All Balls Don’t Bounce

Completely Random Sports Non Sequiturs From A Completely Random Hip Hop Head

Posts Tagged ‘atletico madrid’

Champions League Group Stage Draw

Posted by hiphopmama on August 27, 2009

Once you recover from the cleverness of the title of this post, continue on to find out the eight groups set up by today’s draw for the next phase of the UEFA Champions League, followed by my thoughts on them. Go on, treat yourself.

Group A
Bayern Munich
Juventus
Bordeaux
Maccabi Haifa

I can’t see Juventus having too many problems making their way through to the knock-out rounds in this group. No offense to either Bayern or Bordeaux, who will present tricky match-ups at the very least, but none of these teams has the same quality as Juve. Munich is the likely favorite to go through in the second spot, but look out for current Ligue 1 champions Bordeaux to challenge all parties.

Group B
Manchester United
CSKA Moscow
Besiktas
Wolfsburg

Sir Alex is sitting pretty after drawing this group, as Manchester United won’t face a single team from either Italy, Spain, or France, although they do have to contend with Bundesliga champs VFL Wolfsburg and Russian Premier League runners-up CSKA Moscow. Still, the Mancs should have little difficulty navigating this group, although I would love to see a shock results from the German upstart club.

Group C
AC Milan
Real Madrid
Marseille
Zurich

Humdinger of a match-up in this one, as Kaka makes his first return to the San Siro since moving to Real Madrid. Marseille are a very high-quality third team as well, so this one should be interesting till the end. It’s a tough group to predict in some ways, because we have little indication as to how the retooled teams of AC Milan and Real Madrid will perform this season. Milan’s opening day win over Siena was convincing enough, and Real Madrid’s preseason form was fairly encouraging, but real competitive play is another story altogether so we’ll have to see. Group C will definitely have some of the best storylines, though, no matter the outcome.

Group D
Chelsea
Porto
Atletico Madrid
APOEL Nicosia

This is one of just two groups that has three teams I could legitimately see getting through. You have to feel Chelsea are a lock, but both Porto and Atletico have equal claim on that second spot in my mind, at least for now. If Atletico’s strikers maintain the level of form they had last year, and if their back line can achieve some semblance of solidity, they should sneak through. But Porto are always tough at home and will be looking to secure their own place.

Group E
Liverpool
Lyon
Fiorentina
Debrecen

This is the other group with a three-way traffic jam at the top. Once again, the English team is the clear favorite, but Lyon and Fiorentina will really duke it out as well. Lyon will be playing to prove something after being knocked off the top spot in Ligue 1 by Bordeaux after seven straight years at number one, and finally breaking through in European play would help in that regard. I still expect the Viola to top them, though, and bolster the Italian presence in the quarterfinals.

Group F
Barcelona
Inter Milan
Rubin Kazan
Dynamo Kyiv

In case you needed any more Spain-Italy drama, you’ll get to see Eto’o and Ibrahimovic face each other after swapping teams as Barcelona and Inter face off in this easiest of groups to pick. Inter are the favorites to defend their Serie A crown, and Barça are favorites to win just about everything else, so unless they somehow cancel each other out, both will be waiting for the next draw for the knock-out stage.

Group G
Sevilla
Stuttgart
Rangers
Unirea Urziceni

This is the bland kind of grouping that convinces me that UEFA isn’t fixing these things, at least not at this early stage in the tournament. The lack of star power doesn’t mean a lack in quality, though, as Sevilla have a very solid team and Stuttgart have some big name players as well. Granted, most of them are cast-offs from bigger teams (Jens Lehman, Alexander Hleb), but the Germans will still have something to say about the outcome of this one. I’m happy to see Sevilla with a relatively clear path to the quarters here. They deserve it after all their workmanlike effort in La Liga, and more people need to see Jesus Navas. Wow.

Group H
Arsenal
AZ Alkmaar
Olympiacos
Standard Liege

As an Arsenal fan, I am more than pleased with the draw they got. As with ManU, they won’t have any competition from the biggest leagues (in Arsenal’s case, no Spain, Italy, France, or Germany). AZ Alkmaar and Standard Liege are the champs of their respective leagues, and Athens is always a tough place to play against Olympiacos, but with no Real Madrid, Inter, Juve, etc., you’ve got to think they got off easier. Hopefully they can lock up their spot relatively early and not have to bank on getting a result in Athens in that final game.

So that’s that. Barcelona-Inter and Real Madrid-AC Milan are the headliners of this group stage, which should mean some good head-to-head match-ups but with each team still making it through to the quarterfinals. I never completely understood how they set up the qualifying rounds, but it has indeed opened the way for some teams we wouldn’t normally see, a number of whom have a real shot to make it out of the group stage. Aside from pulling for Arsenal, I’m hoping for a good showing from the Spanish sides, because it’s about time La Liga started making a stronger showing outside of just the big two. Sevilla look poised to move on, and Atletico will like their chances as well, so we shall see. I don’t know how I’m going to wait till September 15th-16th to get this thing rolling.

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Random Notes

Posted by hiphopmama on March 16, 2009

Sssabrosa!

Sssabrosa!

I’m too lazy to write anything coherent, and there’s nothing particularly new to report anyway, so here are some stream-of-consciousness ramblings. I can’t promise they’re all relevant to this blog’s usual subject matter.

  • Kobe Bryant was named Western Conference Player of the Week, with Lebron James picking up the Eastern Conference nod. MVP race, anyone?
  • Good piece over at the LA Times Lakers Blog about why the Lakers should be hoping for a first round match-up with Dallas. The main argument is that we match up well with them, with Gasol guarding Nowitzki and no one to pick up Pau. It doesn’t hold up quite as well if Josh Howard is healthy, because the small backcourt advantage can be neutralized, but they still make some good points. I think the biggest reason we would want to see the Mavs in the playoffs is because we own them psychologically. And because I love to see that sad clown look on their Neanderthal coach’s face when we beat them. Poor little millionaire.
  • Buying a house is way too involved a process. I can’t really complain because we have a bomb real estate agent helping us along, but the whole system feels like it’s set up to trap you in some legal hole that you didn’t see coming. And we wonder how we got into this real estate mess…
  • Barcelona should sign Diego Lopez. I know they’re making overtures to Chelsea for Petr Cech and they certainly do need to upgrade their current model, but they don’t need to go too far to find a suitable replacement keeper. I saw some amazing stuff from two Diegos in goal this weekend – Atletico’s Lopez and Almeria’s Alves – both of whom looked sprightly and assured between the pipes. Their confidence in securing dangerous balls and their athleticism in making amazing stops were in stark contrast to the uneasiness you feel when the ball approaches Valdes in the box. He’s decent enough, but for that team he just doesn’t cut it, especially when you make the inevitable comparison to his Real Madrid counterpart. Then again, no one holds very well in that test.
  • The-Dream’s new album “Love vs. Money” is really fucking good. For the first time in 2009 there are finally multiple albums coming out (and/or leaking, I won’t specify which) that I want to hear, but I can’t get to them because I am so stuck on this new Dream shit. This man has some kind of Midas touch. His songwriting is so good I even like the track with Mariah on it. And don’t even get me started on all the hilarious one-liners on here. My favorite changes daily, but right now I’m stuck on, “I’m all up on you like a white tee on a thug.” Or maybe, “Your body’s the cup, my body’s the coffee, and I’m brewin’ it, while we’re doin’ it, to Kelly’s 12 Play.” He works his formula for all it’s worth (“ella, ella, eh, eh”), but it never gets old. He can brew my coffee any day.
  • Is there a better name in all of sports than Simao Sabrosa? I just can’t get over that one. And with his scintillating free kicks, the names feels so appropriate, which makes it even better. The thing that gets me is that he goes by “Simao,” which appears on his jersey. If any of my names was Sabrosa, I would refuse to be called anything else. I would’ve been that obnoxious kid during roll call. Substitute: “Simao?” Me: “Sabrosa, please. Thanks.” 

And I’m spent. Off to enjoy some Easter candy that probably won’t make it to Easter. Till the 76ers tomorrow.

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Champions League Draw

Posted by hiphopmama on December 19, 2008

  • Atletico Madrid – Porto
  • Lyon – Barcelona
  • Arsenal – Roma
  • Inter – Manchester Utd
  • Real Madrid – Liverpool
  • Chelsea – Juventus
  • Villarreal – Panathinaikos
  • Sporting Lisbon – Bayern Munich

There are a few conspicuous things about these pairings. The first is the fact that the three Serie A teams drew Premier League opponents. Based on the performance of English teams in the Champions League in recent years, this wouldn’t seem to bode well for the Italians. However, looking at the match-ups individually paints a slightly better picture for the Serie A squads. Roma will take on an Arsenal team that has yet to really find its bearings this season. Unfortunately for Roma, the Gunners have played their best games against quality opponents, so that might be nullified. This has the potential to be one of the best match-ups because both teams play such open games. Juventus-Chelsea has the most back story to it, with Claudio Ranieri taking on his former team at Stamford Bridge, about which Ranieri said, “I can’t say I’m happy.” The biggest battle of all will be between Inter and Manchester United, two powerhouses currently playing well and expecting to go far in this competition. United are the reigning champions in Europe, but they are only just starting to hit their stride. Inter, on the other hand, came on like gangbusters only to slow down the slightest bit of late. This is an impossible one for me to watch because there is no one to root for. I am always looking for someone to upend Inter and their Special coach, but I cannot get myself to pull for Fergie and Ronaldo, so it will be Forza Inter in that one. 

The other noticeable thing in all this is the pairing of the non-biggies with each other. The match-ups of Atletico-Porto, Sporting-Bayern, and Villarreal-Panathinaikos all feature two teams who would be expected to fall by the wayside against the top-tier teams playing each other in the other ties. Because of how the draw came out, three of those teams will make it to the next round, while either Chelsea or Juventus, Inter or Man Utd, Real Madrid or Liverpool, Arsenal or Roma will be knocked out. It will make for a different look to the later rounds, that’s for sure.

Oh yeah, and Barcelona will play Lyon. It’s no disrespect to Lyon that it barely warrants a mention. Pretty much any opposition would elicit that reaction because of how incredible Barça have been playing. Let’s just say I don’t foresee any hicc-ups for the Catalans, although I’m sure Guardiola will convince them otherwise to ensure a good performance from his team.

As a fan of Arsenal (and secondarily Chelsea) in England and Real Madrid in Spain, I am at least satisfied with the draw. Liverpool is always a tough out in European play, but with a team that will hopefully be rejuvenated both through injury recoveries and new players, it’s a match-up Real can win. Roma is no push-over and they have been playing much better of late, but Arsenal could have faced much worse. As for Serie A, my team – AC Milan – didn’t even make it to the Champions League this year, so my only real interest there is seeing Inter lose. Except that I can’t root for Man Utd, so I’m really screwed there. In any case, it will be an incredible slate of games of which I’m sure I will only get sparing coverage. Gotta love that U.S. soccer coverage.

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UEFA Suspends Stadium Ban For Atletico

Posted by hiphopmama on October 16, 2008

Fernando Torres will get his wish and return to the Vicente Calderon as a member of his new club Liverpool, but he’ll only be in the role of observer. Torres and Liverpool FC were upset by UEFA’s decision to move the Champions League match to a venue at least 200 miles outside Madrid as punishment for the Calderon crowd’s racist antics, claiming that it would impose too much of a burden on the team and traveling fans who had already made arrangements for the match. “After immediate consideration of the request for suspension,” UEFA overrode its original stadium ban and suspended it pending appeal. Now that he will get to go home, though, Torres will be unable to play after sustaining a hamstring injury in Spain’s World Cup Qualifying match against Belgium on Wednesday. 

Of course, UEFA still stresses that it takes these matters very seriously, and that “it does not mean that the decision …has been set aside.” Right. I get the reasons for suspending the ban on this particular match given the circumstances and late notification, but somehow UEFA’s continued touting of its “zero tolerance policy” on racist behavior rings a little hollow. It’s kinda like dealing with a rebellious child – sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and impose some consequences on them. Granted, that doesn’t mean you can never go back on your word if the situation merits it, but this just fits in with a general disregard for the matter. Once is understandable. Twice, three times, ALL THE TIME makes a pattern.

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Atletico Madrid Receive Stadium Ban

Posted by hiphopmama on October 14, 2008

Most likely in response to Rio Ferdinand’s recent comments, UEFA has handed down a ban on the next two Champions League home games at Atletico’s Vicente Calderon Stadium as punishment for its fans abusive language and behavior at the match against Marseille.

My thoughts? Finally. I guess they finally decided that now is the time to get serious, although it’s questionable how much the stadium ban will affect future fan behavior. At least it’s a start.

Link to ESPN article

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Barcelona 6 – 1 Atletico Madrid

Posted by hiphopmama on October 6, 2008

What. A. Match. I thought the 6-1 scoreline against Sporting Gijon was impressive, but this one trumped even that. Three goals in the first ten minutes. Five in the first half hour. A brilliant strike by Henry for the sixth. Messi running wild. A gorgeous bit of control and power by Eto’o. Gorgeous. That’s all I can say. 

Poor Atletico never had a chance. They were missing lots of key players – Maniche, Sabrosa, Forlan, Seitaridis, Castro – but I don’t think it would have made a difference. Barce were out to make a statement, and Atletico were the unwitting victims. The storyline wasn’t hurt by the match-up of Messi and Aguero, two Argentine strikers playing at the top of their games. It must have been a factor in Messi’s unceasing aggression, as he essentially showed who was the superior player. 

Rafa Marquez scored on a perfect deflected header off a free kick by – who else – Xavi in the 8th minute. Shortly thereafter, Messi took one of his patented, unstoppable runs into the box, where Ujfalusi brought him down, and Eto’o converted the penalty. The next goal was bizarre. Barcelona were awarded a free kick just outside the area, and with Coupet still setting up the wall, Messi curled the ball into the net. The Atletico players were furious, as the referee hadn’t done his official “go-ahead-and-take-the-kick” business, but credit Messi for seizing the opportunity, I guess. Maxi Rodriguez momentarily made it look like a match when he scored on a beautiful strike from the edge of the box, but five minutes later Eto’o stretched the lead back to three goals on easily his best goal of the season. He controlled a long pass into the box beautifully, maneuvered left and then right, and put the ball past Coupet effortlessly. Gudjohnsen got in on the act by slotting home a rebound of Iniesta’s shot in the 28th minute, making for a 5-1 halftime lead. The pace slowed way down in the second half, but Henry kept it interesting when he drove a low strike through the area and past Coupet for Barca’s sixth goal of the match. 

This is how Barcelona should be playing every game, and under Guardiola I believe they’re fairly likely to keep up with the blistering pace. They’re challenging for balls, running all over the pitch, and generally playing like enthused little kids out there. They seem re-energized on both the offensive and defensive sides, with Puyol even coming forward on the right hand side to take part in the festivities. They are currently in fourth place – behind Valencia, Villarreal, and Sevilla, and ahead of rivals Real Madrid on goal differential. I was predicting three in a row for Real, but Barca is making me question that. It’ll be interesting to see how the season plays out.

Here are all of the game’s many goals, for your viewing pleasure.

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Saturday La Liga Results

Posted by hiphopmama on September 21, 2008

Atletico Madrid 4 – 0 Recreativo Huelva

  • Atletico continue to look blazing, and Aguero is becoming everything they could have hoped for. He put in the first goal off a corner kick. I’m still not sure how you can lose him in the box (even though he’s not the tallest guy out there, come on), but he got a free header and scored handily. El Kun had a goal mysteriously disallowed a short while later, but there was a phantom call that ruled out his lofted header from a long throw by Sinama-Pongolle. Maniche netted the second goal in the 53rd minute, squeezing one through the penalty area and past Riesgo, and Sinama-Pongolle got the final two in the 78th and 88th minutes.

Espanyol 1 – 1 Getafe

  • Pretty uneventful match. Getafe scored first off a Manu penalty kick, and Espanyol’s Sergio Sanchez scored the equalizer in the 57th minute. Espanyol still sit atop the table with seven points awaiting tomorrow’s results.

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