Friday, April 04, 2008

The Joy of Six: All-British European Ties

Brian Clough's rope-a-dope tactic, Rangers' bemulleted Godzilla and Anfield's bouncy castle - all feature in The Guardian's shortlist.

6. Ipswich v Aberdeen, Uefa Cup first round, 1981-82 (1-1, 1-3, agg: 2-4)

Sir Alex Ferguson's penchant for knocking English clubs off their perch did not begin with Liverpool. In 1981 Ipswich were the cock of the walk after winning the Uefa Cup the previous season, but Fergie's Aberdeen ended their defence in the first round. John Hewitt's away goal gave Aberdeen a 1-1 draw at Portman Road after Frans Thijssen's opening goal, and at Pittodrie they got off to a perfect start when a staggeringly witless piece of play from John Wark gave Gordon Strachan a penalty. Strachan converted, but when Wark equalised from the spot the tie was perched as precariously as Simon Adebisi's hat. But two delicious solo goals from the fearless left-winger Peter Weir, one with each foot, left the right-back Mick Mills with twisted blood and Ipswich with a collective bloody nose. Aberdeen, tonked the previous season by Liverpool, were now a significant force in Europe, and would be atop a perch of their own when they won the Cup Winners' Cup 18 months later.

Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

Inter go to Atalanta, Juventus go to Palermo, Milan host Cagliari, Roma host Genoa and Fiorentina host Reggina.


Atalanta and her Golden Apples...

Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview

Leaders Real are out on the islands to face Mallorca, Barcelona host a Getafe side coming off a hard-fought draw in Munich and second-place Villarreal have a tough trip to Sevilla.


Mallorca -- how do you focus on football...??

England: Premier League & FA Cup Previews

Liverpool go back to North London to face Arsenal in Part II, Manchester Citeh host Chelsea, Manchester United are at Boro, Fulham host Sunderland and Spurs go to Ewood Park to play Blackburn. You can read more on this year's "romance" in the FA Cup in Alec's post below.

Act Two in Gunners - Liverpool Trilogy
Lawro's Predictions

The Insider at Emirates Stadium

A bit late on this one, but The Insider was at the Arsenal/Liverpool match and I always value his insight...and his food watch.

Little Left in the Arsenal

Taking a Bribe

Football and gambling go way back – back to the game's roots. But in the internet age of 24-hour betting, in a society where government endorses it and in an era of unprecedented wages, gambling has become the silent, corrosive force that threatens the sport
Tales of addiction that leave scar on the beautiful game
A newspaper has reported that a top-flight player deliberately got sent off during a game to wipe out a £50K gambling debt
Player 'fixed' game for £50,000


Obviously the new coach of the Chicago Fire is an avid reader of SSN. Yesterday Bobbie suggested Dennis Hamlett "...go to 3-5-2, send Chad Diesel to the bench and move Rolfe back to the forward line". I'm not sure if the formation was changed, but Diesel didn't even make on to the bench, and Rolfe was returned to the starting eleven. As a result Tomasz Frankowski scored two first-half goals to lead the Fire to a 4-0 rout of the New England Revolution. Nice call Bob.
Bobbie has written an excellent little review of the game in his comment below. Check it out.
The Revolution get burnt 4-0 by The Fire

First half goals from David Beckham and Landon Donovan earn the Galaxy the first win of the Ruud Gullit era
Beckham Scores as L.A. Beat San Jose
Andrea Canales Weighs In

The MLS All-Stars will take on West Ham United of the English Premier League in this season’s All-Star Game, the league announced Thursday
MLS All-Stars to face West Ham


Rangers' dreams of European glory took a knock when they drew a blank in this Uefa Cup quarter-final first leg at Ibrox
Lacklustre Rangers fail to break down stubborn Sporting

An Adrian Mutu goal wasn't enough for Fiorentina as PSV pulled one back through Danny Koevermans. It should now be an open game in Eindhoven after an intriguing first leg
PSV Snare Fiorentina Draw

German teams struggle: Bayer leak 4 against Zenit, Bayern let Getafe snatch a draw
Bayern held by Getafe, Zenit hit four in UEFA Cup

Having had as much as a week out of the spotlight, the father of Werder Bremen star Diego is at it again
Diego's Dad: Madrid & Arsenal Interested

Champions League: Aftermath

A Liverpool team energised by the Kop, will provide Arsenal with a difficult task
Forget Milan, Anfield's a different ball game

Fenerbahce striker takes a swipe at the manager of his former club, saying they have gone backwards since Jose Mourinho left
Kezman: Grant is no Mourinho for Chelsea

Dirk Kuyt: "Arsenal probably the best playing in Europe at the moment"
Kuyt flies close to the wind with Arsenal plaudits


Premier Shorts: Today in the EPL

England defender misses Tottenham's last six games in an effort to get to the bottom of his long-standing problem
What a shock - Ledley King injured

Sir Alex Ferguson has been handed a double fitness boost with Nemanja Vidic and Gary Neville both set to play a part in Manchester United's Premier League and Champions League run-in
Nemanja Vidic and Gary Neville boost United

Sir Alex Ferguson has only given England midfield player a peripheral role because of disciplinary issues
Hargreaves' timekeeping causes anger

Liverpool are considering appealing the additional two-game ban handed down to Javier Mascherano by the FA
Liverpool may appeal Mascherano ban

Stockport defender Jimmy McNulty could be fit to face Darlington on Saturday
McNulty set for Stockport return

England: Romance of the FA Cup - what a load of bollocks

An ex-girlfriend once told me I was about as romantic as John Major. Well this level of romance extends to the FA Cup. Barnsley against Cardiff isn't romantic, its about as attractive as a free ticket to Paris Hilton's new movie. The game could end 9-7, and it still wouldn't interest me. Let the poncy romance stay in the 3rd round where it belongs. WBA are a half decent side, though even they somehow managed to lose to Derby in the play-offs last year. They could knock out Pompey, leaving an all Championship final. God forbid. Cue an endless stream of journalists and pundits blabbering on about how great it is to see them get so far. Yeah, great until you have to actual watch he game. Give me ManU Vs Liverpool every year.

Sol Campbell hopes to use his knowledge of playing in FA Cup semis to guide Pompey into the final
Campbell banks on experience

Two Cardiff stalwarts are preparing for another trip to Wembley; for Cardiff's Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink it is one he feared would never happen again after the 2002 final
Jimmy Floyd ready for Wembley

The assertion of regional identity is at the core of Barnsley's collision with Cardiff on Sunday, even on such neutral turf as Wembley
Simon Davey proud of Welsh connection

Thursday, April 03, 2008

MLS News

New England will be looking to continue their good start to the season, having destroying MLS Cup nemesis Houston 3-0, when they meet Chicago today. Chicago have been knocked out of the play-offs by New England in the past three years, so they'll be after a touch of payback. Yanks can catch the game, as well as LA Beckham's match against San Jose, on ESPN2.
Revs will need to quell Blanco's threat

Changes are already needed for the Galaxy, starting with Ruud Gullit's complex formation, says Martin Rogers
Galaxy in need of Ruud-imentary strategy
Galaxy and Quakes resume their rivalry

Euro News

Real Madrid, the world's richest club, has been forced to take out a loan of €30m (£24.5m) to cover day-to-day costs
Real Madrid count cost of David Beckham exit

Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas believes his side's next three matches will decide the title
Casillas eyes crucial three fixtures

Barcelona's injury problems look finally to be easing – with Deco preparing to make his comeback at the weekend and Lionel Messi due to return from his native Argentina
Deco and Messi set to reinforce Barça campaign

Klinsmann has added two more names to his coaching set-up for next season with the announcement that Walter Junghans and Nick Theslof will be part of his backroom staff when he succeeds Hitzfeld
Klinsmann’s Team Takes Shape

The Sporting Lisbon coach believes that a Uefa Cup triumph over Rangers can help turn around an indifferent season
Bento looks for a chance to save season

EPL News

Premier Shorts: Today in the EPL

Manager Roy Keane wants a £50m transfer kitty to take Sunderland to the "next level" next season should top-flight status be secured
Keane's plea for £50m on new players

Newcastle's chairman says that discussions about Kevin Keegan's transfer kitty will wait until league safety is assured
Keegan forced to wait for funds

Spurs could become the first English team to play a friendly in India after discussing a game against Kingfisher East Bengal
Tottenham making plans for game in India

Former Brighton player downs Chelsea

Deivid atoned for his own goal with a stunning winner to give Fenerbahce a one-goal advantage to take to Chelsea
Deivid strike sends Chelsea home with a headache

Chelsea’s frustration at losing a match they should have won was encapsulated by Frank Lampard storming off the pitch
Grant upbeat despite Lampard show of frustration

Lucky Liverpool

Rafa Beñitez must have sold his children to the devil to get so much luck in the Champions League. Not only did the ref suffer from momentary blindness when Kuyt dragged down Hleb, but Bentner decided to step in for Carra and clear Fabregas' shot off the line. That said, I thought Wenger made a mistake with his substitution. It wasn't difficult to see why he brought off Eboué, but when he brought on Benter he changed the formation. Hleb and Walcott had had an excellent ten minute spell but Wenger's change took them out of the game. It certainly isn't over for Arsenal but Liverpool don't need to score. Liverpool will be able to keep it tight at Anfield, limiting the space on which Arsenal thrive.

Visitors absorbed everything Arsenal threw at them after Dirk Kuyt's equaliser, and will believe they can reach next round
Dirk Kuyt puts Liverpool in sight of semis

Fabio Capello’s search for clues becomes a tough one as English occasion provides the platform for intense battle of Spanish wits
Gerrard offers reminder of home among foreign legions

Consistency of selection paid off for Rafa Benítez as Liverpool proved a point
Gerrard justifies Rafa's game plan

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Champions League: Today's Matches

While Arsène Wenger is still in credit with Arsenal fans, defeat would heap pressure on Rafael Benítez
Fear of failure prompts a battle to be last man standing

Frenchman confident on the eve of the club's Liverpool trilogy, which he admits is the 'highest challenge' of his career
Arsenal can rule the world, says Wenger

Arsenal centre-back has said that nullifying the threat of Steve Gerrard is the key to stopping Liverpool
Kolo Toure: Stopping Gerrard key for Arsenal

Chelsea coach is willing to sacrifice entertaining football to ensure Champions League victory
Grant prepared to win ugly against Fenerbahce

Nicolas Anelka, once of Fenerbahce, warns his team-mates of treatment they can expect from Turkish club's fans
Anelka braced for brickbats on Istanbul return

Norman Hubbard on Portsmouth and Evergreen Harry

For a man who has long excelled at portraying himself as the impoverished underdog, Harry Redknapp faces an unusual challenge in a different location this coming weekend.

'Arry Redknapp: Renaissance man

Phil Ball Not in Spain

He's back in the UK but still offers his insight on Spain...and more.

Chaos Theory

No Torch for Bhaichung Bhutia

Bhaichung Bhutia has pulled out of the Olympic torch relay in protest at China's response to demonstrations in Tibet
India captain's Olympic torch protest

Spotlight on Rafa

Armando Beñitez - not Rafa's brother

Three years ago he was the brilliant tactician who guided his side to European triumph. But now? Having again failed to mount a serious title challenge, the Liverpool manager has abandoned his rotation system and goes into this season's final few weeks with everything to prove – starting at the Emirates tonight. Two of Britain's better journos, Sam Wallace and Martin Samuel, assess Rafa Benitez's position at Liverpool
What's it all about Rafa?
Liverpool at the crossroads: will it be greatness or disaster for Rafa?

Pizarro denies orgy

Chelsea striker and Peru captain has denied he drank alcohol and invited women to his hotel room during World Cup qualifying and dismissed his 18-month suspension from national side
Peru's Claudio Pizarro rejects charge

EPL News

Premier Shorts: Today in the EPL

Roy Keane's long-suffering club are set to attract some higher-profile players if, as looks likely, they survive relegation
Sunderland aspire to secure future

David Bentley admits his desire to be England's first-choice right-winger at the 2010 World Cup could end his Blackburn career
David Bentley geared up to leave Blackburn

David Moyes has to contend with a mounting injury list as he aims to get the challenge for fourth place back on track
Everton attempt to pick up the derby pieces

The war of words between Avram Grant and Sir Alex Ferguson has continued, with the Israeli branding the United boss 'a joke' for having no sympathy for Chelsea's fixture congestion
Grant And Fergie Do Battle Over Fixtures

FIFA Piggy Bank

Fifa has a £400m contingency fund in case the stadiums aren't ready in time for South Africa 2010
Fifa sets aside £400m for World Cup collapse

Champions League: Yesterday's Matches

Ronaldo showed great courage to put his head where most jinky wingers would not put a foot
Ronaldo proves he has a head for heights

Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi is refusing to write off his team's chances of reaching the Champions League semi-finals, despite their 2-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester United last night
De Rossi: Roma can still surprise Man United

Roma midfielder David Pizarro has launched a scathing attack on Cristiano Ronaldo, describing him as big-headed and arrogant following the 2-0 defeat to the Red Devils
Pizarro: Ronaldo Is An Arrogant Big Head

An early goal from Bojan Krkic gave Barcelona a slender first-leg lead in Gelsenkirchen
Bojan gives Barcelona the edge

Schalke defender Heiko Westermann was left fuming last night when the referee failed to award his side a late penalty at the Veltins Arena that would have given the Königsblauen a chance to get back in the game
Westermann Slams Ref After Barca Defeat

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Broken China?

With disillusioned supporters more interested in the European game, the Chinese season kicked off amid ongoing talk of dirty tactics
Same old story for Chinese football as suspicions of corruption linger

Ahoy Matey!

Fiery Palermo President Maurizio Zamparini has launched a scathing attack against English clubs, labelling them as “pirates” due to their practice of poaching Italy’s best youngsters
The English Are ‘Pirates’ Roars Zamparini

Sad Spain

There is panic among the ranks of Spanish fans over the apparent decline of their top-tier teams. Señor Lowe reports...
The one-time league of stars now facing dark night of the soul

Mexico: Sanchez Fired

Former Argentina national team coach José Pekerman is thought to be one of the front runners for the vacant Mexico position following the sacking of Hugo Sanchez on Monday
Pekerman In Frame For Mexico Post
Mexico fire coach Sanchez after 16 months

EPL News

Premier Shorts: Today in the EPL
Nicky Butt served some familiar compliments to Newcastle's manager following their timely win against Tottenham
Butt hails the 'Keegan effect'
Tottenham defender believes the whole squad are playing for their futures at the club following their 4-1 home defeat by Newcastle
Jonathan Woodgate ashamed of Spurs rout

Let me make you an offer...

Fabio Capello's England assistant Franco Baldini was the subject of an extraordinary Mafia-style threat in a Rome court yesterday
Capello's No 2 subjected to 'Mafia threat' in Italian court
England manager could face criminal charges after he was accused of withholding information in a corruption Rome trial
Fabio Capello embroiled in corruption case

Champions League: Tomorrow's Matches

Considering his impact in his debut campaign in England, 'El Nino' is an apt nickname for Liverpool striker Fernando Torres
Torres gives cutting edge
Anfield co-owners may refuse to sit together at the Emirates tomorrow but the players are united for the challenge ahead
Gerrard says Liverpool can overcome civil war
All Cesc Fabregas seems to desire, in a rare antidote to the hysteria over an all-English quarter-final against Liverpool, is to face his former club again in the Champions League final
Cesc Fabregas dreams of Barcelona rematch
Joe Cole arrived in Istanbul reveling in the prospect of facing two of his enduring heroes
Zico and Roberto Carlos excite Joe Cole
Fenerbahce full back Roberto Carlos has fired a warning to Chelsea that they face “the Turkish Real Madrid” in Istanbul for in their Champions League quarter final tie
Roberto Carlos: We Are The Turkish Real Madrid

Champions League: Today's Matches

Sir Alex Ferguson considers his current Manchester United side his "best ever"
United relishing the chance to light up Rome
Ferguson says winger could win European Footballer of the Year if he fires United to Champions League victory
European glory can seal prize for Ronaldo
UEFA said Rome could be stripped of next year's Champions League final if fan violence recurs in the Italian capital
Uefa warns Roma as fears mount
Ronaldinho goes AWOL in Barça's hour of need
Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard was in defiant mood as he spoke out ahead of his side's Champions League quarter-final first leg meeting with Schalke 04
Rijkaard Comes Out Firing
Schalke trainer Mirko Slomka believes his team are facing Barcelona at the ideal time to cause an upset as the two sides prepare for their Champions League quarter final clash
Slomka: Barcelona There For The Taking

Quotes and Chants of the Week

"Gary Neville is the club captain but has been injured for the best part of a year now - and Giggsy's taken on the mantelpiece."

Rio Ferdinand is clearly having a hearth while describing the Manchester United captaincy.
Quotes of the week

Monday, March 31, 2008

Calcio Debate - Where's the skill?

Italy legend Roberto Baggio launched a scathing attack against the modern game at the weekend, saying that all the skill was being replaced by pace and power. Carlo Garganese asks if the former European and World Footballer of the Year is right…
Is Baggio Right - Has Skill Disappeared From Football?

South American Round-up

A player was sent off for attacking a ball boy and then arrested for punching a fan during a Chilean championship match at the weekend
Player arrested for punching fan

Low life dive

Hamburg's David Jarolim, the Bundesliga's most infamous diver and con-artist, staged another misdemeanour at the weekend. Herr Honigstein reports...
Jarolim reaches new low with latest below-the-belt antics

The Yellow Submarine attacks

'It's a lovely place to live, we have great players and we're very well paid' - what more could Villarreal want? The title of course. Señor Lowe reports...
Absolutely no pressure as Villarreal seek to win something at last

Italian soccer hit by 2nd tragedy

For the second time in recent months, the weekend's Serie A fixtures were overshadowed by tragedy. Signor Bandini reports...
Sadness and censure as violence blights the Scudetto again
Fan's death was not due to violence, says Parma president

Early Champions League Previews

Former Chelsea striker is confident of springing upset in Istanbul
Mateja Kezman aims to create 'hell' in Istanbul
The Barcelona manager’s job is on the line going into Tuesday’s quarter-final first-leg match against Schalke
Frank Rijkaard searching for Champions League salvation
Manchester United set to face side with plenty to play for, writes Patrick Nathanson
Italy relying on Roma to lift sombre mood
Arsene Wenger insists that Sunday's victory against Bolton was just what Arsenal needed ahead of this week's Champions League tie against Liverpool
Bolton Win Is Great Preparation, Says Wenger

MLS round-up

Aztec God Chuathemoc Blanco saves Fire with stoppage time goal
Blanco hits late equalizer
David Beckham's team got off to an appalling start to the season, losing 4-0 to Colorado Rapids
Galaxy start with a 4-0 stinker
The much-anticipated MLS Cup rematch between New England and Houston turned into a surprisingly one-sided affair. The Revs routed the Dynamo 3-0
Revs rout defending champs
Saturday’s Major League Soccer Capsules

It could all end in tears

If this most talented team do not win the Champions League they will have underachieved and Ferguson knows it
Europe is United’s to lose

Euro Review: It's hotting up in Spain

A pulsating week of Spanish football has seen Real Madrid stamp their authority on La Liga, yet again. Goals from Gabriel Heinze, Raul and Gonzalo Higuain saw them deservedly beat Sevilla 3-1 and go six points clear of Villarreal
Real Madrid Too Much For Sorry Sevilla
Villarreal leapt above Barcelona after beating Atlético Madrid as Barça lost to Betis
Villarreal go second after Barca throw it away

There was no change at the top as Inter and Roma scrambled 1-1 draws away from home on Saturday
Top two in Italy held to battling draws
Pirlo Misses Penalty As Milan Lose Again
Sunday's clash between Juventus and Parma has been called off after a Parma fan was tragically killed on his way to the game
Juventus - Parma Called Off After Tragic Fan Death

An injury-time penalty gave Paris Saint-Germain a dramatic cup win against Lens
Late penalty hands PSG League Cup triumph
French president wades into racist banner debate

EPL: Sunday's games

The dominance of Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick in central midfield was key as Manchester United had far too much for Aston Villa at Old Trafford
How Scholes and Carrick sucked in Villa's wingers
Kevin Keegan has targeted a top-half finish in the Premier League after masterminding Newcastle's 4-1 demolition of Spurs - their most impressive performance since his return to the club
Only way is up for Keegan and Newcastle
Everton supporters aim offensive chants at Steven Gerrard but the Liverpool captain has the last laugh in crucial triumph
Victory sweet after fans sour derby
The Premier League is a self-financing hegemony; did we really expect Everton to sustain their Champions League challenge?
No surprises as depleted Toffees crumble
Chelsea somehow managed to stay in the race for the title through a lone goal from Ricardo Carvalho
Lucky Chelsea beat Boro

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Laurent Blanc Interview

World Cup-winner Laurent Blanc reveals his high regard for Rio Ferdinand, reviews his time in England and considers Utd's CL chances
Blanc: ‘Rio is a superb player’

EPL: Saturday's games

Arsenal dig deep and rise to overturn two goal deficit with 91st minute winner from boy wonder Cesc Fabregas
Arsenal back from the brink
Wayne Rooney bagged two yet Cristiano Ronaldo's nutmeg was a world-class goal as Villa demolished
Cristiano Ronaldo set to usurp Denis Law
Argentinian's double secures victory for home side putting pay to Benjani Mwaruwari's theatrics
Zarate kid fires for McLeish
Goalkeeper wins a point Reading but caution is the order of the day in a game lacking ambition
Hahnemann keeps out Blackburn
Andy Reid’s dramatic stoppage-time volley shows home side's fighting spirit in second successive win
Reid pounces to put Keane's growls to flight
Jermain Defoe's double was the highlight of a dull game, notable only for splendid goalkeeping
Harry Redknapp hails Portsmouth's heroes
Despite thrilling draw Derby relegated in record time yet Fulham may pay for failing to grasp chances
Derby plummet down but still drag Fulham to the brink

Claudio Ranieri Interview

The butcher's son from Rome who forsook the family business for football speaks exclusively to Observer Sport about the good times at Chelsea, the bitterness he still feels towards the club's chief executive and his current mission to put Juventus back among the greats
Proud man walking