Friday, March 16, 2007

Nervous Newcastle made to pay for craven attitude

Weak when they needed to be strong, anxious when they had to be assured, Newcastle United deservedly bowed out of Europe in a small town north of Amsterdam last night. Big reputations and even bigger pay packets were made to look every bit as inflated as they are generally perceived.
http://football.guardian.co.uk/Match_Report/0,,2035497,00.html

Friday's rumours

http://football.guardian.co.uk/rumourmill/index/0,,2035752,00.html

Walcott opts for surgery as manager backs him to shoulder burden

The path from boy wonder to senior professional has its obstacles but Arsène Wenger remains convinced Theo Walcott can become one of the great players. The prodigy turns 18 today and, having arrived in the Premiership in January 2006 with the expectation that accompanied being the world's most expensive 16-year-old, the past 14 months have been mixed.
http://football.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/0,,2035323,00.html

Weekend Previews for La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, and EPL

La Liga
Recre out to test Barca's shaky defence:
http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=414664&cc=5901

Bundesliga
Schalke face new test of credentials:
http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=414622&cc=5901

Serie A
Fiorentina aim to push European bid:
http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=414619&cc=5901

English Premier League
Man U seeks to maintain lead over Chelsea as they host Bolton:
http://msn.foxsports.com/soccer/story/6576496
Team News:
http://soccernet.espn.go.com/feature?id=280562&cc=5901

Dribbling becomes a sin in Brazil

Incredibly, for a country that produced players such as Garrincha and Pele, dribbling is often considered a provocative humiliation of an opponent, a breach of fair play and even an insult to the victim's manhood.
http://sports.yahoo.com/sow/news?slug=reu-columnbrazil&prov=reuters&type=lgns

Lawro's Premiership Predictions

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/eng_prem/6437599.stm

UEFA Cup Draw

Quarter-finals - Thursday, April 5 and 12
AZ Alkmaar vs. Werder Bremen
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Osasuna
Sevilla vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Espanyol vs. Benfica

Semi-finals - Thursday, April 26 and May 3
Espanyol/Benfica vs. AZ/Bremen
Leverkusen/Osasuna vs. Sevilla/Tottenham

UEFA CUP FINAL
Hampden Park, Glasgow, May 16, 2007
Winners Semi-final One vs. Winners Semi-final

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Arsenal Hold On to Win Game of Ass at Aston Villa

I was not planning on watching this match. I had other things to do and frankly thought that it wouldn’t be the prettiest game of football. I was right. This was an ugly affair. Did anyone play well? Maybe John Carew. He had Gilberto’s number, but then Gilberto was playing out of position. And Carew’s finishing was about as good as Julio Baptista’s or Jamie Aliadiare’s. No, this was a mid-week match-up that should have been passed over in favor of folding laundry, ironing some shirts, or watching a repeat of Miami Vice. Frankly, the score should have been 4-4 with the amount of chances on offer. Arsenal’s makeshift backline of Djourou, Gallas, Gilberto, and Hoyte were woeful and Villa’s four not much better. I suppose Olaf Mellborg had a decent evening. He did make up ground after being caught out of position on a few occasions to stifle Arsenal runs into the area. But I’ll remember this non-encounter more for the continued crap form of Baptista. To put it simply, he was terrible. He had no touch, couldn’t pass, and his shooting remained absurd. The goal came when one of his attempts went horribly wrong. He pulled it far left but into the run of Diaby whose deflection took it the wrong side of Sorenson. Diaby was also noteworthy in his ineptitude. He gave the ball away far too often and on one occasion played an awful ball to Freddie when a simple pass would have sent the aging Swede clear on goal. The match did have one interesting point. Instead of Arsenal dominating and not being able to finish, Villa arguably had the better of play, especially in the second half when Arsenal were pinned back in their own half for minutes on end. No, what is interesting is that this was a match in which the Gunners were terrible and managed to win, something we’ve not seen for some time. And I must put in a word about Martin O’Neill. I like the guy. I like his passion, and his wit, and his dorky tracksuit that he wears on the sidelines. But I didn’t like the way he argued every bloody call that went against his squad, even when he was obviously in the wrong. It made him look foolish. Almost as foolish as Julio Baptista -Sanford

EPL Wednesday Reports

Manchester City 0 - 1 Chelsea
Richard Jolly at the City of Manchester Stadium
http://soccernet.espn.go.com/columns/story?id=414607&root=england&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab1pos1&cc=5901

Aston Villa 0 - 1 Arsenal
Arsène Wenger might have known this fixture would provide some respite because Arsenal have not lost to Aston Villa since 1998, a run which now stretches to 17 matches. And this time it was Abou Diaby's fortuitous first-half goal which put a smile on the face of the crestfallen Frenchman.
http://football.guardian.co.uk/Match_Report/0,,2034298,00.html

UEFA Cup: Berbatov turns on the style as Tottenham march on

Spurs 3 - 2 Braga (Agg: 6-4)
http://football.guardian.co.uk/Match_Report/0,,2034334,00.html

How long can Spurs hold on to Berbatov?
With Thierry Henry injured, the Bulgarian is the Premiership's most technically gifted striker by a mile.
http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/sport/2007/03/15/bittersweet_symphony.html

Let's sit down and talk about standing up


Why does the government consider it safe to let people stand on the bus or in the corridors of high-speed trains but not the Bobby Moore Lower, Kop or Stretford End?


UEFA ban Valencia's Navarro for seven months

UEFA have suspended Valencia's David Navarro for seven months for his role in the on-pitch brawl which marred the Spanish club's Champions League game against Inter Milan on March 6.
http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=414461&cc=5901

(see video of the incident in a post below)

Hume truths could help Savage out of a fix







Was Robbie Savage's conspiracy theory correct that the FA Cup semi-final draw was fixed, or was he just being a bit of an idiot? Marina Hyde investigates...

But can she investigate why he wears tighty whities on match days?? -Sanford
http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/sport/2007/03/15/hume_truths_could_help_savage.html

The Kevin Nolan Column

Kevin reports as Bolton prepare for their trip to Old Trafford at the weekend.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/6442071.stm

Keane knows nice guys tend to finish last

Roy Keane's cool and cruel demeanour is reminiscent of Jose Mourinho and a young Sir Alex Ferguson.
http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/sport/2007/03/15/keane_knows_nice_guys_tend_to.html

UEFA Cup Preview: AZ Alkmaar vs. Newcastle United

Roeder dealt strong hand as Newcastle attempt to give Van Gaal no quarter.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/european_football/article1517309.ece

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

MLS to be Invaded by Giant Asshole?


The Chicago Fire are reportedly deep in negotiation with Cuauhtemoc Blanco, currently of Club America.

http://blogs.chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/soccer_redcard/

Indebted FC: born in Liverpool, owned in Dallas and the Caymans

Details of the American duo's tax-efficient Anfield takeover blows the sugar daddy myth out of the water. Liverpool will foot annual interest payments after Thomas Hicks and George Gillett Jr. took out a £298 million loan to finance the deal.
http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/sport/2007/03/14/indebted_fc_born_in_liverpool.html

Chasing the treble dream

It's the time of year when fans dare to dream. If you are in the privileged position where your team is still in all three major cup competitions then you must be either a Manchester United fan, or a Chelsea supporter.

Chances are that the treble dream will remain ellusive, but which team is best placed to go all the way and repeat United's incredible feat of 1999?
http://soccernet.espn.go.com/columns/story?id=414265&root=england&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab2pos1&cc=5901

La Liga Table

Spanish Primera División
Club
Played Points
Barcelona2650
FC Sevilla2650
Valencia2647
Real Madrid2645
Real Zaragoza2643
Atlético Madrid2643
Recreativo Huelva2641
Getafe2638
Espanyol2637
Racing Santander2637
Villarreal2636
Deportivo La Coruña2633
Osasuna2631
Real Betis2631
Mallorca2629
Celta Vigo2627
Levante2627
Athletic Bilbao2626
Gimnastic de Tarragona2620
Real Sociedad2617

Roman Divorces Irina







To spend more time with Peter Kenyon, I'm sure...-Sanford

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/c/chelsea/6448725.stm

EPL Midweek Previews

Aston Villa vs. Arsenal
http://soccernet-akamai.espn.go.com/preview?id=214050&cc=5901

Manchester City vs. Chelsea
http://soccernet-akamai.espn.go.com/preview?id=214049&cc=5901

MLS And Bundesliga Announce Partnership



MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert unveiled an agreement between the two leagues to share experience, expertise, and best practices on an ongoing basis.
http://goal.com/en-US/Articolo.aspx?ContenutoId=256021

Anti-Madrid Gesture Costs Van Bommel Both Milan Games

Huge blow for Bayern Munich as they won’t be able to count on one of their key players for the upcoming Champions League quarterfinal against AC Milan.
http://goal.com/en-US/articolo.aspx?contenutoid=255876

UEFA Cup: Holders Sevilla face test in Ukraine, Spurs host Braga

http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=414198&cc=5901

Jose and Lamps to get Real - Report


Bocanegra Aiming For Top 10


Fulham defender Carlos Bocanegra has targeted a final flurry that will land the club in the better half of the Premiership table at season’s end.
(ummm, steamy Boca...)

Wednesday's Rumours

http://football.guardian.co.uk/rumourmill/index/0,,2033590,00.html

Ronaldo puts on magical show to leave Beckham in his shadow


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Highlights from Barcelona vs. Real Madrid

Since it was such a great match, I figured I'd post this in case some of you missed it...Sanford (in Spanish, of course)

Phil Ball in Spain

A classic clásico! There haven't been many of those to the pound in the last few years, give or take a pig's head or two, or the occasional exhibition of Ronaldinho magic. Then again, it would inaccurate to say that Barcelona v Real Madrid (or vice-versa) has been boring in the last few years. It's rarely that.
http://soccernet.espn.go.com/columns/story?id=414076&root=europe&cc=5901

Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger in Germany

Wow, this is one strange Bundesliga season. Werder Bremen, by Christmas most people's favourites to lift the title, began the second half of the season by losing no less than three games in a row - and then drop additional points at lowly Gladbach due to a stoppage-time equaliser.

At the same time, the dynasty we affectionately refer to as 'Bayern' are beaten by Nuremberg and Aachen and then can't score against Bochum. Just 21 days ago, the team trailed Schalke by a whopping 12 points and coach Ottmar Hitzfeld declared: 'We are now playing for third place only.'
http://soccernet.espn.go.com/columns/story?id=413926&root=europe&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab1pos2&cc=5901

'I'm staying at Arsenal for life', insists Henry

'This injury isn't down to my age. It's the number of games played that causes injury. Look at (Franck) Ribery, (Claude) Makelele, (William) Gallas, (Patrick) Viera, they are all injured. 'Even Ronaldinho is dead. Same for Deco. Or (Steven) Gerrard. This is not the great and the real Gerrard (this season). The players doing well now are those who played less last season.'
http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=414192&cc=5901

La Liga Team of the Week

In the aftermath of El Clasico, Goal.com selects the best eleven players in Spain's La Liga over the weekend:
http://www.goal.com/en-US/Articolo.aspx?ContenutoId=255165

Pelé Tips Mexico For 2010 World Cup Winners

http://www.goal.com/en-US/Articolo.aspx?ContenutoId=255041

Sid Lowe in Spain

There's something about Messi...

An epic hat-trick against Real Madrid showed that the 473rd New Maradona is worth every last drop of hype.
http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/sport/2007/03/12/theres_something_about_messi.html

Lampard sets deadline in contract talks with Chelsea

Chelsea’s hopes of securing Frank Lampard and John Terry on long-term contracts suffered a double blow yesterday as details emerged of the extent of both players’ frustration with the club’s negotiating tactics.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/premiership/chelsea/article1505885.ece

Zidane Says No To Team That Includes Materazzi

Zinedine Zidane has declined an invitation to line up in the same team as Italian nemesis Marco Materazzi in a commemorative match.
http://goal.com/en-US/Articolo.aspx?ContenutoId=255265

James Richarson in Italy

Inter fans whistle while Ronaldo works...

The Brazilian briefly upstaged the San Siro jeers when Milan faced their city rivals, but fans of his old club ultimately enjoyed the last laugh.
http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/sport/2007/03/13/inter_fans_whistle_while_ronal.html

Barclays Premiership Table

Team - Played - Goal Difference - Points

1 Man Utd 29 47 72
2 Chelsea 28 31 63
3 Liverpool 29 24 53
4 Arsenal 27 27 52
5 Bolton 29 0 47
6 Everton 29 11 43
7 Reading 29 5 43
8 Tottenham 29 -3 42
9 Portsmouth 29 5 41
10 Blackburn 29 -4 40
11 Newcastle 29 -3 37
12 Middlesbrough 29 -2 36
13 Aston Villa 28 -5 33
14 Fulham 29 -13 33
15 Wigan 29 -14 32
16 Sheff Utd 29 -16 31
17 Man City 27 -13 30
18 Charlton 29 -23 24
19 Watford 29 -25 20
20 West Ham 29 -29 20

Roman Gladiators

Ominously for Manchester United, Roma are finding form at the right time and have a rejuvenated striker in Francesco Totti.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/european_football/article1496526.ece

Monday, March 12, 2007

FA Cup Draw: Man United vs. Chelsea FA Cup final on cards

Premiership heavyweights Manchester United and Chelsea could be set for a dramatic FA Cup final meeting at the new Wembley Stadium after being kept apart in the semi-final draw.
http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=414060&cc=5901

FA Cup, Serie A, La Liga, and Bundesliga Reports

FA Cup
Chelsea comeback shreds nerves of Mourinho and Spurs:
http://football.guardian.co.uk/Match_Report/0,,2031701,00.html
Ronaldo keeps Manchester United's treble hopes alive:
http://sports.yahoo.com/sow/news?slug=afp-fblengfacup&prov=afp&type=lgns

Serie A
Inter Milan 2-1 AC Milan:
http://soccernet-akamai.espn.go.com/report?id=205943&cc=5901
Summaries of all the matches:
http://sports.yahoo.com/sow/news?slug=reu-italyreports&prov=reuters&type=lgns

La Liga

Magical Messi Earns Barca Famous Draw With Real Madrid:
http://www.goal.com/en-US/Articolo.aspx?ContenutoId=253787
Summaries of all the matches:
http://sports.yahoo.com/sow/news?slug=reu-spainreports&prov=reuters&type=lgns

Bundesliga
Summaries of all the matches:
http://sports.yahoo.com/sow/news?slug=reu-germanyreports&prov=reuters&type=lgns

Barcelona And The Good Ol’ 3-4-3

Saturday’s Clásico clash between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona was – according to some – the return of the good ol’ 3-4-3 to Camp Nou in Liga action. Some argue that Barca manager Rijkaard didn’t, in fact, use this formation -- but, in any case, why all the fuss about Barcelona’s 3-4-3?
http://www.goal.com/en-US/Articolo.aspx?ContenutoId=254088

Player Ratings: Barcelona - Real Madrid

Goal.com runs the rule over the performances in the latest edition of El Clasico...
http://www.goal.com/en-US/Articolo.aspx?ContenutoId=254075

Monday's Rumours

http://football.guardian.co.uk/rumourmill/index/0,,2031943,00.html

Old Firm: Lennon loses the plot as Rangers end their long wait

The way Rangers' supporters and players celebrated a first win against their city rivals in 18 months and seven games, it would have been easy to believe that they, and not Celtic, were poised to capture the Premierleague title. The championship race is all but over but that did not affect the passionate intensity of this Old Firm derby. Evidence of that came when Neil Lennon became engaged in a heated verbal joust with a home supporter as he left the field. Celtic's captain displayed his anger by firing a plastic drinks bottle into the empty Rangers dug-out and appeared, at one point, to be trying to challenge the fan physically.
http://football.guardian.co.uk/Match_Report/0,,2031817,00.html

Life without Henry


'This game is killing me,' the Frenchman apparently shouted as he made his way down the tunnel past the interviewers. However, it was his revelation that he has not played a game since October without being in pain that will shock the Gunners' faithful.