Posts Tagged ‘ World Football Phone In ’

Old Futbol Buffet–A Loss, A Draw and A Win

These posts usually focus on the EPL with a smattering of Juventus information and analysis, but this weekend was all about El Clasico.  Saturday was spent nervously anticipating the big game (thank God I did not get up for Arsenal v Chelsea), in part because of the need for a win and in part due to the slightly unnerving loss to Chelsea in midweek.  I showed up to the bar early to watch Spurs lose AGAIN, as they could fall from third to sixth in a matter of weeks.  Don’t even know where to start with them.  But back to the confrontation between the two Spanish Super Powers.  Thousands of words were written before and after, and I won’t try to add to the deluge (too much). I also won’t try to break down tactics or drill down on the stats or put this game into the context of almost 100 years of conflict.  I’ll just concede the title and move on.

Barca’s team selection was surprising, especially Tello and Thiago, but exciting because the Blaugrana were going for it, aiming for the only result that would help them—a win that would cause a nervous breakdown in the capital.  However, Tello struggled.  He provided width, but lacked the final ball and his finishing was poor, to be kind.  Thiago came into the match, and in the second half I thought he had more impact as he dribbled the ball out of deep midfield.

Real Madrid’s first goal was a cluster, as Valdes could only kill the ball in front of goal and Puyol just didn’t hoof it out.  I helped organize an El Clasico Watch Party, and the crowd was pretty pro Barca so there was a lot of face palming at that moment.  A sense of doom and resignation was setting in until the equalizer, during which the place went nuts, but the celebrations were cut short after CR7’s goal.  The winner, stunning in swiftness and execution, was a confluence of factors: Ozil out wide, CR7 cutting in the middle, Puyol, Masch not coordinating their efforts, and Valdes out of sorts.

Barcelona’s goal was scrappy, but it was the result of driving at Madrid instead of passing side to side or negatively, which made the game feel like an offense versus defense drill.  Against Chelesa, the Blaugrana had tons of possession and were dangerous, just didn’t finish, while in the game against Real, they had possession but were blunt, not sharp, and relatively easy to manage for Los Merengues.

In my preview of the season, I opined that the extra games would catch up with Barcelona, and I feel that my thoughts are being validated.  They have reached the final of the Copa del Rey, the semis of the Champions League and participated in the Club World Cup this season, so as the Blaugrana hit crunch time, they are missing that extra gear, which allows them to put the necessary distance between them and their opponents.  Is this the end of Pep’s team?  We won’t know until it’s over and the heights are hit less and less frequently.  But look at next year.  Sanchez has been a decent signing and will continue to make an impact.  Cesc should be back to full fitness, both mentally and physically, which should give the manager more options.  Hopefully Pedro will back on song and Villa will be back from injury.  Plus the cantera players will learn and improve and add dynamism to the team.  Tello will learn from this match; Cuenca will continue to improve; and Thiago will grow as the heir to the midfield three.  Continuing on to next year, both teams dropped points this season and will drop points next year, but the rivals keep putting pressure on each other to be great and both will be at each other’s throats for silverware next year.  And that’s all we can ask.

Zonal Marking wrote an excellent summary of the game, noting that Barcelona did not have enough directness in the game (until Sanchez and Pedro entered) and were not clinical enough in front of goal.  Real’s set up was typical, 4-2-3-1, and they executed a brilliant game plan, which included a mixture of pressing and sitting back and swift counterattacks.

John Pelini at El Centrocampista had similar thoughts, noting that Messi did not have enough support in attack as teams are crowding Messi in an attempt to blunt the Barca attack.  Mourinho picked the same 11 as he played against Bayern and was rewarded with an effort that produced key goals, finely tuned counterattacks and organized defense.

On to Sunday . . .

United v Everton at Old Trafford was early Sunday morning, and I figured that it would be a drab 1-0 home win.  So I got up, started cleaning the house, checked the score: 1-1 at halftime.  Not great but . . . Next time I checked, United was up 3-1.  Great.  Title 20.  Check.  But then I refreshed and to my horror, I saw the score was 4-3 to United and while I was scrolling through the commentary, Everton equalized just before the death.  With City beating Wolves 2-0, the gap is down to three, setting up an epic confrontation next Monday.  I’m taking the afternoon off to focus on the game that will determine which half of Manchesterthe trophy will reside.  Can’t wait.

Andy at the Stretford-End.com enjoyed the exciting match, including an impressive performance from Fellaini.  He wondered if Ferguson might have gotten the substitutions wrong towards the end as United looked to add a fifth instead of protecting the three points.

Later that day, Juventus hosted Roma in a key match for both sides: Juve in their quest for the scudetto and Roma in their fight for a European spot, with an outside chance at third, the last Champions League spot.  My son had something that afternoon so I followed the game on twitter.  The Juventini were all over it, letting me know that Vidal had put the Old Lady up 1-0.  Shortly after Vidal scored a second, then Stekelenburg took down Marchisio, got sent off, and Pirlo converted the penalty kick. Milan’s draw and Juve’s 4-0 win puts the Old Lady up by three points.  With just five matches to go, the black and whites are close to a 28th title after years of suffering.  I think to fail now, Juventini might be more heartbroken than the relegation to Serie B.  Forza Juve.

Aaron recapped a devastating performance by the Bianconeri at Juventiknows.com.  High marks were given to the five man Juve midfield that ran the show and overwhelmed their opponents, while the defense has solidified into the best unit in Italy, only giving up one goal in the last six games and 18 for the season.

Finally, Grant Wahl did a feature piece on Brad Friedel, who has started every match for his clubs (Blackburn, Aston Villa and Spurs) since the beginning of the 2004/05 season.  An amazing reward for dedication, fitness and desire.

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Podcasts

The World Football Phone In on 4/14 was fantastic.  The panel explored why they loved this game; the Brazilian striker Fred and his prospects of playing at the World Cup; the rise and fall of the Uruguayan National Team, from the dominance of the 20’s and 30’s to their footballing wilderness to a fantastic performance at World Cup 2010; and the success both on and off the field of the Seattle Sounders.

Janusz Michallik was on Beyond the Pitch to look at the issues of the day.  His comments on the eventual use of video replay were interesting, in that the broadcasters will demand it in order to justify huge contracts for a game that is decided fairly.  Straightforward and opinionated, Janusz gives an interesting perspective on players, teams, leagues and topics.

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Old Futbol Buffet–One Eye on Work and the other on Footy

The weekend was busy for me and in the world of footy, and I didn’t get to everything on Monday’s post.

In England, Jonathan Wilson urges patience as Chelsea continue their transition from Mourinho’s Old Guard to whatever the future will look like with AVB at the helm. Looks like their early season wobble is behind them, although the late Wigan draw will not have helped. My guess is that the Blues will pass Spurs and the real test will be the Champions League, where they have been drawn against Napoli. If the Blues press in their current fashion, they will be beaten, so hopefully AVB gets his message across before February.

Meanwhile, in Serie A, the guys at Juventiknows gave their thoughts on The Old Lady’s win over Novara, which included several players who have not seen the field much this season. Hopefully Quags can get back to his goal scoring best and De Ceglie can provide cover and quality at left back.

As for the entire league, Paolo Bandini recapped the weekend in Serie A, focusing on matches involving the teams from the capital. Lazio continue to challenge and they earned a draw against fellow contender Udinese while Roma have had good results heading into the break (draw against Juve and a win against Napoli).

After Tuesday and Wednesday’s matches, Paolo reflected on a Serie A campaign that heads into the winter break with a struggle at the top involving teams, each with an issue.  AC Milan, the defending champs, back on top after a slow start.  Juventus, traditional power, unbeaten, and hard to break down but maybe lacking that cutting edge that will deliver the shield.  Udinese has lost key players but keeps hanging in there, producing an extraordinary home form.  Lazio is back in the hunt but can they go one step further than last year? And there is Inter, left for dead again but quietly rising up the table and now sit in fifth, ready to pounce if they top teams slip up.  Can’t wait for the second half of the season.

I don’t follow German soccer as much as I would like, but I enjoy reading Uli Hesse, and he wrote a column about events in the Bundesliga as the league heads into a proper winter break, with teams not returning to the field until January 21. One of the items he mentioned was Raul’s hat trick against Werder, which I had heard about on one of Sid Lowe’s appearances. Some have even mentioned that he may be back in the frame for the Spanish National Team. Poppycock. Another thing Uli touched on was the excitement of the league, especially at the top of the table.

Alexandra (@AlexandraJonson) from Total Barca was able to talk to Graham Hunter in the wake of El Clasico to get his thoughts on that game and the future of the Blaugrana. Graham was very high on Barca’s performance against Real, saying that it was better than the 5-0 thrashing last November because of the circumstances: poor away form and the early goal. But where he really got going was about the prospects coming through La Masia, especially a Cameroonian named Dongou. I had just read about Sergi Samper, so to hear about another player of great quality is exciting.

Tim Vickery asked Brazilian football to examine Barcelona’s philosophy in the aftermath of Barca’s 4-0 win against Santos. Neymar was a non-factor as Barca passed and passed and passed the South American champions into brutal submission. He wraps his thoughts with the following statement:

The value of defeat is always in the lessons that it can teach. Perhaps the big lesson that Barcelona have taught in Yokohama is this: if Brazilian football wants to keep on winning not only titles but also hearts then it would be well advised to get back in touch with elements of its own tradition. There is an argument against the view that possession football is outdated and that the central midfielders should be unimaginative giants. Its case was made loud and clear in Japan this Sunday.

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Matches

Udinese 0 Juventus 0

In preparation for the match, Adam Digby posted a piece about previous Juventus trips to Udine, which reminds supporters how far this current team needs to go to hit the heights again. Maybe this new look squad will match the class of 2001, but I think most fans would be content with improvement over the last two years of inconsistent play and embarrassing results.

Going into this match I had a lot of anticipation. A true top of the table clash, Udinese had not lost at home and Juventus had not lost all season. After the Juve game against Napoli, I was expecting fireworks, but that didn’t come off. Despite my excitement and desire to be fully engnaged in the match, I really had to get some work done before the holiday break. I watched as much as I could so you’ll have to take my thoughts for what they are worth.

There was some confusion about the formation, but it looked like Pepe was playing somewhere between a forward and midfielder depending on how quickly Juve were able to transition. Vidal was great, working hard and getting stuck in, and Pirlo blew very hot and cold, with some incisive passing and frustrating turnovers. Towards the end of the first half I tweeted: if marchisio finds his finishing boots or matri finds his dribbling boots, this match is over. The defense seemed to get caught on the counter and each player in the back was responsible for poor decisions in either execution or thought.

Halftime came with no score, and the fluidity of the first half was gone in the second period. Matri and Pepe committed too many turnovers and Estigarribia almost an auxiliary left back. Udinese’s attack was blunt to be kind. Di Natale was pretty selfish and, since he was not firing on all cylinders, he could have involved the team more. But then I looked at those around him, dribbling into blind alleys and missing simple passes. Guess I would have tried to do it myself too.

Conte subbed Matri and Pepe for Quags and ADP respectively, which helped a little bit but Quags not able to really test the goalkeeper. Juventus looked the more likely to score but the final whistle blew with no goals. A disappointing match to watch but as someone mentioned on twitter, Juve have played most of the Scudetto contenders away, so if they take care of business at home, the Old Lady has a real shot at a Champions League place.

At the end of the match, I summarized on twitter thusly: Juve=poor, esp in 2nd hf. Pirlo very inconsistent, Esti worthless, Matri not on form & team not fluid/crisp. But unbeaten & top of table.

Fulham 0 Manchester United 5

Again I wanted to watch this match but figured it would be a dire 1-0 affair. Boy was I wrong.

United went right at the Cottagers, with Nani setting up Welbeck after five minutes. The Red Devils continued the pressure and Nani got the second off a short corner. Fulham were toothless going forward and were punished on a United counter as Nani found Giggs just inisde the box and his deflected shot looped over the keeper for United’s third. Halftime came and there was only one side in it. Much better start from Fulham as United had eased off and the hosts looked to take the saran wrap off the goal. They failed to capitalize and United eventually came back into the game with about half an hour remaining. The game petered out with a series of half chances from each side, when Rooney added a sizzling strike and Berba chipped in with a sublime finish with just minutes to go. An easy victory and United get the Holiday Program off to a great start. The only downer was injuries to Young and Jones. Looks like Young might be out for a little bit while Jones took a nasty elbow from Dempsey and the coaching staff is waiting for results to see the extent of the injury.

Tottenham Hotspur 1  Chelsea 1

An electric start to the match with Spurs creating several half chances.  The home side played a weird formation, with a straight forward backline but a midfield of Bale on the left with Modric, Parker and VdV (basically no out and out right midfielder) in front of Sandro, who looked excellent, with Adebayor up top.  Sandro made a perfect tackle in the middle of the field on Sturridge and released Bale, who put in a dangerous ball across the six yard box which Adebayor was able to redirect into the goal. Chelsea responded and minutes later Drogba flicked in a ball that bounced off Ashley Cole’s arm before he crossed for Sturridge to tap in. The rest of the half was chippy, plus stop and start due to injuries to Ivanovic and Mikel, which allowed me to see Romeu play.

The second half started with Chelsea in control as it took Spurs almost 15 minutes to snap out of it. At the interval, Harry subbed Pav for VdV, which did . . . nothing. For the Blues, AVB brought on Torres for Drogba. Why? Drogs had been dangerous in link up play and at the end of crosses. Not sure what the Portuguese manager was thinking.  The last quarter of an hour was exciting with teams creating and missing chances and Cech in particular coming up big saves.

An exciting match, lacking that last bit of quality, with the London teams shared the points while the Manc teams flashed a wry smile.

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Podcasts

The World Football Phone In did an epic four hour show, complete with all three experts and a live studio audience.  Have to say it was pretty cool.  Here are some of the topics they covered:

  • Borges of Santos
  • Possible European Super League.  Brassell thinks that the Europa League may eventually come good and dismissed the super league because of domestic rivalries and teams may tire of finishing mid-table year after year.
  • Sean Wheelock commented on Beckham’s legacy in the MLS.
  • When asked about a fantasy Christmas gift, Tim Vickery mentioned a 1950 Brazil home jersey because that was the last they played in white.  Wait? What?
  • The panel and guests discussed racism in the world of football.
  • Finally there some funny anecdotes on coaching rants including Keegan, Kinnear, and several others that were not fit to air.

The guys at the Manchester United Redcast were in better spirits heading into the break after a couple of nice victories.  The squad seem to be finding their groove again.

Old Futbol Buffet–Not Enough Time

Note: Due to other commitments and Juventus playing on Monday, this post is a day later than usual.  Plus I still haven’t seen the Juventus game.  I’m hoping to watch it later today and will add comments.

INXS so wonderfully stated my thoughts on the Not Enough Time single from the 1992 album Welcome to Wherever You Are, although they were referring to something a little more, how shall we say, intimate.

Once again, you’re welcome.  With my busy weekend and United’s dire form lately, I skipped the Wolves game, figuring I had too much going on to watch another turgid 1-0 victory over a substandard opponent.  What happened?  United thrashed Wolves 4-1 and, for one match at least, snapped out of their funk.  All because I wasn’t watching.  I do have that power.

Obviously Fergie is having my phone tapped, because I told my fellow United supporter what I would do if I was in charge–stop inverting the wingers.  After watching the highlights, you can see what a menace Nani and Valencia are in their natural positions, plus it opens up space for Rooney and the center mids.  The inversion causes there to be a party at the D, where defenses can just wait for all the United players to get there, snuff out the attack and go the other way.  Fergie, I’ll be expecting some fine Red Devil merch on my front porch soon.  Here are some thoughts from the Republik of Mancunia.

As I’m sure everyone is aware, United were dumped out of the Champions League, with a surprising 2-1 defeat at Basel.  They now fall into the Europa League, which I can’t see Fergie taking seriously.  We’ll know a lot more about the season by mid-January, after the gauntlet of the Holiday Program (although the fixtures aren’t that tough: Fulham, Wigan and Blackburn) and the FA Cup Third Round match against City.  If the Blue Half prevails again, then the league will be the only focus.

Everything is pointing against Manchester United: five points down in the league–Scratch that. Thanks to Chelsea it’s down to two and if Spurs win their game in hand (not now, thanks to Stoke), they will be one point ahead of the Reds; participation in the Europa League (ie Thur/Sun fixtures); mounting injuries (Vidic out for the season, Anderson in some sort of crocked wilderness and Cleverly touch and go); and tough games away to the big boys in second half of season.  The only thing that I can cling to is history—the second half surge (1996, 2003, 2011).  We’ll see.

Saturday afternoon was El Clasico.  My teaser is one word: stunner.  More to come in my Morbo Minute.

I took Sunday off from footy.  I thought about watching Stoke v Hotspur Tottenham, but once my Spurs friend told me he was out of town and I realized how much I had to do (community event wrap-up, cleaning the house, finishing Community Season 2, and taking a nap), I took a pass.

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Article and Podcasts

Swiss Ramble analyzes Manchester City’s finances, as they move from their “accelerated investment programme” (read buying everyone they can find) to meeting UEFA’s Financial Fair Play standards (read level playing field sort of).  Warning, this is heavy reading.  I had to take several breaks to make it all the way through.

It Ain’t Over til the Old Lady Sings

The Juventiknows.com crew were back in the pod to discuss the recent games against Napoli and Cesena.  Conte seems to be getting everyone onside and a core group of players are coming together.  There is some disagreement about how to use the fringe players as The Old Lady is not in Europe and therefore does not need to rotate.

Their conversation turned to the midfield, in particular Vidal.  When I watch Juventus games, I kept thinking that he was invisible but after listening to the pod, I have to realize that Pirlo and Marchisio are playing so well  that he has been overshadowed.  He works and carries the water so that these two and the team can be successful.  Something I need to keep an eye on in future matches.

Off the Ball

Last week in the wake of Manchester United’s failure to progress in the Champions League, Andy Mitten was on Off the Ball on 12/7 to discuss, and he confirmed what I had been thinking, that United have gone back in time to 2002-2006, with anonymous players (granted these players are not Djemba Djemba and Kleberson, but they are not Bruce or Becks or Cantona or Keano), not quite hitting the high notes and lacking that killer edge.  A local coach in Lansing and I have been trading tweets about United’s recent failure.  He traces it back to not signing Sneijder in the summer.  Maybe.  I just wonder if Fergie will have time to rebuild one more great United team.

Men in Blazers

If you are not listening to Men in Blazers, you have to subscribe.  Michael and Roger put out an entertaining pod and last week’s was no exception.  There were several laugh out loud moments, especially when they tried to compareLondonteams to theBaldwinbrothers.

World Football Phone In 

The panel talked about American players in the Premier League, as Dempsey passed McBride as the leading US scorer in the EPL; Vickery looked ahead to a possible Santos v FCB final in the FIFA Club World Championship; and Wheelock discussed the conundrum of Landon Donovan’s career, with things not quite working out in Europe yet being the dominant player in MLS.

MatchDay Memory–Futbol Time Management

The MLS Cup Final is in a couple of days.  I usually don’t watch unless there is interest from the guys and a lot of beer involved.  I did watch a terrible match a couple of years ago when Real Salt Lake stunned the LA Galaxy, but I don’t plan to watch this year.  Why don’t I support the domestic league of the country I live in?  Well, here is a post from earlier this year that explains my position.

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A couple of weeks ago on the World Football Phone In, as a result of Sean Wheelock’s rant against Beckham’s trip to the Royal Wedding, Dotun started a rant segment at the end of the show. Wheelock stepped forward again and made some interesting comments about US soccer fans. In short, he said that he can’t stand footy fans in this country ignoring the domestic league. He went on to say that unless the fans that are following the EPL, La Liga, Serie A, etc., get invested in the MLS, the league will never hit the heights it is capable of. I was struck by his statements and almost quit the run I was on. It was if he was speaking directly to me.

When I first started following footy in the early 90’s, there was no US league, barely even a US team. Coverage basically consisted of World Soccer and FourFourTwo, week old London Sunday Times, with TV games hard to the find—an odd Champions League game here or there or an English game on PPV.  To put it in context now, Americans can now see more European games than they can handle: Spanish and German games on GolTV, English and Italian on FSC, and a host of leagues on ESPN3. To put a further point on it, in 20 years we have gone from only seeing the FA Cup Final to watching Gary Neville’s testimonial live. Then in 1996, MLS launched and Eric Wynalda scored that first goal and things were up and running. I originally started following DC United in the MLS. The team had Ben Olsen, who I really liked as a player, and they had a simple uniform, which was in stark contrast to the Nike pieces of crap during that time.

Which of these is not like the other?

DC was a little far away, so I followed them as best I could and would go and see them at Soldier Field in Chicago when the Fire started up.  Fortunately I picked a team who was successful out of the gate, reaching the first four MLS Cup Finals, winning three of them. But in the end, I felt the quality of the games was poor, especially compared to other European leagues I was watching. The breaking point was the 1999 MLS final at Foxboro. The pitch looked terrible, with the American football lines still visible; Harkes and Lalas part of the halftime analysis (a vision of things to come); and the game wasn’t that compelling. I was like if you are not going to take this seriously, then neither am I.

The following summer I bought Euro 2000 on PPV, after that, I was hooked on European soccer. I watched a tournament that was exciting, dramatic, and fun to watch. There was no way I could go back to Wiz v Burn.  In the fall of 2000 United were in the midst of three straight league titles, plus their amazing Treble season; Juventus, after reaching three straight Champions League Finals, were rebuilding; Real Madrid had captured two out of the last three Champions League titles and were heading towards a third in five years. Plus qualification for the World Cup in Japan/South Korea was starting.

In the intervening years I have tried to keep track of the American league as a whole through websites, blogs and social media, even with the ridiculous team names, but for me, it comes down to time. I only have so much time during the week to scour the internet for articles and info and only so much time on the weekends to get drunk at the bar or watch legal and illegal feeds online. I have to use that time wisely. Plus I started have family and time is at a premium.  There are only so many hours in a day, so I choose to follow the big three leagues with occasional glances at Holland, Germany, and France.  And I am able to see all of these leagues because US networks sense the need to provide it. If there was not an audience for European leagues, networks would not provide the coverage. Simple supply and demand.

Consumers want the best product, and that product is currently in Europe, specifically at FC Barcelona. I want the kids of America dreaming of being Leo Messi and Xavi, not Landon Donovan and whoever the next USMNT/MLS poster boy is.  And let me say there that presentation of MLS is lacking. Soccer Night in America? Really. Has NBC sued for that yet? (Note: no, they just went ahead and solved the problem by buying the rights.)  I would argue that between all the levels of soccer in this country, every night is Soccer Night in America.  New slogan or new campaign.

So if it’s a choice between FCB/Villarreal and Colorado/Houston, I’m going La Liga. Or United/Spurs against Chicago/New York, I’m going with the Reds. I would rather watch a game of a high technical level or high energy and passion instead of a glorified High School game. In the past ten years I have probably seen a dozen MLS games in their entirety and have left feeling underwhelmed in the main.When the Sounders launched in 2009 with accompanying excitement and fanfare, I didn’t get on the bandwagon. Last fall and winter I sensed the buzz around the Portland Timbers and wanted to jump in but work took over and I missed another chance to get in on the ground floor. I told myself after Wheelock’s comments that I would give the league another go this summer, but there’s Gold Cup and Copa America to watch, plus a vacation and general sitting around to be done. For me, I may be an American but the game I love is in Europe, and what little time I have to devote to it will be spent watching from across the pond instead of my backyard.

Old Futbol Buffet–October Interlull

I’m a terrible USMNT footy fan.  I didn’t watch a single minute of their games over the October break.  Why?  Well I’ve got a life and sometimes that gets in the way.  I didn’t bother with the US v Honduras friendly because I was back at Oktoberfest that night and it was a friendly.  I missed the Honduras friendly because I was helping a friend move and that was a little more important.  But on a side note, I found this website over the weekend that goes through the last 25 years of USMNT kit.  Fascinating, with some real winners and losers in terms of design.  Website can be followed on twitter @project2010usa.

As for Euro 2012 qualifiers, the matches on Friday and Tuesday were on while I was at work.  I was planning to watch the replay of Greece v Croatia, but that went sideways.  However, on the final day of Euro 2012 qualification, I was able to watch most of the Denmark v Portugal live.  A draw was all the Portuguese needed but an early goal from the Danes changed everything, and with Portugal looking quite average going forward (as they always are when I watch), qualification was looking good for the Danish Dynamite.  Portugal started better in the second period but a sucker punch from Nicky Pink Boots knocked them to the floor.  The Portuguese had very little response and only a stunning free kick by CR7 in stoppage time took the gloss of a solid Danish performance.

Looking ahead to next summer, Roberto Gotta wrote an interesting piece on Prandelli’s tactical and lineup changes with the Azzurri.

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Here are some great items I came across during the break . . .

  • World Football Phone In (10.1.11)

There was a lot of Tevez talk in the wake of his Champions League incident.  Andy Brassell (@andybrassell) talked about Bayern Munich’s dominance in the Bundesliga and why other clubs cannot consistently challenge, referring to Bayern’s Olympiastadion, which seats 80,000 (far more than other German clubs), and the fact that Die Roten earned more prize money from the Champions League in the first ten years than any other club.  Finally, there was discussion on Javi Martinez’s status in Spain and in Europe.  Already 23, he has failed to make an impact in La Furia Roja, which in turn has to a lack of momentum from Bilbao to a bigger club.

Old Futbol Buffet–Back from the Interlull

What a week.  Labor Day was actually semi-relaxing but then it was right back into my life, which continues to be busy.  During the week, I missed most of the US game against Belgium due to work.  I kept trying to peek at it, and, when I did, all I saw were Belgians ghosting past US defenders and Altidore turning the ball over.

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WFPI 9.3.11

Tim Vickery (@Tim_Vickery) discussed Coates’ move to Liverpool.  He has been a hot topic the last couple of weeks as callers are interested in what kind of player he is and how to say his name.

Andy Brassell (@andybrassell) talked about the rebuilding of Roma.  Kjaer, Pjanic, Gago, Pablo Osvaldo, Stekelenburg, Krkic and Lamela to name a few summer signings.  Not sure if they can improve on their sixth place finish last year but should be fun to watch.

Finally there was discussion on Everton’s new signing Denis Stracqualursi (aka Straka).  Mostly it was about his name.

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In trading twitter replies with Andy Brassell, I asked about Ricardo Carvalho retiring from international football.  He pointed me towards his article on the topic from footballramble.com.  Not a lot of detail about the conflict, but it’s safe to say that Ricky won’t be pulling on the shirt for a while, if at all.

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This week was all about Juventus.  Tuesday saw the guys at It Ain’t Over podcast finally released their end of season podcast.  I gave it a listen to that and was finally able to put last season’s nightmare behind me.  It’s all about closure.  Moving forward, Adam (@adz77) posted his season preview.  There are lots of new players that honestly I’m not familiar with, and I’m hoping for an entertaining ride to a top 6 spot. Finally, Thursday saw Juventus open their new stadium.  I got back to my hotel to catch the end of the opening ceremonies, which were pretty cool.  @TeamGrease at Juventiknows.com wrote a great piece that set the stage for the festivities.

As for the game, which Adam noted seemed liked an afterthought, Notts County held their own.  They didn’t threaten the Juventus goal too many times (although Storari had to sharp early in the second half) but they kept the Bianconeri at arm’s length pretty easily.  An unfortunate hand ball gave Quagliarella the chance to open the score from the spot, but the keeper saved and Luca Toni finished it off.  A scramble off a set piece just minutes from time netted the visitors an equalizer.

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The panel on the United Redcast (@unitedredcast) surprised themselves about how optimistic they are about the new season.  How can you not be?  MUFC are off to a fantastic start, led by several by young players.  They crushed Bolton, with Rooney continuing his great start and Chicharito starting right where he left off.  Several tests are in front of them in the league (9/18 v Chelsea; 10/15 @ Liverpool; and 10/23 v City), so we’ll see.

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The latest Unprofessional Foulcast looked back at the US/Belgium game and the guys are taking the long view on Klinsmann’s US team.  Orr gave a quick five minute preview of Serie A, which starts up after a one round delay.  Finally, they briefly, and mostly incorrectly, looked ahead to the EPL fixtures.

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The panel at Football Weekly Extra wrapped up Euro 2012 and previewed the EPL games, but Philippe Auclair had some hones criticism of Les Bleus.  The new era under Blanc has faded and where will they go from here?  He also talked about Ligue Un, including Joe Cole’s transfer to Lille.

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Grant Wahl was on Beyond the Pitch talking about the USMNT.  He discussed Torres’ re-integration under Klinsmann, future permutations of the squad , the enigma of Jozy Altidore (target player or second striker) and the emergence of Break Shea.

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Saturday I caught up on some La Liga.  I watched the replay of Real Sociedad v FCB and Valencia v Atletico Madrid, which I plan to discuss on this week’s Morbo Minute.  Sunday I wasn’t able to catch the Juventus season opener live (6:30 am ET) or on replay.  I’m hoping to watch it Monday or Tuesday but may just have to settle for highlights and analysis.  This week’s over.  On to next week.

Old Futbol Buffet–Labor Day Edition

Labor Day Weekend came at a good time for me.  Two weeks on the road for work had left me pretty tired.  Add to that, planning and running a community event, and I was almost out of gas.  I was behind on my footy info, so I spent some time over the weekend trying to get my head around La Liga and planned to watch the US v Costa Rica friendly.  I didn’t see any Euro 2012 qualifiers as there were not enough hours in the day.

Backing up to Thursday, which was Transfer Deadline Day, Richard Jolly at soccernet.com gave his overview of the EPL transfer window.  Some things to keep an eye on as the league starts up again.

US v Costa Rica

Grant Wahl’s comments on si.com.  Basically US looked for 30 minutes, Orozco may not be the answer; Castillo struggled.

I found a new blog (ussoccerplayers.com) and here were their thoughts, which I thought were insightful and honest.

Jeff Carlisle at ESPN Soccer was a little more positive.

World Football Phone In from 8/27

A caller asked about top MLS teams playing the winner and runner up of the Copa Libertadores, which Tim Vickery dismissed.  Bad enough Mexico is playing in it (ie money grab).  Add the MLS, then what’s the point of the CONCACAF Champions League.  Plus trying to keep regions separate instead of creating a super region that is far too great geographically to work.  Plus the minnows would be completely left behind.  He did forsee a global club league, which is interesting but I think unnecessary.  The World Club Cup is a decent start.  Look at the commitments now–League, Domestic Cup, Continental, plus International Breaks, which for non European players, is quite a haul.  Don’t see that this is feasible.

Another caller rang asking about a Paraguyan signed by Juventus.  This immediately grabbed my interest because I hadn’t heard anything about it.  Vickery was complimentary, plus @adz77 had me covered regarding Estigarribia at Juventiknows.com.

Finally Sean Wheelock talked about the MLS deal with NBC and their affiliate Versus, soon to be re-branded.    He also assessed the current MLS marketing strategy, which is not go after Joe Q. American Sports Fan, who follows the traditional American sports, but people like me, who are soccer snobs and follow European leagues instead of their domestic league.

Gabriele Marcotti on Beyond The Pitch

The great writer for Serie A talked about a wide range of subjects on his last appearance on the Beyond the Pitch podcast, including the Roma rebuilding project, which is focusing on youth; the state of the big teams in the league and their prospects for the season; and the short term and long term future of the Azzurri and how the mindset may need to change for the current group of players.

In Wenger We Trust

E-Town Hooligan on the Unprofessional Foulcast and Paul Merson on Beyond The Pitch both had interesting comments on Arsene Wenger’s situation at Arsenal.  E-Town in particular is all in with the Frenchman, while Merson is supportive but feels that Wenger is not completely in control on and off the pitch.

From the Weird File . . .

Finally, I don’t know how I came across this, or if it’s even real, but here is a link with a letter from Jack Warner regarding the contentions of Chuck Blazer as to the nature of the payments made between the two.  Bizarre.