Friday, December 09, 2011
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, Jan Aage Fjortoft is electrocuted on national TV, Adriano sits out Corinthians' title-winning match with party-induced diarrhoea, Dimitar Berbatov loses the Bulgarian player of the year award to a third division striker and the world laughs at an 'embarrassed' Manchester United.
Guillem Balague: Barca's Real Problem
The man from Oman cites an unusual playing inspiration and his devout Muslim faith as factors in his Premier League success.
Ali al-Habsi of Wigan Athletic is a goalkeeper with a difference.
Two years ago it was Rafa Benítez with his folded sheet of paper containing various "facts" about perceived Liverpool grievances. On Thursday in the same room Kenny Dalglish went one better, with a DVD display illustrating why Liverpool were more sinned against than sinning at Fulham on Monday, a match that earned the club a double dose of disciplinary trouble from the Football Association, with Luis Suárez accused of making an offensive gesture to home supporters and Liverpool charged with failure to control their players following the dismissal of Jay Spearing. "If anyone wants to see the truth it's on the screen," the Liverpool manager said.
Thursday, December 08, 2011
Ian Wright broke Arsenal's scoring record but he will not be alongside Herbert Chapman, Tony Adams and Thierry Henry.
Marco Streller's early strike set Basel on their way to a shock place in the knockout round of the Champions League on a night where both Manchester clubs crashed out. Alexander Frei's strike six minutes from time effectively sealed United's fate and, although Phil Jones scored late on, the 2-1 win was enough for Basel to qualify as runners-up in Group C. Roberto Mancini's Manchester City pulled off a fine 2-0 win over group winners Bayern Munich in Group A, but Napoli's win by the same score at Villarreal rendered City's result irrelevant. In a remarkable turnaround in Group D, Lyon joined group winners Real Madrid in the knockout stages after Bafetimbi Gomis scored four goals in a 7-1 win over Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia. There were more dramatic scenes in Group B where CSKA Moscow snatched a 2-1 win away to group winners Inter Milan, leapfrogging Trabzonspor and Lille to claim second place.
With no more competitive games for England before next summer's finals in Ukraine and Poland, Rooney would have missed the group stage of the tournament. Now he will miss the opening games against France and Sweden and will be available for the final group game against Ukraine in Donetsk.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Manchester City's desire to sever their ties with Carlos Tevez will see Milan make an opening offer to take him on loan for the rest of the season before paying €20m (£17.2m) to sign him next summer.
Milan are aware that City want a permanent transfer in the January window, but the Italian club are hoping to negotiate a compromise for a player who has been on strike since 8 November.
Having reached the Champions League knockout phase, the young Chelsea manager now faces critical challenges at home.
To Europa League: Valencia
To Europa League: Olympiacos
Winners: APOEL Nicosia
Runners-up: Zenit St. Petersburg
To Europa League: Porto
Runners-up: AC Milan
To Europa League: Plzeň
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Racing are a club adrift, who do not know who owns them, with no president and an owner who is absent.
Racing Santander: a club in debt, in administration and in big trouble.
Arjen Robben may be the most egocentric player in Germany, but the Dutch winger is back to his best and driving the league leaders' challenge at home and in Europe.
Troubled Roma manager stays true to his vision despite discord on the pitch, in the dressing room and in the stands.
Clint Dempsey has more money than he knows what to do with, a wife who has modeled swimwear and now a place in the record books.
Dempsey’s game-winning goal Monday not only sent Fulham past Liverpool, but also represented a milestone for the midfielder. The goal was Dempsey’s 37th in the English Premier League, which put him ahead of Brian McBride as the highest-scoring American of all-time in the toughest division on the planet. In soccer terms, he may be his nation’s greatest export ever.
Fulham 1 - 0 Liverpool
|Queens Park Rangers||14||4||4||6||16||15||25||-10|
|Wigan Athletic FC||14||2||3||9||9||12||28||-16|
Monday, December 05, 2011
While one of the Manchester rivals face elimination, the draw was kind for the Premier League's other leading clubs and, in a lucrative sense, equally so for some of their opponents from outside the top division. Chelsea will host financially troubled Portsmouth while non-league Tamworth will go to Everton and Cheltenham have a trip to Tottenham. Liverpool will play Southend or Oldham and Arsenal also have home advantage against Leeds United.
Alan Hansen: No matter what happens this week, Premier League's dominance of Champions League is over
BBC Brasil reporters Bruno Garcez and Rodrigo Durao Coelho recall an evening spent in his company.