Tag Archives: Didier Drogba

United, Barcelona through to semis

13 Apr

Barcelona only scored one goal, but it was more than enough as they cruised to a 6-1 victory on aggregate over Shakhtar Donetsk.  Lionel Messi scored the game’s only goal, his 48th of the season in all competitions.  I guess you could say he’s a decent player.

In England, Manchester United claimed a 2-1 win over Chelsea to go through 3-1 on aggregate.  Javier Hernandez struck first for United, but second half substitute Didier Drogba made things interesting with a goal of his own.  Chelsea’s hope didn’t last long as Ji-Sung Park put United ahead pretty much immediately.  Once again, a Chelsea player was sent off as Ramires earned his second yellow, which clearly didn’t help the situation.  And once again, Chelsea fans were left to question the decision to include the craptacular Fernando Torres, who was subbed off for Drogba at half. 

I understand the Chelsea spent a lot of money on Torres, but if he is not producing, why play him?  To appease the owner?  Me thinks a Champions League trophy would please him more.  Sometimes you just have to say screw that and play the lineup you think will win.  Sure, you might incur the wrath of said owner, but still, wins and strong performances should trump egos, regardless of what team it is.

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Champions League semifinal spots on the line

12 Apr

Manchester United defeated Chelsea, 1-0, in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie at Stamford Bridge.  Going into today’s second leg at Old Trafford, it is by far the closest contest as only one goal separates the sides (the number is at least three in all the other quarterfinals).  Once again, Fernando Torres will start for Chelsea and Didier Drogba will be on the bench.  I would be so pissed at the owners if I was Carlo Ancelotti.  The only reason Torres is playing is because he cost so damn much.  Drogba gives Chelsea a much better chance to claim a comeback win.  It should be a tight game, but I think United will head to the semifinals as they will hold Chelsea scoreless.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, Barcelona should have no problem maintaining its four-goal advantage over Shakhtar after a 5-1 win in the first leg.  The Spanish side is expected to rest some of their starters.  On the other side of the field, Shakhtar will be missing all foru of their defensive starters due to injury or suspension.

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

Champions League Quarterfinals Continue

6 Apr

Hopefully today’s games will be more competitive than yesterday’s slaughter.  Today we’ve got Barcelona, the “best team in the world”, taking on Shakhtar Donetsk.  Lionel Messi picked up a knock while playing with Argentina and only saw sub action against Villarreal this weekend, but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t in the starting lineup today.  While Barca is clearly the favorite, Shakhtar has the ability to surprise.  They dominated Roma in the round of 16, winning 6-2 on aggregate.

On the British isles, we have Chelsea hosting Manchester United.  Will Chelsea avenge its 2008 Champions League final loss?  Will Fernando Torres finally score a goal?  Will Wayne Rooney go apeshit?  These are all vital questions being asked in the buildup to the game.  Chelsea will miss the playmaking ability of their better January transfer, David Luiz, who is cup-tied.  Of course, if I were Carlo Ancelotti, I wouldn’t be playing Torres either as he doesn’t exactly deserve it.  Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka would start instead since they actually know how to score goals.  Stamford Bridge hasn’t exactly been a great place for ManU to play either as they have lost six of nine at the stadium.

TV Schedule
Chelsea vs. Manchester United – 2:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)
Barcelona vs. Shakhtar – 2:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)

Ballon d’Or shortlist revealed

26 Oct

The shortlist for the 2010 FIFA Ballon D’Or, the award for the world’s best footballer, was announced earlier today.  The award combines the FIFA World Player of the Year and the France Football ballon d’Or trophy, which previously were given out seperately.  Spanish players dominate the list and rightfully so after winning the country’s first World Cup trophy over the summer.  There are seven Spanish players and three each from Germany and Brazil.  Lionel Messi, the winner of both awards in 2009, makes the list along with Diego Forlan, the Golden Ball winner at the World Cup.  Conspicuously absent? Anyone English, but I can’t say that’s surprising after their less-than-impressive World Cup performance, coupled with the absence of any English squad in the Champions League semifinals.

It’s a formidable list to be sure and if I had to pick five finalists and a winner, I’d go with (in no particular order)…
1. Diego Forlan – The catalyst in Uruguay’s third place finish at the World Cup…Ended the tournament with five goals…Also led Atletico Madrid to the Europa League title, scoring both goals in the final against Fulham, as well as twice in the semifinals against Liverpool.
2. Arjen Robben – A large reason why the Netherlands made it to the World Cup final (although he did choke away a couple stellar chances in the final)…Clutch goals for Bayern were also huge as the team reached the Champions League final for the first time since 2001.
3. Xavi –
Lynchpin of Spain’s marvelous passing game…Excellent distribution…Completed 81% of his tournament-leading 669 passes at the World Cup, highest percentage of any player…Led Barcelona to La Liga title and the Champions League semifinals.
4. Wesley Sneijder – Big-time performer for the Netherlands, including two goals in somewhat surprising win over Brazil…Major player for Inter as the Italian side claimed the Champions League title…Extremely influential for both squads.
5. Lionel Messi – Electrifying player, especially for Barcelona…Played well in the World Cup despite not scoring any goals…Helped lead Barcelona to La Liga title…And let’s be honest, who is more exciting to watch? That’s right, no one.

And the award goes to…
Xavi – He is a true game-changer and Spain does not hoist the World Cup trophy without him.

Xabi Alonso (Spain/Real Madrid)
Dani Alves (Brazil/Barcelona)
Iker Casillas (Spain/Real Madrid)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Real Madrid)
Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast/Chelsea)
Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon/Inter)
Cesc Fabregas (Spain/Arsenal)
Diego Forlan (Uruguay/Atletico Madrid)
Asamoah Gyan (Ghana/Sunderland)
Andres Iniesta (Spain/Barcelona)
Julio Cesar (Brazil/Inter)
Miroslav Klose (Germany/Bayern Munich)
Philipp Lahm (Germany/Bayern Munich)
Maicon (Brazil/Inter)
Lionel Messi (Argentina/Barcelona)
Carles Puyol (Spain/Barcelona)
Arjen Robben (Netherlands/Bayern Munich)
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany/Bayern Munich)
Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands/Inter)
David Villa (Spain/Barcelona)
Xavi (Spain/Barcelona)

Reaching the halfway point in Champions League

19 Oct

After the games today and tomorrow, we will be halfway through the Champions League group stage. When Spartak and Chelsea kick off, it will be for first place in the group as both teams are currently 2-0. The game will be played in Moscow at the same site where Chelsea nearly claimed the 2008 Champions League title, but missed out after John Terry slipped on his penalty attempt. Chelsea will be without striker Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and Alex. The game between Arsenal and Shakhtar also features the undefeated teams in the group. Even the teams that have zero points after two games still have it all to play for. A good run of form could see a team jump into the top two.

Today’s games
Spartak Moskva vs. Chelsea – 5 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Delayed)
Roma vs. Basel
Bayern vs. CFR Cluj
Marseille vs. Zilina
Ajax vs. Auxerre – 2:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)
Real Madrid vs. AC Milan – 2:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)
Braga vs. Partizan
Arsenal vs. Shakhtar Donetsk

World Cup results – June 20

20 Jun

New Zealand notched the biggest “upset” of the tournament so far, earning a 1-1 draw with defending chanpion Italy.  The All-Whites struck early after Shane Smeltz poked home a free kick.  Later in the half, Daniele De Rossi further etched his name in my hate book.  He got his shirt tugged in the box before falling forward like he’d be shot and earning Italy a penalty. Sigh. Vincenzo Iaquinta converted the spot kick, but the Kiwis defense held fast to claim a famous 1-1 draw.  

Paraguay put itself in a good position to advance to the next round with a 2-0 win over Slovakia.  Enrique Vera notched a first half goal, while Cristian Riveros put the game away late in the second half.

In the day’s finale, Brazil put a 3-1 whooping on Ivory Coast.  Luis Fabiano struck twice and Elano scored once to give the favorites a 3-0 lead.  Didier Drogba pulled one back for Ivory Coast, but it was too little too late.  The game was not without controversy though as the chippiness escalated.  Kaka of all people ended up getting sent off after “elbowing Keita in the face” and by elbowing in the face, I mean Keita’s chest ran into Kaka’s elbow.  Horrid call to yellow card Kaka on the play, which ended up being his second of the day.  He’ll miss the final group game against Portugal, but it’s not a huge deal as Brazil has already advanced to the second round.

Group F results
Slovakia 0
Paraguay 2 (Vera 27, Riveros 86)

Italy 1 (Iaquinta 29 – pen)
New Zealand 1 (Smeltz 7)

Group G results
Brazil 3 (Fabiano 25, 50, Elano 62)
Ivory Coast 1 (Drogba 79)

Group F standings
Paraguay 4 (+2)
Italy 2 (0)
New Zealand 2 (0)
Slovakia 1 (-2)

Six thoughts after six days

17 Jun

Well, I meant to post this yesterday, but I forgot, so you get it today instead. 

The World Cup is six days old and every team has played its first group game, so here’s my thoughts on the first 16 matches.

  • Meh.  Team are playing cautiously, which means lots of defense and not a lot of goals.  Not exactly super exciting stuff so far.  Only four teams have scored more than one goal in a game (South Korea, Germany, Netherlands and Brazil). Things should open up more as teams push for wins to get to the next round.
  • Germany is the only team so far that looks like it wants to win.  Granted, Australia looked rather poor, but Germany’s passing was spot-on.  They did such a good job controlling the ball and the pace of the game.  Plus, the Germans got four goals from four different people and it’s always nice to have multiple strike options.
  • Game of the first round: Switzerland 1, Spain 0.  South Africa has not been kind to Spain.  A year after losing to the U.S. in the Confederations Cup, Switzerland shocked Spain in the opening game of group H.  Spain had plenty of opportunities to score, but just couldn’t convert.  Spain should be able to recover and get out of the group, but Chile also looked dangerous so the road once viewed as easy might get a little bit rougher.
  • As much as I would love to see South Africa get into the second round, I just don’t see it happening.  The team just doesn’t have the depth. (Also, a 3-0 loss to Uruguay and a red card for the starting goalie made that road a LOT tougher.)
  • The stars have yet to shine.  Lionel Messi and Argentina’s formidable strikers haven’t scored a goal (defender Gabriel Heinze scored the winner against Nigeria).  Cristiano Ronaldo was a non-factor and Didier Drogba was relegated to substitute duty.  Wayne Rooney hardly touched the ball.  No one has put their team on their shoulders and carried them a win (Zidane style, of course).  The big names have to step up their game.
  • As a whole, the refereeing has been solid.  I’m sure Tim Cahill would beg to differ, but compared to four years ago, refs are pulling those cards out a lot less.