Archive for the ‘Europa League’ Category

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Wednesday night went off with a bit of a whimper in the Champion’s League. Over in Azerbaijan, Chelsea did what was expected of them by comfortably beating Qarabag by four goals to nil.

This stroll in the park meant that Antonio Conte could spend the overnight flight home plotting Liverpool’s downfall in the weekend’s “big” game.

This exercise probably only required about five minutes as the tactics are relatively straightforward. Providing you can stop Liverpool scoring at your end, they will likely allow you to score some at their end!

So he had a good sleep for the rest of the flight dreaming, no doubt, of reaching the Champion’s League final and beating Juventus to collect the trophy. Dream on, Antonio! (more…)

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The first thing to point out is that Paul Pogba’s injury, which may keep him out for a month or even six weeks depending upon your daily rag of choice, is not the end of the world.

Yes, he is one of the first names on the teamsheet and has been in good form recently, even scoring a couple of goals in the opening games, and yes, he will be missed.

He will probably be replaced, however, by Ander Herrera in some games and Marouane Fellaini in others and, occasionally, by both. The way the pair have been playing recently means that the loss of Pogba will not be felt quite as much as it might have been at a different time of the season. (more…)

The Final

The main reason Manchester United have never won the Europa League before is because it is a competition in which they have rarely been involved and, when they have been, they haven’t taken it particularly seriously.

Even under it’s previous incarnation as the UEFA Cup, it was a trophy only flirted with on four occasions since Sir Alex Ferguson took over in 1986. On those four occasions they lost to what can only be described as mediocre opponents. (more…)

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(Top four or Europa League? Why not both? José ponders the obvious!)

José Mourinho loves the Europa League. Not that he has much choice as it is the only European competition in which Manchester United are competing this season.

He didn’t appear to love it at the start of the season and it was only when he was reminded that it offered automatic Champion’s League qualification that his feelings towards it grew in a dramatic fashion. (more…)

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Manchester United controlled a largely dull first half in which they took the lead through Henrikh Mkhitaryan when the Anderlecht goalkeeper parried a shot from Marcus Rashford straight to him.

Still quite adept at mis-controlling the ball and giving possession away very cheaply, they never looked in any danger of conceding and Anderlecht were left with a half-time team talk which would have included the words “must do better“. (more…)

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Yet again that mediocre La Liga has three teams through to the quarter finals of the Champion’s League, while that brilliant, exciting, competitive and just all-round good egg Premier League has one.

The good thing is that to prove it’s massive superiority over La Liga, it was a Premier League club which knocked out Sevilla. Yes, little old Leicester did what Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur couldn’t do, they made it through to the quarter finals. (more…)

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So Manchester United managed to overcome a terrible pitch and a good team and are now in very real danger of reaching the final of the Europa League.

The pitch, at the end of the day, was the same for both teams although Rostov are, obviously, more used to playing on it. It didn’t really make a difference. Providing United, who had the better players, played to their potential then they were always going to be in a position to win the tie over the two legs. (more…)

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Well folks, it’s that time of the year again! European competition has returned with the start of the knockout stages of both the Champion’s League and the Europa League.

This article was supposed to be a preview of the two tournaments BEFORE any of the games had been played but, thanks to missed deadlines due to oversleeping, is now published after the first round of them has finished.

Fortunately only Arsenal, out of the English contingent, have played their first leg game and everybody knew what was going to happen before a ball was even kicked. (more…)

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At the beginning of the season there was belief. Belief that Manchester United were on the way back to being good at football.

They started off like an express train and were unstoppable until they were stopped. Unfortunately they were stopped by another unstoppable team at the time when Manchester City beat them at Old Trafford. City were to go on being unstoppable until they were stopped by Tottenham Hotspur who, whilst not being unstoppable, haven’t really been stopped by anybody yet, (unless you count a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford as stopping them). (more…)

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For the first time in a long time, if not for the first time at all, I feel the need to add a little background to this article.

I have just watched Manchester United’s Europa League game against Fenerbahće in an Irish bar in Granada, Spain.

I mention this purely as an excuse for any inaccuracies you may spot while reading said article. It was, in fact, a very noisy music night where a quartet of Spanish musicians played Irish tunes, virtually non-stop, for the entire evening. There were only two of us in the entire bar interested in what was happening at Old Trafford! (more…)