Thursday, 26 November 2009

Copa Sudamericana Final 1st Leg

LDU Quito 5-1 Fluminense

LDU have opened up a huge advantage in the Copa Sudamericana final after thrashing Fluminense 5-1 at the Estadio Casa Blanca in Quito.

Fluminense led with less than 60 seconds on the clock when Marquinho pounced to give the visitors a shock lead. Fluminense began to struggle in the altitude and were behind by half time thanks to two cracking goals from Edison Méndez, pictured right celebrating with LDU coach Jorge Fossati. Méndez completed his hat-trick with a header on the hour and then turned creator for Franklin Salas to add a fourth. 4-1 was probably enough for Fluminense to haul back in Rio next week but Ulises de la Cruz put one hand on the trophy for LDU with a 30 yarder with three minutes to go.

What the ramifications are for Fluminense no one can tell. It's their first defeat after a 13 match unbeaten run, including victories in the last 8 on the spin, and with Vitória due at the Maracanã in a must win game in their fight against relegation it may have had a devastating effect on the confidence of the side coming into what could be one of the biggest weeks in the history of Fluminense.

You can't fault the efforts of LDU, they were masterful tonight. Ripping Fluminense to shreds at times and fully deserving their four goal lead. After last years Libertadores final, you shouldn't write this game off. It finished 5-5 on aggregate last time and who is to say that with a full to bursting Maracanã behind them, Fluminense might pull off the impossible. They've been doing it in the league for the last 6 weeks but I think this may be a bridge too far for them and there may be tears at the end of it all.

Primera División de Argentina - week 15

Estudiantes 3-1 Tigre
Lanús 3-0 Colón
Huracán 0-2 San Lorenzo
Atlético Tucumán 2-1 Chacarita Juniors
Independiente 1-2 Banfield
Newell's Old Boys 2-2 Rosario Central
Boca Juniors 4-0 Gimnasia La Plata
Godoy Cruz 1-1 River Plate
Argentinos Juniors 1-1 Arsenal
Vélez Sársfield 4-2 Racing Club
Estudiantes 0-1 Colón

Banfield continued their winning run to open up a gap at the top of the Apertura table after coming from behind to halt Independiente's surge up the table. After a goalless first half, Dario Gandin put Los Diablos Rojos ahead, but Lucas Mareque's own goal three minutes later squared it back up again. Handed that lifeline, the league leaders weren't about to pass up the opportunity and it was that man Santiago Silva who won it for them. The gap opens up because Newell's were held in the Rosario derby, coming from two goals down to snatch a point against their big city rivals. Two goals in two minutes put Rosario Central in front, Gervasio Nunez and Diego Chitzoff striking in the eleventh and twelfth minutes. Joaquin Boghossian pulled one back three minutes later and Jorge Achucarro sent the sides in level. And that's how it remained in a tense second half.

Estudiantes are two games ahead of most sides now having played twice for the second successive week. They put Tigre away, as expected, even scoring the bottom club's goal for them as Mauro Boselli starred in a 3-1 win, but they were turned over by Colón, Federico Nieto's stoppage time goal denying them a point. Colón lost their other game of the weekend, surprisingly beaten by Lanús. El Granate got all three goals around the half-time break, Cristian Menéndez just before and Sebastien Blanco and Santiago Salcedo's penalty just after. Colón remain third.

Huracán remain in bother after yet another defeat, short-handed to San Lorenzo. Paulo Goltz saw red early in the second half by which time Huracán had already gone behind to Renato Civelli. Juan Manuel Torres made it safe late in the second half. Chacarita and Racing are also still way down after both lost. Racing were in front against Vélez thanks to Gaston Diaz's own goal, but four unanswered goals left them with a mountain to climb. They did pull one back, way too late to make a difference. Chacarita went behind in first half stoppage time to Sebastien Longo, but went in level thanks to the wonderfully named Emmanuel Centurión. Fabio Escobar won it quarter of an hour from time for Atlético Tucumán.

River Plate were ahead in the third minute at Godoy Cruz, but were pegged back by Ariel Rojas shortly after the break and that's how it remained. Arsenal also drew 1-1 despite being a man and a goal down. Gabriel Hauche put Argentinos Juniors in front and when Franco Jara was sent off, that looked it for Arsenal, but Facundo Silva got the equaliser seven minutes from time. Finally, Boca won big, 4-0 at home to Gimnasia with Federico Insua getting two of them.

Back to a regular ten fixtures this week:

Rosario Central v Atlético Tucumán
Independiente v Huracán
Chacarita Juniors v Godoy Cruz
River Plate v Estudiantes
San Lorenzo v Boca Juniors
Tigre v Vélez Sársfield
Banfield v Racing Club
Arsenal v Lanús
Colón v Newell's Old Boys
Gimnasia La Plata v Argentinos Juniors

Banfield are favourites to remain top with a home game against a Racing side for whom the word hapless seems apt. Colón v Newell's looks a cracker, as do the games at River Plate and San Lorenzo. We'll have a round-up early next week.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Copa Sudamericana Final preview

Fluminense and LDU Quito meet again at Estadio Casa Blanca in the first leg of the Copa Nissan Sudamericana final tonight in the Ecuadorean capital at an altitude of 2850 metres.

Flu are hoping for better luck than the last time they faced LDU in a continental final. That was last year in the final of the Copa Libertadores, which LDU won 3-1 in a dramatic penalty shootout at the Maracanã after finishing level at 5-5 over two legs and a further half an hour of extra time.

"They will have a bad memory of what happened in Maracanã," said Jorge Fossati, pictured, the Uruguayan coach of LDU.

The Sudamericana is the continent's equivalent of the Europa League but neither team have yet to taste success in this competition. LDU's Libertadores success has already been mentioned but Fluminense have never won an international title.

"Playing an international cup final in the continent that exports the most soccer talent to the world is a great honour," said LDU vice-president Patricio Torres.

LDU reached the final by hammering River Plate Montevideo 7-0 and rested several players for their league game at weekend, which they lost 1-0 to Manta FC. Fluminense got to the final by beating Cerro Porteño 3-1 on aggregate after a dramatic late finish in the Maracanã. Fluminense were in Recife at the weekend and defeated already relegated Sport 3-0 in the Campeonato and are likely to field the same lineup.

LDU have a slight doubt over the fitness of Jairo Campos, but Renán Calle is on standby to take his place if he fails a fitness test.

Fluminense coach Cuca reckons his team can deliver success, "We can't play defensively, because that is what LDU want us to do. We will not change out style of play just because it's a final."

Fluminense will depend on striker Fred for the goals but will be without injured defender Digao, who has a fractured left foot, and forward Maicon, who has a thigh problem.

The Brazilian players have tried to play down playing at altitude in Quito. Fred, left, said, "I'm not worried because I talked to the coach and he said playing at altitude is a psychological thing, so I'll try to keep it out of my mind."

Possible line ups

LDU Quito: Alexander Domínguez; Norberto Araujo, Carlos Espínola, Jairo Campos or Renán Calle; Néicer Reasco, Diego Calderón, Ulises De La Cruz, Miller Bolaños, Édison Méndez; Walter Calderón, Claudio Bieler.

Fluminense: Rafael; Gum, Dalton, Cassio; Mariano, Diogo or Marquinho, Diguinho, Darío Conca, Marquinho; Alan, Fred.

Referee: Roberto Silvera (Uruguay)

The game is being streamed live on certain bookmakers sites (subject to national restrictions) and kicks off at 23.50 GMT

Just to point out, the rules are different for the final. Away goals don't count. If it's level at the end of 180 minutes, we'll have a further 30 minutes of extra time before the game goes to a penalty shoot out.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 36

Grêmio 2-0 Palmeiras
Atlético Paranaense 1-1 Cruzeiro
Corinthians 2-3 Náutico
Santo André 4-2 Avaí
Santos 4-0 Coritiba
Sport Recife 0-3 Fluminense
Botafogo 3-2 São Paulo
Vitória 2-1 Barueri
Flamengo 0-0 Goiás
Atlético Miniero 0-1 Internacional

Oh my god! What a round in the Brasileiro. The top 6 collected a total of five points between them, the bottom six meanwhile picked up 14 points between them in another crazy week in the Brasileiro.

The round began in Porto Alegre on Wednesday night when any hope Palmeiras had of picking up the title were finally dented at Fortress Grêmio. Rafael Marques put the home side ahead right on half time and that led to the Palmeiras pair of Mauricio and Obina doing a Bowyer/Dyer as the players trudged off for half time. They were both subsequently dismissed by the referee and later told they'd never pull the Green shirt on again for Palmeiras. Down to nine men, it was too much of a task and Maxi López ensured that Grêmio remain unbeaten at home with a second 20 minutes from time.

Only two games on Saturday, where Atlético-PR had thought they had secured a valuable win in their fight against Libertadores chasing Cruzeiro. Marcinho had put Atlético ahead with only 17 minutes left but Leonardo Silva broke Atlético-PR hearts and kept Cruzeiro in the hunt for a Libertadores spot with an equaliser as the game went into injury time. Gilberto was then sent off for the visitors for a second yellow card but the points were shared. In the other game Náutico kept their heads above the relegation parapet with a shock come from behind win at Corinthians. Náutico went into half time ahead thanks to Bruno Miniero's goal 5 minutes before the break. Ronaldo then levelled before Elias put the home side ahead to leave Náutico joining Recife neighbours Sport in Série B. In between the goals Bruno Miniero had been sent off, but Náutico showed great spirit and Carlinhos Bala levelled with 6 minutes to go before Ailton kept his nerve to convert an injury time penalty.

And onto Sunday......

In the early kick offs Avaí's slim hopes of the last Libertadores spot were crushed by Santo André, who like Náutico the night before kept their heads off the relegation chopping block with this victory. Marcelinho Carioca put Santo André ahead form the spot in the first half before Wanderley doubled the advantage 9 minutes into the second half. Muriqui then pulled one back for Avaí before Camilo restored the two goal advantage. Marquinhos then reduced the defecit again before Camilo secured the points for Santo André with a second in injury time. Coritiba are now looking nervously over their shoulders after they were humped 4-0 by Santos at the Vila Belmiro. Two goals in the space of 4 minutes from Madson and Kléber Pereira mean Santos went into the break two goals to the good before the latest prodigy off the Santos production line, 17 year old Neymar added a brace in the second half. Fluminense made it 8 in a row (in all competitions) after finally disposing of already relegated Sport in Recife, who are now confirmed for the CONMEBalls Série A wooden spoon. Moacir and Ciro were sent off for Sport and to further hamper them it was an own goal from Zé Antonio which put Fluminense ahead. Fred then doubled the lead before Dario Conca put the icing on the cake to send Fluminense off to Quito in confident mood.

In the final Sunday afternoon game at the Engenhão, there was only one word to describe it. Carnage. 5 goals, a hat trick and 4 red cards as Botofogo kept themselves alive in the relegation race and São Paulo threw a lifeline to Flamengo in the race for the title. Jobson put the home side ahead with 14 minutes on the clock but that was cancelled out right on half time by Washington. Ten minutes into the second half Jorge Wágner put the Champions ahead but Jobson's second levelled matters 4 minutes later. Then two red cards, the first to Richarlyson from São Paulo with 20 minutes to go before he was followed by Botafogo's Juninho with 6 minutes to go. As the game entered injury time Jobson completed his hat-trick to win the game for Fogo before becoming the third player to be sent off after picking up a second yellow for taking his shirt off in celebration and he was joined deep in injury time by Rodrigo Dantas. Botafogo finishing with 8 men but picking up three valuable points.

When the late games started on Sunday, across town from the Engenhão, Flamengo were in pole position to go top of the table when they entertained Goiás at the Maracanã. 78,000 people turned up for the game but were left disappointed and frustrated by a dull goalless draw which left Flamengo still a point behind São Paulo and left Goiás without a chance of a Libertadores spot and in the Sudamericana. Vitória qualified for next season's Sudamericana after overcoming 10 man Barueri. Leandro Domingues put Vitória ahead just after half time before Roger doubled the lead 10 minutes later. Otacilio Neto saw red for Barueri who got a consolation through Val Baiano's 16th goal of the season in injury time. Internacional still have a chance of title glory after a backs to the wall win at an Atlético-MG side who saw their title hopes ended by this defeat. Both teams went into the game on 56 points and to be fair a draw was no good for either side. It was settled by a single goal 15 minutes into the game, Inter midfielder Giuliano with the crucial strike to lift Inter into third, three points off the pace.

The heat is on now, 11 red cards over the weekend shows the pressure is getting to the players a little. But just look at the relegation battle now. Fluminense on 42 with Botafogo, Coritiba and Atlético-PR all with touching distance just two points ahead. How much will Flamengo regret not picking up more than a point against Goiás? How much will the surprise defeat at Barueri in week 32 come back to haunt them? Inter suddenly have a chance of the title but São Paulo must be breathing a sigh of relief after Flamengo failed to take advantage.

All the games are scheduled to kick off at the same time on Sunday at 7pm UK time. Atlético-PR and Botafogo meet in the big game at the bottom of the table whilst Palmeiras and Atlético-MG, which had title decider written all over it three weeks ago is now a battle for the last qualification spot for the Libertadores. One of Santo André and Náutico will defenitely be relegated this weekend as they clash, a draw though would send both teams down.

Here is how they line up for Week 37, the penultimate round.

Palmeiras x Atlético Mineiro
Grêmio x Barueri
Atlético Paranaense x Botafogo
Cruzeiro x Coritiba
Corinthians x Flamengo
Sport Recife x Internacional
Santo André x Náutico
Avaí x Santos
Goiás x São Paulo
Fluminense x Vitória

It's awesome this finish to the season in Brazil and we're back next Monday with a round up of all the action.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Copa Sudamericana Semi Final 2nd Legs

Fluminense 2-1 Cerro Porteño
Fluminense advances 6-0 on points
LDU Quito 7-0 River Plate Montevideo
LDU advances on goal difference

Fluminense reached the Copa Sudamericana final by scoring twice in second half injury time to overcome Cerro Porteño 2-1 and 3-1 on aggregate at Maracanã on Wednesday.

The Fluzão were certainly up for it but Cerro Porteño, trailing after the first leg, levelled the tie with only six minutes on the clock when midfielder Luis Caceres converted a cross from striker Cesar Ramirez which deflected in off a Fluminense defender. Diego Barreto was again having a marvellous game in the Cerro goal, denying chance after chance as Fluminense looked to retake the initiative. With the tie heading for penalties there was a dramatic conclusion. Two minutes into second half injury-time defender Gum struck home to put Fluminense level on the night and ahead in the tie and as Cerro Porteño chased an equaliser in what little injury time was left goalkeeper Barreto was caught upfield in attack and Alan made it 2-1 rolling the ball into an empty net to send the Fluzão wild and give Fluminense a 7th straight win in all competitions.

Then after the final whistle a massive fight broke out between all the players on both teams, with the Fluminense and Cerro Porteño coaching staff also trading blows before Brazilian military police stormed the field to break it up and force the Cerro players down the tunnel and back into the sheds before the Fluminense players could finally celebrate with their supporters.

Liga de Quito stormed into the Copa Sudamericana finals with a thumping 7-0 win over River Plate Montevideo, easily overturning a 2-1 defeat in the first leg.

Claudio Bieler opened the scoring from the spot after 18 minutes after Neicer Reasco was brought down in the box. Then Carlos Espinola headed home Edison Méndez's corner in the 28th, and River ability to defend disappeared at the end of the first half when Bieler's cross was headed back across the goal by Walter Calderon for an unmarked Miller Bolanos to smash the ball home. The tie was all over there and then and Méndez scored LDU's fourth 12 minutes after the break before former Birmingham City player Ulises De La Cruz made it 5-0 in the 78th minute it was party time. Bieler put the candles on the cake when he completed a hat-trick with strikes with 84 and 89 minutes on the clock.

So the final will be a repeat of last years Copa Libertadores final which LDU Quito won dramatically on a penalty shoot out in the Maracanã to stun the Fluzão. The first leg is again scheduled for Quito next week with the return in the Maracanã the week after.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Primera División de Argentina - week 14

Rosario Central 3-0 Estudiantes

Chacarita Juniors 0-1 Newell's Old Boys
Tigre 2-0 Godoy Cruz
Banfield 3-0 Vélez Sársfield
Colón 2-0 Argentinos Juniors
San Lorenzo 0-3 Independiente
River Plate 3-1 Atlético Tucumán
Arsenal 1-1 Boca Juniors
Racing 1-0 Estudiantes
Gimnasia La Plata 4-1 Huracán
Rosario Central 0-0 Lanús

Two defeats across the weekend have seen Estudiantes fall off the pace in the Apertura. They had a game midweek last week in Rosario and collapsed to a 3-0 defeat, falling behind in the sixth minute when Juan Veron put past his own keeper. Gonzalo Castillejos added a second on the stroke of half-time and a second own-goal wrapped it up, Agustin Alayes the culprit this time. They went down again on Monday away at lowly Racing Club, Pablo Luguercio with the only goal of the game. That leaves Estudiantes six adrift of the leaders, but having played a game more.

Banfield and Newell's continue to lead the way. Newell's needed an Omar Zarif own goal to get past Chacarita Juniors while Banfield put three past Vélez Sársfield to strengthen their position at the top. Goalless at half-time, Banfield were two up within three minutes of the restart through James Rodriguez and Cristian Garcia. Garcia's second, ten minutes after his first, sealed the points. Two Esteban Fuertes penalties helped Colón to victory Argentinos Juniors and they now lead the chase, four points behind the leading duo.

With Racing winning, Tigre were in danger of being cut adrift at the bottom, but upset Godoy Cruz with a 2-0 win. Martin Morel put Tigre in front early on and they were clinging on until Jorge Curbelo's second yellow reduced Godoy to ten. Carlos Fondacaro sealed the points deep in stoppage time. Huracán remain in trouble after going down hard to Gimnasia. Diego Rodriguez equalised Gimnasia's opener, scored by Jose Vizcarra, on the half hour, but it lasted just two minutes before Sebastien Romero put the La Plata side back in front. Marcos Perez and Denis Stracqualursi added second-half goals to wrap up an emphatic win. A rare win for River Plate, just their third of the season, eased the pressure a little and took them above their opponents Atlético Tucumán. Atléti were ahead in the first minute through Emmanuel Gigliotti, but three goals in six second-half minutes turned it around. Marcelo Gallardo's strike on 70 minutes opened the floodgates and Diego Buonanotte and Daniel Villalba had both struck before Tucumán knew what had hit them.

Rosario's second game of the week ended goalless against Lanús and Boca Juniors also finished level, Cristian Álvarez grabbing a point for Arsenal after Gary Medel had put Boca in front. San Lorenzo and Independiente are going in opposite directions and the latter go above the former following a thumping win. Dario Gandin sent Independiente into half-time ahead and two goals in as many minutes sealed it, Martin Gomez and Leonel Nunez with them. The Saints' collapse was complete when Alejandro Gomez was sent off ten minutes from time.

Next week, top game is the Rosario derby with Newell's the hosts. River Plate's resurgence gets tested at Godoy Cruz while Estudiantes can get back on the horse at home to lowly Tigre. Indeed, Estudiantes play twice this week as well with a Wednesday clash with Colón as they clear their schedules ahead of the Copa Libertadores. Independiente are on the up and host Banfield in what looks a tasty clash.

Estudiantes v Tigre
Lanús v Colón
Huracán v San Lorenzo
Atlético Tucumán v Chacarita Juniors
Independiente v Banfield
Newell's Old Boys v Rosario Central
Boca Juniors v Gimnasia La Plata
Godoy Cruz v River Plate
Argentinos Juniors v Arsenal
Vélez Sársfield v Racing
Estudiantes v Colón

Final World Cup place up for grabs

After Saturday's game in San Jose, Uruguay take a one-goal lead over Costa Rica back to Montevideo for tonight's second leg of the CONMEBOL/CONCACAF play-off. Diego Lugano got the only goal of the opening leg, but Costa Rican midfielder Luis Antonio Marin is in bullish mood. "They profited from one chance from a corner. This is not over. We can go to Uruguay and win there" he said in the pre-match press conference.

It'll be tough, whatever Marin says. Randall Azofeifa was sent off for a second yellow in San Jose, so is banned for the return, while Uruguay boast the likes of Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez among their number, but the performance - if not the result - will certainly fill The Ticos with confidence. They generally held sway on the attacking front and only conceded from a corner while defender Gilberto Martinez was off the field receiving treatment. Even after the sending off, they more than held their own and could/should have got something out of the game, the in-form Bryan Ruiz with a couple of chances.

It's nicely poised, but at home and with a goal advantage, surely this is Uruguay's to lose.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 35

Palmeiras 2-2 Sport Recife
Coritiba 2-1 Atlético Miniero
Cruzeiro 1-1 Grêmio
São Paulo 2-0 Vitória
Barueri 3-0 Botafogo
Avaí 3-1 Corinthians
Náutico 0-2 Flamengo
Fluminense 2-1 Atlético Paranaense
Internacional 3-1 Santos

Sport Recife's fight against the drop was ended by Palmeiras last Wednesday night but it was also a result that put a huge dent in the title ambitions of Palmeiras. Just like last week Sport were two up inside 16 minutes, Juan Acre with the opener before Wilson doubled the lead to stun the Palestra Itália. With their title ambitions on the line, Palmeiras had to fight back, they were helped when Durval was sent off for Sport with 67 mintues gone but Deyvid Sacconi pulled one back 5 minutes after before Diego Souza rescued a point three minutes from time. It was enough to put Palmeiras top at the time but that ended on Saturday when São Paulo went back top when they beat Vitória in the Morumbi. Jorge Wágner opened the scoring with 25 minutes on the clock before a second three minutes after the break from Hugo secured the points. Flamengo are now second after their 2-0 win in Recife against Náutico more or less opened the relegation trapdoor for them. Dejan Petkovic put Flamengo ahead with 17 minutes on the clock and it was all over by half time thanks to Adriano's 19th of the season.

Internacional moved up to fourth after a comfortable win over Santos. They were two up by half time thanks to Danilo Silva and Marquinhos strikes within three minutes of each other. Neymar got Santos back into the game just after the hour but Andrés D'Alessandro sixth goal of the season sealed things for Inter. Cruzeiro were held to a draw by a Grêmio side that finished the game with 9 men and equalised whilst down to that number. Gilberto put Cruzeiro ahead before Tulio and Fabio Santos were dismissed before German Herrera for Grêmio to give them only their fifth point on the road this season. Atlético-MG were the big losers of the weekend, going down to Coritiba 2-1. Rômulo put Coritiba ahead but a 12th of the season for Éder Luís levelled things after some comedy defending. When it looked like a point would be better than nothing for Atlético-MG, with three minutes later and poor challenge from Pedro Benitez saw him sent off and Marcelinho converted from the spot to ease Coritiba's relegation worries and dent Atlético-MG's title hopes.

The Fluminense revival continued a pace after they picked up their fourth straight win in front of a huge crowd at the Maracanã against Atlético-PR. You can't keep a good man down as Fred scored for the fourth straight game to put Fluminense ahead with 18 minutes on the clock before Maicon doubled the lead on the hour. Atlético-PR then realised they needed to get back into this game and served up a nervy last 10 minutes when Marcelo pulled a goal back. Botafogo are now within touching distance for Fluminense after going down to Barueri. Val Baiano, returning from an injury lay off, caused the damage. He put Barueri ahead after 28 minutes before doubleing the advantage 7 minutes into the second half. He completed his hat-trick in injury time. Goiás snapped a three game losing run by pushing Santo André closer to Série B with a come from behind win. Marcelinho Carioca put Santo André ahead, a lead they held until half time, before a brace from Fernandão put Goiás ahead. Renato Dias was then sent off for Santo André before Iarley's 12th of the season wrapped thing up. Finally Avaí are suddenly within three points of a Libertadores spot after overcoming a Corinthians side who clearly have put the cue on the rack for the season. William put Avaí ahead before an own goal from Marquinhos levelled things. William's second had Avaí ahead by half time and Corinthians were reduced to 10 men right on half time when Edgar Balbuena was sent off. Leo Gago then secured the points when he struck 20 minutes from time.

Three games to go, you have to think now that it's a two horse race between São Paulo and Flamengo. The Palmeiras ship has sailed I think. At the bottom can Fluminense pull off the greatest of escapes and will Náutico and Santo André fall through the trap door this weekend. Here's how they line up for Round 36 which starts on Wednesday night in Porto Alegre. The game of the weekend is Atlético-MG v Internacional.

Grêmio x Palmeiras
Santo André x Avaí
Santos x Coritiba
Sport Recife x Fluminense
Botafogo x São Paulo
Vitória x Barueri
Atlético Paranaense x Cruzeiro
Flamengo x Goiás
Atlético Miniero x Internacional
Corinthians x Náutico

Friday, 13 November 2009

Copa Libertadores 2010

We at CONMEBalls are led to believe that the draw for the 2010 Copa Santander Libertadores will take place at CONMEBOL HQ on November 27th.

As soon as we hear anything, you will.

Copa Sudamericana Semi Final 1st Legs

Cerro Porteño 0-1 Fluminense
River Plate Montevideo 2-1 LDU Quito

For the third consecutive game Fluminense had Fred to thank after his strike gave them a 1-0 win in Asunción on Wednesday night. Fluminense dominated the early exchanges but Cerro Porteño goalkeeper Diego Barreto produced a string of fine saves to keep the home side in the tie. The breakthrough finally came in the 76th minute, when Fred controlled a long kick from keeper Rafael before entering the box and striking the ball past Barreto. Take the time to watch the clip, the commentary is superb. I think the commentator might have had a few Reais on the first goalscorer. The second leg takes place in the Maracanã next Wednesday night.

River Plate Montevideo will take a slight advantage to the altitude of Quito next week in the second leg after beating LDU Quito 2-1 at the Centenario on Thursday night. LDU began the game well, but fell behind with 8 minutes on the clock as River hit them on the break and Richard Porta slotted home. River then took control of the game , but against the run of play LDU levelled on the half-hour, when Edison Méndez finished from Neicer Reasco's cross. River regained their composure and looked much the better side in the second half and scored the winner on the hour through Jorge Córdoba. River then went close to adding a third in the closing moments, whether they come to rue their failure remains to be seen when the teams clash again in Quito next Thursday night.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Another one bites the dust. 33 and counting.....

Grêmio coach Paulo Autuori became the 33rd change of coach in Série A this season when he announced he was quitting the Porto Alegre club with immediate effect to take over at Al-Rayyan in Qatar. Grêmio are currently 9th in Série A with the best home record in the competition, counterbalanced by the one of the worst away records in the league which has seen them pick up only 4 points on their travels compared with the 44 collected at the Olímpico Monumental.

On the official Grêmio website Autuori was quoted, "I am leaving as an upset man because this team had the quality to be better placed in all the competitions we took part in. We have failed and I assume that responsibility". Grêmio were defeated in the semi finals of the Copa Libertadores by Cruzeiro and by a quirk of fate travel to Belo Horizonte on Sunday. Grêmio hope to have a replacement in charge by kick off on Sunday.

Only 5 clubs now have same coach now as they had in May when the season started. They are Atlético-MG, Corinthians, Goiás, Cruzeiro and Avaí.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Primera División de Argentina - week 13

Argentinos Juniors 1-1 Rosario Central
Independiente 1-0 Gimnasia La Plata
Lanús 0-3 Chacarita Juniors
Godoy Cruz 3-1 Racing
Newell's Old Boys 2-1 River Plate
Atlético Tucumán 4-2 Tigre
San Lorenzo 0-1 Banfield
Estudiantes 3-0 Vélez Sársfield
Boca Juniors 0-0 Colón
Huracán 1-1 Arsenal

A relatively quiet week in Argentina where Banfield and Newell's both won in week 14 and so continue to lead the way. Banfield sit top on goal difference and are yet to lose, but only required a single goal from Uruguayan Sebastien Fernandez to beat San Lorenzo who drop right down as a result. Joaquin Boghossian, another Uruguayan, is in good form for Newell's and struck twice in their win over beleaguered River Plate. The opener went in after four minutes, but Diego Buonanotte equalised on the hour. Boghossian's second, eleven minutes from time, denied River a much-needed point. Estudiantes lead the chase with three more goals for the top scoring La Plata side as they brushed fellow challengers Vélez Sársfield aside. Leandro Desabato's free-kick on the half-hour started them off and second half goals from Mauro Boselli and Leandro Benitez finished off Vélez.

One small comfort for River Plate is that their arch-rivals Boca Juniors aren't doing a whole heap better. They did pick up a point in a miserable 0-0 draw with Colón, denting Colón's title push, but treading water while they're without the injured Juan Roman Riquelme.

Relegation shouldn't be a worry for River Plate as it's determined on an average over three campaigns. Tigre, however... They twice blew a lead to go down hard in San Miguel to Atlético Tucumán. Matias Gimenez put Tigre ahead after five minutes, but he was then sent off on the stroke of half-time as he picked up a second yellow. Juan Pereyra had equalised by then, but Tigre were back in front two minutes after the restart through Carlos Luna. Then came the implosion, Jonathan Blanco putting through his own net and Pereyra's second coming in the space of 90 seconds, while Emmanuel Gogliotti's late fourth merely added gloss. Racing reverted to type after last week's win, thumped by Godoy Cruz. Jesus Vera put the Mendozans in front early and Federico Higuain increased the lead on 18 minutes. Leonardo Sigali gifted Racing one back, putting past his own keeper, but Cristian Chavez put away a free-kick in stoppage time after Matias Martinez had been sent off. Huracán move a point ahead of the bottom two after drawing with Arsenal who were thankful for Diego Galvan's stoppage time equaliser to snatch a draw after Nicolas Trecco had put Huracán in front early in the second half.

Gimnasia are still in a bit of bother after losing to Independiente, Eduardo Tuzzio getting the only goal of the game three minutes from time, while Chacarita Juniors pull away a bit with a good win away at Lanús. Cristian Milla put them in front late in the first half and Facundo Parra added two after the break to complete a 3-0 win.

There's one game on Wednesday this week, Rosario Central and Estudiantes facing off, before a full programme over the weekend. Here's how they line up:

Rosario Central v Estudiantes

Chacarita Juniors v Newell's Old Boys
Tigre v Godoy Cruz
Banfield v Vélez Sársfield
Colón v Argentinos Juniors
San Lorenzo v Independiente
River Plate v Atlético Tucumán
Arsenal v Boca Juniors
Racing Club v Estudiantes
Gimnasia La Plata v Huracán
Rosario Central v Lanús

Top game sees leaders Banfield host Vélez Sársfield while Newell's have a tricky trip to Chacarita. Should either slip up, Estudiantes have a relative 'gimme' against Tigre.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 34

Grêmio 1-1 São Paulo
Santos 3-1 Náutico
Vitória 0-1 Avaí
Sport Recife 2-3 Cruzeiro
Corinthians 2-0 Santo André
Atlético Miniero 1-3 Flamengo
Fluminense 1-0 Palmeiras
Botafogo 2-0 Coritiba
Atlético Parananese 2-0 Goiás
Barueri 1-1 Internacional

We started Round 34 last Wednesday night as São Paulo went to Fortress Grêmio looking for a win to take them above Palmeiras at the top of the table. Grêmio have only dropped 6 points at home all season, the only team not to have lost at home all season. It was going to be a huge task for São Paulo and it was even tougher when Rafael Marques put the home side ahead with just 23 minutes on the clock, São Paulo though managed to get back into the game when Marques deflected a shot from Dagoberto for the equaliser. Then the carnage of the second half that saw São Paulo finish the game with 8 men. Borges and Dagoberto went within 2 minutes of each other with 15 minutes left and then Jean saw red in injury time. The point though, was enough to keep São Paulo top as Palmeiras crashed to defeat against Fluminense in front of over 70,000 in the Maracanã. It was a third straight win for Fluminense whose winning goal came from Fred with 32 minutes on the clock but they are still 5 points adrift of safety thanks to other results.

The big clash of the weekend saw Flamengo go ahead of Atlético-MG after a stunning win in the Mineirão. Dejan Petlovic put Flamengo ahead with 9 minutes on the clock before Claudio Maldonado doubled the lead 6 minutes before the break. Ricardinho got Atlético-MG back into the game 5 minutes after half time but Adriano's 18th of the season 9 minutes from time wrapped up the points to leave Flamengo in third, 2 points off the pace. Internacional are now down in sixth and 6 points away from the lead after they came from behind take a point at Barueri. Marcio Careca put Barueri ahead with 15 minutes on the clock before Fabiano Eller levelled matters for Inter with 65 minutes on the clock. Sport Recife are all but doomed after letting a two goal lead slip against Cruzeiro, who themselves now move up into fifth. Wilson scored twice in the opening quarter of an hour to put Sport in control but Thiago Ribiero reduced the defecit in the 19th minute. Leonardo Silva then levelled before Sport were reduced to ten when Andrade was sent off. Joffre Guerron got the winner for Cruzeiro with 25 minutes to go and Sport ended up with nine when Hamilton was shown a straight red card in injury time.

Náutico remain in danger after defeat at Santos. Kléber Pereira put the home side ahead on the half hour before Naymar doubled the lead on the hour. Ailton halved the defecit eight minutes later but a second from Neymar in the last minute leaves Náutico 6 points away from safety. Santo André are in a similar position to Náutico and they didn't help their cause with a 2-0 defeat at Corinthians. Ronaldo put Corinthians ahead, his third in the last two, before Denthino doubled the lead 14 minutes from time. It's hard to see either Náutico or Santo André surviving now.

Botafogo hauled themselves level on points with Coritiba after defeating them 2-0 at the Engenhão. After tossing off the Copa Sudamericana in midweek Botafogo picked up a vital win to leave Coritiba suddenly looking over their shoulders. Renan put Botafogo ahead eight minutes before half time before Lucio Flavio made the game safe half way through the second half. Atlético-PR did their survival hopes no harm after a 2-0 win over 10 man Goiás. Marcinho put Atlético-PR ahead half way through the first half before Wallyson grabbed the second 15 minutes from time. João Paulo saw red for Goiás. Vitória are in danger of being sucked into the relegation battle after a 1-0 defeat at home to Avaí. William grabbing the only goal of the game with 12 minutes left to give Avaí the victory which ensured they will be in the top flight next season.

So 4 games to go in Brazil and again we are underway on Wednesday night when Palmeiras will be looking for the win which will send Sport to Série B and them back to the top of the league. Here is how they line up.....

Palmeiras x Sport Recife
Coritiba x Atlético Miniero
Cruzeiro x Grêmio
São Paulo x Vitória
Barueri x Botafogo
Avaí x Corinthians
Náutico x Flamengo
Fluminense x Atlético Paranaense
Goiás x Santo André
Internacional x Santos

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Vasco Promoted

After an absence of just one season, Vasco da Gama will return to Série A in 2010 after confirming their promotion with a 2-1 victory against Juventude on Friday night. Vasco are also 7 points clear at the top of the table and with only 4 games left it seems likely they will return as champions.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Copa Sudamericana Quarter Final 2nd Legs

San Lorenzo 0-1 River Plate Montevideo
River advances 7-6 on penalties
Botafogo 1-3 Cerro Porteño
Cerro Porteño advances 6-0 on points
Universidad de Chile 0-1 Fluminense
Fluminense advances 4-1 on points
Liga de Quito 2-1 Vélez Sársfield
Liga de Quito advances 4-1 on points

River Plate of Montevideo secured their place in the semi-finals by beating San Lorenzo on penalties. River Plate won the second leg 1-0 leaving the tie level at 1-1, before sealing a 7-6 shoot-out triumph. San Lorenzo adopted a negative defensive policy, looking to hang on to their 1-0 lead from the first leg, but they fell behind 46 seconds into the second half when Richard Porta made the most of mistake from Kily Gonzalez to slot home the winner. With the tie level after 90 minutes, no extra time of course, the teams went straight to a penalty competition. The decisive miss came from Pablo Pintos, who saw his effort saved by Luciano Dos Santos to send River into the semi final.

At the Engenhão, Cerro Porteño claimed a 3-1 win over a Botafogo side which seemed to have an eye on league survival. Towards the end of the first half Botafogo had a couple of chances to open the scoring and level the tie. Cerro Porteño went in front 11 minutes after the interval, when Jorge Núñez's header found the back of the net. Andre Lima equalised in the 73rd minute but Alessandro left Botafogo down to 10 men two minutes later when he was sent off for a poor challenge on Luis Cardozo. Botafogo needing to score to take the tie to penalties, were sunk when Julio Irrazabal killed the tie off with three minutes remaining and in injury time Luis Caceres hammered the final nail into the coffin.

The Fluminense revival continued as they claimed an impressive win over Universidad de Chile in Santiago. Maicon and Fred missed super chances for Fluminense in the first half before the pair combined for the game's only goal. It came on the hour when Fred headed home Maicon's cross. Fluminense now are two games away from the final and a possible rematch of last years Libertadores final.

Liga de Quito recovered from a goal down to beat Vélez Sársfield. Hernan López put Vélez ahead just before half-time but the high-altitude conditions affected the visitors in the second half and Liga de Quito levelled through Enrique Vera on 68 minutes before Carlos Espinola got the winner 6 minutes later to send last years Libertadores winners into the semi finals.

We can confirm the dates and times for the semi finals of the competition. All kick off times GMT

November 11th Kick off 23.50 Cerro Porteño v Fluminense
November 12th Kick off 23.15 River Plate Montevideo v LDU Quito
November 18th Kick off 23.50 Fluminense v Cerro Porteño
November 19th Kick off 00.15 LDU Quito v River Plate Montevideo

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Primera División de Argentina - week 12

Vélez Sársfield 2-0 Godoy Cruz
Racing 4-0 Atlético Tucumán
Gimnasia La Plata 2-2 San Lorenzo
Chacarita Juniors 2-2 Argentinos Juniors
River Plate 0-1 Lanús
Rosario Central 2-1 Boca Juniors
Arsenal 1-0 Independiente
Banfield 2-1 Estudiantes
Tigre 1-2 Newell's Old Boys
Colón 3-0 Huracán

It's often noted that sides rally on appointing a new boss. Suffice to say that Lothar Matthaus's managerial career hasn't been as glittering as his playing career was, but nothing summed it up more than, the weekend after talks between Matthaus and Racing broke down, the Córdoba didn't just take their first win, but smacked four away in the process. Ouch. They were one up on Atlético Tucumán inside five minutes, some slack defensive work allowing Pablo Lugüercio to sneak one in and Pablo Caballero stuck the second away after a right game of pinball in the Tucumán area. Adrian Lucero made it three before half-time and Lucas Aveldaño wrapped it up twenty from time while Tucumán finished a man down after Hector Desvaux's late red card. Tigre are therefore adrift at the bottom after defeat to Newell's for whom Joaquin Boghossian managed to score at both ends. Mauro Fórmica put Newell's ahead only for Boghossian to put through his own net two minutes later. Five from time, Boghossian's conversion from villain to hero was complete as he pounced for the winner that sent Newell's second.

Banfield are top after beating ten-man Estudiantes who had Enzo Perez sent off after just thirteen minutes. By that time, the league's top scorer, Santiago Silva, had already put Banfield ahead. Juan Sebastien Veron equalised just before the break, but Walter Erviti sealed the win in the second half. Colón are third thanks to a Federico Nieto hat-trick against Huracán which takes him to ten for the season, one behind Silva. Vélez Sársfield are level with them on points after beating Godoy Cruz through Fabian Cubero and Leandro Somoza and then come Estudiantes and Diego Simeone's San Lorenzo who were held by Gimnasia thanks to a late, late goal from Ruben Maldonado. Jose Vizcarra had put Gimnasia ahead, but Juan Mesenguez's penalty and Pablo Pintos put the Saints ahead before Maldonado's late intervention denied them all three points.

Characarita and Argentinos Juniors shared four goals and two red cards evenly, leaving the former second bottom. Juan Mercier was sent off on 25 minutes before Cristian Grabinski put Chacarita ahead as Argentinos failed to clear. Nicolas Pavlovich equalised with an excellent 18-yard header and Mariano Etchevarria was sent off in the aftermath. Facundo Parra volleyed in from 20 yards to put Chacarita back ahead, but Mauro Bogoda squared it up in the last minute, lashing in a half-cleared corner from 25 yards. River Plate and Boca Juniors both lost, River at home to Lanús, Maxi Velazquez with a 30-yard thunderbolt of a free-kick, and Boca away in Rosario. Jesus Mendez struck first for Rosario Central with a fourth minute free-kick which wrongfooted the keeper, but Juan Krupoviesa sent the sides into the break level with a similarly impressive long-range free-kick. Gonzalo Castillejos won it with a superb individual goal, dancing through the entire defence before slotting it under the keeper at the near post. Arsenal and Independiete remain in mid-table after Arsenal's 1-0 win, Franco Jara with the winner.

Next weekend sees four of the top six play each other:

Argentinos Juniors v Rosario Central
Independiente v Gimnasia
Lanús v Chacarita Juniors
Godoy Cruzv v Racing
Newell's Old Boys v River Plate
Atlético Tucumán v Tigre
San Lorenzo v Banfield
Estudiantes v Vélez Sarsfield
Boca Juniors v Colón
Huracán v Arsenal

Monday, 2 November 2009

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 33

Avaí 2-0 Atlético Paranaense
São Paulo 1-0 Barueri
Flamengo 1-0 Santos
Goiás 2-3 Atlético Miniero
Internacional 0-1 Botafogo
Palmeiras 2-2 Corinthians
Coritiba 1-0 Vitória
Cruzeiro 2-3 Fluminense
Santo André 2-0 Grêmio
Náutico 3-2 Sport Recife

The drama continues abound in the Brasileiro with movement again this week at both ends of the table. It was also a round of early goals being decisive in games as well. Of the leading contenders, São Paulo were first into action on Saturday they over came Barueri at the Morumbi. Jorge Wágner with the goal with just 6 minutes on the clock to put São Paulo top on Saturday night. Big rivals Palmeiras squared up to local rivals Corinthians, again the game was played on neutral territory at Presidente Prudente for the Paulista Derby, and the "home side" needing a win to take and outright lead at the top of the table. Unfortunately for the Big Green, Ronaldo had other ideas. After goalkeeper Marcos was sent off for Palmeiras he put Corinthians into the lead twice, firstly 6 minutes before half time before Danilo levelled matters. Then Ronaldo struck 20 minutes into the second half before Mauricio grabbed a much needed point with the equaliser 7 minutes from time. Palmeiras remain top on goal difference, the teams have identical records but Palmeiras are 3 goals better off on goal difference.

Of the other title contenders it was a very mixed weekend of results. Atlético-MG remain third after a very hard fought win at Goiás. It was all going Atlético-MG's way When they stormed into a 2 goal lead inside 20 minutes. Ricardinho with the first before Éder Luís grabbed his 11th of the season to double the lead. Goiás were level by half time, a stunning fightback in the last three minutes before half time with goals from Julio César and Leandro Euzebio. Ernando was then sent off for Goiás just after half time before Diego Tardelli grabbed his 18th of the season form the penalty spot, and the winner for Atlético-MG with 22 minutes left. Flamengo crept into a Libertadores spot after a 6th minute goal from Adriano, his 17th of the season, saw them overcome Santos at the Maracanã and climb above Internacional who were stunned by Botafogo at the Beira-Rio. Juninho claimed the only goal of the game, a snorter of a free kick, with just two minutes on the clock and Botafogo held on for a valuable win, desipte the dismissal of Andre Lima for two bookable offences.

At the wrong end of the table Fluminense's fight against the drop continues after a dramatic come from behind win at the Mineirão against Cruzeiro. It snapped Cruzeiro's 7 game winning strak and probably knocked them out of the title race. It was all going the home sides way as they led 2-0 through goals from Jonathan and Wellington Paulista in the first half hour. Fluminense though, fought back. 2 goals in three second half minutes from Gum and Fred levelled things before the former Lyon striker grabbed the winner 19 minutes from time. After scoring both goals Fred "did a Tevez" and refused to celebrate his goals, he was with Cruzeiro prior to going to France. Grêmio's travel sickness continued as they were downed by Santo André. Nunes struck for the third consecutive game to put Santo André ahead before a Rafael Marques own goal sealed Grêmio's fate.

Atlético-PR are now nervously looking over their shoulders after a 2-0 reverse at Avaí, who should be set now for a second season in Série A. Rogelio put them ahead with 7 minutes on the clock and William's spectacular bicycle kick made the game safe 14 minutes from time. Coritiba swap places in the table with local rivals Atlético-PR after a single goal from Pereira with 21 minutes on the clock was enough to see off Vitória. In the big relegation clash, Sport fell to the bottom of the table after being defeated by local rivals Náutico in the Clássico dos Clássicos. A thrilling game in Recife saw Sport twice fight back from a goal down. Bruno Miniero continued his recent run of goals to put Náutico ahead with 4 minutes on the clock. Sport were level 4 minutes later through Vandinho but Náutico went into the break ahead thanks to Carlinhos Bala. Wilson then levelled again for Sport on the hour but four minutes later Irenio grabbed a crucial winner for Náutico to leave them with a fighting change of escaping the drop whilst Sport now seem doomed.

Now might be a good time to explain how all the tie breakers work in the league

The tie-breakers in Brazil’s Série A are:

1) number of victories
2) goal difference
3) goals scored
4) head-to-head
5) lower number of red cards
6) lower number of yellow cards
7) drawing lots

If it’s head-to-head between two clubs, their two games are treated like a cup tie, with the away goals rule. Also, the championship and the relegation spots can’t be decided by drawing lots — they would hold another game in a neutral venue.

Week 34 begins on Wednesday night when São Paulo enter the Grêmio graveyard, it's going to be a big ask if they are to claim a win there as Grêmio have dropped only 6 points at home all season. Botafogo and Coritiba is the big relegation battle of the weekend whilst Fluminense entertain leaders Palmeiras.

Grêmio x São Paulo
Santos x Náutico
Vitória x Avaí
Sport Recife x Cruzeiro
Corinthians x Santo André
Atlético Miniero x Flamengo
Fluminense x Palmeiras
Botafogo x Coritiba
Atlético Paranaense x Goiás
Barueri x Internacional