Friday, December 04, 2009

2010 FIFA World Cup Groups










From the BBC

Uh-oh, it all kicked off in Cape Town earlier. US bid leaders reacted with fury after Luis Figo's arrival interrupted their video presentation of the their campaign for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The arrival of Figo, bid ambassador for the rival Spain/Portugal bid, led to a rush of reporters and photographers leaving the USA's video right in the middle of the presentation. "It was totally ruined," said Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber.

2010 FIFA World Cup: THE DRAW

Noon EST on ESPN2 & ESPN 360

Over 200 million viewers in countries all around the globe are expected to watch the 90-minute draw - one of the biggest global media events - as it is broadcast from Cape Town's International Convention Centre, a veritable haven of activity as the excitement mounts.

The Pots
The Wall Street Journal
All eyes on the host nation

I'll be twatting some twitts during the draw if you want to follow along.
This is me: sanfordssoccer

Bomb scares disrupt World Cup draw preparations

Preparations for today's World Cup finals draw in Cape Town have been disrupted by two separate bomb scares, with South African police making two arrests.

The Mill +

Friday's Rumours


UEFA Europa League: Thursday Wrap

Zoltan Gera scored an early close-range header to keep Fulham in the hunt for qualification from Group E after a hard-fought and crucial 1-0 win over CSKA Sofia in London.


Carlisle: U.S. team hopes for favorable draw

So after Friday's World Cup draw in Cape Town, will the U.S. find itself in the Group of Death or the Group of Death by 1,000 Cuts? Or will manager Bob Bradley find his team facing the kind of cushy trio that will draw envious glances from his international coaching colleagues?

The best-case scenario:
South Africa, Slovenia and Uruguay

The middle-of-the-road scenario: England, Denmark, Nigeria

The nightmare scenario: Brazil, Netherlands, Ivory Coast

World Cup 2010: Italy Fight USA Over World Cup Base

Italy are facing a squabble with USA over their hotel and training camp bases for the World Cup next summer.

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Preview

Hamburg v Hoffenheim and Koeln v Bremen are among this week's matches to watch.

Borussia Dortmund – Nuernberg
Hamburg - Hoffenheim
Hannover – Bayer Leverkusen
Stuttgart – Bochum
Wolfsburg – Freiburg
Eintracht Frankfurt – Mainz

Koeln – Werder Bremen
Schalke – Hertha Berlin


Italy: Serie A Weekend Previews

Inter Milan travel to Turin to face Juventus and Rome gets all nutty as Lazio and Roma clash.


Juve were forced to play a game behind closed doors after fans chanted "a black Italian does not exist" at Palermo-born Balotelli in the corresponding fixture last season.

Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview

Real Madrid host Almeria while Pep Guardiola's Barcelona face a tough game away to fifth-placed Deportivo la Coruna.

Third-placed Sevilla are at home to Real Valladolid on Saturday while fourth-placed Valencia will need to be at their best to take all three points from Athletic Bilbao at San Mames on Sunday.

Atletico Madrid dragged themselves out of the relegation places with only their second win of the season last weekend and have a good chance to climb further away from trouble at Xerez on Saturday.


England: Premier League Previews & Predictions

Manchester City will aim to derail the Chelsea juggernaut when the two mega-rich sides do battle at Eastlands in the Premier League on Saturday. Elsewhere, Arsenal will look to end a miserable week on a high note, second-placed Manchester United visit lowly West Ham United, bottom-of-the-table Portsmouth host troubled travellers Burnley, Liverpool take on North West neighbours Blackburn while out-of-form Everton lock horns with high-flying Tottenham Hotspur.

Preview II

Lawro's Predictions

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Real Madrid give new meaning to 'sexy football' by launching lingerie range

Barcelona may reign in Spain when it comes to the Beautiful Game on the pitch. But rivals Real Madrid have taken the battle to a different front by designing a sexy range of underwear. No longer will fans have to be content with a replica jersey, scarf, mug or key-ring, supporters will soon be able to buy boxer shorts, slips, bras and knickers.

The Mill +

I think I've avoided it as long as possible. With the transfer window set to open in less than a month, I suppose it's high time to bring back The Mill and dive into another several weeks of the ridiculous and absurd and possibly true world of transfer gossip. Enjoy. -Sanford

The Mill


Kevin McCarra: Fabio Capello will want to avoid an early World Cup meeting with Portugal

Fabio Capello will want to avoid an early World Cup meeting with Portugal.

Nick Bidwell: Ice-man Wenger losing his cool

A furious demon has occasionally stood in for the normally unruffled and articulate Wenger when he has been on the end of painful defeats down the years, but the mood he has exuded when carrying out his media duties at Arsenal's London Colney training base over the past week has been especially dark.

Spain: La Liga Wednesday Report + Table

Xerez 0 - 2 Barcelona

One match in La Liga yesterday and it was bottom vs. top

Real Madrid129121828
Sevilla FC128221326
Deportivo La Coruña12813525
Sporting Gijon12552320
Athletic Bilbao12624120
Real Zaragoza12336-812
Atlético Madrid12246-710
Racing Santander12147-117

UEFA Europa League: Wednesday Round-Up

ExtraFootie's Dave Segar rounds-up all the action from Wednesday evening's Europa League action as Everton book their place in the knockout stage, Celtic bow out with a win and Steve McClaren suffers a rare defeat.

Spanish Inquisition: What We Can Expect From Real Madrid After El Clasico

After a hard fight against the Catalans,'s Cyrus C. Malek assesses Real Madrid and forecasts what may be in store for Los Blancos...

Neighbours Uncover Inter Striker Mario Balotelli's Kind Qualities

While most of his team-mates drive Ferraris, Lamborghinis and high-powered vehicles, Balotelli prefers to use public transport and was recently spotted waiting for a tram to go into town.

Eto'o gets in Balotelli's way...

England: Wednesday's Carling Cup Reports + Analysis

Manchester City 3 - 0 Arsenal
Talent and experience tell for City
Jolly: Desire for glory sees City progress
Hughes: Wenger a sore loser

Blackburn 3 - 3 Chelsea (4-3 penalties)
Robinson's shoot-out heroics send Chelsea packing

Semi-final Draw:
Manchester City vs. Manchester United
Blackburn vs. Aston Villa

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Thierry Henry faces World Cup ban as Fifa investigates that handball

Thierry Henry could miss the start of next year's World Cup after it was confirmed today that Fifa's disciplinary committee is to investigate his now infamous handball against the Republic of Ireland.

Freddie Ljungberg Column: Assessing the World Cup Contenders

Every player wants to experience the special feeling of playing in the World Cup. It's an amazing feeling to represent your country, and the tournament has so much history.

On Dec. 4, the group stage draw for the 2010 World Cup (Noon, ET, ESPN2) will be made, and it will begin an incredible time for the players involved.

While I was with Arsenal, I remember a couple of times that we sat at dinner preparing for a game while the draw was going on. We had 14 or 15 players preparing for the World Cup so there was always banter back and forth.

It's very important whom you meet in the first round when you qualify, and what scenarios could unfold if you progress. If a nation catches a great draw, it can have a little bit of an easier road to the final. However, either way, you're going to get some stick from your club teammates!

Here is a quick look at the 32 qualifiers for the 2010 South Africa World Cup and my thoughts on their prospects:

England: Wednesday's Carling Cup Previews

Manchester City vs. Arsenal

At least it can't end in a draw

Blackburn vs. Chelsea

Chelsea's quadruple chase continues apace

Q. & A. on Match Fixing With Declan Hill, Author of ‘The Fix’

It wasn’t until after Declan Hill published “The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime” in September 2008 that European soccer authorities were ready to confront head-on the scourge of match fixing.

Quotes & Chants of the Week

"I remember Elton John used to be their owner and he is my favourite singer! I hope the match will be an opportunity to meet Elton John!"
Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti is ready for a love-in after seeing his side draw Watford in the FA Cup.

"There is no hope of me playing against Mainz. I will not return as only half
a player; not as only Ze without the Roberto."
Hamburg's Brazilian winger Ze Roberto is not doing thing by halves following his ankle injury.

"The replay, I'll do it when you want on a PlayStation."
Patrice Evra tries to be helpful as the Republic of Ireland-France saga goes into extra-time.

"It was disappointing but we just didn't do enough in the last third. Usually we would expect to score a goal in something like the 96th or 97th minute, and we didn't do that."
Gary Neville has got so used to officials giving United as much time as they need to equalise, he has lost touch with reality!

"Liverpool have got great experience in this fixture."
Comment by Alan Smith on Sky Sports' coverage of the Merseyside derby. Surely Everton have just as much experience in that particular fixture?

"Domenech is the worst coach France have had since Louis XVI."
Eric Cantona on French TV.

"Thierry Henry, Thierry Henry..."
Hull City fans to Man City keeper Shay Given as Jimmy Bullard prepared to take a penalty.

The Rest

England: Tuesday's Carling Cup Reports

Portsmouth 2 - 4 Aston Villa
Stewart Downing off the mark as Aston Villa see off late Portsmouth surge.

Manchester United 2 - 0 Tottenham
Darron Gibson scores twice as Manchester United sink Spurs

2010 World Cup: England seeded as France miss out

England have been seeded for the World Cup finals along with South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Argentina, FIFA announced at a press conference in Cape Town.

FIFA chose to base the seedings upon their October 2009 FIFA world rankings. That France have been placed into the general pot of European teams may be seen as punishment for their controversial win over Ireland in the World Cup play-offs.

Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger in Germany

The life and times of Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Sid Lowe in Spain

The first clásico to be shown on the silver screen lived up to its billing, but Madrid were made to pay for some poor finishing.

Cristiano Ronaldo fluffs lines as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scripts perfect ending.

Lionel Messi of Barcelona wins the Ballon d'Or

Lionel Messi, the Argentina forward, has won the Ballon d'Or awarded to the European Footballer of the Year, becoming the sixth Barcelona player to take the award and the first since Brazilian Ronaldinho in 2005.

More on Arsenal's Demise

Matt Hughes:

The telltale sign of Arsenal’s faltering progress in recent years is that their end-of-season inquests have arrived earlier and earlier.

Kevin McCarra:
Wenger needs taller, stronger players. Not small-mindedness.

The Joy of Six: Great Goals From the Past Decade

From Leo Messi to Wayne Rooney, via a ridiculous rabona, The Guardian selects some of the most sublime strikes from the past 10 years.

Man arrested on suspicion of racially abusing Darren Bent's mother

Bent's mother was allegedly picked on by a Sunderland fan in a pub following the side's 1-0 defeat at Wigan on Saturday.

Italy: Serie A Worst Team Of The Week looks at those who performed poorly in the fourteenth round of action.


Comotto – Cannavaro – Rossi – Molinaro

Poli – Liverani – Seedorf


Miccoli - Zalayeta

Barcelona Fans Shine Illegal Lasers At Real Madrid Players

After reviewing footage of the laser beams, Spain's officiating body La Liga decided not to pursue any legal action against Barcelona. The only way Barcelona can be sanctioned is if Real Madrid submit a formal complaint to La Liga, but this is unlikely.

Americans in the UK: Dempsey Double for Fulham

The winger now has six goals this campaign, five coming in Premier League action from October 25-Novermber 25. His sparkling run has helped Fulham remain in the top 10 of the EPL.

The Rest

Tom Vickery in South America

In the build up to the draw for the first World Cup to be held in Africa, you can guarantee that one piece of information will be cited time and time again - that no European nation has ever won the tournament outside its home continent.

It's one way of looking at it - a Eurocentric way. The statement means just as much, if not more, if it's flipped around. Only South America has won the World Cup away from home.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

After being elected to replace Franz Beckenbauer as president, Uli Hoeneß will retain the heart and soul of Bayern Munich.

Bayern Munich's new president will ensure the club continue as FC Uli Hoeneß.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

Milan's summer signing finally got off the mark against Catania but he has a long way to go to silence the critics.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar begins to repay Milan with timely double.

Phil Ball in Spain

Many duels between these two sides have been characterised by the obvious desire not to lose, but here, at this stage of the season, Real Madrid particularly sensed that a win could suddenly begin to tip the scales, and played accordingly.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Absurd Beach Soccer Dive

Funny Swedish Taxi Advertisement

Thanks to Dave for passing this along...

Steve Davis: 2009 MLS Season Wrap

Major League Soccer's 14th season began with a flourish in Seattle as a packed house served up a teaser for great things ahead at the debuting franchise. The Sounders eventually set a single-season league attendance record, and then supplied a brilliant punctuation mark on 2009 as a grand and gracious MLS Cup host.

Here are a few of the memorable mile markers along the way, along with a peek ahead.

England: Kettering or Leeds to visit Old Trafford following FA Cup third round draw

The third round draw also features three all Premier League ties, with West Ham hosting Arsenal, Aston Villa facing Blackburn and Wigan playing Hull.

Ireland asked to be 33rd team at the World Cup, says Sepp Blatter

The Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, has revealed that the Football Association of Ireland asked to be included in the World Cup as an extra team following the Republic of Ireland's controversial play-off defeat to France.

Inter Fan In Coma After Falling From San Siro Stands During Fiorentina Match

According to, the 36-year-old man climbed onto the balustrade of the second tier where he lost his footing and fell down to the first tier, crushing a 46-year-old and his son in the process.

Italy: Serie A Weekend Review + Team of the Week

Inter Milan extended their lead at the top of Serie A to eight points on Sunday thanks to a 1-0 home win over Fiorentina.

City rivals AC Milan capitalised on Juventus' 2-0 defeat at Cagliari to climb to second.


Team of the Week

Spain: La Liga Weekend Reviews



England: Premier League Weekend Review

Birmingham City edged out Midlands rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers, Manchester United ruined Avram Grant's debut in charge of Portsmouth while Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur were forced to play out a 1-1 draw.


England: Premier League Special Reports

Arsenal 0 - 3 Chelsea
Dominic Fifield: Ashley Cole makes his point
Harry Harris: Men against boys
Richard Williams:
Arsenal's flimsy title challenge torn apart

Everton 0 - 2 Liverpool
Richard Jolly: Kuyt industry key for Reds
Phil McNulty:
Everton and Moyes face testing times

Aston Villa 1 - 1 Tottenham
Harry Harris: Spurs edge ahead in top-four race

Spain: Ibrahimovic Wins El Clásico For Barca

Madrid’s expensively-assembled superstars put up a good fight, but Barca have drawn first blood in the title race…

Barcelona 1 - 0 Real Madrid
Player Ratings
Sid Lowe's Report