Friday, April 29, 2011

The Special 1 TV: A Right Rooney Royal Wedding

Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview & Eduardo Alvarez's Quiniela

While Barcelona and Real Madrid's first-choice players prepare for Tuesday's Champions League semi-final second leg, the 'reserves' are likely to be in action in La Liga this weekend. The world's two richest clubs are scrapping it out in glorious isolation at the top of the table, Barca eight points clear of second-placed Real with five matches left. Valencia are a distant 25 points off the pace in third. Barca can take a step closer to their third consecutive league crown with a win at free-falling Real Sociedad on Saturday, the visitors boosted by Wednesday's 2-0 first leg victory over Real at the Bernabeu. Real test their powers of recovery on Saturday at home to 17th-placed Real Zaragoza, a side they crushed 6-0 in the corresponding fixture last season.


Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

If Inter Milan fail to win at Cesena on Saturday and AC Milan defeat Bologna at home on Sunday, the Rossoneri will be champions because of their better head to head record if they finish level at the end of the season.

Defending champions Inter's hopes of taking the title race into another weekend have been hit by a suspension to goalkeeper Julio Cesar and injuries to Dejan Stankovic and Ivan Cordoba but midfielder Thiago Motta may return.

Milan, eight points clear, are bidding to wrap up their first scudetto since 2004 with three games to go and owner Silvio Berlusconi has no doubts.


England: Premier League Weekend Previews & Predictions

Manchester United will want to avoid a slip-up at Arsenal as their Premier League title bid continues at the Emirates Stadium. It is a weekend with a number of huge games at both ends of the top-flight, as with just four matches remaining this term, the fight for crucial points is as desperate as ever. West Ham, Wolves and Wigan currently occupy the dreaded bottom three places but expect movement over the next few days as only six points separate 15th to 20th. There is also the race for fourth spot and that much-coveted UEFA Champions League berth, as Tottenham face a tough encounter at Chelsea while Manchester City host the Hammers.


Team News & Predictions

Chelsea vs. Tottenham: Preview
Chelsea vs. Tottenham: Paul Merson's Preview

Liverpool vs. Newcastle: Preview

Arsenal vs. Manchester United: Preview I
Arsenal vs. Manchester United: Preview II
Arsenal vs. Manchester United: Alan Hansen's Preview

Lawro's Predictions

Arsenal vs. Manchester United: Top Five Classics

Arsenal face Manchester United at the Emirates on Sunday.

Here are five classic encounters between the two giants.

Football Practice Prank - Portúgal 2011- Þór Icelandic football Club

The Joy of Six: British European Cup Semi-Final Memories

From Hibs' early foray to Dundee v Milan, via Leeds United's smothering of Barcelona, here are half a dozen great tales.

Friday MLS Forecast

The Forecast discusses the tough task ahead of Real Salt Lake upon its return to MLS play and previews the weekend slate.

UEFA Europa League: Thursday Review

A stunning four goal show by Colombian striker Falcao saw Portuguese champions Porto come from a goal down to overwhelm Spanish side Villarreal 5-1 on Thursday in their Europa League semi-final first leg clash in Oporto.

Falcao's goals took him to a record 16 in the competition, beating Jurgen Klinsmann's total of 15 for Bayern Munich in the 1995/95 competition when it was the UEFA Cup.

With Porto set fair for the final in Dublin in May, they will be joined there by another Portuguese club, with Benfica holding a slight edge over Sporting Braga after beating them 2-1 at home also on Thursday.


Real Madrid and Barcelona go to war again after UEFA charges

The escalating feud between Real Madrid and Barcelona erupted into a bitter war of words on Thursday night after Uefa charged both clubs over their conduct in Wednesday's ill-tempered Champions League semi-final.

In the wake of one of the most acrimonious encounters between the two sides, Madrid urged Uefa to charge Barcelona over what they perceive as diving to con the referee at the Bernabéu, while their arch rivals said they would formally report José Mourinho over his claim that there is a conspiracy to favour the Catalan club.

Real Madrid Detail Extent of Barcelona Cheating

This is a video from Real Madrid's official site. It looks back at some of the Oscar-worthy incidents from Wednesday's match.


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, Napoli's wisdom for WAGs, Manchester United's Darron Gibson lasts just two hours on Twitter, Real Madrid have the last word on Hell Clasico, mascot Sammy the Tammy dons a cardboard tank to gun down fans and Icelandic side Thor Akureyri FC take pranks to a whole new level.

Gigi Becali: Supreme Prick

France football manager Blanc denies 'race quota'

France manager Laurent Blanc has denied any knowledge of a controversial alleged proposal by the French Football Federation (FFF) to limit the number of black and arab players by introducing discriminatory quotas.

Reports that French football chiefs, including Blanc, had discussed and approved the introduction of a ceiling on non-whites emerged Thursday via Mediapart.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sid Lowe in Spain

Rather than a shed-load of cash, Racing's owner Ahsan Ali Syed has left a trail of broken promises. And his team are suffering.

From 'Ali the Saviour' to 'Ali Baba'? A cautionary tale from Santander.

Get the beers in! Carroll ignores Capello's advice as £35m man leads Liverpool jolly

Fabio Capello's warning to Andy Carroll to steer clear of alcohol has seemingly fallen on deaf ears. The Liverpool star, who scored his first international goal in England's 1-1 draw with Ghana in March, was pictured apparently enjoying a pint of lager in Madrid on Wednesday.

Carroll was in the Spanish capital to watch the semi-final clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona. And the British record signing was joined by team-mates Pepe Reina, Glen Johnson, and Raul Meireles. Everton star Tim Cahill was also surprisingly invited along for the jolly, despite the fierce rivalry between the two teams.

UEFA Europa League: Thursday Preview

Spain’s Villarreal is looking to thwart the Europa League trophy ambitions of three Portuguese clubs as four Iberian teams line up in the semifinals on Thursday.

At least one club from Portugal will make it to the final in Dublin next month as Benfica meets domestic rival Braga in one semifinal. Villarreal travels to Portuguese champion FC Porto in the other first-leg encounter.


El Clásico Animation: Barcelona vs Real Madrid

Richard Swarbrick's animation of Barcelona 5 - 0 Real Madrid from Monday, November 29, 2010

England: Clint's Sweet Strikes From Last Night

The first is particularly lovely...

England: Wednesday's Premier League Reports

Fulham 3 - 0 Bolton

Jamie Johnson at Craven Cottage


UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's Reports, Analyses & Fallout

Real Madrid 0 - 2 Barcelona

Sid Lowe at Santiago Bernabéu
Henry Winter at Santiago Bernabéu
Paul Hayward at Santiago Bernabéu

Tom Adams: Messi and Mourinho mask Barca shame

Player Ratings
Key Clashes
Jose Rant
Spanish Press Reaction

Tom Adams: Rewind to 2003

On Thursday evening, Porto play Villarreal in the semi-finals of the Europa League. It is eight years since Porto became the first Portuguese club to triumph in Europe's secondary competition when Jose Mourinho announced himself to a wider audience with a dramatic victory over Martin O'Neill's Celtic.

Norman Hubbard: Premier League Worst Signings of the Season

Whenever footballers, managers or supporters suggest their club needs new players, it is tempting to point out that recruitment can make things worse, not better. As ESPNsoccernet's worst 10 signings of the season show...

Wigan paid six million for...?

CONCACAF Champions League: Final Second-Leg Reports & Analyses

Real Salt Lake 0 - 1 Monterrey

Carlisle: Monterrey breaks RSL's heart
Wahl: Three thoughts

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's Semi-Final Previews

Who: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona

When: 2:45pm EDT

Where: Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid, Spain


Preview I
Preview II

David Bond: Clasico of Clasicos

Messi vs. Ronaldo: Majestic Maestros Ready for Game's No. 1 Face-Off

Real Madrid and Barcelona: Best of Enemies

England: Wednesday's Premier League Preview

Fulham vs. Bolton


Guardiola loses his cool in response to Mourinho

“He’s the (expletive) boss, the (expletive) master and I can’t compete with him at any instant,” Guardiola said at the Bernabeu. “Off the field he’s already beaten me. I gift him this off-field Champions League prize, I hope he takes it home and enjoys it.

“I’d just remind him that that we worked together for four years.”

Dutch footballer Signed to Professional Contract - Aged One

A one and a half year old Dutch footballer has shot his way to fame and a 10-year professional contract with his local champion's division football club.

England: Tuesday's Premier League Report

Stoke City 3 - 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Stuart James at Britannia Stadium

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Reports and Analyses

Schalke 0 - 2 Manchester United

Henry Winter at the Veltins Arena
Richard Williams at the Veltins Arena
European Press Reaction
Five Lessons Learned
Player Ratings

Premier League Chalkboard Analysis

It was a familiar story for Arsenal in their defeat to Bolton Wanderers on Sunday afternoon. The nature of Bolton's winning goal – from a set piece, in the final moments – rather sums up Arsenal's frailties this season. No other side have conceded a higher percentage of their goals, 56%, from set pieces in 2010-11.

Arsenal also have severe problems when they try to get the ball wide. Robin van Persie is on a great scoring run and his link-up play is excellent, but he is far from an aerial threat – it does not even come naturally to him to get into goalscoring positions when the ball is out wide. The introduction of Marouane Chamakh, wildly out of form this year, did not solve the problems, and Arsenal finished with a cross completion rate of 0%, from 27 attempted crosses.

The Rest

Real Salt Lake set for biggest game in MLS history

Wind or rain, cold or snow, they'll be ready.

Real Salt Lake fans are set to serenade their team Wednesday night when it plays four-time Mexican League champion Monterrey in the second leg of a home-and-home CONCACAF Champions League finals. Granted, this is not Manchester United vs. Real Madrid. But if RSL can hold its own again against Monterrey, it will get a chance in December to prove itself on the world stage. The champion of CONCACAF - the soccer group made up of North and Central America and the Caribbean - will head to Japan at the FIFA Club World Cup.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Semi-Final Previews

Who: Schalke 04 vs. Manchester United

When: 2:45pm EDT

Where: Veltins-Arena, Gelsenkirchen, Germany

U.S. TV: Fox Soccer Channel

Preview I
Preview II

Kevin McCarra: United can expose Schalke
Phil Thompson: United must be wary
John Duerden: Karimi could rise to the top
Duncan White: Raul enjoying Indian summer
Raphael Honigstein: Five reasons why Schalke may shock Manchester United
Dan Roan: The key to Schalke's success

Schalke 04 Player Guide

Americans On The Continent: Back in front of Bayern

Steve Cherundo lead Hannover as its captain from his traditional right-back position as they beat SC Freiburg 3-1 on Thursday. DaMarcus Beasley was not included in the squad.

The Rest

Americans in the UK: Howard’s brilliance not enough

Tim Howard, taking on his former club, was really impressive on Saturday but Javier Hernandez’s 84th minute strike proved to be the difference as United triumphed over the Toffees.

The keeper stunted Hernandez in the 25th minute with a brilliant save at the right near post. He stopped another effort by the Mexican thereafter as both sides headed into the lock room empty handed. Later in the match, the New Jersey native tipped over a Wayne Rooney free kick and stopped yet another Hernandez shot. However, the striker was finally rewarded for his gusto six minutes from time when his header sailed past Howard.

The Rest

Spain suffering from new delay tactic

Spanish football is being hit by a new wave unsportsmanlike behaviour as a trend of throwing extra balls onto the field to halt the play continues.

Steve Davis on MLS

Five things you should know about MLS Week 6.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

Sampdoria had to beat Bari on Saturday to keep their fight against relegation alive, and responsibility fell to one man.

Opportunity knocks for Nicola Pozzi to save Sampdoria's season.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Kaiserslautern are one win from safety after victory over a Schalke side who were clearly dreaming of Manchester United.

Kaiserslautern win 'semi-final' as Schalke have one eye on theirs.

England: Monday's Premier League Reports

Blackburn 0 - 1 Man. City

Paul Wilson at Ewood Park

Richard Jolly at Ewood Park

Phil Ball in Spain

I'm down in the deep south on an Easter break, in a town called Sanlucar de Barrameda, the port that Juan Sebastian Elcano limped into in 1522, aboard the last surviving ship from Magellan's expedition to circumnavigate the world. The better-known Cadiz is half an hour down the road, but I got here too late on Sunday to seriously contemplate a trip to the Ramon de Carranza, a ground I've always fancied visiting ever since I read of the exploits of 'Magico Gonzalez', born in San Salvador in 1958 and rated by many as the best player ever to grace the planet, at least when he was sober, which wasn't very often. He played for Cadiz, and his name still resonates down here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Special 1 TV

The latest installment...

Henry Winter: Jose Mourinho's Rivalry with Pep Guardiola is the Stuff of Soap Opera

When Jose met Pep is the compelling tale of a former middle-ranking employee versus a beloved scion of the Barcelona establishment, a tale of crossed paths and crossed swords.

Paul Wilson on Arsène Wenger

The Arsenal manager once showed English football the future – but now the dramatic effects of his philosophy have waned.

Arsène Wenger is threatening to become part of Premier League's past.

Sid Lowe on Xavi vs. Xabi

Forget Ronaldo v Messi, the midfield collision of Xabi and Xavi is set to decide a dazzling Champions League semi-final.

Duel of the X-men at heart of Real Madrid passion play with Barcelona.

Scotland: Old Firm Report

Rangers 0 - 0 Celtic

Ewan Murray at Ibrox

Brian Mullan's Tackle on Steve Zakuani Results in Snapped Leg

This is simply awful...

Monday MLS Breakdown

Brian Mullan will miss multiple matches for his reckless challenge on Seattle's Steve Zakuani, but the exact length of his suspension will likely depend on past precedent.

Disciplinary committee faces challenge as it contemplates Mullan suspension.

European Weekend Review

Barcelona and AC Milan moved closer to their titles, with Lionel Messi achieving a milestone goal. Dortmund slipped up in Germany but remain clear of Bayer Leverkusen, while Marseille won the French League Cup. Celtic and Rangers could not be separated in a 0-0 Old Firm stalemate and PSV Eindhoven went down to Feyenoord in the Eredivisie.


England: Premier League Weekend Review, Reports & Analyses

Manchester United are on the brink of a 19th league title following another slip-up from Arsenal at Bolton. The race to avoid relegation is still tight but West Ham slipped to the bottom as Wolves moved up following a draw with Fulham. Meanwhile, Wigan are back in the fight as Sunderland finally ended their miserable run with an emphatic victory at the Stadium of Light. Tottenham were dealt a blow in the chase to finish in the UEFA Champions League spots and Liverpool thrashed Birmingham.


Manchester United 1 - 0 Everton
Kevin McCarra at Old Trafford

Tottenham 2 - 2 West Brom
David Hytner at White Hart Lane

Chelsea 3 - 0 West Ham
Kevin Palmer at Stamford Bridge
Phil McNulty at Stamford Bridge

Liverpool 5 - 0 Birmingham
Richard Jolly at Anfield

Bolton 2 - 1 Arsenal
Richard Jolly at The Reebok Stadium
Daniel Taylor at The Reebok Stadium

Team of the Week

Best of the Weekend

Five Things We Learned

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.

Mario Balotelli car in pound 27 times

MADCAP MARIO BALOTELLI has notched up nearly £10,000 in parking fines and had his luxury car impounded 27 TIMES, The Sun can reveal.

The Manchester City star has left liaison officers at the club tearing their hair out as they have had to go back time and time again to reclaim his Maserati.

The £100,000-a-week Italian striker has had an average of three parking tickets a DAY since he signed for the Premier League club last year.

Death and violence scar the Argentine game

Mayhem threatens almost every match in Argentina, whether the perpetrators are individual fans, police or hooligan gangs. In a nation with a proud soccer tradition, little is being done about the deadly blight on the game. Grabia and others say the reason is a web of connections that touches hooligan gangs, soccer officials, police and the nation's highest-ranking politicians.

"It is impossible to combat the problem here," Grabia said. "The violence is committed by people deeply involved with the clubs, politics and unions."