So the draw is
- Arsenal v Barcelona
- Gent v Wolfsburg
- Roma v Real Madrid
- Paris St-Germain v Chelsea
- Juventus v Bayern Munich
- PSV Eindhoven v Atletico Madrid
- Benfica v Zenit St Petersburg
- Dynamo Kiev v Manchester City
Our games will be on February 23 and March 16 played at the same time as Juventus against Bayern.
It reminds me that the last time we played Barcelona I was offered £700 for my ticket as I walked to the stadium. I didn’t accept.
Anyway, the question now is, who will we have in the team by then, apart from those we already have?
The current reckoning is
- Sánchez (21 December)
- Arteta, (2 January)
- Wilshere (January)
- Rosicky (January)
- Welbeck (February)
Plus anyone we buy in the January window who isn’t cup tied.
Barcelona like Arsenal are top of their league. Only that doesn’t quite mean the same thing in Spain as it means in England.
|4||Celta de Vigo||15||8||4||3||26||22||+4||28|
|6||Deportivo La C||15||5||8||2||23||16||+7||23|
And here is the comparison for league games
As you can see, Deportivo are sixth in the Spanish league, and yet are closer to relegation than to the top two in the league. It just shows how utterly unbalanced their league is and how weak the opposition lower down the league is.
Barcelona are not invincible this year – here are their defeats (they have had two to Arsenal’s three).
- Sevilla 2 Barcelona 1
- Celta Vigo 4 Barcelona 1
Their last three games have all ended as draws
- Sat 12th December: Barcelona 2 Deportivo 2
- Wed 9th December: Bayer Leverkusen 1 Barcelona 1
- Sat 5th December: Valencia 1 Barcelona 1
In October this year Lionel Messi and his dad were ordered to stand trial on tax fraud charges, accused of defrauding Spain of more than €4m by using offshore companies in Belize and Uruguay in 2007-09. They deny any wrongdoing, Messi Jnr alleging that he didn’t read the contracts and therefore it was all his dad’s fault.
I don’t know about Spanish law but I know for sure that in England that defence is not accepted in any court, from the County Court up to the Supreme Court. And as I understand it the high court in Barcelona ruled that Messi should not be granted immunity for not knowing what was happening with his finances but no date has been set for the trial.
However lawyers acting for the tax authorities demanded 22-month jail sentences for both defendants.
Messi and his father made a voluntary €5m “corrective payment” – equal to the alleged unpaid tax plus interest – in August 2013. However if the court accept this and do not issue further punishment they are opening the door to further frauds by other people being written off by “payment when caught”.
Meanwhile although it is no concern of ours, here is the Europa draw for those with nothing else to do on a Thursday.
- Valencia v Rapid Vienna
- Fiorentina v Tottenham Hotspur
- Borussia Dortmund v FC Porto
- Fenerbahce v Lokomotiv Moscow
- Anderlecht v Olympiakos
- Midtjylland v Manchester United
- Augsburg v Liverpool
- Sparta Prague v Krasnodar
- Galatasaray v Lazio
- Sion v Braga
- Shakhtar Donetsk v Schalke
- Marseille v Athletic Bilbao
- Sevilla v Molde
- Sporting Lisbon v Bayer Leverkusen
- Villarreal v Napoli
- Saint-Etienne v Basel