Pitchside Europe

  • Arsenal prepare to face Bayern Munich on Tuesday night knowing that a defeat over two legs will ensure their wait for a trophy extends to at least nine years.

    The club's last meeting with the German giants came at Highbury in March 2005 as the Gunners lost 3-2 on aggregate in the last 16 of the Champions League.

    Two months later they would win the FA Cup thanks to a penalty shoot-out win over Manchester United - the last trophy they have collected under Arsene Wenger.

    Since that triumph in Cardiff the club have shed star name after star name in an effort to balance the books.

    While the

    Read More »from Here’s what you could have won: the 48 trophies of Arsenal’s exes
  • Arsenal v Bayern Munich: The view from Europe

    It looks a mis-match on paper: the runaway Bundesliga leaders, winners of the European Cup four times, against an Arsenal side that lost 1-0 to Championship Blackburn in the FA Cup at the weekend.

    In his press conference, though, Arsene Wenger was adamant that "you cannot compare the FA Cup to the Champions League", and across two legs - the first of which comes in London on Tuesday night - Arsenal will hold some hope of springing a surprise in the last-16.

    Bayern Munich's record is daunting - they have conceded only one goal away from home in the Bundesliga this season - but anything can

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  • Arsenal v Bayern Munich: The Key Battles

    Javi Martinez of Bayern Munich

    Bayern have hit their best form in recent memory: FC Hollywood have not conceded a goal since December 14, scoring 15 times in those six competitive matches. At one point they went four and a half hours without conceding even a shot on target.

    They are 15 points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund, have lost one Bundesliga match all season, and can afford to leave the likes of Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez on the bench for matches they win quite easily.

    The main man is not Manuel Neuer, or even any of his defenders, as well as they have played in that half of the pitch. No, it is

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  • Power Rankings: United close on Madrid

    Manchester United's Robin van Persie (2nd L) applauds the crowd after the Champions League match against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu (Reuters)

    A good week for Manchester United has seen gap between them and Real Madrid closed further in our European Power Rankings.

    United's impressive 1-1 draw against Cristiano Ronaldo et al in Madrid was the bedrock for a 28-point gain over the past seven days, made all the more significant given Real's overall 26-point loss.

    That means Sir Alex Ferguson's side are just 326 points behind the Spanish giants and, with the possibility of a second treble still very much alive for the Premier League club, United could yet snatch second place in this season's rankings of Europe's elite.

    Elsewhere,

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  • Aliadiere fighting fit and flourishing at last

    Aliadière has hit the form of his life with LorientIn a decade spent in England nobody ever really got to see what Jérémie Aliadière was truly capable of. Now, as he approaches the age of 30, the striker is showing the kind of form with Lorient that Arsène Wenger clearly thought he was capable of when he brought him to Arsenal as a raw teenager.

    It is not stretching things too far to say that Aliadière is a contender for player of the year in France. He has scored 10 goals and given seven assists in 23 appearances to turn Lorient into genuine European hopefuls.

    Only three players - Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Dimitri

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  • European Team of the Week: February 15-17

    Gary Medel inspired Sevilla

    Gary Medel's dominant display in Sevilla's 3-1 win over Deportivo sees him head our European Team of the Week alongside team-mate Jesus Navas.

    Chile international Medel is known as the 'Pitbull', which gives an indication to his combative qualities.

    However, he put in an attacking masterclass from midfield at the weekend, scoring twice and completing a remarkable 97 per cent of his passes.

    Lionel Messi is rather predictably included as his two goals helped Barcelona come back to beat Granada.

    Also worthy of mention is Fiorentina's Stevan Jovetic, who scored twice including a screamer in the

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  • European Match of the Weekend: Roma v Juventus

    Francesco Totti of Roma shows his frustration in defeat to Sampdoria

    Two famous sides with contrasting fortunes do battle in Italy as Roma host Juventus (Saturday 19:45 GMT).

    Roma fans thought a new page had been turned when their club was taken over by the Italian-American consortium led by Thomas DiBenedetto.

    But the last few years have seen coaches and players come and go while i Giallorossi continue to hover just above mediocrity.

    Roma are in mid-table, 10 points behind city rivals Lazio, who find themselves in third place.

    If that sounds familiar to Liverpool fans, it should – this group of investors are very tight with John Henry, while DiBenedetto is a

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  • Are Hamburg the genuine article?

    Hamburg's Dutch midfielder Rafael van der Vaart (AFP)

    Hamburg SV might have felt insulted last week when they were described as ''half a club'' by Borussia Dortmund.

    But Dortmund's chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke wasn't knocking the club from the north, simply alluding to their massive potential.

    ''In Germany there are three and a half big clubs that have nationwide appeal,'' Watzke explained before his team's match against Hamburg. ''Bayern Munich, Dortmund, Schalke and Hamburg are close behind.''

    Avoiding the bottom three rather than challenging the top trio has been Hamburg's priority of late, but after a stunning 4-1 rout at the home of

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  • Mourinho v Fergie: a rivalry in pictures

    Ahead of tonight's monster Champions League clash between Real Madrid and Manchester United, we take a look back at the 14 previous competitive meetings between Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson.

    1- Porto 2-1 Manchester United - Champions League last 16 2nd leg - 25 February 2004
    Roy Keane sees red as Porto claim a precious win thanks to Benni McCarthy's late goal.

    2- Manchester United 1-1 Porto - Champions League last 16 2nd leg - 9 March 2004
    Costinha's late goal sends Porto through, as Jose rampages down the Old Trafford touchline.

    3- Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United - Premier League - 15

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  • The night United conquered Real Madrid

    Andy Mitten and Paddy Crerand tell the amazing story of Manchester United's win over Real Madrid in the 1968 European Cup.

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    Greetings from Madrid. It’s not warm in mid-winter in Europe’s highest major capital, but the atmosphere in the Santiago Bernabeu will be tonight, with 75,000 home fans and 5,000 United faithful.

    Manchester United have met Real Madrid four times in competition, twice under Sir Matt Busby, twice under Sir Alex Ferguson. Madrid eliminated United in three of those four ties, never more than by a single goal on aggregate.

    The one time United progressed was in 1967-68.

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