Showing posts with label friendly. Show all posts
Showing posts with label friendly. Show all posts

Monday, November 11, 2013

Wales v Finland - Saturday November 16th

The final senior international of 2013 is upon us, and the squads are in. The teams will do battle this weekend at the Cardiff City Stadium, kicking off at 6pm GMT. The game will be shown live in the UK on Sky Sports 2.

Gareth Bale challenges Roni Porokara in 2009

Finland squad

Lukas Hradecky (Brøndby)
Niki Mäenpää (VVV Venlo)
Jesse Joronen (Fulham)

Jarkko Hurme (TPS)
Joona Toivio (Molde)
Veli Lampi (Arsenal)
Niklas Moisander (Ajax)
Petri Pasanen (Århus)
Jukka Raitala (Heerenveen)
Juhani Ojala (Terek Grozny)
Jere Uronen (Helsingborgs)
Kari Arkivuo (Häcken)

Tim Sparv (Greuther Fürth)
Roman Eremenko (Rubin Kazan)
Sakari Mattila (HJK)
Alexander Ring (Kaiserslautern)
Kasper Hämäläinen (Lech Poznan)
Rasmus Schüller (HJK)
Perparim Hetemaj (Chievo)

Teemu Pukki (Celtic)
Riku Riski (Hønefoss)
Joel Pohjanpalo (Aalen)
Tim Väyrynen (Honka)

The Finland starting XI is:

Arkivuo - Ojala - Moisander - Uronen
Ring - Sparv - Schüller
Riski - Eremenko

Sparv v Ramsey - the rematch

Wales squad

Wayne Hennessey (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Danny Ward (Liverpool)
Owain Fon Williams (Tranmere Rovers)

James Collins (West Ham United)
Ben Davies (Swansea City)
Chris Gunter (Reading)
Ashley Richards (Swansea City)
Samuel Ricketts (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Neil Taylor (Swansea City)
Rhoys Wiggins (Charlton Athletic)
Ashley Williams (Swansea City)

Joe Allen (Liverpool)
Owain Tudur Jones (Hibernian)
Emyr Huws (Manchester City)
David Cotterill (Doncaster Rovers)
Jack Collison (West Ham United)
Andy King (Leicester City)
Joe Ledley (Celtic)
Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)

Simon Church (Charlton Athletic)
Jermaine Easter (Millwall)
Hal Robson-Kanu (Reading)
Sam Vokes (Burnley)

In the Finland squad, Tim Väyrynen wins a first senior call-up after finishing the domestic season as top scorer - he's also in the U21 squad to face England on Thursday evening.

In eleven previous meetings between the sides, with both sides having four wins, with three draws. The last meeting ended 2-1 to Finland in Helsinki, Porokara and Moisander for Finland, Craig Bellamy for Wales.

Highlights of Finland 2-1 Wales (2010 World Cup qualifier)

Hopefully the travelling Finns will have something to cheer. Unfortunately I won't be at the game due to pre-booked commitments... Oi Suomi On!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Arsenal 3-1 Manchester City - thoughts (and photos)

After all the hype, all the money, all the dissent... Arsenal won their final pre-season friendly against Manchester City by three goals to one. The game was obviously still pre-season, nothing particularly meaty or controversial. The match was entertaining, with a few sideshows, and most of the attendees will have gone home happy.

At the final whistle

I'd started the day early, breakfasting at a BBQ diner in an abattoir in Kallio, with a Karhu of course. Shortly after the real boozing began, with €2.80 beers going down a storm. After a spot of bar-hopping, we found that the Olympiastadion had a fan area open, with plenty of bars, live music and people... At that point it was obvious that there were a lot more Arsenal shirts than Man City - the clear tone for the evening.

There was a good atmosphere, but with no amount of cringe. In the seats, under the big screen in the Pohjoiskaarre (north end), the teams came out... To the theme tune from Superman. Oh dear. From where I was, there were red and white shirts everywhere, and plenty of noise. Some of the older Arsenal chants were sung, in heavy Finnish accents. The jerseys had Wilshere and Cazorla on the back, while even Mrs ETS donned a 1970s home shirt.

Arsenal's early goal helped proceedings, Theo Walcott beating Joe Hart after Ramsey's great pass. It gave the crowd some momentum and kept the few City fans quiet. By half-time, everyone was thirsty for a beer, and although the option was Carlsberg, they did good business at €7 a pint. In the second half, goals from Ramsey and Giroud were lapped up, while Negredo's goal pointed out where the blue fans were (there weren't many).

Cameo appearances from Samir Nasri (booed heavily) and former Finland U21 international Carl Jenkinson added some more pantomime to the proceedings before the final whistle. The photo below will help cheer up any Gooner.

At the final whistle, the customary presentations were made on the pitch, to some music from Rocky IV... Walcott won man of the match, and the players trudged off - but there was time for Jenkinson to do a lap of honour before heading off. Carl had spoken to the Arsenal website about his difficult decision in choosing England, but was warmly cheered by the spectators. He threw his shirt into the crowd, and seemed pretty moved...

The aftermath of the game revealed some of the feeling in Finland - an attendance of over 39000 football fans who could have been elsewhere, especially as the much-hyped SuperMatsi in Jyväskylä got JJK's second lowest attendance of the year. There were even noises in HS that Finland would love to host a 39th game, if the Premier League ever rebooted that idea (surely not).

For me, it was nice to see my team in Finland, and a nice way to spend a weekend. There were a few familiar faces, and nice to catch up with friends and family. I was asked if I'd fly over just for Finnish matches, and of course I would - not this year though, I've seen four matches in Finland in the last 9 weeks and I'm skint.

Who's that handsome chap in the shades at the top of the group shot?

A nice weekend. Hopefully Arsenal will be back for real next time. Preferably in Kuopio!

In case you forgot

Highlights of Arsenal 3-1 Manchester City

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Luxembourg 0-3 Finland match report

After the immense performance in Spain, the Finnish squad had to return to planet Earth to face Luxembourg in the Grand Duchy. An away friendly against a side ranked 151st in the world is a different challenge, and one that required concentration in front of 856 paying spectators.

Spending 90 minutes defending against Spain is a totally different challenge to being expected to dominate, and Finland did a professional job against enthusiastic but limited opposition. The midfield saw plenty of the ball, with time to play key passes and make runs into the box to support the Golden Retriever-esque Teemu Pukki, who covered plenty of ground and deserves a treat.

However it took 43 minutes to get on the scoresheet, Alex Ring scoring his first international goal having already hit the post from close range. At half-time, Niki Mäenpää was replaced by Lukas Hradecky, and Pukki was withdrawn in place of Mikael Forssell. 

 Alex Ring takes the plaudits for his goal

It took four minutes for the goal tally to double, Kasper Hämäläinen was fouled in the box, and Forssell stepped up to score his 29th international goal from the spot (now only two behind Jari Litmanen's all-time record). Forssell's first goal for Finland was also in a friendly in Luxembourg. Good omen?

Forssell puts Finland 2-0 up

Luxembourg were reduced to ten men after Chris Philipps was harshly sent off for a late challenge, and a rash of substitutions and silly bookings slowed the pace of the game. Njazi Kuqi came on as a late sub and did his best to rack up as many offsides as possible. The third goal came in the final minute of regulation time, Joona Toivio having a clear run at a corner and heading into the net.

Kari Arkivuo gets stuck in

And so that's Finland's international schedule finished until June. While this win was expected, the draw in Spain has raised expectations for the side. The double-header against Belarus is crucial, and Finland still have a realistic chance of finishing third in the group. FIFA ranking points should also be boosted by the two matches, and hopefully a rise of a handful of positions at least.

The match did get some wider coverage for a bold piece of skill from Hradecky, captured by friend of the blog Tuomas Sonck (better known as Tumpero).

 Lukas Hradecky shows some silky skills

There are also highlights now available, feel free to watch below, again via Tumpero.

Highlights of Luxembourg 0-3 Finland

Teemu Pukki chases a long ball