Archive for the ‘General Football’ Category

Euro 2016 Finals #PORFRA – Live Blog

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Euro Final

#PORFRA – Portugal vs. France in the final!

Match Notes

This is the fourth time these teams have met in major tournament competition. The other three matches were semi-final contests, Euro 1984, Euro 2000, and World Cup 2006.

The narrative is all about Cristiano Ronaldo. POR will play a 4-1-3-2, with Nani joining C-Ron on the attack.

FRA will play a 4-4-1-1 with Grioud and Griezmann on top. Payet and Pogba have both had a great tournament in midfield, and three of the back four for France have come through, in spite of Evra being mediocre at best.

Kickoff at 1400EDT

1358EDT – National Anthems sung, teams shake hands, here we go!

1359EDT Renato Sanches (POR) is the youngest player to compete in a Euro final.

1359EDT Referee is Mark Clattenburg (ENG)

01:10 – clean tackle on Payet, despite the home crowd reaction

02:05 – Clattenburg very much letting them play

03:53 – Nani can’t control his shot

05:15 – intense French pressure, very aggressive. Payet doing well.

06:10 – Sissoko is a BEAST so far. Strikers need to settle and deliver what Sissoko and Payet offer.

09:08 – Griezmann solid shot, Patricio makes a great save. Payet-to-Giroud corner, just not there

16:20 – C-ron down a second time, in pain. Always hard to tell just how much this guy’s faking.

20:02 – C-ron back.

21:33 – Sissoko another good run, should’ve settled and/or passed, but they did get the corner

23:14 – C-ron down a third time. Get him out of there. Nani gets the armband, off on a stretcher. Quaresma comes on, Ronaldo out.

28:25 – no, Darke, it’s not that “France has lost their fizz” as much as POR have settled

33:07 – Sissoko! good shot, brings Patricio down to save it.

33:42 – Cedric booked for taking down Pogba.

37:30 – too many touches, POR lucky to come out of that with a corner

40:10 – Sagna gets a touch. Forgot he was even out there.


45+1 – head collision, ouch!

Half Time

47:10 – Sissoko did foul Pepe, but Pepe isn’t selling it as a caution

47:50 – Darke has a point, the officiating has been good. Twellman is also right about reforming the yellow-card-suspension rules

53:36 – Pogba takes the football equivalent of a 3-point NBA shot. Goes high, but puts the POR backs on notice

54:30 – Twellman rips Euro 2016/French security “if you’re getting flares in, something’s wrong” – YES

55:18 – Pogba is the MOTM for FRA so far

57:26 – Payet out, Kingsley Coman on for FRA. Payet gave it his all, time for fresh legs to keep pushing hard.

57:58 – Griezmann’s shot low-percentage, straight to Patricio

63:01 – Props to POR defense, they’ve marginalized the FRA strikers and have kept form on set pieces, like this latest corner

64:55 – Sagna and Evra able to push forward, but they’re awful when they arrive

65:12 – Coman! great cross, Griezmann can’t put it in as the ball goes high

65:57 – Second POR sub Moutinho for Silva

69:29 – POR defense still tight as Griezmann sends a free kick in where there are no blue shirts.

71:40 – Giroud to Coman, where was Olivier on the follow-up???

74:27 – Giroud finally taking good shots! good save by Patricio

76:45 – Giroud can’t believe Griezmann didn’t take that shot. solid position in the box.

77:30 – Grioud out, Gignac in for FRA

78:15 – Sanches out, Eder in for POR

79:17 – Lloris two saves in seconds. Good thing he’s stayed awake.

80:00 – Dumb challenge by Umtiti for FRA

83:17 – Sissoko from 30m! Patricio is there..incredible.

86:35 – Sissoko and Griezmann just aren’t on the same page today.


90+2 – Gignac hits the near post! Sooo close! Griezmann there, but unable to pick up the trash.

Extra Time

94:09 – Quaresma takes a kick, for the first action. These teams are awful right now. Then POR offside on top of it

94:55 – Guerrero booked for being stupid. POR playing poorly so far in extra time

95:20 – Matuidi now being stupid for FRA

97:50 – Carvalho with the professional foul on Coman

99:35 – Good corner by Griezmann, all hands for POR

100:10 – Crowd booing Pogba, but he’s working it for FRA

103:10 – POR ridiculous with the pushing

103:19 – Lloris with a fantastic save on the corner!

105:00 – Switch sides

105:50 – Moutinho isn’t selling a card on that one. POR get a free kick

106:50 – that was Eder who hit the ball! koscienly was unjustly booked.

107:30 – Guerreiro with a great free kick, but Lloris makes a stunning save!

108:30 – Eder scores! Cheating pays off!

110:15 – Gignac could have been awarded a penalty for that. He was held.

114:10 – Pogba in the book. Fair call.




Neither team wanted to win. FRA wanted it less.





Germany vs France – Euro 2016 Semifinal live blog #GERFRA

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France kicks off and here we go!

Interesting that Darke and Twellman think Evra is the weakest link for France.

3:35 – great throwing distribution, doesn’t go anywhere for FRA

6:05 – Neuer, excellent diving save for GER, Griezmann coming hard at Die Mannschaft

12:25 Müller just can’t buy a shot, much less a goal.

26:00 Multiple attempts by Özil to get something going, FRA defense holding. For now.

31:55 GER can’t pick up the garbage!

34:20 Darke makes a point when describing Özil as the “assist king” at Arsenal. Thing is, he’s got nobody to set up, with Müller being so cold

35:30 Cheap fall by Can, GER picks up their first yellow. Legit caution.

36:45 Payet’s free kick best opportunity for FRA so far, but Neuer right on top of it.

38:20 another weak shot for Müller

41:55 Giroud! It was a miracle Höwedes got back to stop him.

42:45 Evra cautioned. Good card

45:30 Schweinsteiger handball – clearly the Referee was signalled by the goal line judge that the GER defender smacked the ball. Replay confirms.

46:46 No, Darke, it’s not hugely debatable. FRA get the goal on a penalty kicked by Griezmann.

Site blew up in the second half!

Giroud sets up Griezmann beautifully, and the shot goes home. Lovely to watch.

Lloris had a couple of good saves, particularly in stoppage time at the end of the match, but the bottom line is that GER really never got started.






Quote of the Weekend


.@HoustonDynamo are my MLS Team


I’ve never chosen sides in Major League Soccer. My firstborn (whom I refer to as LTJG Firstborn on the book of zucker), has been a DC United fan for ten years. On a family vacation to DC in 2009, the highlight of the trip for him was going to a match at RFK. My kiddo, who is now 20, was more like me, never developed an attachment with any of the teams, until the Seattle Sounders moved up from USL to MLS. With Keller on the roster that first season in 2009, he was settled. Now, with Demps and Yedlin, well, it’s reinforced.

That left me. I flirted briefly with the Chicago Fire, back when we had the New Orleans Riverboat Gamblers (later the New Orleans Storm) in the old USL A-League, but my feelings were always half-hearted, sort of like when you like your local AAA-baseball team, but are non-plussed by the club in The Show that your team feeds.

But Dynamo have captured my itnerest. The team doesn’t have any of the USMNT “stars” at the start of this season. Dynamo’s captain, Brad Davis, made the final 23 for Brazil, but did not start. The team acquired DaMarcus Beasley last week, and that’s generating a lot of buzz throughout MLS.

Most importantly for me, Dynamo are the team I’m most likely to actually go see. My travels for work are Monday-thru-Friday, which is the main reason I’ve never developed an attachment to a MLS side, since the matches are usually on Friday or Saturday nights. In baseball, the San Francisco Giants grew on me, too many nights eating in pubs in Silicon Valley. I’m usually home on weekends, which is good for seeing the New Orleans Jesters, but MLS? Not so much. Houston isn’t all that bad a trip, and that’s the plan for now.

So, Vamanos Dynamo! 🙂


.@NOLAJesters Advance in Playoffs!


Jesters advance!


The New Orleans Jesters advance in the NPSL playoffs, defeating the Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves last night, by a margin of 4 goals to 1.

Jesters advance to the second round of playoffs tonight, with the win.

This victory is huge for Jesters – They played Silverbacks Reserves to a 1-1 draw and a 1-3 loss back in May. Now, coming into the playoffs in a do-or-go-home match, they stepped up.

The Jesters face Chattanooga FC tonight, Chattanooga having defeated Nashville, 6 goals to one, in the second playoff game at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga.

In a pre-match interview with, Jesters Coach Kenny Farrell was cautiously optimistic about the team’s chances against Atlanta, and clearly, those expectations were well exceeded. Here’s to hoping they are tonight, as well!

Video of Jesters vs. Silverbacks Reserves



Ballack does well in Brazil for ESPN


Former Germany captain and Chelsea star Michael Ballack is quite the sports analyst. I’m very impressed with his commentary and analysis so far from Brazil.

After Germany won yesterday, Ballack was extremely professional. With a match that was over in the 27th minute, of course, he had lots of time to compose himself for even the half time segment, but still, he wasn’t a homer about it.

Hopefully ESPN expands his role as league play in Europe begins to warm up.

Match Notes – Netherlands vs. Argentina


PRE-MATCH Prediction: Netherlands 2-1 Argentina.

The Dutch won’t be able to completely stop Messi. He’s getting through one. Between RVP, Robben, and the rest of the Oranje, however, they’re good for two.


The match was Holland’s to lose, and, that sums it up.



Match Notes – Brazil vs. Germany


No offense.

Worse yet, no defense. Portugal had C-Ron holding back on almost every ball downfield against the US. Yesterday, David Luiz and Hulk couldn’t be arsed to play defense. Marcelo was a hot mess, all over the field. Germans going unmarked from left to right. Seven goals in that environment? Not a big surprise.

My pre-match prediction was Brazil 1-2 Germany, and that Brazil had to score in the first 30′ to hold the home crowd. By 27′, they were down five.

That’s enough. Onward to the final for the Germans.


Match Notes – Netherlands v. Costa Rica


The Dutch were aggressive, but had no sense of urgency throughout the match. After all, they’ve got Robben and Van Perse. From beginning to end, Arjen Robben attacked. And attacked. He created opportunities that the Ticos shut down. Every single time. Costa Rica had a few opportunities, with youngster Joel Campbell creating several of them. (It’s hard to call Campbell an “Arsenal man,” even though the side owns him, since he’s never played for them, having been loaned out to several clubs. We’ll see if Wenger brings him to Emirates this year.)h

Dutch attack, Navas saves. Dutch attack, the back line clears. Van Persie gets a ball, but the Ticos stepped up on him, offside. And again. Then Lens. Back to RVP. Robben still feeding balls in via corner kicks and crosses, only for them to be punched out or to have a Tico step up and clear.

Still, 60′ no urgency among the Dutch. 70′, still the same. Costa Rica began to run out of gas. Ruiz made a few breaks, only to get chopped down by an incredibly tough defense.

And so it went, up to 90′ and stoppage. Then 105′ and stoppage. At 111′, Dutch striker Klass Jan Huntelaar entered play. He couldn’t repeat the magic he created against Mexico. Then, at 120′, just before stoppage after the second extra time period, Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen was replaced by his backup, Tim Krul. Stoppage runs out and the match goes to kicks from the penalty spot.

But here’s the thing. Instead of having their starting goalkeeper, who’s played 120′ on the pitch, the Dutch put in a ringer, a specialist. Barring a major catastrophe, a backup keeper warms the bench. Not just for a single match, but for the entire tournament. Even when you’re beating the crap out of a team, you leave in the keeper, so they can get the “clean sheet,” the shutout. For kicks, though, is a guy who’s given it all for regulation plus extra time a good idea?

Not when you’ve got a specialist.

In the Women’s World Cup Final, 2011, Japan’s keeper, Ayumi Kaihori, blocked THREE kicks by USA players. All I could think while watching her performance was, “She’s studied them. She’s watched a lot of tape.” She knew where the Americans would kick. So did Krul.

And the Dutch go on to take on Argentina.

Match notes, Argentina v Belgium #ARGvBEL


The takeaway from this match is simple: Argentina scored because Belgium worried too much about Messi. After that, Belgium couldn’t make the most of a lot of opportunities. Argentina didn’t park the bus, but they played a very deliberate game after the goal. Messi still went after the ball and the net, when given the chance.

Had Belgium been in a “group of death,” it’s quite possible they would not have even made the knockout stage.