Feb 9, 2008

Saturday Summary, Feb. 9, 2008: The (Relative) Calm Before The Storm

Today's games can be viewed as the "opening act" for tomorrow's top-of-the-table crackers in England and Germany. Those games (the Manchester derby, Chelsea-Liverpool and Bayern-Werder) will be discussed at length later, but there was plenty to hold our attention until then:

Today's top game in the German Bundesliga featured third-placed Leverkusen against fourth-placed Hamburg SV. The visitors from Hamburg struck first, on a goal by Rafael van der Vaart (yes he's still there) but the home side knotted things up after 60 minutes. The tie doesn't help either team in their campaign for Champions League spots. The two sides are equal on points, with fifth-placed Schalke (they too play tomorrow, in the Revierderby with Dortmund) and Karlsruhe (it's pronounced Karls-rooh) two points in arrears.

Okay so Michael Bradley didn't have a very good game for the U.S. national team at midweek, but he picked right up where he left off with his club team, Heerenveen. The Dutch Eredivisie side were down a goal at halftime of their clash with table-toppers PSV Eindhoven, but Bradley scored the equalizer on 52 minutes. Thanks to the point Heerenveen move back into second place (for the time being. Third placed Ajax play tomorrow).

Poor Barcelona. No sooner does it look as though they were poised to close the gap with their arch rivals and take first place from Real Madrid that they drop crucial points today. Granted the game at Sevilla was not an easy undertaking and Barca are fortunate to come away with the point as they trailed until Xavi's goal in the 76th minute. But Real can pad their lead to eight points if they beat Valladolid at the Bernabeu tomorrow.

Finally, in the Premiership, the top two sides in action (fourth-placed Everton and fifth-placed Aston Villa) both won, which only increases the pressure on Liverpool, who now sit sixth but with two games in hand. After Should Liverpool lose tomorrow's game at Stamford Bridge they will have nearly two weeks to ponder their predicament, as they have FA Cup duty next week and a visit from Inter Milan for the CL Round of 16 the following Tuesday.

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