Monday, December 11, 2006

Help needed

I have been gone forever. I guess I could use the excuse that I have been travelling an awful lot, from Africa, to Europe, to North and South America.
But I have not been thinking much about football. I feel I have lost the passion. I need some help to get it back... And I doubt it is only because my favourite teams Valencia and Brøndby are doing absolutely lousily: Valencia is in the bottom half of the Spanish league with numerous injuries. Brøndby is also way down in the Danish League, and is out of the UEFA Cup and Danish cup.

Things are not going well.

I was in Barcelona some weeks ago, and went to watch Barcelona against Zaragoza:

(here, a picture from the match)

Still loving the atmosphere, and two splendid goals by Ronaldinho, the passion just isn't there. I have hardly been watching any Champions League, preferring to have coffee with artsy-fartsy people and go to museums, instead of having four pints in a bar while sweating because my team hasn't scored.

Anyway, I think there is reason to be worried about this preoccupying development in my life. Please if anyone can help me?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Jupiter in retrograde

I have little time to write a long blog on my disappointment of Italy's victory. Of course, maybe I should start by congratulating the Italian fans and my friends, whom I am sure had a great party last night.
Nevertheless, the Italian victory was a bore. A pity an otherwise good tournament ended with that result, although we did miss the epic clashes I had expected. I think what I will most remember is Zidane's exit... One of the best player's ever, and he finishes off in such pathetic manner, it is almost to cry about. Has he been too many years in Real Madrid!? What went through his head?
Sadly, he could have been remembered as a great player only, but now we have to add great idiot to it as well.
Oh well, back to normal life...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Italy-Germany matches

Italy and Germany are facing each other in a World Cup Semifinal tonight. Germany seem favourites, playing at home in front of a record crowd. But what does history tell us about these encounters?

They have met each other six times in either World Cups or European Championships. Of these, three have ended 0-0, one has ended 1-1, while Italy has won the remaining two matches. So it does not look good for Germany...

In the World Cup, the matches have been the following:
  • First Round, Chile, 1962: This ended 0-0. West Germany won the group, only to be eliminated by Yugoslavia in the Quarterfinals. Italy ended dead last in the group
  • Semifinal, Mexico , 1970: One of the most exciting games in the history of football. Italy was very unpopular, having played some of the most boring catenaccio ever seen. The ordinary game ended 1-1, and the match went into extra time. The Germans, wanting to solve it, attacked fervently. But for every attack and goal, the Italians replied back with another goal. Italy won 4-3, but were destroyed 4-1 in the final against the mighty Brazilians.
  • Second round, 1978: Another 0-0 match. Italy made it to the bronze game, where they lost to Brazil, while the Germans did not make it beyond round 2.
  • Final, 1982: An all-European final in an all-European World Cup (like this one). Italy had defeated Brazil, and seemed strong ahead of the Germans, who had become unpopular after their win against the charming French in the semifinal. The Italians were far better than the Germans, who only managed a late goal by Breitner after being down 3-0.

In the European Championships they have met twice:

  • First round, 1988: This tournament took place in Germany. In the opening match, the home team only managed a 1-1, with goals by Brehme and Mancini. Both Germany and Italy went on to the semifinal, where they lost to the Netherlands and USSR respectively.
  • First Round, 1996: Another of their 0-0 matches. It was enough for Germany to win the group, while Italy was sqeezed out after losing to the surprising Czechs. Germany played the Czech Republic in the final and became European Champions.

With this said, what is my prediction for tonight? 0-0.

The game will be an absolute bore, so don't bother to watch until the penalty kicks, which Germany will win (and take their first ever win against the Italians in a World Cup).

Monday, July 03, 2006

World Cup Road trip

The first week of the World Cup I went on a one-week road trip with three Danish drunken football fanatics, on the dusty red roads of Western Africa. A true adventure, encompassing everything from wild treks, massive thuderstorms, corrupt policemen, murderous baboons, wild elephants, beautiful beaches and drunken Swedes. And in all this, World Cup football was the background music.

We left Accra on the second day of the World Cup on our way to Hohoe in the Western Region. We made it to Akosmobo for lunch, to watch England-Paraguay at the Continental, a posh four star hotel next to the Volta river. To our amazement, there was not TV there! No wonder there were no people either. A waitress quickly advised us to a small lodge next door, where we managed to watch it on a scratchy TV set. England won 1-0 on Gamarra´s own goal after a good free-kick by Bekcham. England had gotten started.

Late evening we arirved in Wli, near the Togolese border, and checked into the charming and beautiful Waterfall lodge. There was no TV, but a local boy took us into the village, where we peeked thorugh the door of a tiny house for Sweden’s surprising 0-0 tie with Trinidad-Tobago. It was a small black-and-white TV with horrible reception, and we felt like we were disturbing our otherwise very welcoming hosts.

We were informed that another lodge in the village had a TV and we hurried there: upcoming match was the all important Argentina-Ivory Coast! At the lodge we were told by a disappointed manager of the place that the TV was not working. This was ten minutes before the match, and urgency was pressing. Then my friend Henrik steeped in as a saving angel: “I’ll repair the TV!”. We had blind faith in his abilities, and rightly so; the TV was working five minutes later, and we saw an efficient Argentine side defeat the Ivorian debutants 2-1.

Wli is beautiful. People go to see the beautiful falls in the hilly green landscapes. We did the major hike to the upper falls – a hot but marvelous hike. We missed Netherlands 1-0 win over Serbia-Montenegro, but no problem. After a visit to a small farm in the afternoon, we were fresh and ready for a beer and Portugal-Angola. The game itself was a disappointment: I would have liked to see the Angolans give their former colonial masters a good beating. Instead, the Portuguese won 1-0 on an early Pauleta goal.

At this point, it had not been Africa’s World Cup. Ivory Coast and Angola had disappointed, and one could feel a lingering doubt in Ghanaians, ahead of their debut against Italy.

The day of the match we left Wli at 7 AM: we were to drive North via Yendi and Tamale, all the way to Mole. That was the plan, but being somehow in doubt about the condition of the road, we considered staying in Tamale. Our only aim was to find a place to watch the Ghana match.

The road was excellent (so much for lousy African roads...), and we were on very good time to Tamale. However, as often happens, a tire went flat… The change was a hot and dirty affair which lost us half an hour. Then we drove around Tamale searching for a replacement tire. This lost us almost an hour, at which point, we got increasingly worried about our arrival for the match. This meant a fast drive from Tamale to Mole. Carlos Saenz could hardly have done it better, as we made it to Mole, on the untarred Damongo road, in one and a half hour. We arrived at Mole hotel to hear that the Czech Republic had destroyed the USA 3-0, and had thus taken their first step as contenders to the title.
All of Ghana, including Mole hotel, was on the verge for the Ghana-Italy match. People were very excited, and nobody liked the Italians. As Danes, we were telling stories about “Snotti’s” spit in 2004, much to the enjoyment of the assembled crowd.

Ghana was naive however. The Italians did no more than what they always do: defend, let them come, and then score on counter-attack. This style has made Italy World Champions three times. The Ghanaians had not done their homework. In spite of a fine match, the Italians won 2-0. The mood was somber, although Ghana had played well. But with the Czech performance earlier, the next match would be hard indeed for Ghana.

In Mole National Park you can see many wild animals; mostly elephants. In the morning hike we saw herd upon herd of elephants. At the Mole hotel itself, baboons were annoyingly running near the rooms, just like many unnamed European football fans are doing in Germany…

The next day’s drive was a long affair: via Bole along the Ivory Coast border the road was horrible. It didn’t help much that we were caught by a biblical thunderstorm. The heavens opened like Ukraine’s defense… Spain-Ukraine was our next match: we stopped in Sunyani for lunch. Found a quite fancy hotel after the stressful drive, and had pizza while watching the Spanish have yet another excellent start to the World Cup. The Spanish youngsters destroyed the Ukranian debutants 4-0!

That evening, trying to avoid Kumasi, we got lost. And even more so, as we were trying to find the Ashanti holy lake, Bosumtwi, where we wanted to stay overnight. When we finally arrived, Germany-Poland had already started. The Germans were demanding a victory against a defensive and disappointing Polish side, that had started by losing 0-2 to Ecuador. Germanuy attacked with the tenacity that has always characterised German sides. In the 93rd minute, the dying seconds of the match, Oliver Neuville scored a deserved winner for the Germans. Deserved, because they were the better team – not because anyone outside Germany wanted them to win…

We continued to Cape Coast on a rainy afternoon. We wanted to visit the Castle, built by the British in 1665, it was the British colonial headquarter until 1850. However, we never visited the castle, due to the rains. Instead, we settled comfortably at the Castle restaurant next door to see Ecuador beat Coast Rica 3-0. Ecuador was thus qualified to the last-16 for the first time ever, and were displaying charming and entertaining football.

Late afternoon we arrived to Green Turtle Lodge, not far from Busua. England had just beaten Trinidad-Tobago 2-0 to go to the next round. Sweden was up next. We joined two Swedes to give our Danish support to the Scandinavians against Paraguay. The game was watched under palm trees on the beach, on a small solar-generator powered TV set. The Swedes were nervous. Their otherwise dangerous strikers Ibrahimovic and Larsson were not performing, and they were having a hard time against a defensive and plainly bad Paraguayan side. In the end, relief came to Sweden: A late header by Ljungberg gave them a needed 1-0 victory. The Swedes were delighted, and we celebrated till late.

The games the next day were watched on the beach, over games and drinks. I had eagerly been awaiting for Argentina-Serbia-Montenegro, but the match was not shown on Ghana TV. So I only heard later that Argentina had destroyed the Serbians 6-0. In spite of this, we watched the Netherlands against the Ivory Coast. We all supported the Ivorians, except for a quiet Dutch couple. Although the Ivorians played well, the Dutch were efficient and cold. It wasn’t deserved, but they won 2-1. In the evening, Mexico and Angola tied 0-0. The Angolans got their first point ever.

June 17th was the day of Ghana-Czech Republic. Could it be that the Ghanaians would defeat the amazing Czechs? It started good for Ghana, but bad for all of us at Green Turtle Lodge: the generator was broken… All were passionately helping to repair, or find an alternative solution. In the end, it was decided to connect the TV to the central solar generator, and then not have light in the evening. No matter what, we missed Ghana’s early opening goal. But we did not miss the excellent Ghanaian display. The Czechs were a shadow of themselves, while the Ghanaians were at their best. We were all delighted for Ghana’s 2-0 victory, although if anything, it was too small: it was obvious that to compete at this level, Ghana needed to be more efficient.

We would all have supported the USA against Italy, but couldn’t watch the match because of the generator. However, it ended 1-1, and all was up to Ghana itself before the last match of the group. But Ghana was a party and we were here!

The next day, I had to return to Accra after visiting the interesting Elmina Castle, and that was the end of the road trip. However, it was not the end of the World Cup, which I have continued to follow eagerly, although under more normal circumstances…

Watching football at Green Turtle

Sunday, July 02, 2006

History repeating

I know Germany will be World Champion, because it is history repeating. Germany wins on penalties, England always loses. France always defeats Brazil in the World Cup, and Argentina never wins in Europe. Italy always gets far playing mediocre matches against small teams, and Spain always gets eliminated. Referees are always blamed for it all, and FIFA says they will change it for the next world cup. African teams always complain they were treated unfairly, while the Dutch always play mediocre with one of the most talented sides.

This World Cup is no surprise if you know your football history.

Europe Rules

I am going to be very unpopular for this posting. If I’d say “Africa rules”, I would be considered a culturally sensitive person, in touch with the always oppressed peoples. Saying Europe rules, I am considered a neo-colonial imperialist pig. But that said, it is true when it comes to football.

The continued discussion of Europe having to give World Cup spots away to Africa or Asia is absolutely ridiculous: Actually, with the performance of teams from outside Europe, I think Europe should be given four more spots in the next world cup: one from Africa, two from Asia, one from North- and Central America. The only non-Europeans in the tournament able to compete at highest level were Brazil and Argentina, and they were no match for France and Germany.
The World Cup belongs in Europe, and it will surely stay in Europe for many years to come.

The World Cup is over. The only thing that counted for me, was Brazil winning, so the Cup should not again go to boring European. It is the World against Europe, and Europe wins (as usual…).

Saturday, July 01, 2006


I had been having sympathy for the new skilled German team, coached by Klinsmann, who I always admired as a player. I guess I had been forgetting why nobody likes Germany in football. But fortunately, I was reminded to dislike them again after their victory over Argentina…
Someone must have complained in Germany that they were attacking and shooting too much. Because the Germans certainly returned to their roots: let the others play beautiful, have the ball, and just muscle through. The game was bad because Germany did not want to play football, and Argentina was unwilling to force a result.
In the end, German tenacity and luck won the match. That Abundazziri had to be substituted gave the match away to Germany – who even then were unable ot force a result. The Germans forced the penalties through, knowing that they haven never lost one, and would surely not lose it at home.
I am sure Germany will be world champions. I just hope they won’t.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Brazil-France World Cup clashes

On Saturday Brazil and France will play their fourth encounter in a World Cup. They have always played exciting matches, with France so far having won twice, and Brazil once. The matches have been the following:
  • Semifinal, Sweden 1958: France had an extraordinary side with Raymond Koppa and Just Fontaine. The latter is still the player to have scored most goals in one World Cup, with 13 in this one year. In the semifinal however, they were up against one of the most legendary Brazilian sides of all time. Brazil won 5-2, and later became World Champion against Sweden. One young 17-year old Brazilian scored three goals to defeat the French: Pele.
  • Quarterfinal, Mexico 1986: Brazil and France were filled with some of the World's most talented players, and in this quarterfinal played one of the most entertaining matches ever seen in a World Cup. It ended 1-1 in ordinary time, althoguh 5-5 would probably have been a more fair score. Legendary Brazilian Zico missed a penalty 10 minutes before the end of the match, and after extra time, France won on penalty kicks.
  • Final, France 1998: France had never been World Champions until they hosted it this year. In the final they were to face the defending champions of 1994, Brazil, who had had a quite mediocre performance, but nevertheless made it to the final. However, the Brazilians were no match for the motivated Frenchmen, who crushed Brazil 3-0 in one of the most uninteresting finals of all time.

I am certain that the quarterfinal match on Saturday will be another for the history books. France is motivated after their win against Spain, while Brazil has been looking vulnerable until now. The game could go to either side.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Great French

What distinguishes great teams through history, is that they win the right matches at the right time. Spain has never been a big team. But France has, and showed it again last night.

Walking into the match, Spain had three first round victories, while France had been mediocre to say the least, barely qualifying for the last-16 by defeating Togo. So all eyes were set on Spain, and the fact that this might be their year. It wasn't, even though David Villa brought the Spaniards ahead on a penalty kick. 3-1 for France was the end score, where Ribery, Vieira and Zidane took advantage of Spanish mistakes. It is amazing to see Spain, again and again losing in important tournaments, by being naive and unconcentrated.

Only pity is that Thierry Henry didn't score, so he could get back on Luis Aragones racist comments...

In any case, Brazil-France in the quarterfinal is another clash of titans, much more than a Brazil-Spain. So that is something to look forward to indeed!

Big guys beat the little guys

After the disappointment of seeing Ghana lose last night, I was having a beer at Duncan's Spot in Osu, when a loud Ghana fan came up to me and said: "The European teams are always favoured by the referees! That is why Brazil won!". I only wonder since when Brazil was in Europe....

Brazil's second goal was indeed off side. But in spite minor free-kick blunders, referee Lubos Michel is no explanation for Ghana's exit. Brazil was the better team, using two of their main assets, experience and pace, to defeat a charming but somewhat naive Ghana side. The Ghanaians blundered after 5 minutes, giving Ronaldo the chance to become the leading World Cup scorer of all time. This killed off the match. The Brazilians could after that moment stand back, let the Ghanaians play the ball around, get a few chances which they blew, and otherwise strike on their deadly counter-attacks. Brazil was never in danger of losing the match; they didn't even out-stretch themselves.

Ghana should still be proud. It is not often a World Cup debutant progresses to the second round, and a game against Brazil is always bound to end this way. Now Ghana has World Cup experience, and will hopefully make it to South Africa in 2010! Can't wait to see them there!

Thank you, Black Stars.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

It will be difficult for Ghana

It will likely be a victory for Brazil. I find it hard to believe that Ghana can outperform the Brazilian World Champions, although the amazing optimism of the Ghanaians is quite catchy. Ghanaians seem sure that God will be with them, and that "they will score Brazil"! This is certainly in starch contrast to the pessimism the Ghanaians displayed after their pathetic exit of the Africa's Cup in February, when they were saying that they shouldn't even send a team to Germany, and that Dujkovic should be fired…

But without Michael Essien, and being a debutant at the World Cup, Brazil is an awfully big mouthful. Ghana cannot afford to commit a single mistake - something they have been doing in every match, in spite of winning them. Furthermore, the Ghanaian is a very young team. If Brazil scores a fast goal, their natural optimism may turn into desperate inexperience, and things may go very wrong...

On the other hand, the Brazilians are bound to underestimate Ghana (although Coach Parreira has once been Ghana national coach, in the 1960's...) and a quick Ghanaian goal might start off an exciting match, just like the good fight Denmark gave Brazil in the 1998 quarterfinal.

Although a Ghanaian victory would be great, I just can't see it happening. Accra will surely go crazy if it happens! But I just hope Ghana will give the Brazilians a great fight!


Italy-Australia and Switzerland-Ukraine get the price for the most amazingly boring matches in this World Cup, and certainly score high on the list of all-time most boring matches. What a waste of time!

Italy played boring as usual, and even one man up, the Australians were as much a threat as a lazy koala. In the end, the Italians had their usual luck, scoring on a non-existant penalty, properly taken care of by "Snotti".

Switzerland has become the first team ever to be eliminated from the World Cup, without conceding a single goal. Don't know how much I'd be proud of that one after last night. I counted two chances in the whole match, including extra time! And the Ukranians were no better, pointelssly playing the ball around. I have no idea how deserved it was for the Ukranians to win, but the fact is, that the Swiss certainly do not aim like Wilhelm Tell.

Italy-Ukraine are playing their quarterfinal next Friday evening. Another bore probably - I can't wait to be doing something else...

By the way, below is a very accurate description of the Australia-Italy game (courtesy of

Monday, June 26, 2006

Taunting the Dutch

Friendly taunting is part of the World Cup. I certainly don't hold back with taunting the English for their "pretty boy" team or the French for their old men.
The Germans have always been a great object (of not so often friendly) taunting. So I found this website very amusing:
A German getting back at the Dutch team on its way back to the Netherlands. A good friendly laugh indeed!

Great Quarterfinals

The first matches of the last-16 were played this weekend. Germany was excellent against a tame Swedish side, although they only won 2-0. Sweden has really been one of the most over-estimated side of the torunament, and will hardly be missed.
Argentina-Mexico was as expected, a difficult match for the Argentinians. The Mexicans, who have not been very impressive, put up a good match against Argentina, who was somewhat disappointing. However, Maxi Rodriguez gave Argentina the victory with a stunning strike! One of the best goals of the tournament.
Now, we will get a classic clash in the quarterfinal: Germany-Argentina! Not only is is a repeat of the 1986 and 1990 World Cup finals, but it is also a game between two of the favourites for the title. It is an encounter every football fan will wait for. And I hope Argentina prevails...

England was again not impressive against little Ecuador, although winning a narrow 1-0. Two things saved England: Ashley Cole's tackle in the first half, and David Beckham's great free-kick. As before, England needs to play much better if they are to hope to defeat any of the big teams.
Portugal-Netherlands was a true knock-out drama, ending in disgrace for both teams. Netherlands confirmed that in spite of many great players, they have not managed to pull a team together at all - making you wonder about Dutch football. The Portuguese won, but it was a hard won victory, ending in disgrace: two red cards for each game, and Portugal will be missing Deco, Costinha and Cristiano Ronaldo against England. In spite of this, England-Portugal promises to be another drama, a repeat of their quarterfinal clash in the 2004 European Championship, where Portugal won a dramatic victory after penalty kicks.
The best thing for now about this World Cup, is that we are getting these huge classic encounters in the quarterfinals. Already a Spain-France tomorrow, and possibly a Brazil-Spain in the quarterfinals! This is football for giants!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Ronaldo's 14th World Cup goal

Ronaldo has been highly criticized lately, and he is certainly not such a potent striker as he used to be. In spite of this, he can still score goals. In last night's Brazilan win against a rather tame Japanese side, Ronaldo scored two goals. With that, he has now scored 14 goals in World Cups (1998 and 2002 included), equalizing legendary Gerd Muller's 14 goal all-time record. With only one more goal, Ronaldo will place himself firmly on top of the all-time scorers list.
Well done Mr. Ronaldo!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Ghana explosion

It was boiling, and now it has exploded!!! Ghana is in the last-16. In spite of a mediocre game, Ghana won 2-1, on a non-existing penalty given by a very friendly referee (one thing you can say about the US is that the referee's have not been overly nice to them).

But what the hell? A victory that counts as good as any other. Unfortunately, the Italians won 2-0 against the very disappointing Czechs. Italy thus wins the group, and will have an easier time in the last-16, where they will face Croatia or Australia.

Ghana on the other hand, will likely face Brazil. The defending World Champions against my favourite African debutants. It will be hard, and the more so, as Ghana's super midfielder, Michael Essien, will be out with a suspension. Ghana will have to correct many mistakes: any defense error will be swiftly punished by the Brazilian super strikers. Any chance Ghana will get must be scored on, as the mighty Brazilian defenders will not be in the mood for gifts.

Brazil. Who would have thought? And as I write this, a huge party is going on outside in the streets of Accra! Cheers Ghana!

Update from boiling Ghana

Ghana is usually hot! Very hot. But today, the country is boiling!!! Not because of the weather (actually, it is an average hot day). But because of football. After Ghana's first ever World Cup victory against the Czech's, Ghana stands a good chance of progressing by beating the USA!
I shall leave my office soon, to go to Osu (Accra) and watch it in a local spot. It will be crazy. It will be emotional. And if Ghana wins, it wil be a big party!
We are all boiling here!

Argentina into the last 16

Argentina is very strong. In spite of a boring 0-0 against the Netherlands, Argentina was in control to win the group. Next round Mexico awaits. That should be a match to watch for however. The Mexicans have not been playing well, but they often get extra energy from somewhere when playing Argentina. So the match should be a thrill.
I have no doubt that the Argentinian stars will shine however, and I hope to see Argentina get very far!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Ghana was stunning against the disappointing Czechs. They were disciplined, combined beautifully, defended well, and created plenty of chances. But actually Ghana failed in one thing: they should have scored many more. In a World Cup, you cannot expect to have that many chances. That is what differentiates the big teams from the small teams: big teams just need one chance to score. We have already seen it this world cup with Italy and the Netherlands.

Living in Ghana, I can only be caught up in the boiling excitement the country is currently going through. People are eagerly awaiting: "who will we play in the next round?". While this is wonderful, it is no easy obstacle ahead: the USA, who also have a chance of entering the last-16 by defeating Ghana. And Ghana will be missing two crucial players: Muntari and Asamoah Gyan are both suspended. These are Ghana's only two scorers so far! With the incredible inefficiency of Ghana's attack, this is a major loss.

I hope Ghana wins. I hope to be celebrating in the streets of Accra (although I will probably not be able to leave the office...). Being objective however, I think the game will be extremely difficult for Ghana - much more than Ghanaians themselves believe! But until then, Ghana is living the magic of World Cup success!

World Cup goal number 2000

Lately, I have not been on the internet much. But of course, I have keenly followed the 2006 World Cup! Last night, England won their group in front of Sweden by tying 2-2, and will be facing the surprising Ecuadorians in the final. In spite of the results, England cannot be happy with the way they have been playing; two unimpressive victories against mediocre teams, and a tie against Sweden, which was based mostly on individual skills (Joe Cole's marvellous strike) and awful English defending.

Most English already believe they are world champions, and that Ecuador is nothing but a walkover. No doubt, England are huge favourites against the Ecuadorians (who, in spite of the excellent results, are nothing but a mediocre South American team). But they will certainly have to play better, also if they want to have any chance against bigger teams.

On a more historical note, the England-Sweden game saw goal number 2000 of World Cup history, when Sweden's Marcus Allback scored the first Swedish equalizer. 2000 magic moments...

Friday, June 09, 2006

The day has come

I have been waiting four years for today. One month of football. One month of excitement. The World shall eat football, sleep football, dream football, work football, breathe football...
There was nothing before, there is nothing after...
Only in four more years!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

List of Rules During the World Cup

A good friend just sent me this "list of rules for wives, girlfriends, mothers, etc." during the World Cup. For some strange reason she said she thought of me...
But here they come:

"1. From 9th June to 9th July 2006, you should read the sports section of the newspaper so that you are aware of what is going on regarding the World Cup, and that way you will be able to join in the conversations. If you fail to do this, then you will be looked at in a bad way, or you will be totally ignored. DO NOT complain about not receiving any attention.
2. During the World Cup, the television is mine, at all times, without any exceptions. If you even take a glimpse of the remote control, you will lose it (your eye).
3. If you have to pass by in front of the TV during a game, I don’t mind, as long as you do it crawling on the floor and without distracting me. If you decide to stand nude in front of the TV, make sure you put clothes on right after because if you catch a cold, I wont have time to take you to the doctor or look after you during the World Cup month.
4. During the games I will be blind, deaf and mute, unless I require a refill of my drink or something to eat. You are out of your mind if you expect me to listen to you, open the door, answer the telephone, or pick up the baby that just fell from the second floor... it wont happen.
5. It would be a good idea for you to keep at least 2 six packs in the fridge at all times, as well as plenty of things to nibble on, and please do not make any funny faces to my friends when they come over to watch the games. In return, you will be allowed to use the TV between 12am and 6am, unless they replay a good game that I missed during the day.
6. Please, please, please!! if you see me upset because one of my teams is losing, DO NOT say “get over it, its only a game”, or “don’t worry, they’ll win next time”. If you say these things, you will only make me angrier and I will love you less.
7. Remember, you will never ever know more about football than me and your so called “words of encouragement” will only lead to a break up or divorce.
8. You are welcome to sit with me to watch one game and you can talk to me during halftime but only when the commercials are on, and only if the halftime score is pleasing me. In addition, please note I am saying “one” game, hence do not use the World Cup as a nice cheesy excuse to “spend time together”.
9. The replays of the goals are very important. I don’t care if I have seen them or I haven’t seen them, I want to see them again. Many times.
10. Tell your friends NOT to have any babies, or any other child related parties or gatherings that requires my attendance because:
a. I will not go,
b. I will not go, and
c. I will not go.
11. But, if a friend of mine invites us to his house on a Sunday to watch a game, we will be there in a flash.
12. The daily World Cup highlights show on TV every night is just as important as the games themselves. Do not even think about saying “but you have already seen this...why don’t you change the channel to something we can all watch??”, the reply will be: “Refer to Rule #2 of this list”.
13. And finally, please save your expressions such as “Thank God the World Cup is only every 4 years”. I am immune to these words, because after this comes the Champions League, Premier League, Italian League, Spanish League, etc etc.
14. Thank you for your co-operation.

Men of the World
And I guess that is why I am single...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Top 5 Best teams that never won a World Cup

With the World Cup coming up, the World Cup historical geeks start discussing before games. An interesting one I heard recently was the a discussion on the top 5 best teams that had not won a World Cup. I have spent some time thinking about this list. I find it a big difficult, because should it entail teams that almost won it? Teams that played very well but did not make it far, or teams that should have won it, but lost after huge upset?
My very personal top 5 (which I will defend any time though) is:

5. Brazil 1950: Brazil should have won its first World Cup ever in 1950, at home in Maracana, in front of a record crowd of 200,000 spectators. Instead, facing all the adversity in the world, little Uruguay put a stop to the celebrations in all Brazil, to give the Brazilians their most painful defeat ever, by winning 2-1. Brazil has still never won the World Championship on own soil.

4. Czechoslovakia 1934: The Czechoslovaks had one of the best teams of the world in the mid 1930's, although playing a World Cup final in Rome during Mussolini was never going to be an easy task. Il Duce made sure that Italy would have all advantages, even a very friendly referee. In spite of this, the Italians only managed a narrow 2-1 victory after extra time.

3. Brazil 1982: 1982 and 1986 probably were the two World Cups with most of the legendary players assembled at one time. The teams were amazing, and it is difficult to choose one that could not have been a worthy champion (France, Germany, Poland...). However, I have chosen Brazil, because it was undoubtfully one of the most talented generations of Brazilian football: Zico, Socrates, Falcao, Junior, Cerezo, etc. In spite of their magic, they never lifted the trophy.

2. Netherlands 1974: This team, led by the legendary Johann Cruyff, took the world with storm with its relaxed attitude and marvelous "Total Football". They were a beauty to watch, and were far superior to every team in 1974 in Germany. Until the final, they had cruised through, even trashing the mighty Brazilians. In the final in Munich, they started with a pentalty goal in the first minute against the West German hosts. However, the Germans managed to fight back to win 2-1 in one of the most legendary finals of all time.

1. Hungary 1954: In the first half of the 1950's, Hungary had the best team in the world. Led by legendary Puskas, and with amazing strikers such as Hidegkuti and Koscic, Hungary entered the 1954 World Cup without having lost a game for 3 years. In Switzerland, they started amazing, scoring amazing 25 goals in 4 games. In the final against Germany, they started by getting ahead 2-0 after 8 minutes, and the whole world thought that was the end... However, in one of the most amazing comebacks ever, West Germany won 3-2, to get their first World Cup ever. Hungary has never really recovered...

This was my list. Any opinions?

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Bagdad Burning

There is a interesting web-log called Bagdad Burning, from an Iraqi girl, vividly and honestly describing the difficult yet hopeful life in Iraq. It has received good reviews, and I can highly recommend it.
However, the reason I bring it up in this football-fanatic blog, is because of a recent entry: describing the passion the World Cup is also bringing about in Iraq, she tells of the difficulties her friend G. may have in enjoying the tournament because of basic narrow-mindedness.
All my best wishes go to my fellow football fanatics in Iraq!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Something is in the air

“Can you feel it in the air?” I casually asked a friend recently. He looked cluelessly at me. “The World Cup!”. Today only 16 days away, and counting down. I can feel the excitement creeping up on me. It happens every four years. I have a hard time focusing on anything else. If football means a lot to me, it becomes truly my life obsession for a month.

Although some will not understand, football is truly in the air. The greatest event of the world is coming! I am not exaggerating: Last World Cup final was the most watched live event in the history of mankind with 218 million viewers! People all over this World, round as a ball, shares in the excitement of one months of football, national tensions, joy and tears, beautiful details, amazing goals, great saves… all that makes football the most beautiful game of all!

Last few months I have been traveling to Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Denmark and Angola. Believe me, if any theme unites anyone in any of these places, it is the fact that everywhere you will meet people who will share in the excitement. People who usually never watch football, will even join in! No barriers - football becomes the one language that unites the world.

In the latest National Geographic the feature article was “Why the World Loves Soccer”, and writer Sean Wilsey wrote: “…what makes the World Cup most beautiful is the world, all of us together. The joy of being one of the billion or more people watching 32 countries abide by 17 rules fills me with the conviction, perhaps ignorant, but like many ignorant convictions, fiercely held, that soccer can unite us all”.

Something is indeed in the air. I can’t wait!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Goodbye Michael Laudrup

I heard that Michael Laudrup will not renew his contract as coach in Brondby. Sad for Brondby. It has been six excellent years with him as coach, where new young players have flourished, and the team ahs played beautiful football. All this, in spite of not winning any titles this season.

Michael Laudrup was the greatest Danish player ever, and a true gentleman on and off the pitch. Some rumours are tying him with big European clubs (rumours always abound about Real Madrid, but I doubt he should be part of that circus). No matter what, he will be missed in Brondby. I will miss him, and hope to see him return!

Cheers Mr. Laudrup!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Champions League Champions 05-06: Barcelona

Barcelona crowned an awesome season with the Champions League title last night. It is only the second time in its history Barcelona gets the highest European trophy.

Although favourites, Barcelona did not play one of its best games against a well-fighting Arsenal side. Actually, I even thought the 10-man Arsenal fought with spirit and courage in the face of the awesome Catalonian firepower. Jens Lehmann's red card early on proved vital for the match, in spite of Sol Campbell's header to bring the Gunners ahead on the score in the first half.

In the second half, the incorporation of Iniesta and Henrik Larsson were excellent. In particular the Swedish veteran made a difference in the Barcelona attack, making the assist for both goals. Samuel Eto'o's equalizer was the result of an excellent combination. Belletti's winner also came from a good pass, although he had some luck with the goalie.

Seen over a whole season, Barcelona is the best team, no matter what a good fight Arsenal put up. So it is truly the coronation of the Kings of Europe we saw last night.
Visca el Barca!

Monday, May 15, 2006

FA Cup final in Nairobi

I flew all night from Accra to Nairobi, arriving 6 AM Saturday morning. Did not sleep at all on the plane, as I was in the company of a friend; the whole flight was spent talking over bottles of red wine.
It was a nice cool morning, and after only a couple of hours of sleep had lunch and a hangover before returning in the afternoon to my hotel room. I turned on the TV in my zombie-like state, putting on the FA Cup Final between Liverpool and West Ham. I never thought I would be able to keep awake for it. Last year's final was a bore, and had little expectation for this one.
But I was wrong! How can anyone fall asleep in a match like that!?
After last year's Champions League final, Liverpool offered us another great and entertaining match! And thank you West Ham!!!
3-3 after extra time, and a nail-biting penalty shootout, where Liverpool again pulled the longest straw, and where Pepe Reina proved excellent. Another amazing player was Steven Gerrard. His 3-3 equalizer was simply superb!
No, I did not fall asleep at all, but did pass out shortly after it ended...

Thursday, May 11, 2006


I love Seville. A beautiful city in Southern Spain, with wonderful people, who love a good party. I can therefore only imagine the massive party there must have been after the Sevilla last night demolished Middelsborough in the UEFA Cup final in Eindhoven, to take their first European title ever.

The end result was an astonishing 4-0 victory for the Andalucians, the goals being scored by Enzo Maresca (2), Luis Fabiano and Kanoute.

Seville deserves this. Congratulations to all Sevillanos!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Germany wins again!

History repeated itself as Accra was witness to some amazing matches between some of the heavyweights of World football last Saturday May 6th.

As hordes of fans descended upon University of Legon, kick-off took place at 7 AM, with a clash between the European Union team and Italy. The Italians, in their classic azurri outfits, started defensively against the highly talented EU side. But this was to no avail. One attacking wave after another swept upon the Italian side from the EU youngsters, who were eagerly supported by a large crowd of charming followers. As the EU's 2-0 victory was confirmed, the Italian fans were silent as a grave in the midst of the EUphoria.

However, the expectations caused by the EU's victory were only to be shattered in the second round. Netherlands had dispatched the French with a resounding and entertaining 6-4 victory, and were now to face the noble EU youngsters in what could easily become a modern classic of football. The EU team fought hard to stay in the match, but in the end to no avail against the mighty orange attacking machine. The fans however, displayed fairness and thanked their team for their marvelous performance.

The preliminary round matches saw some more exciting football. In a preview of the upcoming World Cup 2006 clash, the Black Stars from Ghana faced the Czech Republic. In a highly awaited match, both teams displayed fair play and friendliness. In spite of this, the Ghanaians had no quarrels in pounding some Czech fufu for their breakfast. The Czechs were sent home with a resounding 3-0, and should not be expecting any gifts in Germany either.

In spite of their glorious start, the Ghanaians could not keep it going, as they ran into the well-oiled German football machine in the next round. The Germans had defeated Spain in a match where the result was the same as their encounter in the Euro 1988. The Germans defeated the charming home-team 3-0, and were more and more looking like the ones to defeat.

A highly awaited encounter in the preliminary round was England-Denmark. As so often happens in these matches, the Danes were far superior to the Spice Boys, who were dispatched with 3-0. Wayne Rooney's injury was not the only thing causing headaches in Britain this weekend!

The final round of the tournament was as exciting as football can get. First, Germany faced the Danish Dynamite in a repeat of the legendary 1992 European Championship final. In a nail-biting encounter, none of the teams managed to score, so they had to proceed to a nerve-wrecking penalty shootout. The goalie of the German team proved as cool as the legendary Harald Schumacher against Mexico in 1986 World Cup, and put the Germans in the final.

While the Danes had to conform to third place, the wind of history swept across the fields in Legon that hot Saturday afternoon. The final was to be one of the most classic encounters in football history: a repeat of the 1974 World Cup final, of the Euro 1988 semifinal, or the World Cup 1990 last-16 match. None other than the giants from the Netherlands and Germany!

As the fans from each team lined up their support for another clash of Titans, the teams got ready for another nerve-wrecking and close encounter. The orange attacking waves swept over the German side, the Germans kept their cool in the hot afternoon. In what was a repeat of football history, the German team took home the title after an amazing penalty shootout, where only the strongest managed not to faint.

In the end, the true winners of the tournament were all the Ghanaian u-12 teams who could participate in this fun tournament! They were all the true stars of the day, and I was only a lucky football fanatic who happened to be around!

Playing around

FC Copenhagen Champions

I have not followed much Danish football recently. The distance to Denmark from Ghana makes it all seem very far away... I heard however, that FC Copenhagen just won the Championship, in spite of losing to Odense B. Brondby will only end second, after last season's double victory.

I have a hard time being as disappointed as I could have been. I guess I shall congratulate the FCK fans, knowing that Brondby will be back soon to sweep all resistance aside!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

European Week Football tournament in Ghana

This week is European Week. Here in Ghana, a series of cultural events have been taking place, organised by EU Member States and the European Commission.

Football, being such an important cultural object in both Ghana and Europe, is again central to the celebrations. Therefore, a European Cup is taking place this Saturday May 6th, at the University of Legon in Accra. Each Member State and the European Commission in Ghana is sponsoring a Ghanaian u-12 team, who will then represent the given country. The tournament is played as a cup-system, and features the following clashes in the preliminary round:

  • 7AM: ITALY (Gaddafi FC - Mamprobi)-EUROPEAN UNION (Shaka FC- La)
  • 8 AM: GERMANY (Obono - La)-SPAIN (Barcelona FC Trade fair)
  • 9 AM: GHANA ( Sarafina - Dansoman)-CZECH REP (Everton)
  • 10 AM: FRANCE (Schweppes - nungua)-HOLLAND (Dezacs - Kwashieman)
  • 11 AM: DENMARK (Mandela)-ENGLAND (Young Goldfields) - Osu

As you can see, some major classics are taking place: Germany-Spain is a repeat of their famous preliminary round encounter in the Euro of 1988. Denmark-England is always an exciting match, going from the Euro 1992, to the World Cup in 2002, to the latest 4-1 humilliation of England in 2005. Notice also the Ghana-Czech Republic, which will be a preview to their clash in Germany this summer. The Czechs should be warned!
Finally, notice that Italy will face the EU team in the first round. An unwritten encounter: the Italians will surely rely on their "catenaccio" style to try to defeat the talented EU side.

I guess all are welcome to Legon this Saturday to see these exciting matches. I just hope the fans will behave. It is already being reported that hordes of European fans have arrived in Accra to support their teams in this important cup!

Barcelona Campions

FC Barcelona last night defeated Celta Vigo 1-0, on a goal by Samuel Eto'o. With this victory, Barcelona is Spanish champion no matter what happens. They cannot be reached by Valencia on second spot.
This is the second Spanish title in a row for the Barcelona super-team. They truly play some of the most wonderful attacking football seen for a long time, so as much as this is a victory for the Catalans, it is also a victory for football itself. All football fans should appreciate that.
Barcelona now has another challenge ahead of them: the Champions League final on May 17th against Arsenal. If Barcelona takes the title, they will sit solidly on the top of European football. And it is well-deserved.
Congratulations to all Barcelona fans! Visca el Barca!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Congratulations Chelsea

Congratulations to Chelsea, for their second Premier League title in a row. It also came with style: beating Manchester United 3-0. Although I am not impressed by the tactical and sometimes too boring game of the Londoners, it is always impressive when a team performs as they have done. They will stay at the top of Europe for a long time.
On a more serious note, Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney fractured his foot. Now his appearance at the World Cup is in serious jeopardy. Bad for England (although I don't support them at all…), and bad for football fans. Wayne Rooney is a wonderful player, and I hope he will recover to make it.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Middelsborough's amazing comeback

Middlesborough is in the UEFA Cup final, after an incredible comeback against Steua Bucharest. Having lost 1-0, the English went down 0-2 at home against the Romanians. But with four goals, the last one in the very last minute of the match, they made their amazing comeback to get to the final.
They will be facing Sevilla, who defeated Schalke 04 in a close match. I would say Sevilla is slight favourite, but should certainly not feel they have a comfortable lead!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A dream final

It will be a dream-final we will be witness to from Paris on May 17th. Arsenal-FC Barcelona.
Both teams made it after a 0-0. Arsenal was the luckiest one, playing a very risky and dull game in defence against Villarreal, who should have scored at least one. But a marvelous Lehmann saved the Gunners, who will be playing their first CL final ever.
For Barcelona, it will be their first final in 12 years. The Catalans have been impressive this season. Their play is offensive and entertaining, and they are heading straight towards a Spanish championship as well.
I think Barcelona will carry the trophy away, although anything can happen. Only sure thing is that the final in Paris will be a nail-biter, although one can hardly expect anything like the epic legend of last season's final. In any case, the great players of both teams will give us a great show. And the fans will hopefully behave!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Semifinal in Johannesburg

I arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa, late Tuesday evening. After checking in to my hotel in the posh neighborhood of Melville and a delicious steak, I found a place that was showing the AC Milan-Barcelona Champions League 1st leg semifinal.
Now I understand that South Africa is not qualified for the world cup, and I hope interest may be higher when they will host in 2010: the whole place was full of people, but I was the only one watching! (on the positive side, I must mention that I was served by a gorgeous and smiling waitress).
And this is not because the game was bad! Barcelona is beginning to seal its position as the team of the moment in the world. Winning 0-1 in Milano, on a goal by Frenchman Ludovic Giuly, is no small feat, even for Barcelona. The Catalans now surely have a leg in the semifinal, and should be heading for glory.
On the other match, Arsenal won a narrow 1-0 against Villarreal in London. The second game in Spain will be a nail-biting encounter.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Champions League 2005-2006 semifinals

The result from last night's CL quarterfinals were quite predictable: Barcelona won 2-0 at home against Benfica, on beautiful strikes by Ronaldinho and Eto'o, while Arsenal defended well their 2-0 lead against an inefficiant Juventus side.

The semifinals are now as follows:

A clash of giants, although Barcelona has been the most impressive this season. However, AC Milan have the routine and skills to upset the Catalonians. It will be two tight matches!

Neither team has been so far in the Champions League before. Particularly Arsenal should be hungry for finally having some European glory. Villarreal are "the small ones" in every sense of the word, and Arsenal are likely to think they are in the final already. I have no problem admitting that my unconditional support is with the Spaniards.

But the best of luck to all fans of these great teams!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Historic Villarreal

Villarreal is in the semifinal of the Champions League! This is a historic event for the Valencian team, since it is the first time this small town outside of Castellon has made it to the tournament. And this time they did it by getting the scalp of Inter Milan, whom they defeated 1-0 to progress on aggregate.

Here, I must mention my team in the UEFA CL Fantasy Football ("Football Fanatics"), where I have last night's lone scorer, Arruabarrena, on the defense: the Villarreal captain has proven one of the strongest defenders of the league and is giving me a lot of points.

It will be interesting to see Villarreal in the next round. Everything can happen from now on, so could we end seeing Villarreal go all the way....?

The other Milanese team, AC Milan, had serious difficulties defeating a well-playing Olympique Lyon. However, with 2 goals in the dying minutes of the match, the Italians managed to progress to the semifinal. A pity for Olympique Lyon, whose exit is yet again in the quarterfinals.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Olympique Lyon- AC Milan

Olympique Lyon and AC Milan tied 0-0 in the first leg match of the Champions League Quarterfinal in Lyon. I had the pleasure to watch the game in a good old bar in Copenhagen with a good friend. In spite of this, the game was a bore. Lyon is not the same without Juninho, although they did play a fine game. In spite of Juninho being back for the next match, Lyon will have a really difficult time in Milan.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Great Arsenal

I have never been much of an Arsenal fan. But I am full of admiration of the new Arsenal team Arsene Wenger is putting together. Although they have had a bad season in the Premier League, they are doing well in the Champions League, where success has escaped Arsenal for years.
After defeating Real Madrid in the last round, tonight Arsenal defeated the Italian Serie A leaders of Juventus 2-0 in the first leg of the quarterfinals. On goals by a splendid Cesc Fabregas and Thierry Henry, Arsenal now has one foot in the semifinal.
The way they have been playing, they might finally go all the way!

Ole Madsen

One of the most legendary players of Danish football just passed away at the age of 71. Ole Madsen was a great Danish player in the late 1950's and early 1960's. He is still today one of the most scoring players in the Danish national football team (42 goals in 51 matches).
Because of the strange amateur rules Denmark's football federation had in those days, Denmark was not a power to be reckoned with in international football. The major rivalry was with the Swedes, who had one of the best teams in the world in those days (World cup finalists in 1958). In 1965, Denmark defeated Sweden for the first time in 14 years. The 2-1 win is mostly remembered for Ole Madsen's goal with his heel - one of the most famous goals in Danish football history.
Ole Madsen only played as professional for one year in the Netherlands. Otherwise, he was always attached to a second division team, HIK, at the same time as he worked as a truck-driver. Mr. Madsen was a great player from a time where football was innocent.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Bad weekend

This could have been a great weekend! But no, my teams had to disappoint me.

The Spring season of the Danish Super-League started last week by Brøndby defeating league leaders FC Copenhagen 3-0. Thereby, the defending champions showed that they are still serious contenders to the title. But this weekend, Brøndby were facing the modest Jutland team from Silkeborg IF. Brøndby should win these kind of matches to be champions. Instead, they played a pathetic match and lost 2-0, and are again trailing Copenhagen.

It has always been a problem for Brøndby that the players think they are the best in the world when they win a big match, only to be outperformed by a small team in the next...

My other favourites from Valencia had a tuff away match against Racing Santander. Last week's tie with Real Madrid meant that Valencia had to have a win to keep up with Barcelona. But they lost 2-1, and the Championship is certainly gone now. Valencia is now even trailing Real Madrid on second spot by one point. I would hope that they would at least be able to regain the second spot, and get the direct qualification for next season's Champions League.

Bad weekend...

Friday, March 17, 2006

Rafa Benitez and Liverpool

Liverpool's coach Rafa Benitez is one of the best coaches in the world. So it is not surprising that many of Europe's leading clubs (most notably Real Madrid), have been trying to recruit him from his current employer in the Beatles' home town.

However, it seems Mr. Benitez is very happy and comfortable in Liverpool, and will be staying for a long time. That is a great achievement by the club. The harmony between the coach, team, leadership and fans is very important for a football club, and I think that over the long-run, Liverpool will benefit greatly from this. In his first season in Liverpool Mr. Benitez won the Champions League and he has the ambition to win many more titles with Liverpool.

Lucky Liverpool!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

UEFA Champions League Quarterfinals

On a goal by the Serbian player Dejan Stankovic, Inter won 1-0 against Ajax Amsterdam, to make it to the quarterfinals of the 2005-2006 Champions League. The draw for the quarterfinal fixtures was made last week, and we will see the following matches:

The Spaniards, who are in their first Champions League ever, will have a hard time facing the Italians. While it is excellent that they have reached so far as they have, Villarreal has not been overly convincing, and will have to do their best to stop Adriano & co.

This will surely be an entertaining match, as both teams like to attack and dominate. Benfica is dangerous, having taken out the defending champions, but they are probably not happy to be facing the best team in the world at the moment. I expect Barcelona will prevail in this match.

A difficult match for both teams. Juventus is surely among the best teams in the world, and is in the quarterfinal after two dramatic matches against Werder Bremen. Arsenal is full of confidence after defeating Real Madrid, and is set for finally making it in the Champions League after so many disappointments.

I have a soft spot for the French team. They play beautifully and as last year, they have the potential of making it all the way. However, they will have to play well against an AC Milan side that has some of the most awesome striking power in the world, as well as a brilliant defence. AC Milan will want to win the title that seemed theirs last year in Istambul.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Rain in Spain

Valencia-Real Madrid was a truly disappointing match. 0-0 in Mestalla, in a match where both teams made many mistakes. Specially Ronaldo, who seems like an old worn out player these days. His penalty was simply pathetic, against a grand Canizares in the Valencia goal.

Valencia could have taken a vital step closer to Barcelona. Incidentally, the mighty Catalans lost 2-1 in Pamplona to 4th placed Osasuna. Although they are still 9 points ahead, there is still hope for Valencia to catch up to Barcelona, although they will have to play much better that they did against Real Madrid.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Champions League 2005-06: Last-16

There have been some interesting and intense matches in the last-16 of the Champions League. This round second leg matches were as follows:

Barcelona-Chelsea 1-1
Ronaldinho, Lampard

Although the 1-1 result may seem narrow, the truth over both matches is that Barcelona has been far superior to Chelsea. Although any team by now can win the competition, Barcelona must be a favourite, besides them playing beautifully.

Villarreal-Glasgow Rangers 1-1
Arruabarrena, Løvenkrands

Rangers did very well but is out after two ties. Villarreal is doing very well on their first CL ever, and will be a team to watch in the quarterfinals.

Juventus-Werder Bremen 2-1
Trezeguet, Emerson, Micoud

Had it not been for Werder Bremen's goalkeepers huge mistake in the dying minutes of the match, Bremen would have made the upset and eliminated the Italians. These were two very dramatic matches, and it must be a huge disappointment for the Germans. Juventus is not looking as strong as before, but can obviously go all the way.

Arsenal-Real Madrid 0-0

The 1-0 victory in Madrid was enough for Arsenal to eliminate Real Madrid. The Spaniards are heading to another title-less season, while Arsenal has its hopes set high on finally making a good show in Europe.

Liverpool-Benfica 0-2
Simao, Miccoli

The defending champions are out after a disappointing defeat at home, mostly characterized by great inefficiency in front of the goal. The Portuguese are looking strong, and may be on the way back to times of former glory. Don't forget that another Portuguese team, FC Porto, won the tournament only 2 years ago!

AC Milan-Bayern Munich 4-1
Inzaghi (2), Schevchenko, Kaka, Ismael

AC Milan are looking very strong, and is one of the most serious contenders to the title yet again. It is quite amazing to trash the German champions, who were looking very strong in the first round of the tournament.

Lyon-PSV Eindhoven 4-0
Tiago (2), Wiltord, Fred

After an away victory, Olympique Lyon confirmed its quarterfinal spot with a large victory against PSV. Lyon is playing very well, and this may well be their year. I would not be surprised to see them get very far, although a lot depends on the draw for the quarterfinals.

There is one match left: Inter-Ajax Amsterdam. It will be played next week, with Inter having a good result from the first match.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Although Barcelona was completely dominant, they only managed to win a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Chelsea in last night's first leg Champions League match. Supposedly the two best teams in Europe at the moment, Barcelona was nevertheless far superior to a Chelsea side that looked way too defensive, considering that they were playing at home on Stamford Bridge, and considering the firepower they have available in attack.

If it wasn't because Chelsea is otherwise doing so well, it would be a huge disappointment to see them being outplayed in such a way as we saw last night.

But Barcelona continues to play marvelous football. A true joy to watch, and they will be hard to defeat now that they have a foot in the next round. However, never underestimate Mr. Mourinho and Chelsea!

Friday, February 17, 2006

African player of the year

For the third year in a row, Samuel Eto'o has been pronounced African player of the year. Although Didier Drogba and Michael Essien have had great seasons and should be considered candidates (they ended second and third respectively), I agree with the evaluation that Mr. Eto'o has by far out-shined the others. He has continued as a super-striker in the great Barcelona side, and in spite of disappointing results with Cameroun, he has nevertheless been great there as well, as we saw in the recent African Nations Cup.
Congratulations to Mr. Eto'o!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

How to celebrate?

I have had a great weekend. I have been around great friends and doing fun things. The perfect end of a great weekend is by my team winning. And Valencia surely made the weekend perfect!

I was unable to watch the match Valencia-Barcelona, but my mind was in Mestalla with Valencia. And Valencia did not disappoint; they won, 1-0, on a goal by David Villa. He is truly being the best striker in Spain at the moment.

Some people are saying that this was good for Real Madrid, who is now only 7 points behind Barcelona... But wait! Valencia just defeated the leaders, and is only 6 points behind, ahead of Real Madrid. If anyone can catch up with Barcelona, it is Valencia, and tonight they have shown that they are the most serious threat to the Catalonians.

I don't have anyone around to celebrate with, but this is truly a reason for celebration! I am having a victory beer, and I will surely enter a week of celebrating!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Super Zaragoza

Real Madrid has supposedly started the year as the best team in Europe. Last night they were to face Real Zaragoza in the Spanish Copa del Rey. Zaragoza had in the previous round eliminated FC Barcelona, ending their winning streak.

Last night, Zaragoza gloriously ended Real Madrid's winning streak.

Zaragoza played like a dream, and gave the Real Madrid players a 6-1 sack to take home to Santiago Bernabeu. The Argentinian player Diego Milito was extraordinary with 4 goals. Now Zaragoza is certainly a team to reckon with in the Cup!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

African Cup Finalists: Egypt and Ivory Coast

I have not been following the African Cup with an overly keen interest after Ghana's disappointing exit. But after some great quarterfinals and semifinals, I certainly believe we can look forward to a very good final next Friday, between two of the best teams of the tournament: Home team Egypt against the World Cup bound Ivory Coast.

The Ivorians are in the final after an intense quarterfinal against Cameroon (which was won 12-11 after penalty kicks. Eto'o missed the last penalty for Cameroon, ending in shame a great tournament. I only wonder if he will be treated as Wome was...), and a narrow 1-0 victory against Nigeria in the semifinal. Didier Drogba has been a leading player on the Ivorian side, and he also scored the lone goal against Nigeria.

I am not surprised Egypt is in the final. The home team, "the Pharaohs", have been strong all the way, pushed forward by a wonderful crowd of fans. They easily dispatched Congo 4-1 in the quarterfinal, but had more problems in the semifinal. Senegal put up a great fight, and Egypt looked like a team falling apart when Senegal equalized on a beautiful header. Then, Egyptian coach Hassan Shehata showed himself as a super-star coach: with ten minutes to go, he replaced the Egyptian star Mido with a Amr Zaki. Mido left in disgrace, furious; he almost hit his coach. Mido had not played a good match, and the change proved a brilliant move. Amr Zaki had some magical 10 minutes on the pitch, scoring the winning goal for Egypt.

Great players respect their coach's decision and show restraint. Mido's reaction to his substitution just shows he is not such a player. If I was coach, I would not let him play the final.

In the group stages Egypt already defeated Ivory Coast 3-1. However, the Egyptians should certainly not feel comfortable because of that. The Ivorians are very strong, and will surely do all they can to spoil any party in Egypt on Friday.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Barcelona streak ended

Last Thursday, FC Barcelona was eliminated from the Spanish Copa del Rey after tying 1-1 with Zaragoza in the second match of the Cup round. Zaragoza had won 4-2 in the first match, which was Barcelona's first defeat after 18 consecutive victories.

This weekend, Barcelona lost 1-3 at home on Camp Nou, to Atlético de Madrid - a team which is finally starting to move up where they belong. Had Barcelona won, they would have equalized Real Madrid's record of 15 victories in a row in the Spanish League.

Some people are talking about the invincible Barcelona machine having been stopped, but I doubt this is the case. The team has been hit by injuries and absences. It is certainly not a team on the way out. However, next week they will play a strong Valencia side in Mestalla, and will have to play its best in order not to suffer a second defeat in a row.

On another front, Real Madrid continues its amazing improvement under the new coach Lopez Caro. This weekend, RCD Espanyol was trashed 4-0, and Real Madrid is still undefeated in 2006. This new team means it seriously...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Pathetic Ghana out

I had really psyched myself for a comfortable Ghanaian victory against Zimbabwe, which would put the Black Stars in the quartefinals of the African Nations Cup. Together with all of Ghana, I was to be disappointed.

Although many teams have shown disappointing performances in this year's African Nations Cup, Ghana's performance yesterday was disgraceful. The first-half strategy seemed to be to give away the midfield, something the coach should take responsibility for. However, at the same time, the players were barely concentrated: there was hardly a correct pass, and the defense was absolutely horrible in every respect. Although Ghana is indeed missing some of its important players, this is still no excuse from such a disgraceful exit from the African Cup. These are all professionals who should be highly motivated to play for their country.

Ghana ended up losing 2-1 only. It was the more disappointing as a tie would have been enough to put them in the quarterfinals, since Nigeria defeated Senegal 2-1.

I have had great expectations to Ghana. I still do. But after yesterday's exit, I am beginning to doubt that the Ghanaian team really has the guts to play some of the best teams in the World. Playing ten times better than yesterday will not be enough to defeat Italy or the Czech Republic, and I am now also willing to predict that the USA will defeat Ghana.

In spite of this, and not to be completely negative, I hope that the Ghana team can learn from this experience, and start preparations early on, focused on the immense task ahead of them in Germany.

As for the remainder of the African Cup, I have nobody to support any more.

Monday, January 30, 2006

What a waste

One of the best Ghanaian players in the African Cup is Issah. He is not only a strong defender on the Ghanaian team, but also on a very strong Asante Kotoko side.
It is therefore with great regrets that I heard he is bound for the Danish club Randers FC. All due respect to this team, that is playing in the secondary league in Denmark, but Mr. Issah could do much better. It is a real waste to see excellent Ghanaian players, who play at highest level, running around on a third-rate league in Denmark. I hope that this is a short stint in Mr. Issah's career. Mr. Issah is far too good for Randers. If we saw Kotoko play Randers, I am certain that Kotoko would destroy the Danish side, so the change for Mr. Issah is because of money, and certainly not quality.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Senegal-Ghana tonight!

Ghana is playing a crucial match against Senegal in the African Cup. Senegal won their first match against Zimbabwe 2-0, while Ghana lost to Nigeria. The Black Stars must win tonight!
I have not been so psyched for a national team match for long. I really hope that the Black Stars will make lion gullasch out of the Senegalese! If not, I will have to buy beer to anyone who supports Senegal!
Good luck Senegalese! You will need it!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Bad fans in Valencia

I consider myself a Valencia supporter. It is sad to have to nominate something bad from the team you like. But I have to give Valencia fans a nominations as football turds of the year.

Valencia was playing Deportivo La Coruña at home in the Copa del Rey. Although the referee had been harsh by showing Marchena a red card early on, Valencia was stil ahead on a goal by Villa. But the spectators kept throwing things on the pitch, until a coin or something hit a linesman. While he was bleeding, the referee decided to suspend the match. The match will be re-started behind closed doors.

Although the referee sucked, this is an example of fans being the worse enemy of a team sometimes.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Super Samuel Eto'o

Of the games I have seen so far in the African Nations Cup, I have not been overly impressed by the teams. Specially some of the World Cup-bound teams have been a disappointment, and I do hope that this is just preparation, because I cannot see any of them getting far in the World Cup.
One team will be missed though: Cameroun. And that is not so much because of the team, as because of one single player: Samuel Eto'o. The Barcelona striker is at his best these days, and he is certainly showing that himself and Cameroun belong in the World Cup. In the first match he scored three goals against Angola, who is bound for Germany this summer. Today, Eto'o was the best player in giving Cameroun a well-deserved victory against another World Cup team, Togo.

Mr. Eto'o scored an absolutely astonishing first goal, and a brilliant play by him led to a beautiful goal with the heel by Menong-ze.

With the first two games, Samuel Eto'o has shown that he is the best striker in Africa, just as he often has shown he is the best in Spain, and one in the best in Europe. What a pity that he will not be able to show that he is indeed also the best striker in the World this summer!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Disappointing Ghana-Nigeria

In Group D of the African Nations Cup two of Africa's best teams faced each other. Ghana is one of the outsiders for the title, having qualified for their first World Cup. Nigeria is eager to show that they should be in the World Cup, where they have done well before. It was therefore with great expectations that both teams opened their African Cup campaign.

Although both teams had many injured players (for Ghana, the absence of Michael Essien was notable), the game was still a big disappointment. Ghana was organised well in the start of the match, but in the second half, a simple tactical change from the Nigerian team made their organisation fall apart. There were many chances, but they were mostly the result of luck or pure lack of concentration in defense. Nigeria's winning goal came from such a situation: Ghana's defenders looked asleep when a quick free-kick in the 85th minute ended with Taiwo, who hammered the ball in from a long distance. Ghana was too defensive and lacking fantasy to answer back, although bad defending by the Nigerians almost gave them a goal.

All in all, the match was too tactical, and both teams lacked concentration. None of the teams should hope to win the cup playing like they did today.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Egypt looking strong!

The African Nations Cup started in Cairo with an opening match between the Egyptian hosts and Lybia. Not having qualified for the World Cup in Germany, the Egyptians are eager to show on their own turf, that they are still among the top African teams. And the did start very well indeed. The neighboring Lybians were hardly a match for the highly motivated Egyptians, who furthermore had a great crowd pushing behind them.

Mido, one of the best players of the Egyptian team, opened the score after a strong early pressure. The Lybians had very little to show, and Egypt won a well-deserved 3-0 victory.

The Egyptians are certainly favourites to win this group, and are also the strongest contenders for the title. However, it remains to be seen how some of the other strong teams are looking over the next few days: Nigeria, Cameroun, Ghana, Tunisia and Morocco. It is undoutfully one of the strongest African Nations Cup ever.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Daniel Agger to Liverpool

The very talented young Brøndby defender Daniel Agger is on his way to the CL-Champions of Liverpool. Mr. Agger has been one of the best players on the Danish champions side during 2005, and is widely expected to be one of the future great players on the national team. This change to Liverpool comes at a good time. It will undoubtfully be a big challenge to play on one of Europe's greatest teams. But hopefully Mr. Agger will perform.

Friday, January 06, 2006

A difficult match

The Brøndby team was on its way to Copenhagen for another encounter between Brøndby and FC Copenhagen. This time, however, the Brøndby players were not overly motivated.
“Do we really have to go? Why don’t we just go down have some beers?”
“We have to do it boys, this is our job, no matter how easy it is”, was the only thing coach Michael Laudrup could say.
Suddenly, in the midst of the gloom, defender Per Nielsen said “Look guys, you have all had a long season. Why don’t you let me alone play against FC Copenhagen, while you can all take the day off?”

The rest of the Brøndby players lit up, and Michael Laudrup was also thankful to his Captain. So while Per Nielsen went play the match all by himself, the rest of Brøndby went to a bar, where they were drinking beer and playing pool, while listening to the game in the radio: “After 10 minutes, Brøndby is ahead 1-0 on a goal by the only player, Per Nielsen!”, the commentator said, and the Brøndby players continued in the bar without worrying.
But towards the end of the game the commentator suddenly exclaimed: “FC Copenhagen has just equalized with only a few seconds remaining of the match!”
The Brøndby players could not believe their ears, and they hurried to the stadium, where they met a very disappointed Per Nielsen.
“Per! What the hell happened!?” Coach Michael Laudrup exclaimed!
A gloomy Per Nielsen said: “I received a red-card fifteen minutes into the second half…”

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Happy New Year to Valencia!

Valencia CF has started the year well. Last night, in the Spanish Copa del Rey, they defeated local rivals from Villarreal 0-2 away, on goals by Regueiro and Villa. The victory is so much better, considering that Valencia had not managed to win in Villarreal for three years, and Villarreal is always a difficult team to play against.

I do hope that Valencia, whose team has been improving a lot in the second half of 2005, is heading for a great year. Maybe a victory in the Copa del Rey and participation in the Champions League...?