Danny's Football Bluff

March 26, 2012

March 26th, 2012

The English Premier League is turning into a chokers paradise, with three top teams all dropping points in vital matches this weekend. Chelsea & Tottenham played out a groin grabbingly dull 0-0 draw on Saturday, followed by Manchester City drawing with Stoke City. As if to prove that they are still relevant as a top team, Liverpool followed suit and lost to cellar dwellers Wigan Athletic. The winner being scored by Gary Caldwell, who holds the Champions League record for most own-goals. It’s all set up for Manchester United to claim a Steven Bradbury like waltz to the Championship. They play Fulham Tuesday morning Australian time.

Things are getting very interesting in Italy, with Juventus and AC Milan battling it out for the title. Only four points separate the two clubs, which put Milan fans in the very odd position of cheering on their arch rivals Inter when they played Juve yesterday. Inter have had a shocker of a season, and weren’t going to find form just to please their neighbours. They duly lost 2-0.

The A League final round played out yesterday, with only one real surprise. Fox Sports tried to market the last few matches as ‘Super Sunday’, but to no real excitement. Sydney FC saw off Newcastle with ease, Brisbane dismissed Gold Coast after an early scare, and Central Coast defeated Wellington. This gives the Mariners the Premier’s Plate, which is the trophy awarded to the team who finishes the season on top of the ladder. This is how the championship is decided in all the big football leagues, but not in Australia, as we need a grand final or else we don’t understand who has won. The only surprise was that the A-League forgot to take the Premier’s Plate over to Wellington, so the trophy was not awarded. However credit to the people of New Zealand who fashioned a makeshift trophy out of an Esky and Central Coast were awarded the ‘Champion’s Chillybin’ of 2012.

By the way, if you ever want to test how much of a football fan someone is in Australia. Ask them how long a league is, as in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. If they know it is about 5.5 kilometres then you know they are a fan. See every time you do a google search for A-League, it tells you how long a league is.

Here are next week’s finals:
Major Semi Final leg one – Brisbane v Central Coast
Elimination Final One – Wellington v Sydney
Elimination Final Two – Perth v Melbourne Heart

Have a look, they should be great matches. Well, except for Perth v Heart, sorry Jambos fans but I think Perth will thump you. Will be happy to be proved wrong.

Goal of the week –

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March 19, 2012

March 19th 2012

It was an unhappy day for Scottish Football yesterday. Not only because Celtic lost to Kilmarnock in the League Cup Final. No really, it’s fine, it’s good for football. I’m not mad, honestly. Just stop asking okay? Sheez. However the joy for the Ayrshire team was short lived after midfielder Liam Kelly’s father Jack collapsed at the final whistle and died of a heart attack. The feeling in the Killie rooms was described as ‘despondent’. This, combined with Bolton Wanderer’s Fabrice Muamba suffering cardiac arrest during his side’s fixture against Tottenham, has made it a sobering weekend of football. For the record, Kilmarnock’s keeper Cammy Bell played the game of his life making nine saves and ruining Celtic’s treble dreams. Now can we talk about something else?

Who can still win a domestic Treble for season 2011/12? Well, Liverpool would need a mathematical miracle to win the Premier League but they could do a League Cup/FA Cup double after they swept aside Stoke City. Barcelona won the Supacopa de Espana and is in the final of the Copa Del Rey, however they are eight points adrift of Real Madrid in La Liga, so they’re unlikely. In France Paris St Germaine may also go two out of three, as they are on top of the Ligue 1 and in the semi finals of the Coupe de France. In other leagues it is only possible to win the double – in Italy Juventus and AC Milan are still alive in all contests, same for Borussia Dortmond, Bayern Munich and Borussia Monchengladbach. So come on glory hunters! Pick a team and get bandwagon jumping before the season’s over!

In England, where there are about eight matches remaining, things are heating up for the pivotal relegation/promotion race. Realistically the five teams that could drop out of the Premier League are: Wolverhampton, Wigan, Queens Park Rangers, Bolton and Blackburn. Eager to take their place are championship contenders: Southampton, Reading, West Ham, Birmingham, Blackpool, Middlesbrough, Hull, Cardiff and Brighton. You may think that in the A-League we don’t have relegations but think again. Last year’s cellar dwellers North Queensland Fury were dissolved after finishing last, a fate that may await Gold Coast United as well. Although that’s not so much ‘relegated’ as ‘disappeared up Clive Palmer’s arse’.

On a more positive note the A-League finals begin in two weeks. To remind you 1st and 2nd play each other over two legs for the right to host the Grand Final. 3rd play 6th as well as the 4th and 5th, these are knock out comps, the winners play each other for the chance to play the loser of the 1st v 2nd matches in the preliminary final which is played over two legs, the winner advancing to the grand final. Confused? Understandable – to be brutally honest, just enjoy the football and wait for the inevitable Central Coast v Brisbane grand final.

Embarrassment of the week – there are many times to fake an injury, I’ve just never seen it done after celebrating a goal. [At the 3.44 mark!]

Goal of the week –

March 12, 2012

March 12th 2012

For the first time in almost five months, Manchester City is not on top of the English Premier League. The blue half of Manchester is very much in panic stations as the familiar story of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory seems to be playing out. Their cross town rivals United are more than happy to play the role of pantomime villain and take the top spot. In footballing terms City fans are right to panic, the team are lacking fluency and seem out of sorts; however the Sky Blue fans can take solace in the fact that they are playing to perfection the role of the Mighty Ducks. It’s the classic tale – Multi Millionaire Arab Sheik collects ragtag group of misfit top-rated footballers. At first they don’t get along but then things finally begin to gel… things go bad before the end of the season to set up a plucky heart warming victory at the end. Trust me City fans, it’ll all be okay when Carlos Tevez and Mario Ballotelli learn the true meaning of friendship…

Unless of course the rumours that City are about to snatch Robin Van Persie from Arsenal are true. Then the overly rich bastards can keep losing, serves them right. Stop trying to buy trophies and try and bring a positive culture to the club.

On a less ranty note – for the first time ever in European club competition it seems there will be no English teams in the Quarter Finals of the Champions League or Europa League. Chelsea are England’s last hope but they trail Napoli 3-1 going into the second leg. Danny’s Football Bluff favourites Apoel from Cyprus continued their fairytale run by defeating French giants Lyon. They have joined Barcelona, Benfica and AC Milan. For those unfamiliar with Apoel their last trophy was the 2010 Cypriot Supercup – a basketball trophy.

Closer to home and the Socceroos’ road to Brazil was revealed as the final round of World Cup Qualifiers was announced on Friday night. Our lads will play Oman, Japan, Jordan and Iraq. Australia is the favourite to progress to the finals, however we might not be guaranteed of that until June 2013. In the meantime we have friendlies lined up against Denmark for the Frederick-Mary Cup and Scotland for the Liver Cirrhosis Shield.

Yesterday I watched Brisbane Roar play Adelaide United with a friend from England who had not watched A-league. After reassuring him that the Australian competition was not as bad as he imagined, we were then treated to the most inept finishing in the history of sport. A team of blind amputee donkeys would have had better finishing. Even after they’d been shot.

To distract from this horror show – here is proof that other competitions have shockers too:

Goal of the Week – [Forgive the music]

March 5, 2012

March 5th, 2012

There was a particularly ‘Old West’ feel to the Tyne-Ware Derby last night between Newcastle & Sunderland. The Black Cats took the lead in the first half when Mike WIlliamson threw Michael Turner to the ground as if he was trying to slide the Sunderland player right across the saloon bar and get his head to land in a spittoon. Nicklaus Bendtner, wearing a face mask reminiscent of the Lone Ranger, converted the penalty easily. Then the brawling continued, Stephane Sessegnon was sent off for elbowing Cheik Tiote and at this stage there had been more cards than shots on goal. The cavalry came for Newcastle in injury time when Shola Ameobi equalized. Leaving the agitated Sunderland team to ride off into the miserable overcast.

The bigger news to come out of England was the sacking of manager Andre Villas-Boas by Chelsea. Since 2007 when Jose Mourinho left in controversial circumstances the Blues have gone through five managers, including some of the greatest football minds on the planet. Luiz Felipe Scolari – a World Cup winner, Guus Hiddink – deadset legend, Carlo Ancelotti – two time Champions League winner who took Chelsea to the Premier League & FA Cup double two seasons ago, and Villas-Boas himself is the youngest manager to ever win the Europa League. Quite simply – Chelsea are going through the footballing elite so quickly they’re running out of people to hire and fire. And who would want the job? You’d need someone who is part evil genius and part delusional egomaniac – so naturally Mourinho once again is the favourite.

Speaking of delusional egomaniacs – Clive Palmer started his own football association last week, with rumours he would like to start a rival competition to the A-League. The situation was summed up perfectly by comedian Adam Rozenbach “I bet Gold Coast United win the premiership in the Gold Coast United Football League”
Follow Rozie on twitter – @arozenbachs

FIFA announced it will trial goal line technology at the Club World Cup in Japan this year, bringing the sport up to date with the late 20th century. Next they’ll be clamping down on players diving and high level corruption… these reforms are due to take place in late 2082.

If you’re feeling down about your team’s disappointing season, cheer up; at least you don’t support South African Side ‘Powerlines’ who were beaten 24-0 in the Nedbank Cup. The Powerlines manager was quoted as saying, “This is an embarrassing day, but at least we’re not owned by Clive Palmer”

Goal of the week –

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