Friday, August 28, 2009

Nicolas Anelka’s autobiography shocks the literary world

Chelsea forward Nicolas Anelka has the football world on tenter hooks with the imminent release of his audacious autobiography ‘It’s not me. It’s everyone else.’ Which critics are are already labelling ’shocking’ and ‘compelling.’

Vive le Foot! Ligue 1 Weekend Previews & More

I am utterly convinced that Yohann Gourcuff is the star of tomorrow and that Milan made a huge mistake by letting him go. Four goals and two assists in three games in Le Championnat for the French midfielder is already an impressive tally and there are no signs of him slowing down. Somewhat depending on his World Cup 2010 I wouldn’t be surprised to see him wearing the colors of Chelsea or Man United next year…speaking of which, the Champions League groups were drawn on Thursday with some very interesting matches for French clubs.

Lyon had the most luck with Group C because they are in my opinion superior to La Viola, and Debrecen should get the Anderlecht treatment (8-1 on aggregate this week with a superb Lisandro Lopez hat trick courtesy of the Belgians’ defence or lack thereof). I even predict them finishing with as many points as Liverpool.

Bordeaux shouldn’t have any trouble with Haifa and should cause problems for a weakened Bayern side (until Robben gels with Ribery?). As for the new Juventus, it is a bit of an enigma but it would be nice to see them play a meaningful role in Europe again. As for Marseille, getting out of group stage will not be an easy task since they will face the new Galacticos, their old nemesis from the 90s Milan and Zurich. But the pressure will be on Real and Milan.

Call it delusion or naiveté but I believe all three French teams will make it to the last 16 judged by the impressive debut by Lyon and Bordeaux and the return of playmaker Lucho Gonzalez (ARG) in OM’s midfield. I would kill to see the Real tie at Stade Velodrome…

An interesting rumor this week sees the possible loan of LA Galaxy striker London Donovan (USA) to PSG in the winter. That would be a very interesting experiment following his unconvincing loan to Bayern, especially because the competition with Guillaume Hoareau (FRA) and Mevut Erding (TUR) would be challenging at best.

As for Ligue 1 this will be a formidable weekend with the Sunday clash between the Champion and Marseille:

Auxerre got spanked by Lyon at home and have yet to score a goal!!! Meanwhile newly promoted Boulogne is riding high having won away at troubled St Etienne.

Boulogne – Auxerre 2 - 0

Lens is a pleasant surprise and they are now getting the points that will keep them away from the relegation zone come springtime. They might be able to resist the assaults of Rennes, the most serious to my big four (Bordeaux – Lyon – Marseille – PSG)

Lens – Rennes 1 - 1

Those teams of the West both disappointed and I see Le Mans go through a slump especially because Lorient tends to do well at home.

LorientLe Mans 1 - 0

Nice got atomized by a Lyon on fire in Week 3 and they will retaliate against a Montpellier side who gained its first lucky win against Sochaux . Expect French international Loic Remy to score. Twice.

Nice – Montpellier 2 – 1

One thing for sure is that one of those teams (if not both) will take their first point this Saturday. French institution St Etienne welcomed yet another gaucho striker Gonzalo Bergessio (ARG) and he will come handy at Geoffroy Guichard.

St Etienne – Grenoble 1 - 0

As predicted Monaco rebounded well last weekend and they will now have to confirm against a troubled Sochaux side…

Sochaux – Monaco 1 - 1

Lisandro Lopez (ARG) is simply frightening and the emergence of Miralem Pjanic (BOS) in midfield announces the new Lyon a lot faster than predicted. Juninho and Benzema have already been replaced…Meanwhile Nancy surprisingly fell to Le Mans last weekend and will suffer again.

Lyon – Nancy 4 - 0

Lille rocked the Europa League yesterday with a brace from Brazilian striker Tulio De Melo but PSG is on a sort of high and they will once again do well at Le Parc.

PSG – Lille 2 - 0

Toulouse had quiet a scare in their defeat to Turkish side Trabzonspor in the Europa League but they will rebound well against Ligue 1’ worst defence Valenciennes.

ToulouseValenciennes 3 – 1

If Marseille is the number one pretender to the title then this is quite simply the match they are not allowed to lose. It will be physical and Bordeaux is already on top of the table but the Velodrome should carry OM to a win. If Bordeaux win then Deschamps will already find himself in a Benitez type of situation…

Marseille - Bordeaux 2 - 1

I hit 50% correct predictions last week and I’m not sure I will do better this weekend.

Finally Raymond Domenech selected 23 players for the Romania and Serbia games in the World Cup qualifiers with very few surprises. Patrick Vieira who only played a half last week versus Bari is still being kept out, and it is rumored that Abou Diaby will start the first tie. The group actually looks like the one that could possibly go to South Africa come June albeit injured Samir Nasri and Lyon defender Jean-Alain Boumsong. Roma’s Philippe Mexes has also been left out again.

Manchester United vs. Arsenal

The rivalry in pictures

Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger: The rivalry in words

England: Premier League Weekend Previews & Predictions

All eyes will be on Old Trafford Saturday as Manchester United welcome Arsenal. Elsewhere, Chelsea host Burnley, Liverpool go to Bolton, Stoke and Sunderland clash, Spurs host Birmingham, Wolves welcome Hull, West Ham go to Blackburn, Pompey host Manchester City, Everton welcome Wigan and Fulham face Villa in Birmingham.

Preview I
Preview II

Phil McNulty: Arsenal's revival faces ManU test

Lawro's Predictions

Wenger Fury at Eduardo Charge

Gunners boss labels decision to charge striker as a 'disgrace'.

Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

Juventus will be boosted by the presence of captain Alessandro Del Piero when they travel to the Eternal City for Sunday's clash at Roma.

Milan Derby previews posted below...-Sanford

Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview

Barcelona, who last weekend completed a 5-1 aggregate win over Athletic Bilbao to add the Spanish Super Cup to their growing list of trophies under Guardiola, start their title defence at home to Sporting Gijon.

That match takes place on Monday night as Barca are in action in the European Super Cup against Shakhtar tomorrow night.

Guillem Balague's La Liga Season Preview

Who will reign in Spain?

Premier League Heroes: Peter Schmeichel

Greatness in football can be identified and categorised in any number of ways. Medals, statistics and individual awards all shed light on a player's standing in the game while some achieve recognition via a less tangible appreciation of the magical qualities that made them so memorable. Sometimes, though, a simple quote will suffice.

Italian Serie A Preview: Milan - Inter

When: Saturday 29 August, 2:45 EDT
Where: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan
U.S. TV: Fox Soccer Channel
Key Battles
Why the Milan Derby is so special

In an unusually early Milan derby, the pressure will be on Inter to avoid a defeat that would send them five points below their rivals...

Friday MLS Forecast: Week 24

The Forecast discusses MLS' weak showing against Mexican clubs in the CONCACAF Champions League before tackling the Week 24 fixture list.

The Joy of Six: Free Kick Specialists

From Brazil to Blackpool and inevitably back to Brazil, The Guardian celebrates a sextet who brought the dead ball to life.

The Mill +

Friday's Rumours


Raging bull Lisandro López blasts his way into the hearts of Lyon fans

Lyon have pulled off a master stroke selling Karim Benzema for £35m and buying this unheralded hero for half that figure.

My buddy Pedro in Lisbon has been singing López's praises for a while now. Nothing against Lyon, but it is surprising that he wasn't snatched up by a "bigger" club. You were right, Pedro. You were right. -Sanford

Europa League Action

Goodnight Villa as Vienna progess: Report

Review Part I

Review Part II

Draw: Fulham get Roma

Spurs star Bentley banned for drink-driving

The 24-year-old winger crashed his Porsche into a lamppost after drinking four pints and two spirits at a gig.

UEFA charge Eduardo for "deceiving ref"

UEFA said in a statement: "Having studied video evidence of the incident in question, the UEFA disciplinary inspector decided to charge the player concerned. The UEFA control and disciplinary body will examine the case on September 1.''

Just to offer a little perspective...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

UEFA Champions League: 2009-2010 Group Stage

Group A
Bayern Munich (Germany)
Juventus (Italy)
Bordeaux (France)
Maccabi Haifa (Israel)

Group B
Manchester United (England)
CSKA Moscow (Russia)
Besiktas (Turkey)
Wolfsburg (Germany)

Group C
AC Milan (Italy)
Real Madrid (Spain)
Marseille (France)
Zürich (Switzerland)

Group D
Chelsea (England)
Porto (Portugal)
Atlético Madrid (Spain)
APOEL (Cyprus)

Group E
Liverpool (England)
Lyon (France)
Fiorentina (Italy)
Debreceni VSC (Hungary)

Group F
Barcelona (Spain)
Inter Milan (Italy)
Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine)
Rubin Kazan (Russia)

Group G
Sevilla (Spain)
Rangers (Scotland)
Stuttgart (Germany)
Unirea Urziceni (Romania)

Group H
Arsenal (England)
AZ Alkmaar (Holland)
Olympiacos (Greece)
Standard Liege (Belgium)

Tony Cascarino: They are like dinosaurs we had all hoped were extinct

I played for Millwall in 1987 when we beat West Ham United 2-1 at Upton Park in the Simod Cup. I don’t remember the sound of the crowd, or the referee’s whistle; just the sirens as police cars and ambulances circled the stadium.

Kevin McCarra: Samuel Eto'o's arrival at Internazionale should enliven the Champions League

With the striker on board, the Serie A champions finally look equipped to make an impact in Europe this season.

Spain: Season Previews for Valencia & Sevilla



Uefa to Review Eduardo Incident

European football's governing body is to investigate an alleged dive by Arsenal's Eduardo during the Champions League 3-1 qualifier win over Celtic.

If found guilty of simulation, the striker could face a two-match ban.

The Mill + ++

Thursday's Rumours



West Ham face ground closure over violence

West Ham United will need to prove to the Football Association they did everything possible to prevent the ugly crowd scenes that marred Tuesday's Carling Cup tie against Millwall to stave off the possibility either of being forced to play behind closed doors or cast from the competition.

Liverpool: Benitez Left Without a Fall Guy

As Rafael Benitez flounders in a mire of his own making, it's easy to picture a happier scene being played out not a million miles away from Anfield.

Champions League Draw: Pots Decided - Barcelona Top Seed

The big guns, such as Barcelona, Manchester United, and Chelsea, had long since qualified for this round already. But the play-offs brought qualification to the likes of Arsenal and Lyon, who had to negotiate the non-champions round.

But there are some unsung sides among the top table, too. Debrecen of Hungary qualify via the play-off for champions route, while Russia's Rubin Kazan are automatically placed in the groups.

Champions League Qualifying Wrap: Fiorentina Go Through

APOEL Nicosia
booked their place in the group stages of the Champions League for the first time with a 3-1 win at home to FC Copenhagen.


Champions League Play-Off Second Leg: Arsenal 3 - 1 Celtic

Eduardo's controversial penalty helped Arsenal secure another shot at the £30m jackpot of the Champions League with a comfortable 3-1 win on the night - 5-1 on aggregate - over Celtic at Emirates Stadium.

David Hytner:
Eduardo taints demolition job

Player Ratings

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fighting Millwall and West Ham fans return football to dark ages

For a time at Upton Park last night it was as if football had been transported back to the 1980s, as supporters of West Ham United and Millwall re-enacted a time when the match was only a backdrop to rioting.

Italy’s Serie A Confirms Breakaway League

Italy’s top flight Serie A clubs confirmed they will split from the second division Serie B sides in an attempt to make up ground on England’s Premier League and Spain’s La Liga.

The move is based on the English clubs’ 1992 breakaway which transformed the sport and made the Premier League the richest in the world.

The Mill +

Wednesday's Rumours


Champions League Play-Off Preview: Arsenal – Celtic

Another ‘Battle of Britain’ recommences with the Gunners holding a two goal advantage and looking red hot favourites to qualify.

Kick-Off: Wednesday 26 August 19.45 BST
Emirates Stadium, London
U.S. TV: Fox Soccer Channel

Champions League Play-Off Preview: Fiorentina - Sporting CP

Fiorentina will look to take advantage of their 2-2 draw in Lisbon in the first leg against Sporting when they host the Portuguese runners-up in the second leg of this Champions League play-off tie.

Wednesday 26 August, 20:45 CET
Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence, Italia

Spain: Season Previews for Barcelona & Real Madrid

It promises to be a fascinating campaign in the top division in Spain as Real Madrid have purchased a new wave of Galácticos and Barcelona have shipped Eto'o to Inter in exchange for Swedish hitman Ibrahimović.


Real Madrid

Hull City 3 - 1 Southend United: Altidore Stars

Jozy Altidore scored his first Hull goal as the Tigers claimed a place in the third round of the Carling Cup with a 3-1 win over Southend.

The USA striker marked his first start by doubling a much-changed Hull side's lead after a brilliant opener from debutant Tom Cairney at the KC Stadium.

Champions League Wrap: Lisandro hits hat-trick as Lyon qualify for group phase

French club Olympique Lyon and Atletico Madrid of Spain booked their places in Thursday’s draw for the Champions League group stages with convincing playoff wins on Tuesday.


Violence at Upton Park

A man has been stabbed in the chest during "large-scale trouble" involving hundreds of fans at West Ham's Carling Cup match against Millwall.

Fights broke out at 1800 BST and were still raging five hours later. A 44-year-old man is stable after being stabbed in Priory Road at 2025 BST.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said missiles had been thrown at officers but none were injured.

Inside Upton Park stadium West Ham fans invaded the pitch three times.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

UEFA Champions League Qualifying Preview

Atletico Madrid
will seek to take a temporary, yet lucrative step, out of the huge shadow cast by neighbours Real on Tuesday by completing a qualifying round win over Greek side Panathinaikos to take their place in the Champions League group stage.

Tuesday fixtures:

Debrecen (HUN) v Levski Sofia (BUL) (Debrecen lead 2-1)
Anderlecht (BEL) v Lyon (FRA) (Lyon lead 5-1)
Maccabi Haifa (ISR) v FC Salzburg (AUT) (Haifa lead 2-1)
FC Zurich (SUI) v FK Ventspils (LAT) (Zurich lead 3-0)
Atletico Madrid
(ESP) v Panathinaikos (GRE) (Atletico lead 3-2)

Arsenal (ENG) v Celtic (SCO) (Arsenal lead 2-0)
Fiorentina (ITA) v Sporting Lisbon (POR) (First leg 2-2)
Apoel Nicosia
(CYP) v FC Copenhagen (DEN) 1 (Copenhagen lead 1-0)
(GRE) v Sheriff (MDA) (Olympiakos lead 2-0)
VfB Stuttgart (GER) v Timisoara (ROM) (Stuttgart lead 2-0)

Italy: Serie A Worst Team Of The Week looks at the players who could have done better from the first round of the Serie A calendar...

Tim Vickery in South America

A few month's back on Radio 5's World Football Phone-In (Friday night/Saturday morning, normally between 2.30 am and 4am if you care to join us), the excellent analyst of European football, Andy Brassell, was talking about the first Champions League game he attended in Italy.

He had a shock. An English team was involved, but the match stewards could not speak English. In my wanderings around South America, however, I would get a similar shock if I saw such a thing as a steward.

Phil McNulty: Benitez and O'Neill on the Offensive

Rafael Benitez marched briskly through Anfield's main entrance nearly two hours after defeat to Aston Villa and moved to reassure a concerned Liverpool supporter with the words: "We keep going."

The Mill +

Tuesday's Rumours


Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Defeat to Bundesliga's new boys consigned Louis van Gaal's side to their worst start since 1966 and scathing criticism.

Mainz's unsung heroes put Bayern's poor start under further scrutiny.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

Adrian Mutu has a £14.6m debt to Chelsea hanging over his head, but this weekend Fiorentina reaped the benefits.

Mutu finds peace only on the pitch as Serie A kicks off.

Roman Rule: Wide Open Plains

The Italian Serie A kicked off with its first matchday of the season.'s Zac Lee Rigg sees open plains for teams to race through as the season approaches.

Americans On The Continent: When Pigs Fly

After receiving the all clear following an H1N1 swine flu scare, American international Steve Cherundolo reprised his normal starting role in Hannover’s road win over FC Nurnberg.

Americans In The UK: Altidore And Dempsey Shine

With two weeks of Premiership action in the books, it’s clear that some of the top Americans are struggling while one newcomer looks like a sure thing.

2010 World Cup Mock U.S. Roster

World Cup qualifying is in full flow, and coach Bob Bradley continues to evaluate players. ESPNsoccernet projects whom we think Bradley will choose as his 23-man U.S. roster for the 2010 World Cup. Players are ranked from top to bottom in terms of how certain a lock they appear to be for the roster and their current perceived pecking order. As befitting standard squad composition, we've chosen three goalkeepers, eight defenders, eight midfielders and four forwards.


Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger in Germany

One of the more honourable aims of journalism is to speak for the weak, the disenfranchised, those forgotten on the fringes. Which, I guess, means for a certain Bayern Munich player.

Richard Jolly at Anfield

Trio of mistakes cost Liverpool dear
Liverpool 1 - 3 Aston Villa

Monday, August 24, 2009

Big Sam Allardyce is a king among grumpy old men

The Blackburn Rovers manager is not a man who invites sympathy. In fact, seeing him hard done by is one of the great sights on Match of the Day.

Martin Rogers: Weekend Review

The English Premier League offers no room for complacency, a point Jozy Altidore would do well to bear in mind this week.

The United States striker made a solid debut for Hull City, setting up the game-winning goal for Kamel Ghilas just seconds after coming on as a substitute in Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers. However, the EPL rarely hands success on a plate to wide-eyed youngsters like the 19-year-old Altidore.