Friday, September 14, 2012

The Joy of Six: One-on-One Finishes

Kanu, a Careca cracker and a 25-yard header from Diego Maradona feature in our list of memorable one-on-ones.

England: Premier League Previews, Predictions, Etc.

As Roy Hodgson whacks the kettle on and kicks back for a few weeks, the Premier League roars back into life this weekend. Champions Manchester City travel to the scene of last year's Goal of the Season at Stoke, while Arsenal and Manchester United await highly winnable fixtures. A handshake might prove more important than the result as Chelsea head to QPR, while Liverpool attempt to end a particularly emotional week with a first win of the season at Sunderland.

Weekend Previews: Spain, Italy, Germany

Spain: La Liga

Italy: Serie A

Germany: Bundesliga

Two Brazilian cities, two games, halfway to the 2014 World Cup

On the belvedere atop Corcovado mountain, tourists crowd the railings for a God's-eye view of the world's most beautiful cityscape.

Standing under one Rio icon, the open-armed statue of Christ the Redeemer, they aim their phone cameras at another: Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain), the granite outcropping that resembles a giant cat crouching at the edge of Guanabara Bay.

Off to the left, though, is a Rio landmark of equal significance, at least to futebol fans: Maracanã, the largest stadium in Brazil and the site of the 2014 World Cup final.

U.S. College Soccer Season Preview 2012

The men's college soccer conference seasons kick off next week. Here, we take a look at the players expected to shine, which sides will be pushing for the title, what conferences are the strongest and the games to look out for in 2012.

Raphael Honigstein: German defender Pezzoni loses his job following threats, violence

"I was insulted by my own supporters in the stadium," the 23-year-old Pezzoni told Welt am Sonntag. The next day, five men turned up outside Pezzoni's Cologne apartment and threatened to beat him up. Another threat ("Be careful when it gets dark") was left on the windscreen of his car. A Facebook group called for him to be shot and have his legs broken. (In February, Pezzoni suffered a broken nose after a run-in at the carnival, but it's unclear whether the motive of his assailant was personal or football-related.) The club said the player was no longer able to play football in this hostile environment and that his wish to be relieved of his duties would be met. Then the story got worse. Pezzoni claimed it had in fact been Köln, not him, who had first raised the prospect of him leaving the club. "I had hoped that those in charge would stand behind me and try to protect me," he said. "A club should be able to protect his players from his fans. This wasn't the case here. I never wanted to rescind my contract -- they suggested that to me. It seems to me as if they'd simply waited for an opportune moment to get rid of me."

Friday MLS Forecast

The Forecast discusses yet another Cascadia Cup matchup and weighs the injury to Dwayne De Rosario ahead of yet another full weekend of matches.

James Richardson's European football papers review

After an underwhelming week in the qualifiers for Brazil 2014, James Richardson rounds up the best of the continent's football coverage revelling in some surprising revelations about the world's highest-paid players, courtesy of Gazetta Dello Sport, the first managerial sacking of the season and Cristiano Ronaldo's happiness.

From Maicon to Michael Owen – Six Premier League debutants to watch

The Premier League should see a glut of players making full debuts this weekend – here are half a dozen to look out for.

Will Martinez deal lead Bayern to Bundesliga riches?

In the space of a couple of months Javi Martinez has gone from an unknown to the Bundesliga's most expensive signing. Bayern Munich's greatest player curiously seemed lost for words when he was first asked about the Spaniard's arrival by reporters. "Javi Martinez?,"' Franz Beckenbauer replied. ''I don't know him. I have never seen him play. He seems expensive. But what's the difference really when you're talking about €30 million or €40m?'' This seemed a carefree attitude to the purse strings from a club that has turned in a profit for 29 of the last 30 seasons. But Bayern went ahead and splashed out a Bundesliga record of €40 million, an astonishing fee that made club such as Manchester City and PSG baulk.

Fat Footballers

After Wayne Rooney admitted, "I'm like most blokes, I put on a few pounds after a holiday", we decided it was time to take a look at ten notoriously 'big-boned' footballers from over the years.

Richard Jolly: Patrick Vieira Interview

Patrick Vieira is an ambassador for Western Union's new PASS initiative, turning every pass in this season's UEFA Europa League into funding for one day's education for young people around the world. He said: "Where I come from, opportunities for a quality education are rare. Football was my ticket to success, but for the vast majority of young people education is the key that allows them to become whatever they want to be. That's why I'm supporting this campaign."

Amy Lawrence: Arsenal defence starts to profit from granite presence of Steve Bould

Arsène Wenger's new No2 knows what it is like to play in a rock-steady rearguard and he is already having an influence.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Funny Arsene Wenger Photograph

Thanks to SGB and Subside Sports for this one...

Top 25 Best-Selling MLS Jerseys

At 37 years of age and in his sixth MLS season, David Beckham remains the league’s merchandising king. More L.A. Galaxy jerseys bearing the midfielder’s name and No. 23 have been sold this season than any other, according to a list released Tuesday by MLS. The English icon ranked No. 1 in sales via league and club websites, beating out New York Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry and Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan.

After losing La Liga rights, DirecTV drops GolTV

DirecTV is dropping GolTV on Thursday following the network's loss of rights to Spain's La Liga.

Martin Samuel: Here's why Manchester United want cash curbs... they are scared of City

He’s got a big mouth, Dave Whelan. Comes in handy on occasions, though. Like last week, when he used it to reveal the driving force behind the move to impose financial limitations on clubs in the Premier League. Manchester United are the architects here. Who would have thought it? Whelan, as chairman of Wigan Athletic, supports the plan. Some smaller clubs’ owners do because they think it will mean spending less and lead to greater competition at the lower end. What did Whelan give as United’s motivation for such a  game-changing move, however? An altruistic wish to safeguard club finances? The desire to move towards competitive equality? Not exactly. ‘I think Manchester City have shaken them up a little bit,’ said Whelan. Oh, Dave. Bigmouth strikes again. You’ve said the loud thing quiet and the quiet thing loud. People aren’t meant to know that. They must continue believing that football’s established elite want financial controls for the good of the game; not to maintain a cosy monopoly. If they realise that United fear City on the pitch, so must legislate them out of contention instead, the whole plan falls down.

The making of mighty Michu: He grew up with Cazorla, scored for fun in La Liga and now he's a flying Swan

Michu apologises a lot. He says sorry for eating during this interview, he says it again when his phone buzzes. Most often, he says sorry for his expanding but incomplete vocabulary. Speaking English is a big deal to him. ‘I am not happy when I do not do it right,’ he says. ‘I want to say what I think and that is hard. I must get better.’ He then mutters in Spanish before throwing his hands in the air when the right word comes to mind. ‘Practice,’ he says. ‘In two months I will be very good, I promise. A teacher comes to my flat three nights a week for two or three hours so I can learn. I will soon speak well.’
It’s Michu, not Swansea City, who pays for the lessons and when it comes to Facebook and Twitter he does the English translations. Angel Rangel, the elder statesman among the club’s Spaniards, helped with this when Michu first joined from Rayo Vallecano in July, but now the midfielder wants to do it himself. ‘I want to learn and this is the best way,’ he adds. ‘I like to read English newspapers, watch the television, talk to people. I can then learn more from my team-mates. I will be better when I talk English properly — I believe that.’

Tim Vickery in South America

The latest round of World Cup qualifying in South America is in the rearview mirror. Here's what we learned.

David Conn: Hillsborough Disaster: The Truth

The report found that even as the family members, many of them parents stricken with the loss of their children, were plunged into the most dreadful of nightmares, Wright was meeting his police federation in a Sheffield restaurant to prepare "a defence" and "a rock-solid story". The secretary of the South Yorkshire police federation branch, constable Paul Middup, according to the minutes cited by the panel, told the restaurant meeting before Wright turned up: "The chief constable had said the truth could not come from him, but had given the secretary a totally free hand and supported him," as had many senior officers.

The meeting, at the Pickwick restaurant in Sheffield, was held on the morning of 19 April 1989, just four days after the disaster. It was the day that Kelvin MacKenzie's Sun newspaper splashed its headline "The Truth" over lies fed to it, via Whites Press agency, by, the panel found, four senior South Yorkshire police officers. Middup was encouraged to continue this police campaign of defaming Liverpool supporters for supposed drunkenness and misbehaviour and "to get the message – togetherness – across to the force".

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What is American Soccer?

For Howlers debut issue, Matthew Doyle (’s Armchair Analyst) watched more than 50 hours of USMNT tape (going all the way back to Italia ‘90) to discern what—if anything—characterizes the American style of play. 

The Big Interview: Neville Southall

The former Blues and Wales goalkeeper is as forthright as ever in new career as coach and teacher of Neets.

Football is about theatre now, says Everton great Neville Southall

2014 World Cup Qualifying: Briefs, Wraps, and Reports from Around the World

World Cup champion Spain defeated Georgia 1-0 on an 86th-minute goal by Roberto Soldado on Tuesday, the first step by the Spaniards on their road to the 2014 World Cup. Frank Lampard's late equalizer spared Roy Hodgson from losing his first competitive home match as England coach on Tuesday, salvaging a draw against Ukraine in 2014 World Cup qualifying. Gonzalo Higuain scored in the 37th minute to help Argentina scratch out a 1-1 draw with Peru on Tuesday and stay on top of the standings in South American World Cup qualifying. Mexico booked their place in CONCACAF's final phase of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup with a 1-0 win over Costa Rica on Tuesday but the battle for the other five slots remains wide open.

England 1 - 1 Ukraine

2014 World Cup Qualifying: USA 1 - 0 Jamaica

Spurred on by a roaring crowd decked out in red, white and blue, the United States used all of that emotion as fuel to pull off a significant World Cup qualifying victory. The U.S. rebounded from a loss at Jamaica four nights earlier and moved back into a tie for its group lead by beating the Reggae Boyz 1-0 Tuesday night as Herculez Gomez curled in a free kick in the 55th minute.

Roger Bennett: Four factors for victory

General Information

Kagawa, Diaby, and Van Persie all picked up injuries that may or may not be serious. There's no point in posting any articles. It's wait and see for all three...

Hillsborough Disaster: David Cameron apologises for 'double injustice'

David Cameron said he was "profoundly sorry" for the failures that caused the Hillsborough disaster and the subsequent attempts to shift blame for the tragedy on to supporters after the publication of a damning report on the events 23 years ago that left 96 dead.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

2014 World Cup Qualifying Previews (USA)

Who: United States vs. Jamaica
When: 8pm EDT
Where: Columbus Crew Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

Joey Barton: My inner chimp reacted badly when I was sent off for QPR against Manchester City

Joey Barton has tried to give his version of what happened on the final day of the season when he was sent off for elbowing Carlos Tévez before attacking Vincent Kompany and Sergio Agüero.

He plays like Di María and dances like Tevez: Introducing Ricky Centurión

The 19-year-old is the latest talent off the Argentinian production line, with Europe's biggest clubs already beginning to circle.

2014 World Cup Qualifying: Tuesday Previews (Europe)

UEFA qualifying features some interesting matches on Tuesday. Ukraine travel to England, while Croatia and Belgium fight for the top spot in Group A.

2014 World Cup Qualifying: Tuesday Preview (South America)

Argentina struggled to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, and then disappointed. This time the Gauchos look like the best team in South America - and one of the best in the world, having beaten Germany 3-1 last month in a friendly. That was revenge for losing 4-0 to Germany in the World Cup quarterfinals.
All of this makes them heavy favorites on Tuesday in a qualifier at Peru.

Through six matches, the Argentines lead the South American group with 13 points, followed by Chile and Ecuador with 12, Uruguay with 11 and Colombia on 10. At the bottom are Venezuela on 8, Peru with 6 and Bolivia and Paraguay with 4. The top four qualify automatically for the World Cup, joining Brazil as host nation. The fifth-place team faces a playoff against Asian opposition, meaning South America could wind up with six qualifiers. In other qualifiers on Tuesday, it's Uruguay vs. Ecuador, Paraguay vs. Venezuela, and Chile vs. Colombia.

Football Weekly: England roll over Moldova but tougher test awaits

It's all killer and no filler as AC Jimbo and the podders look back on England's 5-0 mauling of Moldova and the rest of the World Cup qualifiers.

It's another of our world famous international specials, so apologies in advance as AC Jimbo, Barry Glendenning, Paul MacInnes and Jacob Steinberg do their best to get pumped for their analysis of England's thrashing of Moldova and an assortment of other inspirational performances in the World Cup qualifiers from the likes of Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

Elsewhere in this vintage scratch-and-sniff, cut-out-and-keep edition of Football Weekly, some mildly diverting discussion of the woes of Cesc Fàbregas, the Africa Cup of Nations, and Sven-Goran Eriksson's latest misadventure.

We're back on Thursday with something like normal service, so until then your patience is much appreciated.

Amy Lawrence: Uefa's bloated World Cup qualifying system looks totally bonkers

Faroe Islands "Stadium"

It is time to copy other confederations and stage pre-qualifying rounds to reduce the fixture overload on Europe's top teams.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Rob Bagchi: A Premier League start with more questions than answers

Has Owen still got it? Will Chelsea win the league? The international break paused 10 tantalising plot lines.

Brazilians play name game ... and lose

Young Brazilian players often re-brand themselves with their idol's alias, with recent results ranging from inspired to incorrect.


Finally, we come to the best category of all: misspelt names. This year's Copa São Paulo included touching tributes to Dutch legends Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit. The resulting names – Raikard and Rudigullithi – are nothing if not loveably erroneous. The icing on the cake, however, came in the shape of Cruzeiro youngster Lynneeker. I'll let you work that one out for yourselves.

Tim Vickery in South America

In the context of a league campaign, a resounding win or a heavy defeat never ends at the final whistle. More important than the points won or lost can be the team's reaction. Can it rally in the face of adversity, or guard against excessive euphoria?

This is especially true in South America's marathon 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifiers, when two rounds are played together, and a team can play at one end of the continent on Friday and the other the following Tuesday.

Last week I picked out the match between Colombia and Uruguay as the most interesting tie of the seventh round, a clash right at the heart of the battle to qualify in recent campaigns. I also suggested there were signs that, after a two-year run of success, Uruguay might be on the downward slope.

It is too early to tell whether that supposition was correct - even though Uruguay were thrashed 4-0. One defeat, however comprehensive, does not necessarily mean a decline and things were always likely to be difficult in the scorching afternoon heat of Barranquilla. The proof will come in the way Uruguay react.

2014 World Cup Qualifying Wrap (South America)

Lionel Messi was almost unstoppable again as Argentina posted their sixth victory in a row, swatting Paraguay aside 3-1 to take the lead in South America’s World Cup qualifiers on Friday. Colombia, who had played below potential in a poor start to the campaign that included the sacking 10 months ago of coach Leonel Alvarez, climbed into the top five with a 4-0 rout of Uruguay in steamy Barranquilla. “We mustn’t lose focus of what this qualifying campaign is,” Colombia’s Argentine coach Jose Pekerman warned after the emphatic win sparked by red-hot striker Radamel Falcao’s early opening goal. Colombia’s win pushed Venezuela, who are looking to reach the finals for the first time but were beaten 2-1 away to Peru, down to sixth place.

2014 World Cup 2014 qualifiers: Five talking points from the latest action

It could be time for pre-qualifying worries for Portugal, Belgium need to be ruthless and dissenting voices await Trapattoni.

2014 World Cup Qualifying Briefs (Europe)

European Championship runner-up Italy was held to a 2-2 draw by Bulgaria in its opening World Cup qualifier Friday despite two goals from Pablo Osvaldo. A rare mistake by goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon allowed Stanislav Manolev to put Bulgaria in front on the half-hour mark, not long after the Italian had pulled off a stunning stop. However, Osvaldo scored his first international goals to give Italy a 2-1 halftime lead. Georgi Milanov leveled for Bulgaria in the 66th minute, however. Italy created few chances and showed little of the form that took it to the Euro 2012 final in July. Italy has never won in Sofia, losing twice and drawing three times. Armenia tops Group B after beating Malta 1-0 earlier in the day. Italy plays Malta in Modena on Tuesday.

2014 World Cup Qualifying: Jamaica 2 - 1 United States

After Clint Dempsey scored the fastest U.S. goal in World Cup qualifying, the Americans played a listless game, lost to Jamaica for the first time and put pressure on themselves to win their home game against Jamaica next week. Rodolph Austin and Luton Shelton scored on free kicks as the Reggae Boyz rallied for a historic 2-1 victory Friday night, their first win in 19 games against the Americans.

Carlisle: Problematic U.S. midfield must improve

Wahl: Sloppy play, lackluster tactics doom U.S. in historic defeat to Jamaica


Papiss Cissé Goal

In the 4 - 2 loss to Ivory Coast in African Cup of Nations qualifying...

Said & Done

Football's fair play reflex; Zamparini's vote of confidence; Adriano's fresh start; plus why botineras are banned.

Said & Done

Move of the week
Sven-Goran Eriksson – joining Thai club BEC Tero Sasana for the challenge: "I look forward to this job. The standard of Thai football is getting better." (2008: Sven, quoted in Dietmar Hamann's autobiography, giving his verdict on a post-season tour of Thailand. "I like this place. I think I will come back here and live with two women. Yes. I think I need two beautiful women.")