AC Milan had to work hard to overcome AFC Champions League winners Urawa Reds in their FIFA Club World Cup semi-final, eventually prevailing 1-0 thanks to Clarence Seedorf’s late strike in front of 67,005 fans at Yokohama International Stadium.
The only goal of the match came from a quickly taken free-kick that saw Brazilian ace Kaka ghost passed Fabio Nene and cut the ball back to Seedorf from the byline, with the Dutch international making no mistake in side-footing passed Ryota Tsuzuki in the Urawa goal.
Carlo Ancelotti’s game plan was clearly to occupy Urawa’s marauding wing-back Takahito Soma with defensive duties, as Milan wingback Massimo Oddo turned the tables by running straight at Soma whenever the opportunity arose. Oddo’s crossing was inaccurate, however, and striker Alberto Gilardino spurned the chances that did fall his way.
Milan looked far more dangerous following the introduction of Togel Singapore veteran striker Filippo Inzaghi, and they eventually broke the deadlock in the sixty-eighth minute. The Reds could only conjure half chances, with striker Washington struggling to deal with the pace of Italian international defender Alessandro Nesta.
Substitute Nobuhisa Yamada made his long awaited return from injury, and the Urawa captain had arguably Urawa’s best chance when Dida dived to save his powerful low drive late in the match.
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti was naturally pleased to have qualified for the final of the FIFA Club World Cup, but warned the media that his team would face a far tougher test against Argentine giants Boca Juniors.
Holger Osieck was satisfied with his team’s performance, and claimed that Urawa gave a good account of both themselves and of Japanese football. He stated that the Reds’ next goal was to win the 3/4 playoff against Tunisian side Etoile du Sahel on December 16, and give striker Washington a rousing farewell before his departure for Brazilian club Fluminese.
Bow Down To Happy Gilmore
I’m all for good-natured banter at a football match, but supporters are beginning to overstep the line. Harry Redknapp commands respect from all the major players in the game, such as Frank Lampard and Jamie Redknapp, yet the colourful manager endured a torrent of vitriolic abuse when Portsmouth travelled to Aston Villa.
As the match slipped away from the Villans, the Holte End outrageously suggested that Harry had bunged the referee. That accusation is entirely without foundation: Harry prefers goods inwards to despatch.
The Villa fans went on to intimate that Harry enjoys the occasional stroke of the pink puppy. I wouldn’t criticise Redknapp even if this was true, as it’s an understandable reaction after Jamie.
A minority of supporters then disgracefully claimed that Harry would soon be behind bars, partaking in certain activities in the shower area. Not only does this slur completely contradict their earlier insinuation; it’s also downright offensive, and Harry will not be taking this lying down. We’ll all have red cheeks if we miss the 5/2 for a Tottenham win over Pompey.
The travelling Villa supporters will hopefully show a little more restraint when around Roy Keane, as his preferred method of conflict resolution does not involve complaining to selected media outlets. I’m spreading the word that 9/4 for a draw between Sunderland and the Villa looks pretty tasty.
When it comes to speaking to the BBC, Sam Allardyce is also a total blanker. The Beeb fought back on last week’s Match of the Day; they comically photoshopped a ridiculous woolly hat on his oversized head. I can’t wait to get my hands on the mammoth 6/4 for a Fulham win over Newcastle.
Team news is probably the single most important factor in betting, after recent form or a nod from Kieren Fallon, so I’ll wait for updates on Hleb, Flamini and Fabregas before taking an interest in the Arsenal v Chelsea match. Four of the last six Premier League meetings between the two giants have finished all square, so I’ll tentatively look towards the 9/4 for a draw at this early stage.
Birmingham City will definitely have to strengthen their squad in January, and with Alex McLeish at the helm, I expect there to be a strong Scottish connection. Two names that immediately spring to mind are Miller and Becks. There is a player nicknamed ‘Woodpecker’ who McLeish would love to sign, but he’s tied up at Chelsea. I’m definitely attached to the 5/4 for a Birmingham win over Reading.
Middlesbrough are a riddle, wrapped up in an enigma, shrouded in mystery, situated in a hole. I’m praying the Boro will produce their A-game against the outclassed Derby at a larger than expected 7/5.
Lee Bowyer is on the verge of a return to action after recovering from Gilmore’s groin. It was a genuine surprise to me; I thought he just had a tear of the adductor muscles. People should be falling over themselves to get on 15/8 for an Everton win over West Ham.
Dressing-room dissent is on the rise at Wigan. One senior player is already on Steve Bruce’s back, and that’s not a position I would like to see anyone in. The player, who wishes to remain anonymous, has suggested that Bruce is a long-ball merchant. Paul Scharner continued, “If we don’t change to playing football, then it will be very difficult.” The only thing attractive at the JJB this weekend is the 11/8 for a Blackburn win.
I watched in horror last weekend as Stephen Ireland committed what can only be described as a heinous crime: he appeared to be wearing a wig. Call me old fashioned, but toupees are only acceptable for the bald and the ginger.
Let’s be honest, if Ireland is using a piece, and it remains conjecture at this stage, it doesn’t make him any less of a man. Only wearing a pink jumper on a night out will result in any long-term loss of man-points. Bolton have won their last three at Manchester City, winning them all ‘to nil’. I refuse to cover up my interest in Megson’s men at 4/1.
Life is full of little coincidences. As Steven Gerrard was throwing himself to the ground in Marseille, his wife was getting turned over at home. There was also a burglary. I’m helping myself to the 13/8 for a Liverpool win over Manchester United.
I hope Stevie can recover from the trauma, as I need the influential Scouser to win the ‘battle of the inner-ear infections’ against Ronaldo to land the weekend accer. Birmingham, Middlesbrough, Tottenham and Liverpool are the selections, the payout is an increasingly plummeting 45/1.