Round 5 of the Champions League!

This week had another eventful round of the Champions League Group Stage. In the 5th round of the group stages, 5 more seats were grabbed at the knockout stage table. Shakhtar, Chelsea, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, and Bayer Leverkusen have all qualified. They are joining PSG, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Dortmund, Barcelona, and Porto. There are still 5 more seats and on December 9th and 10th, we will find out who those 5 teams are.

Only three days after setting the all time Spanish La Liga scoring record, Messi set another record. He not only passed Raul, he scored 3 goals to put his Champions League total at 74. He led the line for Barca as they won 4-0 over APOEL. Another big point in the match was Luis Suarez opening his Barcelona account. The goal was a flashback to Suarez in a Liverpool shirt. The other game in their group had PSG defeat Ajax 3-1 behind two goals from Cavani sandwiched around a Zlatan Ibrahimovic goal.

The English took it to the Germans. There were 3 matches featuring EPL teams and Bundesliga teams. In all three matches the English side won. Chelsea dominated their former coach Roberto Di Matteo and Schalke 5-0. Chelsea has now qualified and won their group. Schalke will also qualify with some help from Chelsea, as Sporting CP have 2 more points than Schalke following their 3-1 victory over Maribor. Arsenal defeated Borussia Dortmund 2-0 to give Arsenal a seat in the round of 16. Anderlecht qualified for the Europa League with their 2-0 victory of Galatasaray. Lastly, Manchester City hosted Bayber Munich. City took an early 1-0 lead behind Aguero from the spot. Benatia was sent off and Munich were faced with playing 70 minutes with 10 men. Munich, however, took control of the game and Alonso equalized from a free kick before Lewandowski gave Munich a 2-1 lead right before halftime. City made their numerical advantage count, as Aguero equalized on the break. In stoppage time, it was Aguero again who got a shot off and won the game for City. They now have hope of advancing to the round of 16, thanks to Roma and CSKA Moscow drawing 1-1 in Moscow when CSKA equalized in the 93 minute to prevent Roma from qualifiying for the next round. Roma and Manchester City will now face off for the last spot in group, unless CSKA can pull off the upset in Munich.

Elsewhere in Champions League, Real Madrid defeated Basel 1-0, giving them 15 consecutive wins. They are a force right now and look like the best team in the world. That loss for Basel, coupled with Liverpool’s 2-2 draw, means that they will meet in Anfield for a place in the last 16. Basel will only need a draw or a victory, while Liverpool will need to win to qualify. Juventus won 2-0 to set themselves up with a chance of qualifying with just one more point needed. Atletico Madrid beat Olympiacos 4-0 to qualify for the Round of 16. Despite losing 1-0 to Monaco, Bayer Leverkusen still qualified. Zenit kept their hopes alive with a 1-0 victory over Benfica. Porto beat BATE Borisov 3-0 and Athletic Club beat Shakhtar 1-0.

Looking forward to this weekend, Spain is the country to watch this weekend, as again 4 of the top 6 face off this weekend. Real Madrid looks to extend its win streak to 16, as they travel to the south coast to face Malaga on Saturday. Barcelona travel to Valencia this weekend to play. Suarez will look to now open his La Liga scoring account. Atletico Madrid hosts Deportivo de La Coruna. Right now, David Moyes is taking charge of his first home match for Real Sociedad as they host Elche. They were at the time of writing this winning 2-0.

In Germany, Munich will look to get back to winning ways as they travel to Hertha. Dortmund travel to Entracht Franckfurt as they look to distance themselves from the relegation zone. However, the big match of the weekend is the showdown for 2nd place in the Bundesliga. 2nd Place Wolfsburg plays hosts to 3rd place Borussia Monchengladbach. The two teams are 3 points apart, and this match could go a long way in deciding who comes in 2nd behind Munich.

In Italy, the biggest game will not take place until Monday when Sampdoria host Napoli in the battle for 3rd place. Napoli has a 1 point lead over Sampdora. The leaders Juventus host Torino and Roma hosts Inter Milan.

Lastly in the EPL this weekend, West Brom will host Arsenal. Arsenal will look to keep the momentum going following their win over Dortmund, and get back on track in the EPL. United host Hull City as they look to hold on to their top four place. Liverpool will look to right the ship and finally get 3 points. The last game on Saturday Sunderland will look to end Chelsea’s unbeaten run in the English Premier League. On Sunday, the shock team of the year, Southampton, host Manchester City in what is currently the battle between 2nd and 3rd in the table. This looks to be the match to see who can keep pace with Chelsea. Spurs host Everton, as they both look to maintain their top half of the table status. All of the EPL teams face a quick turnaround as they have another round of matches midweek.

EPL Pick ‘Em

After my 7-6 win last week, I closed the gap to 76-70 against Buzz.

My picks for the weekend are as follows:
Arsenal 2-1 over West Brom, Aston Villa 1-0 over Burnley, Liverpool 2-2 with Stoke, United 2-1 over Hull, QPR 1-1 with Leicester, Swansea 2-1 over Crystal Palace, West Ham 2-2 with Newcastle, Chelsea 3-1 over Sunderland, Saints 2-1 over City, and Spurs 1-1 with Everton.

Buzz’s picks for the weekend:
Gunners 2-1, Villa 1-0, Liverpool 1-0, United 2-1, , Swansea 2-0, West Ham and Newcastle 2-2, Chelsea 3-0, Manchester City 2-1, Spurs and Everton 2-2

Let’s see how we do this week.

History was Made

In the big clash of the weekend in England, Manchester United came out victorious.  How, I am not sure.  But they did.  Arsenal was the better team for the majority of the game and had many point-blank chances in the first half.  However, when you do not take your chances, it always comes back to haunt you.  This came true as a deflection off Keiran Gibbs took the ball into the back of the net and put United on top.  After that, Arsenal threw everything but the kitchen sink at United and left themselves open at the back.  Great 3 points for United, but you have to wonder what might have been if Arsenal could finish.

Elsewhere in England, Chelsea continued their winning ways with a 2-0 victory and probably should have scored more.  Everton got back on track with a 2-1 victory, as did Tottenham.  But the big shock of the weekend took place in Selhurst Park where Crystal Palace dominated a feeble Liverpool side.  Liverpool looked the weaker side and was made to pay for their poor defending as they allowed 3 goals past.  Horrors of last season’s 3-3 draw were brought back to mind as Liverpool now find themselves in the midst of a mid-table battle.

In Germany, Dortmund’s struggles continue as they let a 2 goal lead slip to draw 2-2 with Paderborn.  Munich continues to dominate with a 4-0 win over Hoffenheim.  If you get a chance, check out Mario Götze’s goal from this one. WOW, WOW, WOW.  Munich’s lead at the top was extended to 7 points as Wolfsburg lost 3-2 at Schalke.  You may call the race for the Bundesliga trophy over, as I do not see anyone catching Munich since they may not lose all year.

In Italy, Juventus and Roma continued their winning ways they both went on the road and won.  Juve has a 3 point lead on Roma, and Roma is 6 points ahead of Napoli in 3rd.  In the Milan Derby, AC Milan took the early lead, but Roberto Mancini earned a draw in his first match in charge of Inter Milan.

On Saturday, history was made.  We are all lucky enough to be able to watch one of the greatest players of all time.  I look forward to talking with my kids about what it was like to watch him play and watch him glide past defenders and coolly slide the ball past the keeper.  In fact, this player has done this more than any other player in La Liga history.  With his hat-trick in Barcelona’s 5-1 victory over Sevilla, Lionel Messi passed Telmo Zarra for the all-time scoring record with 253 goals.  He is one of the best players in history.  Congrats to Messi!  Barcelona needed to win as Real Madrid continues their dominance.  It looks like this will be another three team race for the title as Atleti won to move just 4 points behind Real, who are two points ahead of Barça.

My GOAL OF THE WEEK takes us back to Selhurst Park and Mile Jedinak’s free kick.  It was sweetly placed in the top corner and helped seal a massive result for Crystal Palace.

This week we welcome back the Champions League as we move to the 5th round of group play.  There will be some big matches this week as teams look to hold on to hope for qualification for the knockout stages.  Some teams have already qualified for the next round.  Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, PSG, Barcelona, and Porto have all already qualified.  Some of the big matchups that I think are worth a watch will be CSKA v Roma and Man City vs Bayern Munich on Tuesday.  On Wednesday, Arsenal plays Dortmund and Basel take on Real Madrid.

English Premier League Pick ‘Em Results

This weekend we both correctly predicted the winners in the Man City, Chelsea, and Newcastle games.  I accurately saw Chelsea win 2-0 and he correctly saw Newcastle win 1-0.  We also both predicted a draw between Leicester and Sunderland.  I properly predicted a Spurs victory, but must say I got some help from Hull with the red card.  The final result is at the time of writing this still unknown, but as of right now the weekend will end as 7-6 me.  We will see how the results finish tonight.

It’s Back!!

Let’s get right into the preview of the weekend as we all know, we have missed club football and are rejoicing its return.

In England, the big match this weekend will be Saturday during the late morning when Arsenal and Manchester United meet at the Emirates.  This game has a lot of implications towards where these two teams will set their long term targets for the season.  It is important to see which team can right the ship per se and get a huge three points.  Van Gaal absolutely needs a big marquee win and this is a great opportunity for them.  Both teams are struggling and, honestly, 3 points is needed for both.  I think this game will be a cracker and must watch TV.

Also on Saturday in the Premier League, Man City host Swansea.  This is an absolutely required win for City.  They are at home and Chelsea will surely get three points at home to West Brom.  It will be interesting to see if Manuel Pellegrini can keep City in the title chase, or will it be just Chelsea and Southampton for the rest of the way.  On Sunday, two teams will look to get 3 much needed points as Liverpool and Tottenham look to start their climbs back up the table.  Both teams have been extremely disappointing.  Monday the biggest surprise team in the EPL will play.  Or should I say, title contenders-Southampton.  The Saints will travel to the midlands and hope to keep pace with Chelsea and grab 3 more points.

Saturday is a huge day in La Liga with 5 of the top 6 playing.  The only team with an “easy” game is Real Madrid as they travel to Eibar.  The other top teams all face off with 2nd place Barcelona facing 5th place Sevilla, and 4th place Atletico hosting 6th place Malaga. This should be a big weekend and could go a long way in deciding the crown as Real Madrid sit 2 points clear at the top.  I will be interested to see how Rakitic handles facing his old club, and how loanees Denis Suarez and Gerald Deulofeu fair playing in front of the Camp in the away colors.

In Germany, it continues to be a needed win for Dortmund as they travel to Paderborn and try to continue to distance themselves from the relegation zone.  Bayern Munich will look to continue their winning ways.  In their 11 matches in the Bundesliga, they have won 8, including their last 2 matches.

PSG have a great opportunity to jump to the top of the table, and probably already have as you  read this, since they are playing this afternoon.  Marseille will face off with Bordeaux, which should be an exciting game.  Bielsa got Marseille off to a flying start, but they will look to rebound after a loss to PSG in Le Classique.  This will be a vital game as they could be sitting in 2nd place and in need of 3 points to reclaim the top spot.

Lastly in Italy, there is arguably one of the top 3 rivalries in all of Europe taking place.  The Milan Derby.  While most of America will be watching the NFL, these two giants in Italy will take the field.  These two teams share a cathedral of game as their home ground in the San Siro.  This derby has historically been one of the most competitive and meaningful games.  The winner of this game used to go on and win the Serie A title.  However, recently the two teams have taken a tumble down the table in Italy.  The return of Juventus, Roma and Napoli to the top has knocked the Milan teams to 7th (AC Milan) and 9th (Inter Milan).  This match will not set either one up for contention in Serie A, but hopefully they can continue their rebuilding processes and return to the top of Italy and get back into the Champions League.

Lastly, I will be adding a new part to the weekly blog.  A good friend of mine and I have been since the start of the season picking the results of the English Premier League.  Each week on twitter we tweet our picks to each other and then see how we have done.  We get one point picking the correct result and 3 points if we get the scoreline correct.  As it stands currently he is winning 70 to 63.  I will be keeping you up to date with our picks and our results as we go.

Here are my picks for this weekend’s actions:

Man City 2-0 over Swansea, Leicester 1-1 with Sunderland, Stoke 3-1 over Burnley, Chelsea 2-0 over West Brom, Everton 2-2 with West Ham, Newcastle 2-1 over QPR, Arsenal 2-1 over Man United, Liverpool 1-0 over Crystal Palace, Spurs 2-0 over Hull, and finally Saints 3-1 over Villa.

His Pick for the weekend:

Chelsea 3-1 over West Brom, Everton 2-2 with West Ham, Leicester 1-1 with Sunderland, City 2-0 over Swansea, Newcastle 1-0 over QPR, Stoke 2-1 over Burnley, Gunners 1-1 with Man United, Liverpool 1-0 over Palace, Hull to draw 1-1 with Spurs, and Saints 2-1 over Villa.

We will see how I do and how he does. Let’s hope I can close the gap a little.

Do we really need 24 countries to play in the European Championships?

Do we really need 24 countries to play in the European Championships?  I don’t think so.  I know that the whole world falls in love with soccer every 4 years when the World Cup is played, but I have always felt that the European Championships were a better tournament and tougher to win.  Think about what the knockout stages have looked like in recent history.  In the 2012 quarterfinals, you had Spain vs. France and England vs. Italy.  These led to semi-finals of Portugal vs. Spain and Germany vs. Italy.  In 2008, you had Portugal vs. Germany and Spain vs. Italy.  With 16 teams and the majority of them coming from the top 30 teams in the world, you got mouthwatering matches.  You saw the best teams in the world face off with other top nations and fantastic tactical battles.  My big fear is the with 24 teams, the field will be water downed.  There will be less of a chance of getting a group like this: Netherlands, Italy, Romania, and France.  It will be interesting to see this play out over the next two years, but let’s hope that we still get mouthwatering matches and not a quarterfinal of Cyprus or Albania vs. Germany.  Yes.  Right now, Cyprus and Albania are in a place that they would play a home and away match to qualify for the tournament.

This leads to the results of the week.  First we should start by listing an interesting group of 9 teams: Czech Republic, Israel, Slovakia, Poland, England, Romania, Austria, Croatia, and Denmark.  For those of you wondering, those are your group leaders in the qualifying tables.  Read those names again and you will see how oddly these matches have gone.

In Group A, Netherlands got back on track with a huge 6-0 win.  If you get a chance, watch both of Arjen Robben’s goals. WOW and WOW.  Their win puts them in third place behind the Czech Republic and Iceland.

Group B might be the biggest shock of all of the groups.  With both Belgium and Bosnia right now on the outside  looking in, Israel and Wales are in the top 2 spots. Wales got a huge result in Belgium with a 0-0 draw to keep them 3 points ahead of Belgium.  Cyprus sits in 3rd after scoring 5 past Andorra.

Group D has Poland and Germany in the top two spots after two great performances from both teams.  Germany only managed 4 against Gibraltar, so kudos to Gib for keeping it at 4.  PS, how far will Manuel Neuer get up the pitch this year?  Will he have a touch in the opponent’s 6 yard box??? Scotland is the best 3rd place team after their 1-0 victory over Ireland.

Group F is fascinating.  Romania is on top with 10 points.  Then it gets crazy.  Northern Ireland is in 2nd place with 9 points and Hungary is in third place with 7 points.  However, the result of the weekend was the Faroe Islands winning 1-0 in Athens over Greece.  Greece is currently 18th according to the FIFA rankings.  Can you guess what the Faroe Islands is ranked??  Let me help you out…187th.  What a great result for them and a shocking upset.

The craziest match of the weekend had to happen in Milan.  Croatia and Italy faced off for the top spot in Group H.  In the second half, fans starting hurling flairs onto the pitch.  They came flying in from the Croatian fans and landed on the pitch.  The match was suspended for a while, but Italy was able to hold on for a point to keep the two teams even on ten points.

While there is still a ton of time left in the qualifying rounds, the start has been quite enteratiningand it should be even more interesting as we get closer to see what new nations qualify for the tournament.

GOAL OF THE WEEK…In the middle of Spain vs. Belarus, Isco scored a fantastic goal.  If you have not seen this goal yet, I highly recommend looking it up on youtube or vine as it is very special.  He is a brilliant young midfielder and it will be interesting to see how he continues to grow if he keeps scoring like that.

There are a bunch of International friendly matches this week with 22 games on Tuesday.  Some big ones of note are…

Ronaldo vs. Messi (the top two players in the world)

Scotland vs. England,  the battle of Britain!!

Spain vs. Germany – The last two World Champions

Ireland vs. USA – I mean USA! USA!

There is African Nations Cup qualifying but I will talk more about that when the African Nations Cup starts in January of 2015

Lastly, the Balon d’Or shortlist came out a couple weeks ago and it was very fascinating to see who was on the list, but to me more interesting was who was not.  The big omission to me was Luis Suarez of Barcelona, and formerly of Liverpool.  I do not know how many of you watched last season, but he was arguably the best player in the world…until he decided to bite someone at the World Cup.  Now don’t get me wrong, I do not agree with biting someone and he was punished and should have been, but that does not mean he is still not one of the 32 best players in the world.  If he did not bite someone, he would be in Zurich for the award ceremony as a top 3 finisher.  He should have been on the shortlist for the award.  I don’t think he should win this award, but he should have made the shortlist.  Case and point, look at Liverpool without him.  The award should, and most likely will, go to Ronaldo.  He led Real Madrid to la Decima.  That’s enough to win you this trophy.  I would like to see Neuer be in the final three, but that won’t happen since he plays in goal.  It will probably be Ronaldo, Messi, and a German Bayern Munich player.  My money would be on  Müller or Götze.

Last note, Diego Simeone should win the Coach of the Year.  I don’t think any of the other ten names should even be realistically considered, except for Ancelotti, but what Simeone did last season was remarkable.

International Break

International breaks are no fun.  That is what all the English Media would like you to think.  They are just a time when players get injured and the English team looks awful.  UEFA then came in and changed the set up of them so that they play a couple games each day over the break.  Starting today is the next round of the European qualifiers.  The field has expanded for 2016 from 16 to 24.  23 other nations will join France in 2016 to play for the European Championship.  Spain will try to defend its title, but more importantly, try to rebuild after a disastrous trip to Brazil.  Germany will try to do what Spain did after the last World Cup and win back to back major titles. Today marks the start “Matchday 4” of this qualifying round.  It ends on the 16th.  This is the last qualifying round of 2014 and will be picked back up again in March.  Looking over the calendar there are some matches worth the two hour time commitment over the weekend.

Today, Germany plays Gibraltar.  I only bring this match up due to my new found love of the Rock of Gibraltar and the fact that they have every-day people playing on their national team.  While the game is probably already over and Germany might have scored into the double digits I can still have some hope that Gibralter could score a goal. In what should be a more interesting game today, Ireland plays Scotland.  With the expanded field, it will give one of these two each the chance at qualification in this group.  Currently, Ireland sits in second place in the group, just behind Poland in goal difference, and above Germany by 3 points.  This will be a huge 3 points for them as they look to maintain their spot in the table.  Ronaldo also plays today, so if you have time-tune in because he is almost can’t miss TV right now as he seems to score once every 50 minutes right now.

Saturday, England and Spain take the field against Slovenia and Belarus respectively.  But perhaps the more interesting game will be Sweden versus Montenegro.  Separated by just one point in Group G, this will be an important 3 points if either team wants to qualify for the tournament.  Oh and there is ZLATAN!!

Sunday might have the two most intriguing games of the weekend.  The Dutch had a fantastic run during the World Cup, but Louis Van Gaal has moved to United and the team is now struggling mightily under Guus Hiddink.  They have lost two games in qualifying and just recently lost to Mexico in a friendly on Wednesday.  They will play a weak Latvia side and should get all three points, but you never know.  The other game of interest is Wales vs. Belgium.  Gareth Bale his Welsh teammates currently sit atop Group B with Belgium 3 points adrift of them.  Belgium do have a game in hand, but will need to lay down a marker and show the world they are still the team to beat in this group.  Plus watch Divork Origi and his special talents.  He scored a beautiful goal midweek.  He might just be the striker a certain team in red could use.

Lastly, the United States Men’s National Team plays tonight against James Rodriquez.  They are playing in London and it should be an interesting match-up.  I believe that James will score but the USMNT should put out a good performance tonight.  This is a good test for them and I will be interested in seeing how they can defend James.

Enjoy the week off of club soccer and if you have time, I hope you enjoy some of these international matches.

Coming soon…my thoughts on the new European Format and the Balon d’Or Shortlist.

Can Southampton win the league?

Can Southampton win the league? Sounds like a strange statement but looking up and down the table, it is reasonable to give it some thought. They currently sit in second place, just four points behind Chelsea. They have been one of the most exciting teams to watch this season. After a very interesting off-season which saw their manager, captain, striker, and 3 defenders leave left most people thinking that the Saints would be in a relegation fight. Well they are in a fight for their place, but at the other, much happier, end of the table. While the other traditionally top 5 or 6 teams keep disappointing (except Chelsea, but more on that later) the Saints have taken advantage and sit nicely in second place. I don’t think anyone catches Chelsea, but a spot in Europe and possibly the Champions League is not out of the question. Tip of the hat to Ronald Koeman. Hope they can keep it up.

Huge three points for Chelsea. They are surely now in the driver’s seat for the title. They have a four point lead on the Saints, but more importantly are 9 points head of Man City. While I realize there is a lot of the season left to play, it will be very difficult to catch Chelsea. They put in a great performance at Anfield, and in the end had more quality than Liverpool in front of goal and, more importantly, on the back line. I will say that it was probably a penalty on Cahill, but in the end well done and probably a deserved 3 points.

Is Germany becoming the new Scottish Premier League? Is there any other conclusion than a runaway Bayern Munich championship? The closest team is Wolfsburg and they are 4 points back, but Munich seem unbeatable right now. In other German news big result for Dortmund this weekend. They absolutely needed 3 points and that is what they got. It was not very convincing and still leaves lots of questions, but the result was needed. It will be interesting to watch as they have qualified for the Round of 16 in Europe and sit just outside of the relegation zone.

Another team that I felt needed to win against a quality team was Real Sociedad and they responded by beating Atleti on Sunday 2-1. It was a huge win for them and moves them up the table and, for now, out of the relegation zone. Just like in Munich, Madrid are looking very unbeatable. They scored another 5 goals this weekend and they didn’t even look like they were in top gear. It will be interesting to see if Barca can catch them, but they are looking very good this year.

Congrats to PSG on their win over Marseille.  Their win means Marseille’s lead is only 1 point. In fact, the difference between 1st and 4th is only four points. France might be the league to watch for a good championship race.

This weekend is an international break. On Friday, I’ll talk about some big matches coming up during the break.

What is wrong with English Clubs in Europe?

This past week brought the fourth group stage matches for the greatest competition in the world. We saw a record tying performance from Messi, and the downfall of English teams in Europe. This coming weekend we see the rematch of the slip game and a big match in France between PSG and Marsellie.

Messi has equaled Raul’s (one of the greats) goal scoring record. He will soon pass it and also equal and pass Tello Zarra in La Liga. This is extremely impressive for him and shows how great he is. In the next round of champions league, I fully expect Ronaldo to also equal and probably pass Raul and Messi. These two are two of the greatest ever, and I feel lucky to get to watch them. I cannot wait to look back in 20 or 30 years and share with my kids stories about these two greats in the game, like others have shared with me about Maradona and Pele.

What is going on with English clubs in Europe?????? Chelsea are the best squad in England and show that they are the best English side against Europe. They slipped up a little bit this week, but a point in Slovenia is something that they can take and be okay with. They will easily qualify during the next round. The other three are a mess. Arsenal just lost a three goal lead at home to an average Anderlecht side. They will also qualify soon for the the round of 16, but need to step up their home performances if they want to make it past that round.

This leads to the other two English sides. I cannot decide which one is worse. Manchester City have had an amazing amount of cash infused into their team which has lead to amazing success in England, but has not translated to Europe. With the talent that they have, they should be already qualified for their group and looking forward to the Round of 16, not trying to salvage a sinking ship. It does need to be pointed out that they are in a very difficult group. Bayern Munich are quite possibly the best team in the world and should dominate this group. Roma are a very talented team but it has been a while since they were in this completion. For City to have just 2 points from 4 games is inexcusable. They now need to beat Munich at home and Roma in Rome on the last day. While I can see them getting a result in the Munich game, I do not see them winning a game in Rome.

Liverpool are a very interesting side. There was the famous night in Istanbul that as a young soccer fan in America was something extremely special to watch. They had Fernando Torres and then Luis Suarez. They were brilliant players. Regardless of what you think about Suarez and his biting habits, he is an exceptional player. His departure from Liverpool has left a hole that is nearly impossible to fill. This year they have struggled, whether it is bedding in new players or missing lost players. Now looking at their prospects in Champions League, you must wonder if Brendan is up for this challenge. Getting mixed with Real always meant that this was a fight for second place between them, Ludogorets and Basel. Liverpool play both of those teams and will need all 6 points to advance. It is definitely possible, but will be tough. They should have never played a weakened squad against Real but this is a new challenge for Brendan. It will be interesting to see him respond.

This weekend should be an exciting one.

In England, it is a true red versus blue matchup with Liverpool versus Chelsea. This is the best match of the weekend and should be fascinating to see how both teams come out to play. For me it comes down to if Liverpool can finish their chances and can they stop Cesc from dominating the midfield. I am also interested in seeing how Southampton plays this week and if they can keep pace with Chelsea.

In Spain, the big two play Rayo and Almeria and it should be an easy three points for each. I am more interested in seeing if Real Sociedad can right their ship, or if they will continue to struggle against a very good Atleti side.

In Germany, the only game that interests me is the battle of the Borussias, Dortmund vs Monchengladbech. Dortmund has been amazing in the Champions League, but is in the relegation zone in the Bundesliga. Can they right the ship??? I hope so, as I love the way they play and think Klopp is a top manager.

Lastly this week, is a match that should be fantastic. Marseille versus PSG. Marseille is currently 4 points ahead of PSG and travels to PSG in what will be a huge 6 pointer in this league. I would love to see someone finally challenge PSG for the title, so here is to hoping Marseille get all three points.

First Post.

This is my first ever blog post and something that I have wanted to start for a while now.  I am an avid football fan and not the America brand of football but the European brand. I find the sport fantastic and truly beautiful to watch.  My plans for this are to write two posts a week.  One at the start of the week to review the weekends games and preview any midweek games.  The second will come on Friday that previews the upcoming weekend.  I will also look back on big midweek games.

I should start by saying that I am a huge FC Barcelona fan.  There is nothing better in the word to me than the Camp Nou and watching the blaugrana.  I also follow the EPL extensively and cheer for Liverpool.  I will do my best to hide my bias but it will show every once a while.  I hope you enjoy this blog and find this game to be as great as I do.