Thursday, June 30, 2005

Confederation Cup

After the tragedy that occured 4 years ago in France, this confederation cup was well worth your viewing. To recap, Brazil went out and demolished Argentina yesterday to win the "Cup." Seeing the starting line ups that both teams put out there, this was no exhibition, this was the real deal for both teams. The third place game saw a 7 goal explosion from Germany and Mexico. A couple of observations:

Greece - What a disappointment from the reigning Euro champion. Granted they lost to Brazil but exiting the tournament in such a manner was terrible. After they demonstrated some better play during the WC qualifiers, this tournament makes us all scratch our heads as to how they won in Portugal.

Germany - Is the great futballing power of central europe back to their traditional ways? With the emergence of Podoloski, his goal yesterday was a thing of beauty, Germany look to have some solid attacking players - Podoloski, Ballack, Kuranyi, et al. But the Germany that won 3 World Cups were not built on strikers (granted they had some great ones, Mueller, Rummineger etc) but rather built on a solid defense, midfield and goalkeeping. This teams defense is adequete at times and shakey most of the time, and the goalkeeping is still up in the air. Klinnsman seems to have lost faith in Kahn and those of us who watch Arsenal realize that Lehmann is no Toni Schmacher. Mexico, a solid soccer power but not a first tier power, was resilient in their match and kept coming back on the score until finally succombing to a MBallack free kick (Mexico almost leveled it again a few minutes later however). I have mixed feelings about Germany's chances at the next World Cup. granted they are hosting, but if you look at their run in the prior major tournaments they have not shined.

They crashed out of the last two European cups, got demolished by Croatia at France '98, made the finals in 2002 but did not look convincing, drawing the USA and South Korean on their way to playing Brazil. It could be argued that they should have lost the 1/4 final game against USA...they still have major defensive issues and will not play in any competitive games the rest of the year to truly fix those problems. Maybe the home field advantage will stimulate the defense to play like the Beckenbauer teams of old....

Argentina - Until they got demolished by Brazil, they looked very strong. Especially considering they defeated Brazil 3-1 in WC qualifying. I still think they will be a team to contend with in a year. They have already qualified so they can start expirementing with different players and combinations to truly determine the best team they can bring to Germany next year. They have the talent and the drive to go very far in Germany.

Brazil - What can you say when a team can put Ronaldiho, Robinhno, Kaka, Adriano, and Ronaldo (who missed the Confed Cup) all on the pitch together, you can get a 4-1 demolishine of a world class team such as Argentina. Does this mean we hand Brazil a 6th WC title? I will say, no, by far. Brazil still did not convince me that they can defend, much like Germany. In addition, with all this talent , I still see Brazil struggling at times figuring out what system to implement and who needs to be on the bench and who needs to be on the pitch. You can never count out Brazil, but the Mexicans showed that you can beat them, as well as Argentina a few weeks ago.

Mexico - I think they looked very good coming out of this tournament. They defeated Brazil in the first round, played Argentina very tough only to lose in a shoot out, and they lost to host Germany after playing them even for most of the match. They have a sense of team and of working together that comes from a team where the majority plays in the domestic league. They are virtually guaranteed to qualify. I think they have a chance of going further than the 1986 Hugo Sanchez led team that lost to Germany in the quarterfinals of the Mexican World Cup (after penalties).

Overall I think this tournament was a success, lots of goals, great finals, some great upsets. The one factor that is of concern is the number of fans that were allowed to run out onto the pitch, something that will have to be resolved prior to the WC. A warning to Brazil, the last time the defending WC champion won the Confederation Cup in the next WC host nation they ended up crashing out of the WC....that was my beloved French National Team that won the Confederation Cup in 2001 in Japan, only to score zero goals in the World Cup (before you say that can never happen to Brazil don't forget that France went into that WC with Henry, leading score in the Premier League, Trezeguet, leading scored in Serie A, and Cisse leading score in Ligue 1...with a Zidane that had just won the champions league with Real Madrid - france left with 2 losses, 1 draw...zero goals scored, 3 goals conceded)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Chelsea's transfer woes

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/teams/c/chelsea/4627135.stm

After reading this article we should all start weeping for Chelsea and Roman's billions! All kidding aside, it is amazing that Chelsea did what they did last season with out a world class striker up front. I consider Robbens a winger, and Drogba fell far short of expectations (then again he had a career year the prior season with Marseilles). But why is it that Chelsea cannot leverage the money Roman can throw into the ring to parlay that into a world class striker?

The point made in the BBC article also makes tremendous sense, all the strikers they are pursuing play for established European clubs, who themselves have European aspirations every season -

Adriano - Inter Milan
Eto - Barca
Trezeguet - Juventus
Shevchenko - AC Milan

One player that seems has not been mentioned is Vieri of Inter Milan. While he is getting up there in age, he is still a proven striker and one that would fit into the Chelsea style. Granted he is also playing for a big named club, but he is second fiddle to Adriano. He is a big striker that is not afraid to clog the middle of the opponent's penalty box but can also carry the ball up the field. He is the type of striker that would fit in well with either a Chelsea or an Arsenal. But he would thrive in the Premieship and would flourish for Chelsea. Someone tell Roman and Mourinho to start looking at Vieri if they want that world class striker.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Transfer market heats up

It would appear that the transfer market in Europe has heated up. With the "World Cup Lite," the Confederations Cup and the Youth World Championships being the only channels for our football needs it is time to start looking at the players that are suspect of moving in the next few weeks and how that will impact some teams.

The latest rumors are that another Brazilian super start, Robinho will be departing for the greener pasteurs of Europe: http://skysports.planetfootball.com/list.asp?hlid=287608&CPID=23&CLID=&lid=2&title=Real+still+head+Robinho+race&channel=football_home
Real Madrid had the club house lead, but Arsenal seems to have emerged as a dark horse to sign the new brazilian star. At first this would seem like a great move to Arsenal if they can grab him, giving them another option to pair with Henry. But I would argue that, as talented as Robinho is, he would have difficulty to the adjusting to the Premiership. Games in November played in Newcastle are a little harder than those played in Rio or in Madrid. Arsenal needs a vulture striker, a al Crespo and Trezeguet, not another smallish forward that will have a hard time adjusting, a al Reyes. While I will be excited to seeing what Arsenal can do if they get Robinho, I am not ready to crown them.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Recap - Champions League....albeit a little late

Okay, I have been away from a computer for close to a month now...my apologies. So a quick recap with regards to a fabulous Champions League final. First, congrats to the Reds of Liverpool. Beating Juventus, Chelsea and AC Milan makes Liverpool a deserving winner. But to the game.

The Good
  • Dudek - made amazing saves on Chevshenko on a direct kick starting the second half, then a double save in extra time (I still have no idea how he did that), and finally big saves in the PKs. The Liverpool keeper, much maligned this season, stole one for Liverpool.
  • The fans - with no major incidents to report, it would appear the game went off without a hitch and more importantly gave the fans a great game.
The Bad
  • AC Milan - running out to a 3-0 lead and then that melt down. You would think that a team that can supposedly play defensive like AC Milan would be save with a 1-0 lead let alone a 3-0. What happened to Stam? He was everywhere the first half and then Gerrard scores in the box from a head ball?
The Ugly
  • Benitez - I realize he was the winning manager. But he saved himself embarassment by starting Harry Kewell who, by none of his fault, was completely inneffective during the time he was on the pitch. Benitez made changes to get his ship back in line...but not even he could have expected his team to come back to 3-3.
Here is too a great season. With the world cup fast approaching as well as rumors and transfers flying, check out the "beantown frog" for some more indepth discussion.
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