Socceroos drawn in tough group
All set for World Cup draw
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Football Down Under
Full Time Analysis
Socceroos drawn in tough group
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The Fox Sports 3 is a welcome addition and will mean that Foxtel will be able to show many live games at the same time. This will also mean that from now the English championship matches will be shown live rather than delayed as has been the case so far save for one or two matches.
With the AFL season finishing today with the AFL Grand Final the Fox Footy channel will sorely be missed for real when the AFL pre-season tournament begins next year and suddenly there is no place where you can catch up with any missed matches at any time.
The first local sport or match to be shown live on Fox Sports 3 will be the A-League top of the table
encounter between Melbourne Victory and Queensland Roar.
Its too early to suggest that they will fail to qualify for the next round because if they win all their remaining four matches which the can given the superb squad that they have then they will have 12 points but they should treat each of the remaining matches as a final. They will also need to be disciplined otherwise they could end up missing key players at key moments.
Elsewhere, there are 100 percent records for Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Valencia, Arsenal, Man
U and Lyon. Its always good to have points in the bag and that should ease the pressure for
these teams going into the third match.
Although there is no Melbourne AFL team involved this year, the Melbourne rugby league team Melbourne Storm will be playing in NRL grand final on Sunday in Sydney against Brisbane Broncos at the Sydney Olympic Stadium. Like Melbourne, Sydney is hosting a final that doesn't involve the host city team.
With the AFL and NRL becoming more and more national I think its good to see teams from other states playing in the finals and at the end of the day its a question of the best team winning.
In that vein I am hoping that West Coast will beat Sydney and that the Storm will bring
the NRL trophy back to Melbourne.
At this moment in time Australia doesn't have the kind of players to win against the David Nalbandian led Argentinian team because the moment Lleyton Hewitt lost to Jose Acasuso in the rain delayed second rubber it was hard to see where another win would come from.
The off-court issue of body guards and security or lack of it was an unwanted distraction in a match were chances of winning were always going to be slim for Australia. First, the playing surface was clay which the Argentinians are quite good at and then there was a more than vociferous crowd support that even included football legend Diego Maradona.
For Australia to reach the semis with the players they had is a good achievement on
its own and compared to the other three Davis Cup semi-finalists, Australia's line-up was
arguably the 'weakest' in ranking terms. I hope Mark Philippoussis will continue his climb
up the rankings because with two good players you can go far in the Davis Cup.
Until two years ago there was some football at the MCG but it was a bit unfair on the interstate teams having to come and play in Melbourne when they should have had home advantage because they finished in the top four positions of the ladder.
The football we should be having though is the rugby league match between Melbourne
Storm and St George Illawarra. The Storm won the minor premiership and also beat Parramatta
in week one of the finals and yet because of the rugby league rules they have to go and play
in Sydney. This was going to be the only football in Melbourne this coming weekend but for
now all we can do is wait for the AFL Grand Final on the last Saturday of September.
I have read this passage a number of times before but for the first time I was just struck by the number of years that Enock lived, 365 which is the number of days in a year. This to me then poses the challenge of walking with God every day of the year.
Enoch's impact had nothing to do with the number of years he lived but the purpose thereof. Therefore he didn't go the way of all those before him but God took him away(v 24) and here we have the first record in the Bible of a person who didn't die.
Looking back at 2006, for the three grand slam titles he won he probably played the worst at the Australian Open where he dropped a total of four sets because he only dropped two at Wimbledon and just one at the just completed US Open. Before losing to Nadal in the final at the French Open he had only dropped just one set and this shows he has got so much more in reserve.
I think its the French Open that is going to prove difficult to get given that Nadal is
almost unbeatable on clay at the moment.
I always thought that it was going to take an Alonso breakdown or something like that for Schumacher to close the gap and that happened on Sunday in the Italian Grand Prix. The points system in place now makes it hard to close the gap especially if the other driver finishes just one or two places behind because that would constitute just two or four points difference.
To make it more even more interesting there is also the battle for the constructors title between Ferrari and Renault. It will depend on Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella also finishing well in the last three races because for constructors you need both drivers to be performing well. I think this will go to Renault.
I was a bit saddened to see Schumacher retire from F1 because he has been a very good driver but from a Ferrari point of view Kimi Raikkonen should be a good replacement.
Finally, with the season Mark Webber has had it was good to see him finish a race even
though he wasn't in the points.
Group A is very interesting with Barcelona facing Chelsea again. I think Barcelona are stronger than what they were last season with the addition of Thuram and Zambrotta and they should come top in this group with Werder Bremen and Chelsea fighting it out for second place.
Group B brings together Bayern Munich and Inter Milan. This looks like a straight forward contest between Bayern and Inter for the first two places but I think Sporting Lisbon and Spartak Moscow could cause some upsets especially when playing at home.
Three weeks ago I would have said Liverpool are red hot favourites to win this group but having watched their last three league matches I think its a pretty open group with all teams PSV, Galatasaray and Bordeaux plus Liverpool having a good chance. PSV have done well in the past two seasons but that was under Guus Hiddink and we will have to wait and see what happens this season.
I think Valencia will come top in Group D but its very hard to see which other team will join them in the second phase. The Greek champions Olympiacos have lots of experience in this competition and that should give them a bit of an edge but Roma and Shakhtar Donetsk are no pushovers and so I think this will go down to the last match of the group phase to decide who proceeds to the next stage.
I think Lyon and Real Madrid should easily sort themselves at the top of Group E. Real Madrid should be a better team this season under Fabio Capello. Lyon are more or less the same team minus Diarra who ironically went to Real Madrid and should be able to navigate their way in this group.
Group F is another group where there is one very strong team in Manchester United but with three very good teams Celtic, Benfica and FC Copenhagen comprising the group. Its quite difficult to separate Celtic and Benfica to start with but there is also FC Copenhagen who knocked out Ajax in the qualifiers.
Arsenal haven't started well in the Premiership and should raise their game if they are entertaining hopes of winning this group because Group G has got some good teams in Hamburg, FC Porto and CSKA Moscow. I still think that Arsenal and Hamburg will go through this group with former champions Porto and CSKA Moscow fighting it out for the UEFA place.
Finally Group H and here AC Milan should easily cruise through and it should be an even
battle between AEK Athens, Anderlecht and Lille. I think it will be a good chance for the
other three teams to reach the group stages for the first time and it could come down to
goal difference to decide the second place and UEFA place.
I think this defeat came at the right time because Australia had already qualified and it wasn't in the crucial World Cup qualifiers. However, this shows us that we should expect tough matches in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers and every game will need to be taken seriously.
It will not that easy because a lot of teams are not going to give up easily when playing at home and a high priced opponent like Australia and therefore the Socceroos will have to dig deep to grind a result.
This then means that there is a need to win all the home matches because the away ones are
unpredictable. This wasn't the case in Oceania where the only match that posed problems was the last match against the fifth placed South American team.
I was expecting Nadal to reach at least the semis this time especially when he was going to meet unseeded Youzhny in the quarters but he was outplayed. So like the Australian Open there will be no Nadal/Federer match in a grand slam.
Andy Murray also bowed out after losing to Nikolay Davydenko but I think Murray has improved so much in the course of the year and should do well with a bit more experience next year.
Earlier in the week it was sad to Andre Agassi bow out having been around for so many
years. He was complete tennis player and that explains why he was able to last so long and I
miss him greatly. I was good to see such a great player and yet very humble.
It was a good job in the first place for Sydney FC to lure Yorke to the A-League but in the end I think Yorke benefited a lot as well from the one year stint with the league champions. He managed to get his form back because he was playing week in week out and that also helped Trinidad and Tobago in the World Cup.
I didn't like the timing of the transfer coming as it were on transfer deadline day and so Sydney will have a hard time finding a replacement for Yorke unless they get a an out of contract player. I was hoping to see Yorke play Sydney at Telstra Dome tomorrow but nevertheless we will play whichever team Sydney puts up and hope that Melbourne Victory will go on another goal rampage.
Now turning O'Neill, he has done a very good job with the setting up of the
A-League and organising the Socceroos World Cup campaign and its unfortunate he didn't want
to stay longer. My only gripe with his administration was to give A-League highlights to
Foxtel instead of giving them to a free-to-air broadcaster. A lot of people without pay
TV don't know much about the A-League and had just the highlights been on say SBS or ABC
I am sure awareness and interest in the A-League would have been more than it is now. All
the same I wish him the best in his next move.