Firstly apologies for the lack of blogging – winter (summer) holidays combined with Paraguay getting to the final of the Copa America took up a lot of my free time! But with the new season on the horizon Football Top Tens is back with lots of pre-season fun and some tournaments to follow if you just can’t wait until mid-August! Read on for Beckham and Henry’s penalty challenge, Ronaldinho’s hattrick, Neymar’s wondergoal and the Top Ten foreign managers who dominated the English league.
This Week’s Stories
CONCACAF Champions League preliminaries
This week saw the 1st leg of the preliminary rounds in CONCACAF club football’s premier tournament. Panama continued their good run against the United States (having beaten them in this year’s Gold Cup) as local side San Francisco beat Seattle Sounders 1-0 in Panama City. Not a good start though for Guyana’s Alpha United who took an 8-0 hammering by Herediano of Costa Rica in the Central American country’s capital San Jose. Return legs are next week.
England dancing in Colombia already
The U20s World Cup is arguably the best place to go if you are seeking new talent – while a lot of the European players will already be on the radar of big clubs there is plenty of African, Asian and South American teenage sensations just waiting for a big money move. Although the tournament doesn’t start until this afternoon, the England team (who play the opening game today against North Korea) have been dancing already. Just check out this crazy welcome they got from the Colombian police when they arrived on Tuesday.
2014 World Cup Qualifiers march on
In Asia the preliminary stages are over with most of the favourites progressing, Jordan were the biggest winners in the first leg (9-0 against Nepal) but having drawn the second leg the highest aggregate score award goes to China who beat Laos 13-3 over two legs, 7-2 followed by 6-1. Over in Rio de Janeiro is all set for the qualifying draw today, with all the group stages set to be decided (other than South America which is one large group). FIFA tells us that this year a record 203 teams have taken part (compared to 200 in 2010) but only 824 qualifying games are scheduled compared to 853 for the last World Cup.
Beckham and Henry set a new penalty record
In New York, the MLS All Stars took on Manchester United on Wednesday evening but the build up started well before then. In Herald Square, David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Alexi Lalas and a host of MLS fans took part in the Guinness World Records attempt for the most consecutive penalty kicks. The record stood at 525 (set in Germany for the Women’s World Cup) but they put it beyond doubt with 742 different people stepping up to take spot kicks. Rumours that all the Brazilians who took part missed the target are totally unfounded.
More penalty fun at the Audi Cup
Internacional of Porto Alegre, Brazil were invited to participate in the Audi Cup in Munich finishing third after losing on penalties to Barcelona before beating Milan in a shoot-out. Brazilian midfielder Leandro Damião boosted his price tag with a goal in each game and Andres D’Alessandro reminded Europe of his unfulfilled talent with a well taken goal against the Italians. Milan finished last having lost two penalty shoot outs, mimicking Brazil at the Copa America by missing all four against Internacional. In the final Thiago Alcántara proved there is plenty of life after Xavi and Iniesta (lay off the Fabregas jokes at this point) with three goals in the two games and both in the final to defeat the hosts Bayern Munich.
Champions League Qualifiers
Benfica were impressive in the 1st leg of the 2nd Qualifying round – Aimar playing a great pass to Nolito for the Spainards first goal for the Portuguese outfit. The second goal was a brilliant curler from Nicolas Gaitan who could have been accused of copying compatriot D’Alessandro had they not been playing at the same time. The shock was in Norway as Rosenborg crashed to a 1-0 home defeat to Czech side Viktoria Plzen…you can be sure the beer was flowing back in the Czech Republic that night.
Denilson debuts as Ronaldinho runs riot
São Paulo are honing in one Corinthians at the top of the Brazilian league, and things are set to get better with Arsenal’s Denilson on board and exciting prospect Ivan Piris set to make his debut this weekend. Denilson made his debut last week and while he had a solid game at the base of the midfield it was a goal from former World Player of the Year Rivaldo who earned a draw. On Wednesday night they were in action again, away to Coritiba and this time it was a 4-3 thriller but was arguably the second best game of the night. Over in Santos O Peixe threw away a 3-0 lead to Flamengo (including Elano missing his second consecutive penalty) and were drawing 3-3. At half time! Neymar struck early for the second time in the game (see below for goal) to put Santos ahead but in the end they lost 5-4 thanks to two late goals from Ronaldinho who finished with a hattrick.
Marseille win pre-season thriller
In France the French Super Cup took place on Wednesday and it resulted in a 9-goal epic between Marseille and Lille. With five minutes to go it seemed Lille had sewn up the game with a 3-1 lead. Then it all went haywire. Jeremy Morel and Loic Remy pulled two back for Marseille before Ghana’s Ayew converted a penalty on the stroke of 90 mins. 4-3 and Marseille had seemingly won it. But there was still a twist as Marko Basa struck a last gasp equaliser in the 92nd minute. Or did he? In the 95th minute Ayew was handed another chance from the spot to win the game, he duly tucked it home to give Didier Deschamps’ side a 5-4 win with 8 second half goals and five between the 85th and 95th minute.
Goal of the Week
Well it would have been Yossi Benayoun had this overhead kick not gone horribly wrong but instead the award Neymar (mentioned above) for this great run and fantastic piece of skill before slotting home against Flamengo. The pace he does everything at is scary.
Stat of the Week
28 – The number of sides already out of the running for 2014 World Cup Qualification. What do they do now? Thanks to Mister Chip for the stat
Top Ten of the Week
Firstly I pulled my information from My Football Facts which is a very useful website for tables and the like. I had a look at the managers from outside of England who have won the English top division the most times – here they are.
= 10. Bob Kyle (Sunderland) -1
= 10. Carlo Ancelotti (Chelsea) – 1
=10. Dave Mackay (Derby County) – 1
= 10. Johnny Cochrane (Sunderland) – 1
=10. Matt McQueen (Liverpool) – 1
= 8. Jose Mourinho (Chelsea) – 2
= 8. George Graham (Arsenal) – 2
= 6. Arsene Wenger (Arsenal) -3
= 6. Bill Shankly (Liverpool) – 3
= 4. Frank Watt (Newcastle United) – 4
= 4. Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool, Blackburn) – 4
3. Matt Busby (Manchester United) – 5
2. George Ramsay (Aston Villa) – 6
1. Alex Ferguson (Manchester United) – 12
We knew Sir Alex Ferguson would be top but unless you are a Villa fan I bet you didn’t get number two. Next week in light of this week’s FIFA Rankings I’m going to do a best value for money international team (looking at GDP per head).