Thursday, February 23, 2006


Although Barcelona was completely dominant, they only managed to win a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Chelsea in last night's first leg Champions League match. Supposedly the two best teams in Europe at the moment, Barcelona was nevertheless far superior to a Chelsea side that looked way too defensive, considering that they were playing at home on Stamford Bridge, and considering the firepower they have available in attack.

If it wasn't because Chelsea is otherwise doing so well, it would be a huge disappointment to see them being outplayed in such a way as we saw last night.

But Barcelona continues to play marvelous football. A true joy to watch, and they will be hard to defeat now that they have a foot in the next round. However, never underestimate Mr. Mourinho and Chelsea!

Friday, February 17, 2006

African player of the year

For the third year in a row, Samuel Eto'o has been pronounced African player of the year. Although Didier Drogba and Michael Essien have had great seasons and should be considered candidates (they ended second and third respectively), I agree with the evaluation that Mr. Eto'o has by far out-shined the others. He has continued as a super-striker in the great Barcelona side, and in spite of disappointing results with Cameroun, he has nevertheless been great there as well, as we saw in the recent African Nations Cup.
Congratulations to Mr. Eto'o!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

How to celebrate?

I have had a great weekend. I have been around great friends and doing fun things. The perfect end of a great weekend is by my team winning. And Valencia surely made the weekend perfect!

I was unable to watch the match Valencia-Barcelona, but my mind was in Mestalla with Valencia. And Valencia did not disappoint; they won, 1-0, on a goal by David Villa. He is truly being the best striker in Spain at the moment.

Some people are saying that this was good for Real Madrid, who is now only 7 points behind Barcelona... But wait! Valencia just defeated the leaders, and is only 6 points behind, ahead of Real Madrid. If anyone can catch up with Barcelona, it is Valencia, and tonight they have shown that they are the most serious threat to the Catalonians.

I don't have anyone around to celebrate with, but this is truly a reason for celebration! I am having a victory beer, and I will surely enter a week of celebrating!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Super Zaragoza

Real Madrid has supposedly started the year as the best team in Europe. Last night they were to face Real Zaragoza in the Spanish Copa del Rey. Zaragoza had in the previous round eliminated FC Barcelona, ending their winning streak.

Last night, Zaragoza gloriously ended Real Madrid's winning streak.

Zaragoza played like a dream, and gave the Real Madrid players a 6-1 sack to take home to Santiago Bernabeu. The Argentinian player Diego Milito was extraordinary with 4 goals. Now Zaragoza is certainly a team to reckon with in the Cup!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

African Cup Finalists: Egypt and Ivory Coast

I have not been following the African Cup with an overly keen interest after Ghana's disappointing exit. But after some great quarterfinals and semifinals, I certainly believe we can look forward to a very good final next Friday, between two of the best teams of the tournament: Home team Egypt against the World Cup bound Ivory Coast.

The Ivorians are in the final after an intense quarterfinal against Cameroon (which was won 12-11 after penalty kicks. Eto'o missed the last penalty for Cameroon, ending in shame a great tournament. I only wonder if he will be treated as Wome was...), and a narrow 1-0 victory against Nigeria in the semifinal. Didier Drogba has been a leading player on the Ivorian side, and he also scored the lone goal against Nigeria.

I am not surprised Egypt is in the final. The home team, "the Pharaohs", have been strong all the way, pushed forward by a wonderful crowd of fans. They easily dispatched Congo 4-1 in the quarterfinal, but had more problems in the semifinal. Senegal put up a great fight, and Egypt looked like a team falling apart when Senegal equalized on a beautiful header. Then, Egyptian coach Hassan Shehata showed himself as a super-star coach: with ten minutes to go, he replaced the Egyptian star Mido with a Amr Zaki. Mido left in disgrace, furious; he almost hit his coach. Mido had not played a good match, and the change proved a brilliant move. Amr Zaki had some magical 10 minutes on the pitch, scoring the winning goal for Egypt.

Great players respect their coach's decision and show restraint. Mido's reaction to his substitution just shows he is not such a player. If I was coach, I would not let him play the final.

In the group stages Egypt already defeated Ivory Coast 3-1. However, the Egyptians should certainly not feel comfortable because of that. The Ivorians are very strong, and will surely do all they can to spoil any party in Egypt on Friday.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Barcelona streak ended

Last Thursday, FC Barcelona was eliminated from the Spanish Copa del Rey after tying 1-1 with Zaragoza in the second match of the Cup round. Zaragoza had won 4-2 in the first match, which was Barcelona's first defeat after 18 consecutive victories.

This weekend, Barcelona lost 1-3 at home on Camp Nou, to Atlético de Madrid - a team which is finally starting to move up where they belong. Had Barcelona won, they would have equalized Real Madrid's record of 15 victories in a row in the Spanish League.

Some people are talking about the invincible Barcelona machine having been stopped, but I doubt this is the case. The team has been hit by injuries and absences. It is certainly not a team on the way out. However, next week they will play a strong Valencia side in Mestalla, and will have to play its best in order not to suffer a second defeat in a row.

On another front, Real Madrid continues its amazing improvement under the new coach Lopez Caro. This weekend, RCD Espanyol was trashed 4-0, and Real Madrid is still undefeated in 2006. This new team means it seriously...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Pathetic Ghana out

I had really psyched myself for a comfortable Ghanaian victory against Zimbabwe, which would put the Black Stars in the quartefinals of the African Nations Cup. Together with all of Ghana, I was to be disappointed.

Although many teams have shown disappointing performances in this year's African Nations Cup, Ghana's performance yesterday was disgraceful. The first-half strategy seemed to be to give away the midfield, something the coach should take responsibility for. However, at the same time, the players were barely concentrated: there was hardly a correct pass, and the defense was absolutely horrible in every respect. Although Ghana is indeed missing some of its important players, this is still no excuse from such a disgraceful exit from the African Cup. These are all professionals who should be highly motivated to play for their country.

Ghana ended up losing 2-1 only. It was the more disappointing as a tie would have been enough to put them in the quarterfinals, since Nigeria defeated Senegal 2-1.

I have had great expectations to Ghana. I still do. But after yesterday's exit, I am beginning to doubt that the Ghanaian team really has the guts to play some of the best teams in the World. Playing ten times better than yesterday will not be enough to defeat Italy or the Czech Republic, and I am now also willing to predict that the USA will defeat Ghana.

In spite of this, and not to be completely negative, I hope that the Ghana team can learn from this experience, and start preparations early on, focused on the immense task ahead of them in Germany.

As for the remainder of the African Cup, I have nobody to support any more.