Sunday, November 30, 2008
The visiting Bologna side showed a great deal of patience before the break, allowed significant space to Genoa knowing full well that most of their passing would need to be either very short or get slowed considerably in sloppy pitch. It was the appropriate defensive approach and allowed them to either prey upon unforced errors or counter-attack on over commitment. The match went to the break scoreless but the handwriting was on the wall and Gian Piero Gasperini brought in Andrea Gasbarroni for Raffaele Palladino for the restart. Ten minutes after the break Andrea's cross to Giuseppe Sculli in the area was headed crisply to the back of the goal. With the goal advantage on a dreadfully problematic pitch, I expected a formation changed and the introduction of ex-Crvena zvezda man Boško Janković with a greater emphasis of tying up the midfield but it wasn't to come and Genoa paid for the tactical miscue. Eight minutes later a clearly more aggressive Bologna side found the leveling goal as ex Genoa men reacquainted themselves with their former club as Adaílton's cross to Marco Di Vaio was redirected into the net. Both clubs came close as the match wound down but without success and the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
Genoa's returns to Seria A action next week in an exciting derby against Sampdoria.
Everton's victory over Tottenham today came at the heftiest of prices as Nigerian striker Yakubu ruptured his Achilles tendon and is out for season. The injury came eleven minutes into the match and in a further troublesome event, Louis Saha came in for him and left the match with nineteen minutes remaining with a torn hamstring. Along with the James Vaughan injury, Everton's strike force is reduced to Victor Anichebe and the club is obviously in dire need of a striker.
David Moyes spoke of the situation:
"We've had no luck injury-wise. But I'm hopeful that the group will work hard and respond to the challenge, especially Anichebe who, whilst only young, has real quality. It is well documented that we don't have great amounts of cash here and getting involved in January certainly wouldn't have been our ideal plan. But the chairman has always backed me and clearly we can't go through the rest of the season if we only have one fit striker. We'll see where we are and what we can do when the time comes in the new year."
Straight to the point, Leeds fell to Blue Square Premier side Histon 1-0 today. The non-league side scored six minutes before the break as Matthew Langston, a postal worker by-trade (who yes, can now say he “delivers”), headed-in Gareth Gwillim’s cross. Leeds were provided a number of opportunities to score but were unable to do so and lost a glorious chance to advance in the FA Cup. Histon will now face Swansea in the third round.
Leeds return to the task of promotion from League One against Tranmere next Saturday.
De Tukkers are now fourth in the table, two points behind second-place Ajax, five behind first place AZ. The club now turns its attention to a critical UEFA Cup match against Schalke on Wednesday.
The question of “can Trond Sollied survive the PSV match?” may have been answered late as despite controlling the overwhelming majority of the match, the Heerenveen defense collapsed and allowed two late goals to bring to a 2-2 conclusion. With Abe Lenstra Stadion going from complete jubilation to utter shock, it is unclear how upper management will react but quite obviously the club is in desperate need of reviewing defensive play as the final ten minutes were a nightmare.
The overall review of the match is definitely two separate parts as Heerenveen looked to be in complete control of the match, opening the scoring sixteen minutes in as Roy Beerens, fought off a very physical challenge by Jérémie Bréchet to put the ball behind PSV ‘keeper Andreas Isaksson. This might have been a hint of things to come because PSV’s “fight” definitely had an impact in their comeback. Heerenveen had a number of chances to add to the margin but couldn’t break through till the sixty-fifth minute when Paulo Henrique took the PSV back line to school and swept a cross in-close to Beerens which he tucked into the goal for the second of the night. Slowly the match took on a more physical tone and with nine minutes left Reimond Manco, who had just entered, crossed to Danny Koevermans, who then headed in from approximately eight meters. Marking on the Netherlands veteran was dreadful and brought concern the flood gates were about to open. A minute later Balázs Dzsudzsák drew a yellow card for violent conduct, a few seemingly harmless shoves but it had me thinking whether it was a statement that the defending champions weren’t going to back down. Two minutes later, Heerenveen made another tactical defensive error converging on the ball, leading Serb Danko Lazović to send a through-ball to Stef Nijland who lifted the ball over a diving Kenny Steppe and to the back of the net.
Die Königsblauen must put this weeks loss to Manchester City in the UEFA Cup and return to the form that saw them upend ‘Gladbach. Fred Rutten said of last weekends match: “We created chances during that game and turned them into goals - I was satisfied with that. We also managed to keep things tight at the back. It’s proof that things are headed in the right direction but there is a way to go.”
Fred Rutten will be without Levan Kenia, Peter Lovenkrands, Albert Streit and Zé Roberto with Serbian international Mladen Krstajić in doubt. VFB are missing Matthieu Delpierre, Ludovic Magnin, Sebastian Rudy and Turkish international Yildiray Bastürk but do have Sami Khedira and Martin Lanig back. Look for a very physical match with VFB taking on the form of their new manager Markus Babbel.
As stated premiously The injury report for Jürgen Klopp will need to plan to use the same lineup as the Karlsruhe match with the one exception being the return of Robert Kovač from suspension. BVB is missing Nelson Valdez, Diego Klimowicz and skipper Sebastian Kehl all too injury while Wolfsburg is missing the Brazilian striker Grafite. However their Bosnia and Herzegovina international combination of Zvjezdan Misimović and Edin Džeko have quickly emerged as one of the most deadly and reliable combinations in the Bundesliga. These two hold the balance of power in the match as they must be marked closely or it’ll be a long afternoon. Wolfsburg has been tinkering a great deal with their lineup using 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2 and a 5-3-2 away from home. This naturally will make for an interesting tactical match-up depending on their formation
I will report on the match as it concludes.
"Everyone needs to take on responsibility against Schalke and have belief in themselves. The important thing for us against Schalke is that we take charge and show that we want to win the game. Every individual must give his all over the complete 90 minutes if we are going to take all three points."
VFB receives a major boost as Sami Khedira and Martin Lanig return although unfortunately Yildiray Bastürk, Matthieu Delpierre, Ludovic Magnin and Sebastian Rudy are out. Schalke, who are coming off a tough loss in the UEFA Cup will be missing Peter Lovenkrands and Levan Kenia but have Serbian national Mladen Krstajić back.
Enjoy the match and if you want to comment during it, please do as I'll be online.
I will report on the match as it concludes.
"It's a classic FA Cup tie."
"It's an early round and it's Conference versus a Division One side, but we're looking forward to it. It's the FA cup which I love. Bring it on...
"We're going to go and enjoy it. We know it will be a tough game. They are flying high in the Conference. I've watched them, I've seen DVDs and they are getting good results and are a confident side."
"But my concern is Leeds United not Histon. We're playing some good stuff. Our results could be better, but we're looking forward to Sunday. I want to go there and play at a good tempo."
Leeds will have Rui Marques and Alan Sheehan available for the match whilst Jermaine Beckford and Malcolm Christie are both injured.
I will report on the match once it concludes.
Put simply, PSV looked to be heading straight towards defeat, were thoroughly out-played for eighty minutes by Heerenveen but scored twice in the last ten minutes to earn a point in a 2-2 draw. Trond Sollied's side took the lead sixteen minutes after the start with Croatian international Danijel Pranjić providing Roy Beerens the ball, with the veteran finishing without hesitation. Andreas Isaksson held Heerenveen out till twenty minutes after the restart when nineteen year-old Paulo Henrique made the PSV defenders look horribly inadequate and sweeping into the left of the goal, crossed perfectly to Roy Beerens for the second of the night. With the PSV goal under seige, Andreas Isaksson made a number of saves to keep them in the match. With nineteen minutes remaining Reimond Manco entered the match for Francisco Rodríguez and immediately served-up a cross to Danny Koevermans who headed the ball to the back of the net. Five minutes later troubled Serbian international Danko Lazović sent a perfect through-ball to Stijn Wuytens who neatly chipped the ball over Heerenveen 'keeper Kenny Steppe who dove towards the ball and into the goal. A remarkable ending to a match that PSV is very lucky to have escaped with a point.
PSV returns to action next Saturday against FC Groningen
Dortmund manager Jürgen Klopp heads into the match without the services of Sebastian Kehl and Nelson Valdez. Wolfsburg will need to tread carefully as BVB possesses an extremely enterprising attack that includes Jakub Blaszczykowski, Alexander Frei, Egyptian international Mohamed Zidan and the always dangerous Tamás Hajnal.
Wolfsburg is still without Grafite but otherwise fully-fit. Ashkan Dejagah will step-in for the injured Brazilian alongside Edin Džeko and as per the Braga match, fit in perfectly with the attack led by Zvjezdan Misimović.
I will report upon the match as it concludes.
Amongst the backdrop of historic Bologna, the club has been languishing at the bottom of the Serie A table after being promoted last year. Yet with little fanfare, earlier this month the management of the club made one of best tactical moves of the year bringing in Siniša Mihajlović from Inter. With a career that started with legendary clubs FK Vojvodina and Crvena zvezda Mr. Mihajlović is a managerial up and comer in the sport and the perfect man to drive Bologna out of the relegation zone. Incredibly over the last three matches the club seems to have already channeled his gritty demeanor and squeezed out 1-1 draws to Roma, Siena and Palermo.
With this in-mind, Genoa needs to scrap all scouting reports pre his arrival and realize Stadio Luigi Ferraris is the setting for a battle. For those who appreciate the finer aspects of the beautiful game, such as hard-tackling and every blade of grass fought-for, this will be your match to watch on Sunday. While I am more than aware Gian Piero Gasperini's side have yet to drop points at home, this match must be treated with special care if they are to keep that streak alive.
On the injury front Genoa will be without the services of Giandomenico Mesto, Francesco Modesto, Matteo Paro and Marcel Román for the match whilst Siniša Mihajlović's forces are missing Massimo Marazzina, Gabriele Paonessa and Sergio Volpi.
Bologna will go forward in a 4-4-1-1 formation with the following possible lineup:
Cristian Zenoni,Claudio Terzi, Vangelis Moras,Salvatore Lanna
Coelho, Nicola Mingazzini, Gaby Mudingayi, Francesco Valiani
Marco Di Vaio
Recommended formation for Genoa would
Sokratis Papastathopoulos,Matteo Ferrari,Giuseppe Biava/Salvatore Bocchetti
Marco Rossi,Omar Milanetto,Ivan Jurić,Anthony Vanden Borre/Boško Janković
Giuseppe Sculli,Diego Milito, Raffaele Palladino/Andrea Gasbarroni/Boško Janković
The final decision on the lineup must equally be based upon weather conditions as heavy rain could slow play considerably.
I will report on the match as it concludes
This will naturally be the subject of much debate and will need to be dealt with by Joe Kinnear. While Obafemi treated the situation incorrectly and should have made his way to the bench, it also needs to said that club needs to deal with a problem dealing with playing time. While in the past the Nigerian international has often been described for this pace and raw athleticism, over the last year his game has sharpened to a fine point and he should be a regular from start to finish. This is a perplexing problem with the leadership of Michael Owen and Mark Viduka incredibly important for the club during the tough stretch run but it is also impossible to deny Obafemi's game is on the rise with considerable more upside. As you throw in the possibility of Michael Owen moving elsewhere with his contract set to expire shortly, this situation needs to be dealt with efficiently and with an eye towards the future.
When asked of the situation Newcastle coach Chris Hughton said:
"It's not an issue, you always want players to be disappointed when they're substituted. Oba didn't want to come off and that's a good thing."
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Obafemi Martins can come close to giving Newcastle the lead ten minutes before the break but his shot clanged off the bar to safety. Presumably Gareth Southgate rattled the war drums at the break as 'Boro came out on the attack and dictated much of the play. As expected, Turkish international Tuncay Şanlı was a typical whirlwind creating chances but his efforts went unanswered. Twenty minutes after re-start Mark Viduka was introduced as you might expect "warmly" received by the 'Boro fans where he spent three seasons before coming scooting up the A19. The Melbourne native immediately got himself into the mix and with roughly twenty minutes remaining he looked to be on the end of the scoring drive but his volley was blocked by Austrian international Emanuel Pogatetz. "Mad Dog" Pogatetz, in his normal warm, delightful manner, was all over the pitch today and thwarted a number of glorious Magpie opportunities. Heroics were in-store for Shay Given as he robbed Justin Hoyte with sixteen minutes remaining in what seemed destined to be the go-ahead goal. The final piece of drama was saved for the introduction of Mido into 'Boro's lineup and while the Egyptian international wasn't able to create the winning goal, he appeared to be confident and well on the way to full recovery.
If there was a drawback to the match it is the Obafemi Martins reaction of being substituted by Mark Vidulka as he immediately made his way to the dressing room, ignoring his teammates. Somewhat confidently, I expect Joe Kinnear to deal with the situation with all the charm and suave demeanor we've come to expect.
Newcastle returns action next Saturday as Stoke City visits St James' Park.
The Rangers were empty of attacking flourish and I suspect Hearts 'keeper Jamie MacDonald might be feeling a bit spry this evening because he certainly won't be fatigued from the match. Hearts took the lead twenty minutes in as skipper Christophe Berra's header was saved by Allan McGregor but the rebound came to Marius Žaliūkas and the on-loan FBK Kauna-man snapped the ball into the net. Only three minutes later, another rebound off a Christophe Berra attempt, resulted in a goal as the hot-tempered Laryea Kingston headed-in the ball. A further three minutes later Rangers drew one back as a Kris Boyd header pinballed off the bar and Christos Karipidis into the net. With the score 2-1, Rangers were unable to launch a reasonable effort. With twenty-four minutes remaining, the Gers were gifted a man advantage as Lee Wallace was sent off with his second yellow but still they could not break-through and the match ended with Hearts winning 2-1.
After the match, Walter Smith said:
"Hearts did well but we made it easy for them and we didn't create an awful lot up front. That was surprising because we've made a lot of opportunities in previous matches but never came up with any of note many here. Hearts deserve credit. They had their players back in position and played very much in the manner we played in a number of games last season. They did very well. We spent the last hour of the game almost entirely in Hearts' half of the pitch but never really created any opportunities to score.""You're going to miss players of that quality but you're going to go through the season without some people and there are no excuses there.
"We're still good enough without them. I felt in the first 20 minutes or so that we struggled in a defensive sense by giving away too many fouls. That gave Hearts the opportunity to get the ball into our area and we ended up losing two goals from such situations. With the consistency Celtic have shown, any points that we drop are a blow to us and it certainly means the three Old Firm games left are ones where the pressure is on us. We deserve that because we didn't deal with set plays well today. Normally we defend well but against Dundee United we gave away two bad goals. Those little bits of inconsistency have plagued us in games and that has been costly for us."
The Rangers return to action next Saturday against the Hamilton Accies.
While a good showing against PSV might be the only way to save Trond Sollied's job he will be weighed-down with the loss of Mika Vayrynen to suspension and Michel Breuer, Michael Dingsdag, Bonaventure Kalou and Geert-Arend Roorda to injury. Thrown into the mixer with the other problems, the veteran Norwegian football manager, Sollied, has his work cut out for him.
However on the opposite end of the pitch is PSV and with respect, the great champions are not playing like great champions. At times they barely resemble last years side, lack discipline, intensity and defending resolve. Their noted manager Hubb Stevens looks to be pulling his hair out as he continuously questions his players desire and with good reason. Yet the big problem might be the classy organization is beset with internal squabbling seen with outbursts from Danko Lazović, Edison Méndez and a benching of Carlos Salcido, explained due to a language barrier. While the problems related to Lazović and Méndez have been dealt with behind closed doors, the situation regarding Salcido isn't just troubling for the club but disgusting at the sport level. Given that on any pitch you'll hear at least six languages at any one-time and we all learn to communicate, to bench a player because he has a tough time grasping the domestic language definitely doesn't come from other players and makes you question what precisely is going on in Eindhoven. Returning to the pitch, their defensive lapses have been endless this year and Heerenveen must be confident and assertive as they push forward. PSV will be without Ibrahim Afellay, Nordin Amrabat, Erik Peters, Dirk Marcellis and Jan Kromkamp for the match.
Jürgen Klopp said of the Karlsruhe lineup”
“Although it was almost the same team as in Hamburg, the match in Karlsruhe was clearly a step forward. We were very present especially in the first half.”
Full preview to follow.
For Twente, they are in the odd position of trying to put aside last weekends match and not let it get them over-confident. They have an important mid-week UEFA Cup match against Schalke 04 coming up on Wednesday and will need to have veterans Blaise Kufo and Kenneth Perez fully recovered so it is likely to influence the lineup. Steve McClaren gave no indication of changes in his pre-match press-conference and merely noted the competitive nature of matches between ADO and Twente. Although historically this has been a very tough match with a opportunity to advance in the UEFA Cup riding on a victory over Schalke, I expect a few key lineup changes with veteran Romano Denneboom playing a greater role.
Interestingly enough the club has been notably quieter with the media and presumably they are looking at this strictly in business terms. With only three matches remaining for the long winter break, Werder is ninth in the table a full eleven points off Hoffenheim and showing little signs they can make up for lost ground.
Thomas Schaaf will be handicapped with the loss of Tim Wiese and Petri Pasanen, both injured in practice as well as Mesut Özil, Daniel Jensenand Martin Harnik. In addition to this the club is grappling with physical fatigue but most worrisome, rumours of internal leadership battles. Eintracht Frankfurt is equally having its problems and given their injury list are doing quite well at twelfth position. Their injury list is remarkable as they are without a near full-side including Bosnia and Herzegovina international Zlatan Bajramović, Ümit Korkmaz, Christoph Spycher, Christoph Preuß, Alexander Meier, Oka Nikolov, Chris, Krešo Ljubičić and their captain, Greek capped Ioannis Amanatidis.
It will be critical to get off to a good start and bring the home fans off their seat in support or this will become a trying test.
Prior to the match Hubb Stevens commented:
“I don’t believe it will be hard to put the Champions League defeat against Atlético Madrid behind us. We will face a new challenge when we take on sc Heerenveen on Saturday night and we will do our utmost to get a good result. I just hope Heerenveen will be in the same form as last week, but actually I’m afraid they will aim to bounce back from their humiliating 6-0 thrashing at the hands of FC Twente.”
I'm not sure if there was a joke intended with that but I would not expect Heerenveen to lay-down at all and in-fact will look to respond in-front of their great fans.
Hubb Stevens continued to discuss PSV's issues:
“This squad needs to be really focused all the time in every single game. The coaching staff should see to it that PSV will be sharp and show fighting spirit tomorrow night.”
With that comment I completely agree. PSV needs to address their own motivation and resolve.
I will report on the match as it concludes.
On the injury front Hearts will be boosted with the return of Laryea Kingston and Deividas Česnauskis but missing Mike Tullberg and Saulius Mikoliūnas to injury with Michael Stewart in the sin-bin. The Rangers have Saša Papac and Madjid Bougherra back but still are without Steven Davis and Kenny Miller.
I will report on the match as it concludes.
Standing in the way of success this afternoon is the Gareth Southgate led-Middlesbrough. There is no conceivable reason why Mr. Southgate isn't lauded on a daily basis for his explempary work but incredibly after a stellar playing career, he picked-up in the managerial world with similar abilities and consistently have 'Boro ready to play with the best of the Premier League. While his club is coming off two sub-par performances, first a draw to Everton and last weekends dreadful loss to Bolton they will receive a major boost today as just-in-time for the match their great striker Mido returns from injury. Newcastle must pay particular care with the Egyptian striker as he is one of the most potent attacking options in the Premier League and coupled with Turkish international, Tuncay Şanlı, a fully-fit 'Boro is certainly capable of winning a sport in the new UEFA Europa League
On the injury front Newcastle's Damien Duff and Shola Ameobi are out but both Mark Viduka and Steven Taylor are available. While he shouldn't be expected to see a great amount of playing time, if at all, the impact of Mark Viduka will be enormous and a major emotional lift for the Magpies. As you would expect of this great derby, it will be a spirited affair without a blade of grass given-up easily.
I will report on it as it concludes.
Friday, November 28, 2008
"Sunday is a massive game. Yes, we owe the fans a derby win even though we did win two trophies last season. Losing both games was extremely disappointing. It is a massive game for the players, the fans and the club - especially after what has happened at City with the takeover."
The ex-Everton boy who once swore his loyalty, added:
"It will be nice to show them who are the kings of Manchester. I missed both derbies last season and that was really frustrating having to watch when you cannot do anything about it. I am looking forward to Sunday. It doesn't irritate us that City are getting all this publicity. If they were winning trophies it would irritate me but while they are still lingering in mid-table I am not really too bothered about it."
"I was told that I will have no contract for next season. I must just accept it because of the differences in how we think."
Urawa let go Holger Osieck in the spring of the year after leading them to the AFC Champions League title the year before. In keeping with the clubs preference of German managers, Volker Finke, formerly of SC Freiburg is rumoured to be meeting club president Mitsunori Fujiguchi following the Gamba Osaka match.
Joe Kinnear said of the injuries:
"We'll have to wait and see, but both players are doubtful at the moment
"We don't know if they'll be fit enough but we'll know more on Saturday morning."
Said the wily Scot:
“Where are they at the moment — excuse me!
“At this moment in time it is Chelsea and Liverpool who are sitting above us.
“What Sparky Hughes does with the money at City is for the future.”
While City readies to fill Eastlands with top-shelf talent and make a run for the top spot, Man Utd has quietly announced that FK Partizan virtuoso Zoran Tošić has been granted a work permit. Once settled the young Serbian international will have a tremendous impact on the clubs fortune with his tough as nails approach and attacking genius.
Deportivo were clearly the aggressor and showed a great deal more confidence from the start of the match. Attacking at free will, Feyenoord responded by moving on their back-heels and at thirty minutes Atlas product Andrés Guardado's cross was redirected in by Alberto Lopo. Whether it is biased optimism or not, Feyenoord seemed to slowly level the overall play of the match and were able show a few modest scoring opportunities including Luigi Bruins powerful drive that was nicked just wide. However after the re-start things took a turn for the worse as the lead was doubled with Kevin Hofland the victim of an own goal. Down by two, confidence died fast and within the minute the match was 3-0 as Andrés Guardado found the back of the net with Cristian Hidalgo providing the chance. Feyenoord re-grouped and while they weren't able to get on the score-sheet they held Deportivo, who were definitely looking to add to the score, off.
For Het Legioen, it is an obvious disappointment with another loss but I want to remind you this is a club of the future, who respects bringing Footballers up through developmental programs. I am far too biased to be honest of this but I appreciate their commitment to the youth and believe in their future.
Everton head physiotherapist Mick Rathbone commented on the injury:
"James twisted his right knee last Friday. He will be out until the new year. The only saving grace is that it is not the knee he has had so much trouble with in the past."
Unfortunately this is a rather "textbook" consequence of a player rushing back from injury as he had surgery on his left knee earlier this year. Independent sources confirmed to me that this was to soon and the clubs off-pitch training protocols that have been the question of many.
Official word out of St James’ Park is that Joe Kinnear has been handed the reigns for the season. Managing Director Derek Llambias said of the situation: “Joe has done an excellent job since coming to the Club and everyone is delighted that he has agreed to remain in charge for the rest of the season.”
In the official statement Joe Kinnear said:
“Ever since I came to Newcastle United I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“The players have been great to work with and the fans have made me feel at home since day one.
“We have a big challenge ahead of us for the rest of the season but together I’m confident we will make good progress.
“We have some very good players already at this club and hopefully we can further strengthen the squad in January and I will be working very closely with the directors to try to achieve that.”
Naturally during this extremely difficult time we all want the very best for the Magpies and hopeful of his success with the clubs. Truth be told this was likely the only opportunity for the club as few managers would be interested in the position. That is a difficult pill to swallow and one I would prefer not to say but sadly it is the truth. The problems of managing go far beyond common tactics on the pitch but relate to the lack of control of player personnel and the enormous financial constrictions. With the later many are aware that the club needs to maintain a positive balance in the transfer market as their will be no additional internal funding but this is further weighted with the financial burden of added costs of borrowing. Professionally speaking from a coaching perspective, I am very aware that the club’s internal structure has constricted considerably and lacks many services that should be a part of a Premier League club. Yet with all this in-mind, it is painfully obvious as much as there might be managers you prefer to lead the charge, Joe Kinnear might be the best man in-fact as he not only understands the unique problems but is ready to tackle them head-on.
"They feel it might be a grade two which can be anything from two-to-six weeks but he's a fit lad and that's a big thing.
If it is grade two tear, he is best served to look at a six to eight week recovery period or this injury could potentially plague him not only throughout the balance of the season but his career as well. Besides being unfathomable why Leeds hasn't had an MRI performed at this time and there is no medical reason why not his rehabilitation cannot be rushed or it will create a series of problem including leaving him susceptible to related injuries.
While Jermaine Jones posed a few scoring attempts towards Man City goalkeeper Joe Hart, their was little to report on the attacking end thereafter. A full thirteen minutes before the break City was gifted the first goal with Benjani being handed an attempted defending clearance and easily driving the ball int. The comedy of errors continued after the break with Stephen Ireland scoring on a miserably played ball that should have easily been dealt with by Schalke's defenders. A sloppily played 1-2 between Benjani and Ireland bounded up in the air. Manuel Neuer rushed to defend and made a early academy error by leaping up early and Ireland drubbed a ball beneath him. With the score now 2-0 and the whistles filling the arena the match was effectively over. While UEFA's press outlet called Man City's performance "classy" I wasn't aware Footy was a formal occasion and I would simply say they out-played a team that played foul. This should have been an easy win and they turned it into a loss.
After the match Fred Rutten said:
"In the first half an hour the game was fairly even. We had one or two opportunities like the one for Jermaine Jones, for example."
"The first goal was a chain reaction of mistakes. Kevin Kuranyi lost possession, but they were still a long way from our goal. What followed was one individual error after another."
"We didn't perform well enough to win the game. In the final half an hour there was no belief that we could draw or even win the game. We had the occasional chance, but not the confidence to score."
"I feel we deserved to lose the game. We're very disappointed, even though we were up against a very good team. It hurts to lose, but we'll have no time to dwell on it because we have another important game in Stuttgart on Sunday."
A good leader delivers the information straight-up and without sugar coating. He's right, it was horrible and the 54,000 plus crowd and all the fans deserved better.
Mateja Kežman opened the scoring five minutes into the match as he capitalized on a loose ball just outside the area and slammed it into the back of the net. Péguy Luyindula doubled the margin two minutes after the half-hour mark, as a beneficiary of a Jérôme Rothen through-ball but with five minutes to the break Sammy Traoré was the unfortunate victim of an own goal. Ten minutes after the re-start Racing Santander's Gonzalo Colsa brought the match level driving the ball behind Mickaël Landreau from twenty-five meters out. In the final twenty minutes Guillaume Hoarau and Stéphane Sessegnon were brought-in as PSG hunted for the equalizer but it wasn't to come and match ended in a 2-2 draw.
For dedicated PSG followers, don't fret about this match because it is painfully obvious how it isn't truly considered important by Paul Le Guen or the executive branch. While I completely disagree with the approach, it doesn't appear that it will change.
PSG returns to action this weekend against Stade Rennais.
Wolfsburg returns to action next Sunday against Borussia Dortmund.
"We were up against some of the best players in Europe at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, yet we were well organised. In fact, it was the best I have seen Habib Beye perform since I came here. But really both he and Fabricio Coloccini have done well all season, and Sébastien Bassong showed what a good player he is when he is in his normal central defensive position. And I must say I thought José Enrique handled Joe Cole as well as I have seen anybody do."
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Returning to the match, Joe Kinnear believed that a defender Claudio Cacapa was fouled by Andrew Johnson and said after the match:
"Cacapa was on the ball and Johnson completely pushes him out the way, nicks the ball and gets the penalty.
"We have got the Mickey Mouse referee doing nothing. He's made an error that cost us."
Well now, I can imagine like myself your ears are burning with such scandalous words. Excuse my horrible volley at humour but while it is fine when coaches launch into four-letter tirades, or athletes conduct themselves without consideration of the youth who look up to them, commentary of officiating being "Mickey Mouse" is where the FA decides line needs to be drawn? While I warrant respecting officiating is extremely important the FA needs to consider actions before they make such rulings.
While it might be of some surprise to find me defending Joe Kinnear given my detest for his public outburst, this is a joke, albeit an expected one from the FA. Possibly the worst management Football association in the major nations and certainly one with most "interesting" hidden agenda's of its business partners, if it decides to actually police public behaviour it ought to at least start with material issues.
In their final match of the year in-front of their faithful supporters at Luzhniki, CSKA displayed a passion for the attack all-the-while holding strong to rock-solid defending. Just past the half-hour mark, teen sensation Alan Dzagoev opened the scoring off a perfect feed from Vágner Love. Russian international Yuri Zhirkov continued his stunning year as he volleyed in Anton Grigoryev's pass in added-time to double the margin. After the break Franciszek Smuda's side dug-in and fought back into the match with Bosnia and Herzegovina international Semir Štilić perfect free-kick past Igor Akinfeev six minutes past the hour mark to bring the match within one. The visitors continued to apply pressure but could not break through again and CSKA took the 2-1 victory.
With that said the opening lineup has been just posted and it certainly appears that the Stade Rennais match on the weekend is still the priority. The lineup for Racing Santander is:
Ceará, Sammy Traoré,Mamadou Sakho, Sylvain Armand
Younousse Sankharé, Grégory Bourillon, Jérôme Rothen
Fabrice Pancrate, Mateja Kežman, Péguy Luyindula
I will report on the match as it concludes.
I will report on the match as it concludes.
Simão gave Atlético Madrid the lead fourteen minutes into the match when Carlos Salcido's clearing effort proved dismally inadequate and lead to the 1-0 lead. While the home side had no support in the cavernous stadium they were in complete control of the match and could have easily doubled if it wasn't for the work of 'keeper Andreas Isaksson. However two minutes before the half-hour mark as Simão's corner struck Francisco Rodríguez in his mid-section and came to Maxi Rodríguez, who neatly struck the ball to the back of the net. With a two goal lead, the benefit of miserable defending blunders, PSV decided to start to play some Footy and were able to draw one back with Danny Koevermans poaching on a loose ball in-close two minutes after the break. PSV fought hard back but couldn't break through and once again, the lesson that defense will win championship is shown.
PSV will returns to Eredivisie action on Saturday to face Heerenveen.
Referring directly to the absence of Robinho, Mark Hughes said:
"Learning to play without him is something we have to do because we may have to rest him at times during the season. He's played every game since he came here and we need to look after him, but ideally we want him to get over his injury first."
Tactically Sparky gave clue that City would be satisfied with a draw:
"A draw would not be a bad result, if we win both homes games but pick something up away then you are in a good position to go through. Schalke will obviously be looking to get a positive result, but if we can get some points here and win at home then maybe seven points will be enough.
"Having to travel to Europe between big games is what the big clubs have to deal with, and that's what we are aspiring to.
"It will be a full house, with 60-odd thousand people, it should be a great occasion. We have to be ready because it will be a difficult game for us."
"We are missing three key players, so the option of resting players has been taken away from me to an extent. We had a positive result at the weekend, so we are looking to build on that leading into the derby.
After guaranteeing a Champions League spot for next season Valery Gazzaev's forces are gearing up for a major run at continuing Russia's hold on the UEFA Cup. CSKA presently sits at the top of Group H after easily dispatching Feyenoord and Deportivo de La Coruña in prior matches, notable for Vágner Love offensive flourish and the typical hard-line defensive stance. Earlier this month Lech Poznań played Ligue 1 Nancy Lorraine to a peculiar 2-2 draw that featured a number of defending errors and is in desperate need of points if they are to advance.
This match will be impacted by the chill of late autumn in Moscow with temperatures slightly above freezing. The pitch at Luzhniki, which has seen extensive play on it this fall is in fine condition and should not be an issue. Vágner Love certainly has made a point to dispel the notion that Brazilian Footballers have problems in cold weather conditions and has been on fire of late. While they lost their final match of the year against now-relegated Shinnik Yaroslav, the match had no impact upon standings and as Russian international Aleksei Berezutskiy stated "we were not motivated" and "we could not forget that this match did not decide anything."
While a draw will see Koni through, Valery Gazzaev wants to win their group without a blemish and will be ruthless against the Polish side. CSKA is well rested and given that this the final match of the year and the last time they play before their legion of fans, a resounding victory is the only acceptable outcome.
Enjoy the match and I will report on it as it concludes. For those looking for updates during the match, please comment.
"This is a UEFA Cup match. I don't want a team of goody two-shoes out there on the pitch. There will be times when rugged tackling is called for. Not the stupid kind, that damages our own prospects but our opponents must be made aware that they are up against a side that can hold their own."
"Commitment and willpower are the ingredients that will decide this one. It's time for us to show the colours. The great thing about football is that every week you have the opportunity to take things down a more positive path. We have to make a start with that on Thursday."
Die Roten have a number of injury concerns with the biggest issue being Jens Lehmann who is will and will be a match time decision with Alexander Stolz waiting in the wings. Yıldıray Baştürk is nearing match fitness and when ready the Turkish international will provide a significant boost however he is out along with Matthieu Delpierre, Sami Khedira and Sebastian Rudy.
Of the opposition Markus Babbel said:
"They have a good team and an exceptional player in Antonio Cassano. We can't allow the Italians to get a grip on the game and we need to constantly press forward to create chances of our own. Thomas Hitzlsperger will remain my captain. He is an experienced player and as such he must fly the flag for the team."
"Obviously I'm looking forward to this match. I played here for four years, four beautiful years. My son was born there, we won everything there was to win at domestic level in Spain. We celebrated winning the Spanish title, we won the Spanish Cup, and did that in Madrid on the day Real celebrated their centenary. We won two Super Cups and in my final year I was the top scorer in Europe. I'm looking forward to going back there for the first time in almost six years. My return brings back emotions, both for me and the people here. Just going out on the pitch at the Riazor for training on Wednesday evening was very special to me. That was the moment to let all the memories and emotions take over. For me it is beautiful we drew Deportivo away, but for sporting reasons for Feyenoord it would have been better to play at home. From my own experience I know how hard it is to win here, but we will have to if we want to stay in the race."
Following this past weekends crowd pleasing 3-1 victory over ADO, Feyenoord is unbeaten in three matches and taking solid steps as their young guns continue to grow with confidence and prowl for victories.
Injuries are the concern as Gertjan Verbeek will not only be without Jonathan de Guzmán but Diego Biseswar, Serginho Greene, Denny Landzaat, Jon Dahl Tomasson and Ron Vlaar. The Spanish side is dealing with a number of injuries including Rodolfo Bodipo and Julian de Guzmán will need to meet his brother after the match as both are injured.
Enjoy the match and let me hear from Het Legioen
Werder started with extremely strong intent and were clearly the aggressor but for all the pace and intent, they lack the final punch in the final third of the pitch. Seventeen minutes after the break Nikos Nikolaou scored for the hosts off a Sávio corner where he was left unmarked in a highly unprofessional manner. The goal definitely picked up the spirits of the Cypriot side and six minutes later as Sávio benefited from poor defending and pilfered an easy goal off a rebound. Down by two, Werder showed resolve and benefited Nikos Nikolaou adjudged to pulling Aaron Hunt in the area. With the spot pointed-to, Diego easily converted to draw one back. Werder attacked endlessly and with three minutes remaining Hugo Almeida rocketed an opportunistic drive to the back of the net to bring the match even. Almeida was gifted another chance at time wound down but the Anorthosis ‘keeper came up with a match saving stop and the match ended 2-2.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Schalke manager Fred Rutten will be without the services of Albert Streit and Serbian international Mladen Krstajić while Man City has a heavy injury list for the match including Robinho, Pablo Zabaleta and Gelson Fernandes. In addition to this concern Mark Hughes must balance the demands of this match with the high-priority derby against Man Utd this weekend.
Sparky's comments, "Ideally we would like to get qualification in the bag as quickly as possible. If you pick up a point somewhere on your travels and win your home games then it is often good enough to get you through to the knockout stages", lends you to believe that City will likely play with a heartier defensive minded approach.
Schalke enters the match with a roster boastful of brilliant talent including an attacking trident of Kevin Kurányi, Jefferson Farfán and Turkish international Halil Altıntop. While they have been under-performing at this stage they have the ability score with a flourish and to not give a blade of grass up in defense.
I will report on the match as it concludes.
While noting the match on the weekend against Stade Rennais and all Ligue 1 competition, he stressed that the UEFA Cup would not be "sacrificed." Stressing that there he will use the same eighteen players as with Olympique Lyonnais, he did not that "however there will be some rotations." Noting that the Schalke match was different because of the Olympique Marseille match on the following weekend, he suggested the the Racing Santander affair would be different because it is at Parc des Princes.
Questioned about priority of domestic or European competition he reiterated that whilst not sacrificing the UEFA Cup the basic competition is Ligue 1 and while Sunday's match against Rennes if of greater importance, "it is not question of neglecting UEFA Cup."
Emphasizing his appreciation of European competition he added, "I always made good runs in Europe (competition) and considered it very exciting to play in but it is necessary to take into account our total position.”
With the trip to Germany, Mark Hughes noted:
"Ideally we would like to get qualification in the bag as quickly as possible. If you pick up a point somewhere on your travels and win your home games then it is often good enough to get you through to the knockout stages.
"We will go to Germany looking for a positive result and that is how we approach every game. There is no reason why we cannot go to Schalke and cause them problems.
"We had a perfect start to a big week with the win over Arsenal but what we have to guard against is tomorrow night's game impacting negatively at the weekend.
"I have had experience of that before but the good thing is that there is not a great deal of travelling, we will have two full days training and will be in good shape for the derby."
While Cluj upset Roma 2-1 at Stadio Olimpico earlier, both clubs have been going through quite a few things. Domestically Cluj is showing signs of exhaustion with sixteen matches in the last two months including this weekends 2-1 loss to Pandurii Târgu Jiu. Roma seems to be well on the road to recovery as they stampeded Lecce 3-0 this weekend.
Maurizio Trombetta said of Roma's recovery:
"I would say that things have settled down," adding "Roma were struggling to integrate new players back then and had injury problems. Now they are playing well, second in the group."
Cluj is hampered with the possible loss of Gabriel Mureşan and Juan Culio with each being decided just before the match-time. Tony and Didi are both out for extended periods and will not be back this year.
Cluj will continue to play its tight defensive plan in a 4-5-1 formation and try to lock out Francesco Totti and coming with scoring coming from a Yssouf Koné counter attack. If Cluj comes with a victory, it will need to come through strong play from Ciprian Deac in the mid-field who has been playing extremely well of late.
Felix Magath named the following side for the battle in Portugal:
Rodrigo Alvim, Andrea Barzagli, Diego Benaglio, Caiuby, Ricardo Costa, Ashkan Dejagah, Edin Džeko, Gentner, Makoto Hasebe, Josué, Jacek Krzynówek, André Lenz, Alexander Madlung, Zvjezdan Misimović, Riether, Mahir Sağlık, Marcel Schäfer, Jan Šimůnek, Cristian Zaccardo
For City supporters there are extensive changes to come with forays at many top-shelf players being considered as part of the "new" Man City.
"When we're going away to grounds - I don't watch Northampton week-in week-out, but the effort used by them, is that the same every week here? If it was, they'd maybe be up in the similar position as us in the league."
"We knew it would be different from the cup tie."
"They made it very difficult, they got in our faces and in the first half we never got going at all.
"In the second half we responded well and got on the front foot, but two bad goals again."
"We go in at half-time and I'm looking for a response again and I did get that - it was like night and day.
"I'm not looking for excuses for the first half but Northampton came and pressed and pressed and we were a little bit naive I felt - still trying to play too many passes when it might have been a night for knocking it a little bit longer.
"Second half we did knock it a little bit longer and got up behind it and looked a better team."
While it is true Leeds might not have played with the fight needed, it should be noted it would be difficult to see it because they continue with tactics that minimize their strengths and effectively allow the opposition to regroup with slower paced play. With Robert Snodgrass and Jonny Howson rooted on the bench, Leeds is a highly predictable smash and grab attack. If Leeds does not change their approach I dare say I will be blogging next year in League One with Leeds once more.
As it relates to Robinho, Sparky commented:
“The medical staff will have to have another look at Robinho again. If his ankle is still as sore as it was yesterday he definitely won’t travel. His ankle is swollen after he twisted it during the Arsenal game on Saturday."
On Pablo Zabaleta he added:
“Zabaleta has a sore thigh. He didn’t train yesterday and they are not yet sure if he will make it in time. He is another that they will need to have to look at in the morning.”
Gelson Fernandes will definitely be out for the next three-plus weeks with a pulled hamstring.
"He's not far off it, I can tell you. Obviously he hasn't had games but you might find that he's on the bench on Saturday."
"What we decided to do with Mark was to ask him to try and come back into training."
"We didn't want to hurry him up because we don't want to risk him breaking down again but if he felt like he could come back into the sessions then we were happy for him to do that.
"It was a matter of bringing him back gradually and seeing what he could manage but he's surprised us all.
"He's got better and better as the days have gone on and some of the things he's been doing have been excellent. We'll see how he goes now but there is a chance of him being involved."
"He's a good personality and another one of the leaders that I've got in the squad."
"He's a terrific player to have back in and around the team."
While I am obviously guilty of finding the silver lining, the club does appear to have turned the corner in the last three matches and actually playing some defense. The weaknesses of poor work ethic, caused by questionable levels of fitness have made a measurable improvement recent, evidenced in the nil draw to VfL Bochum, the 3-1 victory over FC Köln and the 2-1 loss to Hamburg in the Nord derby. Although there is much left to be desired, it is a start in the right direction.
In the opening match against Anorthosis Famagusta, Werder was was humbled at home with the Cypriot squad playing to a nil draw. The high energy attack that the Green Whites boast was a trickle, were shot after shot were off target and their opposition followed a point-by-point plan on the way to the draw. While obvious, to be victorious in Cyprus, Werder must not only continue their return to defending but find the ability to finish, which equally has been a problem.
Werder heads into the match with Sebastian Boenisch and Clemens Fritz confidently able to play but both decisions will likely be wait till the last minute. Mesut Özil, who is suspended domestically suspended will be able. Anorthosis Famagusta will be boosted with the return of Arian Beqaj but Traianos Dellas and Cedric Bardon are questionable.
Show some support of our Green Whites today!
Leeds returns to action this Saturday against Histon in the FA Cup.