Saturday, 9 October 2010

10 Things I've learned from my first GBK experience.

10. A Diego Forlan-less Uruguay side can still annihilate Indonesia.
9. No Blackberry internet services exist in and around Gelora Bung Karno.
8. Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez could've easily scored more.
7. Indonesia's Bambang Pamungkas should have never been taken off. We lost all aerial battles since he left the field.
6. The Indonesia team were actually good enough to score 1 against a team who came 4th in the last World Cup.
5. Everyone in the stadium agreed on one chant, "NURDIN TURUN!! NURDIN TURUN!!"
4. The battle of the #15's were the best! Diego Perez vs Firman Utina.
3. Step aside Nurdin Halid, PSSI doesn't need a guy with a bad criminal record to control our football!
2. After the final whistle, let the Indonesian players have your jersey guys! It might be their only highlight of their disappointing career which was crushed by Nurdin Halid.
1. Hey! At least I get to see 8 goals on my first game at the Gelora Bung Karno stands.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Yugoslavia's National Team - If they never broke apart

Fig 1. Yugoslavia's old National Flag
Yugoslavia, the country in the heart of Europe with a large de facto area highlighted by numerous political conflicts within the country. The country also produced some fine talents in football and qualified for Euro 1992 which was held in Sweden but later was forced to pull out of the competition due to political issues in the country that couldn't be resolved easily which eventually led to be sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 757 thus leading to being banned from appearing (not going to detail on the history here, just stating the outter line for more info on their break up click here). Their replacements Denmark won Euro instead.

Now Yugoslavia is now long-gone and their former countries had considerable success in terms of Footballing sense. Yugoslavia broke to 6 different countries. Those countries are Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, and Macedonia.

Croatia has reached 3rd place in the 1998 World Cup, while Slovenia has qualified for 2002 & 2010 World Cups. Serbia(& Montenegro) reached the last 2 tournaments in 2006 & 2010 with ease but underachieved in the final stages. Bosnia-Herz has gona closer and closer to achieve something big and their national players have gone better and better. The least successful of them are Macedonia, and their not half bad themselves actually.

The writer wrote this article here to imagine "Who would make it into a 23-man Yugoslavia squad??" since with the wealth of talent they have, few faces might miss out on the chance.

Fig 2. Samir Handanovic
If you are going to a World Cup or a EURO tournament, there should only be 23 players in a team with 3 Goalies. Samir Handanovic of Slovenia gets my vote alongside Serbia's Vladimir Stojkovic with Bosnian youngster Asmir Begovic completing the Goal line.

Fig 3. Nemanja Vidic
Serbia has some of the best defenders across the European elite leagues so their first choice defense line will definitely make it into my squad in the form of Nemanja Vidic, Branislav Ivanovic, Aleksandr Lukovic, and Aleksandr Kolarov. Croatia's Vedran Corluka & Darijo Srna will add depth in the Yugoslavia squad on the flanks and in the middle along with Branko Ilic of Slovenia who had a great World Cup a couple of months ago.

Fig 4. Luka Modric and Niko Kranjcar
Here, all of the countries had strong competition - so strong I decided to pick only 7 defenders to compensate with 8 midfielders. Luka Modric and Niko Kranjcar of Croatia are definite picks for my Yugoslavia team. Slovenia captain Robert Koren will be great in the middle of the park alongside Serbia's captain Dejan Stankovic. Competition on the wings would be completed with two Serbs in newly-signed Juventus player Milos Krasic and newly-signed Liverpool player Milan Jovanovic. Montenegro's Simon Vukcevic would make my team for his ability in dead-ball situations.

Fig 5. Edin Dzeko
Even I'm not going to be pleased with my striker choices because of all the possibilities available. For sure Bosnia's biggest star Edin Dzeko comes into my team alongside Macedonia's biggest star Goran Pandev. Mirko Vucinic is another Montenegro's representative in this star-studded squad. Croatia's striker duo Eduardo and Ivica Olic completes my Yugoslavia 23-man squad.

Final Squad:
Samir Handanovic, Vladimir Stojkovic, Asmir Begovic (GK); Nemanja Vidic, Branislav Ivanovic, Aleksandr Kolarov, Aleksandr Lukovic, Vedran Corluka, Darijo Srna, Branko Ilic (DF); Luka Modric, Niko Kranjcar, Robert Koren, Dejan Stankovic, Milos Krasic, Milan Jovanovic, Simon Vukcevic (MF); Edin Dzeko, Mirko Vucinic, Goran Pandev, Eduardo, Ivica Olic (FW).

My Starting Yugoslavia Lineup (4-4-2):

Virtual 30-man squad players (Honorable Mentions):
Stipe Pletikosa (Goalkeeper) - Croatia
Stevan Jovetic (Striker) - Montenegro
Zvjezdan Misimovic (Midfielder) - Bosnia & Herzegovina
Nikola Zigic (Striker) - Serbia
Ivan Fatic (Defender) - Montenegro
Zdravko Kuzmanovic (Midfielder) - Serbia
Vedad Ibisevic (Striker) - Bosnia & Herzegovina

Imagine if this team had qualified for any competition, who would bet against them? This team is sick! even no place for Kuzmanovic or Jovetic somehow in the team.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Real Madrid vs Manchester CIty: Battle of the transfer quality & quantity.

This transfer season as you may seen has been dominated by 2 teams; The original faces in Real Madrid and new contenders Manchester City. Each team has signed 6 and 7 players respectively as of the time this article has been written (and rumors suggest that Real Madrid wants to sign 1 last player in this transfer window). Both clubs have been splashing the cash and have caused mixed opinions on their signings. Let us take a look on their signings these season shall we:

Real Madrid:
Angel Di Maria (ARG) from Benfica, €25 M.
Pedro Leon (ESP) from Getafe, €10 M
Sergio Canales (ESP) from Racing Santander, €4.5 M
Sami Khedira (GER) from VfB Stuttgart, €14 M
Ricardo Carvalho (POR) from Chelsea, €8 M
Mesut Ozil (GER) from Werder Bremen, €15 M

Total Spending: €76.5 Million.

Manchester City:
David Gonzalez (COL) free transfer
Jerome Boateng (GER) from HSV, €10.4 M
David Silva (ESP) from Valencia, €25 M
Yaya Toure (CIV) from Barcelona, €24 M
Aleksandar Kolarov (SRB) from Lazio, €16 M
Mario Balotelli (ITA) from Internazionale, €24 M
James Milner (ENG) from Aston Villa, €26 M + Stephen Ireland (IRE)

Total: €125 M + 1 player.

Quality indeed these players being brought in of course, but what bothers me is the quantity of the money being spent AND the amount of players being brought in. Seriously, it FREAKS me that these teams just couldn't work and deal with what they have. The difference in both these teams are that Real Madrid looks more likely to win anything while Man City looks to be heading into a mediocre title challenge.

Real Madrid has lost their legends in Raul Gonzalez and Guti Hernandez because they both just wanted a new challenge and they leave being highly regarded for their services in the past and Coach Jose Mourinho just had to by players to cover these departures. Mesut Ozil and Sergio Canales are there to replace Guti while Mourinho is still in the market to by a striker.

While Man City... they're just buying players for fun with good quality players have to be kicked out because of these signings. Players such as Craig Bellamy and Fans 2008 player of the year Stephen Ireland has left while rumors suggest Robinho, Roque Santa Cruz, Jo, and Emmanuel Adebayor are looking to leave. Critics have been doing their job mostly on the signing of James Milner because he has been exchanged with arguably a better player in Stephen Ireland, and the capture of talented young striker (but temperamental) Mario Balotelli.

Both these teams though share a single similarity, which is having rivals who are a bit stronger. Real Madrid's biggest rival Barcelona only spent big bucks on David Villa (Valencia) and Adriano Correia (Sevilla) compared to Real's 6 signings currently. While City's rivals, Chelsea and neighbors Manchester United had spent little amount of money on only few players, with Chelsea signing 2 players and United signing 3. Even with the small amount of transfers among their rivals, Barcelona are still favorites to win the La Liga while Chelsea and Manchester United looks more stronger in many ways compared to Manchester City.

Money can't buy you love, but we will see at the end of the season whether it could buy a good football team.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

The "What ifs?" of Germany's World Cup Campaign

This was posted on my Posterous account like 2 weeks ago, don't accuse of being late in posting something World Cup-related. I'm just re-posting what I wrote there.

The FIFA World Cup is over, and Germany's young squad missed out to eventual champions Spain in the semifinals, and ended up 3rd overall after winnign against Uruguay. Despite a great squad and performance by young players, it took everyone away from the thought that most of their key-players were actually missing from the tournament. And their path to the Semi-finals didn't come with ease. I would just like to imagine the "What ifs?"  of this German squad and would've happened.

Fig 1. Robert Enke
First of the problems came way before the World Cup happened where Robert Enke - Germany's 1st choice Goalkeeper - attempted suicide back in November 2009. His replacement the young and promising Rene Adler declared he would not take part in the upcoming World Cup to undergo a surgery for his rib injury a month before the World Cup began. So up stepped another promising Goalkeeper in Manuel Neuer who played magnificently in the World Cup. But here comes the question, "What if Robert Enke didn't die and what if Rene Adler didn't get injured?". Maybe and just maybe, Germany wouldn't concede that goal against Serbia which cost them the game, or maybe the goal from Carles Puyol in the semis.

Fig 2. Heiko Westermann
Next comes the defence problems. Schalke defender Heiko Westermann was scheduled to be a key player in the German's defence to pair up with Per Mertesacker but broke his foot in the last warmup game before the World Cup. Arne Friedrich who was scheduled to play as rightback was then converted as Westermann's replacement and playing well with a goal to add in the competition. Westermann's injury forced Phillip Lahm to switch sides from Leftback to Rightback and leaving young players in Holger Badstuber and Jerome Boateng sharing roles as back-up left-back. My question here is , "What if Heiko Westermann didn't get injured?". Will either Badstuber or Boateng be even called-up to the national squad? if they did, would they get a minute on the pitch? Friedrich was great in teh heart of the German defence but he may have had a better performance should he had played in his natural position as rightback.

Fig 3. Michael Ballack
Then the centrepiece of them all, the captaincy. First choice captain Michael Ballack injured his ankle in his last game as a Chelsea player against Portsmouth in the FA Cup final where his opponent Kevin-Prince Boateng tackled late on him causing Ballack to miss the World Cup. Boateng incidentally, is Jerome Boateng's brother whom both played for Germany in youth levels. Kevin-Prince though decided to play for Ghana and help their campaign in the World Cup. Michael Ballack's place however, was replaced by Stuttgart midfielder Sami Khedira and his captaincy fell to Phillip Lahm's arms, while his proud #13 shirt was worn by young striker Thomas Muller. Khedira had a blast in the World Cup which lead interest from Real Madrid and Manchester United while Phillip Lahm lead the team by example, and Thomas Muller snatching the Golden Boot and Best young player. The question that fits here is, "What if Michael Ballack didn't lose his captaincy because of Kevin-Prince Boateng's late tackle?" who knows Ballack wouldve played better than Khedira would, and could've lead the team to even the World Cup Final.

Fig 4. Miroslav Klose  & Lukas Podolski
Strikers selection also became an issue. Usual choices Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose have both flopped in the league, while Cacau is naturally a Brazilian who has a German citizenship. That leaves the inform strikers of last season's Bundesliga are Stefan Keissling, Kevin Kuranyi and youngster Thomas Muller. To the surprise of everyone Podolski and Klose were chosen after all following a horrid season and Cacau too added to the squad. Kevin Kuranyi earlier in the year had a bust-up with Germany head coach Joachim Low so he wouldn't be called up, which gives Thomas Muller a chance to be part of the squad including Keissling and Spanish-born Mario Gomez in the squad as well. Media and fans criticized Low's selection policy as being "too trustworthy of Podolski and Klose". But as it turned out, Klose and Podolski both had great tournaments with Klose scoring 4 and Podolski scoring 2. Thomas Muller scored 5 and became topscorer of the worldcup, while Cacau managed to score one himself. The questions now are, "What if Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Muller was never called-up to the National team? and what if Cacau never took Germany citizenship?". Certainly things would have been very different.

Fig 5. Lampard's shot crossing the line
Then came that game against England in the round of 16. Germany took the lead with goals from Podolski and Klose but England narrowed the gap with a Matthew Upson header to make the game 2-1 to Deutschland. Moments after Upson scored, Frank Lampard attempted a long range shot which bounced off under the crossbar which England fans thought that it crossed the goal-line for an equalizer, but referee Jorge Larrionda and his assistants ruled that it did not pass the line although replays showed that it passed the line by quite a margin. England never got back into the game and concede a further 2 goals from a double by Thomas Muller and lost 1-4. Next question would be, "What if Frank Lampard's goal was given?" England could have gone back into the match and fight until the death if the scores were tied again, but yet again the German side that day was unstoppable.

Fig 6. Thomas Muller
Thomas Muller's red hot form did not stop there as he scored and helped Germany thump Argentina 4-0 but got his second yellow card of the tournament for a challenge which couldve been avoided and misses the Semifinals against Spain because of this. Germany lost that game because they couldnt counter as much as they wouldve liked against a stubborn Spanish defence line probably because of a certain missing link on the right side of attack in Muller. Spain won the semifinals - and eventually the World Cup - with a 1-0 scoreline. Here comes the last question, "What would've happened if Thomas Muller actually played in the semifinals?". I don't know if he would've made a significant impact considering how great Spain's defence is, but you can't stop the writer from wondering...

Now to recap them all, "What if all those never happened? could Germany got even closer to winning the World Cup?" They certainly have excelled from their shortages, but it goes to wonder what if they didn't have their key absentees...

Been a while, back to Blogspot!

I'm back at Blogger for now, this is for a School Project. I've been posting at Posterous lately and just as now have been posting again at Blogspot. Looking forward.