This is the blog if you want something different from the norm, no Ben Foster retires (who cares), FA probe FIFA corruption (will anybody be surprised if they are found to be corrupt) and definitely no Barcelona win La Liga (again no surprises). But we do have the Chinese FA Cup, an Indonesian club for sale, a truly great goal of the week and a goal from Maradona in Chechnya playing alongside Robbie Fowler!
Last week’s stories
No Flamengo or bees on crossbars in Brazil this week, state championships are over and the proper stuff starts next weekend. Martin Palermo gets his third mention in a row, which is apt has he has now scored 3 goals in 3 games, superclásico this weekend! . ITURBEWATCH: Nothing doing in the league as Cerro Porteño fielded B team but in Copa Libertadores Quarter Final the boy did good coming off the bench to play his part in the build up to the vital away goal as they drew 1-1.
This week’s stories
Donovan keeps scoring
Landon Donovan is enjoying life back in the MLS, the LA Galaxy forward has scored the club’s last five goals! He was on target again on Wednesday night against Philadelphia Union in a 1-1 draw. It puts him second in the top scorer charts one strike behind DC United’s Charlie Davies. If you are wondering how Thierry Henry (I’m now legally obliged to put, Arsenal legend) is getting on he has 4 goals for New York Red Bull albeit two have been from the penalty spot.
Chinese FA Cup drama
With the original FA Cup reaching its climax tomorrow we shouldn’t forget that around the world Football Associations have their own domestic knockout competitions. In China they are in the 2nd round and in Shaanxi the home side, Shaanxi Chanba took on Guanzhou. The game finished 1-1 after extra time and was destined for penalties. A marathon shoot-out took place with the home side finally claiming an 11-10 penalty win. One of the longest shootouts I’ve heard of!
Maradona scores free kick in defeat
A World XI including Maradona, Zamarano, Figo and Robbie Fowler (pushing it?) took on the Chechen team including the President, Ramzan Kadyrov. You may remember a similar story when the 1994 Brazil World Cup squad took on the President’s Select XI. This time the occasion was the inauguration of a new stadium in Grozny and incredibly (if you don’t believe in match fixing) the Chechens ran out famous 5-2 winners with their President scoring a hat-trick. Having said that Maradona did grab a freekick and Zamarano was also on target for the World XI. Maybe the most bizarre part of all though…Craig David was the halftime entertainment. Bonkers.
Milan miss out on elusive double
AC Milan may have wrapped up the Serie A title at the weekend but they couldn’t get their hands on their first ever double, crashing out to Palermo in the Coppa Italia semi finals. Tuesday’s 2nd leg finished 2-2 meaning Palermo progress 4-3 on aggregate and meet Inter in the final who qualified on Wednesday in Zanetti’s 1000th appearance. AC Milan have never won the league and cup double, a feat only achieved by five clubs Torino, Napoli, Lazio, Juventus (twice) and of course Inter who won the double in 2006 before last year’s treble.
Mustard attack in Argentina
Diego Valeri of Lanús lined up to take a corner against Estudiantes at the weekend only to be pelted with a yellow substance that covered his face. It was later reported that he was being attacked with mustard. I have no idea why, but this comes after penguins were thrown on the pitch in an Argentine match earlier in the season! See the footage here (about halfway through).
Club for sale
Last week we had the squad for sale but this week news of a club for sale. The Crazy Lions in Indonesia are available for anybody with a spare $2.3 million. Admittedly that counts me out but it seems a bargain for a football club that won their national league championships last season. I’ll put a million (guaranies) anybody else up for contributing?
Neymar is only 19 but his heir is already on his way…that would be his son. It emerged this week that the Santos star is to become a father in a few months. While Neymar refuses to name the mother it has been rumoured that she is a 17-year-old local girl. In Brazil the age of consent is 14 but somebody under the age of 18 is still considered a minor.
The mother of early baths
In the J-League we saw what can only be described as a rush of stupidity to the head. Takahiro Masukawa decided he’d had enough after just 5 seconds as he pulled down his opponent clear through on goal after mis-controlling the ball. The Nagoya Grampus player had no place to hide as the referee gave him his marching orders.
Stat of the Week
8 – number of consecutive season Ibrahimovic has now finished with a league winner’s medal. The list of clubs is Ajax, Juventus (2), Inter Milan (3), Barcelona and now AC Milan.
Goal of the Week
I love when a plan comes together. When the plan involves a rabona and overhead kick it is even better, like this goal by Sialmas for PAS Giannina against Ethnikos Asteres
Top Ten of the Week
It is FA Cup Final week and Stoke are in their 1st ever Final almost 150 years after their foundation, it got me thinking as to whether Stoke are the oldest club to make their FA Cup Final debut. Find out below…
10. Crystal Palace (First Final 1990, Foundation 1905) -85
9. Fulham (1975, 1879) – 96
8. Wimbledon (1988, 1889) – 99
= 6. QPR (1982, 1882) -100
= 6. Ipswich (1978, 1878) -100
5. Watford (1984, 1881) -103
4. Coventry (1987, 1883) – 104
3. Millwall (2004, 1885) – 119
2. Middlesbrough (1997, 1876) – 121
1. Stoke (2011, 1863) – 148
So Stoke are indeed the oldest club to debut in an FA Cup Final by a good 27 years and interestingly on two occasions clubs made their final bow in their centenary year!
By Ralph Hannah
Ralph also writes for goal.com as the Paraguay correspondent, Eurofootballzone.com as the Chief South American correspondent and contributes to inbedwithmaradona.com