love hate relationship in Italy, it looks like this is another marriage that will end in tears.

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