Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Biggest Upsets in European Cup/Champions League History

Footballing tournaments such as the World Cup, the European Championships and the UEFA Champions League, formely the European Cup always leave open a window of opportunity for improbable results to become possible. In the case of the Champions League/European Cup, it’s a much more unpredictable tournament than you might think, despite the best teams in the world squaring off against some of Europe’s minnows. However, results in this tournament have never been particularly cut and dry. In this list, I will be looking at some of the biggest upsets seen in the tournament’s history, both in its current and previous format

Some of these matches involved teams overcoming almost insurmountable deficits to progress to the next round, while other matches were Champions League finals that involved teams having to go to the penalty shootout to decide the winner – at least once after a thrilling lead was cancelled out by the time the 90 minutes were up.

Barcelona 0-0 Steaua Bucharest (Steaua Bucharest won 2-0 on penalties, European Cup Final, 1986)

Steaua became the first Eastern European side to win the European Cup in 1986, as they produced a remarkable victory over the Spanish La Liga champions Barcelona, who enjoyed tremendous support with the final being played in Seville. It is very unlikely that you will see a Romanian side win the biggest prize in European club football again.
Steaua Bucharest defeated the odds and a much stronger Barcelona side managed by Terry Venables. The game itself was dull, with the favourites doing all the attacking and the underdogs playing for penalties from the start.
The Romanian side benefited hugely from the heroics of goalkeeper Helmuth Duckadam, who followed keeping a clean sheet in the match, by going on to save all four of Barcelona's penalties to help win the cup, and a result he was known as the ‘Hero of Seville.’
Steaua, who had not previously triumphed in any European competition, went on to claim the Super Cup later that year, while they finished as runners-up to AC Milan in the European Cup in 1989.

Chelsea 4-1 Napoli (2nd leg, Champions League, round of 16, 2011/2012)

File:Chelsea FC.svg
Under the brief management of Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea’s hopes in the 2011-12 Champions League looked all but dashed against Napoli of the Serie A, after losing 3-1 to the Italian outfit in the first leg of the Round of 16. However, the second leg at Stamford Bridge would see a dramatically different outcome in favour of the Blues: Didier Drogba and John Terry opened the scoring at 2-0, though Chelsea were again in hot water when Gökhan Inler cut the deficit in half for Napoli in the 55th minute. Luckily for Chelsea, a Frank Lampard penalty and an extra time goal by Branislav Ivanović were enough to complete a dramatic comeback leading up to Chelsea’s eventual Champions League victory that season.

Barcelona 0-4 AC Milan (Champions League Final, 1994)

File:AC Milan.svgA final remembered not just for the surprising scoreline, but for the fantastic quality of an attacking master class by the Milanese. It was only two years earlier that Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona had won the European Cup at Wembley and defenses in La Liga and Europe continued to be terrorized by a lineup boasting players including Romario, Ronald Koeman, Michael Laudrup and Hristo Stoichkov. Milan went into the game in Athens minus suspended defenders Franco Baresi and Bruno Costacurta, as well as long term injury Michael Van Basten, a two-time World Player of the Year.
The Catalans were heavily fancied but Fabio Capello's AC Milan had other plans: two goals from Daniele Massaro in the the first half put the Rossoneri 2-0 up, before Dejan Savićević and Marcel Desailly added two more before the hour mark. It would be enough to see Milan take home the Champions League trophy in style, by what is still the biggest margin of a defeat in a Champions League final. That same season, Milan went on to win their third consecutive Scudetto.

FC Basel 2-1 Manchester United (Champions League, group stage, 2011/2012)

File:FC Basel.pngFC Basel made it into the Champions League round of 16 for only the second time in their history with a stunning 2-1 home win over Manchester United.
It was a result which saw three-time European champions United crash out of the competition at the group stage for only the third time in 17 years.
Needing only a point to knock out Basel and secure their passage into the last 16 from Group C, the Red Devils were the overwhelming favourites and going into the game seemed much more likely to win.
But it all went downhill after Marco Streller put the hosts ahead on nine minutes. United captain Nemanja Vidic went off injured soon after, and the visitors were ultimately made to pay for their wasted chances going forward and vulnerability on the counter-attack, with Alexander Frei putting Basel 2-0 up and out of reach in the 84th minute. Phil Jones put United back in it at 2-1, but it was too little too late for the world football superpower, with Basel securing the most unfancied home win in their history.

Dinamo Tbilisi 3-0 Liverpool (Dinamo Tbilisi won 4-2 on agg: European Cup, first round, 1979/1980)

File:FC Dinamo Tbilisi logo.pngTeams from behind the Iron Curtain were always shrouded in mystery – in previews they were habitually referred to as "the crack Soviet outfit" or "the ruthless Red Army" but no one knew for sure how good they would turn out to be. Would Tbilisi be as nifty as Ferencvaros and Red Star Belgrade had proved when upsetting Liverpool earlier in the decade, albeit before Bob Paisley had elevated the club to a higher level with two European Cup triumphs?
No. They would turn out to be better than anything the English champions had ever encountered. Already in the first leg at Anfield, where the home side had prevailed 2-1, Dinamo had shown flashes of a technical and tactical sophistication that perplexed the hosts. In Tibilisi came the full onslaught.
Liverpool barely slept the night before the match – some 200 Dinamo fans having staged a torchlight parade around their hotel at 4am – but mostly it was Dinamo's rapid passing and jagged running that made them so sluggish. Dinamo made it 1-0 on the night after a moment that should feature permanently in the Match of the Day intro footage: David Kipiani dazzled past Alan Hansen with a piece of trickery that left the acclaimed denouncer of diabolical defending floundering like a drunk in the dark. Ray Clemence diverted the ensuing cross, but only as far as Vladimir Gutsaev, who slammed it into the net. The Georgians' second arrived in the 75th minute when Georgiy Chilaya collected the ball in his own half, slalomed past three opponents and slipped in Ramaz Shengelia, who casually lifted the ball over Clemence to make it 2-0.
Three minutes later came the third after Phil Thompson conceded a penalty and Alexandre Chivadze converted with ease.
Hansen has since said this was the best Liverpool team he ever played in. Kevin Keegan's Hamburg would avenge them in the next round, knocking out Dinamo.

Barcelona 1 Rubin Kazan 2 (Champions League, group stage, 2009/2010)
File:Rubin Kazan Logo.png
The Russians beat defending champions FC Barcelona 2-1 in the Group F game, despite Barca virtually fielding their strongest line-up—with Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andres Iniesta, Yaya Toure, Xavi, Gerard Pique, Dani Alves, Eric Abidal and Victor Valdes all starting for Barca.
Aleksandr Ryazantsev gave the visitors a shock lead after just two minutes, with a stunning 30-yard strike.
Ibrahimovic equalised for Barca just after half-time, and despite the hosts brutally asserting their dominance over their inferior counterparts, it was Rubin Kazan who re-took the lead, with Gokdeniz Karadeniz coolly slotting past Valdes to stun the Camp Nou crowd, and the watching world. Before the game, Rubin Kazan were 22/1 to win.

CSKA Sofia 2-0 Ajax (CSKA Sofia won 2-1 on agg: European Cup, second round, 1973/1974)

File:CSKA Sofia logo.svgAjax had been shocked before – not least in 1960 when they were beaten 4-3 by the Norwegian amateurs Fredrikstad – but those defeats came before they had evolved into the European powerhouse of the early 1970s. This came when they were close to the height of their powers. In 1971, '72 and '73 they had won a hat-trick of European Cups under Rinus Michels and then Istvan Kovacs. Johan Cruyff had departed for Barcelona in the summer of 1973, but this was still the team of Johan Neeskens, Arie Haan, Johnny Rep and Piet Keizer. They had not been beaten in Europe since the defeat to Arsenal in the semi-final of the Fairs Cup in 1969-70. They had won six of the previous eight Dutch Eredivise titles.
CSKA by comparison, despite their domestic success (four back-to-back titles from 1969), had never made an impact on the European scene. They'd reached the European Cup semis in 1967 but in the previous year's European Cup they had been destroyed 6-1 over two legs by the same Ajax side. They'd reached the second round in bizarre circumstances after their second leg with Panathinaikos was replayed after the game had gone to penalties. A Jan Mulder goal gave Ajax a 1-0 victory in the first leg, but that was nullified in Sofia when Dimitar Marashliev scored in the 68th minute.
Extra-time was needed. In the 116th minute, Stefan Mikhailov struck to give the Bulgarians a famous victory and effectively end Ajax's golden era. It was to be 14 years before the once-dominant club won another European title.

Chelsea 2-2 Barcelona (Champions League, quarter-final, 2011/2012)

File:Chelsea FC.svgFollowing the comeback against Napoli, Chelsea faced much more fearsome opponents in Barcelona in the quarterfinals. A 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge courtesy of a Didier Drogba goal was hardly a reassuring lead, and the odds against them keeping their lead at the Nou Camp were small. Furthermore, John Terry would get sent off in the 37th minute, reducing Chelsea to 10 men for the rest of the match. However, Chelsea again caused an upset after Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta put the Blaugrana up 2-0, the game seemed a forgone conclusion, with even some of the Chelsea players clearly thinking the match was beyond their reach.
Even when Ramires levelled just before halftime, still the game seemed out of Chelsea's hands. But after a missed Lionel Messi penalty and a Fernando Torres equaliser, it was the Londoners who had shocked the world and made it through to only their second ever Champions League final.

Real Madrid 1-3 Spartak Moscow (S.Moscow won 3-1 on agg: European Cup, quarter-final, 1990/91)

File:FC Spartak Moscow Logo.pngSpartak went into this match on the back of early round victories over Sparta Prague and Napoli.
Having ground out a 0-0 draw at Spartak Moscow, Real would have been confident of putting the Russians to the sword back in Madrid during the 1990/91 quarter-finals. That confidence would have only been bolstered once Emilio Butragueno had struck on nine minutes, considering it was Los Blancos’ 22nd goal of the tournament.
That lead didn’t last long, though, and Real were behind before half-time. The likes of Hugo Sanchez had no reply and the final word went to Dmitri Radchenko and Valeri Shmarov, who gave the Muscovites a 3-1 win and a ticket to the semis. Unfortunately Spartak lost the semi-final to Marseille, a Club who were very much in their most succesful era of all-time, and included in their team the likes of Basile Boli, Abedi Pelé, Jean-Pierre Papin and Chris Waddle.

Bayern Munich 1 Manchester United 2 (Champions League Final, 1998/1999)
File:Manchester United FC crest.svg
As the Champions League trophy stood decked out with Bayern Munich’s ribbons and with 90 minutes on the clock, the two teams played out the conclusion to a hitherto unremarkable final.
Bayern Munich looked to have done enough to deserve to win the trophy following a first-half Mario Basler free kick which had put them in the lead. With three minutes of injury time remaining on the clock, Manchester United managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with two quick fire goals from Teddy Sheringham and "super sub" Ole Gunnar Solksjaer. The Germans were left stunned in what was to be Peter Schmeichel’s last game between the sticks for United.

AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool (Liverpool won 3-2 on penalties, Champions League Final, 2005)

File:Liverpool FC.svgThe "Miracle of Istanbul", the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final between AC Milan and Liverpool will forever be remembered as one of the greatest finals in world football history.
Almost every football fan knows the tale of this final—played at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul—in which Milan went 3-0 up at halftime.
At that point, it was shaping up to be one of the most one-sided finals ever, with AC Milan playing some of the most beautiful football seen in a Champions League final.
The result seemed a forgone conclusion just 60 seconds into the encounter, when captain Paolo Maldini volleyed home Andrea Pirlo's free-kick cross to put Milan 1-0 up, before a Hernan Crespo brace before halftime seemingly sealed Liverpool's fate.
Even on 54 minutes when Steven Gerrard gave Liverpool a lifeline and scored to make it 3-1, the final result never seemed in doubt. But what happened next changed football history forever.
Given space on the edge of the Milan penalty area, Vladimir Smicer hit a powerful yet hopeful shot which somehow found it's way past the Italian's packed defence and in to the bottom corner past Milan goalkeeper Dida.
With the score at 3-2 and Liverpool now attacking fast and full of hope, nerves got the Milan defence as they conceded a penalty as Gennaro Gattuso fouled Gerrard in the box.
Xabi Alonso stepped up and scored the penalty, putting Liverpool back in the game at 3-3, and, far more remarkably, making AC Milan's certain Champions League win completely crumble in the space of just six minutes.
A penalty shoot-out followed and the comeback was complete with Šmicer, Dietmar Hamann and Djibril Cissé converting for the Reds to win them a fifth European title in one of the greatest comebacks ever seen in the sport.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Greatest Club Dynasties in European History

Every once in a while a special football team comes along which stands out from the rest. Currently, in the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) one could argue it’s Bayern Munich of the Bundesliga. In the past, others have included: The 1991-1992 AC Milan side that went 58 matches unbeaten in Serie A, The ‘Invincibles’ of Arsenal who went 49 games unbeaten and won the 2003-2004 Premier League, the treble winning Manchester United team of 1999 and the treble winning Barcelona team from 2009. These were all great teams and great seasons, but by themselves do not constitute a sports dynasty.

Judging the ‘greatness’ of a club can be a very subjective issue. In the case of the clubs listed here, European success is the primary measurement of a team’s dominance. That said, domestic success, consecutive titles and the duration of the ‘dynasty’ also factor into how a club is ranked and can help break any ties between teams.

Here are a list of some of the greatest football club dynasties to have existed in Europe over the last sixty years:

Bayern Munich 1974-1976

While the current Bayern Munich side look like they are on their way to building a new dynasty, it was the team of the mid-1970s that made the headlines. Coached by Udo Lattek and Dettmar Cramer, Bayern picked up where the great Ajax team of the early 1970s had left off. The squad contained many German International players, notably sweeper Franz Beckenbauer, defender Paul Breitner, strikers Gerd Müller and Uli Hoeness and goalkeeper Sepp Maier. Unlike the other teams on this list, domestically, Bayern Munich were not overly successful during their dynasty period, winning only a single League title. What more than makes up for this are the three consecutive European Cups the club won from 1974 to 1976, beating Atlético Madrid, Leeds United and Saint-Étienne respectively in the Finals. A fifth trophy was added when they won the Intercontinental Cup in 1976. That 1970's generation instilled the winning mentality subsequent squads have aspired to, more often than not with success, and which is once again a trademark of the Bayern squad of the last few years.

  Gerd Müller and Paul Breitner celebrating in 1974

Barcelona 2006-2011

The most current dynasty on this list, Barcelona have become synonymous with European success. The Catalan side enjoyed a period of domestic and European dominance from 2006 to 2011. Coached by Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola, Barcelona claimed four league titles, five domestic cups, five European titles – including three Champions league titles, beating Arsenal and Manchester United twice in the finals – and two FIFA World Club Cups. Both Rijkaard and Guardiola encouraged a free-flowing, attack oriented strategy and the players helping Barca rise to prominence in this period included the likes of Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Samuel Eto’o, Victor Valdes, Gerard Pique, Danni Alves and Carles Puyol.

AC Milan 1988-1994

This Milan dynasty is well known for two reasons; excellent defense and the influence of a Dutch trio of players. Milan’s manager, Arrigo Sacchi, introduced the pressing game to soccer. This defensive method required a team to always attack the ball carrier, challenging the opposition and leaving little room for the opposition player to dribble or pass. This tactic could make it difficult to move the ball upfield and often led to turnovers which were exploited by Sacchi’s team. The team contained the most impressive defence probably ever assembled, a hard-working midfield and flair players up front. The first team was raised to greatness by the trio of Dutchmen namely Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten that had won the 1988 European Championships. By 1994 the team had changed in part, with other high profile signings replacing the original star players but with largely the same defensive foundation. They surpised critics by beating a brilliant Barcelona team 4-0 in the 1994 Champions League Final. Some of the other players to grace the Milan team of this era included: Paulo Maldini, Franco Baresi, Carlo Ancelotti, Alessandro Costacurta, Zvonimir Boban, Dejan Savićević, Demetrio Albertini and Marcel Desailly. With such weaponry at its disposal, this Milan dynasty claimed four league titles, four domestic cups, three European Cups/Champions League titles and two Intercontinental Cups.

                                    Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit in 1989

Ajax 1970-1973

Much of today’s football would not be what it is without the great Ajax side of the early seventies. Coached by the legendary Rinus Michels, the Dutch team introduced the world to the concept of ‘Total Football.’ This revolutionary method of football saw players interchange positions and move around the field in a fluid and seamless manner. Michels left to coach the Dutch national team, where he used the same system and the same core players. His work at Ajax was carried on in 1971 by new manager Ștefan Kovács. Helping implement ‘Total Football’ on the field were players like defender Ruud Krol, midfielders Johan Neeskens and Arnold Mühren and legendary midfielder-forward Johan Cruyff. In the span of just a few years, this team and its philosophy dominated Holland and Europe by winning three league titles, three domestic cups, three consecutive European Cups, beating Panathinaikos, Inter Milan and Juventus in the finals, and one Intercontinental Cup. Success proved Ajax’s downfall as Cruyff and Kovács were lured away by Barcelona and the French National team, respectively, ending the dynasty in 1973. Ajax’s approach to football notably influenced teams like Bayern Munich, Arsenal and Barcelona. 

                                            Cruyff, 1972 European Cup Final in Rotterdam

Liverpool 1977-1985

It is difficult not to put Liverpool in top spot and they only missed out by a narrow margin. From the late seventies to the mid-eighties, Liverpool were a domestic and European powerhouse. Bob Paisley managed the club until 1983 when his assistant Joe Fagan took over. Under their leadership, Liverpool secured four European Cups in 1977, 1978, 1981 and 1984, six League titles and nine domestic cups and trophies. Of course, management alone can not take all the credit, as Liverpool also benefited from the skills of players like Ray Clemence, Alan Hansen, Phil Neal, Emlyn Hughes, Phil Thompson, Graeme Souness, Terry McDermott, Steve Heighway, Kenny Dalglish, Kevin Keegan and Ian Rush. Unfortunately, Liverpool’s dynasty came to a premature end with the Heysel Stadium disaster on 29th May, 1985. Following the death of 39 Juventus fans before the cup final, Liverpool supporters were blamed and UEFA banned all English clubs from European football indefinitely. In the 1991–92 season, Arsenal were the first team to represent England in the European Cup after English teams were allowed back in.

Real Madrid 1955-1960

The first true dynasty of the UEFA era, the Real Madrid team of the late 1950's was one of the best sides to ever take to the pitch. Although the club had a few managers during this period, the two most successful were José Villalonga, who remains to date the youngest coach to win the European Cup in 1956 aged just 36 and Miguel Muñoz, who won three European Cups as a Madrid player, captaining the side on two occasions, before managing them to European glory in 1960. Madrid's 1960 European Cup Final demolition of Eintracht Frankfurt was watched by a crowd of 127,621 at Hampden Park, and their 7-3 victory was considered by many to be one of the finest exhibitions of attacking football ever seen in Britain up to that point. The team of that era was blessed with an array of talent which included the likes of forwards Alfredo di Stéfano and Héctor Rial, midfielders Ferenc Puskás and Raymond Kopa, left-winger Francesco Gento, defenders Marcos Imaz and José Santamaría and goalkeeper Juan Alonso. Such talent has led many to believe that this was the first true Galáctico era in club history. Domestically, Madrid ‘only’ claimed three league titles during this dynasty. On the European stage, however, Los Blancos stood head and shoulders above everyone, winning five consecutive European Cups from 1956 to 1960. After 1960, Madrid’s European dominance faded. By the time another European Cup was won, in 1966, much of the side which had dominated in the late 1950's had been dismantled.

                            Real Madrid celebrate winning the 1956 European Cup Final in Paris

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Babe of the Month - Surf Bunny Alana Blanchard

Alana Rene Blanchard was born 5th March 1990 in Kauai, Hawaii, United States of America and is an American professional surfer and occasional bikini model. Alana, 5ft 8ins surfs on the ASP World Tour and her career earnings to date are $153,825.
Alana is sponsered by Rip Curl, GoPro, Reef, Spy, Channel Islands, Futures, Rockstar and is involved in designing Rip Curl bikinis. She is best friends with fellow surfer Bethany Hamilton, and was present when Hamilton suffered the shark attack that cost her an arm in October 2003.
Alana was played by actress Lorraine Nicholson, daughter of actor Jack Nicholson in the 2011 film Soul Surfer.
Alana currently has her own show, 'Surfer Girl' by Network A, which follows her life in Kauai as a professional surfer and model.

You can follow Alana on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tunblr

Thursday, March 27, 2014

All the latest transfer gossip across Europe!

With the football season entering the final stages of the current season both in England and abroad, and with the World Cup kicking-off in 77 days many clubs are looking ahead to the Summer for potential new signings, as well as the negotiation of new contracts, in order to strengthen their squads for next season. This is being done in many cases without the clubs knowing for sure what league division or competitions they will be playing in next season. Today (Thursday 27th March) is also the last day of the loan window for those clubs wishing to boost their squads now, in a final effort to end their season on a high!

Here is a round up of all the latest transfer gossip across Europe today!

Is your club involved?

Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Southampton, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Fiorentina, Aston Villa, Porto, Zenit St Petersburg, Roma, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Benfica, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Liverpool, St-Etienne, PSG, Juventus, Everton, Dynamo Moscow, Spurs, West Ham, Arsenal, Wolfsburg, Lazio, Dinamo Zagreb, Barcelona, Hamburg, Stoke, Aston Villa, Fulham, Monaco, PSV, Freiburg, Bordeaux, Rennes, Southampton, Valencia, Ipswich, Deportivo La Coruna, Hertha Berlin, Nuremberg, Wigan, Bolton, Nottingham Forest, Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Colchester, Charlton, Watford, MK Dons and Hartlepool..............are all caught up in the latest transfer news/rumours across Europe, as we speak.

Chelsea are keen to sign Atletico Madrid's Spain international striker Diego Costa (right) 25, in a £40m summer deal - Daily Mail and The Sun

Chelsea are in pole position to sign Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa in a £40 million deal this summer. The buy-out clause of the Brazilian striker is about 38 million euros and Blues can offer in the trade also Fernando Torres- Daily Express

Southampton and England left-back Luke Shaw, 18, is a target for Real Madrid, who are confident of beating Chelsea and Manchester United to sign him - Daily Mirror

Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke's future won't be certain until after the World Cup, the 23-year-old Belgium international's agent has claimed - Daily Mirror and

Arsenal reportedly have no plans to offer midfielder Mikel Arteta a contract extension. The 32-year-old, who will only have one year remaining on his current deal at the end of the season, could be surplus to requirements at the Emirates Stadium -

Chelsea have stepped up their bid to convince Atletico Madrid's (on loan from Chelsea) Belgian international goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (right) to sign a new contract and have met with his representatives for more talks -

Manchester City are ready to make a move for Arsenal full-back Bacary Sagna. The French defender is set to become a free agent in the summer when his current contract with the Gunners expires - Daily Mirror

Porto are preparing for the imminent sale of 26 year-old defensive midfielder Fernando to Manchester City - Sport TV (Portugal)

Manchester United are reportedly planning to table a bid for Benfica defender Ezequiel Garay. United are thought to be aiming to agree a fee for the centre-back before this summer's World Cup finals, with Manchester City and Zenit St Petersburg also said to be monitoring the situation - The Mirror

Juventus' Chilean star Arturo Vidal (right) has again played down speculation linking him with a move away from the club, insisting he is happy in Turin. Vidal's future has been the subject of conjecture for some time with the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich all credited with an interest in his services - and

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly preparing to trigger 23 year-old AS Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic's £29m release clause - Le 10 Sport (French sports newspaper)

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers may renew his interest in signing Barcelona full-back Martin Montoya after the Catalan club revealed a £16.5m release clause in his new contract - International Business Times and

Croatian Alen Halilovic (right) has agreed a switch from Dinamo Zagreb to Barcelona. The 17-year-old attacking midfielder will cost Barca an initial 2.2million euros (£1.8m) with add-ons depending on his achievements at the Nou Camp - and

Borussia Dortmund are pondering a move for Spurs defender Vlad Chiriches, 24, who is valued at £8m as Dortmund look to find a replacement for Mats Hummels - The Sun

Aston Villa have decided to prepare a new contract for forward Gabriel Agbonlahor. The 27-year-old only has one year remaining on his current deal. Villa are willing to hand Agbonlahor, who made his debut in 2006, a four-year contract when discussions begin in the summer.
The club are expected to be busy over the next few months, with reports suggesting that both Fabian Delph and Ron Vlaar could put pen to paper on new contracts - The Telegraph

Manchester United's Nani will move to Inter Milan on loan until the summer with an option for a permanent deal - O Jogo (Portuguese daily sport newspaper)

Tottenham are hopeful of beating Liverpool to the signing of exciting Lazio midfielder Ogenyi Onazi (right) at the end of the season - Metro

Chelsea's Demba Ba wants a summer move away from Stamford Bridge, with West Ham interested - Daily Mirror

Arsenal and Liverpool transfer target Jeremy Menez, 26, has hinted that he may join Juventus from Paris St-Germain this summer - L'Equipe (French daily newspaper)

Crystal Palace are weighing up whether to recall Welsh international Jonathan Williams (right) from his loan spell at Ipswich Town. Pulis revealed he watched the 20-year-old score Ipswich's opener during their 2-1 victory over Derby on Tuesday and was impressed -

St-Etienne's Kurt Zouma has decided to join Chelsea but probably only in the summer. However, both sides have still to find an agreement - L'Equipe (French daily newspaper)

Liverpool are eyeing a move for Dynamo Moscow's Hungarian winger Balazs Dzsudzsak in the summer but could face competition from Merseyside rivals Everton - Daily Express

Spurs, Arsenal and Hertha Berlin are all vying for the services of Nuremberg's Switzerland international striker Josip Drmic, 21 (right). The striker would reportedly cost around €5m - Talksport and Bild (German tabloid newspaper)

Tottenham are set to step up their interest in Manchester City defender Micah Richards, who is set to leave the Etihad this summer. There are also claims Liverpool could make a move for Richards amid uncertainty over Glen Johnson's future at Anfield -

Stoke City are keen to sign Wolfsburg's 34-year-old Croatian striker Ivican Olic but could face competition from German club Hamburg - Bild (German tabloid newspaper)

Freiburg defender Fallou Diagne (right) says that clubs from across Europe have expressed an interest in acquiring his services. He claims the likes of Aston Villa, Fulham, Borussia Dortmund, Bordeaux and Rennes are all chasing his signature, and he will make a decision on his future when the summer transfer window opens - Radio station RFM (Bordeaux radio) and The Sun

Juventus are close to signing Dani Osvaldo from Southampton but Valencia are also interested - Gazzetta Dello Sport (Italian sports newspaper)and Corriere Dello Sport (Italian sports newspaper)

20 year-old center back Pablo Insua has extended his deal with Deportivo La Coruna until June 2018 -

Guly do Prado, Jonathan Forte and Lee Barnard look increasingly likely to leave Southampton this summer - The Daily Echo

Ryan Bertrand says he'd be more than happy to consider making his loan move from Chelsea to Aston Villa permanent in the summer - Birmingham Mail

Josh McEachran (right) insists he is loving life at Wigan and would consider a permanent move from Chelsea in the summer - Fulham Chronicle

Monaco boss Claudio Ranieri has said that he feels on-loan Fulham striker Dimitar Berbatov wants to stay at the club past the end of the season - L'Equipe (French daily newspaper)

Fulham's Costa Rican international Bryan Ruiz, who has been on loan at Dutch side PSV Eindhoven since January admits he is unsure as to whether he will return to West London at the end of the season - Nieuwsblad (Belguim newspaper)

Nottingham Forest have confirmed the on-off loan signing of Lee Peltier (right) from Leeds United until the end of the season - and

Bolton have signed 21 year-old midfielder Andy Robinson on loan from Southampton for the remainder of the season - and BBCSport

Sheffield Wednesday boss Stuart Gray has refused to rule out a summer move for Sunderland striker Connor Wickham, 20, who played on loan for the Owls earlier this season - Sheffield Star

Crystal Palace defender Alex Wynter is set to join Colchester today on loan -

Arsenal are keeping a close watch on Charlton's Jordan Cousins - but his only focus is on helping the Addicks avoid the drop - London Evening Standard

Charlton have signed Italian midfielder Davide Petrucci, (right), 22 on loan from Manchester United until the end of the season - South London Press and

Watford defender Lloyd Doyley has penned a 12-month extension to his contract at Vicarage Road and The Hornets have also drafted in former Manchester City and Liverpool winger Albert Riera on a short-term deal -

Everton youngster Matthew Kennedy has joined MK Dons on a youth loan until the end of the season -

Hartlepool boss Colin Cooper has completed a double swoop by landing Sunderland duo Scott Harrison and Connor Oliver both 20,on loan until the end of the season -

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Satirical Look at the Works of AVB - Past and Present!

André Villas-Boas' managerial merry-go-round had temporarily ground to a halt, but don't worry people because my word the Lord loves a tryer, and yes AVB has managed quite literally to get himself re-ememployed after being presented with his most recent P45 only last December.

File:FK Zenit St Peterburg.svgSo as not to disappoint his 'fans' in Coimbra, Porto, West London and North London, and in order to give newspaper writers more column inches he continues to deliver an unrivaled rollercoaster of 'excitement' - this time by taking his mobile home and footballing managerial expertise to Russia. Following a three month sabbatical 'footballing giants' Zenit Saint Petersburg have unveiled AVB as their new manager in what will be the Portuguese's fifth managerial appointment at a fifth different club in as many years, and he is still only 36 years-old himself - quite an achievement!
As the song goes: "I get knocked down, but I get up again, you're never going to keep me down, pissing the night away, pissing the night away.......!"

André Villas-Boas spent eight months as manager of Académica de Coimbra from October 2009 to the Summer of 2010, then one year as manager of Porto where he was very successful, before resigning, and a further nine months as manager of Chelsea before being relieved of his managerial duties.

On 3rd July 2012, it was announced that Villas-Boas had been named as the new Tottenham Hotspur head coach. On 16th December 2013, after 17 months at Tottenham it was announced that Villas-Boas had left the club "by mutual consent" (in layman's terms, he resigned before being fired), and just yesterday he signed a two-year deal with Zenit Saint Petersburg, replacing the sacked, but wonderfully named Luciano Spalletti, who obviously felt that his Italian tenor voice would be appreciated more in a theatrical setting in the Provincia di Firenze than in the dugout at the Petrovsky Stadium in Northern Russia, located at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea.

André Villas-Boas footballing beliefs mean that in his opinion he has the knowledge to redesign a club structure from the top down, using a blueprint derived from footballing first principles. In London this was not possible as he failed to show enough respect for the parameters within which he was working. In a footballing sense, this meant he was intent on imposing a style of play that didn’t account for the strengths of weaknesses of the players at his disposal - 'the opposite of the point of tactics.'
The result was an ongoing montage of Jan Vertonghen and John Terry lying on their back somewhere near the halfway line as an opposition forward(s) raced clear to score.

He failed to appreciate the need to keep the media, fans, and players on side. It’s unfortunate that Chelsea’s players were so resistant to change, and that Spurs’s best striker was such a notoriously difficult character, whilst he was in charge at least. But dealing with these problems is a part of the hugely financially rewarding job.

Roman Abramovich paid Porto £13.3million in compensation in order to appoint Andre Villas-Boas as the man to succeed Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea.
  Leaked: Terry's letter to Abramovich that got AVB sacked!

After his sacking Andre Villas-Boas said he was naïve to try and introduce a new style of play at Chelsea and spoke about how he "should have respected" English football culture after his arrival in the Premier League from Porto.
"Chelsea were a counter-culture team, constructing play from the goalkeeper onwards.
I should have respected that culture from the start. I thought it was possible to establish a different game pattern in a country with a radically different culture."
In otherwards he believed he new best and went into West London all guns blazing in an attempt to completely change a club, that ultimately only needed tinkering with. Did he have to remove his head before walking in and out of any doors or just widen them on his arrival at Stamford Bridge!
At Tottenham his position became untenable not just because of a run of poor performances, which in part was due to his apathetic back-room staff, but AVB also demonstrated a streak of stubbornness that hindered him. His appalling eye for a picking a good player and thus blowing his Gareth Bale transfer budget on what can be best described as a bunch of insipid and at best pretty ordinary players was pivitol. But were they poor players or was he simply unable to manage and motivate them into a single and more effective cohesive unit - square pegs in round holes spring to mind!

Also his failure in controlling popular perceptions of him was central to a huge divide within the club and in particular among the fans. He seemed paranoid about an "agenda" against him by the media, which may have had a hint of truth given some of the things written about him. But he brought this cock and bull situation upon himself by continually sending out mixed messages through post-match conferences and confusing and conflicting interviews.
If the point of the media from a manager's perspective is to communicate his message with the fans, then it is unclear at what AVB was trying to achieve.

So AVB latest venture see's him try and revive the flagging fortunes of another wealthy club, who are having a poor season by their standards, but have a recent history of success. Zenit were the 2007, 2010 and 2011–12 champions of the Russian Premier League, runners-up in 2012-13 and the winners of both the 2007–08 UEFA Cup and the 2008 UEFA Super Cup.

Alexander Valeryevich Dyukov, the President of Zenit is also Chairman of the Management Board of Gazprom Neft, a subsidiary of Gazprom. Gasprom Neft are the fourth largest oil producer in Russia and are amongst one of the largest oil companies in the world by proven reserves.

On 1st January 2007 Gazprom also became the sponsor of the German Bundesliga club Schalke 04 paying up to €25 million a year for the privilege. On 23rd November 2009, the partnership was extended for a further 5 years. The sponsorship is worth $150m (USD) spread over the 5 years.

On 9th July 2010 Gazprom became sponsor of Serbian SuperLiga football club Red Star Belgrade.

On 9th July 2012 Gazprom became sponsor of UEFA Champions League and UEFA Super Cup for three season until 2015.

On 17th July 2012 Gazprom also became the official Global Energy partner of the UEFA Champions League 2012 winners Chelsea for three seasons, lasting until 2015.

According to the BBC: "Mr Villas-Boas will be presented in St Petersburg as Zenit's new head coach on 20th March 2014."

I don't know who has the harder job, Zenit or André Villas-Boas?
Time will tell!

Saturday, March 08, 2014

MY England Squad for the 2014 World Cup.......and why!

With just 96 days to go until the 2014 World Cup Finals kick-off in Sao Paulo, England manager Roy Hodgson is expected to name his provisional 30-man squad - including seven standby players - in mid-May, shortly after the Premier League's conclusion.

The England boss is then scheduled to cut the list down to 23 for the start of June, two weeks before the tournament in Brazil gets under way.

Following this week’s unconvincing performance against a Denmark side that failed to qualify for the finals, the question on the lips of the nations football fans' is who will be selected to represent England at the greatest football show on earth. So what did we learn from Wednesday's narrow win over the Danes.
Not a lot to be fair, but three things in my opinion stood out!

Firstly Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge (right) do not seem able to play together as a front two. To play together Sturridge needs to play as an out and out striker through the middle with Rooney playing behind him or in a deeper position either side. Either way they are both on the plane. Secondly Adam Lallana must go to Brazil and probably deserves a place in the starting XI and thirdly Luke Shaw is a precocious talent, but this tournament has come too soon for the Kingston upon Thames born Southampton youngster.

As fans we all have an opinion, and rightly so! Up and down the country there will be discussions in the workplace, down the pub, on social media sites, as well as an array of articles by numerous newspaper hacks trying to justify their reason as to who and why 'Woy' should choose certain players ahead of others to wear the 'Three Lions' shirt with its single gold star above the crest, dating back 48 years!

Wednesday nights friendly was the penultimate game for England on home soil before the tournament begins in earnest. Three more friendly games stand between now and our opening Group D fixture against Italy in Manaus on 14th June.

Peru are at Wembley at the end of May before the squad fly out to the USA for their final two friendlies in Miami on 4th June and 7th June. However by the time England take to the field at Wembley on the 30th May, Mr Hodgson will, baring injuries, have selected his final squad to take to Brazil.
England without a shadow of doubt need to go into this tournament with a blend of experience and youth. I think Roy should select only seven defenders, freeing up an extra space in midfield or in attack rather than go for cover in every position. In players like Chris Smalling and Phil Jones he has what I would describe as 'multi-functional players.' In otherwards players that may not be first-choice in certain positions, but should they be required they have enough ability to adequately step-in, in this case as potential cover at right-back and at centre-half, plus Jones also possesses enough competence to play in the defensive midfield role as well if necessary. That versatility is extremely useful, and I think that is why they should go to the tournament ahead of the likes of Joleon Lescott or Steven Caulker.

The centre-halves pick themselves in Gary Cahill (right) and Phil Jagielka. The full-back debate however is a tricky one. Kyle Walker and Glenn Johnson are not good enough to both warrant selection so I would go with the Liverpool man, based on experience, which is key in that area. Walker has more pace,and is particularly good at using that pace going forward, but the full-backs primary function; particularly in tournament football is to defend. Johnson shades it for me on that basis. This discussion also applies to the left-back berth.

Leighton Baines is the stand-out player in that position, but should he get injured 15 minutes into the opening game against the 'Azzurri' then the option is the experienced Ashley Cole (107 caps) or the new kid on the block in Luke Shaw (one cap). For me it has to be Cole, despite his age and lack of regular first team action this season for Chelsea.

Shaw is raw but I admit he looks the real deal and I have no doubt he will be first choice right-back at the 2016 European Championships. The 'no to Shaw' debate is sure to upset many, but if I throw the name Joel Ward into the mix you are left with a similar conundrum. The Crystal Palace right-back has arguably been the South London club's player of the season. Superb reader of the game, great ball winner, pacey and another player who loves to bomb forward. The boy has bags of ability but do I think he could cut it at the highest level in the biggest tournament in world football. Possibly, possibly not! Would I take the risk? No I wouldn't and Ward is 24 year-old and has been playing professional football since 2008. Shaw is only 18 and only turned pro in 2012.

Midfield is key! Adam Lallana's form is impossible to ignore and that means players like Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley won't feature this Summer. I would also select Lallana ahead of Adam Johnson too. Granted Johnson has been in superb form in a struggling Sunderland side, but Lallana is a better player. Johnson drifts in and out of games, whereas Lallana always seems to want to take the game to the opposition. Lallana is also comfortable playing out wide or in a central position without it impeding his effectiveness as an attacking prowess.

Steven Gerrard has found a role for both club and country and that suits all concerned. Frank Lampard's experience is vital at a major tournament. At 35 he may struggle to get in the starting XI, but what a great player to have as cover or to bring on should the situation dictate. Not only an asset on the field but he would be invaluable to the youngsters in the squad in and around the training ground and the dressing room. Lampard is a born winner!

I would take Ross Barkley (right) as cover in central midfield, He is adept at playing in a deeper midfield role, should Gerrard or Jack Wilshere breakdown. Both are prone to knocks and niggling re-occurring injuries, so Barkley could feature prominently. I would choose Ross Barkley ahead of James Milner, who for me is far too conservative. I'd also go with Jordan Henderson, who is developing into an exciting young player. It's taken a while but he could be the surprise player in the England camp, as he finally fulfills the promise he showed during his time at Sunderland between 2009 and 2011. I think he is going to have a cracking end to the season at Liverpool — and I think he deserves his place as a squad member, although not necessarily as a starter.

Andros Townsend misses out this time because of his downturn in form and the emergency of others especially Raheem Sterling. England have a lot of players with pace but it’s what they do with the final ball that counts. Sterling has impressed me of late, after going through a poor spell around Christmas time.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (right) is also in my opinion a better option than Townsend. Fit again after a long-term injury he like Lallana is at home in central midfield or on the flanks. All are quick and direct but they can't all go!
Townsend however could yet still make it if he has a really decent end to the season at Spurs and depending on whether Hodgson takes 4 or 5 strikers.

Danny Welbeck's adaptability to the left flank is the reason I choose to go with five strikers, therefore broadening the attacking options, particularly when chasing a game. He can play wide left of a three, he works hard for the team and is good in the air. His club form may be a concern, but for his country he remains a real threat.

Up front Jermaine Defoe is the best impact striker substitute we have, and although he has had little game time at Spurs this season, you always feel he is somebody who will get you a goal. His recent move to the MLS will have little or no bearing on his ability to score at a World Cup. Andy Carroll just gets the nod from me ahead of Rickie Lambert. He is an imposing figure and could be a nightmare for defenders. I like both Lambert and his Southampton team-mate Jay Rodriquez, but if Carroll stays fit and plays the final ten games of the season for West Ham I think he will go particularly as I believe he is rated highly by Hodgson.

As for the goalkeepers, Fraser Forster's displays for Celtic means he should get the nod ahead of Ben Foster and Jack Butland would be my third choice, as he is never going to see any action but should go in order to gain valuable tournament experience.

My England Squad for Brazil

1/ Joe Hart - Age 26

2/ Fraser Forster - Age 25  
3/ Jack Butland - Age 20

4/ Gary Cahill - Age 28
5/ Phil Jagielka -  Age 31
6/ Phil Jones - Age 22
7/ Chris Smalling - Age 24
8/ Leighton Baines - Age 29
9/ Ashley Cole - Age 33
10/ Glenn Johnson - Age 29

11/ Steven Gerrard - Age 33
12/ Frank Lampard - Age 35
13/ Jordan Henderson - Age 23
14/ Jack Wilshere - Age 22
15/ Ross Barkley - Age 20
16/ Adam Lallana - Age 25
17 /Raheem Sterling - Age 19
18/ Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - Age 20

19/ Wayne Rooney - Age 28
20/ Daniel Sturridge - Age 24
21/ Andy Carroll - Age 25
22/ Jermain Defoe - Age 31
23/ Danny Welbeck - Age 23

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Babe of the Month - Anouk Hoogendijk. Putting the 'sexy' back into Dutch football.

Anouk Anna Hoogendijk was born on 6th May 1985 in Woerden, Netherlands.

She is a Dutch female international footballer who can play at centre back or as a defensive midfielder.

Anouk joined FC Utrecht in 2007 after a spell training with SV Saestrum.
Hoogendijk realised her ambition of playing abroad when she signed an eight-month contract with English WSL (FA Women's Super League) club Bristol Academy in January 2011.

In February 2012 Hoogendijk returned to Utrecht, before moving on to newly formed AFC Ajax  in May 2012. The transfer represented "a dream come true" for Hoogendijk as she had been a girlhood supporter of Ajax's male team.

In January 2014, Hoogendijk signed for Arsenal Ladies (right) where she wears the number 6 shirt. The 28-year-old joined the Ladies' setup from Ajax and was the club's third defensive acquisition ahead of the 2014 campaign, following the signings of England captain Casey Stoney and goalkeeper Siobham Chamberlain.

Arsenal Ladies' general manager Vic Akers said on completing the signing of Hoogendijk :

"We are delighted to be welcoming Anouk to Arsenal Football Club. 
She's a top quality defender, who has proven herself on the international stage with Holland, in the Eredivisie with Ajax, and of course in the Super League with Bristol."

Anouk added: “I’m excited to be returning to England, and to have the chance to play for Arsenal Ladies. They are one of the leading women’s clubs in the game, with an amazing history, so it is a real privilege to have signed for them. I am looking forward to meeting my new team mates and preparing for the 2014 season.” 

On 6th August 2004 Hoogendijk debuted for the senior Netherlands women's national football team, as a half-time substitute in a 2–0 defeat to Japan in Zeist, Netherlands.

Hoogendijk played in every match as the Netherlands reached the semi-final of the UEFA Women's Euro 2009. In the quarter-final penalty shootout win over France, she struck the winning kick. The Netherlands were eventually knocked out of the tournament by England.
In June 2013 national team coach Roger Reijners selected Hoogendijk in the Netherlands squad for UEFA Women's Euros 2013 in Sweden, and to date Anouk has 94 international caps and eight international goals to her name.

You can follow Anouk on Twitter on Facebook and Instagram

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Shock Results in UEFA Champions League History

Over the next few weeks the outcome of this season's UEFA Champions League round of 16 knockout stage will be decided, and just eight teams will be left to fight it out for Europe's most sought after club trophy. The last 16 teams are a mixture of some of Europe's most glamorous sides steeped in illustrious history and others less so, with many looking to overcome the odds in the hopes of claiming a quarter-final berth and ultimately reaching this years final, to be played at the Estádio do Sport Lisboa in Lisbon on 24th May.
Over the years there have been plenty of shock results at all different stages in the competition. Here are a selection of some of those incredible upsets!

Helsingborgs 1 Inter Milan 0  (Champions League 1st Leg, 3rd Qualifying Round 2000/2001) 
File:Helsingborgs IF logo.png
Helsingborgs are remembered by Inter Milan fans as the club that caused them one of the greatest shock Champions League results in the club's history. Club President Massimo Morrati had spent heavily over the summer to add Republic of Ireland striker Robbie Keane to an already star studded squad which included Brazilian magician Ronaldo and Marcello Lippi’s men were not expected to encounter any difficulties in progressing to the group stages. However, a 1-0 home victory and a stupendous goal keeping display by Sven Andersson meant Swede dreams for the Scandinavians as they qualified for the group stages for the first time in their history.

Chelsea 1 FC Basel 2  (Champions League Group Stage - 2013/2014)
File:FC Basel.png
Chelsea suffered a shock defeat in the first Champions League game of Jose Mourinho’s second spell with the club, after Basel came from behind to win 2-1 at Stamford Bridge.
Oscar gave Chelsea the lead on the stroke of half time, but gainst the run of play, Mohamad Salah levelled things up in the 71st minute and then Basel sealed a shock win with eight minutes left of normal time remaining, when Cech failed to keep out a header from Streller after the forward had managed to lose his marker inside the Chelsea penalty area. The shock loss came exactly six years after Mourinho took charge of the final match of his first Blues spell, a 1-1 draw against Norwegian side Rosenborg.

Artmedia Bratislava 5 Celtic 0  (Champions League 1st leg, 2nd Qualifying Round 2005/2006)

Described by Gordon Strachan as "out-and-out the worst football night" he had ever experienced, Celtic’s unexpected 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Slovakian Champions Artmedia Bratislava was the Glasgow giants' most embarrassing and biggest ever defeat in Europe. Prior to the game, Celtic, winners of the European Cup in 1967, had been favourites to progress from the tie, especially as no team in Slovakian history had ever made it as far as the third round preliminary stage. However, an incompetent display by the Hoops’ defence saw them concede four second half goals, including a Juraj Halenar hat-trick, ensuring that the men were well and truly separated from the Bhoys.
Celtic crashed out of the competition, despite a 4-0 home win in the return leg in Glasgow.

APOEL Nicosia 1-0 Lyon (agg: 1-1) APOEL win 4-3 on pens.
(Champions League 2nd leg, last 16 tie 2011/2112)

APOELnew.pngTrailing 1-0 after the first leg, one might have favoured Lyon, by far the more experienced of the two teams having just come off the back of an era of Ligue 1 dominance, to keep their cool and advance to the quarter-finals. A banner behind the goal Lyon were defending in the first period proclaimed 'Feel the terror of Nicosia' and within nine minutes Gustavo Manduca had belied the odds to level the aggregate score. Urged on by their passionate supporters, the hosts pushed for a second but neither they nor their opponents were able to find it. Eventually the duo would have to endure extra time and a penalty shootout, where spot-kicks from Ailton Jose Almeida, Nuno Morais, Nektarious Alexandrou and finally Ivan Trickovscki were enough to seal a 4-3 penalty victory and a historical Champions League upset by the Cypriots.

Real Madrid 0 Arsenal 1  (Champions League 1st leg, last 16 tie 2005/2006)

Arsenal FC.svgThe Gunners were struggling in the league with their former captain Patrick Vieira having departed to Juventus and current club captain, Thierry Henry’s future in serious doubt. Arsenal went into the game missing senior players and injuries had decimated their defence so that an inexperienced back four including Emmanuel Eboue, Phillipe Senderos and Mathieu Flamini were left to face the likes of Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane, Robinho, Raul Gonzales, Ronaldo, David Beckham and Guti. No British team had ever won at the Bernabeau and Real had not lost at home in 18 Champions League games. The odds were stacked against Arsene Wenger’s young team, but to everyone’s amazement the Gunners took a deserved lead through a fantastic individual goal by Henry.
Incredibly, Arsenal would once again restrain Real's offensive powerhouses in the return leg at Highbury, their 1-0 aggregate triumph seeing the La Liga giants knocked out of the competition.

Deportivo La Coruna 4 AC Milan 0  (Champions League Quarter-Final, 2nd Leg, 2003/2004)

RC Deportivo La Coruña logo.svgThe 2003/2004 Champions League season proved to be remarkable for the number of extraordinary scorelines which transpired in the build up to an ultimately disappointing climax. None was more astonishing than that of the 2nd leg quarter-final between Deportivo La Coruna of Spain and the Italians from Milan, which saw the Spanish seasiders vanquish the six times European Champions and tournament favourites with a ruthless first half attacking display. 3-0 up by half time, Deportivo secured a 4-0 victory to miraculously overturn a three goal first leg deficit and become the first team in the 12 year history of the Champions league to do so, and against a Milan team who up until then had not conceded a European away goal.

Club crestNK Maribor 2 Lyon 0  (Champions League 2nd leg, 3rd Qualifying round 1999/2000)

Although not yet recognisable as the team of seven successive league titles and ever-presents in the Champions League, Lyon were still the team that had finished 3rd in the French Ligue 1 and they possessed the league’s top scorer in Brazilian Sonny Anderson. The Slovenian team had already caused a surprise in reaching this stage by beating Belgian team KRC Genk. It was an even bigger upset when they then dispatched the future French Champions by beating them in the 2nd leg to obtain an aggregate 3-0 victory and progress to the Champions League group stage for the first time in their history.

AS Monaco 3 Real Madrid 1  (Champions League Quarter-Final, 2nd leg 2003/2004)
Nine-time champions, Real Madrid had won the first leg 4-2 at the Bernabeau against an unfancied Monaco team. With one foot in the semi-final, Madrid took the French side far to lightly and paid the ultimate price!
Inspired by Ludovic Guily and former Madrid favourite Fernando Morientes, the Monegasques came back in sensational fashion with a 3-1 victory on the night against Los Galacticos, which sent them through to the semi-finals on away goals.
Monaco went on to reach the final in Gelsenkirchen, Germany before losing to Jose Mourinho's Porto side.

Inter Milan 1 Arsenal 5  (Champions League Group Stage - 2003/2004)

Arsenal FC.svgOnce more Arsene Wenger’s men found themselves underachieving in European competition and under serious pressure to get a result in their penultimate group stage game to have any chance of progressing. Having earlier been humiliated at Highbury 3-0 by Inter Milan and having just managed to scrape past Dynamo Kiev 1-0, the odds were heavily stacked against the Gunners. As Arsenal entered the intimidating San Siro arena with the criticisms of the British media ringing in their ears and minus their injured captain, Patrick Vieira, there was no indication of what was to follow. A quite scintillating display by the North Londoners and a stunning individual performance from Thierry Henry saw the San Siro stunned into silence as the Gunners swept to an emphatic victory.

FC BATE Borisov 3 Bayern Munich 1  (Champions League Group Stage - 2012/2013)
BATE Borisov pulled off a huge Champions League shock, producing a classic display of counter attacking football to beat Bayern Munich 3-1 in Minsk in October 2012.
It was their first ever UEFA Champions League group stage home victory as Bayern's dream of a club-record tenth successive win at the start of a season floundered. Aleksandr Pavlov struck against the run of play midway through the first half, and while Viktor Goncharenko's side spent plenty of time manning the barricades thereafter, Vitali Rodionov doubled the lead on 78 minutes. Franck Ribéry pulled one back late on, but substitute Renan Bressan hit a third for BATE in added time for a famous victory.