Friday, March 19, 2010

Manchester United Vs Liverpool Special: How The Tables Turned For English Football's Most Successful Clubs

The banner inside Manchester United’s Stretford End would usually read '34 years' - a tribute to the fact that Manchester City have not won a major trophy since 1976. But when Liverpool visit Old Trafford on Sunday, another number will be on display for all Merseysiders to see – 19.

For Liverpool, the very idea that United could surpass their haul of 18 league titles evokes feelings of nausea and disbelief. The Reds’ 20-year wait for a top-flight success would hurt badly enough on its own, that their great rivals have collected 11 championships in this period adds insult to significant injury.

England: Premier League Weekend Previews & Predictions

Manchester United and Liverpool lock horns on Sunday with the outcome of such a saliva-inducing fixture set to affect both the title race and the battle for a fourth-placed finish in the Premier League.

Elsewhere on a weekend that boasts a full programme of top-flight matches, Aston Villa host Midlands rivals Wolves, manager Iain Dowie makes his Hull City debut at Portsmouth, Arsenal tackle London neighbours West Ham while Chelsea make the trip to Blackburn Rovers.

Preview I
Preview II

Dale Johnson: Arsenal vs. West Ham
Jon Carter: Villa vs. Wolves

Lawro's Previews

Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

While Inter will be tested by a Palermo side that have yet to lose at La Favorita this season, Milan take on Napoli at the San Siro hoping to overcome the losses to injury of David Beckham and Alessandro Nesta.

Fiorentina host Genoa at the Artemio Franchi stadium on Sunday with both clubs vying for a place in Europe next season.

The Viola are four points behind seventh-placed Genoa.


Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview

Barcelona will hope Lionel Messi can continue his good form as the reigning champions seek to keep pace with leaders Real Madrid.

Barca face a potentially testing trip to improving Real Zaragoza on Sunday night, 24 hours after Madrid have the chance to provisionally move three points clear at the summit when they host Sporting Gijon at the Bernabeu.


Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Preview

This week’s high-profile matches include Dortmund/Leverkusen and Hamburg/Schalke.

Koeln – Borussia M’gladbach

Freiburg – Mainz
Werder Bremen – Bochum
Stuttgart – Hannover
Nuernberg – Hoffenheim
Eintracht Frankfurt – Bayern Munich
Borusia Dortmund – Bayer Leverkusen

Hamburg – Schalke
Wolfsburg – Hertha Berlin

The Joy of Six: Footballing Brawls

They're not big, they're not clever, but they do happen. Here are six stramashes – with not a George Graham team in sight.

UEFA Europa League: Fulham Stun Juventus, Liverpool & Valencia Advance

Thursday Wrap

Kevin McCarra: Dempsey Crowns Victory
Hero Clint Dempsey: Gamble Paid Off
Harry Harris: Hodgson For England
Paul Willson: Torres rights sinking Liverpool ship

Sir Alex slams FA as Gerrard escapes again

Sir Alex said: "I didn't expect anything to happen to Steven Gerrard. It (the disciplinary panel) is a dysfunctional unit. I don't know what they are doing.''

Gabriele Marcotti: My Guide to the Champions League Final Eight

Gabriele Marcotti, The Times European Football Correspondent, runs the rule over the eight teams still challenging for European football's most prestigious trophy.

UEFA Champions League: Arsenal Draw Barcelona

Arsenal and Barcelona will meet for the first time since the 2006 Champions League final after they were paired together in the quarter-finals.

QUARTER-FINALS: March 30 & 31 plus April 6 & 7
Lyon v Bordeaux
Bayern Munich v Manchester United
Arsenal v Barcelona
Internazionale v CSKA Moscow
SEMI-FINALS: April 20 & 21 plus April 27 & 28
Bayern Munich or Manchester United v Lyon or Bordeaux
Internazionale or CSKA Moscow v Arsenal or Barcelona

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Best of this round of the UEFA Champions League

Best and Worst of the Week
Team of the Matchday

Albert Riera hits out at Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez

Liverpool winger Albert Riera says he is considering leaving the club after being given the silent treatment by Reds manager Rafael Benitez.

Richard Jolly: Wigan profit from astute dealings

There were 12,744 of them there to savour one of the finest results in their history. Barely three decades after they were a non-league club, Wigan beat Liverpool.

UEFA Europa League Preview: Liverpool, Fulham look to bounce back

Hamburg, Liverpool and Fulham need to overturn deficits at home on Thursday to keep England's flag flying in the Europa League.

Spanish clubs Atletico Madrid and Valencia also face uphill battles while the German trio of Werder Bremen, VfL Wolfsburg and SV Hamburg appears well-positioned to reach the quarter-finals.


UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's Reports & Analysis

Barcelona 4 - 0 Stuttgart
Match Report
James Callow: Messi steers Barca to win
Tom Adams: Magical Messi is world's best
Player Ratings

Bordeaux 2 - 1 Olympiakos
Match Report
Derbyshire sees red
Player Ratings

Paris St Germain fan attacked by club's own supporters dies

"It is a victory for barbarism and a defeat for sport, fraternity and civilisation. Everyone should be concerned, first and foremost the leaders of all clubs. This may take time but our resolve will not falter."

Roberto Gotta in Italy

If you comb through the list of potential host cities for Italy's Euro 2016 bid, you will notice - or perhaps not - that Bologna's name is missing. And you just need to take a look at its scenic but antiquated ground, the Stadio Dall'Ara, to understand why the smaller and more compact Dino Manuzzi, of current Serie B frontrunners and near neighbour Cesena, was included instead.

Brian Laudrup Interview: The Life of Brian

"When we went to Sweden, among the players, we were thinking, 'Let's get the three games out of the way as well as possible, and let's get back on the beach'," laughed Laudrup. ''When I got back to Denmark for the first training session, the coach got us together and said, 'Listen guys, we've got six days to prepare and then we'll go to Sweden. We'll go there to win the European Championship.'

We were laughing, thinking 'What is he on about? What has he been having for lunch?'

I think what he did right there was to try and convince his players to go over there and try and do it. We were complete underdogs, no-one even expected a point from us."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday Previews

Barcelona vs. Stuttgart
Where: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
When: 3:45 pm EDT
U.S. TV: Fox Soccer Channel

Bordeaux vs. Olympiakos
Where: Stade Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux, France
When: 3:45pm EDT
U.S. TV: Fox Soccer Plus

Top 50 World Cup Goals

No 18:
Tomas Rosicky, Czech Republic v United States, 2006. Outswinger into the top right-hand corner.

No 7: Dennis Bergkamp, Holland v Argentina, 1998. Controls Frank de Boer’s 60-yard pass on the volley, cuts inside Roberto Ayala with second touch and scores with third.

The Rest

Wigan 1 - 2 Aston Villa: James Milner's quick thinking gives Villa a reason to aim high

Unbeaten in the Barclays Premier League this year, Martin O’Neill’s team have momentum, as well as a game or two in hand on their rivals, and they face eminently winnable home matches in the coming week.

Quotes & Chants of the Week

"Chelsea move on. I move on. I keep winning important things, they keep winning...something. They won an FA Cup."
Jose Mourinho can't resist a sideswipe at Chelsea's moderate success since they parted company with the Special One.

"I've had five games where I've scored six goals - and one game where I could have scored five and got none. I'm back!"
Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner on his topsy-turvy couple of weeks.

"Newcastle just don't get beat, they've only been beaten four times."
Steve Claridge on The Football League Show, analysing Middlesbrough v Newcastle.

"And Wigan are forcing Liverpool into some unforced errors here!"
BBC commentator at the DW Stadium.

"What time's your mini-bus?"
Spurs fans to the small travelling support from Blackburn.

The Rest

Argentina: A Deal with the Devil

The press reaction was a peculiar mix of astonishment and resignation when it first became apparent back in November that a prominent Argentine non-governmental organisation was seeking to help secure funds to allow the country's barra brava (broadly speaking, 'hooligan') groups to travel to the World Cup. What gradually became apparent, though, was that the group wasn't quite as non-governmental as the designation 'NGO' would normally suggest. One of the men behind the idea even admitted, point blank, that the whole exercise was geared towards winning votes.

John Terry had sex with glamour model Alicia Douvall in his Range Rover

She said: "John was sitting in the VIP lounge with with Rio Ferdinand and some other men. I knew Rio hated me because of my past with some other footballers, so I was surprised when John beckoned to me. He told me, 'I called you over because you've got really nice boobs'."

Alicia, who has had 15 breast operations, added: "I was going through a stage where I was getting a lot of stick for the amount of plastic surgery I'd had so I loved that he was complimenting me."

Oh, dear...

Chelsea Captain John Terry Questioned And Breathalysed By Police After Knocking Over And Breaking Leg Of Security Guard

John Terry broke the leg of Chelsea security guard after knocking him over in his Range Rover outside Stamford Bridge last night, UK can reveal.

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Reports & Analysis

Chelsea 0 - 1 Inter Milan
Kevin McCarra: Match Report
Phil McNulty: Match Report
Richard Williams: Mourinho's tactical brilliance
Kevin Palmer: Returning hero exposes Chelsea
Paolo Bandini: Italian Press hail perfect night

Player Ratings

Sevilla 1 - 2 CSKA Moscow

Honda hits top gear as Russians progress
Player Ratings

Portsmouth nine-point deduction confirmed

The Premier League has confirmed that Portsmouth have been deducted nine points after entering administration. It leaves them 17 points off safety with nine games to play and all but confirms their relegation from the Premier League.

Alicia Keys and Black Eyed Peas to kick off World Cup

Alicia Keys and Black Eyed Peas are to perform at a concert in South Africa that will officially "kick off" this year's World Cup football tournament.

Shakira, John Legend and Angelique Kidjo will also appear at the event, to be held in Johannesburg on 10 June.

Can't get enough of this guy...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Previews

Chelsea vs. Inter Milan

Where: Stamford Bridge, London, England
When: 3:45 pm EDT
U.S. TV: Fox Sports Net
Preview I
Preview II
Kevin McCarra: Chelsea can overcome deficit
Report: Jose out if Inter lose

Chelsea 2005 vs. Chelsea 2010

Sevilla vs. CSKA Moscow

Where: Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan
When: 3:45 EDT
U.S. TV: Fox Soccer Channel
Preview I
Preview II

England: Tuesday's Premier League Preview

Who: Wigan Athletic vs. Aston Villa
When: 3:45 EDT
Where: DW Stadium, Robin Park, Wigan, Lancashire, England
U.S. TV: Fox Soccer Plus

Sid Lowe in Spain

Valladolid's eccentric new coach is a hero of the city but he has a mammoth task to build a team in his image.

Anarchic and entertaining: Valladolid's coach is not like the team.

Jonathan Wilson in Eastern Europe

Victory for CSKA Moscow in Sevilla would be a welcome boost for Russian football in financially worrying times.

CSKA Moscow ready to ensure a nerve-jangling night for Leonid Slutsky.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Berlin's only Bundesliga representatives are going down, and now they have the fallout from a pitch invasion to deal with too.

Ultras up the ante as Hertha pay for sins committed in a former life.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

Internazionale could be forgiven for being preoccupied with the second leg at Chelsea, but their 3-1 defeat at Catania was still remarkable.

Serie A title race blown wide open as Inter take eye off the ball.

Americans On The Continent: Two In A Row for Bocanegra

After a strong performance against Monaco in which he netted the game-winning goal, Bocanegra and Rennes made it two on the trot as they visited Valenciennes on Sunday.

The Rest

Americans in the UK: Donovan’s Finale Ends on Sour Note

Landon Donovan came on as a substitute in his last game for Everton on Saturday but the club drew with Birmingham after blowing an early 2-0 lead.

The Rest

England: Monday's Premier League Report + Table

Liverpool 4 - 1 Portsmouth
Paul Wilson at Anfield

TeamsPlayedGoal Difference
1Man Utd304666
6Man City281750
7Aston Villa271646
16West Ham29-1227
19Hull City29-3424

Phil Ball in Spain

I watched Sevilla versus Deportivo on Saturday night, since it seemed as good a way as any to escape from the Real Madrid-based twitterings and twerpings of the last few days. It was a good game too, and one in which Sevilla showed why they won't quite make it this season and Deportivo showed why they still might.

Then again, Sevilla are in the King's Cup final, but one of the events of a newsworthy week was yet another frustrated meeting between the Spanish Federation and the two finalists (Atlético Madrid are the others) which failed to agree on either a date or a stadium. They'd better tell the King soon, however, because by the end of May he's usually donning his Bermudas and hoisting the mainsail.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday Night Football: Liverpool vs. Portsmouth

Liverpool will expect to give their faltering top-four hopes a boost as they host basement club Portsmouth on Monday night. U.S. TV is ESPN2 at 3:55pm EDT.

Monday MLS Breakdown: Landon Donovan's Return Critical to Galaxy's Success

During a weekend when David Beckham sustained a serious injury, Landon Donovan's return from a loan spell with Everton provided the most important bit of news for LA Galaxy manager Bruce Arena.


England: Premier League Weekend Review + Special Reports

The race for the Premier League title remains a tight affair as the top three all won this weekend, while Tottenham Hotspur were the big winners in the race for fourth spot.

Manchester United 3 - 0 Fulham
Richard Jolly at Old Trafford

Chelsea 4 - 1 West Ham
Kevin Palmer at Stamford Bridge

Tottenham 3 - 1 Blackburn

David Lacey at White Hart Lane

Hull City 1 - 2 Arsenal
Richard Jolly at KC Stadium

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Review

Things remain congested at the top of the Bundesliga as Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich and Schalke all recorded wins.

Hertha Berlin fans storm pitch after loss to Nuremberg.

Italy: Serie A Weekend Review

AC Milan's 1-0 win over Chievo - a result which allowed them to keep pace with city rivals Inter at the top of Serie A - was marred by an Achilles tendon injury to David Beckham. Siena launched a stunning second-half fightback to recover from 3-0 down and earn a 3-3 draw as Juventus' disappointing campaign continued at Stadio Olimpico. On Friday night, Catania threw the title race open and took a giant step towards securing their own future in the top flight by beating 10-man Inter Milan 3-1. On Saturday, Napoli were beaten 3-1 at home as Fiorentina recovered from their Champions League disappointment against Bayern Munich.

Spain: La Liga Weekend Review

Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain both grabbed hat-tricks as Barca and Real Madrid maintained the status quo at the top of La Liga.

Beckham injury news saddens football

David Beckham's chances of playing for England in this summer's World Cup appear to have ended after the midfielder suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon during AC Milan's 1-0 win over Chievo on Sunday.

Tigers announce sacking of manager Phil Brown

Phil Brown has been sacked as Hull City manager with the Tigers revealing they felt a change of leadership was the "correct option" in order to protect the club's top-flight status.