Hello! After a long 12-week break during which football almost came home, the blog boys are back for our weekly gathering to see which of us can steer their classic champions league-winning team to the summit of a league like no other. Philip and his Barcelona 1992 side currently sit top, but we’re only at the halfway mark, so it’s still all to play for, and speaking of Philip, he opens this week’s action against Deano in the first of 18 matches…
Philip wasn’t in attendance this week, and while his Barca side were manager-less, Ajax were keeper-less, as Dean tried out a new tactic. It was all-square at half time after 4 first half goals, but Deano lost his talismanic captain and stand-in keeper, Danny Blind to injury just before the hour and this proved to be the turning point as Antonio Pinilla took full advantage of the empty Ajax net to extend Barca’s lead at the top with a 3-2 win.
The 3rd Der Klassiker of the season was next, with Andrew’s Bayern ‘01 taking on Nathan’s Dortmund ‘97. Both teams had tasted victory in their previous two meetings, and this time it was Nathan’s turn. The damage was all done inside the opening quarter of an hour, with strikes from Andy Möller and Jovan Kirovski. The former suffered a 2nd half injury, but this had little effect on the result, despite Bayern registering no fewer than 15 shots at goal.
Ross enjoyed some time at the top earlier in the season, and his Man Utd ‘99 side had the chance to nullify Barcelona’s win as they faced Rob’s Red Star ‘91, who beat Barca 1-0 in their last match. Cole gave United the lead before Pancev’s equaliser, but Red Star became the 3rd team to lose a star man to injury just past half an hour as Savicevic left the field. From then on it was easy for United, with Scholes adding a brace to make the final score 3-1.
The Italian derby between Dave’s Milan ‘94 and Matt’s Juventus ‘96 had everything, a total of 31 shots, 14 corners, 16 free kicks, but sadly it didn’t produce any goals, and both sides had their keepers to thank for their point. Rossi and Peruzzi both had a rating of 9, but it was the latter who was deemed worthy of the man of the match gong… for a change.
The last of the 1st round of league matches was a Cornish derby between myself and Zak. I had seen Paddy (aka @90sfootball) tweet a photo of Davor Suker celebrating scoring earlier in the day, and this turned out to be a good omen as the Croat smashed in a brace to put us 2-0 up. Roberto Carlos saw red, which set up a tense ending to the game, but luckily for me, the final whistle blew straight after Ferreri’s late strike.
Kicking off the 2nd set of league matches were Deano and Ross. Despite losing his opening match, Deano persisted with no keeper, but this time the outcome was different, with goals from Litmanen and the affectionately named Peter “Beetlejuice” Van Vossen on his return from injury. Frank De Boer was dismissed with a quarter of an hour to go, but it didn’t derail the Ajax train, in fact it had the opposite effect as Bogarde added a 3rd to leave Ross stunned.
Up next were Nathan and Philip. Sammer got Nathan off to a dream start on 12 minutes, and Dortmund held their own until just past half an hour, when Pinilla equalised, and Salinas turned the game around just before half time. The Barca scorers struck again in the 2nd half to make it 4-1, but the stats suggested it should have been closer, with Barca having just one more shot at goal (18) than Dortmund, and both sides having 6 shots on target.
Both of mine and Matt’s previous meetings were draws, so I was expecting another close one, but was surprised to be 2-0 up at half time as Suker continued his good form, and Raúl added a 2nd. Matt’s cause wasn’t helped by Paulo Sousa’s injury, and I was braced for a backlash in the 2nd half, but Mijatovic got our 3rd, and Raul made it 4-0 with 15 minutes to go. I never expected this result, and it was the 1st time I’d won both matches in a night, so things are on the up!
The penultimate league game was between Zak and Andrew, both of whom were looking to bounce back from earlier losses. Pele, Boksic and Ferreri put I’OM 3-0 up at half time, and the 2nd half witnessed 4 more goals, with Voller and Di Meco adding to Boksic’s 2nd, and a Bayern reply from Sergio. Andrew pointed out that if the match started on 65 minutes, he would have done alright, but sadly the events of the previous 64 minutes still counted.
Rounding off the league fixtures were Rob’s manager-less Red Star, and Dave. Brian Laudrup got Milan off and running after just 5 minutes, but their Serbian opponents tightened up at the back and kept it at 1-0 until half time. But that was as good as it got for Rob, as Milan fired in 3 goals in the space of 11 minutes around the hour, and although Binic pulled one back, it was scant consolation.
So this is how the table is looking after the league action. The top 4 are unchanged, Philip still leads the way after his 2 victories, and now has an 8-point cushion over Ross in 2nd. Dave and Matt have swapped places, and so too have myself and Nathan, but Andrew and Rob remain bottom of the pile. Perhaps they may fair better better in the FA Cup, which is where we’re headed next…
First up was Andrew, as his Bayern side travelled to Ayr Utd. The hosts took a surprise lead on 15 minutes, but class shone through with some obscene finishing from Elber. The highlight of the match however was some of the names in that Ayr side, most notably the Cameroonian substitute, Willie Mainge…
Philip’s Barcelona made light work of Falkirk, although the visitors did put in a spirited performance, finding the Barca net twice.
The first upset came at Glebe Park, as Brechin knocked out Rob’s Red Star, who were reduced to 10 men for the last half an hour of the game.
An eventful match at Boghead Park followed, with a crowd of 7,470 being treated to 7 goals, an injury and a red card in Zak’s victory over Clydebank.
A Ricken goal looked to be enough for Nathan against Hamilton, but the hosts equalised late to force a replay at the Westfalenstadion.
The 1st of 2 all-premier league ties saw Matt host Dean. Deano kept faith in his keeper-less tactic, and condemned Matt to his 3rd defeat of the night. Matt may fancy a shake-up after failing to score this week, and conceding a total of 9 goals #whathashappenedtoperuzzi?
On paper, Dave’s visit from Aberdeen looked tricky, but it turned out to be anything but, with a hat trick from Papin and a brace from Raducioiu. Dave could even afford his favourite keeper Rossi to be sent off as well!
Myself and Ross brought this week’s action to a close. A Scholes double overturned my early 1-0 lead, and despite Schmeichel’s dismissal, we couldn’t find an equaliser to earn a replay.
Philip’s Barcelona face a trip to Dumbarton in the next round, Zak’s Marseille host Deano’s Ajax, Dave’s Milan host Rangers, and Ross’ opposition is yet to be decided, with 3 replays taking place beforehand, one of which being Nathan’s Dortmund against Hamilton.
So that’s your lot for this week, I hope you’ve enjoyed it, tune in same time same place next week as we plough on with the matches!