On this week’s review section we marvel at Messi, applaud Apoel and worry for Rangers. You can listen to these and other stories on our weekly podcast and can find explanations of key vocabulary in bold below.
Leo Messi has been featured in the good section on our site on many occasions but after his five-star performance against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League he’s not just good, he’s great. Definitely the best footballer of this generation, and possibly the best ever. It was the first time ever that one player has scored five in Europe’s premier competition. That means the Argentine genius has racked up 42 goals in 37 games in all competitions this season: that’s more than any team in the Premier League, bar the top 5. Simply incredible, especially as you think that those five goals were in a game in the Champions League for a place in the quarter finals, not an end-of-season dead rubber against a mid-table side with nothing to play for.
This week, we’re going to break with tradition and add another good section. Hats off to Cypriot side, Apoel Nicosia, who went through to the last eight in the Champions League on penalties. The second leg in Cyprus finished 1-0 to the hosts, meaning the game went to extra time 1-1 on aggregate. Neither team could break the deadlock, and it was Apoel’s goal keeper, Dionisios Chiotis, who saved two of Lyon’s attempts, who was the hero of the night. This is the furthest any side from the tiny Mediterranean island has ever gone in the Champions League, and in the modern era, where big money and big teams dominate, it was a fantastic result for all of the lesser known teams around Europe. Can they make it to the semi-finals? Doubtful, but for now they can still dream!
The Scottish Premier League champions, Rangers Football Club, already docked 10 points and in administration for financial mismanagement, know find themselves staring down the barrel of liquidation – basically having to stop operating and reapply to the Scottish League as a new club starting in the lowest league. Claims of secret payments to players, the Scottish FA, hidden contracts to avoid tax, and other irregularities are being investigated as the club struggles to pay its staff and keep afloat. Many people think the club is too big to be allowed to fail, but the future is not looking good at all for the Champions of Scotland.
rack up: collect, score, accumulate
dead rubber: a game that has no affect on either team in a competition; a game with no meaning
hats off: congratulations, well done
break the deadlock: when one team scores a goal to take the lead
dock: take money/points off; fine; punish by subtracting points
stare down the barrel: face disaster; be close to disaster
keep afloat: survive; keep going