Posts Tagged ‘Muntari’

On December 23rd, after a little over six months at the helm, Rafa Benitez agreed to part ways with Inter Milan.  I’m not a fan of Inter but they did the right thing by getting rid of Benitez.  Inter is currently in seventh place in the standing, thirteen points behind leaders Milan, unacceptable.  That’s not reason enough to get rid of him.  He deserved to go because upon winning the FIFA Club World Cup he decided to give the owner an ultimatum.  He told Massimo Moratti that either the club back him with new signings or they should consider whether or not they wanted to keep him in charge.  Inter chose the latter and they decided that his services were no longer needed.

That didn't last long

Where does Benitez get off making these demands?  Did he not realize that this team has won the last four scudetti (the fifth one was handed to them)?  Did Benitez also forget that Inter just came off a season where they also won the Champions League and Coppa Italia?  Does this sound like a team that needs new signings?  Jose Mourinho was able to get this team to them top so why couldn’t Benitez make it work?  Hell, if Roberto Mancini can win a Scudetto, anyone can.  This team has five titles in the span of one year (Serie A, Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italiana, Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup) but the players weren’t good enough for Rafa Benitez.

Proof anyone can win a Scudetto

Inter has 34 player on the roster.  How do you not win with the likes of Julio Cesar, Javier Zanetti, Lucio, Maicon, Cristian Chivu, Dejan Stankovic, Wesley Sneijder, Sulley Muntari, Esteban Cambiasso, Samuel Eto’o, Diego Milito and Goran Pandev?  Throw in youngsters Jonathan Biabiany (France), Philippe Coutinho (Brazil), and Davide Santon (Italy) and thats a pretty good team.  That’s only fifteen of the thirty-four players on this team.  Too bad Benitez had no use for Mario Balotelli (Manchester City) and Victor Obinna (West Ham), they could have really helped out this team.

Balotelli would've looked good in an Inter uniform....oh, wait

Who did he think he was going to sign?  I know the names of Dirk Kuyt, Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard were being thrown around in the summer but why should Inter have to pay that much money to improve a team that has won so much in recent years?  Why couldn’t Rafa Benitez make do with what he had?

Sure, Rafa Benitez won a Champions League with Liverpool in 2005, an FA Cup in 2006, and two La Liga titles but what has he done lately?  That sounds harsh but in today’s game you have to win now.  Unless you’re Sir Alex  Ferguson, Arsene Wenger or Jose Mourinho, what you’ve done in the past doesn’t mean a thing now.  Benitez left Liverpool in ruins and wanted to change Inter in his own image.  Rafa Benitez might have been able to talk Gillett and Hicks into buying every player he wanted but Massimo Moratti doesn’t work that way.  You don’t tell Massimo Moratti what to do.  He does what he wants to do.  Benitez didn’t understand that and it cost him his job.

Massimo Moratti

Do you know who I am?

Where does Rafa Benitez go from here?  His name has enough cache that he’ll be in the running for some major jobs but teams will also be leery of giving him too much authority after seeing what he did with Liverpool and his actions at Inter.  There’s talk of Liverpool being interested in Benitez but that probably just talk.  No way the new owners of Liverpool hand the reins back to the guy who ruined it in the first place.  Roy Hodgson won’t make it through the season as the Liverpool coach but I seriously doubt we’ll ever see Benitez there again.  He’d be better off going back to La Liga and trying to find a team to wrestle the league away from Barcelona and Real Madrid.

I thank Inter for giving him a shot because AC Milan was able to take advantage of his poor showing and find its way atop Serie A.  Thanks for the memories Rafa, we hardly knew ya.

This was a long time ago Rafa

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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)

Sorry I am a day late with this post.  Sunday was very busy for me and I didn’t get a chance to write down my thoughts on the day’s action.  I’ll try not to let it happen again.

Day nine came and went and we finally have a team advancing (Netherlands) and a team going home (Cameroon).  I can’t believe it took until Group E for someone to be sent packing.  Also, one of my picks to be top scorer in the tournament (Huntelaar) finally made an appearance.

On to the games:

Netherlands – Japan (1-0)

Goal – Sneijder (NED) 53’

Netherlands controlled this game from start to finish.  Some stout defending somehow kept Japan in this game until the final whistle.  This game really should’ve been 2-0 or 3-0.  The only goal came on a rocket of a shot by Wesley Sneijder (Inter).  I’m not joking when I say rocket.  I’m surprised Japan goalkeeper, Eiji Kawashima (Kawasaki Frontale), didn’t break his hands.

What a shot!!!

Klaas Jan Huntelaar (AC Milan) finally made an appearance for the Netherlands, albeit for five minutes.  I picked Huntelaar to be among the top scorers in the tournament.  Not so much!  He’s not moving Robin Van Persie (Arsenal) out of the lineup and the emerging Eljero Elia (Hamburg SV) makes it unlikely that Huntelaar can make an impact in this World Cup.  Maybe since the Netherlands are assured a place in round 2, coach Bert Van Marwijk might sit Van Persie against Cameroon to keep him from getting a second yellow card in the tournament.

Ghana – Australia (1-1)

Goals – Holman (AUS) 11’, Gyan (GHA) 25’ penalty

Red Card – Kewell (AUS) 24’

I’d like to thank Australia for showing up for this game.  I didn’t know how they’d respond after the drubbing they took from Germany.  Australia played well from minute one, scored early and were able to just enough to hold off Ghana while being a man down for over sixty minutes.  Australia are still alive, just barely, but that’s more than I  thought after the Germany game.

Harry Kewell (Galatasaray) was furious that referee Roberto Rosetti gave him a red card.  How dare he?  Seriously Harry, how do you expect the referee not to give you a red card when you’re standing on the goal line and the only thing keeping Ghana from tying the game is your arm.  Rosetti had no choice.  I read Kewell was still angry after the match.  Next time don’t block a shot destined for goal with your arm.

If I had to choose the best player in the tournament right now it would be Asamoah Gyan (Rennes).  He’s scored two goals and has been a monster up front.  He’s done a lot of work.

Player of the tournament, so far

Why can’t Sulley Muntari (Inter) get more minutes?

Cameroon – Denmark (1-2)

Goals – Eto’o (CMR) 10’, Bendtner (DEN) 33’, Rommedahl (DEN) 61’

Cameroon played extremely well and probably deserved at least a point but Denmark spoiled the party.  With this result, Cameroon are eliminated and the Netherlands are in round two.

Cameroon coach Paul Le Guen finally came to his senses and put forward Samuel Eto’o (Inter) in the center of the field where he belongs and not on the right wing.  Eto’o scores early and we’re left to wonder why he was playing out-of-place against Japan?

Jon Dahl Tomasson (Feyenoord) started up front alongside Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal) to give Denmark a little added punch and it paid off.  I was actually surprised that Bendtner started this game, thinking he had aggravated his leg injury in the last game.  He limped off after being substituted against the Netherlands.  Daniel Agger (Liverpool) played well and was named Man of the Match.  I hardly noticed him in the last game against the Dutch.  Simon Kjaer (Palermo) will miss the final game of the group, a crucial match against Japan.  The Danish defender picked up his second yellow of the tournament at 87’.  Stupid!

Thanks for showing up this time

Cameroon controlled possession, had more shots on goal but actual goals are what matter.  Cameroon is the most talented African team in the World Cup but they just couldn’t get it done.  They’ll go home later in the week and Le Guen will probably be fired, rightfully so.

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:

Ghana (4), Germany (3), Serbia (3), Australia (1)

Group E:

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

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)