Europe’s premier competition moves into the knockout stages, so good news the 16 teams that made it through. Meanwhile Chelsea look shaky in the Premier League….. You can listen to these and other stories on our weekly podcast. Explanations of key vocabulary (in bold) can be found at the foot of the post.
This week saw good news for all the sides going through to the knockout stages of the Champions League. The four teams from England made it, and three – Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea – topped their groups. Joining them will be three teams each from Italy and Spain, including the usual suspects Barcelona, Real Madrid and holders Inter. Two teams made it from France in second place in their groups – Lyon and Marseille. Qualifying to represent the Bundesliga are Shalke and four times winners Bayern Munich. Shaktar Donetsk from Ukraine, who won the UEFA Cup in 2009 will be looking to cause some upsets – as will surprise qualifiers FC Copenhagen from Denmark. Well done to all the teams that qualified and now the business end of the competition begins. One more good – we featured the Brazilian League two weeks ago and can now congratualte Fluminense who won their last game against Guarani 1-0 and are crowned champions!
It’s been an awful few weeks for Chelsea FC from the Premier League. They started the season by crushing opponents for fun – they beat West Brom 6-0, Blackpool 4-0, Wigan 6-0 – and they seemed to be racing away with the title. But recently they have been in a big slump. After they lost to Liverpool 2-0 at the beginning of November and six games ago the London side have only won once, and that was at home 1-0 against Fulham. Mid-table Sunderland and Birmingham have beaten them, and they’ve been held by bottom half teams Everton and Newcastle. A loss this week in the Champions League to Marseille won’t have lifted the mood over Stanford Bridge before their big clash against London rivals Spurs this weekend.
Well on this week’s ugly I am going to feature the chairman of the English Premier League club Newcastle, Mike Ashley who has sensationally sacked his manager, Chris Hughton this week despite the fact that Hughton took the club up from the Championship last season and now has the team in a respectable 12th place in the league. The team has also beaten Aston Villa 5-0; Arsenal away 1-0 and thrashed their arch-rivals Sunderland 5-1 so it seems like a strange decision indeed from the eccentric chairman. To further upset the Geordie fans, he then announced that Hughton’s replacement would be former West Ham and Charlton boss Alan Pardew, hardly a name to set the world alight leaving most fans feeling rather underwhelmed. Poor decision yet again from Ashley as he treated a very decent football man in a very ugly manner indeed.
knockout stage: where teams do not play in a division or group, but play in rounds
the usual suspects: (in this context) teams that are regularly (year after year) in the final stages of the Champions League
the business end: the real (competition), where the serious work is done
for fun : easily, with no effort
be in a slump: see this week’s football phrases post
race away with: build a big lead, look like winning easily
be held: to draw with a team – usually the opposition is a weaker side
Spurs: nickname for Tottenham Hotspur – A Premier League side from London
I am going to feature: To talk about
respectable 12th place: The team are doing fairly well; there are no real worries about their position
arch-rivals: Their big rivals; hated opponents
eccentric: Slightly crazy or mad; always making strange decisions
the Geordie fans: The Newcastle United supporters
to set the world alight: To make everyone feel excited or enthusiastic; a replacement that no one really cares about
feeling rather underwhelmed: Most fans don’t care