Friday, January 27, 2012

AFCON 2012 - Gabon vs. Morocco: What. A. Match.

Did anyone happen to see the AFCON 2012 crunch match between hosts Gabon and Morocco today?? If not, feast your eyes on one of the matches of the year:

What an incredible night for the hosts! The victory vaults Gabon into the quarterfinals of the tournament and ousts pre-tourney favorites Morocco. What late drama!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

El Clasico-FIFA '12 Correlation

El Clasico is nothing more than a bad FIFA '12 dream for Real Madrid.

Ramos receiving his marching orders after jumping near Messi
Ever play a crunch match in FIFA where you know you are better than your opponent? With the buzz of your 360 in the background, you dominate the first half, cause constant pressure, and have a bundle of goal-scoring chances. You're play is so flawless that it's only a matter of time before you score.

But then, you don't. Shots rifle off the post and your striker for some reason doesn't convert a chance he would nine times out of ten. Doubt creeps in your mind. It's going to be "one of those games," where this jerk I'm playing, who is a cheese team like Barcelona, pulls one back against the run of play. And then before half-time that exactly happens. Bam, Messi does something and somehow the balls in the back of the net. Then to compound this misery, a ridiculous strike from nowhere is scored leaving you to say: I hate this game. It's 2-0, it's Barca, there's no way back.

Nothing is more unnerving. This is El Clasico for Real Madrid. Things simply do not go their way. They deserved to win yesterday, the other day, and usually. They pounded Barca in the first half and wound up two nil down. This logically means Barcelona are so good they're cheap. They are the left trigger + Y pass to a fast player move in FIFA: downright annoying.

I could care less about La Liga, Barcelona, or Real Madrid, but watching highlights of last nights game screamed to me FIFA '12 injustice! Disagree or not, the scenario that happened to Madrid last night has happened to you while playing FIFA online or with friends.

Perhaps I'm playing too much FIFA '12?

Photo Credit:
EA Sports

Horrible Own Goal!

Courtesy of the Costa Rican keeper during a 2012 Women's Olympic Soccer Qualifier versus Canada. Also incidentally made better by the Canadian commentator.

There's a lesson to be learned about trapping for youth players here. Don't do that. How embarrassing. But look on the bright-side, you were already down 4-0!

Video Credits:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lessons In Scoring Goals - Alessandro Del Piero

The old dog was at it again in Juventus' Coppa Italia matchup with Roma this afternoon, burying a beautifully taken shot from the edge of the box into the top corner, past a helpless Maarten Stekelenburg.

Juventus 2 - 0 AS Roma by Anatolly7

Even though I'm sad this was against Roma...that's how it's done. Bravo, Ale!

Video Credit:
101 Great Goals

Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekend Reflection: The Unispired Commentary of Martin Tyler

As I watched Antonio Valencia's 1st half header sail into to net during Manchester United's crunch match with Arsenal this past weekend, I was displeased by the reaction of match commentator Martin Tyler. How boring and unenthusiastic can you be when a go ahead goal is scored? You would think a hint of excitement would shake in one's voice when calling a goal, but apparently Tyler missed his cue:

This comes as no surprise to me. I find time and again, Martin Tyler is flat and dry in his commentary. His knowledge of the game is extraordinary, there's no doubting that, but he often sounds lazy and uninterested, even when exciting things are abound on the pitch. Ironically, Tyler is regaled as one of the top announcers in world football. Nothing against Tyler and his nasally sidekick Alan Smith, but my personal preference is to hear a shout of delight when a goal is scored. I'm sure many would agree.

Just to prove my point, I'll match Tyler with another commentator on the same day, calling the Manchester City vs. Tottenham game. Bale's goal:

A cracking equalizer in a pulsating game? Could this be the reason for this commentators excitement and delight at a great goal? Let's revisit Tyler calling an equally important goal in Welbeck's winner:

Yawnfest! The United youngster just sealed a crucial victory in his team's quest to catch their city rivals atop the Premier League and this is all we get? Surely he could have done better. 

Nothing is worse than an uninspired commentator. It doesn't ruin the game, but it makes you want their boring voices to stop, rather than continue to inform and delight you. So please, if you're calling a top flight game, make it exciting. Oh, and one more for the road....the absolute batsh*t crazy passionate announcer Carlo Zampa of AS Roma:

This guy might die young. Heart attacks are often fatal.

Video Credits:

Friday, January 20, 2012

PSG: Why'd They Fire This Guy?

Why me?
As a supporter of the enticingly put together Paris Saint-Germain squad, I could not be happier to see experienced tactician Carlo Ancelotti at the helm. He has big club experience, a winning mentality, and a silverware cabinet any club coach would dream of. But I do wonder why exactly Antoine Kombouaré was dismissed. The reasoning for his dismissal is not really logical in traditional terms of output.

Common thought indicates he was sent home because the hot-seat got too hot for him. There were numerous reports of his possible dismissal throughout the beginning of this season, which mounted pressure until the end of the year. But how is this hot-seat different from any other in a major European League? Pressure is always there. You win, you stay. You lose, you go. This mantra did not exactly hold true in Paris for ol' Antoine, as PSG Director Leonardo ultimately sacked him.

Ironically, Kombouaré had PSG in first place at the holiday break and poised to make a serious title run in 2012. Moreover, last year's squad, without superstar reinforcements signed with Qatari money over the summer, were a mere four points from Champions League football. Pair these facts with likely additions on the way this January and one might have imagined the team would ride the Kombouaré bus until at least summer. The only detriment toward the above successes is PSG's failure in the Europa League. Though knocked out of said competition, Kombouaré still had the team on track to reach their season goals: a league title + Champions League Qualification. asserts the former PSG man's firing might have something to do with race. Though I think this argument misses the mark, it is troubling to think Kombouaré was "the only black coach left in the top flight of any of Europe's top leagues." That fact alone warrants thought about why there are not more black men in top coaching roles, but in this case, there were a few other factors at play that sealed the Kombouaré's fate.

A more likely reason for Kombouaré's dismissal is simply the situation he found himself in. Regardless of his successful season, Qatari money flowing into PSG at breakneck speed equates to big names and headlines. Granted, I don't think they will build the squad in "Manchester City fashion," but I do believe a relatively unsuccessful team will be made into a winner. Could Kombouaré keep control of big name signings with big egos and the responsibility of having to at the very least win the French League every year? As a relatively inexperienced coach, probably not. Thus, the feeling of big money owners at this junction is usually the desire to have a renowned gaffer who can win everything.

Smiles all around. Except for Antoine Whatshisname.

Enter a renowned gaffer. Carlo Ancelotti's (a) accessibility and (b) amicable relationship with Leonardo while at Milan, essentially forced Kombouaré's sacking. How could PSG pass up the chance to land Ancelotti? Even if Kombouaré had a stellar year and won Ligue 1, he most likely lacks the pedigree to win a Champions League at this point in his managerial career. Ancelotti on the other hand, has the prestige and experience to win the big one. Leonardo would have been kicking himself had Ancelotti agreed to join another big club in the summer, when the opportunity to snap him up in January had arisen. Therefore, right or wrong, this change was inevitable.

Though I'm glad to see such a successful manager lead a team I support, I still believe Kombouaré was dismissed unreasonably. He did mostly everything right with a powerful team at his disposal and acted honorably throughout. The unlucky former coach just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Regardless, I still can't help but question brazen business actions that occur when money is in abundance. Sometimes it's downright dirty. I hope to see Antoine Kombouaré on another sideline thriving very soon!

Photo Credits:
Sky Sports

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nakamura Rips Free Kick Into Moving Bus

Just a trick shot you say? He did it against United in the Champions League too, remember:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ba-Cisse: Bing Bang Boom, We Go To Europe

Newcastle United's £10m move for Senegalese striker Papiss Demba Cisse was completed on Tuesday morning. Cisse joins the Magpies after an impressive 22 goals in 32 games last season, and nine in 15 this year, all with Bundesliga team SC Freiburg.

This move seems all but successful (already), according to top pundits who are doting on the prospect of a Demba Ba - Papiss Demba Cisse super Sengalese strike force (better known as the Demba Duo). As a budding appreciator of a sturdy Newcastle squad this season, I'll admit, this move looks like it will pay great dividends for the club. Newcastle has a great defense, hardworking midfield, and already capable striker in Demba Ba. The addition of Cisse could very well keep Newcastle on course to hover among the top 7, earning a precious European berth a mere two seasons after being relegated to the Championship.

The one downside I can see is that both players will missing in action for perhaps a month due to the African Nations Cup, which starts this weekend. But, since both are Senegalese, the upside is they will be training and bonding while away from their club.

This looks like another master stroke signing for Alan Pardew and owner Mike Ashley, who fabricated the Andy Carroll sale last January, and followed up by signing the likes of Hatem Ben Arfa (permanently), Davide Santon, Yohan Cabaye, Gabriel Obertan, and the original Demba Duo's Demba Ba. Strangely enough, the team probably still has £15m give or take in the transfer kitty - thanks Andy Carroll, ya big ugly flop! Good management all around, and good luck to those Magpies. I'm hoping the smart guys finish well.

Photo Credit: Bleacher Report

F*ck FIFA '12, I'm Back

FIFA no more, I say.

Pick up your controller and come back to me...

No Javier Pastore I will not!

Sorry for the inactivity over the course of the past few months, but FIFA '12 got me hooked. Navigating the Head to Head Seasons competition with PSG enveloped my life for a few hours each day. It's like a drug, really. When you lose, you play more because you want to win. And when you win, the going is good, so you play more! What a conundrum.

I managed to frustratingly fall short of cup titles, Division 1 promotion, and other accolades, because of gamers who want to win so bad the only teams they select are Real Madrid, Barcelona, or the Spanish national team. Not fair, b*tches. After being relegated from Division 2 I made up my mind to do something more productive with my time like write about soccer or play it. So here we are. I am dedicated to writing first, gaming second. 

What's on the docket, you ask? Well, I don't know. All the football gossip you crave? You bet. It's the transfer window, after-all, so let's start with some juicy rumors from our friends over at Football Spy:

 Stay tuned for more fun folks. And bear with me, I'm in FIFA rehab.

Photo Credits: Europa League,
Video Credits: Football Spy via