Tag Archives: Australia

Friday Forecast – 4th May 2012


Didier Drogba Chelsea Liverpool FA Cup Premier League

up up and away didier

 

This is our preview for the weekend ahead – ensuring that our views are set in stone to be proven wrong come Monday.

Pick of the Week

Look no further than the Cup Final, scheduled in the evening for 2012. Traditionally the biggest match of the English calendar year, the lustre of the cup may have dulled of late, but for many, Wembley in May will always hold a certain sentimental privilege. The romantics haven’t failed us in 2012, with a perfect script delivering two sides converging towards fresh beginnings and distinctly new periods in the history of their clubs.

Newcastle vs City runs a close second and is the easy standout in the league. Here’s hoping for the type of titanic struggle that many of the “bigger” teams have already produced this season.

Bet of the Week

We like QPR into Bolton @ approx $4 depending on your bookie. Both sides are at home, against teams with nothing but Caribbean getaways to plan for. Expect sincere desperation from the trapdoor-threatened protagonists; for losing money is a legitimate motivation for effort. A loss in this fixture for either club, could see a miserable denouement of failure.

It’s a big Weekend for…

Several candidates over the next 4 days, but we’ll opt for a combination of Steven Kean, Venkys and the stumbling embarrassment that is Blackburn. Formerly a European dynasty, this marks a deterioration towards everyone’s most hated club. It is a little difficult to fuel the embers of sympathy for a side that has been overwhelmed by protests from within since before the new year. Even a win over a resounding Wigan may not be enough – a shambles that even poking fun at has become tiresome…

Tweet of the Week:

The Woy Hodgson XI

Wobinson
Wichards – Tewwy – Wio – Warnock
Gewward – Wodwell – Bawwy
Wellbeck – Wooney – Stuwwidge

#teamwoy

Best Article of the Week

That’s right, we also didn’t know Sol Campbell still warranted a formal retirement. Laughable really.

http://www.tottenblog.com/2012/05/happy-retirement-judas-scum-open-letter.html

What you should be listening to

Before a week ago, the name Tito Vilanova meant less to FFTD than the new Minister for Health in Bulgaria – but it did rekindle a genuine love for an absolute classic. You’ll work out where Mr Manager’s name fits in…

Come back next week for:

Season Reviews, Transfer musings, Euro excitement and dumb analysis as usual…

Have a footballing weekend!

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Questions of our Generation: Graeme Smith


 

 

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Group Matches (P)review


Round-up Groups A-D

So the 2010 World Cup is well under way, and with a paltry average of 1.56 goals a game after the first round of group games compared to 2.43 at this stage in 2006, I think it’s fair to say that this has not been quite what global audiences hoped or expected. A closer look, however, would suggest that perhaps this lack of goals is not so surprising; the defensively minded 4-2-3-1 formation du jour has certainly made itself known at the competition. Let’s hope for some more goals second time round!

So, a quick round up and summary of what can we expect from the rest of the group matches:

Group A

Ok, well South Africa have already lost 3-0 to a far more attack minded Uruguay outfit than we experienced against France back in the second match of the tournament, quite understandably. Whilst the scoreline is slightly flattering in favour of the South Americans, they certainly deserved the win, and South Africa’s discipline was poor. South Africa didn’t show the energy and creativity they did against Mexico, and talismanic midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala was wasteful. Diego Forlan proved his worth to Uruguay, scoring the first two goals and playing a part in the third and they now look well-placed to go through the group.

Coming up tonight is France v Mexico, a must-win game for both teams. France will surely drop the awful Govou for Florent Malouda, in the form of his career, and perhaps Franck Ribery will pass the ball to a player? It’s anyone’s guess! It would be nice to see ‘Handball-Henry’ for more than 20 minutes but seems unlikely given Raymond Domenech’s tendency to be a stubborn imbecile. Mexico will look to speedy youngster Giovanni dos Santos again to provide the flair for the team, as well as the basis for everything good they create – another example of a player who hasn’t had much club game time in recent years experiencing a resurgence in his fortunes at the World Cup. And perhaps ManU new boy Javi Hernandez will get a decent run?

Prediction: France 2-2 Mexico

Group B

Argentina escaped the brick wall of Nigeria with a less than convincing 1-0 win, but we were still lucky enough to witness some of the gold that makes Lionel Messi the best player in the world. Some strange decisions by mad-man Maradona, but that’s not really a surprise at all, is it? He came out and said that the only three players guaranteed starting positions were Messi, Mascherano, and Gutierrez – a fairly startling claim considering the wealth of talent in the squad. Then we witnessed the latter playing at right back, quite different from his left-wing berth at Newcastle – another instance of players too good to be left out, perhaps.  A tough game tonight against South Korea will likely prove a greater challenge than Nigeria. The Super Eagles looked strong at the back but were undone by Heinze’s rocket-header into the top-corner early on. They didn’t look so good up front, but with attacking players like Obafemi Martins, John Utaka, and Kanu supporting the Yak, they will always pose a threat, especially in the air.  Vincent Enyeama put in a great display between the sticks to keep them in the match, and they’ll fancy their chances of picking up 3 points tonight against Greece.

South Korea showed that they’ve got what it takes with a solid 2-0 win over a poor and frankly negative Greece. South Korea meet Argentina tonight in what will hopefully prove to be the most exciting game the group, and could well decide first place. Park Ji-Sung looked good, and their stylish play is in stark contrast to most teams in the tournament thus far. They will have to hold back a bit against Messi’s men, but should put up a good fight. Dark horse for the quarters?

Greece have a reputation for being a strong and organised defensive side, but here they were undone by some slick passing, much more of which is to come when they face Argentina. Up front they looked lacking in ideas. Points for them in the rest of the group will be hard to come by. They have a chance to sneak a draw tonight against Nigeria, but my guess says they will finish as group B whipping boys.

Predictions: Argentina 2-1 South Korea

Greece 0-1 Nigeria

Maradona quotes this week:

“I am not afraid of anyone or anything – unless they are wearing a mask…”

On Pele: “He should go back to the museum and stay there.”

On Michel Platini: “He’s French and we all know how French people are. If they say ‘hi’ and ‘goodbye’ that’s something.”

More insightful than I could ever hope to be. Wonderful stuff, let’s hope they keep coming!

Group C

England opened their campaign with a hard-fought 1-1 draw with the USA – a decent result for them, despite what most people seem to think. St. Stevie’s early goal – a real skipper’s goal – was cancelled out by Rob Green’s decision to let Clint Dempsey’s pass trickle over the line. What? Surely that wasn’t an accident? Whatever. England should still win the group, and they’d better hope they do, otherwise they can expect to face a rampant Germany in the second round, who on first showing will tear them a collective new asshole.  Despite what most critics seem to think I still reckon Heskey was rubbish and should make way for Crouch, or alternatively, Gerrard move forward and Barry take over in the centre. Cole should replace the lacklustre Milner on the left.

The US, on the other hand, looked lively and much hungrier than England, but still failed to trouble the England defenders too much. Altidore was probably the pick of the bunch, strolling past the creaking bones of Jamie Carragher. Some increased invention from his team-mates in their next match against Slovenia could see a fair few goals scored, and if they’re lucky they might edge England out at the top of the group.

The Slovenia v Algeria match was one of the poorest matches yet. No one on the field could come to grips with the diabolical Jabulani ball, with passes being floated almost out of the stadium. The highlight (lowlight?) of the match came when Algerian keeper Faouzi Chouachi threw West Brom alumni Robert Koren’s tame strike into the side of the net. Both teams looked defensive, with chances on goal coming at a premium. Nadir Belhadj looked lively for Algeria, getting forward regularly from his left-back role, but failed to inspire a goal. Interesting statistic: Abdelkader Ghezzal picked up two yellows in just 14 minutes and 19 seconds, making him the fastest substitute to pick up two yellow cards in World Cup history. There’s really not much else to be said about this game. Both teams will struggle again on Friday night and one would expect England and USA to push on from Group C.

Predictions: England 2-0 Algeria

USA 1-0 Slovenia

Group D

Aussie Aussie Aussie! Nein!

No cheering from the Aussies after their 4-0 demolition at the hands of a clinical German outfit that could have scored even more goals. Lucas Podolski played a big part just as the webmaster predicted, and his fine finish in the 8th minute started the rout. Mesut Ozil also had a strong showing, playing in the roaming role behind Klose. Ballack’s absence was hardly noticed with Bastian Schweinsteiger effortlessly slotting into a deeper role. That said, Pim Verbeek’s tactics were extremely negative, choosing not to field a recognized striker in a compact but ill-disciplined and ill-prepared 4-2-1-2-1 formation. Lucas Neill and Craig Moore looked out of their depth and far too slow at the back. Tim Cahill clearly forgot to eat the Weetbix he so heartily endorses. The only positive comments can come from the performance of Brett Emerton, Wilkshire to a lesser extent, and Brett Holman who injected some much needed energy at half-time. Verbeek’s questionable tactics have come under much criticism, and the Aussies will need to bounce back with gusto against Ghana on Saturday night if they are to have any chance of going through.

Ghana and Serbia produced the first victory for an African nation at the tournament, and it was quite an entertaining game to boot. Serbia looked surprisingly frail at the back, and human giant Nikola Zigic was wasteful up front. They failed to produce sustained pressure on the Ghanaian goal and suffered for it. Ghana were slightly better, pressuring the Serbian defence whenever they were in possession. Asamoah Gyan netted a penalty to take the lead after Serbia had gone down to 10 men, and this win gives them a good chance of going through to the next round. Serbia will struggle with the speed and efficiency of the German attack, and a loss will probably knock them out of the running for second round qualification. Ghana face Australia who will be desperate for a victory, and perhaps in this case, desperation will prevail over superiority.

Predictions: Australia 1-0 Ghana

Germany 3-1 Serbia

Acknowledgements: Thanks to editor and minor contributor, Fishface Shakur.

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Are England 2010 the real deal?


With the start of their World Cup campaign just a number of hours away it got me thinking what this England Squad is actually capable of.  On paper the English squad always appears to be up there with the very best however much like the South African cricket team (much to the disappointment of the webmaster I might add) they have a ridiculous record of choking on the big stage.  In saying this the English faithful must have breathed a huge sigh of relief knowing that they are no chance of facing off against one Luiz Felipe Scolari. Big Phil was responsible for knocking the Three Lions out at the quarterfinal stage of the last 3 major tournaments they have been involved in (WC ’02 with Brazil as well as Euro ’04 and WC ’06 with Portugal). After the embarrassment of failing to qualify for Euro 2008, England were determined to prove a point during qualification and did so with 8 consecutive wins, making the road to South Africa quite comfortable with 27 out of 30 possible points. Perhaps more importantly than this they managed to regain some respect with 4-1 and 5-1 victories against Croatia, the side who had been responsible for keeping them out  in ’08.

In doing some research I stumbled along an article that suggested that the English squad actually has the highest average age (only slightly, by .1 of a year) of all of the 32 nations competing. However this was before Michael Dawson replaced the injured Rio Ferdinand which has brought down the average age from 28.7 to 28.5 putting them in second position behind Brazil and only slightly ahead of our beloved Socceroos. Despite the fact that at 40, David James probably brings that average up quite a bit, it got me thinking that for a number of the English stars this is just about their last chance for international glory. Whilst most of them will probably still feature at the Euro ’12 championships (provided they qualify) nothing could compare to the lifting that little Gold Trophy and surely by 2014 a lot of them will be on the other side of their best footballing days. For the likes of Stevie G and Frank Lampard who have seen much success at club level, yet only tasted bitter disappointed time and time again for England, South Africa 2010 could be the best chance if not the last they get (you would expect at 34 and 36 respectively, WC ’14 will come a bit too late for both of them).

So realistically are England bringing the real deal to South Africa 2010? Can they finally after 44 years lift the trophy once more? Lets look at the Pro’s and Con’s..

Pro’s:

  1. Capello – brings a wealth of experience to the side having achieved great success in both Italy and Spain, he is also England’s most successful international manager with a 75% win record almost 15% better than any previous manager
  2. No encounter with “Big Phil”
  3. Possibly the easiest route to the quarterfinal – simple group, followed by Serbia, Ghana or hopefully Socceroos in round of 16
  4. Quality squad with good depth and international experience
  5. A group of seriously determined men, ready to prove their worth on the biggest stage – potentially last chance for many and a chance to demand respect after rather disappointing previous results
  6. With skipper Ferdinand falling to the injury curse England still have two massively influential and inspiring leaders in the new captain,  Stevie G and vice captain Franky Lamps – not to mention former skipper JT

Con’s

  1. WAGS – if they’re anything like what we usually can expect from the English WAGS they can only be a distraction – although its no surprise, have you seen what they look like?! Crouchy and Stevie G aren’t doing too bad for themselves.. Pity about Ashley Cole
  2. The expectation and pressure from the media back home simply cannot be underestimated – they literally carry the weight of the entire nation on their shoulders, weighed down by the desperation for them to finally bring home the cup and title as world champs
  3. Pressure and reliance on Rooney – not to mention his temper (remember disastrous end to WC in ’06 with red card for stomping, also more recently in the last friendly – abusing the ref). Rooney is an absolute gun, a complete striker who never gives up and is capable of just about anything but will need to keep his calm and not allow the other teams to wind him up – if England are to lift the trophy he has got to be at his absolute best
  4. Inability to win a penalty shoot-out – G-d help England if it gets to that
  5. Heskey – to be honest I’m not entirely sure why he’s even there but Capello seems to insist he’s the starting man along side Rooney (who am I to argue..) however I cannot see him scoring a goal.. ever (his 7 goals in 58 games would support this). He’s way past it, would much rather see Crouch or Defoe neither of which are too brilliant either, but at least pose a goal scoring threat
  6. Chokers tag will be playing on their minds

In the opinion of the webmaster this is in fact England’s year and for once they will be able to shake off their tag as chokers, allowing them to finally progress past the quarter final. This should see them face off against Brazil in the semi final in what could be one of the games of the tournament. Although what happens from there I feel is too close to call. I for one, hope that South Africa 2010 will be England’s turn to shine and that they finally fulfill the potential that they have so often failed to live up to, they simply have too much class to keep failing. Come July 11 the webmaster would be happy to see Stevie G lifting the trophy.

Come on England!

Webmaster over and out.

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Luke Wilkshire and other things that don’t make sense


As George W. Bush once famously said, “there’s an old saying in Tennessee – I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.”

Several members of the Soceroos squad have fooled me so much that these days I tend to agree with Bush Jnr and whatever he was trying to say in his ridiculous mangling of a famous saying. The Denmark game was further proof that, despite the names in the Socceroos squad being eerily familiar to the one that left for Germany four years ago, most of the players are completely different.

Let me start with Luke Wilkshire. How. How?! How does someone who was so obviously below international standard four years ago, transform into the most consistent and reliable member of a team that is ranked 20th in the world? It truly is beyond me. It’s a shame that we don’t get the Russian league on TV here, because I’d really like to see how well he plays week in, week out for Dynamo Moscow. He has become a different player since moving from Holland, and maybe it’s a bit of a wake up call for the seemingly never-ending train of Aussie players who go to the Netherlands in the hope that it will become a springboard into the bigger European leagues.

Wilkshire was easily our best player in the friendly against Denmark on Monday. He had poise under pressure, was virtually the only player that didn’t completely miss-hit a pass, and his crosses were, as usual, deadly accurate. His defence may not be as rock solid as some other right-backs going around, but he provides a genuine attacking threat down the right that is invaluable in such a defence-minded team.

But enough about cool-hand Luke. The other stand out from the Denmark game was, in my opinion – and it pains me to admit it – Brett Holman. Yes, THE Brett Holman. The one that had a worse first touch than a man with no legs. The one that ran around the football field like a headless chook, giving away possession at will. The one whose best attribute was that he tried hard. THAT Brett Holman.

In truth, Holman wasn’t amazing in Monday’s practice game, but he was twice the player that he had ever been in Australian colours. He had several neat touches that took him past some tired Danish defenders, and created havoc in the attacking third whenever we got there (which was not very often). To be fair, the writing was on the wall when he scored the undeserved winner against the All Whites. I think it’s time to face it – Brett Holman is the new Luke Wilkshire.

And then there’s the player who has done what could be called a ‘Reverse Wilkshire’ (no, it’s not a kama sutra move, although I’d be interested to see what it looked like if it was) – he has gone from a cool, calm and sublimely skilled commodity in the Socceroos midfield to, well, old Wilkshire.

Maybe he can blame the Jabulani ball, maybe he can blame altitude, but in my mind I’ve never seen a worse performance from the man formerly known as Marco than on Monday. In fact, if we’re being honest, I think it’s fair to say that he’s never been the same player since he took some of the Ialian flavour out of his name. Marco Bresciano had a deft touch, could beat players with tricks that simply weren’t in the standard Australian repertoire, could regularly hit the target with free-kicks from 30 yards, and was probably the most consistently creative member of a very strong midfield. Mark Bresciano needlessly gives the ball away, favours the long hoof over the deft flick, and isn’t even allowed near a free kick these days.

Needless to say, now that this blog has been posted I have no doubt that Luke Wilkshire will get injured against USA and miss the World Cup, Brett Holman will get picked in the starting lineup against Germany and will subsequently score an own goal and get sent off, and Mark Bresciano will score the winner against Serbia after coming on as a 89th minute substitute.

 

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Australia qualify for World Cup


Australia qualified for the World Cup yesterday. They did it through sheer guts, determination and bloody-mindedness, rather than relying on any great tactics, skill or finesse.

But isn’t the World Cup just two weeks away? And hasn’t Australia already qualified? Well, since you ask, why of course! But that’s the Men’s World Cup. I’m talking about women’s football, specifically the Women’s Asian Cup that is taking place at the moment. Australia defeated Japan 1-0 in the semi-final and in the process became one of three Asian teams to qualify for next year’s World Cup tournament.

How did they manage to beat their higher ranked, superior skilled, more professional opponents? It might sound like a cliche, but it was through the Aussie fighting spirit. There is simply no other way to describe it. Australia probably had possession for a total of about two and a half minutes in the second half, yet they managed to hold on by the skin of their teeth. Wave after wave of Japanese attacks were launched, and one by one they were headed, hacked and hoofed back towards halfway by the Ausralian defenders – and by the midfielders and strikers who were also defending.

After my initial tsunami of pessimism that followed the Socceroos poor showing against New Zealand on Monday, watching tonight’s game made me realise that the boys might have a chance of getting out of the group stages after all. I sincerely hope that Pim will at some stage make them sit down and watch a video of the girls game against Japan. If they can display the same kind of determination and togetherness that so epitomised the Matildas display last night, they might just give the Serbia’s and Ghana’s of this world a run for their money.

A fit Harry Kewell wouldn’t hurt though.

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