Thursday, April 30, 2009

Disappointing semifinals

The first leg of the 2008-2009 UEFA Champions League semifinals were a huge disappointment considering the exciting tournament that we have been having until now.
FC Barcelona was unable to open the strict and disciplined defense of Chelsea, in spite of the fact that they played beautifully in the first half, and probably deserved to win overall (although Chelsea did have a couple of good chances to seal what would have been an unlikely victory). 0-0 was a disappointing result for the Catalonians and for all football fans, and now Chelsea has it all in their hands to win in London. It will be interesting though: if Chelsea play more offensively, they will risk opening up spaces for FC Barcelona's awesome attacking machine.

Manchester United against Arsenal was a different type of match: mainly dominated by United, with Arsenal playing the ball nicely around but without getting any good shots. In fact, the game was most notable for its lacking chances (which largely went to Manchester United nevertheless), and it was perhaps because of this that it was also a defender, John O'Shea, who scored the winning goal in the first half.
1-0 is a rather narrow lead for United, but Arsenal will surely have to play much better to win against Manchester United, who already showed against FC Porto in the quarterfinal that they can play tactically and with discipline away.

I believe that the final in Rome will be a repeat of last years' final in Moscow.

Monday, April 27, 2009

World Cup memories

On BBC World Football phone this weekend they talked about their favourite world cup memories, which led myself to reflect on my favourite world cup memories.
I started watching the world cup in 1982 when I was 7 years old, but 1986 was the first world cup that I watched passionately as a fan. In spite of this limited timeframe, I still have difficulties in defining my one moment, so I have made a list of five, in no particular order of priority:
  • Argentina's world cup victory in 1986 where the England match and the final against West Germany most come to mind.
  • Argentina's penalty victory against Italy in the semifinal of 1990.
  • Denmark's three-game winning streak in the first round of 1986.
  • Denmark's victory against Nigeria in 1998 and the subsequent match against Brazil.
  • Brazil-France, 1986: a classic and brilliant match, and I really don't think we will ever again see this type of football in a world cup.

Ages ago, when this blog was more than just a blog, but also included information on world cups, I made a posting about my favourite top-10 goals in the world cups, but reflecting on this, I also made a list of the most memorable world cup goals for me personally:

  • Canniggia's winning goal between Brazil and Argentina, which was totally undeserved, but masterly executed, making a young Argentina fan like myself very happy.
  • Freddy Rincón's equalizer for Colombia against West Germany in the 1990 World Cup. Colombia had been brilliant but was trailing 0-1 in the dying minutes of the match, when Rincón made a deserved equalizer that put Colombia in the next round.
  • Maradona's 2-0 goal against England in 1986: need I say more that I was happy like a mosquito in a Mercedes?
  • Brian Laudrup's equalizer to 2-2 for Denmark against Brazil in 1998: this was the last time I felt true passion for a world cup goal, as the brilliant strike kept the hope that Denmark might defeat the Brazilian world champions.

These are the four goals that immediately come to mind, but as I reflect on this, I can sadly also think of some of the saddest moments for me in world cup:

  • Argentina's defeat to Cameroun in 1990: I was devastated, partly because I was a passionate Argentina fan, and partly because I thought it was unfair that everyone hated Argentina and that Cameroun had played too harsh.
  • Denmark's 1-5 defeat to Spain in 1986: it felt so unfair that such a brilliant Danish side had to mess it all up in such a pathetic way.
  • Argentina's early exit from the world cup of 2002, where an efficient but dead-boring Sweden stood in the way of the Argentineans.
  • Brazil's defeat to Norway in 1998: I just thought it was depressing that a team playing like Norway should be able to defeat mighty Brazil. Showed me that Brazil wasn't that strong any more, but worse, since then, I have realized the low quality of world cup football!
  • Denmark's defeat to England in 2002: I was just really hoping that Denmark might defeat the spice boys, but Denmark fell through completely.

Any stories and suggestions? As was mentioned in the BBC World Football Phone-in, this is a very personal list, and sure to be full of stories - personally, I loved the story of a gentleman from 1970, who said that after watching the outstanding Brazilians play, he rushed out to ask anybody to play, and ran into a thief that was being followed by police!.

Klinsmann fired

Jurgen Klinsmann has just been fired as Bayern Munich coach after they lost 0-1 to Schalke 04 at home. The mighty southern Germans are now trailing Vfl Wolfsburg in the struggle for the German championship. Bayern Munich has been poor under Klinsmann, who never managed to provide the passion he provided for the German national team in the 2006 World Cup. Just shows the huge difference between training a national team (at best a part-time job) and coaching a top professional club-side.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Will Barcelona win...?

I was delighted that Valencia managed to get a 2-2 tie with seemingly mighty Barcelona. Valencia fought and played with heart, and they may be cementing their position to play the next season's Champions League, more so as Sevilla lost to Real Madrid, and Valencia is now eyeing the 3rd place.
Now 4 point separate Barcelona and Real Madrid, and next weekend is the clash that can decide the Spanish championship. Barcelona is looking awesome, but I am not so sure: Barcelona is a looking more like a team of humour-players, who play exceptionally when things are going for them (against easy opponents) but may not be looking too strong when they are actually facing opposition.
In spite of my personal antipathies, I must admit that Real Madrid plays with spirit and heart, and I am certain they will put all their spirit into the Barcelona match. At the same time, Barcelona is facing two crucial matches this week: on Tuesday in the Champions League against Chelsea, and then the Real Madrid match. These will not be easy matches, and they will prove whether the current Barcelona side under Guardiola is really a new "Dream team", or whether they are just a bubble of good football but without the spirit to fight and win.
I am not sure where I rate them, but I definetly see the danger that they may not be as good as any football fan (surely myself) would surely like them to be.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pepe the kicking hooligan

Last nights match between Real Madrid and Getafe in the Spanish first division had a spectacular ending: five minutes before the end of the match Real Madrid equalized to 2-2 by Guti, before Getafe was given a penalty, which they missed, and then Gonzalo Higuaín scored a spectacular winner so that Real Madrid is still pushing FC Barcelona for the Spanish championship.
In spite of this incredible ending of the match, the penalty given to Getafe (which Casquero nevertheless quite pathetically missed) was a disgrace for football in every sense of the word. Firstly, it is clear that Casquero dives, and that Pepe hardly touches him, so there is no penalty for that infraction. But an even greater disgrace (and maybe one can say that is when the penalty is given?) is the Portuguese defenders reaction as he performs a violent and crazy kick on the player lying down.
Even as pathetic is Real Madrid coach Juande Ramos, defending Pepe by saying he was frustrated and desperate at the penalty. Well, there was no penalty indeed, but that doesn't justify the reaction! Hooligans are usually people who are desperate and sad at their team having lost; that doesn't justify their violent acts!

I don't know, but when people attack someone in such a way, they are usually indicted - we all know any hooligan would get indicted, and Mr. Pepe has just inscribed himself as a top-hooligan; a disgrace for football.
I hope Pepe is banned for a billion matches.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Who will be world champion in...

I was just listening to a podcast of the best football show in the world, the BBC world football phone-in, where Sean Wheelock, the North American football commentator was arguing why he thought the US would be world champion by 2020.
I really like Sean Wheelock, but like with David Beckham staying in the MLS, he is probably as wrong as when Pelé said that an African team would be world champion by the year 2000.
It ain't gonna happen: while many of his points about the growth of the sport in the US are true, the passion and commitment needed to foster such talents and following is simply not there.

And they should start by not calling it soccer.

I am sorry to say this, but at least until 2040 the world cup is only going to be won by Europeans and the occasional South Americans.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Great weekend!

It was a great football-weekend: Brøndby IF won 5-1 against FC Sønderjylland, and with FC Copenhagen losing 0-1 to Aarhus GF, Brøndby and FC Copenhagen are now tied at the top of the Danish league.
In Spain, Valencia defeated 3rd ranked Sevilla by 3-1, and is now more firmly on fourth place, heading towards CL participation next season!
Great weekend!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Top ten: comments from Michael Laudrup after he was fired at Spartak

10) "We have not had the referees with us!"
9) "I will need to open a vodka-import for this"
8) "What is Erik Larsen going to do now?"
7) "Come on! We were eliminated in the Russian cup, but I am aiming at the Champions League!"
6) "With my distinguished coaching career, maybe now I can become national team coach, which is only a part-time job anyway"
5) "What does вы произвели mean?"
4) "I thought I was going to be allowed to spend billions on dollars on players before being fired!?"
3) "Spartak who?"
2) "You mean I was actually working here!?"
1) "Muchas Gracias"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Just like last season, Chelsea proved to be the last stop for Liverpool in the Champions League campaign, but after an exciting match that ended with the most extraordinary result of 4-4! Any match that ends 4-4 is entertaining and intense, specially in the face of a spirited Liverpool side that seemed as always to be coming back against impossible odds. Also, the spirit and physical strength the players from both teams showed was simply extraordinary.

In this sense, it was an extraordinary match.

Nevertheless, a serious football fan should also notice that the game was charactrized by an overwhelming amount of pretty simple mistakes, and that the Chelsea side in particular in the first half seemed very nervous and/or unmotivated. In that sense, it was a strange match, as one is not used to seeing these types of mistakes at this level.

But that is the beauty of football: sometimes these things happen, even to the best of teams, and you end up having a match like we had last night.

Chelsea will now be facing FC Barcelona, whose semifinal never looked in doubt, and managed a 1-1 in Munich against Bayern.
Chelsea against Barcelona has all the ingredients to be an extraordinary match.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Valencia has defeated Sporting de Gijón 3-2, and after Villarreal's defeat yesterday, is now back in fourth place which would qualify them for the CL next season! This is splendid, and there is hope for the remainder of the season that Valencia might actually make it where they belong!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Liverpool on top

Liverpool won again to take the top of the Premier League for a few hours, before Manchester United defeated Sunderland 2-1 to take the top spot again. 17-year old Federico Macheda saved Manchester United for the second weekend in a row, and if they become champions, he may well be creditted for being one of the architects behind it!
But at least the Premier League is very interesting this season!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hamburg SV-Manchester City

The UEFA Cup is often an underestimated tournament, standing at the shadow of the Champions League. Nevertheless, this is a bit unfair, as the quality is often as good as in the CL, and one gets to see some other excellent European teams which are more rare in the CL, that too often seems dominated by the same ten teams or so.
So last night I was in O'Leary's in Copenhagen with some friends to drink beer and watch the exciting quarterfinal in the UEFA Cup between Mancherster City and Hamburg SV, and it proved no disappointment: Manchester City scored after some 30 seconds, but then Hamburg played a splendid match to carry a well-deserved 3-1 victory home!
In another quarterfinal Werder Bremen defeated Udinese 3-1, and we may thus be looking at an all-German semifinal (and so, German football is not only symbolized by Bayern Munich's disaster in the CL) on the one hand, and an all-Ukrainian semifinal on the other, as both Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kiev managed to get good results against Olympique Marseille and Paris St. Germain respectively.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Champions League quarterfinals

The first leg of the Champions League 2008-09 quarterfinals were interesting matches which I greatly enjoyed watching over beers in pubs in Copenhagen:
  • Manchester United-FC Porto: FC Porto has done it before, and may be well on the way to repeating the feat of eliminating Manchester United, and proving yet again that they are a team that should never be underestimated. They played a great match, and 2-2 may be a great result as they play in Oporto for the next match, where Manchester United will be forced to win, something they have never done before!
  • Villarreal-Arsenal: I was a bit disappointed of Villarreal, who didn't really manage to control the match despite the early lead and home advantage. 1-1 is a fair result, and puts Arsenal in a good position before the match in London. The two goals of the match were splendid, in particular Adebayor's bicycle kick!
  • FC Barcelona-Bayern Munich: After losing 5-1 in the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich suffered another heavy defeat in the hands of FC Barcelona, who in particular in the first half seemed to be running over the Germans when leading 4-0. FC Barcelona somewhat relaxed in the second half, but the most surprising thing in such a match is seeing the difference in quality between two teams in the Champions League.
  • Liverpool-Chelsea: Liverpool has looked awesome lately, but had their hands full against a Chelsea side that has found itself under Guus Hiddink. Chelsea deservedly won 1-3 and have one foot in the semifinal, and increasingly look like the team to beat! Liverpool on the other hand can come back to planet earth and concentrate on the Premier League!

I personally feel the dream final will be Barcelona against Chelsea!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

UEFA Cup Fantasy football

As we are now entering the quarterfinals of the 2008-09 UEFA Champions League, I am ranked 19,634 (out of 272,515) on UEFA CL Fantasy football, and have just reformed my team again to illustrate the coming quarterfinal matches:
  • Goalkeeper: Pep Reina, Liverpool
  • Defenders: Ashley Cole, Chelsea; John O'Shea, Manchester United; Rio Ferdinand, Manchester United
  • Midfielders: Xavi, FC Barcelona; Markus Babel, Liverpool; Javier Mascherano, Liverpool; Dirk Kuyt, Liverpool
  • Attackers: Lionel Messi, FC Barcelona; Samuel Eto'o, FC Barcelona; Carlos Tevez, Manchester United
  • Substitutes: Michael Rensing, Bayern Munich; Lucio, Bayern Munich; Lucho Gonzalez, FC Porto; José Bosingwa, Chelsea

Rules change at this stage, as one can have as many players as one wants from a team, explaining the many Liverpool players I have on midfield. Nevertheless, one is still limited by the amoung of funds to spend, and add to that that I have wanted at least a balance, based on the teams I believe are going to be more lively in the round.

A lot depends on Liverpool and FC Barcelona progressing.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Things are getting better

It has not been the best months for my favourite teams of Valencia and Brøndby respectively.
Valencia has been dreadful, losing many games and slipping below the all-important champions league spots in the Spanish league, and amid economic crisis in the club, the players have not been paid their salary for a couple of months.
A couple of days ago Valencia's players were finally paid their due, and apparently thanked the club today by winning 4-1 against Getafe.
Who said money doesn't help...?
Now they just have to keep it up in the remaining nine rounds of the league!!!

Obama and West Ham

The president of the US, Mr. Barack Obama was in London for the G20 summit this week. This has been reported widely, and this is not what I would like to dwell on here, but more on the fact that Mr. Obama apparently has a small football-fanatic heart in there, as he apparently supports the London side West Ham United.
It is always a bit obscure why people support certain teams, and this is one of the more obscure ones, although it certainly doesn't beat that Mr. Osama Bin Laden apparently is a fervent Arsenal supporter.
Anyway, I am not sure this makes any difference for West Ham, who yesterday defeated Sunderland 2-0, to move up to 7th place in the Premier League.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Onside Manager

As the league's in the entire world are progressing, I have of course made my own fantasy managers' teams on different sites. One of them is on TV3's, where you can make your fantasy team for the Danish league. Since many years ago, when I was s young and jolly guy, I won fifth prize in Denmark on a similar one with Politiken, I have again joined this one, but mostly to compete with old friends, whom I nevertheless usually defeat (especially the girls!).
Onside Manager is ok, although some clear faults, for instance that there are no automatic substitutions options.
As it is now, my team looks as follows:
  • Goalkeeper: Karim Zaza, Aalborg B
  • Defenders: Max Von Schleebrügge, Brøndby; Kasper Bøgelund, Aalborg B; Dennis Cagara, FC Nordsjælland; Thomas Helveg, Odense B.
  • Midfielders: Stefan Gislason, Brøndby; Eric Demba-Djemba, Odense B; Anders Due, Aalborg B; Jonas Borring, FC Midtjylland
  • Attack: Ousman Jallow, Brøndby; Frank Kristensen, FC Midtjylland
  • Coach: Lars Olsen, Odense B

I have lived up to my principle of no players from Copenhagen, although some of my selections are admittedly looking a bit dubious: Ousman Jallow in attack is not looking as strong in attack as I had hoped, and I think he will become a bench-warmer in Brøndby.

Anyway, but I think I will win, and the name of the team says it all: "Hvis jeg ikke vinder er det dommeres skyld".

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Bolivian heights

In a world cup qualifier in Bolivia's capital, La Paz, Argentina was defeated 1-6 by the locals in what is a historically huge defeat for the Argentinean national team. This is all the more painful because of the hopes that had been put on Mr. Maradona's coaching of Argentina.
Although the defeat is a huge loss and humilliation for Argentina (Mr. Maradona said after the match that each Bolivian goal was like a stab, but also acknowledged that Bolivia was far superior), one should nevertheless not forget the fact that Bolivia is an excellent home-team: La Paz is at an altitude of almost 4000 meters above sea-level, and FIFA has actually tried to forbid Bolivia to play their home-matches there because of the home-advantage it gives (not to say the health risks). Pelé has before said that the most difficult games he played in his life were there, and Bolivia has always done well in the South American championships there. This is not to say that other teams have done great, also recently: Colombia and Venezuela both managed to tie, and Chile even defeated Bolivia there recently! However, these countries used many days to acclimatize, and that is what I am getting at: Argentina went there on the day of the match, and that is hardly the preparation one should have to play under these conditions!

Bolivia has reached new heights with this victory, and should be congratulated for it, but they will still not make it to the World Cup.


Denmark played a great match when defeating Albania 3-0 in Copenhagen tonight, and things are looking bright for eventual participation in the 2010 World Cup: After five matches Denmark has 13 points and a stunning score of 12-2 to lead the European World Cup qualifier group 1. Although they defeated Portugal earler, Denmark is still facing the most difficult matches against the arch-rivals from Sweden, who are nevertheless not looking particularly strong, while the Danes, under coach Morten Olsen, seem to be getting the best out of their lack of stars, but play as a solid team.
It is quite exciting that Denmark may qualify again after so many years of absense from major tournaments!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

David Beckham as Real Madrid coach?

As Florentino Perez is fighting to regain the presidency of Real Madrid, new credible rumours have come out that he has offered the position as head coach of Real Madrid to none other than David Beckham. Although Mr. Beckham has no coaching experience, he could potentially provide a lot to the team where he played as one of the "galácticos". Mr. Beckham is nevertheless not going to run away from his existing contracts with AC Milan and LA Galaxy; instead, Mr. Perez has made an agreement where Mr. Beckham will be acting as player in those two clubs, at the same time as he will be coaching Real Madrid!
It will surely be busy for Mr. Beckham, but if anyone can do it, it is surely Spice Boy!