Friday, May 06, 2011
But that mountaintop view, with an admission cost of $18, is out of reach for most Cariocas, as the locals are known. The view of the field from the standing-room general admission area of the Maracanã, on the other hand, cost just $1.80 not long ago, making it one of the few places Rio’s poor residents could afford to go for world-class entertainment.
From an 11-goal thriller in 1954 to the Peacock triptych of 1994, here are a few iconic memories from United v Chelsea games.
Now, however, Chelsea can go top of the table with a win as they are currently just three points behind United with the same goal difference. A title showdown is sure to whet the appetite and you can watch it all on Sunday live on Sky Sports 1 and HD1 from 4pm. At the other end it really is a desperate situation for West Ham who, with three games to go, need a victory over Blackburn to claw themselves closer to safety. Fellow relegation candidates Blackpool and Wigan both have tricky away fixtures, while Wolves host West Brom in a Black Country derby. Elsewhere, Arsenal go to Stoke where there should be a conflict in styles while Manchester City face a trip to Everton and Newcastle host Birmingham.
Team News & Predictions
West Ham vs. Blackburn
Stoke City vs. Arsenal
Manchester United vs. Chelsea
John Brewin: Latest Battle of Old Trafford can decide destiny
Paul Hayward: Old Value behind Blues revival
Five Key Factors
Paul Merson's Previews
Should Madrid fail to win at Sevilla on Saturday night, then a Barca win at home to Espanyol a day later will see them claim their 21st Primera Division crown. Barca's neighbours will be desperate to spoil, or at least delay, the party, however, and also further their hopes of playing in the Europa League next season.
AC Milan needs just one point to clinch the Serie A title but could face a struggle Saturday at Roma, which is locked in a close battle for Italy’s final Champions League spot. On Sunday, Inter hosts Fiorentina and Napoli can clinch its return to the Champions League at Lecce, which is struggling to avoid relegation.
Leading figures in French football - including national team coach Laurent Blanc - have been accused of trying to implement racial quotas for non-white players in youth academies.
Lilian Thuram is France's most capped player with 142 appearances under his belt. Originally from Guadalupe, Thuram now campaigns against discrimination in football.
When Saturday Comes is 25 this year, so let's all sing Happy Birthday. After three, with me. One, two... Actually forget that, it'll take too long.
To celebrate the milestone, the magazine has been running a series of retrospectives exploring the changes that have taken place during the period. The April edition, in a piece by Taylor Parkes, focused on the changing nature of fan culture or as he put it the 'long road from the proudly ideological fanzines of 25 years ago to the shattering inanities of Soccer Am and James Corden's World Cup show".
The piece has much merit; James Corden certainly figures highly on my list of people I'd like to punch repeatedly and Parkes correctly identifies fanzines' assimilation by the mainstream media.
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, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson dusts off his boots to play against Blackpool, Carlo Ancelotti claims Chelsea are solar powered, Diego Maradona biggest fans campaign to get his face on the 10 peso note, Francesco Totti declares himself immortal and Ronaldinho reveals his nutmeg tackle.
Thursday, May 05, 2011
On Wednesday night, Manchester United successfully secured their place in the Champions League final and will now play Barcelona at Wembley. The venue holds special memories for the club, as it was in north-west London where United were first crowned champions of Europe, ten years after a trip to a European Cup match ended in tragedy.
ADO Den Haag goalkeeper Gino Coutinho received a six-month conditional jail sentence and community service from a Dutch court in Lelystad for a series of offences including growing cannabis, the Dutch club said.
When managers ask their respective chairmen for the money to recruit, it is sometimes in more hope than expectation. On other occasions, however, it can be a triumph of judgment and planning.
These, then, are the signings of the times...
Not even avoiding relegation will save the manager, while going down threatens the club's very existence.
Since taking over as manager of Les Bleus last August Blanc has advocated concentrating on cultivating technique and intelligence rather than power and speed. In the leaked meeting he reiterated this philosophy and regretted that French academies seem to be populated primarily by youngsters chosen for their athletic prowess more than their football flair. He claimed that these youngsters tended to be black. "You have the impression that they really train the same prototype of players: big, strong, powerful … What is there that is currently big, strong, powerful? The blacks. That's the way it is. It's a current fact. God knows that in the training centres and football schools there are loads of them."
Patrick Vieira has said he is shocked at reports that the France coach Laurent Blanc and other officials discussed introducing quotas to limit the number of non-white players in the national team set-up.
“Maybe when I am 45 I will make a contract with The Telegraph,” he says. “My main objective in my career is to build something that I am proud of. I don’t want to be in a coaching position for a long time because it’s a position that drains you emotionally.
"It takes a lot from you, from your family and I don’t want to live like that. I want to have a short, 10-12 year career. Fifteen years, maybe, maximum. And then leave. But during that time I want to leave some kind of mark.”
Aged just 33, he has already done that. Villas-Boas scoffs at such talk but he knows he is on a stellar path.
Manchester United 4 - 1 Schalke 04 (agg. 6 - 1)
Phil McNulty at Old Trafford
Kevin McCarra at Old Trafford
Richard Jolly at Old Trafford
Daniel Taylor at Old Trafford
Phil McNulty: Can Manchester United beat Barcelona?
James Lawton: Ferguson sends in dog soldiers to expose limits of toothless Schalke
Real Madrid have not reacted well to their Champions League exit to Barcelona, with conspiracy theories, videos of dubious calls and disparaging tweets from the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Rory McIlroy all employed as their PR machine went into meltdown.
Here, ESPNsoccernet selects a list of some of the other teams who have jettisoned their pride in the face of defeat.
Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu is confident that he can rediscover his form after admitting that he has been in "a bit of a funk" of late. Edu, 25, has been struggling to make an impact for Walter Smith's SPL title favourites recently but the USA international insists he still has plenty of belief in his own ability and is sure he can prove his worth before the end of the season.
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Arsenal have been among the European giants linked with a summer move for Schalke and Germany's No.1, but he has told ESPNsoccernet's Nick Bidwell that his stunning rise to the top table of world football is not distracting him from his final few games with hometown club Schalke.
Hooligans clashed with police and damaged the stadium after Legia Warsaw won the Polish Cup final 5-4 on penalties against Lech Poznan in Bydgoszcz last night.
Fans invaded the pitch, demolished barriers and damaged the tribune as well as attacking press photographers before police got the situation under control by using water cannon.
Barcelona 1 - 1 Real Madrid (agg. 3 - 1)
Henry Winter at Camp Nou
Paul Hayward at Camp Nou
Real Rage at Ref
Richard Williams: Fewer histrionics but this was not a classic
Spanish Press View
"It's not an excuse for me to say, 'Oh, I had it rough, I had it this, I had it that.' I never. The reality of it is I was fucking stupid. There is no two ways about it.
His side lost to AEK by a score of 3-0 in a Greek Cup final in Athens' Olympic Stadium on Saturday that was cut short when AEK fans stormed the pitch and fought Atromitos and riot police with broken seats, advertising hoardings and whatever else they could turn into weapons.
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Who: Barcelona vs. Real Madrid (agg. 2-0)
When: 2:45pm EDT
Where: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
U.S. TV: Fox Soccer Channel
Sid Lowe: Relationship has hit a new low
Mark Lomas: Sparks will fly in final installment Alan Smith: Adebayor key to comeback
Collina sent by Uefa to monitor referee Frank de Bleeckere at Nou Camp
Police say a supporter has been shot dead following a Brazilian soccer game that was interrupted by a swarm of bees and ended with a brawl between players on the field.
Zaragoza stunned José Mourinho's side after another motivational masterclass from their Mexican manager.
Aguirre's video nasty spurs Zaragoza to victory over Real Madrid.
With three games left, and holding the head-to-head tie-breaker, Milan need just a point to seal a first Scudetto since 2004.
Milan prepare to party ahead of 18th league title triumph.
Even the worst haircut in Bundesliga history couldn't spoil the celebrations as Dortmund claimed their seventh Meisterschaft.
Borussia Dortmund a cut above as title is secured in hair-raising style.
As the battle for the domestic title raged at the weekend, most Albanians were more interested in Europe's big leagues.
Albania loves football - just not the version played in its stadiums.
Real published a video on their website showing Barca's Sergio Busquets allegedly calling full-back Marcelo "mono" (monkey) during the first leg.
As Norwich manager Paul Lambert tried to get to grips with his team's promotion to the Premier League at Portsmouth on a windswept Bank Holiday Monday, he repeated one word over and over again.
"It is a miracle," said the 41-year-old after his team's 1-0 victory secured second place in the Championship. "An absolute miracle."
Never before in the history of the Eredivisie has the fixture list computer churned out a final matchday programme containing such compelling encounters. Whatever the relegation hurly-burly in the east of Holland comes to, it will always fade in comparison to the Rumble in the Amsterdam ArenA between Ajax and FC Twente, where the winner takes the title, no strings attached.
Monday, May 02, 2011
England's Relegation run-in: the final three Premier League games for teams trying to avoid the trapdoor
Who will dodge the drop? Telegraph Sport looks at how the scramble for survival is shaping up in the Premier League season’s final weeks.
I wouldn't mind going down that trapdoor...
Real Madrid have asked Uefa to take action against six Barcelona players for 'premeditated anti-sporting behaviour'. The club have added that the behaviour was part of the Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola's plan and therefore want action against him too.
Dani Alvez reacts as a slight breeze brushes against his shinguard...
George Graham wants Arsene Wenger to come out and explain why Arsenal have gone six seasons without winning a trophy. The former Gunners boss, who guided them to two league titles, one FA Cup, two League Cups and the European Cup Winners' Cup, in his nine years in charge believes it is time for some answers.
The bold white print on the specially designed blue T-shirts said it all - "Rangers, back in the big time."
And it was for the time being at least, true. At Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon, QPR defeated Watford to end a 15-year exodus from the top flight of English football.
Chelsea 2 - 1 Tottenham
Kevin Palmer at Stamford Bridge
Dominic Fifield at Stamford Bridge
Manchester City 2 - 1 West Ham
Richard Jolly at Eastlands
Liverpool 3 - 0 Newcastle
Andy Hunter at Anfield
Arsenal 1 - 0 Manchester United
Kevin McCarra at the Emirates Stadium
Phil McNulty at the Emirates Stadium
Ian Chadband at the Emirates Stadium
Richard Williams at the Emirates Stadium
Best of the Weekend
Five Things We Learned
Perhaps experience and wisdom should dictate that the gun not be jumped and the second leg be over before showering accolades on "the greatest team ever" and "the best player ever" but impatience has set in and the world press focus is once again on the young Maestro of the ball -- nowhere more so than in his homeland, Argentina, where comparisons with Maradona have fallen short.
On Wednesday evening in West London, Clint Dempsey became Fulham's top scorer in the Premier League era, scoring in each half against Bolton to first match and then surpass the benchmark of 32 set by fellow American Brian McBride and Steed Malbranque. It was somehow fitting that he should reach this milestone -- and in some style -- while all eyes were elsewhere, on the trumpeted and tempestuous Champions League meeting between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
His quality seems forever caught in soccer's peripheral vision.