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Wednesday tit-bits

Do Chelsea deserve any sympathy in Europe?

Hugh McIlvaney writes, in the Sunday Times last weekend, that Chelsea have had their plentiful share of hardships over the last half a dozen seasons when competing for the title at Europe’s top table.

They have suffered 4 semi-final exits, some more painful than others, and the injustice of losing due to a mishit John Terry penalty. Is this a true depiction of the views of the British footballing public or is it another case of the selective vision and selective memory of a patriotic journalist?

Their one appearance in the final so far was a solid performance but neither they nor Man Utd really threatened for the majority of the game and so they lost it on a lottery, perhaps they should have been more assertive in open play?

En-route to most of these semi finals Chelsea have not had to face the best sides in the draw. In a similar manner to the way in which they always seem to draw League 2 opposition at home in the FA cup they often find themselves with a tie against Stuttgart or Olympiakos or Fenerbache. Not sides to be sniffed at but hardly the cream of Europe. Perhaps I would offer more in the way of sympathy if they had had to play a prolific side, in the sort of form that the 2006-07 Milan side were in the Champions League.

The only possible exception to this rule was in 2005 when they played Barcelona and Bayern Munich to reach the semi finals before losing out to a solitary goal against eventual winners Liverpool. I suspect that Barcelona were not at their peak and Bayern have not been able to recreate the successes of the late 90s and early 2000s now that much of the Bundesliga is run on a tight budget.

Last season’s semi final against Barcelona is the main course of Hugh’s piece. Much like many other members of the media and the general public they are quick to mention a shocking performance from Ovrebo and the countless penalties that Chelsea should have been awarded. No one talks about the chances that Drogba missed in the away leg, nor the penalties that should have been doled out to Barcelona for Bosingwa’s tug on Henry’s shirt. Nor do they discuss the misfortune of Eric Abidal, who had to miss the final through suspension because Nicolas Anelka tripped over his own feet.

Tonight Ancelotti’s Chelsea face a former friend in Jose Mourinho, over 2 legs they should be able to ease past Inter. A side who are not in form, have drawn their last 4 matches 0-0. Who lead Serie A by 5 points, chasing a 5th consecutive but hollow title. The standard of the Italian league has slipped since it’s glory days in the 90s.

The key for Chelsea will be to use plenty of width against a Mourinho side expected to play a narrow 4-3-1-2. I look forward to the game tonight with much anticipation.

Pele stands up for Maradonna

After years of animosity, mainly based on the fact Pele has always jealously defended his super status as the game’s greatest player, Pele has defended his Argentine counterpart stating that “it was his first time coaching.” and blaming head of the AFA, Grondona, for installing him in a position of great importance. Full story here.

Ronaldo calling time on his career… not quite yet though.

Ronaldo (the Brazilian) has finally decided that he will be retiring from football, at the end of his new contract. The once prolific striker has signed a 2-year extension to his current deal with Corinthians in Brazil. His career has included spells at some great clubs including PSV, Barcelona, Inter and Real Madrid. More here.

Cristiano Ronaldo proclaimed as God in Madrid

The Spanish press on Monday morning were kissing the feet of the great CR9 or God.  AS and Marca would have you believe anyway. Sid Lowe reports for the Guardian.

Great goals and random video

Boriello stunner for AC Milan vs Bari, see it here.

Maradonna goes through an entertaining warm up routine, courtesy of Gab Marcotti


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