Friday, December 03, 2010

Spain: Eduardo Alvarez's Quiniela

This column couldn't possibly be accused of hyperbole or exaggeration if we say that the week has been simply catastrophic. On Monday, Leslie Nielsen died. On Wednesday and Thursday, the Spanish teams playing for the Europa League did terribly, with the only exception being Villarreal. And to make matters worse, the joint Iberian candidacy to organise the 2018 World Cup lost to Russia. I'm pretty sure that my selective mind is eliminating some other disaster that happened during this week that would make me feel even more depressed, but all that was already enough, right?

Well, the upcoming Quiniela looks as challenging as keeping Jose Mourinho hiding on his bench for a full match, so let's start. As usual, it's '1' for a home win, 'X' for a draw and '2' for an away win.

England: Premier League Previews & Predictions

Arsenal host Fulham, Blackpool welcome Manchester United, Spurs go to Birmingham City, Bolton go to Manchester City, Chelsea host Everton, Wolves visit Blackburn, Wigan welcome Stoke, West Brom and Newcastle clash and Sunderland host West Ham.


Team News

Jon Carter Previews Chelsea vs. Everton

Jon Carter Previews Blackpool vs. Manchester United

Blackpool vs. Manchester United Under Threat

Lawro's Predictions

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Preview

There will be no sympathy on show when Schalke face Bayern Munich this weekend with both clubs desperately needing a victory. If Hoffenheim win at Stuttgart, Eintracht Frankfurt win the Rhine-Main derby against Mainz, and the clash between Freiburg and Hamburg provides a winner, Bayern would drop down the table, although nowhere near as far down as Schalke are at present. Elsewhere, St Pauli host Kaiserslautern, Borussia Monchengladbach entertain Hannover and, finally, league leaders Borussia Dortmund complete the weekend with their trip to Nurnberg.


Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

Lazio host Inter Milan, Juventus face Sampdoria, AC Milan host Brescia, Fiorentina face Cagliari and Napoli and Palermo clash.


The Joy of Six: Brief Trends in Football

From inflatable bananas to Dundee United playing in the USA, here are football fashions that didn't quite last the course.

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, Gary Lineker does an Italian job while Ian Holloway shows up Jose Mourinho's lack of ambition.

FIFA Fallout

Old Charges Amid New FIFA Frontiers

Choices Raise Questions of FIFA Integrity

Choices Show Desire To Leave Legacy

How England's Bid Failed

Short Memories in South Africa

Russia Faces Major Hurdles

Deep Humiliation For English Game

Heat Means Games At Night in Qatar

FIFA's Ongoing Folly

World Media Reaction

The Qatari Celebrate

From our man on the ground in Doha:
The footage is really self explanatory. There are many things I want to say about this country but it is still a very closed society and there are many rules regarding the Qatari. We are forbidden to photograph, touch or speak to them "with loud words". This is very serious and some German's I work for can attest to this. I am currently working in the employ of the government so I think it is smart to wait until I am home to share my thoughts. Please pass this along to Sanford, but I must remain an anonymous source. I know it sounds paranoid, but there is a real cultural change occurring here with the younger generation and this world cup announcement has set the wheels in motion, but the older generation is still in many of the positions of authority. The person who filmed it said he didn't care if it was linked...

Qatar 2022 Bid Celebration from Kyle McDonald on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Russia to host 2018 finals, Qatar win 2022


World Cup 2018 & 2022 Insanity

The World Awaits Decisions in Zurich

England impress in final pitch

Who are the FIFA 22?

FIFA World Cup Votes Explained

While England and the Low Countries provided a vision, Russia and Spain-Portugal presented only politics

Henry Winter: One vote will define a decade

The race to host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022

There are four bids on the table for the 2018 World Cup, with England hopeful of beating Spain/Portugal, Netherlands/Belgium and Russia for the right to host the competition for the first time since 1966.

Five bidders are vying for the 2022 tournament: Japan, Australia, United States of America, South Korea and Qatar.

Here is our guide to the contenders for both editions, starting with the four bids for 2018:

The Mill +

Thursday's Rumours


Bari's Caputo celebrates goal by punching teammate in the face

Sometimes when footballers score a goal, they'll celebrate by pretending to knock out their teammates. Well, Bari's Francesco Caputo didn't pretend.

Grant Wahl: U.S. rests hopes on tireless Gulati

The U.S. gave its formal bid presentation to host World Cup '22 here on Wednesday, and a list of bold-faced names spoke on the Americans' behalf, including former President Bill Clinton, the actor Morgan Freeman, President Obama (on videotape) and star player Landon Donovan.

But the least recognizable speaker was the man who has done more to spearhead the U.S.'s drive for World Cup '22 than anyone else: A 51-year-old Columbia University economics professor who was born in Allahabad, India and emigrated to the U.S. at age five.

Raphael Honigstein: Schalke's Jones draws Magath's ire

Revenge, according to Felix Magath, is a dish best served frozen. The Schalke 04 coach had promised "immediate consequences" in the aftermath of the disastrous 5-0 defeat at Kaiserslautern on Saturday and didn't disappoint: The strict disciplinarian had his team training in shorts on Tuesday morning in 25-degree weather. Gloves, hats, scarves or snoods were implicitly forbidden, too.

England: Wednesday's Carling Cup Reports & Fallout

Birmingham City
2 - 1
Aston Villa

Stuart James at St. Andrew's
Phil McNulty at St. Andrew's
Violence mars derby win
FA to investigate violence

Ipswich Town
1 - 0
West Bromwich Albion

Jon West at Portman Road

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Mill +

Wednesday's Rumours


Martin Tyler's Column

Martin Tyler's stats and facts column is here!

Every week he will be here to offer you statistical gems to make your day, impress your mates and, on occasion, to settle the odd bet.

Sky Sports' voice of football and his back-up team of experts are here to answer your questions and queries on all things statistical and historical from the beautiful game.

Steve Davis: World Cup decision critical for U.S.

Whatever your opinion of Major League Soccer, almost everyone will agree the league is no cash cow. Far from it.

So why would the relatively frugal MLS happily fork over $2 million to the USA Bid Committee, the lead element in a chase to deliver World Cup 2022 to this country? Why would MLS donate such a handsome sum this late in the game, when things already look so promising ahead of Thursday's massive announcement?

Hahnemann loses starting spot at Wolves

American goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann has been dropped as Wolverhampton Wanderers' starter.

England: Tuesday's Carling Cup Reports

West Ham 4 - 0 Manchester United

Jamie Jackson at Upton Park
John Brewin at Upton Park

Arsenal 2 - 0 Wigan Athletic
David Hytner at the Emirates Stadium

José Mourinho and Real Madrid guilty of misconduct over bookings

Mourinho has been banned from the touchline for two Uefa competition matches – the second of which is suspended for three years – with the club fined €120,000 (£100,000) after the two players seemed to deliberately incur second bookings, therefore wiping out previous cautions ahead of the Champions League knockout stage.

Grant Wahl: U.S.' bid appears favored for 2022

How convoluted are the politics surrounding this Thursday's FIFA vote to award the hosts for World Cups 2018 and '22? Well, the first person I saw upon leaving airport customs here was Bora Milutinovic, the peripatetic Serbian-born, Mexican-based coach who managed the U.S. at World Cup '94.

"The Body" is working for Australia...

"My friend! My friend!" Bora squawked, and it's true. Bora is everybody's friend. He remains tight with the U.S. Soccer Federation, which is bidding to host World Cup '22 (to be awarded with World Cup '18 on Thursday). But Bora is publicly supporting the competing bid of Qatar -- for a nice fee -- joining other celebrity endorsers for the wealthy Arab emirate that include Zinédine Zidane, Sir Alex Ferguson and Pep Guardiola.

For a few days, then, Bora is not America's friend.

World Cup D-Day: The Contenders

The great and good of football, or what passes for such a category at present, has assembled in Zurich to decide which countries will be bestowed with the honour of hosting the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

England: Carling Cup Quarter-Final Previews

West Ham vs. Manchester United

Arsenal vs. Wigan

Italy: Serie A Worst Team Of The Week

Stefano Mauri (Lazio): Mauri has been outstanding for Lazio in the early part of the season, but things are now starting to veer off course. Expected to act as the emblem of the team, he was banished to the margins in a less than radiant game.

The Rest

Americans in the UK: Dempsey At It Again

The Fulham man scored the equalizer during Saturday’s match, continuing his impressive season.

The Rest

Americans On The Continent: Winning Return

Steve Cherundolo returned from suspension to captain Hannover 96 as they defeated SC Freiburg 3-0 over the weekend.

The Rest

Anelka and the Pigeon

Tip of the hat to J.D...

Sir Alex Ferguson Vs Arsene Wenger: Who Really Is Bringing Through The Best Youngsters For Manchester United And Arsenal?

Although it has enjoyed a revival of sorts in recent seasons, the League Cup is still not the playground of the established stars - at least not for the very best teams, and not until the later rounds.

With Arsenal to face Wigan Athletic and Manchester United clashing with West Ham United in the quarter-finals of the competition on Tuesday, both Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson are unlikely to change their regular practice of selecting a young team, a system that has generally worked well in recent years.

Peter Begrie: Central Focus

The pride of the East Midlands will be featured live on Sky Sports this weekend. The region's three Championship clubs - Derby County, Nottingham Forest and Leicester City - are all in action and all three have aspirations to reach the play-offs this season.

Derby travel to Burnley on Saturday, while Leicester host Forest on Monday night, but which East Midlands side will finish highest?

Tim Vickery in South America

For much of Sunday in Rio de Janeiro, televisions in bars and restaurants were all showing the massive operation of security forces and their invasion of the Alemao group of favelas. By late afternoon, though, they had switched to coverage of the penultimate round of the Brazilian Championship. Viewers were transfixed by both.

It is fair to assume that there is a link between sport and Rio's latest outbreak of social violence. Last week, the drug lords staged a show of strength, setting fire to vehicles all over the city. It is conceivable that this action was planned to coincide with Rio's staging of the Soccerex conference and trade fair, which aimed to give a kick-start to Brazil's hosting of the 2014 World Cup and the Rio Olympics two years later.

With the global focus on Rio and Brazil, the scenes of widespread disorder were an embarrassment for the local authorities, who hit back with a show of strength of their own, one which may have been stronger than the drug lords had bargained for.

The football fan who thinks of coming to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup may well be having second thoughts. He or she might be wondering whether this place is safe. The obvious answer is no.

Uli Hesse in Germany

You will hear few dissenting voices when you argue that the two top teams in the Bundesliga owe a good deal of their current success to their respective coaches - Thomas Tuchel, masterminding Mainz, and Jurgen Klopp, directing Dortmund.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Hamburg's skittish win over Stuttgart provided evidence that Bundesliga managers are not up to the standard of its players.

Armin Veh will be lucky to stay course at 'heaven and hell' Hamburg.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

As displayed in their impressive 3-1 win over Roma, the Rosanero have serious designs on the Champions League.

Josip Ilicic steals the show as Palermo flip the script.

Spain: El Clásico Reports & Fallout

Barcelona 5 - 0 Real Madrid
Report I
Report II

Phil Ball: No Contest

Sid Lowe: Barcelona do it their way

Tom Adams: Judgement emphatic

Phil Minshull: Where do Mourinho and Guardiola go from here?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Real Madrid Team Bus Stoned On Arrival At Barcelona Hotel

Publication Marca alleges that poor security allowed a group of radical Barcelona supporters, believed to be from the group known as the Boixos Nois, to attack the bus as it arrived, and a member of Los Blancos security team was struck on the neck during the incident.

Spain: El Clásico Previews, Rewind & Joy of Six

Who: Barcelona vs. Real Madrid
Where: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
When: 3pm EST
U.S. TV: GolTV, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3
Preview I
Preview II

Sid Lowe:

Hype goes into overdrive

Graham Hunter:
The game's best rivalry

The Joy of Six:
El Clásico Classics

Rewind to 2002: Figo's Great Betrayal

FA Cup Third Round Draw: Manchester United drawn against Liverpool

Manchester United have been drawn against Liverpool in the FA Cup. They will meet at Old Trafford in the undoubted tie of the third round. Meanwhile, Leicester City boss Sven Goran Eriksson will be given the chance to face former club Manchester City at the Walkers Stadium, while Arsenal host Championship side Leeds, who secured a memorable upset at Old Trafford last season.

The ties will be played on January 8 and 9.

Martin Rogers and Norman Hubbard on Tottenham

Martin Rogers:

Upstart Tottenham start new, exciting trend

Norman Hubbard:
Romantic Spurs short of solidity

Nicky Butt has high hopes for Hong Kong tryout

Former Manchester United and Newcastle midfielder Nicky Butt says he is looking forward to playing for Hong Kong league club South China in a tryout game on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old former England international said that he and the club will make a decision about his future sometime over the next few days.

Butt arrived in Hong Kong on Monday and will spend at least a week training with the team and playing in the first division game against local club TSW Pegasus at Hong Kong Stadium.

Five things we learned from the Premier League this weekend

Tottenham's spirit mirrors Manchester United's in 1999 while Nani is stepping out of Cristiano Ronaldo's shadow.

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Review

Hugo Almeida scored a hat-trick and was then sent off as Werder Bremen won 3-0 over St Pauli. Borussia Dortmund re-established their seven-point advantage atop the Bundesliga with a 4-1 win over Borussia Monchengladbach. Bayern Munich moved into the top five for the first time this season thanks to a comfortable 4-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt. Kaiserslautern brought Schalke back to earth with a bump with a ruthless 5-0 victory against the European high-fliers.


Spain: La Liga Weekend Review

Carlos Gurpegi earned Athletic Bilbao the derby honours as they beat Osasuna 1-0 in the Primera Division. Mallorca climbed into the top six with a 2-0 win over Malaga, who have now suffered successive defeats under new coach Manuel Pellegrini. Eleven players were booked as Real Sociedad scored a goal late in each half to claim a come-from-behind 3-1 win at Sporting Gijon.


Italy: Serie A Weekend Review

Lazio missed the chance to cut AC Milan's lead at the top of the Serie A table to a point as they were held 1-1 by Catania. Inter Milan put their injury and form crisis behind them at the San Siro as they beat Parma 5-2 in a remarkable game. Antonio Di Natale scored a hat-trick as Udinese recorded an impressive win which denied Napoli a place in the top three in Serie A. Roma were unable to move into third as they were beaten 3-1 by Palermo, who leapfrog them in the table.


England: Premier League Weekend Reviews, Reports & Analyses

Manchester United put seven past Blackburn, Tottenham earned a comeback victory over Liverpool while Chelsea continued to stutter at Newcastle. Everton continued to stutter and their fans went away from Goodison Park with no winter cheer following a remarkable 4-1 defeat at the hands of newly-promoted West Brom. The early kick-off on Saturday saw another goal-fest as Arsenal held off the challenge of Aston Villa to pick up a 4-2 away win.


Martin Lipton's Weekend Review

Georgina Turner's Weekend Review

Aston Villa 2 - 4 Arsenal
David Lacey at Villa Park
Kevin Palmer at Villa Park

Manchester United 7 - 1 Blackburn
Andy Hunter at Old Trafford

Newcastle 1 - 1 Chelsea
Richard Jolly at St. James' Park
Louise Taylor at St. James' Park

Tottenham 2 - 1 Liverpool
Mandeep Sanghera at White Hart Lane

Stoke City 1 - 1 Manchester City
Richard Jolly at the Brittania Stadium

Premier League Chalkboard Analysis

The Fifth Official

Few of us like Mondays but The Fifth Official does, for it brings with it a chance for him to point the finger and laugh. Here he pulls out the pretty, the puzzling and the downright pig-ugly from the past week in football.