Football Station


Good Riddance

France look down and out after falling 2-0 to a superior Mexican side.

At hardly any point did France ever look like challenging for 3 points, as they were selfish, ineffective and on completely different wavelengths.  It’s easy to put 11 names on the teamsheet, but far more difficult to make them perform.  Hugo Lloris was the only person in the French side that performed well.

The 22 year old Hernandez celebrates after rounding Lloris.

Javier Hernandez broke the deadlock in the 64th minute after barely sneaking past an offside trap and cooly rounding Hugo Lloris to net his first World Cup goal.

Only 15 minutes later, Eric Abidal brought down goal scorer Javier Hernandez again inside the penalty area to give the Tricolores a spot kick.  Cuauhtemoc Blanco, 37, became the 3rd oldest man in the World Cup to score a goal as he slid the ball into the bottom left corner, even with Lloris guessing the right way.

Do not take anything away from Mexico, as they played well in the counter attack and looked much more lethal going forward and creating chances.  Giovanni dos Santos and Javier Hernandez were the standout attackers for the North American side.

This leaves Mexico and Uruguay tied for top spot, separated only by goal difference, which Uruguay has the edge on.  This means France are left on the brink of elimination, and the question has to be asked…What the hell is Raymond Domenech doing?

Full article to follow

Domenech has a lot more to worry about that looking pensive in a photo shoot. He's out of a job.

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Set Your DVR For…Pt. 1

Group A –

– South Africa vs. Mexico –

The young Mexican will open up defenses in Group A.

Yep, the opening game.  It will be the first test for both sides hoping to make it out of one of the more exciting groups.  Recently marred by the Benni McCarthy scandal, the nation will be eager to get behind their boys and cheer the Bafana Bafana to victory. However, they are coming up against a battle ready Mexican side featuring the likes of Andrés Guardado, Giovanni Dos Santos, and Cuauhtémoc Blanco.  But, it is important to stress the effects that homefield advantage can have on a squad (cue 2002 South Korea).  Whatever happens in Group A, it should amount to some fireworks.

Prediction

South Africa 1 – 2 Mexico

– France vs. Mexico –

To say France has drastically underachieved in qualifying could be putting it lightly.  Les Bleus have one of the strongest rosters in the world, but have failed to live up to that potential.  Forever famous for his handball (the Hand of Gaul), Thierry Henry, the French’s leading scorer, will look to net early and often against a Mexican side that isn’t without its flaws.  Rafael Marquez has only just returned from injury and could be prime for a runaround, a fact that Franck Ribery knows assuredly, as well.  One of the only consistent performers for the French, and only recently, is goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.  The youngster has been in superb form for Lyon and will more than likely attract the attention of big European clubs in South Africa.

Snugglin'

Prediction

France 1 – 1 Mexico

Group B

– Argentina vs. Nigeria –

Most likely the most anticipated match-up of Group B, as the attacking flair of the Africans and the unrivaled talent in the striking

department of the Argentines should provide fireworks.  The Nigerian defense isn’t half bad either.  With the likes of Joseph Yobo, Danny Shittu and Taye Taiwo, they won’t be push overs.  However, when you consider the opposition of Messi, Tevez, Aguero, Milito and Higuain up front, it’s hard to be confident.  Expect a high scoring match with little being offered by either team to defensive standoffs.

Prediction

Argentina 4 – 2 Nigeria

Group C

England vs. United States –

There is a lot of buzz surrounding this match, as the two nations have an illustrious history.  Wartime foes and allies, fierce

So much Wayne. So much angst.

rivalries in sports (Ryder Cup anyone?) and the constant claim that the Americans will never be up to snuff in the footballing world.  And with a squad like England’s, it’s hard to argue…at least this time around.  Despite losing Rio Ferdinand and Gareth Barry (for the opener only), England still has plenty of bite.  Their pacy wingers will be eyeing up the slower Yank defense and licking their lips.  However, the Americans prosper as underdogs and have proved it before against Spain, Italy and nearly Brazil.  They also do have a few game changing players in their ranks in the likes of Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore.  Michael Bradley will surprise some critics at this World Cup for his stifling defensive work but will have his hands full with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard…especially if Ricardo Clark starts and keeps being useless.

Prediction

England 2 – 2 United States

Group D

….All.  The Germans look favorites to top the group, who could blame them?  They are historically dominant and just legit all the time.  Without Ballack, there will be a big hole in midfield that some undersized plugs will try to fill, but the Germans will still manage to oust this group.  The Ghanians will obviously be missing their star man, Michael Essien, but there is still hope as Asamoah Gyan will be a viable option up top and Sulley Muntari and Stephen Appiah will look to anchor down the middle of the park.  The big physical play of the Serbs could see them through this group as they have sufficient talent all over the pitch, namely defense. Aleksander Kolorov, Branislav Ivanovic, Neven Subotic and Nemanja Vidic…enough said.  They won’t allow many goals and won’t be devoid of goal scoring options up top.  The Australians might be the underdogs of this group, but not by too much.  Their defensive work, like the Serbs, could make up for any menace they lack going forward.  Brett Emerton, Lucas Neill and keeper Mark Shwarzer will be up to the task to snuffing out more than enough attacks.  The question is: can they hold off enough of them to get forward themselves to score?  We don’t think so.

Prediction

Germany to take top spot, with Serbia and Ghana slugging it out for second.  Slight edge Serbia.

Group E

Cameroon vs. Denmark

Simon Kjaer will be entrusted with stifling Samuel Eto'o

The two would-be runner up contenders will contend what we believe to be an intense contest.  This is backed up by a little guycalled Christian Poulsen.  He’s explosive, he provokes players and he’s violent.  After run ins with Francesco Totti, Gennaro Gattuso and Kaká, Poulsen has made a name for himself as a bit of a dirty player.  That coupled with the intensity sure to be building up within the Cameroonian midfield could lead to a show.  Don’t put it past Poulsen to make a racial slur, provoke one of the Lions.  That said, Cameroon have an iconic hitman in Samuel Eto’o, however that may be slightly scuppered by the big Danes, Daniel Agger and Simon Kjaer.  Cameroon are also dealing with internal team issues with Samuel Eto’o being called out by legend Roger Milla, essentially for being a baby.  Denmark will look to snuff out attacks with their big boys in back and counter through their young gun Nikolas Bendtner.

Prediction

Cameroon 1 – 0 Denmark



Up for Grabs for Group A

GROUP A –

1. South Africa

2. Mexico

3. Uruguay

4. France

Group A could be one of the trickiest groups to advance from, as every team will have a legitimate shot at clawing their way out.  The hosts will feel aggrieved to have the now-hated France squad thrown into their group.  However, home field advantage can do funny things to teams (Cue 2002 World Cup).

South Africa – The Bafana Bafana could come out deceptively strong in Group A with battle tested EPL players Steven Pienaar, Benni McCarthy and Aaron Mokoena (the captain) pulling the majority of the weight for the hosts.  Playing

Steven Pienaar with striker Bernard Parker

on their home turf will be key for South Africa, as the World Cup should work wonders for national pride (as well as the economy).  If you remember 2002, South Korea surpassed about everyones’ expectations by marching into the

semifinals of the tournament with the aid of their countrymen.  Steven Pienaar will be the spark plug that will ignite the South African engine.  His flair and work rate have dazzled at Goodison Park this season, and he will be looking to emulate his form for the Toffees in his national team colors.  It’s always a great thing to make the World Cup finals, but the nation will be gunning hard for one of the spots that sends them into the first round, and, all things considered, could actually be possible.

Mexico –

Nobody needs a second telling that Mexico are typically a card carrying tournament team.  With their recently returned (heavily) seasoned veteran Cuauhtemoc Blanco (37 years old) pulling the strings and up-and-coming sensations Giovani Dos Santos and Carlos Vela doing the footwork, El Tri should be favored to grab one of the top spots in Group A.  It also helps that they have a very adept keeper in Guillermo Ochoa.  However, it will still be a tall order as France is gifted in every position and Uruguay’s physical approach may disrupt their fluid build up play.  It won’t be a cake walk for El Tri, but if they stick to their guns and pass the way they know how, I’ll tip them to take top spot in the group.

Uruguay – Uruguay has two titles under their belt (sure they were in 1930 & 1950) and have a squad that may be capable of upsetting favorites Mexico and France.  Easily their top dogs are Ajax hitman Luis Suarez and Atletico Madrid Diego Forlan.  Forlan will be coming off a great win over Fulham in the Europa League final and will be looking to build off that.  Martin Caceres is a rising star in defense at Juventus and should sure-up the back line but will have his hands full with Nicolas Anelka, Steven Pienaar and Carlos Vela.  The rest of the back line could be relatively leaky for Los Charruas and could be their downfall.  Suarez and Lodeiro represent Ajax at the club level and are both fully capable of find ways to break down defenses in any group and shouldn’t be overlooked as a serious contender for a top spot.  Suarez is literally gushing goals for Ajax (49 goals this season in 48 appearances) and is one of the players to watch in Group A.

France – It’s hard to say anything positive about France still, as the infamous hand ball got them in the tournament

Gourcuff pulling strings for Bordeaux

and, if that isn’t enough, they get placed in the group where South Africa is the top seed.  The big man must really be looking out for Les Bleus.  That said, they should be the easy favorites for the group, but they failed to impress in any sense during qualifying and could flop as hard as they did in 2002.  France is a wild card and it is hard to predict which team will actually show up.  They won in 98, earned zero points in 2002 and made it to the final in 2006.  Nobody will know truly if they have a shot until kickoff, but it’s just so hard to look past their lineup.  When the spine of a team is Hugo Lloris, William Gallas, Lassana Diarra, Yoann Gourcuff and Thierry Henry, they should be tipped to win it all.  Not to mention, they have attacking dime pieces like Nicolas Anelka and Franck Ribery to tear apart defenses.  In terms of who to look out for?  I’ll put my money on the Gourcuff (Don’t believe me? Watch his goal against PSG), the midfield maestro is only 23, was named Ligue 1 player of the year for 08/09, made Ligue 1 team of the year  for 08/09 and 09/10 and was named French Football’s player of the year for 2009.

Prediction –

1. France

2. Mexico

3. South Africa

4. Uruguay



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.



Transfer News – September 2nd

DAILY MIRROR

* Daivd James fears for his World Cup place after being left stranded at crisis club Portsmouth.

* Burnley boss Owen Coyle hailed the sgining of striker David Nugent in a last-gasp loan deal from Portsmouth on deadline day.

* Gary Megson is backing Ivan Klasnic to solve Bolton’s chronic goalscoring problems after completing a loan deal for the Croatian striker.

DAILY STAR

* Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka is said to be angry and frustrated after discovering he will not be getting a new contract this season.

David James has been told to focus on Portsmouth and not showing pictures of himself to 8 year olds...no matter how much it boosts his esteem

David James has been told to focus on Portsmouth and not showing pictures of himself to 8 year olds...no matter how much it boosts his esteem

* Arsenal are set to appeal against UEFA’s decision to hand Eduardo a two-match ban for diving.

* Martin O’Neill was forced to sweat it out as he took his Aston Villa summer spending spree past the £40m mark last night.

* Steve Bruce last night blocked a deadline bid by Spurs to sign Sunderland defender Anton Ferdinand.

* Fulham snapped up Swedish striker David Elm on a one-year deal for £1m from Kalmar FF.

* Dutch defender Johnny Heitinga became Everton’s top earner last night in a beat-the-clock move to Merseyside.

* Portsmouth lost another of their big stars yesterday with Niko Kranjcar joining Tottenham in a £2.75m move.

* FA Cup sponsors E.ON have pulled the plug on their £35m deal.

* Rafa Benitez has become the first top boss to face the wrath of the FA over their new rules for criticising referees.

* Steve Harper has told Newcastle owner Mike Ashley to pull his finger out if he wants promotion this season.

THE SUN

* David Nugent finally ended his Portsmouth hell by securing a six-month loan move to Burnley bang on deadline.

* Niko Kranjcar insists he has not joined Tottenham as a stand-in for crock Luka Modric.

* Michael Ballack says Chelsea have been boosted by Liverpool’s rocky start to the season.

* Jamie Carragher has told Liverpool’s critics not to write them off – because they are the No 1 comeback kings.

* Emmanuel Adebayor says it will be like a family at war when he lines up against Arsenal in 10 days’ time.

* Manchester United and Real Madrid target Franck Ribery has blasted Bayern Munich boss Luis van Gaal in an amazing deadline-day outburst.

DAILY MAIL

* Aston Villa were given dispensation to complete a £5million deal for Richard Dunne last night as negotiations over his departure from Manchester City rumbled on past the 5pm deadline.

* Newcastle pulled off a coup by signing Manchester United defender Craig Cathcart on a season-long loan.

* Aidy Boothroyd will return to football today as the new manager of Colchester United.

* Stoke were beaten by the clock in an ambitious bid to sign Bayern Munich right back Christian Lell.

* Claudio Ranieri, the former Chelsea manager, is the new coach of Roma after Luciano Spalletti resigned yesterday following defeats in the opening Serie A games.

Ranieri...Claudio Ranieri

Ranieri...Claudio Ranieri

DAILY EXPRESS

* Ashley Cole will complete a new £120,000-a-week, five-year deal with Chelsea when he returns from England World Cup duty.

* Birmingham have signed Sunderland midfielder Teemu Tanio on loan until the end of the season.

* Harry Redknapp’s reputation as the master wheeler-dealer took a major hit on transfer deadline day.

* The Premier League’s Big Four reined in their spending yesterday to leave Everton’s £6million deal for Holland international Johnny Heitinga the biggest transfer in a low-key deadline day.

DAILY RECORD

* Celtic boss Tony Mowbray last night admitted he was delighted to snap up Chinese international Zheng Zhi after chasing him for more than a year.

* Jerome Rothen revealed he slammed the door shut on a glamour Premier League move to sign a deal with Rangers.

* Darren O’Dea signed on at Reading and then insisted he’ll be back up the road in no time to nail down his place as a Celtic stalwart.



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.”



Franck-O-Meter
July 29, 2009, 5:17 PM
Filed under: bundesliga, la liga, premier league, Transfer | Tags: