Posts Tagged ‘Manchester United’

On day seventeen, England was finally put out of its misery.  A team that had so much promise coming in came up so small on the biggest stage in the sport.  Where was Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)?  He was so lethal in England and in the Champions League but was a non-factor in South Africa.  Midfielders Frank Lampard (Chelsea) and Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) did more for the English attack than all of the forwards combined.  Peter Crouch (Tottenham), Jermain DeFoe (Tottenham), Rooney and Emile Heskey (Aston Villa) were terrible in attack.

I have no idea why England coach Fabio Capello is so enamoured with midfielder James Milner (Aston Villa)?  Sure he’s got talent but he wasn’t as impressive as Aaron Lennon (Tottenham).  Why not start Lennon in the game against Germany since his teammate Jermain Defoe is starting in the attack?  Sometimes coaches make the game so much harder than it really is.  Oh, I forgot, why couldn’t Michael Carrick (Manchester United) get any minutes in this World Cup?

Yes, the refs and linesman missed the Frank Lampard’s (Chelsea) goal that would’ve made it a tie game but lets not say that would’ve been a huge difference in the game.  This defense would’ve still been terrible regardless if the game was tied 2-2 at the half or not.

On to the games:

Germany – England (4-1)

Goals – Klose (GER) 20’, Podolski (GER) 32’, Upson (ENG) 37’, Mueller (GER) 67’ & 70’

Germany scored all four goals on breaks.  The England defense looked lost on all of them.  Would Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United) have made a difference in this game or even this tournament?  Maybe but he’s only one player.  Whenever the Germans would make their runs, the England defense looked like they didn’t know who was covering who so they all decided to cover the player with the ball.  Bad move.

Upson and the entire England defense were terrible

Lampard was denied the tying goal because neither the referee or the linesman saw the ball (clearly) hit behind the goal line.  I know everyone will be clamoring for some sort of technology but technology doesn’t solve everything.  The referees cannot do a shitty job only to be bailed out by technology.  This World Cup had been officiated well but the first four games of the second round have not been as consistent.  The linesman have been terrible throughout.

England hit a few posts like they have all tournament but they deserved to be out.  A terrible defense and a non-existent offense won’t get you far, just ask the Americans.

Argentina – Mexico (3-1)

Goals – Tevez (ARG) 26’, Higuain (ARG) 33’, Tevez (ARG), Hernandez (MEX) 71’

Carlos Tevez (Manchester City) was clearly offsides on the first goal but the linesman was too busy watching the buildup to be paying attention to the whole play.  No matter, Argentina would’ve won no matter what.

A dangerous man

Argentine coach Diego Maradona made a slight change in the lineup and sat Walter Samuel (Inter) for Nicolas Burdisso (Roma) and Jonas Gutierrez (Newcastle) was benched for Nicolas Otamendi (Velez Sarsfield).  Mexican coach Javier Aguirre had an odd lineup.  On paper it looked like a 5-2-3 but in reality it was a 4-3-3  The only problem is that there were only two true midfielders and defender Efrain Juarez (Pumas UNAM) was slotted in on the right midfield.  Sure, Giovani Dos Santos (Galatasaray) can help out in the midfield but he was playing too high to do that.

Argentina was just better.  People are wondering when Lionel Messi (Barcelona) is going to score but it really doesn’t matter.  He doesn’t need to score for this team to win.  He’s drawing so much attention on the pitch that someone always seems to be open.  Argentina is good but if Messi starts scoring, forget about it, this team can go all the way.

Up next is Netherlands – Slovakia and Brazil – Chile.  I’d be surprised if Slovakia and Chile put up much of a fight.

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)

So Germany is human after all?  Serbia did just enough to frustrate Germany.  Slovenia let the USA off the hook and with England unable to score against Algeria, everyone in Group C is still alive going into the final games of the group play.

On to the games:

Germany – Serbia (0-1)
Goal – Jovanovic (SRB) 38′
Red Card – Klose (GER) 33′

I was skeptical when I saw that Serbian coach Radomir Antic decided to start midfielder Milos Ninkovic (Dynamo Kyiv) in place of forward Marko Pantelic (Ajax) and basically go 4-5-1.  Terrible idea because that makes Nikola Zigic (Birmingham City) your only forward and I’m not sold on him to be the workhorse up front.  Well, Serbia won so all is forgotten right?  Not exactly.  Zigic did play better this time and stayed in position which helps but he needed help up front and Pantelic played a pretty good game against Ghana.  I really didn’t notice Ninkovic until he was replaced by Gojko Kacar (Hertha Berlin) at 70′.

Germany didn’t look bad in this game but being a man down for over an hour didn’t help.  Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich) was silly to get even one yellow let alone two.  Not very smart by the usually heady Germans.  Germany had a ton of chances, even a man down but just couldn’t finish.  Serbia keeper, Vladimir Stojkovic (Wigan) was everywhere and was rightfully named Man of the Match.  Lukas Podolski (FC Cologne) missed a second half penalty and the writing was on the wall for the Germans.  I can’t really find any problems with this lineup but Germany should’ve handled Serbia without much difficulty.  The Serbian goal came on a cross from the right that goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (Schalke 04) simply overplayed.  He got spun around and was unable to block Jovanovic, who was right in front of him.

Valdimir Stojkovic or Antonio Banderas

Now, Serbia, Germany and Ghana are all on three points going into the final games of round one.  Germany is lucky that they scored four against Australia but Ghana could go top of the group by beating the Aussies.  They should have no problem doing that.

What was up with the referee?  He was giving out yellow cards like they were going out of style.  The game was a bit physical but not nine yellow cards worth.

Slovenia – USA (2-2)
Goals – Birsal (SVN) 13′, Ljubijankic (SVN) 42′, Donovan (USA) 48′, Bradley (USA) 82′

This was a game of two halves.  The USA played well in both halves but Slovenia was more dangerous in the first and looked like they were ready to book their place in the second round.  Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy) got a a goal back for the Americans just after half-time and the game was now in the balance.  USA did a great job fighting back to tie this game and the result was right, maybe.

USA played very well but I still don't care

You know I’m not a fan but the USA got robbed on that free-kick.  There was no offsides or fouls and that should’ve been a goal.  That being said, can the USA fans please shut the hell up!  This team isn’t going anywhere and they’ll never win the World Cup.  They’re here to make up the numbers but no one who knows anything about soccer thinks they have a legitimate shot at even making a semi-final.  I can’t wait until they’re eliminated so fans can go back to not caring about soccer and leave the rest of the world alone.

England – Algeria (0-0)

How does England not win this game?  Why can’t Michael Carrick (Manchester United) find a place on this struggling team?  How does Algeria end the game with the edge in time of possession?  As I ask these questions, England has two points and scored one goal in two games.  A spot in round two is not certain for this team that everyone, including me, had high hopes for.  Algeria has just as much of a chance to make the second round as England.  Terrible!!!  England had the better of the chances but just couldn’t get the ball in the net.

The good, Aaron Lennon (Tottenham) is having a hell of a tournament and he’s only twenty-three years old.  Ashley Cole (Chelsea) is doing a great job and is probably England’s best player through two games.  Fabio Capello came to his senses and replaced keeper Robert Green (West Ham) with veteran David James (Portsmouth).  I don’t think we’ll be seeing Mr. Green playing for England anytime soon, if ever.

With players like Aaron Lennon, the future looks brighter for England

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) looks frustrated by defenses in the first two games.  How can that be?  He dominated the EPL and Champion’s League all season and now he’s having trouble with the defenses of the USA and Algeria?

Yes, a couple of lucky bounces and England is in better shape but that can be said of most teams in this tournament.  Every team has his posts throughout this tournament.  England needs to score early next game to get some confidence because the longer the games goes without goals, the more frustrated England get.

Standings

Team (points)

Group A:

Uruguay (4), Mexico (4),  France (1), South Africa (1)

Group B:

Argentina (6), South Korea (3), Greece (3), Nigeria (0)

Group C:

Slovenia (4), USA (2), England (2), Algeria (1)

Group D:

Germany (3), Serbia (3), Ghana (3), Australia (0) – Ghana/Australia still to play

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)

Group H

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

Day seven was very entertaining.  Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid) put on a show in the Argentina – South Korea game, Greece came back from the dead to beat a now dead Nigeria team and Mexico might have done enough against France to punch it’s ticket to the next round.  Day seven also showed that sometimes coaches can’t even get out of their own way.  Huh Jung Moo (South Korea) and Raymond Domenech (France) were too smart for themselves and decided to replace key players from game one with players who probably should’ve stayed on the bench.  Mind you, South Korea played well and won and France played well but drew.  More on that later.

On to the games:

Argentina – South Korea (4-1)

Goals – Park Chu Young (KOR) 17’ og, Higuain (ARG) 33’ 76’ 80’, Lee Chung Yong (KOR) 45’+1

Argentina thrashed South Korea but it could’ve been worse and at the same time, it wasn’t that bad.  Argentina was running South Korea ragged in the first half and the time of possession was lopsided in Argentina’s favor.  A quick Lee Chung Yong (Bolton) strike just before the stroke of halftime brought life to this game that was quickly getting out of hand.

South Korea took the momentum of that first half goal into the second half and had Argentina scrambling to recoup.  A second South Korean goal looked like it was imminent.  South Korea was getting close and getting close.  Park Chu Young (AS Monaco) and Lee Chung Yong were giving the Argentinian defense fits.  Then, Gonzalo Higuain spoiled the party and ended all hope for South Korea to get back in this game, let alone win.  2-1 is manageable but 3-1 is impossible.  South Korea knew they were defeated and Argentina kept their foot on the gas and Higuain scored the hat-trick to close the books on this game.

Higuain got it done against South Korea

You see the score and when a team scores four goals you think that the opposing goalkeeper had a bad game.  Not in this case.  The first Argentina goal came when a cross went off Park Chu Young’s leg and into his own goal.  Jung Sung Ryong (Suwon Bluewings) had no chance to keep the ball out of the net.  Jung made some fantastic saves and kept this game from being 6-1 or 7-1.

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) showed why he’s the best in the game right now.  He can do whatever he wants when he gets the ball.  It must be frustrating for defenders to know that whatever they do, this guy is still gonna get over on you.  He does so much work in such small space and needs minimal separation to get off a shot.

The thing that frustrated me as the game went on is that Cha Du Ri (SC Freiburg) didn’t start the game or even make an appearance.  I wrote after South Korea’s first game that Cha Du Ri was a monster and that he was all over the field causing trouble, not to mention how he was frustrating Greece with his defense.  So coach Huh Jung Moo decides that Oh Beom Seok (Ulsan Hyundai) is gonna do a better job stopping Carlos Tevez (Manchester City, for now) and Messi.  Wrong!  Most of the first half pressure came form the left side of the field (South Korea’s right) and Oh couldn’t handle it.  Why did Huh feel the need to make this change?

Park Ji Sung (Manchester United) was very disappointing.  He wasn’t involved much in the game and when he was, he wasn’t very effective.  I wouldn’t have minded if Hu had switched Park Ji Sung in the second half.

Greece – Nigeria (2-1)

Goals – Uche (NGA) 16’, Salpingidis (GRE) 44’, Torosidis (GRE) 71’

Red Card – Kaita (NGA) 33’

Before I get into this game, is Danny Shittu (Bolton) the fattest player in this World Cup?  Yes, he looks solidly built but fat is still fat.  Nigeria should’ve won this game because they are the better team.  In the early going it looked like Nigeria wasn’t going to have too much trouble with Greece.  Then, Sani Kaita (Alania Vladikavkaz) decided to show Vasileios Torosidis’ (Olympiakos) leg the bottom of his shoe.  The Referee had to show him the red and Kaiti was in disbelief.

Nice move Kaita

Greece then turned it up and Nigeria couldn’t keep up.  Greece ended the game with more than double the amount of Nigeria’s shots and shots on goal.  Greece could’ve had a third but two was enough.

I have to praise Greece’s coach Otto Rehhagel with his roster moves in this game.  Some coaches get it.  In game one I questioned why Sotirios Kyrgiakos (Liverpool) didn’t start, let alone play.  This game, Kyrgiakos starts.  Also in game one, I mentioned on how Georgios Samaras (Celtic) was a complete waste.  Samaras doesn’t start this game but Rehhagel brought him in as soon as Kaita was shown the red to bring in more attacking power.  Not starting Samaras was a good idea and so was bringing him in to strengthen the attack against a short-handed Nigeria.  Samaras did play better this game.  Maybe the benching got him to think about his play.  Who knows?

France – Mexico (0-2)

Goals – Hernandez (MEX) 64’, Blanco (MEX) 79’ penalty

Has a coach even been fired before during the World Cup?  I mean, have they been fired while their team was still in it?  If not, Raymond Domenech should be the first one.  If it’s already been done then he should join the list.  How does Youann Gourcuff (Bordeaux) not start this game, let alone play?  Next to Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Gourcuff has got to be one of the top, most important players on this team.  Florent Malouda (Chelsea) is very good but not good enough to play in the first game, a game France looked pretty good in.  Domenech decides France doesn’t need Gourcuff and so he wastes away on the bench while France sees it’s World Cup aspirations go down the drain.

As for the game, blah blah blah, France couldn’t finish but Mexico could.  Subs Javier Hernandez (Chivas) and Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Veracruz) score the goals for Mexico and their ticket is close to being punched for the second round.  Mexico – Uruguay should be very good.

Blanco's still got it

Standings

Team (points)

Group A:

Uruguay (4), Mexico (4),  France (1), South Africa (1)

Group B:

Argentina (6), South Korea (3), Greece (3), Nigeria (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)

Group H

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

Day two was better than day one but the last game of the night, England – USA, had me regretting my decision to get up at 3:30 am to watch it.  Those horns are still annoying and I’m not sure how I’m gonna get through the tournament with that sound.  I could still hear them after the games were over.  Now the sound is in my head.  Damn you Vuvuzela!

I was supposed to watch the South Korea game on the big screen at the stadium here in Yeoncheon but it rained all day and I am too much of a pussy to sit out in the rain to watch a game.  Many brave souls who really love their team did end up making the trip to the stadium.  I was watching them out my window.  Rain or no rain, they had a good time and I would turn down my television whenever something big happened and I could hear them cheering.  Hopefully it doesn’t rain on Thursday because they’ll be showing the game at the stadium again.  That should be one hell of a game, Argentina- South Korea.

On to the games:

South Korea – Greece (2-0)

Goals – Lee Jung Soo (KOR) 7′, Park Ji Sung (KOR) 52′

Greece, the former European champions, must have forgotten when the game started because they didn’t really start playing until the 68th minute and by that time it was too late.  They were outplayed and outclassed by Korea throughout the game.  Korea just seemed to be faster, quicker and have more energy than Greece.  Greece’s body language looked as if they were defeated half way through the game while Korea had the intensity and will to win this game.

Georgios Samaras (Celtic) was barely a factor in the game.  There were long stretches where I had forgotten he was in the game.  Actually, Otto Rehhagel’s Greece lineup was a bit puzzling.  Why didn’t defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos start the game or even enter the game as a substitute?  With Korea controlling the midfield and Greece down 1-0, Rehhagel subs in a defender, not Kyrgiakos, for another defender.  What he needed to do was add a true midfielder and get rid of one of the forwards who were playing midfield.  Samaras should’ve been sacrificed at 46′ instead of at 59′.  Finally at 68′ they decided they could play this game but Korea was still able to keep them from finishing.  They didn’t put enough pressure on the Korean midfielders until late in the game.  The South Korean players used this space to create havoc all over the field.

Samaras, this isn't St. Mirren, try a little more effort next time

Korea was running from the first minute until the game was over.  Park Chu Young (Monaco) didn’t score but he created lots of problems for the Greek defense.  Defender Cha Du Ri (SC Freiburg) was a monster all over the field and drove the Greeks crazy in the defense, midfield and up front.  Korea’s European based midfielders, Park Ji Sung (Manchester United), Lee Chung Yong (Bolton) and Ki Sung Yueng (Celtic) owned this game.  They couldn’t be stopped and should create problems for Argentina in the next game.  Korea might be better than I expected.

Argentina – Nigeria (1-0)

Goal – Heinze (ARG) 6′

Probably the best game of the World Cup so far.  I know it’s early but this game was played at a high pace and both teams could’ve had three goals a piece if not for some good goalkeeping.  Actually, Lionel Messi (Barcelona) could’ve had five goals himself.  He didn’t need much space to get off a shot and it looked like the Nigerian defense were doing too much watching and not enough defending.  If South Korea has any chance of winning against Argentina they have to get physical with Messi and not give him any room.  I don’t mean knock him down but make sure they are right in his face when he gets the ball or he’ll use the space to make them pay.

High marks for all players on both teams.  The game was back and forth until the final whistle.  Only change I would’ve made for Nigeria was having Obafemi Martins (Wolfsburg) start the game instead of Victor Obinna (Malaga).  Nigeria went for a 4-3-3 formation which I thought was odd but it worked and they should be able to better against Greece in the next game.

Neither of these sides need to do much different in their next games.  Did you notice Diego Maradona’s suit on the sidelines for Argentina.  The suit looked terrible and he looked like a used car salesman/drug lord.

The Rock says, "nice suit, 25 cents!".

England – USA (1-1)

Goals – Gerrard (ENG) 4′, Dempsey (USA) 40′

Where to begin.  Yes American “fans”, the USA tied England for the first time ever but don’t get too excited because your defense is awful and if it wasn’t for your keeper, Tim Howard (Everton), this game would’ve ended 3-1 or 4-1.  Howard was the man of the match and rightfully so.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) didn’t have a great game.  I actually didn’t hear his name for long stretches.  I though Emile Heskey (Aston Villa) outplayed Rooney.  This lineup was good but I would’ve found room for Joe Cole (Chelsea) and/or Michael Carrick (Manchester United).  James Milner (Aston Villa) probably shouldn’t have started because he had a slight injury and it must have flared up because he was replaced by Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City) at 31′.  Joe Cole would have been a better replacement.  Fabio Capello has a tough job because he has so many talented players to choose from.  It’s not always a good thing.

Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) showed how bad the USA defense was with his early goal and it looked as if there would be more to come.  That didn’t happen because they looked frustrated by not be able to score more.  The USA equalised at 40′ when a Clint Dempsey (Fulham) shot bounced into the goal off of Robert Green’s gloves.  Green (West Ham) looked terrible on the play.  Maybe he should stop wearing those hamburger helper gloves.  His body was turned in such a way that the ball had only one way to go if he didn’t stop it.  Terrible!!!  I said in my preview that England would only go as far as their goalkeeping would take them.  If this continues, it won’t be far.  I can only imagine how much Capello yelled after the game.

This isn't the best choice of goalkeeper gloves.

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:

USA (1), England (1), Slovenia and Algeria have not played

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.

Yesterday, one of The Blasian’s (remember him?) favorite teams, Inter Milan took on Chelsea at Giuseppe Meazza in the Champions League Round of 16 clash.  Inter won 2-1 and look good, not great, going into the return match in three weeks time.  Before I go into the actual game let me tell you about these two teams.

Last week my favorite team, AC Milan took on a team I really, really like, Manchester United.  Inter and Chelsea are the opposite of that.  They both make my Top 5 most hated soccer/football/futbol/calcio teams.  Both teams are probably tied for third on that list.  Let’s take a quick look at what that list look likes:

Top 5 Most Hated Soccer Teams
1.  Juventus (Italy)
2.  Manchester City (England)
T3. Inter Milan (Italy)
T3. Chelsea (England)
5.  Roma (Italy)

Even though Inter and Chelsea are on this list I have to admit that I do like some of the players on these teams whereas I hate everything about Juventus and Man City.  Juventus and Man City have no redeeming qualities and there is not one player, coach or member of management I like on either of those teams.

Sure Inter has won a few scudettos lately they but they haven’t won the Champion’s League/European Cup in my lifetime and this makes me very happy.  The Blaisian (who dat?) can say whatever he wants about Inter but you can have all the league championships you want but you’re nothing until you win in Europe.  Plus, don’t think winning one puts you in the same sentence as AC Milan.  Same goes for you Chelsea.  Try to win in Europe before you think you’re on par with Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

I’m sad that AC Milan or Manchester United will be out after the Round of 16 but at the same time seeing Inter or Chelsea out makes it a little better.  The one thing that scares me is that Inter or Chelsea will go through to the final and beat AC Milan or Manchester United. That would be my ultimate nightmare.  Although, if it were reversed and AC Milan or Manchester United beat one of those two teams it would make winning the title even sweeter.  AC Milan has one quite a few Champions League/European Cup titles but the one I savor and remember the most is when we beat Juventus in the 2003 final in Manchester.  It was like winning two titles at once.  The Blasian (where are you?) would be unbearable if Inter won the Champions League.

The game:

To be honest, this game wasn’t that exciting.  I thought Chelsea worked hard and deserved better.  I wonder what the referee was thinking on the play where Kalou got taken down right in front of the goal?  Eto’o was disappointing.  Ivanovic (Chelsea) and Sneijder (Inter) had great games for their respective teams.  Maybe the game played too much like a chess match because both coaches knew the other team as well as anyone.  Chelsea better hope that Cech is able to play in the return because Hilario looks terrible.  The guy looked frightened when he came in to the game and can’t execute a goal kick to save his life.

Inter will go into Stamford Bridge with a slight advantage.  That away goal by Chelsea is big.  Chelsea can go through with a 1-0 win but if Inter scores then Chelsea will need to win by two.  Even though I hate both teams, I would love to see Inter crash out first.  Not just because The Blasian (I think he still writes for this blog) likes them but because they are and always will be second class citizens in Milan.

I don’t know if I should say this but I don’t like Mario Balotelli.  Please Blasian (come back soon), don’t rip me because he’s your guy.  It has nothing to do about his skin color.  I have no idea why the Italian fans have a problem with his ethnicity because on the field he’s all Italian.  What does that mean?  He’s such a whiner and goes down in a heap with minimal contact.  How has he not played for Italy yet?  He’d fit right in.

Italy, don't boo Super Mario because he's black, boo him because he dives and whines

Now that all of the games in the first leg are complete, lets take a quick look at the other games and what might happen in the return.

AC Milan – Manchester United (2-3), Manchester go home looking real good.  Three away goals are huge and I have trouble believing that Milan can score two, let alone win by two.  Then again, if Ferguson decides to play Neville on the right then Milan could probably do whatever they want (see Everton).

Bayern Munich – Fiorentina (2-1), Bayern got the benefit of a non-call from the referee and the linesman.  Klose was offsides not once, but twice on the play.  Sure, Fiorentina got an away goal but I think Bayern will find a way to get this done.  Don’t forget that Bayern went to Torino and beat Juventus 4-1 to knock them out of the tournament.

Lyon – Real Madrid (1-0), Lyon shocked Madrid but an ever healthier Ronaldo should make the difference at the Bernabeu.  I can’t muster up any excitement for Lyon because Jean-Alain Boumsong is one of their defenders.  Rangers, Newcastle and Juventus fans know what I’m talking about.

CSKA Moscow – Sevilla (1-1), a good showing by Sevilla in frigid Moscow puts them in the driver’s seat going back to Sanchez Pizjuan.

Stuttgart – Barcelona (1-1), the defending champs were frustrated by the German side and the return should be interesting.  Don’t put Barcelona in the next round quite yet but playing at the Camp Nou should help.

Porto – Arsenal (2-1), Arsenal looked terrible in this one.  Who knew that Almunia, as bad as he can be, is the best Arsenal can do in goal?  That being said, Arsenal rights the ship and advances at the Emirates.

Olympiakos – Bordeaux (0-1), the French leaders look good going back home.  Bordeaux have lost only once at home this season in Ligue 1