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Mangala can still prove critics wrong

Manchester City
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Florenzi fast becoming Roma's new hero

AS Roma
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America, Cruz Azul head up Best XI

Liga MX
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Statistical breakdown of UCL semis

Five Aside
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 By David Mooney

Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala can still prove critics wrong

Eliaquim Mangala is featured in ESPN FC TV pundit Craig Burley's list of worst signings of the season.

Following just his second appearance in a Manchester City shirt -- in September's 4-2 win at Hull City -- Eliaquim Mangala was criticised as an over-priced flop after his £40 million move from FC Porto. In fact, after what will no doubt be his worst game of the season, the Frenchman was entirely written off in some quarters thanks to an own goal and the concession of a penalty in a first half to forget.

Those criticisms came from the same folks who were saying he was the best thing since sliced...

The future stars of the four Champions League semifinalists

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti spoke ahead of his sides La Liga clash with Almeria, including the call up of Martin Odegaard.

This week sees the commencement of the Champions League semifinals, with Barcelona and Bayern Munich, and Juventus and Real Madrid squaring off for the two spots in June's final in Berlin.

The squads of all four sides are largely populated with players of worldwide renown -- the likes of Carlos Tevez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Thomas Muller -- but here we look at four players who could be key figures for their respective clubs in the future.

Barcelona: Munir El Haddadi

2014 was...

Targu Mures on verge of becoming football's unlikeliest champion ever

In just their first season back in Romania's stop-flight, Targu Mures are closing in their first ever title.
In just their first season back in Romania's stop-flight, Targu Mures are closing in their first ever title.

They are a small, newly promoted team who were expected to struggle in a relegation battle with a bunch of ageing has-beens in their squad. They controversially sacked not one but two coaches by December. Their general manager abandoned the club as well. They very nearly sold their only promising young player during the winter break. Their best known player was underperforming and was close to having his contract terminated. Their top scorer is a fervent and vocal fan of their rivals' president....

Home-grown Alessandro Florenzi is fast becoming Roma's new hero

In this weekend's Serie A action, Juventus won a fourth consecutive Scudetto, while Roma overcame a resilient Genoa.

Roma's 2-0 win over Genoa on Sunday wasn't very pretty and it wasn't really a vintage performance. The side won and finally hopped back over Lazio into second place, ensuring that destiny for the Champions League group stage remains in the paws of the Giallorossi, but the play itself was more effective than effervescent. The positives were perhaps Seydou Doumbia finding the net once again, for his second goal in two matches, and an improved defensive performance from Daniele De Rossi.

The real star...

 By Uli Hesse

The 1979 Cup Winners' Cup final: Fortuna Dusseldorf's greatest game

Barcelona captain Asensi lifts the Cup Winners' Cup.

There were barely five minutes gone when Carles Rexach received the ball. He cut inside and all but teased Egon Kohnen by swiftly moving past him when the German made a stab at the ball.

While Rexach was bearing down on the box, Tente Sanchez made a run down the right wing, outpacing his marker Hubert Schmitz. Rexach waited until he had drawn sweeper Gerd Zewe out of position, then he played the ball into his teammate's path.

Sanchez controlled the ball with his first touch and -- hardly breaking...

Fit-again Robert Lewandowski ready to lead Bayern Munich's attack

The ESPN FC crew discuss Bayern Munich Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge's comments on Robert Lewandowski starting against Barcelona in the first leg of Champions League semifinals.

In last week's DfB Pokal semifinal loss to Borussia Dortmund, the spectacular prematch tifo from a section of Bayern Munich fans depicting favourites Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben as caped crusaders (or "Badman & Robben," as it was annotated) was almost as striking as the penalty shootout in which Pep Guardiola's side missed all four of their kicks.

If that colourful tribute left no doubt as to the esteem in which these two major architects of Bayern's latter-day success are held, then it is also...