Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Huge Champions League Breakdown

Is it just me or is this the most entertaining Champions League Group Stage in a long time? Liverpool in serious trouble with having drawn in Portugal, losing at home and losing in Turkey. One more loss and they are pretty much out of it because 1 point in 4 matches would be too much to overcome. Chelsea is in an interesting group, Madrid is all but through, Group D looks extremely interesting, Barcelona and Rangers with 7 points each for first, United ripping it up, Inter looks like their European wounds are beginning to heal and Arsenal is looking like one of the teams to beat. First off lets look at the standings.

Lets start with Group A. For me, this is the most interesting group. You have Marseille with 7, Porto with 5, Besiktas with 3 and last years finalists Liverpool dead last with 1. We're 50% done the group stages and Liverpool at 6 points behind the leaders(whom they lost to at HOME!). Right now, if Liverpool win their remaining games they will finish with 10 points. What that means is if porto win 2 out of their next 3, Porto is as good as through(the only problem is if Besiktas win their next 3). if Marseille win 1 more and at worst draw atleast one of their last 2, then Liverpool is out of the Champions League. To break it down... Marseille beats Besiktas and 1 other team, Marseille win 1 and draw 1, Liverpool are out. Heck, they might not even need that! Even if Marseille only win 1 of their next 3, Liverpool might not even make it! Ah, one can only dream. For Group A's schedule, click the following link. http://www.uefa.com/competitions/ucl/standings/round=15105/group=700480.html

Group B. If group A is the most entertaining group, group B is the most open group. What that means is anyone can go through. What seperates the first place team and the last place team is 1 victory. And all the teams still have to face each other 1 last time. Chelsea's Champions League form for this year I think has surprised people(especially considering what they went through with the whole Jose Mourinho thing). With that said, I expect Chelsea and Valencia to go through. I see Valencia beating Rosengorg next week(at home I might add). Rosenborg's next game will be versus Chelsea(at home, but I think Chelsea can atleast get a draw, but I'm saying win). That will leave Rosenborg away versus Schalke in their last game of the group stage. By then I think Valencia will have picked up 3 points at home versus Rosenborg, 3 points versus Schalke and a loss versus Chelsea. That would bring Valencia up to 10 points leaving Rosenborg with 7-8 points(depends if they beat Chelsea or not). I know this looks like I'm writing Schalke out, but with playing Valencia away and Chelsea(even if its at home, I don't care), I don't think they'll get through. Maybe finishing with 6-7 points. So Chelsea to top with Valencia second.

Group C. Group C is not so interesting. I hate to stae the obvious but we knew ever since the Champions League draw took place that Madrid will walk away with this group and they are. Olympiacos are sitting in 2nd place with 4 points but chances are that it won't last. Bremen I think, is starting to wake up and will get through the group stage. The reason I'm saying this is because Olympiacos drew at home with freaking Lazio. Taking absolutely nothing away from Lazio, but Olympiacos had to win that match. That should of been 3 points in the bank, instead of 1 and I think thats what will eventually cost them second place. But, Bremen lost away to Madrid(same as Olympiacos), lost at HOME to Olympiacos and beat Lazio at home. And that loss at home might be what seperates them from going to the next stage of the Champions League and thinking what could of happened. with all that said, I think it will come down to the last match in that group. Olympiacos vs. Bremen. even if Olympiacos is 2 points ahead or even if Bremen is 2 points ahead, it will come down to this game. Whoever wins this game(assuming it dosn't end in a draw), will walk away with 3 points and finish the group in 2nd place. Damn, 3 groups in and the only thing all but confirmed is that Chelsea and Madrid are going through to the next round.

Group D. After losing their second game, the champions are finally waking up. They barely won their first match at home versus Benfica and lost their second away to Celtic, AC Milan thrashed Shakhtar 4-1. And even with that loss, Shakhtar is in second place(the only thing seperating them and Milan is the goal difference). But unlinke last years finalists, it looks as if Milan will go through to the next round. Question is who finishes second. Much like group B, the only thing seperating the last place team and the second place team is 1 victory(or 1 loss depending on how you wanna see it). I'd like to see Celtic go through because I think they can cause more of a surprise in the group stages than Shakhtar(especially considering that they beat Milan). Not much else to talk about in this group... Next!

Group E. Ah, finally my team. Barcelona have yet to allow a single goal in the Champions League this season but Rangers are right behind them having only allowed 1 goal. Barcelona I think was more than content with having to draw away versus Rangers and next week its Rangers at Barcelona. Following rangers/Barcelona, Messi said that Rangers played "anti-football". I guess what he meant by that was that they defended nearly the entire match. I still think Messi shouldn't of said that, but I guess it makes next weeks match alot more interesting. Because I think that Rangers will try and go for the victory(or a draw if Barcelona score first... assuming they score). i think a 1-0 victory for Barcelona is more than possible. Stuttgart has scored 1 goal and conceeded 6. In other words, they are in last place with 0 points. Lyon have a chance. A very good chance. They host Stuttgart next week(thats 3 points), they place host to Barcelona(ehhh... thats either 2 points dropped in the form of a draw or 0 points in the form of a loss). And finally they go away to play Rangers. If Lyon can get a victory versus barcelona and thats a big if) than I see no reason why Lyon wouldn't be able to beat Rangers or at the very least get a draw. But I'll go with the current standings and say Barcelona and Rangers finish first and second.

Group F. United I think to no one's surprise are in first place. Honestly, its a fairly easy group. Aside from Roma who is their biggest threat, I fail to see how they wouldn't be able to snatch 12 points in their 2 matches versus Sporting and 2 versus Dynamo Kyiv. Dynamo shouldn't even be in this tournament to begin with but they are and they have gave United, Roma and Sporting 3 points each. And they still have United and Sporting away. Sporting is there to take points away from Dynamo, its that simple. Roma is there to maybe take 2 points away in a draw at home versus United and snatch points from Sporting and Dynamo. Nothing shocking here. united to finish first and Roma second.

Group G. It finally seems as if Inter can do well. They have had very good success in Italy but have always underachieved in Europe. Having gotten off to a bad start versus Fenerbahce, they picked it up ant beat PSV 2-0 at home and snatched 3 points away in Russia versus CSKA Moskva. The way I see it they will get a victory out of CSKA Moskva at home, a win versus PSV away and a draw... Nah a win at home versus Fenerbahce. I fully expect Inter to get atleast 7 points in their remaining games and I see no reason why they wouldn't be able to beat Fenerbahce at home to get 9. As for who finishes second in this group... Well to be quiet honest I don't care. but since I sort of have to give my prediction on this(mostly because I have for the other groups), I'll say PSV with Fenerbahce messing up and finishing 1 point behind PSV. There, so I have Inter to finish first and PSV to pick it up and get enough points to advance. And the easiest group of them all...

Group H. Christ can this group get ANY easier for Arsenal? They have Steaua who is group H's winning boy, Slavia who lets be honest like Steaua and Dynamo shouldn't even be near this tournament to begin with. Their only realy opposition is Sevilla who if it wasn't for Steaua and Slavia would be screwed if they were in another group. Arsenal to literally walk away with this group and Sevilla to drop 6 points versus Arsenal and finish with 12.

Well there you have it. Christ that was long. Easily the longest one I've written yet, but one of my favorites to write aswell. Like I said in the beginning, one of the most entertaining Champions League Group Stage in a long time(with group H aside of course), mostly because of the draw. usually it's 2 top teams in each group with 2 crappy teams with the 2 top teams walking away from the group and fighting for first place, but not this time. Until next time, Vamos vamos Argentina!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Riquelme with 2, Milito and Messi!

Alright, so the name dosn't make much sence, but meh. Argentina started off its World Cup Qualifier on its feet. On Saturday they took on Chile in Buenos Aires and lets just say that if missing 3 months does that to Riquelme, lets hope he misses a year! Kidding! Riquelme hasn't played a single minute of futbol in over 3 months and what happens? He scores 2 goals for his National Team. How is Riquelme not playing for Villa? Better yet, what will it take for Riquelme to play in Villa? He was possibly the best player on the field, scored 2 goals and created chances for Messi and others aswell. Argentina's best match since the Copa America(granted we've only played 2 matches since). Its good to see Riquelme back in that beautiful jersey, now its time for Basile to call up Crespo and we'll be ready to go.

So 3 points in the bag for that match and three days later Argentina is in Venezuela... Maracaibo to be exact. Yup, 3 months after Argentina loses to Brazil in the exact same stadium we're back there for a Qualifier. The match started with Venezuela trying to slow down the game and Argentina did that aswell. So lets just say it wasn't exactly the fastest match in the World. 14 minutes into the match its an Argentine free kick! Who else but Juan Roman Riquelme to take it! Riquelme with the free kick and Gabriel Milito with the header to make it 1-0 Argentina! Milito was unmarked and had all the time to head it in and he did not mess it up. Speaking of mess(i) Lionel Messi scored his first of the Qualifier with in my opinion the goal of the tournament. From Ibarra to Tevez to Messi and a strike from outside the box makes it 2-0 Argentina for the final score.

Overall 2 very good performances by Argentina. These Qualifiers will not be easy by any means. We still have Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Colombia to face. We still have 2 years until the end of the Qualifiers so plenty of time for Basile to think out his tactics(especially versus Brazil). It'll be interesting to see his line-up for Novembers match. Until next time, VAMOS VAMOS ARGENTINA!

Monday, October 08, 2007

World XI

Yup, its been a while. I've been busy with a few things, but enough of that. Its futbol time! FIFPro recently announced it's World XI team and it's an interesting one. Here's how the team looks...

I know Buffon won the World Cup and everything, but he's done nothing ever since. If I'm not mistaken didn't he spend last season in Serie B in Italy? At the moment Casillas has been playing much better, Dida played good, Cech played decent aswell. If it were up to me, I would of put Casillas just because of his recent form. Because if you compare La Liga to Serie B there's no doubt that La Liga is the tougher league.

In the back four we have Nesta, FIFA Player of the Year in Cannavaro(he should not of been anywhere NEAR that by the way), John Terry and Puyol. Nesta and Puyol I can understand. But TERRY? John 'freaking Terry?! No way in hell should he of been in this. World Cup he literally did nothing, for Chelsea this season he's been very bad(that includes the whole Jose Mourinho situation) and last season he was good at best(in my opinion). Cannavaro has to be in it because he won the FIFA Player of the Year award but lets stop there for a second. How in the World can Cannavaro win the POTY award? Because he won the World Cup? Pfft, it's not as if Italy faced any tough teams. The only tough team they faced was Germany and Zidane. Zidane was France and that was the only reason France made it to the final. I would of replaced Terry with former Argentine International Roberto Ayala. Even Javier Zanetti. And no that's not the biased part of me talking. Roberto Ayala and Javier Zanetti are better defenders than John Terry. Hands down, no doubt about it.

Midfield I would of had Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Juan Roman Riquelme. How the HELL does someone who leads his team to a Copa Libertadores and was arguably the best player of the Copa America not get listed in this? Oh right, no South American based player will ever make this list. Why? I have no idea. Gerrard is good and all but he's no magician like Riquelme. If we're couting the World Cup, Gerrard did absolutely shit all. Not only did Gerrard do shit all, the entire Englad squad did shit all. They played the ugliest futbol for a "big" nation and went out to a mediocore team(Portugal). Compare that to Argentina who played the nicest futbol in the entire tournament. Argentina vs. Serbia and Montenegro was all they needed to win that crown. 2 goals of the tournament candidates in that match alone. The first one was the 24 man pass for Argentina's second goal and the second was Tevez's goal for Argentina's 5th goal. Their match versus Mexico in Leipzig was in my opinion the match of the tournament. And it took a superb goal(goal of the tournament) by Maxi Rodriguez. Following the tournament, FIFA had a poll for goals of the tournament. In third place was Carlos Tevez's goal, second place was the 24 man pass goal and in first place was Maxi Rodriguez's goal. And just for the hell of it, here are the videos of the three goals.

Third greatest goal of the World Cup - Carlos Tevez

Second greatest goal of the World Cup - Estebeban Cambiasso

The greatest goal of the World Cup - Maxi Rodriguez

Back to the World XI. Up front Lionel Messi is a shoe in, no doubt about it. Drogba? It's debatable to be honest. Him or Ruud Van Nistelrooy? I would of gone with Ruud. Ronaldinho?... Ehh, I really don't know. Again, debatable. Did he do enough in the past year to earn that spot? He had a train wreck of a World Cup(well the Brazilian team in general) and hasn't been up to his standards ever since. But I'll give it to him just for the hell of it. Overall, decent picks. I would of changed 3-4 of them but whatever. Until next time, Vamos Vamos Argentina!