Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Wonderful Brazil - poor Argentina

Brazil defeated Argentina 4-1 in the final of the Confederations Cup 2005, to win their second title in this tournament. Led by an excellent Ronaldinho, a dangerous Adriano and an amazing Kaka, Brazil was truly superior to Argentina in every aspect of the game. This might be less surprising than Argentina actually being that bad: Argentina has shown little in the tournament, and coach Mr. Pekerman should be very worried about the actual potential of Argentina for next years World Cup. Centering the game around Mr. Riquelme is simply too predictable, and Mr. Riquelme simply lacks the quality (that is why he never made it in Barcelona). Argentina will not get very far playing like this. Brazil on the other hand, should be heading to a new World Cup title - although it is all very early to predict...

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Football fanatic of the year nominees 3 and 4

There are some fans I have been waiting to nominate as Football Fanatics of the year for a while now.
Firstly, the owner of Chelsea Mr. Roman Abramovich. I do not know anything of his background - just that he is a Russia oil billionaire, with whatever that entails. What I do know however, is that Mr. Abramovich is a football fanatic of first class. I firmly believe that any football fanatic who had as much money as Mr. Abramovich, would spend them on buying a football team. Certainly I would... - and I would also spend millions and millions on getting the best coaches and players. In the end, I would be sitting on the stands, looking at my team win every week. What a dream!
Secondly, Manchester United fans. I have long admired them, as my experience with them is that you can have a few friendly pints of beer and talk about football with them, even when they are playing my team (something that seems utterly impossible for Arsenal fans to do). Recently, in spite of their futile efforts, they have resisted the takeover of their beloved club by American millionaire Mr. Malcolm Glazer. He is certainly not a football fanatic like Mr. Abramovich. While I am not completely aware of the football implications of this takeover, my instinctive scepticism of big business taking over the dominion of common man, makes me support the Manchester United fans who will suffer the pain of increased ticket prices, as well as a team that will become part of a global business empire. Money rules almost everything, but certainly not the hearts of football fans. Manchester United fans have become a living proof of this.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Upcoming Argentina and Brazil clashes

[Foto: flag] [Foto: flag2] With Argentina's victory against Mexico in the semifinal of the FIFA Confederations Cup, we are on our way to witness another classic encounter between the football giants Brazil and Argentina. Last time they met was in a World Cup qualifier in Buenos Aires only a few weeks ago. Then, Argentina won 3-1, and Brazil should now be ready for an entertaining and intense rematch. There is no doubt that the rivalry between these two teams is so great, that on next Wednesday, they will play their best to take the Confederations Cup title. In any case, and as I had predicted earlier, the title will go to Latin America.

These days seem to be abounding with encounters between these two nations. On the day before the Confederations Cup final, Brazil and Argentina will also face each other in the semifinal of the FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands. Thus, these teams are showing that while their senior players are among the best in the world, the youngsters are ready to continue their dominance.
The other semifinal in the Youth World Championship is between Nigeria and Morocco. Nigeria defeated hosts the Netherlands, while Morocco upset the Italians for their spots in the semifinals. This also shows the great talent coming from Africa these days. No matter who we will see in the final, it promises to be a great South American-African Youth clash!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Brazil and Greece

A day of great surprises in the 2005 Confederations Cup. After Argentina's and Germany's expected victories, Greece and Brazil were also expected to follow suit. However, the Greeks continued with their poor showing as European Champions, and lost to a motivated and organised Japanese side. In the other match, although less surprising, The Mariachi's showed that they can tame the Brazilian samba. Mexico won 1-0, and in spite of good Brazilian chances, Mexico also had the chance of of winning with a larger margin. The tournament is thus getting more exciting, but I still expect that it will end up with a Latin American winner.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Goodbye to a referee

Today I went to watch FC Copenhagen in their last game of the season, against Herfølge Boldklub. The match ended 1-1, and was exactly as boring as it sounds: Herfølge had already been relegated, while FC Copenhagen's players seemed to have gone on an early vacation.
The game was also a farewell to two of FC Copenhagen's most popular players, the South African Sibusiso Zuma and Todi Johnson from the Faroe Islands. However, the game was also a farewell to a much more interesting football character: linesman Mr. Jens Larsen.
Mr. Larsen has for many years entertained and frustrated countless Danish football fans with his awkward interpretation of the off side rule. Mr. Larsen became renowned in the 2002 World Cup, where he kept waving for nonexistent off-sides against a frustrated Italian side. On Danish TV, the commentators could not understand how a linesman from such a "great" league as the Danish one, could commit such mistakes.
The off-side rule is bound to become more predictable next season in Danish football.

Ghana World Cup bound?

Ghana has for many years been one of the leading African football nations. However, world cup glory has so far escaped the "Black Stars". I am becoming happier, that I will be in Ghana next year, when they might make their first appearance in the World Cup. Yesterday, the Black Stars took a huge leap towards making this dream come true for me (as well as for 20 million Ghanaians): In a crucial qualifier in Johannesburg, Ghana defeated South Africa 2-0, with goals by Matthew Amoah from Vitesse Arnhem and Michael Essien from Olympique Lyon.
Ghana is now leading Group 2 in the African World Cup qualifiers. They have two games left, against Congo and Cape Verde. I do hope to be celebrating with the rest of Ghana very soon!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Confederations Cup: Brazil-Greece

I am currently on vacation. As usual, I am very bored. At least, there is the Confederations Cup to waste my time with. So far, every team has been a disappointment, except one: the defending World Champions of Brazil. Tonight they showed why South America is still completely dominant when it comes to football, by giving the European Champions from Greece a true footballing lesson. 3-0, with strikes from Inter's Adriano, Santos' Robinho and Lyon's Juninho, does not really do justice to the huge qualitative difference between the two teams.
While I hope that other teams will start showing what they are able to do, Brazil is so far the only one worth wasting my vacation on!

My football fanatic blog: One year birthday

It is today exactly one year ago I started my web-log here on football fanatic. A lot of things have happened in my life as well, so I am happy to celebrate this day with a pint of good beer.
I started it all during the Euro 2004 in Portugal. My first comment was on Denmark's disappointing 0-0 with Italy.
On that same day, after I had made my posting, I watched the later champions of Greece tie 1-1 with Denmark, and Portugal defeat Russia 2-0.

I really love blogging. I will continue doing it, and I hope whoever reads these humble words will as well. I'll buy you a beer! Cheers!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

World Youth Championship 2005

[Foto: VMLogo] The World Youth Championship (U-20) is presently being played in the Netherlands. This kind of tournament always gives a good insight to some of the football stars of the future. This year seems no exception, and we are both seeing some of the old teams performing well as well as witnessing some surprises:

  • In Group A the hosts Netherlands are looking a strong contender for the title, having won their first two matches.
  • In Group B China is showing that the future of Chinese football is coming with storm, having won their first two matches against Turkey and Ukraine, and only having Panama left to play.
  • In Group C Spain is trashing all, with a score of 10-1 after two only matches.
  • Group D is very exciting, with three very strong teams. Germany is ahead with 4 points, equal to the USA, having played excellently with their 16-year old Eric Adu, who is already playing his second World Cup. Argentina is just behind on the 3rd spot.
  • Colombia is leading Group E, having won their first two matches. More surprising is that Italy is last, having lost their last match to Syria, who is trailing Colombia on 2nd spot.
  • Brazil leads Group F, although closely followed by Korea and Switzerland.

The tournament will surely have some more exciting matches!

Argentina-Tunisia and Germany-Australia

The 2005 Confederations Cup in Germany has just started with two matches.
In the first one, an unconcentrated Argentina side won 2-1 against a Tunisian side that dared too little. However, Argentina has started well, and if they concentrate they should be able to defeat both Germany and Australia. In spite of Germany winning at home, they looked very shaky, particularly in defence; a non-impressive Australia managed to make 3 goals against the hosts. Still, with some beautiful goals by Kuranyi, Ballack, Mertesacker and young Lucas Podolski (according to German TV, the new young pop-star of German football), Germany managed to get their expected victory.
In spite of many goals however, none of the teams were looking overly impressive. Actually, most goals were defence mistakes. Things will have to improve if any of the teams hope to win the tournament. At least it has started well for Argentina and Germany.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Confederations Cup 2005

The FIFA Confederations Cup 2005 is starting this Wednesday June 15th. The tournament does not carry the prestige of other tournaments, but still is a good opportunity to see some of the world's best national teams in a competitive context in a year when there are few other international tournaments.
The tournament started in 1992 in Saudi Arabia as King Fahd Cup. Since then, it has grown to become a mini-World Cup, comprising the champions from each continent. The winners have been:

  • 1992: Argentina
  • 1995: Denmark
  • 1997: Brazil
  • 1999: Mexico
  • 2001: France
  • 2003: France

This year's Confederations Cup is taking place in Germany (giving the home team a good opportunity to try out the venue of next year's World Cup), and will contain the following teams in two groups:

  • A: Argentina, Australia, Germany, Tunisia
  • B: Brazil, Greece, Japan, Mexico

The Greek European champions are making their first appearance. Germany, the home team, should be watched out for, as they will be going for it all in one of the few tournaments they have never won. All Latin American teams have won it before, and will be favourites to take the title as well. Finally, the surprise African champions of Tunisia should be watched for. The same should be said of Japan.

In any case, for some good football next week, the Confederations cup is a good bet.

    Sunday, June 12, 2005

    Danish Champions

    [Foto: Brøndby] I am back in Denmark, and as I had hoped, in perfect timing to celebrate Brøndby taking "the double". Last night Brøndby were playing at home to Herfølge. With a victory, they would secure the Danish league title, three rounds before the season ended. Michael Laudrup's team left no doubt: Herfølge was dispatched with 7-0.

    This was certainly the most amazing way to win the 10th title since 1985 (the last one was in 2002), as well as the double. This is the first coach- championship for Michael Laudrup. He is true to his football style of attacking football, and has made marvels with the Brøndby youngsters. I just hope they will be able to keep him in the team at least one more season.

    Skål for Brøndby!

    Argentina in the World Cup

    After a marvelous 3-1 victory in Buenos Aires last week against defending world champions Brazil, Argentina is now certain to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Argentina is now leading the South American qualifiers four points ahead of Brazil. They would qualify even if losing all remaining matches. Brazil is second with 27 points, Ecuador 3rd with 23 and Paraguay 4th with 22. Colombia and Chile both have 20 points on the fifth place, with Colombia having a better score, for the play-off match against Australia.
    Argentina will certainly be one of the teams to watch next year in Germany. They will certainly have my support! I have supported them for many years, as I can thank Argentina for my football fanaticism. And at least this lady should convince anyone else...

    Saturday, June 11, 2005

    Gambia-Ghana (U-17)

    On May 22nd Gambia and Ghana were playing the final of the U-17 African Championship. They were playing in Gambia. Watching it in Ghana, I was of course supporting the Black Stars. But a very curious thing happened: In the last minute of the match, the score was 0-0 when Gambia was awarded a corner kick. As they were taking it, a spectator ran into the penalty area. Amid the confusion, Jallow Ousman emerged and scored the winning goal for Gambia. The spectator, he ran off the pitch amid the cheers and quietly watched by the security. He has not been found.
    Ghanaians were understandably extremely angry, but the referee from Lesotho accepted the goal. And Gambia are U-17 champions of Africa. What do the rules say about these things!?
    These are not exactly the things African football should be known about. At the same time, it is sad that Gambia, an otherwise very talented young team, have won the title in such a disgraceful way. I hope they are ashamed.

    Friday, June 10, 2005

    While I was gone

    Due to a lot of travelling lately, I have not had the opportunity to update this site. However, I have closely followed some of the exciting things that have happened in the last four weeks.

    Firstly, I must join the choir of praise for the Champions League final between Liverpool and AC Milan. What a match! I guess I am not the only one that could never have imagined that AC Milan would throw away a 3-0 lead in a final. At the same time, Liverpool showed the same spirit and perseverance with which they defeated Olympiakos earlier in the season. Liverpool showed again, that football is about showing team spirit, fighting, and not about what players are on your team. They are true Champions.
    An anecdote: I watched the game in a hotel room in the town of Wa, in the Upper West region of Ghana. After being thrilled for two hours, as the penalty kicks were about to begin, lights went out... I almost destroyed the room! I only got to know the result through the phone...

    In the UEFA Cup there was also a surprising winner, as CSKA Moscow were the first Russian team to win a European title. This happened with their surprising 3-1 victory in Lisbon, against Sporting Lisbon.

    Many of the leagues in Europe have ended. In Spain, the enthralling Barcelona team finally won the championship, their first since 1999. Real Madrid's stars went into the second season in a row without a single title. Personally, I was sad that Valencia did terrible, not even qualifying for the UEFA cup. A terrible season, which showed how wrongly it was to let Champion coach Rafa Benitez leave for Liverpool, and change him for the negative Mr. Ranieri.

    Bayern Munich and Juventus have won the leagues in Germany and Italy respectively, while Olympique Lyon continues to awe in the French league. This fall, they will all be strong contenders for the Champions League title.

    In England Chelsea won the league for the first time since 1955. The investments of number one football-fanatic Mr. Abramovich have finally started to pay off. At the same time, Arsenal and Manchester United were left to fight for the leftovers in the FA Cup final. I found it a very disappointing match, with only Manchester really trying to play football, while Arsenal undeservedly winning after penalty kicks. The most annoying about this, was that I was surrounded by annoying Arsenal fans as I watched it.

    There is now coming a period of almost 2 months with very little football. Hard times...