Hello there, happy Friday. Another week has come and gone, and here we are looking at another lovely weekend. And hopefully we have another weekend of good football in store. I’ll be here all weekend looking at the games and all the rest, as usual. Let’s have a look at a couple of things that happened yesterday.
Burnley go out of Europa
Burnley failed to qualify for the Europa League after they could only draw 1-1 with Olympiacos at Turf Moor last night. After they lost 3-1 in the first leg, they go out 4-2 on aggregate to the Greek side. The Clarets can have their heads held high after their performance, but I’m not sure how much of a consolation that is to them. They were quite good last night, and did more than enough to win the game. I’m not sure if they will take the positives and move on, or rue their missed chances and feel sorry for themselves. They really should be in today’s Europa League group stage draw, but it wasn’t to be.
They needed to win 2-0, and they could have easily been two goals up by half time. Sam Vokes will be kicking himself when he wakes up this morning; if he even managed to get asleep. He had two glorious chances in the first half, but headed over the bar on both occasions. He really should have scored both. Ashley Barnes also had a good chance, but he shot went inches wide in the end. I think there was a deflection on his shot, so we can cut him some slack.
They had plenty of chances in the second half too, but none quite as clear-cut as those. There was one that fell to Matej Vydra, who came on as a sub, but he put his shot well over the bar when he probably should have done better. Around a minute after Vydra’s miss, Olympiacos went up the other end and scored. It was heartbreaking for Burnley, because there was just eight minutes to play at that stage, and they needed three more. Vydra did score to get one back, but it wasn’t enough and the Clarets went out.
Burnley were quite impressive though, and on another day they would have won that game comfortably. It’s obviously extremely disappointing that they won’t get to play in Europe for the first time in 51 years, but they’ll just get on with it. They have no other choice, really. Some people were worried that they may be relegated from the Premier League after their poor start to the season, but I saw enough evidence last night to say that they’ll be fine this season. They should easily be good enough to finish in mid-table. They won’t finish as high as last year, and they may have to wait years for another chance to qualify for Europe, but I have no doubt that they’ll be OK. The Clarets host Man Utd on Sunday.
Champions League Draw
The draw for the group stages of the Champions League was made yesterday evening. The groups involving English teams are: Group B: Barcelona, Spurs, PSV, Inter – Group C: PSG, Napoli, Liverpool, Crvena Zvezda (Red Star Belgrade) – Group F: Man City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon, Hoffenheim – Group H: Juventus, Man Utd, Valencia, Young Boys. Some people may think they’ve been given a difficult group, and they won’t be easy, but I think all the Premier League clubs should be alright.
Spurs getting Barcelona is a tough one to take, but PSV and Inter are beatable. Last year’s group that contained Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund was much trickier on paper, but the side from north London won that group. They should be aiming to comfortably finish in second.
Liverpool’s is also quite difficult, as we know PSG have ambitions of winning the competition, and Napoli are certainly no pushovers. Red Star could be the whipping boys of that group. Again, Liverpool should think they’re far better than Napoli and should really be challenging PSG for top spot. I think it’s ridiculous that last season’s finalists and five-time winners were placed in pot three, but there you go.
Man City shouldn’t have any problems against the sides in their group. Traveling to Shakhtar Donetsk could be a tricky one, but they should still be fine. They were beaten by Shakhtar in last season’s group, but it was a City side with a lot of changes as it was the last group stage game and they had already won the group.
Man Utd’s also looks a bit tricky, but again, they shouldn’t have any problems getting out of it. I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be aiming to challenge Juventus for top spot. Some of their fans may be negative about it, and think their team isn’t good enough, but it’s just Jose Mourinho trying to get that into their heads. Even if they do end up being second best to Juventus, there’s absolutely no reason they shouldn’t finish second. Valencia and Young Boys shouldn’t be a big problem for them. A side interest in that group is Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to play his former club, of course.
Europa League Draw
The Europa League draw takes place today. They say it starts at 12pm, but we all know that won’t happen. Yesterday’s Champions League draw was supposed to start at 5pm, but it was after 6pm by the time it finished. Arsenal and Chelsea are the English sides involved, and we could see some interesting ties made. Celtic and Rangers are two sides that could be put into one of the Premier League sides’ group. Details of that will be on Twitter when it happens anyway.
Anyway, we’ll leave it there for this morning. I’ll be here tomorrow looking at all the weekend’s games. Have a good Friday!