Any games on today?
Yes, the final day of Champions League group stage play for the 2013-14 season. We will miss you, CL group stage matches. Rest in peace.
Anyway, today’s matches will decide whether Basel, Schalke, Dortmund, Napoli (though already incredibly likely) Arsenal, Zenit, Porto, Milan and Ajax progress. Have some of that, Champions League group stage relevance doubters! Obviously the game of the night is Milan vs Ajax in their winner-takes-all pairing. Good times! Full fixture list here, remaining group standings here, full list of results from last night here. Oh, and this just in, Juventus have crashed out of the Champions League.
What’s the big story?
Math may not be Manuel Pellegrini’s strong suit, but you know what? Getting the group stage alchemy in a four team home and away round robin is hard, man.
“I said it would be very difficult to beat Bayern by three goals,” Pellegrini said after the match. Except they needed one, and Pellegrini’s late substitutions indicate a man resigned to second place seeking to rest key players. From the Guardian:
“It was difficult to score two goals and I think that Silva had to play not more than 70 minutes,” Pellegrini told Sky Sports, defending the decision not to bring on his leading scorer, Sergio Agüero, with 20 minutes to go. “I was tempted if we scored the fourth goal – of course that’s why I sent Agüero to warm up.
I know this we’re supposed to view this as a disaster, but if City are the business and not one of those clubs seeking to raise a bit of TV money with a quarterfinal run, better to get the difficult opponent out of the way early, no?
Any other news?
As of publishing, Juventus is completing their decisive Champions League match against Galatasaray on a snow-plowed pitch perhaps more appropriate for 1994 Oldham Athletic to play on. It’s fun. You should watch it!
Roy Keane has more things to say about Manchester United, this time in the present tense:
“They don’t look like a team, just a collection of individuals running around.
‘You can defend players for making mistakes but you cannot defend players for not tackling and not getting close to people.
“They (United) had a couple of good chances through Ashley Young towards the end of the first half. He should certainly hit the target. I think it sums up his time at Man United, just not good enough.”
Napoli vs Arsenal could see some crowd trouble today as police warn Gunner fans not to leave hotels alone.
And the mayor of the Brazilian city Manaus, site of England’s World Cup match against Italy, responds to English newspaper that described the place as a “crime-ridden hell-hole.” “Whoever wrote that story and anyone else who wants to write about Manaus can come and I will show them the good parts as well as the bad,” said Arthur Virgilio. Kind of reminds me of this:
Any fun stuff?
Wesley Sneijder is still alive and kicking and ruining Juventus’ Champions League hopes:
Any good reads?
Yes. Marina Hyde is typically good in her take on Roy Keane’s fightin’ words against Alex Ferguson:
As far as anything concerning a wider perspective goes, there should be precisely none: and the Ferguson-Keane hostility certainly burns with an intensity in inverse proportion to its significance. In the great scheme of things, there have been platform change announcements less trivial than the two men’s discord – but then, this is more of what I want from a feud: thermonuclear warfare over an issue marginally less important than what I might have for my supper tonight.