Posted on: December 6, 2009 3:54 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2009 5:38 pm
France will do well to scrape through in this one. Mexico have a solid defence with Marquez and Salcido at the heart, and exciting flair players up top in Dos Santos and Vela - the team I think will come through on top. South Africa obviously have the home advantage, but I don't think this will be enough to see off France, who will be trying their darnedest to prove to people that they deserve their place.
1st - Mexico; 2nd - France; 3rd - South Africa; 4th - Uruguay
Despite their troubles in qualifying, Argentina should dominate this group. Nigeria and South Korea may prove handfuls, but anything other than 9 points will be a disappointment for the Argies. South Korea's industry, which always sees them do well in tournaments will push them through alongside the South Americans.
1st - Argentina; 2nd - South Korea; 3rd - Nigeria; 4th - Greece
Again, England should dominate this group. Capello has instilled the belief in the Three Lions that his side can brush aside the lesser teams in important matches, and 9 points should be expected. The USA are hard to break down, so I'm expecting them to push Algeria for second... But the North Africans have a good track record in recent times.
1st - England; 2nd - Algeria; 3rd - USA; 4th - Slovenia
Much to almost the entire world's displeasure, Germany ALWAYS seem to do well in tournaments, and so will walk through the group stages. Second place will be a close run thing between all three of the other teams in the group, but the Ghanaian core of Essien and Muntari should push them through to the second round.
1st - Germany; 2nd - Ghana; 3rd - Serbia; 4th - Australia
Depending on the fitness of a few key players, Holland have the chance (as they always do) of going a long way this World Cup. With Van Persie and Robben on the pitch, they should definitely top the group though. Second place should again be a tight one, but I'm struggling to see beyond Eto'o and the Cameroonians.
1st - Holland; 2nd - Cameroon; 3rd - Japan; 4th - Denmark
Italy have been handed probably the easiest group of all the top seeds, and should be able to make it through if they avoid being complacent. Neither Slovakia or New Zealand are good enough to make it to the second stage of a big tournament like this, and so by default Paraguay should join the Italians in round 2.
1st - Italy; 2nd - Paraguay; 3rd - Slovakia; 4th - New Zealand
North Korea have a hell of a task making it out of this group... The other three teams could all be in amongst the top two of all other groups. Brazil are pretty much certain to make it out, but the runner up is a little trickier to predict. I'm going to side with Portugal, because the Ivory Coast don't have as solid a starting eleven.
1st - Brazil; 2nd - Portugal; 3rd - Ivory Coast; 4th - North Korea
Spain will have their work cut out against Chile, but should wipe the floor with both Honduras and Switzerland. Chile pushed Brazil for the top of the CONMEBOL qualifying stages, whereas Honduras only scraped through in the CONCACAF qualifiers over Costa Rica on goal difference. Switzerland may as well be there to keep the time for the other teams.
1st - Spain; 2nd - Chile; 3rd - Honduras; 4th - Switzerland
Winner Group A vs Runner Up Group B - Mexico vs South Korea
Mexico showed with their 5-0 demolition of the US in the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, that they have the ability to cut teams to shreds when the pressure is on. This could be the tournament where Giovani dos Santos announces himself on the world stage.
Game winner: Mexico
Winner Group C vs Runner Up Group D - England vs Ghana
England should be relatively fresh and hopefully unscathed from the group stages, and so should be able to brush aside Essien and co. This is by no means an easy matchup, but big game experience should assist the England squad.
Game winner: England
Winner Group E vs Runner Up Group F - Holland vs Paraguay
The depth of the Dutch squad should have enabled them to keep a few pairs of legs fresh for the knockout stages, which will obviously work in their favour against Paraguay. They should win this game with some ease.
Game winner: Holland
Winner Group G vs Runner Up Group H - Brazil vs Chile
A South American matchup of the highest caliber, this game may actually be a lot tighter than many people expect. Having said that, Brazil beat Chile in both of their qualifying games, and should do the same here.
Game winner: Brazil
Winner Group B vs Runner Up Group A - Argentina vs France
Two teams who are better than their qualifying campaigns suggest get a chance to redeem themselves against quality opposition. Both are going through transition phases, but Argentina have youth and industry on their side, so I'll go for them.
Game winner: Argentina
Winner Group D vs Runner Up Group C - Germany vs Algeria
As per usual, the Germans make the most of their favourable matchup, and brush aside Algeria to make it into the quarter finals.
Game winner: Germany
Winner Group F vs Runner Up Group E - Italy vs Cameroon
Italy may pay at this stage for not having truly been tested. Complacency will slip into the ageing Azzuri side, and an energetic, skillful Cameroon side will push them the full 90 minutes. If this goes to extra time, expect the Cameroonians to come through... Which I choose as my outcome.
Game winner: Cameroon
Winner Group H vs Runner Up Group G - Spain vs Portugal
The Battle of Iberia, Portugal will realise that making it through the group stages was pretty much pointless as they get brushed aside by European Champions Spain. I don't expect this to even be close.
Game winner: Spain
Quarter Final and onwards to follow... (This entry is getting a little long!)
Posted on: July 13, 2009 4:51 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2009 5:13 am
Ronaldinho S. Aguero
Y. Toure M. Essien
Marcelo G. Johnson
F. Cannavaro J. Heitinga
Manager: Carlo Ancelotti
Sub 1: Ricardo Quaresma (Attacking midfielder / winger)
Sub 2: Edin Dzeko (Striker)
Sub 3: Phillipe Mexes (Defender)
DMF: Michael Essien - The total package. Turns any team he plays on into winners. Can defend, create, attack. Can score wonder goals (see the Champions League semi-final). Can play as a disciplined right-back or centre-back. Show me another player in the world who is as valuable to whichever side he happens to be on.
LWF: Ronaldinho - The world's most skillful player hasn't lost it, he's just moved to Serie A where he's not quite so visible. Horse-teeth may be one of the ugliest people ever to don a football shirt, but his footballing prowess is potentially the most beautiful the world has ever seen. Kaka, Messi and Ronaldo may be more popular in today's fickle world, but none have the array of tricks of this 'pony'. Sorry.
RWF: Sergio Aguero - A younger, more skillful version of Carlos Tevez. This guy will terrorise defences for years to come. He's already Atletico Madrid's centre piece, and he's still only 21. He won't necessarily stay out wide, but neither does Lionel Messi, and that never hurt Barcelona. Plus he's sleeping with Diego Maradona's daughter, so I'm not the only one to give him my blessing...
CB: Fabio Cannavaro - Nobody reads the game better. Cannavaro is on the verge of surpassing Paolo Maldini as Italy's most capped player, and he's only 5'9". He makes up for his lack of height by being more agile, more robust and more aware than anyone he ever faces. Plus, he's a natural leader, and an obvious choice for captain.
GK: Gianluigi Buffon - The world's best keeper, bar none. The only two who can truly compete are Cech and Casillas, but both make far more mistakes than Buffon. He's been the mainstay of one of Europe's most solid defences in Juventus, and will be for a few years to come yet.
CF: David Trezeguet - Spent a lot of last season out injured, but is still one of Europe's most feared strikers. 221 goals in 404 career games goes to show this... Especially since he's scored 161 of these in Serie A, the world's most defensive-minded league. Plus he was a major part of the World Cup and European Championship winning French sides.
DMF: Yaya Toure - Since the turn of the year, Toure was an ever present in the treble-winning Barcelona side, even playing out of position in the final... Not that you'd know it. A ball-winner if ever there was one, and someone I'd much rather have on my side than be playing against. I was at Wembley to see the Spurs vs Barca friendly, and he was the best player on the park by a long way.
RB: Glen Johnson - Chelsea and West Ham (and now probably Portsmouth) are slowly beginning to regret letting this guy go. Not only is he rock solid in defence, but is one of the most threatening full backs in the world when coming forward. Plus he's been known to score the odd screamer.
Manager: Carlo Ancelotti - Has regularly won things wherever he has managed (Juventus, AC Milan) including winning two European Cups with AC. If it weren't for Liverpool beating them on penalties in 2005, he'd be the most decorated living European manager. Chelsea may have found a keeper. Not goalkeeper, fool.
CB: Jonny Heitinga - Quick, strong and determined, Heitinga has broken through as Holland's first choice centre back at an early age. This guy reads the play extremely well, and is like a speedier, taller protege of his partner at the back, Cannavaro.
AMF: Francesco Totti - The maverick playmaker has the vision and skill to rip apart any defence, and he chimes in with regular goals too. One of Italy's highest ever capped players, which goes to show how valuable he is considered.
LB: Marcelo - Brazil's new number one left back, and first choice for Real Madrid. The name may not be all that famous, but Real valued him enough to let Roberto Carlos go a couple of seasons back, and they haven't regretted it one bit. Like Johnson, this guy can attack as well as he defends.
Sub 1: Ricardo Quaresma - Another maverick attacking midfielder, Quaresma can play anywhere across the pitch behind the front man. One of Portugal's most skillful players, and that is saying something.
Sub 2: Edin Dzeko - The current Bundesliga player of the year, his 26 goals and 12 assists last season helped Wolfsburg to an unexpected title. A big man, who is good with his feet, and currently on the wishlist of AC Milan.
Sub 3: Phillipe Mexes - A first choice for Roma, and slowly becoming the go-to guy at the heart of the French defence. Committed, aware, quick and strong - very much in the mould of my two other CBs. Only 27, which is young for a centre-back, and can fill in at right back should he be needed.
Posted on: November 29, 2008 6:32 am
It's been a while since I've had a bit of time to sit on a computer and write some drivel, and I've got the chance today, so thought I'd throw some opinions out there in the form of The (soon-to-be-annual) 29th November Football Awards.
If you disagree with the panel of one, speak to my publicist - she probably cares a lot more than I.
Player of the season (up until 29th November):
3rd Place: Jonas Gutierrez (Newcastle) - Spiderman's arrival on Tyneside has given the Geordies a new hero, and until picking up his shoulder injury a few weeks back, he looked as though he was ready to drag up the Toon by the scruff of their necks and away from the relegation zone.
2nd Place: Geovanni (Hull) - After being released by Man City, it would have been easy for this midfield playmaker to have flown back home with his tail between his legs. As it was, he decided to join an unillustrious newly promoted Tigers team, and has managed to turn them into a legitimate top-half finishing side. That, alongside scoring a couple of absolute screamers.
1st Place: Robinho (Man City) - Everything the boy does is class. Okay, so this was a bit of an obvious pick, after he commanded the £627 million transfer fee, but he has more than justified the cost. He has enough skill to leave any defender on their rear-end, and has bagged more than his fair share of goals already. Look for this guy to be a legend for years to come.
Honourable mentions: Stephen Ireland (Man City), Rory Delap (Stoke City), Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa), Amr Zaki (Wigan)
Goalkeeper of the season (up until 29th November):
3rd Place: Mark Schwarzer (Fulham) - Fulham have become so much more solid at the back since Schwarzer took over between the sticks. The vocal Aussie doesn't make mistakes, and this has given the boys in front of him a new found confidence.
2nd Place: Paul Robinson (Blackburn) - Being rejected by Tottenham in favour of a clown can not do much for your confidence, but Robbo has found it within himself to step back up to the plate, and show Fabio Capello that he is again worthy of being selected within the top 3 English keepers.
1st Place: Jussi Jaaskelainen (Bolton) - One of the best shot stoppers in the world, Jussi has stepped up to the next level this season. Bolton would be well and truly bottom of the league were it not for him.
Dishonourable mention: Heurelho Gomes (Tottenham)
Manager of the season (up until 29th November):
3rd Place: Luis Felipe Scolari (Chelsea) - Chelsea have the players to be one of the greatest footballing sides of all time, but under Jose and subsequently Avram, the tactics limited their creative abilities. Big Phil has allowed each of the creative players (Lamps, Deco, Ballack, Cole, Malouda, Kalou, etc.) to work their magic, resulting in much more exciting games, and a bagfull more goals.
2nd Place: Martin O'Neill (Aston Villa) - The Villains have shown that they have the capability to push Arsenal for fourth this season, and more power to them. Youth, pace, exuberance - it's what football of the future should be all about, so managers like O'Neill should be positively encouraged.
1st Place: Phil Brown (Hull City) - A bit of a no-brainer really. Pretty much the entire footballing world expected Hull to be going straight back down, but a few shrewd purchases (Geovanni, King, Cousin, Zayatte) have turned the Tigers into a team who could establish themselves into a top flight team for years to come. The speed at which Hull have risen through the football league is another reason for the lower league team supporters to believe (dream) it could happen to them.
Honourable mention: Rafa Benitez (Liverpool... If they can keep it up)
Tool of the season (up until 29th November):
3rd Place: Joey Barton (Newcastle) - This guy would probably be in the running for Tool of the Season perenially, but to start the season in prison takes the biscuit. I had hoped that he had learnt, and would have come back with a new lease of life, but his slap on Agbonlahor just goes to show that he is forever going to be a mug. There is no place in the public spotlight for a goon like this.
2nd Place: Heurelho Gomes (Tottenham) - When will Harry realise that there is no issue with Gomes' confidence - he just isn't very good at collecting crosses. Add that to the numerous mistakes he makes, and you have a keeper who is always going to put the fear of God into his own defence.
1st Place and a runaway winner: William Gallas (Arsenal) - Seems to get very restless when he's been at a team for more than a couple of seasons, and has a habit of burning bridges on his way out. Having opinions about teammates is one thing, but writing an autobiography and publicly expressing these is another. No player is too big for a club, especially when that player is William Gallas, who is very much overrated by himself.
Honourable mention: Chris Morgan (Sheffield United - I know, they're not in the Premier League, but the sooner we get thugs like this out of the game, the better)
Posted on: May 26, 2008 10:22 am
Edited on: May 26, 2008 6:33 pm
The Premier League season is over, and we now have to sit around all summer whilst the rest of Europe kick balls around in some of Austria and Switzerland's finest stadia.
In the meantime, I thought I'd sum up how I thought the 2007-08 season went, and what may happen next year. I could be way off, but it gives me something to do.
Starting with the top four, which are effectively a league of their own:
1. Manchester United - The best team in the country, and only getting better. They completed a fantastic League and European Cup double, and didn't even really seem to have a prolonged period of playing to the best of their abilities. Look for them to be the ones to stop next season, no matter what signings are made over the summer. Player to watch in 08-09: Manucho
2. Chelsea - Came very close to winning three competitions, but end up with an empty hole in the 2007-08 section of their trophy cabinet. If they can find themselves a solid guy to take over the reins, they could push United all the way again next term. Player to watch: Scott Sinclair
3. Arsenal - The Anna Kournikova of football, awesome to watch, but couldn't win a trophy if their lives depended on it. I'm not suggesting retiring early, but they need to shake things up if they want to compete. Flamini will be a big loss, and they need to replace him - maybe Kolo's brother can be pursuaded to fill the hole. Player to watch: Fran Merida
4. Liverpool - Until Rafa realised that Liverpool were nothing without Fernando Torres, the Reds struggled to break clear of their Merseryside rivals. Hopefully he'll play Nando consistently from the start of next season, and fourth will be much more of a formality. Maybe even push to break into the top three. Player to watch: Nabil El Zhar
Next up, the teams which were competing for the European place(s), and are likely to be next season:
5. Everton - The addition of the Yak to the improving Toffees squad gave them another line of attack which seemed to complement Andrew Johnson perfectly. A full season with those two up front, Arteta and Cahill fit, and Lescott and Jagielka at the back, could lead to Everton contending for top six again next time around. Player to watch: James Vaughan
6. Aston Villa - Possibly the paciest attack in the division, Villa have three prongs which will trouble any defence (Young, Agbonlahor and Carew). The loss of Mellberg could be vital, and the retention of Barry could be even more so. Look for another solid season next year. Player to watch: Curtis Davies
7. Blackburn - Quietly efficient, Sparky's side managed a more than respectable final league position. Probably punching slightly above their weight, I'll be surprised if they finish this high again next season. Player to watch: Maceo Rigters
8. Portsmouth - Gave up on the league in March, but I can see them pushing for top five next term. David James was the best of a good current crop of Premier League goalkeepers, and they look to have found a goalscorer in Defoe. Player to watch: Niko Kranjcar
9. Man City - Lost form towards the second half of the season, and never really regained it. Whoever is in charge next season will have to keep the defensive spine players (Dunne, Hart, Richards) at the club if they want to push for Europe again. Player to watch: Daniel Sturridge
10. West Ham - Injuries limited what Alan Curbishley's side could achieve this season, but a top half finish is a marked improvement on surviving relegation on the last day of the season. If players such as Faubert, Parker, Upson, Dyer and Ashton can get a long run in the side, West Ham should be pushing for top six. Player to watch: Julien Faubert
11. Tottenham - The Premier League's greatest underachievers of 2007-08, mainly due to their dreadful start to the campaign. Look for that to change after a whole year of Ramos in control. Spurs should definitely be challenging for top six come the end of next season, especially if they can keep hold of Berbatov. Player to watch: Adel Taarabt
Then a bunch of teams who never really threatened the top half, and did well to stay out of the relegation zone:
12. Middlesbrough - The signing of Afonso Alves looked to be a big mistake until he started banging the goals in. I can see them scraping into the top half, if they stave off the injuries. Player to watch: Adam Johnson
13. Newcastle - Even with Keegan at the helm, Newcastle still seemed to underperform. Any team with a trio of Viduka, Owen and Martins up top should be able to comfortably finish in the top half of the league. I don't see it happening next year either though. Player to watch: Tim Krul
14. Sunderland - A solid, if unspectacular start to Roy Keane's Premier League management experience. Craig Gordon is a top class keeper, and Kenwyne Jones can cause any defence problems, so I can see the same again next season. Player to watch: Roy O'Donovan
15. Wigan - Steve Bruce quietly worked a miracle at his second favourite North West club, saving a desperately average Wigan side from the drop. Luis Antonio Valencia will be snapped up by a much bigger team sometime soon, and The Latics could be struggling to avoid relegation next term. Player to watch: Luis Antonio Valencia
16. Bolton - Another under performer, Bolton never get the credit they deserve for playing to their strengths. Gary Megson will never take this team to the next level, but some good signings over the summer could consolidate Wanderers' Premier League status. Player to watch: Daniel Braaten
17. Fulham - The classic escape from relegation, Old Lady Hodgson transformed this team in late March. After humiliation at Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup, something clicked, and Fulham finally found some form. Of the bottom four, Fulham were definitely the class of the bunch towards the back end of the season, and deserved to survive. Player to watch: Jimmy Bullard
Rather than sum up the seasons of the teams that got relegated (we all know they had shockers), I thought I'd provide a bit of insight into those teams coming up from the Championship:
1. West Brom - Probably the only team of the three with the slightest chance of staying up, and that is due to their potent strikeforce. Ishmael Miller deserves to be in the Premier League, and could push the 15 goal-mark if he stays clear of injury. Player to watch: Robert Koren
2. Stoke - Managed to get promoted automatically, but mainly due to the poor performances by those around them. I'm expecting them to be only slightly better than Derby were this season, so pretty much awful. Player to watch: Ryan Shawcross
3. Hull City - If Manchester United take back Frazier Campbell, Hull will struggle to create much up front, and so keeping hold of him will be vital to their chances of survival. They may just have a chance if they keep him, but if they don't, they're doomed. Player to watch: Michael Turner</o:p>
Posted on: January 24, 2008 12:13 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2008 12:16 pm
Fresh eyes on America's favourite past-times... As an English dude living in the States, here are my opinions on the overall game experiences I came across during my stay.
NCAA Football - Oklahoma State vs Texas, Texas Tech, Missouri, etc. @ Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater
Probably the highlight of studying at an American university (which I did at Oklahoma State back in 2005-6) is the camaraderie of getting involved with collegiate sports. The university football stadium has a capacity of 48,000, which is currently being extended, and that would be entirely unheard of for ANY sport at university level in England. This made gameday for me one special experience, walking to the games with my flatmates in a sea of bright orange, and even knowing a couple of people involved in the team.
The best gameday experience I was involved in was the OSU vs Texas game, when the Longhorns were ranked at #3, and we were down somewhere in the high 40s. At half-time, OSU was a couple of scores ahead - the place was buzzing, and I'm pretty sure most of the stadium was beginning to lose their voice. The foundations of the stadium shook as we made as much noise as humanly possible whenever Vince Young and his offense took the field, and he looked rattled until late in the third quarter. Breaking free along the right sideline, he ran it home for about a 60-yard score, and silenced us. Then he ran in for a couple more touchdowns, and Texas completed a late comeback to scrape victory by a couple of points.
The Longhorns went on to make the championship game, and a star in Young was born. Just for the fact that the Cowboys hung on to their more illustrious opponents for so long made my day though, and I can still remember the feeling at half-time to this day. Experience rating: 9/10
NCAA Basketball - OSU Cowboys vs Baylor Bears @ Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater
Unlike the NCAA football, I couldn't afford a season ticket for the basketball, so only made it to a couple of games, and only one conference match-up in the Big 12, which was the game against Baylor. After a few years of the the OSU team being NCAA tournament finalists, expectations were high, and a good season was expected by the Stillwater faithful. The team had failed to match these expectations though, and Coach (Eddie) Sutton was beginning to come to the end of his reign.
Still, Gallager-Iba had a reputation to uphold, and the fans knew this. I don't know who gave the arena the tag, it may have been self-imposed, but it was known as the 'rowdiest arena' in the country, and we all had our part to do in maintaining this. So even as the season drew to a close and the team played one of its final games, the students and locals attempted to make the atmosphere as hostile as possible, by screaming their lungs out. Mission accomplised. After 48 minutes of end-to-end action (which is pretty much EVERY basketball game!), the Cowboys triumphed by around 6 or 7 points, and the 12,000 of us in the arena could go home knowing we'd played our part, even if the game didn't count for too much. Experience rating: 10/10
NBA - New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets vs Dallas Mavericks @ Ford Center, Oklahoma City
Back in late 2005, while I was studying at Oklahoma State University, a bunch of foreigners and I decided we'd take advantage of having an NBA team in town. We carshared over to Oklahoma City and got back-row tickets for the Hornets versus that seasons NBA-finalist Mavericks. One of the guys with us happened to be a German, and obviously we all rooted for the Hornets to break Dirk in half as a result.
Being sat on the very back row gave us a great view of the overall arena, but made it hard to feel part of the atmosphere, especially when everybody in the few rows in front spent the whole time sat down, and turned round and scowled every time we made a little bit of noise. I don't know if it was because the Hornets were not actually Oklahoma City's team, but the atmosphere seemed very tepid, and not intimidating for the incoming Mavericks in the slightest. Experience rating: 6/10
MLB - Texas Rangers vs New York Yankees @ Arlington Ballpark, Arlington, Texas
The following May, the Yankee bandwagon rolled into Arlington, TX, and having a few friends from Dallas-Fort Worth meant I'd be silly not to head on down and see what the fuss was about. This must just be a phenomena with the Yankees, but looking around at the jerseys in the stands, you really could not tell if the Rangers or Yankees were the home team. If anything, the Yankees were better represented.
The traditions of certain crowd chants after certain points of the game, and the seventh inning stretch made this feel much more involving than the NBA, but Jeter, A-Rod, et al were so far away, we really wouldn't have known if their sisters had shown up and disguised themselves in their uniforms. Experience rating: 7/10
NFL - Miami Dolphins vs New York Giants @ Wembley Stadium, London
As soon as this NFL experiment was announced I knew I had to attend the game, being a Dolphin fan and not seeing an NFL game while I was in the States. I took my brother and best mate, neither of whom are especially big NFL fans, but I got them both involved as honorary Dolfans for the day. Being a "home" game for the Dolphins, I kind of expected a large number of us to be grouped together in the stadium, to give us that aspect of mob mentality and feel as though we were united in support of our team. It turned out that fans from every NFL team were interspersed with their differing jerseys and one another, and Dolphins fans were spread all over the space making it hard to create any kind of atmosphere.
Also, and without trying to disrespect the English NFL fans, but noone seemed to understand their role in the event. Whenever the Miami defense was on the field, the place should have been a cauldron of noise, but there wasn't so much as a slight groan. I knew from my College days that the idea is to make the arena as hostile as possible for the away team's offense, but I could literally hear Eli's play counting from my seat on the top deck. The NFL might have been pleased with the result, and the fact that the stadium was full, but I was disappointed with the level of noise, so I'm all for keeping the Dolphins' home games in Miami next year. I'll definitely go again if any NFL matchup should come back to England, all the same. Experience rating: 6/10
"Soccer" - Bristol Rovers vs Fulham @ Memorial Stadium, Bristol
Now, contrast all of the above with my Football League experiences, and English fans may be able to relate to what I'm talking about. On a cold January evening, in the Fourth Round of the F.A. Cup, a Premier League team rolled into town for a replay against their highly-charged lower league opponents. With a capacity of around 12,000, the Memorial Stadium isn't huge, but it's an intimate little arena, where the fans can be as close as a couple of metres from the pitch on all sides. Fulham only managed to bring 600 of their own fans, so almost 11,500 Bristolians attempted to play on the one advantage they had - their level of support.
The game was pretty even, with Rovers having slightly more chances, but Fulham having more of the ball, so the game going to penalties was probably a fair reflection on the game. Never has a sporting event been so stressful, but Rovers came out winners, and after two-and-a-half hours of constant singing for our team, the Gasheads could go home knowing they may have been the difference that night. There were parts of the game when the fans did get on their own players' backs for missing chances, however, which I am not in agreement with, slightly marring the perfect experience. Experience rating: 9/10
In all and based on purely my own experiences, I'd have to say that NCAA Basketball is the best sport to attend in the US, closely followed by NCAA Football. This is probably due to the level of involvement the fans of College teams feel and passion they have for their team. However, I am basing this on not many actual pro-sport experiences, and I'm sure if I were to go to Madison Square Gardens, Fenway Park or Qwest Field I may have had better experiences. Either way, soccer stadiums in England can be just as atmospheric as the College arenas in the US, so we're not missing out over here!