Friday, September 09, 2011
Not long ago it hit me: Why couldn't FIFA do the same thing with the 824 World Cup qualifiers that take place on action-filled matchdays around the world? I'd pay for that channel, and so would millions of soccer fans all over the planet.
Surely the Gunners hit their nadir against Manchester United last time out? Well, anything less than a home victory against Swansea would see them sink further into the mire. Elsewhere, United go to Bolton, Tottenham have the opportunity for their first points at Wolves, Manchester City host Wigan and Chelsea travel to Sunderland.
Bolton vs. Manchester United: Preview
Premier League Spotlight
Paul Merson's Predictions
Barcelona full-back Dani Alves has fired his side up for Saturday's La Liga trip to Real Sociedad. The defending champions go into their second game of the season on the back of a 5-0 win over Villarreal, but that result was bettered by Real Madrid's 6-0 thrashing of Real Zaragoza.Madrid will look to keep hold of top spot when they host capital rivals Getafe on Saturday. Jose Mourinho could hand a home league debut to forward Jose Callejon, the summer signing from Espanyol.Elsewhere on Saturday, Villarreal will look to bounce back from their humbling by Barca with an improved performance at home to Sevilla. On Sunday, two sides who enjoyed opening-day wins, Real Betis and Real Mallorca, go head to head.
Eduardo Alvarez's Quiniela
Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath has been given a vote of confidence ahead of their meeting with his former club Schalke this weekend. The Wolves have made a dismal start to the season with three straight defeats leaving them in the wrong half of the table, but Wolfsburg chairman Francisco Garcia Sanz believes Magath will put things right eventually. League leaders Bayern host Freiburg on Saturday afternoon while Werder Bremen, who are below Schalke only on goals scored, host northern Germany rivals Hamburg on Saturday evening.
AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes his team will still be the side to beat in Serie A this season. The Rossoneri open the 2011-12 campaign on Friday night at home to Lazio. Gianpiero Gasperini's Inter travel to La Favorita to face Palermo on Sunday evening. Juventus entertain Parma in Turin on Sunday hoping to prove their worth to new coach Antonio Conte.
Transfer Window Verdict
While the fight goes on for England (surely), the Republic of Ireland (possibly), Northern Ireland and Scotland (it could still happen) to qualify for Euro 2012, four of the continent's leading football nations can already start to prepare properly having sealed their places in Poland and Ukraine.
In the latest round of games, Italy joined defending European and World champions Spain in celebrating qualification, and the Dutch are definitely there too as they are guaranteed to be best runner-up at least. All, though, were beaten to the honour of being 'first past the post' by a very impressive Germany.
Manchester City chief executive Garry Cook has resigned over claims he emailed defender Nedum Onuoha's cancer-suffering mother mocking her illness.
Cook offered his resignation after an investigation by City found "there is foundation" to the allegations.
For it was Notts County, in 1903, who answered the call of a Juventus member, an Englishman named John Savage, to send a set of the club's black and white striped shirts to replace the pink numbers worn by the players of the Italian club since their founding by a group of students six years earlier. Thus did Notts, who were then midway through a spell in the old First Division, save Juventus from a century of being confused with pink-shirted Palermo.
I went to the website Transfer League to look at Arsene Wenger’s recent transfers.
I was looking for a pattern for this oft-cited project. But you can’t find significant patterns on just dates and prices. And overall, it’s not that important. Yes, Wenger has been very effective and prosperous by spending a mere 11 million net in his 15 years at Arsenal (and that’s without amortization). But that is not the narrative I was looking for.
It took birth dates and age at purchase to provide the patterns I was seeking, and then I needed to expand it to his full time at Arsenal. If you start to look at Wenger’s purchasing history, there is a very different story to the one we hear about his genius at purchasing youth. It turns out that he is far from a genius and is rather pedestrian at scouting teenagers. But once a player hits 20, Wenger becomes the best assessor of talent on the planet. Unlike a Ferguson, Schaaf and Moyes (contemporaries by duration) who all buy duds on occasion of all ages, Wenger rarely buys a dud with players aged 20-26.
The player's wife, model and television presenter Abbey Clancy, is reportedly unhappy about the prospect of leaving London and there have been question marks raised as to how Crouch might adjust to being away from the high life with the Staffordshire club.
Welcome to Stoke, Abbey!
Didier Deschamps knew instantly. As David Trezeguet thundered the ball into the roof of Italy's net to win Euro 2000, the French captain was struck by a feeling of finality. Amid the centre-circle celebrations, he told manager Roger Lemerre "it's never going to get any better than this". Deschamps was, of course, talking about a French dynasty that had just completed a double.
But he might well have been describing international football in general. In the decade since Trezeguet's moment of glory, it appears the standard has irrevocably declined. It is no longer anywhere near the very top level of the sport.
Thursday, September 08, 2011
"I thought Stuart did really well," Klinsmann told the club's official website after the game. "We've obviously been keeping a close eye on him since his injury because he's not only a fantastic player, but a great person. He's had a lot of attention from all of the staff at Bolton and he is without doubt in the best possible hands. They're treating him wonderfully well and doing all they can to get him back on track which is nice to see."
A selection of eight games that really shouldn't have been wasted on the earlier rounds of the tournaments they took place in.
Editor's note: This is an extract from the Blizzard, a new quarterly magazine of football journalism edited by Jonathan Wilson. It's available in paper and digital formats from www.theblizzard.co.uk.
Fabio Capello will carry out a radical overhaul of the England squad once qualification for Euro 2012 is secured after deciding that too many senior players have failed to recover from the disappointment of last year's World Cup.
The forward will be grilled on his links to Mario Iorio, a catering entrepreneur charged with money laundering in connection to an investigation into the Lo Russo clan of the city's Camorra.
The dangerous matriarch...
Spain's big two prosper while many of their league rivals do not even have a shirt sponsor.
Barcelona and Real in La Liga of their own with the rest nowhere.
The blunder-prone chief executive at Eastlands is almost beyond parody, except that he is also the perfect embodiment of the Premier League.
The best in the business, at least in the Premier League, is Nigel de Jong. Ascribing City's unexpected transformation into entertainers to the Dutchman's absence since the opening hour of their campaign is harsh. Perhaps boldness has been forced upon Roberto Mancini, but it has reaped a reward.
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
Spain and Italy sealed their places at Euro 2012 with two qualifying games to spare on Tuesday while England moved closer to next year’s finals after beating Wales in a game at Wembley overshadowed by the death of a Wales fan. David Villa and Alvaro Negredo scored twice as defending champion Spain thrashed Liechtenstein 6-0 to secure top spot in Group I, and substitute Giampaolo Pazzini’s 85th-minute strike earned the Italians a narrow win in Florence that clinched them first place in Group C. The 2010 and 2006 world champions join already-qualified Germany and the two co-hosts in the finals.
England 1 - 0 Wales
Phil McNulty at Wembley
Kevin McCarra at Wembley
Richard Williams at Wembley
John Brewin at Wembley
Russia 0 - 0 Republic of Ireland
Mark Ogden at Luzhniki Stadium
Denmark 2 - 0 Norway: Bendtner Brace
Romania 0 - 0 France: Dour Draw
The U.S. national soccer team lost to Belgium 1-0 Tuesday, leaving Jurgen Klinsmann without a win in three games since he was hired as the Americans’ coach. This was the first road game for the U.S. since Klinsmann came aboard. The Americans earlier tied Mexico and lost to Costa Rica.
Grant Wahl: Three Thoughts
Martin Rogers: U.S. Offense Impotent
Ives: Slow Progress
Steve Davis: Player Ratings
Former Arsenal star Freddie Ljungberg has joined Japanese side Shimizu S-Pulse.
The 34-year-old moved to Celtic in December and made seven appearances for the Hoops last term before leaving Scotland in the summer.
The stories can be seductive, but we all know the downside: Andy Carroll should be aware, you don't get another go at this.
It may have taken a rude shock against a 120th-ranked Thailand to stun Australia into action, but, on the evidence of their convincing 3-1 win over Saudi Arabia on Tuesday night, it appears the Socceroos are back on track in their bid to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Who's Going To Be At Euro 2012?
Most Groups Up For Grabs
England vs. Wales: Preview
Kevin McCarra: The feared ogre who became England's nurturer
Italy vs. Slovenia: Preview
When: 2:30pm EDT
Where: King Baudouin Stadium, Brussels, Belgium
U.S. TV: ESPN
U.S. needs balanced attack
Grant Wahl: Four Thoughts
Paul Carr: Five Notes
It’s important to state that I love the pub. I love its straightforward approach to English social habits. The main product is alcohol, served with minimal fuss. No continental table service, no fancy snacks; just drinking and the murmur of conversation. So, why does it all turn to shit when England are playing football on TV?
UEFA EURO 2012 hosts Poland and Ukraine have now been joined by Germany in the finals and by Tuesday night that number could include holders Spain, Italy and even the Netherlands as UEFA.com examines the state of play.
There are two more rounds of matches in October and the nine section winners, plus the runners-up with the best record against the sides placed first, third, fourth and fifth in their pool qualify directly, with the other second-placed teams entering the play-offs.
Rodney Wallace scored to lead Costa Rica to a 1-0 win over the United States on Friday night, giving Jurgen Klinsmann a loss in his second match as U.S. coach.
Grant Wahl: Three Thoughts
Costa Rica Friendly a Glimpse at the Future of American Soccer
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, Lille chase Arsenal signing Park Chu-Young to airport, Cafu coaches two teams of Miss Universe contestants, Mezut Ozil goes up in smoke and disappears, and a Real Zaragoza fan dons his 'Anti-Mourinho glasses'.