I bet there’s a few soldiers of Oranje waking up to sore heads this morning but their hangover will be soothed with the knowledge they had just witnessed one of their greatest ever World Cup victories. Not even the most fervent of Nederlanders would have predicted such a towsing last night and neither would any Spaniard expected such a second half capitulation.
Many are already predicting an early flight home for the Spanish similar to the French in 2002 but that is to ignore the merits of recent dominance of the International game. It is still well within their powers to pick up the remaining 6 points against Australia and Chile but any type of repeat of yesterday will see them home before the tournament has really started.
It could be an end of an era for the Spanish and the majority of neutrals would prefer to see another captain than Casillas lift the trophy but they still have squad picked from the best of La Liga teams including finalists of this year’s Champions League.
Vincent Del Bosque will have a few decisions to make not least on whether or not o drop his stalwart keeper, Iker Casillas. The Real Madrid keeper has had a poor couple of seasons since falling out of favour initially with Jose Mourinho. Both Pepe Reina and David de Gea are waiting to usurp the faltering Captain and will be confident of filling his boots. Similarly Del Bosque may have to tinker with a defence which was easily over run by the marauding Robben and deadly Van Persie last night. Costa made an inauspicious competitive debut but managed to fool the referee into a poor penalty decision. When he was finally replaced the enigma that is Fernando Torres the team seemed to be weakened with Torres missing an open goal and generally running about aimlessly.
The Dutch however realistically only need to capture 3 more points to proceed to the next round. Chile and Australia looked evenly matched despite the 3-1 win for the South Americans last night and the Dutch should feel confident of beating either of the two. Louis Van Gaal seemed to have figured out the perfect way to extinguish the tiki-taka form of football of Spain last night. His defenders were solid and stoic with help from backtracking midfielders and their quick turn over counter attack bypassed the Spanish centre midfield leaving Robben the run of the last third of the field. The Dutch winger can impress and frustrate in equal measure and often he can be greedy at the expense of others however his close control and confidence to beat players in the box last night was a pleasure to watch. He should have had a third goal but his volley was almost too perfect and it was blocked on the line.
Most of us would have been aware of the stars of the Dutch team but the majority of the squad is made up of young Eridivisie players or squad players from Europe’s 2nd to 3rd tier teams. It is these players together with an often previously lacking team spirit and unity that could win the Dutch their first Word Cup.
It seems like the BBC and assorted British press are a dog with a bone in regards to FIFA and the World Cup. They still can’t believe that Qatar got awarded the tournament despite their questionable attitudes towards gay people, workers conditions and the unbearable heat in their desert location (nobody has really mentioned they aren’t even a football country either). In the end the bid executive committee said those Englanders were too arrogant and entitled in the process, which is clearly impossible from such a humble and fair minded organisation like the FA. Or maybe the old commonwealth countries were getting a little jab back at 200 years of colonialism? Typically Scottish made an arse of themselves and backed the English FA when the fight was already over.
FIFA seem to stumble through one controversy after another and bat off documentaries, investigative journalist pieces, newspaper headlines and TV news segments like Brian Lara on crystal meth . If it is not Sepp Blatter blabbing some archaic opinion, its stories about shady deals and back handers between confederations and presidents. In truth its hard to see what would actually topple the “blazers” in Switzerland.
And what to England or the English footballing fraternity set to gain from it??
The FA were keen enough to cosy up to FIFA during their bid for hosting the tournament. Quite happy to spend 20 million on the whole process and roll out a grinning David Beckham to give that extra razzmatazz . Maybe they feel scorned because they were promised a proper tilt at the bidding process or even assured of a victory (which in itself would be illegal).
Even if Qatar are proved to be corrupt in their successful election as 2022 hosts the World Cup will not go to another Euro country so close after Russia in 2018 (Russia are all right by the way, they have no problems with racism or homophobia).
2026 could be their next available slot but by that time an asteroid will probably plummet into the atmosphere filling the skies with noxious gasses which shall decimate the human population but leave the good animals like lions, tigers and bears (oh…my) to roam freely and eventually set up their own World Cup.
So as FIFA “step up” their investigation into “acts of wrong doing” don’t hold out for some startling findings. The beans will not be spilled and England will not the get the World Cup any time soon.
ps. If England invite Scotland to bid as some kind of dual “we invented the game and gave it to you lot” special anniversary World Cup i retract everything above.
For those who missed it :
“Build a bonfire, build a bonfire
Put Rio on the top
Put Anton in the middle
Then burn the f****** lot”
Was the supposed chant by the England fans at the Montenegro match on Tuesday night.
It did not escape the attentions of Football anti-racism network Fare who duly reported the singing as having racial overtones.
Coupled with the sickening chants at the San Marino game it seems that English will have to accept that they, too, have a racist element in the hordes. It will be a bitter pill to swallow given that the FA and supporters have been tirelessly clapping themselves on the back and quickly pointing the finger at everyone from Spain to the Ukraine, of late.
This comes after a suspension for their former captain, John Terry and the “Kick it Out” campaign in ruin.
Oliver Holt in today’s Mirror hits the nail on the head:
If You have only one passion in life – football – and you Pursue it to the exclusion of everything else, it Becomes very dangerous. When you stop Doing This activity it is as though you are dying. The death of That activity is a death in itself.
The elimination of Manchester United and Arsenal may have provoked much introspection and wailing from the English media but the lack of English (or British) involvement does not lessen it’s quality or appeal.
Malaga v Borussia Dortmund
Real Madrid v Galatasaray
PSG v Barcelona
Bayern Munich v Juventus
The Spanish big guns are still involved and brimming with confidence following their last 16 performances.
They are joined by their countrymen, Malaga who have progressed in spite of their financial problems.
Chilean coach, Manuel Pellegrini is the club’s main source of strength, working miracles like he did at Villarreal. It’s no surprise that both Manchester City and Chelsea seem eager to secure his services for next season.
The next tie however may be a bridge to far.
Dortmund have floundered badly in the Bundesliga this term but flourished in the Champions League. They topped the Group of Death : Manchester City, Real Madrid and Ajax and went on to beat Shakhtar Donetsk in the last round. For many they are the form team of the competition and outside, favourites.
Real Madrid progressed via a dodgy red card decision.Of course this is not true as Real had more than been a match for Manchester United prior to Nani’s expulsion but the decision did change the game.
With Ronaldo at his peak, Mourinho’s expertise and a gaggle of Galacticos they should dispatch Galatasaray and move into the semis.
Then again, this is probably what Manchester United and Schalke thought and both suffered at the feet of the Turkish giants.
PSG have finally come good after huge investment. The recruitment of Ezequiel Lavezzi, Lucas Moura, Javier Pastore and talisman, Ibrahimovich is finally paying dividends but It remains to be seen if they can overcome a resurgent Barcelona.
Many predicated that Barca would tumble out of the CL at the hands of Milan. Those same people heralded Barca’s 4-0 turnaround has the greatest ever quarter final club performance. Regardless, the Spanish champs have found their mojo after their mini-slump and 2 El Classico defeats. Could be the tie of the round.
Last up we have Bayern against Juve. Two giants of European football.
Munich stumbled against Arsenal, more due to overconfidence than anything. They are currently waltzing to the Bundesliga title and arguably have the most complete first team squad.
Juve soundly beat Celtic over 2 legs and will be hoping-like in last year’s Euros-German opposition brings out the best in Andrea Pirlo. The “Old Lady” are quickly becoming are Euro-powerhouse again but I think it is a year too early for the Italians.
Croatia vs Serbia (Friday 5pm)
Away supporters have been banned from this Group A grudge match but it shouldn’t lessen the atmosphere.This will be the first Balkan derby since the bitter conflict from 1991-1995 and the tie goes well beyond just football.
Croatia share the lead with the top of Group A with the fashionable Belgians and will enter the match as heavy favourites. A defeat more or less confines Serbia to the realms of Group dunces along with Scotland and Wales.
It remains to been seen if it “kicks off” at kick off.
Czech Republic vs Denmark (Friday 7.30pm)
Both teams need to get their act together if they are to catch up with Italy at the summit of the group. A draw does neither team any good, while a win re-energizes their faltering campaigns.
Poland vs Ukraine (Friday 7.45pm)
Both teams failed to set the heather alight as hosts of Euro 2012 and have to step up to claim a play off spot. Montenegro top Group H with England 2 points behind.
Montenegro vs England (Tuesday 8pm)
The Baltic minnows will relish the chance to bloody the nose of the English and cement top spot of the group.
France vs Spain (Tuesday 8pm)
The battle of the giants in group I is surely the tie of this months International dates. Both teams are tied with 7 points after 3 games but should have 10 points after their respective home games against Finland and Georgia. Spain have to slip up at some point, hopefully in the Stade de France.
Luis Suarez has become the latest player to be caught out with loose chat to journalists.
I’m not sure why players constantly make this same mistake. Especially in these days of 24 hour news dissemination and social media. All to often foreign players let their guard and blab to their fellow countrymen seemingly unaware of the consequences.
The Uruguayan and Liverpool centre forward was asked by a Uruguayan newspaper if he desired to leave Liverpool.
He answered :
“If another team comes around with more prospects of competing in international club competition games, which is willing to have [me], they are welcome.
“We would talk to the club, and we would see if I want to go or if I don’t want to go.”
Although it is wasn’t a stinging rebuke of the Merseyside team nor a definite answer, it could be seen as criticism of Liverpool’s faltering campaign under Brendan Rodgers and a statement of intent.
Suarez is a top class player and needs to playing in the top class club competition : the Champions League. He would probably be awarded the Player of the Season the is year (if he benefited from a better public persona and as little less condemnation by the media).
It’s hardly surprising that he has his eyes on greater prizes than the FA and League Cup.
Although Liverpool are historically a big club they have fallen away in recent years, failing to break into the top 4 Champion League places. A failure to match the huge spending of Manchester City and Chelsea along with managerial chopping and changing has contributed to their demise.
If Liverpool lose Suarez he will be very difficult to replace. Much like Fernando Torres before him, Suarez has become the focal point of the Liverpool team. To the point that players are bought, sold and picked to complement him eg. Andy Carroll.
Unless Rodgers brings a top quality attacker with either a huge price tag – Falcoa,Cavani-or a young prospect with huge skill, he will have to start his “long term project ” from scratch.
It is unlikely that Liverpool will finish in the top 4. It would take a complete collapse by Spurs, Arsenal or Chelsea combined with an impossible winning run by Liverpool. As a result Suarez will be a target for almost all of the big continental teams. Bayern are supposed to be interested along with Barca and Real Madrid.
|Deportivo Cuenca||1 – 0||Emelec|
|Barcelona||3 – 1||Olmedo|
|Técnico Universitario||1 – 3||El Nacional|
|Liga de Loja||2 – 1||Independiente del Valle|
|Liga de Quito||1 – 0||Manta F.C.|
|Deportivo Quito||0 – 4||Macará|
|3.||Liga de Quito||
|4.||Independiente del Valle||
|8.||Liga de Loja||
Accumulated points over both etapes (stages).
|3.||Liga de Quito||
|4.||Independiente del Valle||
|5.||Liga de Loja||
On Sunday it was back to the Atahaulpa Stadium to watch the current champions : Deportivo Quito against the champions elect: Barcelona.
Although i arrived with my friend at the stadium 15 mins before the game it took at least half an hour to get into the Atahaulpa. Long lines were snaked around the ground with the police doing their disorganised best to slowly, filter the throngs throw the narrow, turnstiles. One gate was for blue and red bedecked fans of Deportivo the others for the vast amount of yellow, Barcelona” hinchas”.
Only when Barcelona had scored and the many fans became restlessness did the police and authorities begin to shepherd the fans through at a acceptable rate.
Barcelona enjoy a huge support in both in Quito and Guayaquil and are probably only matched in popularity with Liga de Quito. Although the base of support is in Ecuador’s biggest city they can count on supporters from all over the country.
In much the same way Rangers and Celtic attract fans from all over Scotland, Barcelona and Liga gather the most fans from all over Ecuador.
In recent years the Quito teams have dominated league titles with Deportivo Quito, El Nacional and Liga sharing 9 titles between them. You have to go back to 1997 for Barcelona’s last title although city rivals Emelec did win the title in 2001 and 2002.
Upon entering the stadium it was clear that the Deportivo Quito fans or “chullas” were totally outnumbered by about 4-1. The yellow and black of Barcelona covered 70 % of the stadium and with their team already 1-0 up to a Nina header they were in fine voice.
Deportivo had only the main stand to fill and numbered around 6-7,000 but as their were some spare rows of seats the police began to funnel some yellow and black fans into the Deportivo end. This did not go down well with hardcore members at the front and they immediately rushed to confront to the opposition, forcing them back into the Barcelona section. A few bottles were thrown and insults traded but in truth it was little more than handbags from very, young looking “hooligans”. The riot police and their batons and Alsatians seemed to dampen their enthusiasm.
nI such an atmosphere it’s sometimes difficult to concentrate on the match, especially when you know Deportivo are so poor in front of goal and have little chance of scoring but the game ebbed and flowed with Barcelona seemingly content to let Deportivo attack.
Luckily, again we had the benefit of enthusiastic beer vendors and police were happy to let us stand at the back and peer over the crowd.
Much has been made in the Ecuadorian media about the country’s hooligan problem but in the 20-30 matches i have attended here in Quito I have yet to see some trouble bar the throwing of plastic bottles or the odd plastic beer cup. It’s certainly no where near the levels that the UK or Europe had but i guess it doesn’t take much for things to get out of hand. The police were very aware of the threat and quick to intervene.
The only kerfuffle in the terraces today happened in the Barcelona hoards in the south stand. A yellow shirted youth (my friend was convinced it was a girl but not I) was thrown around like a rag doll and unceremoniously booted and punched through throngs of people and out of the exit. It was unclear what he had done to deserve this treatment but it must have been bad as his own brethren turned on him. The police pounced on him and escorted him away.
In the end Barcelona won two nil, thanks to; some dreadful refereeing decisions, two Deportivo red cards, some dreadful Deportivo forward play and a wonderful free kick form Michael Arroyo in the 90th minute (who in turn was strangely red-carded).
The Barcelona fans were ecstatic at the end, knowing they had all but secured their first title in 15 years while the Deportivo Quito fans solemnly shuffled out of the Atahaulpa. A feeling they have known all to well in a disastrous season.
Barcelona all but sealed the Segunda Etape title (and overall championship) with a lucky win against Deportivo Quito yesterday.
They took the lead through a Narcisso Mina header in the 13th minute then seemed happy to sit back and let Deportivo control the game. However it quickly became clear that Deportivo were not going to score especially when they lost Paredes to a second yellow and Morales to a straight red in the second half.
Deportivo were finally punished for their profligacy in front of goal when Arroyo sealed the win with a fine 30 yard free kick in 90 minutes.
Elsewhere, Emelec confirmed their involvement in next years Copa Libertadores by winning 2-1 at home against El Nacional while Olmedo cemented their relegation to Segunda B after another home loss, this time to Deportivo Cuenca.
Independiente recorded a fine win against Liga de Quito. A Daniel Angulo strike in 57 minutes was enough to grab 3 points and continue their push for a Libertadores spot. The team from Sangloqui are universally recognised as the best youngsters in Ecuador and it remains to be seen how many of their players they can retain for next season, especially with their links to Spurs and the bigger Ecuadorian teams circling
The final places are calculated over the two “etapes” or stages and as Barcelona should win both their will not be a final play-off match this year.
With two teams to be relegated to the Segunda B El Nacional, Macara or Ted de Universitario may yet join Olmedo and drop down a division. This would be particularly disastrous who are an historic giant of Ecuadorian football with a record equaling 13 championships.
With two games left to play it should be a a tight end to the bottom of the Serie A.
|3.||Indepndiente del Valle||41||17||11||13||62||+4|
|4.||Liga de Quito||41||14||18||9||60||+11|
|6.||Liga de Loja||41||15||13||13||58||+4|
|11.||Tec de Universitario