Dec 15, 2007

Saturday Soccer Summary, Dec. 15, 2007: Few Surprises On Eve Of Big Four Showdown

There were few upsets across European leagues today as fans turned their sights to two massive Premiership showdowns and the final of the FIFA Club World Cup to be played Sunday. Okay, so maybe the Club World Cup has not received quite the same level of attention, especially in the U.K. Point is, there were not many upsets in today's games.

One surprise did come from Portugal's bwinLIGA where Benfica lost only their second game of the year. Cross-town rivals Belenensus did the honors this time as Freddy Adu was not brought on soon enough to work his magic. I can understand Jose Camacho not wanting to play Freddy from the start due to match fitness concerns or whatever, but he really should be subbing him in sooner, especially if Benfica are down a goal. Today, Freddy was the team's third substitute.

I wouldn't call this an upset, but Juventus scored an impressive away win at Lazio today on a brace by Alessandro del Piero. I say it wasn't an upset because Lazio look very much like a mid-table side (they're currently 12th in Serie A and out of the Champions League). With the win, Juve move into second place in the Italian league.

Another impressive away win was Barcelona's 3-0 triumph over Valencia this evening. Eto'o had a first half brace and Gudjohnsen added a third in the second half on a nice assist by Giovanni. Bojan Krkic also made an appearance as Frank Rijkaard was able to rest some starters. Jar Jar and Deco didn't play at all. Lionel Messi picked up a knock and was subbed out at half time (for Giovanni). I'm hearing Messi will miss a week or so. Valencia are not in good form, having collected just one point out of their last four games.

A mini-upset was the scoreless draw between Nice and Olympique Lyonnais in the French league. I don't get GolTV but was still able to watch follow most of the match online and thought Nice were the better team and unlucky to not come away with three points. Ten minutes before time Ederson struck a freekick that ricocheted off the underside of the bar and onto (but not over) the goal line.

Finally, break out Spurs! The North London side notched their first away win in impressive fashion today as Dimitar Berbatov SCORED` an 81st minute winner over Portsmouth. It was Pompey's first home defeat in 11 games this season. Juane Ramos' side have now won two Premiership games in a row, both against teams that are (much) higher up in the table than they are. This may not sound like much, but it's Tottenham's first back-to-back wins and first shutout away from home this season. Gotta start somewhere. Was this the turning point for Spurs? No. The turning point came with Ramos' arrival. The team has been playing completely different football since then, give or take the odd relapse (that home loss to Birmingham being Exhibit A).

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