Jose Mourinho

Is Jose Mourinho the best manager ever?  I have to say he is not right now, but he is slowly working his way up that list.  He has undoubtedly been successful in all of his managerial jobs.  He has won trophies with every club he has managed and from 2003 to 2012 he did not go a single calendar year without winning a trophy.  His career really started to take off once he took control of FC Porto in Portugal.  While he only managed there for 2 years, he won 6 trophies including 2 league titles, the UEFA Cup, and his first UEFA Champions League.  He then moved to Chelsea for the first time.  There he was in charge for 3 full seasons.  In his first season at Chelsea, he ended a 50 year title drought when they won the EPL.  But his first trophy that he ever won with Chelsea was the League Cup.   They beat Liverpool 3-2 after extra time.  He would go on to 6 trophies at Chelsea.  He then left early on in the 2007-08 season and took over at Internazionale in Italy.  There he won his second UEFA Champions League and 2 Serie A titles.  In 2010, he was given one of the most daunting tasks in the world at the time, win La Decima.  He was asked to knock off Barcelona from the top of world football and win the Champions League for a third time.  He was successful in one of those tasks when he won La Liga in 2011-12, but he was never very successful in the Champions League.  This led to his return to Chelsea.  In total, Mourinho has won 20 trophies before this weekend started.

Fast forward ten years from his first trophy with Chelsea, and Jose Mourinho was back in Wembley trying to win his first trophy in his second stint at Chelsea.  This time his opposition was Tottenham.  John Terry opened the scoring when a Willian free kick found its way to his feet.  Diego Costa was a menace all game causing trouble left, right and center.  His shot in the 56th minute was deflected off Kyle Walker and put Lloris in no position to make a save.  It was game over and another trophy for Mourinho. Number 21 for him was celebrated like it was number 1.  He was overjoyed, running all over the pitch in celebration.

While you cannot argue with his results, there are other things getting in the way of him being the unchallenged greatest of all time.  He is still a long way behind Sir Alex Ferguson who has won 49 major honors, but it is not just about trophies.  Jose Mourinho is often criticized for the style of play that his teams have exhibited.  Ask Buzz about it and he will say that I often am critical of his style and the way he “parks the bus.”  I feel he has such great attacking talent that he should not have to always be as defensive as he is.  I think this was one of his major problems at Real Madrid.  The other issue is the way that he acts at times.  As a Barcelona supporter, I will never forget the moment that he poked Tito Vilanova in the eye during El Clasico.  Or the way that he has alienated legends at some of the clubs he has managed.  But the biggest one for me is how he handles the media.  While I feel it is very good for his team and his players, I am not a fan of always attacking the media or saying that they are out to get you and your players.  But regardless of how I feel, to deny his ability to get results is wrong.  Cheers to Buzz and Sasha on their first of what will most likely be many trophies in the new Jose Mourinho era.

Weekend Review

Did Liverpool just win the league for Chelsea this weekend? With the leaders focusing on winning a trophy, second place Manchester City had a golden opportunity to put pressure on the Blues. Things didn’t seem to play out the way that City would have hoped. Jordan Henderson opened the scoring with a tremendous goal to give Liverpool and early lead. 14 minutes later, Edin Dzeko drew the game level but it was not in the cards for Man City. Liverpool were the better team for most of the match. They pressed really high and put every City player under pressure on the ball. Liverpool then got the winner from Philippe Coutinho. He scored his second spectacular goal in as many games in the EPL. He is really coming into form for Liverpool. In the other games in the Premier League, Wayne Rooney found the back of the net as Manchester United beat Sunderland 2-0. Arsenal got goals from Giroud and Rosicky to edge Everton 2-0. It has been a tough season for Roberto Martinez’s men. Southampton continued to struggle in front of goal as they lost to West Brom 1-0. Crystal Palace got a huge win to start the weekend with a 3-1 win at West Ham United. The race for the title may be all but over, however the race for the top 4 spots is really heating up.

Coming into Sunday, it was all set up for PSG.  Marseille lost on Friday when Caen came to town. After 63 minutes Marseille had a 2-0 win, but 3 goals in the last half hour gave Caen a vital 3 points. Then on Saturday, Lyon took an early lead but during the second half they conceded two goals in 5 minutes and lost 2-1 at Lille. It was all set for PSG, but they played out to a 0-0 draw in Monaco. Marseille now sit 4 points behind Lyon. Lyon remain on top, but only by 1 point now over PSG.

The big game in Italy takes place today as Juventus and Roma are still to play. Lazio were able to close the gap on Napoli, beating Sassuolo 3-0. Florentina also gained some ground as they beat Inter after Salah scored his 4 goal in 6 games for the club. This was all possible when Torino beat Napoli 1-0. The race for the last Champions league spot is really heating up now. Napoli is now just 3 points above Fiorentina and only 2 points above Lazio. Sampdoria also won this weekend to climb just to the edge of the race for third place.

In Germany, it was same old, same old, at the top as Bayern Munich won 4-1 on Friday. Wolfsburg need to come back from a 1 goal deficit 3 times on Sunday to keep pace with Bayern as they ended up winning 5-3. Bas Dost scored two more goals this weekend. Monchengladach and Bayer Leverkusen both won to take the third and fourth spots. Schalke, who was in fourth, lost 3-0 to one of the hottest teams in the league Borussia Dortmund. They have been slowly climbing their way up the table and now sit in 10th place. They are only 8 points off the top four now. Don’t count them out yet.

La Liga took an interesting turn as three of the top 5 teams all drew. Top of the league Real Madrid drew 1-1 with Villarreal. Ronaldo scored on a penalty to become the first player to score 30+ goals in 5 straight seasons. Gerard Moreno leveled the score in the second half to hand Villarreal an important point. Barcelona had already taken care of business on Saturday when they beat Granada 3-1. Rakitic opened the scoring, then Suarez and Messi both added goals.  Their win, coupled with Real’s draw, means the lead at the top is now only 2 points.  Sevilla drew 0-0 at home against Atletico Madrid. This match puts Atleti now 5 points behind Barcelona. It also puts Sevilla 7 points behind Valencia for 4th place. Valencia beat Real Sociedad 2-0 to give themselves a nice lead in the race for fourth.

Midweek Preview

While the Champions League takes a week off, most of the big 5 have their domestic cup competitions this week.  In England however, they have a round of EPL fixtures.

The Semi finals of the Coppa Italia take place this week. The first legs of these semi-finals take place this week. On Wednesday, Lazio host Napoli. This matchup has the two teams that are looking ever more likely to battle for third place in the league. They will take some time out of their league battle to fight for a spot in the Coppa Italia final. The other matchup has the leaders of the league, Juventus, taking on Fiorentina. The first leg is in Turin and should be an interesting match, since Juve play on Monday. The second legs will take place in April.

The Coupe de France return as well this week when the quarter finals begin on Tuesday. Saint Etienne travel to Boulogne to face third division side US Boulogne. On Wednesday, we see a rematch from Sunday when Monaco make the trip to Paris to face PSG. The quarterfinals end with two matches on Thursday. The first is an all second division show down when Stade Brestois host AJ Auxerre. The other match sees one of the surprise teams of the top flight, Guimpamp, travel to fourth tier Concarneau.

The Pokal returns in Germany this week as Round 3 begins. Many of the big teams remain, and all of them are separated so it could set up some great matches in round 4. Wolfsburg travel to Leipzig. Bayern Munich host Eintracht Braunschweig. Dortmund travel to Dynamo Dresden.

In Spain, the Copa del Rey also resumes this weekend. The second legs of the semi finals are this Wednesday. Barcelona travels to Villarreal with a 3-1 lead going into the match. It would be difficult to see anything other than Barcelona advancing to the final. The other semifinal is nicely poised as Athletic Club and Espanyol drew 1-1 in the first leg. Espanyol host the second leg, so their away goal could have vital importance. Could we see an all Barcelona final?

While the continent has Cup matches this week, the EPL has another round of fixtures.  Southampton face one of the hottest teams in the league, as they host Crystal Palace. Chelsea travel across London to face West Ham United. Manchester City will look to respond to the loss on the weekend when they host bottom of the table Leicester. Liverpool host Burnley as they work to extend their 11 game unbeaten run in the league. Tottenham will attempt to respond to their Capitol One Cup defeat and get back into the race for the top 4. Manchester United travel to the northeast of England to face Newcastle.

EPL Pick ‘Em

Score update – I finally won a week last weekend winning 7-5.  This makes the score 190 to 174.

My picks – Hull 0-0, Saints 2-0, West Brom 1-0, Man City 2-0, Stoke 1-0. Chelsea 2-1, Spurs 1-1, United 1-1, Arsenal 2-0, Liverpool 1-0

Buzz’s picks – W Brom 1-0, Saints 2-1, Hull 2-1, Cap One Cup holders 2-0, Gunners 3-1, City 4-0, ManU 2-1, Spurs 2-0, Stoke 2-2, Pool 3-1

Don’t forget to check out the twitter feed this weekend – @SoccerPond

Don’t forget about the bottom of the table as we watch the relegation battles unfold.

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