Monday, October 26, 2009
Barcelona thrashes Zaragoza to go clear at the top
MADRID (AP) - Barcelona thrashed Zaragoza 6-1 to move three points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the Spanish league on Sunday, helped by a Seydou Keita hat trick and two goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The Catalans shrugged off their surprise loss to Rubin Kazan in the Champions League midweek and produced a dominant display. Three early goals put the European Champion out of reach by halftime.
Barcelona is now on 22 points, three ahead of Real Madrid, which failed to bounce back from its midweek loss to AC Milan in drawing with Sporting Gijon 0-0 on Saturday. Sevilla is third on 16 points.
"We have proved that Barcelona is a big team," said Keita after the game. "I'm happy but I am not a goal scorer. If (Leo) Messi or Ibrahimovic scores, it's better for the team."
Ibrahimovic and Messi, who led the attack with Andres Iniesta, were a constant threat for Barcelona.
With five minutes played, Xavi Hernandez found Messi in space but the Argentina winger shot just wide. A long pass from Xavi in the 12th found Ibrahimovic, who headed down for Messi - but his low shot was pushed round the post by keeper Juan Pablo Carrizo.
Barcelona finally took the lead in the 24th minute when Messi took a short pass from a corner and his cross connected with the head of the diving Keita to make it 1-0. Five minutes later Carrizo got both hands to a rocketing shot from Ibrahimovic but couldn't keep it out.
Ibrahimovic was twice ruled offside after finding the net from a Messi assist. In the 41st Ibrahimovic was the provider when he cut in from the left and Keita swept his cross into the net.
The Swede combined with Keita moments later, flicking the Malian's cross with the outside of his boot into the net for his second of the night.
A rare lapse by Barcelona allowed Jorge Lopez to burst through in the 78th and beat goalkeeper Victor Valdes with a stinging shot.
Messi struck back two minutes later, gathering a pass from Iniesta on the edge of the area and lobbing Carrizo to make it 5-1 and Keita scored his third when he headed in from a corner.
Goals from David Villa, Pablo Hernandez and Juan Manuel Mata gave Valencia a 3-0 win over 10-man Almeria on Sunday, taking the side up to fourth place in the standings.
Spain striker Villa returned to the starting line-up after spending most of the midweek Europa League game against Slavia Prague on the bench. He scored his seventh of the season when he rose to head in Hernandez's delicate cross in the 53rd minute.
Just after the hour, Almeria was reduced to 10 men when goalkeeper Diego Alves was sent off for a rash challenge on Hernandez. In the 74th minute, Hernandez saw substitute 'keeper Andres Esteban off his line and his long-range lob found the net. Juan Manuel Mata made it 3-0 with a low drive in the 86th minute.
Valencia is level with Deportivo La Coruna on 15 points.
Earlier, Villarreal beat Malaga 2-1 to win its first game of the season and move off the bottom of the table.
Villarreal looked unsettled after seven league games without a win, but Nilmar da Silva calmed nerves with a goal in the 27th minute.
Malaga's Albert Luque equalized just before halftime, but Joan Capdevila's low free kick put the hosts ahead again in the 52nd. "We've suffered a lot, but when you are way down there in the standings that's how it is," said Villarreal coach Ernesto Valverde after the game. "The win is very good, even though we had to suffer. We won without playing the way we wanted."
The result left Malaga bottom in the standings.
Also Sunday, Valladolid beat Deportivo La Coruna 4-0, Getafe defeated Athletic Bilbao 2-0, Osasuna drew 1-1 with Racing Santander and Tenerife edged Xerez 1-0.
On Saturday, nine-man Mallorca held Atletico Madrid to 1-1 and Sevilla drew 0-0 against Espanyol.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Argentina qualify for World Cup
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) - Argentina ended an embarrassing campaign by qualifying for the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Uruguay on Wednesday.
Argentina would have missed its first World Cup since 1970 if it had lost at packed Centenario Stadium.
But moments after Uruguay defender Martin Caceres was ejected for his second yellow card, Mario Bolatti scored amid a goalmouth scramble in the 84th minute to send a relieved Argentina to the finals in South Africa next year.
Argentina claimed the fourth and final automatic berth in South America, while Uruguay finished fifth and earned another chance to qualify through the playoffs next month.
Uruguay will meet the No. 4 team from CONCACAF, either Costa Rica or Honduras.
Brazil, Chile and Paraguay had earlier clinched the first three automatic berths, leaving Diego Maradona's much criticized team to venture to Montevideo, where Argentina had never won a qualifier in three previous attempts.
Argentina wound up fourth with 28 points, and Uruguay finished with 24, and Ecuador 23 after losing to Chile 1-0.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Messi: Why not, coach? I am sent by the God of God to play football. Let me show you the way to play beautiful football!
Argentina needs at least a draw against Uruguay to qualify automatically to the World Cup in SA, provided Ecuador beats Chile by less than 5 goals. A win will surely confirm their participation in the biggest sport event in the world. World Cup will lost its shine without Argentina as the best player in the world plays for this country. I wonder who is this great Argentinian!
Can Messi matches Maradona's achievement by bringing home the World Cup in 2010? What do you think? For record, Maradona leads Argentina to the second World Cup title in 1986, beating West Germany 3-2 in the final. If Messi wins the World Cup for Argentina, i think he will become the Best Legend of Football.
p/s: Pele once said Maradona is sent by God to play football. Maradona replied "I dont remember sending anyone to play football." Hence the conversation above.
Related post: Messi is better than Maradona
Dunga bets on Argentina to qualify automatically
CAMPO GRANDE, Brazil (AP) - Brazil coach Dunga predicts Argentina will reach next year's World Cup in South Africa without needing a playoff.
Argentina plays Wednesday away to Uruguay in the final round of South American qualifying. Argentina will finish fourth in South American qualifying if it wins the match, which would give it the final automatic qualifying berth. Brazil, Paraguay and Chile have claimed the first three spots.
Argentina can also advance automatically with a draw.
Uruguay will also advance automatically if it wins, but a draw would not be enough.
"Uruguay is going to have to go for it, and that could give Argentina lots of space to play in," Dunga said. "They will be over the nervousness and will play much better." Argentina salvaged a 2-1 victory on Saturday against Peru, winning on Martin Palermo's scrambled goal three minutes into second-half injury time.
"Anyone who works in football knows Argentina not only had to beat Peru, but also a case of the nerves," Dunga said. Going into Wednesday's round of matches, Argentina has 25 points, Uruguay 24 and Ecuador 23.
The fourth-placed team advances automatically. The fifth-placed team earns a playoff in November with the No. 4 team from North and Central America and the Caribbean for another berth. The opponent will be either Costa Rica or Honduras.
Ecuador, which plays at Chile, also has a chance.
If Ecuador beats Chile, it will finish at least fifth and earn a playoff spot. Ecuador could also get the automatic spot. For that to happen, Argentina and Uruguay have to draw and Ecuador has to beat Chile by at least five goals.
Argentina needs a real coach, not Maradona
Argentina's sparky little playmaker is such a dazzling pleasure to watch; football's showcase would be poorer without him. - John Leicester
Sunday, October 11, 2009
As part of Barcelona's 'Dream Team', Eusebio Sacristan won a number of league titles as well as the European Cup and Copa del Rey in the early 1990s.
Now coach of Segunda Division side Celta Vigo, Eusebio has reflected on the current crop of Blaugrana stars and believes that they are becoming almost impossible to resist.
"It's wonderful to see this team play. To see the proficiency with which they dominate matches, how they handle them, how they play and how they are able to win them," Eusebio enthused to Barca TV.
"The team are continuing on the same lines as last season. They are continuing to evolve and find a better performance. For their opponents, it becomes more difficult to be able to stop them every game.
"Barca play as a unit. There is great intensity when it is time to defend - a very intense pressure that means the opponent cannot get to Barcelona's goal."
Eusebio was formerly on the Blaugrana training staff under Frank Rijkaard. The Dutchman's replacement was Pep Guardiola, and the Celta trainer believes that the club have the perfect man for the job.
"He has been able to make a group who have a lot of motivation, a huge desire to win trophies and to do great things at this club."
La Liga - The League to watch this year
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Argentine World Cup veterans defend Maradona
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) - World Cup veterans Javier Mascherano and Juan Veron have thrown their support behind embattled Argentina coach Diego Maradona ahead of Saturday's crucial qualifier against Peru.
"Maradona has all our support," Liverpool midfielder Mascherano said after a closed training session Wednesday at the general headquarters of the Argentine Football Association. "He's the coach and he knows what he does."
His comments come a day after Maradona, acknowledged as one of football's greatest ever players, said he may quit as coach if he cannot continue on his terms, even if Argentina qualifies for South Africa 2010. Estudiantes de Argentina playmaker Veron, who is unavailable for the Peru match due to a suspension, defended Maradona's stance.
"Diego isn't satisfied, or doesn't like something, it's not bad that he demands certain conditions to continue," he said.
Argentina is in danger of missing out on next year's World Cup, and most of the blame has been placed on Maradona who has failed to mold a team out of some of the world's best players including Barcelona star Lionel Messi and Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez.
Maradona, 48, put Messi and Gonzalo Higuain in the attack during Wednesday's practice session.
And while Messi is in the lineup, Real Madrid striker Higuain, who has yet to play in Argentina's qualifiers, and Martin Palermo, the Boca Juniors leading scorer, will contest the other lead spot. For the moment, Higuain seems to be a step ahead. The rest of the lineup for Saturday's match will include Sergio Romero, Jonas Gutierrez, Rolando Schiavi, Gabriel Heinze, Emiliano Insua, Enzo Perez, Javier Mascherano, Angel Di Maria, and Pablo Aimar, a team official said.
Maradona has been at odds with AFA technical secretary Carlos Bilardo, who coached him in Argentina's 1986 World Cup-winning squad at Mexico, and at Italy four years later. He said Bilardo should have traveled to England to persuade Manchester City to rest defender Pablo Zabaleta and striker Carlos Tevez.
Zabaleta returned unfit to play against Peru. Argentines are losing their patience with Maradona after losses against Brazil and Paraguay have left the team struggling in fifth place. Brazil with 33 points, and Paraguay on 30 have already qualified. Chile (27), Ecuador (23) and Argentina (22) round out the top five, while Uruguay and Venezuela have 21.
The top four teams from South American qualifying earn an automatic berth for the World Cup, while the No. 5 team faces a playoff in November with the fourth-placed side from the North and Central American and Caribbean region for another berth.
Maradona has led Argentina to four losses and only two wins, with 12 goals against and only six in its favor. He also had a poor record in his short time as a coach in the 1990s, when he led two Argentine clubs to 5 wins and 29 losses.
The team will practice again Thursday afternoon, avoiding the twice-a-day workouts conducted by most national teams. Maradona said in a television interview after taking over as coach that he only works in the afternoon because he likes to sleep in.
This rankles many Argentines. Polls show a majority feels Maradona is unfit to coach, despite his success as a player.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
After six games, Barcelona is the only team still unbeaten and stay on top of La Liga with 3 points advantage over the nearest rivals Real and Sevilla. Real suffered their first loss of the season at Sevilla, going down 1-2. Barcelona needs to get back to their old form and play better football than the match against Almeria.
The La Liga standing/ranking is on the right column above Google ads. Check it out! It will stay there... probably forever.
Sevilla snaps Real Madrid unbeaten start with win
MADRID: Sevilla beat a Cristiano Ronaldo-less Real Madrid 2-1 on Sunday to end the Spanish powerhouse's unbeaten start to the season.
Renato was left unmarked to turn in Adriano's 66th-minute cross for the winner in front of 45,500 fans at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium.
Jesus Navas opened the scoring for Sevilla in the 33rd, charging into the area to head Fernando Navarro's floated cross home at the far post.
Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas then made two point-blank saves to keep Madrid in the game.
A momentary lapse by Sevilla three minutes into the second half allowed Pepe to head home an equalizer against the run of play.
The result means that Sevilla joins Madrid on 15 points, three behind Barcelona, which has started the season with six straight wins. - AP
Fifth Straight Win for Barcelona
Messi 5; Planning to move to Barcelona soon
Messi's Double Leads Barcelona in thrashing over Athletico
Messi, Ronaldo score as Barcelona and Real Madrid top the Spanish League
Older Posts: Messi The Legend
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Spanish La Liga Roundup, Oct. 3
MADRID (AP) - Pedro Rodriguez's spectacular first-half goal led Barcelona to a 1-0 win over Almeria to maintain the Spanish champion's unbeaten start to the season.
Pedro took a pass from Maxwell at the top of the area in the 31st before swiveling to fire a hard shot beyond goalkeeper Diego Alves into the far top corner.
Barcelona - missing Thierry Henry for the second straight game - recorded its sixth straight win to reach 18 points, three more than undefeated Real Madrid, which can keep pace with its archrival with a victory at Sevilla on Sunday.
Goalkeeper David de Gea helped Atletico Madrid to its first victory of the season in a nervy 2-1 win over Zaragoza. The teenager, who was making his debut, stopped a penalty and made a fine save late in the game to prevent Atletico from starting the season winless in six games for the first time.
Earlier Saturday, Diego Colotto scored from a corner in the 60th as Deportivo La Coruna beat Tenerife 1-0 for the Galician club to join third-place Sevilla on 12 points.
Almeria's bruising play early on drew the ire of the Camp Nou crowd but did little to disrupt Barcelona's possession, with the Catalans spending much of the game inside its opponent's half but only managing seven shots on goal.
"We tried to take the game inside to (Lionel) Messi but we couldn't make that extra pass," Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said.
Almeria coach Hugo Sanchez was pleased his strategy of individually marking both Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta kept Barcelona's attack largely at bay.
"To play against such a dangerous team and to keep it back ... we're happy, but not satisfied because we didn't bring a point back," said Sanchez, who was making his first return to the Camp Nou since 1991 when the Mexican striker played for Real Madrid.
Pedro was unlucky not to score in the 18th after volleying Zlatan Ibrahimovic's floating cross on goal, as Alves got his foot out to deflect it off the post.
A minute later, Xavi headed Daniel Alves' cross over with no one but the Almeria goalkeeper to beat.
Xavi tested Alves after the start of the second half and the Brazil goalkeeper did well to get a hand out in the 77th to deny Ibrahimovic's low shot. The Sweden striker, who was celebrating his 28th birthday, had scored in each of Barcelona's first five games. Cesar Rodriguez is the only other Barcelona player to manage that feat - during the 1950-51 season.
Barcelona's defense, which was without the injured Dmytro Chygrynskiy, did not allow Almeria a single shot on goal.
At the Vicente Calderon, Jose Manuel Jurado slotted a loose ball inside the area past goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo to open the scoring after two minutes.
Goalkeeper De Gea, filling in for regular Sergio Asenjo who is away on Under-20 World Cup duty with Spain, tripped up Jorge Lopez inside the area to concede a 20th-minute penalty. But the 18-year-old saved Marko Babic's spotkick diving to his left.
Diego Forlan had a number of chances from long-range before Antonio Lopez scored with a free kick in the 66th.
But Zaragoza provided a nervy ending when substitute Ewerthon scored a 71st-minute penalty after Tomas Ujfalusi was booked for a challenge on Javier Arizmendi inside the area.
In Sunday's other games, it's: Xerez vs. Malaga; Villarreal vs. Espanyol; Valladolid vs. Athletic Bilbao; Sporting Gijon vs. Mallorca; Getafe vs. Osasuna; and Racing Santander vs. Valencia.