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Saw the United game, MAXY and I echo your sentiments. 1st half was some very good football by United and I think they deserved at least 2 goals. The midfield options are thin now and as a result you guys had a bit of a bad luck and thats just football. It happens here and there and the great teams just deal with it and correct themselves for the long haul, which United have proven very capable of doing, particularly the past 2 seasons when they started rather slow and then took off with nobody able to hold them off.

Barcelona absolutely HUMILIATED Almeria with goals from Eto'o(3), Henry, and Alvez. The play with Xavi and Iniesta was on point as usual and with the way they distribute, Messi doesn't need to have a great game for them to win. As of now I must say they look the strongest side in La Liga. The offensive firepower they carry is SCARY...Valencia drew today at Recreativo in a match where they deserved more. They dominated possession, and had more, and clearer shots on goal. Recre opted to just sit back in their own half in the 2nd half, hoping to just ride it out on a 1-0 victory before Villa broke through and put Valencia on even terms. Both Eto'o and Villa continue to lead the pack with 9 goals a piece, in 7 games. Two very on form strikers at the moment. As far as the possibility of Barcelona and Valencia deciding the title, I would love that!!!... It would be something else thats for sure.

Juande Ramos just wasn't ready. He made too big a jump too soon. He's a young manager still. He was better off in Sevilla where he could work with a young squad of players that fit the system of play that he wanted to. In the EPL, he came in to Tottenham with high expectations and he didn't even get to complete his prior assignment with Sevilla. Too much too soon. He just cracked under it all. Its a shame because in all honesty, MAXY, he is quite a talented manager. He plays with great style. He made Sevilla an absolute JOY to watch in the 2006/2007 season, where Sevilla played possibly the most attacking football of Spain that season, guiding them to 3rd place and a CL spot. He made too big a jump before he was ready. Hopefully he comes back to Spain and manages a team like Getafe or Villareal. Then maybe after some more experience he can try something as big as he wanted to accomplish with Tottenham.

I've heard similar reports about when Mourinho comes back from Italy, that he'll succeed Ferguson at United. I have to agree that his style of football would really make United boring and uninteresting. United are indeed known for beautiful attacking football, not just sitting back in their own half hoping to get lucky. If Ferguson does indeed leave United after 2-3 more seasons, I would actually like to see him take the reigns of the English national team. I've always thought that he would make a great manager for the English side, just for his ability to motivate alone, while also able to calm at the same time. I hope that after World Cup 2010(Capello said he won't manage beyond that), that Ferguson tries his hand at that.
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Yeh, that Mourinho talk is rubbish! That would be absolutely HORRIBLE for world football if he took over at United. Cannot see it happening. Perhaps Wenger? ha ha, now that would be funny! Or even Rijkaard? Not sure about that one.....either way, Ferguson isn't retiring yet!

Interesting results, go Robinho! I like Redknapp, so good to see him get a club with some cash to splash! He should do well there, doubt they will turn into the next Newcastle who may well and truly go down this season! If he can slowly build them, they have the talent to do well.

Yeh, Barca are carving up, too bad they do it right when I have my cable disconnected!!!! sad.gif

Will catch the second half of the season fully at least.

Since I think Chelsea will win, good to see them bought back closer to Arsenal and United who I would much rather win!

I'm still amazed at how competitive things have become all of a sudden in BOTH La Liga and the EPL. Of course EPL last season was competitive too, but not as much as now.

We have 2 five horse races going on now... Liverpool are in the lead now, winning the big games and showing character that last season they did not show. Chelsea of course are still the strongest looking team at the moment, and you have newly promoted Hull(Who beat Arsenal at Emirates recently), and Arsenal following in close. Aston Villa is bringing up the rear, surprising even me. You have to figure that both Man United and Man City will soon enough factor into this race as well. Portsmouth also looks dangerous.

On the other shores, you have Valencia sitting at the top, with Barcelona RIGHT THERE with them, just behind a point. Real Madrid, despite looking like shit almost every week, still have enough offensive firepower to keep them in 3rd place. Villareal are right there looking good as usual despite drawing with Patetico yesterday in what was one helluva match. Sevilla stumbled a bit yesterday too but are still looking very dangerous and strong. Getafe and Malaga threaten to possibly figure in the top 6 if they can keep some consistency going but we'll have to see.

The Real Madrid organization and its fans are complaining of unfair officiating(Wow.). I can't help but laugh. They got SO LUCKY yesterday against Bilbao, with what looked to me to be some horrible officiating but it was officiating that Real not only benefitted from yesterday, but some officiating that they benefited from back in 2006/2007 in home matches they had against Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla, and Villareal. This is another reason why everybody hates them. They always complain left and right about everything. Schuster recently went on the air and called Villa and Cazorla "unambitious" because they chose to remain with their clubs, and then he went on to say about how the whole world doesn't want them to win La Liga. What a loser.

Also LMAO at Ronaldo, saying that he'll remain a United player next season after Real Madrid "gave up forever" on trying to sign him. I'm not mad at him for remaining at United but had he been more straight forward about things from the beginning, this would all just be small talk.

ARGENTINIAN soccer legend Diego Maradona capped a remarkable comeback from a near-fatal heart attack four years ago by being named coach of the national side today.

Maradona, 48 tomorrow and with no top-level coaching experience, said he hoped to repeat the success of the 1986 World Cup when, as a player, he inspired them virtually singlehandedly to the title.

He will be assisted in that mission of winning the 2010 World Cup in South Africa by another integral member of the 1986 set-up coach Carlos Bilardo, who will be the director of football.

Their respective roles were rubberstamped today at a meeting with Argentinian Football Association president Julio Grondona.

"During the conversation with Grondona and Bilardo it became clear that I was to coach the team," said Maradona, whose international playing career came to an ignominious end when he failed a dope test at the 1994 World Cup finals.

"But I am going to listen to everything Bilardo has to say. He is going to help me as we can't leave someone with the success, experience and knowledge he brings on the sidelines.

"Grondona's ideas are the same as mine and Bilardo's. My job will be to go and watch the players as often as possible.

The idea is to return the squad to the spirit of 1986."

Maradona - who also was part of the Argentinian side that muscled its way into the 1990 final only to have two players sent off as they lost 1-0 to then West Germany - won crucial support last week in his bid to become coach when the man charged with finding Alfio Basile's successor threw his weight behind the World Cup winning skipper.

"I'd like Maradona to be the next coach," said Noray Nakis, the president of the Argentina Football Association (AFA) selection commission.

Basile resigned a fortnight ago after a World Cup qualifying defeat to Chile which left them in third place after 10 matches, seven points adrift of leaders Paraguay.

Maradona faced competition for the job from Carlos Bianchi, the former coach of Boca Juniors, whom he led to four national league titles, San Lorenzo coach Miguel Angel Russo and Sergio Batista who took the Under-23 squad to Olympic gold in Beijing in August.

Thoughts? Anybody else think it's a risk taking an untried coach at this level?
Definitely a mistake. Great players rarely make great managers.

It takes a special talent to be a top level manager. And all great managers have all had to start from the bottom up. Taking on a national team job just like that is not a good idea IMO. Its too big a responsibility and PRESSURE. Almost everyone I talk to expect Argentina to possibly rival Spain in the finals of the World Cup and the talent is there, but I sense a big lack of UNITY within the Argentina squad. I think egos really are out of control there because they are not playing anywhere NEAR the type of football they played in Copa America 2007. Even their gold medal win in this year's Summer games was not that impressive.

Maradona may be the greatest player of all time but that doesn't make him manager material.

Speaking of top managers, whom do you guys respect the most, if not exactly like??...

Alex Ferguson- What he has created at United and kept going is difficult to do. Plays a great style of football and is a legendary motivator. I've always felt that if he took the England job he'd get them to do well, and play with STYLE...

Jose Mourinho- A character for sure, and his style of football is absolutley BORING... But one thing we cannot deny about the man is his ability to win trophies. He's won the Super Liga, Premiership, Champions League, UEFA Cup, and he may win his first Serie A title this year. He's a winner. Gotta give it to him. His ego though will get him into alot of trouble. Should keep his mouth shut sometimes.

Arsene Wenger- Hasn't won anything in a while. LOL... But I love his style of football, and his tact on finding young, unknown talent and turning them into great players. Where he really comes up short is his stubborn refusal to bring in an established class player, having turned down numerous talents. You get the feeling that he needs to win something soon at Arsenal or he's in trouble.

Frank Rijkaard- Not so much the last couple of seasons at Barcelona. But during those 2 glorious seasons, his work with them was incredible. Great young signings, and a system of play that really got the absolute best out of Eto'o, Dinho, Deco, Xavi, etc. Was a bit of a pushover in terms of how he more or less let the players run everything, but he really has to be commended for architecting some of the best football we as fans ever saw in a long time.

Phil Scolari- Legendary at the national team level for his work with Brazil, and trying his hand out in his first European job with Chelsea and so far so good. Love his style of play and no nonsense attitude. He'll definitely win something during his tenure at Chelsea.

I know its too soon to speak, but I have to mention Unai Emery. I am still in absolute amazement as to what exactly he has done with this Valencia team. I just don't recognize them. Sure they're playing some very beautiful football and thrilling crowds. But they're actually WINNING, and in style, to make it even better. In truth guys, Emery has been a highly touted prospect for some time now, for his great work with Ameria, taking them out of the 3rd division all the way to the 1st and getting them into the mid table. Feeling is that he's a future national team coach. I like his cool, calm, and business like demeanor. Word is that he makes the team work VERY HARD and he's shown an incredible ability to get the absolute BEST of these players. All of Villa, Silva, Mata, Miguel, Fernandes, Alexis, and Albiol are all playing better than ever. All I ever asked for was a 3rd or 4th place finish with a nice, decent run in the UEFA Cup, but if this guy actually guides Valencia to a Liga title or a UEFA Cup win(Imagine winning both), then I think he has to be a serious candidate for manager of the year. Love how coaches. He's very involved in the match, hardly sitting down, and he's not up screaming all the time or anything. Very calm and cool and he doesn't appear to get down on the team. Love how he celebrates a goal when the team scores. He's almost like Valencia's 12th man out there. I know thats kind of cliche but thats just what it appears to me. He's really shocked us all in how he's turned around this ship that was thought to be sinking and instead has it riding stronger than anytime in recent years.
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lol, still too early to tell on Emergy. But no doubt he is doing wonderful things at the moment.

Without doubt, for me, it's Alex Ferguson!

Second Arsene Wenger. If he had more money to spend throughout his career and actually spent it, I wonder just how well he could have done........? Definately something very special and his style of football is the best IMHO.

But Ferguson has won too much, for too long, I don't see how anyone can rival him.

Cryufft would have to be up there also, with his dream team and era at Barca!

Maradona, can't see him being any good. He has serious screws loose, but being around the man is sure to inspire his players, just depends how sober he can remain and how he can actually coach. I hope he has some good advisors by his side........

Interesting either way, hope he doesn't take off his shirt and start waving it around his head like he does in the stands...........ha ha ha, actually, I hope he does! If he wins, it might loosen up a few of these other managers!
What a week its been!!...

In England, Arsenal win the game of the week against United at Emirates in what was an awesome display by them. Wenger got his line up and tactics right this time. Nasri was amazing and Fabregas is looking to be getting back to his best ways(What a lovely assist for Nasri's 2nd goal). It wasn't United's best showing, though. It must be said that they looked flat. From the get go I just never saw them get too much into the match. For the majority of it, they didn't look dangerous.

Liverpool has now gone top of the table, and the race for the EPL just keeps heating up, getting hotter and hotter till it will just explode soon enough. Chelsea are right there with Liverpool, and at the moment they've distanced themselves from United and Arsenal. Hull City and Aston Villa are looking dangerous too, hanging around there and not giving an inch.

Barcelona are top of the table and at the moment they are the best team in La Liga. Eto'o is now the Pichichi after scoring 4 goals yesterday in the 1st half in Barca's 6-0 win over Valladolid in what was another amazing display of power. They're really looking so good that its scary at the moment. True it was a lower level team but whats crazy is that Barca are not only scoring, but they're not conceding either.

Valencia stumbled last week in an ugly game against Racing, but bounced right back with a solid 3-0 win on the road against Getafe whom are always dangerous. Goals came from Fernandes, Joaquin, and Vicente, and the defense is looking good, along with great ability to keep possession, play one touch ball, and an amazing ability to hit on quick counterattacks. Emery masterminded that whole match, there. A true tactical genius. He's got the guys having fun out there which is good.

Real Madrid BARELY got by Malaga. They have an amazing offense, so they can score lots of goals, and Higuain is becoming a star before our very eyes and it won't be long before Argentina gives him a full time spot. But aside from the goals, the defense is absolutely ATROCIOUS... They were embarassed by Juventus TWICE prior to this, and they've really been lucky against the likes of Numancia and Almeria. There appears to be problems within the organization too. Lots of bickering, and apparentley Shuster is having a fall out of sorts with Sergio Ramos, and of course benching Raul in favor of Higuain has made some waves within the Madrid community as well as the club. They're having a rough season, and hopefully either of Valencia, Barcelona, or Villareal can take advantage.

Thus far, the table in order is...

Barcelona 25
Villareal 24
Valencia 23
Real Madrid 23
Sevilla 20

Valencia ahead of Madrid based on goal differential. Its shaping up to be a great race, much like the EPL this season as well.

Milan are in 1st place and they won their last UEFA Cup match with Ronaldinho hitting an absolutel SCORCHER for the game winner in stoppage time. With his left foot. Ancelotti seems to have finally found a way to make him and Kaka work well with each other.
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Good to see you still around PR, thought you and Maxy must have stopped watching the beautiful game or something!

Yeh, Barca are FINALLY killing teams and right when I don't get to see much of them! smile.gif Eto'o looks a near certain for the Pichichi.

Higuain always had potential I thought, a pretty good all round striker.

Barca, Madrid and Valencia will sort themselves to the top by the end I feel. Sevilla and Villareal will battle for 4th spot.

Chelsea are on top of England by goal difference, they are banging them in and keeping a tidy defence. Without doubt, the team to stop this year unfortunately. Arsenal V United was terrible in the first half, so many mistakes, so slippery everyone seemed to panick when on the ball! Second half was teriffic! Damn Ronaldo missed a sitter!!!!!! Arsenal had a terrible squad, WTF is Bendtner still doing out there? He is TERRIBLE to say the least! When you have Vela on the bench? I just don't get Wenger sometimes. Nasri though, ON FIRE!!!!!!!

Also unfortunatley, Inter are on top of Italy, not Milan. Milan were held to a draw (again Ronaldinho the scorer) whereas Inter scraped a win. Don't want to see the Mourinho head get any bigger, but the two Milan giants are definately the two to stop in Italy this season.

Good to see Chelsea thumped in Rome. Some of the bigger teams are really struggling which will make for some interesting round of 16 matchups!
Just clicked on the link after seeing the thread title up for a while...HOLY SHIT!!

How did a Mayorga what if thread turn into this football monster?!? laugh.gif
Word is that if Real Madrid lose to Valladolid this weekend, Schuster will be fucking sacked!!... LOL.... The irony of this. Last year we were in Real's exact position and we spent the whole season crying in our drinks. Would laugh so hard to see Madrid endure that but I doubt it will be that bad. In truth Valladolid on their day can be hard for anybody but after last week's 6-0 loss at Barca, there's no reason to think they'll beat Real, whom are in somewhat of a crisis. They're still challenging on all fronts except Copa Del Rey, losing to a 2nd division B team(LOL... WOW)... But there seems to be an underlying issue there. Politics are destroying them from within. Ramos and Schuster are apparentley this season's Rijkaard and Ronaldinho, with rumors of training ground shouting matches, along with Ramos now riding the bench for the last few games prior to last week's match against Malaga where he was sent off for kicking an opponent's chest. On top of that, Van Nistlerooy is out for the season with a knee injury. Things are starting to look grim for what is an insanely talented squad. They're still in the hunt, but you just seem them not performing to their best. Too much talent I think is an issue, and not enough youth is called up to be given the chance to play.

We're all always amazed when these talented squads never play up to their potential. Lets look at Barcelona.

The squad is virtually the same as last year's, being that Deco and Ronaldinho HARDLY featured last season... Seems to me they're playing better because they got their head out of their asses. Of all their new signings only Alves has been playing consistently at a high level, so its the same squad that nearly sent their fans to suicide last season. Barca as of NOW, have scored get this, 28 GOALS..... That is SCARY... 10 weeks into the season. And like Valencia, they've allowed in just 8. I don't know what Guardiola has those players doing on the training ground, but whatever it is, its paying off huge dividends and at the moment, they look UNBEATABLE... Looking at this the way it is, I can't help but feel that if Ronaldinho and Deco had stayed, maybe we'd be looking at the Barcelona of 2005/2006 all over again.

Same with Valencia really, they've done much better because Emery has come in and kicked a few asses in place, and has taken the egos of some of these kiss ass politicians(Albelda and Baraja for instance) and brought them down to earth. This too is the same squad as last season. Nothing's really changed. A few players loaned out but none of them ever really featured anyway. And when you watch them play now, its easy to ask yourself "What happened to them last year?"... I ask myself that all the time. All Valencianistas cried in frustration last year as to how such a talented squad was unable to beat relegation bound teams, and now they're towards the top of the table, defending well, scoring lots of goals, and not only winning, but doing it in STYLE... Still have a hard time believing it.

Barca are on the road against Recreativo this Sunday in what could be a tricky match, but Barca just has so much firepower that they overwhelm everybody. Its just hard when you have to keep all of Eto'o, Messi, Henry, Iniesta, Xavi, Alves, etc. from getting into dangerous positions. Eventually, one of them will get you. Eto'o is the Pichichi so far with 13 goals already and whats really scary is that he's looking very much like the Eto'o of 3 years ago. Not just in terms of his speed and finishing, but he's enjoying an amazing patch of form right now in where whenever you see him touch the ball, he just LOOKS like he's gonna score.

Valencia play Sporting Gijon at home in what will be a special/emotional game for Villa. For those who don't know, Sporting is the club that gave Villa his start in the professional world of football, back when he was just 18 years old. He loves them to death and has openly stated that he dreams of retiring there one day when his contract at Valencia is up. This will mark the first time he plays against them and we all know how difficult these ones are. But Valencia MUST win because next week, the tough run begins when we travel to Sevilla. We need all the points we can get.

Catch you guys later.

and the NEW
Good wrap of the most important teams in the league PR.

Cheers. I haven't been able to see much of any, but I can imagine the Madrid troubles with the defence, read about VNR and heard the Ramos problems!

Barca look along with Chelesa, the team to beat this season in the CL. On absolute FIRE from the highlights I get to catch!!! Amaizing what Pep and Emery have done this season!

On another note, any of you guys seen 'goal' the second movie? It's pretty good and has a few of the stars in it a bit more than last one.
Just got home from the United game today. Wow, what a day. Fantastic! Last night I had two options from different friends. One was to go to the 02 Arena in London to watch David Haye-Monte Barrett, the other to watch United at home play Stoke City. I jumped at the chance to see the United game and unless something magnificent occurs tonight, I'm pretty damn convinced I made the right decision.

Initially I was disappointed to learn that Rooney was out with a chest infection and also that the young kid Rafael was only on the bench. However, I got caught up in the atmosphere right from the off and it was just a truly wonderful day. Ronaldo opened the scoring after only a few minutes with a great free kick, Carrick added a second right at the end of the first half. In the second half we appeared to want it more, want to score more scores and it was noticeable that we definitely up the pace. Some of our play was sublime, a joy to watch. Berbatov added a third and then young Danny Welbeck, the 17 year old academy prospect smashed home a delightful 25 yard thunderbolt into the top corner to mark his debut for the club. Great goal, raised the roof! Ronaldo finished thngs off with his 2nd free kick of the day, curling it around what looked like an 8 man wall!

Also got a glimpse of the African signing Manucho. He had a couple of half chances but my first impression of him was that he looks a little out of his depth at this level. Time will tell. Danny Welbeck definitely looks the brighter prospect and hopefully he'll get more chances in the first team. The one disappointment from the performance today was Carlos Tevez. Tevez played a big role in helping us win the double last season but he just doesn't seem to have found his shooting boots this season. He kept taking one touch too many, or trying to go past one player too many when it would have been more effective to shoot or pass the ball. I hope we do end up signing him, he's a hard worker and a player I do like, but we've already paid 10m for his loan spell and it will cost another 22m to make the deal permanent. 32m just seems to be a bit to expensive.

I'm pretty knackered now but it won't be long until the Haye fight so all the adrenalin can start up again, but no way is anything topping seeing United live for the first time this season. I don't go enough, but then its not always easy to get up there. Moments like today want me to convince the family to move a bit closer to the ground. That's one battle I don't see myself winning!
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Ohhhh, Maxy, that post got the hairs prickling up on the back of my neck! Incredible!!!!!

I went and watched Sydney FC the other day wink.gif ha ha and even that was good!!! I might have to move to Spain or England for a while in a couple years, just to spend a season in the stands! Never made it to Manchester last time I was in England either, so would be good to check it out.

How about Arsenal, fukc me. What is Bendtner still doing out there? He makes Senderos look good as a back!!!!! Vela should really be in the lineup at the moment. Arsenal are STRUGGLING. Denilson is not upto the quality of a world class team either IMO. Amaizing they have 3 strikers (Silva, Adebayor and RVP) and they are all out!

Ibra made the match AGAIN for Inter. God damn someone needs to scalp him off them!

Madrid lost PR, WOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, ha ha. But unfortunately Valencia lost also sad.gif

Looking at the Chelsea stats, god damn, best defence and attack! United are really going to need to do a job on them in the head to heads cause the Chelsea consistency is incredible this season!
I've missed all the matches from Spain and Italy in the last couple of weeks. Just hasn't suited my schedule.

Arsenal beat us last week and then they lost today. Truthfully they are out of the race. We need to get through our next few games and still be in touch because in the latter half of the season we have Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool all to play at home.

If we are there or there abouts we can make an impression, make a real challenge. I think we will, as long as the world club cup thingy in Japan doesn't affect us too much.

ATN, it was a great day. I appreciate it much more because I don't get to go as often as I'd like. Will be going again in January...just not sure yet which game I can make.
Valencia did lose to Sporting at home 3-2. To be honest, we just have to give Sporting credit. They played a GREAT match. They're actually a very good team. Quite underrated and on their night, they can give all hell to any of the big guns. Marchena did a horrible job in defense tonight and failed to control the lines. That was the biggest reason they scored 3 on us. Our midfield and attack was good and was unlucky a couple of times but Sporting's keeper was UNBELIEVABLE.. He saved shots from Mata, Morientes, Fernandes, and Vicente that would have beaten just about any keeper.

Obviously nobody is happy with a loss, close or otherwise. But because I have a bit of a soft spot for Sporting Gijon, I'm not that upset. We usually play better against the top teams anyway and I think we'll get back to good form at Sevilla next week in what will be an important match.

Arsenal I'm not surprised at all to be honest, my friends. They failed to address their needs big time. Flamini has not been replaced, and the defense is just atrocious. Its like they have NOTHING... A club that produces so many youth talents and the lack of depth is absolutely amazing.

Man United are looking like themselves again. Too bad they always start slow. They could be top of the table now.

I hate to say this ATN, but all Valencia fans are praying that you guys have a slip up of sorts against Recre so that you don't just run away early with the title.

Real Madrid will probably get through this crisis soon enough, but I don't think they're winning anything this season. Lack of defense and injuries will destroy them. Not to mention the behind the scenes political issues going on within the club, but whats new with Madrid. That always happens. Even with the Galacticos era.
In the 1st meeting of the big 5 in Spain, Sevilla and Valencia played to a pretty entertaining goalless draw. All of Villa, Fabiano, Mata, Kanoute, and others had some clear shots on goal that were saved by the respective goal keepers Renan and Palop. At first, Sevilla did all the attacking and Valencia on the road, held a good structure and looked dangerous on the counter attacks lead by Joaquin and Villa. In the 2nd half, the game changed totally and Valencia DOMINATED.. There were numerous shots on goal and dangerous looking plays but that final finishing touch lacked. Late in the game, Mata had a couple of golden opportunites to put his side up but he shot wide on one of them, and then Palop made a classic diving one handed save to prevent the other. A bit of controversy as it appeared that Villa was fouled by Maresca in the penalty box and nothing was called but I think a draw was a fair result. Had there been more time, I have a feeling Valencia would have broken through eventually and taken the 3 points but it was still a great match. An amazing display of Spanish football that just lacked the goals. Both keepers and defensive backlines deserve the plaudits.

Barcelona drew against Getafe in a match they didn't have Messi in due to a muscular problem my understanding was. They totally dominated the match but one stupid pass by Marquez, and BOOM, counter attack and Getafe went up 1-0 going into the half. 2nd half was more of the same, Barcelona dominating and throwing everyone in attack. Getafe nearly went up 2-0 with and Manu would have had his 2nd goal had it not been for the crossbar because Valdez was clealry beaten. Late in the game, a still dominant Barca finally broke through with Alvez once again providing a great pass into the area for Keita to head home. Only thing about Barca is Bojan. He just doesn't have the true strength to be a number 9. I think they should have him drop back a bit deeper, similar to how Villa plays for Spain behind Torres slightly, because Bojan is better when he has the ball at his feet to create something but as far as him holding on to the ball, shielding it, and making runs to beat the offsides trap, its just not his game. He doesn't' seem to have that. Maybe you disagree ATN but thats just what it seems like to me whenever he tries to play as a pure striker. Other than that, I thought Barca played well but were a bit unlucky. They're still the best team in La Liga as we speak, though.

Arsenal are now OFFICIALLY out of the title race. Humiliated by Man City 3-0. And it was really much worse than the score indicates. Arsenal are IMPOTENT... Playing some of the most uncreative and unimaginative football I've ever seen them play for as long as I've known about them. No strength in the back, and only Fabregas provides any midfield presence. All their strikers have been either injured or suspended and they're trying to put the load on Theo Walcott and its just too much pressure. He's totally isolated and alone and because there's no help in the midfield, he has to constantly drop back anyway. I can't see them coming back out of this one. The way they are now, I see them finishing in the middle of the table and that will be enough for Arsene Wenger to be sacked in the Summer, and the inevitable Barcelona exit by Cesc Fabregas.

CL week. Man United at Villareal with no Cristiano Ronaldo seemingly. Villareal were just HUMILIATED 3-0 by Valladolid at home, however. Their confidence can't be that high heading into this match.
and the NEW
Yeh, interesting results this week. A heap of goaless draws.

Arsenal are looking terrible hey! No idea WTF was up with the team Wenger put out. He must be senile! Terrible tactical displays from him IMO.

Valencia V Sevilla would have been a true spectactors game! Some great football between the two of them! It is really a 5 horse race in La Liga, with Barca looking standout favourites now.

How bout Ronaldo, said he could fill the top 3 spots himself, ha ha ha. What arrogance if it wasn't taken out of context.

In Italy, Mourinho is getting the job done. Man, I never knew Muntari went to Inter, that is a huge gain for them. They really do have a good squad, with a good coach, they could be one of the best teams to watch in the world. Milan is being kept alive by a 'way past it' Ronaldinho pure and simple. Unexpected? Not really.

Onto the CL games.
and the NEW
Yeh, interesting results this week. A heap of goaless draws.

Arsenal are looking terrible hey! No idea WTF was up with the team Wenger put out. He must be senile! Terrible tactical displays from him IMO.

Valencia V Sevilla would have been a true spectactors game! Some great football between the two of them! It is really a 5 horse race in La Liga, with Barca looking standout favourites now.

How bout Ronaldo, said he could fill the top 3 spots himself, ha ha ha. What arrogance if it wasn't taken out of context.

In Italy, Mourinho is getting the job done. Man, I never knew Muntari went to Inter, that is a huge gain for them. They really do have a good squad, with a good coach, they could be one of the best teams to watch in the world. Milan is being kept alive by a 'way past it' Ronaldinho pure and simple. Unexpected? Not really.

Onto the CL games.
Barcelona looked good winning 5-2 against Lisboa. I only saw the last 15 minutes or so but the highlights showed me that it was a typical dominat performance by Barcelona. The play between the main attacking players is amazing still. The defense had a couple of slip ups it seems but overall, a great performance by a top flight Spanish side.

Valencia looked just as good beating Rosenborg in their UEFA Cup match in the SNOW... Weather was about 10 degrees or something and the star players were rested for this one, and our guys still hammered in 4 goals and kept a clean sheet. Looking good so far.

And the war of words for the El Classico meeting has begun. ATN, I hope you don't miss that one because this one is already shaping up. Casillas is engaged in a war of words with Dani Alves and I keep reading that not only will Camp Nou be sold out completely, but OUTSIDE of the stadium, record numbers of both Barca and Real Madrid fans will be present. I think the match is still 3 weeks away. In the meantime, Barcelona will travel to Sevilla next week, and then come home to welcome Valencia. This is the stretch where we will all get a true understanding of which teams will truly compete for the title. And after that one, the BIG ONE... I hope to God that you guys absolutely SMASH Real Madrid.
and the NEW
Yeh, Barca are definately looking like THE TEAM to beat at the moment. Even Chelsea are slipping up in the CL, but Barca are blasting everyone aside in all competitions!

Definately a tough tough run, Sevilla is always going to be a dangerous game, with their attacking, fast football (we all know the Barca backs struggle with this). Same as Valencia, though at home, I think we should get the job done (sorry PR).

Madrid, yeh, definately important to TRASH them, just to put us even further above them, but this is crunch time definately. Can never tell until week 19 how the table stands really, until every team has played eachother once.

Hope Chelsea don't make it out of their group in the CL, ha ha ha.

Oh and see City are talking of Kaka (doubt they will land him) and Fabiano (I wouldn't be surprised to see them get him). Like Milan, they are filling their roster with Brazilians.

Interesting times.

Really hope Arsenal can pick it up. Wenger needs some signings in this break I think, or Villa are real contenders to take the 4th spot!
Barcelona are without a doubt THE BEST team right now. They'll have their lapses here and there and they won't look like a billion dollars everytime. But their slip ups will be far and between I feel. This is the final home stretch though. In order, they play Sevilla, Valencia, Real Madrid, and Villareal. And its not much different for us. We get a soft touch in Betis this weekend(Though they haven't been playing like a soft touch in recent weeks).. But then after that in order we play Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Villareal. All on the road...That is absoutlely BRUTAL.. I think we receive Atleti at home for one of our final games of the 1st leg of the season, though.

Sevilla vs Barcelona is the game of the week. Everybody in Spanish football will be paying particularly close attention to that one. And Real Madrid have a tough one too. They travel to Getafe and it is not easy to win there. Last season they were humiliated on that ground 3-1 I believe. Valencia and Villareal as we know get to rest in a way, this week but after that, no rest for nobody. I think you guys should beat Sevilla in what will be a very entertaining match. As far as Valencia goes, hard to admit but I just think you guys are a better team. Talent wise, I think Valencia are up to par, but as far as raw firepower in ability to score goals, Barcelona are just ABSURD... And the defense is like a locked vault. And as far as individual skill, only an in form Ronaldinho boasts what Leo Messi has. Messi is not as consistent as the true world class players IMO, being that he looks great for about 4-5 games in a row, and then for the next 4-5 games he looks average. But just talent wise and skill/technique on the ball, I don't think many can boast what Messi has.

Arsenal are done to me, ATN. At least for this season they are. I honestly don't see what type of signings they'll be able to make this January. They need a new CB and a DM... I don't think any world class players will be looking to come to Arsenal now, either. But thats what happens to you when you turn down the opportunity to sign quality players. Up front, Eduardo is still injured, RVP is suspended and still injury prone, and Adebayor is erratic. They don't have that "difference maker" of a striker. They have a bunch of talented, solid, guys that with the right set up can put the ball in the back of the net but they don't have anybody who can score that game winner with the match on the line in a high stakes situation like the CL or the title defining match in the EPL. Defensively they are simply atrocious and have no kind of formation.

I think Arsenal will still look great here and there, particularly against the big guns, but they have no kind of consistency and Gunner fans feel that the players aren't even buying into the system anymore.

City will never get Kaka. Luis Fabiano is a possibility, even though he did recently sign an extension with Sevilla. If Kaka leaves AC Milan, it will either be to the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, or Man United(That is should they decide to ship Ronaldo out).

Barcelona have pretty much established themselves as the main front runner for the title. They absolutely OUTCLASSED Sevilla on the road, 3-0. Amazing display, particularly in the attack. The clean sheet is great but the defense, let alone Valdez hardly had anything to do. Keita, Busquets, and Xavi kept winning balls in the midfield. I must admit that this Barca team is defined more by STEEL than FLASH... They score because you just can't contain the likes of Eto'o, Messi, and even an old Henry forever. But whereas teams always knew they could hit them with quick counter attacks, they're just not getting the chance to do so. Jimenez showed some balls by playing a very attacking formation against Barcelona, but Guardiola got his tactics and line up spot on once again. Little by little, Hleb is starting to fit in, and Bojan was a bit better being that he was lined up a little deeper as a supporting striker. The goals came from Messi(2) and Eto'o and it was just another dominating performance. I think Guardiola has really found that balance that Rijkaard was looking for but seemed unable to get in being a very attacking team yet still being a very organized side that is hard to score on. Eto'o leads the Pichichi race with 14 goals and only Villa is close to him with 12.

Real Madrid got their asses whipped again. I must say. Schuster has been really SHOCKING... Getafe are a team that I expected to trouble Real some and I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I still felt that class would tell. Schuster lines Pepe up as a left back and Ramos in the center to play with Cannavaro and their defense looked like the Bermuda Triangle, all over the place. He also has no clue on how to properly use Sneijder and Van Der Vaart in the centers, lining up VDV as a DM... Give me a break. Getafe from the beginning were just all over them and Real never got out of the defensive that they were put on from the opening whistle. Down 2-1 at half time, they tried to change tactics in the 2nd half and go "Capello style" and keep everyone in defense. Worked for a while but it wasn't too long before they were forced to throw more guys in attack and Getafe was little in hitting them on the counter to close it off 3-1. Guti and Raul were disgraceful, and even Drenthe was horrible. They get Higuain back against Sevilla and they'll need him for sure, RVN out for the rest of the season. I must say that they're in trouble now. They're in 4th place with Sevilla, Getafe, and even Sporting Gijon starting to knock on that door now. This is what happens to Real Madrid when the league becomes competitive again.

Valencia won a wild one against Betis in what was an entertaining match but with some stupid theatrics from both sides, I must say. Valencia scored 1st of course with Villa finishing off what was a great collective play of some neat one touch football. Mata scored Valencia's 2nd goal beating 2 defenders and finishing off with a class left foot shot. Valencia dominated the 1st half rather easily with Fernandes in the midfield and Joaquin and Miguel constantly causing problems on the right side. Villa linked nicely with Mata and Joaquin throughout but you can tell where they miss Silva, as that extra dimension in their attack. In the 2nd half, things changed with a freak injury to Edu, and Marchena getting sent off and Betis evened up. Down a man, Valencia had no choice to but to attack and break them down which they did eventually with Fernandes placing a perfect ball for Baraja to head home. Emery then subbed off Joaquin for Maduro to play as that extra defender in what was a smart choice considering the circumstances and we were able to bring it home.

Up next is Barcelona at Camp Nou in what will be the game of the week between 2 of the teams that are amongst favorites to win La Liga. Its gonna be a tough one for Valencia. I would be happy with a draw in this one. Problem is that the Barcelona that had trouble with Valencia during the Flores years was a Barcelona with a strong attack but fragile back line. This isn't the case here. I'm looking forward to the match. I expect Valencia to look to defend but they won't play like cowards. They havent thus far this season and Emery is risky. He'll go for the win at all costs and I do like that about him. I just hope that in doing so we don't get humiliated. I think it'll be a good one, even though Barcelona is the better squad.

United won the derby against City, seeing the highlights of Rooney scoring the game winner. Arsenal have "put themselves back in the race" is being said but I'm not sold. They're not consistent nor deep enough to truly compete for the EPL this season. Sure a win over Chelsea at the Bridge is always a great but watch Arsenal lose to an average team next time out. I'd be shocked if they really work their way back into true contention this season.
Barcelona look like the best team in world football right now. They're a joy to watch and I can't see anyone stopping them from winning La Liga. They'll also be a major player in the champions league and could, quite possibly, be the eventual winners. Definitely the main team I, as a United fan, fear right now.

We got the result at City, completely outplaying them if I'm honest. Rooney got the goal, Ronaldo got himself sent off....not sure what the hell he was doing with the handball, but thankfully it didn't cost us. Rafael played very well considering he was up against Robinho but the star of the show was definitely Patrice Evra. He's outstanding and for me he's the best left back in world football.

Ronaldo has weighed in with a few goals this season but due to the arrival of Berbatov he is being asked to play more as a conventional winger than he was last season and it's definitely affected his overall contribution to games. Not that I'm worried though because I feel we are performing extremely well as a unit right now. Plus, despite some bad results away from home, it has to be remembered that we have now played the 8 teams who finished directly below us last season - all of them away. As long as the fixture congestion doesn't affect us later in the season (we have that stupid world club championship to play in December which will mean we have to somehow find a place for two league games somewhere) I think we will be in a very good position to challenge for the title again.

In fact, I'm more confident now than I was at the start of the season. Chelsea, under Scolari, are nowhere near as difficult to beat, and Liverpool....well...sorry, but they are not going to win the title.

On current form, isn't Lionel Messi simply the best player in the world right now?
and the NEW
Cheers, thx for the recap boys.

I didn't get to see any of the games!

But Barca are sure killing it finally!!!!! Good to see Chelsea and Madrid struggle!!!! ha ha ha.

Yeh, big match is definately Valencia V Barca, should be a good one! I should get to watch it too.

Don't think Liverpool can win either. Don't have the depth, but good seeing them not relying on Torres so much this season.
and the NEW
Hantaleer just signed my Madrid for 20mil.

Interesting. Another slow poacher!
Yeah we were said to be interested in Klaus during the summer but didn't make a move for him in the end. Simply not good enough.

Wonder what this means for Benzema? Will Madrid make a move for him in the summer? Can they afford to bid for him if they are also still interested in Ronaldo?

Madrid are playing second fiddle to Barca and I don't care who they sign....they will not be champions of Spain or Europe this season. I'm convinced of that.
A signing out of PURE desperation. Pressure is on the club from the fans being that they failed to sign Ronaldo and Villa as Calderon had "promised" to the fans. Huntelaar is an awesome player overall I feel, but he is so not suited for the Spanish league. Huntelaar is a guy that is good inside the penalty box with his headers and bicycle kicks but he doesn't have the all around game to succeed there. He'd have been better suited in the EPL which is more of an open style game, whereas in La Liga, he'll face more zonal and double marking, which won't allow him to shine because its not like he can beat defenders off the dribble or provide any link up play to set himself or his teammates up. Just another Van Nistlerooy.

They'll never get Benzema now. 1st off, Benzema has repeatedly said that he prefers to wait after the World Cup to make his move and the general feeling is that if he is going to go, it will be to BARCELONA and not Real Madrid. Real could outbid Barca for sure, but a few players in recent times have showed that money isn't everything to them. Lets see if Benzema is one of those.

All that aside, Real Madrid's biggest problem are POLITICS... This has been absolutely killing them since the Galacticos era. They've become more of a celebrity club than a football club in recent years, just signing big name players for the sake of them having big names and drawing alot of money. Its all about glitz and glamour with them.

Then you have Raul and Guti, 2 washed up kiss ass politicians who remain in the starting 11 while at clubs like Man United, Barcelona, Chelsea, Valencia, Arsenal, Villareal, Liverpool, and even Man City and Sevilla, they would at best be on the bench.

I can't stand them. I admit it I can't. Now that the Spanish league is actually COMPETITIVE and teams have gotten better, they no longer look so strong. Now that they have to actually compete, they can't do it. Even with Huntelaar with them, it doesn't solve their defensive problems so I don't see how this will work to their favor.

Man United legend Roy Keane has resigned as Sunderland manager after a string of poor results and more importantly, awful performances.

I'm sad for Keane. Above everyone else I wanted him to eventually be the man to replace Sir Alex. I wanted him to be successful at Sunderland, lift them into Europe, win a couple of trophies and slot right back into United in 2 or 3 years time.

It's all a pipe dream now though.

Keane spent a lot of money but his team simply hasn't gelled. He's overpaid for several players and he has a huge squad, many of which simply aren't good enough for the Premier League.

Roy Keane will always be a legend. At his best he is the best midfielder of his type that I have ever seen. As a manager he started well, taking Sunderland from the bottom of the championship to winners in less than a season. Last season in the premier league it was all about staying up and he achieved it with some great results at crucial times. This season it's all gone wrong.

I hope it's not the last we see of him in football.

I was at an amateur boxing show last night so I missed the United-Blackburn game live and had to watch it on MUTV when I got home. Great game. Rafael is going to be a star, Anderson had his best game of the season and Tevez answered his critics with 4 goals. If you get a chance to see the 4th goal it's well worth it. Giggs back heels to Anderson who threads it to Tevez who gives it back to Anderson who squares it for Tevez to stab home! Great goal.

I'm glad Carlos got these goals because his confidence has been very low this season. It gives Ferguson a selection dilemma for the game against Sunderland this weekend and it might also give Berbatov a wake up call that he is not necessarily first choice, despite his hefty price tag.

Things are on the up and up and I'm delighted.
^^^^Well Ferguson has recently backed off the retirement talk so its safe to say that he's not stepping off anytime soon.

As we all know, Ronaldo has won the Balon D'Or award and I must say that he probably deserves it. He performed well enough in the domestic campaign along with the CL. His Euro 2008 campaign was suspect to say the least but he did enough. 2nd place was Lionel Messi I believe, whom despite being an amazing player, I don't think he played enough last year. He started well, got injured, and after that went through streaks of good games, then bad games, and so on and so on. But he'll be a rightful candidate for it next year should he continue his current form. Fernando Torres finished 3rd and he had an amazing season. His Euro 2008 campaign was good if not great. Despite scoring the winning goal in the final, for the most part he too was invisible though I'm sure much had to do with him struggling with a nagging ankle injury, I believe it was. That said, he was still awesome in the domestic campaign and he played well in the CL too. He's struggling with injuries this year and the really sad part is that he is playing extremely well for the few matches he's played in. Hopefully he recovers.

Real Madrid President Ramon Calderon says that "Signing Benzema is impossible". Of course we know that doesnt mean he's giving up but more likely than not has been told that Benzema is staying put. Madrid's striker situation is just ridiculous. They have Higuain, Huntelaar, Raul, Saviola, and Van Nistlerooy(Though he is injured). Unless they plan on letting anybody go, why in the hell do they continue to chase strikers??... They're idiots. They need defenders. That said, Barcelona and Man United are also keeping an eye on the player.

Big game this Saturday, Barcelona vs Valencia at Camp Nou. Would absolutely have LOVED to see this one live. Barca should win it, but if Valencia defend as well as they've shown they can this year, it could go down to the wire.
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Yeh, should be a fantastic game! Think Barca should edge it at home. 2-1.

Ronaldo deserved the award and will win the FIFA World Player also IMO. If Barca can win La Liga and the CL, I think it's safe to say, Messi will take it next year.

Kaka shouldn't really be mentioned too much anymore, as Ronaldinho is outperforming him for Milan these days.

I really think Ibra should start to be mentioned for it also. He has won numerous Serie As and I only just heard someone the other day mention him as a likely winner next year.

Really depends on who can win the CL it appears as of late and the WC the following season. Ronaldinho (CL), Cannavaro (WC), Kaka (CL), Ronaldo (CL). etc etc

Madrid no doubt made the signing to replace VNR for the remainder of the season.

Too bad about Keane, wonder if the reports are true and he is loosing it a bit. Odd he just walks out on them midseason. Considering he has only recently started coming under criticism and has been allowed to make some pretty good signings. Sunderland still have the potential there.

Premier League is very close now. Good to see United back in contention, hope they can win it again! Arsenal don't look like a chance anymore, no consistency.

Barca look firm favourites in La Liga and Inter are floating to the top in Serie A.

Interesting to see Porto slipping down in Portugal. Who did they loose for this season? Queresma, Bosingwa?
No excuses... Barcelona are simply put......THE BETTER TEAM... Too strong, too powerful in attack, and scariest of all, LOCKED TIGHT at the back. And at Camp Nou, its gonna be a tall order to beat them.

Xavi was amazing as usual, Alves was a threat the whole time and helped Marquez alot in keeping Villa in check. Yaya helped anchor the defense, and Hleb played a very good game. Messi was dangerous but his finishing was AWFUL... He had the chance to extend the score two times with clear shots on goal and couldn't finish, though credit must be given to Renan for a great save on one of those attempts. Henry had a had trick, but the 3 goals he scored had more to do with his teammates than anything he did himself. Nonetheless, he deserves plaudits.

Great performance. I think this puts the official stamp on Barcelona as La Liga champions. You guys dominated a good team.
and the NEW
Yeh, agreed PR.

But it was at Camp Nou, the domination would be a very different story at your home.

I feel sorry for anyone who draws Barca in the second round of the CL though! We are a very tough proposition!
City have been linked with a 52m bid for David Villa and apparently, according to reports over here, Valencia may be forced to accept it due to their financial crisis. Thing is, surely a player of Villa's quality wouldn't want a move to a club like that? Maybe they'll be in a position to challenge for honours in a couple of years, with the right signings, but going out and buying world class stars now doesn't seem likely....unless players simply crave the big money. I hope not.

Finally managed to get the winner yesterday at home to Sunderland. They were solid, playing 10 men behind the ball for 95% of the match and proved difficult to break down but it was a victory for football because the side that wanted to win, ultimately did win. Loving the potential shown from Rafael. He's going to be a star in a couple of seasons. Was disgusted by Ronaldo walking off when injured and not even waiting for the substitution to be made. He is becoming more and more petulant everytime I see him. He seems to think he is above the law, above his team mates and above the refs. Totally lack of respect from him. I hope we cash in. I've tried to forget the summer, tried to accept him again but I can't do it. I love my club and he just leaves a bitter feeling in my mouth every game he plays because of his appalling attitude.

I'm glad we are avoiding Barcelona in the 2nd round. They are the worlds form team at the minute and look a certainty to reach the Champions League final. We haven't hit our peak yet and the fixtures are piling up at an alarming rate. Two-legged semi final in the carling cup against Derby next month. I hope our squad is big enough to cope because it will be our undoing if its not. Evra will now serve a 5 game ban, Rooney is banned for 1 game (not sure when that starts), and Ronaldo is apparently injured. Fabio, Rafael's brother and supposedly the better player, is training again after injury and if he's as good as I've heard then he could get a chance in Evra's position at some point. Probably not though.
and the NEW
60mil offer for Villa boys.


Will be a HUGE loss to both Valencia and La Liga, he is nearly up there with Eto'o for the award, but City look to be pushing hard, and sadly, Valencia look to be in a spot of bother financially.

I will def look to add him to my fantasy team should he come! ha ha.

Thoughts PR?
Juande Ramos is the new Real Madrid coach?!!

He's on a 6 month contract...why? I mean he absolutely flopped in England with Spurs and I know he knows Spanish football better than English but is this a good appointment? I really hope Barcelona smash 5 or 6 past them. Madrid look crap this season and Sergio Ramos is a bloody joke of a player. He was awful the other night. The whole team just look clueless to me.

Maybe, just maybe, they will finish outside the top 4. I hope they do so much. It would crack me up.
Anything is possible for sure, but I can't honestly say that I've heard anything CONCRETE on the possible exit of Villa. At least not yet. I mean I wouldn't be surprised if an offer was made, but Valencia recently did get 40 million euros to help pay off the debt so we'll just have to see. Anything possible so we'll just have to see.

Schuster is SACKED!!!... ROTFLMAO!!!... I don't think Juande Ramos is the man to turn them around. He'll make them more entertaining to watch play but thats it.

Barcelona will absolutely HAMMER Real Madrid. I have no doubt about that outcome. I would LOVE to see just what Cannavaro and Marcelo are going to do with Messi and Eto'o running at them. LOL!!!!!.... MAXY is right about Ramos. At least for this season. He's been absolutely HORRID. I actually like Ramos as a player but he's been horrible. And lets not forget about Heinze. The only good defender is Pepe but he has no help. Too bad for them.

I think Real will end up finishing top 4 but if they don't I will laugh hysterically. Imagine Real Madrid in the UEFA Cup. LOL.... Just the thought cracks me up.
and the NEW
QUOTE(PR316 @ Dec 9 2008, 11:16 PM) [snapback]415497[/snapback]
I think Real will end up finishing top 4 but if they don't I will laugh hysterically. Imagine Real Madrid in the UEFA Cup. LOL.... Just the thought cracks me up.


I wouldn't be surprised with how things are currently looking. Atletico, Valencia, Villareal and Sevilla could all take any of the other 3 places! Barca looks a guarantee at the moment for one of the top 4 places. But for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th places, I think it will be a real, hard battle!
Well Barcelona took care of business at Camp Nou and beat Real Madrid 2-0. Good riddance to those corrupt bastards!.. Real did their usual thing when they play Barcelona and that is play cowardly football. They sat back with 10 men in the box, kicked Messi around the park, tried to injure Eto'o, and hoped to get a goal by a fluke, lucky deflection or something. Guti and Raul have to be the dirtiest players in La Liga, I swear. Cheating bastards. A real disgrace for a club that is supposed to represent Spanish football. Eto'o didn't have his best game but he scored the game winner, and Messi iced the cake in stoppage time.

Valencia had to come from behind to beat Espanyol but it was a good solid performance at home, in a game they dominated and dictated throughout. Espanyol got a lucky goal off a deflected shot, but Valencia stormed back in the 2nd half with goals from Albiol and Vicente. This game featured the return of Silva who came off the bench and made an immediate difference, linking play with Villa, Mata, Vicente, Morients, Miguel, and Fernandes. Hopefully we can go to Bernabeau and hand Real its 4th consecutive loss I think if it happens. Either way, we're still ahead of Madrid no matter what happens now.
and the NEW
Yeh, Barca are in KILLER form! Easy top now, with Valencia and Sevilla fighting for 2nd place! I would be surprised to see Barca slip up from here, I think they will run away with it now, much as Inter appear to be doing over in Italy once more.

England is TOUGH this season. With really the big 4, PLUS Aston Villa still in the race!

Anybody know when the CL draw is for the round of 16? There is going to be a couple of very tough games, with Arsenal, Chelsea and Inter all as 2nd placers! One may well infact draw Barca, which would suck and be a tough one for Barca either way!

Barca should win La Liga. I expect them to go through some rough patch of form, as is the norm in football. And maybe one of Valencia, Sevilla, or Villareal may threaten but either way, there is just too much talent and class on that squad for them to NOT win the title this year. They're just TOO STRONG... They could easily pull a treble this season. Thats how good they are. Forget the fact that Eto'o is the Pichichi. Go ahead and forget that Messi is playing the best football of his life so far. The 2 main reasons this team is winning in the dominant fashion they are is because of the defense and Guardiola. The defense for protecting Valdez and making him look world class, and Guardiola of course, for seemingly getting these players to wake up and smell the coffee because like we said recently, this squad is not that much different than the one Rijkaard had last season. He has this team playing like they should be playing and thats why they're so dominant.

I think Barcelona would actually CELEBRATE if they draw Arsenal. The teams they want to avoid right now are Mourinho's ultra defensive Inter, the in form Man United, or the powerhouse Chelsea whom is very suited to Europe. Not that Barcelona couldn't beat any of them. But if there is a preference, it would be Arsenal no doubt. Barca would just absolutely HAMMER them now. Arsenal have the attack threat, but no defense and no kind of depth to their squad, and thats what happens when you have nothing but kids on the team. I think the CL draw will occur a little after the last group game. Not sure exactly when.

I think Arsenal are out of the race in England. Its only get rougher and rougher for them as the season starts to take its toll and the injuries start to come around more. Plus there's some internal dissent with Gallas clashing with Wenger and all that stuff, plus the pressure on Wenger from the higher ups to make BIG SIGNINGS and Wenger refusing. I just get the feeling the players aren't buying into the Wenger football anymore. Liverpool, Chelsea, and Man United are fighting for the top 3 and I expect it to remain like that for the remainder of the season. Any of those clubs could win it. Liverpool doing awfully well considering the injuries they've had to deal with. Chelsea are in their rough patch of form at the moment. Its a question of how long it will last because they're not looking like the threat they were earlier this season. Villa and Arsenal will battle for the 4th spot but be careful because Hull City and Everton are pretty dangerous this season and Hull City has already beaten Arsenal at the Emirates.
Looks like Real Madrid are at it again, messing around with Man United and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Expect lots of these to come out. This saga will never end until Ronaldo leaves United for those corrupt crooks.
This thread should be titled something different.
Champions League last 16 draw:

Chelsea v Juventus
Villarreal v Panathinaikos
Sporting Lisbon v Bayern Munich
Atletico Madrid v Porto
Lyon v Barcelona
Real Madrid v Liverpool
Arsenal v Roma
Inter Milan v Manchester United

I can't say I'm delighted with our draw. Mourinho always does well against Ferguson so it's going to be very tough for us to get through. I'm not overly confident but hopefully by the time the games come around we have hit a bit more form in front of goal. At the moment we create loads and score very little. That will need to change if we are to progress.

Madrid-Liverpool is a kick in the teeth for me. I had hoped to see them both go out. Oh well. Will be interesting to see who goes through between Chelsea and Juventus, especially seeing as Ranieri will be going back to Stamford Bridge for the first time (I think) since being sacked by Chelsea.

Arsenal should be too good for Roma, Villarreal will beat Panathinaikos, Bayern Munich will edge Sporting Lisbon and Atletico Madrid are surely too strong for Porto. Barcelona are in the quarters if you ask me. Definitely. They will be far too strong for a good Lyon side and I expect them to win a fairly high scoring two-legged tie.

Was funny seeing the reports from Madrid claiming they had a deal in place to sign Ronaldo, only for Ferguson to say "Do you think I'd sell him to that mob? I wouldn't even sell them a virus!" Fergie has dug his heels in, he is angry with Madrid and because of that I can't see them getting Ronaldo unless either the player himself asks outright for a transfer, or Ferguson decides to cash in.

I hope the whole circus doesn't start over again this summer though I expect it will. Like I said before, Ronaldo is a very good player but a shit bloke. Wouldn't care if he went, as long as we used the money well to sign a couple of world class replacements. I'll never forgive Ronaldo for last summer.
^^^I agree with you MAXY... You guys are MANCHESTER UNITED... Your history does not end with Ronaldo . You guys PRODUCE stars unlike Madrid who STEAL stars and surely if Ronaldo was to go to Madrid, you guys would produce another "crack". I think within 2-3 years, Ronaldo will indeed end up leaving and by then, I'm sure you guys will have made some big move to counter or have another guy developed for the role.

As far as the draw goes, here's what I think...

Man United vs Inter

Wow that is a tough one for United. I like the idea of a Ferguson-Mourinho reunion but if I was a United fan, this is not the one I wanted thats for sure. Anything is possible. But I'm gonna go ahead and say that Inter edges it(Sorry MAXY)... I expect a very tactical affair here in both legs with a score of 2-1 or something. Don't get me wrong, I'll be rooting for United like crazy in this one. But Mourinho always does do well against Ferguson as you pointed out, MAXY.

Barcelona vs Lyon

Good matchup for Barca who should win convincingly. Expect alot of goals in this one. But they'll mostly come from Barcelona against a Lyon side that has shown some slip ups as of late in their domestic campaign. I like Barca here.

Liverpool vs Real Madrid

LOL... What a joke. Goodbye Madrid. They have absolutely no chance in this one. Expect Liverpool to handily beat them.

Arsenal vs Roma

Roma are a spoiler type team who can upset an inconsistent Arsenal. This will be a big test for them. I'm gonna say Roma pulls the upset here on a very thin Arsenal.

Chelsea vs Juventus

I like Chelsea here. Juventus at the moment are the only team within ear shot of catching Inter Milan. And it will be interesting to see how Ranieri is received here.

I like Villareal over Panathinaikos, Patetico Madrid should beat Porto in a high scoring affair, and Bayern should beat Sporting Lisbon.

It should be a good one this year. I will laugh hysterically when Madrid gets eliminated.
I agree with most of your picks PR apart from Arsenal and I'm undecided about Liverpool-Madrid. I feel Arsenal will have enough to beat Roma whom I personally don't rate very highly. Arsenal, on their day, are still a good side, as proven with their wins over United and Chelsea this season.

I know the Inter game will be very tough for us but I just feel having home advantage in the 2nd leg could be decisive in our favour. That will of course depend on the form of our players, most importantly our strikers. Berbatov hasn't set the world alight so far this season and I am becoming more and more frustrated with him. If he hits the form he did whilst at Tottenham he can be a lethal weapon for us but we will also need Rooney to be on form going into that game. Defensively Inter will be excellent as most Italian teams are and doubly so with the ultra cautious Mourinho at the helm. He knows United well and that will give him a slight advantage, plus his record against Ferguson is nothing short of excellent. It's a long way off but I just think if we are at full strength and are playing to our best, we will beat Inter over the two legs...even if its on away goals.

Liverpool and Madrid are both huge names in football but neither of them strike fear into me. Liverpool have dipped in form without the injured Torres although I admit they are probably, in the current climate, slight favourites over the Spanish mafia.

At this early stage I still tip Barcelona to eventually win the tournament, but of course, injuries and suspensions will play a part, as is always.

Oh btw, has anybody been following the world club cup games over in Japan?
and the NEW
Very interesting draw hey!

United for me over Inter any day of the week. Mancini and Queresma have been disappointing for me lately. Shut down Ibra and you have Inter locked. Though, their wingbacks are very good at creating space. Ferdinand or Vidic on Ibra and you have Inter in the bag. Can't see them upsetting United over two legs.

Barca has already shown lately what ease they can go through Lyon, and they are better now than then. Should be a quick fire destruction!
Lyons only chance is to do an Italian job on them!

Liverpool will be too much for a STRUGGLING Madrid.

Arsenal over Roma for sure.

The one I think could be an upset, is Chelsea V Juve. Juve have a way of winning despite not looking spectacular. I would still pick Chelsea, but would not be surprised to see Juve find a way to pull it out.

Villareal match is a terrible one. Don't even care who wins this one, but I would imagine Villa will come through with the goods, more technical quality with a fully fit squad.

I'm surprised you both say Porto should loose to Atletico. I think these sides are VERY evenly matched in every single aspect. This one should go down to the wire, a complete 50/50 for me.

Maxy, haven't been following the club world cup but will watch the final. It's a joke of a competition, with the South American team always trying to just play on the counter in the final. Though last year at least the Argentinians tried to put it on Milan.
and the NEW
Actually, maybe I'm giving the old Porto too much credit and Atletico are in some of their best form. Since loosing Bosingwa and Queresma, they are definately lacking. Will go with Atletico also.

PR, sorry to see Valencia loose to the Madridistas! Close game from the looks of the highlights. Have to say though, great strike by Higuin.

Maxy, well deserved win for United, in an ok match, but well done with only 10 men. Ronaldo had some great moves early, but was not really seen later on, except for the assist. Rooney was player of the match for me, killing them with his runs off the ball and a great strike! Anderson did some good work in midfield too, showing his usual steel. Van Der Sar had some great saves, what a legend he is!

How about that Munso guy, he is a cracker of a player. Will be signed up in Europe for sure after that and at a much higher level than when he was last playing there. Great technical ability, quick, good shot, good passer. A real general.

Oh and I forgot, Munich over Sporting, way too much firepower. Klose, Toni and Ribery, if all 3 remain fit, with Podolski coming off the bench to add some spark, could really do some damage!
All I'm gonna say is that Real Madrid are the luckiest team in all of Europe. Not taking anything away from Higuain's strike, but Valencia had more shots on goal, and some shocking finishing to go with it, not to mention the biased referee. Whatever, Christmas break coming up and hopefully our team gets the much needed rest it needs. At least we're in 4th place which goes with our aim to get a CL spot this season.

Ronaldo isn't as big a threat on goal this season because he's not playing so much in that supporting striker role, more in the traditional right wing position. Doesn't mean he isn't a great player. But not as big a threat to score every time now. That said, United are still in it because they're grinding out their results. The attack is not quite there yet but its question of how long it'll take them to really get it going like last season when they were damn near unbeatable.

AC Milan falling starting to fall out of the race it seems in Italy. From what I see, they can score goals but they're conceding alot too. That'll hinder them for sure if it continues.

Barcelona have launched a 35 million euros offer for to Valencia for Villa... LOL... Damn.

Could anybody imagine that??... Barcelona arming themselves with the two top goal scorers at the moment not just in Spain but in ALL OF EUROPE???... As if they weren't powerful enough already.

ATN, if this occured, would this mean Thierry Henry to the bench???....
and the NEW
Yeh PR, I must say, this is impressive! Good to see Barcelona on their way back to claiming the most powerful team in Europe and the world!

I have no idea where they would play him, Henry still plays more towards the left from what I have seen, so they may have to reshape the entire formation. Will be interesting to see if they get him. But this would likely take out any chance of Man City getting him. His become one of the most targeted players in the world at the moment, and for good reason! Eto'o and Villa upfront, ha ha, I'll take that! Villa would be a nice support striker to Eto'o, who is probably not as skilled as Villa, but more direct.

Will be DEVESTATING to Valencia though. Villa is the centre piece of their team, at least that is what I observe when I watch them play. Though Silva looks to be coming out as a prominant player a bit more.

Fabregas out injured for Arsenal, right before their Villa match and for another 4 months I believe! HUGE!!!! HUGE!!!! Arsenal are in REAL trouble now! sad.gif
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