Chipping In with Darren Foreman: Week of drama in the european competitions

editorial image

We saw a week of almosts in the various european cup competitions this week.

Spurs almost got turned over by Inter Milan despite leading 3-0 going to the San Siro.

Newcastle Uniteds Papiss Cisse celebrates his goal with Steven Taylor during the UEFA Europa League Round of Sixteen match at St James' Park, Newcastle. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Newcastle. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Newcastle Uniteds Papiss Cisse celebrates his goal with Steven Taylor during the UEFA Europa League Round of Sixteen match at St James' Park, Newcastle. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Newcastle. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Arsenal almost came back against the odds in Munich and Chelsea were almost turned over by Steaua Bucharest.

It is a huge shame that there are no English clubs in the last eight of the Champions League.

Obviously the German teams have improved a lot and then you have the surprise packages in Galatasaray and PSG.

You can’t really look past Real Madrid and Barcelona at the moment, but there are some strong teams in the last eight and it wouldn’t be surprising to see two German teams and two Spanish teams in the last four.

Tottenham Hotspur's Mousa Dembele (right) and Inter Milan's Esteban Cambiasso battle for the ball during the UEFA Europa League Round of Sixteen match at the San Siro, Milan, Italy. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Tottenham. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Tottenham Hotspur's Mousa Dembele (right) and Inter Milan's Esteban Cambiasso battle for the ball during the UEFA Europa League Round of Sixteen match at the San Siro, Milan, Italy. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Tottenham. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Arsenal were excellent in Munich.

The damage was already done though and they just couldn’t get over the line in the end.

The Europa League starts to get exciting around this stage, although I think the competition requires a re-launch and change of the structure.

Firstly the competition should be a knock-out cup. None of these group stages like in the Champions League.

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain, right, talks with his crew in his garage during the first practice session for Sunday's Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, March Friday, 2013. (AP Photo/John Donegan)

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain, right, talks with his crew in his garage during the first practice session for Sunday's Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, March Friday, 2013. (AP Photo/John Donegan)

Clubs are putting reserve teams out and aren’t filling their stadiums.

I’d wager they’d fill seats and put stronger teams out if it was a straight knock-out from the start.

Secondly, the clubs knocked-out of the Champions League shouldn’t then drop into the Europa League.

If you’re out, you’re out in my eyes and that’s how it should be.

But despite all that, good for Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur, I hope one of them goes on to win it.

Newcastle have a tough draw against Benfica, while Tottenham face FC Basel.

Chelsea obviously came down from the Champions League and they will be favourites to get past Rubin Kazan.

The relegation battle in the Premier League is really coming down to the crunch now too.

QPR seem to be picking up points, but I still think they’ve given themselves too much to do.

Aston Villa, Wigan and my club Southampton are down there, and Reading look doomed to the drop too now.

But that doesn’t justify the nonsensical sacking of their manager Brian McDermott this week.

For Reading to get promoted last season was a great effort and although they look likely to go down, McDermott earned the right to try and win promotion straight back up in my opinion.

It is yet another example of a foreign owner, who probably doesn’t understand the game and wants to bring in a manager with a more fashionable name.

I hope the Saints will be ok. I fancy that we might be.

We seem to be playing well enough and if we can collect the odd win here and there, we’ll be fine.

The Formula One season gets under way this Sunday with the Australian Grand Prix.

There has been a lot made of the switch from McLaren to Mercedes by Lewis Hamilton, and we also have the numerous rule changes that we see in the sport every season.

I think Sebastien Vettel will be hard to beat again.

The German has proved he is up there with the best, and he has the best car too, so he will be in with a shout of defending his title.

I fancy Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari to launch an assault on Vettel’s crown.

He started poorly last season and still came back to nearly win it, so if he can have a solid start to the campaign, he could nick it.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: Arsenal at Bayern Munich: To go to the Allianz and win is always tough, let alone when you’re under pressure and enduring a bad run of form. Great achievement, shame they’re out though.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Roy Hodgson on Rio Ferdinand’s call-up to the England squad: “A player of Rio’s calibre and of Rio’s age, you don’t necesarrily bring into the squad as backup. You bring them in because you hope they’re going to make the team better.”