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APOEL and Doumbia join movie star Messi

Published: Friday 21 October 2011, 9.45CET
Our weekly pick salutes APOEL FC and Seydou Doumbia for UEFA Champions League exploits, worships Lionel Messi and learns why it is a very good idea to be polite to Gerard Piqué.
by Paul Saffer

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Published: Friday 21 October 2011, 9.45CET

APOEL and Doumbia join movie star Messi

Our weekly pick salutes APOEL FC and Seydou Doumbia for UEFA Champions League exploits, worships Lionel Messi and learns why it is a very good idea to be polite to Gerard Piqué.

That FC Bayern München, FC Internazionale Milano, SL Benfica, Real Madrid CF, Chelsea FC, Arsenal FC and AC Milan lead their UEFA Champions League groups at the halfway stage is no surprise. That APOEL are in front of three European trophy winners in FC Zenit St Petersburg, FC Porto and FC Shakhtar Donetsk certainly is. No Cypriot side has got through a UEFA Champions League group before, but, after Wednesday's 1-1 draw at Porto, APOEL are at the summit with two home games still to play. "It's a big thing for APOEL and Cyprus," said coach Ivan Jovanovič.

Player: Seydou Doumbia (PFC CSKA Moskva)
Also confounding the odds is Doumbia, the UEFA Champions League's leading scorer with four goals after striking twice in CSKA's 3-0 defeat of Trabzonspor AŞ on Tuesday, their biggest winning margin in the competition. Doumbia, who also notched two in last 18 minutes of the opening 2-2 draw at LOSC Lille Métropole, modestly reflected: "I did what the coach asked me to do and that was the important thing."

Goal: Kevin-Prince Boateng (AC Milan)
Milan look set to progress with FC Barcelona from Group H after beating FC BATE Borisov 2-0, a home victory clinched with 20 minutes left when Boateng latched on to Alberto Aquilani's diagonal ball and fizzed in a shot that surged past the helpless goalkeeper Aleksandr Gutor via the crossbar. There has been criticism of the Ghana midfielder of late but after his performance he told "I love it here, I love the team; I love everything about Milan."

Quote: Václav Pilař (FC Viktoria Plzeň)
"To be this close to him, playing against him and his team-mates, we felt like we were in a movie."
Pilař speaking, after the 2-0 reverse at Barcelona, about Lionel Messi who, he added, is "like a god to me".

Number: 875
The number of UEFA Champions League minutes Fernando Torres had gone without a goal prior to putting Chelsea 2-0 up against KRC Genk. His next "drought" lasted a mere 16.

Hobbies: FC Barcelona
Round about this time in Pick of the Week we like to break off for our lifestyle supplement. Featured in this edition are the players of Barcelona, whose pastimes have been revealed by Catalan radio station ONA FM. Turns out Cesc Fàbregas enjoys playing his games console clad only in underpants and socks (no bare feet for him) while Víctor Valdés opts for (hopefully fully-clothed) fishing and kitesurfing. David Villa and Daniel Alves are dedicated petrolheads, the latter also a keen dancer, but our winner is Gerard Piqué – he likes nothing more than heading to the firing range to blast out several rounds from his trusty AK-47.

Comparison: FC Oţelul Galaţi v Manchester United FC
United came away from Romania with a 2-0 win but the fact they needed two second-half Wayne Rooney penalties to do so is a credit to the competition debutants, as Oţelul Galaţi president Marius Stan explained: "They are celebrating 25 years with Sir Alex Ferguson on the bench and we are celebrating 25 weeks since we have had floodlights at the stadium."

Literary selection: Pepe Mel (Real Betis Balompié)
Despite the workload associated with being Betis coach, Mel has found the time to pen a 586-page novel entitled The Liar, published this week. Described as a book "steeped in mystery and sprinkled with historical conspiracies", Mel said the process of writing it helped him to relax. "Some people say that in the world of football none of us know how to read or write," the 48-year-old explained. "I have young players at Betis who need to know that's not the case and that they must educate themselves."

Fan: Tsakhia Elbegdorj (FC Internazionale Milano)
Inter climbed to the top of Group B with Tuesday's 1-0 win at Lille and the next day were rewarded with a visit to their training camp by Tsakhia Elbegdorj, president of Mongolia, who was greeted by UEFA Champions League absentees Coutinho and Diego Forlán. Inter's own president, Massimo Moratti, said: "Elbegdorj is a very nice person. It was a pleasure and a great honour to have him here. He is a huge Inter fan who never misses a game on TV and knows everything about us. He was so happy to meet Coutinho and Forlán. He is a clever person – after all, he is an Interista."

Football inventors: Scotland
Everyone knows that football – God's (and indeed Messi's) own game – was codified in 1848 at the University of Cambridge after a kickaround on Parker's Piece in the eastern English city. Well, except that in an unusual example of Anglo-Scottish rivalry, a new claim has been made. According to the Daily Record newspaper, documents in the National Library of Scotland record matches between noblemen in the 15th and 16th centuries where players could use only their feet and were praised for "skilful" touches. Also, the diary of England's ambassador to the Scottish court in the early 1580s records that Francis Stewart, Earl of Bothwell, fell out with the Master of Marischal, George Keith, over a "stroke given at football upon Bothwell's leg". Scottish Football Museum curator Richard McBrearty said: "The accounts of small football matches in the grounds of castles suggest the game, in its current form, is much older than officially documented. It appears football was more of an evolution than a 19th-century revolution."

Last updated: 06/12/13 7.16CET