Football Roundup: Sept 11, 2009

09/12/2009

I’ve decided to add some regular style posts to the usual hodge-podge mixture of posts. This one is based on an obsession of mine for the game of football (soccer in American). Basically, I’ll be relating some of the big moments for me in the weekend past and forecasting some of the things I plan to keep an eye on in the weeks ahead.

And this last week is special, because it was the International Break. What that means, is that it is when most every top-level league on the planet stops so that the national teams can play against each other, usually in qualifying for some tournament.

And right now, that tournament is the 2010 World Cup.

Now right now, the following teams have locked up qualification to the tournament in South Africa:

South Africa (host), Japan, Australia, South Korea, North Korea, Netherlands, Brazil, Ghana, England, Spain, and Paraguay.

with Bahrain and New Zealand scheduled for a play-off match to determine which will be going to South Africa. (Thanks to the results of a dramatic playoff battle between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain)

But I’ll admit that my main focus has been dominated by the fact that Denmark has a good chance at qualifying.

This is actually worthy of comment. Denmark is not a regular qualifier in World Cups. In 2006, they came in 3rd in their qualification group behind Ukraine and Turkey and this year they were placed in a group with Portugal and Sweden, two excellent teams who were favored to qualify before the tournament.

Denmark is currently sitting in 1st place and thanks to this break’s ties with Portugal (a good team) and Albania (a not so good team) they are still undefeated and still have a small cushion heading into their last 2 games in October (against Sweden and Hungary, 2 pretty strong squads).

Watching this ascent has been great, though I’m terrified that they’ll find a way to screw it up at the close when the pressure piles up. Certainly I would have preferred that the team came up with a win against minnow Albania, but undefeated is undefeated and a good sign overall especially with young danish striker Nicklas Bendtner coming into his own to score the two main goals of the pair of 1-1 draws this last week. Also, both games were ones where they held the lead for long stretches with absolutely quality defending and goalkeeping.

There were some other big stories this weekend, England qualifying with a win over Croatia (Croatia had knocked England out of the qualification for EURO 2008 (a sort of Europe-only World Cup)), Argentina looking shaky for qualification after a bad run of results (Argentina is one of the stalwarts of the World Cup tournaments and this particular squad were previously favorites to win the whole thing), and Germany crushed England in the Women’s EURO 2009 final .

But I was most heartened by this story which I can’t put better than chris of TheOffside.com did. It’s the heartwarming story of the national team of the Faroe Islands (a tiny nation whose team is mostly comprised of amateur players who are fisherman and laborers in their “real lives”) getting their first competitive win since 2001. Seriously, go read the link.

This upcoming weekend looks to have some more games I’ll be paying attention to with the return of league play.

First up is my new favorite La Liga team Getafe up against current European team Barcelona who have been strengthened by world class Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Definitely a game to watch.

The other one I’ll be keeping an eye on is of course my favorite team FC Midtjylland who desperately need a win if they’re going to turn around their dismal start to the season. They’re currently in danger of relegation so that needs to turn around. The team they’re up against, FC Nordsjaelland is pretty talented, but was a team they used to actually beat so if they want to make a run for it, beating them would be a good way to start.

And that’s the first football roundup.

Feel free to open thread your weekly obsessions in the comments.

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