February 26, 2011

Russian Premier League, 2011-12 season.

Filed under: Russia — admin @ 2:44 pm


2010 Russian Premier League champions and 2009-10 Russian Cup winners were Zenit St. Petersburg. This is the 86-year old club’s first Double, and Zenit’s third national title (with 1 Soviet Top League title in 1984, and 2 Russian titles, their first in 2007). Italian Luciano Spalletti did what he was hired to do, that is get Zenit back to the top. Former AS Roma manager Spalletti signed on in December, 2009. In May, 2010, Zenit won the Russian Cup final over Sibir Novosibersk (who also were relegated later in 2010). He made four good signings, first, in January 2010 bringing back FW Aleksandr Kerzkov (who started his RPL career with Zenit from 2001 to 2006, scoring 64 goals). In August, Spalletti signed veteran field general MF Sergei Semak, and powerful young FW Aleksandr Bukharov, both from 2008 and 2009 champions Rubin Kazan. And also in August, the Portuguese national/ attacking defender Bruno Alves signed with Zenit, joining compatriots Fernando Meira and Danny. Ten goals were scored for Zenit between the three August signings in 12-14 games (with Alves and Bukharov scoring 4 goals each, and Semak netting twice). Danny was among the RPL’s top scorers, with 10 goals. Zenit’s top scorer was Aleksandr Kerzakov, whose 13 goals were fourth-best in the league. [RPL leading scorers shown below.] The Zenit squad hit a bump in late August by failing to advance to the 2009-10 Champions League Group Stage (by losing to AJ Auxerre of France), but in the league, Zenit maintained their form and continued on an unbeaten run that ended up being a Russian Premier League record 21-game undefeated run. The only club to beat them were Spartak Moscow, on 27 October. Zenit St. Petersburg clinched the title on 14 November, with 2 games remaining.

Changes in Russian Premier League to be implemented in 2011-12
The Russian Premier League is switching it’s season schedule to be more in line with the bulk of European leagues. The 2011-12 season will be a transitional one and will stretch over 18 months. It will be split into 2 phases, and teams will end up playing 14 more matches than usual (!). The first phase will be exactly like other RPL seasons, with the 16 teams playing home and away matches versus all the other teams, for a 30-game slate. Then the league will be split into 2 groups of 8, along the lines of the final Phase 1 table. Theses two groups will then play home and away matches against the other 7 teams in their group. [It will be sort of like the Scottish Premier League's latter-part-of-the-season-schedule.] The top eight teams will be competing for Russia’s Champions League spots and Europa League spots (3 Champions League spots, with 1st and 2nd place going into the 2011-12 CL Group Stage; and 3rd place into the CL 3rd Qualifying Round. 2 Europa League spots, with 4th and 5th place going into the the 2011-12 EL qualifiers). In Phase 2, the bottom 8 teams of the Phase 1 table will be competing to avoid relegation, with the bottom two teams going down to the Russian First Division (ie, the 2nd Level) for the 2012 season; and the 5th and 6th place teams entering into a relegation/promotion playoff with the 3rd and 4th place teams in the First Division.

As if that wasn’t enough, just like last season, there have been casualties…well, a casualty, because Amkar Perm got an 11th-hour reprieve and a bailout by the government (similar to how Krylya Sovetov Samara were saved from extinction last year), so Perm are not going to withdraw from the RPL. But Saturn Moscow are, and the club will be wound up. As with FC Moscow last season, Saturn Moscow is being dissolved because of excessive debts.

Russian first division clubs get a fraction of the television broadcasting revenues that western Europen clubs do, and other income streams like ticket sales and merchandising also lag …only 2 clubs last season drew above 20,000 per game (Spartak Moscow and Zenit). There are two ways clubs in the Russian top flight get by – by being funded by the local government (as in the case of Rubin Kazan, who would never have been in the first division, let alone be 2-time-champions recently, without the funding of the Republic of Tatarstan), or by being owned by one of the major corporations there, as with Zenit, who are owned by the largest company in Russia, the natural gas extractors Gazprom. In Russia these days, getting promoted to the first division means seeing your club go into the red.
This explains the promotion of a fifth-placed team. Because the 3rd place team in the 2010 Russian First Division, FC Nizhny Novgorod, declined to accept promotion because of fear of the costs. And so did the 4th place 2010 RFD team, KAMAZ Naberezhnye Chelny. Threrefore, the fifth place club from the 2010 Russian First Division, FC Krasnodar, will get the spot. The Russian Premier League is more worried about seeing it’s ranks made up of strong clubs, even if they are basically brand new 3-year old franchises (like FC Krasnodar) that didn’t earn a promotion on the playing field.

As the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia nears, the cynical default view is that in the next few seasons, tiny clubs like Anzhi Makhachkala and Spartak Nalchik will go down, and cities with no clubs in the top flight – but with new stadiums set to be built for the 2018 FIFA World Cup – will see their clubs in the Russian Premier League…cities such as Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod, Yaroslavl, and Saransk. [From, Cities that will be hosting 2018 World Cup matches.]
And yes, Krasnodar is one of those cities that will be hosting matches in the 2018 World Cup. One other thing…Volga Nizhny Novgorod, one of the teams that won promotion to the Russian Premier League last season – and a club from one of those cities that will host 2018 World Cup matches – they are being investigated for several instances of alleged match-fixing last season. From, from 28 Aug. 2010, by Andy Potts, ‘Another match-fixing scandal rocks Russian football‘.

As Sasha Goryunov writes in the January, 2011 issue of When Saturday Comes, “…There is talk of the international attention that will be afforded Russian football now [that Russia has won the rights to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup] and that this should mean more transparency, fewer fixed matches, better standards of refereeing and better crowd control. Spartak will finally get their own ground. The work on Zenit’s stadium can resume now. The provincial host cities will get 25-35,000-capacity stadiums, temporarily expanding to around 45,000 for 2018. But what are the odds that teams from the host cities of Sochi, Saransk, Yaroslavl and Kaliningrad won’t be “helped” up to the top flight at the expense of clubs from Perm, Tomsk, Makhachkala and Nalchik?”

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at, Russian Premier League.
Thanks to E-F-S attendances, here.
Thanks to Sasha Goryunov, and When Saturday Comes –
Thanks to Internet Archive site,

February 22, 2011

NCAA Basketball: The Big Ten Conference – Conference map, with venues, capacities, and 2009-10 average attendances; and teams’ Big Ten titles and NCAA Tournament histories.

Filed under: NCAA Men's Basketball,NCAA/bk->Big Ten — admin @ 11:26 am

2010-11 Big Ten Basketball

ESPN/NCAA Basketball.
Big Ten standings at ESPN site, here.
Big Ten athletics site/2011 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament, here.

AP Poll (from ESPN site).
The AP poll for Week 16 (Feb. 21) has Duke #1 (up from 5th), Ohio State #2 (=), Kansas #3 (down from 1st), Pitt #4 (=), and Texas #5 (down from 4th). [Btw, the San Diego State Azrecs are #6, so one might want to keep an eye on that Cinderella story.] Other Big Ten teams beside Ohio State in the top 25 are: Purdue at #8, and Wisconsin at #12.

Bracketology column by Shawn Siegel at, from Feb. 21, here. Siegel projects these 5 Big Ten teams into the Tournament, if the season ended now…a #1 seed: Ohio State; a #2 seed: Purdue; a #4 seed; Wisconsin; a #10 seed: Illinois; and a #12 seed: Michigan State.

The Big Ten has existed as a sporting institution since 1896. The original sport the conference teams competed in was, of course, gridiron football. The first season that basketball was featured as a competition was in 1905-06. That makes this the 106th season of Big Ten Basketball. The first champion was Wisconsin, who went 6-1 in 1905-06. For the first 92 seasons, the regular season winner was champion (and there were several instances of dual champions or three-way co-champions). The Big Ten took a long time to finally get around to having a tournament to decide their basketball champion…not until 1998. The first champion of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament was Michigan, but that title has been vacated by the NCAA, because of a string of violations that fall under the aegis of The University of Michigan basketball scandal. Titles and statistics listed in the profile boxes on the map page all call into account the vacated titles and statistics of each team…besides Michigan, five other Big ten schools’ basketball programs have run afoul of NCAA regulations…Illinois; Michigan State; Ohio State; Purdue; and Wisconsin have also had Big Ten basketball titles and/or statistics vacated.

The Big Ten Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament is held at a neutral site. In 2008, the tournament began a five-year residence at the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. [Indianapolis is 52 miles (83 km.) from Bloomington, Indiana where the Indiana Hoosiers are located.] Ohio State won the 2010 Big Ten Tournament, beating Minnesota by 39 points.

As far as national championships go, there are five Big Ten basketball teams with NCAA Basketball Tournament titles. [The NCAA Basketball Tournament began in 1939.] Top of the list in the Big Ten is Indiana, who have won 5 national basketball titles (their last in 1987), putting the Hoosiers tied for third on the all-time list. [The top 4 are: UCLA -11 titles; North Carolina - 7 titles; Indiana and Duke - 5 titles.] The other Big Ten teams which have won NCAA Basketball Tournament titles are…Michigan State, with 2 titles (last in 2000); Michigan, in 1989; Ohio State, in 1960; and Wisconsin, in 1941.

A noteworthy present-day achievement of a Big Ten basketball program is Michigan State’s 12 consecutive selections for NCAA Tournament bids. The Spartans’ dozen-straight March Madness appearances (1999 to 2010) is the third-longest active streak, behind only Kansas (with 21 straight March Madness appearances), and Duke (with 15 straight March Madness appearances),

A brief history of the Big Ten…
The Conference was not officially called the Big Ten until 1987. Before that, its official name was The Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives, but it had been popularly known as the Big Nine, then the Big Ten, almost throughout it’s whole history.The Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives was founded on February 8, 1896. It was the first collegiate sports conference in the United States. The conference initially (for 3 years or so) became known as the Western Conference. It’s original schools were Chicago, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, and Wisconsin.
In 1899, Indiana and Iowa joined, and the conference became popularly known as the Big Nine.
Michigan left the conference in 1908 (for a time); Ohio State joined in 1913. When Michigan re-joined in November 1917, the conference started to be known as the Big Ten.
The University of Chicago decided to de-emphasize athletics, and their football team left the conference in 1939. By 1946, that school’s athletic program was out of the conference entirely, and the conference once again became known as the Big Nine. Three years later, 1949, Michigan State joined, and it was the Big Ten again.

Again, throughout this whole time, the conference was still officially known as the Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives. The conference did not shed this anachronistic name until 1987, when the Big Ten was incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation. Three years later, in 1990, Penn State joined, making the conference an 11 team organization, but it was decided to keep the name Big Ten (after all, it’s foolish to mess with an established brand name}. The conference slyly acknowledged their then-11 school make-up, though, by having a logo which showed the number 11, in the blank spaces to either side of the T in Ten [you can see that logo at the lower left on the map page].

Ex-Big 12 school Nebraska is now set to join the Big Ten, and the conference has a new logo {here}. A lot of people hate it, but I am reserving my hate for the ridiculous names that the conference has given for their two new football divisions…Legends and Leaders. Legends and Leaders? Sentimental hogwash. Those names are just embarrassing. From the Big Lead, Dec. 13, 2010, ‘New Big Ten Division Names Are “Legends” and “Leaders,” Awful.’ From ESPN, via AP, Dec.17,2010, ‘Big Ten may rethink Legends, Leaders‘.

Nebraska doesn’t join Big Ten sports until each sport’s 2011 season. Currently, this is the 2010-11 season in college basketball. But in anticipation of this, I decided to include a profile box for the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ basketball team. Their profile box is at the far lower right of the map page.

Each team’s profile box includes…primary logo; full name of school; location of main campus, basketball venue; year of the school’s establishment; year of the establishment of the school’s varsity basketball team; undergraduate enrollment; Big Ten Basketball titles (and year of last title); seasons spent in Big Ten Basketball; NCAA Basketball Tournament titles (and year of last title); NCAA Final Four appearances (and year of last Final Four appearance), and total number of NCAA Basketball Tournament appearances (and year of last appearance). Plus I squeezed in each team’s coach, and years he has spent coaching there. Then there is an interior photo of the team’s arena. Above the photo is the team’s 2009-10 average home attendance. Finally, I have included a photo of the team’s most recent away basketball jersey that I could find. I stuck with away jerseys. Some schools don’t even seem to make their men’s basketball team’s home white jerseys avialable for purchase on the Internet. The one exception was for Purdue – I used Purdue’s alternate, old gold-colored jersey.

On the map are the city locations of the teams. At the lower left of the map page are the final standings for 2010 Big Ten Basketball; a listing of the 4 Big Ten teams that were nationally ranked by the AP last season (Ohio at #5, Purdue at #10, Michigan State at #13, and Wisconsin at #16); as well as a listing of the Big Ten teams that qualified for the 2010 NCAA Basketball Tournament (the aforementioned 4 teams plus Minnesota), their seeding in the tournament, and how far the team went in the tournament. As mentioned, the Ohio State Buckeyes won the 2010 Big Ten Basketball Tournament, beating Minnesota. That’s the 2nd Big Ten Tournament victory for Ohio state in 4 seasons. The Big Ten team that had the most successful March Madness run was Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans, who made it to the Final Four, losing to Butler by 2 points in the Semifinal.

At the very bottom left of the map page are 2009-10 average home attendances, venue capacities, and percent capacities. Wisconsin not only led Big Ten Basketball in attendance, but the Badgers had the 6th-highest average attendance nationwide in NCAA basketball in 2009-10. Wisconsin also played to sell-out crowds every game, making them one of only 6 college basketball programs to play to full capacity last season. [The other 5 teams that played to 100%-capacity or higher last season were Kentucky, Kansas, the Big Ten's Michigan State, Duke, and Gonzaga.] {My 2009-10 NCAA Basketball attendance map, here.}

Photo credits -
Illinois…Assembly Hall photo by Mark Jones, at Illini official site, here. Jersey,
Indiana…Assembly Hall photo from, here. Jersey from, here.
Iowa…Carver-Hawkeye Arena photo by Dan O’Brien at his blog, from this post. Jersey from, here.
Michigan…Crisler Arena photo from Basketball Arenas, here. Jersey from, here.
Michigan State…Breslin Events Center photo from, here. Jersey from, here.
Minnesota…Williams Arena photo by Dlz28 at, here. Jersey at, here.

Northwestern…Welsh-Ryan Arena photo from, here. Jersey from, here.
Ohio State…Schottenstein Center photo from, ‘Was building the Schottenstein Center a big Mistake‘.
Penn State…Bryce Jordan Center photo from, here. Jersey from, here.
Purdue…Mackey Arena photo from Purdue University via Bloomberg Businessweek site, ‘Purdue: A Virtual Tour‘. Jeresey from, here.
Wisconsin…Kohl center photo by Pbrown111 at, here. Jersey from, here.

Nebraska…Bob Devaney Sports Center photo from, here. Jersey from, here.

Thanks to Big Ten athletics official site, Men’s Basketball page, here.

February 18, 2011

2010-11 FA Cup, Fifth Round (including 2 Fourth Round Replays).

Filed under: 2010-11 FA Cup — admin @ 8:30 am

2010-11 FA Cup, Fifth Round

BBC/Football/FA Cup home.

Photo credits: logo from Photo from via Getty Images.

In addition to the six Fifth Round Proper ties this weekend, there are two Fourth Round Replay matches…on Saturday – Chelsea v. Everton, with the winner playing on Tuesday, 1st March, hosting Reading for a Fifth Round match.
On Sunday – Manchester City v. Notts County, with the winner playing on Wednesday, 2nd March, hosting Aston Villa.

On the map page, along with 2009-10 and current average attendances (from league home matches) of all the clubs still alive in the 2010-11 FA Cup , I have added the statistic of Numerical Change versus 09/10 Avg. Attendance.

FA Cup televised games in the United Kingdom…
Manchester United v. Crawley Town
Saturday 19 February
5.15pm GMT, on ITV1

Leyton Orient v. Arsenal
Sunday 20 February
4.30pm GMT, on ESPN (UK)

West Ham United v. Burnley
Monday 21 February
8pm GMT, on ESPN (UK).

FA Cup televised games in the United States and Canada…

Chelsea v. Everton [4th Round replay]
Saturday, February 19
7:30 am ET, on Fox Soccer Channel.

Birmingham City v. Sheffield Wednesday
Saturday, February 19
10:00 am ET, on Fox Soccer Channel.

Stoke City v. Brighton & Hove Albion
Saturday, February 19
10:00 am ET, on Fox Soccer Plus.

Manchester United v. Crawley Town
Saturday, February 19
12:15 pm ET, on Fox Soccer Channel.

Manchester City v. Notts County [4th Round replay]
Sunday, February 20
9:00 am ET, on Fox Soccer Plus.

Leyton Orient v. Arsenal
Sunday, February 20
11:30 am ET, on Fox Soccer Channel.

West Ham United v. Burnley
Monday, February 21
3:00 pm ET, on Fox Soccer Plus.
Thanks to the FA Cup silversmiths, Thomas Lyte Silver, for the photo of the FA Cup trophy, here.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at, 2010-11 FA Cup/Fourth Round Proper.
Thanks to ESPN Soccernet, for attendance figures – Barclay’s Premier League Stats: Team Attendance – 2010-11.
Thanks to, for 2009-10 attendance figures.

February 12, 2011

2010-11 UEFA Europa League, Group Stage – Knockout Phase (32 teams). Plus 2010-11 UEFA Champions League Knockout Phase, Round of 16: the 8 match-ups.

Filed under: UEFA Cup / Europa League — admin @ 4:15 pm

2010-11 UEFA Europa League Knockout Phase (32 teams)

Note: this post covers both European competitions this week. Above is the map of the 32 teams still alive in the Europa League. Near the bottom of this post, I link to and talk a bit about the match-ups in the 2010-11 Europa League Knockout Phase Round of 32.

Below are two gifs which are old content (from 10 January post, with attendance map, here), but their subject matter are the 4 matches to be played in the Champions League on Tuesday the 15th and Wednesday the 16th (first gif); and the 4 matches to be played on Tuesday the 22nd and Wednesday the 23rd (second gif)…
The following gif shows the 8 clubs involved in the first two match days of the 2010-11 Champions League Round of 16, on 15 and 16 February…
AC Milan v. Tottenham Hotspur
Valencia v. Schalke 04
Arsenal v. Barcelona
AS Roma v. Shakhtar Donetsk
Click on box below…

The next gif shows the 8 clubs involved in the second set of match days, on 22 and 23 February…
Lyon v. Real Madrid
FC Copenhagen v. Chelsea
Internazionale v. Bayern Munich
Marseille v. Manchester United
Click on box below…

The 2010-11 UEFA Europa League Knockout phase begins on Tuesday, 15 February with one match being played 2 days before the other 15 ties – which have 1st Leg matches on Thursday, 17 February – so as to avoid fixture congestion in the Greek city of Thessaloniki. Thessaloniki is Greece’s second-largest city, with a metro-area population of around 995,000 {2004 figure, National Statistical Service of Greece}. This Balkan port city has two clubs still alive in this competition…Aris Thessaloniki and PAOK Salonika. Both are members of Super League Greece. PAOK have won 2 Greek titles (in 1976 and 1985); Aris have won 3 Greek titles (their last in 1946). PAOK has the larger fan base, and are drawing in the 14,000s this season, and sit in third place. Aris can draw up to 12-13,000, but Aris’ attendances have plummeted this season to the 9,000-range, owing to their poor league campaign, where they are in 8th place, with a losing record.
Aris have been drawn against Manchester City. PAOK have perhaps the more winnable tie, versus CSKA Moscow.

Here are all the ties… UEFA_Europa_League_knockout_phase#Round_of_32

The marquee match-ups would be… Benfica v. Stuttgart, Sevilla v. Porto, Anderlecht v. Ajax, Liverpool v. Sparta Peague, and Rangers v. Sporting CP. Three other interesting ties are… Lille v. PSV [Eindhoven], Dynamo Kyiv v. Besiktas, and Napoli v. Villarreal. That first tie features the club that is in first place in Ligue 1 in France – Lille, who feature the Senegalese FW Moussa Sow (who leads Ligue 1 with 16 goals), and the Ivorian FW Gervinho (with 11 league goals). That last tie features two clubs that have a solid shot at Champions League Group Stage qualification next season – Napoli and Villarreal; and in fact, SSC Napoli have been playing so well that they have a credible shot at the Serie A title this season. Napoli, led by Slovakian playmaker Marek Hamsík, and Uruguayan scoring wizard Edinson Cavani (his 20 goals lead Serie A), are second in Italy right now, 3 points behind AC Milan, with 11 games remaining each. Villarreal, powered by the scoring tandem of the Brazilian Nilmar (10 goals in La Liga) and the American-born/Italian international Giusseppe Rossi (12 goals in La Liga), are in fourth, two points behind Valencia in third, and 7 points ahead of Athletic Bilbao in fifth.

In all, there are 17 countries with clubs in the final 32 of the 2010-11 Europa League. The Holders, Atlético Madrid, were eliminated in the Group Stage.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at, ‘2010-11 UEFA Europa League‘.
Thanks to ESPN Soccernet and for current attendance figures.

February 8, 2011

2011 Copa Libertadores, Second Stage – 32 clubs, including Cup Holder SC Internacional and 2011 South American Footballer of the Year: Andrés d’Alessandro.

Filed under: Copa Libertadores — admin @ 8:30 am

2011 Copa Libertadores Second Stage

The 6 losing clubs from the First Stage are gone, among them Corinthians, which makes them the first Brazilian club to be eliminated in the First Stage (this is the seventh year that a preliminary-round/first stage has existed). Corinthians, whose squad included the fading Ronaldo, failed to score in either leg against Deportes Tolima, a club making their fifth appearance in the tournament and with just one Colombian title to their name (in 2003-II). Corinthians lost 2-0 in Ibagué, Colombia on 2nd February – video highlights of Deportes Tolima 2-0 Corinthians, here (}.

For the Second Stage, the 32 clubs have been split into 8 groups of 4.
Matches for the 2nd stage begin on 9 February. Clubs play the other 3 clubs in their group home and away (6 matches). Each club’s matches are scheduled every 2-3 weeks until 20th April. Clubs that finish in first and second place in the 8 groups advance to the Round of 16.
Groups for Second Stage of 2011 Copa Libertadores, with tables, fixtures, results (
2011 Copa Libertadores Second Stage‘, at

It wouldn’t be a proper international football competition without a ‘group of death’, and in the 2011Copa Libertadores Second Stage, that would be Group 3, which is comprised of… Argentinos Juniors (Argentina’s 2010 Clausura champions), Nacional (the Uruguayan giants who are 3-time Copa Libertadores champs, and were Quarterfinalists in the 2009 Copa Libertadores), Fluminense (the 2010 Brazilian champions, who were 2008 Copa Libertadores finalists), and Club América (the massively-supported Mexican giants, who truth be told, have not won a thing in the last 6 seasons). The first two matches in this group are on 9 February, with Fluminense v. Argentinos Juniors at Engenhão in Rio de Janeiro; and on 15 February, with América v. Nacional at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

    2010 Copa Libertadores champion – SC Internacional, and Andrés D’Alessandro – 2010 South American Footballer of the Year

Andrés D’Alessandro emerged as the chief catalyst for Internacional’s successful 2010 Copa Libertadores campaign. The attacking left-footed midfielder, who was born in Buenos Aires in 1981, began his career with River Plate, where he scored 31 goals in 80 games from 1998-2003, including this one v. Gimnasia La Plata at River Plate’s El Monumental {Youtube, video by Riverplatecom, here}. D’Alessandro earned his first international cap with Argentina in 2002, and he was a part of the Argentina team’s winning of the gold medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens (scoring 1 goal in 6 games). Before that, though, his pro career saw him off to Europe with a then-club-record transfer of 9 million Euros – to Germany’s Wolfsburg. After two and a half seasons there, D’Alessandro went on loan in January 2006 to then-bottom-of-the-table Premier League club Portsmouth, where he played a crucial role in helping Portsmouth avoid relegation that year. He scored 4 goals in 13 games for Pompey, and his dead-ball skills, dibbling prowess, and playmaking abilities led to several other goals, and contributed to the South Coast side’s general improvement in form. From Daily, from 11 Jan., 2011, by Emma Reynolds, ‘The Friday Five: Loan stars who hit the heights in the Premier League‘.
Fom Youtube, video by passionargentina, goal by Andrés D’Alessandro, Charlton v. Portsmouth, 2006.

However, then-Portsmouth-manager Harry Redknapp was unable to secure a full-time deal, with D’Alessandro opting to realize his long-held desire to play in La Liga. So the Argentine moved on to the Spanish Cup-specialist club Real Zaragoza in 2006-07. It did not work out well there, as D’Alessandro clashed with management, despite putting up solid numbers for a midfielder, with 15 goals in 36 games. So he returned back home to Argentina in 2008 to be reunited with his former River Plate manager Ramón Diaz at San Lorenzo. He was part of San Lorenzo’s strong run in the 2008 Copa Libertadores, where the club made it to the Quarterfinals. However, as per the extreme fluidity of managerial shifts in South America, Diaz left soon after, to join Mexican giants Club América, and soon after that, D’Alessandro also sought greener pastures…to Sport Club Internacional, from Brazil’s southernmost metropolis of Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul state.

In 2009, with D’Alessandro controlling the midfield, Internacional just missed out on winning the Brazilian title, finishing in 2nd place, 2 points behind Flamengo. But the important thing was that Inter, after three years out, qualified for the following year’s Copa Libertadores. At that point in time, SC Internacional had only made it to South America’s most prestigious competition 7 times, but when they were there, the Colorados (the Reds) had made the most of it, winning the 2006 Copa Libertadores title by beating fellow Brazilian club São Paulo on 4-1 aggregate. Furthermore, in 3 of the other 6 times Internacional had qualified for the Copa Libertadores, the club had made it either to the Semifinals (in 1977 and 1989), or to the Finals (in 1980, when they lost to Nacional of Uruguay by 1-0 aggregate).

The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa forced the 2010 Copa Libertadores to be interrupted during the month of June, with resumption, at the Semifinal stage, in late July. In the interim, SC Internacional had sacked coach Jorge Fossati because of poor results in the Brazilian league. Internacional had started the 2010 Campeonato Serie A season in May with 4 straight losses, and a day after the fourth loss, Fossati was gone. So the 2010 Copa Libertadores reconvened with one of the 4 remaining teams having a new man at the helm. Internacional’s new manager was the extremely well-traveled 54 year old Rio Grande do Sul native Celso Roth. Besides stints as Indonesia and Qatar national coach, Roth had managed Internacional on three separate occasions (1993-1994, 1996-1998, and 2002); local rivals Grêmio three times; as well as 2 stints at Vasco da Gama; two stints at Atlético Miniero; and stints at Vitória; Sport Recife; Palmeiras; Santos; Goiás; Flamengo; and Botofogo. Notably absent from the nomadic Celso Roth’s CV, however, was a major title. That was about to change.

Internacional, to be honest, had never looked dominant in the latter stages of their 2010 Copa Libertadores title run, relying on the away-goals rule to advance in the Round of 16 (advancing by 3-3 aggregate over Argentina’s Banfield); in the Quarterfinals (advancing by 2-2 aggregate over Argentina’s Estudiantes – who were the Cup Holder); and in the Semifinals (advancing by 2-2 aggregate over São Paulo). In fact, Internacional just barely made it out of the Group Stage, only clinching advancement in the final group match, in Ecuador, versus 2008 Copa Libertadores champions LDU Quito. Besides D’Alessandro, there were several players who were instrumental in Internacional’s Copa libertadores title run… one was Anderzinho (who was player of the week in week 12, largely via the following goal, from the aforementioned match in Ecuador…here (at 0:15 of the Youtube video by CristalPteLiberta13).
Other crucial players for Inter were striker Alecsandro (in spite of being injured for the 2nd Leg in the Finals); left wingback Kléber; super-sub/MF Giuliano; Porto Alegre-born central midfielder Tinga (who had returned in 2010 for his second stint with the club); and Rio Grande do Sul-born captain and central defender Bolívar.
Photo credits - Alexandre Lops at

    2010 Copa Libertadores Finals

11 August, 2010, 2010 Copa Libertadores Final, 1st Leg at Estadio Omnilife, in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Internacional played with surprising assurance in the 1st leg of the Finals at Chivas’ new space-age-design/artificial-turf-laden 49,000-capacity Estadio Omnilife in Guadalajara before a crowd of 30,870. In the first half, Inter contolled the bulk of possession and hit the woodwork twice, but let Chivas take the lead against the run of play at 45′+2′, allowing in a looping header by Adolfa Bautista. But Guadalajara would not really threaten again in the match. Internacional lost Alecsandro to injury in the second half, but the Colorados scored the equalizer in the 72nd minute, with Kléber crossing to set up a Guilano header. Inter’s aerial domination continued – in the 76th minute center-backs Indio and Bolívar combined, with Indio heading over to set up a stooped header by Bolívar.

18 August, 2010, Copa Libertadores Final, 2nd Leg at Estadio José Pinheiro Borda [aka Beira-Rio], Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Before a capacity crowd of 56,000.
2nd Leg video highlights…{Youtube, 4:16 video by argentinofutbol13, here, (with times for goals noted below)…
(0:50 seconds into video}…Guadalajara take early command, and score first again, in the 43rd minute, on a fine play, with Bravo heading over a come back to Marco Fabian, who leaped up and backwards to swivel a sideways bicycle kick into the net. 2-2 aggregate.
(1:12 into the video}…In the 61st minute Internacional took back the aggregate lead with Kléber curling a pin-point cross from the left flank into the box, to allow FW Sobis to tap it in. 3-2 aggregate for Internacional.
(2:02 into the video)…In the 65th minute, Celso Roth again makes Guiliano a second-half substitution, and in the 73rd minute, he puts in young striker Dimão, who scores in the 86th minute, taking advantage of a poor pass by Fabian, with Dimão picking off the ball up at the half-line unmarked and open for a goal mouth sprint, shooting the ball past the Chivas ‘keeper Michel. 4-2 aggreagte for Internacional.
(2:40 into the video)…Omar Arellano of Chivas is given a straight red card in the 87th minute for a two-footed tackle on D’Alessandro.
(2:56 into the video)…One minute later (88′), Guiliano scores. He collects the ball above the center arc, then beats two Chivas defenders simultaneously with a stop-dribble/flick move that skids the ball into the box, where he then beats Michel and a another Chivas defender to the ball. 5-2 aggregate for Internacional.
(3:30 into the video)…In the 90th minute, Chivas get s one back, with Omar Bravo scoring on the rebound from Bautista’s woodwork-hitting free kick. 5-3 aggregate for Internacional, and that’s how it stood.
(3:44 into the video)…For the second straight Copa Libertadores Final, a fight breaks out after the ref’s final whistle, with Chivas Guadalajara showing some poor sportsmanship, picking fights with the celebrating Inter squadl.

From Reuters,’Brazil’s Internacional win Libertadores Cup‘.

Andrés D’Alessandro, 2010 South American Footballer of the Year, chosen byEl País, Uruguay…
From ESPN, by Sam Kelly, January 9, 2011, ‘Internacional superstar‘.
Youtube video, by dshogo, ‘Andrés D’Alessandro – S.C. Internacional [PARTE 2]‘ (7:15).
Below, photo illustration of Andrés D ‘Alessandro’s career, 1998-2010…
Photo credits – Alan Walter/Daily [article: 11 Jan., 2011, by Emma Reynolds, ‘The Friday five: Loan stars who hit the heights in the Premier League‘.’Libertadores. Silvia Izquierdo at, here.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at, ‘Copa Libertadores‘. ‘SC Internacional‘.
Thanks to Tim Vickery, for his article ‘Inter take Cup back to Brazil’, from the September, 2010 issue of World Soccer.
Tim Vickery’s Blog at BBC/football.
Thanks to CONMEBOL for this pdf of 2010 Copa Libertadoes attendances.
Thanks to the official site of SC Internacional,

February 3, 2011

NCAA Basketball: The ACC – Conference map, with venues, capacities, and 2009-10 average attendances; and teams’ ACC titles and NCAA tournament histories.

Filed under: NCAA Men's Basketball,NCAA/bk->ACC — admin @ 3:27 pm

ACC Basketball, 2011

ESPN/NCAA Basketball.
ACC Standings.
AP Top 25 (Jan.31).
Jeff Sagarin NCAA basketball ratings (USA…by team
by Conference.
Ohio State are the only undefeated team in the country, and of course are #1. Kansas is #2, at 20-1. Texas is #3 at 18-3. Pitt is #4 at 20-2. Duke is #5 (down from 3rd, last week), at 19-2. Reigning national champs Duke’s first loss snapped a 25 game winning streak, and it was to unranked fellow ACC member Floride State, on January 12th. The Florida State Seminoles, under coach Leonard Hamilton, have qualified for March Madness in 2009 and 2010, and are now making an early case for a tournament bid in 2011.
Duke’s second loss came last weekend, away at Madison Square Garden in New York City, to St. John’s. St. John’s are 5-5 in the Big East this season and unranked, while Duke are 7-1 in the ACC this season, so it was a significant upset, especially since St. John’s beat the Blue Devils by a 15-point margin, 93-78…Jan. 30, – AP via, ‘St. John’s stymies No. 3 Duke to reel off 3rd ranked win’. It was Duke’s largest margin of defeat versus an unranked opponent in 15 seasons.

If you glance at the Sagarin ratings by conference, you will see that this season, as far as the top 10 conferences go, the ACC is slipping towards a more mediocre rating, at 4th best conference, with the Big East and the Big Ten ascending, to be first and second rated, and the Mountain West gaining the most (3) places, into fifth rated.
Sagarin Conference ratings (and comparison to their final 2009-10 Sagarin ratings) 1st through 10th best rated conferences are…
1st, Big East (up from 3rd in 2009-10).
2nd, Big Ten (up from 4th in 2009-10).
3rd, Big 12 (down from 1st in 2009-10).
4th, ACC (down from 2nd in 2009-10).
5th, Mountain West (up from 8th in 2009-10).
6th, SEC (down from 5th in 2009-10).
7th, Pac-10 (down from 6th in 2009-10).
8th, Conference USA (up from 10th in 2009-10).
9th, Atlantic 10 (down from 7th in 2009-10).
10th, Horizon (up from 12th in 2009-10).

In Men’s Basketball, the ACC features two of the most successful college basketball programs in the United States – North Carolina (with 5 national championships, last in 2009) and Duke (with 4 national championships, including the 2010 title). The ACC also has amongst its members two other teams that have won national basketball championships: North Carolina State (with 2 championships, their last in 1983), and Maryland (who won their title in 2004). The North Carolina Tar Heels’ 5 titles puts them tied for third-best all-time (with Indiana) [UCLA is top with 11 titles, and Kentucky has the second-most titles, with 7]…’NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship/Winners‘ ( NC and Duke are also at the top of the list of all-time-most Final Four appearances {see this}. North Carolina has made it to the Final Four an impressive 18 times (tied with UCLA for most), while Duke has the third-most Final Four appearances, with 15.

The Atlantic Coast Conference is known almost universally as the ACC. The ACC came about as a result of a mass exodus of 7 then-members of the Southern Conference in 1953. Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina, and Wake Forest were those 7 schools. The 7 left primarily because of the Southern Conference’s ban on post-season play (ie, college football Bowl games). Bylaws were ratified for the Atlantic Coast Conference in June, 1953. In December, 1953 an 8th school joined – Virginia, from the Metro Conference. In early 1954, the first season of ACC Basketball began. Unlike, say, the Big Ten [which is my next map in this series], the ACC has always had a Basketball Tournament to decide the conference champion.

The make-up of the ACC remained static for 19 years, until 1971, when South Carolina left to become an Independent (South Carolina is now in the SEC). The ACC operated with 7 members until 1978, when Georgia Tech joined from the Metro Conference. The total number of member schools reached nine with the addition of Florida State, also formerly from the Metro Conference, in July 1991. This 9 school set-up lasted until 2004/05, when there was a big shake-up within the ACC and the Big East…Miami and Virginia Tech jumped from the Big East to the ACC in 2004, and Boston College followed suit in 2005. The latter school’s presence making it the first occasion of an ACC member-school being from north of the Mason-Dixon line. That made it 12 teams in the ACC, and that is how it has remained. The make-up of the two divisions, Atlantic and Coastal, can be seen on the map page, with the teams’ profile boxes split up by division, and arranged top to bottom alphabetically.

On the map page, team profile boxes are at the right. Each team’s profile box includes…primary logo; full name of school; location of main campus, basketball venue; year of the school’s establishment; year of the establishment of the school’s varsity basketball team; undergraduate enrollment; ACC Basketball titles (and year of last title); seasons spent in ACC Basketball; NCAA Basketball Tournament titles (and year of last title); NCAA Final Four appearances (and year of last Final Four appearance), and total number of NCAA Basketball Tournament appearances (and year of last appearance). Plus I squeezed in each team’s coach, and years he has spent coaching there. Then there is an interior photo of the team’s arena. Above the team’s arena photo is listed their 2009-10 avergae attendance. Finally, I have included a photo of the team’s most recent away basketball jersey that I could find. I stuck with away jerseys, out of both aesthetic reasons (white jerseys being bland and boring), and frankly, out of necessity, because some schools don’t even seem to make their men’s basketball team’s home white jerseys available for purchase on the Internet (and I am not going to spend my time cobbling together home white jerseys out of blank jersey templates, logos, segments of photos, and my drawing program, like I was forced to do with two teams, Rutgers and Providence, on my Big East basketball map {here}. The one exception ended up being with Maryland – I used Maryland’s alternate, yellow-with-red-and-black-trim jersey (it was the only jersey they sell – they aren’t wearing red away jerseys this year, but instead, black; and they are wearing their yellow jerseys often – home and away).

On the map itself are the city locations of the teams. At the lower left of the map page are the final standings for 2010 ACC Basketball; a listing of the 2 ACC teams that were nationally ranked by the AP (Duke at #3 and Maryland at #20); as well as a listing of the 6 ACC teams that qualified for the 2010 NCAA Basketball Tournament (Duke, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Wake Forest, Clemson, and Florida State), their seeding in the tournament, and how far the team went in the tournament. As mentioned, Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke went all the way to win Duke’s fourth national championship (it was Coach K’s fourth national title with Duke as well). The Blue Devils were just able to fend off Cinderella-team Butler in the March Madness final, by a 61-59 score. Before that, Duke had also won the ACC Tournament, beating Georgia Tech 65-61 in the ACC final.

At the lower left of the map page are 2009-10 average home attendances, venue capacities, and percent capacities of ACC teams. {source – pdf of 2009-10 NCAA basketball attendance (}. The best-drawing team in the ACC in 2009-10 was, once again, North Carolina, who averaged 17,786 per game. But the Tar Heels had a real poor season by their standards, not even qualifying for March Madness, and were only able to fill the 21,750-capacity Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, NC to a 81.8% capacity. Maryland had the second-best attendance in the ACC last season, pulling in an average of 16,792 per game, to a respectable 93.6% capacity at the ComCast Center in College Park, MD. Best percent capacity was, of course, Duke, who once again played to 100% capacity in their small, raucous, and visitor-unfriendly Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, NC. If you are wondering why a college basketball program as prominent as Duke only plays in a 9,314-seat arena, well, Duke athletics certainly does not need to rely on ticket sales to keep their sports programs viable…Duke is a private university with an endowment at $4.8 billion , making the school the tihird-most-endowed school in the US [#1 is Michigan, #2 is Columbia]. This flush state of affairs for the school was the initial result of tobacco money from the Duke Endowment, which saw the school change it’s name from Trinity College to Duke University in 1924. Besides, if Duke built a larger arena they would very likely wreck their home-court vibe and run the risk of not selling out games. Because after all, Duke, in Durham, is just 11 miles away from Chapel Hill and the North Carolina Tar Heels, and NC definitely has a larger fan base.
Photo credits -
Boston College…Conte Forum photo from, here. Jersey, at College online store, here.
Clemson…Littlejohn Coliseum photo from, here. Jersey from, here.
Duke…Cameron Indoor Stadium photo, submitted by en1044 at thread ‘USA – College Basketball Arenas’, here.
Florida State…{note, thanks to for date of est. of FSU bk}. Donald L. Tucker Center photo from, here (full panorama image). Jersey from, here.
Georgia Tech…Alexander Memorial Coliseum photo, Getty Images at, here. Jersey at
Maryland…Comcast Center photo by Mike Haw at, here. Jersey from, here.
Miami…Bank United center photo from, here. Jersey from, here.
North Carolina…Dean Smith Center photo from Arthletics/Facilities, here. Jersey from, here.
North Carolina State…RBC Center photo by User B at, here. Jersey from, here.
Virginia…John Paul Jones Arena photo from the University of Virginia vioa ESPN, here. Jersey from, here.
Virginia Tech…Cassell Coliseum photo submitted by en1044 at thread ‘USA – College Basketball Arenas’, here. Jersey from CollegeBasketballStore, here.
Wake Forest…photo of “The Joel” from, here. Jersey from College, here.

Thanks to the contributors at, ‘Atlantic Coast Conference‘.
Thanks to, for attendance figures.

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