Champions League action this week dominates the news, but there was also a bit of fighting on the football pitches of the world! Click on the links below to find out more on all of these stories. Explanations of key vocabulary (in bold) can be found at the foot of the page.
English clubs in the Champions League got off to a good start. The four teams didn’t concede a goal and three, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool beat their opponents 1-0. Liverpool’s one goal, scored by Yossi Benayoun with a header from the six yard line, is a crucial away goal and they will be happy they put an end to Real Madrid’s 9 game league winning run. Drogba seems to be finding his form again for Chelsea under their new manager Hiddink as he found the net for the Blues. Arsenal were more impressive than their London rivals but didn’t capitalise on their chances. The last of England’s four teams, Manchester United, didn’t score, but none the less looked strong and perhaps should have beaten Inter away in the San Siro stadium.
Still in the Champions League, an away goal for Liverpool, but five for Bayern Munich who hammered Sporting of Portugal. The German giants and their coach Jurgan Kilnnsmann have been under pressure after a run of poor results including a loss to Cologne before their tie against Sporting. Impressive displays by Ribery and Luca Toni, they each scored twice, will relieve some of the pressure for Damian’s Champions League dark horses.
Barcelona, flying high at the top of La Liga, were brought down to earth by Espanyol, propping up the rest of la Liga at the bottom of the table, in last weekend’s derby. Not only did Espanyol beat their cross town rivals 2-1, they did it at the Nou Camp. Ivan de la Pena, a former Barcelona player, netted both goals for Espanyol – the second after some comedy goal keeping. This was sweet revenge for last Septembers loss at home. Barca are still seven points clear of Real Madrid, but the loss has given Madrid hope and they refuse to throw in the towel, believing they can catch the Catalans.
Man City, Aston Villa and Spurs all play tonight in the second leg of the UEFA Cup last 32. Do you know who their opponents are? How about what the scores are after the first leg? Very few football fans actually do. My bad this week then is the slow, painful demise of a once great European competition, the UEFA Cup. With Champions League dominating European football this week its poor cousin the UEFA Cup lumbers on with little interest from fans, major TV companies or even the clubs themselves. The three English teams mentioned before are all going to play a weakened squad as their managers’ priorities lie elsewhere. There is room for a second-tier European competition but unless there are some real changes – the number of teams needs to be reduced, matches should not coincide with Champions League fixtures, more prize money should be given, a Champions League spot should be awarded to the winners and the ridiculous rule about players being cup-tied should all be changed – then rumours of the UEFA Cup’s death will not be an exaggeration.
Things got ugly in the Rio Grande do Sul championship in Brazil between Brasil and Ulbra when a mass brawl erupted after an Ulbra player went to celebrate his team’s fifth goal in front of the opposing fans. Seven (or six, depending on who you believe) players were sent off as players kicked and punched each other before riot police moved in – watch it here. Entertaining but ugly.
My ugly this week comes from the Spanish League and the match between Deportivo de la Coruna and Valencia which ended in a 1-1 draw. The Spanish press described this as a ‘heated‘ affair but Valencia had eight different players yellow carded and also had David Villa sent off. Just for the record here is the list: Alexis, Joaquin, Villa, Silva, Baraja, Cesar, Marchena and Michel. Either a lack of discipline on behalf of Valencia or some ridiculous refereeing. After living in Spain for so long, my money is on the latter.
Here are some of the words from the good, the bad and the ugly section from this week’s show. You can download the podcast here.
Concede: to admit defeat
Capitalise: to make the most of, to take advantage of
Relieve: to lessen, to reduce
Fly high: to be doing well, to have strong results, be top of the league, be successful
Prop up: support from the bottom (in football to be bottom of the league, to be last in the division)
Comedy goal keeping: bad goalkeeping (it will make you laugh); also ‘comedy defending‘
Demise: the end of, the failure of, the death of
Lumber on: walk in an awkward way, like a zombie, walk heavily
Priority: most important thing, primary issue
Cup-tied: If you are ‘cup-tied’, you cannot play in a cup competition. This often happens to players who move from one club to another
Heated: angry, full of emotion, sometimes violent