Champions League semi final

Schalke 04 v Manchester United

It was the Champions League semi-final (1st leg) this week. First on Tuesday was Schalke 04 v Manchester United. Being a United fan I was of course excited about this match but a bit nervous with Schalke doing so well so far including there thrashing of Inter Milan – I didn’t watch the matches but based on the scoreline, it appears to be a thrashing.

Anyway, I had no reason to be nervous as Schalke were rubbish against United. United were excellent and the arguably the best I have seen them play all season – although you could argue the finishing was not as good. We were all over Schalke and could have (and maybe should have) been at least 4 goals up. I think I read we can 13 shots in the 1st half alone.

At half time, the score was amazingly 0-0. United should have taken their chances better but their keeper Neuer was brilliant. He was stopping everything!

United finally managed to break the deadlock with Giggs – who had previous missed a glorious chance but sliced it wide with his right foot – after a great through ball from Rooney. It was a perfect ball from Rooney who was amazing all night. The 2nd goal keeper just minutes after. Good work by Valencia and then a lovely touch from Hernandez to Rooney who slotted the ball home.

Overall an excellent game and the referee was great. He really let the game flow and wasn’t fooled by any play-acting.

The only negative about the game is that its “only” 2 goals. If Schalke get an early goal next week then who knows!! However, if they play anything like on Tuesday, we have nothing to worry about!!

Real Madrid v Barcelona

This was the 3rd El Clasico in recent weeks and had plenty of talking points. The match ended 2-0 to Barcelona with 2 goals from (who else) Messi but that doesn’t tell half the story.

Real Madrid had 3 players sent off, there was diving and play-acting all over the place, it wasn’t a great advert for football.

Starting with the sendings off. Pepe was sent off for a challenge on Alves. Pepe went into a challenge and had his foot a little high. However he was going for the ball and you could argue Alves had his foot his as high – otherwise they would not have connected “foot to foot”. Alves may have been kicked but it did not warrant the rolling over on the ground about 5 times. I have seen the replay of the red card since and he may not even have been kicked and they both just kicked the ball at the same time.

Alves is one of those players who is well known for play-acting AKA cheating. Another one in the Barcelona team is Sergio Busquets. His sole purpose seems to be to try and get opposition players sent off.  There was one moment he grabbed his face as if he had been punched by Mike Tyson. He wasn’t even touched!! It was embarrassing but he got a freekick out of it. They are not alone with the play-acting and lots of their team-mates do the same.

However, it was not just Barcelona play-acting but Real Madrid too. There biggest culprit probably being Di Maria. Its just something that is part of football in particular on the continent but its so annoying. I am sure some players are just like that with the play-acting but I wonder how much of it is their managers telling them to do it and make the most of the slightest touch. Its a shame that there wasn’t a better referee – like in the United game – and someone strong enough to punish the cheating. I think the referee from Tuesday was Spanish so unfortunately that probably means hes got no chance to refereeing the final.

The other 2 sendings off was one for Jose for basically what he was saying to the 4th referee (and I am sure in part to use his usual Jose smirk/smile) – he was sent to the stands – which were about 5 metres away from the bench!! The other red card was for Pinto who was not even on the pitch!! He was the sub goal-keeper. It was given after the half time whistle and there was a bit of a “ruck” between players and coaching staff. It could easily have been any player getting the red card but he seemed to be the instigator.

Bored of Barcelona??

As well as the red cards and the play-acting, I am beginning to get bored of Barcelona and how they play. They are a brilliant team and one of the best teams ever. If you were to make a list of top 10 players in the world, they would have about 4 and they can destroy teams. However, there tiki taka style of football and passing it to one another can be boring. Some people may say its clever, some say its patient and its keeping possession but passing it to one another sideways from 5 yards away constantly isn’t that impressive. (Saying that, the England football team couldn’t do that in the World Cup!).

It seems to be they pass it around for a bit, messing about and then let Messi do something amazing – which he usually does. I think hes scored 51 goals this season!! 😮

Having a look online, I don’t appear to be the only one and John Nicholson from Football 365 pretty much thinks the same .

It was a shame that this match, between 2 great teams turned so ugly. The newspapers had a bit of a field day commenting on the match.

After the game Mourinho had a go official and all sorts of people. It was everyone elses fault for him play “anti-football” and playing so negatively. It will be interesting to see what happens in the 2nd leg. Will Mourinho really have a go at Barcelona or will he get players to by cynical again?? We know from games recently with Barca playing Chelsea and Arsenal that they can be beaten if you have a go at them. However, like United they are in a strong position with 2 away goals – and they have Messi.

There is a good article hear from Jamie Redknapp about the match.  He says that both teams were good in the way they played the game but Mourinho has been cast as the villain of the piece. Read the rest here.

Easter Weekend 2011

Easter Weekend was the start of an 11 day holiday for many people. An extra extra long weekend. This was because there was the Easter weekend with 2 bank holidays and then next weekend is of course the Royal Wedding and another bank holiday on the Monday.

On Good Friday, I went to see the Duck Race – as you can see from my previous blog post.

Party!

On Saturday, I went to my friends birthday party. Started at his flat and had some food and drink and then went out to some bars. Knott Bar was the first port of call but it was very busy so we immediately went to Taps. This is the place I went for my birthday meal and is a nice place. Its potential very dangerous though as you poor your own pints from a pump at your table. There is an iPod Touch built into the table that keeps count of the pints – although it wasn’t working – but if you don’t look at it you can find yourself with a very high bill at the end.  We moved on towards the Northern Quarter but did go via Bank for a drink.

When in the Northern Quarter, I normally only go to the same bars which tends to be the likes to Bluu or Trof. The first bar we did go to though was the Hulu Bar which I have been to before – when I went to a cocktail making class. I had a nice cocktail called Castaway. Main alcohol was rum and 3 different fruits. Tasted nice but would have been an expensive night if we stayed there all night at about £8 a cocktail.

We then went on to Cord followed by Port Street and then Castle. (I may have missed a bar there). Never been to them before – had a good time. When I go out, its using just lager I drink but did try an ale in Port Street – it was ok but not really to my taste.

The next day I didn’t do a lot. Bit of shopping, bit of work and just relaxing.

Mmmmmm…. Curry 🙂

On the Monday – Easter Monday – I went round to a friends for lunch. It was a delicious curry meal – I can’t remember the names but it was a chicken curry, another curry that I think was lentil based, sweet chutney, I think aaloo sabji and some sort of bread – which were a little bit like naan bread. Overall very delicious. His wife cooked the food, and he did the washing. I just sat back and enjoyed the view through the huge floor to ceiling windows 🙂

Manchester Duck Race 2011

Went to Spinningfields to check out the Duck Race (http://bit.ly/i0TocJ). The main race was won by “Duck Vader” – don’t know if that was its official name but thats what I am calling it. It was a rubber duck dressed as Darth Vader.

Both races took ages – the current was very weak and wind was blowing in the wrong direction. At one point the ducks just stopped moving and even started moving backwards.


The guys in the boats had to “cheat” and create waves, pushing the ducks in the right direction.

MVI_0231.flv Watch on Posterous

 

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Premier League prediction

Just done the Premier League prediction thing on the BBC Sport web site – http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/predictor/default.stm

Here is my prediction:

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United finish champions. I havent just put United to win all matches either – think they will lose against Arsenal and draw against Chelsea at OT. Spurs finish in top 4 and City just missing out 😀

Wigan, Wolves and Blackpool get relegated. Blackburn just about survive.

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