Friday, February 25, 2011
You get this instead...
In November 2005, Manchester United played away in Europe on a chilly night at the Stade de France. It was an embarrassing evening for Sir Alex Ferguson's side, as they crashed to a 1-0 defeat to Lille, a result that paved the way for United's first failure to reach the Champions League knockout stages in a decade.
Five-and-a-half years on and a trip to Marseille's Stade Velodrome left some with a remarkable sense of déjà vu after a Red Devils side bereft of creativity failed to score in France again.
David Lacey: Why the League Cup is no longer the poor relation to the FA Cup
West Ham vs. Liverpool: Paul Merson's Preview
Leverkusen will get in trouble if Dortmund or Bayern wins. Bayern is right behind them and has a chance of catching them. Thus they can’t slip up. While if Dortmund wins, Leverkusen will be unable to cut the margin between themselves and Dortmund. They take on defensively inept Bremen on Sunday.
David Beckham defended his decision to train in England and return late to pre-season preparation with the Los Angeles Galaxy, saying it was more useful than sitting on the beach.
Twelve years ago John Gregory selected an Aston Villa side made up only of Englishmen. It has not happened since.
The four-time MLS Cup champion features the league's most talked-about signing, Charlie Davies, the U.S. forward who joined on loan in his attempt to come back from a horrific 2009 auto accident. United also has 17-year-old midfielder Andy Najar, the reigning Rookie of the Year, who has put some adult muscle on his wiry frame. What's more, the revamped roster includes a host of other new faces, from gritty midfielder Dax McCarty to touted rookie center back Perry Kitchen to seasoned veterans in goalkeeper Pat Onstad, midfielder Fred and forwards Josh Wolff and Joseph Ngwenya.
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, Dion Dublin rocks the Dube with Ocean Colour Scene, Orlando Pirates walk plank over a porridge attack, St Pauli call up their press officer for a Bundesliga match, Ronaldo wore nappies during the 1999 Copa America and the best/worst cheat you have ever seen.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
For nearly six years, Arsenal's manager has worked his way to the point where his team are strong on four fronts.
In terms of tactics, the most important factor in Tottenham Hotspur's victory over AC Milan last week was that its wide players were able to exploit the width left by Milan's narrowness. As a corollary to that, Spurs had the pace and energy to ensure that its numerical disadvantage in central areas didn't mean it had to cede control over possession. Milan's only three league defeats this season have come against sides who play with attacking width -- Cesena and Juventus -- and Roma, a team that usually deploys a 4-3-1-2, but deployed its trequartista, Jeremy Menes, in wide areas in that game.
0 - 0
Kevin McCarra at Stade Vélodrome
Heinze vilified by United fans
Daniel Taylor: Gibson no Scholes
Five Things We Learned
Inter Milan 0 - 1 Bayern Munich
Michael Da Silva at San Siro
Soccer-Europe's reports for all the Champions League action
Arsenal 1 - 0 Stoke City
at Emirates Stadium
at Emirates Stadium
3. Even the coolest coaches are prone to cracking under the tension
Pep Guardiola had erred in replacing David Villa with Seydou Keita and ceding the advantage at the Emirates last week, and his domestic rival Jose Mourinho showed he was not immune to feeling the pressure himself in the second wave of first leg matches.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
The Special One cried foul but didn't get it as his side drew in Lyon. Not a terrible result as they got an away goal (from former Lyon man Benzema) but Jose was perplexed as to how the refs didn't see an obvious hand ball in the area. Shit happens, Jose. Deal with it.
Over in Blackpool Tottenham crashed back to earth after their magnificent Milanese evening and lost 3-1 to Ian Holloway's troops. Spurs created plenty of chances but couldn't finish. It's got to be tough to go to San Siro and defeat AC Milan and then return to face Blackpool at Bloomfield Road. But they really should have done better.
Today Tottenham's North London neighbors entertain Stoke with the opportunity to come within a point of Manchester United in the Premier League, albeit with a game in hand. It will be the first time Arsenal have hosted Stoke since Shawcross broke Aaron Ramsey in half. The reception he receives from the Gunner faithful should be interesting. You'll need to bust out the computer to watch that one -- it's not on TV in the States. 3pm EST kick-off at the Emirates.
My favorite Argentine expert Marcela Mora y Araujo moves to Uruguay today for a look at Edinson Cavani. The Uruguayan striker has been rocking Serie A, and is a big reason Napoli are currently in second.
Diving master Carlos Ruiz will return to MLS with Philadelphia Union. Last seen in Turkey, the 31-year-old will hope his lying and cheating can bring some goals to Peter Nowak's team. Ruiz is currently the 10th all-time leading scorer in MLS history.
In Europe this afternoon Manchester United will continue their march for a treble in Marseille. That match kicks off at Stade Velodrome at 2:45pm EST and can be viewed on Fox Soccer Channel. The Independent has a nice piece on Marseille's tainted 1993 European Cup title. Yeah, I said "taint."
The other Champions League clash is a repeat of last year's final. Internazionale Milan host Bayern Munich. Things get started at 2:45pm EST and can be enjoyed thanks to Fox Soccer Plus.
Plus, Eric Cantona talks to the New York Times about the Cosmos and how Sir Alex Ferguson is like Gandhi and much more!!
Walter Smith is the phlegmatic type. Over a managerial career now into its third decade with Rangers, Everton and Scotland he has accepted his varied triumphs and disasters in a manner that would earn Kipling's approval.
But there is one impostor that bothers him still, some 18 years after the events of one roller-coaster season.
In 1993 Rangers came within one goal of a place in the first final of the Champions League, losing out to Marseilles after a controversial series of events.
Hand in hand with the resurging of Uruguay as a world force, Edinson's own flight has taken off. The young forward from Salto -- Uruguay's second biggest city with a population just short of 100,000 -- is currently setting Serie A on fire.
The euphoria of Tottenham’s midweek win against AC Milan last week was shared across the United Kingdom as Tottenham became only the third English team to beat AC at the San Siro. The Tottenham performance was the archetypal European away-leg performance. Neat and compact and with every player doing their job, they kept it simple and played on the counter, nullifying the Milan attack and finally getting the goal to take them back to White Hart Lane with a 1-0 win. It was a classic counter-attacking move.
Fast-forward to Bloomfield Road Tuesday night for Blackpool versus Tottenham.
The Philadelphia Union confirmed the signing of Guatemalan striker Carlos "El Pescadito" Ruiz on Tuesday. He joins the team after negotiating an early termination of his contract with Greek Superleague team Aris Salonika.
Appearing soon at an MLS venue near you...
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Elsewhere in the Champions League Real Madrid travel to Lyon. It's shocking but Madrid have not gotten past the last-16 since 2004. Sid Lowe has a nice column outlining the issues facing the Spanish giants. The match is also this afternoon and will be on your local Fox Sports Network.
Manchester United play Marseille tomorrow and Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand, Anderson, Johnny Evans and Michael Owen didn't make the trip to France due to injury. Is there really any point in listing Michael Owen when it comes to injuries? Does he not have emeritus status at this point?
Sad scenes in Greece where Djibril Cisse and some teammates were attacked on the pitch after their derby in Athens this weekend. Why does this happen? Perhaps because FIFA and UEFA are too weak to impose any real punishment when it comes to stadium violence and racism.
Elsewhere, Spurs face a tricky trip to the coast to face Blackpool in the day's Premier League match. A win for the London side would see them climb above Manchester City into third while a victory for the home side would enable them to leapfrog four clubs and ease some relegation worries. It should be an entertaining contest. You can view it at 3pm EST on Fox Soccer Plus.
Plus, Avi Creditor brings us up to date on Americans plying their trade around the world and much more!!
For the first time in La Liga's history a goalkeeper scored from open play – and possibly saved Deportivo's coach from the sack.
Goooooooool de Dani Aranzubia! Depor's keeper heads into history books.
Chelsea need fresh approach
Terry needs to motivate
FC Copenhagen's quick rise
Four key issues for Chelsea
Phil Thompson: Expect a draw
Lyon vs. Real Madrid
Sid Lowe: Can The Special One smash the barrier?
“He had pie and mash delivered from a lovely little shop in Waltham Abbey,” Redknapp said. “The foreign lads weren’t too sure. It’s only us cockneys who know what pie and mash is. I was brought up on it so when they came I had three.”
'Arry ad free pies, innit?
Gabriel Heinze had admitted his fall out with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is one of the biggest regrets of his career as he prepares to renew acquaintances with his former boss in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Of the field of 32 teams in South America's Copa Libertadores, only two have not yet been in action in the group phase - and the pair are among the most famous names in the competition's history.
Independiente of Argentina have a record seven titles to their name. Uruguay's Penarol are five times champions and were winners of the first version back in 1960. Neither club have lifted the trophy since 1987 but they have won nearly a quarter of all the Libertadores titles between them.
And they meet on Thursday.
Jamie Jackson at Upton Park
Quarterfinals of England's FA Cup to be played on March. 12-13
(home teams listed first):
Birmingham vs. Bolton
Manchester City/Aston Villa vs. Everton/Reading
Manchester United vs. Leyton Orient/Arsenal
Stoke vs. West Ham
The former Chelsea manager jumped before he was pushed after Roma's second cataclysmic capitulation in a week.
Where next for nomadic nearly man Claudio Ranieri?
Steve McClaren proves his management credentials in absentia.
There's a saying in Spanish football lore that goes, Entrenador nuevo, victoria segura (new coach, win guaranteed). Last week with Marcelino back at Santander, things changed for the better (and continued thus, with a 1-0 win away at Getafe), and this weekend saw Jose Luis Mendilibar take over the reins at Osasuna and then preside over a 4-0 home victory against Espanyol.
Monday, February 21, 2011
The likes of Gabriel Obertan, Bebe and Darron Gibson probably woke this morning with the temptation to pull themselves back under the duvet in a desperate attempt to banish the memory of Saturday’s embarrassingly narrow 1-0 FA Cup fifth round victory against the Sussex minnows.
Jonathan Bornstein has embarked on a new chapter in his career, becoming one of the few U.S. National Team players to play professionally in Mexico following time in Major League Soccer. After five seasons at Chivas USA and two starts in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the defender chose a change of football, culture and lifestyle when he joined Tigres in January. ussoccer.com spoke with Bornstein about his experiences in the land of the MNT’s biggest rival.
Leyton Orient earned a replay with Arsenal at Emirates Stadium, Everton beat Chelsea on penalties and Manchester United edged Crawley Town.
Chelsea 1 - 1 Everton (3-4)
Dominic Fifield at Stamford Bridge
Kevin Palmer at Stamford Bridge
Manchester United 1 - 0 Crawley Town
Phil McNulty at Old Trafford
Manchester City 5 - 0 Notts County
Daniel Taylor at Eastlands
Richard jolly at Eastlands
Leyton Orient 1 - 1 Arsenal
Paul Doyle at Brisbane Road
Chris Bevan at Brisbane Road
Orient players win Vegas trip
EPL: West Brom 1 - 1 Wolves
Kevin McCarra at the Hawthorns
Goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia was Deportivo La Coruna's hero as he scored a dramatic last-gasp equaliser to earn his side a point at second-bottom Almeria.
With his side trailing to Pablo Piatti's brilliant 48th-minute opener, Aranzubia ventured forward for a corner deep into injury-time and headed in a goal that helped Depor avoid what looked set to be a fourth defeat at the hands of Almeria this season.