Tag Archives: france

Kickoff!! Day one at the World Cup

The first day of the World Cup! I was like a kid on Christmas morning, up at 5:00 am. Think that may have had more to do with late-night beers and chicken wings with Brent and Kev the night before…damn that habanero pepper sauce!! But after enjoying the sight of a dung beetle  crawling around on a soccer ball at the opening ceremonies, and shedding a silent tear for Nelson Mandela, I settled in for South Africa v. Mexico.  My prediction of 1-1 in that match came true, a good start for the hosts and the tournament in general, although plenty of people were left confused by Mexico’s offside goal in the first half. There was no doubt, of course, about Siphiwe Tshabalala’s wonder strike that gave Bafana Bafana the lead, a worthy goal to open the finals. Even Rafa Marquez’s reply 12 minutes from time that brought Mexico level couldn’t silence thousands of vuvuzela’s buzzing at full volume, and the opener was in the books. Must say I’m not wild about the format of the BBC online match report – maybe I’ll grow to like it.

After breaking for lunch, my forecast of three goals and a Uruguay victory in their game against France proved wildly optimistic. The scoreless draw was mostly dreary affair, with young Uruguayan Nicolas Lodeiro shown red after a disastrous 16-minute spell as a substitute, and Thierry Henry, of all people, demanding a handball after blasting the ball off Mauricio Victorino’s right arm, an arm that was drawn in to Victorino’s side. Whatever, Thierry. That’s like Diego Maradona calling for more fair play. Oh, right. Whatever, Diego.

Another big day coming up tomorrow, with Diego’s Argentina getting set to open up against Nigeria. But my favourite story of day one was news of the double delays suffered by Team USA, stuck behind elephants on the roads of Rustenburg. If they think that’s bad, wait till they get thrown to the Lions on Saturday. Come on En-ger-land!!

Ian Harrison

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Best of the Prem: Starting XI

Brent Lanthier

After one of the closest seasons in years, the EPL produced some breakout superstars, as well as some familiar faces who are almost guaranteed to perform.  Here is my dream team for 2009-10.


Brent’s choice for Player of the Year. Sorry, Wayne…

GK: Joe Hart (Birmingham City)
Despite facing the third most shots in the League, Hart still had the second best save percentage, and starting every game in his loan to Birmingham. At 23, he is simply a better keeper than Shay Given, which says a lot. Look for Man City to tighten up at the back as Hart returns to Lancashire.

On the bench: Brad Friedel (Aston Villa), Petr Cech (Chelsea)

LB: Patrice Evra (Manchester United)
France’s newly crowned capitaine, Evra is a left-back who is a pure defender. Fierce and fiery, the Senegalese-born defender has disrupted the attack of many a right winger this season, and turned play around quickly on the counter-attack.

On the bench: Leighton Baines (Everton)

CB: Richard Dunne (Aston Villa)
One of Martin O’Neill’s most important pieces of business last year was the purchase of Manchester City’s former captain, Richard Dunne. The mighty Irishman is simply scary, but he’s also a leader on the pitch and proved invaluable in Villa’s drive for European football.

CB: John Terry (Chelsea)
Despite all of Captain Schtupping’s off-field problems, Terry eventually regained his composure to captain Chelsea to the rare double. Despite the unfortunate game against Everton, despite the sending off against Tottenham, and despite the poor showing against Inter Milan, Terry is still the bedrock of one of the best defences in the Premier League.

On the bench: Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal), Jody Craddock (Wolverhampton)

RB: Carlos Cuellar (Aston Villa)
The Spanish defender is a centre-half-cum-right-back, a common occurance in a league that seems to have little regard for the position. Picked up by Villa from Glasgow Rangers, Cuellar is the only member of Martin O’Neill’s preferred starting XI to not have been capped by his country. Villa will likely buy a natural RB after South Africa, but Cuellar has done an admirable job out of position.

On the bench: Bacary Sagna (Arsenal)

LW: Florent Malouda (Chelsea)
This Frenchman experienced a rebirth under Carlo Ancelotti. He was utilized as defensive midfielder — and even a left back — under Avram Grant and Big Phil Scolari. But this season, he had 14 goals and 10 assists, and was an important part of Chelsea’s double-winning season.

On the bench: Ashley Young (Aston Villa)

CM: Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
Twenty-two goals and 14 assists, Lampard is the complete player, year in and year out. He’s the engine of HMS Chelsea.

CM: Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)
Arsenal’s captain and best player at only 23 years old, the Gunners suffered when he got injured. Arsene Wenger needs to hang on to the Catalan in order to maintain his club’s Champions League spot.

On the bench: James Milner (Aston Villa), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

RW: Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)
This Ecuadorian had a bit of a slow start, but he came round once the season began to pick up.  The mirror image of Ryan Giggs on the right side, Valencia is a playmaker, spraying the ball with lethal accuracy, while picking up a smattering of goals along the way.  Wayne Rooney has said that Valencia is the reason why he scored so many goals this year. Shades of a posh former United player….

On the bench: Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool)

F: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
What else can be said about the Scouser in Manc clothing? He runs at defenders, he never gives up, he finds ways to score. One of the best players in the world.

F: Didier Drogba (Chelsea)
His World Cup-ending injury is a loss to football fans everywhere. This year’s Golden Boot winner simply wills his way into the box. His humanitarian efforts alone would make him easy to cheer for, if he didn’t pout so much, or engage in so many false theatrics.

On the bench: Darren Bent (Sunderland), Carlos Tevez (Manchester City)

That’s it for the Prem until next month. We’ll see how the trades play out over the summer. Enjoy the World Cup!

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Dr. Z’s World Cup predictions: Group A

Hadi Zogheib

With the World Cup now less than two weeks away, it’s time for old, out-of-shape wannabe footballers like myself to jump into the debate. In the coming days, I’ll be analyzing the teams group by group and, at the same time, attempting the impossible by predicting the outcomes. Wish me luck – I’ll need it! Let’s start with perhaps the toughest group to predict, at least on paper:

Group A

France: Although they are officially unseeded at this World Cup, the French will be the favourites in most people’s eyes. Hand of Henry aside, the French are too deep in talent at all positions to be written off so swiftly. Speedy, technically gifted, and boasting a proven pedigree of world class players, if the French can come together in the group stage, they can give any team in the competition a run for their money.

Uruguay: The absolute last team to qualify for the World Cup, they edged out Costa Rica on aggregate in a playoff. This team may be one of the more entertaining ones to watch, as they are strong up front and weak at the back. Goals should not be a problem for the South Americans, as they possess one of the most leathal strike partnerships in the tournament, with Diego Forlan of Atletico Madrid and Luis Suarez of Ajax combining for over 50 goals this season. If they can get their defence organized, this team may be the surprise of the early rounds.

Mexico: Perennial underachievers, the Mexicans will once again be a tough opponent for anyone. With a population of over 100 million and a passion for football that is second to none, it is amazing that the CONCACAF powerhouse has never progressed beyond the quarterfinals. They, like Uruguay, possess a strong set of strikers, such as premier leaguers Carlos Vela (Arsenal) and Guillermo Franco ( West Ham). Rafa Marquez of Barcelona will once again be called upon to anchor the defence (although he may be deployed as a holding midfielder as well). Time will tell if this is finally Mexico’s time to break through.

South Africa: The hosts can count themselves unlucky to be drawn into such a tough group. A poor showing in the recent Africa Cup of Nations tournaments does not bode well for them, but with over 60,000 people willing them to victory at every game, this team will not roll over easily. They are more than capable of emerging from the group.

Here are my predictions:

Results:

South Africa 1-1 Mexico

Uruguay 1-1 France

South Africa1-2 Uruguay

France 2-0 Mexico

South Africa 0-1 France

Uruguay 1-1 Mexico

Group Standings:

France 7 pts

Uruguay 5 pts

Mexico 2 pts

South Africa 1 pt

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France awarded Euro 2016


“What? What are you looking at?!?”

From ESPN Sportsnet:

“France has been chosen as the host nation for Euro 2016, beating rivals Italy and Turkey to the honour at a ceremony in Geneva on Friday afternoon. UEFA president Michel Platini, who was not allowed to have an input in the bidding process…”

I don’t know what was written after this, as I started to choke on my own tongue from laughing too hard….

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The Lyon merry-go-round

Hadi Zogheib

It is understood, in Europe, that the great players desire to play in the great leagues. This allows players to showcase their talents to a larger audience and enables them to reap the benefits of larger financial contracts and endorsements. Manchester United? Sure. Barcelona and Real Madrid? Obviously. Inter or Juve? Absolutely. Lyon? Er. Maybe for a while, but then…


Which is what makes Lyon’s staying power all the more impressive. They churn out talent – but it rarely sticks around. Michael Essien, Florent Malouda, Mahamadou Diarra, Gregory Coupet, Tiago, Eric Abidal, John Carew, Karim Benzema, Hatem Ben Arfa. They’ve all been there and had a hand in at least one of the five consecutive Ligue 1 titles Lyon boasts. And, inevitably, they’ve all left. Who wants to stick around when Chelsea, Real and Juve come calling?

It is understood that others will soon leave as well. Hugo Lloris is one of the top rated goalkeepers in Europe. Lisandro Lopez may be the next Diego Milito, looked over by the big clubs until late in his career. And the list of suitors for Aly Cissokho is too long to mention.

But until they leave, there is some unfinished business for the club. For all its domestic success, Lyon have had very little to cheer about in the Champions League. That’s all changed this year under manager Claude Puel. Down only 1-0 to Bayern after the away leg, Lyon has never had a better chance to get to the final of Europe’s biggest football stage. Wait, I thought you had to leave Lyon to go deep in the Champions League. Just ask Essien, Malouda or Benzema. Oh right, their teams have already been eliminated.

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