Monday, June 30, 2008

Joey Barton pleads GUILTY

Joey Barton pleads guilty to assault charges.

Newcastle midfielder had been in prison for quite some time now over charges of body assault on a team mate,Ousmane Dabo last May on the training ground.
He was to be presented today for the hearing but changed his earlier "not guilty" stance to "guilty" before the trial was to begin.The verdict would be passed tomorrow.
This would only add to the midfielders woes when Newcastle had offered him to either cancel his contract or take a huge cut in salary.
He had been a controversial figure since his Manchester City days when he left the stadium after being dropped.He had been broken the leg of a pedestrian on a night of rash driving in May 2005.He was then arrested in March 2007 on suspicion of assault on a taxi driver.
Following his training ground "scuffle" he was transfered to Newcastle United but didn't play well enough to earn a place in the starting eleven.When he did,he wasn't the talented player he had been in his Manchester City days when he was indeed problem free.

UPDATE:Watch Joey Barton's CCTV footage as released by the police after he pleaded guilty.[Thanks to 101 Great Goals]

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EURO 2008 Final watch : Germany vs Spain : Review

After a long 22 day tournament we were down to the final.The stage which decides who will life the Trophy and get their name added in history books or part of Wikipedia.
Ballack was doubtful for the final with a calf strain but didn't show any traces of it once the game started.
When the team formations were laid out,I thought this game would have a cramped midfield but I was proven wrong when there was open play for major parts of the 90minutes.In the beginning 10minutes,Germany looked the more favourable to score first when Sergio Ramos' weak ball back to Puyol found Klose who didn't have the clinical finish or touch to create anything,although it was a good defensive challenge by Puyol.
Spain on the other hand weren't the team they were against Russia when Villa was substituted.That team had a flow and smoothness about it but here they were attempting to make chances with a lone striker up front in the form of Torres who was using his strength and pace excellently.
Iniesta drew the first save from Lehmann when his low cross deflected through Metzelder and needed quick reflex save from former Arsenal man.
In a few minutes,Torres leaped and connected with a cross from Ramos only to be denied by the post.
He wasn't going to miss in the 33rd minute when he took cheetah type strides to cut across a covering Lahm and an approaching Lehmann and chipped the ball over the keeper in the left side of the goal to put Spain 1 Germany 0.In my view,Lehmann didn't need to come out that far for the ball anyway.
[Torres goal video]
Germany had a bit of a bother when Ballack collided with Senna and needed treatment near his eye as blood gashed out.
David Silva missed a fantastic opportunity when his volley went wildly over the top after Iniesta's cross which found the Valencia man open in the box.
Even an attacking change at half time by Germany wasn't able to stop Spain's dominance.They had bit of a scare when Ballack's volley went a few inches wide of the Spanish goal with Casillas stretching as much as he could.
Spain were still dominant even with vast majority of the possession falling to Germany as the shots weren't on target,if there were any shots for that matter.
David Silva was lucky to be still on the pitch when he head butted Podolski in the eye when both players came face to face over a speculative bad challenge.
Ramos should have doubled the Spanish lead when his header was saved fabulously by Lehmann from point blank range when he beat the offside trap on a Xavi free kick.
This 2-3minute period created many chances for Spain where a Iniesta effort was cleared off the line and then another saved by Lehmann.
In the 80th minute a golden opportunity was presented to Spain but once again they couldn't kill the game once and for all when a Guiza header down in the path of Senna wasn't connected with as the chance went waste.
Spain weren't made to pay for the wasted chances in front of goal as they didn't have anything to defend in the back of goal as Kuranyi and Gomez were brought on as substitutes but couldn't provide an equaliser.
Spain were the champions of Europe.The underdogs had finally delivered and after a wait of 44years they had clinched the European Championship.The young side showed how they could be put down on the squad for 2010 world cup as well.Spain were the second team after France in 1984 to win the tournament without losing a single game.Casillas was the first keeper captain to lift the trophy.
Spain deserved the victory and they deserved the "Euro Champions" accolade.

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Euro 2008 Final in Pictures

These are a few pictures I found.
Enjoy :D


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Euro 2008 Final Watch : Germany vs Spain : Preview

So there are around 8 hours left for the big finale.
Germany and Spain go head to head for the coveted European Championship 2008 in Vienna,Austria.
Germany have been the biggest achievers in international football with 3 titles and 2 runners up finishes whereas Spain have been the biggest underachievers with only a single Euro cup to boast of in 1964.
Germany haven't been convincing enough in this tournament with no back to back great performances but they got the results eventually,which is what matters in the end.
Spain on the other hand have been remarkable with possession of the ball and attacking play,only team to not have lost a game and conceded only three goals.
Germany might play without influential figure of Michael Ballack and Spain do not have their top scorer David Villa who suffered an injury in the game against Russia and would only watch the game from the bench.
Frings has also returned to the German team after an injury worry.
Spain are believed to be bookies choice and the favourites but then again in football you can't write someone off(read Greece beat Portugal,Euro 2004).
Hope the game is open and interesting.

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Euro 2008 Final watch : Run up to the final


Group B
Poland : 2-0
Croatia: 1-2
Austria: 1-0

Quarter Finals

Semi Finals

Total goals scored : 10

Total goals conceded : 6

Top goalscorer : Lukas Podolski(3)

Fact : Germany have conceded 2 goals apiece in the 16-30th minute and 75th-90th minute,which is either conceding a quick goal or conceding in the closing stages.

Discipline : First player to have been sent off in the championship in the form of Bastian Schweinsteiger.


Group D

Quarter Finals
Italy:0-0(4-2 on penalties)

Semi Finals

Total Goals scored: 11

Total Goals conceded: 3

Fact : They haven't lost a single game in the championship and have a fabulous 82% passes completed.

Top goalscorer: David Villa(4)

Discipline: 6 yellow cards but no red card.

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Euro 2008 Final Watch : Referee

Italian referee Roberto Rosetti will be the man in the middle for the final game of the Euro 2008.

This 40year old hospital director will have the whistle in his mouth and would most certainly have to take tough decisions when the play starts in a few hours from now.
Refereeing since 1983 and for professional football in Serie A since 1996.Received the FIFA badge in 2002.
Most famously,he refereed the semi-final game between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge thus earning the praise of several UK tabloids.
He has previously refereed the World Cup in 2006 where he had given out an average of 3.75 yellow cards a game but never has he given a red card.
In the current Euro 2008 he has been part of controversy only when he allowed two additional minutes in extra time in the game between Turkey and Croatia after Croatia had scored in the 119th minute for Turkey to score in the 122nd minute,thus going to penalties which Croatia lost in.
Hope the play goes on smoothly as he has always done.

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Euro 2008 - Review Compilation

This is the review compilation by ITV which I found thanks to friends at Soccerpulse.

Euro 2008 Review Compilation


UEFA EURO 2008 Final : Stadium

As we build up and look forward to the final which is to start in around 8hours time.Let's have a look at the stadium,the venue of the final.

Name : Ernst Happel Stadion

Where : Vienna,Austria

Date : 29 July, 2008

Time : 19:45(GMT)

Ernst Happel Stadion lies in the Leopoldstadt district of Vienna,Austria.It was constructed between 1929 and 1931 by a design from a German.Named after an Austrian player and coach,Ernst Happel following his death in 1922.
It is the largest football stadium in Austria with a seating capacity of nearly 53,000.Used only for UEFA Champions League finals and UEFA Cup and also for major domestic finals.It is rated as 5 star stadium as per UEFA's listing which puts it amongst the elite stadiums like Nou Camp and Old Trafford.The record for attendance is for a national game against USSR in 1960 with 92,706 fans.
Notable games include,1995 Champions League final and 1990 European Championship(now Champions League)final.

In Euro 2008,it has so far staged 6 games(3 group games,2 quarter finals and 1 semi final).Attendance so far has been 3,05,140 and there have been only 9 goals scored,along with the very boring Spain vs Italy "clash".

Hope there are goals scored in Vienna tomorrow.

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UEFA fines Croatia

UEFA has fined Croatia for racism.

UEFA has fined Croatian Football Federation 10,000 pounds following racist banners and showing racist conduct in their game against Turkey.
The federation had 3 days to appeal but they didn't make any and have been fined following it.Croatia lost that game 1-1 and then 3-1 on penalties.

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Plantini speaks out on Ronaldo

Platini speaks out about Real Madrid's pursuit of Cristiano Ronaldo.

UEFA President,Michel Platini spoke to the press about Real Madrid's pursuit of Manchester United midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo.
Earlier Real Madrid were cleared by FIFA after Manchester United's complaint.
He had this to say,
"Every club in the world would like to have Ronaldo.

"It's part of the system we have today. Players move from club to club and I can understand why Real Madrid want him.

"They had di Stefano and Puskas in the past, and as Ronaldo is considered one of the best or the best player in the world it's normal.

"If the club has the finances they can do it so, if they don't have the money they can't."

This is certainly good news for Real Madrid who haven't left sight of the Portuguese ever since his return from Euro 2008 and there have been comments originating every now and then from Berbaneu.

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Alves to Barcelona

Sevilla defender is set to join Barcelona by next week says Sevilla president.

He is expected to be exiting by 1July if all things go well says Del Nido,Sevilla president as told to Spanish newspaper AS.He has been a great player for the past two seasons leading them to two consecutive UEFA Cup titles and major development for Sevilla in La liga.He had been great on the ball in defense as well as going upfront.
Details of the transfer are still not known but earlier reports indicated the transfer at 29.5million euros.Chelsea had also been looking for Alves previously but there have been no sources for those rumours.
Is this the end of a progressing club?

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Ljungberg says bye bye!

Fredrik Ljungberg has bid goodbye to international football.

He notified a Swedish newspaper about his decision of quitting international football but will continue playing for West Ham,his London based club.
Sweden's trip was cut short after they lost to Russia in the final group game and eventually failed to make through.He has played for the national side for the past 10 years and earned 71 caps in the process where he scored 14 goals.He made his first appearance against USA in 1998.
He has also been linked to a move to Italian side Roma but that rumour is still to be confirmed.


Euro 2008 : Best Goals

These are the best goals as per UEFA's Euro 2008 website.
Pick your favorite!

Philipp Lahm(Germany vs Turkey ; 3-2)

Philipp Lahm scores the winner for Germany and they seal their place in the finals.This great build up goal which split the Turkish defense and the finish was excellent.After this Lahm could play as a midfielder or a forward for that matter!

Roman Pavlyuchenko(Russia vs Netherlands ; 1-0)
Pavlyuchenko opens the scoring for the Russian's with a very vital goal which puts the pressure on a dutch side which was in a dominant mood as per their group stage performance but all that was shattered by Russia as this youngsters first time volley goes in the back of the net beating Edwin Van der Sar.

Bastian Schweinsteiger(Germany vs Portugal ; 1-0)

Schweinsteiger received a red card in the previous game against Croatia which they lost and he had a debt to pay as per their manager,Joachim Low.He repaid in a glorious fashion with a run in the box to slide in to Podolski's great one touch play cross and score the first against Portugal.

Michael Ballack(Germany vs Austria ; 1-0)
Germany needed a single point to secure qualification in this last encounter of Group B,although Germany were out with a point to prove after their loss to Croatia.This thunderbolt was the only goal of the game and got the 3 points that Germany deserved.Unstoppable this!

Nihat Kahveci(Turkey vs Czech Republic ; 3-2)
Last game of the group stages,2-0 down and then you somehow recover and reach 2-2 but the game is not over yet,the comeback isn't complete.Step up,Nihat Kahveci.Turkey needed to win this game to progress to the quarter finals and they did so in an astonishing fashion.With a nicely slid pass to the forward who curls the ball on the right hand corner of the goal which wasn't stoppable even by Cech's standards.

Wesley Sneijder(Netherlands vs France ; 4-1)
Netherlands had a great game against Italy where they were fabulous and deserved their 3-0 victory.This was against France.Sneijder picks up the ball around the box and cooly on the top right hand side which needed help from the crossbar but a great goal,none the less.

Robin Van Persie(Netherlands vs France ; 2-0)
Another great counter attack move which was helped by Ruud Van Nistelrooy's great skill to prevent the ball from going out which sent Robben down the left whose cross found an open Van Persie in the box,finish wasn't as great but the shot was far too hard for Coupet to hold on to.

Zlatan Ibrahimovich(Sweden vs Greece ; 1-0)
The first game of the group and you were expecting more from Sweden(am not so sure about your expectations from Greece) but there was no score until the 67th minute when Ibrahimovich cracked this "whip" from outside the box.Unstoppable!

David Villa(Spain vs Russia ; 3-0)
Spain were cruising 2-0 in their first game of the tournament.They had outclassed the Gus Hiddink side and Villa had got two goals so far.After a quick break from their penalty box,Barcelona's Iniesta released Villa who slid the ball low in the back of the net.

Wesley Sneijder(Netherlands vs Italy ; 2-0)
After a quick counter attack movement,initiated by Van Bronkhorst who cleared the ball from his goal line and then ran across from a Van der Vaart ball and sent a long cross to Dirk Kuyt who played a cushion header for Wesley Sneijder who completed a great move by tucking the ball in behind Buffon in a narrow gap.

In my view,some goals are missing from this list.Like David Villa's goal against Sweden which wasn't an easy finish or Robben's little strike in a little space against France.Any other that come to your mind?Have your say!

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Thuram to join PSG

Lilian Thuram is set to return to France and join PSG.

Lilian Thuram was released from Barcelona after a single season when he joined from Juventus after they were "relegated" to Serie B.He has retired from international football post France's debacle at Euro 2008.He is expected to be offered a single year contract with further extension at a later stage depending upon his performance.

UPDATE:While everyone waited for the announcement by Thuram and the French club,its been indicated that he has a heart defect which could end his career.His brother suffered from the same problem and died on a basketball court.He's set to undergo further tests which would decide his fate if he would be a professional footballer or a retired professional footballer.

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Marcello Lippi appointed Italy manager

Italy has officially sacked Roberto Donadoni and put in charge,Marcello Lippi again.

Donadoni was "sacked" on Thursday but the calmer version being specified is that no new contract extension has been offered.Italy lost to Spain in the Euro 2008 quarter finals after they only made it past the group stage with extra effort.Italy had a very negative approach with defensive mindset.

Lippi had earlier guided Italy to World Cup success in 2006 in Germany and had been out of work since but this appointment doesn't come as a surprise as he was the main man for the job and has all the right credentials to manage a top national team as the Azzuri.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Aragones new Fenerbahce coach?NO?

Spain's national team coach,Luis Aragones has been named as the new Fenerbahce manager.

The confusing part is that the Turkish clubs' official website claims the appointment but the man himself denied having signed any new deal.However,he looks set to join the club after Zico left his post as a new contract couldn't be agreed to.The contract is expected to be of two years.

Spain are currently preparing for their semi final clash with Russia.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pompey to raid Reading

Portsmouth manager,Harry Redknapp is looking forward to signing England international,Nicky Shorey.

Nicky Shorey,27,is also wanted by West Ham.Harry Redknapp however has claimed interest in signing the lively defender who can play as a winger too and offer attacking options to Portsmouth and also improve on the squad especially after their FA Cup victory and as they are set to play in the Inter Toto Cup they will play more games than earlier.
He is most certainly set to exit Reading after they were relegated from English Premiership after a dismal season.
Portsmouth have already acquired one Reading player in the form of Glen Little.

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Sneijder - I won't join United

Dutchman,Wesley Sneijder has denied the move to Manchester United.

He was speaking to his official website and denied any plans of moving to Old Trafford.
Reports have been doing the rounds about Sneijder being offered to Manchester United for a cash + swap deal for Cristiano Ronaldo.
Robinho has been linked too for the swap deal and looked more eager of the two players to play in England.

As I’ve said already, when I left Ajax, all I wanted was to go to Real Madrid. They are the best club in the world. And now that I'm here, all I want is to win as many trophies as I can with them and wear the white shirt for as long as possible.

I wonder if the swap deal players have any say in the matter either?

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Lazio to bid for Samaras

Georgios Samaras is on the radar for Italian club Lazio.

Greek international,Samaras has been on loan to Celtic from Manchester City and netted 5 goals in the second half of the season.Celtic manager,Gordon Strachan is thinking of making the deal permanent but they are not alone as Lazio seems to be looking for this skillful but not consistent striker.

Lazio president had this to say,
"Samaras is a player we're considering and we'll see what happens. I can confirm we're actively trying to sign a striker and hope to secure a deal for one any day soon."

Newly promoted Lecce are also looking at the striker to have hopes of staying alive in the Serie-A next season.

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Liverpool to get a new home

Liverpool are set to get a new home at Stanley Park.

Liverpool move out from Anfield which had been their home since 1892.The new stadium would hold 71,000 people and would have a 18,500 seater stand for Kop.It is expected to be ready in time for 2011-12 season.
This is good news for the Liverpool supporters who had opposed sharing a stadium with Mersey side rivals Everton.

Further pictures can be found on their website here.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Austria coach resigns

Austria's coach at Euro 2008,Josef Hickersberger has resigned from his post following their early exit.

Austria were the host nation along with Switzerland and didn't make it beyond the group stages.They finished third in the table and failed to win a single game.He has notified the Football Association's president on the issue.
He had this to say,
"I am empty and tired, I need a time off to recharge the batteries. Chapter closed, mission accomplished,"


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Van der Sar says Doei!

Following Netherlands' 3-1[AET] loss to Russia goalkeeper Edwin van Der Sar has bid goodbye to international football.

He earned a record 128th cap for the men in Orange.After the game he didn't make excuses on the loss and like a true sportsman acknowledged that the other team was better and they didn't make much of the chances that were presented to them.He has been part of quarter finals and semi finals but has never won a final or reached a final for that matter.He looks set to continue his club career with Manchester United where he played a huge role in their Champions League victory on penalties to Chelsea.He also claimed Netherlands could have won had the game gone into penalties but that wasn't the case.

At the age of 37 and still playing,that's a great achievement for any player but to be as quick and fragile as Van der Sar is,it's just commendable.


Nihat to miss Euro 2008

Villareal player and Turkey's star striker,Nihat Kahveci is set to return home following a thigh injury in the Croatia game.

He scored two goals in the tournament against Czech Republic in a game which they needed to win to progress to the next stage.
The news is a major blow to the Turks who already have a depleted squad which is aggravating from injuries and suspensions.They had 15 players to choose from in the Croatia game but that count has worsened now with 3 more suspensions.
Goalkeeper,Demirel would find out tomorrow on his two match ban red card appeal.
UEFA may be asked to call up more players following Turkey's woes but as of now there has been no appeal,UEFA have confirmed.
One positive news is that Mehmet Aurelio has returned from suspension and is available for the clash against Germany.


Paul Ince is new Blackburn manager

Englishman,Paul Ince has been confirmed as the new manager to take over at Blackburn Rovers.

Blackburn had Steve McClaren,Sam Allardyce and later Michael Laudrup as the contenders for the job.Steve McClaren later joined dutch club FC Twente and Sam Allardyce opted out of running.

Paul Ince takes over from Mark Hughes who joined Manchester City.The deal has been signed for three years.He leaves league two winners MK Dons to join at Ewood Park.He still does not have the necessary UEFA Pro license but hope to get it in the tenure itself.He would be the first black English manager in the Premier League.


Andrei Arshavin to move

Upcoming Russian star,Andrei Arshavin who helped his club side Zenith St. Petersburg to a league title and UEFA Cup glory is thinking of moving to greener horizons.

He has been amazing in the games that he has played for Russia at the Euro 2008 when he created one and scored one against Holland in last nights game.Totally sensational in midfield and class apart from any other Dutch player.

Dick Advocaat,manager of Zenith St. Petersburg has confirmed that Arshavin wants to move with interested clubs being Newcastle United,Manchester City,Everton,Arsenal and Chelsea are expected to follow soon.More clubs from Spain,Italy,France and Germany are expected to line up offers too.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Van Basten vs Gus Hiddink

Tonight Russia and Netherlands go head to head in their quarter final clash.It is more the clash of the managers than of the players.

Dutch have been the most promising and "eye candied" team so far in the tournament with 3 wins out of 3 in their group of "death".On the other hand Russia weren't that good enough in their first encounter but have looked solid thereafter especially in the game against Sweden which was must win to progress to the quarter finals.

Let's start with the Dutch coach Marco Van Basten.
Born in Utrecht and started playing at the age of seven.
He has played for dutch club Ajax and AC Milan in Italy.Regarded as one of the best forwards of his time with 277 goals in his career which was cut short by injuries.Awarded the European player of the year in 1988,1989 and 1992 and FIFA Player of the year in 1992.Voted 8th by a French magazine as the Player of the century.Scored 37 goals in 26 matches in 1985-86 in the dutch league winning him the European golden boot in that year.
In the Euro 88 he scored 5 goals with a hat-trick against England,winning goal against West Germany in the semi finals and a spectacular volley against the Soviet Union in finals which won Netherlands the Euro 1988.
In Euro 92,Dutch team reached the semi finals only to lose out to the Danes where Van Basten's penalty was saved by Peter Schmeichel.
He won 3 European titles when with Milan an accolade he shares with Cryuff and Platini.
His career was then plagued by knee injuries which kept him out of action for a long period of time as he announced retirement from playing career in 1995 and he played his last game as a Milan player against Marseille in the Champions league which they ultimately lost.

He had however said he won't take up any management job but he went U-turn on his word and become assistant manager at Ajax's second team in 2003-04.In June 2004 he was named as the Dutch national teams' manager.He showed how the youngsters were the ray of hope as he dropped Seedorf,Kluivert,Davids and Makay amd dropped Van Bommel from the team.
Under him the dutch didn't lose a game in the world cup qualification and lost out in the last 16 to Portugal.He was strongly criticized for not picking Van Nistelrooy and instead opting for Dirk Kuyt who didn't score a goal throughout the tournament.He ended his dispute with Van Nistelrooy in May 2007 as he was included in the dutch squad.He is to take up the manager job at Ajax after this Euro 2008.

Now to the other great manager,Gus Hiddink who is claimed to be the biggest tactician the game has ever seen.

Hiddink doesn't really have a great playing career to boast of as he played for the dutch club De Graafschap and a one year stint at PSV Eindhoven but failing to win a permanent position he returned to De Graafschap.He then played for North American Soccer League(MLS now) teams such as Washington Diplomats and San Jose Earthquakes.He rejoined De Graafschap in 1981 and retired a year later as a midfielder.

Started his managerial career at the team he still supports and had played for,De Graafschap.He then was the assistant manager at PSV Eindhoven before being appointed as manager in 1987 and won the European Cup(now Champions League) and affirmed the club as one of the "big three" in Holland after Ajax and Feyenoord.He then won three consecutive dutch titles from 1987 till 1990.
He then managed Turkish side Fenerbahce for a year before moving to Spain and having impressed the Spanish league with his attacking style of play.
His biggest challenge seemed to be managing the Dutch nation side in 1995 which was plagued by continual arguments and internal disruptions.He famously sent home Edgar Davids after an argument.The dutch were the most fluent team in the 1998 world cup but lost out on the cruelest form of decision making,penalties to Brazil in the semi finals.
He then was the manager of Real Madrid but was sacked following a league slump and took over the reigns of Real Betis in 2000.
His next appointment is the biggest inspirational decision ever when he agreed to take over the command of the South Korean national team.Although history was against his decision as South Korea had been part of 5 previous world cups and had failed to win even a single match.In the 2002 world cup which was co-hosted by South Korea and Japan they reached the semi finals only to be stopped by Germany who later lost to Brazil in the final.In the lead up they defeated teams such as Poland,Portugal,Italy after a 2-1 extra time victory,Spain on penalties.
He took over at PSV and took them to the semi finals of the Champions league in 2003-04.He also won the dutch title in 2005 and lost in finals of the dutch cup to Ajax in 1996.
He took over the managerial position for the Australian National team("Socceroos") and still remained the manager of PSV which was allowed under his contract.He took Australia to World cup in 32 years when they qualified for the 2006 world cup on penalties against Uruguay.
In the 2002 world cup,Australia beat Japan 3-1 to win their first world cup game ever and score goals too.They then lost to Brazil and managed a draw with Croatia which was marred by controversy following the three yellow card to same player incident.They then lost 1-0 to Italy in another controversial match where Italy scored from a penalty.This saw Australia's exit from the world cup and end of his tenure as Australia's manager.
He then took over for Russia and had a difficult time as they qualified for Euro 2008 only after Croatia defeated England and Russia beating Andorra was the qualification achieved.
He had recently been linked to the Chelsea managerial post which was later filled by Scolari.
He has a 58% win record with all the national teams he has managed so far with 54 wins in 93 games.

Both managers make for great coaches and play attractive football.Let's see who triumphs tonight!

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Juve still behind Alonso

Juventus had been targeting Liverpool's defensive midfielder Xavi Alonso this summer but haven't been able to come to deal with Liverpool's asking price of 20million euros or 15.75million pounds.

Juventus manager Jean Claude Blanc is still positive of signing Alonso from Liverpool for a manageable fee.Juventus meanwhile have other offers at hand too with them going mainly for midfielders but haven't hit luck yet with not many being able to make the cut and many being unavailable.

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Ronaldo not for sale - Manchester United

Ronaldo had earlier dropped a little ball from his sack but this time he has dropped a bombshell.

Talking to Guillem Balague,he said :
It is a dream, a step forward, you can call it what you want. For me it is a great opportunity, and as (Luiz Felipe) Scolari says, that train passes by only once, and we have to take advantage of it.

"You will soon know what I want. You do know what I want and that is why I don't want to say anything else. Let's wait. I want to give more details that is why I cannot say much more."

(read full interview here)

Although come Friday morning ManUtd has cleared its stance again saying Ronaldo is not for sale and they will not be listening to any offers.

Real Madrid had been chasing Ronaldo throughout the summer with the matter reaching as far as FIFA although they were cleared of any wrong doings.The Portuguese winger spoke after Portugal's loss to Germany in the quarter finals of Euro 2008.

Frankly Ronaldo transfer saga has been annoying and bugging me a lot throughout with so many speculations and rumours going around along with my apprehensions of him being as great at Bernabeu as he as in his "last" season at Manchester United and the huge amount of salary that would be paid to him and the transfer money to be given to Manchester United.Its bloody atrocious!

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mourinho reveals top three targets

Inter Milan boss and former Porto and Chelsea manager,Jose Mourinho has revealed he is very much interested in signing Frank Lampard,Didier Drogba and Deco.
Mourinho was the manager of Chelsea where Lampard and Drogba were two of the most influential players of his squad.

Earlier Inter Milan owner Massimo Moratti had stated of Lampard being their Number One target(read here).
Mourinho was in charge of Porto earlier where Deco was the star playmaker.He is currently under contract with Barcelona but has been released by new manager,Pep Guardiola.

Mourinho had this to say as reported by Sky Sports,
"I am not nostalgic but I really like those three players, they helped me win some great titles.

"I cannot forget Deco, Lampard and Drogba.

"These are players who I could never say no to. I would love to work with them again in future, but I am not too obsessed with this idea.

"I don't know which of the three will leave their clubs but we'll see."

Chelsea would certainly not let go of their captain so easily,if they do under the new guiding system and planning of Scolari then the price tag should reflect the stature and skill of Lampard as a holding midfielder and as an attacking one.

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Barcelona in talks with Hleb

Barcelona vice president Marc Ingla has agreed to reports linking the Catalan club with Arsenal player Alexander Hleb.

Hleb has fallen out with Arsenal and reports have linked him to Barcelona,Real Madrid and a few Italian clubs too.He had earlier seen his team mate,Flamini leave for Milan.The main reason being cited for the exit are the low salaries offered by Gunners.
His falling out was earlier reported here.

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Riise joins Roma

Liverpool defender for the past seven seasons,John Arne Riise has joined Italian side,AS Roma for 3.96million pounds.

He has signed a four year contract and would be officially a Roma player from 1 July.
He joined Liverpool from french side,Monaco.He has Champions League in 2005 and FA Cup in 2006 to his credit as a Liverpool player.

Riise who didn't have a great final season with a remember-worthy error in Champions League clash with Chelsea where he scored an own goal in the final minute against Chelsea to hand them a very important away goal.
He is also remembered for a thunderous free kick against Manchester United in 2006-2007 season.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sidwell joins Villa

Steve Sidwell is set to join Aston Villa after they agreed to a 5.5 million pound deal with Chelsea.

Sidwell had joined Chelsea from Reading last season on a free transfer and had only 7 starts to his Chelsea "career".
He is also seen as a replacement for Gareth Barry who would most certainly join Liverpool.

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Podolski agrees to Spurs interest

Germany and Bayern Munich striker,Lucas Podolski has agreed with the reports linking him to Italian club,Juventus and English side,Spurs.

Podolski had an indifferent season with Bayern.He is currently with Germany at Euro 2008 and has netted in 3 goals in as many games.
His future would be certain after the tournament gets over.
It would be a great get for Spurs who still aren't sure about Berbatov's future at the club but the partnership would be interesting too.

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Trio retire from Les Bleus

After the loss to Italy in the final game of Euro 2008,French trio of Sagnol,Thuram and Makelele have said "Au Revoir" to international game.

France went down to Italy 2-0 in Zurich and failed to progress to the next stage in the group of death with a disppointing campaign which saw 1 goal scored and 6 conceded for the French side who lacked the cutting edge to win at the highest level.
Of the three players only Makelele took to the field in the final game with the other two only to find comfortable space on the bench.

Thuram is out of contract after he was released from Barcelona.Sagnol didn't have a great season with German champions,Bayern Munich.Makelele is currently under contract at Chelsea.

Patrick Viera and Gregory Coupet had also considered retirement but have said nothing to confirm the reports,yet.Patrick Viera failed to take to the field in any of the games due to injury.
What next for the Les Bleus would be interesting..

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Barcelona drop 3 from future plans

Barcelona have confirmed that they are letting go of its three of its players,namely, Samuel Eto'o , Deco and Ronaldinho.

New manager Pep Guardiola said :
"With the technical secretary we are forming a squad and Deco, Ronaldinho and Eto'o are not in our minds,"

Deco has been linked to Chelsea with Scolari as new manager who is also his Portugal manager.Also in contention are Inter Milan with Jose Mourinho as the manager who had managed Deco at Porto.

Ronaldinho who was once the star favourite of players,managers and fans has been out of favour and form with very few performances to match that of previous seasons.He has been linked to Manchester City,AC Milan and Chelsea.

Eto'o however hasn't been much in the news(for the right reasons) regarding his future club but AC Milan and Spurs seen to be the keen clubs currently.
Guardiola also is keen to bring in a winger at Nou camp with Dos santos moving to Spurs a few weeks back.He also ruled out a possibility of Ronaldo to take that spot.
Barcelona certainly need a player up front of quality and skill to go with Henry and Bojan.The wingers are a major problem for the Catalan club as was visible with a goal drought towards the end of the season.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lampard on Inter's wish list

Inter Milan owner Massimo Moratti has revealed Frank Lampard as their Number One target for the summer transfer window.

The season ticket sales have risen by 30% after Mourinho was confirmed as the manager for Inter.
Now they aim to make the change on the pitch with Lampard not currently under contract with Chelsea.Many papers in the UK have priced him at 18million pounds(which is what Barry has been priced at,I bet Lampard should be more than that!)
Other players being linked to Inter are Deco,who is also wanted by Chelsea and their newly appointed manager Scolari;Quaresma but that doesn't look like a deal going through with the fee being asked is just "ridiculous" and Ronaldo who would also be way too pricy for Moratti's liking.

Inter had parted ways with Mancini and had appointed Mourinho at the helm and he has brought with him a lot of media speculation and transfer rumours.
England player joining Italian club would be a very new idea and if that player would be Lampard then it would be worth the wait.Hope he stays at Chelsea though.

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Viera out of crunch game

French influential midfielder Patrick Viera has been ruled out for the final game of the group stages as well.

The game is of great priority to France,currently with 1 point and they have to get all 3 points with Italy on 1 point and Romania with 2 to be sure of succeeding to reach quarter finals only if Romania falter.
Will France be able to get all 3 points and will Netherlands field a full strength side,that still remains to be seen.


FIFA clear Real Madrid

FIFA have cleared Real Madrid over allegations of "poaching" for Cristiano Ronaldo,currently under contract with Manchester United.
Newspapers both in England and Spain have been abuzz with conflicting reports about the future of Ronaldo currently with Portugal at the Euro 2008.
FIFA's issued statement read :

"We can confirm that we received last week a formal complaint from Manchester United related to the player Cristiano Ronaldo and the club Real Madrid. From the documentation received, no breach of contract appears to have occurred yet.

"Therefore, in accordance with the applicable practice, no kind of formal procedure has been opened by FIFA regarding this matter.

"The Spanish Football Federation has been informed of the complaint lodged by the English club and been asked to remind its member club Real Madrid about the potential legal consequences of a breach of contract without just cause during the protected period and of a possible inducement to such a breach of contract, as established by the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players."

The story had earlier been reported here.

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Porto back into Europe

Portuguese club Porto have been reinstated into the Champions league,UEFA has confirmed.

Earlier Porto had been disallowed from entering the competition on allegations of bribing referees and docked points in the domestic league.However that didn't stop them from winning the title by a huge margin.(read here)

The sanctions haven't been lifted yet by UEFA and any disciplinary action would apply from the next season instead of the 2008/09 season.


Monday, June 16, 2008

McClaren for Blackburn post

Former Middlesbrough and England manager,Steve McClaren is on the horizon for vacant Blackburn Rovers manager position.
He had been out of work since the sacking from England national team after a forgetful Euro 2008 qualification campaign which ended in a shameful loss to Croatia.Blackburn had been manager-less after Mark Hughes joined fellow premiership side Manchester City.
Other contenders for the job are Sam Allardyce and Paul Ince.
Who would be the best choice for Rovers?


Premiership fixtures

Fixtures for the English Premiership are out.The season starts on August 16,2008 and ends on May 24,2009.

The 1st week has the following fixtures :
August 16,2008(saturday)
Manchester United - Newcastle United
Chelsea - Portsmouth
Arsenal - West Bromwich Albion
Sunderland - Liverpool
Bolton Wanderers - Stoke City
Hull - Fulham
Aston Villa - Manchester City
Everton - Blackburn Rovers
Middlesbrough - Spurs
West Ham - Wigan

United face Liverpool and Chelsea on subsequent weekends on September 13 and September 20 respectively.Face Arsenal on November 8.
They host Chelsea on January 10,Liverpool on March 14,Arsenal on May 16.

Chelsea face Liverpool on October 25 and Arsenal on November 29.On the road,they visit Liverpool on January 31 and Arsenal on May 9 and round off the season with a visit to Sunderland.

The whole schedule/fixtures can be checked here


Match 17 : Turkey vs Czech Republic : Report

Last game of the group A and the matches to be played simultaneously.Portugal had already qualified for the group stages,Switzerland were out of contention with two defeats in the first two games.It was down to these two teams to battle it out for the second spot and to face Croatia,winners of Group B in the quarter finals in Vienna.
Possibilities of penalties were there upon as if it was all square after 90 minutes.Czech's started without Milan Baros up front.They were also with a better head-to-head record(3 wins in 4 games) against the Turks.
So lets get down to the game.

A game with 7 yellow cards and one red card,you would imagine it was a dirty and sluggish affair with both teams playing anything but a pretty game.Then,you're WRONG!
Yes you would be totally,absolutely,completely wrong to think that about THIS game.
Czech's opened the scoring through the gigantic Koller,who I think is worse than Crouch with his feet.He headed in a perfectly placed ball from the right only to beat a desperate dive by the Demirel.Czech Republic 1 Turkey 0 in the 34th minute.
Going into halftime Czech Republic were the dominant force against a defensive Turkey team who had very little if at all any shots on the target.

The second half opened with both teams desperate to get the advantage after some very inspiring talks from the managers.
Although it was Plasil who looked the hungrier of the players when he ran past a defender to slot the ball in after a cross from the right went over the head of Koller and was very hard for the keeper to save.Czech Republic 2 Turkey 0.
It was 2-0 and the Czech's had become hungry to get the third to shut the game off once and for all.Also with 75minutes gone and a two goal lead it would only be a miracle to comeback and get at least two goals to go into penalties.This two goal cushion also unsettled the Czech defense who looked shaky now with constant attacks from Turkey coming majorly from the right flank after good build up play amongst the wingers.
Turkey pulled one back through Turan in the 75th minute with a great pull back in the box with a side foot finish past a diving Cech who could have done a better job.Czech Republic 2 Turkey 1.
The clock read 87 minutes,the scoreline read Czech Republic 2 Turkey 1,only three more minutes for the Czech's to hang on.It was pouring in Geneva.Pouring but that didn't stop the Turks from another attack and another ball into the box from the right,no one but Nihat in the box.Good enough height for Cech to come out and take control of the situation and maybe dive in and waste a few seconds.But he spills it and it falls into Nihat's right foot.He wasn't going to miss that!Woeful handling by one of the best goalkeepers in the world.Agreed a wet ball but that should have been an easy catch. Czech Republic 2 Turkey 2.
Surprise Surprise! The word PENALTY was repeated often now.But that word didn't last long.The 89th minute,defensive lapse from the Czech's and Nihat scores the third for the Turks,fifth of the game and his second of the night.Great finish.Not even close to being offside.This goal is a must see by the way.Czech Republic 2 Turkey 3!!
There were some horrible scenes at the end though when the Turkish goalkeeper Demirel was sent off after a push to Koller.This means he would miss the next game and this would be a great blow to Turkey.As of right now,they need to celebrate the entry into the quarterfinals after an astounding comeback.The best game of the tournament so far,only beating the Netherlands' games by a little margin.One of the best games of European Championships,EVER!


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ronaldo backs Scolari

Portugal winger,Cristiano Ronaldo has backed Scolari to do a great job at Chelsea and make it tougher for his (current) club Manchester United.
Scolari would join Chelsea after his current and last assignment with Portugal at Euro 2008 where they have reached the quarter finals.

"Scolari gives his players the ambition to play attractive, attacking football. He is a great man, a great coach," Ronaldo told The People.

"With him at Chelsea, it is going to be difficult for United."

He also added that he understands Scolari not extending his contract with Portugal in favour of better conditions and better future for himself and his family.

Scolari has chosen Chelsea over Portugal because of financial reasons as he answered the press in a press conference before Portugal take on hosts Switzerland in their final Group A encounter which is a dead tie for both teams as Portugal are through and Switzerland can't make it.

With Ronaldo's comments about moving for a better future and conditions and financial stability,is he also hinting at a move to Madrid??

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Match 15 : Spain vs Sweden : Report

In the previous round of matches in Group D,Spain had a fantastic 4-1 win over Russia with an emphatic hat-trick from David Villa.Sweden on the other hand were 2-0 winners over Greece in a not so convincing fashion.
This was supposed to be the match for the group,of even teams.Although I don't think it lived up to the billing.It wasn't easy going or smooth as was expected from Spain.Sweden weren't as attacking as they should have been.Spain's leaky defense was made visible and also expectations from them to lift the title were reduced considerably with a shaky performance.

Spain took lead through Torres in the 15th minute after a training ground worked corner move with Silva's cross finding Torres to footed the ball in.Spain up 1-0.

Sweden were able to equalise through Ibrahimovich in the 34th minute after woeful defending from Sergio Ramos,although I think Casillas could have done a tad better too but Ramos should get the major portion of the blame for the goal as he wasn't able to contain the Juventus man.
Sweden looked formidable in the defense with former Aston Villa player,now Juventus bound Melberg.The Swedish defense contained the attacking forces of Villa,Torres,Xavi,Iniesta and co.
Fabregas was brought on to change things but the Swedish defense wasn't bothered.Larsson looked innovative and hungry for ball throughout the game.

You know how they say,"Its not over until its over!" or in Swedish "det er icke på över till den er över" Sweden would be very much aware of this phrase after Villa scored in the 93rd minute just as the referee had the whistle in his mouth to blow when the ball becomes dead or not in an attacking position.Villa completed a cool but not so easy finish to win it for Spain and sink hearts for Sweden players,coaches and fans everywhere.

Spain are now top with 6points and are through to the quarter finals.The final round of matches will decide the second team from this group.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Links : Interesting Reads

These are a few links I found which would be worth a read.
Enjoy :D

Euro 2008 in pictures - Holland[Pitch Invasion]
Howard Webb gets death threats
[Who Ate All the Pies]
Crazy German reports threat[Who Ate All the Pies]
Scolari appointment and its implications[Living True Blue]
Who to cheer for at the Euros?[Pitch Invasion]

Enjoy till my next update :D


Sunderland to bid for Bent

Sunderland might revive the career and place for Spurs forward Darren Bent.
Bent who had a forgettable first season for spurs after his move from relegated Charlton.He rarely got opportunity to start as he lost out to Robbie Keane and Berbatov.Last season also saw the departure of Jermaine Defoe to Portsmouth.
Daily Mail reports,Roy Keane is interested in signing Bent,who had only 6goals to his name for the concluded season.
This raised a question in my head,what is important?Playing week in week out or being in a team which can fulfill your dreams although not getting a place very often in the side..?

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Match 14 : Netherlands vs France : Report

From round 1,Netherlands had astoundingly beaten Italy and France had a rusty draw with Romania.Two changes for France with Henry coming in instead of Benzema and Anelka and Patrice Evra in the defence.
Netherlands started off with great speed and were up in the 10th minute with a goal from Kuyt who headed the ball in from a corner.
Van Basten's attack minded substitution was made visible when he replaced a defensive midfielder Engelaar with Robben who is more of attack minded and dazzling midfielder with immaculate ball control.
The change reflected in the 59th minute when a great skill to save the ball by Van Nistelrooy from going out fell to Robben who ran from the left to square the ball for Van Persie to finish,another fast break from the Dutch and another goal.France,where is the defense?
France got a lifeline with Thiery Henry's lightest of touches to get France back in the game.France score the first of the campaign,Netherlands concede their first too.
Game kicks off.Holland start after a shaky defensive lapse.2-1 reads the scoreline.France fans wait for another inspirational run from Ribery or a run from Henry beating the offside trap to square the game but that doesn't happen.Holland score from a fantastic one touch play as Robben scores from the smallest of gaps possible,blame the defenders?or the keeper,Coupet?Holland up 3-1.Contender for goal of the tournament too.
Icing on the cake was provided by Sneijder's 90th minute goal.Holland win 4-1.
Holland advance from the group of death in two games and have sounded the warning alarm to all other teams.3-0 to world champions,Italy.4-1 to 2000winners,France.
Romania,be afraid,be very afraid!


Match 13 : Italy vs Romania : Report

Group C,Round two.
From the previous round,Italy had lost to Netherlands and Romania had a horribly boring game with France which ended in a draw.So both teams were out to get full points to get a lead in the group of "death".
Italy manager,Donadoni was blasted for his starting 11 against Netherlands and had 5changes for the second game with Del Piero starting along with Toni.
Italy looked the better of the two teams going into the game and then at half time with a goal by Toni ruled offside when it clearly wasn't.Poor decision by the referee to deny Italy the goal.
In the 55th minute Italy's defensive laps was made visible when Zambrotta tried to head the ball towards Buffon only to be intercepted by Mutu who completed a great finish to give Romania the undeserved lead.
Italy looked like they were going to score and they did.Only a minute after Romania's goal,Panucci equalised for Italy with a simple but necessary tap in.
In the 81st minute,Panucci did a wrestling tackle which many wrestlers would have been proud of by bringing down Niculae.Mutu stepped up to take the penalty only to be fabulously saved by Buffon.Romania could have sunk the ship for the Italians but have been saved by Mutu's not so great penalty and Buffon's save.
Italy,world champions,down and out?possibly?


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Luiz Felipe Scolari updates

After Chelsea's huge announcement to name 'Big Phil' Luiz Felipe Scolari as their new manager,the newspapers in UK are abuzz with speculation and news surrounding it.
Scolari would be the highest paid manager in English Premier League eclipsing the previous two highest grossers,Arsene Wenger(Arsenal) and Kevin Keagan(Newcastle United).He would also be the second highest earning manager in Europe behind newly appointed Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan.

Scolari is expected to earn between 5.5 million pounds to 6 million pounds.Arsene wengers earns an approximately 4.5million pounds,Keagan 4million pounds and Sir Alex Fergusson 3million pounds a season.

Language barrier
His spokesperson has also claimed that language won't be a barrier for Scolari.
"Felipe has already worked in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Japan. In all these countries, he communicated in English.

"Of course, England is the native country of the language but I can assure you that language will not be any problem."

Scolari has never managed a European club and this would be a daunting task for the manager as well as the Chelsea squad.


Chelsea appoint Scolari

Chelsea have finally made their decision about the vacant manager job and it has gone to current Portugal national team manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.He would take over the post on 1July,2008 as per BBC Sport.
This decision comes as a surprise to everyone(except people at Chelsea,of course) especially since Scolari had denied taking decision for the future before the end of his Euro 2008 campaign.
There have been no more comments from Chelsea in respect of contract duration,salary and other necessary clauses.
Scolari's side,Portugal have reached the knock out stage after an impressive win today over Czech Republic.
Chelsea had earlier been reported to be in talks with Rjikaard and Mancini after Grant's sacking at the end of the season in which Chelsea couldn't manage to win a single trophy.
Scolari has a stupendous record at the international arena,with World Cup winners medal in 2002 with Brazil and Runners Up medal at Euro Championships in 2004 with Portugal but doesn't have much credentials at club level with only a few South American club sides being the most popular.He has managed Palmeiras and Cruzeiro.
Scolari does look a great choice but will he be as effective on the club level as he is at the international level especially with the more number of games and higher expectations from Chelsea owner Abramovich.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

EURO 2008 : File Updated

I had brought an excel file to help you keep record of updated tables after every night of matcheshere

The UPDATED(group D on 10th June) file can be downloaded from HERE.


Match 8 : Greece vs Sweden : Report

So this game would round of the 1st round of matches in the group stages.Spain had won their first game handsomely over Russia and it was down to defending champions,Greece to get some points in their bag for the second match of the day against Scandinavian nation,Sweden.
Sweden had a major boost after Henrik Larsson went back on his decision to retire from international football to comeback for one last major tournament.
The game was very dull in the first half with neither side managing anything interesting or shots on target or SHOTS AT ALL as Greece chose to pass the ball around very VERY slowly.
The first goal of the game came in the form of a thunderbolt by Zlatan Ibrahimovich after a fabulous shot from quite a distance to put Sweden 1-0 up against Greece.
It wasn't a clear cut chance or a great move just pure quality striking by one of the best strikers ever.Certainly a contender for goal of the tournament.
The second goal was the scrappiest goal you could possibly imagine.Yes it might be scrappier than goals scored in your local park by people who don't have the faintest idea of where the ball is but their main interest is in getting past the line.Hansson somehow managed to do that by whatever means possible after Ljunberg's shot was saved by the Greek keeper,Nikopolidis.
The efforts from Greece in the latter stages proved to be desperate measures to get a consolation goal but it wasn't going to come.Reason being not great defending by Sweden but pure lackluster performance by Greece.
Greece's loss doesn't shock me at all.I cannot see them progressing from group stages and the odds of them repeating Portugal success look very grim indeed.


Match 7 : Spain vs Russia : Report

Well since I wasn't able to catch this game LIVE! I would only report from what I've read and the goals that I saw.
Its interesting to see how Fabregas didn't start the game and was on the bench until the 54th minute.Actually a brave move by Luis Aragones.
The game looked quite a potential with Spain being one of the major contenders for the Champions(aren't they always but just like England they falter?!) and Gus Hiddink as the manager for Russia.It would certainly be a battle of tactics but as it turns out Spain was too good for the Russians.
Villa opened the scoring in the 20th minute,tapping the ball in an open net after fabulous play from Fernando Torres(interesting partnership,eh for Liverpool fans?).
Just before half time Villa had doubled Spain's lead after a perfectly timed through ball from Iniesta to slip the ball under the keeper.
Villa completed his hat-trick and Spain were comfortably placed now after losing his marker beautifully to make it 3-0 to Spain.
Russia got a consolation goal in the 86th minute through Pavluchenko but it proved to be too little too late for Russia.
Fabregas paid dividends to his late inclusion after a diving header from close range in the 90th minute.
Spain win 4-1 and a very impressive performance by Villa.Is the Villa-Torres partnership something Spain can rely upon in the long run as they play the qualifying teams from Group C(the group of death!) ??


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Match 6 : Netherlands vs Italy : Report

After the France-Romania game which was a true dampener for football fans all over the globe this game came as a respite or well a blessing.I always think that the over hyped games and the games which promise a lot usually fail to deliver but this was certainly an exception.
There was never a dull moment in the game.Coming into the game Netherlands would have been happy to get a point from it but as the game progressed they looked prepared and hungry for the 3points.
The first goal came as early as the 26th minute when Van Nistelrooy steered the ball into the goal after claims of offside but it was clear that Italy had a player down behind the goal after a collision with Buffon and the goal was allowed,even though Kuyt thought it was offside in the post match interview.
Birthday boy,Wesley Sneijder was totally fabulous throughout the game.He got on the score sheet second after an incredible counter attack which even the likes of Manchester United would be proud of.After a goal line clearance from Van Bronckhorst,Van der Vaart passed the ball into acres of space for Bronckhorst after a run down the left.He then accurately put a long ball pass through to Kuyt whose header made space for Sneijder who scored from very little gap with an Italian defender and Buffon both charging in.Certainly a contender for goal of the tournament.Netherlands now lead 2-0 and it was only the 31st minute.
Van Nistelrooy could have added the third before half time only to be denied by Buffon's fabulous save.He would have score that 7 times out of 10,only not today.
I wonder what advise Cannavaro had for the defenders at half time.
Second half commenced with Italy having most of the possession.Lucas Toni looked out of sorts and only after Del Piero arrived on the pitch Italy started creating more than what they otherwise were.
After another counter attack,Van Bronckhorst headed the ball in the back of the net with a little help from Zambrotta.Kuyt could have scored himself and at that time my thought was,THIS IS WHY LIVERPOOL GOT TORRES! Well that's another matter.Netherlands up 3-0 and the world champions have been shaken.
Italy tried long and hard to get a consolation goal only to be denied either by fabulous defending or woeful finishing.
A thoroughly entertaining match.I was thinking who would be the man of the match and I had three contenders,namely,Sneijder,Van Bronckhorst and Ooijer,who was absolutely splendid in defence.I still can't make a decision about it.
Group C looks promising now only if France start delivering and Romania can stage an upset,does anyone see that happening after their first game?
Oranje crush the Azzuri *grins*


Match 5 : France vs Romania : Report

Finally Group C starts today and France take on Romania,possibly the weakest team of the group and they play first in Zurich.
With my earlier match reports I used to think that they weren't detailed enough or weren't expressing the tempo of this match.With this I wouldn't even have any second thoughts on its lack of content because the game itself lacked everything from quality play to shots on goal.The only thing visible was Romania's lack of efforts going forward and France's no actual desire to score or put up a show for a goal or even a scrappy goal for that matter.
After half time,as the pictures showed the French players coming from the tunnel it was visible how they weren't excited or eager to get on the pitch.They just lazed through and somehow completed the game.
Only chance of the game fell to Anelka who should have at least hit the target with a header from 6yards out.
All in all,a very boring game.France certainly miss Zizou in the midfield and Ribery didn't look close to what we saw of him in the world cup.I suggest people to sleep during the highlights too,or well you would eventually sleep through it.