Friday, March 18, 2011
In other news today, Major League Soccer returns for real with a full slate of matches after the Sounders/Galaxy game that got things started earlier this week. As our MLS Expert Bobbie BS has justifiably complained, the expansion of the playoffs has done little to provide excitement about the regular season at SSN Headquarters.
Super is back in the news today for two reasons. The former is a wonderful video of him trying to dress himself and the latter is the red card he got to help his Manchester City side crash out of the Europa League. Liverpool are also out after Andy Carroll and his mates failed ot find the back of the net against Braga. My money is on either Villarreal or Porto for UEFA's second-tier competition. In Spain this weekend we've got the Madrid Derby, The Joy of Six is Goalkeeping Howlers, Dominic Raynor's Off The Ball features a hilarious stunt prior to the Bari/AC Milan match and much more!!
Norwich City, Swansea City, Cardiff City, Leeds United and Nottingham Forest are all in the hunt and Burnley could throw themselves into the mix too if they win their game in hand.
AC Milan travel to face out-of-form Palermo at La Favorita this weekend defending a five-point lead over Inter Milan at the summit after 29 games. Inter host relegation-threatened Lecce on Sunday looking to make it nine league wins in a row at the San Siro. Napoli will try to consolidate third position in the standings when they take on Cagliari in Naples. The Azzurri are three points clear of in-form Udinese after last weekend's 3-1 triumph at Parma. A win at Fiorentina on Sunday could see sixth-placed Roma leapfrog Lazio in the standings, while Juventus will be out to end a five-match unbeaten run when they host Brescia in Turin.
Tottenham Hotspur's first-team coach, Joe Jordan, has also been handed a one-match suspension for incidents in the match at Milan. Jordan clashed with Gennaro Gattuso, who was given a four-match ban for head-butting him.
All three remaining British teams crashed out of the Europa League as Liverpool and Manchester City failed to overturn first-leg deficits and Rangers were beaten by PSV Eindhoven.
Liverpool 0 - 0 Braga (agg. 0 - 1)
Paul Wilson at Anfield
Manchester City 1 - 0 Dynamo Kiev (agg. 1 - 2)
Richard Jolly at Eastlands
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, AC Milan manimal Gennaro Gattuso swaps fighting for dancing, Argentinian model Milena Hot gets naked for the All Boys, Spurs' shirts go space-age, Bayern coach Louis van Gaal pretends to be a journalist and Ronaldinho shows he has still got it.
Real Madrid (Spain) v Tottenham Hotspur (England)
Chelsea (England) v Manchester United (England)
Barcelona (Spain) v Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine)
Inter Milan (Italy) v Schalke 04 (Germany)
Champions League Draw - Semi-finals
Inter/Schalke v Chelsea/Man Utd
Real Madrid/Tottenham v Barcelona/Shakhtar
Quarter-finals: April 5, 6 and 12, 13
Semi-finals: April 26, 27 and May 3, 4
Final: (Wembley): May 28
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey head a 24-man roster as the United States brings in most of its top players for exhibition games against Argentina and Paraguay.
Players will start gathering Sunday in Cary, N.C., for training. The U.S. plays Argentina on March 26 in East Rutherford, N.J., and Paraguay three days later in Nashville, Tenn.
Goal of the roundMarcelo
The Real Madrid full-back got the ball rolling for his side against Lyon on Wednesday night in Spain, assuring Los Blancos' hoodoo in the last 16 came to an end. Marcelo played a neat one-two with Cristiano Ronaldo midway through the Lyon half and then glided through the opposition defence before getting his shot off under real pressure. Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris got a hand to it but could not prevent it finding the back of the net. A great solo effort which lifted the roof off the Bernabeu and sent Madrid on the way to a fine victory. There were a number of top goals in the second-leg ties, with Shakhtar Donetsk's Willian and Lionel Messi also catching the eye with superb efforts.
Real Madrid 3 - 0 Lyon
(agg. 4 - 1)
Sid Lowe at the Bernabéu
Chelsea 0 - 0 FC Copenhagon (agg. 2 - 0)
Kevin McCarra at Stamford Bridge
Mark Lomas at Stamford Bridge
Inter's players – especially Júlio César and Goran Pandev – made a lot of mistakes against Bayern Munich but are still the toast of Gazzetta, La Repubblica and Co.
Italian press hail César and Pandev after Inter's night of redemptions.
Fulham's chairman, Mohamed Al Fayed, will unveil a commemorative statue of Michael Jackson at Craven Cottage at 12pm on 3 April to honour the friendship he shared with the legendary singer.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
It didn't matter. The Galaxy won their fifth straight match with Seattle in MLS play.
- Sir Alex on Rafael's sending off against Bayern Munich as United crashed out of the Champions League last season
"When an Italian says it's pasta I check under the sauce to make sure. They are innovators of the smokescreen."
- Sir Alex on the Italians
"If he was an inch taller he'd be the best centre half in Britain. His father is 6ft 2in - I'd check the milkman."
- The United boss on Gary Neville
"I'm no f****** talking to you. He's a f****** great player. Yous are f******* idiots."
- Ferguson on the media after he was criticised for signing Juan Sebastien Veron
2 - 1
Marseille (agg. 2 - 1)
Kevin McCarra at Old Trafford
Richard Jolly at Old Trafford
Daniel Taylor at Old Trafford
Phil McNulty at Old Trafford
Paul Wilson at Old Trafford
Bayern Munich 2 - 3 Inter Milan (agg. 3 - 3)
Sir Alex Ferguson has been banned from the touchline for Manchester United's next five matches and will have to watch the FA Cup semi-final from the stands after being found guilty of improper conduct at a Football Association hearing.
Marcel Theroux goes in search of the rebel spirit of Hamburg's St Pauli football club, and finds fans fighting for the club's soul.
Sunderland's Lee Cattermole has had his ban from every pub and club in the North East region of Stockton extended for a year after he attempted to get back into some of the premises.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
vs. Marseille (agg. 0 - 0)
United wary of away goal
United will go through
United can still fight on three fronts
Bayern Munich vs. Inter Milan (agg. 1 - 0)
It is just short of 16 years since Clarence Seedorf got his hands on the Champions League trophy for the first time, part of a youthful Ajax side that seemingly had Europe at its feet for many seasons to come.
As we now know, things did not quite turn out that way.
Nikezic also claims that, on March 7, the club manager invited him to the team's training base, where he once again proposed the player break his contract.
"After my refusal two strongmen came into the room and started to beat me badly, threatening me with maiming and demanding that I sign some papers," Nikezic said.
"It lasted for about 20 minutes. After that I felt myself completely exhausted and signed the papers."
Sven Goran Eriksson and Fabio Capello should really be proud of themselves. Before anyone with a short memory wonders what's wrong with the opening sentence, let's get this right: as the only managers to lead a side from Rome to a Scudetto in modern times, they achieved an almost impossible goal.
U.S. U-20 forward Conor Doyle earned a start for Derby County on Tuesday -- his first appearance in 10 matches -- and then came off the bench on Saturday to deliver an assist on the eventual game-winning goal off a corner kick.
A step down in League One, Mike Grella scored his first goal since being loaned to Swindon Town from Leeds, and Plymouth Argyle's Anton Peterlin made his first appearance since November in a rare start against Hartlepool United.
Bayern, Hamburg, S04, Wolfsburg in running for most chaotic club award.
Roma win and Totti marks an anniversary – but is Lazio's season over?
Barça dropped two points in Seville as a result of Frederic Kanouté's brilliance but Real Madrid fans should not get too excited yet.
Barcelona's blip means La Liga title race is back on. Just.
Monday, March 14, 2011
1. Fire management finds out that selling tickets on Groupon doesn't actually land you loyal fans.
2. Nobody starts trying until August.
3. Some new team enters the league and immediately claims to have the best fans in MLS and at the end of year will claim to have enjoyed the most successful inaugural season in the history of sports.
4. Toronto fans go ballistic when the team starts out mediocre and trash the stadium at least once.
5. Bruce Arena is still a fat prick.
6. NJ Sodapop talks to whatever young player is lighting up the league about how much more money they'll make in the NY media market and then tries to trade a bag of beans for him.
7. The Fire sign one washed up Mexican and/or Polish star in August to try to put some butts in the seats, and one former player from the El Salvadoran National Team who can't crack the bench.
8. Fire miss the playoffs after failing to win a single home game all year but Technical Director Frankie Klopas says he's satisfied with the progress of the team and Carlos De Los Cobos keeps his job.
9. A bunch of teams play in various CONCACAF cups and nobody cares.
10. As always I predict that a team with a losing record enters the playoffs in the wrong division as a 5 seed, gets hot and plays in the MLS Cup final.
Marseille rocked by striker arrest and manager row ahead of Manchester United Champions League showdown
Manchester United's Champions League hopes could be helped by a bitter rift in their opponents camp.
Old Trafford plays host to Marseille on Tuesday night, with the tie delicately poised at 0-0 after the first leg.
However since the sides met on the Mediterranean coast, the defending French champions have been rocked by the arrest of star striker Brandao and a subsequent disagreement between boss Didier Deschamps and president Jean-Claude Dassier.
Alan Hansen and Emmanuel Petit have highlighted Arsenal's paucity of leaders and winners. Telegraph Sport looks at six of the men who inspired Arsenal in their most successful period.
Kevin McCarra at Old Trafford
Phil McNulty at Old Trafford
Paul Hayward at Old Trafford
Jim White: Arsenal bow to inevitable
Peter Fraser: Pride before the fall?
Alan Hansen: Arsenal desperate for a leader
Birmingham City 2 - 3 Bolton
David Lacey at St. Andrew's
Stoke 2 - 1 West Ham
Chris Bevan at Britannia Stadium
Stuart James at Britannia Stadium
Manchester City 1 - 0 Reading
Richard Jolly at Eastlands
Phil McNulty at Eastlands
Daniel Taylor at the City of Manchester Stadium
FA Cup Semi-final Draw:
Manchester City vs. Manchester United
Bolton Wanderers v Stoke City
Ties to be played at Wembley on 16 and 17 April
Sick chants, three arrests and four red cards ruin FA Youth Cup clash between Liverpool and Manchester United
The bitter rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United marred an FA Youth Cup game at Anfield when away supporters chanted songs about the Hillsborough and Heysel disasters.
There were three arrests for drunkenness and six United supporters were ejected in a chaotic quarter-final.
In many respects an interview is not unlike an internet date. You read about the person you're going to meet, and form some advance impressions – but everything still rests on those first few minutes in each other's company, when you find out if you're going to connect.
If this interview really had been a date, I think I might have made my excuses and slipped away quite quickly. Gary Lineker is every bit as handsome as you'd expect – and friendly, in a polite sort of way, with a smooth and winning smile. But you'd be tempted to suspect that he'd been put up to the meeting by a mate, for beneath the smile he wears the unmistakable expression of someone who is only here on sufferance, willing to do whatever necessary to meet his obligations, but no more than that.
Few of us like Monday 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 a week brimming with potential victims.
Tasty, yes, but you can't really cut anything with it...