Friday, August 31, 2007

UEFA Cup opponent: RC Lens

RC Lens (FRA) v FC København (DEN)


Sources: uefa.com - UEFA Cup, Fortune smiles on English sides - Yahoo! Eurosport.

RC Lens has an impressive UEFA coefficient of 51.706 - compare that to Benfica's 67.149. This season's Le Championnat results have so far been less than impressive though: Bordeaux-Lens 1-0, Lens-Paris SG 0-0, Lens-Valenciennes 0-0 and Strasbourg-Lens 2-1. Probably in part because they focused on their international games: In the second qualifying round for the UEFA Cup they defeated Young Boys 5-1 (uefa.com - Lens ensure dream start for Papin). Yes, Jean-Pierre Papin is their coach. Interesting.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Goodbye Champions League. Hello UEFA Cup

SL Benfica stood firm in the face of a tide of pressure from FC København as Kostas Katsouranis' first-half goal proved enough to secure a 3-1 aggregate victory for the Portuguese outfit, and a place in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Source: uefa.com - Battling Benfica deny København.

The hosts had started best, chalking up several chances in the first 15 minutes and looked the stronger team for much of the match but failed to convert their opportunities into goals.

Source: ESPNsoccernet - FC Copenhagen v Benfica Report

Shots at goal statistic: about 8 against 2. Unbelievable. On top of that, ref Eric 'Ajax loverboy' Braamhaar, missed calling the most obvious penalty I remember seeing. Some swift short passing brought Allbäck in a position clear for finishing but his man marker didn't hesitate kicking right at his supporting leg. If that wasn't a penalty, torture, maiming or otherwise violating a Geneva Convention is needed for one.

Luckily, Mr. Braamhaar didn't miss the opportunity to hand out a yellow card to Atiba Hutchinson for stating the obvious. And since when is blatantly handballing to deflect a mega-chance not a red card offense? OK, that might have been a tough call, but seriously. Silberbauer, I believe it was, was denied an enormous chance later in the game. Gee, I'm so sorry Braamhaar's Ajax also left the tournament 1-3 yesterday.

Good luck to Benfica.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Atiba Hutchinson interview

The official FC København webpage has published a short video of two very short interviews with Hjalte Nørregaard (in Danish) and Atiba Hutchinson talking about their expectations and the team tactics for tomorrow's game against Benfica.




...and contrary to what they try to make you believe the video does not require Windows Media Player ;-) But just click the image and watch the video.

Benfica home preview

The 1st leg away was a 2-1 defeat to Benfica. A loss but not too bad. While FC København hasn't exactly impressed since then, Benfica seems to have gotten into a bit of trouble: Star players leaving, most defenders injured, new coach and who knows what else. Yesterday Pedro Mantorras was ruled out for months due to a knee injury. José Camacho hasn't promised anyone a win - actually his latest comments look more like preemptive excuses.

Benfica's squad: Goalies: Butt and Quim, defenders: Luis Felipe, Luisao, Leo, Miguelito, Nelson and Miguel Vitor, midfielders: Petit, Katsouranis, Fabio Coentrao, Di Maria, Adu, Nuno Assis, Rui Costa and Romeu Ribeiro, strikers: Cardozo, Bergessio, Yu Dabao and Nuno Gomes.

FC København's squad: Strongest possible selection except Jesper Grønkjær is suspended. No important players injured and some even rested during this weekend's league game.

Approximate outcome probabilities: Home win: 40%, draw: 30%, away win: 30%. To progress for Champions League group phase: FC København 35%, Benfica 65%.

Once the ball gets rolling all of the above will be forgotten and the game sensed from my season ticket seat. But I'll be prepared for UEFA Cup games only after this one, sure.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

0-0

OB - FC København 0-0



...

Benfica - Guimaraes 0-0



It’s going to take more than just a few training sessions to set Benfica back on the right track [...] Before the match returning tactician José Antonio Camacho reaffirmed his confidence and repeated his trust in budding star centre-back Miguel Vítor. The defender earned widespread applause with his solid work in defusing a slew of attacks by the visitors while the bulk of incisive attacking came from the boots of veteran number 10 Rui Costa and Under-21 man Fábio Coentrão [...] Nuno Gomes missed a great chance early on as the number 21 slapped a shot wide of Nilson’s sticks after being well set up by Paraguayan import Cardozo. Quim was solid for Benfica whenever called on.

Source: Goal.com - Camacho Unable To Reap Immediate Reward At Benfica

OB and Guimaraes (Vitória Guimarães) were this weekend's league opposition for København and Benfica respectively. Guimaraes has an UEFA coefficient of 15.913, OB 12.51. On last season's 'Computertabelle' at Kicker.de Benfica ranked 20, FC København 78, OB 89 and Guimaraes outside top 100. Qualified opponents for both teams to warm up for Wednesday with.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Camacho speaks

Camacho has until Wednesday to prepare his new team for their crucial return trip to Copenhagen following a weekend meeting with Vitória SC. "According to the chairman and the other coaches, the team needs more players and I cannot implement my philosophy in just one day," warned Camacho. "The team will have to work very hard [to beat København]. I need to get to know them 100 per cent but we will be a competitive side."

Source: uefa.com - Magazine / Camacho's rescue mission

The Anderson deal is now reality. Benfica is currently looking at Borja Oubiña in Celta de Vigo (Source: El fichaje de Oubiña por el Benfica, en punto muerto - Marca.com) and Maximiliano Pereira in Defensor Sporting (Source: Benfica tenta contratar médio uruguaio do Defensor Sporting) - but we don't care who they buy now.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Benfica defense weakened further?

Marcelo Kiremidjian, l'agent de Cleber Anderson, nous a confirmé l'information. « Normalement, sauf changement de dernière minute, c'est lui que Lyon a choisi », indique l'oeil de l'OL au Brésil, qui précise même que Cleber Anderson «arrivera ce soir (mercredi soir) ou demain (jeudi) matin à Lyon et passera sa visite médicale demain (jeudi) matin ».

Source: L'EQUIPE.FR Football - Lyon choisit Cleber Anderson

Since I don't speak French, technically I don't know if the above really means he's currently in Lyon for the medical. But his name is already missing from Benfica's Wikipedia entry. And I do know it'd improve our chances of Champions League this year, especially since Luisao is out on suspension for the 2nd leg.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Santos raus

Benfica have sacked coach Fernando Santos after being held to a draw by promoted Leixoes in their opening league match of the season

Source: Benfica sack coach Santos | Guardian Unlimited.

...0-0. Meanwhile in Portugal...

Leixões - Benfica 1-1



[...] The newly-promoted Leixonenses (a.k.a. Babies) – back in the first division after seventeen years trawling the lower reaches – managed to keep a valuable point towards their aim of ending the season in the Portuguese elite.

Their Encarnado rivals therefore give early ground to both Sporting and FC Porto, also evincing a frustrating slowness in getting the ball up field and to danger men Nuno Gomes and Cardozo. Only Rui Costa showed true grit with his typically intelligent and precise passing but it wasn’t enough to down a determined Leixões who were only stopped by a great performance by Quim.

Nélson, Luís Filipe, Nuno Assis and Nuno Gomes all had poor games, Fernando Santos taking the latter off for Bergessio and them extirpating Luís Filipe in favour of Under-21 star Fábio Coentrão. This improved Benfica somewhat, but the goal took its sweet time in coming as the hosts kept their eye on the ball and dripped enthusiasm that kept the favourites in check right up to the waning moments.

A Rui Costa corner was netted by Petit (88 min) and the goal seemed to serve as the winner but just as Benfica breathed a sigh of relief, Leixões took a deep breath and struck out for the last time, supersub Nwoko (90 min) finally beating Quim to leave Benfica with a shock and a paltry point when they had taken all three for granted.

[...Benfica lineup]: Quim; Nélson, Katsouranis, David Luiz and Léo; Petit; Luís Filipe (Fábio Coentrão), Rui Costa and Nuno Assis (Andrés Diaz); Nuno Gomes (Bergessio) and Cardozo.

Source: Goal.com - Portugal - Bwin Liga: Porto Pummel, Benfica Bungle

Middlesbrough midfielder Fabio Rochemback is interested in a move to Benfica. The Portuguese side are keen to sign the Brazil international and they see him as an ideal replacement for Manuel Fernandes.

Source: FABIO KEEN ON BENFICA MOVE

The Lisbon Stock Exchange announced Monday that Joe Berardo had acquired just 1 percent of the club's stock with his offer of €3.50 (US$4.70) per share.

Source: Portuguese tycoon fails in his attempted stock market takeover of Benfica - International Herald Tribune

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Benfica news and... "notícia"?

Costa pathos


With so many players having their careers guided by agents and motivated by cold-blooded, cool-headed monetary considerations and advertising contracts we rarely get to see a player whose hot-blooded love for a club continues to gush uncontrollably from the bottom of his heart. It may be old school but it’s a lesson that Rui Costa continues to deliver in style.

Source: Goal.com - Editorial/Comment - Rui Costa: Lessons From The Maestro

Luisao doubtful for 2nd leg


"(Luisao) is not fit enough to play the friendly against Algeria on August 22," said a statement from the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).

Source: Sporting Life / INJURED LUISAO OUT OF BRAZIL SQUAD

It was Adu's debut (woo-hoo!)


Adu was inserted as an attacking midfielder, but drifted out to the wings in an attempt to find some space to operate. As the new boy in town, he limited himself to quick, snappy passes instead of trying to run at defenders. Early in the second half, Adu sent a pass to the Paraguayan Oscar Cardozo, whose header was stopped by goalkeeper Jesper Christiansen. Late in the game, Adu attempted a bicycle kick, but his shot went wide of the goal.

Source: NY Times soccer blog / Adus European Debut

Notícia from Mais futebol


Player's Union says something about Anderson. Source: Anderson recebe nota de culpa até sexta-feira

Katsouranis will play for Greece against Spain. Source: Katsouranis chamado para o particular entre Grécia e Espanha

Leixões coach comments on this weekend's league opening game vs Benfica. Source: Carlos Brito e o jogo com o Benfica: «Não seremos subservientes nem arrogantes»

20K+ spectators expected for Leixões-Benfica. Source: Leixões-Benfica: mais de 20 mil espectadores no Estádio do Bessa

...I think. Because I don't know Portuguese.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Eagle 2, Lion 1

A late Rui Costa goal ensured SL Benfica took the advantage from the first leg of their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie against FC København.

uefa.com / Rui Costa breaks København hearts

Canadian international Atiba Hutchinson scored in a losing cause Tuesday as FC Copenhagen was beaten 2-1 by Portugal's Benfica in the third qualifying round of the Champions League.

globesports.com / Canadian scores in losing cause in Champions League

Freddy Adu made his European debut Tuesday, drawing cheers when he entered as a first-half substitute for Benfica of Portugal during its 2-1 Champions League victory over FC Copenhagen. [...] Adu, one of the highest-profile players in Major League Soccer, got a taste of how hard it is to please Benfica's fans. The team was jeered off the field at halftime.

FOX (AP) / Champions League - Adu makes European debut with Benfica

Quick verdict: Solid tactical team performance - masterminded by coach Solbakken no doubt - to leave Benfica helpless in the offense for long stretches of the game. Outstanding performances by William Kvist and Michael Gravgaard - and good ones too by Jesper Christiansen, Jesper Grønkjær and a few others. Remember what no international media outlets chose to mention: Rui Costa's first goal came after one of the worst passes made since 1986 when Denmark's Jesper Olsen handed the ball to the Spanish offensive at the World Cup in Mexico. And actually his second came while some Copenhageners were busy asking the ref for a penalty.

Unlike last time Copenhagen visited Benfica, this time their mascot eagle went straight for it's snack thereby not forecasting a home team triumph. 2-1 is the slimmest possible win in this type of games as only 46% of the first leg home teams that make it ends up with aggregate wins.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Preview(s): Benfica away

It’s a case of déjà vu in the Portuguese capital as Benfica attempt to bring home the bacon with a win against the great Danes.

Goal.com - Match Preview - CL Qualifying Preview: SL Benfica - FC Copenhagen

There is no denying that Benfica looks to be more formidable of the two and with the advantage of the home ground and above all the partisan fans, we can expect a better showing with the need to chalk up a huge win to take to Copenhagen for the return leg.

Source: AsianHandicap.com – Benfica v. Copenhagen

Approximate outcome probabilities: home win: 70%, draw: 20%, away win: 10%.

Newsvine / Champions League qualification: 3rd round, 1st leg - Tuesday games

[Manuel Fernandes] had been named in the Benfica squad for their Champions League qualifying match against FC Copenhagen tonight, but he did not join up with the squad once confirmation of Everton's offer arrived. The midfielder would be ineligible to play for Everton in the Uefa Cup should he play against the Danes

Belfast Telegraph / Everton close to securing £6m Fernandes deal

"I do not know a lot about Benfica's current situation, but I still consider them favourites to qualify for the group stage," [Copenhagen coach Ståle Solbakken] said. "However, they may not be much stronger than Beitar Jerusalem were at this moment in time."

UEFA.com / København test for new-look Benfica

Expected (aka "wild guesses at") lineups



Benfica


Bergessio - Ó Cardozo - R Costa
Petit - F Coentrão - Katsouranis
Miguelito - Luisão - D Luiz - L Filipe
Quim


København


M Allbäck
A Hutchinson
J Grønkjær - R Würtz - H Nørregaard - L Sionko
N Jensen - B Hangeland - M Gravgaard - W Kvist
J Christiansen


The linups depend a lot on Benfica's transfers and issues with individual players, the choices of coach Solbakken and today's form of the players. The above could very well be wrong at about six positions total. And actually, as much as "wild guesses" I admit to a bit of "wishful thinking" as well.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

From Esbjerg to Benfica

In yesterday's 5-2 win I missed the last goalSporting Life / COPENHAGEN MAKE THEIR MOVE. Today, YouTube is my friend...



Tuesday night we'll be tuning in to the transmission from Portugal - with the weird comfort of risking little and the realistic hopes of winning everything. Here is some recent reading matter on Benfica:
Benfica Coach Fernando Santos is beginning to define how Benfica 2007-8 will look like in the wake of the pre-season experiments. The goal seems likely to stay in local hands and two promises appear to be on the way out as the Águias prepare to make a break from last year’s silverware drought…

Goal.com - Portugal - Benfica Shaping Up After Guadiana Test
In a sudden change of heart, Benfica’s first-choice left-back has reportedly asked to be allowed to rescind his contract and leave the Lisbon club just as the season appears around the bend…

Goal.com - Portugal - Brazilian Wants Out Of Benfica

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Reactions to the Jerusalem elimination

Kale, for the second time in a week, found only air, and Allback silenced about 20,000 Beitar fans at Teddy with an easy touch into the net.

Source: Haaretz / Great Danes top Beitar at Teddy

A fabulous pass by Idan Tal sent in Alvarez on the right who pushed into the penalty area and passed to Itzhaki to slot home on the hour mark.

Source: Soccer: Jerusalem Post / Betar Jerusalem's European dream ended

"It is matches like those ones that you live for as a football player. It's always great fun measuring yourself against the greatest teams in Europe and now we have another chance to do that." - Hjate Bo Nørregaard

Source: UEFA.com / Relieved København target Benfica

No new signings are planned for the Benfica challenge but Libor Sionko will have his permit to play by then. Anyway, first it's Esbjerg at home Saturday.

Update: It's getting better!



Man, those Israelis are a bitter lot...

"If I were one of their fans, I wouldn't pay a shekel to see [FC København]. The truth is I wouldn't go for free because they're a disgusting team, and they played old-fashioned soccer, which was just enough to get by us. I didn't come to Beitar just for Europe, but there's no doubt it was a part I looked forward to." - Idan Tal

Source: Haaretz / Shum 'The best team doesn't always win'

[...] the truth is that Beitar isn't a team worthy of even coming close to the Champions League. Neither is FC Copenhagen for that matter - if that consoles anyone.

Source: Haaretz / Postmortem / Beitar's troubles have yet to begin

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Don Ø: "I am one of the three most famous people in Denmark"

'Don't forget, we beat Man. United'

"In Canada nobody knows me." - Atiba Hutchinson.


Schum: I'm certain we will progress

"I'm certain that if we play at our regular level we will progress" - Jerusalem coach Itzhak Schum


Plus The Last Word: Schum-Spiegel effect could make it happen if you really need it all. (But I'm beginning to think they are horribly naive. They talk about getting past us and the 3rd round opponent to qualify for the Champions League, not the UEFA Cup. And they are still traumatized about losing to Dinamo Bucuresti - boasting an UEFA coefficient of 34.255, 5½ times higer than Beitar Jerusalem.)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Jerusalem warm-up: Ståle and Grønkjær talks

"We spoke a lot about the Beitar fans' fanaticism, but this is soccer and we are professionals. An enthusiastic crowd is good for the home team, but we will be focusing on the match. I am more worried about the heat and the weather than I am about the crowd." - Ståle Solbakken.


"We need to score in the away match, that is the key. The moment that we score, Beitar will have to get three." - Jesper Grønkjær.


Looking to the nine bookies currently offering bets on the game the approximate outcome probabilities at 40% for a home win, 25% for a draw and 35% for another Copenhagen win. Since any draw and win will do our chance of an aggregate win is larger than 60%. Looking at 733 double encounter knock-outs with first game 1-0 home wins in 412 instances the first game home team advanced to next round. That's 56%.

The only major wild card in the equation is whether or not Rasmus Würtz gets fit for the match. But honestly, I'm not really worried either way.

Related: UEFA.com / Beitar target København conquest
"København are a good side yet we can still beat them and reach the next stage, where Benfica are waiting." - Beitar coach Itzhak Shum.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Champions Legaue qualification 3rd round opponent: Benfica

If we make it past Beitar Jerusalem.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
The Benfica guys, I think?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Everyone hurrying out the door as soon as the show was over.

An interesting detail about Benfica is they just signed US wonderboy Freddy Adu: AP / U.S. Teen Star Adu Joins Benfica.

See all match-ups at UEFA.com.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Possible transfers: Wamberto and Hysen

Swedish Tobias Hysén [Wikipedia | Transfermarkt] is leaving Sunderland for IFK Göteborg or FC København or a Norwegian club.

Brazilian Wamberto [Wikipedia | Transfermarkt] is training with the team next week.

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Copenhagen Files

I love football and I love the Internet. Copenhagen Files is a playground of mine for the latter and a billboard of the former. The focus is on FC København - the #1 club in Copenhagen and Denmark.

I watch every single FC København game - aways usually on the Danish TV, home games currently from my season ticket seat at Parken Stadium. Every now and then a report from the nearby training pitches are to be expected. Or perhaps just from the supporter environment at local parks or bars ;-)

I also like to bet on games which usually takes place online these days. Therefore, I gather numbers and look at them; I analyze, twist, turn and play with them. And some of them ends up here as my probability assessments. But this blog is not about betting.

In the right hand column I collect every single relevant link you can think of. I actually use it for bookmarks often - perhaps they will prove handy to you too? They should easily guide you to the latest info on injuries, club economy, squad value etc.