Friday, July 09, 2010

2010 FIFA World Cup: The Final

Netherlands vs. Spain

Preview I
Preview II

Williams: Dutch mix idealism with industry
Bradley: Final is game of firsts
McCarra: Spain leave old parochialism behind
Stevenson: Defining moment for Spain
Jones: Five Things

World Cup Final: How does this Holland side compare to past greats?

John Ley looks at Holland sides past and present ahead of the World Cup final.

Paul the psychic octopus predicts Spain will beat Holland

Paul the psychic octopus has predicted Spain will beat Holland and win World Cup 2010 while Germany shall be triumphant in the third and fourth place play-off.

Germany striker Miroslav Klose place in history books in doubt

Germany striker Miroslav Klose may have to settle for second place in the World Cup all-time top scorers list with a back injury threatening to rule him out of the third place play-off match against Uruguay.

Thank Howard Webb for reviving England's flagging fortunes

As the national team endured a wretched World Cup, our match officials have shone – perhaps it is time for a rethink at the FA.

Howard Webb's Journey - From Rotherham Policeman To World Cup 2010 Final Referee

On Sunday Howard Webb will become the first person ever to referee the Champions League final and World Cup final in the same year.

Friday MLS Forecast

The Forecast ponders the potential MLS theme couched in LeBron James' move to Miami before revealing its Week 15 picks.

Sid Lowe in Spain

The rise of the tricky Barcelona winger to become a vital player for club and country owes more to skill than luck.

Pedro takes flight as Spain's 'mascot' turns master.

The Mill

Friday's Rumours

Fifa to make refereeing changes for future World Cups

Goal-line technology is back on the agenda after Fifa revealed this World Cup is set to be the last tournament under the existing refereeing system.

Hruby: C'mon, America: Embrace flopping

Is flopping cheating? Well, yeah. Duh. Only that fits right in with our domestic sports ethos. Always has, really.

Corked bats. Tightened rims. Stolen signals and signs. Performance-enhancing drugs. Plying college recruits with under-the-table inducements. Keeping star players eligible with academic flim-flammery. All of it commonplace. John Wooden's UCLA dynasty is venerated -- held up as the shining example of all that is right and good in sports -- despite the influence of über-booster Sam Gilbert. Notorious spit-baller Gaylord Perry has a plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame. In American sports, if you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'.

Brazilian footballer Bruno Fernandes accused of lover's murder

Goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes is held over claims he masterminded the kidnapping and execution of his former lover, Eliza Samudio.

The Question: What have been the tactical lessons of World Cup 2010?

Spain have adopted the Barcelona formula, which seems to be the way club football is going.

Carlisle: Is the tide turning for U.S. soccer?

Will the team's performance push soccer into becoming a major force in the U.S., or will it sink back into its niche status until the next World Cup comes around?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

2010 FIFA World Cup Final: Pilots warned after semi saga

South African airport authorities have warned pilots after Wednesday night's delays at King Shaka International that angered soccer fans, that they will forcibly remove aircraft when pilots refuse to obey instructions.

Martin Rogers: Charter jets cause chaos

World Cup 2010: Nasa tests confirm Jabulani is 'unpredictable'

American space agency NASA has joined the growing list of critics of the official World Cup match ball after subjecting the Jabulani to a series of aerodynamic tests.

The Final Showdown: Two Great Nations United by Beautiful Game

Johan Cruyff summed up the difference between Spanish and Dutch football cultures from a manager's perspective thus: "It's the Spanish players who are better to work with. Dutch players already start to say 'Yes, but' when you open your mouth to speak."

Travel chaos caused fans to miss semi-final

Hundreds of soccer fans missed the World Cup semi-final between Germany and Spain yesterday after chaos at the airport in Durban delayed their landing or forced planes to turn back, local media reported.

Middlesbrough adopt novel new approach to shirt sponsorhip

The Championship side have struggled to find a new sponsor willing to match the record deal signed with satellite navigation manufacturer Garmin in 2008.

The new marketing concept is believed to be the first of its kind in world football and will offer companies the chance to buy advertising space in 10 monthly slots over the season.

Octopus Paul and the World Cup's other surprise stars

The World Cup always delivers drama and excitement but this one has brought about some cult heroes which have made South Africa 2010 that extra bit special.

The Mill

Thursday's Rumours

Matthew Norman's Column

As the competition draws to its close and the withdrawal pangs start to kick in, the time comes to congratulate Sepp Blatter on masterminding such a powerful contender for the worst World Cup ever held.

Alan Hansen's Column

The best thing about this World Cup so far has been the atmosphere in South Africa - all the major tournaments I've been to, or played at, pale into insignificance in comparison.

Security Questions After Italian Intrudes

Security at the tournament was again put in the spotlight after a fan brandishing a vuvuzela ran onto the pitch in the fourth minute of the Germany-Spain semi-final in Durban, briefly delaying the match.

Italy's 2010 World Cup will forever be remembered for all the wrong reasons following the flop in South Africa, and Italian pitch invader Mario Ferri ensured that notion was further underlined after breaching security during the Germany-Spain semi-final in Durban on Wednesday night.

And the writing was on the wall as the 23-year-old had done this before, twice in fact. Yet he was still able to get onto the pitch. So who is he? A master of disguise? not quite, but Italia went to find out more as they dig up his past invasions.

Ten World Cup Teams Influenced By One Club opens the history books to see the indelible mark left by single clubs on World Cup teams in light of a Barcelona-heavy Spain qualifying for the 2010 final...


Real Madrid sign Argentina winger Angel di Maria from Benfica

Arsenal sign French defender Laurent Koscielny from Lorient

Wolfsburg sign Danish defender Simon Kjaer from Palermo

2010 FIFA World Cup: Spain 1 - 0 Germany

Paul Fletcher at Moses Mabhida Stadium
Kevin McCarra at Moses Mabhida Stadium

Lawrence: Germany salute lost friend
Bradley: Guts and Glory for Spain
Hayward: Spain switch from artisans to artists
Carlisle: Puyol Shines

Player Ratings

German Media Reaction
Spanish Media Reaction

Wenger questions Almunia temperament

"Manuel Almunia is a talented goalkeeper," Wenger said told Kenyan newspaper the Standard. "In training, he is superb, the only problem is that he gets nervous on big matches, thereby making silly mistakes. After the World Cup, we will be making an announcement on goalkeeping.''

The entire interview. There is plenty of unintended hilarity:

APIDI: Have you heard of Kenya?

WENGER: Yes. Very good athletes and recently a Kenyan player (McDonald Mariga) was signed by Inter Milan and played in the Champions League.

APIDI: Would you like to come to Kenya?

WENGER: Yes. With my family for holiday.

APIDI: A Kenyan Arsenal fan committed suicide when the team lost to Manchester United. What message would you have for Kenyan Arsenal fans?

WENGER: What? (shocked) My condolences. To Arsenal fans, keep on supporting Arsenal, another invincible team is on the way. And please, do not commit suicide.

Unintended hilarity because they might not be true? Arsenal's official site claims they are not. -Sanford

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Barcelona seek €150m from bank to cover player wages

Barcelona have been forced to seek €150m (£125m) in bank finance to cover unpaid wages for players and coaching staff, with the club's new president, Sandro Rosell, talking of "cash-flow tensions".

Gosling walks out on Everton

Everton have lost out on up to £4 million for England U21 star Dan Gosling after an administrative error allowed the midfielder to walk away for nothing.

2010 FIFA World Cup: Germany vs. Spain

Preview I
Preview II

Kevin McCarra: Roles Reversed
Paul Hayward: Klose close to goalscoring Gods

Team News

Key Battles

Joachim Low plays down captaincy controversy

Ballack, who has missed the tournament due to an ankle injury, flew out to be with the team ahead of the quarter-final with Argentina but returned to Europe on Monday prompting speculation he may have been upset with Lahm's comments.

The Mill

Wednesday's Rumours

Two Italian Football Fans Murdered In Germany, Suspect Surrenders

Two Italian football fans have been shot dead in a German bar after a heated argument about the World Cup history of the two nations.

A German man suspected of shooting two Italians in a pub in Hannover after a row about the World Cup has surrendered to authorities on the Spanish island of Majorca, police said Wednesday.

Nigeria's strangled football industry

"The actual banning and un-banning of the team is irrelevant," says Churchill Olise, owner of elite football academy Ebede FC in Shagamu.

"What matters is that at last the powerful have realised the seriousness of our problem.

"Sport is the one area where we can compete internationally - and win. We simply cannot continue to waste our young talent."

10 things you didn't know about Paul the psychic octopus

He has become one of the stars of the tournament and put the TV pundits to shame, thanks to an amazing run of correct World Cup predictions. Here's 10 things you didn't know about the tentacled tipster.

Dutch celebrate football World Cup semi-final success

For Dutch fans not lucky enough to be in Cape Town, Museum Square in central Amsterdam was the place to be.

They came in their thousands to watch the match on what local authorities described as "the biggest television screen in Europe".

Uruguay left with bittersweet taste after football defeat

Uruguayans are feeling disappointed but satisfied after their team lost a World Cup semi-final against the Netherlands.

Before the tournament started, they would have never dreamed of getting so close to the golden trophy.

Why LeBron wouldn't save U.S. soccer

It happens every four years, as inevitable as presidential elections and surging public interest in short-track speedskating. The big, bad, rich n' populous United States falters at the World Cup. Meanwhile, skillful foreign mighty-mites from futbol-mad nations the size of Oregon shine.

Sitting at home, adjusting their pre-preseason fantasy football lineups, American sports fans pause to wonder: What if we had LeBron James at striker?

Or Patrick Willis enforcing the back line?

Or Dwight Howard in goal?

What if America cared about the beautiful game as much as every other country on the planet?

2010 FIFA World Cup: Netherlands 3 - 2 Uruguay

Kevin McCarra at Green Point Stadium
Chris Bevan at Green Point Stadium

Carlisle: How good is this Dutch team?
Hayward: Forlan belongs with greats
Williams: Oranje fail to run like clockwork

Player Ratings

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

2010 FIFA World Cup: Final Thoughts

There's an episode of the seminal TV show ALF in which a relation of Alf's earth family, I think an uncle, comes to stay. Unfortunately, while the family are out, the uncle discovers Alf and drops dead of fright. When the family return home they're greeted by balloons and party gear. Everyone at Melmac dies at the same age, so they're sent off with a big party. That's how Alf taught us that things are just done differently in different places. So, while one part of the world thinks Luis Suárez is a cheating little fucker for using his hands, another thinks he's a genius. Suarez certainly considers himself a genius, while the coach is using the very original tactic of getting angry with the British press. Fifa also don't seem too bothered by Suarez's actions, deciding not to increase his one match ban. They're were probably too busy reading their betamax instruction manuals and missed the two huge yellow 'Fair Play' flags that have been displayed before every semi-important soccer game for the past 10 years.

The World Cup is slowly winding down - the BBC are running out of Fela Kuti tunes to use as background music and across Europe rubbish men are collecting millions of unwanted car flags. So, which two teams would produce a good final? Well, not Uruguay. Yeah, it's charming that a smaller nation has made it to the semis, but the final needs two big teams. So hopefully Holland will win the first semi - though Robben's diving is getting more annoying by the round. Most purists would surely like to see Spain as Holland's opponent. It'd be the Laura Ashley of Cup Finals, with pretty patterns all over the place. But there's just something a bit annoying about the Spanish team. Like Barcelona, they're just a bit too nice, a bit twee. It was no surprise to hear Gerard Piqué say they'd taken up Barça's habit of listening to Coldplay before every game. What's more the Spanish seem to be getting a touch desperate [or maybe not].

At least if Germany meet Holland they'll be plenty of bad blood. It's not as if the two countries exactly love each other. Tell a Dutchman you've lived in Germany and you're met with a mixture of confusion and deep pity. Tell a German you've just been to Holland and he'll look at you with an expression of pure disgust. Mind you, you could compliment the average German on the beauty of his his new-born child and you'll be met with a similar look. But Van Bommel [who must have made some kind of Faustian pact involving the soul of his child in order to not get a yellow card against Brazil] go up against his Bayern teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger [the most German sounding German of all time], would be a great match-up.

Hopefully it'll be a high-scoring, exciting match between two teams playing well. The tournament needs it. It's been nice to see teamwork prosper, and watching stars' reputations being shredded round by round has been fun. But while the quarterfinals brought some much needed excitement, there have not been enough top quality encounters. Perhaps the next three games can rectify that.

The World Cup: Top 10 Shameful Moments

Luis Suarez's handball which cruelly denied Ghana a place in the semi-finals takes its place among the World Cup’s most infamous moments. Here are ten other occasions when football has been shamed on the world's biggest stage.

Argentina Return Home Like Champions

Tens of thousands of fans welcomed Diego Maradona's team back to Buenos Aires.

Tim Vickery: Emotion no substitute for clear thinking

The pressure of the World Cup quarter-finals exposed the inexperience - and the lack of emotional control - of Maradona and Brazil coach Dunga.

2010 FIFA World Cup: Uruguay vs. Netherlands

Preview I
Preview II
Preview III

Carlisle: Uruguay with uphill battle

2010 FIFA World Cup: Team Of The Quarter-Finals runs through the best in show from the last eight ties.

Monday MLS Breakdown: Choices Await Donovan Upon MLS Return

Landon Donovan enjoyed a taste of his new life last week.

A country with his name entrenched in its consciousness after a series of impressive performances in South Africa. A whirlwind media tour designed to increase his star power and promote his sport. A rumor or two discussing the possibility of displaying his dancing skills on national television. A series of standing ovations at the Home Depot Center to thank him for his international success.

World Cup heroics hypnotise Uruguayans

On 1 March, during the course of a holiday, I happened to find myself in the middle of joyous Uruguayan festivities. People were pouring on to the streets of the capital Montevideo to celebrate the night away, singing patriotic songs and dancing until the early hours of the morning.