Posts Tagged ‘prediction’

Challenge Lawro Update – Weeks 27-28

28/02/2010

Lawro good, Football Guy ok, Sportboys bad.

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challenge lawro week 27

Week 27.

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challenge lawro week 28

Week 28.

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A monster couple of weeks for Sportboy P in which he got no incorrect results.

Sportboy T:

Correct Results: 46 (460 points)

Perfect Scores: 13 (390 points)

Wrong results: 67 (-670 points)

Total: 180 points

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Sportboy P:

Correct Results: 58 (580 points)

Perfect Scores: 10 (300 points)

Wrong results: 59 (-590 points)

Total: 290 points

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T.

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Challenge Lawro Update – Weeks 10-15

05/12/2009

It’s been an absolute age since I updated Challenge Lawro. For those that can’t remember, we’re taking on ‘expert’ pundit Mark Lawrenson at the predictions game. Also playing is the Football Guy. 30 points for a perfect score, 10 for a correct result and -10 if you’re wrong. We made a good start but are now lagging behind. The shame…

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Challenge Lawro Week 10

Challenge Lawro Week 10 - Very bad.

Challenge Lawro Week 11

Challenge Lawro Week 11 - Not bad not good.

Challenge Lawro Week 12

Challenge Lawro Week 12 - Bad.

Challenge Lawro Week 12

Challenge Lawro Week 12 - Alright actually.

Challenge Lawro Week 14

Challenge Lawro Week 14 - Quite bad again.

Challenge Lawro Week 15

Challenge Lawro Week 15 - Here's hoping...

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For what it’s worth Sportboy P is slightly more responsible for our shitness as even though he gets less wrong and more right overall, I get more on the money.

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Sportboy T:

Correct Results: 24 (240 points)

Perfect Scores: 8 (240 points)

Wrong results: 36 (-360 points)

Total: 120 points

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Sportboy P:

Correct Results: 30 (300 points)

Perfect Scores: 4 (120 points)

Wrong results: 34 (-340 points)

Total: 80 points

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T.

Season Previews 09/10 – Hull

12/08/2009

hull

Last Season: 17th

Say hello to your new teammates: Seyi Olofinjana, Jozy Altidore, Steven Mouyokolo.

Close the door on your way out: Sam Ricketts, Dean Windass and a few others.

Predicted star: Phil Brown if he has it his way. Looking at Hull’s squad if they can get Jimmy Bullard fit and playing again, he could be the difference between relegation and staying up for another season. At the back Michael Turner will look to make a late bid for England’s World Cup squad. To be honest he’ll probably be doing it at another club though.

"All together now: 'There's only one Phil Brown, he's the best'"

"All together now: 'There's only one Phil Brown, he's the best'"

Needs a big year: One of their strikers, none of whom look like scoring more than five goals. Daniel Cousin would be the most likely.

One to watch: Kamil Zayatte was relatively impressive last season and will look to build on it.

What they want to happen: Stay up. Sign a striker, any striker.

Nightmare scenario: Relegation, Bullard’s knees continue to play up.

Plan A: Play like the first of half of last season, where Geovanni ran the show and every player played like their lives depended on it.

Plan B, just in case: Motivate your players on the pitch, at half time, in front of everyone. Yeah, that’ll work.

Predicted finish: 19th

Why? Last season was the archetypal tale of two halves for Hull. A fantastic start with away wins at Spurs and Arsenal led to 6th place as late as December. It then all went wrong and Hull went winless for at least half the season before just surviving by a point on the last day. Hull fans may deny it but a lot of this was down to Phil Brown’s pitchside half time team talk when 4-0 down at Man City on Boxing Day. I would lose all respect for him as a player if that happened and the longer the season went on, the more Brown would talk rubbish to the media.

Listen up lads, I want to make a point. And win none for the rest of the season...

Listen up lads, I want to make a point. And win none for the rest of the season...

Remember the bizarre rant at Fabregas for coming on the pitch, at full time no less, in his own ground? Or the cringeworthy sing song once survival was achieved. These issues result in Hull’s big problem this summer, the failure to sign anyone good. At least four or five players have publicly turned down Hull and you have to think it’s because Phil Brown is manager. Of the players that have come in Olofinjana was not a big piece for Stoke last year but will provide steel in the middle. Jozy Altidore sounds like a sweet for a sore throat and is not the proven striker they need while Mouyokolo is an unknown quantity.

Overall I can’t see anything but a Hull relegation this time round, even with Bullard fit. I think Turner will move on before the transfer window closes and the players they have are generally just not good enough. They were lucky to have three atrocious teams beneath them last season. They won’t be so lucky in 2009/10.

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T.

Champions League Preview – Real Madrid vs Liverpool

24/02/2009

cl draw

Probably the tie of this round, Real Madrid against Liverpool pits two of the most successful teams in Europe against each other for the first time since the boys from Merseyside beat Los Merengues 1-0 in the 1981 European Cup final.

At the end of 2008 Liverpool were flying high at the top of the Premier League, while Real Madrid were miles behind Barcelona in La Liga and suffered two defeats at the hands of their European rivals Juventus  in the Champions League. Fast forward to 25 February 2009 and the stats tell you that the Reds now trail Manchester United by 7 points while Real Madrid have won 9 consecutive matches and have managed to close the gap to 7 points and put doubts in the minds of Barcelona fans that they will win the league so easily. After hitting 6 past Real Betis at the weekend, Real couldn’t feel more confident.

Nevertheless, let’s not forget that Rafa Benitez has got Liverpool to two Champions League finals, winning one with Djimi Traore in the team. He knows Real Madrid inside out from his time there as a youth coach. Rafa knows more about Spanish football than Real could possibly know about the English game. His analytical preparation and tactics make him the most fearsome of cup coaches. I may sound like I am talking up Rafa Benitez like Indiana Jones does for Marcus Brody in the Last Crusade. Therefore, I hope Rafa doesn’t mistakenly walk into the back of a Nazi truck (which metaphorically means tinker his team into a formation/line-up in hope that he can further boost his credentials as a super tactician).

My point is, Liverpool have beaten the best of Europe over the past few years and will feel confident taking on Real Madrid, especially now baby G has been confirmed in the match squad, even if only one of his legs is working.

 

Respected in Spain

Respected in Spain

Gerard Factor

This is not exactly the most ground-breaking insight into the way Liverpool play but I will repeat it anyway – Gerrard is crucial to Liverpool winning anything. He is their talisman, creator and scorer of important goals and alongside Fernando Torres, the best player in the team.  Having just returned from a short holiday in Spain where I talked with a few futbol fans, I can inform readers that Steven Gerard is a highly respected player over there. Undoubtedly his presence on the pitch for Liverpool will instill some fear into the Real team. If not then there is always Dirk Kuyt’s face.

 

Are you Raul in disguise?

Are you Raul in disguise?

The Legend of Raul

Raul could be referred to as the Steven Gerrard of Real Madrid but that would be tainting the reputation of the man that has recently become Los Merengues’ highest EVER goalscorer. He also happens to be the Champions League top goalscorer EVER with a phenomenal record of 64 goals in 127 matches, 4 more than his horse-headed team mate.

Raul has been back to his top form this season, his 19 goals in 23 games compensating for the loss of Ruud Van Nistelrooy to a freak show jumping accident. Being the only player to have scored in two different Champions League finals, this man knows what the competition is all about. If Real Madrid play well over the two legs, he will have made a crucial contribution.

My personal favourite of all Raul’s goals this season has to be this peach against Zenit St.Petersburg in the Champions’ League group stage.

Expected to break down every few months

Expected to break down every few months

Robben Reliant

Mentally and physically crushed under Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea regime, Arjen Robben has finally realised the quality at Real Madrid which I never doubted he possessed. He is now Los Merengues’ most potent attacking force, terrorising opposition defences down the left hand side or cutting in from the right, as he did to great effect with a recent winner against Villarreal. Liverpool’s full backs are the weakest area of their team and I fully expect Robben to give them a torrid time at the Bernabeu.

I hate to endorse anything that Alex Ferguson has to say but his criticism of Real Madrid being too slow is probably an accurate one. Van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder are not exactly slow but are not the type of players to inject some direct dribbling into a game. If Real go into the second leg playing on the counter, this could prove problematic. Especially considering my next point…

 

Lack of striking options

Raul is on form and Real have a plethora of scorers in their midfield, with the impressive Gonzalo Higuain providing a threat either from the right wing or up front. Nevertheless, with Van Nistelrooy being injured, Real Madrid’s coaching staff may rue the decision to not register Jan Klaas Huntelaar for the Champions League knock-out stages. In tight games such as those we will likely see between Real Madrid and Liverpool, a poacher can make the difference. Ramos, like his predecessor, doesn’t seem to fancy Javier Saviola (who has never been a poacher anyway) so I am not sure where the options lie.

On the other hand, Liverpool could be accused of suffering the same lack of strength in depth up front. Kuyt has scored some decisive goals in important matches this season but will Ngog and El Zhar be able to do the business should Torres get injured? I think not.

 

It didn't work at Spurs but he has solved the mystery at Real

It didn't work at Spurs but he has solved the mystery at Real

Defensive Assessments   – Ramos discipline and the new Makelele

Even the most ardent Real Madrid supporter will tell you that their team hasn’t been that impressive or convincing so far under Juande Ramos. But what he will tell you is that the former Spurs manager has brought discipline, organisation and stubbornness to the side which has allowed them to win nine La Liga games in a row, conceding only two along the way.

The back four of Sergio Ramos, Fabio Cannavaro, Pepe and Gabriel Heinze is finally looking as impressive as the names do on paper. As always, Iker Casillas will provide world class goal keeping and leadership. However, we know good defending depends on the rest of the team doing their part and in Lassana Diarra and Fernando Gago, Real have two midfielders who are able to protect their defence while possessing the highest technical qualities and ability to distribute ably. Comparisons with Liverpool’s Mascherano-Alonso duo are understandable but I think Real have the better two.

The decision to register Diarra for the Champions League over Huntelaar may well be justified should Real progress. I don’t like the dolphin-headed little bastard but he is a world-class player (better than Makelele) that will thrive on the big stage.

 

Shaky Liverpool

Renowned for their tightness under Rafa Benitez, Liverpool’s defensive record has been some-what surprising this season. They have only managed to keep one clean sheet in the past 7 games. The man named by the Football Guy as the Son of Rafa or old man/young man will be called upon and required to meet the high standards of his counterpart at the other end.

I nevertheless expect Liverpool to get ship shape for the ties against Real. There is certainly more pressure on them to come out in the league and Rafa knows the art of two-legged Champions League ties, especially when away from home first.

 

The Call

This is an extremely difficult tie to call, as I don’t think recent form will bear too much on how this encounter plays out. Both clubs have respect for each other but will also be quietly confident. Juande Ramos pitting his wits against Rafa Benitez will be an interesting tete-a-tete of tactical nous represented by funny hand signals.

The fact that the second leg is at Anfield could prove decisive and therefore I will predict that Liverpool will edge this one. A Torres away goal at the Bernabeu is so on the cards that I won’t even claim I said so when it happens.

Here is our 12th player

Here is our 12th player

 

P.

 

Other previews: Chelsea v Juve, Barca v Lyon, Arsenal v Roma, Inter v Man Utd.

Champions League Preview – Chelsea vs Juventus

11/02/2009

draw_1209300c

Having covered three of the eight Champions League ties, this seems to be the poignant moment to analyse Chelsea’s chances of progressing to the Quarter Finals and winning that precious first European Cup title. Not only do the Blues face a rejuventad team that finds itself second in Serie A, they also find themselves manager-less. Here at the Sportboys we like to provide up-to-the minute analysis of the major football news, so posts on the Scolari sacking can be found here.

Only 48 hours after Big Phil’s dismissal, Guus Hiddink has come in at the Bridge until the end of the season. The Dutch wonder manager’s close relationship to Roman Abramovich and previous experience of managing both club and country (PSV and Australia) made this the most likely outcome. He is generally a nice guy and everyone seems to have something nice to say about him. Judging by this video, even the North Koreans love him.

Without going into the debate of whether Scolari should have been sacked, in my mind this is not the best moment to expect a new manager to come in and turn things round. Hiddink may be lauded for his man management skills but he will face a crunch away game against Aston Villa a week Saturday, followed by the first leg against Juventus at the Bridge. That is a very small amount of time to understand the dynamic of the squad and get them in the right frame of mind.

The demands at  Chelsea dictate that third place in the league, seven points behind the leaders, and places in the fifth round of the FA Cup and knockout round of the Champions League are not suffice for a manager to keep his job. Nevertheless, Chelsea remain a team of world class players and Claudio Ranieri will be aware that their recent dip in form will not bear too much on the outcome of the Second Round tie.

Frank, I know how you feel about your physique but trust me this helps

Frank, I know how you feel about your physique but trust me this helps

Hiddink’s Chelsea

Guus will want to come in and judge for himself as to which players are hungry to win for the club and that he can get the best out of for the remainder of the season. How this will translate into terms of formation, tactics and lineups, there doesn’t seem to be too many options in this current Chelsea squad. I would be surprised to see Drogba and Anelka playing together but Guus will need to get the best out of both of them in order to turn the Blues’ season round.

Creative Spark?

Possibly the major challenge for Hiddink will be to make Chelsea a more unpredictable side to play against. It remains to be seen whether an upturn in Deco’s form can be achieved but he could be the key against Juventus should he play. He will be afforded more time on the ball against the Italians despite Ranieri’s awareness that he is the main man. If Joe Cole can regain fitness, he too could give extra edge, either from the centre of the park or the wings. The trump card could be Ricardo Quaresma, who I have already raised my doubts about in a previous post.

I don’t see Hiddink deploying Quaresma in a three man forward-line and my feeling is also that the Dutchman will stick with a 4-5-1, considering Chelsea’s best players favour that lineup. However, if Hiddink has been doing his homework, he may try to change things up by going to a 4-4-2, as he has done with Russia on occasions. Attacking full backs will feature prominently but as we now know, that isn’t enough of a threat to win games without the requisite movement from the rest of the team.

Case for the defence

The biggest gulf in class between Manchester United and Chelsea at the moment is defensively. Ok, United may be on a historic run of clean sheets but Chelsea are conceding way to many goals for a defence that man-for-man is one of the best in the world. Rather than deliberating over man-to-man or zonal systems, Hiddink will simply need to get the back line playing as a proper unit. Carvalho is sorely missed but Guus has worked with Alex before, and that was when he was known as the ‘tank’ (never listen to a man that says someone with the nickname ‘tank’ has no class).

Heartless, I know

Heartless, I know

How hard? Lamp-ard

Fat Frank has been the most consistent performer for Chelsea this season and again will be the main man against Juve. Alongside JT, he makes up the remnants of Ranieri’s Chelsea side of 6 years ago. The Tinkerman will undoubtedly spend half of his pre-match conference telling us how they were ‘great lads’ and avoiding questions as to whether he would like to bring Lamps to Turin and give his career a Beckham-esque Italian challenge. Deep down he knows Lampard’s goals could be the difference, and no, Momo Sissoko won’t be able to mark him out of the game.

The Old Lady of Italian Football

The Old Lady of Italian Football

Juventus – La Vecchia Signora

Following a year’s sabbatical in Serie B, the team from Turin are back in the competition which history dictates they should always be in. This season they really have taken the competition by storm, beating Real Madrid home and away and with the likes of Nedved, Camoranesi and Del Piero still going strong, they will feel confident of going far.

Up to a couple of weeks ago Juve also looked strong in Serie A, taking advantage of a dip in Inter’s form. However, back-to-back defeats against Udinese and Cagliari mean that it looks unlikely they will catch Mourinho’s boys this year, despite retaining second spot a point ahead of Milan.

Ranieri has quietly gone about his business at Juventus, building his own team and spending alot of money on a couple of additions to the squad (Poulsen and Amauri). While the older players remain, there are a few younger Italian faces (Molinaro, Giovinco and Marchionni) ensuring that the next generation emerges to replace the current crop.

alessandro_del_piero_4

The Del Piero Factor

What can you say about this man? He is 34 years old and is still the star of the Juventus team. Last season he was the Capocannoniero of Serie A with 21 goals in 37 matches; this year he has 13 in 25 from all competitions. The British media rave about Ryan Giggs and the Italian press love to do the same about Del Piero. He is the most dangerous free kick taker in the game at the moment, demonstrated by these peaches that were all scored this season. At the heart of the Juventus attack, Chelsea will find it difficult to stop Alex. Obi Mikel will have to be wary of stupid tackles anywhere within 35 yards of the Chelsea goal.

Dearth of attacking talent

Del Piero is still the man but Juve also have potent threats in the shape of Amauri, Iaquinta and Trezeguet. Amauri in particular is having a great season for Juve, scoring 11 in 17 in the league and 2 in 2 in Europe. He is likely to start up front alongside Del Piero. However, having players in Trezeguet and Iaquinta who are both a handful physically and in terms of goal poaching potential, it will be a stern test of Chelsea’s defence under Hiddink.

il_portiere_gigi_buffon_c3a7

Buffon behind a suspect defence

For me, Gigi Buffon remains the best ‘keeper in the world. This isn’t reflected simply by the stupid money that  Man City were reported to be willing to throw at Juve for his services. Rather, Buffon continues to pull off phenomenal saves week-in week-out. This season he has been called upon regularly, as the Bianconieri’s backline struggles to live up to the stinginess of its predecessors. In contrast to Petr Cech’s this season, Buffon is winning games for Juve. Let’s not forget the heartthrobs’s great acting skills either.

Mellberg, Grygera and Legrotallie have not looked the best outfit, although Chiellini remains an important tower and leader. The current Chelsea style of play may make it easier for the Juve defence but should Drogba and Anelka click, I see goals both in London and Turin.

Prediction – Midfield battles

Sissoko and Poulsen give Juventus bite in the centre of the park, so an Essien-less Chelsea will have their work cut out for them. A big performance from Ballack will be key – covering the ground and finding the goal-scoring boots that have evaded him so far this season.

Chelsea are at home first, which should favour them. Nevertheless, that gives Hiddink a short amount of time to get things right. I would not be surprised if he approaches the leg at Stamford Bridge conservatively, thus biding his time for a favoured counter-attacking performance at the Stadio Olimpico. This may play into the hands of Ranieri, who will fancy his team’s chances with a Second Leg onslaught.

The Call

Probably quite an uncontroversial prediction in the current climate but I think Juventus will pip Chelsea. Hiddink won’t be afforded too much blame if so and it would make a fairytale story for Ranieri. On the other hand, who knows with the Tinkerman? Can he prove that his loser moniker is now behind him?

 

P.


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