Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Wet dynamite

We are entering a period of vacation, and there is not much quality football after the Champions League final. National teams have been playing qualifiers and friendlies, where Spain's victory in the European Nations League after penalty kicks against Croatia is perhaps the most interesting thing that has happened (personally, I missed the match, having even forgotten it was being played).

Last night I watched one of the qualifiers, that between Slovenia and Denmark. Denmark has been struggling since their poor show at the World Cup, and in what should have been an "easy" group of qualification for the Euros 2024 in Germany, Denmark is just on third spot, most famously having lost 3-2 to Kazakhstan in April, after being 0-2 up.

Just last week Denmark managed to defeat Northern Ireland 1-0 in an otherwise poor showing, so their qualifier last night against Slovenia in Ljublana was an opportunity to set things straight. Denmark had the ball most, but looked insecure in defense, where otherwise experienced player like Andreas Christensen, Simon Kjær, and even Kasper Schmeichel, made mistakes that could have cost goals. In the meantime, they did not create many chances in the first half, and while Rasmus Højlund managed to equalize Slovenia's lead by Andraz Sporar, Denmark were not looking secure.

There was clear improvement in the second half, but it appeared more because Slovenia pulled back, but Denmark did not manage to score a winner, and 1-1 was overall an acceptable result.

Despite this, Denmark looks fragile. Too many mistakes and some of the youngsters not taking the lead (except perhaps Rasmus Højlund, who despite needing to grow, has come on strong with six goals in four matches) makes qualification far from guaranteed in a group currently led by Finland and Kazakhstan.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

City's legendary Champions

 Manchester City managed to do what they have been trying to for years: win the Champions League. It was was not elegant, and they played a nervous and poor match despite being full favourites against Inter Milan, who with more precision could or should have scored. In the end Rodri's precise strike in one of the few good moments created by City gave them the victory.

A pity for the Italians, but seen overall, City are the best team in the world right now, particularly proven by their performances against Bayern Munich and Real Madrid earlier in the tournament. Guardiola was given time to forge a strong side of complete players, even though results were absent in the first years, and that is a lot of credit to the club's owners, who now see their team sweep aside all opposition, and become the first team to win the treble since Manchester United in 1999.

So truly a historical victory for a team that will go into history, and congratulations to its fans.

Friday, June 09, 2023


After his spell in PSG and recent announcement that he would leave, Leo Messi is now starting a new chapter in the MLS side Inter Miami. It is obvious that he had other offers, including from FC Barcelona, and millionaire sums from Saudi Arabia. However, Miami appears to be the obvious choice: the city is basically an extension of Latin America where his family can probably settle well, while the football club owned by David Beckham has ambitions in the MLS.

Inter Miami has not fulfilled its ambitions, and have been doing poorly lately. Only one week before the announcement of Messi arrival, the manager Phil Neville was sacked, and an Argentina Javi Morales (with a long career in MLS), was appointed manager. It would appear that with the arrival of Messi a new chapter is to be written into the Miami club's history.

Messi is already a legend, and signing such a legend is sure to bring money and attention to Inter Miami (apparently all season tickets were swiftly sold out), but it will be seen what impact Messi can have on a club that has struggled. Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see.