Friday, August 27, 2010

My team....

Can people's life really be measured by the football team they support...?

Indeed, I support Brøndby, who today pathetically lost 3-0 at home to Sporting Lisbon and was eliminated from the Europa League.
Brøndby is team that is full of hope every season that they will do well. And when things start going well and it looks that this might be the season, their moment, they completely mess it up at the last moment, and end up grumpy and disappointed. Their greatest success is still some matches some 20 years ago that only hardened fans still remember, and the hardened fans are that; old bitter men who never got much out of life, but are still reaching for that last moment of meager glory, like defeating a second-rate Portuguese side, before they fade out into the oblivion that they are as much as their team.

We don't chose our lives. We don't chose who we love. I support Brøndby, as much as I would like not to. Perhaps as much as I would like to be someone else... (a supporter of a good team).

Champions League 2010-2011 Groups

Today was the draw for the Group stage of the 2010-11 Champions League which will start in a couple of weeks, and look like this:

Group A:
Group B:
Group C:
Group D:
Group E:
Group F:
Group G:
Group H:
Group G is looking very interesting, with a repeat of last year's encounters between Real Madrid and AC Milan (where Milan won in Madrid and tied in Milan), but also Drogba's return to Marseille in a Chelsea shirt will be interesting, as well as Bayern Munich's visit to Roma. On a personal basis I am delighted to see Valencia back against some teams they have had previous experience with, including Manchester United and Glasgow Rangers.
Some of the smaller teams and newcomers will be looking to set their mark: Braga is in a group where they should have chances, while Zilina is set to make another mark for Slovak football this season. For Danes, seeing mighty Barcelona come to Copenhagen will be interesting - but be sure that in spite of all my FCK friends, I will be cheering for the Catalans!
Exciting days coming up!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Barcelona or Real Madrid

In the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup, Sevilla defeated Barcelona 3-1 at home, and there was hope that someone besides Real Madrid would be able to challenge the Catalan giants this season. However, in today's second leg, Sevilla were mere spectators to a spectacular Barcelona side. Xavi and Iniesta, the architects of Spain's World Cup triumph were outstanding, and with three goals Messi is probably confirming that he is quite worthless without the two generals behind him.
Barcelona will be truly exciting to watch this year, because of their style, since the Spanish League is now virtually a two-team affair: nobody but Barcelona and Real Madrid have any chance of winning it, and the only question is whether José Mourinho can do his magic in Real Madrid and make them take the title from Barca.
Real Madrid is looking interesting because of the many changes; of course José Mourinho's entrance on the team, but specially because of the many new starts that have entered the team, such as Angel di Maria, Mesut Özil and Ricardo Carvalho, and whether Mourinho can build up a team using some of the other stars such as Ronaldo, Benzemá, Higuaín, Casillas and Xabi Alonso. The quality is undoubtfully there. It will not be easy for them though if Barcelona plays like they did today, but Mourinho has been known to have a good run with the Catalans.
In any case, it will be exciting, but only for one thing: Barcelona or Real Madrid?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Forca Brøndby

I didn't watch tonight's Europa-League qualifier between Brøndby IF and Sporting Lisbon. Although I still support Brøndby (and must, these days, admit to be one of those fans who have invested some money in the club, upping the stakes), they have not given me much to be happy about over the last years, and the memories of glorious time in the UEFA cup and Champions League are not gone but just that: memories.
So I did not have much expectations when they drew Sporting Lisbon, and even less expectations from the first away match. But lo an behold! To my surprise, I followed the match on the internet, to see dear old Brøndby go ahead first 1-0 and then 2-0, and well, take a hugely important victory and step towards the Europa League group stages!
Thank you Brøndby! In spite of it all, and being so far away, they can still make me happy!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Glory, drama and... poor sportsmanship

After a 1-2 victory away Internacional from Porto Alegre had it all to take the 2010 Copa Libertadores title at home to "Chivas" Guadalajara from Mexico.
It all started quite ugly, as both teams showed poor sportsmanship and little respect during the national anthem, but it was a well-played and dramatic match amid the clear dislike between the two sides.
Guadalajara levelled the match at the end of the first half with a splendid half-bycicle kick by Marco Fabian. But into the second half the Brazilian pressure bore fruit, although with poor defending by the Mexicans: Rafael Sobis got a toe on a ball in front of the Mexican goallie to equalize, while Leandro brought the Brazilians ahead after conquering the ball in midfield. Towards the end of the match the Mexicans got more desperate, and Omar Arellano got a well-deserved red card. Soon afertwards the young Giuliano scored a beautiful goal, getting in between two defenders and putting the ball over the Mexican goalkeeper.
In the last seconds Chivas got a consolation by De Luna, but it was too late. Internacional took their second Copa Libertadores title in their history (the first being in 2006).

It ended in shameful aggression between the two team's players though, and that is truly a pity when players of two of the greatest footballing countries, playing in one of the most important competitions in the world, with the entire world looking at them, decide that they have to be remembered as thugs, instead of the great football match they gave us.
They are all idiots.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Not hungover any longer

After a long hangover from a great World Cup 2010, football is slowly creeping back into my life.
Perhaps of less importance to many, the Venezuelan league started last weekend, with favourites Caracas FC starting out with a 1-0 victory over Monagas.
Much more important, the first leg of the 2010 final of the Copa Libertadores between S.C. Internacional and Guadalajara, resulted in a 1-2 away victory for the Brazilians, who have it all in their hands to take the top title next week at home in Porto Alegre!

In the meantime many European teams are starting the fight to qualify for this season's Champions League and Europa League. Some of the European leagues are slowly starting:
The Danish league started as usual, with FC Copenhagen leading, with Brøndby and FC Herning (øhhh... Midtjylland...?) following close behind... But for how long in a league that is set to become a one-team league...?
The English Premier League will be starting next weekend with all eyes on Manchester United and Chelsea, who played in the annual FA Community Shield match last week, with the Reds winning 3-1, on one of the goals by the new Mexican Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez.

Hernandez in fact made more headlines when Mexico faced the world champions of Spain in the first friendly match since the World Cup, and scored for Mexico to almost give them the victory. But with the luck of a world champion, Spain equalized in the dying seconds of the match.
As Euro 2012 qualifiers start, many teams are looking at their post-world cup renewal, and this week's friendlies may have given some clues: a whole new French team under Laurent Blanc lost 2-1 to Norway, apparently continuing the slide down for French football. Stephen Gerrard saved England by scoring both goals in their 2-1 victory over Hungary, while Italy lost again, this time 1-0 to the Ivory Coast, further underlining the crisis for the Azurri.
In the meantime, both Argentina and Brazil started new eras with victories over Ireland and the USA respectively, while Uruguay continued where they left with a 2-0 victory over Angola.

Hangover is over; I am ready to eat football, drink football, sleep football....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The all-time world cup table

When I had my old website I would have all statistics on the World Cup from a big Excell table that I have been updating since I learned to use Excell in the mid-1990s... I have now updated it again, below with the all-time World Cup list.
It is notable that there have been some changes at the top, something that does not happen often: The top five remains unchanged, but Spain, the world champions, overtook France to become the number six all-time nation in World Cup history, while the Netherlands moved up one spot, and little Uruguay returned to the top ten.
It is usual that the major movements happen in the lower positions: South Corea moved up again, steadily working their way up, but Japan moved up 12 spots and Australia 9, all meaning big movements for Asia.
Undefeated New Zealand, in their only second world cup ever, also moved up 12 spots.
Two smaller European nations, Greece and Slovenia, also moved up mostly due to the fact that differently from last time they participated, they actually won matches (in the case of Greece, they even scored goals...).
But the big mover came from Africa: Ghana moved up 14 spots on its second World Cup. It overtook Nigeria (on goal difference), and are now only one World Cup and five points from overtaking the highest placed African country, Cameroun.
Must be said that South Africa, in spite of being the first host ever to be eliminated in the first round, nevertheless also moved up 12 spots.
Anyway, there is a link to all the tables here.