Posts Tagged ‘ Euro 2012 ’

World Cup 2014: Predictions For Every Team

brazil

With the kick-off of World Cup 2014 now less than a week away, the excitement is starting to build. Coverage of the event is starting to really pick up, as the footballing world gets ready for the beginning of it’s biggest event of any calendar year. With that in mind, I would like to put forward my predictions for every team and how they will fare, including all the teams who will fall at the group stage hurdle, all the way on to who I predict will be the eventual winners.

Group stage eliminations

Cameroon

The most likely victim of what is a very tough draw, Cameroon seem like long shots to emerge from Group A. Hosts Brazil, potential dark horses Croatia and Mexico make up the rest of the group, and it may well prove too much for Cameroon to claim enough points to sneak in to the knockout stages. An experienced squad led by captain Samuel Eto’o as well as veterans Alex Song and Jean Makoun, Cameroon also boast young defensive talent in Nicolas N’Koulou and Joel Matip. Unfortunately for them, it seems unlikely that they will prove good enough to edge out two of the other teams, and so it looks like three games and out for Cameroon.

Mexico

It looks quite likely that Brazil and Croatia will emerge from this group, especially if the Croatians can get a point in the tournament’s inaugural match. Mexico had a very ugly qualifying campaign to even reach Brazil, finishing fourth in their group, behind the United States, Costa Rica and Honduras. They eventually beat New Zealand comfortably in a play-off, but it does not augur well for them in such a tough group. Still, Mexico boast a very experienced squad, with the likes of Rafael Marquez still around to organise them. If the likes of Javier Hernandez (who has a scoring rate of better than one every two games for his country) catches fire, then maybe they have a shot. But all signs point to an early exit for Mexico.

Continue reading

GAA Hawk-Eye Failure Justifies German Decision

bayer

The German Football League (DFL) has ruled out the introduction of goal-line technology in the wake of Bayer Leverkusen’s ‘ghost goal’ because of the standard of the available systems.

Few in Ireland would blame them given the discrepancies associated with such systems during this year’s Minor Hurling Championship.

Leverkusen claimed a 2-1 victory over an aggrieved Hoffenheim last weekend as a result of Stefan Kiessling’s 70th-minute goal, which came after his header had missed the target but crept in through a hole in the side netting.

Hoffenheim have called for the game to be replayed, but the German FA (DFB) has said it will abide by FIFA rules, which state that a referee’s decision is final once play has restarted. Continue reading

Ten Crucial Moments In European World Cup Qualifiers

BOS

With the nine automatic 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil qualification spots sealed in Europe, plus the eight contenders in the upcoming play-offs known, for many it is hard not to think how different it all could have been.

The final matchday of the European qualifying campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup saw group winners Bosnia-Herzegovina,England,Russia and Spain join already qualified Belgium,Italy,Germany,Netherlands and Switzerland on the plane to Brazil. Continue reading

Gibson Aims For Irish Return Following Trap Dismissal

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Everton star Darron Gibson is prepared to end his self-imposed Irish exile following the departure of manager Giovanni Trapattoni.

The 25-year-old Derry born midfielder made himself unavailable for his country since returning from Euro 2012 , where he didn’t feature as Ireland crashed to three straight defeats.

He has however revealed he is now available to return to the set up under a new manager , with Martin O’Neill still in pole position to replace the wily Italian. Continue reading

Five Irish Players Who Need A Move This August

kdAs all football fans know, the summer transfer window is a time of upheaval with fresh starts, new challenges and last chances for managers and players alike. However, sometimes there is a select few players that may be in need of a move to rekindle or enhance their international career.

Here we take a look at five Irish stars who all need a move before the transfer window slams shut at the end of August. Continue reading

News in Brief – A Year in Brief

Olympic TorchHAPPY NEW YEAR! How’s the head? Mouth feel like it’s full of Jedwards hair? What better way to start the New Year than tired, fat and saturated in booze?

It hasn’t been a bad year. Actually . . . Well anyway to celebrate the dawn of the unlucky for some 2013 News in Brief has taken a look back at some of the best stories from 2012.

2012 saw the evolution of lives lived online and cemented the necessity that is the internet across every aspect of our lives. And its propensity for porn. Seeing the potential in owning online, Kevin O’Shea from Waterford in a “moment of madness” bought the domains; finegael.xxx, sinnfein.xxx and fiannafail.xxx for €300; the X-rated dot-com equivalent known for its use in porn site web addresses. On his purchases O’Shea said, ” I was laid up with a broken leg and I had a lot of time on my hands. It was kind of like that film Rear Window where the main character goes a bit mad.”

Last year Irish author Julian Gough, took umbrage with the organisers of the eponymous Wodehouse literary prize after discovering their winner was secured before the short list was drawn up. The well sought prize for the winner of the Wodehouse award? Well the top author has the honour of bestowing their name on a pig. Gough offended by the fix in the competition stole the prize pig from its home in Wales threatening to return the animal “sausage by sausage” until the competition was made fair. In a twist to the tale, and despite Gough’s criminal activity, 2012 saw the writer once again short listed for the award.

A former drug addict helped her husband in his attempt to rob a building society disguised as a wheelchair bound woman. While Denise Ward, 39 waited outside in a car, Thomas Clark dressed in a black wig, threatened a Permanent TSB branch manager with an axe. However Clark and his 21-year-old accomplice were chased from the building by the manager, shouting; “would you ever f*** off”.

In other banking news Ulster Bank lost the run of itself also losing its customers cash somewhere. Taxes, the payment and avoidance of also dominated the news this year. British comedian Jimmy Carr’s lack of tax lead to controversy on this side of the water as well. Whilst we know certain superstars of our own *cough-German submarine named band-cough* have made use of off-shore, legal, tax reduction measures it is unlikely they will face a barrage like Carr as the Irish economy relies in part on the income of the `legitimate tax avoidance measures` we offer global companies such as Facebook, Google and Apple . And at least Ulster Bank apologised. Chief Executive, Jim Brown turned down this year’s bonus after the unmitigated disaster that has been Ulster Bank’s computer problems. Thanks Jim.

Starbucks found themselves in trouble after they “erroneously posted” a tweet on their @StarbucksIE account saying; “Happy hour is on! Show us what makes you proud to be British for a chance to win. Don’t forget to tag #MyFrappuccino”. Irish followers didn’t take well to the mis-tweet with comedy writer Colm Tobin calling it, “the social media equivalent of Oliver Cromwell kicking Fungi in the nose” and another tweeter suggesting Starbucks re-name frappuccino’s, ‘Trappachino’s’ for the duration of the Euro 2012. Of which the less said the better.

On a similar theme we all watched Eurovision didn’t we? You either love it or threaten to `shed the blood` of `European scum`. Oh dear. For a show that often receives a Marmite reaction an Islamic extremist group went a bit further threatening to use knives and chemical weapons in a terror attack on the Eurovision hopefuls in May. Irish entry Jedward were unfazed, tweeting `Just so you know the Jedward Baby Day Care is closed and will not be changing any diapers so go baby wee wee at your own home`. Quite.

Ah Jedward, the stalwarts or News In Brief what else have they done this year? Well another one turned up, then another two (although made of wax), they ran a marathon with no training and supported Westlife in their farewell tour in Croke Park – never will we see four men, so stoically and so expertly stand up from stools.

It was Jedward who carried the Olympic flame as well, as it crossed Irish soil. With population figures taken into account Ireland came fourth in the Paralympics and earned a total of sixteen medals across London 2012. Not too shabby and a source of great pride to the whole country who welcomed our champions home with great ceremony and celebration. First stop The Late Late Show where the host managed to make a mockery of the whole thing and get Adam Nolan’s name wrong, repeatedly. He certainly wouldn’t want to meet the boxing champion in the ring after calling him Andy throughout the show causing Adam to take to Twitter to endorse the return of Pat Kenny. And the gold medal for prize prat goes to Ryan Tubridy.

What’s longer than an olympic swimming pool and less watery? Well, a lot of things really, but particularly the journey Olympic gymnast hopeful Kieran Behan had to take get to China. Mr Behan had been invited to take part in a prestigious gymnastic event but due to mistakes regarding his visa, was forced to re-board his eighteen hour flight from Heathrow to Beijing. Back in England it was only after discussion with the Chinese embassy that Mr Behan was once again onboard and bound for the Chinese capital. Gymnastics Ireland have taken full blame for the blunder which has cost Keiran five days of important training.Mr Behan, who has overcome sever disability and injury to get to his position in the gymnastic world was understandably frustrated, a member of his team commented, `It was the world’s biggest cock up.`

2012 saw cuts to public services including the Gardai. A victim of a burglary was forced to go and pick up Gardai after she was told there were no patrol cars for them to use. The woman, from Newtowncunningham in Co. Donegal initially reported the incident at her home, before being told she had the choice of waiting for the nearest patrol car, which was 9km away at the Carrigans station, or collecting the Gardai herself to investigate the incident.

And who could forget the councillor in Cork that wanted to introduce DNA testing to determine the doggy culprits leaving mess all over the city’s streets? He’s hoping we all have.

Ah 2012 what a year. What will 2013 bring? Hopefully more of the same. A Westlife reunion, the continuation of Jedward, more government groaning, banking balls ups and the general news fodder that makes this country so great and gives News in Brief something to write about every week. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The Self Imposed Exile Of Darron Gibson

dgHeard the one about the talented Premier League ace whose self imposed exile has all but ended his international career?

You may be forgiven for asking which one, for if you are an Irish supporter you’re not exactly spoiled for choice.

First there was the notorious grannygate scandal enveloping Stephen Ireland, followed by Kevin Foley’s pre Euro 2012 heartache and more recently Darron Gibson’s anger at a lack of playing time at the forgettable competition.

The case of Aston Villa star Stephen Ireland is well documented and still to this day media reports link him with a return to the Irish fold.

In September 2007, Ireland was at the centre of controversy when, in the immediate aftermath of an Irish game and days before a crucial game against the Czech Republic, manager Steve Staunton informed him of a telephone call received from his girlfriend reporting the death of his maternal grandmother. Staunton quickly consented to Ireland’s compassionate leave on these grounds.

However the media quickly discovered that Ireland’s grandmother was not dead, at which point Ireland backtracked and announced it was his paternal grandmother who died but yet again this revolving tale of dead grannies was far from finished. Reporters discovered that Ireland’s paternal grandmother was also still alive and her relatives even went as far as threatening to sue one newspaper that reported her death. Ex Man City midfielder Ireland changed his story again, saying one of his grandfathers had divorced, and it was his second wife who had died. Hardly surprising that was also quickly discovered to be untrue.

Ireland eventually came out with the truth, admitting he had invented a reason to leave the Irish team in order to visit his girlfriend in Cork, who, he claimed, had a miscarriage. “I decided at that stage that I must tell the truth and admit I had told lies,” Ireland said. “I realise now it was a massive mistake to say my grandmothers had died and I deeply regret it.”

Irish manager Staunton was furious at Ireland, a player who was seen as having the potential to lift what was a sinking ship. Stan’s mood wasn’t helped by the fact Ireland lost 1–0 to the Czechs in a game which effectively ended their hopes of qualifying for the Euro 2008 championships. Ireland said his girlfriend had miscarried and that “caused us to panic.”

His wave of lies has split Irish opinion, many would gladly accept a player of his ability but then there are those who feel his antics make him unfit to wear the green jersey again. But while the media continue to link the Villa ace with a return to the Irish side, it’s not exactly a topic that many fear will come to a resolution any time soon. Not that many care for such a resolution anyway.

Rather it’s the more recent case of Everton midfielder Darren Gibson that has Irish fans crying out for a swift resolution.

The ex Manchester United star is one of the most prominent Irish players in the Premier League, so it comes as no surprise that fans are longing for his return.  Gibson has not featured in an Ireland squad since Euro 2012, having requested some time off following the disappointment of being an unused substitute in all three games in Poland.

Many cite Gibson as the latest victim of the Giovanni Trapattoni era. Poor communication and a no nonsense attitude has put an end to the international careers of Andy Reid and Stephen Reid, to name but a few. Shane Long and James McClean are two of Ireland’s brightest stars, both feature regularly in the Premier League yet run ins with Trap have re-signed them to limited roles, although Gibson’s case is more severe.

Derry born Gibson finds his opportunities in the Irish set up incredibly limited, lining up behind Keith Andrews, Glen Whelan and James McCarthy in the midfield pecking order. One could also place David Meyler, Paul Green and Wes Hoolahan above Gibson.

Trapattoni has revealed that Gibson has assured him he will be ready to return to the Irish squad for February’s friendly with Poland, but how often has Trap spun us a tale, only for the player to reveal the truth sometime later. If, and when Gibson returns, will he remain in the fold for the foreseeable future, as he is arguably further down the pecking order now than he was before his self imposed exile.

One thing that seems certain is that Gibson won’t enjoy a fruitful international career while the Italian remains in charge. The Everton midfielder would have been glad to see the back of Trap after the Faroes Islands game, only for the FAI to grant him a stay of execution.

Darron Gibson won’t be a key player at the 2014 World Cup, who says we will even make it to Brazil. The 25 year old does however have time on his side and it’s fairly safe to assume that he will be a prominent member of the Irish team who will be battling to reach Euro 2016, under the guidance of a new manager.

Whether Stephen Ireland will feature alongside him in that team is a question of much debate, but it’s not too far from reality to foresee it happening.

FAI Reaffirm Faith In Trapattoni

The Football Association of Ireland has confirmed that Giovanni Trapattoni is to stay on as Republic of Ireland manager.

The association released a statement last night confirming that the Italian would continue in his role, one he has held for four years.

The statement read: “While disappointed like everyone with the poor result and performance against Germany and understanding the frustration of some of our supporters, [we] believe the current position in the group means that qualification for Brazil in 2014 remains a realistic and achievable prospect.

“[We] reaffirm that Giovanni Trapattoni is to remain in charge of the national team.”

Many dissenting voices have emerged in recent months since Trap guided Ireland to Euro 2012, where there abysmal form saw them bow out without a single point. Further pressure was heaped on the Italian following a stuttering last gasp win over Kazakhstan. However things really came to a head after last week’s 6-1 hammering at the hands of Germany.

Many believed Ireland’s trip to the Faroe Islands would be the end of the Trap era, especially as he cancelled a scheduled Dublin press conference the following day. However Ireland’s 4-1 win in Torshavn appears to have swayed the decision of the power holders at the FAI and Trap, who has only ever lost two qualifiers (Russia and Germany), will remain in charge until the end of the qualifiers at least.

“We believe the current position in the group means that qualification for Brazil in 2014 remains a realistic and achievable prospect”.

The statement continued: “The Board recognizes the depth of feeling surrounding the team, the performances, the results and the manager, reflecting the passion which everyone in Irish football has for the game and will continue to work closely with the manager.”

Perspective-Superior Germans Have Problems Ireland Won’t Exploit

Will Jogi Be Jumping For Joy In Dublin?

Germany visit the Aviva Stadium to play against the Republic of Ireland in the World Cup qualifiers tomorrow. Given the 100% record in the EURO 2012 qualifiers plus reaching the semi finals, the Germans enter the match as clear favourites. The vast majority of the Germany squad play either for the strongest Bundesliga teams like Borussia Dortmund or Bayern München, or have established themselves in some of the biggest teams in Europe, like Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira at Real Madrid, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker at Arsenal or Miroslav Klose at Lazio.

The team continues to be one of youngest and most talented ones in the history of German football, but despite (or because of) that, things are not as rosy as they seem.

There are a couple of things that are certain with a team from Germany. Number one: We could supply several other national teams throughout Europe with goalkeepers. Manuel Neuer, Ron-Robert Zieler and Marc-André ter Stegen are the three selected, but there is another handful of keepers in the Bundesliga other countries would be proud of having on their bench, or even between the posts. René Adler, Roman Weidenfeller, Bernd Leno, Fabian Giefer,….

Number two: There will always be enough attacking midfielders around. Okay, this is a more recent development, but the point stands. Germany have the choice of fielding 3 of the following behind lone striker Miroslav Klose: Müller, Özil, Podolski, Reus, Schürrle or Götze. It is suspected that Müller, Özil and Reus will get to start, but every combination is a threat for the opponent.

But this uber-offer of creative, pacy wingers hints at one of the major problems Germany face now and even more in the future. With Gomez injured, there is only Klose up front. And not many strikers are really showing themselves in the league. As coach Löw hinted before the Euros, it is suspected that a 4-6-0 formation like Spain played last summer with Marco Reus in the “false nine” role might be the solution. However, this formation has never really been tested in a competitive match.

Speaking of problems, there is another one that exists for years and doesn’t look either like being solved in the future; the defence. Mats Hummels misses the qualifiers with a foot injury, Philipp Lahm pulled out of the games as well. This makes a centre back partnership of Per Mertesacker and Holger Badstuber quite likely. Mertesacker was benched recently while Badstuber played left-back for Bayern in their last matches. The two are not used to playing alongside each other, that might leave gaps.

Things on the fullback positions are problematic too. It says a lot about a country as big as Germany, that all hopes relied on Lahm to perform on either side. There simply isn’t a second good to great left- or right-back in Germany, let alone a replacement. Joachim Löw heavily criticized Dortmund left-back Marcel Schmelzer before the upcoming qualifiers because of his recent performances and was complaining he didn’t have many alternatives to choose from. It’s true that Schmelzer had a bad match against Austria last month and he has been occasionally found out against tougher opposition, but there are indeed not many replacements around, sadly. Boateng on the other flank, as Lahm’s backup, is expected to do a solid job, although nothing spectacular.

Okay okay, this is whining on a very high level, compared to Ireland’s problems. But these problems are enough to make people question Löw’s work as coach. However it is not expected to see him leave any time before the World Cup. Qualifying for a major competition is a box ticked by the German public and media, even before it starts. Therefore winning the group is a must for Löw and the team. And despite the Euro 2012 hangover the squad has, a few individual moments can make a difference against a spirited team performance. The game in Vienna last month is the best example, where two good moments in the match guaranteed two goals and the team was just about able to hang on to the three points, they didn’t deserve.

Key Man: Dortmund’s Marco Reus

All in all, these players now have found their form in the Bundesliga or the respective leagues and should be motivated enough to beat Ireland and then Sweden on Tuesday, at home in the Berlin Olympic Stadium.

Germany will line out like this: Neuer – Boateng, Mertesacker, Badstuber, Schmelzer – Khedira, Schweinsteiger – Müller, Özil, Reus – Klose.

Against a restructuring home team, those eleven (plus subs) should be well able to comfortably beat the Republic of Ireland. However, the last Germany win on Irish soil was in 1979 (3-1). Alright, only two games were played in Ireland afterwards, both ending in a draw. The most recent was a 0-0 in the Euro 2008 qualifiers; only Mertesacker, Schweinsteiger and Podolski are players who featured in that match and are back five years on.

I’ll say Germany has enough quality to beat Ireland comfortably, despite all the defensive problems I predict a 3-0 win for Germany to keep the 100% record in the qualifying group.

By Ansgar Löcke (@ansgarius_90)

Belgians Show Ireland That Success Starts At Home

European football is currently witnessing a revolution, one that has been simmering under the limelight for the past few seasons but is now fully realising its potential.

The football world has become synonymous with names like Dembele, Hazard and Verthongen, the backbone of a blossoming Belgium side that many are tipping for future success. Belgium, like Ireland, has never exactly been a football haven. There national side has enjoyed more success than Ireland in terms of qualifying for events but still it’s nothing worth bragging about. At club level its pretty much a similar story as Belgian teams have had limited success on the European front. Where it not for Anderlecht and Standard Liege then this revolution may not have been possible.

To the aforementioned trio add the names of Kompany, Vermaelen, Defour, Witsel, Fellaini and Lukaku, all household names on the European stage and it’s not hard to see why this team managed by Belgian hero Marc Wilmots looks set to shine. Throw rising stars in there such as Mirallas, Alderweireld and De Bruyne and one begins to instantly wonder how this team never made it to Euro 2012. Perhaps the Euros came too soon but Belgium were quite unlucky finishing two points off a playoff spot in what was a tough qualification group featuring a German side who won ten out of ten and a Turkish outfit  who narrowly pipped Belgium to second place.

The new golden generation of Belgium looks set to outshine its predecessors, who reached six successive World Cup’s between 1982-2002, which included a  4th place finish in 1986. They even finished as runners up at Euro 1980. Wilmots side have enjoyed a solid start to qualifying for Brazil 2014 grinding out a 2-0 win over Wales and a 1-1 draw with Croatia which is no mean feat, Irish fans would certainly agree.

But for all the prospects and potential this Belgian team has one wonders how Ireland cannot produce such a model for success giving we are country of a similar nature. Yes the Belgian population is double that of Ireland but in reality what does population matter if one has correct infrastructure?

The Belgian FA have incorporated a model for success, they are willing to do everything possible to provide themselves with success. The vision of Belgian football is quickly changing thanks in large part to the motivational factor whereby such a small country takes pride from punching well above their weight. Ireland have a similar outlook yet finances dictate success. Nonetheless the quality of the current Belgium team compared to Ireland is astounding as any of the Belgian players would walk into the Irish set up.

In recent years we have witnessed a reversal of our fortunes. The old guard of Given and Duff have retired while Dunne and Keane are on their last leg. Our input into European competition and the Premier League has steadily declined year after year. After all, how many Irish players will feature in this year’s Champions League?

Contrast this steady decline with the fortunes of the respective clubs in Belgium and Ireland. This season sees Anderlecht make a welcomed return to the Champions League group stages, a feat the 31 time Belgian champions last enjoyed in the 2006/07 season. The Belgian champions boast ten Belgians in their squad. Combine this ten with the current Belgian stars at other Champions League clubs such as Arsenal, Chelsea and Zenit and it’s not hard to see the Belgians mean business. Meanwhile, Aiden McGeady holds his head high as Ireland’s sole Champions League representative and League of Ireland clubs remain light-years’ away from reaching Europe’s premier club competition.

Of course we can talk with a bit more excitement when it comes to the Europa League. After all Shamrock Rovers did enjoy success qualifying for the group stages last year. However this historic feat was quickly forgotten as the Hoops failed to earn a single point and bowed out of the competition. How long will we wait for another Irish club to break such ground, something the Belgian sides do year upon year with relative ease.

The old adage that success starts at home is universally true. This rising Belgian outfit would be nothing where it not for the backing it’s football association affords its national league. Contrast this with Ireland and the ever lacking FAI involvement in the League of Ireland and it’s not hard to see why we are struggling at both international and club level. Indeed it says something about the difference between the LOI and the Pro League when you consider the numerous Irish stars who had to move abroad in recent years to get a sniff at pulling on the green jersey.

So while Wilmots leads this golden generation onto bigger and better things Irish fans can only wonder what might have been if the FAI had a similar dedication to that of their Belgian counterparts. The longer the FAI are devoid of hope and enthusiasm the longer Irish football as a whole will suffer.