I’ll start with tomorrow’s Champions League group match versus Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia.
“[APOEL] was founded in a candy store in 1926, [and] has become the most successful team in Cyprus after a number of political controversies. In 1948, the club banned players with left-wing political affiliations. Those players went on to found the rival club, Omonia Nicosia. In 1986, when the government prohibited APOEL from playing a European Cup game against a Turkish team, Besiktas, UEFA suspended the club from European competition for two years.”
“A couple of days in the Mediterranean sun will provide balm, it is hoped, ahead of Sunday’s increasingly important Premier League meeting at home to Liverpool. After all, it was against the same opponents last year that Scolari first tasted defeat and the wheels started to come off.”
Another of the Champions League newcomers, Rubin Kazan, drew 1-1 at home to Inter Milan earlier this evening.
A selection of miscellaneous Chelsea and football links.
“I hope to stay [at Chelsea]. It depends not only on me. But, after three months here, I hope to stay a long time.”
Call me a pessimist, but there’s more chance of a man walking on Mars between now and 2015 than there is of Ancelotti still being at Chelsea.
The Daily Mail reports that Michael Ballack could be on the lookout for a new club at the end of the season if Chelsea fail to win any major trophies, even though he said nothing of the sort.
“What is important for me is winning titles and that’s why I also want to play in a team that is hungry for success.
“I signed an extension just recently and I hope that I will continue to be successful in the future. Any decisions I have in the future, though, will be made after due consideration and I will discuss everything with the club and with my family.
“At my age you think in shorter time frames and I am already playing for one of the best clubs in the world. I’m very much at home in London and I can imagine seeing out my career at Chelsea.
“It’s very important for us this year to win the Premier League again after a three-year wait. We want to take England by storm but winning the Champions League is a big personal aim of mine.”
The Daily Mail is counting down its 50 best midfield maestros. Alan Hudson and Frank Lampard are included at numbers 42 and 41 respectively.
“Alan Hudson: Scandalously capped just twice, Hudson played for Chelsea, Stoke and Arsenal before having a go at cracking America. Probably had his best years at Stamford Bridge with his local club during that six years that was high on flair but light on trophies. It was the antithesis of the Mourinho era, but there was plenty of love for the likes of Hudson, Peter Osgood and Charlie Cooke.”
“Frank Lampard Jnr: The midfielder that some England fans love to hate for some reason. But there is no doubting the adoration at Stamford Bridge, where Lampard has been the architect of so much of Chelsea’s success since signing from West Ham eight years ago. His goalscoring return is immense. His dad wasn’t bad either.”
The Daily Telegraph takes a look at football fans’ Google search topics. ‘chelsea fans celery‘ is a popular search term.
“Chelsea fans have been bringing celery to games for over 20 years in celebration of their terrace chant, ‘Celery’. But their salad-tossing has got them into trouble with the Football Association in the past because throwing anything at a footbal match, including celery, is a criminal offence.”
“Away from the pitch I’m not OK,” he admits. “How could I be? That fine is a very particular thing which affects me on a very personal level. I think I have amply paid for an error of youth which is light years away from the man and footballer I am now.”
The New York Times Goal Blog lists the best soccer songs on the planet. Unsurprisingly, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Gerry and the Pacemakers tops the list.
Another New York Times Goal Blog link. Cesar R. Torres, an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Sport Studies and Physical Education at the College at Brockport, State University of New York, writes about diving in football.
“It is logically contradictory to simultaneously accept the rules of soccer and to circumvent them when opportunities arise. Strictly speaking, this is the case with of all forms of cheating: intentionally breaking the rules surreptitiously to gain an advantage that would not probably be obtained otherwise. Divers, then, excuse themselves from following the rules and treat opponents simply as means to their own ends while avoiding the game’s core objective.”
“A study shows players who ‘rush’ penalties have the biggest failure rate. Those who respond fastest to the referee’s whistle are much more likely to miss than players who pause briefly before starting their run up.”
They also list five England penalty shockers. I can remember exactly where I was when four of the five were taken.
“Various theories have been put forward, from poorer defending to more attack-minded formations and the idea that there is a growing imbalance between top and bottom, although the one Pat Nevin will not accept is that the four draws are a statistical quirk without explanation. “I don’t think that can be a fluke,” said the former Chelsea winger who now works as a media pundit. “It’s an extremely odd stat but it strikes me as too odd to be dismissed.””
“Some days I wake up thinking we should have referring mistakes in the game, we should have diving in the game.
“But for me… if something happens in the game and you’re penalised for it, and had nothing to do with it, that’s not fair.”