Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

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.

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FIFA: Messi tops the FIFA awards yet again in 2011

Posted in Uncategorized by peterbein on January 10, 2012
Homare Sawa and Lionel Messi

Homare Sawa and Lionel Messi won the Women's and Men's Player of the Year awards last night

FIFA’s annual awards ceremony took place in Zurich last night and there weren’t too many surprises as to who would come top of the main awards of the evening.

It was obvious to all of the world and his dog that Lionel Messi would come to win the Player of the Year award in 2011 following yet another truly successful twelve months with his club FC Barcelona. The Ballon D’or award will adorn his mantelpiece for the third year in a row but it could easily have gone to any of his club colleagues Xavi or Andres Iniesta due to their consistency, as well as Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo who was conspicuous by his absence at last night’s ceremony. However Messi topped the poll once more due to his amazing ability to stand out in one of football’s greatest ever club sides. His recent performances in this season’s El Clasico against Real Madrid and FIFA Club World Cup final against Santos FC have put to bed the recent question as to who is the best player in the world with Messi getting the better of Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar respectively in those games.

A repeat of the historic sextuple triumph of 2009 was almost replicated but for the head of Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2010-11 Cope del Rey final which deprived Barcelona of one trophy last year. Nonetheless the 2010-11 league title was won with an astonishing total of 96 points, four ahead of Madrid, and the UEFA Champions League win was the club’s third in five years. Wins in both the Spanish and European Super Cups at the start of the 2011-12 season took Barcelona’s haul of trophies to four for the calendar year before December’s triumph in the FIFA Club World Cup, which culminated in a 4-0 pasting for South American champions Santos FC in the final, meant that five out of six had been achieved and cemented the club’s recent dominance in world football. On a similar theme the Manager of the Year award went to Pep Guardiola who, three years after taking the job at the Camp Nou, shows that he is still as hungry for success as ever and has raised the bar of how football should and can be played. Upon receiving the award Guardiola said that he would like to share the award with his two challengers for the prize, namely Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson.

Sir Alex Ferguson would admit himself that what is happening at FC Barcelona at the moment means that they should grasp the limelight but, outside of Catalonia, Ferguson is still going strong at Old Trafford and showing no signs of slowing down. His continuing exploits at the top of the English and European game saw him recognized by FIFA last night with a special Lifetime Achievement Award. Last year saw Sir Alex win his twelfth Premier League title with Manchester United, which was the club’s 19th English league title overall and saw them overtake Liverpool FC’s total of 18 which had been an English record for over three decades. Although the 2010-11 season wasn’t the most dominant title win during his reign, Sir Alex has at least set the ball rolling for another potential era of sustained success and his charges currently lie second in the English Premier League table three points behind arch rivals Manchester City who they knocked out of the FA Cup last weekend. In a year in which Ferguson was recognized by all and sundry in the football world for the remarkable contribution he has made to football during his 25 years at Old Trafford his peers at the club invoked the most perfect of tributes by renaming the North Stand in his honour and has now been similarly held in high esteem by world football’s governing body.

Sir Alex’s club Manchester United saw two of their players reach the FIFPro World XI in the shape of Nemanja Vidic and Wayne Rooney. The latter was denied the Ferenc Puskas prize for the goal of the year with the prize going to Santos FC and Brazil wunderkind Neymar (see goal below). Neymar didn’t get into the World XI this time but surely his time will come whilst this year nine out of the eleven players came from either FC Barcelona or Real Madrid. Finally the FIFA Fair Play award went to the country of Japan which having started off the year in tragic circumstances following two natural disasters in the form of an earthquake and subsequent flooding, the country paraded itself on the world stage in the eyes of football fans everywhere with the men’s team winning the 2011 AFC Asian Cup whilst the women’s team became 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup champions from which Homare Sawa stood out to win the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year award.

FIFPro WORLD XI 2011

Iker Casillas (Real Madrid) – Daniel Alves, Gerard Pique (both FC Barcelona), Nemaja Vidic (Manchester United), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid) – Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Lionel Messi (all FC Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid) – Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

NEYMAR’S GOAL OF THE YEAR 2011

Spain: Barcelona thrash Hospitalet in Copa (video)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on December 23, 2011

FC Barcelona resumed domestic action last night following their triumph in the FIFA Club World Cup and helped themselves to a 9-0 rout over third tier side L’Hospitalet in the Round of 32 of the Copa Del Rey (Spanish Cup).

Barcelona, who already led 1-0 from the first leg of this tie, played a relatively strong side against their Catalonian neighbours and had Pedro to thank for getting the ball rolling after just 11 minutes when converting a penalty to open the scoring. Further goals from Andres Iniesta, Thiago Alcantara, Xavi and Cristian Tello helped propel the Blaugrana to a comfortable 5-0 lead at the half time break. In the second half further strikes from Alcantara and Tello, as well as a brace from Isaac Cuenca, secured Barça an all too easy victory.

Barcelona will face Osasuna in the Round of 16 in the competition and, if they emerge victorious in that round, could face a repeat of last season’s final with a tie against Real Madrid CF in this season’s quarter-finals.

FIFA: Barça outclass Santos to win world title; Al Sadd come third

Posted in Asian Football, European Football, South America Football by peterbein on December 18, 2011

FIFA Club World CupIt may not have been the most difficult challenge that FC Barcelona would have to face in their quest to become FIFA Club World Cup winners. That, however, did not dampen the celebrations as the Spanish and European champions strolled their way past a poor Santos FC team courtesy of a 4-0 victory.

The game was over bar the shouting after the first 45 minutes of the game were played following strikes from Lionel Messi and Xavi, both of whom would go on to win the Golden and Silver balls as the best two players of the tournament after the game, and Cesc Fabregas who helped himself to their third goal on the stroke of half time.

Santos showed slightly more ambition in the second half after being overwhelmed in the first but chances from Neymar and Borges went begging. With eight minutes of the game remaining Barça sealed the deal once and for all after Dani Alves set up Messi for his second goal of the game to complete the rout. South American champions Santos FC were never in the game from the first kick and precocious teenager Neymar found out, just like Cristiano Ronaldo had done a week earlier, that Messi is still the main man on the big occasion.

FC Barcelona’s victory was their second triumph in this competition following their maiden win over Estudiantes de La Plata in 2009. Earlier in the day Asian Champions League winners Al Sadd had claimed third place in the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup having got the better of this year’s J-League champions Kashiwa Reysol by virtue of a 5-3 win in a penalty shoot-out following a goalless ninety minutes.

FIFA: Club World Cup Team Guide – FC Barcelona

Posted in European Football by peterbein on December 11, 2011

FC Barcelona club badgeFC Barcelona will compete in this year’s FIFA Club World Cup following a sensational UEFA Champions League triumph in 2011. The Catalans must first face AFC Asian Champions League winners Al Sadd before they can start dreaming of the possibility of winning the world crown for the second time in three years.

FC Barcelona qualified for this tournament having won their fourth European title in the glorious setting of Wembley Stadium in May this year. On their way to the final Barça topped their group over Danish champions FC København, Russian Premier League side Rubin Kazan and Greek Super League champions Panathinaikos before disposing of Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk and arch rivals Real Madrid CF in the knockout stages leading up to a second final in three years against Manchester United. Having seen off United in Rome in 2009, Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola would again get one over his United counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson watching the Blaugrana turn on the style. A 3-1 victory saw Pedro, Lionel Messi and David Villa get on the score sheet, Wayne Rooney bagging a consolation for United, and a fourth European triumph saw Eric Abidal lift the famous cup aloft and seal a place in the FIFA Club World Cup.

Since Barcelona’s Champions League triumph the club has maintained its push for honours across the board. The club started off the current campaign the way it ended the last one by winning silverware. A controversial Spanish Super Cup victory over Real Madrid was followed up with a 2-0 win against Iberian neighbours and UEFA Europa League winners FC Porto in the European Super Cup. In Europe Barcelona topped their 2011-12 UEFA Champions League group over Italian giants AC Milan, Czech champions Viktoria Plzen and perennial Belarussian title holders BATE Borisov. Barça are, however, facing a tougher challenge domestically this time from Real Madrid with the Catalans currently on the same number of league points as their rivals from the Spanish capital having played a game more.

Barcelona celebrated a 3-1 win over Real Madrid in last night’s El Clásico meaning that they were able to fly out to Japan straight after the match in order to prepare for world glory in a competition in which they’ve suffered mixed emotions. Barcelona have never beaten Brazilian opposition in either the former Intercontinental Cup (lost to São Paulo in 1992) or the FIFA Club World Cup (lost to Internacional in 2006) whereas the Argentinians of Estudiantes de La Plata were put to the sword in 2009 as the final part of the Catalans’ sextuple triumph. Should they meet Santos FC in this year’s final then history will be against Barcelona but with the current team – Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi et al – rated as the greatest ever then a second world title could be winging its way back to the Camp Nou very soon.

FC BARCELONA v MANCHESTER UNITED – CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL GOALS

FIFA: Kashiwa and Al Sadd through to semis; Barça win El Clásico

FIFA Club World Cup logoKashiwa Reysol and Al Sadd have booked their semi-final places in the FIFA Club World Cup following hard fought victories over Monterrey CF and Esperance Tunis respectively.

Kashiwa, representing the host nation Japan as the 2011 J-League champions, needed a penalty shoot-out to get past North and Central American champions Monterrey after the two teams had played out a 1-1 draw. Leandro Domingues gave Kashiwa the lead in the 53rd minute only to see Humberto Suazo restore parity just five minutes later and the rest of the game proved frustrating for both sides as neither team could kill off their opponents. In the shoot-out Ryohei Hayashi converted the crucial final kick as Kashiwa went through 4-3 and secured themselves a meeting with South American champions Santos FC in the final four.

Controversy reigned in the other semi-final between African champions Esperance Tunis and Asian Champions League holders Al Sadd. Khalfan Ibrahim and Abdullah Koni had given Al Sadd a two goal lead by the 50th minute but Oussama Darragi pulled one back on the hour mark. However the Tunisians had two goals controversially ruled out for offside, decisions which so enraged one supporter who ran on to the pitch. Al Sadd, who are based in Qatar, now look ahead to a semi-final clash with European champions FC Barcelona who will be in fine mood following a 3-1 win against Real Madrid in last night’s El Clásico.

Real Madrid took the lead after just 22 seconds as Karim Benzema took advantage of some uncharacteristic woeful defending by Barcelona only for the visitors to equalize on the half hour mark through Alexis Sanchez. Further goals in the second half from Xavi and Cesc Fabregas helped secure the three points for Barcelona who can go into the FIFA Club World Cup knowing that their arch rivals are not going to be so far ahead when they come back from Japan. Had Real Madrid won last night they would’ve been six points clear with a game in hand. Following last night’s result, however, Barcelona are now on the same points but Madrid, nonetheless, still have the advantage of an extra game to play.

Spain: Barcelona thrash Vallecano before World challenge

Posted in European Football by peterbein on November 30, 2011

Alexis SanchezFC Barcelona won their final La Liga match on Tuesday night before flying out to Japan for the FIFA Club World Cup.

Goals from Alexis Sanchez (2), David Villa and Lionel Messi gave the Spanish and European champions a comfortable 4-0 victory at home to Rayo Vallecano. The win meant that Barcelona reduced the gap between themselves and league leaders Real Madrid to three points but the capital side do have the advantage of a game in hand.

FC Barcelona will now fly out to Japan in order to prepare for their FIFA Club World Cup semi-final match on December 15th, where they will meet the winners of the quarter-final tie between African champions Espérance Tunis and Asian champions Al Sadd in Yokohama.

Europe: Real and Benfica seal top spot amid derby triumphs (+video)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on November 27, 2011
Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice from the penalty spot against Atletico

Real Madrid (Played 13, Points 34) took the initiative in the Spanish league last night as a 4-1 derby success at home to local rivals Atlético de Madrid was sweetened by a defeat to champions FC Barcelona whose 1-0 defeat to Getafe saw them go six points behind los Blancos at the top of the table. Next door in Portugal, SL Benfica (Played 11, Points 27) have provided themselves with a platform to challenge for the title this season by defeating local rivals Sporting by a narrow 1-0 scoreline.

In the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu last night local honours were once again afforded to Real Madrid who haven’t lost a league match against Atlético since 1999. The visitors did shock the home support by taking the lead through Adrián after quarter of an hour but that would be as good as it got for Los Rojiblancos who would see their goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois shown the red card for bringing down Karim Benzema in the box allowing Cristiano Ronaldo to equalize from the penalty spot in the 24th minute. The game ended 1-1 at the break but, not surprisingly, Real took advantage of the extra man to stamp their authority on the game in the second half. Goals from Ángel di María, Gonzalo Higuaín and another penalty for Ronaldo, which brought a red card heading in Diego Godín’s direction, capped off a good night for the home side whose 4-1 victory cemented top spot for at least a couple of hours until the result in the neighbouring suburbs of Getafe was known. A good night soon became a great one with the news later on that FC Barcelona had gone down to a 1-0 defeat to FC Getafe and the six point advantage had been preserved. Juan Valera’s goal midway through the second half proved the killer blow for Barcelona who now must look over their shoulder at the oncoming Valencia CF whose 2-1 defeat away to Rayo Vallecano brought los Che to within one point of the champions.

In neighbouring Portugal the Lisbon derby was played out with all the usual tension one would expect from a Benfica v Sporting game. The match was settled by Javi García with a goal just three minutes before half-time but it was far from plain sailing for the Eagles who saw Oscar Cardozo sent off for a second bookable offence in the 63rd minute. The win was Benfica’s sixth on the trot against their local rivals in all competitions and allowed them the opportunity to enjoy sole possession of top spot in the Super Liga for at least 24 hours until defending champions FC Porto play at home to Sporting Braga this evening. Benfica have 27 points from eleven games but FC Porto will draw level should they claim all three points tonight.

UEFA: Barcelona see off Porto to win Super Cup (+video)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on August 27, 2011

FC Barcelona won the UEFA Super Cup in Monaco last night beating FC Porto by two goals to nil. It is the second trophy already this season for the Catalans who had also won their domestic super cup against Real Madrid less than a fortnight ago.

The spirited Portuguese started the game sharper and had some good early chances against the favourites. However a passback from Fredy Guarín provided Messi with a one-on-one opportunity against Porto keeper Helton and the Argentina superstar, who was awarded UEFA’S Best Player in Europe award at the Champions League group stage draw on Thursday, rounded him with relative ease and squeezed the ball home from an acute angle with six minutes of the first half remaining. New signing Cesc Fabregas sealed the deal in the second half after coming on as a substitute; Lionel Messi looped the ball over to Fabregas who controlled the ball with his chest before firing home with his right foot from close range to secure a 2-0 win and yet another trophy for the Blaugrana.

The win was FC Barcelona’s fourth title in this competition, just one behind record winners AC Milan, and was the sixth time that a Spanish club had won the trophy in the last decade.

UEFA: Barça and Porto get ready for Super Cup battle

Posted in European Football by peterbein on August 24, 2011
Atletico Madrid

Who will follow Atlético Madrid as Super Cup winners?

The UEFA Super Cup will be held on Friday night with 2010-11 UEFA Champions League winners FC Barcelona ready to take on the 2010-11 UEFA Europa League holders FC Porto in a massive Iberian derby. These two clubs have been the dominant forces in their respective countries in recent years and both teams are hoping to add yet another trophy to their already bulging trophy cabinets this weekend.

With the most recent Super Cup winners Atlético Madrid ready to relinquish the trophy, which they won in glorious fashion against Internazionale last year, their compatriots FC Barcelona are the favourites to maintain a proud Spanish record in this competition. Since the Super Cup became a one-off fixture in 1998, Spanish clubs have participated in all but five of the thirteen finals and have won five times in the last nine years. FC Porto, however, should not be underestimated as they have started their domestic season in fine form whilst their opponents have yet to kick a ball in La Liga which still remains postponed due to the ongoing dispute between the Association of Spanish Footballers and the Spanish Football League over unpaid player salaries.

FC Barcelona 2010-11 Champions League winners

FC Barcelona won the UEFA Champions League in 2010-11

FC Barcelona won their fourth UEFA Champions League final last season having topped Group D in the league stage – finishing ahead of FC København, Rubin Kazan and Panathinaikos – going on to eliminate Arsenal FC, Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Madrid in the knockout rounds before disposing of Manchester United with a sublime performance in the final at Wembley Stadium which they won 3-1.  This allowed Pep Guardiola’s men to qualify for their eighth Super Cup final in the process. The Blaugrana will, therefore, overtake AC Milan with the most appearances in this competition since its inception in 1972 although the Italians will still be record title holders with five wins even if Barcelona go on to win this weekend.

FC Porto qualified for this Friday’s showpiece match by claiming their second UEFA Europa League (formerly UEFA Cup) title in 2010-11. FC Porto are a team more accustomed to playing regularly in the UEFA Champions League but had to be content with the second-tier tournament following a third place finish in the 2009-10 Portuguese League campaign. The Dragões topped Group L in the league stage – ahead of Beşiktaş, Rapid Wien and CSKA Sofia – before overcoming Sevilla FC, both Moscow clubs CSKA and Spartak and Villarreal CF en route to defeating compatriots Braga who dropped down into the Europa League having finished third in their Champions League group. Radamel Falcao’s goal on the stroke of half-time separated the two finalists in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium and gave Porto coach André Villas-Boas a fantastic send-off as this victory sealed the treble following FC Porto’s domestic league and cup success.

FC Porto 2010-11 UEFA Europa League winners

FC Porto won the UEFA Europa League in 2010-11

FC Barcelona were previously victorious in this competition in the two-legged era with wins over German clubs Werder Bremen and Borussia Dortmund in 1992 and 1997 respectively whilst their most recent victory came in the famous 2009 success against ambitious Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk, the 1-0 win in extra-time helping Barcelona on their way to a famous Sextuple triumph later that year. However they have also lost on four occasions so it is fair to say that the Catalans have had mixed fortunes in this competition. FC Porto will take part in their fourth UEFA Super Cup final and have also experienced the good and the bad in this competition. Following their triumphant appearance in 1987, in which they defeated Ajax Amsterdam 2-0 on aggregate, they lost back-to-back finals in 2003 and 2004 in which they suffered one goal deficits to AC Milan (1-0) and Valencia CF (2-1) respectively. If FC Porto are to break their duck in Monaco’s Stade Louis II then this will arguably be their last real chance to do so as next season’s UEFA Super Cup final will be the last time the fixture will be played there before being moved all around Europe starting with Prague in 2013.

One area where FC Porto will have an advantage over FC Barcelona before Friday’s contest will be in the number of competitive fixtures they have played so far. The Portuguese champions were successful in their domestic super cup (defeating Vitória Guimarães) and have chalked up two wins out of two in the Super Liga whilst Spanish and European champions FC Barcelona have played just two domestic super cup matches against Real Madrid so far with last weekend’s opening La Liga fixture against Malaga CF called off, along with all of the other Matchday 1 league fixtures.