Saturday, 29 September 2012

Saturday Soccer Review

There's no better way to spend a Saturday than watching non stop soccer action.  So far, three games watched (Chelsea vs Arsenal, Barcelona vs Sevilla, Manchester United vs Tottenham), one left to go.  By far the best game of the day was Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspurs.  The first half was slow with the Spurs holding a 2-0 lead.  In the second half, Manchester United really turned on the pressure in the second half, completely dominated all the possession.  However, Manchester United couldn't pull out the come from behind victory like they so often do.  They ended up losing 3-2.

Barcelona took advantage of a soft red card call against Sevilla to come out on top 3-2.  They needed injury time to get the go ahead goal to keep the pressure on Real Madrid.  They are currently 11 points up on them, though Real Madrid has yet to play this week.

Again, the White Caps fail to win. Frustrating.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Barcelona vs Grenada

On Saturday, FC Barcelona faced off against Grenada CF in La Liga play.  As usual, FC Barcelona significantly dominated the game, but the result didn't quite match the possession of the game.  Grenada goalkeeper Toño had the game of his career, robbing Barcelona of many sure fire scoring opportunities.  The inability to score clearly affected FC Barcelona when, in the 40th minute, Messi lost his temper on his teammate David Villa.  This is a rare sight to see from the normally cool tempered Lionel Messi.  For about 30 seconds after the play, you can see the two battering up and down the field.  Finally, in the 84th minute, Xavi finally got one past Toño with an absolutely perfect shot; the goalkeeper didn't stand a chance.  The final score ended 2-0 for FC Barcelona after an unfortunate own goal but the Grenada CF center back.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Sidenote: iPhone 5

I really don't understand the people who line up hours or days before the new iPhone launch, though I am thankful for them.  I got my iPhone 5 on release day, while waiting for a combined 5 minutes between pre-ordering and picking up my phone.  I showed up at the very end of the day on pre-order day at the Bell store.  I was skeptical about getting my iPhone on the September 21st release date, but they assured me I would get it.  Yesterday, on release day, I showed up in the middle of the afternoon to pick up my ordered phone, but again I was skeptical.  But there it was, sitting there ready for me to pickup without having to sleep out outside the Apple store like so many oddly seem to enjoy doing.  This is my first time owning an iPhone, and I'm pretty happy with it.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Champions League Group Stage: Week 1 Follow Up

Unfortunately, despite some very close calls, there weren't really any major upsets in week 1 of the UEFA Champions League.

Let's start with the big game, Manchester City vs. Real Madrid.  Despite having been largely outplayed in the first half, Manchester City was fortunate to see the score show 1-0 after a 68th minute goal by Dzeko.  The two teams later traded goals, giving Manchester City a 3-2 in the 85th minute.  It was almost certainly going to be Manchester City win at that point, but their fortune quickly faded.  After an 87th minute Karim Benzema goal, it was Ronaldo's turn to play the role of hero, adding the winning goal in extra time.  My predictions were off to a decent start.  While the score may have been wrong, the result was right with a 1 goal Real Madrid victory and Real Madrid pressing early with 12 shots directed towards goal in the first half.

Not to be outdone, Wednesday was Lionel Messi's turn to play the hero.  This game should have been a cake walk for Barcelona at home, despite all of their injuries, but they just had to make it an interesting one.  In their defense, they were without a real center back, as Puyol is out with injuries and Pique had to leave the game in the 12th minute due to an ankle injury.  After an early goal by youngster Tello, Barcelona fell behind 2-1 due, in part, to a terrible own goal by Dani Alves.  Now it was Messi's turn, scoring two quick goals in the 72nd and 80th minute; a good start in his attempt to beat his own record for most goals in a single Champions League campaign.  From there on, it was Barcelona doing what they do best.  Keep possession, not letting Moscow have even a sniff at the ball. 3-2 victory for Barcelona.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Champions League Group Stage: Week 1

Tuesday marks the start of the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League campaign for many of Europe's top teams.  The group stage includes some of the most exciting soccer matches of the year, as many of the richest, most powerful teams in Europe get eliminated.  Last year saw the shock elimination of England's Manchester United and Manchester City, Spain's Valencia and Germany's Borussia Dortmund.

Undoubtedly, the biggest game of the week has Spanish champions Real Madrid facing English champions Manchester City (09/18 11:45 PST).  There will be a lot of money and egos on the field on Tuesday (we're not even sure if Ronaldo's will fit through the oversize doorways of the Santiago Bernabéu), with Manchester City spending nearly £1 billion transforming their team in the past few seasons, and Real Madrid always being near the top in terms of spending.  Look for a very aggressive Real Madrid side as they attempt to right the ship and get a much needed 3 points in this year's group of death.  Prediction: 2-1 Real Madrid victory.

Other games of note this week:
 - Chelsea vs Juventus: Can Juventus' stifling defense hold up to Chelsea's new look offense?
 - Valencia vs Bayern Munich: Can Bayern Munich continue their Champion League excellence against a strong Valencia side that is looking for retribution after failing to make it through the group round last year?
 - Barcelona vs Spartak Moskva: Can Messi's run of form carry an injury ridden Barcelona side?

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Soccer Saturday!

Soccer Saturday has come and gone leaving behind some interesting results. For me, the two biggest results were in the Spanish La Liga with Barcelona's 4-1 victory over Getafe and Real Madrid's subsequent defeat 1-0 to Sevilla.  With the loss, Barcelona still sits on top of the standings with 12 of a possible 12 points so far this season.  At the other end of the spectrum, today's loss has left Real Madrid with their worst start in the past 10 seasons, gaining 4 out of a possible 12 points.  While obviously not insurmountable, this 8 point advantage for Barcelona should prove helpful later in the season in their bid to return back to the top of La Liga.  It is hard not to at least partially blame Real Madrid's lack of form on Cristiano Ronaldo and his sulking ways bringing down the team's atmosphere, but for me, I hope he can keep it up.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Cleat Zone

This is the first of multiple (somewhere just above 26 posts, most likely) posts about 'The Beautiful Game', i.e. Soccer, i.e. Football, i.e. Footy, i.e. Association Football, i.e. Synchronized Diving.  I hope you enjoy!