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Archive for the ‘UEFA Champions League’ Category

Barcelona Baby

It's what all of the cool babies will be wearing this spring.

Barcelona fans had much to celebrate the first week of May in 2009. First, on May 2nd, they kicked the bejesus out of Real Madrid 6-2, effectively ending any questions as to who would be La Liga champs. Then, on May 6th, Andres Iniesta scored a screamer of a goal in the last seconds of stoppage time against Chelsea, thus advancing to the Champions League final where they then thoroughly dismantled Manchester United.

Celebrations for many no doubt went on long into the night. For most, the after effect was probably no more than a hoarse throat and lingering hangover. For some, it seems, the celebration of these momentous events will be more lasting.

According to the results of a survey by Barcelona radio station ComRadio of local hospitals and clinics, requests for beds at maternity hospitals have gone through the roof. Births this week, and those expected for next week, are 45% above average.

The El Mundo newspaper quoted Mercedes Rodriguez of the city’s Quiron Clinic as saying, “When we notice some sort of surge we look for the reason and it’s evident that the cause of the increase this week is the euphoria of Barca fans thanks to the huge win (against Real) and Iniesta’s goal.”

According to the paper, in Barcelona the baby boom is popularly referred as “the Iniesta generation.”

No word yet on whether there has been a spike in naming babies “Andres” or “Andrea.”

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There has been a lot in the British press over the past week about the shocking level of debt being carried by Manchester United, which currently stands at £700m or $1.114b. That’s right, more than $1 billion.

manchester united's ownership structure in chart form

The Glazers new unorthodox tactical system for Manchester United

Last Monday the Glazer family, owners of the club and proud Americans, announced a plan to float a bond for £500m to address the club’s rising level of debt, although financial experts in London warned that the Glazers’ plan could be “hampered by a glut of similar high-yield bond offerings.”

Along with that announcement came a lot of very distressing details.

First came the news that without the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo the club would have been in the red. Thanks to that record breaking deal of £81m, the club was able to report a pre-tax profit of £48.2m (£26m after tax) instead of a loss of £31.8m. (more…)

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UEFA announced the Champions League draw for the round of 16 this morning. The results are, with the first team listed in each match-up at home for the opening leg of the knock-out round:

February 16/March 10

  • AC Milan (ITA) v Manchester United FC (ENG)
  • Olympique Lyonnais (FRA) v Real Madrid CF (ESP)

February 17/March 11

  • FC Bayern München (GER) v ACF Fiorentina (ITA)
  • FC Porto (POR) v Arsenal FC (ENG)

February 23/ March  17

  • Olympiacos FC (GRE) v FC Girondins de Bordeaux (FRA)
  • VfB Stuttgart (GER) v FC Barcelona (ESP)

February 24/March 16

  • FC Internazionale Milano (ITA) v Chelsea FC (ENG)
  • PFC CSKA Moskva (RUS) v Sevilla FC (ESP)

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The UEFA Champions League is your basic Royal Rumble of European club teams. The big leagues send their best teams to directly into the round robin phase of the competition while the smaller league champions have to fight through a qualifying stage in order to make the 32 team competition. Progressing from the round robin phase to the 16 team one-and-done knockout phase is important to big and small clubs alike because the payday of a Champions League knockout game is the footy equivalent of divorcing Tiger Woods. If a smaller club can make the knockout rounds, it suddenly finds itself with an enormous unexpected windfall. Conversely, large clubs often set their finances with the expectation of making the knockout rounds of Champions League and find themselves in dire straights if they fail to progress (see: Liverpool & Juventus, circa yesterday).

The round robin phase ended yesterday and the knockout stages don’t begin until Feb. 16, 2010. Here are the teams that advanced:

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Law enforcement officials in Germany announced today that 50 raids in Germany, Switzerland and England have resulted in the arrests of 17 people in connection with an alledged match-fixing ring. Those arrested are described as “leaders of the gang.” A further 200 people are suspected of being involved in the match-fixing ring. The gang is suspected of fixing the results of some 200 matches, including three games in the Champions League and 12 in the Europa League. Matches in at least nine countries including Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, Hungary, Bosnia and Austria are believed to have been tainted. No matches in England, Spain, Italy or France are believed to have been affected. Authorities did not say whether the manipulated Champions League or Europa League matches took place in the qualifying rounds or group stages.

UEFA representative Peter Limacher called it the biggest match-fixing scandal ever to hit Europe. Said Limacher, “We at UEFA are stunned by the magnitude of this . . . we are deeply affected by the scope of game manipulations by international gangs.”

(more…)

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