Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Brazil set to defend U-20 title in South America

Posted in International Football, South America Football by peterbein on January 9, 2013

Brazil celebrate winning the 2011 South American U-20 title

The 2013 South American Youth Championship begins today in Argentina in a tournament which will help determine the four nations who will progress to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup later this year.

Eleven times winners Brazil are the defending champions having won the tournament two years ago with a squad which included the likes of Santos superstar Neymar, who finished the 2011 competition as top scorer with nine goals, and Lucas Moura who recently made headlines for signing for Paris Saint Germain for a club record €45m. The champions kick off the defence of their title with a match against Ecuador on Thursday evening in Group B, a group which also contains Peru, 2011 runners-up Uruguay and Venezuela.

Hosts Argentina will begin their tournament with a game against Chile and will hope to make a good start in their quest to improve on their third place finish in 2011. Argentina’s other Group A opponents come in the form of Bolivia, Colombia and Paraguay. There are three places up for grabs in each group before the tournament concludes with a six-team group in which each team plays each other once, the conclusion of this phase will determine the South American youth champions and the three other finalists for the FIFA event which will be held in Turkey in June.

The tournament takes place until February 3rd and will be played in two host cities, Mendoza and San Juan, both of which lie in the west of the country.

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Stoppage Time 2012 Player of the Year is Lionel Messi

Posted in European Football, International Football, South America Football by peterbein on December 31, 2012

Stoppage Time’s Player of the Year award could only go to one player, a player who surpasses all expectations of him with each and every passing year. It will be no surprise to see that FC Barcelona and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi has won the award in a year in which he may not have achieved as much as usual with his club side (Barcelona ‘only’ won the Copa del Rey in 2012) but in which the man himself has created a piece of footballing history by beating the record for the most number of goals scored in a calendar year.

Former FC Bayern München and West Germany international striker Gerd Müller’s record of 85 goals in a calendar year had stood since 1972 but was beaten by a stunning total of 91 goals this year by Messi whose individual exploits continually make people wonder just how much better he can become. Is there a chance that the maestro can become the first centurion in the future? One certainly wouldn’t bet against it and with FC Barcelona already a full nine points ahead of nearest challengers Atlético de Madrid in the 2012-13 La Liga title race, and a remarkable sixteen ahead of defending champions Real Madrid CF, could the ease of the current season help Messi achieve even more greatness in 2013? We certainly can’t wait to find out but, in the meantime, check out each and every one of the 91 goals which he scored in 2012.

Messi helps Argentina see off Brazil in seven goal thriller

Posted in International Football, South America Football by peterbein on June 10, 2012

The UEFA European Championships have started in earnest but on the other side of the Atlantic there was only one match that mattered this weekend. The two giants of South American football, Argentina and Brazil, met in a friendly match in New Jersey and thrilled the capacity crowd of 80,000 with seven goals and some stunning football.

The game was a topsy-turvy affair with both teams taking turns to hold on to the lead. Brazil went 1-0 up in the 23rd minute through Vasco da Gama midfielder Romulo only for Lionel Messi to turn the game on its head by the 37th minute with two expertly taken goals. The Brazilians hit back after half-time with Internacional midfielder Oscar and Chelsea transfer target Hulk giving the Seleção a 3-2 lead with a little under a twenty minutes of the match remaining. That, however, was still enough for Federico Fernández to restore parity in the 78th minute before the irreplaceable Messi stunned the crowd with a beautifully struck goal with five minutes remaining to give the Albiceleste the win in an entertaining game.

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Argentina: Trezeguet signs three year deal at River Plate

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on January 13, 2012
David Trezeguet

David Trezeguet (front) in training for new club River Plate

Argentinian giants River Plate, who are currently playing in their country’s second division following last season’s shock relegation, have showed their ambition to get back into the top flight by signing former France international David Trezeguet.

Trezeguet, who won a FIFA World Cup and who scored the winning “Golden Goal” for the French national team in the 2000 UEFA European Championship final against Italy, had only recently been playing in the United Arab Emirates but had decided not to continue at his club Bani Yas Sports Club following some injury problems. Now Trezeguet, who is of mixed French/Argentinian descent, will now go back to play in the land of his birth some seventeen years after he made his debut with CA Platense. As well as international success, he has also won league titles in France with AS Monaco and in Italy with Juventus.

Trezeguet signed a three year deal with River and there will be huge expectations amongst his club’s fanatical supporters for him to score the goals which will get Los Millionarios back into the top flight.

Argentina: Boca Juniors reacquaint themselves with title winning ways (video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on December 5, 2011

After a three year drought, Boca Juniors finally claimed the Argentinian title following last night’s 3-0 win at home to CA Banfield in the Torneo Apertura (Opening Championship). Boca only needed one point to be sure of the title but sealed the deal with a win in front of their loyal followers at the Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires and begin the celebrations with two rounds of matches still to be played in the first half of the Argentinian season.

Dario Cvitanivich bagged a brace in the first half with Diego Rivero grabbing Boca’s third just sixty seconds into the second half which left the rest of the game to be enjoyed as a title winning party for fans of Los Xeneixes. The celebrations were all the more joyous given that nobody expected Boca to win the title this season especially given the difficulties they had suffered in recent years. With relegation matters determined by a three year averages system Boca were far from safe at the start of the 2011-12 campaign with the club lying in 15th place in the relegation table before a ball was kicked in anger. With Boca’s arch rivals River Plate having faced the drop for the first time in their history last season, thoughts were more centred on staying safe rather than lifting silverware.

However Boca have turned their fortunes around in great style. After 17 of the scheduled 19 games of the Apertura, Boca still remain unbeaten with a record of eleven wins and six draws. Boca have scored 22 goals so far, the best in the league, but it is their defence which has significantly improved having only let in a measly four goals in this campaign. If they keep that up then they could be the first team to win both Apertura and Clausura championships since they themselves did it as recently as six years ago. This may not be so far fetched with their relegation worries now relieved, the club having lifted themselves to a very healthy sixth place in the averages table. For now it is the immediate present that concerns Boca and the league title, their 24th in the professional era, is now something that their fans can enjoy for themselves as opposed to celebrating the misfortune of their rivals.

Argentina: Rafaela set the pace in new campaign (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on August 29, 2011

Four games into the new Argentinian football season and a surprise name currently tops the table. Atlético de Rafaela, newly-promoted outfit from the town of Rafaela in Santa Fe province, have started off with three wins and a defeat in the 2011-12 Torneo Apertura and will obviously have to do a lot in order to stay there especially as traditional clubs such as Boca Juniors, Racing Club and defending champions Vélez Sársfield are hanging on their coat tails.

The new boys won at the weekend at home to Club Olimpo by three goals to one and it is games such as those against teams at the bottom of the table that Rafaela will have to win if they are to progress in the top flight. The club last played at this level in 2003-04 where, having finished 19th in the Apertura and 12th in the Clausura, Rafaela had to face a two-legged play-off against Huracán de Tres Arroyos and they were unable to reach the first division again until last season. The only blemish on their record so far is a 3-1 home defeat to Arsenal de Sarandi but it’s the three victories over Olimpo, All Boys and Banfield that will have done the team a lot of good upon their return and if the strike force of Darío Gandín and Alexis Castro, who have scored five of their eight goals so far, can keep up that ratio then it is feasible that the club can perform well this season although it would be asking a lot for them to be considered championship contenders just yet.

It also helped that many of the front runners were unable to win any of their games at the weekend and hand the early-season initiative over to Rafaela. Boca Juniors had the chance to top the table yesterday at home to San Lorenzo but could manage a 1-1 draw. Racing Club and Lanus also blew their opportunities on Saturday night when drawing 0-0 at home to Arsenal and Tigre respectively whilst defending champions Vélez Sársfield lost out in a surprise 1-0 defeat at home to All Boys so the early season gods seem to be smiling upon Rafaela at the moment.

Interest in the Argentinian second tier has increased significantly due to River Plate’s relegation and the Millionarios have begun their 2011-12 campaign well with three straight victories, the only team to have done so in the Nacional B division. Their latest win came at home to Sportivo Desamparados with a 3-1 victory coming courtesy of goals from Lucas Ocampos, Carlos Sanchez and Alejandro Dominguez.

World Cup: 25 Years Ago – El Diego made me a football fan (+video)

Posted in International Football by peterbein on June 22, 2011

It has been well documented in the English press that today is the 25th anniversary of Diego Maradona’s infamous “Hand of God” goal in Argentina’s 2-1 victory over England in the 1986 FIFA World Cup. That game brought out the best and worst sides of a player who, in my opinion, was the greatest footballer ever to play the game and it is arguably what “El Diego” did in the whole of that tournament which turned me from indifferent to passionate about the game of football.

Putting it simply, it took a little while for the football bug to bite when I was a kid. My first footballing memory was of seeing Manchester United beat Everton in the 1985 FA Cup final but the game was forgotten as soon as it was over and I didn’t bother with football again until Liverpool FC won the cup twelve months later. Football had begun to creep into my consciousness after Liverpool had won the cup that year, especially as they beat local rivals Everton in the first ever all-Merseyside FA Cup final, but I personally think that, had there not been a World Cup in the summer of that year, that I could’ve forgotten about football again. But when I saw Diego Maradona, in the famous Number 10 shirt of Argentina, pretty much dominate his team and the tournament then that was when I really began to take notice of this Beautiful Game.

THE “HAND OF GOD” GOAL:

The game which gained Maradona worldwide fame was the 1986 FIFA World Cup quarter-final played in Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. El Diego had already been part of the 1978 and 1982 World Cup squads but didn’t get to play a single minute of the former whilst his country suffered a second round exit in the latter. The 1986 tournament had already seen Argentina finish on top of their group – ahead of Italy, Bulgaria and South Korea – and get past eternal rivals Uruguay in the second round, setting up a hugely anticipated clash with England. The stakes would already have been high enough in any case but with relations between the two countries at arguably an all-time low following the Falklands War of 1982 there was an edge to the game which was certainly stronger on the Argentine side.

The game finished 0-0 at the break but it didn’t take long for one of the most controversial moments in the history of the sport to emerge. Six minutes into the second half Maradona, realizing he was not going to win a header against oncoming England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, decided to punch the ball into the net, an incident which none of the match officials spotted. The English players were incensed by the decision to award the goal and the sense of injustice had barely had time to sink in before the English were on the receiving end of one of the all-time great World Cup goals. Maradona, picking the ball up inside his own half, went past four players and rounded keeper Shilton before turning the ball home. If ever a goal was going to make me sit up and take notice then this was it. In the relatively short time that I’d been watching football this game seemed to have it all. The English very nearly came back but could only halve the deficit in the end and Maradona had taken his team to the semi-finals.

“THE GOAL OF THE CENTURY”:

As much as the England game proved to be one of the highlights of the tournament, the truth was that Maradona did more than just score those two goals. He went on to help his side defeat Belgium 2-0 in the last four stage, scoring both goals, before setting up Jorge Burruchaga for the match-winning goal in the 3-2 victory against West Germany in the final. The memories of the man and the legend that was Maradona certainly helped play their part in making me the football fan that I am today. I think that if the Hand of God didn’t exist then it would’ve been necessary to invent it.

South America: Titles decided in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on June 13, 2011

Three domestic championships were decided in South America this weekend. Vélez Sársfield claimed their eighth Argentinian championship having defeated Huracan 2-0 on Matchday 18 with goals from Santiago Silva and David Ramírez sealing the win whilst their only title challengers CA Lanús lost 1-0 at home to Argentinos Juniors, Nicolas Blandi scoring the only goal of the game. The results meant that Vélez Sársfield have a four point lead with just one game left to play. They complete their Torneo Clausura campaign at home to Racing Club next Sunday.

WATCH HURACAN v VELEZ GOALS HERE:

In Uruguay the respective champions of the Apertura and Clausura championships, namely Defensor Sporting and Nacional, went head-to-head in a play-off. Because of the rules of the competition Nacional, whose aggregate total of points for the two championships was greater than that of their opponents, only had to win yesterday’s match to take the title whilst a Sporting win would mean a further two-legged play-off. Fortunately for Nacional they managed to defeat their title rivals by just a solitary Tabaré Viudez goal in the 19th minute to claim their 43rd championship.

WATCH DEFENSOR SPORTING v NACIONAL HIGHLIGHTS HERE:

There was also an exciting climax to the season in Chile where defending champions Universidad Católica, having enjoyed a 2-0 first leg lead in their final clash with eternal rivals Universidad de Chile, were shocked to lose the second leg 4-1. Universidad de Chile turned things around and claimed their fourteenth domestic championship thanks mainly to a Gustavo Canales hat-trick with Católica’s Juan Eduardo Eluchans scoring an own goal. Despite Lucas Pratto pulling one back it wasn’t enough as Universidad de Chile settled matters by virtue of a 4-3 aggregate win to claim the Torneo Apurtura.

WATCH UNIVERSIDAD de CHILE v UNIVERSIDAD CATOLICA HIGHLIGHTS HERE:

Argentina: Torneo Clausura Preview

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on February 10, 2011
Estudiantes de La Plata

Estudiantes de La Plata are the current champions of Argentina

The second half of the Argentinian league season begins this weekend and if it’s anything like recent tournaments there could be a few surprises in store. The Clausura (Closing Championship) is the second league championship of the season and comes just a couple of months after Estudiantes de La Plata secured their fifth title success when winning the Apertura (Opening) Championship. Other matters such as Copa Sudamericana qualification and relegation will also be decided by the time the Clausura finishes in May so the next few months are going to be very important for all twenty teams involved in Argentina’s elite division.

Estudiantes de La Plata pipped nearest challengers Vélez Sársfield to the Apertura title by two points and the pre-season building up to the Clausura was going well before coach Alejandro Sabello shocked the club’s fans by announcing his resignation just days before the big kick-off. Eduardo Berizzo, who was previously assistant coach to Marcelo Bielsa with the Chilean national team, takes over for his first big job in club management. His first match in charge is a home game against Newell’s Old Boys who will want to improve on their mid-table position in the Apertura. Amongst the teams who have to juggle domestic and Libertadores campaigns Vélez Sársfield look like they could be a serious contender but have what appears to be a potentially tricky start to the campaign with away games at fellow Libertadores qualifiers Independiente and Argentinos Juniors sandwiching their first home game of the Clausura against All Boys. Godoy Cruz and Argentinos Juniors are teams who have performed consistently well in the last two league tournaments to merit their Libertadores places but Independiente only qualified due to winning the 2010 Copa Sudamericana and will hope to forget their 20th place finish in the Apertura.

The big two of River Plate and Boca Juniors have shown signs that the hard times could be coming to an end but there is still a lot of work to do especially with the former still in danger of going down (they lie 16th in the averages table used to determine relegation – the bottom two go straight down whilst 17th and 18th must enter play-offs) and the latter having changed coach yet again with newly appointed Julio César Falcioni being their sixth coach in three years. At least Boca had plenty more to smile about in their pre-season campaign, defeating arch-rivals River in the traditional Mar del Plata tournament and winning three of their four games to head into their opening league game against Godoy Cruz with confidence. River, on the other hand, didn’t win any of their four games ahead of their opening Clausura game against Tigre but with no continental commitments and the motivation to preserve top flight status Los Millionarios should recover as the season progresses.

Amongst the teams threatened with relegation the likely contenders to go straight down are Olimpo, who are the only team with an average of less than one point (exactly 0.947 before the Clausura), and Quilmes but the likes of Gimnasia de La Plata, Huracán and River Plate can still get sucked into the automatic relegation places should they fail to find any consistency. In the case of Huracán it is sad to think that they could go down just two years after finishing runners-up in the 2009 Clausura – a tournament which they cruelly lost to Vélez Sársfield in a last-day title decider – but such is the system that eventualities like that can happen. Teams hoping to improve on their disappointing Apertura finishes are the likes of San Lorenzo (14th place) and Banfield (15th), both of whom are amongst the eight different clubs to have won a league title in the last four seasons, whilst those hoping to progress on a promising first half of the season are the likes of Arsenal (3rd), Racing Club (6th), 2008 Apertura champions Lanús (7th) and little-known Buenos Aires outfit All Boys (8th).

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South America: Estudiantes and LDU grab the honours

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on December 13, 2010

The title race was settled in Argentina this weekend whilst the first stage in Ecuador’s top league also came to a conclusion. As it turned out two of South America’s most successful teams on the continent in recent years, Estudiantes de La Plata and LDU Quito, went on to add silverware to their domestic honours board.

In Argentina the title race went down to the final day and it was a two-horse race between two of the country’s top clubs, Estudiantes and Velez Sarsfield. Four-times champions of Argentina and South America, Estudiantes were in the ascendancy going into the final round of matches as they had a two point lead over Velez. This meant that Velez needed a win and hope for an Estudiantes defeat to claim the title outright or a draw to take the season into a championship play-off fixture. At half-time the omens were looking good for Velez as Juan Manuel Martinez’s 23rd minute goal had them leading their tie away at Racing Club whilst Estudiantes were drawing 0-0 at home in La Plata against Arsenal de Sarandi.

In the second half things got better for Velez as Maximiliano Moralez doubled their lead in the 57th minute leaving most of the fans in the stadium listening to their radios for the latest news coming from La Plata. For Velez fans, however, the title dream would be over in the final twenty minutes of the season as Rodrigo Lopez bagged a brace for Estudiantes which would guarantee them their fifth Argentine championship, their first for four years. The La Plata giants won with 45 points from 19 games, two more than Velez who will rue the two points dropped in the goalless draw against, ironically, Estudiantes’ local rivals Gimnasia Y Esgrima de La Plata on Matchday 14 as the difference between success and failure.

In Ecuador the country’s most successful club Emelec were hoping to defeat the continental powerhouses of LDU Quito in the championship 1st stage final which was played over two legs this week. In the first leg last Sunday LDU won their home tie 2-0 with a double strike from Miller Bolanaos with his second goal in the 92nd minute of the match ultimately proving crucial. Yesterday Emelec won the return fixture with a David Quiroz goal on the hour mark but the 1-0 win proved not enough with LDU prevailing 2-1 on aggregate.