Having arrived in Japan only two days prior to kickoff, Barcelona was expected to be playing at only 70 percent or so–and possibly fade in the second half. It didn’t happen. In spite of a 12-hour flight and a half day time difference, the Catalans put on a 90-minute display of the beautiful game, crushing Mexican champion Club America 4-0 at the venue for the 2002 World Cup Final.
The scoreline could have been much worse. The Mexican side had but one real chance at goal all evening, when former Argentine forward Claudio Lopez flubbed a beautiful pass that left him alone in front of the Barcelona keeper early on. After that, it was all Barcelona.
Playing in a steady rain in Yokohama, Deco guided the midfield with grace and aplomb, moving the ball around with tremendous pace. Up front, Ronaldinho only found the net once but confounded the Mexican defense throughout the match and set up Deco’s brilliant strike.
In the eleventh minute, Iceland international Gudjohnsen opened his account. Falling to his left, he curled in a low hard shot with his right foot against the flow of play. Barca’s next goal came from Mexican international Marquez who headed in from a corner in the 30th minute.
The first half ended at 2-0 and Barca having 65% of possession.
The second half continued the same way. After many close calls, Ronaldinho finally scored in the 66th minute. From close range, the Brazilian star picked up a loose ball with players all around him, feinted once, then pounded the ball into the upper right corner, just eluding the keeper’s outstretched hands.
Ronaldinho then set up the fourth and final Togel Singapore goal–a bullet from Deco–by feeding him and then body blocking a defender out of the way and thus clearing a path for the shot.
Barcelona is now in the Final. With a few days off to further acclimate and practice, they look nearly unbeatable.
I feel a genuine affinity with Alan Pardew; as I too have been unjustly dismissed from the workplace. My only ‘crime’ was being young and in love. Admittedly, it was wrong of us to consummate our relationship during working hours; but I remain convinced that the zookeeper overreacted.
Eggert Magnusson may well rue the decision to harpoon the former Hammer-head. Alan Curbishley is undoubtedly a competent replacement, but like Frank Lampard, he’ll take a while to find his feet. The ‘Egg man’ has handed Man U three points at a cracking 1/2.
Rio Ferdinand is unable to look back on his time at Upton Park with any real fondness; he has the memory span of a dead goldfish. Rio and Vidic look rock solid at the back, a United clean sheet appeals at 11/10.
Chelsea will have to beat Everton to keep pace with the leaders, and I’m absolutely convinced that they will. I’m all over the 4/7 like John Terry on a referee.
Let’s hope that Drogba keeps the theatrics to a minimum. (Diving is only ever acceptable after several lagers.) Didi looks the most likely first scorer at 9/2.
Roman Abramovic has placed £500m in a trust fund to secure Chelsea’s future. Ashley Cole was expecting £505m; he’s so upset about the situation he’s in talks with his publisher. I’m grabbing 5/2 about Chelsea winning 1-0 or 2-0.
Sol Campbell represented Arsenal on 197 occasions and he can justifiably feel proud that he avoided a breakdown in the majority of those matches. Sol returns with a Pompey team who have conceded 25 goals on their last 7 trips to Highbury; you’ll be mad if you miss the Gunners at 4/9.
The influx of foreign owners in the Premiership may appear a cause for concern, but like the ‘back-pass rule’ or giving women ‘the vote’, there’s nothing to fear in practice. Liverpool are quite rightly licking their lips at the thought of a cool Sheikh; I’m excited about 4/6 for a Pool win at the Valley.
Newcastle are suffering with injuries. Owen, Ameobi, Parker, Duff, Bramble, Moore, Bernard, Harper, Carr, Emre, Solano and Sibierski are either ruled out or doubtful; and in a stunning development, Kieron Dyer may also miss the game through injury. Watford can snatch a draw at St James’ Park at 13/5.
Apart from the top four places, the Premiership is completely wide open this season. The result of Reading v Blackburn could be absolutely anything; except for a draw or an away win. The Royals are smoking at 6/5.
Neil Warnock has been remarkably restrained on the touchline this season; i’ve a feeling that he’s about to explode like Robbie Savage when the average price of a caravan rose dramatically in the late 90s. Wigan look a great bet at 10/11 to light the spark.
El Hadji Diouf is suspended for the trip to Aston Villa; allowing him to spend some quality time at home with his wife. All the stats point to a draw like it’s a ginger boy in a ballet class. Get involved at 11/5.
Man City are unbeaten at home and Tottenham are yet to win away; the 6/4 about a home win looks a trifle too big. I expect City to come out all guns blazing from the start. In Manchester, that’s not a metaphor.
My computer is a lot like the wife, if the information is punched in correctly, positive results are guaranteed. My spreadsheet plays a sound if the odds offered by a bookmaker are greater than the actual probability of success; when I placed 5/4 next to Fulham, it whipped out a guitar.
Liverpool, Reading, Wigan, Chelsea and Fulham are the sure-fire selections for the weekend accer. The payout of 21/1 is so sweet; it reminds me of my first love. I’ll never forget you Ling-Ling.