Wed. December 8, 2021
UEFA Champions League - Group F
Schalke (1-0-4, 3 points, 4th) vs. Dover (2-2-1, 8 points, 2nd)
VELTINS-Arena, Gelsenkirchen, Germany
Betting Odds: Schalke: 4-5 (Favourites) Draw: 2-1 Dover: 3-1
Past Meetings: 1W 0D 0L
Schalke are done in the Champions League for this year after this game, regardless of the result. Even with a win, they won't move on so my hope is that they start some youngsters and save their key players for league play. Schalke haven't lost a league game since we played them in late September and they've moved all the way up to 4th place in the Bundesliga. That said, they've lost *every* Champions League game since that date. Their top scorer is a young Mexican international Salvador Bravo, who has 7 goals in 15 matches. I really like the look of young MC Benedikt Raab - 19 years old and a 4.5 star talent - I'll be keeping my eyes on him for the future
We beat Schalke at home 2-0 in September using a control mentality but I'll revert to a counter attack on the road versus the favoured Germans. Shanon Andrea
, our leading scorer by a country mile, is back in the starting lineup alongside Zoltan Bardi
. Claudio Contreras
is back in at centre halfback.
Here's the info you need for this game - if Barcelona beat Moscow, we move on regardless of our result. Ideally, we want to take care of our own business but we can still move on with a loss under the right circumstances.
Dover: 4-4-2 Counter
GK - I. Wilke
D - R. Gaucho, C. Contreras, R. Hamon, S. Loucif
M - A. Bamba, N. Cairney, A. Rocca, G. Bolis
S - S. Andrea, Z. Bardi
Bench - J. Kuciak, P. Tjiuoro, Mancini, S. Spall, S. Nasri, G. Gesios, P. Moses
Well, Schalke look to be starting a full strength lineup despite having no chance of moving on in the competition. They are in a flat 4-4-2 with Bravo and Diego up front. Morale is a bit low so I just go with my assistant's plan and tell the team to go out there and play for the supporters.
It's snowing today. Fun.
3' - Great. Neil Cairney gets hurt trying to make a tackle and needs treatment. He has the dreaded + above his name and I'll keep my fingers crossed that it's nothing serious.
15' - Cairney sends a nice pass up to Andrea and he gets a low, hard shot off that is turned aside by Schalke's fine keeper Miguel Angel Lozano. We're looking better so far today and seem to be controlling the early play.
16' - We work a quick counter and it's Rocca sending a ball past the defence and Shanon Andrea latches onto it. He cuts into the area and sends a perfect lobbing shot into the far corner of the net and we're on the board!!! DOVER GOAL 1-0
19' - We're getting chances everywhere. First, Andrea Rocca is sent in and shoots high then Shanon Andrea feeds Bardi and his low blast is just wide. We're looking great so far.
23' - Rocca sends a crazy good ball up field from midway in our territory and Shanon Andrea steams down the field after it. He's got a step on his man as he moves into the box and fires on goal. Lozano makes the point blank save but Andrea chases down the rebound near the byline. He crosses back into the middle and after a bit of a scrum, it's Arsene Bamba right footing the ball into the back of the net! Wow! Where has this been the last two matches??? DOVER GOAL 2-0
We basically control the rest of the half but get no real scoring chances.
HALFTIME - A great bounce back so far!. We're in complete control, with 54% of possession and a huge 11-3 (6-1 on target) shot advantage! Andrea Rocca took a bit of a knock and while he'll ultimately be fine, there's no reason to keep him in so I sub him out and put in Mancini. I tell the team I'm pleased and tell Mancini to pick up where he left off in his last reserves game. In the other key Champions League matchup, CSKA Moscow actually took a 1-0 lead away at Barcelona but the Spanish side have stormed back with two late first half goals to take a 2-1 lead.
46' - Schalke counter with Salvador Bravo and he gets their first real chance of the game from in tight but Wilke is there to make the save.
49' - Damnit! A third injury in this game and another one with the dreaded "+". This time it's Salim Loucif and he can't continue. Crap. Jozef Kuciak is on in relief.
53' - Bamba makes a terrible pass, something he does a bit too often for my tastes, then takes down the guy who intercepted it. Yellow card for Bamba.
56' - Now Cairney gets a yellow.
60' - A third consecutive yellow, this time to Gianluca Bolis. Man…tone it down guys!
61' - Andrea gets a good shot off from the outer edge of the area and Lozano makes a lovely diving stop.
72' - We're working little one-two's over by the left sideline and eventually move the ball into the middle to Mancini. The young Brazilian makes a splendid pass into the area and Andrea runs into it. He's on his left foot but is skilled enough to make the kick with his stronger right foot, putting the ball into the short side for his second of the game and we're now comfortably ahead!!! DOVER GOAL 3-0
74' - With an insurmountable lead, I make my last substitution and bring in Samir Nasri for the exhausted Arsene Bamba.
Barcelona are now up 3-1 on CSKA Moscow, not that it matters now based on our result!
79' - Andrea continues to amaze and he gets another run into the area but Lozano is there for the stop. Andrea is one goal away from his third hat trick in four games…
80' - Bravo sends the ball up to Schalke substitute striker Sebastian Gerber and he skins Rayane Hamon but shoots right at Wilke and we keep the clean sheet for now.
81' - Schalke begin a counter and they send a direct ball up field to Bravo and he's on a complete breakaway. He rounds the keeper and has the net at his mercy but somehow, someway, Wilke recovers, dives full out and gets his fingertips to the shot to turn it aside. BRILLIANT SAVE!!!
Sensational result and we're THROUGH TO THE KNOCKOUT STAGES!!!
Schalke 0 - 3 Dover
Goals - Shanon Andrea 2 (9.4), Arsene Bamba (8.1)
Assists - Andrea Rocca (7.1), Shanon Andrea, Mancini (6.9)
Man of the Match - Shanon Andrea
Other Dover Notables - Ingo Wilke (7.5), Rayane Hamon (7.6), Claudio Contreras (7.9), Renato Gaucho (7.6), Gianluca Bolis (7.0), Neil Cairney (7.0), Zoltan Bardi (7.4)
Attendance - 43,362
Just a fantastic performance again when it counts, as it seems like we're saving our best football for continental play. We hold 56% of possession and outshoot them 23-11 (10-5 on target). Masterful!!! Viva Shanon Andrea! Long may he score!
-- We're given another £696K for the win.
-- Neil Cairney
thankfully only suffered a bruised rib. He'll miss a week and definitely won't be around for our weekend game against Chelsea anyway, as he's suspended for a red card he got against Middlesbrough so in the end, it won't hurt us at all! The news is just as good for Salim Loucif
, as he came down with a dead leg - he'll likely miss the Chelsea game as well but should be fine by next week.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE - GROUP STAGE (FINAL RESULTS)
1. At. Madrid - 11 points (Q)
2. Chelsea - 11 points (Q)
3. Shakhtar - 5 points
4. Spartak Moscow - 5 points
1. Manchester United - 13 points (Q)
2. Ajax - 10 points +3 GD (Q)
3. Palermo - 10 points +0 GD
4. H. Tel-Aviv - 1 point
1. FC Bayern - 16 points (Q)
2. Porto - 13 points (Q)
3. Zaragoza - 3 points
4. Partizan - 3 points
1. OM - 16 points (Q)
2. Besiktas - 9 points (Q)
3. HSV - 7 points
4. AaB - 1 point
1. Manchester City - 13 points (Q)
2. Benfica - 11 points (Q)
3. Rangers - 8 points
4. Panathinaikos - 1 point
1. Barcelona - 13 points (Q)
2. Dover - 11 points (Q)
3. CSKA Moscow - 7 points
4. Schalke - 3 points
1. Olympique Lyonnais - 12 points (Q)
2. Leverkusen - 12 points (Q)
3. Sampdoria - 9 points
4. FK Austria Wien - 3 points
1. Anderlecht - 14 points (Q)
2. Galatasaray - 12 points (Q)
3. Sevilla - 5 points
4. Litex - 2 points
Premier League Update
-- We have a pivotal early season matchup against Chelsea on Monday so we get a chance to watch some Saturday and Sunday football. Tottenham struggle in a 1-1 draw against Wolves and end up firing Rafa Benitez after the game. I'm evidently the top candidate for the position but I decline comment on the matter. I'm not leaving Dover for any job in the world right now.
-- Derby of all teams upset Middlesbrough 3-1, the same Middlesbrough team that dominated us last week. Football…what a game! City win again and Liverpool go into provisional fourth with a 1-0 win over out-of-form Sunderland. Arsenal destroy Blackburn 7-0 on Sunday to move into third and United beat Reading 3-2 away to maintain pace with City. We're now in fifth with a game in hand on all the teams ahead of us.
Dover U18 Update
-- Young star to be (hopefully) Emmerson Harvey
scores twice in a 2-1 win over Chelsea's U18s.
-- Damnit. Andrea Rocca
strains his back lifting weights in training and will miss the next three to four weeks. We'll be without both of our top midfielders for tomorrow's game, as Neil Cairney is suspended (and injured as well).
-- We have a huge matchup against Chelsea, a team that usually gives us fits, in Premier League action.