Friday, March 25, 2011

Nani: I am not able to express myself

"It is not easy to show at United because Sir Alex does not allow very much freedom and I cannot do the tricks and things I did with my friends."

International Friendly Previews: USA vs. Argentina

The last time Bob Bradley's national team met Argentina in New Jersey (June 2008), it took a night of breathless, outstanding goalkeeping from Tim Howard to keep the Americans from being routed. Howard was just establishing himself as the nation's solid No. 1 keeper back then. So that part has changed, of course; his is the first name Bradley scribbles on the lineup card nowadays. But not much has changed around Argentina's flashy attack and the incomparable Lionel Messi. So Saturday's high-profile contest at the New Meadowlands Stadium represents the stiffest U.S. test since a 2-0 loss to Brazil at the same facility seven months ago.

Who should the USMNT start vs. Argentina?

Vecsey: A Glimpse Inside Bradley’s Construction of the National Team

"Double Deutsche'' fitting in well for U.S.

USA TV: ESPN2 at 7pm EDT

Friday MLS Forecast

Break out your roster cards. It's time to learn about a few unfamiliar faces.

International play has once again ravaged squads across the league as countries prepare for friendlies and qualifiers during this FIFA match day. The full slate of international matches will see reserves across the league thrust into the spotlight as starters at least for one weekend.

33 in Chicago?! Geez...

Euro 2012 Qualifying: Select Saturday Previews

Germany vs. Kazakhstan

Wales vs. England

Norway vs. Denmark

Ireland vs. Macedonia


Euro 2012 Qualifying: Friday Preview

Spain, Italy, France and the Netherlands all resume their bid to qualify for Euro 2012 when international football returns on Friday.

This many people will attend the Serbia/Northern Ireland match...

Friday's Matches:

Group A
Austria vs Belgium

Group C
Serbia vs Northern Ireland
Slovenia vs Italy

Group D
Luxembourg vs France

Group E
Hungary vs Netherlands

Group I
Spain vs Czech Republic

Phil Minshull: Are the bad days behind France?

France's World Cup campaign in South Africa last summer will go down as one of the most ill-fated of a major football nation but coach Laurent Blanc appears to have finally got his players and the French public to focus on the future rather than the past

The noises emanating from Les Bleus' training camp at Clairefontaine in the last few days have been positive ones. Harmony, at least on the surface and in public, has been restored. Pulling on a French jersey has become fun again rather than a chore, according to captain Alou Diarra.

Martin Tyler's Column

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.

Most goals from an American player in a single Premier League season:

Clint Dempsey (2010/11)

Brian McBride (2005/06)
Brian McBride (2006/07)

Clint Dempsey (2009/10)

Roy Wegerle (1993/94)
Joe-Max Moore (1999/00)
Brian McBride (2004/05)
Clint Dempsey (2008/09)
Clint Dempsey (2007/08)

Carlos Bocanegra (2006/07)

The Joy of Six: Title-race Turning Points

From joy and woe for Manchester United to meltdowns for Leeds and Ipswich, here are half a dozen of the most memorable.

Sam Kelly in Argentina

On Sunday, Velez Sarsfield were hosting San Lorenzo de Almagro. The two clubs aren't traditional rivals but have, over the last few years especially, had to contend with a very heated atmosphere whenever they've played. One San Lorenzo fan got into an altercation during a routine police security check (most accounts seem to agree on that) and then ... well, and then things get a bit murky. Buenos Aires' Federal Police spokesman, Nestor Rodriguez, told the press that "he sat down on the kerbside, suffered a cardiac arrest, and died".

The director of emergency services, meanwhile, told everyone that the dead man - a 36-year-old by the name of Ramon Aramayo - had suffered various bruises around the chest area. By the end of the day, a video was circulating on the websites of sports daily Olé and newspaper Clarín (both part of the same media group) of the police picking up and leading Aramayo - clearly still alive - away from the fans milling towards the stadium and, although the video cuts off before they go out of sight, apparently through the doorway of a warehouse or garage.

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, Gerald Asamoah's angry wife gets into catfight with two women he brought home, Bayern's stars express their dislike of the Europa League, Michael Ballack says sorry for his megaphone obscenities and thousands of inflatable sheep head to the Millennium Stadium.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Good Day!

We've made it to Thursday of the International Week, thank God. It's like the Bermuda Triangle when real football simply disappears. And we've already got some injuries and the matches have yet to be played.

El-Hadji Diouf does not ride his bike to work...

Gareth Bale has a hamstring problem and won't feature against England on Saturday. There's no word on the extent of the problem but with a hamstring it could basically be two weeks or forever. Elsewhere Greatest Striker Alive Nicky Bendtner screwed up his ankle training with his Danish brothers.

Thankfully there is some fairly interesting stuff out there to help us pass the time.

The Big Interview from The Guardian is Yank Abroad and only pilot in the English Premier League Marcus Hahnemann. I knew he was working on getting his license and is a big heavy metal fan, but I didn't know he rides his bike to training every day. That's way cooler than pulling up to the ground in a Range Rover with pink highlights.

Never one to shy from the spotlight, Chad Ochocinco is currently working out with FC Kansas City in a (soon to fail) attempt to join Major League Soccer. I can understand the benefits from Chad's point of view but if I'm the gaffer in KC there's no way I allow that sort of distraction.

In far sadder news, a Port Vale player claims he was on the receiving end of some racist vitriol from his own fans. There's video of the classy fans in question in the relevant post below.

Elsewhere today, we've got a look at the rapid decline of Joe Cole's fortunes, a look back to Brazil in 1982 and a look at Germany's new wave of young talent that is beginning to emerge. Oh, and Qatar says they'll develop some fake clouds to keep things cool at World Cup 2022. Nice try, but I'm still not going. Unless I get a free jetpack with my match ticket...


The Big Interview: Marcus Hahnemann

The Wolves goalkeeper – and Premier League's only pilot – tells how he leaves the worries of the pitch on the ground.

Hahnemann, like most goalkeepers, has always been regarded as a little eccentric. The former Reading keeper has a sizeable gun collection, listens to heavy metal, likes to go deer stalking near his old home in Berkshire, spends hours doing up the many cars he owns and, to the bemusement of his team-mates completes a 10-mile round trip into training on his mountain bike every day.

Yet even by Hahnemann's standards, flying a plane seems a little extreme.

Could he not have picked a safer hobby? "I don't think it's dangerous. It's definitely not as dangerous as those guys on the team driving their cars on the road," Hahnemann says.

Raphael Honigstein: Götze heads Germany's new wave

After signing a contract extension (until 2014) and tentatively solving the "Michael Ballack question" -- the Germany captain will have an unofficial farewell match against Brazil in August -- coach Jogi Löw has few problems left. The biggest one might be finding places for a wave of new, exciting prospects in the squad. Here's a projection of Germany's next top model professionals (under 22 years).

Ochocinco Begins his MLS Tryout

Locked out of his day job, Ochocinco opened a four-day tryout with Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday and by the end of his first day with the Major League Soccer team the star receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals was panting for breath.

The buys from Brazil: The new recruits from Manchester United's South American talent factory

The process is part of a painstaking two-and-a-half-year project by the Barclays Premier League leaders to develop their own talent in South America rather than splash out huge fees on the next generation of stars.

Confidentiality agreements prevent Desportivo Brasil from revealing which of their 100-plus teenagers have a pre-contract agreement with United, but Sportsmail has learned that the five players pictured at Old Trafford are called Gladstony, Aguilar, Lucas Evangelista, Agnaldo and Rafael Leao.

The five are now visiting Dutch champions Twente, who United plan to use as a holding club for the boys to gain European Union passports.

Port Vale's Exodus Geohaghon: Fans racially abused me - it made it worse that they were my own team's

Port Vale defender Exodus Geohaghon described his horror at being called a ‘n*****’ in a torrent of racial abuse from his own club’s fans.

The 26-year-old centre-back had to be dragged away from his tormentors, who screamed racist invective at him as he left the field at the end of Saturday’s defeat at Accrington Stanley.

An investigation has been launched by the club, the FA and PFA after a film on YouTube showed fans surge towards the dressing rooms and hurl insults at Geohaghon, in between calling for boss Jim Gannon’s head.

Golf course out of bounds as Capello lays down law with players

From their rooms in the Grove hotel outside Watford in the Hertfordshire countryside, Wayne Rooney, John Terry and Co were able to see the championship-standard course outside but that was as close as they got to playing on it.


Wales vs. England: Gareth Bale ruled out of Euro 2012 qualifying clash with hamstring injury

Wales will be without their biggest threat in their Euro 2012 qualifying match against England on Saturday after Tottenham midfielder Gareth Bale was ruled out of the match with a hamstring injury.

Jonathan Wilson: Serbia seek to polish their image

Scenes of violence mar the image of Serbian football but the manager, Vladimir Petrovic, is anxious to change that.

A better image for Serbian football...

Qatar hopes 'artificial clouds' at World Cup can ease heat concerns

Saud Abdul Ghani, the head of the mechanical and industrial engineering department, told Gulf News the "clouds" are made from a lightweight carbon structure carrying a giant envelope of material containing helium gas. Four solar powered engines move the structure via remote control.

Focus on Joe Cole

The journey from cause celebre to forgotten man took nine months. Last summer, as England exited the World Cup with a desperate lack of invention, Joe Cole assumed the role of the overlooked saviour. Now he is simply ignored: the right-footed, left-sided player called up by Fabio Capello these days is Matt Jarvis. One of the greatest talents of his generation has been displaced by a footballer discarded by Millwall and who spent four years languishing at Gillingham.

Tom Adams: Rewind to 1982

On Sunday, Scotland play Brazil in a friendly at Emirates Stadium. The two countries were involved in a memorable game at the 1982 World Cup, where Brazil set new aesthetic standards but ultimately failed to marry style with silverware as their challenge ended with a thrilling defeat to Italy.

So many great options for 1982 -- couldn't choose just one...

Ex-Manchester City youngster Etuhu jailed for eight months after drunken street brawl

Former Manchester City striker Kelvin Etuhu has been jailed for eight months for a drunken street brawl which left a man with a broken jaw.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Palermo: Boca has `hit rock bottom’

Boca Juniors veteran striker Martin Palermo says the Buenos Aires club—probably the biggest team in Argentine football—has “hit rock bottom” and is enduring it worst stretch since he joined the club in 1997.
Boca is lodged in 18th-place in the 20-team league, has only four points from six matches and has scored only two goals in the Clausura tournament.

Happier times: Palermo lifts the 2007 Copa Libertadores...

Tim Vickery: Argentina still searching for defensive answers under Batista

There is no place for Carlos Tevez or Sergio Aguero in the Argentina squad that coach Sergio Batista brings to New York for Saturday's friendly against the U.S.

Injury has kept Aguero out of some recent squads -- he has not played for his country since coming on as a substitute and scoring against Spain last September. But he is currently fit. Tevez has picked up a minor injury, but only after the squad was called up. The official line, it seems, is that he is being punished for pulling out of the squad to face Brazil last November, only to play for Manchester City a few days later.

Argentina Roster:

Goalkeepers: Mariano Andujar (Catania), Adrian Gabbarini (Independiente, Argentina), Sergio Romero (AZ Alkmaar).

Defenders: Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Ezequiel Garay (Real Madrid), Gabriel Milito (Barcelona), Nicolas Otamendi (F.C. Porto), Federico Fazio (Sevilla), Nicolas Burdisso (Roma), Marcos Rojo (Spartak Moscow).

Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Mario Bolatti (Internacional, Brazil), Ever Banega (Valencia), Fernando Belluschi (F.C. Porto), Esteban Cambiasso (Inter Milan), Lucas Biglia (Anderlecht), Javier Pastore (Palermo).

Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli), Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid), Nicolas Gaitan (Benfica), Jose Sosa (Napoli), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica).

James Lawton: Bitter battle for control of body that's sold its soul

Who is the emerging champion of a new order where football's interests are top of the agenda? The fixer who masterminded the biggest outrage in World Cup history.

Fifa fears match-fixing in international football may already have reached epidemic proportions

Fifa officials investigating alleged match-fixing in recent friendly internationals held in Bahrain and Antalya, Turkey, believe the games may be “the tip of an iceberg” of corruption, sources close to the inquiry have told Telegraph Sport.

Wales vs. England: Gary Speed wants Welsh players on song for national anthem

Gary Speed has ordered his players to learn the Welsh national anthem ahead of Saturday's European Championship qualifier against England at the Millennium Stadium. The new Wales manager has recruited Courtenay Hamilton, the classically trained opera singer and current Miss Wales, to inspire his players.

Miss Wales...

The Only Gay in the Village...

European Football Weekends: Partizan Belgrade vs. Red Star Belgrade

Forty-eight hours after discovering Manchester's two sides would meet in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, United fan Nick Coppack flew to Serbia to witness a truly explosive derby...

Focus on Turkey

Bernd Schuster, a man who has become known as the 'Blond Angel' during his career, may sound like a superhero-in-waiting, but proved to be as brittle as the rest of us when he chose to jump before he was pushed last week at Besiktas. The man brought to Turkey on a wave of expectation to replace Mustafa Denizli on a two-year contract worth €5.2 million resigned having won just one of his last seven games, maintaining that he did not want to "waste the resources" of the highly ambitious club.

Zenit investigating Roberto Carlos racism claim

Zenit St Petersburg have launched an investigation into an alleged incident of racist abuse involving former Brazil international Roberto Carlos.

Carlos, 37, now plies his trade for Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala and was apparently taunted by Zenit fans prior to his side's 2-0 defeat to the reigning Premier Liga champions on Monday.

A photograph has since emerged of a supporter appearing to wave a banana in the direction of the former Real Madrid star as the two teams entered the field.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mud flies as battle for Fifa control turns ugly

As Mohamed Bin Hammam last night began his attempts to win over vital European support for his bid to oust Sepp Blatter as the president of Fifa, a former colleague of the Qatari claimed that football's governing body would be "doomed" if he won.

Bin Hammam, who played a key role in Qatar's shock success in winning the right to host the 2022 World Cup finals, is labelled an "autocrat" who will attempt to "buy up" support in a stinging attack by a long-term ally of Blatter, signalling the start of what is set to be a bitterly contested campaign to lead Fifa.

Steve Davis on MLS

Know your Major League Soccer --

Five things you should know about Week 1:

Americans Abroad

With about 15 minutes remaining in Bolton's 1-0 loss to Manchester United on Saturday, Holden and Jonny Evans both went for a loose ball, sliding to the ground at the same moment. Holden's upper leg and Evans' studs clashed in a gruesome meeting.

The result for Evans was a straight red card. The result for Holden was a gash above his left knee that required 26 stitches and a further undisclosed diagnosis (along with surgery) that will reportedly keep Holden on the sidelines for the next six months.

The Rest

Sid Lowe in Spain + La Liga Table

Until recently, Real Madrid's French forward has been little more than a purring political pawn. Not any more.

José Mourinho unleashes his kitten of war: Karim Benzema

Real Madrid2923424873
R Sociedad2911216-935
R Zaragoza297913-1230

Raphael Honigstein in Germany + Bundesliga Table

A controversial equaliser has opened up the possibility of Dortmund being caught by Bayer Leverkusen.

Mainz's kick in the nether regions leaves Dortmund looking exposed.

Hannover 96271629350
Hamburg SV2712411-140
SC Freiburg2711412-437
Schalke 04279612-233
St Pauli278415-1828

Paolo Bandini in Italy + Serie A Table

The Rossoneri's defeat at Palermo means it isn't just a city battle for the title: Napoli and Udinese are still in the hunt too.

Milan derby looms large in four-horse race for the scudetto.

AS Roma301488650

Szczesny Ridicules Arsenal Colleagues

Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny has joked he would rather play behind 48-year-old youth team coach Steve Bould than any of the club's current defenders. Speaking at a fans' forum Szczesny also suggested that Bould, who retired 11 years ago due to arthritis, could reform his partnership with Tony Adams. Szczesny, 20, also branded striker Nicklas Bendtner "arrogant" and fellow goalkeeper Jens Lehmann "a nutcase".

Better than the current lot...?

Manchester United's owners the Glazer family report heavy loss last year

Manchester United's owners made a £108.9 million loss last year, according to their accounts.

The loss by Red Football Joint Venture, the Glazer family's parent company that owns United, include some one-off costs from setting up the £526m bond scheme last year to replace their bank loans, according to accounts filed at Companies House.

Tim Vickery in South America

When Roma signed Brazilian striker Adriano last year, the club directors may as well have lit their cigars with high denomination banknotes or poured their money down a rathole. They were quite happy to tear up his contract earlier this month and received no money in return.

This, though, is not the story of a player unable to adapt to life in a foreign country.

For a good five years, Adriano was a top-class striker in Italian football, a giant centre forward with a howitzer left foot that was also capable of surprising subtlety. And yet, at 29 and theoretically at his peak, he seems unlikely to play in Europe again. Only a very brave or foolhardy European club would give yet another chance to a player who has been wasting them for the last five years.

Adriano is an extreme example of one of the striking features of contemporary football - inconsistency at the top level of the game.

Phil Ball in Spain

It's always nice to have an away day, on a sunny Spanish Sunday afternoon. Having travelled down to Madrid last month to watch Real Sociedad in the 'Bernabow', I made the shorter trip across the northern Spanish rooftop to Santander on Sunday, driving through the chilly green of a Cantabrian spring. The drive from one chic resort (San Sebastian) to another seaside city takes less than two hours now, although the annoying reduction in the speed limit, recently imposed by the Spanish government to 'save energy' (ahem), meant it was a bit of a crawl. I don't wish to seem irresponsible, but all the Spanish do is drive faster between the radars. In fact, the act of slowing down for the radars and the subsequent acceleration immediately afterwards surely uses more fuel than before, but I'm only complaining because the slow drive back meant that this column was written very late on Sunday night.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Henry Winter: Football must learn the true meaning of the word respect

One of the most telling images of another sulphurous season materialised when referee Lee Probert ran his finger very deliberately across the word RESPECT on Carlos Tévez’s armband.

Monday MLS Breakdown

Coaches toss and turn for hours after nights like these.

By most accounts, Los Angeles entered Sunday night's 1-1 draw with New England as the clear favorite to secure all three points and performed well enough to procure them. A set of unusual circumstances intervened to throw those plans off course and condemn the Galaxy to a night of post-match reflection.

The peculiar confluence of factors on this particular evening included:

England: Premier League Weekend Review, Reports & Analyses

Manchester United left it late against Bolton and extended their lead at the summit after Arsenal slipped up at West Brom, with the Gunners eventually grateful for a point at the Hawthorns. There was movement at the other end as Aston Villa fans expressed their frustration following a 1-0 home defeat to Wolves, as rock-bottom Wigan earned a last-gasp victory over fellow strugglers Birmingham. Chelsea overcame Manchester City at Stamford Bridge while there were other wins for Liverpool, Everton and Stoke.


West Brom 2 - 2 Arsenal
Joe Lovejoy at The Hawthorns

Manchester United 1 - 0 Bolton
Daniel Taylor at Old Trafford

Chelsea 2 - 0 Manchester City
Kevin McCarra at Stamford Bridge

Five Things We Learned I
Five Things We Learned II

Best and Worst of the Weekend

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo could miss Spurs game with injury

Cristiano Ronaldo could be out of action for up to three weeks, due to a hamstring injury. He will struggle to be fit for the first leg of Real Madrid's Champions League quarter-final against Tottenham Hotspur, on 5 April.

Rioting fans cause top-division match in Argentina to be abandoned

Rioting fans caused an Argentinian Primera División match between Vélez Sársfield and San Lorenzo to be abandoned on Sunday amid reports that a fan had died in clashes outside the stadium before the match.

The match at the Estadio José Amalfitani in Buenos Aires was halted when visiting San Lorenzo fans broke down the fencing around the pitch and the Vélez goalkeeper was hit by a missile thrown from the crowd.

The wife of San Lorenzo fan Ramón Aramayo, who died yesterday before the game against Velez Sarsfield, has placed the blame for her husband's death firmly on the police.

Hysen stands tall in 'man's game'

Gothenburg is a perfect backdrop to this story. It's stolid, self-confident, quiet and handsome - rather like the inhabitants.

But don't imagine that Gothenburg is dull. Because Sweden's second city harbours a global one-off.

One of its professional footballers is openly gay.

His sexuality should not, Anton, asserts be "a big thing". But it is. The reason is that of all the professional footballers playing among Uefa's member associations - let alone those playing in other countries around the world - there appears to be no other avowedly gay player.

The Fifth Official

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.

U.S. International Holden Out For Six Months

Bolton Wanderers midfielder Stuart Holden has been ruled out for six months as a result of the injury he sustained in a challenge on Saturday. Holden was rushed to hospital following a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United as a tackle from Jonny Evans, which drew a red card, left him with a nasty gash on his right knee.