Category Archives: UEFA

Match Report: Portugal 2-3 Germany

UEFA Euro 2008

Quarter-Final

Basel

Att: 42,000

Portugal 2-3 Germany

A tired maxim, but an important one: never write off the Germans. Once again, they prove that when it comes to clinical finishing and efficient, sharp use of possession, they are still the kaisers. After two poor performances, the Germans once again look like the favourites they were labelled as before the tournament.

Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose looked accomplished and dangerous alongside one another; Michael Ballack, improving more with every game and surely an early candidate for player of the tournament, controlled the centre of midfield with a delightful arrogance.

For Portugal, it’s a typical outcome: mercurial, thrilling and disgustingly talented, but wasteful and disorganised. It’s a disappointing exeunt from international football for Luis Felipe Scolari, who will now make the transition to Chelsea where many of his Portuguese stars, and Ballack, now take residence.

Portugal started off the better side, with Simão’s creativity going forward and Bosingwa’s pace proving troublesome on the right-hand side against Germany’s Philipp Lahm. If it weren’t for an ineffective Nuno Gomes, Portugal should have been a goal up after eleven minutes, after a teasing low ball from Bosingwa failed to be capitalised upon. Moments later, João Moutinho spurned a sitter in front of goal from a Bosingwa corner.

Then, after twenty-two minutes, a move of absolute excellence, with Ballack at its centre.

Klose passed to Ballack, and then a succession of one-touch passes between Ballack and Podolski resulted in a beautifully weighted ball from Podolski, and an unmarked Bastian Schweinsteiger waiting in the eight-yard area. A goal of the highest quality, and certainly up there with the two fine counter-attacking goals scored by Holland against the Azzurri.

Four minutes later, and the Germans were two up thanks to some woeful Portuguese defending. With Ricardo Carvalho nowhere to be seen, Klose rose and headed in unmarked, leaving Cristiano Ronaldo wondering who was meant to be marking the 2006 World Cup Golden Boot winner.

By now, Germany were in complete control of the midfield; but Portugal still threatened when going forward, and Ronaldo managed to put his side back in the game before half-time with his cross-angle run into the area and eventual shot rebounding for Nuno Gomes to finish. Ronaldo then almost equalised for Portugal minutes later, with a shot that just crept past Jens Lehmann’s left-post.

Portugal came out the better side after half-time, with Ronaldo becoming more of a threat. With a questionable spot of gamesmanship by Arne Friedrich, in which he intentionally stood on Ronaldo’s foot after a strong challenge, it was clear to see the threat he was now beginning to pose.

But that was wiped away thanks to some erratic goalkeeping by Ricardo. Ballack, who looked to have pushed his club team-mate Paulo Ferriera to gain an advantage, was there to header in from a Schweinsteiger free-kick that Ricardo failed to deal with.

Scolari later threw on Nani, who consistently threw possession away with thirty-yard efforts and misguided passes — apart from the one moment he actually used his eyes. With Helder Postiga also thrown on, Nani picked him out perfectly with three minutes remaining.

Yet by now, it was too late. Portugal and the world now awaits the talk of where Ronaldo will end up to re-emerge in earnest; while Germany expects once again, with Ballack — perhaps the best leader the Germans have had since a circa. Italia ’90 Lothar Matthaus — only growing in confidence.

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Filed under cristiano ronaldo, Football, germany, Match Report, michael ballack, portugal, Soccer, Sport, UEFA, uefa euro 2008

Match Report: Italy 2-0 France

UEFA Euro 2008

Group Stage: Group C

Zurich

Att: 25,000

Italy 20 France

Ten years’ ago this month, France were World Champions. Two years’ ago, France almost became World Champions once again. But after this defeat against an Italian side that is finally showing some promise, and to refer to Domenech’s much-discussed star-gazing, France is in the midst of a supernova.

Not only is this supernova illustrated by France’s early departure, but also in the players that signify this so-called golden era. Thierry Henry is worryingly short of any threat compared to his Arsenal days; Nicolas Anelka was an irrelevance, coming on as a substitute when Domenech ran out of ideas; Lilian Thuram refused to play because of a supposed bout of nerves; and William Gallas was ineffective and reverting to his volatile state, at one point on the verge of tears.

France’s challenge effectively ended after eight minutes when Franck Ribery, the man who is constantly referred to as the next Zidane — the link between the golden-era and the new, uncertain one — went off with an injured Achilles. The pain etched on his face was likely mimicked by every French man.

Within twenty minutes, Luca Toni could have single-handedly embarrassed the French; instead, it was more the opposite. Opportunities provided by Simone Perrotta and Andrea Pirlo on several occasions weren’t taken, and Toni’s indifferent form will be a real worry for Roberto Donadoni. Toni is in danger of becoming Italy’s equivalent to Andrew Cole: lethal at domestic level, unconvincing at international level.

Still, Toni’s persistence managed to come through after twenty-five minutes thanks to some French assistance in the form of Eric Abidal. After three attempts in getting the ball, Abidal brings Toni down in the penalty area, and France are a goal and a man down thanks to a superior Andrea Pirlo penalty. It was all either side deserved.

The unfortunate Samir Nasri, a transfer target for Arsene Wenger and brought on to replace the injured Ribery, was then taken off after a mere fifteen minutes in a desperate attempt from Domenech to bring some stability to his unstable back four. Yet it also shows how at odds the French were as a whole — needing a win, yet bringing off a talented, attacking player.

Karim Benzema was the stand out player for the French and when going forward, gave a still uncertain Italian defence something to handle. Benzema drew players towards him and left gaps that Henry seldom exploited; and when the French came out for the second half, he spurred the side on which almost caught the lackadaisical Italians who defended dangerously deep on several occasions.

Benzema’s efforts, however, would prove insignificant when on sixty-two minutes, Henry made his only noteworthy contribution. A Daniele de Rossi free-kick deflected goalward off Henry’s flailing left-foot, leaving Gregory Coupet with no chance.

It was only after de Rossi’s strike that Domenech decided to switch to three attackers and eventually bring on Anelka — the lack of any verve or enthusiasm, Benzema aside, was stunning. Indeed, Benzema almost gave the French some hope with a finely struck curling effort that required the best from Gianluigi Buffon.

The Italians’ tournament may have finally begun, and it would be foolish to dismiss them. But with Gennardo Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo suspended for their quarter-final against a ruthless Spanish side, they’re up against it. Even so, these are the Italians.

For France, who reportedly have Didier Deschamps waiting to take over from Domenech, they have a huge black hole to fill (enough of the astronomy terms now…).

David.

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Filed under Football, France, Italy, Soccer, UEFA, uefa euro 2008

UEFA Cup Final Build-Up: Pictures from Manchester (or how silly this post now seems…)

This post, covering the build-up to the UEFA Cup Final, came before all the bottles were thrown, a lot of windows were smashed and police officers were kicked and punched. Some of these pictures have now taken on a dark (yet, perhaps, darkly comic…) irony. I must say that on experiencing the atmosphere yesterday afternoon, it was a joy — thrilling, exhilarating, in fact. It was jovial, affable, and trouble that occurred later on didn’t seem that likely.

Still, when you’ve got tens of thousands of litres of alcohol, being served since 10am, seeping through the veins of almost 200,000 people (I wondered whether the 100k estimate was actually rather conservative), it seemed kind of inevitable that something would happen. The failure of the big screen in Piccadilly Gardens seemed to act as a trigger, although speculation doesn’t really help.

Manchester, from 1.30pm to 5.00pm

If Manchester was ‘mad’ in the late eighties and early nineties, then I have no idea what it could be described as today. The city’s unrecognisable — a sight of constant blue.

In excess of 100,000 Rangers fans (and a few Russians…) are readying themselves for tonight’s UEFA Cup final at the City of Manchester Stadium, with Rangers hoping to win their first European trophy since the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1972.

For Zenit, with former Rangers manager Dick Advocaat at the helm, this is their first outing in a European final after dismantling a Bayern Munich side that is arguably the best since the likes of Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Gerd Muller played together in the late seventies. On that fact alone, Zenit have to be considered favourites.

I couldn’t resist having a look, camera in hand, at what the atmosphere was like. Currently, Manchester is a proud, memorable image of fans savouring a European final.

If you wish to use any of these photos on your website or if you have any enquiries, then please email thesightisinend@googlemail.comthanks!

David.

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Filed under Football, Manchester, News, Rangers, Russia, Scotland, Soccer, Sport, UEFA, UEFA Cup, Zenit St. Petersburg

UEFA Launch Investigation After Liverpool v Arsenal Champions League Tie Described As ‘Decent’

UEFA chiefs today announced they would be conducting an inquiry to investigate claims that the Champions League Quarter-Final second leg between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield on tuesday was “a decent game”.

The investigation was launched after an unusual amount of reaction to the game was found to be positive. One spectator was heard to summise that the game was “actually not all that bad“, whilst another observed that he found it to be “quite a decent game, really“.

Suspicions first arose that the game might actually be alright when someone reported that he had heard a raised voice on the TV commentary. The viewer, who is seen by UEFA as key to their inquiry, said “It took me completely by surprise and I can’t remember what it was all about, but I know I heard it. Clive Tyldesley definitely described an incident in a louder voice than he had the previous one. What’s more, I thought I heard an ‘oh!’ from Jim Beglin too, but I can’t be sure about that at the moment. I may have been getting carried away“.

A UEFA spokesman confirmed that they are taking the claims seriously: “Usually there are one or two who go over-the-top in their assessment of a match, but we can’t afford to ignore this. Many people seem convinced that this was a decent game, and it’s our duty to look into it. Fans can rest assured that our investigation will be most thorough“.

The spokesman was asked about further claims that TV pundit Andy Townsend had actually described the game as ‘exciting’ and ‘a thrilling spectacle’ but was quick to play the story down, saying: “This is clearly hysteria. It is one thing to say that this could have been a decent game, but to imagine that vulgar hyperbole such as this might apply to a Champions League match, especially one between two sides such as Liverpool and Arsenal, is just crazy talk. Andy Townsend has seen a great deal of Champions League football in his broadcasting career and he would know better than to make such claims. I’m confident that Andy has been misquoted, and we will be contacting him for confirmation of this“.

As the news broke after the match, many began to raise concerns about the possible knock-on effect that this allegedly decent game might have for the rest of the tournament. The spokesman addressed this also: “If it turns out that this was a decent game then we’ll have to take it on the chin and move on with the tournament, but I’m confident that this is an isolated incident. I would consider further decent games to be highly unlikely, and fans should not be concerned if planning to view future matches in this season’s Champions League. On a reassuring note, we can announce here and now that there will definitely be no repeat of this in the semi-final when Liverpool play Chelsea“.

Jamie.

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Filed under Arsenal FC, Arsene Wenger, Chelsea FC, Comment, Europe, Football, Soccer, Sport, UEFA, UEFA Champions League

FA now against Premier League plan

The Premier League’s plan on taking the league global is falling apart at the seams. The FA have now come out against the plan and, as alluded to on The Sight is in End, the potential damage to newly-(re)formed relationships with federations and the possible effect it could have on their World Cup bid have been deciding factors.
In a statement, they said:
“The Football Association has worked extremely hard for several years to improve our relationships and standing with Fifa and Uefa.”

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Filed under Barclays Premier League, CONCACAF, England, English Premier League, FA, FIFA, Football, News, Soccer, Sport, UEFA

Fifa say ‘nay’ to Premier League global plan, but we enter a worrying period

Sepp Blatter has said that the Premier League’s international round will not be going ahead. He has also issued what is practically a threat, saying that were the Premier League to go-ahead with the plan, England’s 2018 World Cup bid would be affected.

With UEFA, the AFC and now FIFA opposing the plan, it seems unlikely that it will happen. Yet this sets up a battle that could well turn very nasty, and could marginalise English football from the rest of the world. Richard Scudamore has come out and said that if they receive backing from the FA, it will go ahead.

If that happens, the consequences could be damaging, and will finally confirm something that has long been pondered: that the national game is secondary to the process of profiteering and promoting a valuable product. Indeed, were the Premier League to implement the plan, it would now probably affect the value of its prized commodity.

Yet this could raise the club vs. country row again, except this time it could take a more unsavoury and potentially harmful air. If the Premier League went against FIFA, where would players loyalties lies? With their employers, or with the law-maker? It would likely be the former.

It could, in some ways, be the equivalent of the Kerry Packer/World Series Cricket saga of the 70s, where players are torn between two sides: the PL, seeking more money in a supposed quest to advance their national game; and FIFA, the body there to protect world football (of course, where it does is the matter for a separate debate altogether). Players being forced to choose sides, and players being ostracised.

In 2000, the FA got the biggest shock possible when it realised how out of touch it was with world football, after England’s World Cup 2006 bid failed to get to the final round. Since then, it has worked hard to build bridges throughout the footballing world, to a point where it is now favourite to get the 2018 World Cup.

Even the CONCACAF chief Jack Warner, after originally being heavily against the bid and saying that he would do everything to make sure it failed, has now suddenly come out in favour. The Premier League’s plan threatens this newly-created relationship between the FA, the other NFAs and confederations.

It is time the Premier League ditched the idea. It was once rather funny and foolish in all honesty, but now it’s extremely threatening and deeply concerning. This has transcended taking clubs abroad for a game, raising more revenue and upsetting fans who will, in all probability, show apathy for a few weeks and nothing else; this can now irrevocably damage the game in this country, and leave a deep and ugly scar.

David.

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Filed under AFC, Barclays Premier League, Comment, CONCACAF, Cricket, England, English Premier League, FA, FIFA, Football, Football League, Jack Warner, Kerry Packer, Richard Scudamore, Sepp Blatter, Soccer, Sport, UEFA

G14 is now no longer

The G14, the group of the fourteen biggest clubs in Europe (although technically there are… or should I say were, eighteen clubs), is to be disbanded after UEFA and FIFA agreed to listen to their bones of contention.

Instead, a new body called the European Clubs Association, will represent clubs of Europe at European and international level. The intention is to make this new body the sole independent organisation representing over a hundred clubs throughout Europe.

One issue, the payment of compensation to clubs whose players compete in World Cups and European Championships is set to be resolved, with the clubs finally getting their way.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter, as you’d expect, is putting a positive spin on the announcement, believing that “clubs… are at last to become a part of the pyramidal football organisation.”

I can’t help but feel that this is finally an acknowledgement of the power big clubs now hold; an admission that they can no longer be ignored – full stop. We shall see.

What do you think? Tell us!

David.

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Filed under Arsenal FC, Barclays Premier League, FIFA, Football, G14, Liverpool FC, Manchester United, News, Sepp Blatter, Soccer, Sport, UEFA, UEFA Champions League