Friday, March 25, 2011
Ives: 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
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...
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...
Austria vs Belgium
Serbia vs Northern Ireland
Slovenia vs Italy
Luxembourg vs France
Hungary vs Netherlands
Spain vs Czech Republic
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.
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 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.
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
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...
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.
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).
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
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.
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 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.
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...
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.
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.
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...
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
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...
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.
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).
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 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.
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.
The Only Gay in the Village...
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...
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.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Better than the current lot...?
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.
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.
Monday, March 21, 2011
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.
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:
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
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.
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.
But don't imagine that Gothenburg is dull. Because Sweden's second city harbours a global one-off.
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.