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Archives for May 2011

Why Spain thinks Chicharito is Barca's biggest worry

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Phil Minshull | 16:42 UK time, Monday, 23 May 2011

Ask any Spaniard who Barcelona should be most afraid of when they face Manchester United on Saturday, and the most likely answer is not Wayne Rooney or the hugely admired Ryan Giggs but the man they call Chicharito.

"Hugo Sanchez was one of the best goal scorers in Mexican football history and during his time in Madrid he was a nightmare for Barcelona. Now, the son of one of his former team-mates could be the man to beat Barcelona," wrote the Spanish football magazine Don Balon a week ago.

No regular watcher of the Premier League needs me to tell you why Barca should fear Javier Hernandez - the offspring of former Mexico striker Javier Hernandez Gutierrez - when he's on the field.

The debate in Spain about who Sir Alex Ferguson will field at Wembley sees almost every pundit believing Barca stand a better chance of beating United if the Premier League champions opt for the more conservative 4-5-1 formation, with Rooney as the sole front man to start with.

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Cristiano Ronaldo homes in on La Liga landmark

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Phil Minshull | 13:21 UK time, Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Can Cristiano Ronaldo be the first man to reach 40 goals in a La Liga season?

Lionel Messi got plenty of deserved plaudits a few weeks ago when he became the first player to score 50 goals in a Spanish campaign, so it's only appropriate that due recognition is paid to Ronaldo now that he has also reached that memorable milestone.

Ronaldo's two fantastic goals, both free-kick thunderbolts, in Real's 3-1 win at Villarreal on Sunday took his tally to 38 league goals for the season and 51 in all competitions, adding to the seven he has got in the Copa del Rey and six in the Champions League.

It is his La Liga statistics that stand out even, though his extra-time header in the Copa del Rey final, which gave Real a 1-0 win over Barcelona and Jose Mourinho his first trophy as the Madrid coach, may go down as his most significant strike of the season.

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Milan aim to rejoin Champions League elite

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Phil Minshull | 08:34 UK time, Friday, 13 May 2011

AC Milan caught up with local rival Inter by clinching their 18th Scudetto with a 0-0 draw at Roma last Saturday, although they are still well adrift of the 27 titles won by Juventus.

The Rossoneri are generally considered to be worthy champions and you will not hear too many complaints from fans of other teams that they were robbed.

Yes, reservations have been aired about the quality of football at times during the course of this Serie A campaign - and Inter must have wished it could have been extended another month or so after their terrific run over the second half of the season.

In truth, however, their chance of winning a sixth successive title really came to an end when they went down 3-0 in the Milan derby at the beginning of April.

The understandable elation in the red and black half of the city has yet to subside but Milan and their president Silvio Berlusconi have already taken stock of the situation.

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Will Champions League row affect Spain's Euro 2012 chances?

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Phil Minshull | 14:03 UK time, Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Spain national team coach Vicente del Bosque always seemed to be grinning when the TV cameras panned to him sitting in the Camp Nou executive box on Tuesday night.

However, I wonder what grim thoughts were really being formed behind that famous pronounced forehead and bushy moustache as he witnessed the Champions League semi-final second leg between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Did his remaining hair turn just a little greyer over the course of those 90 minutes, which ended with Barcelona progressing 3-1 on aggregate to the Champions League final at Wembley on 28 May, or was it my imagination?

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