Archive for the ‘Winning week and weekends’ Category

Jumpers for Goalposts – May 5th

The boys are back and better than ever!

In a week that saw racism rows, a gun-wielding mascot, and diving Tom Daley would be proud of, a few games of football broke out!!

Join Sahil Jaidka, Colin Stone and Ewan McQueen as they are steered, somewhat carelessly, through the murky waters of British and European football by host Stef Meens.

As always, we’re also available on iTunes.

We Don’t Give an F-Duct – Malaysia

Join Stef Meens and Elliot Busby as they take you through the weekends F1 action. The lads talk through all the hot topics following the Malaysia race, including Russian Vitaly Petrov’s outrageous rallying demonstration, Hamilton and Alonso’s crash, and Scotland’s very own Paul Di Resta.

Enjoy.

Also available on iTunes!

"The Rudderless Russian" - Vitaly Petrov

Jumpers for Goalposts – (12/04/11)

JFG is back with strong opinions and misled, ill-informed football banter.

Stef is back in the hot seat and is joined in Jumpers for Goalposts HQ by Elliot Busby, Stu Martinez and Ewan McQueen.

Also listen out for a cameo from our roaming European reporter Colin Stone, who has taken a tactical trip to Gelsenkirchen to take in the Schalke vs Inter game.

Up for discussion are the PFA awards nominees, Super Mario Balotelli (as usual) and Europe’s finest teams in the Champions League.

We also have a quick trip around Europe visiting the Serie A, La Liga and Bundesliga as the season hits the business end.

Hit us up on Facebook and/or Twitter, and remember to subscribe on iTunes.

Jumpers for Goalpost – Episode 8

Ill informed host Stef Meens, alongside regular cronies Stu Martinez and Elliot Busby, are joined in the studio by Ewan McQueen and Sahil Jaikda for this weeks jammed packed edition of JFG.

Amongst the chaos, topics debated include Chelsea’s David Luiz lead resurgence, Arsenal’s goalkeeping woes, Balotelli’s severe case of bibitis, the bizarre lap dancing double life of Fabio Capello and El Hadji Diouf’s Cooperative Cup final truimph. Not to mention Wigan’s elusive winger Daniel De Ridder.

Listen below or, if you haven’t already, subscribe to us on iTunes. Search the store for ‘Champions Chat’.

Jumpers for Goalposts Episode 7

In a week of strange red cards, fat goalkeepers and Jens Lehmann, the JfG lads are here to guide you through it all.

Our resident foreigner Stef Meens is joined by Elliot Busby, Colin Stone and Stu Martinez to discuss the hot topics.

Listen below, or even better subscribe to us on iTunes, that way you’ll never miss a show! Just search the iTunes store for ‘Champions Chat’.

Enjoy.

One of the many stars mentioned on this week's Jumpers for Goalposts: professional fatty and Ajax Goalie Jeroen Verhoeven

 


Preview PSV-Rangers: Dont expect total football Eindhoven fans

On Thursday night, Scottish champions Rangers will go to the Phillips Stadion in Eindhoven to entertain Dutch league leaders PSV.

After Stef Meens preview of the Dutch side, I am going to preview the Scottish champions and analyse their chances for Thursday night.

I am writing this a few hours after watching Rangers win their latest match against St Mirren in the SPL. They will have to play a lot better against PSV, if they are to bring any sort of result back to Scotland.

They struggled for long periods of the game against a side 2nd bottom of the SPL. At points, they struggled to make simple passes to each other and looked devoid of creativity.

On Thursday night Rangers will also have a number of players out including £4m striker Nikica Jelavic, who is ineligible for the Europa League, Steven Naismith, one of their top performers this season and Lee Mcculloch, always a presence in midfield among others.

However, there are positives for Rangers to be taking into this game. Firstly, the formation that Walter Smith puts out very rarely fails in European competition, especially away from home.

3 years ago, Rangers got to the Uefa Cup final based on their away form, although in each case they had played the first leg at home. However, this Rangers side seem to adapt very well away from home, containing the opposition for long periods of the game and trying to hit them on the counter attack.

They did this successfully in the last round in Lisbon,although they did look shakier in defence than they had done in previous matches.

Depending on who is fit, it looks likely either El Hadji Diouf or Kyle Lafferty will play the lone striker role. If Rangers wish to get anything out of this game, I think Walter has to go with Diouf. For all his faults and there are endless ones, he played this role against Lisbon a hell of a lot better than Lafferty.

Lafferty missed a barrel load of chances against the Portuguese side in the first leg and for a big striker doesn’t easily bully defenders.

Diouf hasn’t exactly set the world alight since joining Rangers but his best performance in a blue jersey did come in Lisbon, when he scored his teams opening goal. Lets not forget, he was a man Liverpool once paid £10m for. He could possibly be the man to give Rangers that bit of spark to get a priceless away goal.

That spark could also come from Steven Davis. The midfielder was the best player in Scotland last season, although he has been poor this season by his standards. In recent weeks, he has came back into some form and can still boss midfield with his range of passing and drive.

However, I fear this game may be a very defensive affair and Rangers will be at the forefront of it. PSV are a dangerous attacking side, who even scored 10 goals in one game this season and put 5 goals past Lille in the round of 32.

Rangers defenders will need to focus 100% for 90 minutes, something they have shown time and time again over their last few European campaigns. Before dropping into the Europa League, they performed admirably in a tough Champions League group, the highlight being a backs-to the wall draw against Man Utd at Old Trafford. Whilst PSV may not be in Utd’s calibre, they are a better side than Lisbon, so Rangers can ill afford the mistakes they made for the two goals they conceded in Portugal.

Rangers defence looks likely to be weakened by the loss of Sasa Papac, one of the side’s most consistent performers. The back 5- including goalkeeper Allan Mcgregor almost rolls of the tongue for Rangers fans- Mcgregor, Whittaker, Weir, Bougherra, Papac. That will need to be re-jigged in Eindhoven, so that is something that PSV could exploit.

However, on the plus side for Rangers, Richard Foster has performed well in European games this season and will probably slot in at right back, with Steven Whittaker switching to left back.

Filling the last gap in the Rangers defence will be Kyle Bartley an on-loan signing from Arsenal. Bartley has performed well since joining in January and scored the winner against St Mirren today. His presence and pace could be a great asset for his team in coping with PSV’s strikers.

Rangers will need to have some luck to not concede against a side that are scoring at a rate of almost 2.5 goals a game, 44 of those coming at home, where they have only lost twice.

PSV could well become frustrated at the Scottish sides defensive play and that could let Rangers in for a killer away goal. The game will be decided by the team that keeps their discipline and possibly doesn’t tire towards the end of the 90 minutes. Both sides have dangerous players in their line-ups,although Rangers will badly miss Nikica Jelavic.

It would be a significant achievement if Rangers came back to Scotland with an away goal or even a goalless draw, which would put them in a strong position for the 2nd leg.

Preview PSV – Rangers: A dull game on the cards in the City of Light

After being kicked out of the Scottish Cup by Old Firm rivals Celtic, Rangers  remain in the hunt for three trophies. The SPL crown is still within their grasp and the Carling Cup final against the Celts is a realistic chance for domestic silverware. In the Europa League, Rangers face Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven.

The Dutch side have bounced back from a weak start of 2011 with six convincing wins out of the last eight . They drew against rivals Ajax, a game which they dominated and a certain victory was denied by an outstanding performance by Ajax goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.

Despite losing to this year’s Eredivisie revelation Ado Den Haag (currently fifth after years of relegation battles), PSV are confidently leading the Dutch league with champions FC Twente trailing three points.

The team from Eindhoven (known as the City of Light because of the Philips headquarters) made it into the last 16 of the Europa league by beating current French league 1 leaders Lille and finishing first in their relatively easy group(FC Methalist Kkarkiv, Sampdoria and Debreceni VSC). Fred Rutten, the PSV coach, in the Netherlands known as the most cautious man in football, said his side  face a tough draw against Rangers.

However, his analysis after last week’s Old Firm proves PSV hardly fear the Gers firepower: “The atmosphere was amazing and I saw a lot of passion on the pitch. Rangers are a physically strong side who try to defend well; it will be hard to score against them.”

Rutten might not seem too impressed, but what does his team have to offer when they play host to the Scottish champions?

PSV have a long tradition of finding talented strikers who excel in the Eredivie and later become top goal scorers in Europe’s biggest leagues. Romaria, Ronaldo and Van Nistelrooy are the best examples with  Mateja Kezman and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink  only scoring convincingly in the Eredivisie or SPL.

A couple of years ago, PSV found another Brazilian wonder kid: Jonathan Reis. After problems concerning his attitude (caught using cocaine) the talented striker was finally on the right track scoring and creating chances like his illustrious countrymen. However an injury leaves him out  for the remainder of the season.

His replacement, Marcus Berg, who is on a loan spell from Hamburg, hasn’t settled into the team. Another striker, Danny Koevermans,  is causing a bit of trouble in the dressing room expressing his unhappiness regarding his lack of playtime. In other words, PSV lack a reliable number 9.

Despite this they are in their most productive season since 2000. Their main threat comes from three players: Jermain Lens, Balasz Dzsudzsak and Ola Toivonen.

Dzsudzsak (left) and Toivonen (right) produced 27 goals and 17 assists in this season's Eredivisie so far

Despite he hasn’t yet showed his top form, Lens is a very fast winger/second striker, deadly on the counter attack. However, PSV’s real entertainers are Toivonen and Dzsudzsak, the latter being the most threatening forward in the Eredivisie with 14 goals and 12 assists. He has a fantastic right foot and great ability to pass his man.

Swedish international Toivonen has stood up to fill the void left by Barcelona midfielder Ibrahim Afellay. He doesn’t have the Dutch international’s quick feet but the Swede compensates with power, strength and good runs into the box.

However, PSV’s problem lies in their lack of movement. Even their star players like Dzsudzsak and Toivonen are better with the ball instead of finding space without it. Thus at times PSV’s play can be static and dull.

Although former Aston Villa Captain Wilfred Bouma is good in moving up the pitch from his position as a centre back, the two central midfielders Bakkal and Engelaar, both physically very strong, lack the quick feet to set up a flowing passing game.

In other words, if Rangers can pressure PSV early on and high up the pitch, PSV have little creativity left than to cross a long ball towards Toivonen or Dzsudzsak.

The goalkeeper, Danish international Andreas Isaksson never looks confident. He is a typical goalie who won’t make to many mistakes in a season but he won’t win you games either. He is particularly vulnerable  for crosses and corners through the air. Rangers should test him as much if they can, even from long-range.

In reality the first match in Eindhoven is not likely to become a classic. Rangers will hope to keep a clean sheet and with a bit of luck score on a counter attack.  PSV will rely on their excellent defensive record and will patiently wait for their forwards to strike.

With the lack of movement in either squad, this could mean that Thursday’s match might become more a battle of fitness and physical strength rather than one in which finesse and technique will determine the outcome.

Strong points
They always score and remain patient
Dangerous on the counter attack
Physically strong midfield

Weak points
Goalie Isaksson
Lack of movement and passing since Ibrahim Afellay left
Without reliable number 9 after injury Reis

Key players:
Dzsudzsak
Toivonen
Bouma

Stef Meens

Back to Parkhead and looking forward to Eindhoven

After the Old Firm cup tie, enough has been said about the managers and the players getting into fights and arguments. So before we forget about the most important thing (football) here is a recap of the game.

Don’t worry folks, next Tuesday, the Jumpers For Goalposts lads will debate settle the debate on the Old Firm once and for all so tune in for the podcast on Champions Chat.

We will also discuss Rangers and their chances against PSV Eindhoven in Europe, with a special contribution by host and professional Dutchman Stef Meens on PSV, a team he knows inside out. Ewan McQueen will provide a preview from a Scottish point of view so keep an eye out for the Champions Chat blog page!

In the meantime, let’s go back to Parkhead with Ashleigh McGinley

Celtic  1 – 0  Rangers

Ally McCoist and Neil Lennon bust up as 3 Rangers players are sent off in a stormy Scottish Cup fifth round replay.

Steven Whittaker was the first to be sent off by referee Calum Murray in the 35th minute after picking up his second booking for fouling Emilio Izaguirre and consequently the remaining time became an almost impossible uphill struggle for the injury stricken visitors.

Mark Wilson became the hero of the night three minutes into the second half when he fired home what turned out to be the only goal of the night.

Rangers defender Madjid Bougherra, was sent off in injury time after picking up his second caution of the night for a foul on Kris Commons, and after the game, the unruly El-Hadji Diouf’s dissent came when he approached Murray as the two benches clashed.

With a victorious win at their home ground, Celtic booked themselves a place in the quarter-finals away to Inverness Caledonian Thistle and will be firm favourites to win the tournament and end the season with a domestic treble.

With Rangers losing two players in the run up to kick off, as Nikica Jelavic dropped out with a knee injury and Kyle Lafferty with tonsillitis, Walter smith opted for the same side which battled through the Europa League tie last week against Sporting Lisbon. The 5-4-1 formation was for strong defence.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon drafted in Georgios Samaras at the expense of Anthony Stokes who was dropped to the bench.

In the early stages of the match, it was clear that the injury ravaged Rangers side were struggling as they barely managed to get out their own half and Sasa Papac escaped an early yellow card after felling Wilson.

However, in the 12th minute, the away side were faced with a half chance when former Liverpool striker, Diouf raced through right wide leaving Zaluska off his line and his goals unprotected. Diouf’s cross in from the byline was quickly cleared by a swift header from Celtic defender Daniel Majstorovic.

Skipper, Scott Brown who continued his on-going feud with Diouf in the first half, took advantage of a clear run with the ball through the away sides defence but was unable to get past McGregors quick grasp.

Celtic midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung took a chance with a fierce left foot from the distance without any success.

Murray’s patience began to wear thin in the 28th minute and Whittaker picked up the first yellow card for fouling Ki. The Rangers midfielder made his early walk down the tunnel just seven minutes later with a reckless challenge on Izaguirre resulting in a further yellow card and then a red card.

The incident threw the game into further disorder after a touchline confrontation between Diouf and Lennon resulted in the Rangers striker being booked and both Neil Lennon and Ally McCoist receiving a warning from referee, Murray.

When play resumed a nearly costly mistake by Maurice Edu helped Georgios Samaras with a free shot at the Rangers goal but goalkeeper McGregor made a good block and the ball ended up out of play.

As the eventful first half drew to a close, Brown became the next player to join the book shortly followed by Rangers John Fleck who was also cautioned.

The tension on the pitch was carried on down the tunnel at half time when another altercation broke out between Celtic assistant, Johan Mjallby and Rangers defender, Kyle Bartley.

Celtic were in the driving seat at the start of the second half when Wilson took them into the lead just 3 minutes in.

Izaguirre’s cross from the left found fellow full-back, Wilson at the far side of the box but was superbly headed off the line by Papac – but the ball rebounded back to Wilson who quickly found the target.

Papac failed to recover from his headed clearance and was stretchered off the pitch and replaced by Gregg Wylde.

Bougherra was given his first caution of the night for a foul on Celtic striker, Gary Hooper who required treatment off the park before returning to play.

It was clear the home side were dominating and in the 63rd minute Samaras fired a shot against the left hand side of the Rangers post. The Hoops striker had a further two chances to score which were quickly cleared by McGregor and Wylde.

Rangers only real shot at a goal came in the final stages of the second half after a foul on Bartley gave Diouf a free kick, but the striker fired the ball straight at Zaluska.

In the last few minutes of injury time, Bougherra was given his marching orders after fouling Commons.

As the final whistle went, Diouf quickly followed Bougherra after approaching referee, Murray and another touchline clash between Lennon and McCoist ended in both being separated as the controversial match drew to a close.

 

Why Rangers MUST win Sundays Old Firm game

Is my heart ready for another one?Yes, folks on Sunday it’s round four of SEVEN Old Firm games that will be played this season.

As a fan of the visitors on Sunday, I feel we must go there and win. As much as it pains me to admit, Celtic are playing some superb free-flowing football at the moment, having been unbeaten in 16 games since losing to Hearts in November.

I was one of the harshest critics of Lennon when he lost big games such as Ross County in April, Utrecht in August and the first Old Firm game. However, after winning the New Year game at Ibrox, he really has got them motoring.

On Sunday we must put the brakes on their supposed charge to the title. We had a big chance to do so last Sunday, but we blew it big time. No matter who we are playing, if they go down to 10 men, we must put the game to bed. It was criminal that we didnt and for the first time in a while, I started to doubt Walter. He must put that right on Sunday.

Forget all this rubbish about we have games in hand. We need points on the board and fast.

We put down a marker earlier in the season when we went there and won 3-1 in October. Usually I say I dont care how much we win by or who scores but I think we need to go and win by a similar scoreline to knock the stuffing out of them. If you look at their results after that game, they dont make good reading for Lennon. They lost to Hearts, only won in injury time against St Mirren and drew at home against Dundee Utd and Inverness.

Im looking at the timing of the game as well. Win this and we are two points behind with 2 games in hand. Lose it and we go 8 behind with fixtures piling up.

There is also the small matter of the cup replay at the same ground just 12 days later. Win on Sunday and we go into that with renewed momentum, lose on Sunday and the curtains on Walters final season could be drawn by April.

Smith will know he has been outwitted in the last two games and he’ll be hurting as much as the fans. Get it right, like he has so many times on Derby day and Lennon’s inexperience in a title run-in as a manager could be cruelly exposed.

Put simply, Walter is the greatest manager that Rangers have had in my lifetime. He will want to go out with a bang, not with a whimper. The run-in to a potential domestic Treble begins in 6 days.

We have signed players that are too good not to win a league title. Nikica Jelavic, El Hadji Diouf and Vladimir Weiss are all proven internationals and Premiership quality. I have freely admitted that some of Lennon’s signings have been superb such as Izaguirre and Hooper. However, they havent experienced a title-run in like most of the Rangers squad have and like Lennon that could prove fatal for the team in the East End.

I hope Rangers go there and attack. None of this 5-4-1 or 4-5-1 rubbish. We need to go there and put them under pressure from the first whistle. Look at their forums and some are already predicting the title is on the way to Parkhead. Some are saying they will win 5-0 on Sunday. We were the same around the New Year game and look what happened.

Lets hope history repeats itself as Ill end with this. Can you imagine Lennon’s celebrations in May if he does win the SPL?

That is a nightmare that I hope doesn’t become reality.

Ewan McQueen

Behold! It’s Six Nations time!

The start of the RBS 6 Nations is an exciting time for any rugby fan. For me, it signals the beginning of Spring. Although it may still be below freezing outside, the tournament brings fresh hope and entusiasm to the competing nations.

The old cliche, ‘the romance of the cup’ is rarely more evident than in this proud tournament. The mutual respect between rival fans is what makes it so special. Meeting England fans in an Edinburgh pub after beating them at Murrayfield proves this. Settling your differences over a pint, something that would not be found after an Old Firm game in Glasgow, or following a Liverpool-Everton match on Merseyside.

This years competition is being branded as one of the most open yet, with at least three of the six sides predicted to challenge for the title. 2011 could prove to be the year of the youngster in European rugby union. Every one of the 6 nations has their fair share of injury troubles, prompting the call-up of many new caps, and with the World Cup in the summer the youngsters will be keen to impress. See below a quick summary of all the competing nations, including past honours, injury troubles and their chances at claiming the title this time around.

France:

  • Favourites for 2011 6 Nations.
  • Won Grand Slam in 2010, which included a dominant 33-10 win over Ireland in Paris.
  • The only side with a clean bill of health.

England:

  • Last won the tournament in 2003, when Martin Johnson Captined the side to their first Grand Slam.
  • Viewed by many as equal favourites with France.
  • Very strong, physical forwards.
  • They are injury ridden however, missing 4 key forwards including Lewis Moody and Tom Croft.
  • Centre Mike Tindall has been handed the captaincy for the opening game against Wales on Friday (4th Feb).

Ireland:

  • 2009 Grand Slam Champions.
  • Had a relatively poor championship last year, but still managed 2nd place.
  • This year they have a lot of injury problems, with British Lions players Tommy Bowe, Rob Kearney and Stephen Ferris all out.
  • Ireland could easily slump this year, but are in good form having won their last two test matches, and will want to start strongly against Italy in Rome, on Saturday (5th Feb).

Wales:

  • Since winning the Grand Slam in 2009, Wales haven’t managed to finish higher than 4th.
  • Not considered serious title contenders.
  • They too are missing key players in the form of Leigh Halfpenny, Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins.
  • However, the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff is a fortress for the Welsh and any team can be humbled on it’s stage.

Scotland:

  • The Scots have never won the 6 Nations in it’s 10 year history.
  • Very good defensively, but struggle to score tries and therefore fail to beat the bigger sides of a regular basis.
  • However, Scotland won their last two tests against South Africa and Samoa, and have risen to 7th in the World Rankings.
  • Injured Graeme Morrison may return for the last two games of the tournament, and Johnny Beattie is only lacking in match fitness, so Scotland’s injury troubles are not as great as the other home nations.

Italy:

  • Very much the underdog of the tournament having finished bottom 7 times out of 10.
  • Italian rugby is growing quickly, helped by the induction of clubs Bennetton Treviso and Aironi Rugby into the Magners League.
  • They will also be boosted by the return of captain Sergio Parisse after he missed last years tournament through injury.

 

    Fixture List (All times GMT):

    Fri 4th Feb

    Wales v England – 19.45

    Sat 5th Feb

    Italy v Ireland – 14.30

    France v Scotland – 17.00

    Sat 12th Feb

    England v Italy 14.30

    Scotland v Wales 17.00

    Sun 13th Feb

    Ireland v France – 15.00

    Sat 26th Feb

    Italy v Wales – 13.30

    England v France – 17.00

    Sun 27th Feb

    Scotland v Ireland – 15.00

    Sat 12th March

    Italy v France – 13.30

    Wales v Ireland – 17.00

    Sun 13th March

    England v Scotland 15.00

    Sat 19th March

    Scotland v Italy – 14.30

    Ireland v England – 17.00

    France v Wales – 18.45

     

    Elliot Busby

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