Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

CONMEBOL: Uruguay provide a victory for football

Posted in International Football by peterbein on July 26, 2011

Uruguay Copa AmericaThere will be many who will have gloried in the success of Uruguay in Sunday’s Copa America final. The record champions of football’s oldest international tournament won the competition for the third time on Argentinian soil and 15th time in total in a 3-0 win over surprise finalists Paraguay, Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan (2) doing the damage with the goals.

After all the Uruguayans had shown attacking intent and a positive attitude from the very beginning even if it took them a little while to get into their stride. Paraguay, on the other hand, were prepared to play pragmatically even if it meant the football became devoid of entertainment and ambition. Ironically the only game in which Paraguay showed any ruthlessness in front of goal was also the match in which their defensive line was breached the most, albeit in the last couple of minutes, in the 3-3 draw against Venezuela in the group stage.

What made Uruguay stand out in this tournament was having a couple of stars such as the aforementioned Suarez and Forlan there to compliment the rest of the team. The two teams who were touted as tournament favourites before a ball was kicked, namely Brazil and Argentina, had many more stars in their squads but they couldn’t really gel as teams. After all both nations only managed to scrape a win in their third group stage game in order to seal qualification to the knockout rounds.

Uruguay admittedly got past Argentina in the quarter-finals thanks to the lottery of penalties but they took the game to their eternal rivals on their home turf and did so from early on, Diego Perez’s fifth minute goal proof of their early intent to take the game to their opponents.  However it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that either team could’ve won it in the end such was the attacking nature of the match. Uruguay easily disposed of Peru in the semi-finals once Luis Suarez had grabbed both goals early in the second half. It would’ve been easy to presuppose that Uruguay would change their style ahead of the final in the face of a Paraguay team that had become used to closing teams down and denying them space. This, however, went against the grain of what Uruguay stood for and they proved it in fine style in the Estadio Monumental on Sunday.

Nearly 48 hours after the tournament came to a close and Uruguayan football has a lot to feel happy about right now. Not only did they win the Copa but it has been on the up in the last twelve months having reached the FIFA World Cup semi-finals, their Under-17 team finished runners-up in the FIFA World Under-17 Championship to hosts Mexico earlier this month and their record champion team Peñarol made it to the Copa Libertadores final for the first time since 1988 earlier this year only to lose out to old rivals Santos FC. Hopefully for a nation which was, until recently, a sleeping giant of international football this win will not prove to be a false dawn and that they can build on this success in the future.

CONMEBOL: Paraguay to meet Uruguay in Copa final

Posted in International Football by peterbein on July 21, 2011

Copa AmericaThe Copa America will see Uruguay take on Paraguay in the final on Sunday after both nations secured their berths with semi-final victories over Peru and Venezuela respectively.

The Uruguayans are now many people’s favourites to win the competition after their 2-0 win over Peru on Tuesday. A brace from Luis Suárez early in the second half helped him become the tournament’s top scorer, along with Argentina’s Sergio Agüero, on three goals and he will hope to secure himself the Golden Boot as well as the Copa itself in the final. Their attacking approach has endeared itself to the watching public and many will hope they lift the trophy for a record 15th time.

In contrast Paraguay reached the final for the first time since 1979 without winning a single match in regular time. Following three drawn matches in the group phase, Paraguay have played out successive goalless draws against Brazil and Venezuela in the knockout stages so far and have progressed both times thanks to the lottery of a penalty shootout. Venezuela, who reached the semi-finals for the first time, are unlucky not to have gone all the way to the final after hitting the woodwork three times and having a goal disallowed for offside. The match, however, will sadly be remembered for the post-match brawl in which players and officials threw punches at each other and were restrained by local police before things really got out of hand.

If history is anything to go by then Uruguay will be celebrating another title on Sunday as they are the only team other than Argentina to have won the Copa America on Argentine soil. Paraguay, however, will more than likely stick to the negative tactics that have got them this far but they will probably have to do it without coach Gerardo Martino on the touchline as he was shown a red card in last night’s match.

Peru and Venezuela will meet in the 3rd/4th place play-off on Saturday in La Plata whilst the final will kick-off at 16:00 local time in Buenos Aires.

Holland: FC Twente claim Super Cup in Amsterdam (+video)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on August 1, 2010

The Dutch domestic season began in earnest yesterday at Ajax’s Amsterdam ArenA with the annual Super Cup match, known as the Johan Cruijff Schaal, played between last season’s Eredivisie (Dutch league) champions FC Twente Enschede and KNVB Beker (Dutch Cup) winners Ajax Amsterdam. With home advantage Ajax were the slight favourites going into the game but it has been anything but an uneventful summer for the four-time European champions who fought tooth and nail to keep their coach Martin Jol at the club following interest from English Premier League club Fulham FC. The match got under way and within eight minutes Ajax were behind when FC Twente’s Luuk de Jong took advantage of a poor goalkeeping clearance from Maarten Stekelenburg and powered the ball past the hapless Ajax keeper. The match didn’t get any better for Ajax as Uruguayan Luis Suárez, back after a successful FIFA World Cup tournament in which his team reached the semi-finals, was sent-off with three minutes of the first half remaining for a two-footed lunge on Cheick Tioté. After a first half in which FC Twente dominated Ajax became more of an attacking force in the second half but, if truth be told, the Amsterdam club were very much second best overall. FC Twente won the trophy for the first time in the club’s history with their only previous appearance coming in 2001 when they were defeated by PSV Eindhoven. Is this victory a sign that the Enschede club can move on without Steve McClaren? Their current coach Michel Preud’Homme certainly hopes so….

Watch FC Twente v Ajax highlights HERE:

FIFA World Cup draw – The Verdict

Posted in International Football by peterbein on December 5, 2009
Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron hosted the World Cup draw in South Africa

The draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup took place in Cape Town, South Africa, yesterday. Presented by Charlize Theron (pictured) and including a host of figures from the football world including FIFA president Sepp Blatter and perhaps  the most recognisable sporting icon in the world David Beckham, the draw did throw up some intriguing individual ties and some interesting groups. “Stoppage Time” assesses the groups and the matches that should shape the fortunes at the beginning of the tournament:

GROUP A: SOUTH AFRICA, MEXICO, URUGUAY, FRANCE

The host nation should find it very tough in a group which looks like it will be very close. The French will be favourites to go through but their clash against Mexico could decide who wins the group. However the South Africans may harbour hopes of surprising Mexico in the opening game of the tournament. Uruguay, with their deadly strike force of Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez, will certainly fancy their chances of finishing in the top two. Their final group game against Mexico could be amongst the most intense of the championship.

GROUP B: ARGENTINA, NIGERIA, SOUTH KOREA, GREECE

Almost an exact copy of Group D in the 1994 FIFA World Cup (Argentina, Nigeria and Greece played in a group that contained Bulgaria instead of South Korea). Despite qualifying the tough way Argentina should top this group quite comfortably, the opening match against Nigeria will probably be their toughest assignment. However the Greeks may wish to spring a surprise in much the same way that they did in EURO 2004 when they became European Champions. South Korea can only expect to finish bottom.

GROUP C: ENGLAND, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ALGERIA, SLOVENIA

Almost after the draw had finished the English media were in overdrive, hyping up their country’s chances of winning the 2010 World Cup. It’s true that they should expect to top this group with relative ease. The only match of real interest is England’s opening clash with the USA, a game that throws back terrible memories for the “Home of Football”. If the Americans can repeat their 1-0 victory in the 1950 World Cup (so unbelieveable a result in those days that the English media initially reported a 10-0 victory for England!) then it would leave the group wide open. The match will have a personal edge involving the LA Galaxy footballers David Beckham and US Captain Landon Donovan, a war of words between the two earlier in the season may add a bit of extra spice to this match. Algeria and Slovenia will be fighting to avoid the wooden spoon.

GROUP D: GERMANY, AUSTRALIA, SERBIA, GHANA

Not as easy for Germany as it may appear on paper. The Australians were very unlucky to lose to the Italians in the 2006 World Cup (a dubious penalty tucked away by Francesco Totti five minutes into stoppage time) and they will hope to put up a challenge for the top spot in this group. Serbia are competing in their first finals as an independent nation and have a leader in Manchester United player Nemanda Vidic. Ghana could be a team that plays open, attacking football but their defence will concede plenty of goals. Germany are quietly optimistic that they can go far in this tournament. The matches between themselves, Australia and Serbia should determine the outcome of the group.

GROUP E: NETHERLANDS, DENMARK, CAMEROON, JAPAN

This group looks to be a fairly comfortable one for the Dutch. As I reported in my blog “FIFA World Cup draw preview – Part Three” the Dutch had a very easy group in qualifying and they will look to take that form into this group. Cameroon will be a strong contender for second place and with players like Samuel Eto’o and Geremi can give the Danes a tough challenge when they meet in their second group match. Japan have improved as a nation in the last decade but won’t be expected to trouble the other three too much.

GROUP F: ITALY, PARAGUAY, NEW ZEALAND, SLOVAKIA

The current world champions Italy won’t have too much trouble getting through this group. The opening group game between themselves and Paraguay should be among one of the better ones in the group stages. Slovakia are a tough team on their day and won’t go down without a fight. However they may be just a little too inexperienced at this level and will find it tough to get to the Round of 16. New Zealand will be ecstatic to be in South Africa but their squad is very limited, therefore expect defensive tactics from a nation that will want to avoid embarrassment in this tournament.

GROUP G: BRAZIL, NORTH KOREA, IVORY COAST, PORTUGAL

There’s a 1966 World Cup feel to this group; it was Portugal who, literally, kicked Pele and his great Brazilian team off the park (Goodison Park to be precise) and it was Portugal who had to come back from 3-0 down to defeat the surprise package of the tournament North Korea 5-3. This time, though, matches in this group involving North Korea should be more clear-cut as they’re the outsiders of this tournament. The Ivory Coast, involved in a tough group including Argentina and Holland in the 2006 World Cup, will be expecting as tough a time in 2010 but some will feel that they can beat Portugal, whose qualification for the World Cup was only confirmed via a play-off. If the Ivorians can get three points against Portugal in the opening group match then they should reach the second round.

GROUP H: SPAIN, SWITZERLAND, HONDURAS, CHILE

The current European champions Spain are currently the favourites to win the FIFA World Cup and they will be encouraged further having seen the draw. They should easily overcome the challenges of their group rivals leaving the rest to fight it out for second place. Honduras qualified thanks to events elsewhere (see blog “FIFA World Cup draw preview – Part One) but aren’t expected to get through this group, therefore the match between Switzerland and Chile (both teams’ second group match) should prove to be amongst the more important.