rsz_4281095

Any football on today?

Champions League part deux! Lots of fun matches today, all 2:45 PM EST kickoffs. Chelsea vs Schalke should be vaguely interesting, and Arsenal get their rematch with Borussia Dortmund away from home. We also get Ajax vs Celtic and Barca vs Milan, again. The latter will be interesting because Messi is in crisis or something (see below). Full list of fixtures here. Results from yesterday here.

What’s the big story?

Manchester United Ashley Young won a dubious penalty on a divey dive against Real Sociedad in their 0-0 draw, but “the ball don’t lie”–Robin van Persie missed his spot kick. This is significant if you a) care deeply about diving and b) base your opinion of Young on this and not the fact he has lost his way as a once promising winger. That’s because Young has a habit of this kind of thing, which to my mind is evidence he’s bad at diving because he does it so obviously.

Former referee and current self-serving gadfly Graham Poll takes the opposite view and believes “technically it was an foul (sic)”, which, if we take the letter of the law approach on these things means there should be about a penalty a game in the Premier League.

David Moyes for his part refuses to trash his own player, perhaps taking a page from the Alex Ferguson play-book. Fine. His word is not the last on this. Perhaps too Moyes is thankful that Young’s antics took the tepid draw off the lede.

Any other news?

Honestly, not much. A lot of pre-Champs League match bluster quotes from the routine pressers, and post-match bluster after last night’s games. So if you care about what Pellegrini thinks about City, read this. If you want to know what Jose Mourinho thinks about what Chelsea need to do to get their act together, read this. If you care about Wenger’s prep ahead of their Dortmund game, please be my guest.

Well that sucks. Any good stuff?

It’s safe to say Bernd Leno had a stormer for Bayer against Shakhtar last night:

Any good reads?

Sid Lowe is typically good in his take on the Messi “crisis”: the Barcelona wonder hasn’t scored in four whole games! Lowe:

If this is a crisis, it is the kind that most players would love. But Messi is not most players. He made the extraordinary ordinary; now, a victim of the expectations he created, the four-times Ballon d’Or winner is making the very good look, well, not very good. “He set the bar so high that when he doesn’t score it feels like it’s a problem,” says the Barcelona coach, Gerardo “Tata” Martino. “But it’s not a problem.” The obvious question arises: isn’t it? Because if Martino says he is not worried, others are. And not entirely without reason.