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Seedorf looking to turn Champions League tables

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Chris Bevan | 11:28 UK time, Monday, 13 February 2012

English clubs have ended AC Milan star Clarence Seedorf's dream of a fifth Champions League triumph on his last three attempts but this year the boot might just be on the other foot.

When European football resumes this week, it will do so with the prospect of there being no clubs from these shores in the quarter-finals of the continent's most prestigious club competition for the first time since Blackburn's failure in the 1995-96 season, a statistic which is more telling when you remember that we have had entered at least four teams every year since 2002.

After the failure of both Manchester clubs to get beyond the group stage, England's two survivors must put their stuttering domestic form behind them as they face tricky Anglo-Italian tests for a place in the last eight. Arsenal against Seedorf's AC Milan, and Chelsea against Napoli.

For the Rossoneri, the former is also a chance for revenge for their defeat - as holders - by the Gunners at this stage of the Champions League in 2008. They have not been beyond the last 16 since, with their two subsequent campaigns being ended there by Manchester United in 2010 and Tottenham in 2011.

English teams have regularly reached the latter stages of the Champions League in recent seasons.

Seedorf told me that, this time, it will be different. He and his team-mates are confident of progress, and see Wednesday's home leg as pivotal.

The 35-year-old explained: "We need to avoid the same mistakes we made last year against Spurs. A positive result in the first leg is crucial."

United and Tottenham have both triumphed there since but, four years ago, Arsenal were the first English team to win at the San Siro, on a night when Cesc Fabregas bossed the game and scored one of the late goals that sent Arsene Wenger's men through.

Arsenal, who have lost several key personnel since, still face the same accusations of being a one-man team but it is Robin van Persie, an unused substitute in that tie, who is their talisman now.

Do the Gunners rely too heavily on the Dutch striker? Seedorf is a huge fan of his compatriot, but sees Arsenal has having more strings to their bow. "They are a strong all-round side and they always play good football," he added.

"Van Persie is finally exploding and I am very happy for him, but we know what we are going to have to deal with and we are ready. It is going to be a tough game - Arsenal have always changed important players a lot over the last six or seven years and have still managed to perform well. They haven't won trophies but they are still a dangerous team."

Seedorf does not fear the Gunners, though. In fact, he is not afraid of anyone: "I don't like to talk about fear in sport, in general," he said. "I think you need to respect your opponent but if you prepare the way you should so you can perform at your best then it is down to you.

While Arsenal are inconsistent, Chelsea are undoubtedly in transition. Their owner Roman Abramovich can still fulfil his dream of Champions League glory this season, but elimination this early would not exactly help the cause of their young manager Andre Villas-Boas.

Seedorf, however, thinks Villas-Boas deserves time - however his team fare in the last 16. "I have heard more than I have seen about his work, but the trophies speak for themselves," he said.

"For sure he has talent. It's a project they are trying to build for him, so let's give the man some time to do his job. I mean, he did good work with Porto, now let's see what he can achieve with Chelsea."

Manchester City have already found out how dangerous Napoli are, with the Italian side taking four points off them to finish above them in Group A. But Seedorf says Roberto Mancini's men should not be disheartened by their first Champions League experience, and thinks glory is on the horizon.

"They had a very tough group, and they need to continue building," said Seedorf, who revealed City and Chelsea have both shown interest in signing him in the last couple of years.

"Winning the Premier League, if City do it, would be a very good first step to increasing the confidence and attaining the specific mentality of a winning team to approach certain games in the Champions League with a different mental state.

"City, within three years, will be on the podium at the end. I do think they are going in the right direction."

For now, though, there is only one team to beat. As far as Seedorf is concerned, the reigning champions, Barcelona, are still "the best team in the world".

Are Milan equipped to stop Barca from defending their crown? They pushed Pep Guardiola's hard in two pulsating group encounters, losing 3-2 at the San Siro then drawing 2-2 at the Nou Camp, and Seedorf believes they are not unstoppable.

"Those matches gave us lots of confidence," he said. "We are still looking at what we need to do to be at Barca's level at the moment but, especially in the second game, we demonstrated we are very close."

Inter and Napoli are clearly also realistic contenders, but the paradox for Italian football right now is that, in the same year they have more teams in the last 16 of the Champions League than any other nation, they have also fallen behind Germany in Uefa's coefficient rankings, and will lose a CL berth next season.

England are still top of the coefficient, which is decided over the previous five seasons and also reflects Europa League results. One bad year is not a disaster for the Premier League on that front.

So should we be too worried if Arsenal and Chelsea both fail to reach the last eight? Seedorf laughs. "No, absolutely not. If English clubs panic at this then Italian clubs would be dead by now!

"It's a cycle, it's a sport. Sometimes, someone else just performs better than you. English clubs cannot expect to dominate all the time - it would be quite boring, and exactly what we don't want to see in football."

You can read the second part of my interview with Seedorf - about the way he thinks European club competition is set to evolve - next week.

Follow me throughout the season on Twitter @chrisbevan_bbc


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  • Comment number 1.

    Would love to see a club like Napoli go far this season. The attacking force of Cavani, Lavezzi and Hamsik makes me water at the mouth.
    Seedorf is a model pro. The man should have gained a lot more recognition for the great things he has done throughout his career.

  • Comment number 2.

    Top bloke Seedorf and always has a sound view on things. His Milan will beat us over two legs this time. This Arsenal team isnt a patch on the one that beat them in 08 and that side had its weaknesses. Milan will expect to progress and will. Not too bothered as we re off to Wembley in May to win the FAC to make up for a shambolic Season!

  • Comment number 3.

    I had a bet on Chelsea to win the champions league before the season started. Dont think they will do it by the way they are performing at the moment.
    I think Real Madrid look the best bet to win it , especially as they now have a 10 point lead over Barcelona and that will give them confidence.
    Napoli and Benfica are dark horses in my opinion , not good enough to win it but could spring some upsets.
    As for Seedorf, I think everyone respects him and no-one has said a bad word about him, a top professional .

  • Comment number 4.

    seedorf would slot into any team nicely, consumate professional, still doing great.
    chelsea are flawed but if avb can see where then he can turn them around and get the whip cracking again. i believe dropping torres into mata's role and pushing mata up into an attacking midfield role could help,after what they did to my utd when we switched off, this could work it was and is when fernando plays as a striker that they suffer, he has lost pace but is still quick enough to trouble so why not wing him, after some of the balls he has put in the box this season id say thats a strong option at least that way he may get his attacking hunger back with no pressure on him to score he may even start netting consistantly again, as for arsenal they have looked sharp more recently, they just need to play fast, out of the blocks as soon as the whistle blows and they will fire on all cylinders, not in contention this season for silverware but if wenger signs some top players in the summer then next year will be game on.

  • Comment number 5.

    English football is certainly in a bit of a slump atm, but we've had a team in the final all but one of the last 7 seasons from four different clubs while Spain have had just one! (as you can see)- that's why long term it's the best league in the world, but yeah I think AC Milan and Napoli will get the better of the English clubs this year. Still I maintain English clubs are the best in terms of depth of CL challengers, I don't write off players 'cause of dips in form.

  • Comment number 6.

    I don't think anyone would object to Seedorf adding to his medal collection. Let's try not to let him do it this year though!

  • Comment number 7.

    Magnificent player is Seedorf but personally I'm rooting for Napoli this year (not one of the usual suspects) as they played some great football in the group stages and were a real joy to watch. They probably won't win it and it will most likely go to 1 of the big Spanish duo but they will give someone a good game.

  • Comment number 8.

    It still beggars belief that Man Utd are out it will be interesting to see how they cope in the Europa.Knockout football is difficult to predict who would of thought Ivory Coast would lose to Zambia.Both ties Arsenal and Chelsea are mouth watering on any given day they can progress.Barcelona are still everybodies favourites Real Madrid have been playing well it's very much in the melting pot!

  • Comment number 9.

    Barcelona, are still "the best team in the world".
    What a load of rubbish. 10 points behind Madrid and full of overated spanish plodders. Leverkusen are comfortable favourites on tuesday.

  • Comment number 10.


    I am always, always pessimistic when it comes to games against English teams. Under Leonardo, we should have been 2 or 3-0 up early doors against Utd, but we got done by a fluky goal and allowed them to settle. Against Spurs, we started dreadfully slowly in San Siro and paid for it, despite a decent effort in the return leg. But, hands up, Arsenal thoroughly deserved to knock us out (in '08, was it?).

    If I'm honest, I don't quite fancy our chances tomorrow. We're in a tricky period right now, with injuries certainly not helping our cause. To top it off, we're playing an Arsenal side who are beginning to get their groove back.

    Not seen much of our new left-back (Mesbah), but I hope he has the legs to deal with Oxlade/Walcott. The midfield battle will be fairly even, neither side is loaded with quality in that department - we'll have grafters: van Bommel, Nocerino, Ambrosini etc..., Arsenal have Ramsey, Arteta, Song and the like.

    How Ibra performs - he has scored at the Emirates - could decide the tie.

  • Comment number 11.



    With all due respect, Leverkusen will be lucky to get 0 tomorrow -even against an out-of-form Barca.

  • Comment number 12.

    With Mertsecker out, i'll expect Arsenal to win at the San Siro with Vermaelen playing in the middle of defence and Gibbs coming in as left-back.
    The Pensioners of Milan cannot cope with the Arsenal pace.
    If Gervinho becomes aerodynamic by cutting his hair, the Milan defence will need a big prayer from Papa.

  • Comment number 13.

    Should be some mouth watering games.

    Absolute disgrace that the Manchesters did not qualify.

    People nedd to remember that Barca are more concerned this year on winning the CL and taht has been reflected by Guardiolas team selections in the league. madrid for me are the only other team capable of winning it!

  • Comment number 14.

    A table is being turned but it isn't the one Seedorf mentions. It's the Serie A table, where AC Milan and Juventus seem to be resuming their good, old rivalry, with the rest of the teams following.

    What top Italian sides have shown is they can't compete in the transfer market as they'd wish perhaps. It may have to do with the Italian economy crisis but it's there to see.

    Napoli have gone past a City side which was inexperienced in Champions League football but I don't think they'd manage it twice, in the following years at least. 7th in their league, I can't see the optimism about their progress in Champions League. Maybe this round but not further, in my book.

    When it comes to Inter Milan, there is one word describing them: disappointing. AC Milan are stronger but do they have the potential to reach a final ahead of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich. I seriously doubt it.

    All in all, good pre-match talk by an iconic figure in world football. But that's as far as it goes.

  • Comment number 15.

    Yeah, there seem to be many mouth watering ties in the round of 16, and of course the pick of them are Arsenal vs Milan and Chelsea vs Napoli. Though except for Milan, all of the remaining teams are struggling badly this season. I seriously have no clue with Chelsea this year, as I have never seen them leak so many goals even at home!! Their back for is so vulnerable with Luiz and Bosingwa, that I still wonder why they sold Alex? To add to that Torres is clearly doing everything but score. Has the quality, but I'm sure patience is running out for Chelsea's fans right now. It will be very tough for them against Napoli, but they themselves aren't doing great in Serie A, and have been inconsistent. Though, I still think Chelsea will go through, if they manage to deliver their season's best performance against them.

    For Arsenal, and being a die-hard fan, I'm very skeptical about our chances. Whether you want to admit it or not, we are a one man team, and without RVP, you can assume where we would be. Of course the Ox, is one for the future, and has played tremendously well off late, but, Walcott and Gervinho, are perhaps two of the worst finishers out there. Walcott especially is one of the most erratic players we have. Our midfield lacks the dynamism, and fluidity, which he had before, and I'm not sure how it is going to cause a problem for Milan. Since Fabregas and Nasri left, it has never been the same and it never will, and if Arteta was brought in to fill that void, he never will, too slow and work rate is very poor. What I'm worried about is Milan's abundant attacking resources, Maxi Lopex, El Shaarawy, Robinho, and of course Ibra. It will be extremely tough for us, so we'll see, but don't think we can go through.

    Finally, as many of you have been talking about Barcelona, I firmly believe that they won't win it this year, provided Real Madrid face them in the finals, and not before. I think no team can beat them over two legs, especially if they get back all of their injured players. Madrid have undoubtedly the best depth in their squad, and in the finals they more than have a chance to beat them. They played exceptionally well against them in the 2nd leg of the Copa del Rey, and were unlucky, and I truly believe they can do what they idd last year against them in Copa del Rey finals. Apart from these two, I do give an outside chance to Bayern Munich, as they can win the CL, but everyone else head over heels behind the two Spanish giants.

  • Comment number 16.

    Bayern Munich for me. They have pace- Robben and Ribery on the flanks, and of course the mighty diving skills of Arjen Robben that out match those of Barca. Close contest though. It won them La Liga and the Champions league last year...

  • Comment number 17.

    I don't think Bayern Munich will have a prayer against either of the Spaniards.

    I'm not that certain of the Italian optimism in facing Arsenal and Chelsea either.

    Both English clubs look weaker this season but this is far from writing them off against AC Milan and Napoli. We have to keep some perspective here.

  • Comment number 18.

    First of all, Bayern will crush Barca. Like I said before Barca is full of overated spanish plodders, e.g Xavi, Puyol etc Its about time a team will has the courage to just knock Messi to the ground as he is so annoying! I wish he'd come up against Stoke or Notts County. Anyhow, the speedy German and Dutch internationals for Bayern will cruise Barca, Xavi makes good ol Lamps for Chelsea look like Messi. It is yhe end of an era I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 19.

    #18. Arjen_Robbens_Diving_School.

    "Its about time a team will has the courage to just knock Messi to the ground as he is so annoying!"

    I understand the trend. Just remembered how Bayern Munich looked after Rooney.

    Is it a tactic to "just knock to the ground" the best player of the world because he's annoyingly good? I was under the impression that you knock teams to the ground, allegorically, by beating them fair and square.

  • Comment number 20.

    No its just about time someone takes Messi out of the game for a year or 2. Its so annoying how in La Liga he is just allowed to work his majic around defenders without a single challenge. That is why La Liga needs some adjustments. Anyhow, I wish he would move to the premier league, then he would get taught a lesson, amy need to learn off Robben for diving a little more however.

  • Comment number 21.

    #20. Arjen_Robbens_Diving_School,

    "No its just about time someone takes Messi out of the game for a year or 2."

    This is a really disappointing statement. One day, you'll realise that football is not about taking top players for a year or two out of the game.

  • Comment number 22.

    So what is football about? Is it a game where no one has an ounce of courage to make a challenge. Wher players sprawll on the floor for no apparent reason, if you aks me this is what football is about at the moment.

  • Comment number 23.


    Bayern have no chance against Barca or Real.

  • Comment number 24.

    they certainly have a chance and a very good one at that. Barca are in decline and Real.. maybe not real. The Special one is their saviour.

  • Comment number 25.

    Barca are not in decline. They have simply taken there eye off the ball in La Liga right now. But come May,they will be in the Final in Muenchen!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    Xavi is 33, another year and he will be gone, Puyol has to go soon. The rest of the team looks de-motivated, as if they don't care anymore because they have won too much. Focusing solely on the Champions League is a poor exuse.They won everything last year and never complained.

  • Comment number 27.

    Instead of making wishes for Messi to be knocked down, perhaps it's better to enjoy the CL ties, as they represent the best European, and at some great extend, what world football has in offer.

    Myself, I'm interested in how much Arsenal and Chelsea can go this season, being both in some sort of transition. I can see them both progressing but they have to be nearer to their best rather than their average.

  • Comment number 28.

    I think Arsenal can progress, Ox and Van Persie look a very good partnership, as long as they keep Arshavin off the pitch. Chelsea... I don't know what to expect. There that inconsistant. If AVB picks the right team and gets them mitivated I think they are a better side than Napoli.

  • Comment number 29.

    Scholes and Giggs are still playing into there late 30s. I agree Puyol will go soon(he already doesnt play every week),but Xavi is world class,and at 33,hes got lots left in his tank. The only team who can stop Barca winning the CL is Real,because of Jose

  • Comment number 30.

    I think you could get a much better qualification at The Dani Alves Diving School.

  • Comment number 31.

    Nah Robben is the king, closely followed by del horno.

  • Comment number 32.

    Robben is too injury prone to dive anymore!

  • Comment number 33.

    I love how United and City not qualify means English football is on decline. I think too many people forget that you simply cannot win everything every season.

    Napoli looked good in the groups but as someone as already pointed out 7th in the league, which is quite frankly a poor league these days, is not really threatening. Mind due Liverpool managed it in 2005.

    Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich in the final, obviously depends on the draw though.

  • Comment number 34.

    Class though. Always won Chelsea free kicks, penaltys ect. If he had a carear un injured he would be up there with the best.

  • Comment number 35.

    Wish chelsea would re-sign him and teach that fool sturridge how to dive properly.

  • Comment number 36.


    Are you a Chelsea or Bayern? Or just Robbens biggest fan?

  • Comment number 37.

    Admired Chelsea when Robben was there in the mid 2000's, they were the good times, not so much now though, admired the way Bayern crushed city with their best players on aswell. I also admire the special one very much so, and deteste batca. I actually support Notts County though....

  • Comment number 38.

    you should watch Bayern more closely before you say they will win the CL

  • Comment number 39.

    I'm going to sick my neck out and predict that either Barcelona or Real Madrid will win the Champions League this season.

    You heard it here first.

  • Comment number 40.

    Read above,i said that already!

  • Comment number 41.

    Chelsea haven't got a chance against the never-say-die Neapolitans, if Villas-Boas persists in picking sub-standard plodders, such as Terry, Cole and Lampard.

    I'm fully expecting a comfortable two-legged victory for Napoli, with Hamšík hamstringing the opposition defence, cavalier Cavani rampaging up-front, and Lavezzi lavishly laying down the groundwork to pick apart a lamentable defence, then chancy Chelsea stand little to no chance of getting past the Italian outfit.

  • Comment number 42.

    still think chelski could go far in CL. defeat napoli,i favourable draw in quater-finals,who knows!

  • Comment number 43.

    Neither have Bacelona, full of overated spanish plodders coming to the end of their carears. I think Lamps and a few others are very quick and agile compared to the slow build up speed of Barca. Only Messi and the refferee have a say in it this year. I will say it again. Munich with their speed on the flanks and finishing abilities of Gomez can win it.

  • Comment number 44.

    while Bayern have world class players,talk more s......

  • Comment number 45.

    43. At 20:08 13th Feb 2012, Arjen_Robbens_Diving_School wrote:

    Behave yourself.

    Barcelona are chock-a block of sizzlingly sensational, scorching Spanish pros. Their only serious challengers are a majestic Madrid side.

    I'm a big fan of the half Spanish free-spirited, free-scoring, frugal-defence fracturing frontman, Mario Gómez, but if you seriously think that the blustering Bavarians can be crowned monarchs of Europe this season, then football clearly is not the sport for you; perhaps lawn bowls would be more up your street.

  • Comment number 46.

    I agree with 45!

  • Comment number 47.

    You seem to be so keen on Spanish football, what about Osassuna? Or Inter Milan when they wooped the mighty Barca. Mate, seriously, La Liga is a shocking ligue with only two teams who steal all the tv rights, and claim all the cash to carry on becoming great. Spanish football is for wusses, who wuss out of tackles and dive all over the place. At least Robben does it in style!

  • Comment number 48.

    German League is shocking

  • Comment number 49.

    Why? It is still very tight at the top, anyone could win it (Bayern or Dortmund)
    Wheras La Ligas 'Champions' have capitulated to Madrid and surrended the title and its not even mid feb yet.

  • Comment number 50.

    yes there are 3-4 teams who can win it,but the standard is shocking.

  • Comment number 51.

    Bayern 2-0 City
    City are top of the prem
    Bayern are second in German bundeslega point proven.

  • Comment number 52.

    dortmunt 1st in DBL,4th in CL group

  • Comment number 53.

    Champions league is different. Napoli 7th in league yet qualified ahead of city.
    Still, point proven.

  • Comment number 54.

    german CL winners/finalist/semi-finalist v EPL CL winners/finalist/semi-finalist

  • Comment number 55.

    Two kids arguing about football and Patches in between them: priceless!

  • Comment number 56.

    Reds19 To be honest I think your previous opinion from comment 21 is a little kiddish. A bunch of women, running round a pitch, kicking a bag of air, getting paid hundreds of thousands a week, wait... is that what footballs about?

  • Comment number 57.

    49. At 20:50 13th Feb 2012, Arjen_Robbens_Diving_School wrote:

    I agree that the Bundesliga is very competitive and unpredictable. You mention Bayern and Dortmund, but don't rule out Mönchengladbach (who were odds-on for relegation this time last season), or even Schalke.

    The thing is that La Liga contains the two best club sides in the world, so it's hardly surprising that Real and Barça have forged clear of the rest.

    Bayern are a very good side, but they just aren't on the same level as the cream of the crop in Spain.

  • Comment number 58.

    When did you lot last watch dbl?

  • Comment number 59.

    #56, Arjen_Robbens_Diving_School,

    It's OK to be a kid. Don't take me wrong. And I don't mind talking about football with kids, anyway: football is a game, a sport and a hobby - absolutely neutral, so every age can participate in the same conversation, debate, whatever.

    What betrayed the young of your age was your wish someone to kick Messi so he can be brought down, because he's annoyingly good. You can't meet adults sharing this view. It's a kid's view.

    All I tried to tell you was that football is a game which men play like men, at professional level. Not like vicious kids trying to get one over, no matter what, no matter how. That's for kids. That's all.

  • Comment number 60.

    I kind of beg to differ, seen as im not a kid, and I kind of recall before the Man utd-barca match, about 50 people making comments on how they wanted to kick messi's head in. Seriously, there are thousands with a different opinion to you.

  • Comment number 61.

    #60, Arjen_Robbens_Diving_School,

    I happen to be a Manchester United supporter and I'm the first to tell you that Barcelona absolutely murdered us. However, they did it on merit.

    The entire human evolution relates to humans studying what is better than them and try to better their standards. If it was about kicking whatever better and bringing it down, we'd still be living like the Neanderthal tribe.

    If in your life you meet thousands having a different opinion than you, does it mean you have to follow their opinion blindly? Every day in life, no matter which aspect of it, you will see people much better than you in something. Does this mean you have to live a jungle style of life?

    See? You again talk like a kid. Still, it's not bad. As long as you improve yourself and change the elements in your personality, life, experiences, aspirations that need change.

  • Comment number 62.

    You have blown what I said right out of proportion, I wassimply expressing my hatred towards Barca. Yes Messi is an excellent player, and yes Barcelona are becoming a one man team. My sopposed original point was that Arjen Robben has been unlucky with the inuries, it has denied him of a world class carear wheras Messi is very lucky so far with no injuries. I apologise for putting it in the wrong way. Bt what about Suarez? What about Yaya Toure slapping Juan Mata? What about Tevez refusing to play after all the money he is getting. Are they real men in your eyes then?

  • Comment number 63.

    As a Chelsea fan I have been disapointed this season but maybe Andre is suited to european knockout football. With Drogba back we can put people on their toes and its no coincidence the bad run of form has come at a time Ramires has been out, the guy has been outstanding and he may return for both legs.

    This year has been a very different one in all the leagues

    Man City, Munich or Moenchengladbach, Juventus, Benfica, Madrid, PSG or Montpellier and PSV all possibly usurping United,Dortmund,Milan, Porto, Barcelona, Lille and Ajax as the champions of their respective countries it goes to show there is such inconsistency across the whole of Europe bar a Ferguson inspired United and a still in contention Milan.

    The likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Inter, Marseille, Lyon, Napoli all remain in the champions league but have been dire in the league. Porto have not been their usual since AVB left. Ajax have been Suarezless and it shown

    Only things controversial have been Olympiacos and Ajax being harshly knocked out of their groups to the advantage of French teams. Dortmund and Zagreb capitulating in their final games was somewhat suspicous

    Everyone raves about Munich but beware Basle and Shaqiri may become a villain before he becomes a hero

    Theres so many different avenues we could see - AVB v Mourinho, Barca v Madrid, Bayern winning it at home, Mourinho winning with a third club, Chelsea to fnally overcome Barca, a shock winner could emerge as Moscow, Basle, Benfica, Napoli all have young vibrant sides

    Im going to support Chelsea all the way, cant say I will support Arsenal as it would likely guarantee no CL football next year but Basle, Moscow and Benfica have my backing unless they meet Chelsea

    And Messi is a freak of nature, the guy is a perfect professional, although I hate him against Chelsea he is the best player ive ever seen and Barcas only problem this season in La Liga is trusting the kids too much

  • Comment number 64.

    AVB vs Mourihno would be brilliant.

  • Comment number 65.


    Completely disagree with you about the comment that 'Barca's only problem this season in La Liga is trusting the kids too much'. If you watch Spanish football, you'll understand just how good the likes of Cuenca, Alcantara, Tello, and others are. Admittedly they are still under development, but that is Barca's strength, their academy and particularly their B team, which have future world class players. Understandably with so much injuries, Pep had to field players from the B team, but they have done a great job. Its just scary to think the quality of players they have at their disposal, and Barcelona with these new crop of players could dominate for years to come.

  • Comment number 66.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 67.

    Seedorf has been a fantastic professional plying his trade at the top level for many years. His opinions on football carry a lot of gravitas.

    As a Chelsea fan I think they have a great chance to be the last English team in the competition. Although I don’t think they will get much further after this round.

    Barca and Real still look like the teams to beat.

    @ Arjen_Robbens_Diving_School

    Your views on football would carry more weight if you didn’t spell like an 8 year old.

  • Comment number 68.

    The reason for madrids 10 points is 2 fold. Barca have a small squad and have suffered a lot from injuries and tiredness this year, they have used youngsters from b team a lot and they have been good but Madrid has been seriously pumped up after many humilations on the pitch and having a squad 4 times the cost of Barcas.

    And 2...the refs have gifted 3 or 4 games to madrid and stolen 3 or 4 from Barca. Its easy to see. Clear mistakes that with such a pattern makeit hard to understand. Mourinho can even poke eye out of barca trainers and pepe can stamp in messi etc etc etc and get away with it. Spanish justice and power want madrid to win.

    BUT having said that as a Barca fan its not so bad. At least it gives us something to talk about. We were running out of words beingbso brilliant and winning so much...

  • Comment number 69.

    I agree that Cuenca, Thiago and Tello are all good players but playing all three at once is risky and it proved so against Osasuna, leaving all three of their best mdfielders on the bench isnt the way forward for them. I never said they ddnt have very talented youngsters, just they overrelied on them a few times. Xavi, Fabregas or Iniesta if available one should at leat be starting but I guess their options will be boosted with the return of Keita and eventually Busquets

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 72.

    @johnc87 you are right. You have to admire Guardiola. Him and the team take chances. They stick tontheir priciples. Also I wonder if he knew already that the powers were stacked against him in the liga this year and the CL was more important. Away from spanish arbitration..

  • Comment number 73.

    @arjenrobben do you think bayern can do better than the 4 nil thrashing last time? I was there. A class say a lot of silly things..

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 75.

    Avb vs mourinho would be a no contest. Chelsea are I am afraid way way behind Madrid as are every uk team. Barca and madrid are in a league of their own...i would happily lose a 50 euro bet that madrid will easily beat any english team this year...

  • Comment number 76.

    I don't agree Blaugrana08, as I do think Utd, City and Spurs would have a good chance to beat either of the Spanish giants, though it's a pity that we'll never know as the 2 Manchester clubs failed terribly to progress, though I agree with your comments regarding AVB and Chelsea.
    I'm not a fan of La Liga, I find it either too one sided (If Barca/Real are playing) or too boring, if any of other other teams are playing. It's similar to the Scottish league, 2 dominant sides and the rest surviving on the TV rights when they play said top 2, and hoping for a Cup run and maybe, just maybe, a domestic final against said top 2......

  • Comment number 77.

    is it just me or is @arjenrobbensdivingschool talking utter piff?
    with all due respect to the notts county fan, you do seem to have too much belief in arjen and bayern munich, he has no chance and neither do they......
    like i said in my above comment #4 this is the only way chelsea will stand a chance! with the greatest of respect to you all (the ones saying anyone other than the spanish will win) you have tinted your spectacles to thickly with rose, if barca want it they will turn up and take it, the only team with a hope of stopping them is the 'special ones' band of merry men and even they will struggle.

  • Comment number 78.

    boo hoo ... injuries .... boo hoo..... tiredness...... boo hoo... everybody wants barca to lose.....
    if you really wanted to win it you would, its clear pep has handed real a chance only to give them false hope of cl success and then he will snatch it away amid their tattered tears.

  • Comment number 79.

    Once upon a time, AC Milan at the San Siro was like an imposing fortress that English clubs could never topple. Now it is more like a sandcastle waiting for the tide to come in. I think Arsenal's pace will scare Milan to death and they will win both away and home (Henry to pinch a late goal anyone?).
    Where I do agree with Seedorf is that the nature of the Champions league is very different from domestic leagues. The position and form of clubs in their leagues is not a reliable guide to how they will perform in the CL. Man. City and Dortmund are prime examples this season. Also, would anyone seriously make Real favourites to beat Barça in the CL just because they have a 10 point lead over them in La Liga?

  • Comment number 80.

    @79 i totally agree with you season form in domestic leagues can be mis-leading and dangerous. barca for example are 10 points behind real but in terms of psycholigical advantage even real cant say barca dont scare them, one good home game before the final (if they meet there) or before any meeting between the two would be enough for pep's men to put the mokkas on real. and what of bayern? i take it back by this logic they could fluke it, isnt this what all the comps have? their own magic that brings surprise david killed a giant moment! for me its the spanish but for the good of unpredictability i hope im wrong.

  • Comment number 81.

    It's too close to call for the top 16. My predictions would be:

    Bayer v Barca - barca win
    Lyon v Apoel - Lyon win, Apoel will provide a good account but lyon will snatch it.
    Zenith v Benfica - Zenith (just). Though it's pre-season for the russian sides, the move to western fixtures should provide a stable platform for future ventures in europe. They are dominant at home and that would be the basis for their win.
    Milan v Arsenal - Milan for me. Arsenal have been conceding way too many goals this season to have any sort of contention for a 2 leg game.
    CSKA v Real - Real (just). I think this will be an interesting game, and is all dependant of how the Moscow leg goes. Mourinho will look for a tight affair but will have to beware of the attacking players of Dzagoev, Honda, Vagner Love, Doumbia and Necid.
    Napoli v Chelsea - Chelsea. Napoli are no longer "unknowns" and people are aware of the likes of Cavani, Lavezzi and hamsik. It will be a close shave but I think Chelsea will knick it.

  • Comment number 82.

    Barcelona injury problems?? Think they need to get a grip. If they can't hack it in the league despite spending hundreds of millions each season on new players and having a "famed" youth academy then they have no excuses in the league. Utd have had on average 9-10 players injured and are still only 2 points behind.

    Pep Guardiola good. Ferguson better.

  • Comment number 83.

    It's very interesting how Arsenal and Chelsea will do in these ties of CL. Do they want to go as close to the final? I don't think either club believe they can win it because they're both weak this season. If they progress though, it would undermine that 4th EPL position.

    With Arsenal and Chelsea tied on points and with Newcastle only 1 point below them and Liverpool 4 points below them, even Pardew wants them to go as far as possible while I'm sure Dalglish is wishing them the best of luck too.

    Having said that, I think both English teams could get to the next stage. For Chelsea and AVB has one more dimension. We all know that Abramovich has sacked managers for lesser failings.

  • Comment number 84.

    Chelsea have an advantage over spurs, arsenal, newcastle and Liverpool in the money department. In a couple of years I'm confident we will be up there again.

  • Comment number 85.

    I really don't get why Real Madrid are so highly tipped, yes they've got a good points lead in the league but Barca have had injuries and a lot of the lower teams in that league just don't provide a lot of opposition. The real tests have come against Barca and there I think Madrids real weak point, there defence, comes to the for. To be honest I actually wouldn't take their back 4 ahead of the Arsenal one, and I think that up against teams like Barca or Bayern Munich and the general higher level of attacking quality in the latter stages of the CL in comparison to La Liga (where Real are still conceding a good few goals but making up for it by scoring more) thats really gonna show. I mean their still one of the reasonable fave's but they gotta be behind those two at least.

  • Comment number 86.

    be wary, napoli come alive in the champions league, and the typical never say die attitude of this team, and awesome support, can bridge the gap in class (on paper at least) between the two teams..

  • Comment number 87.

    I think both Arsenal and Chelsea will struggle to overcome their opponents over the two legs; however, for me, the question is, has the quality of the leading English sides deteriorated sufficiently this season, or collectively, has the rest of Europe caught up?

    In previous seasons we have seen English sides progress with relative ease, against sides that are ranked high domestically and have a good European pedigree. However, with Manchester Utd only taking one point off FC Basle, two points off Benfica, Chelsea losing in Leverkusen and drawing in Genk, and Arsenal struggling against Olympiacos and narrowly defeating Marseille and Borussia Dortmund, there appears to be a change in the tide this season.

    Have English teams become too complacent or have the opposition become technically superior? There have always been the odd result which raised eyebrows, but this season there seems to be more than previously.

  • Comment number 88.

    Great to see all the praise for Seedorf on here, some really good comments on a brilliant player, like others his age have had to adapt their playing style to suit the modern game.

    I agree with what some of you are saying as well i would love to see Napoli do well in the competition also, in fact as much Italian representation as possible the better :)

    The way Napoli have played this year has been great away from home they have played the perfect way, at City if we hadnt have equalised late on that would have been the perfect away performance, soak up the pressure hit on the break.

    hopefully Milan will go for it tomorrow!

  • Comment number 89.

    82.At 09:47 14th Feb 2012, eduard_streltsov_ghost wrote:
    Barcelona injury problems?? Think they need to get a grip. If they can't hack it in the league despite spending hundreds of millions each season on new players and having a "famed" youth academy then they have no excuses in the league. Utd have had on average 9-10 players injured and are still only 2 points behind.

    Pep Guardiola good. Ferguson better.

    Thats just an invitation for patches.
    Definitely agree that guardiola isnt all he's hyped up to be. Give him a spell as manager of the "dog and duck" and see how he fares.

    Meow meow meow worst league in the world meow meow meow.

  • Comment number 90.

    the comments purposely written to get a rise out of Soul_Patch are embarassing to read. please stop, or go back to school, its pathetic

  • Comment number 91.

    I still stand by my view that Patches should replace Mcnulty as chief blogger.

  • Comment number 92.

    I think both English clubs in the Champions League stand a good chance of progressing. AC Milan appear on paper to be world beaters, their recent record in Europe would suggest not. If Chelsea put in a decent performance, they should have enough to beat Napoli. They'll be good games to watch either way.

    I still don't like that UEFA have messed about with the fixtures though, stretching them out over two weeks,.

  • Comment number 93.

    89.At 12:17 14th Feb 2012, The_Forehead_Of_Gervinho wrote:

    Bonjourno!! I don't think patches dares venture outside the safety of the Mcnulty haven.

    Glad I missed the fallout from handshake gate! Should be some tasty matches going on this week. If Zenith & CSKA get some upsets and utd beat ajax I will look like the cat that got the cream!!

  • Comment number 94.

    90.At 12:24 14th Feb 2012, signori wrote:
    the comments purposely written to get a rise out of Soul_Patch are embarassing to read. please stop, or go back to school, its pathetic

    The Guardiola is not intended to get any rise out of patches or anybody else (though it invariably may do). It is merely a point to those who incessasantly laud the manager as the Messiah that despite him having one of the most expensively assembled squads (transfers & wages) and having a reputed world class academy, he's 10 points behind in a 2 team league. The excuse paraded is "injury problems". Oh dear, I guess he'll have to bring in 2-3 more 30m+ players to plug those gaps then, and we can lap up about what an amazing coach he is for buying all the best players.

  • Comment number 95.

    This must be a side effect: Manchester United out and, in two days, not even 100 postings. Strange.

  • Comment number 96.


    I think if Barcelona's failings after Iniesta and Xavi have been injured indicates to 3 things only:

    a) as great a club they are, Messi and system alone are not enough
    b) it's the trio in Xavi, Iniesta and Messi that make Barcelona a powerhouse
    c) they have a suspect defense.

  • Comment number 97.

    "Barcelona are chock-a block of sizzlingly sensational, scorching Spanish pros."

    Presumably that's patch-speak for "bunch of diving girls"

  • Comment number 98.

    96.At 13:16 14th Feb 2012, Reds19 wrote:

    Which is what a number of armchair analysts had pointed out, only to either
    a) be ridiculed
    b) be classed as anti barcelona

    Barca have had a suspect defence for a long time, as well as an average keeper. The only reason why this has not come to light sooner was because of the fact that busquets, xavi and iniesta played almost every game.

    Barca are still a good team with the likes of Messi in the team, but their system is set on ball retention and having the quality to do it. Without those midfield three, the system becomes defunct.

    I've said it time and time again, you need to match them in midfield with 3 ball winners that can pass, and stick the ball out wide to fast wingers that can dominate their full backs. That's why I think bayern will beat them if they meet in the CL.

  • Comment number 99.

    #98. eduard_streltsov_ghost,

    It's the easiest conclusion that you have to match Barcelona in midfield. Where do you find a Xavi, Iniesta and Messi though?

  • Comment number 100.

    Barca are a one trick pony, but with a very good trick. If you break up the passing (by getting in to Xavi) and man mark Messi out of the game, what else do they have?

    It's only 11 vs 11 (at least till they get someone sent off), but against Bayern they'd be up against a team as much of a master of the dark arts as they are.


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