Before I get to this week’s soccer manifesto, a few things:
I have this crazy goal: I want to do this soccer column every week for the rest of the footy season, unless I’m on vacay. However, with the new job things started getting hectic and I started having trouble motivating myself. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: Jake what the hell is wrong with you. You were having trouble motivating yourself to write a youtube based soccer column every friday for a basketball website? Geez man, you’re slipping.
Then I got an email from our man Nadav Mor out in Berlin. Nads wrote, “How about a weekly summery of the Bundesliga, possibly the most underrated league of them all? I’ll be happy to send one in every Monday…” And I thought to myself: YES! This is the best way to force me to do something that, even though I’m tired, I really want to do. And I’ll be able to lighten my Spain coverage a bit, when necessary.
Still thinking, I figured we shouldn’t be exclusive with this, so I invited slamonline commenter Oliver (or Our Bloke Oliver–henceforth known as OBO) to drop some EPL videos because everyone and their mom is digging British football these days.
In sum, this column has expanded. Yay! And YAY!.
Two sets of games from Spain from the last week before the holiday break. Let’s get to it:
From the weekend:
reLevante 1 Celta 1
Osasuna 4 Villareal 1
Real Sociedad 3 Nastic 2
Sevilla 3 Recreativo Huelva 1
Athletic Bilbao 2 Deportivo 0
Racing Santander 2 Mallorca 1
Valencia 1 Real Zaragoza 0
Now for this week’s matches:
Valencia 3 Mallorca 1
Athletic Bilbao 0 Zaragoza 0
Espanyol 1-0 Getafe 0
There were four of Recre’s fans were killed when the Recre fans coach coach (pictured toppled over) got into an accident. Many more were seriously injured. Some might say this win is divine. Those are the three prettiest goals bunched together that you’ll see for a long time.
Betis 1 Nastic 0
Celta 0 Real Sociedad 0
Osasuna 2 Levante 1
Racing 2 Villarreal 1
Sevilla moves into first, three points ahead of Barca. Barca has played one less game.
Nads adds: Bundesliga Game Notes from Match day 17
Hertha BSC Berlin vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
I decided to go to a soccer game this past Saturday, featuring the home team, and my favorites, Hertha BSC against rivals Eintracht Frankfurt. No real significance to this game, other than it being the last one before the month and half long winter break, meaning both teams wanted to send themselves and there fans happy into the new year. The East-West rivalry comes from Frankfurt being the financial capital of Germany, while Berlin is the official capital. Kinda like the Knicks vs. Wizards, um, rivalry. Or not.
I got free tickets courtesy of dad’s job (DIPSET!–wait, what? Explain in the comments), getting to sit in the “Hall of Honour”. A buffet area (we’ll get to that) located in the middle of the stadium, offering a great view of the pitch.
Don’t know about the food in the press room, but following the latest trend here at the site, here’s a short rundown of the gastronomical features (the buffet):
Duck , Chicken, Rice, Pasta, A Bratwurst station (make your own wurst type of thing) and an assortment of salads. Overall B+, just cause the food there is highly unhealthy, but very, very good.
However, what takes the not-so-proverbial cake was the desert area. I don’t know if the Germans meant to do this, but they had a cake there called the “Philadelphia Cheese Cake”. Either a cute play on words or just a random name. Probably the latter. Best part of the desert place was the self service waffle maker. No need to explain. Amazing.
Anyway, Hertha plays their games in the once notorious yet now renowned Olympic Stadium. Renowned because the final of the World Cup was played there last summer. Word. And notorious because it was where Hitler held the 1936 Olympics, where track legend Jesse Ownes knocked him the f*ck out and won 4 gold medals. Interestingly enough, former NBA draft pick Chris Owens, Jesse’s great-nephew, plays for Berlin’s basketball team, ALBA.
On to the game:
- Both teams were missing star players, as Turkish superstar Yıldıray Baştürk sat out injured for Berlin, along with Greek national player Ioannis Amanatidis Frankfurt.
- Hertha slowly took control of the match, with their very own “Serbian Gangster” (doubt he uses that nickname, but if Rasheed can use it, so can I), Marko Pantelic, taking a great shot in the 10th minutes, only to have it brick off of the left post. (First ever usage of “brick” in soccer context? Excellent.)
- Frankfurt had the first shot on goal, with Benjamin Köhler’s shot stopped by Berlin keeper Christian Fiedler.
- Hertha’s striker, Christian “Jimmy” Giménez was somehow left open with the ball 5 meters away from goal, but his shot was saved by a defender. Halftime
- I’ve decided that the offside rule in soccer is the equivalent to the three second rule in basketball. They’re equally annoying; and both sports would be much higher scoring without them, probably getting out of control though, at the same time.
- Round 2 of buffet eating commences. Apologizes to all waffles around the world. Somehow going to a sporting event and pigging out makes perfect sense.
- Sitting near by were the two owners of the teams. It’s interesting to see them get all pissed off at certain players and calls. It’s basically their money running around on the field. Think about it.2nd Half
- Frankfurt came out storming in the second half, nearly scoring a goal in the forty-eighth minute, but captain Markus Weissenbereg slipped, and missed a simple tap in. (Just taaaap it in, taaaap it in)
- 10 Minutes later, a Frankfurt goal was disallowed following an offside call. I love offside calls.
- In minute 60, Hertha finally scored, and a nifty play by their international imports. Hungarian Pal Dardi stormed on the right side, flanking the ball into the penalty area, where Pantelic set up Giménez for a simple kick. GOOOAAAAL!
- Hertha had a few more chances to widen their lead, but the otherwise mundane game finally came to an end, with the Frankfurters being eaten up by the Berliners. (Come on, I waited all day for that line). Happy Holidays.
- And now here’s OBO: BIG week for the premiership as cellar dwellers West Ham beat up on Man U allowing Chelsea to close the gap at the top to two points after their come from behind win over EvertonFirst however let’s check out the Saturday games: Arsenal 2-2 Portsmouth: Once again Arsenal made hard work of a game they really should have won going two goals down before finally waking up and roaring back in the second half- great performance by Pompey keeper David James (one of only five players to have played in all fourteen seasons since the EPL’s introduction in 92’) however Arsenal only have themselves to blame as once again their defence gift wrapped opportunities (maybe in the spirit of Christmas) and their offence spluttered without Thierry Henry.
Charlton 0-3 Liverpool: Liverpool comprehensively battered a weak Charlton squad and should probably have scored more- Liverpool starting to find their form and move up to third place with this win after Arsenal and Pompey’s draw. Newcastle 2-1 Watford: Spirited performance from Watford but Nigerian forward, and member of the ‘younger than he looks club’ (he’s 22 supposedly) Obafemi Martin struck twice and celebrated with a fancy flip to sting the Hornets and secure the three points for the Geordies.Other resultsReading 1-2 BlackburnWigan 0-1 Sheff UtdAston Villa 0-1 BoltonOn to Sunday and the big games of the weekend as Chelsea needed to win to keep the pressure on Man U at the top
To let you know the kind of guy Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho is, in his first British interview two and a half years ago he compared himself to god and encouraged his nickname ‘the special one’ to be used by the Brit press. Once again Mourinho was at his antagonistic best accusing Everton and England forward Andy Johnson of being a ‘diver’ goading Everton boss David Moyes into a slanging match and then celebrating Drogba’s sublime winner by romping down the Goodison park touch line pumping his fists as if he’d just won the lottery. Any man who can get away with such a brazen display of theatrics in front of forty thousand scousers without getting a hot car stereo to the head gets my respect. Anyway once again Chelsea came from behind to win without playing particularly well thanks to some seriously good goals from Ballack, Lampard and Drogba, they missed superman John Terry at the back (his replacement the thuggish looking Khalid Boularouz gave away the penalty that put Everton ahead) but once again Chelsea proved they are the side to beat, as they are the only team in the land capable of winning tough games while playing crap football.
This come from behind result for Chelsea meant pressure on Manchester United at the top. So how did they respond?
Well not that well- Rooney was rubbish, Saha was as one dimensional as always Carrick proved he is over rated and Ronaldo, despite being the most dangerous threat on the park was not his usual terrorising self. West Ham scrapped and fought doggedly under new boss Alan Curbishley and Nigel Reo Coker’s goal fifteen minutes from time was enough to bag the points. Manchester United will feel a bit hard done by as they bossed the game and created more opportunities, but they were a little lacklustre, especially Rooney who spent more time shouting profanities at the ref and stomping around than actually playing football. Notable performance from American right back and Man U reject Jonathan Spector in defending Christiano Ronaldo, doing as well as any defender has managed against the tricky Portuguese so far this campaign. Excellent result for West Ham who are much too good to be in the relegation zone and a horrible result for Man U as this gives Chelsea a huge lift and shows the title race is far from over.
Manchester City 1-2 Tottenham:
Seriously impressive performance from Spurs teenage midfielder Tom Huddlestone who set up the first and blasted in the second to put Tottenham two up, City fought back with a goal from captain Joey Barton and outplayed their London counterparts in the second half but just couldn’t find the quality to grab the all important equaliser.
Drogba’s winner against Everton with only a few minutes to go- there were a few corkers this weekend Huddlestons’s banger, Lampard’s stunning equalizer and Matty Taylor’s looping effort to sink Arsenal at the Emirates stadium, but Drogba’s was clutch……. seriously clutch so it takes this weeks award.
Performance of the week
Tottenham’s wonderkid Tom Huddlestone was very impressive showing intelligence that belies his youth, spreading the play well and generally running the game at the City of Manchester Stadium.
Also Welsh veteran Gary Speed’s 501st appearance in the premiership (another of the five guys to have played all fourteen premiership seasons) topped off his special game with a winning goal for Bolton against Villa.
I thought of coming up with the idea of showcasing a leading premiership star every week to give you guys a look at the best players in the EPL.
This week we’ll kick off with Man U’s star winger Christiano Ronaldo or ‘winker Ronaldo’ as he’s known in the tabloids here (anyone who watched the world cup will know why) who so far this season may be the best attacking player in the premiership- love him or loathe him, I personally loathe him due to his combination of fruity haircuts and orange tans, (my girlfriend refers to him as the ‘guy who looks like a girl going to prom) however it must be said that this year he has cut down the theatrics and has become a more complete player- exciting to watch and, unlike in years gone by he has produced end results to go with his showboating. No matter what he is certainly one of the most entertaining players in the league- so enjoy the vid.