Wednesday, April 24, 2024

An evening in Miami

I was in Florida this weekend and took advantage to go watch some football: Inter Miami against FC Nashville.

It was a strange experience in a Chase stadium, a temporary ground that is situated exactly at the spot where the Ft. Lauderdale strikers used to play. In fact, I find it a bit strange that they do not want to dwell into the history of a club that in the 1970s also had some of the world's best players in a league and club that are now defunct...

But I guess Inter Miami wants to create its own history, and there is no doubt whatsoever that Lionel Messi is central to that history. That may be correct at this time of social media and individual focus in a country where football remains largely unknown, but I think it is also risky, as the vast majority of people were not there to watch football, but to see Lionel Messi, the legend, and in a match that was not very good or well-played, Messi delivered with two goals (one a rebound after an excellent play and one on a penalty) and one assist (a studied situation in a corner kick that Sergio Busquets scored on), but otherwise didn't seem to have to make much of an effort.

In my view it is risky because when Messi is gone, one has to wonder what will be left of a full stadium full of Messi shirt, specially if the rest of the team cannot deliver on the much-sought after entertainment.

That said, I had fun, so no doubt that they delivered on that!


Inter Miami-Nashville

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Paris with Spine

After Barcelona defeated PSG in Paris last week I must admit that I thought that PSG would be out yet again against Barcelona in the Champions League.

How great it is to be wrong.

When Raphinha brought the home team ahead 1-0 after a great play by the only 16-year old Lamine Yamal, one thought that it was done. But PSG pressed on, and after half an hour Ronald Araujo received a red card in a situation that may have been controversial: Araujo brought down Bradley Barcola as he was running towards goal, and the referee assessed he was last man and sent him off.

No VAR or anything can make it clear whether it was in fact a clear red. In my personal opinion it was justified, but I also understand those who argue that it was not.

The fact was that it changed the match as Xavi took off Yamal and his team stood back as PSG did the only thing they could, which was to push forward, and five minutes before half-time Ousmane Dembele equalized against his old team in a good counter attack.

Although they were only 10 men, in my view Barcelona looked too passive against a PSG side that obviously pushed forward, but did not look awesome. In fact, when Vitinha scored a second for PSG on a good long-shot, Barcelona's defense looked passive as they should have known about the Portuguese good long-shot skill. Later, a penalty against Dembele (in my view a correct call as well) brought PSG ahead 1-3 by Mbappe, and as the match was nearing its end Barcelona appeared completely torn apart when Mbappe scored his second following an attack where only Ter Stegen looked decent.

1-4 for PSG and they are yet again in the semifinal they were last in in 2021. They do not look unbeatable but are probably slight favourites against Borussia Dortmund, who defeated Atletico Madrid 4-2 at home, and are in their first CL semifinals since 2013.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024


The German Bundesliga have new champions for the first time in 11 seasons, all of which have been won by Bayern Munchen. Bayer Leverkusen won their first title ever in style. with seven matches to go they are 16 points clear of Bayern Munchen and have in fact not lost a single match the entire season, something that could cement this incredible victory under Manager Xabi Alonso, who is already touted as one of the new great managers of the world, and may have offers from many of the clubs he played for as a player, such as Bayern Munchen, Real Madrid and Liverpool. 

That said he appears to want to stay in North Rhine-Westphalia with a club that had only been runners-up (and a memorable Champions League final in 2002). And more may be in store for Leverkusen this season, as they are on their way to the semifinals of the Europa League, after defeating West Ham 2-0, a tournament they are so far also undefeated at.

I think Leverkusen's victory is great for German football, as Bayern's dominance is broken by a team that plays good football and has managed to put together a solid side of players from all over the world, as well as many young players, but without any overshadowing superstar. Leverkusen are above all a team!

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Today Manchester City got the League

The Premier League title is a race between Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool. Until today it appeared that Liverpool and Arsenal were the most likely candidates as they remained on top, equals on points, one point ahead of City.

But that changed today.

Liverpool lost 0-1 at home to the generally unnoticed Crystal Palace. This would give a clear advantage to Arsenal who were playing at home to Aston Villa, who is fighting well to take a Champions League spot. Within the last 10 minutes Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins giving Aston Villa a 0-2 victory and a step closer to the Champions League.

In the meantime Manchester City defeated Luton 5-1, and they are now on top, and seeing how City is playing now, they must now be the favourites for the title, unless the unlikelihood that they slip.

Big disappointment for both Liverpool and Arsenal. Liverpool are looking to have a good final season for Jurgen Klopp, while Arsenal have looked like title contenders all season, only to crash at the end just like last season.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Great Champions League matches

 Expectations were fully fulfilled for the highly expected first legs of CL quarterfinals. I eagerly watched two of the matches.

The first one I watched was Real Madrid facing Manchester City, the match that for many was a prelude of the final, and a repeat of last season's semifinals.

The first 15 minutes of the match were crazy, with Bernardo Silva bringing the English side ahead after only 2 minutes in a free kick where Real Madrid appeared to have no wall or organization as Silva shot through. But only 10 minutes later Camavinga took a shot outside the area and the ball was deflected by Ruben Dias and went into goal for 1-1. Two minutes later Rodrygo caught City's forward defense and in his run towards goal the ball was also deflected and meant 2-1 for Real Madrid.

I was really enjoying the match a the Real de 14 Taqueria in San Salvador. It was played in a high tempo and both sides had great quality as it went into the break.

Second half Manchester City continued with a high pressure, and Phil Foden equalized for City on a marvelous strike from outside the area, where one could criticize Real Madrid for giving Foden too much space. 

It was another spectacular strike that brought City ahead 2-3 as it continued its pressure on Madrid: Josko Gvardiol scored from outside the area.

Naturally, Manchester City relaxed the pressure a bit as Madrid pushed forward, and another wonderful strike by Federico Valverde, who first-timed a pass from Vini at the edge of the area, made it 3-3, and the end result of a fantastic match. 

Last season they tied 1-1 as well in Madrid, for Manchester City to demolish Real Madrid in Manchester.
We will see how it goes this time.

The other match I watched today as Paris Saint Germain hosted a Barcelona side that has before been a stumbling block for the ambitious French side.

It appears that Barcelona will again be the end for the Parisians, as they won 2-3 in Paris in a match that nevertheless also flowed with crazy attacks.

Raphinha brought the Catalans ahead 1-0 in the first half, which was also the score at half time. PSG came out to attack in the second half and were ahead 2-1 withing five minutes on a fantastic strike by the ex-Barcelona player Ousmane Dembele, and then Vitor Ferreira following an elegant attack by PSG.

Donnaruma did not have a good day in goal, and gave the ball away for Barcelona's equalizer, although Pedri's pass to Raphinha was spectacular, and the Brazilian made it 2-2. 

It was not over, and PSG missed some big chances as Barcelona scored its winner from an unlikely Andreas Christensen, who headed the ball in from close quarters following a corner kick, in a situation where neither PSG defense or goalkeeper looked strong.

Barcelona now has one foot in the semifinals, as I have a hard time seeing PSG threatening them in Catalonia.

In the other quarterfinals Arsenal and Bayern Munich tied 2-2 in London, while Atletico Madrid defeated Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in Spain.

It will be some incredible matches next week!

This is why we watch football!

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Brøndby Nummer 1

I watched the top match in the Danish League between FC Copenhagen and Brøndby on my little Mobile phone, in my office, at 6 AM as the gorgeous sun was rising over San Salvador. Of course I was a bit multitasking, but managed to be disappointed when Peter Ankersen brought FC Copenhagen ahead at the end of the first half, when I thought that Brøndby had otherwise played well, holding possession, but unfortunately without creating the necessary chances.

At the same time the best fans in Denmark were making a lot of noise in Copenhagen!

Second half started with FC Copenhagen holding the ball more, and even creating some chances, and I started to begin to think it may not work when I happily shouted goal, as Mathias Kvitgaarden made a great counter run towards goal, cut off a defender and placed the ball in the far corner. A great goal! And 1-1 would be a good result for Brondby to keep first position before FC Midtjylland was to play.

But last seconds of the match: a high pass into the area by Jacob Rasmussen towards Sean Klaiber, who perfectly first-timed the ball into goal and a fantastic 1-2 victory for Brøndby in Copenhagen!

The victory put Brøndby 5 points clear of FCK on top spot, and as FC Midtjylland lost to FC Nordsjaelland, they are 2 points clear as well.

Still long way to go, but if Brøndby is to win the league, this could be a hugely important victory, and I happily shouted at Klaiber’s goal and colleagues told me to be quiet, but I don’t care!