CL set for enthralling and emotional knockout round

The Round of 16 draw took place on Thursday in Nyon, Switzerland.
The Round of 16 draw took place on Thursday in Nyon, Switzerland.

The UEFA Champions League draw on Thursday threw up some fixtures that will see the returns of certain players to their old stomping grounds. The round is set to be full of emotion and drama, as a couple of clubs will welcome back their former favourite sons. Lukas Podolski will face former club Bayern Munich as he lines up for Arsenal. More significantly however, Cristiano Ronaldo will face his former club Manchester United for the first time since his move to Real Madrid in 2009, in what is easily the most eagerly anticipated tie of the round.

Strangely, all the fixtures turned out exactly as they did in the practice draw the day before. However, several of them look to be thoroughly exciting for the neutrals. Possibly the two most underrated teams of the tournament this season, Borussia Dortmund will square off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Both sides have looked very impressive so far in the competition and they each have several young, very talented footballers which should make for great viewing. Bayern Munich vs Arsenal is another fixture to look out for. The German giants have been quietly efficient so far this season, but can expect a tough test from the Gunners over the two legs. Both teams have looked vulnerable in defence at times, so the tie could be an attacker’s delight.

AC Milan vs Barcelona shows great promise too. The erstwhile European powerhouse vs the perennial tournament favourite. However, all eyes will be on the Santiago Bernabeu on the 13th of February, as Cristiano Ronaldo lines up against his former club for the first time since moving to Spain. While United fans still sing his name, it remains to be seen what sort of reception he will get upon his return to Old Trafford. With the additional sub-plot of the old rivalry between Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson, the stage is set for an absolutely thrilling pair of encounters.

The draw in full is as follows (with the club’s country in brackets):

Galatasaray (Turkey) vs Schalke 04 (Germany)

Juventus (Italy) vs Celtic (Scotland)

AC Milan (Italy) vs Barcelona (Spain)

Valencia (Spain) vs Paris Saint-Germain (France)

Arsenal (England) vs Bayern Munich (Germany)

FC Porto (Portugal) vs Malaga (Spain)

Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) vs Borussia Dortmund (Germany)

Real Madrid (Spain) vs Manchester United (England)

Ferguson confirms Vidic’s return

Manchester United’s center-back, Nemanja Vidic is said to return to Premier league action on Saturday against Sunderland. Sir Alex Ferguson deemed the former fit player to play after a knee surgery that had put him out of the squad since September. Replacing stopper Jonny Evans, Vidic will have all eyes on the Premiership title as the season narrows in.

Nemanja Vidic
Nemanja Vidic

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FIFA utilizes ‘Goal-line Technology’ at Club World Cup

Amidst several controversial calls made in the past in terms of declaring a goal by referees, FIFA has introduced a latest method to determine when the ball has completely crossed the goal line with the assistance of electronic devices.

“It’s been quite a long time coming and it’s too important an issue to let it go any more,” said Frank Lampard, whose shot against Germany rammed the crossbar at an angle behind the line and back up to the bar as Manuel Neuer recovered the loose ball, with the officials signalling play on. “I think it will add magic. We all want calls to be 100% right and it will clarify what has happened to everyone. It will be pretty exciting,” he added.

Earlier this year, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) deemed it fit to introduce this new technology, being utilized for the first time in the ongoing 2012 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan. The Goal-line Technology (GLT) is being tested in the competition in two particular ways; one being the Hawk-Eye and the other being the GoalRef, produced by a German company Carios Technologies AG, alongside Adidas.

The GoalRef can primarily be understood as the match ball containing a chip within it, giving the referee a signal to his watch within 0.3sec of the ball crossing the line. At the same time, it would be capable of delivering a graphic illustration almost instantly on a big screen at the ground, or on television at home, however, FIFA has not yet given consent for the latter.

On the other hand, the Hawk-Eye, also used in various other sports like Cricket, Tennis and Snooker are visual images within a specific time frame displayed through high-speed video cameras placed at different parts in and around the goal. These high-speed cameras further depict a graphic image of the balls movement to the fourth official, who finally renders it fit to declare a goal.

Chelsea players have been training with the micro-chipped Adidas ball, finding it difficult to caress and have issues with its flight. “It’s different because it has the microchip and more difficult to handle but if its quick it will be fine,” stated Chelsea’s interim manager Rafa Benitez.

The players will need some time to adjust as FIFA sets the Club World Cup as its first experiment for this new technology and determine its accuracy. Hopefully the margin for error in terms of officiating matches is on its way to being null in the near future.

England on top at Nagpur

India faltered yet again as Jimmy Anderson picked up three wickets to leave the hosts tottering at 87/4 at stumps on day 2 of the fourth test match at Nagpur. Earlier in the day, England were bundled out for 330 with debutante Joe Root scoring 73.

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2014 Tour de France to begin from Yorkshire

Tour to begin from Yorkshire

Tour organizers Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O) confirmed on Friday that The Grand Départ of the 101st Tour de France in 2014 will begin from Yorkshire. The Tour will then head to London for a stage finish. This will be the second time that Britain has hosted the opening stage of the Tour since 2007.

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Iniesta joins Messi, Ronaldo in the race for Ballon d’Or

FIFA and France Football have announced the three nominations for the 2012 Ballon d’Or; Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta. Messi has previously won this prestigious award three years in a row, 2009-2011 while Ronaldo, on the other hand claimed it only once in 2008. With spectacular performances for Barcelona and winning the Euro 2012 for Spain, Iniesta  has also been nominated.

Ronaldo, Messi, Iniesta
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Second day at Eden, England in front

England’s captain, Alistair Cook put his team in the driving seat against India by scoring his 23rd Test ton at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata. The tourists replied with an emphatic 216 for the loss of 1 after India put on 316 in the 1st Innings. With three more days to go, England will be setting sights on a famous series victory.

 

Alastair Cook
Alastair Cook

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