Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Ballack and Schevchenko to stay

Bayern are offering a new contract to Ballack for a reported amount of 10 million a year which is quite more than double his current salary of 4 million a year. Although there are no offers for the german midfielder, Bayern is eager to secure the stay of their captain for a few years before a big spender in europe tries to snag him.

In other news, Schevchenko insists he is not ready to leave Milan for the riches offered by Mourinho and Roman Abrahamovic. It is still to be seen if the money offered is too good for the rossineri to pass up.

FIFA World Ranking

As i had mentioned before, FIFA published their world ranking and although it took some research i was able to find. here is the top 10 teams in the world.

1. Brasil 846 (0)
2. Argentina 787 (+1)
3. Holland 781 (+1)
4. Czech Republic 778 (-2)
5. México 768 (+1)
6. United States 765 (+4)
7. France 749 (-2)
8. England 744 (-1)
8. España 744 (0)
10. Portugal 739 (-2)

What do you guys think?

Crouch in, Baros out

Well, Liverpool have signed the Southampton striker this week, beating West Ham to the punch. Crouch had quite a season in 2004 but i dont believe he can repeat such performance, i just cant rate him that high; however I am not saying that Milan Baros is any better than him. I would have to see if Liverpool can adapt to the style of play Crouch needs, a classic English style of long ball to the target and crosses to the head of the center forward. And th reason i think Liverpool would have to adapt is because i doubt Crouch has the skill and ability to play the new europan style Benitez has been implementing at Liverpool; i do think that Baros was a better fit to his european style of play.
Now that Crouch has signed, we have Milan Baros as a surplus to requirements in Liverpool; and whol else but the team that got beat to Crouch is lurking to sign the Czech player. West Ham has shown some intersting in signing Baros, however there are no reports on what price it could command.
What do you think about this switch?

USA 6th in the world

Im sorry but I think this is just plain wrong. According to some news reports, USA is ranked now 6th in the world, upping one on England who dropped to 8th place. It also means the US now is above France who also dropped one spot and is 7th.
I understand the US has had good results lately and decent showings in the world cup has also affected their ranking but i dont think they can match the quality of some of the lower ranked teams.
It will be hard for you to convince me that the US is better than england or France if matched with their starting 11. The US has also been helped with the results of the qualifying rounds in their zone but that is exactly what makes this rankings so wrong. It cannot be measured accordingly when you have competition like Gutemala and El Salvador in a group, but then you have Argentina, Chile and Paraguay in another zone, while in Europe England is playing temas like Germany, Holand, and Spain. No offense to any of the teams but the strength of the competition should have more weight than just results.
I dont mean to minimize the efforts of team USA but i think its damaging to the sport in this country to rank so high while putting no effort into the sport, if this country believes they can do this well without having a very strong league, no farming systems, and weak support then it will be hard to convince youngsters to give this sport a chance.
Where would you put US in the world?
What is your top 10?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Jermaine Jenas

As mentiones in my previous post, Arsenal will be getting rid of Patrick Vieira and will look to Jermaine Jenas as a replacement of the commanding frenchman.
I figured i would give an introduction to JJ as, surprisingly, not many people have heard of him.
JJ was brought to Newcastle United for a 5 million fee from Ipswich and he was regarded then as one of the most promising youngsters in England. He then fulfilled most of the expectations when he became captain of the U-21 side and moved on to make seldom appearances and starts with the senior England side. JJ is now touted to be the future of the midfield in the England Team for years to come and although he still has room for improvement, hi has penty of time to develop being only 22 years old.
JJ is now facing competition for a starting spot in the Newcastle side with the signing of Emre and Faye, however everyone is confident he will have the staring position and very likely the captain band as well.
Souness as well as Shepherd have come out saying JJ is not for sale and they have reportedly slapped a tag price of 12 million.

Do you think he will leave Newcastle? i actually dont see it happening. I dont see Arsenal as a huge force nowadays, with Vieira gone, their only world class player left is Thierry Henry, the rest of the squad are good players and youngsters with a lot of potential but i dont think they can make a push without Vieira. I guess we will see as the first match of the premiership will match Newcastle and Arsenal.

Vieira to Juve

Yeah i know it sould like a broken record and a bad one at that.
Okay so i made a mistake, i linked Patrick Vieira to Inter Milan but it is actually Juventus who is interested and as a matter of fact could be signing him this afternoon. It is reported that the tag price is along the lines of 12 million and it would be a 4 year contract; not a bad deal for the frenchman at his age.

As always, I knew this will have an impact on my favorite team, who you are probably now bored to tears to hear about. Yes Newcastle United is expected to be impacted by this move by Arsenal two different ways. The first is Arsenal is looking for a young replacement of their defensive midfielder and they seem to believe the answer is in Jermaine Jenas. See my next post.
The second way it will affect Newcastle is that Arsenal may not be strapped for cash anymore and their link for Sol Campbell will have to command a hefty price. As we know Newcastle is looking to strengthen their back line, specially after the elbow injury to Titus Bramble.
I cant wait to see how this develops. Expect an update this evening.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Robinho to Real Madrid

And we continue with the transfer rumors in Europe.
Roberto Carlos has insisted in puttin pressure on the Real Madrid board to do whatever it takes to bring Robinho to the Bernabeu. It is an understandable desire from his compatriot to get one of the best players in the world to his club and it will set the score even with archrival Barcelona. If this transfer goes through then we will have 2 of the best brasilian players playing mano a mano for the Liga championship, i wonder if Robinho would be able to step to the plate and carry a headless real Madrid team, or if he will concede leadership to the aging existent group of Zidane, Beckham and Raul.
Do you think Robinho will go to Real Madrid? Who will leave then?

Vieira to Inter?

Its Vieira going to Inter? Well rumor has it Arsenal has approved a transfer fee of 20 million euros for the midfielder. It would quite an impressive coup for the italian team since Vieira is considered one of the best defensive midfielders in the game. It is true that he is getting on in age but just like most great players they get to extend their careers of success, we can just refer to players like Roy Keane who still rules the midfield in the premiership.
Vieira was wanted by Real Madrid last year however ended up staying at Arsenal vowing he wanted to retire with the club. Now it is Arsenal who is willing to part with his services which is quite surprising since everyone knows how difficult it was for Arsenal to get results when the skipper was out of the line up.
Do you think Arsenal will be able to compete without Vieira? Do you think Vieira will take the contract and run? Who will Arsenal get with the 20 million transfer kitty?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Portuguese Midfielders

As i was writing the previous post i came across an interesting similiarity and a fact that every englishman is very aware of. England does not have a good left midfielder and the best teams in the league have foreign outside left midfielders.
I was writing about Figo and realized that it would be a perfect counterpart of another portuguese, Cristiano Ronaldo, who is en route to be the next great leader of Manchester Utd. And furthermore as i was thinking that, i thought about Robert leaving Newcastle, and who is his successor? Hugo Viana. That definitely says something about Portuguese midfielders these days. What country do you think provides the best outside midfielders? Brasil? Argentina? Portugal? France? Italy?

Luis Figo to Liverpool?

Now that would be an intersting signing.
It seems that Gerards decision to stay has injected some life into Benitez team.
Figo has been flirting witha few teams in the premiership and he seems convinced that the english style will fit best his last professional years, i still think the jury will be out on that one even after some other Liga players having good experiences in the Premiership.

Figo would be a good addition to Liverpool; with the Kewell being a flop on the left side of the pitch, Figo will probably push him out of the first eleven. I would like to see where this goes, Newcatsle was also intersted in a 1 year deal with Figo and now that some wages have been cleared after Bellamy signed with Blackburn it may still be on the table.

Emre

As you all know by now, im a Newcastle Utd fan. Finally im starting to get that warm fuzzy feeling again after a horrible season. According to some reports, Newcastle is ready to sign Turkey player Emre from Inter Milan. I think it is a great signing fro newcatle that is trying to rebuld a team that has seen big names depart: Laurent Robert, Craig Bellamy, Darren Ambrose, Patrick Kluivert, and some not as big: Any O'Brien and Aaron Hughes.

For those not familiar with Emre, he is a turkish midfielder with good recovery skills, physical and fit (natural turkey style of play) but also a has plenty of flair and good passing skills. Emre played for a few years in the Serie A with Inter Milan although only played 19 games last season. Inter surprisingly was set to let him go even though there are 2 years left in his contract. Newcastle and Graeme Souness had been tracking Emre for a few weeks now and they faced stiff competition from big teams like Arsenal and Man Utd, who were linked to Emre earlier but now do not seem to be interested. Other premiership teams interested included Everton, however weekly wages of 90,000 pounds proves to be a stretch for the Merseyside team.

Well, personally im pretty glad with this signing but we still have ways to go. We need at least one good striker to partner with Shearer and a couple of defensive players. Stay tuned as the next couple of weeks will be make or brake for Newcastle.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Misc

Well i just wanted to mention a few things i didnt have a chance to comment on.


  • FC United of Manchester. Props to them, i think it is great what they are doing. Although im not a fan of MU i think that is the best they can do for their club, take it back to the masses. If i could only get to see the match against AFC Wimbledon.

  • Bellamy. I dont believe he really thought he could stay in newcastle after all the garbage he spoke on live tv. Im actaully pretty impressed at the cool 5m we got for him from blackburn, especially cause we only really paid 6m, not a bad recoup.

  • Viana. I really hope the lad stays as the replacement for Robert, i think he can be just as good as cristiano ronaldo.

  • Vieri. Was he serious? switching across the city to Milan just to probably sit on the bench? I never thought he was the great player most people saw in him, and ireally doubt that he will play alongside Schevchenko.

Would i stay or would i go?

That seems to be the dilemma with Steven Gerard.
I thank god im not a Liverpool supporter, otherwise i would be in quite a mood over this indecision.
I hope this was not just a strategy from gerard to get a better deal on his contract extension, because if it was then it was just dumb and unloyal. It is hard to believe that he would leave after such a good run in Europe and although i think he doesnt fool himself thinking they can get a championship with the current squad, i think he should see some potential in europe.
I do like Gerard as a player very much and i truly believe he was torn whether to stay or accept a very lucrative deal from chelsea and most definitely a championship. I think it was a good decision to rescind his captain band and it was just as good for Benitez to confirm him as captain.
What do you think about his decision? should have gone to chelsea?

Brasi vs Argentina

I know, i apologize for not posting earlier, sometimes work gets in the way.
But i would like to comment on the two Brasil Vs Argentina matches we had in a week. First we saw Argentina beat Brasil in the youth championship, deservedly so i think and then we say the Brasil Mens team totally dominate the Argentinian team. Although the Argentines were lacking 4 usual starters, the way Brasil played i dont think they stood a chance. Brasil took advantage of their chances and Argentina looked like they didnt care much for this match, just bringing Aimar and Tevez towards the end of the game.
What did you guys think about this game?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

US Youth System

Im highly impressed by the quality of play presented by the Under-20 US National Team.
Did anyone see the game?
Lead by Freddy Adu, US had a very good display of tactical order and some brilliant technical individuals like Adu himself and Barrett who was quite a headache for the opposite defense.
Now, there is a lot to say about their opponent, they didnt beat just any team, they beat Argentina. Argentina, winner of 4 of the last 5 or 6 Youth World Championships, and producer of some of the best talent in the world. Players that played in this tournaments include: Saviola, D'Alessandro, Veron, Crespo, Zanetti, Cavenaghi, and others. It is no small feat then that the US was able to get a lead in the game and hold such offensive pressure for long periods of time. It could have been even better if Adu had put away an arguable PK. I say arguable because although there was plenty of contact i think that Adu had lost posession of the ball, as i say it was arguable either way and i think that the offense should have the edge when in doubt.
Adu stroke the ball perfectly, he was unlucky to hit the post and miss a golden opportunity to seal the game; however, the US had to keep fighting and working to maintain the slight lead.
Once again, im utterly impressed by this game and i couldnt stop talking about it for days. This is the beggining of something big for the US i think, the number of players increases every year and with such a large pool to pick from the US should be a world contender in a few years.
What i dont understand is the lack of coverage for such event. I dont know if i am just overreacting but i think this was a huge win for the US, probably the biggest US win this year and probably the biggest upset of the tournament. Perhaps my social circle is unique but i feel that the audience waiting for soccer coverage keeps growing and it is hard to understand why the networks are having such a hard time paying attention. ESPN made a good move by bringing ESPNDeportes to the US Carriers but it still not widespread and in the meantime FOX soccer channel offers 2 or 3 games a week. And you know what drove this increase in attention to soccer? The driving factor was a small cable channel, GolTV, 24-7 soccer.
What are we waiting to embrace this game?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Qualifying round

Well this weekend was another game in the path to the world cup in Germany next year. Probably few of you know my favorite team in this Region is Costa Rica. As you can imagine last nights game was painful to watch, but i have to give props to the US team. I only watched parts of the game but what I saw was enough to see the US was far superior, especially in the way they handled the game. I was very dissappointed with Costa Rica, i think they played to get a tie and only tried to get forwad with seldom counter attacks. This style of play benefitted the US because their speed and fitness is probably the best in the world, then losing the ball in transition or tracking back to defense does not become a problem as it would for any other team in the region.
Also, probably the highlight of this game was Landon Donovan, very impresive display. I think he is ready to migrate to a better league, perhaps spain would fit him well, o even Italy, i am not sure he can deal with the intensity and speed in England. What do you think? What did you think of DeMarcus Beasley's performance? I was not very impressed although he is coming out of an injury so I'll give him a break.