• Monday, 31 August 2009

    Three-way split: Ligue 1 reviews

    Lorient 1-0 Le Mans
    St Etienne 1-0 Grenoble
    Lens 2-2 Rennes
    Sochaux 1-0 Monaco
    Boulogne 0-0 Auxerre
    Nice 0-3 Montpellier
    Lyon 3-1 Nancy
    Toulouse 0-1 Valenciennes
    PSG 3-0 Lille
    Marseille 0-0 Bordeaux

    With the top two unable to muster a goal between them, PSG made it a three-way tie at the top of Ligue 1 after they'd beaten neighbours Lille at Parc des Princes. Jeremy Clément gave the Parisians a half-time lead and second half goals from Pegguy Luyindula and Christophe Jallet sealed the deal. Later the same evening, Marseille and Bordeaux drew a blank though Brandao and Benoit Cheyrou both went close for the home side. Lyon are the third of the triumvirate that sit on top of the league after they had an easy time of it at home to Nancy. Again, the new signings were the headline grabbers, Bafetimbi Gomis, Lisandro Lopez and Michel Bastos all on target in a 3-1 win. Youssouf Hadji got Nancy's consolation, but Lyon look a more cohesive unit this time despite losing the undoubted talents of Juninho and Karim Benzema. Benzema attracted the sort of money any Ligue 1 club cannot turn down while Juninho's insistence that everything went through him had become a liability as his pace - never that great in the first place - deserted him over the last couple of years. They've now got younger, hungrier and quicker players and look a real force.

    Montpellier are right up there after a comfortable win over Nice who ended with ten men. They were already three down by the time Onyekachi Apam was dismissed, Geoffrey Dernis, Victor Montano and Lilian Compan all having scored. Toulouse have made a poor start after a decent year last time, a late goal from Mamadou Samassa securing a win for Valenciennes, their first points of the season. St Etienne too got their first win, Christophe Landrin with the only goal against Grenoble. 1-0 was good enough for Lorient against Le Mans as well, Marama Vahirua with the winner, as it was for Sochaux against Monaco. Vaclav Sverkos converted a 20th minute penalty to give Les Lionceaux the win. Boulogne grabbed another point with a goalless draw at home to struggling Auxerre while Lens and Rennes shared four goals and two red cards at the Felix-Bollaert. Ismael Bangoura put Rennes ahead in the first minute, but Yohan Demont's penalty pegged it back twenty minutes later. Marco Ramos was sent off six minutes after half-time for Lens and was followed twenty minutes afterwards by Yann M'Vila for Rennes. Issam Jemaa put Lens in front shortly after, but Asamoah Gyan levelled matters in the last minute.

    Robben and Ribéry make Bayern a force: Bundesliga reviews

    Monchengladbach 2-0 Mainz
    Schalke 0-1 Freiburg
    Stuttgart 0-0 Nurnberg
    Eintracht 1-1 Dortmund
    Hannover 0-1 Hoffenheim
    Leverkusen 2-1 Bochum
    Bayern 3-0 Wolfsburg
    Hertha 2-3 Bremen
    Hamburg 3-1 Cologne

    It's official. It takes €25m, or thereabouts, to turn a club from a complete farce into a genuine force. That's the price Bayern paid to Real Madrid for Arjen Robben, but that's only really half the story: Franck Ribéry is back as well. The value of the Frenchman to the club is enormous, as the performances without him have testified. Wolfsburg, on the other hand, just aren't clicking. Josué was out for this one and the team struggled to get Edin Dzeko involved, though the Bosnian came close twice, hitting the post with a superb shot on the the turn and forcing Hans-Jorg Butt - the veteran in for the ever more flappy Michael Rensing - into a brilliant reflex save. Mario Gomez had put the Bavarians ahead when Diego Benaglio couldn't hold Hamit Altintop's long range strike and spilled it at Gomez's feet, but the real difference opened up when Altintop was withdrawn at half-time and Robben was sent on. Bayern were a team transformed with attacks coming from all angles, totally overwhelming the Wolfsburg defence. With Anatoliy Tymoschuk providing defensive solidity in midfield, Ribéry and Robben had free rein and the former sent the latter away for Bayern's second, though the shot took a nasty deflection which took it away from Benaglio. The same two were involved for the third, Ribéry slipping a square ball in for the Dutchman who sent the defenders out for a paper with an outrageous dummy before slotting home. What a debut. They're back.

    It's Hamburg who are top though after another impressive win, Paolo Guerrero bagging two more as Cologne, who slip to bottom place, were put away 3-1. Guerrero's first came courtesy of some slack defending, but the second was all quality, his low strike coming on the end of some slick football. Adil Chihi gave Cologne hope with quarter of an hour to go thanks to this 30-yard speculator, but Piotr Trochowski's late penalty ensured no dramas for the new league leaders. Leverkusen eased past Bochum to remain level with Hamburg, though they had to come from behind after Diego Klimovic put Bochum ahead. Manuel Friedrich levelled it and the in-form Stefan Kiessling won it for Leverkusen. Freiburg notched their first win away at Schalke, Du-Ri Cha with the only goal of the game while Stuttgart could only mamage a goalless draw with Nurnberg. Carlos Eduardo got Hoffenheim's only goal as they won their first game of the season away at Hannover while Eintracht came from behind to draw with Dortmund, Ioannis Amanatidis equalising Mohamed Zidan's opener.

    Mainz could have gone top on Friday night, but Gladbach got goals in each half, Raul Bobadilla and Marco Reus the scorers, to end Mainz's little run of results. Hertha lost again, this time by the odd goal in five to Bremen. After a goalless first 45, Mesut Ozil and Tim Borowski put Bremen two up, Lukas Piszczek pulled one back before Naldo made the game safe with seven minutes to go. Patrick Ebert's last minute goal was just consolation.

    AZ sneak in front: Eredivisie reviews

    Roda 3-4 Vitesse
    Waalwijk 0-2 Den Haag
    NEC 1-1 VVV Venlo
    AZ 2-1 Willem II
    Utrecht 2-0 Sparta
    Feyenoord 1-1 Twente
    NAC 2-0 Heerenveen
    Groningen 0-2 PSV
    Heracles 0-3 Ajax

    After losing their opening game of the season, perhaps the pressure was removed from AZ's shoulders. However they've quickly found their groove, if not the swagger that saw them breeze to the title last season. They were ahead in Saturday's game at home to Willem II within seven minutes, Brett Holman reacting quickest following Mounir El Hamdaoui's airshot, volleying left footed past Maikal Aerts. Slack marking at a corner half way through the first half saw Sergio Zijler, but AZ were back in front within a minute, the Tilburgers unable to deal with a corner this time and Hector Moreno shooting on the turn for 2-1. Twente should probably have gone back ahead of AZ on Sunday when they took on Feyenoord at De Kuip. Though Sander Boschker was responsible for keeping Twente in it early on and Steve McClaren was sent to the stands early in the second half, Nicky Kuipers put the Enschede side in front with quarter of an hour left, lashing homoe from the edge of the box as a Twente attack threatened to break down. Into stoppage time, and Jonathan De Guzman was upended on the edge of the Twente box and he took the free-kick himself which was handled by a defender in the wall. Roy Makaay stepped up to take the penalty, sent Boschker the wrong way to make it 1-1. Twente will be vulnerable to that sort of thing while they're not getting more than one or two goals per game.

    Ajax hammered Heracles in Almelo, eventually. A dull opening 45 remained goalless, but Ajax cut loose after the break, Demy de Zeeuw's free-kick forcing a corner from which Toby Alderweireld headed in off the underside of the bar. Two late goals - Dario Cvitanich and Ismail Aissati - put a gloss on the scoreline. Danny Koevermans was on target for both of PSV's goals as they eased past Groningen, his first a free header from six yards, the second a super volley across the goal and inside the far post. Utrecht are still unbeaten and won again, 2-0 at home to Sparta, and Ton du Chatinier's side are playing some really good football. With no real stars - even Cedric van der Gun has moved on - it's more the collective team approach which has paid dividends for Twente and AZ as they broke the Big Three's hegemony last season. Jacob Lensky stepped through the defence to slot home the opener just after the hour and Gregoor van Dijk's penalty made the game safe after Jacob Mulenga was brought down. They are going well, but the small squad may scupper their chances of European qualification.

    Another draw for VVV and, yes, Keisuke Honda was awesome again, setting up Sandro Calabro for the opener away at NEC. Ramon Zomer equalised in the second half making it five straight draws for the newcomers. Heerenveen's tough start to the season continued with defeat in Breda, Kees Kwakman and Matthew Amoah with two goals in the space of three second half minutes. Waalwijk are still without a win after Friday's defeat to Den Haag for whom Bogdan Milic and Wesley Verhoek struck either side of half-time. Vitesse are off the mark after coming from behind in Kerkrade. Vitesse were in front inside a minute through Lasse Nilsson and, though Mads Junker equalised, they went in ahead at half-time thanks to Nicky Hofs. A Franck van der Struijk own goal and Anouar Hadouir put Roda ahead with half an hour to go, but Sinan Kaloglu equalised on 75 minutes and a late, late winner from Santi Kolk ended a breathless game.

    Friday, 28 August 2009

    TV Listings to September 3rd

    A look ahead to what's on this week for our UK readers.

    Friday19:30BundesligaMonchengladbach v MainzESPN Live
    Friday21:30Serie ARound upESPN
    Saturday19:30BundesligaBayern Munich v WolfsburgESPN Live
    Saturday19:00La LigaReal Madrid v Deportivo La CorunaSKY Sports 2 Live
    Saturday19:45Serie AAC Milan v InternazionaleESPN Live
    Saturday21:00La LigaReal Zaragoza v TenerifeSKY Sports 2 Live
    Sunday17:00Serie ARoma v JuventusESPN Live
    Sunday18:00La LigaValancia v SevillaSKY Sports 2 Live
    Monday11:00EredivisieFeyenoord v FC TwenteESPN
    Monday17:30BundesligaHertha Berlin v Werder BremenESPN
    Monday21:00La LigaBarcelona v Sporting GijonSKY Sports 2
    Monday21:30BundesligaRound Up ShowESPN
    Tuesday13:15Russian PLLokomotiv Moscow v KubanESPN
    Tuesday14:45Russian PLSpartak Moscow v Rubin KazanESPN
    Tuesday18:00La LigaRevista de La LigaSKY Sports 1
    Tuesday21:00Serie ARound Up ShowESPN
    Wednesday18:15Liga SagresPortuGolESPN

    Looking for your Brasileiro update?

    With the continued coverage of everything Brazil and South America whilst the summer was on it filled a hole here at Euroballs. Now we're back underway in Europe the team here got the feeling that the South American updates were distracting from the main purpose and coverage of the major European leagues so we've done something about it and set up a new site.

    For all your Campeonato Brasileiro Serié A updates, plus the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana updates then please visit the new site at CONMEBalls where we continue from where we left off on here.

    On there shortly, a look back at the catch up games in Brazil and a review of this weeks action in the Copa Nissan Sudamericana.

    Bundesliga round 4

    Schalke v Freiburg
    Stuttgart v Nurnberg
    Eintracht v Dortmund
    Hannover v Hoffenheim
    Leverkusen v Bochum
    Bayern v Wolfsburg
    Hertha v Bremen
    Hamburg v Cologne

    Top game this week is at the AllianzArena where Bayern, perhaps with new signing Arjen Robben on board, face the champions Wolfsburg. The Wolves were undone by a rampant Hamburg a week ago and will be smarting. They hadn't played that badly for a long time and still came within an ace of getting something out of the game, so a trip to face the woefully out of sorts Bavarians won't hold any fears. The last time these clubs met, it was a virtual title decider and if that isn't an excuse to show Grafite's brilliant goal that made it 5-1, then what is? More of this please. ESPN viewers in the UK can see this one live.

    Hamburg welcome Cologne to the NordbankArena as they look to continue their excellent and exhilarating start to the season. Bruno Labbadia has them playing with flair and confidence and Ze Roberto could easily be buy of the summer. He was outstanding as Hamburg stuck four past Wolfsburg a week ago and has freed up the midfield as he does the water-carrying. By contrast, Cologne look a poor side and Lukas Podolski had better start scoring soon before it's too late. He's unlikely to ever get a proper barracking from the fans that clearly love him, but at the moment he looks like an expensive luxury. Leverkusen sit on top and will probably stay there after beating Bochum, Schalke should have no problem against bottom club Freiburg and Stuttgart are too strong for Nurnberg.

    Gladbach get the round underway on Friday night against Maniz who won so well last week in another game ESPN will be carrying, Eintracht host Dortmund, Hoffenheim are still looking for their first win of the campaign and go to Hannover and Bremen go to Berlin to face Hertha.

    Ligue 1 round 4

    Lorient v Le Mans
    St Etienne v Grenoble
    Lens v Rennes
    Sochaux v Monaco
    Boulogne v Auxerre
    Nice v Montpellier
    Lyon v Nancy
    Toulouse v Valenciennes
    PSG v Lille
    Marseille v Bordeaux

    Last season's top two go head-to-head on Sunday at the Vélodrome with erstwhile international colleagues Didier Deschamps and Laurent Blanc in charge of the sides. It's Blanc who sees his side sitting pretty atop the standings at this early stage with three wins from three, Deschamps' side a couple of points back, with the main difference between Bordeaux and the rest being that man Yoann Gourcuff. How and why Milan were prepared to let him go, especially once Kaka was on his way, becomes a bigger mystery by the minute. The two clubs had differing fortunes in the Champions League draw, with Bordeaux getting the comparatively easier ride with Bayern, Maccabi Haifa and Juventus in their group while Marseille got Milan, Real Madrid and FC Zurich. Marseille aren't invincible at home and I fancy Bordeaux to shade this one.

    Local derby time at Parc des Princes where Lille are the visitors on the back of a good win in Europe having beaten Genk 4-2 on the night. Lyon also won well in Europe thanks to a Lisandro Lopez hat-trick and he's settled quickly into the vacant spot left by Karim Benzema. Lyon face Nancy this week who themselves have started well, though it's difficult to imagine Claude Puel's side having many problems here. Toulouse scraped through in Europe and will have to be better at home to Valenciennes.

    Boulogne's decent start can very well continue at home to Auxerre who look clueless at the moment. Not as clueless as St Etienne though, at home to Grenoble this week and chasing Dutch striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. I'm not sure if this is the big name signing the Geoffroy-Guichard faithful. It's derby time up north at Lorient where Le Mans are in town, and down south where Nice take a trip along the coast to Montpellier. Lens have started life back in the top flight pretty well and face Rennes at the Felix-Bollaert and Monaco go to Sochaux in indifferent form.

    Eredivisie round 5

    Roda v Vitesse
    Waalwijk v Den Haag
    NEC v VVV Venlo
    AZ v Willem II
    Utrecht v Sparta
    Feyenoord v Twente
    NAC v Heerenveen
    Groningen v PSV
    Heracles v Ajax

    A month gone already in the Netherlands and already the top five is populated by the clubs you'd expect to be in there; the traditional Big Three plus latecomers AZ and Twente. This week's top game is at De Kuip where Feyenoord welcome Twente. Slipping under most radars (mine included: mea culpa), Feyenoord are top of the tree despite not changing personnel so much. The ageing strike force is still in place, but Jon Dahl Tomasson looks a man reborn under Mario Been who is leading a quiet revolution down in Rotterdam. The first thing he did was to trim the massive squad down to something more manageable and more drastic surgery on it may have to wait until some of the massive wages (Makaay, Tomasson, van Bronkhorst) come off the bill as contracts expire. Rumour has it that Chelsea fancy playmaker Jonathan de Guzman which would leave a creative black hole in the middle of the park for Feyenoord, but for now they're going OK. Steve McClaren is doing something similar in Enschede having lost two thirds of his three-man attack from last season. Unlike last term, Twente's football isn't getting many pulses racing, but they're so hard to break down and that's seen them to an unbeaten start to the season.

    PSV, AZ and Ajax will all fancy to come away with wins from the weekend, though Heracles may fancy themselves at home to the Amsterdammers. Sparta took a point off them a week ago and they were less than impressive midweek against Slovan Bratislava, though that tie was done and dusted in the first leg. PSV's trip to Groningen and AZ's home game with Willem II both look pretty straightforward.

    VVV are a good bet for a first win of the season away at NEC, Vitesse need a kick start to their season away in Kerkrade while Sparta go to Utrecht who are still unbeaten. Heerenveen won through in Europe on away goals midweek and are still struggling for form. Their trip to Breda will not be easy and Waalwijk look to get their season going with their easiest fixture to date, at least on paper, at home to Den Haag.

    Thursday, 27 August 2009

    La Liga 2009-10 Season Preview

    For the first time in a number of years, La Liga has top billing in Europe. Real Madrid, due to Florentino Perez's transfer frenzy, spent enough money this summer to bail out a regional British Building Society and observers from Malaga to Moscow are anxious to see whether it will be enough to swing back the transfer of power from the all-conquering Barcelona team of the 2008-09 season, who won the hearts of so many neutrals with their smooth style.

    In addition to the six new players (Kaka, some Portuguese bloke, Raul Albiol, Xabi Alonso, Karim Benzema and finally Alvaro Arbeloa, a bloke for whom the label of Galactico is frankly laughable but there he is nonetheless) El Real also have a new coach, the Chilean Manuel Pellegrini. The former Villarreal tactician did an admirable job with the Yellow Submarine but faces an entirely different task at the Bernabau, a club with the most demanding of fans and boardroom. It will be interesting to see how Pellegrini deals with a club full of superstars, considering that on the one occasion he has actually had to deal with one - Juan Riquelme at Villarreal - he fell out with him, cast him into the reserves and then packed him off back to Argentina. With so many internationals and massive egos to deal with, will he be able to keep everyone happy? One thing's for sure, it definitely won't be dull - Real Madrid never are. Pellegrini has an embarrassment of riches going forward, but it remains to be seen whether the additions of Spanish internationals Albiol and Arbeloa will be enough to patch up the leaky defence.

    Barcelona, by comparison, have had a rather low-key summer. Of course, they had their limelight with the transfers last season, splashing out on Alves, Hleb and the like. This year, they decided to go toe-to-toe with their main rivals on the ridiculous spending front by getting completely done over by Inter for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. They were certainly keen on landing the big-headed Swede; So much so they exchanged €46m AND Samuel Eto'o for him. Madness. Clearly Pep Guardiola thinks he will take up the goal burden caused by the departure of Eto'o, and we can expect more of the same slick, attacking football from Messi, Iniesta & co, while Daniel Alves rampages up and down the right hand side like a crazed Duracell bunny.

    The fight for the title of 'best of the rest' last season was won by Sevilla, and the Andalucians spent some serious dosh this summer by their standards, bringing in Alvaro Negredo for €14m (great move by Monchi, top drawer striker) and Didier Zokora for €10m (What on earth were you thinking?!). With Negredo coming in, there will hopefully be less reliance on the goals (and fitness) on Fredi Kanoute, at least while Luis Fabiano flutters his eyelids at Man City and AC Milan like a cheap Parisian prostitute. Sevilla are a balanced outfit who sometimes play functional football, but they prove more reliable than most. Its a season of transition for Villarreal - new coach (former Espanyol manager Ernesto Valverde, fresh from a successful season in Greece with Olympiakos), and a changed squad with Matias Fernandez, Guillermo Franco, Pascal Cygan (stop sniggering at the back) and Jozy Altidore all gone. Highly rated Brazilian striker Nilmar is the most high profile of the arrivals, while Spanish U21 defender Ivan Marcano arrives from Racing. Last season Villarreal flattered to deceive, and once again the top four may be beyond them.

    Atletico Madrid have had a quiet summer with no major arrivals - Abel Resino is probably just pleased to a) still have a job and b) keep Kun Aguero and Diego Forlan. They have made it into the Champions League group stages but that famously porous defence will still be their downfall from challenging for major honours. Despite their financial situation, Valencia have so far managed to hold on to the holy trinity of Villa, Silva and Mata, so they are likely to mount a concerted top four challenge under the talented tutelage of Unai Emery. Espanyol's preparations were tragically disrupted by the death of captain Dani Jarque, so a top six finish may be beyond their reach from their new 40,000 seater stadium. They have made some interesting signings such as Shunshuke Nakamura and Joan Verdu and Mauricio Pochettino should cement his reputation as a well regarded coach.

    Elsewhere, its a welcome return to the top flight for Real Zaragoza, the best-placed of the promoted sides to stay up; Osasuna should improve on last season, particularly after the bargain €1m acquisition of Javier Camunas from relegated Recreativo; Deportivo, Athletic and Malaga should all end mid-table; It will be seasons of struggle for Racing, Xerex, Tenerife, Valladolid and Sporting Gijon.

    Round 1 Fixtures:

    Real Madrid vs Deportivo
    Zaragoza vs Tenerife
    Athletic vs Espanyol
    Malaga vs Atletico Madrid
    Mallorca vs Xerex
    Osasuna vs Villarreal
    Racing vs Getafe
    Valencia vs Sevilla
    Almeria vs Valladolid
    Barcelona vs Sporting Gijon

    Monday, 24 August 2009

    Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 21

    Santo André 1-0 Coritiba
    Palmeiras 2-1 Internacional
    Sport Recife 2-0 Vitória
    Grêmio 4-1 Atlético Miniero
    Fluminense 0-0 Barueri
    Corinthians 3-3 Botafogo
    Atlético Paranaense 1-0 São Paulo
    Avaí 3-0 Flamengo
    Cruzeiro 4-2 Náutico
    Goiás 2-1 Santos

    Santo André made it two wins in a week after overcoming 10 man Coritiba. They visitors were down to 10 men inside 20 minutes, Rodrigo Pontes going for a second yellow card. Nunes won it for Santo André, heading home ummarked from 6 yards out 9 minutes before the break. Sport picked up their first win since 12 July after overcoming a Vitória side currently going through some patchy form. Andrade put Sport ahead on the quarter hour with a free kick that the goalkeeper might as well have thrown in the net with the effort made to attempt save. Fabiano Pereira doubled the advantage with a header after half an hour to lift Sport off the bottom of the table. Inconsistent Grêmio defeated inconsistent Atlético-MG in Porto Alegre. Réver headed Grêmio after 8 minutes and quick fire goals form Edixon Perea and Souza saw Grêmio go in three up at the break. Jonas extended the lead further on the hour before Evandro gain scant consolation for Atlético-MG with 12 minutes left.

    Fluminense picked up a point against Barueri at the Maracaña and were lucky to do so. Joint Série A leading scorer Val Baiano guilty of missing chances. The visitors actually finished with 9 men, Diego and André Luís seeing red. Botafogo trailed Corinhtians three times but managed to escape with a point. Denthino put Corinthians ahead from the spot just before half time, but Reinaldo levelled just after the break. Marchino then put Corinthians ahead again only for Andre Lima to level things again. A second penalty from Denthino put the home side ahead again but Botafogo didn't give up and Lucio Flavio levelled things up for the last time with 11 minutes to go. São Paulo's 7 match winning run was snapped by Atlético-PR in Curitiba. Paulo Baier headed the only goal of the game with 4 minutes to go after beating a flapping Rogério Ceni to the ball.

    Flamengo slumped to a third straight defeat against an Avaí side that now boasts the longest unbeated run in the league. Luis Ricardo had Avaí ahead inside 8 minutes and Leo Gago doubled the advantage after half an hour. Willians was sent off for Flamengo with 20 minutes to go and Fabinho Capixaba put the icing on the cake for Avaí with 11 minutes to go to leave them in a qualifying position for next years Libertadores. Cruzeiro made it 4 unbeaten after overcoming Náutico. Wellington Paulista was the start of the show for the home side after hitting a hat-trick. Fabricio got the other goal for Cruzeiro with Gilmar and Carlinhos Bala replying for Náutico. Goiás took advantage of the slip up by São Paulo to move into second. Vitor put Goiás ahead in the 19th minute with a rasping drive before Kléber Pereira levelled for Santos 10 minutes. Felipe edged Goiás ahead 5 minutes into the second half and they held on depite the dismissal of João Paulo 5 minutes from time.

    The game of the weekend was at the Palestra Itália, where the Big Green of Palmeiras, in a retro Italian kit, took on Internacional. It was 1st v 4th in the standings. After going through what can only be descibed as a dodgy spell Palmeiras finally found some form to ensure they held onto top spot. Obina put Palmeiras ahead from the spot after a foul by Kleber. Paraguayan striker José Ortigoza doubled the lead two minutes into the second hald when a deflected shot ended up in his path. Giuliano ensured a tense finish when he got the goal of the game with three minutes left but Palmeiras held on to claim their first win the start of the month.

    This week coming up, there is the second leg of the Fla-Flu in the Sudamericana plus a couple of catch up games which see Santos take on Internacional on Wednesday night and Botafogo entertain Cruzeiro on Thursday.

    Round 22 also begins on Wednesday night when Barueri entertain Corinthians but the big game of the weekend is at the Morumbi for the derby between São Paulo and Palmeiras

    Full Round 22 fixture list is

    Barueri x Corinthians
    Náutico x Atlético Paranaense
    Coritiba x Avaí
    Flamengo x Santo André
    Santos x Fluminense
    São Paulo x Palmeiras
    Atlético Miniero x Sport Recife
    Vitória x Cruzeiro
    Internacional x Goiás
    Botafogo x Grêmio

    Let's all laugh at Bayern: Bundesliga reviews

    Hoffenheim 0-0 Schalke
    Dortmund 1-1 Stuttgart
    Cologne 0-0 Eintracht
    Nurnberg 0-2 Hannover
    Freiburg 0-5 Leverkusen
    Mainz 2-1 Bayern
    Bochum 1-0 Hertha
    Bremen 3-0 Monchengladbach
    Wolfsburg 2-4 Hamburg

    Promoted Mainz could probably go the rest of the season without a win and consider this a successful season after beating Bayern and condemning the Bavarians to their worst start in over 40 years. Andreas Ivanschitz put Mainz ahead with a cracking near post finish and Aristide Bancé made it two with a powerful header. In order to make a game of it, they even gave Bayern a goal when Nikolce Noveski put through his own net shortly after the break and still Bayern didn't get going. They were outplayed, outfought and out-thought by their supposedly inferior opponents and everyone bar the most ardent Eintracht fan will be smug with schadenfreude at the result. Still no Ribéry for Bayern and he's going to have to be better than ever is Louis van Gaal is to last until christmas.

    Top match of the weekend was in Wolfsburg where Hamburg showed recent form wasn't just a blip by putting the champions to the sword. Paolo Guerrero and Eljero Elia had put the visitors two up inside ten minutes and Wolfsburg were visibly shaken by it. Hamburg snapped into tackles and did not let Wolfsburg settle which shook them, so they resorted to being the biggest set of whining, mincing bitches it's possible to be. Zjvezdan Misimovic was the worst. An obvious danger man, Hamburg kept a tight rein on him and didn't give him an inch and he did not like it, hurling himself to the floor at every opportunity and moaning constantly to the ref whose patience finally snapped and he got a yellow in the second half. Edin Dzeko and Grafite weren't getting the service and the frustration showed. This petulance needs Armin Veh to get a grip sooner rather than later or their debut in the Champions League could be a short one. Guerrero's opener is really a Diego Benaglio own goal, the shot crashing back off the post and into the net off Benaglio's head. Benaglio kept his side in it with a string of saves, but he was powerless to stop Elia after he'd waltzed through the defence. Misimovic led the fightback after the break, tapping in from short range after great work out wide from Christian Gentner and Obafemi Martins headed home powerfully from Misimovic's cross. Mladen Petric restored Hamburg's lead and, as the Wolves chased an equaliser, exciting substitute Romeo Castelen grabbed a fourth to seal a pulsating, if bitchy game.

    Two other clubs are tied with Hamburg on seven points at the top with Leverkusen to of the heap after thumping Freiburg. Stefan Kiessling set them on their way and there were doubles for Tranquilo Barnetta and Eren Derdiyok. Schalke are up there too after their 0-0 draw at Hoffenheim who, despite some good football, have yet to win this term.

    After Dieter Hecking quit Hannover, his former charges responded in decent fashion with Jiri Stajner grabbing both goals in a 2-0 win over Nurnberg. He managed to miss a penalty in between times as well. Bremen also missed a penalty, Mesut Ozil denied from 12 yards, but they were two up courtesy of Claudio Pizarro by then, his second a cheeky backheel of the highest showboat factor. Naldo added a third late on. Dortmund and Stuttgart shared the points, Nelson Valdez putting the hosts ahead with Georg Niedermeier equalising just after the break.

    Bochum won their first game of the season, Antar Yahia with the only goal of the game early in the second stanza, smashing home a free-kick which really ought to have been a penalty. Cologne and Eintracht kicked each other to a 0-0 draw with Eintracht's Patrick Ochs seeing red for going too far and booting Fabrice Ehret a bit too hard. Terrible game, two poor sides, but the ref let them both away with too much and Ochs' dismissal was too late to calm things down. Ehret limped out of the game as a result and he's a big player for Cologne.

    Bordeaux still 100%: Ligue 1 reviews

    Monaco 2-0 Lorient
    Auxerre 0-3 Lyon
    Montpellier 2-0 Sochaux
    Valenciennes 2-3 PSG
    St Etienne 0-1 Boulogne
    Le Mans 2-1 Nancy
    Rennes 1-1 Marseille
    Bordeaux 4-0 Nice
    Grenoble 1-2 Lens
    Lille 1-1 Toulouse

    Bordeaux are the only side left with a 100% record after the weekend in France. It's not that they rely on Yoann Gourcuff who got two of their four goals at home to Nice, just that he kind of forces the side to bend to his will. Jussie put Girondins ahead just before the break before Gourcuff's double made the game safe. His first was not a classic. Bursting into the box, he copped a massive shove in the back and yet somehow managed to divert it past the keeper and in. The second showed his striker instincts, springing the offside trap and blazing home. Alou Diarra added a third late on. Three clubs lit a couple of points behind Laurent Blanc's men, prime among them Lyon who put Auxerre to the sword. Jean-Alain Boumsong - yes, that one - scored a cheeky backheel to open the scoring and further goals from Jean Makoun and Miralem Pjanic consigned Auxerre to their third defeat and leave them bottom. Marseille dropped their first points in drawing with Rennes who went ahead through Jerome Leroy's penalty. Mamadou Niang equalised in the second half and Fernando Morientes was denied by a quite brilliant save from Nicolas Douchez as the game ended in stalemate. PSG are also tucked in on seven points with a win at Valenciennes. Pegguy Luyindula and Mevlut Erding put the Parisians ahead, Siaka Tiéné got one back, but Christophe Jallet made it safe. Rudy Mater got a consolation in stoppage time.

    Nancy fell away after defeat to Le Mans for who Thorstein Helstad and Anthony Le Tallec engineered a two-goal lead. Damian Macaluso's late goal meant little. Sochaux's decent start didn't last and they succumbed to Montpellier. Alberto Costa's penalty put them on the way and Karim Fana made it safe in stoppage time. St Etienne are in trouble after going down to ten-man Boulogne. Alexandre Cuvillier got the only goal in the first half and they coped easily with what St Etienne could muster, even after Guillaume Ducatel was dismissed. Les Verts don't look like winning anything at the moment. I wouldn't back one of their players to win the club's player of the season award.

    Lens got a second win of the season over Grenoble. Eduardo dos Santos put them in front on seven minutes with a cracking goal, but they were pegged back five minutes later by Danijel Luboja. Twenty minutes from time, Adboulrazak Boukari headed home to give the Sang Et Or the win. Lille and Toulouse played out a draw at the Métropole, Cheikh M'Bengue equalising for Les Violets after Robert Vittek's opener and first half goals from Frederic Nimano and Nene gave Monaco a comfortable win over Lorient at the Louis II.

    Feyenoord go top: Eredivisie reviews

    Vitesse 1-3 Den Haag
    Willem II 0-1 Heracles
    VVV Venlo 2-2 Groningen
    PSV 3-1 NAC
    Heerenveen 0-2 AZ
    Ajax 0-0 Sparta
    Twente 2-1 Waalwijk
    Feyenoord 4-0 Roda

    PSV came through a tough test in the Sunday lunchtime game against NAC. The visitors took an early lead through the skipper Edwin de Graaf and looked good to hold out or even improve their advantage. PSV were reduced to some pretty pisspoor tactics and Danny Koevermans somehow failed to be booked for the most ridiculous dive in the Breda area. It was so bad, I'd have sent him off. Koevermans was a half-time substitute and he swept home two goals within ten minutes to turn the game around halfway through the second period, both times getting across his marker to finish at the near post. A harsh red card for defender Rodriguez Francisco made it a nervy finish for the Eindhoveners, but Ibrahim Afellay, who a very well organised NAC defence had kept quiet all afternoon, broke away as the visitors chased a late equaliser and finished in style in the last minute to seal it.

    Feyenoord are top of the table with a four-goal win over Roda JC. The Rotterdammers ripped into their opponents with a stunning first half display. Sekou Cissé got things rolling in just the fourth minute and by half-time Jon Dahl Tomasson and Jonathan De Guzman had made it three. De Guzman's second wrapped it up. They go above Twente on goal difference as they rather laboured to a win against Waalwijk. Bryan Ruiz and Blaise N'Kufo - inevitably - got Twente's goals as they dominated the first half, but the second was lacklustre and Charlison Benshop replied on the hour - only Waalwijk's second goal of the season. But a win's a win, and that seems to be Twente's motto this season.

    AZ maintained the pressure, beating Heerenveen at the Abe Lenstra. The first goal was hugely unfortunate, when Mounir El Hamadaoui's fierce drive struck the post, came back out and hit home keeper Martin Lejsal on the napper and went in. El Hamdaoui made the game safe with one that he will be credited for just after the hour. Ajax lost ground. After going goal crazy recently, putting five away in midweek, they couldn't get anything out of a home game with Sparta which did not please the home crowd.

    VVV drew their fourth straight game and, yes, Keisuke Honda did it again. This 7th minute free-kick had more rotations on the ball than Shane Warne could impart and that opened the scoring. By the time the game was 20 minutes old, three more goals had gone in, Nicklas Pedersen and Andreas Granqvist putting Groningen ahead before Sandro Calabro equalised and that's how it finished. Vitesse look poor and succumbed again, Bogdan Milic, Csaba Horvath and Karim Soltani putting Den Haag three up before Civard Sprockel got a consolation. Finally, Heracles continued their decent start to the season with a win over Willem II, Bas Dost with the only goal of the game.

    The table will look a little skewed for some time as NEC and Utrecht didn't play this weekend.

    Serie A Round 1 Review

    Bologna 1-1 Fiorentina
    Catania 1-2 Sampdoria
    Genoa 3-2 Roma
    Inter 1-1 Bari
    Juventus 1-0 Chievo
    Lazio 1-0 Atalanta
    Livorno 0-0 Cagliari
    Palermo 2-1 Napoli
    Siena 1-2 AC Milan
    Udinese 2-2 Parma

    Well that wasn't in the script. Inter's sluggish display at home to Bari ended in a disappointing 1-1 draw, as a Samuel Eto'o penalty in the 55th minute was cancelled out by Vitaly Kutuzov's 74th minute strike. The promoted visitors, who enjoyed few chances and the minority of the possession, will be delighted with a point. On Saturday, AC Milan got their campaign off to a good start thanks to two goals from Alexandre Pato - both set up by compatriot Ronaldinho, who produced his finest performance since joining the rossoneri. Are we about to see a return to the Ronaldinho of old?

    Juventus edged to a 1-0 win over Chievo in a somewhat unconvincing display and they had Antonio Di Natale to thank for the goal which separated the two sides. In a surprising result on Saturday, Fiorentina were held at Bologna, with the Viola falling behind thanks to their former striker Pablo Osvaldo before Adrian Mutu struck a second half leveller. Genoa emerged victorious in the game of the weekend, 3-2 winners over Roma. After Domenico Criscito had given the Grifone the lead, Francesco Totti and then Rodrigo Taddei had seemingly turned things around before Genoa debutant Alberto Zapater equalised with a majestic free kick and, in dramatic style, Giuseppe Biava pounced on a loose ball in the penalty area to seal the win for the home side.

    Elsewhere, Sampdoria pulled off an opening day victory at Catania thanks to Daniele Gastaldello's last minute winner; A solitary Tommasso Rocchi strike was enough for Lazio to down Atalanta; Goals from Edison Cavani and Fabrizio Miccoli enabled Palermo to defeat Napoli; Livorno and Cagliari played out the weekend's only goalless draw and Udinese and Parma shared the spoils at the Stadio Friuli, although Parma will feel robbed as they twice went in front only for Antonio Di Natale to score twice, the second right on the full time whistle.

    Friday, 21 August 2009

    Copa Sudamericana Preliminary Round 2nd Legs Part 1

    Deportivo Cali 0-1 Universidad de Chile
    Universidad de Chile advances 6–0 on points
    La Paz FC 1-2 Cerro Porteño
    Cerro Porteño advances 6–0 on points
    Cienciano Cusco 2-0 Liverpool FC Montevideo
    Cienciano Cusco advances 4-1 on points

    With holders Internacional having a bye into the last 16 Universidad de Chile became the first team to join them after an excellent 1-0 victory in Cali. Walter Montillo with the only goal of the game in the 68th minute for Universidad who now face Internacional in the last 16. Cerro Porteño made sure of their passage with a comfortable 2-0 win at altitide in La Paz. The tie was effectively over when Roberto Nanni put Cerro Porteño ahead with only 7 minutes on the clock. Julio Dos Santos wrapped things up just past the half hour but Ronald Segiova got a consolation for La Paz in the second half. Finally 2003 winner Cienciano disposed of Liverpool of Montevideo with a 2-0 victory after last weeks goalless draw. Cristian Guevara put Cienciano ahead with a cracking free kick before an own goal from Carlos Santucho put the nail in Liverpool's coffin.

    Copa Sudamericana Preliminary Round 1st Legs Part 3

    Tigre 2-1 San Lorenzo
    River Plate 1-2 Lánus
    Boca Juniors 1-1 Vélez Sársfield

    It was all Argentinian action in the first leg ties this week in the Copa Nissan Sudamericana. Tigre entered their first ever international club competition against local opposition in San Lorenzo but were successful in their first fixture in the big time. Martin Morel got Tigre off to a dream start with a fourth minute stike before Lucas Oviedo doubled the lead shortly after. Diego Riviero grabbed a vital away goal for San Lorenzo but they finished with only 10 men. Juan Manuel Torres seeing red with 10 minutes left. Despite the return to River of legend Ariel Ortega, Lánus came from a goal behind to shock River at the Estadio Monumental, Cristian Fabbiani put River ahead half way through the first half and there were still leading with 10 minutes to go before Eduardo Salvio stuck. He then gave Lánus the advantage with an injury time strike that silenced the home support. Boca Juniors got the perfect start against Vélez Sársfield at La Bombonera when Pablo Mouche Boca ahead with under three minutes on the clock. Boca wasted a hatful of chances and were made to pay when Gabriel Paletta could only guide a shot from Victor Zapata into his own net with 11 minutes to go.

    Ligue 1 round 3

    Monaco v Lorient
    Auxerre v Lyon
    Montpellier v Sochaux
    Valenciennes v PSG
    St Etienne v Boulogne
    Le Mans v Nancy
    Rennes v Marseille
    Bordeaux v Nice
    Grenoble v Lens
    Lille v Toulouse

    The only reason Nancy have made the British papers lately is for cancelling their pre-season tour of Britain due to fears about swine flu. That late change of pre-season plans doesn't seem to have bothered them much as they look to maintain a surprise 100% start to the season. With no real stars - Youssouf Hadji is about as close as it gets - they've scored seven goals in beating Monaco and Valenciennes and there's no reason why they can't go to Le Mans and come away with another win. The other two sides with perfect records, Bordeaux and Marseille, also look good to continue their runs. Bordeaux are at home to Nice and Marseille go north to Rennes. No problems foreseen on the horizon for either. Even the ongoing Marouane Chamakh saga won't derail Bordeaux. West Ham are the latest club sniffing about, but the Moroccan looks set to stay, for this season at least.

    Auxerre host Lyon in what ought to be an intriguing clash. Lyon won big in Europe midweek, 5-1 at home to Anderlecht in the Champions League with new signings Bafetimbi Gomis, Lisandro Lopez and Michel Bastos on target. Auxerre just haven't got going yet. Their small squad can easily become stretched, particularly if the talismanic Ireneusz Jelen is out, which he has been so far this season. Lille and Toulouse both won away from home in Europa League midweek action and face each other this weekend. Lille won in Belgium while Toulouse were in Turkey where it was that man again André-Pierre Gignac with a brace. His bustling, almost old-skool British centre forward style is difficult to deal with, particularly if you're not the biggest side which Lille aren't.

    Antoine Kombouare has an early trip back to Valenciennes with his new charges PSG and his old side are missing his influence. St Etienne have strengthened their forward line by bringing in Boubacar Sanogo from Werder Bremen so Gomis's goals may finally have been replaced and a visit from Boulogne shouldn't hold too many fears for Les Verts. Inconsistent Monaco welcome Lorient to the Louis II, Montpellier and Sochaux face off on the south coast and Lens make the long trip from northern mining country to the Alps and Grenoble.

    Bundesliga round 3

    Hoffenheim v Schalke
    Dortmund v Stuttgart
    Cologne v Eintracht
    Nurnberg v Hannover
    Freiburg v Leverkusen
    Mainz v Bayern
    Bochum v Hertha
    Bremen v Monchengladbach
    Wolfsburg v Hamburg

    Hannover are going down. There's a bold claim to begin this week's German previews, bit Dieter Hecking clearly agrees - he's gone. Their season began badly with defeat in the DFB-Pokal (Germany's FA Cup) to third tier Eintrach Trier and just one point from their first two games, defeat to Hertha and a draw with Mainz. They were uncompetitive in both games and Hecking has gone. Who wants it then? It's hardly an attractive proposition for a manager, but away at promoted Nurnberg wouldn't be a bad starting place. If they can't win this one, then they're in big trouble. Conversely, Nurnberg will see this as a chance of launching themselves into the Bundesliga following their 5-0 aggregate win over Cottbus that sees them in the division.

    Two mouth-watering games stand out for this correspondent. Wolfsburg v Hamburg sees the best team in the land take on the most frustratingly inconsistent. Hamburg delight and dismay in roughly equal measure. Last week's nap hand was emphatically the former, so what's in store this week? Wolfsburg look stronger this year than last and it's already difficult to make a case for anyone other than them to take this title. The other game I'm looking forward to is Hoffenheim v Schalke. Again, two inconsistent sides, but that makes for entertainment in my book. Timo Hildebrand looks the keeper that persuaded Valencia to sign him while Sejad Salihovic and Vedad Ibisevic always guarantee good football. Schalke can match them, but are probably due a shocker. Basket case club who are as amusing to watch whether it's going well or badly.

    Dortmund v Stuttgart is the battle of the pretenders. Stuttgart look the better all-round side, but Dortmund can be kingmakers this season, if not in the running for honours themselves. They look too flimsy at the back and the forwards need too many chances to score. Bayern ought to beat Mainz, but a reasonable start for the promoted club, coupled with the Bavarians utterly indifferent form, will at least see the villagers from the outskirts of Frankfurt not do the usual thing of being beaten before they start.

    Cologne v Eintracht is a duel of the under-achievers which will end in a draw - 0-0 probably - Leverkusen will see off Freiburg without too much ado and Bochum are easy pickings for Hertha. Bremen v Gladbach could prove entertaining, if only because of the former's defensive woes which they've sorted out by.. err.. signing Claudio Pizarro on a permanent deal having let Boubacar Sanogo go to St Etienne.

    Eredivisie round 4

    Vitesse v Den Haag
    Willem II v Heracles
    VVV Venlo v Groningen
    PSV v NAC
    Heerenveen v AZ
    Ajax v Sparta
    Twente v Waalwijk
    Feyenoord v Roda

    Waalwijk have, it's safe to say, not had a happy time since promotion to the Eredivisie. Three games in, they've one goal to their credit and eleven against having shipped half a dozen against AZ last week. This week, they're at the league leaders FC Twente who are playing a more pragmatic brand of football. Gone are the wide men that made the 4-3-3 work so well last season - Marko Arnautovic is in Italy and Eljero Elia in Germany - and it's been a test of Steve McClaren to reorganise the system that he more or less inherited and didn't tinker with. He didn't have to, such was the foundation Fred Rutten left him with, but he's had to do something in the off-season. Brian Ruiz looks a quality addition and Kenneth Perez is relishing the additional responsibility. How they'll go should Blaise N'Kufo get injured remains to be seen, the club captain easily the main source of goals, but if last season wasn't one where McClaren's abilities were truly tested, then this one just might be. Either way, a tough afternoon in prospect for RKC.

    Feyenoord have had a steady start and they should maintain it at home to Roda and the other two traditional big guns are both at home after knocking seven types of muesli out of each other a week ago. That PSV v Ajax game was a cracker and they unwind from that with winnable matches this weekend. Ajax had a 5-0 cruise midweek against Slovan Bratislava with Luis Suarez grabbing four and Sparta are not a good football side. PSV also won in midweek, away in Israel, and Breda are the visitors to the Philips Stadion this week. Little better demomstrates the problem that this league, and many others, suffer from, in that the week after an absolute belter between two of the top sides, they both have what look on paper at least easy games.

    AZ go to Heerenveen who they beat 5-1 in the Super Cup last month and look good to win again. Heerenveen do not look a strong side this season while AZ have found their stride. They have lost players, but they still look very good. Vitesse are in for a long season on the basis of the first three games but can get their season of and running with a home win against Den Haag. Mind, ADO can be difficult opponents at any time. Willem II v Heracles has draw written all over it and VVV are a decent bet for a first win of the season at home to Groningen. Guaranteed spectaculars fro Keisuke Honda anyway. What a talent he is.

    Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 20

    Vitória 2-1 Atlético Paranaense
    Botafogo 1-2 Santo André
    Santos 1-0 Grêmio
    Barueri 2-1 Sport Recife
    Internacional 1-2 Corinthians
    Coritiba 1-0 Palmeiras
    São Paulo 1-0 Fluminense
    Atlético Miniero 2-2 Avaí
    Flamengo 1-2 Cruzeiro
    Náutico 2-0 Goiás

    Vitória picked up their first league win in 6 to halt Atlético-PR's recent good run of form. Ramon Menezes put the home side ahead after half an hour, Wallyson replied for Atlético just after the break but Neto Berola secured the points for Vitória. Troubled times continue at the Engenhão as Botafogo slumped back into the relegation zone after losing to a Santo André side that had lost 7 of it's previous 8 fixtures. Santo André were two up inside 15 minutes through Junior Dutra and Nunes. Andre Lima got Botafogo back into the game just before half time but Santo André held on to win despite the dismissal of Vinivius Ferreira. Santos moved level on points with Grêmio after 1-0 victory. Paulo Lime with the only goal of the game with 10 minutes to go.

    Sport Recife seem destined for Série B after yet another defeat, this time to Barueri. Val Baiano moved joint top of the goals scoring charts after putting Barueri ahead. Luciano Henrique levelled for Sport but after looking like snatching a valuable point Thiago Humberto snatched victory for the 10 remaining men. In a repeat of the Copa do Brasil final Corinthians again proved too strong for Internacional. Jean put the visitors ahead with 10 minutes on the clock but Alecsandro levelled 10 minutes before half time. This game also looked to be heading for a draw but Jorge Henrique popped up two minutes from time to steal the points for Corinthians. Palmeiras remain top after a shock defeat to Coritiba, the Big Green are suddenly on the ropes and are without a victory in 4 games now. In a game with 4 red cards it was won in the last minute when Marcelinho converted from the spot. São Paulo remain the form team after making it 8 wins on the spin, Fluminense the victims at the Morumbi. Richarlyson grabbed the only goal of the game with 22 minutes on the clock.

    Avaí showed great courage to hang onto the longest unbeated streak in Série A. With an hour gone they were two down to Atlético-MG thanks to two quick fire goals from Éder Luís and Marcos Rocha. Eltinho started the fightback and it was completed a minute from time when Muriqui struck. The honeymoon for Cuca at Flamengo is well and truly over after a 2-1 defeat at home to Cruzeiro. Emerson put Flamengo ahead in the first half but Cruzeiro replied in the second half through Diego Renan and Fabricio to take the points. Goiás blew the chance to take over at the top of the table after falling to defeat at Náutico. A Leandro Euzebio own goal put Náutico ahead in the first half before he capped a miserable evening by being red carded. Anderson Lessa wrapped things up for the home side 4 minutes from time but Goiás finished with 9 after a Gomes was also dismissed.

    Leading scorers after week 20

    Adriano (Flamengo) 10
    Val Baiano (Barueri) 10
    Marcelinho (Coritiba) 10
    Gilmar (Náutico) 9
    Éder Luís (Atlético-MG) 9
    Roger (Vitória) 9
    Diego Tardelli (Atlético-MG) 9

    This weekend we're up to Round 21 and they line up as follows

    Santo André x Coritiba
    Palmeiras x Internacional
    Sport Recife x Vitória
    Grêmio x Atlético Miniero
    Fluminense x Barueri
    Corinthans x Botafogo
    Atlético Paranaense x São Paulo
    Avaí x Flamengo
    Cruzeiro x Náutico
    Goiás x Santos

    Italy and Portugal Previews weekend 21-24 August

    Olhanense vs Leiria
    Academica vs Pacos de Ferreira
    Sporting CP vs Sporting Braga
    Maritimo vs Leixoes
    Rio Ave vs Vitoria Setubal
    Guimaraes vs Benfica
    FC Porto vs Nacional
    Belensenses vs Naval

    Round 2 in the Superliga sees the two promoted sides, Olhanense and Leiria, face off on Friday evening, after a bizarre opening weekend that featured seven draws and only one side, Sporting Braga, picking up three points. The big three could only record draws, and late draws at that - all of their equalisers coming in the final 15 minutes or so. Sporting were in action this week in the Champions League qualifiers, gaining a credible 2-2 home draw with Fiorentina and Braga, as reasonable as they are, should not present as tough a challenge. Porto's opponents, Nacional, pulled off a huge result midweek beating former UEFA Cup holders Zenit St Petersburg 4-3 in the first leg of the Europa League qualifiers, while Benfica breezed past Ukranian outfit Vorskla Poltava.

    Bologna vs Fiorentina
    Siena vs AC Milan Live on ESPN Sky Ch 417 or 442 in HD Saturday 7.45pm
    Inter vs Bari Live on ESPN Sky Ch 417 or 442 in HD Sunday 5.00pm
    Catania vs Sampdoria
    Genoa vs Roma
    Juventus vs Chievo
    Lazio vs Atalanta
    Livorno vs Cagliari
    Palermo vs Napoli
    Udinese vs Parma

    An intriguing opening weekend in prospect for several sides. For starters, it doesn't get any tougher for Bari as they open their campaign with a long trip up north to visit champions Inter. Juventus entertain Chievo, who are themselves capable of springing an opening day surprise or two. A fascinating game potentially at the Luigi Ferraris - how will Genoa, a much changed team from last season, fare against a Roma side who finished below them but who have largely kept their squad together? The Grifone beat Danish side OB Odense 3-1 in the first leg of their Europa league qualifer on Thursday, meanwhile Roma squandered a 3-1 away advantage at Slovakian side MFK Kosice drawing 3-3. Their cross-city rivals Lazio had no such problems, brushing aside IK Elfsborg and they host Atalanta first up.

    Elsewhere Leonardo's first league game at the helm of AC Milan is a trip to perrenial strugglers (and slow starters) Siena; Fiorentina start the ball rolling at Bologna; promoted Livorno open up at home to Cagliari while Parma visit Udine. Watch out for Palermo versus Napoli, which could prove to be a fiery encounter.

    Tuesday, 18 August 2009

    Blooming Hell

    After the fun and games that we mentioned in last Friday's Copa Sudamericana round up during the game between Blooming and River Plate Montevideo the Bolivian club have been handed a 3-0 defeat and fined US$10k by The South American Football Confederation (CSF).

    The second leg takes place in Montevideo on August 27th.

    Monday, 17 August 2009

    Liga Sagres Week 1 Results

    Leixões 0-0 Belenenses
    Nacional 1-1 Sporting CP
    Sporting Braga 1-0 Académica
    Naval 0-0 Olhanense
    União de Leiria 1-1 Rio Ave
    Paços de Ferreira 1-1 FC Porto
    SL Benfica 1-1 Marítmo
    Vitória Setúbal 1-1 Vitória Guimarães

    Yellow Cards: 40
    Red Cards : 2 (Hulk - FC Porto, Paulo Sergio - Académica)

    Nancy go top: Ligue 1 reviews

    Lorient 2-2 Montpellier
    Sochaux 2-3 Bordeaux
    Lens 2-0 Auxerre
    PSG 3-1 Le Mans
    Nancy 4-0 Monaco
    Lyon 1-0 Valenciennes
    Toulouse 3-1 St Etienne
    Boulogne 2-1 Grenoble
    Nice 1-1 Rennes
    Marseille 1-0 Lille

    Troubled by relegation last season, Nancy have stormed out of the blocks in Usain Bolt fashion this term and their 4-0 home win over Monaco is the eye-catching result of round 2. Issiar Dia and an Andre Luiz penalty gave Les Chardons a two-goal lead at the break and two more, both from Paul Alo'o Efoulou wrapped up a comprehensive win. There are two other clubs with 100% records and no surprises for guessing Bordeaux and Marseille would be the pair that join Nancy at the top after two games. Bordeaux didn't have it all their own way in Montbéliard against Sochaux. Marouane Chamakh and Wendel put the champions two up, but American striker Charlie Davis pegged one back before Chamakh's second gave Bordeaux some breathing space. Davis grabbed a second in the last minute, but it wasn't enough. One goal, from Brandao, was enough for Marseille at home to Lille for whom Mathieu Debuchy was dismissed in the second half.

    A single goal was enough for Lyon to beat Valenciennes, Bafetimbi Gomis heading his first goal since arriving from St Etienne. His old club were dismantled down in Toulouse. Though Emmanuel Riviere equalised Paulo Machado's opener, the second half belonged to Les Violets and goals from André-Pierre Gignac and Moussa Sissoko completed the job. Le Mans took a shock lead at the Parc des Princes in the capital where Thorstein Helstad opened the scoring. Mevlut Erding, a summer arrival from Sochaux, equalised on the half hour and the unfortunate Frédéric Thomas put through his own net to push PSG in front. Ludovic Giuly added a third late on to seal it.

    Auxerre haven't go going yet and lost at promoted Lens for whom goals in each half, Kevin Monnet-Paquet and Abdoulrazak Boukari respectively, did the damage. Lorient and Montpellier shared four second-half goals in a lively game. Alberto Costa and Emir Spahic put Montpellier into a two-goal lead, but Kevin Gameiro pulled one back instantly before Laurent Koscielny squared it up in the last minute. Nice and Rennes also drew, Chaouki Ben Saada putting Nice ahead a minute from the break and an Asamoah Gyan penalty equalising. Rennes had Junichi Inamoto dismissed 13 minutes from time, but it ended square. Two Gregory Thil goals in the first half set Boulogne on their way to their first win since promotion against Grenoble. The Alpine side got one back shortly after the interval through Danijel Ljuboja, but Boulogne hung on for the three points.

    Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 19

    Palmeiras 1-1 Botafogo
    Santo André 0-2 Internacional
    Avaí 2-1 Náutico
    Corinthians 2-0 Atlético Miniero
    Fluminense 1-3 Coritiba
    Grêmio 4-1 Flamengo
    Sport Recife 1-2 São Paulo
    Goiás 3-2 Vitória
    Atlético Paranaense 3-0 Barueri
    Cruzeiro 0-0 Santos

    Palmeiras remain top after a third consecutive daw, this time against Botafogo. Cleiton Xavier hit the post early on for the Big Green but they fell behind to an Andre Lima goal after 24 minutes. Danilo levelled things 8 minutes later after 'Fogo keeper Flavio came for a ball he was never going to get to and the big defender headed home. Both teams had chances to win it but some poor ball control and good goalkeeping kept things level. Internacional made it 2 form 2 since their return from Japan, but left it late against a Santo André team that has now lost 4 straight. Taison put Inter ahead with 20 minutes left with a belting strike and then got himself sent off 10 minutes later for kicking out. Alecsandro made the game safe for Inter with 3 minutes left after converting from the spot. Avaí made it 9 unbeaten after stopping the Náutico's mini revival. Eltinho put Avaú ahead with a superb free kick but a spectacular own goal from Emerson levelled things. Marquinhos his the post for Avaí, Náutico's Rudnei was then sent off for a second bookable offence and William had a 50p foot moment in the box with the goal begging but a super volley from Marquinhos with 2 minutes left snatched the points for Avaí.

    Corinthians got back on the horse with a first win in six as Atlético-MG's poor run continued. Denthino put Corinthians ahead his deflected shot wrongfooted Atlético keeper Bruno. Boquita then doubled the lead 5 minutes into the second half with a powerful shot from the edge of the box. The day got worse for Atlético-MG when Renan was dismissed after 58 minutes. Flamengo had a case of Sudamericana hangover as they were easily defeated by Grêmio 4-1. An Edixon Perea header put Grêmio ahead after 15 minutes but Éverton levelled things for Flamengo 10 minutes later. Réver put Grêmio back ahead 13 minutes into the second half before Jonas converted 2 penalties in the last 8 minutes to give Grêmio a comfortable victory. 3 goals and 3 red cards in Recife as the Champions made it 6 wins on the spin. Washington put São Paulo ahead after 25 minutes. Then came the three red cards, first Miranda went for São Paulo after 69 minutes, then Wilson for Sport after 81 minutes before Renato Silva became the second São Paulo player dismissed a minute later. It looked like Sport had rescued a point after Fabiano Pereira was left unmarked in the box but Hugo broke Sport hearts with a headed winner in injury time.

    Another late winner allowed Goiás to move within 2 points of Palmeiras at the top of the table. Two goals in the space of 5 minutes from Felipe Menezes and Fernando. Vitória quickly pulled a goal back through Leandro Domingues and Neto Berola levelled things on the hour with an excellent strike. Both teams had been reduced to 10 men and Náutico spurned 3 golden chances before Goiás got a valuable winner in the 90th minute when Julio César headed home. Atlético-PR's good form continued as they dispatched Barueri, Paulo Baier grabbed both first half goals for Atlético-PR, the second a cracking free kick. Marchino wrapped things up on the hour from the spot to give Atlético a 3-0 victory. Cruzeiro and Santos produced the only goalless game of the round after their draw in Belo Horizonte. Chances were at a premuim and Santos had a goal disallowed for offside but both teams were indebted to their goalkeepers for keeping the game scoreless.

    Game of the week was again at the Maracaña as 19th placed Fluminense hosted 18th placed Coritiba. Fluminense were in slightly better form going into the game having at least picked up some points in their previous two games whilst Coritiba hasn't won in a month. Marcelinho headed Coritiba into the lead with 11 minutes gone with a back post header. Kieza then hit the post for Fluminense as they looked for a way back into the game but on the hour Marcelinho doubled the advantage for Coritiba after beating three Flu defenders and the keeper after a fantastic run. Kieza finally found the back of the net to being Flu back into it with 13 minutes to go but still chances went begging for the home side and they were made to pay when Marcos Aurélio slotted in at the back post to confirm all three points for Coritiba. And to make the day worse for Flu fans, a brave Flamengo fan turned up to poke fun as well.

    Another midweek round in Brazil and this is how they line up

    Vitória x Atlético Paranaense
    Botafogo x Santo André
    Santos x Grêmio
    Barueri x Sport Recife
    Internacional x Corinthians
    Coritiba x Palmeiras
    São Paulo x Fluminense
    Atlético Miniero x Avaí
    Flamengo x Cruzeiro
    Náutico x Goiás

    These games and some Copa Nissan Sudamericana action will be reviewed on Friday.

    Bayern still struggling: Bundesliga reviews

    Stuttgart 4-2 Freiburg
    Eintracht 1-1 Nurnberg
    Leverkusen 1-0 Hoffenheim
    Hamburg 4-1 Dortmund
    Hannover 1-1 Mainz
    Bayern 1-1 Bremen
    Cologne 1-3 Wolfsburg
    Monchengladbach 2-1 Hertha
    Schalke 3-0 Bochum

    Wolfsburg look like taking some catching this season as they recorded another comfortable win. They had to come from behind against Cologne though, Fabrice Ehret's goal early in the second half merely angering the Wolves. After Sebastien Preis had twice wasted great chances, Cologne were indebted to keeper Faryd Mondragon for keeping them in the game with a string of saves to his name. Five minutes after the break, Ehret robbed a sleeping Alex Madlung and took the ball round Diego Benaglio and squeezed it home from a tight angle to hand Cologne the lead. Two goals in two minutes turned the game on it's head around the 75-minute mark. The brilliant Edin Dzeko got the first of those, sliding in at the back post, and Pierre Womé's 50p-head moment saw him nod the ball past Mondragon under pressure from Dzeko. With the clock running down, substitute Obafemi Martins took Grafite's pass, danced past a couple of defenders and slid the ball under Mondragon for his first goal from his new club.

    Bayern scraped another point at home to Bremen for whom Mesut Ozil got the opener. This time it was Mario Gomez who rescued the Bavarians with a scrappy and barely deserved equaliser twenty minutes from the end. Stuttgart put promoted Freiburg to the sword with all six goals in the game coming after the break. Pavel Pogrebnyak opened his account for his new club with a very Gomez-esque goal for the opener before Elson's first, from the penalty spot, doubled the advantage. Mohamadou Idrissou pulled one back, but Elson's second restored the advantage. Idrissou's second gave Freiburg hope, but Julian Scheiber added a fourth for Markus Babbel's side in the dying seconds to seal it. An Eljero Elia-inspired Hamburg made short work of Dortmund, winning 4-1 and four goals coming in the opening quarter of an hour. Guy Demel but Hamburg ahead inside three minutes, but Nelson Valdez equalised inside 60 seconds. Ze Roberto put Hamburg back in front on ten minutes and Paolo Guerrero made it three two minutes later. Marcus Berg wrapped it up half way through the second half.

    Leverkusen nullified Hoffenheim's usual attacking instincts and Stefan Kiessling made the most of some slack defending for the only goal of the game to hand his side all three points while there were draws for Eintracht at home to Nurnberg and Mainz at Hannover, both finishing 1-1. Gladbach had the result of the weekend in beating Hertha 2-1, Roel Brouwers and Karim Mantour putting them two up before Gojko Kacar made it a nervy finish. Finally, Schalke easily disposed of a Bochum side that look particularly poor this season. Christoph Moritz set them on their way five minutes from the break and Heiko Westermann adding a second immediately after the break. Jefferson Farfan added a third midway through the second period.

    PSV win thriller as AZ go goal crazy: Eredivisie reviews

    Sparta 2-1 Willem II
    Waalwijk 0-6 AZ
    Den Haag 0-1 Twente
    Heerenveen 1-0 Vitesse
    PSV 4-3 Ajax
    Heracles 0-1 Feyenoord
    Roda 1-0 NEC
    Utrecht 2-2 VVV Venlo
    Groningen 1-2 NAC

    The first Classic of the season very much lived up to it's billing on Sunday lunchtime. An absolutely blistering game produced seven goals with the home side edging it by the odd one. A superb advert for Eredivisie football saw Ajax go a goal ahead within 90 second, Luis Suarez profiting from PSV keeper Andreas Isaaksson's generosity. Suarez wasted a glorious chance to double the lead, spurning support and going for a crazy lob before Balazs Dzsudzsak showed why Arsenal are sniffing around with a rocket of a free-kick to bring the scores level. Suarez put Ajax back in front within a few seconds, though debate still rages as to whether it's the Uruguyan's goal or an Andre Ooijer own goal. You decide. After the break, some Dzsudzsak trickery and vision set up Otman Bakkal to square it up once again before the Hungarian put his side in front with another free-kick, fooling everyone by going for goal and beating Maarten Stekelenberg. Ajax drew level through another super goal, Urby Emanuelson slamming home from the edge of the box. And they could and probably should have had the chance to go back in front when Suarez was felled in the box by Ooijer, but the reputation Suarez has built up over the years convinced the referee there was nothing amiss. Replays suggest otherwise. Instead, Bakkal's second won it. Phew. It was an incredible game in which Dzsudzsak was the undoubted star. Just a great game of football. More please.

    Twente end the weekend top of the pile, their single goal from the skipper Blaise N'Kufo enough to secure the win. The big Swiss finally put a chance away as Twente built from the back in a game they utterly dominated. AZ, meanwhile, hammered Waalwijk 6-0. There were braces for Mounir El Hamdaoui and Maarten Martens, Moussa Dembele and Jeremain Lens with the others as Waalwijk's tough baptism continues. In contrast, the other promoted club, VVV, are winning friends and points, if not games and again had their Japanese star Keisuke Honda to thank as they drew with Utrecht. He set up the opener for Sandro Calabro before a Dries Mertens double put Utrecht ahead. Honda's absolute toaster squared it back up with twelve to go. VVV will be doing well to hold into Honda at this rate.

    Mads Junker's solitary goal was enough for Roda to see off NEC who ended with ten men when Niels Wellenberg was dismissed in the dying moments. Jon Dahl Tomasson got the only goal for Feyenoord as they too were 1-0 winners over Heracles and the same scoreline, courtesy of Hernan Losada, was enough for Heerenveen to see off Vitesse.

    Elsewhere, 2-1 also proved popular as Sparta recorded their first win of the season, coming from behind against Willem II and NAC got past Groningen. But at the end of the round of fixtures, everyone was talking about the events at the Philips Stadion.

    Serie A Season Preview

    So, on Saturday evening Calcio kicks off for another season in Italy after a summer of frenzied transfer activity when Serie A lost its two best players and arguably its most decorated sitting head coach.

    Seeing as they are the reigning Champions, it seems appropriate to start off with Internazionale, who with little fuss wrapped up the 2008-09 title thanks to stuttering and ultimately rather lacklustre competition from Juventus and AC Milan. Real Madrid may have stolen all the headlines with their spending spree totalling the GDP of Guatemala, but, not to be outdone, Massimo Moratti managed to hoodwink Joan Laporta into the summer's most mind-bogglingly ridiculous transfer, which saw moody Swedish talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic move to Barcelona for €46m PLUS Cameroonian goal machine Samuel Eto'o. Now, I'm not saying Zlatan is rubbish. He clearly isn't. But it was plain to see for anyone who watched Inter's Champions League campaign that he has hardly dazzled at the very top level - which Barcelona, as reigning domestic and European champions, undoubtedly is. Inter, for their part, have managed to bag a proven goal scorer, albeit a bloke who is clearly more difficult to work with than Val Kilmer.

    The nerazzuri were a busy club in the transfer window - Hernan Crespo, Julio Cruz, Maxwell and Robert Acquafresca have also departed, to be replaced by Genoa's Diego Milito and Thiago Motta, while Brazilian defender Lucio has arrived on a free and FC Twente's Austrian playmaker Marko Arnautovic is on loan. Goals, with Eto'o, Milito and Mario Balotelli in the side, should not be a problem, and the likes of Esteban Cambiasso, Javier Zanetti and Dejan Stankovic will be as reliable as ever. The problem for Jose Mourinho will be competing in the European competitions, especially if key defenders such as Ivan Cordoba or Maicon pick up injuries.

    At cross-city rivals AC Milan, the gaping hole left by the departure of Kaka is the principal worry for rossoneri supporters, a transfer which means a higher burden placed on the misfiring Ronaldinho and the ageing Clarence Seedorf. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, a big-money signing from Real Madrid, is a menace in the six yard box and Alexandre Pato continues to look the business, but the real lack of creativity in midfield is surely a concern, what with Yoann Gourcuff, seemingly Kaka's natural replacement, now a permanent signing for Bordeaux. New coach Leonardo has similar problems to Carlo Ancelotti - an ageing defence and high expectations although with the acquisition of Flavio Roma, he may at least be able to solve a notorious headache of Ancelotti's, the goalkeeper position. Without Kaka, it is hard to see Leonardo, a rookie coach, guiding his team ahead of Inter.

    Juventus also have a new coach, of sorts, with club legend Ciro Ferrara given the reins on a permanent basis following the sacking of Claudio Rainieri. For the Gobbini there is of course no Pavel Nedved, but two big signings have somewhat placated anxious Turin fans - Brazilian playmaker Diego arrives for €24m from Werder Bremen and Ferrara will be hoping he gels with - rather than clashes with - the existing attacking industry of Alessandro Del Piero and Sebastian Giovinco. To add steel to the midfield, another Brazilian, Felipe Melo, has been signed after just one season with Fiorentina. The Tuscan outfit did good business on Melo, getting a €20m fee for the former Almeria midfielder. Fabio Cannavaro returns to Turin from Real Madrid and Uruguyan Martin Caceres arrives from the periphery of Barcelona's multi-talented squad. There is no doubting the pedigree of many Juventus squad members but Ferrara will have to be crossing his fingers on the fitness of Del Piero, David Trezeguet and Amauri if he is to mount a concerted challenge for the title.

    Elsewhere, Fiorentina will be looking to build on another consistent 2008-09 campaign, yet they were strangely sanguine in the transfer market with only three notable additions - Marco Marchionni as part of the Melo deal and Cristiano Zanetti, both midfielders coming from Juventus; and relegated Lecce's Argentine forward Jose Castillo, who at 34 certainly ranks in the veteran category. Genoa's squad is much changed from just a few months ago, with Hernan Crespo and his compatriot Rodrigo Palacio now harbouring the goal burden alongside another new face, the experienced Sergio Floccari. Bosko Jankovic, the Serbian, turned his loan spell from Palermo into a permanent deal and Thiago Motta's defensive midfield spot is taken up by Spaniard Alberto Zapater, who was so instrumental in Real Zaragoza's return to the Primera. Roma, who were so ordinary for much of 2008-09, will again depend vastly on Francesco Totti after no major signings, just the departure of Alberto Acquilani. Expect them to fall short of the Top 4. Udinese, Palermo and Napoli will be there or thereabouts, but expect seasons of disappointment if you are a Lazio or Sampdoria fan. Of the promoted sides, it is good to see Parma again and they are well placed to fight relegation, which is where Chievo and Bologna, after narrow escapes last season, will once again find themselves doing.

    Saturday, 15 August 2009

    Liga Sagres Week 1

    Seeing as our regular Portuguese correspondent is "missing in action" at the moment, the Liga Sagres gets underway in Portugal this weekend. In fact, it's already underway after Leixões and Belenenses drew 0-0 last night. FC Porto are looking to defend their title and can the big two in Lisbon, Sporting CP and Benfica finally bring the title back to the capital for the first time since 2005. União de Leiria return to the Liga after a season in the Liga de Honra and top flight football returns to the Algarve with the elevation of Olhanense, who come up as Champions of the Liga de Honra. It's the first time an Algarve side has been in the top flight since Farense were relegated in 2004.

    ESPN will also be carrying regular coverage of the league.

    This is how they line up this week

    Leixões 0-0 Belenenses
    Nacional v Sporting CP
    Sporting Braga v Académica
    Naval v Olhanense
    União de Leiria v Rio Ave
    Paços de Ferreira v FC Porto
    SL Benfica v Marítmo - Live on ESPN Sky Ch 417 or 442 in HD Sunday 8.15pm
    Vitória Setúbal v Vitória Guimarães

    A whistlestop tour of northern Europe

    Shortage of time means my usual trifecta of previews from Germany, France and the Netherlands is condensed into one, especially given that the round is already underway. Let us begin in the low country.

    Eredivisie round 3:
    Sparta v Willem II
    Waalwijk v AZ
    Den Haag v Twente
    Heerenveen v Vitesse
    PSV v Ajax Live on ESPN Sky Ch 417 or 442 in HD 11.30am Sunday
    Heracles v Feyenoord
    Roda v NEC
    Utrecht v VVV Venlo
    Groningen v NAC

    No doubting the top game here is at the Philips Stadion. PSV have all the talent and Fred Rutten is a man to get the best out of it. Ajax now have a proper manager and he's started very well indeed. Dennis Rommedahl was an astute acquisition and players like Ismael Aissati and Miralem Sulejmani look different players under Martin Jol. Waalwijk's difficult start continues at home to AZ who will have Gil Swerts and Graziano Pelle back, the former who is really good and important to the team and the latter who.. err.. has nice hair. Twente will expect three points from a trip to the governmental capital, Utrecht could easily finish the week top by maintaining their 100% start at home to VVV. Feyenoord haven't really got going and it won't be easy in Almelo and neither have Groningen who are at home to NAC this week. Roda meet NEC, Willem II ought to beat Sparta and Heerenveen need a kick-start to their campaign against Vitesse.

    Bundesliga round 2:
    Stuttgart v Freiburg
    Eintracht v Nurnberg
    Leverkusen v Hoffenheim
    Hamburg v Dortmund
    Hannover v Mainz
    Bayern v Bremen
    Cologne v Wolfsburg
    Monchengladbach v Hertha Live on ESPN Ch 417 or 442 in HD Sunday 2.30pm
    Schalke v Bochum Live on ESPN Ch 417 or 442 in HD Sunday 4.30pm

    Game of the week is at the BayArena where Hoffenheim roll into town. TSG played really well in their opener against Bayern and were a touch unlucky not to take the points. It's hard to see the villagers topping the table at christmas as they did last year, but they do play some lovely football. Wolfsburg look in tip-top form already and have a winnable fixture, as do Stuttgart. Bayern v Bremen will sway on how fit Franck Ribéry is. Both sides look good going forward, but terrible at the back. Hannover v Mainz looks like a relegation battle already and losses are in the offing for Gladbach and Bochum. Defensive Hamburg meet flamboyant Dortmund in what should be a battle of wills that ends goalless.

    Ligue 1 round 2:
    Lorient v Montpellier
    Sochaux v Bordeaux
    Lens v Auxerre
    PSG v Le Mans
    Nancy v Monaco
    Lyon v Valenciennes
    Toulouse v St Etienne
    Boulogne v Grenoble
    Nice v Rennes
    Marseille v Lille

    Top game in France is at the Vélodrome where Lille are the visitors. The stadium will be full despite early threats that it would be closed to supporters following a series of incidents. Lille's young, vibrant side will find it tough in the physical battle and Marseille should pick up the three points. André-Pierre Gignac has signed on long-term at Toulouse and scored France's winner in midweek on his international debut. They play St Etienne - home win. Lens v Auxerre looks an intruiging clash while Sochaux's encouraging start last week will be sorely tested by the visit of Bordeaux. PSG and Monaco, the two capital clubs in this league, should both emerge victorious this weekend while promoted Boulogne will find it tough, if not impossible, at home to a rugged Grenoble side. Montpellier, another promoted side, have along trip north to Lorient that looks futile, while Rennes go in the opposite direction for what promises to be an open game on the Cote d'Azur.

    Normal service to be resumed next week.

    Friday, 14 August 2009

    Copa Sudamericana Preliminary Round 1st Legs Part Two

    Alianza Atlético Sullana 0-0 Deportivo Anzoátegui
    Liga de Quito 1-0 Libertad Asunción
    Blooming Santa Cruz 0-1 River Plate Montevideo
    Cerro Porteño 2-0 La Paz FC
    Fluminense 0-0 Flamengo
    Vitória 2-0 Coritiba
    Liverpool FC Montevideo 0-0 Cienciano Cusco

    Missed this one last week but Alianza Atlético Sullana of Peru and Deportivo Anzoátegui of Venezuela drew 0-0 in their first leg tie. The second leg takes place on September 16. In Quito, last years Libertadores winners, Liga de Quito, overcame Libertad Asuncnión by a single goal from Neicer Reasco right on half time. Paraguay's Cerro Porteño grabbed a two goal advantage to take back to the altitude of La Paz. Roberto Nanni put the home side ahead after 21 minutes and Jorge Brítex doubled the advantage halfway through the second half. Nothing to write home about in the big clash of the round in Rio de Janeiro as the "Fla-Flu" finished 0-0 at the Maracaña. Flu were the home side for this game and now have a slight advantage for the second leg in two weeks time.

    Things went to form as Vitória claimed a 2-0 victory over Coritiba. Ueilliton opened the scoring with a free kick in the 46th minute and a indivudual effort from Jackson 14 minutes from time wrapped things up. In Montevideo, Liverpool were held to a goalless draw by 2003 winners Ceinciano Cusco of Peru. Liverpool dominated their opponents, but like their English namesake, couldn't put the tie to bed. They hit the woodwork twice and missed an open goal in injury time, this after Ceinciano had been reduced to 10 men.

    The fun and games came in Santa Cruz where referee Victor Hugo Carillo had to suspend the game between Blooming and River Plate Montevideo due to secutiry issues after 65 minutes after a home supporter had run onto the pitch and attacked River's Henry Giminez. Federico Puppo had put River Plate ahead in the 61st minute, after taking full advantage of an error from Blooming goalkeeper Andres Jemio. After the decision to suspend the match a hail of objects and flare were thrown from the stands, which some of River's technical staff were hit by. After the game, local police announced the individual who entered the pitch had been arrested and was also found to be carrying a knife. It is not known yet what action CONMEBOL will take. The likelyhood is that Blooming will be thrown out and River Plate given passage into Round 2. The second leg is scheduled for August 27 at the Centenario in Montevideo.

    More ties takes place next week. Update should appear next Friday.

    Thursday, 13 August 2009

    Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 18 Part 2

    Internacional 3-0 Sport Recife
    Atlético Miniero 1-1 Palmeiras

    Inter returned form their successful trip to Japan after victory in the Sugura Bank Cup with a comfortable victory over Sport. Giuliano's neat turn and finish put Inter up just before half time and Sandro doubled the lead six minutes into the second half after his deflected shot beat Juliano in the Sport goal. Andres D'Alessandro wrapped things up 5 minutes from time after some poor goalkeeping from Juliano allowed this shot to go through his arms and into the net. Inter climb back to fourth in the table whilst Sport remain rooted at the bottom of the table.

    The big game of the round was at the Mineirão as third placed Atlético-MG entertained table toppers Palmeiras. It was the home side who made the perfect start, Éder Luis taking advantage of a mistake in the Palmeiras defence and shooting past Marcos, who in truth made a right hash of stopping the shot. It took the league leaders half an hour to reply, Diego Souza with a mazy run and his cross was headed in at the back post by José Ortigoza. Marcos then redemmed himself with a great save and then Souza then hit the post for the Big Green. The drama wasn't done, as Atlético-MG were awarded a penalty but the former national goalkeeper Marcos rescued Palmeiras with a superb save from Renan Oliveira's penalty. Bruno then denied Cleiton Xavier and the point was enough to see Atlético climb to second and Palmeiras remain 4 points clear at the top.

    Round 19 and the halfway point of the season arrives this weekend. The fixtures are as follows

    Palmeiras x Botafogo
    Santo Andre x Internacional
    Avaí x Náutico
    Corinthians x Atlético Miniero
    Fluminense x Coritiba
    Grêmio x Flamengo
    Sport Recife x São Paulo
    Goiás x Vitória
    Atlético Paranaense x Barueri
    Cruzeiro x Santos

    A full round up of that will be here on Monday night as usual.

    Monday, 10 August 2009

    Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 18

    Botafogo 0-1 Atlético Paranaense
    Santos 2-2 Avaí
    Náutico 2-1 Santo André
    Flamengo 1-0 Corinthians
    Vitória 2-2 Fluminense
    Coritiba 1-3 Cruzeiro
    São Paulo 3-1 Goiás
    Barueri 1-0 Grêmio

    Just when you though Botafogo had turned their poor form around they go an lose two on the spin, this time falling to an Atlético-PR team on the rise up the league. Andre Lima missed a first half penalty for Botafogo after hitting the post whih the keeper well beaten. Fogo hit post again in the first half and in the second Lima had a 50p foot moment in the box. Atlético stole the points when Patrick headed home from a seemingly offside position in the 68th minute. Avaí made it 8 unbeaten after a come from behind 2-2 draw with Santos. Madson put the home side ahead in the 9th minute. Kléber Pereira then doubled the advantage but Avaí hit back, first William fired home and then three minutes later Emerson levelled things. Náutico picked up their second straight win after overcoming Santo André, the visitors not helping their cause by missing first half penalty. Carlinhos Bala put Náutico ahead two minutes into the second half and he doubled the lead with 18 minutes left. Náutico had Vágner Silva sent off with two minutes to go and an injury time strike from Gustavo Nery was mere consolation for a Santo André side currently in freefall.

    Flamengo picked up a much needed win over Corinthians in front of a large Maracaña crowd, although it should have been a lot more comfortable as Adriano missed a hatful of chances for Flamengo. Eventually though, Adriano settled the game in favour of Flamengo with a well taken goal from the endge of the box. Vitória snapped a three game losing streak by picking up a point against Fluminense. William put the hosts ahead in the 13th minute but Luiz Alberto replied on the half hour. Flu took the lead in the 53rd minute through Roni but the lead lasted less than a minute as Roger levelled things up. Coritiba made it 7 games without a win after losing to Cruzeiro. Wellington Paulista put the visitors ahead from the spot after 20 minutes. Thiago Ribeiro doubled the lead 5 minutes into the second half and a second for Wellington Paulista secured the points. Marcelinho replied for Coritiba but it was mere consolation for the home side.

    Champions São Paulo are suddenly in the mix and fourth in the table after making it 19 points out of a possible 21 after victory over Goiás at the Morumbi. Washington put São Paulo ahead with a header right on the stroke of half time. Rafael Toloi was sent off for Goiás for an elbow and a minute later São Paulo were two up, Jorge Wágner with another headed goal. Bruno Meneghel pulled a goal back from Goiás with three minutes to go but Borges restored the two goal advantage in injury time. Finally Barueri made it two wins in two games to leapfrog Grêmio in the standinga. Fernandinho with the only goal of the game 11 minutes into the second half with a smart finish from the far edge of the six yard box.

    Internacional v Sport Recife takes place later tonight and it'll be third v first on Wednesday when Atlético-MG and Palmeiras clash. A round up of those will be here on Thursday.

    No midweek round this week but Flamengo and Fluminense clash in the Copa Sudamericana preliminary round first leg clash on Wednesday, as do Coritiba and Vitória who meet on Thursday. There are 6 ties altogether this week and a round of those will appear on Saturday at some stage.

    Suarez hits three as Ajax go top: Eredivisie reviews

    NEC 4-1 Heerenveen
    AZ 2-0 Sparta
    Ajax 4-1 Waalwijk
    Roda 1-1 Groningen
    Vitesse 0-0 Feyenoord
    NAC 0-0 Heracles
    Twente 1-1 PSV
    Utrecht 1-0 Willem II
    VVV Venlo 2-2 Den Haag

    Game of the week in the Eredivisie was probably the clash between Den Haag and VVV in Venlo where the visitors ran in to an early 2-0 lead. Wesley Verhoek and a Ricky van den Bergh penalty put Den Haag into a bit of a comfort zone, but up stepped the exciting Keisuke Honda. He pulled one back with a blistering drive from 25 yards out and claimed a controversial second quarter of an hour from time, the ball not appearing to have crossed the line. By that time, ADO were down to ten after Karim Soltani had been sent off and they'd finish with just nine, van den Bergh also sent off five minutes from time.

    Fred Rutten was back in Enschede with PSV as two of the title favourites clashed. Douglas was a menace at set pieces and headed Twente ahead, but the lead lasted just five minutes when Balazs Dzsudzsak equalised, a daisy-cutter somehow squirming from Sander Boschker's grasp. Twente look pretty well equipped with Ronnie Stam and Costa Rican Brian Ruiz prominent, but they couldn't force a winner. Luis Suarez hit a 20-minute hat-trick for Ajax as they stuffed Waalwijk. Gregory van der Wiel put them ahead early on with Benjamin de Cuelaer equalising on the half hour. Suarez struck from the spot with 19 minutes to go to restore the lead after Wouter Gudde was sent off and added two more, the third coming deep in injury time, before the final whistle as Ajax went top. AZ got their campaign off and running with a straightforward win over Sparta on Friday night. Moussa Dembele put them ahead early on and strike partner Mounir El Hamdaoui made it two in the second half.

    NEC were big winners, also on Friday, belting Heerenveen at De Goffert. Bjorn Vleminckx scored twice, the first and fourth, as the Nijmegeners ran into a four-goal lead before Michael Papadopoulos grabbed a consolation. Erton Fejzullahu and Youssed El Akchaoui were NEC's other scorers. Utrecht are the only side other than Ajax with a 100% record as they beat last week's big winners Willem II at the Galgenwaard. Ghanaian defender Francis Dickoh got the only goal of the game in the first half.

    Draws were the order of the day elsewhere as Vitesse and Feyenoord and NAC and Heracles couldn't muster a goal between them. At least Roda and Groningen could find the net, Goran Lovre equalising for the visitors after Anouar Hadouir's opener.