Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Highest Attendance

While it isn't surprising that the NFL is the highest attended league in the world, the league with the 2nd highest attendance did surprise me.  The German Bundesliga is the 2nd highest attended league in the world with an average of 44,000 tickets sold (compared to 67,000 for the NFL).  While it is no suprise that soccer leagues across the world have high attendance, the fact that the Bunderliga of all leagues tops them all is surprising.  If I had to place a bet, my money would have been on the English Premier League being at the top.  It is also slightly surprising how dominant the NFL is, averaging 23,000 more tickets sold then the next league.  In a way though, the comparison isn't quite square, because the NFL only plays 16 games and each stadium only hosts 8 games a year.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Record Breaker

With 2 goals today in FC Barcelona's 4-0 victory over Levante, Messi has 82 goals in 2012 between club (FC Barcelona) and country (Argentina). He is currently 3 goals behind the record of 85 goals in one calendar year, held by Gerd Muller.  Admittedly, this is a rather obscure record, but this is what happens when you've already broken most conventional records.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Managing Chelsea

Earlier this week, Chelsea fired their manager Roberto Di Matteo, 8 months after getting hired as interim manager.  In this 8 months, Di Matteo lead Chelsea to a surprise European Championship, and also the FA cup in England.  This year, with the help of Di Matteo, Chelsea started out strong on top of the English Premier League table, before a recent spell of poor play saw them drop down to 3rd.  Chelsea is having difficulties in this years Champions League; they are 3rd in their group and are at risk of not advancing.  But what more can be expected out of a new manager? Chelsea must be a toxic wasteland to manage, knowing that any loss could result in your immediately release.  Of course, managers being fired is nothing new for Chelsea.  Since Roman Abramovich took over the team, there have been 10 different managers at the helm. At some point Abramovich has to give one of his managers some times to build something great.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Champions League Day 1 Review

FC Barcelona won their match with a dominating performance over Spartak Moskva.  The final score was 3-0 with 2 goals from Messi and Alves getting his first goal of the season.  Barcelona now has goals from 13 different players this year so far, an impressive feat.  Individually, Messi is now only 5 goals behind Muller's record of 85 goals in a calendar across competitions (club and country), which is also an impressive feat.  Barcelona has now clinched their group and will move on to the final 16. 

Chelsea lost their match 3-0 to Juventus, putting their pursuit to repeat last year's European championship in jeopardy.  They must win their last game against FC Nordsj√¶lland and Juventus must lose to FC Shakhtar Donetsk for Chelsea to have a chance to progress. 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Champions League Preview

Barcelona vs Spartak Moskva: Barcelona is sitting fairly comfortable in their group, up 2 points on Celtic and 5 points on Benfica, but they are not looking to drop top spot to Celtic.  They lost their last Champions League game to Celtic in an upset, they want to avoid another.
Prediction: 4-1 FCB

Real Madrid vs Manchester City: With Manchester City sitting at the bottom of their group with no wins so far, they will be looking to make up some ground against Real Madrid.  This is a huge problem for Manchester City since they lost in the group stage of the Champions League last year as well.
Prediction: 2-2 draw

Chelsea vs Juventus: Chelsea and Juventus are sitting 2nd and 3rd in their group behind FC Shakhtar Donetsk, so this game is huge for both teams trying to come out of their group.
Prediction: 3-2 Chelsea

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Weekend Review

There were a few big shock results in the English Premier League this weekend.  First, current European Champions Chelsea fell 2-1 to West Bromwich Albion.  Only a few weeks ago, Chelsea was on top of the English Premier League table, but a 3-2 loss to Manchester United, a 1-1 draw with Liverpool and this current loss have dropped them down to third place.

The second shock result of the weekend was Manchester United falling to 1-0 to Norwich.  After defeating Chelsea a few weeks back, Manchester United was on top of the table, but with this loss, combined with a big 5-0 victory for Manchester City, the former English Premier League champions reclaimed their spot on top of the table.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Thiago Messi's New Contract

Last Friday, Lionel Messi and his girlfriend Antonella Rocuzzo had their child Thiago Messi.  It took only 6 days after the child's birth before he signed his first contract.  Rosario-based club Newell Old Boys signed the newborn child, the same club where Messi spent his childhood (aged 8 to 13).  This is just an odd story.  From the club's perspective, I suppose it's a low risk, high reward signing.  If he's good like his father, they either get a good player or will be able to sell him to a big european club for big money.  If he doesn't turn out to be much a player, how much could it have honestly cost to sign a 6 day old, even despite his last name. But why would Messi and his girlfriend put that kind of pressure on their newborn? We're not sure at what point Thiago will be forced to play, but a child shouldn't have that much pressure thrust upon him at such a young age.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Weekend Roundup

With the Vancouver Whitecaps' season officially over, this weekend's soccer was slightly less exciting.  However, there were still two games that I watched.  The first game was Manchester United against Arsenal.  This game had a lot of promise as it was Robin Van Persie's first game back against the Gunners since leaving during the summer transfer window.  To the surprise of absolutely no one, Van Persie made his old team pay only 3 minutes into the game with a goal.  The rest of the game was wildly uneventful, resulting in a 2-1 Manchester United win.

The other game I watched this weekend was Barcelona vs Celta.  It was an relatively routine 3-1 win for Barcelona, keeping their undefeated season alive, making this their most successful ever start to a season.  A couple of interesting notes though.  This was Messi's first game since the birth of his son Thiago Messi.  You could tell he really wanted that first goal to dedicate to his son, but it never came about. His frustration was clearly shown after getting checked by a Celta defender, he lightly punched him in the back, leading to a scrum.  It is good to see Messi so fiery this year.

Two exciting games coming up in the coming week.
Tuesday: Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid - Can Dortmund prove that their previous Madrid victory wasn't just a fluke.
Wednesday: Barcelona vs. Celtic - Will Celtic return with their all our defending style, effectively playing soccer's version of the trap?

Sunday, 4 November 2012

White Caps Season

The Vancouver Whitecaps 2011-2012 season is now over, after losing 2-1 to the LA Galaxy in a one game elimination match.  Was the season a success? Certainly not an overwhelming success, but it also wasn't a disappointment.  They finished first amongst Canadian teams and are the first Canadian team to make the playoffs. They made the playoffs in only their second season.  They got solid performance from rookie Darren Mattocks.  Now for the negatives.  Heading into July, the White Caps were a respectable 7 wins, 5 ties and 5 losses.  Then it all went downhill, winning only 4 games in the final 4 months of the season.  The streak coincided with a large turnover of players.  They lost Davide Chiumento to Zurich, Hassli to Toronto FC, traded Sebastian Le Toux to NYC for Dane Richards, and brought in Barry Robson, Kenny Miller, and Andy O'Brien.  On paper, the refreshed White Caps looked much stronger, but never appeared.  It's hard to explain what happened in the final half of the season, but no one can be happy about it.  It will be interesting to see who the White Caps bring in during the offseason with the departure of Dane Richards, the possible retirement of YP Lee, among other chances I'm sure.