Well, I took the weekend off to go to Washington, DC (no, not to apply for a coaching vacancy at DC United) and now I'm back, and likely, the only one who missed my additions to the BostonSportPage.com blog was me.
Late night in DC, I had the opportunity to view a match in the Euro 2008 qualifying round. Norway was playing host to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first half was all Bosnia as Zlatan Muslimovic scored one of the first two goals of the game to make it 2-0 at the half. Norway, even though I say they have plenty of quality players, did not look like they were up for the game. Early in the second half, a foul on Morten Gamst Pedersen in the area allowed a chance for a penalty kick and John Carew hit home a sloppy but effective goal to make it 2-1. That was as close as the Norwegians got, as the match ended with the 2-1 scoreline. I was disappointed by the level of play of the Norwegians, and, if they had made the Euro 2008 tournament, they would surely be eliminated easily as they seem to have the same problems the USA did in the World Cup: mainly that the players aren't used to playing with each other, and effective communications were hard to come by.
As the Swedish disco legends Abba would say, and it's apropos to another European qualifying match, Italy vs. Scotland on Thursday. The Tartan Army have every chance of leaving Italy with the advantage and knocking the Azzurri out of the Euro 2008 contention tomorrow. Italy's coach is feeling the pressure, and the Azzurri have underperformed thus far in the qualifying rounds, losing to France and drawing against Ukraine. It would be a sad day indeed if the reigning World Champion was unable to compete for European dominance only 2 years after winning the title.
In other Euro news, Wayne Rooney has taken it on the chin from Coach McClaren after England's lackluster draw vs. Isreal. Rooney has been inconsistent of late, in the Premiership, in the Champions' League, and in international competition. Luckily, he's very young still, and still quite capable of getting into a groove and really producing some results for England or ManU.
In the Prem:
Not a lot of goings-on in the Premiership recently, due to all the international matches. Blackburn lost a heartbreaker at Ewood Park to lowly West Ham United. ManU is up next for the Rovers at Old Trafford. Everton are looking strong, especially after a 1-0 defeat of injury-plagued Arsenal.
The Toffees will likely take European competition by storm next year.
ManU is still on top. Man City is looking like they will implode, ans Stuart Pearce's job is by no means secure. Watford will not avoid the drop.
Reading just signed Dave Kitson to a 3 year deal, and are looking like they'll stay in the Premiership for a while. Chelsea are still strong, but will Jose Mourinho bolt for Spain? Newcastle have tons of talent, but always seem to come up short. This year is no different.
There are only a handful of games left in the regular season. The FA Cup semifinals are going to happen later on. Blackburn will face Chelsea, which is a scary proposition for the Rovers, as the Blues are incredibly strong. Watford face ManU, which should be an easy contest for the Red Devils.
Champion's League action returns next week. More later...
-Christopher J. Brigham
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