FIFA and football fans react to Uruguay's Suarez bite

Tens of thousands of Argentina fans descended on Porto Alegre ahead of their final World Cup group match against Nigeria. But there was only one topic everyone was talking about — the Luis Suarez bite. Duration: 01:07

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World Cup 2006 Preview – Iran

Outright Odds: 750/1

Group D Winners: 14/1

Iran’s last appearance in the World Cup, back in 1998, produced a shock 2-1 victory over the United States, in what could have been described as a very diplomatic result. After qualifying emphatically for this year’s tournament, including a 2-1 home victory over Japan, Iran will be expected to more than merely make up the numbers.

Iran won nine out of their 11 matches and qualified with a match to spare, although were pipped to the top spot by Japan, who beat them in the return fixture in the final round of fixtures.

Their efforts did not go unnoticed and they ranked at an all-time high of 15 in June 2005, ahead of fellow qualifiers Ukraine and Sweden and European champions Greece. To give you some idea of their position in the world game, they were rated just one place below Italy.

Iran are blessed with a plethora of attacking talent. Veteran striker and captain Ali Daei is the most prolific ever in international football with over 100 goals to his name and he topped the Asian scoring charts with nine qualifying goals. He will be 37 in Germany and this will surely be his last major finals.

Hamburg’s Mehdi Mahdavika, who netted the decisive goal against the United States eight years ago and Bayern Munich’s Ali Karimi, who was crowned 2004 Asian Footballer of the Year will be recognisable to the domestic audience. Mahdavika has emerged as Iran’s major attacking force in Daei’s twighlight years and has been given license to support the attack rather than being restricted to his traditional spot on the right wing.

Striker Vahid Hashemian is another player with Bundesliga experience, plying his trade for Hannover 96 following a transfer from Bayern Munich, as does midfielder Fereydoon Zandi who plays for Kaiserslautern.

Iran are lead by Croatian coach Branko Ivankovic who has successfully rebuilt the side which failed to qualify for the 2002 finals after losing to the Republic of Ireland in the play-offs.

While the victory over the United States sticks in the memory, it is the country’s only victory in six attempts at the finals and overall the squad lacks experience at the highest level, especially in defence. While Ivankovic has turned Iran’s fortunes around, they will need more than good morale to see them through a tough qualifying group and their final match against Angola could be their only chance of success.

Recommended Bet:

Despite their improvement, it is unlikely Iran will get anything from their matches against Mexico and Portugal but their attacking prowess could yield a final match victory against Angola at odds-against.

Iran to beat Angola @ 6/4

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World Cup 2006 Preview – Trinidad & Tobago

Outright Odds: 1500/1

Group B Winners: 50/1

Trinidad & Tobago will be looking to cause a few upsets after qualifying for the World Cup finals for the very first time at the eleventh attempt. The ‘Soca Warriors’ beat Bahrain 2-1 across a two-legged play-off to reach Germany but also beat Mexico, ranked seventh in the world, along the way.

Dennis Lawrence headed in the decisive goal in Bahrain but it was the final North, Central American and Caribbean Zone group match against the 40/1 (Bet365) Mexicans that will be best remembered.

Trinidad & Tobago needed a win in order to beat Guatemala to the precious play-off spot but fell a goal behind and even missed a penalty before a Stern John double turned the match around to ensure a fourth-placed finish in the group.

Bustling striker John will play in attack with veteran striker Dwight Yorke. The former Manchester United and Aston Villa striker is nearing the end of his career and will be 35 in Germany. He came out of international retirement in 2005 to give it one last go, and although he is no longer the same player who helped United to complete their magnificent treble in the 1998/99 season, qualification is the final reward for a long and frustrating career for his country.

Yorke was part of the team that almost qualified for the 1990 finals and needed just a point against the USA to book a place in Italy. However, the United States scored a last-gasp winner to qualify themselves at Trinidad & Tobago’s expense.

Manager Leo Beenhakker, formerly of Holland, Real Madrid and Ajax has worked wonders for this tiny country with a population of just 1.3 million – the smallest competing nation in the finals. He has managed to get the best out of a limited pool of players, many of which play at a low standard for the clubs.

However, there is a strong «British contingent» that will make watching Trinidad & Tobago interesting for UK audiences. As well as Yorke and John, the starting XI includes Kelvin Jack (Dundee), Brent Sancho (Gilklingham), Marvin Andrews (Rangers), Dennis Lawrence (Wrexham), Chris Birchall (Port Vale), Kenwyne Jones (Southampton) and Carlos Edwards (Luton).

Being thrust onto the world stage is a big ask for some of the players but they need to look at Jamaica in the 1998 World Cup for inspiration. If they can beat either England, Sweden or Paraguay, that would go down as the country’s greatest result in history. Recommendation:

Trinidad & Tobago’s best chance of success could come in the final group game. If Paraguay are out of the reckoning, Trinidad & Tobago could battle their way to a draw at tempting odds.

Paraguay vs Trinidad & Tobago draw @ 13/5

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What Team Will Come Out On Top At Euro 2012?

At International tournaments the competition is always fierce with a number of top teams all capable of winning the tournament. Going into Euro 2012, Spain are certain to be the favourites for the tournament having won Euro 2008 and the World Cup in 2010. However there are a number of countries all capable of winning the tournament and at the last few it has not necessarily been the favourites that have won.

Spain’s popularity is huge, this is seen clearly with the number of Euro 2012 Spain football shirts that have been sold, and since their recent successes there is huge expectation on them to continue to succeed and progress. It certainly isn’t going to be easy for them with Italy, Holland, Germany and England to name a few all building great squads who are all looking to perform well at the Euros and take the trophy home with them.

Germany and Holland looked particularly string at the World Cup in South Africa and with their players now being a year older, certainly in Germany’s case where they had a lot of younger players in the squad, they look to be even stringer and could go all the way at Euro 2012. Italy is going through a transition period and bring through younger players which could rejuvenate the squad and allow them to compete again at the top of international football.

As always, there will be a lot of attention paid to England’s chances of winning the tournament with a huge amount of expectation from the fans. England had a disappointing tournament in South Africa but they are starting to see some fresh players like Jack Wilshere come into the squad which could help to change the fortunes of England. There is no doubt that the England Euro 2012 soccer jerseys will be amongst the most popular shirts sold during the tournament and that there will be a huge number of England fans making the trip over to Poland and Ukraine.

At the moment Spain are certainly the team to beat and look unstoppable just now but there is a while to go until the big kick off and depending on how fit all the players are and who comes through for other teams it may not be quite as easy for Spain as it has been for a number of years. It is certainly safe to say that there will be a huge amount of competition this year and that the winning Euro 2012 football shirts will certainly be the most sought after kits of the year.

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La Banda Del Parque (Club Nacional De Football-Uruguay) Historia

¡ Sean todos bienvenidos al paravalancha !
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World Cup 2006 Preview – Switzerland

Outright Odds: 150/1

Group G Winners: 4/1

Switzerland qualified from the same group as Group F opponents France and also remained unbeaten in 10 qualifying matches, with four wins and six draws. After finishing in runners-up spot they faced Turkey, a side they had beaten just once in their history, in the play-offs. After winning the first leg 2-0 they almost lost their nerve and needed to rely on the away goals rule as Turkey won the return 4-2.

The line between success and failure was a narrow one in the tightest of all the European groups. Switzerland finished level on points with Israel, but made the play-offs due to a superior goal difference.

Manager Jakob «Kobi» Kuhn has revived the national team’s fortunes since taking charge in 2001. He was the first Swiss coach to guide his country in 12 years and qualified for Euro 2004 and now the finals in Germany.

Switzerland have never been mainstays of the World Cup which makes qualification a real achievement. They reached the second round in 1994 but have failed to qualify for the last two tournaments. They reached the quarter finals in 1934, 1938 and 1954.

Kuhn has put together a talented young side in stark contrast to France resorting to lure their old-timers out of retirement. Up front they have at their disposal last season’s French league’s top goalscorer in Alexander Frei.

He is partnered by 20-year-old Johan Volanthen, who became the youngest goalscorer in European Championship history two years ago. Volanthen, with a mixture of Colombian flair and Swiss know how has been dubbed the Wayne Rooney of Switzerland and he will be under pressure to perform.

Ludovic Magnin of VfB Stuttgart is a creative left back with an eye for set-pieces while the team is captained by Johann Vogel, now at AC Milan with over 70 caps to his name.

Their main downfall could be a lack of nerve on the big stage. They were 3-0 up on aggregate against Turkey in the play-offs but the tie ended 4-4 on aggregate and there are question marks over goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbuhler, incidentally the only player over the age of 30 in the expected starting line-up.

But, after going 10 games unbeaten in qualifying, Switzerland should fear nobody, especially opening match opponents France, who they drew twice with along the way to Germany.

Recommended Bet

If Switzerland does not suffer an attack of nerves they pose an excellent betting opportunity to win Group G at tempting odds. They face France in their opening match and have arguably easier opponents in South Korea and Togo thereafter.

Switzerland to win Group G @ 4/1

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World Cup 2006 Preview – Costa Rica

Outright Odds: 500/1

Group A Winners: 16/1

Costa Rica are living proof that when it comes to football, size does not matter. The Ticos have generally been mainstays in the World Cup finals despite having country 40 times smaller than Mexico and a population of just four million. The Ticos eased to third place in their qualifying group and will aim to compete against the «bigger» sides in this year’s Finals.

Despite their overall comfortable qualification, Costa Rica almost fell at the first hurdle, a qualifying match against Cuba in which they scraped through on away goals. They re-appointed former coach Alexandre Guimaraes who guided them to the last World Cup and he has turned the team around.

Costa Rica sent out a warning, but ultimately revealed their main weakness in a recent friendly against former champions France. They raced into a two goal lead in Martinique but eventually lost the match 3-2. Their weak defence will be their main downfall and 14 goals conceded in 10 qualifiers, including five against Honduras and three at Guatemala does not bode well for more seasoned opposition.

However, where their strengths lie is in attack. Winston Parks, Walter Centeno and veteran striker Paulo Wanchope means the side will always be able to create and score goals but there is always the danger they may concede them in greater numbers. Costa Rica missed out on the knockout stages in the 2002 World Cup to Turkey due to their superior goal difference. Wanchope, his country’s all-time top scorer with 43 goals in 67 international matches will retire after the tournament and is looking for one final hurrah before hanging up his boots for good.

Guimaraes will be keen to repeat the success of the 1990 team which reached the second round on their debut following victories over Sweden and Scotland. With Group A opposition in Poland and Ecuador, there is the possibility of an upset on the cards.

If they can nick a result or two like they did back in the 2002 World Cup, a victory over China and draw with Turkey, then qualification is not beyond them. However, looking back to the heavy 5-2 group stage defeat to Brazil, if the defence does not improve, a gallant but narrow defeat may be on the horizon.

Recommended Bet:

You could not bet confidently on Costa Rica winning or even qualifying from the group stage to emulate their exploits in the 1990 World Cup. However, there may be some value in the individual match betting.

If Germany start the tournament slowly, Costa Rica could catch them cold in the opening fixture and snatch a point. There could be a possible upset in their second match against Ecuador who are themselves no great success on the big stage.

Germany vs Costa Rica draw @ 4/1

Publicado en Todas las noticias del fútbol mundial | Comentarios desactivados en World Cup 2006 Preview – Costa Rica

World Cup 2006 Preview – South Korea

Outright Odds: 250/1

Group G Winners: 10/1

South Korea shocked the football world four years ago when they beat Italy and Spain to reach the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup. It was a remarkable achievement. In the group stage, an opening match win over Poland and a shock 1-0 triumph over Portugal ensured they became the first Asian team to qualify from the group stage since Saudi Arabia in 1994.

In the second round they defeated Italy in extra time, a result which saw winning goal scorer Ahn Jung-Hwan sacked by his employers at Serie A club Perugia. They edged past Spain on penalties in the quarter finals before a narrow 1-0 defeat against Germany in the semis brought their fairytale run to an end.

Expectations have risen considerably since then and Guus Hiddink is a hard act to follow. During qualification Korea went through two coaches before fellow Dutchman Dick Advocaat took over in preparation for the finals in Germany.

South Korea were far from convincing during qualification and Hiddkink’s successor, HUmberto Coelho, lasted just two qualifying matches. He resigned after an embarrassing goalless draw against the Maldives whose recent pedigree includes a 12-0 defeat to Syria and 17-0 hammering against Iran.

Jo Bonfrere took over and despite guiding the team to their fifth successive World Cup finals, quit in August 2005 following lacklustre performances. Korea finished as runners up in their qualifying group but endured home and away defeats to Saudi Arabia and an away draw to lowly Uzbekistan.

While Hiddink enjoyed nearly half a season with the team four years ago in preparation for the 2002 finals, Advocaat, by comparison, has barely had a chance to get to know his squad.

South Korea will no longer be seen as an unknown quantity and a number of players are excelling at club level in Europe. Hiddink took a number of quality players with him to PSV Eindoven following the last tournament while Park Ji-Sung secured a move to Manchester United.

It can also be argued that Korea have struggled defensively since some of their veteran defenders retired since the last World Cup. Notably former captain and defensive lynchpin Myung Bo Hong who participated in the 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2002 finals, eventually retiring with 135 caps.

Recommended Bet

Following an exceptional run four years ago, South Korea could revert back to their old ways of not making it past the group stage. Expectation is at an all-time high but they could suffer a shock against Togo in their opening match who could be good enough for a draw.

Togo vs South Korea draw @ 9/4

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