World Football Update - Feb 21th 2012
Lots of European footy this week, ending with the Carling Cup on Sunday!
Jon Forget
Feb 21st 2012
World Football Update - Feb 21th 2012
Feature Matches 2/20-2/26
 
     Champions League and Europa League football are the midweek lunchtime fare as the month of February winds down.  Chelsea travel to Napoli this afternoon, as they try and turn their fortunes around with a big Champions league result.  The Blues have not won in League play since January 14th, and are coming off a disheartening draw against Birmingham in the FA Cup 5th Round.  Chelsea Coach Villas-Boas has been under tremendous pressure, so a couple away goals or a win would be huge for the English club here.  Napoli was on a poor run of form, but managed to win their last two matches.  They may be finding their footing at just the right time.  Coach Walter Mazzari has called on his team to play the perfect game, knowing well that a positive result at home will be key to their success moving forward.  

    Wednesdays football kicks off early with a fine Europa league clash between Manchester City and Porto, the Pub will be open at 10am to feature this match.  City hold a 2-1 aggregate advantage going into the second leg.  Considering Porto have not won away from home in this competition,  we should see City do their business and advance.  The X factor is Porto star Hulk, who is vaunted as one of the top transfer targets in European football.  This match leads us into two big Champions League encounters.  Marseille play host to Inter Milan, while Bayern Munich travel to take on Swiss side Basel.  Coach Didier Deschamps of Marseille is wary of the threat from Inter, despite the Italians poor form in their domestic campaign of late.   The return of Diego Forlan to Inters lineup may be a boost for their side.  Bayern is coming off a 0-0 draw to Bundesliga bottom dwellers Freiburg, and their form has been in question of late.  Star player Bastian Schweinsteiger is sidelined for this encounter, making things even more difficult for the Germans.  Basels hopes depend largely on their home field advantage, and what star player Alexander Frei brings to the match. 

     Thursday we have a nice combination of Europa League and Championship football.  Stoke City travel to Valencia to kick the day off, trailing the Spaniards after a loss last week at the Britannia stadium.  This game is followed by Manchester United playing host to Dutch side Ajax.  United managed a 2-0 win away last week, and seem to be in a fairly comfortable position to advance.  The afternoons Europa League action is complimented by an Npower Championship clash between Derby County and Leicester City.  This is a mid table clash in the Championship.

     The weekend starts off very early Saturday morning, as second place West Ham (two games in hand on leaders Southampton) take on Crystal Palace.  Palace, who narrowly avoided relegation last year, are having a much better campaign this time around.  This early game leads us into a morning of EPL football, with Chelsea, Fulham, Man City, QPR, Bolton, and Blackburn all featured.  The highlight match of the afternoon pits AC Milan against undefeated Juventus for the top of the table in Serie A.  Milan holds a one point advantage over Juve, despite having four losses to Juves none.

    Despite all the other good football on throughout the week, Sunday mornings lineup perhaps takes the cake.  We start off with the North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham, with a 6:30am kickoff.  The Spurs sit a comfortable 10 points ahead of the Gunners in the Premiership table, holding down third and still in the fight for the title.  Arsenal is reeling after suffering a crushing defeat to AC Milan, and then dropping out of the FA Cup last weekend to Sunderland.  Spurs could deliver the death blow to Arsenals season here, or maybe the Gunners have a bit of fight left in them.  The other early kickoff has Manchester United travelling to Norwich City to take on the surprising Canaries.  Norwich has proven they are no joke, and can certainly provide a stiff test to United here.  Both of these early matches lead to our highlight game of the week as Liverpool and Cardiff travel to Wembley to compete for the League Cup Final.  Cardiffs route to the final saw them only facing one Premiership side, Blackburn.  On the other hand Liverpool had to take on Stoke, Chelsea, and Manchester City to earn their shot at Carling Cup silverware.  Liverpool last won the League Cup in the 2002/03 season, while this is Cardiffs first berth in the Finals of this competition.  Surely the Welsh side are heavy underdogs; however, they are having a tremendous season in the Championship (currently sitting in fourth).  Both teams are hungry for Silverware, and this match should be a great one!  The weekends football concludes with Serie A, Ligue 1, and La Liga football.
           
On the Horizon
 
     It is an International break midweek in Europe, with the highlight matches falling at lunchtime next Wednesday.  This may be worth taking a sick day, as the USMNT face Italy at the same time England take on the Netherlands.  On the weekend we have Liverpool v Arsenal, and Tottenham v Manchester United to look forward to.
     
This Weeks Football
 
Tuesday February 21st
CSKA Moscow v Real Madrid 10:00am (UEFA Champions League)
Bologna v Fiorentina 10:30am (Serie A)
Napoli v Chelsea 12:45pm (UEFA Champions League)
 
Wednesday February 22nd
Man City v Porto 10:00am (Europa League)
Siena v Catania 11:00am (Serie A)
Marseille v Inter Milan 12:45pm (UEFA Champions League)
Basel v Bayern Munchen 12:45pm (UEFA Champions League)
 
Thursday February 23rd
Valencia v Stoke City 11:00am (Europa League)
Athletic Bilbao v Lokomotiv Moscow 11:00am (Europa League)
Derby v Leicester City 12:45pm (Championship)
Manchester United v Ajax 1:00pm (Europa League)
Athletico Madrid v Lazio 1:00pm (Europa League)
 
Friday February 24th
B. Monchengladbach v Hamburg 12:30pm (Bundesliga)
 
Saturday February 25th
West Ham v Crystal Palace 5:45am (Championship)
Chelsea v Bolton 8:00am (EPL)
Queens Park Rangers v Fulham 8:00am (EPL)
Genoa v Parma 10:00am (Serie A)
Manchester City v Blackburn 10:30am (EPL)
AC Milan v Juventus 12:45pm (Serie A)
 
Sunday February 26th
Arsenal v Tottenham 6:30am (EPL)
Norwich City v Manchester United 6:30am (EPL)
Bayern Munchen v Schalke 04 7:30am (Bundesliga)
Rayo Vallecano v Real Madrid 8:00am (La Liga)
Cardiff City v Liverpool 9:00am (Carling Cup Final)
Napoli v Inter Milan 12:45pm (Serie A)
Stade Renne v Lille 1:00pm (Ligue 1)
Atletico Madrid v Barcelona 1:30pm (La Liga)
 
Avalanche Hockey
Avs v Kings 7:00pm Wed. Feb. 22nd
Blue Jackets v Avs 5:00pm Fri. Feb. 24th
Red Wings v Avs 5:00pm Sat. Feb. 25th
Avs v Ducks 7:00pm Mon. Feb. 27th
 
Six Nations Rugby
England v Wales Sat. Feb. 25th 9:00am

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