Lost in Translation

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.

Strachan starts against Estonia

 In 2014 football will truly return home and Scotland has about as much chance as the Vatican City of making it. An awful start to the qualifying campaign sees us languishing at the bottom of Group A, 2 points from 4 games and 8 points of the pace.

It has been a hideous start and about as salvageable as the Titanic. The more you think about it the more depressing it gets.

 Even if we win all our remaining games there is little chance of making one of the 8 play-off places.

New manager, Gordon Strachan will probably be in Brazil, as a pundit for ITV. His aim must be France 2016 and building a team at least capable of competing for one of the 24 places available.

New Scotland manager Gordon Strachan

It is not an insurmountable mountain to climb but it is Kilimanjaro rather than Ben Nevis. Scotland has an adequate first 11 who thus far have under-achieved but we do not have the riches of say Belgium or Croatia (Both of which are in Group A).

 

The current strongest 11 is probably as follows:

 

 

 scot

 

These players, barring Jordan Rhodes are the most experienced players available. The younger players such as Fraser Fyvie , Tony Watt, Johnny Russell and Gary Mackay Steven should  evolve through the under teams and B squads.

 Players such as Robert Snodgrass, Danny Fox, James Forrest, Barry Bannan, James McArthur, Christophe Berra and Graham Dorrans will be in the full squad and be drafted to cover injuries, suspension or loss of form.

Next month’s friendly against Estonia will be little more than a welcoming party for Strachan, it matters not.  The qualifiers start again next month with a double header against Wales (home) then Serbia (away).  An away fixture against Croatia follows in June before the remaining fixtures are played in August September: Belgium (home), Macedonia (away) then Croatia (home).

Strachan’s big test and chance to ingratiate him with the Scottish support will come on August 14th when the Tartan hordes travel down to Wembley. By that time the English will have qualified for Brazil but it will afford us the chance to get a rare win against the Auld Enemy.

Don Hutchison scores versus England in the last  derby.
Don Hutchison scores versus England in the last derby.

Long time ago in a galaxy far away, the winning of this fixture was of paramount importance nowadays however it will have little resonance and in Scotland’s case a consolation prize for not making Brazil.

2012 FIFA Ballon d’Or Shortlist

2012 FIFA Ballon d’Or Shortlist:

Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid C.F.)
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)
Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid)

Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid)
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)Leo Messi (FC Barcelona)
Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)
Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)
Xavi (Barcelona)
Gerard Pique (Barcelona)Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Robin van Persie (Manchester United)

Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Mario Balotelli (Manchester City)
Yaya Toure (Manchester City)

Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
Andrea Pirlo (Juventus)

Neymar (Santos)

Didier Drogba (Shanghai Shenhua)

Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG)

Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)

Ecuadorian teams hopeful in the Sudamericana

The Ecuadorian teams had a mixed bag in the first leg ties of last weeks Copa Sudamericana but with a little luck they could all progress.

Liga de Loja had the toughest task against Brazilian giants Gremio and although they secured a credible home draw they will have their work cut out in Porto Alegre. Especially after losing the away goal. Yimmy Bermudez took the lead for Loja in the first half before a Larrea own goal restored parity 7 minutes later.

Emelec secured a fine 2-2 away draw in Chile against current Sudamericana  holders Universidad de Chile and should be confident of progress for the return and although Barcelona lost to Sao Paulo  they should also overcome the Brazilians in Guayaquil.

The most impressive result was Deportivo Quito’s against Tigre of Argentina. The negro azules have been truly awful domestically and until recently relegation was a realistic threat.  Both teams eventually finished the game with 10 men but importantly Quito got tow goals through Lorca in 53 minutes and Vila in the 86th.

     Deportivo Quito       2 – 0                Tigre

                  Liga de Loja         1 – 1           Sao Paulo

                      Barcelona         0 – 1            Gremio

Universidad de Chile        2 – 2         Emelec

All to play for in CONMEBOL qualifiers

 

Such is the format of South American (CONMEBOL) qualifying that one double header of matches can drastically change the various team standings. While Bolivia,Peru and Paraguay look to be increasingly separated from the pack all the other teams still have realistic chances of qualification. Especially with 5 possible berths for Brazil up for grabs.

Unsurprisingly Argentina lead the pack but only by a solitary point over Ecuador and a resurgent Colombia.

QUALIFYING STAGE TABLE
POS TEAM P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Argentina 7 4 2 1 15 6 9 14
2 Ecuador 7 4 1 2 8 7 1 13
3 Colombia 7 4 1 2 12 6 6 13
4 Uruguay 7 3 3 1 15 11 4 12
5 Chile 7 4 0 3 12 13 -1 12
6 Venezuela 8 3 2 3 7 8 -1 11
7 Peru 7 2 1 4 9 13 -4 7
8 Bolivia 7 1 1 5 7 12 -5 4
9 Paraguay 7 1 1 5 5 14 -9 4
Of all the teams to compete next week Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Ecuador have the most to gain with 2 matches each. The only problem is they are competing for the same 6 points.
The glamour tie on Friday is Argentina vs Uruguay with Messi, Arguero, Tevez against Suarez, Cavani and Ramirez. A win for either may see them top the table, a loss and it’s a long plane journey to their respective  away ties following.
Ecuador have two winnable games against Chile at home the Venezuela away. 6 points would see them rocket to the top depending on Argentina’s results.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2012
Time Stage Venue
20:00 GMT Bolivia  v  Peru Qualifying Stage Hernando Siles
20:30 GMT Colombia  v  Paraguay Qualifying Stage Roberto Meléndez
21:00 GMT Ecuador  v  Chile Qualifying Stage Atahualpa
00:00 GMT Argentina  v  Uruguay Qualifying Stage Mundialista Mendoza
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2012
Time Stage Venue
20:00 GMT Bolivia  v  Uruguay Qualifying Stage Hernando Siles
22:00 GMT Paraguay  v  Peru Qualifying Stage Defensores del Chaco
22:00 GMT Venezuela  v  Ecuador Qualifying Stage General Anzoátegui
00:05 GMT Chile  v  Argentina Qualifying Stage Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez

Deportivo Quito shine in the rain

 

 

Deportivo Quito put their domestic  form behind them to record a fine home victory in the Copa Sudamericana yesterday.

Despite facing the relative might of Tigre for Argentina, the”Chullas” battled to a fine 2 – 0 success putting them in a strong position to progress to the next round. The torrential rain might of helped Deportivo but they did deserve their win courtesy of two 2nd half goals from Lorca in 53 minutes and Vila 86′.

The other Ecuadorian teams play tonight:

Universidad de Chile vs Emelec
Liga de Loja vs Sao Paulo
Barcelona vs Gremio

 

In Ecuador the Serie A is teetering on the edge of a referee strike and a suspension of coming games. Head of the referee’s association Alfredo Intriago, feels that the match officials have received undeserved criticism following some controversial games.

Much like Scotland’s SPL a couple of years ago the officials are prepared to withdraw their involvement scuppering any chance of top flight games.

The conundrum that is Giovanni Dos Santos

Yesterday, in a friendly game against Brazil Giovanni Dos Santos once again showed why he can be such a mercurial and frustrating footballer. The 23 year old Mexican collected the ball far on the left wing and from a near impossible angle floated the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net. Whether it was a moment of inspired genius or a miss-hit cross is debatable but what is not in doubt is the potential skill and ability of this baby faced, midfield dynamo.

Similarly, in last year’s Gold Cup final against the USA, Dos Santos provided a moment of magic when he dribbled past a scrambling Tim Howard then chipped a perfect shot over a gang of defenders and into the goal.

These are two of many acts of genius that Mexicans hold dear and it is why the followers of “El Tri” treasure “Gio “so much. The problem for supporters of Tottenham is why he doesn’t show this form for them.

 Guardado,Dos Santos and Chicharito for Mexico

Since signing from Barcelona in 2008 Dos Santos has mustered a paltry 17 appearances for Spurs with the majority of games being in the Carling Cup or Europe League. His time at White Hart Lane has been extremely disappointing and has led to him being farmed to Ipswich Town, Galatasaray and Racing de Santander.

It is clear that Harry Redknapp rates the Mexican but his patience seems to have finally worn out. As far back as 2010 he said;

‘If he [Dos Santos] could pass a nightclub as well as he can pass a ball, he would be all right.’

Unfortunately Dos Santos has not heeded the warnings and now seems destined for an exit from White Hart Lane.

Baby faced Giovanni was born into a footballing family. His Brazilian father played for Mexican League teams in the 80’s and his brothers Eder and Jonathon play for Club America and Barcelona respectively.

Dos Santos burst onto the international scene during the under 17 World Championships where his displays earned him the Adidas Silver ball, second behind Manchester United’s Anderson. Barcelona were quick to recognize his potential and he was drafted into their famed youth squads.

Again in the under 20 World Cup in Canada his performances were enthralling, quickly becoming Mexico’s key man and although his team were eliminated in the quarter finals by Argentina he was awarded with the Adidas Bronze ball.

Football journalists and pundits were gushing with the praise, and he was heralded as the next Maradonna( or maybe Hugo Sanchez), it seemed like the world was at his feet.

Maybe guilty of impatience at Barcelona he then unwisely opted to move on to Tottenham and while his chances may were thwarted by messrs Messi, Iniesta and Xavi at the Nou Camp, Modric, Krankjar and Lennon were often before him on match days at White Hart Lane.

 The lesser spotted Dos Santos for Spurs

But while his club form has stalled in England for Mexico Dos Santos has become a pivotal figure and his performances often have a bearing on Mexico’s final result.

His displays for Mexico have earned him a runner-up award for the FIFA Young Player of the Tournament award at the 2010 World Cup and player of the tournament at 2009 Gold Cup. He inspired Mexico to Gold Cup successes in 2009 and 2011 and his afore mentioned goal against the USA was voted best of the tournament.

Playing behind the main strikers he often creates opportunities for his team-mates with incisive runs and close ball control. When given an opportunity to score he is composed usually electing to round the keeper and slot into the gaping goal. He reminds me of Gianfranco Zola although not as physically strong, this may be why he is struggling in the rumble tumble of the premiership.

Regardless of where he plays his club football Dos Santos will be a main stay in the Mexican team and as a result future World Cups.

Recently he was linked to Swansea and Brendan Rogers but it remains to be seen if the Liverpool coach continues his interest with his new club.