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Ramble #16

The Derby

I wonder what it must be like to wake up on derby day morning and actually feel like your team has a chance of winning?

Everton have not won one since 2010, we’ve only won four in this millennium and the last victory at Anfield saw Francis Jeffers sent off. Our last three performances at Anfield are amongst the worst I’ve ever watched (Jagielka’s last minute leveller two years ago was brilliant but lucky). 

So I’m not excited for today. I’m not even expecting a draw. We will lose, there’s no doubt about that. Especially without Seamus Coleman and Morgan Schneiderlin. 

But BBC Breakfast’s coverage has annoyed me. They started the segment on the derby by talking about how Liverpool have lost two key players, therefore making today harder for them. But they didn’t mention in the same breath how Everton have also lost two key players (and, for the record, Funes Mori and James McCarthy as well). 

They ended it by finally talking about Coleman, except they even got that wrong. They said Koeman had an argument with Martin O’Neill over the Irish managers treatment of Seamus. I mean, did the writers ever stop to ask themselves if that made sense? The argument was about the Irish treatment of James McCarthy who they selected even though he wasn’t 100% fit. For all of O’Neill’s faults, he couldn’t predict Coleman’s leg break! 

I don’t mind that we’ll lose the derby, I’m honestly used to that. I mind when the coverage is biased and wrong. Both clubs have pretty big histories, both clubs are in the top half of the biggest league in the country. Neither have ever won the Premier League, so give both the same level of detail and fairness to your coverage. 

If organisations like BBC can’t give fair coverage, then we have to get all our news about our club from local sources and the club itself, which is far from ideal.

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Europa League: Round of 16 draw – As It Happened

11:47: Ok, let’s try something – live blogging the draw for the last 16. The draw will start at 12:00 GMT with, obviously, 16 teams going into the hat for the next stage of the secondary club competition in Europe. As I touched upon in the blog about the round of 32 results, the 16 teams are from all over Europe. Italy have 5, Russia, Ukraine and Spain 2 with Germany, England, Turkey, Belgium and Holland boasting one a piece.

11:51: The best place to start seems to be details about the draw. It will be unseeded, unlike the last one, so any team can face anyone. That leaves open a very mouthwatering Napoli-Sevilla tie, or possibly Inter-Roma. There are some very high quality teams left in this competition

11:55: Who are the 16 teams? Have a look above. I think you will agree that this is a very strong line up!

11:58: Want to watch the draw? Head to UEFA.com or watch on British Eurosport. I’ll be watching on the TV. It taking place on Eurosport shows how unimportant the competition is to people in this country, which is a massive shame. Personally, I love this tournament and think it provides more shocks and goal-fests than most. The competition is improving in quality every year – it’s definitely very watchable now.

11:59: As an Everton fan, who do I want? That’s a tough question. I think Club Brugge is the easiest match on paper however due to our history, I’d love to take Villarreal or Fiorentina out. I don’t want Napoli, Roma, Moscow or Inter.

12:00: The title credits are starting, so stay tuned for updates as they happen

12:01: As usual, the opening remarks will probably go on for ages. The draw is taking place in Nyon, the home of football in Europe. This is the first time it’s a stand-alone round of 16 draw, so no further rounds will be drawn.

12:02: I wish I had time to give you all the teams in detail however it’s worth mentioning a few. Sevilla are reigning champions, Wolfsburg and Napoli are heavily fancied while Dynamo Moscow won all their matches in the group.

12:04: The draw is now taking a look at how each side managed to get this far. All sides have won a lot of games and all will fancy a shot at the title. How will your side fare? This is literally Everton’s highlights of the season – the league has been dreadful!

12:05: The final is in Warsaw and the tagline is: Journeys to Warsaw. Jerzey Dudek is being wheeled out to help host the draw. English fans may remember him from his Liverpool days. Liverpool lost on penalties last night so he won’t be happy about that!

12:07: And, UEFA’s director of draws has appeared as well to stop cheating I presume. These draws are always confusing so let’s hope this goes smoothly. Does anyone understand it? I doubt it. Dudek has mentioned Wolfsburg, Zenit and Napoli as strong teams. I can’t disagree there!

12:08: Interesting tweet from the Europa League. Can one win it again?

12:09: Matches will be played on the 12th and 19th March. The first side drawn out will be at home. The Ukrainian teams can’t play at home on the same day. They also can’t be drawn with Russian sides due to the conflict.

12:10: How will they do that? The ball containing Kyiv will be placed on it’s own in a bowl with all the ones they can place in another bowl. So the teams who can’t be drawn first are Moscow or Zenit. Fairly simple then!

Right, no times from now on. Let’s get this draw started!

1. England Everton v Ukraine Dynamo Kyiv (hmm, that’ll be tough)

2. Ukraine Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk v Netherlands Ajax

3. Russia Zenit v  Italy Torino

4. Germany Wolfsburg v  Italy Inter Milan (Oooh boy!)

5. Spain Villarreal v Spain Sevilla

6. Italy Napoli v Russia Dynamo Moscow

7. Belgium Brugge v  Turkey Besiktas

8. Italy Fiorentina v  Italy Roma

12:20: Boy, there are some very exciting ties in that! An all Spanish affair between Villarreal and Sevilla, an all Italian clash in Florence and Rome but the highlight is certainly Wolfsburg v Inter Milan. Napoli have a potential banana skin in Dynamo Moscow, who haven’t lost in this competition yet.

12:22: I accept that the Europa League isn’t the most exciting of tournaments and it probably doesn’t raise the blood-rate like the Champions League but I hope you agree that that round is full of excitement.

12:23: Prediction time: Apparently Kyiv don’t travel well so I’d back Everton there. Ajax should have too much for Dnipro, as should Besiktas for Club Brugge. Zenit to beat Torino, Napoli to beat Dynamo Moscow and I think Wolfsburg will prevail over Inter. As for the other two, Sevilla should squeeze past Villarreal and Roma just overturn Fiorentina.

12:24: Thank you for following this, hope your team got who you wanted and keep an eye on this blog for the results of this round. Until then, goodbye!


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Europa League: Round of 32 draw

Following last week’s conclusion to both the Champions League and the Europa League, the final 32 teams have been decided. Joining the 24 group winners and runners up from the Europa League are the 8 3rd place teams in the Champions League. This article will look in detail at how the Champions League teams have arrived in this competition as well as look at the results from the final round of matches of the Europa League. If you have read my previous two articles then you will know how the groups stood going into the final round of matches, now, if you don’t already know, I will outline how they all finished.

Without further ado, let’s get this started:

Group A:
Mönchengladbach 3 – 0 Zürich
Limassol 0 – 2 Villarreal

Pos Team Pld W D L GD Pts
1 Germany Borussia Mönchengladbach  6 3 3 0 +10 12
2 Spain Villarreal  6 3 2 1 +8 11
3 Switzerland Zürich 6 2 1 3 −4 7
4 Cyprus Apollon Limassol 6 1 0 5 −14 3

Group B:
Club Brugge 2 – 1 HJK
Copenhagen 1 – 5 Torino

Pos Team Pld W D L GD Pts
1 Belgium Club Brugge  6 3 3 0 +8 12
2 Italy Torino 6 3 2 1 +6 11
3 Finland HJK 6 2 0 4 −6 6
4 Denmark Copenhagen 6 1 1 4 −8 4

Group C:
Partizan 0 – 0 Tripoli
Beşiktaş 1 – 0 Tottenham

Pos Team Pld W D L GD Pts
1 Turkey Beşiktaş  6 3 3 0 +6 12
2 England Tottenham Hotspur  6 3 2 1 +5 11
3 Greece Asteras Tripoli 6 1 3 2 −3 6
4 Serbia Partizan 6 0 2 4 −8 2

Group D:
Red Bull 5 – 1 Astra
Zagreb 4 – 3 Celtic

Pos Team Pld W D L GD Pts
1 Austria Red Bull Salzburg 6 5 1 0 +13 16
2 Scotland Celtic 6 2 2 2 −1 8
3 Croatia Dinamo Zagreb 6 2 0 4 −3 6
4 Romania Astra Giurgiu 6 1 1 4 −9 4

Group E:
PSV 0 – 1 Dynamo Moscow
Panathinaikos 1 – 1 Estoril

Pos Team Pld W D L GD Pts
1 Russia Dynamo Moscow 6 6 0 0 +6 18
2 Netherlands PSV Eindhoven 6 2 2 2 0 8
3 Portugal Estoril 6 1 2 3 −1 5
4 Greece Panathinaikos 6 0 2 4 −5 2

Group F:
Dnipro 1 – 0 Saint-Étienne
Qarabağ 0 – 0 Inter

Pos Team Pld W D L GD Pts
1 Italy Internazionale 6 3 3 0 +4 12
2 Ukraine Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 6 2 1 3 −1 7
3 Azerbaijan Qarabağ 6 1 3 2 −2 6
4 France Saint-Étienne 6 0 5 1 −1 5

Group G:
Liège 0 – 3 Feyenoord
Sevilla 1 – 0 Rijeka

Pos Team Pld W D L GD Pts
1 Netherlands Feyenoord  6 4 0 2 +4 12
2 Spain Sevilla  6 3 2 1 +3 11
3 Croatia Rijeka 6 2 1 3 −1 7
4 Belgium Standard Liège 6 1 1 4 −6 4

Group H:
Lille 0 – 3 Wolfsburg
Everton 0 – 1 Krasnodar

Pos Team Pld W D L GD Pts
1 England Everton  6 3 2 1 +7 11
2 Germany Wolfsburg  6 3 1 2 +4 10
3 Russia Krasnodar 6 1 3 2 −5 6
4 France Lille 6 0 4 2 −6 4

Group I:
Young Boys 2 – 0 Sparta Prague
Napoli 3 – 0 Bratislava

Pos Team Pld W D L GD Pts
1 Italy Napoli 6 4 1 1 +8 13
2 Switzerland Young Boys 6 4 0 2 +6 12
3 Czech Republic Sparta Prague 6 3 1 2 +5 10
4 Slovakia Slovan Bratislava 6 0 0 6 −19 0

Group J:
Bucureşti 0 – 2 Kyiv
Rio Ave 2 – 0 AaB

Pos Team Pld W D L GD Pts
1 Ukraine Dynamo Kyiv 6 5 0 1 +8 15
2 Denmark AaB 6 3 0 3 −5 9
3 Romania Steaua București 6 2 1 3 +2 7
4 Portugal Rio Ave 6 1 1 4 −5 4

Group K:
PAOK 1 – 2 Guingamp
Fiorentina 1 – 2 Minsk

Pos Team Pld W D L GD Pts
1 Italy Fiorentina 6 4 1 1 +7 13
2 France Guingamp 6 3 1 2 +1 10
3 Greece PAOK 6 2 1 3 +3 7
4 Belarus Dinamo Minsk 6 1 1 4 −11 4

Group L:
Metalist 0 – 1 Lokeren
Legia Warsaw 2 – 0 Trabzonspor

Pos Team Pld W D L GD Pts
1 Poland Legia Warsaw 6 5 0 1 +5 15
2 Turkey Trabzonspor 6 3 1 2 +2 10
3 Belgium Lokeren 6 3 1 2 0 10
4 Ukraine Metalist Kharkiv 6 0 0 6 −7 0

Champions League Teams:
Seeded: Olympiacos, Sporting, Bilbao, Zenit
Un-seeded: Anderlecht, Ajax, Liverpool, Roma

Pos Grp Team Pld W D L GD Pts
1 A Greece Olympiacos 6 3 0 3 −3 9
2 G Portugal Sporting 6 2 1 3 0 7
3 H Spain Athletic Bilbao 6 2 1 3 −1 7
4 C Russia Zenit  6 2 1 3 −2 7
5 D Belgium Anderlecht 6 1 3 2 −2 6
6 F Netherlands Ajax 6 1 2 3 −2 5
7 B England Liverpool 6 1 2 3 −4 5
8 E Italy Roma 6 1 2 3 −6 5

Olympiacos:
Olympiacos entered the Champions League at the group stage, due to their Greek championship last season. Drawn into a group with former winners Juventus, last years runners up Athlético and Swedish side Malmö, third was probably the best they could hope for. Their first three matches included two victories at home over the two giants in their group. Unfortunately, they also lost to Malmö and then didn’t win again until the last match. By beating Malmö 4 – 2 in Greece they managed to secure third and qualified for the Europa League. They became seeded as a result of winning more points than any other third placed side.

Sporting Lisbon:
Sporting finished second to Benfica in their domestic league so also entered the Champions League at the group stage. They were another team with a tough draw, having to entertain Chelsea and Schalke, but managed to finish above Maribor. They won two matches, against Schalke and Maribor as well as drawing the away match in Slovakia. They were only one point away to overthrowing Schalke for second place in the group, a point they lost when they conceded a last minute winner in Germany (a match they had been winning).

Athletic Bilbao:
Bilbao also picked up 7 points in the group stage of the Champions League, in a group featuring Porto and Shakhtar. They qualified for that stage as a result of beating Napoli in the play-off round, who they could face again at some point in the Europa League. Starting with a goal-less draw with Shakhtar, they then lost to BATE and Porto twice. In four matches, they had 1 point and were rock bottom of the group. Qualification to any competition looked unlikely, until 2 wins in 2 matches against BATE and Donetsk promoted them to third.

Zenit St Petersburg:
Despite having to play two ties before reaching the group stage, Zenit found themselves seeded second in the draw. They were drawn in a group with Benfica, Leverkusen and Monaco, the one team everyone was hoping to avoid from the fourth pot. Third and fourth pot teams upset the odds by finishing second and top of this group, with Zenit third on 7 points. Wins over Benfica and a draw with Monaco were enough to see them enter the Europa League.

Anderlecht:
Anderlecht have already had a fascinating journey in Europe this season. Despite having less than half of the points of both the group winner and second place, they were comfortably in third place. Arsenal and Dortmund ran away with the group, both only dropping 5 points each. Anderlecht were responsible for taking 4 of these 10, by coming from behind in both Germany and England. The match of either European Competition so far came in North London where Arsenal let a 3 goal lead slip to the Belgian champions. They beat and drew with Galatasaray, which was the only point the Turkish side picked up. Their 6 points weren’t enough to get them a seeding.

Ajax:
Drawn with Barcelona and PSG, Ajax were never expected to progress from their group. They did what they needed to do by beating APOEL in Holland, drawing in Cyprus and managing to pick up a point when hosting PSG. Narrow two goal losses home and away to Barcelona ended their hopes of qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League but a place in the Europa League was consolation enough for them.

Liverpool:
Despite the presence of the holders, Real Madrid, in their group Liverpool should have qualified fairly easily for the next stage. Basel and Ludogrets weren’t expected to pose too many problems however they started as soon as the matches began, with a fortunate Gerrard penalty required to beat Ludogrets before losing three matches to Basel and Real Madrid on the bounce. They ended the group with two draws against Ludogrets and Basel meaning they only won one match in their entire Champions League campaign.

Roma:
Another team with a tough group, Roma finished level on points with last placed CSKA but qualified as a result of their superior head to head record. A 7-1 home loss to Bayern Munich was the low-point of their campaign but Manchester City’s fluctuating form meant qualification was possible right until City won in Rome. As CSKA also lost in the final match, Roma had to settle for a place in the Europa League.

Now you know all the teams involved, it’s time to look at whom everyone has drawn. Going into this draw, there were a few rules, which stopped certain teams from facing each other. Ukrainian teams couldn’t draw Russian ones due to the conflict, teams couldn’t draw other teams from the same confederation and group runners up couldn’t face the winners of their groups.

The group runners up and un-seeded Champions League sides were placed into one pot, with the winners and seeded in the other. The un-seeded teams will play the first matches at home on the 19th February and the seeded teams will host the return leg on the 26th. The first pot was drawn first and then the remaining sides they could face individually selected as to avoid any rule-breaking ties. It went as smoothly as such a complicated process could be expected to and the following ties were drawn:

Young Boys Switzerland England Everton
Torino Italy Spain Athletic Bilbao
Sevilla Spain Germany Mönchengladbach
Wolfsburg Germany Portugal Sporting CP
Ajax Netherlands Poland Legia Warsaw
AaB Denmark Belgium Club Brugge
Anderlecht Belgium Russia Dynamo Moscow
Dnipro Ukraine Greece Olympiacos
Trabzonspor Turkey Italy Napoli
Guingamp France Ukraine Dynamo Kyiv
Villarreal Spain Austria Red Bull Salzburg
Roma Italy Netherlands Feyenoord
PSV Eindhoven Netherlands Russia Zenit
Liverpool England Turkey Beşiktaş
Tottenham  England Italy Fiorentina
Celtic Scotland Italy Internazionale

To do a little conclusion and early thoughts on those ties, it seems that the British teams all have tough matches. Young Boys have shown they aren’t pushovers while Inter, Beşiktaş and Fiorentina all have notable European pedigree. Tottenham will be regretting losing in Turkey, while Liverpool will be rueing the chance to progress from an easier group. The tie of the round will be played in Spain and Germany as holders Sevilla play Mönchengladbach. Other exciting ties include Wolfsburg – Sporting and PSV – Zenit.

If I had to stick my neck out, I would predict victories for Everton, Bilbao, Mönchengladbach, Wolfsburg, Ajax, AaB, Dynamo Moscow, Olympiacos, Napoli, Dynamo Kyiv, Red Bull, Roma, Zenit, Liverpool, Fiorentina and Inter Milan. Although given my prediction record, expect all the other teams to prevail.

In my next feature, I will discuss my views upon the Champions League entrants into the Europa League.