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Mourinho, Milan and Rooney's 'move to Madrid'

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Phil Minshull | 10:17 UK time, Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The two most successful teams in European club history go head-to-head in the Champions League this week.

And both Real Madrid, who have won the European Cup and Champions League nine times, and AC Milan, who have seven triumphs to their name, go into Tuesday's game at the Santiago Bernabeu in good form domestically.

Jose Mourinho's men are unbeaten and top of La Liga, boasting both the best scoring and defensive records after finding the net 16 times and conceding only three goals.

The 6-1 thrashing of Deportivo La Coruna two weeks ago was followed up by a 4-1 win at a hapless Malaga side on Saturday, results that have certainly helped Real put behind them their rather uncertain start to the season.

Drab goalless draws at Mallorca and Levante hardly acted as a showcase for the new talents signed in the summer but Real's strikers have clearly rediscovered the art of finding the net since then.

Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria have certainly proven their worth as summer signings, even if the Argentine took a little longer than his German team-mate to find his feet.

For me, the key to Real's rise to the top of the table has actually been their back four.

Gonzalo Higuain in action for Real Madrid against MalagaGonzalo Higuain scored twice in the weekend win over Malaga - photo: Reuters

Sergio Ramos, who is expected be fit to face Milan after missing the Malaga game with a slight right knee problem, is one of the few members of Spain's World Cup-winning team not to suffer from a hangover after their triumph in South Africa, while Marcelo is becoming a world-class left back.

In the centre of defence, Pepe and fellow Portuguese international Ricardo Carvalho are now habitually eliminating any danger after a slightly uncertain first few games.

However, Milan will be the first serious test for Real this season.

As for Milan, they suffered a shock 2-0 loss at Cesena on the opening day but since then have gone undefeated and risen to second in Serie A, two points behind Lazio.

Like Real, Milan did not always look convincing in their early games but were impressive in their 3-1 win over Chievo on Saturday, with two goals in the first 30 minutes from Pato effectively wrapping up the game.

I am still very sceptical about how people will view Milan's signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic when we get to May but he was good against Chievo and helped set up both of Pato's goals, although he was unfortunate to be credited with an own goal from a deflection.

If Pato and Ibrahimovic can combine as well against Real and Gianluca Zambrotta and Alessandro Nesta can contain Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo, perhaps Milan can repeat their 3-2 win of last season in the Bernabeu, when Pato also got a brace.

Real are never far away from transfer speculation and Tuesday's game was given added intrigue by Wayne Rooney's reported unwilingness to sign a new deal with Manchester United.

The perspective from this end of Europe is that Rooney is unlikely to be following in the footsteps of those other United players to have left Old Trafford for the Bernabeu.

Real director general Jorge Valdano gave a diplomatic answer to all the Rooney speculation when he appeared on Spanish local TV station Telemadrid on Monday.

"We have two wonderful players (Ronaldo and Higuain) up front and they showed last season that they are able to score 60 goals. Di Maria and Ozil will help. The question is who is removed for Rooney?"

Interestingly, Valdano did not mention Real striker Karim Benzema, who is expected to leave either during the January transfer window or, at the very latest, next summer.

Other so-called sources at Real have also been quick to provide their own rationale to various Spanish media to dampen speculation about a possible move for Rooney.

He is out of form at the moment (although that is something he can recover), unfit (again, that is something that can be resolved and he is only 24) and too expensive (although Real Madrid certainly have the money if they really wanted to sign him). But the most telling negative against him is apparently the public exposure of his private life.

Real president Florentino Perez knows that his current squad is unlikely to be comprised solely of angelic pious creatures but he prefers his players to keep their personal activities out of the papers.

AC MiIan striker Robinho in action against Chievo.Robinho bagged his first Rossoneri goal at the weekend against Chievo - photo: Reuters

Nevertheless, anyone with a decent memory will remember that Perez and members of his 'team' have a habit of being economic with the truth.

Remember his famous response to a direct question posed by a BBC radio reporter about whether he would sign David Beckham? "Never, never, never," Perez uttered on 29 April, 2003, only six weeks before a deal was formally agreed.

However, on this occasion, it looks like a very good bet that Rooney will end up elsewhere, although Valdano kept the door to the Bernabeu slightly ajar for two good, but self-serving, reasons.

Firstly, to ensure that any of Europe's other top clubs - but especially if Barcelona are in the market for Rooney - will have to pay a good price for him.

Secondly, in the unlikely event that Rooney becomes a bargain basement buy towards the end of his contract in 2012, Perez could yet be tempted to sign the England striker.

On a different note, I was in Belgrade at the weekend for the European Athletics Awards Gala, during which the conversation quickly turned to the abandoned Euro 2012 qualifier between Italy and Serbia last week.

Every single Serbian I talked to was dismayed by the events in Genoa and unhesitatingly condemned the hooligans, aware of the stain that had been left on their country's international and sporting reputation.

It seems certain - and appropriate - that Uefa take some sanctions against Serbia but, since this blog gives me the opportunity to make some personal observations and comments, I would ask Europe's governing body to make it a measured response.

The ultimate sanction is for Serbia to be kicked out of Euro 2012 and possibly even banned from future tournaments. Personally, I would favour replaying the game and deducting two or three points.

Banning Serbia would not achieve anything, in my opinion, as it would penalise Serbia's international footballers, who were clearly not to blame, as well as handicapping Estonia, who beat Serbia 3-1 just days before, as all previous results would be nullified.

A ban would also punish Serbia's decent football fans, despite the country's lurid reputation for football violence.

I do not think giving Italy a 3-0 win by default is the answer either. This, in my opinion, would be unfair to Slovenia, Estonia, Northern Ireland and the Faroe Islands. A 3-0 default victory could give Italy an undeserved advantage in a closely contested group.

Nor am I in favour of the game being replayed behind closed doors. That would, in turn, be unfair to Italian fans, although there would have to be increased security for any replay that is accessible to the public.

I am not in favour of Serbia being forced to play their home games behind closed doors either. Serbia's next home match is scheduled to take place on 25 March against Northern Ireland. Five months should be enough time for the Serbian government and football authorities to ensure that the game goes off without incident.

There will certainly be a lot of interest in this match. The Serbian authorities have made some clear statements about drastically reducing the hooligan element attending games in their country and their actions will be held up to scrutiny when Nigel Worthington's men arrive in an attempt to emulate their Estonian counterparts.

I would especially welcome well-reasoned thoughts about the issue of possible sanctions against Serbia in the space below but please do not make the moderators' lives a misery and please keep the responses related to football.

Other questions on European football to: europeanfootball@hotmail.co.uk. I don't need your full address but please put the town/city and country where you come from. As this week is a very long blog, I've held over this section.

Comments

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  • 1. At 11:24am on 19 Oct 2010, Goonerd wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 2. At 11:30am on 19 Oct 2010, Torres Is a Blue wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 3. At 11:31am on 19 Oct 2010, gunnerslovver2007 wrote:

    Notice that he didn't mention Kaka as well as Benzema, I know it's unlikely, especially with the cash flow problems at ManU but Rooney + 20/30 Mill for Kaka and Benzema would leave United looking stronger and Real too, bringing in one capable striker, proven to work well with Ronaldo while shipping out the negative influences on their squad from players who so far haven't fit in and look dissatified.

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  • 4. At 11:32am on 19 Oct 2010, Goonerd wrote:

    Best solution would be to replay the match with no admission to serbian fans. A bit unfair but some measures have to be taken!

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  • 5. At 11:34am on 19 Oct 2010, JamTay1 wrote:

    Hi Phil

    Great blog. What a mouthwatering clash this will be. I can't understand that you are questioning Ibrahimovics signing by Milan. Just look at his record in Italian football. I also think that he wasn't quite the failure in Spain that some of his detractors like to label him as. His record was quite decent, but I think he struggled to fit into the Barcelona system. Ibra always performs better when a team is built around his own considerable talents.

    For Real as with Liverpool when he was there, I think Alonso is the key player. He links the defence and the attack and is simply a wonderful player. I would go so far as to put him on the same level as Xavi and Iniesta. I think the signing of Carvalho to play alongside Pepe was a masterstroke and perhaps we will see a serious challenge from Real in the Champions League this year.

    With regards to the Rooney to Madrid rumors, this is a complete non starter. It's just the same old agent provoked garbage that happens when contract renewals come around. Also Real have superior players in their attacking line up so it's a complete non starter for me.

    I have some sympathy for Serbia, to possibly lose points due to the behavior of some of their 'fans' appears very harsh on the players and team. I would prefer to see them fined and tough sentences given to the identified trouble makers.

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  • 6. At 11:40am on 19 Oct 2010, jewers wrote:

    On the Italy Serbia issue I agree that throwing Serbia out of the competition would punish the wrong people. Assuming that if identified the hooligans in question will be banned from all future games the best way to punish them is by deducting points from the team they were there to support. A suspended fine for the Serbian Football Association would also give them full encouragement to deal with the issue. A 3 point penalty and a game replay would be the best option in my opinion in terms of the fixture.

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  • 7. At 11:48am on 19 Oct 2010, Rob04 wrote:

    This will be an interesting clash I must admit and looking forward to watching it. More interesting would have been Madrid against Inter but hopefully we'll get that at some point.

    Serbia? I like them as a team and don't really think that I want to see players punished for fans but coming out and 'appearing' to applaud them was poor. I think the game should be replayed but with a longer sanction on their fans: ban them for the next three games. In other words, whatever home matches they face during this period either play them at a neutral venue or behind closed doors, and restrict ticket sales for any away fixtures.

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  • 8. At 11:48am on 19 Oct 2010, Radar wrote:

    Another excellent blog Phil.

    I agree that a 3-0 win is not the answer. Italy did nothing to merit that result, so a replay with no Serb fans (maybe no fans for the remainder of qualifying) and a points deduction for Serbia would be best. Giving Italy a 3-0 win gives them an advantage over the other teams that they have not warrented.

    Excellent prospect with Madrid vs Milan, can't wait. I don't watch many European games when an English club isn't involved, but this is one that can't be missed!

    With regards Rooney, as an England fan I think a move abroad would be really good for him. He would do well to be forced to adapt to new surroundings (I think Beckham improved after leaving United) and getting away from the intense English media would be a good thing for him and possibly his marriage - however I can't see why Madrid or Barca would want him? The only club I could see at the moment (who could afford his wages) and would benefit from having him is Man City, and that would mainly be just to taunt United more!

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  • 9. At 11:51am on 19 Oct 2010, denzilbf wrote:

    Can not wait to watch this game. I do have a feeling Milan will lose because there's a lack of defensive cover. Pato, Ibra, Robinho and Ronaldinho aren't known for tracking back, and I feel that will hurt Milan in the long run.

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  • 10. At 11:56am on 19 Oct 2010, David Jahngir wrote:

    "while Marcelo is becoming a world-class left back." Utterly unbelievable, have not read this "expert" column for a while, now I remember why..You could have also pointed out how Ribery was almost a certain Madrid player until his personal indiscretions damaged him as a player to Perez but I am probably asking too much

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  • 11. At 12:02pm on 19 Oct 2010, pekster11-save 606 wrote:

    marcelo has definitely improved at left back this season (so far anyway !)...but he's still a "winger" for me, and definitely not a "world class" left back !

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  • 12. At 12:18pm on 19 Oct 2010, manredsox wrote:

    Phil,

    While your diplomacy towards Serbia is to be applauded in principal, why should they deserve such a "softly softly" approach?

    If you look back to the dark days of English hooliganism, the way it was eventually (virtually) eradicated was through some very harsh measures, and English teams were unable to participate in European competitions. This forced the local FAs into some serious introspection about how important an issue it was. The innocent minority were all made to suffer at that time too.

    Only when faced with some palpable consequences of the disgraceful behaviour will you motivate FAs into really decisive action.

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  • 13. At 12:20pm on 19 Oct 2010, Viks wrote:

    Phil,
    How about making Serbia start all of the next matches with a 2 goal deficit, making them work harder to progress. The Italy match should be replayed with this same policy.

    :)

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  • 14. At 12:20pm on 19 Oct 2010, fraise wrote:

    #7. At 11:48am on 19 Oct 2010, Rob04 wrote:

    but coming out and 'appearing' to applaud them was poor.

    -------------------------------

    I didn't think they were applauding the trouble-makers.. I thought they came out initially to tell them all to calm down, and then to say sorry to those fans that were genuinely there to see the match. Agree the players shouldn't be punished for the actions of a handful of extremist nutters, but the Serbian FA (and arguably the Italian Police) need to sort it out.

    Many a football hooligan has been blacklisted from buying tickets and entering stadiums after being associated with football violence, so I don't see why Serbia can't sort out a similar system; but anyway, their reputation will precede them now and any other nation they go to play in will probably up their security measures ten-fold.

    I think the match should be replayed once the Serbian FA gets grip of who causes trouble and who doesn't... and they take the necessary measures to keep the nutters away from the match. Either that or give Italy the win.. and make no change to either teams goal difference.

    Am sure the AC - Real match will be a good one.. but I will miss it due to the massive time difference :(

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  • 15. At 12:21pm on 19 Oct 2010, Dado wrote:

    I would:
    1) Deduct 3 points from Serbia
    2) Replay the game
    3) Ban Serbian fans from attending away games for the rest of the campaign.

    Just imagine the reaction of the rest of Europe if this was England fans we were talking about.

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  • 16. At 12:23pm on 19 Oct 2010, collie21 wrote:

    A nation is responisble for it's fans, and the players represent their nation. It's not fair it's not fair, you could end up sounding like a child. Sanctions as follows.....All teams to be awarded a home 3:0 against Serbia. Serbia lose their right to travel to the oppostions countries. All teams will play Serbia in a Neutral country,for the Serbian 'Home' leg, no Serbian fans allowed, opposition fans are allowed. I reckon that will sort them out.

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  • 17. At 12:25pm on 19 Oct 2010, collie21 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 18. At 12:45pm on 19 Oct 2010, JamTay1 wrote:

    The comments by some of the people on here regarding hooliganism by Serbia fans are absolutely ridiculous. To even begin to compare this with the English hooliganism which blighted tournaments for the best part of 30 years is unbelievable. The reason English clubs were banned from Europe was due to the show piece event of the European football calendar season been destroyed by English hooligans. In addition to this the amount of European towns and cities that had been trashed by the moronic, hooligan behavior of English fans abroad left UEFA with no other alternative. I'm quite sure that if it had been any other nationality Uefa would have reacted the same.

    Just because (to it's credit) English football has largely cleaned up its act, I think it's far to early to act as some sort of moral compass to other country’s experiencing these problems. Perhaps the hooliganism that is slowly creeping back into some English grounds, should be a more pressing concern for English fans.

    With regards to Serbia, UEFA and the Serbian FA must do all that is in their power to identify these 'fans' and make sure that they are never near another game of football again.

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  • 19. At 12:55pm on 19 Oct 2010, manredsox wrote:

    JamTay1, I would suggest you do not appreciate the depths that Serbian hooliganism goes to. My comment was not a knee-jerk reaction to what was in its own right an appalling piece of behaviour, but more to the wider context. And certainly as an Englishman I wouldn't have the audacity to take some sort of moral high ground!

    Serbian domestic and international football fans are well known for the deep rooted, extreme right wing element that runs through it, which has inextricable links to the political situation of the country and the progress (or lack thereof) that the country has made since independence.

    This was not an isolated incident, and therefore should be treated as such.

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  • 20. At 12:56pm on 19 Oct 2010, Phil wrote:

    Why should Serbia be the only ones punished?

    It was the Italians who were 'supposed' to be policing the game.

    When i went to Roma vs Leeds some years back, we couldnt take in coins, wallets, belts, basically anything! YET we got bombarded by rocks, coins etc etc from the Roma fans. When someone threw one back, we got baton charged by the police. I believe 7 guys were stabbed outside the ground too. What happened? NOTHING.

    All across Europe there are serious hooligan elements, which are simply not being dealt with. Serbia have a history of this trouble and its about time something was done. The Serbian FA knew about these fans before, but let them travel anyway. Therefore TOUGH. Kick them out of this tournament to send a message - they wont qualify anyway.

    UEFA and FIFA need to stamp racism and hooliganism out of football. All to often in European ties, away fans get subjected to all kinds of abuse from both the fans and police and NOTHING EVER HAPPENS!

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  • 21. At 12:57pm on 19 Oct 2010, Phil wrote:

    So my conclusion is that the Italians should also be dealt with for not policing the Serbian fans properly. Why were they allowed flares in there?

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  • 22. At 1:22pm on 19 Oct 2010, JamTay1 wrote:

    19. At 12:55pm on 19 Oct 2010, manredsox wrote:

    JamTay1, I would suggest you do not appreciate the depths that Serbian hooliganism goes to. My comment was not a knee-jerk reaction to what was in its own right an appalling piece of behaviour, but more to the wider context. And certainly as an Englishman I wouldn't have the audacity to take some sort of moral high ground!

    Serbian domestic and international football fans are well known for the deep rooted, extreme right wing element that runs through it, which has inextricable links to the political situation of the country and the progress (or lack thereof) that the country has made since independence.

    This was not an isolated incident, and therefore should be treated as such.

    ------------------------------
    Manredsox, You make a very fair point with reference to this not exactly been an isolated incident regarding Serbia. My point was made out of frustration of the typical bleating that UEFA, Platini apparently has some sort of agenda against English football. UTTER GARBAGE. As problematic as hooliganism is in some countries, I struggle to see anything as bad as the incidents which led to English clubs been banned from European football.

    Of course the problem is where do you stop in trying to clean up the game. In many grounds across the World (including England) you can frequently here racists, xenophobic and homophobic chants. Then of course you have the countries where governments have become involved in football matters, the increasing problems with bribery, match fixing, corruption and betting scandals and you can see that UEFA and FIFA have their work cut out!

    I still think that any sort of ban for Serbia would be harsh in the extreme, and I would prefer to see the people involved in the trouble making punished as severely as possible.

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  • 23. At 1:24pm on 19 Oct 2010, Virtuet wrote:

    Marcelo looks the weak link to me in the back four especially with aerial crosses but would make a ideal wing back in a 3 5 2 set up.

    I can see that Rooney might be better than Benzema but I cannot see him ousting Higuain or Ronaldo to get a regular place in the team.

    Got to admit I am impressed by the way Mourinho has organised the team, they seem to be more in control of games lately.

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  • 24. At 1:33pm on 19 Oct 2010, Sebastián wrote:

    From a madridista's perspective, it's always interesting when Milan visit the Santiago Bernabéu, but this year more so. Though some are not at the height of their footballing powers, Milan have assembled very gifted/creative attacking players and the clash against our own might provide a memorable game. Lets hope it's worth the price of admission.

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  • 25. At 1:41pm on 19 Oct 2010, ctwand wrote:

    If the UEFA investigations show that the Italian security measures were substandard, then under no circumstances should Italy be rewarded with 3 points. This would set a precedent that could lead to other countries deliberately neglecting security when hosting matches, in the hope of gaining an easy victory at the negotiating table.
    Serbia should be deducted points and the game be replayed. More severe measures should be taken only if similar incidents occur again in the future.

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  • 26. At 2:04pm on 19 Oct 2010, mikenewsome wrote:

    Good blog Phil

    Personally I think the game should be replayed but without a points deduction to Serbia - again as with expelling them from the tournament itself you are punishing the team rather than the hooligans.

    That said I don't think they should get off without any punishment. A large fine and the next game played behind closed doors would suffice. Obviously if there are repeats of the Genoa scenes in future games a greater punishment could be handed out.

    The Madrid vs Milan game should be a cracker. Feel Madrid have a little too much for Milan - probably a 2-0 or 3-1 victory. Despite both having impressive domestic form I just feel that Mourinho's Champions League experience will prove the deciding factor. Be fun to watch and see what happens

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  • 27. At 2:06pm on 19 Oct 2010, Mikey wrote:

    Khedira for me has been the most astute buy.. a powerhouse of a midfielder who chips in with goals.. should be a good game.

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  • 28. At 2:07pm on 19 Oct 2010, KingsParkRangers wrote:

    Should have been two seperate blogs, one for the Madrid v Milan build up and another for the Serbian hooliganism.

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  • 29. At 2:35pm on 19 Oct 2010, Kevin wrote:

    Cheers for the article, Phil. Great insight as always.

    However, I've got to disagree with the Serbia sanctions: if you want to stop violence in football, you've got to take strict action, even if it means making an example of a team - or even a whole nation. If you kick Serbia out now, you're telling the entire footballing world that, if you can't keep your fans in order, you won't have a team to support. Similarly, the fans that are guilty of all the trouble - or, more importantly, who have been involved in it in the past, with a view to getting involved in it again - might just think twice about their actions in the future.

    Sure, it doesn't seem fair on the plenty of decent Serbian fans, and of course the players are going to suffer, too. But you've got to show an iron fist if you want to be taken seriously on these issues. Remember when English teams were banned from European competition back in the 80's after Heysel? English fans' reputation has drastically improved among the rest of Europe since then, I'd like to think. The same will also be true of Serbia in good time.

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  • 30. At 2:38pm on 19 Oct 2010, Kevin wrote:

    #27 Mikey - what a top shout. Madrid have been missing someone so dynamic in centre-mid since they let go of a certain Claude Makélélé all those years ago. Let's be honest, Lassana Diarra and his namesake Mahamadou are not quite in the same league as Khedira. He and Alonso could probably turn out to be the two most important players for Real's CL and La Liga campaign this year.

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  • 31. At 2:39pm on 19 Oct 2010, vijitguns wrote:

    I would suggest:

    1. Have a complete security check (X-ray check) in the replay match. Do not allow fans to take anything inside such as WAter bottles, camera, mobile phones, or any other article which may cause any kind of unwanted activity.. (posters / banners can be allowed)

    2. Deduct 3 points from serbia's tally

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  • 32. At 2:47pm on 19 Oct 2010, SummersIron wrote:

    'Got to admit I am impressed by the way Mourinho has organised the team, they seem to be more in control of games lately.'

    Yes. Although I don't think he will equal Pellegrini's points tally for the season, this does now look more like a team that could beat Barcelona in one of the classicos. Di Maria and Ozil have settled in faster than I would have expected. Kaka and Benzema will struggle for playing time and I have heard rumours that the former might be going back to Milan, though with Ron, Rob, Ibra and Pato, one wonders whether he would get into the first team there either. Certainly, a friend of mine who supports them was not thrilled by the prospect, which surprised me as I believed him to be adored over there.

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  • 33. At 3:22pm on 19 Oct 2010, Kevin wrote:

    #32 - were I a fan of a "bigger" club (sadly the huge spending days of Blackburn are long gone), I'd be delighted to see Kaka and Benzema go up for sale: you could easily see Chelsea or Man City going for Kaka, while Arsenal or Man United would probably be more keen to seal the services of Karim. That said, I'm not sure on what Inter and Juventus - and Milan for that matter - are planning for the coming transfer window...Phil?

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  • 34. At 3:30pm on 19 Oct 2010, signori wrote:

    Great game tonight i hope!

    Was wondering what Phil was going to say about Ibrahimovic after his 'article' on him a few weeks back and he has been playing brilliantly since then scoring, assisting and generally contributing to all Milans wins. Funny how he hasnt mentioned any praise, just hope a similar article will follow when he gets 20 odd goals for AC........doubt it.

    As for the calling of Italy being punished too?!?!........your on your own there.

    I think replay the game in Italy banning all Serbian fans, its as simple as that really, dont let Serbia fans to travel to any away games for the rest of qualifying. People trying to drag Italy into this because of previous incidents can you possibly make your own article on BB606 maybe or as previously mentioned a whole different article!

    the talk of a swap of Rooney plus 20 to 30 million plus Kaka and Benzema is by far the stupidest talk on here.........couldnt beleive my eyes! 3 players all not fulfilling there reputation equates to this deal how???

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  • 35. At 3:34pm on 19 Oct 2010, hackerjack wrote:

    Real vs. Milan will most likely be a nothing game. Provided neither do anything stupid against Ajax then both should qualify easily enough

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  • 36. At 3:40pm on 19 Oct 2010, Phil wrote:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/europe/9106743.stm

    Italian fans up to their old tricks too.

    Like i said before, ive seen what their fans are like first hand.

    I'd ban the Italians too, not only for their policing, but also because many of their fans are vile

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  • 37. At 4:39pm on 19 Oct 2010, signori wrote:

    Phil


    exactly the type of football 'fan' i never want supporting my club. I feel sorry for the club you do follow. your views and opinions are vile. Your hatred and ignorance is clear here.

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  • 38. At 4:56pm on 19 Oct 2010, jonps wrote:

    I think your question is not as straight forward as you think,

    when fans attack their own players training during the day, attack the players coach arriving at the stadium before the game, cause the game to be stopped. Can we really say these are football supporters?

    This was an organised "political" attack and I do not think Red Star Fans can be blamed because of the goal keeper moving to Partizan after returning from playing abroad.

    Of course action needs to be taken but who will be punished??

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  • 39. At 5:03pm on 19 Oct 2010, Yasin wrote:

    before we all blame it on serbia-granted nobody should have fireworks, but what kind of security would let people in nowadays with that?if they had fireworks, they could easily have had a bomb and cause mass carnage.thank god that didnt happen.

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  • 40. At 5:34pm on 19 Oct 2010, Val wrote:

    The Madrid vs. Milan match promises to be a classic one and I cannot wait to watch it. Although both teams are showing strong form at the moment I think the home advantage and the fact Real have already played a season with most of their new signings will help them clinch this one but it will be close as both teams are going to try and go for it. I see a 3-2 or 2-1 being a likely results.

    Now for the gossip. Being a United fan you can imagine the pain and disappointed I felt as I opened the BBC Football page to be greeted with "Rooney wants to leave - Ferguson". While nothing is certain until it is done, the sheer thought of Rooney wanting to leave is heartbreaking, especially considering all the achievements he has accomplished since his move to Old Trafford. It is clearly a money issue and I hope it blows over once he realizes that a million more or a million less will make no difference in the end but a career of loyalty and hard work will be remembered forever (Neville, Giggs, Scholes).

    As for Serbia, although I am a firm believer in discipline and respect, I think that the ones punished should be the ones responsible. This might stir a few pots but the onces to blame in my mind are the Serbian hooligans and the Italian police/security forces. While Serbian hooligans are to blame for causing the mess, some blame surely must fall on the Italian authorities for not controlling their stadium properly. A fitting punishment would be to replay the game with a fraction of seats available for Serbian fans and to screen those fans properly. Any point deduction or game nullification would only hurt the innocent.

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  • 41. At 5:45pm on 19 Oct 2010, reckless wrote:

    Unless the operation is a miracle I think you will find that Kaka is past it and will struggle to get a game at Madrid. He was fantastic at his peak and always won his duels with C Ronaldo and Messi. However a lot of his game was based on his explosive pace which seems to have disappeared. He was one of those players who could take on the whole defence. Let's see what kind of shape he is in when he returns.

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  • 42. At 6:00pm on 19 Oct 2010, ShinyDavidHowell wrote:

    Agreeing with the assertion that there should be a points deduction for Serbia, but Italy shouldn't get a result awarded by default. There's a fair chance Italy wouldn't have won this match, and a strong chance it'd have been by the odd goal if they did.

    Good point on Khedira too - Real Madrid lost their shape and form when their galacticos were no longer assisted by the intervention of Makelele, and although I don't know if Khedira is in the same class, he can do some of the same things.

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  • 43. At 7:03pm on 19 Oct 2010, Kevin wrote:

    #42 - thank you for picking up on that. I'd probably say he isn't exactly the same player as Claude was (he's a bit more able in the opposition's half, for instance), but he will be just as effective, especially with Alonso playing alongside him.

    The excitement builds as we approach kick-off! :-D

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  • 44. At 7:35pm on 19 Oct 2010, The Realist wrote:

    It wasn't unfair when every English team were banned.

    Why would it be so different now?

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  • 45. At 7:39pm on 19 Oct 2010, ForzaViola86 wrote:

    If you think Marcelo is, or is developing into a world class left back then you need your head testing - Always looked more comfortable playin in midfield when I have seen him

    Madrid, although probably not as exciting as last year, seem to have more of a winning mentality about them this year - Mourinho again? They have signed good players in Carvalho, Di Maria, Ozil, etc who can maybe push them past Barca this year. I think they could be dark horses (as daft as that sounds calling them underdogs) for this years Champions League.

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  • 46. At 7:47pm on 19 Oct 2010, Phil Minshull wrote:

    Gunnerslovver2007: “but Rooney + 20/30 Mill for Kaka and Benzema would leave United looking stronger and Real too.” I think you are undervaluing what Real are likely to want for Kaka and Benzema. I suspect they will be looking for around 30-35mn for Kaka (remember, he cost around 65mn euro at current rates) and about 15mn for Benzema.

    In fact, both Mourinho and Valdano have said that in recent days that both Kaka and Benzema are part of Real’s long term planning, but I have severe doubts about whether this is really the case.

    radar: “With regards Rooney, as an England fan I think a move abroad would be really good for him. He would do well to be forced to adapt to new surroundings (I think Beckham improved after leaving United) and getting away from the intense English media would be a good thing for him and possibly his marriage - however I can't see why Madrid or Barca would want him?” I am worried that he would just be yet another British player who would fail to adapt to playing abroad for all the usual stereotypical reasons e.g. language, food, culture. Sadly, if he did move to Spain or Italy, I can see him following in the footsteps of Gascoigne and Stan Collymore rather than Gary Linekar or David Beckham.

    David Jahnigir: “You could have also pointed out how Ribery was almost a certain Madrid player until his personal indiscretions damaged him as a player to Perez.” Actually, I think he fell off Perez’s radar long before ‘his personal indiscretions’ came to light as a result of all his injury problems in the last 18 months.

    Manredsox: “While your diplomacy towards Serbia is to be applauded in principal, why should they deserve such a "softly softly" approach?” I don’t agree with you but thanks for putting the alternative viewpoint in a readable and articulate manner.

    Phil: “Why should Serbia be the only ones punished?” You raised some important points in your two comments. I’ll be interested to see what any UEFA report says about the security measures for the match and how effective was the Italian policing. There may well be a case for some sort of sanction again Italy as well, but as the hooligans were Serbian (and if there had not been any trouble then the match would not have been abandoned) clearly that is the immediate focus of attention.

    Vik_bbc: “How about making Serbia start all of the next matches with a 2 goal deficit, making them work harder to progress.” I guess from the smiley at the end of your comment, it was made tongue-in-cheek! Nevertheless, I’ve heard a lot worse ideas even though I’ve got a feeling this would actually be against the current UEFA rules and regulations.

    Stev: “I can see that Rooney might be better than Benzema but I cannot see him ousting Higuain or Ronaldo to get a regular place in the team.” That’s very true as things stand at the moment, which is another reason why I don’t think he’ll be wearing Real’s famous all-white strip any time soon.

    KingsParkRangers: “Should have been two separate blogs, one for the Madrid v Milan build up and another for the Serbian hooliganism.” Ideally, there would have been two separate blogs but I only get one bite of the cheery every week and I wanted to write on two (actually three, if you count the segment on Wayne Rooney) topical issues, especially as I had been in Belgrade last weekend… and so I had to forego the chance to go to Atletico Madrid v Getafe and admire the resurgence of Portugal’s Simao Sabrosa, who is in outstanding form at the moment.

    OK, Real v Milan is just about to start so I'm going to turn my attention to the match iteself.

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  • 47. At 09:06am on 20 Oct 2010, ancelottiforprimeminister wrote:

    good blog phil

    Did you expect Real to win this easily?

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  • 48. At 10:50am on 20 Oct 2010, Phil Minshull wrote:

    Hackerjack: “Real vs. Milan will most likely be a nothing game.” Happily you were proved wrong. It was one of the more entertaining games I’ve seen this season, even if Milan's midfield seemed to have a night off and some of Real’s finishing wasn’t as good as it should have been.

    reckless: “Unless the operation is a miracle I think you will find that Kaka is past it and will struggle to get a game at Madrid.” I hope not, but I fear this might be the case, especially with things working out so well with Khedira and Ozil, even though they now play slightly different roles to the ones Kaka performed last season.

    “Kaka will make the difference for Real Madrid. He will be our purchase in January at no cost and will be crucial for us,” said Mourinho during a press conference on Monday. However, there is already reasoanbly well-informed talk that Kaka could be sold next summer.

    ForzViola86: “If you think Marcelo is, or is developing into a world class left back then you need your head testing.” I’ll postpone the trip to the psychologist for just a little while longer although last night he clearly was enjoying the space that was surprising provided by the Milan midfield so definitely was going forward a lot more than he has done in some other games I’ve seen him in this season. I think you’ll find that he has also matured into a very disciplined left back when the occasion demands.

    ancelottiforprimeminister: “Did you expect Real to win this easily?” No, I didn’t and it could easily have been 4-0. Milan seemed to have no answer to the highly effective midfield ‘triangle’ of Ozil, Khedira and Xabi Alonso although it was frustrating for me that the final, potentially telling, pass that could have put Higuain or Cristiano Ronaldo in a good position for a good shot on goal, sometimes went astray.

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  • 49. At 1:37pm on 20 Oct 2010, waiwai117 wrote:

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