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Federico Macheda – A Hero is Born

I realized yesterday why Old Trafford is called “Theatre Of Dreams”. A place where dreams come true as in the case of 17 year old Federico Macheda who scored a superb goal to give Manchester United the victory. 24 hours earlier, no one would have known who he was, but right now, probably all the football lovers everywhere know about him and he has also become the new hero of Italian press.

Everyone else including me might have been surprised to see him come on as a substitute. I was expecting Sir Alex to bring on someone experienced like Park Ji Sung or Danny Welbeck who has played a few cup games. But it was a gamble that paid off as the young Italian announced his arrival in English football in a brilliant fashion. So important was his goal that many are comparing it to the goal which Steve Bruce scored against Sheffield Wednesday in 1993 which gave Man Utd the victory as they went on the win the English Premier League. But most important is the fact that the goal gave Manchester United the belief that they can win the Premier League. read more »

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England 4 – 0 Slovakia

Even Though he may be a “Crazy Man” who likes delivering blows to the Corner flags, Wayne Rooney again showed why he is an important player for the England team as his superb performance outclassed Slovakia. The match served as a perfect confidence inducing platform for the England team as they prepare for there World Cup Qualifier against Ukraine on Wednesday. Prior to the match, a lot of talk was about Wayne Rooney and his dark and temperamental side but that was soon forgotten as England got the the things going. read more »

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Dutch Thrash Italy

Holland 3 – 0 Italy

(Nistelrooy 26, Sneijder 31, Van Bronckhorst 79)

 

_44731933_rvn_getty The World Cup Runner’s up suffered a draw, but the World Cup Winners suffered a more humiliating fate. Before the match, i didn’t think the Dutch had enough quality to win the Euro 2008 but the win and there style of play has definitely changed my mind. So good was there attacking and counter attacking play, that the Italians were brushed aside. And with a reliable goal keeper such as Van Der Sar, I am pretty sure that they have won there so called “Group of Death”. And this match might have been the best match so far of the Euro 2008 with Italy, despite there defeat, producing an attacking display. It was Italy who created the first chances with Di Natale’s cross failing to find Luca Toni and a few minutes later, Toni headed wide from a good position. For the Dutch, Van Nistelrooy had a good chance in 17th minute when he collected Kuyt’s pass and tried to round off Buffon. There was a contact but Nistelrooy choose to stand on his feet and missed the chance.

_44731939_wesley_getty Van Nistelrooy had much better luck in the 26th minute when he gave the Dutch a lead in controversial circumstances from an offside position. But according to the chairman of Austria’s refereeing commission, Gerhard Kapl, that Van Nistelrooy had been played onside by Italy defender Christian Panucci, who had been injured seconds earlier and was lying off the pitch. And the Dutch scored after 5 minutes, what could be “one of the best goal “ of Euro 2008. Italy won the corner and from the corner, Van Bronckhorst made a great clearance on the line, then he raced to attack , got the pass, and crossed it for Kuyt who headed it into the path of Sneijder who produced a neat finish past Buffon to score on his 24th birthday. It was a classic Counter Attacking goal from the Dutch. Nistelrooy had a great opportunity to kill the game three minutes before the interval when he was raced through by Sneijder but Buffon made a wonderful save.

Italy upped the Tempo after the break to try to get back into the game. Del Piero who was brought in place of Di Natale forced Van Der Sar into a smart save. He had another good chance few minutes later but he was off target. Luca Toni wasted one of the best chances for Italy when he lofted the ball over van Der Sar as well as over the bar. Van Der Sar was the hero again as he saved well from a Pirlo free kick and from the resulting play, Dutch got there third goal. The rebound on the save landed to Van Bronckhorst, who raced forward and set up Kuyt. Kuyt’s original effort was blocked by Buffon, but Kuyt got the ball again and crossed for Bronckhorst to head the third goal. It might have been worse for Italy had substitutes Affelay and Van Persie spectacular shots would have found the net. And the Dutch side help don to record a famous victory against Italy since 30 years. A wonderful performance by the Dutch which clearly sends the message that they are a force to be reckoned with.

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FA Cup Roundup

fergweng Before the fifth round draw of the FA cup, my sixth sense was telling me that Manchester United might get Arsenal, and when i saw the fifth round draw, I almost couldn’t believe it. Manchester United vs Arsenal, what a game that promises to be. Although i would have liked to see the two teams battling in the final, but I feel the game will be like a final. The teams are currently first and second in the league, and who can forget the classic 1999 semifinal which was settled by Ryan Giggs goal. The home advantage of United does give them a upper hand in the match but with these 2 sides, you just cant tell. Also as the ties take place during 16-17th Feb and both teams have big Champions League matches after some days, so it will be interesting to see what the teams might look like, which manager will give more importance to the FA cup. That can turn out to be a deciding factor here.

The magic of the cup lies in the fact that i opens a lot of opportunities for the non Premier League clubs also. This time we have only 6 Premier League teams left in the competition. And even after the fifth round, there will be at least 3 non Premier League teams in the quarter final. Although i don’t expect any of them to win the title, they do provide great matches and entertainment. Just look at the fourth round match between conference side Havant and Liverpool. Even though the score line of 5-2 suggests that Liverpool won it comfortably, that was not the case. Liverpool had to come from behind twice to beat them. Sheff Utd fought hard and knocked Manchester City out. These cup games can take so much pressure of the manager. Who might answer it better than Sheff Utd manager Bryan Robson who was booed by there own fans after loss to Sheff Wed but a Cup win against a Premier League club has changed all that and not to mention a home game against a Premier league club.

Liverpool and Chelsea have got relatively easy home games against Barnsley and Huddersfield. Portsmouth are traveling to face Preston. Portsmouth are another team that have a great chance in the cup. They have been fantastic this season in the league as well. Whatever happens , the next round is definitely going to be interesting.

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