World Cup Preview #5 : Brazil

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‘Penta-campeon’ or 5-time champion and eternal favorite Brazil is one of the few teams that announced the squad of 23 players for the world cup with a month to go before the show-piece in South Africa kicks off on June 11th.
Coach Dunga announced a squad full of consistent performers, physically very strong players mirroring his own personality, very unlike the stereotype image of ‘jogo bonito’ (the beautiful game). Kaka to a large extent and Robinho/Nilmar to a lesser extent will add the creative element to an otherwise bland side. The exclusion of Ronaldinho surprised many, especially considering that he has been in good form for AC Milan all through the season. Exclusion of Adriano was largely expected, considering the train-wreck that he is. Lots of supporters in Brazil wanted him to name the young and very talented duo of Santos, Ganso and Neymar but Dunga resisted the temptation and instead went for a set of players who fit his mould and rewarded those who have consistently performed over the past few years.

Playing style
Caveat: This is not your stereotype Brazilian outfit. Brazil will employ a classic 4-4-2 switching to a 4-3-1-2 every now and then. At the top, a big centre-forward Luis Fabiano (Sevilla) or Grafite (Wolfsburg) will be supported by Robinho who will be given a free role just behind the centre-forward. Kaka will play in the most advanced position in the midfield and will make his trademark powerful runs to the edge of the box with ample options to pass or shoot. One wonders if he has fully recovered from the long injury lay-off at his club Real Madrid but apart from that, Brazil’s hopes largely rest on the shoulders of Kaka. And opposition teams are well aware of this fact.

At the back Lucio and Juan will start in central defence with Bastos and Maicon as the left and right fullbacks. It is a pity that Dani Alves the dynamic right back of Barcelona will be forced to start on the bench. Pep Guardiola at Barcelona has tried Dani Alves on the right side of the midfield in a few games, and the results were mixed. I don’t think Dunga will be that adventurous but he might consider the option in case of suspensions or injuries. The midfield will include the hardworking Ramires, Kaka, Gilberto and either Felipe Melo or Elano.
The main problem for Brazil is the over-dependence on Kaka to do all creative duties and a lot depends on Robinho to attract the fullbacks and the central defenders of the opposition to make way for Kaka to making his runs in the final third of the pitch. Opposition teams will try to hurry Kaka into passing the ball and reduce his effectiveness.
Secondly Brazil is in the toughest group of the world cup alongside a strong Portugal and a very dangerous Cote d’Ivoire, and the complete unknown that is North Korea. I see this group won’t be decided until the last group match, where Brazil takes on Portugal. And to top that whoever comes 2nd in Group G will most likely get to face Spain in the 2nd round.
Finally Brazil don’t have cover for Kaka on the bench. They have to play different style if Kaka has an off day or he cannot play due to injuries. The methodical Dunga will have a plan B but the question is, will it work?

Brazil is in the toughest group in the tough lower half of the draw. I won’t be surprised if the fail to advance from Group G, however it is unthinkable.
I believe Brazil could go all the way to the finals if they don’t meet Spain in Round 2. If they end up running to Spain in the 2nd round, I see about 30% chances that they advance.

Prediction (avoiding Spain):
Prediction (Spain in 2nd round): 2nd round elimination
Team Bus Slogan: Lotado! O Brasil inteiro está aqui dentro! (The whole of Brazil is in here!)
Rating: 7/10. Imaginative.

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World Cup Preview #4: México

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México - Can ‘El Trí’ overcome their 2nd round blues?
After a bad start to the qualifying campaign under Sven Goran Eriksson, Javier Aguirre returned for a second stint with “El Trí” and ensured that México qualified with games to spare. In the process he built a team which is a goof mix of veterans like Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Rafa Marquez, Gerardo Torrado and exciting young players like Javier Hernandez (Man.United), Carlos Vela (Arsenal).
México has always played well in the group stages of the world cup. The usually get eliminated in the 2nd round. The two occasions on which they advanced to quarterfinals in 70 & 86, they were the hosts. The Mexican people support their team passionately and have high hopes. Having had the opportunity to live in México, I can vouch that the hype and expectations are comparable to those in India for cricket.

In the 90s the Mexican national team used to be made of primarily homegrown players from the Mexican league, probably the richest league outside the big European leagues. It has been changing a lot in the past decade, especially ever since Rafa Marquez moved to FC Barcelona. No almost half of the players in the team play in big leagues of Europe. Added to the mix, Javier Aguirre who has been very successful, this is a very well drilled team with a lot of exposure to the top players in the world.

Style of Play
México traditionally are very good with the ball. Slick passing by the pivots in the midfield, skillful wingers stuck to the touch-lines going up and down plus a host of good 2nd striker kind of players who play behind the center-forward. What they usually lack are quality strikers, the center-forwards in particular.
Depending on the opponent, they usually switch between a 3-5-2 formation against the more accomplished teams or a 4-5-1 (or a 4-1-4-1 with Marquez anchoring in front of the defence) against teams that are not good at possession. Two holding midfielders in the midfield like Rafa Marquez and Torrado play in front of the 3 central defenders Salcido, Osorio and Francisco Rodriguez. Andres Guardado will be play on the left wing and is a very good at the classic wing play as well as shoot from medium distance. Alberto Medina or Carlos Vela will do the same on the right side (or sometimes play as the 2nd striker). Guillermo Franco or the young Javier Hernandez will likely be alone up front with Giovanni Dos Santos/Cuauhtémoc Blanco in 2nd striker/free role. You will see México keeping the ball for long periods in the game even against accomplished sides.

México is one of the few teams who have been training together as a team (except those playing in the European Leagues) since April. They have played a bunch of friendlies against African nations to prepare for their first opponent South Africa and close out with a series of games against the top sides in Europe like England, Netherlands among others. This is a definitely a positive for México.
One of the causes of concern is the lack of enough quality in front of the goal. It was evident at the recent friendly against England at Wembley. México dominated possession in both halves of the game and created a lot of chances but failed to capitalize and were soundly beaten in the end. The lack of directness, rather the lack of a plan B to switch to a more direct approach should their plan A isn’t working has been the undoing of México for years.
The 2nd biggest issue is the lack of size, most of the players are small and they can be overpowered at times, especially while defending set pieces.
Depending on the their strengths oppositions will either counterattack by soaking up the Mexican possession and try to win free kicks close to the 18 yard box. If México falls behind their style of play makes is doubly difficult for them to come back. On the same coin if they take an early lead they can run away with the game against the best of them. A lot depends on the finish of Javier Hernandez and the experienced Guillermo Franco. Blanco will be primarily used as an impact sub in the 2nd half, at 35+ he doesn’t have the legs of the past but his vision and the reading of the game are still intact and can unleash a great pass at any time.

México are in an open group with no clear favorites. South Africa, France and Uruguay do not necessarily strike fear, but at the same time each of them will be feeling very good about their chances. They could run into bitter rivals Argentina in the 2nd round, a repeat of the 2nd round cracker in 2006 which the Argentinians won through a wonder goal from Maxi Rodriguez in overtime.
I predict México to breakthrough their wall and make it to Quarter-final. With a few lucky breaks with the draw, I won’t be surprised if they make it to the semi-finals because they are in the easier half of the draw.

Team Bus Slogan: ¡Es tiempo de un nuevo campeón! (It is time for a new champion).
Slogan Rating: 8/10. Bold and positive.

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en español?

volvemoos a español?
ahí vamos!


Funny Caricatures of all the world cup teams

These are really funny, some more so than the other.


World Cup Previews::Brazil and Mexico

The wait is almost over, these two should be out in the next 24 h


Jose Mourinho & Real Madrid : The Saga has begun.

Mourinho is all set to be appointed the manager of Real Madrid this week. This is going to be interesting. A marriage of 2 conflicting models and philosophies. On one side we have Real Madrid, the biggest football club in the world with a very business like corporate structure which includes a board of directors and sporting director who is incharge of all the transfers and signing new players and the only duty of the coach/manager is to manage the team.
On the other side we have Jose Mourinho who demands (and gets) a carte-blanche and total control of the signings and transfers along with the training and managing the team.

Both are now united by necessity from Real Madrid's perspective as they have been searching for the elusive mix of the playing beautifully and winning. For Mourinho this is another jewel in his already glittering crown but based on his stints at Porto, Chelsea & Inter, he is more interested in winning than the 'play beautiful football' part.
Agreed, style of play is a very very subjective thing. Real Madrid fans and Madrid press are a fickle lot. These folks booed Zidane in his time as well Cristiano Ronaldo at times this past season.

Will Mourinho adapt? Can he achieve the twin objectives of Real Madrid to play beautiful football & win the titles?

Madrid is paying a boatload of money to get Mourinho to Madrid. Neither Real Madrid nor Mourinho is known for their patience. Lots of ego, pride and money. It remains to be seen how this will pan out through the summer and in the coming season.


Inter Milan : Champions of Europe

Inter Milan of Jose Mourinho completed the League-Cup-Champions League treble with a hard fought 2-0 win.

Quick thoughts

1. Bayern came out firing and had the upper hand in the initial stages of the game.
2. Inter let Bayern keep majority of the possession and counter-attacked effectively
3. Julio Cesar made a few great saves and won half the final for Inter, quite probably the best goalkeeper at the moment in World football.
4. Di Michelis & Van Buyten had major problems coping with the crafty Diego Milito
5. Etoo started as a atriker according to the line-up displayed on TV, but in the end played as an auxilary defender on the wing for the most part.
6. Mourinho announced he is leaving Inter for Madrid. Nothing surprising there.

Man of the Match : Diego Milito
Man of the Match#2 : Julio Cesar

Question for next season: Will Mourinho satisfy the Bernabeu faithful's craving for beautiful football? If we go by today's game, at times Inter made Bayern look like Barça. Mind you, in Spain even the now-relegated Tenerife can play possession football very well.


World Cup Preview #4 : Brazil

penta-campeón, five time champions are up next.
Can they become sexta-campeón? watch out...


World Cup Preview #3: England

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After narrowly failing to qualify for Euro 2008, England under Fabio Capello have made quick work of their world cup qualifying group and qualified for the World Cup with relative ease. While the qualification was never in doubt from what was an easy group, England under Capello have been a revelation, especially the manner in which they overcame Croatia, England's bogey team from Euro 2008 qualification.
However, the real test for England and Capello is the World Cup. Capello raised the stakes when he told the reporters that not reaching the final would be a failure. Brave posturing from the seasoned Italian.
Capello has announced the list of 30 players to be pruned to the final list of 23 in the coming weeks. No major surprises except for the surprise un-retirement of Jamie Carragher and the inclusion of the injured Gareth Barry.
The selection of the likes of Michael Dawson, Leighton Baines, Ledley King, Tom Huddlestone, Adam Johnson, Darren Bent et al, shows that Don Fabio has made good use of his time watching a lot of EPL games to identify and reward the in-form players irrespective of their teams. Only 5 strikers have been named in the list of 30 which means it is almost certain that all of them: Bent, Crouch, Defoe, Heskey and Rooney will in the final squad.

How does England play?
England under Capello have played with lot more discipline than they ever did under Eriksson or McLaren. 4-4-2 formation has been the norm with Rooney as the main striker and Heskey primarily used to take advantage of his size and pull the central defenders to make space for Rooney as well as Lampard or Barry to drive from the midfield. John Terry and King/Carragher will start in the central defence with Ashley Cole and Glen Johnson as the fullbacks. The midfield diamond will have Lampard at the top with Stevie G and Lennon/Milner on the edges and Barry/Carrick at the bottom of the diamond.
Pacy winger Theo Walcott will mostly be used as an impact sub in the 2nd halves. Defoe will most likely be the first change for Heskey especially if England is trailing. Ashley Cole is very good on the left overlapping and supporting the attack.

The problem with this England squad is the imbalance in talent among GK, Midfield, Defence & Forwards. England has a great set of midfield players, very good defense, average GK and average strike force with the exception of one Wayne Rooney.

How will the oppositions play against England?
Oppositions will try to shadow and mark out Rooney, try and limit his impact by dragging him to wide positions. This is the where Emile Heskey's contributions will be crucial. Although he is not a prolific goal-scorer by any means Capello likes him because he has been doing a great job complementing Rooney.
England is not a ball possession team by nature; although the likes of Lampard and Rooney can keep possession against the best and win back the ball. In the group phase they will face Algeria, Slovenia and the USA. None of these teams is known for their possession football so England won’t have to worry a lot about getting starved of the ball. USA seems to be toughest of the three opponents and England open their campaign against USA. USA is a counterattacking team and from the little I know about Slovenia they will also play a counter-attacking game against England. On the surface Algeria seems to be weakest of them ball but be aware that they eliminated the African Champions and the fancied and very talented Egypt.
I predict this group to produce some of the dullest games of the tournament.

How far England will go?
England are in the easy half of the draw, I fancy them to make it to semi-finals.
England should come out of the Group C on top. Then they might run into either Germany/Serbia/Ghana or even the feisty Australia (Group D has no walkover). England has the fire-power to prevail over anyone from group D in the round 2 (unless they run into an in-form Ghana with crowd behind them). We could potentially have a juicy quarter-final or semifinal matchup between England-Argentina (nothing stokes up people like an England- Argentina tie).

Prediction : Losing semi-finalist.

Caption on the team bus: Playing with Pride and Glory >>
Rating: 5/10. In one word, Mundane.

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World Cup Preview #3 : England

Capello and the Queen's team.

Coming soon.. keep watching this space.


Champions League Final Inter Milan X Bayern Munich : Preview Part #2

Champions League final Part# 1

Bayern’s journey to the final

Bayern Munich had trouble getting out of their group, just like Inter. They eliminated Juventus in the last group match to progress to the round of 16. They were lucky to eliminate Fiorentina through a clear offside goal. First leg ended 2-1 in Munich and the 2nd leg ended 3-2 in Florence. They faced Manchester United in the Quarter-final. Bayern were outplayed for most part of the first leg yet they took a slender lead of 2-1 to Manchester through and injury time goal. The 2nd leg seemed headed towards a blowout with United scoring 3 first half goals. A wonder strike from Robben in the 2nd half broke the hearts of the Old Trafford faithful.
Bayern dispatched another surprise of the tournament Olympique Lyon with ease winning both legs.

Keys to Bayern

Ribery on the left wing and Robben on the right wing have been the keys to success of the Bavarians. The tireless and opportunistic Croat striker Ivica Olic is the unsung hero of this team. There is nothing flashy in his approach but very effective. The backline is very dodgy yet they have been able to overcome the defects with grit and the flashes of brilliance on their wings. Louis Van Gaal had a tough time early in the season and was about to be fired. But the win in Turin over Juventus started the turnaround and now they are gunning for the treble having already bagged the German Cup and the Bundesliga title.

Keys to the final

There are no big surprises here. Bayern will miss Ribery and Inter will miss Motta through suspension. Bayern will use Robben on the right wing to draw the defenders and open space for Ivica Olic, Muller in the middle. Inter will try to shield out Robben to cut the supply to the Bayern strikers.
Inter will start in their 4-3-3 (or 4-3-2-1) formation with Etoo-Milito-Pandev trident in front supported by Cambiasso, Stankovic and Sneijder playing the linking with strikers and playing between the lines. Bayern has to come up with a good scheme to stop these guys. The central defenders of Bayern, De Michelis and Van Buyten are not very mobile. Philip Lahm, Scheinsteiger, Altintop will have to help out in defence to keep out the dangerous forwards of Inter. I believe this aspect will decide the game.


Inter will win 3-1, provided they start with a positive and attacking line-up. I cannot see the Bayern defence holding up to the threat of Inter forwards. However if they start with a more defensive lineup, with a holding midfielder in place of Goran Pandev, they will play into the hands of Bayern and I can see this go into extra-time.


World Cup Preview#2 : Argentina

When Diego Maradona took the job of managing Argentina's national team, there were mixed reactions. Most thought he neither had the experience nor the tactical mind to take a high profile yet underachieving Argentina to a World cup win. But make no mistake, everyone agreed on one thing. With Diego, it will never be boring.

The qualifying campaign was anything but smooth. Argentina made heavy work of beating a weak Peru in the final game and receiving a favor from Uruguay who drew in their final game enabling Argentina to squeeze into the showpiece in South Africa.

Almost 2 years in and trying out close to 100 players in the qualifiers and friendlies, experts and fans alike are scratching their heads on what this Argentina about, the formation, the style etc. If anything the provisional squad announced by Maradona made the matters worse adding more confusion.

Based on what Maradona has done in the past (again, this means jack as far as what he will do in the world cup :)) Argentina will play in a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 at the start.

Maradona announced that Heinze, Samuel, Di Michelis and Ottamendi will be the starting back four, the problem all of these are primarily central defenders. This is a big problem if the fullbacks cannot overlap and support the attacking midfielders. If you have seen Javier Zanetti with Inter the last few seasons, it makes no sense he is not in list of 30.

In the midfield, Juan Veron is the brain and Mascherano does the dirty work. The problem here is Veron is past his prime and is a 45-minute player at best. And there is no real backup for Veron. If Veron has to substituted early into the 2nd half, either Argentina have to change shape or put someone like Javier Pastore who is very different from Veron in his place.

Upfront, Maradona is spoiled for choice. He has Messi, Tevez, Higuain, Milito who have scored close to 120 goals put together season. Messi and Higuain/Milito are primed to start. Again, no clue why he has picked up 36 year old Palermo.

How will Argentina play?

Argentina will employ a 4-4-2 with Messi as the 2nd striker behind Milito or Higuain. Maxi Rodriguez and Angel Di Maria will probably accompany Veron and Mascherano in a classic 2-pivot 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1.

I see two main problems
1. With no true fullbacks, Argentina will lack both width and depth in attack.
2. Quality opponents could mark out Messi and make him come deep into midfield to get the ball taking him out of spaces around the box and between the midfield and the centre forward where he is most dangerous.

As a result, the back four and the midfield will be disjointed from the attacking players. I cant read Maradona's mind (i dont think anyone can) but the plan seems to be keep a clean-sheet at the back and either pass the ball to Messi and ask him to do the rest or lump long balls forward hoping to sneak a goal and ride it out.
If the above fails and Argentina go behind, Maradona will throw in more strikers but there is not much in the list of 30 that shows they can change something dramatically.

How far they will go?
Argentina is in a relatively easy group with Nigeria, South Korea and Greece. The quality upfront with Messi & company should see them through this group and they would run into either Mexico, France or Uruguay in the 2nd round. Again I can see Argentina squeezing through the 2nd round as they dont really run into a heavyweight.

Quarterfinals is the farthest I see them going, and I wont be surprised if they get eliminated earlier.

Note to Argentine Football Association (AFA) : Please go get a real coach. You are doing tremendous disservice to lot of hugely talented players. And this is coming from a die-hard fan of Diego Armando Maradona, the player.

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Champions League Final Inter Milan X Bayern Munich : Preview Part #1

When: May 22nd 20.45 CET

Where: Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid, Spain.

The final of Champions League features two unlikely teams in Jose Mourinho's Inter and Louis Van Gaal's Bayern Munich. At the start of the tournament the fancied teams were the defending champions FC Barcelona the losing finalists Manchester United and the hosts Real Madrid, especially after their huge signings including Cristiano Ronaldo aka CR9.
The old cliché "that’s why they play the games" is very apt here.

Inter’s journey to final

Inter was drawn in a tough group with Barcelona, Dynamo Kyiv and Rubin Kazan. Both Barcelona and Inter had a lot of difficulty playing the Russian and Ukrainian champions, especially playing in Kazan in harsh weather conditions. Going into the last game of the group against Rubin Kazan, Inter was still not sure of advancing.

In the end, Inter finished 2nd in the group. They were drawn against Jose's old team Chelsea in the round of 16. Inter hasn’t advanced past this stage in a lot of years, and one of the reasons why Inter spent a lot of money last summer is to mount a serious challenge to win the Champions league. They have won a lot of Scudettos (Serie A titles) over the past 5 years. The first leg at San Siro was an open and entertaining game that ended 2-1. In the 2nd leg in London, contrary to everyone's expectations Mourinho sent out a very attacking line-up. This and the amazing work rate of Milito, Etoo and Motta ensured Inter's passage into the Quarter-finals, where they met one of the surprises of this year, CSKA Moscow. Inter dispatched them home with clinical effectiveness winning both legs 1-0 and set-up the drama-filled semifinal clash with the defending champions Barcelona.

The first-leg of the semifinal at San Siro was fast-paced and fascinating. Inter fell behind early but stormed back to score 3 goals against a lackluster FC Barcelona. Wesley Sneijder and Diego Milito played a blinder of a game. 3-1 first leg. Mourinho parked the bus at Camp Nou to get hold on gamely to the 2 goal advantage. Inter advance despite a loss at the Camp Nou 3-2 on aggregate.

Keys to Inter
The new signings Diego Milito, Thiago Motta and Wesley Sneijder along with Samuel Etoo have made the big difference for Inter. The work rate of Etoo and Milito and their application to defensive duties during key phases of the game have enabled Mourinho to start with 5 attacking players at time. A case in point is the defensive labor of Samuel Etoo in the 2nd leg of semifinal. He had no shot on goal but was constantly putting pressure on Barcelona's midfield. Solidity at the back with seasoned campaigners like Lucio, Samuel and Maicon along with a Julio Cesar in the goal, Inter is a very compact and a versatile team.
Credit goes to the manager Jose Mourinho and the director Massimo Moratti who was instrumental in bringing all the new players.

Watch out for Part#2 covering the journey of Bayern, the keys to the final and the prediction :).
Part #2 will be out in roughly 2 days time.


World Cup Preview # 2 : Argentina

Mad Maradona's weird squad.

Coming soon....

La Liga Season Finale day#1

Villareal finish 7th and missed out the last Europa League birth. Getafe finished 6th to take their place in the Europa League. I think Getafe deserved it more than they Yellow submarine.
Tha brings to an end of a tumultous season for Villareal who touched the depths of being last in La Liga for a couple of weeks, coaching changes, injuries never let the team settle down to a rythm. Good luck for next season! Aupa Submarino!

Sevilla corral the final champions league spot in dramatic fashion, scoring the winning goal in the last minute of added time to pip Mallorca. Mallorca is the surprise package of the season as nobody expected them to challenge for Champions League spot.

Tomorrow the drama will unfold on the relegation dogfight with 4 teams on 36 and one on 33 and the mother of all of them, the title deciding Malaga - Real Madrid and Barcelona - Valladolid with Barcelona ahead of Madrid by just one point and Malaga & Valladolid in the thick of battle to stay up on 36 points each.

Opportunity lost

Tried my luck at getting an opportunity to be a part of the Guardian's fan network. bummer! didnt get selected. This blog will continue nevertheless.



World Cup Preview #1 : Spain

Spain has to prove its Euro 2008 victory wasn't a fluke - no easy task. They face a very accomplished Chile, a physically strong Honduras and the dark horse Switzerland in the group stage.

They will retain the core of the Euro 2008 squad and play the trademark ball possession and passing game. Fernando Torres will lead the forward line, with David Villa, who will drift into wide positions often; both supported by David Silva and Andres Iniesta on the wings with Xavi Hernandez in the midfield alongside Xabi Alonso or Marcos Senna. Ramos-Pique-Albiol-Capdevila will start at the back.

The bench will feature the electric winger from Seville, Jesus Navas, the prolific Pedro Rodriguez of Barcelona and the big center forward Fernando Llorente of Bilbao as an option B to help break through defensive walls in the second halves.

Coach Vicente Del Bosque has a potentially debilitating three injured players (Torres, Iniesta and Fabregas) with six weeks to go, who are expected to be fit just in time for the World Cup. Some key players from the Euro 2008, Marcos Senna and Santi Cazorla, are struggling and could miss the world cup. Injuries apart, I believe they have a strong squad and a very good talent pool to choose from.

The biggest positional weakness is the left-back position. First choice Joan Capdevila aged 32 is great going forward but teams can exploit the space behind him when he doesn’t track back. They can also stifle Spain on the left side if he stays back against attacking right wingers/backs. Tactically, counterattacking teams that are comfortable without the ball and opponents with a big physical presence will pose a threat to Spain.
Spain can go all the way, unless they run into Brazil in the second round - which cuts their chances to 50-50.

Spain has announced the 30 probables. No big surprises. The fact that they selected 5 goalkeepers in the list indicates they have few selection worries.

Prediction : Champion, if they dont cross swords with Brasil in the 2nd round


Coming up - World cup previews

I will start putting up previews of all the 32 teams as teams start to finalize their 30 man lineups. Some have already done it.



wow! matchday #37 la liga was a cracker.
Madrid pull away in the 2nd half, Barcelona hold on to their 1 pt lead.
Villareal end the game with 9 men but still win keeping the Europa league hopes alive. Everything will be decided in the Liga final next week.
Cant wait for the matchday# 38

La Liga jornada 37 : multi-futbol

Todos los partidos a la misma hora y ya es la hora.
Vamos Villareal! Aupa submarino!
Madrid o Barça para la liga?
Getafe o Villarea para la Europa league?


La Liga Midweek

Villareal suffer a setback to their Europa league hopes with a 4-2 loss away to Almeria. The yellow team started brightly only to be reduced to 10 men on the 20 min mark and end the half down 3-0. They did make a brief comeback to 3-2 but Almeria sealed their place in La Liga for one more year with a late goal.

Barça win but not before some jitters after the modest Islanders from Tenerife equalized before half-time. Barcelona resolved the matters in the 2nd half with 3 goals.

The Barça win sets up a nice Mallorca X Madrid tomorrow in La Palma. Madrid has to win to keep up with Barça in the title chase. I fully expect another game like the Madrid x Osasuna on Sunday, gungho attacking, and little or no shape especially if Madrid are not winning in the 2nd half.


40 days to the World Cup

w0000000000t :)

Barcelona stays ahead in the title race

Barcelona kept their lead at the top of La Liga with a good win at Villareal. The final scoreline 4-1 is somewhat deceptive because Villareal played very well in the 2nd half and if not for a few missed chances in the first half, this scoreline would have ended a lot closer.
Messi scored a double, Xavi scored with and exquisite free-kick and Bojan scored the goal of the week for Barcelona. Joseba Llorente, who I felt was incorrectly left out of the startin g lineup, scored the only goal for the Yellow Submarine, 5 minutes after entering the game in the 2nd half.
Ibra came on late in the 2nd half, and it is clear that the problem is not all with Ibra and the fact is the home-grown Barcelona players dont seem capable of adjusting their game to help Ibra.

Real Madrid X Osasuna to start in less than 20 minutes. Real Madrid should win this easily, especially now that Osasuna is not in any real relegation danger.