Friday, April 25, 2008
Martin Rogers says: Thierry Henry’s potential move to Major League Soccer seems to be drawing closer by the week as the France striker’s stay at Barcelona appears to be grinding to an unsatisfactory halt.
Sanford says: Henry wants to be near his daughter, who lives in London. A move to Seattle will not improve his situation in that regard.
26 April 2008 (all times local)
20:00 Deportivo - Barcelona
22:00 Murcia - Sevilla
27 April 2008
17:00 Valldolid - Almería
17:00 Getafe - At. Madrid
17:00 Recreativo - Levante
17:00 Espanyol - Zaragoza
17:00 Valencia - Osasuna
17:00 Mallorca - Racing
19:00 Betis - Villarreal
21:00 R. Madrid - Athletic
Chelsea's big problem at the moment is scoring goals, but defensively - in large part thanks to the form of Petr Cech and Ricardo Carvalho - they are looking quite good.
And they will be desperate not to lose as that would virtually seal the title for United, so they will at least be looking to prolong the race.
Chelsea will have had an extra day's rest with their Champions League match played 24 hours earlier than United's, who might just feel the effects of their exertions at Barcelona.
Uefa Cup final dream alive as Rangers hold Fiorentina to draw hoping, as with earlier games, they can turn tie around
Rangers eye away-day glory
Lucio own-goal cancelled out Franck Ribéry's early opener in a thrilling encounter at the Allianz-Arena
Zenit Grab Priceless Away Goal In Munich
Advocaat delighted by draw
There are bound to be far more than a few moves away from Liga clubs this summer, but Ewan Macdonald looks at ten of the more notable candidates for a big transfer-window switch
10 Players Set For Summer Transfer Sagas in Spain
Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster has declared that he wants to sign Inter star Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Schuster: I Want Ibrahimovic
Ronaldo’s flaw in his bid for greatness is that he is, to use the technical term, a smart-arse
Riise and Ronaldo lost in thought process
Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba could end world poverty and still be unpopular. They don't help themselves, do they?
Ronaldo and Drogba protest too much
Serbian expected to be fit as United aim to clinch title in London with Cristiano Ronaldo keen to make rivals pay penalty
Vidic ready for Stamford Bridge showdown
After denying Fernando Torres almost single-handedly at Anfield on Tuesday evening, Petr Cech’s next task is to keep a clean sheet against the only man to have scored more goals than the Liverpool striker this season
Cech turns attention to stopping Ronaldo
Chelsea will grant Frank Lampard as much compassionate leave as he needs after his mother, Pat, died yesterday from pneumonia, aged 58
Chelsea give Frank Lampard time to grieve
Sir Alex Ferguson is entitled to wonder whether the team on the verge of a Champions League and Premier League double have the decisive and defining quality of his boys of '99
United's current crop lack Keane taste for battle
The top five head-on collisions that settled the destination of a Premier League title
Top 5 title-race crunch matches
Premier Shorts: Today in the EPL
Team news before the weekend's EPL games: Premier League previews
FastEddy's Tips for the Weekend's Matches
Striker believes that the Spanish revolution will truly begin next season and then we will see 'the real Tottenham'
Keane looks to future under Ramos
Manchester City's Nedum Onuoha has spoken out in support of manager Sven-Goran Eriksson
Players rally behind Eriksson
Arsenal are considering finally selling Philippe Senderos this summer. Indeed it is possible that the 23-year-old Swiss defender has played his last game for the club
Senderos set to join Arsenal exodus
Thursday, April 24, 2008
What the fuck? Wasn't the other semi meant to be the boring one?
Okay, 0-0 isn't a bad result but United missed a real opportunity here, and I'm not talking about the penalty. The fact Barca had so much possession but hardy threaten van der Sar shows how under par they were.
I couldn't make any sense of United's formation. Okay, they were unlucky with Vidic dropping out, but all over the pitch players were out of position: mids as strikers, strikers as mids, mids as defenders. With Hargreaves not in midfield there was no coherent defending, with every midfielder running around desperately to get the ball. As a result they had so little possession that when they finally got the ball they felt compelled to force things: Tevez running with the ball down cul-de-sacs, Carrick trying to play a wonder pass. Above all, United's passing, with the notable exception of Scholes, was atrocious; Park, Tevez and Ronaldo seemed to having their own private bad passing competition.
Thankfully for them Barca also used the ball poorly, always playing at a snail's pace, enabling ManU to get players behind the ball. Messi shone at times but United were able to crowd him out, any space his runs created was left unexploited due to Barca's lack of movement.
Obviously United can live with the result, but a 0-0 is never a bad result for the home team either. Barca will go to Old Trafford knowing a ManU goal makes little difference; they have to score.
Surely the return game can't be as bad. As the missus said last night, 'I miss the old days when you forced me to watch cricket...'
The feet apart, the staggered run-up, the ball in the net: Cristiano Ronaldo from the penalty spot is just about the surest bet Manchester United have and, with three minutes played last night, the executioner was ready to strike...
Barca fail to capitalise on Ronaldo's miss of the season
Inexplicably at the Nou Camp last night, Sir Alex Ferguson picked a team seemingly designed to showcase Barcelona’s attacking talents
Ferguson gives Messi licence to showcase the tricks of his trade
After all the talk of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Lionel Messi, it was a man who loathes the limelight, Paul Scholes, who stole the show here in this magnificent Catalan theatre. After a master-class in the use of the ball, Scholes received the ultimate compliment - Thierry Henry asked for his shirt
Ronaldo fails to apply gloss for United
It’s hard to remember Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tévez and Park Ji Sung being so poor in attack — but that was almost part of the plan
Analysis: Tony Cascarino
The landlocked Alpine state topped a list of European countries which have seen an alarming rise in measles cases in the past year, according to a European Union report issued last week.
Paolo Maldini has picked up an injury that could bring an anticlimactic end to his glorious career. In view of this, Carlo Garganese asks whether the AC Milan symbol is the greatest defender the world has ever seen…
Calcio Debate: Maldini – The Best Defender Of All Time?
AC Milan supremo Silvio Berlusconi has confirmed that he will hand over the reigns of the San Siro side when he begins his third spell as prime minister of Italy next month
Berlusconi To Step Down
If common sense doesn't prevail first, European law should put a halt to Sepp Blatter's proposals to limit 'foreign' player numbers
The legal snag in Blatter's quota plan
Real Madrid have once again expressed their interest in a Premier League player, with reports suggesting the Spanish champions want to sign Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho
Real Madrid target Chelsea's Carvalho
Their names may not appear in the sports dailies every second day, they do not have the millions and millions to spend every summer, but they are just as qualified and talented as most of their big name counterparts. Goal.com takes a look at some of La Liga’s lesser-known, but leading coaches...
La Liga’s Underrated Coaches: Emery & Marcelino
Robin Bairner warns that Lyon boss Alain Perrin may not last too much longer at the Stade Gerland, despite the successes of this season...
Domestic Double May Still Mean Trouble for Perrin
Twente Enschede boss Fred Rutten will leave his current job in July
Schalke name Rutten as new manager
Uefa Cup, Semi-Final, 1st leg
Bayern Munich v Zenit St Petersburg
Thursday 24th April, 20:45
Allianz Arena, Munich
Bayern Munich, with one trophy in the bag and a second almost sewn up, turn their attentions to a possible treble when they face Zenit St Petersburg in tonight's Uefa Cup semi-finals
Toni missing as Bayern step up treble pursuit
Uefa Cup, Semi-Final, 1st leg
Fiorentina v Rangers
Thursday 24th April, 19:45 [UK]
Ibrox Stadium, Scotland
Four-pronged trophy quest for Rangers remains alive but absence of Barry Ferguson is a big blow to Uefa Cup chances
Smith to keep on defying the odds
Maybe Hleb and Flamini can share a taxi to Heathrow and enjoy Terminal 5 together
Most of the British papers are running two stories, one saying Flamini is certainly off to Italy, another saying Wenger is looking to keep his stars. The Flamini situation is a touch baffling: he stays at Arsenal for a few years vowing to battle for a starting place, finally wins it, then decides to leave. Odd. Some players have left Arsenal and done well but others have failed to shine outside the Arsenal system, it'll be interesting to see which category Flamini fits into.
Hleb is also rumoured to be off. In the past it was easy to understand why players wanted to leave for Spain or Italy, but now, considering the quality of the EPL and how well EPL teams are doing in the CL, that's not the case. When you've got players like David Villa offering themselves to Arsenal, why would you want to leave? More money, I guess.
Arsenal manager wants Cesc Fabregas, Alexander Hleb and Mathieu Flamini to stay at the club before signing new players
Arsene Wenger says new signings can wait
Milan Vice President Adriano Galliani has reacted angrily to Jean-Claude Blanc’s comments that Juventus are favourites to sign Matthieu Flamini
Galliani Slams Blanc As Flamini War Begins
Alexander Hleb has been banned for the rest of the season, and could move to Italy in the summer
Hleb's Arsenal career may be over
Premier Shorts: Today in the EPL
Frank Lampard is set to miss Chelsea's crucial clash with Manchester United to be with his critically ill mother
Lampard may miss title summit
Roman Abramovich's club join race to sign £15 million-rated Blackburn and England winger this summer
Chelsea and Liverpool to battle for Bentley
Manchester City owner is expected to hold talks with manager Sven-Goran Eriksson ahead of their league game against Fulham
Sven-Goran Eriksson prepares to talk
The Middlesbrough coach Colin Cooper is promising there is much more to come from the club's four mainline strikers next season
Boro strikers backed to shine next season
Kevin Keegan's Newcastle United will reportedly make a move for Chelsea outcast Steve Sidwell this summer
Newcastle Join The Queue To Sign Sidwell
Newcastle are close to securing the services of the highly-rated Croatian international, Luka Modric, in a £12 million transfer deal with Dinamo Zagreb
Wise moves for Modric
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Wes Brown and Nemanja Vidic will need to pass fitness tests before tonight's game
Injury scares leave United in a sweat before Barcelona test
United manager Ferguson has echoed the sentiments of most non- Liverpool and Chelsea supporters by claiming that his side’s mouthwatering matchup with Barcelona would have been a dream final
Sir Alex: This Should Have Been The Final
In a ploy that Alex Ferguson will see as both annoying and all too familiar, Barcelona midfielder Xavi has suggested Ronaldo would be better off leaving Manchester United for Barcelona
Xavi claims Ronaldo belongs in Spain
It's a shame this game isn't the final, but at least we get to see these teams match up twice.
On form you'd bet on United, but one look at Barca's forward five is enough to keep your money in your pocket. Eto'o, Messi, Henry, Xavi and Iniesta - not many weaknesses there. Oh and on the bench new wunderkind Bojan. ManU may be the better unit, but Barca have the better individuals. Barca don't have the strongest defence, but in the past few games Utd's has hardly been rock solid. ManU have the advantage of playing the second leg at home, but Barca will be resting players at the weekend while the Mancs will be battling against Chelsea. So like Clinton and Obama, it's pretty even.
Ironically, Barca's best tactic could ultimately help United. Barca have to go on the offensive, and hope that by doing so they regain a bit of self belief and unity. If they do, any opponent is going to suffer. But if their attack is disjointed and unconvincing, as it has been over the few past months, they could leave themselves open to the counter, Utd's strength.
There's an argument that of all the teams Man Utd deserve to be in the final, as they've played the best soccer this year. But Barca going through would mean a final without two teams from the same country. I think Barca might sneak it. Utd have looked a bit shaky over the past couple of weeks, especially against Arsenal. Messi will frighten the crap out of them, Henry will see the Utd shirts and remember that he's a top player, and Utd will fuck it up at the semi-final stage again. Perhaps.
Check back for an update, later in the day.
If the airport check-in was anything to go by, then the players most eager to be back in Barcelona were those present on Manchester United's last adventure in the city, on a certain heady spring evening in May 1999. There'a a nice little graphic on this page...
Time for United to come of age, says Ferguson
Few players are as essential to the football that is produced by their team as the Barcelona midfielder, writes old friend Guillem Balague
Xavi Hernandez holds true to the finer arts and crafts
How would Pele have fared against Zidane had they shared the same turf? Maradona against Puskas? Di Stefano against Cruyff? Eternal questions that hang unanswerable in the football imagination
Ronaldo v Messi: Gifted duo who share a path
As usual, David Pleat has spent the night busy working on his tactic table:
Work-rate may be the key
And across the street Don Howe's is also on display. Will he disagree with arch-nemesis Pleat?
business as usual
Sir Alex Ferguson owes a debt of gratitute to Hristo Stoitchkov and Romario, Barcelona's superstars of the Nineties
Battering in Barcelona that shaped United overhaul
Barcelona stalwart Rafael Márquez has hit out at the club's medical services, stating that they have long since failed in their duty of care to the players
Márquez Slams Barcelona Doctors
Champions Boca Juniors beat UA Maracaibo 3-0 on Tuesday to scrape into the last 16 of the Libertadores Cup on goal difference after Atlas had helped the Argentine side by drawing 1-1 at Colo Colo.
Who didn't play:
If Lahm really does come on the market they'll be a fair few clubs after him. Both ManU and Chelsea are strong at left back, so maybe Italy or Spain are more likely destinations. It'd be a real shock to see Bayern let him go, but like Toni and Ribery, he's too good for the Bundesliga.
Lahm looks abroad after talks on new Bayern deal break down
Younes Kaboul's agent claims Juventus are among a host of top European clubs interested in the Tottenham Hotspur defender if he becomes available this summer
Juventus lead race for Kaboul, claims agent
Alain Cayzac has blamed the players for putting PSG in danger of relegation
Outgoing PSG chairman slams players
Serie A club target Chelsea goalkeeper and also want to prise France midfielder Mathieu Flamini away from Arsenal
Juventus tempt Cudicini with a return home
Premier Shorts: Today in the EPL
Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood has conceded that midfielder Mathieu Flamini's days as a Gunner look to be numbered
Arsenal Resigned To Flamini Exit
David Moyes is looking for more midfielders after signing Steven Pienaar to a permanent deal
Everton land Pienaar for £2m
Explosive Nigeria forward is ready to extend his stay on Tyneside as Michael Owen enthuses over manager's 'fantastic' plans
Martins's deal to endorse Keegan
The Aston Villa defender wants to help the club to secure a European place before he joins up with Juventus this summer
Mellberg aiming to bow out on high
Former Newcastle defender Titus Bramble has slammed the club's fans, calling them counter-productive for rounding on scapegoats
Bramble Slams 'Overrated' Newcastle Fans
The mistakes of a night. Unfortunately, while it was Jon Arne Riise doing the stooping, Chelsea were doing the conquering. Dude, what's wrong with using your right foot?!
After 30 minutes the moderator on UK TV called the game 'tight and tense', by which he meant 'boring and shite'. For most of the first half it looked like Liverpool Vs Chelsea was going to be another snooze fest, but in fairness things improved. The quality wasn't always there, but there were a fair few chances on both sides, and the second half was more entertaining than expected. Even though they have a tough game against ManU on Sat, Chelsea must be massive favourites, especially when considering Liverpool's scoring record at Stamford Bridge. Last eight games = no goals.
The Norwegian's headed own goal deep into stoppage time gave Avram Grant's side the edge
Riise's spectacular own goal stuns Liverpool
David Pleat: Chelsea too often hit long balls to Didier Drogba but working the ball around more got them out of jail
Short passes are the key to escaping Liverpool's cage
A disappointed Rafa Benítez blamed the referee's time-keeping and his players' finishing
Benítez: every decision went against us
Riise 's calamitous own-goal at Anfield in the Champions League semi-final first leg brought to mind some of the worst own goals ever seen
Six of the worst own goals
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Merseyside Police have warned Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to stay away from tonight's Champions League semi-final first leg against Chelsea at Anfield over fears to their safety, according to reports
Tom Hicks, George Gillett told by police to stay away
Liverpool ready despite return of Tom Hicks
Premier Shorts: Today in the EPL
Newcastle players and fans dream of a brighter tomorrow as the club rediscovers its soul under the returning manager
Keegan restores hope to the Tyne
Alexander Hleb may miss Arsenal's run-in after being charged with violent conduct
FA charge could end Hleb's season
Reading recall striker Leroy Lita from Charlton and the 23-year-old is in line to face Wigan
Coppell calls for Lita
Maurizio Zamparini, the Palermo president, says the London club have not made an offer for the highly-rated Brazil forward
No Arsenal bid for Amauri
The knives are out in Euroland: In Paris they're only being sharpened but in Valencia they've already been used ninja-style...
Paris Saint-Germain are plunging towards Ligue 2 for the first time in their history, but that might not be bad news for everyone
As PSG plummet the knives are out for hapless Le Guen
Not only was Ronald Koeman given his marching orders last night, but a whole slew of Valencia backroom staff, too. It was a veritable Bastille Day at the Mestalla as heads rolled left, right and centre. But where to now for the stricken Che, and exactly what caused the drama of the last year?
Koeman Axed - What's Wrong With Valencia?
Date: Tuesday 22 April
Kick-off: 1945 BST
U.S. TV: ESPN 2 @ 2:30 EDT
Chelsea could win both the EPL and the CL. Thankfully this possibility was rendered less likely by Carlos Tevez's late goal against Blackburn. But they could still win both, which, considering the dross they've served up this season, is as surprising as it is horrifying.
There are plenty of reasons for disliking Chelsea. Some, like they're rich or arrogant, are over-stated [which top teams aren't?], but one isn't: that they are quite outstandingly boring. Watching Chelsea has been truly painful this year - no wonder they're called the Blues. Chelsea shouldn't be hated for having loads of cash, but they should be hated for having loads of cash and using it to create such a negative team. It's like they've won the lottery and used the money to buy the world's most expensive Volvo.
It's said Chelsea can't play open football because they don't have the players. This is bollocks for two reasons. Firstly, the style of play is established by the manager and his formation, tactics, philosophy, etc. If Swansea City can play attractive football then so can Chelsea. Secondly, even a cursory look at the squad shows plenty of attacking players. To say you couldn't have a successful, attacking team with the likes of Cole, Carvalho, Ballack, Lampard, Baletti, Phillips, Anelka, Essien is just plain dumb.
At least Mourinho was honest. Grant claimed Chelsea were going to be more expansive but they've been the complete opposite. Mourinho's teams were quite expressive at times, the criticism was more that they shut up shop once they'd got a lead. Under Grant Chelsea never open up in the first place.
Almost every recent game between Chelsea and Liverpool has been dire. Liverpool themselves hardly dazzle, but have proved a touch more easy on the eye with the addition of Torres and Babel. Hopefully the two CL games will buck the trend, but it's hard to see. Unfortunately, with the second leg being in London, I see Chelsea going through.
A great occasion and a terrible game: it is what we have come to expect when Liverpool meet Chelsea
Winning is everything in latest round of a heavyweight battle
Martin Samuel says Liverpool have evolved more than Chelsea since their victory in 2005 and they can upset odds again
Benitez moves towards date with history
In many ways Avram Grant's predecessor has shown Grant what not to do
Grant must learn from his predecessor’s errors
Talking Tactics: David Pleat's opinion here and Don Howe's opinion here. They probably both say the same thing, but what the heck.
Giles Smith: History is finally on Chelsea's side
Tony Cascarino: Peter Crouch or Joe Cole could make all the difference
Watford boss Aidy Boothroyd after his side's 2-0 loss to Crystal Palace.
To the tune of Michael Jackson's 'Blame it on the Boogie':
"Don't blame it on Henry, Don't blame it on the injuries, Don't blame it on the referees, Blame it on Eboue!"
Heard at the Emirates among the season ticketholders during the 2-0 victory over Reading.
All the Fun
One of the most extravagantly gifted players of his generation was joining a club that already boasted three such talents in Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi.
'The Four Fantasticos' were meant to produce football from a different planet. But 30-year-old Henry, in particular, has come crashing back down to earth after a season of immense frustration.
All we've heard from the Barcelona camp since the new year is "We can do it." But who do the blaugrana really need to convince - us, or themselves?
Barcelona's Desperate Optimism
Manchester United require one special quality in the Catalan bull-ring that is the Nou Camp tomorrow evening: discipline
Man Utd must have discipline in Barcelona
Michael Carrick reckons Man Utd's strength in depth will serve them well at the Camp Nou
United can exploit energy reserves
What the Spanish papers are saying about Barcelona's chances against Manchester United
‘It’s all or nothing, and Lionel Messi is everything
Group A (Shanghai)
Group B (Tianjin)
Group C (Shenyang)
Group D (Oinhuangdao)
Monday, April 21, 2008
Major League Soccer is nearly a month in and we've seen enough of the league to start to draw some early conclusions. Most of the usual suspects have looked weak thus far; DC United is having trouble finding consistency with their bevy of new players, New England is struggling with injury and Houston are looking a shadow of the side that has won MLS Cup for the last two seasons. Toronto FC, Colorado and Real Salt Lake have surprised some, as has Columbus. The Chicago Fire continue to puzzle, with log stretches of possession rarely leading to the number of goals their fans would like. The Galaxy have surprised few with their spotty early form and Red Bull have proven that a new coach doesn't mean a new approach if he doesn't bring in the players he needs. Here's a quick overview of the last weekend's action, a look at early season form and an interview with the former Captain America, Claudio Reyna.
Sunday MLS Summary
Saturday MLS Summary
DC Untied fall to the Columbus Crew
Ten things you should know after MLS Week 4 Apparently nobody needs to know that Fire keeper Jon Busch is 8" too short to play keeper, can't deal with high balls into the box and makes poor decisions about when to come off of his line.
Ives Galercep reviews MLS teams offseason moves.
Interview with Claudio Reyna
King's Cup half empty for Koeman
Results: Barcelona 0-0 Espanyol, Atletico 1-3 Betis, Zaragoza 3-0 Recreativo, Sevilla 1-4 Almería, Villarreal 2-0 Valladolid, Levante 3-1 Getafe, Osasuna 0-1 Deportivo, Murcia 1-4 Mallorca, Racing 0-2 Real Madrid, Athletic 5-1 Valencia
In the first installment of a two-part special, goal.com's African correspondent Awenlimobor Sylvester weighs up the African heavyweights' chances at the FIFA World Cup of 2010...
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