Thursday, December 29, 2005

The 2005 Betty Awards

The 2005 Betty Awards


The World famous Betty awards are now in their 2nd year. The gongs for ‘the biggest wrong-un’ and ‘the most blatant skank’ make a welcome return, while new categories such as the award for ‘they don’t like it up ’em’ are finally recognised.

Carrie Ford can consider herself unlucky not to get her hands on a Betty, in the 2005 Grand National, Carrie narrowly failed in her attempt to become the most famous lady rider since Wayne Rooney.

If like Carrie, you failed in your attempt to receive the most coveted award in the World of sport, do not despair; there’s always next year.

The award for the funniest moment of the year:

3rd Place – Peter Crouch going 21 games without scoring
2nd Place – Derek McGovern’s Best Mate gag
Winner – Arsenal’s penalty farce against Manchester City

The award for the most surprising moment of the year:

3rd Place – Liverpool winning the Champions League
2nd Place – Newcastle signing Michael Owen
Winner – Rio Ferdinand used to be a ballet dancer

The award for the ugliest moment of the year:

3rd Place – Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer fight
2nd Place – Prince Charles and Camilla marry
Winner – Kinga shows her bottle

The award for Euro scepticism:

3rd Place – The Conservative party
2nd Place – The BNP
Winner – Everton

The award for people who shouldn’t be allowed near a football pitch:

3rd Place – Peter Crouch
2nd Place – Michael Essien
Winner – Fans who chant ‘Easy easy’

The award for file it under ‘a mistake’:

3rd Place – Steve Bruce’s adverts
2nd Place – Steve Bruce’s transfers
Winner – Steve Bruce clapping Man U fans during a Cup beating

The award for the biggest wrong-un in football:

3rd Place – Joey Barton
2nd Place – Michael Essien
Winner – Robbie Savage

The award for the most blatant skank:

3rd Place – Rebecca Loos
2nd Place – Rooney’s old bint
Winner – Helen Chamberlain

The award for the most over-rated footballer:

3rd Place – David James
2nd Place – Peter Crouch
Winner – Robbie Savage

The award for the tubbiest footballer:

3rd Place – Ronaldo (the good one)
2nd Place – Robbie Fowler
Winner – Wayne Rooney

The award for they don’t like it up ‘em:

3rd Place – Alan Shearer
2nd Place – The wife
Winner – Arsenal

The Gazza Strip

The Gazza Strip

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not all parties and yachts when you’re a Premiership footballer. At this time of year, most players will face up to four matches in seven days, a schedule so tough, Wayne Rooney will be up and down the motorway living off cold turkey sandwiches. He refuses to moan though, he enjoys an old bird. Man U are unbeaten in nine matches in the league, they’re a must bet at 4/11 at home to Bolton.

Cristiano Ronaldo is worth a little bet to open the scoring. The Portuguese wonder-boy has had a disappointing season; he’s been on a bench more often than Paul Gascoigne. The undisputed King of the unnecessary step-over is back in the starting 11; a return to form is imminent. He’s 9/1 to score the first goal and 5/2 to score at any time.

After going 93 matches for Man U without scoring, Rio Ferdinand has now bagged two in five games, a record that James Beattie can only dream about. Rio’s a 10/1 shot to make that record three in six, stranger things have happened.

It’s not just turkeys that get stuffed over Christmas. David Moyes is in the middle of the most embarrassing run since Paula Radcliffe relieved herself during the London marathon. Everton face a Sunderland team who have just had their best result of the season; their midweek match was called off. Get on the Mackems at 13/8.

Peter Crouch shoved Lee Bowyer to the ground on Boxing Day, an act that would normally receive a red card and a three match ban. The lanky striker can consider himself fortunate to be available for selection against West Brom; he’s not very good at football. Stevie Gerrard is back to his sublime best for the Pool, he’s a 13/8 shot to find the back of the net against Albion. Liverpool are good things at 1/4.

Steve Bruce didn’t endear himself to the Birmingham supporters when he waved to Manchester United fans as the Blues lost heavily in the Cup. If Bruce’s familiarity with opposition supporters is in relation to how badly they get beat, he might end up crowd surfing with the Chelsea fans. Chelsea are a 1/6 certainty.

It’s been widely reported that Graeme Souness wants Alan Shearer to stay on for another season, he probably will; as manager. Souness may have settled the dressing-room squabbling, but he can’t find a cure for their away day blues. The Geordies travel to White Hart Lane; Spurs get the nod at 4/6.

Milan Baros proved to be tasty with his hands against Everton, the Villa could do with a 2nd keeper when the Arsenal come to town. The Gunners are 4/6; they’re home, and almost certainly, hosed.

The weekend specials:

“Cold Turkey” – Emre to be booked 5/2
“Stuffed” – Thierry Henry to score a hat-trick 16/1
“Take the tree down” – Peter Crouch to be booked 3/1
“Hog many” – Wayne Rooney to score a hat-trick 14/1

Quote of the week:

“I’m not sure it was a straight red, maybe a yellow would have been more sensible.”

Steven Gerrard, the day after he ran across the pitch to confront Alan Shearer and Lee Bowyer, pressurising the referee into showing Bowyer a straight red.

Stat, you’re a liberty:

Only Van Nistelrooy and Rooney have scored more league goals for Man Utd than Rio Ferdinand this season.

Acc of the week:

Arsenal, West Ham, Tottenham, Man Utd and Man City make up the weekend accer, it pays out at a tasty 27/1.

Weekend Betting:

Aston Villa v Arsenal Saturday 31st December 12.45 Live on Sky

Aston Villa 7/2
Draw 12/5
Arsenal 4/6

Get on: Arsenal

Arsenal have won their last four matches against the Villa by two clear goals with Thierry Henry scoring in every match. Say no more.
Match Special:
Arsenal to win by two or more goals 13/8

Charlton v West Ham Saturday 31st December 13.00

Charlton 5/4
Draw 9/4
West Ham 7/4

Get on: West Ham

Charlton have lost eight out of their last nine matches, it has to be the Hammers.
Match Special:
Marlon Harewood to score two or more goals 8/1

Chelsea v Birmingham Saturday 31st December 13.00

Chelsea 1/6
Draw 9/2
Birmingham 12/1

Get on: Chelsea

Chelsea have a 100% record at home in the league, Birmingham are the 2nd worst team in the Premiership. Tough call.
Match Special:
Chelsea to win 3-0 13/2

Tottenham v Newcastle Saturday 31st December 13.00

Tottenham 4/6
Draw 12/5
Newcastle 7/2

Get on: Tottenham

Spurs haven’t tasted defeat at the Lane since August; the Toon Army have lost four of their last five matches away from home. Home win.
Match Special:
Tottenham to keep a clean sheet 6/5

Liverpool v West Brom Saturday 31st December 15.00

Liverpool 1/4
Draw 7/2
West Brom 10/1

Get on: Liverpool

The Pool have met Albion four times in the Premiership, the aggregate score? 16-0. Liverpool are aiming for their 10th straight league win, they’re gonna get it.
Match Special:
Liverpool to win 2-0 11/2

Man Utd v Bolton Saturday 31st December 15.00

Man Utd 4/11
Draw 3/1
Bolton 13/2

Get on: Man Utd

It’s seven wins and two draws from their last nine league matches for Man U, Bolton have failed to score in their last two matches away from home. Definite home win.
Match Special:
Van Nistelrooy and Rooney both to score 4/1

Middlesbrough v Man City Saturday 31st December 15.00

Middlesbrough 5/4
Draw 9/4
Man City 7/4

Get on: Man City

Only Sunderland have conceded more goals in front of their own fans than the Boro, only Man U and Chelsea have scored more goals away from home than Man City. Stuart Pearce gave the City players Christmas day off, proving he’s more of a pussycat than a psycho. Away win.
Match Special:
Andy Cole to score two or more goals 8/1

Portsmouth v Fulham Saturday 31st December 15.00

Portsmouth 6/5
Draw 11/5
Fulham 15/8

Get on: Draw

Pompey were absolutely murdered at Highbury in midweek. Fulham haven’t won away from home all season, it’s a draw.
Match Special:
Match to finish 1-1 11/2

Sunderland v Everton Saturday 31st December 15.00

Sunderland 13/8
Draw 11/5
Everton 11/8

Get on: Sunderland

Sunderland have won four of their five previous Premiership matches at home to Everton. The Moyes Boys have conceded 11 goals in three matches; the Mackems will never have a better chance.
Match Special:
Sunderland to win 1-0 7/1

Wigan v Blackburn Saturday 31st December 15.00

Wigan 6/5
Draw 11/5
Blackburn 15/8

Get on: Draw

Wigan have won their last four at home; Blackburn have won three of their last four on the road. Score draw.
Match Special:
Match to finish 2-2 14/1

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Colours-of-Football World Cup Goods

England Mousepad
Soccerphile in cooperation with Colours-of-Football.com have produced a range of World Cup products to help you show support for your team in Germany come June and July next year.

There's a range of Apparel - t-shirts, sweatshirts, underwear and even thongs, bags, mousepads, magnets, caps....you name it and we can slap your team's colors on it.
USA Magnet

Get in the mood for the big event with some cool gear for 2006!
All 32 teams available, let us know if you need us to add your team to any of our gifts.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Weekly EPL Betting

Weekly EPL Betting
Walking in a win to Sunderland

Betting

You’ve got to be tough with kids, my littlest one threw a strop last week when I didn’t lavish enough praise on him after he sent me a Christmas card. As a result of the little man’s naughtiness, his letter to Santa asking for a puppy, a train set and Rob McCaffrey to stop screaming, “What’s he like!” will now go unanswered.

Jose Mourinho may be a lot older than little Goliath, but he shares his disdain towards those who disrespect a greeting card. The special one’s mood will improve when Chelsea take all three points at home to Fulham, you can get on at 1/5. It would have been 1/8, but it’s been confirmed that Rob Styles will not be officiating.

Frank Lampard has been named the 2nd best player in the World this week. I can only assume that a few of the voters misunderstood the question, believing that ‘Name the greatest footballer’ was in relation to body mass. Super Frank scored in three games against Fulham last season; he’s worth a punt at 11/2 to net the opener.

Michael Essien is proving to be a versatile footballer; he’s added the forearm smash to his already impressive repertoire. He’s a 16/1 shot to see red, but beware; it looks like the only way he’ll ever be sent off is if he pulls out a machine gun.

Michael Owen returns to Liverpool with Newcastle, presumably to try and locate his wheel nuts. Liverpool’s trek to Japan and back can’t have done them any favours; the Geordies are definitely worth an interest at 4/1.

Alan Shearer should be backed at 5/2 to score at any time in the match; he’s just short of Jackie Milburn’s goal scoring record. Michael Owen is a 13/8 shot to find the net; he’s just short.

Alan Curbishley was being tipped as the next England manager a few weeks ago, the way Charlton have collapsed in recent weeks, he’d be lucky to find a job cleaning up in McDonalds, a position normally associated with Lee Bowyer. The Gunners are going to beat up on somebody soon, Charlton are that somebody. Take a piece of the 4/7.

I honestly haven’t been drinking (heavily), but I believe that Sunderland are worth a bet at home to Bolton. The Trotters lost away to Wigan in the Cup last week; they can’t be touched at odds on. The Mackems must be worth a small interest at 11/4; after all, Christmas is a time for miracles.

Thanks to Sky TV for allowing Soccer AM’s Helen Chamberlain to help out on their excellent darts coverage. Remember kids; a dog is for life, not just for Christmas.

The weekend specials follow a festive theme:

“Christmas cracker” – Wayne Rooney to score a hat-trick 16/1
“Carroll singing” – West Ham to keep a clean sheet 2/1
“Christmas pudding” – Emile Heskey to score two or more goals 12/1
“Ding Dong, merry Lee on high” – Bowyer to score with a header 16/1
“Ruud off, the Reds know pain dear” – Van Nistelrooy to be sent off 66/1

Quotes of the week:

“Birmingham have not won a trophy for err…I don’t think they’ve ever won a trophy.”
Alex ‘Rudolph’ Ferguson

“If you try and play football against Arsenal, they’ll beat you; we didn’t do that last week.”
Alan ‘Grumpy’ Shearer

“Paul Scholes is a fantastic midfielder, there’s not a weakness that he hasn’t got.”
Steve ‘Dopey’ Bruce

Stat, you’re a liberty:

The most boring team in Britain are…Liverpool. The matches involving the European Champions only average a total of 1.87 goals, the lowest figure in England & Scotland.

Acc of the week:

Last weeks accer romped in to pay for the Christmas beer, these beauties will get the New Years ale in. Back Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Newcastle and Blackburn, you’ll be paid out at 45/1.

Weekend Betting:

Charlton v Arsenal Monday 26th December 12.45 Live on Sky

Charlton 9/2
Draw 12/5
Arsenal 4/7

Get on: Arsenal

Arsenal murdered Charlton in both matches last season with Freddie scoring in both games. The Addicks have conceded 19 goals in their last 7 matches. The wounded Gunners will run riot.
Match Special:
Ljungberg to score the first goal 8/1

Chelsea v Fulham Monday 26th December 13.00

Chelsea 1/5
Draw 4/1
Fulham 11/1

Get on: Chelsea

Fulham are winless away from home all season; Chelsea haven’t conceded a goal in 11 _ hours of football. A safe home win.
Match Special:
Chelsea to win 2-0 11/2

Tottenham v Birmingham Monday 26th December 13.00

Tottenham 2/5
Draw 11/4
Birmingham 13/2

Get on: Tottenham

The Spurs have scored three goals in their last three games. The way Birmingham are playing, a 3-0 defeat will be a respectable result.
Match Special:
Tottenham to win 3-0 7/1

Liverpool v Newcastle Monday 26th December 15.00 Live on Premiership Plus

Liverpool 8/13
Draw 12/5
Newcastle 4/1

Get on: Newcastle

The Toon army have only lost one match when Michael Owen has played this season. He’ll be up for this one.
Match Special:
Michael Owen to score two or more goals 7/1

Man Utd v West Brom Monday 26th December 15.00

Man Utd 1/5
Draw 4/1
West Brom 11/1

Get on: Man Utd

Man U are 6-1-0 in their last 7 league matches. The Albion have not won on the road all season. Home banker.
Match Special:
Van Nistelrooy to score a hat-trick 12/1

Middlesbrough v Blackburn Monday 26th December 15.00

Middlesbrough 10/11
Draw 9/4
Blackburn 5/2

Get on: Blackburn

Blackburn strolled to victory in last weeks Cup tie, a repeat is definitely on the cards.
Match Special:
Kuqi to score the first goal 15/2

Portsmouth v West Ham Monday 26th December 15.00

Portsmouth 5/4
Draw 9/4
West Ham 7/4

Get on: Portsmouth

Harry faces West Ham for the first time since he left the club four years ago; with the Hammers leaking goals recently, a home win gets the nod.
Match Special:
Portsmouth to score in both halves 11/4

Sunderland v Bolton Monday 26th December 15.00

Sunderland 11/4
Draw 12/5
Bolton 4/5

Get on: Sunderland

The Mackems will win a home match this season…. possibly.
Match Special:
Sunderland to score two or more goals 5/2

Wigan v Man City Monday 26th December 15.00

Wigan 11/8
Draw 11/5
Man City 13/8

Get on: Wigan

Both teams are capable of playing great football; it’s what the Yanks call a pick-em. City have lost four of their last five away from home, I’ll edge towards Wigan.
Match Special:
Camara to score two or more goals 7/1

Aston Villa v Everton Monday 26th December 17.15 Live on Sky

Aston Villa Evs
Draw 2/1
Everton 5/2

Get on: Aston Villa

The good news: Steven Davis has signed a new contract at the Villa. The bad news: Van Der Meyde has been ruled out for Everton. The good news edges it.
Match Special:
Steven Davis to score at any time 4/1

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

World Cup - Niko Kranjcar's predictions

Kranjcar mete la pata:

Paraguay echara a Inglaterra!?

"Ronaldo sera la figura del Mundial, Barca pasara al Chelsea"

La estrella de la seleccion croata, Niko Kranjcar, ha realizado una prevision detallada sobre el Mundial, destacando a Brasil como el hexacampeon, Espana como campeona del grupo H y la eliminacion de Inglaterra por Suecia y Paraguay.

"Brasil es el favorito para conseguir un nuevo titulo y el puesto de Ronaldo en el equipo no esta en duda, apuesto a que sera otra vez el mejor jugador del mundo." - opina Kranjcar, a los 20 anos la figura de la Liga croata.

En cuanto a las selecciones europeas, Kranjcar tiene las cosas claras: - "Holanda es el mejor equipo europeo e Inglaterra, que cree que puede ir hasta el fin, ni siquiera pasara la primera ronda," - apunta el hijo del seleccionador croata, subrayando los nombres de Suecia y Paraguay como las selecciones del Grupo B que iran a los octavos de final.

Mientras que opina que del Grupo H progresaran Espana y Ucrania, pronostica otro exito del futbol espanol en los octavos de la Liga de campeones.
"El Chelsea juega el futbol mas pragmatico, pero siempre estoy a favor del Barcelona y adoro ver a Ronaldinho." - explica.

Tocando a la propia seleccion croata y sus posibilidades en el Grupo F, el mediapunta no se ha mordido la lengua.

"?Como alguien puede creer que Croacia y Japon estan al mismo nivel? Croacia esta muy por encima de Japon y de Australia." - ha concluido su prevision el joven jugador, emulando el optimismo de su padre, quien recientemente afirma que habria sido extrano si su seleccion hubiese de temer a Australia. Causando la comprensible ira entre los australianos.

op

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

World Cup 2002 Predictiions

Niko Kranjcar mete la pata:

Paraguay echara a Inglaterra!?

"Ronaldo sera la figura del Mundial, Barca pasara al Chelsea"

La estrella de la seleccion croata, Niko Kranjcar, ha realizado una prevision detallada sobre el Mundial, destacando a Brasil como el hexacampeon, Espana como campeona del grupo H y la eliminacion de Inglaterra por Suecia y Paraguay.

"Brasil es el favorito para conseguir un nuevo titulo y el puesto de Ronaldo en el equipo no esta en duda, apuesto a que sera otra vez el mejor jugador del mundo." - opina Kranjcar, a los 20 anos la figura de la Liga croata.

En cuanto a las selecciones europeas, Kranjcar tiene las cosas claras: - "Holanda es el mejor equipo europeo e Inglaterra, que cree que puede ir hasta el fin, ni siquiera pasara la primera ronda," - apunta el hijo del seleccionador croata, subrayando los nombres de Suecia y Paraguay como las selecciones del Grupo B que iran a los octavos de final.

Mientras que opina que del Grupo H progresaran Espana y Ucrania, pronostica otro exito del futbol espanol en los octavos de la Liga de campeones.
"El Chelsea juega el futbol mas pragmatico, pero siempre estoy a favor del Barcelona y adoro ver a Ronaldinho." - explica.

Tocando a la propia seleccion croata y sus posibilidades en el Grupo F, el mediapunta no se ha mordido la lengua.

"?Como alguien puede creer que Croacia y Japon estan al mismo nivel? Croacia esta muy por encima de Japon y de Australia." - ha concluido su prevision el joven jugador, emulando el optimismo de su padre, quien recientemente afirma que habria sido extrano si su seleccion hubiese de temer a Australia. Causando la comprensible ira entre los australianos.

Copyright Soccerphile

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World Club Championship – Part 5: Show me the way to go home

The Final: Liverpool V Sau Paulo – Yokohama

Final
Tragedy has struck – we’re not talking disaster in epic proportions of course, I’m not commenting on a terrorist strike or a tsunami; but merely a catastrophe within the context of world football. The heartbreaking tale I’m referring to is Liverpool’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to bring the World Club Championship to Merseyside for the first time. Last night the global crown eluded us once again as the Kings of Europe were subjected to a painful one-nil defeat at the hands of South Americans Champions, Sao Paulo. Victory for the Brazilians on a freezing night in Yokohama means that despite having won our own continental crown on five occasions, we’re still yet to lift the world title: a tragedy indeed.

Liverpool conceded the decisive goal on 27 minutes, when Mineiro coolly slotted home, following a well-executed move. It was the first time the watertight defence had been breached since Boa Morte’s strike in a league meeting with Fulham back in October. The proud record of eleven consecutive clean sheets is now confined to memory however, and more importantly, so is our dream for world domination …well, for a year at least. As with ‘that final’ in Istanbul, which saw Liverpool qualify for this inter-continental competition, the first half display was well below par. On this occasion however, it proved our undoing rather than our inspiration.

The Japanese Workforce

The Japanese Workforce


Sao Paulo on the other hand illustrated to the footballing world exactly why they are champions of South America, playing some breathtaking football in the opening period. With Costa Rican outfit Deportivo Saprissa having won the play-off for third place in the warm up game before the final, in front of a largely disinterested crowd, it is the Americas who have best acquitted themselves in this year’s tournament in Japan. Europe has failed to produce a King of Kings once again.

Liverpool were poor at best in the first half, with the Brazilians deserving of the advantage they took into the interval. In the second period however, Sao Paulo were virtually non existent, forced to desperately defend their slender lead. Liverpool spent the entire second half orchestrating wave after wave of attacks, bombarding the Sao Paulo goal from the first whistle until the last. As Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said after the game: “The first thing I can say is congratulations to my players as we deserved to win. We had 21 shots and 17 corners and hit the bar twice and scored three disallowed goals. We couldn't have done anymore to win.”


You can quote all the statistics in the world though, but the only one that matters is the final score line. One last glimpse at the scoreboard as the referee blew his whistle for a final time confirmed for me and the other 66,000 present that the game finished without us having equalised. Some of the decisions made by the officials may have been harsh, dubious, ridiculous, even scandalous …but the simply fact is that with refereeing judgments you’re as likely to be a beneficiary as a victim. We didn’t score so we deserved what we got: nothing.

Liverpool's failure to cancel out the Brazilian’s first half strike outlined our main areas of weakness in terms of personnel, emphasising in the cruelest of contexts, that despite being European Champions we still remain three or four short players of being a truly formidable side. With the transfer window just
around the corner, I can only hope this painful reminder will do more to convince the Liverpool management that further recruitment is required. Without it, it could be a while before I’m
back in Japan to see us do the job properly.


Making Friends with the Locals
Making Friends with the Locals


The Brazilians came in their droves to see their side secure a famous victory over the mighty Liverpool. I’d love to reflect warmly on them, and praise them for their gracious acceptance of the triumph, but sadly they were not the carnivalesque party-loving South Americans that the media love to portray them as. The vast majority instead seemed to represent more of the Barra Bravas school of football fandom. They set the tone for the evening; it was just a shame the Liverpool team couldn’t muster up a goal to put them in their place.

The song, “where’s your European Cups?” was one of many chants to have been lost on the boys from Brazil. Now Liverpool face a return to reality and the bread and butter of the English League Championship, with Newcastle and a certain Michael Owen to visit Anfield on Boxing Day. This is a club and indeed a player to whom the song in question will prove to be far more stinging. I for one can’t wait.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Socceroos Undeterred by Samba Kings

Socceroos Undeterred by Samba Kings.
Optimism must be running at an all time high for Australian football and this from a nation hardly short on sporting self-belief, writes Marc Fox.

Not even being grouped alongside Brazil, Japan and Croatia for next year's World Cup finals dampened the spirits of a football community right now riding the crest of a wave. Having dispatched FIFA-ranked 18th-placed Uruguay over two intriguing ties last month, who are 15th-ranked Japan and lowly 20th-ranked Croatia to stand in the Socceroos' way?

"Japan and Croatia are not among the world's top 10 teams and if we play to our strengths then we have a good chance of going through to the knockout stages," goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer told Melbourne newspaper The Age.

Meanwhile captain Mark Viduka went one further by suggesting a result against five-times world champions Brazil might be within reach.

"We have got to give ourselves a chance," Viduka told the Sydney Morning Herald after the draw. "I think we are a team that's up for a challenge and obviously our aim is to get to the next round.

"They (Brazil) are all world-class players and they have got the history and pedigree behind them, so it's going to be a great challenge for us. But we have played them before in other tournaments and done well."

And who can blame them?

Like the extravagant Leipzig ceremony on December 9, Australia has a Dutch magician of its own. And with super-coach Guus Hiddink steering the ship any trick appears possible. The tactician who has guided successive nations to the semi-finals stage feels certain the Socceroos have the raw materials to be able surprise either or both of Japan or Croatia.

"They taught me in Australia 'no worries mate' and sometimes I think it's too relaxed, but this team does not have many worries," Hiddink said from Leipzig after watching the draw unfold alongside Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira. "Brazil is a clear favourite, no doubt about it, and the other three are more or less equal and they will fight for the second position."

Avoiding an opening round clash with Brazil is a distinct advantage in the race of second. The Socceroos will face Japan first up in Kaiserslautern, a side Hiddink knows plenty about from his time in charge of South Korea. Home advantage in 2002 favoured the Japanese in proceeding from the group phase although they have undergone a period of change since under the tutelage of former Brazilian great Zico. Saying that, they lost just once in World Cup qualifying and have a number of players dotted around Europe.

The group-closing encounter with Croatia has thrown up a cauldron of stories regarding Australian-born defectors Joey Didulica, Ante Seric and Joe Simunic. The trio decided against representing Australia in favour of turning out for their motherland. Simunic, in particular, has proved a worthy acquisition and has already racked up 39 Croatian caps since his debut in 2001.

Out of the three group games, the deciding game with the Croats on June 22 will have the most spice. A win will not only erase the bitter memories of a 7-0 thumping in 1998 prior to Croatia finishing third at the France finals but surely guarantee progression to the knockout stage.

Just try finding any Australian football fan who believes that won't happen.

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

World Club Championship – Part 4: Football a la Everton


Sydney V Al Ahly – Tokyo

Match Preparations
Match Preparations


I don’t know who to pity more, the two clubs involved in last night’s laughable
contest – which was played out somewhat laboriously in Japan’s national stadium – or the fans who had paid to sit through it. The representatives of Oceania and Asia were playing their final game, with each bidding to avoid the label of the worst team in the competition. On the basis of this, it's a shame they couldn’t share title, for they both seemed worthy of such an accolade.

Even before the match got underway, you couldn’t help but think that surely no
good could have come of this game; for to lose serves as the ultimate humiliation, whilst victory barely elevates your position beyond such lowly status. As a consolation, at least we can guarantee next year’s event will not adopt the same cruel and saturated format. For if there’s one certainty with any competition organised by FIFA, it’s that change is regular and inevitable – they like to remind us exactly who’s in the driving seat of world football.

The FIFA Flame
The FIFA Flame


It was a bitterly cold evening in North West Tokyo, with the vast majority of spectators present evidently requiring little more than a metro to transport them from their home to the stadium. Those who had traveled from Egypt were unquestionably outnumbered by the playing staff they came to support; whilst the only Australians on show appeared to be the small band of nuggets who clearly think the chant “let’s go Sydney, let’s go” is acceptable at a football match.

The Japanese contingent scattered around the ground filled roughly a quarter of the 45-odd thousand seats (yeah, I know what you’re thinking …I’ve done my research). They appeared unconcerned with the distinctly apparent lack of quality and desire from the players on the pitch, seemingly content with the fact that they were afforded the opportunity to see one of their national heroes Kazu, together with Dwight Yorke, both of whom were playing for Sydney. The local fan base went delirious when the latter opened the scoring, with the former Aston Villa and Man United striker finding the net ten minutes before the interval, momentarily breaking the monotony.

Dwight Yorke... Row Z
Dwight Yorke... Row Z


With the African champions responding with a goal of their own on the stroke of half-time to even the scores, some may argue that you could have been forgiven for thinking the game had some life in it. This highly subjective observer would of course not have been so merciful. Make no mistake, this was one woeful game of football, which in truth you could have predicted having seen the ‘warm ups’ of the respective teams. They might as well have had a quick ciggy followed by a quick game of ‘red arse’ (a highly technical game that originated in Liverpool, which involves severe and hilarious punishment for under-par performance). The match was so bad in fact that I won’t even bother naming the Al Al goal scorer. Let’s just say his name was Mohammad …er Cairo. No, wait, that’s too obvious, let’s go for Mustapha Nile.

The second period of this inspiring encounter was equally electrifying, notable only for the fact that one of the Australians, who went by the name of Carney, grabbed his moment of fame by striking a second and ultimately decisive goal for Sydney. Now this might be a World Championship, with equal opportunity with regards to continental representation the order of the day; however I think the Ozzies should stick to what they do best. I won’t name these characteristics however, for I’m fiercely opposed to stereotypes. According to the official match programme though, “football is on the rise in the land of rugby and cricket.” On the basis of this performance, I see little evidence of that. You would expect more from a team of such history and tradition to be honest. They were founded back in 2005 after all.

As for the Egyptians, well, despite a decent local record, as with all teams nicknamed ‘The Red Devils’ they came equipped with customary delusions of grandeur – and as with their more famous compatriots, when reaching a level of competition that actually counts for something, they get exposed for what they really are, which in this case was the weakest team in the competition. What is more, any team that loses to Sydney really needs to rethink their very involvement in the sport. I’ve made the mistake of watching them once, and if the chance came about to witness a repeat performance, well in the words of Bill Shankly, “If they were playing at the bottom of the garden, I’d shut the curtains.”

Japanese Fans
Japanese Fans

Friday, December 16, 2005

World Club Champs Part 3: So Japaneasy

saprissa
Liverpool V Saprissa - Yokohama

I must say that it was very charitable of the Costa Rican champions to travel all the way to Japan, just to provide Liverpool with some shooting practice in what was the European Champions’ final training session before Sunday's game, which will decide who really is the greatest team on the planet.

On the face of last night’s semi-final, the winners of the continental title staged by CONCACAF ( - apparently an abbreviation) would in truth not look out of place in the English Conference Division; and save for a few moments in the concluding stages of the game, rarely looked a side capable of scoring against the might of Merseyside. Not that notching against the tightest defence in Europe represents an easy task, of course. Liverpool’s resolute back five has now not been breached in eleven competitive games on the spin, surpassing the previous record of ten consecutive clean sheets set by Kenny Dalglish’s championship winning side of 1988.

Unbelievably, the side to clinch the record last night included full backs Traore and Josemi. When it comes to those two lunatics, hapless isn’t the word. The pair are simply a liability. We even toyed with the Central Americans by taking off influential centre-half Sami Hyypia before the end. By this time of course the match had been well and truly sewn up.

Liverpool started the game as though they meant business, with a well struck shot from that lean mean goal machine Peter Crouch helping secure a lead inside three minutes. The eight-foot-fourteen striker was impressive in a collectively commanding first half display, and could have added to his tally on numerous occasions, before El Capitano eventually did double Liverpool’s lead on thirty-two minutes, with a well-taken goal of his own. Without ever exerting any real effort, the Liverpool skipper completely ran the show, and the Purple Monsters looked in awe both of him and of the occasion for most of the first half.

Two thousand Scousers have made the trip over to Japan, and the loyal supporters were rewarded again in the second period with a second Peter Crouch goal just before the hour mark. The lads back home must have been throwing their English breakfasts in the air, as Crouch scored two in a game for the first time since his arrival at Liverpool. Although we willed him to get his hatrick, that elusive goal never came his way.

tokyo

The Kings of Europe were never really threatened by the team referred to as ‘the other Costa Rica’ (due to the number of internationals in the side), whose passing game was reminiscent of that of Everton’s under managers Harvey, Walker, Kendall, Royle, Smith and Moyes. As Liverpool eased to victory, the words “this is so Japaneasy” boomed around the stadium from the traveling support, who are as cocky as Benitez is humble.

We all know that Sunday's final showdown against Sau Paulo however, is sure to be the biggest test of that water-tight Liverpool defence the Liverpool manager has developed, since the league meeting with Chelsea earlier in the season. Let’s just hope we send the Brazilians home with their tale between their legs. For Liverpool have lost two of these finals to opponents from the Americas, and Rafa’s reds haven’t made the six-thousand mile round trip to see us make it three in a row. Surely, the time has come for the global crown to make its way to Anfield at long last.

*****
Champions League Draw

Chelsea v Barcelona
Real Madrid v Arsenal
Werder Bremen v Juventus
Bayern Munich v AC Milan
PSV Eindhoven v Lyon
Ajax v Inter Milan
Benfica v Liverpool
Rangers v Villarreal

(Matches to be played February 21/22 and March 7/8)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Wenger Boys vs. Michael Hackson

Jose Mourinho is like Marmite, his adverts are very annoying. Arsene Wenger is certainly not a lover of the special one, he threatened to sue Jose for an outrageous ‘voyeur’ slur earlier in the year, Mourinho retaliated by threatening to whip out his dossier. With clear animosity between the managers, Arsenal v Chelsea is a potential cracker.

Over the last few weeks, Arsenal have shown that they lack the necessary mental fortitude to compete effectively when the opposition are aggressive in the tackle, or to put it another way, they don’t like it up ‘em. The soft belly of the Gunners will face the ultimate test when they go head to head with Chelsea playmaker and part-time kneecap collector Michael Essien. Tough tackling will win it for Chelsea, an 11/8 steal.

Elsewhere on the coupon, Blackburn look a sound investment at 15/8 to take all three points from the Cottage. Fulham are in danger of dropping into the relegation shake-up, Robbie Savage is in danger of just being dropped.

The hairy Welshman has always excelled at winding up fellow professionals, but until last weekend it was only opposition players on the verge of laying him out. The only surprising element of ‘Caravangate’ was that Robbie didn’t roll on the floor to try and get his goal-keeper sent off. The always popular Savage is a 20/1 shot to receive a long overdue red card against Fulham; it’s 6/4 he goes in the book.

Alex Ferguson petulantly walked out of a press conference this week, adding fuel to the rumour that this will be his last season in the Old Trafford hot seat. I’d like to suggest David Blunkett as a potential replacement; he can hold a lead in Europe. United destroyed Wigan in midweek, they’re 8/11 against a Villa team without Mellberg and with Ridgewell. Fill your winter boots.

It’s ironic that in the week that the name Thatcher was back in the news, a Cole-man was sent off. Andy’s dismissal means that Darius Vassell leads the line for Man City against Birmingham, the ex Villan is worth an interest at 5/1 to open the scoring. Manchester City have been up and down like Peter Crouch in a house with reasonably sized door frames recently, but are a confident selection at 8/11.

Harry Redknapp claims he wouldn’t know how to place a bet online, I’ve glanced at a few of his betting previews, he’s a lucky man. Some believe that Harry’s magic will save Pompey from the drop, unless they’re referring to Harry Potter, I’d have to disagree. The in form Baggies should be backed at 2/1.

The weekend specials may ring a bell.

“Va Va Voom” – Thierry Henry to score two or more goals 6/1
“Nick Cole” – Joe Cole to be booked 7/4
“Papa” – Boupa Diop to score with a header 10/1
“The cream of Manchester” – United to score more than City 13/10
“They're tasty, tasty, very very tasty” – Blackburn to have a player sent off 6/1
“Once you pop, you can’t stop” – Essien to be sent off 25/1

Quote of the week:

“They all think Wayne’s this big fat person who eats burgers every day, which he’s not, and I don’t know where they get it from. It really does my head in because people really believe that. His favourite food is lettuce. He errrrr, loves salad.”

Coleen McLoughlin spills the peas.

Stat, you’re a liberty:

The last time Manchester United kept a clean sheet away from home was……September.

Acc of the week:

Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea and a Middlesbrough draw make up the weekend accer, it pays over 20/1.

Weekend Betting:

Aston Villa v Man Utd Saturday 17th December 12.45 Live on Premiership Plus

Aston Villa 10/3
Draw 9/4
Man Utd 8/11

Get on: Man Utd

United in crisis? They’ve won five of their last six matches in the league, the other was a draw. Away banker.
Match Special:
Van Nistelrooy to score a hat-trick 16/1

Everton v Bolton Saturday 17th December 15.00

Everton 6/5
Draw 9/4
Bolton 9/5

Get on: Everton

Everton are the undisputed Kings of the 1-0, they’ve bagged five already, here comes number six.
Match Special:
Everton to win 1-0 6/1

Fulham v Blackburn Saturday 17th December 15.00

Fulham 6/5
Draw 11/5
Blackburn 15/8

Get on: Blackburn

Blackburn have won on their last three visits to the Cottage, scoring 10 goals in the process. 15/8 appeals.
Match Special:
Paul Dickov to score two or more goals 10/1

Portsmouth v West Brom Saturday 17th December 15.00

Portsmouth 11/10
Draw 9/4
West Brom 2/1

Get on: West Brom
It’s five straight defeats for Portsmouth, the Albion are undefeated in four. The Baggies have won six of their last seven matches against Pompey, it’s an away win.
Match Special:
Kanu to score at any time 9/4

West Ham v Newcastle Saturday 17th December 15.00

West Ham 11/8
Draw 11/5
Newcastle 13/8

Get on: West Ham

The Toon Army struggle at Upton Park, in their last five visits, they’ve earned one point. Man Utd are the only team to take three points off the Hammers at Upton Park since August. Home win.
Match Special:
Harewood and Zamora both to score 10/1

Wigan v Charlton Saturday 17th December 15.00

Wigan 6/5
Draw 9/4
Charlton 9/5

Get on: Charlton

With both teams struggling for form, Charlton get a tentative nod. Darren Bent scored the winner against Wigan when on fire earlier in the season, he’s heating up again.
Match Special:
Darren Bent to score the only goal of the game 33/1

Man City v Birmingham Saturday 17th December 17.15 Live on Premiership Plus

Man City 8/11
Draw 9/4
Birmingham 10/3

Get on: Man City

Psycho’s men haven’t scored at home since Halloween, a frightening statistic. It won’t be a thriller.
Match Special:
Man City to win 1-0 6/1

Middlesbrough v Tottenham Sunday 18th December 13.30 Live on Sky

Middlesbrough 6/4
Draw 11/5
Tottenham 6/4

Get on: Draw

Spurs don’t like it by the Riverside; they have to go back to 1996 to find a winning trip. Boro are gaining consistency, from their last six matches at home, they’ve won four and drawn two. Spurs are also in good nick, they’ve scored eight goals in their last three games. It’s a draw.
Match Special:
Match to finish 2-2 14/1

Arsenal v Chelsea Sunday 18th December 16.00 Live on Sky

Arsenal 13/8
Draw 11/5
Chelsea 11/8

Get on: Chelsea

It’s nearly 15 years since Chelsea won a league match at Highbury. That long wait is nearly over.
Match Special:
Chelsea to keep a clean sheet 7/4

World Club Championship – Part 2: Taking to Tokyo

World Club Championship – Part 2: Taking to Tokyo

With sunrise still a good two hours away, resisting every natural urge, I grabbed my bag and headed out the front door and into the blistering cold. The strong wind coming off the Mersey was particularly harsh, with my breath about the only thing that was visible in the foggy street, as I made my way down Leeds Street towards Scottie Road. Mind you, my eyes were barely open – I was beginning to regret returning to base at 2am, not to mention forgetting to pack before going out the evening before. Thankfully the early morning walk required minimal concentration. It was a familiar trek I was embarking upon, one that accompanies most match days when Liverpool are at home. This time however I was off to see the Champions of Europe play away, and I’m not talking across the park to Everton.

As I approached the junction I saw a taxi with its vacancy light on hurtling towards me, and so I signaled for the driver to stop. He couldn’t miss me, for there was only the two of us on the road. Having narrowly avoided the experience of seeing my toes get run over by the mad jockey in question, I flung the door open, and threw my bag inside. The conversation that followed went something like this:

Cabby: Where to lad?
Soft lad: Tokyo please mate.
Cabby: Ha, Manny airport then yeah?
Soft lad: Yeah I suppose so. Ryan Air from Liverpool still won’t take you past the Baltics.
Cabby: You Liverpool fans are nuts, I’ll give you that.

I took that final remark as a compliment, on both a personal and collective level, and we spent the next half hour talking about Liverpool’s defence (with ten clean sheets on the bounce) and our chances of winning the World Club Championship, which I was traveling to Japan to see us compete in. He was a blue however, and so having wished me good luck after dropping me at Terminal 2, his final comment was “hope you go out in the semi.” He then laughed and sped off for a day working the streets of Liverpool. I thought about ripping him back, but I didn’t have the heart to in the end. Everton do that to themselves with their consistently laughable displays. Anyway what did I have to be bitter about? As I bordered plane number one for Paris, I knew the day ahead would see me flying over Mount Fuji before pulling in at my final destination. Next stop: Tokyo.

Half a dozen films and a couple of rounds of sushi later, we finally landed in the Japanese capital. Just as I was considering how sweet life was however, I hit my first hitch. I could still hear the blue-nose cabby’s laughter ringing in my ear as I discovered my bag was still in Paris. It comes to something when you start missing the Ryan Air service, I can tell you. So in the knowledge that it would be at least a day before I would be reunited with my luggage I headed to Ginza, renowned as the finest shopping district in the city, to pick up some emergency replacement items. The spending excursion didn’t last very long though, for having notched up a whole four hours sleep from a possible forty; I was in need of a little energy boost. And so, I find myself in this coffee shop, from where I am journaling my experiences thus far – and just as my brain was beginning to wonder why it’s not 4am but mid-afternoon, it duly forgot its considerable functioning problems and switched its attentions to the three stunning Japanese girls who I am currently sat opposite. In truth this was the real reason for stopping off. They are probably employed to sit in that window and look lovely. If there aren’t, they should be.

Shall I claim to be on business or pleasure when I coolly ask for their advice as to what to order from the menu? Actually, on second thoughts, I can only speak about six words in Japanese, and my ignorance is bound to do me no favours if they can’t speak English. If that doesn’t do the trick, then the fact that I look like death probably will. I think I’ll return to the real world; have a coffee and leave these impeccably presented Tokyo ladies to their day, a gentlemanly act that I will regret in about ten minutes time no doubt. It could have been quite a story for the lads back home. Note to self: learn Japanese …it looks easy enough after all.

Turning my thoughts to what remains of the afternoon, I suppose I should try and locate my accommodation before it goes dark. So next up it’s back on the Marunouchi line on the Tokyo underground in search of a place with a name that has more vowels than we’ve won European Cups. Yeah, that many. Hopefully that should lead me to the apartment where I’ll be based for the week, covering Liverpool’s attempt to – as our legendary centre-half Sami Hyypia said the other night – “rightly claim to be the best side in the world.” No wonder the blues are bitter. Wouldn’t you be?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sydney FC v Deportivo Saprissa

Sydney FC v Deportivo Saprissa

On a freezing night at Toyota Stadium, Costa Rica's Deportivo Saprissa defeated Sydney FC 1-0 in an a match that did little to raise the temperature of the subdued 28,503 crowd.

Sydney FC v Deportivo Saprissa, Toyota Stadium

Christian Bolanos scored in the 47th minute for the CONCACAF champions from a long ball from defence and the Costa Ricans could easily have extended their lead on the counter as Sydney desperately pushed for an equalizer in the closing stages.

Sydney's task was made all the harder when defender Alvin Ceccoli was sent off with ten minutes to go for an adjudged elbow on the Saprissa goalkeeper. Dwight Yorke attempted to pull the strings from a deep-lying midfield position for Sydney but lacked support from his team-mates in an uninspired and one-paced midfield.

Kazu

FC Sydney's Kazu Miura failed to make much of an impression in front of his home fans and Saprissa will now take on European Champions Liverpool in Yokohama on Thursday.

Germany World Cup 2006 Tickets

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Qualification Highlights WC2006

Soccerphile World Cup Blog

Best of the Qualifying Stage

Najznacajniji trenuci kvalifikacija za Svjetsko prvenstvo 2006.

Kvalifikacije za Weltmeisterschaft u Njemackoj su za nama, ali nece biti zaboravljene. Iznenadjenja, preokreta, incidenata i sudackih previda bilo je dovoljno i za najistancanije ukuse: prvi uspjeh Ukrajine, portugalska "sedmica" Rusiji, engleski poraz kod Sjeverne Irske,
tucnjava u Istambulu, uspon Lihtenstajna, katastrofa Kameruna i napokon ostvarena nadanja Australije...

EUROPA

Skupina 1

Velika Van Bastenova serija

Trostruki osvajac europske Zlatne lopte, Marco van Basten, bio je wunderkind kao igrac, a u kvalifikacijama za Svjetsko prvenstvo pokazao se i kao darovit trener. Izabravsi niz manje poznatih igraca iz nizozemskog prvenstva ostvario je 10 pobjeda u prvih 11 utakmica, a drugi je nerijeseni zabiljezio u zadnjem kolu protiv Makedonije, kad je njegova momcad vec bila sigurno prva u skupini. Njegovi protivnici kazu da je kroz citave kvalifikacije imao i mnogo srece, no mi mu nemamo sto zamjeriti: zahvaljujuci pobjedi Nizozemske u Pragu 8. listopada i Hrvatska je mogla proslaviti proboj u Njemacku, cetiri dana prije no sto smo ocekivali.


Armenija zapanjila Rumunjsku

Bio je 17. studenog 2004. kad je Rumunjska do?la na prag eliminacije na terenu na kojemu se najmanje nadala te?ko?ama: u Jerevanu. Gosti su zapo?eli po planu, vode?im pogotkom Cipriana Marice, no Armenija im je pomrsila planove izjedna?iv?i posredstvom Dorhoyana u 62. minuti. Od tog su trenutka Rumunji zaostali u trci za Nizozemskom i ?e?kom...i nikad se nisu vratili na kolosijek.

U ovoj je skupini pothvat izvela i Andorra, svladav?i Makedoniju s 1:0, tako?er u po?etku natjecanja.


Skupina 2

Adio, Gr?ka

Va?eg novinara nije zbunila pobjeda Grka na Europskom prvenstvu 2004. Prognoza je glasila: "Ne?e se plasirati na Svjetsko prvenstvo. Potro?ili su sre?u za idu?ih 100 godina."
Ve? 9. rujna 2004., Gr?ka je posrnula kod Albanije u Tirani s 1:2. Edvin Murati i Adrian Aliaj pogocima u prvih 11 minuta vratili su Grke tamo gdje spadaju, u europsku osrednjost.

Danska je 8. listopada ove godine, pobjedom od 1:0 u Kopenhagenu, i kona?no zaustavila euro-prvake na putu u Njema?ku. No, i sama je Danska po?inila grijeh, koji ju je kona?no stajao plasmana: 17. studenog pro?le godine odigrala je samo 2:2 u Gruziji i zaostala za odlu?uju?i korak u trci s Ukrajinom i Turskom.

Napokon Ukrajina

Tri je puta Ukrajina ispadala u dodatnim kvalifikacijama: 1997. od Hrvatske s 0:2 i 1:1, 1999. od Slovenije s 1:2 i 1:1 te 2001. protiv Njema?ke s 1:1 i 1:4. Napokon ?e se i ?ev?enko pojaviti na jednom velikom natjecanju. Ne mo?emo re?i da nije zaslu?io.


Skupina 3

Lihten?tajn zaustavio Portugal!

Portugal je europski doprvak i priznata velesila svjetskog nogometa, no skauti Luiza Felipea Scolarija nisu kvalitetno snimili igru sile u nastajanju - Lihten?tajna. Mora da su Portugalci 9. listopada 2004. o?ekivali sigurna tri boda, osobito nakon ?to su nezaobilazni Pedro Pauleta i doma?i igra? Daniel Hasler u prvom poluvremenu postigli 0:2. No, nakon odmora Lihten?tajn je pokazao pravo lice i izjedna?io golovima Burgmeiera i Becka.

I godinu dana kasnije momci iz minijaturne kne?evine namu?ili su Portugal, izvukav?i u Lisabonu ?asnih 1:2 nakon vodstva od 1:0 do kraja prvog dijela!

Sedmica u ruskoj mre?i

Ako nije mogao svladati Lihten?tajn, Portugal se u punoj formi pokazao samo ?etiri dana kasnije protiv Rusije, svladav?i je sa 7:1, uz po dva pogotka Cristiana Ronalda i Petita te po jednim Paulete, Deca i Simaa.


Skupina 4

Nepora?eni Izrael tek tre?i

Niti niz od 10 utakmica bez poraza nije pomogao Izraelu da se izbori barem za dodatne kvalifikacije. Hrabra je bliskoisto?na mom?ad, u nastojanju da se domogne prvog nastupa na Mundialu od 1970., ostala nepora?ena i u Francuskoj i u ?vicarskoj i u Irskoj, no svoje suparnike nije uspjela svladati ni kod ku?e. Minimalne pobjede nad Ciprom i Farskim otocima zadr?ale su Izraelce na tre?em mjestu, s istim brojem bodova kao ?vicarska i s dva manje od Francuske. Mo?da im je za odlu?uju?i korak nedostajao jedan - Giovanni Rosso?

Skupina 5

Slovenci frustrirali Italiju

Italija je velesila, Slovenija je mom?ad obi?nih radnika, no taj odnos snaga nije bio vi?en u Celju u dvoboju susjeda. Slovenija ne samo da nije bila nadigrana, ve? je pobijedila s 1:0, golom glavom tada?njeg Dinamovca Bo?tjana Cesara. Na koncu ?e Italija, dakako, zauzeti prvo mjesto, no "Janezi" ?e se uvijek mo?i tje?iti da su nadma?ili mom?ad 25 puta ve?e dr?ave trostrukih svjetskih prvaka.

Skupina 6

Sjeverna Irska stekla nezavisnost!

Engleska je po nekima favorit Svjetskog prvenstva. Odu?evila je promatra?e pobjedom nad Argentinom u nedavnoj prijateljskoj utakmici. No, u kvalifikacijama ne samo da nije odu?evila, ve? je razjarila vlastite navija?e i, ponekad, nasmijala neutralce. Poraz od vrlo slabe Sjeverne Irske s 0:1 9. rujna ove godine, dok jo? nije osigurala mjesto na Mundialu, naveo je engleski dio publike na skandiranje, "Sack the Swede" (Maknite ?ve?u). Uslijedila je na jedvite jade izborena pobjeda protiv Austrije, iz jedanaesterca i s igra?em manje nakon isklju?enja Beckhama.

Austrijanci u "ekstazi"

Na?im dragim prijateljima i vodi?ima u Europsku uniju naprosto ne ide: Azerbajd?an-Austrija 0:0. Ako ni?ta drugo, u ovim kvalifikacijama Austrijanci nisu "popili" devet pogodaka kao koncem devedesetih od ?panjolske.


Skupina 7

?panjolska u milosti mo?nih

Ve? je u Zenici BiH pokazala da je u stanju nositi se s razvikanom ?panjolskom. Bilo je 1:1. U drugom krugu natjecanja, u Valenciji, 8. lipnja ove godine, Bosanci su vodili s 1:0 pogotkom Mi?imovi?a od 38. minute i taj rezultat dr?ali do 90. minute. I do 92. I do 94. I do 96. No, do pobjede nisu do?li, jer je Marchena ugurao loptu u mre?u kad je ve? po?ela 97. minuta, preciznije 52. minuta drugog poluvremena. Engleski sudac Bennett imao je poseban do?ivljaj dimenzije vremena, a prethodno je isklju?io i dva bosanska igra?a. Uzalud su se Bosanci bunili, jer ta dva klju?na izgubljena boda vi?e nisu mogli nadoknaditi.

I u doigravanju, ?panjolska je imala kvalitetno su?enje. Pobjeda od 5:1 protiv Slova?ke bila je jednako realna kao i nedavni uspjeh njihove ko?arka?ke reprezentacije nad Hrvatskom na Euru u Beogradu.

Skupina 8

Mjuzikl u La Valetti: "Malta, Malta"

Hrvatska je dvaput pobijedila ?vedsku, koja jako, jako rijetko gubi u kvalifikacijama. Ali, Hrvatska je samo jednom tukla Maltu. U Zagrebu. U La Valetti 7. rujna 2005. bilo je te?ko, 1:1. Nakon vodstva golom Nike Kranj?ara, Vatreni su posustali i u 74. minuti primili pogodak direktno iz slobodnjaka. Steve Wellmann zabio je s 30 metara, "kroz u?i" Stipe Pletikose.

Ako je reprezentacija posrnula, nisu i hrvatski navija?i. Na tribinama Ta'Qalija izveli su veli?anstveni spektakl, svladav?i brojna plasti?na sjedala i susjedne navija?e, te hrabro se boriv?i protiv doma?e policije. Sto je Hrvata potom osu?eno za prekr?aj i deportirano, uz molbu da se neko vrijeme ne vra?aju na Maltu.


Majstorija Ibrahimovi?a

Ne mora nam se svi?ati Zlatan Ibrahimovi? kao tip, ali kao nogometa? je "broj 1", ili negdje blizu tog mjesta. Pogodak Ma?arskoj u suda?koj nadoknadi bio je remek djelo nogometnog genija. Suhi dribling u kaznenom prostoru i bomba, iz o?trog kuta, pod pre?ku Gabora Kiralyja.


DODATNE KVALIFIKACIJE

Istambul, opasan grad

Turska je tre?eplasirana nacija s pro?log Svjetskog prvenstva, no ne?e braniti broncu iz Japana i Koreje. U razigravanju sa ?vicarskom nedostajao joj je gol za prolaz. Alpinci su kod ku?e slavili s 2:0, Turci su uzvratili s 4:2. Uzbudljivo je bilo na travnjaku, jo? uzbudljivije na putu prema svla?ionicama. ?vicarci ka?u da su dobili batina te da su ih udarali ne samo doma?i igra?i ve? i redari. FIFA-ina je istraga u tijeku, a Turskoj prijeti drasti?na kazna. Govorka se i o isklju?enju s idu?eg Mundiala, no tako drasti?na valjda ne?e biti. Neka im se naredi da igraju doma?e - u Gr?koj. To bi im bila dovoljno o?tra kazna.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

World Cup Qualification Highlights

Best of the Qualifying Stage

Najznačajniji trenuci kvalifikacija za Svjetsko prvenstvo 2006.

Kvalifikacije za Weltmeisterschaft u Njemačkoj su za nama, ali neće biti zaboravljene. Iznenadjenja, preokreta, incidenata i sudačkih previda bilo je dovoljno i za najistančanije ukuse: prvi uspjeh Ukrajine, portugalska "sedmica" Rusiji, engleski poraz kod Sjeverne Irske,
tučnjava u Istanbulu, uspon Lihtenštajna, katastrofa Kameruna i napokon ostvarena nadanja Australije...

EUROPA

Skupina 1

Velika Van Bastenova serija

Trostruki osvajač europske Zlatne lopte, Marco van Basten, bio je wunderkind kao igrač, a u kvalifikacijama za Svjetsko prvenstvo pokazao se i kao darovit trener. Izabravši niz manje poznatih igrača iz nizozemskog prvenstva ostvario je 10 pobjeda u prvih 11 utakmica, a drugi je neriješeni zabilježio u zadnjem kolu protiv Makedonije, kad je njegova momčad već bila sigurno prva u skupini. Njegovi protivnici kažu da je kroz čitave kvalifikacije imao i mnogo sreće, no mi mu nemamo sto zamjeriti: zahvaljujući pobjedi Nizozemske u Pragu 8. listopada i Hrvatska je mogla proslaviti proboj u Njemačku, četiri dana prije no sto smo očekivali.


Armenija zapanjila Rumunjsku

Bio je 17. studenog 2004. kad je Rumunjska došla na prag eliminacije na terenu na kojemu se najmanje nadala teškoćama: u Jerevanu. Gosti su započeli po planu, vodećim pogotkom Cipriana Marice, no Armenija im je pomrsila planove izjednačivši posredstvom Dorhoyana u 62. minuti. Od tog su trenutka Rumunji zaostali u trci za Nizozemskom i češkom...i nikad se nisu vratili na kolosijek.

U ovoj je skupini pothvat izvela i Andorra, svladavši Makedoniju s 1:0, također u početku natjecanja.


Skupina 2

Adio, Grčka

Vašeg novinara nije zbunila pobjeda Grka na Europskom prvenstvu 2004. Prognoza je glasila: "Neće se plasirati na Svjetsko prvenstvo. Potrošili su sreću za idućih 100 godina."
Već 9. rujna 2004., Grčka je posrnula kod Albanije u Tirani s 1:2. Edvin Murati i Adrian Aliaj pogocima u prvih 11 minuta vratili su Grke tamo gdje spadaju, u europsku osrednjost.

Danska je 8. listopada ove godine, pobjedom od 1:0 u Kopenhagenu, i konačno zaustavila euro-prvake na putu u Njemačku. No, i sama je Danska počinila grijeh, koji ju je konačno stajao plasmana: 17. studenog prošle godine odigrala je samo 2:2 u Gruziji i zaostala za odlučujući korak u trci s Ukrajinom i Turskom.

Napokon Ukrajina

Tri je puta Ukrajina ispadala u dodatnim kvalifikacijama: 1997. od Hrvatske s 0:2 i 1:1, 1999. od Slovenije s 1:2 i 1:1 te 2001. protiv Njemačke s 1:1 i 1:4. Napokon će se i Ševčenko pojaviti na jednom velikom natjecanju. Ne možemo reći da nije zaslužio.


Skupina 3

Lihtenštajn zaustavio Portugal!

Portugal je europski doprvak i priznata velesila svjetskog nogometa, no skauti Luiza Felipea Scolarija nisu kvalitetno snimili igru sile u nastajanju - Lihtenštajna. Mora da su Portugalci 9. listopada 2004. očekivali sigurna tri boda, osobito nakon što su nezaobilazni Pedro Pauleta i domaši igraš Daniel Hasler u prvom poluvremenu postigli 0:2. No, nakon odmora Lihtenštajn je pokazao pravo lice i izjednačio golovima Burgmeiera i Becka.

I godinu dana kasnije momci iz minijaturne kneževine namučili su Portugal, izvukavši u Lisabonu časnih 1:2 nakon vodstva od 1:0 do kraja prvog dijela!

Sedmica u ruskoj mreži

Ako nije mogao svladati Lihtenštajn, Portugal se u punoj formi pokazao samo četiri dana kasnije protiv Rusije, svladavši je sa 7:1, uz po dva pogotka Cristiana Ronaldo i Petita te po jednim Paulete, Deca i Simaa.


Skupina 4

Neporaženi Izrael tek treći

Niti niz od 10 utakmica bez poraza nije pomogao Izraelu da se izbori barem za dodatne kvalifikacije. Hrabra je bliskoistočna momčad, u nastojanju da se domogne prvog nastupa na Mundialu od 1970., ostala neporažena i u Francuskoj i u švicarskoj i u Irskoj, no svoje suparnike nije uspjela svladati ni kod kuće. Minimalne pobjede nad Ciprom i Farskim otocima zadržale su Izraelce na trećem mjestu, s istim brojem bodova kao švicarska i s dva manje od Francuske. Možda im je za odlučujući korak nedostajao jedan - Giovanni Rosso?

Skupina 5

Slovenci frustrirali Italiju

Italija je velesila, Slovenija je momčad običnih radnika, no taj odnos snaga nije bio viđen u Celju u dvoboju susjeda. Slovenija ne samo da nije bila nadigrana, već je pobijedila s 1:0, golom glavom tadašnjeg Dinamovca Boštjana Cesara. Na koncu će Italija, dakako, zauzeti prvo mjesto, no "Janezi" će se uvijek moći tješiti da su nadmašili momčad 25 puta veće države trostrukih svjetskih prvaka.

Skupina 6

Sjeverna Irska stekla nezavisnost!

Engleska je po nekima favorit Svjetskog prvenstva. Oduševila je promatraše pobjedom nad Argentinom u nedavnoj prijateljskoj utakmici. No, u kvalifikacijama ne samo da nije oduševila, već je razjarila vlastite navijaše i, ponekad, nasmijala neutralce. Poraz od vrlo slabe Sjeverne Irske s 0:1 9. rujna ove godine, dok još nije osigurala mjesto na Mundialu, naveo je engleski dio publike na skandiranje, "Sack the Swede" (Maknite Šveđu). Uslijedila je na jedvite jade izborena pobjeda protiv Austrije, iz jedanaesterca i s igračem manje nakon isključenja Beckhama.

Austrijanci u "ekstazi"

Našim dragim prijateljima i vodičima u Europsku uniju naprosto ne ide: Azerbajdžan-Austrija 0:0. Ako ništa drugo, u ovim kvalifikacijama Austrijanci nisu "popili" devet pogodaka kao koncem devedesetih od španjolske.


Skupina 7

španjolska u milosti moćnih

Već je u Zenici BiH pokazala da je u stanju nositi se s razvikanom španjolskom. Bilo je 1:1. U drugom krugu natjecanja, u Valenciji, 8. lipnja ove godine, Bosanci su vodili s 1:0 pogotkom Mišimovića od 38. minute i taj rezultat držali do 90. minute. I do 92. I do 94. I do 96. No, do pobjede nisu došli, jer je Marchena ugurao loptu u mrežu kad je već počela 97. minuta, preciznije 52. minuta drugog poluvremena. Engleski sudac Bennett imao je poseban doživljaj dimenzije vremena, a prethodno je isključio i dva bosanska igrača. Uzalud su se Bosanci bunili, jer ta dva ključna izgubljena boda više nisu mogli nadoknaditi.

I u doigravanju, španjolska je imala kvalitetno sušenje. Pobjeda od 5:1 protiv Slovačke bila je jednako realna kao i nedavni uspjeh njihove košarkaške reprezentacije nad Hrvatskom na Euru u Beogradu.

Skupina 8

Mjuzikl u La Valetti: "Malta, Malta"

Hrvatska je dvaput pobijedila švedsku, koja jako, jako rijetko gubi u kvalifikacijama. Ali, Hrvatska je samo jednom tukla Maltu. U Zagrebu. U La Valetti 7. rujna 2005. bilo je teško, 1:1. Nakon vodstva golom Nike Kranjčara, Vatreni su posustali i u 74. minuti primili pogodak direktno iz slobodnjaka. Steve Wellmann zabio je s 30 metara, "kroz uši" Stipe Pletikose.

Ako je reprezentacija posrnula, nisu i hrvatski navijači. Na tribinama Ta'Qalija izveli su veličanstveni spektakl, svladavši brojna plastična sjedala i susjedne navijaše, te hrabro se borivši protiv domaše policije. Sto je Hrvata potom osušeno za prekršaj i deportirano, uz molbu da se neko vrijeme ne vraćaju na Maltu.


Majstorija Ibrahimovića

Ne mora nam se sviđati Zlatan Ibrahimović kao tip, ali kao nogometaš je "broj 1", ili negdje blizu tog mjesta. Pogodak Mađarskoj u sudačkoj nadoknadi bio je remen djelo nogometnog genija. Suhi dribling u kaznenom prostoru i bomba, iz oštrog kuta, pod prečku Gabora Kiralyja.


DODATNE KVALIFIKACIJE

Istanbul, opasan grad

Turska je trećeplasirana nacija s prošlog Svjetskog prvenstva, no neće braniti broncu iz Japana i Koreje. U razigravanju sa švicarskom nedostajao joj je gol za prolaz. Alpinci su kod kuće slavili s 2:0, Turci su uzvratili s 4:2. Uzbudljivo je bilo na travnjaku, još uzbudljivije na putu prema svlačionicama. Švicarci kašu da su dobili batina te da su ih udarali ne samo domaši igrači već i redari. FIFA-ina je istraga u tijeku, a Turskoj prijeti drastična kazna. Govorka se i o isključenju s idućeg Mundiala, no tako drastična valjda neće biti. Neka im se naredi da igraju domaše - u Grčkoj. To bi im bila dovoljno oštra kazna.

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Friday, December 9, 2005

World Cup Groups

GROUP A
Germany Costa Rica Poland Ecuador
GROUP B
England Paraguay Trinidad & Tobago Sweden
GROUP C
Argentina Ivory Coast Serbia & Montenegro The Netherlands
GROUP D
Mexico Iran Angola Portugal
GROUP E
Italy Ghana USA Czech Republic
GROUP F
Brazil Croatia Australia Japan
GROUP G
France Switzerland South Korea Togo
GROUP H
Spain Ukraine Tunisia Saudi Arabia

Qualification Highlights

Soccerphile World Cup Blog

Best of the Qualifying Stage

Najznacajniji trenuci kvalifikacija za Svjetsko prvenstvo 2006.


Kvalifikacije za Weltmeisterschaft u Njemackoj su za nama, ali nece biti zaboravljene. Iznenadjenja, preokreta, incidenata i sudackih previda bilo je dovoljno i za najistancanije ukuse: prvi uspjeh Ukrajine, portugalska "sedmica" Rusiji, engleski poraz kod Sjeverne Irske,
tucnjava u Istambulu, uspon Lihtenstajna, katastrofa Kameruna i napokon ostvarena nadanja Australije...

EUROPA

Skupina 1

Velika Van Bastenova serija

Trostruki osvajac europske Zlatne lopte, Marco van Basten, bio je wunderkind kao igrac, a u kvalifikacijama za Svjetsko prvenstvo pokazao se i kao darovit trener. Izabravsi niz manje poznatih igraca iz nizozemskog prvenstva ostvario je 10 pobjeda u prvih 11 utakmica, a drugi je nerijeseni zabiljezio u zadnjem kolu protiv Makedonije, kad je njegova momcad vec bila sigurno prva u skupini. Njegovi protivnici kazu da je kroz citave kvalifikacije imao i mnogo srece, no mi mu nemamo sto zamjeriti: zahvaljujuci pobjedi Nizozemske u Pragu 8. listopada i Hrvatska je mogla proslaviti proboj u Njemacku, cetiri dana prije no sto smo ocekivali.


Armenija zapanjila Rumunjsku

Bio je 17. studenog 2004. kad je Rumunjska do?la na prag eliminacije na terenu na kojemu se najmanje nadala te?ko?ama: u Jerevanu. Gosti su zapo?eli po planu, vode?im pogotkom Cipriana Marice, no Armenija im je pomrsila planove izjedna?iv?i posredstvom Dorhoyana u 62. minuti. Od tog su trenutka Rumunji zaostali u trci za Nizozemskom i ?e?kom...i nikad se nisu vratili na kolosijek.

U ovoj je skupini pothvat izvela i Andorra, svladav?i Makedoniju s 1:0, tako?er u po?etku natjecanja.


Skupina 2

Adio, Gr?ka

Va?eg novinara nije zbunila pobjeda Grka na Europskom prvenstvu 2004. Prognoza je glasila: "Ne?e se plasirati na Svjetsko prvenstvo. Potro?ili su sre?u za idu?ih 100 godina."
Ve? 9. rujna 2004., Gr?ka je posrnula kod Albanije u Tirani s 1:2. Edvin Murati i Adrian Aliaj pogocima u prvih 11 minuta vratili su Grke tamo gdje spadaju, u europsku osrednjost.

Danska je 8. listopada ove godine, pobjedom od 1:0 u Kopenhagenu, i kona?no zaustavila euro-prvake na putu u Njema?ku. No, i sama je Danska po?inila grijeh, koji ju je kona?no stajao plasmana: 17. studenog pro?le godine odigrala je samo 2:2 u Gruziji i zaostala za odlu?uju?i korak u trci s Ukrajinom i Turskom.

Napokon Ukrajina

Tri je puta Ukrajina ispadala u dodatnim kvalifikacijama: 1997. od Hrvatske s 0:2 i 1:1, 1999. od Slovenije s 1:2 i 1:1 te 2001. protiv Njema?ke s 1:1 i 1:4. Napokon ?e se i ?ev?enko pojaviti na jednom velikom natjecanju. Ne mo?emo re?i da nije zaslu?io.


Skupina 3

Lihten?tajn zaustavio Portugal!

Portugal je europski doprvak i priznata velesila svjetskog nogometa, no skauti Luiza Felipea Scolarija nisu kvalitetno snimili igru sile u nastajanju - Lihten?tajna. Mora da su Portugalci 9. listopada 2004. o?ekivali sigurna tri boda, osobito nakon ?to su nezaobilazni Pedro Pauleta i doma?i igra? Daniel Hasler u prvom poluvremenu postigli 0:2. No, nakon odmora Lihten?tajn je pokazao pravo lice i izjedna?io golovima Burgmeiera i Becka.

I godinu dana kasnije momci iz minijaturne kne?evine namu?ili su Portugal, izvukav?i u Lisabonu ?asnih 1:2 nakon vodstva od 1:0 do kraja prvog dijela!

Sedmica u ruskoj mre?i

Ako nije mogao svladati Lihten?tajn, Portugal se u punoj formi pokazao samo ?etiri dana kasnije protiv Rusije, svladav?i je sa 7:1, uz po dva pogotka Cristiana Ronalda i Petita te po jednim Paulete, Deca i Simaa.


Skupina 4

Nepora?eni Izrael tek tre?i

Niti niz od 10 utakmica bez poraza nije pomogao Izraelu da se izbori barem za dodatne kvalifikacije. Hrabra je bliskoisto?na mom?ad, u nastojanju da se domogne prvog nastupa na Mundialu od 1970., ostala nepora?ena i u Francuskoj i u ?vicarskoj i u Irskoj, no svoje suparnike nije uspjela svladati ni kod ku?e. Minimalne pobjede nad Ciprom i Farskim otocima zadr?ale su Izraelce na tre?em mjestu, s istim brojem bodova kao ?vicarska i s dva manje od Francuske. Mo?da im je za odlu?uju?i korak nedostajao jedan - Giovanni Rosso?

Skupina 5

Slovenci frustrirali Italiju

Italija je velesila, Slovenija je mom?ad obi?nih radnika, no taj odnos snaga nije bio vi?en u Celju u dvoboju susjeda. Slovenija ne samo da nije bila nadigrana, ve? je pobijedila s 1:0, golom glavom tada?njeg Dinamovca Bo?tjana Cesara. Na koncu ?e Italija, dakako, zauzeti prvo mjesto, no "Janezi" ?e se uvijek mo?i tje?iti da su nadma?ili mom?ad 25 puta ve?e dr?ave trostrukih svjetskih prvaka.

Skupina 6

Sjeverna Irska stekla nezavisnost!

Engleska je po nekima favorit Svjetskog prvenstva. Odu?evila je promatra?e pobjedom nad Argentinom u nedavnoj prijateljskoj utakmici. No, u kvalifikacijama ne samo da nije odu?evila, ve? je razjarila vlastite navija?e i, ponekad, nasmijala neutralce. Poraz od vrlo slabe Sjeverne Irske s 0:1 9. rujna ove godine, dok jo? nije osigurala mjesto na Mundialu, naveo je engleski dio publike na skandiranje, "Sack the Swede" (Maknite ?ve?u). Uslijedila je na jedvite jade izborena pobjeda protiv Austrije, iz jedanaesterca i s igra?em manje nakon isklju?enja Beckhama.

Austrijanci u "ekstazi"

Na?im dragim prijateljima i vodi?ima u Europsku uniju naprosto ne ide: Azerbajd?an-Austrija 0:0. Ako ni?ta drugo, u ovim kvalifikacijama Austrijanci nisu "popili" devet pogodaka kao koncem devedesetih od ?panjolske.


Skupina 7

?panjolska u milosti mo?nih

Ve? je u Zenici BiH pokazala da je u stanju nositi se s razvikanom ?panjolskom. Bilo je 1:1. U drugom krugu natjecanja, u Valenciji, 8. lipnja ove godine, Bosanci su vodili s 1:0 pogotkom Mi?imovi?a od 38. minute i taj rezultat dr?ali do 90. minute. I do 92. I do 94. I do 96. No, do pobjede nisu do?li, jer je Marchena ugurao loptu u mre?u kad je ve? po?ela 97. minuta, preciznije 52. minuta drugog poluvremena. Engleski sudac Bennett imao je poseban do?ivljaj dimenzije vremena, a prethodno je isklju?io i dva bosanska igra?a. Uzalud su se Bosanci bunili, jer ta dva klju?na izgubljena boda vi?e nisu mogli nadoknaditi.

I u doigravanju, ?panjolska je imala kvalitetno su?enje. Pobjeda od 5:1 protiv Slova?ke bila je jednako realna kao i nedavni uspjeh njihove ko?arka?ke reprezentacije nad Hrvatskom na Euru u Beogradu.

Skupina 8

Mjuzikl u La Valetti: "Malta, Malta"

Hrvatska je dvaput pobijedila ?vedsku, koja jako, jako rijetko gubi u kvalifikacijama. Ali, Hrvatska je samo jednom tukla Maltu. U Zagrebu. U La Valetti 7. rujna 2005. bilo je te?ko, 1:1. Nakon vodstva golom Nike Kranj?ara, Vatreni su posustali i u 74. minuti primili pogodak direktno iz slobodnjaka. Steve Wellmann zabio je s 30 metara, "kroz u?i" Stipe Pletikose.

Ako je reprezentacija posrnula, nisu i hrvatski navija?i. Na tribinama Ta'Qalija izveli su veli?anstveni spektakl, svladav?i brojna plasti?na sjedala i susjedne navija?e, te hrabro se boriv?i protiv doma?e policije. Sto je Hrvata potom osu?eno za prekr?aj i deportirano, uz molbu da se neko vrijeme ne vra?aju na Maltu.


Majstorija Ibrahimovi?a

Ne mora nam se svi?ati Zlatan Ibrahimovi? kao tip, ali kao nogometa? je "broj 1", ili negdje blizu tog mjesta. Pogodak Ma?arskoj u suda?koj nadoknadi bio je remek djelo nogometnog genija. Suhi dribling u kaznenom prostoru i bomba, iz o?trog kuta, pod pre?ku Gabora Kiralyja.


DODATNE KVALIFIKACIJE

Istambul, opasan grad

Turska je tre?eplasirana nacija s pro?log Svjetskog prvenstva, no ne?e braniti broncu iz Japana i Koreje. U razigravanju sa ?vicarskom nedostajao joj je gol za prolaz. Alpinci su kod ku?e slavili s 2:0, Turci su uzvratili s 4:2. Uzbudljivo je bilo na travnjaku, jo? uzbudljivije na putu prema svla?ionicama. ?vicarci ka?u da su dobili batina te da su ih udarali ne samo doma?i igra?i ve? i redari. FIFA-ina je istraga u tijeku, a Turskoj prijeti drasti?na kazna. Govorka se i o isklju?enju s idu?eg Mundiala, no tako drasti?na valjda ne?e biti. Neka im se naredi da igraju doma?e - u Gr?koj. To bi im bila dovoljno o?tra kazna.

HNL: Naslovi se osvajaju u gostima
Dinamo ?eli rekordnu seriju
HNL - Usporedba s pro?lom sezonom
Dobro je zvati se Dinamo
Neka ?vedska strahuje
Najbolje gol razlike u europskim ligama
Usporedna ljestvica
Argentina ili Hrvatska, pitanje je sad

Thursday, December 8, 2005

The Lying, the Hitch and the Gnawed Lobe

Often in the past, I’ve been accused of being over careful with money. I refute this allegation, only last week I forked out more than a fiver on the wife’s Christmas present. But why should I spend a fortune taking the little ones to see the new movie ‘Narnia’, when for no cost I can share ‘The chronicles of Harry Redknapp’, an epic fantasy adventure.

It’s a tale so ridiculous, any movie executive worth his white powder would have laughed out loud before binning the script. Harry managed Portsmouth, walked out, joined their fierce rivals, then marched the Saints out of the Premiership. A few mistruths, a snag or two and a word in the ear from Frank Lampard Senior later, and Harry is Frattonising with Pompey once again. You couldn’t make it up.

Every team in the country would fancy their chances against the Portsmouth circus this weekend, the computer has generously handed Spurs the three points. Tottenham at 4/9 are the weekend nap.

Some credit the form of Stevie Gerrard for Liverpool’s excellent recent run of results; others believe Peter Crouch’s battle against adversity has inspired his team-mates to greater heights. Personally, i put it down to Harry Kewell elbowing his Mrs to the other side of the World.

Liverpool’s improved form can be directly linked to Harry’s other half being 10,000 miles away in a rat infested hell-hole; Australia.

Kewell never saw eye to eye with antipodean compatriot Mark Viduka when both played for Leeds, possibly because of Harry’s pro-podean beliefs. Harry’s 5/2 to outscore Viduka on Saturday, a decent looking bet considering Liverpool’s water-tight defence.

May I be one of the first to congratulate Peter Crouch on opening his goal scoring account for the Reds. Crouch’s strike was welcomed by thousands of punters across the land, but it’s not all good news, it means we’re in for another three months of winter. Crouchy can be backed at 11/8 to score at any time against Boro, as the 8/15 Pool take all three points.

Newcastle were outplayed by an average Villa team last weekend; imagine what an on song Arsenal could do. The Gunners are a great bet at Even money, they’re literally a re-mortgage job if Michael Owen is ruled out. Graeme Souness is fighting for his life as the manager of the Toon; the fat lady is clearing her throat.

Birmingham City are going to absurd lengths to try to record their first home win of the season, Emile Heskey even tried a Diego Maradona impression against the Hammers last week, or ‘The hand of God-awful’ as it should be christened. Fulham are the latest visitors to St Andrews who are guaranteed at least a point; back the draw at 11/5.

Put these weekend specials on your shopping list:

“Nuts” – Alan Shearer to score with a header 13/2
“Ketchup” – Man Utd to win from behind 6/1
“Crackers” – Wayne Rooney to score two or more goals 7/2
“A pear” – Thierry Henry to score two or more goals 5/1
“Te Bags” – Vaz Te to score at any time 7/4

Quote of the week:

“I’ve stuck by my job for five or six weeks, I’ve done well.”

Paul Gascoigne should stay away from reporters.

Q & A of the week:

Sky Sports reporter Geoff Shreeves to Stuart Pearce:
“Danny Mills has been dropped from the squad, can you tell us why?”

Psycho:
“He’s broke his leg”

Stat, you’re a liberty:

Liverpool and Everton have scored a total of 25 league goals between them this season; Celtic have scored more than that away from home.

Acc of the week:

Liverpool, Sunderland, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham make up the weekend accer; this cheeky little 5 fold pays out at 28/1.

Weekend Betting:

Liverpool v Middlesbrough Saturday 10th December 12.45 Live on Sky

Liverpool 8/15
Draw 12/5
Middlesbrough 5/1

Get on: Liverpool

Liverpool have kept a clean sheet in their last nine matches in all competitions. The Boro haven’t won at Anfield for nigh on 30 years, it’s not rocket science.
Match Special:
Peter Crouch to score the first goal 5/1

Birmingham v Fulham Saturday 10th December 15.00

Birmingham 6/5
Draw 11/5
Fulham 15/8

Get on: Draw

Fulham have a great record at St Andrew’s, three wins and three draws from their last six visits. Blues can’t win at home, Fulham can’t win away. Draw.
Match Special:
Match to finish 1-1 11/2

Blackburn v West Ham Saturday 10th December 15.00

Blackburn 10/11
Draw 9/4
West Ham 5/2

Get on: Draw

Blackburn go goal crazy at home to the Hammers, they’ve scored 25 goals in the last 7 meetings. West Ham are playing well away from home, score draw.
Match Special:
Match to finish 2-2 14/1

Bolton v Aston Villa Saturday 10th December 15.00

Bolton 4/5
Draw 9/4
Aston Villa 3/1

Get on: Bolton

Bolton are practically ensured a goal start due to a Ridgewell handball, it’s a home win.
Match Special:
Bolton to win 1-0 6/1

Charlton v Sunderland Saturday 10th December 15.00

Charlton 4/7
Draw 12/5
Sunderland 9/2

Get on: Sunderland
It’s six defeats on the bounce for Charlton and they haven’t kept a clean sheet for 13 matches. Sunderland have never lost at the Valley in the Premiership; 9/2 should tempt.
Match Special:
Sunderland to score two or more goals 10/3

Chelsea v Wigan Saturday 10th December 15.00

Chelsea 1/5
Draw 4/1
Wigan 11/1

Get on: Chelsea

Chelsea were extremely lucky to beat Wigan on the opening day, you can take fortune out of the equation here. Home banker.
Match Special:
Chelsea to win 2-0 11/2

West Brom v Man City Saturday 10th December 15.00

West Brom 7/4
Draw 9/4
Man City 5/4

Get on: Man City

The Baggies are unbeaten in three in the league, but City’s demolition of Charlton makes them worthy favourites.
Match Special:
Man City to score three or more goals 9/2

Newcastle v Arsenal Saturday 10th December 17.15 Live on Premiership Plus

Newcastle 9/4
Draw 9/4
Arsenal Evs

Get on: Arsenal

Newcastle haven’t scored against the Gunners in 6 hours and 20 minutes of football. It’ll be all over Soun.
Match Special:
Arsenal to score three or more goals 7/2

Man Utd v Everton Sunday 11th December 16.00 Live on Sky

Man Utd 2/7
Draw 7/2
Everton 8/1

Get on: Draw

Everton took four points from Man U last season and can be confident of nicking another. It’s four wins out of five for the Moyes Boys, United have a European hangover and Van Nistelrooy misses the match through suspension. A coupon buster is on the cards.
Match Special:
No goal scorer in the match 10/1

Tottenham v Portsmouth Monday 12th December 20.00 Live on Sky

Tottenham 4/9
Draw 13/5
Portsmouth 6/1

Get on: Tottenham

Pompey have lost their last four without finding the net and they concede 3.5 goals a game when they travel to the Lane in the Premiership. Robbie Keane is the hottest striker in the Premiership, as Edgar Davids discovered last week. Home win.
Match Special:
Robbie Keane to score two or more goals 9/2

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Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Brazilian Soccer League

Brazilian Soccer League.
Corinthians' Win In Suspension

Tko je prvak Brazila?


Corinthians je proglašen prvakom Brazila za 2005. godinu, mada još nije riješeno pravno pitanje 11 poništenih utakmica, koje su po naredbi Saveza ponovljene zbog navodnih namještaljki.

Brazilski je savez (CBF) zanemario sudsku naredbu da "ne proglasi prvaka ako prednost Corinthiansa nad drugoplasiranim ne bude veća od tri boda", te je nakon utakmica 42. kola na službenom internetskom portalu objavio da su "Corinthians, Gremio i Remo prvaci Brazila za 2005." (u 1., 2. i 3. ligi) te da će se "dodjela trofeja održati u ponedjeljak u Teatru Joao Caetano u Rio de Janeiru."

Zanimljivo je i da je ova objava stavljena na internetsku stranicu 40 minuta PRIJE kraja utakmice susreta Goias-Corinthians.

Corinthians iz Sao Paula završio je utrku na prvom mjestu s tri boda više od Internacionala unatoč porazu od 2:3 kod trećeplasiranog Goiasa i tako osvojio četvrti naslov, nakon 1990., 1998. i 1999. Najbogatijem klubu Južne Amerike pomogla je Coritiba, svladavši Internacional s 1:0 pogotkom Alcimara iz jedanaesterca.

U uzbudljivom je dvoboju Corinthians gubio na poluvremenu od Goiasa s 0:1 (Paulo Baier), zatim je preokrenuo na 2:1 pogocima Teveza i Coelha, ali je domaćin vratio prednost pogocima Souze i Romerita.

Značajnu je pobjedu postigao Palmeiras nad Fluminenseom (3:2), zauzevši četvrto mjesto koje vodi u Copu Libertadores, uz Corinthians, Inter i Goias.

Ispali su Coritiba, usprkos junačkoj pobjedi nad Interom, te Atletico MG, Brasiliense i Paysandu.

Veličanstvenu je sezonu zaokružio i veteran Romario, osvojivši naslov najboljeg strijelca s 22 gola, od kojih je dva postigao u nedjeljnoj pobjedi Vasca nad Paranom od 3:1. Drugi je Robson iz Paysandua s 21 golom.

Skandal: Sud se umiješao

Iako je Corinthians prvak po službenom stavu Brazilskog saveza, naslov su proslavili i navijači Internacionala iz Porto Alegrea.
Jedan je sud u državi Rio Grande do Sul (iz koje dolazi Internacional) naredio Brazilskoj nogometnoj konfederaciji da proglasi prvaka ako Corinthians ne bude imao barem četiri boda prednosti nad Internacionalom. Odluku je donio sudac Mauro Borba na traženje odvjetnika Leandra Konrada Konflanza, koji je naveo da je još u postupku žalba brojnih klubova vezano za ponavljanje 11 navodno namještenih utakmica.

Ponavljanje utakmica odgovaralo je Corinthiansu, koji je u toj "operaciji" zaradio četiri boda u odnosu na prvobitno odigrane utakmice. Po prvobitnoj je tablici, dakle kad bi bili priznati rezultati 11 poništenih utakmica, Internacional prvi sa 78 bodova, jednim više od Corinthiansa!

Corinthians' Win In Suspension
HNL: Naslovi se osvajaju u gostima
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Usporedna ljestvica
Argentina ili Hrvatska, pitanje je sad