Sunday, March 27, 2005

DR Congo-Ghana

In the African World Cup Qualifiers Group 2, Ghana had an all-important away game against the DR Congo. Although without two of the main "black stars", Lyon's Michael Essien and Bayern Munich's Samuel Kuffour, Ghana played a good game. It was an intense game, with many hard but fair fights, and some good tactical display, in an extremely high pace. Both teams players were extremely tired in the end!
The game ended 1-1, which is probably a better result for Ghana. They are currently third, with 8 points, behind South Africa (12) and Cape Verde (10). However, next they will have two crucial home games against Burkina Faso and Uganda, which must be won, before heading for a great encounter against Bafana Bafana.
Ghana has never made it to the World Cup. They certainly have the players to make it this time. I hope they will, and I will be here in Ghana to support them!
And just an anecdote from the game: At half time, on Ghanaian TV3, the commentator said: "And now pray for our players to win, so this will be our resurrection day gift!"
That is football-fanaticism!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Champions league quarterfinals draw

We are down to the quarterfinals in the Champions League 2004-2005 season. After some very exciting last-16, where we saw the exit of great teams like Barcelona, Manchester United, FC Porto and Monaco, we are now ready to the following games on April 5 and 6:

Liverpool-Juventus: This match is between two of the greatest European teams through history. Sadly, the most remembered encounter between them was that in Heysel in 1985, when many died after hooligans rioted. While this will clearly be remembered, it will hopefully be a match with great football.

Inter Milan-AC Milan: The two neighboring teams have always been among the best in Europe, and their encounters arouse all of the football fanaticism of this beautiful Italian city. However, neither of them are remembered for their great play, and maybe we can expect two 0-0 games, solved on penalty kicks...

Olympique Lyon-PSV Eindhoven: The two dark-horses of this season's Champions League. Lyon has been amazing, with players like Juninho, Michael Essien and Sylvain Wiltord. PSV Eindhoven is led by perhaps the best coach in the world right now, Guus Hiddink, and is cruising in the Dutch league. Both teams can make it all the way, but I particularly expect Lyon to be the best of them.

Chelsea-Bayern Munich: The winner of this game will have taken a giant leap for the title. I have expected both teams to make it far, and now one has to leave. Chelsea made a wonderful game against Barcelona, and only thing against them is Mr. Mourinho's rabbling. Bayern is showing their former strength, and Chelsea will have to play their best to defeat Kahn & Co.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Inter-FC Porto

Inter-Oporto 3-1
Goals: Adriano (3); Jorge Costa

  • Last team to secure a place in the quarterfinals was, as expected, Inter Milan. Brazilian striker Adriano, with three goals, showed why he is one of the best strikers in Europe at the moment. Inter will, as always, be very hard to defeat. A great pity for the defending champs. Oporto has been at the top for a couple of years. But with many leaving the club last season, it was hard to stay there. But look forward seeing them again next season.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

UEFA Champions League: Last-16, 2nd leg

Chelsea-Barcelona 4-2
Goals: Eidur Gudjohnsen, Frank Lampard, Damien Duff, John Terry; Ronaldinho (2)

  • The two teams I would have preferred the most to be in the final. But such is football, that one of them had to be out. I would have been sorry if it had been Chelsea, and I am sorry it is Barcelona. But the two matches were a truly great spectacle. Chelsea is the team to watch!

AC Milan-Manchester United 1-0
Goals: Hernan Crespo

  • Hernan Crespo sealed the fate of Manchester United, scoring the lone goals in each match. Man United was a disappointment against a non-entertaining Italian side, which showed the efficiency that has made them champions before, and might also lead them to the title this season.

Olympique Lyon-Werder Bremen 7-2
Goals: Wiltord (3), Essien (2), Malouda, Berthod; Micoud, Ismael

  • This match saw the complete and utter destruction of a disillusioned German side. Lyon, on the other hand, is really emerging as this season's "dark horse". I really believe they can make it all the way, and no team whatsoever should feel comfortable playing this fantastic French side.

Juventus-Real Madrid 2-0 (after extra time)
Goals: Trezeguet, Zalayeta

  • Although an intense game, it was rather bad in outright quality. Juventus were too good in defence, and Real Madrid does not really seem to have the capacity nor the will to try to dominate a match. After first half, it became more and more predictable that Juve would get a goal, and they did through a marvellous strike by Trezeguet. Otherwise, the game belonged to the ever-fighting Camoranesi.

Arsenal-Bayern Munich 1-0
Goals: Thierry Henry

  • Arsenal did it again - got eliminated from the Champions League. They tried hard, but a great goal from Thierry Henry was not enough against a Bayern Munich team that has been so strong, that they should in every respect be considered as a serious candidate for the title.

Leverkusen-Liverpool 1-3
Goals: Krzynowek; Luis Garcia (2), Milan Baros

  • Liverpool has been excellent, giving them a hope of tasting some of their former glory. While they have showed will and spirit, they will indeed have to continue some of their best against any team in the next round. But they do have a strong team, and a coach who is used to winning...

AS Monaco-PSV Eindhoven 0-2
Goals: Vennegoor, Beasley

  • I know too little about PSV: they are a talented young team, leading in Netherlands, coached by Guus Hiddink, one of the best coaches in the world. But otherwise, I never expected them to eliminate Monaco in such a formidable way. It seems they can beat anyone. There is little expectation, and every will to show how good they are. More surprises ahead, PSV?

We still have one more to go, as Inter-Oporto was postponed until next week. Then we will know all the quarterfinalists.

Bad for Spanish football. Completely out of the quarterfinals!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


What a game! The two top teams of Europe in the moment did not disappoint! In a great clash, full of drama, intensity, fight, technique, amazing goalkeeping, controversial refereeing and great goals, Chelsea progressed to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League, after defeating Barcelona 4-2.
But it could have gone to either side. In the first game, Chelsea had to scramble to avoid a defeat larger than 1-2. At home in Stanford Bridge, an early 3-0 lead did not shake an ever-attacking Barcelona side. A dubious penalty and an amazing goal put them temporarily into the second round. Barcelona continued attacking in the second half, but a great Cech in the Chelsea goal showed why he is presently the world's best goalkeeper. And then, Chelsea captain John Terry made the goal which gave Chelsea a part in the quarterfinals.
Only bad things in the game were the pretty bad defending and the ungraceful behaviour by both coaches after the end of the match. If football is not for gentlemen, Mr. Mourinho and Mr. Riijkaard must be prime examples. But don't mind them...
It will be a joy to see Chelsea in the next round. But it is also sad to see such a great attacking team as Barcelona out of the tournament. I would have preferred a final between these two teams.
Congratulations to all Chelsea fans (foremost the super-football fanatic Mr. Abramovich).

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The greatest coach of the 20th century

One of the greatest football coaches of all time just passed away. Mr. Rinus Michels was the brain behind some of the greatest football ever seen: the total football of the Netherlands. With a long line of great players to complement him in Ajax Amsterdam, he was instrumental in creating the Ajax team that won three European cup titles in a row.
He was also Spanish champion with FC Barcelona, and in 1999 he was deservedly named as Coach of the century by FIFA.
In 1974, he led the Netherlands all the way to the World Cup final, displaying some of the most entertaining attacking football ever seen.
The Orange football machine lost the final in Munich in 1974 to the West German hosts. But 14 years later, in 1988, he was behind the Dutch triumph in the European Championship: at the very same stadium, where they had lost the 1974 final, the Netherlands defeated the USSR 2-0.
Mr. Michels gave a lot to Ducth football, and a lot to all football fanatics. He will be greatly missed."