Copenhagen v Manchester City: The mirth of the Post-Fergie Wilderness Years™ is so multifarious it can be hard to keep track of everything, but there’s something rather lovely about Manchester United’s Copenhagen capitulation setting up a Big Cup tie this easy for England’s most recent treble winners. FCK will, of course, try hard, and there may even be banners and chanting. However, now that the foremost footballing genius of our generation has discovered big lads and defenders who can defend, that feels even less likely to work than before, Sheikh Mansour’s inspiring fairytale continuing with yet another match that no one will remember. But he does so love the soccer!
Leipzig v Real Madrid: Are Real Madrid – Real Madrid! – the goodies? Because here we are, the last bastion of Franco-charged, training-ground selling, $uper-£eague-shilling rectitude defending all that’s good about the game against a fizzy-drink selling vehicle with AI-generated players that has no chance whatsoever of beating them.
PSG v Real Sociedad: Or the bland food derby, as a column seeking to incite its readers would declare; luckily, the Daily does not have the stomach for it. On the pitch, the main joy will, of course, be in wondering just how and when Paris collapse, but it won’t be in this tie because that’s not how this works. On the plus side, though, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, PSG’s president who also chairs the European Club Association, is a reassuring presence on whom we can safely rely to protect the game for the good of everyone.
Lazio v Bayern: We’re all friends here, so let’s speak plainly: Harry Kane signing for Bayern and winning nothing would tickle a dead man. Oh, football! How affirmingly you bring out in the worst in one! Anyway, with eight league defeats already this season, Lazio – a club less than renowned for their sense of humour – are not about to bring the world that laugh, so Bayern will move ever closer to destiny: another slapping off City.
PSV v Dortmund: Both will back themselves to win the handclapping which, as any grown adult can confirm, is what’s really being tested in elite sport. Otherwise, Barcelona legend Luuk de Jong spearheads the PSV attack, while Narrative must surely be hoping their back four proves vulnerable to Jadon Sancho’s unique brand of slow-motion invention.
Inter v Atlético: We’ve had to process a lot of wild events these last few years – never has life felt less believable. But for all your demagogues, pandemics and expired monarchs of this world, nothing – nothing – is stranger than the fact that, in 2024, the team running away with Serie A regularly contain Matteo Darmian and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, while Marko Arnautovic and Davy Klaasen adorn their bench. Atlético, on the other hand, are not what they were, but in acquiring both Álvaro Morata (albeit knacked for now) and Memphis Depay, Diego Simeone has cunningly ensured his constant incandescence, and with that prowling the touchline, anything is possible.
Porto v Arsenal: In the pick-up sticks that is Primeira Liga, this season sees Porto bottom of the three-team table, seven points behind Sporting, in second, and Benfica, who lead the way on head-to-head. Arsenal, meanwhile, are as cloyingly pleased with themselves as they are at this stage of every season – apart from the seasons they spend performing collective psychodrama on the internet. But, though his team are in many important ways less dreadful than many of those remaining in this competition, when he was Arsenal captain, Mikel Arteta spent money he collected from player fines on a watch for Ivan Gazidis, so.
Napoli v Barcelona: Rarely have champions of Italy and Spain made such mockeries of their leagues. Napoli are eighth in Serie A, 25 points behind the leaders, while Barcelona are third in La Liga, 10 off the leaders, with a lame-duck manager and what-the-absolute-duck bank manager. No one, least of all the Daily, is amused by this.
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Join Scott Murray from 8pm GMT for hot Big Cup minute-by-minute coverage of FC Copenhagen 1-3 Manchester City, while Daniel Harris will be on deck for RB Leipzig 1-2 Real Madrid.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I’m not really in the mood if I’m being brutally honest of [highlighting] positives and trying to find things to say that would cheer me up, because I don’t know what could be said that would cheer me up. What can I say that will cheer the players up? I could possibly say, well, with the players we’ve got coming back and these guys doing so well, it bodes well for the future with the 14 games we have left” – Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson struggles to find a straw to clutch after Conor Gallagher’s added-time double gave Chelsea a 3-1 comeback win, their 14th successive one against the Eagles. And this doesn’t sound much like a vote of confidence.
If we take the example of Ivory Coast, who sacked their manager during the Afcon group stage and still won the trophy, should England consider sacking Gareth Southgate halfway through the Euros in the hope we may get the same result?” – Patrick Fuller.
Does the sacked Jean-Louis Gasset still get a winner’s bonus?” – Tony Walsh.
The more I hear about Bayer Leverkusen, the more I want them to loosen Bayern’s iron grip on the Bundesliga. The city is named after a chemist who created an artificial blue dye. Its population is less than half of Leicester’s. And it’s twinned with Bracknell, of all places. Can you imagine many more unlikely clubs to topple the über-rich Müncheners? They may play in black and red, but I’ll be shouting: ‘Come on, you Artificial Blues!’” – Mark McFadden.
Not wishing to be picky but generally it is Mark, not ‘Ian’, Bright who sits beside Steve Parish (yesterday’s Football Daily letters). It occurred to me that since there is an Ian Bright (economist) with a fairly high profile, perhaps I was mistaken and in fact Ian Bright had replaced Mark in order to give Parish much needed insights regarding the economics of the Premier League” – Russell D Pulford (and 1,056 others).
Send letters to email@example.com. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Patrick Fuller.
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