Friday, 23 October 2009

Europa League Permutations

Theoretically if Roma win in Rome and Basle see off Sofia then the table will be:

  1. Basle 9pts
  2. Roma 7pts
  3. Fulham 5pts
  4. Sofia 1pt

Fulham have to beat Sofia at CC so if Basle beat Roma in Italy, the table will be like this:
  1. Basle 12pts - Qualified
  2. Fulham 8pts
  3. Roma 7pts
  4. Sofia 1pt
This means Fulham are likely to need to beat Basle in Switzerland to qualify - but bear in mind that they will already be through and might not be playing their strongest side.
If Basle draw in Rome then the table will look like this:
  1. Basle 10pts
  2. Roma 8pts
  3. Fulham8pts
  4. Sofia 1pt
And a win in Switzerland would likely be necessary to qualify along with Roma who will presumably win in Bulgaria.

If Roma beat Basle then the table will look like this:
  1. Roma 10pts
  2. Basle 9pts
  3. Fulham 8pts
  4. Sofia 1pt

Which again would mean that Fulham would have to win in Switzerland.
However if Fulham get a draw in Italy, the table will look like this at round four:
  1. Basle 9pts
  2. Fulham 6 pts
  3. Roma 5 pts
  4. Sofia 1pt

If Roma beat Basle in Italy then the post round 5 table should look like this:
  1. Fulham 9pts
  2. Basle 9pts
  3. Roma 8pts
  4. Sofia 1pt
This means that a draw in Switzerland will be good enough thanks to our head to head records.

If Roma and Basle draw in round 5 the table will look like this:
  1. Basle 10pts
  2. Fulham 9pts
  3. Roma 6pts
  4. Sofia 1pt
This means that Fulham will need to get at least a draw to make sure that they qualify, but can still lose and qualify as long as they have better goal difference than Roma. Currently Roma's GD is 0 and Fulham's is +1. It will essentially mean who puts more past Sofia in the final two games.

If Basle win in Italy, then the table will look like this:
  1. Basle 12pts - qualified
  2. Fulham 9pts - qualified
  3. Roma 5pts
  4. Sofia 1pt
That looks good. I have assumed that Sofia are going to get tonked in their final three matches, otherwise I would have been here modelling all night.

IN SUMMARY: In most cases Fulham will have to win the final two games to qualify. This is unfortunate as Manchester United come visiting CC in the game after the Swiss adventure and Roy is likely to prioritise the league game. But if Fulham get a point in Rome then it will be a crunch game between Roma and Basle and we favour the Swiss.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Fulham 1 -1 Roma

It shows how far the team has come in a few years that Fulham are disappointed to be coming away from a match against Italian giants Roma with just a draw, but that is what has happened tonight. Had Fulham managed to hold out for another 10 seconds then they would have recorded a famous victory in unlikely circumstances. But an improbable finish right at the death from Roma's full back unluckily found its way past Schwarzer via John Paintsil's head, when the Italians couldn't even get past the big Aussie keeper with a generous penalty.
First thing's first. Arriving at the ground 10 minutes before the game there was already a buzz but the situation around our seats was very, very strange. In the rows both in front and behind us were a massive group of deaf teenagers, most of which were donned in the same Fulham FC weatherproof jackets. If that wasn't surreal enough, anyone who wasn't part of that group sat around us were Italian, ostentatiously wearing Fulham scarves. Were these Roma fans who couldn't get tickets in the away end or Italian football fans interested in watching their compatriots? I only got a small inclination that it was the former. It certainly wasn't like a typical game though and this is before it has even kicked off!
I don't know how strong Roma's starting 11 were, but only five of Fulham's could be deemed 'first XI'. Not that you could tell in the first half as Fulham set a quick tempo and provided more attacking impetus than in most of the other home games put together this season. When Hangeland nodded in Riise's (7th) corner it was no more than the home side deserved.
I can only assume that several of Roma's players were so entranced by the beauty of Craven Cottage that they are keen to play here more often. So keen were they to get into a Fulham shirt that they were trying to take them off the back of the players during the match. I've never seen a side engane in so much cynical shirt pulling. They could have one of their own if they stop off in the club shop.
The second half had far more of an Italian flavour as Fulham played far too deep considering Roma didn't appear to have a great deal of pace upfront. Still the home side might have scored on the break had a quick half time shower had not made the ball zip along the now slick pitch.
The penalty, when it came, was down the other end, so hard to see. We could see the Roma player (their Riise) go down theatrically though and the ensuing rumble around the ref and the penalty ref. The roars that met Schwarzer's impressove penalty save would have buoyed poor Stephen Kelly who had played well until the red card, but it did still mean backs against the wall for the last 20 minutes. As seems to happen at Fulham, they just couldn't hold on and a 90+3 equaliser, after a stingy three minutes if injury time was shown, is a sickener. Imagine what might have happened had the first XI been playing?

Attending - Me & Jarrod

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Fulham 2 - 0 Hull City

I was surprised at the mass turnout at Craven Cottage last night - nearly 24,000 - considering it was a 'midweek' televised game, although looking back last year's encounter was similarly attended on a Wednesday night. Of course some of this is down to the £5 additional ticket(s) offer for season ticket holders and the somewhat sudden 130 year anniversary 'celebration' being held on the evening. Cynical marketing ploy? Who knows?
Being chosen as the Monday night game, especially with a Thursday Europa League match, seems particularly Fulham-ish but I think the fact that both Fulham and Hull have American players means a later kick off time would garner more interest in the states. At least for those without 9-5 jobs over there.
Still I availed myself of the £5 ticket offer and took my sister and father to the game as they happened to be visiting me that week. They became the typical football tourists too (see picture). It did mean a seat shift though and we ended up in H4, seven rows from the front in apparently 'covered' seats but I doubt the roof would have kept us dry had it rained. The front of the Hammy End is very odd as the stand dips below pitch level. This means that those sat in the front seats are literally watching it at pitch level. Of course that far down the front makes it nigh on impossible to gauge the game properly, which was particularly irksome in the first half as all the action (bar one important Johnny Paintsil improvised overhead clearance) was down the Hull End. The goal eventually came, although it didn't exactly register that Bobby Z's header had looped in, and the first half ended on a high. I thought the first 45 had dragged, but the family enjoyed the experience.
Second half we had more of the same, only this time we could actually see what was going on. Jimmy Bullard's introduction to the game was greeted with a chorus of boos which continued with his every touch, a response which has drawn a mixed reaction from some quarters. As far as I'm concerned the fans had every right to boo a player who had threatened to go on strike, despite being looked after for 18 injured months, but at the same time you can see why Bullard took Hull's coin. I think he will regret how he did it at when he looks back at his career though.
Fortunately for anxious Fulham fans, Kamara made it two soon after the substitutions after good work from Zamora and that allowed the fans to have a bit more fun singing songs at Bullard's expense. Hull barely improved though and Mark Schwarzer had nothing to do but collect a few high balls played into the box. Hull were abject, but they were particularly bad last year at the Cottage and still somehow managed to waltz away with 3 points.
Performances of note in the Fulham team were Duff's and Baird's and Zamora did more right than wrong, although you'd hope so given that he was up against Kevin Kilbane at centre half despite being, as far as I remember, a left winger. When Nevland came on for Kamara he seemed to be making the same runs into the same space as Bobby Z, so perhaps Woy should keep them apart. But it was hard to judge the team given the opposition were so bad. Roma on Thursday should be of sterner stuff.

Attendance: Me +2, and 2 of Jarrod's mates. No Ish or Jarrod.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Now there's cut price Roma tickets!

I know attending Fulham matches hasn't exactly left me massively out of pocket over the last three years, but the news that Seetickets is yet again offering cheaper tickets to the Europa League tie than those the club has already sold to fans leaves a bit of a bad taste in the mouth. Fulham fans who bought the first 10,000 tickets were 'rewarded' by only having to pay £25 instead of £30 for the Roma tie, yet it seems you only have to be on a poxy free newsletter to a ticket website to be offered entry for just £15. Although you do have to sit in P7 for the privilege.
I'll be buggered if I buy a ticket for the Sofia match early when they come on sale. I'll wait until Seetickets are offering them in exchange for 10 bottle tops.
It appears that European football may not be the draw and money spinner that the club are looking for. They should make all tickets to the Sofia match £5 to get the bloody place full and bouncing.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Fulham 1 - 0 Basel

Walking to the Cottage for its first Europa League 'proper' game on Thursday night was the first time this year that things really felt autumnal. The sky is starting to darken at 7pm now and the pavements looking untidier and tidier at the same time with piles of crisp leaves hiding the piles of crisp packets through Hammersmith. The temperature has also dipped slightly so I wore my over-large white hoody coat, which I didn't quite need but was pleased to have.
As I got into the ground, the crowd at the back of the Hammy End were enthusiastic and noisy which I liked as I sat with around five H7 rows to myself and read the special programme. Then I realised there was another noise. Almost like a buzzing in the back of my head. Looking up it dawned on me that the away fans in the JH stand were making some kind of noise which didn't quite register on my ears but was annoying none the less. They soon stopped it and made more typical noises throughout the game, but it was a good pre-match warm up for both fans.
It didn't appear that the home team had such good preparation though, as busy Basel were all over the pitch and controlling the game. Indeed they should have been up at half time had one of their players not managed to blast the ball over the bar from about eight yards. In truth, the game was not holding my attention in what had been a long week and it was particularly disappointing to see some of the new players for the first time. Stephen Kelly appears to have Glen Johnson disease, handy enough going forward, but clumsy looking when defending. Bjorne Helge Riise was tidy but unexciting. Jonathan Greening seemed to be a bad facsimile of Danny Murphy - doing similar things, but worse. More than once when he was involved, the crowd murmured 'Jesus' and I'm not entirely sure it was down to his similarity to the popular image of the son of god or his general sloppy play.
This being a Woy Hodgson side there were no substitutions at half time and little changed until the crowd moaned a little when Dempsey misplaced a pass. Somehow the ball came back to him almost immediately and he hit a frustrated almost petulant shot from 30 yards which almost worried the keeper, but at least it meant the home side had had a shot in anger.
A couple minutes later and Fulham were ahead. They played their first bit of football all night with a flowing move which was dispatched into the back of the net by the increasingly prolific Danny Murphy. And that was that. Basel huffed and puffed, but couldn't get the equaliser they probably deserved.
It was a night to forget for Fulham's front two. Bobby Zamora had another one of those games where he would do something sublime and immediately follow it up with something ridiculous to spoil everything, which didn't help his already fractious relationship with the Craven Cottage faithful. Meanwhile, apart from finding it impossible to read the few flick ons that Zamora won, Andrew Johnson appears to have lost all his pace. He is no longer lightening, merely fast and as many defenders are also fast, AJ needs a couple more strings to his bow if he is going to break a dozen goals this year.
In a way, it was the antithesis of the Arsenal game - didn't play particularly well, but won 1-0 and took the three points.
Attendance: Me and Jarrod.

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