Weekly Top Tens – 28 Oct 2011

Previous Week’s stories

The AFC Champions League final will see Jeonbuk Motors play Al Sadd after yesterday’s semi-final 2nd legs saw the side playing at home progress.

ITURBEWATCH: Injured.

NEYMARWATCH: Scored the opener in Santos 1-1 draw with Flamengo last weekend.

This week’s stories

Farfan celebrates century in style

Peruvian international Jefferson Farfan capped his 100th Schalke appearance with a lung busting run and finish, the only goal of the game. It is the second time he has reached 100 games at a club having also surpassed three figures at previous club PSV Eindhoven. He began his career in his native city of Lima with Alianza Lima.

San Lorenzo fans attack player

In Argentina the relegation-threatened San Lorenzo have seen things go bad to worse this week. What was meant to be a clear-the-air talk between three players with members of the barrabrava (the organised fans or hooligans depending on your point of view) turned into a confrontation. Midfielder Bottinelli was kicked by an angry ‘fan’ amid allegations he had verbally abused a fan after the weekend defeat. In light of Wednesday’s incident the team’s home game has been postponed this week due to concerns over the player’s safety.

Ariel Ortega set for River Plate return

No, he hasn’t had a revival in his playing career but the ex-Argentina star is still playing in the Primero Metro B with Defensores del Belgrano. The third tier club have been drawn with River Plate in the re-born Copa Argentina having beaten Almargo in the previous round.

Runaway dog in Colombia

During the Copa Sudamericana game between Santa Fe and Botafogo, play was held up for a few minutes when a Colombian canine entered the field of play. Despite player’s and officials best attempts to stop the mischievous mutt it took a while to coax him into leaving so the game could continue.

 

Bust-up in Bucharest Derby

Monday night saw Steaua and Rapid clash in the Bucharest derby with the latter looking to win to within a victory of league leaders Dinamo Bucharest. The game finished in a goalless draw but was not without incident as three players saw red as a brawl broke out midway through the second half. The result means Steaua only have one win in eight derbies compared to three for Rapid.

I-League underway

In India the I-league kicked off last week and it was a good weekend for Nigeria’s Odafa Okolie who scored all three goals for Mohun Bagan as they beat Pailan Arrows, he then added one more this week. There was a defeat for the defending champions, Salgaocar, while Mumbai FC won their derby against Air India, 4-1. But in the second round this week, Salgaocar bounced back with a 4-0 win while Mumbai FC lost by the same score to Dempo who are now joint top with Mohun Bagan.

Paraguayan pushers

Refereeing standards in Paraguay have been highly criticised in recent weeks and last Sunday saw some interesting scenes across the games. In the General Caballero vs Nacional fixture the heavy-handed referee pushed a home player to allow the Apertura champions the chance to take a quick free kick. In the Tacuary vs Libertad game the referee, Ulises Mereles, was also accused of pushing a player before booking him twice and not sending him off. It was the second time he had done so because in 2010 the same thing occurred and he was suspended for 3 months. Mereles was accused earlier this year of showing his middle finger to a member of coaching staff who disputed one of his decisions.

Pyunik finally finish second

In a previous blog we discovered that Pyunik Yerevan were on the joint best run in Europe in terms of consecutive championships. That streak came to an end this week as their city rivals Ulysses grabbed the trophy for the first time. It leaves Pyunik five short of the record for most consecutive titles held by Tafea FC in Vanuatu (1994-2009).

Stat of the Week

7 – the number of Copa Sudamericana Quarter finalists who played their second leg at home in the last 16, LDU Quito the odd ones out. In 2010 it was six while in 2009 it was only two.

Goal of the Week

We return to Romania and this great turn and shot from a tight angle by Alexandru Buhusi – it was the only goal of the game as Petrolu Ploiesti defeated Astra in the Cup.

Top Ten of the Week

Jonathan Wilson has been looking at competitiveness in recent weeks and the mention of the number of clubs to win the English top division in a decade seemed the perfect basis for a Top Ten. So here it is.

10. 1980-89 – 4 different winners

=6. 1990-99 – 5

=6.  1890-99 – 5

=6. 1910-19 – 5

=6. 1930-39 – 5

=3. 1900-09 6

=3. 1950-59 6

=3.  1970-79 6

2. 1920-29 – 7

1. 1960-69 – 8

So there it is, the swinging sixties saw eight different clubs win the league (Burnley, Spurs, Ipswich, Everton, Liverpool, Man Utd, Man City and Leeds) which is a far cry from the last decade when just three clubs won it (the least ever). One point to note about the 1910-19 decade is that only six seasons were played due to the First World War so five winners is the same ratio as the sixties.

By Ralph Hannah

Twitter: @paraguayralph

Posted in Weekly Top Tens | Leave a comment

Top Tens of the Week – 21 Oct 2011

Last Weeks Stories

Not much to round-up on as it was mostly international chat, except to mention that Van Dijk did grab another goal for Adelaide United the only one as they beat Melbourne at home.

THE CHIQUI BOYS (Episode 2) - it’s here with reviews of Paraguay’s qualifiers and a look at the next big thing to hit Europe’s shores…

NEYMARWATCH: Having sat out the weekend games suspended, it took him just 15 minutes to get on the score sheet on Wednesday as they beat Botafogo 2-0.

ITURBEWATCH: Needed surgery on his elbow, poor guy, unsure how long he will be out of action for.

This Weeks Stories

Tevez Shirts Trashed

A UK-based Betting company has given fans from both sides of Manchester the chance to ditch their Tevez shirts in a red and blue dustbin truck that was roaming the streets of the English city earlier this week.

Record-breaking winning streak: Coritiba

Coritiba Foot Ball Club were handed a Guinness World Records certificate this week, officially recognising the longest ever winning streak across all competitions. Between February and May the Brazilian side won 24 straight games in the Paranaense State Championships and Brazilian Cup scoring 74 goals and conceding just 16. I imagine it will be a while until we see somebody break that record!

Grondona not out the door yet

Another election, another landslide victory, not a single person voted against Julio Grondona’s re-election in the same week another footballing dictator, Nicolas Leoz at CONMEBOL, was put in charge of the 2014 World Cup committee. No comment.

Almost record-breaking goal: Apostolos Vellios

When the 19-year-old Greek striker came on for Everton he wasted just 8 seconds before turning  a Drenthe cross into the net. Fastest goal ever as a substitute in the Premier League? No! He was two seconds off ex-Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner who had achieved this feat in the North London derby against Spurs in December 2007.

Sudamericana shocks and controversies

Flamengo lined up for their Last 16 1st leg against Universidad de Chile with plenty of stars as they planned to take the competition seriously. But Ronaldinho, Thiago Neves and Deivid up front could do nothing as their goalkeeper scored an own goal after 14 minutes. Things got worse as two midfielders departed by the half hour, Argentine Bottinelli with a broken foot and Airton a red card. The ‘new’ Alexis Sanchez (well his replacement in the national side at least) scored twice in the 2nd half, Eduardo Vargas is looking like a very good player. By full time it was 4-0 and Uni. de Chile (who had been reduced to 10 men on 50 minutes themselves) are all but through to the Quarter Finals where they will meet Arsenal. The Buenos Aires side edged past a spirited Olimpia side with a late goal which replays showed to be offside.

Utd to get the better of City?

The eagerly awaited Manchester derby this weekend should be a very closely fought battle, yet the Euro Club Index suggests that Man Utd have a 65% chance of winning compared to City’s 11% chance, putting the draw at 24%. It is a similar story with the league probabilities, United are currently huge favourites with a 61% chance of winning compared to City’s 17.9% – I wonder how much that will change if the blue-half get a victory tomorrow and open up a five point gap? At the moment the index suggests Utd will finish 11 points clear of their rivals!

World Cup hosts the homes of competition

The Guardian’s Jonathan Wilson has come up with an interesting insight into the most competitive leagues, taking 10 leagues around the world he looked at the points gap in the leagues over the last ten years. While the Premier League finds itself relatively uncompetitive (when looking across all 20 teams) it is Brazil and Russia that have had the most closely fought leads over the last decade. More here.

CONCACAF Champions League reaches knockouts

The group stages came to a close this week in the CONCACAF Champions League, of the eight sides through to the Quarter Finals four were Mexican, three from MLS and just Metapan of El Salvador representing the rest of the region. It is the best-ever MLS showing since the tournament took on its current format in 2008/09, Mexico regularly field four sides in the Quarter Finals.

Goal of the Week

I’m handing it to Luis Fabiano for this classy chest control and finish, his first goal for São Paulo, it was the winner in Copa Sudamericana against Libertad

Stat of the Week

1147 – the number of minutes Bayern Munich kept a cleansheet until Napoli’s ‘goal’ in the Champions League, of course it was an own goal so technically nobody has scored past Munich since Igor De Camargo’s header in their Bundesliga Opener.

Top Ten of the Week

I’ve nicked this from the Arsenal website who put the following table up as part of this article on fastest goals this week – it looks at the ten fastest Champions League Goals, the fastest this week – Toni Kroos for Bayern Munich after 2 minutes.

10. Cristian Gimenez (BASEL vs Man Utd, 2002/03) – 31.04 secs

9. Deco (PORTO vs Molde, 1999/00) – 30.08

8. Alexandros Alexoudis (PANATHINAIKOS vs Aalborg BK, 1995/96) – 28.46

7. Mariano Bombarda (WILLEM II vs Sparta Prague, 1999/00) – 28.21

6. Dejan Stankovic (INTER MILAN vs Schalke, 2010/11) – 25.54

5. Marek Kinci (Club Bruge vs RAPID VIENNA, 2005/06) – 25.20

4. Clarence Seedorf (FC Schalke vs AC MILAN, 2005/06) – 21.06

3. Alessandro Del Piero (Man Utd vs JUVENTUS, 1997/98) – 20.12

2. Gilberto Silva (PSV Eindhoven vs ARSENAL, 2002/03) – 20.07

1. Roy Makaay (BAYERN MUNICH vs Real Madrid, 2006/07) – 10.12

So Roy Makaay holds the record by almost 10 seconds and his goal is one of two that occurred in the knockout stages (with Dejan Stankovic’s), the rest were all group games. Funnily enough 4 of the top 5 other than Makaay’s were scored by the away side, but apart from Gilberto’s goal for Arsenal the other three sides didn’t go on to win. Overall the fast goals brought the following results for their teams: Pld 10 W 4 D 1 L 5 GF 23 GA 22 and only one game (Panathinaikos vs Aalborg) saw under 2.5 goals.

By Ralph Hannah

Twitter: @paraguayralph

Posted in Weekly Top Tens | 1 Comment

Top Tens of the Week – 14 Oct 2011

Round up from last week

The South American qualifiers got off to a rather predictable start with all four home sides winning in the opening round but on Tuesday night we saw Colombia win in La Paz for the first time, Venezuela beat Argentina for the first time and Uruguay seconds away from their first win in Asunción in the Qualifiers (although there was a record in that game, see below)

NEYMARWATCH: Silly Billy award goes to the Santos man this week, booked and then booked again for ironically applauding the referee as the Peixe crashed to a 2-1 defeat.

ITURBEWATCH: Juan Manuel took advantage of the international break to take his girlfriend around Rome and gave us plenty of photos via his Twitter Feed while using the same medium to emphatically deny rumours Luis Suarez spent the night with his ex-girlfriend. “That old bird was never my girlfriend” he tweeted.

This Weeks Stories

Forlan finds record while Roque continues to wait

The Paraguay vs Uruguay game saw both Diego Forlan and substitute Roque Santa Cruz one-goal away from being the all-time top goal scorer for their respective countries. While Forlan found his 32nd strike at international level, Roque was denied by a fantastic save from Fernando Muslera and remains on 25 goals.

Niger are new boys thanks to Bafana blunder

There were bizarre goings on in Africa as the South African side played for a draw not realising that it would put them out on Head to Head which was the tiebreaker rather than goal difference as they thought. It meant the bafana bafana’s 0-0 draw with Sierra Leone wasn’t enough and Niger go into their first ever African Nations Cup which is missing some big names – Egypt, Nigeria, Cameroon and Togo are all absent. Ivory Coast and Ghana will be the favourites to lift the trophy in Gabon/Equatorial Guinea.

New method sees Maradona voted best player in the world again

The fabulous Football Pantheon has come up with their 100 greatest players of all time, they looked at Ability, Club Career, International Career to give each player a score. As expected the 1-2 was Maradona and Pele with the Argentine pipping the Brazilian 100 to 99 in ability, interestingly Maradona’s 1 World Cup to Pele’s three still saw him outscore his rival 90 to 84 and only in club career did Diego lose out 79 to 81. To have a browse through the full list take a peek here. 

Holders out in South America

The Copa Sudamericana holders Independiente crashed out of this year’s tournament despite winning their second leg 1-0 in Avellanada. LDU Quito had won by two goals in Ecuador and progress to the Quarter Finals where they await the winner of Libertad (Paraguay) against Rivaldo’s São Paulo. It also means Boca Juniors still hold the record of being the only team to have retained the trophy (2004/2005).

Van Dijk continues to rule in Australia

The A-League is now in the second week with today’s game that saw Adelaide Utd bounce back from an opening day defeat to overcome Melbourne Victory 1-0. The goal was from Dutch-born Indonesian Sergio Van Dijk who finished top scorer for the South Australia unit in last year’s tournament with 17 goals in 30 games. It comes after two successful seasons at Brisbane Roar where he managed 12 and 13 goals respectively.

Greece growing at right time

The Greeks qualified for the European Championships on the back of a 16-game unbeaten  streak, a new national record, having beaten Georgia 2-1 away. In fact the last defeat was their final group match of the 2010 World Cup against Argentina, since then the full record reads Pld 16 W 10 D 6 L 0 GF 19 GA 8

Ecuador turn a corner

Ecuador’s Copa America finished in the group stages with a 4-2 defeat to Brazil, it was their 10th game of 2011 and they still hadn’t won a game. On Tuesday night they beat Jurgen Klinsmann’s United States 1-0 in a friendly in New Jersey to record their fifth straight victory since the Copa America. Admittedly three of the games were in the altitude of Quito but along with the US victory they had also overcome Costa Rica in San Jose. A stern test awaits in their next game, Paraguay in Asunción where Ecuador have visited 10 times and lost every single game, the last meeting in 2007 was a 5-1 reverse.

Egypt Cup Final ends in nasty scenes

ENPPI a football club born from the Egyptian Gas & Oil company in Cairo won their second Egyptian Cup on Tuesday night beating Zamalek in the final. Despite being a goal down the underdogs turned the match around to win 2-1. After the game it was too much for Zamalek’s attacking midfielder Shikabala who went for a photographer quietly snapping away and fans were seen setting fire to the stadium. El-Ahly have won the trophy the most times, 35.

Stat of the Week

425 – minutes had passed since Paraguay’s competitive goal when Richard Ortiz finally netted for the Albirroja.

Goal of the Week

Ronaldinho spanks home this free kick for Brazil against Mexico - classic.

Top Ten of the Week

For the first time ever I have a guest Top Ten, I read Steven’s (not Mirko’s) excellent Sprit of Mirko blog regularly and this week he put up the top average attendances at Euro 2012 qualifying which I’m repeating here. Go to his site for a more in-depth look at the qualifying attendance figures or if you are just interested in the myriad of stats he has there.

10. Russia – 36,443 average attendance

9. Georgia – 36,600

8. Austria – 37,660

7. Turkey – 41,800

6. Netherlands – 41,855

5. Ireland – 42, 551

4. Scotland – 43, 475

3. Germany – 53, 528

2. France – 65, 152

1. England – 77, 071

So despite the eternal doom and gloom surrounding Capello’s England they are by far the best supported team, not too much surprise that France and Germany follow. A good showing in general from the home nations with Scotland in fourth and Wales are in 16th. Incredible that Georgia (population 4.4 million) outdid their neighbours Russia (141 million) that is some patriotism! Also where were the big boys, Spain (just 18,524 on average), Italy (18,573) at least Portugal came 13th with 29,940 turnout on average.

By Ralph Hannah

@paraguayralph

Posted in Weekly Top Tens | Leave a comment

Top Tens of the Week – World Cup Qualifying Special

With the World Cup Qualifiers getting underway later today in my home continent I thought we’d have a feature on the upcoming match ups and some historicals stats and great games from the more recent CONMEBOL Qualifiers.

If you would prefer a video preview (and a predicting hamster amongst other things) then check out my new show with Sergio Lahaye, The Chiqui Boys Episode 1

While I’m flagrantly selling myself, how about my preview for The Elastico on the World Cup Qualifiers and also who was the one Paraguayan to make it into Goal.com’s 10 to Watch in CONEMBOL Qualifiers

NEYMAR WATCH: He plans to chop off his mohawk – probably for the best.

This week’s stories

Chile enter room 101

Chile have never won in Buenos Aires in 101 years, Argentina have only ever lost two World Cup Qualifiers at home and one, arguably, was because Maradona wasn’t playing the other because he was managing. With no Alexis Sanchez for Chile and the albiceleste rocking under new manager Alejandro Sabella the result should be a done deal. Do watch out for Eduardo Vargas though, Sanchez’s replacement on the wing who could be brought on as a super sub. Lionel Messi is set to captain Argentina, will that be enough to bring the Barça out in him?

Uruguay’s whipping boys

Bolivia don’t enjoy Montevideo, the last time they scored a goal there in a World Cup Qualifier was 1993 when they lost 2-1. Since then they’ve lost 1-0 twice and the last two games have ended 5-0 to the Celeste. If Forlan and Suarez get going there could be a similar score on the cards. Bolivia will be drawing inspiration from the class of ’77 the only Bolivian side to ever get a point of Uruguay in Montevideo, it finished 2-2 that day I really can’t see a similar scoreline even though they have improved steadily under Gustavo Quinteros.

Peru’s master meets Paraguay’s apprentice

Sergio Markarian coached Chiqui Arce as a player and now they clash in the dugout for the first time ever, Arce says “Markarian is like a father to me” and expects a tight game of tactical cat and mouse. Arce was convinced that there was a spy in the camp or somebody perched in a mango tree (really) this week who was giving the training line ups away but one thing that regularly put tactics out the window is talent. Oscar Cardozo is going to be key.

Venezuela set to crack into Quito fortress

Ecuador rarely lose in Quito but one of two sides to beat them there in the last World Cup Qualifiers was Venezuela in the opening game. Cesar Farias has had the vinotinto altitude specialists training at the dizzy height of 2,983 metres above sea level in Mucuchíes since September. This crack team, lacking many European-based players, will be hoping to repeat their 1-0 victory back in 2007.

A moment to remember Hernan Crespo

Ahhh what a player, even at Chelsea where he was said to have failed, he scored goals like this and one thing he did everywhere other than London was score goals in abundance. He remains the World Cup Qualifiers top goalscorer with 19 strikes ahead of Chilean duo Marcelo Salas (18) and Ivan Zamorano (17).

Valderrama lives on…in paint

The most capped Colombian of all time, Carlos Valderrama was a wonderful player as well as having a great hairstyle, the two time South American Player of the Year was last seen managing Junior Barranquilla in 2007 – I really don’t know what he has been up to since then. His memory does live on via this website Valderramarama - if anybody knows where the real Valderrama is (not his paint version) then let me know!

What about Colombia?

They’ve got a day off – with Brazil absent from the qualifiers, being the World Cup hosts of course, it means every round of qualifiers a team will get a day off. Colombia can put there feet up on Friday and concentrate on Tuesday’s clash in La Paz with Bolivia. If you are wondering Brazil are playing Costa Rica in a friendly fresh off their win against Argentina in the ‘Clasico de las Americas’.

Eight’s the limit

No team has ever managed more than 8 goals in a game in the CONEMBOL qualifers – Brazil did so against Bolivia in 1977, I can’t imagine we’ll see any thrashings of that nature this year. Nine is the most goals scored in one game, in a 6-3 (Argentina vs Ecuador, Peru vs Venezuela) and a 7-2 rout by Chile over Colombia. Again none of those results are likely to be repeated in what is set to be the most tightly fought qualifers to date.

 Stat of the Week

15 – The number of CONMEBOL qualifiers participated in by Paraguay – a record.

Goal of the Week Qualifiers

I thought we would delve back in history for some classic South American World Cup qualifying goals, it is impossible to choose the best so here are three from recent years that have stood out (all involving Argentina interestingly).

1. José Luis Chilavert Paraguay vs Argentina 1998 Qualifiers

2. Martin Palermo Argentina vs Peru 2010 Qualifiers

3. Adolfo Valenica Colombia vs Argentina 1994 Qualifiers

Top Ten of the Week

This week I thought it would be fun to look at the top goalscorers in the World Cup Qualifiers since they started in 1934. I took the table from Wikipedia here – some interesting results!

10. Germany (inc. West Germany) – 213 goals in 74 games

9. Belgium – 216 in 113

8. Sweden – 219 in 107

= 6. Spain – 226 in 99

= 6. England – 226 in 92

5. Serbia (inc. Yugoslavia) – 231 in 108

4. Holland – 241 in 105

3. Costa Rica – 243 in 140

2. Australia – 286 in 105

1. Mexico – 376 in 141

So it is the Mexicans who sit top having thrashed so many sides over the years and regularly score over 2.5 goals per game, Australias time in the OFC has also boosted them up the rankings, amazingly England and Spain have scored the same amount of goals in Europe but the topscorers from UEFA are the Dutch averaging 2.29 goals per game. No place for the South Americans although they used to play very few qualifiers pre-1998 World Cup – the leaders are unsurprisingly Brazil with 199 goals.

By Ralph Hannah

@paraguayralph

Posted in South American Football, Weekly Top Tens | Leave a comment

Top Tens of the Week – 30 Sep 2011

Last week’s stories

CONCACAF Champions League was better for US sides, LA Galaxy winning with a 90th minute Juninho goal, Seattle getting a late equaliser and Colorado Rapids winning away. Dallas lost and will face Toronto in final game to see who progresses from that group. Joe Cole now has a goal for Lille in what has been an excellent start.

NEYMARWATCH: Ridiculous tekkers

The Chiqui Boys –  a new football chat show from Paraguay, here is a teaser.

This week’s stories

Rosario’s Record

Dwayne De Rosario of DC United hit a 9-minute hat trick the fastest ever in the MLS, as they stunned Real Salt Lake 4-1. The Canadian midfielder, winner of four MLS titles and one Champions League, also got the assist for the fourth goal earning him MLS player of the week.

Jeonbuk and Dong hit six

The AFC Champions League Quarter Final second leg’s took place this week and on Tuesday Jeonbuk Motors thumped Cerezo Osaka 6-1 to qualify 9-5 on aggregate. Veteran striker Lee Dong-Gook struck four times in Korea to take his tally for the tie to six having scored twice in the away game. He now has nine for the tournament and is the competition top scorer. In the Semi Finals Jeonbuk will line up against Saudi side Al Itthiad who beat Seoul FC. The only other Korean representative is Suwon Bluewings who tackle Qatar’s Al Sadd both teams defeating Iranian adversaries in the last 8 to progress.

Universidad de Chile break record

Nine victories in their opening nine games earned Universidad de Chile a new Chilean league record for the best start to a season, the run came to an end on Wednesday with a 1-1 draw against Santiago Wanderers. One of the key men in the record run is winger Eduardo Vargas, the 21-year-old has scored six times in his last six games and is set to play for the national side with Barcelona star Alexis Sanchez injured.

Luque lost on the road

Paraguayan side Luque were not expected to beat Libertad away from home on Wednesday, but then again they are not expected to beat anybody away from home these days. It is now 24 games since Sportivo Luqueño have tasted victory away from the Feliciano Caceres, that was to Tacuary on 11 September 2010. The full run looks like this Pld 23 W 0 D 9 L 15 GF 12 GA 36. Home sweet home hey.

St.Anns are no better

So you thought Luque were on a bad run, over in Trinidad & Tobago St.Ann’s Rangers drew 3-3 in Tunapuna on Tuesday. That is now 11 games without a victory (home & away) including nine losses, in fact their record in the last 16 games includes 1 win, two draws, 13 defeats. Fortunately they have no game until October 18th to try to get things right.

African Nations moves South

South Africa was confirmed as the 2013 African Nations hosts with original choice Libya asking to swap due to the ongoing war. South Africa were due to host in 2017 but they’ll take the tournament while Libya will take the championships in 6 years time. It isn’t the first time South Africa have acted as a Plan B, they took cricket’s IPL for a year when India was rocked by terrorist attacks. Just to confuse matters the next African Nations is 2012 in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, but the idea is to move it to odd years to avoid clashes with the World Cup.

Pastore’s crossbar challenge

A French version of an old favourite, you’re allowed to place the ball on the edge of the centre-circle (controversial)  - Javier Pastore and a couple of pals make it look easy (thanks as ever to 101 Great Goals for the clip).

Super Swedes Helsingborg

10 points ahead with three games to go means that Helsingborg are Allsvenskan champions, the seventh different winner in as many years, with the best attacking and defensive record of the teams it is easy to see why. Their topscorer to date is Rasmus Jonsson, since signed by Wolfsburg, with just 9 strikes as the goal scoring duties have been shared round the team. The league’s top marksman is Mattias Ranégie at Malmö with 21 goals, 18 of them scored at previous club Häcken.

Goal of the Week 

I try to stay away from the big leagues here but, Ronaldo and Real Madrid’s counter attack was poetry in motion.

Stat of the Week

o.70 – Messi’s goal per game ratio in La Liga, Mario Kempes (who he has overtaken in the Argentine in La Liga scoring charts) averaged 0.57

Top Ten of the Week

I’m actually updating an old one here, with the unusual sight of four Englishmen contributing five goals in the Champions League I thought we should see who are the top scoring Englishmen of all-time in the Champions League.

10. Teddy Sheringham (Man Utd) – 8 goals

9. Theo Walcott (Arsenal) – 9

8. Michael Owen (Liverpool, Real Madrid, Man Utd) – 11

7. Peter Crouch (Liverpool, Tottenham) – 13

6. David Beckham (Man Utd, Real Madrid) – 15

5. Andy Cole (Man Utd) -18

4. Steve Gerrard (Liverpool) – 19

3. Frank Lampard (Chelsea) – 20

2. Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) – 24

1. Paul Scholes (Man Utd) – 25

Danny Welbeck, Ashley Young and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain became the 62nd, 63rd and 64th English goalscorers respectively, there have now been a total of 289 English goals in the Champions League. Three other English players have scored against Basel (Michael Owen, Gary Neville and Danny Murphy), Frank Lampard is only the second Chelsea player to score against Valencia, the first was Joe Cole. Oxlade-Chamberlain was the 12th Englishman to score against Greek opposition in the tournament, Tony Adams and Martin Keown the other Gunners to do so.

By Ralph Hannah

@paraguayralph

Posted in Weekly Top Tens | Leave a comment

Top Tens of the Week – 23 September 2011

No blog last week due to busy times – I was interviewing Chiqui Arce about his plans to be the Brazil of South America (errr…you get the point), you can see a write up here.

This week we’ve got Diego Maradona kicking people, Romario scoring with his eyes closed and if the Premier League adopted the Argentine relegation system who would be heading for the drop?

This week’s stories

Maradona kicks a fan

You would think Diego Maradona is used to people trying to get a glimpse of him but he just couldn’t control himself when a fan kept ruining his photo opportunity by lifting up Maradona’s banner. Check his well aimed (naturally) left footed kick here.

Joe Cole on song

Not only did he give his new Lille teammates a rendition of “Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner” but he also went on a mazy run for a great assist in his first game, all rolled into this video clip here!

A game of better halves

In Turkey, Fenerbahce have come up with a novel solution to the hooligan problem in their stadium. After a ban was imposed for a pitch invasion by Ultras – Fenerbahce proposed they only allowed women and children under 12 to attend the game. An estimated 41.000 women and children attended the league match with Manisaspor in a move that is expected to be repeated by other clubs who suffer a similar problem. What an excellent solution to the persistent problem of hooliganism.

Cavani calling shots

Cavani’s hat trick for Napoli was, according to FIFA.com, the first scored against AC Milan since Gabriel Batistuta in 1998. It was Cavani’s fourth hat trick of 2011 and takes him to four goals in the season having scored the equaliser against Man City last week. Of course, Cavani’s hat trick exploits are no match for Mario Gomez in Germany, he managed consecutive trebles in his last two league games, actually getting four in the second game against Freiburg.

Bad week for USA on the continent

A quartet of American sides played in the CONCACAF Champions League this week and all four slumped to defeat. On Tuesday Seattle Sounders were undone at home by Costa Rica’s Herediano 1-0, despite having beaten the Central American’s last week in Costa Rica. On Wednesday it was the turn of Dallas, who are now on a five game winless streak, beaten by Mexican champions Pumas 2-0 in Texas. Colorado Rapids also crumbled at home to Honduran’s Real España with Gary Smith’s side losing 2-1 thanks to a double from veteran Carlos Pavon who netted his 100th goal for the club with his opening strike. Finally David Beckham’s LA Galaxy suffered a surprise defeat in Costa Rica to Alajuelense by the smallest of margins, Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane but it was Pablo Antonio Gabas of Argentina who got the solitary goal his 2nd of the season.

U17s get going in Asia

The AFC U17 championships qualifiers have come to and end (except for one group) and last week saw  some big wins – Indonesia steamrolled Guam 17-0 after South Korea had won 8-0 against Chinese Taipei. The hapless Guam outfit then got hit for 10 by Australia and after four games had conceded 42 goals. Thailand and North Korea are the only two sides to have 100% records after the first four games.

Romario scores with his eyes closed

The old adage says ‘I could do it with my eyes closed’ and that is often applied to instinctive strikers but until now I’ve never seen somebody put their money where their mouth is (or blindfold where their eyes are) – Romario has, and he really can score with his eyes closed, thanks to 101 Great Goals for this video which is also where I bought you Maradona’s outburst!

FIFA Rankings released

Although they don’t make sense collectively, I think the FIFA Rankings are pretty useful for looking at an individual side’s performance. For example Uruguay are at their highest position (4th) since the rankings began and that makes sense, they are probably enjoying their best period since the 1950 World Cup final. Other teams at their highest ever position are Bosnia (22nd), Hungary (27th), Armenia (44th), Estonia (58th) and Belize (133rd). The big losers were Moldova who dropped 34 places to 122nd, they lost three on the bounce to Cyprus, Finland and Hungary in the last month.

Goal of the Week

There have been a few good ones owing to the midweek games, my favourite has to be this freekick from Santi Cazorla, a player I love watching anyway

Stat of the Week

72 – the number of Brazilian players who started in UEFA competitions last week, the most of any nation. For a full list check the excellent Spirit of Mirko blog.

Top Ten of the Week

With Paraguay well into the Clausura the pesky ‘Promedio’ is being mentioned, this is the strange relegation system of ranking sides by points garnered over the last 3 seasons. Of course if a team has recently been promoted only games played in the top division count. This is also the system used in Argentina which famously relegated River Plate earlier this year. If the promedio system was applied to the Premier League this is who would be in trouble.

10. Stoke City – (81 games 101 points) – 1.25 average

9. Fulham (81/98) – 1.21

8. Blackburn (81/97) – 1.20

7. Sunderland (81/96) – 1.19

6. WBA (43/50) – 1.16

5. Bolton (81/88) – 1.09

4. Wolves (81/85) – 1.05

3. Wigan Athletic (81/83) – 1.02

1. Norwich City (5/5) – 1

1. Swansea City (5/5) – 1

The average starts by this year’s three promoted sides mean two of them are staring at the drop but a few wins will pull them off this list quickly enough, it is Wolves and Wigan who really would be in serious danger if this system was imposed with Bolton not far away. Top of the list is of course Manchester United with a 2.22 average, Chelsea  (2.06) are the only other side to average more than 2 points per game while Man City and Arsenal make up the Top 4 with 1.8 and 1.81 points respectively. Tottenham are a touch behind in fifth.

By Ralph Hannah

Twitter: @paraguayralph

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Top Tens of the Week – 9 Sep 2011

Last Week’s Stories

New Caledonia are kings of the Pacific, winning the Pacific Games Final 2-0 against Solomon Islands. Madjer has now got to 79 goals in the Beach Soccer World Cup, Israel scored just two goals in two games (maybe it was the pressure of being top of last week’s Top Ten). ITURBEWATCH: His twitter account suggests he is adapting well to life in Portugal and he had a some Twit-Chat with a judge of “Strictly Come Dancing: Paraguay” reminding everybody how much he love’s home team Cerro Porteño. He isn’t in matchday squad yet.

This Weeks Stories

Rogerio Ceni to 1000

We featured the São Paulo goalkeeper on here before and now, having surpassed 100 goals (scored!), he has now played 1000 career games after Wednesday’s game. In fitting fashion his side won 2-1 against Atletico Mineiro and the 38-year-old has no plans to retire yet. He has won everything with São Paulo and was even a World Champion in 2005 with a great shot stopping display to beat Liverpool.
WCQ: Conmebol

The first of our four qualifying round ups starts in the Caribbean where Haiti played their first home game since the catastrophic earthquake - their team full of foreign-born players beat US Virgin Islands 6-0 and they won away at Curaçao (2-4) to put them joint top in Group F with Antigua. Another team making headlines is Guatemala who won their opening two World Cup Qualifiers for the first time in their history including an away win against Belize. The big boys, USA, Mexico, Costa Rica & Jamaica await in the 2nd group phase.

WCQ: Asia

There were some surprise results in Asia with Japan and Korea being held away at Uzbekistan and Kuwait. Frank Rijkaard’s career with Saudi Arabia has got off to a dismal beginning, a draw away to Oman was followed up by a home defeat to Australia – to put that into context, only their 2nd World Cup Qualifying defeat in Saudi Arabia in 35 games stretching back 30 years.

African Nations Qualifiers: Africa

In Africa the qualification process for the African Cup of Nations is reaching it’s climax, Senegal booked a spot with two goals from Lille’s Moussa Sow and Burkina Faso also progressed thanks to Naimbia’s win over Gambia in Windhoek. There were celebrations and commiserations in Egypt, Libya (playing their home games in the neighbouring country) managed to win 1-0 against Mozambique but the Pharoahs crashed to a 2-1 defeat against Sierra Leone and haven’t qualified to defend the tournament they have won three times consecutively.

Euro2012 Qualifiers: Europe

Italy won 1-0 twice meaning they have only conceded one goal in the qualifiers to date. They have an excellent record in Euro qualifiers, currently 18 games unbeaten with the last defeat coming in Paris against France in 2006. Holland also continue their excellent form with a 11-0 crushing of hapless San Marino whose Euro Qualifying record (following a subsequent 5-0 defeat against Sweden) now reads Pld 55 W 0 D 0 L 55 GF 6 GA 249

Notts to be for Juventus

Juventus opened their new stadium with a game against League One’s Notts County – it was a thank you to the Notts County player who donated the Italian club  some shirts well over 100 years ago. But Juventus’ night was utterly spoiled by Lee Hughes who bagged an equaliser in the dying minutes of the match to silence the sell-out crowd.

Bravo Omar! and Philly Thriller

The veteran Mexican striker, Omar Bravo scored a last minute penalty to earn Sporting Kansas City a 2-2 draw against David Beckham’s LA Galaxy. There was also a last minute equaliser in Philadelphia as Philadelphia Union drew 4-4 with New England Revolution in a thrilling encounter that saw Freddy Adu start the comeback for Philadelphia making it 4-1 in the 56th minute.

Shakira and Pique in Finland

Brazilian striker Marcello Matrone has become famous for his extravagant celebration last week. He imitated Shakira’s Waka Waka dance and even got ‘Pique’ to come and give him a hug! Thanks to 101GreatGoals for the video and for more great celebrations delve into the blog archives here.

Stat of the Week

2.36 – The lowest goals per game in an English top flight season in the 1970/71 season (via @OptaJoe)

Goal of the Week

Hard not to pick a Juninho Pernambuco freekick, so I’ve picked Juninho Pernambuco’s freekick which opened the scoring for Vasco against Coritiba last night.

Top Ten of the Week

I’m working on a pretty expansive Top Ten for next week so for now, we just look at the all-time Premier League leaders with regards to clean sheets. You might be surprised to see who is number 10…

10. West Ham Utd – 161

9. Newcastle Utd – 176

8. Tottenham – 189

7. Blackburn – 207

6. Everton – 228

5. Aston Villa – 231

4. Liverpool – 282

3. Arsenal – 293

2. Chelsea – 305

1. Manchester United – 327

So no surprises to see the top 3 represent the three sides that have won the Premier League the most, Aston Villa, Liverpool and Everton have all been ever-presents too. But I was surprised that West Ham, Newcastle and to some extent Spurs (not known for defensive qualities). More next week!

Ralph Hannah

Twitter: @paraguayralph

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