Tag Archives: The Soccer Guys

Ligue 1 Top Spot Up For Grabs

By Ryan Fleming

Oh, how the mighty fall. After losing their first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal to fellow French rival, Lyon, Bordeaux now finds itself out of the pole position in Ligue 1 after suffering three-straight defeats.

Last weekend, the French giant slipped up against AS Nancy Lorraine, 2-1, despite controlling play throughout the match – owning 71 percent of possession. Fernando Cavenaghi tallied for Bordeaux, tying the match at one, but Issiar Dia put the northern France side up for good in the 72nd minute.

Cavenaghi was one of Bordeaux’s best players last year, but this year he has been nearly invisible – only starting in 11 matches compared with last years 23.  Yoann Gourcuff, another Bordeaux star, has just returned to the spectacular form  the young French international has been known for. If the side from southern France even dares to dream of beating Lyon in the second leg and capturing the league title, Cavenaghi and Gourcuff, especially, will have to be the stars their fans know they can be.

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Champions League Quarterfinals Draw In Perspective

By Kevin Koczwara

The next stage in Champions League play has been set today. Teams have been told who will face in the next round, and who their potential opponents could be.

This year’s quarter-finals and semi-finals have potential to be great match-ups. These next rounds could also become major coming out parties to the smaller clubs involved. With the likes of CSKA Moscow, Bordeaux and Lyon all making it further than expected.

So let’s break down each pairing and each route to the finals in Madrid.

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Messi In Class of His Own

By Kevin Koczwara

After watching yesterday’s Champions League game between Barcelona and VfB Stuttgart, I got to thinking about what Lionel Messi has meant to that game of soccer, Barcelona, and soccer fans.

Then I decided to jump over to ESPN’s Soccernet and see what the writer’s over there were saying about the boy-wonder. I read a column by Tom Adams, and the comments, and got to thinking about the argument Adams was making– Rooney is not as good as Messi, but he is a prolific goal scorer.

I cannot agree or disagree with Adams. I am stuck in the middle. Messi is a genius with the ball at his feet. He can dribble and imagine moves no other player has veer thought of or tried. He can create scoring chances from all over the field, for himself and his teammates. And he is only 22 years old (makes me wonder how my life has panned out at 22). The game comes so easily to him that it is frightful.

But is it fair to compare Rooney and Messi?

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England's Players Got A Bugging Problem

Courtesy Mike Towers, Editor of  World Cup Bafana Bafana Blog

Since we are all still in the dark about the actual contents of these tapes I called on my underground sources Big Jim and Big Jim’s Scary Half-Brother to track them down.

My instructions were clear – get those tapes before the press splash them all over the front pages. And so, after several hours of sitting in pubs near Tottenham Court Road gazing wistfully at passing foreign students, my boys finally sprang into action.

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World Cup Preview pt. 4: Group F

By Kevin Koczwara

I know I have been away for a long time and I am sorry for that. I was busy, very busy, with a job I had in the month of December. But, I am back and ready to go. So let’s start this column off with predictions for Group F.

Group F is a tough group with 2 defensive and strong-minded teams, one virtual unknown and a squad that won their group in European qualifying to many people’s surprise. Continue reading

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Craig Bellamy Sets Standard

Bellamy played a season for Liverpool, and during his time there he was nicknamed "Nutter with the Putter" for an off field incident that involved a golf club. He decided to celebrate his next goal by pretending to swing a golf club. (Courtesy khanh_coltech)

Bellamy played a season for Liverpool, and during his time there he was nicknamed "Nutter with the Putter" for an off field incident that involved a golf club. He decided to celebrate his next goal by pretending to swing a golf club. (Courtesy khanh_coltech)

By Kevin Koczwara

Craig Bellamy is in the news again, and he is not getting the attention he deserves for his play, but rather his conduct.

If you haven’t heard already, let me catch you up. Bellamy slapped a Manchester United fan in the face after the fan ran on the field and was taken down by the proper authorities. Bellamy decided on his own the make a point with the fan. But was it such a bad thing? Is his action for once good taste rather than bad taste? Remember the rumble at the Palace was started by a thrown cup. And this year has not been the best for athlete and fan interaction.

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Two Small Strikers with Injury Problems: Michael Owen and Taylor Twellman

Twellman has a great strike rate in the MLS but his game has not transferred well to the international stage. (Courtesy Jarrett Campbell)

Twellman has a great strike rate in the MLS but his game has not transferred well to the international stage. (Courtesy Jarrett Campbell)

By Kevin Koczwara

I have been thinking about Michael Owen ever since he signed with Manchester United. I just don’t know what it is about that story that keeps me coming for me. Michael Owen bothers me for some reason. He just makes me think about how great some players could have been, or were but no one really noticed. He was under appreciated at one time, and for a while he was overrated, and washed up. He scores goals, yes. But he doesn’t seem to have that winning edge, or that cutthroat play.

And today, while mowing the lawn and thinking about what I would write tonight, it hit me. Michael Owen reminds me of Taylor Twellman for some reason. And hear me out on this.

I am not saying Twellman is the equivalent to Owen, Michael has more talent and has faced stiffer competition throughout his career. But the way their careers have unfolded is what got me thinking.

Taylor Twellman Michael Owen
1980                                                            1979
5 ft 11 in                                                     5 ft 9 in
International Scoring Rate: 0.21    International Scoring Rate: 0.58
Club Scoring Rate: 0.60                      Club Scoring Rate: 0.50

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EPL News Wrap Sept 14

Ryan Giggs scored an enormous goal on a free kick on Saturday against Tottenham. The game was one of the most entertaining I have watched all year. But That is all I have for that story. (Courtesy James Adams flickr)

Ryan Giggs scored an enormous goal on a free kick on Saturday against Tottenham. The game was one of the most entertaining I have watched all year. But that is all I have for that story. (Courtesy James Adams flickr)

By Kevin Koczwara

I was going to start this off by talking about the Manchester United vs Tottenham match from Saturday. But I got this tweet from ESPN Soccernet when I turned on my computer: “Premier League bring in home grown quotas: The Premier League has announced that from next season every team must..”

This is big news for all Premier League clubs. Now clubs can’t just buy up other teams talent (Manchester City of this summer), they need to develop it. Teams must grow talent. Plant seeds, water them, and fertilize until they are big and strong.. Clubs must be more like the Porto’s and Lyon’s of the world — not saying they are perfect either, but their model is certainly much more affordable.

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Where Are You Argentina?

Maradona is a legend in the world of soccer. His skill was unmatched as a player, but as the coach of Argentina he is faultering in World Cup Qualification for 2010. (Courtesy Diego_3336s Flickr)

Maradona is a legend in the world of soccer. His skill was unmatched as a player, but as the coach of Argentina he is faltering in World Cup Qualification for 2010. (Courtesy Diego_3336's Flickr)

By Kevin Koczwara

Argentina has won the World Cup two times (1978 and 1986) and has been to the finals four times. The only year that the Argentinians didn’t qualified was 1970 (they have withdrawn their spot three other times). But they are on thin ice this year in the qualification stages, even though they have the world’s best player in Lionel Messi. If coach Maradona doesn’t bring his team back from the dead in the final stages of qualifying then this could be a historic year for the World Cup, it would be only the second time Argentina didn’t qualify.

Maradona scored wonder goals while playing for Argentina and lead the national team to the 1986 World Cup title, but maybe he is not suited to coach his peers. His team has great depth and some of the world’s best players, but they aren’t getting the results they need. The 3-1 defeat to Brazil over the weekend has hurt the team’s chances of making it to the World Cup.

Currently Argentina is fourth in the CONMEBOL table. Brazil has already secured their place in South Africa and Paraguay and Chile are looking to book their flights and accommodations as well (each just need one win). If Argentina doesn’t seal up the fourth spot then they will have to play for the fifth spot and that doesn’t mean an automatic bid.

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'09-10 Premier League Predictions

Kevin Koczwara is looking at the top competitors for the EPL trophy and picking a winner. His pick is sadly a team he hates. (Courtesy edwin.11 flickr)

Kevin Koczwara is looking at the top competitors for the EPL trophy and picking a winner. His pick is sadly a team he hates. (Courtesy edwin.11 flickr)

By Kevin Koczwara

Champions: Manchester United

I just can’t pick against two time defending champions. Manchester United just has too much depth. Their squad lost a world player of the year, but still have that champion’s swagger, Sir Alex Ferguson, and a bench full of players that could start at just about any club in the world.

The depth is what really seals this pick up for me. No matter how many stones I throw into wishing wells for Liverpool’s first league title in 19 years, I just can’t pick them to take over the top spot. United can play for the FA Cup, Carling Cup, the EPL and Champions League with strong squads for every match with a different starting 11, and not many clubs in the world (other exception being Barcelona) can boast about that.

Top Four: (1) Manchester United, (2) Liverpool, (3) Chelsea, (4) Arsenal

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