Tuesday, 9 August 2011


Good evening sports fans.
Your beloved I like football me has moved to its new home at http://ilikefootballme.wordpress.com

The move is just simply down to wanting to try something new in terms of layout and style, and I was getting very frustrated with the Blogger interface...

Please bookmark/favourite the new site and keep following the blog!! There will be plenty more stuff there and I will need everyone's help to get it on the map.



Saturday, 6 August 2011

Campeonato Brasileiro 2011 preview: Round 15 (part two)

Continuing on with the preview of this weekend's Brasileirão, let's turn our attention to Sunday's afternoon matches.

Santos x Ceará (Sunday 7th - 16h00 Pacaembu)

Both Santos and Ceará have been struggling of late, so a win for either side would be vital. Ceará are coming into this game off the back of an extremely disappointing defeat at home to Avaí, where they were completely outplayed and beaten 3x0. Santos, the 2011 Copa Libertadores champions, are also in a poor phase, losing their last three matches and gaining heavy criticism from their supporters.

Against Ceará, Santos should not really have many problems and will more than likely win comfortably. They will be without wonderkid Neymar, who is suspended, but they will still be able to field a strong lineup capable of seeing off the Vozão.

Internacional x Cruzeiro (Sunday 7th - 16h00 Beira-Rio)

Internacional and Cruzeiro face off against one another in Porto Alegre in what could certainly turn out to be the game of the round. Both teams have slumped a little over the past month, but they possess strong squads and we should see in exciting yet even match. Inter and Cruzeiro are both poised to go on a good run of form, and a win in this match could be perfect to kick that off.

Inter remain with several selection issues, Guiñazu, Zé Roberto, Bolatti and Gilberto are all injured, Oscar and Juan are away with the Brazilian U-20 squad, and Kleber and Wilson Matias are suspended. Coach Osmar Loss has been using a 4-5-1 formation recently, but with so many injuries in the midfield, it is expected that he will have to change his shape. 

Cruzeiro aren't without their own problems either, Thiago Ribeiro and Roger remain on the sidelines injured, but coach Joel Santana can still count on Montillo and Wallyson going forward. This will be an intriguing match, where we should see some goals and excitement. In my opinion, Cruzeiro will come through as narrow winners, but in truth this game could go either way.

Atlético-PR x Corinthians (Sunday 7th - 16h00 Arena da Baixada)

Leaders Corinthians continue on their run of favourable fixtures, in the past week they have faced 17th placed Avaí, 20th placed América and now they take on Atlético Paranaense in 19th place. This game could be dangerous though, as o Furacão have hit some decent form of late and look tough to beat at home in Curitiba. 

Corinthians have had their leader credentials well tested over the past few weeks, and some cracks are beginning to appear. Their defence does not look as assured as it was earlier in the season, and some particularly poor performances from young goalkeeper Renan has now made coach Tite axe him in favour of their terribly inexperienced third goalkeeper Danilo Fernandes. With their opponents visibly rattled by recent results, Atlético will be going all out for the upset.

América-MG x Fluminense (Sunday 7th - 16h00 Arena do Jacaré)

InternaciIn the last of Sunday's afternoon matches América Mineiro host last year's champions Fluminense in Sete Lagoas. América, currently in 20th position in the league standings, have been in some real trouble of late and team morale appears to be at an all-time low. Fan's favourite Givanildo has came in as their new manager to try and steady the ship, but they will find it extremely hard against this Fluminense side.

Fluminense coach Abel Braga looks to have finally settled into the job and Fluminense are on their best run of form of this season so far. This week the club has been rocked with speculation surrounding the possible exit of national team striker Fred, with the 27 year old claiming he has recieved death threats from certain sections of the Fluminense support. They will continue without him this weekend, with Rafael Moura and Rafael Sobis playing up front. 

In Brasil, scandals like this often seem to affect on-field performance, but Fluminense are looking too good at this moment and should win this match comfortably.

There you have it, Sunday's afternoon games all previewed. The final part of the preview is coming soon, a look at the three matches on Sunday evening, which includes an interesting clássico.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Campeonato Brasileiro 2011 preview: Round 15 (part one)

The 2011 Brasileirão continues this weekend with another card full of interesting ties and a nice clássico on Sunday night. Read on for previews of the weekend, starting with the three matches on Saturday.

Palmeiras x Grêmio (Saturday 6th - 18h30 Canindé)

Round 15 kicks off with an interesting clash between two traditional giants, Palmeiras and Grêmio. Both sides came away with a draw in Round 14, but the morale in the respective camps could not be more different. Palmeiras were away from home against Coritiba, and despite playing a large portion of the second half with only ten men, they managed to draw 1x1. Grêmio were at home to Atlético Mineiro and drew 2x2 after conceding a very late goal. Grêmio coach Julinho Camargo was sacked the following day after only 33 days in charge, and he has been swiftly replaced by Celso Roth, who will be managing the Tricolor for the fourth time.

Palmeiras will be without Luan and Thiago Heleno who are suspended, but they should be buoyed by the inclusion of centre-back Henrique for his first start since returning to the club from Barcelona. Playmaker Douglas returns for Grêmio, and he will play in Roth's favoured 4-2-3-1 formation. Grêmio may be able to pull off a surprise result as so often occurs when a team brings in a new manager, but Palmeiras have a great record against Grêmio and are heavily favoured in this one.

Flamengo x Coritiba (Saturday 6th - 18h30 Engenhão)

In Rio de Janeiro, Flamengo will be trying to continue their assault on leaders Corinthians with a home match against Coritiba. Fresh from a vital 1x0 win over Cruzeiro, Ronaldinho Gaúcho &co will take the game to Coritiba and are clear favourites to win. Coritiba played well against Palmeiras on Wednesday, but could not find a winning goal and left very disappointed with their 1x1 draw.

Flamengo are without Ronaldo Angelim and Airton - suspended after picking up a third yellow card against Cruzeiro - but will have battling midfielder Willians back in the team. Coritiba should field the same side that played against Palmeiras, the only change should be the inclusion of Jonas ahead of Maranhão at right back. Coxa will give it everything they've got against Flamengo, but a resounding win for the home side is the safest bet.

Atlético-MG x Figueirense (Saturday 6th - 21h00 Ipatingão)

Atlético Mineiro take on Figueirense in Saturday's late game. Despite an excellent and unexpected win over Botafogo mid-week, this is a Figueirense side that appear to be losing momentum and feeling the pressure. Atlético Mineiro look to be returning to form after a disappointing start and will be expected to win this one and climb up the table.

O Galo will make one change to the side that drew with Grêmio on Wednesday, with Giovanni Augusto entering in the place of the suspended Caio.  Dorival Junior should keep the team in the same 3-5-2 shape with André and Magno Alves up front. This will be a closer game than some are predicting, but I would still expect Galo to come out on top.

There you go, that's all of Saturday's games done, I'll be back very soon with the seven Sunday games, both afternoon and evening.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Campeonato Brasileiro 2011 preview: Round 14 (part two)

We are back with the preview for Round 14 of the 2011 Brasileirão, we still have two move games tonight to cover, and then tomorrow's match-ups.

Cruzeiro x Flamengo (Wednesday 3rd - 21h50 Arena do Jacaré)

Cruzeiro host Flamengo in Sete Lagoas in what is certainly this week’s headline match. The home side have had some difficulties of late and after some good performances in the past month or so, they have now suffered two straight defeats against lesser opponents. Sitting in mid-table, they will be desperate to claw their way back up into a Copa Libertadores place. Cruzeiro are still without Thiago Ribeiro and Roger, but will have a strong line-up to call upon.

Flamengo are the league's form team at the moment and they remain as the only unbeaten side in the Brasileirão. Craque Ronaldinho Gaúcho is hitting form and sits at the top of the goalscoring charts, while Thiago Neves is putting in some excellent performances in the midfield. On paper, this one looks like a nailed-on Flamengo win, but Cruzeiro have an uncanny knack of beating Flamengo, in fact they have been victorious in the last six league meetings between the sides. Expect an even game without many goals.

Coritiba x Palmeiras (Wednesday 3rd - 21h50 Couto Pereira)

The last time that Coritiba and Palmeiras met at the Couto Pereira, the home side recorded a historic win, defeating Palmeiras 6x0 in the Copa do Brasil. Times have changed now, Palmeiras are a much stronger side who are secure in defence and Coritiba's momentum seems to have slowed down.

Palmeiras welcome back ídolos Marcos and Kleber to the starting 11, and new signing Henrique makes in the squad, although he will most likely start on the bench. Coritiba are the favourites for this one, despite Palmeiras' high league position. This should be an interesting match, with Coritiba investing their hopes in their attack and Palmeiras doing the same only in defence. Expect a tight scoreline, perhaps even a 0x0 draw with plently of missed chances.

São Paulo x Bahia (Thursday 4th - 21h00 Morumbi)

Moving on to Thursday's games, we start at the Morumbi as São Paulo take on Bahia. New São Paulo boss Adílson Batista has had a pretty unconvincing start to his reign, especially at home. His only two home games in charge have ended in disappointment, with a defeat to Vasco and a draw against Atlético-GO. On Thursday they will be looking to bounce back against a Bahia side struggling in defence.

Bahia are a side that have been suffering from similar problems, they have managed good results against big sides away from home, but their home form is lamentable. O tricolor baiano should make it very difficult for São Paulo, and if their defence can manage to stop São Paulo's wonderkid Lucas, they might just be able to sneak a result.

Fluminense x Internacional (Thursday 4th - 21h00 Engenhão)

Internacional travel to Rio de Janeiro to take on a rejuvenated Fluminense side at the Engenhão, and with the return of some key players for the away side, we could be in for a cracking match. Since Abel Braga took over as Fluminense boss, the morale amongst the squad has beed good, but results have been poor. Last weekend though, Flu managed a 4x0 win over Ceará in what was certainly their best performance of the season so far. Forwards Fred, Souza and Marquinho all seem to be in good form, and they will certainly be very hard to beat at the moment.

Their opponents Internacional are trying to pull themselves out of a disappointing phase, littered with injury problems and unconvincing results. However striker Leandro Damião will make his return against Flu and when he is in the side the whole team seem to function better. Zé Roberto is still injured and Oscar and Juan are with the Brazilian under-20 squad, but Inter are starting to get their big men back. This promises to be an excellent game, both sides are needing the points and there should be goals.

Atlético-GO x Atlético-PR (Thursday 4th - 21h00 Serra Dourada)

The last game of the weekend sees a battle of the atléticos as Atlético Goianiense take on Atlético Paranaense in Goiânia. This match may be forgotten amongst the other more high profile encounters, but it promises to be an intriguing game with both sides making big improvements over the past few weeks. The home side are unbeaten in their last three games, and when you consider those games were against São Paulo, Cruzeiro and then Internacional, that is even more impressive. 

Atlético Paranaense, o Furacão, had a terrible start to this year's campaign, only picking up two points in their first ten matches. However, wins against Botafogo and Santos (a thrilling 3x2) in the past ten days has breathed new life into the players and lifted them up off the bottom of the league. The signing of Uruguayan striker Santiágo 'Morro' García has given their attack some much-needed firepower and who knows how far this resurgence can take them.


Campeonato Brasileiro 2011 preview: Round 14 (part one)

We are rapidly approaching the half-way point already in this year's Brasileirão and the league table is really starting to take shape. Round 14 is another midweek round and we have all twenty teams in action in some potentially fantastic match-ups.

Corinthians x América-MG (Wednesday 3rd - 19h30 Pacaembu)

League leaders Corinthians kick-off Round 14 with a home game against bottom-side América. Playing at home in São Paulo, Corinthians will be widely expected to dispatch of o Coelho rather easily and pick up another three points, but things may not be that simple. On Sunday, Corinthians suffered their first loss away from home this season against 19th placed Avaí and that has definitely left an air of doubt and uncertainty around the Timão squad.

On the other hand, América are going through some tough times of their own. With one win from thirteen games and a goal difference of -14, this is a side that has really struggled since their promotion this year. Fan's favourite Givanildo Oliveira has taken over as manager to try and steady the ship, but he will only be watching from the stands on Wednesday night. With the return of Corinthians captain Chicão, and the obvious gap in quality between the two sides, I would expect nothing less than a convincing win for the home side in this one.

Grêmio x Atlético-MG (Wednesday 3rd - 19h30 Estádio Olímpico)

Over in Porto Alegre, we have a battle between two underachievers as Grêmio host Atlético-MG. Both of these sides are traditionally big clubs in Brasil, but at this stage of the championship they both find themselves hovering precociously above the relegation zone. Without a win in their last three games, Grêmio go in to this one absolutely desperate for points. Manager Julinho Camargo has only been in charge for a month and already he is under pressure. Grêmio will more than likely be without forward André Lima, who is suffering from a muscle strain, young Leandro should replace him.

Atlético have actually been making some progress over the past few weeks under new coach Dorival Junior, but they have been hurt by some very unfortunate defeats, particularly Saturday's 3x2 loss to Palmeiras. O Galo have Dudu Cearense and Toró back from suspensions, and it is expected that ex-Santos and Dynamo Kiev striker André will get his first start for the club alongside Magno Alves. This is certainly going to be a close match, with goals from both sides expected. It is very hard to pick a winner here, but if I was a betting man my money would be on a score draw.

Figueirense x Botafogo (Wednesday 3rd - 19h30 Orlando Scarpelli)

Despite a fabulous start to the season, newly promoted Figueirense appear to be in freefall. Figueira are without a win in their last six league games and are dropping down the league table at an alarming rate. On Wednesday night they host Botafogo, who appear to be on the opposite trajectory after winning their last two games.

Botafogo should field the same side that defeated Cruzeiro at the weekend, the only change being Fábio Ferreira returning to the centre of defence. Talismanic Uruguayan striker Sebastián 'Loco' Abreu leads the line alongside Argentine Germán Herrera, and they will both be looking for goals against a fragile Figueirense side.

Ceará x Avaí (Wednesday 3rd - 19h30 Presidente Vargas)

In the last of the early evening games on Wednesday, Ceará host southerners Avaí in a match which sees both teams looking to get their respective campaigns back on track. Ceará started superbly this year, having a great run in the Copa do Brasil and achieving some excellent results in the first few rounds of the Brasileirão. Recently, things have gotten considerably tougher for the Vozão, underlined by their heavy 4x0 defeat at the hands of Fluminense on Sunday.

Avaí have been in trouble ever since the season started. A terrible defence and less than impressive attack sees them firmly in the relegation zone, but they have started to get things together with their only two wins of the season coming in the last two weeks. However on Wednesday night they will have an extra obstacle to overcome, as the climates in the north and south of Brasil differ greatly, especially at this time of year. Today in Avaí's home town Florianópolis, the temperature reached a maximum of 16 degrees celsius, while in Fortaleza, where Wednesday's game will be played, the temperature reached 28 degrees celsius. This is often very taxing on players from the south, and it gives Ceará a clear advantage on Wednesday night.

Vasco x Santos (Wednesday 3rd - 21h50 São Januário)

Going on to Wednesday's late games, Vasco face Santos in what is a truly mouthwatering tie for the neutral supporter. Vasco are in superb form of late and are unbeaten in their last five matches, whilst Santos come in to this game off the back of two consecutive defeats.

The home side will be without a few important players, star man Juninho Pernambucano will miss out through injury, and left-backs Julinho and Márcio Careca are both suspended. Jumar should continue to deputise at left-back, and Eduardo Costa will come in to replace Juninho. Santos have no new selection worries and should play the same side that lost to Atlético Paranaense on Sunday, which means starts for Neymar and Ganso.

Oddly enough, both of these sides are already guaranteed a place in the 2012 Copa Libertadores - Vasco through winning the Copa do Brasil and Santos as reigning Libertadores champions - and in Brasil this sometimes leads to complacency throughout the remainder of the league season. No such complacency should be expected in this match however, and we should see plenty of action and excitement.

Without wanting to overload you with information, that will be all for today. I'll be back tomorrow with the second part of the Round 14 review, covering the rest of Wednesday's games and the three ties on Thursday.