Friday, June 01, 2012

The Joy of Six: European Championship Memories

From Denmark's fairytale win in 1992 to a golden goal winner, The Guardian writers share their fondest moments from the tournament.

Raphael Honigstein's Euro 2012 Preview: Netherlands

The Netherlands came mighty close at the 2010 World Cup -- and quite a few experts believe Bert van Marwijk's team can go one better this year. The starting lineup is virtually unchanged from two years ago.

Whether that's a good or bad thing is largely a matter of opinion. If anything, both the strengths and weaknesses of the Dutch seem more pronounced this time. Going forward, "Oranje" certainly looks better than ever.

Scoring 37 goals in 10 qualification games would suggest that the "negative and ultra-brutal" tag that the team earned after the final in Johannesburg was over-simplistic and inaccurate.

Chelsea gear up for US tour by playing American football and baseball

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Friday's Rumours


Jack Lang in Brazil: Ronaldinho out of form, out of pocket

"You're not paying my brother," exclaimed Assis, sibling and agent of a certain Ronaldinho, as he pushed a trolley full of merchandise towards the exit of the Flamengo club shop. "So I'm not paying either." An hour and a half later, after frantic discussions with Fla's director of finance Michel Levy, Assis left the store with 25 free shirts - the number to which Levy was entitled through his role at the club. Brilliantly, this didn't quite satisfy the 41-year-old Assis, who grabbed - and proceeded to pay for - two towels emblazoned with his brother's image before storming out.

If this story sounds apocryphal, you don't know Flamengo Football Club. The Rio de Janeiro outfit - the best-supported team in Brazil - has become known for this sort of kitchen sink drama in recent times. This year, however, has been particularly fraught, and Ronaldinho has been at the centre of it all.

Friday MLS Forecast

Eight MLS sides fell at the first Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup hurdle this week and sparked an uproar in the process, plus a look at the brief look at the lone match in Week 13.

French star Thuram working to battle racism in soccer and society

Five years ago, to illustrate the development of mankind, scientists at the Musée de L'Homme in Paris chose three human skulls: the fossil of a generic Cro-Magnon; the cranium of philosopher René Descartes; and a facsimile of the strikingly active and wide-ranging brain of Lilian Thuram, the Guadeloupe-born defender and longtime captain of the French national soccer team. Thuram helped lead France to its first World Cup title in 1998 and the European championship two years later. If it's possible to become even more prominent after exploits of that scale, Thuram has tried his best to do so since stepping down from les bleus in 2008 as the most-capped player in French history. Now 40, Thuram is an activist, educator, public intellectual and philosopher. He serves on France's Council on Social Integration. His Fondation Lilian Thuram has developed a curriculum for anti-racist education. His '10 book, Mes Etoiles Noires: De Lucy a Barack Obama (My Black Stars: From Lucy to Barack Obama) is part of his larger effort to bring the stories of black role models to francophone readers. Most recently he curated an award-winning exhibition at the Musee du Quai Branly, the ethnographic museum in Paris, called Human Zoos: The Invention of the Savage, which runs through June 3.

Phil McNulty on Euro 2004: When Otto Rehhagel's Greece were crowned kings

Wayne Rooney's emergence as a world star may have captured England's imagination at Euro 2004 - but Lisbon was transformed into the court of "King Otto".

Brendan Rodgers was our first choice, insists Liverpool chairman Tom Werner, as new Anfield manager unveiled

Liverpool chairman Tom Werner insists Brendan Rodgers was "our first choice and the right choice" after the Northern Irishman was officially unveiled as the club's new manager this morning.

Liverpool's new Anfield stadium is tale of lost years and lost homes

Liverpool's hardening plan not to build their interminably mooted new stadium on Stanley Park but instead to expand Anfield in a fashion eerily similar to a scrapped plan from 1999 might be darkly funny, were it not a tale of lost years, hope and money. Anfield has become a monument not only to Premier League football and a grand club's ambition to keep up with its rivals but also, sadly, to spectacular inequality. Outside the walls of the ground in which footballers play for multimillionaires' salaries, for a club owned principally by John W Henry, a billionaire in Boston, people are living amid dereliction and decline approaching the country's grimmest.

Euro 2012 KO for Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard has been ruled out of England’s European Championship campaign due to a thigh injury. Lampard, 33, pulled up during a training session on Wednesday and was booked in for a scan. The results have confirmed a tear that has ruled him out of this summer’s tournament.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Jonathan Wilson's Euro 2012 Preview: Greece

Greece went 24 years from its first qualification before its next appearance in the final stages of the European Championship but, since its shock victory in Portugal in 2004, it has been ever-present in the finals. Otto Rehhagel, the coach who oversaw that triumph, finally left in 2010 to be replaced by the Portuguese manager Fernando Santos, named Greek coach of the last decade for his work with Panathinaikos, AEK and PAOK, but the method hasn't much changed. Greece remains a solid, unspectacular side that gets results by attrition, something clearly seen in the 2-0 home victory over Croatia in qualification that effectively secured the top spot in the group.

England coach Gary Neville says WAGs circus will not repeated at Euro 2012

As with this summer, six years ago, England opted to base themselves in an accessible location for a major tournament, the rather genteel spa resort of Baden-Baden, close to the Black Forest.

However, England's presence was completely overshadowed by that of their glamorous wives and girlfriends, who became a magnet for photographers and a massive distraction.

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Thursday's Rumours



Euro 2000: The French Revolution

They guy on the left made the Team of the Tournament, by the way...

Euro 2000 was awash with orange, but ultimately the tournament was all about Les Bleus. The streets and stadiums of the Netherlands, co-hosts along with Belgium, were dominated by the brightly adorned hordes of the Dutch Oranje Army, but on the pitch Roger Lemerre's France were dominant. Having won the World Cup on their own turf two years previously, the French came into Euro 2000 with a single aim: to set a football precedent by adding the Henri Delaunay Trophy to their global crown.

They did not disappoint.

International Friendly Reports & Analyses: USA 1 - 4 Brazil

Brazil had its way with the U.S. soccer team, with the stars in the famous yellow jerseys dribbling past the Americans and generally pushing them around for the first half-hour. Neymar had another dazzling night against the Americans, scoring one goal and setting up two more to leads the five-time World Cup champions to a 4-1 victory in an exhibition Wednesday night.

Grant Wahl: Three Thoughts

99 years of the US Open Cup

The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup is one of the oldest domestic cup competitions in the world. We look at its 99-year history and review the third round action, as MLS teams enter - and some become the victims of classic cup giant-killing.

Richard Jolly: Rodgers Dethrones The King

One of the Anfield faithful's most endearing traits is their willingness to acknowledge underdogs' excellence. On Guy Fawkes Night, even as an inability to win at home was starting to become a source of frustration, they applauded Swansea off the pitch after a stalemate that doubled up as an exhibition of passing. November spawned a manager for Liverpool. Brendan Rodgers' imminent appointment is the consequence of many factors but taking four points off Liverpool while preventing them scoring (and, at times, seeing the ball) has to rank among them.

Uli Hesse in Germany

In Germany, there has been a lot of talk over the past few months about the Golden Generation. Not about the Portuguese team starring Rui Costa, Joao Pinto and Luis Figo, for which this phrase was originally coined. No, people are talking about our own Golden Generation - the current German team under coach Joachim Low.

Quite a few are even comparing the side to the legendary 1972 team, generally regarded as the best German team of all time. Exactly 40 years ago, the side defeated hosts Belgium in the semi-finals before demolishing the Soviet Union in the final to win the European Championships for the first time.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Euro 2012: Russia set to be bigger danger zone than Poland or Ukraine

These events are supposed to be summer carnivals, festivals of football, yet supporters keep being sent to far-flung destinations with serious security problems.

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Wednesday's Rumours


North of the Border: To Lose Face

North of the Border looks at Scotland's loss of face in the USA, the sorry mess at Rangers, and the grim reality of relegation.

International Friendly Previews: USA vs. Brazil

Landover, hon...!
Who: United States vs. Brazil
When: 8pm, EDT
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland
U.S. TV: ESPN2, ESPN3, Telefutura

Euro 1996: When Football Came Home

The slogan for Euro '96 was "when football comes home" and, for one glorious month, it felt like it actually had. Ultimately, England failed to triumph on their own turf but that did not stop the tournament from being a magical experience for their players and fans, leaving a lingering feel-good factor that has been sorely lacking for them in most major finals since.

Brendan Rodgers to be confirmed as Liverpool manager in next 24 hours after talks with Swansea

Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers is meeting with Liverpool this afternoon as they seek to finalise the appointment of Kenny Dalglish's successor.

Euro 2012: Final Squads for Spain, Holland, and Portugal


Goalkeepers: Casillas (Real Madrid), Valdes (Barcelona), Reina (Liverpool)

Defenders: Alba (Valencia), Albiol, Arbeloa, Ramos (all Real Madrid), Juanfran (Atlético Madrid), Piqué (Barcelona), Martínez (Athletic Bilbao);

Midfielders: Alonso (Real Madrid), Silva (Manchester City), Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Fàbregas (all Barcelona), Cazorla (Málaga), Navas (Sevilla), Mata (Chelsea);

Forwards: Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), Torres (Chelsea), Negredo (Sevilla), Pedro (Barcelona).


Goalkeepers: Maarten Stekelenburg (Roma), Tim Krul (Newcastle United), Michel Vorm (Swansea City).

Defenders: Khalid Boulahrouz (VFB Stuttgart), Wilfred Bouma (PSV Eindhoven), John Heitinga (Everton), Joris Mathijsen (Málaga), Ron Vlaar (Feyenoord), Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax), Jetro Willems (PSV Eindhoven).

Midfielders: Ibrahim Afellay (Barcelona), Mark van Bommel (PSV Eindhoven), Nigel de Jong (Manchester City), Stijn Schaars (Sporting), Wesley Sneijder (Inter), Kevin Strootman (PSV Eindhoven), Rafael van der Vaart (Tottenham Hotspur).

Forwards: Klaas Jan Huntelaar (Schalke), Luuk de Jong (FC Twente), Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool), Luciano Narsingh (Heerenveen), Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich).


Goalkeepers: Eduardo (Benfica), Rui Patrício (Sporting), Beto (CFR Cluj).

Defenders: João Pereira (Sporting), Fábio Coentrão (Real Madrid), Bruno Alves (Zenit St Petersburg), Rolando (Porto), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), Pepe (Real Madrid), Miguel Lopes (Braga).

Midfielders: Raúl Meireles (Chelsea), Miguel Veloso (Genoa), João Moutinho (Porto), Rúben Micael (Real Zaragoza), Hugo Viana (Braga), Custódio (Braga).

Forwards: Nani (Manchester United), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas), Silvestre Varela (Porto), Hélder Postiga (Real Zaragoza), Nélson Oliveira (Benfica).

U.S. Open Cup: RailHawks beat Galaxy

Brian Shriver scored in the 88th minute, giving the Carolina RailHawks a 2-1 upset over the MLS champion Los Angeles Galaxy in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night. Shriver's header from the right side got through goalie Bill Gaudette. The loss was the Galaxy's eighth straight (0-6-2). The RailHawks are winless (0-5-4) in the North American Soccer League this season. Pat Noonan scored on an assist from Chad Barrett in the 38th minute for LA. But Ty Shipalane tied it in the 75th minute from 5 yards on the right side, assisted by Zach Schilawski. The Galaxy, which won Cups in 2001 and 2005, were without David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.

Other U.S. Open Cup Results

Italy's Ugly Image

Adam Digby on the latest Italian scandal and why history suggests it might not be a bad thing for national side.

John Brewin: Hazard warning for the transfer window

The Eden Hazard saga is thankfully at an end. His public conducting of his move via Twitter made this a thoroughly modern transfer of the 'look at me' age in which we live. Perhaps his next transfer will be carried out in the televisual style of Lebron James. Saturday's friendly at Wembley between England and Belgium may even see him lead the news agenda ahead of the home team's last match before a major tournament. Judging on recent form, young M. Hazard will rather enjoy it that way.

To set aside Hazard's X-Factor antics, the first megadeal of the new transfer window can actually tell us something of the machinations we can expect in the summer of fun that awaits us. In paying an estimated £32 million, Roman Abramovich's interest in transfer business has been rekindled. With Hulk said to be on his way too, it seems that the Russian wants more success, and perhaps this time delivered in more style.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

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Tuesday's Rumours


Sid Lowe in Spain

From an epic two-horse race to the joy of Levante, it's time for the annual end-of-season Spanish football awards.

It's the Sids 2012! The complete review of the La Liga season.

Tim Vickery in South America

From Roberto Carlos and Juan Sebastian Veron, through Roque Santa Cruz, Ronaldinho and Kaka, to Lionel Messi (with Argentina's Under-20s) and Sergio Aguero, to the likes of Neymar today, the biggest privilege South American football has given me is a chance to catch the early steps of players on the way to global stardom. It is like getting a sneak preview of the future.

Estadio Centenario: Montevideo, Uruguay

But my area of action gives me another great, almost opposite pleasure - the opportunity to breathe the air of the game's history, to watch matches in settings that have, in the past, played host to the highest level of football the world had seen.

David Hytner: Eden Hazard is Abramovich's first step in rebuilding of Chelsea

The Russian is desperate for his team to perform with panache and the midfielder will be at the heart of the new set-up.

'I'm joining Chelsea', says £40m Lille playmaker Eden Hazard

The Belgium international Eden Hazard claimed last night he would sign for Chelsea, making one of Europe's most highly rated young players the second signing in what promises to be another summer of major acquisitions by Roman Abramovich. Having promised he would disclose the identity of the club he was planning to join earlier in the day, Hazard, 21, tweeted at 8.40pm last night he had chosen the "Champions League winners". There was no official confirmation from Chelsea last night that they had reached agreement with Hazard's club, Lille, over a transfer fee that is expected to be in the region of £40m.

Americans Abroad: Transfer Rumor Roundup

A look at the latest on the transfer front for several U.S. internationals.

MLS Week 12: Toronto finally gets off the mark; rookies impressing

From? Louisville...

With most of the attention of U.S. soccer fans firmly on the national team, a wild Week 12 in MLS may have flown under the radar. Here's some of what you might have missed:

Euro 2012: Final Squads for France, Germany, Italy


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

Defenders: Gaël Clichy (Manchester City), Mathieu Debuchy (Lille), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Philippe Mexes (Milan), Adil Rami (Valencia), Anthony Réveillère (Lyon).

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

Forwards: Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Montpellier), Jérémy Ménez (Paris St-Germain), Franck Ribéry (Bayern Munich), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille).


Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Tim Wiese (Werder Bremen), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hanover 96).

Defenders: Holger Badstuber (Bayern Munich), Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Benedikt Hoewedes (Schalke 04), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal), Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund).

Midfielders: Lars Bender (Bayer Leverkusen), Mario Götze (Borussia Dortmund), Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid), Marco Reus (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Andre Schürrle (Bayer Leverkusen), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich).

Forwards: Mario Gomez (Bayern Munich), Miroslav Klose (Lazio), Lukas Podolski (Cologne).


Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Morgan De Sanctis (Napoli), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris St-Germain).

Defenders: Ignazio Abate (Milan), Federico Balzaretti (Palermo), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Christian Maggio (Napoli), Angelo Ogbonna (Torino).

Midfielders: Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Alessandro Diamanti (Bologna), Emanuele Giaccherini (Juventus), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina), Thiago Motta (Paris St Germain), Antonio Nocerino (Milan), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus).

Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Manchester City), Fabio Borini (Roma), Antonio Cassano (Milan), Antonio Di Natale (Udinese), Sebastian Giovinco (Parma).

Euro 2012 turning into PR disaster for Ukraine as racism fears scare off fans

Sol Campbell tells Britons: 'Stay at home', EU leaders shun Kiev over its politics and Uefa attacks rip-off hotel prices in host cities.

Sam Kelly in South America

As Europe winds down for the club season and gears up for the European Championship, football in South America is just getting to the business stage of the season. In Brazil, the national championship started last weekend; elsewhere, such as here in Argentina, the title race (and River Plate's push for promotion) enters its final stretch, with three rounds of matches left after this weekend. And right at the top of the club game, the identities of the semi-finalists in the Copa Libertadores are now known. It's a tasty semi-final lineup, too, featuring both defending champions Santos and Universidad de Chile, winners of last year's Copa Sudamericana, the region's second tier continental competition, being joined by two giants of their domestic leagues. Santos take on fellow Brazilians Corinthians, the most-supported club in the continent's largest city. Universidad de Chile, more succinctly known as 'La U', have to get past the club who dominated the competition in the early years of the current century; Boca Juniors.

Phil Ball in Spain

In the end it was an enjoyable Spanish cup final, if not a spectacular game. Barcelona's first-half performance saw to that, and Athletic just didn't have the necessary artillery to turn the game around. It's as if they peaked when they defeated Manchester United, and have never really got back to that level of performance. Their league campaign finished poorly, and they lost both their finals - but of course they should be commended for having reached them. Pep Guardiola said as much, in that generous way he has with other teams, in the post-match press-conference. It's been a memorable season for them, their first under 'El Loco' Marcelo Bielsa, and maybe their last, since there is still no definitive news as to what the great enigma has decided to do next season.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Spain: Copa del Rey Final Report

Athletic Bilbao 0 - 3 Barcelona

Five things we learned from the Euro 2012 warm-up matches

Poor Per was poor against Switzerland...

Michael Carrick should be in the England squad, Shane Long must start for Ireland and Germany look brittle without Bayern.

Five Things

Italy's Euro 2012 camp hit by dawn police raid

Police officers swooped on the Italian national football team's training camp at dawn on Monday to search the room of defender Domenico Criscito, and inform him he is being investigated in a widening match-fixing scandal. At the same time as the visit, which came just days before the start of the European football championships, police arrested 19 people, including 11 players, among them Stefano Mauri, the captain of leading Serie A side Lazio, and placed Antonio Conte, the manager of champions Juventus, under investigation.

James Riach: Juventus's Antonio Conte investigation evokes memories of Calciopoli

International Friendly Report & Analyses: USA 5 - 1 Scotland

Apparently, the desire still burns in Landon Donovan. Days after wondering publicly how much longer he will have the hunger to play at an elite level, Donovan scored his first international hat trick in five years, leading the Americans over Scotland 5-1 in an exhibition game Saturday night.

Player Ratings

Grant Wahl: Three Thoughts

Off the Ball

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, Montpellier's 65-year-old owner acquires a bright orange mohawk after his club win Ligue 1, Arsenal's stars use 'John Terry' as code for an ugly girl and the England team are to be issued with official 'team pants' for Euro 2012.