Saturday, May 26, 2012


No urgency for Bilbao to play in this final match. It feels like a friendly. The defenders kept sending back passes to the goalie even in such dangerous situations while the goalie seemed to be challenged never to kick high balls to clear from urgent situations. When they got their rare chances in front of goal, they squandered them, even some really decent open chances.

I did not wake up early enough to watch how the first goal was scored but the 2nd and 3rd goal were scored both in such situations.  Bilbao played as if they were prepared to lose the match. They played as if they were in a friendly and with no urgency to catch up with Barcelona. Guardiola won his final match and tournament as Barcelona's coach. This is probably the last competitive match before the EURO2012!

Congratulations to Barcelona for winning the Copa del Rey and Messi for adding one more goal to already an incredible season loaded with goals!

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Monday, May 21, 2012


First of all, congratulations to Chelsea for winning their first Champions League crown with a (1-1 full time) 4-3 penalty shoot-out score against Bayern Munich! Secondly, congratulations to Napoli for winning their fourth Coppa Italia crown (the last one being in 1987 - the Maradona era) with a 2-0 score against Juventus. It is indeed a sweet victory after waiting for 22 years for a silverware. Well, there is a reason why I titled my post as Di Matteo & Napoli. The reason is pretty obvious.

Di Matteo is probably (I don't have the stats but) the first interim / caretaker manager to win the Champions League crown. When he became the interim boss (after André Villas-Boas' sacking), Chelsea were on the brink of exit in the last 16 of the Champions League. If you remember the first leg was lost at 3-1 at Napoli. Everyone thought it was the end of Chelsea in the tournament. Di Matteo came and did a miracle in the return leg at Stamford Bridge. They won 4-1 in extra-time which ended Napoli's superb run in Europe's biggest competition.

If last season was defined by the shocking run of André Villas-Boas' Porto, then this season can probably be defined by the fine run of Napoli and Athletic Bilbao. Athletic Bilbao became famous when they slayed Manchester United in the Europa League last 16. It was a pity that they were beaten in the final. They have a chance to carve a name for themselves if they overcome the mighty Barcelona in probably Pep Guardiola's final match as manager for Barcelona. All eyes will be on the Copa del Rey final before the start of the EURO2012.

As for Chelsea, especially Drogba and owner Abramovich, this will be a sweet victory after much unfairness had befallen to Chelsea in the tournament in the past. However, many immediate questions arise from the fate of the future of Di Matteo as well as some players. Di Matteo being an Italian as well as an ex-Lazio player may be forgiven for his tactical brand of defensive football now that they are the winners. Bayern Munich being so wasteful had only themselves to blame for losing the title. This is especially for Robben for missing a penalty. I guess Chelsea have the luck of the season as key players missed penalty against them in such high profile matches with added home advantages (Messi missed it during the 2nd leg semifinal at Camp Nou). Who else have such luck? Of course, Petr Cech was the big difference in the penalty shoot-out which saw the trophy going to Chelsea after Didier Drogba's equalizer as well as penalty shoot-out winner.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Much have changed since I last written anything and I am very keen to write something since many dramatic things have happened in the football world this season. It would be a football sin not to write anything! It is over a year since I last blogged! Incredible!

Barcelona were just dethroned in Spain while Manchester City beat Manchester United to the EPL title. The circumstances in which Manchester City won the league was incredible. Two extra-time goals with Aguero scoring the winning goal which enabled City to win the league by goal difference. If they follow the La Liga format, City still won because of a superior record face-to-face against United.  Both ended with 89 points with exactly the same 28 wins, 5 draws and 5 loses. City scored 93 goals and conceded 29 goals. United scored 89 goals and conceded 33 goals. City's home record is 18 wins, 1 draw and 0 lost while United's record is 15 wins, 2 draws, 2 loses. City's away record is 10 wins, 4 draws and 5 loses while United's record is 13 wins, 3 draws, 3 loses.

Arsenal also proved the critics wrong by finishing within the top four. They are 3rd at 70 points, 19 points away. Kudos to Wenger! Despite being pressured to leave early in the season, he managed to turn the team around. However, he must not rely entirely on youngsters again. I hope he will reconsider to invest in more reputed players so van Persie will stay. Tottenham finished 4th while Newcastle United finished 5th, above Chelsea at 6th. Liverpool finished 8th. As for Manchester, is this the sign of power shifting? Who knows, we will see what we will expect once the transfer window ended before the next season starts. I think United will definitely need to seriously look into its aging squad and consider solid players to beef up their squad. The same need to be mentioned about Chelsea. They have just as aging squad as we see in United.

As for Real Madrid, they finally ended Barcelona's title streak of the La Liga thrown. In the process, they also recorded an impressive 100 points (32 wins, 4 draws, 2 loses) with 16 wins, 2 draws and 1 lost away and home. Quite balanced I would say. They scored 121 goals and conceded 32 goals. Barcelona ended with 92 points (28 wins, 7 draws, 3 loses) with 17 wins, 1 draw, 1 lost at home and 11 wins, 6 draws, 2 loses while away. They scored 114 goals and conceded 29 goals. Valencia are 3rd with 30 points apart with 61 points! This will be a good point that La Liga is pretty much a two-horse race. However, we have two Spanish clubs in the Europa League final which Atletico Madrid won 3-0 against Athletic Bilbao.

Guardiola's exit as manager of FC Barcelona is definitely one of the shocking news to me this season. I did not expect him to throw the towel yet. Well, still Messi is Europe's top scorer with 50 goals in the league. He also tops the Champions League goal scoring table with 14 goals. Mario Gomez has 13 goals thus far. He also has 2 goals from friendlies, 2 for Copa del Rey and 3 from the Super Cup. He is indeed a goal scoring machine with the most goals this season or perhaps in any season compared throughout football history! He may still be able to add to his goal tally with the Copa del Rey final against Bilbao next weekend.

In Serie A, we see more farewells from a few giant names in the game. From AC Milan, we see the exit of Filippo Inzaghi, Alessandro Nesta, Clarence Seedorf and Gennaro Gattuso while Juventus have Alessandro Del Piero on the list. Both Inzaghi and Del Piero scored in their final matches. Inzaghi scored 126 goals from 300 club appearances while Del Piero scored 290 goals from 704 club appearances. Juventus won the league with 84 points against AC Milan's 80 points. This is considered a sweet return for them after the "Calciopoli" scandal as well as demotion to Serie B. Since the 2005 and 2006 titles were stripped, their last Serie A title was in 2003. The more incredible feat is the unbeaten record achieved by Juventus with 23 wins and 15 draws this season, only the third team to be able to do so in the Serie A history. They too like Barcelona still have a title to fight for with the Coppa Italia final against Napoli next weekend.

Before focusing on the EURO2012, the Champions League final is coming this Saturday! Chelsea VS. Bayern Munich. It was a shocking final where people expect at least Real Madrid or Barcelona or both to play in. I guess the arrangement of the El Clasico before the 2nd leg killed both the teams. Fatigue can be seen in both squads as they came out from a tiring weekend defending their honours before facing Chelsea and Bayern Munich. The pride was so much at stake during the El Clasico with further chances of both teams capable of winning the league with a victory in that match. Torres scored an incredible injury time goal that killed Barcelona in their own den. While Madrid went out from the penalty kick-out lottery at the end of the match. Well, based on the strength of players, I think Bayern Munich will have an advantage. They are also more experienced for the Champions League atmosphere and should withstand the pressure well. Chelsea, on the other hand, have a strong defence which they need to build as foundation in the match to win.

As for EURO2012, Spain and Germany will be the favourites with Holland as always expected to be among the contenders. Italy may be a dark horse to look out for. As for France and England, I really don't think they are dangerous enough. What about Croatia, the team which always surprises us in the big stage? We'll just have to keep watch during the group stages. From all the experiences of watching the World Cup and EURO of the past, the teams that perform well during the qualifying will not necessarily perform just as well during the tournament. For a more accurate assessment, we will just have to monitor every team's performance during the group stages. That is a good indicator and expectation of how far they will go in the tournament.

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