Friday, October 21, 2011

FIFA official: Fox, Telemundo Get U.S. World Cup Rights

The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Friday because the decision hasn’t been announced.

England: Premier League Previews & Predictions

It is the same fixture that provided the goal of the season last year, and with both teams flying at the top of the Premier League, the first Manchester derby of 2011/12 is arguably the most-anticipated fixture of the campaign so far. United host their neighbours City at Old Trafford, with Wayne Rooney scoring a spectacular overhead kick the last time the sides met in the league. There are other local derbies as Chelsea take on Queens Park Rangers for the bragging rights in West London, while Aston Villa host West Brom in a Midlands encounter.


Manchester United vs. Manchester City
Phil McNulty: Are City in position to overtake United?
Daniel Taylor: How the defenses compare

Liverpool vs. Norwich City


Arsenal vs. Stoke City

Blackburn vs. Tottenham

Premier League Spotlight

Lawro's Predictions

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

Sevilla midfielder Emiliano Armenteros insists three points will be their aim when they go to the Nou Camp this weekend to take on Barcelona. Fourth-placed Sevilla are one of only three teams still unbeaten in La Liga, along with leading duo Barca and Levante, but the Andalusian club face a challenge to keep that record intact against mighty Barca, who have been almost untouchable at home in recent times. Another Andalusian side with a tough challenge this weekend are big-spending Malaga, who face Real Madrid at La Rosaleda. Levante have caught everyone by surprise this term and they take their five-match winning streak to stuttering east-coast neighbours Villarreal on Sunday.



Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

Napoli travels to Cagliari in table-topping clash, while Roma plays host to Palermo. Elsewhere, Lazio visit a revitalized Bologna and Udinese hosting free-scoring Novara while Michael Bradley and Chievo go to Milan to face Inter.


Friday MLS Forecast

The Forecast processes New York's 1-0 victory over Philadelphia and scans through the final fixtures of the regular season.

Fifa launches Brazil's World Cup plans in face of corruption charges

Fifa's president, Sepp Blatter, and the chief of the Brazilian Football Confederation, Ricardo Teixeira, are under the spotlight.

Most group matches to kick off at 5pm, 9pm or 11pm. In a break from tradition, Fifa has allowed four daily kick-off slots in the 32-team group phase instead of three, so one group match will start at 2am UK time after which there will be three group matches each day. The round of 16 and the quarter-finals will be at 5pm and 9pm. The semi-finals – to be played in Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte – will start at 9pm while the final, to be held in Rio de Janeiro at the Maracana on 13 July, will kick off at 8pm. The World Cup will kick off on 12 June 2014, a Thursday, with Brazil playing at a 65,000-seat arena being built at Itaquera in Sao Paulo. The Maracana will stage six matches in addition to the final, but the five-times champions, Brazil, will only play at the stadium if they reach the final.

The Big Interview: Mario Balotelli

Roberto Mancini's enigmatic countryman feels he is more settled this season and, with four goals in four games, the returns are coming on the pitch.

UEFA Europa League: Thursday's Review

A brilliant free-kick from Russia striker Roman Pavlyuchenko earned Tottenham a 1-0 win over Rubin Kazan at White Hart Lane, providing Harry Redknapp with a timely reminder of his talents after the Spurs boss had admitted he would reluctantly consider offers for the player in January. Cameron Jerome was controversially sent off as Stoke strolled to a 3-0 home win over Maccabi Tel Aviv to consolidate their position at the top of Group E. Fernando Llorente scored two second-half penalties as Group F leaders Athletico Bilbao fought back from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw at Salzburg. FC Twente moved three points clear at the top of Group K thanks to a 4-1 victory over Odense BK in Denmark. In the same group, Polish champions Wisla Krakow secured their first points with a 1-0 win over Fulham. David Biton struck the all-important goal after the Cottagers had had Moussa Dembele sent off.


Jon Carter: Rewind to 1974

Denis Law, christened the 'King of Old Trafford' after scoring 236 goals in 11 years after joining Manchester United in 1962, also played his part in sending his former club down to the Second Division when he backheeled the winner for rivals Manchester City in the penultimate game of the season in 1974. While United would have been relegated even if they have drawn the game, Law's goal has gone down as one of the most memorable in history and, crushingly, proved to be his final touch in English football.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Q. & A. With ‘Soccer Men’ Author Simon Kuper

The British author Simon Kuper was born in Uganda and grew up in England, the Netherlands, the United States, Sweden and Jamaica. His soccer writing has taken him to even more far-flung corners of the globe — even on daring forays inside the minds of Diego Maradona and Wayne Rooney — for the profiles of what he calls the “rogues, geniuses and neurotics” of world soccer that make up his new book, “Soccer Men.” Kuper’s previous books include the prize-winning “Football Against the Enemy” and the groundbreaking “Soccernomics,” written with the economist Stefan Syzmanski.

United and City fans asked to “Trash Your Tevez Shirt”

At this Sunday's Manchester derby, fans from both sides will get an opportunity to show their disgust with the petulant Argentinean by dumping their replica shirts in a recycling skip, painted in red and sky blue. The unwanted garments will then be sent on to Argentina, and also local charity organizations who don't hold such a strong conscientious objection to the maligned forward.

Kenny Dalglish stands by Luis Suarez in racism row

So far there appears to be little progress on the matter, with the FA reportedly due to interview Evra today.

The France international is likely to have to provide evidence in the form of witnesses as he did not raise the allegations with referee Andre Marriner at the time.

Bradford fire survivor attacks judge over Hillsborough comments

Fletcher was 12 when he emerged alive from Valley Parade's inferno, but his father, John, elder brother Andrew, grandfather Eddie and uncle Peter, with whom he had been attending the Third Division match between Bradford City and Lincoln City, all died. He was also at the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough four years later, at which 96 Liverpool supporters died.

"For Popplewell to say that the Hillsborough families are 'harbouring conspiracy theories' while the Bradford families 'organised a sensible compensation scheme and moved on', is an absolute travesty of the truth and a disgrace," Fletcher said.

The View From Asia

It was, as the international headlines screamed, something of a shameful night for Asian football but there was more. As Al Sadd celebrated a hugely controversial second goal in the first leg of their 2011 Asian Champions League semi-final at Suwon Bluewings on Wednesday evening, along with the punches, the flying kicks and players trying to strangle each other with towels, there was, in the chilly evening air, a feeling that this may be the club's year.

Sid Lowe in Spain

Perpetually underrated Higuain back in the spotlight for Real Madrid.

FIFA set to announce Brazilian cities for 2014 World Cup

The announcement will also answer doubts over the amount of travelling teams and their supporters will have to do between the 12 venue cities which extend from Manaus in the heart of the Amazon basin to Porto Alegre in the far south.

In 1998, FIFA has ditched the concept that teams should be based on one venue for the group stage and has sent them cavorting around the various hosts nations since then.

However, Brazil's sheer size combined with severely limited transport options is likely to force FIFA to use the old system.

With the tournament being played in winter, teams forced to play at different ends of the country could also face huge changes in playing conditions, with tropical weather in the north and chilly temperatures in the south.

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's Review & Reports

Barcelona enjoyed complete dominance over Viktoria Plzen but had to settle for a 2-0 win courtesy of goals from Andres Iniesta and David Villa as Lionel Messi hit the woodwork several times. AC Milan, Barca's Group H rivals, did enough to beat BATE Borisov 2-0 thanks to a first-half strike from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a stunning long-range effort from Kevin-Prince Boateng. Chelsea cruised to an emphatic 5-0 win against Genk in Group E, as Fernando Torres found the net twice in an impressive performance. Aaron Ramsey's coolly-taken strike two minutes into injury time gave Arsenal a much-needed 1-0 win against Marseille.


Chelsea 5 - 0 Genk
Dominic Fifield at Stamford Bridge
John Brewin at Stamford Bridge

Marseille 0 - 1 Arsenal
David Hytner at Stade Vélodrome
Jeremy Wilson at Stade Vélodrome

Shakhtar Donetsk 2 - 2 Zenit St Petersburg
Jonathan Wilson at Donbass Arena

Barcelona 2 - 0 Viktoria Plzen: Sheer brilliance from Iniesta

DC United's Davies sues club, Red Bull over crash

D.C. United's Charlie Davies is suing the owners of a Washington nightclub and the drink company Red Bull for $20 million, claiming they are responsible for a fatal car crash that ended the MLS player's hopes of joining the 2010 U.S. World Cup team.

Davies, now 25, was a passenger in the car driven by a woman who has since pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and drunken driving in the 2009 one-car crash that killed a second passenger. The lawsuit claims the Shadow Room and Red Bull served excessive alcohol to driver Maria Espinoza.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's Review & Reports

Sergio Aguero snatched a dramatic last-gasp winner for Manchester City against Villarreal, while Wayne Rooney fired Manchester United to victory over Otelul Galati. Benfica moved to the top of the pile in Group C ahead of United in second after overcoming previous leaders Basel 2-0 in Switzerland. Bayern Munich's defence was finally breached after a staggering run of 19 hours and seven minutes but they remain in control at the top of Group A following a 1-1 draw away to Napoli. Real Madrid extended their 100 per cent start in Group D as they brushed aside regular Champions League opponents Lyon 4-0 at Santiago Bernabeu. Inter Milan moved to the top of Group B with a 1-0 success away to Lille as the Serie A side put their domestic concerns to one side.


Manchester City 2 - 1 Villarreal
Kevin McCarra at Etihad Stadium
Richard Jolly at Etihad Stadium
Paul Hayward at Etihad Stadium
Phil McNulty at Etihad Stadium

Otelul Galati 0 - 2 Manchester United
Andy Hunter at Stadionul National

Former judge tells Hillsborough families to drop 'conspiracy theories'

A retired judge has sparked fury by calling on the Hillsborough families to drop their "conspiracy theories" and behave more like the relatives of victims of the Bradford City stadium disaster.

Sir Oliver Popplewell, who chaired the public inquiry into the 1985 fire at the Valley Parade stadium, which killed 56 people, called on the Liverpool families to look at the "quiet dignity and great courage" that relatives of the Bradford victims have shown in the years following the tragedy.

What a prick...

Uli Hess in Germany

There could have been plenty of talking points in Germany following the Bundesliga's ninth round of games at the weekend. Bayern Munich's continuing, and almost ridiculous, dominance, for instance, or the sudden insurgence of the cellar dwellers, as the bottom three teams all won away from home. Instead, almost everyone - from coaches to pundits like Franz Beckenbauer to the viewers of Werder Bremen announcer Arnd Zeigler's cult call-in show on regional television - were debating one particular aspect of the rulebook.

Tim Vickery in South America

Just a few rounds gone and, of the nine teams in contention, only two have yet to win a game. The other seven already have one success to their name, but nobody has two. The figures don't just show it, they shout it: World Cup qualification in South America is more competitive than anywhere else on the planet. True, Brazil are not in the running this time - as they qualify automatically as 2014 hosts - and the continent has retained all of its slots (the top four go straight through to the World Cup, with the side finishing fifth playing off against opponents from Asia). But even with so many places available, for South America's sides the short trip to Brazil will only come at the end of a long and bumpy road, full of pitfalls, especially away from home.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sid Lowe in Spain

For Levante to be joint top with a team afforded a playing budget 20 times the size is an achievement of absurd proportions.

Levante are back and this time they're ready to take on the world.

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Previews

Manchester's big two would have hoped to have picked up a European victory by now, but City and United are still searching for their first success of the campaign heading into Matchday Three. The other game in a fiercely-competitive Group A will see Napoli attempt to end Bayern Munich's perfect start and become the first side to find the target against the German giants in over 18 hours of football. Basel and Benfica have picked up four points apiece from their opening two games and will be looking to edge a step closer to the knockout stage when they go head-to-head in Switzerland. CSKA Moscow and Trabzonspor are set to brave freezing conditions in Tuesday's early kick-off. Their Group B rivals Lille and Inter Milan will meet a little later in the evening, with Joe Cole hoping to help his French employers to victory over his former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri. Real Madrid and Lyon will need no introduction to one another as they prepare to lock horns for the third season in a row - and the fifth time in seven seasons - at Santiago Bernabeu.


Otelul Galati vs. Manchester United
Andy Hunter: Rooney starts as United take no chances
Louise Taylor: Galati have something to prove

Manchester City vs. Villarreal
Kevin McCarra: City still trying to find their Euro feet
Key Battles

Real Madrid vs. Lyon: Preview

Napoli vs. Bayern Munich: Preview

Lille vs. Inter Milan: Preview

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

By strengthening the squad with astute purchases and reducing the wage bill, the Swabians are stable and consistent at last.

Stuttgart's men at work building strong foundations for better future.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

Roma were left cursing the referee and their captain's prediction after Miroslav Klose settled the Derby della Capitale.

Lazio profit from Hernanes penalty as Roma regret Totti's prediction.

Southampton and West Ham seek seasonal surge in top-of-the-table clash

On the face of it tonight's match between Southampton and West Ham at St Mary's represents a collision of the mutually buoyant: it is the biggest game in the Championship so far this season, a meeting of first and second in the table and a chance for two clubs with a genuine (and in West Ham's case rather desperate) hunger for promotion to gouge an early-season lump out of each other's ambitions of setting up a decisive autumnal surge away from the chasing pack.

Americans Abroad

Michael Bradley helps Chievo steal a draw from Juventus, Brad Friedel and Spurs suffer draw at Newcastle.

Steve Davis on MLS

Know your Major League Soccer --

Five things we learned from Round 31:

Over 64,000 on hand in Seattle...

Georgina Turner: A collective TV rights deal essential for Premier League's balance

This weekend's reporting duties took me to Pride Park, where Derby County hosted Southampton for a top-of-the-table second division match. Sat beneath a black and white photograph of Brian Clough in the manager's office in 1968, his two-year-old son Nigel perched on the desk, I read the program notes of the 45-year-old Nigel, now in charge of Derby himself. "Too much is made of pressure and expectation in football these days," wrote Clough, who bounced into the press room grinning after a high-tempo 1-1 draw. "There is too much focus on issues and characters that don't really matter ... it's about players and fans; one group performing to entertain the other."

David Conn: The Hillsborough disaster's legacy of lies

Had responsibility for the football tragedy been accepted early on, there would be no need for a parliamentary debate.

Steve Rotheram reads the victims' names in Parliament...

The Trawler: Tevez and Twitter Rants

Welcome to The Trawler, your weekly submersion through the teeming waters of life in the Championship, League One and League Two. You might be surprised what you find down there.

Phil Ball in Spain

Pride of place this week goes once again to Levante, who stay second behind Barcelona on goal difference after beating Malaga 3-0 in the duel of the new-teams-on-the-block. It's true that Malaga lost their goalkeeper Willy (he might have to change the name on his shirt if he ever gets signed by an English team) after half an hour to a sending-off, but Levante proved themselves perfectly capable of taking full advantage, winning a game with lots of symbolic meaning attached to it. Real Madrid's income this season will be €488 million, while Levante's will be €23 million.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Raphael Honigstein: Injured Robben a gloomy figure

Bayern Munich's 4-0 win over hapless Hertha BSC on Saturday was so comprehensive that Berlin midfielder Andreas Ottl professed himself "rather satisfied" afterward; it really could have been much worse for the visitors. The imperious league leaders kept another clean sheet -- their eighth in as many games -- and only looked troubled once during the 90 minutes, when the camera closed in on a glum-looking Arjen Robben in the Allianz Arena stands. The 27-year-old winger's continuous struggles with injuries and speculations about his standing in the team remain unseemly blots in the red and white copy book.

Monday MLS Breakdown: Playoff scenarios abound as MLS enters the final week of the regular season

The Breakdown spends some quality time working through a few key playoff possibilities after a typically tumultuous weekend slate.

Italy: Derby della Capitale Match Report

A goal by German striker Klose(who also hit the post, as did Cisse) in the 93rd minute gave victory to the Biancocelesti who came back well after Osvaldo’s opener. Hernanes also scored from the penalty spot. Kjaer’s dismissal at the beginning of the second-half was decisive.


European Review: Barca, Lazio and Bayern enjoy memorable weekends

Barcelona turned on the style once again in Spain, while Lazio claimed the Rome bragging rights and Bayern Munich's excellent form continued. Celtic dropped more points in the SPL but this time so did Rangers, while it is Paris St Germain setting the pace in France and FC Twente's winning run came to an end in Holland.


England: Premier League Weekend Review, Reports, Analysis, Teams of the Week + Table

Manchester United left Anfield with something to show for their efforts, for the first time in four years, but they now find themselves chasing Manchester City after the in-form Blues clambered to the Premier League summit. For all the talk of Manchester dominance this term, Chelsea remain ominously placed just behind the frontrunners. Outside of the top two, Newcastle remain the only other unbeaten side in the top flight, while Wolves are on a serious slide after coming unstuck in Sunday's Black Country derby.


Liverpool 1 - 1 Manchester United

Paul Wilson at Anfield
Richard Jolly at Anfield
Phil McNulty at Anfield
Andy Hunter at Anfield

Manchester City 4 - 1 Aston Villa

Tim Rich at Etihad Stadium

Chelsea 3 - 1 Everton

Kevin Palmer at Stamford Bridge

Arsenal 2 - 1 Sunderland
David Hytner at Emirates Stadium

Newcastle 2 - 2 Tottenham

Kevin McCarra at St. James' Park

Team of the Week

Garth Crook's Team of the Week

Five Things We Learned

Man City87102122
Man Utd86201920
Aston Villa8251111
West Brom8224-38

England: PFA's Gordon Taylor offers to mediate in Luis Suárez-Patrice Evra row

The Football Association is investigating a complaint from the Manchester United defender Evra, who accused the Liverpool striker Suárez of racially abusing him during Saturday's Premier League game at Anfield. Suárez said he is "upset" by the allegation, which he has categorically denied.

Reports suggest that Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish was summoned after United boss Sir Alex Ferguson had accompanied Evra to the referees' room and consulted with fourth official Phil Dowd. Sources in France said the word Suarez is alleged to have used is "n*****".

Graham Poll: Why FA may never get to bottom of Evra/Suarez row

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.