Friday, November 27, 2009

Greatest World Cup matches: Portugal-North Corea (1966)

After North Corea’s sensational victory against Italy in the first round, the Asians became very popular, and thousands of fans followed them to their quarterfinal encounter in Liverpool.
They were to face on the best teams in Europe at the time, Portugal, who was lead by the best player in Europe at the time, the Mozambican Eusebio.
Portugal had won their group after three consecutive victories against Hungary, Bulgaria, and the defending world champions of Brazil, in a match where the Brazilian star Pelé, had been slaughtered mercilessly and without any consideration from the English referee George McCabe in one of the great shames of the World Cup in England.
Nevertheless, Portugal were ready for the quarterfinal, and in spite of North Corea’s victory against Italy, the Portuguese clearly had their eyes on the semi-final, although the match was not as easy as the Portuguese had expected.
The North Coreans were obviously unimpressed by the European stars, and started attacking eagerly, and in one minute only went ahead on a splendid shot from outside by the captain Pak Seung-Zin to the delight of the 51,000 spectators.
And this did not stop the Coreans, who made up for the defensive weaknesses by continuing the attacking football and quick touches; although the Portuguese had some chances, mainly by the strong Eusebio, their defence looked very weak as the Coreans went ahead both 2-0 and 3-0 by the 25th minute in what was turning into an astonishing match.
But North Corea continued attacking, perhaps naively in a match where the Portuguese were more experienced and cynical. Only a few minutes after North Corea’s 3-0 goal, Eusebio scored coldly on a pass by his Benfica colleague José Augusto. This gave Portugal some faith at a moment when they were seemingly being overrun, and before half-time the Portuguese forced a penalty kick, where Eusebio scored to 2-3, the score at half-time.
The Portuguese came out to the second half with more concentration and marking the Coreans closer, and ten minutes into the second half Eusebio equalized with a splendid shot from a relatively sharp angle.
By then, the Portuguese were confidently on top of the match, and only three minutes later Portugal got a new penalty kick and Eusebio scored his fourth goal, bringing Portugal ahead. The match had now completely turned around thanks to the “Black Panther” from Mozambique, and only ten minutes before time José Augusto sealed the Portuguese victory with a header.
Eusebio had defeated North Corea, who nevertheless had been the great revelation fo the tournament, and had endeared many fans with their aggressive, quick and optimistic style. The North Coreans returned home as heroes, but were never to return to a World Cup, and the players that had made such a great feat all but disappeared, except from the world cup memory of such a great team.

Match Stats:
  • 23rd July 1966, Goodison Park, Liverpool
  • Attendance: 51,000
  • Referee: Menachem Azkhenazi (Israel)
Portugal-North Corea 5-3
Goals: 0-1 Pak Seung-Zin (1), 0-2 Li Dong-Woon (22), 0-3 Yang Seung-Kook (25), 1-3 Eusebio (27), 2-3 Eusebio (43) (pen), 3-3 Eusebio (56), 4-3 Eusebio (59) (pen), 5-3 Augusto (80)

Portugal: Pereira; Vicente, Hilario, Coluna, Simões, Augusto, Eusebio, Graca, Morais, Torres, Baptista
North Corea: Lee Chan-Myung; Shin Yung-Kyoo, Lim Zoong-Sun, Pak Doo-Ik, Han Bong-Zin, Oh Yoon-Kyung, Ha Yong-Won, Im Seung-Hwi, Pak Seung-Zin (c), Yang Seung-Kook, Li Dong-Woon

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Greatest World Cup matches: England-West Germany (1966)

For the World Cup in England the home nation was full of expectations. Having never won a World Cup before, everyone thought that England should excel at home, and had indeed assembled a very strong team, where the West Ham captain Bobby Moore, led what became the best defense of the World Cup. In midfield the star was Bobby Charlton from Manchester United, an extraordinary offensive midfielder who was awarded the title of best European player of the year of 1966.
In spite of this strong team, England had not had an easy time, and had mainly prevailed because of their strong defense that didn’t let in a single goal until the semifinal.
The English had been in a rather easy first round group which they had won ahead of Uruguay (a poor side that they had only managed to tie 0-0 with), and in the quarterfinal had won a narrow 1-0 victory against Argentina in a match that was marred by a controversial German referee who had left Argentina with ten men after expelling the Argentinean captain Rattin for not liking how he looked at him.
In the semifinal the English had strangely been allowed to change the venue of the match to Wembley, where the best defense of the tournament, England, had faced the best attacking side of the tournament, Portugal. In spite of allowing Eusebio to score the first goal against them, England won their best match in the tournament with two goals by Bobby Charlton, and was ready to play the final in Wembley against the rivals of West Germany.
The Germans had by 1966 again built up a strong disciplined team combining of experienced and young players. They were captained by Uwe Seeler, the Hamburg striker (who was playing his third World Cup), and had a strong and offensive midfield with Helmut Haller from Bologna. These were supplemented by a strong defense where a 21-year old player from Bayern Munich had been noted in the tournament: Franz Beckenbauer totally changed what it meant to be a defender, scoring many goals coming from his “free” position, and was to become one the greatest players of all time.
In the first round the Germans had won their group ahead of Argentina, Spain and Switzerland. In the quarterfinals they had destroyed Uruguay 4-0, and had in the semifinal defeated the USSR 2-1.
There were understandably huge expectations to the final between two European giants, but England were firm favourites in what was to become a legendary drama.
Helmut Haller brought West Germany ahead after twelve minutes after picking up a bad clearing from Ray Wilson. However, only five minutes elapsed before West Ham’s Geoff Hurst levelled the match for England. Geoff Hurst had only entered the tournament in the quarterfinal against Argentina as a substitute for Jimmy Greaves.
He was to become one of the great players of the final.
First half ended 1-1 in what had until then been an equal encounter.
The English entered the second half with the decision to create a result, and had much more possession in the second half, but without being able to force clear chances on the disciplined German defense. However, continued pressure finally bore fruit for the home side in the 78th minute: Allan Ball took a corner kick that reached Geoff Hurst, whose shot bounced off the foot of the Werder Bremen defender Horst-Dieter Höttges, and was picked up by another West Ham player, Martin Peters, who calmly placed the ball around the German goalkeeper Hans Tilkowski.
England was ahead 2-1 and the world cup title was within grasp; but the Germans never give up!
West Germany started to attack, hoping to get an equalizer, and only one minute before the end of the match when the defender Wolfgang Weber tackled his way to the far post after a free kick, and by way of his foot and an English defenders’ knee, pushed the ball into goal and an equalizer for West Germany.
Disappointingly for many English fans, the match had to go into extra time. In spite of both teams being exhausted, England apparently found some energy; notably the hard workingAllan Ball, who halfway through the first half of extra time, caught a ball at the far corner flag, and made a pass backwards to Geoff Hurst in the German area. Hurst stopped the ball and shot quickly and hard towards the goal. The ball hit the post and headed down, out of the goal, where a German defender headed it away as the English players lifted their arms appealing for goal.
It was impossible to see whether the ball had been in, but the referee, after consulting the linesman, awarded the goal to England.
This goal remained very controversial, but it has only been able to seen later with modern technology that the “whole of the ball” had not passed over the goalline, and therefore the goal should not have been allowed.
Nevertheless, this was impossible for the referee to see, and there was no doubt that England had been the better team and deserved to be ahead 3-2.
The Germans were very tired, and unable to respond to an English team that continued attacking. In the very last minute of the extra time Geoff Hurst received the ball in a counterattack and running towards the German goal scored his third goal and England’s fourth, which sealed their victory. Geoff Hurst to this day remains the only player in the history of the World Cup to have scored three goals in a final.
In spite of the controversial goal, nobody could take away that England, the home of football, had deservedly won its first (and to date only) World Cup title.
There have been many myths created around England’s triumph, but there was nothing particularly “gallant” about the English side: it was strong, they deservedly won the world cup on the two last matches, but had certainly had much favouring from FIFA in the form of venues and referees.
Still, football had returned home, at least for four years.

Match Stats:
  • 30th July, 1966 Wembley Stadium, London
  • Attendance: 96,994
  • Referee: Gottfried Dienst (Switzerland)
England-West Germany 4-2 (After Extra Time)
Goals: 0-1 Haller (12), 1-1 Hurst (18), 2-1 Peters (78), 2-2 Weber (90), 3-2 Hurst (98), 4-2 Hurst (120)

England: Banks, Cohen, Wilson, Stiles, J. Charlton, Moore, Ball, Hurst, R. Charlton, Hunt, Peters
West Germany: Tilkowski, Hottges, Weber, Schulz, Schnellinger, Beckenbauer, Haller, Overath, Seeler, Held, Emmerich

Friday, November 20, 2009

FIFA's hand job

Controversy surrounded France's qualification for the World Cup against Ireland. So much that French president Nicolas Sarkozy apologized while the Irish have demanded that the match should be replayed (this was rejected by FIFA).
The problem is France's equalizer in extra time (that brought France ahead 2-1 on aggregate, and gave them the spot in South Africa) where Thierry Henry is clearly seen handling the ball before passing it to Gallas who scores.
Cheating Frenchmen or a lousy referee? Who is to blame for this blatant injustice? I don't think it should be either Thierry Henry, the French players, or even the Swedish referee who was under horrible pressure.
Clearly FIFA is to blame: Firstly, FIFA changed the rules on the seeding before the play-offs, giving chance an "easier" opponent in Ireland. Now that France, with all its power and superstars are in, all is good! I have no doubt that had it been Damien Duff who had handled the ball to give Ireland a winner, FIFA would have called for a re-match.
Secondly, this decision just underlines FIFA's need to introduce TV cameras in refereeing! Just to use the example from another famous hand-goal, Maradona's against England in 1986, in the time the English/Irish players were protesting to the unwavering referees, the entire world saw the goals time and time again in replay! After one minute, the only person in the world that had not seen the hand was the man who has to make the decision: the referee!
Isn't the point to create the most fair results and best conditions for players, referees and fans?!? Apparently not for FIFA.
This is plainly stupid, and one has to suspect that FIFA, who are not stupid, must have ulterior motives for this?
It is a great pity for Ireland, but also for France, who will go to the World Cup under the shadow of poor sportsmanship.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

South Africa 2010: Qualified teams

The qualification for the World Cup is over, and the 32 countries that will be at the World Cup in South Africa are ready.

South America:
  • Brazil: the five-time world champions have participated in all previous 18 World Cups.
  • Paraguay: One of the strongest and most stable South American sides are participating in their seventh world cup, and fourth in a row.
  • Chile: Participating in their 8th World Cup with an outstanding side coached by the Argentinean Marcelo Bielsa.
  • Argentina: Maradona's team has qualified for their 15th World Cup.
  • Uruguay: The two-times World Champions were the last ones to qualify in their play-off against Costa Rica, to their 11th World Cup.
  • North Corea: Are participating in their second World Cup ever, their first being their very succesful 1966 World Cup.
  • South Corea: The Asian giants have qualified for the seventh time in a row, and eighth in total.
  • Australia: Qualifying from Asia, Australia have now made it to their third World Cup.
  • Japan: Entering their fourth World Cup in a row and in total.
  • South Africa (hosts): Without having to qualify, the South Africans will participate in their only third World Cup since their first in 1998.
  • Ghana: A succesful debut in 2006 will lead to high expectations in this their second World Cup.
  • Côte d'Ivoire: Their first World Cup of 2006 was unsuccesful, so they will be looking to improve it this second time.
  • Cameroon: Participating in their 6th World Cup makes them the most succesful African World Cup nation ever.
  • Nigeria: The African giants will be playing their fourth World Cup after a dramatic last-round qualifier against Kenya.
  • Algeria: Algeria was at their first World Cup in 1982, sensationally defeating West Germany, and in 1986. This is their third World Cup.
  • New Zealand: The absence of Australia from the Oceania qualifiers gave New Zealand the surprise participation in their second World Cup (the first being Spain 1982)
North America:
  • USA: Participated in 1930 and 1950, and in every World Cup since 1990.
  • Mexico: The North Americans are entering their 14th World Cup.
  • Honduras: Participated for the first time in 1982, and this will be their second time.
  • Netherlands: The Orange Dutch are participating in their 9th World Cup.
  • Denmark: Entering their fourth World Cup, their last one being in 2002 where England eliminated them in the last-16.
  • England: The 1966 World Champions are entering their 13th World Cup.
  • Spain: The defending European Champions are looking for the World Cup glory that has always eluded them in 12 previous participations.
  • Germany: As a united Germany they are participating for the seventh time (and here in include 1934 and 1938). As West Germany they participated ten times and won three. This will thus be their 17th tournament.
  • Italy: The Italians are going to defend their 2006 title in their 17th World Cup participation
  • Slovakia: As Slovakia they will be playing their first World Cup ever, but as Czechoslovakia played in eight World Cups.
  • Serbia: Participated nine times as Yugoslavia, once as Serbia-Montenegro in 2006, and this will be the first time they participate as Serbia alone.
  • Switzerland: The Swiss will participate in their 9th World Cup, and second in a row.
  • Slovenia: Their surprise qualification against Russia put Slovenia in their second World Cup ever.
  • France: The 1998 champions and 2006 finalists barely qualified to their 13th World Cup after a controversial goal against Ireland.
  • Greece: The 2004 European Champions coached by Otto Rehagel have qualified for their second World Cup.
  • Portugal: Probably one of the most talented nations in the world, but are only participating in their 5th World Cup.
It looks like it will be a great world cup on the variety of participation, but as in the latest World Cups, there should not be great expectations to the quality of football, although there will surely be some national dramas in the latter rounds. Some countries that have played poorly and been quite problematic will not be missed, such as Egypt, Sweden or Russia, but others will surely be missed, such as Turkey, Senegal, Angola and the Czech Republic. I will definetly miss Trinidad & Tobago!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Switzerland wins the 2009 U-17 World Cup

The 13th FIFA U-17 World Cup yesterday ended in Nigeria with a very dusprising 1-0 victory for Switzerland, the debutants of the tournament, who with this win their first international title. The victory was no less surprising as they were playing the defending champions of Nigeria in front of a very hostile home-crowd of 60,000 in Abuja.
But the Swiss youngsters seemed unmoved by the atmosphere, and are now deserved champions of the world!

China 1985
West Germany
Canada 1987
Ivory Coast
Scotland 1989
Saudi Arabia
Italy 1991
Japan 1993
Ecuador 1995
Egypt 1997
New Zealand 1999
Trinidad & Tobago 2001
Burkina Faso
Finland 2003
Peru 2005

South Corea 2007


Nigeria 2009


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Heading to South Africa

New Zealand and Nigeria qualified for the World Cup yesterday, but other countries also either made sure they are going to be in South Africa, or took steps to it.
In Africa Cameroon finally qualified with a 2-0 away victory over Morocco, and are now the African nation that has participated in most World Cups.
One of the most awaited matches was surely Egypt-Algeria in Cairo. The match ended with a late Egyptian 2-0 goal that will force a re-match in Sudan on Wednesday, to decide which of the two will be going to the World Cup. According to some sources, before the match in Cairo, the Algerian team was attacked by Egyptian hooligans, and it seems the match was played in a very intimidating atmosphere. FIFA should certainly consider some sort of punishment for the Egyptians if this proves correct - these things don't belong in a World Cup participant!
In San José, Uruguay managed an important 0-1 victory against Costa Rica that puts them only one step away from South Africa, while in Europe, the four play-off matches left nothing for sure. Portugal barely managed to defeat an unlucky Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0, while Greece and Ukraine tied 0-0 in what sounds like a bore of a match.
Russia pressed and pressed for goals against Slovenia, but leading 2-0 gave away a late goal that can prove crucial for the next match on Wednesday in Ljubljana. France on the other hand seems to have taken a gigantic step with a 1-0 away victory against Ireland in Dublin with a goal of the ever-present Nikolas Anelka.
By next Wednesday we will know all the participants in the 2010 World Cup!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New Zealand to South Africa

After 0-0 in Bahrain, New Zealand had all the advantages to progress to their second World Cup ever. 35,000 spectators in Wellington were an all-time record for a football match in New Zealand, and they were not disappointed as New Zealand managed to pull a narrow 1-0 victory on a goal by the Plymouth Argyle striker Rory Fallon.
Congratulations to New Zealand, although I do not expect much of them in South Africa, but the cheerfulness of their supporters!

Tunisia out, Nigeria in

Nigeria have just qualified for the World Cup after two dramatic matches in Nairobi and Maputo.
In Nairobi, Kenya was playing Nigeria. Nigeria was forced to win, and at the same time hope that Mozambique take points from Tunisia in Maputo. The Nigerians, who had never lost to Kenya before, were 1-0 down at half-time, while the score in Maputo was 0-0. The Tunisians apparently did not seem to worry about the prospects for their World Cup participation, and let Mozambique dominate, even as news 15 minutes into the second half must have arrived, that Obafemi Martins had equalized for Nigeria, and only a few minutes later, Nigeria went ahead 2-1, and only then did Tunisia bother to attack. But this didn't last long: Kenya equalized, and again Nigeria was out and Tunisia were in.
But the Tunisians apparently had their minds in Kenya; only seven minutes before the end Dario scored for Mozambique, and almost at the same time Martins scored his second and Nigeria's third goal, putting Nigeria back on track and Tunisia out.
It must have been desperate attacking from Tunisia in the dying minutes of the match, knowing the score in Nairobi, but Mozambique still won, and with the score also holding in Nairobi, Nigeria were in the World Cup.
What a drama! This is what football is about!

Nigeria is arguably one of the nations with most football passion, with an almost never-ending pool of immensely talented players (just look at their u-17 side presently playing at the World Cup!). They were greatly missed at the 2006 World Cup, but will surely be an asset in South Africa next year.
It is a pity for Tunisian football and fans, but they can only blame themselves.
Congratulations to all Nigerian fans, who are surely celebrating now!

Greatest World Cup matches: England-Argentina (1966)

England and Argentina have one of the most intense rivalries in world football, surely the only classical cross-continental footballing rivalry. Being two of the most passionate footballing nations in the world, and much more closely associated than many know (indeed, the English brought football to Argentina in the 19th century!), the matches they have played have been intense, passionate and controversial.
The rivalry started with this quarterfinal of the 1966 World Cup. Argentina had progressed with victories against Spain and Switzerland, and a 0-0 against West Germany, while England had defeated Mexico and France, while tying 0-0 with Uruguay.
While West Germany faced Uruguay, England faced Argentina in the quarter-final, and the English referee in the former match took the attention of the match as much as the German referee in the latter match, prompting theories of an Anglo-German conspiracy against the South Americans.
The referee of this match, Rudolf Kreitlein from West Germany, had a call that is still considered one of the strangest in World Cup football, and has led to many in Argentina calling this match the “Robbery of the century”: Argentina’s captain, the Boca Juniors legend Antonio “La Rata” Rattín, was suddenly in the 25th minute expelled from the match, being the first player ever to be expelled in a World Cup (red cards had not been introduced yet). In a long discussion with the referee, Rattin refused to leave, and called for a translator, but it was refused. Mr. Kreitlein argued that he had taken the decision, since he “didn’t like how he [Rattín] was looking at me.”
Of course, the entire match was overshadowed by this incident, but when watching the match again one cannot say that the match was specially violent (nothing in comparison with what Portugal had subjected Brazil to in the first round), and Alf Ramsey’s comment after the match seemed out of place: "It seemed a pity so much Argentinian talent is wasted. Our best football will come against the right type of opposition - a team who come to play football, and not act as animals."
This type of comment only added to the bad faith between the two teams, which Alf Ramsey was only too eager to promote: When looking at the TV pictures of the end of the match, one can see players peacefully congratulating each other and ready to exchange shirts, when an over-excited Ramsey runs onto the pitch to prevent the players from exchanging shirts.
In spite of only ten men for the most of the match, Argentina held on against a superior side, until the West Ham striker Geoff Hurst scored the winning goal on a beautiful header in the 78th minute on a great pass by the young Martin Peters.
Hurst had not played any of the first round matches, but had started against Argentina when Jimmy Greaves was injured.
England was the better team of the two in spite of Argentina playing a fine match. Still, the fact that they were better is certainly overshadowed by the bad refereeing, as much as it would be 20 years later in another World Cup quarterfinal...
To this date, there is nothing but hate between the English and Argentinean fans, which is a pity considering that they are both great teams that have played intense matches with lousy referees.

Match Stats:
  • 23rd July 1966, Wembley Stadium, London
  • Attendance 90,000
  • Referee: Rudolf Kreitlein (West Germany)
England-Argentina 1-0
Goals: 1-0 Hurst (78)

England: Banks; Cohen, Wilson, Stiles, J. Charlton, Moore, Ball, B. Charlton, Peters, Hunt, Hurst
Argentina: Roma; Irusta, Perfumo, Marzolini, Ferreiro, Rattin (RC, 25), Solari, Gonzalez, Ortime, Onega, Mas

Friday, November 13, 2009

World Cup play-off matches

The last entries for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa will be decided this week, and there are some very interesting encounters.
In Europe, FIFA changed the rules on seeding teams shortly before the play-off draw, giving the "big" teams a better chance at qualifying. The power of money and politics, but hopefully the underdogs can manage some upset in some of the following European play-off matches:
  • Portugal-Bosnia Herzegovina
  • France-Ireland
  • Greece-Ukraine
  • Russia-Slovenia
In Wellington, New Zealand will be taking on Bahrain in the second leg of the Asia-Oceania play-off match. The first leg ended 0-0 and the Kiwis are now looking towards their second World Cup participation, their first being in 1982.

In San José, Costa Rica will be playing the two-times world champions of Uruguay in the first leg of the CONCACAF-South America play-off match. The South Americans are probably looking for a good result before receiving the Costa Ricans in Montevideo. However, Uruguay has been known to underestimate visiting teams before, something that missed them their qualification in 2006.

Finally, the last African teams will be decided: In the CAF group A, Cameroon and Gabon will fight for the first spot in their away matches against Morocco and Togo respectively. Cameroon is currently leading the group by one point.
Tunisia is leading CAF group 2 by two points ahead of Nigeria. The Nigerians will be playing Kenya away, and must win, but a the same time must hope that Tunisia does not defeat Mozambique in Maputo.
Perhaps the most thrilling encounter of all will take place in Cairo, where the two North African giants Egypt and Algeria will be clashing in CAF group C. The first match in Algiers ended 3-1 for Algeria, so Egypt needs to win by more than two goals to qualify for the World Cup. In case of a victory by two, the teams will be completely equal on the table, and a play-off match will take place then. But be sure that the Algerians will fight for the first spot in the intimidating atmosphere of Cairo! This match is PG-13!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Greatest World Cup matches: Italy-North Corea (1966)

The World Cups have, especially in the start, been the complete dominance of South America and Europe. Therefore, throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, the “rest of the world”, that is, Asia, Africa and Australia had to play between them for one meager qualifying spot.
For the 1966 World Cup in England, this “rest-of-the-world” spot went to the small and closed Communist dictatorship of North Corea. Although nobody knew anything of the team, there was not any big respect, and many spoke degrading of the Corean side, which also started unimpressively by losing 0-3 to the USSR, and then tying 1-1 with Chile, in what everyone thought would be their only point.
Italy on the other hand had defeated Chile and lost to the USSR, but nobody thought this would be a big deal since they basically only needed a tie against North Corea to progress to the next round, but nobody, even the North Corean officials (who had made plane reservations home on the day after the Italy match), thought that the Italians wouldn’t win.
However, as the match got underway in Middlesborough it immediately became clear that it would not be a walkover for the Italians: the Coreans were quick, controlled the ball well, and attacked eagerly the Italians all over the pitch, and there was nothing to tell that they were the underdogs. The Corean’s excellent style quickly won them many fans in Middlesborough, where the fans openly cheered for the Asians.
In a 2002 BBC documentary about the match, the journalist Dan Gordon explained how the North Coreans in fact played a quick style of football that had seldom been seen in the more physically focused European pitches: “"Football in 1966 was incredibly slow, and nowadays teams play like the Koreans did in 1966.”
Five minutes before the end of the first half Corea went ahead 1-0 on a goal by Pak-Doo Ik, who, as all players on the North Corean side, was a member of the North Corean army, and was promoted to sergeant after his feat in the World Cup.
Italy was stunned, and was unable to respond in the second half.
North Corea won, and had made it to the quarterfinal, in what is arguably one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history.
The Italian team did not act as good losers, and said that the Coreans had changed players at half-time, but that since all looked the same, nobody could tell the difference.
Understandably and deservedly, the Italian players were received with a hail of insults in Italy.

Match Stats:
  • 19th July 1966, Ayresome Park, Middlesborough
  • Attendance: 18,727
  • Referee. Pierre Schwinte (France)
Italy-North Corea 0-1
Goals:Pak Doo-Ik (41)

Italy: Albertosi; Facchetti, Janich, Fogli, Guarneri, Landini, Mazzola, Rivera, Barison, Bulgarelli (c), Perani
North Corea: Lee Chan-Myung; Shin Yung-Kyoo, Lim Zoong-Sun, Pak Doo-Ik, Han Bong-Zin, Oh Yoon-Kyung, Ha Yong-Won, Im Seung-Hwi, Pak Seung-Zin (c), Yang Seung-Kook, Kim Bong-Hwan

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Champions League 2009-2010 4th round group stages

Liverpool had to defeat Olympique Lyon away after losing 1-2 at home in the previous round. But last night the English team only managed a 1-1 draw, and with 4 points it is now almost impossible that Liverpool progresses to the next round: Livepool must win their remaining two matches and Fiorentina must not win any of their remaining two matches (of which the last one is between Liverpool and Fiorentina, and could prove crucial!). Watching Liverpool play, this is not surprising: although managing to dominate at moments, and getting ahead on a beautiful strike by Marcus Babbel, Lyon was the better team, and it will in fact be interesting to see whether this season may be the one for the French side.
In fact, French sides seem on top this season: Bordeaux defeated Bayern Munich 0-2 in Germany to surprisingly take the top spot in group A ahead of Juventus, while Olympique Marseille is only one point behind AC Milan and Real Madrid in group C, and will have to face both in their last two matches. Real Madrid only managed to tie against AC Milan, and while they retain the second spot, they are not looking as strong as expected.
The defending champions of Barcelona are not looking as awesome as last season either, and are struggling in group D, which is certainly the most exciting group: Inter is leading with 6 points, just ahead of Rubin Kazan and Barcelona with 5 points, while Dynamo Kiev has 4 points on last place, but can still win the group! The next round where Spanish and Italians face each other will be nail-biting!
While Atlético Madrid has been hugely disappointing and is already out after only managing to tie Chelsea 2-2 and trailing FC Porto, Sevilla has been the most awesome Spanish team, and is sure to progress from Group D where Unirea Urziceni and VfB Stuttgart are to fight for the second spot.
Finally, Manchester United and Arsenal seem set to win groups B and H respectively, with Wolfburg (by the way, cool intro-music on their web-site!), CSKA Moscow, Olympiakos and Standard Liege all having chances of progressing with them.