Happy Monday! Here’s Rob with more from Brazil, as Sao Paulo try to cement themselves as title challengers in the CM World League
In part 10 we had slowly started to find our feet and thanks to nine wins out of thirteen games we had climbed to the top of the table, however with only seven points between 1st and 12th things are still very close.
Our next opponents are Borussia Dortmund, they have a centre back pairing of Jurgen Kohler and Michael Duberry, Nicolas Anelka is up front and a young John Oster is on the wing. Unfortunately for them Christer gets an got in the first minute, Pirri gets another in the second half and Christer rounds off an MOM performance with a second three minutes from the end. That game ended up being a lot easier than I thought.
A week later and we travel to England to face Coventry, they made it to the Premier League a season before us after winning Division 2 and Division 1 in back to back seasons. What looked like being a straight forward afternoon is complicated by Pirlo’s sending off, but we manage to hang on for another win.
As we move into December it’s Corinthians at home. They are still languishing at the bottom of the table. They make more of a game of it than I was expecting but when you concede four goals you usually lose.
Over to Italy next and a trip to the Stadio Delle Alpi against Jason McAteer and his Torino side. They stifle us for 75 minutes until Pirri pops up with another goal, his third in four games. Fowler then scores two goals in ten minutes, one at the wrong end as we sneak a 2-1 win.
We face another Italian team next in Sampdoria, their strike force of Bruce Dyer and Emile Heskey are rated as two of the team’s star players. I don’t know who our star players are but da Costa, Denilson and Fowler must be up there.
The Saturday before Christmas day sees us head to Germany to face Bayern Munich, we beat them in the League Cup final last season and Duncan Ferguson has seven goals in eleven games for them so I’m expecting a tough tie. It seems I was worried for no reason Pirri’s fine form continues with a brace and Christer and Fowler round off an impressive 4-0 away win.
The traditional Boxing Day match is against Monaco. They beat us 0-2 in the first game of the season thanks to strikes from Ikpeba and Trezeguet. They have sold Ikpeba to Barcelona and replaced him with Robbie Keane. We have payback on our minds and thanks to early goals from Fowler and Pirri we reverse the scoreline from the first match.
The last game of 2000 is at home to Athletic Bilbao and something funny is happening at the Morumbi which has nothing to do with the game which we win easily thanks to Denilson and Fowler. The attendance for the match is stated as 298,741 which is 148,741 more than the stadium holds, not only that, I get a message saying that was the lowest attendance at a home match, weird.
The first Saturday of January is FA Cup 3rd round time, we are away to Newcastle who we beat 2-1 in the league earlier in the season. It’s a really open game with both teams having plenty of chances but Zetti in their goal and Richie in ours are playing well. It looks to be heading to a 0-0 draw until captain David Batty scores in the 84th minute. Then Fowler scores in the 86th minute to take it to a replay.
Back to the League and we are still having attendance problems at the Morumbi. Thankfully on the pitch it is business as usual as we brush Stuttgart aside.
The lack of goals during the first match is made up for during the third round replay. Seven goals in total, fortunately we score five of them to move into the fourth round.
Our next game is against second place Fiorentina at the Artemio Franchi. Eddy Bembuanakeve is in fine form in the Fiorentina goal and it looks like it will be our first draw of the season until Rigobert Song gets sent off in the 83rd minute and we manage to make the extra man count Fabiano da Costa scoring in the 88th minute.
Barcelona haven’t been the usual dominant force since their move to Serie A, they are eyeing up a couple of our Italian players to try and improve their chances but I’m not selling. These two have been brilliant since joining and Pirri is an original squad member from the Division 3 days, he needs to see this adventure through to the end.
Our FA Cup 4th round tie is against Racing Club Lens, I feel like we get these guys every year in one of the cup competitions. Denilson comes flying out of the blocks to score a hattrick in under 15 minutes and Fowler adds another before the half. We are into the 5th round.
We have made it to February and we score another four goals to continue our winning run in the league to make it 15 wins in a row!
A week later and we head back to St James’s Park for our league game against Newcastle. We play our first poor match in ages and deservedly go behind to a Gary Speed header just after half time. It looks like we are going to lose until Denilson gets an 81st minute equaliser against the run of play. It’s our first league draw of the season.
We have two games left to play in this update. First up is our FA Cup 5th round match against Fiorentina. As close as the game at the Artemio Franchi was this is the exact opposite. Two goals in each half takes us through easily.
The last match is against Boca. They are not doing as well as they should considering the team they have. Maybe that is what happens when despite having John Curtis, Morten Bisgaard, Stian Neset and Zinedine Zidane in your starting eleven you make Mark Kennedy your captain. Denilson’s 1st minute strike looks like it will be enough until probably my favorite player in the game Morten equalises in the 81st minute. That’s no draws in 24 games followed by 2 in the last two.
The league table after two thirds of the season is looking really good for us. An 11 point gap has been opened up thanks to those 15 wins on the bounce. Man Utd are back ahead of Fiorentina by a point and Ajax in fourth have the same points as third place but have conceded five more goals.
Next week we will have the final third of the season and hopefully a continued run in the FA Cup.