What To Watch This Weekend (Feb 25-26): Milan-Juve, North London Derby

February 25, 2012 — by Suman3


Saturday Feb 25

Italy, AC Milan vs. Juventus, 2:30pmET (FSC,  Could be the match that decides the Scudetto.  These two are the top of the Serie A table, separated by just a point (although Juve has a game in hand). Can La Vecchia Signora go into San Siro and beat the defending champions? A prominent subplot: this is aging midfielder Andrea Pirlo‘s return to Milan, to play against the club where he spent a decade as the premier deep-lying playmaker in Serie A (and perhaps in the world).

Spain, Espanyol vs. Levante 4pmET (ESPN Deportes, Yet another match pivotal in the bunched-up race for 4th place in La Liga.  Espanyol is tied for 4th with Athletic Bilbao (33 points), while Levante (and Atletico Madrid) are just a point behind them. We wrote last weekend about Espanyol’s youthful talent.


Sunday Feb 26

England, Arsenal vs. Spurs 8:30amET (FSC): The North London Derby–and for the first time in many years, Spurs are widely acknowledged to have the superior squad, and are favored to win on Arsenal’s home ground.  But Spurs supporter PoliticalFootballs isn’t buying it. An excerpt from his match preview:

I am not so optimistic about Tottenham’s chances, neither for this weekend or the following week’s match against United.  For too long, Spurs have looked good and then collapsed – it seems inevitable that it will happen again this year.  With their 10 point advantage over Arsenal, they have a great opportunity to finish above them for the first time since the 1994/5 season, having never done so since Arsene Wenger became the Gunners’ manager.  Tottenham have also not done the double (beat them home and away) over their neighbours since 1992/3 – and even then, the match at Highbury was against a makeshift team, as the home side were looking ahead to the FA Cup final the following week.

Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven vs. Feyenoord 8:30amET (ESPN Deportes, #1 in the Eredivisie table vs #5, separated by only 4 points (with AZ Alkmaar, Heerenveen and Twente in between, and Ajax in 6th a point behind Feyenoord).  Also a chance to see some young Dutch internationals that are still playing in the home country: from PSV defender Erik Pieters and midfielders Georginio Wijnaldum and Kevin Strootman are in the Dutch squad that will be playing England on Wednesday, as is Feyenoord central defender Ron Vlaar.  The one to watch is deep-lying midfielder Strootman, who has been called the future of the Dutch midfield.

Germany, Bayern Munich vs. Schalke 9:30amET ( #3 hosts #4 in the Bundesliga table.  Bayern is in somewhat of a crisis, after slipping behind both Borussias in the table, and then losing at Basel in the Champions League last Wednesday.  They’ll need to win at home to avoid falling further into crisis–and to avoid falling further behind the Borussias.

Spain, Rayo Vallecano vs. Real Madrid 10amET (, tape at 5 p.m. on ESPN Deportes): A Madrid derby of sorts–Rayo Vallecano is located in the Vallecas neighborhood of Madrid, where they play at the 15,500-capacity Campo de Futbol de Vallecas. Rayo Vallecano just got back to the first division this season, after spending most of the past decade in Segunda Division and Segunda Division B. But they’re currently just two points off that all-important 4th place, and Sid Lowe cited them as a team that’s worth watching in a recent column:

Look at La Liga now and few teams are exciting; few look genuinely good; fewer still have achieved any sort of consistency. Rayo Vallecano are one (five wins in seven and great to watch), Athletic Bilbao another (they lost three of their first four but just three in 19 since), improving Atlético Madrid perhaps a third. A case can be made for Espanyol. And then?

England Carling Cup, Liverpool vs. Cardiff City 11amET (FSC): Liverpool’s first time back at Wembley since the 1996 FA Cup final (a match that’s remembered more for the Spice Boys’ pre-match white Armani suits than for the match itself).

Italy, Napoli vs. Inter Milan 2:30pmET FSC, Another chance to watch perhaps the most exciting and dynamic attack in Europe–Napoli’s front line of Cavani, Lavezzi and Hamsik, supported by Inler and Gargano in the center of the midfield, Zuniga and Maggio on the wings.  (Note that Maggio is the only Italian among those, and note the strong South American contingent: Cavani and Gargano are Uruguayan, while Lavezzi is Argentine.)

Spain, Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona 3:30pmET (GolTV): Might Barca drop yet more points at the Estadio Vicente Calderón?  Atletico certainly has more to play for, as they’ve climbed back into contention for that last Champions League spot, while Barcelona has practically given up any chance of catching Real Madrid for the La Liga title–due to struggles on the road–and has consequently shifted their focus and energies on the Champions League campaign.  We looked at Atletico’s squad–and their recently installed manager, former Atletico player (and Argentine international) Diego Simeone–in this post a month ago.


AC Milan Needs to Beat the Top Teams, Stat

February 3, 2012 — by Rob Kirby


The Tevez-Pato “will he? won’t he” questions ricocheted every which way this January as the musical chairs transfers song played at AC Milan, but at the end everyone retook their own chairs. Boring. Perhaps they were dating Berlusconi’s daughter, or were on £200,000 a week slave wages that no one else could match, but whatever the reason, that anti-climax will be followed up by a busy February and early March. The Rossoneri take on first-place Juventus twice in the Coppa Italia and once in the league, Napoli and Udinese in the league, not to mention the two Champions League legs against Arsenal.

It all starts with the home match/grudge match against Napoli this Sunday at 2:30 ET (Fox Soccer).

To put the upcoming matches in perspective, Milan has not beaten any team in the top five in a league match this season, including the painful loss to Inter in the Derby della Madonnina in January. Furthermore, Napoli beat Milan 3-1 in their only other matchup this season. If Milan continues to find itself unable to beat the top teams, this upcoming run could prove very difficult and very damaging.

However, aside from the Tevez-Pato dud of inaction, Milan did bring in five reinforcements over the window to deal with the second half of the season, including striker Maxi Lopez from Catania and out-of-favor midfielder Sulley Muntari from Inter. Coming off a disappointing 2-0 loss to Lazio that could have seen them take pole position, they have everything to play for—and conversely, everything to lose.

Napoli has stuttered to a string of draws and a defeat to Genoa of late, but Cavani fired them to a 2-0 victory over Inter in the Coppa Italia last week and they could come roaring back this Sunday.

Feb 5, 9:00 ET  AC Milan  vs.  Napoli
Feb 8, 2:45 ET  AC Milan  vs.  Juventus
Feb 11, 12:00 ET  Udinese  vs.  AC Milan
Feb 15, 2:45 ET  AC Milan  vs.  Arsenal
Feb 19, 9:00 ET  Cesena  vs.  AC Milan
Feb 21, 2:45 ET  Juventus  vs.  AC Milan
Feb 25, 2:45 ET  AC Milan  vs.  Juventus
Mar 3, 12:00 ET  Palermo  vs.  AC Milan
Mar 6, 2:45 ET  Arsenal  vs.  AC Milan

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has 15 goals in the Serie A this season. But should he get injured or need a breather during the fast-and-furious fixtures ahead, Lopez may be called into action. Alexandre Pato suffered a thigh strain last month that may see him missing out on the next 4 matches, including the home leg against Arsenal. Lopez was not top-choice at Catania, so while there is cover, it’s not of the same quality. The decision between Lopez and Tevez was never one of equals, rather of finances.

New loan signing Muntari continues his international engagements with the Ghana national team in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon and may not be back in time for the Champions League fixture against Arsenal in the San Siro, either. Muntari was brought on to help bolster a depleted midfield that has lost Mathieu Flamini, Gennaro Gattuso, Alexander Merkel and Alberto Aquilani to injury. Kevin Prince-Boateng also has spent quality time on the injury table of late.

Obviously, with talented players such as Thiago Silva, Robinho, van Bommel, Seedorf, Ambrosini and Zambrotta all hale and hearty, the team is not in crisis, but performances this month could very well determine their fates in all remaining competitions: the league, the Coppa Italia and the Champions League.

It should be getting quite interesting quite soon.


What To Watch Today (Tues 31 Jan): More AfCON, Parma-Juve, Both Manchester Sides, Mirandés-Athletic Bilbao

January 31, 2012 — by Suman


African Cup of Nations (Group C), Gabon vs Tunisia (1pmET, Al-Jazeera Sports / Eurosport International):Tunisia and tournament co-host Gabon both won their first two group games and hence will advance to the final eight (while the other two teams in the group, Niger and disappointing Morocco, will go home). So might as well take a look at two teams that we’ll see in the quarterfinals, as they play for top of the group:

  • Gabon will win the group if they do not lose to Tunisia.
  • Tunisia will win the group if they defeat Gabon.

[Update: this match has been postponed due to heavy snow!] Italy (Serie A), Parma vs Juventus (2:45pmET, or in US): Juventus still topping the table, in pole position as the race for the Scudetto enters the home stretch.  We wrote this last month re La Vecchia Signora (The Grand Old Lady, as Juve is called in Italy) ahead of their match with Udinese [with annotations in brackets]:

Juventus is perhaps even more surprising [than Udinese]–still undefeated in the league (9W 6D 0L) [in fact, still undefeated! 12W 8D 0L].  We finally got to watch Juve play (thanks to the fact we flew cross-country on JetBlue, and so were captive with GolTV for 10 hours), specifically the rather dramatic Coppa Italia match they played against Bologna.  Players to watch on Juve: holding midfielder and Milan transplant Andrea Pirlo,  Claudio Marchisio, Paraguayan Marcelo Estigarribia, ageless trequartista Alessandro del Piero; we also like to see Dutchman Eljero Elia, whose been somewhat lost in the shuffle since coming over from Hamburg in August.

We don’t know much about Parma, who are mid-table (11th place); here’s what livesoccertv’s preview has to say:

Parma are likely to be stiff opposition, as since their humiliating 5-0 defeat to Inter Milan at the San Siro in early January they have gone unbeaten in three successive league games, with a 3-1 home victory over Siena and two away draws against Bologna and Catania, respectively.

Furthermore, their home record is quite impressive, with five wins, three draws and a mere two losses in ten games. But in order for Parma to obtain a positive result, much depends on the form of former Juve striker Sebastian Giovinco.

The diminutive 25-year-old has scored four goals in his last three games against his former club and will be hoping to convert once again in order to boost his teams chances of causing an upset.

“Giovinco is the star and we know him well,” Giorgio Chiellini, the wary Juve defender, stated in reference to the talented striker, who incidentally scored Parma’s only goal in the 4-1 defeat to Juventus in September.

England (Premier League), Everton vs Manchester City (3pmET, Fox Deportes and FSC in US) or Manchester United vs Stoke City (also 3pET, ESPN Deportes, ESPN2, in US): It’s come down to the two Manchester teams at the top of the Premier League table–City on top with 58pts, ManU on 51.  With the results a week ago Sunday, they’ve put some distance between them and the rest of the pack (Tottenham is 3rd with 46, Chelsea 5th with 41).

Pick whichever Mancunian side you prefer to watch.  The Everton-ManCity match (which like Parma-Juve is a case of the league-leaders going playing away against an erractic mid-table side) has the added attraction of American Landon Donovan, who’s not long on loan and on display in the Premier League. –Everton are 14th in the league, but they’re coming off a big 2-1 win Friday against Fulham in the FA Cup (with Donovan assisting both goals from his right wing position).

MU-Stoke is a closer matchup in terms of the table–Stoke sits in 8th, just 4 points behind Liverpool (and 5pts behind Newcastle and Arsenal, both of whom have 36pts).  But we really don’t have anything to say about what to watch w.r.t. Stoke.

Spain (Copa del Rey semifinal – 1st leg), CD Mirandés vs Athletic Bilbao (4pmET, no US TV): The Spanish clubs turn right around after playing out their quarterfinal ties last week for semifinal first legs this week.  The more high-profile match is tomorrow (Valencia vs Barcelona), and given this is a mismatch on paper–Mirandés plays in Segunda División B (i.e., 3rd division, below La Liga and Segunda División A), and so Athletic, one of the great clubs of Spain, is heavily favored to advance to the final.  Nevertheless, we try to watch Bilbao play whenever possible, given their Bielsan philosophy.  Here is what we wrote in November, ahead of their match against Barcelona:

Athletic Bilbao–the Basque team which aspires to be one of the “alternatives” to the Barcelona/Madrid axis of hegemony in La Liga, which is newly managed by a crazy genius Argentine whom Pep Guardiola considers one of his managerial inspirations–to whose house in Argentina Guardiola made a pilgrimage when he was considering a career as a manager.

His name is Marcelo Bielsa, his arrival in Bilbao was highly anticipated, and his tenure there started terribly: two draws and three losses in their first five league matches. But they started to turn it around at the beginning of October, which prompted both of the Guardian’s cerebral football columnists Sid Lowe and Jonathan Wilson to devote columns to Bilbao under Bielsa.


EnglandItalySpainThe Americas

What We Watched Yesterday + W2W Today: Three More Cop(p)a Matches

January 26, 2012 — by Suman


Yesterday was quite an afternoon of football, with two compelling Cup matches.  Turns out there’s more today–another Copa del Rey quarterfinal second leg, another Coppa Italia quarterfinal, and–this just in from our Uruguayan buddy–it’s time for Copa Libertadores again.  Click thru for livesoccertv’s TV listings and match previews:

Coppa Italia quarterfinal – Milan vs Lazio - 8:45pm CET / 2:45pmET / 7:45pm GMT (USA: GolTV, From FootballItalia: “It is a swift return to San Siro [for Lazio], where the Biancocelesti were beaten 2-1 [by Milan] at the weekend.”

Copa dey Rey quarterfinal – Levante vs Valencia – 10pm CET / 4pm ET / 9pm GMT (No USA TV): The 2nd leg of this Valencia derby is at Levante’s home field (Estadio Ciudad de Valencia), with Valencia holding a commanding 4-1 lead from the 1st leg at the Mestalla.  Remarkably, however, Levante are 4th in La Liga, just 4 points behind Valencia (31 vs 35, as compared with Barcelona’s 44 and Madrid’s 49).

Copa Libertadores – Peñarol vs Caracas – 5:45pmET (USA: Fox Deportes): “Uruguayan giants Penarol clash with Caracas of Venezuela in the first leg of the Copa Libertadores preliminary qualification play-off at the Centenario stadium of Montevideo on Thursday.”

Let’s also take a quick look back at what we watched yesterday:

Liverpool will be returning to Wembley, for the Carling Cup final, after stunning Man City at Anfield (yesteday’s result was a 2-2 draw, but Liverpool advance by virtue of a 3-2 aggregate score over the two legs, having won the first leg at Etihad Stadium 1-0). Crazily the second half of that English game overlapped with a much bigger game in Barcelona–the 2nd leg of the El Clasico Copa del Rey quarterfinal clash. We watched both games simultaneously, by virtue of sitting at the bar at Woodwork.  But it made for a disjointed afternoon, given that the sound was on for Liverpool-City for that game, with approximately half the audience watching that one, while the other half focused on the Spanish match (including a table of rather distractingly loud jersey-wearing self-proclaimed Cules del Barça in the back, who had also been there for the first leg).

All that, plus conversation with a couple Liverpool supporters that we’d met at the spot before, meant that we didn’t really absorb the nuances of either match.  From what we can recall (we should have jotted down some notes), it seemed like City was dominating (possession, at least) for long stretches in the first half, although Gerrard and Parker did fairly well in breaking up City attacks in the center of midfield–but of course Silva did get free on occasion, most damagingly for Nigel De Jong’s surprising screamer of a goal.  On the other hand, Liverpool did grow into the match in the second half, with Gerrard, Downing and Adams on occasion delivering the fine balls they’re known for, and Kuyt getting into space on the right flank especially.  It was from that direction that the decisive goal came from, with the irrepressible Craig Bellamy combining with Glen Johnson for the 74′ goal that gave the aggregate advantage back to Liverpool.  It was a stunner since Man City had just pulled even on aggregate–and with an away-goal advantage–with an emphatic finish by Edin Dzeko, who got behind the Liverpool defender on the back post to slam home a Kolarov cross from the left wing (the rather loud Man City supporter who’s a Woodwork regular leapt to his feet and shouted “UNLEASH THE DZEKO!” for the whole bar to hear, which drew plenty of laughs.  But his Liverpool-supporting friends/rivals had the last laugh..

All of our attention (and the sound system) shifted to El Clasico, which was about 25′ in by then.  Out of the corner of our eye, we’d seen the two early misses by Higuain, and in general how Barcelona looked a little discombobulated, especially in trying to play the ball out of the back.  Edhinho’s observations after the game: “Barca strangely lacked control and gave away the ball much more carelessly. Could it be that as Madrid plays them more and more, like regular pick up games, players start to read the  now familar players’ moves and become more effective in pressurizing them to lose it?”  But predictably, and to the joy of los Cules, Barca went up 2-0, off a dashing run and pass by Messi for a Pedro goal, and then from a cracker by Dani Alves just before the half-time whistle.

It seemed as if the tie had been decided–a 4-1 lead for Barcelona on aggregate, with 45 minutes left to play at the Camp Nou?  No chance for Madrid, right–especially given the recent history between these two sides.

But then, to the confusion of Cules everywhere, Madrid did not fold, and Mourinho did not go insane.  Instead he made some interesting and pivotal substitutions.  Let me quote Sean’s “¡El Clásico Fantasico!” match report, since he watched the game in the quiet confines of home and hence with more concentration (he might have even taken notes, as he is wont to do):

Heading in at halftime Barcelona had shot twice, scored twice. Madrid had more chances, but weren’t bringing players forward quickly enough to  play a possession game in Barça’s half.   That changed in the second period, when Mourinho made three changes, bringing in Esteban GraneroKarim Benzema, and José Callejón for Diarra, Higuain and Kaka, respectively. Within 15 minutes the game was 2-2. Ronaldo was set free by a piercing pass off the foot of Germany’s Özil, and Benzema acrobatically brought down a cross before smashing home the tying goal. Along the way Callejón had a perfect cross skid off his pompadour that would’ve helped the effort.

Though I’m a Barcelona supporter, it was exciting to see younger players like Granero and Callejón get a chance to play alongside more often-seen Madrid creative players Benzema and Özil.

Enough about yesterday’s matches–we’ll revisit the Carling Cup ahead of the Liverpool-Cardiff City final, and we’ll revisit Barcelona-Madrid again in the coming months, as there will be at least one more Clasico (a La Liga fixture at the Camp Nou, which will likely be essential for Barcelona to even hope of catching Madrid in the table), and perhaps one or two Champions League matches as well.



Resurgent Inter claim il derby della Madonnina

January 16, 2012 — by Sean3


Atop the tallest spire of Milan’s cathedral sits a statue of the virgin Mary, her gaze fixed upon a Po valley split between the supporters of two giants in Italian football: A.C. Milan and Inter Milan. When these teams meet twice a year at the San Siro, the winning players symbolically join la Madonnina at the city’s highest point. They, adored by their followers as if sprung from the womb of Christianity’s mother themselves, are kings of the city.

In a game that showed nearly even odds, the red and black side should have been the favorites. First in the league, officially the “home” side and with exciting young talents like Pato, Boateng, and Emanuelson mixed in with sturdy vetarans, all three points were surely theirs for the taking. Instead, the transfer drama surrounding Pato’s possible move to PSG created extra tension before the match (not to mention his dip in form and seeming lack of passion on the field – possibly refocused on his girlfriend, Barbara Berlusconi, daughter of Silvio and VP of the club). But it wasn’t just distractions picking at Milan, all credit must go to the blue and blacks from Inter, who’ve been on the rise after a torrid start to the season.

The first half saw Milan consistently pressing , with Ibrahimavich dropping behind Pato and collecting the ball, while letting the very quick and skilled Emanuelson overlap into forward positions (the young dutchman generally plays on the left, but was here being used as a center attacking midfielder). Emanuelson was everywhere in the attacking half of the field, working hard to find space and only misplacing one pass in the first 45 minutes. But Milan could not find a way to goal, with Pato missing a decent chance and only Inter having a real shot – and that against the run of play.

Inter did create some danger down the right wing, where the combination of Zanetti, Maicon and Alvarez worked nicely formed one-two passes to pull Thiago Silva out of position (but what an amazing centerback the Milan man is, and partnered with Nesta…a sturdy pairing). But there was to be no score in the first half, and Inter would surely need to make adjustments if they were to properly challenge for the win.

Oddly,  Milan were the side to change, slipping into a 4-4-2 and moving Emanuelson out to the right. The dutch/surinam player then disappeared for the remainder of the game as Inter turned up the pressure.

It was Milito who had the breakthrough right after the start of the second half. Il principe always looked a threat to score if given the chance, and when it was there he took it, collecting the ball just outside the penalty box, settling sweetly and slotting home against the opposite inside post. His balance was perfection and the finish a thing of beauty. From then on Milan looked as dysfunctional as the pregame headlines suggested, while Inter were the team rising from the ashes, pushing toward the top of the league. Inter pressed and pressed looking for a second goal, and Milan couldn’t put together a proper attacking movement for the remainder of the game – save for a brief flash created by 19 yr-old El Shaarawy (of Italian/Egyptian parentage) who replaced the ineffectual Pato with ten minutes to go.

Inter ran out Sneijder for a bit at the end along with Forlan, both of whom are just back from injury. Milan countered with Seedorf and Robinho, but ultimately 35 yr-old Seedorf was completely owned by 38 yr-old Zanetti, and Robinho has stopped being a threat in front of goal. 1-0 to the visitors, Juventus leap ahead of Milan into first, and Inter continue to push toward a Champions League spot.


Initiation Project Begins – Jid Responds

December 21, 2011 — by Suman


Remember how yesterday we wrote about our friend that we’re aiming to initiate into the cult of football?  (No? Read this real quick.)

Well, we emailed that link to him–not only did he read the post, when we asked if he clicked through and read the three links we posted (one each for MessiBalotelliDempsey) he replied via email (and gave us permission to blockquote):

i just read them all.

i definitely like your cross-section.

i had no idea messi is only 22 … looks and plays like a wise old owl. as you predicted, i instantly fell for the dempsey story of a gifted (texan?) american cutting his teeth until finding success in the premiere league. as for the italian/african UPPERCASE!! phenom from grantland, all i can say is awesome. i cant wait for his highlights to live up to his hype.

awesome post.

You can tell the guy knows sports, and sounds like he’s up for our little project.  This will be fun.

I promised him a YouTube clip in this post. I’ll do one better and offer up two

The 1st is a compilation of highlights from Mario’s short stint at Inter Milan (2007-2010, i.e., when he was 17-20 years old); that one is titled, oddly, “|?|Mario Balotelli-The Indisciplinate boy” (something lost in translation from Italian perhaps?). The 2nd is from his current tenure at Manchester City (Aug 2010 – ), titled “Mario Balotelli | The good, bad and funny | 2010/2011”:


Spurs win in Milan

February 15, 2011 — by John Lally

Gattuso needs his meds increased (or decreased)...

Some quick thoughts on Spurs’ triumph at the San Siro, just as soon as I try and stop an Italian from headbutting a 59 year old Scot…

First and foremost, that was a fantastic performance from pretty much everyone on the Spurs team.  Gomes made some crucial saves, the defence looked more solid than ever and the midfield linked up well with Crouch, creating numerous chances.  Special mention must go to Van der Vaart, who was able to only play for 60 minutes as he was coming back from a hamstring strain, but with better luck he could have two goals at least.  His invention and dynamism in the middle of the park galvanised the whole team and it showed how much we now rely on a player who was not even with us in the first few weeks of the season. Lennon and Pienaar on the wings worked really hard at both ends of the pitch, frustrating Milan who could not find any way through.  Crouch led the line fantastically and took his goal with great confidence, not to mention managing to keep up with Lennon who looked like Road Runner as he gave Yepes a serious case of twisted blood.  It was great to see Modric back also, his sure passing helping us quell any late comeback from Milan, who deserved nothing more than a defeat.

I have so many negative feelings about the Milan performance, the kindest of which is that they just were not very good.  The worst of it was their petulance and dirty play – typified by Flamini breaking Corluka’s foot, not being sent off and then complaining that Spurs were time-wasting as the Spurs medical staff were picking up all the pieces of bone that had come off the Croatian’s leg.  Gattuso took it to a whole new level though, fouling everyone in sight and then going head to head with Joe Jordan, our 59 year old Assistant Coach.  He continued to kick his way through the night, eventually picking up a yellow card which rules him out of the second leg, but even after the final whistle he was not done – sizing up to Jordan again and clearly head-butting him.  A lengthy ban from competition should be coming for him, though my preference would be to get him in a ring with the Scot, who, even at an advanced age, I’d back to come out on top.

The biggest compliment to Spurs superiority came at the very end of the game though.  Watching the corner from which Ibrahimovic thought he had scored, after a clear push on Michael Dawson, I noticed that Milan had sent their keeper up in a desperate attempt to get a draw…in the first leg of a two-legged tie. That said a lot about their confidence in being able to get a win at White Hart Lane on March 9th, that they would risk being caught on the break in a last ditch attempt at equalising.

One final note, in several of the match reports I have read about Spurs getting the “Crucial Away Goal”.  This is not actually the case – an away goal can only come into  effect if the home team also scores – there is no result at the Lane that could result in Spurs going through on away goals.  For years there has been a basic mis-understanding of what the “Away Goal Rule” means and the effect it can have.  The crucial part of the Spurs goal, was that it gave us a 1-0 lead going into the home game.

But what a result – Come On You Spurs!