World Football Update - Feb 14th 2012
The UEFA Champions League is back!
Jon Forget
Feb 14th 2012
World Football Update - Feb 14th 2012
Feature Matches 2/14-2/19
 
     After a two month hiatus, the UEFA Champions League returns this afternoon with the round of sixteen.  Defending ChampionsBarcelona travel to Bayer Leverkusen to begin their title defense.  Leverkusen managed three wins at their home ground in the group stage, proving it is a difficult place for any side to visit.  Despite losing Michael Ballack to a calf strain on the weekend, the Germans have belief they can give the Spaniards a run for their money.   Barcelona are fresh off a let down over the weekend, dropping a league match to Osasuna 3-2.  This was only the second time in 47 outings Pep Gaurdiolas side suffered defeat, and the first time in 70 matches his side have conceded three goals in a match.  A chink in their armor, perhaps, but none the less Leverkusen will have their work cut out for them.  In Tuesdays other round of sixteen tie upstart APOEL travel to take on French powerhouse Lyon.
 
     Wednesday brings us more Champions League football with two class matches to look forward to.  First, we have an early kickoff (10am), as Zenit St.Petersburg take on Portugese side Benfica.  This leads us into our match of the day, and arguably one of the better matchups in the round of sixteen, AC Milan versus Arsenal.  Milan have the advantage of playing at home in the imposing San Siro stadium; however, they have recently suffered some key injury setbacks.  Milan star Pato, and linchpin midfielder Kevin Prince Boateng, are both out with thigh strains.  The Gunners will enjoy the services of Arsenal legend Thierry Henry in the first leg of the home and away series, but he is headed back to Captain the New York Red Bulls stateside after the match.  The afternoon finishes with Copa Libertadores action from south America.
 
     The English Premier League is taking a break this weekend to make way for the Fifth Round of the FA Cup.  There are some very interesting fixtures indeed, and a couple of early starts.  Saturday morningChelsea kicks off the weekends action (5:30am KO) against Birmingham City.  Birmingham are well capable of an upset, as they proved last season by taking home the Carling Cup silverware.  Championship sides Millwall and Blackpool hold the 8am slot facing Premiership sides Bolton and Everton Sunderland host Arsenal in the mid morning, hoping to avenge their last minute league defeat at the hands of the Gunners less than a week ago.  The afternoon fills out with Serie A and La Liga fixtures.
 
     Sunday morning there is a very early kick off of 5am between Crawley Town and Stoke City.  Anyone interested in enjoying this match please reach out to me via email (threelionsusa@gmail.com) and I will open the Pub extra early for you.  The 7am kickoff has loads of meaning to anyone that supports the Spurs, or follows the Colorado Rapids.  Gary Smiths Stevenage host the Tottenham Hotspur in a 5th Round FA Cup clash.  Gary is beloved by Rapids supporters for bringing an underdog Rapids side to an MLS Cup title in 2010, can he do it again here against an in form Premiership Spurs side?  To add to the drama Garys Father, Roger, played for the Spurs during their glory years in the early 1960s.   Gary will be leading Stevenage to their first ever FA Cup Fifth Round appearance.  Liverpool take on Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion in the mid morning slot, and then we finish the afternoon with Serie A, Ligue 1, and La Liga.
      
On the Horizon
 
     Next week we have more Champions League Round of sixteen with Chelsea, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, and Bayern Munchen all taking to the pitch.  On the weekend we have the North London Derby to look forward to, with Arsenal hosting Tottenham at the Emirates.
 
This Weeks Football
 
Tuesday February 14th
Lyon v APOEL 12:45pm (UEFA Champions League)
Bayer Leverkusen v Barcelona 12:45pm (UEFA Champions League)
 
Wednesday February  15th
Zenit v Benfica 10:00am  (UEFA Champions League)
AC Milan v Arsenal 12:45pm (UEFA Champions League)
Strongest v Santos 3:00pm (Copa Libertadores)
CA Lanus v Flamengo 5:00pm (Copa Libertadores)
 
Thursday February 16th
Ajax v Manchester United 11:00am (Europa League)
Lazio v Atletico Madrid 11:00am (Europa League)
Stoke City v Valencia 1:00pm (Europa League)
Porto v Manchester City 1:00pm (Europa League)
Nacional v Libertad 3:00pm (Copa Libertadores)
Godoy Cruz v Penarol 5:30pm (Copa Libertadores)
 
Friday February 17th
Inter Milan v Bologna 12:45pm (Serie A)
Reading v Burnley 1:00pm (Championship)
 
Saturday February 18th
Chelsea v Birmingham 5:30am (FA Cup 5th Round)
Millwall v Bolton 8:00am (FA Cup 5th Round)
Everton v Blackpool 8:00am (FA Cup 5th Round)
Sunderland v Arsenal 10:00am (FA Cup 5th Round)
Norwich City v Leicester City 10:00am (FA Cup 5th Round Tape Delay)
Real Madrid v Racing Santander 12:00pm (La Liga)
Juventus v Catania 12:45pm (Serie A)
 
Sunday February 19th
Crawley Town v Stoke 5:00am (FA Cup 5th Round)
Stevenage v Tottenham 7:00am (FA Cup 5th Round)
Cesena v AC Milan 7:00am (Serie A)
Liverpool v Brighton & Hove Albion 9:30am (FA Cup 5th Round)
Palermo v Lazio 12:30pm (Serie A)
Paris St. Germain v Montpelier 1:00pm (Ligue 1)
Barcelona v Valencia 1:30pm (La Liga) 
 
Avalanche Hockey
Canucks v Avs 8:00pm Wed. Feb. 15th
Oilers v Avs 7:30pm Fri. Feb. 17th
Jets v Avs 6:30pm Sun. Feb. 19th 

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