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Archive for the ‘National Teams’ Category

Gerard Houllier back in the Premier League

Former Liverpool boss, Gerard Houllier has agreed to become Aston Villa’s new manager. Houllier stepped down from his position as technical director of the French Football Federation in order to take the position. Not a very difficult move, I would imagine. Keep going with a crumbling federation whose national team is a disgrace or join Aston Villa in the Premier fucking League? I’m sure it took Houllier all of 3 seconds to make up his mind.

Mario Balotelli to have knee surgery

It’s a good thing Mario Balotelli scored a goal in the only 33 minutes he has played for Manchester City. He will not see the pitch for at least another six weeks. During those 33 minutes where Balotelli scored a goal, he also managed to damage his lateral meniscus. Quite the debut the young striker had. I guess it’s a good thing the striker position is one Manchester City is not lacking in depth.

Kuyt out at least one month

Liverpool are dealt yet another blow with the news of Dirk Kuyt’s shoulder injury. Kuyt injured his shoulder while attempting a bicycle kick during training with the Netherlands. Liverpool will need the likes of Joe Cole, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres to really step up and put this team on their shoulders. With last season’s horrible season still fresh in the minds of fans, Mascherano’s departure and now Kuyt’s injury, fans need to see victories or else fear walking alone forever.

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In an emotional statement he gave to reporters, Diego Maradona lays out the particulars of his departure from coach of Argentina:

After the elimination, Grondona told me in dressing room that he was very happy with my work and wanted me to continue. There were witnesses and players there. When we were back in Argentina, things became darker. On Monday, I met Grondona and after five minutes he told me he wanted me to continue, but seven of my staff should not go on. If he told me that, it meant he did not want me to keep working.

He knows that it would be impossible for me to continue if my assistants didn’t continue too. I defend all of them. Maybe some of the people who made this decision thought I would betray them. Maybe it was because they would betray their assistants if they were me. But I will not do that.

We took over one and a half years ago, in the middle of the qualifying campaign, with internal problems and a divided group of players. We took over knowing that we should transmit the pride of wearing the Argentina shirt. We made good and bad decisions. After some self-analysis, we know what we did right and what things we should improve.

Since 1990, the national team have not got past the quarter-finals. Several coaching staffs have worked and nobody has achieved that. Something is being done wrong because our players succeed all around the world at their clubs. Some things are done badly and there is no will to change them.

Whoever takes over, he has to know treason is close. Some people here do not love Argentinian football. They take care only of their personal interests and bank accounts.

You know all I did for the Argentina shirt. I gave everything for it. I’m sure Argentinian football deserves to be in a better position. I know the players felt the pride of wearing the shirt again, after a long time. Maybe that was my duty here. I am content for having transmitted the pride of being Argentinian.

Maradona has a reasonable case here. Grondona’s initial comments may have been misleading but the fact it was said right after a bitter loss with emotions running high and Maradona clearly devastated and in tears, what’s he gonna say? You’re fired? Besides, he said YOU still have a job here, not you and your entire staff. Regardless, Maradona is clearly upset at the fact he could not continue as coach, however, we come out of this experience learning a little more about Maradona — the person. He’s not just a crazy character that enjoys expensive toilet seats, running over cameramen, telling the media to suck it, and walking around his country naked; he is also a very loyal person that stays true to his values and is extremely passionate about the people he works with.

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His tactics often questioned, his selections often left a bitter taste in your mouth but Maradona shocked a lot of people by putting forth an electric squad. Argentina played wonderful football throughout the tournament except for their miserable showing against Germany in the quarter-finals. If it’s one thing we remember about this particular Argentine squad, it’s not their performance on the pitch, but it’s the emotional relationship Maradona had with each of his players. It was evident that Maradona truly cared for and loved his players by passionately hugging them and embracing them before and after each match. The relationship Maradona created with his players is something we rarely witness in today’s game. Whatever Maradona lacked in tactical genius, his players made up for with their natural talent and will to make their boss look good.

Diego was offered a 4 year extension by the AFA, but Maradona would only accept if the AFA agreed to not make a single change to the current roster and staff. However, Julio Grondona — the president of the AFA was keen on on firing one of Diego’s assistants, Oscar Ruggeri. After holding a meeting to discuss Maradona’s demand, the AFA decided they would not be able to resist the urge of tinkering with the coaching staff. With that conclusion, Maradona’s destination was clear — out the door. Sergio Batista will be the temporary replacement and could hang on to the position as there are no other candidates for the position. Batista led the under-23 Argentina side to a gold medal in the 2008 Olympics.

Good luck to Diego in whatever he does next. It’ll be interesting to see if he chooses to continue his coaching career.

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Rooney thrives as a lone striker. Just look what he has done with his club. He scored all those goals this season as a lone striker (for the most part). Meaning he was the only striker up top. Meaning BENCH HESKEY YOU IDIOT.

4-5-1

this will give you 2 natural wingers (Lennon + SWP), a holding midfielder (Barry), and Lampard and Gerrard where they can be utilized best.

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June 21, 7:30am

Portugal vs North Korea

Portugal was hit with some bad news just before arriving to South Africa. Creative winger and electrifying talent Nani suffered a broken collarbone in training and will not be able to participate in the world cup. This is a huge blow for Portugal as Nani was in top form and provides the team with much needed speed and creativity on the wing. The North Koreans are a very organized bunch and play with a 5-man defense, which will make it difficult to score on them. They also have a lethal striker dubbed as “The People’s Wayne Rooney”, “Rooney of Asia” and “Rooney of North Korea” who has vowed to score at least 1 goal in every group stage match. Jong Tae-Se has shown us what he has capable of in recent friendly matches, most notably against Greece where he scored 2 spectacular goals. Don’t be surprised if North Korea comes away with some upsets during the group stages. They could cause a stir in the Group of Death. Portugal win here, though.

Final Score: 2-1

Key players to watch:

Portugal- Cristiano Ronaldo (forward, Real Madrid), Pepe (defender, Real Madrid), Deco (midfielder, Chelsea), Liedson (forward, Sporting CP), Hugo Almeida (forward, Werder Bremen)
North Korea- Jong Tae-Se (forward, Kawasaki Frontale)

Chile vs Switzerland 10:00am

It will likely be one of these two teams that join Spain out of the group stages and this match will play a major role in deciding that. Chile are tactically solid, there are not a lot of big names on the squad, however, everyone knows their role and they play well together. Chile will be playing with an unorthodox 3-3-1-3 formation, which Marco Bielsa had instilled with Argentina in 2002 but it ultimately failed as Argentina were eliminated in the first round. This time around Marco is looking for a different result, he led Chile to a 2nd place finish in the qualifying stages which is quite remarkable since he doesn’t have world class talent to work with. One thing is for sure, you will not be bored watching this Chile team because they will attack, attack, attack. Up against a more traditional Swiss side playing a 4-4-2 Chile will have their work cut out for them. Switzerland is very disciplined at the back and has two great strikers up front. With master tactician Ommar Hitzfield calling the shots, the Swiss have a fantastic shot at climbing out of the group stages. This match should be surprisingly entertaining for those that were not expecting much on paper.

Final score: 2-2

Key players to watch:

Chile- Matias Fernandez (midfielder, Sporting), Humberto Suazo (forward, Real Zaragoza), Alexis Sanchez (forward, Udinese)
Switzerland- Blaise Nkufo (forward, Seattle Sounders), Alexander Frei (forward, Basel), Tranquillo Barnetta (midfielder, Bayer Leverkusen)

Spain vs Honduras 2:30pm

Domination. That is what will occur in this game.

Final score: 6-0

Key players to watch:

Spain- David Villa (forward, Barcelona), Fernando Torres (forward, Liverpool), Xavi (midfielder, Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (midfielder, Barcelona), Cesc Fabregas (midfielder, Arsenal)
Honduras- David Suazo (forward, Genoa), Edgar Alvarez (midfielder, Bari), Amado Guevara (midfielder, Motagua)

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Portugal will be without Nani as he sustained an injury during training. This is a huge blow for the Portuguese as Nani was in spectacular form and provided them with much needed creativity in the midfield and on the wing. Ruben Amorim, the Benfica midfielder will replace Nani in the starting XI. This injury just adds to the ever growing list of star players that will not be participating in the world’s greatest event.

With Nani out and Drogba seemingly on the verge of recovery, Ivory Coast could have the upper hand in the group stages.

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As the World Cup approaches closer and closer we are hit with more disappointing news. Didier Drogba has fractured his elbow during a friendly against Japan. His status for the tournament is now doubtful. Let’s take a look at some of the star players that will be missing out due to injury:

Michael Essien

Michael Ballack

David Beckham (not really a star player but I digress)

Didier Drogba (doubtful)

Rio Ferdinand

Charlie Davies

Andrea Pirlo (doubtful)

John Obi Mikel

UPDATE: Arjen Robben doubtful with a hamstring injury

UPDATE II: Sulley Muntari and Wilson Palacios doubtful.

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