UEFA Champions League – All the Action From This Week’s Champions League Fixtures

UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday saw some of Europe’s most famous clubs progress into the knock-out stages of the competition, which is begin in February next year.

It was week 5 of the Group Stages and over in Spain, it has to be said that Manchester United and Villarreal, even though they were two of the teams to progress, produced a pretty boring and uneventful goalless draw. The only good moments came in the first half when a shot by the Portuguese striker Ronaldo produced a great save from Diego Lopez, the Villareal goalkeeper. Lopez deflected the ball onto the bar. Later the Utd’s and England star forward Wayne Rooney produced a cross that was deflected towards the danger area but it came to nothing as the Villareal player Capdevila managed to clear the ball to safety.

The same player, Capdevilla, was also involved in the evening’s most unsavory incident. With just 6 minutes of the game remaining he lunged and produced a rather ugly tackle on another of Man Utd’s star players, Ronaldo. Cadevilla was, quite rightly, given a red card by the referee and he was off to take an early shower.

Unfortunately, it was the end of the road for Glasgow Celtic and Gordon Strachan. Celtic, in the same Group E as Manchester Utd, must have thought they could have gone to Aalborg and got a good result. A win was the only chance Celtic had of staying alive in the competition. However, there will be no more European nights at Celtic’s Park Head stadium this season. There will not even be the consolation of playing in Europe’s second string competition, the UEFA Cup. Celtic will finish last in Group E thanks to a 2 – 1 defeat against the hugely unfancied AaB Aalborg. Not too many people would have put too much money on Celtic finishing last in this group when the draw was first made way back in the summer.

However, the game did start well for Celtic, as they led 1 – 0. But tragedy struck with just minutes remaining as the Celtic player Gary Caldwell could only turn the ball into his own net after a goal mouth scramble. Tears of sadness in the east end of Glasgow, whilst no doubt tears of joy in the city’s west end!

Over to Group F where Lyon, the perennial leaders of their domestic French league, beat the Italians of Fiorentina. Lyon therefore also progress to the last 16 of the competition. Not surprisingly, Lyon will be joined by Bayern Munich in the final stages after they overcame the Romanians of Steau Bucharest at the Allianz Arena. All the big teams are certainly lining line for battle when the Champions League reaches the sudden death stages.

The qualifaction situation is no different in Group G as both Arsenal, losing finalists in 2006 to Barcelona in Paris, and FC Porto, winners in 2004 when their manager was Jose Mourinho before he arrived in the west end of London to manage Chelsea, both made in through to the last 16 with wins over Dynamo Kiev and Fenerbache respectively.

However Arsenal did leave it a little late against Kiev with the winner coming only 3 minutes from the end of the game, scored by Bendtner. That must have come as a huge relief to Arsene Wenger and all connected with Arsenal. Since their excellent win in the Premier League against Man Utd as few weeks ago, which at the time silenced a few critics, it has been nothing but bad news and bad press for Arsenal with more defeats and the William Gallas affair, which resulted in being striped of the captaincy.

Finally on Tuesday evening, two more of Europe’s “Big Guns” made it safely through with the final week of the Group Stages to spare. Both Real Madrid, 9 times winners, and Juventus of Italy confirmed their places in the knock-out stages after Real beat BATE Borisov and Juventus drew 0 – 0 away to Zenit St Petersburg, the current UEFA Cup holders. Unfortunately, the result knocked Zenit out and it now look likely that they will be able to defend the crown they won last season in Manchester against Glasgow Rangers. Although that probably will not be too much of a consolation to them.

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EPL Team Profile: Blackpool

For a few hours on the opening day of the Premiership, Blackpool, in their first appearance in the EPL, were actually at the head of the League table, on the back of their victory against Wigan, on August 14, 2011.

Are you curious to know more about this squad? Here you go:

The official name of the club is Blackpool Football Club, or Blackpool FC. The club is also known by several nicknames, such as The ‘Pool, The Seasiders, and The Tangerines.

The team is registered in the seaside town of Blackpool in Lancashire, England.

The home venue of the club is in Bloomfield Road, Blackpool, England, and the owners are Owen Oyston and Valeri Belokon. the chairman is Karl Oyston, and the manger, Ian Holloway.

The squad comprsies the following players: Gilks, Crainey, Evatt, Baptiste, Cathcart, Vaughan, Adam, Harewood, Ormerod, Taylor-Fletcher, Grandin, Rachubka, Eardley, Basham, Edwards, Ludovic Sylvestre, Demontagnac and Euell.

The new signings this season are Marlon Harewood (Free Agent), Craig Cathcart (Manchester United), Ludovic Sylvestre (Czech team Mlada Boleslov; ex-Barcelona), Elliot Grandin (CSKA Sofia), and Malaurty Martin (Monaco).

This is Blackpool’s first appearance in the Premier League.

Their opening match in EPL 2010-11 was against Wigan, on August 14. And the result of that match that surprised everyone was a 4-0 thrashing delivered by the debutant team.

Pre-season Preview:

Blackpool qualified to play in the Premier League for the first time, this season by getting the better of Cardiff in the final of play offs.

Manager Ian Holloway’s squad has thereby earned the opportunity to play against top flight teams at the best venues, around England, and they will savour that experience.

Although nobody gives Blackpool the ghost of a chance to do well at this level, there is no pressure of expectation, and in Ian Holloway, they have a shrewd manager who can make the most of any opportunity.

In the Premier League, Holloway will get to rub shoulders with the likes of Sir Alex Fergusson, Arsene Wenger and Carlo Ancelotti, and prove that he is no less a manager than any of them.

One of Blackpool’s to signings this year is Marlon Harewood, whose previous club, Aston Villa have released him. Harewood is a competent forward with a goal scoring ability, and Blackpool will look to his guidance to learn to compete at this level.

In 21 year old Craig Cathcart, they have a promising new recruit. Cathcart has already earned a Northern Ireland under-21 cap, is reportedly ready to join the senior side. The Premier League will give Cathcart an opportunioty to showboat his skills.

Apart from Harewood and Cathcart, Blackpool have recruited a few more players, and these include Malaury Martin, previously with Monaco. Among players who have left are Stephen McPhee, retiring from the game on account of injury,and Ben Burgess going to Notts County.

The way they have begun their Premier league campaign, with a 4-0 win over Wigan, Blackpool could spring a surprise on all of us, like Birmingham City, Hull City and Reading, other promoted sides, have done in recent years. That said, one swallow does not a spring make, and as they are bound to find out as they stay longer in the Premiership, life here won’t be easy for Blackpool.

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The 10 Top Places to Shop in Barcelona

If you are seeking the best places to shop in Barcelona, then those detailed below are ten of the most popular. They are used for shopping in Barcelona, both by visitors and also the city’s residents, so are not just used by tourists. This beautiful city is famed, not only for its history and its magnificent architecture, but also for its shopping which is famed throughout the world.

1. Paseo de Gracia:

This famous street is also known locally as Passeig de Gracia, and boasts some of the most expensive shops in Barcelona. Noted for its famous modernist architecture, this street runs from Plaza Catalunya to the metro Diagonal. You will find many famous names here, including Gucci, Desigual, D&G, Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik, and also a number of top restaurants and bars to refresh you when you are tired of shopping. Those searching for world famous brands and pure luxury will be delighted here, but be ready to use your credit card and spend freely since this area is for upscale shopping, and the prices reflect it.

2. Portal de L´Angel:

If you are right in the centre of Barcelona, then this is a pedestrian thoroughfare in the Ciutat Vella (downtown) district beginning at Plaza Catalunya and running to the cathedral. You will find the department store El Cortes Inglés at its start and the street also boasts names such as Benetton, Massimo Dutti, Camper, H&M and Zara. This street offers more economical brands and its target market is a younger crowd, so if you are searching for the latest fashion trends at an affordable price you should come straight here.

3. La Rocca Village:

La Roca Village outlet is situated in the village of the same name that is off Junction 12 of the A7 motorway. You can also get a bus from Fabra I Puig metro in the Sant Andreu district or a train from Sants Station. It’s well worth the time taken to get here because you will find top designer outlets at up to 60% off and some of the best shopping therapy in the world. Being an outlet, it also has a Rebaixes period (seasonal sales) held in July and January when well known luxury brands are sold at a bargain prices.

4. Diagonal Mar:

This area offers a large number of Barcelona shopping stores, cinemas, restaurants and other facilities, as would be expected of one of Barcelona’s newest shopping centres. Open from 10 am to 10 pm, you can shop here day and night. Good for family shopping.

5. L’Illa:

Situated by the corner of Avinguda Diagonal 555-559 and Carrer de Constança, L’Illa is a shopping mall that offers more than 170 shops and restaurants, including Benetton, Diesel and Zara. It is easiest to get the Tombus, or circuit bus, starting at Plaza Catalunya and goes on to stop at 28 locations. This distinctive blue bus will drop you off at Diagonal and Paseo de Gracia allowing you hop on and off for your shopping. When it turns left on Diagonal, wait until it reaches L’Illa and then get off. The advantage of this large shopping center is that you can find mid-priced and well known brands like Zara, Mango, etc., as well as small, unique boutiques with more exclusive models all in the same place.

6. Raval:

Raval offers you a good choice of vintage fashion. You will also find several second hand shops here and the historic Boqueria Market, one of the most famous markets in Europe. Lailo, on Carrer de la Riera Baixa, is an example, offering top-quality goods such as genuine Victorian bustles and vintage dance costumes. However, if you can’ find what you want here, there are several others on the same street for you to check out.

7. Gracia:

Gracia was originally a separate village from Barcelona, and even now it retains its own character with bars, restaurants and plazas, and also several unique boutiques and shoe shops. Although you pay, you are sure to find original and creative fashions here. Get off at the Fontana metro stop and walk down Carrer d’Asturies towards Carrer Verdi and turn right. You will find all you want around this area.

8. Encants Mercat:

This is a flea market, or antique market, however you look at it. Known also as the Mercat Fira de Bellcaire, this is the largest open air market in Barcelona selling anything from books to furniture. You must haggle for a good deal and it is expected that you do. The Encants Mercat is open each day except Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday from 9 am to 6 pm.

9. El Borne:

If you are young (or even not so young) and are looking for a trendy area of Barcelona, then El Borne is for you, with its clothing, shoe and jewelry boutiques. The cafes and bars are packed at night, and you will also find the textile and Picasso museums here. El Borne is where the artists tend to hang out.

10. El Corte Inglés:

Almost where we started, El Corte Inglés is situated in Plaza Catalunya, and is not only Barcelona’s largest department store chain, but also the largest in Spain. There are several around the city, and this is the biggest, offering a range of goods that you would expect to find in a large comprehensive department store. If you like wandering around large stores, then this is for you. In Spain it is said that if you can´t find what you´re looking for, come to El Corte Ingles, because the huge variety of items means you can find almost anything you need.

These are the top 10 places to shop in Barcelona as we see it, and unless otherwise stated, normal store opening hours are from 10 am to 8.30 pm, although you should expect some of the smaller boutiques in areas such as Gracia, Raval and Borne to close for an afternoon siesta from 2 pm to 5 pm.

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