Thursday, September 29, 2005

Champions League 2005-06: Matchday 2

Champions League matchday 2 in the 2005-06 season is over, and the results are as follows:
  • Bayern Munich-Club Brugge 1-0: The South Germans won on a goal by Argentinian DeMichelies, but Bayern did not look overly impressive, and the Belgians should certainly be reckoned with.
  • Juventus-Rapid Vienna 3-0: The Juve strikers are incredible, and I do believe that we should expect Juventus to get very far in this tournament
  • Ajax Amsterdam-Arsenal 1-2: For once, Arsenal had some Champions League luck, as Ajax were far superior in most aspects of the game. But a controversial penalty gave the Gunners all three points.
  • Thun-Sparta Prague 1-0: The Swiss got their first victory in the Champions League, and should not be underestimated
  • Panathinaikos-Werder Bremen 2-1: An important home victory for the Greeks in a group that will be very close.
  • Barcelona-Udinese 4-1: Udinese has been a revelation team in Italy, but Ronaldinho’s magic, with three goals, made sure Barcelona now has an important head-start in Group C.
  • Manchester United-Benfica 2-1: An important victory for a Manchester team in crisis.
  • Lille-Villarreal 0-0: I think Villarreal has a lot to show, but two 0-0 games so far is nothing, although they are still undefeated.
  • Schalke 04-AC Milan 2-2: Schalke did well against some of the world’ s greatest strikers, but they will have a hard time in the coming matches.
  • Fenerbahce-PSV Eindhoven 3-0: The Dutch managed to win their first match, but after this defeat, Group E will be very open.
  • Rosenborg-Olympique Lyon 0-1: Never easy to win in Norway, but the amazing French team take a first spot ahead of Real Madrid.
  • Real Madrid-Olympiakos 2-1: Real Madrid has continued to look very weak the last few months, and now they should show their potential. In a hard struggle, Real Madrid pulled a victory. It is still not overly convincing.
  • Liverpool-Chelsea 0-0: No winner in a classic match, although Liverpool certainly did far better than defensive Chelsea.
  • Anderlecht-Betis Seville 0-1: A good win for Betis after initailly losing to Liverpool They should now be ready for the big matches.
  • Inter-Glasgow Rangers 1-0: Inter dominated the match, but only managed a slim 1-0 victory in an empty stadium.
  • FC Porto-Artmedia Bratislava 2-3: I had never heard about the Slovaklians, but they now seem to be a team to be reckoned with. I just hope they get far!

Congratulations to all the winning fans!

Great matches, although my team in the UEFA fantasy football, Football Fanatics, is doing really bad...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Gambia in the U-17 World Cup

In the U-17 FIFA World Cup in Peru, we have now reached the semi-finals, which look like the following:

  • Turkey-Brazil
  • Netherlands-Mexico

Brazil-Turkey should in particular be an interesting match, as Brazil are defending champions, and Turkey has played marvellously.

However, there is something more interesting that happened in the first round to the African champions from Gambia (whom I do not have the greatest sympathy with because of how they won the African Cup):
After defeating Brazil and Qatar in their first two matches, African Champions from Gambia were only a step away from the quarterfinals before their last match against the Netherlands. Gambia lost the game 2-0, and was out on goal difference.
But prior to the final match, the Gambians had displayed true fanaticism in the match against Qatar. To support the team, the Gambian president decided to send 300 fans in a specially chartered plane from Gambia to Peru. Apparently the planning was not too good… The match was being played in Piura, many kilometres from Lima, and in order to get to the stadium, the plane decided to fake an emergency landing in Piura (which has no international airport), in order to get to the game.
The fans did get to watch the match though, while the plane apparently was impounded to the airport in Lima.
After hearing this story, I was considering to nominate the Gambians as the biggest football-fanatics or not. But I must say that such a daring act of stupid football fanaticism must deserve a nomination!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Playstation 2 football games

In my life a young bachelor, I needed some extra spice. So I have now become the proud owner of a Playstation 2. I must admit, that to this day, I had never tried it. But it has now become a important source of entertainment in my home.

There are quite a few football games for PS2, but so far, I have only tried two: Pro Evolution Soccer 4 and Red Card.
When I first played ProEvolution Soccer I was mostly impressed by the graphics: The players look very realistic, as well as the movements and the whole atmosphere around the matches. The game contains an amazing amount of details, which actually takes a very long time to learn. At first, I was mostly playing against a friend, but have since had a hard time defeating the computer, because of the great amount of combinations on the console. There are also options as to the game strategy, the line-ups and which players to use.
Adding more realism to the game, and to the artificial intelligence in it, it matters which teams and players you select: Brazil will be better than Austria. But of course, if you are a good player, you should be able to win (even) with Austria. There are furthermore options to play different leagues, as well as setting up tournaments. Recently, I played Colombia in an America's Cup tournament. After destroying Brazil 3-0 in the semifinal, I lost 2-1 to Argentina in an exciting final.

RedCard is far behind ProEvolution Soccer in almost every aspect. There is only a limited number of teams to select from, and it is far easier to control the players, whose artificial intelligence is far lower. However, what gives Red Card its comical edge, is that no foul whatsoever is sanctioned. So if you get to know the controls well, you can tackle from behind, elbows in the face, kicks in the knees, etc., with only the game-speaker shouting "amazing the referee let that go!". This is the game for any wanna-be football bully: stay at home playing this, and do not go out to hurt anyone!
There are many more football games I need to try out. I have been informed that a Pro Evolution Soccer 5 is coming out this year. I would certainly also want to try some Manager game. Any recommendations?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Barcelona-Valencia and Brøndby-FC Copenhagen

After 2-2 in Barcelona last night, Valencia remains undefeated in the Spanish league (Although Celta Vigo has now taken over first spot). Barcelona has not started off very well this season, but I am sure they will improve. In spite of this, it is impressive that Valencia remains undefeated in Barcelona since 2000! I am getting my hopes up for the season!
In another match, in another league, Brøndby and FC Copenhagen played 1-1. Considering the many injuries Brøndby had, it was a good result. However, Brøndby remains 6 points behind Copenhagen on first spot, and should start closing the gap.

Monday, September 19, 2005

FIFA U-17 World Champions

The 11th FIFA U-17 World Cup started in Peru this weekend. Traditionally, these tournaments have been dominated by African teams, although the defending champions are Brazil. The table shows the history of the tournament that started in 1985:







































& Tobago 2001











This time, the Africans are also some of the teams to watch. Actually, the defending champs from Brazil, started by losing 1-3 to the African champions from Gambia.
Netherlands, Mexico, Italy and USA have also started with victories, while the Peruvian hosts started by playing 1-1 with Ghana in a very tight group A.
The tournament might not reflect as much the real football strength at senior level asfor instance the U-21 World Cup. However, many young stars have played this tournament before, and it is likely that more than one future football star is playing for the glory of his country in Peru these days.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Getafe number one

Third round in the Spanish league has just ended, and the table looks surprising, in particular after today's result.
Although it might be less and less surprising that the second-rate Real Madrid team lost for the third time this week, 1-0 to a strong Espanyol side in Barcelona, it is more worth noting that the defending champions from FC Barcelona lost 2-1 to Atlético Madrid. Atlético had a terrible last season, and with new purchases, has vowed to do better this season. And with the extraordinary match they displayed against Barcelona, they are certainly a team to watch.
Valencia and Deportivo La Coruña had a great clash in Valencia, which ended 2-2. Both teams are undefeated, but with Deportivo's 7 points, they are on second spot.
The surprising leaders are little-known (outside Spain) Getafe. Defeating Alavés 3-4 away, they are leading ahead of Deportivo on goal difference. It would be interesting to see them stay on the top for a while.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Manchester United-Villarreal, Rooney and malaria

Wednesday I had planned to continue watching more Champions League football. But by late afternoon I was having chills and headache. It continued downhill, and fearing that I had the dreaded West African malaria, I went to have my blood tested. As I was in the hospital's waiting room, they did the favour to put Manchester United-Villarreal on (at least I was not totally lonely...). I had difficulty focusing on the match, but could see that it would be hard for Manchester.
Around half-time I was tested, and as the doctor came out to give me the "positive" result, I saw Wayne Rooney get his foolish red card. This did not make things easier for Manchester United, and they can thank their disciplined defence for pulling home a 0-0.
I have been a Rooney-fan since the Euro 2004. This admiration however, is limited to the football pitch, and it is a shame that Mr. Rooney carries his bad temper on to the pitch. There have by now been numerous examples of this; lately on the England national team, during their loss against Northern Ireland.
Mr. Rooney is a wonderful footballer. He has the potential of becoming one of the great ones. But if he does not learn to behave, to control his temper, he will become more a of risk to his teams, instead of the amazing asset he could be. I know that many people are trying to get this message through to him, and I hope Mr. Rooney will be wise enough to get the message. If not, football will have lost a great player.
As to the less relevant things (my malaria), I still feel like I have been run over by Jaap Stam, tackled by Roy Keane and hit my head against a goal-post...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Finally has the Champions League started!

Most football fanatics have been waiting ages for the UEFA Champions League to start! Finally, tonight, it kicked-off with some excellent matches:
  • AC Milan-Fenerbahce 3-1: Last years finalists started the tournament well, with an amazing Kaka in a leading role. The young Brazilian is probably going to be one of the stars this season.
  • PSV Eindhoven-Schalke 04 1-0: Last season's Dutch surprise started with a deserved victory at home.
  • Olympique Lyon-Real Madrid 3-0: The Real Madrid circus continues; many people thought that last weekend's loss to Celta Vigo was an exception. But tonight we saw the French champions overrun the so-called "Galacticos". I am just tired that people still refer to them like that (of course, US and South African TV did so): This is the worse Real Madrid team in history! No titles for 2 years seems to continue!
  • Olympiakos-Rosenborg 1-3: The Norwegians started off with a surprise win in Greece. All the more so as they came back from 1-0 down!
  • Betis-Liverpool 1-2: Liverpool started like the true champions they are, showing that they will be hard to defeat as they defend their title. At the same time, Betis, -although starting the game very nervously-, showed that they will be a team to reckon with for anyone.
  • Chelsea-Anderlecht 1-0: Chelsea is another of the teams to be counted on this season. With an excellent goal by Frank Lampard, they are on the way.
  • Artmedia-Inter 0-1: The surprising Slovakians had their first match ever in the Champions League. Maybe it were the nerves, but they lost at home to the seasoned Italians, on a goal by Julio Cruz.
  • Glasgow Rangers-FC Porto 3-2: I have before said that Rangers will have a hard time in the Champions League. But this does not entail that they will have an impossible time. Tonight they showed exactly that with tenacity and fight, they can defeat any team, and that nobody should underestimate them.

These were the matches played tonight in Groups E, F, G and H.

Tomorrow, groups A, B, C and D will be playing.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

UEFA Champions League Fantasy Football

On Tuesday the long-awaited Champions League season 2005/06 starts. The event needs to be planned carefully: cancel all appointments, set up the TV, get beers, study the teams, and of course, set a team in the UEFA Fantasy Football.
Last season, Abruniohene (as my team was beautifully named) did not do too well. I hope that this season, with my new team, Football Fanatics (modestly named after this web-site), will do much better.
The game rules are to buy a number of players on the different UEFA CL teams. One gets 100 mio. Euros to buy for. Players are valued according to how good they are, so you are not free to buy Europe´s eleven top strikers. However, as the tournament progresses, players will increase or decrease in value, and you can continue buying or selling.
Furthermore, there is a limit as to how many player you can take from each team (the limit is two). These limits , as well as the large number of teams and players, makes the selection quite a detailed process. But after a few hours of careful consideration, I now have spent the full amount of money, and now have the following team:
  • Dida, AC Milan: Dida is one of the best goalies in the world in one of the best defensive teams in the world.
  • Malicki, Lille (substitute):I must admit that Lille's goalie was bought to save some money for other players.


  • Rio Ferdinand, Manchester United: The strong defender is often also good for a goal or two.
  • Juanito, Betis: A young Spanish star in one of the Spanish sides that may prove a revelation this season.
  • Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, FC Barcelona: Not always a starter in the Catalonian side, but often comes in as a good threat.
  • Ze Maria, Inter Milan:The Brazilian defender is not always a starter, but often comes in to defend well, when the Italians need to defend a narrow lead.
  • Alan Hutton, Glasgow Rangers (substitute): A talented young defender, although Rangers will have a difficult time in the Champions League.


  • Lionel Messi, FC Barcelona: The young Argentinian is a potential superstar in European football. Could be one of the revelations this season, although taking him is a bit of a risk.
  • Juan R. Riquelme, Villarreal: One of the best players in Spain last season, he is the midfield-general who may lead Villareal to their first European success.
  • Luis Garcia, Liverpool: The talented Spaniard will surely be a key player as Liverpool will try to defend their title.
  • Joe Cole, Chelsea: Has not been brilliant lately, but I believe he will be again, as we enter well into the season.
  • Daniel Jensen, Werder Bremen (substitute): A Danish touch on my team - Mr. Jensen has been a key player, both on the national team and on the German team


  • Adriano, Inter Milan: In my own humble opinion, Adriano is the the world's best striker at this very moment. He will makes defenders tremble in this season's Champions League.
  • Didier Drogba, Chelsea: Didier Drogba is also one of the world's best strikers right now. As Chelsea again tries to take the title, Drogba will be certain to make some goals.
  • Luciano Figueroa, Villarreal: Villarreal is an entertaining team that scores a lot of goals. If the team does well, Mr. Figueroa will probably be one of the leading scorers.

The first price this season is a trip to the Champions League final in Paris. It is sure to be easy, and I wish everybody luck!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Northern Ireland-England

For the first time since 1972 Northern Ireland has defeated England, 1-0, on the European World Cup Group 6. The honour of defeating England is the main thing for the Irish, but the result is a serious set-back on English attempts to qualify for the World Cup, after Poland defeated Wales 1-0. Poland is now leading the group with 24 points, 5 more than England.
England may still win the group: with one match less and still to play against Poland, they continue to have the qualifying in their own hands. However, the English players will have to perform much better than they did tonight (and also recently in their pathetic 4-1 loss to Denmark). Poland has proven a strong team. After tonight's victory, the Polish are only one step away from Germany, and England will surely have to do their best (which will have to be far better than so far) to defeat them.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Uzbekistan or Bahrain?

Uzbekistan and Bahrain are playing two play-off matches to qualify for the World Cup in Germany. The winner after both games will be playing the number 4 of the CONCACAF qualifying group, currently Guatemala.
A couple of days ago, Uzbekistan defeated Bahrain 1-0 at home, but FIFA has now cancelled the result of that game. During the match, Uzbekistan had a penalty goal cancelled, due to the fact that a player ran into the penalty area at the moment of the kick. Very odd and unheard off, and Uzbekistan promptly protested in order to try to get a 2-0 victory awarded. Instead, the game will be re-played, something that oddly seems to the advantage of Bahrain...
But not withstanding this, I would like to know if we should expect to see the Japaneses referee, Mr. Yoshida at the World Cup next year...?

Monday, September 05, 2005

Teams bound for the World Cup in Germany

The World Cup in Germany is approaching. Some teams are almost surely qualified - like Ghana... Actually, there is still a largelly theoretical chance that Ghana will not qualify (a large victory to Congo against South Africa, and Ghana losing against Cape Verde).

But after this weekend's qualifiers we have nine teams who we will be sure to see next year in Germany:
  • Germany: The hosts are not playing qualifiers, but are not overly scary, after losing to Slovakia.
  • Argentina: Already been qualified for a couple of months, and losing to Paraguay changes nothing.
  • Brazil: The defending champs made sure they would be in Germany by destroying Chile 5-0.
  • USA: This will be the fifth world cup in a row for the North Americans, who defeated their Mexican arch-rivals 2-0 in Ohio last Saturday.
  • Ukraine: This will be the first world cup for the Ukrainians, after a 1-1 with Georgia. That they are the first European team to qualify besides the hosts, is only the more impressive when seeing their qualifying group 2, with teams such as Turkey, Greece and Denmark.
  • Japan: The Japanese are no surprise qualifiers in the Asian zone, and will be a welcome team in Germany.
  • Iran: Trailing Japan in the Asian qualifiers Stage 3 Group B, the Iranians will make their first appearance since France 1998, when their most memorable moment was to defeat a weak US side.
  • South Corea: One of the strongest Asian sides since their 1986 appearance, they will have to fight hard to defend their semifinal spot of the World Cup in 2002.
  • Saudi Arabia: Surely won the Group A of the Asian qualifiers Stage 3 Group B in front of South Corea.
Other countries, like Mexico, Tunisia, Portugal, Uzbekistan or Cameroon, are only one step away from certain participation in the World Cup next year. Furthermore, Australia is sure to get (yet another) a chance against South America's number 5 team, after defeating Samoa 7-0 in the first play-off of the Oceania qualifying zone.

Germany! Ghana is coming!

Last night, I was at a concert at Accra's Independence Square, when I heard that Burkina Faso had defeated South Africa 3-1 in the African World Cup Qualifier Group 2. This meant that Ghana could qualify to the World Cup 2006 with a victory against Uganda at home in Kumasi.

I had been hoping for this moment for a while, and had been eagerly awaiting the moment Ghana would surely make it to their first World Cup ever. And this afternoon, the dream came true. Ghana defeated Uganda after a golden start, scoring 2 goals in the first twenty minutes of the match. It was obvious that the Black Stars did not want to leave anything to chance.
Ghana is now going to its first World Cup ever, and I am sure they will do well. They certainly have a team that anyone should fear.

In other groups of the African World Cup Qualifiers, things have become more tense: Ivory Coast surprisingly lost at home in Abidjan to a stubborn Cameroon team, who showed they want to qualify again. At the same time, Togo defeated Liberia, and is only a step away from qualifying. The same happens with Angola, who is being trailed by a desperate Nigerian side on second spot.
But the best is the Black Stars! I have been drinking Star beer to celebrate, and it will surely not be the last time the Ghanaians make the whole country proud!