Monday, September 04, 2006

Holy Kaka
The friendly between Brazil and Argentina in London was one of the best games I've seen in nearly two years. Brazil were a joy to watch and overshadowed the lethargic displays that they put in the world cup. One has to wonder if Ronaldo can ever break into this young and hungry Brazilian squad. Although Dunga should be pleased with his side's display he must realize that there is still a lot more to do. Brazil always play very well against South American teams, but face their biggest challenges when playing against more physical and tactical savvy European teams; France the most notable. One thing that must please Dunga was how solid the team looked. Argentina had most of the ball possession but were left to 2 clear chances to score. I also feel that Argentina should change their style of play. Relying on Riquelme alone doesn't work if he is tightly marked or having an off night. They need to use the flanks more and play either Tevez or Messi with a strong target man a la Hernan Crespo.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Champions league draw
The world's best football is not usually played at the world cup, but at the Champions league and I cannot wait for the group stages to start. Here are the groups and my predictions for the teams that will qualify to the knockout stages.

Group A
Werder Bremen
Levski Sofia

I expect Barcelona and Chelsea to qualify from this group, but Bremen will not be easy especially if Klose keeps on sc
oring as he's been doing lately. German teams are especially difficult to defeat at home and can cause the occassional upset away.

Group B
Inter Milan
Bayern Munich
Sporting Lisbon
Spartak Moscow

Milan and Munich should easily qualify from this group. Lisbon and Moscow can be tricky at home but they will find it hard to get points away.

Group C
PSV Eindhoven

Liverpool and Eindhoven should qualify from this group although the other 2 teams can cause a surprise or two. Travelling to Turkey is no fun at all and French teams have improved a lot lately.

Group D
Shakhtar Donetsk

I'm going for Valencia and Olympiakos although Roma seem to be the obvious favorite. I've never liked Roma as a team and though they are underachievers, so I going for a surprise in this group.

Group E
Real Madrid
Steaua Bucharest
Dynamo Kiev

Again should be a straight forward group for Lyon and Madrid, although travelling to Eastern Europe is always tricky but they should manage to qualify with no problems.

Group F
Manchester United
FC Copenhagen

I'm going for Manchester United and Benfica. Celtic like most Scottich teams will be very difficult to defeat at home but will suffer away.

Group G
CSKA Moscow

Arsenal and Porto should easily qualify from this group.

Group H
AC Milan
AEK Athens

AC Milan must be very pleased with this group, so the real question is who will qualify with them? I'm hoping that it will be Anderlecht so that I can see more of the Egyptian captian; Ahmed Hassan

The beautiful game as it should be played

Fair and square as shown here

First week of the Premier League
Alex Furgeson must be the happiest person in England now and he has every reason to be. Manchester United started the season with a bang. In contrast the other big teams have been poor so far, Chelsea in particular. It is very early in the season to predict anything but ManUtd must be delighted with things so far. The "Special One" on the other hand is not very happy. Two defeats in 3 games is not exactly part of his plan.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

England vs Greece

A 4-0 win for England is very flattering and is largely due to a terrible Greek side. England will still be happy with the result no matter what, after all the Greeks are the current European champions. One thing that should not go unnoticed for the new England boss is that his new system will not really work against better sides. I thought that dropping Beckham was bold but I expected Aaron Lennon to play instead of him. McLaren should have been doubly bold and dropped both Beckham and Lampard. It's not that Lampard is a bad player, its just that Gerrard is a much better play in that position. Having Gerrard in the middle gives England many options. They can use a 4-4-2 formation and depend on Gerrard to feed the forwards while Aaron Lennon and Joe Cole will work the flanks. England can also employ a 4-5-1 with Rooney dropping deeper to beef up the middle of the field, typically employed when playing against a stronger team. Gerrard is the key for England and they need to build the team around him, playing him on the flank is wasteful.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Real Madrid vs DC United
Last night I went to the Seahawks stadium in downtown Seattle to watch Real Madrid take on the mighty DC United. The stadium was packed and set a new record a football game in that part of America; 67,000. Not bad for a meaningless friendly. The game off course was a bore but it was fun to see some of Madrid's top players. Even more boring and depressing that the game was the crowd. Totally passionless and clueless.

Capello was obvioulsy using this occassion to try some different formations and he started out playing 4-3-1-2, with Raul behind Cassano and Van Nistelroy. Although Raul managed to create Madrid's only goal of the night I don't think that Capello will stick to this formation. Raul is not as fast as he used to be and was never a creative player. Robinho or Guti could play behind the strikers. Another problem with that particular formation is that it might not work with Ronaldo and Van Nistelroy playing together. Both are predators that love to lurk in and around the box. They are not the same type of player like Cassano or Robinho who can drop deeper in the middle of the park.

Main attractions of the night

  • I finally figured out why Baptista is nicknamed "The Beast".
  • Emerson is a lot slower than shown on TV, but he is also way bigger in real life. He is a man moutain.
  • Roberto Carlos is really short and really really fast.
  • Cannavaro is simply unbelievable.
  • Van Nistelroy getting constantly jeered by the large English crowd present. He was clueless as to why.
  • Freddi Adu is not a good player.

Things heard from the stand

  • "Which team is Madrid?"
  • "No way, Madrid wear white!!!"
  • "Is that Ronaldo?", it was Cicinho.
  • "Zidane you suck!", Raul had the ball.
  • "Tonight we welcome two world class teams to Seattle.", yeah right DC United are world class.
  • "Can you use your phone to log on [to the net] and find out if 11 is Ronaldo", again it was Cicinho.
  • A: "Was that a goal?" B:"No, man it was an indirect free kick". It was a cross that went over the bar.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Zamalek's fall from grace

Check out this video to witness what happened to one of Egypt's and Africa's top clubs. Such a shame.

English Premiership 2006-2007

The English league is about to kick off and the will be contested by the usual top 4; Chelsea, Manchester United, Aresenal and Liverpool. Here's my breakdown of how these teams will do.

Chelsea should be able to retain the championship. They have been quite busy during the summer transfer season having captured the likes of Ballack and Schevchenko. Mourinho is clearly aiming for the Champions league and hopes that players of such caliber can elevate the team and capture the most elusive piece of silverware in the Chelsea cabinet. One thing is certain though about Chelsea is that they are an ageing side and I do not see them dominating the English league for too long.

Manchester United is quietly building a new team centered around two of the youngest and best talents around; Rooney and Ronaldo. Alex Ferguson have his hands full though trying to keep one from being constantly sent off and the other from diving. They will definitely miss Van Nistelroy, after he guaranteed 20+ goals a season.

Arsenal will again rely on Henry to deliver the goods but one has to wonder what will happen to them when he starts to slow down. Arsene needs to start drafting plan B, because the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor are clearly inadequate. Maybe he does a plan B in Theo Walcott, after all he was Sven's plan B!

Liverpool's major acquisition of the summer was Craig Bellamy who I think will be a flop. He'll do well in the English league but Liverpool lack a frontline that can take on a top European team.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dunga appointed Brazil coach.

The great Carlos Dunga has replaced Carlos Alberto Parreira as the coach of the Brazilian national team. Dunga has no prior coaching experience and his appointment follows the same pattern adopted by other football power houses such as Germany and Holland. One thing is certain about Dunga, he will bring discipline and emphasize much needed team spirit in the Brazilian team. Brazil looked totally out of sorts in the world cup and lacked any team or fighting spirit. He'll also have to deal with an ageing side and replaced some retired vetarans such as Cafu and Roberto Carlos, not to mention to decide if Ronaldo is fit to represent the Seleção. One thing to keep in mind is that the previous world cup showed that being a great ex-player doesn't necessary mean you'll be a successful coach. Technical savvines is extremly important which is why 3 out of the 4 teams that reached the world cup semi finals were coached by tactitians particulary Scolari and Lippi. Dunga needs to learn fast.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Real Madrid to play in Seattle

The Spanish powerhouse is playing against DC United in Seattle on August 8th and you bet I will be there. It was funny listening to the radio host this morning announce the news and say "Real Madrid whose roster includes David Beckham; considered the Michael Jordan of soccer will play in Seattle." Don't you love it when people who know nothing about football try and sound as if they do.