Saturday, May 31, 2008
Soccer City FC
Goalkeeper: Jens Lehmann - 38 year old keeper’s last outing for the national team. Jens has a lot to prove if he wants to continue his club career.
Left Back: Philipp Lahm - The 24 year old Bayern Munich back will prove to be an offensive threat when the defense least expects it. As long as Lahm doesn’t get tired around the 65’ mark, he should fair well.
Center Midfielder: Michael Ballack – The Chelsea midfielder is showing his age but will prove to dominate the midfield for Germany.
Striker: Miroslav Klose – The former Werder Bremen, now Bayern Munich man will have to show that World Cup form again.
Group B Opponents
Austria – The other co-host to the tournement, should prove to be an easy team for Germany.
Croatia – They spoiled England’s chances to qualify for this competition, and should prove to be not as powerful as they were in the qualification stages.
Poland – Should prove to challenge for 2nd spot in this group, and maybe even surprise Germany.
Will the 3 from Bayern Munich - Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, and Lukas Podolski, relive their 2006 World Cup form?
What if Michael Ballack goes down with an injury or proves to be in bad form?
I see them getting out of the group stages with little problem. The ability to get to the semi-finals is there, just a matter of following through.
Special to Soccer City FC
Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas - The current Spanish number one had another consistent season, topping La Liga in both saves made and fewest goals conceded, as well as making UEFA's Team of the Year. Spain's progress in the tournament could come down to how well Casillas does.
Centre Back: Carles Puyol - Coming off a disappointing season affected by injury, Puyol is nevertheless the only top class central defender in the squad. He will be crucial in organizing the weakest part of the team.
Right Back: Sergio Ramos - As one of the most creative and energetic full backs, his contribution down the right flank will be very important in a team lacking any natural right winger.
Forward: Fernando Torres - He will start either as the leading forward or the only one. Despite being the most talented Spanish striker, he has been overshadowed at times in the national team by David Villa. The time has come for Torres to fulfill his potential.
Group D Opponents
Russia - Four years ago Spain won this match 1-0, and a similar result can be expected against the the weakest team in group D.
Sweden - Solid team, with quality individuals. This should be a close game. In the qualifiers, Sweden won 2-0 at home, while Spain won 3-0 in the return.
Greece - With their defensive system, they are ideally suited to contain Spain and will be their toughest opponent in the group stage. A draw is likely here.
While Spain possess an abundance of quality midfielders such as Iniesta, Fàbregas, Xavi and Senna, finding the best way of utilising them has proved problematic for aging Spanish coach Luis Aragonés. This will be one of Spain's biggest problems, coping with his fondness of switching formations and line-ups. However, in recent games at least, something resembling a flat 4-4-2 has been used, which will be important in competing with physically stronger teams.
Reaching the quarterfinal is achievable, the question is whether further progress can be made. Whichever team emerges this "Group of Death" will prove a formidable opponent.
Soccer City FC
With the recent release of Ivan Campo from the Bolton Wanderers Football Club, we Wanderers faithful have once again been associated with some form of deep-seated affection for the Spanish midfielder. Perhaps this is off-base, and perhaps entirely out of line; however, the ultimate truth is that there hasn’t been much of a love affair with Ivan Campo in recent years, and certainly not in this past season. This lifelong Trotters faithful, and indeed it may just been this one lifelong Trotters faithful, finds it a bit unappealing to be constantly linked with such an affection, and the release of the aging Spaniard came as a great relief, despite the new holes created.
For seemingly countless matches now, Campo has come and gone practically on his own whim, leaving nothing but the imprint of his mammoth hair and often times a fiery temper. With attempt after attempt, Campo’s fantastic playmaking ability slowed considerably, and his ability to keep up with the fast paced life in the Premier League midfield went straight along with it. This isn’t to say that Campo didn’t have a vital part to play in his early days with Bolton. Indeed, he was an extremely important part of the team that helped Bolton to avoid relegation in his first season in Wanderers colours. A performance that secured him a three year contract, and a further two year contract in 06/07. He seemed to have it all in those first couple of years – the great playmaking abilities, good defensive tactics, and a hairstyle that nobody could mimic. So what happened?
Really, it’s hard to say what went wrong for Campo and the Wanderers faithful. Perhaps it was his age catching up to him (though you really couldn’t tell from the hairline), or maybe his fiery temper that had reared its head on a few occasions these past couple of seasons? Ultimately, as times changed at the Reebok, Campo’s abilities became slower and outdated for the Wanderers’ style of play. With the departure of Big Sam, and soon thereafter, Little Sam, his inability to adapt to the Wanderers’ new style became blatantly obvious. This all lead to him making mistakes uncommon of the old Campo and a vast increase in time spent in his now common role of Ivan Campo: Substituted in the ‘70th. This isn’t an attempt to make Ivan Campo look bad, nor is it to make excuses for why Gary Megson let Campo go; however, it is important for Trotters’ fans everywhere to once and for all silence the preposterous notion that the so-called “Crowd Favourite” Ivan Campo was some sort of Wanderers legend that fans would flock just to get that fleeting glimpse of.
It’s true that Campo did produce this season (1 goal and an assist on a goal), and he has shown instances where he could be the old Campo that took the Reebok by slight drizzle in 2002/2003; however, he has looked more out of sorts than anything, and shown multiple times that he simply isn’t a good fit for the Bolton midfield. We all certainly wish him well in his next endeavors, but the Reebok certainly won’t be holding an Ivan Campo “End of an Era” memorial day anytime soon.
He recently stated that he is looking forward to the Euro 2008 tournament co-hosted by Switzerland; he feels that his country has a serious shot at the tournament.
Read the news article on Gelson at the Official UEFA Euro 2008 website.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Don't forget that you can access the league tables at any moment by scrolling down the left-hand column and clicking on the table links.
2 Servet Çetin
3 Hakan Balta
4 Gökhan Zan
5 Emre Belözoğlu
6 Mehmet Topal
7 Mehmet Aurélio
8 Nihat Kahveci
9 Semih Şentürk
10 Gökdeniz Karadeniz
11 Tümer Metin
12 Tolga Zengin
13 Emre Güngör
14 Arda Turan
15 Emre Aşık
16 Uğur Boral
17 Tuncay Şanlı
18 Kazım Kazım
19 Ayhan Akman
20 Sabri Sarıoğlu
21 Mevlüt Erdinç
22 Hamit Altıntop
23 Volkan Demirel
Coach: Fatih Terim
2 Johan Djourou
3 Ludovic Magnin
4 Philippe Senderos
5 Stephan Lichtsteiner
6 Benjamin Huggel
7 Ricardo Cabanas
8 Gökhan Inler
9 Alexander Frei
10 Hakan Yakin
11 Marco Streller
12 Eren Derdiyok
13 Stéphane Grichting
14 Daniel Gygax
15 Gelson Fernandes
16 Tranquillo Barnetta
17 Christoph Spycher
18 Pascal Zuberbühler
19 Valon Behrami
20 Patrick Müller
21 Eldin Jakupovic
22 Johan Vonlanthen
23 Philipp Degen
Coach: Jakob Kuhn
2 Mikael Nilsson
3 Olof Mellberg
4 Petter Hansson
5 Fredrik Stoor
6 Tobias Linderoth
7 Niclas Alexandersson
8 Anders Svensson
9 Fredrik Ljungberg
10 Zlatan Ibrahimović
11 Johan Elmander
12 Rami Shaaban
13 Johan Wiland
14 Daniel Majstorovic
15 Andreas Granqvist
16 Kim Källström
17 Henrik Larsson
18 Sebastian Larsson
19 Daniel Andersson
20 Marcus Allbäck
21 Christian Wilhelmsson
22 Markus Rosenberg
23 Mikael Dorsin
Coach: Lars Lagerbäck
2 Raúl Albiol
3 Fernando Navarro
4 Carlos Marchena
5 Carles Puyol
6 Andrés Iniesta
7 David Villa
8 Xavi Hernández
9 Fernando Torres
10 Cesc Fábregas
11 Joan Capdevila
12 Santi Cazorla
13 Andrés Palop
14 Xabi Alonso
15 Sergio Ramos
16 Sergio García
17 Daniel Güiza
18 Álvaro Arbeloa
19 Marcos Senna
20 Juanito Gutiérrez
21 David Silva
22 Rubén De La Red
23 Pepe Reina
Coach: Luis Aragonés
2 Vasili Berezutski
3 Renat Yanbaev
4 Sergei Ignashevich
5 Aleksei Berezutski
6 Roman Adamov
7 Dmitri Torbinskiy
8 Denis Kolodin
9 Ivan Saenko
10 Andrei Arshavin
11 Sergei Semak
12 Vladimir Gabulov
13 Pavel Pogrebnyak
14 Roman Shirokov
15 Diniyar Bilyaletdinov
16 Vyacheslav Malafeev
17 Konstantin Zyrianov
18 Yuri Zhirkov
19 Roman Pavlyuchenko
20 Igor Semshov
21 Dmitri Sychev
22 Aleksandr Anyukov
23 Vladimir Bystrov
Coach: Guus Hiddink
2 Cosmin Contra
3 Răzvan Raţ
4 Gabriel Tamaş
5 Cristian Chivu
6 Mirel Rădoi
7 Florentin Petre
8 Paul Codrea
9 Ciprian Marica
10 Adrian Mutu
11 Răzvan Cociş
12 Marius Cornel Popa
13 Cristian Sapunaru
14 Sorin Ghionea
15 Dorin Goian
16 Bănel Nicoliţă
17 Cosmin Moti
18 Marius Niculae
19 Adrian Cristea
20 Nicolae Dică
21 Daniel Niculae
22 Ştefan Radu
23 Eduard Stăncioiu
Coach: Victor Piţurcă
2 Paulo Ferreira
3 Bruno Alves
5 Fernando Meira
6 Raul Meireles
7 Cristiano Ronaldo
9 Hugo Almeida
10 João Moutinho
14 Jorge Ribeiro
16 Ricardo Carvalho
17 Ricardo Quaresma
18 Miguel Veloso
21 Nuno Gomes
22 Rui Patrício
23 Hélder Postiga
Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari
2 Mariusz Jop
3 Jakub Wawrzyniak
4 Pawel Golański
5 Dariusz Dudka
6 Jacek Bąk
7 Euzebiusz Smolarek
8 Jacek Krzynówek
9 Maciej Żurawski
10 Łukasz Garguła
11 Marek Saganowski
12 Tomasz Kuszczak
13 Marcin Wasilewski
14 Michał Żewłakow
15 Michał Pazdan
16 Jakub Błaszczykowski
17 Wojciech Łobodziński
18 Mariusz Lewandowski
19 Rafał Murawski
20 Roger Guerreiro
21 Tomasz Zahorski
22 Łukasz Fabiański
23 Adam Kokoszka
Coach: Leo Beenhakker
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
2 André Ooijer
3 John Heitinga
4 Joris Mathijsen
5 Giovanni van Bronckhorst
6 Demy de Zeeuw
7 Robin van Persie
8 Orlando Engelaar
9 Ruud van Nistelrooy
10 Wesley Sneijder
11 Arjen Robben
12 Mario Melchiot
13 Henk Timmer
14 Wilfred Bouma
15 Tim de Cler
16 Maarten Stekelenburg
17 Nigel de Jong
18 Dirk Kuyt
19 Klaas Jan Huntelaar
20 Ibrahim Afellay
21 Ryan Babel
22 Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink
23 Rafael van der Vaart
Coach: Marco van Basten
2 Christian Panucci
3 Fabio Grosso
4 Giorgio Chiellini
5 Fabio Cannavaro
6 Andrea Barzagli
7 Alessandro Del Piero
8 Gennaro Gattuso
9 Luca Toni
10 Daniele De Rossi
11 Antonio Di Natale
12 Marco Borriello
13 Massimo Ambrosini
14 Marco Amelia
15 Fabio Quagliarella
16 Mauro Camoranesi
17 Morgan De Sanctis
18 Antonio Cassano
19 Gianluca Zambrotta
20 Simone Perrotta
21 Andrea Pirlo
22 Alberto Aquilani
23 Marco Materazzi
Coach: Roberto Donadoni
2 Giourkas Seitaridis
3 Christos Patsatzoglou
4 Nikolaos Spyropoulos
5 Traianos Dellas
6 Angelos Basinas
7 Georgios Samaras
8 Stylianos Giannakopoulos
9 Angelos Charisteas
10 Georgios Karagounis
11 Loukas Vintra
12 Konstantinos Chalkias
13 Alexandros Tzorvas
14 Dimitrios Salpingidis
15 Vassilios Torosidis
16 Sotirios Kyrgiakos
17 Theofanis Gekas
18 Ioannis Goumas
19 Paraskevas Antzas
20 Ioannis Amanatidis
21 Konstantinos Katsouranis
22 Alexandros Tziolis
23 Nikolaos Liberopoulos
Coach: Otto Rehhagel
2 Marcell Jansen
3 Arne Friedrich
4 Clemens Fritz
5 Heiko Westermann
6 Simon Rolfes
7 Bastian Schweinsteiger
8 Torsten Frings
9 Mario Gómez
10 Oliver Neuville
11 Miroslav Klose
12 Robert Enke
13 Michael Ballack
14 Piotr Trochowski
15 Thomas Hitzlsperger
16 Philipp Lahm
17 Per Mertesacker
18 Tim Borowski
19 David Odonkor
20 Lukas Podolski
21 Christoph Metzelder
22 Kevin Kuranyi
23 René Adler
Coach: Joachim Löw
2 Jean-Alain Boumsong
3 Eric Abidal
4 Patrick Vieira
5 William Gallas
6 Claude Makelele
7 Florent Malouda
8 Nicolas Anelka
9 Karim Benzema
10 Sidney Govou
11 Samir Nasri
12 Thierry Henry
13 Patrice Evra
14 François Clerc
15 Lilian Thuram
16 Sébastien Frey
17 Sébastien Squillaci
18 Bafétimbi Gomis
19 Willy Sagnol
20 Jérémy Toulalan
21 Lassana Diarra
22 Franck Ribéry
23 Grégory Coupet
Coach: Raymond Domenech
2 Zdeněk Grygera
3 Jan Polák
4 Tomáš Galásek
5 Radoslav Kováč
6 Marek Jankulovski
7 Libor Sionko
8 Martin Fenin
9 Jan Koller
10 Václav Svěrkoš
11 Stanislav Vlček
12 Zdeněk Pospěch
13 Michal Kadlec
14 David Jarolím
15 Milan Baroš
16 Jaromír Blažek
17 Marek Matějovský
18 Tomáš Sivok
19 Rudolf Skácel
20 Jaroslav Plašil
21 Tomáš Ujfaluši
22 David Rozehnal
23 Daniel Zítka
Coach: Karel Brückner
2 Dario Šimić
3 Josip Šimunić
4 Robert Kovač
5 Vedran Ćorluka
6 Hrvoje Vejić
7 Ivan Rakitić
8 Ognjen Vukojević
9 Nikola Kalinić
10 Niko Kovač
11 Darijo Srna
12 Mario Galinović
13 Nikola Pokrivač
14 Luka Modrić
15 Dario Knežević
16 Jerko Leko
17 Ivan Klasnić
18 Ivica Olić
19 Niko Kranjčar
20 Igor Budan
21 Mladen Petrić
22 Danijel Pranjić
23 Vedran Runje
Coach: Slaven Bilić
2 Joachim Standfest
3 Martin Stranzl
4 Emanuel Pogatetz
5 Christian Fuchs
6 René Aufhauser
7 Ivica Vastic
8 Christoph Leitgeb
9 Roland Linz
10 Andreas Ivanschitz
11 Ümit Korkmaz
12 Ronald Gercaliu
13 Markus Katzer
14 György Garics
15 Sebastian Prödl
16 Jürgen Patocka
17 Martin Hiden
18 Roman Kienast
19 Jürgen Säumel
20 Martin Harnik
21 Jürgen Macho
22 Erwin Hoffer
23 Ramazan Özcan
Coach: Josef Hickersberger
Germany 2 - 2 Belarus
*Germany's Miroslav Klose's goal in the 10th minute + an own goal send Germany up 2-0 at the half. Belarussian Vitali Bulyga ties the match in the second half with two goals.
Montenegro 3 - 0 Kazakhstan
Saudi Arabia 2 - 1 Kuwait
Czech Republic 2 - 0 Lithuania
Austria 1 - 1 Nigeria
Albania 0 - 1 Poland
France 2 - 0 Ecuador
News coming in this morning: Germany's head coach Joachim Loew has dropped forward Patrick Helmes and midfielders Jermaine Jones and Marko Marin from his Euro 2008 squad.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
"Sat, 24th May 2008 Chelsea Football Club can confirm that Avram Grant has had his contract as manager terminated today (Saturday, May 24). This follows meetings over the last two days."
Read more in the news section at Chelsea Football Club Official Site...
Who now? Frank Rijkaard? Will Roman go after Zenit Saint Petersburg's Dick Advocaat?
Friday, May 23, 2008
Goalkeeper: Oswaldo Sanchez (Santos Laguna)
Defenders: Jonny Magallón (Chivas), Julio Domínguez (Cruz Azul), and Maza Rodriguez (Chivas)
Midfielders: Sergio Avila (Chivas), Fernando Arce (Santos Laguna), Edgar Lugo (Cruz Azul), and Sergio Santana (Chivas)
Forwards: Cristian Benítez (Santos Laguna), Humberto Suazo (Monterrey), and Salvador Cabañas (Club América)
Thursday, May 22, 2008
The second leg will be played on May 26th.
In the other semi-final, Cruz Azul has a 1 goal advantage over San Luis. The second leg of this match will be played on May 25th.
- Carlos Vela obtained his work permit and is certain to factor into Arsenal's plans for 2008-2009.
- Joe Germanese finalized his developmental contract with the New England Revolution and will join the team now that his semester is complete at Duke University.
- And congrats to Manchester United. Here is a look back at a 1999 advert geared towards supporters of the club and Pepsi aficionados via YouTube.
Soccer City FC
I'd like to introduce you to another exciting footballer of the world. You might hear the name Kim Källström and think to yourself, "Is she hot?" Well the Swedes are apparently not too self-conscious when it comes to masculinity. In Sweden, Kim is a boy's name, and this boy can play.
If you aren't a follower of the French Ligue 1 Orange, or the Swedish Landslaget (National Team), Kim Källström has probably flown under your radar. The 25 year phenom is best known for his technical passing and playmaking ability. But what excites me about him is his cannon left foot, which just might rival Roberto Carlos in terms of shooting power. At least first string Swedish keeper Andreas Isaksson, who was knocked unconscious by a Källström strike during training, might agree.
To those American soccer fans, key in Kim Källström on YouTube, and you'll see exactly what you dream of Justin Mapp being. The way the two players knife through defenders…plural, is very similar. They even look alike! However, unlike the Brandon, Mississippi native, Källström appears to have the drive, focus, and top level training that Mapp is lacking. After a superb season at Olympique Lyonnais, it shows in Kallstroms consistency.
Sweden kicks off against Greece at 20:45 local time in Salzburg, Austria on June 10th. If you catch the lone Scandinavian qualifying team in action, you are likely to see Källström playing in the space behind forwards Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Johan Elmander, and in front of the rest of the Swedish midfielders. Kallstrom is often called on to take Swedish free kicks, so in any given match he should have sufficient opportunity to unleash some left-footed knucklers that would make Kenan Thompson's Mighty Ducks II character jealous.
This summer, lets all cross our fingers together for one thing…the type of animalistic crackers that bend one way before they cut the other, rendering keepers completely useless. And don't be surprised if one of these blasts is delivered by my BOY, Kim.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
- Champions League Prediction Round-Table: We invited several esteemed journalists, bloggers, and players to pick the winners of the semi-finals and final with score. 9 out of the 20 remain in our light-hearted competition.
- More Insight: Participants John Hadden from GoTFC: The Supporters Voice and Sheldon for World Club Rankings offer up quotes on this final match up.
- Moscow Calling: A look at some of the storylines from today's all-English match.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I have a feeling we may see Ashley Young on this list. David James? Probably. Roque Santa Cruz? Certainly.
After these three, the list is up for great debate. Drop back in and find out who has made Soccer City FC's Premiership Best XI - Sans the Big 4
Monday, May 19, 2008
News from the Global Game:
1. Mexico's final four now set: Santos .vs. Monterrey and Cruz Azul .vs. San Luis via Sideline Views
2. MLS Wrap Up of Week 8 at Steven Goff's The Good, The Bad, The Coyote Ugly via Soccer Insider
3. Arsenal's Wenger looking at Lilian T to shore up the backline via Club Blogger
4. PSG escapes the relegation hammer; now they prepare for the French Cup Final via Club Blogger
5. Top-notch feature on University of New Mexico forward Chris Wright by Justin Rodriguez via ESPNsoccernet. Chris was kind enough to participate in a Q & A here at Soccer City FC in our collegiate corner section back in March of 2008.
And now the Notes:
1. Several new contributors have joined Soccer City FC. Of course, you have been privy to new contributor Phillip Boran's write-ups on the Bundesliga and Olof Mellberg; keep an eye on the site as our other contributors began posting.
2. We have several player interviews coming your way in the next two weeks or so -- MLS, Overseas, College, etc.
3. Soccer City FC's Euro 2008 coverage now online. Don't forget to support your team with all the Euro 2008 Gear and in case you missed it, the first Player Video Tour is now online. More Euro 2008 articles and features to follow.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
[Update] 57 minutes in and results still the same. Wow, could Inter really end up losing the title?
[Update] Zlatan Ibrahimović scores for Inter (62') -- Inter now are back in first place in Serie A.
[Update] 71 minutes in and Zlatan looks to cement his name in the club's history books.
[Update] 79 minutes and Zlatan now has a brace on the day.
[Update] 88 minutes and the match is winding down -- celebrations begin for supporters of the Nerazzurri. The club has held the top spot in Serie A since early September.
Celebrations in the rain commence -- a few Inter supporters seem to have made it into Parma's stadium.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
For Soccer City FC
It's going to take a humongous effort by all involved with Newcastle United football club just for them to maintain their Barclays Premier League status. At the start of the season things couldn't have looked better - a seemingly capable manager in Sam Allardyce, a billionaire owner with pockets so deep he paid off the clubs debts, and a set of supporters so hungry for success, they'd make the dollar menu at McDonald's look appetizing.
Lets take a look at where things have gone wrong:
Newcastle were bought out just days after new manager Sam Allardyce was appointed by the old regime of Freddie Shepherd. Not being the new owners appointment, Big Sam was always under that extra amount of pressure to make an impact - something he failed (miserably) to do. Big Sam had a small club mentality, meaning that the methods he used to be successful at Bolton, would no longer work at Newcastle. The mindset at Newcastle is something to be experienced. Some players *cough* Jermain Jenas *cough* referred to it as living in a goldfish bowl. The scrutiny you come under from the media and the fans is intense - which is the way it should be in a one football club city. Big Sam was adamant that he could live up to the billing. The supporters, and more importantly, the results, begged to differ.
Overpaid underperforming players have always been Newcastle's downfall in the transfer market history. Stephane Guivarc'h, Marcelinho, Hugo Viana, Alert Luque, Carl Cort, Patrick Kluivert are the most prominent. Apparently those times were behind us, but when Allardyce brought in Jose Enrique and Claudio Cacapa, questions were once more asked of the motives behind such transfer policy. Cacapa had a fantastic pedigree in France and Enrique was supposedly targeted by the biggest clubs in Europe. Enrique has barely played a game while Cacapa has looked well out of his depth after some decent early appearances. The additions of Alan Smith, Habib Beye, Geremi, Mark Viduka, David Rozenhal and Joey Barton were all typical Big Sam purchases - a lot of effort and hard work but no flair. It could be said that headless chickens running around on the St James' Park pitch could have put in the same amount of effort (if not more), and they'd be right, only headless chickens would run faster.
Newcastle fans have not asked for much - if eleven players give us 100% effort and commitment we're happy. It's when players who clearly do not give two flying ones about the club put in performances that are not satisfactory for a pub team. It's clearly evident that a new approach is needed. Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger's policy of buying young players and bringing them through is duly noted. As supporters, we should hope that this kind of policy will pay dividends, now and into the future.
I'm going to put my neck on the line and say I'm not one of Kevin Keegan's greatest admirers. I think he was a terrific player, one of the best, but when the announcement broke that he would be Newcastle's manager for the second time, my heart sank. He's a great man motivator, and perhaps that's what Newcastle need the most right now, but as far as coaching methods go I think he's behind the times, tactically and technically. I just don't think he has the ability to make good players great and poor players better. He's the type of guy that is great at spending money, but there's only so much of that to go around. It didn't work the first time in his first managerial stint at Newcastle and I just don't see it working a second time.
The lifeblood of every soccer team, the St. James' Park faithful are a different breed. Newcastle is a one city soccer club, going to watch soccer on a weekend is a tradition passed down from father to son for generations. This is probably a bit of a cliche, but unless you've lived in the area or been to a game in Newcastle, it's hard to understand. The supporters can sometimes be the twelfth man, and in Newcastle's case, they need them now more than ever.
*Note - This article was originally posted on March 4th, 2008 at Soccer City FC's Corner Kicks which is now being merged with Soccer City FC.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Players of note for the Wanderers include:
* Sylvan Ebanks-Blake: 22 year-old English forward who scored 12 goals in 20 league appearances. He arrived in January 2008 via Plymouth Argyle F.C. He won the Golden Boot in the Championship for 2007-2008 with 23 goals.
* Seyi Olofinjana: 27 year-old Nigerian midfielder who has notched 147 league matches at the Wanderers. He recently signed through 2011.
* Andy Keogh: 21 year-old Irish forward scored 11 times in 2007-2008. Prior to the season, he was awarded the famous Number 9 shirt.
* George Elokobi : 22 year-old Cameroonian left back who made 15 league appearances with the club in 2008.
Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger stated his intention to bring Vela back via the club's official website. "We have applied for a work permit for him now," he continued, "And he will be involved with the first team next season."
Vela signed with Arsenal in 2005 and has been loaned out three times in Spain: Celta de Vigo in 2006, UD Salamanca in 2006-2007, and last season with Osasuna.
With Osasuna, Vela played on the left wing. He will be used in more of a forward role with Arsenal according to Wenger.
Prior to his arrival in London, Carlos Vela helped lead Mexico to the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championships. He was the Golden Boot winner at the tournament scoring 5 goals.
City will vie for the UEFA Cup next season.
The club has qualified for European play -- one year earlier than expected in reference to owner Thaksin Shinawatra's initial blueprint. City finished sixth in the English Fair Play table. The five teams above Manchester City have already qualified for Europe.
The begin qualifying in July. One minor snag, American rock band Bon Jovi will force the club away from Eastlands for their first-round tie.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
1. Keep Khalili on the pitch. See how the 21 year-old midfielder responds after scoring his goal last weekend. If he truly is one of Sweden's top young players, then his game should reach new heights this season.
2. Keep sending balls into the Nigerian. Kevin Amuneke now has two goals in his last three and three overall in league play. Only 22 years old and polished from his time spent in the Portuguese youth academies of S.L. Benfica and F.C. Porto, the forward looks ready for a huge campaign.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
The win moved FK Rīga up into 2nd place. They trail leader FK Ventspils by only 4 points now. FK Ventspils also took three pionts today against FK Daugava Daugavpils by a score of 3-0. FK Ventspils' scores came via a Vīts Rimkus hatrick. The 34 year-old Latvian national team member has 10 international goals.
On Saturday the 17th, FK Ventspils hosts Olimps Rīga and FK Rīga is away to FK Liepājas Metalurgs.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Soccer City FC
Wednesday, July 18th, 2001, a truly great day for all fans of Aston Villa, as they signed Swedish international centre-half Olof Mellberg from Spanish club Racing for a fee of £5 million, which has been regarded as the best £5 million spent by then manager John Gregory. Many fans also believe that he plays better with a full grown beard than he does clean cut or with stubble. Mellberg’s beard also has legendary status with the club.
Proved to be an instant success, his partnership with Alpay Ozalan, better known as Alpay, showed to better the former partnership of Southgate and Ehiogu of years before. From the years 2003 to 2006, Olof Mellberg captained the Villans to mid-table finishes even with such a small squad. During that time, he was only on the bench once when fully fit. A decision that was proven by the manager to be a mistake.
On his last season with Villa, it has proved to be a very successful season for both Mellberg and the club, as they pushed and finished in the top 6 in the English Premier League. In the final rivalry match against Birmingham, where Aston Villa won comfortably 5-1, many will remember the Bearded Legend being substituted off as he received the best sending off for a player being substituted. He showed the energy back as he threw his fists in the air, parading around proudly.
The last home match for Olof Mellberg, even though losing 2-0 to Wigan, was to be seen as the greatest tribute to a player to wear Claret and Blue. Everyone attending the match were seen wearing Viking helmets, fake (or real) beards, Swedish National Team kits, and to top it off, his name was sung through-out the match. The honor of Man of the Match went to none other than Olof Mellberg.
Mellberg’s last match, which came to a 2-2 draw against West Ham, truly a glorious day for any Villa fan attending the match at Upton Park as he bought 3,000 mixed home and away kits from the 2007/2008 season and handed them out to the traveling supporters.
All fans of Aston Villa wish you the best of luck in your dream to dominate Europe.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Reports from several media outlets are stating that he has committed to the Bianconeri with a verbal agreement. Spanish sides Atletico Madrid and Sevilla FC have also been rumored to covet the Czech defender.
Juventus has already added Swedish international Olof Mellberg to the back line for the upcoming 2008-2009 season.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Soccer City FC
VfL Wolfsburg 4-0 VfB Stuttgart
Big win for the Wolves as they beat last season’s Bundesliga champions VfB Stuttgart who were brought down to 10 men in the 18th minute when Fernando Meira was sent off. Former Bayern boss Felix Magath keeps pushing for the 5th place spot to enter the club in Europe for the first time in Wolfsburg’s existance. The captain Marcelinho opened up the scoring sheet in the 16th minute, followed by a 22nd minute goal by the young Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko. As the 2nd half opened up, Wolfsburg did not let up as they scored in the 55th (Ricardo Costa) and 75th (Ashkan Dejagah). This win places Wolfsburg in 6th place, tied on points with Hamburg SV and Bayer 04 Leverkusen, with Wolfsburg lacking 4 goals in goal difference behind Hamburg.
FC Bayern Munich 3-2 MSV Duisburg
No surprise in the winner here as Bayern show that they have won the Bundesliga comfortably as they take this win with ease. Ottl (3rd), Podolski (18th, 20th) Tararache (48th), and Daun (54th) were the scorers of this relegation fight.
Hansa Rostock 1-2 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Bayer get an important win as their 10 men side send Rostock back down. Rolfes (40th) and Castro (58th) score from the penalty spot. Rostock tried to fight back to stay in the Bundesliga but only managed to find one goal by Addy Waku Menga (67th) which was not enough to stay up.
Hertha BSC 1-0 FC Nurnberg
Mid-table Hertha snag the win late in the match as Nurnberg drop some very important points while they sit in the relegation zone, only 2 points away from Arminia Bielfeld. Raffael (74th) was the match’s only goal scorer as he might have sealed Nurnberg’s fate for next season.
FC Energie Cottbus 2-0 Hamburg SV
Energie claim another season in the Bundesliga as they grab the upset against HSV. With this loss for Hamburg, they have now made it a 3 team race for the 2 UEFA Cup spots still up for grabs. They dropped some vital points that could of sealed their place in Europe next season. Goals by Rivic (29th) and Sorensen (83rd) help keep Energie in the Bundesliga.
Karlsruhe SC 1-3 VfL Bochum
This mid-table match showed that Karlsruhe’s beginning season form has disappeared as they drop points to lower placed Bochum. Bochum ran out of the gate in the 2nd half as Azaouagh (45th), Dabrowski (48th), and Sestak (50th) grab the goals while Karlsruhe tried to push for a come-back but proved too late as squad captain Eggimann (88th) scored.
Arminia Bielfeld 2-2 Borussia Dortmund
Bielfeld will be kicking themselves as they should have sealed their fates for next season in the Bundesliga as Marx (24th pen) and Wichiniarek (34th) put Bielfeld in the lead twice but former Bielfeld man Delron Buckley (28th) and one Alexander Frei free-kick went off Rowan Fernandez’ face (83rd). Dortmund will be without Robert Kovac next match as he was sent off.
Werder Bremen 6-1 Hannover 96
Bremen dominate and hold 2nd place in the Bundesliga as they went on a scoring spree against rivals Hannover. Almeida (14th), Naldo (27th), Borowski (73rd), Klasnic (80th), Rosenberg (82th), and Hunt (87th) on the score sheet for Bremen while Hannover’s only goal came off a Tim Wiese rebound from a penalty taken by Hustzi (90th). With this loss, Hannover are now out of the qualification for the Intertoto Cup spot.
FC Shalke 04 1-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Shalke take the win as defender Krstajic (65th) takes the lone goal off of a Rakitic corner. Shalke have already qualified for the Champions League last week; it is now a fight for 2nd place between Werder Bremen and Shalke 04.
Phillip Boran will cover the Bundesliga, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, and will give updates on the Czech Gambrinus League for Soccer City FC.
Champions in La Liga and the Premiership over the last several years...
- 2000-2001 Real Madrid & Manchester United
- 2001-2002 Valencia & Arsenal
- 2002-2003 Real Madrid & Manchester United
- 2003-2004 Valencia & Arsenal
- 2004-2005 Barcelona & Chelsea
- 20005-2006 Barcelona & Chelsea
- 2006-2007 Real Madrid & Manchester United
- 2007-2008 Real Madrid & Manchester United
Saturday, May 10, 2008
1. Forward - Guðmundur Steinarsson - Keflavík ÍF
The Icelandic striker already has two goals after Keflavík ÍF outpaced Valur of Reykjavík 5-3.
2. Midfielder - Símun Samuelsen - Keflavík ÍF
The Faroese footballer is just 22 years old. He also scored in his club's first match. Internationally, he has appeared for his country 12 times scoring once against Israel.
3. Midfielder - Gunnar Már Guðmundsson - Ungmennafélagið Fjölnir
The Icelandic player scored twice in the club's opening round match. Ungmennafélagið Fjölnir gained promotion for this season. The club joins a host of other teams competing in Reykjavík.
4. Left Back/Left Wing - Sam Tillen - Fram Reykjavík
The Englishman came up through Chelsea's youth system. Known for his pace and versatility, he signed with the club in February 2008. He is only 23 years old.
5. Forward - Prince Rajcomar - Breiðablik
The 23 year-old Dutch player has starred in Iceland. He started 2008 off on the right foot with a goal against Íþróttabandalag Akraness.
With that bit of gloom-and-doom news over, Soccer City FC brings Derby Country supporters four points of interest to take with them to the 2008-2009 Championship season.
1. Argentine forward Emanuel Villa will be around for three years. Two of his three goals lead to Rams' ties. If he had played a full season, Derby County more than likely would have finished above Sunderland's dubious mark.
2. Lee Holmes needs a long look on the left. The 21 year-old left winger scored 4 times while on loan with League One club Walsall F.C. in 2008. He has been in the Derby system since 2002; he deserves an extended run to show his worth.
3. Tyrone Mears returned and looks healthy. The 25 year-old right back recently recovered from his stress fracture and scored in the April 19th match against West Ham. If his potential ever meets up with his pace, the player has a chance to become a tremendous right back.
4. Get Giles Barnes back healthy. The 19 year-old player could potentially star for the club when fully fit. The winger/forward is expected to miss a portion of the 2008-2009 season after major knee surgery.
César Santin found the scoresheet first with a goal in the 7th minute. Seven minutes later midfielder Patrik Ingelsten scored. Ingelsten now leads the league with seven goals. After the Elm brothers both scored, Nigerian forward Abiola Dauda finally closed out the scoring in the 90th minute for the home side.
Forward Jones Kusi-Asare's goal in the 13th minute gave had the away supporters a brief moment of hope before the walls came crashing down.
Sunday's preview of the three Allsvenskan matches below.
Match of the Day
4th place AIK of Solna welcomes 5th place Malmö FF. Malmö FF leading goal scorer is Finnish forward Jonatan Johansson. He has 3 goals and is mostly remembered for his time in England (Charlton Athletic) and Scotland (Rangers).
The Other Two Matches
12th place side Trelleborgs FF hosts 7th place Helsingborgs IF. Swedish great Henrik Larsson leads Helsingborgs with 5 goals. Larsson also starred for club giants Celtic, FC Barcelona, and Manchester United.
11th place Ljungskile SK are home to bottom dweller IFK Norrköping. Norrköping were promoted to the Allsvenskan this season. Forward Andreas Kristoffersson leads Ljungskile SK with 5 goals. American forward Etchu Tabe and American goalkeeper Colin Burns also play for Ljungskile SK.
Galatasaray SK are the 2007-08 Turkcell Süper Lig. The club now has 17 Turkish league titles - same amount as the other league giant Fenerbahçe.
Forward Shabani Nonda set the pace for the club with 11 goals this season.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Fulham travel to Pompey this weekend needing to win their third match in a row to secure their spot in next season's Premiership. Manager Roy Hodgson recently spoke about the final fixture via Sky Sports.
Also, manager Roy Keane speaks about Sunderland's season.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
[Update] Sky Sports confirms the earlier report.
Plus a little video to highlight Nasri's skills.
And from the same website, comes news that forward Dieumerci Mbokani has extended his contract with Standard Liege. He will remain with the Belgian side until 2013.
And yet another video to highlight Mbokani's skills.
IFK Göteborg's Jonas Wallerstedt scored twice in a three minute span (52' & 55'). 21 year-old Gustav Svensson capped of the scoring with the game winner five minutes later in the 60th minute.
Kalmar FF held a 2-0 lead at the end of the first half after midfielder Patrik Ingelsten (7') and Brazilian César Santin (39') scored.
Patrik Ingelsten leads the Allsvenskan with 6 goals. Teammate Viktor Elm of the Brothers Elm has found the scoresheet 5 times.
IFK Göteborg's Jonas Wallerstedt now has 3 goals in league play. The club ended last season as the league champions. Next up, Kalmar FF host Djurgårdens on Saturday May 10 and IFK Göteborg are away at IF Elfsborg.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Chelsea and Manchester United fittingly began their seasons facing off for the 2007 FA Community Shield. Manchester United won on penalties after the match ended tied at 1-1. Now they meet in Europe's most important club match.
John Hadden the editor of GoTFC: The Supporters' Voice and Sheldon of World Club Rankings recently predicted this final pairing. They both offered up some more insight on the matchup.
"Manchester United and Chelsea are the two best clubs in the world right now," Sheldon said, "and no result would surprise me."
John Hadden believes that Manchester United will take home the trophy thanks in large part to the play of Cristiano Ronaldo. "The flashy winger has dazzled all season long without missing a step." He added, "He simply will not be stopped."
The club remembered mostly for their historic UEFA Champions League run in 2005-2006 are sitting comfortably now six points ahead of second-place side MSK Zilina in the Slovakian League.
If they accomplish the double, it will rank right up there in club history with other great feats including the club's defeat of 2004 UEFA Champions League winners F.C. Porto 3-2 at Porto's Estádio do Dragão. FC Artmedia Petržalka came back to win in that match after going down 2-0 in the first half during UEFA Champions League Group H action.
Monday, May 5, 2008
1. Sergio Ávila - Attacking Midfielder on Chivas de Guadalajara
The 22 year-old midfielder has seen his minutes increase for the Mexican giants. El Gaucho scored five times in the 2008 Clausura including twice in the month of April. Perhaps his most famous goal to date came against Club America on April 13 in the most recent El Clásico at Estadio Jalisco.
2. Cristian Benítez - Forward on Santos Laguna
Chucho Benitez a 22 year-old striker has scored eight times in the 2008 Clausura. The Ecuadorian finished with a brace (38' & 91') in this past weekend's matchup against San Luis. He certainly played a large part in Santos Laguna's success this campaign.
3. Luis Montes - Midfielder on Pachuca C.F.
The 21 year-old has seen action in ten games during the 2008 Clausura. The Mexican midfielder scored one goal and registered an assist thus far. Also, don't discount his dominating performance against D.C. United in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions' Cup semifinal matchup. Below is his goal in Pachuca's match against Atlante in Jornada 12 of the 2008 Clausura. Video courtesy of JumpTVLatino Channel at YouTube.
4. Pablo Zeballos - Forward on Cruz Azul
The 22 year-old Paraguayan football player signed with the club prior to the 2008 Clausura. He came on and debuted in Jornada 3 finding the scoresheet against San Luis. He has four goals and three assists in this Clausura installment.
5. Ever Guzmán - Forward/Midfielder on Monarcas Morelia
The 20 year-old Mexican forward's play seems to be one of the few bright spots from Monarcas Morelia during the 2008 Clausura. He has scored four goals in eleven matches to pace his club and his brace this past weekend proved too much for Toluca.
Three goals in six minutes from Smith 54', Ludlow 59', and Sanderson 60' all but ended the match.
The FA Cup victory completes yet another double in league and cup for the women.
The women's club now have won 29 cups since its formation in 1987.
Will Hesmer's work in goal allowed the Crew to win four games during the month. Columbus sits in first place in the Eastern standings with a record of 5-1 after a their most recent win on Saturday versus the Kansas City Wizards. The Crew remain unbeaten at home.
Hesmer ended April with two shutouts versus Toronto FC and Houston. Along with his four wins, he made 20 saves during the month. Hesmer registered six saves in his shutout versus Houston on April 26. He also had a massive penalty kick save in the game against Toronto FC.
Honorable Mention for Player of the Month in April: Midfielder/Forward Landon Donovan - Los Angeles Galaxy, Forward Kenny Cooper - FC Dallas, Defender Facundo Erpen - Colorado Rapids, and Midfielder/Forward Robbie Rogers - Columbus Crew
Soccer City FC's MLS Player of the Month List
2008 MLS Season
April: GK Will Hesmer - Columbus Crew
The Weekend XI - MLS Edition will highlight the top eleven players from around MLS from Week 4 as judged by Soccer City FC. 3-4-3 format will be used.
(GK) Chivas USA’s Brad Guzan: Shutout and 5 saves v Houston
(D) Colorado’s Facundo Erpen: 1 goal and Shutout v D.C. United
(D) Toronto FC’s Marco Velez: 1 goal v Red Bull NY
(D) FC Dallas’ Duilio Davino: Shutout v San Jose
(MF) Colorado’s Christian Gomez: 2 assists v D.C. United
(MF) Columbus’ Adam Moffat: 1 goal v KC Wizards
(MF) Chicago’s John Thorrington: 1 goal and 1 assist v New England
(MF) L.A. Galaxy’s David Beckham: 2 goals v RSL
(F) Columbus’ Robbie Rogers: 1 goal v KC Wizards
(F) Chicago’s Chris Rolfe: 1 goal and 1 assist v New England
(F) Real Salt Lake’s Kenny Deuchar: 1 goal v L.A. Galaxy
Chicago – 2
Colorado – 2
Columbus – 2
Chivas USA – 1
FC Dallas – 1
L.A. Galaxy – 1
Real Salt Lake – 1
Toronto FC – 1
Season Team Count:
Columbus - 10
L.A. Galaxy - 9
Colorado - 7
FC Dallas - 7
Chicago - 6
Red Bull NY - 5
Toronto FC - 5
KC Wizards - 4
New England - 3
Real Salt Lake - 3
Chivas USA - 2
D.C. United - 2
San Jose - 2
Houston - 1
Season Player Count:
L. Donovan (L.A. Galaxy) - 4
D. Beckham (L.A. Galaxy) - 3
C. Blanco (Chicago) - 2
K. Cooper (FC Dallas) - 2
L. Robert (Toronto FC) - 2
M. Harrington (KC Wizards) - 2
W. Hesmer (Columbus) - 2
J. Altidore (Red Bull NY) - 2
F. Erpen (Colorado) - 2
A. Moffat (Columbus) - 2
R. Rogers (Columbus) - 2
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Austria: Co-hosts and debut appearance in the UEFA European Football Championship
Key Players: Forward Roland Linz (S.C. Braga), Forward Erwin "Jimmy" Hoffer (Rapid Vienna), and Defender Emanuel Pogatetz (Middlesbrough FC)
Switzerland: Co-hosts appeared in the 1996 and 2004 tournaments
Key Players: Midfielder Gelson Fernandes (Manchester City FC), Forward Alexander Frei (Borussia Dortmund), and Defender Philippe Senderos (Arsenal FC)
Poland: Group A Qualifying Winner and debut appearance in the torunament
Key Players: Goalkeeper Artur Boruc (Celtic FC), Forward Euzebiusz Smolarek (Racing de Santander), and Midfielder Jacek Krzynówek (VfL Wolfsburg)
Portugal: Group A Runner-up appeared in the 1984, 1996, 2000, and 2004 tournaments
Key Players: Midfielder/Forward Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Forward Nuno Gomes (S.L. Benfica), and Midfielder Deco (Barcelona)
Italy: Group B Winner appeared in the 1968, 1980, 1988, 1996, 2000, and 2004 tournaments
Key Players: Forward Luca Toni (Bayern Munich), Midfielder Gennaro Gattuso (A.C. Milan) and Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
France: Group B Runner-up appeared in 1960, 1984, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004
Key Players: Defender William Gallas (Arsenal FC), Midfielder Franck Ribéry (Bayern Munich), and Forward Thierry Henry (Barcelona)
Greece: Group C Winner appeared in 1980 and 2004 (Euro 2004 Champions)
Key Players: Midfielder Kostas Katsouranis (S.L. Benfica), Forward Angelos Charisteas (Nuremberg), and Giourkas Seitaridis (Atlético Madrid)
Turkey: Group C Runner-up appeared in 1996 and 2000 tournaments
Key Players: Forward Nihat Kahveci (Villarreal CF), Midfielder Tuncay Sanli (Middlesbrough FC), and Defender Servet Çetin (Galatasaray S.K.)
Czech Republic: Group D Winner appeared in 1960, 1976, 1980, 1996, 2000, and 2004
Key Players: Forward Milan Baroš (Portsmouth FC), Midfielder Jan Polák (R.S.C. Anderlecht), and Defender Marek Jankulovski (A.C. Milan)
Germany: Group D Runner-up appeared in 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004
Key Players: Defender Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Forward Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich), and Forward Kevin Kurányi (FC Schalke 04)
Croatia: Group E Winners appeared 1996 and 2004 tournaments
Key Players: Midfielder Niko Kranjčar (Portsmouth FC), Forward Ivica Olić (Hamburger SV), and Defender Dario Šimić (A.C. Milan)
Russia: Group E Runner-up appeared in 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1988, 1992, 1996, and 2004
Key Players: Midfielder Marat Izmaylov (Sporting Clube de Portugal), Forward Dmitri Sychev (FC Lokomotiv Moscow), and Defender Aleksei Berezutskiy (CSKA Moscow)
Spain: Group F Winner appeared in 1964, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1996, 2000, and 2004
Key Players: Forward Fernando Torres (Liverpool FC), Midfielder Xavi (Barcelona), and Defender Carles Puyol (Barcelona)
Sweden: Group F Runnder-up appeared in 1992, 2000, and 2004
Key Players: Forwad Zlatan Ibrahimović (Inter Milan), Goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson (Manchester City FC), and Defender Olof Mellberg (Aston Villa FC)
Romania: Group G Winner appeared in 1984, 1996, and 2000
Key Players: Forward Adrian Mutu (Fiorentina), Defender Cristian Chivu (Inter Milan), and Forward Ciprian Marica (VfB Stuttgart)
Nehterlands: Group G Runner-up appeared in 1976, 1980, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004
Key Players: Forward Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Midfielder Wesley Sneijder (Real Madrid), and Midfielder Clarence Seedorf (A.C. Milan)
Hopefully the Brothers Elm will step up in this key matchup.
This away loss now leaves the club in 12th place with a record of 1-1-4. Stabæk IF leads the league with a record of 4-2-0 (14 points).
Stabæk IF's goal came from Daniel Nannskog in the 66th minute of play.
In their eight match, Rubin Kazan finally were defeated by visiting side Spartak Moscow 3-0.
With their next three against Spartak Nalchik (2-1-5), FC Moscow (1-4-3), and a home match on May 15 against FC Shinnik Yaroslavl (2-2-4), Rubin Kazan appear destined to remain at the top of the table.
FC Brno received goals from 21 year-old forward Marek Střeštík (19') and Tomáš Došek (90'). Dosek's twin brother Lukáš plays for Swiss club FC Thun.
FC Brno sits in fourth place in the Gambrinus Liga with 49 points.
FC Brno is where Czech international midfielder Jan Polák began his career. This past season he helped lead R.S.C. Anderlecht to a successful campaign and a second place finish in the Jupiler League. Polák is one of the highest paid players in the Belgium.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Soccer City FC Contributor
In the chase for occupying 6th place for an Intertoto Cup spot, Manchester City welcomed Fulham in what was surely going to be a gritty and resolute battle. On previous occasions, the two teams have had similar fortunes by persistently being involved in relegation battles and finishing in the Premiership lower half, just grateful for finishing above the bottom three trap door. It has largely been a season of contrasts though, with City all-but securing safety by January and galloping up the table for their highest finish in years, whilst Fulham’s top flight status has become seriously under-threat. The visitors had to win to fight off their Championship fate for another week at the very least but City had the perfect opportunity to round off an extremely positive season with the last home game of the season.
City’s old terror returned to haunt them on Saturday after managing to quite literally give up a 2-0 winning lead. Conceding in the dying minutes of any game is painful enough, but to do so on the last home game of the season and to lose at the hands of Fulham in the manner that it did piled on the sting. The old terror was the ‘typical City’ tag we believed had been finally banished as it was really the first big disappointing result at home. It is always difficult to predict results and performances when on the road in away matches, but our home record has been impressive. The Fulham result does unfortunately stain the record, a home defeat to the team positioned 19th can never be accepted and the home season ended on a particular bitter note.
The opening 45 minutes suggested the season at Eastlands would end in a similar fashion as to how it began all the way back in August. The ten match unbeaten run was destined to come to an end, but winning the last three home games of the season seemed more than a realistic target. Tottenham and Portsmouth, competitive and talented sides who may both win silverware this season, were overcome in style and turning Fulham over seemed like an easier job. City started confidently and were winning 1-0 when Petrov’s precise backheel allowed Stephen Ireland to place his wonder goal in the top corner. The advantage was doubled when Benjani scored following Vassell’s cutback pass, cutting open the defective Fulham defence. Hart made several wonderful saves to keep the scoreline at 2-0.
Half time came and went, Fulham were edging closer to the Championship unless they could somehow come up with an unlikely comeback. Did I just say unlikely? More like predictable. There could not have been a bigger contrast in the emotions of the home fans at half-time than to those felt at the final whistle. The second half saw the floodgates in City’s defence fly open to the advantage to the visitors. The defence was exposed for its makeshift nature - the back four consisted of an attacking midfielder on the right, two full-backs in the middle and a right-back at left-back. Fulham knew that they had to make changes shortly into the second 45 minutes, after all they weren’t going to lose out on anything if they did - throwing on Diomansy Kamara was the last throw of the dice, thankfully for them they landed a six. The injection of pace did the trick and a combination of spirit from Fulham and City’s defensive frailties served up a miserable 20 minutes.
A long ball from Murphy allowed Kamara to turn and somehow get beyond Corluka before slotting in under the legs of Hart on 70 minutes. There was life in the game yet, but to most it appeared to be only a consolation goal. Jihai then pulled down Nevland in the box to present the almost down-and-out Fulham with a lifeline. Danny Murphy turned goalscorer by tapping in the rebound after Hart saved, the reactions of the former Liverpool midfielder being considerably quicker than the surrounding City players. It was inevitable by this stage that the comeback would be complete, it was on the mind of every City fan and their fears were realised when Kamara doubled his tally to finish the rout deep into extra time. Disbelief was evident in the stadium, a case of amazement that such a comeback had taken place for a team considered as second favourite in the majority of matches this season.
It is understandable why the home fans were angry, they had seen the most successful City side in years collapse to Fulham in a second half that was nothing short of embarrassing and way below par. It was unfair to end the season on such a negative note as it was unrepresentative of the home form this campaign, a standout result not to be witnessed again - but as its City, it is probable that another disappointment will occur sooner rather than later. The end of season parade lap by the players could not have come at much of a worse time and the feelings of the fans were similar to those of the players.
The result was a timely reminder that City cannot sit comfortably in any match and that the squad does not have the personnel to compete against every Premiership team - City’s Achilles heel has been the struggle against teams battling to stay up. It was not a massive surprise given the back-four only had Corluka as a natural centre-back, the depth of the squad is lacking and injuries have taken their toll. Elano will never be a convincing right-back due to his defensive limitations, but it wasn’t his natural position and credit to him for doing a respectable job and demonstrating his attacking brilliance. Questions were asked of the decision to take off Ireland and Vassell - who arguably played their best games for City - and bringing on underperforming players. However, there were enough chances to kill the game off in the last 15 minutes and on another day it could have easily been different. City are guaranteed 9th place, but just when excitement was building at the prospect of reviving their fight for the European places it hit a dead end in a game you would expect three points from.
The match will be mostly renowned for the fallout that was to follow behind the scenes as Sven-Goran Eriksson’s position as manager has bizarrely come under question by owner Thaksin Shinawatra. It looks like the game versus Fulham may have been his last home game in charge of the club. Rumours are circulating around aplenty and as ever it is hard to distinguish between the poor journalism and the truth, but the support of Sven from the fans, the players and the City board cannot be questioned and he will forever be held in the highest of affections.
Post Match Comments
"I am very disappointed by the way the game went. It was bad for the fans who were fantastic before, during and after the game. We had a good attitude for more than an hour then we stopped - at one point we had five players forward who were not even walking back - and that's when we lost the points. That is not acceptable."
“Fulham had nothing to lose, then they made a change up front and just went for it. We’ve only got ourselves to blame, we had our chances to kill them off and maybe we thought it was too easy. Maybe we thought we could get away without doing the dirty work and Fulham punished us for it."
Shots On Target:
City 5 Fulham 10
Shots Off Target:
City 8 Fulham 6
City 13 Fulham 8
City 21 Fulham 13
City 77.5% Fulham 81.3%
City 48.3% Fulham 51.7%
Soccer City FC’s Key Men of the Match
- Arguably City’s most consistent performer of the season and kept the score line from being even more.
Stephen Ireland & Darius Vassell
- Proving their worth in the squad at both ends of the pitch.
- Changed the game for Fulham and a vital player for them when on-form by scoring two goals.
- An inspirational figure and one of the reasons behind Fulham’s comeback.