Football from all over the globe this week, Messi in Argentina, the new Pele (and the old one!) in Brazil, back to Argentina for River Plate’s woes and then off east to Russia and Japan to catch up on the league’s there. Finally the Copa America Top Tens series finishes with the most exciting teams to watch.
We’ve mentioned Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan’s scoring exploits in the MLS before, Henry now has 8 goals in his last 9 games to put him level with Donovan at the top of the ladder with 8 goals each. Donovan has been involved in the Gold Cup which is coming to a close and it is Mexico vs USA in the final for the fifth time, Mexico have a 3-1 record so far.
Marathon Russian Premier League one-third of the way through
We’re now 15 fixtures through the Russian Premier League season and the usual suspects are occupying the top spots. CSKA Moscow are top (with a game in hand) having won their last 4 and going unbeaten in their last 8. Zenit are two points behind in 2nd and have won their last three games keeping clean sheets in all three. A further two points behind are Rubin Kazan who are now 10 matches unbeaten. The teams will play another 15 games before the league splits in two with the top 8 teams playing 14 more times to determine the championship and European places. The bottom 8 will be fighting it out for survival.
Santos champions of America
On Wednesday night Santos were crowned Copa Libertadores for the third time and first time without Pele (although he was in the stands in a shocking red jacket). Having drawn the first leg 0-0 in Montevideo, Santos beat Peñarol at home 2-1 with goals from Neymar and Danilo. The key player though was playmaker Ganso back from injury who dominated proceedings in the middle of the park. It was Peñarol’s 100th defeat in Copa Libertadores history and Santos’ 100th Copa Libertadores game. The game finished with a typically South America scuffle seemingly started by a moronic Santos fan (when will they learn) who entered the pitch to taunt Peñarol’s players. For Santos manager Muricy Ramalho it was his first major international title having dominated the domestic scene in Brazil with 10 trophies.
River relegation drama
River Plate, holder of most league titles in Argentina are on the brink of relegation having suffered a 2-0 defeat in 1st leg of their relegation playoff against Belgrano on Wednesday night. Saved from the drop in 1983 by an impromptu rule change by the Argentinian FA to protect them, it seems the ghost of La B (2nd division) has finally caught up with them. River are in this situation having performed poorly over the last three seasons and more recently didn’t register a win in their last 7 games in the 2011 Clausura. The 2nd leg is Sunday.
We featured something similar a few weeks ago but you don’t get tired of watching Brazilian legends in training. Ronaldinho scored a great lob and backheeled against the post and then his former teammate Juninho Pernambucano reminded us just how good he is from free kicks.
Quillan Roberts in record books
Quillan who? He is Canada’s goalkeeper at the U17 World Cup and against England he scored a late equaliser from inside his own half. Not only did he earn Canada their first ever point in the U17 World Cup (after 14 games) but he was confirmed on Fifa.com as being the first ever goalkeeper to score in the final stages of a traditional FIFA tournament.
Nagoya on the rebound
The defending J-League champions Nagoya Grampus Eight are finally finding form as they try to claw back ground in the 2011 championships. After only winning 1 of their first 6 games they have now won four of the last five putting them in sixth place. On Wednesday night they beat Cerezo Osaka away 3-2 and Keiji Tamada grabbed his 8th goal and 5th in the last five games. The Brazilian Adriano, one of the better Brazilians to move to Japan recently, is leading the scoring charts with nine strikes for new club Gamba Osaka.
Final Copa America Warm Ups
Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile were in action this week (the last two against each other) as South America’s sides put in their final preparations before next Friday’s Copa America. Argentina beat a hapless Albanian B team cobbled together at short notice, 4-0. Chile won by the same margin, also against European opposition overcoming Estonia. On Thursday night Uruguay also beat Estonia, this time 3-0 to record only their second win since October 2010. In Asunción, Paraguay were unable to beat a Chile team missing key players and the match finished 0-0, it was Paraguay’s fourth consecutive clean sheet and the second time the teams have drawn in Asunción in 15 meetings.
Oddest red card ever?
Melbourne, Australia was the scene of one of the stranger sendings off I’ve heard about. Aaron Eccleston of Old Hill Wanderers was given two yellow cards having gone off for treatment after being hit by a ball in his (ahem) balls. The first yellow was for coming on the pitch without the referee’s permission, fair enough, but the second? He was handed another yellow for being unable to prove he had removed all body piercings – the referee had of course checked before the game but he hadn’t noticed this rogue piercing in a private area until the ‘ball on balls’ incident.
Goal of the Week
I wanted to give it to Quillan Roberts, but he deserved his own story so I had to find somebody else, I’ve gone for Sergio Aguero because of Lionel Messi’s assist, incredible.
Stat of the Week
9 – Florent Sinama Pongolle holds the record for the most goals in a U17 World Cup, for France in 2001. The best marksman at this year’s tournament is Ivorian Souleymane Coulibaly with five goals including four in last night’s match!
Top Ten of the Week
In the final Copa America related Top Ten, I thought it was worth looking at who scores more goals so you can decide which teams you want to watch in July. Here are CONMEBOL sides sorted by goals per game. Don’t forget the other Copa America Top Tens – Best win ratio in Argentina – Best win ratio as hosts and Manager win ratios.
10. Venezuela – 0.69 Goals per Game
9. Bolivia – 0.95
8. Ecuador – 1.06
7. Colombia – 1.21
6. Peru – 1.46
5. Chile – 1.53
4. Paraguay – 1.58
3. Uruguay – 2.09
2. Brazil – 2.32
1. Argentina – 2.44
So in our final Top Ten the host nation Argentina have just pipped Brazil, in absolute terms the Argentinians have scored 422 goals compared to Brazil’s 387 who will surely be looking to hit the 400 mark at this tournament. Bolivia and Peru are also close to goalscoring landmarks, the Bolivians have 97 goals while Peru have scored 193 times.
By Ralph Hannah