Archive | May, 2009

Chelsea wins FA Cup final, 2-1

30 May

Everton’s Louis Saha scored a goal 26 seconds into the FA Cup final, but Chelsea responded with two unanswered to clinch the victory in Guus Hiddink’s final game at the helm.  Didier Drogba put in a header and then Frank Lampard scored in the second half for the Blues.

Despite scoring the first goal, Everton looked rather out of sorts the rest of the game and didn’t have many other chances.  Chelsea didn’t look spectacular either, but they were efficient enough and did a good job stretching the Everton defense.  After watching the movement and skill of Barcelona on Wednesday, this final was somewhat of a letdown.

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Chelsea and Everton match up in FA Cup final Saturday

29 May

FA CupThere’s still one more final left this season.  On Saturday, May 30, Everton and Chelsea will square off in the FA Cup final (10 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer Channel).  Everton is searching for the upset, while Chelsea looks to send Guus Hiddink off with some silverware.  It should be a good match; both games during the Premier League season ended in 0-0 draws.  Chelsea is still smarting from their Champions League semifinal loss to eventual champs Barcelona, but who knows whether that will serve to motivate the Blues or deflate them a bit.  Everton is full of confidence and know they can play with Chelsea.  The Toffees will be playing in Europe next season after a fifth place league finish.

Torres signs extension with Liverpool

28 May

6829563Striker Fernando Torres, who has scored 50 goals in two seasons at Liverpool, has signed a new deal with the club to keep him at Anfield through 2013.  There is an option to extend the deal through 2014.

Torres joins captain Steven Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt and Daniel Agger as players that have signed new contracts in the last couple months.  Manager Rafa Benitez also inked a new deal.

Liverpool finished as runners-up in the Premier League with a record of 25-11-2 and 86 points.  The Reds also reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

Barcelona are champions of Europe

27 May

messi celebratesSamuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi scored for Barcelona in a 2-0 victory over Manchester United in a game the Spanish side clearly dominated. The defending champions came out firing on all cylinders. Cristiano Ronaldo laced a free kick at Barca’s Victor Valdes, who made a nice stop but sent the ball right back in front of the goal. Ji-Sung Park had a chance to put the rebound in and give MU a very early lead, but he couldn’t connect. In the next ten minutes, Ronaldo seemed poised to score with several other big shots at goal. Barcelona looked totally out of their element – until they got their first counterattack of the game. Andres Iniesta found Samuel Eto’o in the box and Eto’o turned Nemanja Vidic around and slotted the ball past keeper Edwin Van Der Sar.

The goal clearly caught Manchester United by surprise and they never quite recovered from the shock. Barcelona looked the better team for the remainder of the game. They were beating MU players to the ball, intercepting poor passes and threatened to add several more goals to their lead. Xavi Hernandez hit the post with a free kick and Thierry Henry had a good chance if not for a great save from Van Der Sar.   Lionel Messi put the game out of reach with a superb header off a Xavi cross  in the 70th minute.

There’s no doubt that Barcelona deserved to win this game.  MU was visibly frustrated by their inability to get any attack going.  Barca’s tandem of Xavi and Iniesta controlled the midfield and didn’t allow the MU midfielders to get into any sort of grove.  Well-deserved win for Barcelona.

Barcelona 2 (Eto’o 10, Messi 70)
Manchester United 0

*On a side note, all the Manchester United players seemed gracious enough in defeat with one notable exception – Ronaldo.  He whined about how Barcelona shouldn’t have even been playing today and about how MU’s tactics were wrong.  Ok, 1. Despite the controversy surrounding the Chelsea/Barca game, the bottom line is that Barca got the job done and Chelsea didn’t.  2. I’m pretty sure that Alex Ferguson knows what he’s doing.  I think Ronaldo might be slightly bitter that Messi is going to be taking his world player of the year crown.

What to look forward to over the summer

26 May

Now that Premier League is over til August, here’s what you have to look forward to over the summer…

1.  Champions League final – Manchester United vs. Barcelona – Wednesday, May 27 – Rome, Italy
The two best teams in Europe with the best two players in the world will be playing for the title of champions of Europe.  It’s been billed as Messi vs. Ronaldo, but I think that it will really come down to Barcelona’s backline.  They lost Rafa Marquez to a knee injury and will be without a couple other defenders due to suspension.  Barcelona also will need to take more shots – when you have a clean look anywhere close to the box – just take it, don’t try to get too fancy with the passing.  This game has the potential to be brilliant, make sure to watch it on ESPN on 1:30 p.m. ET.

2. World Cup Qualifiers – June 6-10 – Around the world
The World Cup qualification process continues with another two games at the beginning of June.  The US men play at Costa Rica on June 3 and then host Honduras on June 6.

3. Confederation Cup – June 14-28 – South Africa
The Confederations Cup is essentially a practice run for next year’s (!!!) World Cup.  Eight countries will be competing and there are some good matchups (Group A: South Africa, Iraq, New Zealand, Spain – Group B: USA, Italy, Brazil and Egypt).  Group B is definitely stronger and it will be fun to see how the US stacks up against Italy and Brazil (especially Italy since the last matchup was an ugly 1-1 draw in the 2006 World Cup).  A good performance in South Africa could give the US a lot of confidence.  Brazil won the 2006 edition of the tournament in Germany.

4. CONCACAF Gold Cup – July 3-26 – USA
The biannual tournament will be hosted in locations across the United States.  There are three groups of teams participating, including the 2007 champion United States.  Group A: Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica. Group B: Grenada, Haiti, Honduras, United States. Group C: Guadaloupe, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama.

Premier League is over

24 May
Liverpool paid tribute to defender Sami Hyypia in his last game for the club.

Liverpool paid tribute to defender Sami Hyypia in his last game for the club.

  • Newcastle, Middlesbrough and West Brom will be playing championship football next year.
  • Everton, Aston Villa, and Fulham will all be playing in the Europa Cup next season.
  • Liverpool finished second, four points back from MU.  Chelsea was third and Arsenal fourth.
  • Sami Hyypia played his last game for Liverpool today in a 3-1 win over Tottenham.  He’s played 10 seasons for the Reds and will be headed to Bayern Leverkusen on a two-year deal.

Relegation battle at the forefront of final Premier League weekend

22 May

premier-league-badgeIt’s the final weekend of the Premier League season.  =( After the weekend, there’s no more Premier League football til August and that makes me sad. Anyways, action this weekend will be heavily focused on the bottom of the table to see which two teams will join West Brom and play championship football next season. West Brom became the first club to go down after losing to Liverpool last week. Newcastle, Sunderland, Hull City and Middlesbrough will all fight to stay in the top flight. I’m not going to try to explain the various scenarios, it’s way too complicated – just read them all here. MU wrapped up the title last weekend so there’s not much drama in the top half.  Aston Villa will be fighting for fifth while Fulham looks to secure the seventh Europa Cup spot against Everton.

Sunday, May 24
Arsenal vs. Stoke City
Aston Villa vs. Newcastle
Blackburn vs. West Brom
Fulham vs. Everton
Hull City vs. Manchester United – Fox Soccer Channel – 11 a.m. ET (Live)
Liverpool vs. Tottenham
Manchester City vs. Bolton
Sunderland vs. Chelsea
West Ham vs. Middlesbrough  – Fox Soccer Channel – 1 p.m. ET (Live)
Wigan vs. Portsmouth

*On a side note, it bugs me that FSC is showing a replay of Manchester United vs. Tottenham on Saturday and then showing their game against Hull live on Sunday.  I know they are champs, but I’m slightly sick of the MU love.  The live game I can understand because it’s an important game in the relegation battle (as is the West Ham/Boro game that will also be shown).  It’s the replay on Saturday that really grinds my gears (it wasn’t even a great game!).