Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Team of the Year 2010 (+poll)

Posted in Uncategorized by peterbein on December 24, 2010
FC Bayern München

Are FC Bayern München your team of the year?

Here is Stoppage Time – International Football Blog’s Team of the Year 2010 shortlist

FC BAYERN MÜNCHEN: Secured their 22nd championsip title in the 2009-10 season after seeing off nearest challengers Schalke 04 to the Meisterschale by five points. Also secured the DFB-Pokal (German Cup) by hammering Werder Bremen 4-0 in the final in Berlin’s Olympiastadion, securing the club’s sixth such ‘double’ in the last decade. However their fortune ran out in Madrid where they lost out to Internazionale FC in the final of the UEFA Champions League.

SC Internacional

Are SC Internacional your team of the year?

SC INTERNACIONAL: The Porto Alegre based side won their second Copa Libertadores (South American Champions League) title in four years topping a group with Deportivo Quito, CA Cerro and CS Emelec before getting past CA Banfield, previous champions Estudiantes de La Plata and São Paulo in the knockout rounds before beating Chivas Guadalajara 5-3 in the two-legged final. Finished 7th in the Brazilian domestic championship and a losing semi-finalist in the FIFA Club World Cup.

Internazionale FC

Are Internazionale FC your team of the year?

FC INTERNAZIONALE: After seeing many titles winging their way to their bitter enemies AC Milan over the years it was finally time for the Nerazzurri to have some glory of their own. Jose Mourinho led the club to an unprecedented treble with success in Serie A (pipping AS Roma to the title on the final day), Coppa Italia (also beating AS Roma) and UEFA Champions League (beating FC Bayern 2-0) whilst Rafa Benítez has led the club to further glory with wins in the Italian Super Cup (again AS Roma) and FIFA Club World Cup (3-0 v TP Mazembe).

Spain national team

Is Spain your team of the year?

SPAIN: The Spanish national team is riding on the crest of a wave after winning the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Following a less than impressive start against Switzerland, against whom La Selección lost 1-0, the Spaniards went on to defeat Honduras and Chile in the group stage before getting past Portugal, Paraguay, Germany and the Netherlands to lift football’s biggest prize for the very first time. This meant that Spain are the third team after West Germany and France to hold the European and world titles at the same time. Spain also top the FIFA World Rankings at the end of the year.

TP Mazembe

Are TP Mazembe your team of the year?

TP MAZEMBE: The Congolese side were desperately unlucky not to win their domestic title, losing the championship to rivals AS Vita Club only on the back of goal difference. But it’s for the club’s international exploits that they reach our shortlist; a second consecutive CAF African Champions’ League beating Esperance ST 6-1 on aggregate followed by a maiden appearance in the FIFA Club World Cup final becoming the first non-European/South American team to reach that stage of the competition.

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Player of the Year 2010 (+poll)

Posted in Uncategorized by peterbein on December 24, 2010

 

Andres Iniesta

Is Andres Iniesta your player of the year?

This is the shortlist for Stoppage Time – International Football Blog’s Player of the Year. Who will get your vote?

ANDRÉS INIESTA: What a year it’s been for the Spain and FC Barcelona midfield maestro. Not content with winning a second consecutive league title with his club but he starred in the FIFA World Cup. His goal against Chile ensured Spain’s progress to the Round of 16 following a tough start. In the final against the Netherlands he scored the winning goal (see picture above) and collected the Man of the Match award. One of three candidates to win the 2010 FIFA Ballon D’or.

Arjen Robben

Is Arjen Robben your player of the year?

ARJEN ROBBEN: The Dutchman was the inspiration for FC Bayern München’s run to the UEFA Champions League final as well as helping the Bavarian giants secure the domestic league and cup double in the club’s history. Also featured for the Dutch national team in their second place finish at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Sadly he has been injured for the last three months and his absence has had a negative effect on his team who currently lie a distant 14 points behind Bundesliga table-toppers Borussia Dortmund.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Is Cristiano Ronaldo your player of the year?

CRISTIANO RONALDO: Although he ended 2010 empty-handed the Portuguese sensation has had an extraordinary year in terms of his contribution to club side Real Madrid. Ronaldo scored 26 league goals in his first season as los Blancos finished just three points behind a resilient FC Barcelona team which could only beat Madrid to the title with a record number of points.

Lionel Messi

Is Lionel Messi your player of the year?

LIONEL MESSI: The little Argentine may not have had a great FIFA World Cup tournament but he was the focal point for the team who tried to give him the ball at every opportunity. At club level, however, Messi continues to excel at FC Barcelona where he won a second league title in 2009-10 scoring 34 goals in La Liga and has chipped in with another 17 goals in the current campaign, including two in the recent 5-0 demolition of Real Madrid. One of three candidates to win the 2010 FIFA Ballon D’or

Xavi Hernández

Is Xavi Hernández your player of the year?

XAVI HERNÁNDEZ: The Spain and FC Barcelona playmaker has really earned the plaudits following an almost faultless year. Just like Iniesta he was a pivotal figure in his club and national team successes and has chipped in with some important goals such as the brace he got in the 5-0 win over Real Madrid and a goal in last week’s 5-1 win over local rivals RCD Espanyol. One of three candidates to win the 2010 FIFA Ballon D’or.

Stoppage Time – International Football Blog Awards 2010

Posted in Uncategorized by peterbein on December 24, 2010

I think many of you would agree that 2010 has been an eventful year in the world of football. Therefore I ask you to take a few minutes of your time in voting in the first ever Stoppage Time – International Football Blog Awards.

OK so this humble little website may not have the clout of many similar websites but at least the end result of these awards will be based on the votes of readers all around the world. In the next four posts Stoppage Time will ask you to vote on the following four categories:

– Player of the Year

– Coach of the Year

– Team of the Year

– Goal of the Year

There will be five choices in each category and, quite simply, the winner is the one with the most votes. So what are you waiting for? Get voting now!

You can vote at any time until Saturday, January 1st 2011.

Europe: Winter Break Leagues Round-Up (Part 2)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on December 24, 2010
F91 Dudelange

F91 Dudelange have a big lead in Luxembourg

In the second part of our winter break review Stoppage Time – International Football Blog looks at the current situation in many more of Europe’s top leagues.

LUXEMBOURG: F91 Dudelange (15 games, 42 points) are running away with it in the National Division presently. They have won all but one of their fifteen league games to date and have a commanding 16 point advantage over second place UN Käerjéng 97 with another clubs – FC Differdange 03, Jeunesse Esch and Fola Esch – all a point further back. At the other end of the standings Jeunesse Canach and FC Wiltz 71 are in the relegation places with Swift Hesperage occupying the promotion/relegation play-off place.

MACEDONIA: FK Škendija (18 games, 35 points) narrowly have the lead by just a solitary point over nearest challengers FK Renova in Macedonia’s Prva Liga. FK Rabotnički, who have been there or thereabouts in the last five years, are just two points further behind and one can’t write off the chances of 4th and 5th place teams FK Metalurg Skopje and FK Turnovo just yet as they are both on 29 points.

MALTA: With six matches to go until the end of the regular season Malta’s Premier League sees Valletta FC (12 games, 30 points) have a healthy lead over Tarxien Rainbows by seven points. When the regular season is finished the top six teams will feature in a championship group and play each other home and away for the title. The bottom four, on the other hand, will also play a round-robin schedule with the bottom two teams sealing their fate and dropping to the First Division.

MOLDOVA: Dacia Chişinău (21 games, 48 points) are spearheading the chase to topple dominant force FC Sheriff Tiraspol from the top of their perch. Dacia and Sheriff are sandwiched by surprise outfit FC Milsami Orhei with Olimpia Bălţi and FC Iskra-Stal Rîbniţa also in the running with 41 points each as Moldova’s Divizia Națională could see its most exciting title race for many years.

MONTENEGRO: FK Mogren (17 games, 42 points) lead the way in Montenegro’s T-Com 1.CFL hoping to win their second championship in three seasons. Budućnost Podgorica are their nearest challengers with a five point gap separating them from the league leaders. Last season’s champions FK Rudar lie in third place but haven’t kept up the pace as much as they’d have liked as they trail seven points further back.

NETHERLANDS: Defending champions FC Twente, after a sluggish start, are back in the hunt to claim consecutive Eredivisie titles. However PSV Eindhoven (19 games, 41 points) lead the way and are hoping to see off other challengers such as surprise package FC Groningen and Ajax Amsterdam (who let coach Martin Jol leave replacing him with Frank de Boer as caretaker) who lie in third and fourth place respectively. Feyenoord Rotterdam have been dreadful so far this season but have recovered slightly in recent weeks rising from a catastrophic 16th place to a slightly more comfortable 13th place in the table.

POLAND: Jagiellonia Białystok (15 games, 30 points) have led the way in the Ekstraklasa almost since the start of the season but perennial challengers Wisła Kraków have started to catch up and are now only three points behind the league leaders. Legia Warszawa also lie three points behind Jagiellonia as they go in search of a first championship title for five years. KS Cracovia with a mere eight points already seem doomed for the drop but as many as eight teams could still be dragged in the mire with them as the table is close from second bottom upwards.

André  Villas-Boas

Will André Villas-Boas guide FC Porto to title success?

PORTUGAL: FC Porto (14 games, 38 points), under promising young coach André Villas-Boas, have led the Liga Sagres since Matchday 2 of the season and seem steady favourites to remain top throughout the season. The “Special One: Mark Two” has taken the second city side eight points clear of last season’s champions and arch-rivals SL Benfica with Sporting Clube do Portugal a further five points behind.

ROMANIA: Oţelul Galaţi (18 games, 39 points) are the surprise leaders in Romania’s Liga I with the season just past its halfway mark. Last season’s CFR Cluj-Napoca are a distant twelve points away in eighth place and will have to embark on a long winning run if they are to have any hope of reclaiming their crown. FC Timişoara are hoping to win their maiden title and a five point gap between themselves and the league leaders is far from insurmountable.

SAN MARINO: The Campionato Sammarinese is split into two distinct groups during the regular season. Group A is currently led by SS Pennarossa who have a slender one point advantage over second place SS Cosmos. Defending champions S.P. Tre Fiori have a healthier lead at the top of Group B leading the way from arch-rivals SP Tre Penne by eight points. The top three from each group will go into the end-of-season play-offs with the group winners given byes to the third round.

SERBIA: Partizan Belgrade (15 games, 40 points) lead their arch-rivals Crvena Zvezda by five points with FK Vojvidina Novi Sad, an increasing third force in the Serbian game, just three points further back. Partizan can now concentrate on defending their SuperLiga crown following their elimination from the UEFA Champions League. Crvena Zvezda still have a bit of work to do if they are to savour championship success for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

SLOVAKIA: MŠK Žilina (18 games, 37 points) are another team whose elimination from the UEFA Champions League means they can put all their energies into a successful title defence. They currently lead the Slovakian SuperLiga by five points from FK Senica with third place FK Dukla Banská Bystrica trailing by a further point. However neither of these two clubs are expected to sustain a challenge on the league leaders who have far and away the best squad in the league.

SLOVENIA: NK Maribor (19 games, 45 points) lead the Prva Liga by nine points from NK Domžale whilst defending league champions FC Koper are struggling to keep up with only thirty points so far. The situation at the bottom of the table is much tighter with four points separating the bottom four teams – NK Primorje, NK Celje, ND Triglav Kranj and Olimpija Ljubljana – who are all trying to avoid automatic relegation (10th place) or the promotion/relegation play-off place (9th place).

SPAIN: Once again La Liga is looking like it’s heading towards a two-horse race between FC Barcelona (16 games, 43 points) and Real Madrid who are just two points off the pace. Villarreal look the most likely to make any sort of challenge on the big two but, realistically, a UEFA Champions League place is the best they can hope for. After FC Barcelona won the opening Clásico of the season by a whopping 5-0 scoreline over Real Madrid they remain slight favourites to win the title.

SWITZERLAND: The Swiss Super League appears to be a three-horse race with FC Luzern (18 games, 33 points) currently topping the table from FC Basle and FC Zürich who are just one and two points behind respectively. If FC Luzern can remain at the top for the remainder of the season then they stand a great chance of ending the seven year duopoly on the title held by FC Basle (4 title wins including last season’s) and FC Zürich (3 titles).

TURKEY: There’s a good chance that yet another team outside the traditional big three of Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş can win Turkey’s Süper Lig this season. Following Bursaspor’s dramatic title win last season, Trabzonspor (17 games, 42 points) currently lead the table by five points over the defending champions and hope to win their first title for 27 years. Such a win would finally end the agony for fans of the Black Sea port club who have waited for what seems an eternity for their seventh league title but there’s still plenty of football left and the big three will definitely have a say in the this season’s championship.

UKRAINE: The big two of Ukrainian football occupy the top two places yet again in the Premyer Liha. Defending champions Shakhtar Donetsk (19 games, 52 points) have a healthy twelve point advantage over record champions Dynamo Kyiv and seem almost impossible to dislodge from the top of the standings with just eleven matches to go. Dynamo Kyiv will have to work hard to remain in the second UEFA Champions League place with Metalist Kharkiv just two points behind and Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk a further three points back.

Shakhtar Donetsk

Shakhtar Donetsk look ready to win another Ukrainian championship

Europe: Winter Break Leagues Round-Up (Part 1)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on December 24, 2010
SV Ried

SV Ried are leading the way in Austria's Bundesliga at Christmas time

With the exception of the United Kingdom and Belgium, the vast majority of Europe’s top leagues are pausing for a winter break so Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the current state of play all over the continent.

ALBANIA: Flamurtari Vlorë (16 games, 34 points) and Skënderbeu Korçë, who are just three points behind the league leaders, are fighting it out at the top of the Albanian Superliga with a host of other teams not too far behind. KS Vllaznia Shkodër are in third position, just six points behind Flamurtari, and are well placed to challenge should the top two slip up. Capital clubs FK Tirana and and Dinamo Tirana are both three points behind KS Vllaznia and could be, at the very least, fighting it out for the European spots.

ANDORRA: The regular season in Andorra’s Primera Divisió has been completed with the top four teams – FC Lusitanos, UE Sant Julià, FC Santa Coloma and UE Santa Coloma – going through to the Championship Group which starts in January. The bottom four teams – CE Principat, Inter Club d’Escaldes, CE Benfica and FC Encamp – will take part in the relegation group.

AUSTRIA: SV Ried lead the way in Austria’s Bundesliga (37 points, 17 games), four ahead of both Sturm Graz and defending champions Red Bull Salzburg. Both of the traditional Viennese powers – Austria and Rapid  – lie just outside the European spots in fourth and fifth place respectively. At the other end of the table LASK Linz are struggling with just ten points but are a mere two points behind relegation threatened SV Mattersburg.

AZERBAIJAN: The Premyer Liqasi is led at the Christmas break from Neftchi Baku (19 games, 41 points) leading by just a solitary point from second place FK Khazar Lankaran. Once the regular season is complete after 22 games the table is split into two groups; the top six go into the Championship Group and the bottom six in the Relegation group hoping not to become one of the two teams that will lose top-flight status.

BOSNIA & HERZOGOVINA: The Premijer Liga has reached the halfway stage with FK Borac Banju Luka topping the table (15 games, 33 points), five ahead of nearest challengers and defending champions FK Željezničar Sarajevo. FK Sarajevo occupy the third European spot with only goal difference separating them from the champions. At the bottom of the table FK Velež prop up the rest of the league with just 13 points with Drina Zvornik one point better off in the second relegation spot in the 16-team league.

BULGARIA: Defending champions PFC Litex Lovech (15 games, 37 points) currently hold the way in Bulgaria’s A PFG League. At the halfway stage of the season Litex has a five point advantage over Levski Sofia with both Chernomorets Burgas and Lokomotiv Sofia four points further back. Record champions CSKA Sofia lie in fifth place and have to claw back a lot of ground if they are to maintain hope of claiming a 32nd domestic championship.

CROATIA: Dinamo Zagreb (18 games, 45 points) currently hold the lead in the Prva HNL as they hope to win a sixth consecutive title. Eternal rivals Hajduk Split are five points behind and are the only team with any hope of catching the champions as third place HNK Cibalia are a massive fifteen points behind the leaders. At the foot of the table the bottom five teams – NK Zagreb, Lokomotiva, HNK Šibenik, Istra 1961 and Hrvatski Dragovoljac – will have to work a lot harder if they are avoid the drop. With league re-structuring taking place for the 2011-12 season more teams than usual are threatened with the drop.

CYPRUS: The Cypriot Marfin Laiki League sees APOEL Nicosia (15 games, 38 points) looking comfortable at the top of the standings with seven points separating them from second place Omonia Nicosia. At the bottom AEP Paphos FC and Ermis Aradippou are most in danger of dropping straight down before the league splits into three distinct groups – Championship, UEFA Europa League qualifying & relegation – at the end of the regular season.

CZECH REPUBLIC: FC Viktoria Plzeň (17 games, 41 points) have a four point gap separating them from Sparta Prague at the top of the Grambrinus Liga. Sigma Olomouc are a further six points behind in third place as the title has a two-horse feel about it at the moment. The biggest surprise is that Slavia Prague are just two places and four points above the bottom side Ústí nad Labem and need to do significantly better if they are not to get dragged into a relegation battle.

FC København

FC København are still unbeaten in Denmark

DENMARK: FC København (19 games, 51 points) are unstoppable in this season’s Superliga going the first nineteen games of the championship unbeaten and holding a seemingly unassailable 19 point lead over second place Odense Boldklub. FCK have only dropped points in three drawn games and are performing at their most dominant since being coached by Norwegian Ståle Solbakken who is departing at the end of the season to take charge of the Norway national team.

FRANCE: Without doubt the tightest championship in Europe at the moment. Lille OSC (18 games, 32 points) are the current table-toppers and have a game in hand on those teams directly below them. The likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Stade Rennais and Olympique Lyonnais are just a point worse off and there are only ten points separating Lille OSC from 16th place Valenciennes. Therefore anybody who can string a number of wins together from now ’til the season’s end has a very good chance of winning Ligue 1.

GEORGIA: FC Zestafoni and Olimpi Rustavi (18 games, 37 points) are neck-and-neck going into the winter break with Dinamo Tbilisi just two points behind in a closely-fought Umaglesi Liga. FC Zestafoni are hoping to win their maiden Georgian championshp whilst Olimpi, the defending champions, have ambitions to win their third title in five seasons. Dinamo Tbilisi, the nation’s most famous club, want to add to their record number of championships. At the bottom Kolkheti Poti and Spartak Tskhinvali lie in the two relegation places but are only six points behind fourth place Torpedo Kutaisi and can climb up the table with a couple of wins.

GERMANY: Borussia Dortmund (17 games, 43 points) have been immense in the first half of the Bundesliga season. They acquired the tag of Herbstmeister (autumn champions) with two games of the opening half of the season to go and have only lost two matches so far. Nevertheless the Ruhr Valley side has a ten point lead over both 1.FSV Mainz 05 and Bayer 04 Leverkusen and look favourites to win their seventh title. Champions FC Bayern München are a distant 14 points behind and have a lot of work to do if they’re to get back in the title hunt. At the bottom big clubs such as Borussia Mönchengladbach, VfB Stuttgart and 1.FC Köln continue to struggle.

GREECE: Olympiakos (15 games, 36 points) are hoping to win back the title they lost last season and currently lead the Super League with a five point advantage over perennial rivals and defending champions Panathinaikos. PAOK Thessaloniki and AEK Athens are a distant joint third place as both teams have 23 points at the moment. Last season’s Beta Ethniki (2nd tier) champions Olympiakos Volou are lying in a respectable eighth place in their first top flight campaign since 1989-90.

HUNGARY: Dreams of a first ever Monicomp Liga title are increasing at Videoton FC (16 games, 36 points) who have a seven point lead over Zalaegerszegi TE and Kaposvári Rákóczi FC. Hungary’s most famous club Ferencváros are in fourth place in their first campaign back in the top flight following a four year absence whilst champions Debreceni VSC lie in fifth position.

ISRAEL: Maccabi Haifa (15 games, 34 points) are hoping to gain revenge on closest challengers Hapoel Tel-Aviv who deprived them the Premier League title on the last day of the 2009-10 season. Maccabi currently lead the champions by two points but there is further competition from Maccabi Tel-Aviv who are just three points further back. The regular season is at the halfway point at the moment; when it’s compeleted the table will be split into three groups challenging for the championship, European places and top-flight survival.

ITALY: AC Milan (17 games, 36 points) may not have to worry too much about their neighbours Internazionale FC right now with the Rossoneri thirteen points ahead of the defending Italian and European champions. However AC Milan do have to look over their shoulder at the likes of SS Napoli, Juventus FC, SS Lazio, AS Roma and US Città di Palermo who all trail the Serie A table-toppers within a nine point gap.

AC Milan v Internazionale FC

AC Milan (red/black) have a huge advantage over defending champions Internazionale FC

Europe: Big wins for Bayern and Real Madrid; Cups Review

Posted in European Football by peterbein on December 23, 2010
Miroslav Klose

Miroslav Klose scored twice in FC Bayern's 6-3 win over VfB Stuttgart

To finish the year there has been domestic cup action this week throughout Europe. Some matches were called off due to bad weather in northern Europe including the entire first leg fixture list in Belgium’s Coupe Cofidis but, overall, there has been good quality football played in Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the best of the action:

GERMANY: Schalke 04 scraped through by the skin of their teeth against 2. Liga outfit FC Augsburg with the Gelsenkirchen side going through 1-0 courtesy of a Jefferson Farfan goal with just six minutes remaining. TSG 1899 Hoffenheim also put their name in the hat for the last eight with a 2-0 home win over Borussia Mönchengladbach with Gylfi Sigurðsson and Demba Ba doing the damage. On Wednesday cup holders FC Bayern went to VfB Stuttgart for the second time in three days and were involved in a humdinger of a game. Having put five past their hosts in the league game on Sunday, FC Bayern went one better as they beat the Swabians with a 6-3 scoreline. The biggest shock of the round came in Lower Saxony where English coach Steve McClaren is under increasing pressure after seeing VfL Wolfsburg go out against 2. Liga side Energie Cottbus. There were also wins for MSV Duisburg (2-1 over 1.FC Köln) and Alemania Aachen who prevailed 5-3 on penalties following a 1-1 draw against Eintracht Frankfurt. The games involving Kickers Offenbach v 1.FC Nürnberg and TuS Koblenz v 1.FC Kaiserslautern were postponed due to bad weather.

GREECE: In the Kypello Elladas defending cup holders Panathinaikos got the better of tricky opponents Trikala FC by 3-2 on Wednesday whilst local rivals Olympiakos Piraeus scraped through their game away at Asteras Tripolis with Spanish striker Ariel Ibagaza scoring the winner late in the game with four minutes remaining. Their namesakes Olympiakos Volou are through following a 2-1 win at home to Panserraikos on Tuesday whilst PAOK Thessaloniki, fresh from their UEFA Europa League exploits, also qualified for the quarter-finals with a 2-1 home win against PAS Ioannina. Atrmoitos beat AO Kavala 1-0 in the remaining game already played this week whilst three games take place this evening, the pick of the games being the meeting of Super League Greece sides Larissa and AEK Athens.

NETHERLANDS: There were easy wins this week for FC Twente and PSV Eindhoven. The former wrapped up a convincing 5-0 home destruction of Vitesse Arnhem whilst the latter conjured up a 3-1 win away at Roda JC Kerkrade. The only other game so far this week saw FC Utrecht get the better of FC Volendam by a goal to nil at home. Tonight sees defending champions Ajax Amsterdam face a tough home test against AZ Alkmaar but the game between this season’s surprise package in the Eredivisie, FC Groningen, and SC Genemuiden is now postponed becuase of the weather. The other three games in this round will be played in mid-January.

Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema scored in Real Madrid's win over Levante CF

SPAIN: It was a job well done for Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey Round of 16, first leg as they held FC Barcelona to a goalless draw in the Camp Nou on Tuesday in a match pitting the two most successful Copa del Rey winners against each other. Valencia were also involved in a goalless draw against local rivals Villarreal whilst a night of drawn games was completed on Tuesday with Deportivo La Coruña’s 1-1 draw at Cordoba CF. On Wednesday there were wins for last season’s finalists Sevilla FC (5-3 v Malaga CF) and Atlético de Madrid (1-0 v RCD Espanyol) while Real Madrid easily saw off Levante CF by an 8-0 scoreline, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo both bagging a hat-trick apiece. The other two matches this week saw a victories for UD Almería (4-3 v Real Mallorca) and Getafe (2-1 away at Real Betis).

TURKEY: The Kupasi Türkiye has reached the last 16 stage. It has a group stage, unlike most other domestic knockout competitions, where the teams have been split into four groups of five teams. In Group A both Gaziantepspor and Galatasaray top the standings with four points from two games following their meeting on Tuesday where they both gained a point from a 1-1 draw. Beşiktaş are only in third place in Group B but they did chalk up their first win of the group with a 3-2 victory over second place Konya Sekerspor whilst Trabzonspor are in fourth having only drawn 2-2 at home to Gaziantep. The biggest surprise so far is that Fenerbahçe lie rock bottom in Group C having lost both of their two opening games against Ankaragücü and, on Tuesday, against first place Bucaspor. Group D saw league champions Bursaspor top the standings, defeating Karsiyaka Izmir 2-0 on Tuesday.

AFF Suzuki Cup: Malaysia and Indonesia reach final

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on December 19, 2010
Malaysia

Malaysia have qualified for their first AFF Suzuki Cup final since 1996

Malaysia and Indonesia have qualified for the final of the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup, the tournament for south east Asian nations, after both teams overcame defending champions Vietnam and the Philippines in their respective semi-finals.

Malaysia held a 2-0 first leg lead going into their return fixture in Hanoi on Saturday as title holders Vietnam were desperate to reach their second consecutive final. Alas the game petered out into a goalless draw with the 40,000 crowd in the My Dinh stadium going home disappointed. The major talking point of a game few and far between in highlights was the 72nd minute red card shown to Vietnam’s Pham Thanh Luong who dived in the box following an attempt to gain the ball on a rare attack. Malaysia held on with ease to register a place in the final of this tournament for only the second time and will want to go one better than in their first appearance in the inaugural event in 1996 where they lost 1-0 to Thailand.

Cristian Gonzáles

Cristian Gonzáles is the tournament's top scorer

In the other semi-final Uruguay-born Cristian Gonzáles proved to be the decisive figure in both legs of Indonesia’s 2-0 aggregate victory over the Philippines. It was Gonzáles who scored the only goal in the first leg played on Thursday to give Indonesia a slender advantage going into today’s second leg match-up. Indonesia had him to thank yet again in the 43rd minute of the second leg with a stunning strike hit from 25 yards out, flying into the top right-hand corner, giving Philippines keeper Neil Etheridge no chance. Gonzáles is now the tournament’s top scorer with three goals and he will have a chance to cement his status in the two-legged final with Malaysia.

The first leg of the final takes place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on December 26th with the return fixture playing in Djakarta, Indonesia, three days later.

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New Zealand: Waitakere running away with it at the halfway stage

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on December 19, 2010
Waitakere United

Waitakere United are dominating the ASB Premiership this season

The ASB Premiership, New Zealand’s flagship football competition, is at the halfway point in the 2010-11 season and for defending champions Waitakere United the signs are currently good. Seven games into the season and Waitakere have an eight point lead over nearest challengers Team Wellington as they have shown the rest of the league that they are far and away the best team in the competition at the moment.

The champions have won all seven of their ASB Premiership games so far including today’s 2-0 away win at last season’s losing finalists Canterbury United. Both goals were scored in the first half with Roy Krishna opening United’s account after fifteen minutes, taking his season’s tally of goals up to four. Christopher Bale doubled the lead with ten minutes to go before the break and the champions never looked back from there. Team Wellington won 5-0 at home to Otago United – Hicham Kamri bagging a brace with John Sutherland, Darren Cheriton and Emiliano Tade getting the others – to keep up the chase on the league leaders. Auckland City have had a difficult season so far but they at least ended the calendar year on a high winning 5-0 at home to Hawke’s Bay United, Adam McGeorge helping himself to a hat-trick. They consolidated third place in the standings increasing their advantage over Canterbury United to four points.

In the bottom half of the table bottom club YoungHeart Manuwatu finally registered their first win of the season beating Waikato FC 5-2. Michael White scored a hat-trick for the hosts who hadn’t even chalked up a point in the standings before today. With both Team Wellington and Otago United losing the win helped YoungHeart narrow the gap between themselves and the two teams above them to four points. The next round of fixtures will take place on the weekend of January 8-9 with Waitakere United at home to Otago United, play-off hopefuls Canterbury United against last season’s Minor Premiers Auckland City, second place Team Wellington visit YoungHeart Manuwatu and Waikato FC face Hawke’s Bay United as the business end to the regular season will begin in earnest.

FIFA: Internazionale are world champions

FIFA Club World Cup 2010 logoUEFA Champions League holders Internazionale FC of Milan are the new FIFA Club World Cup winners having defeated surprise package TP Mazembe of Africa by a 3-0 scoreline in Abu Dhabi this evening. Goals from Goran Pandev, Samuel Eto’o and late substitute Jonathan Biabiany sealed the deal for the Nerazzurri and gifted coach Rafael Benítez with his second trophy as coach of the Milanese giants having won the Italian Super Cup at the start of the season.

The game was always going to be an historic occasion in world football irrespective of the result as it saw a team from outside Europe and South America compete in the final for the very first time. CAF African Champions League holders TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo had already exceeded the expectations of their fans by reaching the semi-finals having beaten CONCACAF Champions League winners Pachuca CF in the quarter finals. Beating Copa Libertadores champions Internacional of Brazil in the semi-finals, on the other hand, was something extraordinary for a team who have captured the imagination of fans around the world for their compact style of play and wonderful goal celebrations, most notably from their goalkeeper Muteba Kidiaba.

For Internazionale the objective was simple; avoid humiliation. Coach Benítez was present in the stadium to see TP Mazembe defeat Internacional and certainly didn’t underestimate his opponents. Nonetheless the game started off well enough for his team going two up in the first twenty minutes. Goran Pandev gave the Nerazzurri the lead as early as the 13th minute after Samuel Eto’o had played him through the middle allowing the Macedonian to stab the ball home from close range. Cameroonian Eto’o would double Inter’s advantage just four minutes later after firing home from the edge of the penalty box following Javier Zanetti’s pullback from the byline. With such an advantage so early in the game many people were hoping that the Africans wouldn’t be on the end of a rout and, mercifully for Mazembe, Diego Milito didn’t have the same scoring qualities as some of his colleagues tonight as he missed two great chances in the first half to all but end the game as a contest.

The second half began with Inter controlling possession as they made the Africans work to win the ball back. Once the clock had reached the hour mark, however, Mazembe finally began to see some of the ball and began, little by little, to create chances. The worst offender in front of goal for the Congans was Dioko Kaluyituka who had his team’s three best chances of the game but was unable to find the back of the net. Not only did he see a shot blacked late in the first half but he rounded Julio Cesar in the 75th minute only to miscontrol the ball. Five minutes later Kaluyituka shot from very close range towards Cesar, the Brazilian palming the ball away to safety with the Africans regretting the fact that they never seemed to get the bounce of the ball throughout the game. The crowd, many of whom were fans of Internacional who had seen their team claim third place with a 4-2 win over Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma in the earlier game, were raising the noise levels encouraging Mazembe to score. Sadly for them, in the 85th minute, substitute Jonathan Biabiany, who had been on the pitch for fifteen minutes, beat the offside trap following a wonderful pass from Dejan Stanković and rounded Kidiaba to make it 3-0 and begin the celebrations on the Internazionale bench.

The win for Internazionale FC means that European teams have won the last four editions of this competition following triumphs for FC Barcelona, Manchester United and AC Milan. Taking into account all of the previous finals in all other guises of the competition, Europe and South America are now tied with 25 wins each. For TP Mazembe their objective is to win the CAF champions League for a third successive year, something which has never been achieved in the African football’s elite club competition, and try to emulate this year’s acheivements when the tournament returns to Japan in 2011.

UEFA: Europa League draw for next two rounds completed

Posted in European Football by peterbein on December 17, 2010

The draw for the last 32 and the last 16 stages of the UEFA Europa League has been made this afternoon in the Swiss town of Nyon. The usual restrictions apply in the Round of 32 stages where teams can’t meet any of their group opponents and have country protection. In the Round of 16 no such restrictions apply and is, thus, an open draw. Here are the next two rounds in all their glory which will leave many football fans on the edge of their seats from February:

UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE – ROUND OF 32

A/ SS Napoli – Villarreal CF

B/ Glasgow Rangers – Sporting Lisbon

C/ Sparta Prague – Liverpool FC

D/ RSC Anderlecht – Ajax Amsterdam

E/ Lech Poznan – Sporting Braga

F/ Besiktas JK – Dynamo Kyiv

G/ FC Basel – Spartak Moscow

H/ Young Boys Bern – Zenit St Petersburg

I/ Aris Thessaloniki – Manchester City

J/ PAOK Thessaloniki – CSKA Moscow

K/ Sevilla FC – FC Porto

L/ Rubin Kazan – FC Twente

M/ Lille OSC – PSV Eindhoven

N/ SL Benfica – VfB Stuttgart

O/ BATE Borisov – Paris Saint-Germain

P/ Metalist Kharkiv – Bayer 04 Leverkusen

All ties to be played from February 17th-24th

UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE – ROUND OF 16

Winner Match N – Winner Match O 

Winner Match F – Winner Match I

Winner Match L – Winner Match H 

Winner Match J – Winner Match K

Winner Match M – Winner Match B

Winner Match P – Winner Match A

Winner Match D – Winner Match G 

Winner Match C – Winner Match E

All ties to be played from March 10th-17th

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