Friday, February 11, 2011
Xavi, who visits Arsenal with Barça next week, on his football education, Cesc Fábregas and the greatness of Paul Scholes.
I'm a romantic, says Xavi, heartbeat of Barcelona and Spain.
All eyes will be on Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime as Manchester United and Manchester City prepare to renew old rivalries. It was the corresponding fixture last season which saw the two sides play out an enthralling 4-3 encounter, with Michael Owen popping up deep into injury time to net a last-gasp winner for the Red Devils. Elsewhere this weekend there are a number of intriguing clashes, including what is a relegation six-pointer at the Hawthorns as West Brom, having just appointed Roy Hodgson, take on West Ham. Meanwhile, Wolves will be hoping to build on their remarkable victory over United when they travel to Arsenal, who will no doubt be fired up following their capitulation at Newcastle.
The defending champions travel to Turin on Sunday night to meet Juventus, who despite trailing leaders AC Milan by 11 points still harbour hopes of winning the scudetto.
Inter, meanwhile, are five points adrift of Milan but just two points behind second-placed Napoli and with a game in hand.
It is back to the drawing board for Tottenham Hotspur. West Ham have been selected as the preferred bidder to move into the Olympic Stadium in Stratford after London 2012, meaning Spurs will remain at White Hart Lane - for the time being at least.
Are those who are out to get the Arsenal captain the same people who knobbled Hennes the Billy Goat?
"West Bromwich Albion are delighted to announce they have appointed Roy Hodgson as the club's new head coach. The 63-year-old former Internazionale, Switzerland, Fulham and Liverpool manager has this morning committed himself to the club until June 2012."
This week, John Carew's new tattoo is a pain in the neck, "Shameless fatty" Ronaldo slams "terrorist" Corinthians fans, Rafa Benitez swaps 'facts' for 'statistics' and Benni McCarthy is fined £200,000 for being overweight.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
With the cancellation of Wednesday's friendly between the U.S. and Egypt in Cairo, it's an unplanned slow day in the world of American soccer. So let's open the mailbag and answer some of your questions:
Andy Carroll and Darren Bent have fled, but if the north-east teams want to retain their other star players they must qualify for the Europa League.
Its Football Money League, based on season 2009-10, also said the combined revenues of the 20 clubs had passed 4bn euros (£3.8bn) for the first time.
Real's arch-rivals Barcelona retained second spot in the list, ahead of Manchester United who remain third.
Manchester City were the biggest climbers, up from 20th to 11th place.
Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool were fifth, sixth and eighth respectively.
Olympic Park Legacy Company executives have decided the offer from the club - which would retain the athletics track - is better than Tottenham's rival bid.
They are expected to ask the company's board to announce West Ham as the preferred bidder on Friday.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
A busy FIFA date on Wednesday features a juicy slate of international friendlies, as European nations prepare for next month's Euro 2012 qualifying to resume, and South American sides have their eyes on this summer's Copa America.
Denmark vs. England: Preview
France vs. Brazil: Preview
Portugal vs. Argentina: Preview
Chelsea's sporting director Frank Arnesen says that the capture of Fernando Torres doesn't "close the door" for others, but the club's academy continues to loan out young talent on a regular basis. John Terry was the last player to come through the ranks and establish themselves in the first team.
He will then spend most of Thursday kicking his heels in a hotel before taking an eight-hour flight from the United States that will see him arrive back in Manchester at just after 10am on Friday morning.
Twenty-six hours later, United will take on Manchester City in one of the most crucial Manchester derbies in years — a fixture which could prove pivotal in the Premier League title race — and Hernandez will somehow have to raise himself to pull on his ‘Chicharito’ shirt if Sir Alex Ferguson chooses to select him for his squad.
Liverpool have a history of near-hysterical levels of imagined persecution and self-mythologising. Everybody knows they had the chippiest fans of all the top teams. Now they’re not a top team, so who’s next? Given the actions of the past few years and particularly the last few weeks, it has to be Arsenal. The Islington Set are a churlish bunch.
The Wolverhampton Wanderers manager was destined to be a colliery electrician until a timely intervention by Barnsley diverted his attentions to full-time football.
A guy named Rich wanted to help finance a team that played at a stadium called Welfare Park? Right.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Chief executive Gil Marín's plans are falling apart, but it looks like coach Quique will be the one to go.
How long until Atlético Madrid's manager takes the exit door?
American fans had hoped that Dempsey, who has established himself as one of Fulham’s best performers in the EPL, would follow the example of Brian McBride, Kasey Keller and others by coming home to play for a couple of years before retirement.
Strikers, goalscorers and spectacular forwards.
They are what every manager, fan and chairman dreams about and they even make some clubs spend outrageously to get the best.
It makes you think about who is the best striker in the Premier League now and which forwards are the best since the league began.
Here's my take on the best five now and the best five of all time (in no particular order). Sorry, but there's no place, even at £35m, for Andy Carroll because, for him, it's all about potential.
Stars don't care about international football.
But then neither do fans.
Sir Geoff Hurst was standing in a long queue for a taxi recently, inching slowly towards the front.
Standing at the head of the queue was a man in his early 20s, who shouted back: “Would you like the cab, Sir Geoff?” A grateful nation never forgets. Memories of July 30 1966 are passed down from generation to generation.
The most incomprehensible thing about Bayern Munich's second-half collapse at Köln was its eerie predictability.
Miracle of Müngersdorf sees Bayern implode and Köln reach state of bliss.
The Italian champions are closing in on leaders Milan playing a brand of Brazil-like attacking football.
Internazionale's epic win over Roma shows Leonardo has made his mark.
Jozy Altidore also moved on loan, taking his talents from Spanish title-chasers Villarreal to Turkish Super Lig joint leaders Bursaspor till season’s end. Altidore will hope to see his first action this weekend when his new side faces Eskisehirspo away from home on Sunday.
On Saturday, the Cottagers struggled to get anything going against Aston Villa. They scored an own goal early on and failed to truly test the keeper much in the first half. However, Andy Johnson tallied eight minutes into the second stanza before the Villains regained the lead 20 minutes later.
Finally, Dempsey stepped up to level the score. The equalizer came in the 78th minute when the striker powered in a header following Danny Murphy’s corner kick. The goal was Dempsey’s ninth in the Premier League this season, ranking him fifth in the league. In addition, out of his nine goals, five of them were either winners or tied the game after Fulham had been trailing.
It's the same with Major League Soccer. It's growing up fast, now into the wonder years. There's still plenty of room to grow for the 16-year-old operation, but evidence keeps breaking that MLS is maturing fast -- which has its good and bad points. Progress comes at a price, after all.
Lille and Barcelona don't have too much in common. One is a cosmopolitan Mediterranean metropolis, the other an unremarkable Eurostar stop on the fast track from London to Paris. However, like Barcelona - and unlike Ashford in Kent, the other town rendered famous by the Channel Tunnel rail link - Lille have a football team the envy of the country.
It's always interesting to visit the 'Bernabow', whether the hosts are ten points adrift of first place or ten points ahead. There's always a feeling, as you mingle outside with the crowds (as long as you're not robbed in the style of Harry Redknapp) that you're at the centre of the universe, and that no other place can be quite as significant.
Monday, February 07, 2011
Beery and boisterous on any weekend, the Bundesliga was about to go off the scale with Ruhr bragging rights up for grabs between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke in the Revierderby, the Bundesliga's biggest derby clash of them all.
"The coach wanted to make clear to us that he can drop any player, it was all the same to him because, as he said, he had the balls," said Toni.
"He demonstrated this literally (by dropping his trousers). I have never experienced anything like it, it was totally crazy. Luckily I didn't see a lot, because I wasn't in the front row."
One of the most remarkable weekends in Premier League history saw a record 41 goals scored in eight games on Saturday, while Liverpool spoiled Fernando Torres' Chelsea debut on Sunday. Newcastle produced a heroic display in undoubtedly the game of the weekend at St James' Park - coming from four goals down to draw 4-4 with Arsenal. Manchester United's unbeaten run came to an abrupt end following a 2-1 defeat at Wolves.
2 - 1
Joe Lovejoy at Molineux
5 - 3
Georgina Turner at Goodison Park
4 - 4
Duncan White at St. James' Park
Interpol deny match-fixing investigation
Sagna claims Dowd rant
0 - 1
Kevin McCarra at Stamford Bridge
Phil McNulty at Stamford Bridge
Richard Williams at Stamford Bridge
Alan Hansen's Review
Five Things We Learned
Inter Milan moved ominously up to third in the Serie A standings with a thrilling 5-3 win over Roma. AC Milan saw their advantage at the top cut to three points after being held to a 1-1 draw at Genoa. Napoli took advantage of Milan's failure to beat Genoa as they closed the gap at the top to just three points with a 2-0 home win over second-bottom Cesena.
Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a brace as Real Madrid enjoyed a 4-1 victory over Real Sociedad at the Bernabeu. Lionel Messi fired a hat-trick as Barcelona crushed Atletico Madrid.
Third-placed Villarreal lost 1-0 at home to Levante, whose win bolstered their hopes of avoiding relegation.
Villarreal had claimed 31 points from a possible 33 at their El Madrigal home this season and would have moved to within three points of second-placed Real Madrid with a victory.
“On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Roberto for his efforts over the past 19 months, particularly for his contribution towards last season's promotion success and our very promising start to the current campaign.