Friday, 20 December 2013

An Atlantic League

With the Top 5 or 6 European Leagues (England, Spain, Germany, Italy, France and Portugal) pulling away from the rest the question poses  for the medium sized leagues to merge into an North Sea or Atlantic League?

The main reason to do this would be to challenge the big 5/6 in Europe as the Television deals in those countries are massive i.e. Barclays Premier League - £5.74 billion over 3 years. The biggest current deal of the leagues that could be involved is the Eredivisie - €1 billion over 12 years.

There is a precedent as in Rugby Union the Scottish, Irish and Welsh leagues (eventually joined by Italy) merged into the Celtic League to rival the Aviva Premiership (England) and Top 14 (France). This worked as all three leagues are about even in Heineken Cup wins.

From what countries would the teams have to be in to get in this so called "Atlantic League"?


Ideally it would be made of a contingent of Dutch, Belgian, Scottish, Danish, Swedish and Norweigian clubs. There would not be one league, there would have to be a Premiership and a Championship of about 18 clubs in each.

For example, the Netherlands would have 8 teams (5 in Prem), Denmark would have 7 (3 in Prem), Belgium would have 6 (4 in Prem), Scotland would 6 (3 in Prem), Sweden would have 6 (2 in Prem) and Norway would have 3 (1 in Prem).

What is the allocation of teams based on?


This is an educated guess but this is mainly based on current UEFA coefficients and also on history of these countries in European competition:

Current UEFA coefficients:
89Green-Up-Arrow.svg +1Netherlands Netherlands (LC)9.41611.16613.6004.2144.75043.146
1011Green-Up-Arrow.svg +1Belgium Belgium (LC)8.7004.60010.1006.5006.20036.100
1915RedDownArrow.svg −4Denmark Denmark (LC)4.4006.7003.1003.3003.60021.100
2324Green-Up-Arrow.svg +1Scotland Scotland (LC)2.6663.6002.7504.3003.25016.566
2423RedDownArrow.svg −1Sweden Sweden (LC)2.5002.6002.9005.1253.20016.325
2627Green-Up-Arrow.svg +1Norway Norway (LC)2.1002.3752.3004.9002.60014.275

If the qualifying was now what would the leagues look like?

Premiership:

  1. Ajax  Netherlands (4 times European Cup Winners)
  2. Feynoord Netherlands (European Cup Winners)
  3. PSV Netherlands (European Cup Winners)
  4. Twente Netherlands 
  5. Vitesse Netherlands
  6. FC Copenhagen Denmark
  7. Nordjaelland Denmark
  8. Midtjylland Denmark
  9. Standard Liege Belgium
  10. Anderlecht Belgium
  11. Club Brugge Belgium
  12. Lokeren Belgium
  13. Celtic Scotland (European Cup winners)
  14. Dundee Utd Scotland (European Cup SF, UEFA Cup finalists)
  15. Motherwell Scotland
  16. Molde Norway
  17. Malmo Sweden
  18. Elfsborg Sweden

Championship:

AZ Alkmaar Netherlands
Heerenveen Netherlands
Gronignen Netherlands
Randers Denmark
Bronby Denmark
Odense Denmark
AaB Denmark
Genk Belgium
Club Brugge Belgium
Hibernian Scotland
Aberdeen Scotland
Inverness Scotland
AIK Sweden
IFK Gothenburg Sweden
Helsingborgs Sweden
Kalmar Sweden
Rosenberg Norway
Stormsgodset Norway

Can this really happen?

In an ideal world, yes. However if either the Dutch, Belgian, Danish or Scottish leagues pulled out it would have a major impact in this going ahead. Several Chairmen have muted the possibility like Harry van Rajj of PSV. The likelyhood is that the national Assocations will never agree to this or UEFA/FIFA will block this, which is a shame as it gives a chance for a small team like Motherwell to compete against Europe's elite.

Games of the Week - 14-15th December

This weeks games of the week are:

  1. Manchester City vs Arsenal (Barclays Premier League)
  2. Kilmarnock vs Dundee United (Scottish Premiership)

Manchester City 6-3 Arsenal

Ethiad Stadium

Inform Aguero opened the scoring after 14 minutes as he volleyed past Szcensny. Arsenal equalised as Ozil's cut back found Theo Walcott after 31 minutes whose shot was deflected in of Demichelis' head to make it 1-1. Seven minutes later, City retook the lead as Alvaro Negredo taps in Zabletta's low cross. At the start of the second half, Fernandinho curled the ball into the top corner to give him his first goal for the club. After the hour mark some great play from Ozil and Ramsay gave Walcott his second and reduced the deficit to one. City put their lead back to two after 66 minutes as Navas' cross found the unmarked Silva who headed in. Two minutes from time Fernadinho scored his second as he and Nasri caught out the pressing Arsenal defence in a counter attack Nasri's cutback to the Brazilian led to him beating Mertesacker and poking the ball over the Polish goalkeeper. After 94 minutes, Arsenal got their third as Sagna's corner found Mertesacker who headed in from close range. More Drama as James Milner was fouled in the box and Toure converting the penalty to be the last kick of the ball in a true classic in Manchester.

Kilmarnock 1-4 Dundee United

Rugby Park, Att 3452

The first chance in the match was Ryan Gauld's free kick which was saved by Samson at the near post. 18 minutes in, Gabriel Rubin was booked for a rash challenge on Stuart Armstrong, 5 minutes later he was at it again; this time he cynically tripped Armstrong and Rubin was booked again and subsequently sent off. The Tannidice side did not make their numerical advantage count until the hour mark when some great passing play from Armstrong and Robertson was finished off by Keith Watson from 6 yards. Dundee United made it 2 as Stuart Armstrong's run strolled past the Killie defence and past Cammy Bell for a great individual piece of skill after 73 minutes. Stuart Armstrong was involved again as his shot just inside the box was stopped but gave Ryan Gauld an easy tap in. Kris Boyd got one back as he headed the oncoming cross in past Cierzniak in the 89th minute. However United had the final say as after 94 minutes David Goodwillie scored his second league goal in his second spell at Tannadice as he fooled the defence to slot home from 14 yards out.

MotM: Stuart Armstrong

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Scottish Cup Round 4 Round-Up and Round 5 Draw

One year ago I started this blog with a preview of the Scottish Cup 4th Round, this year I am doing a review instead, so that means no "games of the week" this week; instead highlights from all 16 ties in the Scottish Cup:

Friday 29th November

  1. Dundee United vs Kilmarnock (19:45)
Saturday 30th November
  1. Falkirk vs Rangers (12:15 - SKY)
  2. Albion Rovers vs Motherwell
  3. Alloa Athletic vs Stirling Albion
  4. Ayr United vs Dunfermline
  5. Berwick vs Dumbarton
  6. Brechin vs Forfar
  7. Clyde vs Stranraer
  8. Dundee vs Raith
  9. Inverness CT vs Greenock Morton
  10. Queen of the South vs St Mirren
  11. Ross County vs Hibernian
  12. St Johnstone vs Livingston
  13. Stenhousemuir vs Fraserburgh
Sunday 1st December
  1. Partick Thistle vs Aberdeen (12:45 - SKY)
  2. Hearts vs Celtic (15:00 - BBC)

Dundee United 5-2 Kilmarnock

Tannadice Park, Attendance 6979 (looked like 8500)



After early pressure from both teams, Dundee United in the Friday night match  took the lead after 26 minutes when Andrew Robertson fired it into the net from 12 yards. Kilmarnock came out firing in the second half as a mistake from Cierzniak let Darren Barr in with a lucky shot to give Killie an equaliser. Two minutes later, a fantastic shot from Chris Johnston beat Rado Cierzniak into the top corner. Dundee United came back fighting as Nadir Ciftci's cross found Stuart Armstrong to give United an equaliser after 63 minutes. Dundee United took the lead 12 minutes later when Andrew Robertson's shot from outside the box bounced past Craig Samson. Ryan Gauld won Dundee United a penalty 8 minutes later when he was fouled by Gabriel inside the box. Brian Graham stepped up and scored. Dundee United sealed their place in Monday's draw when Ryan Gauld charged down a pass back that was cleared to Gary Mackay-Steven who scored into an open goal from 25 yards.

MoTM: Andrew Robertson

Falkirk 0-2 The Rangers

The Falkirk Stadium, Attendance 6228

The first real chance in the game came after 33 minutes when Lee Wallace was through on goal with a one-on-one with Micheal McGovern, the shot which was easily saved by the Falkirk No. 1. After 57 minutes, a dive by Nicky Clark in the box resulted in The Rangers being awarded a penalty and David McCracken a red card. Justice was done as Lee McCulloch's penalty was saved by Micheal McGovern and a shot from the rebound went in but McCulloch was offside. After 67 minutes, The Rangers subsitute Fraser Aird's shot hit the bar from 12 yards out. Three minutes later, after a mistake by Cammy Bell the home side came close to taking the lead but their attack was eventually foiled by the referee.  Nicky Law gave the Rangers the lead after 88 minutes. David Templeton sealed the victory for the minnows two minutes in injury time.

MoTM: Micheal McGovern

Albion Rovers 1-0 Motherwell

New Douglus Park, Attendance 2950



This Lanarkshire derby had to be moved from Cliftonhill to Hamilton which is actually closer to Motherwell than Coatbridge due to a fire at the ground. Motherwell had the best of the chances in the first half with Rob McHugh coming right on half time from a Hammell free-kick. The game was a lot more even in the second half and Albion Goalkeeper Parry stoppped any chance from Motherwell. The tie looked like it was going to a replay  at Fir Park but in the 90th minute Gary Phillips' left foot shot beat Gunnar Nielsen to give Albion their first ever win against Motherwell, as the side third bottom of the Scottish Professional Football League have beat the side third top of it.

MoTM: Neil Parry

Alloa Athletic 3-2 Stirling Albion

Recreation Park, Attendance 1278



Stirling Albion opened the scoring after 10 minutes when Kieren McAnespie's free kick was put in by a glancing header from Jordan White. Albion were reduced to 10 men late in the first half as 18 year-old Alex Cunningham kicked out at Alloa defender Micheal Doyle. Alloa equalised after 51 minutes when they were awarded a penalty as McAnespie brought down John Tiffony inside the box, Ryan McCord scored the penalty. On the hour mark, Paul Hartley's men took the lead as Tiffony's cross was headed in by Graham Holmes. Jason Marr sealed the win in stoppage time as he scored from close range. Albion got one back in this Central derby as Graham Weir scored a stunner from 25 yards but it was too little, too late for Stirling.

MoTM: Jonathan Tiffony

Ayr United 1-1 Dunfermline

Somerset Park, Attendance 1391



Ayr dominated much of the first half but Dunfermline took the lead as Andy Geggan finished off Millen's cross. Ayr United got a goal which gave them a deserved replay just before the hour mark as Micheal Donald finished from ex-Hearts and The Rangers striker Kevin Kyle.

MoTM: Micheal Donald

Berwick 1-3 Dumbarton

Shielfield Park, Attendance 406


The League Two side took the lead after 8 minutes when Lee Currie scored a wonder free kick from 25 yards. Dumbarton equalised after half an hour when a handball from Stephen Tulloch inside the box gave Bryan Puntry the opportunity to give the team from the Rock an equaliser and he did. Two minutes from half time Dumbarton took the lead when Puntry's through ball to Mitch Megginson whose shot went into the bottom left corner beating Bald. Dumbarton sealed a place in the hat 10 minutes after half time when Scott Linton's shot beat the Berwick goal keeper.

Brechin City 1-1 Forfar Athletic

Glebe Park, Attendance 724



Nothing beats an Angus derby and temperatures where rising since the off as Stuart Malcom (Forfar) was sent off for pushing Derek Carcary off the ball after 8 minutes. Brechin's Ewan Moyes was the next to be sent-off, he halved Chris Templeman just outside the box and denied a goal scoring opportunity. Fifty-three minutes in Carcary's cross was turned in by Alex Trouten. However Forfar forced a replay at Station Park as Martyn Fotheringham's late free-kick was deflected in, in stoppage time. Mark Baxter was sent-off for his second yellow after 95 minutes.

Clyde 1-1 Stranraer

Broadwood Stadium, Attendance 



The League Two leaders Clyde got an excellent start to this game as after only a quarter of a hour Keiran McDonald's well placed header beat the struggling David Mitchell to the back of the net. One minute before half time Jaime Longworth caught the Clyde defence on the break and earned a reply next Tuesday at Stair Park. Stranraer captain Frank McKeown worked through the night (Friday) as a fire fighter at the scene of the tragic helicopter crash at the Clutha pub in central Glasgow.

MoTM: 

Dundee 0-1 Raith

Dens Park, Attendance 3184



The Funniest goal in Scottish Cup fourth round was scored in a fairly uneventful game at Dens as it was scored after only 8 minutes when Jason Thompson's run was halted on the end of the box Gary Irvine's pass back to the goalkeeper was ignored and bobbled in the goal to provide the men from Kirkcaldy the winner at Dens.

Inverness CT 4-0 Greenock Morton

Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, Attendance



After 44 minutes Inverness were awarded a penalty as Craig Reid fouled Ross Draper inside the box. Nick Ross gave the highlanders an advantage going into half time. Half Time was 40 minutes long as a sub-station failure plunged Inverness into darkness. Billy McKay killed off any chance of a famous cup-shock after 71 minutes when Carl Tremarco's cross was headed in by the Northern-Irishman. McKay scored his second when Aaron Doran's pass gave the SPL's top scorer (last season) a one on one with the Morton Goalkeeper. Late in stoppage time Inverness made it 4-0 when Scott Taggart was sent-off for fouling Agdestein in the box which Doran scored.

MoTM: Billy McKay

Queen of the South 2-2 St Mirren

Palmerston, Attendance 2176



St Mirren took the lead after nine minutes when Conor Newton's shot went in from the edge of the box. Queens then equalised, ten minutes from half-time, when Ian McShane's free kick went to Iain Russell whose left foot shot went in from ten yards. Saints took the lead again, this time six minutes after half time when Sean Kelly's cross found the waiting Steven Thompson inside the box who beat Zander Clark to the far corner. The men from Dumfries weren't leaving empty handed as, 18 minutes from time a cross headed by Paul Burns to Micheal Paton found the back of the net from 8 yards out. Queens held on to the onslaught by Saints to earn themselves a replay at St Mirren Park.

MoTM: Steven Thompson

Ross County 0-1 Hibernian

Victoria Park, Attendance 2213



Hibs started the game the stronger of the won with only 20 minutes on the clock Hibs had their first chance, as Liam Craig's corner eventually found Paul Cairney whose resulting shot was mishit and almost cleared the small stand behind the goal. Hibs took the lead eleven minutes later, as Liam Craig's pass found Danny Handling inside the box who took a shot and beat Mark Brown from 15 yards out. It looked like Hibs were going to keep their advantage but Ross County were helped after 71 minutes when Cairney's storming run past the  County defence was stopped when it looked like he stumbled and fell over the goalkeeper. The referee subsequently booked him for diving and since it was his second yellow he was off. Late in the game, Terry Butcher took off substitute Ross Caldwell, Caldwell walked straight into the tunnel as he walked past and ignored the Hibs boss.

MoTM: Liam Craig

St Johnstone 2-0 Livingston

McDairmid Park, Attendance 2294



The Saints have been playing some good football this season,and they made sure the did not slip up on a potential banana skin that came from Livi they took the lead after 24 minutes as Steve May scored an effort from 25 yards out as the pass came from McDonald. After 64 minutes, May's corner missed the keeper an found the feet of Sanel Janic who tapped the ball in and secured Saint Johnstone's place in the last 16.

MoTM: Steve May

Stenhousemuir 3-0 Fraserburgh

Ochillview, Attendance 487



The only non-league team left in the Scottish Cup was Fraserburgh of the Highland League, they faced a tough task away to League 1 Stenhousemuir. After 63 minutes, the Broch failed to clear a cross which led Ross McNeil giving the home side the lead. Two minutes from the end Fraserburgh's hopes were extinguished as McNeil's shot from the outside of the box slipped out of the hands of the Broch's goal keeper and went into the net. In stoppage time salt was added to the wound as Bryan Hodge's through ball was slotted home by Errol Douglas to make it 3-0. But the Highlanders can go back up North with their heads held high.

MoTM:  

Partick 0-1 Aberdeen

Firhill Stadium, Attendance 3642

Four minutes in  and Andrew Considine headed in after leaving his marker (Craigen)  from a Barry Robson corner. Ten minutes later a Peter Pawlett shot from long range was saved by Scotland international Scott Fox. Aberdeen should have been 2 or 3 up at half time. 49 minutes in, a Barry Robson corner was spilled by Scott Fox but he was able to recover the ball. Partick had a chance on the hour mark when Sinclair's cross found the head of Doolan who headed just wide. Aberdeen were able to see out the game and sealed their place in the fifth round.

MoTM: Peter Pawlett

Heart of Midlothian 0-7 Celtic

Tyncastle Stadium, Attendance 10,636



It only took Celtic three minutes to get the breakthrough with a left foot shot from Kris Commons. 12 minutes in Lustig's shot was blocked by Hammell and the follow up well over the bar. 18 minutes in and Hammell's shot from 25 yards was just wide of the post. A quick free kick from Lustig let Commons through and gave Celtic a 2-0 lead 20 minutes in. Just after the half hour mark, after Stokes hit the post Brown followed up and scored Celtic's third. Celtic made it 4 after 42 minutes as a cross in front of goal gave Joe Ledley a tap in. One minute later, Mikael Lustig made it 5 from 25 yards out beating McDonald in an identical shot to James McFadden's goal against France. At half time it was Hearts 0-5 Celtic. On the hour mark a penalty was awarded as Danny Wilson appeared to handle the ball in the box and Commons converted to make it 6-0. After 74 minutes, Brown's half-volley  from 18 yards took a deflection and beat McDonald to make it the "magnificent seven". 

MoTM:  Kris Commons

Fifth Round Draw

  1. Alloa Athletic (SC) vs Dumabrton (SC)
  2. Clyde (SL2) or Stranraer (SL1) vs Inverness Caledonian Thsitle (SP)
  3. Hibernian (SP) vs Raith Rovers (SC)
  4. Albion Rovers (SL2) vs Stenhousemuir (SL1)
  5. Brechin City (SL1) or Forfar Athletic (SL1) vs St Johnstone (SP)
  6. Celtic (SP) vs Aberdeen (SP)
  7. Dundee United (SP) vs St Mirren (SP) or Queen of the South (SC)
  8. The Rangers (SL1) vs Dunfermline Athletic (SL1)
Ties to be played weekend 8/9 February.