Tuesday, August 31, 2010

J. League Results August 29 2010

J. League Results August 29 2010.
J. League Results Sunday 29 August

Gamba Osaka 2 Jubilo Iwata 0
Shimizu S-Pulse 2 Kawasaki Frontale 0
Yokohama F Marinos 3 Albirex Niigata 0

Saturday 28 August

Urawa Reds 1 Kashima Antlers 1
Cerezo Osaka 2 Omiya Ardija 0
Vegalta Sendai 2 Shonan Bellmare 1
Nagoya Grampus 1 Kyoto Sanga 0
Vissel Kobe 0 FC Tokyo 0
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2 Montedio Yamagata 1

J.League Table

Nagoya Grampus P 21 Pts 44
Cerezo Osaka P 21 Pts 39
Shimizu S-Pulse P 21 Pts 39
Kashima Antlers P 21 Pts 37
Kawasaki Frontale P 21 Pts 35
Gamba Osaka P 21 Pts 34

Leading Scorers

Josh Kennedy, Nagoya Grampus 11
Edmilson, Urawa Reds 10
Cho Young Cheol, Albirex Niigata 10
Shinji Okazaki, Shimizu S-Pulse 10
Shoki Hirai, Gamba Osaka 10

Previous Results

J.League News

Friday, August 27, 2010

Champions League 2010-2011 Draw

Champions League 2010-2011 Draw.
Champions League 2010-2011 Draw

Champions League holders Inter will face debutants Tottenham Hotspur in this season's competition. Former Inter coach Jose Mourinho is now in charge at Real Madrid and the Spanish giants face AC Milan, Ajax, and Auxerre in what should be an easy group for Jose's team.

In Group C, Manchester United face Scottish champions Rangers in what could be a security nightmare for police and in Group E last year's beaten finalists Bayern face AS Roma, Basel, and Romanian side CFR Cluj.

Group A
Inter Milan, Werder Bremen, Tottenham Hotspur, FC Twente

Group B
Lyon, Benfica, Schalke, Hapoel Tel-Aviv

Group C
Manchester United, Valencia, Rangers, Bursaspor

Group D
Barcelona, Panathinaikos, FC Copenhagen, Rubin Kazan

Group E
Bayern Munich, AS Roma, Basel, CFR Cluj

Group F
Chelsea, Marseille, Spartak Moscow, Zilina

Group G
AC Milan, Real Madrid, Ajax, Auxerre

Group H
Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk, Braga, Partizan Belgrade

© Soccerphile.com

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Stockport County v Wycombe Wanderers

Stockport County v Wycombe Wanderers, Edgeley Park

Went to see my hometown team Stockport County take on Wycombe Wanderers in their League 2 home opener at Edgeley Park.

Relegated last season after going into financial meltdown, County look to have a battle on their hands to stabilize this season, but should have taken the three points against an equally poor Wycombe outfit.

© Soccerphile.com

Thursday, August 19, 2010


French Football

The verdicts on the 'Gang of Five' who destroyed the harmony of the French camp at the World Cup were announced just like any criminal trial's results, complete with mugshots of the offenders.

Nicolas Anelka, the instigator of the pathetic rebellion with his foul-mouthed attack on coach
Raymond Domenech, got an 18-game ban from the national team, Patrice Evra got five for failing in his captain's duties, Franck 'underage' Ribery got three as the ironically named vice-captain and Jeremy Toulalan must sit out one match me for penning the excruciating players' statement which the hapless Raymond Domenech read out to the press, willingly or not.

Anelka predictably laughed off the ban but is unlikely to wear bleu again, while the reaction from the French players' union, which blamed Domenech instead of the boorish players, showed it is not just England's PFA who stand up for overpaid yobs in public.

In view of the damage done to the national team, the hopes of millions of Frenchmen and women back home and their sense of self-pride, let alone the image of the country across the world, the punishments handed out were mild in the extreme. Never before have I heard people telling me they were ashamed to be French.

*** The Spanish press, well Marca and AS that is, are agog over Mesut Ozil's arrival at Real Madrid. What struck me was how meagre the fee was in the end for one of the world's most talented youngsters, who had an impressive first World Cup finals. At £12 million, Real have themselves a bargain, especially considering Manchester City have just shelled out more than twice that for the prosaic James Milner.

More proof that the Premier League still plays second fiddle to La Primera when it comes to bagging the top stars, and how England shoots itself in the foot, complaining about the lack of opportunity for its youngsters while hugely over-valuing the ones that do get the chance.

And what about Tottenham's exodus in the Champions League? 3-0 down after half an hour to a Swiss team lacking any star names; are English teams over-hyped as well as over-paid?

** FIFA's inspection team are currently being wowed in Russia by Vladimir Putin and others. Russia looked a dark horse at the start of the bidding race for the 2018 World Cup but seems to grow stronger all the time. That said, oligarch billions may not be enough to allay fears among the Executive Committee of the risks of 13 new stadia, long distances between venues and the permanent whiff of corruption that Russia brings. England still appears the safest pair of hands after the worries of South Africa and Brazil, but this race will go down to the wire, with second preference votes crucial for victory.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

J League Results August 17 2010

J League Results August 17 2010.
J League Results Tuesday 17 August

Albirex Niigata 4 Shimizu S-Pulse 1
Gamba Osaka 1, Kashima Antlers 1
Urawa Reds 1 Vegalta Sendai 1
Yokohama F Marinos 0 Montedio Yamagata 1

Playing Wednesday August 18

Kawasaki Frontale v Nagoya Grampus
Shonan Bellmare v Kyoto Sanga
Jubilo Iwata v Vissel Kobe
Cerezo Osaka v FC Tokyo
Sanfrecce Hiroshima v Omiya Ardija

J.League Table

Nagoya Grampus P 18 Pts 38
Kashima Antlers P 19 Pts 36
Shimizu S-Pulse P 19 Pts 36
Kawasaki Frontale P 18 Pts 32
Gamba Osaka P 19 Pts 31
Albirex Niigata P 19 Pts 31

Leading Scorers

Josh Kennedy, Nagoya Grampus 10
Shoki Hirai, Gamba Osaka 10

Previous Results

J.League News

Busy, Busy, Busy

Busy, Busy, Busy.

Korean football fans have a two-tier season. Not only does the K-League run from the end of February to the beginning of December, the European season and the overseas Taeguk Warriors, just recovered from the World Cup, are just getting started.

The best-known of these is, of course, Park Ji-sung. When he signed for Manchester United back in July 2005, few would have expected that he would be embarking on a sixth season at one of the world’s biggest clubs. This campaign promises to be one of the most open seasons in the English Premier League for years with the usual suspects such as United, Chelsea and Arsenal battling for the top prize with big spenders Manchester City adding an interesting extra element.

Park enjoyed a very good World Cup in South Africa and can expect to enjoy a fair amount of playing time over the next few months. The 29 year-old played a big part in the second half of the season last time round as United finished second behind Chelsea but struggled in the first half due to injuries sustained while in action for the national team.

So the sight last Wednesday of Park sitting on the bench in the second half of South Korea’s friendly match against Nigeria with ice strapped around his knee would have been a worry for fans of the Red Devils but Park is fit and raring to go, though he sat out the team's 3-0 opening match win over Newcastle United on Monday night.

Interest is always high in Park’s exploits with the 18-time English champions, now looking for a record 19th title, but many eyes will also be fixed just a few miles north of Manchester to see how Lee Chung-yong performs with Bolton Wanderers.

The winger joined the club in the summer of 2009 and immediately impressed. He was one of Bolton’s best players and contributed with five goals and a number of assists. What was more impressive is that Lee, still just 22, arrived at the start of the English season after over six months of football in Korea. The recent rest he had after the 2010 World Cup was his first break since the end of 2008. And after a good performance in South Africa, he is ready for another good season.

I had the chance recently to have to talk to Park Ji-sung at the National Football Center in Paju and he was fulsome in praise for his young national team colleague.

“He showed last season unbelievably well in the Premier League with Bolton,” said Park. “And then with the national team as well. He is a player who is getting bigger in the national team as well. So, hopefully, he will get more experience and he can take my place.

“He is very talented. He has good skills, a good mentality and is good physically, he may not be physically strong yet but he can learn all that. He is smart and, hopefully, can continue growing in this way to become the best player in our country.”

The Seoul media is also a fan of Lee but is concerned that he may fall victim to second season syndrome as he is no longer an unknown quantity. That remains to be seen though Lee himself recently admitted that he was taken aback at just how well his first season in England went.

“At first I was worried because it was my first time playing in a European league. But I was so surprised that everyone was welcoming, my team-mates and the fans," said Lee.

"My ambition was to play as many games as I could. Now I have done that, I am proud of what I have achieved. The pressure was not on me as there was no expectation as I was unknown here. I like a quiet life so living in England suits me as player."

North of the border, two World Cup stars play for Scottish giants Celtic. Ki Sung-yong arrived in Glasgow in January. The 21 year-old didn’t get much playing time but that looks likely to change this time around as he has been active in midfield in the club’s pre-season. He has been joined at Parkhead by right-back Cha Du-ri.

The remaining veteran of South Africa playing in Europe is Park Chu-young. The striker, just turned 25, impressed at the World Cup after two good seasons in France with AS Monaco. He could be on the move before the August 31 deadline.

Moves to England are still rumoured but not with the same intensity of a month ago. Still, in football, you never quite know what will happen and that is the beauty of the game as will be demonstrated once more over the coming months –both in Europe and Korea.

Copyright: John Duerden & Soccerphile.com

Sunday, August 15, 2010

51 and counting

51 and Counting

51 and counting.
51 and counting
As if FIFA were not in enough hot water already over goal-line incidents.

In an interview with Germany's Focus magazine, President Sepp Blatter made an extraordinary admission that football's governing body was considering abolishing draws and extra-time in World Cup finals matches.

According to Blatter's admission, penalty shoot-outs could replace ties in the group games, while, mirabile dictu, the 'golden goal'
could make a return to the knock-out stages in order to spice up extra-time before another shoot-out, if necessary.

What has prompted this sudden revelation of another p
otential volte-face, following FIFA's u-turn on technology last week?

Blatter is presumably reacting to the meagre 2.27 goals-per-game average from the 2010 World Cup, the second-lowest on record, narrowly beating Italia '90's 2.21 haul.

World Cup.
World Cup 2010
The opening round of two games per group yielded only 1.6 goals on average, with nothing beyond Germany's 4-0 trouncing of Australia to write home about. The tournament was dull in footballing terms, with the exception of Germany's brief but fantastic foray to the semi-finals, which yielded a rich harvest of breakaway goals and sent the lumbering old battleships of England and Argentina spiraling to the bottom with aplomb.
But a resoundingly negative final littered with bookings, gamesmanship and brutal tackles put an unhappy seal on what should have been a carnival of football. At the climax of Sepp's big show, the watching world was left unhappy and even the winners Spain took their crown having netted fewer times (eight in seven games) than any previous champions. Blatter felt responsible.

South Africa after all was the President's baby from the moment he first garnered African votes to win the top job in football with the promise of a World Cup hosting in return. Perhaps he is over-reacting to the bad impression the finals lef
t on the field, or indeed looking to be a pro-active president as a re-election looms in 2011, although his throne looks safe.

With UEFA increasingly strutting its stuff and steaming ahead with its own innovations such as the extra linesmen, FIFA does not want to be seen to be an ostrich with its head in the sand, and while it is reassuring that they are ope
n to change and eager to improve the aesthetic experience of top-level soccer, this latest shock still begs two questions - if it ain't broke, why fix it and if it is broken, what can we do?

We can all agree on the need for more attacking and entertaining football, though we surely do not want as much scoring as in basketball. Yet short of increasing the size of the goals to gargantuan proportions or reducing the number of players per side, can anything realistically be changed

Is doing away with extra-time going to increase the amount of attacking play over 90 minutes? And will teams determined to play for spot-kicks anyway not welcome a half-hour less in which to have to run around? This has been tried before of course in many competitions.

Abolishing draws in the NASL and later, MLS, was resoundingly unpopular with fans, players and coaches. Replacing the award of a hard-earned point with the lottery of penalties left honest teams unpaid for having clawed back a deficit, and superior sides equally penniless for having failed to break down a stubborn defence only to lose on spot-kicks. So it seems unthinkable that if American fans succeeded in binning the shoot-out after four miserable seasons, FIFA is all set to re-introduce it at the highest level.

'Golden goal' was another aberration best confined to the annals of past mistakes we have learnt from. Introduced as a compromised response to the dissatisfaction with the penalty shoot-outs of the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, golden goal, where the first goal in extra-time wins, debuted in Euro '96, when Oliver Bierhoff's 95th minute strike handed the trophy to Germany.

Laurent Blanc sent France through to the last eight of the 1998 World Cup with a golden goal in Lens, while at Euro 2000 the French were again the beneficiaries with a Zinedine Zidane penalty in the semi-final and a David Trezeguet winner in the final. Three years later on home soil, Thierry Henry bagged another golden goal to win the Confederations Cup.

The evidence of golden goal improving the contest as a whole was inconclusive. In fact, the spectacles of both the Euro '96 and Euro 2000 finals seemed to have been terminated prematurely by the rule, when it was the maximizing of entertainment which had lain behind its imposition in the first place.

Its penultimate hurrah came in the 2002 World Cup, when Senegal and South Korea advanced to the last eight and Turkey to the last four on golden goals. When it was quietly abolished by FIFA's International Board (IFAB) in 2004, there were few mourners and since then there has been no clamour whatsoever to revive it. Nor has UEFA's short-lived silver goal of Euro 2004 (whoever leads after 15 minutes of extra-time wins) been sorely missed by anyone.

No, if improving the spectacle is the aim, an already-failed experiment is not the means again.

Blatter must be feeling the strain of South Africa to have plucked this comedy rabbit out of the hat so soon after the finals. Some time in the Swiss Alps or some R&R beside Lake Zurich might be just the ticket in order for him to regain his composure.

As a German journalist immortally commented to Brian Glanville - "That man (Blatter) has 50 ideas a day, and 51 of them are bad."

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

World Cup Posters

Friday, August 13, 2010

Goal-line technology inches closer

Fifa Watch

Sepp Blatter
Sepp Blatter has confirmed that adopting goal-line technology will formally be discussed at FIFA's International Board meeting in October.

However, the FIFA President, speaking at the Youth Olympics in Singapore, sounded a note of caution that cameras or microchips are anywhere close to introduction.

"It would be a nonsense if we did not reopen the file of technology," said Blatter. "If we have an accurate and simple system then we will implement, but so far we have not had a simple nor an accurate system."

Over the line
This claim flies in the face of Hawkeye's use in tennis for years, documentation backing Cairos, a micro-chip inserted into balls made by Adidas, FIFA's favourite manufacturer, and television replays, as used in rugby. Blatter once more dismissed video replay as a disruptive intrusion into football, insisting goal-line technology was the only possibility on the agenda.

Pressure on the the President to budge is not letting up. Blatter made reference to refereeing mistakes in the tournament he is currently attending, while later that evening Hungary were awarded a goal against England at Wembley that replays showed had not crossed the line.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

World Cup Posters

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

FIFA International Date Results

FIFA International Date Results

The World Cup is over; tonight's international friendlies began a new era and prepared teams and fans for the first slew of new tournament qualifiers in early September.

FIFA International Date Results

International Friendlies - selected scores; 2010 World Cup qualifiers in bold

Tues 10th Aug 2010
Italy 0:1 Ivory Coast (London)

Weds 11th Aug 2010Mexico 1:1 Spain
USA 0:2 Brazil
South Korea 2:1 Nigeria
Russia 1:0 Bulgaria
Finland 1:0 Belgium
England 2:1 Hungary
Armenia 1:3 Iran
Ukraine 1:1 Netherlands
Sweden 3:0 Scotland
Czech Rep 4:1 Latvia
Slovakia 1:1 Croatia
Turkey 2:0 Romania
Serbia 0:1 Greece
Denmark 2:2 Germany
Austria 0:1 Switzerland
Poland 0:3 Cameroon
South Africa 1:0 Ghana
Eire 0:1 Argentina
Slovenia 2:0 Australia
Norway 2:1 FranceAngola 0:2 Uruguay (Lisbon)

Thu 12th Aug
Paraguay v Costa Rica
Panama v Venezuela
Bolivia v Colombia

- Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile 

World Cup Posters

Fifa World Rankings 11 August 2010

Fifa World Rankings 11 August.
Fifa World Rankings, August 2010

Fifa's World Rankings were announced today with very few changes. World Cup winners Spain remain in top spot followed by The Netherlands, Brazil and Germany.

England are in 7th place, while Argentina are in 5th.

Egypt is the highest African team in 9th. The USA is down to 18th.

1 Spain
2 Netherlands
3 Brazil
4 Germany
5 Argentina
6 Uruguay
8 Portugal
9 Egypt
10 Chile
11 Italy
12 Greece
13 Serbia
14 Croatia
15 Paraguay
16 Russia
17 Switzerland
18 USA
19 Slovenia
20 Australia

Full world rankings

Previous Fifa World Rankings

© Soccerphile.com

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Capello's England pick up the pieces

Capello's England

Capello & Rooney
International friendly - England v Hungary, Wembley, Weds 11th Aug 8 pm
Three major European nations came a cropper in South Africa.

Italy's ageing heroes went down fighting to Slovakia but could not stop the holders going home after the first round. France imploded in mutinou
s rancour, while England scraped through the group stage only to be humiliated by a rampant young Germany side.

Raymond Domenech
and Marcello Lippi exited stage left but Fabio Capello remained in his job. There was little option for the Football Association, given that they had put pen to paper with a hefty two-year contract extension, the cancellation of which have cost them a pretty penny. Capello's admission that he expected failure in Africa while hastily jettisoning his employers' escape clause has cast him in a mercenary light.

Tomorrow at Wembley he returns to the limelight for the first time since his team and his reputation as a gre
at coach were battered into the soil of Bloemfontein. With some irony, England's first opponents after their worst ever World Cup debacle are the ones who first exposed the Three Lions' tactical shortcomings and slew the myth of English invincibility.

Before 1953, England were still widely considered 'the masters' of the game in 1953 when the Mighty Magyars, the reigning Olympic
champions, showed up at Wembley. Little did the 105,000 spectators coming through the gates know that a footballing trauma was in the offing, and some of them were surely still making their way through the turnstiles when Nandor Hidegkuti fired past Gil Merrick in the opening minute. If they had entered in hope they left in horror and stunned admiration.

England v Hungary.
England v Hungary
To say Hungary's 6-3 victory was a jolt to the English psyche would be an understatement. The Three Lions went into soccer shellshock having being out-thought and out-gunned for 90 minutes by a team light years ahead in formation and tactics. 57 painful years (1966 apart) since that historic first home defeat by an overseas nation, what have we learnt? Barely six weeks ago, England were once again embarrassed by the superior tactics of a fellow European nation, as Germany exposed the obsolete rigidity of their favoured formation.

For the WM read 442, the latter shape now clearly bypassed by the 4231. Uruguay, it is true, took fourth place at the World Cup playing 442 but with a fluidity and technical finesse England's heavy legs could not match. While 442 is a shape easily-understandable to players, the gaps it leaves between its lines and the holes it leaves in midfield were starkly exposed in South Africa.

Capello has wisely shown a willingness to listen by immediately selecting a slew of young guns for his first friendly fixture since Bloemfontein, but the nagging doubt remains that England's current crop do not have the footballing brains to reach the level of Spain, the Netherlands or their conquerors, Germany.

Sven-Goran Eriksson let slip in private that he thought English players were not intelligent enough to compete for the big prizes, lacking the mental flexibility to adapt to different playing systems and understand the phases of the game.

Eriksson is largely considered a mild failure for guiding England to two World Cup quarter-finals, yet with the hindsight of two successive coaching calamities, his reign appears all the more impressive.

There is some truth in the accusation that England still think 'attack, attack, attack' when the going gets rough. When Germany scored their decisive third
with 23 minutes remaining, there were nine red shirts buzzing around the opposing box, the sort of numbers you should only hurl forward in injury time.

England's limitations are exemplified by the almost identically speedy yet uncreative wingers they took to South Africa. Aaron Lennon and Shaun Wright-Phillips hared up the flanks but produced next to nothing of note, while Theo Walcott, left at home, is cut from the same cloth, famously lacking a footballing brain as Chris Waddle said.

While Germany's ace was their razor-sharp counter-attacking
strategy, a move clearly honed on the training field, England were looking to their stars Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard to conjure up moments of magic, which never arrived.

In their fascinating book, 'Why England Lose', financial writers Simon Kuper and Stefan Szyminski argue that soccer success at the international level is dependent on a combination of population, GDP and an amorphous factor they call 'football experience'. While this explains Germany's and Brazil's historic triumphs it does not account for the prowess of the Netherlands, a country a third the size of England and with similar GDP but less football experience, who have reached three W
orld Cup Finals and won the European Championship.

It remains the case that England's national football culture stresses individual endeavour and physical prowess above team telepathy. Greece proved in Euro 2004 that you do not need the best players to triumph in the end but rather a system that works so well the individuals melt into the background. The most impressive England performance in living memory, the 4-1 demolition of Holland at Euro '96, was clearly down to Terry Venables' inspired system, and prompted no less than Guus Hiddink, the Dutch coach that evening, to claim - "They taught us a lesson in possession
and the use of space" - England?
Until the national mindset from school level upwards is changed to one of 'team first, me last', England will surely continue to disappoint at the highest level. It may take years before they can win a World Cup, but they cannot short-cut the process. The FA always promise a root-and-branch reform of the game after an exit or failure to qualify for a tournament, yet one never materialises as officials keep their heads down and avoid the blame and the national team quietly goes back to its ineffective practices.

England needs far more clubs and players, far more qualified coaches at all levels and a sea-change in the coaching mentality towards tactical sophistication and away from the fixation with 'passion', 'belief' and what the Itailans call fantasistas.

So while England will probably beat Hungary on Wednesday and sail through to Euro 2012, a similar fate to South Africa awaits in Eastern Europe in two years' time. History teaches us that English football's expectations mask a stark reality. In order to win Euro 2012, Capello, whose biography Gabriele Marcotti bravely subtitled 'Portrait of a Winner', really needs a miracle.

- Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Monday, August 2, 2010

J. League Results August 1 2010

J. League Results August 1 2010.
J. League Results Saturday 31 July

Urawa Reds 0 Omiya Ardija 1
Kashima Antlers 3 Vissel Kobe 0
Yokohama F Marinos 0 Nagoya Grampus 2
Albirex Niigata 2 FC Tokyo 1
Jubilo Iwata 0 Cerezo Osaka 3

Sunday 1 August

Gamba Osaka 1 Montedio Yamagata 0
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 3 Kyoto Sanga 0
Kawasaki Frontale 3 Vegalta Sendai 2
Shonan Bellmare 3 Shimizu S-Pulse 6

J.League Table

Kashima Antlers P 15 Pts 33
Shimizu S-Pulse P 15 Pts 26
Nagoya Grampus P 15 Pts 25
Kawasaki Frontale P 15 Pts 21
Cerezo Osaka P 15 Pts 20
Urawa Reds P 15 Pts 20

Leading Scorers

Josh Kennedy, Nagoya Grampus 9
Shoki Hirai, Gamba Osaka 8
Edmilson, Urawa Reds 7
Renatinho, Kawasaki Frontale 7
Kazuma Watanabe, Yokohama F Marinos 7
Ryoichi Maeda, Jubilo Iwata 7
Shinji Kagawa, Cerezo Osaka 7

Previous Results

J.League News

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