Friday, September 11, 2009

Vive Le Foot!

So there, I did poorly on my predictions for the World Cup qualifiers with two 1 – 1 draws and the quasi certitude that France will finish second in group 7 behind Serbia and will battle with the likes of Portugal, Greece or Russia for a World Cup spot, not an easy task…

The pastel Gaucho enters the Ligue 1 Pampa

Among the positives it seems that Thierry Henry finally took control of the national team after the weekend soap opera that was the highly publicized confrontation with coach Domenech and even scored both goals. Expect Thierry to take over Les Bleus in the same manner Zizou did in 2006 with hopefully the same semi-success…

In any case it is almost a relief to go back to Ligue 1 and more simple matters granted that the Champions League will follow a couple of days later…

OM disappointed at home in its goalless draw vs. Bordeaux and they haven’t won since mid-August but the debut of Argentinean playmaker extraordinaire Lucho Gonzalez will provide ample entertainment at the expense of a very average Le Mans team that will nevertheless make OM doubt…

Le Mans – Marseille 1 - 1

Poor Lille, once a Champions League side, already flirting with the bottom of the table. Meanwhile Sochaux rebounded well against Monaco…will they win? Yes. Elegantly? No. Ex- Ligue 1 goleador Pierre-Alain Frau (FRA) is back.

Lille – Sochaux 1 - 0

Lorient has enjoyed a nice start in the league thanks to an assist leading Olivier Monterrubio (FRA), but Lyon , even without Lisandro Lopez (ARG) and Jean-Alain Boumsong (FRA) will prove to be too much for Lorient. Lyon is deep this year, very deep.

Lyon – Lorient 3 - 1

The happily promoted sides face each other and will give a 100%. In the end these two high scoring teams will both be satisfied with an entertaining draw.

Montpellier – Lens 2 - 2

The advantage goes to Nancy, unlucky at Lyon on week 4. Toulouse is not showing much in the beginning of this season and it’s getting worse.

NancyToulouse 2 – 1

Valenciennes got their first points 2 weeks ago and Boulogne keep on surprising everybody solidifying their Ligue 1 presence but they don’t score much…

ValenciennesBoulogne 0 – 0

How can a team be already threatened by relegation after only 4 games in the league? By playing the leader and best attack of Le Championnat: a Bordeaux team that will steamroll Grenoble’s poor defence

BordeauxGrenoble 3 - 0

Auxerre is the only team that has yet to score a goal and luckily they are playing the worst defence of Ligue 1. Nice got spanked at home a couple of weekends ago so this is revenge, especially because Gignac showed nothing with Les Bleus which should provide motivation for French international striker Loic Remy to score!

Auxerre – Nice 1 - 2

St Etienne finally gathered their first points and Gonzalo Bergessio (ARG) and Guirane NDaw (SEN) scored in a friendly against Ligue 2 Dijon so I feel like they finally got a kickstart. Rennes drew in their last 3 games but they will win tonight.

Rennes – St Etienne 3 – 1

PSG suffered a setback with Erding’s shoulder injury but with only 59 minutes of playing time Christophe Jallet (FRA) has scored twice in the last 2 games and he’s adding some much needed depth to the midfield after the loan of Jerome Rothen to Glasgow Rangers. Monaco Coach Guy Lacombe is facing his old team and will want to prove something, especially with the addition of star Eidur Gudjohnsen (ICE) straight from Barca.

Monaco – PSG 1 – 2

The Frenchman!

The Joy of Six: Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United Memories

From 'WILLGETAREDCARD!' to 'Ab-so-lutely beautiful!' – it's not just the commentators who have been excited by this classic fixture.

Friday MLS Forecast

The Forecast laments the potential loss of a great nickname in Kansas City before diving into the Week 26 schedule.

Marcela Mora y Araujo: Ditching Diego Will Not Help

If Diego Maradona stays there could be trouble, and if he goes it could be double.

Amy Lawrence: Thierry Henry pulls the strings of France's puppet leader Domenech

Thierry Henry, rather than the coach, Raymond Domenech, now runs the France team as they bid to reach the World Cup.

Premier League Heroes: Le Tissier: Le God

When you think of football's greatest one-club men, the likes of Tony Adams, Paolo Maldini and Ryan Giggs spring to mind. But how hard can it be to stay at a club at the pinnacle of European football? Was their loyalty truly tested? The same question cannot be asked of Matt Le Tissier, the Southampton legend and one of the finest players to grace the Premier League stage.

England: Premier League Weekend Previews & Predictions

Manchester City host Arsenal, Tottenham host Manchester United, Chelsea go to Stoke, Liverpool host Burnley, Blackburn welcome Wolves, Bolton are at Pompey, Sunderland host Hull, Wigan welcome West Ham, Birmingham Derby as Villa go to St. Andrews and Fulham host Everton...
Preview I

Unbeaten Spurs face United test

Rafa must avoid Burnley banana skin

Lawro's Predictions

Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview

Michel's promising start will be put to the test this weekend when Getafe play host to mighty Barcelona. With no previous top-flight coaching experience and only limited time at Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid Castilla, Michel may have been considered a surprise choice when relegation-threatened Getafe needed a replacement for the sacked Victor Munoz in April.

Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

Lazio coach Davide Ballardini has asked his players to show they are worthy of their lofty league position when they play Juventus. Two consecutive victories have placed the Roman side as joint Serie A leaders with the Bianconeri, Sampdoria and Genoa.

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Preview

After the international break, the Bundesliga returns with some tantalising clashes on Saturday. Clark Whitney previews all the weekend action…

Saturday, September 12
(all times local)
15:30 Wolfsburg – Bayer Leverkusen
15:30 Mainz – Hertha Berlin
15:30 Hoffenheim – Bochum
15:30 Freiburg – Eintracht Frankfurt
15:30 Dortmund – Bayern Munich
15:30 Nuernberg – Moenchengladbach
18:30 Hamburg - Stuttgart

Sunday, September 13
15:30 Werder Bremen - Hannover
17:30 Koeln - Schalke

England boss Capello announces WAG crackdown

After qualifying for the World Cup with an impressive victory over Croatia on Wednesday, Fabio Capello has wasted little time in signalling that he will not indulge the notorious Wag culture at next summer's finals.

Argentina: Beware of False Idols

Oh dear, oh dear. When Diego Maradona was appointed as manager of Argentina last October, we all knew his team would be in for a bumpy ride at times. Those of a more sensible - I won't say sceptical - bent, guessed from the start that it had the potential to go very badly wrong for Argentina indeed. Few in their darkest dreams could have expected it to be this bad, though.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Road To Africa: The Path To World Cup 2010 Qualification

The World Cup of 2010 is already taking shape, with eleven of the 32 teams on offer having already staked a claim towards a tournament berth.

The teams who have already qualified:

South Africa (CAF - as hosts)
Japan (AFC)
Australia (AFC)
South Korea (AFC)
Netherlands (UEFA)
North Korea (AFC)
Ghana (CAF)
England (UEFA)
Spain (UEFA)
Paraguay (CONMEBOL)

Quotes & Chants of the Week

"And now Defoe can open his legs and go."
ITV commentator telling us something we really didn't need to know during England v Slovenia.

Jeff Stelling: "John, I can't believe there are people leaving the stadium with the game like this..."
John Salako: "The game has finished, Jeff."
Banter on Sky's Soccer Saturday after the MK Dons-Huddersfield game which finished 2-3.

"Who needs Thierry? We've got Karl Henry. He's not a Frenchman, he's from Wolverhampton."
Wolves fans to their midfielder.

"Five feet four, five feet foouurrr. We've got Arshavin - **** Adebayor!"
Arsenal fans to the tune of the Beach Boys' Sloop John B.

The Rest

World Cup Qualifying: Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland

Wales 1 - 3 Russia:
Mathematically confirmed failure
Only 11,589 see luckless Welsh

Scotland 0 - 1 Netherlands:
Tartan dream left in tatters

Burley to discover fate next week

Northern Ireland 0 - 2 Slovakia:
Frustration as WC chances take hit
Irish lapses cost them dear

World Cup Qualifying: Mega Wrap

Belgium lose to Armenia, Poland lose to Slovenia, Paraguay qualify, Bahrain still has a chance at the dance...

Mega Wrap

World Cup Qualifying: Trinidad & Tobago 0 - 1 United States

Just one more win will give the United States its sixth straight World Cup berth.

Ricardo Clark scored in the 62nd minute, and the United States beat Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 Wednesday night to move into first place in World Cup qualifying.

The U.S. could clinch when it plays at Honduras on Oct. 10. The Americans close four days later at home against Costa Rica in Washington, D.C. The top three teams qualify for the World Cup, and the No. 4 nation goes to a playoff against the fifth-place team in South America.

U.S. salvages lackluster performance with win

Player Ratings

World Cup Qualifying: UEFA Wrap

Like England last year, 1998 World Cup winner France might miss out on a major tournament after a second straight draw. Group 7 leader Serbia held the French to 1-1 in Belgrade to leave them trailing by four points with two matches to go.

Portugal could also be relying on capturing second place and a playoff to reach South Africa, although the side - featuring world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo - boosted its chances by leaving Hungary with a 1-0 win.


World Cup Qualifying: England 5 - 1 Croatia

So much for the impossible job. So much for the Lampard-Gerrard conundrum. So much for English football’s crisis of confidence. This was one of those rare nights when hope and glory made an appearance at Wembley — a testament to a team’s spectacular transformation under the management of Fabio Capello.

Dale Johnson: England reborn under classy Capello
Paul Hayward: Transformation nothing short of remarkable
Harry Harris: Victorious England still need Plan B

England Player Ratings

World Cup Qualifying: Paraguay 1 - 0 Argentina

Paraguay secured their place at next summer's World Cup finals with a well-deserved win over Diego Maradona's hapless Argentina.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Rooney's Dive Against Slovenia

Top 10 Teams That Failed To Qualify For The World Cup

With Portugal, Argentina and France all at risk of making it to South Africa 2010, Carlo Garganese looks back at the Top 10 Teams Who Failed To Qualify For The World Cup…


World Cup Qualifying Preview: United States - Trinidad and Tobago

CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying


Wednesday, September 9; 7 p.m. EDT

Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain, Trinidad

U.S. TV:
ESPN Classic, ESPN360

U.S. looks to improve road form

Ives: Lessons learned

Richard Williams: The night when English football sank in a mire of its own making

The last time Croatia came to Wembley for a crucial qualifier, impotence reigned down at pitch level.

2010 FIFA World Cup: Wednesday's Qualifying Previews

World Cup in sight for England, Serbia, Spain
UEFA: Complete tables and breakdown
UEFA Group One: Hungary vs. Portugal
UEFA Group Three:
Northern Ireland vs. Slovakia
UEFA Group Six: England vs. Croatia
UEFA Group Seven: Serbia vs. France
UEFA Group Eight: Italy vs. Bulgaria
UEFA Group Nine: Scotland vs. Netherlands
Argentina in trouble, Chile and Paraguay close
CONCACAF: Mexico vs. Honduras

Martin Rogers Column

3. Get them some earplugs

The entire Costa Rica team was booed off the field after its 3-0 home thrashing by Mexico. Once sitting in a position of strength in the CONCACAF hexagonal group, the team is now devoid of confidence and in real danger of being forced into a playoff for a spot in South Africa.

Why it's good to be a soccer player: Federico Macheda's woman...

Trecker: Regional rivals not showing much fear of the U.S.

The facts are pretty plain — the USA is currently an average national team. They routinely lose to quality sides and have now begun to regress at home. They lack significant depth at too many positions, and seem unable to overcome adversity. This is a program which, according to U.S. Soccer's most recently available financial reports, has had some $27 million lavished upon it and has a coach who is receiving half a mil a year to lose five of six to quality teams.

Jonathan Wilson in Eastern Europe

Victory over Turkey will put Bosnia on the brink of a play-off place and ensure that their charismatic coach goes down in history.

Ciro Blazevic manages to be the life and soul of Bosnia's party.

Paul Le Guen's formula puts Cameroon on threshold of the World Cup

The former Lyon and Rangers manager has reinvigorated a squad that often carried too much baggage.

France: Never forgive or forget

Everyone loves a winner, but the French don't seem to be able to get enough of their scapegoats. Since Saturday night, Julien Escudé is likely to be considering setting up a Facebook therapy group for those who have endured the Joan of Arc treatment, though obviously without the burning at the stake part.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Nick Webster: It's no party without Messi or Ronaldo in S. Africa

After a weekend of surprising World Cup Qualifying results in Europe and South America, two of the planet's biggest players are in danger of missing out on the big party next summer. In my opinion, if Argentina's Lionel Messi and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo do miss out on the festivities in South Africa, the World Cup will be severely diminished by their absence, both in terms of star power and the economics that they drive.

France and Portugal in battle of nerves as they struggle towards qualification

Two of the World Cup semi-finalists from 2006 are in danger of missing out in 2010 after disappointing 1-1 draws on Saturday. France, with Franck Ribéry controversially starting on the bench, were held at home by Romania while Portugal needed an 86th-minute equaliser to avoid defeat in Denmark.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

Italians believe the national team needs Antonio Cassano to get the goals flowing. Marcello Lippi doesn't agree.

Italy's scoring crisis continues despite win in Georgia.

Critics round on Diego Maradona after Brazil twist knife against Argentina

The pragmatism of Dunga clashes head on with Diego Maradona's romantic attacking vision, and on Saturday night the former offered a masterclass to the latter. Argentina had promised to attack Brazil, but in doing so played to Brazil's strength. The 3-1 defeat in Rosario now jeopardises Argentina's qualification hopes.

Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger in Germany

Three weeks ago, a reader who calls himself VolkerFinke left this comment: "I knew I should have changed my career a long while ago. People get paid to sit and watch football? You lucky son of a man!" Let me, belatedly, answer the question. No, as far as I know people do not get paid to sit and watch football. At least not primarily for this activity. To argue otherwise would be a bit like claiming that Quentin Tarantino gets paid for watching trashy 1970s films.

Phil Ball in Spain

All quiet on the Spanish league front this week, with the traditional stop-start beginning to the season dictated by the September wave of World Cup qualifiers. Spain thrashed Belgium 5-0, but that's hardly news. Nobody expected anything else, but the blip at the hands of the USA back in June seems to have had the desired effect, and the team is looking even more awesome than before. Belgium made their contribution to this, and Spain will have harder games to contemplate in the future, but the balance of the side seemed nigh-on perfect.

World Cup Qualifying: United States 2 - 1 El Salvador

The United States managed a 2-1 win over El Salvador at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah after falling down 1-0 in the first half. Both of the U.S. goals came from assists by captain Landon Donovan who found the heads of teammates Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey. However, the El Salvador side put up a good fight and challenged the home team right up until the final whistle.

Steve Davis: U.S. overcomes another slow start

Player Ratings

Winners and Losers

Road To Africa: The Path To World Cup 2010 Qualification

The World Cup of 2010 is already taking shape, with seven of the 32 teams on offer having already staked a claim towards a tournament berth.

In trouble...

The teams who have already qualified:

South Africa (CAF - as hosts)
Japan (AFC)
Australia (AFC)
South Korea (AFC)
Netherlands (UEFA)
North Korea (AFC)
Ghana (CAF)

So, that leaves space for 24 more countries.