Monday, June 30, 2008

Have You Seen This Goal?

I bring to you the 5th installment of the Goal of the Week.

What else could this weeks goal be then Fernando Torres game winner for Spain against Germany in the Euro 08 finals.

This could be the most important goal in Spain's history.

The last angle gives the best view.

Deco to Chelsea

Chelsea have officially completed the signing of Portugal international and former Barcelona man, Deco.

Deco said, "It is good for me to be here and first of all I am very happy to be here. I am sure I have come at the right time to do great things and be able to help Chelsea go back to the way it was and come back to being the first one, not only in England but also to win the Champions League that has been their dream for so long." 

No fee has been confirmed, but the rumored transfer fee is 10 million euro, with Deco signing a 2 year deal.

Deco will be a great pickup for new coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

This signing could pave the way for Frank Lampard to complete his rumored move to Inter.

What do you think of the signing?

Xavi Voted Euro 08 Top Player

UEFA voted Spain's Xavi as the Euro 08 top player of the tournament.

Andy Roxburgh who was a member of the selection group said that, "We have chosen Xavi because he epitomizes the Spanish style of play. He was extremely influential in the whole possession, passing and penetrating kind of game that Spain played."

The Team of the tournament was also released:
Buffon (Italy)
Casillas (Spain)
Van der Sar (Netherlands)

Bosinga (Portugal)
Lahm (Germany)
Marchena (Spain)
Pepe (Portugal)
Puyol (Spain)
Zhirkov (Russia)

Altintop (Turkey)
Modric (Croatia)
Senna (Spain)
Xavi (Spain)
Zyryanov (Russia)
Ballack (Germany)
Fabregas (Spain)
Iniesta (Spain)
Podolski (Germany)
Sneijder (Netherlands)

Arshavin (Russia)
Pavlyuchenko (Russia)
Torres (Spain)
Villa (Spain)

9 of the 23 players are from the Spanish team.

What do you think of Xavi being named as Player of the Tournament, and the "All Star Team?"

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Spain Are the Champs!

Perennial underachiever's Spain defeated early tournament favorite Germany 1-0 to win the Euro 08 tournament.

This victory was Spain's first championship since the 1964 Euro.

Struggling striker Fernando Torres scored in the 33rd minute off a great pass from Xavi Hernandez.

This championship capped off a great tournament by Spain, as they were undefeated in the tournament.

My friend Ben has been spending the summer in Madrid, and he's told me how crazy the celebrations have been with each Spanish win. I can only imagine the celebrations in Spain tonight.

This game capped off what was a really enjoyable Euro tournament.

What did you think of the game, and the Euro 08 tournament?

Adebayor, Selfish?

I read a story in which Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor said that he will play like Theirry Henry when he is paid like Thierry Henry.

Now to me, this seems like an intentional arrogant statement, in order to either get a pay raise, or get an easy transfer.

Adebayor's current salary is 30,00 euro a week, and he wants that salary raised to 120,000 euro a week, a 400 percent pay raise.

Adebayor in his 6 seasons in professional soccer has never gotten over 12 goals in a season, except for this year in which he got 30.

Adebayor said, "Either Arsenal give me what I want and I stay, or they don't and I leave."

I personally think that Adebayor needs to prove that he can consistently produce for more then one season, if he is expecting to get that kind of pay. A lot of average players can get 30 goals in a season...not many can do it year after year, which a 120,000 a week salary should demand.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tell Me This Isn't True!

I just came across some disturbing piece of news.

Former FIFA President Joao Havelange is claiming that the 1966 and 1974 World Cup's were fixed, in order for England and Germany to win.

The only thing I knew of the 66 World Cup was that England won, but there are some other facts that are interesting, when you consider the claim by Havelange.

Apparently, during the 1966 World Cup, during England's semifinal matchup against Argentina, Argentina's captain was given a straight up red card for arguing with the ref. During this game the ref was German, while in Germany's game the ref was English.

Havelange's quote was this, "In the three matches that the Brazilian national team played in 1966, of the three referees and six linesmen, seven were British and two were Germans."

Also, "Brazil went out, Pele 'exited' through injury, and England and Germany entered into the final, just as the Englishman Sir Stanley Rous, who was the President of FIFA at the time had wanted. In Germany in 1974 the same thing happened. During the Brazil-Holland match, the referee was German, we lost 2-0 and Germany won the title."

As we have seen with Serie A, and recently FC Porto, matches can be fixed, but the entire World Cup? That seems a very difficult task to do, even with the ref's on your side. 

Do you think the World Cup's of 1966 and 1974 were fixed?

Spain Are In!

Three second half goals gave Spain a relatively easy 3-0 win over Russia, to book a place in the Euro 08 finals.

This victory did come at a price however, as the leading scorer of the Euro tournament David Villa, will miss the finals with a muscle strain.

Russia looked more like the team that lost 4-1 to Spain in the group stage, rather then the team that was on a great run and dominated the Dutch. Russia's lack of offense can be contributed to Andrei Arshavin's lack of success in breaking down the Spanish defense. Russia was only going as far as Arshavin could take them, and he couldn't do much today.
On a side note: Why is Arshavin crying? This man is about to make more money then he ever has in his entire life when he most likely signs with Barcelona...His soccer career is only going to get better...

Spain's depth was a key factor in today's win as Cesc Fabregas was able to come off the bench following Villa's injury in the 34th minute, and really provide a spark.

The scoring started in the 50th minute when Xavi redirected a David Silva shot into the net. In the 73rd minute Daniel Guiza got his second goal of the tournament off a nice pass over the top of the defense by Fabregas. The game was put out of reach in the 82nd minute, when Silva got the goal he deserved, another shot assisted by Fabregas.

The defense of Spain, which was the primary concern as to whether or not Spain could go all the way, did a great job of shutting down the suddenly dynamic Russian attack. Casillas wasn't forced to do much, seeing as Russia only controlled the ball for 35% of the time, but when he was called upon he played well.

Spain's win sets up a meeting with Germany, the team that many believed would win at the start of the tournament. Like I said in my Euro 08 Preview I figured Germany and Spain would be one of the 5 contenders to win. 

My Prediction: Both teams thus far have been slightly underperforming, but doing enough to win games. At first look you have to think Germany will have the edge against Spain, as they hold a 4- 1-2 record against Spain in competitive games. At current form Spain is playing better, but a Spain team without Villa should lose to Germany in the finals.


Arrivederci! Donadoni Out! Lippi In!

Roberto Donadoni has been removed from his position of coach of the Italian National Team.

This news comes only days after Italy was knocked out of the Euro 08 tournament by penalty kicks against Spain.

Donadoni has said that its a shame his career was ended due to a game decided on penalties.

Marcello Lippi for those that don't know, was the coach of Italy when they won the world cup in 2006. 

In my opinion, the team has not been the same since he left. 

While it is a shame that Donadoni's career was decided on a close game vs. Spain, Italy's performance in this tournament was less then great.

Pay Per Post

Hey everyone, I don't usually do this kind of stuff, but if you guys have your own blog you should check out the website

I heard about this site from one of my friends who also has a blog. He said this site was good so I should check it out, and I did.

Its sick because there are people out there that will pay you to write about stuff your already writing about. The part I like most about the site is the fact that you can pick and choose which offers from people you would wanna write about. 

Like for me, there are people that would pay me to write stuff about soccer. I figure you might as well get paid for writing, seeing as we put in a lot of hours updating our blogs. With the money I get from this website, I can probably afford to buy more soccer gear. 

Pay per Post really is a great site to use. Everything on the website is easy to find, and any help that you need is provided for you.

So check it out if you want.

Like I said before I usually don't do this kind of stuff, but I wouldn't tell you about it if I didn't think it was worth it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lightning Strikes, But Not For Turkey

Germany got a late goal from Philip Lahm to win 3-2 over Turkey, and earn a place in the Euro 08 finals.

I didn't get to see this live however, because of the lightning strike that knocked out the TV signal to most of the world.

Turkey looked to be on their way to advancing to their first ever final in a major tournament through the first 20 minutes. Turkey controlled the play and Ugur Boral scored in the 22nd minute to give them a 1-0 lead.

This goal seemed to wake up Germany and only 5 minutes later Bastian Schweinsteiger put in a cross from Bayern Munich teammate Lukas Podolski to tie the game at 1-1.

Both teams had chances in the 2nd half, but Germany took the lead in the 79th minute after Miroslav Klose finally got a goal in the Euro tournament. Turkey goalie Recber Rustu came out for a ball he had no chance of getting, and Klose headed in the easy goal.

Of course a game with Turkey in it wouldn't be right without a comeback, and Senturk provided the equalizer in the 86th minute for Turkey.

Everyone was set for extra time until Lahm scored in the 90th minute to earn Germany the win.

This is a tough loss for Turkey to take. Their team was destroyed with injuries and suspensions, and will a full squad, could have beat the German team they faced today.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Totti and Nesta to the Rescue?

According to a report from the Corriere dello Sport, currently internationally retired Italians Francesco Totti, and Alessandro Nesta will rejoin the Italian national team for the 2010 World Cup.

This move is most likely based on the impending return of former Italy coach Marcello Lippi.

Totti has not played for Italy since the last World Cup, while Nesta played in 1 Euro 08 qualifying game against Georgia in October of 2006.

Totti has 9 international goals in 58 appearances, while Nesta has made 78 appearances for Italy.

If this is true, it would be great news for Italian fans. 

Monday, June 23, 2008

Latest Transfer Talk

With no Euro games going on until Wednesday, lets check up on the latest transfer talk around Europe.

Nasri to Arsenal

Young French international Samir Nasri has confirmed on his website that he will be going to Arsenal.

His websites lists a signing figure of 15.8 million euro.

The exact quote from his website is, "We inform you with the news that Samir Nasri will not be an Olympique de Marseille player next season. We also tell you that he has signed a 4 year contract with the London club Arsenal."

What do you guys think of the signing?

Adebayor and/or Arshavin to Barcelona?

A weird triangle of sorts is starting up between Barcelona and Arsenal involving Adebayor and Andrei Arshavin.

Barcelona has been talking of signing Adebayor for a few weeks now, but Arsenal seems to be unwilling to sell unless they can get enough money to sign a suitable replacement.

Recently, that replacement is rumored to be Russia's Euro 08 star Andrei Arshavin.

Arsenal would like for Barcelona to make an offer for Adebayor worth enough money to help them get Arshavin and have money left over.

However, recent news from Arshavin himself say that he would love to go to La Liga more then any other league in Europe. This news might tempt Barcelona to make an offer themselves for Arshavin.

If Arshavin does go to Barcelona, it might leave Adebayor at Arsenal next season, or AC Milan might come back into the picture and sign him for a huge offer.

Juventus to Bid on Quaresma

Inter and Chelsea have been linked with FC Porto's Quaresma this summer, but Juventus is set to make an offer of their own.

Supposedly Juventus is ready to offer Tiago and a large lump sum of money to lure Porto into selling.

Milan to sign Schweinsteiger?

L'Equipe is reporting that Milan are hoping to sign Bayern Munich's, Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Schweinsteiger has a minimum fee release clause that Milan are ready to meet.

Most likely it will take much more money then the minimum fee release to get Schweinsteiger, due to his strong showing at the Euro's. 

Schweinsteiger would be a great asset to Milan next to Kaka and Pirlo in the attacking midfield.

Donadoni Didn't Pick the PK Takers

I read a story where Italian coach Roberto Donadoni said that he didn't pick the penalty kick takers for Italy's game against Spain.

He said that the team went with the people who felt they were ready to take the kicks. 

"We made the decision simply because you have to feel you are ready to take a penalty."

The first thing that came to my mind when I heard this was Luca Toni

How shot was Luca Toni's confidence if he didn't step up to take a kick? Was he really that emotionally messed up that he couldn't make a penalty kick?

Toni had the chance to get all the critics off him with 1 made penalty kick. No matter how bad he had played the whole game, a made PK would have been a great contribution from him. 

But, he didn't step up and Italy lost.

Pele Robbed In Brazil

Local reports out of San Paulo, Brazil are saying that soccer legend Pele was robbed in the Brazilian city of Santos.

Pele was sitting in the passenger seat of a car near the city slum when at least 10 young men armed with pistols and knives stopped the car. 

Pele was robbed of a gold necklace, his cell phone, and a watch. 

The robbery occurred on June 13th, but has only been made public now, because Pele did not report the incident to the police.

I hope that the boys didn't recognize who Pele was. This incident is like if Michael Jordan was stopped in the ghetto of Chicago and robbed. 

This just goes to show you that no matter who you are, if you look wealthy and are in a desperate area, you can get robbed.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Italy Out of Euro 08

This sucks to have to write. Spain defeated Italy 4-2 on penalty kicks today to advance to the semifinals of the Euro tournament.

The first 120 minutes of the game consisted of Spain attempting to create chances, and Italy playing perfect defense to shut them out. Italy on the other hand, could not get anything going on offense, characterized by another bad showing from Luca Toni.

In the penalty shootout, Iker Casillas saved both Daniele De Rossi and Antonio Di Natale's shots and Cesc Fabregas hit the winning shot for Spain to give them the 4-2 win.

Di Natale had the opportunity to tie the penalty's at 3 after Buffon saved a Daniel Guiza shot, but his miss assured Cesc the opportunity to a hero.

Spain's win sets up a matchup with Russia. It is the first time Spain have reached the semifinals of a major tournament since the Euro's of 1984.

As an Italy fan, I have to say that Pirlo's absence was really missed, as there was almost no meaningful possession for Italy. I'm about to go watch some highlights of Luca Toni's season this year, because I don't understand how he could have scored 39 goals this season, and look 
this bad in the Euro's.

You could say the better team won tonight due to the possession and control by Spain, but I disagree. Anything Spain did Italy stopped, and Italy's best chance, a 62nd minute shot by Comoranesi, was better then any chance Spain had.

Poll Result

To the question, "Which Player Has Performed the Best So Far in Euro 08?"

32% said David Villa
14% said Lukas Podolski
13% said Robin van Persie
13% said Other
12% said Cristiano Ronaldo
10% said Adra Turan
2%   said Zlatan Ibrahimovic

After today's Russia vs. Netherlands quarterfinal matchup, Andrei Arshavin made a strong case to win the player of the tournament award.

That being said, you voted David Villa as the best player so far, after he was the leading scorer in group play.

Thanks for voting, and keep voting on the polls!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Russia Beat the Dutch!

The Dutch came into the Euro tournament playing some of the most exciting soccer we have seen in a while. In the group stage they were creative, explosive, and scored tons of goals on their way to an easy Group C victory.

However, their opponents in the Quarterfinals, Russia, came into the game playing in the exact same style. With these two similar styles of play coming together, the Netherlands could not adjust and lost 3-1 in extra time.

Russia controlled the play the entire 1st half, but could not convert on any of their opportunities. Van der Sar did all he could to save the barrage of shots coming at him.

Russia finally scored in the 56th minute off a Roman Pavluchenko goal and looked to be on their way to a victory until the 86th minute when Ruud van Nistelrooy equalized. 

In extra time Russia's Andrei Arshavin showed why he is the most highly valued transfer target in the tournament right now, setting up the game winner in the 112th minute and scoring a goal for himself in the 116th minute. 

The Netherlands loss is the 3rd straight group winner to lose in the quarterfinals.

Andy Gray put it best the other day. He said that we know the Netherlands can win pretty, but can then win ugly? The answer is no. 

Like Portugal, the team that showed up in the group stage, was not the same team that showed up in the quarterfinals. 

Russia fully deserved to win this game, and will be a real problem for either Italy or Spain.

Inter to Make Lampard Bid

Ever since the arrival of Jose Mourinho at Inter, there has been much speculation that he would target some of his former players in the transfer market.

The Sun is reporting that Inter Milan is set to make an official 9.24 million euro offer for Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard.

Lampard is not under contract with Chelsea, and is supposedly looking for a new challenge in a foreign league.

Current Chelsea coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has set up a meeting with Lampard next Thursday, where he will try and persuade Lampard to stay.

Lampard's agent said a meeting with Inter would happen within the next 10 days.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Have You Seen This Goal?

I bring to you the 4th installment of the Goal of the Week.

All I can say is wow, if I thought choosing a goal of the week last week was hard, this week was impossible.

So many good goals were scored this week in Euro 08, with the 2 runner up's being Bastian Schweinsteiger's goal vs. Portugal, and Russia's Roman Pavluchenko's goal vs. Sweden.

However, the Goal of the Week goes to Michael Ballack of Germany for his goal vs. Austria. In this goal Ballack rips a free kick from about 30 yards away, and puts it past the keeper to give Germany a 1-0 win, and a place in the Quarterfinals.

The angle 1:03 into the video is the best.

What was your Goal of the Week?

Turkey Come Back Again!

After being 15 minutes away from elimination in their last game against the Czech Republic, Turkey was only 1 minute away from being eliminated against Croatia.  An equalizing goal scored in the 120th minute sent the 1-1 game into penalty kicks, penalty's that Turkey went on to win 3-1.

Croatia controlled the game for the full 90 minutes, but could not score on any of their opportunities. The best chance for Croatia came in the 19th minute, when Ivica Olic's shot hit the crossbar.

The story of the game changed in the 119th minute after a crucial mistake by Turkey goalie Recber Rustu. Rustu, who was playing in replace of suspended keeper Volkan Demirel, left his goal to get a ball that was crossed into the box by Luka Modric and headed in by Ivan Klasnic.

The Croatians celebrated as if they had won the game, but only 1 minute later, Semih Senturk blasted a shot in to tie the game, and stun the Croatians.

Croatian coach Slaven Bilic was furious because he was attempting to make a substitution right before the goal was scored, and the goal was scored after the alloted penalty minute time was up.

As the game was going into penalty kicks, I knew Turkey was going to win. The way that Croatia reacted to Turkey's goal being scored, and all of the players faces going into the penalty's showed me that they weren't mentally in it.

Luka Modric made it easy on goalie Rustu by missing the net completely on Croatia's first kick. After Turan and Senturk scored for Turkey, and Srna scored for Croatia, Ivan Rakitic stepped up for Croatia and missed the net. Hamit Altintop scored for Turkey, and Mladen Petric's shot 
was saved to give Turkey the 3-1 victory in penalty's.

This was a game that I don't think Turkey deserved to win. They were outplayed for majority of the game, and got lucky that a few shots that could have went in, didn't.

All that being said, Turkey never gave up hope, and continued to play until the last minute of the game. Turkey has all the momentum in the world going into their semifinal matchup against Germany.

Germany Advance to the Semi's

Even while sitting in the stands, Joachim Loew was still a factor in the Germany vs. Portugal game. 

Loew's pregame decision to start Bastian Schweinsteiger proved to be a deciding factor in this game, as the Bayern Munich midfielder scored a goal and assisted on 2 others in Germany's 3-2 victory over Portugal.

Germany controlled the play for most of the game, and all of their goals were scored due to soft Portugal defense. 

The 2nd goal that Germany scored in particular, a Klose header in the 26th minute, could have been easily saved if Cristiano Ronaldo seriously attempted to play defense. He simply pretended to mark Klose, let him get by him, and then waved his arms in disgust to his teammates after Klose scored an easy header.

Portugal got a goal back before halftime to cut the lead to 2-1 after Nuno Gomes put in a rebound off a Ronaldo miss. 

German captain Michael Ballack put the game away in the 62nd minute off another unmarked header. This goal could have been saved, if not for Ricardo's lack of decision making in goal. 

Postiga's goal in the 87th minute for Portugal was simply a tease from a Portugal team that could have played much better then they did.

I have to think that the difference in time between games could have played a factor in the form of both teams. For the Portugal starters, this game came 8 days after their last one, while Germany played this game only 72 hours after their last game. The extended time off could have affected Portugal's performance.

Overall this was a very enjoyable game to watch as a soccer fan, but I don't think the Portugal side we saw today was the team that everyone hoped we would see. It's a sad ending to the coaching reign of Felipe Scolari. 

Germany's win sets up a matchup with the winner of the Croatia vs. Turkey game.

What did you think of the game?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Look Alikes

While I was watching Croatia play, I couldn't help thinking that Croatia's striker Ivica Olic reminded me of someone....

I couldn't put my finger on it at first, but Ivica Olic looks just like Mr. James Bond, Daniel Craig.

Mike Diamente vs. Martin Rogers Predictions

As many of you know "Yahoo Sports Expert" Martin Rogers doesn't think too highly of me.

He thinks it's "uncool" when people disagree with his ideas. However, I came across his predictions for the Euro 08 tournament, and I have to say I'm very unimpressed.

As I said in the post below this one, of the possible 8 teams that could advance into the Quarterfinals, I got 5 correct.  Rogers got 4.

Rogers also got none of the teams from the group of death correct and said France would win group C.

Rogers also said that Greece would advance to the quarterfinals. Greece was the only team in the tournament that didn't earn 1 point.

My finals is Italy over Portugal.

Rogers is Germany over France.
     Good call on France Rogers.

This is the last thing I will write about Martin Rogers because I now realize that he honestly doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to soccer.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Euro 2008 Group Play Review

Now that group play has finished, we know which teams advanced, and what the Quarterfinal matchups are.

In my Euro 08 Preview I predicted who I thought would advance. Lets see how I did.

Group A
My Prediction: Actual:
Portugal          Portugal
Czech Republic Turkey
Switzerland      Switzerland
Turkey             Czech Republic

Portugal played how I thought they would, and I was 15 minutes away from being right about the Czech Republic. If only the Czech could have held on, I would have been right. Turkey was a surprise for sure.

Group B
My Prediction: Actual:
Germany          Croatia
Croatia            Germany
Poland             Austria 
Austria            Poland

I thought that both Croatia and Germany would advance from the group, but who saw Croatia beating Germany when they played? As far as Austria and Poland are concerned, I should have thought my prediction out a little more and realized that with the home crowd behind them, Austria wouldn't finish in last place. 

Group C
My Prediction: Actual:
Italy                 Netherlands
France             Italy
Netherlands    Romania
Romania          France

The group of death really could have gone any way. I decided to go with 2 of the favorites, Italy and France to advance. My prediction was ruined by the combination of the Dutch being sick, and France having Henry and Vieira hurt. Thanks a lot France.

Group D
My Prediction: Actual:
Spain                Spain
Sweden            Russia
Greece               Sweden
Russia              Greece

Spain won the group pretty easily, and I think look like the best team so far. Going into the final games I was correct on which teams were advancing. However, Sweden decided to completely abandon their offense and play for the draw against Russia, and they paid for it. Greece was a big letdown, not even getting a point in group play.

So Lets Recap:

Of the possible 8 teams that could advance to the Quarterfinals, I got 5 of them.

Of the 5 teams that I said could win it all, 4 of the 5 advanced (thanks for nothing France).

Italy gave me a scare, but my pick for Italy over Portugal in the finals can still happen.

Quarterfinal Matchups:
Lets take a look at the upcoming Quarterfinal games.

Portugal vs. Germany
A dream matchup for sure. Portugal played very well its first two games but lost its last game. Germany played its best in the last game. Who will stop Ronaldo? Other then Podolski for Germany, no one is creating chances. Klose is invisible, and it took a free kick for Ballack to wake up. I gotta think Portugal will advance.

Croatia vs. Turkey
A surprising matchup due to Croatia winning group B. Turkey was 15 minutes away from being eliminated, while Croatia won group B pretty convincingly. I think Croatia moves on.

Netherlands vs. Russia
The Netherlands seem to be everyone's new favorite to win it all. I don't know if I can go that far, but I think they cruise through Russia in this one.

Spain vs. Italy
A nightmare matchup if your Italian. Spain proved against Greece that they have the deepest team of anyone in the tournament, and David Villa is playing on another level right now. Italy has always been known as a slow starter in tournaments, and play differently after group play. Even without Pirlo, I gotta say Italy moves on, and the label of underachievers stays with the Spanish.

The team of the tournament so far is a tie between Spain and the Netherlands. Spain easily won their group and proved they are the deepest team. The Netherlands showed their all out attack and dominated two early favorites, Italy and France. Both teams have the ability to go all the way.

Player of the tournament so far is David Villa. He is the leading scorer of the tournament with 4 goals, and was a main reason why Spain won its first 2 games.

What did you think of the teams that advanced? Did you see it coming? What's your prediction for the Quarterfinal matchups? Who is the team of the tournament so far? The player of the tournament? 

Russia Advance to the Quarterfinals

Russia defeat Sweden 2-0

Russia needed a win against Sweden in order to advance to the Quarterfinals, while a draw for 
Sweden would get them through. 

Russia welcomed back striker Andrei Arshavin to the starting lineup, after he had been suspended for Russia's first 2 games for getting a red card in Russia's final qualifying game.

Arshavin's presence in the lineup proved to be key, as the Russians completely dominated Sweden in the game.

Goals were scored by Roman Pavluchenko in the 24th minute, and Arshavin in the 50th minute, both goals however were total team efforts.

Russia completely dominated the play the entire game, and other then a Henrik Larsson header, Sweden created no chances for themselves.

For Russia it is the first time since 1992 that they have been out of the group stages of a major tournament.

Russia will now face the heavily favored Netherlands in the Quarterfinals.

Spain defeat Greece 2-1

In the other game in group D, a Spanish side with 10 new players in the starting lineup defeated 2004 Euro Cup winners Greece.

For Spain, putting 10 different players in the starting lineup did not affect their play, as players like Cesc Fabregas, Xabi Alonso, and the leading scorer in La Liga this season Daniel Guiza all are of high quality and would start on almost any national team.

Greece started the scoring first in the 42nd minute on a great header by Angelos Charisteas.

However, in the second half the all the of Spanish players picked up their game, trying eagerly to impress the coaches enough to get a starting spot.

In the 61st minute de la Red scored on a great shot which was assisted by Guiza, and  Spain completed the comeback in the 88th minute when Guiza was unmarked and scored on a header.

Greece's loss means that they are the only team in Euro 08 to not get a point in group play.

Riise Officially Joins AS Roma

AS Roma have officially announced the signing of former Liverpool defender John Arne Riise.

The transfer fee was 5 million euro, and Riise has signed a 4 year contract.

I think Roma is getting a good player in Riise, as he can play on both sides of the defense. It will just be good for Riise to get a fresh start away from England, after his disaster in the Champions League semi-finals.

Claude Makelele and Lilian Thuram End Their International Careers

French internationals Claude Makelele and Lilian Thuram have officially ended their international careers following France's loss to Italy, which eliminated France from the Euro tournament.

Thuram won a record 142 caps for France, and was the only member of the current French team to be a starter for France's 1998 World Cup victory. 

The 36 year old Thuram who plays his club soccer for Barcelona, was quoted as saying, "There's a lot of sadness...(the national team) was a very important part of my life."

The 35 year old Makelele won 71 caps over his time with France, but never won a tournament with France. He said, "To have been allowed to wear France's colors, that's my trophy."

The departure of Makelele and Thuram could be the beginning of a long changing process for the French national team. 

Youngsters like Nasi, Ribery, Gomis, and Benzema must step up and carry the French team in the future.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ronaldinho to the United States?

Rumors are going around that the LA Galaxy might make a huge 40-50 million dollar offer for Barcelona's Ronaldinho.

It is expected that if the offer is made Ronaldinho would reject the bid, because he still believes that he can play at the highest level. 

Ronaldinho has been linked with AC Milan, Manchester City, and Chelsea, none of which could potentially offer as much as the Galaxy.

Imagine a Galaxy midfield of Beckham and, I would see a Red Bulls game if they came to New York!

One player that does not want to see Ronaldinho go to the United States is Portugal international Deco who was quoted as saying, "I would like Ronnie to play with me for Chelsea."

I guess we know where Deco wants to play next season!

UEFA Star Challenges

Thanks to Monica 08 of the blog  for showing me the website

This is a great site to learn basic soccer moves, but it also has specialized tips from the best players.

One aspect of the site are "star challenges" in which the best players have to do hard things such as hit the crossbar, or score from a corner kick. Here are some of the best videos.

Andrea Pirlo "Crossbar Challenge"

Deco "Corner Challenge"

Kaka "30 second touch"


Forza Azzurri! Italy to the Quarterfinals!

In a rematch of the 2006 World Cup Final, Italy and France were playing to try and keep their Euro 08 hopes alive. Both teams knew that a Romania win would eliminate them both, but they had to focus on their own game.

Italy controlled the play early on, but it was in the 24th minute that the game changed. Luca Toni ran past the French defense and was taken down in the box by Eric Abidai, who was then given a red card. 

Andrea Pirlo then stepped up and put the ball past the goalie to give Italy a 1-0 lead.

France was then forced to play a man down, and without star midfielder Franck Ribery who was injured in the 10th minute. Ribery's injury looks to be very serious and it is rumored to be a broken leg.

Italy dominated the play for most of the game, creating numerous chances including a Fabio Grosso free kick in the 43rd minute that was saved.

The game was finally put away in the 62nd minute after Daniele De Rossi hit a free kick that deflected off of Theirry Henry's foot.

The Italian win means that they will face Group D winners Spain in the Quarterfinals.

They will play these games without both Andrea Pirlo and Gattuso, who were both booked in this game. Pirlo's booking could have been avoided if not for France's unsportsmanlike play. An Italian player was hurt on the field but France did not stop play to let him get treatment. Pirlo then had to foul in order for play to stop.

Hopefully Italy will be able to beat a strong Spanish side without 2 of their best midfielders.

Overall it was a great, deserving win for Italy. Buffon played great once again, Luca Toni played better, and the defense was solid all around. 

The Netherlands defeat Romania 2-0

With rumors of a match fixing surrounding the match, the Dutch played strong once again and defeated Romania 2-0, to help Italy get into the Quarterfinals.

Romania created many chances at the start of the game, with a few shots by Mutu going just wide of the goal.

In the 54th minute Huntelaar scored a great goal for the Dutch, while Van Persie showed why he is the best player on the Netherlands team with a goal in the 87th minute.

The Netherlands 2 goals in this game gave them 9 goals in total for group play, which tied the record.

The Dutch continued to show why they are probably the new favorites to win the tournament.


UEFA Allows FC Porto in the Champions League

UEFA will allow Portugal team FC Porto play in the Champions League next season despite a bribery scandal surrounding the team.

UEFA said the decision was overturned because the investigation into the scandal is still ongoing, and will not be finished until after the Aug 1st Champions League draws.

The scandal dates back to the 2003-2004 season. Porto allegedly bribes 2 referees in 2 matches.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Germany Advance to the Quarterfinals

German captain Michael Ballack called a players only meeting before Germany's game vs. Austria. In the meeting Ballack said that the players talked to one another as footballers, and he made sure it was known that all the players, himself included, had to step up their game.

So who was it to answer the captains call for better play? None other then Michael Ballack himself. Ballack stepped up to a free kick in the 49th minute and hit a perfect strike to give Germany a 1-0 victory over co-hosts Austria.

The Germany win means that they will face Portugal in the Quarterfinals.

There is a chance that Germany coach Joachim Low might not be at that Quarterfinal matchup after he and Austrian coach Josef Hickersberger were given red cards for arguing with themselves and the 4th referee. Hopefully UEFA reviews the red card ban and allows Low to coach.

Croatia beat Poland 1-0

Croatia ensured a perfect group stage after defeating Poland 1-0 thanks to an Ivan Klasnic  52nd minute goal.

Klasnic was pulled down in the penalty area, but did not get the penalty call, however, after he stood up he received a pass and put the ball past the goalkeeper.

Croatia, who played with many of the starters on the bench, could have scored at least 4 more goals this game, if not for the impressive work by Poland goalie Artur Boruc. Boruc got no help from his defense all game, and was forced to leave the goal and many saves on numerous occasions.

Croatia is set to play Turkey in the Quarterfinals.

Should The Dutch Lose on Purpose?

Going into the final Group C games, a Romania win against the Netherlands would mean that Italy and France would both be eliminated from the tournament.

The question that has been coming up all this week is, "Should the Dutch Lose the Game on Purpose?" 

I personally don't think the Dutch would throw the game because the players have too much pride in both their game, and their country, to simply let Romania beat them.

Also, based on the way that France and Italy played against them, the Dutch shouldn't be scared to play either of them again in the next rounds. We have obviously seen that the French and Italian sides in this Euro tournament are not the same sides that made it to the World Cup final only 2 years ago.

In my opinion, beating Romania would eliminate the better team in the group.

What do you think? Should the Dutch lose on purpose to eliminate France and Italy?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Turkey Steal Victory from the Czech's 3-2

After taking a 2-0 lead in the 62nd minute after a Jaroslav Plasil goal, the Czech Republic thought they were on their way to the quarter finals. 

However, with only 15 minutes left in the game, Turkey scored 3 times, including 2 goals from Nihat Kahveci to book their place in the next round.

Turkey's win means that they will play Croatia.

As I was watching this game,  I could tell how quickly the quality of play of the Czech players was decreasing after the 1st Turkish goal by Adra Turan. This could clearly be seen in the Czech play on the defensive end, leaving Petr Cech helpless to defend the Turkish shots.

This game was very enjoyable to watch, and has to be one of the best comebacks in Euro history.

Portugal lose to Switzerland 2-0

Despite already being eliminated from the tournament, co-host Switzerland played hard and left Euro 08 on a winning note.

A pair of goals from Hakan Yakin was the scoring for the Swiss, who were playing against a Portugal side that was resting most of their starters, including Cristiano Ronaldo.

Switzerland's victory was their first ever victory in the Euro tournament.

Portugal shouldn't be too worried about this loss, but some players like Quaresma who are on the fringe of the starting lineup didn't do much do prove their case to be in the starting 11.

Poll Result

To the Question, Who Will Win Euro 08?

23% said "Other"
22% said Portugal
21% said Spain
15% said Italy
10% said Germany
7% said France

I am going to assume that the majority, if not all of the votes for "Other" were for the Netherlands.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Have You Seen This Goal?

I bring to you the 3rd installment of the Goal of the Week..

The Euro tournament has had some great goals so far, which made choosing the goal of the week very difficult.

While Lukas Podolski's 2nd goal vs. Poland was excellent, Wesley Sneijder's goal vs. Italy was great, and Adra Turan's goal vs. Switzerland was great as well....

The goal of the week goes to Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic for his goal vs. Greece.

The game had been scoreless, until in the 67th minute, Zlatan played a give and go on the edge of the box, and hit a picture perfect strike to the top corner of the goal. This goal was one of the purest shots I've ever seen in a game. He knew it was going in as soon as he hit it.

The last camera angle in this video gives the best look of the goal.

Group of Death, Round 2

Today saw "the group of death" of the tournament play in their 2nd round of games.

Italy only draw 1-1 vs. Romania

After Italy's first game vs. the Netherlands, Italian goalie Gianluigi Buffon claimed the game was the worst of his career.

His game today may have just saved Italy's chances of winning the tournament.

Buffon saved Ardian Mutu's 81st minute penalty shot to ensure Italy's 1st point in Group C.

As I said on my blog, I felt that changes needed to be made in order for Italy to be competitive. Coach Roberto Donadoni put 5 new starters in this game, Fabio Grosso, Giorgio Chiellini, Simone Perrotta, Daniele De Rossi, and Del Piero.

Before halftime Italy got screwed once again and had a goal wrongly taken back, after Luca Toni's header was deemed to be offsides.

Mutu scored for Romania in the 55th minute after Italian defender Zambrotta tried to head the ball back to Buffon. The ball was intercepted by Mutu and he put it away to give Romania the 1-0 lead.

Italy answered right back only a minute later, as Christian Panucci scored off a corner kick.

This draw means that Italy must win against France in their next game in order to have a chance of advancing.

All that being said, I think that UEFA needs to have a match fixing investigation.
The fact that Italy haven't won 2 straight games because of referees blowing offsides calls, van Nistelrooy's in the 1st game, and Toni's in the 2nd game, is absolutely ridicules. 
Someone has gotta be making money off these ref's calls. 

(I'm just joking about the investigation but seriously, what's up with the ref's?)

Man of the Match- Buffon

The Netherlands destroy France 4-1

For anyone that thought the Netherlands performance against Italy was a fluke, the beating they put on France today should silence the doubters.

The Netherlands were relentless in their attacking once again, and got goals from Dirk Kyut, Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, and Wesley Sneijder.

The French goal was scored by Thierry Henry as he made  his way back into the starting lineup.

France played better then they did in the 1st game, but this game really makes me question whether the Netherlands are really this good, or are Italy and France really this bad?

The Dutch win means that they win Group C, and advance to the quarterfinals.

Man of the Match- The man of the match for me was Robin van Persie. After entering in the 55th minute he scored only 4 minutes later. He was a constant presence the entire time he was in the game and really showed that he was in form.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Martin Rogers

First let me first say that I'm over this situation, but I think it is important to share my thoughts about "Yahoo Expert" Martin Rogers.

For those of you who don't already know, Martin Rogers is the leading soccer analyst for yahoo sports.  He recently posted a comment on this blog, in which he insulted me personally.

Earlier in the week, Rogers posted an article about the Portugal vs. Czech Republic game, in which he said that Cristiano Ronaldo was the best player in that game.

As I said on my blog, I thought that although Ronaldo played a good game, I thought Deco should at least be co-man of the match because he scored the 1st goal, assisted on the 2nd, and his quick free kick ensured a breakaway on the 3rd goal.

I said all this on Rogers blog, and left the link to my blog so he could read it.

I then found this comment from him:
         Martin Rogers: You come my blog in order to promote your own, and disagree with my comments even though in your own report you had Ronaldo as joint man of the mach. Very uncool. Clearly not a journalist.

I have a few issues with this comment, as I recently emailed back to Mr. Rogers.

First is that since when is it "uncool" for someone to disagree with a persons opinions on sports? Even if Rogers works for Yahoo, it doesn't mean that other people can't disagree, nor does it mean everything he writes should be taken for absolute. 

Secondly, I did not simply go on his blog in order to promote my own, as I provided my own analysis of the players performances, and left my blog posting for him.

Finally, if I went on his blog to simply promote my own website, then he went on my blog simply to insult me. Which is "uncooler"?

I will still try to read Rogers stories because they are good, but I really hope he is more mature the next time someone disagrees with him.

In conclusion it is really sad to see that while some soccer analysts like Adrian Healey and Tommy Smyth encourage reader feedback and imput, others like Martin Rogers feel the need to insult readers that disagree with them. In the words of Martin Rogers himself, Rogers is, "clearly not a journalist."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Podolski Better Than Ronaldo?

While Ronaldo made him claim to being the best player in the world today in Portugal's victory over the Czech Republic, not everyone agrees with the idea that Ronaldo is the best player in the world, or even the tournament.


I just read an interview that was done today with Germany striker Miroslav Klose in which he claimed his teammate Lukas Podolski was better than Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo.

Klose said that he realizes how dangerous Ronaldo is as a scorer, but insists that Podolski's contributions on defense make him more valuable of a player.

Klose said, "Ronaldo is important in the offensive, he merely passes ball in defensive. What Lukas has done against Poland, was worth more, as he worked on the defensive and attacked....Poldi is even one step higher than currently perhaps the best footballer in the world."

I personally have said the same thing about Ronaldo's lack of defensive effort from the first time I watched him play. People forget that Ronaldo is not a striker, but a midfielder, and sometimes his lack of hustle on the defensive end can hurt his team. 

With that said I would take Klose's statement and change Podolski's name with Kaka....then you have an accurate comment.