Tag Archives: young boys

CL draw: Spurs get San Siro return

When Tottenham was drawn against Young Boys of Bern in Champions League qualifying back in August, it was a dream draw for the North London’s debutantes, the easiest opponent Spurs could have faced at the final hurdle before the group stages of the competition.

And although they nearly bolloxed things up by falling behind 3-0 in the opening 30 minutes of the first leg, Spurs recovered to sweep past the Swiss side and move on to the tournament proper, where their only slip-up in six matches was a 4-3 defeat to Inter at Milan’s San Siro. A 3-1 triumph in the return leg at White Hart Lane put Tottenham on top of Group A to stay, meaning they’d avoid some of Europe’s heaviest hitters in this morning’s draw for the Round of 16.

This time, there was no dream draw, and Tottenham must go back to their house of first-half horrors to face Inter’s crosstown rivals AC Milan in February. The best scenario this time, if it could be considered as such, was probably FC Copenhagen, the first Danish side to reach the last 16. But even as a group winner, Tottenham still faced the prospect of many problematic opponents. And in the Rossoneri, current Serie A leaders, Tottenham have drawn one of the toughest. Sure, Marseille, Lyon and Valencia wouldn’t have been cakewalks, either, but this promises to be a stern, serious test.

Spurs, who will hope to be healthier in 10 weeks time, will be coming home for the second leg, of course. And our man ’Arry isn’t afraid of the big, bad boys from Northern Italy, saying he’s happy to keep measuring his squad against the best.

Of course, as North London squads go, Tottenham’s draw looks far better than neighbourhood rivals Arsenal, who face the daunting task of a battle with Barcelona, the same team that knocked them out of the tournament last year, and beat the Gooners in the 2006 final. Good luck with that one, lads.

Rather than Spurs, it was West London’s Chelsea who got the great Dane draw against Copenhagen, while Manchester United will meet Marseille. Inter got Bayern Munich in a rematch of last year’s final. Will the embattled Rafa Benitez still be in charge by then?

Meanwhile, the scabby Europa League teams also learned their fate today, with Man. Citeh drawn against Greece’s Aris Salonika, the team that knocked title holders Atletico Madrid out of the tournament. Obi Woy’s Liverpool get Sparta Prague, and Tottenham’s old adversary Young Boys, still alive in this competition, get Zenit St. Petersburg, who were UEFA Cup winners in 2008.

Finally, speaking of Swiss men and young boys, FIFA head of corruption president Sepp Blattter has apologized for his recent remarks urging homosexual fans to refrain from gay sex in Qatar. I give old Joseph a piece of my mind in my weekly Toro Magazine column today.

Ian Harrison

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Filed under Champions League, Premier League, Serie A, World Cup

Thumbs up for Young Boys

Don’t worry, I’m not going all NAMBLA on you with this one. But I must say I am not-so-secretly delighted that Tottenham have drawn Swiss side Young Boys in the playoff round of Champions League qualifying. Based on the alternatives, which included dangerous opponents such as Kiev or Sampdoria, or testing trips to Auxerre and Braga, the boys from Bern are, on paper at least, a far more favourable opponents for my lads from North London. Besides, who wouldn’t want to play a game in the new Wankdorf Stadium, which now features a “hot seat” where team newcomers are traditionally greeted with a lap dance (no, I am not making this stuff up).

So, Spurs have arguably the easiest opponent in the final round of qualifying before the group stages and they’ll be coming home for the second leg…no wonder Young Boys sporting director Alain Baumann says his team has been handed the hardest possible draw. Sure, the Bern boys beat Turkey’s Fenerbahce to get here. But still, there’s no way we can screw this up, is there? Gawd, I hope not. Jermain Defoe is so pumped up, he already thinks the Yids will progress further than Arsenal. We’ll find out Aug. 17 and 25th, once the ties are done.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are looking at a 2000 mile trip to play Turkey’s Trabzonspor in Europa League playoffs, with Man Citeh facing Romania’s FC Timisoara and Aston Villa set for a rematch with Austria’s Rapid Vienna, who knocked them out at this stage last season.

Elsewhere in North London, Gooners are celebrating that another young boy, better known Cesc Fabregas, has not been seduced by the attentions of Barcelona and committed himself to the attentions of Arsene.

And if all the talk of man-love is a little much for you, we’ll throw you a bone. A Portuguese pal and Sporting fan is concerned about Tottenham’s pursuit of Lisbon-based striker Yannick Djalo (which our ’Arry has rubbished, for what it’s worth) because it would deprive Sporting supporters of chances to spot his lovely wife Luciana Abreu in the stands. Take a look and you’ll see why nine out of 10 young boys say she’s magnificent.

Ian Harrison

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Filed under Champions League, Premier League