With international football dominating this week we have a continental round up to kick things off with one story from each continent (minus Antarctica – if there was any football going on there and I missed it, my heartfelt apologies). We then follow up with some more stories you probably don’t know about, the old favourite Goal of the Week and my new addition Stat of the Week. We round things of with a Top Ten that confirms who are the Copa Libertadores biggest Charlie Sheens (winners)? We start as usual with a follow-up from last week.
Last week’s stories
Deportivo Pereira celebrated (well comiserated) their 1st anniversary since their last win with a 2-2 draw against Independeinte Medellin which they followed up with defeat to Atlético Huila on Wednesday, 35 games and counting. England won in Cardiff as expected, so Wales should really consider moving those games to Wrexham. The cause of Liberian footballer Patrick Doeplah’s death is still a mystery, no news on the autopsy as yet. IturbeWatch: Didn’t watch the little man on Saturday as his game clashed with Paraguay’s friendly, but his team lost. They also lost on Wednesday night with substitute Iturbe having little impact. Thinking of moving the watch to somebody new.
This week’s stories
OFC – Aussie Aussie Aussie
Technically they’re not part of the OFC anymore but I had to focus on Australia by default as no current OFC teams played. It was one of the best friendlies of the round. Trailing in Mönchengladbach to a Mario Gomez goal it seemed like Germany were going to rack up their 5th consecutive home game without defeat. Then Carney and Luke Wilkshere struck in just 3 minutes to turn the game on its head and record the Socceroos first ever win over Germany. In their previous three games against Germany they’d conceded 11 goals including the 4-0 thrashing at last year’s World Cup. Germany have now failed to beat the last three non-UEFA teams they have faced at home (the others being Argentina and Ivory Coast)
UEFA – Hot Holland
First from Europe we need to mention that David Villa scored twice on Saturday to become Spain’s all-time goalscorer as I promised I’d mention it last week if he made it. But the game of the week was Holland’s midweek match against Hungary. Holland led, then Hungary, then Holland again until they were pegged back at 3-3. Enter Dirk Kuyt with a brace to seal a 5-3 victory in Amsterdam. The Dutch haven’t lost in 90 minutes now since September 2008 against Australia!
AFC -Kuwait the bigger neighbour
No competitive internationals but the closest thing to that is surely an Iraq vs Kuwait ‘friendly’. It was a case of David vs Goliath as the tiny oil-rich nation beat their larger neighbours by one goal to nil in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. It came after just 2 minutes from Amar Ad Fadhel and sealed Kuwait’s first win over Iraq (excluding a penalty shoot out victory in a friendly) for 10 matches. The last time they won was in Kuwait City in 1987.
CAF -From Barefoot Pioneers to Black Stars
Ghana went from Congo to England looking to become first African team to win at Wembley, in fact the first African team to ever beat England. They were certainly better prepared than when they turned up in 1951 (then Gold Coast) and played barefoot! Despite the footwear this time round they couldn’t manage a win instead New Wembley saw it’s 4th draw, the only other team to draw 1-1 at New Wembley are Brazil. Full stats for England at New Wembley: Pld 23 W 16 D 4 L 3 GF 59 GA 19.
CONMEBOL – Uruguay thaw out in Ireland
The major news may have been Messi’s last-minute withdrawal in Costa Rica (after the AFA had promised their Costa Rican counterparts he would play) but let’s look at World Cup Semi-Finalists Uruguay. In -8c they lost away to Estonia, the temperatures were surely to blame as the team ranked 82nd in the world were on a 7-game winless streak that included a home draw against Liechtenstein in their previous game in Tallin. But the Uruguayans bounced back in Dublin with a 3-2 win and goals from Lugano, Edinson Cavni (who missed the Estonia game) and Abel Hernandez. We now all know that the tactic to beat Uruguay (or any other South American nation) is of course play them in the snow.
CONCACAF – Mexico rely on ‘home’ comforts
Mexico played their 2nd and then 3rd consecutive ‘home’ fixture in the United States, firstly blowing away Paraguay in Oakland with three goals in the first half, two of which were from Javi Hernandez. In San Diego they drew against Venezuela which means having had a 100% record against the Vinotinto (7 wins from 7) they have now drawn in the teams’ last two meetings. Their next game is a friendly against Ecuador….in Seattle.
Colombian Coffin in Cucuta
Two weeks ago during the chaos in San Lorenzo a fan was snapped with a TV in his arms as he ran up the stands. In Italy a few years back I remember a scooter found its way into the terraces but this week is the first I’ve ever heard of a coffin entering a stadium. It wasn’t empty either, in fact it contained the remains of Christopher Jácome a 17-year-old member of the Cucuta Barrabrava (hooligan element) who had been killed while playing football the previous weekend. Stewards had no way of stopping the 2.000 plus crowd who surrounded the coffin.
Paraguay stadium shootings
On Sunday hours before the Olimpia vs 3 de Febrero match a group of teenage Olimpia fans walked to the national stadium to cheer on their team. But one fan, 16-yr-old Gabriel Franco, didn’t make it to the game as he was gunned down in a drive by shooting by a convicted criminal with links to the hooligans of rivals Cerro Porteño. Thankfully he survived but at the time of writing Franco is still in a critical condition. The suspects were identified by CCTV and the shooter (who claimed to be high at the time) but not the driver of the motorbike have been arrested. On Wednesday night after Cerro Porteños match a group of Olimpia fans also under the influence of drugs were arrested after shooting in the air just one road away from the Franco incident, in a suspected revenge attack. The Paraguayan government has vowed to increase police presence in and around the stadium for this weekend’s games.
Football back in Japan
After seeing the J-League suspended for last month because of the tragic earthquake Japanese football fans finally had a game to watch on Tuesday. The Japan national team took on a J-League select including several national players. The Blue Samurai won 2-1 against the All-Star XI with the 15 million Yen raised from the game going to charity to help the victims of the earthquake. This followed news from Germany last week that Bayern Munich will play a charity game in Japan once the Bundesliga is finished.
Goal of the Week
Rodolfo Gamarra’s lob to beat Cerro Porteño was pretty good but there has been enough Paraguay/South America news so I’m going for that screamer that saw Spain suffer in the sand (for about 15 minutes) from Lithuania’s Stankevicius.
Stat of the Week
3.22 – Arsenal’s average goals per game against Blackburn at home in the Premier League since 2000. They play each other on Saturday at 17:30 (BST).
Top Ten of the Week
In March we had stats involving the FA Cup, Premier League, Champions League and Bundesliga so I felt it was time to move continents. This week it is the Copa Libertadores and the Top Ten Winners or Charlie Sheens if you will (not of the competition but of individual games).
=9. São Paulo (Brazil) – 77 wins
=9. Bolívar (Bolivia) – 77
8. Colo Colo (Chile) – 84
7. América de Cali (Colombia) – 89
6. Cerro Porteño (Paraguay) – 93
5. Olimpia (Paraguay) – 102
4. Boca Juniors (Argentina) – 117
3. Nacional (Uruguay) – 141
= 1. River Plate (Argentina) – 144
= 1. Peñarol (Uruguay) – 144
So Peñarol’s win last night against Godoy Cruz was important it takes them to the joint top for the number of wins in the Copa Libertadores. A nice spread of countries in the list as well with 2 representatives from Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay while Colombia, Chile, Bolivia and Brazil all field one team. Next week a final Top Ten before I take a wedding-enforced holiday!
By Ralph Hannah