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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mark Hughes to become new manager at Fulham

BBC Sport are reporting that Fulham have reached an agreement with Mark Hughes for Hughes to become their new manager.

Fulham said on Thursday that they expect to name their new boss within the next 48 hours.

Hughes has been out of work since being sacked as Manchester City manager in December 2009, and the Welshman will replace Roy Hodgson, who left Fulham earlier this month to take charge at Liverpool.

The expected arrival of Hughes will almost certainly be followed by a reshuffle of the backroom staff at Craven Cottage with first-team coach Ray Lewington, currently caretaker manager, looking likely to stay at Fulham.

However, goalkeeping coach Mike Kelly could team up with Hodgson again, with Hughes expected to bring in his own regular backroom staff including Mark Bowen, Kevin Hitchcock and Eddie Niedzwiecki.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Javier Mascherano returns to Liverpool training - to say that he wants to leave

Javier Mascherano returned to pre-season training at Liverpool yesterday and told Roy Hodgson that he wants to leave Anfield.

The midfielder was accompanied by his agent, and the transfer have come as little surprise to the manager. Rafael Benítez, Hodgson's predecessor at Liverpool, is trying to sign the Argentinian for Internazionale and Mascherano has spent several weeks agitating for a transfer.

The agent, Walter Tamer, has stated that it would be a "dream" for his client to move to San Siro.
(Source : Guardian Football website )

Mascherano, who has been unsettled at Anfield for some time, missed Liverpool's pre-season training camp because he was given time to recover from the World Cup. Hodgson is expected to demand at least £25m for the 26-year-old, who was Argentina's captain in South Africa.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Kaiserslautern 1 Liverpool 0

New signing Milan Jovanovic made a 45-minute debut for Liverpool as a largely inexperienced reserve side lost 1-0 to Kaiserslautern in Germany.

Jovanovic was one of only two members of the squad who had played at the World Cup, the other being defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos who lasted 77 minutes.

The only goal came in the 32nd minute Jiri Bilkey beat Daniel Ayala to the ball before crossing for Micanski to extravagantly flick home from six yards.

Manager Roy Hodgson now prepares to start his competitive career with Liverpool, facing a Europa League third round qualifier against Macedonian side FK Rabotnicki in Skopje on Thursday 29th July without many of his first-team stars.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Didier Drogba undergoes groin operation - misses 3-4 weeks

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba is likely to miss the start of the English football season after undergoing a groin operation.

Chelsea  described the procedure performed on the Ivory Coast international as "minimally invasive and it is expected that Drogba, who is now 31 years old, will return to full training in about three weeks.

But that estimate would certainly put him out of the English Community Shield match against Manchester United on 8th August and probably the start of the Premier League campaign.

( Source : BBC Sport Website )

Friday, July 23, 2010

Manchester United season ticket sales down - 4,000 go on general sale.

Manchester United have been forced to place 4,000 Old Trafford season tickets on general sale.

Earlier this week United said 50,000 season tickets had been sold, a milestone seen as a victory for the Glazer family against protesting fans.

The "Green and Gold" protest movement - unhappy at the club's debt level under its American owners - became a visible presence at Old Trafford last season.

Fans' groups say United has suffered a marked fall in year-on-year sales. Manchester United sold 64,000 season tickets two years ago, of which 8,000 were all-important premium tickets - hospitality and VIP sales - and only 500 fewer last season.

This season sales were thought to be "5,000-10,000 down on last year", due to the combined threats of discontent with the Glazer regime and the wider economic situation.

With booming ticket sales at Manchester City - albeit from a much lower base than United - and solid sales at rivals such as Arsenal - this situation with the Glazer ownership does seem to be having an impact on the club.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Eduardo leaves Arsenal for Shaktar Donetsk

Croatia striker Eduardo completed a £6million move to Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday, ending his three-year stay with the Gunners.

Eduardo has expressed his sadness at leaving Arsenal and thanked the club for nursing him back to health following his horror injury.

Much of the 27-year-old's career at the Emirates was spent recovering from a horrendous broken leg and dislocated ankle suffered at Birmingham in February 2008 following a controversial challenge by Martin Taylor.

Eduardo wrote on Arsenal's official website : "The past few days have been very emotional for me.

"Although I am excited about the challenge ahead with my new club Shakhtar Donetsk, I am so sad to be leaving my home for the past three years - Arsenal Football Club.

"Arsenal is a very special football club and I will miss so many people - my team-mates, all the staff and, of course, the wonderful Arsenal supporters.

"When I first came to England, I could not speak the language and knew nobody, but as soon as I arrived I was made to feel at home and part of this big family.

"I had some very difficult times with my injury, but Arsenal was always there for me - the medical staff, the management, the players and the supporters. Thank you everybody.

"Although I have now left the club, Arsenal will always be in my heart. I will always look for the Arsenal results and of course, I wish Arsene Wenger and the great players at the club well for next season and the future."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Win tickets to see Arsenal at the 2010 Emirates Cup

Emirates Stadium is once again playing host to the Emirates Cup in pre-season, and Lyon, AC Milan and Celtic are invited to this seasons tourney.

Arsenal line-up against AC Milan on the Saturday (kick off 4.20pm, Sat 31st July) and then bring the tournament to an exciting finish by playing Celtic on the Sunday (kick off 4.20pm, Sun, 1st Aug).

You can win tickets to both days at the Guardian's online website and it's free to enter - but you have to have entered by 1pm on Thursday, 22nd July.

BTW : The answer to their skill question - Arsene Wenger is the current Arsenal Manager !!

Good luck.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Martin Jol to stay managing Ajax - Fulham to keep searching

Ajax manager Martin Jol is going to remain in Amsterdam with Ajax, and will not be switching clubs to manager English Premier League side Fulham.

English newspapers and bookmakers were making Jol out as Fulham's first choice to replace Roy Hodgson, who has joined Liverpool, but the Dutchman has said he will remain in Amsterdam after talks with the Ajax hierarchy.

"They (Fulham) were interested but in principle I will stay at Ajax," Jol told Amsterdam-based newspaper De Telegraaf.

Jol has had talks with Ajax financial director Jeroen Slop and chief executive Rik van den Boog, and Jol has been reassured he can bring in a cheap options and then spend more if the likes of Gregory van der Wiel and Uruguay striker Luis Suarez leave.

Joe Cole signs for Liverpool

Liverpool have signed Joe Cole on a four-year deal - subject to a medical - following his release by Chelsea.

The part-time England midfielder left Stamford Bridge in June after failing to agree a new contract with the Premier League champions.

Cole was initially linked to Arsenal and then to Tottenham but instead Cole has opted for the lure of hard cash over top quality football in deciding to sign for Liverpool, who failed to qualify for the Champions League.

Perhaps that's understandable, as at 28 years old, Cole really did only have one final pay-day available and this contract will take him through to 2014 and a nice little earner through to the ripe old age of 32.

The West Ham academy graduate becomes Liverpool's second summer signing after Serbia forward Milan Jovanovic arrived on a three-year contract from Standard Liege.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Shane Smeltz bails out of China transfer in just five days

New Zealand striker Shane Smeltz has taken five days to decide that playing in China was not for him - or should that be his wife?

After New Zealand played in the World Cup, and battling to three draws, the local newspapers were full of stories of how every player, and manager Ricki Herbert, would be a transfer target for "big European clubs".

It seemed unlikely, as by-and-large all three New Zealand results were pretty much a "park the bus" and "defend to the death" approach that was emotionally intense and a feel-good underdog story, but also quite technically deficient.

Eventually, a single transfer was announced. Not to europe, but striker Shane Smeltz who plays for Australian A-League club Gold Coast announced that he would be packing his bags and plying his trade in China for Shandong Luneng.

I was surprised. Smeltz had recently moved out of New Zealand's only professional club the Wellington Phoenix, and an oft-quoted reason had been that his Australian wife and family could not adapt to the cold, windy climate and preferred the home envirnonment of the sunny Gold Coast of Australia.

Now, while New Zealand and the Gold Coast of Australia are climatically a bit different, they are culturally quite similar, and I did wonder how Smeltz and his family would adapt - or whether he was prepared to leave them in Australia as he tried to further his career.

Five days on and we know : a Baidu sports news search was this, which starts out with:
在山东鲁能和新西兰前 锋斯梅尔茨完成签约后,在当地时间7月17日早晨,澳大利亚的《黄金海岸报》惊曝 斯梅尔茨因为不适应在中国的生活,欲取消转会重回老东家黄金海岸。

After completing the signing of the contract between New Zealand striker Smeltz and Shandong Luneng, on the morning of July 17 local time, Australia’s Gold Coast Bulletin suddenly revealed that because Smeltz couldn’t adapt to life in China, he wanted to go back to his old boss Gold Coast.

And later adds this:

The report said that Smeltz’s wife Nikki and two children were not very satisfied with China’s living conditions and had no confidence in their future lives in Jinan. This is the basic reason bringing Smeltz to change his mind.
Source Bezdomny ex patria

What a turnaround in a month. From playing at the World Cup Finals, and scoring a goal against holders Italy - to slinking out of a contract because you don't like the taste of the local noodles !

It's a tough life as a journeyman professional footballer eh?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fabregas to stay at Arsenal this season - Barca are broke

Cesc Fabregas is now very likely to stay at Arsenal as Barcelona admitted they may have to wait until next year to try to prise him away from Arsenal.

Barca had a reported 35million euro bid for the 23-year-old midfielder turned down by the Gunners earlier this summer, but despite this the bookmaker odds about Fabregas making the switch to the Spanish champions had dropped to as short as 1/20 at the beginning of June.

Continued gassip and gabble from Barcelona players and officials attempting to "tap-up" Fabregas continued throughout the World Cup and took another twist during the country's World Cup celebrations when Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique jokingly forced a Barcelona shirt over him.

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell now admits that there are currently no talks between the two sides over a deal for the Gunners captain, who was in their youth system but moved to North London at the age of 16.

Rosell said to Catalan TV3. "They don't want to listen to offers or sell and they are not putting the player (Fabregas) on the market. There was a strong dispute a few months ago and they have not forgotten it.". In an attempt to save face - having run for Barcelona's presidency by promising Fabregas's transfer to Barcelona - Rosell continued "Fabregas will arrive, even if it is not now, it will be next year. We will see."

Bookmakers and betting exchanges have immmediately reacted by pricing Fabragas at around 2/1 (3.00) to move now - reflecting the humiliating public backdown from Rosell.

Of course, the underlying message is that Barcelona are now broke, despite all the success on the field, the excessive wages and transfer fees have put the club 400 million Euros in debt during the last seven years.

Barca have had to loan 150 million euros to pay wages and fund operations during the close season and simply cannot afford the 60-70 million euros that Fabregas is worth.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

David Silva arrives at Manchester City aiming for a top four finish in England

David Silva has joined Manchester City from Valencia in a five-year deal reportedly worth £24 million.

Silva arrived at his new club to complete a medical after helping Spain to their maiden World Cup success in South Africa. The 24-year-old's move to City was announced while he was on World Cup duty.

That contract was enough to prise Silva away from his boyhood club Valencia, where he signed as a 14-year-old, and he hopes to make an immediate impression in his new surroundings after Roberto Mancini's richly-assembled squad narrowly missed out on a Champions League place last season.

"I am looking forward to starting the season with my new team, I'm excited about my new team," Silva told Manchesters City's official website

"And I will be happy if at the end we are in the Champions League - or if we win a trophy.

Thierry Henry leaves Barcelona to play for New York Red Bulls

France striker Thierry Henry has signed for Major League Soccer side New York Red Bulls from Barcelona.

The former Arsenal captain is now 32, and is expected to make his debut for Red Bulls in a friendly against Tottenham in the United States on 22 July.

Henry signed for Barcelona in 2007 and had one year remaining on his contract but the club agreed to let him leave.

After falling out of favour at Barcelona last season and enduring a torrid World Cup, where France failed to progress past the group stages, Henry is excited about the prospect of a new challenge in the United States.

Henry said: "This marks an exciting new chapter in my career and life." - I'm not sure if I beleive that - but anything is better than sitting on the bench at Barcelona eh?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Paddy Power refund €500,000 on World Cup Final

It may not have been a vintage World Cup Final but it was definitely one to forget for top bookie Paddy Power who had pledged to refund a massive range of losing bets on the Final if it finished 0-0.

The goal-less draw after ninty-three minutes of scoreless action triggered the costly refund which saw the bookmaker return a staggering €500,000 back into its punters pockets.

Brazil Installed As Favourites For 2014 World Cup

Looking ahead to 2014 and despite tonight’s all European World Cup Final five time champions Brazil have been installed as Paddy Power's favourites to win the next World Cup.

With home advantage in 2014 the Samba Kings are currently 3/1 with Paddy Power to win a record six FIFA World Cup Championships ahead of Argentina at 11/2 and resigning World Cup champions Spain at 13/2. England are considered 14/1 shots while Ireland are massive 125/1 outsiders.

2014 WORLD CUP Outright Betting

3/1 Brazil
11/2 Argentina
13/2 Spain
10/1 Germany
12/1 Holland
16/1 Italy
14/1 England
20/1 France
25/1 Portugal
40/1 Uruguay
40/1 Chile
40/1 Russia
50/1 Ivory Coast

Paddy Power for top quality football betting

China tipped to meet ETs first says Irish bookmaker!

Leading bookmaker, Paddy Power, has today slashed the odds on China being the first country to establish first contact with extraterrestrial life following strong betting patterns in support of the East Asian giant.

China was available at odds of 6/1 for first contact before the weekend but has been cut into 4/1 second favourite following several large bets including one of €500.

The betting frenzy was sparked by reports on Friday of a UFO soaring across the night sky over South East China which forced Xiaoshan International Airport to ground several flights to avoid a collision.

While the Chinese government has remained tight-lipped, punters wasted no time backing China which has resulted in Paddy Power facing a payout in excess of €25,000 should they be proved correct.

The USA remains the bookies narrow favourite at odds of 3/1 with Ireland at 9/2 and Russia at 5/1. Paddy Power have also slashed the odds of extraterrestrial life being proven by 2013 from 100/1 to 33/1.

Which country will have First Contact with ET?

3/1 USA
4/1 China (From 6/1)
9/2 Ireland (From 9/4)
5/1 Russia
8/1 England
10/1 Australia
12/1 Brazil
12/1 Spain
14/1 France
16/1 Germany
18/1 South Africa
20/1 Wales
25/1 Scotland

Check out the latest betting options for ALL sorts of bets at Paddy Power now

Sunday, July 11, 2010

World Cup Final : Spain 1-0 Netherlands (AET)

Andres Iniesta's 116th minute goal won Spain the World Cup for the first time after they edged out the Netherlands in a scrappy, nervous, stop-start match in Johannesburg.

The game was a disappointment throughout - but Iniesta volleyed a pinpoint pass from Cesc Fabregas into the net from six yards out to claim the World Cup for Spain.

It was just about a deserved win for Spain who did dominate possession, although Spain won few friends with a display of theatrical dives, rolls, screams, and over-reactions for much of the 120 minutes. Hardly a heroic display.

The World Cup is over for four more years, and frankly not a moment to soon. FIFA do need to find a way to get the histrionics out of the game before Brazil in 2014, probably by giving the referee some sort of access to video replay technology.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

3rd Place Match : Germany 3-2 Uruguay

Sami Khedira nodded in a late winner as Germany beat Uruguay 3-2 in Port Elizabeth to finish in third place.

Germany started well when Thomas Mueller produced a straightforward follow-up finish after Fernando Muslera could only parry a long-range drive from Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Uruguay forced their way back into the game with Edinson Cavani finishing a classy counter-attack after Schweinsteiger was robbed in midfield.

Diego Forlan put Uruguay ahead with an acrobatic volley shortly after half-time, smashing the ball into the wet turf and it speed into the net at chest height at some pace.

But Germany equalised within 5 minutes, with Marcell Jansen leaping above keeper Muslera to nod home a quick reply.

With 8 minutes left, Sami Khedira capitalised on a goalmouth scramble from a Mesut Ozil corner to head home a goal that ensured Germany would end their tournament on a happy note.


1-0 Thomas Mueller, 18
1-1 Edinson Cavani, 28
1-2 Diego Forlan, 51
2-2 Marcell Jansen, 56
3-2 Sami Khedira, 82

Friday, July 09, 2010

Spain to win World Cup - according to Octopus !

BREAKING NEWS! Spain will win the World Cup.

And you know why? Yep, Paul the Psychic Octopus has chosen. Well, he's actually just eaten a mussel out of a box with a Spain flag on it, which amounts to the same thing.

Spain are favourites to win the World Cup, priced at 6/5 (2.20) to win in normal time and a general 4/7 (1.56) to lift the trophy - and if either event occurs then I'm sure Paul's fans will class it as a victory for the powers of psychic octopi.

Germany will beat Uruguay for 3rd place

Paul the Psychic Octopus has tipped Germany to win the World Cup third/fourth place play-off against Uruguay.

Paul has six correct picks from six tips for Germany's World Cup games so far in 2010, so punters who reckon he'll make that a magnificent seven should hoover up the 4/5 (1.80) available on a German win at bet365 and Paddy Power.

Paul the Octopus WILL predict the World Cup Final

World Cup picks
Paul, the octopus oracle who has correctly predicted the outcome of every World Cup match played by Germany, is branching out and will be allowed to make a pick on the final between Spain and the Netherlands.

The Oberhausen Sea Life Aquarium confirmed Thursday that Paul will cast his suction-cupped arms wider in his next prognostication and for the first time pick a game in which his home country is not involved.

Aquarium spokeswoman Tanja Munzig says the floppy football fan will make his choice on the Germany v Uruguay match Friday morning, then pick the winner of Sunday's final between Spain and Holland in Johannesburg.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Howard Webb (England) to referee World Cup Final

England's Howard Webb will be the referee for the World Cup final.

The 38-year-old referee from Rotherham has been chosen for the final by Fifa's referees committee. Webb will become the first Englishman to referee the final since Jack Taylor in 1974.

Webb and his assistants Darren Cann and Michael Mullarkey will officiate in the final on Sunday between Spain and Holland at Johannesburg's Soccer City.

The Dutch may be hoping Webb is not an omen of their losing 1974 final against Germany when English referee Taylor awarded two penalties in the match, one of which was in the first minute.

Top bookmaker Paddy Power make Howard Webb 5/2 (3.50) to award a penalty.

Barcelona are broke and needed emergency loan to pay wages in June

Barcelona football club have had to take out an emergency €150m loan to keep the club liquid after failing to pay players and staff at the end of June.

New club president Sandro Rosell acknowledged that the club has liquidity problems and needed the loan to pay players.

(see BBC sport report)

This tells you everything you need to know about Barcelona football club and their approach over the last decade of buying stars to compete with Real Madrid. It's succeeded on the pitch but at what cost?

Despite carving up the Spanish TV market in combination with the Madridsta's and thus condemning the other 16 members of the Spanish Primera to long-term mediocrity, the Catalan club is broke.

We may be seeing the start of a collapse in the established order in Spain, and perhaps elsewhere in Europe if UEFA get their way and have financial checks before allowing teams to compete in the Champions League and/or Europa League.

Semi-finals : Spain 1-0 Germany

Spain reached the World Cup final for the first time after a second-half header from Carles Puyol secured a 1-0 victory over Germany after an strategic tussle in Durban.

Spain deserved their victory after controlling huge periods of the match, but once again it was far from a classic performance. The team improved on their scrappy performance against Paraguay in the previous round but still struggled to carve out clear openings.

The winning goal came when Puyol showed headed home Xavi's corner in the 73rd minute.

Spain will now play the Netherlands in Sunday's final at Soccer City.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Paul the Octopus picks Spain to beat Germany in World Cup semi-final

The eight-legged oracle has spoken: Paul the octopus says Spain will beat Germany in their World Cup football semifinal.

The floppy soccer fan from Oberhausen's Sea Life Aquarium today chose a mussel from a glass tank marked with a Spanish flag and ignored a tank emblazoned with Germany's colors, spokesman Daniel Fey said.

Paul, a two-year-old British born octopus with a purple-yellowish complexion and hundreds of suckers, wrapped himself around a pole between the two tanks, occasionally extending several of his eight legs toward the German glass before moving his whole body onto the Spanish side.

"Once he sat on top of the Spanish glass, he opened the lid with one tentacle and grabbed the mussel with another one," Fey said.

Paul's record at this World Cup has been flawless so far. In the first round of play, he correctly predicted German victories over Australia and Ghana and the country's loss to Serbia.

England and Argentina then were beaten in the next two rounds to match Paul's predictions that Germany would win.

If Germany win the semifinal despite Paul's prediction, the octopus will be allowed to predict the outcome of Sunday's final as well, Fey said

Best World Cup Semi-final Odds

Here are the best betting lines available from the best bookmakers on the planet :
Germany - 2.90 @ PinnacleSports, 2.88 @ BetFred, 2.80 @ Bet365

Draw - 3.30 @ Ladbrokes, 3.25 @ Centrebet

Spain - 2.70 @ Interwetten, 2.65 @ Betsson, 2.63 @ Bet365

Semi-finals : Netherlands 3-2 Uruguay

The Netherlands held on to beat Uruguay 3-2 and reach their first World Cup final since 1978.

The Oranje took the lead when Giovanni van Bronckhorst lashed in, only for Diego Forlan to level for Uruguay from long range before halftime.

Wesley Sneijder restored the Dutch's lead despite striker Robin van Persie appearing to be offside, and an Arjen Robben header made 3-1 three minutes later.

Maxi Pereira curled in a shot from the edge of the penalty area in injury time to set up a late rally, but the Dutch held on to earn a final with Spain or Germany.


1-0 - Van Bronckhorst, 18
1-1 - Forlan, 41
2-1 - Sneijder, 70
3-1 - Robben, 73
3-2 - Pereira, 90+2

Sunday, July 04, 2010

World Cup Semi-final Betting

So after an incident packed Quarter-Final round, the stage is set for a pair of classic semi-finals with three European nations.

Holland v Uruguay

Holland and Uruguay will face off in the first semi-final on July 6th in Cape Town, with the Dutch side marked up as strong favourties to progress to the final.

Holland have won all five matches so far, beating Denmark (2-0), Japan (1-0), Cameroon (2-1), Slovakia (2-1) and of course Brazil (2-1).

Uruguay are still unbeaten, although the "Light BLues" have been less impressive, starting with a draw against France (0-0), and wins over South Africa (3-0) and Mexico (1-0). The knockout stages saw South Korea defeated 2-1, and then a penalty shoot-out win over Ghana.

- Holland 1.70 -- Draw 3.50 -- Uruguay 5.50


Spain v Germany

While 2008 European Champions Spain and 2008 Runners-up Germany will face each other again on July 7th for the other final spot.

Both sides went through the group phase with a 2 win / 1 loss record to top the group, but it is the Germans who have been more impressive in knockout play beating England 4-1, and Argentina 4-0.

In comparison Spain's efforts in beating Portugal 1-0, and Paraguay 1-0 have been quite lacklustre affairs, although in most part it must be said that this has been because of very defesive opponents.

- Spain 2.50 -- Draw 3.20 -- Germany 2.87

World Cup Outright Odds - Semi-final stage

Despite having to face Germany in the semi-finals, it's Spain that are still the favourites at the bookmakers to win the World Cup - with Uruguay the marked outsiders priced up at 11/1.

Spain 2.87
Holland 3.00
Germany 3.20
Uruguay 12.00

All odds taken from Paddy Power - check them out now

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Quarter-Finals - Spain 1-0 Paraguay

Spain beat Paraguay 1-0 to move into the World Cup semi-finals in a game that was disappointing - apart from a weird penalty ridden three minutes.

Spain dominated the first half without creating much as Paraguay sat deep and were content to get to halftime with the game scoreless.

Paraguay missed a superb chance to take the lead in the 57th minute when Oscar Cardozo's spot-kick was saved by Iker Casillas, and a minute later Spain had also been awarded a penalty by referee Carlos Batres.

This time Xabi Alonso scored from the spot ... but ... the referee ruled it out due to obvious encroachment from 3 Spanish players, and the Alonso re-take was saved by goalkeeper Justo Villar.

In the ensuring scramble the keeper appeared to foul Cesc Fabregas from the rebound, but the referee was unsighted and Sergio Ramos's snapshot was blocked on the line.

Spain started to create more with Fabregas instrumental in giving Spain more movement, and David Villa eventually got the only goal of the game after 82 minutes - side footing a rebound that struck one post, rolled across the goal-line and hit the other post, before finally nestling in the net.

In truth, it was a brief flurry of excitement that was largely out of kilter during a game that saw relatively few other opportunities.

Quarter-Finals - Germany 4-0 Argentina

Germany tore Argentina to pieces, thrashing the South Americans 4-0 to book their place in the semi-finals.

Germany scored four goals for the third game at this tournament in an patient display with devastating counter-attacking.

Thomas Mueller scored with a 3rd minute header from a Bastian Schweinsteiger free-kick, and then Germany had to cope with a strong Argentine response which had the European side pushed back for extended periods of the first half.

But, after wave after wave of Argentina attacks had been frustrated, Germany hit back with a lethal sucker-punch with two goals in quick succession.

First, Lukas Podolski burst into the box down the left and squared to give Miroslav Klose the easiest of tap-ins to make it 2-0, with the striker walking the ball over the line.

Then Schweinsteiger weaved his way down the same flank and crossed for Arne Freidrich to bundle the ball in at the near post.

The final goal went to Klose, who volleyed home Germany's fourth from Mesut Oezil's cross in the last minute - it's Klose's 14th World Cup goal.

Germany are through to the semi-finals - again.

Goal Scorers

Thomas Mueller, 3
Miroslav Klose, 67, 89
Arne Freidrich, 74

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Friday, July 02, 2010

Quarter-Finals : Uruguay 1-1 Ghana (4-2 pens)

Uruguay reached the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time since 1970, after eliminating Ghana on a penalty shoot-out.

Sulley Muntari struck a long-range opener for Ghana on the stroke of half-time, while the impressive Diego Forlan equalised for Uruguay with a free-kick 10 minutes after the restart.

Extra-time seemed destined to remain scoreless until Luis Suarez deliberately handled a shot on the goal line in the dying seconds of extra-time.

However, striker Asamoah Gyan, who had already converted two penalties in South Africa, missed the penalty, hitting the top of the crossbar with the last kick of the game to send the match to a penalty shootout..

Gyan stepped up to take the first spot-kick of the shoot-out and scored, but team mates John Mensah and Dominic Adiyiah both had their efforts saved by Fernando Muslera.

Sebsatian Abreu then showed iced-cold composure to dink the decisive penalty beyond Richard Kingson as Uruguay sealed a semi-final tie against the Netherlands.

Quarter-Finals : Netherlands 2-1 Brazil

The Netherlands produced a stunning second-half comeback to beat Brazil 2-1 and reach the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup.

Brazil took an early 10th minute lead through Robinho's cool finish, the pre-tournament favourites were lloking comfortable at halftime with a 1-0 lead.

The Dutch found an equaliser that completely changed the course of the game. Wesley Sneijder whipped in a cross from the right after a quick free-kick and goalkeeper Julio Cesar failed to punch clear, colliding with Felipe Melo and the ball flicked off his team-mate's head and flew into the net.

The winning goal came in the 68th minute after Dirk Kuyt flicked on Robben's corner at the near post and Sneijder headed in, sending the army of Oranje fans at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium wild.

Brazil found themselves in even deeper trouble when Felipe Melo saw red for stamping on Arjen Robben with 17 minutes to go and, although Dunga's side gave everything in a thrilling finale, they crashed out in the quarter-finals for the second successive tournament.

It is the Netherlands who will go forward to play Uruguay or Ghana in the semi-finals.


Brazil : Robinho, 10
Netherlands : Felipe Melo (og), 53
Netherlands : Sneijder, 68

Thursday, July 01, 2010

FIFA announce referees for Quarter-Finals

FIFA have announced the refereeing assignments for the four Quarter-Finals in South Africa - and there are several surprises.

Friday July 2

Holland v Brazil - Yuichi Nishimura (Jpn)
Uruguay v Ghana - Olegario Benquerenca (Por)

Saturday July 3

Argentina v Germany - Ravshan Irmatov (Uzb)
Paraguay v Spain - Carlos Batres (Gua)

It's interesting to note that FIFA seem to have decided to remove any question of continental bias amongst referees with appointments of referees outside the playing confederations for all four clashes.

The three quarter-finals between Europe and South America will be refereed by two Asian referees - from Japan and Uzbekistan - and one CONCACAF referee from Guatemala.

While the clash between Uruguay and Ghana will be refereed by the sole UEFA referee - Benquerenca of Portugal.

Are these the best officials possible or have FIFA made a mistake in want to appear completely neutral? We will see

World Cup 2010 Q/Fs - A look at the Outright Winner

So here we go with the Quarter-Finals - and it's a good time to take a look at the outright markets and see if we can pick a likely winner.

Quarter-Final Draw :

Friday 2nd July :
- 4:00pm Netherlands v Brazil
- 8:30pm Uruguay v Ghana

Saturday 3rd July :
- 4:00pm Argentina v Germany
- 8:30pm Paraguay v Spain

(all times local South Africa, BST is -1, US ET -6, AUST +8 NZT +10)

There will then be a two day break before the semi-finals on the 6th and 7th of July, with the first two quarter-final winners meeting in the first semi-final.

Best Betting Odds For Outright Winner :

Brazil 3.50 (+250) at Paddy Power
Spain 4.00 (+300) at Eurobet
Argentina 5.75 (+475) at PinnacleSports
Germany 8.00 (+700) at Bet365
Netherlands 8.50 (+750) at Victor Chandler


My view is that Spain probably have the easiest Quarter-Final matchup against Paraguay, but then may then have to beat both Argentina and Brazil in order to win the World Cup - a very tough ask for a side that does not yet look to be back to their form in 2008 when they won the European Championships.

Argentina get no favours at all with a likely run of Germany, Spain and Brazil in order to claim the title - that's also a very tough list of fixtures, and Argentina ALWAYS seem to have issues with both Germany and Brazil.

Germany and the Netherlands have done enough to progress so far - without looking like World Champions - and both sides have to play very well to get past their quarter-final opponents - and even then that might not be enough - so both teams drop out of my consideration.

So I'm left with Brazil - who should have enough in attack to get past the Netherlands - and then will be favoured by the easiest semi-final opposition of either Uruguay or Ghana.

Brazil to win it for my money then - although all five of those listed teams have a chance. What do you think ?