Friday, June 08, 2012

Euro 2012: Weekend Match Schedule

Netherlands vs. Denmark at 12pm EDT on ESPN
Germany vs. Portugal at 2:45pm on ESPN

Spain vs. Italy at 12pm EDT on ESPN
Ireland vs. Croatia at 2:45pm EDT on ESPN

World Cup 2014 Qualifying Previews

Who: United States vs. Antigua and Barbuda
When: 7pm EDT
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida

Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa: What Euro 2012 means to Poland

Lech Walesa talks to Jonathan Wilson about how football helped to bring down the communist government in Poland.

Patrick Vieira: Laurent Blanc has reunited France's revolutionary rabble after 'really bad' 2010 World Cup

When I played in the France team that won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, Laurent Blanc was always one of those guys who would command instant respect and admiration from the younger players like me.

The Joy of Six: Classic European Championship Matches

The Guardian's selection includes a nine-goal semi, English humiliation, Danish Dynamite – and the best international of the 21st century.

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Euro 2012: Friday's Previews

The Greek fans need something to celebrate...
Poland vs. Greece
12:00pm EDT
Jeff Carlisle: Expect a cagey match

Russia vs. Czech Republic
2:45pm EDT

Euro 2012: Holland players subjected to racist abuse at training session

Euro 2012 was plunged into its first racism controversy after the black players in the Holland squad were subjected to monkey chants during an open practice session in the same city where England will also invite the public to watch them train on Friday. Several hundred people targeted players such as Nigel de Jong and Gregory van der Wiel when 25,000 spectators attended the Dutch practice session at the Stadion Miejski, the home of Wisla Krakow. The players, on the instructions of the captain, Mark van Bommel, responded by moving their training drills to the other side of the ground. "It is a real disgrace especially after getting back from Auschwitz [the Dutch squad had visited the concentration camp on Wednesday] that you are confronted with this," Van Bommel said. "We will take it up with Uefa and if it happens at a match we will talk to the referee and ask him to take us off the field."

Richard Williams: Michel Platini and Uefa's continued reluctance to use their power for the public good makes them accessories to a crime

Friday MLS Forecast

The Forecast discusses Toronto FC's decision to part ways with Aron Winter and promote Paul Mariner to head coach and director of soccer operations on Thursday afternoon.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

First XI: European Championship Heroes

As Euro 2012 approaches, we pick out a selection of heroes from previous tournaments.

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Thursday's Rumours



Euro 2012: Can Poland deliver in home event?

After the failures of Austria and Switzerland to progress beyond the group stages of Euro 2008, this summer's tournament could do with a strong performance from its co-hosts. In Poland, the public is anxious as the country prepares itself for the scrutiny of Europe's good and great. Uefa president Michel Platini publicly underlined Ukraine's much-publicised difficulties with accommodation and transport infrastructure as an area of concern last year. In contrast, the February inauguration of the new 58,500-capacity National Stadium in the Polish city of Warsaw with a friendly against Portugal was a success. Yet Poland has had its own teething problems.

Raphael Honigstein's Euro 2012 Preview: England

England is currently ranked sixth in the FIFA world rankings, but you wouldn't know it by listening to manager Roy Hodgson and other leading figures. "I don't think we are in a situation where, as a country, we can go out there and outplay too many teams," said Gareth Southgate, the FA's Head of Elite Development. "We rarely out-possess other countries, so we've got to think logically about how we set up and the best way to get results." Hodgson, too, talked about England's first match against France as if he was in charge of footballing minnows. "Whether we can beat them, I don't know," the 64 year old said. "I don't think we'll go into the game as favorites to be frank -- not in terms of what France have done in the last couple of years vis-a-vis what we have done."

Grant Wahl: U.S. set to embark on long, trying qualifying road to World Cup 2014

The long qualifying road to World Cup 2014 starts on Friday in Tampa for the U.S. men's national team, and while the first semifinal-round opponent (tiny Antigua and Barbuda) shouldn't provide much resistance, there's always a danger in taking World Cup qualifying for granted. The U.S. is one of only seven nations to reach the last six World Cups -- along with Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Italy, South Korea and Spain -- and at least 16 qualifying games over the next 17 months stand between the Yanks and Brazil 2014. As always, there are no guarantees.

Chelsea's plan to build a new stadium at Battersea Power Station fails after administrators choose Malaysian bid

Uhh, no.

Last month Chelsea revealed that they had submitted an application to move to the 39-acre site in Wandsworth, but administrators revealed this morning that a joint bid by two Malaysian companies - SP Setia and Sime Darby - had been chosen instead.

Euro 2012: Guardian predictions, from winners to golden boot

How far will England progress, who will be the rising stars and what will be the games to savour in Poland and Ukraine?


Euro 2012: Police prepare for England with guns, dogs and water cannons

"If things start kicking off, don't be tempted to stick around and watch the fun," the English-language newspaper warns. "The Polish police are going to come down on troublemakers like a bag full of anvils and you don't want to be there when it happens. Krakow has a long history of hooligan violence. The local police have seen it all before and they will ruin your day if you try it on."

Norman Hubbard: Clint Deserves a Fistful of Dollars

In first place, the world-class player at the peak of his powers, whose goal tally showed his efficiency but whose finishing revealed flair in abundance. In second, the man who threatened to outscore him, a forward with a remarkable habit of delivering goals against elite sides. In third, swept into contention on a tide of sentiment, the returning icon, back from retirement to illustrate his timeless gifts. When the football writers cast their votes for their Player of the Year, the podium places were occupied by those storied talents Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes. But fourth place was the most interesting, least likely story of them all. A footballer who, despite playing for a mid-table side, delivered more goals than all in the Premier League bar Van Persie, Rooney and Sergio Aguero. Moreover, he did so without being a specialist striker. Clint Dempsey was the outsider who gatecrashed the favourites' private party.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Meet Barwuah Balotelli: Italy striker to wear both family names on Euro 2012 shirt

Mario Balotelli will have both his family names on his Italy shirt at Euro 2012. UEFA's official tournament list shows that the 21-year-old forward has registered 'Barwuah Balotelli' as his shirt name.

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Wednesday's Rumours


Tim Vickery in South America

A Rio newspaper on Sunday asserted that the European Championship is a World Cup without Brazil and Argentina. It is an expression used on both sides of the Atlantic - but that does not make it fair.

European teams have disputed the last two World Cup finals but the continent also provides some of the dullest teams in the tournament. The phrase is unfair on Africa and Asia, where South Korea have made a consistent contribution to recent World Cups. If they needed home advantage to reach the semi-finals in 2002, then so did England in 1966 and France in 1998 to register their only wins.

The phrase is also deeply unfair on the rest of South America, a continent which gave ample proof of its current strength two years ago in South Africa. Chile came up with their best-ever performance away from home by making the second round. Paraguay reached the last eight for the first time - and gave champions Spain their most even game on the way to the title. And Uruguay got to the semi- finals.

Euro 2012: Sweden tactics and key questions – the expert's view

Erik Hamren may finally have solved the dilemma of how best to integrate Zlatan Ibrahimovic into the Sweden team.

This article is part of the Guardian's Euro 2012 Experts' Network, a co-operation between 16 of the best media organisations from the countries who have qualified for the finals in Poland and Ukraine.

Louise Taylor: Shinji Kagawa can take Manchester United back into the third dimension

The Japan midfielder should add an exciting and incisive aspect to Alex Ferguson's side, something that was lacking last season.

Euro 2012: football supporters warned over 'toxic' shirts

The European Consumers' Organisation (BEUC) have warned football supporters against buying jerseys of some of the nations competing at this month's European Championships after research discovered that some of the shirts contained "worrying" levels of chemicals.

Lead, a heavy metal, was found in the team strip of six of the countries - Spain, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, France and Italy.

U.S. Open Cup Roundup: Sounders halt Cal FC's run with rout

As Osvaldo Alonso and Fredy Montero saw things, it was just a matter of time. Alonso and Montero each scored a pair of goals in the second half, and the Seattle Sounders tallied five times in a span of 20 minutes on Tuesday night to end Cal FC's run through the U.S. Open Cup with a 5-0 fourth-round victory.

Juan Pablo Angel scored on a penalty kick in stoppage time and Chivas USA beat the Carolina RailHawks 2-1 Tuesday night in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.


Phil Ball in Spain

Phil Ball assesses Spain's chances of successfully defending their European Championship crown in Poland and Ukraine.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Gabrielle Marcotti's Euro 2012 Preview: Italy

But how can you improve upon this...?

Cesare Prandelli's pledge when he took over for Marcello Lippi as the Italian national team coach following the 2010 World Cup was to make the Azzurri attractive, attacking and likable. He's certainly done his best, introducing an "ethical code" (players under suspension for disciplinary reasons would not be called up) and insisting on a midfield of technically gifted playmakers. The idea is for Italy to play its own version of tiki-taka, a style perfected recently by Spain. Ditching the long-established defend-and-counter ethos for the "Spanish approach redux" is an ambitious objective -- one which, thus far, has yielded mixed results. Italy was undefeated in qualifying, but looked shaky in friendlies. The match-fixing scandal running in the background should have less of an impact than it did in 1982 and 2006, largely because few national team players are implicated, directly or indirectly. Nevertheless, it remains a distraction. The Group C draw wasn't ideal for the Azzurri, but at least its match against Spain game gets out of the way first. And grabbing a point isn't unthinkable either, considering La Roja started slowly in 2010 and that opening group games are often tight and cagey. After that, matters should become easier against Croatia and Ireland.

Euro 2012: France tactics and key questions – the expert's view

Les Bleus have problems: the centre of defence is weak, the squad is inexperienced and Franck Ribéry rarely performs in the national shirt.

This article is part of the Guardian's Euro 2012 Experts' Network, a co-operation between 16 of the best media organisations from the countries who have qualified for the finals in Poland and Ukraine.

Euro 2012: Croatia – the secrets behind the players

Vedran Corluka's mother is afraid he mixes with the wrong people while it was tough for Eduardo when he arrived in Zagreb.

Tomislav Dujmovic
The defensive midfielder played only for small yo-yo clubs in Croatia but flourished in Russia in his late 20s. He drives a small KIA car, speaks four languages, prefers going to the theatre than nightclubs and has a penchant for Russian literary classics. Now with Real Zaragoza on loan from Dynamo Moscow.

Leander Schaerlaeckens: The Dutch have plenty of attacking options, but a poor back line could crack

Not quite two years ago, Netherlands’ then-assistant coach, Frank de Boer, stood in the bowels of Cape Town Stadium in South Africa. He explained how the Dutch national team had just reached the World Cup final, whereas the arguably more talented 1998 squad of which he was a star performer had faltered in the semis. "What's different is that we now believe we can be world champions," he told me. "In 1998, we didn't realise that we could be world champions. We were happy just to have made the semi-finals. Now we have one mission - and that mission is to become world champions."

Five days later, the Netherlands would fall to Spain in extra time in one of the most grotesque displays of football cynicism in recent memory, punctuated by regular assaults by Dutch studs on Spanish legs and a monstrous Nigel de Jong karate kick to Xabi Alonso's chest. In the time it took Alonso to clatter to the ground, the Dutch ceased to be the world game's beloved aesthetes. 

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Tuesday's Rumours


Excerpt from Soccernomics: Made in Amsterdam

Dirk Kuyt humbled by Liverpool fans

An “emotional” Dirk Kuyt today revealed he had been inundated with messages of support from Liverpool fans since quitting the club on Sunday.

Kuyt's six-year love affair with the Reds finally came to an end two days ago when he signed for Fenerbahce.

The 31-year-old, who fell down the pecking order at Anfield last season, admitted his increasing lack of game time was behind his decision to move on.

"My last season at Liverpool wasn't the best one," Kuyt said.

USA: Five things learned against Scotland, Brazil and Canada

Jürgen Klinsmann says USA need to be "nastier" as USMNT beat Scotland 5-1, lose to Brazil 1-4 and then tie 0-0 with Canada.

USA: Jurgen Klinsmann battling to find the right formation

Which formation is right for the United States? 

It is a dilemma that Bob Bradley faced during his tenure as head coach and now follows his successor Jurgen Klinsmann.

After having some success with a 4-3-3, Klinsmann switched to a 4-4-2 against Canada hoping that the system would take advantage of having Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan together on the pitch. The results were mixed at best.

Henry Winter: England defender Ashley Cole is a national treasure who would easily grace a World XI

Ignore the men in white coats hammering at the front door, let’s dare to dream for a mad moment. Let’s just imagine England somehow scraped through to the final of Euro 2012. Bear with me.

Roberto Gotta in Italy

Roberto Gotta examines Italy's tumultuous build-up to Euro 2012 and the tactical dilemma facing Cesare Prandelli.

Shinji Kagawa's Manchester United transfer agreed

Manchester United have agreed a deal reported to be worth an intial £12m to sign Japan midfielder Shinji Kagawa from German side Borussia Dortmund. The 23-year-old needs to pass a medical and obtain a UK work permit, but the Old Trafford club expect both to be completed by the end of June.

Monday, June 04, 2012

England: Aston Villa finally get their man as Lambert takes charge

Norwich City bowed to the inevitable yesterday and gave Paul Lambert their best wishes after he was appointed manager of Aston Villa. 

Ten youngsters to light up the Euros

Major tournaments offer a chance for little-known talent to make a worldwide name for themselves. Martin Hardy runs the rule over the young pretenders whose lives may be changed for ever in Poland and Ukraine in the next month.

Ben Lyttleton's Euro 2012 Preview: Spain

France was the last nation to go into a tournament as reigning world and European champions, but its efforts to win a first "treble" in international history floundered dramatically after finishing last in Group A at the 2002 World Cup. Spain is attempting the same this summer.

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International Friendly Reports & Analyses: Canada 0 - 0 USA

The U.S. men's team played a scoreless draw against Canada on Sunday night, failing to convert a couple of strong chances in its third exhibition in eight days.

Roger Bennett: Far From Vintage

Grant Wahl: Three Thoughts

Euro 2012: Rio Ferdinand unhappy with England manager Roy Hodgson following Gary Cahill's withdrawal

Rio Ferdinand revealed the full extent of his anger at his continued exile from the England squad with his representative accusing manager Roy Hodgson of a “total lack of respect”.

Henry Winter: Footballing reasons? Baloney. Leaving Rio Ferdinand out of the England side was utterly insulting

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

England look to Greece for inspiration, Italy need improvement fast, beware the Danes and Russia are dark horses … again.

Five Things

Amy Lawrence: Germany feel they can stay alive in the group of death

Despite the most demanding opponents, Joachim Löw's vibrant side believe they can go one step further than in 2008.

Off the Ball

Off the Ball is taking a well-earned break to put its feet up on a Moroccan leather sofa, sip Long Island Ice Tea and lazily channel surf through Euro 2012. But before heading off into the sunset here's one more scratch around the underbelly of football to get you in the mood for this summer's tournament.