Monday, November 29, 2004

Great Liverpool victory

I have never been much of an Arsenal fan, in spite of the great team and wonderful players they have displayed in the last years. Still I have enjoyed watching them. However, watching them against Liverpool yesterday, they were as much a disappointment as Liverpool was great! After watching a defensive Liverpool in the CL against Monaco, I did not have big expectations, but Mr. Benitez seems to be getting the act together, now that a great Steven Gerrard is back to lead the way.

All goals were great in Liverpool's 2-1 victory: Xabi Alonso's beautiful hammer from Steven Gerrard's great pass, and also the beautiful passing by Robert Pires to Patrick Vieira for the Arsenal equalizer.

But the best, and here any Liverpool fan might agree, was young Neil Mellor's wonderful first goal in the dying seconds. An amazing strike, and he could not have chosen a better moment!

Arsenal is now five points behind Chelsea in the Premier League. Although too early to say, it seems there is a new champion on the way...

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Football in Ghana

I have moved to Ghana. This is not new for me, but it gives me a certain limitation in following much of European football in as much detail as I would like to (particularly Danish football, which for some strange reason draws limited attention to these parts...). However, it is not that I am completely without football: Ghanaians are passionate football fanatics like myself, and the country is crawling with talented players and charming teams.

Some of the other countries in West Africa, like Senegal and Nigeria, have had international world cup success. This has so far not happened to Ghana, although their youth teams have traditionally done very well: Twice U-17 world champions in 1993 and 1995, and they have also done well in Olympic games. For instance in the last Olympic Games, where they tied their Italian counterparts 2-2, were hailed as medal hopefuls, but ended losing to Japan. That has maybe always been a problem for Ghana, that the success of their youth success, has not tranfered to senior level.

Today, there are many Ghanaian players in Europe. Best known is probably Bayern Munuch's Sammy Kuffour, or now German citizen, Schalke's Asamoah. Eric Addo in PSV Eindhoven, John Paintsil in Maccabi Tel Aviv, Yet Ahimful in Turkish Transzopsor, Anthony Obodai in Ajax Amsterdam. There are many more, and I am only learning now. But especially one, Anthony Yeboah, brings great memories, when his magic was in Eintracht Frankfurt who forgets his amazing goal of the year?) and Leeds United.

Right now, Ghanaian club football is ahead: the two main clubs, Asante Kotoko from Kumasi, and Accra Hearts of Oak, will be playing the African Confederations cup (sort of like the UEFA cup in Europe). This will be the first time ever, two teams from the same country willbe disputing the final, so it is a big event here. However, due to coming presidential elections, the game has just been posponed to January. In any case, I do not doubt that the clash between the two African giants will be a great game. Both teams have many years of rivalry behind them, and are by far the best teams in Ghana. I look forward to witness this Ghanaian classic!

Friday, November 26, 2004

Champions League Matchday 5

For this CL round, I only had the opportunity to watch Monaco-Liverpool and PSV-Arsenal. Liverpool against Monaco was quite a bore. Liverpool defends well, but attacked little, so the game did not swim in chances. PSV has been a great positive surprise this season, and I actually expect they can get very far. Although Arsenal was a disappointment, Gus Hiddink's troops did not do more than they had to. Even when two men ahead, they did not lose their cool: they always knew that their quarterfinal spot was secure.

A thing about the first round of this CL is that it is becoming increasingly hard to see a winner: so many teams are incredibly strong! I still would tip Barcelona, although they only got a 1-1 at home to Celtic. But you got to give Celtic the spirit thye play with is great, and Barcelona will have to open up sometimes.

However, some of the Italians are looking strong: Juventus went on to the fifth 1-0 victory in a row! That has to be a record, although it does not seem the most exiting. Inter is sure to go thrugh, while a feverish game awaits between Valencia and Werder Bremen in Mestalla for the next round! Valencia must win by 1-0 or two goals ahead (this is because in case of equal points, the decision is taken for games between the contenders). At least the results went Valencia's way, and it is now in their own hand.

AC Milan is also looking strong, now with the great Argentinian Hernan Crespo, who really returned with strength, scoring two goals in the 4-0 victory against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Bayern Munich is another strong contender. The goal-machine Roy Makaay scored again in the 5-1 destruction of Maccabi Tel Aviv. Nobody will want to play the South Germans, who after a couple of dry seasons, now seem to be back at former levels.

Dynamo Kiev would also count here. They did what they had to do, defeating a disillussioned Roma side in Moscow 2-0. But this group will go to a really exiting finale. Amid appalling continued racist chants from Spanish spectators, Real Madrid could not defeat Bayer Leverkusen, and is now forced to defeat Roma in Rome (or, if they tie, hope Dynamo Kiev wins against Leverkusen). Both Leverkusen and Dynamo Kiev have their own destiny on their own hands, unless Roma saves some face and defeats Real Madrid.

On December 7th and 8th we will know which teams continue as champions, and which are losers!

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Glorious Barca!!

I have been saying it for a while: Barcelona has a new Dream team, that has the potential of reaching everything. Real Madrid, with all its 'galactic' players is of the past. This was proved yesterday. A glorious 3-0 victory with beautiful and efficient football. There is now a new king in Spanish football.
Eto'o was simply incredible, cementing the Barcelona victory. This must be a bit hard to swallow for Real Madrid, who last season let him go to Barcelona. Just like with Morientes in Monaco last season, it seems to be old Madrid players who come back to haunt them!

Maybe the fiasco of Real Madrid should not surpirse, thinking back at last season, which was one of the worst in Real Madrid's history. This year, with the great players they posses, it could only be better. However, it is cleat that Barcelona's patience and investment in a stable and harmonic team are paying off.

Visca el Barca!

Thursday, November 18, 2004


On the football aspect, a very boring game last night between Spain and England, although a deserved victory for the Spanish team, with an excellent Xavi in control.
Now, the greatest shame about the game, were the pathetic Spanish fans. Their racist shouts have no place in football. But Spain has shown absolutely no willingness to fight racism in football, mostly shown by the national coach, Mr. Aragones', comments earlier this year about Thierry Henry. While a formal regret has been posted on the website of the Spanish football federation (, it is still quite unapologetic. And of course, the racist Mr. Aragones did not even want to apologize (Who would have expected he would anyway? He was probably shouting as well...). If FIFA is any serious about anti-racism, Spain should be punished harshly.
Football is a microcosm of society around it. The great things about football, are great things about life: passion, team spirit, competition... Bad things about football, are the bad things about life: loss, violence, xenophobia.
When Spanish fans are demonstrating such behavior, and nobody in Spain seems to mind, there must be something terribly wrong in Spanish society.
Spanish fans are absolutely pathetic.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

fire Ranieri

I am tired of Mr. Ranieri in Valencia. They were wonderful last season, tis season they are very bad. It is of course also because of the leadership, that could not keep Mr. Benitez as coach. But Mr. Ranieri, who had to leave Chelsea in disgrace, was then hired by the team of the year in Spain.
He must go.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

The new Barcelona "Dream Team"

With last nights victory of 2-1 at home against Deportivo La Coruña, FC Barcelona has just equalled their best start of the Spanish season ever. This indeed symbolizes the gigantic potential of the current Barcelona team. In the early 1990's FC Barcelona had what is remembered as the "Dream Team" under the legendary Dutchman Johann Cruyff. It was a complete team, with great players like Ronald Koeman, Michael Laudrup, Hristo Stoichkov, Amor, Andoni Zubizarreta, Josep Guardiola, Jose Mari Bakero and Txiki Beguiristain. Playing entertaining and attacking football, that team went on to win four consecutive Spanish championships, as well as FC Barcelona's only victory in the Champions League, in 1992 against Sampdoria. In that period, Barcelona was by far the best Spanish side, totally overshadowing the arch-rivals from Real Madrid.

The current Barcelona team, under another Dutchman, Frank Riijkaard, is already being compared to the "Dream Team" of those days. And for now, they are bound to break their first record. I doubt it will be the last. They are very entertaining to watch, and has an amazing attack with Eto'o and/or Henrik Larsson in front, and such marvelous players in the second line of attack as Ronaldinho, Deco and Giuly. Also, Xavi on midfield has been displaying qualities which in my view makes him the best Spanish player at the moment. His superb passes remind of Michael Laudrup, while his tenacity reminds of Jose Mari Bakero. Defense is also looking good, with a never-tiring Puyol doing great work.
But in the end, the best thing about this Barcelona team, is the harmony which seems to surround it. While great players have always passed through the team, there has always been great pressure from the demanding Catalonian fans. Of course, this can still change, bur for now, the team is displaying wonderful football. At a time when so many victories are going to teams that play tactically defensive games, it is refreshing to see a great team like Barcelona play entertaining and attacking football. I hope they get very far with it, and I also think they will.

Friday, November 05, 2004

I wish Nistelrooij was on my team

My team, Abruniohene, on the UEFA Fantasy football, is not doing well. Actually, after last round, only Eto'o scored some good points, with his goal against AC Milan. However, teams who had Manchester United's (other) super striker, Ruud Van Nistelrooij, really got some good points. With four goals, Mr. Van Nistelrooij sank Sparta Prague. With Mr. Rooney and Mr. Van Nistelrooij, Manchester United must have the best attack in European football these days, although competition is hard.
On another note, Real Madrid is really showing that the team is able to fight back in the CL. They did it against Roma, and now managed a hard-fought but well-deserved tie against Dynamo Kiev.
Juventus, after defeating Bayern Munich in Munich, is looking as a serious contender for the title, although four 1-0 victories does not aim at the most entertaining football.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Barcelona-AC Milan: This is football!!!

I have been down about Valencia for some time. In spite of my favourite team facing an early exit from the CL, I have had an injection of joy, from watching Barcelona-Milan. It was almost bound to be a great game: between them, both teams have 11 players nominated for FIFA player of the year. At the same time, both teams represent two different types of football. Some would critizise AC Milan for being boring and defensive; but as I have argued before, defense is also part of football, and what AC Milan displayed yesterday was masterfully skillful defense, a truly poisonous counter-attack, and a great goalkeeper in Dida (which should definetly undemrine the myth of Brazilians being bad goalkeepers).
On the other hand, we have a truly amazing Barcelona height, which has more potential than the Barcelona "Dream Team" of the early 1990's. They love to play, to pass and to entertain. A true joy to watch, and marvelous to see their ability against such a marvelous team as Milan.
In the end, the right team won though: Barcelona. The team that attacked, and which thereby constantly searched for victory. And in the end, this marvelous performance was crowned by Ronaldinho's superb skill.
Thank you Barcelona and Milan!!!