Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Europe: Milan and United make statement against local foes

Posted in European Football by peterbein on August 8, 2011
Milan Super Cup 2011

AC Milan celebrate their sixth Super Cup title

The weekend played host to two of the world’s most intense local derbies as the teams involved fought for the honours in their respective national Super Cup tournaments. Whereas the Italian Super Cup saw two clubs who are virtually equal in all respects face up to each other in the shape of league champions AC Milan and cup winners Internazionale, the same couldn’t be said in its English equivalent which saw record champions Manchester United meet up once again with local foes Manchester City with the latter finally demanding more respect from their more illustrious neighbours having won the FA Cup last season.

The National Stadium in the Chinese capital of Beijing, more commonly known as the Bird’s Nest stadium due to its design, played host to the Italian Super Cup for the second time in three years with Milanese neighbours AC Milan and Internazionale hoping to become the first club to win Italian football’s curtain raising fixture for the sixth time. AC Milan won their 18th Scudetto last season, thus equalling Inter’s number of title triumphs, but hadn’t won the Super Cup since 2004 whereas Internazionale, whose run of five straight Scudetti came to an end last season, were playing in their seventh consecutive Super Cup fixture having won either the domestic league or cup (if not both) every season since 2005.

In a contest which threatened to boil over at times, the Nerazzurri of Inter took the lead after 22 minutes thanks to a Wesley Sneijder free-kick in what could possibly be the Dutchman’s last appearance in an Inter shirt before a speculated move to one of the Manchester clubs becomes a reality. There would, however, be no fairy tale win with which Sneijder could seal his time at the San Siro as the Rossoneri came fighting back in the second half when both Zlatan Ibrahimović and Kevin-Prince Boateng got their names on the score sheet to give coach Massimiliano Allegri his second trophy at AC Milan since he took charge at the beginning of last season. For new Inter coach Gian Piero Gasperini, who joined the blue half of Milan from Genoa this season, it proved to be a disappointing start to life at the helm. He will now have some idea as to what will be required to keep his team at the top of the tree and he will need to put it into practice as soon as the league campaign kicks off in two weeks’ time if he is to knock AC Milan off their perch. The champions will begin their campaign away at Cagliari whilst Inter have a home tie against Lecce.

Manchester United Community Shield

United won the shield for the 19th time

Twenty four hours after the “Derby della Madonnina” had finished its English counterpart took place at Wembley Stadium. League champions Manchester United, who sealed a record breaking 19th championship last season, were hoping to claim the FA Community Shield for the fourth time in five seasons but faced opposition from “noisy neighbours” Manchester City who were appearing in this fixture for the first time in 38 years having finally won a trophy of their own last season in the form of the FA Cup. The two Manchester clubs had previously met in this fixture once before in 1956 when a Dennis Viollet goal sealed the win for United, a result which the Blues were hoping to reverse this time around. They gave themselves a great chance of doing just that when goals from Joleon Lescott and Edin Džeko late in the first half gave City a 2-0 half-time lead. However it was perhaps predictable that the champions would come back to win the game as only they seem capable of doing. Chris Smalling pulled one back seven minutes into the second half whilst Nani equalized six minutes later. United piled the pressure upon City and it seemed that the game would go into extra-time before Vincent Kompany’s defensive error allowed Nani to go through at goal and go around keeper Joe Hart to seal the 3-2 victory for the Red Devils with virtually the last kick of the game. Yet an ominous sign to the rest of the Premier League that no matter what changes Sir Alex Ferguson makes to his side that he always comes out smiling in the end.

Manchester United duly won a record extending 19th FA Community Shield and now face up to an away match at West Bromwich Albion in their defence of the Premier League title. Manchester City will want to bounce back from this defeat quickly with a home tie against newly=promoted Swansea City next Monday evening.

Poll: Are FC Barcelona really the greatest?

Posted in European Football by peterbein on May 29, 2011

Following their fourth UEFA Champions League triumph on Saturday virtually every superlative has been used to describe Pep Guardiola’s current crop of FC Barcelona stars. The Catalans’ 3-1 triumph over Manchester United meant that Guardiola, in only his third full season in charge at the Camp Nou, has won ten major trophies including the amazing Sextuple triumph from the 2008-09 season. Are they, in your opinion, the best side ever? Or is there really a team that came before who deserve the accolade of the best ever? Decide from the following choices:

Real Madrid 7-3 Eintracht Frankfurt

Alfredo Di Stefano scores for Real Madrid in the 1959-60 European Cup final

REAL MADRID 1956-60

The team who took to the concept of the European Cup more than any other, the great Real Madrid side from the mid 50’s were European champions in the first five years of the competition. As well as winning two La Liga titles at home los Blancos had one of the greatest forward lines in the history of football including the likes of Alfredo Di Stéfano and Ferenc Puskás who scored all seven goals between them in the club’s most famous win of the famous five, the 1959-60 European Cup final against Eintracht Frankfurt which they won 7-3 in front of a record 127,000 crowd at Hampden Park, Glasgow. The club also became the first unofficial world champions in 1960 after defeating South American champions Peñarol in the inaugural Intercontinental Cup match.

Internazionale 1964-65

Internazionale were Italian, European and World champions in 1965

INTERNAZIONALE 1964-65

The Italians were never also easy on the eye with their defensive brand of football, widely known as Catenaccio, winning few friends amongst their opponents. However the team known affectionately amongst all Nerazzurri supporters as La Grande Inter won back-to-back European Cups in 1964 and 1965 defeating Real Madrid and Benfica respectively. As well as the 1964-65 Scudetto, Inter also became the first European team to win successive Intercontinental Cups beating Argentinians Independiente on both occasions.

Ajax Amsterdam 1972

Ajax Amsterdam with the 1972 European Cup

AJAX AMSTERDAM 1971-73

Dutch football came to prominence in the early 1970’s with Feyenoord Rotterdam winning the European Cup in 1970 before their arch-rivals Ajax Amsterdam took their brand of Total Football to the international stage and won three successive European Cups. Players such as Johan Cruijff, Johnny Rep and Arie Haan took centre stage with final victories over Panathinaikos (1971), Internazionale (1972) and Juventus FC (1973), the latter as part of an historic treble, helping write the club’s name into the history books. Ajax also won the 1972 Intercontinental Cup against Independiente and were the inaugural UEFA Super Cup winners defeating Cup Winners’ Cup holders AC Milan in 1973.

FC Bayern 1975 European Cup

FC Bayern with the second of their European Cups in 1975

FC BAYERN MÜNCHEN 1974-76

In a manner similar to the Ajax team that preceded them, FC Bayern won the European Cup three times in a row from 1974-76 with a team full of international greats such as Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller and Uli Hoeneß. Their maiden European Cup win against Atlético de Madrid was achieved in a replay, the first and only such occasion this occurred, before going on to beat Leeds United and Saint-Étienne in the following two years. The Bavarians also won the 1973-74 Bundesliga title and their first world title with a 1976 Intercontinental Cup win over Brazilians Cruzeiro.

Liverpool FC 1977

Liverpool FC won their first European Cup in 1977

LIVERPOOL FC 1977-81

Liverpool, under the astute guidance of Bob Paisley, won the European Cup three times in the space of five years, thus assuring the reluctant successor to Bill Shankly his place in football history as the first, and so far only coach, to have won the trophy on so many occasions. Liverpool were dominant at home during this time with three league championship wins in 1977, 1979 and 1980 complemented by European triumphs over Borussia Mönchengladbach (1977), Club Brugge (1978) and Real Madrid (1981) which were won with a dynamic team including the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness and Phil Neal.

AC Milan

AC Milan were European champions in 1989-90

AC MILAN 1988-90

Just three years after the acquisition of the club by controversial figure Silvio Berlusconi, AC Milan started to make a mark on the European scene once again with back-to-back European Cup wins over Steaua Bucharest (1989) and Benfica (1990). Having won the 1988 Scudetto the Rossoneri, led by coach Arrigo Sacchi along with his team of superstars including the Dutch trio of Marco Van Basten, Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit as well as Italian legends such as Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini, began a spell of domination which also led to successive triumphs in the UEFA Super Cup and Intercontinental Cup.

Manchester United 1999

Manchester United won the UEFA Champions League in 1999

MANCHESTER UNITED 1998-99

It is difficult to pinpoint any team over the last two decades which could stand out for Manchester United, such is the amount of success they’ve come to enjoy under the leadership of Sir Alex Ferguson. However the team which won the Treble in the 1998-99 season deserves special praise for their sheer will-to-win and ability to turn things around when all seemed lost. A team including most of the “Class of 92” such as Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Gary Neville went on to claim the English league and cup double before winning an unlikely UEFA Champions League triumph over FC Bayern München as the Red Devils, who were a goal down as the game went into the 90th minute, somehow scored two goals deep into stoppage time to claim the club’s second European Cup. Six months later Roy Keane scored the winner for United as they claimed the Intercontinental Cup with a 1-0 win over Palmeiras.

FC Barcelona 2011

FC Barcelona with the 2010-11 UEFA Champions League trophy

FC BARCELONA 2008-11

The Catalan giants have enjoyed considerable success at home and abroad over time but the club underachieved in the European Cup for many years. Having only ever been champions of Europe twice before Pep Guardiola took the coaching job in 2008, FC Barcelona have finally started to realize their potential under the current coach who has guided the club to two UEFA Champions League finals and a semi-final in three years as well as winning a host of other trophies including a grand slam of Spanish League, Spanish Cup, Champions League, Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup in 2009. With the likes of FIFA World Cup winners Xavi, Carles Puyol and Andres Iniesta as well as superstar Lionel Messi many predict that their dominance could continue for some time yet.

SO WHO GETS YOUR VOTE AS THE BEST?

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.

FIFA: Inter make no mistakes to reach final

Posted in Asian Football, European Football by peterbein on December 15, 2010
Rafael Benítez

Rafael Benítez saw his Inter team beat Seongnam 2-0 in Abu Dhabi

At least one team called Inter has made the final of the FIFA Club World Cup this year. European champions Internazionale FC did what their South American counterparts SC Internacional were unable to do and reach the showpiece game of the tournament which takes place on Sunday.

Spanish coach Rafael Benítez was under pressure going into tonight’s game against Asian champions Seongnam Ilhewa Chunma and perhaps the pressure to win the semi-final tie was greater following the shock result which occurred twenty four hours earlier after African team TP Mazembe shocked the Brazilians of Internacional by winning 2-0. Nevertheless Benítez had to put that out of his mind and focus on the job in hand especially as it’s been muted that he could lose his job if he fails to bring the trophy home.

Once Dejan Stanković put the Nerazzurri ahead after three minutes then it proved to be plain sailing for Inter as they controlled the game although it was unfortunate to see Wesley Sneijder go off just sixty seconds after the opening goal with an injury. Inter doubled their lead thanks to Javier Zanetti finishing off a wonderful move in the 32nd minute and from there they effectively kept the South Koreans at bay even though Seongnam upped their efforts in the hope of finding the net. Diego Milito made sure of the win in the 73rd minute with Inter’s third goal and the 2009-10 UEFA Champions League winners ultimately made light work of Seongnam who, despite the disappointment of losing, were happy to have played a part in this year’s tournament.

For coach Benítez Sunday’s final is a real chance to get his hands on the trophy he feels he should’ve won in 2005 when his Liverpool FC team narrowly lost out to São Paulo FC. Now that another potential Brazilian nemesis cannot get in his way this time the chances are that the Italian side can help him make up for five years ago and help keep his job secure until the end of the season at least.

FIFA: TP Mazembe and Seongnam to meet big boys in semi-finals

TP Mazembe

TP Mazembe (in black and white stripes) upset Pachuca and hope to do the same to Internacional on Tuesday

The quarter-final stages have passed in this year’s FIFA Club World Cup with African champions TP Mazembe and Asian champions Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma having made it through to the final four of the competition where they will meet South American champions Internacional and European champions Internazionale FC respectively.

TP Mazembe, champions of Africa for the past two seasons, faced up to the North & Central American champions Pachuca in their quarter-final match-up this weekend. Having defeated the Mexicans by a goal to nil, Mbenza Bedi scoring the only goal in the 21st minute, the Congolese side have already bettered their performance in last year’s tournament. Last time out Mazembe were knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Pohang Steelers so this year represents further progress on the international stage although the club were disappointed not to win their domestic championship this year, losing out to AS Vita-Club by virtue of goal difference. Nonetheless for coach Lamine N’Diaye Tuesday’s encounter with this year’s Copa Libertadores champions Internacional of Porto Alegre will be an historic match for the club and they will want to upset the odds by becoming the first club from outside Europe or South America to participate in the final of this tournament.

Saša Ognenovski

Saša Ognenovski scored in Seongnam's 4-1 win over Al-Wahda

The same goes for Asian club champions Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma who defeated United Arab Emirates representatives Al-Wahda by a much more comfortable scoreline of four goals to one. Mauricio Molina, Saša Ognenovski, Choi Sung-Kuk and Cho Dong-Geon scored the goals for the South Korean club who will compete in the semi-finals in their maiden appearance in this tournament. Their opponents on Wednesday are UEFA Champions League winners Internazionale FC who have struggled domestically in recent weeks having taken only five points from their last six Serie A games, their only victory coming against AC Parma a fortnight ago. Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma have completed their K-League season, losing in the 2nd round of  the Championship play-offs and have only played in one competitive fixture since November 24th. For Seongnam’s coach Shin Tae-Yong Wednesday’s game is a real chance to upset the odds and they will hope that the Italians will have another off-day. Inter coach Rafael Benítez, however, has unfinished business in this tournament having been a runner-up with Liverpool FC in 2005 and success in this year’s competition could be the difference between keeping or losing his job.

FIFA: Club World Cup 2010 Preview

FIFA Club World CupFor the second year running the FIFA Club World Cup will be held in the United Arab Emirates and it looks like being yet another thrilling competition. Last year saw 2008-09 UEFA Champions League holders FC Barcelona narrowly edge out 2009 Copa Libertadores winners Estudiantes de La Plata with the Catalans needing extra-time to defeat their illustrious Argentinian opponents. This year it is expected that this truly “international” tournament will prove to be so with 2009-10 UEFA Champions League winners FC Internazionale Milano face off against their South American counterparts Internacional of Porto Alegre. But there are five other teams who hope to have their shot of glory and Stoppage Time – International Football Blog looks at all seven contenders.

INTERNAZIONALE FC – UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009-10

The José Mourinho era may be over but Internazionale FC still go into this tournament as favourites despite some initial teething problems under new coach Rafael Benítez. Inter haven’t been crowned world champions since 1965 when they defeated Argentinian side Independiente in the old Intercontinental Cup and the Nerazzurri are desperate to add the new trophy to their list of achievements. Internazionale became European champions for the third time in their history having beaten German giants FC Bayern München 2-0 in Real Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, ironically where their former coach now works. Their current coach Benítez has been in the final of this tournament once before but saw his Liverpool FC side lose to a Brazilian side in the final. Will history repeat itself for the Spaniard? Inter first have to dispose any of Hekari United, Al-Wahda or Seongnam Ilhwa Chuma at the last four stage before they can think of the final.

INTERNACIONAL SC – COPA LIBERTADORES WINNERS 2010

The last South American team to win this trophy, Internacional are hoping to create history by becoming the first team to win the FIFA Club World Cup for a second time since the tournament was re-branded in 2004. Their first triumph in this competition came in 2006 in Tokyo where they defeated an FC Barcelona side who were expected to turn up and win the trophy but Inter had other ideas and Adriano Gabiru’s 82nd minute strike remains the club’s finest moment. Internacional would’ve qualified for this year’s tournament even had they have lost the Copa Libertadores final to Mexican side C.D. Guadalajara but a 5-3 aggregate victory for the Porto Alegre based side means that they travel to the UAE with the champion status they deserve. Internacional will face the winners of TP Mazembe and CF Pachuca in the semi-finals.

CF PACHUCA – CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009-10

The champions of North and Central America are competing in this tournament for the third time which is a competition best along with Egyptians Al Ahly. Pachuca’s two previous appearances saw them exit at the quarter-final stage in 2007 before losing to Gamba Osaka in a 3rd/4th place play-off twelve months later. The Mexicans saw off the challenge from compatriots Cruz Azul in the two-legged CONCACAF Champions League final winning courtesy of the away goals rule. Following a 2-1 away defeat, Pachuca were only seconds away from disappointment as the second leg reached its dying moments. However Édgar Benítez’s last gasp goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time gave Pachuca their fourth continental title and another shot of glory at the world stage. They will face off against African champions TP Mazembe in the quarter-finals.

TP MAZEMBE – CAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2010

The Congolese side are back-to-back African champions and undoubtedly the strongest team on the African continental at the moment. Tout Puissant Mazembe, to give their official name, have come back to prominence in the last couple of years and have put four decades without the top African trophy firmly behind them. Following what was an unexpected CAF Champions League win in 2009 TP Mazembe proved their critics wrong by thrashing Tunisian champions Espérance Tunis 6-1 on aggregate and will hope to better their performance in the FIFA Club World Cup in 2009 where they failed to beat Asian champions Pohang Steelers and OFC Champions Auckland City. Coach Lamine N’Diaye has to negotiate his team’s way through the quarter-finals against CONCACAF champions CF Pachuca before they can meet Internacional SC in the last four stage.

SEONGNAM ILHWA CHUNMA – AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2010

The South Koreans may not have won a domestic trophy in four years but that didn’t prevent them from winning Asian football’s elite club competition this year. Coming from the city of Seongnam, this team qualified for the 2010 AFC Champions League as losing finalists from the 2009 K-League final which they lost to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup having defeated Iranian side Zob Ahan Isfahan in the AFC Champions League winning 3-1 in the National Stadium, Tokyo. Their reward is to play against the winners of the qualifying match between Ocenaia champions Hekari United and UAE League champions Al-Wahda in the quarter-finals. Should they be successful in their opening match a semi-final against European champions Internazionale FC awaits.

PKR HEKARI UNITED – OFC O-LEAGUE CHAMPIONS 2009-10

The rise of Papua New Guinea’s biggest club has been something of a fairytale in world football’s smallest confederation. Having only picked up just one point from their opening two group matches in the 2009-10 O-League, Hekari United then won all of their four remaining games against group opponents Lautoka FC, Tafea FC and Marist FC before going on to meet strong favourites Waitakere United in the final. The New Zealanders, twice O-League champions in the previous three years, came unstuck in the first leg in Port Moresby losing 3-0 before going on to gain some pride with a 2-1 second leg win. The 4-2 aggregate victory for Hekari signalled the first time that a club from outside Australia or New Zealand had won Oceania’s top tournament and rewards them with a qualifying match against UAE champions Al-Wahda which they’ll hope to win in order to meet Asian champions Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma.

AL-WAHDA – UNITED ARAB EMIRATES PREMIER LEAGUE WINNERS 2009-10

In order to gain some local interest FIFA has decided to include the national champions of the host nation in the last four tournaments. The middle eastern state of the United Arab Emirates hosts this tournament for a second consecutive year and it is 2009-10 Premier League champions Al-Wahda who will hope to do their country proud. Al-Wahda qualified for the tournament after winning their national championship by seven points from nearest challengers Al Jazira and they will hope to better the performance of last year’s representatives Al-Ahli who lost 2-0 to OFC Champions League winners Auckland City in the play-off round. Should Al-Wahda defeat Hekari United in this year’s play-off they will face off against Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma in the quarter-finals.

UEFA: Super victory gives Atlético the Cup (+video)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on August 28, 2010
Atlético de Madrid

Atlético de Madrid are the 2010 UEFA Super Cup champions

UEFA Europa League winners Atlético de Madrid claimed their first UEFA Super Cup title last night defeating UEFA Champions League holders FC Internazionale 2-0 in the Stade Louis II, Monaco. Since the game became an annual one-off fixture in 1998 the winners of Europe’s secondary club competition (Cup Winners Cup until 1999; UEFA Cup & Europa League thereafter) have been victorious in this tournament eight times in thirteen matches with Atlético’s triumph meaning that they became the fifth Spanish club to get their hands on the trophy in the last decade following Real Madrid (2002), Valencia CF (2004), Sevilla FC (2006) and FC Barcelona (2009). The defeat for Inter meant that their quest to emulate FC Barcelona’s “sextuple” of 2009 is over although they still have the chance to become Club World Cup champions in Abu Dhabi in December.

Rafael Benítez had begun life as Internazionale coach just seven days earlier by lifting the Italian Super Cup and had ambitions to win the European equivalent for the second time after he was successful in this competition with Liverpool FC in 2005. However Atleti coach Quique Sánchez Flores had other ambitions and wanted to build on his team’s Europa League triumph by winning another piece of silverware to his club’s fanatical supporters who were in much the better voice during the UEFA Super Cup match even before the goals went in. The first half was played at a good pace without many real chances being created although Sergio “Kun” Agüero should’ve had a penalty kick after just six minutes after being brought down in the box by Walter Samuel.

In the second half Inter began to have more possession but didn’t show the necessary desire to do anything with the ball whilst Atlético’s hunger for the win was more obvious and it was they who carved out the chances needed to win the game. In the 62nd minute the deadlock ws broken after José Antonio Reyes’ hard, low shot beat Júlio César to give los Rojiblancos a deserved lead. Atleti doubled the advantage with just seven minutes of the game remaining after the wonderful Simão broke down the left and crossed the ball to gift Agüero a tap-in from a couple of yards out with Inter’s defence remaining static behind him. There was still time for some late drama after Goran Pandev had been brought down in the box in the 88th minute but Inter’s luck had eluded them after David de Gea brilliantly saved Diego Milito’s penalty kick to ensure that the Super Cup would be winging its way to the trophy room at the Estadio Vicente Calderón.

Both teams now get back to business domestically on Monday night with Atlético de Madrid at home to Sporting de Gijón whilst defending Serie A champions Inter face a potentially tough away trip to Bologna, a match which Benítez must win if he is to silence any early-season doubters.

WATCH UEFA SUPER CUP HIGHLIGHTS HERE:

SEE THE TROPHY PRESENTATION HERE:


European Super Cup: A History

Posted in European Football by peterbein on August 24, 2010
FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona are the current holders of the UEFA Super Cup

The 35th official UEFA Super Cup final takes place in its now-traditional home of the Stade Louis II in Monte Carlo on Friday and is guaranteed to crown a first-time winner this year with UEFA Champions League winners Internazionale FC and the inaugural UEFA Europa League champions Atlético Madrid both appearing in their maiden Super Cup match. But the tournament has suffered a fair amount of ups and downs before becoming the showpiece event that it is today. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog looks back at the history of this gala footballing event.

The European Super Cup came into being in 1972 and has certainly endured a troubled time in becoming accepted as a creditable football competition due to scheduling difficulties and, on some occasions, political differences. The inaugural event wasn’t even officially recognised by European football’s governing body UEFA on the grounds that the then European Cup Winners’ Cup holders Glasgow Rangers were banned from European club competition for one year after a pitch invasion which took place in their ECWC victory over Dinamo Moscow. Therefore the 1972 event was sponsored by the Dutch newpaper De Telegraaf one of whose writers, Anton Witkamp, came up with the eureka moment which brought this competition about with his idea intended to see if the great Ajax Amsterdam team really was the best in Europe. As it turned out Ajax were to prove both unofficially and officially that they were the crème de la crème of European football. Having beaten Glasgow Rangers 6-3 on aggregate in the 1972 edition they then hammered AC Milan 6-1 on aggregate in the first UEFA endorsed Super Cup meeting twelve months later. The Dutch giants have appeared in two further finals since those halcyon days of Cruijff, Neeskens, Krol et al and have had mixed fortunes losing to FC Porto in 1987 but beating Real Zaragoza in 1995.

But this tournament is not just about Ajax Amsterdam even if they’ve had a significant part in its development. Italian giants AC Milan are the record champions of the event with five titles (1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007) with their first two wins coming back-to-back, the only such example of this occurance in the competition’s history. Italian sides also have the most number of victories having won it on nine occasions (Milan 5, Juventus 2, AC Parma 1, Lazio 1) with Internazionale hoping to make it a perfect ten this year. As well as Italy, teams from Spain and England (7 wins each) are well represented in the list of winners and then comes Belgium for whom RSC Anderlecht (2 times) and KV Mechelen (1 time) won the trophy during a golden period for Belgian football in the 1970’s-80’s. Six different nations have provided one winner each with Scotland’s sole champions coming not from Glasgow but from Aberdeen who won the title in 1983 during Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign. Pedantically speaking the Soviet Union and Russia are different countries and the cup was won by Dynamo Kyiv (who, of course, are Ukrainian in any case!) and Zenit St Petersburg. Romania, Portugal and Turkey complete the set with Steaua Bucharest (1986), FC Porto (1987) and Galatasaray (2000). The most surprising statistic is that not a single team from Germany has ever lifted the trophy in seven attempts, FC Bayern München losing three times along with Hamburger SV (2 times), Werder Bremen and Borussia Dortmund. France has also never supplied a winning Super Cup champion but they’ve only ever supplied one finalist in the tournament’s history with Paris Saint Germain losing out to Juventus in 1996.

AC Milan

AC Milan are the record Super Cup winners with five titles

But it hasn’t always been plain sailing for this event with some of the finals having to be postponed or scrapped due to an inability to sort mutually convenient dates for the match. From 1972-1997 the Super Cup was a two-legged fixture played home and away and this didn’t always suit the teams involved in the fixture. The 1974 final between FC Bayern München and FC Magdeburg was never played with scheduling problems being the reason for the fixture’s cancellation but it was arguably the case that in the era of a divided Germany with political tensions between the Federal Republic (West Germany) and the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany) it was unrealistic to expect this match to get the green light anyway. The 1981 final between Liverpool and Dinamo Tbilisi was never played due to the former’s complaints about fixture congestion whilst the 1984 contest also involving Liverpool was reduced to a one-off game played in Turin against Cup Winners Cup holders Juventus FC. Twelve months later a ban on English clubs in European competition following the events before the Liverpool v Juventus game at Heysel stadium meant that Everton FC were prevented from participating in the 1985 Super Cup against Juventus FC. In 1986 the game was again reduced to a one-off as both finalists came from eastern Europe with the match played in neutral Stade Louis II for the first time as Steaua Bucharest beat Dynamo Kyiv 1-0 in the final. When English clubs were allowed back into European competition Manchester United won the Cup Winners Cup and were due to play Crvena Zvezda in the 1991 Super Cup but the match could only be played as a one-off fixture at Old Trafford due to political tensions rising in the former Yugoslavia. Finally in 1993 UEFA Champions League winners Olympique Marseille were forced out of the Super Cup due to being found guilty of match-fixing charges and AC Milan, as UCL runners up, replaced them only to be beaten by AC Parma.

But whatever happens in this year’s fixture it will surely add to the growing reputation of a tournament in which both finalists know that they’ve already achieved major success in order to play in this competition. Internazionale FC have ambitions to match FC Barcelona’s “Sextuple” triumph of 2009 with victory in the European Super Cup meaning that the Nerazzurri will have five trophies in the trophy cabinet ahead of the FIFA Club World Cup tournament in December. For Atlético Madrid a victory will cement their place as one of Europe’s great clubs and will allow their fans to enjoy some more bragging rights over their illustrious neighbours Real Madrid CF, something they haven’t enjoyed too much of in recent years.

A fascinating contest awaits……

Super Cup: Barça and Inter secure the honours (+video)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on August 21, 2010

The last two winners of the UEFA Champions League have secured the first silverware of their respective domestic seasons tonight. The second leg of the Spanish Super Cup was played in the Camp Nou as La Liga champions FC Barcelona tried to overturn a 3-1 first leg defeat at the hands of Copa del Rey winners Sevilla FC. At the same time in Milan defending Serie A champions Internazionale FC, fresh from their historic treble-winning season under former coach José Mourinho, played against last season’s league and cup runners-up AS Roma and the Nerazzurri were hoping to give The Special One’s replacement Rafael Benítez a winning start to life in Milan.

After playing a weakened side in the first leg seven days ago, Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola decided to bring back some of his established stars back into the fold in the hope that the Catalan giants could begin the 2010-11 season with the first piece of domestic silverware and, thus, put down a marker for the rest of the season. After the Andalucians of Sevilla CF had won the first game 3-1 at home Barça pulled a goal back early in the second leg after Sevilla’s Abdoulay Konko put through his own net after fourteen minutes. From then on the game would turn into the Lionel Messi show. After a disappointing FIFA World Cup campaign which saw his Argentina team get knocked out so convincingly by Germany, Messi would carry on where he left off in the Blaugrana shirt with two goals in the 25th and 44th minutes which would give Barcelona the lead on the night and on aggregate by half-time. The second half saw both chances for both sides and there was a possibility that Sevilla CF could get a late goal and make things nervous again for the home side. However it was Messi who would seal the deal by securing his hat-trick strike in stoppage time to give Barcelona a 4-0 win on the night, 5-3 on aggregate. The success saw Barcelona win their ninth Super Cup title, one ahead of eternal rivals Real Madrid CF.

WATCH SPANISH SUPER CUP 2ND LEG HIGHLIGHTS HERE:

New Internazionale coach Rafael Benítez began his tenure in the same fashion that his predecessor José Mourinho did by winning the Italian Super Cup against AS Roma in the San Siro stadium. Inter’s opponents stunned the home support when John Arne Riise gave the Giallorossi the lead on 21 minutes but ultimately it was the treble champions who would take charge in the fourth Super Cup match between these two teams in the last five years. Goran Pandev made it 1-1, capitalizing on some really poor AS Roma defending, with just three minutes of the first half remaining and then Samuel Eto’o would do the damage for the Nerazzurri in the second half by scoring two close-range efforts in the 70th and 80th minutes. The win secured Inter’s fifth Italian Super Cup title which draws them level with city rivals AC Milan at the top of the all-time list of wins in this tournament. It was also Internazionale’s fourth trophy in 2010 as they hope to emulate FC Barcelona by winning every available piece of silverware in the same calendar year. The fifth leg of a possible sextuple is the European Super Cup match in Monaco where they meet UEFA Europa League winners Atlético de Madrid on Friday, August 27th. Read Stoppage Time – International Football Blog this week for a full preview of this prestigious clash.

WATCH ITALIAN SUPER CUP HIGHLIGHTS HERE:

UEFA Champions League – Final Preview

Posted in European Football by peterbein on May 21, 2010

The UEFA Champions League final will be played on a Saturday night for the first time in the competition’s history this year when Internazionale FC and FC Bayern München fight it out not just for continental glory but to complete the third and final leg of a Treble winning season. Italian champions Inter have won both league and cup honours domestically ahead of the tough challenge of AS Roma whilst FC Bayern managed to stave off the threat of FC Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga and thrashed Werder Bremen 4-0 in the cup final last weekend in Berlin. The game will also have another edge to it as the teams are fighting it out to allow their country the right to have four places in the UEFA Champions League from the 2011-12 season. Italy currently has that right but a win for FC Bayern would mean that Germany takes Italy’s place in the top three of UEFA’s Co-Efficient table which determines European placings. “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” looks back at how both teams reached the final:

Internazionale FC logoINTERNAZIONALE FC (Italy)

Group Stage (FC Barcelona 6 games/11 points; Internazionale 6/9; Rubin Kazan 6/6; Dynamo Kyiv 6/5)

Internazionale’s group stage campaign got off to a quiet start when Jose Mourinho’s troops were involved in a Matchday 1 goalless stalemate against defending European champions FC Barcelona. Matchday 2 saw another game fail to be decided as Dejan Stanković cancelled out Alejandro Domínguez’s 11th minute opener to ensure a draw for the Nerazzurri against Russian champions Rubin Kazan. A third consecutive draw followed against Ukrainian champions Dynamo Kyiv as Inter came from behind twice to earn a 2-2 draw. Finally the first win came on Matchday 4 in dramatic fashion as Andriy Shevchenko’s goal for Dynamo was overturned in the final four minutes of the game with goals in quick succession from Diego Milito and Wesley Sneijder. A trip to the Camp Nou cauldron awaited on Matchday 5 and the Italians were disappointing in their 2-0 defeat to the Catalans which meant that progression to the Round of 16 was hanging by a thread going into their final group game at home to Rubin. However goals from Samuel Eto’o and Mario Balotelli gave Inter the three points which meant second place in the group and a tough encounter with Mourinho’s old club Chelsea FC.

Round of 16 (v Chelsea FC 3-1 on aggregate)

Inter had failed in each of the previous two campaigns to progress from this stage of the tournament against English opposition and weren’t going to make it three in a row. In the first leg, played at San Siro, a tough contest was ultimately decided by an Esteban Cambiasso strike to give Inter a slender one goal advantage to take to London as the Italian champions won 2-1. For the second leg all the attention turned to coach Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge but it was Samuel Eto’o who would grab all the headlines as he scored the only goal of the second leg late on to allow Inter to advance to the quarter-finals with a 3-1 aggregate victory.

Quarter-Final (v CSKA Moscow 2-0 on aggregate)

CSKA Moscow had done well to reach the quarter-finals having qualified in second place from Manchester United’s group as well as defeating Sevilla in the Round of 16. Sadly for the Russian side their adventure would end in the last eight as a pair of 1-0 victories were enough for Inter to go through. The first leg was decided by Diego Milito whilst Wesley Sneijder was the goal hero in the return leg. The 2-0 aggregate victory gave Inter a dream semi-final and, more importantly for Mourinho, the chance to get one over FC Barcelona.

Semi-Final (v FC Barcelona 3-2 on aggregate)

Jose Mourinho once again took the plaudits as he learnt the lessons of defeat during the group stage and knocked-out tournament favourites FC Barcelona. Mourinho’s claim that the Catalans, where he once famously worked as Sir Bobby Robson’s interpreter, were “obsessed with [winning in] Madrid” was used as a psychological ploy to get at his opponents. The first leg saw Inter come from behind to claim a 3-1 first leg adavantage. The return leg saw an early setback when Thiago Motta was sent-off for raising his arm on Sergio Busquets who clearly went down too easily. Despite Gerard Piqué’s cool finish in the 84th minute Inter were able to survive any further Barça attacks to go through to their first European final since winning the UEFA Cup in 1998 and will hope to bury 45 years of hurt by winning a third European Cup.

FC Bayern logoFC BAYERN MÜNCHEN (Germany)

Group Stage (FC Girondins 6 games/16 points; FC Bayern 6/10; Juventus FC 6/8; Maccabi Haifa 6/0)

FC Bayern eventually squeezed through this group but it started off comfortably enough with an easy 3-0 win over Israeli champions Maccabi Haifa on Matchday 1 with Daniel Van Buyten and a double strike from Thomas Müller proving the difference. A goalless draw at home to Juventus FC was not what the Bayern fans expected after the opening game but that was what they got and it got worse for the Bavarians as they suffered back-to-back defeats at the hands of French champions FC Girondins de Bordeaux. The pressure was on coach Louis Van Gaal to get the team into the Round of 16 and, in order to do that, he had to win both remaining group games. Matchday 5 settled Bayern nerves even if they were far from convincing in beating group whipping boys Maccabi Haifa by an Ivica Olić goal to nil. Matchday 6, however, was when Van Gaal’s men showed their mettle by going to Turin and coming from behind to defeat Juventus 4-1 thanks to goals from (goalkeeper) Hans-Jörg Butt, Ivica Olić, Mario Gómez and Anatoliy Tymoschuk.

Round of 16 (v AC Fiorentina 4-4 on aggregate – FC Bayern win on away goals)

There were two exciting ties in the Round of 16 clash between FC Bayern and their Italian opponents with Arjen Robben proving a crucial influence in both legs. He scored the goal to give Bayern the lead in the first leg but Fiorentina equalized early in the second half thanks to Per Krøldrup. A controversial Miroslav Klose winner in the last minute allowed the German Rekordmeister to take a 2-1 advantage to Florence but they were soon playing catch-up in the return leg. The Viola were two goals up early in the second half before the aggregate score was level through Mark Van Bommel in the 60th minute. Stevan Jovetić scored again on the 64th minute to restore Fiorentina’s lead but Italian hearts were broken by Arjen Robben whose beautifully curled strike sixty seconds later gave FC Bayern the away goals advantage from which they would qualify to meet Manchester United.

Quarter-Finals (v Manchester United 4-4 on aggregate – FC Bayern win on away goals)

In what was a pulsating contest FC Bayern qualified for the semi-finals in the same manner from which they got through the Round of 16. In the first leg at Allianz Arena Wayne Rooney’s second minute opener for United was cancelled out by Franck Ribéry in the 77th minute. Just as it looked like United would go to the return leg the most satisfied Ivica Olić capitalized on a very late defensive lapse from the English champions to secure a 2-1 win to take to Manchester. The second leg proved every bit, if not more, dramatic as United were cruising after 40 minutes having taken a 3-0 lead on the night. Ivica Olić’s goal late in the first half gave FC Bayern hope of staying in the game and their chances were helped when United’s Rafael was sent-off. With fourteen minutes to go a corner found its way on to Arjen Robben’s left foot and he struck with great aplomb into the bottom corner to secure yet another away goals victory and a semi-final date with seven times French champions Olympique Lyonnais.

Semi-Finals (v Olympique Lyonnais 4-0 on aggregate)

Arjen Robben and Ivica Olić again proved the decisive figures for FC Bayern as they eased their way into the final with a healthy 4-0 aggregate win over a disappointing Olympique Lyonnais. Dutch wizard Robben scored the only goal in the first leg when he struck again from distance to give die Roten a slender first leg advantage. The second leg proved much more comfortable with Croatian Olić scoring all three goals to give the Bavarians a safe passage through to their first UEFA Champions League final since their last triumph in the competition in 2000-01.