Thursday, December 21, 2006
Opposites met on Tuesday evening in Bologna, in what was also a top-of-the-table clash in the Serie B.
But football is never that simple. Boca lost their match at home and found themselves with the same number of points as Estudiantes de la Plata, who had won their last game. A midweek play-off would determine the championship and Estudiantes prevailed, coming from behind to win 2-1. "The coach always has to win and when that doesn't happen, he has to go," admitted the Boca coach Ricardo La Volpe as he left the stadium - and his job.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
I had the pleasure of watching the Milan/Fiorentina Serie A clash last Saturday and as a supporter of la Viola I thought I'd post some musings. The team had a slow start to the season but have picked up a lot of momentum thus far, and had they not been saddled with the undoubtably deserved but poorly explained 15 point penalty in the Juve scandal last summer they'd currently be standing 4th. This team plays in the English style, flat 442 and features a classic big man/small man forward pairing in Toni and Mutu, though Toni certainly does offer more touch, movement and vision than your typical Frankenstein target man. They're strong up the middle, they play wide and they seem to be full of confidence. I think they’d be a great matchup with any of the English teams in this years Champions league, had they not squandered this year’s entry through massive corruption and dishonesty. The
All four sides of the ground during Everton-Arsenal game, including away fans, chanting at Graham Poll, who showed three yellow cards to the same player in the World Cup.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
You have to love Ivan Campo- while some footballers take care to meticulously groom their sideburns or shape and spike up their hair into an unmoving hipster mullhawk (Fletcher, Carrick, and unknowingly Hyypia), Senor Campo subscribes to the "free range hair" school of thought. This refugee from a brush seems to just roll out of bed in the morning and head in to work. He is also a refugee from the razor, a fact that when taken into consideration with the above grooming thoughts leads one to fairly question his other hygiene practices (tooth brushing, showering, fingernail trimming etc). He looks like the retired out of shape footballer who has let himself go and is content to lead a life of leisure (drinking gallons, eating all the pies, and Riviera romance with women half their age). Yet Ivan is even younger than me, and a perfectly fit, able player who in an unusual reverse migration has moved from central defense to central midfield. He only looks like a slob- he doesn't play like one.
At 32 the former Spanish international is in his prime, a goal scoring threat ( goal of the year contender against Spurs early in the season), a dangerous long thrower, and an able distributor who gives great cover. And he smiles when he plays. Like Ronaldinho he loves his job. He plays like he's got the best job in the world. You want player who plays with pure joy in your side. Players like Lee Bowyer seem to channel some of their inner hate on the pitch. It begs the question of how much longer Lee's police record would be if he were a bricklayer instead of a millionaire footballer. For Campo it's all roses out on the pitch- who says you can't be a tough, hard bastard and still like flowers, puppies, and white girls named Debbie too.
Ivan won the Champions League in 2002 with Real Madrid and then moved to the Northwest of England where he has not repeated this feat with Bolton Wanderers. Unlike a lot of glamorous foreign imports to the Premiership (C. Ronaldo, David Ginola, Shevchenko), Campo tops the list of solid professionals like Tugay, George Boateng, Dietmar Hamman and who do the business and play consistently at a high level without getting all the press. These are the players who make the Premiership the best league in the world. With them they bring new ideas and a more global outlook to England. Ivan Campo's teammates affectionately nicknamed him "Gyppo" for his perceived resemblance to a gypsy. -Patrick
"I've always said December is the biggest test for any football club in this country," Steve Coppell murmurs intently, "and while I don't want to wish my life away I'll be glad when we get through this month. The next couple of weeks, for all sorts of reasons, are going to tell us an awful lot about this club."
Monday, December 18, 2006
Bloody hell. Not a good weekend on the prognosis front. I only got three matches correct and had zero perfect scores. The only matches that went remotely according to plan were Liverpool’s cruise over Charlton and
It would have been an epic weekend had the top two lost but alas, it was not to be. But hey, one out of two ain’t bad and I’ll take it. I just continue to marvel at
Amid the most contentious of heated incidents, his ability to stay calm and make the right decisions infuriated old foes like Sir Alex Ferguson and ensured that Arsenal were capable of competing with the best in the land on a budget that shouldn't have allowed them to even get close.
Desperation, inspiration and intuition form a fearsome blend. Chelsea called upon all three to salvage a memorable and unlikely victory at Goodison Park.
Winning the Premiership is all about pressure: how you deal with it and how much you can apply on your opponents.
Unquestionably, the pressure is right on Manchester United after the defeat by West Ham on Sunday, which means their lead is now down to two points.