Archive | March, 2011

Robotic clouds won’t save the day

28 Mar

Since it gets so hot in Qatar over the summer (100+ easily) and those conditions aren’t exactly amenable for playing soccer, it has become necessary to create robotic clouds to hover over the stadiums to cool the players and fans.  Yes, you read that right, robotic clouds.  Of course, said clouds are expensive to make ($500,000 a pop), but this is Qatar, land of never-ending stash of cash, so money is really no object.  Much like the futuristic, erector set stadiums promised, the clouds are still just a work in progress.  There’s no guarantee it will actually happen.

I’ll admit that it’s a pretty cool concept, but how effective can it really be?  Even in the shade, it’s still going to be incredibly hot.  Also, what about all the fans that aren’t at the games?  It’s not like people are in the stadiums 24/7.  Generally, there are a lot of people wandering around and watching games in public squares and such, what about all those people?  Or will there so few people attending that it won’t even matter?  I can’t find too many details on the project other than the general concept, but I have some questions.  What about the noise factor?  Will players be able to hear each other or will it all be drowned out by whooshing noises from these giant cloud fan things?  What happens if something goes wrong with it?  Will it just crash into the stadium?  Would these clouds truly make a major difference in comfort and temperature?

Which brings me back to my main question – why exactly is Qatar hosting the World Cup to begin with?

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2011 Champions League Quarterfinals Announced

18 Mar

The matchups for the Champions League quarterfinals were announced today and the one that will grab the most headlines is Chelsea-Manchester United.  The Red Devils met the Blues in the final in 2008, prevailing on penalties.  Of course the teams have a rivalry going in the Premier League as well.  The other English team in the draw, Tottenham, will take on Real Madrid.  Meanwhile, defending champion Inter will play German side Schalke.  Clear favorite Barcelona plays Shakhtar. 

 The draw for the semifinals was also held.  The winner of Spurs/Real will play the winner of Barcelona/Shakhtar, while the Chelsea/ManU winner will take on the Inter/Schalke winner.  Of course, the potential for a Real/Barca semifinal already has some people drooling, but it’s never a great thing to get too caught up in potential matches in a tournament, thanks to those lovely little things called upsets.

The Spurs/Real and Inter/Schalke matches will be held April 5 and 13, while the other two are scheduled for April 6 and 12.  Is it just me or is this scheduling kind of stupid?  The first four teams will have seven days of rest between games, while Chelsea, ManU, Barca and Shakhtar only have five.  Why would you not make it even for all eight teams?  All you would have to do is make the set of dates for the first four April 5 and 12 and the second four April 6 and 13.  Voila, problem solved.  But seriously, does anyone know why the one group ends up with more rest?

April 5
Real Madrid vs. Tottenham
Inter vs. Schalke

April 6
Chelsea vs. Manchester United
Barcelona vs. Shakhtar Donetsk

April 12
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Barcelona
Manchester United vs. Chelsea

April 13
Tottenham vs. Real Madrid
Schalke vs. Inter

Barcelona-Arsenal highlights Champions League action

8 Mar

Barcelona is in the surprising position of being down going into the second leg of their Champions League clash with Arsenal. The English side claimed a 2-1 win at the Emirates last month. Playing the return leg at the Camp Nou is no easy task and it will take a strong performance from Arsenal to come away as winners. The Gunners will be boosted by the return of Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie, while Barcelona will be without key defensive players Carles Puyol (injury) and Gerard Pique (suspension). Of course, there is always the Lionel Messi factor to contend with, but Arsenal did a good job of containing him in the first leg. Is it possible to do that twice?

In the day’s other match, Shakhtar looks to hold onto its lead over Roma. The Ukrainian side scored a big 3-2 win in Italy in February. With the second leg in Ukraine, Roma have a tough task ahead, especially with the suspensions of Marco Cassetti and Jeremy Menez. The home side will be boosted by the return of Fernandinho, who has recovered from a broken leg.

TV Schedule
2:30 p.m. ET – Barcelona vs. Arsenal (Fox Soccer/Live)
5 p.m. ET – Shakhtar vs. Roma (Fox Soccer/Delayed)

Kuyt, Suarez shine in win over United

7 Mar

Liverpool’s recent addition Luis Suarez had his coming out party against Manchester United yesterday. The Uruguayan dribbled circles around three United defenders before sending the ball across the goal for Dirk Kuyt to sweep home for the game’s opening score. His vision and ball skills are something that Liverpool had been lacking until his signing. Dirk Kuyt benefitted from the presence of Suarez as he notched his first hat trick for Liverpool.  The duo caused problems all day for United with their movement around the field.

Liverpool was the better team by far in this clash. Their passing has improved drastically and they are able to pass the ball out of tight spaces now where before they would simply hoof it clear.   Steven Gerrard was not as involved in the attack as he has been in the past, but along with Lucas, they made it difficult for United to work though the center of the field.  Even though Fabio Aurelio went off early with an injury, the back four adjusted well as Jamie Carragher moved to right backm Glen Johnson went to the lef and Sotirios Krygiakos came in to partner Martin Skrtel in the center.  Raul Meireles also played a very good game, proving his value at both ends.  He cleared a Berbatov shot off the goal line (definitely no hand ball there) and made some good runs on the offensive end.

Other than the fact that Liverpool clearly dominated the game from start to finish, the other main talking point was Jamie Carragher’s poorly timed challenge on Nani at the end of the first half. Old Man Carra caught Nani high on the shin with his studs showing and was only shown a yellow card. As much as I love Carra and LFC, I’d have to say it was a red card tackle since Carra got him high on the leg and was nowhere near the ball. However, Nani didn’t help the situation by writhing in pain and then getting up and pushing the ref and yelling about the foul and then falling over again. It made the whole thing look like theatrics. Moments later, Rafael came flying in studs up at Lucas, but only earned a yellow card as well. The first half ended on quite the heated note, but the tension did not carry over into the second half.  In a lame move, Alex Ferguson did not speak to the media afterwards nor did any of the players.  Poor sportsmanship at its best.

The team played with the fire that they lacked against West Ham last week.  With the season coming down to the wire, Liverpool has to put the same effort and intensity into all its games, not just against the big guys.

Oh, how could I forget, Andy Carroll made his debut as a substitute.  He did not have much to do, but the partnership of the big Carroll along with the small and speedy Suarez has potential to make some waves.  Kuyt will probably drop into the midfield once Carroll is fit for the starting lineup.