Saturday, February 28, 2009
ZARATE has seen his goal scoring form dried out November and needed something special to break his dull spell. Lazio were awarded a free kick after Goran PANDEV was foul in the 35th minute. ZARATE curled the ball in past a static Francesco ANTONIOLI to put his side in the lead.
After missing plenty of other opportunity to double up Lazio’s lead his was finally rewarded with another goal. ZARATEe got his second nine minutes from time, finishing off a perfect pass from Tommaso ROCCHI, who had come off the bench for PANDEV minutes earlier with a delightfully clever touch.
In Spain, former Albiceleste captain Roberto AYALA scored for Real Zaragoza in their 4-1 win over Murcia in the Segunda Division.
In Greece, Ismael BLANCO was on target for AEK Athens in their 2-1 win over FC Xanthi. Mauro POY scored for the visitor. Javier CAMPORA scored from the spot for Aris Salonika in their 2-1 win over Thrasivoulos.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Kings jumped on them from the beginning to finish the game with a 98-86 win. The result ended their three match losing streak, and 17 from the last 19.
Much of the energy source, came from their newly acquired star. Chapu was on target in his first four shot and had nine points in the opening half. He went on to hammer the Clippers with a 17 points plus 2 rebounds, an assists, a block shot and a steal.
Fabricio OBERTO had 4 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist as the San Antonio Spurs (still without Tim DUNCAN and Manu GINOBILI) fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers 86-97.
The Detroit Pistons got back to winning way with a 93-85 win over Eastern Conference high flyers Orlando Magic. Walter HERRMANN got 2 points and a rebound from the bench.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
He masterminded another magnificent European away triumph as the Reds confounded the odds with a stunning 1-0 victory in the Bernabeu. Yossi BENAYOUN headed the late winner to give his side every chance of progressing to the quarter-finals.
But let me tell you this, the result against Real was made possible because Javier MASCHERANO son of a gun performance. He was the main catalyst in not allowing Real to have any comfort on the pitch.
Should you need some clarification, you may ask Gonzalo HIGUAIN, Fernando GAGO or Arjen ROBBEN.
He made a cracking tackle on Pipita after sloppy play from Alberto RIERA. Another fantastic tackle on GAGO, which resulted him being yellow carded harshly (I’ll leave it to the rest to decide on whether the booking was legitimate).
I’ve got nothing against Real (though I have more love Barcelona!) since some OUR boys are in that team. I just felt there was need to highlight on what was another top class performance from Javier MASCHERANO.
He is my choice as the Man of the Match.
Luis SCOLA had 15 points and 11 rebounds—his fifth straight double-double — for the Rockets, who came in trailing Portland by a half-game for fourth place in the conference. He also had 2 assists, 1 block shot and 1 steal to go long with his double-double.
“We’re going in the right direction,” SCOLA said. “We have a lot of space to improve and things will get better, but this is definitely the way we want to play.”
San Antonio Spurs also notch an important 93-76 win over their Texas rival, the Dallas Mavericks. More importantly this was achieved in the absence of both Tim DUNCAN and Manu GINIBOLI. Fabricio OBERTO came in handy for his side with 6 points, 5 rebounds and 1 block shot.
No points except for just 2 rebounds for Walter HERRMANN as the Detroit Pistons miserable season continues with a 91-103 loss to the Miami Heat.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
But it was Maxi RODRIGUEZ who struck first for Atlético after receiving unintended pass from Kun AGUERO as early in the 3rd minute. Licha then equalized for Porto after he was found unmarked and scored with a low left footed drive.
Atlético went ahead again, this time courtesy of Diego FORLAN just before half time. However Lisandro strike again with a close range finish in the 72nd minute.
When I first saw the draw, I must say my overall opinion on this was not too good. There will be some high profile casualty by the end of this round but that's what makes football such beautiful game to see.
So here is my preview on the selected matches involving the Albiceleste.
Atlético Madrid vs. FC Porto
A match set to feature plenty of Albiceleste flavour. Both teams will be banking on an influential midfielder and a deadly finisher.
Porto will look to the return of Lucho GONZALEZ to inspire them and provide much of the assist for Lisandro LOPEZ to score. While Atlético will be keen to see Maxi RODRIGUEZ flying on the wings and the new member of the fatherhood club, Kun AGUERO to deliver for them.
Ever BANEGA is expected to be out for the match but Atlético will have Leo FRANCO in goal for them. Porto may also rely on Ernesto FARIAS from the bench.
Olympique Lyon vs. FC Barcelona
I love Barcelona simply because I love Lionel MESSI. Lyon as always are a dangerous team to play against. Though the defeat to Espanyol might have hurt them a bit but I can tell you that was just a temporary setback.
Lionel is fire at the moment and it will only make me happy to see him putting up a strong performance and stamping his mark in this round. After all the French should no better how tough it can be to face him.
Internazionale vs. Manchester United
There has been a lot talking about this game. But for me since it is very painful to see Carlos TEVEZ on the bench for such occasions. I keep asking myself what did Carlitos did so wrong last season that he had to ended up like this. Therefore without further due I'm going to throw my support for Jose & his boys.
An interesting one on one battle is likely to take place in this match. The evergreen Javier ZANETTI could be in for match to mark out Cristiano RONALDO (should he play on the left).
Then there is Esteban CAMBIASSO (who scored during the weekend) who will be up against either Paul SCHOLES or Michael CARRICK. Julio CRUZ might make a potential entry from the bench. Walter SAMUEL is doubtful for the match.
Real Madrid vs. Liverpool
Forget about all those Spanish connection between these two European giants. There more important aspect (from an Albiceleste point of view) that we should take note about this match.
The last time I saw both Javier MASCHERANO and Fernando GAGO on the same pitch, they were formed a deadly combination together and made Diego a happy man. This time both will go for a head on collision in the middle of the park.
GAGO’s intelligent game while Gonzalo HIGUAIN youth and effectiveness would be crucial for Real. However every football fans will tell you as long there is Javier on the field he is not going to make it easy for anyone.
Other notable names to be mentioned, Villareal’s trio (Gonzalo RODRIGUEZ, Ariel IBAGAZA and Fabricio FUENTES), Sporting Lisbon Leandro’s (ROMAGNOLI and GRIMI) and Martin DEMICHELIS.
Though having lost their second game in a row (since the arrival of Chapu), he has made an immediate impact for the Kings in their 105-112 lost to the Hornets. He made all four first-half shots, including two 3-pointers, and scored 11 points.An added plus was showing his defensive toughness, a trait the Kings have been lacking all season. Today as the the teams sixth man, he posted 19 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. He is quickly earning the respect amongst his peers in the locker room.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
It took Madrid just seven minutes to open the floodgates when their leading scorer Gonzalo HIGUAIN, who missed out in last week's 4-0 thrashing of Sporting Gijon on a day when RAUL and Klass Jan HUNTERLAAR took the plaudits, netted.
Raul, who last week became Madrid's record goal scorer, won an aerial challenge to put Pipita through, and the in-form striker coolly rounded RICARDO before slotting home his 14th league goal of the season.
Inter Milan extended their lead at the top of Serie A to 12 points thanks to a narrow win away to Bologna. Esteban CAMBIASSO put Inter ahead in the 57th minute when he was on hand to volley the ball in from point blank range, from a MAICON corner.
In the Bundesliga, Diego KLIMOWICZ had mixed of feeling days after his club Bochum drew Arminia Bielefeld 1-1. He scored his club goal in the 30th minute but he was sent off for committing a needless foul four minutes from time.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Today in Madrid, at the Clinica Montepríncipe, Giannina MARADONA, Diego's youngest daughter and Sergio AGÜERO's woman, gave birth to her first child.
The Atletico Madrid striker skipped his training session to be with her and Diego MARADONA himself is believed to be at the clinic to see his first grandson.
Congratulations to the parents and here's hoping Benjamín decides to play for Argentina in the future! ;)
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
“I'm not surprised," he said. "There have been a lot of rumors. I'm all right. I was waiting for this. But I don't feel bad the way I'm leaving. It's not like I did something wrong. I wasn't playing my best this season. But I gave everything to this team. I played hard every day whether in practice or in games. I'm a competitive person and I leave this team the best way I could. The only thing I feel bad about is I'm leaving a good team, good players and good coaches. I really enjoyed being with the Bulls. But this is the NBA life. Things like this can happen.”
After joining the Bulls in 2004, Chapu quickly became a fan favorite for his passionate play and hard-nosed attitude.
“He has been one of my favorites to ever wear a Bulls uniform and personally it was difficult for me to move him," general manager John PAXSON said in a statement released by the team. "He's been a warrior and a professional, since the day that he arrived.”
Not surprisingly, former Bulls coach Scott SKILES, now with Milwaukee, echoed PAXSON's feelings.
“I'm sure whenever I'm done coaching, he'll be one of my favorites,” SKILES said before Wednesday's game. “I enjoyed coaching him. You always knew what you were going to get; he was going to bring it all the time and was a great competitor.”
His greatest moment with the Bulls might have come in his first NBA playoff game, piling up 25 points and 18 rebounds in a victory over Washington while fans at the United Center chanted his name.
“It's definitely going to be weird not having Noce here,” guard Ben GORDON said. “It's just going to be different. I wish him the best. We're definitely going to miss him.”
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Argentina retained the Pan American Cup title after defeating the USA 7-6 in a penalty stroke shoot out.
Carla REBECCHI scored first to give Las Leonas the lead in the 9th minute. As the first half wound down, USA got the equalizer through a deflected shot from captain Carrie LINGO in the 29th minute.
In the second half, Leonas were back in front as they got the ball across the USA goal line but the umpire called an infringement against the Argentines, who protested. The umpire consulted with her fellow umpire and reversed the decision. Captain Rosario LUCHETTI was credited for the goal in the 39th minute. Argentina then took control of the game but in the 64th minute LINGO got the equalizer from a beautifully deflected field goal.
The final had to be decided by penalty strokes as both team fail to score after extra time. In the eighth shot, Rachel DAWSON missed her stroke, giving Argentina the win after a game that could have gone either way.
Argentina beat England 19-14 to win the USA Sevens in San Diego and claim only their second ever IRB Sevens World Series title. The Pumas' only previous Cup success also came in California, in Los Angeles in 2004, and this most recent victory blasts wide open the race for the 2008/09 World Series.
Tom BIGGS and Ben GOLLINGS both scored first half tries for England either side of one by Argentina captain Santiago Gomez CORA. Trailing 14-5 at the break, the Pumas quickly asserted pressure on the Englishmen after the restart and scored tries through Martin RODRIGUES and Lucas AMOROSINO, before their famous defense kicked in to hold England at bay for five minutes.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Diego MILITO will take the honour as the only goal scorer from Argentina in any one of Europe’s top five leagues. He scored from the penalty spot in the exciting match between Genoa and Fiorentina.
There must be sense of frustration for his side right not after throwing away a 3-0 lead. Romanian striker Adrian MUTU scored a hat trick (including a last minute equalizer) from which the match ended in 3-3 draw.
In Portugal, an Albiceleste inspired performance helped FC Porto to maintain their lead at the top of the league by one point over Benfica. Ernesto FARIAS score twice while his compatriot Lucho Gonzalez added the other in the champions' 3-1 victory over bottom side Rio.
Benfica kept their pace behind Porto with a 3-2 win over Pacos de Ferreira with Angel DI MARIA among the scorer. You might want to check the goal out because this is my choice for the Goal of the Week award.
On Saturday, Luciano GALLETTI scored for Olympiakos in their 2-1 win over Aris Salonika.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
This is their version of the White Stripes classic Seven Nation Army
The next video is short one, but simply incredible to hear their rendition of the Macarena. Or should I say the MASHE-rena.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
“We shouldn’t have lost this one,” Manu said. “It’s important to go into the break feeling good about yourself and on a good stretch. We were playing a team that isn’t doing so well and has two injured players, so we should have done much better.”
Manu scored 15 in the fourth quarter and matched his season high, but it wasn’t enough for the Spurs, who had won 11 of 13 coming in.
“It’s a really tough one,” Manu said. “We didn’t have a good game. For most of the game we were in control but down the stretch we just couldn’t score anymore and they made some great plays.”
Unlike Manu, it was very much on the opposite end for Luis SCOLA. Another double-double from him the Houston Rockets overcame the Sacramento Kings 94-82.
This result improves their record to 12-6 without Tracy McGRADY, who is still out with a sore left knee. SCOLA posted 19 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists & 1 steal, still admits there is still more to be done for the Rockets if they wish to remain as a contender in the playoffs.
“We can’t be too excited about it,” said SCOLA. “But we’re trying to be a playoff contender, a team that is going to fight with the Lakers, Celtics, Spurs and whoever is at the top. We want to be that team. We can’t be amazed that we beat Sacramento at home.”
Perhaps it was because that day in Glasgow Diego received the news that his daughter Giannina had some health problems back in Madrid and he couldn't quite focus entirely on the game. Maybe it was because France meant a tougher test than Scotland. Whatever it was, Diego MARADONA collected his second win in as many matches in charge of Argentina, and this time he lived it walking tirelessly along the sidelines.
Marseille received Diego as a cult hero. After all, some 20 years ago, MARADONA was very close to sign a huge contract with the city's iconic club: Olympique Marseille, but Napoli's president refused and Diego stayed put in Italy. In a way, he got the same treatment he received in Glasgow and his team paid with the same coin by beating the hosts.
Such is the attraction Diego can generate that I dedicated my first few paragraphs to his figure, instead of focusing on the match itself. OK. I love him. I plead guilty of that.
The coverage I got from Argentine sports channel TyC Sports since very early, contained a bunch of useless commentaries, internal jokes the anchors kept playing to each other and only a handful of interesting images or information.
My favourite was when one of their guys managed to get into Argentina's dressing room at the Velodrome and we could read some signs Diego wrote on a few sheets of paper that he then stuck on the walls.
It read: "We're not here just to play a part. We are here to wear this shirt"; "There are no starters and substitute. The only irreplaceable thing is our shirt" and one other sign I couldn't get to remember but also said something about the camiseta (shirt).
John will surely upload videos from this match and I won't waste your time by describing our goals. The videos will do the job.
I want to breakdown one-by-one, our players' performances:
Juan Pablo CARRIZO: He showed safe hands and was quick to react to deny ANELKA in a mano-a-mano situation.
Javier ZANETTI: Never got in trouble. His experience is a valuable asset for our defensive unit.
Martín DEMICHELIS: Man of the match for me. Won everything in the air and on the ground. Kept ANELKA in his pocket the entire game and then took care of BENZEMA too.
Gabriel HEINZE: He committed a blatant foul on TOULALAN inside the box in the first half. The referee didn't see it. He fouled more than what was necessary, but was pretty solid throughout the game.
Emiliano PAPA: Had some problems trying to control RIBERY, but who wouldn't? He has a tendency to exaggerate the fouls he receives, but he joined the attack effectively at times (try and see him coming up free on the left when MESSI scored our second goal).
Maxi RODRIGUEZ: Anonymous at times. I get the feeling he was asked to worry a little bit more about defending than joining the attack and that prevented him from doing what he likes the most: running forward.
Javier MASCHERANO: He wasn't spectacular as he often is, but he was solid enough. I like it when MASCHERANO doesn't stand out as the best player because it means we had more possession and didn't need him to be on his backside trying to win the ball back.
Fernando GAGO: He makes a great case for the man-of-the-match award. Just as he did two years ago in Paris, GAGO had a great game against France. Great display of ball control and tackling. Very intelligent player.
Jonas GUTIERREZ: Two shots on goal, one of them went in. It was more than what you can ask of him. Worked hard on the left to help PAPA deal with RIBERY.
Lionel MESSI: He is from another planet. Simply brilliant. He is one of the few players that can get you excited whenever he is on the ball. Eleven goals in 35 matches with Argentina for him. Not bad. He made Diego happy in his debut with him and looked thrilled himself after the game. If only he could keep (or improve) his current form for when South Africa 2010 comes...
Sergio AGÜERO: Kun was not very active in the first half, but the first chance he had to control the ball, he had an assist in Jonas' goal. He improved in the second half, but we've seen better games from him.
Carlos TEVEZ: Only played 15 minutes, but it was enough for him to record an assist in a trademark TEVEZ move.
Gastón ANGELERI: Not much to say other than congratulations to him on his first international appearance.
Finally...this is how I feel about Raymond DOMENECH still being France's manager!
ZANETTI, DEMICHELIS, HEINZE, PAPA;
Maxi RODRIGUEZ, MASCHERANO, GAGO, Jonas GUTIERREZ;
MESSI and AGÜERO.
The Stade Velodrome will show a capacity crowd and there are already a bunch of Argentines ex-pats, singing and making his presence felt in a cold Marseille night (not like when I took the picture below, with an empty stadium and in the middle of an incredibly hot summer).
I'm watching Argentina's warm-up and Diego is talking to each and every players. I'm not an expert reading lips, but Diego just told GAGO: "Jugá como sabés" ("Play like you know").
I'll be looking forward to your texts in the comments' box.
It's in French and I don't understand everything they say, but perhaps you do and even if you don't, you'll enjoy this video.
They show the mythical Club Parque, the entity that produced an incredible number of Argentine international footballers such as Fernando REDONDO, Fernando GAGO, Sergio BATISTA himself and many many more.
Enjoy this 13:29 minute video while you get ready for the match.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Apparently, even if Diego refuses to confirm his starting lineup, he would decide to include one extra midfielder (it could be Jonas GUTIERREZ) instead of using the three short guys up front: TEVEZ, MESSI and AGÜERO.
There are still chances that MARADONA could change his mind and decides to use Carlitos as well as Kun, but it appears that his son-in-law has the upper hand over TEVEZ, another of his favourite players.
The probable lineup could be:
ZANETTI, DEMICHELIS, HEINZE and PAPA;
Maxi RODRIGUEZ, GAGO, MASCHERANO, GUTIERREZ;
MESSI and AGÜERO.
If not, it would be TEVEZ instead of GUTIERREZ.
Regardless of his lineup, MARADONA said he will ask his team to attack France and play offensive football.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Lionel MESSI was restored into Barcelona’s starting line up for the match against Sporting Gijon. As expected the league leaders were on fire again as they cruised to a 3-1 win. MESSI was everywhere. Passing, assisting , dribbling except for scoring.
But that’s okay for me simply because I do not expect him to be scoring week in week out. There are many ways for him to help his team. He assisted two of the goals, one for ETO’O and the other for Dani ALVES.
After all there are many other players who can score goal too for our national team, all they need is them a little assist from Lionel to make the difference.
One of them is Kun AGUERO, who scored as early in the 3rd minute for Atletico Madrid in their 3-0 away win over Recreativo Huelva.
Other scorer was Lucho GONZALEZ for FC Porto in their Portugal clasico encounter with Benfica. The match ended 1-1 from which Lucho scored from the spot for the equalizer.
To a lesser, Eulogio ZARATE scored a last minute equalizer for Grasshopper Zurich in the Swiss Super League against FC Zurich. The match ended 2-2.
Manu GINOBILI scored 19 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals & a block shot off the bench, playing more than 31 minutes after sitting out Tuesday’s game against Denver (alongside Tim DUNCAN, Tony PARKER & Michael FINLEY) with a bruised hip.
“If I would have played in Denver, I wouldn’t have been this fresh for sure,” Manu said. “It was very important for us to get rest a couple of days.”
Manu hit four free throws towards the latter stage of the game with ease despite of all the distraction from the crowd at The Garden. But his main highlight of the game came when the Celtics were in bounding the ball when Manu stole the pass and drew a clear-path foul, giving him two shots and the Spurs the ball.
Fabricio OBERTO only played for 1 minutes plus from which he posted just 2 points and couple of rebound.
But at the same time...what an unfair thing would have been for this Argentina U20 national team to qualify to the Youth World Cup!
Just one win in the entire competition (to probably the worst side competing: Perú). Six draws and three defeats, scoring 10 goals and conceding 13.
It was an unacceptable performance by a team that couldn't count on players such as DI SANTO, PIATTI or PASTORE, but at the same time had enough names (INSUA, ZUCULINI, SALVIO) to steady the ship and make it to Egypt in a tournament that awarded not 1, not 2, but 4 tickets among 10 teams.
For all I enjoyed BATISTA leading our U23 to Olympic glory, I think he is the main responsible for this complete an utter failure.
I'm not taking just the results as a parameter here. The level of performances just wasn't there. Not once did I see this team taking complete control over a game. Not once they showed they deserved to qualify for the World Cup.
It could have been a different story had that completely legal goal against Brazil been awarded by that pathetic Uruguayan referee. Argentina could have nicked those three points and could have gathered some momentum there. It wasn't to be. And I think the aftermath of that derby defeat was where we can find the source of all the problems that followed.
BATISTA couldn't control himself and gave the angriest press conference I remember. He called the referee a million names. He blamed everyone but his own guys or himself. And I think he pass that emotional charge on to his group of players.
Argentina saw four red cards (GAITAN, ZUCULINI, BELLA and FERNANDEZ), the players went at it after the match against Venezuela, there was NOTHING left from those more than ten years under PEKERMAN/TOCALLI and to a lesser extent TOJO, in which not only Argentina won or contended every youth title around but also topped the Fair Play charts in the process.
Apart from the obvious failure to qualify to the Youth World Cup, that lack of discipline or respect to the opposition or our own team and fans is the single most thing that I regret after watching this tournament.
Just to put this into perspective, last time Argentina failed to make it to the Youth World Cup was at Australia 1993. That time it was because suspension after a Juan ESNAIDER-led Argentina participated in a massive brawl in Portugal 1991.
Last time we missed out for on the pitch failure was in Chile 1987 (where Yugoslavia, with the likes of Zvonimir BOBAN, Robert PROSINECKI, Davor SUKER and Robert JARNI defeated West Germany in the final -after penalty kicks- and started to bloom for when the new Croatian national side finished third eleven years later in France 1998. But that's another story, isn't it?).
We won't get our chance to see how this generation of Argentine players would have faired at the Youth World Cup later this year. A real shame indeed.
During the last torneo Apertura fixture for Estudiantes de La Plata, VERON saw the red card and was suspended for this weekend's start of the torneo Clausura. But there is an rule (number 225) that allows domestic clubs to pick suspended players (postponing their suspension for the future) in order to replace other players from that club that are away on international duty.
Since Estudiantes have Cristian GAITAN playing for Argentina at the U20 South American tournament in Venezuela (Argentina play Colombia later on Sunday, buy the way!), VERON was able to play for them against Rosario Central (0-0 draw). Well...you guessed...he picked up an injury and so he'll not be making the trip to France.
His absense adds to that of RIQUELME, BATTAGLIA and LEDESMA. MARADONA wanted the three of them but had to make do without them because Boca Juniors had a late match on Sunday in Jujuy (1700km North of Buenos Aires) and the schedule was too tight for the players to be able to make the trip. After it was perceived that MARADONA was forced to 'help' Boca Juniors by not taking away two vital players for them, Diego said: "Now I'm not taking LEDESMA because I don't want people to think I'm favouring one team over the other".
BATTAGLIA got injured during a training session this week anyway, and he won't be playing for Boca on Sunday, either.
With this situation unfolded, the only players from the domestic league that will be traveling to France are: Gastón ANGELERI (Estudiantes de La Plata), Emiliano PAPA (Velez Sarsfield) and Daniel MONTENEGRO (Independiente).
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Back to the match against Racing, the Los Merengues fans are rejoicing a breath of fresh air (not exactly) at the Bernabau under former Spurs manager, Juande RAMOS. A sole strike from Pipita was enough to give the All-White of Madrid their seventh consecutive win.
HIGUAIN raced onto RAUL's headed flick-on, feigned to shoot before skipping inside the sliding Racing keeper, Cesar NAVAS and coolly slotting his shot into the far corner. That was his 13th goal of the season.
In Greece, a goal each from Fernando BELUSCHI and Luciano GALLETTI help Olympiakos to a 2-0 win over Panthrakikos.
Our boys, struggling mightly in this tournament but also very very unlucky, were trying everything in their power to win and get in the driver's seat ahead of their last match against Colombia (Sunday).
They were linking up well and getting into scoring positions, but over and over again they failed.
Then Venezuela produced only one attacking opportunity and after an unreal bycicle-kick cross, RONDON found the back of the net with a good header.
It was game over for Argentina, with only a handful of minutes to go. Not only game over...it was "goodbye Egypt 2009 Youth World Cup" and the chances of defending the title we won in Canada 2007.
Argentina kept going forward and the boys gave everything they had. A draw had a horrible taste when looking at the menu before the match began, but with the circumstances BATISTA's team was under, when Marcelo BENITEZ scored on injury time, it tasted like the sweetest dessert ever.
That goal meant Argentina are still alive. What they need to do is to beat Colombia (this time they REALLY need to win) and then hope for Paraguay or Venezuela to lose their respective matches against Brazil (already champions) and Uruguay (already qualified).
It's not a pretty scenario, but at least Argentina stand a chance. Incredibly enough, with a good combination of results, Argentina could end up finishing in third place!
Here's the thing and the possible scenarios to qualify:
1. To beat Colombia and to have Brazil beating Venezuela by any goal-difference. With those two results, Argentina will get to 5 points, Venezuela will stay with 4 and Argentina will clinch fourth place.
2. Now...if Venezuela defeat Uruguay, we'll still have a chance.
Argentina need to beat Colombia and get a hand from Brazil. If both, Argentina and Brazil, win with a combined goal-difference of 5 goals, we're through as we'll surpass Paraguay on goal-difference -with both teams finishing on 5 points.
That one is not easy.
Paraguay will guarantee their ticket to Egypt with a draw.
If Venezuela draw with Uruguay and Argentina beat Colombia, we're through as we'll have a better goal-difference than the hosts.
There you go...get your calculator ready and paint your fingernails with some product that tastes bad so you don't eat them all!
Friday, February 06, 2009
TEVEZ has suffered dramatically since Sir Alex FERGUSON decided to partner Wayne ROONEY and Dimitar BERBATOV up front. However in recent weeks, Carlitos was back in contention after scoring and assisting some crucial goals in the absence of the injured ROONEY.
He has started 22 games this season - as many as BERBATOV - a handful of those have been in the League Cup, and it has become apparent that once everybody is fit there is no place in the starting line-up for the former West Ham player.
Apparently, United are prepared to pay the €34.5 million (£30m) the 25-year-old's owners, MSI (Media Sports Investments), are asking for, plus €86,000-a-week (£75,000) in wages. While at the same time Inter Milan, Real Madrid and even Manchester City are now keen to lure away from Old Trafford.
Reports suggest that the Nerazzurri are waiting to pounce as they consider TEVEZ to be the ideal partner for Zlatan IBRAHIMOVIC. It is believed Inter will get the transfer ball rolling when they arrive in Manchester later this month for their Champions League clash with the Red Devils. The key will be to tempt the striker with a lucrative deal, in addition to convincing him that a move to Serie A would be a positive step for his career.
Meanwhile the reports from Madrid suggest that Los Merengues are willing to match, and perhaps even better, the European champions. Both Florentino PEREZ and Juan VILLALONGA, candidates for the Real Madrid presidency, are said to have already contacted MSI to begin negotiations for the striker.
As for Manchester City, it doesn’t come to surprise that they are in the picture considering a huge backing that’s comes from the oil rich Dubai family owes the club.
Now the million dollar question is, who will win the race to sign TEVEZ?
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Ever since his arrival at FC Barcelona, the former Arsenal striker has expressed his awe towards MESSI. Next Tuesday, though, both players will face each other as they represent their respective countries in what looks to be a very attractive friendly match.
As expected, Raymond DOMENECH has revealed his 21-men squad for the upcoming friendly against Argentina (11 February in Marseille) and apart from HENRY, he has named veteran William GALLAS (one of 4 Arsenal players on the list), outstanding players such as Frank RIBERY and Nicolas ANELKA, together with members of the so-called "Generation of 87": Karim BENZEMA and local Marseille's hero, now at Arsenal, Samir NASRI.
Here's the full French squad that will look to cause Diego MARADONA's his first international defeat.
Steve MANDANDA (Olympique Marseille), Hugo LLORIS (Olympique Lyon), Cedric CARRASSO (Toulouse).
Eric ABIDAL (Barcelona), William GALLAS (Arsenal), Philippe MEXES (AS Roma), Bacary SAGNA (Arsenal), Gael CLICHY (Arsenal), Julien ESCUDE (Sevilla), Rod FANNI (Stade Rennes), Sebastien SQUILLACI (Sevilla).
Jeremy TOULALAN (Olympique Lyon), Alou DIARRA (Girondins Bordeaux), Lassana DIARRA (Real Madrid), Samir NASRI (Arsenal), Yoann GOURCUFF (Girondins Bordeaux)
Thierry HENRY (Barcelona), Karim BENZEMA (Olympique Lyon), Franck RIBERY (Bayern Munich), Nicolas ANELKA (Chelsea), Jimmy BRIAND (Stade Rennes).
Last time Argentina and France met, Javier SAVIOLA with a lovely back-heel touch, gave the Albicelestes a 1-0 win at the Stade Francais in Saint-Denis in February 2007.
See the reactions of that match at Mundo Albiceste:
Feeling that lovely déjà vu?
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Athletic seemed to cope better with the situation though, and Fernando LLORENTE gave them the lead just before half-time with a header from a corner.
Sevilla failed to create much and only after DUSCHER had leveled the match with a booming strike from close range after the break, did they look dangerous, but it looked to be to no avail, as Federico KANOUTE spurned a great chance to score from the spot with five minutes left.
However, with just a couple of minutes to go, Sevilla grabbed the winner as a deflected shot from DUSCHER found its way through to ACOSTA, and he beat Gorka IRAIZOZ from close range.
I just wonder, how much Checho BATISTA must have wished he had someone like ACOSTA to do him the same favour as he did for TOCALLI two years ago.
The winning tradition the Albicelestes have in that category asks for nothing less than at least qualifying for the U20 World Cup.
Argentina, without suspended Franco ZUCULINI, will face Uruguay, a team that won all their matches except the one they lost to Brazil in the first match of the second round.
They clearly look as favourites and it'll take a lot from our boys to break the Skyblues. There's no more room for mistakes and in order to make sure we make it to Egypt 2009, we need to win our three remaining matches -or at least two, but without losing the other one-, if we don't want to rely on other results coming our way.
I still trust these boys, but they seriously need to improve.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
A Stephen JACKSON jumper with 1:02 left gave the Warriors a 95-91 lead but Manu was force to the free throw line on four attempts. He sank all four of his foul shots in the final 49 seconds of regulation.
It was amazing to see just how calm he was in making those shots, whilst ignoring the noise and distraction from the crowd in the Oracle Arena. JACKSON’s lean-in jumper at the buzzer fell short, sending the game into overtime.The extra minutes did not favour the home team, as Spurs breeze through to their third straight win on the road with both Manu and Tim DUNCAN leading the way. Like Timmy, this was season high performance from Manu posting 32 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and one block shot.
“Manu is really finding his stride and been playing great the last five or six games,” DUNCAN said. “It looks like he’s feeling good about it and is getting back to the basket a lot more which is only going to help us.”
Monday, February 02, 2009
Both Boca stars, RIQUELME and Sebastián BATTAGLIA, won't make the trip with Diego, after the manager decided to left them play for their club on Sunday.
Boca Juniors will play in Jujuy (1654 km from Buenos Aires) on Sunday at 7:30 PM and Diego thought they'd be at risk of not making it on time to arrive in France with enough time to prepare with the rest of the squad.
MARADONA himself will board a plane on Saturday afternoon and, apart from his coaching staff, he'll be joined by a few local players he called up officialy on Monday.
The one with the heaviest luggage when it comes to international experience is Juan Sebastián VERON. On duty with Estudiantes de La Plata for the Copa Libertadores qualifying round on Wednesday at home against Sporting Cristal of Perú, VERON is suspended for the first round of Clausura 2009 matches.
Midfielder Cristian LEDESMA will play for San Lorenzo on Friday (against Tigre) and will also be traveling with MARADONA on Saturday.
A trio of other domestic players will travel on Sunday at 23:40, after they play for their clubs that day.
Left-back Emiliano PAPA (Velez) and midfielder Daniel MONTENEGRO (Independiente) are back in Diego's list, whilst Gastón ANGELERI (Estudiantes de La Plata) receives his first international call up.
He is a tough-tackling long-haired right-back that was always in MARADONA's highest of esteems.
These five players complete the list of 25. The European-based players?
Juan Pablo CARRIZO (Lazio)
Sergio ROMERO (AZ Alkmaar)
Javier ZANETTI (Inter)
Martin DEMICHELIS (Bayern Munich)
Gabriel HEINZE (Real Madrid)
Daniel DIAZ (Getafe)
Nicolas BURDISSO (Inter)
Walter SAMUEL (Inter)
Javier MASCHERANO (Liverpool)
Fernando GAGO (Real Madrid)
Maximiliano RODRIGUEZ (Atletico Madrid)
Jonas GUTIERREZ (Newcastle United)
Luis GONZALEZ (Porto)
Lionel MESSI (FC Barcelona)
Sergio AGÜERO (Atletico Madrid)
Carlos TEVEZ (Manchester United)
Ezequiel LAVEZZI (Napoli)
Lisandro LOPEZ (Porto)
German DENIS (Napoli)
Angel DI MARIA (Benfica)
Raymond DOMENECH, France's manager, despite all his crazy ways, his zodiac-based decisions such as to leave Robert PIRES out of the World Cup because he was born under the sign of scorpion and inexplicably poor results, is expected to name his squad at a press conference on Thursday.
It would be unwise to ignore the fact that the match was played under awful weather and pitch conditions, but that is by no means an excuse. The waterlogged pitch and the heavy rain where there for both teams.
Argentina got really unlucky in the first half when the linesman raised his flag for a non-existent offside position when Cristian GAITÁN sent the ball home with a fine header.
Brazil scored twice in the second half, through Alan KARDEC and GIULIANO. Now they have 6 points in this final round and are very close from qualifying for the Youth World Cup.
Key midfielder, Franco ZUCULINI, saw the red card after a brawl between several players from both sides. PATRIC, from Brazil, was the other player sent off.
Argentina will need to improve and start winning (1 win, 4 draws and 1 defeat in this tournament). Next up will be the dangerous Uruguayans on Wednesday (the best team in the first round, but now struggling after losing to Brazil and -as I'm writing this- trailing Colombia in their two final round matches). Friday will be our showdown with Venezuela and we finally close with a match against Colombia on Sunday.
In case you don't know, four teams out of the six that qualified for this final round will secure their tickets to the Youth World Cup. Every team will face each other and qualification will be decided by points.
Brazil 6 pts
Colombia 4 pts (leading Uruguay 1-0. Still in second half)
Paraguay 1 pt
Venezuela 1 pt (Paraguay and Venezuela will play very late on Monday).
Argentina 1 pt 2 matches
Uruguay 0 pt
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Of course nothing can get bigger than what Lionel MESSI does. But to think of Lionel starting from the bench? Just what exactly is coach Pep GUARDIOLA think he is doing?
Barca were down 0-1 with a goal from Nikola ZIGIC in the 56th minute. Immediately GUARDIOLA turned to MESSI in his moment of need and the Argentina forward turned the game on its head with two well-taken goals.
His first was a cross from Thiery HENRY was met with a firm header by XAVI and the ball cannoned back off the crossbar into the path of the Atomic Flea, who slotted home right-footed from four yards.
If his first goal was simple in its execution, his second was sublime.
A miss-hit clearance dropped out of the sky and MESSI took the ball on his chest, showing great strength to shrug off the challenge provided by Oriol LOZANO before he unleashed an unstoppable volley into the far corner beyond the despairing dive of TONO.
Beijing Olympic gold medalist Nicolas PAREJA scored for Espanyol in their 1-1 draw with Recreativo Huelva.
In Italy, Internazionale fail to capitlize from Juventus surprise defeat a day earlier to eight points clear on top of the table. Trailing 1-0 against the other team from Turin, Torino; Nicolas BURDISSO saves them by scoring the equalizer. Hernan CRESPO had the opportunity to win it three minutes from time but his shot was tipped by the keeper.
In another fixture, Jose Ignacio CASTILLO scored the winner for Lecce in their 2-1 win over Siena. While in Portugal, Lucho GONZALEZ was on target for FC Porto in their 3-1 win over Belenenses.