Friday, October 09, 2009

Vive le Foot!

The ever troubled French national team will be facing the Faroe Islands @ Guingamp, the 2009 winner of the Coupe de France and “birthplace” of the current Chelsea partnership of Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda. The match should be a formality but even with a win against Austria at Stade de France on Wednesday , it will take a miracle to see France finish first of group 7 and qualify directly for the World Cup.

Raymond tries to regain the trust of his players with a new jazz hands routine...

The popularity of the team and its coach Raymond Domenech is at such a low that they might not fill up the modest 16,000 capacity Roudourou stadium. After the public spat between Domenech and Benzema that ended by words of forgiveness from the French coach, the Real player will start…on the bench, once again proving that the Domenech remains a pathetic master at antagonizing his players and demoralizing his troops. Ribery and Gourcuff, the two playmakers of les Bleus, are injured so France will have to rely on the leadership of Thierry Henry, the return of Sydney Govou and the current form of Nicolas Anelka.

France can technically avoid the qualifiers playoffs if they win both games and Serbia doesn’t win at least one of their games against Romania and Lithuania. Furthermore, FIFA has warned they will penalize Serbia by taking points away would the fans repeat the kind of trouble that cost the life of a French fan in Belgrade 3 weeks ago.

The Frenchman!

Barack Obama Awarded FIFA Player of the Year

In an unexpected decision which shocked many, FIFA has decided to award its annual Player of the Year award early this year, saying that United States President Barack Obama was the obvious choice and that there was no point in delaying the decision. There has been no comment at this time from the trio expected finalists, Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez and Christiano Ronaldo.

World Cup Qualifying Weekend Grab-Bag

Who has qualified already?
Top Five Biggest Matches of the Weekend

South America
Diego to rely on Messi
Diego: "I will not quit!"
Uruguay face tactical dilemma
Bolivia Wary of Kaka

North America
Mexico/El Salvador Preview
Costa Rica/Trinidad Preview
USA/Honduras: Cletus looks back
USA Needs Midfield Quality

Future bright for Ghana
Cameroon Ready for Revenge
Pressure mounts on Egypt

Fabio: England will play for win
Ronaldo fit to face Hungary
Danes Wary of Zlatan
Arshavin trains his sights on Germany
Trapattoni Does Italian Job on Irish
Henry demands France improvement

Last run out for Socceroos Golden Generation
Playoff Preview: Bahrain/New Zealand

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Martin Rogers: The big game that few people will see

Picture the scene: Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula is rocking with a mass of flag-waving Hondurans clad in blue and white. Bob Bradley looks pensive on the sidelines, and Tim Howard flexes his neck muscles, trying to alleviate some of the tension before the game that could clinch the United States’ place in next year’s World Cup. The game kicks off …

Now hold on to that image and lock it away in your brain.

Because you’re probably not going to get to see it for real.


Must-see closed-circuit TV

To watch the big Honduras-USA showdown in World Cup qualifying on Saturday (10 p.m. ET kickoff), you’ll have to find a closed-circuit TV location near you.

English broadcast venues

Spanish broadcast venues

Ten things you didn't know about Ukraine

England take on Ukraine in Dnipropetrovsk on Saturday, with the hosts desperate for victory to keep their World Cup hopes alive. But just how much do we know about Ukraine...

Martin Tyler's Column

Every week he will be here to offer you statistical gems to make your day, impress your mates and, on occasion, to settle the odd bet.

Sky Sports' voice of football and his back-up team of experts are here to answer your questions and queries on all things statistical and historical from the beautiful game.

Giovanni Trapattoni gives Ireland reminder of glory days

The Italian hopes to follow the path laid by Jack Charlton and lead his side to the World Cup finals.

Quotes & Chants of the Week

"We saw Jaws from James Bond at our hotel. He looks frightening in real life, like in the film. We all had a group photo and he was pretending to choke some of us. He would make a good keeper judging by the size of his hands."
Bristol City goalkeeper Dean Gerken as the team meet an unexpected guest at their hotel in Newcastle.

"It is not just about winning trophies - I can say that in the last five years I have won lots of trophies myself as a human, if you see what I mean, as well as footballing achievements."
Robin van Persie reveals his human side when asked about Arsenal's four-season trophy drought.

"I have my lederhosen ready and I am a party animal so I'm looking forward to the visit."
Bayern Munich manager Louis van Gaal provides a good reason not to visit the famous Oktoberfest beer festival.

"The goals changed the game for us."
Scunthorpe boss Nigel Adkins after his side went down 2-0 at Forest.

"We don't need no health and safety,
We don't need no ground control,
We're just here to support the Boro
....Hey, stewards, leave our fans alone!"
To the tune of Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall, sung at Boro-Reading as fans at the front were told to sit down.

The Rest

Belgium turn on their own team as self-obsessed players hit new lows

Turkey hope to sustain their World Cup qualifying hopes in Belgium, but the hosts will just want to avoid another fiasco.

"But the mentality of some of the players is deplorable ... we got fed up with the many intolerable things that made it impossible for us to do our jobs ... they are pseudo-stars ... with the sick attitude of childish snobs."

Alex Ferguson's dirty diversion drags Wiley's reputation into the gutter

The Manchester United manager is prepared to put Alan Wiley's professional reputation at risk just to stop people pointing out his keeper is hopeless.

17-Year-Old Kevin Keegan at Scunthorpe

Fresh Injury Worry For Schalke Midfielder Jermaine Jones

The news does not only come as a blow for Schalke coach Felix Magath, but endangers the player's chances of making it into the USA's 2010 World Cup squad. Jones will not be able to participate in any of the States' potential November international friendlies due to the recovery setback.

Which African Sides Will Join Ghana In South Africa Next Year?'s Peter Pedroncelli & Samm Audu take a close look at all the possible permutations as World Cup qualifying draws to a climax, and they find that some big names will miss out...

In trouble...

Ives: U.S. faces the most talented Honduras team in history

While World Cup qualifying has become a rite of passage for the U.S. national team, given its five straight trips to the World Cup, the same success has eluded Honduras, which has not qualified for the World Cup since its lone appearance in 1982.

A loaded generation of talent stands poised to change that.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Calcio Debate: Top 10 Youngsters In Serie A

Who are the finest Under-23 players in Serie A? Who has shone the brightest in the Italian top flight so far this season?'s Gil Gillespie cuts through an increasingly congested forest of young talent and singles out the ten most outstanding saplings around...

Marek Hamsik, Napoli...

Spanish Inquisition: Pedros, Manuels, Marc, Mikel & ‘El Pirata’ - Spain’s Best Uncapped Secrets

As Vicente del Bosque nails down his Spain World Cup squad,’s KS Leong takes a look at some of the country’s other gifted stars who have so far been deprived of a call-up to La Seleccion…

Alvaro Negredo, Sevilla...

World Cup Games To Watch: Where's The Decisive Action This Weekend?

There are literally dozens of international games taking place across the world this weekend, from Argentina to Bahrain to Croatia and beyond. For many countries, there is nothing left to play for but pride. They may have already qualified, as is the case with Brazil, or have been eliminated, like Peru. Those seeking the true action this weekend, then, may wish to stick to those games where there is something massive at stake. Certain teams can secure qualification, others need a win to keep their faint hopes alive. Let's look at the key games to watch this weekend...

Manama, Bahrain...

Lee Dixon's Tactical View

I can still remember my first impression of Arsene Wenger when he took over as Arsenal manager back in 1996. He had the look of a geography teacher about him and came across as being very studious. A few of us in that Arsenal side were of an age where we were set in our ways, but also looking over our shoulders to see how long we had left in the game. So we were pretty receptive to new ideas.

At 32 years of age I was wondering whether he was going to phase me out, but he told us he would extend our careers if we followed his advice. I was more than happy to listen to him if he could get me playing until the ripe old age of 38 - and he did.

Blackburn 0-2 Arsenal
David Seaman (English), Lee Dixon (English), Nigel Winterburn (English), Patrick Vieira (French), Steve Bould (English), Tony Adams (English), David Platt (English), Ian Wright (English), Paul Merson (English), Martin Keown (English), John Hartson (Welsh)

Arsenal 6-2 Blackburn
Vito Mannone (Italian), Thomas Vermaelen (Belgian), Gael Clichy (French), Bacary Sagna (French), William Gallas (French), Andrey Arshavin (Russian), Cesc Fabregas (Spanish), Alex Song (Cameroonian), Abou Diaby (French), Tomas Rosicky (Czech), Robin van Persie (Dutch)

North East Football: A Three-Month Report

International week. For clubs and supporters alike, an opportunity to sit back and reflect (cliche alert - why? Why can’t we do star jumps and reflect?) on the first three months of the season and consider the tribulations which might lie ahead. In the lack of any grand theme to get our teeth into, this column is getting in on the act: this week, a scattergun approach to North East football.

Avram Grant is Portsmouth's new director of football

Grant has been out of the game since being sacked by Chelsea at the end of the 2007-08 season after they lost to Manchester United in the Champions League final and were beaten to the Premier League title on the final day.

Amy Lawrence: Will France Make the World Cup?

The first of a series on former World Cup winners struggling to reach South Africa looks at France.

Embattled Argentina coach Diego Maradona considering resignation

Maradona said his appointment a year ago had made him "the happiest guy in the world, but then things happened that I didn't like."

"If I carry on, it will be on my terms," Maradona told reporters after a squad practice, adding he would discuss the job with Argentine Football Association president Julio Grondona.

Like, you turned the team into a bunch of losers? I wouldn't like that either...

Dell'Apa: Slim chance for U.S. World Cup seeding in 2010

FIFA doesn't easily forgive or forget when it comes to World Cup seedings.

If the U.S. goes to South Africa next year, hanging over its head will be losses to Germany, Iran and Yugoslavia (1998) and to the Czech Republic and Ghana (2006). And, even should the U.S. remain high in the FIFA rankings and win the CONCACAF qualifying group, it has almost no chance of being selected as a seeded team.


U.S. vs. Honduras
Estadio Olimpico; San Pedro Sula, Honduras
10 p.m. ET

Oct. 14
U.S. vs. Costa Rica
RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.
8 p.m. ET

Still no TV for the Honduras match??!! -Ed.

Richard Jolly: Clarets crowd help conquer opposition

For a succession of visitors to a foreign corner of Lancashire, it has become the Turf Moor death rattle. Seemingly rocking, the stands erupt as the bouncing Burnley fans celebrate another goal, another win and another vaunted victim. It is becoming a routine.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

England: Kids Get Arrested

Aston Villa youngster Isaiah Osbourne has been arrested during training on suspicion of conspiracy to rob, it emerged on Tuesday afternoon.

Everton striker Jose Baxter has been released on bail following his arrest on a drugs charge, it was confirmed on Tuesday morning. Baxter, 17, was one of three men arrested in Kirkby on Monday on suspicion of possession of cannabis with intent to supply and on suspicion of possessing counterfeit money.

You won't be needing these where you're goin', will ya luv?

George Gillett: blame Rafael Benítez for Liverpool's failings

George Gillett has claimed that Rafael Benítez is to blame for Liverpool’s failings on the pitch – rather than the owners – after stating that the club is in “extraordinarily” good financial shape compared with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United.

Tim Vickery in South America

It's South America's newest force against the oldest when Ecuador meet Uruguay this Saturday in a crunch World Cup qualifier.

It is a match with much to teach about the geography of the continent and the history of the game in this part of the world.

Phil Minshull on the Continent

Sampdoria and Jermaine Pennant...

Kevin McCarra: More surprises in store as stagnating Big Four fall back into the pack

A levelling down of the Premier League's dominant clubs does not mean they are spent forces in Europe, but it does make for a season of surprising results.

Sid Lowe in Spain

It was more than just the season's first big clash. It was as if Sevilla were representing the whole league.

For a moment Sevilla's fans thought Real Madrid were going to get away with it. They weren't.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Jupp Heynckes has instilled the characteristics of their midfield maestro into a team that is now hammering away at the imperfections.

Simon Rolfes finds mean streak and Sami Hyypia helps send Leverkusen top.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

In isolation, defeat at Palermo might have been shrugged off. But in the context there are deeper issues for Ciro Ferrara and Juve.

Cause for concern at Juventus as Old Lady's fragility is exposed again.

Americans On The Continent: Five for Fighting

Steve Cherundolo’s Hannover 96 squad hit five goals against SC Freiburg over the weekend, ending their streak of three games without a win.

Americans In The UK: European Success And League Mediocrity

Both Everton and Fulham took charge of their Europa groups but looked less than stellar in the Premiership last week.

Napoli Sack Roberto Donadoni, Walter Mazzarri Appointed As Coach

"SSC Napoli would like to communicate that Roberto Donadoni has been relieved of his duties as first team coach. We have given the technical duties to Walter Mazzarri.

England: Aston Villa 1 - 1 Manchester City

It was meant to be the night when Gareth Barry showed Aston Villa just how much they are missing him.

But instead it was Richard Dunne, cast aside by Manchester City almost as an afterthought after Barry’s arrival at the City of Manchester Stadium, who proved how strong a character Martin O’Neill has gained.

Stuart James: Revenge for Dunne as Barry's feathers are ruffled

Richard Jolly: Dunne enjoys best of old pals' act

Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger in Germany

On the evening of February 11, while Germany were playing Norway, unexpected breaking news appeared on Schalke's official website, announcing the club had terminated the contract of striker Kevin Kuranyi due to "Kevin's intolerable statements directed at the team".

Phil Ball in Spain

I've just watched the Sevilla v Real Madrid game, and it was a bit of a cracker, as was expected. The game may prove to be significant in various ways this season, but anyone watching can have little doubt as to the wonders that La Liga will have to offer this season. A two-horse race? Forget it. More like fools and horses - the fools being those that write off Sevilla, the horses being the chaps who occupy the left side of Real Madrid. Poor Marcelo, and poor Drenthe, if he'd been there.

Monday, October 05, 2009

England: Monday's Premier League Preview

Who: Aston Villa vs. Manchester City
Where: Villa Park, Birmingham, England
Kick-off: 3:00pm EDT

French football boss Raymond Domenech an online hit with fan's love song

The song is by Catherine Ringer, a former porn actress, who gushes admiration for Domenech in lyrics such as “un sacré beau mec (a bloody handsome guy)”.

“If he attacked my penalty areas, I would be without defenders,” sings Ringer.

FA to review Sir Alex Ferguson's referee comments

The FA have confirmed that they will review comments made by Sir Alex Ferguson about Alan Wiley, the referee, in Saturday’s draw at home to Sunderland.

The Manchester United manager is facing a charge of improper conduct after his post-match rant claimed that Wiley was not fit enough to take charge of a game of that standard.

Old Firm: Rangers 2 - 1 Celtic

Kenny Miller strikes early and more than once as Rangers punish limp Celtic.

Boca's Martin Palermo Scores on a 40-Meter Header

FIFA Under-20 World Cup: U.S. team's flaws brutally exposed by Korea

In its final group match, the U.S. U-20 national team played just as they had in a previous match at this World Cup in Egypt. Unfortunately for coach Thomas Rongen, the match the U-20s replicated was not their convincing win over Cameroon, but rather the comprehensive opening loss to Germany. A clinical and hard-working South Korean side was everything the Americans weren't, winning battles in every sector of the field and taking away a convincing 3-0 victory, to leave the Americans' chances of advancing at the FIFA U-20 World Cup dangling by a thread.

Editor's Note: The U.S. team did not advance

Teams of the Week in Serie A and Premier League

Serie A

Premier League

Monday MLS Breakdown: Rapids Fullbacks Prepared For Service

With a raft of knee injuries sidelining every available Colorado winger, Rapids fullbacks Jordan Harvey and Kosuke Kimura are facing additional pressure to provide service from the wide areas. Kyle McCarthy checks in with the Rapids to see how their fullbacks are coping with the additional strain before taking a look at all of the Week 29 action.

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Reviews

Bayer Leverkusen maintained their unbeaten record and moved to the top of the Bundesliga after an easy 4-0 victory over Nurnberg.

Friedhelm Funkel was shown precisely how big a task he has on his hands as he witnessed his Hertha Berlin side collapse to Hamburg 3-1.

Spain: La Liga Weekend Roundups

Barcelona made it six wins out of six with a narrow 1-0 win over Almeria at Camp Nou.

Real Madrid missed the chance to return to the top of the La Liga table after suffering their first defeat of the season to Sevilla.

Italy: Serie A Weekend Roundups

Champions Inter Milan moved back to the top of Serie A with a last-gasp 2-1 win over in-form Udinese on Saturday.

Juventus and Sampdoria both missed out on the chance to reclaim top spot in Serie A as AC Milan's stuttering start to the season continued.

England: Premier League Weekend Review

Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea returned to the top of the Premier League table after edging out title rivals Liverpool at Stamford Bridge while at the wrong end of the standings Portsmouth earned their first points of the season against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Elsewhere, Manchester United can consider themselves fortunate to have avoided defeat versus Sunderland, Cesc Fabregas ran the show for Arsenal against Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur played out a four-goal cracker while the early scrap at the bottom took further twists.

England: Premier League Special Reports

Kevin Palmer at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea 2 - 0 Liverpool

Harry Harris at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea 2 - 0 Liverpool

Harry Harris at Old Trafford
Manchester United 2 - 2 Sunderland

Amy Lawrence at Emirates Stadium
Arsenal 6 - 2 Blackburn Rovers

Vive le Foot! (En Retard)

Vive la Foot!

A belated Vive le Foot this week since I found myself flying to the land of Ligue 1 overnight...sadly enough I will not be able to attend the PSG -Nancy tie in Paris…but my SF correspondent will be at the Emirates scouting some Frenchies vs. Blackburn…

Makelele: washed out, vicious, and referee's pet?

Boulogne lost the match of the promoted last weekend and will face a Lille side that destroyed Slavia Prague 5 - 1 in the last 15 minutes of their Europa League tie.

Boulogne - Lille 1 - 2

One wants to hope that Grenoble will finally earn a point after yet another woeful defeat against Auxerre. Montpellier is at an amazing 4th place…

Grenoble - Montpellier 1 - 1

Lens had a heavy loss at Le Mans and I can’t see them score much against Lyon. Les Gones had a laborious victory last weekend but confirmed easily at Debrecen with a cruel 0 - 4. The bench is deep, goals come from everywhere with the absence of Lisandro Lopez, Sidney Govou is back.

Lens - Lyon 1 - 3

Monaco had a surprising loss at home meaning that the rollercoaster continues. Meanwhile Didier Deschamps experienced two crushing defeats against a modest Valenciennes side and at Bernabeu on Wednesday. OM, an early season favorite seems to have confidence problems. I expect a very physical game…

Marseille - Monaco 3 - 2

Nice is still sinking with a terrible defense while Valenciennes has accumulated 10 points in their last four games.

Nice- Valenciennes 1 - 2

It is about time that PSG shows power after 2 disappointing draws but it was an entertaining week nevertheless for Paris when coach Kombouare declared “Lorient coach Gourcuff needs to get bitch slapped for saying Makelele had a sort of impunity from referees”. Expect a ravenous PSG side against a Nancy team that scores a lot but remains shaky in the back

PSG - Nancy 3 - 1

Rennes had to endure it first defeat against the reigning champion but they will easily get revenge against an Auxerre side that seems to finally be able to play well.

Rennes - Auxerre 3 - 0

Les Verts surprisingly beat Monaco away thanks to Bergessio (BRA) but they face an unbeaten Bordeaux side that has kept clean sheets since August 15th thanks to Cedric Carrasco now 3rd goalkeepeer in the national team hierarchy. Yohann Gourcuff (FRA) and Yohan Gouffran (FRA) are injured and the Girondins have shown signs of exhaustion in their Champions League victory . Time maybe for silent Fernando Cavanaugh (ARG) to make a comeback?

St Etienne - Bordeaux 1 - 2

Sochaux will have to fight against relegation this year while Le Mans likes to lose away. This is the dud match of the weekend.

Sochaux - Le Mans 1 - 1

Toulouse will be mourning the loss of their fan Brice Martin, murdered in Belgrad by Partizan fans and will be fighting for a clear victory. I can see Lorient getting them on the break and preserving once again their overachieving ways.

Toulouse - Lorient 2 - 2

1 - Bordeaux 19 pts

2 - Lyon 17 pts

3 - Marseille 14 pts

4 - Montpellier 14 pts

5 - Rennes 12 pts

18 - Sochaux - 6 pts

19 - Nice 5 pts

20 - Grenoble 0 pts

Only four good scores last weekend…

The Frenchman!