Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Stoppage Time 2012 Team of the Year goes to Spain

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

Spain won their third European title in 2012

Stoppage Time’s Team of the Year award could only really go to one team, namely the Spanish national team following their exploits in Poland and Ukraine in this year’s UEFA European Championships. Having won back-to-back international tournaments, the 2008 European Championship and 2010 FIFA World Cup, Spain were hoping to become the first team ever to win three major tournaments in a row and certainly didn’t disappoint.

Following a 1-1 draw against the Italians in their opening group game, Spain defeated the Republic of Ireland and Croatia to set up a quarter-final against France. A brace from Xabi Alonso helped secure a 2-0 win over the French but Spain, following a tough goalless draw against Portugal in the semi-finals, needed the lottery of a penalty shoot-out to progress to the final. Meeting up against old foes and group opponents Italy again in the final, many expected the game to be a hard slog but Spain had other ideas and went on to win their third European crown in style with goals from David Silva, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata securing a 4-0 win and a place in footballing history.

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Euro 2012: Spain confirm dominance with historic triumph

Posted in European Football, International Football by peterbein on July 2, 2012
Spain Euro 2012 champions

Spain won its third UEFA European Championship with a 4-0 drubbing of Italy

The Spanish national football team did what so many people expected and won the 2012 UEFA European Championship. Spain defended their European title with a 4-0 hammering of Italy with goals from David Silva, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata and helped to create history in the process. The title triumph was Spain’s third in a row, following wins in Euro 2008 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the first time that any national team had achieved this feat.

Quite simply it’s been a fantastic four years for coach Vicente Del Bosque who took over from Luis Aragonés following the Euro 2008 triumph in Austria/Switzerland and who has expanded on his country’s playing style whilst maintaining his players’ hunger and desire which is no mean feat when the majority of the squad play for either FC Barcelona or Real Madrid and have already enjoyed such enormous success at club and international level. The FIFA World Cup triumph two years ago in South Africa may have confirmed that they were the best team on the planet but accusations during Euro 2012 of playing boring football were swept under the carpet as Spain took apart the Italian national team in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Right from the beginning Spain took the game to Italy, helping to dismiss any accusations of boring football, and were convincingly 2-0 up at half-time before two of their substitutes, Torres and Mata, helped kill the game off in the last ten minutes of the game and help put some gloss on the achievement which has re-confirmed Spain’s status as favourites for the next FIFA World Cup tournament in Brazil in two years’ time.

The Spanish, as one would expect, also enjoyed the success in the individual categories. Fernando Torres, one of six players to top score with three goals in Euro 2012, was named the Golden Boot winner as he had been on the pitch for the fewest number of minutes (189) compared to his rivals for the award. Andrés Iniesta won the Man of the Match award in last night’s final and then claimed the Player of the Tournament award whilst also being included in UEFA’S 23-man Team of the Tournament which looks thus:

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy), Iker Casillas (Spain), Manuel Neuer (Germany)

Defence: Gerard Piqué (Spain), Fábio Coentrão (Portugal), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Pepe (Portugal), Sergio Ramos (Spain), Jordi Alba (Spain)

Midfield: Daniele De Rossi (Italy), Steven Gerrard (England), Xavi (Spain), Andrés Iniesta (Spain), Sami Khedira (Germany), Sergio Busquets (Spain), Mesut Özil (Germany), Andrea Pirlo (Italy), Xabi Alonso (Spain)

Attack: Mario Balotelli (Italy), Cesc Fàbregas (Spain), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sweden), David Silva (Spain)

Spain mourns passing of Manuel Preciado

Posted in European Football by peterbein on June 7, 2012
Manuel Preciado

Manuel Preciado died aged 54

Manuel Preciado, who only yesterday signed on with Villarreal CF to become their new coach from next season, has sadly died from a heart attack today, aged 54.

Preciado was mainly associated as a player with Racing Santander but also featured for clubs such as Real Mallorca and Deportivo Alaves. His coaching career began in the mid-90s with Gimnástica de Torrelavega before returning to Racing Santander to take charge of the “B” team on two occasions before two separate spells managing the first team from 2002-03 and 2005-06. His most recent job came with Sporting de Gijón where he stayed for six years from 2006, leading them to promotion in his first season and keeping them in the top flight before they went down at the end of last season.

Stoppage Time wished to pass on its condolences at this sad time.

Euro 2012 Preview – Group C

Posted in International Football by peterbein on June 4, 2012

Euro 2012 logoIn the third installment of our Euro 2012 build-up, Stoppage Time – International Football Blog previews Group C which contains the defending European champions Spain as well as Italy, Croatia and the Republic of Ireland.

GROUP C

CROATIA: Best Performance = Runner Up 1960, 1968 (as Yugoslavia); Quarter-Finals 1996, 2008 (as Croatia)

Following the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in 1991 the Croatian national team has performed by far the best out of the newly created independent states. As part of the former Yugoslavia, Croats played a part in the Yugoslavia teams who finished runner up on two occasions in the 1960s. Since independence Croatia has only failed to qualify for a major tournament on two out of nine occasions showing that the national team is still one for many teams to fear. In Group F of Euro 2012 qualifying the Croats finished two behind Greece in the standings before a convincing 3-0 aggregate win over Turkey in the play-offs gained them their place in the finals. Croatia’s main focus in the tournament will be Luka Modrić who has been in fine form for his club Tottenham Hotspur and whose distributive and creative qualities will be needed for attacking players such as Ivica Olić and Nikica Jelavić the opportunities to flourish.

COACH: Slaven Bilić

FIFA WORLD RANKING = 8

ITALY: Best Performance = Winners 1968

Even hard core fans of the Azzurri would begrudgingly admit that this is far from the most vintage Italian team that has ever graced an international tournament. For a nation which has been world champions on four occasions it is surprising that Italy has only one European Championship title to its name and not many would expect a second title to be winging its way into the trophy cabinet this time around. Despite the pessimism the Italians still have plenty of individual quality and it would be a fool who would completely write off their chances of performing well in this tournament. Italy qualified from qualifying Group C with an unbeaten record of eight wins and two draws and with experienced players such as Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo still playing an active role in the side anything is still possible if the team gets its tactics right during the tournament.

COACH: Cesare Prandelli

FIFA WORLD RANKING = 12

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Best Performance = Group Stage 1988

They may be underdogs but the Irish wouldn’t have it any other way. Playing in only their second European Championship finals, the other being when Jack Charlton took them to West Germany in 1988, the Republic of Ireland will be something of an unknown quantity for their group opponents and, thus, they might be able to spring a surprise. Under the guidance of Italian legend Giovanni Trapattoni, the Republic of Ireland finished second behind Russia in qualifying Group B before sweeping aside Estonia 5-1 on aggregate in the play-offs. The Republic’s record goal scorer Robbie Keane will be spearheading the attack and if the likes of Damian Duff and Aiden McGeady can provide him with quality service from the flanks then there’s no reason why the Irish cannot upset some of the favourites.

COACH: Giovanni Trapattoni

FIFA WORLD RANKING = 18

SPAIN: Best Performance = Winners 2008

Victorious over Germany four years ago in this competition, the Spanish national team created history when winning the FIFA World Cup in 2010 to become only the third nation, along with Germany and France, to hold both the world and European titles simultaneously. Many superlatives have been used over the last few years to describe the current crop of talent at Spain’s disposal and they will be hoping to make further history by becoming the first country to win three consecutive major tournaments. The qualifying campaign was a breeze for Spain who finished with a 100% record in Group I and finished eleven points ahead of nearest challengers Czech Republic. Despite the absence of top scorer David Villa there are plenty of names who could win a game at any time for Spain. Names such as Xavi, Andres Iniesta and David Silva have been there and done that but there are also the likes of Álvaro Negredo and Fernando Llorente who are hungry and keen to show what they can do at the highest level.

COACH: Vicente del Bosque

FIFA WORLD RANKING = 1

GROUP C FIXTURES

10/06/12 Spain v Italy

10/06/12 Croatia v Rep. of Ireland

14/06/12 Italy v Croatia

14/06/12 Spain v Rep. of Ireland

18/06/12 Croatia v Spain

18/06/12 Italy v Rep. of Ireland

Spain: Mourinho signs on at Madrid until 2016

Posted in European Football by peterbein on May 22, 2012
Jose Mourinho

Mourinho has signed a contract extension at Real Madrid

José Mourinho has extended his contract at Spanish champions Real Madrid CF until 2016. The self-proclaimed “Special One”, who had initially signed until 2014, has won both La Liga and the Copa del Rey in his two seasons in charge at Madrid but the prospect of bringing a tenth European Cup to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu must have weighed heavily in his decision to stay at the club. Having won the UEFA Champions League with FC Porto (2004) and FC Internazionale (2010), Mourinho could become the first coach to win the trophy with three different clubs as a coach. This would be a significant achievement along that which he succeeded in doing this year in becoming one of only four coaches to win a league championship in four different countries.

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.

Spain: Usual suspects through to the last eight

Posted in European Football by peterbein on January 7, 2011
Eric Abidal

Eric Abidal scored Barcelona's goal against Athletic Bilbao

The Copa del Rey round of 16 has been completed on Thursday night and for the big names such as Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Villarreal CF, Deportivo La Coruña and Sevilla FC progress to the quarter-final has been assured. Last season’s finalists Atlético Madrid also went through eliminating Espanyol in the process. The shock of the round involved second division Real Betis eliminating top flight Getafe CF whilst UD Almeria also produced an upset when knocking out Real Mallorca, a team who lie ten places above them in the league.

Record cup holders FC Barcelona can consider themselves rather fortunate to get through to the next round following a tough two-legged tie against Athletic Bilbao. The Basque club, whose record in this competition is second only to the Catalans, were resolute in their first leg tie at the Camp Nou coming away with a 0-0 draw. The second leg remained at that score until the 75th minute when Barça’s Eric Abidal finally broke the deadlock only for Fernando Llorente to equalize five minutes before the end of the game to set up a grandstand finish. Barcelona manged to hold out and seal their place in the last eight where they will play Real Betis who caused the biggest upset in the round by knocking out Getafe CF. The Seville based team lost the first leg 2-1 but overturned the deficit in the return leg winning 3-1 on the night and going through 4-3 on aggregate.

Real Madrid were already assured of their place in the next round after their first leg 8-0 demolition of UD Levante. With such a healthy lead Los Blancos played a weakened side on Thursday and followed up with a second leg defeat, Levante winning 2-0 to restore some pride. The capital side prevailed with an 8-2 aggregate score and set up a mouth watering clash with local rivals Atlético Madrid who got the better of Espanyol going through with a 2-1 aggregate scoreline in a much tighter contest. Defending cup holders Sevilla FC still have dreams of consecutive titles following an easy 8-3 aggregate victory over Málaga CF which leaves the prospect of another classic tie to look forward to in the last eight against Villarreal CF. Following a goalless first leg, Valencia looked to be coasting into the next round when taking an early 2-0 lead but Villarreal came from behind to eventually put los Che out of the competition with a 4-2 win, Giuseppe Rossi bagging a brace for los Amarillos.

The final quarter-final match will see two-time winners Deportivo La Coruña take on UD Almeria. Deportivo were involved in a great match against second division Córdoba CF who thought they had sealed a dramatic aggregate win when going 1-0 up with four minutes remaining in the second leg. However Deportivo equalized through Adrián in the 90th minute to take the game into extra-time when the same player scored two further goals to help his side to a 4-2 aggregate win. UD Almeria, who are in 19th place in La Liga, got the better of Real Mallorca with a surprisingly comfortable 8-6 aggregate score.

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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.

Spain: Madrid and Barcelona cement places as top two

Posted in European Football by peterbein on November 21, 2010
Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick in Barcelona's 8-0 win over Almeria

Both of Spain’s dominant footballing powers continue to edge their way further ahead in the race for the 2010-11 La Liga championship as Real Madrid and FC Barcelona recorded massive wins over Athletic Bilbao and UD Almeria respectively.

In a league which is becoming something of a more powerful version of the Scottish Premier League, there seems to be a massive gulf between the traditional big two of Spanish football and the rest of the league. With El Clásico on the horizon it was important for both teams to make a statement of intent going into next Monday’s crucial encounter and neither team disappointed.

First up were FC Barcelona and once Lionel Messi opened the scoring for the defending La Liga champions on 17 minutes there was no looking back as the Blaugrana had wave after wave of attack which left their opponents completely overwhelmed. Before they knew it Almeria were five goals down at half-time following strikes from Iniesta (penalty), Pedro, Messi again and an own goal from Santi Acasiente. Barça were in no mood to take their foot off the gas as they hit the back of the net a further three times in the second half. Bojan Krkić’s second half brace sandwiched Lionel Messi’s hat-trick goal and the 8-0 win was the biggest of the season for Pep Guardiola’s team who can now go into their home match against Real Madrid with confidence.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo also scored a hat-trick in Real Madrid's 5-1 win over Bilbao

Things are equally as good at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu where league leaders Real Madrid also hit a multitude of goals in a 5-1 rout over Athletic Bilbao. José Mourinho’s team got the ball rolling when Gonzalo Higuaín opened the scoring after 19 minutes. After that the game turned into the Cristiano Ronaldo show as the Portuguese superstar equalled Messi’s efforts by scoring a hat-trick of his own. A penalty from Sergio Ramos was Madrid’s other effort of the game whilst the hapless Basques at least mustered a consolation strike when Fernando Llorente’s 40th minute strike at least had fans thinking there would be a contest with the game ending 2-1 at the break. However the attacking nature of Madrid under Mourinho is, after a slow(ish) start, beginning to find a more fluent rhythm with Los Blancos scoring seventeen goals in their last five league games.

Villarreal and Valencia CF, the two teams directly behind the top two before this weekend’s games, played out a 1-1 draw at the former’s El Madrigal stadium which further encapsulates the view that La Liga is going to be dominated by Madrid and Barcelona once again. League leaders Real Madrid are still unbeaten with 32 points from 12 games, just one ahead of Barcelona whilst third place Villarreal are already a further seven points back. Considering that the gap between the top two and third place in last season’s championship was a distant 25 points there are already fears that the Spanish League is turning into a glorified Scottish League. Despite this there is a match-up betwen Spain’s version of the Old Firm coming up next Monday night and it looks like being one of the most interesting Clásico games in modern times.

World: Classic rivalries sign off the international year

Posted in International Football by peterbein on November 18, 2010
Spain v Portugal

Portugal and Spain met again on Wednesday in a repeat of their 2010 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 match

Three of the great football rivalries finished off what has been an eventful year in international football. Spain, FIFA World Cup winners in 2010, had a short trip next door to Portugal, the team they knocked out of the world’s greatest football tournament at the Round of 16 stage and the country with whom they aspire to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. England, another potential host of the 2018 tournament, wanted to keep up their unbeaten record since South Africa with a home victory against a France side crossing the English Channel with a renewed confidence under new coach Laurent Blanc. The biggest game of them all took place in the unfamiliar surroundings of Doha with South American giants Argentina and Brazil clashing in the capital of Qatar in an exhibition match which the hosts hope showed off their credentials for hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi scored the winner for Argentina

If truth be told the game between South America’s two biggest football nations failed to live up to expectations. Perhaps the lack of the usual passion from the stands whenever these two great teams meet had something to do with the performances of both teams being somewhat lacklustre, or maybe it was something to do with the players not wishing to overexert themselves just a few days before they go back to their club sides in order to resume domestic league action. In any case chances were few and far between but there was one outstanding highlight which proved to be the difference between the teams. With the game having entered second half stoppage time Lionel Messi picked up the ball on the halfway line and performed a give and go with substitute Ezequiel Lavezzi. He promptly fed Messi with a return ball with which the Barcelona star sped towards the Brazil penalty area and unleashed a shot from the edge of the area. The ball squeezed in past goalkeeper Victor and gave Argentina their first win over Brazil since 2005.

In the two all-European affairs there were plenty of goals and lots of experimentation. All of the four teams involved had their fair share of new caps or young players been given a chance to prove their worth in the last friendly matches of the year. At Wembley Stadium the French national team looked a class apart from their English hosts for much of the game and when Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena had given Les Bleus a 2-0 lead the writing was on the wall for the Three Lions. Substitute Peter Crouch did come on to restore some pride as he scored a late consolation goal but Laurent Blanc’s French side did him proud as he tries to restore former glories. England coach Fabio Capello, on the other hand, is increasingly coming under pressure as his stock seems to fall with each inadequate England performance.

For the European and World champion Spanish team there was a shock in store as old foes Portugal, who the Spanish knocked out of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, gained some revenge with a 4-0 thrashing of their Iberian neighbours. Carlos Martins gave the hosts the lead right on the brink of half-time and the Portuguese carried on where they left off early in the second with Helder Postiga scoring twice in the 49th and 68th minutes. A late stoppage time goal from Hugo Almeida sealed the deal for Portugal and allowed them to accept the cheers of the home crowd who have not had a lot to shout about in recent months. For the Spanish the friendly result was merely a blip but at least they have played their part in what has been an exciting year in international football.