Friday, November 30, 2007

Portugal versus Denmark

I was recently on a road-trip of Northern Mozambique with a couple of friends who had the wisdom of bringing a small travel version of Football TP. It gave numerous hours of entertainment and discussion as we struggled through the dirt-roads of the Mozambican hinterlands in a 4x4 Pick-up truck.

While many of the questions could lead to long posting on this website, one of the questions I received got some actuality only one week later, as the qualifying groups for the World Cup in South Africa 2010 were drawn: which country has Denmark never manage to defeat: Mexico, Argentina, Portugal or the Czech Republic?

I knew it wasn’t Argentina or the Czechs, but was in doubt about the last two, but answered Mexico. Nevertheless, to my surprise, the correct answer was Portugal!

Now, Denmark drew exactly Portugal for the World Cup qualifiers! I doubt Denmark, with as weak players as they have now, can provide Cristiano Ronaldo & Co. with their first defeat ever. And the group is not easy: another team is the eternal Scandinavian arch-rivals from Sweden, whom Denmark had some clashes with for the EURO 2008 qualifiers!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A comment on England

After pathetically failing to qualify for the EURO 2008 by losing 2-3 to Croatia at home and subsequently firing the coach Mr. McLaren (who was thus the shortest serving coach ever in the history of the FA), England is the most talked-about theme in football circles, not least in England itself. Uncountable theories and thoughts are given on the subject, so I thought I may add my personal comment on England among the immense forest of opinions, where mine may be nothing but a shrub.

It is indeed a pity that some of the players that are most easily recognizable from the Premier League, drowning us all in great matches anywhere in the world almost every week, will not be present in the EURO 2008.

However, as many voices are saying, maybe one has to consider whether England just doesn’t have the players, that they are overrated…?

I personally think they are not. These are great players, playing on some of the world’s best teams, alongside other of the world´s best players.

But they may be suffering from a disillusionment of national team football: maybe playing for England isn’t as glamorous any more. Maybe glory lies in the championship, at the same time as being a star on the England team just isn’t the same: one is insulted and trashed for everything, and pressure just grows to show results…

That is the other theory: maybe playing for England is just so demanding, due to the petty nationalism of football, that even star players from the world’s biggest teams are intimidated into not performing?

Thus, it is maybe it is simply the pressure from the vicious press and spectators, ever more pursuing the glory of the “mother of football”? Mr. McLaren may have suffered this: it was apparently a direct reason for the use of the goalie for the Croatia match, and well, I have always found it strange that Mr. Lampard and Mr. Gerrard both play on the same team, in spite of them both being great players.

Or it may just be that: English arrogance, that they are simply not that good. I don’t think so; I believe the English are very aware that they are not the world´s best as they insisted until 1950, only to lose their first world cup match to the USA. However, there is a problem somewhere, since I, as so many, think that England does belong in the big tournaments.

And well, Gerrard, Owen, Wright-Phillips, Rooney… they will all be missed.

Next time guys.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

EURO 2008 Qualified Teams

Most of the countries had been settled before the last match-day of the EURO 2008 qualifiers, with only a few remaining doubts.

In spite of strong support, the Northern Irish missed their small chance for qualifying after losing to Spain 0-1 in the Canary Islands and thus not repeating their legendary 1982 World Cup victory against the Spaniards. With Sweden winning as well, the Scandinavians will accompany the Spaniards, leaving the happy Irish to look forward to another chance.

Finland had a tiny chance to qualify for the first time ever, if they could defeat Portugal away. However, in spite of an apparently close match, Finland failed to qualify, with Portugal taking their spot by playing 0-0. They will follow Poland, who again qualify for a major tournament (bringing memories back to their splendid teams in the 1970s and 1980s), even one they will be hosting in 2012!

The big surprise is undoubtedly England, who having everything in their hands, threw it away by losing 2-3 to Croatia on Wembley. This left it all for the Russians, who with a meager 0-1 win over Andorra, qualified to leave the English out.

The final list of participants is as follows:

  • Switzerland: Host
  • Austria: Host
  • Italy: The defending world champions who won their group ahead of France.
  • France: Mighty France had some difficulties, but will be a team to watch
  • Czech Republic: Won their group splendidly ahead of the Germans and will be a team to reckon with.
  • Germany: Never to be underestimated
  • Poland: Their first ever EURO tournament! And not their last…
  • Portugal: Has some splendid players, but looked shaky in the qualifiers.
  • Spain: Always strong, but unlikely to win…
  • Sweden: A welcome team, always strong
  • Greece: the defending champs from 2004 won their group and will be interesting to watch defend the title.
  • Turkey: A strong team but not bound to be popular in Switzerland after a memorable world cup qualifier in Istambul…
  • Croatia: cruised to win their group ahead of England and is surely a team to watch with some great players. A dark horse for the title…?
  • Russia: A welcome return to the Russians, who are otherwise not looking that strong but under a marvelous coach may do wonders.
  • Romania: won their group, and is a welcome return after some former amazing teams. Apparently a young team which will be interesting to watch.
  • Netherlands: A strong team as always.

In spite of England’s exit, it is a list most interesting for its lack of surprises. All big teams, old and new are in, some of the former ones will be interesting to watch, but I predict that we will have some very interesting matches.

Let us see at the draw in December!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sheffield FC

Sheffield FC may not be in the Champions League or in the Premier League. They may be a tiny club, easily overseen in the forest of mediocre teams in the world.
Nevertheless, Sheffield FC has a special place in the heart and history of all football fans, since it is the oldest football club in the world!
So this is where the first groups of lads organised themselves into a club, for the mere satisfaction of kicking the ball around. Those guys were pioneers!
And this last week, Sheffield FC turned 150 years since its foundation, with a friendly match against the mighty AC Milan.
Congratulations Sheffield FC!!!!

PS: AC Milan won 2-5

Monday, November 12, 2007

Italian football violence

I have never been a fan of Italian football. Any reader of this site knows that. Why? In fact, because of what I consider a boring and overly organised style of play, when there is such huge potential there! I stand by that I don´t think Italy was the best team in the 2002 World Cup, but I still congratulate them for their victory!

Otherwise, if I had to choose which country´s fans to party with with after a victory, Italian tifosi are surely to be on the top of the list, mainly because of the passion and kindness characterizing them (and Italians in general).

It is therefore so sad to see what is going on now in Italy, with the death of of young Lazio fan and riots in many places. Nobody deserves to get hurt when it comes to football!
I don't know whether the blame is on (all-to-often) trigger-happy cops and plain bullies mingling with the fans. But truth is that Italy is World Champion in the greatest sport on Earth! And I hope the Champions don't give such bad publicity for their otherwise strong teams, great players and wonderful fans!


Michael Laudrup, Getafe's Danish coach, has been under pressure after taking over the job as Getafe's head coach; they were outstanding last season, qualifying for the UEFA Cup, but this season's start has been difficult.
It was therefore interesting whether Mr. Laudrup could muster his troops for a clash with FC Barcelona, where he played himself, with great success, during the 1990's.
Getafe last season eliminated Barcelona from the Spanish Copa del Rey, and there was some talk of Barcelona needing to get some kind of revenge.
However, a disappointing Barcelona side didn't seem like they were overly motivated against a well-organised Getafe side. Although Barcelona had more possession and some chances in the first half, Getafe took the lead before halftime. I had been expecting Barcelona to come out attacking, but second half was one of the most pathetic displays I have seen from Rijkaard's Barcelona side. Without Deco, Ronaldinho and Messi injured/uninspired, the rest of the team seemed poor: the youngsters Giovanni and Bojan were spineless, and Henry still seems to need more adapting to the team.
In the end, a frustrated Zambrotta got a deserved red card for a headless tackle, and Getafe made a second goal on a counter-attack, to win a well deserved victory, although against a disappointing opponent.

With Real Madrid winning an apparently spectacular game 4-3 against Mallorca the Merengues are firmly on first spot, followed by Villarreal by one point, and then Barcelona and Valencia tied with 24 points.

The Spanish League seems to be as exciting this season as it was in last, with Real Madrid looking strong, but definetly not undefeatable. I am certain we have a lot of more exciting games to come!

Friday, November 09, 2007

While I was gone

I have been out in the Mozambican bush doing poverty assessments in poor communities. Out there, on tired evenings in a random hostel, I have had urges to watch football. Even though I have seen the results of thr Champions League, I still have a huge urge to sit down, watch some matches, get excited...
The results from last round though, would have been bound to excite me:
  • Liverpool destroyed Besiktas by 8-0! Incredible to see such a result at top European level, and well, Liverpool showed they are not in as bad a shape as many were insinuating! However, they are still trailing Porto and Marseille in the standings, and need to win their last two matches.
  • Valencia lost again, at home. This time to Rosenborg! It is amazing how far the team has descended lately, and Mr. Koeman has a lot of work. Deep crisis for Valencia, who is looking unlikely to make it to the next round.
  • After being held 0-0 in Glasgow, Barcelona managed to defeat a very defensive Rangers side by 2-0. Glasgow is still on second spot with 7 points, but being threatened by Lyon, who defeated Stuttgart 4-2 to have 6 points.
  • Manchester United is looking more and more as a serious candidate for the title after crushing Dynamo Kiev by 4-0, and with four wins for four matches, is far ahead in their group F.
  • Real Madrid tied Olympiakos 0-0. They are winning their group ahead of Lazio and Olympiakos (both with 5 points), and seems progress is in their own hands.

Inter and Fenerbahce in group G, and Arsenal and Seville in group H seem set to progress on the first two spots. In many other groups however, there is the potential for some exciting matches, as more teams are potentially in the next round.

I hope to be able to watch!

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Fortunately, I have been working out in the Mozambican bush, and was not informed of the result of the Valencia-Real Madrid game until a day later...

This is the stuff that can get one to dislike football again. I am happy I have other things to thing about.


At home!? In the impregnable Mestalla!?


Ronald Koeman has only had one game as coach, but he should already be fired.