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Winners and Losers

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TANGENTS

The FA Cup Not Only Refuses To Die It Reminds Us Why We Love The Game

Written by on March 9, 2014 | 1 Comment »
Posted in Arsenal, Everton, Manchester City, Wigan Athletic, Winners and Losers

At the turn of the century the FA Cup received another kicking this one very much self inflicted. While bidding for the 2006 World Cup Finals the Football Association decided that kissing the collective rear of FIFA was far more important than their own competition and pressured Manchester United to compete in the FIFA sponsored Club World Cup in Brazil and to not enter the FA Cup.

To read more please click on the link.

Better Late Than Never – For City Anyway

Written by on May 14, 2012 | 24 Comments »
Posted in Winners and Losers

 

With the schedule being heavily weighted to Sunday and it being Mother’s Day and all in North America  it made yesterday a bit hairy. The regular winners and losers column is a bit more pointed than usual.

They scored one goal on their first 42 attempts on the QPR goal but it was efforts 43 and 44 that brought Manchester City a first title since I was a teenager. From tears of frustration and disappointment to tears of unbridled joy. Manchester City fans should be grateful that their players did not give up as easily as some of their fans did. I thought the most interesting reactions came from some of the older fans who probably remember the ’68 win. Few of them were jumping up and down – most just looked stunned unable to take in this very strange reality.

The only saving grace for Manchester United was that premature celebrations had not broken out at the Stadium of Light. With their game finished it was down to transistor radio and smartphones to communicate the dramatic events that were unfolding in Manchester.

Three moments that were worth considering from Sunday and they impact on the destination of the title.

1. Barton’s blatant stupidity,

2. the impact of the Stoke result being final and the City-QPR game still in progress

3. what was QPR doing with that throw-in with only seconds remaining? Bothroyd took up a position too far in field and City easily gained possession. A simple toss down the line to a more intelligently positioned Bothroyd would have in all likelihood gained 15 yards and another throw-in.

Juventus became only the third Italian team to go unbeaten in the top flight and the first team to do it over a 38 game season. They finished the season in fine style with another win. What a finish they put in.

Someone (or three) have to go down and when it comes down to it Bolton had their chance to survive another season in the premier League but they blew it. Losing a two goal lead to West Brom last weekend and then surrendering a 2-1 lead to Stoke tells you a story.

A first domestic double in their 103 year history and it was done in rare style. Borussia Dortmund slashed their way through the Bayern Munich defence in a terrific display of counter attacking and chance taking. The score finished up 5-2 with a hat trick from Robert Lewandowski but there were many Dortmund heroes on Saturday.

In 2002 Bayer Leverkusen finished runners up in the Bundesliga, German Cup and the Champions League Final.  Bayern Munich are two-thirds of the way there.

There is lots of talk about surprise call-ups for England’s Euro campaign. Gary Hooper has made a name for himself with his free scoring ways in the SPL. He scored all five of Celtic’s goals against Scottish Cup Finalists Hearts. An English call up for the Euros might be a stretch but a move back to England this summer might not.

A wonderful performance this season from Udinese in Serie A. Last season they finished 4th and made it into the Champions League qualifying play off round. This season they went one better but on account of Italy losing a Champions league spot Udinese will still have to qualify. I can’t think of any side that would want to draw them.

This season brought down the curtain on four Serie A stalwarts. Farewell to Inzaghi, Nesta, Gattuso and Del Piero. Each will be remembered for some special skill they brought.

Inzaghi – goal poacher extraordinaire. Gattuso – at his best he was a ball seeking missile. Nesta – the consummate defender and a connection to Maldini and Baresi. Del Piero – the reason Juventus allowed Roberto Baggio to leave; a fantastic club servant and simply one of the best of his generation.

Montpellier is now within one point of a first Ligue Un title. An injury time goal cut it close but it brought a crucial 1-0 over reigning champions Lille. PSG need to win and hope Montpellier lose in order to grab the title at the the last gasp in the final round of play. 

Montpellier is away to Auxerre who are already relegated while PSG plays at Lorient.

Big money Malaga made fourth place in Spain and so they will be in next season’s CL play off round.

 

A sad day for one of the great small clubs of Europe over the last decade. Villarreal started this season in the Champions League and next season they will be in Spain’s B division. Injuries did not help and you can expect an exodus of some very good players this summer. Time to start afresh.

Who are your winners and losers from the weekend.

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What Chelsea Has In Common With Muhammad Ali, Spurs Fail To Take a Hint Again, TFC Do 8-In-A-Row, Cologne Relegation A Smoke Screen

Written by on May 6, 2012 | 35 Comments »
Posted in Winners and Losers

Chelsea likes the FA Cup – no doubt about it. A fourth win in the last six seasons and individual player records for Drogba, Terry and Cole. For at least two-thirds of the match Chelsea was cruising to a very comfortable win. Where Chelsea had a plan – no Liverpool appeared to have none.

That changed in the last half hour as Liverpool threw caution to the wind and Chelsea needed a bit of good fortune and a tremendous stop from Cech off a Carroll header to stave off extra time. If the game had gone into an extra time then the smart money would have switched to the fresher legs of Liverpool.

I don’t know if this analogy works but Chelsea over the last few weeks brings to mind the tactics of Muhammad Ali against George Foreman. When Foreman pinned Ali against the ropes Ali simply leaned back and the incredibly loose rung-ropes allowed him to avoid or least cushion the blows.

Chelsea seem to have found some very loose ropes the last few weeks and  have become quite adept in using them. Can they continue their rope-a-dope tactics through May 19th in Munich?

A game that swung so many times but in the end two important points dropped by an Arsenal side that seems intent on playing in next season’s Europa League. A cohesive narrative would take up pages such were the ups and downs in this match.

So instead here goes…great start for Arsenal with a goal from Benayoun but…from Norwich’s immediate reaction and lackadaisical play from Arsenal’s midfield and defense you could see it was not going to stay 1-0…..Norwich unsettled Arsenal with the big man (Grant Holt) and little and speedy man (Simeon Jackson) and high pressing game…..Arsenal open to counter attack and Szczesny has not played well the last few weeks = equalizer….Holt scores from a big deflection – not the first like that conceded by Arsenal this season….can’t get to half time before muting ESPN’s version of the Gossip Girls……second half a story of good saves, bad defending, wasteful finishing …..just when it looks as if Van Persie has rescued Arsenal Song hits a wrong note with an errant pass after being caught in at least two minds – Morison 3-3…..claim for Arsenal penalty…….probably disallowed on account of Gervinho (far more effective on left) being in offside position when ball played across……could have been considered as being active given that the Norwich player had to play the ball before McNaughton pushed Van Persie.

Of course we would find out 24 hours later that Arsenal gained a point on Newcastle and Spurs threw away another opportunity to overtake the Gunners and take third place.

If Chelsea beats Liverpool at Anfield in midweek we will go into the final weekend with Arsenal, Newcastle, Spurs and Chelsea playing for positions three through six with nearly every permutation still possible.

Eight games into the season and eight losses in this 2012 season for Toronto FC. The natives are getting more than a little restless with the team, the coach and the management. Last season almost every Toronto-based pundit was preaching the need for patience and how time was needed for the new Dutch philosophy to pay off. Apparently there was a time-limit on the need for such “patience” because I am not hearing the rallying cry anymore.

I don’t trust fundamentalists and ideologues in any walk of life and I was never convinced that the all or nothing approach to retool Toronto FC was either needed or possible. I stand-by that view.

Sigi Schmid walked into Seattle and within a few months he was able to field a very competitive side in MLS. No one will convince me that TFC in five years time will be in a superior position to the Sounders on account of some magical Dutch technique that creates a production line of exceptional talent.

There is a reason the players in MLS are there – it is because if there were technically superior they would be be playing elsewhere and earning a lot more money. (The exception to that is TFC’s Julian de Guzman who should be charged with taking DP money under false pretenses.)

If anyone is yet to be convinced that the management of Toronto FC is completely clueless then they should be by now after ingesting the Dutch kool-aid by the gallon.

 Cologne’s fans did not react well to a defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich that sealed their relegation to the second division. They set off smoke bombs that engulfed much of the stadium in thick black smoke. By the time it cleared Cologne was down and Hertha Berlin has secured a lifeline courtesy of a relegation/promotion play-off.

Hertha will be hoping to mimic the response of Borussia Mönchengladbach – last season Mönchengladbach only survived in the Bundesliga by way of the play off but this season they finished fourth and in August they will be in the qualifying stages of the Champions League.

They could yet be usurped by Bayern should they win the Champions League on May 19th but at the moment Borussia Dortmund are the big winners in Germany. Unbeaten in 28 games and a record 81 points in 34 games was a remarkable achievement for Dortmund and their coach Jürgen Klopp. A capacity crowd of 80,000 watched Dortmund’s final game plus there was another 10,000+ who watched on a big screen just outside the stadium. Next weekend Dortmund and Bayern Munich will decide who can land a double when they face each other in the German Cup Final.

According to so many that profess inside knowledge of the MLS the LA Galaxy were going to be even stronger than last season. With five defeats in just nine games it is not looking that way at the moment. Three of the five losses have come at home and the latest was a 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls. The Galaxy was facing a makeshift Red Bulls defense and although they dominated possession and applied almost constant pressure the LA side had trouble creating clear cut scoring chances. Thirty-two crosses is testament to a lack of ideas and poor execution.

After an unimpressive start the Montreal Impact seem to be finding their MLS legs. Their first away win came on Saturday away to Sporting KC by a score of 2-0. Eleven points from ten games is a very decent return but as others have learned before it can be a difficult to maintain through out a long and tiring season.

Patience and opportunism were the hallmarks of Manchester City’s 2-0 away win against a threatening Newcastle side. A win against QPR next Saturday at Etihad Stadium will mean the Premier League title stays in Manchester but with different color ribbons.

The twists and turns of late season were on full view on Sunday in the Premier League. Bolton led WBA 2-0 while QPR and Stoke were scoreless at Loftus Road with only 15 minutes remaining. If the scores had held up Bolton would have vaulted up to 16th leaving QPR to occupy the last relegation spot. But two goals from WBA and a winner from Cisse turned the tables once more and Bolton may be left to rue a golden chance to control their own fate. Wigan plays Blackburn in the Monday night game and that will surely impact the relegation battle.

Nonetheless Bolton needs to win at Stoke next Sunday to have any chance to survive while QPR knows that a point in their final game will be enough to keep them in the Premier League.

Of course there is the issue of QPR having to take the point from Manchester City. 

Congratulations go to Juventus who won the scudetto for the XXth time (fill in your own number depending on your views). A 2-0 win against Cagliari combined with Inter’s 4-2 win in the derby game provided the Turin side with an unassailable lead. Under first year manager Antonio Conte Juventus have rarely been anything less than positive and if they remain unbeaten after next week’s match against Atalanta they will be the first team to go unbeaten in a 38-game Serie A season.

They will also go into next season’s Champions League with a coefficient in the mid-40s which will likely only be good enough for a place in pot 3. Don’t be surprised if Juventus and Group of Death comes up later in the summer.

Diego Milito scored his 4th hat trick of the season and brought his tally to 23 for the season in helping Inter to remain in the hunt (just) for a Champions League place next season. With one game left Inter must beat Lazio and hope that results for Udinese and Napoli go their way i.e. Udinese lose and Napoli don’t win. Milito’s latest hat trick came in a 4-2 win over Milan which put paid to their city rivals hopes of winning consecutive titles. Since 2012 rolled in Milito has scored 19 league goals in 21 games.

Lionel Messi 50 goals in La Liga and 72 on the season so far. Fill in your own superlatives while no doubt a number of Cristiano Ronaldo fans will spent their time discovering weird ways of minimizing the accomplishment.

What were you high and low points on the weekend?

You can get updates through RSS (top of the page), follow at Twitter BobbySoccerRep, or on Facebook SoccerReportExtra.com

You can also find other Soccer Report Extra.com contributors on Twitter by following this link.

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