Monday, December 24, 2007

100 football things

Since this is, I believe, my posting number 300 on this football-blog of mine, and well, because it is Christmas, I have decided to celebrate it with 100 random football things I come up with:

  1. Maradona is the best footballer ever. He is the reason I started to watch and love football. There never was and never will be anyone like him.
  2. Maradona´s best goal was the one with the hand against England in 1986. The second goal in the match is the second best goal ever.
  3. The first football match I attended was between Ikast FS and AGF, in the Danish first division, in 1986. AGF won 0-1.
  4. I have no count on the number of games I went to in Ikast and Silkeborg for a couple of years.
  5. Ikast FS doesn´t exist any more as a top team; it was merged with nearby Herning to create the team with the most unpronounceable name ever, FC Midtjylland.
  6. When studying nearby in Birkerød, I went to many games in Lyngby.
  7. Lyngby was later relegated to one of the lowest leagues because of financial trouble.
  8. I once fractured a bone in the foot playing football.
  9. Brazil-France, in the quarterfinal of the 1986 world championship is the game I mostly remember as the best I have ever seen.
  10. Two of my happiest football moments were: (1) 1986 when Argentina became world champion and (2) 1992 when Denmark became European Champion.
  11. In 1992, I was returning from the US, when I was told Denmark was in the semifinal of the European Championships. I thought they were kidding me.
  12. I have cried because of football: Argentina-Cameroon 1990, Denmark-Spain 1986 and 1993, Valencia-Bayern Munich 2001...
  13. Bayern Munich fans are probably the ones I have felt most sorry for when seeing them cry at their Champions league defeat to Manchester United in 1999.
  14. Eduardo Galeano´s "Fútbol a Sol y Sombra" is my favourite football book.
  15. I think it is unforgiveable that they made an American version of Nick Hornby´s "Fever Pitch", where it was baseball instead of football.
  16. It is called football and not soccer.
  17. I had an out-of-body experience in 1998, at Parken in Copenhagen, when Alan Ravn scored a winner for Brøndby IF against Bayern Munich in the first round of the Champions League.
  18. I fell in love with Valencia CF when studying there a semester in 2000.
  19. I once attended a friendly match in Accra, Ghana, between Ghana and Nigeria, where they forgot to play the national anthems at the start of the match, and therefore had to play them in halftime.
  20. I don't think hooliganism is acceptable, but I more than understand the passion.
  21. In the US, I once attended an indoor football (soccer...) match, and it must have been one of the most boring things I have ever seen.
  22. I don´t like the Italian catenaccio style. It annoys me.
  23. I love Italy and its people, except in football.
  24. There is nothing like a friendly football taunt among friends. Careful with the grey areas though! Only real football fans know when to stop!
  25. I am definetly not Bilardista, but Menotista.
  26. What annoys me even more are Norwegian football commentators.
  27. I know much more about football than most people.
  28. I don't like Real Madrid, but as a fan, I have deep respect for their victories and amazing players.
  29. Danish FC Copenhagen is the most overrated team in the world (overrated by themselves!)
  30. Brøndby fans are the best Danish fans, but Lyngby's are the coolest.
  31. Lyngby stadium is not a real stadium, but they serve the best sausages in Scandinavia.
  32. When I was a kid, I was selected to shoot penalties against Danish goallie Mogens Krogh, but I didn´t hear they called me in the speakers, because I was eating a sausage.
  33. The highest I ever shouted in jubilation for a goal was probably in the 1990 World Cup, when Colombia equalized to 1-1 against Germany.
  34. I watched the match between Ghana and the Czech Republic of the 2006 world cup on a beautiful beach in Ghana. Afterwards was a party.
  35. In 2006 I was the only person in Ghana who had doubts about Ghana being able to defeat Brazil in the World Cup. Turns out I was right yet again.
  36. I have won numerous beers on football bets.
  37. On Politiken's (a major Danish newspaper) sofa-liga in Denmark, I once got fifth prize in Denmark.
  38. In a bar called Champs, in Accra, Ghana, I won all prizes two days in a row, at a (Star) beer promotion contest on football trivia.
  39. At a quiz evening in the same bar, I also singlehandedly answered all football questions correctly.
  40. I am stunningly brilliant at geography, mostly because of football.
  41. The most valuable football item I have is an autograph of the legend Michael Laudrup.
  42. At a match between Denmark and Hungary in 1994 I saw Ferenc Puskas among the spectators. I tried in vain to get an autograph.
  43. I never saw Puskas play, but I think every football fanatic has heard the legends of the 1954 Hungarian team and Puskas' subsequent career in Real Madrid.
  44. The Spanish football daily Marca is the one I read the most.
  45. I like drinking beers while watching a good Champions League match in a nice bar, something I have done in Brussels, Valencia, Copenhagen, Accra, Arusha, Johannesburg, Maputo...
  46. The best beer to drink during football is a pint of Stella Artois.
  47. I think David Beckham is a great footballer, but I truly dislike all the super-star hype around him.
  48. Michael Owen is a great footballer.
  49. Last year I went to see Barcelona defeat Zaragoza 3-1 in the Camp Nou in Barcelona.
  50. I once travelled all the way to Kumasi in local buses, to see a semifinal in the African Cup winners cup between Asante Kotoko and some Congolese team.
  51. My favourite French footballer is Zinedine Zidane, in a tuff contest with Michel Platini.
  52. I hope one day to be at a World Cup final.
  53. I also hope to be at a Champions League final. I have already been to quite a few Champions League matches, in Copenhagen and Valencia.
  54. I have great football karma on the countries I live in: they usually do well.
  55. Football has always broken down barriers every where I have been in the world. It is not for anything that it is a language of the world.
  56. In 1994 I was in Colombia when Andrés Escobar was murdered.
  57. Ukraine-Switzerland in the 2006 World Cup is probably one of the single most boring match I have ever managed to watch.
  58. As a young lad playing ball, I was once red-carded for telling the referee he was a piss-referee. All the kids considered me the coolest kid on the team.
  59. Piss referees.
  60. The best goal celebration I ever saw was Marco Tardelli in the world cup final of 1982.
  61. A goal I particularly remember was Eder, from Brasil, against the USSR in 1982: A brilliant shot from outside.
  62. The USSR had a brilliant team in 1986, but in the World Cup lost to Belgium in the last-16, in a very awkward match, where the referee favoured the team full of Anderlecht players.
  63. When doing a stage at the European Commission in Brussels in 2001, I played on an excellent team called "The Empty Chairs". We didn´t win the tournament, but won many fans for our charm and beer-consumption.
  64. In 1988 I played on a team from Bording IF, which won SDS Cup in Sunds.
  65. The best team we ever played against was AGF who were Jutland champions. We lost...
  66. In Lyngby I once attended a match between Brøndby and Lyngby in which Lyngby, because of an odd mathematical invention in the Danish league, had to lose in order to qualify for a tournament the following year. Lyngby unsurprisingly lost 5-2, and every fan was happy.
  67. Michael Laudrup played for Lyngbys old-boys team.
  68. In 1991 I was living in the US when Barcelona won the European Cup final against Sampdoria 1-0 on a goal by Ronald Koeman. I listened to the match in a short-wave radio.
  69. Ronald Koeman is currently coaching Valencia CF and I hope he does well.
  70. I miss el Piojo Lopez. I went to his last game in Valencia, against Zaragoza, in 2000.
  71. The first time I saw a real womens match, was in the US. My high school at Centerville, Ohio, had a very good girls team, and they were very good-looking.
  72. First full womens match I saw on TV was the 1999 World Cup final.
  73. I think womens football is great, but it (still) does lack the intensity of passion of the men.
  74. Marta's goal against the USA in the semifinal of the 2007 Women's World Cup was amazing.
  75. The best football song ever made is Mano Negra´s Santa Maradona!
  76. I once worked for Viasat sport watching football games and getting paid for it. They could have paid me beer.
  77. My all-time best team from World Cups includes Puskas, Pelé, Maradona, Beckenbauer, Cruyff... It is almost unrealistic, but I thought there was something immoral in not including Zico.
  78. I was a big fan of Lothar Matthäus.
  79. I do not believe I will live to see an African team win a world cup.
  80. In 1991 I went to a friendly match between the Olympic teams of Poland and Spain. The following year, these two teams had made it to the Olympic final in Barcelona.
  81. Olympic football is generally boring.
  82. The best football nowadays is undoubtfully what we see in the UEFA Champions League.
  83. I am a big fan of the World Cup, but the last two have been hugely disappointing at the level of football quality.
  84. I don´t think the World Cup in South Africa will have a very high level.
  85. Last football match I went to was a friendly match between Nipita and Mazua in the Mozambican backlands.
  86. Mozambique will never ever be world champion.
  87. When Valencia CF won the UEFA Cup in 2004 I was absolutely unbeatable for half a year.
  88. Many referees have upset me in my life. The referee that has most upset me was the one between Italy and Argentina, in the semifinal of the 1990 World Cup.
  89. I was once at a kids tournament in Ghana, where each European Embassy sponsored a local school. Germany won.
  90. When I was a kid, it seemed that Germany always won.
  91. Claudio Canniggia is an idol of mine, mostly because of the winning goal he scored against Brazil in the last-16 of the 1990 World Cup. It was a totally undeserved victory, but as every fan of a team knows, that doesn't matter when you support them.
  92. It annoys me when people say, "I always support the team that wins...". Then you know they are not football fans.
  93. My favourite player at the moment is Lionel Messi. He can get far; I hope he will.
  94. Luis Aragonés is a twit.
  95. Nowadays I manage to talk less of football under circumstances that are not calling for it. Some people don´t even know that there is a passionate football heart beating behind my serious and sexy outside.
  96. In Mexico in 1986 I met some guy from the Canadian football association. He gave me a pin for Canada, who ended up losing all their three matches at the 1986 World Cup.
  97. I don´t think God watches football nor listens to football prayers.
  98. The best goalkeeper I have ever seen was Peter Schmeichel. He was all for Denmark and for the Brøndby team I followed in the early nineties.
  99. In 1989 I went to watch the Danish Cup final between Brøndby IF and Ikast FS. Brøndby won 6-3, and the Brøndby team was almost a copy of the team that in 1992 won the European Championship: Peter Schmeichel, Lars Olsen, Kim Vilfort, John Jensen, Brian Laudrup...
  100. I think Brøndby Stadium should officially be renamed to Vilfort Park.
Merry Christmas to everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

What is wrong?

Real Madrid is playing really well and they must be creditted for their good victory tonight at the Camp Nou against FC Barcelona.
But what is wrong with Barcelona? Ronaldinho? There is a lack of motivation, of the so-contagious love for the game which made them the team of the world not long ago!!
I hope for the sake of the match that Ronaldinho & Co. are back in 2008!

Ian Rush or John Barnes?

At a Christmas dinner I recently attended, drunken talk led to a discussion on who was the best player of the two Liverpool legends of the 1980's, Ian Rush or John Barnes.
Mr. Rush definetly scored more goals, but I would personally vote for John Barnes: with his superb technique, he would be all important in creating the opportunities which made the Liverpool team one of the deadliest attacking machines in the 1980s!

Any opinions on this subject?

Champions League 2007-2008: My top five favourites

The fixtures for the Champions League last-16 to take place in February/March next year has resulted in the following matches to look forward to:
Liverpool-Inter, Arsenal-AC Milan and Lyon-Manchester United are some of the matches to look forward to a lot.
Although anything can happen in these knock-out phases, but I must at this point make a list of my top-five favourites to win the tournament:

5. Barcelona: Has not been looking that strong in the Spanish league, which seems out of their grasp. But in the CL they have been invinsible, and may put all its resources in for succes.
4. Real Madrid: The merengues seem to be reborn under Coach Schuster, and should be considered a serious contender for the title.
3. Inter: The Italians are not known for entertaining matches, and have disappointed before in the CL. But this may be their year; they are looking strong both in the CL and in the Italian League, and may have one of the broadest selection of star-players.
2. AC Milan: They are again very strong and are looking to defend their title.
1. Manchester United: With a new young and strong team, Manchester United has already been unstoppable in the first round, and I am increasingly feeling that they may be the team to beat to win the tournament!

Let us see! I can't wait!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Rafa Benitez and Liverpool

I have lately heard some rumours about Mr. Rafa Benitez shaky position as Liverpool manager, partly due to a tense relation with the club's American owners, as well as the fact that Liverpool is yet again with meager chances of winning the Premier League.
Liverpool has great players and under Mr. Benitez the team has had some amazing results in the Champions League, most memorably the 2005 victory.
Mr. Benitez is a great coach, and competition in the Premier League is bitter to say the least. Victory in the Premier League goes over a long season, and I find it doubtful whether anyone could do better than Mr. Benitez.
Instead, Liverpool people reconsidering Mr. Benitez should remember that when he coached Valencia CF, he won both the Spanish Championship and the UEFA Cup, only to leave Valencia for Liverpool the following season. Valencia has never really recovered from losing him, and Liverpool should consider whether it could recover from losing Mr. Benitez!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

World Rankings 2007

The FIFA 2007 Galla Awards are an occassion for looking back at the foregone year in terms of football: which teams did well, which players were outstanding, and all other things for us football nerds.
One of the more interesting things for me, personally, was the World Ranking standing, where two countries that interest me a lot, had a quite prominent positions:

(where I lived as a child), has ended the year on the top spot on the world ranking, a position it has held for the first time since the establishment of the ranking. This has somehow surprised me, due to the fact that Argentina, in July, lost the final of the Copa America 0-3 to Brazil, in Venezuela. But besides that, and a loss to Colombia here in November, Argentina has had a quite impressive year, and the top-ranking at the end of the year may be a prelude to great things for the coming World Cup in South Africa (and I hope so with my heart!).

The other country prominently mentioned in the world ranking, was, to my great surprise, Mozambique (where I am currently residing). I have before said that I have a great positive influence on the football of countries I live in, and that I would do it for Mozambique, and seems I have already fulfilled my promise: Mozambique was the single best mover on the world rankings in 2007, with 245 points and moving from 128th to 75th place on the world ranking. This was mainly due to some good results on their qualifiers for the 2008 Africa's Cup in Ghana, which will nevertheless not see the participation of the Mamba's. Mozambique is on the right track though, and I shall do my best next year as well!

Monday, December 17, 2007


Kaká, AC Milan´s wonderful Brazilian midfielder, has just been given FIFA´s title as World Player of the year 2007.
I think Kaká is absolutely the right choice, as no other player has achieved the things he has achieved this year: Champions League with AC Milan and just a few days before, the Club world championship after defeating Boca Juniors 4-2!
And Kaká has been truly central in achieving these victories. The closest contenders to the title were Mr. Lionel Messi and Mr. Cristiano Ronaldo (who finished second anf third respectively) , but it is clear that while these two players have been spectacular this year, they have not been as important to the success of their team as Mr. Kaká.
I want to congratulate Mr. Kaká, because he is truly a great player.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fabio Capello

The apparently neverending speculation of who should follow Mr. McLaren as coach of the English national team seems to be at an end, as Mr. Fabio Capello, the charismatic Italian coach with a superb CV, has apparently been confirmed as new manager (as I write this, some contractual issues seem to be pending).
Mr. Capello has been Champions League winner with AC Milan (the 1994 4-0 victory against FC Barcelona), Italian champion with AC Milan, AS Roma and Juventus, as well as Spanish champion with Real Madrid (in 1996 and last season). He is undoubtedly a very qualified gentleman, but is he what the English want...?
Mr. Capello was criticized in Real Madrid for being too defensive, something that is bound to happen again in England, specially if results are not forthcoming. To coach England is surely different (not more difficult though!) than anything Mr. Capello has done before, and in particular the demands from the English public will put him under pressure.
I wish him the best of luck!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

16 teams remaining in the Champions League

The first round of the 2007-2008 Champions League has ended, and we now have 16 teams left for the draw on December 21st.
Due to work obligations, I have had limited time to follow the rounds closely, and have missed (too many) matches. But I have the clear impression that it has been an excellent start to the champions league, wiith some amazing matches, and it seems bound to get even more exciting with the following teams:
  • FC Porto: The Portuguese won their group ahead of Liverpool, and as so many years before, may be bound to be underestimated. However, be sure that no team will have an easy time against Porto!
  • Liverpool: Last year´s finalists looked very weak in the start, but with three consecutive victories and 16 goals, they look to be searching for another Champions League success, otherwise eluding them in the Premier League.
  • Chelsea: In spite of changing coach in the middle of the tournament, Chelsea never really looked in danger i the group, and should be considered a contender for the title, although they are looking weaker than last year.
  • Schalke 04: The Germans made sure they would be in the last-16 by a sure 3-1 victory against Norwegian Rosenborg BK in the last match. They will have a hard time however, almost against any of the other teams.
  • Real Madrid: Under coach Bernd Schuster, Real Madrid truly seems reborn, and one player as crucial as Raul seems to have been reborn, whiile Robinho is free to do his magic, and Van Nistelrooi and Robben are super-dangerous. With the beautiful football they are displaying again, they are a welcome team by any football fan, and will surely be aiming for the title (well, they always do).
  • Olympiakos: The Greeks have performed well to be in the last 16, with some excellent results. Although I do not think they can make it all the way, they will be difficult for any team to play against, specially in Greece where they are supported by a passionate and intimidating homecrowd.
  • AC Milan: The defending champions are sure contender for the title again. Kaka & Co. have again been very strong, and their first place in the group was never really in question.
  • Celtic: The Scots are a very welcome team in the last-16 with their charming supporters, spirited fight and strategy. It is doubtful whether they can make it very hard, but they shall surely not be underestimated after the results in the first round.
  • FC Barcelona: The Catalonians were never threatened and won their group easily. They are looking strong indeed, and with Samuel Eto'o back in the last game against Stuttgart (and even scoring!), they may now be at full firepower, which will surely make them one of the favourites for the title. With their technique and positive football, any game with them is something to look forward to.
  • Olympique Lyon: The French started off a bit weak with a home-defeat to Glasgow Rangers, but improved as the round progressed, and ended with an impressive 4-0 victory against Rangers in Glasgow. I have many times previously thought Lyon was a team to watch; I don't think they are as strong as former years, but still... They are a team to watch!
  • Manchester United: The English team was one game away from maximum-points in the first round, and are looking very strong, and one of the favourites for the title. In fact, I don't think they have looked as strong since their last victory in 1999, but their weakness may be that they seem to depend very much on a limited number of players.
  • AS Roma: The Romans are always difficult to play again, particularly in the Italian capital, but I doubt whether they can make it all the way.
  • Inter: Inter always looks strong, and has a very dangerous attacking force and brilliant technical players. In that regard, they are, in my humble view, a contender for the title. However, they are every year, but I think they are looking much more dangerous this season, not only in the Champions League, but also in the Serie A.
  • Fenerbahce: The Turkish side did what they ahd to do in their last match by defeating CSKA Moscow to make it to the last-16. With a number of Brazilians and a passionate homecrowd, Fenerbahce should also be a team to watch, although I do not believe they can make it all the way.
  • Sevilla: The double-UEFA Cup winners started their Champions League adventure by losing 3-0 to Arsenal in London, but have since won five consecutive victories to win their group ahead of the Englishmen. Sevilla is a very strong team, although not looking as strong as last season in the Primera División, they should be considered seriously as an outsider to get very far in this Champions League.
  • Arsenal: They youngsters from Arsenal are leading the Premier League, and with good results in the Champions League, may be considered a contender for the title. However, their young age may also be their biggest enemy, and it remains to be seen how they do against any of the giants.

There is bound to be some amazing matches ready on December 21st. Group winners will have the (minor) advantage of starting playing away when the CL starts again in February 2008. By that time, I will again be in the Mozambican bush, and just hope I will be able to watch!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Olympique Lyon trashing Rangers

With all due respect to the many great fans of Glasgow Rangers, I must admit that I much prefer to see Olypique Lyon in the last-16 of the Champions League. I have for long admired the French champions, and in particular their deadly attacking weapon in the form of Juninho.
Nevertheless, I was expecting an all-exciting match tonight in Glasgow, where a tie would be enough to send Rangers through, after their (surprising) trashing of the French in Lyon earlier this year.
Although the early goal somewhat changed the game, and Rangers managed to put a steady pressure, besides one huge chance, it never really felt like Rangers would pull the trick. Instead, their defence was looking more and more shaky amid Lyon's deadly conterattacks, led by a marvelous young Benzema (I had never actually before seen him play, but I was overly impressed).
It is a pity for Rangers and their great fans, as they will be missed in the last-16. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to see the marvelous Lyon side, which surely will be a difficult adversary for any team.
Until next years Rangers!

Liverpool on the edge

Liverpool FC always seems to be at its best when on the edge, and last night, against Marseille, they were truly at their best.
After the first three matches in the first stage of the Champions League, Liverpool had only gotten one meager point, and last year's finalists seemed to be heading towards an early exit. However, with three impressive victories in their last three matches, Liverpool is now in the last-16, and is surely a team to be feared.
Olympique Marseille has been looking very strong lately, and in front of a strong home crowd, could have made life difficult for the English side. But with Gerrard's penalty and Torres beautiful goal, Liverpool sealed the match in the first 15 minutes, and never looked threatened. If anything, 0-4 was a small victory, and that is truly impressive result in Southern France!

In an interview, Steven Gerrard said that the team had prepared themselves by thinking of the match as a "cup" match, a "win-or-lose" match. In reality it was, I guess, but it is interesting that it is this attitude that makes the current Liverpool side. Thus, it would seem that they should not be considered contenders for the Premier League title, while indeed for both the FA Cup and the Champions League!