Friday, April 28, 2006

European Club Cups - Fun Facts

European Club Cups.
European Cups 2006

1-0 in the semis, a sure formula for winning the trophy!

Barcelona - Arsenal finale je koje je priželjkivala većina neutralnih ljubitelja nogometa, to jest onih koji nisu navijači Milana i Villarreala kao direktno zainteresiranih suparnika u polufinalu, te Real Madrida i Espanyola kao tradicionalnih "mrzitelja" Barce odnosno Chelseaja i Tottenhama, kao povijesnih suparnika Arsenala.

Iako smo i mi u Nogometu navijali za ovakav finalni sraz, način na koji su Barca i Arsenal dospjeli do završnice u Parizu nije nas zadovoljio. Villarreal, klub koji nikad u povijesti nije ništa osvojio, tek se nedavno probivši u španjolsku i kontinentalnu elitu, više je zavrijedio prolaz u finale od Arsenala! Dok je artiljerija "Topnika" šutjela, "Žuta podmornica" ispalila je salve torpeda prema meti, vratima Jensa Lehmanna, a sportska je nepravda što u Nijemčevu mrežu nije ušao nijedan projektil.

U žalovanju za Villarrealom, čiji smo poraz istinski željeli prije no što su susreti odigrani, tješi nas jedino činjenica da jedanaesterac nad Jose Marijem nikako nije postojao, pa je promašaj Riquelmea s bijele točke neutralizirao sudačku pogrešku. S druge strane, nismo sigurni da je
na Highburyju postojao jedanaesterac za Španjolce, koji sudac nije dosudio, a zbog čega je Villarreal prosvjedovao.

Milan je u Barceloni teško oštećen odlukom Marcusa Merka da poništi potpuno regularan pogodak Andrija Ševčenka, koji bi Talijane vjerojatno bio odveo u produžetak. Kad se sve zbroji, Milan i Barca pružili su u 180 minuta jednako kvalitetnu igru te bi najpravednije bilo da je dvoboj odlučen jedanaestercima.

Copyright Soccerphile

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Only tools and horses

Only tools and horses

Looking back on it, marriage was probably a mistake. It’s not the compulsory reduction in alcohol consumption that I object to, or the fact that I have to endure television programmes with the word ‘vampire’ in the title, it’s the awful inane football related comments that plague my very existence. “He should be wearing gloves, it looks a bit chilly,” is a classic example, “Why is he getting so excited, it’s only a game,” is equally as annoying and the often repeated “You don’t have to bet to enjoy the football,” led me to invest in a shovel.

Only tools and horses

As Liverpool edged out Chelsea last week, a sense of dread enveloped me as I saw her forehead wrinkle, indicating that a comment was imminent; “The Chelsea players shouldn’t be so upset, they’re going to win the league,” was the end result of her pondering, and incredibly, I had to concur. Jose’s collection of superstars just need a point against Man U to become only the 2nd team in the history of the Premiership to retain their title, but Jose will demand all three. The 11/10 on offer about a Chelsea victory should be hoovered up; their FA Cup heartache will soon be a distant memory.

The formbook would suggest that Tottenham have the beating of Bolton on Saturday, but I’m not so sure. Bolton have had the Indian sign over Spurs in recent seasons and go in to the match on a high after destroying Charlton last weekend. Even Martin Jol can see that Bolton look a little bit of value at 5/1.

If Spurs slip up, Arsenal will take full advantage at the Stadium of Light. Sunderland have been awful on the road, and strangely, even worse in front of their own supporters. Arsene has taken a few liberties with team selection in recent weeks, but he could play the under 11’s against Sunderland and still snatch a draw. Arsenal are short at 1/4, but good things come in small packages.

Like Jay Jay Okocha, Lua Lua is so good they named him twice. However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule, as anyone who’s seen Eric Djemba Djemba play will testify. A fit again Lua Lua holds the key to a Pompey victory at Wigan, he’s 13/2 to open the scoring. Portsmouth are a confident call at 8/5 to move a step closer to safety.

As West Ham have already qualified for the UEFA Cup, there’s a high probability that Alan Pardew may shuffle his pack away at West Brom; let’s hope it’s more pleasing to the eye than the previous Pardew shuffle, that was just wrong. There’s a 75% chance that the Baggies will already be relegated before the Mayday kick-off; if already down, the Albion are worth a small nibble at 6/5; if other results go their way, take a huge bite.

Interestingly, there’s never been a draw in five years of Premiership fixtures between Charlton and Blackburn; i use the word ‘interestingly’ in its loosest possible sense. As Charlton never win a match towards the end of a season and Blackburn are crawling to the Premiership finishing line, the long overdue draw looks a little bit big at 12/5.

Liverpool are the nap of the week at 4/9 at home to the Villa. The Pool are finishing the season like a train while Villa’s derby day victory is masking the worst run since Jade Goody’s marathon attempt. Peter Crouch, like me, should be ashamed of his misses over the last few months, but there is an unwritten law that ex Villa players always score against their former employers, Crouchy is 11/10 to prove the rule.

The weekend specials follow a TV theme; surprisingly, there’s not one mention of Watchdog:

“Up Pompey” - Birmingham and West Brom both to lose 6/1
“Terry springer” - John Terry to score with a header 10/1
“Stalti towers” - Paul Stalteri to score with a header 40/1
“Drop the Red donkey” - Peter Crouch not to score 4/6
“Stirred ruck from the Sun” - Jihai to be sent off 25/1

Quote of the week:

“A manager picks players who he thinks are going to win the game for him, otherwise he’s an idiot.”
Jimmy Hill adds to the debate surrounding Mourinho’s FA Cup team selection.

Stat, you’re a liberty:

Chelsea, Man U and Liverpool have all been pulverised at least once this season, there are only three teams who haven’t been on the end of a beating by three or more goals: Arsenal, Man City and Tottenham.

Acc of the week:

Chelsea, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Arsenal and West Brom form the weekend accer, this little corker pays out at 20/1.

Weekend Betting:

Chelsea v Man Utd Saturday 29th April 12.30 Live on Sky

Chelsea 11/10
Draw 9/4
Man Utd 2/1

Get on: Chelsea

Chelsea have won their last three in the league and are unbeaten at home under Jose Mourinho. United haven’t scored at the Bridge on their last three visits and their goalless draw with Sunderland remains fresh in the memory.
Match Special:
Chelsea to score three or more goals 4/1

Birmingham v Newcastle Saturday 29th April 15.00

Birmingham 11/8
Draw 12/5
Newcastle 6/4

Get on: Draw

Birmingham have earned seven points out of a possible nine at home in recent weeks; Newcastle have won their last five and are fighting for a European spot.
Match Special:
Match to finish 1-1 6/1

Liverpool v Aston Villa Saturday 29th April 15.00

Liverpool 4/9
Draw 13/5
Aston Villa 6/1

Get on: Liverpool

It’s nine consecutive wins for Liverpool; Villa’s record of one win in nine won’t be giving anyone in red a sleepless night.
Match Special:
Liverpool to win and keep a clean sheet 10/11

Man City v Fulham Saturday 29th April 15.00

Man City 10/11
Draw 9/4
Fulham 5/2

Get on: Draw

Man City have only won one of their last seven; Fulham can not win away from home. Four of the last five matches between Man City and Fulham have ended up deadlocked.
Match Special:
Match to finish 2-2 14/1

Middlesbrough v Everton Saturday 29th April 15.00

Middlesbrough 6/5
Draw 9/4
Everton 9/5

Get on: Draw

This fixture has a history of being tight, there have been two goals or less in the last eight matches between them. Everton haven’t scored in four, this will not be a goalfest.
Match Special:
No Goalscorer in the match 8/1

Wigan v Portsmouth Saturday 29th April 15.00

Wigan 5/4
Draw 5/2
Portsmouth 8/5

Get on: Portsmouth

Wigan have only won one of their last six; Pompey have taken all three points in five of their last eight.
Match Special:
Lua Lua to score at any time 7/4

Charlton v Blackburn Saturday 29th April 17.15 Live on Premiership Plus

Charlton 6/4
Draw 12/5
Blackburn 11/8

Get on: Draw

It’s just one win from their last six games for the Addicks; Blackburn are winless in four.
Match Special:
Bellamy to score in a 1-1 draw 14/1

Tottenham v Bolton Sunday 30th April 16.00 Live on Sky

Tottenham 8/15
Draw 12/5
Bolton 5/1

Get on: Bolton

Spurs have dropped five points from their last two games; Bolton look to be back to their best after destroying Charlton last time out. Bolton have won their last six league meetings against Tottenham.
Match Special:
Borgetti to score at any time 5/2

Sunderland v Arsenal Monday 1st May 17.15 Live on Sky

Sunderland 8/1
Draw 4/1
Arsenal 1/4

Get on: Arsenal

No home wins all season says it all for Sunderland; Arsenal are simply in a different class. The Gunners have scored three goals or more in their last four league meetings with Sunderland.
Match Special:
Arsenal to win 3-0 13/2

West Brom v West Ham Monday 1st May 20.00 Live on Sky

West Brom 6/5
Draw 12/5
West Ham 7/4

Get on: West Brom

The FA Cup chasing Hammers have only won one of their last six in the league; the Baggies can go out with a bang.
Match Special:
Gera to score at any time 3/1


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

That's the breaks

Nottingham Forest

Forest lost 3-2 at the weekend, during a trip to struggling Hartlepool and most of the other results went against us. All good things come to an end, as they say, but hats off to our dynamic duo for the ridiculous recent run of form. Whatever happens between now and the end of the season, Barlow and McParland should be given the key to the city.

Nottingham Forest

I’m confident the Reds can bounce back from this minor set back, and concentrate on our own results – we were never going to remain unbeaten for the duration of the season. With two games left the situation as it stands now looks as though there are three teams, Barnsley, Swansea and Forest, vying for the last two playoff spots. But being only three points off the pace, Bristol City and Oldham fans may disagree. In other word, surprise, surprise, it’s tight.

The weekend ‘s running theme was high-flyers vs the do or die-ers, seeing three of teams in playoff positions visting three of the bottom four. It was business as usual when Swindon hosted, and lost, to Brentford 1-3. Huddersfield won by the same margin at the Bescot. Walsall losing the match, their League 1 status and, on Monday, their manager. Forest, as we know, were beaten.

By all accounts it was a deserved win for Hartlepool, who played a typical fighting-for-survival game, having scored three goals you can’t take anything away from them. Nathan Tyson squandered a one-on-one chance with the Hartlepool keeper in the dying minutes which could have levelled the tie. What was I saying about the panicky playoff zone?

Two games left. Home to Bournemouth and away to Bradford, two teams who’s seasons are over. Swansea entertain first place Southend this weekend. One more win virtually secures the leader’s place in the Championship. Hopefully they will reverse their recent run of form, taking only one point from three, to overcome the Swans at the Liberty and do us Foresters a favour. Barnsley should beat Bradford, and Bristol are taking on dire Swindon, I can only assume the worst from those fixtures. All prayers lie in Essex. And Nottingham…

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

J.League Action

J.League Action

Kyoto Sanga Keeper
A much improved Kyoto Purple Sanga lost a tight match at home to perennial power Kashima Antlers. Sanga is still struggling in the top division of Japanese soccer.

Under first-year coach Paulo Autuori--the 100 million man who was hired away from Sao Paulo--Kashima is nipping at the heels of the top teams in the League, just points back. If this match was anything to judge by, however, the Antlers will not win the Championship this year.

Kyoto was without its top scorer, Paulinho, who was sitting out the match because of yellow cards. As a result, Kyoto rarely threatened up front and fell 2-1. The pace of the match though was very even, and in defense Sanga has tightened up considerably. Kashima never dominated, and up front it too was never a threat.

Above is Kyoto's keeper, Naohito Hirai.


Saturday, April 22, 2006


Who are these people?

Smile please - team photo!

What are they doing playing football on SC Farense's pitch in southern Portugal?

Football tour to Faro

Who are Scal-Qaeda?


Find out click here


Friday, April 21, 2006

Premier League Betting Preview April 22 2006

Walker's Word - Premier League Preview 22/23 April 2006 by David Walker

George's Premiership Predictions.

A glut of home wins dominates this weekend's predictions and Sunderland could add another twist to the relegation battle at large odds. Love them or loathe them, Chelsea will be in the FA Cup final along with Middlesbrough writes David Walker.

Saturday 22 April

Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur
The race for fourth place hots up in this lunchtime offering as Arsenal look to make up the four point gap that separates them from their north London rivals. The statistics point to a home win. The Gunners have won the last six home Premiership fixtures against Spurs and seven out of 13 overall. Tottenham Hotspur have not had any joy at Highbury since the Premiership began in 1992/93 when they won 3-1. Forgotten striker John Hendry scored twice on one of his few appearances in a Spurs shirt following a £5,000 switch from Dundee. Walker's Word: Arsenal to close the gap @ 4/5.

Bolton Wanderers vs Charlton Athletic
Bolton ended a run of five consecutive league defeats with a goalless draw against West Brom on Monday and this match could be a similar yawnfest. Two of the four last meetings between these sides have produced goalless draws while Charlton seem to love a 0-0 result as it has featured in five of their last 10 Premiership matches. Walker's Word: Another bore draw @ 23/10 and and 0-0 @ 17/2. Everton vs Birmingham City
Birmingham City are running out of games if they are to survive in the Premiership and are unlikely to get any favours this Saturday. Steve Bruce's side have not won at Everton since winning promotion to the top flight but have drawn 1-1 twice in the last three meetings. Their chances of victory are slim and they haven't won at Goodison Park since 1957 and have lost 11 times on the road this season. Walker's Word: Home win @ 11/10.

Newcastle United vs West Bromwich Albion
Under Glenn Roeder, Newcastle are one of the form teams in the Premiership. They have won their last four matches in a row and this is a great opportunity to make it five. The Magpies have won both Premiership meetings at St James Park while the Baggies have not won there since 1977. Bryan Robson's side have won away from home once all season and are unlikely to improve that record this weekend. Walker's Word: Five on the spin for Newcastle @ 4/5.

Portsmouth vs Sunderland
On first glance this looks like a guaranteed home win. Portsmouth had won six on the bounce until they crashed 2-1 at Charlton on Bank Holiday Monday while Sunderland have nothing to play for after being relegated. Right? Wrong. Portsmouth may have hammered Sunderland 4-1 at the Stadium of Light back in October but have not beaten them at Fratton Park in the league since 1992. Since then, Sunderland have won three out of five visits, including two 4-1 wins. Add to that the fact Sunderland have nothing to lose while Portsmouth could succumb to nerves and you have a very tasty away victory proposition and at large odds to boot. There could be another twist to the relegation battle yet. Walker's Word: Sunderland to cause a shock @ 8/1.

FA Cup

Chelsea vs Liverpool
This is the first time the pair have met in the FA Cup since 1997, when Chelsea fought back from 2-0 down to win 4-2. Walker's Word: Chelsea to march on @ 6/5. Sunday 23 April

Middlesbrough vs West Ham United
The bookmakers have priced up West Ham as favourites. Walker's Word: Boro to prevail @ 6/4.

About the Author
David Walker is the resident tipster at a popular free bets website. Feature Walker's Word on your own website, blog or forum for free each week.

Soccerphile World Cup Predictions


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Steaua Bucharest 1 - 0 Boro. A little bit more Basel next time please

Steaua Bucharest 1 - 0 Boro

Boro will have no doubt come away from the Stadionul Ghencea not too disappointed and more than a little bit relieved after Dica's 30 minute strike was the only one to beat Schwarzer tonight.

With the notable absences of Southgate, Viduka and Cattermole, Middlesbrough were saved by Shwarzer more than once as he thwarted dangerous efforts from Dica, Goian, Nicolita and Ugo Ehiogu.

Steaua Bucharest 1 - 0 Boro

Ehiogu and Parnaby proved abysmal at the back tonight, creating a huge chunk of Steaua's chances between them with thoughtless passes and howlers aplenty, and in the case of Ehiogu even knocking the ball out of Schwarzer's hands to the thankfully unexpecting feet of the Bucharest forward line.

All was not bad, with Boro creating chances of their own but not quite managing to break through Steaua's formidable backline with any real conviction. Jimmy-Floyd went through the first half pretty anonymously, with Yakubu providing the only bit of pressure in front of goal. Downing and Morrison provided plenty from the midfield for the start of the match, but when Morrison went off with Yakubu for Parlour and Maccarone, Downing seemed to disappear as well with Rochemback the only one to appear to be trying to feed the lone Jimmy up front. Not the best way for Downing to impress the beady eyed Sven in the crowd ahead of the World Cup, but what can you do? They're all tired lads and understandably so...

Maccarone broke through with a dipping shot that was the best chance towards the end of the game for us, but it was Steaua that were making the most of things and really testing Schwarzer's limits.

Not a bad result at all for Boro who go into next week with less to do than they had to with Basel the other week. Another semi-final in between mind, which may take it's toll, but the team should be back to full strength and fighting for it. Come on Boro!

Middlesbrough FC Books From Amazon UKMiddlesbrough FC Books From Amazon UK


She’s got one hand in my pocket

She’s got one hand in my pocket

Even a blind squirrel occasionally finds an acorn. I permed my five strongest fancies in doubles and upwards last week, in what proved to be the tastiest Canadian since Alanis Morissette. Speaking of the diminutive whiny artiste, she once wrote a song with the following lyrics, ‘It’s like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife, isn’t it ironic? The answer is no. If you’re looking for a knife, the cutlery drawer should be the first port of call, searching in some sort of spoon factory was flawed from the very beginning.

FA Cup

There’s no doubting the irony surrounding Sunday’s FA Cup semi final between Boro and West Ham; two English managers will face off in England’s greatest competition, on St George’s Day, fighting to reach the Cathedral of English football; the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Both teams have been priced up at 6/4 to win the match, after securing victory in the warm up earlier in the week, the Boro are a tentative pick.

Chelsea are a far more confident selection when they meet Liverpool in the other semi. Liverpool may have had the rub of the green in European competition against Jose’s superstars, but the Champions have handed the Reds a couple of real spankings in the Premiership. At 11/10, Chelsea are a boot-filler.

Adding a virtual Champions League playoff to a North London derby is like pairing lager with a chicken madras; a mouth-watering prospect. Arsenal are finishing the season like a train; chalk up this battle to the Gunners at 4/5, as the war for four escalates.

Bolton’s demise has been grossly exaggerated, only Chelsea and Man U have won at the Reebok since August. Big Sam’s gang host a Charlton team that collected three points against Pompey on Monday, but the police are considering launching an investigation as it was such a blatant robbery. A home win looks attractive at 4/5.

The odds makers will occasionally price up a game where a team that needs a result will be a shorter price than their true probability should dictate. A poor West Brom side are only 3/1 to win at St James’ Park against an in form Newcastle due to the ‘need to win’ factor, resulting in the Toon Army being available at a relatively huge 8/11. The Geordies receive the coveted ‘nap of the week’ award.

After drawing away at Old Trafford, Sunderland will be hoping that lightning strikes twice (that’s one more than Jonathan Stead) as they travel to Fratton Park. Pompey destroyed the Mackems at the Stadium of Light when they weren’t playing well, they’re absolutely flying now. Portsmouth at 1/3 are the next best bet on the coupon.

Wigan’s season has been nothing short of a fairytale, and they’ll be hoping for a happy ending at the enchanted Cottage. As Fulham’s home form has been sensational, the even money about a home win is the call. Sometimes, the bears have to eat.

The weekend specials revolve around the North London derby:

“Coming to an Ed” - Edgar Davids to score at any time 6/1
“What a Lehmann” - Arsenal to keep a clean sheet 11/8
“Imagine” - Aaron Lennon to score at any time 9/2
“RSVP” - Reyes, Silva and Van Persie all to score 100/1
“Carri OK” - Michael Carrick to score at any time 8/1

Quote of the week:

“If you have a car and you win a race, you cannot just settle for that, you must try and make the car better. We're a good car, but you always want a bigger engine.”

Rafa Benitez tells a familiar tale.

Stat, you’re a liberty:

There is only one team in the Premiership who have not been involved in a goalless draw this season, it’s Wigan.

Acc of the week:

Chelsea, Arsenal, Newcastle, Portsmouth and Fulham are all standout wagers on their own, throw them together and you have ‘super wager’, an accer that pays out at a sweet 16/1.

Weekend Betting:

Arsenal v Tottenham Saturday 22nd April 12.45 Live on Sky

Arsenal 4/5
Draw 12/5
Tottenham 11/4

Get on: Arsenal

The Gunners have won their last six at home; Spurs have only won two of their last eight on the road, losing five of the other six. Spurs have lost on their last seven visits to Highbury.
Match Special:
Thierry Henry to score two or more goals 9/2

Bolton v Charlton Saturday 22nd April 15.00

Bolton 4/5
Draw 12/5
Charlton 11/4

Get on: Bolton

Bolton have only lost 2 of their last 15 home matches; Charlton haven’t won on their travels in the league for six months.
Match Special:
Nolan to score at any time 2/1

Everton v Birmingham Saturday 22nd April 15.00

Everton 6/5
Draw 12/5
Birmingham 7/4

Get on: Everton

Tottenham are the only visitors to win at Goodison Park this year; Blues have only managed wins on the road at Sunderland and West Bromwich this season. Birmingham have not won at Goodison Park since the 50’s.
Match Special:
Beattie to score the only goal of the game 25/1

Newcastle v West Brom Saturday 22nd April 15.00

Newcastle 8/11
Draw 5/2
West Brom 3/1

Get on: Newcastle

Newcastle have won their last four; the Baggies haven’t won in ten. West Brom have never beaten the Geordies in the Premiership.
Match Special:
Newcastle to keep a clean sheet 6/5

Portsmouth v Sunderland Saturday 22nd April 15.00

Portsmouth 1/3
Draw 7/2
Sunderland 6/1

Get on: Portsmouth

Pompey have only lost one of their last seven, scoring 14 goals along the way. Sunderland have kept one clean sheet in their last 13 matches.
Match Special:
Mendes to score at any time 7/2

Chelsea v Liverpool FA Cup semi final Saturday 22nd April 17.15 Live on BBC

Chelsea 11/10
Draw 2/1
Liverpool 9/4

Get on: Chelsea

Liverpool have won their last seven, but have not played anyone close to Chelsea’s class in that run. Chelsea have already completed a league double over the Reds, winning both games convincingly.
Match Special:
Chelsea to score three or more goals 4/1

Middlesbrough v West Ham FA Cup semi final Sunday 23rd April 16.00 Live on Sky

Middlesbrough 6/4
Draw 11/5
West Ham 6/4

Get on: Middlesbrough

With both teams resting players in the run up to this match, the value of recent form is questionable. At the available prices and with the Boro strikers looking sharp, McClaren’s men receive the nod.
Match Special:
Hasselbaink to score at any time 7/4

Fulham v Wigan Monday 24th April 20.00 Live on Sky

Fulham Evs
Draw 9/4
Wigan 9/4

Get on: Fulham

Fulham have won 11 times at home this season, that’s only one less than the title challenging Man U. Wigan have only won one of their last five.
Match Special:
Fulham to win and keep a clean sheet 2/1

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Fortune favours the Forest

Fortune favours the Forest

Three days, two wins, two days of ridiculous results. Forest took full points from their Easter schedule and complimented it with two more days of fantastic results from elsewhere in League 1, to take sixth place and keep the promotion aspirations very much alive.

Fortune favours the Forest

This unbeaten run is almost a throwback to the years BC. Dear Brian may he rest in peace... Not that I want to bang on about going ten games without a loss being a amazing turnaround of fortunes (oh yes I do...) but Forests rapid rise into the playoff positions has also had a lot to do with other teams faltering form.

Around the start of the month our task was to claw back seven points in as many games. Discussing this with my Brother, as pessimistic and superstitious as any Forest fan your likely to meet, we thought it to be just about possible if we won all but about two games. This might yet turn out to be true, but we were expecting, if anything, Forest to steal sixth place probably on the last day of the season. Poor results from the six teams around us, possibly caused by our good form, have accelerated the Palace-esq rise that has left us in the lowest playoff spot and five points off automatic promotion.

When Oldham lost at home to the Dons it became clear that we had to thank players of other teams as well as our own for the rapidity of our rise. Other results that have gone our way in the last few days include Barnsleys 2-0 halftime lead being pegged back to a draw by a shaky Southend, Brentford constantly drawing, Oldham constantly losing and Colchester sharing the points with a decidedly dodgy Chesterfield on Saturday.

Tonight, Huddersfield, another club sparing with Forest for a play-off spot host Chesterfield. The visitors haven’t won a game since January, they squandered a two goal lead at the weekend and Huddersfield are at home. It seems it could only end one way. But then again, Huddersfield are in the panicky playoff zone. Do we sense a pattern? Could the Derbyshire side cause an upset? What time does Ladbrokes close?


Miracle worker has all eyes on number two

Guus Hiddink

Australian World Cup saviour Guus Hiddink might this week have announced his decision to coach Russia after the finals - but for now his undivided attention turns to working his second miracle with the Socceroos.


Weeks of speculation linking the in-demand Dutch coach with every managerial position vacant or otherwise ended with Hiddink's inking of a two-year contract with the Russian Football Association. He will reportedly receive AUD$3.2 million per annum in a deal rumoured to have been bankrolled by billionaire Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich such was his popularity with national team bosses. Unlike the Socceroos, Russia failed to qualify for Germany under coach Yuri Semin and were handed a 7-1 hiding by Portugal during a dismal campaign.

Hiddink has also finished his second stint at the helm of PSV Eindhoven after leading them to the Dutch title for consecutive seasons last Sunday. His championship winners signed off in style with a 6-2 thrashing of NAC Breda, the coach's 200th victory during eight years with PSV. With the Dutch giants already eliminated from the Champions League, the match signalled the end of Hiddink's domestic reign.

With the new Aussie Rules season cranking up and the National Rugby League already in full swing, Hiddink's departure has gone unnoticed by all but the footballing fraternity down under. It is a harsh indictment on the man supporters are already lauding as the best-ever Socceroo coach after guiding the Aussies to their first World Cup in 32 years.

In some ways, Hiddink's failure to renew his international contract with Football Federation Australia has provoked a typical response. The Dutchman has somewhat adopted the "no worries, mate" mantra himself during his tenure and his departure is seen as merely the inevitable end of a beautiful relationship - no matter that without him the Socceroos will certainly be a poorer set-up. His decision to step in and help on a part-time basis when the team were in the doldrums will always be remembered as a turning point in Australian football.

Hiddink, of course, is making little of his repatriation to Roman's army at this stage. His work with Russia begins with the Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia [a nation he'll know plenty about after their Group F encounter with Australia] on September 6. His work preparing the Socceroos for the greatest test in their history starts now.

His first task will be to utilise the final weeks of the European season to assess his stocks. The major leagues play their final round of matches on May 7 with the 23-man playing squads for Germany to be submitted no later than May 15. Of Hiddink's likely squad members, only AC Milan goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac could still be in action in the Champions League final after this deadline.

He will, no doubt, be pleasantly surprised with what he finds. The form of his key armoury is robust with Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell and Everton's player of the month for March Tim Cahill all weighing in with goals of late. Former captain Craig Moore is starting to put his injury nightmare behind him at Newcastle United and remains firmly in Hiddink's thoughts for the opener against Japan. Meanwhile, influential midfielder Josip Skoko - who captained the Socceroos in February's Asian Cup qualification win in Bahrain - is blossoming in a loan spell at Stoke City.

The coach's major dilemma remains the balance of his defence. Stalwarts Tonys Vidmar and Popovic continue to struggle with injuries or a lack of match practice. Depending on which way you look at it, it might have been a positive factor that Vidmar's rib injury meant he didn't feature in the NAC side which capitulated against PSV last weekend. He and Popovic are being pushed hard by Moore, recently appointed FC Thun captain Ljubo Milicevic and even A-League high-flyer Michael Beauchamp for a starting spot.

After submitting his final 23, Hiddink then looks forward to his first match in charge of the Socceroos since that famous night against Uruguay last November. He leads the side against reigning European champions Greece at the 90,000-capacity rebuilt MCG in front of an expected capacity crowd on May 25. The squad then head to Holland for a pre-finals training camp - including a friendly against Marco van Basten's side on June 4 - before heading to their base in Ohringen in Southern Germany.


Monday, April 17, 2006

World Cup T-shirts

World Cup T-shirts

Get some nifty gear for Germany '06 from Soccerphile's World Cup shop.

Choose from our or "I'm Not A Hooligan 2006" Range Tee

I'm Not A Hooligan


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Trip To Tranmere

The Fall (and rise?) of Nottingham Forest

Trip To Tranmere

“Who needs Mourinho” claimed the Nottingham Evening Post , on 3rd April after a three one drubbing of Colchester away from home. The Post being as typically “fair and balanced” as a Fox News anchorman, summed up in three words on the back pages what a lot of fans had already been wondering; How had our fortunes shifted so drastically since dumping Megson?

Trip To Tranmere

This is my first entry to this blog on Forest’s fortunes in League 1 and it couldn’t come at a better time. Last week we won our third match on the bounce and have strung together an unbeaten run of 8 matches, leaving us two points off a playoff position. I, along with many other disheartened fans who thought the season was over, have found themselves crossing their fingers and clenching their Casios.

So how realistic is a playoff spot? In a typical footballing fashion it’s a question of two halves. The official line coming out of the city ground has mellowed after the good result in Saturday’s six pointer with Colchester. Joint caretaker boss Ian McParcland, who’s been keeping his lips zipped and repeating a ‘one game at a time’ mantra in recent weeks, finally admitted that Forest have 'a wee chance' of securing a place in the post-season tumble dryer. Fans on Forest internet sites have been using varied words ranging from “guaranteed” to “skin of our teeth” and to as unlikely as “Marlon Harewood”…

It’s fair to say everyone associated with Forest is nervy. The truth is, we are now two points behind sixth and seventh placed Barnsley and Oldham, five behind Swansea and we have five games to play. It’s tight but Forest are the form team in the league at the moment; Oldham and Barnsley are stumbling. The Latics and the Tykes play each other today, a draw there and one goal win for us against would put us in the sixth playoff position on goal difference, hardly an unassailable position but better than two points back. However, we have to win at Tranmere today, a long road trip where we rarely get a result. On the plus side Rovers’ season is long over: Ten points away from a playoff spot and eight above the drop-zone, the boys from Birkenhead have very little to fight for.

The rumblings started a few weeks back, but now this unlikely tidal movement looks as if I could to turn into a rolling storm. I’m reluctant to jinx it but I’ve a sneaking suspicion that we might just do it. Forget that, I think we’ll win it. Altogether now
“Who needs Mourinho?…”



Thursday, April 13, 2006

The pair of the Drog

The pair of the Drog

The press boys have had a field day reporting on Wayne Rooney’s gambling losses this week, it’s easy for them to pontificate about betting responsibly, but I refuse to condemn the big lad, I too have wasted money on an old dog or two.

The pair of the Drog

Rooney’s problems are insignificant compared to mine though, the wife is on the warpath after she overheard a private telephone conversation where I was discussing the importance of Fabregas to the future of Arsenal, she thinks I have a problem with Cesc chat lines. That’s only partly true.

Jose Mourinho is also a worried man, he was right to voice his concerns about bird flu; there could well be a foul related epidemic at the Reebok. Bolton are having a disappointing end to the season; after four successive defeats, big Sam will have his boys fired up for this one. The Champions are a confident call at 4/7, an in form Drogba is worth a small tinkle at 11/2 to bag a brace.

An excellent betting opportunity has presented itself in the Blackburn v Liverpool match. The deadline has now passed for accumulated bookings to lead to a suspension; as a result, Robbie Savage’s nine previous yellows can be disregarded. The blonde bombshell has been given a license to roam free in front of the TV cameras; the 7/4 on offer for a Savage booking is worth snapping up. Both Blackburn and Liverpool head into the game in great form, the draw’s the call at 11/5.

When the Villa won at Birmingham earlier in the season, the home supporters were far from enamoured with David O’Leary as he ran across the pitch to gesticulate towards a pensioner. This fixture is always tasty, but with Birmingham’s Premiership status and O’Leary’s managerial career on the line, more fireworks are expected. The draw’s a good call at 2/1, a goalless draw is a great call at 13/2, but a sending off at 5/2 is the piece de resistance.

Man City do not enjoy their trips to Upton Park, and not because of the supposed jellied eel eating, market stall trading, non washing machine owning locals that the BBC believe inhabit the area, but because they’ve never won there in the Premiership, and on four of the five trips, they’ve been absolutely shoed.

The footballer of the year awards have been dominated by the usual suspects, poor old Yossi Benayoun didn’t even get a look in. The Israeli playmaker has a lot in common with Paolo Di Canio; he’s not a referee pushing, scissor kicking, fascist sympathising Italian, but they can both change a game with a moment of brilliance. Yossi holds the key to a Hammers victory, get on at 11/10.

Pompey are the weekend nap at home to Middlesbrough. Their recent form has been superb and Boro have one eye on the UEFA Cup and the other on the FA Cup, the 10/11 on the table should be snapped up. The back flipping, goal scoring, non Toon performing phenomenon that is Lua Lua looks the man to do the damage; he’s 5/1 to open the scoring.

The weekend specials:

“Gud, old boy” – Eidur Gudjohnsen to score at any time 7/4
“Luke warm” - Luke Moore to score two or more goals 8/1
“Good Friday” - Sunderland to score one goal or more 11/10
“Good pie day” - Wayne Rooney to score two or more goals 7/2
“The steaks are high” - Wayne Rooney to score with a header 7/2

Quote of the week:

“The only people we've not laid are Roger de Courcy and Nookie Bear, and by the time Freddie Shepherd makes up his mind we'll probably have seen some money for them too.”

Ladbrokes spokesman Robin Hutchison edges out Jose Mourinho’s bird flu quip.

Stat, you’re a liberty:

The most successful team in the tackle this season is…Sunderland. The Mackem players have won 74% of their challenges.

Acc of the week:

If you put Fulham, Newcastle, Portsmouth and West Ham together in an accer, you end up with a Channel 4 game show; only this 15/1 appeals.

Weekend Betting:

Man Utd v Sunderland Friday 14th April 19.45 Live on Premiership Plus

Man Utd 1/10
Draw 11/2
Sunderland 20/1

Get on: Man Utd

Man U have won their previous nine league matches; Sunderland are truly diabolical.
Match Special:
Rooney to score a hat-trick 14/1

Bolton v Chelsea Saturday 15th April 12.45 Live on Premiership Plus

Bolton 4/1
Draw 13/5
Chelsea 4/7

Get on: Chelsea

Bolton have lost their last four; Chelsea have earned seven points out of nine. Frank Lampard has scored four goals in his last two appearances against big Sam’s battlers.
Match Special:
Lampard to score at any time 6/4

Arsenal v West Brom Saturday 15th April 15.00

Arsenal 1/5
Draw 9/2
West Brom 9/1

Get on: Arsenal

Arsenal have won their last four at Highbury; the Baggies have took 2 points out of a possible 24.
Match Special:
Arsenal to score a penalty 6/1

Everton v Tottenham Saturday 15th April 15.00

Everton 6/4
Draw 11/5
Tottenham 6/4

Get on: Draw

Everton have only lost one in six; it’s three wins out of four for the Spurs.
Match Special:
Match to finish 1-1 11/2

Fulham v Charlton Saturday 15th April 15.00

Fulham 6/5
Draw 9/4
Charlton 9/5

Get on: Fulham

Fulham have won five of their last seven at the Cottage; Charlton have drew a blank in four of their last five on the road.
Match Special:
McBride to score with a header 6/1

Newcastle v Wigan Saturday 15th April 15.00

Newcastle 5/6
Draw 9/4
Wigan 11/4

Get on: Newcastle

Newcastle have won their last two; Wigan are winless in three. The Latics have beaten the Geordies twice this season, a third is unlikely.
Match Special:
Solano to score direct from a free kick 14/1

Portsmouth v Middlesbrough Saturday 15th April 15.00

Portsmouth 10/11
Draw 12/5
Middlesbrough 12/5

Get on: Portsmouth

Pompey are unbeaten in five; Boro have lost four of their last six on the road. Middlesbrough have never beaten Portsmouth in the Premiership and their focus is on the Cups. Nap bet material.
Match Special:
Portsmouth to score three or more goals 7/2

West Ham v Man City Saturday 15th April 15.00

West Ham 11/10
Draw 9/4
Man City 2/1

Get on: West Ham

The Hammers have hosted City on five previous occasions in the Premiership; they’ve scored 14 goals and took 13 of the 15 points. Chelsea and an on fire Pompey are the only visitors to leave Upton Park with three points this year; City have lost five on the bounce.
Match Special:
Benayoun to score at any time 3/1

Aston Villa v Birmingham Sunday 16th April 12.00 Live on Sky

Aston Villa 5/4
Draw 2/1
Birmingham 2/1

Get on: Draw

Villa have drew two of their last three matches, Birmingham have also drawn two out of three. Defeat is unacceptable for both teams; it’s rare to find such an obvious contender for a goalless draw.
Match Special:
No goal scorer in the match 13/2

Blackburn v Liverpool Sunday 16th April 14.30 Live on Sky

Blackburn 13/8
Draw 11/5
Liverpool 11/8

Get on: Draw

Blackburn are unbeaten at home this year and that run includes wins against Man U and Arsenal. The Pool are also in top form, they’ve won their last six, impressively. There have been four goals or more in this fixture on the last four occasions that Liverpool have travelled; a high scoring draw appeals.
Match Special:
Match to finish 2-2 14/1


Monday, April 10, 2006

K. League Results April 2006

K. League

Daegu 2 Jeju United 2
Daejeon 1 Incheon United 0
Suwon 1 Chunnam 1
Busan I'Park 2 Pohang Steelers 1
Gyeongnam FC 0 Seongnam 1
Ulsan 0 FC Seoul 0
Chonbuk 1 Sangmu 1

K. League Results April 2006

Leading Positions

Seongnam P8 Pts22
Daejeon P8 Pts13
Suwon P8 Pts12

FC Seoul Shirts


Friday, April 7, 2006

Super Lee Cattermooooole! Man City 0 Boro 1

Super Lee Cattermole

The only thing that could be said to Man City's credit after they were played off the park by a still mighty Boro is that they have got one of the nicest stadiums about. A great view from everywhere, easy to get in and out, decent pies and a lovely bit of eye catching architecture. But what about the football?

Super Lee Cattermole

Stuart Pearce's disgusted post match reaction said it all - there were no "tremendous shows of character" or not faulting the lads a la McClaren for Pearce, the City players just didn't earn their wages.

A scrappy first half on the slippy Eastlands pitch didn't produce a great deal of excitement until the 42nd minute when teenager Lee Cattermole managed to get on the end of a Stewart Downing cross to pop in hopefully his first of many Premiership goals. Super Lee Cattermole! was the cry well into the rest of the match.

Perhaps egged on by the goal and the noise from the Boro end (got any songs City?) the second half picked up, for Boro at least, with (I never thought I'd say this) David James keeping them vaguely in the game. Boro sprayed the city keeper's goal with shots, but butterfingers managed to deny Morrison, Parnaby and Rochemback time after time. The goal count could've been much higher if it wasn't for James and some weak finishing from the Boro frontline - weak shots and guffs a plenty let down a bit of fine attacking play.

So, the Boro continue to creep away from the relegation zone and slowly up the table as City seem to do the opposite. Pearce isn't happy, and who would be? He'll be the first for the chop if it continues.

Now it's just 7 more wins on the trot needed for Boro, aswell as a nil-nil draw for every other match and maybe an extra loss for Tottenham, for us to finish in Champions League qualifying 4th and turn the season round nicely. Now for victory in the UEFA cup and onward with the FA. Phew, what a season!


Thursday, April 6, 2006

Cesc, Drogs and Rock and Roll

Cesc, Drogs and Rock and Roll

Working on a Sunday is comparable to sleeping with the wife, it occurs rarely and it’s never enjoyable. The gaffer is aware of my reticence, whenever circumstances demand that I appear on the Sabbath he throws me double time and a day in lieu, I’m reasonably happy with that, but Louise has just handed her notice in. As a result, I’ll be spending this Sunday watching three live Premiership matches.

Cesc, Drogs and Rock and Roll

Chelsea v West Ham kicks off the action at midday and an early shock could be on the cards. Man United are breathing down the champion’s necks and Chelsea are feeling the pressure; they’re currently wobbling like a jelly on a drunken Sumo wrestler.

There’s a definite cloud over the Bridge, after being booed by his own supporters, a depressed Didier Drogba is reportedly considering a move away from the club. Imagine that, Drogba, down. There’s a real case for backing the Hammers at 8/1 against a choking Chelsea, but a lay of the Champions at around the 3/10 mark on the exchanges is a more practical option. It’s practically in already.

Super Sunday continues when Liverpool host Bolton, and this one could be tasty. If my memory serves me correctly, Stevie Gerrard used Kevin Nolan’s back as a trampoline earlier in the season; you would think he could afford his own. A sending off in the match is available at 10/3, that’s definitely worth a small interest.

Robbie Fowler has had a good week, after overtaking Kenny Dalglish in Liverpool’s all-time goal scorer list; Rafa has confirmed that a couple more goals could earn him a new contract at the club. The scally legend has a lot to play for, and like a dyslexic hippy; i’m a big believer in ‘Fowler power’. The Pool should be backed at 1/2 to take the three points; Robbie should be backed at 11/10 to get on the scoresheet.

After a couple of tasty starters, the live action reaches a crescendo when Arsenal travel to Old Trafford. This fixture has finished goalless on the last two meetings, but that’s about to change. Arsenal are currently in a purple patch, and United’s patch is arguably even purpler, it’s a Fergie’s nose patch. There will be goals in this one, and United want it that little bit more. They’re good looking bets at even money.

Van Nistelrooy started on the bench last week, came on, went to ground easily, and then banged in his 150th goal for the club, it was a typical Van the man performance. Nistelrooy and Arsenal have a little history, he’s a 9/2 shot to score the last goal against his old mates. The British press have had Cesc on their brain all week, but United have a half decent youngster of their own, his name’s Rooney, and he can play ball. Wayne likes the big occasion, he’s a 6/4 shot to score at any time.

Martin Jol’s decision to continuously play Mido ahead of Jermain Defoe leaves me perplexed. As I often reassure the wife, there’s nothing wrong with having two little ones up front. Spurs play hosts to a Man City team who still have their manager’s savage criticism ringing through their ears, an improved performance from City is an absolute certainty; 7/2 screams value.

The Boro v Newcastle match reminds me of the time I holidayed in the Orient, there’s every chance it might end up in a tie. The last three meets between these two have finished all square, a trend that looks set to continue. 11/5 is on offer, let’s rock and roll.

The weekend specials:

“I should be so lucky” - Portsmouth to keep a clean sheet 15/8
“All you need is Love” - Lovenkrands to score and Rangers to win 1-0 20/1
“Johnny be good” - John Terry to be booked 11/4
“Shay a little prayer” - Newcastle to keep a clean sheet 15/8
“Let's talk about Cesc” - Fabregas to score two or more goals 25/1

Quote of the week:

“Every time I pull on the shirt, I give 120%.”
Jermain Defoe puts all other professional footballers to shame, they only put in 110%.

Stat, you’re a liberty:

A quick perusal through the Premiership’s top 20 goal scorers this season makes interesting reading; the most lethal striker is…Luke Moore. Aston Villa’s rising star scores a goal every 1.88 shots. To put that stat in perspective, Rooney’s ratio is 1 in 4.85, Lampard scores 1 in 5.80.

Acc of the week:

Man City, Fulham, Aston Villa and Liverpool are all good looking bets on their own, throw them all together, you’ve got a gorgeous little 32/1 accer.

Weekend Betting:

Tottenham v Man City Saturday 8th April 12.45 Live on Premiership Plus

Tottenham 4/6
Draw 12/5
Man City 7/2

Get on: Man City

Both teams go in to the match on the back of a disappointing defeat. Tottenham struggled to see off West Brom in their last home match, 7/2 about City stands out.
Match Special:
Man City to score two or more goals 3/1

Charlton v Everton Saturday 8th April 15.00

Charlton 5/4
Draw 9/4
Everton 7/4

Get on: Charlton

Charlton are unbeaten at home this year; Everton are winless in five on the road. The Toffeemen failed to beat Sunderland last week, at home.
Match Special:
Darren Bent to score the only goal of the game 25/1

Portsmouth v Blackburn Saturday 8th April 15.00

Portsmouth 6/4
Draw 11/5
Blackburn 6/4

Get on: Portsmouth

It’s three wins out of three for Pompey; Blackburn have lost five of their last six matches away from Ewood Park.
Match Special:
Mendes to score at any time 4/1

Sunderland v Fulham Saturday 8th April 15.00

Sunderland 13/8
Draw 11/5
Fulham 11/8

Get on: Fulham

Sunderland have not won a home match all season, Fulham have failed to win away. The Mackems have only found the net in two of their previous nine home matches, Fulham have scored in five of their last six away games. An ‘O’ must go, it’ll be Fulham’s.
Match Special:
Fulham to keep a clean sheet 7/4

Wigan v Birmingham Saturday 8th April 17.15 Live on Premiership Plus

Wigan 5/6
Draw 5/2
Birmingham 5/2

Get on: Birmingham

Wigan have lost their last three in front of their own supporters; City have beaten Bolton and held Chelsea in their last two games.
Match Special:
Birmingham to win 1-0 8/1

Aston Villa v West Brom Sunday 9th April 12.00

Aston Villa 11/10
Draw 2/1
West Brom 9/4

Get on: Aston Villa

Villa have taken four points from their last two home matches (against fellow strugglers Pompey and Fulham). The Albion have lost their last three, and they’ve never beaten the Villa in the Premiership.
Match Special:
Steven Davis to score at any time 4/1

Chelsea v West Ham Sunday 9th April 12.00 Live on Sky

Chelsea 2/7
Draw 7/2
West Ham 8/1

Get on: West Ham

Four points out of nine constitutes a bad run of form for Chelsea; the Hammers have won five of their last eight away games, including a triumph at Highbury. I’ve seen worse 8/1 shots.
Match Special:
Harewood to score the only goal of the game 90/1

Liverpool v Bolton Sunday 9th April 14.00 Live on Sky

Liverpool 1/2
Draw 12/5
Bolton 11/2

Get on: Liverpool

Liverpool have won five on the bounce, scoring 20 goals. Bolton have lost their last three, conceding seven times. It’s been over 50 years since Bolton won a league match at Anfield.
Match Special:
Liverpool to win and keep a clean sheet 11/10

Middlesbrough v Newcastle Sunday 9th April 15.00

Middlesbrough 6/4
Draw 11/5
Newcastle 6/4

Get on: Draw

There’s a history of draws in this fixture, with both teams being consistently inconsistent, another tied match is the sensible conclusion.
Match Special:
Match to finish 2-2 14/1

Man Utd v Arsenal Sunday 9th April 16.00 Live on Sky

Man Utd Evs
Draw 9/4
Arsenal 9/4

Get on: Man Utd

The two hot teams in the Premiership collide, it’s eight consecutive victories for Man U, while Arsenal have handed out four beatings on the bounce. Either team could win, at the available prices; the home team receives the nod.
Match Special:
Any player to be sent off 13/5


Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Soccer in European Capitals

Slovenian capital Ljubljana the only one without a team in the
top flight

Soccer in European Capitals

Slovenska sramota - Ljubljana jedina bez prvoligaša

Jedini europski glavni grad koji nema nijednog nogometnog prvoligaša je - Ljubljana. I ne tako čudan podatak, s obzirom na tretman koji je nogomet imao u Sloveniji još u vrijeme postojanja Jugoslavije: nikakav!

Zadnji je ljubljanski klub u Si.Mobil Ligi bila Olimpija, koja je međutim zbog financijskih teškoća amaterizirana i poslana u četvrti rang natjecanja.

Istraživanje koje je proveo slovenski magazin Sportal pokazuje da Atena, Moskva i Tbilisi daju najviše klubova svojim nacionalnim prvim ligama, po sedam, dok je relativno najzastupljeniji armenski glavni grad Erevan, sa šest klubova od devet armenskih prvoligaša.

Zagreb daje tri prvoligaša, ako ubrojimo Inter iz Zaprešića, koji formalno nosi titulu posebnog grada, no koji u narodu uživa status predgrađa (otud i Interov nadimak "Diva iz predgrađa").

Pogledajmo sve klubove iz europskih glavnih gradova

Sedam klubova:
Grčka (16 klubova u 1. ligi) - Atena: Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, AEK, Atromitos, Egaleo, Ionikos, Kallithea
Gruzija (16) - Tbilisi: Dinamo, WIT, Ameri, Lokomotivi, Dinamo Sokhumi, Spektakl, Tbilisi
Rusija (16) - Moskva: CSKA, Moskva, Spartak, Saturn, Lokomotiv, Dinamo, Torpedo

Šest klubova:
Engleska (20) - London: Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, West Ham United, Charlton Athletic, Fulham
Armenija (9) - Erevan: Ararat, Banants, Kilikia, Lernajin Artsah, Pjunik, Dinamo Zenit
Azerbejdžan (14) - Baku: Baku, Inter, Karabah, MOIK, Nefči, Olimpik
Srbija i Crna Gora (16) - Beograd: Crvena zvezda, Partizan, Voždovac, OFK Beograd, Rad, Obilić

Pet klubova:
Irska (12) Dublin: St. Patrick's, Shelbourne, Dublin City, University College Dublin, Bohemians
Mađarska (16) - Budimpešta: Ujpesti ZE, MTK, Honved, Ferencvaros, Vasas
Rumunjska (16) - Bukurešt: Steaua, Rapid, Dinamo, National 2000, Sportul Studentesc

Četiri kluba:
Bjelorusija (14) - Minsk: Dinamo, Lokomotiv, MTZ RIPO, Zvezda BGU
Bugarska (16) - Sofija: CSKA, Levski, Lokomotiv, Slavija
Cipar (14) - Nikozija: APOEL, Omonia, Akritas, Olympiakos
Island (10) - Reykjavik: Valur, Fylkir, Fram, Throttur
Makedonija (12) - Skopje: Rabotnički, Vardar, Makedonija, Cementarnica

Tri kluba:
Albanija (10) - Tirana: Dinamo, Partizani, Tirana
Andora (8) - Andorra la Vella: Lusitans, Principat, Ranger's
Bosna i Hercegovina (16) - Sarajevo: Sarajevo, Željezničar, Slavija
Estonija (10) - Talin: TVMK, Flora, Ajax Lasnamae
Hrvatska (12) - Zagreb: Dinamo, Zagreb
Litva (10) - Vilnius: Žalgiris, Vilnius, Vetra
Moldavija (8) - Kišinjev: Zimbru, Dacia, Politechnica
Portugal (18) - Lisabon: Sporting, Benfica, Belenenses
Sjeverna Irska (16) - Belfast: Linfield, Glentoran, Cliftonville
Španjolska (20) - Madrid: Real, Atletico, Getafe

Dva kluba:
Austrija (10) - Beč: Austria, Rapid
Belgija (18) - Bruxelles: Anderlecht, Molenbeek
Češka (16) - Praga: Slavija, Sparta
Farski otoci (10) - Torshavn: B36, HB
Italija (20) - Rim: Roma, Lazio
Latvija (8) - Riga: Riga, Skonto
Norveška (14) - Oslo: Lyn, Valerenga
Poljska (16) - Varšava: Legia, Polonia
Slovačka (10) - Bratislava: Artmedia Petržalka, Inter
Škotska (12) - Glasgow: Rangers, Celtic
Švedska (14) - Stockholm: Djurgardens, Hammarby
Ukrajina (16) - Kijev: Dynamo, Arsenal

Jedan klub:
Danska (12) - Kopenhagen: FC Kobenhavn
Finska (14) - Helsinki: HJK Helsinki
Francuska (20) - Pariz: PSG

Nula klubova:
Slovenija (10) - Ljubljana: nijedan

(Source: Sportal)

cheap hotels in Slovenia

fa cup / champions league soccer tickets

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Kiwis test Aussie patience

Kiwis test Aussie patience
Kiwis test Aussie patience

Following a dismal opening Hyundai A-League season, saying the New Zealand Knights lack credibility is somewhat of an understatement. Now, as if finishing a hefty 20 points adrift at the foot of the table in a 21-round competition wasn’t trying enough, the Kiwi franchise have continued to snub their noses at the Australian-based football authorities.

The Knights should exercise caution. Football Federation Australia (FFA) officials are hard taskmasters and although they view a New Zealand representative as a vital component to their thriving A-League, they have made it quite clear they'll not tolerate the consistent under-performance of yesteryear. The Knights' predecessors in the top-flight - the dubiously named Auckland Kingz - were a complete flop in the former national league. Poorly supported from the stands to the boardroom, they drifted into oblivion with the termination of the old regime.

Today's New Zealand offering are certainly more ambitious than the Kingz but a summary of results in their first 12 months hardly makes comfortable reading. The team produced a solitary win in the inaugural season and that away on the Central Coast denying a meagre local support even a glimpse of a home win. Gates were paltry in contrast to Australia's booming attendances, averaging under 4000 for the season and slipping to around 3000 as all bar the hardcore support voted with their feet.

For FFA Head of Operations Matt Carroll, a repeat is unthinkable. The steely Carroll recently even went as far as to suggest to the New Zealand Herald that he would not be concerned if "the Knights were the All Whites [New Zealand's national team] in a different strip".

"We are not saying they have to put out a team good enough to win the league but they have to be competitive," Carroll told the New Zealand daily. "And we have yet to see any signs of that.

"We would not look too hard if they showed us at least something with a largely New Zealand-based team. But we will not look too kindly if there is a repeat of what we saw this season.

"Ultimately we would like to see half their playing roster from New Zealand."

But it seems the Knights' English-born management duo of John Adshead and Paul Nevin are unfussed by Carroll's remarks. Nevin - himself a target following his recent emigration from London after a stint in charge of Fulham's reserves - rubbished the theory of selecting a squad based on their nationality. "We cannot justify another losing season simply by the inclusion of New Zealand players for the sake of their passport," he countered.

Indeed, rather than encouraging current All Whites home from Europe, the Knights have so far been happy to lower their Kiwi stocks. Current national team midfielders Jeremy Christie and Jeremy Brockie have departed the beleaguered club for Perth Glory and Sydney FC respectively. And the Knights recently lost out on star winger Leo Bertos who opted for a move to Perth after discussing his options with former Knights captain Danny Hay. Hay left John Adshead's side in acrimonious circumstances last season and clearly did his level best to paint his new club in the best possible light.

New Zealand's acquisitions to date are - to the surprise of many including Carroll - a pair of Australians. But, despite criticism from some quarters, Michael Turnbull and Richard Johnson will undoubtedly boost the Knights respectability on the pitch. Johnson, a 31-year ex-Socceroo midfield workhorse, enjoyed a stellar season with the Newcastle Jets before leaving after failing to agree a long-term deal. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Turnbull is a former Australian under-23 international who travelled with the party to the Athens Olympics.

Monday, April 3, 2006

MLS 2006 – Sowing Another Seed of Hope

The U.S. domestic league kicked off its second decade yesterday with survival still the key and a sense of established security still elusive.

Everyone is Europe asks if and when football is going to grow in America and the answer is still the same: Give it time.

If crowds are the measure of success then MLS is either stagnant or stable, depending on how you look at it. Attendances have stayed at around 15,000 over the past decade although some clubs do better than others. The LA Galaxy drew a respectable 21,677 average last season and new arrivals Real Salt Lake were second on 18,037 and Chivas USA fourth with 17,080.

The league is certainly in better financial health than before having jettisoned its lowly-supported teams, moved into new stadia and signed a recent $150 million sponsorship deal with Adidas, and will still leap at any opportunity to cash in if European clubs want to sign its players.

Last year the league took the unprecedented step of revealing some salary figures, which made interesting reading. Top of the pile was LA’s Landon Donovan on $900,000 but at the other end Chicago's Gonzalo Segares took home a measly $11,700.

Teammate Chris Rolfe, who recently played striker for the US National Team, collected a paltry $16,500 while fellow US international Clint Dempsey, who scored against England last summer and got the winner in the US' recent win over Poland, earned a modest $57,875, some way behind their European colleagues and light years behind the stars of America’s major sports leagues.

The new season sees the first franchise move in the league's history with the San Jose Earthquakes, one of the league's top teams, moving from Northern California to Texas to become the Houston Dynamo.

The Earthquakes had been losing money hand over fist renting a stadium from San Jose State University, and MLS, which still controls the clubs centrally, was not prepared to sustain the losses for another season.

Houston, the nation's fourth largest city with a substantial Hispanic and football-loving population, was an obvious candidate for expansion. But the initial team name of Houston 1836, with its commemoration of Anglo-American victory, offended that very Latin community the league had angled to appeal to, so the name was swiftly and embarrassingly changed to the less offensive Dynamo.

This was par for the course for MLS, which had seen two teams vanish (Miami and Tampa Bay) as well as four name changes in its first ten years.

There have been several such 'seminal' moments since MLS was born in 1996, the question remaining how many of these scattered seeds will truly take root in the long term. At least the days of playing on Astroturf with American Football markings, 35 yard shoot out to settle drawn matches and jazzy stadium announcements during the game are over.

Chicago will also open the nation's fourth professional soccer-specific stadium when they kick off in June at their 20,000 capacity Bridgeview home. Because of construction delays the Fire will oddly play their first nine games away and then have nine in a row at home from late June to mid August.

Five of the league's twelve sides will be playing in their own football-only stadia, which is the key to maximizing revenue and keeping the league going. A further four have stadium plans in place so the days of 15,000 crowds drowning in 80,000 seat NFL bowls should soon be over.

The Kansas City Wizards, owned by Lamar Hunt, founder of NFL's Superbowl, remain in limbo with a number of takeover possibilities after the billionaire passed on building a modest stadium for his team.

The fans are always eager for more teams but given one expansion team (Miami Fusion) folded after four years, the league is extremely wary and has insisted that only clubs with proper external financial backing and concrete plans for an exclusive stadium will be considered. On this basis, MLS has confirmed that Toronto will join the league in 2007 while several American cities continue to inspire rumours.

The quality of MLS play did not blind us again in 2005 although the MLS All-Star team beat Premiership Fulham convincingly 4-1 at the start of the season, a game US fans will recall for some time.

Reigning champions LA Galaxy are still the team to beat with Landon Donovan their talisman and 1990 World Cup veteran Cobi Jones still on their books.

From the opposing coast the New England Revolution, coached by former Liverpool midfielder Steve Nicol and England striker Paul Mariner, are also expected to mount a stiff challenge although could lose upcoming star Clint Dempsey and striker Taylor Twellman following their World Cup duties for the United States in June.

The big news though has been the name change of the Metrostars to New York Red Bulls. The team that began life as the long-winded New York/New Jersey Metrostars ten years ago has never approached the popularity of the New York Cosmos and their 70,000+ crowds of the late 1970s but at least will have their own stadium to play in before long in Harrison, New Jersey.

European fans will predictably pour scorn on a corporate naming of a team but although it is a first for US major league sport it is not for football – Philips SV Eindhoven and Bayer Leverkusen are just two who got there first in Europe.

The team colours and future stadium name will reflect the famous energy drink and although the price for this 'sell-out', divided between major investor-operator AEG and MLS, has not been confirmed, it has certainly exceeded the $26million the same company bought the LA Galaxy for in 1998.

"This is a seminal moment in the history of this team and this league," general manager and former US soccer icon Alexi Lalas told the media. On that we are all agreed, but will the seed flower or wither is the unanswerable question on everyone's lips.

Lastly there is the matter of the month of June. While MLS is in full flow, the World Cup will be going on in Germany. MLS Commissioner Don Garber has accepted that sooner or later they will have to fit in with FIFA's international calendar but for the moment the show goes on during football’s biggest tournament.

In 2002 the US reached the quarter-finals but the knock on effect on domestic crowds was not noticeable even though the majority of its players had been in MLS, a statistic that will be true again this summer.

While MLS grows slowly but surely, unless the US wins the right to host the World Cup again, which probably will not be until 2018, the national team's exploits on the world stage provide the only source of optimism for football getting a kick across the pond.

There will be millions stateside watching the 2006 tournament, many of them so-called 'soccer snobs' who disdain the domestic version, but one can only hope that out there in America, a land that rates domestic competition above all others, there are those whose interest will be sparked by the World Cup and who will then come and give Major League Soccer the fans it needs, and increasingly deserves. Sean O'Conor

Eastern Conference

Chicago Fire
Columbus Crew
DC United
Kansas City Wizards
New England Revolution
New York Red Bulls

Western Conference

Chivas USA
Colorado Rapids
FC Dallas
Houston Dynamo
LA Galaxy
Real Salt Lake


Sunday, April 2, 2006

J. League Results

J.League Results J1 Sat April 1

Yokohama F Marinos 1 FC Tokyo 1
Cerezo Osaka 2 Ventforet 3
Shimizu S-Pulse 2 Gamba Osaka 3


Sun April 2

Kyoto Purple Sanga 2 Avispa Fukuoka 1
Kashima Antlers 2 Ardija 1
Kawasaki Frontale 2 JEF United 2
Albirex Niigata 1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1
Urawa Reds 0 Nagoya Grampus Eight 0

J2 Sat April 1

Thespa 3 Montedio 1
Tokyo Verdy 69 2 Reysol 3
Yokohama FC 2 Hollyhock 0
Ehime 1 Vortis 1
Bellmare 0 Sagan 1
Vissel Kobe 0 Vegalta Sendai 1


World Cup Referees

World Cup Referees

Fifa has named 23 referees for the 2006 World Cup with 7 back-up officials. In all 36 referees were on duty in 2002 in Korea/Japan.

World Cup Referees

First Name | Surname | Country | Date of Birth

Essam Abd El Fatah Egypt 30/12/1965
Carlos Amarilla Paraguay 26/10/1970
Benito Archundia Mexico 21/03/1966
Carlos Batres Guatemala 02/04/1968
Massimo Busacca Switzerland 06/02/1969
Coffi Codjia Benin 09/12/1967
Frank De Bleekere Belgium 01/07/1966
Massimo De Santis Italy 08/04/1962
Horacio Elizondo Argentina 04/11/1963
Valentin Ivanov Russia 04/07/1961
Toru Kamikawa Japan 08/06/1963
Jorge Larrionda Uruguay 09/03/1968
Shamsul Maidin Singapore 16/04/1966
Manuel Mejuto Gonzalez Spain 16/04/1965
Markus Merk Germany 15/03/1962
Lubos Michel Slovakia 16/05/1968
Graham Poll England 29/07/1963
Eric Poulat France 08/12/1963
Peter Prendergast Jamaica 23/09/1963
Oscar Ruiz Colombia 01/11/1969
Mark Shield Australia 02/09/1973
Carlos Simon Brazil 03/09/1965
Kyros Vassaras Greece 01/02/1966

Note: Referees Batres and De Bleeckere are subject to fitness tests.

Seven referees, together with their assistants, have been nominated as back up officials in case of injury to any of the main group of 23 referees.

Khalil Al Ghamdi Saudi Arabia 02/09/1970
Carlos Chandia Chile 14/11/1964
Jerome Damon South Africa 04/04/1972
Mohamed Guezzaz Morocco 01/10/1962
Luis Medina Cantalejo Spain 01/03/1964
Marco Rodriguez Mexico 10/11/1973
Roberto Rosetti Italy 18/09/1967

Source: FIFA