Player: Gary Cahill (Chelsea FC)
January signing Cahill has contributed significantly to the Blues' resurgence under Roberto Di Matteo, never more so than Wednesday's 1-0 defeat of FC Barcelona. Charged with nullifying the threat of one of the most feared attacking sides in world football, Cahill rose to the challenge, making countless blocks to frustrate Lionel Messi et al. Not bad for a player on only his second UEFA Champions League start, however "mentally exhausting" it may have been.
Team: Chelsea FC
The west London team are within 90 minutes of a return to the UEFA Champions League showpiece after their second semi-final victory in four days. Emphatic 5-1 winners against Tottenham Hotspur FC in the FA Cup last Sunday, the Blues gave a display at home to Barcelona, winners of 14 of their past 15 matches, which was lauded as "almost perfect" by Di Matteo.
Goal: Davor Vugrinec (NK Slaven Koprivnica)
The 37-year-old spoke of having realised a dream after breaking Igor Cvitanović's Croatian top-flight scoring record on Saturday. His 127th league goal – a free-kick – set his team on course for a 3-1 triumph against NK Lokomotiva Zagreb. Surprisingly, the forward said his third strike in five games since joining Slaven does not rank at the top of his all-time list during a 19-year career in which he has represented clubs in Croatia, Turkey and Italy. That accolade goes to his winner for US Lecce against FC Internazionale Milano at San Siro in November 2000.
By rallying to overcome Real Sporting de Gijón 3-1 last weekend, Real Madrid CF equalled a club record for the most goals in a single Liga season, set in 1989/90. The Merengues can surpass that mark against Barcelona on Saturday, when Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will attempt to outdo each other by adding to the record 41 league goals they have respectively amassed this term.
"I'll do anything as long as we can get our hands on that trophy. The fans have been waiting a long time and I hope we can deliver it. I'll walk down Princes Street naked if we win it."
Hibernian FC striker Garry O'Connor lays bare his ambition ahead of next month's Scottish Cup final against Edinburgh rivals Heart of Midlothian FC
Drumming up enthusiasm
Chelsea's Petr Čech spends much of his time silencing opposition strikers but when he arrives in Poland for UEFA EURO 2012 he will be looking to make as much noise as possible. The Czech Republic goalkeeper has revealed that he has taken up drumming and will be on the lookout for a studio near his squad's base in Wroclaw to indulge his new hobby. "It is a great form of relaxation for me," he told Czech daily Sport. "I like to play for an hour. It energises me."
Hair on a PSG string
With Montpellier Hérault SC in the running for their first Ligue 1 title, club president Louis Nicollin is pulling out all the stops to ensure the season ends on a high. "It's official: if we win the league I'll get the same haircut as Jérémy Menez," the 69-year-old vowed, referring to the Mohawk style sported by the Paris Saint-Germain FC winger, whose side are two points behind the leaders with six matches remaining. "There are two hairdressers in the team, Hilton and [Rémy] Cabella, who are ready." Whatever happens, it is safe to say we can expect a hair-raising finale.
Cup of kindness
Last weekend, Linfield FC striker Peter Thompson continued his incredible record in the Irish Cup, scoring four times as the Belfast club booked a final date with Crusaders FC on 5 May by overwhelming Newry City FC 7-0. Thompson, 27, has never been on a losing Linfield side in the competition and has now registered 39 goals in 34 cup ties. "It's just one of those weird statistics," he said. "The Irish Cup has been good to both me and Linfield in recent seasons." Indeed, Thompson has won five Irish Cups with the Windsor Park outfit and found the net in four of those showpieces, scoring six goals in all, including last year's 2-1 win against Crusaders.
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