Pitchside Europe

  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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,

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • How Catania keep punching beyond their weight

    Rolando Maran prefers TV to film. "It's a more comfortable way to stay in touch with what's going on in the world," he says. But if his time as coach of Catania were a movie, "I'd have to say it would be Nuovo Cinema Paradiso."

    Giuseppe Tornatore's heartwarming and sentimental major motion picture told the story of a now famous film director returning to his small Sicilian hometown to attend the funeral of his childhood friend, the local cinema's humble former projectionist with whom his passion for film developed. It of course won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1989.

    Suffice to say Nuovo

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  • Power Rankings: Bayern flex muscles

    Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery (R) and Dante celebrate a goal during their Bundesliga match against Werder Bremen (Reuters)

    Bayern Munich proved themselves at Arsenal to be one of the favourites for this season's Champions League title and in doing so they also cut the gap on third-placed Manchester United in our European Power Rankings.

    Bayern were simply awesome in last week's 3-1 raid in London and, having backed up that result with a 6-1 thumping of Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga, the German side are among the big winners in this week's rankings.

    Jupp Heynckes's side accrued 44 points over the past seven days, closing on United who managed 19 thanks to their Premier League win over QPR.

    While the Bavarian

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