Friday, September 12, 2014

George's Premiership Predictions 13 September 2014

bet365So we are back after an extended summer break joining the action in match week four of the Premier League.

Young George is itching to get back in the saddle with some exciting picks for the new season. Let's see how he does after his pre-season training.

Saturday 13 September 2014

Arsenal 1 v Man City 2
Sunderland 1 v Tottenham 1
Stoke City 2 v Leicester City 1
Crystal Palace 2 v Burnley 0
Chelsea 3 v Swansea City 0
West Brom 2 v Everton 3
Southampton 2 v Newcastle 1
Liverpool 2 v Aston Villa 1

Sunday 14 September 2014

Manchester United 2 v QPR 0

Monday 15 September 2014

Hull City 0 v West Ham 1

Van 9/4 To Deliver On Top Three Target

bet365 are quoting 9/4 about Manchester United finishing in the top three this season after reports of Louis van Gaal being set such a target by the Old Trafford hierarchy.

The Red Devils are 5/2 to finish outside the top six spots for the second season running and 4/1 to win a major trophy during 2014/15.

bet365’s Steve Freeth "Van Gaal has been spending like a kid in a very expensive sweet shop and it will be interesting to see how he shoehorns his attacking talent into his starting eleven."

Man Utd 2014/15 PL Finishing Position

1st 12/1 2nd 12/1 3rd 11/2 4th 4/1
5th 9/2 6th 15/2 7th+ 5/2


Top 3 Finish 9/4

Man Utd To Win A Major Trophy During 2014/15

Yes 4/1 No 1/6

(PL/FAC)
Total Radamel Falcao 2014/15 PL Goals

Over 13.5 5/6 Under 13.5 5/6

Soccer - Welbeck relishes central role

New signing Danny Welbeck is eager to make his mark as a central striker with Arsenal, who are 8/15 with bet365 to finish in the Premier League top four this season. £16million former Manchester United man Welbeck showed his qualities with both goals in England's Euro 2016 qualifying win in Switzerland earlier this week, and Welbeck is determined to carry on the good work. He told reporters: "It is well known I prefer to play through the middle, so when I get my opportunity I just want to show what I can do. "Once I get into the box and get the opportunities I have got faith in my ability. "Before I wasn't getting into the box because I wasn't playing too much as a striker and I had to worry about my defensive work." Welbeck is poised to make his debut for the Gunners on Saturday when they host the reigning Premier League champions, Manchester City.

Soccer - Fabianski dreams of top four

Swansea City goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski has called on his side to continue their good start to the new season, with a top-four finish in the Premier League a possibility. Fabianski and the Swans have won all three of their league games to date and head to Chelsea on Saturday to take on the only other side to have taken nine points out of nine. Poland international Fabianski sees no reason why City should not aim as high as possible, with the Welsh outfit 66/1 with bet365 to secure a top-four spot. Former Arsenal keeper Fabianski said: "Obviously it is early in the season and it is too early for things like that (talk of a top-four finish), but if we keep going as we are game by game, you never know in football. "Hopefully we could do it, why not? We don't have to be afraid of anything. "It's a shame the international break came when it did because we made a great start to the season with three wins from three."

Last time's predictions
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Monday, September 8, 2014

Stielike, Seoul, Struggles - September in South Korea

This has been one crazy summer and most in Korean football are glad to see the back of it. The events of the World Cup are well-known. What comes next remains to be seen.

The search for Stielike

When the KFA reluctantly accepted the resignation of Hong Myung-bo in early July, they had no idea as to the identity of his replacement. Indeed, a number of senior figures in the organisation also resigned following the World Cup failure including vice-president Huh Jung-moo and chairman of the technical committee Hwangbo Kwan. His successor is Lee Yong-soo, who held the post back in 2002. Lee and the new committee wanted a European with World Cup experience, club experience and experience in developing young players as well as decent English skills.

Bert Van Marwijk was the name on top of the list. Lee went to the Netherlands to talk to the man who led the Oranje to the final of the 2010 World Cup but the deal broke down mainly due to the Dutchman's desire to spend much of his time in Europe. The KFA wanted someone willing to get involved at all levels of the country's football scene.

Former Juventus coach Ciro Ferrara was also high on the list but in the end, the successful candidate was something of a surprise. Uli Stielike was a fantastic midfielder for Real Madrid and West Germany in the seventies and eighties yet his coaching career is not quite as impressive. Unremarkable national team spells with Switzerland in the late eighties and the Ivory Coast in the previous decade are peppered by short-lived club terms, the most recent of which came in the volatile coaching region of West Asia. Years spent with German youth teams at the turn of the century appealed to the KFA and basically being German helped.

Reaction was not especially positive or negative, though there is some relief that the post has been filled with the Asian Cup just four months away. Friendlies in October and November will give him a little time, though not much, to prepare for Australia. His bosses are looking longer-term but a bad start will, obviously, make it tough for a man whose record does not excite. Fans seem open-minded but there is not much credit in the bank.

Stumbles in the K-League

Pohang Steelers and Jeonbuk Motors have been here before and know well what it takes to win the K-League title. That doesn't mean they won't be frustrated at their recent slips in form. The only positive is that the two defeats in the last three that Jeonbuk have suffered and the dropping of eight points from the last four games from Pohang have not been capitalised on by rivals such as Suwon Bluewings.

Lee Dong-gook
Jeonbuk are three points clear and the happier of the two, especially after their recent and clinical 2-0 win in Pohang, their bogey team in recent years. Lee Dong-gook was on the scoresheet once again and remains on the top of the K-League goalscoring charts, not bad for a 35 year-old. Such form earned him a recall to the national team and the Lion King scored two fine goals in a very welcome 3-1 win over Venezuela on September 5.

At the bottom, Gyeongnam FC are propping up the other 11 and despite not playing that badly of late have just not been getting the results that they have deserved. Two-time Asian champs and seven-time domestic winners Seongnam are starting to climb free of trouble, helped the return of legendary coach Kim Hak-beom. If he can perform anything like the same magic as the middle part of last decade, fans in the satellite city are in for a happier time.

The only team in excellent form are FC Seoul. The 2012 champions started the season so badly that their recent run is not going to end in a title challenge but it should at least ensure a top-half finish. Sixteen points from the last eighteen has taken some pressure off coach Choi Yong-soo though whether this season is regarded as a success will depend on what happens in a different theatre.

Seoul of Asia?

That is one of the slogans that can be seen around the big stadium in the capital city. Seoul reached the final of the Asian Champions League in 2013, losing on away goals to Guangzhou Evergrande. The Koreans are now one game (if two legs) away from a repeat performance after seeing off Pohang in a turgid quarter-final that ended goalless after 210 minutes of football. The Steelers failed to score a single spot-kick and Choi Yong-soo's men sneaked through.

Western Sydney Wanderers lie in wait in the semi-final and while it will be tough, an in-form Seoul, even one not as strong as the 2013 version, should be able to get through and then take on Al Ain or Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia.

If Seoul can collect a first continental title, then they will at least be able to end what has been a traumatic year for Korean football on a high.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fifa World Rankings August 2014

FIFA World Fifa Rankings
Fifa's World Rankings for August 2014 were published today at FIFA HQ in Zurich, Switzerland. The Fifa World Rankings are now published on Thursday and not Wednesday as before.

These are the second rankings after the World Cup in Brazil and new world champions Germany remain at the top followed by Argentina, the Netherlands, Colombia, Belgium, Uruguay, Spain, Brazil, Switzerland, and France.

England remain in a lowly 20th place.

Algeria are the top African team in 24th place.

Japan are in 44th place.

The USA are in 18th place, down three spots from last month. Scotland are in 28th position, down one. The Republic of Ireland are in 66th place, Wales are in 41st, Northern Ireland are 95th.

Ranking Team
1 Germany
2 Argentina
3 The Netherlands
4 Colombia
5 Belgium
6 Uruguay
7 Spain
7 Brazil
9 Switzerland
10 France
11 Portugal
12 Chile
13 Greece
14 Italy
15 Costa Rica
16 Croatia
17 Mexico
18 USA
19 Bosnia-Herzegovina
20 England

Full world rankings

Previous Fifa World Rankings

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fifa World Rankings July 2014

FIFA World Fifa Rankings
Fifa's World Rankings for July 2014 were published today at FIFA HQ in Zurich, Switzerland. The Fifa World Rankings are now published on Thursday and not Wednesday as before.

These are the first rankings after the World Cup in Brazil and new world champions Germany replace Euro 2012 and World Cup 2010 winners Spain at the top of the pile.

Trailing Germany are Argentina, the Netherlands, Colombia, Belgium, Uruguay, Brazil, Spain, Switzerland, and France.

England drop to a lowly 20th place.

Algeria are the top African team in 24th place.

Japan are in 45th place.

The USA are in 15th place, down two spots from last month. Scotland stay in 27th position. The Republic of Ireland are in 70th place, Wales are in 44th, Northern Ireland are 89th.

Ranking Team
1 Germany
2 Argentina
3 The Netherlands
4 Colombia
5 Belgium
6 Uruguay
7 Brazil
8 Spain
9 Switzerland
10 France
11 Portugal
12 Chile
13 Greece
14 Italy
15 USA
16 Costa Rica
17 Croatia
18 Mexico
19 Bosnia-Herzegovina
20 England

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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Argentina v Belgium World Cup Betting

Mercurial Messi 20/1 To Better Maradona's Belgium Brace

A Maradona brace helped Argentina overcome Belgium the last time the two sides met back in 1986 and bet365 are 20/1 about their modern day equivalent, Lionel Messi, going one better with a hat-trick in the quarter final clash.

Messi with four goals to his name already at the 2014 World Cup is also 10/3 to outscore Belgium on his own on Saturday.

2014 World Cup Quarter Final - Argentina v Belgium (90 mins only)

Who Will Score More Goals

Lionel Messi 10/3 Tie 7/4 Belgium Evs

(Messi must start)

Messi to score 21/20
Messi to score 2 or more 5/1
Messi hat-trick 20/1

To Qualify

Argentina 1/2 Belgium 13/8
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Friday, July 4, 2014

Colombia are the World Cup winners, in joy at least

Win or lose tonight in Fortaleza, Colombia have lit up the World Cup and won a legion of fans across the globe.

Los Cafeteros have made the game beautiful again. They play to win and win attractively, dancing in joyous celebration and reminding the football world that a billion people are watching and want to be entertained.

God forbid we get another World Cup Final like 2010, when one team (the Netherlands) turned up looking to foul and kick their way to the trophy.

Colombia counter-attacking is about the best reason to get out of one's seat at Brazil 2014, and in the land of o jogo bonito, they have out scored and out performed the home side, whom they face today in the quarter-final.

Brazil v Colombia would have been a great final, but FIFA's misguided ranking system overloaded the first half of the draw and dumped four of the six South American teams in the same quarter of the second round.

Argentina have been spluttering along firing mostly blanks, leaving tonight's clash as the South American final of the World Cup.

Colombia have been on a steady upwards curve since former Albiceleste boss Jose Pekerman took over in 2012 and guided the coffee-makers to their first World Cup finals since 1998. Pekerman, who is distantly related to Hollywood legend Gregory Peck, carries himself with the same amount of dignity, refusing to get drawn into the narratives of journalists, whom he tends to shun.

Serious and austere he may be, a striking contrast to the singing and dancing image of Colombia, but he lets his results do the talking and is a national hero in Colombia, albeit a most reticent one. When the Cafeteros have found the net, Pekerman's exterior has melted somewhat as he has briefly joined in with the hysteria.

The Colombian nation has been allowed to smile again too. It suffered greatly from the narco-war of the 1990s, which spilled overt into its football, most notably with the collapse of the much-vaunted 1994 World Cup team and subsequent assassination of Andres Escobar.

Colombia is still a very economically divided nation with rampant corruption and paramilitary violence spilling over into people's lives too often. Football cannot solve these problems but can at least temporarily soothe them and give everyone a feeling of communal happiness.

The fact Colombia are a relative novelty at the finals created a lot of curiosity and the team have turned the global interest into admiration by winning every game with aplomb.

James Rodriguez, who also has an Argentine connection having spent two years with Banfield, is the unexpected top scorer at the World Cup so far, netting one more than the marketing men's favourites Neymar and Lionel Messi.

The unfortunate injury to Falcao, who scored nine in qualifying, has let the 22 year-old Rodriguez take centre stage unexpectedly, and his exquisite goals, particularly the shimmy and deft chip against Japan and the exquisite chest to foot rocket against Uruguay, have made him the tournament's poster boy.

There are also the flying wingers Andres Cuadrado and Victor Ibarbo, whose high-speed raids have been thrilling, and goals from Jackson Martinez. Carlos Sanchez is a strong midfield enforcer and Mario Yepes at the age of 38 has been solid at the back. Bringing on 43 year old Faryd Mondragon was a lovely touch, and Colombia have won millions of fans for their joyful dance routines after scoring. Football is fun again and this team is impossible to dislike.

All that could end in tears tonight if as widely expected, the home team respond to their fans and the ghosts of 1950. Such is life in the knockout stages.

Having sailed through one of the weaker groups and demolished a demoralised Uruguay, Colombia face their first real test tonight.

Whether Brazilian or Colombian coffee tastes the sweeter at the end, Colombia's return to the world stage has been a fantastic one.



Learn the Colombian dance steps

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Reflection on two weeks in Brazil

A tale of nine cities. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Well two weeks, nine cities and ten football matches as well as visits to some of Oscar Niemeyer's work, which I hope you liked.

Reflection on two weeks in Brazil


Unfortunately I have to disagree with his quote from earlier, yes his designs are pleasing on the eye, but they do not take away the people's problems.

I have witnessed a number of scenarios that have made me think .... is this part of Brazil's problem.

By now the world has heard of the protests in Brazil against the staging of the World Cup, with government reform the wish of those protesting.

The reason this had been brought to our attention is that FIFA pay no taxes in Brazil. Thinking about the revelations about companies outed In the UK, and the fact that the majority either made a donation or agreed to change the way they operate, why does FIFA not do the same. Are they a law unto themselves? Because they will say that they are investing money in football projects all over the world, which in encouraging people to be active and promotes healthier life styles?

Brazil was under military rule only 25 years ago. This is a relatively short space of time in which it has been open to the world.

They need more openness to be able to change.

What change was brought about by the creation of Brasilia in the 1960's, yes they created some wonderful science-fiction styled photo opportunities but what has that done for the people?

Now FIFA have left their legacy with 12 magnificent stadiums, what will that do for the people? What use will they get out of the stadiums in Manaus, Brasilia and Cuiaba where there is no major team in the cities to use them.

Here are some of the examples, I hinted at:

On my bus on the way to Porto Alegre, the driver was giving his health and safety talk when someone at the back put their hand up and said in English "I can't understand" (No, it wasn't me). The driver immediately said "English, No."

He could have said "Desculpe."

I was on an escalator behind a local and I could sense he was confused. It reached the top, he got off and froze. With me behind him trying to get off, another Brazilian behind me saw what was happening, laughed and gave me a sympathetic look. The point is that he was confused as to where he wanted to go and in his panic simply froze, he didn't know what to do and didn't think about anyone else.

One time I went to collect my bus ticket, the person behind the counter struggled as the content of my email was in English. He told me he couldn't help for this sole reason. I had been watching him on his computer and saw that all he needed was my destination .... which was on the bit of paper in English where it said Porto Alegre. I told him Porto Alegre, he said OK. He was confused because he had been put into a situation he was not used to.

A number of times when buying food , I wouldn't know the name for something and so would use the trusty finger to point out what I would like, when they then bombarded me with a number of Portuguese questions and realised I didn't understand they gave up. They didn't want to serve me. Yet I was there with my money in their shop wanting to buy.

The point being that they are very uncomfortable with change.

The people want government reform and they are the only ones that can make it happen. The people also have to change. The World Cup was a wonderful opportunity to start this process, but I fear time has been wasted, but I also hope lessons learnt.

Brzil is already a diverse country and one in which it is proud of the mixture of races present and the opportunity it gives to everyone.

Juliana told me about her studies where she achieved 600 marks and didn't qualify for the next year of her course, yet a friend who achieved 400 marks did - because she was black.

This is part of a government policy to acknowledge the debt owed due to enforced slavery. You can see both sides of the argument.

Now in what is a multicultural country which wants to better itself why would you not encourage your best students.

The corruption hinted at in the 60's is still present today. Some have told me that this is the Brazilian way, that nobody gets anything for free that everyone wants their cut.

I don't accept that this is a Brazilian problem. Greed is the problem and that is human nature and seen everywhere.

The person on the street is doing all they can to survive they are entitled to look for their cut.

But those in power need to be properly regulated, and accept this, they are already in a privileged position and should not be abusing it.

There is a lot of wealth in Brazil (remember the 2 year old on the remote control car- BH) but this wealth is in the hands of far too few people.

One worry amongst some Brazilians is that they will win the World Cup, and if that happens the government will tell the people everything is fine we just had a wonderful party. As that is just what Brazilians do to forget their problems.

After Italy v Costa Rica a Brazilian man approached an Italian and asked "Why do you look so sad?" She said "We lost". He replied "But you are in Brazil, where are you going to dance and party tonight?"

On reflection, with all my mishaps this was probably the worst trip I have ever had, but in true Brazilian style it was also the best, and of course I have unfinished business just like all Brazilian projects.

Footnote. Soundtrack, Isolation by Joy Division

Ross Clegg & Soccerphile.com

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