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.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Eight Shades of Grey - Why the Ferguson to Moyes transition has faltered!

1st shade: Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to personally recommend David Moyes as the new manager to replace him was a mistake. Instead of hiring someone who had a better or different skill set, Ferguson selected a fellow Scot with a fiery temper. Both men were brought up in the same area of Scotland - Glasgow, and had a mutual respect and understanding of each other. By recommending Moyes for the job, Ferguson selected someone that was his safest bet.

Men in the Mirror - Ferguson and Moyes

2nd shade: By letting Manchester United coaches Rene Meulensteen, Mike Phelan and Eric Steele leave United, against Sir Alex Ferguson’s advice, Moyes brought in his own Everton coaching staff including Jimmy Lumsden, Steve Round, Phil Neville and Chris Woods. Manchester United had no comfortable transition from one manager to the next. All of the expertise and inside knowledge of Meulensteen, Phelan and Steele was irreplaceable. Due to Moyes's overconfidence in his own ability, Ferguson’s legacy and system were destroyed in one fell swoop!

Moyes could still have brought in Lumsden, Round and his fellow coaches from Everton without immediately getting rid of the previous coaches. They could have worked in an advisory capacity or alongside them for several months. This would have enabled Moyes and his own backroom team to get a true understanding and inside knowledge of what made United tick so successfully!

3rd shade: Despite winning the 2012/13 Premier League title, Sir Alex Ferguson had covered over the weakness of the team for the past two to three years. Instead of pressurising the owners to bring in more talented players, Ferguson used all of his experience and man-management skills to get the most out of his ageing squad, without spending extortionate amounts of money in the transfer market. Ferguson brought players back from retirement or who were on their last legs to fill holes in his side. Paul Scholes and Henrik Larsson are just two examples. The reality is that Ferguson handed Moyes a side that was in much need of rebuilding.

                                              Larsson and Scholes - 'The Comeback Kings!'

4th shade: After the news came that David Moyes was going to become the Manchester United manager before the 2012/13 Premier League season had even ended, Moyes had to somewhat awkwardly continue on as Everton boss until the season came to an end on 12th May, before he could settle into the Old Trafford hot seat.

Instead of using this valuable time to focus on the summer transfer market, Moyes instead chose to head off on vacation and only returned to Manchester United on 1st July. Moyes in hindsight may have regretted the timing of his family vacation, given that the first United friendly of the summer was in Thailand less than two weeks later. As a result this did not give him much time to concentrate on securing those much needed new signings.

5th shade The summer transfer window of 2013 was a crucial period for United to strengthen in key positions. Unfortunately for United, chief executive David Gill left the club at the same time as Sir Alex. His replacement, Ed Woodward, who had a background in accounting, was not active enough to make the transfer signings that the club so desperately needed. Instead, Manchester United made a 'panic buy' on transfer deadline day, spending £27.5 million on Marouane Fellaini, when United could have signed him for £4 million less just weeks beforehand.

In addition, United failed to sign midfielder Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao or Fellaini's former Everton team mate Leighton Baines. Central midfield and left-back were key positions that United desperately needed to strengthen so in last summer's transfer window Manchester United failed to resolve the areas of the squad that needed to be reinforced the most — a creative midfielder alongside quality defensive cover.

6th shade: Every single time Manchester United lose, draw or put in a poor performance, the camera zooms in to catch Ferguson’s reaction immediately after the referee blows the full-time whistle. As long as Ferguson is in the stadium, the focus will be on Ferguson, and how Moyes is not performing at the same level as his predecessor. The sooner Ferguson finds a new Saturday afternoon hobby or watches matches in the comfort of his own home, the better it will be for the current boss. Ferguson by being in the stands is not helping Moyes or Manchester United one iota.

                                    Sir Alex Ferguson looks on from the Old Trafford stands

7th shade: While much has been said of Manchester United no longer being a team to fear at Old Trafford, I'd argue that the problem is more severe. The main concern is not that teams no longer fear United, but that Manchester United players no longer fear the manager, or give him the respect he deserves.

While it’s difficult to know for sure what’s happening inside Old Trafford, the body language and reaction of the Manchester United footballers now that Ferguson has gone has altered dramatically. The players look as if they do not fear Moyes in the same way as they did Ferguson. Granted Ferguson is a United legend who spent 27 years at the Club and Moyes has only had his feet under the table for just nine months, but we have already seen instances of improper player conduct since his arrival.

"Roberto this is Marouane, can I come back to Everton?"

We have witnessed former captain Rio Ferdinand laughing behind Moyes’s back during a game, and going public to share his frustration with Moyes’s methods and Marouane Fellaini on his mobile phone texting, while sitting in the stands at Old Trafford.
These are instances that Sir Alex Ferguson would have not tolerated. But more importantly, these are instances whereby the players would have never acted in this manner in the first place if Ferguson was still in charge.

8th shade: One of David Moyes' most mystifying stances since taking over as Manchester United manager continues to be his handling of Wilfried Zaha. Let's not forget that Manchester United paid £10 million up front to Crystal Palace this time last year to acquire Zaha and could pay an additional £5 million if certain clauses are met. That's a fairly significant sum to spend on a player only to sit him on the bench each and every week. It's almost as if Moyes is trying to stamp his authority on the club by 'making an example' of one of Sir Alex Ferguson's last signings. That way, nobody questions who's running Manchester United.
There was talk about Zaha dating Moyes' daughter Lauren, but that seemed to be a more fanciful suggestion for why he wasn't getting in the first team.

Wilf Zaha - Serial bench warmer under David Moyes

The argument could be made that he lacks the experience to start regularly for a team you would normally expect to be vying for a top-four spot in the Premier League, yet his current club isn't willing to let him gain that experience. If this is Moyes' viewpoint, it would seem extremely hypocritical. It's not as if Adnan Januzaj had a wealth of experience before breaking into the first team. What's the excuse for not playing Zaha?

What's worse is that Ashley Young and Nani have both been far from impressive this season. Nani is his usual hot-and-cold self, when he can actually get on the pitch and Young has turned into a shell of his former self.
Zaha is clearly a talented player, and impressed during United's pre-season tour of Asia, but you'd never guess as much by looking at his Manchester United career statistics.

Unsurprisingly Moyes allowed Zaha to move to Cardiff City on loan in January for the remainder of the season. At least he is getting some Premier League game time under his belt at the Welsh club.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Crystal Palace Football Club Squad List - as at February 2014


#1.Julian Speroni - Age 34 - Date Signed: 12 Jul, 2004.
#25.Neil Alexander - Age 35 - Date Signed 15 Aug, 2013.
#26.Wayne Hennessey - Age 27 - Date Signed: 31 Jan, 2014.


#2.Joel Ward - Age 24 - Date Signed: 30 May, 2012.
#3.Adrian Mariappa - Age 27 - Date Signed: 03 Sept, 2013.
#4.Jonathan Parr - Age 25 - Date Signed: 16 Jul, 2011.
#5.Patrick McCarthy - Age 30 - Date Signed: 12 Jun, 2008.
#6.Scott Dann - Age 26 - Date Signed: 31 Jan 2014.
#19.Danny Gabbidon - Age 34 - Date Signed 16 Sep, 2012.
#21.Dean Moxey - Age 28 - Date Signed: 31 Jan, 2011.
#27.Damien Delaney - Age 32 - Date Signed: 31 Aug, 2012.


#7.Yannick Bolasie - Age 24 - Date Signed: 24 Aug, 2012.
#8.Kagisho Dikachoi - Age 29 - Date Signed: 04 Jul, 2011.
#11.Tom Ince - Age 22 - Date Signed: 31 Jan, 2014 (Signed on loan from Blackpool for the rest of the season).
#12.Stuart O'Keefe - Age 22 - Date Signed: 18 Aug, 2010.
#13.Jason Puncheon - Age 27 - Date Signed: 31 Jan, 2014.
#14.Jerome Thomas - Age 30 - Date Signed: 01 Jul, 2013.
#15.Mile Jedinak - Age 29 - Date Signed: 11 Jul, 2011.
#20.Jonathan Williams - Age 20 - Date Signed: 01 Jul, 2011.
#28.Joe Ledley - Age 27 - Date Signed: 31 Jan 2014.
#44.Adlène Guedioura - Age 28 - Date Signed: 04 Sep, 2013.
#46.Barry Bannan - Age 24 - Date Signed: 02 Sep, 2013.


#16.Dwight Gayle - Age 23 - Date Signed: 03 Jul, 2013.
#17.Glenn Murray - Age 30 - Date Signed: 31 May, 2011.
#18.Aaron Wilbraham - Age 34 - Date Signed: 04 Jul, 2012.
#29.Marouane Chamakah - Age 30 - Date Signed: 12 Aug, 2013 (Signed on a 1 year deal from Arsenal).
#30.Cameron Jerome - Age 27 - Date Signed: 03 Sep, 2013 (Signed on a season long loan from Stoke City).

*This page will be updated accordingly in the event of any new loan signings.

Management Team:

Manager: Tony Pullis
Assistant Manager: Keith Millen
First Team Coach: Ben Garner
Technical Coach: David Kemp
Coach: Gerry Francis
Goalkeeping Coach: George Wood
Head of Sports Science & Strength and Conditioning: Scott Guyett
Strength & Conditioning Coach: Andy Page
Head Physiotherapist: Alex Manos
Assistant Physiotherapist/Under-21 Physiotherapist: John Stannard
Assistant First Team Physiotherapist: Matthew Roberts
Rehabilitation Coach: Joe Best
Masseurs: Ian Evans and Chris Swallows
Kit Manager: Brian Rogers
Assistant Kit Manager: Danny Young
Club Doctor: Bill Jasper

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Babe of the Month - Laure Boulleau

Laure Boulleau was born 22nd October 1986 in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Laure is a football player who currently plays for French club Paris Saint-Germain of the Division 1 Féminine. She primarily plays as a defender and is a member of the France women's national football team. Boulleau has made nearly 150 appearances for PSG, scoring 13 goals and has 42 caps for the French women's national side.

Laure began her senior football career in 2003 at CNFE (Fernand Sastre National Technical Centre), commonly referred to as INF Clairefontaine ("Institut national du football de Clairefontaine"), INF, or simply Clairefontaine. She spent two years at the centre that specializes in training French football players. The academy is one of twelve elite academies located in and around France that are supervised by the French Football Federation (FFF). Only the best players from the Île-de-France région train at the Clairefontaine academy.

In 2005 Laure joined Paris Saint-Germain Féminines (PSG Ladies) based in Paris, France. The club has been the female section of Paris Saint-Germain since 1991. PSG Ladies is managed by Camillo Vaz. The Stade Georges Lefèvre of the Camp des Loges in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, with a capacity of 3,500 seats, is the main stadium of the club. Paris Saint-Germain won the Division 2 Féminine in 2001 and were promoted to the top-tier. Since then PSG has never been relegated from the Division 1 Féminine. The ladies were Cup runner-ups in 2008. PSG captured their first major title and most prestigious honour to date after claiming the Coupe de France Féminine in 2010. In 2011 PSG finished runners-up in Division 1 Féminine and qualified for the UEFA Women's Champions League for the first time in its history, following a decisive victory over second-placed Montpellier in the final match of the season.

You can follow Laure on Twitter on Facebook and on Instagram