Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

FIFA: Messi seals yet another Ballon d’Or

Lionel Messi, seen here with the 2010 award, has won FIFA’s Ballon d’Or for 2012

The 2012 FIFA Ballon d’Or ceremony has been held in Zurich with the undoubted star of the show once again being FC Barcelona and Argentina sensation Lionel Messi. He has picked up FIFA’s top award for individual footballers for the third consecutive year since FIFA’s World Player of the year and France Football’s Ballon d’Or awards merged in 2010, and his fourth overall.

The 25 year old has already achieved more in his career than most players would ever dream of but the personal accolades still keep rolling in for a player whose setting of a new record for scoring the most goals in a calendar year has grabbed lots of headlines despite the relative lack of success for his club side in 2012. Messi, with 41.6% of the vote, beat off challenges from Real Madrid’s Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo (23.68%) and FC Barcelona team-mate Andres Iniesta (10.91%).

FIFA’s Manager of the Year went to Vicente del Bosque, the UEFA European Championship winning coach of the Spanish national team having secured 34.51% of the vote which put him ahead of Real Madrid’s José Mourinho (20.49%) and former FC Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola (12.91%)

In the women’s game top honours went to Abby Wambach, the American thoroughly deserving the accolade following a year in which her goals helped secure the Olympic gold medal for the USA women’s team in London. She won with a 20.67% share of the vote putting her ahead of five-time former winner Marta (13.5%) and compatriot Alex Morgan (10.87%). Coach of the Year went to Pia Sundhage, the Swede having led the United States Women’s national team to their gold medal, with 28.59% of the vote compared to challengers Norio Sasaki (23.83%) and Bruno Bini (9.02%).

FIFA’s Ferenc Puskas award, which goes to the scorer of the goal adjudged to have been the best, went to Miroslav Stoch for his goal against Gençlerbirliği in a Turkish Super League match (see below). He beat off competition from Colombian superstar Radamel Falcao and Brazilian hot shot Neymar, the winner of last year’s award in this category.

FIFA’s Presidential Award, a sort of lifetime achievement award given to an individual, team or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to the game, was given to German football legend Franz Beckenbauer. “Der Kaiser” won everything there was to win in the game with FC Bayern München and the German national team and has played a vital role as a coach and as a football ambassador since he gave up his playing career in the early 1980s. The Fair Play award went to the Uzbekistan Football Association whose record in terms of fair play on the field has been exemplary throughout the last twelve months.

Finally, the FIFA/FIFPro World XI for 2012 was announced. This team is voted for by users of the FIFA website:

Iker Casillas (Goalkeeper); Dani Alves, Marcelo, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos (Defence); Xabi Alonso, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez (Midfield); Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Radamel Falcao (Attack)

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Stoppage Time 2012 Coach of the Year is Vicente del Bosque

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

Vicente del Bosque (left) coached Spain to international football history in 2012

Due to the Spanish national team’s historic success at the 2012 UEFA European Championship, Stoppage Time’s Coach of the Year award goes to Vicente del Bosque. Having won the FIFA World Cup in South Africa in 2010, del Bosque led his team to European success this year and has helped, more than anybody, to bury the ghost of past Spanish teams who went into major tournaments as favourites but were unable to justify the hype.

This current generation of Spanish talent had already been helped along by Luis Aragonés when winning the 2008 UEFA European Championship but their place in footballing history has been cemented by del Bosque whose teams have yet to concede a goal in the knockout stages of a major international competition. Vicente del Bosque helped Spain win three consecutive international tournaments and also made personal history by becoming the first coach to have won the UEFA Champions League, which he achieved twice with Real Madrid CF in 2000 and 2002, as well as the two major international titles of UEFA European Championship and FIFA World Cup. A quite remarkable set of achievements which also tie in with Spain’s position as the number one team in the FIFA World Rankings table, del Bosque certainly deserves all the praise he gets and with Spain in pole position in Group I for 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying there is every possibility that further history could be created in the next eighteen months.

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)

Coach of the Year 2010 (+poll)

Posted in Uncategorized by peterbein on December 24, 2010
Carlo Ancelotti

Is Carlo Ancelotti your coach of the year?

Here is Stoppage Time – International Football Blog’s shortlist for Coach of the Year 2010:

CARLO ANCELOTTI: The Italian ended his first full season in charge of Chelsea FC by bringing the English Premier League and F.A. Cup double to Stamford Bridge, something which even The Special One himself was unable to do. Ends the year in the top four of the Premier League and in the Round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League with the defence of the F.A. Cup due to start in January.

José Mourinho

Is José Mourinho your coach of the year?

JOSÉ MOURINHO: What more is there to say about The Special One? Mourinho masterminded the treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and UEFA Champions League with Milanese giants Internazionale FC and maintains his unbeaten record in home matches which has now stretched into its eighth year. Now at Real Madrid where his team lies second in La Liga and progressing well in the Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League. Could another treble be on the cards in 2011?

Louis Van Gaal

Is Louis Van Gaal your coach of the year?

LOUIS VAN GAAL: The Dutch coach made a slow(ish) start to life with FC Bayern but came good to help his team win the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double in his first year in charge. Also got to the final of the UEFA Champions League but came up against a superior Internazionale team. At the end of the calendar year his team lies fifth in the league and has progressed to the last eight of the 2010-11 DFB-Pokal and last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

Lamine N'diaye

Is Lamine N'Diaye your coach of the year?

LAMINE N’DIAYE: The Senegalese coach helped maintain TP Mazembe’s standing as Africa’s best club side coaching them to a second successive CAF African Champions’ League title. TP Mazembe hammered Tunisian side Esperance ST 5-0 in the first leg of the final and secured a draw in the second leg which helped the Congolese side qualify for their second consecutive FIFA Club World Cup tournament. In Abu Dhabi TP Mazembe shocked the world by defeating Brazilians SC Internacional to become the first side from outside Europe and South America to reach a final.

Vicente del Bosque

Is Vicente del Bosque your coach of the year?

VICENTE DEL BOSQUE: The Spain national coach has helped solidify Spain’s standing as the best team in world football by guiding La Seleccion to their first ever FIFA World Cup triumph, defeating the Netherlands 1-0 in July’s final. This helped Spain become only the third nation to hold simultaneously the UEFA European Championship title and the FIFA World Cup following West Germany (EC 1972, WC 1974) and France (WC 1998, EC 2000). Spain also finishes the year top of their qualifying group for UEFA 2012 and the FIFA World Rankings.

FIFA World Cup – Final Preview

Posted in International Football by peterbein on July 10, 2010
FIFA World Cup

The Netherlands and Spain will contest the 2010 FIFA World Cup final. Who will be victorious?

So we’re almost there. After four weeks of quality football (ok, maybe barring the first week in which almost every team played not to lose) the tournament is about to come to its conclusion and, in what was already an historic competition due to its setting on the African continent for the first time, the FIFA World Cup will be won for the first time by either the Netherlands or Spain. The Dutch have played in two finals before but lost in consecutive tournaments in 1974 and 1978 losing out to the respective host nations of West Germany and Argentina. Will it be third time lucky for Bert Van Marwijk’s men? Or will Vicente del Bosque secure a European Championship and World Cup double for the Spanish? Having lost the first match of the tournament to Switzerland the tournament has seen Spain get the job done. Having been on the verge of elimination the Spanish reached their first ever World Cup semi-final and have, likewise, reached their maiden final appearance with effective performances and having survived a few scares on the way. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog looks back at the Road to Johannesburg for both teams:

KNVB LogoNETHERLANDS

GROUP STAGE: v Denmark 2-0; v Japan 1-0; v Cameroon 2-1

The Oranje were drawn in one of the easier groups of FIFA World Cup 2010 but, as the old cliché goes, you can only beat the team that’s in front of you and that’s what the Dutch did in effective, if not spectacular, fashion. In their first game against Denmark the Dutch were the beneficiaries of some poor defending which saw Daniel Agger score an own goal before his team mate at club level, Liverpool’s Dirk Kuijt, sealed the game for the Netherlands with five minutes to go. In a tight contest against Japan a Wesley Sneijder shot proved too hot to handle for Japanese keeper Eiji Kawashima and this gave the Dutch a narrow 1-0 win before they made sure of qualification in to the Round of Sixteen with a 2-1 win over Cameroon thanks to goals from Robin Van Persie and Klaas Jan Huntelaar.

ROUND OF 16: v Slovakia 2-1

The Netherlands were pushed all the way by a determined Slovakia side and one could argue that Vladimir Weiss’s team should’ve done better with the number of chances they created against the Dutch. The difference between the two teams though was the better quality of finisher in the Dutch team and it was thanks to a superb strike from Arjen Robben that Netherlands took the lead after 18 minutes. Wesley Sneijder doubled the lead for the Dutch with six minutes left but the Slovaks did pull a stoppage-time goal back after Róbert Vittek converted from the spot having been brought down in the box. Victory had been hard-fought for the Dutch but their reward was a mouth watering tie against Brazil in the last eight.

QUARTER-FINAL: v Brazil 2-1

A classic come-from-behind performance from the Dutch as they progressed into the last four of the competition with victory over record champions Brazil. The Brazilians took the lead after just ten minutes through Robinho and the Seleção looked in total control throughout the first half. After the break the Dutch got back on equal terms when Wesley Sneijder’s cross troubled the Brazil defence and the ball went in off Felipe Melo. The pivotal moments of the game occurred within five minutes of each other with, firstly, the Dutch taking the lead in the 68th minute thanks to a Wesley Sneijder header from a Van Persie corner and, secondly, with the sending-off of Felipe Melo in the 73rd minute for a needless stamp on Arjen Robben to complete a terrible day for the Brazilian defender.

SEMI-FINAL: v Uruguay 3-2

Uruguay came into the semi-final after an amazing conclusion to their quarter-final match against Ghana against whom they ultimately progressed via a penalty shoot-out after Asamoah Gyan missed the chance to score from the penalty spot for the Africans in the last minute of extra-time. In the semi-final Gio Van Bronckhorst scored what will arguably go down as the goal of the tournament after just eighteen minutes to give Holland the lead but Uruguay’s talisman Diego Forlán equalized with four minutes of the half remaining. The second half tested the fingernails of many fans inside the stadium as even after Holland had gone 3-1 ahead after strikes from Sneijder (70 minutes) and Robben (73 minutes) the Uruguayans set up a grandstand finish when Maximiliano Pereira pulled one back in stoppage time. Sadly for Uruguay there wasn’t enough time to score a crucial equalizer and the Netherlands were the team celebrating a place at the FIFA World Cup final.

RFEF LogoSPAIN

GROUP STAGE: v Switzerland 0-1; v Honduras 2-0; v Chile 2-1

The European champions were hoping for the perfect start to the Fifa World Cup but were denied by a compact, defensive Swiss team who ultimately gained victory thanks to a 52nd minute strike from Gelson Fernandes. The Swiss could’ve doubled their lead fifteen minutes from time but Eren Derdiyok hit the post with the goal at his mercy but Ottmar Hitzfeld’s men held out for a surprise win which meant that the Spanish had to win their next two games in order to qualify as group winners. The second game should’ve seen more goals for Spain but, in the end, they had to settle for the 2-0 win with both goals coming from a certain David Villa who would begin his goalscoring adventure in the World Cup. The final group game for La Roja was against South Americans Chile who had won their first two games of the tournament but who never really threatened the Spanish in their match-up. David Villa scored from long distance with the keeper off his line on 24 minutes and Andrés Iniesta doubled the lead after 37 minutes. Rodrigo Millar did pull one back for Chile just two minutes after the break but both teams seemed to be happy with the result in the final minutes of the game and it meant that both went through into the next round.

ROUND OF 16: v Portugal 1-0

This much anticipated clash of the giants didn’t quite provide us with the feast of football we were expecting and this was maybe in no small part down to Cristiano Ronaldo’s lacklustre performances throughout the whole tournament replicated in this game. It was to be David Villa once again who would provide the main highlight of the game as his first attempt at scoring in the 63rd minute was saved by Portugal’s keeper Eduardo only for the newly-signed FC Barcelona hitman to finally break the deadlock when his second effort went in off the underside of the bar. Portugal’s misery was confounded in the last minute when Ricardo Costa was unfairly sent-off for a non-foul on Joan Capdevila. Nonetheless the result was a fair one and a quarter-final against Paraguay awaited the European champions.

QUARTER-FINAL: v Paraguay 1-0

This extraordinary game fitted in with all of the other quarter-final matches in that there was so much to talk about after the game such was the amount of incident. After the first half had petered out as a goalless stalemate the second half began with a bang as Paraguay received a penalty in the 57th minute when Gerard Piqué brought down Óscar Cardozo. Sadly for Paraguay Cardozo missed his spot kick and then, two minutes later, saw their opponents receive a spot-kick of their own when Antolín Alcaraz brought down David Villa in the Paraguay penalty area. But, amazingly, Xabi Alonso had to re-take his successful penalty kick after the referee had seen encroaching which then allowed Paraguay keeper Justo Villar to keep out Alonso’s second effort. After all the drama both teams went for the winning goal but it was once again to be decided by a bit of predatory instinct from David Villa who guided the ball in off the post and into the net after Pedro’s initial effort had come to him from off the post. This gave Spain their first ever place at the Fifa World Cup semi-final stage.

SEMI-FINAL: v Germany 1-0

A repeat of the 2008 UEFA European Championship final and a similar scoreline gave the Spanish a place in the FIFA World Cup final for the first time in the nation’s history. Germany had been the best team of the tournament chalking up four goals in each of their knock-out round encounters en route to the last four. Having seen off England (4-1) and Argentina (4-0) perhaps the expectation finally weighted down Germany who never really got a grip in the match against Spain. The Spanish, normally so reliant on David Villa’s goals in this tournament, were ultimately grateful to defender Carles Puyol who rose highest from a Xavi corner in the 73rd minute to guide home a bullet header past the helpless Manuel Neuer in the German goal.