Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Cissé fires “Pana” five points clear in Greece

Posted in European Football by peterbein on January 7, 2010
Djibril Cisse

Djibril Cissé scored twice in Panathinaikos' 4-1 win over Ergotelis FC

The Greek Super League returned to action this week and it proved to be a welcome return for Panathinaikos who were the big winners after all the Matchday 16 games had been completed.

Already two points ahead in the championship table Panathinaikos (41 points from 16 games) came from behind to dispose of Ergotelis FC 4-1. After Ergotelis had taken a shock lead through Michail Fragulaikis, former Liverpool FC striker Djibril Cissé scored a brace, one goal in each half, and was joined on the scoresheet by Giorgos Karagounis and another ex-Liverpool player Sebastián Leto, who scored two minutes into stoppage time to complete the rout. “Pana” increased their lead in the table over champions Olympiakos to five points just hours before their main title challengers were due to play a big city derby against AEK Athens.

Olympiakos (36 points), who have won all but one of the last thirteen Greek championships (‘Pana’ breaking up the spell winning the 2004 title), played at home against the team whom they defeated to win the Greek Cup final last season in one of the greatest matches of all time (4-4 after extra-time followed by a penalty shoot out which Olympiakos won 15-14). When the home side took the lead through a controversial Avraam Papadopolous goal on 28 minutes things seemed to be going the way of Zico’s men. However the lead only lasted five minutes after Nacho Scocco equalised with a well taken strike. When the same player scored his second to give AEK the lead on 40 minutes the home fans were stunned. It is not very often that Olympiakos fans see their team lose at home but after another frustrating 45 minutes in the second half that was exactly what they were to experience for the first time this season. For AEK it could prove to be a turning point in a hitherto miserable season. The win took them up to fifth place and now they can hope to challenge for a place in Europe next season.

In the other games PAOK Thessaloniki remain third after a 1-0 home win over Panionios. Vladimir Ivic’s strike took PAOK to thirty-one points, five behind second place Olympiakos. Their arch-rivals Aris beat Atromitos 3-0 to remain fourth in the table, six points behind PAOK and one ahead of AEK. At the bottom of the league it’s looking more and more desperate for Panthrakikos (2 points from 16 games) who remain without a win after going down to a 3-1 defeat away at Iraklis. Second bottom Giannina gained a point away at Xanthi to increase the deficit between themselves and Panthrakikos to thirteen, therefore highlighting the mountain which the latter have to climb if they are to avoid relegation.

European Leagues: Winter Break Round-up

Posted in European Football by peterbein on December 22, 2009
Samuel Eto'o

Samuel Eto'o is all smiles as his club Internazionale lead Italy's Serie A

With the exception of England, Scotland and France, most of the league championships in Europe have taken a well earned break for Christmas time. “Stoppage Time” reviews the season so far in Europe’s top leagues:

SPAIN

This looks like it will be a two horse race between arch-rivals FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. The Spanish, European and World champions FC Barcelona (39 points from 15 games) hold a slim two point advantage over ‘El Real’ whose performances haven’t always been great but whose capability of getting results has improved. Sevilla looked for a while like a potential ‘stalking horse’ candidate for the title, keeping close to the top but they have slipped off the pace in recent weeks. At the bottom of the table newly promoted sides such as Xerez (7 points from 15 games) and Real Zaragoza have found the going tough. A traditional giant of the Spanish game, Atlético Madrid find themselves just one point from the cellar after a string of poor displays.

ITALY

FC Internazionale of Milan (39 points from 17 games), including striker Samuel Eto’o (pictured) find themselves in charge of Serie A yet again. Going for a fifth consecutive championship, the Nerazzurri’s only challengers to date appear to be local enemies AC Milan, who are eight points behind with a game in hand. The Rossoneri have come back strongly after a really poor start under the stewardship of Leonardo. Juventus appeared to be going well under new coach Ciro Ferrara but have lost their last three games and remain a point further behind Milan having played a game more. At the bottom of the league six points separate Udinese in 14th place from AC Siena in last place (12 points after 17 games), signalling that a tight relegation battle could be just around the corner.

GERMANY

Bayer 04 Leverkusen (35 points from 17 games) remain unbeaten to be crowned the unofficial “Herbstmeister” (autumn champions) in the Bundesliga. However the ‘Werkself’ (Work’s Eleven) have drawn a lot a games meaning that their lead is a narrow one point margin from nearest challengers Schalke 04, who have done well considering their financial troubles. Despite Bayern Munich’s less than impressive start to the season the Bavarian giants are a further point behind Schalke. Louis Van Gaal has withstood the criticism and has guided Bayern to third place at the halfway stage with 33 points. The surprise of the season so far is 1. FSV Mainz 05, who were promoted from the second division last season, who have a respectable eighth place finish after 17 games. Hertha Berlin is the surprise team at the bottom of the table (6 points/17 games), all the more surprising considering they won on the opening day against Hannover 96. Other big clubs close to the bottom are 1. FC Nürnberg, who sacked their coach Michael Oenning on Monday, and VfB Stuttgart, who replaced Markus Babbel with former Tottenham Hotspur coach Christian Gross in early December.

PORTUGAL

The Portuguese Superliga normally has three contenders for the title but one of this year’s contenders is an unfamiliar one: Sporting Braga. They lead the table jointly with SL Benfica (33 points from 14 games) with perennial champions FC Porto four points behind. Many hope that Braga can keep up with the big two especially since the tradional third power of Portuguese football, Sporting, are struggling domestically (21 points/14 games) but performing well in Europe. Also many remember last season’s surprise package Leixões, who led the table early on in 2008-09, falling away late in the season. Could Braga really become only the sixth club (after Benfica, Porto, Sporting, Belenenses and Boavista) to win the Portuguese championship? At the bottome Leixões’ glory days from last season are well and truly behind them as they now are fighting against relegation lying just one point above the bottom two clubs Olhanense and Belenenses (10 points/14 games).

HOLLAND

Steve McClaren has done an impressive job at FC Twente (47 points/17 games) thus far and he’s already hoping to go one better than last season. The club from Enschede were runners-up in both league and cup in 2008-09 but McClaren’s men currently lead the Eredivisie by two points from PSV Eindhoven. PSV’s coach Fred Rutten has given new purpose to the Philips owned club after they lost direction last season under Huub Stevens which led to them weakly giving up their run of four consecutive titles. Ajax, coached by Martin Jol, have suffered a few defeats and are nine points off the pace. Their arch-rivals Feyenoord Rotterdam have also been rejuvenated under new coach Mario Been and a further point behind having played a game more. At the bottom RKC Waalwijk (12 points/18 games) will hope to avoid the automatic relegation spot at the end of the season as they are not far off the teams above NEC Nijmegen, ADO Den Haag and Willem II Tilburg.

GREECE

It’s the same old story in Greece as champions Olympiakos Piraeus are involved in a two-way tussle with league leaders Panathinaikos (38 points/15 games) for the championship. As usual PAOK Thessaloniki threaten to make a fight of it but end up dropping too many points but they should easily get a place in Europe. Athen’s third club AEK have struggled for form and consistency in both Greek and European competition thus far and lie in eighth place on 21 points. At the bottom of the table it’s been a dreadful time for promoted Panthrakikos who remain without a win after fifteen games. They have only two points at this stage and are dead certs for the drop. Above them the likes of Giannina, Levadiakos (14 points), Larissa and Iraklis (15 points) will hope to avoid joining them in the second division next season.

TURKEY

The Turkish Superlig could be one of the most exciting for years. Fenerbahçe (37 points/17 games) lead at the halfway stage by just one point from eternal rivals Galatasaray. Then there are two unexpected title chasers in Bursaspor and Kayserispor (35 and 34 points respectively) as well as last season’s champions Beşiktaş (32 points). “Fener” will miss on the services of Roberto Carlos after the winter break as he heads back to Brazil to finish his career at Corinithians. Last season’s surprise package Sivasspor struggled in the early weeks of the season but will hope that they can take recent good form into the second half of the season. They are ten points ahead of second bottom Denizlispor (7 points/17 games) and seventeen ahead of Ankaraspor who are pointless (numerically speaking, of course) at the halfway stage and look certain for the drop.