Friday, September 17, 2010
"Have you learned any Catalan yet?"
Javier Mascherano just looked a little bemused and mumbled something about how, erm, well, y'know, I will. Deep down, he could have been forgiven for thinking: "Of course not, you complete idiot. What kind of stupid question is that? I've been here only a week. Give me a chance, will you?"
Jamie Redknapp on Manchester United vs. Liverpool
Dale Johnson on Stoke vs. West Ham
Mark Lomas on Sunderland vs. Arsenal
Early-season pacesetters Atletico Madrid play host to reigning champions Barcelona Vicente Calderon this weekend. Real Madrid will look to continue their steady progress under new coach Jose Mourinho when they make the trip to last season's Segunda Division champions Real Sociedad on Saturday.
Although most eyes will be focused on the Arena AufSchalke, local pride will also be at stake in Hamburg, where St Pauli host their illustrious neighbours on Saturday, in Kaiserslautern, where Hoffenheim are the visitors, and in Wolfsburg, where Hannover arrive for the battle of Lower Saxony.
It's rivalry weekend in the Bundesliga as two of the premier derbies in Germany take place in the fourth round. The next nail-biting, white knuckling weekend of German football is headlined by two of the local derby matches. St. Pauli and Hamburg meet in the Hamburg derby, while Schalke hosts Dortmund in the Rhine River Derby.
Off The Ball never rests in its mission to scratch around the underbelly of professional football to find the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories.
This week, Jens Lehmann is told he's a muppet who belongs in an asylum, Togo send a fake team to Bahrain, Jay-Z wants to buy Arsenal and UEFA tell Bayern Munich fans they're very naughty boys.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Roy Hodgson has followed Rafa Benítez in failing to allow his Dutch forward the opportunity to shine at Anfield.
Arsenal hit Braga for six, while Chelsea also carried their unstoppable domestic form into Europe by thrashing MSK Zilina. Real Madrid also made a winning start, while AC Milan beat Auxerre and Bayern Munich defeated Roma.
MSK Zilina 1 - 4 Chelsea
Jamie Jackson at Stadion Pod Dubnom
Arsenal 6 - 0 Braga
Henry Winter at the Emirates
Tim Vickery at the Emirates
Kevin McCarra at the Emirates
Dominic Fifield: Defensive doubts remain
Real Madrid 2 - 0 Ajax
Oliver Brown at the Bernabéu
AC Milan 2 - 0 Auxerre
Bayern Munich 2 - 0 Roma
"They think to themselves, 'if I play a game for the first team all these girls will be after me, I will be invited to all these nightclubs, I will be able to get a new car and buy myself a nice flat'". Rio Ferdinand laments the mindset of young footballers. Pot. Kettle. Black.
"Because I'm rich." Mario Balotelli's reported response when quizzed by police officers after crashing his car over why he had £5,000 in cash in his back pocket.
Without question, Johnston's ouster was a long time in coming. Toronto is set to miss the playoffs for the fourth year in a row, a spell that would match San Jose's barren run from 1997-2000, and the one constant throughout TFC's period of futility has been the involvement of Johnston, who was the team's inaugural head coach before moving upstairs. That Johnston burned through countless players and four coaches during his time in charge speaks little of his long-term thinking.As for Preki, his dimissal is puzzling.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Chelsea and Arsenal get their UEFA Champions League campaigns underway as the English pair tackle MSK Zilina and Braga respectively on Wednesday night. Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, who won the Champions League with Inter Milan last season, sees his talented side lock horns with Ajax at the Bernabeu in Group G.
Chelsea vs. MSK Zilina
Roman returns to where it all began
Real Madrid vs. Ajax
Ronaldo & Mourinho United
Arsenal vs. Braga
Tim Vickery on Braga
Bayern Munich vs. Roma
AC Milan vs. Auxerre
Park-Ji-sung, Ryan Giggs, Gabriel Obertan or Bébé may fill in for the injured Ecuadorian, but his absence will be keenly felt.
Can any manager truly be regarded among the all-time greats of the British game if he does not win the European Cup? It is a debate that will rage should Arsène Wenger’s remarkable tenure at Arsenal end without the addition of a Champions League victory to his CV.
Just like Chelsea, it is the one trophy of real consequence that continues to elude Arsenal, although the consistency of both clubs during the past decade suggests that it is only a matter of time.
When David Beckham wrapped a green-and-gold scarf around his neck following AC Milan’s Champions League defeat at Manchester United last March, a tangible sense of revolution was in the air at Old Trafford.
Diego Maradona is among a trio of Latin American coaches keen to replace the sacked coach Carlos Queiroz and revive Portugal's Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.
Manchester United 0 - 0 Rangers
Richard Jolly at Old Trafford
Kevin McCarra at Old Trafford
Phil McNulty at Old Trafford
FC Twente 2 - 2 Internazionale Milan
Werder Bremen 2 - 2 Tottenham
Stuart James at the Weserstadion
Barcelona 5 - 1 Panathinaikos
Bahrain beat who they thought was the Togo national team 3-0 in Bahrain last Tuesday, but Togo officials have claimed to have no knowledge of the match. It has emerged the players may not have been professional footballers or even Togolese nationals but mystery still surrounds their true identity.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
As good as it will get for Rangers
Ferguson calls for calm as Rangers fans arrive
Werder Bremen vs. Tottenham
Barcelona vs. Panathinaikos
Lyon vs. Schalke 04
Twente Enschede vs. Internazionale Milan
Barcelona had not lost a home league game for 16 months, but two goals from Nelson Valdez gave Hércules a deserved victory.
Nelson Valdez hails a 'dream come true' as Hércules shock Barcelona.
Unfancied clubs count their blessings but the returning Germany captain curses his luck.
Hoffenheim and Mainz surge on as records and Michael Ballack tumble.
2 - 1
Tony Pulis's late return sets up Stoke City for dramatic victory.
|September 14, 2010||P||Pts|
|West Bromwich Albion||4||4|
|West Ham United||4||0|
Monday, September 13, 2010
Bayern Munich, Stuttgart, Schalke, Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen still missing near the top as Hoffenheim and Mainz continue to impress.
Columbus traveled to Los Angeles for the much-anticipated clash on Saturday night without the trepidation most teams feel when they face the Galaxy. The Crew did not aspire to stack numbers behind the ball and tempt the Galaxy to break them down. Instead, the Eastern Conference leaders arrived with the intent to stand toe-to-toe with one of their fellow heavyweights and let the chips fall where they may.
Mainz made it three wins from three Bundesliga matches while Wolfsburg are still without a single point under Steve McClaren. Taner Yalcin's first senior goal earned Cologne all three points at home to St Pauli. Werder Bremen made it five seasons without defeat at the Allianz Arena as they held Bayern Munich to a goalless draw.
Sampdoria are in a clutch of teams with four points after an entertaining 3-3 draw at Juventus.
Luigi Del Neri's Juve, who went down 1-0 at Bari in their opener a fortnight ago, trailed to Nicola Pozzi's 36th-minute strike but got back on terms through Claudio Marchisio two minutes before the break.
Calcio Debate: Why Milan Were Humiliated By Cesena, Rino Gattuso Must Not Play, Serie A Is The Most Competitive League In Europe
Unlike the Premier League where anyone below the European places are often crushed 6-0 by Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal, there are no easy games in Italy. Only the Bundesliga can get even close to matching Serie A for competitiveness throughout the league. Indeed, things are so tight this season that many critics believe that 70 points may be enough to win the Scudetto.
Everton 3 - 3 Manchester United
Andy Hunter at Goodison Park
Arsenal 4 - 1 Bolton
David Lacey at The Emirates
Manchester City 1 - 1 Blackburn
Richard Jolly at Eastlands
West Ham 1 - 3 Chelsea
Kevin Palmer at Upton Park
Birmingham 0 - 0 Liverpool
Richard Jolly at St. Andrews