Monday, March 30, 2009

Could Marta Play With the Boys?

The inaugural season of the Women's Professional Soccer League kicked off this past weekend with the Los Angeles Sol defeating the Washington Freedom 2-0.

I must say that from seeing this game and re watching the highlights, the level of competition in this league looks to be very good. All of the women showed great skill and I really think that if the league is marketed right, it can succeed. 

However, the question that arose in my mind after watching the game was whether or not Los Angeles Sol star and without question the best women's soccer player in the world, Marta, could play in the MLS or any other men's league. 

While the Brazilian stands at only 5'4, she has the quickness and technical skill to match many men. 

The goal she scores at the 41 second mark of the video pretty much sums up what she's about:



What do you think? Could Marta play with the men?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Profile: Servet Cetin


A few weeks ago my friends and I were playing FIFA 09. Having played many games at that point, we wanted to play with some different teams. Eventually someone decided to play as the Turkish National Team, Erik Lanza discovered a player that I had never heard of. 

His name is Servet Cetin and apparently he is a scary monster of a man. 

In FIFA 09 Cetin is an unstoppable defender. He is 6'4 and extremely strong. No one can score on him. I decided to do some research on the player and here are some quotes about him that I have found.

After playing against Turkey Didier Drogba said, "I have never struggled like this against any defense in the English Premier League. Servet is devilish. I could hear him breathe and it sent chills down the back of my neck." 

A player who sends chills down Drogba's neck just from his breath? Epic.

Supposedly Galatasaray fans (the team Cetin plays for) call him Ayibogan which literally means "a man who could choke a bear." Is there a greater nickname in sports?

To further add to the legend of Cetin supposedly in the Euro 08 tournament, Cetin was playing despite the following injuries: 

1. Torn groin
2. Strained Knee Ligaments
3. A broken tooth
4. A bruised hip bone

Forgive me if I seem naive regarding Cetin, but I can assure you I will do my best to discover more legendary players like the bear choker. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

AC Milan and Inter Headline U.S. Tour


A 4 team tournament featuring AC Milan, Inter, Chelsea, and Club America will take place this summer in the United States. 

Inter plays against Club America on July 19th at Stanford Stadium in Californian than plays Chelsea two days later at the Rose Bowl. 

Milan plays Inter on July 26th at Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts, which is surprisingly only the 3rd time that Milan and Inter will have played each other outside of Italy. The last time they played in the United States was in 1969 at Yankee Stadium. 

I'm very excited about the Milan vs Inter matchup and I've already bought my ticket. I wound up buying the VIP plan so that I can get access to each teams 90 minute practice the day before. I'm not even concerned about the 3 hour drive from New York.

Some other games this summer include Chelsea playing MLS expansion team Seattle Sounders on July 18th and AC Milan playing the LA Galaxy on July 19th in a game that was created as a stipulation in the David Beckham loan.

ESPN will be broadcasting most of the games so be sure to check them out. 

Is anyone else going to the games?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cent Sports

This is not a sponsored ad. 

If you guys have ever wanted to bet on soccer matches, but didn't want to use your own money Cent Sports is the website to go to. 

This website pretty much gives you 10 cents to start off to bet on sports and will actually pay you if your good enough to turn that 10 cents into more. 

The best part is that if you lose all your money, they just give you 10 more cents. 

Check it out: Cent Sports

Friday, March 20, 2009

Champions League Quarterfinals are Set



The quarterfinal games for the 2009 Champions League has been announced. 

After looking at the matchups, it looks like Manchester United is 100% in the finals. United do not have to face Barcelona, Liverpool, Chelsea, or Bayern Munich until the finals. 

Liverpool and Chelsea will also have to play each other again. Last year Liverpool had Chelsea beat until an own goal from Riise put Chelsea into the finals. 

I would say that United will win, Arsenal will win, Liverpool will win, and Barcelona will win. 

Here are the games:

Manchester United vs. FC Porto

Villarreal vs. Arsenal

Liverpool vs. Chelsea

Barcelona vs. Bayern Munich

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Arshavin Scores First Goal as Arsenal Wins

Arsenal picked up valuable points in the Premier League, defeating Blackburn 4-0.

15 million euro man Andrei Arshavin also scored his first goal in an Arsenal uniform as Arsenal finally ended the scoring slump that had plagued them for the past few weeks.

With the combination of Liverpool beating Manchester United today, and Arsenal winning, the Premier League title race is certainly heating up!

Here are second half highlights of the Arsenal game, including Arshavin's goal.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Worst Dive of All Time?

Diving in soccer is a topic up for debate...

Some people say that it takes away from the game, while others see diving as a strategic tool for winning. 

I don't think anyone could defend this dive....

In a game in Brazil last week, Argentine international Sergio Escudero pretended to get hit...by the ref....

Escudero completely missed the flag of the side judge but still fell down as if he got hit. This is just embarrassing for the game.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Champions League Review

The round of 16 in the Champions League tournament has ended. Lets see if my Champions League Preview was correct. 

Chelsea vs. Juventus



Chelsea vs Juventus was a very entertaining series, one that saw the resurgence of Didier Drogba. In the first leg Chelsea won 1-0 behind a goal from Drogba, and another goal from Drogba in the second game sealed Chelsea's advancement into the next round. 

More good news for Chelsea came out of this series as Michael Essien returned to the starting lineup in the second leg for the first time in 6 months. Essien wasted little time making an impact on the field and scored in the 45th minute. 

My prediction was that Juventus would advance however Juventus was never really in this series. Chelsea advances 3-2 on aggregate.  0-1 on predictions.

Villarreal vs. Panathinaikos



Villarreal and the Greek champions Panathinaikos drew the first leg of the series 1-1 in Spain. Giuseppe Rossi was rewarded for a great game with a penalty kick goal which proved to be crucial for the mindset of the Spanish team. 

In the second leg Villarreal and Panathinaikos traded goals in the second half but in the 70th minute a goal from Joseba Llorente gave Villarreal the 2-1 win and the 3-2 overall aggregate win. 

I correctly predicted Villarreal would advance. 1-1 on predictions. 

Bayern Munich vs. Sporting

This could be one of the most lopsided series in Champions League history. Munich exploded for 7 goals in the second leg of the series and won 12-1 on aggregate. 

Sporting looked outmatched in every facet of the game which makes me wonder whether Munich is really this good, or was Sporting just that bad. 


I correctly predicted that Bayern Munich would advance. 2-1 on predictions.

Real Madrid vs. Liverpool

Madrid weathered the storm in the first leg giving up an away goal to Liverpool's Yossi Benayoun in their 1-0 defeat but the in the second leg in England, the red storm proved to be too great.

The second leg of this series was characterized by the late and surprise addition of Fernando Torres into the starting lineup for Liverpool. As I predicted, if Torres and Gerrard could be healthy enough to be on the field together Liverpool would be dangerous, and they were winning the second leg 4-0 behind a goal from Torres and 2 from Gerrard.

Madrid never really threatened to score in either game, and if it wasn't for the great play of goalkeeper Iker Casillas, Madrid could have lost by even more. 


I correctly predicted that Liverpool would advance. 3-1 on predictions.

Atletico Madrid vs. Porto



FC Porto played to a 2-2 draw on the road and that score was all they needed to advance to the next round. The second leg of the series was 0-0 which meant that Porto advanced on the away goal rule.

As many of you know, I hate the away goal rule because I think it gives too much importance on the idea of playing away. In this series neither team won a game, however one team gets to advance. Don't like it. 

Porto could be a team to look out for because the last time a team was almost not allowed to participate in the tournament (AC Milan) they went on to win the whole thing.

I thought that Atletico would advance. 3-2 on predictions. 

Lyon vs. Barcelona

Lyon and Barcelona was one of the best matchups of this round. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw in the first game, with a goal from Theirry Henry canceling out an amazing free kick from Juninho. 

The second leg of the series was far from close. Theirry Henry picked up right where he left off in the first leg, scoring two goals within 2 minutes of each other. Lionel Messi followed that up with an amazing goal of his own, and Samuel Eto'o made it 4-0 Barcelona before Lyon knew what hit them. 

This season there is no greater attacking trio than Henry, Messi and Eto'o with the 3 accounting for almost all of Barcelona's goals. 

Lyon pulled a couple of goals back but Barcelona comfortably advanced 6-3 on aggregate. 

I correctly predicted Barcelona would advance. 4-2 on predictions. 

WATCH THIS BREATHTAKING GOAL FROM MESSI:

Arsenal vs. Roma

In my preview I said that this series would be a close one, and it was. 

A Robin van Persie penalty kick was the only thing separating the two teams going into the second leg in Italy. 

Arsenal playing without Fabregas, Arshavin, and Adebayor were held scoreless and lost 1-0 in the second leg after Juan scored for Roma. 

Since both teams scored 1 goal each, and both goals were at home, the game went into extra time and ultimately penalty kicks. 

In the penalty kick shootout it was also close, but Arsenal prevailed 7-6.

Perhaps in the next round when Fabregas, Arshavin and Adebayor all play Arsenal can have the firepower to score more than 1 goal in 2 games.

Here is the shootout:

I correctly predicted Arsenal would advance. 5-2 on predictions.

Manchester United vs. Inter Milan


This game was probably the game that most people were watching. The defending champions had to deal with the Italian giants and certainly had their biggest test in the tournament so far.

The first leg was actually pretty uneventful with both teams playing to a 0-0 draw in Italy.

This meant that a scoring draw would put Inter through to the next round. 

In the second leg Manchester United dominated with goals from Vidic and Ronaldo giving them the 2-0 victory.

Much had been said of the Manchester defense before the game, and the defense really came through in the second leg holding Inter scoreless. Inter did get a bit unlucky with a Ibrahimovic header hitting the post and a shot by Adriano also hitting the post. 

I correctly predicted Manchester United would advance meaning I went 6-2 overall on my predictions. 

..........................................

Going into the next round I think that Manchester United and Barcelona are still the 2 teams to look out for. Bayern Munich probably had the easiest opponent in this round which makes their 12-1 victory a bit skewed. 

One team that really showed great form in this round was Liverpool. As long as this team stays healthy I believe that they can go all the way.

WHAT WAS YOUR IMPRESSION OF THIS ROUND? WHO WILL WIN IT ALL?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Van der Sar Loses It!

(give the video a second or two to load)

A brief lack of focus and some bad luck resulted in Edwin van der Sar's run of games without conceding a goal to come to an end.

Van der Sar had not conceded a goal since November 8th, and even backup goalkeeper Ben Foster kept up the clean sheets when he was in. 

Manchester United  played Newcastle today, and in the 9th minute a low shot by Jonas Guitierrez bounced off the usually sticky hands of Van der Sar and went right to Peter Lovenkrands who was in the perfect position to tap the ball in. 

Manchester United recovered from the initial goal and won the game 2-1.

Personally I'm a little disappointed that this was the goal to end the streak. I think it would have been more appropriate to see a booming Steven Gerrard free kick or even an entertaining goal by Robinho rather than a cheap rebound goal. 

However, a goal is a goal and now Van der Sar can start a new streak.

Arshavin Says the Premier League is Hard


Andrei Arshavin has admitted that playing in the Premier League for Arsenal is harder than it looks on TV while sitting on your couch in Russia.

Sorry Arsh but I could have told you that one.

Arshavin also admitted to being out of shape and said, "(against Fulham) Even before the end of the first half I felt as if I had spat my lungs out. It was a hard match for me. In the sceond half my legs simply refused to serve me."

This story is kind of comical to me. I seriously hope Arshavin wasn't sitting around for the past few months and just expected to waltz right into the most competitive league on the planet. 

As good of a player that Arshavin is, there is no one that can not work or get in shape and expect to make a difference on the field. 

Monday, March 2, 2009

New Power Rankings

Teams have hit the mid point in their seasons, and the Champions League and UEFA Cup tournaments are helping to show who the best players and best teams in the world are.

Here are this month's Club and Player Power Rankings.

For the club teams, I will take into account the clubs place in the league standings, the level of competition in the league, and success in international and domestic tournaments.

For the players, I will judge the form in which the player is in by the amount of goals, assists and key plays made, as well as overall value of the player to his team. Also keep in mind that when I rank the players, it is not only a ranking for that month but rather their overall form and reputation. (For example Kaka could be having a great season, have an off month, but still easily be the best player in the world at the moment.)



Club Teams:
1. Manchester United (England)
2. Barcelona (Spain)
3. Chelsea (England)
4. Inter Milan (Italy)
5. Liverpool (England)
6. Real Madrid (Spain)
7. Lyon (France)
8. Juventus (Italy)
9. Bayern Munich (Germany)
10. Arsenal (England)

Manchester United is number 1 for winning 3 tournaments so far this season, as well as putting themselves in a good position to win the FA Cup and Champions League title. Barcelona would have been a sure bet number 1 if not for their recent slip ups in La Liga. Barcelona previously had a double digit lead in the standings but now their lead is only 4 points. Bayern Munich makes the top 10 despite struggling in the Bundesliga because of their great displays in the Champions League tournament. AC Milan crashing out of the UEFA Cup is reason enough for them to crash out of the top 10.



Players:

1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
3. Kaka (AC Milan)
4. Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona)
5. Samuel Eto'o (Barcelona)
6. Fernando Torres (Liverpool)
7. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
8. David Villa (Valencia)
9. John Terry (Chelsea)
10. Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)

Lionel Messi is still the best player in the world at the moment and I would certainly bet that he will win the Ballon d'Or next year. However, in my opinion the player who is playing like the best in the world at the moment is Messi's teammate Samuel Eto'o. Eto'o has turned himself from a very good striker to possibly the best striker in the world. Eto'o currently has 23 goals in 23 games in La Liga and appears to be unstoppable. Torres, Gerrard, Kaka and Fabregas all remain in the top 10 despite their injury troubles this season because of their skill on the field when they actually do play. 

The rest of the top 50 will be posted in the comments section....

Let me know if you agree or disagree with the rankings! Email me your power rankings at mad6986@gmail.com or submit a comment with your own rankings!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Manchester United are Champions Once More



Manchester United defeated Tottenham in a penalty shootout 4-1 to win the Carling Cup. 

The match was a scoreless draw going into the shootout which saw a couple of saves from backup goalkeeper Ben Foster. 

Manchester did not play Wayne Rooney or Dimitar Berbatov but the defense led by Rio Ferdinand was enough to a least keep the game close. 

Tottenham did not use Robbie Keane in the game, and they could have really used his scoring touch. 

Manchester United are now on pace to win every competition they are entered in to as they have already won the Community Shield and the Club World Cup. 



Just a final thought....when is a referee going to get the guts to call a penalty on Cristiano Ronaldo for his run up on penalty kicks. Every time he takes a penalty kick it is boarder line illegal (as this one was) and sometimes they are just blatantly illegal.