goose

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I realize that nobody here cares about the qualifying rounds :p but to me they are just as interesting as the final rounds of the competition. There's so much passion and drama in these qualifying rounds. You can see a lot of teams that you never get to see in the group stage and the atmosphere on many of these stadiums is absolutely insane.

 

here's a beautiful goal from last night...

 

 

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UCL play-off draw (16/17 & 23/24 August)

 

League route
Steaua București (ROU) v Manchester City (ENG)
Porto (POR) v Roma (ITA)
Ajax (NED) v Rostov (RUS)
Young Boys (SUI) v Borussia Mönchengladbach (GER)
Villarreal (ESP) v Monaco (FRA)

Champions route
Ludogorets Razgrad (BUL) v Viktoria Plzeň (CZE) 
Celtic (SCO) v Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR)
FC København (DEN) v APOEL (CYP)
Dundalk (IRL) v Legia Warszawa (POL)
Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) v Salzburg (AUT)

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Porto and Roma is a pretty hot draw for a qualifier, it could have easily been a round of 16 tie. Celtic have somehow managed a better draw in the play-off than they did in the third prelim.

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Villareal - Monaco is a tough one as well.

As for Celtic, I've seen Hapoel two times, against Olympiacos and Sheriff Tiraspol and they are a good team. Plus, the 2nd leg will be in Israel and their fans are very loud. Also Celtic struggled so far so imo Hapoel are slightly favorites, like 51%.

It would be something if Dundalk makes it, that would be a big surprise.

And I wouldn't mind seeing City in Europa League this season :p

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Neither would I. :laugh:

 

You'd have to say it's one that City should get through, but certainly not one they can afford to take for granted. Villarreal will likely have too much for Monaco in what looks like the tie of the round aside from Porto-Roma. Tough draw for Dundalk unfortunately, although I don't think this Legia side is as good as the one that played Celtic off the park a few years ago. It was a real struggle for them to beat a moderate Slovakian outfit on aggregate in the last round.

 

I don't know much about Hapoel, but keeping out Champions League regulars suggests that they're a strong defensive unit, which isn't good news for a side who struggle to break down their opposition. I would expect Celtic to just make it, but I wouldn't consider it an upset if they went out.

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I think City will get through. Steaua has some extremely talented players but it's very hard to play against such amazing players. Imo if the 2nd leg would have been in Bucharest it could have been different. Even though I doubt that 55.000 fanatic Steaua fans could scare City's superstars the way they scared Sparta Praga in the previous round. Anyway I'm a Dinamo Bucharest fan and Steaua is our #1 enemy, but I will root for the romanian team of course.

For Dundalk it would be a surprise just getting there alltogether, doesn't matter who they play against. I agree that Legia is not a team to be afraid of but they are still the better team. 

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The Man City of old would have probably been rattled by such a hostile atmosphere, I suppose we'll have to wait and see how it pans out with Guardiola at the helm and a group of players still looking to gel. On paper, they look capable of having a decent run, although I'd be very surprised if they were to equal last season’s semi-final finish under Pellegrini.

 

It could be a hard slog for Ajax, too. Rostov are supposedly the Leicester of the Russian league.

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I don't know if you know this but Steaua won the trophy in 1986. After a final with Barcelona. Steaua's goalkeeper made history that day after he saved all 4 penalties. There are only two east european teams that won this competition. The other one is Red Star Belgrade and it's sad to see that Red Star hasn't played in UCL in 25 years.

I don't know much about Rostov but if they knocked out Anderlecht I don't see why they can't do the same with Ajax.

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Roberto Martinez is an incredibly underwhelming choice.

Apparently Prandelli, Ragnick, Rudi Garcia and Advocaat were the rest of the seriously considered candidates and I honestly think I would have preferred all of them over Martinez.

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1 hour ago, Syria said:

I don't know if you know this but Steaua won the trophy in 1986. After a final with Barcelona. Steaua's goalkeeper made history that day after he saved all 4 penalties. There are only two east european teams that won this competition. The other one is Red Star Belgrade and it's sad to see that Red Star hasn't played in UCL in 25 years.

I don't know much about Rostov but if they knocked out Anderlecht I don't see why they can't do the same with Ajax.

 

I don't remember the 1986 competition first hand, but I do miss the days when the Champions League was wide open and relative outsiders like Steaua, PSV and Red Star were in with a chance of winning. Since Porto in 2004 and perhaps Rafa Benitez's Liverpool, the whole thing has been dominated by teams you'd expect to win it. :no:

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On 8/5/2016 at 4:31 PM, SympathysSilhouette said:

Roberto Martinez is an incredibly underwhelming choice.

Apparently Prandelli, Ragnick, Rudi Garcia and Advocaat were the rest of the seriously considered candidates and I honestly think I would have preferred all of them over Martinez.

 

That appointment was as leftfield as they come, although I can just about see the logic. In theory a manager like Martinez, who can inspire teams to excellent cup runs but appears to struggle with imposing his philosophy over the course of a full season in the league, should be quite well suited to the international game.

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Back with a whimper. Second half was okayish, keeper was good until he made precisely the same error our last knucklehead keeper used to make. How very Villa. I know we can't logistically get rid of the entire self-satisfied loser brigade of last year but we certainly have moves we need to make, preferably before the Jim White-th* of August.

 

*Did I actually just type that? :hang:

 

 

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West Ham eliminated by Astra Giurgiu for the 2nd year in a row :rofl:

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What a pity Rubin Kazan can’t see the hand gestures I’m making at them right now. :angry:

 

Sunderland seem to do transfer windows like we do Premier League seasons. Sack them off until it looks beyond us and then, when everyone has just about given up hope, we finally decide to show some urgency. There's no doubting that the squad has been left paper thin in some key areas, but I've no immediate plans to join the angry mob. In fact, I actually think we'll have the makings of a really strong side when everyone is fully fit, particularly with Kone (you can bog off as well, Everton) somehow still on board. The next four months will of course decide whether or not it's all been worthwhile, I'm just praying that we can scrape a few wins in the meantime, and that we've invested in enough cotton wool to keep Jermain Defoe wrapped up in until January.

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Managed about three hours of the Gormless Blokes Standing in Barely Lit Car Parks Telling Us Things We Already Know fandango before self-respect made a late bid for my services. 

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19 hours ago, Frederick said:

Managed about three hours of the Gormless Blokes Standing in Barely Lit Car Parks Telling Us Things We Already Know fandango before self-respect made a late bid for my services. 

 

Honestly, the whole thing was tedious enough when Harry used to lean out of his Range Rover declaring that no deals would be done before making the inevitable signings of Niko Kranjcar and Peter Crouch, but some of the stuff on Wednesday really made me cringe. I've come to suspect that even Jim White realises what a load of old nonsense it is. These days, although he remains aware that whipping himself into a frenzy over Halifax loaning somebody out to Forest Green is the only niche still available to him, you can almost see his eyes saying 'help me'.

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15 hours ago, Syria said:

J4W80l2Q.jpg

 

Quite an intriguing set-up in Group B there, any one of Benfica, Napoli, Besiktas or Dynamo could conceivably end up topping it. Spurs, Arsenal and Leicester got off pretty lightly, but are all capable of screwing up at any given time.

 

I see Chelsea managed to avoid all the big teams as well. ;)

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7 hours ago, Michael* said:

I see Chelsea managed to avoid all the big teams as well. ;)

:rofl:   

 

I think groups B and E are the most open ones. I'm really excited to see Leicester, Dortmund, Gladbach, Tottenham and Napoli. It's hard to predict how Leicester will look but IMO Porto should win that group.

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16 hours ago, Syria said:

:rofl:   

 

I think groups B and E are the most open ones. I'm really excited to see Leicester, Dortmund, Gladbach, Tottenham and Napoli. It's hard to predict how Leicester will look but IMO Porto should win that group.

 

Hard not to feel for Gladbach though. Last year they were placed in a group with Juventus, Sevilla and Man City. This year it's City again and Barca. Guardiola's record against them for Bayern was strangely poor, but still, what a tough break.

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