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Summary of September

Posted by Daniel Stone on October 2, 2007

adebyor.jpgI haven’t been able to write on the blog over the past month of September as I have been working on a different Project, which hasn’t been finished as of yet either! Therefore as I have been away for an entire month I think it’s a good idea for a summary of all the main things that occurred during the month of September:

Premiership

·         Thierry who?? Arsenal have started the season amazingly and notched up 6 successive victories in September which leaves them sitting prettily at the top of the Premiership and their Champions League group. Many pundits had said they would suffer the loss of Thierry Henry, however, his loss seems to have vindicated the Arsenal youngsters who have since stated that Henry had been a burden on their development (Cesc).

·         Manchester United have taken over the old old Arsenal (Tony Adams legacy), having won 1-0 six times in their last eight games. Boring Boring United! They are not firing on all cylinders as of yet but they are still in contention for the Premiership title.

·         To the contrary, Chelsea have successfully pressed the self-destruct button. Do you think Roman Abramovich has realised he made a mistake in sacking Jose Mourinho? Of course he doesn’t because this is just a game for him where he can spend his pocket money. The best decision Abramovich made was appointing Mourinho and the worst was sacking him. Yes Mourinho was sacked to the contrary ‘mutual consent’ malarkey coming out of Stamford Bridge and Mourinho himself.

·         Derby will be the first team to get relegated and might even be challenging Sunderland’s record as the worst Premiership team to get relegated.

La Liga

·         Real Madrid are somehow top of La Liga. I say somehow as they are not playing attractive football but winning. Take the last game against Getafe for instance, Getafe dominated the entire 90 minutes having 20 odd shots on goal but somehow Real came away with the 3 points. Their luck will soon run out so Schuster better get his troops into gear and playing this ‘attractive’ football we were promised!

·         The new galacticos, Barça, are relying heavily on the new Diego Armando Maradona. It’s amazing to see how similar Lionel Messi is to that great player Maradona was. Even Thierry has stated that if Messi keeps up this form he will go down as one of the best players of all time which goes to show just how well Messi has been performing this season. Thierry himself hasn’t performed as well as we have all become accustomed YET, oh yeah I forgot, he did score a hat-trick at the weekend, but prior to that he has struggled.

·         Sevilla are going through a rough patch, I don’t know if it has anything to do with the death of Antonio Puerta. My dear condolences are with his family and friends, his wife was eight months pregnant with his child. It truly is a very sad story. I really like the way Sevilla have played over the last two years and let’s hope they can get back to winning ways after 4 straight defeats, win another trophy and dedicate it to the magnificent Antonio Puerta.

Champions League

·         After the first round of games there were no really shocks apart from Fenerbahce beating Inter and Chelsea drawing with Rosenborg at home . The second batch of matches commence today, bring it on!

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Posted in Arsenal, Barcelona, Chelsea, Derby County, La Liga, Manchester United, Premiership, Real Madrid, Sevilla | Leave a Comment »

Champions League draw

Posted by Daniel Stone on August 30, 2007

championsleague.jpgHere you have the Champions League draw. There isn’t really any group that will be classed as the Group of Death as the big teams seem to have been kept apart, for the time being!

Group A:Liverpool, Porto, Marseille, Besiktas

Liverpool and Porto should have absolutely no problem advancing to the next stage. Marseille, with Cisse, lost Frank Ribery in the summer and have had a very average start to the French League this season. Besiktas are bound to finish rock bottom.

Group B:Valencia, Chelsea, Schalke 04, Rosenborg

This group is similar to the previous one with the top two too powerful for the lower seeded teams. Chelsea knocked Valencia out of last season’s Champions League so the latter could be seeking revenge. Schalke 04 do not possess enough resources to trouble the big two. Rosenborg, no chance!

Group C:Real Madrid, Werder Bremen, Lazio, Olympiakos

Depending on the Real Madrid that turn up, this group could be quite open. Real Madrid had a very poor pre-season but have since started well in La Liga. However, Werder Bremen, Lazio and Olympiakos will be difficult to separate.

Group D:AC Milan, Benfica, Celtic, Shakhtar Donetsk

This group is probably the most competitive, taking away AC Milan. The holders shouldn’t have any problems progressing, although it will be very tight between Benfica (who have a new manager, Jose Camacho), Celtic (very hard to beat at Celtic Park) and Shakhtar (who have invested heavily on improving their squad).

Group E:Barcelona, Lyon, Stuttgart, Rangers

Last season I would have said this would be quite a difficult group for Barca but Lyon have started this season very slowly in contrast to previous years. Second place is up for grabs but I can’t see Rangers competing.

Group F:Manchester United, Roma, Sporting Lisbon, Dynamo Kiev

The major talking point of this group is Roma visiting Old Trafford for the second season in succession and after being humiliated 7-1 at the Theatre of Dreams (or nightmares in their case). United will take Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani back to their previous team, Sporting Lisbon, so it will be interesting to see the reception they get. I can see any of the top 3 qualifying.

Group G:Inter Milan, PSV Eindhoven, CSKA Moscow, Fenerbahce

Inter Milan have had an irregular start to their campaign but they should be qualifying along with PSV. It will be interesting to see how Roberto Carlos’ Fenerbahce get along. Moscow can also be a daunting place to go in winter.

Group H:Arsenal, Sevilla/AEK Athens, Steau Bucharest, Slavia Prague

Assuming Sevilla go through (they do lead AEK Athens 2-0 after the first leg) this seems to be the weakest group of the lot. I will be amazed if Arsenal and Sevilla do not qualify from this group.  

Posted in Arsenal, Barcelona, Champions League, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Sevilla, Valencia | Leave a Comment »

La Liga full of shocks

Posted by Daniel Stone on August 27, 2007

antoniopuerta.jpgLa Liga got underway this past weekend with plenty of goals, entertaining football and a long list of shocks. Although there was some wonderful football, what happened at Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán overshadowed all the football. Antonio Puerta suffered two heart attacks and is still in a critical condition. Let’s hope he will have a speedy recovery.  

Barcelona started their campaign with new signing Thierry Henry on the bench, with such a star studded frontline there was no room for him in the starting line up. One may wonder, if Henry is used as a substitute he may end up regretting his move to Sunny Spain, in contrast to the King status he had back at the Emirates. Back to the proceedings at El Sardinero (Racing Santander’s stadium), Henry came off the bench and came closest to breaking the deadlock with a shot that hit the post. The fantastic four (Barcelona front line: Messi, Ronaldinho, Eto’o & Henry) couldn’t have imagined starting the season firing blanks! Racing also threatened at the other end but the deadlock could not be broken as the game finished 0-0. Shock number 1. 

Other shocks include all three newcomers to La Liga starting with convincing victories; Almeria beating Deportivo 0-3 away, Valladolid beating UEFA Cup finalists Espanyol 0-1 away and Murcia beating Champions League hopefuls Zaragoza 2-1 at home. Shock number 5 came at Mestalla, Villarreal battering title credentials Valencia 0-3. The latter had two stars sent off; Joquin for dissent and David Villa, for mouthing off and diving The Spanish FA have said they will not be tolerating diving in La Liga this season, so let’s see how long this will last as a downfall to this great league is that players do fall theoretically all too often. 

Finally, Real Madrid endured a moral boosting win over neighbours Atlético Madrid. The pundits were predicting an away win (or even stating that this was the best chance Atlético had in beating Real in many years, this due to Real Madrid suffering their worst pre-season in many many years). After the first minute this looked the case after the all so reliable Guti (NOT!) lost his marker, Aguero who headed the ball in at the back post from a corner. Real moved up a few gears (they started in reverse to be honest) and took control of the game, playing entertaining football (as Schuster promised). Raul headed in the equaliser and before the winner came Sergio Ramos hit the post with a header as did Guti with a free-kick. In the 79th minute Wesley Sneijder popped up with the winner striking from 20 yards out which evaded Leo Franco via a deflection. These were the remaining results: 

A. Bilbao 0 – 0 Osasuna

Sevilla 4 – 1 Getafe

Mallorca 3 – 0 Levante

Recreativo 1 – 1 Betis

Posted in Almería, Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Deportivo, Espanyol, La Liga, Murcia, Racing, Real Madrid, Sevilla, Valencia, Villarreal, Zaragoza | 2 Comments »

‘Tapping up’ – part and parcel of football

Posted by Daniel Stone on August 1, 2007

cashley-cole.jpgIt must be intriguing to know how football transfers are done nowadays, and through the press I think we are pretty much well informed, although you mustn’t believe everything you read! Due to the press coverage on football nowadays, ‘tapping up’ has become a frequent phrase associated with football. I think it is important to define what is classed as tapping up. I believe there are two levels: 

  • First of all we have a mellow sort of ‘tapping up’. This occurs when a manager comes out and states his interest for a player who is already contracted to a club. Ok, so far there has been no contact with the player but the player could still become unsettled. (E.g. Today Schuster has stated that Kaka will be playing for Real Madrid this season or next. Ramon Calderon, the Real Madrid Chairman is the main culprit, constantly using the Spanish press to unsettle players, tried to do the same thing with Cesc Fabregas.)

  • The next level is when the club chasing a player actually makes contact with the player without the players’ club’s permission. Two seasons ago Cashley Cole was made a scapegoat for being caught talking to Chelsea without Arsenal’s permission. My question is, why was he made a scapegoat when we know it happens all so often? (E.g. Owen Hargreaves with Manchester United, Arjen Robben with Real Madrid, Thierry Henry with Barcelona, Claude Makelele with Chelsea and there are many more.)

Many former players and managers involved in football (E.g. Gary Lineker) state that tapping up has been around ever since the beautiful game was invented. So, is there any reason it shouldn’t be legal? 

A problem there is with tapping up is that a club can unsettle a player that was previously happy with his club and contract. This then means the selling club has limited powers when it comes to negotiating a price for the player, especially the case when the chasing club is powerful (E.g. Real Madrid).

A perfect example was José Antonio Reyes’ hoax call. An impersonator from a Spanish radio station rang Reyes pretending to be Real Madrid’s former Sporting Director Emilio Butragueno, stating Real Madrid wanted to sign him. Reyes replied saying he would be delighted to make the move as he was unhappy in London – just over a year later, Reyes wore the Real Madrid shirt!

Posted in La Liga, Real Madrid | Leave a Comment »

Reyes snapped up by ATLÉTICO Madrid

Posted by Daniel Stone on July 30, 2007

reyes.jpg Atlético Madrid have snatched José Antonio Reyes from under the noses of their arch rivals Real Madrid. It was an almost certainty that Reyes would be playing in the Real Madrid white strip for the up and coming season but Atlético had something else in mind. It hasn’t been officially confirmed yet but the deal is practically done. 

Real have missed out on Reyes due to their complete and utter arrogant behaviour. Reyes spent last season on loan at Real Madrid in a deal that saw Julio Baptista move in the opposite direction. The agreement was that if the deal was made permanent Real Madrid would have to pay Arsenal £2m. However, after a disappointing season in the Premiership, with few moments of brilliance (4 goals against Liverpool come to mind) Arsenal decided against making Baptista’s move permanent.  

On the other hand, Real Madrid were still keen on keeping Reyes but refused to pay the amount agreed when the player went on loan. Real offered no more than £4m, pretty insulting considering Arsenal had paid £10.5m only 3 years earlier. Atlético have since made a superior bid of £6m which Arsenal have accepted. The ironic thing is that last summer Atlético offered £8million for Reyes, which Wenger dismissed as an insult! 

What makes this even more bizarre is that Atlético and Real are arch rivals (as big as Liverpool and Man U, the Heinz saga comes to mind) and Reyes, excuse my language, doesn’t give two monkeys where he plays this season as long as he doesn’t have to go back to London. I never thought London was that bad!? Some kind of loyalty to Real considering he scored the two winning goals on the last day of the season which sent the Merengues (Real fans) into raptures delivering them their 30th La Liga title.  

There will be more in the near future on the Spanish football media and the subject of players being ‘tapped up’ by interested suitors. The latter the reason for Reyes’ price tag having dropped drastically.

Posted in Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, La Liga, Real Madrid | 2 Comments »