Arsenal have taken Ghana World Cup star Shilla Illiasu on trial. The defender impressed in his debut in the World Cup in all four games. He goes to Arsenal for 500,000 pounds from Asante Kotoko and will have a chance to impress Arsene Wenger that he is capable of playing at the Premiership level.
July 2006 Archives
SOUTH AFRICA has given world soccer body Fifa 17 guarantees as part of the contract to host the 2010 World Cup. These are:
•Home Affairs: Three guarantees saying no one will be denied a visa on the basis of race, nationality or religion; work permits will not be required for World Cup staff, and media and special port entry facilities will be set up for 2010 visitors.
•Finance:Three technical guarantees relating to customs duties and levies, other taxes and bank and foreign exchange operations.
•Safety and Security: A detailed, written security plan will be prepared to ensure the safety and security of Fifa delegations, media and accredited officials in the country.
•Communications: Four technical guarantees covering minimum information technology resources, an international broadcasting centre, a media centre and Fifa's ownership of all media and marketing rights.
•Transport: Minimum standards of transport comfort and efficiency around stadiums and other venues.
•Environment and Tourism: A 2010 pricing policy will protect visitors against exploitation.
•Trade and Industry: Detailed commitments guaranteeing Fifa's marketing rights and the rights of official sponsors, including protection against ambush marketing by rival brands.
•Justice: A limited indemnity for officials.
•Foreign Affairs: No country will be excluded from participation and all will be able to play their national anthems and fly their national flags.
•Health: The health infrastructure will be "significantly upgraded", emergency and disaster facilities will be at the disposal of Fifa, and teams and delegations will be free to bring their own doctors.
The news keeps getting bad to worse for Ledley King. Out of the England squad with a metatarsal fracture before the World Cup and because his name is not Wayne Rooney, the amount of medical attention that was devoted to him was quite pathetic compared to the state of the art care that Rooney got. He is now out again undergoing a knee surgery because of an injury that he sustained during training.
Martin Jol put a brave face on this by saying, "We must get on with it but it is a blow. He is one of our best players and one of the best defenders in England.
"I think we will solve the problem from within the ranks."
Parreira became South African soccer's 14th coach in that many years since they resumed playing in 1992. He has been given the responsibility of building the team for the 2010 World Cup. Of late, they have slipped in the international and African stage. The last time they won anything of note was in 1996 winning the Africa Cup of Nations. They also qualified for the 1998 and 2002 World Cup but made first rounde xits.
Meanwhile the German architecture firm of gmp (Gerkan Marg Partners) has been awarded the design of three of South Africa's soccer stadiums for World Cup 2010. The German firm was also involved in this year's World Cup designing the stadiums at Berlin, Cologne, and Frankfurt.
Arsenal, Tottenham, and Liverpool have consolidated their clubs and there does not seem to be much interest in getting any new players, although Dirk Kuyt is still in talks with Liverpool. The Ashley Cole saga will probably end him going to Chelsea. This leaves Arsenal still unsure of who to put in left back but Cole was injured for a good part of the last season but Arsenal did a fair job rotating the spot. Mathieu Flamini will probably take the spot with Clichy and Lauren expected to return to match fitness by October. Michael Carrick is on his way to Man U from Tottenham but I don't think he will be missed much.
This leaves Man U, which seems to be the most unsettled club right now. This season, anyone and everyone has been linked to a move to Man U. Patrick Viera, Carlos Tevez, David Trezeguet, Zlatan Ibrahamovic. The only two players that Man U has going for them is Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand. The others are barely adequate, Darren Fletcher and Kieran Richardson. Ferguson is expecting much out of a revamped line of Alan Smith, Paul Scholes, Gabriel Heinze, and Solskjaer, like a man who believes that if he keeps repeating the mantra it becomes reality.
The Guardian surmises that Ferguson has lost touch with his players and really does not know them at all. In part because they seem to be 'merks' who are more interested in smelling good rather than revel in their sweat stained jerseys and boozy breaths. He is living in the Man U testesterone filled glory days of players like Cantona, Hughes, Ince, Keane, Pallister, Robson, Schmeichel, and Pallister. All men's men. The current lot of Ferdinand, Brown, Richardson, are pallid in comparison.
Whatever it is, it seems that Man U at the present moment looks like it would probably fade to fifth in the present EPL season.
My picks: Arsenal wins it all, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Tottenham take the next three spots.
Mohamed Zidan is a striker for Werder Bremen now playing for FSV Mainz. He is one of the most exciting talents to come out of Africa but he has an ongoing dispute with the Egyptian coach Hassan Shahata that might not see him play for the Egyptian team. He might take up German nationality if offered.
Reggie Rockstone, the singer who originated Ghanian hip hop also called hiplife was so moved by the performance of the Black Stars that he and London based Ghanian musician Yaw Mensa produced Ayekoo, a song celebrating the Black Stars. Ayekoo is a Ghanian salutation in Twi, and depending on the context could mean "Well done,Congratulations, Thank You, or Welcome."
Ayekoo is a jamboree of Twi, Pidgin, and English. I would have loved to have the video clip but the song has just been released and the CDs are only available to a handful of radio stations. Reggie Rockstone's was part of PLZ (Parables, Linguistics, and Zlang) before he embarked solo. He writes politically conscious songs like Mensesa (I won't change), a Pan African paean.
Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first president and Rev. Martin Luther King
No story on football in Africa can be complete without the mention of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of independent Ghana, and the first African country to achieve its independence from Britain in 1957. Dr Nkrumah was Africa's first Pan- Africanist, a close associate of Marcus Garvey, and a firm believer in sports as a source of self-empowerment and identity of a unified country of Africa. He was one of the founders of the CAF (The Confederation of African Football), the organization responsible for holding the Africa Cup of Nations.
When Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of independent Ghana donated 250 guineas, to the Osagyefo Cup to launch the African Clubs Championship in 1964, he charged the Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF) thus: “Africa can ill-afford to lag behind in any sphere of life. I therefore charge you to organize Africa’s version of the European Cup for club championship with this trophy.
“With efficient organization, I am certain this competition will add to the soccer maturity of Africa and help propel our dear continent into the lime-light….I hope that this competition will help bring African soccer into maturity and earn for our dear continent a greater respectability and recognition at the universal level.”
Responding, General Mustapha, then President of CAF said: “I have every hope that the new mustard seed will blossom into a powerful instrument of soccer maturity with which our continent will seek and gain better recognition at FIFA level. The African Football Confederation shall not fail him and the continent.”
The Black Stars are named after the black lodestar in the Ghanian flag, which incorporates the pan-African colors of the Ethiopian flag, the red, gold, and the green stripes. The Black Star is an acknowledgement to the Black Star Shipping line that was started by Marcus Garvey in 1919, at first to encourage trade between the USA and the African continent, and then to finally return African Americans to their homeland. However, corruption and infiltration by J Edgar Hoover's spies in the Bureau of Investigation forced it to close down.
In 1958, Dr Nkrumah appointed Ohene Djan, Ghana's football impresario, and now widely considered as one Africa's most influential sports administrator and responsible for singlehandedly putting African football on the map. Ohene Djan enjoyed Dr Nkrumah's total confidence. His first priority was building a strong national team, the Black Stars, that would not just impress with its level of play but would correct Europeans prejudices and contribute to the emancipation of Africa.
Ohene Djan launched the national league in Kumasi in 1958 and his first act to improve the national team was to take the best two players from each league team and form a team called the Real Republikans (a name inspired by Alfredo Di Stefano's Real Madrid, the best football team in those days). The Real Republikans played against the other teams like the Accra Heart of Oaks and Asante Kotoko in league matches on a non-scoring basis. Of course, the other teams were none too pleased with this arrangement but the theme of African nationalism was a pervasive one and they accepted it. The Black Stars had almost all Real Republikan players. In fact, 10 of them were from the Republikan club and the rest of them were from other clubs. This powerful team beat Ethiopia in the first African Cup, 3-0 in 1963 and it was to repeat its success in 1965 beating Tunisia 1-0. After Dr Nkrumah's was ousted in a coup the Black Stars went into decline till the late 1970's. They again won the Africa Cup in 1978 and then 1982.
In the 1990's thanks to the quick thinking and perceptive Ohene Djan who was a strong believer that commensurate with having a formidable national team, was to develop youth talent in football. With Ohene Djan's impetus the youth squads were able to keep up the impressive pace of development in Ghanian football. Ghana's Black Satellites entered the finals of the FIFA Youth championships in 1993 in which they impressed everone with their lightning quick changes of pace and the semi-finals in 1997 and again made the 2001 finals. This team formed the nucleus of the World Cup squad with players of the caliber of Michael Essien, Derek Boateng, Sulley Muntari, John Pantsil, Emmanuel Pappoe, who played wonderful soccer to reach the second round of this year's World Cup.
However unlike the youth squads the Black Stars themselves underachieved throughout the 1990s and the early 2000's even though they had such talents like Abedi Pele (ex-Olympics Marseille) and Tony Yeboah (ex- Leeds United). Many observers of Ghanian soccer believe it was the personal animosity, infighting, and lack of cohesion between these two men that led to the Black Stars lack of success in the international scene. Both Tony Yeboah and Abedi Pele, were brilliant players but came from two different tribes, Yeboah from the Ashanti and Abedi Pele from the Dagaaba, and in the complex and internecine tribal politics present in Ghana, they felt that they were the true representative of the national team. The failure of this team was antithetical to Dr Nkrumah's vision of a unified Africa but they also reflect the reasons why African teams chronically underperform. The Black Stars failed to qualify fo the 1994, 1998, and 2002 World Cup even as Abedi Pele was named as one of Pele's 125 greatest living players.
Tribal affiliations are so deeply entrenched that even the distinguished Ohene Djan could not escape it. There were some who vehemently opposed renaming the stadium in Accra as the Ohene Djan Stadium because of a prior conviction in the early 50's and because the Ga tribe that controlled the Accra lands were not consulted by the Ghana government before they decided to honor Ohene Djan. In turn they proposed the names of indigneous Ga-Dangme sporting heroes.
The problems of qualifying for the 2006 World Cup again became very evident when Samuel Kuffour, the most capped player of the Ghanian team, and a Serie defender for AS Roma, decided that his needs were more important than that of national side. Once again Ghanians were plunged into a familiar sense of despair and self doubt One of the most important steps that Ratomir Dujkovic, the new coach carried out with the backing of the Ghana Football Association was to give an ultimatum to Kuffour, that if he continued his self serving behavior he could stay in Rome. The strong armed tactic worked but Dujkovic was confident that if the Black Stars would qualify, if they trained, played, and thought as a team. On October 8, 2005, in their last World Cup qualifying match, Ghana beat the Cape Verde Islands, 4-0, finishing at the top of their group and booking a passage to their first ever World Cup.
Ghana amongst all other West African nations has one of the finest grasroots infrastructure and commitment to the game. They were the first African country to professionalize their leagues and football players earned a good living through the sport. The Ghana FA in its early years had put into place a rigorous scouting system during football season that spotted talent in league matches and called them up for camps to make their final selection for the national team. These developments took place at the personal behest of Dr Nkrumah and ensured Ghana's pre-eminent stature in African football. With the 2010 World Cup, Dr Nkrumah's vision of a unified Africa is a step closer to being realized.
Barry Bonds, Floyd Landis, and now Justin Gatlin. When does fact end and when does fiction begin? I am sure even without performance enhancing substances, they would have been great athletes and would have won it all. Gatlin the 100 meters at Athens, Bonds the Babe Ruth record, and Landis, the Tour De France. But they chose to throw it away. Because however much you might want to cut it; call them sporting legends, a country's icon, a savior to the masses, the fact is that these athletes are mortals, given to self doubt, insecurity, and bravado.
Sports has become a travesty. Look at how many times both Asafa Powell and Justin Gatlin were to meet face to face to decide the title of the fastest human being but backed away citing some half baked excuse. No one wants to give up the right to the fastest human being, even though by taking these substances, they have lost even before the starting gun goes off. When the world settles down in its euphoria at their win and discovers that there was an element of fraud in it, the myth of the sporting hero, mind over matter, conquering a wilful and imperfect physical plant that is our body, into a cohesive unit of perfection, crumbles. It is not enough that Barry Bonds hits the ball for a home run into the stands, he has to hit it out of Candlestick Park, into the bay, where boats await his home runs and people dive in to retrieve the balls. We all have to be a part of that legend and we want more.
Nobody wants to compete against each other, it is the sports management teams of each athlete that decides that. You can engage in a war of words, like Gatlin and Powell, as to the better athlete, but till the agents in each camp decide when they actually meet up, it remains bluster. Because till then the weather in London and Crystal Palace is too humid, too dry, and too windy. You see, it is not winning that is everything, it is not losing. Is it just me or does one feel that athletes actually met up more times when there were far less competitions, less sponsorships, and it was more difficult to travel? In my estimation Justin Gatlin and Asafa Powell should have met up at least a half dozen times and we should have seen the start of a gripping rivalry that would have done wonders for athletics. But such is the state of affairs, that you lose once, your self worth goes down, self doubt creeps in; the corporate sponsors and the sports management company start whispering campaigns, and before long, you are rubbing flaxseed oil on your knees. Then when you get caught these very entities are out your front door. Such is the price paid for losing. Nobody believes in the law of averages anymore.
We all know without Gatorade you will never be able to finish the Tour de France but is that all you want to do? The metrics of sports has moved so much that it is no longer to break racial prejudices, to go below the 4 minute mark in the mile, or to promote calcium in your bones. That is all left to movies like Chariots of Fire. Paul Simon's verse," And where have you gone, Joe Di Maggio, A nation turns its lonely eyes at you" seems to be all the more relevant now.
Suddenly the art of diving in soccer does not seem all that bad now. Eh? And Zidane's loss of composure should be measured in the context of this universal loss of composure seen in sports nowadays.
Great tackles, great goals. All round the best left back. But lets not forget he is not Arsenal and this is the reason he wants to leave for Chelski.
One of the 12 founding members of the Football League and a dominant force in its early days, eight of Villa's 14 domestic honors came in the 1890s. A brief flourish of glory at the start of the 1980s brought a first European trophy and its most recent league title, but the Villans are now mired midtable.
Forbes estimates Villa's worth at $120 million back in MArch, 2006. But the more recent valuation seems to be closer to about $105 million.
1-Yr Value Chg. -49%
Revenue $94 mil
Op. Income3 $10.8 mil
Villa's principle shareholders are Douglas Ellis with about 34% and the Trefick Group headed by Jack Petchey, 20.1%.
Update: The Guardian believes that Aston Villa at 57 million pounds (Neville's bid) or even the 64 million Lerner bid is overvalued for a club that it estimates is closer to 50 million pounds. This is due to the sale of the Serpentine Car Park to Birmingham City Sports Limited for 7.31 million pounds. Aston Villa's finances are said to be extremely volatile and putting an exact value is quite difficult.
Randy Lerner's bid to buy Aston Villa seemed to be slim to none a few days ago. Apparently, Douglas Ellis, the major shareholder in Villa has been dragging his feet and angered Lerner with his indecision. Now, there is renewed interest in Lerner to bid again as thousands of Aston Villa fans have been asking Doug Ellis to step down and let new owners put life into a club that has been middling along in the EPL for a long time.
Lerner has apparently lined up Klinsmann as Aston Villa's new coach. Klinsmann's credentials are impeccable but he may not be upto coaching so soon having complained of feeling burned out and a desire to do nothing for the next six months. The EPL is one of the most gruelling leagues, with the season going on for 9 months and no winter break unlike the Bundesliga.
Personally I feel that Michael Neville a longtime Aston Villa fan and one who has tapped Martin O'Neill as his coach for Villa should be the clear favorite to takeover Villa. Neville says"Our focus is on building a football club and making Aston Villa great again with the supporters' help. I believe I have backers. This is an exciting prospect, the result of a year's work for me." The Solihull businessman has been keen to make the point his knowledge of the club and its culture "has a value beyond pounds sterling and dollars". Point well taken.
There are however two points that make the Randy Learner bid more attractive. He brings his own money to cash strapped Aston Villa unlike Malcolm Glazer's huge debt incurring buyout of Manchester United. The other is that with Lerner at the helm, there will be no place for Douglas Ellis, Villa's unpopular chairman. This is favored by most Villa fans who want a clean break. Neville's bid on the other hand includes Ellis on the board, as lifelong president.
Update: Klinsmann probably saw his name being bandied around in the media as the coach for Aston Villa and shot it down. Now Martin O'Neill is Lerner's preferred coach.
Lamar Hunt, Columbus Crew owner(L), Philip Anschutz, DC United owner ( R)
Much has been written about US billionaires looking overseas for investments in soccer clubs. Across the pond, English League clubs are being eagerly sought after. Randy Lerner, the chairman of MBNA and owner of the Cleveland Browns was recently in the news with his offer to buy out financially troubled EPL team Aston Villa. And of course, we have Malcolm Glazer, the real estate merchant and owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who owns Manchester United and is the source of much angst amongst Mancs.
However, closer to home, the efforts to keep the domestic league, the MLS afloat since the league began 1996, is entirely the story of two soccer mad billionaires, Lamar Hunt, the oilman and owner of the Kansas City Chiefs and Philip Anschutz, the chairman of the Anschutz group, an oil and technology entrepreneur. These two have pumped more than $100 million of their own money to keep the MLS going.
Their efforts have paid off and now MLS is being flooded by more than a billion dollars in investments in new stadium construction, sponsorships, and new franchises. The Red Bulls are building a 25, 000 soccer only stadium, at Harrison, NJ. Seven other new MLS stadiums are being built, including the Home Depot Center, Pizza Hut Park in Dallas and the $100 million, publicly funded Bridgeview Stadium near Chicago, that are purpose-built for MLS teams. A new franchise in Toronto is in the works. By 2010, the MLS believes that there will be 16 teams up from the present 12. Adidas kicked in $150 million to become the league's sole uniform supplier, in part to hold off Nike. MLS is close to a new television-rights deal with ABC/ESPN, one in which it will actually get money for its games, instead of having to buy the time from the networks and hope to sell it.
Lamar Hunt owns the Kansas City Wizards, Columbus Crew, and he recently bought Dallas FC. He was also one of the founders of the old North American Soccer League (NASL), and owned the Dallas Tornado. The Tornados won the NASL title in 1971. Philip Anschutz is the owner of the LA Galaxy, Houston Dynamos, Chicago Fire, and the the league leading DC United. Between the two of them, they own seven out of the 12 teams. Recently, the Anshutz Entertainment Group sold the NY Metrostars (now called the Red Bull NY) to the Red Bull group for more than $100 million. The Anschutz group also owns Swedish soccer club Hammarby. Ironically, Hammarby is often regarded as, in a historical sense, being the 'team of the workers' of the poorer southern parts of early 20th century Stockholm.
But the beginnings of the new MLS league were fraught with uncertainties of the future of soccer in the US. Bob Cohn in 1999, questioned Lamar Hunt's wisdom in buying the Columbus Crew and the Kansas City Rapids. MLS games were averaging less than 15,000 fans per game. ABC, ESPN, and Univision paid just $5 million to telecast MLS games, a pittance in the tens of billions sports media market. However, Lamar Hunt was famous for taking risks, like he did when he started American Football League, a little known football league nearly 50 years ago. It changed the face of American football when it merged with the National Football League. Nowadays football franchises are worth almost a billion dollars.
Hunt invested $28 million on constructing a state of the art soccer stadium, the first of its kind, in the US. It is a 22, 500 seater, much more fan friendly than the huge 75,000 football stadiums that soccer is usually played in. It also had a million dollar jumbo scoreboard, a "Wreck Room" for kids, a 8000 sq foot video arcade, and a plaza for local bands. At that time Hunt said, " Soccer has succeeded. What we've got to do now is make sure a professional league succeeds.... One stadium is not going to make a sport. But I think the result we will produce will have an impact."
Lamar Hunt's service to developing the sport of soccer in the US was acknowledged in 1999 when , the US Open Club competition, the oldest and most prestigious soccer competition in US soccer was renamed the Lamar Hunt US Open Club competition. The Lamar Hunt US Open competition is much like the British FA Cup, in that it is open to all clubs registered with the USSF, from amateur adult club teams to the professional MLS teams.
US Soccer is indebted to these two soccer mad businessmen and keen sports enthusiasts.
Carlos Tevez is unhappy playing for the Corinthians, the Brazilian club and is looking for a way out. Corinthians are in last place in the league and they suffered their seventh loss in a row. The fans are taking their ire out on Tevez and last Saturday surrounded his car with his wife and daughter inside.
“That’s when I thought that I could leave Corinthians, and it’s going to be difficult to stay here,” he continued. “(My family) are really scared and these sort of things aren’t easy to just forget.”
“I want to stay, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve also got a responsibility to listen to my family.”
Man U is reportedly ready to make an offer to Tevez and fellow Argie Javier Mascherano. Details are not known.
Meanwhile Ashley Cole is still sitting pretty at Arsenal because Chelksi has not been able to match Arsenal's asking rate of £25m. I really cannot see Cole sitting too long in Arsenal even though Wenger has been pretty tightlipped about the whole deal going back and forth about contact been made by Arsenal to sell Cole to the Blues.
The record money that Chelsea offers a club can buy its players but it does not buy that player minutes off the bench. This is what Andriy Shevchenko and Michael Ballack will face in a few years, as some other big star rolls out from another of Chelsea's production line.
An essential corollary:
A players worth is inversely proportional to the time spent benchwarming.
Crespo did not report for training to Stamford Bridge and he missed his flight for Chelsea's tour to the US. Reportedly, Crespo is desperate to return to the Serie after his AC Milan loan spell. Crespo has made no secret of his desire to return to Italy and has successfully pursued similar tactics in the past, missing a breakfast meeting on Mourinho’s first day in charge two years ago and being loaned to AC Milan within a matter of days. Inter Milan are his most likely destination this time, with Mourinho making it clear that the Argentinian does not feature in his plans, although securing a transfer fee could prove more of a problem.
“I have enough forwards, so Hernán stays behind,” Mourinho said. “If the club receives the right offer for him then they will consider it, but if not he will return for training when we get back.”
Wayne Bridge is getting unsettled by the rumours of Ashley Cole joining up Chelsea and is now trying to seek a way out. Newcastle United might be his calling card. Shaun Wright Phillips is another player that Newcastle is seeking after Michael Owen's rather horrible end in the World Cup. Owen is now an injury liability, and Wright Phillips will be a wlecome addition. Jose Mourinho seems to be considering the Newcastle offer.
U.S. National Team forward and three-time World Cup veteran Brian McBride announced his retirement from international soccer. The decision brings to an end a 13-year international career that produced 30 goals through 95 matches, leaving McBride as the second all-time leading scorer in team history.
The only player in U.S. history to score in multiple World Cups (1998, 2002), McBride is also the USA’s all-time leader in World Cup qualifying goals (10). The three-time World Cup veteran (1998, 2002, 2006) has the second-most appearances for the USA in World Cup matches (10), starting all five games in the 2002 FIFA World Cup and netting the game-winners against Portugal and Mexico. He also netted the USA’s lone goal in France ’98.
"It was an honor to have a player like Brian McBride at the core of the national team during my tenure," said former U.S. Manager Bruce Arena. "With his goal scoring, ability in the air and intelligence on both sides of the ball, he is truly a player with qualities unlike any other player to wear the national team uniform. I always admired both his commitment and his leadership, and have nothing but the greatest respect for him as a player and a person. I would like to personally thank him for everything he has done for our national team program, and wish him and his family the best of luck for the future."
McBride will continue playing at Craven Cottage. He has scored 19 goals in 54 league appearances for Fulham.
Busy, busy day in the EPL. Ruud finally finds a home at Real and the Spurs let go of Michael Carrick as he heads to the Red Devils. Sir Alex finally lands a big one. Carrick's transfer is set to be confirmed by the middle of next week after United agreed to pay around £15m for the midfielder.
Ruud played for Man U from 2001 to 2006 and appeared in 219 games scoring a phenomenal 150 goals, third in the all time Man U list. He had a sensational first year scoring 23 goals in 32 games.
RVN's EPL highlights
* Set a Premier League record in January 2002 by scoring in eight successive games, equalling United's club record for goals in consecutive league matches set by Billy Whelan nearly five decades previously. In March 2002, he became the first United player since Brian McClair in 1988 to top 20 league goals and 30 in all competitions in one season
* Premier League's leading scorer with 25 goals and 44 in all competitions when United won the championship in 2003, he has scored 20 or more in four of his five seasons at Old Trafford. Signed a new contract with United in January 2004 to keep him at the club until 2008
* United's leading scorer in Europe, having overtaken Denis Law's long-standing club record of 30 goals in September 2004, he is fourth in the all-time list in the European Cup with 47
Ruud's last season was not his best squabbling over playing time with Fergie and then having a very public falling out with Cristiano Ronaldo.
So the big news is that the Dutch have prosecuted Guus for tax fraud. He claimed that he was living in Belgium where the rates are lower. The question is when did he take up residence there. A simple case for the detective Hercule Poirot to solve but not when a coach like Guus Hiddink is in question. Guus has been to so many places that he probably does not remember. Maybe us Socceroos can pay the tax money he owes since he refused any farewell celebrations. The Australian dollar remains fully convertible unlike the russian ruble.
Meanwhile Lucas Neill has surfaced after that very long sliding tackle that ate up a lot of diplomatic turf between Italy and Australia and is now taking an active interest in who is coaching who. Neill did not mention the name Fabio Grosso but he singled out Ron Smith as one of Australia's best new coaches, who will see a new season with the Perth Glory. Hopefully Neill's judgement on this one is better than his World Cup ones.
The Matildas have made it to the Women's World Cup beating Japan. They hope to shock the USA and the Germans and go two up better than the Socceroos.
After all that back and forth, Van Nistelrooy is finally on his way to the Bernabeu. Real is reported to have paid 15 million euros ($25 million) to Man U for him >>
This is the third big signing for Real's new manager Fabio Capello since resigning from Juventus this summer. Fabio Cannavaro and Emerson have already joined.
Ferguson will surely now move for a top-class forward if possible, with Juventus's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Trezeguet possible targets as well as Tottenham's Jermain Defoe.
Van Nistelrooy's arrival at the Bernabeu could also signal the departure of Brazil striker Ronaldo, who has been linked with a swap deal for Inter Milan's Adriano.
Benni McCarthy to Blackburn
Benni McCarthy is leaving FC Porto to join Blackburn Rovers. The English club would pay 2.5 million euros (3.2 million US dollars) for the player, who was an instrumental part of FC Porto's 2004 Champions League winning side. McCarthy is a great striker of the ball and will most likely to be on the SA squad for the 2010 World Cup.
Quinton Fortune is going to play for Bolton this season. The oft injured former Man U midfielder has been signed on by Sam Allardyce. Fortune was a highly praised and solid presence in midfield through the Roy Keane years at Man U
Delron Buckley gets an Everton trial. Buckley was released by Borussia Dortmund.
I don't think the Middle East has any organized tournament on any sport that I know of. A tournament that could include countries like Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Egypt, Cyprus,Turkey, and the Palestine Authority. The game would of course be soccer because a lot of these countries are actually good in it and their fans are passionate about the game. The sporting forums like the Olympics and the World Cup are too far and too few in between for these countries to come in regular contact with each other and usually these matches are so hyped up because of that one chance meeting. And yes, I have faith that Palestine will finally be a country, with contiguous borders and not a swath of bantustans.
We could have other countries join the Middle East soccer tourney, like the USA, England, France, Russia, and Australia which have large numbers of citizens of the Jewish diaspora and Middle Eastern descent. This will also give us the alternative of having a venue outside of the Middle East, which might be needed for security reasons and to build trust initially. The Middle East tourney could be held every two years, like the Africa Cup of Nations.
I know that a number of skeptics will look at the list of countries and roll up their eyes and say a mere soccer tournament will not bring all these countries together. In the Middle East it is most practical to have limited goals. Participation is voluntary. If Iran and Israel do not want to participate, that is alright, but they have been invited, and there is more a chance of their soccer teams meeting on the field then there is a chance in a million of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and Ehud Olmert meeting up at this point. Iran did meet the Great Satan in the World Cup, in 1998, and it was considered a success in terms of soccer diplomacy as the players came out to play and not engage in fisticuffs.
Michael Ledeen, William Kristol, anyone of those "lets bomb Tehran" warhawks out there to give credence to this proposal? No. I thought not. It is just a mushy lefty pipedream.
“Nobody Knows Anything”
His most recent work as a pundit on BBC has been met with praise from supporters and journalists alike. He has ended the tournament with even more respect that he went into it with. Responsible for perhaps the quote of the tournament with “Nobody Knows Anything”, said after the 3rd place playoff, he has had many England fans wishing the FA had offered him the job. Having correctly guessed France as one of the teams of the tournament, he put Alan Hansen to shame who had 3 picks (Argentina Brazil and England), all of whom did not make the Semifinals.
Martin O'Neill before Steve McLaren was given the England job was one of the strongest candidates to take over the Three Lions. He led Leicester City out of relegation and led them to the top half of the EPL in his tenure as coach. Woth Celtics, he won 7 titles. In all he coached 282 games before resigning and won 213 , drawing 29 and lost 40.
He is being sought after by the Socceroos with Guus Hiddink, their World Cup coach leaving to coach Russia.
Martin O'Neill stats >>
This is what you'll get with Sven, a greedy turncoat.
... David Beckham:
"He's a nice boy. Very nice-looking with the ladies - they can be 70 or 17."
... His own salary expectations:
"That's the area [£5 million before tax] you have to think about."
... Doing two jobs at the same time:
"Everything is possible."
... His current job (before realising that he had been set up):
"After five and a half years, it's a long time."
... His current job (after realising that he had been set up):
"I would like to assure everyone, especially the fans, that I'm 100 per cent committed to the England job."
More from the Scotsman >>
Marseille have shown a great deal of interest in Sol Campbell. Amongst French clubs, Marseille ranks below Lyons, FC Monaco, and PSG. They have not won a major championship in over a decade. Sol will be a huge signing for them. Djibril Cisse is also expected to join on loan from Liverpool. Little Franck Ribery was the one bright spot in OM's French contribution to the World Cup. This is not the OM we know from the decades of top notch players like Didier Deschamps, Manuel Amoros, Laurent Blanc, Jean Tigana, Jairzinho, and Rudi Voller.
Meanwhile Real is suffering from sticker shock for Ruud Van Nistelrooy and is not prepared to pay the transfer fee for him. United are believed to be demanding at leastfor the 30-year-old, who has handed in a written transfer request. However Real is stuck on a bit more than £10m, and as Sir Alex says, an increase by a couple of bob won't cut it. Bayern's bid of £11.6m has been similarly rejected.
I think he will be back in Man U in time for the EPL season and will see minutes off the bench. Ruud will just have to do what he did in the beginning of the last season, work his way back into the starting line up. Right now it seems awfully crowded with Saha, Rooney, Rossi, Ronaldo, Skjolsaer up front and Alan Smith ready to make his comeback.
Sven is jockeying to become Villa's new coach. Good luck, Villa you will need it. Sven will be a nightmare.
Roman Abramovich flew over the London skies three years ago, looking down at the empty playing fields of Chelsea, and at that instant he wanted to buy the club. Malcolm Glazer the owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, an NFL football team decided that he would merge American football with football (or soccer as they call it across the pond) and takeover Man U. So far the only thing he has given Man U supporters is unending heartburn and no league titles. They can't even attract new talent because they do not have the cash because Mr Glazer is busy paying off the debt he incurred while buying out Man U.
And now we have Aston Villa. This is a really sordid case. Villa is now on the buying block and chairman Doug Ellis is prepared to sell to the highest bidder. The frontrunner is English businessman Michael Neville, with a bid of 64 million pounds. A nice tidy sum of money and the bidder is from the country. What could be better? No, Mr Doug Ellis wants more. So it is good old greed now that is keeping the Villa deal in the works.
Now we have a NFL baron, a Mr Randy Lerner who is the owner of the Cleveland Browns, bidding for Aston Villa. He is a billionaire owner of a very unsuccessful NFL team (the Browns don't seem to have won anything since the Civil War was settled). An EPL like Villa is far less costly to buy than an NFL team which run anything up from $400 m to close to a $1 billion. Mr Lerner is the son of the MBNA financial company chairman, Alfred Lerner, who makes his money ripping of customers with $34 fines for not paying the credit card bills on time. Paying the equivalent of $100 million is small change for him. However his offer was met with a cold shoulder by Doug Ellis who when he saw an American businessman interested in his club saw cash registers go off in his head. Officially, the Lerner bid has been rejected and he is out of the running but unofficially according to sources Mr Lerner still has a pulse, and this is just a ploy for him to cough up more. Meanwhile, the only thing that is keeping Michael Neville's bid alive is the resistance put up by Villa supporters to the Lerner takeover.
What does this takeover have to do with Sven Goran Erickson?
Mr Sven Goran Erickson was caught in a telephone sting about 7 months ago, discussing becoming Villa's new manager with a journalist representing a group of hypothetical Arab sheikhs who wanted to buy out Villa. Sven was all agog because his one condition was that he would become manager if Villa was successfully bought out. Arab sheikhs have the dosh to dole out to Sven with his high maintenance girlfriend Nancy Del Ollio. So you see Sven had lost interest in coaching the English team months before. Eight days after that conversation he announced that he would resign from coaching the English squad once the World Cup was over.
Sven's agent Athole Still (Jeez! that first name sounds like a body part. Say it with a lisp) says no deal will be possible if it does not include Sven as the coach. Meanwhile Michael Neville has shortlisted Martin O'Neill as his coach if his bid is successful. All of this depends on Doug Elllis who has the final say as he controls 38% of the club.
Belgium is hardly considered a powerhouse in world soccer, let alone European soccer. Their cupboard is quite bare of honors. Its best showing was the Enzo Scifo and Jan Ceulemans led team that finished fourth in the 1986 World Cup. In the European Championships they were runners up to the Germans in 1980. However it has cast a very, very long shadow in international soccer in the way that the modern game has evolved and continues to do so.
The present day rules of transfers that have led to European clubs recruiting top talent from Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe, leading to the globalized nature of the game is due to a lawsuit filed in the European Court of Justice by a little known Belgian player, Jean Marc Bosman against his club, FC Liege, a second division Belgian club. In 1990, Bosman wanted to transfer to French side Dunkerque but FC Liege, his club did not agree on the transfer amount and so refused his request. Meanwhile Bosman was demoted to the second team and his wages reduced. Bosman filed his lawsuit and after a few years of a tough battle, the European Court ruled that Bosman and other EU players at their end of the contract are entitled to a free transfer to any club that they sign up with.
The Bosman ruling did away with some peculiar notions of nation-states, especially in the British Isles. The UEFA and FIFA considered the British Isles to consist of four different countries, England, Wales, Northerm Ireland, and Scotland. This led to the UEFA limiting the number of foreign players in clubs participating in the UEFA cup to three. Manchester United had a problem because Ryan Giggs from Wales was considered a foreign player. The Bosman ruling did away with these superflous quotas and opened up the game of soccer to a number of players and a larger audience. It is looked on as a positive change in the world of soccer. This is the reason we can get to see the talent of Thierry Henry at Arsenal.
As much as the Bosman ruling helped in globalizing soccer a more recent ruling in a Belgian court has imposed a protectionist mould to the world of soccer. It has sharpened the divide between club versus country. A recent court case was filed by the Belgian club Charleroi against FIFA and their member countries that compensates the club for injuries that a player sustains while he plays for his country. In November 2004, Charleroi striker Abdelmajid Ouelmars was injured while playing for Morocco against Burkina Faso. Charleroi's complaint was that because of the injury to Ouelmars, they did not win the championship in 2005 and needed compensation. The lawsuit was supported by the G14 (a group of elite European soccer clubs) that establishes fealty to the clubs as a prime virtue over country and wants liability to be paid the clubs in lost wages. In fact, the clubs want to be the arbiter as to which players end up representing their country. The Charleroi case has now been moved to the European Court where a verdict is awaited.
The acrimonous tug of war seen in regards to Wayne Rooney's inclusion between Sir Alex and the FA and that of David Moyes with Tim Cahill and the Socceroos is a classic battleline being drawn in this increasingly bitter divide. In fact, one of the reasons, and hitherto not mentioned for less exciting and low scoring future editions of the World Cup will be because players risk fewer injuries because of their club commitments. The ruling will also reinforce G14's primacy over making player decisions over the respective boards especially in the length of the season. Players are playing more matches as the clubs squeeze the maximum out of them in high transfer fees and TV broadcasting and advertising revenues.
To learn more about the G14
"It appears that the core activity of football nowadays rather resides within club football than amongst the national teams competitions.
Therefore, and as a consequence of their historical-based structures and constitutions, the FA and their global association currently exploit an expertise, which does not lie in the day-to-day running of club football."
Martin Samuel's brilliant critique of the G14 and its agenda of protectionism >>
So Dunga is the new Brazilian coach. I personally find it curious how much importance people give to the national team’s coach after a World Cup. Who doesn’t remember the English drama with Sven before the WC and the Scolari media attack right after? I can understand the pressure because the World Cup was close, but now? I know we will have the Copa América next year but it is a minor competition for a national team. I know that the Euro Cup is very praised for the Europeans, and maybe the Copa América is very important to the Argentineans, since they have a historical lead against Brazil in the competition (recently Brazil won 3 of the last 4 competitions).
The fact is that the UEFA Euro is a lot harder to conquer than the Copa América. Look at these numbers: 35 titles are divided to 3 nations only, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. At the Euro Cup you will have 12 titles divided to 9 nations. Europe has much more countries than South America thus Brazil will never give much importance to Copa América. What about Dunga’s role? Trust me, the new coach is not important right now.
The CBF (Football Brazilian Confederation) is now giving a fast response to the Brazilian general feeling: we need people of strong will at the team. Not only players (once Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Ronaldinho & Co. didn’t have much), but starting with the coach. Dunga was the icon of will power and determination in his time being the captain of that 1994 lackluster team. He already declared that he will present a very offensive team against Norway (Aug, 16th) in response to the critics of the Parreira defensive style. But that’s all. He won’t be the 2010 coach unless he performs some miracle, winning everything in his path. This is how the coaching position works here in Brazil. He will be OK until his team start losing 2 or 3 matches, which is not difficult once he will be experimenting with local players with little international experience. Not only that but he is a noob as coach so how can anyone expect him to take a mythic team as the Seleção and keep the job until 2010? Not gonna happen, my friends.
The ideal path for the team would be to have as many coaches as needed until after the Euro 2008. By then Big Phil would be satisfied about the Portuguese job and he would accept back the position to coach Brazil for 2010. Of course there are other good coaches, but for the Brazilian tradition of having big individual stars we will definitely need a man that can bring the great talents together as a real team, like he has proven to be capable of in 2002. All I can do now is cross my fingers and wait until the end of the Euro 2008.
We have been playing pat-a-cake for a month or so with the possibilities of which coach will utimately coach the US team. Jurgen Klinsmann is the perfect choice but the names of Gerard Houllier, Brian Metsu, Eric Gerets, and Guus HIddink have also been mentioned. One thing is clear, US Soccer wants an experienced foreign coach and they should go for the best one possible that is realistically available.
Jamie Trecker in his latest opinion piece goes into if wishes were horses territory. He wants US Soccer to go all out and think big when selecting the MNT coach. Fair enough. But Jose Mourinho???
What in the world would possess Mourinho to come over here? He has the best EPL team that money can buy, his signings are all world class players. Mourinho wants to establish a legacy in a team that has never seen success like this before. In the pecking order Chelsea does not come close to the standards of European soccer that clubs like AC MIlan, Juventus, Real, Barcelona, Liverpool, Man U, Arsenal, and Bayern have established. There is an even bigger reason for Mourinho's success, as good a coach as he maybe, and i.e., Abramovich's deep pockets.
Trecker says that the canard that the coach should understand the country and the American soccer system should be 'deep sixed'. He goes onto mention Guus Hiddink and Otto Pfister's lack of knowledge of South Korea and Togo, before coaching those two teams, in the 2002 and 2006 World Cup, respectively.
Well, Jamie, both are journeymen coaches. If I am not mistaken Togo was Pfister's ninth job, most of them in African countries and most were unsuccessful before his Togo gig. Guus Hiddink has a reputation for taking teams and building them so that they are ready to compete succesfully in the international scene, just like he did with Australia, in this World Cup. If the US has gotten well past that rebuilding stage as Trecker states, then Guus Hiddink's name should not even be mentioned.
The circle of coaches that can realistically coach the US team should be narrowed down and not widened at this stage. The successful hiring of a coach to coach a team should lie in the convergence of the interests of both parties and not to some abstract concept like "make US Soccer better." Which international coach lives in the USA, has been successful both as a player as well as coach, understands English and is articulate, has mentioned that it is hard spending time away from his family, incorporates US style fitness with an attacking flair.
The coach that best fits these convergences is Jurgen Klinsmann. Let us not lose sight of our first choice as coach.
DC United is running away with this year's MLS season. It has been beaten only once in its 20 games (13-1-6) and the frontline of Alecko Eskandrian and Jaime Moreno have scored 12 of DC's league leading 37 goals. DC have been extremely stingy about giving away goals with just 17 conceded.
Part of the success is Peter Nowak's possession type soccer that has been successfully implemented by DC United where they seldom give away the ball and are always probing the opposing defences for openings. Ben Olson and Christian Gomez have been the creative sparks in midfield while Bobby Boswell and Josh Gros have anchored a stout defence. Freddy Adu seems to be maturing nicely along with the rest of the United youth brigade like Gros, Boswell, Brian Caroll, and Troy Perkins.
MLS wrap up >>
Birmingham City: Heskey to Wigan; Pennant to Liverpool
Jermaine Pennant will give quite a bit of heft to Rafa's outfit. Birmingham City has some good players in a terrible club and Pennant is already on his way to becoming a star. Heskey is really over valued at the 5.5 million that Wigan shelled out for him. He scored but 4 goals in Birmingham's relegation performing season. IMO, Heskey is a talented forward who played some great years for Liverpool but somehow never performed upto expectations. He was one of Sven's favourite and when he performed we got to see what Heskey was capable of.
Pennant on the other hand is part of the Arsenal system. One that seems to churn out talent for other clubs. Liverpool is paying £6m for his services.
Pennant has had to fight disciplinary problems crashing his Mercedes in a drunk driving accident which saw jail time for him. Arsenal paid £2m, a record fee for a trainee at the time. He impressed in his Arsenal debut with a hat-trick in 2003. But never saw him gain Wenger's confidence and he was loaned out on spells to Watford, Leeds and Birmingham before he signed for City last summer.
Rafa is trying to lessen the load on Steven Gerrard who has had to play most of the season on the right flank. Pennant will take over that position.
>Fiorentina: Reprieved of relegation to Serie B but will be docked 19 points in this season's Serie A.
>Lazio: Reprieved of relegation to Serie B but will be docked 11 points in this season's Serie A.
>Juventus: Remain relegated to Serie B but points deduction cut from 30 to 17 this season.
>Milan: Remain, as before, in Serie A but points deficit is reduced from 15 to eight.
Read more >>
Juventus said they would take further legal action after yesterday's decision. "We absolutely cannot accept this sentence," the chairman Giovanni Cobolli Gigli said on the club's website. "Worst of all, we have been given a penalty which seriously prejudices next season."
The Bafana Bafana are the South African national football team. They played their first match against Australia on 10 May, 1947. In 1957 they were invited to play in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) but because of their constitutional policy of segregating teams into all white and all black, decided to field two teams. This was unacceptable to the confederation and they were disqualified from playing. In 1958, the South Africans were expelled from CAF because of their apartheid policies.
In 1958, they were admitted to FIFA but conditionally on the grounds that they not violate FIFA's non-discriminatory policy. In 1961 they were suspended due to non-compliance for two years until Stanley Rous the new FIFA chairman decided to reinstate them. However the increase in the newly free African and Asian countries in FIFA's annual meeting in 1964 reinstated the ban. In 1976, South Africa was formally expelled from the FIFA after the Soweto uprising.
In 1991, with the policy of apartheid demolished, a new multiracial South African Football Association was formed. On June 7, 1991, South Africa played its first football game in two decades against Cameroun.
In the 15 years since, South Africa have qualified for the World Cup in 1998 and 2002 but made early first round exits in each. They also won the Africa Cup in 1996 in six appearances. They have established themselves as one of Africa's premier teams along with Nigeria, Egypt, Cameroun, Senegal, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Tunisia. However they failed to qualify for this year's World Cup, a huge blow as they came third in the CAF Group 2 behind Ghana and the DR Congo. They further failed to impress in the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations by not managing to score a single goal.
Bafana Bafana have a handful of international stars like Shaun Bartlett, Delron Buckley, and Benni McCarthy. However, they are not household names like Kanu, Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Kolo Toure, Adebayor, Jay Jay Okocha, Samuel Eto'o, or Henri Camara. These three will most likely be past their prime by the time 2010 rolls around. There are quite a few exciting prospects in the firmament but they are very young and inexperienced and will require a very good coach to make them matchworthy. South Africa being the host will not have to play qualifiers, so their team will have to rely on many friendlies for preparation. Their first big test will be the Africa Cup of Nations in 2008 and the Olympic Games later the same year.
As Germany claims its due pride in hosting a successful World Cup 2006, our memories will fade as our attention is increasingly drawn to South Africa given the onerous task of organizing the first World Cup in the African continent in 2010. A lot of energy will go into dissipating the critics who believe that South Africa is not upto the challenge. In fact, Australia is being mentioned as a strong alternative should South Africa falter.
This is not just about organizing the World Cup, it is a whole continent's pride at stake. The South Africans know that and they are fully prepared. Daany Jordan , the organizing chief states that FIFA has given the South African football federation $10 million to develop the Bafana Bafana, the South African national team. The SA federation is in negotiations with Carlos Alberto Parreira, Brazil's ex-coach to take over the reins of the Bafana Bafana.
Thabo Mbeki's government has pledged $710 million for building and renovating 10 stadiums, and another $1.2 billion for upgrades to airports, roads and railway lines. Cape Town has given the go ahead for a proposed stadium in its city center subject to government financing.
FIFA is supposed to be flush with cash through corporate sponsorships from first tier companies like Coca Cola and Adidas. Second tier companies like McDonald's have also renewed their sponsorships till 2014, good for the next two World Cups. Not to be left behind, FIFA's third tier sponsors that include six South African companies are also pledging money under the 'national supporter' category. South African company First National Bank (FNB) is commtting $30 million to the World Cup. In all, FIFA has more than $3 billion in hand for the 2010 World Cup and this does not even include TV and media broadcasting revenues from Africa, Asia and South America. The final figure is estimated to be more than $5 billion.
South Africa's economy is booming with it becoming the destination for a number of multinational companies setting up business. South African companies like SABMiller are buying up breweries in China.
Johannesburg is shedding its apartheid past and has become a vibrant multicultural city. Soweto has become a neighborhood that is populated by middle class blacks with clubs that play jazz and Soweto hip-hop also called Kwaito. The Orlando West neigborhood was home to two giants responsible for ending apartheid, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.
We will be following South Africa and Africa very closely in the following months. The 2010 World Cup will not mitigate many of Africa's teeming problems and it would be very naive to think so. However for pan-Africanists like Marcus Garvey and Kwame Nkrumah, their vision of bringing a continent together and forging a unitary identity might be a step closer to being realized.
It has been a bit quiet after the excitement of the World Cup. Sometimes its hard to say that we were the focus of the world's attention for more than a month.
The ZIdane Materazzi affair really got the public going for a while. I have to say that the German public was in favor of Zizou and they in general support him for leveling Materazzi. Well, Italy did destory Germany in the last few minutes of their match, so the sentiment should be unsurprising. Zizou's mother got into it and the German press was full of how Zizou's mother wanted Materazzi's balls on a platter. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
The big news is the Ruud Van Nistelrooy who has been the subject of a transfer from Man U to Real may ultimately land up in Bayern.
Real is not willing to pay Man U the money for Ruud and why should they? They are obviously looking for the in form players in the Serie to make their way to their club. They have snagged Cannavaro and Emerson. Plus, Ruud just proved to be a bit, shall we say.... rude while he played for Man U. Van Basten did not do Ruud's career any favors by not playing him in the Portugal match. So Ruud has quite a bit of a baggage when it comes to playing soccer. Bayern has lost some firepower with Ballack leaving and it would be a miracle if any of the Serie players want to play for the Bundesliga.
Germany is still taking Klinsmann's resignation in stride. They have an able successor in Joachim Low but nothing fired the imagination as Klinsi did. Good looking, articulate, emotional- he could have been a Latino. And of course as a player, he was quite the showboat. US Soccer should really go all out and get him as their coach.
George W Bush came to visit but not to pitch the US coaching job to Klinsmann. Something tells me that it was all for the best because after Dubya called up Bruce Arena to wish his team well in the World Cup, the US made a prompt exit.
Dunga, liderança e determinação como símbolos da Seleção Brasileira
Veja o perfil do treinador
I don't know how to react. Dunga as a player was the exact opposite of what Brazilian football should be all about, the beautiful game. He is Carlos Alberto Parriera's right hand man. Parriera loved him when he played for the Brazil team. This is Parriera's way of hanging onto his system that has failed badly this World Cup.
I am really disappointed with Chiza's cheap dismissal of Sol Campbell. The man was Mr Defender for Arsenal and the large part of why Arsenal took the EPL and FA double in 2001-2002. When I look at his record he only changed two clubs in his 15 seasons and the club that he changed was the Spurs for the Gunners. That took guts! I mean the man was subjected to the vilest of insults everytime he played the Spurs at White Hart.
As a player Sol was ferocious. It's too bad that most You Tube clips are of the goalscorers because Sol could put on a clinic in defence. Of course, most of You Tube clips you get on Sol is the goal he scored for Arsenal against Barca in the Euro championship. Which really isn't what the story of Sol is all about. He was a worthy successor to Tony Adams for both club and country.
It's just unfortunate that he was injured in the last couple of years and had a rare loss of form. A Sol operating at half his best was still better than about 90% of the players. He will really and truly be missed by all who love the game. And I wish him well wherever he decides to join. He played 198 times in the 6 seasons that he played for Arsenal and he was capped 69 times for England.
Some of this Curtis Davies transfer talk reminds me of the Kenny Sansom transfer from Crystal Palace to Arsenal in 1980. Palace was offered a bid of one million pounds for Sansom in the summer using striker Clive Allen as bait (this was unusual, as Allen was an equally prized young player and had only joined Arsenal weeks earlier, and had yet to play for the club).
Kenny Sansom's transfer has interesting parallels to the deal that Arsenal is offering to the Baggies for Curtis Davies dangling Walcott as bait. Like Davies, Sansom was just about 16 when he first played for Crystal Palace. In 1980 when he joined the Gunners, he was just 21.
Palace accepted the bid and Sansom left for Highbury. The same summer he had starred for England in the 1980 European Championships in Italy, though England did not make progress. Sansom had made his debut the previous year in a goalless draw against Wales.
Arsenal's 80's decade was pretty mixed with the club really going no places but Sansom was a fixture in the England side and was universally acknowledged for his great tackling abilities, excellent crosses, and durability. Sansom gave way to Nigel Winterburn who played 13 seasons for Arsenal. Kenny Sansom played 9 years for Arsenal and won 86 caps for England, the most for a full back. Only Gary Neville comes close to the mark with 81 caps so far.
Arsenal loves him, but he is too high priced
Curtis Davies is familar with East London having worked in a Shell station at Chingford. The wages he earned would pay for his fare to Luton, the club he played for before the Baggies spirited him away for a record £3m on transfer deadline day last August.
He was the outstanding player for the Baggies in an otherwise horribly disappointing season for Bryan Robson's boys who remained in danger of being relegated from the EPL.
Now, he is one of the most sought after defenders in the English League, with a going rate of £12m. In a year he is appreciated his worth 400%. Arsene Wenger would dearly love to have him with all the problems that the Arsenal defence has been having, but his price is a bit too high. Portsmouth’s £8.5m club-record bid was dismissed by the West Brom board.
Davies really impressed in the 3-1 defeat against Arsenal at Highbury. His reading of the match, "“For two minutes at the start of that game Henry stood still, like a statue, which I found weird,” Davies remembers. “After that you just had to try to keep tabs on him. Arsenal tried to knock a lot of balls in behind for him but I was able to read most of them and, because I’m quite fast, was also able to stay in touch with him. Once in the corner he tried to nutmeg me but, luckily, I got my leg there and that gave me confidence. I probably produced the best individual performance of my career in that game because, if you’re playing against Henry, you’re going to be especially focused. But I’m one of those players who believe you should be juiced up for every game.”
He is not going anywhere but his statements have left the door open a little for other clubs, and Arsenal should keep that mind. Wenger is left with not many options, with a pretty banged up defense. Gael Clichy is frequently injured and so is Lauren.
Davies is being compared to Rio, Paul McGrath, and Des Walker. He has Walker's pace and athleticism and McGrath's ability to read a game, all requisites for a successful centre back. For me, an equally important attribute is his work ethic and that head on the shoulders humility that his father instilled in him.
Theo Walcott is being offered in the Davies transfer deal. Cash and a player with the potential calibre of Walcott should sound like a really good offer to the Baggies.
Ashley Cole has no conscience, he just wants more money but now Sol is leaving Arsenal's new home too. He wants to move abroad, to some other league. Maybe the rigours of the EPL have gotten to Sol and he has been frequently injured as he was this last season. Might we suggest that he move to the US League, the MLS where the players rarely get injured and the pace is about two steps slower.
Dennis Bergkamp just asked Arsenal to hold onto Ashley Cole but I think Cole leaves, he will not be missed. Sol's leaving Tottenham to move to their arch rivals club, Arsenal enraged their supporters. He has been called mercenary in his dealings with the Spurs after they negotiated a contract that would have him the most expensive in club history, and decided to leave after that for Arsenal after being courted by many European clubs.
Sol is damaged goods. He is old (34 years) and has a few years left if injury free. His playing time in Arsenal would have been limited. Time to dust off Gael Clichy and start him off as the left back, Senderos and Kolo Toure at the centre, Eboue at right. Lauren also should be ready to play this season. Johan Djorou should get some good minutes.
Bergkamp looks at Arsenal challenging Chelsea, and I don't think it was just a feel good moment.
Sol is a flashy guy and I think somewhere down the line he is going to make his move to the movie world, where he will team up with Dennis Rodman, Jackie Chan, and Van Damme, in a movie, "OMG, its those gits on crutches", in which he will lob a nuclear warhead off his noggin over the stadium thus saving Warner Bros from actually having to pay for one. It will require many takes but Sol will get the job done with some nice digital work.
With all the top flight players leaving Juve for La Liga or other clubs in Serie, it will get increasingly hard for Juventus to keep their financial house in order. Share prices will come down as revenues generated through TV rights, sponsorships, and gate revenues dry up.
The Juve lawyer Cesar Zaccone is fearing a backlash from the shareholders. Even less attractive is the prospect of Juve being relegated from Serie B as they face a 30 point handicap. Just to keep up in the Serie B, Juve will have to win 27 of their 40 matches with a decimated team.
Juventus is now appealing the relegation decision >>
We saw Dennis Bergkamp retire after 11 years with Arsenal. As remarked before, this is increasingly becoming a rarity when we have players like Ashley Cole ready to bolt because Arsenal cannot afford to pay for his pound of flesh. With Juventus, it is the same with Fabio Cannavaro already gone to Real, Lilian Thuram and Gianluca Zambrotta signed up with Barca. And Trezeguet and Ibrahamovic looking for a way out.
Alessandro Del Piero will not be bought. He wants to stay in Juve even though he has many offers and he knows that with relegation to the Serie B, they will not be playing in the European Champions club. His playing career could be over because of his decision. He joined Juventus in 1993 at the age of 18 when there were Bianconeri like Roberto Baggio, Gianluca Vialli, and Fabrizio Ravanelli.
As Deven Alvares reports, the Juve fans appreciate Alessandro Del Piero or Pinturicchio as he is affectionately called -a name that means so much to Bianconerros all around the world. He is our pride and joy, our legendary captain, the servant, flagpole, and the symbol of our beloved Juve. There will never be another player like him for years to come.
Soccer fans all over should pay a tribute to these players who uphold loyalty and honor to their club more dear than lining their pockets for a few more bucks.
The SA Football association is negotiating with Parriera to come aboard to coach Bfana Bfana. “It’s just a question of formalities now. The only thing we’re waiting for is his signature on the contract”, confirmed a Bfana Bfana exec this morning. Parreira resigned after Brazil's abysmal showing in this World Cup.
Parreira started his coaching career in Ghana with the Black Stars and Asante Kotoko in 1967. So this represents a return to Africa after 40 years of coaching Brazil, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Kuwait, countries that all went onto play in the World Cup finals.
Arsenal's first match in it's new home the Emirates stadium could not have been a better testimonial to Bergkamp, as they won 2-1 over Ajax. The two teams saw a galaxy of stars like Johan Cruyff, Marco Van Basten, Edgar David, Patrick Kluiwert, Frank Rijkaard, Ronald de Boer, Ian Wright, Emmanuel Petit, Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, David Seaman, Edwin Van Der Saar., Marc Overmaars, and
A crowd of 54,000 flocked to the Gunners’ impressive new residence to pay tribute to Bergkamp, to sing, "Dennis, Dennis, Dennis, " for the last time.
Bergkamp created the best chance for Arsenal in the first half by sending Hleb clear down the right, receiving the return pass on the edge of the area and sending a trademark chip over the bar, showing he had not lost his touch.
An emotional Bergkamp addressed the crowd after the final whistle before embarking on a triumphant lap of honour.
“It’s an amazing stadium. I thought the pitch couldn’t be better than Highbury but it is,” he said. “A club like Arsenal deserves a stadium like this.
“If ever I was going to have a testimonial it was always going to be against Ajax, so thank you to them for coming.
“In 11 years I have had a fantastic, successful time and a big part of that has been the fans, so thank you.”
Player and coach tributes:
Marco Van Basten: "If Ryan Giggs is worth 20 million, Dennis Bergkamp is worth 100 million."
Guus Hiddink: " Bergkamp. He had the finest technique [of all Dutch players]."
Arsene Wenger: "Intelligence and class. Class is of course, most of the time linked to what you can do with the ball, but the intelligence makes you use the technique in an efficient way. It's like somebody who has a big vocabulary but he doesn't say intelligent words, and somebody who has a big vocabulary but he can talk intelligently, and that's what Dennis is all about. What he does, there's always a head and always a brain. And his technique allows him to do what he sees, and what he decides to do."
Ian Wright: "He's the messiah. We told him to get us into Europe when he joined and that's exactly what he did."
Thierry Henry:" Dennis is the best player I have ever played with as a partner. It is a dream for a striker to have him in the team with you."
Bruce Rioch: "He was perfect for the club - a good team man, great for spirit, popular in the dressing room and he just integrated well into the club."
Lee Dixon: "During my time at Arsenal I was lucky to play alongside fantastic players like Tony Adams, Thierry Henry and Ian Wright. But Dennis Bergkamp topped the lot."
One cannot but wonder about the impact that Bergkamp would have had on away games for Arsenal that he missed because of his crippling fear of flying. Lee Dixon adds, "Looking back, the only thing that counts against him was not being in the team for overseas games. We really suffered when he wasn't in the side for those European away matches. No-one else could play like he did, because Dennis is a one-off, and we had to change the way we approached those matches."
Dennis Bergkamp changed the way Arsenal played football from the horribly dreary days of the 80's and early 90's when Arsenal endlessly grinded out 1-0 wins and ho-hum draws, to the fast attacking style that Arsenal is now associated with.
Grace thy name is Bergkamp.
Look at the young Dennis Bergkamp with Bruce Rioch!
When Bergkamp moved to Arsenal in August 1995 he left with the words of Inter president Massimo Moratti ringing in his ears: "They will be lucky if he scores 10 goals this season."
Moratti has has to eat his words many times over. The Beebs tribute to Dennis the Menace >>
I thought the Juventus, Lszio, Fiorentina, and AC Milan firesale had led to a feeding frenzy in the media as to who would bag all these players. Shourin put up Pirlo for sale at Arsenal and tongues got wagging. Someone rightly pointed out that Arsenal does not have enough money for such an expensive player, and Arsenal has a got a very good but relatively inexperienced team that should go far, if properly coached. Wenger is good at making do with what he has. We have Gael Clichy and Mathieu Flamini, quality players, now that Ashley Cole has decided that Arsenal cannot afford his pound of flesh.
But what is going on in Portsmouth? Some Mr Moneybags by the name of Alexandre Gaydamak has bought over the club and the place is going through the roof. Rumours of Sol Campbell, Nicolas Anelka, Manuel Fernandes, Souleymane Diawara, Jaouad Zairi and "Serbian giant" Nikola Zigic being transferred to Portsmouth.
What is Abramovich to think? He has effectively shunted out Man U, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, from the rumour mill because they don't have the money. Now he has to contend with lowly Portsmouth. What is the world coming to?
Let us outsource rumor mills to India shall we? It will be cheaper and 5 hours ahead.
Dennis Bergkamp is undoubtedly the best foreign player to set foot on English soil and play for the English league. We can talk of Thierry Henry, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Arjen Robben, Robin Van Persie, and countless others who have come to find fame in the English league but Bergkamp set the trend, when he moved from Inter to Arsenal on Bruce Rioch's signing on for £7.5m. And what a career he had. We can all appreciate his greatness as a player but for many, he was also the epitome of a ceaseless work ethic, and a player who spoke through his feet, and not through personal exploits off the field.
Here is Martin Keown's tribute to a fellow great >>
So long and thanks for all the fish, Dennis!
Dennis Bergkamp retired after 11 wonderful years of soccer service for Arsenal. He is an increasing rarity seen in the world of soccer nowadays, the player that considers allegiance to a club and country more important than merely lining their pockets. He was an artist with his ability to create and score as one of the best strikers to operate in the hole. Pele included him in the world's best 125 players of all times. In his 11 years at Arsenal he scored 121 goals and set up 166 more.
Most impressive in the Iceman was his exquisite first touch and sublime ball control. That touch led him to measure out passes that were precise, shoot goals that the goalie never saw coming. It is amazing the nano space that Bergkmap could work out of to create those goals. He was an artiste, and each one of his goals stood out, one more superb than the other. His goals were without effort, just pure finesse, and the one thing that sticks to my mind was that right foot cocked up in the air, caressing that ball through to goal. None of Bergkamp's goals were the meaty type, they were elusive, and one loses count of the number of times that he found the remote corners of the goal. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but in Bergkamps' case it was usually a graceful ellipsis.
My memories of Bergkamp are those years in Arsenal in the years 1997-1998, when Arsenal won their Golden double. Those years of that unforgettable team of Bergkamp, Overmaars, Vieira, Petit, Anelka, Seaman, Adams, Parlour, Platt, Wright, Keown. Bergkamp came in for an ailing Ian Wright and took over the attack. It was just a joy to see the speedy Overmaars with his blistering pace on the left and the grace and beauty of Bergkamp creating and scoring goals. Tony Adams and Petit being the pillars. Vieira at his beastly best with his strength and stamina.
Bergkamp plays his testimonial match against his old club Ajax today, July 22nd in the first match to be hosted in Arsenal's spanking new Emirates Stadium. Arsenal has confirmed that the Number 10 Jersey, which Bergkamp wore for 11 seasons will be vacant and probably retired for a few seasons in his honor.
Jurgen Klinsmann led Germany to a third place finish that few would have thought possible before the 2006 World Cup began. With its success in soccer was the new found confidence and patriotism in Germany, with all the cheering fans, the singing of the anthem, and the flag waving.
Even the biggest critics of the Germans, the Brits, who never fail to remind the Germans about their World War II legacy, were impressed by this new fervor. Basil Fawlty, the clod in the infamous episode "The Germans" reminds his staff "don't mention the war" to his German guests, a statement that became famous in the annals of Brit comedy, apologized to the Germans for his ignorance and bad taste.
Eduardo Galeano gives context to the long and tortuous way that the Germans have had to travel from their first hesitant steps in the post World War II era, the decades of self effacement, and to the overt displays of German pride and nationalism that we saw in this World Cup.
It was at the World Cup in 1954. Hungary, the favorite, was playing Germany in the final. WIth six minutes left in a game tied 2-2, the robust German forward Helmut Rahn trapped a rebound from the Hungarian defense in the semi-circle. Rahn evaded Lantos and fired a blast with his left, just inside the right post of the goal defended by Grosics.
Heribert Zimmermann, Germany's most popular commentator, anoounced that goal with a passion worthy of a South American: "Toooooooooorrrrrrrrr!!!"
It was the first World Cup that Germany had been allowed to play in since the war, and Germans felt they had the right to exist again. Zimmerman's cry became a symbol of national resurrection. Years later, that historic goal could be heard on the soundtrack of Fassbinder's film, "The Marriage of Maria Braun, " which recounts the misadventures of a woman who can't find her way out of the ruins.
(From Eduardo Galeano, Soccer in Sun and Shadow, Verso Paperbacks, 2003)
Barcelona have won the race to capture Juventus defenders Lilian Thuram and Gianluca Zambrotta following the Italian club's relegation to Serie B. Spanish media reports suggest Barca have paid a combined fee of £13m.
So far La Liga with Real and Barca have reaped the benefits of Juve's relegation.
More from the Beeb >>
Zinedine Zidane has been banned for three games and fined £3,260 for head-butting Italy's Marco Materazzi during the World Cup final. Materazzi was banned for two matches and fined £2,170 for his part in the incident which occurred in extra-time before Italy's penalty victory.
The Beeb will have the full report.
Read Marina Hyde's review of Rooney's autobiography Part I for a hearty chuckle >>
Bottom dwelling India (FIFA rank 117) begins its quest to attain some respectability in Asian soccer. They have hired Bob Houghton. A picture shows Houghton looking like he is being boiled alive in the Indian sun.
He has a huge task at hand. However Houghton has proposed attracting players of Indian origin who play overseas. This includes players like Michael Chopra of Newcastle and Vikash Dhorasoo of PSG. Michael Chopra will never make the English squad and Dhorasoo has seen most of his best years under Zidane. But these two can at least take India to another level.
Apparently Juventus has been spurned by AC Milan in their quest to get Christian Abbiati plus a hefty sum of money for Buffon in exchange. Abbiatio has been offered to Torino. Now Juve wants to see if there are other takers for Buffon. It seems to be a race between Arsenal and Man U.
Buffon is a better fit for Arsenal. Most of the players are young and are from overseas. He'll live in London, infinitely more cosmopolitan than Manchester. His boss will be Arsene Wenger and not the old codger, Fergie who seems to rub of all his good players the wrong way.
The other player that Arsenal could pick up is Andrea Pirlo. The AC Milan star is not happy with the 15 point handicap that Milan is going to begin the season with. Pirlo will not come cheap and he could cost over 25 million pounds. AC Milan says that they are determined to hold onto all their players for this season. But it will be a coup if Arsenal gets Pirlo. He is far better than Ballack and with Rosicky in the middle, should make life miserable for the rest of the EPL clubs.
The Blues are trying to go for Gianluca Zambrotta in a big way and are willing to cough up plenty of Abramovich's dough to get him. But reports say that Real has the best chances of getting him.
The Red Devils seem to striking out in their chances of getting an international star. Vieira is more interested in Inter. Fernando Torres wants to stay on at Atletico Madrid. Gennaro Gattuso stays on at AC Milan. Even Kaka was reported to have gotten feelers from Man U but as of this moment he appears ready to continue on with AC Milan.
The Serie firesale is happening right now and there are plenty of developments that will take place in the next week or so.
Update: Fabio Cannavaro and Emerson sign up with Real.
Wayne Rooney has signed a 5 book autobiography with Harper Collins worth 5 million pounds. It is supposed to be one of the biggest book deals in sports history. One wonders what could be so interesting in a 20 year's old life that warrants that much money?
In the autobiography Rooney denies the commonly held view that he is a hothead. " I think I’m a quiet, sensitive, retiring shy person.” Methinks these books are going to be tres boring and it is better to stick to George Best. At least he never apologized for visiting massage parlors. Horrors! We are going to find out that Rooney loves Nigella Lawson's cut salads.
Brazil is looking for a new coach as Carlos Alberto Parreira resigned today. I did not think he was going to last too long with Brazil bowing out shockingly in the quarterfinals. The new coach better would be advised to put more of the bonito in the e jogo. Former Real Madrid coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo, who was in charge of Brazil from 1998 to 2000, and former Sao Paulo and Peru boss Paulo Autuori are the favourites to take over from Parreira.
I am sure Euler will have more in the days to come.
As a Gooner fan, this is a hard blow to take. Cole was one of the brightest spots in this year's dysfunctional English squad. He has been a pillar on defence and enterprising on attack for Arsenal. Cole was docked for talking to Chelsea behind Arsenal's back. In his book, Cole accuses Arsenal of hanging him out to dry using him as a scapegoat for the incident. Cole also claims that Arsenal had its worst season under Wenger, and that Arsenal has been under decline since Vieira left.
Chelsea has deep pockets and now that Cole has married Cheryl Tweedy, the new power couple have a few more expenses to think of. Arsenal probably could afford Cole but not Cole and Tweedy, and all this talk about Arsenal having seen its best days is all just a way out.
Too bad. I was hoping that after Cole's injury that sidelined him from Arsenal for the last 4 months of the EPL season, he would be back to anchor the defence along with Sol. Looks like Arsenal might have to go shopping for a left back.
As we say in Trinidad, what is the scene my peoples?
I'm Stacy-Marie, and I'm delighted to be a part of the SoccerBlog. Like our resident Carioca Euler, I used to muse over at the wonderful World Cup Blog, where I chronicled the adventures of my beloved Soca Warriors throughout their German odyssey.
Until next time, vibes it up.
It had to come sooner than later. The elation that swept through South Africa and the African continent after having won the 2010 World Cup with the chance to showcase the new Africa after decades of apartheid in South Africa and the nascent new democracies of many African countries (at least 15 governments after years of despotic rule), has given way to a familiar foe, western skepticism, who are of the opinion that South Africa will have to put in a Herculean effort to pull off the largest spectacle in the world successfully. In fact, there is a widespread belief that other venues are being contemplated, to be on the safe side.
We have to remember that the 2006 World Cup would have been held in South Africa if it had not been for a certain pusillanimous Charles Dempsey of the Oceania Football Federation, the delegate who was pressurized by many European federations, including the German Football Federation and the German media. Dempsey reportedly received threats to his and his family's life. His was a certain vote for South Africa (as instructed by his Federation)but he chose to abstain and the final count was 12-11 in favor of Germany. His vote would have deadlocked the count and Sepp Blatter with his tiebreaker would have voted for South Africa as widely believed. Instead, the continent of Africa experienced one of its bitterest moments of rejection, reflected in the words of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.
Now we have the same bloc or cabal that are casting aspersions on South Africa's ability to hold the 2010 World Cup. It is a familiar refrain echoed of all developing countries that are given the rare opportunity to host an event of this magnitude. South Africa does not have the infrastructure, the roads, the airports, hotels, and the stadia to host such a huge event. It has a high murder rate that will frighten off soccer fans. Corruption is endemic in government and is a victim to complex tribal politics. Unspoken in many of the reports that express this skepticism but which might just become an issue with the Euro cabal is the specter of AIDS and its prevalence in South Africa. This will be touted as an economic issue, i.e., South Africa should concentrate its resources on containing this problem, before becoming a health issue to the many tourists who will come to South Africa to watch the World Cup. Look for all these health advisories to come out in the next couple of years that will warn tourists of anything and eveything from the Hanta virus to the guineaworm.
So it is no wonder that these skeptics are considering alternate venues like Australia, the USA, and Mexico. Sepp Blatter being the consummate politician is up for elections in 2007. He needs the votes of the 57 African countries to continue on. Look for him to bag those votes and then start sounding like a doubting thomas if South Africa has a few hiccoughs on the way to hosting the World Cup.
This dog eat dog mentality is not just prevalent in this North- South divide, but it is true even for less fortunate European countries. Exactly two years ago, Greece was being pilloried by the IOC for not being upto the mark in preparation for the Summer Olympics. But Greece pulled it off and magnificently, I might add.
The IHT has more >>
It's official: Leo Beenhakker has defected to Poland. In his capacity as "Warrior Chief", Beenhakker coached Trinidad and Tobago to their first ever World Cup final this year. Now, the Dutchman will be taking his experience, wit and cigar habit to Poland, where he will take charge of a squad with aspirations of qualifying for the 2008 European Championships.
Over in the islands, Beenhakker's former assistant Wim Rijsbergen has been named head coach of the T&T Soca Warriors. His appointment sparked intense debate amongst concerned Soca Warriors fans: would Wim be able to build upon the foundations that Beenie built? Will he be more or less attacking-minded than his predecessor? What's a good nickname for a man named Wim Rijsbergen?
Rijsbergen's first outing with the Caribbean side will be against Japan on August 9th. The Warriors will travel to Tokyo for the friendly, in what will be the first match for both sides since their first-round exits from the World Cup.
One of the most intriguing news was that Gianluigi Buffon of Juventus was being pursued by Arsenal. Which leads to the question, is Jens Lehmann not good enough for the Gunners? He would make the top 5 goalkeepers list in the world. His World Cup performance at times was a bit patchy but when it came to crunch time he delivered. Is Arsene Wenger just trying to yank Lehmann's chain by dangling the Buffon gambit? Buffon has indicated that he likes home cooking and is contemplating moving to AC Milan. In exchange Juventus might be offered Christian Abbiati, the AC Milan reserve goalkeeper. If that is the case then AC Milan will be in a position to trade DIda. Man U is reportedly interested in acquiring him.
Gianluca Zambrotta is being pursued by Chelsea. But indications are that he is interested in remaining in Italy and playing for AC Milan. Zlatan Ibrahamovic is rumored to be joining Inter Milan and the latest is that Patrick Vieira might be his companion there. Alessandro Del Piero is not moving and has thrown his lot in with Juve in good times and bad times. Pavel Nedved is interested in prolonging his soccer career and is being pursued by Tottenham Hotspurs.
Chelsea was also interested in Fabio Cannavaro but he is most likely moving to Real Madrid with the ex-coach of Juventus, Fabio Capello who has taken over Real's reins.
Goalkeepers are hot commodities and the only reason that Arsenal is probably pursuing Buffon is that he is 10 years younger than Jens Lehmann with many more productive seasons to go. The same dynamic drives Man U to get Nelson DIda on board as Edwin Van Der Saar approaches the twilight of his career.
In the end I have a feeling that most of the Serie players in the relegated clubs will migrate to other top tier Serie clubs like Inter, AS Roma, Perugia, and even AC Milan, which has been penalized by point deductions but not with relegation. The rest will find their place in La Liga.
Tomas Rosicky lands up with the Gooners and Pavel Nedved might join the Spurs. These Czech team mates will be asked to go head to toe in the EPLs bitterest rivalry. The EPL season already looks very promising!
ESPN has an interesting take on the candidates. Short answer: hire a foreigner.
Oddly, the article does not seem to think the USMNT coaching job is an attractive position. I would think the exact opposite: low downside risk on reputation if the US flops, but with a HUGE upside if things go very well in 2010. Sure, maybe Scolari or Hiddink do not have that much to prove, but I can't believe that Russia offers a better situation then the US. Metsu does not do much for me, but Gerets is an intriguing possibility. I also would add Dick Advocaat, who might want to polish his resume a bit more.
Well, Bruce Arena is back at the helm of a soccer team; apparently the powers that be in New York believe that his past success as the US MNT coach, DC United's 2 MLS cups, and his 5 NCAA titles at Virginia will enable him to move the Bulls on to glory in the MLS. But my concern here is that the Red Bulls just kinda stink..and a prom dress on a pig is still a dressed up pig.
And of course, to blow the horn of the most excellent cogniscenti here at SoccerBlog, it appears that osmosis has occurred, and the call is now for the US to hire Jürgen Klinsmann. Kudos to Grant Wahl for recognizing our wisdom. :)
Now if we can only convince Klinsi...
Tilam is right about the difficulties that lie ahead when you want change in soccer rules with a bureaucratic organization such as FIFA. There are some rule changes that seem so intuitive it is a wonder that FIFA ignores them. The darker interpretation is that FIFA allows this culture of 'benign neglect' deliberately to bestow the World Cup and the power it brings to certain favored countries.
I can't get into the comments section of Tilam's post (technical glitch? FIFA strking back at soccerblog?). But I urge you to read it and get pretty serious about the rules that need changing. If we can get enough people on board then FIFA might just listen to us. We always keep hyping soccer as the global game, and that means,we as the people, exercise enough say in the matter. In the words of Liam Gallagher, "So I start a revolution from my bed."
My personal choices:
1) Video replay, minimizes all those bad decisions and consequent make up calls. Not an expensive technology, easily implementable.
2) Two referees: Two pairs of eyes are better than one. This gives us the 'eyes at the back of the head' option. A referee positioned at the plane of the ball and the other one that stands behind the ball. Liken it to a camera placed lateral to where the action is taking place and another that looks forward. The roles of the referees switch on a counterattack. The linesmen concentrate on the corner kicks and offside.
3) Revolving substitutions: Ribery went out and Trezeguet was brought in. All Ribery needed was a breather. He was making things happen till then. I really think soccer games should not rely so much on substitutes. It becomes a crapshoot for coaches. They are hailed as geniuses if the substitutions work and morons if they don't. Either way it leaves very little margin for error and/ or creativity.
Other rules like modifying the offside rules and the sin bins are what I would call 'creature of habit' rules. The offside concept seems very ingrained in the soccer world. Plus, it appears to be the one rule that gives soccer the badge of honor. As Eduardo Galeano puts it, "It was disloyal to score goals behind the adversary's back."
The one thing that World Cup 2006 should convince lovers of soccer is, it is high time to bring a change in the rules.
I started a comment to reply to SteveA’s post on “A Response,” but I like Shourin’s idea of compiling something that we may want to send along to the “Powers That Be.”
I will take a slightly different approach to this: let’s talk about what changes are easy, not so easy and “no way.” For example, the easiest change to make is allowing dual or multiple referees. (My preference would be two on the field and one video official.) I say this is “easy” because the change is in the interest of a better, fairer game. Tough to argue with “better and fairer” natch?
Video replay is also an “easy” change to make for the same reason. I would propose that the video replay CANNOT make a call, but can be consulted on a difficult call if the referee on the field feels it is necessary. The consultation does not have to last very long.
In the “not so easy” category fall the substitution changes; time-outs and “sin bin.” Of these, IMAO, the penalty box concept has the most opportunity to change the game, though its impact would be enhanced with a freer flowing substitution scheme. I consider these strategic changes because it alters the way a coach will (or should) approach the game. Football is ripe for one of these, but maybe only one.
The “no way” category includes changes to the number of players, size of the goals; the ball or the offside rule. (I apologize to SteveA if I have put an ‘s’ at the end, I assure you that this was laziness, not ignorance, though I possess each in abundance.) My feeling is to ignore these for another day.
Rather then re-hash arguments, what would be everyone’s Top 3 changes? No order necessary.
Mine: multiple referees; a consultative video replay referee; and a penalty box. Thoughts.
Now that Scolari has turned down the manager's job, the question is who? Will it be Zagalo? (I hope not!)
My choice is Zico. Perhaps he's not totally ready for the pressure. But one thing I know: Zico will have Brazil playing the beautiful game. He's a Tele Santana protege.
C'mon Brazil, give Zico a chance!
I'm sure Euler will let us know what he thinks in the days and weeks ahead. Welcome aboard!
Hi, I'm Euler and I was very glad to be invited to blog here at the SoccerBlog. I was writing for Brazil at the great WorldCupBlog and after the Brazilian failure I took myself on a little vacation to drown my sorrows in Arraial do Cabo’s amazing beaches. Now my mind is clear again and I hope to bring interesting issues from Brazil to this blog.
I am a Carioca (born in the city of Rio de Janeiro - Brazil) and I love to live in this city. We have beaches, caipirinhas, sunny days and very beautiful women everywhere. Last year I was playing soccer (aka football) on a weekly basis as a defender but I scored some goals too. Very amateur level, of course.
This year Brazil lost the World Cup. I say ‘lost’ because we had it since 2002, of course. Other nations will say ‘we didn’t win’ but we Brazilians really had to give away the trophy. We got a little spoiled after being in the final match for so long (1994-2002). This year our ‘European superstars’ didn’t dedicate themselves as much as any Brazilian would expect. They completely forgot how it is like to live here in a country so full of social problems. Most of those guys grew up in poor neighborhoods where the only moments of joy are felt when your local team wins and mainly when Brazil wins. That is our identity in the planet: carnival and soccer. The beautiful game is our representative to the world, so when you wear that canary jersey you better know that you are carrying our whole nation on your shoulders.
Of course we have Olympic medals too. Our volley team is the best in the world and that’s great, but we don’t care that much about the Olympic Games. We breathe soccer! By the way, my local team Flamengo is going to play the Copa do Brasil final against archrival Vasco next Wednesdays (19 and 26). The winner of this fast tournament is automatically granted into the Copa Libertadores da América (the south-American interclub championship). Flamengo only won this championship once, unfortunately. In recent years all our best players are sold to European teams before they can win titles around here but we are always hopeful to win outside Brazil too.
Here is an example of what I just said, an old article in the Economist site:
“Flamengo hired Claudio Zohar, a young businessman, to come up with a new strategy. Mr Zohar explains that he aims to get Flamengo back to the point where it can hold on to its best players — people like Zico, the star of the Brazilian team of the 1980s who played for Flamengo for over a decade. That would never happen now, but Mr Zohar reckons that hanging on to your top players is a crucial part of building up your brand.”
The article is from 2002… until now it’s not happening. I’ll keep my fingers crossed!
The World Cup win for Italy means many things to that country. A morale booster to citizens who are dismayed and disgusted at the match fixing scandal in the Serie and want the league to be cleaned up. The victory has thrown a lifeline to Romano Prodi's fragile coalition government. It has also probably taken away a potentially nasty backbiting fight between Silvio Berlusconi and his Forza Italia members with the center-left Prodi government, who see the Serie investgation as being motivated by gotcha politics.
However, there is also the good news that the World Cup actually increases the winner's GDP by .7%. This comes from a study done by ABN Amro analysts. JP Morgan estimates that consumption in countries that won the World Cup rose more than the EU averages. Italy's GDP is estimated at an anemic 1.5% and it brings up the rear in the EU along with France and Germany. Retail sales and Industrial production also lag behind most EU countries. So this is good news for a stagnant economy.
From the Economist, Jul 15th 2006 (Subscription needed).
Man Utd - Results 2005
Total turnover £157m
Pre-tax profit £11
Matchday revenue £66
TV revenue £48m
Wage bill £77m
Last week it emerged that the Glazer family, United's American owners, are in talks to borrow up to £500m against the value of future ticket receipts to pay off the debts they acquired during their controversial £800m purchase of the club just over a year ago.
£500m on ticket receipts! This is twice as much as Arsenal's ticket revenues and the Gunners have borrowed money for the new Emirates stadium on the strength of those ticket sales. They have also impressed financial institutions into giving the Gunners a good interest rate for their asset backed bonds of 5.28%.
The Glazers owe £265m to JP Morgan, secured against the club's assets, and - most pressing of all - £275m to three US hedge funds, at a short-term rate of up to 20 per cent. For anxiuos supporters of the club, it could mean 25 years of paying of the debt with a huge principal upfront.
This is a big reason that Man U is falling short in recruting the big names in international soccer. They have spent £60m less this summer than arch-rival Chelsea, whose purchases of Michael Ballack and Andriy Shevchenko were financed by the bottomless resources of Roman Abramovich, billionaire owner of the London club.
Ticket revenues are not the most assured way of generating revenue. In fact, a lot of Mancusians have turned their back on the club and are supporting their own local club, called FC United of Manchester, in a division 10 places removed from the EPL. The tickets cost £7, you can eat fish and chips, drink beer, and segue into obscenity laden tirades against the other team. The plumber who fixes your toilets is the likely to be the club goalkeeper. You can take him out to the pub for a beer or two and give him tips on how to stop PKs. Imagine doing that with Edwin van Der Saar!
More on Man U and its finances
Here are two cautionary tales:
The club raised £60m six years ago through mortgaging its future gate receipts over a 25-year period. This contributed to a massive debt stockpile, and when heavy spending on players failed to secure Champions League qualification, the club struggled to meet its debt repayments.
The East Midlands club borrowed £28m in a securitisation, saddling itself with about £2.5m of repayments a year. But then it was relegated in 2001. The stadium it had raised the money to build hosts the likes of Plymouth Argyle and Burnley, rather than Man U and Arsenal, as it had hoped.
Agents close to Vieira, whose club Juventus have been relegated to Serie B as part of Italy's far-reaching corruption investigation, said last night that talks between the parties are under way, with the proposed deal 'very much a live situation'. Read here >>
If this works out the Red Devils and the Gooners could have Vieira and Thierry Henry squaring off when the EPL season gets underway. Will Vieira be received at Highbury/ El- Emirates Stadium with the love and affection while playing for Arsenal?
Check out John Stevanja's site: www.keeper-skool.com.
If you're remotely interested in getting in shape, or learning more about the fine art of goalkeeping, this is a great, straight-talking, no-nonsense site for goalies and fitness fanatics in general.
A sample of his posts:
- Be An Egg Head...For Proteins Sake!
- Worst Goalkeeper Ever Drives Debate At digg
- Protein Hype: Do You Really Need It?
- Buffon Wins World Cup 2006 Best Goalkeeper
- Why Goalkeeper Fitness Is So Different
- Don't Blame The Ref: They Are Human Too!
- Forza Italia: World Cup 2006 Champions
- Strength Training = Better Soccer
- Healthy Fats From Fruit?
Stevanja's been around the block:
- Sydney United Representative (Australian Premier League) (1995-97)
- Dinamo Zagreb [Croatia] Juniors (1995-96)
- Represented Australia in the Kvarnerska Riviera Tournament (Croatia) (1996)
- NSW (District) schoolboy representative, selected for Australian schoolboys (1996)
- Marconi Representative (Australian Premier League) (1998-99)
- Sutton United FC (Southern Nationwide Conference)[Training] (2004)
- Bury FC (English Premiership Division 2)[Assessment & Trial] (2004)
- Dulwich Hill (NSW Winter Super League) (2005)
And here's what he says about his qualifications:
"I am a fully qualified Fitness Instructor, with international certification from FISAF. There is the link. This is what I have dedicated my blog to. Scientific principles that adhere to the art of goal keeping. You might not think this, but we as goalkeepers are a very unique breed. Therefore, we deserve very specific and unique advice on how to excel in our position."
Steve McLaren: Steve
Sven Goran Erickson: Sven
Steve: Sir, Rooney just stamped on Carvalho's goolies
Sven: With the left or the right metatarsal? Quick, which one?
Steve: The left one.
Sven: Good, those goolies can hurt those poor toesies like the damnation. Don't want that ogre, Ferguson busting my goolies.
Steve: Sir, SIr, there seems to...... (cell phone rings)
Sven (fishes cell phone out of pocket): Wait a minnit.
Yes, Nancy.... yeah... yeah... don't forget the bratwurst. Got that. I suppose any supermarket will have it. Oh! That bratwurst. Naughty girl. He he he he he he he he he he he. Tooodle-ums. Got a damn match to catch.
Sven: Where were we?
Steve: Sir, they've sent Rooney off.
Sven: Wait a minnit! Is this the same game.
Steve: He pushed Ronaldo with some force, sir.
Sven: Rooney did that? Pushed fat Ronaldo. What do we do now?
Steve: Cristiano Ronaldo.
Sven: Wait a minnit. Aren't we playing Brazil in the finals?
Steve: No sir, this is the quarters and we're playing Portugal.
Sven: But we're supposed to be playing Brazil in the finals. Terry Butcher said so. And The Mirror. Ladbrokes too.
(Brings his voice down to a whisper). I do have money on the frogs though. But what now?
Sven (light dawning): Crouching Peter, Airborne Lions. Brilliant!
Steve: Well yes. We did that against Paraguay, and Trinidad, and Sweden, and Ecuador. The 4-5-1, remember sir?
Sven: 4-5-1. I like that. Reminds me of a song. Syd Barrett?
Steve (stiffly): It was before my time.
Sven: Really. Look Steve, I really don't want a song to get in the way. We still have Lampard and Gerrard on the field, don't we?
Steve: Yes, and they don't appear to know what they're doing.
Sven: That's the cunning plan. Lampard softens them up with the heavy artillery. While Gerrard slips one in the fusillade.
Steve: You can't do it with one ball, sir.
Sven: I should have never used fusillade. Barrage. Is that better.
Steve (stiffly): Are you implying I never got an education?
Sven: Here we go again. I don't care whether you went to Wrexham Poly. Does Lampard look good blasting the ball?
Steve: Yes, but his mechanics are a bit off. Maybe we should get Theo.
Steve: Walcott, sir.
Sven: Ah! The bloke who sits at the end of the bench, looking like a... looking like a....
Steve (helpfully): Hood ornament.
Sven (frowns): Is that a racial slur? There are laws back home for such things. (whispers). Just because he does'nt look like you and me.
Steve (stiffly): 'Tis a figure of speech, sir.
Sven: OK. Don't go Oxford on me now, not when we have a match on.
Steve: Well sir, we did leave out Darren Bent and Jermaine Defoe for him.
Sven: Well Steve, that is because the tabloids had me down as a milquetoast. I wanted to thumb my nose at them. Remember?
Steve: Becks just left. He is weeping on the stands.
Sven: I blame Julius Ceaser. These 34 year olds, what don't they want? I like Nancy but give me Posh anytime (gets lost in a reverie).
Sven: What. Is it important?
Steve: Sir, the match is over. We lost on penalty kicks.
Sven: Why don't they tell me these things? Isn't this the age of the information super highway. Where was the Daily Mail on this one?
Steve: I dunno. But it was a pleasure serving under you, sir. I did learn a lot. Honest to goodness, I did. On my mother. What are you doing, sir?
Sven: What do you think I am doing?
Steve: It looks like.... it looks like... like...like.... you are shoving your head up your arse, sir.
Sven: Yes, Steve. I am preparing for the next season. Wherever that maybe. Saudi Arabia, Mali, maybe even the Aleutian Islands.
Arjen "ball hog" Robben; Fabio "diver" Grosso; Frank "miss by a mile" Lampard
Cristiano "rooney red card " Ronaldo; Johny "poor sportsman" Heitinga; Zinedine "headbutt" Zidane
"van Bommel" Figo; Daniel "hatchetman" De Rossi; Marco "racist" Materazzi
Mateja"decapitate" Kezman; Thierry "flopper" Henry; Zelko "fumblehands" Kalac
Disagree with the ones listed here? List more?
With Chelsea and Arsenal stealing most of the top rated international stars, Man U' star attracting top drawer talent is on the wane. Ruud Van Nistelrooy is probably headed out the door, with negotiations with Real and Bayern Munich. Man U wants to desperately keep Cristiano Ronaldo, Sir Alex's blue eyed boy. But apparently, this love is the unrequited sort. Ronaldo wants out and has wanted out for about 10 months. He is interested in moving to La Liga, preferably Real.
The only player of note that Man U has been able to entice is Michael Carrick from Tottenham. This seems small potatoes compared to the signing of stars like Michael Ballack and Andriy Shevchenko with Chelsea and Tomas Rosicky with Arsenal.
The Serie scandal could not have been more opportune. Most of the Juventus players are ready to jump ship. We could see Patrick Vieira back in the EPL playing for Man U against his former team Arsenal. Fabio Cannavaro has left for Real along with his coach, Fabio Capello, now Real's head coach. If Ruud is on his way out, then Man U could make an offer for Zlatan Ibrahamovic. Man U's midfield has some aging stars like Paul Scholes. Maybe Sir Alex would like to blow up some of Malcolm Glazer's money on Mauro Camoranesi or even Gianluca Zambrotta.
Having Giuseppe Rossi in the Man U squad might induce some of the Bianconeri that England can be a country that they can take a liking to. After all the Romans must have seen something they liked many centuries ago. Julius Ceaser with his Roman army made the initial foray into the British Isles around 55 BC before Claudius decided that England was a good investment and overran parts of the Isles in 43 AD.
This time the players from Juventus, Lazio, and Fiorentina might be welcomed with open arms and unlimited checkbooks. Hadrian's wall might have been built to keep the marauding English tribes out but that was before soccer was discovered.
Sometimes even philosophers go nuts when it comes to soccer. Just ask Camus.
Here's the "essay" everyone's talking about:
Zidane: The French Hero who was, ultimately, just a Man.
BY BERNARD-HENRI LEVY
Tuesday, July 11, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
PARIS--Here is one of the greatest players of all time, a legend, a myth for the entire planet, and universally acclaimed. Here is a champion who, in front of two billion people, was putting the final touches on one of the most extraordinary sagas in soccer's history.
Here is a man of providence, a savior, who was sought out, like Achilles in his tent of grudge and rage, because he was believed to be the only one who could avert his countrymen's fated decline. Better yet, he's a super-Achilles who--unlike Homer's--did not wait for an Agamemnon (in the guise of coach Raymond Domenech) to come begging him to re-enlist; rather, he decided himself, spontaneously, after having "heard" a voice calling him, to come back from his Spanish exile and--putting his luminous armor back on, and flanked by his faithful Myrmidons (Makelele, Vieira, Thuram)--reverse the new Achaeans' ill fortune and allow them to successfully pull together.
And then this valiant knight who is a hair's breadth from victory and just minutes from the end of a historic match (and of a career that will carry him into the Pantheon of stadium-gods after Pelé, Platini and Maradona); this giant who, like the Titans of the ancient world, has known Glory, then Exile, then Return and Redemption; this redeemer, this blue angel dressed in white, who had only the very last steps to scale to enter Olympus for good, commits a crazy incomprehensible act that amounts to disqualification from the soccer ritual--the final image of him that will go down in history and, in lieu of apotheosis, will cast him into hell.
No one knows, as I write, what actually happened on the field of Berlin's Olympic Stadium.
No one knows what the Italian, Marco Materazzi, did or said (in the 111th minute of a match that this hero had dominated with all his grace) to reawaken in him those old demons of a kid from the streets of Marseilles, the very demons that soccer's code of honor, its ethic, its aesthetic, are made to quell.
Even if we knew why; even if we knew for certain that the Italian insulted him, or cursed his mother, father, brothers, sister; even if we got hold of the black box of those 20 seconds that saw the champion destroy in a flash his legend that is a mix of secret king, a Dostoyevskian sweet man, the ideal Beur son-in-law, future mayor of Marseilles and, last but not least, the charismatic captain leading his troops to consecration; even if we knew the whole story, this suicide would be as all ordinary suicides are; no reason in the world explains the desperate act of a man--no provocation, no nasty remark, will ever tell us why the planetary icon that Zinedine Zidane had become, a man more admired than the Pope, the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela put together, a demigod, a chosen one, this great priest-by-consensus of the new religion and the new empire in the making, chose to explode right there, rather than wait a few minutes to settle the quarrel on the sidelines.
No. The truth is that it is perhaps not so easy to stay in the skin of an icon, demigod, hero, legend.
The only plausible explanation for so bizarrely scuttling everything--which, remember, let a lot of time go by (the 20 long seconds following the Italian Machiavelli's undoubtedly calculated outrage) in order to concentrate itself into the outburst of a player who was out of breath and stupidly losing control of his nerves--the only explanation is that there was in this man a kind of recoil, an ultimate inner revolt, against the living parabola, the stupid statue, the beatified monument, that the era had transformed him into over these past few months.
The man's insurrection against the saint. A refusal of the halo that had been put on his head and that he then, quite logically, pulverized with a head-butt, as though saying: I am a living being not a fetish; a man of flesh and blood and passion, not this idiotic empty hologram, this guru, this universal psychoanalyst, natural child of Abbé Pierre and Sister Emanuelle, which soccer-mania was trying to turn me into.
It was as though he were repeating, in parody, the title of one of the very great books of the last century, before the triumph of this liturgy of the body, performance and commodity: Ecce Homo, This is a Man. Yes, a man, a true man, not one of these absurd monsters or synthetic stars who are made by the money of brand names in combination with the sighs of the globalized crowd.
Achilles had his heel. Zidane will have had his--this magnificent and rebellious head that brought him, suddenly, back into the ranks of his human brothers.
Mr. Lévy is the author of "American Vertigo" (Random House, 2006). This piece was translated from the original French by Hélène Brenkman.
and AC Milan survives, but loses 15 points and is kicked out of the Champions League.
Juventus were also deducted 30 points from their total for next season and stripped of their last two league titles.
Lazio and Fiorentina were also relegated to Serie B and penalised seven points and 12 points respectively.
"I don't know if I'm going to stay with Juventus..." that's what Azzuri goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said before Sunday's World Cup final.
In the end, Arena was almost as bad as the Brazilian coach (see previous post).
U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati:
"Bruce Arena's success on the field for the United States is unprecedented. But it is more than just the results he has achieved on the field. Simply said, no one has done more to lift the stature and respect of our men's team worldwide. We appreciate Bruce's years of service to U.S. Soccer, and as we move forward we will be looking for someone to build on the success he has established for our men's program and our organization."
So who are we going to call? Klinsmann? Scolari? Lippi? Van Basten?
Let's get someone who's actually coached a winning international squad!
Let's not hire Sven. Or some god-awful baseball commentator!
Alex Bellos writing for the Financial Times tells us:
Instead of basing the team around the top players’ strengths, Parreira’s solution was to try to fit in as many of the stars as he could. In order to do this, he had created the so-called “magic quartet” of Ronaldo, Adriano, Ronaldinho and Kaká.
Ronaldinho, who has won Fifa’s World Player of the Year twice in a row playing as a forward for Barcelona, was given a role further back where his duties included marking. Kaká, who is positioned directly behind the two strikers at AC Milan, was moved to the right. Parreira’s greatest mistake was that he did not find a way for his most talented players to play the way they do at their clubs.
Indeed, the whole concept of the magic quartet was based on a fallacy. This was the formation that brought Brazil success in last year’s Confederations Cup. Yet in that competition the foursome included Robinho instead of Ronaldo. In Brazil’s best performance in the World Cup qualifiers, against Chile, Ronaldinho was absent and Robinho took his place.
He's right. Parreira tried to piece his team together like LEGO blocks. Untested, inexperienced, and ultimately, inneffective. What a disaster.
Do you remember the World Cup when the Brazilian team spent most of their practice time playing water-polo? I believe they won. Maybe it was 1994 or 2002? Gotta get that team spirit going, or else!
Freddy Adu scores the first goal as DC United thrashes Celtic. Yes, DC is playing in mid-season form, and Celtic is still in pre-season, but what I get is that Adu is ready to take his game up a level in Europe.
Go Adu - don't waste any more time in the MLS.
Roberto Donadoni- Azzuris new coach
With Marcelo Lippi stepping down, the job at the helm has gone to Livorno's manager, Roberto Donadoni. He is a former AC Milan player who won 63 caps playing for Italy and was part of the 1990 and 1994 World Cup squads.
Cristiano Ronaldo is not going anywhere. Man U is not willing to let him go. So all his talk about going to Real just came to an end. More interestingly, is what Sir Alex Ferguson is going to do with his players. He has a tough task at hand and he will have to talk to his men in the trenches, the players that make Man U tick. He has the Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo spat in this World Cup to smooth over. Rooney might have these urges to tear Ronaldo a new one from time to time. Ruud van Nistelrroy and Crisitiano Ronaldo have been jawing back and forth the last season about each one's loss of form. An insensitive Nistelrooy told Ronaldo to talk to his dad. This upset Ronaldo as he lost his father last September.
Alex Ferguson better get a shrink to talk to these guys fast. Arsenal has added Tomas Rosicky to their squad and Chelsea are even more threatening with Michael Ballack and Andrei Shevchenko to play this season.
Marcelo Lippi might be the right person to help Sir Alex in this endeavor if the rumors of him joining Man U as his assistant turn out to be true.
The next generation of soccer players, Team USA
Tim Howard (GK) Manchester United
Jonathan Spector (D) Charlton Athletic
Jay DeMerit (D) Watford
Oguchi Onyewu (D) Standard Leige
Bobby Convey (M) Reading
Clint Dempsey (M) New England Revolution
DaMarcus Beasley (M) PSV Eindhoven
Alecko Eskandrian (F) DC United
Eddie Johnson (F) Kansas City
He could even persuade Freddy Adu to stay.
If Klinsi comes on as US coach, then he will have a bunch of very young and talented players to work with, ready to make their mark on US Soccer. We might be able to to do what this overhyped US team failed to do this World Cup; make ourselves respectable in the world of soccer just in time for South Africa 2010. With Klinsi around, the US team that often looked lost when they got the ball this World Cup, will know how to attack. We will definitely see more goals than the one scored by Clint Demspey.
This World Cup saw goals at a premium (2.3 goals/ match), a record number of yellow and red cards, and diving as a universal disease. Even the Africans tried their luck at selling it to the referees and succeeded. Pimpong flopped when Onyewu barely touched him, and Marcus Merk bought it in the Ghana vs USA match. Steven Appiah scored the PK and sent the US home. Much of these dives and flops happen because that first goal is so important. It overwhlemingly favors that team about 90% of the times. The 5-4-1 formation stifles any attack unless it happens to be the Serbia and Montenegro defence. Chances of scoring are now far and few in between. The soccer player of today not only has to learn his soccer skills but he is also a lawyer learning how to bamboozle the jury or in this case the judge into believing that his client has been victimized. There is a great video of Cristiano Ronaldo diving onto the ground and while doing so he turns to look at the referee with stricken eyes. He was virtually begging the referee for a foul. It was so pathetic. Ronaldo scored one goal through a PK for all that fancy footwork.
So lets see what we can do. In many matches we noticed that the pace considerably picked up when the team lost a player due to a red card. In fact, the soccer seems to become far more free flowing. Portugal picked up after Costinha was booted out in the Netherlands game. The same happened for Netherlands when von Bronckhorst was evicted. For long spells the same happened in the Italy vs the US game when De Rossi was chucked out. The US looked good when Larrionda decided that he wanted to see Bocanegra's back. The reason was that every player was forced to give up the conventional striker-midfield- defender role and play something close to total football. The midfield was less clogged up and there were more opportunities to break free.
> So let us reduce the number of players. Let us go one better. There should be nine per side. This means that the players will have to be protean. They have their strengths be it on defence or attack or controlling the flow of play but they can switch to any mode on contingency. Having a 4-3-1 does not sound so bad because it means that we can be versatile with more space in the middle with more overlapping. Imagine what a Riquelme could have done with that space?
> To offset fatigue, the number of substitutions should increase. In fact, there should be no limits to substitutions. It has to be a dynamic flow and go. You can send in or off three at a time. In fact, Beckham who disappears for 89 minutes in the game could be brought on in free kick or corner kick situations. This is absolutely tenable because Beckham very rarely creates free or corner kick situations. Having Beckham collapse into tears was so painful to watch. Here was a player who did not understand why he had to play 90 minutes of a game. You could easily bring him on for a couple of minutes and he would do as much damage the entire match. Meanwhile a flying Aaron Lennon would have created about 15 free kick situations.
> Let us get the coaches involved shall we? You often times see Big Phil Scolari getting up and gesturing impotently with his hands. He wants to give instructions but he can't. There are no time outs. A limit of two should suffice. The coach has seen enough that his attack is not going anywhere or that his defence is giving too much space to the attack and calls a timeout. Regroup and refocus. This takes care of those spells where soccer seems to be going nowhere. Or those Frank Lampard moments where the blasting of the ball has a negative correlation to the distance and the target it needs to achieve. Sven if he was the counselling type could have just said, "Steady on son, just do what you did at Chelsea."
> Video review. When Fabio Grosso dives and the Italians are awarded a penalty kick against the Socceroos, then Guus Hiddink is entitled to a review. Or when Malouda sold the foul to Horacio Elizondo against Materazzi that led to Zidane's PK, then Lippi should have been allowed to roll tape. Or a goal awarded when it was clearly an offside, eg., Thierry Henry against Brazil, when Viera was offside. Or when the expulsion of a player happens on a dubious foul. Two reviews per game. This is not too much to ask for.The problem is that the referee is the final arbitrator in soccer using very subjective measures which is truly frightening. He rarely consults with the other linesman, has no video review, and magnifies or misses fouls left, right, and center.
> A referee runs on an average 7 miles a match and he is usually a lot older than the players. If God could be anything it would be a soccer referee, having to be omniscient as well as omnipotent. Not possible in this day and age, when Theo Walcott can run the 100 meters in less than 11 seconds. We also cannot hope to have a PierLuigi Collina like personality that can bark something from one corner of the field and have every player run for their lives. So lets give the referee a running partner. Another referee. 18 players and two referees on the field sounds like a proportional amount. Of course, it would never do to have Graham Poll and Valentin Ivanov on the same field. Having 54 yellow cards and 15 red cards and still have 20 players on the field would stretch the limits of human imagination and Timothy Leary.
> Lets make the ball less aerodynamic. Everybody wants to join the space club. We had so many balls sailing over goal it seemed like every country's space program wanted to outdo the other. Leg strength has gone up not down. We have balls that shift weight if you look at them funny. Lets give soccer balls a reality check. The idea is not to hit home runs and look chagrined after that. The idea is to get the ball into the back of the net and look happy that your high school knowledge of Newtonian physics stood you in good stead. So Adidas lets get back to the ball of the 1970's. That is when the ball stuck to your feet and was not an unruly dog having to be yanked back by a leash all the time.
Thew, Tilam, SteveA, Dave, Christian, Zach, and the rest, please throw in your ideas too. Cruzeiro and Humberto, Brasil and Argentina will be back. Thew had mentioned the offside rule and maybe something could be done about it as in the present circumstances the rule seems quite contrived, and it should be changed to benefit the striker. If the pass beats man to man coverage, maybe it should be allowed? After all it is a test of reaction time and then a foot race. If you are quicker why should you suffer?
FIFA has opened its investigation into affaire le coup de boule. Zidane has been asked to submit a written statement by the 18th of July to FIFA and a copy given to Materazzi for his response. Meanwhile, Zidane through his press statements expressing contrition over the incident has been hailed by the French media. Most of FRance has forgiven Zizou and Jacques Chirac has seen an uptick in his favorability ratings with his support of Zizou.
Even his harshest critics, the sports daily L'Equipe that had lashed out at Zizou asking how he could explain his act to the millions of children all over the world, turned conciliatory in their coverage.
Marco Materazzi is just another player that seems to be determined that the game of soccer should take a dive or become the game of buttheads. For an example you should look no further than Paolo Di Canio and the Irreducibli at Lazio that worship him.
But the rot starts from the top. From coaches like Luis Aragones and Oleg Blokhin who make openly racist statements. To the far right politicos like Jean Marie Le Pen who complained that it was hard to see what was so "French" about the 1998 World Cup team. Some politicians in Italy were not merely content with winning the World Cup, as we find out with Roberto Calderoli, the former minister of reform and a member of the right wing National Alliance Party, who said that Italy had vanquished a French team made up of, "Negroes, Communists, and Muslims." The Jewish quarter in Rome was desecrated by Swastikas during post game festivities.
Individual soccer federations are the worst, preferring to turn a blind eye to the problem or at most issuing a piffling fine to the soccer player that just takes away what they earn in an hour. The player learns nothing from these slap on the wrist punitive measures. FIFA also has been notoriously lax about enforcing the non-discriminatory policies.
Hmmm. Marco Materazzi is a racist goon who formerly played for Everton, Paolo Di Canio is a racist goon, who had a stint with West Ham. What is with these players who play for the EPL and come back to Italia? Maybe they can't take the fish and chips or the English weather?
Dave Zirin has a nice article on the ugly side of soccer. Hat tip to Alamgir for drawing attention to this article.
Le Coup de Boule song - it is really catchy.
Zidane's headbutt is proving to be profitable for a small French recording company whose founding members penned the song Coup de Boule (The Headbutt) and set it to Caribbean French Zouk music. The song has become an overnight hit and is set to take over the holiday season. The song started as a parody to soothe French angst over the World Cup but it has proved to be lucrative for La Plage records.
Trying to get rid of the blues by putting it to song is always big business. Ask Berry Gordy and Motown.
Asked what exactly Materazzi had said, Zidane would only offer that it was "very personal and concerned his mother and his sister".
"You hear those things once and you try to walk away. That's what I wanted to do because I am retiring. You hear it a second time and then a third time ..."
You have 10 minutes left, a potential penalty shootout, and one of the best players in the world on the verge of retiring, and in a perfect situation to give France their second World Cup. Materazzi holds onto Zidane. They go back and forth a bit. You can see Zidane tugging at his shirt which goes nicely with the 'you can have my shirt after the match' remark to Materazzi. Zidane then runs past Materazzi, incident over. But you can see Materazzi keeps jawing away.Zidane turns around, in a visible reaction to something that Materazzi just said, and then he take a couple of steps forward and voila, the headbutt that changed this World Cup. Some commentators have said what Zizou did was premeditated assault. Nope. Not even close.
I think when the FIFA investigation is over, Materazzi will have a lot of explaining to do. Zidane does have a history of losing his cool and as pointed out most famously in 1998 WC in the group matches when he stepped on a supine Saudi Arabian player. But this was his last match in a glittering career with every opportunity for a French victory. Why would he throw it away? And as he says:
"Do you imagine that in a World Cup final like that with just 10 minutes to go to the end of my career, I am going to do something like that because it gives me pleasure?"
But somethings are more precious than a World Cup. Not too many. Your heritage, your family, and your raison d'etre. And I think we can safely say, that Zizou is a man with a great deal of pride about his ethnicity.
"I can't say I have any regrets about what I did because that would be like admitting that he had every reason to say what he said." said Zidane.
The Italians got the World Cup. But they lost a great deal in the process. Materazzi will not be one of the players affected by relegation because he plays for Inter Milan but he will come up at some point of time against Real Madrid, Villareal, and Bordeaux in the European Championships. I am sure the fans there have long memories.
Zidane did a classy act by focusing on his actions and asking forgiveness from the millions of kids who watch and worship him, including our friends Pedro and Jose, the kids who Adidas made famous. Marco Materazzi is not going to make their teams.
FIFA in its Article 55 of the non-discriminatory policy states in its the new provision in par. 4 stipulates that if any player, official or spectator behaving in a discriminatory or contemptuous manner can be attributed to a certain team, three points will automatically be deducted from that team for the first offence. In the case of a second offence, six points will be deducted, and after a further offence, the team will be relegated. In the case of matches played without points being awarded, the team in question will be disqualified.
If Materazzi is found gulity he will no doubt be suspended from playing in any league. What remains unclear is whether the whole Italian team could be sanctioned and stripped of their World Cup victory. I would imagine if the investigation takes a turn for the worse, the Italian Football Federation will start making statements expressing contrition and effectively try and take themselves out of the picture, indicating that it is the act of an individual racist player.
"Head-butting your rival or stamping on their nuts does not do the brand much good," says Nick Brown, group director of the advertising and PR agency Golley Slater.
So who's next?
According to the Guardian, the hottest brands in 2010 might be:
Freddy Adu USA, 17
Already bagged the biggest Major League Soccer sponsorship deal with Nike. Needs European move to exploit his image rights fully.
Cesc Fábregas, Spain, 19
Heir to Raúl as the golden boy of Spanish football, a position rarely held by a Catalan. A transfer to Real Madrid would bring other suitors to rival his Nike contract.
Lionel Messi, Argentina, 18
Maradona thinks he will be the best in the world by 2010. Signed £5m six-year Adidas contract in March.
Wayne Rooney, England, 20
Some question him as a role model, though that has not put off Nike, Coca-Cola, Asda and EA Sports.
Ronaldinho, Brazil, 26
Age cannot wither his income from Barcelona, Pepsi, Nike and Cadbury estimated at £33m over the next four years.
John Terry, England, 26
Sponsors flock to the captain but so far he has only King of Shaves to complement Umbro boot deal.
Cheer up Cruzeiro!
Our own Cruzeiro has gone into a deep depression apparently...
His answering machine plays a funeral dirge, and he isn't responding to consolation like "Brazil already has 5!" or "Next time you'll have a good coach" or "The good news is Ronaldo's going to New York"...
Take a look at this great photo-montage from Euler. He's getting over it :-)
Meanwhile - take a look at the best Brazilian team ever. Cheer up guys - you'll always have this. Have you ever seen a referee lifting up a player after a foul? Now you have!!
Just so everyone on SoccerBlog knows his history. This guy is no saint. In fact, he's a "terror" on the field.
Let's hear what Zz has to say.
It's always nice to leave on a high note.
Apparently Lippi is tired of hearing his name mentioned in connection with the match-fixing scandal involving four top Serie A clubs, including champions Juventus, with whom he won five Serie A titles and the 1996 Champions League in two stints as coach between 1994 and 2004.
Is there going to be a Juventus? That's the question!
Gotta hand it to the Germans. Their use of business intelligence in the World Cup should make companies sit up and think twice about competitive intelligence.
Klinsmann says he's burnt out, and decides to go back to California to hang out with his family. Apparently he's going to take a 6 month break.
According to Reuters, "all 23 players in Germany's squad, 93 percent of the public, according to opinion polls, and even some of Klinsmann's harshest critics had said they wanted him to continue"... what a turnaround!
Says Klinsi: "It was the most beautiful World Cup ever. We've created a new image of the Germans around the world." And he's right about that.
Even as Klinsmann proved his doubters wrong, there's no doubt he felt the pressure. Now he can walk away with his head held high. His replacement is his assistant, Joachim Loew, whose agreement runs to the end of the 2008 European Championship.
Soccerblog readers and fellow fans of the game. We await Zidane's statement on what happened on the field. Zidane is going to public with his side of the story on Canal Plus in the evening.
Having retired after the match, Zidane, 34, may feel uninhibited by Fifa's investigation and free to speak out. Theories have abounded over what defender Materazzi might have said to provoke such a furious reaction from Zidane.
The former Everton defender has conceded he made an offensive remark but Zidane is yet to give his version of events, although his agent has admitted the reaction was due to a "serious comment".
FIFA has launched an investigation into the whole sordid affair
From the Daily Mail:
Football was awash with competing theories, but with the help of an expert lip reader Sportsmail can reveal what triggered Zidane's attack.
Speaking in Italian, Materazzi grabbed his opponent as the ball ran away from them and told him: "Hold on, wait, that one's not for *****(dregs) like you."
Zidane's response was not visible, but as the players walked forward Materazzi said: "We all know you are the son of a terrorist whore." Just before the butt, he was seen saying: "So just f*** off."
Our lip-reader, who is employed in court cases as an expert witness, can understand foreign languages phonetically and the translatation was made with the aid of an Italian interpreter whose transcript supports Zidane's claim that Materazzi had made a 'very serious' comment.
Zidane still had the support of his defeated team-mates, however, and Chelsea's William Gallas said: "The Italians did everything they could to provoke Zidane. I can accept when the opposition wins nobly, but not this way. It's cheating, but that's the Italians. I want to smash Materazzi's face."
Last night the Italian offered a different version of events.
Materazzi: I didn't call him a terrorist
Materazzi admitted that he tweaked the France captain's nipple as they clashed in extra time. After which, it is alleged Zidane responded: "If you want my shirt so much, you can f****** have it after the game."
The Italian said that he then replied: "I'd rather have the shirt off your woman," a supposed reference to the Frenchman's wife Veronique.
Materazzi's agent Phil Smith said: "There was no way Marco meant to cause such a reaction.
"It was just a typical innocuous football insult commonplace in every game. Marco is adamant he didn't call Zidane a terrorist.
"They know each other well from games between Juventus and Inter Milan and Marco just wouldn't want to wind up Zidane to the extent of getting him sent off."
Materazzi, 32, told Gazetta dello Sport: "I held his shirt for a few seconds only, then he turned to me and talked to me, jeering.
"He looked at me with a huge arrogance and said, 'If you really want my shirt I'll give it to you afterwards'. I replied with an insult, that's true."
Materazzi has not elaborated but he has denied, however, some of the more vile insults referring to his wife or sister or calling him a terrorist.
"It was one of those insults you're told dozens of times and that you often let fall on a pitch," Materazzi said.
"I did not call him a terrorist. I am not a cultured person and I don't even know what as Islamist terrorist is."
He added: "For me the mother is sacred, you know that."
Right. Materazzi plays for AC Milan, not exactly a club in a city in the back of beyond. The club's owner, Silvio Berlusconi as Italy's PM was responsible for sending troops to Iraq to support the "war against terrorism'. I am sure while Materazzi was playing for AC, the name Abu Musaib Al-Zarqawi must have cropped up a thousand times, in the Italian press, and described as an Islamist terrorist ad nauseum. The Italians after the US and the Brits have suffered the most losses and injuries in Iraq. The war in Iraq was a huge deal and was responsible for Berlusconi losing the elections.
Materazzi's statements set himself up as the victim. The country bumpkin who knows nothing and plays in a national team that has no other player of a different color or religion. What does he know? Yes, and he is Italian and a mamma's boy, so why should he insult Zizou's mother? You know that they are sacred.
Yes, the Italians played good soccer. But the first thing that the Italians should do is to go to their mothers and dedicate this World Cup to them. They dived, they flopped, they pandered, they cajoled, they tantrummed, they threatened, and they insulted players, all in mamma's name.
If Materazzi is found guilty of racism, he should be barred from playing soccer in the Serie or any other league for a year. No fine or match suspensions will be enough. We can expect this sort of behavior from the knucklehead fans in La Liga, the Serie, the French League, or the Bundesliga but to expect it from a fellow player is unforgiveable.
Zambrotta, Materazzi, Grosso- we don't need no Luca Toni!
Four goals, an assist, and a foul that led to the matchwinning PK, and the match winner PK in the shootout against France. Per chance, is this the Italian midfield or attack that we are talking about? Is it Italy's new Paolo Rossi or Roberto Baggio? Nah, it is the Italian defence, the ones that gave the world the catenaccio. This team did not need a Paolo Rossi, Baggio, or Schillachi to remind us that the Italians have an attack.
The Italian defence scored four goals, each one as important as the other. They also set up Totti's PK against Oz. Presented Luca Toni with his second goal. And buried the nail in France's coffin in the finals. Fabio Cannavaro and Gianluigi Buffon were brilliant and the backbone of the defence. But when you talk about scoring goals, defenders don't really leap to your mind. Not these Italian defenders. Fabio Grosso, Marco Materazzi, and Gianluca Zambrotta decided that they had enough of seeing Buffon's face and wanted to take a real close look at the nose hairs of the opposing goalie.
Fabio Grosso: The defender whose foul in the Oz penalty box led to Totti's game winning PK. The Italians and the Socceroos looked like they were going to extra- time. Italy had exhausted all its substitutes and were playing a man down against the Aussies. Who knows what would have happened against a fitter Oz team? Grosso also scored the first goal against Germany in Paulo Rossi fashion after a Pirlo pass, just when the Italy- Germany match was seemingly to go to a penalty shootout. The Germans had won all four games on PK shootout and the Italians had lost all three. The odds were bad for the Azzurris till Grosso intervened. Grosso also scored the final PK goal in the penalty shootout that decided the World Cup for Italy against France.
Marco Materazzi: The defender who scored the first goal against the Czech Republic that got Italy through to the second round. Materazzi was also responsible for the foul against Florent Malouda that gave Zizou his PK against Italy in the final. But Materazzi made amends for it by scoring the equalizer through a great header of a Pirlo corner. And in one of the most infamous episodes of this WC, he was levelled by Zizou's headbutt after a series of nasty verbal exchanges, leading to Zizou's expulsion and France's defeat.
Gianluca Zambrotta: The defender who scored the first goal against the Ukraine that would have proved enough to get them to the semi-finals against Germany. He was not done yet and slid a neat little pass that saw Luca Toni putting the ball into the goal, scoring 3-0 for Italy over the Ukraine.
Impressive. You wonder why Italy even bothers with an attack, when it has it's defence to thank for helping them pull through all the defining matches by scoring goals and winning them the World Cup.
It may not be too premature to compare them to legends like Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Marco Tardelii, and Gaetano Scirea, who define Italian catenaccio but somehow these three have taken the doughty Italian defence to another level where they might be envied by the likes of Paolo Rossi and Roberto Baggio. We will remember Fabio Grosso, Marco Materazzi, and Gianluca Zambrotta for good reasons and bad reasons for a long time to come.
England's performance in one word
Sean Ingle: Dire.
Barry Glendenning: Unsurprising.
Paul Doyle: Kournikova
Mike Adamson: Wink
James Dart: Inevitable
Rob Smyth: Ikea.
Gemma Clarke: Lame
Georgina Turner: Rudderless
The best player: Fabio Cannavaro, Chris Birchall, Zinedine Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo
The worst player: Ronaldinho, David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Zeljko Kalac, Nikola Zigic
The best match: Most went for the Germany- Italy match although a few did go in for the Netherlands-Portugal slugfest.
"I find it offensive to see him poncing around with a large cigar in his mouth and acting like a very overweight cheerleader" - Terry Butcher lays into Diego Maradona for no apparent reason.
"My tournament might be over, but I still want that medal around my neck. I told Sven-Goran Eriksson that I would be back out for the World Cup final. I haven't given up hope of seeing him again on July 9" - exactly how much morphine was Michael Owen given after his knee injury?
"Over the years, there has been a small number of television people and discerning members of the public whose opinions I have listened to. They tell me this is my best World Cup ever" - BBC voice John Motson must be mixing in ever-decreasing circles these days.
"It's as much a lie that I'm fat as it must be that he drinks a lot" - Ronaldo responds after Brazil president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had demanded of the selecao's coach Carlos Alberto Parreira: "So, what is it? Is he fat or not?"
"I think there's every chance Wayne Rooney could go back to the Man United training ground and stick one on Cristiano Ronaldo" - Alan Shearer joins in the Portugal-bashing with his wholly objective BBC colleagues.
Marcelo Balboa and Dave O'Brien:
" A beautiful night at the Olympic Stadion, Berlin"
The two blathering idiots put on quite a show in the finals. The camera panned onto Jacques Chirac a few times for about 20 seconds each time. It did not pique the interest of O'Brien and Balboa who probably did not know who he was. They mercifully did not hazard a guess otherwise we would have been told that the Dalai Lama was in attendence and was hanging out at the behest of Alessandro Del Piero who has decided to take the eightfold path to nirvana.
I have no idea why ESPN ever got the brainwave to hire Dave O'Brien the play by play commentator of the Florida Marlins and the NY Mets, both baseball teams. His commentating has the feeling of a bunt that plops in front, the pitcher starts to run towards the ball, and the batter to first base, only to have it roll back over the line, and be declared a foul ball. A lot of extraneous crap that goes nowhere but leaves you with, "Whaa?"
Marcelo Balboa, the color commentator, found coaching easy while he was in the box. "You havta, you wanta, you needta." The most amazing part for him was how a team would attack after being scored upon and the defence of the opposing team would fall back on.... defending. Why they did that was a mystery to Balboa, as much as the missing link, and the unified theory. If they had only listened to Balboa, all 32 teams would have still been in contention.
But mercifully we do not have to listen to them anymore. And though the US lost, we can thank our lucky stars that they lost on a beautiful Nuremburg afternoon, courtesy Balboa and O'Brien. And as Balboa and O'Brien kept reminding us in the final that the only team that stole two points from the Azzurris was the US team. Which deconstructed means that we just kicked ass. Not.
So Zizou bowed out and his epitaph will read, "He was the greatest soccer player of his time except....... ". There should be no second guessing at all, he is still the greatest soccer player this generation has seen and we should count ourselves fortunate to see him at his best. He did what no other player did for France, win them them the World Cup and came close to winning them another. Platini, as great as he was could not manage it. Zidane was also at the vanguard of what we see as a transformational moment in French soccer with it's now taken for granted mutli-ethnic hue. His play in the 1998 final when he dismantled the Brazilians by his two stunning headers is what I remember him by. The PK that he took in this final against Italy where he beat a lunging Buffon with a delicately placed chip was as good as the goal by Esteban Cambiasso after the concerto by the Argentinians against the Serb- Montenegro team.
Zidane is a low key and private person. I do not know much about his personal life and I am sure a lot of us are equally clueless. I would like to think that he let his game define him unlike many of his other peers who seem to revel in the limelight off the field too. His retirement from soccer when he was worn out and injured, responding to Domenech's call for this World Cup, and then laeading the Les Bleus to the brink of success is by itself the story of this World Cup. We can count these type of extraordinary accomplishments in any field on our fingers.
Zizou was human and he showed that in the match against Italy. Yes, given his experience, maturity, and his level of play, it was a mindless foul. Yes, it was a foul that probably cost France the game. But can you say that Zizou gave it his all everytime he played for France. All 90 minutes and more. Absolutely. When I think of the players who were supposed to have made this World Cup theirs, Ronaldinho, Kaka, David Beckham, Juan Roman Riquelme, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Steven Gerrard, they are the ones that people should be shaking their heads at and wondering if they were wrong all along. For Ronaldinho, this World Cup was his coming out party, where he would finally vindicate all those comparisons to Pele and Maradona. Certainly, Beckham, whose World Cup career is over must be wondering about the legacy he has left behind. On the world's greatest stage he has always managed to come up short.
For a long time we felt that Maradona had tarnished his image fatally by mainlining cocaine and taking ephedrine which got him booted out of the 1994 US World Cup. But here we are still debating as to who was the greatest, Pele or Maradona? His two goals against England in the 1986 World Cup is still what we remember Maradona by. He is his country's most loved ambassador and the host of one of it's most popular TV talk shows. He was a fixture in this World Cup cheering on the Albiceleste, like Platini, like Beckenbauer, for their countries, and I am sure in the World Cups to come, we will also see Zizou proudly coming forth in support of the Les Bleus. He will not go gentle into that good night.
Like many of SoccerBlog contributors and readers, I have this overriding sense of disappointment in this year's Cup. Zidane's offing in the Final perfectly encapsulated it for me; this sense of "what the @^&*#?"
What was he thinking? Why did he do it? What did Materazzi say? (Zidane, afterall, was putting distance between the two, when he turned around and slammed him.) There many things about this Cup that were/are inexplicable to me: the refs; the dives; the US MNT and the 3 Lions in general to name a few.
But, sad to say, my biggest disappointment was the Champion. I like Italy, but I simply have a hard time feeling much joy in their victory. I would have much rather seen the Germans hoist the Cup. Or the Argentinians for that matter. I don't believe the best team won.
My list of memories are all about the disappointments. To Christian's list, I would add "coaching." Ultimately, I felt the level of coaching was a huge disappointment (I would note my general exception of the Dutch coaches and Klinsmann). Conservative formations; cronyism and excessive loyalty; a general lack of imagination seemed to be the common ingredient of the coaches. As a young player, I thought coaches were useless, but great coaches can unlock the talents of players and create a "team" out of a bunch of well paid prima donnas. There was little greatness evident on the sidelines this year.
UPDATE: Materazzi called Zizou a "terrorist"? Okay, Zidane is from Algeria, but I can't believe "nah, nah, you are a great, big, fat terrorist" set him off. Besides, Italians have more imagination then that.
This is the signature image of the World Cup. Hat tip to Dimitar Vesselinov for telling us about the "French version..."
We're back now, but only after missing the most important soccer event in the last four years. :-)
We were a victim of our own success. For some reason, our server went belly up just in time for the finals! We've chosen to see the humor in it though, and like Camus, we see the invisible hand of the absurd behind our travials.
The soccer gods must be crazy. What a World Cup - probably the lamest one in my memory.
Here are some of the themes we will remember from this cup:
- The Tragic Hero Zidane
- Italy's "Win by Any Means" strategy
- The Art of the Dive
- Referee Activism and the Red Card
- The Incredible Heaviness of Being Ronaldo
- The End of Jogo Bonito
- Ghana: The Hope of the Beautiful Game
- Sven and the Art of Metatarsal Maintenance
- The Continuing Fall of English Soccer
- The Benching of Lionel Messi
- The Unification of Modern Germany
- Klinsmann: Der Kaiser II
- The Joyful Soca Warriors
- The Slacker Nation: Holland
- USA: A Strategic Failure
Can you tell us what your memories were - SoccerBloggers?
We're going to continue with the site, but our focus now turns to the individual players and league play. Will Italy have a league? Will "Fat Boy" Ronaldo move to New York? Will Nigeria ever get its act together? Will India ever compete? Will Sepp Blatter stop being a sexist? That kind of thing...
In the next few days we'll dig deeper with our "post-tournament" analysis, complete with hand-wringing and "what might have been" diatribes.
So stay tuned, we're not going away. And thanks for visiting! Get involved.
The French colonies have given back to France and more when it comes to soccer.
Remember Jean Tigana of the famed 1982 and 1986 squads. Tigana was born in Bamako, Mali. WIth Michel Platini, Luis Fernandez, and Alain Giresse, they formed the 'magic diamond' midfield that nearly brought them the World Cup twice. The Germans outdid them in the semi-finals including the classic 1982 semi-final in which Germany beat Frence on PKs 5-4.
Over the years, French soccer has been defined by the contributions that immigrants from their colonies have have made. The 1998 World Cup winning squad had Marcel Desailly(Ghana), Lilian Thuram (Guadeloupe), Zinedine Zidane (Algeria), Thierry Henry (Guadeloupe), Christian Karambeu (New Caledonia).
Even immigrants from non-Francophone countries have left a distinct mark on French football. Raymond Kopa, one of France's alltime greats (in Pele's list of 125 greatest living players) who led the French to a third place finish in the 1958 World Cup was of Polish origin. The list also includes Bixente Lizarazu, Youri Djorkaeff, Luis Fernandez, and Roberto PIres.
This year's team is even more a kaleidoscope of diversity and multiethnicity
DF Jean-Alain Boumsong (Cameroun)
DF Pascal Chimbonda (Guadeloupe)
DF Éric Abidal (Martinique)
DF William Gallas (Guadeloupe)
DF Lilian Thuram (Guadeloupe)
MF Patrick Vieira (Senegal)
MF Alou Diarra (Senegal)
MF Claude Makélélé (Zaire)
MF Florent Malouda (French Guiana)
MF Vikash Dhorasoo (Mauritius)
MF Zinedine Zidane (captain) (Algeria)
FW Sidney Govou (Benin)
FW Sylvain Wiltord (Guadeloupe)
FW Thierry Henry (Guadeloupe)
FW Louis Saha (Guadeloupe)
FW David Trézéguet (Argentina)
FW Djibril Cisse (Cote D'Ivoire)
The only French origin players are Fabien Barthez, Gregory Coupet, Mickael Landreau, Gael Givet, Franck Ribery, and Mikael Silvestre.
In contrast, the only player in the Azzurris that can claim non-Italian ethnicity is Mauro Camoranesi, who is Argentian by birth.
Two great goals by Schweinsteiger that beat Ricardo all ends up and an own goal by Petit and Germany were cruising along 3-0 before a diving header from Nuno Gomes of a delectable cross by Figo got them a consolation goal. Schweinsteiger's goals reminded me of the Steven Gerrard goals when Liverpool beat West Ham in the FA cup final. Absolute rockets that stayed low and crashed into the net.
Germany can be proud of their showing. Very few at the beginning of the World Cup had given them a chance to get this far. Portugal had its best showing since the 3rd place finish in the 1966 World Cup.
Germany meets Portugal to decide the 3rd and 4th spot today in Stuttgart at 9:00 PM German time (3:00 PME EST)
Well, it is a game neverthless. I really don't know whether a change in digit makes all that much of a difference. This match is probably interesting because it has Oliver Khan in goal. And it is Luis Figo's last match before he retires from international soccer. Michael Ballack also moves onto Chelsea after this match. So this game will be one filled with nostalgia for both teams.
Jurgen Klinsmann and Luis Felipe Scolari might be coaching their last international with their teams. Klinsmann is hot property and is being sought by US Soccer. Big Phil might end up coaching the Brazilians now that Alberto Parriera and Mario Zagalo have effectively stuck a knife into what was Brazilian soccer.
Germany: Kahn, Jansen, Huth, Metzelder, Lahm, Schneider, Kehl, Frings, Schweinsteiger, Klose, Podolski.
Subs: Asamoah, Ballack, Borowski, Friedrich, Hanke, Hildebrand, Hitzlsperger, Lehmann, Mertesacker, Neuville, Nowotny, Odonkor.
Portugal: Ricardo, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Costa, Meira, Nuno Valente, Costinha, Maniche, Deco, Ronaldo, Pauleta, Simao.
Subs: Boa Morte, Caneira, Figo, Miguel, Nuno Gomes, Paulo Santos, Petit, Postiga, Quim, Tiago, Viana.
Referee: Toru Kamikawa (Japan)
That little ball of energy bounding around everywhere with the ball stuck to his leg, creating moments of panic in the opposing defences.That is Franck Ribery.
I am not sure if France would have gone this far without having Ribery on the team. Zizou, Vieira, Thuram, Makelele, Henry have all played their part in the success of Les Bleus but Ribery being the unknown quantity that he is, has been the successful X factor. A view echoed by Lilian Thuram.
"Franck is every defender's worst nightmare, always looking to hit them where it hurts and not giving them a moment's peace," teammate and defender Lilian Thuram said. "When teams are as well drilled as they are here in Germany, having a player like Franck in your side can make all the difference. There's no limit to what he can achieve in the game."
His playmaking abilites have caught the eye of no less a legend Pele
The WaPo has a profile on Ribery which makes for interesting reading. His facial scars are due to an automobile accident when he was two years going through the windshield. Ribery has been something of a rolling stone having already played with five clubs before settling down at Marseille.
Franck Ribery is Muslim and along with Zidane is a source of great pride in the Muslim and Arab community in France. Ribery recently got married and his wife Wahiba is of Moroccan descent.
The 23-year-old Ribery has stolen the limelight during France's opener in the World Cup against Switzerland when he was caught while raising his hands and supplicating to God as any other Muslims do.
"French Muslims feel that Ribery's supplication notice is a sign of dignity and honor for the French suburbanites, most of whom are of Muslim origin," Breze added.
Franck Ribery stats >>
Horacio Elizondo, from Argentina will take over the officiating duties of the World Cup finals between Italy and France. Elizondo was the one who sent off Rooney after he stepped on Carvalhos cojones. Chiza and Song, an Argentinian is always involved in England's misfortune ; )
Maybe Argentina is not in this World Cup anymore but we still have some representation in the form of Elizondo. Colombia's flag is being held high with Shakira leading the WC celebrations.
Bianconeri- the Juve block (Buffon, Cannavaro, Del Piero, Zambrotta, Camoranesi, Lippi)
The 1982 Enzo Bearzot squad had a core of Juventus players that were responsible for their success. Zoff, Gentile, Cabrini, Scirea, Tardelli and Rossi. Nicknamed the ‘Juve-block’, they formed the backbone of the Italian squad.
The 2006 squad has Juve players Buffon, Cannavaro, Camoranesi, Zambrotta, and Del Piero, who have been the pillars of this Italian squad. Marcelo Lippi was the coach of Juventus before taking over the Azzurris. And just like Dino Zoff was the captain of the 1982 squad and held aloft the World Cup, Fabio Cannavaro is hoping he can do the same tomorrow and raise the cup to the Berlin skies.
Marcelo Lippi- the coach of the tournament
Fabio Cannavaro- the defender of the tournament
Gianluigi Buffon- the goalkeeper of the tournament
Gianluca Zambrotta- one of the best defenders with an attacking flair. Remember the match against the Czech Republic where he was a one man demolition squad.
Mauro Camoranesi- a workhorse midfielder, dangerous down the flanks
Alessandro Del Piero- sublime ball skills, great vision, and lethal in the penalty box.
Read how Juventus fans are cheering on their heroes success in the World Cup mixed with a great deal of trepidation.
The referee clearly did not respond to Rooney's stamping on Carvalho's goolies. He reacted to Rooney shoving Ronaldo. Then Gary Neville got into it. Rooney got red-carded because of his shove. Ronaldo knew exactly what he was doing, he knows Rooney has a short fuse. The four players involved not coincidentally play for the EPL. Rooney, Ronaldo, Neville play for Man U and Carvalho for Chelsea. Tell me there is not a bit of history there.
Alan Shearer commentating," Rooney could go back to the Man U training grounds and stick one on Ronaldo."
Today Portugal play Germany. Ronaldo will get booed again. I hope so.
The 2006 World Cup is on record as one of the leanest in terms of goals scored, 139 in 62 matches heading to the final weekend, for an average 2.27 goals per match. The 1998 WC, produced 171 goals in 64 matches (2.7 goals/match) and the 2002 WC scored 161 goals in 64 matches (2.5 goals/match).
The trend is that goals are going to get harder to come by in future editions of the World Cup. Branko Milanovic postulates that the globalization of the soccer trade has introduced a parity in soccer through most of the national teams. Players migrating to the bigger European leagues have introduced their national teams to higher standards of soccer. A Didier Drogba or a Kolo Toure playing in the EPL can only benefit the Ivory Coast national team. Soccer being the global game also means that good coaches can be had for the right price to coach national teams. Of the 32 teams in WC 2006, 14 teams were coached by foreign coaches. The average winning margin among the top eight World Cup national teams has steadily decreased, from more than two goals in the 1950s, to about 1.5 goals in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, and only 0.88 goals in the 2002 World Cup. Globalization explains this narrowing of difference neatly.
Still globalization cannot explain the dearth of goals that began in the 1960's. In the 1962 and 1966 World Cups, 89 goals were scored in 32 matches (2.8 goals/ match). This was because the game of soccer transitioned from the more attack oriented 5-3-2 and 4-2-4 to the defensive 4-3-3 and then to the 4-4-2, most famously played by England in its 1966 World Cup win. The days of the wingers were over. The Italians had also perfected their version of 4-4-2 called catenaccio, that employed a deep defender called the libero whose main function was to reinforce the man to man defence of the other three defenders, as well as start a counterattack. The Germans employed this formation with Beckenbauer in 1974, whose speed, anticipation, and ball skills made him the perfect libero.
The trend towards an even more conservative attack as seen in many teams employing the 4-5-1 or the 5-4-1 in this World Cup means that opportunities to score goals have lessened even further. Bruce Arena used it for the US team and they were held goalless till the Ghana game. The only time that they looked like getting back to attack was when he had Brian McBride and Eddie Johnson as strikers.
The Dutch were the only exception using a 4-3-3 that would allow them to attack up front with Van Nistelrooy, Arjen Robben, and Robin Van Persie but for it to succed you have to have a speedy midfield that can utilize all that space to attack and to shore up the defence. Philip Cocu, Mark Van Bommel, and Wesley Sneijder were not really upto the mark. Their defense gave way too much space to the Portugese offense and Maniche capitalized on one of their defensive breakdowns.
How many crosses did we see go begging in this World Cup because teams would not commit players up front? Too innumerable to count.
Globalization is bringing a parity to the teams that would not have made it to the World Cup otherwise. Unfortunately, globalization is also making powerhouse teams play much more conservatively too, knowing fully well that on any given day, they can be upset by a Ghana or a Cote D'Ivoire or an Australia.
WIth free agency, NBA teams like the LA Clippers can improve and can keep their matches tight AND high scoring because the NBA has been extemely adaptive when faced with scoring shortfalls by introducing the 24 second shot violation, goaltending, and the 3 second holding rule, to help scoring and to keep the game going.
FIFA needs to change many of the rules to introduce a new level of dynamism and give about 2 years to implement it; in time for the qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup.
I think soccer players should play in the nude too and not just referees. There would be no more shirt tugging and short pulling. Ronaldo would have to be fit so that no one could latch onto his love handles plus he has to factor the future paucity of female companionship.
League teams would save on their laundry bill and paying Giorgio Armani ridiculous sums of money to design jerseys, allowing larger sums in tranfer fees. You could merchandise body paint/ tattoos. You know, go to the Arsenal gear shop at Highbury (well, they have new digs now) and buy the Cesc Fabregas body paint. Washable too. And only a quid a quart.
Plus, it would stop diving. The last thing you want is the camera to zone in on your butt while upended and display it to the world. There is a limit to free speech. And you don't want NC-17 ratings for soccer games. It is not good for business having to schedule games after 10:00 PM in the night. Do you know where your children are?
You could go to the sideline and spritz yourself with cold water and towel off. Nice and refreshing. Come back and play with "fresh legs." (a Balboa-ism).
And then the biggest turn off. There wouldn't be any exchange of sweaty and stinky jerseys after the games. Thank goodness!
The game only improves.
Sepp Blatter has revealed measures that could improve the efficiency of referees at World Cup 2010 in South Africa.
The measures will be discussed at the International Board autumn meeting in Zurich. The most revolutionary is the possible introduction of the two-referee system.Some of the changes envisaged are....
• The referees will operate diagonally opposite each other on the outside section of each half, overlapping where necessary into the other half, 15-20 yards inside touchline.
• This more than halves physical stress, as referees currently run up to seven miles.
• The two views of any incident from 180-degree angles eliminate the "blind side". Statistics reveal many fewer fouls because players are aware of easier detection.
• There is a huge psychological factor: players and crowd cannot be angry with two men in the way they can demonise one.
• The referee is removed from the central midfield area, where he is often in the way.
• At free kicks, each end of the free kick is controlled by one referee.
• Statistics show the ball remains in play more and players subconsciously veer away from referees on the outer edge of the field.
• Though assistant referees are retained, each referee is more often able to give instant whistle on offside decisions.
And while FIFA is dicussing the pro's and cons of a new system a writer for the Irish Sunday Independant has a very simple and even more revolutionary solution to the referee problem.Less clothing for refs !
The 2006 World Cup: Just another version of Euro 2006.
FIFA should now seriously start looking for World Cup hosts outside of Europe on a consistent basis. Japan, South Korea, and now South Africa is a good start. It is bad enough that this World Cup has turned out to be a larger version of Euro 2006, with just more viewers and lots of beer consumed. Now FIFA's has announced its World Cup squad with no representation from Africa, Asia, and Central America. The squad is overwhelmingly from the semi-finalists, i.e., it is Western European.
Fifa's World Cup squad
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy), Jens Lehmann (Germany), Ricardo (Portugal)
Defenders: Roberto Ayala (Argentina), John Terry (England), Lilian Thuram (France), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Fabio Cannavaro (Italy), Gianluca Zambrotta (Italy), Ricardo Carvalho (Portugal)
Midfielders: Ze Roberto (Brazil), Patrick Vieira (France), Zinedine Zidane (France), Michael Ballack (Germany), Andrea Pirlo (Italy), Gennaro Gattuso (Italy), Luis Figo (Portugal), Maniche (Portugal)
Strikers: Hernan Crespo (Argentina), Thierry Henry (France), Miroslav Klose (Germany), Francesco Totti (Italy), Luca Toni (Italy)
Michael Ballack? You can't put a player for what he could have done, past reputation, good looks, or a bow to Blatter. Ballack was a non-entity as far as this World Cup was concerned. One assist and no goals. Where is Steven Appiah? He got Ghana out from one of the toughest groups. Without Michael Essien, Appiah took the fight to Brazil and made them sweat. They were let down by some shoddy refereeing and poor shooting. Even Sulley Muntari has a better case than Ballack. How could they not include Juan Roman Riquelme?
Luca Toni? Hernan Crespo? If Luca Toni can get in, then so could Fabio Grosso, and he is a defender. FIFA also overlooked Augustin Delgado, getting Ecuador out of the first round by scoring goals and assisting in Carlos Tenorio's strike. Or even Carlos Tenorio himself. Paraguay's Nelson Valdes, was just a beast for his team.
Ivory Coast was in the Group of Death and was led by Didier Drogba, playing tough against Argentina and Netherlands. He showed he could play 90+ minutes compared to Luca Toni and Hernan Crespo. Toni was only good as his service and Crespo was usually winded by the second half.
In fact, the only players who locked their position in the World Cup squad, are the goalkeepers, Gianluigi Buffon, Jens Lehmann, and Ricardo, defenders Fabio Cannavaro, Lilian Thuram, and John Terry, midfielders Patrick Viera, Zinedine Zidane, Andrea Pirlo, and Nuno Maniche. None of the forwards except Miroslave Klose truly earned their spot.
You could include Augustin Delgado, Carlos Tenorio, Robin Van Persie, Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres, Nelson Valdes, Jared Borgetti, Dwight Yorke, Pavel Nedved, Tranquillo Barnetta, Steven Appiah, Sulley Muntari, Michael Essien, Juan Roman Riquelme, Deco, Owen Hargreaves, Luis Valencia, Hatem Trabelsi, Sergio Ramos, Fabio Grosso, Ashley Cole, Denis Caniza, Ivan Hurtado, Kolo Toure, Ricardo Osorio, and Carlos Salcido. Any combination of strikers, midfielders, and defenders from this group of 26 to the core group would be better than the present FIFA 23.
My FIFA 23. This is not a feel good "We're the World" moment. These players deserve their selection because of their performance.
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy), Jens Lehmann (Germany), Ricardo (Portugal)
Defenders: Ivan Hurtado (Ecuador), John Terry (England), Lilian Thuram (France), Rafael Marquez (Mexico), Fabio Cannavaro (Italy), Fabio Grosso (Italy), Ashley Cole (England)
Midfielders: Steven Appiah (Ghana), Patrick Vieira (France), Zinedine Zidane (France), Andrea Pirlo (Italy), Deco (Portugal), Nuno Maniche (Portugal), Pavel Nedved (Czech Republic), Juan Roman Riquelme (Argentina),
Strikers: Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast), Miroslav Klose (Germany), Robin Van Persie (Netherlands), Carlos Tenorio (Ecuador), Nelson Valdes (Paraguay).
Lionel Messi, Jose Pekerman's folly
Lukas Podolski was awarded FIFA's award for the best youngster of the World Cup. The choice of Cristiano Ronaldo generated so much heat in the wake of his unsportsmanlike shenanigans in the match against England, lobbying for Rooney's removal. Worse, he was caught on camera, winking at a fellow Portugese player after that.
The Mirror sums up the frothing English media, labeling Ronaldo, a latter day Greg Louganis (surely, an unwelcome distinction for the great US diver).
Ronaldo was the frontrunner for the award until this extra-ordinary turn of events. In the last 24 hours, there was a surge of emails in favor of Luis Valencia, Ecuador's midfielder before the end of voting.
Cristiano Ronaldo is a very talented player and he showed it in the match against France, the only threat against the French defense. But his days in Man U are numbered. Even before the World Cup, there were reports that Ruud Van Nistelrooy (another player not known for his people skills) and Ronaldo were at loggerheads. If the match against France encapsulates his unpopularity, imagine what would happen playing in the EPL. I don't think scoring mere goals would rehabilitate his image. He would have to eat fish n' chips for the rest of his days (and mushy peas!!).
The award goes to Lukas Podolksi who does not fully deserve the honor, IMO. One of the strengths FIFA cites is his ability to combine with Klose. The only time it happened was against Sweden. The last two matches, against Argentina and then Italy, the Podolski- Klose combination was AWOL. He scored three goals, two of them in combination with Klose. He is a great talent no doubt, with his great speed and an ability to turn on a dime. However, he does not come close to the ball skills of Lionel Messi.
I have a feeling that if we had seen more of Lionel Messi, and Pekerman had not kept him as the best kept secret, he would have been the find of the tournament. We will have to wait a little more time but he will prove to be far better than Lukas Podolksi or Cristiano Ronaldo.
Rob's pictures of the World Cup >>
Amongst the madness and mayhem, peace and quiet in the beautiful German countryside.
France was supposed to be soccer’s over-the-hill gang, written off as too old and too tired. .Zidane was there when France scored twice on headers in a 3-0 victory over Brazil at Stade de France outside Paris in 1998.He has surely shown that Thuram, Claude Makelele, Patrick Vieira ,Sylvain Wiltord and himself aren't ready to be retired just yet as France make their second appearance in a World Cup final .Going grey hasn't stopped the Les Bleus yet.
That is what Germany awaits with great anxiety
Miroslav Klose and Jens Lehmann want Klinsi to continue. 95% of the German population want him to continue. Angela Merkel wants to bestow Klinsi with the Order of Merit. And the biggest vote of confidence comes from Der Kaiser, his biggest detractor before the World Cup.
Klinsi, bitte mach weiter!
"Jeder Spieler wünscht sich, daß er bleibt.“ Sagt Miroslav Klose.
"Die Enttäuschung wäre sicher sehr groß, wenn er entscheiden sollte, nicht weiterzumachen!“ Sagt Jens Lehmann.
Miroslav Klose, " All the players want him to remain."
Jens Lehmann, "The disappointment would be surely very large, if he should decide not to continue! “.
Franz Beckenbauer has a new found sensitivity to Klinsi's decision, expressing his wish that he continue but after consulting his wife and family who live in California.
"The crew trusts him, he trusts the crew. Those are best conditions “, Beckenbauer says that he supports Klinsmanns decision to travel after the World Cup back home in order to speak with the family about his further commitment. "That is the correct way."
Also the 95% of the fans surveyed by the media stand fully behind Klinsi to continue as the coach of the national team. The desire for Klinsi to stay on comes from the highest circles. Angela Merkel and the German government are united in agreement “Our Klinsi is to be distinguished with the Order of Merit."
Klinsi has till August 15th to decide when Germany plays a friendly with Austria.
Klinsmann has brought a great amount of respectability to German soccer and Der Kaiser wants him to keep coaching the Mannschaft. The World Cup has gone off well without any of the hooliganism, racism, or terrorism that many were fearing would happen. Even the referees seem to have settled down and let the players play. The German establishment has foregone the customary scheudenfreude and has praised the German squad while complimenting the Azzurris. There seems to be a new found love for our country.
"Unlucky lads! You battled like world champions. Germany’s dream of winning
the World Cup has been shattered. It would have been brilliant, but now we’
ll take third place on Saturday, and none of us is complaining. We say this
to Klinsi and all his lads: Thanks for a fantastic World Cup. We’re weeping
with you! Over the last few weeks, the Germans have rediscovered a love for
their country and for their football team, and that’s here to stay. The
ruthless Italians were just a fraction stronger in a fantastic, intense,
top-class match. Chin up, lads! Italy were (still) just too good for us."
"Italy sealed a not undeserved place in the Final thanks to goals in the
119th and 121st minutes. Unlucky Germany showed outstanding bravery, but
were ultimately forced to concede defeat to the ruthless and clinical
"The dream lies in tatters! But chin up, and no moaning. We’ve lost the
semi-final by the narrowest of margins, but we won’t be downhearted. We are
Germany, and we’re the moral world champions!" Express
"Our wonderful odyssey to the stars is over, ended by a clean, down-to-earth
shot by Fabio Grosso to put Italy 1-0 up in the 119th minute of the World
Cup semi-final. Did anyone notice the second goal after that? The path
leading to this bitter end, on the 52nd anniversary of the 'Miracle of
Bern', was long and hard, and the German players used up all the luck set
aside for them in this and indeed in the next life." Suddeutsche Zeitung
"An abrupt end to a glorious journey: even on returning to their team base
in Berlin, the German players’ faces were still wet with tears." Frankfurter
"Following the second goal, the final knock-out blow after 120 absorbing and
dramatic minutes, most of the German players sank to the turf and wept like
children. It was left to the fans, outstanding yet again, to put their
devastation to one side and console the team with chants of “Deutschland”
and standing ovations. Moving scenes followed, the crowd rising as one to
sing "You’ll never walk alone" as the players thanked them for their support
throughout the tournament. The refreshing and attractive style introduced by
Klinsmann represents a major step forward for German football, but that was
no consolation to anyone on a night filled with tears." Sport1.de
Massimo Moratti, Inter's CEO; Silvio Berlusconi, Forza Italia and AC Milan's CEO
One of the clubs in danger of being relegated is AC MIlan run by ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi, who lost a bitter re-election fight against Romano Prodi. Members of Forza Italia, Berlusconi's party are now asking for soccer amnesty, the initiative for amnesty comes from Mauricio Paniz, an MP of Forza Italia and a Juventus supporter. Now that the Azzurri have reached Sunday's World Cup final, the pressure for a reprieve from supporters of the clubs involved is likely to increase. Thirteen of the 23 Italian squad come from these clubs, with Juventus and AC Milan accounting for 5 each.
The special prosecutor, Stefano Palazzi has recommended that Juventus be relegated to the third tier of the Serie and AC MIlan, Fiorentina, and Lazio to the second division. This has led to a bitter dispute involving Berlusconi who is casting this as a Juventus scandal, having little to do with AC MIlan. He is demanding that Guido Rossi, the emergency chief or the Italian football federation (FIGC), strip Juventus of the two Scudetti that they have won the last two seasons and give them to AC MIlan.
Inter MIlan's chairman, Massimo Moratti and a friend of Romano Prodi, is irate, and has staked his claim to the Scudetto, as the third placed team in the Serie. If Juventus is stripped of the title and AC Milan is penalized points then Inter stands a good chance of getting the Scudetto after having played second fiddle to arch rivals AC Milan and Juventus in recent years. Massimo Moratti is amongst the few in Italian soccer respected for their honesty and integrity. He is also well known in the world of soccer philanthropy.
This scandal might be Moratti's big ticket out to re-establishing Inter supremacy. Inter is acquiring Italian hero Fabio Grosso, Ronaldo, and possibly Luca Toni. His reaction to the Serie scandal, "What do you think of a Serie A without Milan and Juventus? Would you be nostalgic?
"No, I certainly wouldn't feel nostalgic."
The Sports Minister, Giovanna Melendri has ruled out any amnesty for the clubs implicated in the scandal. "It is stupid to talk of an amnesty. Soccer needs major reform, " said Melandri. "The national team's matches are one thing, the sporting trials are another. Let's keep them separate."
There might be an element of political payback for the Prodi government going after a Berlusconi enterprise. But the larger picture of cleaning up Italian soccer is a welcome step. With Silvio Berlusconi at the helm as the PM, and a vested interest in his club AC Milan, he with his party members would have probably used the feel good story of the Italian squad as a ruse not to proceed with the investigation.
With Juventus, Lazio, Fiorentina, and AC MIlan to be relegated to the second division following the Serie scandal, the MLS should seriously go after these players who will no doubt be looking for new clubs. Players like Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro, Luca Toni, Alessandro Nesta, Andrea Pirlo, Patrick Viera, Lilian Thuram, Dida, Kaka, Emerson, Cafu, Dario Simic, and Pavel Nedved, amongst others. Four clubs with more than 90 of the top players in the world. Getting a few to come over will be quite a coup. So MLS cough up some big transfer bucks and get Nike to make branded shoes. The Pirlo Freekik, the Luca Airborne, the Dida Save.
Well, we can dare to dream, can't we??
Take a look at the present Juventus squad and drool.
1 GK Gianluigi Buffon
2 DF Alessandro Birindelli
3 DF Giorgio Chiellini
4 MF Patrick Vieira
5 MF Cristiano Zanetti
6 DF Robert Kovač
7 MF Marco Marchionni
8 MF Emerson
9 FW Zlatan Ibrahimović
10 FW Alessandro Del Piero (captain)
11 MF Pavel Nedvěd
14 DF Federico Balzaretti
16 MF Mauro Camoranesi
17 FW David Trézéguet
18 FW Adrian Mutu
19 MF Gianluca Zambrotta (vice-captain)
21 DF Lilian Thuram
22 GK Landry Bonnefoi
23 MF Giuliano Giannichedda
24 MF Ruben Olivera
25 FW Marcelo Zalayeta
27 DF Jonathan Zebina
28 DF Fabio Cannavaro
32 GK Christian Abbiati
Great news! Shaka Hislop, Soca Warriors goalkeeper and their hero in that goalless draw against Sweden, keeping sharpshooters Freddie Ljungberg, Henrik Larsson, and Zlatan Ibrahamovic at bay has moved from West Ham to FC Dallas, MLS frontrunner in the Western division. Hislop studied in Howard University and led them to an NCAA title in 1988.
The Les Bleus are one goal up against Scolari who has yet to have his team lose a World Cup game.The referee in charge of the proceedings is none other than Jorge Larrionda who gained some notoriety in the game between USA and Italy not so long ago.
He has given one penalty and not given another.Let us hope that he was watching how Benito Tellez handled the first semi final ...
Theo Walcott, Steve McLaren, Aaron Lennon
John Terry, Darren Bent
The one thing that you learn through all this is, never trust someone who announces that he is no longer going to coach the national team after the World Cup is over. He has no incentive to work for. The FA should have taken that into account when retaining Sven Goran Erickson for the coaching job before this World Cup. The other thing is that the coach's private life should not be the subject of tabloid fodder. Sven Goran's private life was just as interesting to the Brits as his selections to the Three Lions. That truly is pathetic. Lets get a coach who is uninteresting in life but makes up for that by performing on the field. Sure, he can have a few brews with the lads in the local pub and go out for the occasional shindig at the arts and craft museum with the wifey.
When you go out on a limb and made a controversial selection like Theo Walcott, the least you can do is to give the lad the stage he has been selected to perform in. Have the courage of your convictions. Klinsmann took a big chance with Odonkor, a never capped player, and one whose selection caused as much heat in Germany as the Walcott selection. But it paid off. Sven lost interest in Walcott as soon as he landed in Germany. I guess he wanted to prove that he could be an exciting coach as well as studmuffin.
Steve McLaren should learn that being mealy mouthed is never going to help British soccer. He now has a great chance of doing over. David Beckham should retire period. Paul Robinson should go. He looked terrible when he had to come off the line and made bad decisons. If it was not for Terry and Cole we would have been out in the second round.
You should have a midfielder like Pirlo, who gets up not just to take free kicks and corners, but involves himself with every aspect of the play, all 90 minutes and more. We really do not have a Pirlo now but there are some solid choices out there. Steve Gerrard, Joe Cole, Nigel Reo-Coker, Kieran Richardson, and Aaron Lennon.
Glenn Hoddle as flaky as he got towards the end, took chances with a Michael Owen and laid out a pretty soild defence in Rio and Sol, with a midfield led by Beckham, Nicky Butt, and Paul Scholes.
McLaren can do the same with Aaron Lennon, Theo Walcott, Darren Bent, Jermaine Defoe, Nigel Reo Coker, and Kieran Richardson. You already have Wayne Rooney, John Terry, Joe Cole, Ashley Cole, Ledley King, and Rio (who still has a few good years left in him). We have already seen that having Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in the team together is a disaster. If you have to make a choice between the two, then Gerrard is preferable but not as captain. For that there is no better candidate than John Terry. Diving to save that sure goal on the goal line during that Trinidad match and booting it out should serve as a reminder that this guy plays the game.
My line up for the the future Three Lions: First 11.
Chris Kirkland (Manchester United), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), John Terry (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Arsenal), Ledley King (Tottenham Hotspurs), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Joe Cole (Chelsea), Owen Hargreaves (Bayern Munich), Nigel Reo-Coker (West Ham), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Darren Bent (Charlton Athletic)
McLaren can bring in Aaron Lennon (Tottenham Hotspurs) and Theo Walcott (Arsenal) as subs to provide speed upfront and get into the game gradually. Michael Owen's injury is serious and this is going to be a limiting factor in his future selection. Darren Bent is aggressive, great off the air, and much more athletic than Peter Crouch.
And no more 4-5-1. We have heard enough about Gerrard and Lampard being as good as strikers but let us not muddy the waters like this World Cup. Let us stick to the 4-4-2.
Tellez did a superb job refeering the Germany- Italy semifinal
Kudos to Tellez, who was more than willing to let the players play, was not afraid to talk to them when they fouled excessively or dived to the ground. He was like a father figure coaxing the players to get on with the game. He booked the players to make a point and not to mete out punishment. The result of this understated refeering were two teams who played soccer the way it is supposed to be played. The Italians stopped selling their dives because Tellez bought none of it. The Germans were probably thrown off by the Italians underperforming in the histrionics department.
Tellez should be complimented on his performance as he brought the best out in Italian soccer. A talented team marred by their penchant for gamesmanship. His refeering brings to mind the way boxing referees go about their business. Separating boxers aside, keeping the low blows to a minimum, and reminding them to go on with the game, exactly like a Mills Lane would do.
Fabio Grosso, Alessandro Del Piero- Italy's goalscorers
I think Germany is in a state of shock, just when it looked like the match was going to go to a penalty shootout. You could almost feel Lehmann pulling out another cheatsheet on the Italian penalty takers. The stats were already flashing on the TV. Germany 4-0 and Italy 0-3 in PK shootout. 28 mins + into ET. What else could be possible??
But the number of corner kicks that Germany gave up came to haunt them. Lehmann turns Del Piero's shot out for a corner. Out of the 12 corners taken by Italy, Lehmann must have plucked at least 6 off the air. Not this one. This one was picked up by Pirlo at the top of the box. Showing amazing patience, Pirlo instead of forcing another shot on goal, waited, and slid in a perfect pass for Grosso, who curled the ball past Lehmann with his left foot with a first timer. 29 mins. Italy 1 Germany 0. The TV showed the crestfallen Klinsmann who after moping for a few seconds galvanized himself into action by windmilling his arms towards the Italian goal. Odonkor chased the ball but the rest of the German squad could not catch up and the opportunity was lost.
Back came the Italians, and this time Gilardino was the playmaker slipping in a sweet little pass for Del Piero to bury the ball at the left hand corner of the goal. 30+ mins Italy 2 Germany 0.
In a minute's time, the fate of this match was sealed. Marcelo Lippi over the top claim that Juventus had never lost in Dortmund, his favorite stat was all that was needed. And Fabio Grosso did not have to resort to cheap theatrics to get his goal, a beauty. Grosso is a defender but he could have been Paolo Rossi, Roberto Baggio, or Salvatore Schillaci, the way he played that ball, with a natural strikers instinct, a goal that these three great Azzurris would have been justly proud of. The Italians are in the finals and now 11 goals have been scored of 10 men. This is teamwork.
Lippi's substitutions were inspired. He brought in Gilardino for Toni, Del Piero for Perotta, and Iaquinta for Camoranesi. The three made an immediate impact on attack. Iaquinta was specially difficult to get a hold of, and ran around Mertesacker, Metzelder, and Friedrich. Gilardino's versatility as a creator meant that the attack did not have to go through Pirlo all the time. And Del PIero finally made good on the left with his ball control and speed. Lippi did not want to go into a penalty shootout. The last thing he wanted to was to rely on a game of chance that did not favor the Italians.
But you have to ask, were the Italians knowingly holding out this long, to bury the knife into Germany? Because they could not have asked for a better finish. In the end Germany waited too long, hoping that the game would go to their strength. Ballack again disappeared for the second match in a row. Klose and Poldolski were ineffective together. In the end a couple of stats were thrown out of the window, the 13-0-1 German run in Dortmund, and the 20-0 record when Germany has Ballack in the team. This World Cup, Ballack was a disappointment. Sebastian Kehl was adequate and you could make a case that Frings was missed but I have no doubt that the result would have been the same.
Klinsmann could not have asked for more and neither could Germany. This German team was not supposed to have gone this far. This team will be around and I think German soccer will do everything to bring Klinsi back.
Andrea Pirlo was absolutely magnificent. He and Zidane have shown what a difference a versatile midfielder can make. The one thing that Pirlo and Zinedine both have in common is patience and an ability for heads up play.
The France- Portugal match will be fascinating because it will see Zidane going against Deco, another beautiful little playmaker.
Germany meets Italy in the first semi-final today, July 4, in Dortmund at 9:00 PM German time (3:00 PM EST)
Dortmund is German soccer's happy stomping grounds. The Germans have never lost in Dortmund in 14 encounters, winning 13 and drawing one. A tremendous boost to their self confidence, you would think. However, Germany's record against Italy is a cause for concern, as they have never won, losing two out of the 4 and drawing the other two. Italy beat Germany in the 1982 WC finals, 3-1 in Paolo Rossi's World Cup. Italy also had Altobelli, Marco Tardelli, Franco Baresi, and Dino Zoff. The Italians were playing the Germans who had beaten a Michel Platini led France in the semi-finals, in an exhausting penalty shootout. A match that is a World Cup classic.
Both Klinsmann and Marcelo Lippi are canny operators and the pre-match buildup as been one of mind games as both teams vie for a psychological edge. Not to be outdone by the Germans touting Dortmund as lucky for them, Lippi has countered that by saying as the manager of Juventus, he has never lost in Dortmund, in the European Cup.
Be that as it may, we are looking at two teams that have attacked and defended well. The Germans with an edge in attack and the Italians in defence. The Germans have scored more and conceded more (11 goals, 3 conceded). The Italians have scored 9 and have given away 1 (an own goal).
The Germans play a more dynamic and much busier game than the Italians. They edge out the Italians in tackles 162 to 108, outshoot the Italians in shots on goals 43- 35, are much industrious in their passing, short passes 1881 to 1476, long balls 565 to 457, and crosses 148 to 96. All indicate that the Germans will outplay the Italians in the match. In the open field that Germans are more likely to win the 50/50 in tackles.
But, they are less efficient than the Italians. Inefficiency and German?? Antonymous. With less the Italians have done as much. Thay have been more accurate with their shots and been stingier in giving less goals.
The Italians have also been better at creating free kick opportunities, and in Andrea Pirlo, their free kick specialist, they have someone who gives more to the game than Beckham. Both Italians and Germans are level in corner kicks taken and in fast break attacks.
There is one significant stat that favors the Italians. They get fouled on the most or to put it another way, they are able to sell a foul the best. The Germans have committed 89 fouls to 100 fouls suffered. The Italians have been gulity of 70 fouls but they have suffered 109.
The match might be decided on this seemingly innocuous stat.
If it goes to penalty shootout, then stats overwhelmingly favor the Germans. They are 4-0, and have converted 17 of 18. The Italians have lost all three. They have converted 8 of 15. The most painful defeat was in the 1990 semi-finals when Argentina's Goycochea saved Donadoni and Aldo Serena's penalty kicks enabling Argentina to move to the finals.
Italy and Germany have met on 28 occasions, with Italy winning 13 and Germany seven. The pair have contested six competitive matches which all took place at major championships. Italy are unbeaten in this respect winning twice and drawing four times. In four previous World Cup encounters, Italy have won twice and drawn twice. The sides have met only once at the World Cup semi-final stage. In 1970, the Italians secured a dramatic 4-3 victory in extra time setting up a final meeting with Brazil. Germany missed a chance to vindicate that loss in the 1982 World Cup final, in which they fell 3-1 to the 'Azzurri'.
In the last meeting between these teams, Italy hammered Germany 4-1 in a friendly in Florence. Alberto Gilardino, Luca Toni, Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Del Piero netted, before Robert Huth produced a late consolation goal for the visitors.
Torsten Frings has been suspended by FIFA for this game. Fifa opened an investigation after Sky Italia, an Italian TV station, "stumbled" on footage showing Frings landing a punch on Argentina's Julio Cruz in a melee of players at the end of their quarter-final win.
From the Beeb
Sky Italia's actions came hot on the heels of German newspaper Der Spiegel describing Italians as "oily" "greasy" and "slimy" - a lot of tautology there - as well as "parasitic", "mamma's boys" and "cheats". Skipper Fabio Cannavaro described himself as offended by the slur.
Team stats from the FIFA site
Maybe Ballack's pulling a chain somewhere.
I know the German team is prepared. Even without Frings, we can beat Italy.
You decide if Frings deserves to sit out the semis:
Abbas Suan, as an Arab-Israeli, not just another soccer player
We take it for granted that we can see the World Cup on ESPN/ ABC and if we don't want to suffer Marcelo Balboa and Dave O'Brien's retarded commentary, we have the option of switching to the Univision channel that more than makes up for our incomprehension of the commentary with its excitement and passion.
But on Tony Karon's blog we learn that Marcelo Balboa and Dave O'Brien's commentary or any commentary on the World Cup would be welcome in Palestine. The Israelis have knocked out the power in Gaza and the Palestinians there have not be able to see any of the World Cup since the quarterfinals began. The Israelis have also bombed the water supply, and subjected the Gaza populace to sleep depriving sonic booms. They have cordoned of the Gaza and it is only due to the pressure of humanitarian groups that essential supplies are now reaching the Gazans. The Gazans are being punished because an Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was captured by Hamas supporters who are demanding in exchange the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. This comes a few days after the Israelis killed seven in a Palestinian family vacationing in a Gaza beach in barrage of fire from an Israeli gunboat ostensibly to knockout a battery of Qassam rockets operating in a nearby village. The IDF after their investigation absolved their forces of any wrongdoing and blamed it on a hidden bomb in the Gaza beach that exploded.
The brutality of the Israeli response to Gilad Shalit's capture is to subject the Gazan population to a collective punishment. The punishment for electing a Hamas government, an organization ironically supported by the Israelis, in the early 60's as a countervail to the PLF led by Yasser Arafat. Hamas over the years has provided the Palestinians with hope that they would end the decades of cronyism and corruption of Arafat's PLO and Fatah, with their extra-ordinary work in building one of the Middle East's biggest charitable foundation of hospitals and social welfare programs for the beleaguered Palestinians.
Soccer has long been a staple for the Palestinians to forget their suffering under occupation. The World Cup every four years brings a respite to lay aside their problems for a month or so. Palestine cannot compete in the World Cup as it is not recognized as a country. But Israel can. This year's World Cup was a very close affair as Israel was on the brink of qualifying for the first time after the 1970 World Cup. The player that ignited their hopes was Abbas Suan, an Arab, who scored a goal that tied Israel with Ireland in the 90th minute. He along with fellow Arab Israeli, Walid Badar and Salim Tuana provided Israel with a midfield that kept them close in the World Cup qualifiers. The Israel squad remained undefeated with 4 wins and 6 draws, eventually losing out to group qualifiers France and Switzerland. But for a moment these three players were instrumental in bringing amity between two inimical groups of people. The Palestinians were justly proud that they had representation in the Israeli squad (by origin) and the Isrealis could tout that they were a society that believed in pluralism.
The rise of Abbas Suan and Walid Badar was not achieved easily. Israeli fans would taunt them regularly, "Abbas Suan should get cancer”, rhyming it in Hebrew. Abbas Suan was born in Sakhnin, an Arab town in Galilee. This what the Israeli right wingers from Beitar Jerusalem would subject him and Bader to:
"Let the town of Sakhnin be burnt down"
"We hate all Arabs"
"We'd rather lose 0:10 to Ireland rather than have an Arab score a goal in our name! He doesn't represent us!"
This really does not sound much different from the racial taunting seen in the Ultras, the Irreducibili, or the Delije in the Italian, Spanish, and Serbian Leagues.
CAMERA reminds us that this sort of racism is prevalent in soccer in many European countries with specific incidents involving Samuel Eto'o, Shaun Wright Philips, and Thierry Henry. We have highlighted the highly despicable racism that goes on in the Serie and La Liga. However, CAMERA glosses over the fact that Abbas Suan and Walid Bader are Israeli citizens, that they and their families chose to live in Israel. These are not players brought from outside like Samuel Eto'o to play for their league. In fact, Emmanuel Pappoe, the Ghanian midfielder who plays for Hapoel Tel Aviv is treated better than Suan and Bader, who are part of the state of Israel as citizens even if the state does not recognize them as Israeli nationals. These players have contributed to the Israeli team being considered as a serious contender in European football after more than 30 years.
One wonders as a matter of conjecture if the Israel squad had made it to this World Cup, and by another miracle, Suan and Badir guided the Israelis to the quarterfinals, what the response of the Olmert government would have been to the present conflagration? Seeing Suan and Badir on TV doing yeoman duty might have calmed things down on both sides.
This debate has been going on for a while. Why do these so called superstars, Ronaldinho, Sheva, Luca Toni, Lampard, Henry, and Roberto Ayala, all show up to play league matches but when it comes to the World Cup their performances are extremely deflating? Don't get me wrong- they are all great players but their performances have been pretty mixed.
Granted the World Cup with it's very limited time period distills the amount of time to precious little to prove talent and skill. The league games being 30-40 games is better at showcasing your talent but the limited margin of error that the World Cup provides separates the exceptional from the good players, Pele, Maradona, Beckenbauer, Platini, Muller, Cruyff, and Zidane.
It is true the exceptional player that rises to the occasion. These players have performed magnificently for not just the club but their countries too. Those days soccer players played well for their clubs so that they would attract the attention of the national selectors. These days given the gruelling league schedule over the year and the unreal amount of money involved with these superstar transfers and the subsequent expectations, in retrospect, the World Cup seems to have become a nice break for some. In fact, this World Cup has proven one thing, having superstars in your team is a burden.
The teams that have played and done well have played without relying on any of these superstars. In fact, the whole team has shown up to play.
Portugal did without Deco and Costinha against England, and during their matches showed that it really did not have to rely on Figo and Ronaldo to score goals. There was Simao Sabroso, Tiago, Maniche, and Miguel who took up the burden and defended solidly too. They have thrown up Ricardo as their hero. Who had heard of Ricardo before this World Cup?
Out of the 9 goals that Italy have scored, eight of them have come from different strikers. Luca Toni scored his first two goals in the quarterfinal. Italy has found a way to score goals without leaving it entirely to their frontline strikers.
The Germans are the hardest tackling team. Till the beginning of the quarterfinal round, the Germans had the most number of elite tacklers amongst the 8 survivors. There were 11 Germans with more than 9 tackles, and even Miroslav Klose had 10. The Germans totaled 150 tackles and the rest of the seven have about 500. Podolksi is much more effective when he combines with Klose as we saw in the Argentina match, when both went their separate ways.
France in the beginning relied exclusively on Thierry Henry for their attack and they made heavy weather getting out of the first round. But Henry's burden was made lighter by the opportunism of Patrick Viera and the real find of the tournament, the little dynamo Franck Ribery, a speed machine and a ubiquitous presence everywhere on the field. Ribery, Viera, and Zidane have their names stamped on all the French goals whether scoring or in creating one. Zidane and his aging compatriots, retirees Thuram and Makelele, have provided a midfield that has played unselfishly. Willy Sagnol and Eric Abidal have been pillars in defence.
Another unifying theme in these four national squads is the enormous amounts of distraction and detraction that they have undergone at home and at the World Cup. The Italians have had to deal with the unfolding Serie scandal and possible players indictments with their clubs future in jeopardy along with the Pessotto tragedy. The Germans have had to endure widespread skepticism on the part of their public with their performance in this World Cup and the German establishments dismissal of Klinsmann as California Klinsi, the party boy surfer, who was considered a lightweight. Most expected them to fall apart in the second round. The French have gone through a similar situation, with Raymond Domemech, and his players selection and the choice of substitutes, criticized. His reliance on an aging team and an investigation into his acceptance of money from a cellphone company for an interview. Soccerblog did not believe in the French team altough it had argued that as a team it had unmatchable talent. Felipe Scolari had to fight with an interventionist Portugal soccer federation for his selections and succeeded, a federation notorious for cronyism in selecting the players for past World Cups. Scolari has given a toughness to each of his players that was so evident in the England match, in their tackling of Rooney, Crouch, and Cole. Miguel, Carvalho, Tiago, and Nuno Valente have more tackles than the entire English team.
With superstars in every team, the team that most understands that the total sum of the team effort is greater than the sum of their individual parts, has done best. And an intangible like a chip on the shoulder can be an additional motivating factor for teams to rally around and give their best. England would have been better off without Rooney and Beckham, it unfortunately took them an injury and a red card to find out, and not a stroke of coaching genius.
While his teammates at Inter Milan, Tottenham Hotspur and Monaco drove Porsches and BMWs, Klinsmann tooled around in a blue '67 Volkswagen Beetle with a Snoopy sticker on the dashboard. Instead of living in Germany, where he's as celebrated as Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods in the United States, he settled in California, where his wife grew up. And when he got the itch to play some pick-up games a few years back, he hooked up with a developmental league team in southern California.
So it should have come as no surprise that when he was hired two years ago to coach Germany, Klinsmann wasn't going to do things the old way.
That's from the AP story about Klinsmann you can read here >>
What's fascinating is the American fitness connection.
Klinsmann hired Mark Verstegen's group to get the German team into shape.
Here's their story:
As a part of the coaching staff for the German National team, Athletes' Performance founder and President Mark Verstegen and coaches Shad Forsythe and Craig Friedman have been responsible for player testing and evaluation, and have worked closely with each player on programs that address the specific fitness needs of each individual athlete.
In the build-up to Germany's first game on June 9, the AP staff has taken the lead role in developing physical, technical and tactical programs for the training camps surrounding Germany's training camps. When the team assembled in Sardinia in mid-May for the first stage of its final World Cup training camp, the AP team was there to facilitate the physical preparation and team-building activities. All of the training was done on the soccer field, focusing on speed, strength, power, conditioning and recovery work.
After a week in Sardinia, the German training base moved to Geneva, where a satellite Athletes' Performance Institute had been created to serve the needs of the team. The facility was completely equipped with the strength, power, conditioning and recovery equipment that is found in Athletes' Performance facilities in the United States, including PowerPlates and Keiser functional trainers. Working in conjunction with the team's doctors and physio the AP coaches continued the strength training programs for the German players, as well as specific corrective activation and mobilization exercises.
As the final friendly matches started, the physical preparation has shifted to emphasize recovery, helping the players remain fresh and ready for competition. For the players who are not playing, the staff is still emphasizing physical training to ensure they do not lose their fitness levels and are ready to play when called on as a substitute.
The Athletes' Performance/German National Team relationship began with Juergen Klinsmann. Klinsmann served as consultant to the LA Galaxy back in '03. Athletes' Performance is the Official Performance Training provider to the Galaxy. Juergen became familiar with the success and methodologies of the Athletes' Performance Team and brought them on board to support the German National Team when he was appointed coach.
On the US side, John O'Brien, Landon Donovan, Chris Albright and Todd Dunivant are all Verstegen's customers.
Check out Mark Verstegen's blog.
Here are some nutrition tips, for those of you who (like me) aren't going to play competitive soccer.
A thumbs down: Parriera and Zagalo should resign
Soccerblog has been on record being critical of Alberto Parriera much before the World Cup began. In fact, our criticism stems from the way that the1994 World Cup was won in the ugliest final in the ugliest possible way. Brazil beat Italy in a penalty shootout in one of the dreariest matches in history after being scoreless at the end of extra-time.
The coach was Alberto Parriera and the player that embodied his new philosophy to win at any cost, was Dunga. A player who famously said that the "day of e jogo bonito were over." Dunga was an enforcer, a player who cared very little of the quality of play, but was in charge of carrying out the new Parriera and Zagalo policy. In his days players were actually punished by being benched if they showed their brilliance in soccer skills . The new change in philosophy was a consequence of the losing Tele Santana Brazil teams of 1982 and 1986, possibly one of the best Brazilian squads to have never won the World Cup with players like Zico, Socrates, Eder, Falcao, who brought a joie vivre to their game with their attacking flair but were also susceptible to the defensive breakdowns. Santana's mantra was the it was better to lose playing attractive soccer than win at all.
The change brought to an end the days of personality driven activist coaches like Santana and Joao Saldanha, who as a member of the Brazilian Communist party, famously included players that the the military junta in power opposed in the 1970 squad. Saldanha was replaced by Mario Zagalo, an establishment man. That squad went onto win the World Cup, and is considered the best soccer team in history, with players like Jairzinho, Tostao, Pele, and Gerson. In his 1977 autobiography, Pele writes that Zagallo initially restricted his team from playing their attacking game at the 1970 World Cup. Based on a chess format, Zagallo organized a sophisticated method, which he ultimately had to abandon due to player complaints.
The pressure to bring back the World Cup was enormous after having last won it in 1970. The changes that Parriera and Zagalo brought was on display in 1994. It was boring but effective soccer as the Brazilians were content to score the minimum number of goals. The Italians in the final were flabbergasted to see this new version of Brazil in the finals, playing just like them, on the lookout for that one goal. and then falling back on defense. Except that the Brazilians beat the Italians at their game, playing stifling defense led by Dunga, Roberto Carlos, and Cafu. The
In 1998, the French outplayed Brazil in the final 3-0, with Mario Zagalo as coach. Ronaldo had a mysterious fit the night before in the hotel and it showed in the final where a listless Brazilian attack was held off by a resurgent French defense led by Lillian Thuram, Emmanuel Petit, and Marcel Desailly.
There is a theme through all of these matches that Brazil has lost; a play safe, unambitious, and ultimately ineffective attack that has let them down. The big change was brought in for the 2002 WC, when Felipao Scolari was brought in and in 4 years, nurtured the three R's; (Rivaldo, Ronaldo, and Ronaldinho). With his strong personality, he demanded a lot of autonomy as a coach in his choice as players. The same way we see him with the Portugese players, encouraging talents like Cristiano Ronaldo, Miguel, Deco, Tiago, and Simao. The 2002 world Cup saw exhilarating play by Ronaldinho and Ronaldo and they won against Germany (albeit a Ballack-less one and with Oliver Kahn's bad judgement)
The result of 2006 really should not be a surprise. The duo that has succeeded in devoiding the Brazilians of any meaningul attack or flair were back again. Parriera and Zagalo. They have been suspicious of new talent (Robinho and Giberto Silva) up front. A Brazilian attack that had only one shot on goal in the 90+ minutes tells its story. An attack led by a pedestrian Ronaldinho who looked short of ideas and innovation. The same was true for Kaka and Juninho as they just seemed a step slow. Roberto Carlos and Ze Roberto were content blasting the ball upfield with no other idea other than getting lucky, like a hail Mary.
The 1994, 1998, and 2006 World Cups. The years that the Brazilian attack did not perform and the years that the Parriera- Zagalo combine were their coach. Will we even remember any of these squads with any affection or awe?
The Tele Santana inspired days might have not seen Brazil win their World Cups but their squads elicit a great deal of awe and reverence in those who treasure the way soccer is supposed to be played. If it is the Germans or the next Ghana or Cameroun that we are now looking to play like Brazil, then the days of soccer ahead of us are dark indeed. It is time to bring back the beautiful in Brazilian soccer and not leave it to the Joga ads.
Our first loss in 14 games. We will be back.
It seems that France has our number. We lose to them at the most unfortunate moments.
And this time again it was Zidane, playing as if it was his last game (which it would have been if France had lost).
Parreira will be gone soon in my estimation. He made a fatal mistake: he coached with his mind in the past.
How else could you justify Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos?
Robinho, we will have to wait for the next world cup to see you. Hopefully we will also see Kerlon.
Penalty kicks are funny beasts. By any measure, they should be as close to a "gimme" as there is in soccer. In the fifteen years that I played organized ball, I don't recall taking more then about 6 or 7 PKs. And while I don't want to compare the leagues I played in to the pros, PKs never seemed like a big deal. My dad (who was my first coach) always said that a PK was yours to miss and that no keeper in the world could stop a firm well positioned shot. Don't worry about head games or fakes (hell, he said, be a sport: tell the keeper where you will hit it), just aim and shoot it hard.
That said, PKs seem to have the same psychological effect as free throws in basketball. Too much time to think makes a 90% shot, a 60% shot.
So I am seeing what funny, odd, frightening, experiences other may have had in their playing or watching days.
As a final comment, the only PK I vividly remember is the one I missed - hiiting the right post. So close...
The end of the Beckham era.
I'm thinking the new captain will be either Terry or Gerrard.
Who's better at leading, at motivating the team?
Richard Williams says that England got what they deserved - absolutely nichts!
In the aftermath of a punishing defeat, no man should be called to account for his impromptu remarks. But when Frank Lampard said on Saturday night that England had "deserved" to win the match in which defeat had just eliminated them from the World Cup, he was inadvertently exposing the problem at the heart of the team's consistent inability to scale the highest peaks.
David Beckham had used the same word earlier in the campaign. England would get to the World Cup final, the captain said, because they "deserved" to be there. Since no deeper analysis was forthcoming, his listeners were left to infer that the evidence in support of his contention might have included any or all of the following: England's historic role as the game's mother country; the vast popularity of the Premiership at home and abroad; the inflated pay and celebrity status of its players; and the attention lavished on the public appearances of their wives and girlfriends.
When Sven-Goran Eriksson also spoke about the team "deserving" to reach the final, he tried to suggest that it was because of the quality of their football. Strictly on the basis of their successive performances against Hungary, Jamaica, Paraguay, Trinidad & Tobago, Sweden and Ecuador, however, it would have taken a battalion of the world's finest legal advocates to make a case for the justice of their arrival in the final rounds of the biggest international football tournament of all.
The attitude represented by the words of Lampard and Beckham represents a culture of complacency at work, and it could be seen in the climactic shoot-out against Portugal, when three of England's penalty takers failed with attempts in which the slackness of their body language and their shooting spoke of men who were ready to put their trust in the belief, as England players have believed for several generations, that their reputations alone would be enough to ensure their success.
I'm enjoying this blog >>
Christoph Biermann on how Klinsmann has changed the landscape of German soccer.
What's more, he did it while living in the US!
Can Germany go all the way?
Has Jens opened his mouth to soon?
The full story of Lehmann's preparation emerged yesterday. He won the 1997 Uefa Cup with Schalke against Internazionale after making a penalty save. His manager at Schalke was Huub Stevens, who is responsible for a personal database of 13,000 penalty kicks. Lehmann used this archive against Inter and, prior to the Argentina game, he telephoned Stevens.
The 36-year-old goalkeeper already had the benefit of the German FA's database - they had copied Stevens' approach - and having collated the information about who takes Argentina's penalties and how they take them, Germany's goalkeeping coach Andreas Kopke wrote it on a piece of paper ripped from a hotel notepad. On it was written details such as "[Julio] Cruz - stand tall, don't move, dive right".
For Argentina's second penalty-taker, Roberto Ayala, it said: "Ayala - look at shooting foot, left low." Sure enough, Ayala placed the ball low to Lehmann's left and it was advantage Germany.
When Maxi Rodríguez walked up to strike the third, Lehmann knew it would be "hard, right". He went the correct way and was unlucky not to make the save. But after Borowski had made it 4-2, Esteban Cambiasso had to score to keep Argentina in the tournament. Lehmann's notes said: "Wait, stand tall, left corner." He duly made an impressive stop to his left.
More from the Guardian.
Michael Essien is urging young Freddy to leave the MLS and the USA, period.
This was one reason why SoccerBlog had been pushing for Adu's inclusion on the MNT.
So what does Adu think? Stay tuned!
"Even when fit, Rooney failed to make an impact on this tournament and that had nothing to do with the referee. Sven-Goran Eriksson and his half-baked plan to play him as a lone striker was responsible for making Rooney peripheral." Paul Wilson in the Guardian's World Cup blog.
and here's another:
"I kind of hope you've been smoking crack all along, Sven. It's the only way out of this with any dignity." - Georgina Turner
The goat here is Sven and the FA for hiring him!
The trash talking has begun, led by the BBC:
"This was a great, great opportunity for us to have done well and it's ended in a very sad way. You could see the difference in the penalties between England and Germany. From the way they walk, the way they approach the ball and the way the Germans took the penalties with the accuracy and precision, you never thought they would miss." -- Graham Taylor
"We haven't played well, we had years to prepare and nothing's changed, we are a quarter-final team and no more. Every time we play a team with a bit of craft and skill we can't deal with it. It's such a burden on our shoulders knowing that we are no good at penalties and we have to make sure we win the game and not put ourselves through that. We have got to face reality that we are a team nowhere near the top seven countries in the world... But we have got to wake up in this country and realise that we are not a great team. We coach too much at a young age and we take the skill away from our youngsters. Look at Cristiano Ronaldo, Simao, Pauleta. We don't have a player anything like that. Every other country has one, but we don't. We have got to go back to basics and teach skill to the youngsters..." -- Chris Waddle
"I think Wayne Rooney should go back to the Manchester United training ground and stick one on Ronaldo"
-- Alan Shearer
"You have got to feel sorry for the players who had the bottle to take the penalties, and then you have to praise the players who stood up and held Portugal out during the match. But the decision by the manager to play one up front was absolute folly. The system never looked like working. Everyone will question the manager now and rightly so...
I think the manager has contributed to England's downfall. He never got the shape or balance of the team right."
-- Alan Hansen
"Right from the beginning in the choosing of the squad there were problems. You don't take gambles, you don't have a plan B. You must have the plan A. There has been mistakes right from the very beginning. You can't expect players to just turn it on at this level if they're playing in the wrong set-up, it just doesn't happen." -- Alan Ball
"While this was a gallant defeat full of big-hearted performances, it must not be used to mask the gross deficiencies of Sven-Goran Eriksson's management. This is a golden generation of English talent but in terms of picking the right squad and getting the right balance of the team, Eriksson ultimately got it wrong. It is as simple as this: Eriksson never gave them a chance. The over-riding reaction may have been despair at losing another crucial game in a penalty shoot-out, but this cannot mask the problems that have dogged this team throughout the tournament. Despite all their assembled talent, they have not delivered one good performance." -- Gary Lineker in the Daily Telegraph
"England have played a wonderful match with 10 men and we have to congratulate them... The penalties are always a lottery...I want to value the attitude of the English players. It looked like 11 against 11..." -- Portugal's Brazilian coach, Big Phil plays the diplomat in Sporting Life
"We just weren't good enough to win" -- Sven in his press conference
The experts were wrong, even at Fox.
Brasil lost. What bothers me is how we lost. Playing an uninspiring game. We were samba-less. Soul-less. It is a pity, a real pity for fans of the game. Not even one real chance at goal for the first half. This was not Brasil. It was like we were English, playing not to lose.
On a personal level I have to say I'm just sick to my stomach. Literally.
Hats off to Zizou. He proved what a great general he is today.
Penalty shootout. England has never won any World Cup game on PK shootout (0-2). Portugal has never had a game in the World Cup go to PKs.
A battle of nerves.
Ronaldo scooooooooooores! Goal.
It's over for England! Portugal win 3-1 on PKs
Scolari over Sven 3-0.
Onto extra time. A battle of attrition. Beckham comes out with an injury, Lennon gets in and injects new life into the English attack. Rooney gets into it with Nuno Valente by stepping on his groin (very adverently) and is red carded. End of story. Not really. England defends resolutely denying Portugal. Maniche goes Lampard blasting the ball (although I think his aim is marginally better). Terry and Ferdinand have been stout.
Golden Marcelo Balboa moment: Lennon gets taken down just outside the penalty box for an England free kick. Balboa says "You miss Beckham in this situation but you still got Gerrard, and you've got ... you've got..., you've got.... (voice trails off). The camera helpfully pans onto Lampard who is preparing to take the free kick, focuses on him, you can see his name on his jersey for at least 20 seconds. And then Balboa, "you've got.... Ashley Cole."
Balboa, "you havta, you've gotta, you wanta."
It's been a pretty even game although Portugal looks much better when they attack. Their left flank has been more productive with Ronaldo, Tiago and Figo creating the few chances. Not a good sign, Rooney dropping back downfield to feel that he is part of the game.
Beckham has disappeared, although the Gary Neville tandem is far better at pushing the ball up. Lampard got a decent chance in just before the half but he has been elusive but not in the losing the defenders kind of way.
England's best chances come from the left side. Sven will probably have to substitute, bring on Carrick. Take out Lampard probably. I still think he should get another attacking option on the right, like Aaron Lennon.
England meet Portugal today, July1, in Gelsenkirchen at 5:00 PM German time (11:00 EST)
Big Phil has had the measure of Sven in the last two encounters, in World Cup 2002, when Brazil beat England and agin Euro 2004, with Portugal.
Sven has been outcoached both times. But this time might be different. Portugal is without its little man, big star, the unassuming Deco. The pace of Cristiano Ronaldo will hurt too. On the other hand, Gary Neville is back to bolster the right flank, with David Beckham up front, giving a more potent threat to Portugal in that part of the field. Simao Sabroso has been stellar in the Portugese midfield. He, Maniche, and Tiago will have to carry the load today. Miguel at right back has looked threatening on his runs up front and needs his wits about him to control Rooney.
Head to heads:
They have met 21 times and England have won nine and lost just three times. On the flip side they have not beaten Portugal since 1998, a run of four matches, and that trio of defeats came in competitive matches.
England: Robinson, Neville, Ferdinand, Terry, A Cole, Beckham, Lampard, Hargreaves, Gerrard, J Cole, Rooney.
Portugal: Ricardo, Miguel, Carvalho, Meira, Valente, Petit, Maniche, Tiago, Figo, Ronaldo, Pauleta.
Referee: Horacio Elizondo (Argentina).
I hope Lampard gets over his obsession with dry pitches being responsible for his poor form. The field conditions in Gelsenkirchen are nice and soggy.
Update: Cristiano Ronaldo is in the squad for Portugal.
The Beeb has it nicely explained. But Big Phil is too canny to allow this. Look for the Portugese to collapse around Carrick disrupting his passes. Big Phil knows that it will be too much for the defenders to keep Rooney down. Their strategy is to force him to move downfield to get involved in the game.
We need more of Lampard on target
The big news is that Frank Lampard is disgruntled. It's been quite the talk. I think with Ballack and Shevchenko moving to Chelsea, Lampard is finding it hard to breathe in the same field. He has been scouting out Barca.
There is speculation that Lampard's indifferent form in this World Cup is due to this anxiety. Plus, Gerrard's star is on the upswing. Lamprd has been terribly off with his shots. Have you gone Lampard on us?
We need Lampard today. He is too talented a midfielder to have his mind distracted by other things. Chelsea made is a force in the EPL because of his play. Sven has to swallow his impersonal touch and have a heart to heart with Lampard. We really can't leave everything to Rooney, Joe Cole, and Beckham.
Jens Lehmann- divine intervention
Unsere Hand Gottes hielt die Schüsse von Ayala und Cambiasso, brachte uns ins Halbfinale!
That's what the Bild says, in a pointed reminder to the Maradona hand of God goal in the 1986 World Cup. Today it was Lehmann's hands of God that stopped Roberto Ayala's and Esteban Cambiasso's PKs and sent Germany to the semifinals.
Klinsi made the right choice in Lehmann. He has fantastic reflexes. I am sure Riquelme seeing the PKs from the sidelines must have been painfully reminded of the day when Lehmann saved Riquelme's penalty kick in the European Cup in the Arsenal- Villareal semi-finals.
There was quite a bit of violence between German and Argentine fans that went on for a while after the match was over. But I am glad that Klinsi and Pekerman said the right things to calm the teams and their fans down.