Juande Ramos, ex-Tottenham coach, starts his new job at Real Madrid – what a step up that is by the way – with a win against Zenit St. Petersburg in the Champions League. 3-0 was the score and he’ll be hoping for more when he takes his side to the Camp Nou to face arch-rivals Barcelona in the Clasico in la Liga.
Good too for English League Two side Gillingham who have booked a place into the third round of the FA Cup after beating Stockport and land a great tie against Premier league side Aston Villa.
Congratulations to Sao Paolo who are the champions of Brazil for an unprecedented third consecutive year after beating Goias 1-0 in the last game of an exciting season. This is the sixth title for the club – a record – and this despite losing many of their best players to Europe. Well done to coach Ramalho who becomes only the second ever boss to win three titles in a row. His next goal? The Copa Libertadores. Staying in Sao Paolo, well done to Corinthians after they were promoted to the top division after last year’s relegation. They have also signed former Brazilian great Ronaldo so good times ahead for the two fallen giants.
The end of the season in Brazil was not so good however for the two teams who compete in the biggest derby match in that country, Flamengo and Vasco da Gama. Flamengo, after a bright start to the league finished 5th to miss out on a Copa Libertadores spot and then fired their coach. Vasco, meanwhile, lost 2-0 at home to Vitoria and are relegated. Bad news for the Rio clubs.
The Champions League ‘knockout stage’ the last sixteen and the stupidity of not allowing sides from the same country to face each other in the draw. The only reason UEFA has this rule is, say, if Chelsea and Manchester United were drawn together and Arsenal versus Liverpool, the obvious question would become even more blatant. Why have three or four teams from the same league every year making it to the Champions League. it’s a farce really. The Champions and one of the domestic cup winners only please!
Touted as the best competition in the world the Champions League is in need of a revamp after the final set of 16 matches from the 8 groups had only two games that had any real significance. Clubs did not pick their best players, managers said they did not care (e.g. Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger) and fans did not bother to turn up. Pretty bad.
Despite no one really caring about the final round of group matches in the Champions League it seems that no one told Wayne Rooney the Manchester United forward who spent much of the game against Danish side Aalburg trying to hurt the opposing players. Elbows, off-the ball stamps and flying kicks formed part of Rooney’s repertoire yet the French referee turned a blind eye to it all. Maybe he didn’t care about the Champions League either.
A Newcastle fan, Barry Norman Hutchinson, 49, escapes being banned from attending football games after being found guilty of racist chants directed at Middlesbrough’s striker Mido. Ugly decision from the court.