Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Barça Update: WOOOOO!!! -or- Suck It, Rangers

Rangers prepares their defense before the game

After the ugly slugfest a couple weeks ago in Glasgow, tonight was Barcelona/Rangers: The Rematch, and did Barça ever deliver. Henry (6') and Messi (42') found the back of the net for a 2-0 finish. Yes, Henry's goal touched his hand, but there was a deliberate handball in the box that wasn't called, so it evened out.

Barcelona was out for blood from the start, using a 4-3-3 to great effect. (For non-soccer folks, that's four defenders, three midfielders, and three forwards. A more-or-less "standard" formation is 4-4-2. The more forwards you have, the more attack minded your team will be, and the more defenders you have, the more defensive minded your team will be.)

Rangers, again playing for the draw, tried a formation that looked more like five defenders, the Maginot line, four midfielders, the Union blockade of the Confederacy, and one lone forward. Funny how that didn't work outside of Scotland.

So, four group games down, two to go. As a bonus, Madrid has stumbled in league play, dropping a match to Valencia (mmm... oranges) while Barça have continued to roll. I haven't seen the games recently, due to a combination of sickness (Sunday's game) and being at the Espanyol game (Thursday's game). From what I understand, Thursday should have been a win, but the tie isn't the end of the world. Barcelona is now only one point behind Madrid in the standings. Speaking of standings...

La Liga (Jornada 11)
1) Real Madrid / 8-2-1 / 25 points / +16
2) Barcelona / 7-1-3 / 24 points / + 15
3) Villareal / 8-3-0 / 24 points / +6
4) Valencia / 7-4-0 / 21 points / -2
5) Atlético Madrid / 6-3-2 / 20 points / +9

Champions League Group E (Matchday 4)
1) Barcelona /3-0-1 / 10 points / +7
2) Rangers / 2-1-1 / 7 points / +2
3) Olympique Lyon / 2-0-0 / 6 points / -2
4) VfB Stuttgart / 0-0-4 / 0 points / -7 -- ELIMINATED --

Pelé Sez: It's time to start thinking about who will advance in the Champions League. There are 32 teams in the Group Stage, and 16 will remain when the Group Stage is done. If you finish in the top two in your group, you move on. If not, you're out of the Champions League. Right now, advancement looks like this:

Through to the Next Round
Manchester United (ENG)
Arsenal* (ENG)

Looking Good
Chelsea (ENG)
Real Madrid (ESP)
AC Milan (ITA)
F.C. Barcelona (ESP)
AS Roma (ITA)
Inter Milan (ITA)
Fenerbahce (TUR)
Sevilla (ESP)

On the Bubble
Marseille (FRA)
Liverpool (ENG)
Rosenborg (NOR)
Shalke 04 (GER)
Lazio (ITA)
Olympiacos (GRE)
Celtic (SCO)
Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
Rangers (SCO)
Olympique Lyon (FRA)

In Trouble
Besiktas (TUR)
Valencia (ESP)
Werder Bremen (GER)
Benfica (POR)
Sporting Lisbon (POR)
Slavia Prague* (CZE)

VfB Stuttgart (GER)
Dynamo Kiev (UKR)
CSKA Moscow (RUS)
Steaua Bucuresti (HUN)

* Arsenal could theoretically not advance to the knockout stages, but here's what would have to happen. Arsenal would have to lose its next two games. Slavia Prague would have to win its next two games. In addition, Slavia Prague's goal differential (goals scored minus goals allowed) would have to be better than Arsenal's by at least twenty. Keep in mind that when the two teams met in England, Arsenal won 7-0. I say Arsenal is through to the next round, and I'm Pelé, so you should listen to me. Love! Love! Love!

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