Pitchside Europe

  • Most footballers' pre-match fluids consist of brightly-coloured isotonic drinks washed down with spring water.

    Not so Celta Vigo's Enrique De Lucas, whose choice of beverage was caught on cameras before Celta Vigo's game against Sevilla on Monday.

    The Celta substitute sat on the bench cradling a plastic cup of beer. He later came on in the 75th minute of a heavy 4-1 defeat.

    Strangely, Celta insisted De Lucas was indeed quaffing an energy drink.

    Pitchside Europe is in no position to state definitively otherwise - but the tell-tale foam on the side of the cup looked like no energy drink we

    Read More »from Celta Vigo sub drinks beer on the bench
  • Where next for Wayne Rooney?

    Manchester United are set to sell Wayne Rooney in the summer, this morning's papers report.

    The England striker was "furious" about his omission from the starting line-up against Real Madrid, and is no longer considered indispensable by Sir Alex Ferguson.

    So, where might Rooney end up if he leaves Old Trafford - and how would he look playing for his new club?

    Manchester City - 4/1

    When Rooney held United to ransom a few years back, City were widely seen as the only viable option for the England star. They had the money, and - unlike Lionel Messi's Barcelona or Cristiano Ronaldo's Real Madrid -

    Read More »from Where next for Wayne Rooney?
  • Now there’s 225 reasons why Totti is unique

    There was a pitch invasion after Roma's 3-1 win against Genoa on Sunday night. A girl and a boy made a dash for Francesco Totti. They were fans of his. But of course they were. They were his kids, Chanel and Cristian.

    "It was a beautiful surprise," Totti later said. "I thought they were at home. They'd been ill during the week."

    They came bearing a gift. It was a T-shirt they'd made specially for him. While they're too young to remember them all, they do know that their dad likes a T-shirt.

    From the 'I have purged you again' one he revealed under his jersey after the derby in 1999 to the

    Read More »from Now there’s 225 reasons why Totti is unique
  • Manchester United’s new signing wasn’t the shy and retiring type.

    “Cristiano was 18 and didn’t waste time telling everyone that he was going to be the best player in the world,” recalls his former team-mate Quinton Fortune. “The rest of the players found it more amusing than arrogant. They rated him because they saw what he could do in training, but players like Ryan Giggs told him not to say such things publicly because he would only pile pressure on himself. Ronaldo laughed at that as if to say, ‘I can deal with anything’.”

    Not since Eric Cantona had United seen a player with so much

    Read More »from How Ronaldo became the world’s best: the inside story
  • Power Rankings: Boffins favour United

    Real Madrid may be above Manchester United in our Power Rankings, but Sir Alex Ferguson's side are slim favourites for tonight's showdown, according to the statisticians.

    This week Madrid's second Clasico win over Barcelona in a week propelled them upwards to the tune of 57 points which, coupled with Barca's negative 56, means they are now just 158 points behind the runaway leaders in our standings.

    And with United scoring just six points over the past seven days, Real were able to further widen the gap between them and the third-placed Premier League side.

    Yet, according to the Euro Club

    Read More »from Power Rankings: Boffins favour United
  • Leonardo comments pile pressure on PSG

    Leonardo and BeckhamAfter being deservedly beaten by struggling Reims, bizarre comments by sporting director Leonardo have increased the pressure on Paris Saint-Germain going into their Champions League last-16 second leg against Valencia on Wednesday.

    PSG appeared in good shape as they travelled to Reims on Saturday, with victories against bitter rivals Marseille in both league and cup over the last week meaning they had won 14 and drawn one of their last 16 matches in all competitions. In contrast, Reims had won just one of their last 19 and started the day just a point clear of the relegation zone.

    If that

    Read More »from Leonardo comments pile pressure on PSG
  • European Team of the Week: March 1-3

    Manchester United target Robert Lewandowski was joined in our European Team of the Week by two of Old Trafford's current darlings.

    The Poland international scored twice for Borussia Dortmund against Hannover at the weekend, as well as having nine shots in total, to take his place in our XI.

    However, Wayne Rooney's goal and two assists against Norwich saw him join Lewandowski in attack, while Premier League hat-trick heroes Shinji Kagawa and Luis Suarez also made the selection.

    There was a familiar face for Arsenal fans too, with Mexican striker Carlos Vela, currently on loan at Real Sociedad,

    Read More »from European Team of the Week: March 1-3
  • European Match of the Weekend: Kaka’s crucial Clasico

    Real Madrid playmaker Kaka is hoping he gets another chance to impress in the latest Clasico, as Barcelona visit the Bernabeu on Saturday.

    Despite his global reputation, Kaka has been something of an outsider in Madrid, his career hampered by injuries and the purchases of Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil, whose dynamic styles have rendered the former Milan star somewhat redundant.

    But after some fine recent performances (including a match-winning turn against Deportivo) and with Real boss Jose Mourinho keeping one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Manchester United, Kaka has been

    Read More »from European Match of the Weekend: Kaka’s crucial Clasico
  • Bremen keep faith in Wenger-esque Schaaf

    Few coaches can compare their longevity to that of the Pope, but as at least five Pontiffs will have come and gone during Thomas Schaaf’s time at Bremen, Werder’s boss is one of them.

    ‘‘The show always goes on,’’ Shaaf told Eurosport before last week’s visit to Bayern Munich.

    ‘‘When the Pope steps down, there is always another one to replace him. One day Arsene Wenger won’t be at Arsenal. It’s the same for me.’’

    Today is Pope Benedict XVI’s last day at work, but Schaaf will be on the bench for the 633rd time for Werder when Augsburg visit on Saturday.

    The man who has been at Bremen since

    Read More »from Bremen keep faith in Wenger-esque Schaaf
  • Ronaldo robs Barcelona of their mojo

    You could feel the vacuum, feel it. As 94,000 people went from jeering to silence. Whoosh. Cristiano Ronaldo had just taken a 13th minute penalty at the north end of Camp Nou, just as he’d done while wearing white in 2008.

    Then, he missed for Manchester United, but his side went through to the final. Against Barcelona on Tuesday, he scored – the sixth time in succession in Camp Nou. And his side went through to the final. He was the game’s best player as Madrid outclassed a strangely anaemic Barca to win 3-1 and reach the Copa del Rey final.

    Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone, whose side

    Read More »from Ronaldo robs Barcelona of their mojo