Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Denmark & France February 2011

Denmark 1 England 2
at the Parken stadium in Copenhagen.

This friendly often seemed like a high level kick around with very few tackles until the final few minutes as the home side realised they were going to lose.

But both teams can say they passed the ball around well although Denmark had the standout player in Christian Eriksen.

For England Wilshere looked at home in midfield as did Scott Parker when he came on in the second half.
But neither defence looked fully secure.

It is hard to tell how significant this win will be with much more serious competitive tests to come but at least it’s an away victory.

Watching the game it was almost too hot under the closed roof and then too cold outside in the wind.

Nimes 0 Dijon 2 in the French Ligue 2.

I’d seen the small group of away fans close to the famous, well preserved, Roman amphitheatre in the centre of town.
Later they had no trouble finding space behind the goal to watch their team beat the hosts at the pleasant Stade des Costieres in bright and mild conditions.

Both teams are in mid-table but it was Dijon who passed better and after a moderate first period they went ahead when Caceres controlled and shot in.

Uruguayan Sebastian Ribas sealed the win in the closing minutes.

For the home side Steve Haguy did some good work down the right, a Gigliotti free kick glanced the post and Niflore also hit the post but they were greeted with boos at the final whistle.

Arles Avignon 0 Montpellier 0 in Ligue 1.

I was able to get a convenient train after the Nimes game back to Avignon followed by a taxi to the Parc des Sports.

Where the highlight was the performance of the Montpellier fans who produced an impressive display of flares, flags and fence rattling.

The ground has temporary style seats at either end and low level seating opposite the main stand. The attendance was given as 8500 and there were around 400 away fans.

But the game itself had little goalmouth action with one of the best chances being badly fluffed by Geoffrey Dernis.

So Arles gained a point but they stay well adrift at the bottom of the league.

Rennes 2 Nice 0.

Another top level encounter that saw Rennes move up to second, five points behind Lille.

Their stadium is an impressive, covered, 30,000 seater in which there was just a handful of fans from Nice.

The conditions on this Sunday afternoon felt like a February in England - cold and wet.

After an opening period of few chances Rennes stepped up the play to score through Victor Hugo Montano and then via a penalty from Boukari.
The home forwards, with some prompting by the skillful Yann M’Vila, had done enough to consolidate the win.

Nice, with few away goals all season, never really looked like getting back into it despite a David Bellion header.

more pictures at

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Israel January 2011

‘You were on holiday in Israel’ I asked of my elderly fellow passengers on the flight back to the UK.

‘No - we were at a prayer conference in Jerusalem’

Well its an option, alternatively you could watch some football...

Hapoel Nazareth Illit 3 Hapoel Amidar Ramat Gan 2 in the Israeli ‘first division’.

It being Friday the most cost effective way to get to Nazareth and back to Tel Aviv was to hire a car and drive the 100km or so.

This I did as well as having a wander around the old city.

The Green stadium, named after the benefactors, is fairly new comprising two sides of open seating.
A small crowd watched a fairly moderate first half but a much more eventful second period.
The presence of a female official (reference Andy Gray) passed off without too much notice.

Amidar Ramat Gan led after about 15 minutes from set piece and they were edging the game.

Early in the second half Nazareth Illit got the equaliser only for the visitors to go ahead again from a nice chip by their no.8.
However Amidar had Ugochukwo sent off for stupid shove on a Nazareth forward and soon after the home side drew level again.

In the final minutes there was more drama as the Amidar goalie received a red card for handling outside the area.
And the nine men couldn’t stop the resulting free kick from Zano going in for the winner in the closing moments.

A well celebrated home win that helped Nazareth Illit’s battle against relegation (and their attempts to overcome points deductions)

On the next day,Saturday, I saw two matches beginning with -

Bnei Yehuda 2 Hapoel Askelon 0.
played at the Bloomfield stadium in Jaffa.

The stadium is home to three teams in the Israeli Premier League (higher profile Hapoel and Maccabi Tel Aviv being the others)
So this three o’clock kick off game was followed by Hapoel’s game at 7pm.

As the ground is quite close to the old city of Jaffa I took the time to have stroll around in the mild, sunny conditions.

Not too many turned up to watch this one, maybe 1000 at most, and they spent a lot of time moaning about their team.
But in the end Yehuda got the job done with two second half goals from Menashe and Galvan.
The few dozen Ashkelon fans went home disappointed.

It was an easy fifteen minute drive to the Winter stadium (also named after some benefactors)

Hapoel Ramat Gan 0 Ironi Kiryat Shmona 3.

Another Israeli Premier match played before a small crowd of a couple of hundred in cool but dry conditions.

Bottom of the table Ramat Gan gifted the visitors two goals with bad defensive mistakes and conceded another before half time.

Kiryat Shmona are a very competent side justifying their high place in the league.
They showed excellent passing skills throughout and were never troubled.

The stadium has two sides for spectators with a larger main stand and a lower level seating area opposite for the small but happy group of away fans.

There is very little cover, not that it mattered on this evening.

Lastly the Monday afternoon game:-

Bnei Lod 1 Ahva Arraba 0 .

It was very quiet near the Haberfeld stadium in Rishon le Zion which initially made me think I was in the wrong place but google maps and the Israeli FA info. had proven correct.

Only about 100 fans and a couple cats watched this ‘first division’ encounter on a cool evening to the south of Tel Aviv..

Bottom of the table Arraba had played well enough in the first half without really threatening.

But Bnei Lod eventually overcame their opponents with a late winner when substitute no.9 found space and crossed for Abu Anze to score from close range.
Arraba hadn’t helped their cause by having Biton sent off for slapping a Lod player.

At the end the locals celebrated and some of the players kissed the turf.

I negotiated my exit and took the no 84 bus back to central Tel Aviv.

more pictures at