Friday, October 01, 2010

Spain: Eduardo Alvarez's Quiniela

What a loaded week! In just five days, La Liga presented us with managers being fired, managers being hired, a Golden Boot trophy winner, the surprising dismissal of a club President and the shocking realisation that a €96 million player can also feel anxiety. We need to understand how this news storm impacts our bets. With no further ado, let's start.

As usual, it's '1' for a home win, 'X' for a draw and '2' for an away win.

Friday MLS Forecast

The Forecast wonders why one MLS club bears the brunt of the U.S. national team's October burden and trawls through the rest of the Week 27 slate.

The Joy of Six: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

From an anti-football encounter in 1966 to high-scoring romps in the 1990s, here are six classic Arsenal v Chelsea games.

The most brutal match I've ever seen live. I was in the corner, separated from the Chelsea fans by a wall of stewards. It still hurts... -Sanford

Manchester City reveal financial losses of £121m

Manchester City have announced losses of £121m for the 12 months leading up to 31 May this year, having spent more on wages than their entire turnover.

The financial losses, up from £92.5m for the previous year, represent one of the heaviest in Premier League history.

Chief executive Garry Cook says City will now scale back on new signings.

What's the appeal of St. Pauli?

Like many football fans, I had heard of the German club St Pauli and its pioneering stance against racism, sexism and homophobia but my knowledge began and ended there.

So when the editor of Football Focus suggested I forget about the Premier League and head to Hamburg to see St Pauli make a bit of Bundesliga history, I leapt at the chance.

England: Premier League Weekend Previews & Predictions

Premier League champions Chelsea host London rivals Arsenal in a mouth-watering clash at Stamford Bridge. Elsewhere, Manchester United face a potentially tricky trip to Wearside as they meet Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur host Gerard Houllier's Aston Villa off the back of their first UEFA Champions League group win, Manchester City welcome Newcastle United to Eastlands while Liverpool tackle newly-promoted Blackpool.

Preview I
Preview II

Sunderland vs. Manchester United: Preview

Paul Merson: Arsenal not good enough to beat Chelsea
Andy Gray: Huge match for the Gunners

Team News

Lawro's Predictions

Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

An inspired Inter Milan host Juventus on Sunday evening looking to pick up where they left off in midweek. If Inter fail to win, Lazio could climb to the top of the standings. The Biancoceleste are level on 10 points with Inter after five games and they host Brescia on Sunday.

Roma claimed a 2-1 win over CFR Cluj in midweek and they will go up against Napoli at the San Paolo. AC Milan, who held Ajax to a 1-1 draw in Amsterdam, will welcome back Alexandre Pato for Sunday's trip to Parma.

The Rossoneri are fifth in the standings, two points behind Inter.

Fiorentina won for the first time this season when they beat Parma last time out. The Viola will take on Palermo on Sunday.


Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview

Madrid welcome second-bottom Deportivo La Coruna to the Bernabeu on Sunday night in the final game of the weekend, by which time they will know how their rivals have fared.

Champions Barcelona, who sit a point and a position better off in third, kick off two hours earlier against Real Mallorca at the Nou Camp.


Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Preview


Hannover - St Pauli

Borussia Moenchengladbach - Wolfsburg
Hamburg - Kaiserslautern
Mainz - Hoffenheim
Nuernberg - Schalke
Freiburg - Koeln


Stuttgart - Eintracht Frankfurt
Bayer Leverkusen - Werder Bremen
Borussia Dortmund - Bayern Munich


Europa League: Thursday Review

Liverpool and Manchester City were both held to draws while reigning champions Atletico Madrid failed to win as well.


From Ashley Cole To George Graham - The Footballers Who Have Played For Both Chelsea And Arsenal

Since Roman Abramovich acquired Chelsea and the club established themselves among English football's elite, clashes between the Blues and fellow 'Big Four' members Arsenal have arguably become the biggest derby games in London.

Yet despite the intense rivalry that marks the relationship between the two clubs today, they have shared several players - as well as managers and coaches - over the years. takes a look at 10 of the more distinguished players who represented both London clubs during their careers - including some who'll be in action at Stamford Bridge when Arsenal visit on Sunday...

Dominic Raynor: Off The Ball

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, Wayne Rooney is voted the worst dressed player at Manchester United, Cuauhtemoc Blanco makes his acting debut alongside topless Paraguay fan Larissa Riquelme, Arsenal are forced to change by mobile phone light, and we introduce the world's first interactive Super Mario Brothers banner.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Grant Wahl: Why CONCACAF is killing the best rivalry in North America

They're killing the most important rivalry in American soccer.

That's my unavoidable conclusion after speaking to Chuck Blazer, the general secretary of CONCACAF, who confirmed that he expects FIFA to approve a new regional qualifying format for World Cup 2014.

Under the new format, which has already been approved by CONCACAF, the U.S. and archrival Mexico -- the two soccer giants in this part of the world -- would almost certainly not meet during any of the qualifying games for Brazil 2014. Not even once.

Sadly, I'm not making this up.

Europa League Thursday Preview

The Europa League returns with the potential for drama at every turn. We've previewed each group so you don't have to.

Tom Adams: Rewind to 1995

On Tuesday night, two of Europe's most historic clubs met in the Champions League as Ajax drew 1-1 with AC Milan. The two sides also met in the final in 1995 as a gloriously talented crop of Amsterdammers defeated a collection of Rossoneri superstars. This is a story of a triumph of youth over experience, and the rise to prominence of global stars such as Patrick Kluivert, Edgar Davids and Clarence Seedorf.

Uli Hesse in Germany

Just five weeks into the new season, observers are struggling to decide the most mind-bending thing about the bizarro world of the Bundesliga.

Is it that Mainz have won six games on the trot - including Saturday's match away at Bayern and an encounter at Wolfsburg in which they came back from three goals down - to lead the league?

Marseille security chief 'grabbed and thrown out' by Chelsea

Cazadamont claimed the 22 Marseille stewards, who travelled from France, were not allowed to supervise their fans in the stands and banners were confiscated at the stadium entrance. He also said some supporters were not allowed to enter the stadium and had their tickets "ripped off". "I went to the stands and the discussion was heated.

But instead of dealing with my Chelsea counterpart, I had to talk to the stewards," said Cazadamont. Marseille said it would refer the case to Uefa.

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's Review, Reports & Analyses

Javier Hernandez fired Manchester United to victory, Rafael van der Vaart had an astonishing evening in Tottenham's success and Rangers defeated Bursaspor. Inter Milan are next on the agenda for Harry Redknapp's side and the reigning champions looked in imposing form as they brushed aside Werder Bremen 4-0 courtesy of a Samuel Eto'o hat-trick. Barcelona were forced to settle for a point from their trip to Russia as their Group D clash with Rubin Kazan ended in a 1-1 draw after a tale of two penalties.


Valencia 0 - 1 Manchester United
Daniel Taylor at the Mestalla
Player Ratings

Tottenham 4 - 1 FC Twente
Kevin McCarra at White Hart Lane
John Ley at White Hart Lane
Kevin Palmer at White Hart Lane
Player Ratings

Inter Milan 4 - 0 Werder Bremen
Report I
Report II

Rubin Kazan 1 - 1 Barcelona


Adriano came close to suicide, says mother

Adriano was once seen as the future of Brazilian football after joining Inter Milan and was dubbed 'the new Ronaldo', however a spiral of drink, depression and the death of his father saw him fall out of love with the game; a decline that nearly saw him end it all.

Stuart Holden signs new contract with Bolton

Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden has signed a contract extension which keeps him at the club until 2013.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Previews

Chelsea will be keen to get back to winning ways against Marseille in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, while Arsenal face a tricky trip to Partizan Belgrade. Group G throws up another heavyweight encounter, with former winners Ajax and AC Milan set to lock horns in a glamour encounter in Amsterdam. Real Madrid, who are yet to hit top gear this season, head to France to take on an Auxerre outfit that has endured a torrid start to the campaign.

Partizan Belgrade vs. Arsenal
Jonathan Wilson: Partizan can upset Arsenal
Jonathan Stevenson: Partizan gunning for Arsenal scalp
Jeremy Wilson: Last chance for Fabianski

Chelsea vs. Marseille
Preview I
Preview II

Ajax vs. AC Milan
Preview I
Preview II

Auxerre vs. Real Madrid

Sid Lowe in Spain

The heavily-indebted club may not have 'kissed Miss Spain' by drawing with Real Madrid but their future looks brighter.

Levante's reversal of fortune makes paupers of Real Madrid's princes.

Kevin McCarra: Arsenal look fine in theory but persistently fail the practical

A better goalkeeper than Manuel Almunia is required but he is not solely to blame for the Gunners' shortcomings.

Americans On The Continent: Keeping It Clean

Boca's boys are flying high at the moment.

Americans In The UK: American Tag Team

Both Brad Friedel and Brad Guzan had solid performances for Villa last week.

Tim Vickery in South America

Millions of people every year move to live in a new country and struggle to make sense of their new surroundings as they deal with a different climate, new language and unfamiliar culture.

The fascinating thing about footballers is that they go through this process in public. Everything they do is geared towards their performance on the pitch, where their work (i.e. the success of their adaptation) is viewed and judged by thousands in the stadium and millions watching on television.

Extra interest is added by the fact that footballers have not usually grown up as global citizens. They are frequently drawn from the lower end of the social scale, with little access to cultures outside their own.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Beating Bayern in Munich, in the midst of Oktoberfest, has made Mainz 05's young side every neutrals' favourites.

Mainz's Bruchweg Boys wow the fans but Bayern remain out of tune.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

The honeymoon is over for José Mourinho's successor following Internazionale's 1-0 defeat to Roma.

Loss means Rafael Benítez can no longer hide from special comparisons.

Phil Ball in Spain

Saturday night in San Mames, Sunday night in Anoeta. It's a hard life. I've just come out of the U2 concert in the latter stadium, and left the folks jigging up and down so that I can get on with writing this week's column. I must be getting old, but once they'd done 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' (ahem) I thought I'd better get on home. Besides, the light show was starting to make me feel sea-sick. At a place called vertigo, indeed. Give me a football match any day. Bono did mumble something about the World Cup at one point - something about the Irish not even getting to South Africa, but that 'you' did - by which he meant Spain, I suppose. Hello, hello! And I thought the chap was supposed to be politically aware?