15th September 2006
Filed in Brazil + Video - comments (18)
Brazilian teams Santacruzense and Atletico Soracaba were playing in the Coppa FPF. Away team Soracaba was leading 1-0 win the 89th minute, when sneaky ball boy José Carlos Vieira, decided to take matters into his own hands. Amazingly, linesman Marco Antonio de Andrade Motta Jr, signalled that the goal had been scored by Santacruzense’s number 9, Carvalho Almeida and female referee Silvia Regina de Oliveira (who has a FIFA badge no less), gave the goal.
Unsurprisingly, all hell broke loose as the referee and the linesman were both attacked by irrate home players and fans. Oliveira was suspended immediately by the federation, while the linesman will face disciplinary action once he is released from hospital.
Meanwhile Santacruzense have been fined R$50,000 and suspended form the competition as a result of “unsportsmanlike conduct” of their ballboy. As for the cheeky culprit? “I saw they were not looking and kicked the ball softly into the goal“, he said cheerfully. Rumours are that a number of teams were impressed by his “skills” and that offers will soon come flooding in for his services…..
13th September 2006
Filed in Champions' League + Greece - comments (7)
…or at least they should! Tonight’s 4-2 defeat to Valencia, for whom Fernando Morientes scored a hat-trick, was the upteenth time that the team had conceded crucial goals in the final 5 minutes of a European match.
In 2004, a last minute goal from Gerrard gave Liverpool a 3-1 win and qualification from the group stages which eventually lead to them lifting the trophy. Last September, Thrilos conceded a goal in the 88th minute away to Real Madrid, which resulted in a 2-1 loss. In October, Kafes looked to have given Olympiakos a point in the 84th minute, but Govou had other ideas, an 89th minute goal giving the French Champions a 2-1 win also. Then in November, a Helstad goal in the 88th minute gave Rosenborg a point in Trondheim, 1-1 the final score.
Then tonight, with 5 minutes left, the match was being drawn 2-2. Up comes Albiol and it’s 3-2. Just to make sure Morientes heads in another for good measure in the 89th minute……
Lack of concentration or poor fitness? It’s probably more to do with the fact in the Greek Super League, Olympiakos don’t have to concentrate for more than 60-70 minutes to win a match, such is the lack of competition.
12th September 2006
Filed in Champions' League + England - comments (5)
This evening I had the privilege/chance (depending on what you think of their style of play) to watch Chelsea play Werder Bremen at Stamford Bridge. I made my way across London during my lunch break to pick up the tickets. In the queue in front of me was a man, who politely asked the at the box office how much a ticket cost. The box office attendant told him the price and then asked where the man was from. “Germany” the man replied, to which the box office attendant said, “Sorry sir then I can’t sell you a ticket for security reasons“. The man clearly disappointed walked away.
Now to me this rule seems a joke. First, not all Germans support Werder Bremen, just like not all Englishmen support Chelsea. They might not mind sitting with Chelsea fans. They may actually be Chelsea fans who have come to support their fellow countryman, Michael Ballack, a Chelsea player. Second, if the man had said he was Swiss, Austrian, Dutch, or whatever else, he would have got his tickets. Why? because the man at the box office did not ask for proof - he just accepted whatever answer was given. He asked me my nationality and just bought my answer. So come on Chelsea, drop this stupid rule before your next home Champions League match and let people of all nationalities enjoy the spectacle. The irony is that there are “Kick racism out of football” ads displayed everywhere at Stamford Bridge…
7th September 2006
Filed in France + Comment + Greece - comments (4)
I am talking here about two examples - Claude Makelele and Theo Zagorakis. Makelele said that he wanted to retire after Germany 2006. Fair enough - he is 33 after all and no one can say he has not given his all for Les Bleus. In fact he has already retired once before, after Euro 2004, but Domenech convinced him to reconsider. Without his presence and that of ZZ and Thuram (who also came out of retirement) France would probably not have qualified for Germany. You would have thought therefore that the least Makelele could expect would be for his wish to retire this time to be respected. Instead Domenech (who in my opinion was more of a hindrance than a help during France’s World Cup run) picks him .
Let’s now turn to Zagorakis who hasn’t had a decent game in over a year. He was surprised to be called up by Rehhagel having intimated that he no longer thought he was up to the task of playing international football and wanted to go out on a high. He was even more shocked to see his name in the starting line-up of Greece’s qualifier away to Moldova. Clearly off the pace, he asked to be substituted at half-time. Again, here is a player that has given his all for the national cause and who has earned the right to leave at the top of his game, but is not being allowed to.
Let me ask you this. If your employer were to give you a new and exciting piece of work to do once you had resigned, would you give your all? would you be motivated to do your best and bust a gut? probably not. Your mind would be focussed on your new job. You would have no incentive. However, because of their fame and the fact that patriotism is a strong emotion, these players are being forced to. The stigma of being unpariotic is too great.
So why do these coaches do this? Maybe they are worried about a lack of alternatives - more believable in the case of Greece but unlikely. For me it shows a lack of respect toward players who have helped them achieve their success.
7th September 2006
Filed in Spain + Euro2008 - comments (7)
I have preiviously been accused of being anti-Spanish so I’ll be careful with my words this time. But what is it with Spain and Northern Ireland? The Irish knocked them out on their own turf at World Cup ‘82 and since then the Spanish have struggled against them. During the Euro 2004 qualifiers, a 0-0 draw at Windsor Park effectively handed the group to Greece. Then last night Spain lost 3-2 thanks to a David Healy hat-trick. Fans are now calling for the head of Luis Aragones. In a poll on Marca almost 80% of the c. 145,000 voters said that el sabio de Hortaleza should quit. The question is whether there is anyone better to replace him. Maybe they should appoint Pepu Hernandez, coach of the World Championship winning basketball team. He at least managed to get a talented bunch of individuals to function as a unit.
6th September 2006
Filed in Italy + France - comments (4)
In football, timing is everything. As if they did not have enough motivation to beat Italy, Marco Materazzi’s ill-timed revelation of the words he used to provoke ZZ’s headbutt in July’s World Cup final on the eve of tonight’s encounter, to further fan the flames of French fury.
France were relentless. Sidney Govou opened the socring in only the second minute lashing in Gallas‘ cross with an angled drive. Sixteen minutes later it was two as Henry reacted quickest to Buffon’s save from Malouda to place the ball in the net with the aid of a deflection. Gilardino’s header shortly after gave Italy hope but in truth they were never in the game. Cassano hardly got a sniff of the ball and Semioli looked out of his depth. France created further chances in the second half and deservedly made it 3-1 through Govou’s header. They then had chances to further extend their lead but could not convert.
Italy looked like a group of players still on holiday, justifiably so given that their domestic league is yet to restart. New coach Roberto Donadoni is going to be in for a tough time if performances like this and the draw against Lithuania are repeated. His record of no wins in his first three matches in charge is one of the worst starts ever made by an Italian national coach. He will be hoping that by the time these sides next meet, most of the World Cup stars will be back and in form. For the French, tonight’s performance will go a small way towards healing the wounds inflicted on July 9th. However, the reality remains that it is Italy who proudly wear an extra star on their shirt.
6th September 2006
Filed in Video - write a comment
You get home wanting to watch the big game but your girlfriend is there in front of the TV watching a romantic movie. One solution is to buy a second TV. A second, cheaper option is to do this…
5th September 2006
Filed in Brazil - write a comment
A lot has been made in the English press about Dunga’s selections in his first few matches containing load of “unknowns” and “nobodies“. There was then general surprise when those “nobodies” dismantled Argentina in Sunday’s “friendly“. Those same “nobodies” (plus the world famous Ronaldinho and Kaká) beat Wales tonight 2-0 (goals from 18-year-old fullback Marcelo and Vagner Love). So who are these “nobodies” who have started to remind us of what Brazil can really do?
Elano, Daniel Carvalho, Vagner Love and Dudu are all names with which Brazilians have long been familiar but which the English press assumed were not much good because they played in countries such as the Ukraine and Russia. The argument seemed to be that if they were any good, surely they would have been playing in Europe’s bigger leagues - England, Spain, Italy or Germany.
Shortly after Porto’s Champion’s League victory, Dynamo Moscow bought half the team - Costinha, Maniche, Derlei, and later Seitaridis, all widely acknowledged to be great players. So why should Elano, Vagner Love or Daniel Carvalho be any worse? Vagner and Carvalho were key players in CSKA’s UEFA Cup triumph in 2005. None of the three were debutants on Sunday. Vagner starred with Palmeiras before moving to CSKA for £6 million. Carvalho was a star at Internacional while Elano was part of Santos’ successful young squad before moving to ambitious Ukrainian outfir Shakhtar Donetsk. The international careers of all three pre-dated their moves east but were then cut short as previous coach Carlos Alberto Parreira tended to focus on the leagues he knew.
Dunga should be applauded for his willingness to look beyond the norm. He knows that Brazilian clubs and players are desperate for money and Russian football is currently flooded with cash. Unlike previous coaches he is not punishing talented players who have moved to less glamorous leagues for purely economic reasons.
5th September 2006
Filed in England - comments (5)
We can probably all remember the joy of filling our Panini World Cup albums and collecting and trading cards with our friends as children. Well, British company Blighty Creations had a slightly different take on this childhood passtime. Rather than player cards, the company decided to launch a series of trading cards based on Britain’s most famous hooligans. For Thierry Henry, read Terrible Henry, Arsenal’s most famous hooligan. For Gerrard, Lampard, Rooney and Owen read Slap Head Nick, Dangerous Dirk, Cool Boy Christopher and ‘Ard Man Aaron.
Unfortunately for Blighty Collectables, the Premier League took a dim view of the Little Hooliganz collection, stating its opposition to anything which encouraged hooliganism. “The clubs and the League, with the support of the fans have worked hard to eliminate hooliganism from English stadia. In the event that the smooth running of the championship is threatened, we will consult our legal advisers”, said a representative.
Under the threat of legal action, the company decided to withdraw the collection. In a statement on its website (www.littlehooliganz.com), it said that it hopes to be up and running again following some alterations to the Little Hooliganz range…
22nd August 2006
Filed in Brazil + Argentina - comments (5)
Is Carlitos Tevez on his way out of Corinthians? Following Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Botafogo in the Brasileirao, Tevez failed to turn up to training on Monday without providing Corinthians’ management with any indication of his whereabouts. In the wake of Sunday’s match, Tevez hinted that that may have been his farewell match for Timao.
Undoubtedly Corinthians’ best player of the past two seasons, Tevez has enjoyed an unhappy spell this term and has been targeted by the Sao Paulo clubs notoriously fickle fans for the team’s poor form so far which finds them in the relegation zone. After being booed throughout a recent match, he irked fans yet further by putting his finger to his lips in a “silence” gesture after scoring. This prompted some fans to threaten to beat him up unless he apologised. More recently he was involved in a training ground bust-up with team-mate Carlos Alberto. Despite the troubles, Tevez has still managed to improve on his goals to games ratio from last year with 15 goals in 23 games.
If Tevez leaves where will he go? The latest rumours say Milan who are in need of a forward following the sale of Sheva to Chelsea. But don’t rule out Bayern or Manchester United
21st August 2006
Filed in Portugal + Brazil + Germany - comments (1)
A few years ago, Diego was hailed as the next big thing in Brazil. Forget Robinho, the original Santos starlet was playmaker Diego. He first burst onto the scene as a 17 year old and duly lead Emerson Leao’s young Santos side to their first championship in 18 years and all the wasy to the Libertadores final. The classic Brazilian number 10, Diego had it all. He dribbled, he had an excellent passing range and an eye for goal. In 2003, Tottenham’s bid to bring him to the premiership failed. Instead Diego extended his contract with Santos. The following summer after strong performances during Brazil’s Copa America triumph, he finally moved to Europe and to Porto, the then newly crowned European champions as a replacement for Barcelona bound Deco. During his first season, under Victor Fernandez, he managed 30 games for the Portuguese giants, but when Fernandez was fired and eventually replaced by Co Adriaanse, Diego was deemed surplus to requirements. He played only 19 times last season and missed out on Brazil’s World Cup squad.
It was time for a fresh start and this summer Diego moved to Werder Bremen. Now you would not think that Germany and Brazilian footballers would go well together. Spain, yes. Italy yes but Germany? Well many of Brazil’s finest have thrived here and Diego seems no different. There has been a magical transformation of his form. He has been the star in each of Werder’s first two games, scoring and setting up goals.So great has been his impact that Kicker has even compared him to the other Diego. Still only 21, the €6 million that Werder paid for him is looking like the bargain of the summer. Dunga are you watching?
2nd August 2006
Filed in France - comments (1)
Zinedine Zidane may not have finished his career as he would have liked - by lifting the World Cup - but its not all bad news. Zizou is currently topping the French music charts through a song dedicated to his headbutt! Amazingly the song was being broadcast over the internet less than an hour after the now infamous incident, attracting thousands of fans. As a result its creators decided to make a more polished recording and also produced an accompanying video. The words (in French) go, “Zidane hit him, the ref saw it on TV, we lost the cup but at least we laughed..“…I guess you can’t expect too much from something made in an hour..maybe it loses something in translation. See what you think: