Thursday, April 27, 2006

Is Arsenal going to do a Liverpool (at the expense of Spurs)?

While I do think that Barca has a team which is superior to the Gunners, the latter might just decide to suprise us at Paris next month. If that happens and the English Premier League also plays out like what it is as present we would have the same situation like last year where Liverpool didn't qualify for a Champions League spot but were allowed to compete in the qualifiers as a 5th team from England. I have had discussions with various people regarding the same happening this year too for the next season and unfortunately a lot of people have got it wrong. They think there would be 5 teams again like last year if Arsenal end up winning the Champions League but not qualify for it. So let me draw your attention to the UEFA regulations (point 1.03) where this has been clarified:

1.03 At the request of the national association concerned, the UEFA Champions League title-holders may be entered for this competition, as an additional representative of that association, if they have not qualified for the UEFA Champions League via the top domestic league championship. If, in such a case, the title-holders come from an association entitled to enter four teams for the UEFA Champions League, the fourth-placed club in the top domestic league championship has to be entered for the UEFA Cup.

The regulations document can be downloaded here.

The above also puts the FA in a spot and I do not think that makes it any easier for them. If Arsenal win and they are to play in the Champions League next season the FA would have to ask Spurs to play in the UEFA Cup.

The debate is while a winner is given a chance to play the qualifiers why should a team in the country's league which has played the whole season to qualify for Champions League and have qualified as a 4th team be asked to relinquish the same spot? I would say let both play out a home and away tie to decide who makes it as the 4th team.


I find there's still some confusion regarding which teams qualify automatically and which teams play the qualifiers provided Arsenal win CL. For the benefit of those who haven't opened up the regulations document I'll quote the earlier section (1.02) which precedes 1.03.

1.02 These rankings (Annexe Ia), drawn up in accordance with the stipulations of Annexe II, points 5-10, determine the number of representatives per association, as well as the stage at which they join the competition.
Associations are represented on the following basis:
a) One representative: winners of the top domestic league championship.
b) Two representatives: winners and runners-up of the top domestic league
c) Three representatives: winners, runners-up and third-placed club in the
top domestic league championship.
d) Four representatives: winners, runners-up, third- and fourth-placed clubs
in the top domestic league championship.

This means that if Arsenal win - Chelsea, ManUtd and Arsenal qualify automatically to the group stage while Liverpool will play the qualifiers. Read point 1.02 and 1.03 alongwith Annexe Ia.

Crossposted on BlogFC

Monday, April 24, 2006

Rio Ferdinand can sing

Rio sings in the Six Million Dollar Man drama in his school in London in early 1990s. He's a few more millions now though! :)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Scouse win but are also losers!!!

Chelski got dumped out of the FA Cup and 13thpsycho talks about Mour-the-Bore's stupid rants again. Poor losers - they prove that again.

I found the game last night quite interesting. Till the second Riise had that blip and headed the ball to Drogba for him to head it into the goal, Liverpool was playing amazing compact football. Great shape. Except the part which concerned Crouch, Cisse or Morientes (the last 2 came in as subs and were of harddly any use). All Crouch does is just win headers and lay them up for his mates. Thats all. He's a complete sham of a striker. But coming back to the rest of the team, they played well - short passes, crowding out Chelski, not giving them any space. Actually Mourinho is a complete idiot (I guess you knew that already). Bordering on arrogance he started with Paulo Ferreira as a midfielder (someone commented that he had done that in Porto under Jose) leaving out Robben, Duff and Cole out of the starting 11 - why is my question when all these three love playing wide and give you options from the wings. Going down the middle is not always the best option and Jose realised that after being 2-0 down early in the second half. And what do you know - all three were on the pitch! Idiot! And the scousers shat in their pants - they were tentative, pushed back into their own half. Made for some great football for the last 20 minutes but they held their defense well to see out the match and the victory. I'd say it was a good hard-earned victory and they go from under-dogs in this one to a fave in the final against either the Hammers or Middlesbrough.

Richard Williams of The Guardian casts his aspersions on Jose's acumen, voicing similar thoughts.
When Cole finally came on, his side were 2-0 down. Having started the game with no wide players, suddenly Chelsea had three on the pitch.

On a different note, the scousers defaced OT last night at the game. See it here and here. Not winners here exactly eh? What a shame!!!

Crossposted on Freewheelin

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Mournin' hore...

I seriously cannot believe this guy is a real person. Seems like one of those WWE wrestlers who act and speak according to their "Bad Guy" image. Read what he had to say after Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup semi-final:

"Did the best team win today? I don't think so. In the last 30 minutes we deserved extra time."
(Oi dumbass, the game is 90 minutes long. Therefore, Liverpool played better for the most part.)
"In the first half nobody was better. They had a good start to the second half but then we dominated the game. I cannot wish them luck in the final. Middlesbrough and West Ham will be there and I must respect them."
(Rafa: Hmmm...he will not wish me luck. Hmmm.....for me, that is finally something to laugh about. Hahahaha...)
"But in 10 matches against us they have won twice. In the Premiership the distance between the teams is 45 points over two seasons. We beat them in a final, they beat us in two semi-finals. A psychological advantage? I don't think so."
(Psychological advantage? What advantage? Is he talking about next season already??? And hey, whats the difference in points, prestige, fame, fan support, etc., etc., etc. over, say, the last 10-15 years?!?)

I only have this to say: Chelski - Worst Winners and Worst Losers. Pathetic. Bring on next season!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Football Bloopers - Pts 1 & 2

P.S. A few of 'em are repeated in the second one, but good compilations overall! :D

Thursday, April 20, 2006

FIFA Rankings: A joke surely!!!

Please have a look at the FIFA Rankings and tell me you think its a joke with USA ranked as number 4th while Argentina, Portugal, England, Spain don't get that spot!!!
I'm not exactly sure of the ranking mechanism but I'm quite shocked.

Rank Team +/-Rank
Mar 06
Apr 06
Mar 06
1 Brazil 0 830 -5
2 Czech Republic 0 779 -10
3 Netherlands 0 774 -14
4 USA 1 760 -4
5 Spain 1 759 -4
6 Mexico 1 758 -4
7 France 1 754 -6
8 Portugal 2 753 -2
8 Argentina -4 753 -12
10 England -1 744 -12
11 Denmark 3 738 2
12 Nigeria 0 737 -1
13 Turkey -2 733 -10
14 Italy -2 731 -7
15 Cameroon 0 723 -3
16 Sweden 0 717 -8
17 Japan 1 709 -3
18 Egypt -1 708 -6
19 Greece 2 699 -5
19 Germany 3 699 -1

And for the record India's at 117. Singapore's at 92.

Crossposted at

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Doin a Ronaldinho

I posted this Ronaldinho Nike Ad a while back where he tried a new pair of shoes and kept hitting the crossbar and controlling the ball time and again. And I asked if anyone could do this?

Well, looks like someone tried. In a very funny way!!! Hahaha.

Crossposted at Freewheelin

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Most number of misses....all within 10 seconds!

Hyuk Hyuk Hyuk!

A lil' faith

ManUtd's turned the corner pretty well coming into the last lap of the season.

Bottomline: Still not good enough, considering the history.

Here's my take on the team this season:

Van der Sar has been the best buy of the season - he's made quite a many crucial saves which had kept the team in the hunt. Tim Howard looks like he is leaving to join Wigan (unconfirmed reports) and that could be a good option as he is not going to get a game unless Van der Sar is injured.

I'm still worried about the defense - Vidic is still settling in and could be forgiven for a few misunderstandings but Evra hasn't impressed (he needs to play but surely he doesn't think he needs 20 games to show what he's got!), Silvestre is like a lottery everytime - could be made to look quite foolish. Neville's been outstanding at this stage of his career carving out Beckham-esque crosses from the right everytime he goes up. Maybe he needs to show Ronaldo how its supposed to be done. Ferdinand has had a drop in his form and while he loves to play the cool-calm defender he's made more mistakes this season. Maybe he also needs to learn how to clear balls (like Robert Huth) without being cute. How I would love a Terry in this team! Bardseley has done well with his limited chances and so has Pique. I'm looking forward to first team starts of Pique and Spector (on loan to Charlton) and also the return of Heinze (he adds an attacking option to the left wing when he goes up).

What I'm really surprised at is how this make-shift midfield with Giggsy and O'Shea has played so well lately. I didn't have my hopes too high and I personally thought making it to 2nd would be a huge challenge. Ronaldo has had a decent season - brilliant at times but still quite selfish with the ball - he needs to learn to pass the ball more. Park has looked better with games under his belt. But we would definitely need a midfielder if not two during the summer. The likely ones would be from Diarra, Makoun, Mascherano. There's rumours of a Joe Cole raid - I think thats unlikely but Mourinho has said he would offload 3 players (who wouldn't fit into the first team or have a problem) to get 3 more. So we will see. Downing would be a good option as a left winger!

The team's scoring goals - only 1 less than Chelski and Saha's done well since he got back from injury. Nistelrooy has scored 1 less than Henry but has looked out-of-sorts for the last few games. A stint with the Dutch side at the world cup should help him out as he feels he plays better under Van Basten (where he has been encouraged to build up plays instead of being a penalty-box poacher). That has been seen in his game in the ManUtd matches too - as Saha does that so well (winning headers, holding the ball up while the rest of the team moves forward). Rooney has been the talisman for the team and though he might be battling on and scoring he looks quite tired. But you can bet on him to come back next season and start off from where he would leave this season. David Bellion is being sold to Nice. Good idea! Quinton Fortune is also heading somewhere else this summer as his contract will not be renewed.

All in all while the season comes to a close, with the midfield strengthened ManUtd should be able to give Chelski a run for its money next season. Rooney, Ronaldo, Pique, Rossi, Spector - we should be seeing them in the ManUtd colours for some years to come.

Team to look out for next season: Liverpool (if they can solve their striker issues!!!)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Germany '06: Aufzupassende Spieler #1

A glance at:


Shirt #: 20
Date of Birth: 4th June, 1985
Nickname: Poldi/ Prinz Poldi
Current Club/ Since: FC Köln (Germany)/ 2003-04
International Debut: Against Hungary (6th June, 2004)

Excerpt from
“Podolski appears to have touched a nerve among the population at large. He possesses the character and poise of a Rudi Voller, and the marketing potential of a David Beckham. He is the sole German player chosen to join Javier Saviola, Arjen Robben, Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet in promoting a new Adidas boot.”

Ever since breaking into the German senior team (which made him the 3rd youngest debutante in German history) against Hungary around two years ago, Lukas Podolski has become one of the most talked-about players on the German Soccer circuit. He played in Euro 2004, as well as the 2005 Confederations where he was Germany second-highest goal-scorer (Ballack had 4) with 3 goals in 4 matches (Interesting to note that he had just 7 shots in total, 4 of which were on goal, out of which 3 were converted!).

Podolski will be out to impress this summer, with clubs like Bayern Munich hot on his trail. The Polish-born striker stayed loyal to his club when Köln/ Cologne dropped down to Bundesliga 2 after the 2003-04 season; interestingly Podolski scored 10 goals in 19 appearances that season. Köln made an immediate return to the top-flight next year thanks to Podolski’s efforts, who netted an impressive 24 goals in 30 appearances! Although this season has been a struggle against the Bundesliga big boys (8 goals in 27 appearances; Cologne, themselves, are currently languishing in the relegation zone), his lightning pace and effective finishing abilities ought to make him an automatic choice in Klinsmann’s starting eleven.

Germany’s hopes are pinned, to a large extent, on a surprisingly young side which has been criticized, for lack of experience, by football pundits. It will be interesting to see whether key players like Podolski can rise to the occasion and deliver, circumstantiating Klinsmann’s belief in the vigour and fire of youth (something sorely missed in France ’98 for instance), and silencing critics once and for all.

A town's desperate fight against porn

They have taken off the porn channels, they have removed the provocative pictures from the spa, they have removed the bibles from the hotel rooms, they have also banned art showing naked boys wearing wings... In fact, even the women working in the hotel will only wear trousers, even in summers!!

Bad Nauheim, a small resort town is pulling out all stops for the Saudi team, which will reside there during the first round of the World Cup (till they are eliminated, that is).

""We're very excited to be hosting Saudi Arabia," said Prokop (hotel's GM). Saudi Arabia flags will be hoisted atop about 30 public buildings in the town in honour of the visitors.
Despite Bad Nauheim's meticulous preparations for their visitors, this is still Germany where nudists sometimes frolic in corners of public parks on hot summer days. There is always the possibility of running into naked men and women.
"No, I don't expect any complications like that," said Prokop. "I don't think there will be any nude sunbathing here in Bad Nauheim. We're a decent town.""

The question I have is whether they have taken off all Danish products from the kitchens.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Rush for cash makes for bad cricket

TimesOnline has this extract from Wisden, where Mathew Engel (Editor) argues that the rush for cash is merely producing more bad cricket. Expansion looks like the furthest thing from ICC's mind. How do you explain how the Zimbabwe debacle was handled, how new countries keep qualifying for the World Cup? Since Sri Lanka's slow and steady rise no other minnow has been able to replicate it. Especially when the focus is on expansion now. Expansion wasn't officially happening when Sri Lanka was coming through the ranks. Its basically about grassroot cricket and developing that in new countries, than getting new teams and letting them get hammered and as such destroy any confidence they might have had. When did you last see a Kenya match on TV? They hardly get an opportunity to play bigger teams. Bangladesh has still not played India at home, because BCCI does not think there's too much moolah in it. So they keep postponing it. I hope they win against Australia - which would prove that they can fight at the test cricket level. We care about the fight and not the results initially. You can't expect wonders with a minnow. Something that even Kenya showed initially, but then there's hardly any cricket for them other than African tournaments against a weakened Zimbabwe or South African A sides. Is this how you develop a potential test playing unit?

Engel's full interview is at Cricinfo
Link to another article about ICC's greed

Crossposted at Freewheelin

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Cricket highlights on the web

If you are abroad like me, having to dish out $30 per game and don't want to and are happy with seeing highlights of the game on the net you should head to Cricket Videos Uncut. Well the videos are cut so don't quite understand the title. But it gives you a quick wrap of the day's play.

Crossposted at Freewheelin.

Blue Devils??

Man U has signed a new shirt sponsorship deal. Since Sharp and Vodafone both had red logos and AIG has a blue one, would we see Man U become the Blue Devils? Seriously though, now Man U will get 14 million pounds, which compares well to 10 million pounds that Chelsea gets from Samsung. Will Man U get Ballack now?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Great Escape?

Starring: Bryan Robson, Harry Redknapp, Steve Bruce.

Last year Robbo did the unthinkable. Taking a team who was in the bottom three during christmas and staying in the Premiership at the end of the season. The relegation battle was decided in the last round of matches. Kieran Richardson scored one of the goals to keep Brum in the premiership. At the beginning of this season, he decided to stay and fight for a first team place in ManUtd - which he is getting and doing decently well so far. In contrast Robbo has been struggling with his team and its slowly going down under. Specially so in the last couple of weeks where the much-maligned Redknapp and Brucie have some re-kindled something which is making these teams start beating the teams in the top 10.

Portsmouth fixtures and results. Their current form is W-W-W-L-L
Birmingham fixtures and results. Their current form is W-D-L-L-L
Brum fixtures and results. Their current form is L-L-L-D-L

So the basic question is - who would be the last man standing? I would hate to see Robbo go down but it looks like he would. And I have a sneaky feeling that B'ham just might have enough to get away this year. A month will tell for sure.