BBC BLOGS - Phil Minshull

Archives for February 2011

Manchester United face improving Marseille

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Phil Minshull | 17:21 UK time, Tuesday, 22 February 2011


After Crawley Town gave Manchester United the fright of their lives in the FA Cup on Saturday, what are the chances of Olympique Marseille going one better and knocking Sir Alex Ferguson's side out of the Champions League?

Nearly all the bookmakers favour United over their French counterparts but Marseille may prove to be a better side than many might expect.

They currently lie third in the French first division, three points behind surprise leaders Lille, but are still playing catch-up following an indifferent start to the season, drawing two and losing two of their first six league games.

Marseille also lost their first two Champions League group matches - at home to Spartak Moscow and away to Chelsea - failing to score a goal in either game. They started getting into their stride by mid-October and subsequently rattled off four straight wins in the Champions League, including a 1-0 win over Chelsea in the Velodrome in their final group game, although there was little riding on the enocounter at that stage.

Why did they start poorly? Well, part of the problem was that the Marseille directors decided to cash in on Europe-wide interest in Mamadou Niang. The Senegalese striker, who topped the French first division scoring charts last season with 18 goals, was sold to Turkish club Fenerbahce for 8m euros..

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Ibrahimovic and Robinho prove me wrong

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Phil Minshull | 19:13 UK time, Monday, 14 February 2011


Every so often, a blogger has to put their head above the parapet and admit that he or she was wrong about something they have written in the past.

That's what I'm doing right now.

At the start of the season, I expressed a lot of scepticism about whether Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho were going to have a positive impact on AC Milan after their summer moves from Barcelona and Manchester City respectively.

In stark contrast to my original prognostications, both players have not been the divisive force I suspected they might be and, thanks in part to the duo's efforts, Milan are looking like they might take their first Serie A title since 2004.

Having seen a few of their recent games, I also have a feeling that Champions League opponents Tottenham will find out just how influencial the pair have become at the San Siro when the two teams meet on Tuesday.

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Contract cat and mouse games at the Nou Camp

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Phil Minshull | 17:51 UK time, Wednesday, 9 February 2011


So Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has finally persuaded Pep Guardiola to put pen to paper and remain as the club's coach for another season until the end of the 2012 season.

As I write this blog, the deed has not been formally done but, according to the club website: "The signing of the contract will take place in the next few days."

Barcelona fans will no doubt have smiles on their faces as they amble down the Ramblas but I cannot help feeling there is a lot that has been left unsaid by both the club and their coach.

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Deadline drama grips Europe, not just Premier League

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Phil Minshull | 22:26 UK time, Tuesday, 1 February 2011


There's no denying it. It was Fernando Torres' deadline day move to Chelsea that made the headlines across Europe, and especially in his native Spain, when the winter transfer window finally closed on Monday.

Both of the main Spanish sports daily newspapers Marca and As had coverage of the move on their front pages on Tuesday as he became the most expensive Spanish player ever, joining Carlo Ancelotti's team for a reported £50m.

Some of the comment about the move related to the irony that he achieved such a feat without either of the Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid being involved.

However, even if the Premier League signings were the ones that caught the eye, there was still plenty of going on elsewhere in Europe on Monday, especially in Italy and Germany.

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