Tag Archives: champions-league

Weekend musing – AFL, sledging, EPL final week……

There have been instances of good sportsmanship and bad sportsmanship in the AFL last weekend.

On the good side it was pleasing to see Dyson Heppell and Joel Selwood chair James Kelly off after last weeks game to celebrate Kelly’s 300th game.

On the flip side, you had the sledging allegations levelled at St Kilda players for targetting Marc Murphy in the game against Carlton targeting. This is a difficult issue and hard to assess and monitor. By drawing attention to the sledging and the content of the sledging, it brought to light rumours that I and a lot of other footy fans who aren’t on social media sites were not aware of. Where do you draw the line when it does not involve issues that are currently in the code of conduct?

Another good story in the AFL this week is the appointment of the female umpire, Eleni Glouftsis for the Essendon v West Coast game this Sunday. By all reports she has got there on her merits and deserves the chance. Another way of getting females involved in the game of Australia Rules Football.

The EPL concludes this week with Chelsea and Tottenham wrapping up the top two spots before the weekend and Manchester City almost safe in third spot. That leaves Liverpool and Arsenal in the fight for fourth position and the all important Champions League qualification. Liverpool have the easier game, but the Gunners have come with a rush in the last month and are not without some chance of finishing fourth. With Manchester United playing off for the Europa Cup and possible qualification for the Champions League, more may need to play out before the final positions are known. I have had a look at the qualification criteria and it is by no means clear. My personal view is that it would not be a bad thing for the Gunners to miss out on Europe and only concentrate on the League next season. Chelsea and Leicester have won the League in the last two years without having to worry about the Champions League.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – Soccer, Leicester City, Arsenal……

Chris Barwin HillsThe English Premier League ladder has an unfamiliar name on the top at the moment in Leicester City. They have obviously surprised everyone and are this year’s Southampton and the next month may indicate if they drop out of the top four as Southampton eventually did last year. Their next four games are Chelsea (h), Everton (a), Liverpool (a) & Manchester City (h). If they can split the points in those fixtures they may hang onto their spot in the top four, but as Southampton found out last year it is hard to maintain that consistency over the course of the season.

Staying with that theme it was great to see Arsenal again move alexis-sanchez-arsenal-burnley_3223813through the group stage of the Champions League after an extremely shaky start to the campaign. The home win against Bayern Munich was obviously the key with the return wins against Olympiakos and Dinamo Zagreb sealing the continuation of their run which I think is 15-16 times in a row they have progressed past the group stage.

There was also some good news for the Australian fans of the Gunners with the team coming to Australia in 2017. The bad news for Victorian supporters is that the two games they are scheduled to play will be in Sydney.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – football, AFL umpires, golf, Spieth, soccer…..

Chris Barwin HillsAfter watching the first couple of rounds of football I must say I think the umpiring has been okay. However, I have a couple of observations regarding interpretations. Firstly, there are high tackles, usually umpires won’t pay a free kick for a high tackle if the offended player has ducked his head. What is the difference when the player drops his knees to influence the high tackle. Luke Shuey, the Sellwoods and Paul Puopolo seem to be masters of this tactic Unknown-7and it seems the umpires fall for it all the time. It is certainly more difficult to adjudicate than a player dropping his head, but to my mind no different. The other issue is the sling tackle. I thought the sling tackle had been banned and yet two weeks in a row we have Hawthorn players execute the sling tackle. Firstly we had Duryea on Bartel, which resulted in a concussion and then last week McEvoy on Melksham and Baguley in separate incidents. Has this rule been shelved?

Last week I raised the issue of the Scott brothers both losing by big margins in round one. Well North bounced back for Brad, but Geelong suffered their worst defeat for sometime at home and they are still in last position. Geelong have played Hawthorn and Freo, so Unknown-4it is no disgrace to lose to those sides, but the way they have lost would worry the hierarchy at Geelong. I am certainly not ruling Geelong out for the season based on two bad loses, but I doubt they will be good enough to make the top 4-6 this year. Having said that, they will win this week and could easily win the following three.

I must also give myself a pat on the back picking Jordan Speith to win the Masters. Very rarely does a player lead the first round of a major and take out the title, but with a chasing pack of major winners he maintained a four stroke buffer over the last two days and don’t forget he is only 21. Two starts at the Masters have delivered a second and a first. This guy is clearly a special talent who now sits at number two in the world and with the way he has played you Unknown-5wonder how long it will take before he displaces Rory McIlroy as number one. What world golf does have at the moment is a number of quality golfers who can put pressure on each other, rather than a Tiger Woods or a Greg Norman being number 1 for an extended period of time. It has to be good for golf.

In the Champions League I was extremely surprised to see Bayern Munich lose to FC Porto. Bayern are a team absolutely chock full of stars although a few of these were missing and I would expect them to bounce back in the return leg, however, they do have a two goal deficit to overcome.

Have a great weekend!

3 things to contemplate on a Friday – Arsenal, NRL, Tiger Woods

Feb 20 2011 0061. Being an Arsenal fan is a tough gig. Having risen to third place in the Premier League, the Gunners had the ‘user friendly’ Monaco as their last sixteen opponent in the Champions League yesterday and a home ground advantage. The unexpected 1-3 result now leaves Arsene Wenger’s team the task of winning by at least 3-0 away to make the final eight.

Coach Wenger described the team’s play as ‘It looks like we lost our nerve and rationality’.

Arsenal are the true Jekyll and Hyde team if you compare this performance with the stunning win away against title contenders Manchester City several weeks ago.

Life is certainly a roller coaster for the fans.

2. NRL boss Dave Smith is kidding himself if he believes his recent mantra ‘Let’s keep it in perspective’, regarding the drug woes of five of the Gold Coast Titan’s players, is how we should see the issue. Five players make up 16% of the list and two of those players in Greg Bird and David Taylor are State of Origin representatives. In addition, the issue precipitated the NRL taking over the Club.

With the press indicating that there may be further names revealed by the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission including implications for League players across the border in NSW, I think we have enough of the perspective to know this is not a small matter!

3. Tiger Woods has completed his first golf course design – that is good news for the former World number one. With his golf game struggling (he hit a career high 82 two weeks ago) and his physical health in question (a back injury prevented him finishing a recent tournament at Torrey Pines), it seems like time for Tiger to take on less onerous pursuits that don’t require swinging a club to make a living.

As predicted on Sportsman Radio several years ago, Jack Nicklaus’ career majors win total is in no danger at all!

Friday musing – AFL, final eight, Arsenal, Champions League…..

Chris Barwin HillsWell with one round of the AFL season to go there is still a great deal of interest in the final positions in the final eight.

Should the results go as expected it will be a battle between Adelaide and West Coast on percentage for the final position, but Richmond have their fate in their own hands so it is the position you want to be in from a Richmond point of view. If the game was in Melbourne I would give them a genuine chance, but being in Sydney I think I will have to favour the home team. That being said, the Swans will know the equation necessary to hold top spot as Hawthorn play Collingwood tonight and a big win by Hawthorn and a loss to Sydney could see the Swans lose top spot.

Looking to the other games, Geelong should beat Brisbane at home, but if you cast your mind back to the corresponding game last year Brisbane lost by a kick in controversial circumstances. Geelong have won a lot of games this year by small margins and have not played out four quarters many times and if they lose and Fremantle win, Geelong could drop to fourth. Fremantle need to win to at least hold fourth spot as a loss to Port Adelaide will see Port take fourth spot.

North Melbourne looks to be the only team that cannot go up or down, they are a game and 16% below Port and a game and 10% ahead of Essendon, so they look like retaining sixth position with a home final. Essendon need to beat Carlton to retain seventh position to play North in Melbourne, or run the risk that a loss to Carlton and a win by Richmond could see them head interstate to play Freo or Port.

It is a great last round as so many positions could change, but I am predicting the status quo and games going with the favourites, so that will leave Adelaide and West Coast to fight out eighth position on percentage. My tip is Adelaide to just get there and play a home final against Port in the first week of the finals.

Also great to see the Gunners make it through to the Champions League again. They have drawn a reasonable group and should at least get through to the next round.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – EPL, Champions League, Cricket, AFL……

Chris Barwin HillsWell we’re back to Fridays after two consecutive Thursday Musings.

The big interest this week was the state of the EPL. With two games still to go everything is still up for grabs. No team has sewn up the title, no team has been definitely relegated and while the Gunners looked to have solidified fourth position, the last Champions League position has also yet to be decided. That is what you want in a competition. Hopefully everything is still up for grabs on the last day of competition when they all play at the same time.

It must also be said that with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid both qualifying for the Champions League final and Valencia and Sevilla vying for a position in the final of the Europa League, that Spanish soccer is in a lot better shape than the Spanish economy!

I was somewhat bemused to hear that the Australian Cricket team had gone back to the top of the world Test rankings. While they did well against England in Australia and beat South Africa away, the two previous series they went down to England 3-0 and lost to India 4-0, both away. You have got to question a table or a rankings system in which you can turn things around so quickly or does beating the rankings leader on their home turf carry that much weight? It does confirm that bowlers win test matches and with Australia’s fast bowling stocks looking healthy going into the future, perhaps we are in for another period of success.

The recently completed horse racing “championships” in Sydney also require some comment. They have tried to emulate the Melbourne Spring Carnival by drastically increasing the prize money. Well judging from afar, I think the standard of horse racing was right up there, however, the crowds must have been a disappointment to the administrators. Yes, they had problems with the weather, but I am sure they would have gotten similar crowds without the increase in prize money. The big advantages the Melbourne Spring Carnival has over Sydney is first the tradition and secondly, the timing. The Spring Carnival does not have to compete with the football codes.

In the AFL all the games look quite straightforward this week, but rest assured there will be a couple of upsets and it is a matter of trying to pick which ones. I think Essendon will be vulnerable to the Western Bulldogs and I think Richmond will put in an improved performance against Geelong. That being said I am picking the favourites.

Thursday musing – AFL, Arsenal, FA Cup, Premier League…..

Chris Barwin HillsDue to coming public holidays this is the first in a series of two Thursday musings!

With Good Friday tomorrow, the attention turns to the AFL and the “will they/won’t they” sanction a game for next year. I must say that I used to be against it on the basis that the day was always sport free. However, now that other sports are cashing in on the day, I would be happy to be able to sit down on Good Friday night and watch a game of football. Having said that, I would prefer that my team was not playing.

Sticking to football, this one is slightly out of left field. Since Dale “Daisy” Thomas cut off his hair he has hardly played a good game having previously been one of the better players in the AFL. My solution is that he grows his hair back. ou take away someone’s trademark and they are not the player they used to be. I also cite the historical reference to Stephen “strawbs” O’Dwyer who used to play for Melbourne, he had very prominent ears, but as soon as he had his ears pinned back he hardly played a good game. I am sure there other ones as well, like Keith Greig’s ankle bandages, although I doubt he ever removed them.

Better news for the Arsenal fans over the last couple of days. They scraped into the FA Cup final and then in the Premier League they beat West Ham and Everton lose to Crystal Palace to allow the Gunners to reclaim the all important 4th position. They now have their destiny in their own hands and it would be a great finish to the year to take out the first bit of silver wear for 9 years and qualify again for the Champions League. It also looks like Liverpool are favourite to now take out the League title with Man City only getting a draw against Sunderland. What an amazing turnaround from last year when I think they finished 7th.

Have a great Easter!

Friday musing – cricket, the Ashes, soccer, Arsenal……..

Chris Barwin HillsWell what good timing for a Musing with the Aussies securing the Ashes on Tuesday! I thought Australia were a good chance in the series on the back of some pretty encouraging performances in England earlier in the year, but I did not think we would win the first three Tests in good style.

I mentioned last week about the toss playing a big part in teams winning and the last six results in Ashes test matches have seen the team winning the toss and batting coming out on top. You would think that the team batting second should have the best of the batting conditions, but England have not capitalised at all and have trailed in each of the first three tests. So much so that Australia have declared four of their six innings to date.

Mitchell Johnson seems to be most pundits pick for man of the series so far, but Warner, Haddin and Clarke are not far behind and when you factor in the performances of Siddle, Harris, Lyon and Smith, you can see why Australia are winning. That is not to down play the performances of Rogers and Watson who have also been solid contributors. Bailey has saved his spot because the team is winning and they can afford to give him time to settle. He certainly did his job on Monday morning.

I think the performance of Nathan Lyon needs a special mention. He has been much maligned and I have been guilty in that regard, however, you look at his scalps so far in the series and he has picked up crucial wickets. In the last test he got Cook in the first innings and Stokes in the second who were their teams highest scorers. He has earned his spot.

I can now go to the Boxing Day test and enjoy the cricket. Some would say it would be better to still have the series alive, but it is like being 10 goals up on Collingwood going into the last quarter just knowing you can enjoy the game.

Last week I lauded the Gunners for making the knockout phase of the Champions League for the 14th straight year and then they go out and lose to Manchester City 6-3. That is a tennis score isn’t it? Man City have been irrepressible at home this year and I suppose you could look on the positive side and say “well at least Arsenal got 3 goals”. I think the fixturing so close to the away game in Italy may have had an impact, but for the top team to concede 6 goals it is a bit of a worry.

Have a great weekend and a very Merry Christmas and we will muse up again in the New Year!

Friday musing – the Ashes, Champions League, Arsenal……..

Chris Barwin HillsWith the result of the test in Adelaide and the results of the other tests recently it became very obvious that winning the toss goes a long way to winning a test match. This has always been the case, but it does seem more so now with the way pitches are prepared. Captains have always been preferred to bat first, but usually the pitch offered a fair bit of assistance to the quicks, particularly in the first session. The side batting second usually had the better of the conditions so you could still set up a win batting second.

It all seems to have changed with the “drop-in” pitches as they don’t seem to offer as much bounce early nor spin later. There has been some suggestion that there be a toss for the first test of a series and then it be rotated after that, but I would not agree with that suggestion. I think the better idea is for a return to the old style of pitch preparation which gives both sides an even chance.

Good to see the Gunners make it through to their 14th Champions League knock out phase in a row. Interesting how Napoli miss out with 12 points and yet St Petersburg get in with 6.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – Watson, Ponting, Warne & more

Chris Barwin HillsI think I have commented on Shane Watson’s fragile physique before, but watching him come into bowl and do his hamstring re-emphasised this point. I mean the man was hardly charging in like Dennis Lillee on the long run, he ambles in like a park cricketer! Don’t get me wrong I am a bit of a Shane Watson fan because I think he is a genuine all rounder and they do not pop up very often. At his best in both batting or bowling he probably gets a game in the Australian team, but he is so rarely at his best that he does get very frustrating for the fan. Couple this with our captain’s bad back and the continued breakdown of our fast bowlers and it is no wonder we are struggling internationally.

Keeping to the cricket theme I was disappointed with Warnie’s rant the other day about Ricky Ponting. I think you read between the lines and you sense some sour grapes about missing out on the Australian captaincy. He is clearly supporting his friend Michael Clarke, but Clarke is the current captain of the team and can look after himself. Having said that, I never thought Ponting was a great captain, although his record would suggest otherwise, at least he kept the team together. Michael Clarke is a better on-field captain, but seems to lack the other qualities which make great captains like Mark Taylor and Ian Chappell who were both good on and off the field.

Now getting on to the Melbourne Cup and this is a comment through my hip pocket. Leading up to last weekend I had been on Fiorente, but after Dear Demi’s run in the Mackinnon I jumped horse and had a bit each way on her. I still had Fiorente in quinella’s and trifectas. I was never happy with Dear Demi in the run and she never seemed to settle and was gone a long way from home. I was then astounded to read Chris Munce’s comment the next day that he was happy in the run, but she didn’t stay!! My guess is that he stirred her up early to get a good position before the first turn, which she did have, but this was contrary to how she had been running and it ruined any chance she had. A great performance by Fiorente and fully deserved win for Gai Waterhouse.

Not satisfied with stuffing up on Melbourne Cup day I did a similar thing on Oaks Day. I was on Solicit in the Wakeful and changed to Gypsy Diamond for the Oaks. Solicit just gets pipped and runs a good third, while Gypsy Diamond struggled into fourth. The trick is to get onto the horse I was on, but got off and you will have a win!

Good to see the Gunners get up twice since the last Musing. A good win over Liverpool and a very good away win over Borussia Dortmund which extends their away record to eight months without a loss. The big test will be this week against Manchester United.

Sticking to the world game, I saw the A-League game last Friday night between Adelaide and West Sydney and it was a very good standard and it will not be too long before Tomi Juric plays for the Socceroos.

Have a great weekend and go Gunners!!