This week the blog is filled with lots of stuff from Africa, Asia and South America including Messi and friends in Mexico, Indian Ocean Games, the winner of the Suruga Bank Cup and the best team in the world taking GDP per head into account. We even find a league table that puts Real Madrid ahead of Barcelona!
Last Week’s Stories
Flamengo and São Paulo continue to chase Corinthians in Brazil, Benfica are through to the next round of the Champions League and so are Viktoria Plzen both featured last week. In the U2o World Cup England outdid Paraguay in the Copa America as they drew all three group games 0-0. The future is not bright. ITURBEWATCH: I was going to switch this for ChiquiWatch this week but we’ll give it one more week as he produced a fantastic pass to set up Argentina’s second goal against North Korea. For more on Chiqui Arce you can check my article here.
This Week’s Stories
Messi and Friends
Sunday saw Lionel Messi and friends take on a Rest of World XI in a charity match in Mexico. While 44-year-old Jorge Campos pulled of some stunning stops the star of the show was ex-Brazil and Barcelona star, Romario with some great showboating. It was also an absolute joy to see recently retired Martin Palermo do what he does best. As expected the game was full of goals, finally finishing 5-4 to Messi and mates (would have been a better name).
Indian Ocean Games
The Indian Ocean Games are taking place at the moment as seven teams compete for what new website FIFA Minnows states”the one trophy they are ever likely to win”. Madagascar were pre-tournament favourites being the highest rank side (150th) in the competition although they’ve only won the tournament twice compared to non-FIFA member Reunión who have won it three times including most recently in 2007 when they beat Madagascar on penalties. Madagascar drew 1-1 in their opener yesterday with the only other non-FIFA affiliate Mayotte. The tournmanet concludes next weekend.
Social media ladder
Very interesting site, brought to my attention by my little brother ranked football teams on their combined facebook fans and Twitter followers. The Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona are 1st and 2nd respectively with Madrid picking up almost 1.5 million extra fans this month. Manchester United are, predictably, the best represented from the Premier League and 3rd overall. Somewhat surprisingly Turkey has 3 teams in the top ten, Galatassary (7th), Fenerbahce (9th) and Besiktas (10th). The biggest team outside of Europe is Boca Juniors (11th). Full list here.
South Sudan start FIFA application odyssey
Having recently gained independence South Sudan had a football team ready and made their debut just a day after independence. But according to ESPN’s Gary Al-Smith the process to join CAF and then FIFA is fraught with bureaucracy. The Bright Star hope to be in FIFA within two years but with political issues over the nationality of their key players (who play their club football in Sudan) this could be a much longer journey than expected.
Copa Sudamericana: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
The Europa League of South America started off with a cracking game on Tuesday between Bella Vista and Universidad Catolica in Montevideo. The game was played at a good pace, plenty of quality from the Chileans and three exceptional individual performances from three young left footers who caught the eye (Jonathan Perez of Bella Vista, Felipe Gutierrez & Matias Mier of Catolica if you were wondering). On Wednesday I watched Olimpia labour to a 2-0 win against The Strongest – maybe the game wasn’t that bad but the Bolivians misleading name is. Incidentally it was Olimpia’s 14th win against Bolivian opposition in 21 games. Last night was ugly, Yacarayunos started with a flurry of fouls in the first five minutes and the game continued in that vein. The only real moment of quality was Colombian striker Mauricio Chalar’s well taken goal to cancel out Barcos’ penalty for LDU Quito. For an in-depth analysis check http://www.theelastico.com/ later on for my round up!
U17s Nordic Tournament
Having seen above England’s struggles in the U20s there is some good news at the U17s level. England managed by ex-Chelsea and Aston Villa utility man Kenny Swain have made a promising start to the Nordic Tournament. Having crushed the Faroe Islands 4-0 on Tuesday helped by a Chris Long brace, they earned a valuable point against Norway in a 1-1 draw the following day. Today they take on hosts Iceland in the last of the group games before a final game on Sunday.
Jubilo Iwata fly J-League Flag
On Wednesday Jubilo Iwata overcame Independiente on penalites to win the fourth Suruga Bank Cup, which pits the winner of the Copa Sudamericana against the J-League champions. The game finished 2-2 with Jubilo taking the lead through a Roberto Battion own goal. Independiente equalised through Eduardo Tuzzio before taking the lead through Facundo Parra. Tomoyuki Arata’s second half goal levelled the match and it went to penalties just like the 2010 final. Just like last year it was the Japanese side who overcame their South American rivals in the shoot out as Jubilo Iwata join FC Tokyo as the only J-League winners of this competition. Arsenal de Sarandi and Internacional were the 2008 and 2009 winners respectively.
Paraguayan clubs profit from new signings
In Paraguay the season kicked off last weekend and returning players and new signings were important in the major games. Champions Nacional earned a 1-1 draw against Libertad thanks to an equaliser from Brazilian Rodrigo Teixeira signed from Guaraní. Guaraní themselves lost 4-3 in a thrilling game with Olimpia but opened the scoring through Federico Santander back on loan from Toulouse. Cerro Porteño are top of the league after the opening round of games having won 2-0 against Rubio Ñu and the second goal was this fantastic chip from Julio Dos Santos set up by forward Edgar ‘Pajaro’ Benitez bought from Pachuca of Mexico.
Stat of the Week
8 – Number of times Ryan Giggs has won the Community Shield, the most by any player, he goes for his ninth on Sunday (via @statmanjon)
Goal of the Week
Top Ten of the Week
Last month we did best international team in the world taking population into account, this week it is taking GDP per head into account. Nearly all the GDP per head statistics were taken from IMF statistics with some of the smaller territories (thought nobody in Top 20) using CIA Factbook estimates. The formula is simple GDP per head divided by FIFA ranking points giving you dollars per point, less dollars per point the better. It makes for interesting reading:
10. Sierra Leone – $2.32 per FIFA ranking point
9. Niger – $2.28
8. Guinea – $2.20
7. Burkina Faso – $2.03
6. Central African Republic – $2.01
5. Malawi – $1.88
4. Ivory Coast – $1.82
3. Liberia – $1.69
2. Congo DR – $1.38
1. Zimbabwe – $1.14
Perhaps predictably Africa dominates the list, the top 21 are actually all CAF sides – in terms of the other continents the zonal leaders are the following. CONCACAF, Haiti (22 overall) – CONMEBOL, Paraguay (28) – AFC, Nepal (29) – UEFA, Moldova (35) – OFC, Fiji (113). Excluding the five sides currently with no points (making it impossible to divide GDP by their FIFA ranking points!) the big loser is Brunei with a whopping $5,432.44 per point. World Champions Spain find themselves 77th ($18.73) while recently crowned Copa America kings are 52nd ($12.37). England are nudged into 109th place by Kyrgyzstan but they did see off United States who are way back in 148th.
By Ralph Hannah