Posts Tagged ‘Inter’

The World Cup is over and Spain are your new Champions.  First Euro 2008 and now this?  I guess we have to respect Spain in international competitions now and not wait for them to eventually choke.  The Final was probably one of the best deciding games since I can remember (1982).  Both teams wanted to win and not just play conservatively, hoping they could put the ball in the net while not really going forward.  Both teams gave it a go but one goal was all it took.  Thank God we didn’t go to penalties because this game was just too good to be decided like that.

Spain: Your 2010 World Cup Champions

On to the game:

Netherlands – Spain (0-1 aet)

Goal – Iniesta (ESP) 116’

Red Card – Heitinga (NED) 109’

Before the match, referee Howard Webb’s wife said she was surprised her husband got the call to be the Final’s ref because he can’t even control his kids at home.  Funny, but she was right.  He was not in control of this game.  The players cared very little if they were getting a yellow card or not.  It’s the Final and there’s no tomorrow so if you have to foul, foul hard and don’t worry about jawing at the ref, all he can do is give you a yellow.  Webb was giving out card like they were going out of style, fourteen in all, including a red to John Heitinga (Everton) for his second yellow of the game.  Webb had no control of a game that most referees would’ve had trouble with.  Did he do a good job?  Kind of.  A red earlier in the game would have put an end to the chippy play.  Otherwise, he did about as good as anyone could have in same situation.

The statistics say Spain had 57% of the possession but watching it I thought it was much closer than that.  Spain would go on runs where the Netherlands couldn’t put anything together and then the Netherlands would control the ball and have Spain on it’s heels.  Spain had more shots, 19 to 13, but the actual shots on goal were only 6 to 5 in favor of Spain.  Maybe it was that sixth shot that made the difference.

Both teams looked as if they could’ve played another ninety minutes but as soon as Andres Iniesta (Barcelona) scored at 116’, Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich) and the rest of the Dutch players had a look of disbelief and all the energy was sucked out of them.  Robben lay on the ground, shaking his head and looking like a man defeated.  It didn’t matter that four minutes plus injury time were left on the clock.  They just didn’t have the will to fight anymore.  One second more was one second too much.

Iniesta will probably never have to buy another drink in Spain, ever.

I don’t understand what Netherlands coach Bert Van Marwijk was thinking with his substitutions?  Now’s the part of the post where I second guess the coach and tell you how I would’ve done things better.

The first substitution was Eljero Elia (Hamburger SV) in for Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool) at 71’.  So a forward playing as a midfielder was taken out for a forward who likes playing midfield.  Why?  Robin Van Persie (Arsenal) was the only true forward on the pitch for Holland and he managed to get all of one shot on goal and it wasn’t even on target.  Wesley Sneijder (Inter) and Robin were doing all of the work of front and Van Persie was along for the ride.  Why not bring in Klaas Jan Huntelaar (AC Milan).  I know I extolled the virtues of Elia in an earlier post but that was then and this is the Finals.  Huntelaar is a proven goal scorer who actually scored in one of his sub appearances.  Maybe Kuyt was spent but Van Persie needed to go at that point.  Kuyt probably worked as hard as anyone this whole World Cup.

Substitution number two was Rafael Van Der Vaart (Real Madrid) for Nigel De Jong (Manchester City) at 99’.  So a holding midfielder was taken out for an attacking midfielder.  Why?  Again, why was Van Persie allowed to stay on when he obviously wasn’t doing anything except accusing the Spanish players of diving.  In the twenty-eight minutes since Elia came in, Robben and Sneijder were still carrying Van Persie.  I’m not saying De Jong should’ve stayed in but Huntelaar would’ve worked in that situation also.

The third and final substitution was defender Edson Braafheid (Celtic) for defender Giovanni Van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord) at 105’.  Van Bronckhorst was probably out of gas by then but why bring in unused Braafheid when you have proven defenders in Andre Ooijer (PSV Eindhoven) and Khalid Boulahrouz (VfB Stuttgart) on the bench?  Both played well when they were called on to start in earlier games.  Puzzling call.  Not to say that Braafheid caused the Netherlands to lose but I would’ve went with a more experienced player at that time of the game.  Braafheid doesn’t see any action all World Cup and then you expect him to play in the last fifteen minutes of the whole tournament.  Again, why?

Congrats to Spain.  The shook off an opening game defeat to Switzerland to win the whole thing.  No way this team was the best team in the tournament but they played like it.  You’d think a team with this many great names would’ve scored more goals but whatever they did was effective.

One question for Vincente Del Bosque, how many times were you going to let Pedro (Barcelona) do nothing on the pitch before you decided that maybe Fernando Torres (Liverpool, for now) should’ve started instead.  Pedro is a good player but not in this tournament.  Plus, the first sub for Spain was forward Jesus Navas (Sevilla) for Pedro.  Jesus Navas?  You have Torres, Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao) and Juan Manuel Mata (Valencia) and you choose Navas?  Really?  Torres finally came in at 106’ for a nearly dead David Villa (Barcelona).  A bit late don’t you think?  Luckily Iniesta bailed him out or he would’ve had to explain why he made or didn’t make those moves.

In the Third Place game, Germany beat Uruguay 3-2.  I won’t talk about it much because the Third Place Game really doesn’t mean much unless your from Uruguay or Germany or whoever is involved in this game.  Germany fought back from 2-1 down to win the game.  Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid) scored one for Uruguay and Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich) got one back for Germany.  With that, Forlan wins the Goldon Ball for tournament’s MVP and Mueller wins the Golden Boot for the World Cup’s leading scorer (five goals, three assists).  Mueller also picks up the Best Young Player award.  Teams are lining up to sign Mueller, who’s only twenty years old.

We're gonna be hearing alot from Mueller for years to come

All in all it was a great World Cup.  South Africa should be proud.  There were no glaring problems and the tournament went off without a hitch.  Hopefully the vuvzela can be banned before the next World Cup.  Interesting note:  New Zealand is the only team not to lose a game in this tournament.  Good for you All Whites.  I picked you to be one of the worst teams coming in.

See you in four years time.  Look for my preview somewhere around June 1, 2014.  Thanks and I hope you enjoyed following this tournament with me.  I saw all sixty-four games and they weren’t all great but it was fun writing about them.  Thanks to Aidan and Joe S. for all the feedback.

I can't believe I have to wait four years!

Advertisements

Day twenty-two saw Brazil’s run come to an end and Asamoah Gyan (Rennes) miss one of the biggest penalty kicks in the history of the World Cup.  It doesn’t top Roberto Baggio’s miss in 1994 but it’s up there.  The Netherlands find a way to fight back against Brazil and Uruguay continues its improbable run to the Finals.  With Brazil gone, it’s anybody’s tournament to win.

One of my darkest moments as a sports fan.

On to the games:

Netherlands – Brazil (2-1)

Goals – Robinho (BRA) 10′, Felipe Melo (BRA) 53′ own goal, Sneijder (NED) 68′

Red Card – Felipe Melo (BRA) 73′

Brazil scored at 10′ and it seemed like this was gonna be another Brazil highlight reel.  The Netherlands could not get anything going in the first half.  Brazil was running them all over the field on offense and were swarming them on defense.  Luckily, the half ended and Brazil was only up 1-0.  Manageable.

The second half started and it was a totally different game.  Brazil slowed its pace, looking content to hold on, and the Netherlands picked it up.  On offense they were stringing passes together and on defense they were coming up big.  An accidental header by Felipe Melo (Juventus) tied the game and Brazil seemed stunned.  Fifteen minutes later Wesley Sneijder (Inter) scores and panic started to set in for Brazil.  Melo then gets red carded for stomping Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich) and the Dutch had the man advantage for the last 17+ minutes of the game.

Brazil tried to go forward but the Netherlands defense was up for it.  Andre Ooijer (PSV Eindhoven), a last-minute starter in place of  Joris Mathijsen (Hamburger SV), was brilliant.  He didn’t let anyone get by him and was physical to boot and the Brazilian players hate that.  The final whistle blew and I think most of the world was stunned.

How did Brazil fall apart so quickly to start the second half and how did the Netherlands adjust so quickly?  It was a fantastic game.  Robben, Robin Van Persie (Arsenal) and Sneijder didn’t seem too friendly out there and it seemed like there was some tension between them.  I know the team didn’t take too kindly to Van Persie’s actions after being substituted in the round of sixteen game earlier in the week and that spilled over in to practice.

The referee wasn’t that great and he lost control of the game somewhere late in the first half.  The players didn’t respect him and were jawing all game at him and he didn’t even card anyone for it.  A yellow card early in the game would’ve put an end to that.  Referee Yuichi Nishimura(JPN) always felt the need to explain himself to the players whenever he blew the whistle so there were a lot of conversations between him and the teams.  It’s like he had to validate why he blew the whistle and that’s not a good sign.

Yes i just blew the whitsle now let me tell you why

Brazil did a lot of complaining in this game and obviously the Dutch got under their skin in the second half and threw them off their game.  Usually Brazil does the talking with their play and not their mouths.  Dunga is probably already gone as Brazil’s coach and if he isn’t, he will be soon.  Kaka (Real Madrid) was off but I think the whole Netherlands physicality thing had something to do with it.

Uruguay – Ghana (1-1) (4-2 PSO)

Goals – Muntari (GHA) 45’+2, Forlan (URU) 55′

Red Card – Suarez (URU) 120’+1

What a great game!.  It was back and forth all the way.  Ghana had more time of possession and shots on goal but the difference in the game was some quick thinking from Luis Suarez (Ajax) and a huge miss by Gyan.  Both these teams deserved the result but there had to be one winner.

Sulley Muntari (Inter) was finally deemed good enough to start for the Black Stars and it paid off.  Milovan Rajevic should’ve done more with him in this tournament.  Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid) did a lot of work for Uruguay and was rightfully named Man of the Match.

As I said, the game was back and forth but the result hinged on a late game scramble in front of the Uruguay net.  The game was about to be headed to penalty kicks.  After the second extra time period but just before the whistle could come, Ghana made a late rush and two shots were saved on the goal before a third was saved by a handball from Suarez.  Luis Suarez was on the line and punched the ball out of the air that was destined for the back of the net.  I don’t know who shot it but it was going in if not for the quick thinking of Suarez.  The referee pointed to the spot and Suarez was shown the door.  The penalty kick was going to be the last play of the game.  Make it and the game is over, miss it and we go to penalties.  Asamoah Gyan places the ball down, takes a few steps, takes a shot, the goalie is beaten, CLANK!!!  The referee blew the whistle for time and we have penalties.  How did he miss it?  That has to go down as one of the worst, clutch misses ever but not the worst.  Suarez stayed around near the tunnel to see the outcome.  Once the ball hit off the crossbar he jumped for joy and went to the locker room.  Sure, Luis Suarez is suspended for the Semi-final but he had no other choice.

Ghana was devastated going into the penalty shoot out and after two Ghana misses, Sebastian Abreu (Botafogo) makes Uruguay’s fifth shot and the South Americans move on.  Gyan was inconsolable after the match.  He was crying like a baby.  What a game!  It’s sad that Gyan will be remembered by the miss because he did have a great tournament.

I had a good tournament, really!

Tonight we have Argentina – Germany and Paraguay – Spain.  The winner of the Argentina – Germany game should automatically become the favorite to win the whole thing.  Don’t miss it!  Remember this name: Mesut Oezil (Werder Bremen, for now).

If you’re looking for some insight on the USA – Algeria game, go elsewhere.  This post is gonna be light on the information not only for that game but all the games.  I have no interest in talking about Landon Donovan’s  (LA Galaxy) late goal against Algeria to not only qualify the Americans but put them atop Group C.  If you want to know more about this game, go ask your friends who just jumped on the USA Soccer bandwagon.

On to the games:

USA – Algeria (1-0)

Goal – Donovan (USA) 90’+1

Red Card – Yahia (ALG) 90’+3

The USA moves on to the second round.  Bully for them!

Slovenia – England (0-1)

Goal – DeFoe (ENG) 23′

England looked odd in those all red uniforms.  Jermain DeFoe’s (Tottenham) goal puts England through as second best in this group.  Hopefully they can wake up now.  I don’t know what Capello’s fascination is with James Milner (Aston Villa) but Aaron Lennon (Tottenham) is too good to be on the bench.  Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) continues to dissapoint.

Ghana – Germany (0-1)

Goal – Oezil (GER) 60′

Germany knew a win would put them into the next round but a tie might also do.  They decided winning is better.  Cacau (VfB Stuttgart) started in place of the suspended Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich).  Ghana’s coach, Milovan Rajevac continues to puzzle me by not being able to find a place for Stephen Appiah (Bologna) and Sulley Muntari (Inter).  There was something about two brothers playing against each other.  Kevin Prince-Boateng (Portsmouth) of Ghana played against his half brother Jerome Boateng (Hamburger SV).  Both were born in Germany but Kevin decided the Black Stars were the team for him.

Australia – Serbia (2-1)

Goals – Cahill (AUS) 69′, Holman (AUS) 73′, Pantelic (SRB) 84′

A Radomir Antic team fails to live up to expectations.  I’m not surprised.  Marko Pantelic (Ajax) is not good enough to start, yet again.  Tim Cahill (Everton) came back from his suspension to put the Aussies on the board first.  Australia improved a lot from the drubbing they got from Germany in game one.

Standings

Team (points)

Group A:

Uruguay (7), Mexico (4),  South Africa (4), France (1) – Uruguay and Mexico advance

Group B:

Argentina (9), South Korea (4), Greece (3), Nigeria (1) – Argentina and South Korea advance

Group C:

USA (5), England (5),  Slovenia (4), Algeria (1) – USA and England advance

Group D:

Germany (6), Ghana (4), Australia (4), Serbia (3) – Germany and Ghana advance

Group E:

Netherlands (6), Japan (3), Denmark (3), Cameroon (0) – Netherlands advance, Cameroon eliminated

Group F:

Paraguay (4), Italy (2), New Zealand (2), Slovakia (1)

Group G

Brazil (6), Portugal (4), Ivory Coast (1), North Korea (0) – Brazil advance, North Korea eliminated

Group H

Chile (6), Spain (3), Switzerland (3),  Honduras (0)

Day six didn’t have me excited.  Sure, the Ivory Coast – Portugal match looked like a good one but with an injured Didier Drogba (Chelsea), that game lost a little bit of it’s luster.  Slovakia should’ve run all over New Zealand and Brazil should’ve thrashed North Korea.  I thought we would see the worst two teams in the World Cup in New Zealand and North Korea.  All the games were just, meh!  It’s hard for me to write a post for these games because they were so underwhelming.  Being the consummate professional, I’ll give it a go.

On to the games:

New Zealand – Slovakia (1-1)

Goals – Vittek (SVK) 50’, Reid (NZL) 90’+3

Looking at New Zealand’s formation before the game I didn’t think there would be too many goals.  New Zealand showed a 5-2-3 lineup and that’s not good for scoring.  Sure you have three forwards but with most players playing defense how would they get the ball?  As the game progressed, it changed into more of a 3-4-3 formation.  It may not seem important but why would you throw three forwards out there with no one to really to help get them the ball?

Slovakia was losing balls left and right through 15’  New Zealand were doing just enough in the early going but Slovakia started to turn it up at around 30’.  Marek Hamsik (Napoli) had a nice chance from the top of the box at 44’ but goalie Mark Paston (Wellington Phoenix) tipped it over the goal.  New Zealand doing well in the first half, a million times better than Australia showed against Germany.

The New Zealand defense looked shaky to start the 2nd half and Slovakia made them pay when Robert Vittek (Ankaragucu) scored at 49’.  After that, Slovakia seemed to be content with the goal and really weren’t interested in getting another.  Bad move.  New Zealand looked to be interested in getting a point at 78’ by bringing in midfielder Jeremy Christie (Tampa Bay) for defender Ivan Vicelich (Auckland City).  Slovakia continued to defend for the rest of the half but did look dangerous whenever they could be bothered to go forward.

In the dying seconds of the game, Winston Reid (Midtjylland) scored and New Zealand got their first ever World Cup point.  Slovakia only have themselves to blame for not walking out of this game with maximum points.  They put the brakes on instead of going for the kill.  Goal difference and goals scored could come into play when the group round is over and if Slovakia just misses out on advancing, they can look at this game as to why.

In case you didn't know, this is Winston Reid

Ivory Coast – Portugal (0-0)

Will Drogba start?  Will Drogba play?  If Drogba plays, will he be his usual self?  So many question.  The answers: no, yes, yes.  I thought Drogba would be feeling the effects of the elbow injury but he looked good in his 34+ minutes on the pitch.

Both teams moved the ball well, defended well and had plenty of chances.  Possession, shots and shots on goal were very similar.  Nothing really stuck out in this game.  Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) was man of the match but maybe because they had to give it to someone.

Man of the Match Cristiano Ronaldo - Couldn't they just not have awarded it?

The few things I remember is that there were some bad tattoos and really bad hair in this game.  Not just this game but this has to be the some of the worst collection of tattoos and hair in one sporting event.

Brazil – North Korea (2-1)

Goals – Maicon (BRA) 55’, Elano (BRA) 72’, Ji Yun Nam (89)

Brazil had 63% of the possession, 26 shots and 10 shots on goal and still could only beat North Korea 2-1.  Even though they lost, North Korea came away from this game looking and feeling good.  The media back in Brazil is probably killing this team right now.

The goals from Maicon (Inter) and Elano (Galatasaray) were two of the best in the tournament but they really should have scored about five.  North Korea’s goal came when Ji Yun Nam (April 25) went through three Brazilian defenders to the left of goal and rocketed a shot into the net.  Brazil’s defense was half-assing it on the play and they paid for it.

Ji Yun Nam - I bet a statue is being erected somewhere in Pyongyang

Ivory Coast is up next for Brazil and they better bring their A game because Ivory Coast can run and cause problems.  Good for you North Korea, you captured the hearts of the soccer world and maybe now you can go home after this World Cup instead of being sent directly to some sort of labor camp.

Standings

Team (points)

Group A:

South Africa (1), Mexico (1), Uruguay (1), France (1)

Group B:

South Korea (3), Argentina (3), Nigeria (0), Greece (0)

Group C:

Slovenia (3), USA (1), England (1), Algeria (0)

Group D:

Germany (3), Ghana (3), Serbia (0), Australia (0)

Group E:

Netherlands (3), Japan (3), Cameroon (0), Denmark (0)

Group F:

Paraguay (1), Italy (1), New Zealand (1), Slovakia (1)

Group G

Brazil (3), Ivory Coast (1), Portugal (1), North Korea (0)

Chelsea takes on Manchester City and I’ll be keeping a running blog post while I’m watching the game.  If you look at my Top 5 Hated Soccer Teams list from my previous post you’ll see that these two teams.  Man City is higher on that list so I have (slightly) more venom for them.  I usually would have no use for this game but the whole Wayne Bridge/John Terry drama is too much for me to pass up.  If they weren’t playing each other I’d probably be watching a Jean-Claude Van Damme or Steven Seagal movie on Super Action, a replay of Korea winning baseball gold at the 2006 Beijing Olympics (for the 1,000th time) or South Korea’s exploits in the 2002 World Cup (for the 100,000th time).  As you can see, my Saturday night TV viewing is very limited in the ROK.

Besides the Bridge/Terry thing there are other important storylines with this game.  Man City manager, Roberto Mancini, may be on the hot seat since his teams poor run of form assures them that they will not win any hardware this season.  That’s not what the multi-billionaire Dubai owner wants to hear from a team he’s spent so much money on.  A loss here might seal his fate.  Adebayor is out of this game because of the red card he picked up against Stoke City.

Chelsea leads Manchester United by only one point after Man U’s win earlier in the week.  A loss here makes the title chase even more interesting.  Man City beat Chelsea at the Eastlands 2-1 on December 5th so the Blues will be looking for revenge.

Let’s not kid ourselves, Bridge and Terry are the main draw here.  Earlier this week, Wayne Bridge turned his back on England and doesn’t want to be in the squad going to South Africa.  Fabio Capello probably has mixed feelings about his decision but, at the same time, it might make his job easier.  There certainly will be less tension in the locker room and England has no shortage of left-backs.  England are my pick to lift the trophy but it’s still too early to be sure.  Bridge said he would refuse to shake Terry’s hand in the pre-game ritual.  Some of Bridge’s Man City teammates said they would do the same.  We’ll see what happens.  Either way, there will be plenty of boo’s and whistles whenever Bridge touches the ball.  I think Bridge and Terry shake hands, they’re professionals

Lineups:

Chelsea – Hilario (GK), Ivanovic, Carvalho, Terry (C), Lampard, J. Cole, Mikel, Ballack, Malouda, Drogba, Anelka

Manchester City – Given (GK) (C), Richards, Bridge, Zabaleta, Lescott, Kompany, A. Johnson, Barry, De Jong, Tevez,                           Bellamy

Substitutes:

Chelsea – Turnbull (GK), Ferreira, Alex, Belletti, Matic, Kalou, Sturridge

Manchester City – Taylor (GK), Onuoha, Sylvinho, Toure, Wright-Philips, Santa Cruz, Ibrahim

Referee: Mike Dean

The Game:

Players in the tunnel waiting to come out.  Mike Dean has words with Shay Given.  I wonder if he’s telling him not to refuse to shake Terry’s hand like some players had threatened to do.

Teams making their way out on the pitch and line up for the pre-game ritual.  Chelsea in all blue.  Man City wearing white with a red and black diagonal stripe on their shirts.  The look like River except with the added black stripe and the fact that River Plate’s uniform looks a million times cooler.

Pre-game handshake time.  Things going smoothly so far.  Terry extended his hand, Bridge looked at him but refused to shake his hand.  Crowd erupts in boos.  I’m sure this won’t be the last time.  I was wrong about Bridge being professional about this.

I guess John Terry is the bigger man

Mancini and Ancelotti have a hug and a smile.  Will this be it for Mancini?

1st Half:

Chelsea kick off.  We’re off.

Hilario handles a slow roller well.  It’s not a sure thing with him, given the way he looked against Inter in the Champions league in mid-week.

Boos for Bridge as he takes the throw in.

What’s with Jolene Lescott’s hair?

I wonder how long the crowd can keep up booing Wayne Bridge?

Cheers every time John Terry touches the ball.  Can they keep that up too?

Quick shot by Lampard.  Save Given.

Gareth Barry is not happy for some reason.  Ref has a talk with him.  I think a yellow card for Barry will happen today.

If John Terry scores, Stamford Bridge will explode.

Tevez’ first touch is a hand ball.

Nice move on the right side by Ivanovic.  Quick shot and Given saves.

Fabio Capello in the house.

What’s with all the (bad) tattoo sleeves?

Adam Johnson with a free kick from the right of goal.  Too strong for Kompany to get on the end of it.

Malouda thinks about taking a shot from 30 yards.  Not a good choice.

Mancini knows this isn’t Italy right.  Managers in England aren’t fashion plates.  Take off that stupid scarf!

Drogba hauled down by Richards right outside the box to the left of goal.  Where’s the yellow?  Free-kick.  Drogba over the ball.  Short pass to Lampard.  Quick shot.  Blocked.  Poor choice on the play.

Ballack finally makes an appearance at the 15 minute mark.  Nice shiner.

Drogba makes a nice pass across goal to no one.  Where’s Cole or Lampard?

Rough entry by Malouda on Johnson.  Free kick for Man City to the right of goal about 20 yards out.  Johnson takes the kick.  Straight to Hilario.  Save.  Another poor free-kick choice.

Nice quick shot by Joe Cole.  Given punches.  Possession favoring Chelsea.

20 minutes in and Tevez has yet to touch the ball with his feet.

Crowd giving Hilario sarcastic cheers every time he kicks the ball.  That won’t help his confidence.

Bellamy a mile offsides.  He doesn’t think so.  Of course he doesn’t.

Drogba heads an Ivanovic pass right over the goal.  Close

Chelsea leads in shots 6-1 at the 25 minute mark.

Tevez receives the ball at the center line.  I’m sure Chelsea don’t mind him getting the ball there.  Quick back pass.

Nice run by Joe Cole.  Passes to Ivanovic.  Return pass to Cole too strong.

Anelka has a go from 20 yards.  Right to Given.

Malouda OWNING A. Johnson so far, 30 minutes in.

Drogba shows up on the right makes a cross on goal.  Kompany almost put it into his own net.  Corner.  Ball comes out, to Ivanovic.  Cross.  Drogba, Richards, and Zabaleta go down in a heap.  Drogba and Zabaleta knocked heads.  Drogba gets up but Zabaleta on the ground and looks dazed.  He walks off the pitch slowly.

Joe Cole and Bridge having a chat at 32 minutes.

Richards steps in on Anelka.  Free-kick Chelsea.  Malouda takes the kick from the left of goal.  The kick crosses the field and out.  Poor.

Crowd can’t keep up with booing Bridge.  They’re losing interest.

Lampard’s errant shot goes to Drogba who puts it right over the goal.  Another close one.

Zabaleta returns at 35 minutes.

Nice run by Anelka.  Diagonal for Drogba in the box.  Too long.

Tevez is pretty much just taking up space.  A non-factor.

I forgot Gareth Barry was still in the game (36 minutes).

Is Craig Bellamy supposed to be somebody?

Anelka pretty much doing whatever he wants.

GOAL Lampard at 42 minutes.  Nice pass from Joe Cole.  Lampard was alone in front of goal.  What were Richards and Kompany doing on the play?  Chelsea lead 1-0.

I hope Mancini is just renting.

Surprisingly clean game so far.  Not many whistles.

Man City looks shaky.  Two shots by Cole and Lampard stopped by Given.

GOAL Man City.  Tevez scores (45+2).  Game tied 1-1.  Tevez goes 1 v 2 on the break.  Hilario pretty much just watching as Tevez zigzags and can’t get his hands on Tevez’ weak, rolling shot.  Did I mention Hilario is terrible?

Lescott almost heads in a free-kick.  Hilario overplayed it.  Lucky it was wide.

Mike Dean blows the whistle for half time.

Half:

Terry giving it to the linesman as he walks off.

Lucky goal by City.  Otherwise, they have been awful.  Chelsea in charge of the play.

Can a coach get fired during the game?

2nd Half:

Manchester City kicks off and goes backwards.

Richards makes a hot run up the right but hen he remembers he plays defense and promptly gets confused and loses the ball.

Step in by Terry.  Free-kick Man City right outside the area.  Tevez, bridge and A. Johnson standing over the ball.  Wall set.  Bridge puts it right into the wall.  Malouda makes a run but it fizzles.

Nice effort by Carvalho to keep play alive.  Ivanovic loses the ball in the box.

GOAL Man City (51 min).  Bellamy makes a run on the left side and what looks like a pass turns into a goal.  Right under Hilario’s left hand.  He overplayed it again.

Man City up 2-1 on two goals against the run of play.

Drogba pushed off by Lescott in the box.  Referee says no.  Dean was wrong.  Lescott even extended his arm to push-off.

Ballack taken down to the left of the box.  Drogba will take the free-kick.  Wall set.  Blocked.  Corner.  Lampard takes.  Shot goes through the box.  Cross by Terry.  Save by Given.

Joe Cole is doing a lot of work.

Crowd is a bit dead except for the Bridge boos, which have picked up again.

Zabaleta shown a yellow card (57 min) by Dean for constantly asking for a yellow card.  Karma.

Ivanovic picks up a yellow (58 minutes) for a body on Barry.

Substitutions coming.

Man City:  Wright-Philips for A. Johnson (60 mins)
Chelsea:   Belletti for Mikel (60 mins)
Chelsea:   Sturridge for Joe Cole (61 minus)

I can see the Mikel substitution because he was never really part of the game.

Why did Joe Cole come off?  He was running the midfield and controlling play.  Mistake.

Mike Dean giving Tevez and Terry a taking to after the players had words.  Tevez should’ve been shown a yellow for the push (63 mins).

Sturridge has had two touches and looked terrible.  Fans booing the move.

Long pass by Ballack out-of-bounds.

Ivanovic bails out Hilario by stopping Bellamy on the break.  Corner.  Barry takes and Hilario alertly punches.

Man City has a bit of momentum.  Chelsea has stalled.

Anelka fights his way into the box and takes a quick shot.  Blocked by Given.

Ballack given a yellow (68 mins) for wasting time and tells the linesman to go fuck himself.

Substitution:

Chelsea:  Kalou for Carvalho (70 mins)

Bellamy takes a long-range shot which Hilario surprisingly stops.

Kalou should make a difference.  He looked good against Inter in the Champions League.

Given charges out to anticipate Drogba (71 mins).

Sturridge looks terrible.  Why Ancelotti?

Nice long shot by Ballack.  Given there.

Belletti takes Barry down in the box from behind.  Penalty for Man City and red card for Balletti.  Chelsea reduced to 10 men.  Tevez takes.  GOAL (76 mins).  3-1 Man City.  GAME OVER!!!

Mancini saves his job I think.  Wasn’t Mark Hughes fired after a victory?

Manchester United will stay one point behind Chelsea in the standings.

Substitution:

Manchester City:  Santa Cruz for Bridge (78 mins)

Looks like Mancini wants to score more goals.

Weak shot by Lampard (79 mins).  Save Given.

Wright-Philips with a screamer (80 mins).  Wide right.

Ballack shown yellow/red for tackle on Tevez.  Chelsea down to 9 men.

Fans are starting to stream out as Tevez pretends to limp off.

Shot by Drogba easily saved by Given.

GOAL Bellamy (87 mins).  Wright-Philips makes a nice run on a break from the right and crosses to Bellamy for the tap in.  Where’s Hilario?  4-1 Man City.

Manchester City has three goals against the run of play.

Garbage time.

Substitution:

Manchester City:  Sylvinho for Tevez (90+1)

Anelka is taken down by Barry in the box.  Penalty.  Lampard to take.  GOAL (90+1).  Man City lead 4-2.  Too late to help.

Abramovich looks bored.

Mike Dean blows the whistle to end the game.

Game Thoughts:

Mancini lives to see another day.

The Joe Cole substitution is puzzling because he was a huge part of the game.  Chelsea started going downhill with the introduction of Sturridge.

Sturridge looked out-of-place and tight.

Cech will be out a least a month with the leg injury he picked up mid-week against Inter.  If they can’t hold on to the lead at the top of the table, this will be a major reason why.  Hilario is terrible.  He doesn’t seem to know what to do.  He overplayed all three Manchester City non-penalty goals.  How did Chelsea get stuck with him as their back-up?  With all the money they spend they can’t get a decent back-up?

Chelsea was the better team up until Balletti’s red card.  Manchester City made the most of their breaks.

I don’t think I saw De Jong or heard his name during the whole broadcast.

Lampard looked second best to Joe Cole in the game.

Ivanovic got caught out on many City breaks because of his always going forward.

Referee Mike Dean had a good game.  Not many whistles until the 1st red card.

Manchester United are now one point back and Arsenal is theoretically three points back.

It’s weird watching the game in Korea because I don’t know what the announcers were saying but I could hear their excitement.  Would have liked to have heard the English broadcasters call this game.

Crowd was not as angry with the score as I thought they would be.  They kind of just accepted it.  After Bridge was replaced at 78 minutes, the crowd kind of went dead.

Did I mention how bad Hilario and Sturridge were?

Not City's best decision but they're used to making poor choices. Mancini lives another week.

I just saw that UTEP ended Memphis’ 64-game conference winning streak.  This left Memphis tied with Kentucky for the all-time Division I conference winning streak record.  UTEP won 72-67, at the FedEx Forum no less.  But wait, how does Memphis even share that record with the great Kentucky teams of the 1940’s?  I thought they vacated all their wins from the 2007-2008 season, including their 16 wins in Conference USA.  Doesn’t that mean their streak ended at 29 games?  That’s how many consecutive conference games they had won at the end of the 2006-2007 season.  Sorry Blasian.  Is the NCAA different from other sports when it comes to handling CHEATERS?

In the Olympics, if someone is caught CHEATING, they’re stripped of their medal and it’s given to someone else.  That person doesn’t continue to call themselves a gold medalist and an Olympic champion.  Their name is stricken from the record books.  In the Olympics, CHEATERS never win and winners never CHEAT. 

Not the 1998 100 m Olympic gold medalist in Seoul. Also, not the 100 m record holder either. The IOC cleared the books of him.

In Italy when Juventus was found guilty of wrong-doing in 2006 Italian football scandal, they had to vacate their Serie A title.  The record books show that Inter Milan won the title in the 2005-2006 season, not Juventus.  That seems fair.  Why should Juventus call themselves champions when they were obvious CHEATERS?

Sorry, you can't keep that. Please give it to Inter. They didn't CHEAT.

Now, I know there will be at least one angry person reading this but rules are rules.  Without rules, there would be chaos.  Without rules, a coach can’t tarnish two programs and still be allowed to coach at a prestigious school like Kentucky.  Wait…..   When will the NCAA wise up and strike Memphis basketball from the record books for most consecutive Division I conference wins? 

Sorry Derrick! No SAT, no wins.

Serie A, I used to have eyes only for you but in recent years, other leagues have caught my fancy.  I grew up watching Serie A.  I probably started watching it in 1986 and watched it religiously until a few years ago.  I remember when Ruben Sosa ruled Inter.  When Marco Van Basten could do no wrong.  When Roberto Baggio went from great to the greatest to out of this world.  When Roberto Mancini was a whiny bitch player for Sampdoria then Lazio, before he was the whiny bitch manager of Fiorentina, Lazio, Inter and now Manchester City.  In that time, there has never been a time when I didn’t hate Juventus.  While I still hate Juventus and love AC Milan, Serie A doesn’t hold that special place in my heart.  If I had a choice I’d watch the Spanish La Liga first then the English Premier League.  Who am I kidding; I’d watch any game from the Argentine Primera before any of them.  Since I’m pretty sure a game from Argentina is hard to come by here in Korea, I’ll pretend like they don’t exist. 

Italy just seems to have gotten slower and more plodding over the years.  La Liga is as close as you can get to the Argentine Primera where it’s ninety minutes of back and forth play, with the ball being played through midfield instead of over it.  Serie A teams are better top to bottom but the play just doesn’t excite me as much.  The top eight EPL teams are good and put on a show when they play each other but there is a big drop off after that, in both talent and skill.  For some reason I seem to get Burnley, Hull or Bolton every week.  I know why I get Bolton (Lee Chung-Yong) but why the others?  Every team in Italy seems like it would be content if the game ended 0-0.  In England, every team seems like they want to win, even if they don’t have the skill of the big boys.

There are great players in Spain and England now, more than before.  Back in the day, everyone wanted to go to Italy.  That’s where you made a name for yourself.  We had Jurgen Klinsmann, Gabriel Batistuta, Faustino Asprilla, Rudy Voeller, Frank Rijkaard, and Ruud Gullit.  Now, players would rather go to Spain, England and even Germany before coming to Italy.  Antonio Valencia is having a great season at Manchester United but ten years ago he would have chosen to play somewhere like Parma instead of going to England.  Why????  I think it has something to do with the exposure that England gets all over the world.  In the mid-90’s if you had asked one hundred people around the world who their favorite team was, at least seventy-five percent of them would’ve named an Italian team.  Now, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool would make up a bulk of the answers, followed by Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Serie A, I still watch you but sometimes my heart’s not in it.  Please do something before I close the door on you for good.