Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Europe tonight

UEFA Champions League, Round of 16, Second Legs

Transfer rumours of 'Fabregas to Barça' will be relit this evening in Catalonia as Arsenal take a slender advantage to the Camp Nou, while Shakhtar Donetsk fly Eastern Europe's flag with a narrow lead over Roma.

Italian clubs are up against it, all trailing from their home legs: A defeat for the giallorossi in Ukraine coupled with Milan sinking in London and Inter in Munich would leave Italy without any representation in the CL or Europa League, an unthinkable prospect for this stage of the competitions.

Germany, who moved into third in UEFA Coefficients at the end of last season, are poised to snatch Serie A's fourth CL qualifying spot for 2012/13 as a result.

Tonight: Shakhtar (3) v (2) Roma, Barcelona (1) v (2) Arsenal
Wed: Tottenham (1) v (0) Milan, Schalke (1) v (1) Valencia
Tue 15th: Man Utd (0) v (0) Marseille, Bayern (1) v (0) Inter,
Wed 16th: Chelsea (2) v (0) Copenhagen, Real (1) v (1) Lyon

William Hill's ranking of probable CL winners 2011, in order:
Barcelona, Real, Chelsea, Man Utd, Bayern, Arsenal, Spurs, Inter, Milan, Shakhtar, Schalke, Roma, Valencia, Marseille, Lyon, Copenhagen.

*FIFA has confirmed the two extra linesmen used in Europa League games will be used at Euro 2012, but remains cool on the use of goal-line technology, of which UEFA boss Michel Platini is a noted opponent.

None of the ten systems on offer were approved at the weekend's annual IFAB meeting in Wales, and the board remains split on the issue. But tests are continuing with a final assessment scheduled for the end of next season, which means the earliest we could realistically see goal-line technology on a big stage remains the 2014 World Cup Finals.

-Sean O'Conor

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