Sunday, October 08, 2006

Euro 2008 Watch and Barca round-up

Sweden 2-0 Spain

Why, Aragones, why? Having made a good decision in dropping Raul, he proceeds to screw everything else up by playing a narrow 4-4-2. So many inexplicable selection decisions - why Juanito and Capdevila? Why Fabregas and then Iniesta on the left wing? Does Spain not have any actual left wingers who aren't named Reyes?

Less ranting observations - Villa and Torres aren't a bad striking partnership, but part of me thinks that Spain might do well to recall Fernando Morientes and pair him up with Villa given the success they have as partners at Valencia. Puyol and Casillas have real communication problems. In the end, it says volumes that one of the best goal scoring chances for the Spaniards came from Puyol's header from a Xavi corner, which was cleared off the line.

By the way, Aragones doesn't intend to quit. What would make this man resign?

Italy 2-0 Ukraine

A vital result for the world champions, and although they don't quite convince just yet, the return of Luca Toni has to be a sight to warm the hearts of Azzuri fans. What an entertaining player he is. Ukraine were without bed-ridden Andriy Shevchenko and will need to improve if they want to qualify.

England 0-0 Macedonia

Tell me again how different McClaren's England is from Sven's? Those who were never convinced have even more ammunition now. It must also be worrying that Steven Gerrard - one of England's better midfielders, on any day - will now miss the next game against Croatia because of a second booking in two games. Surely a team with the aspirations of England should be able to find a quality replacement holding midfielder when their first choice is injured. McClaren is reportedly upset by England's lack of 'quality' in attack - which would be comical if it weren't so frustrating for England supporters. They were jeered off the pitch by their own fans, which says it all, really.

In other Barca-related news, Portugal cruised to a 3-0 victory over Azerbaijan courtesy of a goal by Ricardo Carvalho sandwiched between a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo, with Deco playing well. France (and Thuram) crashed to a 1-0 defeat in Scotland, Eidur Gudjohnsen's Iceland were defeated 4-0 by Latvia (ouch), and the Netherlands - with Gio in his customary left-back position - were held to a 1-1 draw by Bulgaria, coached by Barca legend Hristo Stoichkov. Bad news for Liverpool, by the way - Dirk Kuyt seems to have picked up an injury. No injuries to Barca players so far, which is good, especially since quite a few of the uninvolved players - Edmilson and Marquez in particular - have picked up knocks recently.

Barca News

Brazil won their friendly with Kuwait 4-0, with Ronaldinho having a bit of quiet game, setting up the strikers rather than running at goal himself. Not a problem, really, but we'll see what happens against more substantial opposition in Ecuador.

There's been renewed controversy over Chelsea putting tons of sand on the Stamford Bridge pitch before Barcelona visit. I'm not quite convinced just yet that it isn't just maintenance as Chelsea say. Most of the pre-match controversy is press-generated anyway. We'll see what the pitch looks like on the night. However, I have to quote Andres Iniesta (in the press conference before Sweden-Spain):

"We know what Mourinho is like," said Iniesta. "If the game turns out the same as last year then it won't bother us if he puts sand on the pitch...he can put whatever he wants on the pitch - it's all the same to us."

Well said, young man.

Javier Saviola has claimed that he would like a contract extension at Barca rather than a move somewhere else. I believe that the Real Madrid rumours are completely rubbish. By the way, it is my policy to not mention any transfer rumours unless they're credible, so you won't see anything about Gago and Palacio to Barca here. That said, Gago has been telling anyone who'd listen that he'd love to play for Barca or Real - who wouldn't? I don't see the need on Barca's side, frankly. While Edmilson is injury-prone, his young replacement Motta isn't that bad. Buying another defensive midfielder smacks of Galatico-style treasure collecting.

Poor Ludovic Giuly was left mystified yet again as the France coach opted for fricking Nicolas Anelka instead of him to replace injured winger Govou and striker Louis Saha. What does he have to do to get back into the national team, for God's sake?


downincognito said...

Doomsday won't be far away if we all started believin whatever trash The Sun prints in its pages.

It's no secret that the tabs would do anythin to incite Chelsea/Barca players and fans and lo, Iniesta has already bitten the bait! Sigh!

Coming soon: Topless London lovelies distract Barca training session. ;-)

linda said...

Yeah, that's what I many modern football controversies are media-made it's actually kind of sad. The reason I quoted Iniesta was 1) I do love it when players get into the biting comments and 2) he's right, it doesn't matter. It shouldn't be an issue at all.

I remember last year everyone was busy quoting Messi saying that Barca players hated Chelsea when the quote itself was blatantly made-up. Even the supposedly reputable papers got into it. Very annoying, since I know Messi isn't the type to talk trash about other teams or players at all.

John said...

Hi Linda,

With Spain going through some rough times, I guess this is the best time for the Albicelestes to put the final salt into their wounds.

By the way, I was watching the A1 Grand Prix and was sorry to see Team New Zealand (driven by Johnny Reid) went crashing in the first turning despite starting on pole.


linda said...

I agree, John. If Argentina don't get a result against a Spain team who are really down at the moment then we need to have a serious look at ourselves.

The Grand Prix was being shown on TV instead of the news over here, so what happened is especially sad. Ah well, maybe next time.

Zach Dundas said...

Hey Linda—

This has nowt to do with your post, but I've just discovered your blog thanks to fellow Portland soccerbloggers A Pretty Move. (My sad contribution to football literature is at It's good to see more writers from so-called non-football countries piling on. You heard, of course, that our local club, Portland Timbers, just hired ex-Kiwi international Gavin Wilkinson as manager?

linda said...

Hi Zach! Welcome, hang around. I hope Wilkinson does a good job with the Timbers. If memory serves, he's done some work with the NZ national team on the coaching side - which in itself isn't encouraging given how bad our NT is, but nevermind. At least he'll bring the Kiwi never-say-die attitude with him.