It's been 3 goals in 2 games since I started blogging again, this can't be a coincidence surely. I like to think not, so here I am again on a Wednesday blogging away. This edition will feature a preview of group A in the World Cup and a bit on The Masters which starts tomorrow.
After an important win last week at Annan we somehow scraped another 2-1 win at home to Berwick on Saturday. Against 10 men for all of the second half we finally got an equaliser in the 89th minute followed by a winner in injury time. It was tough on Berwick, but that is football sometimes, and I'm sure it has happened to my team before. In the game, the red card was something I personally have never seen before. A player was sent off for aggressive celebrating(allegedly). Apparently some sort of aggressive gesture was made to the crowd, but I didn't see it as I was too busy shouting at defenders. Pretty standard really.
Anyway, with that win under our belt we moved 5 points clear from 5th place in our playoff spot. With 4 games to go it puts us in a good position now and we need to probably win 2 of our remaining games to make sure. Hopefully we are coming good at the right time of the season, personally I'd like to score a few more goals before the Summer.
The Weatherston World Cup Preview - Group A
Group A (FIFA rankings)
Brazil - Brazil have a fantastic selection of playmakers and attacking midfielders to choose from but they can be vulnerable at the back with the attacking football they play. Players like Ramires and Fernandinho will be crucial to the balance of the team in midfield if they play. They have fantastic attacking full backs in Marcelo and Dani Alves, and should have strong central defense pairing with 2 of Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Dante. They might lack a top class striker, but Fred performed well in last years Confederations cup and can provide goals. They are one of the favourites.
Key Man - Neymar, he is the star of the team with his skill and pace. He will be the pin up boy for Brazil this year and they are relying on a big tournament from him. He needs to have a good WC to prove to the world he is as good as the Brazilians have been saying.
Croatia - Croatia qualified by beating Iceland in the playoffs as they struggled through a group containing Belgium and Serbia. They aren't as good as they once were, but they do still have some top players that on their day can make the difference. Mario Mandzukic is the top scorer in Bundesliga this season and is a big threat upfront with his strength and aerial ability. Nikica Jelavic might not be in his best form, but getting games for Hull will make sure he is match fit going into the tournament.Ivan Rakitic has been in great form for Sevilla this season also, as has Dejan Lovren for Southampton. They could spring a surprise, but they would need to improve drastically on their qualifying performances.
Key Man - Luka Modric, the little play maker makes things tick at Real Madrid alongside Xabi Alonso, he will have a huge part to play in this Croatia team, if he is on form he is a fantastic midfielder. He can make things happen and get Croatia out their group.
Mexico - Mexico just scrapped into the WC virtue of a playoff against New Zealand, after they were beaten by USA, Costa Rica and Honduras in qualifying. They lack any real stars with their stars of previous years, Rafael Marquez and Gerardo Torrado, both ageing. I'd be surprised if the get through the groups as they don't have stand out performers, although the 100 capped Andres Guardado(Bayer Leverkusen) could provide a threat from the left wing. They have plenty experience at the back with Salcido and Marquez, but they will be vulnerable to any pace from opposition.
Key Man - Javier Hernandez, the Man Utd striker hasn't had many games this season, but when he does play he is a pure goalscorer. He has good pace, and makes great runs in behind. He knows where the goal is and that is important in a tournament. Needs to service, might not get it in this Mexico team.
Cameroon - After winning a group with Libya, Congo DR and Togo, Cameroon went on to beat Tunisia in a 2 legged playoff to qualify for the WC. 'The Indomitable Lions' were always known as the biggest threat from Africa, but not anymore and I struggle to see them making an impact this year. They don't have many names that are familiar to British football fans, but Alex Song is one who can play holding midfield and will be comfortable on the ball and strong against his opponents. Stephane Mbia is a strong defender, but he isn't great, and unfortunately he might be their best. Maxim Choupo-Moting is a regular goalscorer in the Bundesliga, so he could provide a threat upfront, but Cameroon will need to play well as a full team if they have any chance of progressing.
Key Man - Samuel Eto'o is still the talisman of Cameroon. He is 33 now and has amassed 115 caps scoring 55 goals. He was one of the best strikers in the world, but not anymore. If he can find his form of old he could provide Cameroon with a spark, but Mourinho will tell you he hasn't been at it this season, and he might be 36, so I think it's too late for him to lead his country to a great WC.
Teams to progress - Brazil and Croatia
The golf season begins for real this weekend with the players heading to Augusta for the first major of the year. The green jacket is the thing everybody in golf is after, it is so iconic and winning at Augusta is every childhood golfers dream.
With Tiger Woods out injured and nobody really dominating golf in the way he used to this is a wide open championship. Rory Mcilroy will start as favourite but there are so many golfers who can win it that it makes the betting market wide open.
Avoiding the obvious, here is my 3 players to look out for this weekend!
Patrick Reed - At 23 this is his first Masters, but he doesn't lack confidence and he went to university at Augusta State and therefore he has played the course before. He won the WGC Cadillac earlier this year at Doral which is a big tournament at which he proclaimed afterwards that he is one of the top 5 golfers in the world. He has won 3 times in the last year, and goes into this confident he can compete. Don't be surprised to see him up there. Odds - 55/1
Jordan Spieth - Another youngster who burst onto the PGA Tour last year with victory at the John Deere Classic. He also lost a playoff at the Wyndham Championships against the aforementioned Patrick Reed. He finished 10th on the money list and finished the year 23rd in the World rankings, after starting the year at 810. All this and he is only 20. Confidence will be high, he has the right game for the course setup at Augusta, and the fans will be behind him. Watch out for his name in the leaderboard, it won't be a surprise. Odds - 40/1
Stephen Gallacher - The Scotsman is 39 now, but he is in the form of his life it would seem the last year. This will be his first experience of Augusta, but he should have a game that suits the course. He has already won this year, defending his title in Dubai. He won't be one of the favourites this weekend, and if I'm honest I'd be surprised if he wins, but a place isn't unlikely. He is one of the best long iron players which suits Augusta, so if he can get his putter hot you never know. It is a shame Martin won't be there to support, but I can support Stephen instead and hope he has a great 4 days. Odds - 200/1