Today I bring you another guest blog written for World Football Commentaries, an article that centres around the recent El Clasico, or Barcelona vs. Real Madrid for the uninitiated. The match was billed as the showdown between the world’s two best players, with Messi and Ronaldo facing off against one another, and after Barca’s emphatic 5-0 win, Messi is being hailed as the genius who made it happen. But when asking who is the best player in the world, are we asking the wrong question? I think so.
As an England fan during the summer’s World Cup in South Africa, one of my few consolations while watching Capello’s ment falter quite completely, was that at least we weren’t the laughing-stock of world football. That honour went, unanimously, to France. Their problems at the tournament were well documented: with player revolt, the sending home of Niclas Anelka and a boycott of training in protest from the remainder of the squad.
Coupled with their abject performances on the field of play which resulted in their failing to win a match and coming bottom of their group, 2010 wasn’t a roaring success. One could argue that this was the player’s fault – they’re a talented bunch, so maybe their attitude was questionable. That is certainly what the FFA seem to believe, and have punished them accordingly – with Anelka and three other players handed international bans. Yet this simply demonstrates, at least as far as I am concerned, that the problem is the FFA themselves.
Now that Everton have finished 8th in the Premier League and will not be playing Europa League football next season I can comment, without accusations of bias, on the decision to prevent Portsmouth from being allowed to compete in Europe despite reaching the Cup Final. The decision means that whoever finishes 7th in the Premier League will take that Europa spot instead of the South Coast club and I have to applaud the FA’s decision on that front.
I’ve got nothing against Portsmouth, despite previous posts to this website where I’ve suggested that it would be good for them to be relegated (so as to relieve themselves of the mercenary remnants of Redknapp’s reign and start over). But as a club, I’m ambivalent towards Portsmouth, I certainly don’t want them to go bust but I shan’t miss watching them play. I’m also full of admiration for the job that Avram Grant has done since taking over, but despite his dignified slowing of their inevitable free fall, they don’t deserve a European adventure next season.
I had initially planned to make some predictions before the first legs of these playoff matches at the weekend, but what with my busy schedule I didn’t have chance to. Intriguingly though, each and every tie is delicately poised and could easily go either way when all is said and done later on tonight. Playoffs are always hard to call, they’re essentially like Cup Finals and form goes out the window but I had NZ down to beat Bahrain by one goal (though I’ll admit, I’d picked 2-1) so let’s see what I can do…
European Qualifying Playoffs
Bosnia-Hercegovina vs. Portugal (agg. 0-1)
Portugal were certainly the favourites going into this playoff tie despite a stuttering qualification campaign that saw them limp into second place, they have enough quality in their side to be a real force if they make it to the World Cup. Bosnia are looking to make it to their first World Cup and as is so often the case with nations recently affected by civil war, the national side carries the hopes of the nation with them. They’re also quite technically gifted though and if the home fans can provide a threatening atmosphere they’ll trouble a fragile Portuguese outfit. I think Portugal will probably get a crucial away goal though and make it to South Africa.
Prediction: 1-1 (agg. 1-2).
So AC Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani has assured the world that the loan deal to take David Beckham back to the red half of the San Siro in January is “100% done” and “The only thing missing is the signatures” which simultaneously confirms that he’s lying (let’s face it, unless it’s signed and sealed, it isn’t 100% done) and that David Beckham will almost certainly be part of England’s World Cup squad in South Africa next year.
He’s proven popular as a squad member during Fabio Capello’s time in charge of the three lions but because of the Italian’s reluctance to take a player plying his trade in the sub-European standard MLS to a World Cup there was still a chance that Beckham could miss out. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that a move to Milan was the only way that Beckham could give himself a really good chance of being included – a much talked about Premier League return could actually have harmed his chances.
Firstly, apologies for my slightly slack posting recently – I’ve been compiling an application to a postgrad journalism course and it’s been a lot of work. Gone are the days of just filling in a form you know, but I’m nearly there with it now so will be returning to regular posts ASAP (don’t mention exams though, yeah?).
Secondly, today’s post is as much for my own benefit as for yours. There are few things that can make me thoroughly enjoy the prospect of getting out of bed before six o’clock on a Friday morning, but one of them is the prospect of watching Everton playing in Europe. As those of you who’ve seen the score (which, for reasons of self-preservation I won’t repeat) will know, it wasn’t really worth it. Such a defeat is always demoralising and makes you feel like the world has just ended.