Thursday, December 21, 2006

Roberto Gotta in Italy

Opposites attract, apparently. Which of course would mean - if you forgive the personal note - that I should be attracted by those who use short, direct, simple sentences, and I'm not.

Opposites met on Tuesday evening in Bologna, in what was also a top-of-the-table clash in the Serie B.

Serie A Report: Ten-men Inter Break Lazio Jinx

Serie A Wrap: Inter March On, Roma Doesn't Give Up

Primera Liga Wednesday Wrap: Osasuna Make It Six In A Row

Recreativo Humiliate Real At The Bernabeu

A fabulous display from Recreativo Huelva saw them thump Real Madrid 3-0 at the Bernabeu, and doom Los Merengues to a very bitter and long Christmas break.

Nowak To Be Bradley’s Assistant

And who's the new D.C. United coach? Why Tommy Soehn, of course!!

Boca agree £13m Gago fee with Real Madrid

Lawro's Premiership Predictions

Carling Cup: Newcastle 0-1 Chelsea

Yet another winner for Drogba...

Kevin Nolan column

Blame Dowie says Charlton chairman,,27-2470207,00.html

As another season comes to a close, where the domestic game in Argentina go from here?

If everything had turned out the way we all expected it to, December 10 would have been the final day of the Apertura season. Boca would have been champions and Horacio Elizondo, a referee now known the world over, would have retired after officiating his last match.

But football is never that simple. Boca lost their match at home and found themselves with the same number of points as Estudiantes de la Plata, who had won their last game. A midweek play-off would determine the championship and Estudiantes prevailed, coming from behind to win 2-1. "The coach always has to win and when that doesn't happen, he has to go," admitted the Boca coach Ricardo La Volpe as he left the stadium - and his job.

Rangers clamp down on sectarian abuse

Rangers have suspended a supporters' club for missile throwing and sectarian singing during their Scottish Premierleague game against Hearts last month.,,1977089,00.html

Marina Hyde Column

They may have had the rare distinction of prompting a Mourinho apology, but Everton's legal threats set a dangerous precedent.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Fiorentina Observed

I had the pleasure of watching the Milan/Fiorentina Serie A clash last Saturday and as a supporter of la Viola I thought I'd post some musings. The team had a slow start to the season but have picked up a lot of momentum thus far, and had they not been saddled with the undoubtably deserved but poorly explained 15 point penalty in the Juve scandal last summer they'd currently be standing 4th. This team plays in the English style, flat 442 and features a classic big man/small man forward pairing in Toni and Mutu, though Toni certainly does offer more touch, movement and vision than your typical Frankenstein target man. They're strong up the middle, they play wide and they seem to be full of confidence. I think they’d be a great matchup with any of the English teams in this years Champions league, had they not squandered this year’s entry through massive corruption and dishonesty. The Milan match was a striking demonstration of how both form and class have everything to do with getting results. Milan appeared to be a shambles with a makeshift back line, a midfield that seems to have lost its way, a target striker feeling the weight of expectation and a coach who seems petrified of bad results and has effectively neutered the swashbuckling aspect that can make this squad so good. The 2 headed monster of Gattuso and Seedorf seemed completely jumbled; they were constantly fighting for space going forward, not tracking back enough, not providing Pirlo the space he needs to pass the ball well and most criminally of all crowding Kaka too far forward to allow him to make runs. Most of the run of play favored Fiorentina who were able to move the ball forward very directly through Mutu and the underrated Montolivo and twice took deserved leads through Mutu, once from the penalty spot and once from a beautifully worked move that he concluded by firing home from well outside the box. Both times Milan were able to respond through moments of individual brilliance from Gilardino who was able to pounce on loose balls in the box but was otherwise starved for service. Once could say that the 2-2 result was flattering to Milan but to do so would overlook the fact that one of the advantages of strong financial backing is that the cabinet is stocked with players of such quality that they can save points from otherwise dismal outings (hello Chelski). Two final notes: First, while much has been made of the lack of fan support in Serie A this season, the Fiorentina Tifosi have continued to make their case as the most dedicated fan base in Italy. The Stadio Artemio Franchi has been packed to the gills for most of the season. Secondly, Fiorentina gaffer Cesare Prandelli seems to be fully in command of his squad and his supporters. Sporting a long greasy mane and a euro-trash leather motorcycle, he looks like he should be smoking cigarettes in a highway rest stop bathroom or perhaps asking the President for a billion dollars to fight global poverty. -RBS

Prandelli and Bono: Separated at birth?

Chants of the Year

"World Cup - and you ****** it up!"
All four sides of the ground during Everton-Arsenal game, including away fans, chanting at Graham Poll, who showed three yellow cards to the same player in the World Cup.

Liverpool - Arsenal Postponed Due to Fog

Rafael Benítez and Arsène Wenger were united in frustration last night as the postponement of Liverpool’s Carling Cup quarter-final tie against Arsenal left both clubs facing serious fixture congestion over the next month.,,27-2512629,00.html

La Liga Report: Virtuoso Vicente Vanquishes Mallorca

Primera Liga Midweek Preview: Tricky Return For Barcelona

A test of gigantic proportions awaits Barcelona upon their return from Japan, with a clash against bogey side Atletico Madrid on Thursday set to offer a dramatic culmination to this year's La Liga action. Before that, new league leaders Sevilla must contend with Deportivo, so Real Madrid could well snatch top spot if they can pip Recreativo at the Bernabeu.

Charlton fans turn on Reed in wake of cup humiliation

Charlton lose 1-0 at The Valley to League Two Wycombe Wanderers...,,277-2512731,00.html

Inter's Mancini returns to Lazio on cloud nine

Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini returns to former club Lazio on Wednesday as the Serie A leaders look to extend their record nine match winning streak.;_ylt=AtAu5lxfuUYvOvzhciTJSl4mw7YF?slug=reu-italypreview&prov=reuters&type=lgns

Arrivederci, James, and thanks for the memories

As Bravo prepares to pull the plug on Football Italia, let's celebrate 14 years of James Richardson's unique coverage of Serie A.

Mourinho says sorry for Johnson outburst

Wednesday's rumours,,565628,00.html

Football's forgotten mission for the poor

As more and more money flows into football, perhaps some of its millionaires should remember its pious beginnings as the game of the church.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Phil Ball in Spain

Christmas is coming, some geese are getting fat. Some others are getting thinner. On Wednesday La Liga plays out its 16th week, brought forward to allow the Yuletide festivities to take place over the next two football-free weekends, but it's a midweek event to which some sides will be looking forward more than others. The fifteen games played so far have begun to sort out the sheep from the goats, but only so far as the top three positions are concerned. The rest is still up for grabs - that is to say the league title, a Champions League place, a couple of UEFA places, the King's Cup, and relegation, of course.

Howard doesn't expect to return to Manchester United

Fulham 2-1 Middlesbrough: Cottagers on the up

Another goal for McBride...

Current crop of U.S. U-17s show promise

Ivan Campo Profile

You have to love Ivan Campo- while some footballers take care to meticulously groom their sideburns or shape and spike up their hair into an unmoving hipster mullhawk (Fletcher, Carrick, and unknowingly Hyypia), Senor Campo subscribes to the "free range hair" school of thought. This refugee from a brush seems to just roll out of bed in the morning and head in to work. He is also a refugee from the razor, a fact that when taken into consideration with the above grooming thoughts leads one to fairly question his other hygiene practices (tooth brushing, showering, fingernail trimming etc). He looks like the retired out of shape footballer who has let himself go and is content to lead a life of leisure (drinking gallons, eating all the pies, and Riviera romance with women half their age). Yet Ivan is even younger than me, and a perfectly fit, able player who in an unusual reverse migration has moved from central defense to central midfield. He only looks like a slob- he doesn't play like one.

At 32 the former Spanish international is in his prime, a goal scoring threat ( goal of the year contender against Spurs early in the season), a dangerous long thrower, and an able distributor who gives great cover. And he smiles when he plays. Like Ronaldinho he loves his job. He plays like he's got the best job in the world. You want player who plays with pure joy in your side. Players like Lee Bowyer seem to channel some of their inner hate on the pitch. It begs the question of how much longer Lee's police record would be if he were a bricklayer instead of a millionaire footballer. For Campo it's all roses out on the pitch- who says you can't be a tough, hard bastard and still like flowers, puppies, and white girls named Debbie too.

Ivan won the Champions League in 2002 with Real Madrid and then moved to the Northwest of England where he has not repeated this feat with Bolton Wanderers. Unlike a lot of glamorous foreign imports to the Premiership (C. Ronaldo, David Ginola, Shevchenko), Campo tops the list of solid professionals like Tugay, George Boateng, Dietmar Hamman and who do the business and play consistently at a high level without getting all the press. These are the players who make the Premiership the best league in the world. With them they bring new ideas and a more global outlook to England. Ivan Campo's teammates affectionately nicknamed him "Gyppo" for his perceived resemblance to a gypsy. -Patrick

Carling Cup QF Preview: Liverpool-Arsenal

Serie A Team Of The Week: Round 16

Primera Liga Team Of The Week: Round 15

Bolton aim to win the mind games

For Michael Jordan read Nicolas Anelka; for Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal read El-Hadji Diouf and Kevin Davies.,,277-2509693,00.html

Steve Coppell Interview

'We hope and pray Petr Cech will soon be back in goal'

"I've always said December is the biggest test for any football club in this country," Steve Coppell murmurs intently, "and while I don't want to wish my life away I'll be glad when we get through this month. The next couple of weeks, for all sorts of reasons, are going to tell us an awful lot about this club.",,1974916,00.html

Tuesday's rumours,,1975347,00.html

James Richardson in Italy

Despite being Italy's most reviled player last season, domestic and international success has made Marco Materrazi popular again.

Sid Lowe in Spain

Sick of the shambolic Calderón and aided by Spanish television's obsession with showing their team, supporters of Atlético have finally turned their backs.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Who's scarier?

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Roy Keane

Sanford's EPL Predictions Results

Bloody hell. Not a good weekend on the prognosis front. I only got three matches correct and had zero perfect scores. The only matches that went remotely according to plan were Liverpool’s cruise over Charlton and Newcastle’s win against Watford. But perhaps Fulham will win 2-0 so I can at least claim one perfect score.

It would have been an epic weekend had the top two lost but alas, it was not to be. But hey, one out of two ain’t bad and I’ll take it. I just continue to marvel at Chelsea’s brilliance. Just how many wonder goals do they have in their repertoire? An infinite number? It would certainly appear to be the case. Bloody hell. -Sanford

Drogba's Wonder Goal at Goodison

The Insider at the Emirates Stadium

There was a time when Arsene Wenger was the coolest man in English football.

Amid the most contentious of heated incidents, his ability to stay calm and make the right decisions infuriated old foes like Sir Alex Ferguson and ensured that Arsenal were capable of competing with the best in the land on a budget that shouldn't have allowed them to even get close.

Richard Jolly at Goodison Park

Desperation, inspiration and intuition form a fearsome blend. Chelsea called upon all three to salvage a memorable and unlikely victory at Goodison Park.

English Premier League Reports

Everton slam Mourinho and demand apology

Inter stun Barcelona to win Club World Cup


Werder are 'winter champs' after Wolfsburg win

Inter go seven clear after ninth straight win

Sevilla top La Liga as Barca play in Japan

Beckham should consider Bolton, insists Allardyce

Alan Hansen's column

Sir Alex Ferguson says you don't win the title in December and he's dead right - but you can lose it.

Winning the Premiership is all about pressure: how you deal with it and how much you can apply on your opponents.

Unquestionably, the pressure is right on Manchester United after the defeat by West Ham on Sunday, which means their lead is now down to two points.