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.