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Barcelona looked UNINSPIRED if you ask me. They didn't play with much continuity at all. I insist that the constant bickering backstage and the Ronaldinho issue is really causing this squad to lose some motivation. Overall, I still rate them as the best in La Liga based on the talent at Rijkaard's disposal. The backline had its problems, though. Del Moral and Uche wreaked havoc on the defense, and Puyol was repeatedly caught OUT OF POSITION time and time again. The defense and midfield was like a bermuda triangle. Nobody marshalled the lines, and Barca could not hold its formation to save its life. Getafe's defense really closed down on the attackers. I can't really say that Ronaldinho, Henry, or Messi really looked dangerous. There some moments of spark but nothing really followed through. I expect a rebound for Barca, honestly. But their backline will be constantly tested this year by teams that have very quick attackers.

Valencia put on a very entertaining show. But there are still a few problems. Koeman's influence was evident. The team was more attack minded, and showed more intensity on defense, winning loose balls and turning them into scoring chances. Villa was BRILLIANT!!.. Back to form it seems. The 2 real chances he got on goal he finished them both with class and style. His 2nd goal that he scored is one of the top goals of the season in European football. A really special player that is a HUGE difference maker much like Ronaldinho is to Barcelona. David Silva was great. He had 2 assists and definitely showed that world class form that had people buzzing about him in the first place. He's still a poor crosser and blows too many easy chances on goal but he too is a special talent. Vicente played decently in the 2nd half and made some dangerous looking runs but got no real chances. Overall, Valencia still lacks creativity in the middle. This where a player like Van der Vaart would help out ALOT, to free up Joaquin and Vicente on the wings, and Villa up front. The backline is still a little shaky, and Hildebrand had to make some saves. Hopefully this is the beginning of a turnaround.

Liverpool didn't look good again, but they are getting the results and grinding out these wins. Torres was the savior and the moment he came on he made a huge difference. The are REALLY MISSING Xabi Alonso. He's the difference maker for that team. Its his intensity on defense and his guided missle passes up the middle that really open up Liverpool's attack. They need him back SO BADLY or this season will start to go down badly for them. The squad is incredibly talented but without that difference maker of a player on the pitch, things change. It would be like Arsenal without Fabregas. Like Barca without Deco, as we can all see. A great box to box midfielder controls so much and brings such a presence to the attack that it really does make a huge difference I feel.
and the NEW
Well Valencia are only 4 off the pace, so they are still in the hunt no matter how poorly they have been playing! If Koeman can turn them around, they definately have the talent to challenge for the title! Especially with Barca and Real both looking shaky! Villa no doubt though is that spark in the team that can change the game in an instant!

Definately teams with pace phase Barca and Getafe have a LOT of pace! Puyol should play in the middle and that is that, no way he should play on the right when they have world class right backs! What is the Ronaldinho issue you are talking about? That he is being subbed all the time? I agree if thats the issue your talking about, he does not look happy when he keeps coming off and I honestly dont think a player like that should be! He is equal to any talent in the world and easily the best just a couple of years back, he could play a whole game for any other team in the world! I mean really, bringing on kids like Dos Santos for Ronaldinho when Barca is 1-0 down? Is Rijkaard serious? I am starting to regain my thoughts of last season, Rijkaard has to go! Ah well, a break in action now, onto qualifiers again!

Yeh, Alonso is key for the team, however I just think Liverpool need to pick up the intensity! Not to mention, Benitez needs to stop with this rotation policy! His players never appear totally confident of where their runners will be because they are not used to playing with eachother! You buy Torres for that much and then play a guy like Voronin or Kuyt instead of him some games! These guys are good, solid strikers who work hard, but they are not in the league of Torres!

Man United looked shaky at first, but trust Ronaldo to come to their rescue! The man is brilliant! Anderson is playing well box to box also, with great vision, passing and he has even started bringing out a few tricks!

On the Henry subject, watching him struggle to outrun defenders, makes me wonder how much pace he has lost! I remember just last season when he kicked it from half way against Liverpool, ran past one defender, then beat Carragher and scored! He cant have lost that much in just several months! Perhaps La Liga players are slightly faster than in the Premier League.....

Watching Porto Vs Liverpool certainly made these Spanish leagues appear that way! They made Liverpool look like slugs!

Time to watch this Cahill goal I keep hearing about!

I think its pretty clear to us both that Ronaldinho being subbed early all the time like he has been lately is definitely affecting the whole team. To the point where you have his teammates speaking to the media saying "Ronaldinho doesn't mind being on the bench." Seriously, the players don't think the fans are that naive, right??... Rijkaard is making excuses too and not looking at himself. Now he's saying that he's considering moving the team to a 4-4-2 formation. Is Ronnie gonna ride the bench again for this one??... I could see this formation change as a strategic move depending on what teams they play, but changing a formation totally is not the way to bring about a change. I think the team needs Deco, for starters. He shows intensity on defense, winning loose balls, and draws the attention of the defenders by dribbling towards them and spotting the goal scorers like Ronaldinho and Leo Messi on the run. With Deco out, defenders mark tighter on these 2 players and its just too hard to get something going in those situations. Dos Santos is a PROSPECT. No way should he be getting put into a match when the game is still in reach, being down only 1-0. I think you pointed out earlier that Barca would have to grind out some of these wins and its appearing true with SOME of these matches. Good thing we have the break the now. I think Samuel Eto'o is due back when the Spanish League resumes. Thierry Henry does have 5 goals in the domestic campaign I believe, but he hasn't quite adapted to the system of Rijkaard. I think he works well with Leo Messi. They've shown some continuity but I sometimes think that they at times over due it on the 1-2 passes. Ronnie and Henry I think need to get on the training ground and spend more time together on getting a feel for each other's tendencies.

Valencia can benefit from the break too. Villa, Joaquin, Albelda, Silva, and a few others are away on international duties(Spain have tough matches against Sweden and North Ireland). Koeman can take this time to implement more of what he wants. He's very excited about the talent level at his disposal. As the transfer window nears, hopefully he can bring in another defender. Good box to box midfielders are hard to find. And they're all VERY EXPENSIVE. Hopefully Edu can regain his full fitness soon for he's been out since November of 2006 with a knee injury. Fernandes has shown some progress in the last couple of matches he's played and hopefully he can be further developed by Ronald Koeman, along with the likes of Sunny, another talented prospect. Vicente has recovered nicely and appears more confident every match. At long last the club is healthy. What they need now is getting used to one another again.

Man United looked shaky to me but Ronaldo no doubt saved them 3 points. World class player without a doubt. Started slow this season along with the team but has really put his form together. Anderson is another good box to box midfielder who contributes in both ends of the park. His presence in the midfield is so key to the team winning that battle to allow things to open up for Ronaldo, Rooney, and Tevez. That whole squad is immensley talented despite being rather thin at the backline. But not too many teams have really tested them at the back this season. Arsenal recently did but Man United's own talent allowed them to get a draw out of that match.

Benitez is notorious for his rotations. While at Valencia he did the same things. He believes it keeps the players fresh. The team is still dangerous and a threat to be in it till the end. But the constant rotation works only during certain stretches. The team does need a little more rhythm and continuity and only by playing together can that be achieved.
QUOTE(PR316 @ Nov 12 2007, 09:40 AM) [snapback]364854[/snapback]
Man United looked shaky to me but Ronaldo no doubt saved them 3 points. World class player without a doubt. Started slow this season along with the team but has really put his form together. Anderson is another good box to box midfielder who contributes in both ends of the park. His presence in the midfield is so key to the team winning that battle to allow things to open up for Ronaldo, Rooney, and Tevez. That whole squad is immensley talented despite being rather thin at the backline. But not too many teams have really tested them at the back this season. Arsenal recently did but Man United's own talent allowed them to get a draw out of that match.

I don't see how you can suggest United are thin defensively. Our first choice back four is Neville (currently injured), Ferdinand, Vidic and Evra (best left back in the world). John O Shea can fill in at left and right back, Wes Brown hasn't let anyone down at right back all season and is an even better centre back, Owen Hargreaves (although not yet for United) has played right back for England and Bayern Munich, Gerard Pique, although still learning, can play right back and centre back, Jonny Evans is still raw but is good enough against the lesser teams as he proved in being influential to Sunderlands promotion last season and Danny Simpson (right back) along with Mikeal Silvestre (left back) all dispel the theory we are thin at the back. Plus we have signed the two Brazilian twins (left back and right back) who join for next season.

Talent wise, coupled with depth of squad, Ferguson claims them to be the best squad he has had in his 21 years in charge. Times are good. The Premiership title will be staying at Old Trafford.
^^^ I definitely see the title staying at Old Trafford as well, with Arsenal challenging for it all the way. I thought that possibly Chelsea and Liverpool would challenge them and it remains to be seen still, but its not looking it so far.

I think Arsenal outplayed them a couple of weeks two weeks ago, though. But that was at the Emirates and Arsenal have been rather injury prone so they may not hold up throughout the season.
and the NEW
Will definatley be interesting to see what Rijkaard does! Though, Ronnie is the centre of the team, even Puyol says this, he calls Ronnie "the flagship"! So, Ronnie not happy would HUGELY influence the teams mood! His presence in the dressing room and his playing Samba before matches is said to really relax many of the players and keep them in a calm but competitive mood! Ronnie is also said to be ULTRA competitive, as much as he seems relaxed, so having him out of favour and in a clash with Rijkaard would create a HUGE rift in the team!

When Eto'o comes back, its going to make a huge difference, he has the pace and makes the runs to get onto all of Ronnies through balls, not to mention both Iniesta and especially Xavi have started playing more balls straight up the throat this season! 4-4-2 would be interesting, though no idea where Ronnie would sit! Perhaps infront of Toure as a centre attacking mid. Depends if they play the midfield 4 flat or in a cross formation.

Benitez theory for rotations worked great at Valencia, but Im still not a fan! I think Liverpool has great talent, but other than in Europe, Benitez can not convert this to consistancy!

Fernandes for Valencia can play box to box, Ive seen him do it numerous times. He has a powerful shot and is very good defensively. I think in a couple of years if Koeman likes him and developes him, he could be a very good force in the centre mids with someone creative alongside him! You have fast wingers in Joaquin and Vicente and Villa upfront, you then have a great midfield and attack. But I agree, something has to be done about that defence! Unusual for Valencia!

Saw Real Madrid also, a lot of goals! Great to see Robinho starting now! He opens up the game and can be a decisive player, which every team needs and which Real Madrid currently lacks!

I tend to agree, I think the Man United defence is a bit thin. Evra the best left back in the world, I think Abidal would argue that, afterall, Abidal is the first choice left back for the French squad, no? Simpson has barely played, Hargreaves is by far his best in centre mid and I cant say I really like Brown, Silvestre or Oshea (Dont get me wrong, these guys are good, relatively solid, but I beleive lack on the ball. I would much rather have Heinze back there as replacement, even though he was rather slow). Pique and Evans, man, they are as untested as they come, much the same as Simpson! Was it the FA Cup Man U got knocked out of early on, with a second string defence which looked terrible? I know I watched one game of theirs this season where that was the scenario!

Their best four, with Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic and Evra are great though! They do have a lot of players signed as defenders, but most are not world class, at least for me!

Barca have guys like Milito, Puyol and Thuram in the centres (all play for World Class countries) with Abidal and Zambrotta down the flanks (again world class players on world class teams). Then you have cover in Oleguer and Sylvinho. Both attacking flankers who are very good on the ball, though not the best defensively. They even sold Belletti who now starts at Chelsea. That is what I call depth at the back, too bad Rijkaard cant make the defence as solid as the players are! Though, Barca last season I beleive still boasted the best defence in the league and will probably equal that feat again this season! Though again, that is more to do with midfield control than the defence themselves!
The question that will be asked is once Eto'o comes back, how long will it take for him to hit form?... He had some moments after coming back from his injury last season where he showed brilliance but there were times that he didn't appear to have his rhythm and timing. Definitely not in stride. With that said, he still has a solid place in this club but IMO he plays much better as a lone center striker as opposed to a left foward. Some strikers can play as a left forward just as well as they can play as lone strikers, but Eto'o I think is one of those that plays well in the center only. Plus it suits him as then he's in more a goal getter role with options to either pass or shoot himself. Henry when on form at least, can play both on the left and as a lone striker. But that makes Ronnie have to move into the center where he can play as effectively as he can on the left IMO, but the players just haven't seemed comfortable this season, not just Henry. Thierry is a bit slower I think and he's become more and more injury prone as of late. But then again, Eto'o has been very injury prone lately and they aren't little injuries, they're injuries that have kept him out long term. Lets hope he recovers well and stays with the squad for a long time.

Fernandes has lots of potential and he can be the replacement for Albelda. And once Edu gets fit, then Baraja will be confined to the bench. That will pretty much taker care of our defensive midfield problems. Raul Albiol has been benched lately by Koeman and thats because he's seen what many of us have seen with Albiol's ball watching this season. Hopefully Albiol gets developed as well because he can be world class. Helguera is the weak link. He can score off headers but he gets burned by every striker he faces. Another attacking player like Van der Vaart would give us so many options too as far as formations and tactics for matches. So hopefully things will gell from there.

Euro 2008 qualifiers should be very good
and the NEW
Yeh, Eto'o definately plays better as a central striker. He did not hit form last season when he came back, but look at his stats for matches played and they are still better if not equal to any striker in the world last season! That says something right there! He is just so direct! I think he could play with Henry, Henry sitting slightly behind him, feeding him balls. Though, Henry has a lot of improvement to make, his goals so far this season have been poachers goals, and Henry was never just a poacher!

Ronnie I feel does his best work down the left. Sometimes in the middle, he just disappears for an entire game, on the other hand when he is on the left, he is always out there in space creating some kind of trouble! Not to mention, he does not spend the whole game on the left, he drifts into the centre throughout! Though, would be impossible to play the quartet all at once, would only leave Deco and probably Toure back there in the midfield roles. Whilst Messi is good coming back, he does not enjoy it naturally, so I cant see him helping out at the back all game long, and nor should he, his best work comes at the scoring end of the park!

Though, Barca has so many players they could try all kinds of formations! Thats upto Rijkaard, so hopefully he gets it right!

Yeh, Koeman has some young players he can develop, lets hope he can do as good job as Wenger and Ferguson do with their youngsters! Barca seems to just sell their best talent off early!

Euro Qualifiers will be very interesting, the moment of truth for England and the outcomes for Italy, France should be interesting also!

South American WC qualifiers also!

I think that even when not in full form, Eto'o will always be such a threat on goal due to his searing pace and workrate(Like Villa and Rooney, he seemingly never stops running). Of course we have to factor in that he has Ronaldinho, Messi, Deco, Xavi, and Iniesta getting him the ball. With all those things going for Eto'o, he can afford to not be at his best at times and still be effective. He missed some shots last season though, that he probably should have made. So of course its a matter of how long it takes him to get back into the swing once he's back. The organization and the team were supposedly "very concerned" over his fitness as we spoke about at the beginning of the season, feeling that Eto'o somehow was not properly prepared for the grueling competitions.

Rijkaard is rumored to have one month left to keep his job, if his team doesn't produce "satifactory" results in the next 5 games which are...

25/11 Barcelona - Recreativo
02/12 Espanyol - Barcelona
09/12 Barcelona - Deportivo
16/12 Valencia - Barcelona
23/12 Barcelona - Real Madrid

The higher ups at the club are said to be just about "fed up" with the team's supposed "poor form." All the matches are winnable IMO. Espanyol, you guys need to watch out for. They're a very fast attacking team that loves feed through balls up the middle for Tamudo and Luis Garcia. Their defense has improved some this season as well and they especially like to put on a show at home.

Valencia are not as strong as they were last year at the moment, and the strong defense they had to keep your attackers out is not the wall it used to be. Plus, Valencia are playing in a more open style to take pressure off the defense so you guys can exploit some holes there. The match is at La Mestalla, and Valencia seems always be motivated to play you guys, and their play up the wings always troubles Barca, and as we all know, David Villa is Victor Valdes worst nightmare. But its definitely a match you guys can win.

Real Madrid is uneven. Don't be fooled by their away win at Valencia. The club was going through the management change, and there was just no desire and no heart/character within them that night. Right after that match, Real was humiliated by Sevilla, couldn't even score against Olympiacos in the CL, and barely got by Mallorca at HOME nonetheless.

Deportivo and Recreativo you guys shouldn't have to worry about I don't think. Both teams however play in that really negative style with roughhouse tactics and tight, tight, marking. They lack much attack threat so they compensate that with their stiff defense.

Will be worth keeping an eye on thats for sure. Lionel Messi made some interesting comments though. Check this.

"We lacked bite and playing football is not all you need when playing away from home. Playing away for us has become more and more difficult.

"Teams are suddenly defending in numbers and then trying to hit us on the counter-attack and they look to hurt us by nullifying our creative side.

"At Camp Nou they do not do that as they show us more respect as the pitch is bigger and we have 90,000 fans behind us.

"But away from home, when the other team is feeling more confident, if they score, like Getafe did, then they run all over you."

"I agree with Puyol that we need to be mentally prepared and be a lot more aggressive, both collectively and individually. Playing good football is no longer enough,"

"In away games teams come at us from the first moment and we need something more to deal with this and to play with the same attitude that they have.

It sounds like Messi is suggesting that Barca just aren't mean enough at the moment. To me its just a case of teams marking them alot tighter than usual due to the talent on the team.
QUOTE(and the NEW @ Nov 12 2007, 05:59 PM) [snapback]364930[/snapback]
I tend to agree, I think the Man United defence is a bit thin. Evra the best left back in the world, I think Abidal would argue that, afterall, Abidal is the first choice left back for the French squad, no? Simpson has barely played, Hargreaves is by far his best in centre mid and I cant say I really like Brown, Silvestre or Oshea (Dont get me wrong, these guys are good, relatively solid, but I beleive lack on the ball. I would much rather have Heinze back there as replacement, even though he was rather slow). Pique and Evans, man, they are as untested as they come, much the same as Simpson! Was it the FA Cup Man U got knocked out of early on, with a second string defence which looked terrible? I know I watched one game of theirs this season where that was the scenario!

Their best four, with Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic and Evra are great though! They do have a lot of players signed as defenders, but most are not world class, at least for me!

Man United have a proud tradition in the FA cup and never field a second string team. You are thinking of the shambolic performance in the Carling cup where everyone involved let the team much so that some of them will never play for the club again. Evra is better offensivley than Abidal and as a quartet United's defence is superior to Barcelona. If United were to lose 3 of the first choice back four they would inevitably struggle at the back but there isn't a team in the world who wouldn't. Danny Simpson is young and is still learning but the signs so far are positive and he hasn't let the team down. The same goes for Pique who played in 20 matches for Real Zaragoza whilst on loan last season and has since been linked with a move to Atletico Madrid.
and the NEW

I beleive if Man U lost Vidic OR Ferdinand, they would be in big trouble. Barca has cover for Puyol and Milito in Thuram. Marquez can still play well in centre backs also, as long as he is there with Milito and not Puyol (who has erratic positioning which throws out Marquez). Either way, all 4 of them are rated world class. Evra is probably better going forward, though Abidal is still very good at it! And Abidal is as solid as they come at the back! I think both are pretty equal.

Man United sure have some defenders, but many are not world class (just prospects) and the centre backs is where my worry lies. They really rely on Vidic and Ferdinand being fit. No solid cover if one sustains a long-term injury!

As for the Quartet, I would argue having Abidal, Puyol, Milito and Zambrotta is better than Evra (who is second string to Abidal in the French squad), Ferdinand (equal in stature to Puyol), Vidic (equal to Milito) and Neville (worse than Zambrotta I beleive). Fully fit this season, the Barca defence has looked solid as they can get! Only difference is Man U usually play two holding mid positions (well at least box to box centre mids), where Barca only play two if both Toure and Deco are on.

PR, yeh I read those comments from Messi. The Barca website is loaded with comments from all the players along similar lines! They are all saying they have to play rougher and harder in away matches! No doubt though, Barca is recognised as the "best" squad in the world still, with the talent they have at their disposal, and for this reason, teams always get up for them! Teams are a LOT more defensive with them this season! Just loading their own half the same as Italy does! Really frustrating but Barca must find a way to overcome this!

LaPorta and Messi came out yesterday defending Rijkaard! And LaPorta seems to be the most powerful man at the club! So as long as he is friends with Rijkaard (remember LaPorta defended Rijkaard at first when everyone else wanted him gone), then I think Rijkaard will have more than a month. Though if a month is it, those fixtures are interesting! Barca always has problems with Espanyol (as you know, pace is their undoing), and Valencia and Real Madrid are always tough! For some reason Real is playing a lot like Chelsea did over the past few seasons, managing to get the job done week in and week out! With very few slip ups! Though not as good defence!

An interesting time for the Barca squad, as it is for the Valencia squad. While Maxys team, Man United are just cruising! They look a very big threat in Europe and the Premiership this season! And we all know Ferguson would LOVE to add a second Champions League to his trophy cabinet!
Man United and Arsenal are the two horses in the lead at the moment, riding neck and neck with maybe Arsenal having a slight edge AT THE MOMENT... Things change so fast in football its crazy. One week a team can look like the best in the world, and then the next look like crap.

Barcelona and Valencia despite the "problems" are still towards the top of their table. Messi once again came public to defend Rijkaard telling the media to "stop antagonizing him" and to just let him work. Ultimately, nobody knows what the organization is thinking. And if Rijkaard were to get sacked, who would YOU want to replace him, ATN??... The name that keeps coming up is Jose Mourinho. I mean, I know that Barca are not playing to their potential and all the discussion of "poor form" and "ugly football" in some past games but is it THAT bad??... Surely the squad has the talent to turn things around. Injury has hit you guys hard too in particular Samuel Eto'o who has just not been the same since the knee injury last year. And while I think you guys have coverage for him, only Thierry Henry is what I consider to be an out and out striker their along with Eto'o. I can honestly see a change to a 4-4-2 to try and freshen things up.

Valencia are in a moment of change, I think. The team has a few players that are getting old and need to be confined to the bench. The youngsters like Villa, Joaquin, Vicente, Silva, Fernandes, and Albiol are great players to build a team on. But Albelda and Baraja are too injury prone, and they don't control the midfield well anymore. Every now and then they'll show intensity and win some loose balls and turn them into great counter attacks but they are not really creative players. Edu really needs to get fit because he can play box to box very well, has a decent shot, and can pass well up the middle. He's just too injury prone too. On, Fernando Morientes commented about Ronald Koeman's style compared to that of Flores. Morientes pointed out that the biggest difference is that while Koeman wants EVERYBODY to play defense, he is mostly an ATTACKING FOOTBALL manager who believes in dictating the pace of a match, playing more on the ball and keeping posession as opposed to just laying back all day in your own half stacking the box looking for the counter every time. That style of football is what the Valencianistas have long been calling for and with the type of players that we have along with their temperament, its really what we should be doing. Don't think we'll win the league but a 3rd place spot is possible.
and the NEW
Yeh, most good coaches beleive that same mentality as Koeman! AC Milan looks for the similar style, so does Barca, Arsenal, these are the ones who really look to keep possession, limiting the oppositions time on the ball. Man United does this also. You always need great technical players who can play with a small amount of space and with a great touch. Valencia definately has the capacity to do this. This same plan is what Marco Van Basten has been trying to implement with Holland since he first took over!

Yeh, Barca are limited on out and out strikers, really only have the two of them. Eider is more of a support striker and Bojan is still very very green! Not sure how he is getting so much time when he is still way more underdeveloped than Eider!

I would really like to see the man at the Portuguese national side helm transfer over to club coaching! I think he is one of the best in the world, mixes defence very well with attack and he has history with Ronaldinho as he comes from Porto Alegra too I beleive, where they play with a good structure, work hard in defence, and mix that with the attacking qualities Barca have and you get a great squad! I must admit, I HATE Jose Mourinho, so I hope he stays out of it! Rijkaard still has a few chances left, they could easily turn it around, maybe get rid of him in the Christmas break if he is still lagging, that will give them time to sign a new top notch coach! Though there arent many out there, except the real defensive ones!
^^^ I think the last match Valencia had is the beginning of the transition. In reality, it will take a little time. But despite having some problems, the team was very much an attacking squad vs Murcia. The biggest difference was that AHEAD 3-0, Valencia NEVER stopped putting pressure on the ball. With Quique Sanchez Flores, they never did this. So while in the early stages, I definitely liked what I saw in the team's approach. Fans at La Mestalla were finally entertained this season and they deserve it. Of course having David Villa back was a huge plus for them with his 2 goals, but the team in general looks more refreshed and showed an intensity on defense they will need. So far, I like Koeman as a manager and the fact that he wants to make Rafael Van der Vaart his first major signing makes me like him even more.

Barca has a few guys who can play as support strikers but only two pure strikers. Bojan is very raw, but so is Giovani Dos Santos, man. Yes he will be something special one day I think, but he is not ready for the amount of minutes he has been played, regardless of a supposed "Ronaldinho crisis."

Scolari would be an ideal replacement for Rijkaard but I doubt it would happen NOW. He is committed to Euro 2008 at the very least I think. But he has a nice blend of defence and attack all in a good balance which Rijkaard seems to not have yet figured out IMO. Jose Mourinho would solve your defensive woes and it seems most Barca fans do want him. The question is how much would he change up the team???... One guy I would not want to see coaching you guys is Fabio Capello. Boring, ugly football, a controversial figure, and not exactly a "Barcelona style" coach if you know what I mean.

I will say this, if Rijkaard loses to both Deportivo and Recreativo, I would not least blame you for calling for his resignation. That would be ridiculous, at home or away. In truth, Barca should win at the very least, 4 out of those upcoming 5 fixtures. Maybe they might stumble against either Real Madrid or Valencia(Like they have the past 2 seasons), but thats forgivable. But he should win at least 4 of them IMO or else, time to go.
and the NEW
Yeh, I think he should win 4 out of them, though 3 and a couple of draws would be ok also. Definately not loose 2 of them, and there is the possibility they could loose 3, but doubt that.

Would be good to see Mourinho fix up the defensive woes! Though, its funny Ronnie is in a crisis, he has similar stats at this point of the season in the domestic league as any of the other top performers (Fabregas, Messi, Kaka, Ronaldo, though Ronaldinhos are even better than Ronaldos I beleive), whilst in the Champions League, while he has not done much statistic wise, he has been heavily involved in a few goals. Both against Rangers were more to do with Ronaldinho than the actual scorer. His ball to Messi opened the whole thing up for Henry to slide in on it, and then he made the run and the shot to allow Messi a rebound tap in. He is not at his best, but even then, he is still equaling most of the other "best players in the world" so far!

Interesting times in most teams!

BIG games coming up in the next week for France, Italy, England, Scotland and Russia especially! Would be crazy if two of the big guns miss out, though I wouldnt mind if it was Italy! Hopefully Scotland can beat them!

I saw the Valencia goals also, Villa has quick reflexes huh! Pounces on those loose balls! Though I still think they should go for Riquelme before Van Der Vaart IMO, or even get both! I love watching Juan Roman play, he is one of the best passers with the best vision in the game! Not to mention, he can take some great free kicks! Other than the ability to run at defenders and beat them, he is not so different from Ronaldinho!
Villa's goals, particularly his 2nd one was nice. Definitely a top finisher like Van Nistlerooy.

I would welcome Riquelme honestly, but I'm having trouble seeing Villareal sell him to us. It would be like Espanyol selling you guys De La Pena. Riquelme has many dimensions to his game, and at 29 is still a great player. I honestly would love to see him come here but its hard for me to visualize it. I don't think Pellegrini would be too thrilled to ship Riquelme to Valencia and have him stick it to his former club and coach twice a season.

Van der Vaart would be the more ideal signing because of...

A- His familiarity with Koeman from his younger days.

B- His dream move is to Valencia due to his family living in the area.

C- He's good friends with Villa I hear.

Didn't Ronnie recently score a brace???... And I know that at Barca nobody assists more goals... Only Fabregas is clearly having a better year with 8 goals thus far and I think he has like 6 assists. And of course lets not overlook the huge contribution of Fabregas on defense. But most of the other players are on around the same level.

Thats why I always hate listening to that "best player in the world" idea because in all seriousness, so many of these guys play different positions and have different responsibilities to their teams.

I think we can compare players by POSITION, now.. Strikers like Ibrahimovic, Villa, Eto'o, Torres, Henry, Rooney, and Ronaldo are all very similar in how they get their stats with a high level of goals and assists, relying on pace, technical skills, workrate, and finishing prowess. Some are better than others in certain areas but the comparisons there are realistic. You have others that are mainly target men like Drogba, Van Nistlerooy, Kanoute, Milito, Morientes, Klose, and Carew. Of this group, Diego Milito is a little bit of both a target man and creator. But for the most part, these guys can be compared because all are big, strong strikers that are good at headers and are masters at being in perfect position to score.

Attacking midfielders like Ronaldinho, Van der Vaart, Riquelme, Messi, Kaka, Silva, and Aimar are similar style players. They can be compared. Ronnie is probably the most versatile of the group with his set pieces, and ability to drift from the left into the center, or possibly into the role of a supporting striker. But playing style and responsibilities amongst these men are virtually all the same.

Box to box midfielders like Fabregas, Gerrard, Viera, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, and Deco are all comparable. These players I find to be the most expensive players to have on a team due to them being hard to find. All have very similar responsibilities and while some are better than others at some things, are realistic comparisons. Precision passes, shooting, intensity on defense/tackling, keeping possesion, and keeping the midfield organized and in position. All those guys share similar responsibilities.

Wingers like Cristiano Ronaldo, Vicente, Joaquin, Giggs, Malouda, Navas, Giggs, Figo, Robben, and Quaresma are out and out wingers. Some are more versatile though, like Ronaldo for instance, can hug the touch line, but can also drift into the center. But all have comparable skills and are absolutely LOADED with speed on the dribble, and an ability to cross dangerous balls into the area.

Anyway, I'm sure you get the point. Lots of times, players are a bit more versatile than others and have good set pieces and good defense to their games. I think its only fair because how do we compare a winger like Ronaldo to a player like Kaka who really plays in a different postion...

I too am hoping that Italy gets CRUSHED... LOL!!!... Spain DESPERATELY need these wins against Northern Ireland and Sweden, the two teams that beat them last year on away fixtures. Spain should win at home against these guys now but they need to be at their best. Torres has been left out the squad, and there apparentely is some debate about whether Fabregas will play. I hope he does honestly because thats Villa's best shot and scoring some goals. Silva will play but he's not 100% yet. Xabi Alonso is back. So I hope it goes well.

and the NEW
Great breakdown of player positions PR, as far as the midfielders and attack, I totally agree! These attacking midfielders are really the playmakers and as opposed to you saying the box to box midfielders are the most expensive, I think the playmakers are a far harder quality to get hold of and way more expensive as far as transfer fees. They just have that creativity about them which many others do not have.

Spain V Sweden will be very important and will be interesting to watch them play against Zlatan! Definately good to see them back to fitness though, with more options available in the midfield (though they have a lot of midfielders, from Fabregas, Xav, Iniesta, Alonso). Villa upfront should help, wonder if he will play with Tamudo? Aragones must think Torres is still unfit! Denmark really looked damaging at times to Spain, so I think Sweden should be an even tougher challenge! Will be a close game!
Well Spain is in. The nightmare is over for now and Spain have avoided the EMBARASSMENT that would have been had they not qualified for the Euro Cup. They looked pretty good and Sweden just never got into the match. They had one dangerous moment early but after that, the line held up and Sweden hardly threatened. Villa was involved, with his one shot on goal from a free kick clipping the left cross bar and on one occasion almost putting Fabregas through on goal but Cesc didn't appear to get a clean shot at the ball. David Silva was ok. Not bad, and had some exciting moments but didn't really produce anything dangerous. Joaquin was very good, often combining with Fabregas for some exciting plays that looked very dangerous. Sergio Ramos was awesome, scoring the 3rd goal, and Xavi and Iniesta probably were the difference, for their midfield presence, possession, and control probably was what really won Spain the match, along with Iniesta's goal from Xavi's assist. Great result for Spain.

I truly believe that all the elite box to box midfielders are not only the hardest to find but if not the most expensive then up there for sure. Their transfer fees are ABSURD. But those guys are well worth it. Many players can only contribute on either offense or defense but these guys do BOTH and on a consistent basis, particularly Fabregas, Xabi Alonso, Deco(When not hurt), Xavi, and Lucho Gonzales. And their stamina has to amazing because they run so much.

On the transfer fees issue, I think that its gotten ridiculous, though. I think players should be allowed to control their own destinies and if they want a change, they should be given a reasonable price tag. Like David Villa's release clause is like 80 million and thats absurd to believe any team would pay that. Same thing with Ronnie's tag. I don't think either of these 2 guys want to leave their clubs(Despite being stars, I actually find both guys very modest, loyal, and appreciative of what their clubs have given them), which is good because in this football world of ego maniacs, the few good wholesome players do stand out.
and the NEW
Yeh, didnt see the Spain game, just saw highlights! Looked like the DOMINATED! Unexpected, I saw Zlatan afterwards surprised and said he thought it would be a lot closer, with Spain of course having a little more of the chances, but not as dominant as it was!

Interesting to watch Russia loose to Israel! Israel put up a spirited effort! Brazil played their normal lackluster self in South American qualifying (thinking they can just cruise through) and got punished for it!!! The goal for Todd Carny for Australia to beat Nigeria was spectacular! Also watched a bit of Italy get their usual highway referee Robberies! Wish Italy would just get thrown out of world football, they are absolutely ruining it! So much cheating and with it, will bring constant speculation! Doesnt help that every single game either a top Italian club plays in (other than Inter Milan) and every single game the Italian national team plays in, there is some kind of dodgy call go their way! Just makes it totally unenjoyable to watch their games! I dont mind watching AC Milan play at all, but I just cannot stand some of the calls that go their way. Constantly blatant, rubbish calls!

It is a good change to see some humble superstars! That is one thing I really admire about Ronnie, he is one of the most famous faces on the planet, yet is still as humble as a man comes!

As far as transfer fees, I think guys like Ronaldinho, Messi, Kaka, the real playmakers, would be more expensive than guys like Fabregas, Gerrard, Deco. These guys represent the best in the world at their positions!

Watched the Zidane V Ronaldo 11 also today, god damn Zizou just makes me laugh every time I watch him, just makes it all look so so easy! Truly a magnificent player! Too bad he couldnt add more goals to his game, or he would have been absolutely legendary, even moreso than he currently is! He is an absolute joy to watch, even still!

Zlatan just had no service at all. One moment he looked dangerous but throughout the match he had trouble staying onsides(And he's known as a master at timing his runs just right) and he was tightly marked. Even though I wanted Spain to win, I wanted to see Ibra do well so I was little disappointed in seeing him not score but I'm more than sure it was for the better.

Saw the end of the Israel and Russia match and I was amazed. Israel apparentely outplayed them throughout the whole match which is an upset right there in itself.

What can I say about Italy??.. They are John Ruiz of world football. They foul, cheat and dive their way to wins in the tournaments, and always get the big calls going their way. Cheating bastards. But they're in. And France is in. We'll just have to hope that Italy gets upset by some team that they should beat.

The price tags on Ronnie, Kaka, and Messi would probably be higher, but I think that playmakers are not hard to find. You can get alot of them who can do so much for a team for good deals. And they're very easy to spot as they are being developed in the youth systems while it is tougher I honestly believe to find midfield players can contribute on both sides of the box EQUALLY AS EFFECTIVE. Valencia may have found a gem with Manuel Fernandes, whom is still raw but can be developed into a world class player very easily. Players like Deco, Fabregas, and Alonso are praised for their offensive talents but I think their contributions on defense often if not always, get overlooked.

More rumors about Frank Rijkaard feeling the pressure to win the next 5 fixtures. This time I read that the board are really demanding wins. Apparentley the supposed "lack of intensity" of the team is coming under heavy fire and Rijkaard himself is the one being blamed for it, not the players. Then again I take that back because many in the Spanish media have criticized Puyol for being slow and having trouble keeping the lines together. I find it rather humorous that a team can be in either 2nd or 3rd place and yet still get criticized for "lack of good football." Like you said earlier, Messi came out public to defend Rijkaard and thats about the only defence he's had because it continues. It was like that Flores before he was ousted by Valencia with the talks getting stronger and stronger every week. I'll be honest, Barca could probably use a better manager, but icing Rijkaard during Barca's toughest part of their schedule could really cause a serious blow to the team's psyche, because they seemingly love Rijkaard, while it was clear that Valencia players were happy that Flores was ousted. I know you said you would like to see Scolari replace Rijkaard but is that a change you could see happening after Euro 2008?
and the NEW
Yeh, the Rijkaard rumous are intensifying! No idea what is going to happen with him, but once these rumours start, unless there is a change in form, they usually come true! Jol was another of these rumous, which was nearly identical to the Barca rumours! Players defending him etc.

I cant see Scolari joining Barca until after the Euro, but I think once its done, he well could do! Anyone would be CRAZY to turn down Barca I beleive, who in 99% of opinions, have the best squad on the planet! It really is a dream team!

That is why Rijkaard is being criticised I beleive, because 3rd isnt bad, but this is Barca we are talking about, and anything below 1st is unacceptable! With the quality they have at their disposal, you should be looking impressive week in and week out, as Man United and Arsenal have been doing this season. And Man United did it all last season too! Being behind an erratic and seemingly incomplete Real Madrid is a HUGE disappointment for all Catalans! Not to mention, it appears Kaka will end up there before next season starts, which will be a huge boost for their squad! He is really what the squad lacks, a man who can play the centre attacking mid, the huge hole that Zizou left!

If Barca do not get at least La Liga or the Champs League this season, it is a disgrace! Even with the way they are playing, the fact that they are still rather strong favourites in the Champions League, really says something about their quality and expecation on them!

As for Rijkaard, I beleive the players love him for one reason only, that he is so relaxed and allows them to pretty much run their own dressing room! They have it pretty easy at Barca! Much like was the case at Real, when Zizou and Ronaldo used to miss training and were pampered by the President (to Rauls disguast!!!) 3 years without a trophy is what they got!
I definitely agree that Barcelona has a squad that should be producing better results. I can only imagine how you feel when you guys lose to teams like Villareal and Getafe. Granted both those teams have some quality and the fixtures were away, but I know that you feel that they have NO BUSINESS beating Barcelona no matter the circumstances.

Teams like Arsenal and Man United though I believe are consistent due to the all around balance and chemistry in both teams. Arsenal in particular added some strength to the backline and their consistency this season is remarkable. Man United are cruising at the moment despite having the rough start they had. What lets Barca down is if the defense has too much pressure on them for the long haul in the match. And of course when you have teams marking like they do when they play Barca, then Barca's possesion is limited and thus there is more pressure on the defense and guys like Puyol and Marquez who are not very fast.

What can cripple their chances I think along with inconsistent play(Which does come down to the manager I agree), is injuries. You guys had long term injuries last year to Messi and Eto'o, and now this season you've had to deal with injuries to Deco and Eto'o. The midfield is kinda uneven because of that and without the player that is most familiar in taking the passes from his playmakers, then I can see why you guys would struggle.

Valencia has had injuries all last season and this season as well they've had some. What was really killing them was the joke of a system that Flores had implemented into the squad. The players lost faith in him too and they stopped responding to him. Valencia has arguably the 2nd most talented squad in La Liga but have not quite been able to settle down. I know it will take alot of time and I'm not expecting a trophy(Though if Koeman can get us Copa del Rey, I would be impressed). Next year after we rid ourselves of a few weak links and has beens and add some more talent(Particularly another defender and a playmaker who can provide a spark up the middle), then I can see us possibly making a real run for it in La Liga and maybe even the Champions League.

I think next season will see Kaka as a Real Madrid player in the biggest transfer of the off season. Other possible big moves are Van der Vaart to Valencia, and Deco to Chelsea from what I hear. I keep hearing Ibrahimovic is about to get an extension and if he does then that sucks because I really wanted to see him go to either Arsenal or maybe a club like Sevilla. I like watching Inter play(The only Italian squad I like), but I hate the fact that the league is just so not competitive. Players like Ibrahimovic need to be at the elite. The Premiership or La Liga is where its at.
and the NEW
I agree on Barca, Milito is slow also! Very similar to Puyol in many aspects, though a better general of the lines!

Valencia I think have comparable talent to Real Madrid, who have got a better line-up this season I beleive than last season. Though bought an unbeleivable amount of backs (on paper, easily the best backline in the world), with guys like Heinze and Drenthe sitting on the bench! Robben though injured is a great addition when fit and has already single handily turned around games!

God I miss Zizou though! After watching his 11 play the Ronaldo 11, got me thinking of watching him for all those years! He is the only player I enjoyed watching as much as Ronaldinho! Though, Ronaldo is still right up there! Messi will be great, but he is usually pretty predictable, run down the right, cut inside, take a shot! Though, he is mixing it up and passing it a bit more lately! Kaka is just a big, fast, strong, workhorse with a great shot! Nothing overly entertaining about that, but gets the job done! Oh and Robben is always good also. After watching Zizou the other night though, he still has the touch and ability to play for any of the big clubs in the World, even after nearly 1 1/2 years off! Looks like he just has the ball on a string!

Argentina lost in their South American qualifier, just impossible to play Colombia at the altitutude! Am gonna watch the Brazil V Uruguay match when I get home! Should be entertaining!

Ibra definately belongs in one of the big leagues! The Italian league is just pathetic at the bottom levels now! Only really 5 decent teams there! Fiorentina, Roma, Inter, Milan and Juve!

I think Kaka will be the priciest transfer in football history this summer!

Cannot beleive England got knocked out! What a shock! Crushed Maxy? They deserved to make it I beleive, Russia got a bogus penalty call against England at home, which should not have been a direct inside the box! Will be a weird Euro without England, much the same as it was weird to watch the 2002 WC without the Orange Army present! Goes to show, these days in World Football, every single game is so crucial! There are no given wins anymore! Unless your playing Derby in the Premier League of course!
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Cannot beleive England got knocked out! What a shock! Crushed Maxy? They deserved to make it I beleive, Russia got a bogus penalty call against England at home, which should not have been a direct inside the box! Will be a weird Euro without England, much the same as it was weird to watch the 2002 WC without the Orange Army present! Goes to show, these days in World Football, every single game is so crucial! There are no given wins anymore! Unless your playing Derby in the Premier League of course!

Its the lowest point for England since the dark days of Graham Taylors reign when we failed to qualify for the 94 World Cup. We were absolutely shocking all over the pitch and Steve McClaren should have resigned immediately after the game if he had one ounze of pride. The FA had no choice but to sack him this morning, although they too should hang their heads in shame for appointing him in the first place.

Frank Lampard and Steven Gerard are deemed to be world class....personally I've never been a fan of Lampard - he's totally overrated, but Gerard proved beyond doubt that he is overrated also with an absolutely diabolical performance. It really was shameful all round. The only good thing was that England had no United players involved last night. Next summer won't be the same without us competing in the Euro's but we didn't deserve to get there. At least the majority of players for United will be able to have a good rest during the summer!
I'm sorry Maxy. I can't even begin to imagine the disappointment. I was actually the one fearing that Spain was not going to make it and people were laughing at me agreeing that was going to come to pass. McClaren really killed you guys, though. That friendly that England played vs Spain was a match that England should have won but lost because of the questionable tactics of good ole Stevie. Frank Lampard and Steve Gerrard are very good players if not GREAT players. But I think its the coach who really deserves the blame for poor performance after another and after yet another.

Once again we have to put up with Italy in a major tournament. I swear if they win again I'm going to cry. I cannot STAND those diving, fouling, whining, cheating bastards. Here's whom I favor.

Spain- The team I truly support. Plays in an up tempo open style of football that is very direct with strong defenders and quick skillful attackers whom are exterminators in front of goal. They don't have a good history in international tournaments though. But on paper, they arguably have the best squad in the world.

Portugal- Very similar to Spain. Very attacking and exciting to watch. Perfect blend of defense and attack and a great manager. On paper they too have one of the most talented squads in the world and have been alot of people's favorite to watch on the pitch. Really hope they do well if not win, because they are a very pleasing side to watch.

Germany- Probably the most consistent squad, I'm afraid. Very tall players that are all great in the air, and very clinical in front of goal. Their backline is a wall. These fellas I feel deserved to win the World Cup last year and IMO they may be the most feared team in Europe. I don't think anybody wants to play them. And they'll be very fired up for this one.

The rest of the teams I don't care too much for. Hate Italy. Dislike France. Sweden is a good side to watch. Don't know much about Russia. Watch out for Holland/Netherlands. They have some good attackers and a good coach. Beware of Greece. Defending champions should never be counted out.

Whom do you guys favor as of NOW??... I do know that circumstances can cause a change of opinions.
Obviously I won't be able to get properly into the tournament next year thanks to Mr McClaren but if I do favour a side to win it I'll go with Portugal. I like the way they play, they have a lot of flair plus the Man Utd continguent of Ronaldo and Nani....and with a bit of luck we'll also have Veloso too...fingers crossed.

Spain always seem to falter in the big tournaments, yet they have really strong squads. I don't know why that is, but over the years they have never fulfilled the pre-tournament hopes. The last world cup for instance, they started very impressively but then seemed to crack under the pressure. I don't think next year will be any different.

For me, I believe the competetion is between Germany and the bloody Italians but if I were to pick a winner it would be Germany. I think they'll be the favourites also.
Your right. I think its that PRESSURE that is put on Spain because they have so much talent and are exciting to watch. The squad's talent is SCARY... But for some reason they can never quite put it all together. Spain has also had some bad luck go their way. Like last year, France CHEATED quite a bit during that match(Henry's dive that earned a free kick for the 2nd goal in which Puyol got a yellow card undeservedly). And in 2002 they lost to South Korea I believe on penalty kicks. They've had some bad luck as well and I'm hoping some good luck comes their way next year. Hopefully they can at least get into the quarter finals. Anything beyond that and I'll be happy.

Lets all pray that the damn Italians get elminated in the group phase.
and the NEW
My favourite to win the Euro has to be Portugal! Though they never win big tournaments either, I think this could be their year. I love Miguel in the backs, one of the very best wing backs in the world, but the midfield is insane! Maniche can score goals also, but with Queresma (hope they keep using him more than Nani, because as of now, they are in a totally different class) on the left and Ronaldo on the right, with Deco to distribute, and right there you have one of the most potent attacks in world football!

Germany will always be tough, but I think another team who will do well are France! They are LOADED with attacking threat! With guys like Malouda, Saha, Henry, Trezeguet, Anelka, they have a lot of pace and strength! Add Ribery, who is really the role Zidane played for them, and you have a very good team! Not to mention with Coupet back in goals, Abidal, Sagna, Gallas, Evra the backs are SOLID! Ribery I beleive is one of the best in the world, a master at his craft! Zizou got in his ear at the last WC and told him to learn when to slow down play and when to push forward with pace (Ribery used to just charge forward every time), and since that, he has really deveoped as a player! Distributes, creates space, takes on defenders, sets up goals and puts them away sometimes! France will be hard to beat I beleive!

I dont really like Italy this Euro, Toni is very dangerous upfront, but Cannavaro had a BRILLIANT WC, his sliding tackles never let anyone past, no way he can have a repeat performance this Euro! It was more luck than anything else, much the same as Lucus Neil had for Australia but hasnt repeated the form since! Pirlo is not in the best form at the moment, maybe his on the downslide..........

Spain has talent, should do well but they will fukc it again! I like Holland, but they just never look overly dangerous going forward, will help now Van Der Vaart is back (he didnt play at the WC), but other than Robben, they just look flat!

Portugal and France are my picks!

As for England, I just dont think its a good idea to play Gerrard and Lampard in the centre mids together! They obviously dont gel, having superstars is not the be all and end all! Look at Brazil last WC with apparently the "Greatest team in history"! Barry and Gerrard were working great together! They should have played Hargreaves in a holding mid role also I beleive, or Carrick! As for Lamps and Stevie, I think both are very good players, but both are definately overrated by the English press! That being said, Lampard is impressing me this year for Chelsea, he looks in great form! Gerrard needs to relax sometimes and slow down to take balls, he always charges onto loose balls at full pelt and looses control of them! Ive seen him do it hundreds of times over the years! You cant take a ball down on your chest and then finish when you are running absolute full throttle! He really does miss that ability to control balls without much space to work with.
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As for England, I just dont think its a good idea to play Gerrard and Lampard in the centre mids together! They obviously dont gel, having superstars is not the be all and end all! Look at Brazil last WC with apparently the "Greatest team in history"! Barry and Gerrard were working great together! They should have played Hargreaves in a holding mid role also I beleive, or Carrick! As for Lamps and Stevie, I think both are very good players, but both are definately overrated by the English press! That being said, Lampard is impressing me this year for Chelsea, he looks in great form! Gerrard needs to relax sometimes and slow down to take balls, he always charges onto loose balls at full pelt and looses control of them! Ive seen him do it hundreds of times over the years! You cant take a ball down on your chest and then finish when you are running absolute full throttle! He really does miss that ability to control balls without much space to work with.

I think the English press enjoy hyping up sportsman so that they can knock them down at a later date. In fact it's not just the sportsman, it's everybody. As a nation we will build someone up immensely only to knock them down big time if we get the opportunity.

We haven't, as yet, seen the worst of the bad press for Lampard and Gerrard, although it has to be said that many objective jounalists have been questioning Lampard for some time. His inept performance on Wednesday night, coupled with his pathetic displays during the world cup, have further opened him up to negative exposure.

I don't rate him personally.

Gerrard - now he is either going through a slump or he was never as good as once thought. He's playing poorly this season, he was an embarrassment on Wednesday and he's definitely beginning to feel the pinch from the English media. His exceptional second half in the champions league final a couple of seasons ago, put him on a pedestal which was simply above his true ability.

He is no Roy Keane.

No, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are not world class and they most definitely cannot play together in the same team. As for Carrick, he should have played instead of Lampard and Hargreaves would have played if properly fit.
and the NEW
Yeh, was a bad lineup I beleive, didnt gel at all!

Talk is of Klinsman taking over, I would LOVE to see that happen! He will mix things up a bit, play the best team rather than the best players and is also a very attacking coach! Mourinho would just make the team boring and defensive, similarly to what they were like last WC and in their time under Sven, looked solid as a rock, but no forward momentum and therefore looked totally blunt in attack! Good enough to do well in any tournament or qualifying, but not enough goals in them to win anything.

I think Lampard and Gerrard have prooved at club level they can do the business. Both play for two of the best squads in the world, both of their statistics speak for themselves, scoring and assisting numerous goals every season, whilst also helping out with their defensive responsibilities! No doubt though, they just dont play well together! Gerrard was playing decent in there with Barry (who was playing tremendous), its just that he and Lamps cant work together! Lamps is a hog, so there is never much room in the centre mids for anyone else other than a defensive mid! Much like Ballack disappeared at Chelsea. He has to play with guys like Essien, Makalele in the centres who will put in the hard work and let him hog the ball in attack! In the WC, he must have had more shots at goal than anyone else in the whole tournament! Only prob is, he couldnt put one away!

I would have actually played, Bent upfront by himself, along with Cole, Barry, Carrick, Gerrard and Wright Phillips (or Beckham). Then just lock up the defence and play on the counter. With the centres distributing and the wingers and Bent all fast enough to play effectively on the counter. Not to mention, James should have always been in goals, by far the best keeper England have I beleive! He is world class IMHO! Plays brilliantly week in and week out for Portsmouth!
Bad bad week, what with England losing, Man United losing and Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool all winning.

Wish Ferguson had played Anderson ahead of Carrick. Oh well....long way to go yet.

World cup its going to be Croatia V England all over again. Has anyone got a list of the complete qualifying draw?
^^^^ Here ya go, Maxy.

Group 1 Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Albania, Malta

Group 2 Greece, Israel, Switzerland, Moldova, Latvia, Luxembourg

Group 3 Czech Republic, Poland, NORTHERN IRELAND, Slovakia, Slovenia, San Marino

Group 4 Germany, Russia, Finland, WALES, Azerbaijan, Liechtenstein

Group 5 Spain, Turkey, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Armenia, Estonia

Group 6 Croatia, ENGLAND, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Andorra

Group 7 France, Romania, Serbia, Lithuania, Austria, Faroe Islands

Group 8 Italy, Bulgaria, Republic of Ireland, Cyprus, Georgia, Montenegro

Group 9Holland, SCOTLAND, Norway, FYR Macedonia, Iceland

Portugal looks to have a tough draw. Unfortunately, Italy looks to have it easy.
Cheers for that.

Yeah that does look like a tough group for Portugal....and Scotland haven't got it easy either.
and the NEW
Yeh, bad week for you Maxy!

I was glad to see Barca win though, now breathing down Madrids throat again after both they are Villareal lost!

Man United really miss Ronaldo every time he doesnt play! He adds a lot of spark to them! Though didnt see the game this week, how did United play? Did they domiante possession and chances?

Those draws are pretty unfair I beleive. Italy has the easiest group possible!

Portugal definately have a hard draw, along with Holland and of course England (who really should not have been a second seed)! I will enjoy watching France battle it out with Romania, who when they put it together, have a very good squad! Solid, and play great on the counter!

PR, what happened to Valencia? A very bad defeat for them! The La Liga table is looking weird this year, with Zaragoza, Valencia and Sevilla all struggling! Villareal, Espanyol and Atletico doing better this year!

BTW, when is the draw for the Euro? That should be very interesting! Also news is Kaka won the Ballon D'or, but you know when the FIFA World Player of the Year is drawn?

Valencia are just suffering. They still haven't fixed their biggest problems(Midfield and central defense). And until they do so, they won't be able to compete with the elite. Its just that simple. I can't stress it anymore. The fans know whats needed. Racing played typical Racing football with lots of tight marking, hard fouling, and stacking the box. They won off a cheap goal that was more of a mistake on Canizares part as opposed to being a great strike. Lack of creativity in the middle is what is really hurting the team this year. Teams know that Valencia like to run up the wings and because there is no threat in the middle, things don't open up for Villa, Vicente, Joaquin, and Silva. As I said, this is going to take time and I've resigned to the fact that I'm just going to have to be patient with all other Valencianistas. It will take a considerable amount of time for this ship to be righted.

Barca looked very good however. Great win for them without Ronaldinho, again. But they looked strong this week. Strong in attack and in defense. Samuel Eto'o is back in training and he is a player that I cannot wait to see back at full strength. That will probably take alot of time, having to deal with 2 major injuries in less than a year cannot help his form. But he's back now and hopefully he'll get back into the swing of things bit by bit. Deco's another one that the club is missing and hopefully he'll be back soon enough.

The draw sucks IMO. Italy has basically been HANDED a spot in the World Cup already. Bad enough they have dubious calls go their way all the time, and now a convinient draw that they could win with their eyes closed. I'm so pissed off.

At least Arsenal is doing well, sitting at the top of the Premier League with only Man United seeming to be a threat to them at the moment despite losing to Bolton. Liverpool and Chelsea are there but don't have the consistency. Though Liverpool didn't look too bad in beating Newcastle 3-0. It was a strong performance I thought.
and the NEW
Yeh, well look at what Van Der Vaart is doing at Hamberg! They are in a good position, as was the case two season ago! Last season he was injured and the team went to junk! Definatley a HUGE difference maker!

Cannot wait for Eto'o to play either, probably will get some game time in a couple weeks now he is back to intense training! Messi was a star again! The man will develop into one of the best ever if he stays healthy!

Yep, Italy once again got the easiest road to the WC finals of probably any other team on the planet! Its a given place already! No competition whatsoever!

Liverpool had their intensity back, like they played at the start of the season, putting unlimited pressure on the opposition when Liverpool were off the ball! They ran at everyone, then put it together nicely in attack! Torres should have had about 5, ha ha, poor guy, I could only laugh about it, and Kewell played very well for his first start in 18 months! Looked very silky, with a great touch, pace and passing. If he stays fit, he will be a very big addition to the squad!

Looks like Rafa is in the bad books with the owners! They really should have talks with him if he thinks he can bring in some good players on free signings. Wonder who he is talking about though..........
Despite going through this tough time, a true fan has to keep in mind that this is Ronald Koeman's 3rd match with the club. The team is still going through a big change at the moment and its not gonna all happen over night. Quique Sanchez Flores left a big mess to clean up. There is lots of dead wood in this club that has not been weeded out, for one. I blame Juan Soler. He really contributed BIG TIME to this mess. The fan support is not great at the moment and its directed more to the organization than the players. The club had opportunities to bring in players like Lucho Gonzalez, Van Der Vaart, David Trezeguet, and a defender like Chivu and the organization as of now has failed to do so. Keep in mind that the club also sold Pablo Aimar to Zaragoza in what had to be the most inexplicable move of the 2006 off season, and then they also just released Roberto Ayala, whom was the club's best defender. As you can see its a costly mess. This will take time.

Leo Messi has been impressive this year. He's great on the right as an attacking midfielder. He's one of the best in the world at his position right now. Hope to see Eto'o get back to being one of if not the best striker in the world again. I read that he's doing well in training. I think his injuries will be a cause for concern from here on out, though. The injuries he's had have been serious. The last one in particular was one that Vicente struggled with all last season. Hopefully the team brings him along the right way and doesn't make the same mistakes that our at times, STUPID club makes. Eto'o has to be the fastest player on the team right??... I think Messi may run as fast as him but Sammy runs like few can. BLISTERING PACE...

Benitez deserves some blame for the team's inconsistent form. He may have over did it a bit on the rotations. But at the very least the club is doing well.

Van Der Vaart is the man, plain and simple. Still seems desperate for that Spanish move as well. There's no room for him at Real Madrid. Heard rumors of Barca being very interested in his services, but I don't see much room for him there either. I think Valencia and Sevilla are the clubs with the best chance of enticing him.

Oh, and don't believe for a second that Fabregas wouldn't make a Spanish move. I think that with the right offer from the right club(Barcelona), he would come to Spain. Have very little doubt about it.
and the NEW
Yeh, Arteta is also talking of a move to Atletico!

Riquelme just signed for Boca! FUKC! So disappointing!!!!!!

I have also heard Eto'o is doing well in training, scoring hat-tricks in practice matches! He is no doubt the fastest on Barca! Messi is fast for about the first 30 metres but thats it. Much like Ronaldo and Robben. Whereas Eto'o can maintain a very high speed over the whole park!

Van Der Vaart appears set for Valencia. Kaka for Real Madrid. Fabregas I reckon will remain at Arsenal, the team appears very happy, and especially if they win something big this year, either the Premier League or Champs League. Lamps, Drogba and Deco are all possible transfer targets! I also hope someone buys Adu and Queresma out of Portugal. Gilberto Silva is expected to move to Juve, as Flamini has become the Arsenal holding mid. Their all the big moves I can think of at the moment.

As bad as it sounds, Im glad Barca are gonna catch Valencia in a transition phase! They really need every win they can scrape! The big matches though, are definately the super galacticos! Very important to win those, as was evident last season! If it was the Premier League, Barca would have been Champions!
I like Van der Vaart, I think he's a great player and one of the best attacking midfielders in the world. I'd like him here but I'm not sure how he'd fit into things now that I think about it. We'd have to play a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 to get him in there. There's no way he can play in a 4-4-2.. But truth is we do need something extra through the centre. Silva doesn't dictate the game enough to be a force down the middle and our strikers excluding Villa need service in most occasions to be useful. I read a quote from Raffie saying that he doesn't know if he can accept the wages that Soler will be offering him. So that could just ruin all of the Van der Vaart rumours, but Koeman and Ruiz are going to try and make it happen but I think it'll be a little difficult and if he does come accommodating him will be tough. But we have to address what we need. Ever since Pablo Aimar was sold, there isn't anybody who can create up the middle. The club has tried to play Silva in that role but it doesn't work because he doesn't hold onto the ball well enough and demand it then pass it around with conviction enough to play as a number 10. As a second striker his finishing is too weak. When he's on the wings his crossing is poor. It's really annoying because he's such a great talent and one of my favourite players. But ideally in a team where everyone is fit, he'd be on the bench.

I can see Kaka at Real Madrid. Its what keeps coming up, and it wouldn't shock me at all if he's already been signed for next season but its being kept under the table.

Deco I reckon could leave but if he does, then that is a HUGE defensive gap in the midfield that you guys would have to replace. That would put extra pressure on Xavi or you'd have to change formation. But I guess on a team that is so LOADED with stars, one of them will have to go.

Riquelme wanted to go to Boca. Its his home team if you know what I mean. He LOVES it there. He's like royalty down there and even if he isn't making as much, the good thing for him there is that he doesn't have to deal with the politics that play such a role in these clubs in the Spanish league. A shame because I would have LOVED to see him at Valencia if Van Der Vaart doesn't come that is. But off he goes I guess.

Barcelona and Valencia are always exciting matches. But at this point, I think you guys should beat us rather handily I hate to say. We are badly exposed at the back, and there is nobody in the midfield we have that could control the play. 2 years ago, we had Pablo Aimar in the center and Vicente on the left wing to distribute to Villa who played as a lone center striker. With the ability to link play the way Vicente and Aimar did, your guys' defense was left badly exposed. Last season we lacked creativity in the middle, but we had Edu winning loose balls in the midfield and distributing some nice passes and the ability to link play is what made Villa score that goal that he did at Camp Nou last season. Not to mention that the defense was a FORTRESS. Ronaldinho, Eto, and Messi really had it difficult in penetrating that night, and of course that leading to counter attack opportunities. But as of now, I can't see it. We have nobody to plug the middle, and Moretti is injured, not to mention that Miguel and Albiol aren't having the best form at the moment, and Helguera is just terrible. Plus we only attack well up the wings. Surely you guys have seen this by now.

Can only hope that this transition period doesn't last too long is all I can say.

and the NEW
Yeh, Valencia is in a state of a mess a the moment! They really need to clean out some players and bring in others, freshen it up a bit! Not to mention, they need to find their prefered formation under Koeman!

You guys should even sign a guy like Arteta, he adds creativity in midfield and can hold the ball great in tight spaces. He would do very well there as your creative midfielder!

Of the Champion League matches Man United and Barca topped their groups already! Man United looked very good, Ronaldo menacing as always, and Anderson really distributing this game! He is going to be a terrific player over the years for United! Saha looked like a man who is rusty! No wonder why! Tevez always takes one too many touch, he should have put one away also! That Ronaldo goal was awesome too! Just floated and dipped in! About damn time! Ronaldo has been attempting that for a long while now, and its not since last season he got one in!

Barca looked good, controlled most of the match, disappointed to see Ronnie not make the team for two games in a row! Though he did play in both the Brazil WC qualifiers, so thats fair, he could still be a bit sore and fatigued! His been back there twice now in a month with nonstop action in between, jet lag cant be good for the body or the mind!

Saw the goals of Arsenal V Sevilla, and a little of the action. Sevilla really dominated the chances, though Arsenal to be fair, didnt play their best squad. With Rosicky, Sagna, Adebayor on the bench, and Van Persie and Hleb both injured. Gallas also didnt play, not sure where he is at the moment, injured or not! Though he always seems to be injured lately!

Onto the next day of action!
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Of the Champion League matches Man United and Barca topped their groups already! Man United looked very good, Ronaldo menacing as always, and Anderson really distributing this game! He is going to be a terrific player over the years for United! Saha looked like a man who is rusty! No wonder why! Tevez always takes one too many touch, he should have put one away also! That Ronaldo goal was awesome too! Just floated and dipped in! About damn time! Ronaldo has been attempting that for a long while now, and its not since last season he got one in!

United were very poor in the first half and showed once again, they do not like the 4-3-3 formation. It was like a different team in the second half, with the introduction of Giggs and Tevez, along with the switch to 4-4-2. Anderson has fitted in superbly and IMO already looks a better and more complete player than Carrick. Ronaldo was rightfully awarded MOM, capping off a good performance with the injury time winner. When he lined up to take the free-kick I thought "Oh no, here we go, another shot either hitting the wall or flying miles over the bar", but he drilled it in magnificently. Veloso played quite wel for Sporting and continues to be linked with United as does Sagnol from Bayern and Anelka from Bolton. One thing is quite clear to me....we need a fourth striker....Saha showed little commitment and appears to be scared, or reluctant to really give his all. That, for me, is simply not good enough. On his day Saha is an exceptional talent but his injuries and his mental state have to be questioned.

Arsenal gambled by playing a second string side and came unstuck...they will now most likely finish second in the group making their last 16 game much tougher than it needed to be.

When United play Roma, expect a Roma victory. Ferguson has made it clear he will be resting all of his major players as we have already won the group and have a tough game against Liverpool a few days later. It will be an ideal opportunity for Roma to gain a little bit of revenge for last seasons 7-1 drubbing.

Ronaldinho continues to be linked with a move away from Barca. Latest reports state that he prefers a move to Chelsea above AC Milan. Would be good for the Premier League if a player of his stature came here.

I'll be cheering on Porto tonight!
and the NEW
Interesting results! Man U didnt look their brilliant best, but no complaints for me! They still looked very good against Sporting who came out fighting!

Liverpool looked great, played at high intensity and did deserve a win against Porto! Though, not by that larger margin I dont beleive! Porto missed an easy chance to go 2-1 up which could have changed the whole outcome! Queresma was pretty much non existent, though Torres I must say, played like a world class striker! Brilliant! Speed, directness, great in the air, layed off some shots! Was also good to see Kewell make a difference coming off the bench! I hope he can remain healthy for a while!

I also expect Roma to beat United in the rematch, though it dont make a difference so who cares.

I am actually starting to hope Ronaldinho moves to Chelsea, I am really starting to despise Rijkaard! He is leaving one of the most quality players in the history of the sport sitting on the bench! No wonder so many want him gone! Even Messi says continuously he is surprised, and Eto'o still refers to Ronnie as the best player on the planet! No idea whats up with Rijkaard, as much as I try to justify it to myself! But a player of Ronnies caliber should be starting pretty much every game! Would also be interesting to see him in the Premier League, though I dont know how he would fit in! He needs pace infront of him, and Drogba dont have that! Kalou and Cole do, but neither are top finishers. He would fit better with United, or evern Arsenal or Liverpool I think! At least he has speed infront of him with finishing ability at those clubs! I could really see him gelling with Torres. Though, that will never happen! Only Chelsea or AC Milan could afford him at this point in time!

Some strange results, Real lost at home to a solid looking Werder Bremen, Marseille lost! Liverpool might actually make it and it looks probable at the moment! Valencia crashed out, though if they won this match, they would have been in a good spot!

Chelsea, Inter have topped their groups also! Sevilla and AC Milan look in the driving seats also!

Cant wait to see the final standings and especially the draw!!! Some 1st seeds are going to get some HARD second round draws! Probably against Arsenal and Liverpool! Luckily for Man United they are English so cant get drawn! Fukc I hope Barca doesnt draw one of them again in the next round!!!! Though, they are a lot stronger this season than last, when at this time last year they looked SHOCKING and had numerous of their big guns out! By the round of 16, they should have a full squad! A very hard task to topple!
You boys that follow Spanish football....whats the low down on Deportivo La Coruna winger Andres Guardado? Apparently both United and Arsenal have been looking at him?

Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari believes Barcelona ace Ronaldinho is already past his peak. Scolari, who won the World Cup with Ronaldinho, said: "He already has reached his maximum point as a soccer player. He played wonderfully well in 2004 and 2005, but already he's dropped a little in his form since 2006. What is clear is that he cannot maintain the same level he has performed at for the past ten years.

"Ronaldinho is never going to obtain what Brazilian and Barcelona fans demand of him. No longer can he beat four players nor will he score four goals in the same game."

I haven't seen much of him this season but is this the reason Riijkard has been leaving him on the bench? Scolari has also urged Ronaldinho to make a decision as to whether he wants to move to Chelsea or not. He believes he may have become stale at Barca.

Read a peice today that I cannot believe...

Napoli sports director Pierpaolo Marino has told fans that the dream prospect of signing a player of the status of Barcelona ace Lionel Messi can become reality. Marino said: "Leo would revive in Naples the fable of Maradona. He is everything the people of this city likes.

"Returning to Europe is the least we can achieve to live up to the club's great history. President (Aurelio) De Laurentiis has ambitious plans."

No way is Messi going to Napoli.
and the NEW
Jose Andres Guardado is good from what I have seen. He is a defender though and is very young, I think around 20. Though I must admit, I have only watched him once. Still very untested.

No doubt Ronaldinho has reached a maximum point in his career, nobody could perform better than what he did in his peak! He was phenomenal! Only probably Zizou and Ronaldo (Brazilian) performed at the same level at their peaks in this era. Henry is also up there. Though I beleive Ronaldo and Messi are the new two who are going to battle it out for world player of the year over the next several years. Dont think Kaka can remain at the level and dont think he should be winning it this year either when I really think about it.

Yeh, this is the season Ronaldinho has been left on the bench and I agree, he may have become stale. It might be time for a move, though he is still up there with the best of them. Even at this level, he is matching Messi when he plays. What is Scolari talking about he will not beat four defenders like he used too.........he did it last season! And last season he looked heavier and slower than this season! Its just his weighting of his passing that is slightly out. His free kicks are better than ever last season and this season. Though, Scolari knows Ronaldinho from when he was a boy in the Gremio youth squad, he is from the same area of Brazil, Porto Alegre of the Gauchos (cowboys) who play structured and rough! This is why he always keeps his teams is very good formation!

Also never really remember Ronnie scoring 4 goals in a game. He is not a natural striker. He didnt score often for Gremio either.

I agree, no way Messi is going to Napoli. Barca would NEVER sell him, he is their future! Its like Man United selling Ronaldo, it just aint happening. No doubt Ronnie could go though, they have cover for him on the left in Iniesta and Henry can play down the left. Though he kept Barca in the Champions League and the title race (at the top of the table) most of last season without Messi or Eto'o to help. He was the only one scoring or setting up goals! Last season was his poor season, but look at what he did and his stats, also in key games, he did as much as anyone else last season, only thing is he didnt get a trophy for it this time!

Euro draw coming up tomorrow, I will watch it live! Should be interesting! Also FIFA World Player of the Year shortlist announced, Kaka, Ronaldo and Messi, to be drawn on the 17th! I will be cheering for Ronaldo all the way, who thoroughly deserves it!

Oh I saw a bit of the Valencia match also PR in the Champs League, god damn how about Silva missing in injury time! Could have been that bit of luck you guys need! Also, unlucky to get that red! Always a very hard feat to actually get a win with 10 men!
Silva has done that so many times this season and last season. Very frustrating. But the team showed good form in the 2nd half after it looked like they came to just pack it in during the 1st half. The ball movement was better and the defense held formation. Its just the lack of creativity up the middle. The team really needs a PLAYMAKER.. Somebody like Van der Vaart or Riquelme. And Albelda once again fucks the team over. Our CAPTAIN, makes a tackle he knows he shouldn't make and costs us. Its due time to get rid of Albelda. He's just not a good player anymore. Another thing about David Silva is that even though he has talent, on a Valencia team that is FULLY FIT, it was proven last Wednsday why he is mostly on the bench, filling in for Vicente. He's just not quite the master class of a Villa, Vicente, Joaquin, Van Der Vaart or Moritentes. Those 4 would have BURIED that opportunity had it come their way. Such a shame. WIDE OPEN and he misses the easy finish.

Its funny because you wouldn't believe it, but even David Villa has come to the defense of Ronaldinho and also refers to him as the "best player in the world." Villa was recently asked about Barca's supposed "problems" and the Ronaldinho benching and he said that he doesn't understand the criticism of Ronnie and that he's still the best. Ronnie is really going through a bit of a bad spell, but I think that the main problem is that there seems to be a bit of change in the "chemistry" of the team. For one, we have Thierry Henry now, and Lionel Messi is starting to come into his own as a star in his own right. I still think Ronnie can beat defenders but it must be said that defenders are marking him tighter now. Reasons being because Henry is not quite the threat on goal he was in his own right, and because Samuel Eto'o is not in the fold. Barcelona are a SIGNIFICANTLY different team when Eto'o is on the field, its unreal. Its unreal how different they are when he's out there. He strikes so much fear into the hearts of defenders and thus they can't mark Ronnie as tight because Eto'o is then open, and that right there is the very reason of why its important for him to hit form as soon as possible for his team.

I really hate Real Madrid. I will not go into that right now, though.

Arsenal scraped an away win which is good. Liverpool is the only other team in the Premiership that has not lost a match yet. Man United lost but I don't think it really hurts them all that much. Certainly Arsenal has to drop off a bit sooner or later, right?

Will watch in anticipation for the Euro 2008 draw. Can't wait to see who draws whom.
and the NEW
Sevilla lost AGAIN domestically! They are having a shocker! At this rate, they wont even make the UEFA cup next year!!

Its time for Rijkaard to hand in his resignation! He is becoming DESPERATE! He played Gudjohnson and Bojan, and left guys like Ronaldinho and Zambrotta on the bench! That to me, is a HUGE sign of total desperation!!!! He is trying ANYTHING now to make things work, but he has obviously gone stale himself! I dont think he has total respect of the players now either! Only a matter of time, I just hope LaPorte can let go, or he himself will find himself voted out!

They desperately need Eto'o back also, he, Ronnie and Deco were the core of the Barca glory days, today, none of them played except Ronnie off the bench! They work the best together, and Rijkaard is just lucky he has the genius of Messi to keep him afloat at the moment! Messi was the only man who did a thing creative wise, it reminded me of watching Liverpool, where they reverted to the long ball! Ronnie then came on instead of BOJAN, WTF Is that? As the lone striker where creativity is all but required in that position! Everybody knows Ronnie is not a striker! Rijkaard needs to go! Its as simple as that! He is not performing very good this season overall now, and its long enough now to tell things arent going to change quickly! The man is lacking entire formation now and just cant get the job done! His squad, quality wise, are the best on the planet, better than even last season! Ive had enough of him! Cant even stand to see him on the sidelines now!

Real Madrid played like SH*T! But somehow once again, managed to come away with the win! Racing had some very good chances and hit the post, but lucky for Real they got that dream first 10 minutes!!

Chelsea looked ordinary in a scrappy darby with West Ham! But they got the job done as they so often do!

I watched a bit of the Arsenal match, looked ok, but they really missed Fabregas from what I saw.

Onto the Euro draw, which has the weirdest seedings I have EVER seen! We are going to get a very unfair draw! Its possible France, Holland, Italy and Germany all end up in the same group! As Austria, Greece are first seeds, as opposed to France who as last seeds and Germany second last seeds! Insane! Just hope Italy gets drawn in a group of death, as opposed to a guarantee to the quarter finals!!!

Hear Riquelme turned down Tottenham also to move to Boca! He must really just want to relax now after all the crap he has gone through at Villareal!

Ah well, thats enough of football for me for a while, Rijkaard has pizzed me off too much! I will enjoy a weeks break in the action with no midweek games except a couple of catch up games for Arsenal and Sevilla. Oh and a couple of random Champions League games which is weird! AC Milan play, might watch them at least. Man United also on Monday!
Look at this...made me laugh....

Middlesbrough have made a concrete bid for Barcelona star Ronaldinho. DiarioSport says Boro's offer - which is 10 million - is the only formal bid Barcelona have so far received for Ronaldinho.

The Boro bid is said to be so low as their budget to land the Brazil international is dominated by their contract offer to the attacking midfield star.

Not a chance in hell!!

I want to cry. This is just so frustrating. Lower tier teams like Bilbao and Racing are having their best games against Valencia. I truly sense a lack of desire in the players.

Villa- I wouldn't blame him honestly if he asks the organization to sell him in the off season. The club has really hit an absolute LOW.. We have to be one of the WORST teams in the league this year. Villa never stops fighting for his club, but his teammates don't always give him that same effort. I doubt Valencia would sell him to another big time Spanish club like Barca or Real. Villa would probably more likely than not go to England or Italy(Hopefully not Italy). If he leaves, hopefully a big club like Arsenal or Chelsea make a bid for him. But Soler would have to take bring down that ridiculous transfer fee(60 million or something). A player with the quality and character of him deserves better.

Vicente- Same thing. He's a Valencianista through and through, but he deserves better. The club has abandoned him, in favor of David Silva this season who has not much this season. Vicente is a warrior who has battled through injuries the past 2 years and gives his all time in and time out. Really terrible situation for him and he deserves so much more. Its time for a move I'm afraid.

Joaquin- The same. Keeps fighting and trying but has no help on the right side.

Now this issue...

Miguel- What happened to him???.... Where is the player of 2 years ago??... Just sad because he's 29 still and he's appearing to be slower than ever.

Silva- Poor. Has not been nearly the player he was made out to be prior to joining Valencia last year. Poor crossing, poor finishing, erractic ball control, and has become very much a diver. Doesn't play with much desire.

Albelda- Shit. Has been horrible the past 2 seasons and despite that got an extension(WTF)... He needs to be either shipped out for a half decent sum or sent to the reserves for the rest of his footballing days.

Canizares- Santi is past his prime. Its time for a new keeper.

Helguera- Needs to be shipped out. He just doesn't cut it.

I'm resigned to the fact that this club will be lucky to finish in the top 10 this season. They don't deserve anymore. The hunger isn't there, and understandibly so, the fan support is not there either. I think this club has just lost its identity. This is something Ronald Koeman cannot fix. The chemistry on this team is non existant. I think its time for an OVERHAUL...

I'm sorry fellas. I can't find anything to be happy about anymore.
and the NEW
Maxy that is hilarious! No chance!

PR, I can feel your pain man! The other problem is if fan support dies down, so does cash and therefore no chance of an overhaul! Van Der Vaart has prooven in Germany what he can do invdividually for a club side, so lets hope he wants to come and take the challenge! Otherwise, I would hate to see Valencia slowly end up a Leeds story! From Champions League to the lower division! Though, its prooven it can happen! Not often, but I hope something picks up for you guys!

Silva looked to have GREAT talent, maybe he just hasnt been developed right! Miguel was brilliant, havent seen much of him this season, but its funny how some players just loose their pace quickly! Happened to Henry also! He didnt look to have that edge even last season at Arsenal either! Albelda is rubbish, Canizares was a great keeper, might have just aged overnight! Helguera was always rubbish for Real also! I dont mind him moving forward, but he is TERRIBLE at the back! Not a world class player, no wonder Real got rid of him!

Barca arent quiet in that boat, but still, Rijkaard is desperate now and has to go! Though, Barca are still in the title race and a first seed in the Champs League!

How about that Euro draw! Italy draw a hard group, YES!!!!! Italy, France, Netherlands and Romania!!! WHAT A GROUP!!!! Those seedings were FUKCED up! 6 super power nations and 3 are in one group!!!! I favour Italy and France to get out, though that group could see anybody knocked out! Especially with only 3 games to make it, really a lot of luck involved in tournament competition!

None of the other groups look too hard at all! Germany probably in the easiest group! Portugal are my favourites now! The Spanish group will be interesting!

Kaka, then Ronaldo, then Messi in the Ballon D'or! I think Ibrahimavic was unlucky to miss out also! Next year there are several players who will seriously contend the top prizes, from a possibility of some great names, Ronaldinho, Messi, Kaka, Ronaldo, Fabregas, Ibrahimavic and even Eto'o if he gets back and fit, along with Ribery, all probably being the leading candidates! Though, the Euro always makes a big impression on that decision in a Euro year! I think we are in a pretty good period of football as far as stand out players are concerned!
Van Der Vaart is definitely a difference maker. And I do believe that he wants to come. But the question is if the cheap ass Juan Soler will want to pay his wages??..

I think a deep root of Valencia's problem is that even though they are a big club and the 3rd giant in Spanish football, they ACT like a small club. The organization just does not seem to have the AMBITION of a Real Madrid or Barcelona to give fans the best team on the field. I think they're more concerned with the new Mestalla stadium that is going to be built and while I welcome something like that, performance on the pitch comes first. Sure both Real and Barca have had their backstage shenanigans and divisions within, but when they are not afraid to come out of the pocket to bring in the best talent on the field. I seriously question if the current Valencia organization has that same desire because they sure are not willing to lay down the cash for it.

And overall, there is just a big loser mentality going on with the whole team now. The organization wants the fans to get behind the lads, but I mean if they're putting up performances that are uninspired and lacking in hunger and determination, then why should the fans care???... Some big moves are going to have to be made. Something to shake up the team because there is just not much to go on anymore. The team's weaknesses on the pitch are clear. But now it seems that the team's HEART is not in it anymore. No desire I see either from the players and like I said earlier, the organization on wanting to improve this situation.

The team has really shown some SHOCKING form this season. There is just not enough blame to go around. Alot of it is what Quique has left over since being fired. But it all goes to the head guy himself, Soler who has just killed the team within the past 2 years, beginning with selling Pablo Aimar and firing the sporting director Carboni.

I don't want to talk about it anymore. Its just sad. I wouldn't blame any of the players if they all wanted to leave.

Barca seems ok. A few problems here and there yeah, but nothing that can't be fixed. Henry is now out for 2 weeks as his injuries are starting up again. Will be interesting to see how different a team Barca may or may not be once Eto'o takes the field. The club is getting wins on its TALENT alone. Rijkaard is not really doing anything special, just letting the lads run their show but of course when you have that talent pool, who wouldn't. But he has lost a few that his club should have won. And surely these guys should be number 1 in Spain.

BTW, what happened with Deco???.. Reportedly he's having a rift with Rijkaard and the medical team. Heard he stormed off the training ground after a huge spat with the manager and doctors.

I think Spanish football in general this year is not quite up to the quality it was 2 seasons ago, and even last season. Last season, teams like Barcelona, Valencia, and Sevilla played BRILLIANTLY despite problems here and there. At their best, they all played great football. Real Madrid somehow win the title undeservedly but thats another story. Two years ago, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Valencia were the top teams and they all played great football that year. Seems to be in a bit of a slump for sure. Hope it ends soon.
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