World Cup 2014 | Round of 16 Preview, Schedule & Predictions

Before the World Cup Group Stages, I predicted that Holland would top Group B, but didn’t see Chile coming. I saw Colombia qualifying for the Round of 16, but Cote d’Ivoire let me down.

Overall, I correctly predicted seven of the eight group winners. Only England let me down – that’ll teach me to be optimistic.

So, with a day off from the World Cup survived, just, I thought I’d look ahead to the World Cup Round of 16 (or Knock Out Round if you prefer). Here we go…

World Cup Round of 16 Preview Brazil v Chile

Brazil v Chile
Saturday 28 June, 5pm (UK)

Hosts Brazil have been pretty underwhelming thus far. In my mind, that’s down to Scolari’s continuing faith in Fred up front. Dani Alves and Marcelo need to get forward more, and Fred needs to be replaced by a free-roaming Neymar up front. I fact, I get quite annoyed about the whole thing here.

Chile have impressed most people so far, and will run Brazil close. Brazil don’t defend convincingly, despite the experience and value of their back four. The home crowd should help the hosts over the line, though.

Prediction: Brazil 3 – 2 Chile

World Cup Round of 16 Preview Colombia v Uruguay

Colombia v Uruguay
Saturday 28 June, 9pm

Colombia are another South American team playing above their reputation so far. James (‘HA-mes’?) Rodriguez is arguably player of the tournament so far, and they have pace and aggression across the pitch.

Frankly, I hope Uruguay get absolutely battered. Their continuing denial of any wrongdoing by Luis Suarez is sickening – the manager, the players, even politicians; no one has admitted he is a disgrace who deserved a length ban. I am sick of Uruguay and I’m glad Luis Suarez won’t even enter a stadium for four months.

Prediction: Colombia 4 – 0 Uruguay

World Cup Round of 16 Preview Netherlands v Mexico

Holland v Mexico
Sunday 29 June, 5pm

Holland (no, not Netherlands) are a potent force and in Arjen Robben they have one of the world’s best players (and certainly the world’s best baldy). Also, Ron Vlaar is a marvellous man and deserves success after what Paul Lambert has put him through.

Mexico will get right up in the faces of Holland, but I don’t see them having enough to get through this one.

Prediction: Holland 3 – 1 Mexico

World Cup Round of 16 Preview Costa Rica v Greece

Costa Rica v Greece
Sunday 29 June, 9pm

On paper, possibly one of the grottiest Round of 16 games I can remember. Costa Rica were utterly hopeless against an equally-abysmal England team last time out, but knew they were through already. They are the only hope of entertainment in this game.

Perennial ‘just enough to get through’ experts Greece somehow clawed their way through at the expense of under-achieving Ivory Coast. I loathe the Greeks; especially rubbish Jesus-a-like Samaras. The oddness of Dimitris Salpingidis’s face upsets me, too.

Prediction: Costa Rica 1 – 0 Greece

World Cup Round of 16 Preview France v Nigeria

France v Nigeria
Monday 30 June, 5pm

France have played well so far, and Karim Benzema should have had about 374 goals by now (apparently trying to ruin my ‘Argentina champions/Benzema top scorer’ bet @ 175-1).

But there will be an upset somewhere in the knock out rounds of this World Cup, and I think this might be it. Nigeria break quickly and Musa’s pace is always a threat. I expect France to dominate possession, but fancy Nigeria to shock people with a counter attacking win.

Prediction: France 1 – 2 Nigeria

World Cup Round of 16 Preview Germany v Algeria

Germany v Algeria
Monday 30 June, 9pm

Unlike the France game, I don’t expect a shock here. Germany are utterly ruthless and won’t let any complacency slip in against an inferior Algeria side. Thomas Mueller scores goals for fun, and they have the richest squad in terms of depth of proven quality.

Algeria did well to qualify and can be a threat, but won’t get many chances against the Germans, who will likely bring Klose on to become the all-time top goal scorer ahead of Fat Ronaldo, followed by a customary crap somersault.

Prediction: Germany 2 – 0 Algeria

World Cup Round of 16 Preview Argentina v Switzerland

Argentina v Switzerland
Tuesday 1 July, 5pm

Ah Argentina, my predicted winners in my work league. Come on you beauties. With Messi finding form and, worryingly for the rest, Aguero not having even showed up yet, Argentina have the best attack in the tournament. Di Maria had a great season, helping Madrid to La Decima and rivalling Suarez for ‘Rat of the Year’.

Switzerland are a solid team and with stand-out winger Xherdan Shaqiri fishing for a transfer away from Bayern Munich, they do offer a threat; just not enough.

Prediction: Argentina 3 – 1 Switzerland

World Cup Round of 16 Preview Belgium v USA

Belgium v USA
Tuesday 1 July, 9pm

The final game is also where I see the 2nd upset happening. Belgium have all the right attributes on paper, but don’t quite seem ready at this level. Romelu Lukaku’s poor form shows how much they miss Christian Benteke, although Divock Origi is leading the way for this World Cup’s El Hadji Diouf Award for being discovered (by Liverpool) after having a few good games.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s USA side are well drilled, hard-working and disciplined. Clint Dempsey provides moments of magic, although they lack the quality to really make an impact at this tournament. Still, I think they can nab a win against the Belgians.

Prediction: Belgium 0 – 1 USA

So, there we go – more predictions that no one will read and will probably never come to fruition. I’m going to study the accumulator odds for picking the winners as per the above, so here’s how the World Cup Quarter Finals will line up as I see it:

Brazil v Colombia
Holland v Costa Rica
Nigeria v Germany
Argentina v USA

What do you think?
Head to the place where everyone’s got an opinion and tell me what a twat I am for choosing Nigeria ahead of France: @soccersagacity

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World Cup Analysis | Scolari needs to drop Fred to win World Cup

Much was expected of Brazil, but so far they are struggling to find their best form. Indeed, before an uninspiring 0-0 with Mexico, Brazil needed help from the referee to make it past Croatia.

Clearly, the start hasn’t been good enough. But what should Scolari do?

End Fred’s misery to save the tournament

The lethargic forward stands out like a sore thumb in the Brazil team. This is not a striker who is going to lead the country to World Cup glory. He lacks work rate, flair and about 20 other attributes. He does, however, go down easy and convince gullible officials into giving penalties.

Fred doesn’t contribute enough to this team. He completed just 8 of 16 attempted passes v Mexico. Against Croatia, he had no shots, no assists, and didn’t even register an ‘attacking run’ in Croatia’s defensive third. He is, frankly, pretty useless.

Fred Brazil Mexico world cup group stages

Fred: goes down easy is his main ‘attribute’

Who should replace Fred?

Equally useless striker Jo is not the answer, despite what Big Phil might think.

Hulk is one of the more talented and physical attacking options, but he lacks the guile and composure to play as the central striker in this team – his role is as an attacking battering ram to be brought on.

Instead, Scolari should move Neymar into the middle and deploy him in a similar way to Thomas Mueller of Germany, albeit with more creative license to run at defenders. This frees up another attacking midfield/deep lying forward position which could be filled by Willian, Bernard or Hulk.

Will that fix all of Brazil’s problems?

Unlikely. In midfield, Paulinho and Luis Gustavo have hardly set the world alight. If fit, Fernandinho should be brought in to control the central midfield area and free up Paulinho to play further forward. Ramires of Chelsea too could play a bigger part, with the energy to get up and down all game long. Ramires is also comfortable contributing to attacking phases, and can overlap Oscar and Willian neatly after a season together in London.

Who should start against Cameroon?

The match against Cameroon is a chance for Scolari to make a statement ahead of the knock out rounds. Here’s the team he should consider:

Brazil line up world cup v Cameroon group stages

How Brazil could line up against Cameroon

4-3-3 becomes 5-4-1 whilst defending

When not in possession, this formation allows Brazil to morph into a 5-4-1 with Fernandinho supporting the centre backs. Paulinho, Ramires, Willian and Oscar have the work rate to play as a defensive midfield four, leaving Neymar to apply additional pressure and be ready to spring a counter attack.

World cup Brazil possible formation against Cameroon Mexico Croatia group A

When not in possession, the 4-3-3 becomes 5-4-1

4-3-3 becomes 3-4-3 when in possession

This is where it gets fun.

In possession, Thiago Silva and David Luiz spread wide and accommodate a deep-lying Fernandinho. The Man City midfielder and Luiz can interchange as one or the other carries the ball forward, if space permits, creating a 2-5-3 formation temporarily.

The width of Marcelo and Alves allows Willian and Oscar to tuck inside, swapping positions and running diagonally behind the centre backs. Neymar floats in a free role, seeking possession and one-twos. Paulinho and Ramires hold the central area, breaking wide to support the full backs if necessary, or running beyond Neymar if he drops deep.

Brazil formation world cup team group stages attack Scolari Fred

The fluid 4-3-3 becomes a 3-4-3 when on the attack

Fluidity is the key

This formation makes Brazil much more fluid; without cumbersome target man Fred they are free to interchange positions, with all attacking players comfortable in possession.

For more physical opponents, Hulk can be introduced in place of Willian. To combat stubborn defenses, Oscar can replace Paulinho in centre midfield, freeing up an attacking berth for Hulk or Bernard.

Only time will tell if Scolari is brave enough to drop the failing Fred. The Brazilian fans need to see changes made if this side are to bring the true Brazilian style back in time to win their home World Cup.

Don’t agree? Love Fred? Tell me your Brazil starting XI in the comments below or on Twitter @soccersagacity

World Cup Predictions: Group Stages

Everyone loves to have a go at predicting the group stages of the World Cup. I’m no different. Here’s my soon-to-be-proved-wrong attempt at predicting the final group stage standings.

Group A

World Cup Group A Brazil Croatia Mexico Cameroon prediction

Unsurprisingly, Neymar and chums romp through Group A with little difficulty. An opening day win against Croatia sets the tone. Mexico struggle against the technique and ball retention of the Croats, and Cameroon might as well have not qualified. Fred scores lots of goals despite not being that good.

Group B

World Cup Group B Netherlands Spain Chile Australia Holland Brazil prediction

In Group B, Holland (as I prefer to call them) topple Spain in the replay of the 2010 World Cup Final and don’t look back. Spain beat Chile and the Aussies. Chile depend heavily on Alexis Sanchez, Australia do very little at all.

Group C

World Cup Group C Colombia Ivory Coast Japan Greece Cote d'Ivoire Prediction

Falcao-less Colombia win the group over the Ivory Coast on goals scored (how exciting!). Yaya Toure looks pretty tired but is still incredible. The Japanese struggle against the top two but beat hopeless Greece, who can only dream of repeating their Euro heroics of 2004 and don’t even score a single goal. Rubbish.

Group D

World Cup Group D England Uruguay Italy Costa Rica brazil predictions

“Youthful, Exciting England can win the World Cup” cry the tabloids as we beat Italy in Manaus. The awful pitch stifles Pirlo’s passing game, and England break with pace and energy before retreating to soak up the pressure. A draw with rat-faced racist and co. follows, before an easy win in the final game seals progression. Uruguay squeeze through the group at Italy’s expense, and Balotelli throws a tantrum. Some other team loses all three games and fails to score.

Group E

World Cup Group E France Ecuador Switzerland Honduras brazil predictions

France recover from the shambles of South Africa four years ago to top the group with maximum points. Samir Nasri and her lesbian life partner are bitter. Ecuador qualify ahead of a youthful Swiss side by exploiting their pace on the wings, with Montero catching the eye and Antonio Valencia blasting many ‘cross-shots’ between defenders and goalkeepers. Honduras get a point from Switzerland, with a goal likely scored by someone named ‘Palacios’.

Group F

World Cup Group F Argentina Nigeria Bosnia Iran brazil predictions

Argentina win the group without dropping points because they have Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi. In an otherwise scrappy and low-scoring group, Nigeria come out ahead of Dzeko’s lads on goal difference. Iran score one goal somewhere and no one really cares.

Group H

World Cup Group G Belgium Russia South Korea Algeria brazil predictions

Not-so-dark horses Belgie/Belgique play lots of nice football, with smiley Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard having plenty of fun. Putin’s XI qualify, more due to the lack of quality from South Korea and Algeria than anything else.

Group G

World Cup Group G Germany Portugal USA Ghana brazil predictions

A GROUP OF DEATH!!! HUZZAH!!! Oh wait, no…no shocks here. The Germans are predictably ruthless and dispose of all in their path, despite the press recently (and prematurely) declaring the death of German football after an all-Spanish Champions League final. Ronaldo comes second in the group after lots of gesturing and hair-wetting, whilst USA and Ghana battle it out for 3rd. Michael Essien laughs continuously on the bench.

So there you have it, that’s how the World Cup group stages will/may/probably won’t play out.

To have a go yourself, try the Telegraph’s Predictor Game.

Don’t agree? Tell me what you think on Twitter @soccersagacity

 

My Panini World Cup Card Obsession

I tear the foil open nervously, looking around to see if anyone has seen me. Wasting no time, I turn the first card around. Get lost, Gokhan Inler – I’ve got you already. Turn another. And another. Got. Got. Yes, Edinson Cavani…you greasy bastard, I need you! More follow…got, got. Then the final card – and I can feel it’s a shiny. Anxiously, I flip it over…it’s a shiny…Neymar! Yes!! That’s a nice shiny. Right, I need another pack…

Collecting World Cup cards (or stickers, if you prefer) is not a hobby. Well, it is in the beginning. Then it’s a compulsion, a need, an addiction. It will all be worth it, I tell myself, when I turn on Iran v Bosnia-Herzegovina and recognise the players.

panini world cup brazil 2014 stickers cards album

Where it all began…

It’s not easy, though. You have to overcome the social stigma – people who don’t like football (to the point of obsession) don’t get it, so you’ve got to be tactical about where you get your hits, and when. I feel like a crack head as I cautiously open the packs in public, my back turned to passers-by to avoid embarrassment.

The first step is buying your packs – ideally, you find a stockist who has the packs out on display. Self checkout, done – no embarrassment required.

panini world cup brazil 2014 stickers cards album shop tesco

POS displays allow embarrassment to be minimised

It’s not always possible though and needs must. I scuttle up to the cashier and ask for the World Cup cards. “These?” they reply, inevitably pointing to the stickers. “No, the cards, to the left” I reply. The cashier reaches past the Ben10 cards and finally grabs the correct pack.

Payment made, I get out as fast as possible, hoping they think you’re buying them for a younger sibling. Sometimes, though, you get a wry smile and a knowing nod from the lad behind the till. He knows.

panini world cup brazil 2014 stickers cards album balotelli

Game Changers – moments worth waiting for

So you’ve bust open a few packs, and it’s time to sort them. If, like me, you’re a card fan, then the satisfaction is carefully sliding the cards into their place in the folder. If you prefer the traditional stickers, it’s the precise placing of each sticker in the album. Either way, there’s nothing like lining up that final Ecuadorian thug that you’ve been waiting for.

The early elation of need after need soon starts to fade as the swaps start to become more and more common. Got, got, got, got, got, need, got, got, got. The bad packs can ruin a good day. But this misery brings with it the glory of ‘swapsies’.

panini world cup brazil 2014 stickers cards album, danny welbeck england

The sickeningly common Danny Welbeck card

As a guy in his mid-twenties, swaps are harder to come by. There is no school yard to swap in anymore, so you have to adapt. Fortunately, technology facilitates where working life hinders.

My phone vibrates and it’s a Snapchat from a mate some 70 miles away – he’s just opened a shiny Messi. Son of a bitch. But my lunchtime hit has unveiled a Germany team logo – lovely. The phone vibrates again, and this time it’s a WhatsApp message. In the group titled ‘World Cup’ – with a picture of Phil Jagielka’s all-too-common mug as the group image – half a dozen equally desperate swappers are exchanging cards. Sadly, no one seems to want my Danny Welbecks or ten-a-penny Tranquillo Barnetta ‘Expert’ shinys.

panini world cup brazil 2014 stickers cards album swaps swapsies

Swaps are displayed and the bidding begins

But now, the pace has slowed. Swaps are piling up, and ‘needs’ are harder to come by. Even one need in a pack of ten feels like a victory. The ellusive cards that Panini no doubt holds back are nowhere to be seen, and without a playground full of swappers, the completion seems unlikely.

At this point, Panini have me by the balls. I’ve invested so much time and dignity in this, there’s no turning back. Not to mental the financial hit I’ve taken.

panini world cup brazil 2014 stickers cards album

“I can quit whenever I want”, I tell myself

Equally, though, I’m a realist – I have a chance at completing the base teams, but the shinies? There are so many; Fans’ Favourites, Game Changers, Experts, Top Masters, and the seemingly unobtainable Double Troubles (two superstars on one card).  I can’t stop until I’ve at least found the Aguero/Messi Double Trouble. I feel like Charlie looking for Willy Wonka’s golden ticket.

The choices? Well, there’s cheating – you can always turn to Panini’s official website and order the cards you need for extortionate rates. Then there’s Ebay, full of people shipping off their wedges of swaps for equally outrageous prices. Or, the traditional method – plough through more packs in search of the elusive cards you crave so deeply.

My preference?

“Excuse me…no, not the stickers…”

panini world cup brazil 2014 stickers cards adrenalyn xl germany greece

Country badge = great day

panini world cup brazil 2014 stickers cards album

I never want to set eyes on Claudio Bravo ever again

panini world cup brazil 2014 stickers cards album

Gotta catch ‘em all! Wait, wrong game…

 

 

 

 

Aston Villa’s Season In Stats

It’s been a poor season for us Villa fans again, as we know, and the future is pretty uncertain too. Randy is selling up, not a moment too soon, and Lambert’s future is precarious at best.

Still, before we look forward, let’s take one last look back.

Here is Aston Villa’s season in stats:

aston villa season in statistics, randy lerner, aston villa for sale, paul lambert, AVFC

A grim season by anyone’s standards.

All is not lost, however. If we can avoid the club falling into the hands of a Tan or Shinawatra, we might have cause for optimism come the new season.

Up The Villa.

Stats and graphics courtesy of Opta

Revolution Blog Five: Toppling the League Leaders

Hosting the league leaders should be a daunting task, but having scored 15 goals in our previous three games, we were in confident mood, and it showed in our best performance of the season.

On Saturday morning, Broad Plain ‘A’ sat top of the Bristol and Avon Premier Division with 14 wins in 19 games, just three defeats, and having scored 80 goals in the process. Bristol Revolution, in our first season, started in lower-mid table with 6 wins from 15 games.

What’s more, we were missing several key first team players – centre back Stu was watching his beloved Southampton lose to Cardiff, and joint top-scorer Will was drinking his weight in cider on a coach to Dover. A one-sided affair, you might expect? It’s a funny old game blah blah.

For once, we were out early and warmed up thoroughly. Meanwhile, there was no sign of Broad Plain who, it turned out, had packed their red home kit which neatly matched ours, so were on the hunt for an alternative.

By the time they finally arrived – in a fetching yellow and green Norwich City number – we had found time to lump about a dozen balls over the hedge and into a neighbouring school’s field, and played a piggy-in-the-middle game in which none of us could pass or control the ball.

bristol avon football league revolution soccer

Krish prepares to unleash Yaya on the league leaders

Once they arrived and Ben had his obligatory last-minute piss, we kicked off and pressed high from the start, giving them no time to settle. Broad Plain looked disorganised and their lack of a warm up showed as we took advantage with two quick-fire goals.

Nilesh ‘Nani’ Mashru picked up possession and ran at their veteran centre backs before playing in ‘Big’ Joel DaCosta, who finished neatly. Moments later, Nani chased down a long ball and drilled a cross to Amar ‘Welbz’ Brown who met the cross with a poachers’ finish to make it 2-0.

Broad Plain hit back, though, when a free kick was headed in at the far post. 2-1.

Their approach early in the game epitomised the English style; lobbing high balls at our defence and looking to get on to the knock downs. This tactic probably would have had us on our arses earlier in the season, but big performances from centre backs Vish and Gareth meant they offered little from open play.

As the game tightened, Broad Plain won a corner. As one of the midgets of the team, I took up my usual place on the post, and (ironically) thought about how I’ve yet to be needed in this position for the Revs. That thought quickly faded from my mind when the corner was headed back across goal. With keeper Kalpit beaten, I managed to hook the ball off the line with a flick of my boot, just, despite protests that it had crossed the line. It hadn’t, and it was a key moment in the game.

Soon after, Gareth launched a free kick from the half way line into their box. The keeper hopelessly parried it onto the crossbar, and Big Joel (‘Yaya’) was quickest to react to the rebound; 3-1 at halftime.

The second half started and the aggressive match up in midfield continued. Our midfield duo of Joel and Serle (think Yaya Toure alongside a young Ronald Koeman) were getting hit hard by their midfield of ‘Big Fuck’ no.3 and ‘Little Fuck’ no.6. Ben, in his usual polite manner, repeatedly niggled at no.6 and then apologised profusely before being hit with a tirade of abuse. Yaya, in the meantime, was having a classic Sunday League style clash with their no.3.

yaya toure ronald koeman football midfield soccer

Koeman and Toure – forming a formidable partnership at the heart of the Revolution midfield

The Yaya-no.3 duel soon came to a head, when the two eyeballed each other after a few heated challenges. Typically relaxed, Yaya was having none of it despite some petty abuse from less intellectual opponents, whilst Broad Plain’s no.3 was getting more and more wound up. A sly swipe at Yaya’s legs off the ball resulted in the female ref issuing a yellow card, much to our delight.

Away from the handbags, we started to take control. I slipped a slightly-too-heavy through ball behind the defence, which Nani kept in play and coolly laid back for Serle to whip into the top corner from the edge of the box.

Meanwhile, Broad Plain’s no.3 was up to his old tricks and decided to swing an elbow at Vish’s throat. Everyone seemed to see it, except for the 4’3” lady-ref, who couldn’t punish an offence she hadn’t seen despite our protests. If Stu ‘fucking crunch the cunt’ Mason had been playing, I’m pretty sure there would have been some retribution dished out.

Fortunately, we kept our heads and soon their aging defence started to tire, leaving more and more space for Nani and Welbz to exploit. Ben placed a diagonal pass, which I got the slightest touch on, and Nani once again burst through. Having hit the woodwork on a few occasions already, he smashed home the finish to get a well-earned goal.

Moments later, I picked up the ball in midfield and slotted the self-styled ‘Aeymar’ in between the centre backs. Unusually composed, Amar was poised to finish when he was clipped by their mindless defender. It was a foul, but in the words of Welbz post-match, he “made the most of it”. Welbz stepped up to convert from the spot, and we were in dreamland.

bristol avon football league revolution soccer

With the game won, manager Krish brought on three subs for the closing minutes of the match. Man of the Match Nani was at the centre of things yet again as his intelligent flick put substitute Miller in on goal. After rounding the keeper, he dribbled the ball in – a wise move considering the state of the turf – and a thumping 7-1 win was complete.

How Broad Plain ever made it to top of the league, I don’t know. What I do know is that, on our day, we can beat anyone in this league.

I feel worryingly optimistic, but there will be harder games to come. Next up, the first of our midweek games against mid-table rivals De-Veys.

In the words of Krish’s dad Raj: “COME ON REVS!!!”

 

bristol avon football league revolution soccer

 

League Table 130414

Revolution Blog Four: Big Wins, Red Cards and Dodgy Decisions

After a mostly rained-off winter, the season is in full flight again and Bristol Revolution have really kicked on. Well, aside from conceding free kicks due to amateurish cries of ‘mine’ and ‘leave it’, but we do that just to lull opponents into a false sense of security. Here’s how we’ve got on in recent weeks.

Bristol Revolution 1 – 1 Sea Mills Park A
(Ryan Appleton)

Our first game back from the winter ‘break’ was a disappointing game at home to Sea Mills, the highlight of which was a 50 yard lob from Ryan Appleton. Well, I say lob, some might describe it as a clearance which bounced past the keeper fortuitously, but I’m sure Ryan would prefer the former.

Bradley Stoke Town 1 – 7 Bristol Revolution
(Will Tombs 3, Lex Vincenzi 2, Joel Da Costa, Gareth Coogan)

Following what felt like a lifetime of postponed matches and a limp performance against Sea Mills, a massive win against Bradley Stoke was just what we needed. Five goals from the LAW enforcement team (that’s ‘Lex And Will’) upfront, plus goals from Big Joel and centre back Gareth, saw us take an easy win.

With the team leading 4-1, captain Ben Serle had to leave at half time to perform boyfriend duties (to his girlfriend, not to a teammate). Just sayin’.

 

IMG_20140322_140123

Bristol Revolution 1 – 1 Iron Acton B
(Adam Gilks)

In a tight home match against Iron Action – who had beaten us in pre-season – my second goal of the season gained us a point.

The game was ruined by one of the worst refereeing performances I have ever seen. Inconsistent decisions throughout, including literally a dozen foul throws by the opposition, culminated in their keeper handling the ball outside the box. Despite seeing it, the referee did nothing. Other decisions included not giving a foul despite an opponent removing my boot as I went to kick the ball.

As a result, I refused to shake the referee’s hand at the end and was subsequently fined by the Bristol and Avon League, as was substitute Mark who also seemingly upset the stumpy little hobbit in charge.

 

Sea Mills Park A 0 – 6 Bristol Revolution
(Lex Vincenzi, Adam Gilks, Amar Brown, Joel Da Costa, Nil Mashru, Stu Mason)

The win at Sea Mills was a great performance against a quite pathetic team, on a pitch which almost made me long for the Downs League. The ball-swallowing stream behind one of the goals gave the pitch a nice bit of character.

Ankle-breaking divots and grass tufts made it challenging, and we held a narrow 1-0 lead at half time, with big performances from Stu and Gareth at centre back setting the tone. The second half was a different matter, though, and we took advantage of Sea Mills’ lack of fitness with a battering five goals in 45 minutes.

Stu 'Razor Ruddock' Mason prepares to launch a free kick downfield

Stu ‘take that you c**t’ Mason prepares to launch a free kick down field

 

Bristol Revolution 5 – 5 Broad Walk Reserves
(Will Tombs 3, Lex Vincenzi 2)

After a very shaky start which saw us 4-1 down, a strong second half performance meant we came back to 5-4 down with 10 minutes to go. A long punt from Broad Walk put their clumsy centre forward through on goal, but he blazed wide with just the keeper to beat.

Minutes later, we got the ball forward quickly to Lex who pulled a cross back, which I flicked on to Will who finished at the second attempt to make it 5-5. We could have gone on the win the game, but ran out of time.

Highlight of the game, though, was captain Ben Serle getting sent off at half time for taking a piss in the bushes. [Or, as he argued to the ref, for ‘looking at the brambles’]. Classic Serle. Quite an achievement, considering that you’d basically have to murder someone on the pitch to get even a yellow card.

 

Sea Mills A 3 – 0 Bristol Revolution (Cup Semi-Final)

Yet another game against Sea Mills, and the less said about this performance the better. After going 1-0 down to a sloppy headed goal on the world’s smallest 11-a-side pitch, we won a penalty after Big Joel (‘Yaya’) was taken down following a corner. Lex dispatched the spot kick, but the gobby Glaswegian ref decided Welbz had strayed into the box and ordered a re-take. Predictably, the second penalty was missed.

 

Welbz: rarely goes in the box but when he does, it's during a penalty kick

Welbz: rarely goes in the box but when he does, it’s during a penalty kick

Moments later, another corner led to a chance as a half-clearance fell to Vish on the edge of the box. The glory of a top-corner strike was short lived, however, as the ref heard Vish’s cry of ‘LEAVE IT’ as he struck the ball – a big no-no, albeit one that you rarely see a ref pick up on.

These setbacks seemed to sap our energy and two late goals gave Sea Mills a flattering win. No debut season cup glory for the Revs.

 

Bristol Revolution 4 – 1 Westerleigh Sports
(Gareth Coogan, Adam Gilks, Will Tombs, Joel Da Costa)

The aforementioned Glaswegian ref from our cup semi final took charge for this game, and again seemed intent on spoiling the game. After awarding a penalty for Westerleigh which was initially scored, he again ordered a re-take for encroachment as in the previous game. The penalty was scored, though, and we had to come from behind.

Westerleigh deserved to lose if only for that grim green kit

Westerleigh deserved to lose if only for that grim green kit

When we were awarded a penalty of our own, Gareth stepped up and made amends for giving one away at the other end by smashing home the equaliser. I claimed the next goal, albeit via a deflected cross-shot which found its way into the net, giving us a 2-1 lead at half time, and we never looked back.

Will grabbed a second half goal before the game was finished off with a lovely team move which resulted in Yaya flicking the ball over a defender’s head and hammering the ball past the helpless lard-arse keeper. Lovely. A mention should also go to the defence, who put in a commanding shift and gave Westerleigh’s little shaven-headed pikey striker absolutely nothing.

So, with eleven games to play in less than five weeks, it’s going to be a hell of a run-in for the Bristol Revolution. Here’s how the league table looks.

League Table 060414

 

Up the Revs.

Revolution Blog Three: The Season So Far

With the abysmal British weather meaning the last six match days in the Bristol & Avon Football League have been called off, now seems like a good time to recap Bristol Revolution’s season so far.

August

With the team founded and registered, training began with just a handful of players and a few cones on a windswept playing field in South East Bristol. We practised the old art of ‘lobbing the ball into the box’ and ‘how to do a throw in’ (something many players continue to struggle with). It was enlightening stuff.

With training complete and the players thoroughly prepared, we embarked on a pre-season tour of Bristol, taking on local sides with limited success. Nonetheless, The Revolution started to set out the playing style that founders Krish and Vish demand – confident, technical on-the-floor continental football – and we could feel the team starting to gel. Players found their positions within the team, other than manager Krish who was forced to play in goal until we recruited a permanent keeper. To say that he was regularly lobbed would be a monumental understatement.

On Saturday, August 31st, we hosted Bristol Sports for our first ever game in the Bristol & Avon League. Goals from Amar Brown (better known as ‘Welbz’ for obvious reasons – see below) and Joel Da Costa (‘Duff’ or ‘Big Joel’) saw the Revolution start with a confident 2-2 draw. This despite, shall we say, ‘heavy handed’ tactics from Bristol Sports and their Al ‘Pub Landlord’ Murray-a-like up front.

Danny Welbeck, Manchester United, Welbz, Bristol football, Bristol and Avon, football

Amar – AKA Welbz, Welbeck, or Danny – loves the limelight.

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Lex and Big Joel launch a counter attack. Welbz sprints into an offside position as fast as he can.

bristol football, downs league, soccer, football, bristol revolution, krish bhatt

Back up keeper Krish comes charging out. May not have actually got lobbed on this occasion.

September

The next few games weren’t so kind, as the team took time to gel defensively and leaked goals all over the place. League defeats to De-Veys Reserves (2-3), LS United (1-5) and Whitchurch Phoenix (4-5) were alleviated by a 6-3 cup win over Clifton St Vincent B of my old hunting ground, the Bristol Downs League, in the GFA Cup.

October

With two games called off in October, we managed just two matches – both defeats in cup games – so we’ll just skip this shall we…

November

Things finally started to pick with an inspiring 3-2 win over predominantly-Scottish Doddington FC, thanks to goals from Lex Vincenzi and Nilesh ‘Nani’ Mashru (2). A narrow 2-3 defeat to Iron Acton B was follow by our first back-to-back wins in our history.

The first of the victories was another defeat of Doddington, 6-4 with goals from centre backs Gareth Coogan and ‘the Asian Busquets’ Vish Patel, plus two apiece from Marcus Smith and Vincenzi.

December

The following week, we hosted Whitchurch Phoenix who had previously inflicted an undeserved 5-4 defeat. We were ready for revenge. The hard-fought match was notable for a goal by legendary central midfield playmaker (and author of this blog) Adam Gilks. Did I just reference myself in the third person? Oh, and striker Will Tombs got a hattrick. But enough about that. I scored! Nilesh Mashru and blonde-haired assassin/team captain Ben Serle got the others in a remarkable 6-3 win. Did I mention that I scored?

Unfortunately, the year ended with a 2-4 defeat on the world’s biggest and windiest pitch against Broad Plain, despite two goals from Will Tombs.

2014

Since December 14th, six consecutive games have been called off due to the appalling weather. Bristol weather is unlike anything I’ve experienced before.

If you don’t live in Bristol, I’ll describe it for you; it seems to rain pretty much continuously between October and May, with regular hurricane winds. Occasionally, the sun pops out, but only to mislead you into leaving the house without an umbrella. If you do take an umbrella, the wind will turn it inside out, shove it up your arse and then chuck a load of water at you.

So, here’s a look at the league table as it stands.

bristol and avon football league, bristol football, downs league, soccer, football, bristol revolution

Bristol and Avon Premier Division. ‘Premier’ in the very loosest sense of the word.

Although we’re third from bottom, three wins in our last five league games gives reason for optimism. With SEVEN games in hand on the team above us, and NINE games in hand on 2nd place Whitchurch Phoenix, we still have a very real chance of ending up in the top half of the table.

The schedule will be manic between now and the end of the season, so there’s likely to be injuries aplenty, high and lows, and lots of chances to analyse Welbz’s chemically straightened hair in detail.

Revolution Blog Two: The Club

The question on everyone’s lips across the football hotbed that is the South West is; who are Bristol Revolution?

Well, to say that we’re taking the Bristol & Avon League by storm would be hyperbole of the highest order. But slowly and steadily, the revolution is coming…

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Player-manager Krishan Bhatt and assistant manager Vish Patel have pulled together some of the finest football talent in Bristol. Sort of. OK, if nothing else, we are probably the most ethnically-diverse football team in Bristol, as the almost-complete team photo below demonstrates.

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The photo was taken by club legend Raj Bhatt, who is largely responsible for the team having kit to wear, goals to shoot at, and bottles to drink from every Saturday. Respect.

The team plays in red and black, a colour scheme which I assume was inspired by Manchester United, who are of course supported by pretty much the entire Asian contingent in the Revolution squad. The away kit is royal blue, not quite like the picture below (a pre-season concept). The badge was generously designed by fellow Villa fan and all round marvellous bloke, Aaron Clayton.

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We are currently sponsor-less, which probably makes us appear so ‘big time’ that we can run a football club without sponsor investment. I think Krish’s bank account would confirm that this is not the case. In fact, we may have been shut down by Andrew Andronikou and his team of football administrators before the end of this blog.

Talking of sponsors, if by some miracle of the interwebnet the owner of Vodka Revolution’s Bristol outlet is reading this (maybe he Googled ‘Bristol Vodka Revolution and ended up here)…just think of the marketing opportunities!

Our home pitch is on loan from Cadbury Heath YFC of Downend, on the east side of Bristol. Ingeniously positioned at the bottom of a hill, the pitch is like a huge green sponge that absorbs all of the water from the local area. Dense bushes and brambles frame three quarters of the pitch, meaning that several match balls are lost or borrowed by nature every Saturday.

The pitch itself, however, is almost flat. Flat! After a year and a half battling ankle-breaking pitches in the Downs League, this is an incredible feeling. The grass varies in length, and the water-soaking technique of adding sand means I’ve lost half the skin on my legs already, but amazingly you can actually pass the ball without fear of a molehill pushing the ball in the opposite direction.

Manager Bhatt encourages an attractive style of play, preferring ‘on the floor’ football which is rare at this level of English football. This is the most encouraging aspect of playing for the Revolution – that regardless of the yobbish, talentless mugs we face, we stick to our style of play and try to do it the right way. This is also, in part, due to the fact that only about 3 of our 16 man squad can head the ball, so we pretty much have to play on the floor. Arsene Wenger, eat your heart out.

That’ll do for now – if you’ve stuck with me this far, you probably either play for the club or know someone that does. Good work, and thanks for reading.

Up the Revs.

Revolution Blog One: From Cotswool FC to Bristol Revolution

Welcome to the return of Soccer Sagacity.

Previously, the ramblings on here were largely based on my experiences of the Bristol Downs League. I am now employing my unique brand of ‘all the gear, no idea’ football in the Bristol & Avon Football League with Bristol Revolution.

For clarity, I think it’s worth summarising the experiences and blogs that lead to this point, to pull the story together.

Note: if you’re reading this in your email browser, click here to view as God/nature/your chosen deity intended.

The Bristol Downs League is a standalone football league system consisting of four divisions, played entirely (home and away) in Clifton, up above the legendary Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Clifton Suspension Bridge Bristol

The view from the Downs, with the famous suspension bridge beyond the shrubbery

Players in the Downs League are mostly very pleasant – local Clifton residents, Bristol University students, young professionals from the area, and some veterans who have been playing in the league for decades.

The spirit is fantastic, and I recommend taking a look at my earlier blogs to get a feel of what this unique league is like.

Unfortunately, the pitches are not befitting of the league’s camaraderie, and after 18 months of battling through the mud, divots and puddles, the Downs claimed another victim as pitch number 12 decided to grab a hold of my foot and promptly smash my ankle ligaments to smithereens.

bristol downs league football, muddy football pitch

Spring/summer; the long grass disguises the lethal potholes that lie below. Autumn/winter; mud is the order of the day.

After 5 months out injured, I returned for the final few games of the 2012-13 season as Cotswool battled to retain top-division status.

I decided, however, that I didn’t enjoy walking on crutches or spending my Saturdays wading through knee-deep puddles and battling hurricane-like winds.

So, when I was offered the chance to join new start-up Bristol Revolution, I jumped at the chance.

And so, here we are.

Up next, an introduction to Bristol Revolution Football Club. You lucky buggers.