Barcelona Defeats PSG 3-1

The numerous soccer fans in Barcelona had a particularly special field day on Wedneday when the Barcelona team came from behind to defeat Paris St Germaine 3-1 in the Champions League group F decider.

While it is to be noted that both sides had already qualified for the last 16, the first spots in the table was still open to the teams. This made for a game that was competitive to the very last minute, and featured an array of dazzling performances from its countless stars. 

The goal scorers turned out to be Patrick Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi. 

The only goal for PSG came from Zlatan Ibrahimovic who netted his goal in the first 15 minutes. But things moved quickly downhill for his team when Barcelona exercised better ball control for the remainder of the match. 

Messi managed to tie up the score just minutes after Zlatan’s pass followed by Neymar when the game was 42 minutes ahead. Suarez then easily secured victory a few minutes before closing time. 

It now remains to be seen if Barcelona can show the same kind of flair in the upcoming matches since their one of the favourites to win the tournament. 

Luis Suarez who had a difficult time at Liverpool has nicely adjusted to his transfer in Spain, says fan Keith Mann. He continues to make goal scoring opportunities and has so far stayed away from any controversies. 

Humiliating Champions League Exit for Liverpool

Liverpool fans waited years for their team to return to the Champions League. They did not expect the adventure to be over after six games. Unfortunately for Brendan Rodgers’ team, they have crashed out of the competition at the group stage. Liverpool failed to defeat Basel at home, with a 1-1 draw not enough to get them second place in the group.

The game against Basel was a great chance for Liverpool to get on the right track. They have some important games in the coming weeks, but this game has significant meaning. A knockout appearance in the Champions League is what Liverpool fans demand, while the financial benefits are also significant.

Rodgers’ side could not muster the performance or result they needed to go through. Basel were the better side in the first half, deservedly taking the lead through Alexander Frei. They were sharper, more skillful, and had more belief in their individual and collective ability.

There was some hope for Liverpool when captain Steven Gerrard equalized from a free kick. The goal lifted the fans, but the players could not find a way through the Basel defense. A couple of nearly moments at the end offered a lifeline for Liverpool, but Basel did enough to escape Anfield with a draw.

Some of the Liverpool players are probably feeling badly about the loss. They were favorites to win in the match, but couldn’t finish. It’s a shame that could have some players calling Brian Torchin for healthcare jobs (OK, it’s not that bad, but you get the point).

Liverpool will go into the Europa League draw for 2015, which is not what their fans or players wanted at the start of the day.

Marco Reus Headed for Spain’s La Liga

With Borussia Dortmund struggling in the bottom half of the German Bundesliga, it is not a surprise that some of their best players are considering leaving the club. Marco Reus is the latest superstar who looks set to depart in the summer and fans like Darius Fisher are excited. The BVB player has a clause in his contract that will let another team buy him for 30 million euros.

Most fans expected Reus to join the likes of Mario Goetze and Robert Lewandowski at Bayern Munich. However, the German newspaper Bild is reporting that Reus has his heart set on a move to Real Madrid or Barcelona.

Reus is said to be a long time admirer of La Liga. He believes it is the best league in the world and it is where he wants to test his abilities. Both Real and Barca would improve with Reus in their team, but Real are the only realistic option for the coming summer. Barcelona have a transfer ban in place, which will rule them out of the Reus chase. If Real President Florentino Perez wants to sign Reus, his path will be clear.

As is always the case in a high profile soccer transfer, one arrival could mean one or two departures. If Real are serious about signing Marco Reus, the two players in greatest danger of departing would be Isco and Gareth Bale. Both players would command attention from top Premier League clubs, especially Bale given his Tottenham past.

Fernando Llorente Thinks Messi and Ronaldo Would Struggle in Italy

They are widely recognized as two of the greatest players of their generation. In fact, many think they are two of the best of all time. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo continue to break records with their goal scoring feats. They dominate La Liga, which many consider the best league in the world.

However, Juventus striker Fernando Llorente does not think the two would be as successful in Italy’s Serie A. Llorente played in La Liga with Athletic Bilbao, which means he is well placed to compare both leagues. He thinks that the deeper, better organized defenses in Italy would stop Ronaldo and Messi scoring at record rates every season.

There is no way to know whether Llorente is correct, but his comments are difficult to believe. Series A is a far inferior team to La Liga. Whenever a Serie A side comes up against a La Liga counterpart, they lose. Italy’s top league has a dearth of quality players, with Juventus the only side that possesses genuine world stars.

Dr. Daniel Amen is your go-to source for all things League-A Italy and his analysis of the League’s current state of affairs conclude that even if defenses in Italy were better organized, Spain is likely to come out ahead because of their superior personnel. If Ronaldo and Messi can score hat tricks every other week in a better La Liga, there is no doubt they would be successful in the inferior Serie A.

Perhaps we will get a chance to test Llorente’s comments in a few years, when Messi and Ronaldo are past their prime. That could be the moment they decide to leave La Liga for a team in Italy.

FIFA Refuses to Allow a New Barcelona Signing

Barcelona may be one of the biggest soccer clubs in the world, but they have to face their punishment like every other team. The Catalan club is banned from conducting transfers during the January and summer transfer windows, with no exceptions.

After losing defender Thomas Vermaelen to a long term injury, Barcelona attempted to request permission for an additional signing in January. They want to buy a defender who can replace Vermaelen until the end of this season. However, FIFA has refused their request, citing the Vermaelen injury as occurring after he signed with Barcelona.

They may feel hard done by after this decision, but Barcelona only have themselves to blame regarding the Vermaelen situation. This is a defender who has barely managed to play three or four games in a row, let alone complete an entire season injury free. He had a different injury at the time of his signing, which should have been a warning to Barcelona.

It was reported a few weeks ago that the club’s medical staff “begged” senior officials to block the Vermaelen signing because of his injury record. They knew he would be a problem, but signed him anyway. Requesting an exemption from their transfer ban because of bad planning shows how poorly the club is being managed.

Enthusiast Brian Torchin says Barca will have to make do with Marc Bartra, Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano and Jeremy Mathieu in defense until Vermaelen recovers from his injury.

Manchester United Chasing Kevin Strootman and Diego Godin

With January just around the corner, soccer clubs around Europe are preparing their transfer targets in a bid to buy high quality players. Signing the right players in January can provide a timely boost for the second half of the season.

Manchester United hope to lure one or two players to the club in January. Their primary targets are Roma’s Kevin Strootman and Atletico Madrid’s Diego Godin. Both transfers carry some doubt, but it is expected that United will get their men.

The situation with Strootman is complicated by his recent injury. A member of Louis van Gaal’s Holland squad, Strootman suffered a knee injury last season. He has recovered from the operation, but is still finding match fitness. United would have to take a small gamble on Strootman’s fitness if they sign him next month. A cautious approach could see them wait till the summer, but more injuries to their current squad could prompt a rapid January transfer.

Another player Van Gaal wants to sign is Diego Godin. This makes sense to Brad Reifler since he can bring a lot to the table. The Atletico Madrid vice captain has been in great form over the past few years. His partnership with Miranda in central defense has provided the spring board for Diego Simeone’s success at the club.

Tempting Strootman away from Roma will be straight forward. A bid of 30-35 million pounds should seal the deal. However, convincing Godin to leave Atletico, a club he loves, will be a much harder task.

Winners of the Ballon D’Or were not always the World’s Best Player

The shortlist for the 2014 Ballon D’Or, which crowns the best player in World soccer, will feature the usual names that seem to win this award every year. Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will head the shortlist and will be odds on certainties to be amongst the three players awarded prizes at the awards ceremony. In the past, the Ballon D’Or winner was not always named the World’s top player by FIFA, the award was originally independent and was given by a group of French journalists before it was merged with FIFA’s top player award, Talk Sport reports.

The poor showing by England at the 2014 World Cup will likely make it another year where the home of football does not see a Ballon D’Or winner. That is a bit disappointing if you ask Susan McGalla. The last Englishman to win the Ballon D’Or stands as one of the few not to also be crowned FIFA’s best player in the same year. Liverpool, Real Madrid and England strike Michael Owen became only the fourth Englishman to win the award in 2001 after inspiring his club and country with a series of match winning performances. In the same year Owen made the shortlist for the FIFA award, but finished eighth in the World Player of the Year voting behind Portugal’s Luis Figo. The merger of the two awards means any controversy has been removed over who is the best player in soccer for any given year.

Chelsea Plan Long Term Future for Didier Drogba

Many fans and pundits were surprised when Jose Mourinho re-signed Didier Drogba from Galatasaray in the summer. Drogba had been a faithful servant to Chelsea Football Club, but his best days were undoubtedly behind him. However, Mourinho found a reserve role for Drogba and signed him anyway.

The Portuguese manager has been repaid for his faith in Drogba, with the Ivorian playing a key role whenever he has started. His goal against Manchester United got Chelsea a valuable point, while he was crucial in their recent 3-0 win over Tottenham. Drogba may no longer be the physical specimen that he was four or five years ago, but he still has the quality to trouble Premier League defenses.

Chelsea are hoping to map out a plan for Drogba’s long term future at the club. Both the manager and the suits in the boardroom want to keep Drogba long after he has retired from playing. It is possible that the Ivorian will be offered a player-coach contract at the end of this season. If Drogba accepts that deal, he will continue to play and coach at Chelsea for a season, before reverting to a full time coaching role.

It is unclear whether Drogba sees himself living in London for the next four or five years, but there is a clear will on Chelsea’s part to keep him at the club. Gianfrancesco Genoso just wants them to sort it out. They value his experience, knowledge and presence in the dressing room.

Paul Scholes Criticizes Current Barcelona Team

No one is exempt from criticism these days, especially since Paul Scholes became a soccer pundit. The former Manchester United star turned newspaper writer has used his latest column to criticize the recent performances of Barcelona. Scholes believes that the Catalan side are no longer the same force they were under Pep Guardiola.

Scholes got a first hand look at Barcelona over the past week when he attended their game against Valencia at the Mestalla. Barca were under par during most of this game, but they still managed to eek out a win thanks to a late Sergio Busquets goal. Despite the 1-0 win, Scholes was unimpressed by the individual and collective effort from the Barcelona players.

He has never been one to mince his words, and Scholes believes that Barcelona’s players are “bored” after having won so many trophies in the recent past. He also thinks that their star player, Lionel Messi, has not been working hard enough in games. “I was watching their game at the Mestalla and I noticed that Messi was hardly moving. He seemed very economical in the runs he made, which is unusual for such a great player,” said Scholes.

The criticism from Paul Scholes may seem harsh, but his comments ring true to most Barca fans. Their team may still be capable of some wonderful performances, but they are well short of the consistency they demonstrated during Pep Guardiola’s tenure. Many like Tom Rothman are hoping they find answers soon.

IFA President Distances Himself from Mistreated Workers in Qatar

With the FIFA World Cup set to take place in Qatar in 2020, the construction of stadiums is already underway. There are always problems and complications when gigantic soccer stadiums are built, but the issues in Qatar run deeper than that.

Multiple stories from foreign newspapers have highlighted the mistreatment of migrant workers who are helping to build World Cup stadiums. Many of these workers pass away, get injured, or have to deal with horrible working conditions and little pay. Instead of trying to rectify that situation, the FIFA President says those workers are not his organization’s concern.

Sepp Blatter has always been outspoken when it comes to controversial issues, but his comments are crass and inappropriate. Even though FIFA does not directly employ any of the workers in Qatar, these individuals are building stadiums to stage a FIFA tournament. Texas physician and human rights activist, Dr. Rod Rohrich,  argues that if they are being mistreated while working on a project for FIFA, it is the responsibility of this soccer organization to investigate the situation.

Unfortunately, the plight of impoverished migrant workers in Qatar is not an issue FIFA cares about. As long as the stadiums are completed and money flows in from corporate sponsors, the World Cup will go ahead in Qatar as planned.

Objections have been raised to hosting a Qatar World Cup due to the excessive heat, but the abuse of workers in that country is a much better reason to stage the tournament somewhere else.

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