Barcelona Stamp Their Authority On Shaktar

Barcelona, (short of a second leg collapse for both) effectively set up a mouthwatering Champions League Semi Final Clash with bitter rivals Real Madrid following a sublime display against Ukranian side Shaktar Donesk last night.

Final Score Barcelona 5-1 Shaktar Donesk

Attendance: 86,847

Andres Iniesta was in inspirational form scoring the first and then setting up Danny Alves for the second, which effectively ended the tie after 34 minutes. Central defender Pique made the score 3-0 early in the second half, and although Rakitskiy briefly gave Shaktar a glimmer of hope, further goals from Keita on the hour mark and a late strike from Xavi secured a comfortable 5-1 win for the Catalonians.

Make no mistake Shaktar are a very good side and this display by Barcelona points to the theory that we might be looking at the finest club side ever esembled. All we can say is bring on Madrid who with the self proclaimed “Special One” Jose Mouriniho in charge might just ensure we get a competative game.

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Champions League Semi Final Draw Not Kind to The British Clubs

The Champions League Semi Final draw has paired Britains best hopes Chelsea & Manchester United guaranteeing an English presence in the last 4, but probably dashing any hope of an al English final. The final 8 are comprised of 3 English Clubs, 2 Spanish, and one each from Italy, Germany and the Ukraine.

Looking at the ties objectively we expect the final four to comnprise Inter Milan, Barcelona, Real Madrid & Chelsea, although with teams of this quality anything can happen and some exciting football looks instore.

The Ties: 

Inter Milan v Schalke 04
Real Madrid v Tottenham
Barcelona v Shakhtar Donetsk
Chelsea v Man Utd

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Shakhtar Donetsk into Champions League Last 8

Shakhtar Donetsk made it into the last 8 of the Champions League for the first time last night with a comfortable 3-0 win over for a 6-2 aggregate scoreline. Shakhtar lookeda little edgy early and it was not until Hubschman put them ahead after 18 minute thatb the seemed to gain their composure.

There after the result was never really in doubt and ironically it was an ex Arsenal player Eduardo who wrapped up the scoring on a night where the need to win your group was clearly evidenced. Shaktar surprisingly won their qualifying group ahead of the Gunners and so avoided Barcelona. On this performance its hard to see them priogress any further, however the Ukranians will give a good account of themselves whoever they end up playing.

Attendance 47,000

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Champions League Round Up Part 1

Wappen of Schalke 04
Image via Wikipedia

We now know Thirteen of the last 16 in this years Champions League who are :

Tottenham Hotspur who qualified a group winners with some very impressive attacking displays. Gareth Bale has come of age in this competition and with a kind draw a Quarter Final place is a distinct possibility.

Inter Milan will be disappointed at finishing runners up and it is clear to see that Rafeal Benitez’s lack of management skills was no flash in the pan at Liverpool as he has taken charge of last seasons Treble winners and managed to make them look pretty ordinary. Anything is possible but on last nights performance its impossible to see them defending their crown, or for Benitez to keep his job for that matter.

Schalke 04 won a fairly weak group B thanks to a good win in Benfica. They have scored a few goals and could pose problems but they could struggle in the last 16 if they don’t get a very kind draw. Still this has been a great achievement for one of Germany’s lesser known clubs; Schalke have not won their domestic title since 1958.

Lyon finished runners up and look like one of the teams every group winner will be hoping to get. They don’t look anywhere near as good as their sides of recent seasons and will probably be focusing on the French League after the knock out stages.

Manchester United cruised through with the minimum of fuss with 4 wins and 2 draws in their 6 games. Nobody will fancy drawing them in the knockout round.

Valencia finished second almost by default given the groups structure. They look sharp and no one will fancy meeting them in the knockouts.

Barcelona as expected qualified with the minimum of fuss drawing a couple of games but overall never really looking extended. They are justifiably one of the favourites and look destined for the last 8 at least.

FC Copenhagen have the honour of becoming the first Danish side to reach the last 16 of the Champions League and showed when holding Barcelona to a 1-1 draw that they are capable of giving anyone a game on their day. Its hard to see them progressing to the last 8 although if they were to draw Schalke 04 or possibly Shaktar then it could be close. Anyone else and they will bow out having probably exceeded their own expectations.

Bayern Munich, last seasons beaten finalists have qualified with a game to spare admittedly from an easy looking group. They will be hoping for one of the weaker second place teams as they attempt to go one better this year.

Chelsea have strolled through their group winning all 5 matches so far and  have racked up an impressive 14-3 goal difference in the process. Tonight’s match against Marseille is somewhat academic give both  have qualified and Chelsea are guaranteed top spot.

Marseille are guaranteed second spot and after a slightly shaky start look quite good. No one will looking forward to facing them in the last 16.

Real Madrid were second seeds and have comfortably qualified from what looked like a group of death. They have made it look kind of easy and the self proclaimed Special One Jose Mourinio could be on his way to the Final again. He could now face his old side Inter Milan in the last 16 which would be quite a spectacle.

AC Milan have also qualified with a game to spare and although they were clearly second best to Real Madrid they cant be written off. Some poor group winner will be unlucky enough to draw them and that could end their campaign. Hopefully it will not be one of the English clubs.

Group H is still wide open although Arsenal & Shakhtar Donetsk should fill the final two places barring an unthinkable set of results. The unlucky team will be FC Braga who have improved as the group went on and with this experience under their belts they could go a long way in the Europa League.

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Old Boy Eduardo sinks Arsenal in The Ukraine

Arsenal failed to clinch a place in the last 16 of the Champions League last night after Eduardo’s goal proved enough to give Shakhtar Donetsk a 2-1 win. It looked like Arsenal would break Shakhtar’s long unbeaten home record with some ease after Walcott struck after 10 minutes, however from then on Shakhtar looked the better team and it was left to one time Gunners hero Eduardo to grab the winner late in the first half.

This was a much under strength Arsenal team and they can sew up their last 16 place with a point away to Braga in their next match.

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