Friday, March 11, 2011
Shevchenko (remember him?) scored for Dynamo Kiev against City but the result was overshadowed by Mario Balotelli having to come off due to an allergic reaction.
It turns out the guy is allergic to some types of grass. No kidding! Man City paid $38 million bucks for a guy who is allergic to grass. You can't make this shit up.
Also today is a pretty cool animated piece looking back at Gareth Bale's demolition of Inter Milan. You can find it below in Dominic Raynor's Off The Ball column.
Tomorrow brings yet another installment in the Manchester United (Sir Alex) vs. Arsenal (The Professor) rivalry. Since 1996 there have been some great moments and even better quotes. This time out the clubs are attempting to reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup. Judging by the other teams left in the competition you'd have to assume the winner of this tie will go all the way, but as the Carling Cup showed us recently, assumptions are just that. Tomorrow's match takes place at Old Trafford and will be televised live on Fox Soccer Channel at 12:15pm EST.
We've also got a nice piece on the first competitive international match ever played on Palestinian soil.
Have a great weekend.
Manchester United vs. Arsenal
Jim White: Watershed moment for Wenger's philosophy
Birmingham vs. Bolton
Sir Alex Ferguson bristles at the notion of Arsene Wenger, newly arrived at Arsenal, as a cerebral ‘professor’ of football. “They say he’s an intelligent man, right? Speaks five languages,” says Ferguson. “I’ve got a 15-year-old boy from the Ivory Coast who speaks five languages.”
Phil Ball's Quiniela
Guillem Balague's Column
AC Milan are riding a four-match winning streak in Italy as they go into their home match with bottom side Bari. Allegri's men are five points clear of second-place Inter Milan.
City rivals Inter, the only Italian team still alive in European competition, will take on Bayern Munich in Germany next week. Before that, Leonardo's men will look to keep up their impressive league form with victory at Brescia on Friday.
Inter have won seven of their last eight league games.
Mario Balotelli grass allergy caps bad night for Manchester City against Dynamo Kiev in Europa League
Balotelli, 20, eventually came off in the 57th minute last night, after being over a minute late coming out for the second half, with City losing 2-0 in this last-16 first leg game.
He appeared in some distress and was constantly rubbing his face before being replaced by Carlos Tevez.
It is understood 20-year-old Balotelli is allergic to certain types of grass.
Is this a joke?
Forty-nine years after the Palestinian FA's formation and 13 since it was formally recognised by Fifa, this game was the first competitive international match ever played on Palestinian soil. Before the kickoff the players knelt and kissed the pitch, venerating the soil on which they were finally allowed to play.
Politics and funding rows have put Romania's showcase stadium for next year's showpiece final under threat.
Romania's stadium for next year's Europa League final is in trouble.
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, the FFF suspended a village club president after a comical bid for Lionel Messi, Atletico's "not a single ball to the blonde" campaign, a 13-year-old fan takes Reading to court for selling his favourite player and footballers are scientific geniuses.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
The former Inter Milan star has been linked with a move to Newcastle and Tottenham Hotspur.
Those sounds you hear are sighs of relief from Newcastle and Spurs fans...
No police charges for Chelsea's Ashley Cole after shooting work placement student Tom Cowan with air gun
Chelsea full-back Ashley Cole will escape prosecution for shooting a work placement student with an air gun at the club's training ground.
JP Dellacamera is moving from ESPN to Fox Soccer Channel to become play-by-play man for its Major League Soccer telecasts.
Dellacamera will work FSC’s 14 Friday night telecasts, which are exclusive to the network. He had been paired with John Harkes for U.S. national team broadcasts on ESPN and worked the World Cup on ESPN Radio. He also is entering his second season as a broadcaster for the Philadelphia Union.
Arsene Wenger told Pep Guardiola to congratulate Massimo Busacca, but the Barcelona coach was more interested in congratulating his players. The Swiss referee might have been important during Barcelona's 3-1 victory against Arsenal in a Champions League match Tuesday at the Camp Nou. He might even have been decisive. But Guardiola preferred to believe it was his players who were the difference. The trouble is, on their own, they might not have been. With Busacca, they won the match, eliminated Arsenal and advanced to the quarterfinals; without him, we will never know if they would have done so. The doubts will not go away. Nor will the anger and the accusations.
In truth, they were all just people wearing Ronaldinho masks, one of the big hits of this year's festivities. But the real thing has been just as omnipresent, making up in 2011 for all those carnivals he missed while he was freezing on the other side of the Atlantic. Ronaldinho has been seen at carnival balls and taken part in the giant samba parade and in street processions. Rio de Janeiro has quickly taken him to its heart -- or certainly the fans of Flamengo have.
0 - 0
AC Milan (agg. 1 - 0)
Kevin Palmer at White Hart Lane
Kevin McCarra at White Hart Lane
Phil McNulty at White Hart Lane
Richard Williams at White Hart Lane
Duncan White: End of the road for Milan vets
Italian Press Reaction
Schalke 04 3 - 1 Valencia (agg. 4 - 2)
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
The Americans open Group C play against Canada on June 7 at Detroit, play Panama four days later at Tampa, Fla., and close the first round against Guadeloupe on June 14 at Kansas City, Kan.
They are only making a rod for their own backs according to Martin Samuel...
Stop the violence or kiss football goodbye
The head of the referees' union says officials could quit if the level of criticism directed at them continues
Refs' union warns officials could quit
Man Utd's David Gill says the FA should not handle discipline
Gill blasts the FA
Not only did Spurs and Schalke enjoy successful first legs, both are banking on attacking football being their best route into the quarter finals. Schalke will be hoping Raul can score again against his compatriots, while Tottenham will be welcoming back Flamini to London with open arms.
Tottenham Hotspur v AC Milan: match preview
Back in the rhythm: Robinho wakes up from City nightmare
Raul hopes European love affair continues
It'd be ludicrous to claim Barca didn't deserve to progress to the CL quarter finals. Even after the first leg there was a sense of history being written by the victors, as the Catalans could have been three up by half time in London. That said, those claiming van Persie's dismissal last night made little difference aren't really talking much sense. Had Arsenal received a red card after an hour in the first leg Barca would probably have gone on to win easily, and commentators would have been saying the same. But Arsenal didn't, and managed to turn the game round. Would they have done so again with 11 players on the field yesterday? Probably not. But the chance towards the end of the game showed that at 3-1 Barca were still at risk. And even Bentner's own mother would admit the odds of taking such a chance would have been much higher had van Persie been on the pitch rather than her son.
The game highlighted not only that the belief Arsenal and Barca play the same style of play has been exaggerated, but also the change in Arsenal's style over the past few years. Barca pin opponents in their own half, denying time and space by hunting in packs. This enables them to dominate play, but can leave them open to a quick counter attack, as Arshavin's goal in the first leg showed. The Arsenal of Pires, Henry and Vieira, with their quick transfer from defence to attack through one-twos, might have opened Barca up. But the Arsenal players of today like Rosicky, Diaby and Nasri love having the ball at the feet. This form of possession football brings its own advantages, but ultimately played right into the hands of Messi and co.
Gunners cling to excuse after new humbling by Barcelona
Cesc Fabregas inhibited as his return to the Nou Camp ends in disappointment
How the players rated
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
(agg. 1 - 2)
van Persie decision to come prior to kick-off
Alan Smith's Three Key Clashes
Phil Thompson's Preview
Paul Hayward: Arsenal's Ultimate Test
Martin Samuel: Jack Can Make Pep Pay
Nasri Primed For Ultimate Test
Camp Nou: The Vatican of Football
Four Managers: How Arsenal Can Win
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Roma (agg. 3 - 2)
The U.S. has cranked out its fair share of panic-attack-quelling goalkeepers, but this season has really showcased the creativity that American soccer players possess. On Saturday it was Fulham's Clint Dempsey and Bolton's Stuart Holden once again providing the spark in the attack, helping their squads nab big wins in the Premier League.
Freddy Adu played 90 minutes for Rizespor over the weekend, scoring a cracker of a goal to propel his side to victory and second place in the league.
In the 32nd minute, Adu received a pass from a teammate at the right edge of the opposition area, turning with one touch to escape his defender and fizzing a curled shot just inside the far post past the outstretched goalkeeper.
Adu and his teammates celebrated the victory, which took them just one point off the leaders in the Turkish Bank Asya 1. League.
Ten months after guiding Sampdoria to a top-four finish the future looks grim for both Gigi Del Neri and his old club.
Gigi Del Neri on brink at Juventus as 'broken' Sampdoria tumble again.
Struggling Bundesliga champions appear to be stuck with an arrogant and stubborn manager no one wants.
Bayern Munich 'keep calm and carry on' with lame duck Louis van Gaal.
Borussia Monchengladbach have quoted Aston Villa £4.8million for their midfielder Michael Bradley. The USA international is on loan at Villa Park but has played just twice for Gerard Houllier's men.
There are clear similarities, not all of them complementary.
Luiz, already in Portugal with Benfica, first appeared on the radar screen of the average Brazilian fan during a disastrous World Youth Cup campaign in Canada in 2007, mixing up some slipshod defending with disciplinary problems. It was all slightly reminiscent of Lucio's introduction to the great Brazilian public at the 2000 Olympics.
Henry Winter: Mark Clattenburg takes a month off as furious referees submit five-point plan to save game
Some of the criticism levelled at referees is legitimate but most is excessive in a sport that has become so high speed and so high profile in a country so quick to apportion blame. Managers, players and pundits make far more mistakes than referees yet are rarely subjected to the same brutal, forensic scrutiny.
Blackpool 1 - 3 Chelsea
Richard Jolly at Bloomfield Road
Paul Wilson at Bloomfield Road
It's been a tireless week of football, with a full midweek programme having been played, and two of the three Spanish sides (Valencia and Barcelona) playing for their lives in the Champions League this coming week. The sofa is likely to stay warm. Besides, there has been incident a-plenty occurring off-stage too, which I'll try to shed some light on during proceedings.
Monday, March 07, 2011
Of course, Arsenal have their own injury issues and looked uninspired and limp without Cesc and Van Persie in their nil-nil draw with Sunderland. Over in West London Petr Cech reckons Chelsea can still win the league. They'll begin that journey tonight at Blackpool. I won't count anyone out at this point -- it's been such an odd season. Usually at this point one or more clubs will get in gear and make a march for the title. Not this year. It's more like a stumble to the finish line. The rigors of World Cup 2010 are certainly an influence.
The other big news of the weekend came from the brilliant minds at FIFA. No more snoods. I can just imagine all those clowns in a room debating the merits and dangers of a neck-warmer. Some things are simply too important not to address, I suppose. Unlike the white elephants left to South Africa and FIFA's $631 million profit over the last four years. FIFA are like SPECTRE. Where is James Bond when you need him?
Elsewhere today we've got a nice tribute to fat strikers (Neil Shipperley, anyone?), Martin Samuel on Kolo Toure and a look at the designs for Siena's new stadium. Mrs. SSN and I had the privilege of enjoying a raucous Siena/Roma match a few years back, and although the present ground is a fantastic little stadium right in town, the idea for the new place looks pretty cool. And that's pretty cool.
In this era of sport science and controlled diets you might think that, without some washboard abs, you'd never make it as a footballer. So here's a (snugly) fitting tribute to some of the burlier, bulkier blokes who still terrorise defences.
That's how you score, lads! Arsenal's Wilshere, Nasri, Clichy and Fabregas watch New Jersey edge out Toronto at O2 Arena
Chelsea's Peter Cech also took in the spectacle in London with his side not due to play until Monday when they visit Blackpool.
Wenger explained Toure's A sample by claiming the defender had merely taken slimming pills belonging to his wife, while Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini went so far as to dedicate Saturday's win over Wigan Athletic to the former club captain, describing him as a fantastic man and a serious professional.
He may be both. Equally, he may be a rotten drug cheat.
As Siena sit in position for promotion back up to Serie A, preparations are being made to ensure they play future matches below ground level. The unusual design for the club's new stadium kind of looks like an in-ground swimming pool and is the winner of the prestigious 2011 Architectural Review Future Projects award.
Another masterpiece from Jamie Carragher...
Liverpool 3 - 1 Manchester United
Richard Jolly at Anfield
Kevin McCarra at Anfield
Henry Winter at Anfield
Richard Williams at Anfield
Phil McNulty at Anfield
Five Things We Learned
Arsenal 0 - 0 Sunderland
Dominic Fifield at the Emirates Stadium
Fulham 3 - 2 Blackburn
James Callow at Craven Cottage
Wolverhampton 3 - 3 Tottenham
Stuart James at Molineux
Five Things We Learned