Football Station


Bad Blood – Germany v. Argentina Preview

GERMANY – ARGENTINA

“BAD BLOOD”

Preview

July 3rd, 2010

When the ball drops Saturday in Cape Town and it will have nearly been a week since Germany and Argentina had secured their places in a mouthwatering quarterfinal fixture that has nothing less than a finals atmosphere.  Arguably the most anticipated quarterfinal matchup was created from two very similar second round matches as Germany sent home fellow European “rivals” England with their tails between their legs upon capitalizing on a Lampard goal-that-never-was that seemed to deflate any English momentum as the Germans went on to dismantle the absent English defense on second-half counter attacks.

The scuffle in Germany, 2006.

Argentina’s “Hand of God” sequel compliments of Italian referee Roberto Rosetti’s un raised arm seemed to take El Tri’s mind off of their game plan and more on exacting revenge by way of a half-time tunnel scuffle.  An early Tevez bullet after the break sent El Tri on a one-way ticket back to the beaches of Acapulco.  It’s fair to say that both teams arrived in the Quarterfinal on questionable circumstances.

Historical bad blood has sparked Germany’s captain-in-waiting Bastian Schweinsteiger to take the opening shot of what has developed into a war of words between the two heavily decorated sides. Schweinsteiger has recently accused the Argentineans of displaying a “lack of respect” during their second round tilt against Mexico. The German midfielder went on to cite that Diego Maradona’s squad are anything but reluctant to influence the referees in any way possible for their benefit. “It starts before the match. You see how they gesticulate, how they try to influence the referee. That is not part of the game. That is a lack of respect. They are like that. We should not be provoked by them.” Schweinsteiger continued to legitimize his claims by pointing out that this has been commonplace of the Argentinean mentality and character on the pitch.

It is clear that the Bayern workhorse has still not forgotten the post-game clash that erupted after Germany’s victory in penalties over Argentina that produce a clash between the players and coaching staff from both sides during the 2006 World Cup Quarterfinals. Schweinsteiger has come out and said that he has made it a point to remind his team-mates of their history and to not react to any Argentinean provocation come the start of Saturday’s showdown, which doesn’t seem to be quite a bad idea with the immense presence of the seemingly card-happy officiating thus far in the World Cup. (i.e. Kaka)

On the other hand, who was surprised to see the constantly outspoken Carlos Tevez presenting his rebuttal to the off-field German offensive? Not me.  Tevez combated Germany’s critiques of his side’s character by insisting that Mexico are a far more formable

The Manchester City man has been more than happy to have a spat with the Germans.

and fearsome squad than the one anchored by Schweinsteiger. “The Mexicans play better football. They took the ball from us in the first minutes of the first half and at the start of the second. We should have suffered more if we hadn’t struck at the right moments.”  Shortly after the Schweinsteiger comments, Tevez told Clarin that he was more afraid of Mexico than Germany despite an absolute showcase of pass and move counterattacking against the star-studded Three Lions.

It is clear that Tevez’s confidence may arise from the two sides’ last meeting during a Friendly match in Munich where Diego Maradona’s squad defeated the Germans 1-0 in a less than strenuous effort. When brought to his attention, Schweinsteiger seemed unmoved by this fact saying, “One, it was a friendly. Two, they did not create many chances either. Three, we have gained a lot of confidence by beating England and the good tactics we used in that game.” Those good tactics will undoubtedly need an encore against the South Americans who seem to be unstoppable at the moment, having not lost a single match yet during this year’s World Cup campaign.

The two sides look to be extremely well matched, which seems to be the reason for the sudden outburst of words from either camp as each team seems to be desperately looking for added ammunition to use as motivation in a quarterfinal match that looks to be as unpredictable as the Argentinean master and commander, Diego Maradona.

Liverpool hard man, Mascherano, will be key to stopping the young Mesut Ozil.

I have no doubts that either team will come out at their strongest to live up to either country’s immense expectations. Argentina has more than an adequate supply of attacking power with a laundry list of world class finishers (Higuain, Messi, Tevez, Milito, Aguero) but their defensive play has long been suspect. As if the England game doesn’t provide enough evidence, the Germans have a reputation of capitalizing on such weaknesses by utilizing the speed and width play of their youth movement. Look to Germany to continue their balanced and control-based passing game with calculated and organized counterattacks, which will test the nerve of Argentina’s back line.  Even more so than any other game, the capitalization of chances will be crucial for either side in a match where the sheer presence of world-class talent will be on full display.  I see Germany putting away at least one or two of these chances against a possibly more vulnerable back line than previously presented to them by England, where Argentina’s strike happy hit men will see fewer opportunities against a veteran German back line.  Ozil may play less a part in this game as he sizes up against Captain Javier Mascherano.  The latter is certainly capable of neutralizing any offensive threat in the world, and the German youngster is no different.  Still…

Prediction:

Germany 3 – 2 Argentina

– Eric Fortin



Champions League Preview

March 9th, 2010

ARSENAL v. PORTO

The Gunners will need a victory and a victory only in order to ensure their progression out of the last 16.  In the first leg of the tie, Arsenal gifted Porto a victory and will surely be coming out of the gates hard and fast from the opening whistle.  However, without their talismanic leader in Fabregas and their defensive stalwart in Gallas, Arsenal just may be prone to mistakes.

From Russia with love.

After losing Aaron Ramsey to the leg break, we may get a chance at seeing Rosicky and Eboue could be in line for a start.  Hulk will be the focus of Arsenal’s attention as the Brazilian has a knack of creating chances and causing chaos.  But can he take advantage of the injury-ravaged Arsenal squad?

Arsenal 3 – 1 Porto

FIORENTINA v. BAYERN MUNICH

“This is truly the game of our lives,” said Fiorentina captain Riccardo Montolivo.  After being unjustly beaten in Bayern Munich by a goal that should have disallowed for offside, Fiorentina will be itching to beat the Germans.  This second leg should prove to be quite a passionate game as Montolivo also was quoted as saying, “We will bring out all the anger that we have carried since the first leg at the Allianz Arena.”  Unfortunately for the Fiorentina, they will be without Adrian Mutu and Massimo Gobbi.  However, Jovetic, Gilardino and the addition of Vargas should be up to the task of dismantling Bayern’s defense, which will be without Demichelis.  Expect fireworks.

Fiorentina 3 – 2 Bayern Munich



Forget Madrid, Franck – Robben
September 23, 2009, 9:57 AM
Filed under: bundesliga, la liga | Tags: , , ,

One of next year’s transfer sagas is expected to revolve around Franck Ribery’s move from Bayern Munich to Real Madrid, a path that Arjen Robben trod in the opposite direction this summer.

The duo were on the last cover of German magazine Kicker under the headline ‘Robbery’ as a tribute to the effect that the two wingers were having for Louis Van Gaal’s side this season.

Two star-crossed lovers.

Two star-crossed lovers.

After Bayern’s 2-1 victory at the weekend against Nurnberg, Ribery apparently repeatedly refused to answer questions to the press as he left the ground, but Robben was more forthcoming.

“I wouldn’t advise him to go to Real Madrid because I want to play with him!” he joked in an interview with Noticias Cuatro.

With their debt of €327 million, it remains to be seen whether Ribery’s move would come about if los Blancos fail to win any trophies this season.

The Frenchman has also suggested that he may sign a new deal with the German side; his current contract expires in 2011.



No Bid For Ribery – Ancelotti
August 28, 2009, 9:59 AM
Filed under: bundesliga, premier league | Tags: , , ,

Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti has rejected fresh speculation they have made a bid for Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery.

The midfielder’s future was the subject of more summer rumours on Friday morning, with reports emanating from his native France that the Blues had offered £57million for him.

But Ancelotti simply said: “No that is not true.”

Meanwhile new boys Burnley will provide Chelsea with another potential banana-skin on Saturday.

Owen Coyle’s side dumped the Blues out of the Carling Cup last season and have made a fine start to life in the Premier League with victories over Manchester United and Everton.

Chelsea, second in the table, have a 100% record with wins over Hull, Sunderland and Fulham but Ancelotti is well aware of the task ahead – predicting an open game in the early kick-off at Stamford Bridge tomorrow.

“In these last three matches we played very well,” said Ancelotti.

“For sure, we can improve. But I didn’t find in these matches a lot of mistakes.

Is the signing of Robben a signal of intent from Bayern that they will sell Ribery?

Is the signing of Robben a signal of intent from Bayern that they will sell Ribery?

“The team played very well in these games. It’s important to continue and maintain a very good motivation.

“With Burnley, it’s important to take control of the game. They have good quality in attack and can use the wings, the long ball, and the quality of their midfielders. It will be an open game.

“They have had a very good start to the season – they beat Manchester United and Everton. I watched these games and they like to play football.

“Tomorrow will be a very good match, a spectacular match. They will not come to Stamford Bridge just to defend and I am impressed with the quality of their play.”

Chelsea will still be without midfielder Joe Cole, defender Alex, and new signing Russian Yuri Zhirkov against Burnley.

“Zhirkov is feeling a bit better and will go with the national team, if it’s possible, to play with them. He’s very close to a return to playing

“Joe started to train with us on Tuesday. With him, we have to stay calm because he came out not easy from the injuries. We have to stay calm and work with him.

“We have to put him in the squad at the right time. Now is not the time to do this, but we hope in the next few weeks that he can train and play with us.

“After the international games, we’ll be more precise on his return. But I think he’s very close to a return to playing.”



Champions League Draw in Full

The draw in full

Group A: Bayern Munich, Juventus, Bordeaux , Maccabi Haifa

Group B: Manchester United, CSKA Moscow, Besiktas, Wolfsburg

Group C: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Marseille, FC Zurich

Group D: Chelsea, Porto, Atletico Madrid, Apoel FC

Group E: Liverpool, Lyon, Fiorentina, Debreceni

Group F: Barcelona, Internazionale, Dynamo Kiev, FC Rubin Kazan

Group G: Sevilla, Rangers, VfB Stuttgart, Unirea Uriziceni

Group H: Arsenal, AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos, Standard Liege

Analysis:

Group A:  Group A will be a very interesting group to watch unfold.  Juventus, Bayern and Bordeaux all have a great chance of reaching the knockout rounds, but it may all come down to how each of them play Maccabi Haifa – the Israeli champions.  In my eyes, whoever drops points to Haifa, doesn’t make it to the next round.

Prediction:

Bayern Munich and Juventus progress

Group B: Manchester United will be disappointed with all the traveling they will be doing, especially to Turkey where the hooligans go mad every time United come to town.  Wolfsburg is also going to be a bigger threat than they’re given credit for, watch for them to nick points in group play.  The Russians will be a stingy opposition and may steal points in the Motherland, but away from home may struggle to find their feet.  Wolfsburg are my dark horse of the tournament.  I don’t think for a second they deserved the fourth pot, but now find themselves with a tall order.  They can push for the knockout round, and their match against CSKA Moscow will make or break their run.

Prediction

Manchester United and Wolfsburg progress

Group C: Group C, along with F, is a “group of death”.  Somehow, Madrid dodged the British bullet (which makes for a more exciting knockout stage!), and they should find themselves in the knockout round before too long.  AC Milan have had a dodgy start to their campaign, and if they don’t start clicking could start dropping points in group play.  Marseille have been a tough nut to crack in years past, and with the addition of Morientes to their attacking play, will give Milan and Madrid a test.

Prediction:

Real Madrid and AC Milan to progress

Group D: The boys from London should have a spot in the knockout round if they keep their heads about them.  The only thing I would worry about is that they’ve been giving up goals early in the EPL and come from behind to win it, and may well do so against more formidable sides in this competition who won’t be so forgiving.  Atletico are always impressive to watch and I don’t see anyone but those two making it past this group.

Prediction:

Chelsea and Atletico Madrid to progress

Group E: Liverpool can’t have too many complaints here, they were grouped with great teams in Lyon and Fiorentina, but, to be honest, they should be able to cope.  The Merseysiders should claim the top spot, but the second one is completely up for grabs.  Fiorentina and Lyon are both squads that have firepower up top (Mutu and Govou) and can work to break down their opponents.  Fiorentina would love to have Melo back in their squad as I have no doubt he’d love to break up the Frenchmen in attack.

Prediction:

Liverpool and Lyon (by a hair!) to progress

Group F: This is it.  The group of death. We have the reigning Spanish and European champions as well as the Italian and Ukrainian league winners.  I’ve had to keep my mouth shut all day so as not to drool all over my desk.  Mourinho vs. Guardiola.  Eto’o vs. Pique.  Ibrahimovic vs. Cordoba.  Chocolate vs. Vanilla.  Coke vs. Pepsi.  Bert vs. Ernie.

Prediction:

It’s not going any other way.  Barcelona on top, Inter taking second.

Group G: My pick (and yours if you have sense) for the tamest group.  Not a lot to gawk at here.  Rangers and Sevilla will probably make the next stage, as I don’t think Stuttgart have enough bite to make any marks here.  Unirea Uriziceni will just be happy to be in the competition, and will love the fact that they have be thrown into this group.

Prediction:

Rangers and Sevilla to progress (in that order)

Group H: Arsenal may have the best of the English teams, and Wenger will be hard pressed to find something to complain about (if you can believe that!).  But remember the torrid time Standard Liege gave Liverpool last season in the qualifying rounds, as they could give group H some trouble.  Gunners aside, this group is fairly balanced.  Each team will fancy their chances at nabbing the last spot into the knockout stages.

Prediction:

Arsenal and Standard Liege to progress




Ribery Back on the Market?
July 29, 2009, 2:12 PM
Filed under: Transfer | Tags: , ,

Franz Beckenbauer says Franck Ribery will remain at Bayern Munich unless the club receives an offer of around 94million euros.

The Frenchman continues to be linked with a move to Real Madrid despite Bayern’s insistence that he will not be sold.

All Franck.  All the time.

All Franck. All the time.

Real have strengthened their squad this summer with the signings of superstars such as Kaka, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Beckenbauer believes Ribery is worth just as much as Ronaldo and has made it clear that only a similarly staggering bid will prise him away from Bayern.

“All this noise is not necessary,” the president of the Bundesliga club told Sport Bild.

“Especially not when you have a new coach coming into the team, who wants to prepare it in a calm way and not having to deal with the Ribery issue every day.

“But should Bayern just give Ribery away? We naturally want what the market demands and if a Cristiano Ronaldo is worth 94millions euro then Ribery is worth a similar amount.

“And if this is not being offered then he will just have to stay with us as he has a contract until 2011.”

Analysis:  Just when you thought it was safe to bet on Ribery staying at the Allianz, the club president comes out and shakes things up.  Usually that’s the agent’s job. And honestly?  “All this noise is not necessary”?  The noise had subsided until YOU came out and made the statement! This just speaks unrest in the Munich camp.  Something doesn’t feel right, whether it’s behind the scenes or within the team.

Result:  Ribery will still stay at Munich.  No team in the world is going to make that sort of cash available, even Real Madrid.  Why would they?  They’re midfield isn’t exactly looking shabby with their new signings and it will still be a selection headache to select his starting XI without the mercurial Frenchman.  However, I’m calling on him to leave next summer, guaranteed.  He’s done all he can at Bayern Munich, he’s still young and will be looking to ply his trade elsewhere.  There are bigger and better things than the Bundesliga and I think Ribery wants to be apart of something bigger.



Transfer News – July 19th

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July 19th, 2009

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NEWS OF THE WORLD:


  • Rafa Benitez is ready to table a £20million offer for Ashley Young.
  • Peter Crouch is close to joining Tottenham in a £12million deal.

    Lescott is next up on Mark Hughes's wish list and valued at over £15m

    Lescott is next up on Mark Hughes's wish list and valued at over £15m

  • Chelsea are set to report Manchester City for “tapping up” John Terry.
  • Everton will demand £30million for defender Joleon Lescott.
  • Arsenal are poised to make a £10million offer for Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh.
  • Mido claims he is owed image rights money by Middlesbrough.
  • Matthew Upson is to be handed the West Ham captaincy.
  • Former Newcastle striker Lomana LuaLua is tempted by a switch to Stoke.
  • Hull want to take Manchester City striker Benjani on a season-long loan.
  • Bolton are closing in on Hull contract rebel Sam Ricketts.
  • DAILY STAR SUNDAY
  • Everton have told Manchester City Joleon Lescott will cost £30million.
  • Tottenham are ready to join Sunderland and Fulham in the battle for Peter Crouch.
  • Jason Scotland has sealed his £2million switch to Wigan from Swansea.
  • West Ham’s hopes of keeping Lucas Neill look finally to have been dashed.
  • Nottingham Forest are set to sign Chris Gunter, Dexter Blackstock and Paul McKenna.
  • Matt Kilgallon is ready to snub interest from Birmingham and Burnley by pledging his future to Sheffield United.
  • Rob Hulse is a target for Middlesbrough.
  • Gary Megson is ready to hijack Portsmouth’s £2million move for Hull’s contract rebel Sam Ricketts.
  • Aston Villa are keeping tabs on Leicester young gun Andy King.
  • Norwich will sign Preston winger Simon Whaley this week in a £100,000 deal.
  • Barnsley are set to complete a £600,000 deal for Charlton striker Andy Gray.
  • THE PEOPLE:
  • The Valencia playmaker is on Rafa Benitez's hit list

    The Valencia playmaker is on Rafa Benitez's hit list

  • Chelsea are ready to report Manchester City to the Premier League for tapping up John Terry.
  • Having failed with an £18million offer for Ashley Young, Tottenham are ready to beat Aston Villa in the chase for Leeds’ Fabian Delph.
  • Arsenal are to launch a cut-price move for Obafemi Martins.
  • Chelsea will make one last attempt to sign David Villa this week.
  • Manchester United want £2million for right-back Richard Eckersley, who has joined Burnley.
  • Portsmouth hope to re-sign Benjani from Manchester City.
  • James McCarthy is swaying towards joining Wigan ahead of Wolves.
  • Rafa Benitez will rubber-stamp Xabi Alonso’s £32million move to Real Madrid, providing he gets all the money up front.
  • Everton hope to complete a £3million deal for Rasmus Elm on Sunday.
  • Blackburn are looking at Croatian striker Armando Mance.
  • Wolves are winning the chase for £2.5million-rated Nantes midfield star Guirane N’Daw.
  • West Brom will move for Derby’s Paul Green if Jonathan Greening leaves the club.
  • Middlesbrough are set to sign Charlton captain Nick Bailey in a £750,000 deal.
  • SUNDAY MIRROR:
  • John Terry’s relationship with Chelsea is at breaking point.
  • West Ham are set to offer Matthew Upson their captaincy in a bid to keep him at the club.
  • Sulaiman Al Fahim’s takeover of Portsmouth is under threat from a Premier League investigation.
  • THE MAIL ON SUNDAY:
  • Chelsea and Tottenham are ready to offer David Beckham a Premier League lifeline.
  • SUNDAY EXPRESS:
  • Liverpool are closing in on David Silva, increasing the likelihood of Xabi Alonso joining Real Madrid.
  • SUNDAY MAIL:
  • James McCarthy admits he is still agonising over whether to join Wigan or Wolves.
  • Falkirk could be set to sign Dutch goalkeeper Barry Dietwig.
  • Craig Levein has handed Portsmouth kid Joe Collins the chance to win a deal at Tannadice.
  • Rumours Pure, unadulterated rumours from around the internet.  Many claim to have inside connections, or themselves be connected with clubs.  Don’t believe it all, but if it makes you feel better…go ahead and believe it.

    • Hull City are in talks with “bad boy” Joey Barton of Newcastle
    • Xabi Alonso’s move from Liverpool to Real Madrid is set to be finalized this week.  The money from the sale will be put towards long-time transfer target David Silva…as well as Alberto Aquilani of Roma for £12m.
    • John Terry’s father is urging his son to follow through with a move to Manchester City due to his high wages.
    • Marouane Chamakh is certain to sign at Arsenal, but will not fit into the starting XI.
    • Martin O’Neill is ready to part ways with in-demand winger Ashley Young with several top clubs vying for his signature.
    • Aston Villa have agreed an £8m deal to sign Fabian Delph from Leeds United.
    • Part of Emmanuel Adebayor’s departure was due to the fact that he didn’t get on well with several other team members.  Despite the fact that the manager rated him very highly, Wenger didn’t want to disrupt the chemistry.