Archive for the ‘Champions’ League’ Category

Ecstasy and the Cesspool

Posted: August 29, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Attack, Barcelona, Champions' League, Chelsea, Essien, Rants, Torres
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Pain is a horrible thing.

Moscow 2008. Pain.

Torres at some points last season. Pain.

Essien’s recurring injury problems. Pain.

But with pain arises progress.

We won the Champions League. We are Champions of Europe. Say it again to yourself, it’s true. Nobody can take that away from you. It’s not an opinion, it’s a fact.

Torres is trying harder than ever during games and seems to be on the brink of recapturing his old form.

Essien, well, it may not be as positive for him at the moment but I’d still love to think that he could regain match fitness and become a crucial part of the team regardless of how difficult that could turn out to be.

I think some of the players at Chelsea may have realised that if they work hard, it will pay off…eventually.

Maybe it was destiny that we won the Champions League but there is still a lot of preparation and training to endure to beat teams like Barcelona and Bayern Munich, in their own back garden.

I still struggle to grasp the fact that we are indeed Champions of Europe. Maybe one day it will hit me fully when I least expect it?

There are bigger things to come as well. Hazard, Marin, Oscar, Moses. Signings that heavily indicate attacking football. Parking the bus may become a thing of the past, even though it is extremely successful if utilised in the correct way.

Things may be going well now. 9 points out of 9 and slick football to name a few positives but they won’t always be this way, as many of you will already know.

What is my point in all this?

My point is this: there are folks out there who are quick to judge, quick to accuse, quick to point the finger, and quite frankly it’s disgusting. Are you a fan or a supporter?

It is important not to be drawn into constant negativity towards the club when things on the pitch may go a bit off the tracks. Because the chances are, things will pick up again (unless you’re Liverpool, maybe). Booing your own players will achieve nothing.
In general though, things are looking excellent, there is plenty to look forward to. Just be wary and watchful. Keep the faith.

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Relive The Champions League Final

Posted: August 28, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Cech, Champions' League, Video

19th May 2012. A date none us will forget. Here is a video compiled by Burn Lamche (who you can follow on Twitter @BurnLamche) to bring back all those memories. Enjoy.

 

 

Thank you to Burn for the video.

There has been a lot of talk amongst Chelsea fans concerning the price of Champions League tickets. The current price to watch the blues at Stamford Bridge in Europe’s most prestigious tournament is £40 (plus a £1.50 booking fee). This is an increase of £10 when compared to last year. There has been talk of fans boycotting the home game vs Genk to show the club that they are not happy with the price.

Last season Chelsea played FC Copenhagen in the first knock out round. The blues had already won the first leg 2-0 against the less than glamorous side. The price of the ticket was around £50, which left lots of regular fans to decide whether to pay for a ticket or just watch the game at home for free. The issue was raised at the official Fan’s Forum and the results of a survey by the Chelsea Supporters’ Group showed that 69% of the 226 respondents weren’t going to the Copenhagen game. Of those, 96 weren’t going because of the price, but 87% would attend if the previous seasons prices had applied.

Many would argue that the club don’t care about the fans that regularly attend as there will always be other fans who would buy a ticket. This is a money making business and Chelsea is one of the hottest tickets in town. Now, if the Genk boycott does go ahead it will be interesting to see if it has any impact on the attendance. I am highlighting this point based on the crowd size of the Bayer Leverkusen game, which was 33,820.

For those of you unfamiliar with Chelsea’s average attendance, it is above 40,000. So how does last night’s attendance rank since Roman Abramovich took over in 2003? Well, the answer is that only 6 other home games have produced a lower turnout.  It is the lowest attendance for four years, since the blues hosted Rosenborg on the 18th September 2007 (24,973), or better known as Jose Mourinho’s last game in charge.

The only games that have had a lower attendance than the Bayer Leverkusen game have been in the Champions League.

The clever pricing of the League Cup games at £25 each has proven popular, and only 2 of the last 12 games have seen a crowd of less than 40,00 (vs QPR and Notts County). Even the FA Cup ticket prices of £30 have produced multiple sell outs. All 18 FA Cup games played at home since the 2004/05 have seen an attendance in excess of 40,000.

So, will the club panic after looking at the size of the crowd? Based on this evidence I very much doubt it. A game with 40,000 fans paying £30 a ticket brings in £1.2m. The Bayer Leverkusen game of 33,000 fans paying £40 brought in £1.32m. (This is an average price, which does not include concessions, but does also not factor in money spent in the bars/restaurant and club shops at the ground which brings in extra revenue).

So, is the difference income worth the bad name the club may get as well as alienating fans? The Genk game will be interesting to see if the boycott has any affect on future ticket pricing policies.

What do you think?

If you liked this article then follow me on Twitter: @ChelseaChadder

There are shades of Arjen Robben, who scored 15 goals in 67 matches for Chelsea, in the Blues’ new boy Juan Mata. The Spanish 2010 World Cup winner also scored on debut in Chelsea’s 3-1 home win against Norwich. Mata came on in the second half to add some excitement to what was rather a dull first half by Chelsea, bar Jose Bosingwa’s fifth minute goal. There’s no doubt about Mata being a regular at Chelsea after the dream debut, that player is the real No. 10 (I apologise to Yossi Benayoun, who I think is a good player, but just hasn’t done enough at Stamford Bridge). There will be question marks for the next two league games, and some cup matches, as to who has to sit out to accommodate Mata.

Florent Malouda made way against Norwich, but a more permanent replacement needs to be made. But before dwelling on how we fared in our third Premier League match, let me explore a little bit why Mata reminds me of Robben. Yes, they are both left-footed and are very creative. Mata won the World Cup with Spain, and Robben was at Soccer City in South Africa as well playing for the Netherlands, who lost 1-0 after an extra-time goal from Andres Iniesta. Mata scored 10 goals for former club Valencia last season and we all know that Robben was a 10 goals a season kind of player. So, with this we say hello to creativity and have to confront Frank Lampard to say: something is missing Frank. Had it not been for manager Andres Villas-Boas ‘brave’ decision to pull off Malouda for Mata, Chelsea might have been in trouble against Norwich.

Mata is certainly the kind of player we need and it’s even more exciting to learn that he snubbed both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs to sign a five-year contract with Chelsea. Being able to play as a left midfielder or winger, and even just behind the front men, is an added advantage to see us win the Premier League at the end of the season. It’s early days and I for one don’t want to punt him up as the next best thing at Stamford Bridge, but we all have to admit, he looks a sure bet to help us to success.

This is what the coach thinks about our new man, who faces his former teammates in the European Champions League after Chelsea were pitted against Valencia in the group stages.

Villas Boas: I think all the players are creative, they just express themselves in different ways. Mata is different from other players, and found some good spaces today [against Norwich]. For a player with only two training sessions he showed some quickness.

Villas-Boas’ major headache: If we do indeed get Luka Modric in the final hour of the transfer window, picking his midfield players on match day could turn into a nightmare for the manager. But for now let’s say Modric will stay at Spurs. Then Villas-Boas is still left to making a final decision – possibly on the eve of a big match – on who to bench to make space for Mata. He can play where Lampard and Malouda usually operate. And his best days are still to come at Stamford Bridge. But this is good for rotation. With the FA Cup, Champions League and Premier League matches still to be played, we certainly look to have enough depth to get positive results.

There’s also been criticism about playing John Obi Mikel and Ramires in the starting line-up. Although Ramires can make daunting runs and get us in scoring positions, he can be a bit too defensive – then playing the same type of style as Mikel.

Our manager has some tough decisions to make.

With the new season drawing near, we are all 100% focussed on the Premier League, THE most important trophy to win in my humble opinion. However, there has been a long standing elephant in the room, with two very big ears – The Champions League. Fleet Street’s finest (if there’s such a thing) claim it’s an obsession whilst the players play it down somewhat. We know however, that deep down, the likes of JT, Lampard, Drogba and Ashley Cole will forever regret it if they don’t win this famous trophy.

Fans of other clubs say Chelsea will never be seen as a top club until we have won it, and we all know that Roman has his eyes firmly set on this particular prize. So what are our chances this year? I have picked a handful of teams that I feel will challenge for the title and given my thoughts on how they will fare.

Barcelona:

No better place to start than the champions. Play the most attractive football in the world? Yes. Full of world class players including in my opinion the best ever? Yes. Possibly the best team of our generation? Yes. Can they be stopped? YES.

As good as they are, and as deserving as they are to be the European champions, I think they will come unstuck this season in Europe. I predict they will do well and advance to the semi-final stage before losing over two legs to one of these three teams….

Manchester United:

Yes, they were totally outplayed in last year’s final by the Catalan giants. But I just have a sneaking suspicion that if they are paired up (over two legs) again this year, it will be a different outcome. I feel Man United were a game changing player short of brilliant last season. Rooney may be an outlet but can’t be relied on all the time in every big game. If United secure the services of Dutch magician Wesley Sneijder, then I think he is the added impetus needed to tilt a big game in their favour.

From back to front they are strong but just lack that creative genius in midfield to take them up a level. Added to the fact that Fergie rarely loses to the same team three times in a row (not including the meaningless pre-season friendly), I think United could surprise a few people.

Chelsea:

A poor showing over the last two years by their usually high standards from Chelsea in Europe’s elite competition – Chelsea will be extra motivated this season I suspect. Why? Well as I mentioned, the backbone of Chelsea’s team won’t have many more chances to land the only prize which has eluded them thus far, added to the fact that AVB is a master of the art of motivation and team spirit.

We know Chelsea have the pedigree and the ability to beat Barcelona over two legs, we just need that little bit of luck (or cheating) to go our way this time. I believe we will win it this year; my only worry is if we draw man City over two legs – it’ll remind me of when we beat Arsenal at Highbury in 04.

Real Madrid:

Jose is a very quick learner. Like Fergie, he doesn’t lose to the same team too many times. The last four El Classico’s ended in a win each and two draws – compared to the 5-0 drubbing previous to that…is he turning the tide in the head to heads? Add Nuri Sahin to their squad and possibly Neymar in January and we are looking at a serious squad of players. I think they’ll be well groomed into the Mourinho ethos this season and will not be such a pushover as they were earlier last season.

Barcelona are clear favourites, no doubt, and Guardiola will like to finish with a bang at the Camp Nou this season if the reports of him leaving are to be true. Mourinho is Mourinho and we know Fergie loves this competition. But there’s a new kid on the block now, and wouldn’t it be one hell of an achievement if he wins this competition at his first attempt (Remind you of anyone?).

Just to get the monkey off our backs, let’s win it this season boys!

With Andre Villas-Boas poised to take the reins at Chelsea, I have decided to look at a number of factors which willdetermine whether he will be a success or not. Of course results and trophies will be the determining factor, but there may well be a few underlying issues that have to go the young prodigy’s way if he is to fill the trophy cabinet and avoid Roman’s wrath.

Coaching Ability

With some of the egos at Chelsea, they may not look too favourably at a 33 year old former scout becoming their new boss. At the end of the day, this guy used to hand out scouting DVD’s to them under Mourinho , he’s the same age as Drogba and Lampard – now he’s their manager. However, I believe that he will be given a chance to win them over and I think within a matter of weeks this will be achieved. By all accounts, Villas-Boas has revolutionary training regimes which will keep the top players motivated and most importantly entertained.

Philosophies

Villas-Boas is an excellent communicator who will get his points across without anything being lost in translation, something that perhaps Ancelotti struggled with after Wilkins got the chop. He will also be an ally to the Brazilian players who are still finding their feet (Luiz and Ramires) and due to the common language will help bring these players on and fulfil their potential. He will have buy-in from all players and they will all understand 100% what is required of them, ensuring a more cohesive and efficient machine on the pitch.

Signings

Chelsea clearly need 2 or 3 signings, regardless of who is going to be manager. Last season with Porto, Villas-Boas played an adapted 4-3-3 formation. Chelsea do not have the players to compliment this formation. Chelsea need to sign a winger (or two) and a creative midfielder to help Villas-Boas replicate his tried and trusted formation. Saying that, I believe this guy has a book of tricks that he can adapt to most situations. He is a student of the game and a real innovator.

Strong Director of Football

This, for me, is perhaps the most important issue. Villas-Boas needs a Director of Football in place who is going to stand side by side with him and buy into his ideas, not another Churchill insurance dog who can’t stop nodding his head when Roman says something… Ooooh yes.

Easier said than done – who will challenge Roman, or more importantly, who does Roman trust and take advice from? All roads seem to point to Guus Hiddink. Now it looks like Hiddink is staying with Turkey but I believe (and hope) he will take over the role after the Euro Qualifiers end in October. He is a strong personality with sway over Roman, and can act as a shield for Villas-Boas should he need him to. Baring in mind that Villas-Boas is still young and effectively learning his trade, Hiddink will be a generous and valuable mentor for the young Portuguese.

At 33 years old and with one full season under his belt, is Villas-Boas a gamble? Well, isn’t every managerial appointment a gamble in some way, nothing is ever certain in this beautiful game…..

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Written by Derek.  You can follow him on Twitter @fattyfoulke

As much as I want the FFW blog to be unbiased, we all have to admit that Liverpool have been a bit down trodden in the past couple of seasons.  Poor league finishes, lack of Champions’ League football and some truly shocking FA and Carling cup results.  But it would seem they are beginning to put all of this behind them, which leads me to say that they will be major title contenders for next season.

Fernando Torres’ transfer to Chelsea seems to have brought a new lease of life back to Liverpool along with that spark that they so sorely missed.  It looked as if a huge weight had been lifted from their shoulders.  £50 million richer, they wasted no time in splashing out on Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll in quick succession; there are also strong rumours that Liverpool will bring in Jordan Henderson and even battle Manchester United for Phil Jones, to join the ranks at Anfield.

What’s more they have also seen fit to promote a few youngsters from their very own youth system.  One could say that everything seems to be on the up for the Merseyside Reds.

Now down to the nitty gritty.  Many will have taken a close eye to Liverpool’s end of season form.  And rightly so.

If their closing spell with 34 points from 18 games had been stretched from the start of the season, Liverpool would have been perched on the same amount of points as Chelsea in second place (71).  That’s just an “if” though.

Luis Suarez has already commented on next season: “We’ve been playing well and I think we’ve been getting into the type of form that we know we’ll have to keep up for a whole season if we want to be title contenders”.  So, it looks like he believes they can battle for the title and gain some silverware.

However Gerrard took a more down to earth approach by saying that as much as he wants to captain Liverpool to some silverware, he “doesn’t want to raise expectations” by saying that such a thing will happen.

All in all, it’s safe to say that after a poor couple of seasons, Liverpool will really push to be major contenders for the Premier League while also simultaneously attempting to get their feet back into the Champions League.  Watch this space.

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This season has been one to forget for many teams but 2011/12’s campaign is looking much more entertaining.

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1. Liverpool’s rebuild:

The implementation of Carroll, Suarez, Henderson and possibly now Clichy could really boost the chances of Liverpool gaining something big this season after two disappointing campaigns in 2009/10 and 2010/11.  Add in Dalglish who brought Blackburn the Premier League in 1995 and we could very well be witnessing a winning formula.

2. Swansea’s hunger to prove themselves:

Being the first Welsh team to face the Premier League, there will no doubt be a huge amount of pressure for the Swansea lads to perform. Talisman midfielder Scott Sinclair could prove the difference between staying up and going back down again.  The loss of a certain Fabio Borini, who is off to Parma, is also something Swansea fans will not want to be thinking about.

3. Arsenal’s ‘potential’ major money moves:

The Gunners have been linked with Benzema, Gervinho and Gary Cahill, but will Arsene splash the cash to try and salvage

that much wanted trophy they’ve been drooling for? If he does, don’t write off Arsenal for winning some sort of major trophy.

4. Chelsea’s £50m project:

The bottom line is that if Chelsea can get the Torres clock ticking, it will be the breath of fresh air that is needed. Add in some creativity for the Spaniard and expect in excess of 20 goals from him next season (More on this over the weekend from George Jennings).

5. City’s squad rotation having qualified for the Champions League

They won the FA Cup last season. Can they improve on that in the 2011/12 season? One factor that could prove difficult is rotating the massive squad that Mancini has at his clutches. He has enough talent in his ranks but whether he can take City from ‘big signings galore’ to a ‘team’ remains to be said.

 

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