Thursday, 9 September 2010

Hamburg impress as the Bundesliga is given a Ruud awakening..

A quick glance at the Bundesliga table in Germany and you would be forgiven for having to look twice at the current standings. It may be just two games into the new season but Hoffenheim are sitting pretty at the top of the table followed closely by newly promoted FC. Kaiserslautern. Champions League finalists Bayern Munich lie in twelfth place with Hamburger SV the only side of real recognition to have started with a 100% record.

Ex Manchester United and Real Madrid striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy leads the goal scoring table for Hamburg alongside VFL Wolfsburg’s Edin Dzecko, SC Freiburg’s’ Papiss Demba Cisse and FC. Kaiserslautern’s Srdjan Lakic with three goals. Dutchman Nistelrooy, who is still currently United’s tenth all-time scorer, has impressed since arriving at Hamburg and is showing ex-Madrid team-mate Raul how to perform in Germany’s elite league. ‘Superstar’ Raul has managed just one shot on target and 36 touches of the ball in 153 minutes on the pitch for Schalke and will hope to improve in the near future, starting with a tough away day in Hoffenheim.

It was no surprise that Nistelrooy adapted quickly to the German style of football, which is somewhat slower than the pace of the English Premier League and La Liga. The Dutchman terrorised defences in England and, despite not being as overly effective in Spain, still managed to hit the back of the net 46 times in 68 appearances. Spaniard, Raul, has been a top marksman throughout his career and it shouldn’t take long before the goals start to flow, however, with the end of his career approaching, perhaps this is the beginning of the end for the ex-Galactico.

From old to new and it’s time to introduce 21-year-old striker Marko Arnautovic. The young Austrian has signed a 4-year contract with Werder Bremen after spending a year on loan at Inter Milan under Jose Mourinho. Arnautovic had a frustrating season in Italy spending much of his time on the sidelines but after scoring two and assisting another in his first game for Bremen, the future is looking bright for the Austrian international. Signing from FC Twente, the winger come striker will be looking to curb his ‘dubious temperament’ and focus on his natural talent after being compared to Cristiano Ronaldo in German newspaper ‘Welt’. His new coach, Thomas Schaaf, has already described the youngster as ‘something special’ and Austria’s most capped player, Andreas Herzog, went as far as saying that Arnautovic is’ the best player Austria has produced in the past 30 years’.

Gameweek 3 Predictions
1899 Hoffenheim 1-1 Schalke 04
Borussia Dortmund 1-0 VFL Wolfsburg
Hamburger SV 2-0 1. FC Nurnberg
Borussia Monchengladbach 1-1 Eintracht Frankfurt
SC Freiburg 1-2 VfB Stuttgart
Hannover 96 1-1 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
FC Bayern Munchen 2-1 SV Werder Bremen
1. FSV Mainz 05 1-1 1. FC Kaiserslautern
1. FC Koln 3-0 FC St. Pauli

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

This One’s For Africa..

Qualification for the 2012 Cup of Nations begins in the Dark Continent.

See the champions, take the field now, you define us, make us feel proud.

Away from the mayhem of European Championship qualifying, the African stars of the 2010 World Cup were once again lining up for their national sides. The likes of Asamoah Gyan and Siphiwe Tshabalala appeared in the first set of competitive matches since the finals in South Africa.

The tournament, which is to be co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, will be the 28th edition with the winner going on to compete in the 2013 Fifa Confederations Cup in Brazil.

There were comfortable wins for Nigeria, Cameroon, South Africa, Ivory Coast and Ghana whilst Egypt were surprisingly held to a 1-1 draw against Sierra Leone.

Other notable results were Botswana’s 1-0 win away at Tunisia and Sudan triumphing 2-0 against a strong Congo side.

World Cup quarter-finalists Ghana look to be one of the favourites early on along with Ivory Coast, a side looking to recover from a premature exit in South Africa this summer.

Author’s Favourites: Ivory Coast

Players to Watch : Asamoah Gyan (Ghana) Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast)

Rising Star: Andre Ayew (Ghana)

Surprise Package: Sudan