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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

English Premier League News: Everton-Liverpool Derby Ends in 2-2 Draw

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THE LATEST ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE NEWS – The Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool ended in a 2-2 draw after a throbbing 90 minutes.

Leighton Baines’ own goal and Suarez’ header gave Liverpool an early lead against their rivals. Everton played past through rival Reds through goals from Leon Osman and Steven Naismith. Both sides were unable to break the draw for the entirety of the second half.

Suarez shot in a second one inside Everton’s net but the linesman declared it invalid, ending the match in a draw that showed Liverpool being the more dangerous side.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

UEFA Champions League News: Galatasaray Draws with CFR Cluj

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THE LATEST UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE NEWS – Turkish top football side Galatasaray failed to secure a crucial home win against Romanian top club CFR Cluj, with the match ending 1-1.

Cluj, which were reduced to 10 men later in the game, scored first through an own goal from Galatasaray centre back Dany Nounkeu. Matias Aguirregaray received two bookings that caused him to sit out of the game and leave his side with one player less.

Galatasaray have not played past through rival Romanians despite Burak Yilmaz’ leveller, as a Felipe Melo penalty failed to penetrate keeper Mario Felgueiras’ net.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

EPL News: Tottenham Spurs Manager Andre Villas-Boas Acclaims Chelsea like A Famous Politician as Best League Side This Season

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 THE LATEST SPORTS NEWS – Speaking like a famous politician on the former club that he managed, Tottenham Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas said that Chelsea is the best Premier League side this season after winning at the Spurs’ White Hart Lane.

Chelsea played past through rival Spurs through an impressive double from Juan Mata and inspiring performances from Gary Cahill and Daniel Sturridge. Villas-Boas particularly praised the “individual brilliance” of Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard.

Villas-Boas compared Chelsea’s current form to that of Manchester City last season. Nevertheless, he underlined the unpredictability of the league as he noted Manchester United’s last-minute rally to the top that ultimately saw them trailing against champions City by goal difference.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

SOCCER Sports Tips] UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2012-13 Barcelona vs Celtic

Match Date: October 24, 2012 (Wednesday)
Match Time: 2:45 am (+08:00 GMT)
Venue: Camp Nou (HOME: Barcelona)


Barcelona will host Scottish champions Celtic in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League match. Barcelona is first in the Group G table with six points from two wins. Celtic comes in at second with one win and one draw forming four points.

Barcelona have played past through rival Scottish side Celtic without losing in their past four Champions League matches.  For the Catalan side, the Scots are relatively familiar foes, although changes in the past few years would definitely make their upcoming fixture quite unpredictable.

Argentine talisman Lionel Messi will be the undisputed front man for Barcelona. His 21st hat trick for Barça against Deportivo La Coruna during their previous La Liga match is no understatement to his massive attacking capabilities that earned him three Ballon d’Or awards and the label “best football player in the world”. While there is no question with the Catalans’ attacking forte, defensive problems might prove to be a counterbalance. Captain Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique and Dani Alves will not figure in the match due to injuries, effectively softening the club’s reputed hard-rock defence. Alex Song, Javier Mascherano and Adriano could come off as back line replacements, although all three players are relatively fragile.

Celtic will start with midfielders Kris Commons, Scott Brown and James Forrest. Georgios Samaras will play the starting striker role. Defence options remain unclear for the Scottish side, as injured defenders Kevin Wilson and Adam Matthews are under observation for potential fitness to play at Camp Nou.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Italian media hails the return of 'Super Mario'

Photo: AP Italy coach Cesare Prandelli congratulates forward Mario Balotelli during a World Cup Group B qualifying soccer match between Italy and Denmark, in Milan, Italy, Tuesday, Oct.16, 2012.

MILAN (AP) — Italian media have hailed the return of "Super Mario" after Mario Balotelli inspired the Azzurri to a 3-1 victory over Denmark IN A World Cup qualifier.

Balotelli set up Riccardo Montolivo's opener as well as scoring Italy's final goal in his first international match since the European Championship final loss to Spain. It was also Balotelli's first match at the San Siro since leaving Inter Milan for Manchester City two years ago.


Balotelli says "it's always special for me to play at San Siro, it's a great stadium. One which gives you more emotion. Is it nicer than English stadiums? Yes, there it's a different atmosphere." Balotelli missed qualifiers against Bulgaria and Malta after undergoing eye surgery, then sat out Friday's win in Armenia because he had a fever.

UEFA charges Serbia, England as police probe brawl

Milos Ninkovic, Danny Rose
Photo: AP Serbian player Milos Ninkovic, left, and England player Danny Rose, right, react during their 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-off, second leg match between Serbia and England, in Krusevac, Serbia, Tuesday, Oct .16, 2012. The British government has written to UEFA President Michel Platini demanding "tough sanctions" against Serbia following the racial abuse of England.

LONDON (AP) — UEFA opened disciplinary proceedings against both Serbia and England and a police probe was ordered from Belgrade on Wednesday after alleged racist chanting and brawls at an ill-tempered under-21 match.

The Serbian hosts were charged by UEFA with misconduct over the racial abuse its fans allegedly hurled at England players from before kickoff in Krusevac on Tuesday night. But both federations face action for "improper conduct" over the scuffles that broke out on the pitch between the teams after the match, which England won 1-0 to secure qualification for the 2013 European Under-21 Championship.


The cases will be heard by UEFA's control and disciplinary board on Nov. 22. In Belgrade, Serbia's prime minister Ivica Dacic ordered a police probe, saying all those who took part in the scuffles must be identified and brought to justice.

The bitterness between the two nations was emphasized by their respective statements Wednesday, with the English Football Association suggesting it might decline to send teams to the Balkan nation in the future and the Serbians emphatically denying racism and denouncing the visiting players.

But the FA was backed by the British government strongly condemning Serbia and writing to UEFA President Michel Platini on Wednesday demanding "tough sanctions." "A number of England players were subject to extreme provocation and racism," sports minister Hugh Robertson wrote to Platini.

British Prime Minister David Cameron was also said by his Downing Street office to be "appalled by the scenes." "We are determined to stamp out racism overseas and at home and we are giving full backing to the FA's complaint," said Cameron's spokesman, Steve Field. "If we are going to stamp out racism from football then it is no good handing out derisory fines as has happened in the past."

In 2007, UEFA fined Serbia €24,000 (then $32,600) after its players and fans hurled racist abuse during another under-21 game against England. In a reference to a much-criticized suggestion by FIFA President Sepp Blatter last year, Field said: "It is no good telling players to shake hands and forget about it."

Blatter said later on Twitter that he is "saddened every time I hear about racist incidents in football." But the Serbian FA denied in a statement that there was any racial abuse "before or during the match" of England players, who had extra security personnel brought by the FA due to fears about their safety.

Serbia laid the blame for the incidents after the final whistle squarely on England defender Danny Rose, claiming he "behaved in inappropriate, unsportsmanlike and vulgar manner towards the supporters for which he was shown a red card."

"Unfortunately, that led to the incident that followed," the Serbian FA statement said. The English FA responded with a statement insisting its players and staff "were subjected to racial abuse, violence as well as missiles" throughout the match.

"FA officials made UEFA officials aware of racist abuse from sections of the crowd aimed at a number of England's black players at halftime on Tuesday evening," FA General Secretary Alex Horne said. "This matter was discussed again during a meeting with UEFA after those disgraceful scenes which followed the final whistle.

"No football team should be asked to play in any environment where racial abuse, violence and threatening behavior are prevalent. We must question the validity of sending a team to Serbia in the future."

Horne also stressed that "we must defend Danny Rose, who was sent off due to the frustration of being a target of racial abuse." Rose complained that trouble had been brewing throughout the evening. He was sent off after kicking a ball into the stands after the final whistle following apparent provocation, gesturing to the crowd that he was racially abused.

"The monkey chanting started long before I got sent off," Rose told British broadcaster Sky Sports. "After 60 minutes my head wasn't really on the game. They have to be banned. I don't understand how else they can learn from it. They have to be banned."

Rose said he complained to assistant coach Steve Wigley about problems when the team went out to warm-up before the game. "They started the monkey chanting straight away. I asked the lads if they could hear it and they said they could hear it," Rose said. "Halfway through the warm-up I went to 'Wigs,' the assistant manager, and told him what was happening. He said I had to try my best to get through it and they would deal with it straight away after the game.

"In the first half I went down to get the ball for a throw-in and the fans started again with the monkey chants, but the first half was nowhere near as bad as the second half. In the second half I had two stones hit me on the head when I went to get the ball for a throw-in. Every time I touched the ball there was monkey chanting again."

But Serbia captain Slobodan Medojevic accused the English players of triggering the incident at the end of the game. "My teammates told me they were provoked by the gestures of the English players toward our fans at the stadium," he said. "I don't think it's only our fault for the incidents, but also of the English players ... even if there were such chants, they could have been made by maximum five or six people."

Soccer Agent | Cristiano Ronaldo Targets Win In His 100th Portugal Appearance

THE LATEST SPORTS NEWS – Cristiano Ronaldo, a master soccer agent in scoring goals, has his eyes set on a win in his 100th cap for Portugal when he and his national side host Northern Ireland this coming Tuesday.

Ronaldo is ready to play against the Northern Irish squad for the World Cup qualifiers, despite a shoulder injury that afflicted him as he played past through rival Barcelona with Real Madrid in last week’s La Liga El Clásico.

Known for being massively successful in club football, Ronaldo has yet to experience ultimate glory in the international level – his closest being Portugal’s EURO 2004 defeat against Greece in the final.

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Cristiano Ronaldo [Photograph]. (2012). Retrieved 16 October 2012, from <>

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Europe wins, US loses and questions to follow

MEDINAH, Illinois (AP) — The Ryder Cup didn't end with the closing ceremony at Medinah.
In a tradition that began about the time Europe started winning with regularity, no Ryder Cup can be put to bed without second-guessing. It figures to last for at least a week, maybe until 2014 when the next one is played in Scotland.
Graeme McDowell Martin Kaymer
Photo: AP Europe's Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer celebrate after the Ryder Cup PGA golf tournament Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill.

Was it wise for U.S. captain Davis Love III to bench every player, particularly Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson, for at least one match to keep them fresh for Sunday? Why did he put Tiger Woods in the 12th slot for singles? Does he regret his captain picks? Did it cost the Americans?
And was it really necessary for Justin Timberlake to read a poem during the opening ceremony? Here's what will be — should be — remembered about one of the greatest Ryder Cup competitions in its 85-year history.

Justin Rose made a 35-foot putt from the back of the 17th green. It's really that simple. "That was one of the best feelings of my life to make that putt," Rose said. Martin Kaymer looked calm as ever when he holed a 6-foot par putt on the 18th that assured Europe of keeping that shiny gold trophy. Francesco Molinari won a half-point on a short par putt that Tiger Woods conceded for Europe to claim an outright win, 14½-13½.
This was not a Ryder Cup to contemplate failures. This was a Ryder Cup to celebrate success. And no match — no birdie putt — was more significant than what Rose did on the 17th green. He was down one hole when his putt with plenty of pace disappeared into the cup to square the match. Rose made a 12-foot birdie on the 18th for a 1-up win over Mickelson, but odds are that Lefty wins that match if Rose doesn't make the putt.
But he did, just like Justin Leonard on the 17th hole at Brookline when the Americans rallied from a four-point deficit. In happier times Sunday, Love had said he thought Jason Dufner in the No. 9 slot was going to be the clincher for the Americans. If not for Rose winning his match, it could very well have come down to Dufner's win over Peter Hanson.
So maybe Love had it right, and he lost out to a great putt. "We had a lot of guys today that played well and just got beat," Love said. "They got beat by some holed putt, chip-ins, some incredible shots, and some matches got flipped at the end on long putts and great saves by the other team. I have to congratulate them on the way they played. They played great."
Ultimately, this Ryder Cup turned out the way everyone expected. It featured the two strongest teams ever, all 24 players among the top 35 in the world ranking. Graeme McDowell was looking over the team rosters a few weeks out and said, "There's a good buzz. I think it's set up to be an awesome Ryder Cup. I really do."
And it was. The best Ryder Cup matches — really, the best golf tournaments — are those that are won and not lost. Kiawah Island, where Bernhard Langer missed a 6-foot par putt on the last hole, left too many people with a sick feeling. McDowell making a 15-foot birdie putt at Wales was great stuff.
European captain Mark James was a hero on Saturday night in Brookline for sticking with the same partnerships in building a 10-6 lead. He was vilified for sitting out three players until Sunday, all of whom lost. Even this year, Jose Maria Olazabal was taking his share of criticism for not playing Ian Poulter in fourballs on Friday, and for sending out Lee Westwood on Saturday morning after he didn't show much game on the opening day.
Mickelson and Bradley won three matches by playing 15, 17 and 12 holes in a dominant display. Why not send them out? For one thing, Mickelson didn't feel like he would have been effective. There's a history of teams going four matches and running out of steam, such as Sergio Garcia and Jesper Parnevik at Brookline. They went 3-0, fought for a halve in the fourth session, and neither made it past 15 holes on Sunday before losing.
Love was grilled Sunday evening about sitting them out until Mickelson stepped in. "Hold on, Davis," he said. "As far as playing Keegan and I, you need to hear something. Keegan and I knew going in that we were not playing in the afternoon, and we said on the first tee, 'We are going to put everything we have into this one match, because we are not playing the afternoon.'
"And when we got to 10, I went to Davis and I said, 'Listen, you're seeing our best. You cannot put us in the afternoon, because we emotionally and mentally are not prepared for it. And I know you're going to get pressure, because we're playing so good.' So you cannot put that on him. If anything, it was me."
They both lost their singles matches, Mickelson to a clutch performance by Rose, Bradley to Rory McIlroy, the best player in the world. The one area golf is as fickle in the Ryder Cup as any other tournament is the inability to predict who's going to play well. Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker were the hottest players in September. Johnson went 3-0 in the Ryder Cup, Snedeker was 1-2. Zach Johnson had not been in the top 10 since July, and the only reason he didn't win every match was because Poulter ran off five straight birdies late Saturday afternoon.
If there was room to second-guess anything, it was the ending. The sole purpose of the Ryder Cup is to go home with the trophy, and Europe did that when Kaymer beat Steve Stricker to give Europe 14 points. As the defending champion, that's all it needed. There was chaos around the 18th green, and Woods had a 1-up lead. Molinari thought about conceding the match until he saw Olazabal.
"They told me, 'It's not the same, winning or halving, so get focused and do your best.' And that's what I did," he said. With singing and swaying all around them, Woods chipped to 3½ feet and missed the putt. He gave Molinari a putt of about the same length, and Europe won outright.
"It's a tough spot to be in, because you've got to finish out the match, even though it's useless because our team didn't get the cup and they did," Woods said. "So 18 was just, 'Hey, get this over with.' Congratulations to the European team. They played fantastic today, and they deserve the cup."
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West Ham beats QPR 2-1 in Premier League

LONDON (AP) — Matt Jarvis and Ricardo Vaz Te scored in the first half Monday as West Ham hung on for a 2-1 win at 10-man Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League to leave their London rivals languishing in last place.
Jarvis gave his team the lead in the third minute, heading in from a tight angle after Kevin Nolan's mishit shot looped over to the far post. Vaz Te then doubled the lead from almost exactly the same spot, volleying in a cross past Julio Cesar.
Photo: AP Queens Park Rangers Clint Hill , right goes for the ball with West Ham United's Carlton Cole, during their English Premier League soccer match at Rangers' Loftus Road stadium in London, Monday, Oct. 1 2012.

Adel Taarabt pulled one back for QPR with a spectacular long-range strike in the 57th, but the hosts' chances of a comeback were stifled when Samba Diakite was sent off for a second booking in in the 75th.
Andy Carroll made his return from a hamstring injury when he came on as a second-half substitute and had time to set up his teammates for a couple of good chances and force a save from Julio Cesar with a hard shot from the edge of the area in injury time.

Despite being a man down, QPR had chances to equalize and forced a couple of good saves from Jussi Jaaskelainen. The loss leaves the hosts with just two points from six rounds and is likely to increase the pressure on manager Mark Hughes, with the club having spent big in the transfer market to establish itself in the top half of the table.
"We were very poor," Hughes said. "In the first half, we were just off the pace for whatever reason. In the second half we made a better (fight) of it." Taarabt provided the highlight of the game, less than two minutes after coming on as a substitute. After receiving the ball, Taarabt cut inside from the left and created space before unleashing a 25-yard strike that dipped beyond reach of Jaaskelainen.
"It was an absolutely brilliant strike," said West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, whose team is in seventh place with 11 points. "In the end we got a well-deserved victory."

Steven Gerrard: Liverpool In Need Of a Miracle for League Title Victory

Liverpool have played past through rival teams and won titles throughout their history. In recent times, they are apparently trending towards a decline – a fact lamented by their faithful following and the likes of midfielder Steven Gerrard.

Gerrard, aged 32 and captain of Liverpool, said that his side would need “a miracle” should they win a league title with him at the club. He pointed his age as an issue and emphasized that the increasing competitiveness of the league has provided difficulties for them to become potential titleholders.

Referring to strong teams like Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, Gerrard cited Manchester City – last season’s league winners, as an up-and-coming side that is making Liverpool’s title chase more difficult. He added Tottenham Hotspurs and Newcastle United as two other teams that are emerging competitively.

According to Gerrard, the current Liverpool squad needs to have good luck and undergo major improvements to finish in the top four this season. Despite their eighth-place finish last season, he claimed that their goal to rise in the rankings remains possible.

Profoundly concerned with his age, Gerrard said that he faces slim chances of belonging in a title-winning Liverpool squad. He quickly dispelled suggestions that he is nearing retirement by saying that he will continue fighting for the team.

A Merseyside resident, Gerrard’s firm sense of loyalty for Liverpool remains widely acclaimed. He first signed as a professional for the club in 1997 and is now playing on his 14th year. He has one year left in his current contract.

Saying that he is still capable of playing for his age, Gerrard is hoping that he could stay at par with the likes of United loyalists Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, who are both nearing their 40s. He wishes to play under a new contract with Liverpool and went on to express his approval for new manager Brendan Rodgers, who he considers as capable of leading the club to a title despite their poor showing at the start of the current season.

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Norwich City vs. Liverpool [Photograph]. (2012). Retrieved 01 October 2012, from < >

Monday, October 1, 2012

Villa's late winner lifts Barca 3-2 over Sevilla

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — David Villa scored in injury time after Cesc Fabregas netted a brace to give Barcelona a dramatic 3-2 comeback win against 10-man Sevilla on Saturday, equaling the Spanish pacesetter's best league start ever with six straight wins.

For 89 minutes, Sevilla looked set to repeat its feat from two weeks ago when it edged out Madrid with a similar defensive effort and counterattacking style. Piotr Trochowski, who netted the winner against Madrid, opened for Sevilla in the 26th minute, and Alvaro Negredo doubled the host's advantage three minutes after halftime after a miscue by Barcelona's defense.

Five minutes later Fabregas scored from long range to start Barcelona's rebound, but Sevilla held firm until midfielder Gary Medel was shown a direct red for head-butting Fabregas in the 72nd. Barcelona pressed its advantage and Fabregas took Lionel Messi's pass inside the area and toed his shot by goalkeeper Andres Palop before the defense had time to close, leveling the score one minute from time.
Messi, frustrated early on in his attempts to score, then teed up Villa's winner three minutes into added time. The late substitute took Messi's pass, used one touch to open space and fired home to claim the win.

"We were never comfortable during the game, but when things got complicated we demonstrated our character," Fabregas said. Barcelona's victory gave it an 11-point lead over Madrid before it hosts Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday. The two powerhouses are set to meet next Sunday at Camp Nou after their games midweek in the Champions League.

Also on Saturday, Malaga rose into second place after its 4-0 rout of 10-man Real Betis. Valencia beat Zaragoza 2-0 for a much-needed second win, and Real Sociedad downed 10-man Athletic Bilbao 2-0. Barcelona's perfect start comes in coach Tito Vilanova's first season after taking over from Pep Guardiola.

After three of its four previous six-for-six starts— the last of which came under Guardiola in 2009 — Barcelona finished the season by winning the league title. Barcelona's initial push included hints of what was due to come with Messi and Fabregas providing constant threats up front. But Michel Gonzalez's team soaked up the pressure and went ahead through Trochowski.

The Poland midfielder collected Medel's rebound off Javier Mascherano's foot and drove a hard strike under Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes. "My players played a great game in front of a great rival," said Michel, who was sent off late for protesting. "My team knew how to take the game to our rivals and lasted almost half an hour a man down."

After halftime, Sevilla was perfectly poised to pounce on Sergio Busquet's erred pass in his own half. Medel intercepted and played it forward for Negredo, who rode defender Alex Song before floating an exquisite chip shot over Valdes.

Moments after Alexis Sanchez's volley was cleared off the goalline by backtracking Sevilla defender Alberto Botia, Fabregas struck for Barcelona when he scooped up a deflected pass at the top of the area and rocketed a strike into the lower left corner of the net.

"Once again, (Fabregas) played at an excellent level," said Vilanova. "He was really driven tonight. The first goal reflects that. He ran a lot and I hope we recovers well for the Champions League." After Sevilla was left with 10 men Vilanova sent on Villa in the 79th.
The closest Messi came to scoring was a free kick that Palop pushed off the crossbar. But Messi, whose playmaking is often overshadowed by his scoring feats, created the two late goals for Fabregas and Villa to shock the packed Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Villa has scored three goals in six appearance since returning from a broken leg that sidelined him for the second half of last season. "It is very good for Villa to score. It had been a long time since he had played as our striker," said Vilanova. "A few months ago it would have been unthinkable that he would be this well by now."

It was Sevilla's first loss of the season and broke a run of not conceding a goal for three consecutive matches. Also on Sunday, it's: Granada vs. Celta Vigo; Valladolid vs. Rayo Vallecano; Osasuna vs. Levante; and Espanyol vs. Atletico Madrid.
Mallorca visits Getafe on Monday.

Rosenborg seek upturn in Leverkusen fortunes

Rosenborg BK will look to improve on their previous meetings with Bayer 04 Leverkusen as the sides come face to face again in UEFA Europa League Group K.

Rosenborg BK will look to put their past meetings with Bayer 04 Leverkusen down to experience as the teams meet again in UEFA Europa League Group K.
Previous meetings
• Jupp Heynckes' Leverkusen beat a Rosenborg side coached by Nils Arne Eggen 4-0 at home and 1-0 away in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League group stage.
• The teams for their first meeting on 16 September 2010, when Patrick Helmes scored a hat-trick at the BayArena, were:

Leverkusen: Adler, Schwaab*, Reinartz*, Hyypiä, Friedrich*, Bender* (Balitsch 67), Helmes, Sam*, Derdiyok (Vida 78), Castro* (Barnetta 78), Jørgensen.
Rosenborg: Örlund*, Lustig, Dorsin*, Annan, Bjärsmyr, Strand (Sare 56), Demidov, Iversen* (Trond Olsen 79), Skjelbred, Markus Henriksen (Jamtfall 72), Prica*.
• The teams for the return fixture in Trondheim on 1 December 2010 were:
Rosenborg: Örlund*, Lustig, Dorsin*, Annan, Bjärsmyr, Moldskred, Demidov, Iversen*, Skjelbred, Markus Henriksen, Prica*.
Leverkusen: Giefer, Reinartz*, Hyypiä, Friedrich*, Bender*, Helmes (Castro* 85), Balitsch, Vida, Sam* (Kaplan 68), Kadlec*, Jørgensen (Derdiyok 76).
* registered to play in 2012/13
• Sami Hyypiä, who is now in the dug-out at Leverkusen, played in both games.
Match background
• The games against Rosenborg represent all of Leverkusen's experience of Norwegian opposition.
• Rosenborg have played ten matches against German sides with the record W1 D3 L6 (W0 D2 L3 in Trondheim – W1 D0 L4 in Germany). They have not won in their last eight outings against Bundesliga opponents.
• Rosenborg and FC Twente are the only clubs who have battled their way to the group stage from the first qualifying round. The Norwegian side are unbeaten in nine European games in 2012/13 – five wins and four draws. They have not lost in five European home encounters – two wins and three draws.
• Rosenborg have been in this group stage on two previous occasions, but failed to reach the round of 32 in both 2008/09 and 2010/11.
• Leverkusen have not won in five European away games, a run comprising a draw and four defeats – including a 7-1 loss at FC Barcelona in last season's UEFA Champions League round of 16.
• Leverkusen are engaged in their fourth group stage campaign in this competition, and have never failed to progress to the round of 32.
Team facts
• Twente's Leroy Fer and Rosenborg's Czech forward Bořek Dočkal were the highest scorers in qualifying with six goals each.
• Rosenborg defenders Tore Reginiussen (FC Schalke 04) and Jon Inge Høiland (1. FC Kaiserslautern) have both played for German clubs, as has striker Rade Prica (FC Hansa Rostock).
• Rosenborg coach Jan Jönsson was a midfielder at Halmstads BK in his native Sweden from 1978-92, before moving to Japan, where he served as a player and assistant coach under Stuart Baxter at Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Vissel Kobe. He took command at Rosenborg in 2011 following fruitful spells with Landskrona BoIS (2001-04) and Stabæk Fotball (2005-10).
• Team manager Hyypiä leads Leverkusen in collaboration with coach Sascha Lewandowski. Former Finland defender Hyypiä won the 2001 UEFA Cup and the 2005 UEFA Champions League during a ten-year spell at Liverpool FC, moving on to Leverkusen in 2009. After retiring in 2011, Hyypiä took up coaching roles with Leverkusen and Finland and stepped in – initially on a caretaker basis – after the Werkself sacked Robin Dutt in April 2012.

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