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Besiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Lackluster Performance, Nervy Result

 

Besiktas 0 – Arsenal 0

Ataturk Olympic Stadium (Champions League)

Player Ratings (via Arseblog News) – Match HighlightsWenger’s Press Conference

Following Arsenal’s late win over Crystal Palace, there was little time to rest as the Gunners flew to Turkey for a crucial clash against Besiktas. Arsene Wenger made two changes from the team that was victorious against Palace with Nacho Monreal stepping in for the injured Kieran Gibbs while Olivier Giroud played in Yaya Sanogo’s stead.

Right from kickoff, Demba Ba noticed that Wojciech Szczesny was off his line and he attempted an audacious attempt that almost embarrassed the goalie but he was alert to the danger. The home side put the Gunners under some intense pressure but the defensive rearguard stood firm to withstand wave after wave of some Turkish delightful attacks. Matt Debuchy even suffered a nasty gash to his shin while trying to clear the ball away from danger.

The pressure finally took its toll and almost reaped fruit when Ba latched onto a neat Olcay Sahan pass and side-footed the ball goalwards but Szczesny was on hand to make a superb save.

Mathieu Debuchy Arsenal Demba Ba Besiktas

Ba terrorized the Arsenal defense

Alexis Sanchez waltzed with the ball on the right flank before drilling it to Giroud’s path but the Frenchman failed to connect with the ball. Sanchez continued to stamp his authority on the game with another threaded ball to Santi Cazorla but the Spaniard to the ball on his stride before firing his shot wide.

Jack Wilshere was offered a chance at goal and he wasted no time in curling a shot that was saved by Zengin. A lapse in concentration allowed Demba Ba a sniff at goal but his effort missed by a lick of paint. Sanchez ran the show for the Gunners and fashioned some chances for Giroud but the Frenchman was having a torrid outing which was epitomized by this…

Aaron Ramsey had done amazingly well to tee the ball to Giroud’s path but the Frenchman couldn’t even control the ball, much to the exasperation of Arsenal fans watching the game.

At the start of the second half, Ramsey had a chance to shoot the ball but he dallied on the ball which allowed the Besiktas defense to cover their tracks. Ex-Gunner, Oguzhan Ozyakup split the Arsenal defense with a pass that was like hot knife through butter and his ball fell kindly to Olcay Sahan’s path but the bearded bloke curled his effort just beyond Szczesny’s far post.

Arsenal’s bad night went a whole lot worse when Mikel Arteta suffered an injury that required him to be substituted.

He was replaced by Mathieu Flamini that earned himself an expected booking as the game progressed.

Arsenal sparked into life when Sanchez and Debuchy connected well on the right but the French defender’s cut back to Giroud was blocked after the forward pulled the trigger. Sanchez then tried hard to make a surging run before feeding Giroud and as expected, he lost the ball, much to the frustration of his teammates and fans alike. With Sanchez having nothing left in the reserves, he was replaced by the Ox.

Late on, Monreal did well to create a free kick on the edge of the area after he was fouled by some bloke but Cazorla’s free kick was straight at the goalie. With 10 minutes to go or so, Ramsey earned himself an early bath for a stupidly hauling down Ozyakup and that put the Gunners in a rather precarious situation.

really foolish from Ramsey

Funnily enough, the Gunners had the chance to grab a vital away goal when a defensive error allowed the Ox to have a run at goal before he blasted a shot that was parried to the post by Zengin. Wilshere attempted to head the rebound but the Besiktas defense did enough to clear the ball to safety.

In the end, a draw was fair reflection of two team with shitty attacks and good defenders. Demba Ba might have performed better than Giroud on the night but his attempts on didn’t hit the back of the net, which was a good thing for the Gunners. However, Giroud’s case could only be settled in Mount Olympus.

All focus would be on the Everton game coming up this weekend. More on the game as we draw closer.

It was a lackluster

Besiktas Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

Demba Ba would be a threat tonight

Unfortunately, there was no one to hold the fort on the blog while I was out for a week on official duty. Apologies for that… Every “Arseblogger” needs a “Tom” now and then tho… I’m sure you get my drift.

****

In my absence, the Gunners fought really hard to grind out a result against Crystal Palace but the stakes are a lot different in the Champions League qualifiers. Arsenal has followed this route a couple of times to get into the competition proper with their last encounter being a double-legged affair against Udinese Calcio. This time, the Gunners face a Besiktas SK side that has been in UEFA’s bad books after some match-fixing allegations.

The game will be played at Besiktas’s Ataturk Olympic stadium, the ground were Liverpool had that miraculous Champions League final victory over AC Milan in 2005. Under new manager, Slaven Bilic, the club has been revamped and the injection of an experienced striker like Demba Ba has bolstered their fortunes. Moroccan sensation, Younes Belhanda is also on his way from Montpellier but this game will be too soon for him.

Besiktas celebrating a goal against Feyernoord

Goals from Kerim Frei and Mustafa Pektemek handed Besiktas a 2-1 lead over Feyernoord in the first leg but a Demba Ba hat-trick in the second leg set the stage for a feisty encounter with the Gunners. Besiktas wouldn’t play any league football till the end of August, but they have two games against the Gunners before their Turkish SuperLig football action kicks off.

The Turks are unbeaten in their last 15 home games in all competitions, and they have won nine of those home encounters. Food for thought for the Gunners.

Besiktas fans will unfurl Turkey’s largest ever handmade banner

Turkish fans

Arsenal will arrive in Turkey in bullish mode, following their two victories over Manchester City and Crystal Palace. While the Man City game was very convincing, the same couldn’t be said about the Crystal Palace encounter even though the fans cared more about the points than the collective performance of the team.

Arsene Wenger can be proud of his achievements in the transfer window this summer but with Thomas Vermaelen off to Barcelona, Per Mertesacker not close to full fitness and Laurent Koscielny carrying a knock, the Gunners are desperately short at center half. The tabloids have been whispering about some Spartan bloke called Kostas Manolas, but as it stands, the Gunners have two young and inexperienced lads in the forms of Calum Chambers and Ignasi Miquel, as well as a make-shift center back, Nacho Monreal. Monreal will probably play in his featured left full back role with Kieran Gibbs suffering from yet another injury.

Arsene Wenger has even expressed his concerns ahead of the game,

“We are desperate to do it because we want to play in the Champions League and we know how big these games are, we had to give a lot [against Crystal Palace], hopefully we will recover and be ready for Tuesday night.

“We are desperate to go through, no matter what it costs we want to go through. We have always a difficult draw, we had Fenerbahce last year, this time we have Besiktas. It’s difficult.

“We will assess Koscielny on Monday; if he’s fit and capable to play, we play him. It was our plan to bring the Germans back in contention for Everton. But in case of emergency I will take Mertesacker.

“But we have Bellerin, who was 19 today, who can come in. we are a bit short. I hope Koscielny responds well to today’s game.”

Despite the Gunners’ defensive troubles, they are well stocked in other positions and I expect a very strong team from the boss. With David Ospina still nursing a thigh injury, I expect Wojciech Szczesny to continue in goal. The Pole had a scary moment with a poor clearance against Crystal Palace but he had Koscielny to spare his blushes. Matt Debuchy and Nacho Monreal will be at the fullback positions and I expect Chambers to start along Kos, if he passes a late fitness test.

Koscielny will pass the test and play today because he’s a beast. Just look at this…

In midfield, captain Mikel Arteta will play alongside a resurgent Jack Wilshere with Aaron Ramsey playing further ahead. The Welsh Jesus recently spoke about competitions for places in the squad and he hopes that everyone would be fit as the campaign progresses. Shad Forsyth, anyone? Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez will support Olivier Giroud in attack, as the manager has confirmed that Yaya Sanogo has a “little” hamstring problem.

This would be the first meeting between both sides in European football and it promises to be an interesting encounter.

Recent form

Besiktas: LWW

Arsenal: WLWLWW

Possible starting lineups

Besiktas JK 3-4-3 football formationArsenal 4-2-3-1 football formation

Gooner Daily Prediction: 1 – 3

Enjoy the game wherever you are.

Sayonara.

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Thoughts on Arsenal’s Opponents in the UCL Qualifiers

The Gunners will have to be mindful of Hugo Almeida, Besiktas top scorer last season

As the season hots up, the chums at UEFA decided to be in the spotlight with their draws for the Champions League qualifiers that would take place this month. There were some interesting fixtures on display with SSC Napoli getting a tasty draw with Athletic Bilbao while LOSC Lille Metropole takes on FC Porto. However, Arsenal would brace themselves for a double-legged affair with Turkish outfit, Besiktas SK.

The team had qualified for the Europa League group stages last season after an aggregate victory over Norwegian side, Tromso, but they as well as fellow Turkish side, Fenerbahce, were banned by UEFA following some allegations of match-fixing. A season without European football made the team concentrate on the Turkish SuperLig and after finishing the campaign in second place to Fenerbahce, the Turks under the guidance of Slaven Bilic are set to take on the Gunners for the right to be in Champions League group stages.

The team doesn’t have as much “household names” like Galatasaray but folks like Atiba Hutchinson, Michael Eneramo and Manuel Fernandes have gained their fair share of popularity in the world of football. The Gunners would have to keep half an eye on Hugo Almeida, Besiktas’ top scorer last season. Almeida has been at Besiktas since 2011 and he has scored 47 goals in 108 games for the Turks. In his time with the club, he has won the Turkish Cup in his first season.

He’s also a regular in the Portuguese national team and like his compatriots, he suffered the ignominy of a disastrous World Cup so he returned earlier than expected.

Almeida celebrating a goal with his teammates

Despite Besiktas’ stature, I don’t think that they have enough in the tank to win Arsenal but football is one hell of a surprising sport. The dates for the fixtures have also been set for August 19th and 27th, and we would be hoping that the Gunners play in Europe’s elite competition for the umpteenth time after easing past the Turks.

Sayonara.

2013/14 Season Review: Near Miss in the League, Cup Glory at Last!

With Sir Alex Ferguson retiring at the end of the 2012/13 season, it was going to be very interesting to see who was going to take over what was left of the Premier League. With Arsene Wenger taking the title of the longest serving manager in the League, there were some transitions as Manuel Pellegrini, Jose Mourinho and David Moyes all took roles in their respective clubs.

The 2013/14 season was a roller-coaster ride as it promised so much and like previous seasons, it all crumbled. But Arsenal fans can take solace in the fact that the final game of the season was rewarded with what everyone concerned with the club craved – a trophy.

In a chronological order, I present to you an entire review of the season revealing my take of the match, goal, save and player of each month from August 2013 to May 2014.

You may not agree with my pick but feel free to share yours with your comments.

Enjoy!

AUGUST

After a rather unsuccessful Emirates Cup, Arsenal began the season poorly with a home defeat to Aston Villa and all Hell broke loose. A comfortable win over Fulham was sandwiched in between a double-legged affair against Fenerbahce. Victory against the Turkish outfit guaranteed Arsenal Champions League football for hte 16th consecutive season.

August Match of the Month

Fulham 1 Arsenal 3 (Giroud, Podolski (2)): With the Gunners losing their opening Premier League encounter, it was vital for them to get back on track. An early goal for Giroud and two bullets from Podolski were enough to put Fulham to the sword. Sadly enough, Podolski tore his hamstring later in the month.

Podolski celebrating his goal against Fulham with his teammates

August Goal of the Month

Podolski against Fulham: In the midst of a fully crowded box, the German with a Thor’s Hammer of a left foot blasted a shot that breezed past Stokedale.

August Save of the Month

Wojciech Szczesny against Fenerbahce: With Fenerbahce thrashed 3-0 in Turkey, they arrived at the Emirates with literally nothing to play for. However, a moment arrived when Emmanuel Emenike bore in on goal and blasted a shot that was superbly saved by Szczesny.

August Player of the Month

Aaron Ramsey: With a good preseason under his belt, Ramsey rose to prominence and he had his scoring touch as he smashed in three goals. He also add more steel to his game making him an all-rounder.

SEPTEMBER

Arsenal began September with a sweet victory over free-spending Tottenham and the world was shocked to witness the acquisition of Mesut Ozil on transfer deadline day. The Aaron Ramsey show took center stage as he shone the brightest in the games against Sunderland, Marseille, Stoke and Swansea. The fringe players and youngsters were given a chance in the Capital One Cup encounter against West Brom but the Gunners had to rely on the lottery of penalties.

September Match of the Month

Arsenal 1 Tottenham 0 (Giroud): Despite the fact that the game didn’t have a mammoth scoreline, registering a win over AVB and his new-look squad had a nice feel about it. Besides, there was nothing better than getting some bragging rights over the old enemy.

September Goal of the Month

Giroud against Tottenham: If the build up to the goal could make a man horny, the finish by Giroud was certainly orgasmic. It was a goal that got better with each passing replay.

September Save of the Month

Szczesny against Tottenham: With Spurs trailing, they fought tooth and nail to get an equalizer but it wasn’t forthcoming. Then came a moment when Jermaine Defoe’s shot deflected Szczesny and caught him off guard, but somehow, the Pole still managed to make an unorthodox save of life.

9644365175 3131799ddb o GIF: Wojciech Szczesny makes a brilliant save to deny a deflected Jermain Defoe effort

September Player of the Month

Aaron Ramsey: With the rate at which Ramsey was scoring for fun, it was a no-brainer when he won the Barclays Premier League Player of the Month award for September.

OCTOBER

October would certainly be remembered as the month Ozil opened his goalscoring account for the club and it’s fair to say that the goal was worth the wait. Arsenal’s seven-game winning streak was halted by a resilient West Brom but the Gunners went back to winning ways with victories over Norwich and Crystal Palace. However, the month was marred by two back to back home defeats to Dortmund and Chelsea.

October Match of the Month

Arsenal 4 Norwich 1 (Ozil (2), Wilshere, Ramsey): On a fine afternoon at the Emirates, it was a midfield masterpiece that settled the proceedings to send the Gunners to the summit of the Premier League.

October Goal of the Month

Jack Wilshere against Norwich: Wilshere instigated the attack from Arsenal’s half, evaded a marker then passed the ball to Gibbs on his far left. The English fullback swiftly fed Cazorla and the diminutive magician darted inwards then teed up Giroud who in turn flicked the ball to an onrushing Wilshere. With the ball still in motion, Wilshere flicked it back to Giroud and the Frenchman returned the favor with another exquisite flick and that scintillating buildup matched the finish as Wilshere side-footed the ball past a hapless Ruddy.

Joga Bonito.

October Save of the Month

Wojciech Szczesny against Crystal Palace: With the Gunners grabbing the lead through a Mikel Arteta penalty, the captain’s red card put his team in a precarious situation. With Crystal Palace searching for a goal, Mila Jedinak blasted a sweet volley that was odds on to smash the net. Up stepped Szczesny to make a spectacular save.

October Player of the Month

Aaron Ramsey: In a month where Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud scored vital goals that aided the team’s cause, Ramsey was still the man that was making things tick and his goal against Norwich was unbelievable as he left a couple of defenders for dead before blasting the ball past Ruddy.

NOVEMBER

Traditionally, November is usually regarded as a bogey month for the Gunners but Arsene Wenger’s army swept Liverpool, Dortmund, Southampton, Marseille and Cardiff aside. The only low point of the month was losing to a piss-poor Manchester United side with a goal scored from the bloke with a little boy inside him.

November Match of the Month

Arsenal 2 Liverpool 0 (Cazorla, Ramsey): Liverpool arrived at the Emirates in a rich vein of form as the media waxed lyrical about the famous “S.A.S” combo. When they arrived at the Emirates, they were locked in a cage and the keys were thrown away while Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey showed S.A.S how goals were meant to be scored.

November Goal of the Month

Aaron Ramsey against Liverpool: The Welsh Messi waited for the ball to have a couple of bounces before he launched a surface-to-goal missile that went past Simon Mignolet before he could even attempt to reach the ball.

November Save of the Month

Wojciech Szczesny against Dortmund: The Gunners may have visited the Signal Iduna Park and may have gotten all three points but it was due to the clinical finishing of Ramsey, hard work from the lads and some excellent goalkeeping from Szczesny. His save from Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s volley was worth noting as well.

November Player of the Month

Aaron Ramsey: The red-hot Welsh goalscoring machine of the first kind blasted in four goals in the course of the month and many fans started harboring thoughts of him going all the way for the Player of the Season award if he continued in this vein, despite the fact that it was only November.

DECEMBER

Arsenal had a poor run of results in December as the month began with a win over Hull but stinging defeats to Manchester City in the Premier League and more importantly, Napoli in the Champions League, were to have detrimental effect to the team. There were also some unwanted draws at home to Chelsea and Everton with the best result coming up against West Ham, the game the Gunners lost their talisman to injury.

December Match of the Month

West Ham 1 Arsenal 3 (Walcott (2), Podolski): In a game that would be unfortunately remembered for Ramsey’s thigh injury, Arsenal had a super sub in the form of Lukas Podolski to thank as he made an immediate impact in the game to swing it into Arsenal’s favour.

Arsenal's Theo Walcott (3rd L) celebrates with team mates after scoring a goal against West Ham United during their English Premier League soccer match at the Boleyn Ground in London December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

December Goal of the Month

Theo Walcott against Manchester City: Some would say that the game against Manchester City had a “tennis scoreline” but Walcott’s second goal was perfectly placed in the top corner giving Costel Pantillimon no chance whatsoever.

December Save of the Month

Wojciech Szczesny against Newcastle: It was another game where a top-drawer save was the difference between three points and one. Tim Krul was unable to keep Giroud’s header out but Szczesny reacted superbly to save Moussa Sissoko’s goal-bound shot.

December Player of the Month

Per Mertesacker: Theo Walcott earned many plaudits for his goalscoring return on his road to full fitness but in my honest opinion, Per Mertesacker was a colossus at the back for the Gunners.

JANUARY

2014 began on a positive note with the Gunners getting a vital victory over Cardiff. More wins against Tottenham, Aston Villa, Fulham and Coventry were admirable, but the creditable draw against Southampton wasn’t bad as well.

 January Match of the Month

Arsenal 2 Tottenham 0 (Cazorla, Rosicky): Getting a chance to knock Tottenham out early in the FA Cup was a task the Gunners felt the need to oblige. Goals from Cazorla and Rosicky settled it.

January Goal of the Month

Rosicky against Tottenham: The Czech maestro capitalized on an error from Danny Rose to run the length of the pitch before chipping a hapless Hugo Lloris.

January Save of the Month

Szczesny against Southampton: Szczesny made an unbelievable save after Nacho Monreal’s ball watching allowed Gallagher to blast the ball at goal from six yards.

January Player of the Month

Santi Cazorla: The diminutive magician had a rather hot and cold campaign but he was on fire in January scoring five goals.

Arsenal vs. Fulham: Live Player Ratings from the Emirates Stadium

Oh Santi Cazorla!

FEBRUARY

As the title race reached the business end, Arsenal began the month on a high win a win against Crystal Palace but the 5-1 thrashing at Anfield was a very bitter pill to swallow. A goalless stalemate against Manchester United was followed up with some measure of revenge against Liverpool in the FA Cup. Bayern spoiled the party at the Emirates but a resounding victory over Sunderland wrapped up the month.

 February Match of the Month

Arsenal 4 Sunderland 1 (Giroud (2), Rosicky, Koscielny): With Giroud’s extra-marital issues taking center stage, he lost his place in the team to the inexperienced Yaya Sanogo in a Champions League first leg against Bayern. On his return to the first team, he bagged a brace against Sunderland while Rosicky scored a goal that was reminiscent of Wilshere’s strike in October.

February Goal of the Month

Tomas Rosicky against Sunderland: A well executed team move was deservedly rounded up by Rosicky as he latched on to Giroud’s pass to perform a delicate over Mannone.

February Save of the Month

Wojciech Szczesny against Bayern: Shortly before his sending off for a foul on light feathered Arjen Robben, Szczesny made a magnificent save from a Toni Kroos shot.

February Player of the Month

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: The Ox had suffered a knee injury in August that sidelined him for months but he picked some form in February and scored a well-taken brace against Crystal Palace.

MARCH

The horrid month of March began with a defeat to Stoke that saw the Gunners relinquish their stronghold on the Premier League. An FA Cup win over Everton was marred by being knocked out from the Champions League after the damage had been done in the first leg. A third win over Tottenham in the season was followed with a horrifying 6-0 decimation in the hands of Chelsea. Two draws followed that to crown a horrible month for the Gunners.

March Match of the Month

Tottenham 0 Arsenal 1 (Rosicky):

All it took was a brilliant Rosicky finish early on to settle the contest at White Hart Lane. Then there was time for that selfie that went viral.

March Goal of the Month

Tomas Rosicky against Tottenham: Little Mozart raced to the ball and unleashed an unstoppable volley that darted past Lloris with consummate ease.

March Save of the Month

Lukasz Fabianski against Bayern Munich: With Szczesny getting a red card in the first leg, it was a classic case of deja vu as Fabianski found himself at the Allainz Arena again serving as the custodian between the sticks. He must have been disappointed to see Bastian Schweinsteiger’s shot go in but at least he can take some solace in the fact that he stopped Thomas Muller’s penalty.

March Player of the Month

Tomas Rosicky: In a relatively poor month for the Gunners, Rosicky was one of those players that stood out from the crowd.

APRIL

Like March, April started on he wrong foot as the Gunners were swept aside be a rampant Everton and they were usurped from fourth place, albiet temporarily. From there on the Gunners recorded recorded routine wins over West Ham, Hull and Newcastle before requiring penalties to win Wigan in the FA Cup semis.

April Match of the Month

Arsenal 1 Wigan 1 (Mertesacker): With the Latics beating Manchester City, they were in giant killing mood and they were just eight minutes away from another FA Cup final. However, Per Mertesacker got the equalizer that sent his team into extra time before Fabianski’s heroics put him on the spotlight.

April Goal of the Month

Giroud against West Ham: Thomas Vermaelen launched a ball into orbit and it was controlled magnificently by Giroud before blasting the ball through the keeper’s legs.

April Save of the Month

Lukasz Fabianski against Wigan: With the Gunners relying on the lottery of a penalty shootout to get to the FA Cup final, the penalty takers did their jobs superbly and Fabianski did his.

April Player of the Month

Lukas Podolski: The German had been on the fringes but he was getting a decent run out in the team and he rewarded his manager’s faith with four goals.

MAY

Unlike the previous season where the Gunners went into the month of May looking over their backs to see Tottenham breathing down their necks, Everton’s shortcomings made the final league fixtures have a pre-season feel about them but the Gunners still beat West Brom and Norwich anyway. However, the game of the season was at Wembley and the Gunners came from two nil down to win 3-2. That’s how to win a Cup final.

May Match of the Month

Arsenal 3 Hull 2 (Cazorla, Koscielny, Ramsey): With Hull shockingly scoring two goals in the opening stages of the game, an upset looked on the cards but goals from Cazorla, Koscielny and Ramsey helped Arsenal win their first trophy in nine years. The parade of 250,000 fans showed how much the trophy meant to the fans.

May Goal of the Month

Aaron Ramsey against NorwichJust when we thought that the game was turning out into a stalemate, Giroud dinked a cross to the far post and Arsenal’s knight in shining armor, Aaron Ramsey, picked his spot and fired a sumptuous volley that gave Ruddy no chance in Hell.

DistinctGivingAmurratsnake What a hit! Aaron Ramsey scores fantastic volley for Arsenal at Norwich [GIF + Vine]

May Save of the Month

Lukasz Fabianski against Hull: Conceding those early goals must have hurt Fabianski’s confidence but as the game progressed, he asserted his dominance. He showed his good concentration levels when he dived to smother Sone Aluko’s fierce drive at goal.

May Player of the Month

Aaron Ramsey: Saved his best for last and stepped up when Arsenal needed him the most. The goal that secured the FA Cup final. Priceless.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

This was certainly a season we’ll struggle to forget. We had a near miss in the Premier League but at least, there was Cup glory at long last!

My 2012/13 End of Season Awards come up next

Sayonara

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UEFA Champions League: Bold Predictions for the UCL Semis

 

Just before the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal draws were made, I published an article on some bold predictions for the last eight and there’s nothing cooler than seeing your predictions work out. I had stated that;

  • Two Teams from the Same Nationality Would Lock Horns – Yup, there was a clash between Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona, two teams from the same nation. 
  • The Ibrahimovic – C. Ronaldo – Diego Costa Golazo Fest Would Continue – Cristiano Ronaldo got in on the scoring act but injuries plighted Zlatan and Diego Costa’s chances of getting on the score sheet.
  • Atletico Madrid Would Cruise to the Semifinals – The Red and White Dark Horses surprised everyone in the football world with a two-legged victory over juggernauts, Barcelona, but I wasn’t perturbed cuz’ I said so. 
  • A ‘Big’ Team Would be Dumped Out - If FC Barcelona is your definition of “big”, then you’re correct. :D
  • End of the Line for Manchester United – Of course, they never stood a chance with the defending champions.

The draws for the semifinals coming up soon and the road to Lisbon is getting closer with each passing game. Gooner Daily has decided to take a tentacle from Paul the Octopus to make a couple of predictions ahead of the next phase of Europe’s elite football competition.

Atletico’s Profligacy Will Cost Them a Place in the Finals

David Villa smashed three shots against the woodwork when he played his former employers

In the absence of a clinical forward like Diego Costa through injury, Atletico Madrid needed their next experienced forward, David Villa, to step up in his absence. David Villa had a good game by his standards but he left his shooting boots at home as he missed a hat-trick of chances that smashed the woodwork.

As the game progressed, Atletico found more loopholes in the Barcelona defense but their poor finishing coupled with Barca’s toothlessness in front of goal saw them book a place in the last four. Against vastly experienced sides like Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, Atletico’s naivety in front of goal could be exposed and they would be brushed aside.

Notwithstanding, they have been the team of the tournament thus far.

Jose Mourinho and his Goons Would Progress to the Finals

As we all know, Jose Mourinho is one hell of a charismatic character and while he can be a massive pain in the ass sometimes, you can’t take nothing away from his tactical acumen.

He had noticed how Eden Hazard had been struggling on the wings right from the kickoff but he took a bold step to replace him in a game of that magnitude with Andre Schurrle. David Moyes on the other hand, saw that Wayne Rooney was clearly struggling at the Allianz Arena but Javier Hernandez and Adnan Januzaj came on for other players while Shrek remained on the pitch.

 

Super Sub

 

I’m not here to laud Mourinho for his tactics because PSG also had chances to kill the game off and they weren’t taken but Mourinho is a coach that knows how to adapt to different game plans and when his team gets drawn against either Bayern, Real Madrid or Atletico, Mourinho would have the edge.

As expected, he would probably park a large bus away then balance the scoreline at home. Bleeeeeeh

There Would be Penalty Shootouts in One of the Fixtures

At the semifinal stage, there would be some tactical battles on and off the pitch. Teams would take cautious approaches over the course of two legs and I’m confident that there would be a fixture that would be settled by the lottery of a penalty shootout.

Let’s just hope that Sergio Ramos won’t be available to shoot another ball that would be launched into orbit if Real Madrid turns out to be among the teams playing in the shootout.

Do you agree with these predictions? Feel free to share yours with your comments.

Sayonara

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