Pitchside

  • Can Ronaldo break Champions League record against Bayern?

    If he scores against Bayern Munich on Tuesday, Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo will set a new all-time season goals record in the Champions League.

    Ronaldo, 29, is on 14 Champions League goals so far this campaign, having equalled hauls from Barcelona's Lionel Messi (2011-12) and Milan's Jose 'Mazzola' Altafini (1962-63).

    But if he finds the net in Munich, he will be the stand-alone holder of the record for most goals in a season of Europe's premier club competition, including its former incarnation as the European Cup.

    Ronaldo's blistering European form started on the opening match-day of

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  • European Team of the Week: Berbatov back in business

    English football has missed Dimitar Berbatov ever since he took his uniquely languid style of football to Monaco in January.

    Little has been heard of the man who once sauntered around White Hart Lane, Old Trafford and Craven Cottage, yet Berbatov's exploits at the weekend have seen him win a place in Opta's European Team of the Week.

    Berbatov scored twice and claimed an assist as Monaco trounced Ajaccio 4-1, and his impressive performance sees him slot in alongside Lionel Messi, who is a rather more frequent member of our European XI.

    Steven Gerrard may consider himself lucky to join them

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  • Why kingmaker Vidic could get Giggs the Man Utd job

    Much has already been said about the influence of Ryan Giggs from the sidelines bringing out the best in Manchester United’s attackers, but while Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata ran riot, it was Nemanja Vidic who stood out as the Squawka man of the match against Norwich City.

    The Serbian, who will leave the club in the summer for a new start in Serie A with Inter, chalked up a Performance Score of 110 thanks to his almost faultless display at back, dominating the likes of Ricky van Wolfswinkel and ensuring David de Gea was well protected.

    Over the course of the 90 minutes, Vidic made 19 clearances

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  • Team of the Week: Magic Mata

    After the latest round of Premier League action, we bring you our pick of the best players on display in the English top flight.

    And to give you a flavour of how their performances were viewed across the land, we have also included tweets from journalists and punters alike.

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    GK: Adrian, for West Ham v West Brom (8/10)

    The Spanish keeper has arguably been West Ham's best player this season and he was in fine form again, even if the Hammers did lose at The Hawthorns.

    Key moment (75'): Dorrans floats the free kick in, it's chested down by Brunt to Sessegnon, who controls and volleys

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  • Atletico Madrid showed no sign of faltering at the top the table in Spain.

    AS Roma stayed in touch with Italian leaders Juventus while in the Bundesliga Bayern Munich, long since crowned champions, warmed up for their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid with a 5-2 victory over Werder Bremen.

    In France, Paris St Germain squandered the chance to wrap up the Ligue 1 title when they could only draw with lowly Sochaux.

    SPAIN

    Atletico Madrid stayed rock solid at the top after a 1-0 victory at Valencia - Raul Garcia's header just before halftime being enough to take them to 88 points, a

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  • Pep Guardiola’s big dilemma

    Pep Guardiola needs to find a cutting edge to complement Bayern Munich's endless spells of possession if the holders are to overturn their one-goal deficit against Real Madrid in Tuesday's Champions League semi-final second leg.

    [MATCHPACK: BAYERN MUNICH v REAL MADRID]

    Although they are still on course for a second successive treble, Bayern's tactics are becoming increasingly unpopular among German critics who turned on Guardiola after last week's 1-0 loss.

    "Possession doesn't mean anything when your opponents create the better chances. We are lucky they only scored one," said honorary

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  • 1. United can't let emotion get the better of them

    Ryan Giggs made an impressive start to his managerial career, but United's fans and more importantly their board should not get carried away by one performance against a poor Norwich team. Let us not forget that David Moyes started with victory in the Community Shield and a 4-1 cruise at Swansea City. Giggs just does not have the experience to take on the massive task of rebuilding Manchester United. This is not the time for United to gamble.They need a proven winner with experience to take on the job. Louis van Gaal simply must be chosen

    Read More »from Facts: 7 truths – Giggs, Gerrard, Fulham’s nerve and Mourinho
  • Tito Vilanova: gone but not forgotten

    “Cherish everything that you have in life. You never know when your time will come.”

    Those were the words of Francesc ‘Tito’ Vilanova i Bayó (1968-2014) who’s moment sadly came too soon after continuously fighting with throat cancer since late 2011.

    A graduate of the Barcelona Academy, Tito’s playing career never really kicked off.

    After not being able to break into the Barcelona first team he moved to another Catalan team, EU Figueres where he led the club to its best ever Segunda Division finish of third.

    He then transferred west to Vigo to play for Celta where he made only 26 appearances

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  • Tributes pour in for Tito Vilanova

    Tributes have poured in from the world of football after former Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova died at the age of 45 following a battle with cancer.

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    Club president Josep Bartomeu.

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    "For all that we lived together. I will always remember you my friend. Thanks for the fight. My love and support to your family," said former Barca and France defender Eric Abidal who also had a fight with cancer during his

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  • The Chelsea wild card who could help crush Liverpool’s dreams

    Despite Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho claiming that he intends to field a weakened team in the crucial Premier League fixture against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, there is one member of the Blues' side that will be all too familiar to Brendan Rodgers.

    Egyptian international Mohamed Salah attracted strong interest from the Merseysiders in January, only for Mourinho to outmanoeuvre his rivals in the transfer market and complete the £12 million signing of the youngster from Swiss club Basel.

    The Northern Irishman will be well aware of the threat the 21-year-old can pose to his side after

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