Posts Tagged ‘La Liga’

Season Predictions 09/10 – How They Turned Out

31/05/2010

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. I’m still in two minds about whether to do season reviews for each club – to be honest I’m in World Cup mode now. Perhaps I’ll still get round to it though.

Back in August I played a mug’s game and tried to predict how everyone would finish. Here’s what actually happened:

'Expert' predictions...

Looking at the results showed I got just three clubs spot on: Man City in 5th and basement dwellers Hull and Pompey taking the bottom two places. In my defence I was only one place out with six other clubs but really this table looks like what it is, rubbish punditry.

I think if Gareth Southgate and Garth Crooks had a bastard lovechild it would look something like this predictions table (enjoy those nightmare thoughts kids).

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In terms of the thinking, I had found it really tricky to split the top three when writing pre-season predictions. My loyalties to Arsenal may have played a part in placing them second while I couldn’t bear to predict Chelsea as Champions even though deep down I knew they had retained the most strength over the summer.

A similar scenario led to placing Spurs 7th – I was hardly going to predict them a Champions League spot was I?! I underestimated Liverpool’s decline and overestimated Sunderland’s improvement.

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The biggest mistake was Birmingham, a full nine places out, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who had them down to struggle. Fair play to Alex McLeish (who I had as first sacking!), he brilliantly led them to a top half finish.

The bottom half was slightly better predicted clubs wise, if not positions wise. The dearth of quality is such that it’s pot luck as to where the likes of Bolton and Wigan finish. I got three of the bottom four right and on another day would have predicted Burnley to come in 18th not 17th.

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In terms of the cups and other stuff it went like this:

And I thought the league prediction was bad...

Oh dear. Only Bayern Munich correct and I suppose West Brom for promotion. If the Premier League table was the Southgate/Crooks lovechild then this is the resulting mess when said lovechild had a threesome with Alan Shearer and Jamie Redknapp. I literally couldn’t do any worse at being a pundit. Like I said at the beginning, it’s time for the World Cup…

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T.

Season Previews 09/10 – How’ll they finish

15/08/2009

So after 10,000 words worth of pre season previews, they’re finally all up and available to mock at as all my predictions inevitably get proven wrong within a few weeks of the season starting! To make things easier I’ve added all of them here in the positions I predicted each club to finish. We’ll take a look back at this in May and see how accurate the table was. I’ve added a few other season predictions at the end too.

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Predicted Premier League Table 2009/10

  1. Man Utd
  2. Arsenal
  3. Chelsea
  4. Liverpool
  5. Man City
  6. Everton
  7. Spurs
  8. Aston Villa
  9. Sunderland
  10. West Ham
  11. Fulham
  12. Blackburn
  13. Wigan
  14. Stoke
  15. Bolton
  16. Wolves
  17. Burnley
  18. Birmingham
  19. Hull
  20. Portsmouth

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FA Cup: Arsenal

Carling Cup: Chelsea

Champions League: Barcelona

Europa League: Valencia

Promoted from Championship: West Brom, Middlesbrough, Derby.

Top Scorer: Fernando Torres if he stays fit, Robinho if he doesn’t.

First manager sacked: Alex McLeish

La Liga: Real Madrid

Serie A: Milan

Bundesliga: Bayern Munich

Ligue 1: Bordeaux

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T.

Weekly Photoshop – Zlatan Ibrahimovic

06/08/2009

The summer’s most ridiculous transfer is the theme this week. Barcelona in all their wisdom decided to part with Samuel Eto’o AND 49 million in exchange for one of the most overrated players in football – Zlatan Ibrahimovic. I wrote at the time about how poor value this is and I can only think that Barcelona felt a statement had to be made following Real Madrid’s £200 million shopping trip this summer. He will score plenty of worthless goals but even I could score goals playing up front for Barcelona…

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"Of course you can rely on me in the big games Pep." Zlatan's already epic nose suddenly seems to increase in size...

"Of course you can rely on me in the big games Pep." Zlatan's already epic nose suddenly seems to increase in size...

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More to be found here.

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T.

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Old ones.

Weekly Photoshop – Lionel Messi

30/04/2009

Some non Premier League action this week, as the theme is Barcelona star Lionel Messi. Another case of not really having the time to do an idea justice (I wanted to play around with the John Terry stopping Messi thought which was in the Barca v Chelsea preview) so for the second week running we didn’t get into the gallery. Here’s the attempt nonetheless…

 

Messi previews the latest skill he will have perfected come the Champions League semi...

Messi previews the latest skill he will have perfected come the Champions League semi...

 

Here are the entries that did get in.

 

T.

 

Previous entries: VidicCahillShearer and the rest.

The Six Pointer: Europe-Wide Edition – Manc-heda Strikes Again, Fat Sam’s Samba Football & more…

12/04/2009

That was the weekend that was.

 

1. The title race – Liverpool make mincemeat of Blackburn in the early kick off beating them 4-0. This is surely the only time we will see Fat Sam let Samba inspire his side’s attacking prowess… oh yeah, and Chris Samba won’t be playing up front for them again. Poor puns aside, Blackburn were awful. Liverpool didn’t even need to call on Gerrard who rested on the bench, and the twentieth anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster saw Anfield basked in sunshine. Fernando Torres scored two, including an awesome first from a route one Carragher pass.

Are you SERIOUS?

Are you SERIOUS?

So, the focus then turned to Man Utd and Chelsea for the 3pm kick offs. To the detriment of my fantasy football team (and chances of catching the Football Guy), Fergie decided to start with Cristiano on the bench and risked playing G Nevs again, who is about as useful as a crack addict with a bum fluff moustache. Scholes opened for United with a rare header but the inevitable Sunderland goal came through Kenwyne Jones. On came C-Ron to save United’s blushes but instead it was another substitute that did the business… yes him, the Italian that looks about 25 and disturbingly models himself on Cristiano – none other than Kiko Manc-eda. This one wasn’t as scintillating as his winner last week against Villa but it was the tonic that Fergie’s faltering side needed.

Meanwhile, at the Bridge Chelsea eased into a 4 goal lead against Bolton, with the inevitable Lampard goal (which Sportboy T failed miserably to jinx, much to the joy of the Football Guy) and Snoop Drog double. Hiddink then proceeded to understandably substitute the aforementioned duo, saving them for Liverpool’s trip to the Bridge on Tuesday. However, this seemed simply to send out the message to the rest of the Chelsea team that the match was over. Bolton, who seem to have turned into something of a goal machine in the second half of this season, duly took up the challenge and proceeded to score three in eight minutes, leaving a nervy finish in front of the Chelsea faithful.

"I said C-Ron and a mobile phone, not five blondes!"

"I said C-Ron and a mobile phone, not five blondes!"

 

2. The race for fourth place – A tale of two halves and a lucky red card escape for the Gunners. Having decided to watch this one on Arab TV in a sweaty pub full of yobs, I hoped we would see a confident performance, even if the Arsenal defence was depleted. What I got was an awful first 50 minutes in which I had to bear with Mido scoring (and very nearly two at that). To make matters worse, Gibbs should have been sent off as he brought down Valencia as the last man. Instead he got away with it and the penny dropped with Wenger that changes needed to be made. On came Adebayor and Van Persie allowing Cesc to drop into a much more effective deeper role. Arshavin’s persistence paid off as Walcott was played in for the equaliser. The Gunners played some sweet stuff, topped off by a goal from my beloved Arshavin and a sexy finish from Song. That left Aston Villa and Everton to fight it out on the Sunday to see which team could give Arsenal a run for their Champions League money.

Villa played out a thriller against United last week and didn’t fail to deliver against Everton at Villa Park. Although Martin O’Neill’s side allowed Everton to steam into a 3-1 lead, a James Milner peach of a free kick and a dodgy penalty decision against Joleon Lescott allowed Villa to snatch a point that keeps them ahead of Everton but eight behind Arsenal. Despite the Gunners’ remaining matches against Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool, I think the fourth spot has now been sealed. Villa have a slightly easier run in than Everton but it should be an interesting battle. Kudos must go to David Moyes who has assembled a good side packed with battlers, creators and goal scorers. Fellaini seems to be excelling in his advanced role behind a rejuvenated Jo.

 

3. Spirits raised in the North-East… slightly.

After Southgate called it a must-win game, Boro’s 3-1 defeat of Hull will certainly give them some belief that they can avoid relegation. Unfortunately for them, they remain in the zone, two points off Sunderland and behind Newcastle on goal difference.

As for the Magpies, a 1-1 draw against Stoke must constitute a well-earned and highly valued point for Shearer. It must have been the training bikes on the pitch at half time. Or perhaps it was the ability to withstand Rory Delap’s launches into the box, enabling Newcastle’s own Geordie brute, Andy Carroll, to steal the point. It will still be the home games that decide whether Big Al manages to stick a big two fingers at all the doubters out there. Please Al, anything to see you finish your BBC career… please.

Big Al gets to grips with the job of keeping New'astle up

Big Al gets to grips with the job of keeping Newcastle up

 

4. La Liga watch – Messi is shit.

Ok, we all pretty much knew that Barca would win the league, but their 2-0 win against Recreativo at the Nou Camp only brings that day closer. Messi even managed to miss a penalty… rubbish isn’t he.

On a sad but good note for the Gunners, Marcos Senna had to come off injured in Villarreal’s 2-0 defeat at home to Malaga and will now miss the quarter final, second leg at the Emirates on Wednesday (unless this is a cruel deception by Villarreal’s website). Senna was awesome in the first leg both defensively and offensively. That is probably an injury too far for Los Submarinos Amarillos.

 

5. Bundesliga watch – all up for grabs now.

The German league definitely has the most exciting title race of any league in Europe at the moment with four teams competing. Wolfsburg, who destroyed Bayern Munich last week, stay on top with a win away at Borussia Monchegladbach. Klinsmann’s men managed to pick themselves up from their spanking at Barcelona by beating Frankfurt 4-0 at the Allianz Arena. Martin Jol’s Hamburg suffered a last minute defeat away at Stuttgart, putting them in third place behind Bayern on goal difference. The standings are now: Wolfsburg, 54 points; Bayern Munich, 51 points; Hamburg, 51 points; Hertha Berlin, 49 points and Stuttgart, 48 points. Now that is what I call an open race. Let’s just hope the inevitable Bayern win doesn’t materialise.

 

6. Serie A – Forget the title race but look out for Genoa.

Inter managed to draw 2-2 at home to Palermo depsite leading 2-0 but luckily for them, Juve were beaten 3-2 by the ever-more-impressive Genoa side that now finds itself two points clear of Fiorentina in the fourth Champions League spot. Milan notched up another win 1-0 at Chievo thanks to Seedorf and could now overtake Juve in second (just two points behind). If the rumours are to be believed, that won’t prevent Carlo Ancelotti ending up at Chelsea. Any takers on Frank Rijkaard ending up at the San Siro? Lazio smacked up Roma in the derby of the eternal city with the usual flurry of red cards being shown. Roma’s hopes of Champions League football next season now look over as they lie in sixth place, eight points behind. I don’t think Spaletti will be round for much longer. Shame really…I quite liked Roma under the baldy one.

 

P.

Champions League Preview – Barcelona vs Olympique Lyonnais

29/01/2009

draw_1209300c

The Barca Show

20 games. 53 points. 63 goals. 12 points clear. Barcelona are smashing La Liga records and sweeping opposition aside with their tenacity, class and lethality in front of goal. Their latest victims were Numancia at the Camp Nou on Saturday night, Pep Guardiola once again getting the best from a group of truly world class players. Terry Henry, Sammy Eto’o and Leo Messi have formed the front three trident that Frank Riijkard couldn’t quite get to click last year. A goal return of 14, 22 and 23 goals respectively from 25 games is a phenomenal record. The Blaugranas are deservedly the favourites to win the Champions League this season, with most bookies giving odds of 3 to 1 for them to reclaim the title they last won in 2006.

Leo Messi

cescli

How much longer do I have to touch this guy for? Why is he touching my leg?

The man is quite simply the best player in the world at the moment, outclassing the World Player of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo, in terms of goals and impact. His superior dribbling and ability to make something out of nothing is combined with great teamwork. If he can stay injury-free, his taste for big game performances should see him excel in the knock-out phase of the Champions League.

According to Cesc Fabregas, Messi was “very shy and that complicated his integration” into the Barcelona youth team, and his team-mates “thought he was dumb. Until, being kids and thanks to Play Station, we discovered he could talk.” Now, I don’t know whether this means Messi is being controlled by some spotty teenager in his bedroom (me and the Football Guy used to imagine taking control of live football matches by ‘plugging in’ our control pads) but whoever the kid is, he has to be pretty special.

Daniel Alves

Bosingwa has a mono-brow but I still look like more of a freak!

Chelsea, you missed out! Bosingwa has a mono-brow but I still look like more of a freak!

Messi is not the only threat coming down Barca’s right-hand side. Dani Alves, the right back that Chelsea didn’t think was worth dishing out £25 million for, is arguably the most potent force in Barca’s armoury. His overlapping runs, pinpoint crossing and eye for a goal has led the Guardian’s man in Spain, Sid Lowe, to rate him as the second best player in the world at the moment (after Messi of course). Ten assists is a pretty sweet return from full back, even if the Quark look-alike does play like a right winger. On top of all that, the man can actually defend. Some people have it all eh?!

Unsung heroes

As always, Xavi’s contribution is taken for granted, but this season the addition of Seydou Keita and the emergence of both Yaya Toure and Sergi Busquets have given Barca a steely side to their game, without sacrificing technical ability and creativity. Even the milky-bar kid has had his career rejuvenated by Guardiola.


 

A Word for Lyon perhaps?

Well, I am not going to pretend that I have been following Ligue 1 at all whatsoever this season (or any season for that matter), thereby damaging my credentials as a lover of football from all corners of the world. Nevertheless, I did a bit of research and here are my three points on why Claude Puel’s team must be respected but will ultimately fail against Barca:

1) Seven Ligue 1 titles on the trot….but

A record breaking seven consecutive championship titles gives Lyon a perennial presence in the Champion’s League and confidence to take on the biggest and best. Nothing appears to have changed, as Lyon currently sit pretty at the top of Ligue 1. However, this season could be different, as Bourdeaux under the tutelage of Laurent Blanc, are playing some good football and are only one point behind. Marseille are in third place, four points behind Lyon. Will this finally be the year when Lyon give up the crown?

2) Yes they still have Karim Benzema…but

The Manchester United target is continuing his good run of form from last season, having scored 15 in 22 thus far. He proved himself on the Champion’s League stage last year against Manchester United, and has the ability to upset Barca. However, while Lyon may have the likes of Benzema and the highly rated Jean Makoun II, the also play Jean-Alain Boumsong at centre-half. A mental image of Barcelona versus Boumsong is a very Messi one.

3) Lack of strength in depth?

In years gone by Lyon had a strong squad with a good balance of attacking and defensive players. This season they look a little short of the quality they had two or three years ago, with the likes of Essien, Malouda (don’t laugh, he was pretty good there) and Ben Arfa. Judging by Lyon’s transfer window targets of Charles N’Zogbia and Julien Faubert, OL have set their sights a little lower in terms of the players they can attract (they still didn’t manage to buy those two). Fred also appears to be on his way out of the club.

PREDICTED OUTCOME

I may as well not have bothered with this bit, right? Even if Barca are ultimately the winners, I expect a good match of football between these two.  The two-legged affair should be more watchable than some of the typically stale meetings between Europe’s elite clubs.

 

P.


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