Saturday, December 21, 2013

Bayern Munich world champions

It was probably one of the most unsurprising results ever when Bayern Munich today took the official title of world club champions after defeating Raja Casablanca 0-2 in Marrakesh tonight. Bayern Munich were in complete control in the first half, and although the Moroccans fought bravely and had some good chances, the end result was never really in doubt. Bayern Munich end the year knowing they won every tournament they played in; undisputed world champions.
As always the world club championship remains difficult to get excited about although Morocco were great hosts of the tournament, and with Raja Casablanca creating a sensation when they eliminated the Brazilian favourites of Atletico Mineiro to make it to the final. Huge disappointment for the Brazilians, where Corinthians took the title last year.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The revived Liverpool

Liverpool has not won an English championship since 1990, and has for some years been in the shadow of other English clubs such as Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal. Even though they still have a record of 18 titles, they are hungering for renewed success in the English league. In 2012 Brendan Rogers became manager, and in his first season Liverpool ended 7th, not even qualifying for the Champions League. At the same time there were stories of their record signing, the ever-controversial Luis Suarez, wanted to leave, so expectations high but not exuberant as the new season started. But Liverpool has indeed been on fire, and today they impressed everyone when the destroyed another ambitious team, Tottenham, 0-5 in London. The Liverpool team played brilliantly, even without Stephen Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge. Luis Suarez cemented his position as the most scoring player in the Premier League with two beautiful goals; he is as controversial as ever, but his footballing quality is unquestionable. At the same time young players Jon Flanagan and Raheem Sterling also scored, showing that Liverpool already has outstanding young players for the future. If they can play like this every week, Liverpool is a very serious title contender in what is becoming one of the most exciting Premier League seasons ever, with brilliant teams facing one another every week!
One word about Tottenham would be that Andre Villas Boas is surely not performing as a coach, and I believe he is unlikely to stay there much longer.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tears for Naples

12 Points are usually enough to make it to the second round of the Champions League but it was not enough for Napoli, who will have to console themselves with the Europa League after defeating the leading English side, Arsenal, 2-0 in their last round match. It did seem at one point that both teams were through as news were coming in that Marseille and Borussia Dortmund were 1-1, which put the Germans out. But a last minute goal put Dormund in front and meant Napoli had to win 3-0 to go through. Although 3-0 over Arsenal sounds difficult, it is disappointing that the Napoli side, when up 1-0 and hearing the score in Marseille stopped attacking. Their second goal came when it was too late to go for a third, but who knows if they could have made it eariler....?
Dortmund ended up winning the group by the late goal, with Arsenal second.
It is a pity Napoli is out, but this was indeed the group of death with three teams that all deserved to be in the next round.

Friday, December 06, 2013

The 2014 World Cup draw

On a day where the passing away of the greatest man of our century was announced (and indeed, Nelson Mandela was also a keen football fan), I must admit that it was rather halfheartedly that I watched the World Cup draw.
The groups look as follows:

Group A: Brazil, Cameroun, Mexico, Croatia
A fine draw for the hosts, in a group where all three remaining sides will be fighting for second place

Group B: Spain, Chile, Netherland, Australia
A thrilling group with a repeat of the 2010 World Cup final, and a Chilean side that, if anything, is better than four years ago.

Group C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan
Some very interesting sides in a group where the favourites seem to be Colombia and Ivory Coast, but where Japan could be an outsider. Greece Perhaps, but unlikely.

Group D: Uruguay, England, Italy, Costa Rica
Another thrilling group with three former World Champions and then a Costa Rican side that without pressure could surprise.

Group E: Switzerland, Ecuador, Honduras, France
It may look to some France is favourite, but I would put my money on Ecuador. That said, Switzerland is also a team that can cause havoc against anyone. Didn't they defeat Spain four years ago?

Group F: Argentina, Iran, Nigeria, Bosnia-Hercegovina
It seems to be a fine draw for Argentina, who have nevertheless had some epic clashes against the African champions of Nigeria. Iran and Bosnia are rather unwritten, but not sure they could threaten Argentina and Nigeria.

Group G: Germany, Ghana, Portugal, USA
This is perhaps the most difficult group with four very strong sides. USA is perhaps the biggest underdog, but that is also where the North Americans are most comfortable.

Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Corea
Belgium are the team to watch, and seem to have had a doable draw. South Corea is always dangerous and Russia can do well on a good day. However, nobody in this group will be world champions!