Friday, May 18, 2012

2012 UEFA Champions League Final: Previews & Hype

Who: Bayern Munich vs. Chelsea
When: May 19, 2:45pm EDT
Where: Allianz Arena, Munich

Duncan White: Bayern court scandal and success in drama of FC Hollywood
David Lacey: Chelsea v Bayern Munich not really a tale of Anglo-German rivalry
Barney Ronay: Frank Lampard eager to lead Chelsea over final hurdle
Jupp Heynckes: Drogba a "great actor"


Will we see you in the Premier League next year?

Blackpool vs. West Ham

Grant Wahl: Bayern Munich: A Model Franchise

The annual Super Bowl of world soccer is finally here. Saturday's UEFA Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Chelsea (2:45 p.m. ET, FOX) may lack the sexiness of recent European finals -- neither team finished at the top of its own domestic league, after all -- but I still think this should be a highly entertaining contest. Why? For starters, Bayern will have plenty of incentive to attack on its home field, attempting to become the first team to win the European Cup at home since Inter in 1965. What's more, both teams will have a nearly full quiver of creative players. Of the seven players suspended on both teams for the final, all but one (Chelsea's Ramires) are defensive-minded. As long as Chelsea doesn't completely park the bus as it did against Barcelona (and I think Bayern will prevent that from happening with an early goal), this final will be a fun watch for the neutral. If you want to hear more about the final itself, you can check out's preview podcast, but for now I wanted to provide a bit more information on one of the finalists. Part of my goal in becoming a full-time soccer writer in 2010 was to learn more about the world's top clubs and present that to the U.S. audience. On my way to Madrid a while back for a story on José Mourinho I stopped for a few days in Munich. I ended up writing about Bayern's star midfielder, Bastian Schweinsteiger, but I also got an audience at Bayern's international media day with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. A former star forward for Bayern and the German national team (he was twice named European player of the year), Rummenigge, 56, is now the chairman of Bayern Munich and the powerful European Club Association. What makes Bayern Munich special? Here are some of the things I found interesting from our 90-minute round-table conversation (in which Rummenigge spoke fluent English):

AS Roma, Zaglebie Lubin to play at Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs' home ballpark, last hosted a football match when the then Chicago Sting played the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Friday MLS Forecast: Week 11 - Swapping names and locations

Rewind to 2001

It takes a special side to come back from the pain of losing a Champions League final; it takes an even greater one to win the competition just two years later. After the last-minute suffering caused by Manchester United in the unforgettable Champions League final in Barcelona in 1998-99, Bayern Munich had bounced right back and in 2001 met Valencia in the final in Milan. They would end a 25-year drought on penalties and finally ensure that German football was back on top of the European scene.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jonathan Wilson: Suspensions leave Bayern, Chelsea with lineup quandaries for Champions League final

David and Gary ponder the situation...

It's rare to approach a game of the magnitude of Saturday's Champions League final with so many massive questions about the lineups of both sides. Four Chelsea players -- defenders John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic, and midfielders Ramires and Raul Meireles -- will be suspended for the final; Bayern Munich will be without three (defensive midfielder Luiz Gustavo, along with defenders Holger Badstuber and David Alaba). And that means any assessment of what might happen is going to be dotted with ifs and maybes.

Final day of EPL season seen by 1.35 million in US

A total of 1,348,000 viewers tuned into the U.S. television coverage of the final day of the Premier League season, an increase of 72 percent over 2011. U.S. networks televised all 10 games Sunday on seven English-language networks, two Spanish-language networks and three Internet streams, up from coverage on two networks each in English and Spanish plus the Internet last year. The largest rating was for Manchester City's title-winning 3-2 victory over Queens Park Rangers, which was seen by an average 600,000 viewers on ESPN2 and 189,000 on ESPN Deportes, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Paul Marshall in France

It is appropriate that on the day François Hollande, France's freshly-elected president, was picking key members of the team that will help him lead the country over the next five years, 'Le President' of Les Bleus was selecting his squad for Euro 2012. Monsieur Hollande would barely have had the opportunity to discover where Nicolas Sarkozy had hidden the Elysées Palace remote control when he moved into the presidential digs in Paris on Tuesday before Laurent Blanc made public the full 26 names of his preliminary squad for this summer's European championship.

Francois Hollande and his companion Valerie Trierweiler...

Goalkeepers: Cedric Carrasso (Bordeaux), Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Marseille).

Defenders: Gael Clichy (Manchester City), Mathieu Debuchy (Lille), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Philippe Mexes (AC Milan), Adil Rami (Valencia), Anthony Reveillere (Lyon), Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (Montpellier).

Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle), Alou Diarra (Marseille) Yoann Gourcuff (Lyon), Yann M'Vila (Rennes), Florent Malouda (Chelsea), Marvin Martin (Sochaux), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Samir Nasri (Manchester City).

Forwards: Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Montpellier), Jeremy Menez (Paris Saint-Germain), Loic Remy (Marseille), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille).

Hodgson Euro racism fears, Walcott family to stay away

Walcott's brother Ashley revealed on Twitter that he and his father Don would not be following England during their group matches in Kiev and Donetsk next month because of concerns for their safety.

"Unfortunately my dad and I have taken the decision not to travel to the Ukraine because of the fear of possible racist attacks confrontations (sic) ..." Walcott wrote on the micro-blogging site.

"Somethings aren't worth risking, but begs the question why hold a competition of this magnitude in a place that can not police itself for foreigners of any creed to feel safe, but I'll be watching every minute.

Henry Winter: Roy Hodgson should use Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from the start of England's Euro 2012 campaign

Away from the centre-backlash over John Terry’s controversial inclusion, the England squad selected by Roy Hodgson is largely a parade of familiar faces given an adrenalin shot by the exciting inclusion of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Manchester United's release of Michael Owen continues the striker's long decline

Michael Owen has had storied career and played for some of the world's biggest clubs, but it has not gone entirely to plan. Telegraph Sport charts the dimming of his light.

Liverpool Sack King Kenny

Kenny Dalglish has been sacked as Liverpool manager after finishing eighth in the Premier League. Dalglish, 61, led the club to Carling Cup glory and the FA Cup final, but could not seal a Champions League spot.

Chris Bascombe: Dalglish Pays Price for League Failure
Phil McNulty: Liverpool Need to Move Quickly
Richard Jolly: The End of Sentiment at Liverpool
David Conn: Has Fenway Taken on Too Much at Liverpool?
Andy Hunter: No More Excuses for Henry

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Raphael Honigstein: Bayern's All-Time Greatest XI

In the inner sanctum of the Bayern Munich players' quarters, on a wall next to the communal dining areas, there's a giant black-white picture with photos and red letters. They spell out the clubs unofficial mantra Mia san Mia (We are who we are) and a number of its defining ideals. Full of confidence, loyal, technically brilliant, innovative, effective, focused, attacking, tactically flexible. In between those big words there are snap shots of 11 men who don't need any names or introduction, Bayern's all-star team:

MLS Week 10 Power Rankings: Houston stadium's winning debut

Houston's homecoming, Freddy Adu's action-packed half and more from Week 10 in MLS:

Euro 2012: 10 to watch at finals in Poland and Ukraine, in pictures

Dominic Fifield: Five talking points about Roy Hodgson's England squad

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can provide the X factor; the inclusion of John Terry represents a risk; Andy Carroll's raw promise deserves recognition; and Phil Jones is a vital utility man.

Paul Wilson: A Premier League season of surprises – and probably more to come

There was more to 2011-12 than its dramatic denouement, extended by Joey Barton, who was just one of the campaign's many controversial figures. Some storylines are not over yet …

Chandler turns down U.S. for World Cup qualifiers

Defender Timmy Chandler has declined an invitation to attend the United States' training camp ahead of its opening qualifiers next month for the 2014 World Cup. The 22-year-old, a regular starter for Nuremberg in the Bundesliga, made his U.S. national team debut in March 2011 and has eight international appearances. He holds American and German passports and because he has not yet played in a competitive match, he still could switch to Germany's national team.

Obama kids Beckham about his age, underwear line

Obama welcomed Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy to the White House Tuesday to celebrate their third Major League Soccer Cup. The president joked that the star-studded Galaxy, led by Beckham, midfielder Landon Donovan and forward Robbie Keane, are the "Miami Heat of soccer.''

Euro 2012: Some Squads

Manchester United winger Nani and Chelsea midfielder Raul Meireles have been included in Portugal's 23-man squad for Euro 2012.

Tottenham defender Younes Kaboul has missed out on a place in France's Euro 2012 squad because of a knee injury.

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has been selected as part of Italy's provisional 32-man squad for Euro 2012.

Czech Republic:
Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech and Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky have been included in Czech Republic's provisional squad for Euro 2012.

John Brewin: Hodgson adds to England malaise

A Downing: The effect that Roy Hodgson's 23-man selection has had on any national sense of expectation. All bets are off, quite frankly. Perhaps it's better to be underwhelmed rather than hopeful. However, it would feel more comfortable if the headline selection were not John Terry. He is English football's teflon don. No matter what is thrown at him, he glides on by, seemingly without care for actions nor their consequences. In selecting him, Hodgson has possibly opened the door on a whole world - or at least continent - of pain. Rio Ferdinand is the latest collateral damage resulting from the Terry phenomena. Can there be a player as vilified as the Chelsea skipper? Yet he still commands loyalty and respect among those in the game. Tabloid tales, court cases and putsches against managers litter his career but still he remains the go-to guy for national managers.

England squad:

Goalkeepers - Joe Hart, Robert Green, John Ruddy.

Defenders - Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Glen Johnson, Phil Jones, Joleon Lescott, John Terry.

Midfielders - Gareth Barry, Stewart Downing, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Scott Parker, Theo Walcott, Ashley Young.

Strikers - Andy Carroll, Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck.

Standby - Jack Butland, Phil Jagielka, Jordan Henderson, Adam Johnson, Daniel Sturridge.

Uli Hesse in Germany

The final week of the professional domestic season, or at least the week following the most recent of these reports, began... no, not with the cup final but with the relegation/promotion play-offs in the two top-flights.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sid Lowe in Spain

Rayo Vallecano and Granada survived but Villarreal were relegated on a dramatic end to La Liga.

Mayhem in Vallecas as the Yellow Submarine is sunk without trace.

The Guardian's Premier League Review

The Guardian's football writers pick their best goals, greatest games and biggest gripes from the season.

English Premier League 2011-2012; that was the season that was: in pictures

Jim White: Just like Carlos Tevez to rain on Manchester City's parade of togetherness with tasteless banner

Printed on the sky-blue bus carrying Manchester City’s players on a victorious tour round the streets of the town in which they ply their trade was one word: “Together”.

Sam Allardyce to sue Blackburn manager Steve Kean over YouTube video slur

Sam Allardyce is suing Steve Kean and considering the prospect of taking legal action against Blackburn after the Rovers manager's astonishing attack on YouTube, Telegraph Sport can reveal.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

Juventus fans wave tearful goodbye to the forward who has given 19 years of service to the new – and unbeaten – Serie A champions.

Juventus say emotional farewell to their beloved Alessandro Del Piero.

The Trawler: Hammers look to nail top four

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.

MLS: 5 things we learned in week ten

• 60,000 see Montreal thwart LA Galaxy despite Beckham
• Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City slumping
• New York Red Bulls top in the east

And More

Americans Abroad

For the most part, another season is in the books for Americans playing abroad. Sure, some leagues around the world operate on a different schedule, and a couple will carry on throughout the summer, but with the UEFA Champions League final on tap this weekend and most major leagues involving Americans on break until next season, it's a good time to dole out a few superlatives from this season along with taking a look at the most pressing storylines involving Americans ahead of the summer transfer season:

Raphael Hongstein in Germany

Does Bayern's 5-2 defeat in the German cup final hurt their chances of Champions League success, or was it just a trick?

Bayern Munich shaken to the core by Borussia Dortmund humiliation.

Tim Vickery in South America

With his dramatic title-winning goal for Manchester City, Sergio Aguero paid off a fair chunk of his reported £38m transfer fee - some of which filtered down from Atletico Madrid to Independiente in Argentina, the club which produced him.

Producing such a magnificent striker has already done wonders for Independiente's finances. The money they received for selling him to Spain was used to rebuild their entire stadium, the Estadio Libertadores de America - named after South America's equivalent of the Champions League, which they have won a record seven times.

The Copa Libertadores is not only close to the heart of Independiente, it is a huge deal in Argentina nationally.

Louise Taylor: Ten big issues for the summer in the Premier League

What to expect in the close season from Manchester City's next spending spree to what to do with Joey Barton.

Ten Big Issues

Kevin McCarra: A Premier League of ups, downs and outs leaves a legacy of flaws

The Champions League finalists finish sixth in the league, Manchester United lose an eight-point lead and Manchester City lose five away games but end up winners.

Alex McLeish sacked as Aston Villa manager

Aston Villa have sacked manager Alex McLeish after 11 months in charge. The 53-year-old former Scotland manager said his farewells to the club's staff on Monday morning. Villa have endured a poor Premier League campaign, finishing just above the relegation zone after winning only four of 19 games at home. McLeish was an unpopular appointment as he arrived from Birmingham City last year but poor results and performances worsened his relationship with fans.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

Juventus wasted no time prodding the hornets’ nest. No sooner had they been confirmed as Serie A champions, than staff began handing out bottles of champagne labelled No. 30 - a figure representing how many league titles the club would have won, had two of them not been revoked as a result of the Calciopoli scandal. Last Wednesday saw an enormous Scudetto badge pasted onto the Juventus Stadium bearing three gold stars – each one representing 10 titles.

Phil Ball in Spain

I can't quite remember when it began, but final days haven't always been like this. Watching the summing up of the final day on Spain's La Sexta channel on Sunday evening, with the programme switching giddily from ground to ground, you'd have been forgiven for not knowing who had just won the league title and who had just saved themselves from the gallows, pardoned by a sweating messenger at the eleventh hour. But such are the stakes now. Zaragoza's justifiable delight at remaining in the top-flight after trailing the rest by 12 points at one stage resulted in scenes in Getafe resembling a Champions League victory. At Vallecas, where both Rayo Vallecano and Granada both appeared to be relegated as the 88th minute ticked by, Radamel Falcao - the man of the week - scored for Atletico at Villarreal, and two minutes later the veteran Raul Tamudo, historically a specialist on these occasions, scored for Rayo and sent Villarreal back to the Segunda Division, from whence they came in the 1999-2000 season. In many ways, it was the most shocking of the events from a predictably dramatic afternoon, and most of it happened in Madrid.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fire/Sporks 5/13

Grazzini penalty, Oduro celebrates his winner with Anibaba.

Monday MLS Breakdown

Another turning point for Freddy Adu after controversial dismissal against New York.

Adu must push aside his inconsistencies and find some way to replicate his performance from Sunday's 3-2 home defeat to New York, plus a few tidbits from other Week 10 matches.

Ruud van Nistelrooy Retires

Former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, 35, has announced his retirement from football. The Dutchman had been playing with Spanish side Malaga but endured a difficult season, scoring only five times in 35 games.

Spain: La Liga Weekend Review

Real Madrid capped its dominant Spanish league campaign with a 4-1 win over Mallorca on Sunday to give the champions a record 100 points this season, while Villarreal and Sporting Gijon joined already relegated Racing Santander in being demoted to the second division. Malaga, which had made a ?70-million ($90-million) overhaul of its squad this season, saw its investment finally pay off when it beat Sporting Gijon 1-0 through Jose Rondon's header to secure a fourth-place finish. It will join Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia in the Champions League for the first time ever.


Italy: Serie A Weekend Review

Alessandro del Piero scored in his last league appearance for Juventus as the newly crowned Serie A champion defeated Atalanta 3-1 on Sunday to become only the second Italian side to win the title by going the whole season unbeaten. It was also emotional at San Siro as AC Milan bid farewell to club stalwarts Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso and Filippo Inzaghi as well as Mark van Bommel. Inzaghi scored to help Milan beat Novara 2-1. Udinese secured a spot in the Champions League qualifying stages for the second year in a row, winning 2-0 at Catania. Lazio, Napoli and Inter Milan will play in the Europa League.


England: Joey Barton attacks Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker on Twitter after Match of the Day criticism

Fresh from elbowing Carlos Tevez during QPR's 3-2 defeat against Manchester City, Joey Barton has taken to Twitter to vent his anger at BBC pundit Alan Shearer and presenter Gary Lineker.

England: Premier League Weekend Review, Reports, Analyses, Insanity, Fallout, Team of the Week, Final Table

With Manchester City's dream dying in the embers of an exhilarating Premier League season Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero wrote themselves into club folklore with stoppage-time goals to seal a breath-taking 3-2 victory over Queen Park Rangers on Sunday and snatch their first title for 44 years. In a tension-wracked climax to one of the most dramatic title battles for decades, City looked doomed to failure when trailing 2-1 to relegation-haunted QPR while illustrious neighbours Manchester United were closing in on a 1-0 win at Sunderland and a 20th championship. Away from the euphoria of Manchester there was heartbreak for Bolton Wanderers who drew 2-2 at Stoke City and were relegated with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers. Arsenal claimed third spot and a Champions League place with a 3-2 win at West Bromwich Albion. Tottenham Hotspur were fourth after a 2-0 win at home to Fulham and Newcastle United ended fifth after losing 3-1 at Everton. Tottenham face an anxious wait to see if they get another crack at Champions League football as victory for Chelsea in this year's final against Bayern Munich would mean they take a spot in next season's competition at Tottenham's expense.

Manchester City 3 - 2 Queens Park Rangers
Martin Rogers: One for the ages
James Lawton: Aguero delivers on his promise

Sunderland 0 - 1 Manchester United

West Bromwich Albion 2 - 3 Arsenal

Tottenham 2 - 0 Fulham

Chelsea 2 - 1 Blackburn

Stoke City 2 - 2 Bolton

Swansea City 1 - 0 Liverpool

Everton 3 - 1 Newcastle

Norwich City 2 - 0 Aston Villa

Pos. Team Pl W D L GF GA +/- Pts
1 Manchester City 38 28 5 5 93 29 64 89
2 Manchester United 38 28 5 5 89 33 56 89
3 Arsenal 38 21 7 10 74 49 25 70
4 Tottenham Hotspur 38 20 9 9 66 41 25 69
5 Newcastle United 38 19 8 11 56 51 5 65
6 Chelsea 38 18 10 10 65 46 19 64
7 Everton 38 15 11 12 50 40 10 56
8 Liverpool 38 14 10 14 47 40 7 52
9 Fulham 38 14 10 14 48 51 -3 52
10 West Bromwich Albion 38 13 8 17 45 52 -7 47
11 Swansea City 38 12 11 15 44 51 -7 47
12 Norwich City 38 12 11 15 52 66 -14 47
13 Sunderland 38 11 12 15 45 46 -1 45
14 Stoke City 38 11 12 15 36 53 -17 45
15 Wigan Athletic 38 11 10 17 42 62 -20 43
16 Aston Villa 38 7 17 14 37 53 -16 38
17 Queens Park Rangers 38 10 7 21 43 66 -23 37
18 Bolton Wanderers 38 10 6 22 46 77 -31 36
19 Blackburn Rovers 38 8 7 23 48 78 -30 31
20 Wolverhampton Wanderers 38 5 10 23 40 82 -42 25