Monday, February 27, 2006

Schweinsteiger Profile

Who's the new German stalwart

Bastian Schweinsteiger - another Effenberg?

Simbol novog Bayerna

Neumorni radnik koji stvara višak prostora i kvalitetno raspoređuje loptu, Bastian Schweinsteiger stoji pred blistavom karijerom u Bayernu i u reprezentaciji Njemačke. Svojim razvojem u zadnje dvije godine najavljuje se kao jedna od zvijezda predstojećeg Svjetskog prvenstva.

Izraz "meteorski uspon do slave" kao da je skovan za Bastiana Schweinsteigera. Još je 2001. bio član Bayernove momčadi koja je osvojila prvenstvo u konkurenciji do 17 godina, a godinu potom i prvenstvo do 19 godina. Već je u drugom dijelu sezone 2002/03, kao 18-godišnjak, uskočio u prvu momčad najvećeg njemačkog kluba, igrajući naizmjenično za seniore i za juniore. Godinu dana kasnije, nakon proslave prve seniorske Bundeslige s Bavarcima, našao se u reprezentaciji Rudija Vollera i putovao u Portugal na Europsko prvenstvo.

Schweinsteigera mnogi vide kao novog Sfefana Effenberga, donedavnog Bayernovom borca i kreativca sredine terena, a uistinu svom prethodniku sliči i tjelesno i po stilu igre. I još je, kao i Effenberg, rođen u znaku Lava!

Momak iz provincije potpisao je juniorski ugovor s Bayernom 1. srpnja 1998. i brzo se uspinjao kroz klupski podmladak. Osvojivši omladinsko prvenstvo 2002., probio se u Bayernove rezerve i odradio niz zapaženih nastupa u trećoj ligi.

Nakon samo dva treninga za prvu momčad, u jesen 2002. dobio je priliku od Ottmara Hitzfelda da debitira u Ligi prvaka. Samo nekoliko minuta nakon ulaska s klupe protiv Lensa, momak je pokazao vrijednost, pripremivši gol Markusu Feulneru. U prvoj je profi-sezoni skupio 16 nastupa i odmah se okitio dvostrukom krunom - sve prije 19. rođendana! Prvi je pogodak za Bayern postigao u rujnu 2003. protiv Wolfsburga, a u proljeće 2004. već je zaslužio prvi poziv u reprezentaciju.

(mn) Samo Makaay popularniji

Na Euru u Portugalu iskazao se kao jedan od rijetkih njemačkih igrača koji nisu razočarali, dok je Elf ispao u prvoj rundi s dva osvojena boda od mogućih devet. Svojom je borbenošću spasio Nijemce od veće nevolje, namjestivši klupskom suigraču Ballacku pogodak u porazu protiv Češke (1:2).

Mada je pokupio jednoglasne komplimente za nastup na Europskom prvenstvu, novi ga je trener, "glavonja" Felix Magath senzacionalno vratio među amatere početkom sezone 2004/05. Ipak, Bastian je među starim kolegama proveo samo tri tjedna, prije no što ga je Magath povukao natrag u prvotimce. Unatoč oštroj konkurenciji još devetorice veznih igrača, u nastavku sezone ovaj je dinamični, rastrčali vezist potvrdio ugled, doprinijevši značajno još jednoj Bayernovoj dvostrukoj kruni.

Prošle je sezone, u kojoj je osvojio drugu Bundesligu, Schweinsteiger izabran u navijačkoj anketi za drugog najboljeg igrača Bayerna, iza Roya Makaaya, a on i Nizozemac skupili su zajedno preko 80% glasova.

Jurgen Klinsmann, Vollerov nasljednik na klupi Elfa, nije imao dvojbe u pogledu nastavka Bastianove reprezentativne karijere te je mladić i u novom režimu nastavio gdje je stao pod Vollerom.

Prve je pogotke za izabranu momčad (odmah dva!) postigao 8. lipnja prošle godine protiv Rusije. Na Kupu konfederacija održanom istog mjeseca u Njemačkoj iznova je bio među najboljima, postigavši po pogodak Tunisu i Meksiku.
(op/nogomet)

(okvir)

Osobna karta

Ime i prezime: Bastian Schweinsteiger
Nadimak: Schweini
Datum rođenja: 1. kolovoza 1984.
Mjesto rođenja: Kolbermoor
Visina i težina: 181 cm, 77 kg
Pozicija: vezist
Broj dresa: 31
Bračno stanje: djevojka Daniela

Obrazovanje: srednja škola
Vrline: pristupačan, točan, lukav
Hobiji: glazba, druženje, Playstation
Moto: "Vjeruj u sebe"
Internet: www.bastian-schweinsteiger.de

Klupska karijera:
1990-92 Oberaudorf
1992-98 Rosenheim
1998-02 Bayern (II)
2002/03 Bayern 14 - 0
2003/04 Bayern 26 - 4
2004/05 Bayern 26 - 3
2005/06 Bayern 15 - 1

Reprezentacija:
2004-06 Njemačka 23 - 4


Uspjesi:
Njemačko prvenstvo 2003. i 2005.
Njemački kup 2003. i 2005.
Liga kup 2004.

Juniorska karijera:
Prvenstvo do 17 g. 2001.
Prvenstvo do 19 g. 2002.


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

Bet with Bet 365

World Soccer News

Soccer betting tips

Soccer Books & DVDs

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Schweinsteiger Profile

Who's the new German stalwart

Bastian Schweinsteiger - another Effenberg?

Simbol novog Bayerna


Neumorni radnik koji stvara višak prostora i kvalitetno raspoređuje loptu, Bastian Schweinsteiger stoji pred blistavom karijerom u Bayernu i u reprezentaciji Njemačke. Svojim razvojem u zadnje dvije godine najavljuje se kao jedna od zvijezda predstojećeg Svjetskog prvenstva.

Izraz "meteorski uspon do slave" kao da je skovan za Bastiana Schweinsteigera. Još je 2001. bio član Bayernove momčadi koja je osvojila prvenstvo u konkurenciji do 17 godina, a godinu potom i prvenstvo do 19 godina. Već je u drugom dijelu sezone 2002/03, kao 18-godišnjak, uskočio u prvu momčad najvećeg njemačkog kluba, igrajući naizmjenično za seniore i za juniore. Godinu dana kasnije, nakon proslave prve seniorske Bundeslige s Bavarcima, našao se u reprezentaciji Rudija Vollera i putovao u Portugal na Europsko prvenstvo.

Schweinsteigera mnogi vide kao novog Sfefana Effenberga, donedavnog Bayernovom borca i kreativca sredine terena, a uistinu svom prethodniku sliči i tjelesno i po stilu igre. I još je, kao i Effenberg, rođen u znaku Lava!

Momak iz provincije potpisao je juniorski ugovor s Bayernom 1. srpnja 1998. i brzo se uspinjao kroz klupski podmladak. Osvojivši omladinsko prvenstvo 2002., probio se u Bayernove rezerve i odradio niz zapaženih nastupa u trećoj ligi.

Nakon samo dva treninga za prvu momčad, u jesen 2002. dobio je priliku od Ottmara Hitzfelda da debitira u Ligi prvaka. Samo nekoliko minuta nakon ulaska s klupe protiv Lensa, momak je pokazao vrijednost, pripremivši gol Markusu Feulneru. U prvoj je profi-sezoni skupio 16 nastupa i odmah se okitio dvostrukom krunom - sve prije 19. rođendana! Prvi je pogodak za Bayern postigao u rujnu 2003. protiv Wolfsburga, a u proljeće 2004. već je zaslužio prvi poziv u reprezentaciju.

(mn) Samo Makaay popularniji

Na Euru u Portugalu iskazao se kao jedan od rijetkih njemačkih igrača koji nisu razočarali, dok je Elf ispao u prvoj rundi s dva osvojena boda od mogućih devet. Svojom je borbenošću spasio Nijemce od veće nevolje, namjestivši klupskom suigraču Ballacku pogodak u porazu protiv Češke (1:2).

Mada je pokupio jednoglasne komplimente za nastup na Europskom prvenstvu, novi ga je trener, "glavonja" Felix Magath senzacionalno vratio među amatere početkom sezone 2004/05. Ipak, Bastian je među starim kolegama proveo samo tri tjedna, prije no što ga je Magath povukao natrag u prvotimce. Unatoč oštroj konkurenciji još devetorice veznih igrača, u nastavku sezone ovaj je dinamični, rastrčali vezist potvrdio ugled, doprinijevši značajno još jednoj Bayernovoj dvostrukoj kruni.

Prošle je sezone, u kojoj je osvojio drugu Bundesligu, Schweinsteiger izabran u navijačkoj anketi za drugog najboljeg igrača Bayerna, iza Roya Makaaya, a on i Nizozemac skupili su zajedno preko 80% glasova.

Jurgen Klinsmann, Vollerov nasljednik na klupi Elfa, nije imao dvojbe u pogledu nastavka Bastianove reprezentativne karijere te je mladić i u novom režimu nastavio gdje je stao pod Vollerom.

Prve je pogotke za izabranu momčad (odmah dva!) postigao 8. lipnja prošle godine protiv Rusije. Na Kupu konfederacija održanom istog mjeseca u Njemačkoj iznova je bio među najboljima, postigavši po pogodak Tunisu i Meksiku.
(op/nogomet)

(okvir)

Osobna karta

Ime i prezime: Bastian Schweinsteiger
Nadimak: Schweini
Datum rođenja: 1. kolovoza 1984.
Mjesto rođenja: Kolbermoor
Visina i težina: 181 cm, 77 kg
Pozicija: vezist
Broj dresa: 31
Bračno stanje: djevojka Daniela

Obrazovanje: srednja škola
Vrline: pristupačan, točan, lukav
Hobiji: glazba, druženje, Playstation
Moto: "Vjeruj u sebe"
Internet: www.bastian-schweinsteiger.de

Klupska karijera:
1990-92 Oberaudorf
1992-98 Rosenheim
1998-02 Bayern (II)
2002/03 Bayern 14 - 0
2003/04 Bayern 26 - 4
2004/05 Bayern 26 - 3
2005/06 Bayern 15 - 1

Reprezentacija:
2004-06 Njemačka 23 - 4


Uspjesi:
Njemačko prvenstvo 2003. i 2005.
Njemački kup 2003. i 2005.
Liga kup 2004.

Juniorska karijera:
Prvenstvo do 17 g. 2001.
Prvenstvo do 19 g. 2002.


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

Hotels in Zagreb

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Jewell of Denial

Here’s a question for all you deep thinkers. Can a fairytale really have a happy ending?

Imagine the classics today; Cinderella could never marry the prince, the problem of female binge drinking coupled with a march towards a 24 hour boozing culture simply wouldn’t allow her to leave the ball by midnight. Sleeping Beauty would be literally a 50/1 shot to get a decent kip with all the ASBO ridden teenagers roaming the streets, and if Jack is gullible enough to swap a cow for a handful of magic beans, he’d be well advised to steer clear of the betting exchanges.

I ask this question because Wigan’s charge to the Cup final is nothing short of a modern day fairytale, but like the examples above, a happy ending is highly unlikely. I would love to see Wigan win it, I’ve always been a fan of the underdog, although the wife usually needs convincing. The head must always rule the heart when punting though; Man U demolished Wigan 4-0 in the league, a reversal is unlikely. Get on United at 8/13 to win the match in 90 minutes.

Van Nistelrooy had the cheek to berate Harry Kewell for going down easily last week; he’ll be having a pop at Celine Dion next for having a long face. Van the man is a worthy favourite at 7/2 to open the scoring in the Cardiff showpiece; he’s 9/2 to bag a pair.

Gary Neville’s had a bad week, he’s been fined £5,000 by the FA for doing the Haka in front of devastated Liverpool supporters, and news has just broke that the police are struggling to find the identity of the burger throwing scally, although they’ve safely ruled out Wayne Rooney. It’s 12 games without a goal for Roon the loon, the big lad’s due, he’s available at 5/4 to score at any time.

Whatever the outcome on Sunday evening, Wigan’s charge to Cardiff has brought a little romance back to the Cup, and win or lose, the great sport of football will be the winner. Or to be more factual, football and Man Utd will be the winners, Wigan will lose heavily. A 3-0 win for United is available at 10/1, give it some thought.

Back to the Premiership, before the Barcelona match, Jose Mourinho compared the Chelsea pitch to an ugly scientist. I took offence to that, my wife looks a lot like Stephen Hawking. However, I’m not one to hold a grudge, especially as Jose’s boys will make me a few quid this weekend. Pompey have played Chelsea five times in the Premiership, the Champions have won either 2-0 or 3-0 every time. At 11/4 for either outcome to occur, my valueometer has just exploded.

Newcastle are like a new team since Graeme Souness left, unfortunately, still not a very good one. The stats show a dramatic improvement for the Toon since Souey was chopped, but there’s a question mark over the Villa and Southampton wins. Everton are the visitors to St James’ Park and their recent form is sensational; not for the first time, I’m playing away from home. Tuck in to the Toffees at 2/1.

Liverpool should be backed at 1/2 to see off Man City; as soon as Psycho handed Robbie Fowler to the Reds on a silver plate, sod’s law demanded that he’d break his goal scoring duck against the team that gave him away. By the way, don’t pass this on to Steve McClaren; he’ll probably bid £3 million for the duck.

How quickly things change. On a cold day two weeks ago, McClaren was an awful manager who couldn’t be trusted in the transfer market and a relegation battle was on the cards. Today, it’s a little bit warmer. Luckily for Boro, Albion are in an even worse state, McClaren’s men are the call at 7/4.

The Cup final weekend specials: (all bets are 90 minutes only)

“Filthy Rich” - Kieran Richardson to be booked 5/2
“Crazy horse” - Van Nistelrooy to be booked 10/3
“Bull fighting” - Jimmy Bullard to be booked 9/2
“Raging Bull” - Jimmy Bullard to be sent off 66/1
“Fletch lives” - Darren Fletcher to score at any time 5/1
“Flyin' Giggs” - Ryan Giggs to score in the first half 12/1
“Camma Roon” - Henri Camara and Wayne Rooney both to score 8/1

Quote of the week:

“Sometimes you see beautiful people with no brains, but you see ugly people who are intelligent scientists. Our pitch is a little bit like that.”

Jose Mourinho, the King of the analogy.

Stat, you’re a liberty:

Portsmouth have scored just eight goals at home this season, that’s the lowest figure in the Premiership, the Football League, the Conference, and alarmingly for Pompey fans, the Scottish Leagues.

Acc of the week:

Birmingham, Arsenal, Chelsea, Man Utd and Middlesbrough form the accer this week, I can’t say they’ll all definitely win, even though they will. It pays out at 16/1.

Weekend Betting:

Birmingham v Sunderland Saturday 25th February 15.00

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

Get on: Birmingham

The Blues have won four of their last five at St Andrews; Sunderland have lost their last three matches away from home.
Match Special:
Birmingham to keep a clean sheet 10/11

Blackburn v Arsenal Saturday 25th February 15.00

Blackburn 9/5
Draw 9/4
Arsenal 6/5

Get on: Arsenal

The Gunners have won their last six matches against Blackburn without conceding a goal; three of the last four have finished 3-0. Their form on the road is poor, but the Madrid result is a corner-turner.
Match Special:
Thierry Henry to score two or more goals 5/1

Charlton v Aston Villa Saturday 25th February 15.00

Charlton 11/10
Draw 9/4
Aston Villa 2/1

Get on: Draw

The Addicks have won five of their last six home matches, and drew the other. Villa are unbeaten in seven away from home, a real toughie to call.
Match Special:
Match to finish 1-1 11/2

Chelsea v Portsmouth Saturday 25th February 15.00

Chelsea 1/7
Draw 9/2
Portsmouth 16/1

Get on: Chelsea

Pompey have lost their last seven away from home in the Premiership, six of those games by two goals or more. Chelsea are a wounded animal, Pompey must pay.
Match Special:
HT Draw FT Chelsea 9/2

Newcastle v Everton Saturday 25th February 17.15 Live on Premiership Plus

Newcastle 11/10
Draw 9/4
Everton 2/1

Get on: Everton

It’s three wins out of four for the Toon; Everton have won four of their last five in the league. Everton’s form can stand close scrutiny.
Match Special:
Everton to win 1-0 15/2

Liverpool v Man City Sunday 26th February 12.15 Live on Sky

Liverpool 1/2
Draw 12/5
Man City 11/2

Get on: Liverpool

Liverpool have beaten Arsenal and Man U in their last two home matches, City are hit and miss away from home.
Match Special:
Robbie Fowler to score at any time 11/10

Bolton v Fulham Sunday 26th February 13.00

Bolton 8/11
Draw 9/4
Fulham 10/3

Get on: Bolton

Fulham are running out of games to register a win on the road. They lost twice at the Reebok last season, a third spanking in a year is approaching.
Match Special:
Nolan and Stelios both to score 14/1

West Brom v Middlesbrough Sunday 26th February 15.00

West Brom 5/4
Draw 9/4
Middlesbrough 7/4

Get on: Middlesbrough

Albion are not playing well, it’s four losses and a draw from their last five matches. The Boro have won their last three away from home, 7/4 tempts.
Match Special:
Yakubu to score two or more goals 7/1

Man Utd v Wigan (Carling Cup Final) Sunday 26th February 15.00 Live on Sky

Man Utd 8/13
Draw 12/5
Wigan 4/1

Get on: Man Utd

United have won six of their last eight matches; the Latics are winless in six. This is United’s only hope of a trophy this season, they’re the weekend nap.
Match Special:
Van Nistelrooy and Rooney both to score 11/2
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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I'm Not A Hooligan

I'm Not a Hooligan
Launched in 2002 "I'm Not a Hooligan" is back.

Show your support for a violence free 2006 World Cup.

Purchase a range of "I'm Not a Hooligan" products from Soccerphile.

T-shirts, bags, boxer shorts, thongs, sweat shirts, mouse mats

Monday, February 20, 2006

European Leagues Statistical Review

Dinamo's defence toughest in Europe

Dinamova nepropusna obrana

Sedam primljenih pogodaka u 18 kola, od čega devet gostovanja, uključujući Rijeku, Varaždin i Split - to je trenutna obrambena bilanca zagrebačkog Dinama. Dok se mnogo mjeseci Dinamo mogao dičiti apsolutnom najboljom gol-razlikom u Europi (po čemu je i dalje među prvih pet), danas se ponosi najčvršćom obranom u okviru državnih prvenstava. Razumljivo je da ovaj statistički podatak ne stavlja modru obranu ispred Juventusove ili Chelseajeve, ali odlično zvuči i govori o vrhunskoj ozbiljnosti u igri Kužeove momčadi.

Neposredno iza Dinama su dvije momčadi iz Gruzije, Lokomotiv i Dinamo iz Tbilisija, te ukrajinski Šahtar iz Donjecka, što govori o primatu obrana u zemljama bivšeg Sovjetskog Saveza. Od zapadnoeuropskih klubova, ističe se Bordeaux sa samo 12 primljenih golova u 26 kola, dok je Chelsea svoj izvanredan postotak, koji je bio niži od 0,50, pokvarila s nevjerojatnih 0:3 u Middlesbroughu. (O. Podnar)


Najmanje primljenih golova:

1. Dinamo Zagreb 7/18 0,39
2. Lokomotiv Tbilisi 6/15 0,40
3. Šahtar 8/19 0,42
4-5. Bordeaux 12/26 0,46
Dinamo Tbilisi 7/15 0,46
6. Elbasani 11/21 0,52
7. Dinamo Kiev 11/19 0,58
8-9. Juventus 15/25 0,60
Fehervar 9/15 0,60
10. Chelsea 16/26 0,61
11. PSV Eindhoven 15/24 0,62
12-13. Olympiacos 12/19 0,63
AEK Atena 12/19 0,63
14. Sarajevo 10/15 0,66


Napomena:
Brojevi označuju primljene golove, odigrane utakmice i prosjek primljenih golova po utakmici

Sunday, February 19, 2006

European Leagues Statistical Review

Dinamo's defence toughest in Europe

Dinamova nepropusna obrana

Sedam primljenih pogodaka u 18 kola, od čega devet gostovanja, uključujući Rijeku, Varaždin i Split - to je trenutna obrambena bilanca zagrebačkog Dinama. Dok se mnogo mjeseci Dinamo mogao dičiti apsolutnom najboljom gol-razlikom u Europi (po čemu je i dalje među prvih pet), danas se ponosi najčvršćom obranom u okviru državnih prvenstava. Razumljivo je da ovaj statistički podatak ne stavlja modru obranu ispred Juventusove ili Chelseajeve, ali odlično zvuči i govori o vrhunskoj ozbiljnosti u igri Kužeove momčadi.

Neposredno iza Dinama su dvije momčadi iz Gruzije, Lokomotiv i Dinamo iz Tbilisija, te ukrajinski Šahtar iz Donjecka, što govori o primatu obrana u zemljama bivšeg Sovjetskog Saveza. Od zapadnoeuropskih klubova, ističe se Bordeaux sa samo 12 primljenih golova u 26 kola, dok je Chelsea svoj izvanredan postotak, koji je bio niži od 0,50, pokvarila s nevjerojatnih 0:3 u Middlesbroughu. (O. Podnar)


Najmanje primljenih golova:

1. Dinamo Zagreb 7/18 0,39
2. Lokomotiv Tbilisi 6/15 0,40
3. Šahtar 8/19 0,42
4-5. Bordeaux 12/26 0,46
Dinamo Tbilisi 7/15 0,46
6. Elbasani 11/21 0,52
7. Dinamo Kiev 11/19 0,58
8-9. Juventus 15/25 0,60
Fehervar 9/15 0,60
10. Chelsea 16/26 0,61
11. PSV Eindhoven 15/24 0,62
12-13. Olympiacos 12/19 0,63
AEK Atena 12/19 0,63
14. Sarajevo 10/15 0,66
Napomena:
Brojevi označuju primljene golove, odigrane utakmice i prosjek primljenih golova po utakmici

Copyright Soccerphile/SN

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

European Soccer Leagues

Dinamov čvrst korak kroz HNL

Ipak europska kvaliteta u Maksimiru?

Zagrebački je Dinamo 15 pobjedom u 1. HNL učvrstio svoj položaj u europskoj eliti, što mu je solidna utjeha u sezoni u kojoj se nije ni natjecao u europskim kupovima. Trenutni plijen od 87% skupljenih bodova na tragu je najuspješnije Dinamove sezone, one 1996/97, u kojoj je trener bio Otto Barić. Da bi nadmašio postotak bodova iz te sezone, Dinamo bi međutim smio ispustiti još samo jedan bod. Rekord je ipak sekundaran u usporedbi s naslovom prvaka, a Zagrepčani se još ne smiju smatrati pobjednicima. Nije li Barcelona zadnjih tjedana pokazala kako se u razmaku od devet dana prednost od 12 bodova može svesti na šest?

Na ostalim europskim terenima, samo sofijski CSKA gura s više od 90% osvojenih bodova u državnom prvenstvu, a u prilog mu ide i najmanji broj odigranih kola u Bugarskoj - samo 14. Od prvenstava koja su odmakla dalje, najuspješnije lidere imaju Grci i Ukrajinci. Olympiakos je dobio 17 od 19 utakmica i time zaradio postotak od 89%, koliko ima i neporaženi kijevski Dinamo. Realno najbolji rezultat ima Juventus, koji u Serie A "vozi" brzinom od zapanjujućih 88% bodova.

Jedini klub koji se nalazi u prvih 12 po postotku bodova, a da nije vodeća momčad prvenstva, je Šahtar iz Donjecka, prošlogodišnji ukrajinski prvak.

Najveći postotak bodova

1. CSKA Sofija 40/14 95%
2-3. Olympiacos 51/19 89%
Dinamo Kijev 51/19 89%
4. Juventus 66/25 88%
5. Dinamo Zagreb 47/18 87%
6. Fenerbahce 52/20 86,7%
7. Bayern 54/21 85,7%
8. Chelsea 66/26 84,6%
9. Šahtar 48/19 84,2%
10. PSV Eindhoven 60/24 83,3%
11. Celtic 64/26 82%
12. FC Kopenhagen 49/20 81,6%

Napomena:
Brojke označuju osvojene bodove, odigrane utakmice i postotak osvojenih bodova.

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

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Give the Neville his due
Much like “Mike Riley waves away United’s penalty appeal,” or “Robbie Savage saved him from being booked there,” the phrase “Good old Gary Neville” is rarer than a Peter Crouch screamer. But thanks to Gary’s recent jig in front of the Scouse supporters, the match between Liverpool and Man U will now be tastier than a chicken madras after seven pints of lager.

Neville’s lucky he’s not Spanish, Barcelona fans once threw a pig’s head at Luis Figo; Liverpool fans are unlikely to follow suit, Helen Chamberlain works on a Saturday morning. Will Neville react to the inevitable abuse? You can back him to receive a yellow at 12/5, a red at 33/1.

It’s not just the fans that will be on Neville’s back, Fowler, Carragher and Gerrard will be keeping one eye open, Stevie G is 11/4 to be booked and 16/1 to be carded for a challenge on Red Nev.

I try to avoid discussing men’s hairstyles as a general rule, but I think Harry Kewell’s decision to wear his hair in a bun was ill advised, Wayne Rooney will probably eat it. Rucker Rooney will be there or thereabouts if it all goes off, he’s 7/4 to get his name in the book.

On a related note, there’s also a game of football. Liverpool are 11/8 to follow up a convincing win over Arsenal, indulge.

All the romantics would like to see Alan Shearer bow out with a trophy at Newcastle. I am not a romantic; I did give the wife a card for Valentines Day though, a yellow. Any more liberties and she’ll be elbowed quicker than a central defender in the vicinity of big Al. The Toon look to have too much for a woeful Southampton, play at 4/11.

Chelsea’s ‘Baldrick like’ plan to play on an awful surface to stifle Barcelona is somewhat flawed. Their recent form has been poor, and a slip up against Colchester is a distinct possibility. The Champions are without Terry and Gallas, their pitch is a beach and the big Champions League match is in the back of the player’s minds. Only the rich and the foolish will back Chelsea at 1/10, the draw at 5/1 is the road for the enlightened.

David O’Leary is rarely a bundle of laughs, but when the Djemba brothers refused to return from the ANC in time to face Newcastle, he was positively apoplectic. O’Leary cheered up when his Villa team went on to murder the Geordies 1-2; a Coleless Man City can expect to be pommeled in a similar fashion, only with a result that justifies the play. Villa are a 6/5 steal.

It’s been a magnificent seven wins on the bounce for West Ham, but eight is a mission impossible. Stelios helped Greece to a Euro 2004 victory, he can inspire Bolton to FA Cup glory. Back Sam’s men at Even money.

Fair play to the Premier League, after Tottenham failed to beat Sunderland last week, they’re making them play again, as a punishment for questioning the whole competition’s integrity. Spurs v Wigan is the only Premiership match this weekend, get on Tottenham at 4/6 at fortress White Hart Lane.

Drinking is not big or clever, the weekend specials are:

“JD & Coke” - Defoe and Reo-Coker both to score 16/1
“Sutton comfort” - Chris Sutton to score at any time 11/8
“Half a Murphy's” - Danny Murphy to score and Tottenham to win 2-0 25/1
“Johnny walker” - John Terry to be sent off 50/1
“Blue, none” - Chelsea not to score 8/1
“A nice Claret” - West Ham and Aston Villa both to win 13/2
“Stout” – Wayne Rooney to score two or more goals 15/2

Quote of the week:

“No player is happy after they’ve been left out. We haven’t left him out…”
Steve Bruce after Nicky Butt made way for little Alex.

Stat, you’re a liberty:

Arsenal’s demise has been grossly exaggerated. The Gunners top the stats table for successful passes and shot accuracy.

Acc of the week:

Liverpool, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Tottenham and a Preston draw all look to be either in the bag or hovering close to the edge, the accer pays out at 34/1.

Weekend Betting:

Liverpool v Man Utd FA Cup Saturday 18th February 12.30 Live on BBC

Liverpool 11/8
Draw 2/1
Man Utd 7/4

Get on: Liverpool

The recent league match at Old Trafford would suggest that these two are evenly matched; home advantage will be the decisive factor. Liverpool haven’t scored two goals in a home match since Boxing Day, 1-0 to the Pool.
Match Special:
Liverpool to win 1-0 6/1

Bolton v West Ham FA Cup Saturday 18th February 15.00

Bolton Evs
Draw 9/4
West Ham 9/4

Get on: Bolton

Bolton knocked the Hammers out of the League Cup this season and won their League meet at Upton Park. Big Sam has Al’s number, home win.
Match Special:
Stelios to score at any time 9/4

Charlton v Brentford FA Cup Saturday 18th February 15.00

Charlton 4/11
Draw 3/1
Brentford 13/2

Get on: Charlton

They’ve met three times before in the FA Cup, the Addicks qualified every time. Charlton have kept a clean sheet at the Valley in their last four league games, they won’t be stung by the Bees.
Match Special:
Darren Bent to score two or more goals 4/1

Newcastle v Southampton FA Cup Saturday 18th February 17.40 Live on BBC

Newcastle 4/11
Draw 3/1
Southampton 13/2

Get on: Newcastle

The Saints have earned two points from their last six league matches; the Toon army have won two on the bounce. You’ve got to fancy the Geordies.
Match Special:
Emre to score direct from a free kick 10/1

Preston v Middlesbrough FA Cup Sunday 19th February 14.00

Preston 13/8
Draw 2/1
Middlesbrough 6/4

Get on: Draw

The once mighty Preston have a good record against Boro in the Cup, they’ve won three of the five meet ups. Preston are unbeaten since September, 25 matches in all competitions. You never know what you’ll get with Boro, I’m backing the draw.
Match Special:
Match to finish 1-1 11/2

Stoke v Birmingham FA Cup Sunday 19th February 14.00

Stoke 9/4
Draw 9/4
Birmingham Evs

Get on: Draw

Stoke are in awful form in the Championship, they’ve drawn three of their last nine matches, and lost the other six; they’re the Birmingham of the Championship. The last time Blues visited the Brittania, they won the match 7-0; I can foresee seven less goals in this one.
Match Special:
No goal scorer in the match 8/1

Chelsea v Colchester FA Cup Sunday 19th February 16.00 Live on Sky

Chelsea 1/10
Draw 5/1
Colchester 25/1

Get on: Draw

Chelsea have only won two of their last six matches, Colchester have won 10 of their last 12. The Champions may well win, but you can’t be on at 1/10.
Match Special:
Colchester to score one goal or more 9/4

Aston Villa v Man City FA Cup Sunday 19th February 18.30 Live on BBC

Aston Villa 6/5
Draw 11/5
Man City 15/8

Get on: Aston Villa

Villa have only lost 2 of their last 11 matches, and the Newcastle defeat can be disregarded. City have only won once on the road since August, the Villa are a ‘must bet’.
Match Special:
Aston Villa to score three or more goals 9/2

Tottenham v Wigan Premiership Sunday 19th February 13.15 Live on Sky

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

Get on: Tottenham

Tottenham have only lost once at the Lane all season, it’s five without a win for the Latics. Spurs left the JJB with three points earlier this season, make mine a double.
Match Special:
Tottenham to keep a clean sheet 6/5

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Mighty once again

At long last the much deserved prefix "The Mighty" can be attached to Boro once again and more than deservedly so after Saturday's 3-0 pasting of top of the pops Chelsea.

It was tempting to stick it back on there when we trampled all over the dirty Mackems, but common sense, the fact that they beat us earlier in the season and a sudden realisation of how mediocre a feat beating Sunderland actually is prevailed and "The Mighty..." stayed in the cupboard. I mean, let's just think about that - The Mighty Birmingham? Doesn't sound quite right really does it? The Mighty Portsmouth? Nope. The mighty Blackburn? Need I go on? No, but I will for a little bit - The Mighty Charlton, The Mighty Fulham, The Mighty Brentford...No, none of them sound quite right.

With an almost full strength squad to pick from and a top notch defensive performance from Southgate and Riggot (of all people) which has been rarer than steak tartare recently, it's almost tempting to go along with Stevie "Out" McClaren's injury list excuses. Almost...let's not get carried away here, after all the result is merely another blip on Boro's ridiculously inconsistent season. Let's not forget we were hammered 4-0 by Aston Villa just a week earlier, truly struggled to get past Coventry in the FA cup and have been nothing short of utterly pants for quite some time. Actually, no, let's forget that and bask in the glory for a while, after all we've just inflicted Mourinho's heaviest defeat as Chelsea manager, we're absolutely class - YYEEEEEEEEEESSSS! YEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSS! YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSS! GEEEEERRRRRRIIINNN!! OWEEOWEEOWEEEEEEEE! Aye, none of this nay saying and doom-mongering, we've just beaten the champions, COME ON! We'll be challenging for the title, champions league place at the very least, more than likely we'll win the FA cup and the UEFA cup, aye we're off now, look out VFB Stuttgart, ye beware Preston, with a full strength squad The Mighty Boro have proved they're unstoppable!
The Brick by Paul DeBrick - Buy this book from Amazon
Tonight's team news: Morrison's out again with a knackered hip, no Mendieta and Maccarone will not be playing due to a broken nose picked up during a training ground "accident".

The Brick by Paul DeBrick - Buy this book from Amazon UK

Monday, February 13, 2006

Bad Timing Opens Doors For Locals

Haphazard scheduling has forced Australia into naming an experimental 18-strong travelling party for next week's Asian Cup qualifier with Bahrain.

Somehow the Socceroos' opening participation since being welcomed into the Asian confederation at the start of the year doesn't fall on a FIFA-protected match date, a ruling which means clubs are not forced to make players available for national team duty the way they are on official FIFA dates.

And while the management of the 24 AFC members who open their 2007 Asian Cup qualifying campaigns are scratching their heads over that decision, they have another quandary to contend with. Next week is also chock full of European club competition making a mockery of the AFC's midweek scheduling for what is expected to be Australia's toughest assignment throughout the six-match preliminary phase.

Among those players unavailable because of Champions League or UEFA Cup duty are regular first-teamers Mark Viduka, Mark Schwarzer, Scott Chipperfield, Harry Kewell, Jason Culina and Zeljko Kalac. Meanwhile, Blackburn, Everton and Parma have also taken advantage of FIFA's relaxed rules to stop the likes of Brett Emerton, Lucas Neill, Tim Cahill, Marco Bresciano and Vince Grella linking up with the squad.

The conclusion is sure to leave the Bahrainis happier than the Australians.

In all, of the 18 players head coach Guus Hiddink selected for the second leg of the World Cup playoff against Uruguay late last year, only two - Tony Vidmar and Josip Skoko - remain. Even Hiddink himself is tied up with the first leg of PSV Eindhoven's Champions League tie with Lyon leaving assistants Graham Arnold and Johan Neeskens in charge.

The Aussies, though, are well versed in coping with player absences. And as always, when the door shuts for someone, it opens for another.

In the squad announced on Friday, the Socceroos have welcomed six newcomers including a credible four from the Hyundai A-League. In total, an unprecedented eight players have been selected from the local competition, something nobody dared dream during the dark days of the former NSL.

Among those, Adelaide United defender Michael Valkanis will hope to make his full international debut aged 31 while 20-year-olds Spase Dilevski and Nick Ward have enjoyed rapid promotions from the under-20 squad which competed in the World Youth Championship last year.

“I am thrilled that we have such a strong team even without some of the boys who are tied up with European commitments,” said Arnold who will take the reigns as the senior coach on the night.

“Several of these players have been very close to earlier selection and now their time has come. With Guus having made it clear that the team for the World Cup in Germany is in no way settled, we are setting the scene for a very competitive selection for June.

“Bahrain is on form the hardest team we will meet in the Asian Cup qualifiers - having narrowly missed World Cup qualification in the play-off against Trinidad and Tobago - and we are impressed with what we have seen in the extensive footage we have of their recent matches.

"It will take a team as strong as the one we have selected to test them to the full when they are playing at home.”

Goalkeepers
Ante Covic (Hammarby, Sweden), Michael Petkovic (Sivasspor, Turkey)

Defenders
Michael Beauchamp (Central Coast Mariners, Australia), Alvin Ceccoli (Sydney FC, Australia), Jon McKain (Timosoara Politechnica, Romania), Jade North (Newcastle Jets, Australia), Michael Thwaite (FC National, Romania), Michael Valkanis (Adelaide United, Australia), Tony Vidmar (NAC Breda, Holland)

Midfielders
David Carney (Sydney FC, Australia), Spase Dilevski (Queensland Roar, Australia), Ahmad Elrich (Fulham, England), Josip Skoko (Stoke, England), Nick Ward (Perth Glory, Australia), Luke Wilkshire (Bristol City, England)

Strikers
Alex Brosque (Queensland Roar, Australia), Brett Holman (Excelsior, Holland), Scott McDonald (Motherwell, Scotland)

Hyundai A-League Summary Round 21

Adelaide United (43 points) ended up coasting to the premiership despite a final round defeat to second-placed Sydney FC (36 points) ending their record nine-match unbeaten run. The Central Coast Mariners (32 points) and Newcastle Jets (31) completed the line-up for the final series which will culminate in the Grand Final in the first week of March.

Perth Glory (29 points), Queensland Roar (28) and Melbourne Victory (26) were the Australian-based sides to miss out while the beleaguered New Zealand Knights (6) finished a distant eighth. Assistant coach Tommy Mason was the first casualty - but certainly not the last - of a dismal inaugural season.

Travel
Hostels in Australia - Hostelworld
Hotels in Australia - Expedia UK
Hotels in Australia - Expedia US

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Samurai Blue 2006 … the first hiccup (USA 3 Japan 2)

Well in defeat at least they didn’t fall on their swords. In fact, they attempted valiantly to bloody their opponent’s nose. But, bar the rather extraordinary last 25 minutes (when Japan scored twice), the Japan USA friendly match was largely an embarrassment if you were supporting Japan. It will certainly act as a wake up call in Japan’s preparations for the World Cup.

The obvious things were obvious from the start. The States were bigger and stronger, but a little surprisingly, they were also more skillful and sharper at everything they did. There can be no excuses in that first hour for Japan being so slow to wake up at almost every restart. And concentration was non-existent throughout the match.

Other things became obvious, too, during those painful first sixty minutes.

Zico Japan will be heavily reliant on the experience of those players currently plying their trade abroad. None of them played against the USA. The bunch that did play lacked belief until the late resurgence, but by then the game was already lost.

Zico desperately needs to find a consistent formation that works. Playing six in midfield seems bizarre. It means that Japan get the ball but have nowhere to distribute it. Rather than highlighting the strength in that area, six in midfield throws the weaknesses in both defence and attack into sharp relief.

The defence was a panic zone. Nakazawa didn’t get close enough to his man. When he did, he was brushed off too easily. Miyamoto may excite the female fans, but he just isn’t up to it, either in ability or height. The full-backs got turned inside out all afternoon, and seemed oblivious to a quick start. They need to get tighter to their opponents. They need to wake up. But above all, the defence need to stop reacting to a ball into the box as if it is a grenade that’s been hurled into their penalty area. They all had a torrid afternoon.

The attack managed just one shot in the first hour. Poor old Kubo up front all alone (for more on the wonderful Kubo go here). His back may be better but he must be in pain after enduring those forty-five minutes. The two goals came at the end, and made the scoreline look respectable. At least one of the forwards who came on in the second-half, Maki, managed to score. But Sato, the SanFrecce Hiroshima player who was a prolific scorer in the league last year, hardly got a touch.

The bright points were few and far between. Japan looked half-decent when the full-backs got to the byline and whipped in crosses. Ono showed some decent touches. Kubo is back from injury. And at least they didn’t give up. But if they want to live up to their catchphrase of "Samurai Blue", then in future they’ll have to suit up for battle well before the last 30 minutes of a game.




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AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS - Reflection

Overall the competition will no doubt be deemed a success by the Local Organising Committee. They will be able to back up this statement with images of Egypt's sell out crowds and the excitement generated by the teams success. I wonder what the situation would have been if Egypt had fallen at the first hurdle?

Despite what you might think I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Egypt, as I had mixed with the locals and haggled my way around using my ever decreasing knowledge of Arabic. ( The more I used, the more problems I encountered. As people assumed I knew more - check the back of any guide book and that was the extent of my knowledge). The people are eager to create a good impression of their country but many are more interested in pestering you for money. My purchase of a student card from the S.F.A. proved a good investment as I used it a number of times to receive discount. (I did pay baksheesh to make up the difference - honest!).

The fact that Egypt received no votes for a recent World Cup bid was proved to be the right decision. As despite a high presence of local volunteers at the stadiums the infrastructure left a lot to be desired. At the first game exit gates were still locked at the end of the game. The presence of the Guantanamo supporters led to no go areas in stadiums and caused problems for the few spectators. The road and rail system which I tested, did get me to all the destinations but there was insufficient signposting (i.e. none) to help out. This was a challenge I enjoyed but I am not sure that if there had been thousands of visiting fans they would have felt the same way.

The sales of tickets were particularly poor, and the LOC's idea to bring in the military ridiculed their comments about the tournament capturing the nations imagination. At all games apart from the Cairo International Stadium, at least one end was filled by the Guantanamo supporters. In a bid to improve attendances further, fans were let in for free for the third games in the qualifying groups. This didn't stop the locals who held tickets trying to sell them to unsuspecting foreigners!

The standard of refereeing was a welcome surprise to me. Despite some dubious off side calls in the opening games, the referees looked to keep the focus on the game of football and not on themselves . The home team did receive a number of favourable decisions most notably the referee in the Senegal match appearing to award a penalty and then change his mind.

The World Cup teams failed to capitalise on their qualifying campaigns. Only Ivory Coast can be considered a real threat for the finals in this summer, in both games against Egypt they played the better football and in Arouna Kone had one of the best players at the competition. The Togoans in particular looked weak and will have to vastly improve to ensure they are not embarrassed in Germany. The Tunisians decision to play a weakened team against Guinea appeared to backfire as they struggled in their next game to show the fluency seen in their opening two fixtures.

Ghana looked to have a good balance but failed to fulfill their promise by being unable to win when it mattered against Zimbabwe, a performance that asked questions of the managers motivational skills. Angola started strongly against Cameroon and gave a good account of themselves against the best team in the competition. The next game against Congo saw them struggle to a goalless draw against a side reduced to 10 men after only 20 minutes.

Watching Egypt's games it was apparent early on that something was wrong with Mido. Game by game the length of his shorts increased. What we didn't realise that his feet were growing at the same time and by the time he was substituted against Senegal it would appear that he was too big for his boots!

Attending the African Cup of Nations has been a great way of meeting the people and seeing some of the wonderful sights in Egypt. Would I come back? Would you believe I already have.

Insh'alitalia (Italian Airlines willing). I was due to fly home on the 04.00a.m flight after the finals, in a bid to see my own team that day. I left Cairo to the sounds that became familiar immediately upon my arrival - the beeping of car horns, but this time celebrating their 5th victory in the African Nations Cup (Don't remind an Egyptian that only 3 teams took part in the first two competitions that they won).

I mentioned the problems I had on the way out, and I have since been made aware that two friends on different flights had actually missed games due to maintenance problems and strikes at Alitalia delaying flights. So I was uncertain if I would be able to make my journey according to the proposed schedule. My flight departed on time, but after 35 minutes the captain announced that we were to return to Cairo as a passenger was unwell. The plane duly returned and there I was back in Cairo only one hour after leaving. The passenger was fine and we resumed our journey. The delay simply meant I had to run to make my connection in Milan and the flight arrived home on time. Due to missing my early morning prayer call, I forgot to say prayers for my team and they duly put on a show which left few spectators with much faith in them.

Maybe this Inshallah stuff works! So, Inshallah my next trip is off to Germany in the summer. Anyone got any spare tickets!

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Friday, February 10, 2006

Egypt 2006: Mark Bright's View

On the eve of the African Cup of Nations final, the BBC’s Mark Bright has told Soccerphile he thinks the tournament has been a mixed bag.

The face of the corporation’s African football coverage in recent years told Soccerphile that what impressive showings there have been in Egypt have been equally matched by the disappointments.

“Guinea played well,” said Bright, while “Egypt and Cameroon along with Cote d’Ivoire have played the best football, but I did not think Nigeria or Senegal played well at all and Togo were poor.”

World Cup qualifiers Togo, who boasted Emmanuel Sheyi Adebayor, the top scorer in Africa’s World Cup qualifying groups, exited the tournament with three straight losses and not a little friction in their dressing room.

“Adebayor wreaked havoc in the camp by all accounts, nobody has a good word to say about him.” Bright commented.

Togo and Angola, both qualifers for Germany, failed to make the last eight in the African Cup of Nations, along with Ghana, whom Bright thought were “easily forgettable! They were unimpressive.”

“Their midfield trio missing cost them any real chance,” he went on. I can't see them doing that well based on how they played here. Plus Kingston will be suspended for the first 3 games having been sent off.”

In response to having his injury absence questioned by Ghana manager Radomir Dujkovic, Michael Essien issued a remarkable press release insisting he looked on his coach, “as my father” and asked for the fans’ prayers “at this difficult time.”

“I’m not sure how much the coach is to blame,” thought Bright on reflection. “I think it is too easy to blame him. Essien obviously was a factor but I didn't see anything that would frighten anyone at the World Cup.”

Bright starred for seven clubs in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s and most famously formed one half of Crystal Palace’s ‘Wright & Bright’ strike partnership alongside future Arsenal legend Ian Wright.

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Thursday, February 9, 2006

Rob ‘n Peter to slay Paul

I’ll be honest with you all, I am not, nor have ever been, a practicing doctor. However, I know a case of robsavitis when I see it, a medical condition that makes you collapse for no apparent reason. Arjen Robben is the latest high profile sufferer, hopefully he’ll recover in time to face a freefalling Boro.

Steve McClaren’s team are in a relegation battle and the fans are revolting. One supporter ran 60 yards to throw his season ticket towards the Boro bench; McClaren’s considering a £4 million bid. The irate fan has been allowed to return to the Riverside; the Judges in Middlesbrough are a particularly cruel bunch, the fan asked for a custodial sentence.

Boro’s Lee Cattermole shed a tear on the pitch after Villa put four past them, he’ll be bawling like a ginger haired school girl when Chelsea are finished with them. 4/11’s short, but as my wife always says, size isn’t important.

I’m afraid I have to have another pop at Peter Crouch. Thierry Henry scores roughly two goals every three games for Arsenal, while Ruud Van Nistelrooy scores more than two in three for Man U. Crouchy has scored 4 goals in 31 appearances for Liverpool, an average of two goals every 15 ½ games, and that’s with help from the dubious goals panel.

I’ve criticised Peter Crouch on a few occasions this season, if he ever sees me, he’ll probably want to hit me; i’d better change my name to Annette. The big man has scored 50% of his total goals for Liverpool against Wigan; with Robbie Fowler chomping on the bit, the Reds are definitely worth a nibble at 4/5 to leave the JJB with three points.

Tottenham travel to the Stadium of Light to play Sunderland, the Premier League equivalent of a bye. With or without madman Mido, Spurs have the points in the bag; invest at 2/5. A gentleman’s agreement stopped Danny Murphy from making his debut last week against Charlton, but he’s not bitter. Dan the man’s a 7/2 shot to open his account for the Lilywhites.

Rio Ferdinand returns to the Man U team after receiving a ban for clattering Robbie Savage. It was a harsh dismissal in my opinion; Savage throws himself to the ground if the cost of curling tongs rises above the rate of inflation. Rio looks set to retain his place in the middle of the park, he’s accustomed to a holding role. Ronaldo is back in the goals, Rooney and Nistelrooy are straight out of the top drawer; a trip to Portsmouth should hold no fear for the Red Devils, they’re good things at 1/2.

Like a fat man who runs a marathon, the residents of Newcastle were overjoyed when the Sweaty Sock was removed. Unfortunately, cheers turned to tears when Glenn Roeder was placed in the chair, he famously relegated a team that included Joe Cole, Kanoute, Di Canio and Defoe; imagine what he’ll do with Boumsong and Bramble. The Geordies are useless on the Roed; make Aston Villa your weekend nap at 6/5.

Sol Campbell’s a lot like me, he likes a quick half before going home. Arsenal were solid at the back in his absence last week, they can get the better of Bolton at Highbury. Back the Gunners at 1/2, you’ll be depressed if you miss it.

Valentines Day is around the corner, there’s a little bit of love in the weekend specials

“Love is in the air” - Peter Lovenkrands to score with a header 7/1
“My Hart will go on” - John Hartson to score a hat-trick 33/1
“The passion of the Crist” - Ronaldo to be booked 2/1
“A total eclipse of the Bart” - Joey Barton to be sent off 25/1
“Surly Val and Tyne” - Carvalho and Shearer both to be booked 9/1

Quote of the week:

“I must go to the hospital to see Robben; he must have broken his neck.”

Rafa Benitez is alright by me.

Stat, you’re a liberty:

Wafer thin step over merchant Ronaldo has a worse disciplinary record than Robbie Savage this season.

Stat, you’re an absolute liberty:

Every time Manchester United have visited Portsmouth in the Premiership, they’ve been beaten.

Acc of the week:

Liverpool, Aston Villa, Fulham, Man City and West Ham form the weekend accer, it’s a 22/1 beauty.

Weekend Betting:

Wigan v Liverpool Saturday 11th February 12.45 Live on PPV

Wigan 11/4
Draw 12/5
Liverpool 4/5

Get on: Liverpool

Wigan haven’t won in three since they booked a trip to Cardiff, the Pool are playing better than recent results suggest.
Match Special:
Liverpool to keep a clean sheet 5/4

Arsenal v Bolton Saturday 11th February 15.00

Arsenal 1/2
Draw 5/2
Bolton 5/1

Get on: Arsenal

Only Chelsea have won more matches at home than the Gunners, Bolton have gone four matches on the road without recording a win.
Match Special:
Thierry Henry to score direct from a free kick 7/1

Aston Villa v Newcastle Saturday 11th February 15.00

Aston Villa 6/5
Draw 11/5
Newcastle 15/8

Get on: Aston Villa

Villa have lost only 1 in 10, Newcastle have lost their last four league matches on the road without scoring. Historically, the Villa are unbeaten in their last six face-offs with the Toon Army.
Match Special:
Luke Moore to score two or more goals 13/2

Everton v Blackburn Saturday 11th February 15.00

Everton 11/10
Draw 9/4
Blackburn 2/1

Get on: Everton

Everton sit on top of the recent form table, Blackburn lost at West Brom in their last match.
Match Special:
Cahill to score the only goal of the game 33/1

Fulham v West Brom Saturday 11th February 15.00

Fulham 5/6
Draw 9/4
West Brom 11/4

Get on: Fulham

Fulham are unbeatable at home in the league, the Baggies are very beatable on the road; or off the road.
Match Special:
Fulham to keep a clean sheet 11/8

Middlesbrough v Chelsea Saturday 11th February 15.00

Middlesbrough 13/2
Draw 3/1
Chelsea 4/11

Get on: Chelsea

The Boro have conceded 17 goals in 6 matches; Sunderland, Coventry and Nuneaton were in that elite group. It’s a question of how many; the answer is two or three.
Match Special:
Chelsea to win 2-0 or 3-0 13/5

Portsmouth v Man Utd Saturday 11th February 17.15 Live on PPV

Portsmouth 5/1
Draw 5/2
Man Utd 1/2

Get on: Man Utd

It’s five without a win for Pompey, United have scored 18 goals in 6 games. It could be a pasting.
Match Special:
Ronaldo to score at any time 2/1

Sunderland v Tottenham Sunday 12th February 13.30 Live on Sky

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

Get on: Tottenham

A high scoring encounter historically, there have been three goals or more in each of the last 10 meets. I can see a few goals again, all to Tottenham.
Match Special:
Tottenham to win 3-0 7/1

Man City v Charlton Sunday 12th February 16.00 Live on Sky

Man City 4/5
Draw 12/5
Charlton 11/4

Get on: Man City

Psycho’s men have won their last four at home, the Addicks haven’t won an away match in the league since October. City have found the net 11 times in the last three meetings with Charlton, they’ll fancy this one.
Match Special:
Joey Barton to score at any time 11/4


West Ham v Birmingham Monday 13th February 20.00 Live on Sky

West Ham 4/5
Draw 12/5
Birmingham 11/4

Get on: West Ham

It’s six straight wins for the Hammers, averaging 2.5 goals a game. Blues are playing well at home, but they’re still struggling on the road.
Match Special:
West Ham to score three or more goals 3/1


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AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS - Talk like an Egyptian

As the tournament reaches its last days I felt it was time to reflect on life in Egypt and how much having the knowledge I have now, would have helped me when I first set foot here in Egypt.

Arriving in Cairo you are thrown at the mercy of the locals who will try out every scam they can think of in order to get you to part with your cash. They will give very little away as they realise the power they have over you, a stranger in a foreign land.

"Welcome to Egypt". A standard greeting given by any Egyptian looking for your money. Engaging in conversation will see them then ask you your name and where you are from. Don't be surprised if next time you pass the same area someone else calls out your name and says "Remember me?" the chances are the first person you spoke to has briefed the neighbourhood and now your personal details are no longer protected by the Data Protection Act.

By now I am no longer surprised that when someone wants to show me where I want to go that the route taken is by way of their families papyrus shop which sells quality hand painted pharaonic scenes.

The number of people using these lines, has led me to the conclusion that somewhere in Egypt there is an English language school where these lines are taught. Once they have learnt how to repeat these lines they seem to think that they will then be able to make their fortune out of unsuspecting tourists. As a result they leave the school without finishing the course. This results in a conversation where they repeat the lines they have learnt over and over, whilst you at first think that they may be able to help and may engage in conversation. Which you will soon realise is going nowhere.

Policemen and young children alike will give the game away as they shout, in your wake, "Hallo, money". Seeing you as a commodity that they want to get a piece of.

"Just wait 5 Egyptian minutes," the guides will tell you as they explain the attractions in front of you. They then add "5 Egyptian minutes is maybe 5 hours in your own country" If only I had known this when I first went to the Ministry of Youth that first morning.

"Get, to the ground early". This is no joke, throughout my stay here I will have spent over a day solely inside the Cairo International stadium. Turning up three hours before the kick off has become normal for any Egypt game.

"The price for this is..."Do not believe a word, every time there has been additional extras along the way. The Egyptians don't understand that we like to know how much things cost and that if agreed that is what we will pay. They think they can add on extras later and everyone will still be happy. Haggling is a way of life and exorbitant prices will be set in the hope that you are too weary to join in.

"Get a taxi" In response to any request for directions and asking where the local transport is, this is the answer they will give. Even the guide to this competition is misleading in giving distances to the stadiums. It states that in Ismailia the stadium is 13km away. In actual fact it is near the town centre and walking distance from the train station.

These scenarios are common around the world. However I do believe that Egypt is one place where these scams are practised from a young age, and that the majority of people leave school before finishing.

Being aware that this is how things work from the start meant that I had no problems dealing with life here in Cairo. I have the added bonus that now I can describe events depicted in the pharaonic reliefs. Haven't got round to working out the hieroglyphics yet as I am still trying to remember the Arabic numbers.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2006

AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS - False Gods

Egypt
An ill wind blows through Cairo (curtailing sightseeing) this morning. Newspapers are carried into the air and swirl upwards their destination uncertain. You close your eyes as you walk down the street to avoid the dust. Your own future uncertain as your visibility is reduced and the motorists are lying in wait, but give themselves away at the last second by repeatedly using their horns.

The Egyptians are delighted that their faith has been rewarded by a place in the final of this competition. They see this as just reward for a team led by their star Mido (peace be upon him). Going into this competition I got the feeling that they did not trust the team but that they worshipped Mido. When stopped in the street and asked about the team the Egyptians would always ask for an opinion on Mido. "Mido, the terrible" (the expression used in the newspapers as a compliment) my reply, left them confused as they felt I had not yet started to answer the question.

When pressed further if you did not issue compliments they would stare at you and insist that you explain further whilst they would then insist in proving that this is the best player they have ever seen. This attitude is prevalent in society here and anything that does not meet their way of thinking is seen as wrong and unacceptable, and of course will be dealt with in time by you know who.

The manner in which they reached the final may leave them a little confused as Mido did his best to ruin everything by having a blazing row with coach Shehata, when substituted. This could have undone everything the team had worked so hard for. Mido's replacement Amr Zaki, showing far more composure, concentrated on matters on the pitch and scored immediately after coming on. At the same time reducing Mido to a mere mortal bystander.

I understand that the Egyptians have already thrown him out of the squad and suspended him for six months. In this competition they have shown that they are not a one man team and that players compliment each other. Whilst there have been strong individual performances from Barakat, Aboutrika, Motaeb and Said it is the teamwork they have shown that has seen them overwhelm opposition and leave them with 4 wins and a draw and a goal tally of 12 for and only 3 against.

The coach Shehata should be congratulated for the achievement and for his brave decision to register his own free speech and show the world that this is the way forward.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2006

AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS - Health and Safety

AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS - Health and Safety
AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS - Health and Safety
FIFA have announced that they were concerned that at the recent Egypt v Cote D'Ivoire game there appeared to be people sitting in the aisles, obstructing gangways and making it difficult for people to leave the stadium in the result of an emergency situation. This led to a statement being issued in which they highlighted how they wished to educate the Egyptians, to reduce the possibilities of any accidents.

I can confirm that this has been common place at all stadiums, despite the grounds not always being full. Often parts of the stadium have been off limits, either not opened or occupied by the Guantanamo supporters, thus creating problems in the areas where genuine spectators have been allowed access.

After two weeks now in Egypt I think that this is only a minor concern and that they should be having a look at the bigger picture. You could start with a trip to the stadium where the following hazards may be encountered.

To start with negotiating lifts that have a mind of their own. Where the gap between the floor and the bottom of the lift allows a clear offside decision to be made as often there is a 6 inch gap between the floor and the lift. These same lifts are known to stop in between floors and regularly the lights will go out.

Walking out on the streets you immediately take in the Cairo air, which within minutes leaves you feeling that you need to brush your teeth, or as a smoker put it to me that he had 20 cigarettes for breakfast. Seeing bread transported through the streets, made me realise how they got that Cairo taste into it.

The pavement often has unprotected man holes which collect rubbish. Everyday folk ignore them and manage to negotiate them. Whilst wherever work is taking place on the roads rubble is left at the side of road and construction workers will throw down large objects, from great heights, on to piles of sand. With no protection for pedestrians or even motorists.

I read an article in the paper recently which highlighted further my feelings on the roads, as it finished with the line "death is inevitable" referring to pedestrians risking life and limb to cross the road.

The cars on the road use their horns instead of brakes and headlights are switched on at night only to add more impact to the blaring horn to move the car in front out of the way.

The public transport seems to think that it will be fined for loitering if they actually come to a halt. People are seen regularly running after and jumping on the bus whilst coming of the bus you take your life in your own hands as your momentum sends you running, often into the oncoming traffic. Even on the metro the doors remain open for the briefest of periods and you have to fight to get on or of before the door shuts.

Having negotiated these obstacles the spectators are happy to sit in the aisles as in comparison, as it is no more dangerous that the rest of their day.

If FIFA thinks that there is a problem they should be confirming with the Egyptians the number of tickets sold for each section and making sure that no one enters without a ticket. By doing this then everyone would know where they stood. On the eve of the Egypt v Congo game an e-mail was sent to all ticketholders who had purchased tickets over the internet advising them that the gates of the stadium would once again close at 4p.m. Once again valid ticketholders were denied entry to the stadium.

In Egypt H & S, simply stands for happy and smiling. Despite all the hazards in peoples way they overcome them in everyday life. Right now the people of Egypt are proud of their teams performance. The win over a weakened Ivory Coast side gave them great heart and now as the tournaments top scorers and with home advantage they are looking forward to winning their 5th title this coming Friday. Inshallah.

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Croatian Soccer Miroslav Blazevic's New Joke

Miroslav Blazevic's New Joke

Dijo que quería dirigir al Estrella Roja y luego lo retractó

Muy sorprendidos estuvieron los aficionados croatas al enterarse que Miroslav Blazevic admitió querer entrenar al "enemigo", concretamente al Estrella Roja serbio.

Declarado como gran patriota croata, Blazevic confesó al diario Kurir de Belgrado que el próximo junio le gustaría tomar las riendas del Estrella Roja, símbolo deportivo de Serbia, archienemiga de Croacia.

- "Me dijo Walter Zenga (actual entrenador del Estrella) que se iba en junio. Si me llama Dragan Stojkovic, vengo inmediatamente. No tengo prejuicios contra los serbios y quisiera redondear mi carrera de entrenador ganando un trofeo en el Marakana de Belgrado." - dijo Blazevic a Kurir.

Entre otras cosas, alegó que era un gran amigo de "Piksi" Stojkovic, presidente del Estrella Roja y que la guerra entre serbios y croatas hace 10 ańos fue "tontería".

- "Entre mi pueblo y el vuestro pasaron cosas tontas que hicieron mucho dańo a todos. Tantos jóvenes murieron que todos nosotros llegamos a parecer unos imbéciles."

En cuanto a la acogida que le depararían los ultras serbios, Blazevic afirmó estar convencido de que acabaría por conquistarles.

- "Soy muy majo y estoy seguro de que encontraría una lengua común con ellos."

El sorpresón duró un día, ya que Blazevic explicó que lo había dicho de broma.

- "Sabéis que a veces soy un payaso a la hora de hablar a la prensa. Sólo me pongo serio cuando entreno. Lo demás es una fiesta. A veces le tomo el pelo a la gente y me entienden mal. ?Que pude decirle al periodista que me preguntaba si quería entrenar al Estrella Roja? Desde luego que le dije que sí." - expresó el croata al diario Jutarnji list.

El presidente del Estrella Roja, Stojkovic, a su vez entendió la broma.
- "Blazevic es un gran entrenador, pero es aún más grande como personaje de espectáculo. Muchas veces ha dicho que quería ser entrenador del Estrella. Pero, sus palabras no tienen fundamento ya que tenemos entrenador al que creemos, Walter Zenga."

Jail For A Foul?

Will Croatian Keeper Be Jailed For A Foul?

Amenaza de prisión por una dura falta

Didulica: "Parece mentira que seré procesado"

El portero internacional croata Joey Didulica se ha mostrado sorprendido por la noticia de que está siendo procesado por la grave falta hecha el pasado mayo sobre Axel Lawaree del Rapid Viena.

Didulica, del Austria Viena, dio un golpe de rodilla en la cara de Lawaree, por la que fue sancionado con ocho partidos. Lawaree quedó con la nariz rota, pero pronto volvió a la actividad deportiva.

La fiscalía de Austria ha acusado al australo-croata de haber causado una lesión grave de forma intencional y el castigo máximo que le puede tocar es de tres ańos de prisión, aunque es poco probable que llegue a tanto.

- "No termino de creer que un duelo futbolístico pueda acabar ante un tribunal. Después de aquel incidente, la policía me envio a un juez de investigación y este ha enviado el caso al tribunal. Parece que hice algo muy, muy terrible." - seńalo Didulica desde Hong-Kong, donde se encuentra con la selección en el Torneo Carlsberg.

- "En Austria obviamente todo es posible, incluso que me traten como criminal. Allí pueden suceder todo tipo de cosas a extranjeros. Los medios escribieron que estaba loco y que debía ir a una terapia."

Didulica intentó disculparse con Lawaree en dos ocasiones, pero el belga dijo que le gustaría que Didulica fuese condenado.

- "?Cuántas veces yo tuve la nariz fracturada y cuántas veces me golpearon cuando tuve el balón? Siempre acepté la mano y no me querellé con nadie. Y es que Lawaree incluso no sufrió ni la conmoción cerebral." - se queja el portero, que sin embargo agradece a su club por haberle renovado después de la "histeria" levantada en su contra por aquel golpe en el clásico de Viena.

Budget Hotels - Portugal
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Saturday, February 4, 2006

AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS - Only fools and camels

Egypt
AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS - Only fools and camels

After 11 days of non-stop football, at last a break. I used the opportunity to head for the pyramids, and also take in the Sufi dancing. The Sufi's follow a Muslim mystic order who spin and whirl to attain a trance like state, it reminded me off defenders who have come up against Eto'o in this competition.

Giza pyramids lie just 8km south west of Cairo and are reached by a dual carriageway that runs right past them. Not content with just driving up to them I opted to take the classic approach and went to hire a camel for the day. As with everything in Egypt the price seems to be negotiable and there are always hidden extras. As well as this baksheesh is expected at every turn for even the smallest of service. The price was agreed and during the course of the trip extras were added. More money was required for entry to the pyramids, then for the guide and the boys looking after the camel. By now I am well aware that the Egyptian salesmen will never give you the full story and will always be looking for more money. The police at Giza could be seen openly counting their takings for the day from what appeared to be on the spot fines for cutting corners and causing damage to the monuments.

It has been the same with asking directions. The standard reply is that wherever you ask to go you will need a taxi. In some cases this may well be true. But in a number of cases the intended destination has been a five minute walk away. Even if you ask for the mini-bus station for the local bus they will deny that their is one, until you point one out.

The art of the salesman is demonstrated in every walk of life. Everyone is looking for their cut. Whenever anything is being sold without a price the Egyptians will ask for what we think is a fair price. Bearing in mind that some people work for the equivalent of 15 British pounds, this is understandable, and chances are that what we offer is a kings ransom. One of the many other ploys frequently used is that they will never have any change. There are times when I think I am getting used to life her for example when I am congratulated for having exactly the right amount of money in my hand to pay. The reason they are so happy is that it is too much.

Being aware of these facts I went off to more Pyramids at Dashur and Saqqara. These are around 35km from Cairo and everyone recommends taking a taxi. I took the metro to the end of the line and wandered round the streets of Helwan. It was a pleasant change as I was totally ignored by the locals unlike everywhere else I have been. Using the multi lingual skills I have acquired over the years I pointed out what I would like for breakfast from a bakers. (Still need to work on my numbers as I asked for 2 fig rolls and got eight.)

Now I needed a taxi as the pyramids were still 10km away and they cover a vast site. Decided to ensure that the driver spoke English so I could be confident that he would wait for me. After 10 minutes I eventually found a driver for the day, Salah warmly greeted me and we set off. Five minutes down the road he had to stop to ask for directions. I realised he had never been here before and invited him to join me at the first pyramid. He gladly accepted, although I think he changed his mind during our trip inside. The pharaohs of Egypt are to be respected and have ensured that everyone who visits them bows, by making the passage to their tomb around a metre high. Crouched down we descended the 63 metres and 118 steps . I looked back up the shaft to see he had stopped and was gasping for breath. Worried that firstly I might need to carry him out and secondly that I might lose my driver for the day I told him to stay where he was and return if it was too much. We emerged unscathed but that was the last time he came with me.

The next pyramid was a more remote sight, and there were only the tourist police in evidence. One mounted on a camel and the other calling over to me asking if I wanted help. He told me all about the pyramid and its surroundings and then asked if I wanted to ride the police camel. Can you imagine at home, you get to the match early, there is no one about and the mounted policeman offers you a ride on his horse! Of course I took him up on this offer and rode round the pyramids while the police with gun in hand ensured I did not make off for the desert. I had the necessary small change and left my baksheesh as the police held their finger to their mouth so that I told no-one!

Another experience was being led to a papyrus shop where in open conversation my host came out with "luvverly, jubberly" during his sales patter. Somewhat taken aback by this I looked out side for the reliant robin, but it was no where to be seen.

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European Qualifiers In Sight

Euro 2008 Qualification Prospects

Will Scotland miss out on yet another finals?

Natjecanje u kvalifikacijama započinje 2. rujna ove godine. Iz svake skupine dvije prvoplasirane putuju u Austriju i Švicarsku. Obje zemlje domaćini automatski su uključene u završnicu.

Skupina A

Portugal
Poljska
Srbija i Crna gora
Belgija
Finska
Armenija
Azerbajdžan
Kazahstan

Jaka skupina s četiri momčadi koje mogu na Euro. Poslastica će biti i "derbiji začelja", dvoboji kavkaskih neprijatelja Armenaca i Azerbajdžanaca. Ovi potonji su Srbiji i Crnoj gori uzeli četiri od šest bodova u kvalifikacijama za Portugal 2004., pa je srpski tv-komentator na vijest da će opet igrati s Azerbajdžancima kliknuo: "Kud, bre, opet ovi!"

Skupina B

Francuska
Italija
Ukrajina
Škotska
Litva
Gruzija
Farski otoci

Jadna će Škotska preskočiti još jedno prvenstvo. Francuska i Italija veliki su favoriti, mada su naše simpatije s Ukrajincima. Prevelik je ulog u igri da bi bilo Francuska bilo Italija kiksali.

Skupina C

Grčka
Turska
Norveška
Bosna i Hercegovina
Mađarska
Moldavija
Malta

Najizjednačenija skupina, jedina iz koje se pet momčadi smije nadati plasmanu. Da, i naši pobratimi Mađari. Možda je Turska za nijansu iznad ostalih, dok su Grčka i Norveška podjednake. Zaboravimo da su Grci europski prvaci, ove će kvalifikacije biti sasvim druga pjesma.

Skupina C

Češka
Njemačka
Slovačka
Irska
Wales
Cipar
San Marino

Češka i Slovačka, bratske reprezentacije, teško će se zajedno plasirati u završnicu. No, jedna od njih bi to mogla učiniti, vjerojatnije Češka. Njemačka nikada ne posrće u kvalifikacijama, čak ni kad igra ispod svake kritike.

Skupina E

Engleska
Hrvatska
Rusija
Izrael
Estonija
Makedonija
Andora

Engleska je najjača, nema dvojbe. Jasno je i da će Rusija biti naš najžešći rival za drugo mjesto, dok je Izrael nagazna mina u grupi. Opasne Hrvatskoj mogu biti i Estonija i Makedonija, ne u smislu da će se plasirati iznad nje, nego da joj mogu otkinuti koji bod, kao što su već činile.

Skupina F

Švedska
Španjolska
Danska
Latvija
Island
Sjeverna Irska
Lihtenštajn

Neugodna skupina. Španjolska bi mogla, prvi puta nakon 1992., ostati bez nastupa u završnici. Švedska i Danska oduvijek se dobro razumiju a najbolje će im odgovarati po jedna pobjeda, umjesto dva neriješena.

Skupina G

Nizozemska
Rumunjska
Bugarska
Slovenija
Albanija
Bjelorusija
Luksemburg

Slovenija vjeruje da može dalje kao druga, iza Nizozemske. Međutim, odlučujući će dvoboj za to drugo mjesto biti između Bugarske i Rumunjske. I Albanija i Bjelorusija mogu nekome uzeti važne bodove.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

The Gram of God

Beating the bookies is an enjoyable pastime, but is there more to life? Recently, I’ve felt an urge to discover a deeper meaning to my existence, leading me to conduct a little research in the field of religion and spirituality, in search of enlightenment, in search of God.

As always, the first stop for any serious researcher is Sky Sports News. Within 15 minutes, I’d discovered that the Holy One is a Scouse scally by the name of Robbie Fowler.

In football, as in life, sometimes you have to go back to move forward, and the signing of Fowler is a step in the right direction for the Reds. The Pool’s midfield is as creative as any in the league, yet a misfiring Cisse, an overrated Morientes and a game but ultimately limited Crouch have failed to take chances in the big matches. The Pool have flopped against Chelsea on three occasions this season, with God on their side, that’s about to change. Kop a load of the Reds at 7/2.

I don’t dislike Robbie Savage, to be honest I can take him or leave him; and I could definitely take him. Mark Hughes believes that the blonde nause is unfairly criticised at times, claiming that Robbie is more sinned against than sinner. The jury’s out on that one; they’re back, he’s guilty.

Rob’s mob are a tasty looking punt at 6/4 away at West Brom. The Baggies lack a quality striker up front; I suggest that they sign Rob Earnshaw in the summer.

It was always going to happen; after Gary Neville’s crotch-shaking badge-kissing Scouse-baiting goal celebration, Man U were destined to be drawn away at Anfield in the next round of the Cup.

It’s tough to pick a winner in that one, but at home to Fulham in the League, United are a confident call at 1/4. No visiting team has left Old Trafford with a clean sheet this season; the zero in Fulham’s away win column can breathe easily.

Arsene Wenger has (once again) bought extremely well in the transfer window. In Diaby, they finally have a replacement for Vieira, while Walcott is a young Henry. The future’s bright, the future’s raspberry. Arsene sends his young guns to an improving Birmingham, 9/4 is on the table about the draw; help yourself to seconds.

Poor old Paul Scharner, he’s been in the Country for nearly a month, and his team-mates haven’t filled him in on ‘Rule 1’; he had to learn the hard way that the laying of hands on Duncan Ferguson is strictly prohibited. Without Jason Roberts, Wigan will be taught another lesson at the Reebok. Bolton are the bet of the week at 10/11.

Joey Barton’s decision to hand in a transfer request was a strange one. The City board overlooked his awful interpretation of Hamlet at a Christmas party, and were lenient after a pre-season brawl with a teenage Everton fan. Barton will start against an Everton side without madman Duncan Ferguson; be like Joey, mark the coupon with an X. The draw is available at 9/4.

The weekend specials:

“Kop idol” - Robbie Fowler to score and Liverpool to win 1-0 55/1
“Duncan disorderly” – Everton to have a player sent off 10/1
“Ash, bang wallop” - Dean Ashton to score a hat-trick 16/1
“Sutton for the weekend” - Chris Sutton to score and Birmingham to win 1-0 50/1
“Barton, think” – Joey Barton to be booked 7/4

Quote of the week:

“I feel like a kid waking up on Christmas morning.”

Robbie Fowler: Racehorse owner, property magnate and excitable 30 year old.

Revelation of the week:

Robbie Savage’s middle name is…Willy

Stat, you’re a liberty:

It’s a brave man that criticises Stuart Pearce; I am not a brave man. Man City have only won once away from home since August, it must be an anomaly.

Acc of the week:

Bolton, Blackburn, West Ham, Man Utd and Tottenham are the five good things on the coupon, the accer will pay out at 14/1.

Weekend Betting:

Birmingham v Arsenal Saturday 4th February 15.00

Birmingham 11/4
Draw 9/4
Arsenal 5/6

Get on: Draw

Liverpool and Man U had to settle for a point at St Andrews. After three consecutive 1-0 defeats on the road, the Gunners will be reasonably happy with a point.
Match Special:
Match to finish 1-1 or 2-2 4/1

Bolton v Wigan Saturday 4th February 15.00

Bolton 10/11
Draw 9/4
Wigan 5/2

Get on: Bolton

It’s been five months since a visiting team left the Reebok with three points. Wigan have only won two of their last nine matches away from home; chalk this one up to Big Sam.
Match Special:
Stelios to score at any time 2/1

Everton v Man City Saturday 4th February 15.00

Everton Evs
Draw 9/4
Man City 9/4

Get on: Draw

It’s eight matches undefeated for the Toffeemen; City have only one won match on the road in five months. It’s been 14 years since City left Goodison with three points, a tough match to call.
Match Special:
Match to finish 0-0 or 1-1 3/1

Middlesbrough v Aston Villa Saturday 4th February 15.00

Middlesbrough 11/8
Draw 2/1
Aston Villa 7/4

Get on: Aston Villa

Boro haven’t won a league match at the Riverside since last November, the Villa are unbeaten in six on their travels.
Match Special:
Milan Baros to score two or more goals 7/1

Newcastle v Portsmouth Saturday 4th February 15.00

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

Get on: Draw

Pompey have lost their last six on the road against Premiership opposition; the Geordies look an average outfit without Michael Owen. The last four matches between these two have been drawn, I spy another.
Match Special:
Alan Shearer not to score 4/6

West Brom v Blackburn Saturday 4th February 15.00

West Brom 6/4
Draw 11/5
Blackburn 6/4

Get on: Blackburn

Sunderland and Villa were the last two visitors to the Hawthorns, they both left with the points. Blackburn have won their last three on the road in the league, you can see that run continuing.
Match Special:
Pedersen to score the only goal of the game 45/1

West Ham v Sunderland Saturday 4th February 15.00

West Ham 4/7
Draw 12/5
Sunderland 9/2

Get on: West Ham

The Hammers have won five on the bounce, scoring two goals or more in each match. Sunderland are the worst team in the history of the Premiership.
Match Special:
Dean Ashton to score two or more goals 5/1

Man Utd v Fulham Saturday 4th February 17.15 Live on PPV

Man Utd 1/4
Draw 7/2
Fulham 10/1

Get on: Man Utd

Fulham will win away from home this season, but it won’t be today. It’s been over four months since a team left Old Trafford with more than a point, banker home win.
Match Special:
Van Nistelrooy to score a hat-trick 14/1

Tottenham v Charlton Sunday 5th February 13.30 Live on Sky

Tottenham 8/13
Draw 12/5
Charlton 4/1

Get on: Tottenham

Spurs are defending an impressive home record; the Champions are the only team to leave the Lane victorious. It’s been three months since the Addicks won a league match away from home.
Match Special:
Danny Murphy to score from outside the penalty area 9/1

Chelsea v Liverpool Sunday 5th February 16.00 Live on Sky

Chelsea 8/11
Draw 11/5
Liverpool 7/2

Get on: Liverpool

It’s now three matches without a win for the Champions, and six matches without a clean sheet. Seven of the last nine meetings between these two have produced one goal or less; the Pool can score, and one goal will be enough to take the points.
Match Special:
Liverpool to win 1-0 9/1

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Wednesday, February 1, 2006

European Championship Qualifiers Preview

Euro 2008 Qualification Prospects

Will Scotland miss out on yet another finals?

Natjecanje u kvalifikacijama započinje 2. rujna ove godine. Iz svake skupine dvije prvoplasirane putuju u Austriju i Švicarsku. Obje zemlje domaćini automatski su uključene u završnicu.

Skupina A

Portugal
Poljska
Srbija i Crna gora
Belgija
Finska
Armenija
Azerbajdžan
Kazahstan

Jaka skupina s četiri momčadi koje mogu na Euro. Poslastica će biti i "derbiji začelja", dvoboji kavkaskih neprijatelja Armenaca i Azerbajdžanaca. Ovi potonji su Srbiji i Crnoj gori uzeli četiri od šest bodova u kvalifikacijama za Portugal 2004., pa je srpski tv-komentator na vijest da će opet igrati s Azerbajdžancima kliknuo: "Kud, bre, opet ovi!"

Skupina B

Francuska
Italija
Ukrajina
Škotska
Litva
Gruzija
Farski otoci

Jadna će Škotska preskočiti još jedno prvenstvo. Francuska i Italija veliki su favoriti, mada su naše simpatije s Ukrajincima. Prevelik je ulog u igri da bi bilo Francuska bilo Italija kiksali.

Skupina C

Grčka
Turska
Norveška
Bosna i Hercegovina
Mađarska
Moldavija
Malta

Najizjednačenija skupina, jedina iz koje se pet momčadi smije nadati plasmanu. Da, i naši pobratimi Mađari. Možda je Turska za nijansu iznad ostalih, dok su Grčka i Norveška podjednake. Zaboravimo da su Grci europski prvaci, ove će kvalifikacije biti sasvim druga pjesma.

Skupina C

Češka
Njemačka
Slovačka
Irska
Wales
Cipar
San Marino

Češka i Slovačka, bratske reprezentacije, teško će se zajedno plasirati u završnicu. No, jedna od njih bi to mogla učiniti, vjerojatnije Češka. Njemačka nikada ne posrće u kvalifikacijama, čak ni kad igra ispod svake kritike.

Skupina E

Engleska
Hrvatska
Rusija
Izrael
Estonija
Makedonija
Andora

Engleska je najjača, nema dvojbe. Jasno je i da će Rusija biti naš najžešći rival za drugo mjesto, dok je Izrael nagazna mina u grupi. Opasne Hrvatskoj mogu biti i Estonija i Makedonija, ne u smislu da će se plasirati iznad nje, nego da joj mogu otkinuti koji bod, kao što su već činile.

Skupina F

Švedska
Španjolska
Danska
Latvija
Island
Sjeverna Irska
Lihtenštajn

Neugodna skupina. Španjolska bi mogla, prvi puta nakon 1992., ostati bez nastupa u završnici. Švedska i Danska oduvijek se dobro razumiju a najbolje će im odgovarati po jedna pobjeda, umjesto dva neriješena.

Skupina G

Nizozemska
Rumunjska
Bugarska
Slovenija
Albanija
Bjelorusija
Luksemburg

Slovenija vjeruje da može dalje kao druga, iza Nizozemske. Međutim, odlučujući će dvoboj za to drugo mjesto biti između Bugarske i Rumunjske. I Albanija i Bjelorusija mogu nekome uzeti važne bodove.

Copyright Soccerphile/Zri Sport

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