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Shakhtar Donetsk need a miracle against Barcelona

Jumat, 06 Juli 2012

Shakhtar Donetsk's Fernandinho has stated that it will be very difficult for the Ukrainian side to end Barcelona's Champions League adventure at the Donbass Arena on Tuesday evening.

Barca won the first match at Camp Nou 5-1 and are sitting in pole position to reach the semi-finals, forcing Fernandinho to admit to that the task facing his side is verging on the impossible.

The Brazilian said: "Eliminating Barcelona is extremely difficult. We need to beat them 4-0 and I don’t even know who were the last team to do that. But we’re going to try to pick up a win at the very least.

"Even if we don’t manage to knock them out, we’re going to at least try and exit the Champions League with a win in front of our home fans. That would give them something to be pleased about. It’s about playing for Shakhtar’s pride."

Fernandinho hopes that the weekend visit to the Santiago Bernabeu to face rivals Real Madrid may force the Blaugrana to lose focus.

"We need a real miracle," he added, "but I’ve not given up hope. They’ve got an important game against Real Madrid next weekend and, who knows, they might rest a few players which would work in our favour."

Lionel Messi created 47 goals for Barcelona

The game against Almeria this weekend confirmed Barcelona’s eight point lead over rival Real Madrid before the El Clasico. What was notable in that game was that Lionel Messi scored his 46th and 47th goals for this season.

47 goals in one season in all competitions is a record that was achieved by the Brazilian Ronaldo back in 1996/1997 – which was equaled by the little Messiah already last season.

This season Messi has a minimum of nine games to become the outright leader in top goal scorers.

Leo Messi has scored 29 goals in La Liga, seven in Copa del Rey, eight in UEFA Champions League and three in the Spanish Super Cup. He also scored four hat-tricks against Sevilla (Spanish Super Cup), Almeria (league), Betis (cup) and Atletico Madrid (league).

Last season, Messi also managed to equal Ronaldo record from the same year of scoring 34 league goals for the club. This season, Argentina’s little man is only five goals short of repeating that feat.

Messi has become the top scorer for Barca in European competitions with 33 goals.

Pep Guardiola has rightly asserted that Messi is the best player he had ever seen after Barca won the 2009 UEFA Super Cup.

Messi is on a contract with Barcelona with a buy-out clause of €250 million and he make around €9.5 million a year. His current contract runs until 2016.

10/11 La Liga Top Scorer’s Battle 

The El Clasico will be a chance for Barca to make it six consecutive wins in a row against the capital club. It will also be a face-to-face for the league’s two scorers to get their noses in front to become the top scorer. Messi’s 29 goals this season is matched by the Portuguese ace Cristiano Ronaldo.

Barcelona and Manchester United reach Champions semis

Barcelona and Manchester United moved a step closer to a rematch of the 2009 Champions League final yesterday, as both clubs earned victories to extend their first-leg advantage and reach the semis.

Lionel Messi scored his club-record 48th goal of the season in the 43rd minute to give Barcelona a 1-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk and secure a comfortable 6-1 aggregate victory that had never looked in doubt.

There was more drama at Old Trafford, where Park Ji-sung secured a 2-1 win for United over 10-man Chelsea, scoring the winner less than a minute after second-half substitute Didier Drogba had equalised for the London club in the 77th.

Javier Hernandez scored the opener in the 43rd, as United advanced 3-1 on aggregate.

"I think we played very, very well against a very, very good team," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "Chelsea played a big part in that game today. I thought we were the better team on the night. In a team game we had some fantastic performances, Park, Chicharito (Hernandez), all over, no one let us down."

Barcelona are now looking at a likely semi-final against arch-rival Real Madrid, which hold a 4-0 edge over Tottenham going into the second leg of their quarter-final today.

United will face the winner of Schalke and defending champion Inter Milan, with the German club having won the first leg 5-2 in Italy.

No rest for the stars

Barcelona, who beat United 2-0 in the final two years ago, only needed to avoid an unlikely collapse in Ukraine following their 5-1 rout in the first leg. But coach Pep Guardiola still opted against giving stars like Messi, Xavi and David Villa a rest despite upcoming games against Madrid in both the league and Copa del Rey final.

While Shakthar came out attacking from the start, Barcelona soaked up the pressure and repeatedly threatened on counter-attacks. Messi provided the breakthrough in the 43rd when he received a pass from Dani Alves before holding off a defender in the box and slotting the ball past Pyatov for his ninth goal in 10 matches in the competition this season.

Michael Schumacher up for challenges in 2011 season

Mercedes GP’s, Michael Schumacher, has announced recently that he is up for the challenge that lies ahead for his team this season and that he is fully motivated despite the disappointing start to the season.

“I am, of course, looking forward to racing in Shanghai as challenges fire me up as much as everybody else in our team”, said Schumacher.

Michael scored his first 2 points at the Malaysian Grand Prix, even though he qualified in a disappointing 11th place and as a result, did not even qualify for the final session of the qualifying round Q3.

Mercedes was looking pretty good until the pre-season testing period. But after a sudden deterioration during the Australian Grand Prix’s free practice sessions, it seems that the team is now nowhere near the pace of the top running teams Red Bull Racing Team and McLaren, even though they vowed to compete for titles this year.

However, Michael believes that he is eagerly anticipating the challenge his team will have to face in order to improve its new car in order to possibly give him his first podium position since his return to the sport back in 2010.

“We know that we have little time to build after the race in Malaysia but we are learning with every lap that we race, so we are heading there with an open mind and full of ambition to do better than in the opening races”, said the 7-time Formula 1 world champion.

His team’s boss, Ross Brawn, also admitted that as the team has been unable to deliver a promising performance for two consecutive races now, Mercedes will have to apply some major updates for the W02.

However, he added that the team is going to evaluate the problem at its full before getting rid of it.

“With the back-to-back races taking place in Malaysia and China on consecutive weekends, there is little time to make significant changes to the car ahead of our visit to Shanghai”, Brawn said.

The team is looking to make a comeback some way and it is believed that they are going to take some risks in improving their car before heading to Shanghai for the upcoming Chinese Grand Prix.

Vettel reminds rivals how far they are behind with dominant win

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel sent out a clear reminder at Sepang track of the pace of his car and how much work his rivals have to do in order to prevent the Formula One world championship from becoming a one-horse race.

The reigning world champion eased to an immaculate win in the Petronas Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix to take a comfortable 24-point lead to the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai this week over Jenson Button.

It was thought that the wider tracks of Sepang would give a better indication of how the battles for the championships would be played out compared to the street circuit of Melbourne two weeks ago.

But Vettel expertly handled the shredding of the Pirelli tyres on the sweltering conditions of Sepang, requiring only three pit-stops in comparison to the four his more experienced team-mate Mark Webber made.

The German’s ability to stay comfortably ahead of rivals McLaren, Ferrari and Renault in a car he could not even employ the effective use of KERS (kinetic energy recovery system or power boost) for portions of the race made his rivals scratch their heads in charting out how to stop the rampaging Red Bulls.

But true to the 23-year-old German’s character, he played down talk of retaining his title with 17 races remaining.

“Some people were already talking about brutal dominance or whatever. I tried not to read anything. That’s just two races. I don’t think I need to explain how many things can change,” said Vettel after his fourth consecutive win dating back to last season.

Vettel also shrugged off growing comparison with the legendary countryman Michael Schumacher, who was also dominant in his heyday with Ferrari a few years back.

“Don’t talk to me about that stuff. Look over there, he is my hero,” said Vettel, pointing to Schumacher.

Closest rivals McLaren are, however, determined to close the gap.

Button finished three seconds behind Vettel on Sunday but the Briton was never in contention to win once the Red Bull driver come out from his final stop with a 10-second lead.

“The Red Bulls’ pace is very good. He’s won two races out of two and nobody else has been consistent. He’s got a 24-point lead and that’s a lot after two races,” said Button, who was still, nevertheless, satisfied to grab his first podium finish.

How would the Lakers match up with San Antonio in the playoffs?

This is the last thing the Lakers should be reading or discussing. They're in the midst of a five-game losing streak. They aren't even sure whether they'll finish as a No. 2 seed or drop down to No. 4. And they've demonstrated such a riddling amount of inconsistency, that it's plausible they wouldn't even advance this far in the postseason to see such an outcome.

So why on Earth am I analyzing how the Lakers and San Antonio Spurs would match up in the playoffs? Give me a break. The Lakers will turn things around. They just have to prove that they will. As Kobe Bryant said, "Everybody wants to put the nail in the coffin, but we've been there before and it doesn't bother us."

That's why it's plausible that the Lakers and Spurs matchup Tuesday at Staples Center won't be the last time they meet this season. The Lakers can take care of their responsibilities, secure the No. 2 seed and meet the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. Or they may end the season on a seven-game losing streak, drop down to No. 4 and face a tougher road by playing the Spurs in the West semifinals. Either way, it would be one great series.

"I love those guys, but at the same time, I want to beat the hell out of them," Bryant said of the Spurs. "But I have a lot of a lot of respect for what they do and how they do it."

After the jump, I size up how each team could win.

Why the Lakers would beat the Spurs in the playoffs: The Lakers and Spurs have shared similar success, with the Lakers winning five NBA championships in the last decade and San Antonio three. The Lakers have often mentioned that the preparation for a playoff series is easier when they're familiar with the opponent. Obviously that history also applies to San Antonio, but here's where the Lakers have the edge: The Lakers have met the Spurs in the postseason this decade five times, and the Lakers have won four of those series.

This season, the Lakers have shown how that familiarity can pay off. There's no doubt that future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan has taken a backseat this season, willing to sacrifice his offensive production so he can facilitate a more up-tempo offense that runs through Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. But the Lakers have taken Duncan out of his comfort zone this season, with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol helping to limit Duncan to 12 points on five-of-26 shooting in three meetings.

The Lakers' stiff defense hasn't applied only to Duncan. In their 1-2 regular season series with the Spurs, the Lakers have held San Antonio to an average of 89.66 points a game. That included poor shooting nights for Ginobili (three of 12) and Richard Jefferson (six of 14) in the Lakers' 97-82 loss Dec. 28, for Ginobili (five of 17) in the Lakers' 89-88 loss Feb. 3 and for Ginobili (three of 10), Parker (six of 14) and Jefferson (zero of three) in the Lakers' 99-83 victory March 6. The Lakers' defensive presence was a large reason they went 17-1 after the All-Star break and it could be a huge if they were to overcome San Antonio's homecourt advantage and sixth-best offense, averaging 103.83 points a game.

Why the Lakers would lose to the Spurs in the playoffs: The Lakers' effort in stifling Duncan has had little correlation to actual victories. For example, Duncan finished with a one-of-seven clip in two games this season, but one came in the Lakers' 97-82 loss Dec. 28 and the other came in the Lakers' 99-83 victory March 6. Their defense in general also did very little to stop San Antonio. That's because the Lakers performed abysmally on the offensive end.

The Lakers' 35.4% clip in their double-digit loss to September mostly pointed to Bryant shooting eight of 27, but only Bynum and Matt Barnes shot above 50%. Bryant also shot only five of 18 in the Lakers' one-point loss in February. Surely, two of the Lakers' games against the Spurs came when L.A.'s chemistry wasn't as sharp as it was after the All-Star break, showing why the Lakers blew out the Spurs so drastically. But the Spurs are quite familiar with the Lakers and could disrupt them enough offensively at least to cost them a game in the series. Considering that the Spurs would have homecourt advantage and own a two-game winning streak at Staples Center indicates they're capable of stealing a road game, that would be a lethal combination.

But here's more. The Spurs' bench has proven vastly superior to the Lakers'. San Antonio boasts George Hill (17.3 points on 56% shooting in his last seven games) and three-point specialists in Matt Bonner and Gary Neal, who have been instrumental to the team's league-leading 39.9% shooting from three-point range. The Lakers can count on only Lamar Odom off the bench, which also features a cold-shooting Shannon Brown, a tentative Steve Blake and a previously aggressive Matt Barnes, who hasn't looked the same since returning last month from surgery on his right knee. That's why it comes as no surprise that Jackson removed his reserves in the Lakers' win in March after they allowed San Antonio to creep back into contention.

Michael Jordan is the legend of Basketball

Michael Jeffrey Jordan (born February 17, 1963) is a former American professional basketball player, active businessman, and majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. His biography on the National Basketball Association (NBA) website states, "By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.". Jordan was one of the most effectively marketed athletes of his generation and was instrumental in popularizing the NBA around the world in the 1980s and 1990s.

After a standout career at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a member of the Tar Heels' National Championship team in 1982, Jordan joined the NBA's Chicago Bulls in 1984. He quickly emerged as a league star, entertaining crowds with his prolific scoring. His leaping ability, illustrated by performing slam dunks from the free throw line in slam dunk contests, earned him the nicknames "Air Jordan" and "His Airness". He also gained a reputation for being one of the best defensive players in basketball. In 1991, he won his first NBA championship with the Bulls, and followed that achievement with titles in 1992 and 1993, securing a "three-peat".

Although Jordan abruptly retired from basketball at the beginning of the 1993–94 NBA season to pursue a career in baseball, he rejoined the Bulls in 1995 and led them to three additional championships (1996, 1997, and 1998) as well as an NBA-record 72 regular-season wins in the 1995–96 NBA season. Jordan retired for a second time in 1999, but returned for two more NBA seasons from 2001 to 2003 as a member of the Washington Wizards.

Jordan's individual accolades and accomplishments include five MVP awards, ten All-NBA First Team designations, nine All-Defensive First Team honors, fourteen NBA All-Star Game appearances, three All-Star Game MVP awards, ten scoring titles, three steals titles, six NBA Finals MVP awards, and the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. He holds the NBA records for highest career regular season scoring average (30.12 points per game) and highest career playoff scoring average (33.45 points per game). In 1999, he was named the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN, and was second to Babe Ruth on the Associated Press's list of athletes of the century. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame on April 6, 2009 and was inducted on September 11, 2009.

Michael Jordan wowed us year after year with breath taking abilities while still managing to attain every accolade possible. MVP, Finals MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, All-NBA, All-Star, Slam-Dunk Champion and Olympic Champion are awards that highlight Jordan's memorable career.

Many people, including MJ himself, wonder how all that greatness would translate to today's game. In the era of the "Black Mamba" and "King James," one has to wonder how Jordan would fare. Well, wonder no more! The following list tells you exactly how a prime Michael Jordan would fare on each team in the NBA today, including their playoff result.

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