Friday, November 09, 2012

The U.S. and the Hex, Europa League, Weekend Agenda

Let's start with what really matters. The United States will have a tough little run when World Cup qualifying resumes in February. Away to Honduras, home against Costa Rica, and then away to Mexico. The diving German has his work cut out. And, where in the U.S. will the matches take place?

OK, matches yesterday. Does anyone really care about the Europa League? It's tough to say. There are some big clubs involved, but it's such an afterthought. We saw that Liverpool lost and Tottenham won. Here's a wrap.

Can we go directly to The Joy of Six? Excellent. It's Favourite Football Grounds. How can you pick just six? The Britannia Stadium? Now you're having a laugh. Craven Cottage is nice, though.

Major League Soccer. There are only four teams left. NY Energy Drink lost to D.C. United in a very odd series. That means on Sunday you've got United at Houston (4pm EST) and Seattle at L.A. (9pm EST). This is kind of exciting.

Fabrice Muamba. What a story. He says the last thing he recalls hearing on March 17, as Bolton played Tottenham in an FA Cup quarter final, was his colleague Zat Knight screaming at him to “come back”. Jesus H. Christ! Here's more from Jim White.

OK. Time for the weekend agenda. Starting in the EPL, Sunday has the tasty nuggets. The early match is Manchester City vs. Tottenham. A bit later is Chelsea vs. Liverpool. Here's a preview.  Lawro, you say? Yes. Paul Merson? Yes. Look out for these 10 things, OK?

Looking around the rest of Europe, we'd have to say that Barcelona at Mallorca might be interesting just to see how they bounce back from the loss at Celtic. Other than that, there is a dearth of attractive fixtures. We'll have to be satisfied with the EPL offerings.

We'll leave you with this video. It took place during the clash between Division III nerd schools Colby and Amherst. And it's pretty great.



Thursday, November 08, 2012

Celtic Beat Barcelona, Mod Rod Cries, and Other Things

Holy Fucking Shit! Celtic beat Barcelona. We said yesterday we thought it might be interesting and it was. Celtic emerged victorious with 16% of the possession. 16%!! Here's a report from Ewan Murray who was at Celtic Park. Rod is below.

It was really exciting stuff across the Champions League last night. Chelsea edged Shaktar thanks to some dodgy goalkeeping and a brilliant piece of skill from Oscar. You know Henry Winter wouldn't miss that one.

Manchester United got assistance from a power failure and some dodgy goalkeeping to win at Braga and advance to the Round of 16. Elsewhere, Bayern Munich scored six against limp Lille and Juventus cruised past Nordsjaelland. Here's a wrap and here's a look at the groups.

The Group Stage has indeed been a treat thus far. Here are 10 Talking Points.

OK, enough of the Champions League. How about some playoffs? Houston lost to KC but advanced anyway. Robbie Keane got to do his moronic goal celebration twice as L.A. ousted San Jose. And Red Bull and United got screwed by snow. They'll try again tonight.

On to the World Cup. At least, that's what we are hoping here in the U.S. The Hex Draw is tonight in South Beach. Jeff Carlisle breaks it down like this.

Shit. Almost forgot about the Oscar goal. Here it is.



Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Champions League Two-Twos, Americans Abroad, Jewish Chants, Fun in Finland

2-2 was the name of the game yesterday. Manchester City, Ajax, Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke, and Arsenal all scored two goals. And Manchester City are pissed! Rightly so, it must be said. Super Mario was basically thrown to the ground in the final minute (right in front of the ref) and nothing was given. Regardless, City have flopped. Jamie Jackson has five reasons why. Phil McNulty says Mancini must recognize the brutal truth.

Here are how the groups look. The BBC has all the permutations. Ben Lyttleton discusses things about the Champions League.

Getting paid to watch a match and do nothing: The Fifth Official
Today you've got Shakhtar at Chelsea as the most attractive fixture. Jonathan Wilson knows his Eastern European football. Here he discusses the man behind Shaktar's success. Elsewhere, Celtic host Barcelona, which could be interesting. And Manchester United are in Portugal to face Braga.

There's chanting going on at White Hart Lane. But, there has always been chanting going on at White Hart Lane. Tottenham has a strong Jewish history. Here's their official statement: "Our fans adopted the chant as a defence mechanism in order to own the term and thereby deflect anti-Semitic abuse. They do not use the term to others to cause any offence, they use it a chant amongst themselves. "The club believes that real anti-Semitic abuse such as hissing to simulate the noise of gas chambers is the real evil and the real offence. We believe this is the area that requires a determined and concerted effort from all parties and where we seek greater support to eradicate." For some that's not enough.

The playoffs return tonight. Yes, Major League Soccer continues down the path to some sort of final game. New York Red Bull host D.C. United at 8pm EST on the NBC Sports Network. Super-Storm Sandy fucked up the last leg so they had to switch venues. Anyway, this was a nice gestureHere are some predictions. 

Some Americans prefer to ply their trade outside of the United States. Here is a look at what a bunch of them are up to. Yes, it's Americans Abroad!

Former UNC Asheville goalkeeper Lassi Hurskainen is a funny guy with excellent trick-shot skills. Check him out. The 3:12 mark is worth a chuckle.

This is interesting: Santa Cruz: The third division Brazilian club with the incredible fanbase. Who knew?

OK. Done.



Tuesday, November 06, 2012

West Brom Win, Ibra Kung Fu, The Death of a Derby, Tuesday Regulars, Champions League

Monday Night Football is where we'll begin: West Bromwich Albion continued their fine season with a relatively easy win at The Hawthorns. Odemwingie was the main man for West Brom. Southampton offered little in resistance and remain rooted at the bottom of the EPL Table.

Staying in England, we can't get away from woeful Arsenal. John Brewin laments the death of a Derby and Henry Winter discusses the culture of complacency that's dominating the club at the moment.

OK, let's head over to the continent. Phil Ball wants to crunch some numbers in San Sebastián, and Sid Lowe says it's not all doom and gloom in Madrid even though Atlético Madrid had their winning streak snapped by Valencia. Did you know that neither Messi, Ronaldo, nor Falcao scored this weekend? You've got to go back over a year to find the last time that happened. Or didn't happen. Whatever.

The Bundesliga is Raphael Honigstein's territory. He says Bayern Munich are back after their 3-0 win over Hamburg. Check out this super-sweet goal from Thomas Müller from that match. Quick thinking, indeed!

Among other things, Grant Wahl talks about Tim Howard. And Jozy. Jozy keeps scoring in Holland, but will he score for the USA?

The UEFA Champions League returns this afternoon. And look, they're already fighting in Paris. PSG vs. Dynamo Zagreb. Not too many hooligans between those two. No, not too many at all. Idiots.

Yes, it's Matchday Three. Real Madrid host Borussia Dortmund. Schalke will try to beat Arsenal again, this time in Germany. And this could be it for Manchester City. They host Ajax. Maybe they'll just roll over and end it already. Here's a link to the tables so you can see where everyone stands at the moment.

Shit. Paolo Bandini is in Italy. Just how will Juventus bounce back?
Shit. Tim Vickery in Brazil. Just what is going on down there?

Football Weekly. We'll let them tell us what's on offer:
On today's Football Weekly, James Richardson invites Barry Glendenning, Owen Gibson and banter's Rob Smyth to look back on a weekend of occasional drama but mostly just draws. We start with all the business from the Premier League, where Manchester United beat Arsenal in a game every bit as chastening as last season's 8-2, Liverpool showed that they're also a long-ball side, and Chelsea were lucky to leave Swansea with a point. Next, we wonder whether Manchester City can pull off a Lazarus-like comeback in the Champions League (probably not), and then it's a quick stop to Serie A, where Inter stopped Juventus making it 50 matches unbeaten. Elsewhere, we hear from Ewan Murray about how Celtic plan to stop Barcelona , while Sid Lowe sends out an appeal to save his beloved Oviedo and challenges you not to watch Gary Lineker doing the do instead. And finally, we speculate over the tubbiest footballers ever to take to the field of play. Which is a bit naughty and very hypocritical, considering most of our podders get out of breadth just climbing stairs.

Do you care what it's like for U.S. soccer players raising kids in Europe? Do you? Really? Fine, read this.

Let's sneak Gabriele Marcotti in here. He considers the new Inter Milan gaffer. Stramaccioni. Is he "special"? He certainly has a special name.

Ibra's wife and kid. No comment.

More fun with The Idiotic Ibrahimovic!  Here's his kung-fu red card from the weekend.

Fine, that's your lot. Have at it. We'll be enjoying the Real Madrid/Dortmund match later. Hopefully you can get some footie in as well.


Monday, November 05, 2012

A Rogue Sprinkler and Juventus Lose

Monday, monday, monday... Let's dive right in with The Fifth Official, shall we? He/She always enjoys a dig at Arsenal and after their inept performance at Old Trafford, there are plenty of reasons to have a go. Throw in some classic AVB and Sparky failings, and it's all too easy for the Monday column.

Yes, both North London clubs were particularly poor. We were out and about Saturday afternoon and asked to describe Arsenal's performance. Since our mate Ryan was in Manchester for the match (as was Phil McNulty), and we had been texting back and forth prior to kick-off, and he works here, it was perhaps fitting that the first adjective that popped up was "flaccid". And don't you know the old scribe Richard Williams nicked our term for his column? Thief. Anyway, United strolled to an easy victory and are now top of the table. We didn't see the match at White Hart Lane, but don't worry too much, Tottenham fans. Wigan are pretty good.

Elsewhere, Liverpool and Newcastle drew in a match that included a lovely bit of skill from one Luis Suarez. Now THAT is a nice goal. The match also featured a sprinkler gone rogue. See the video above. The other team in Manchester? You mean the one that wears Carolina blue? Let's just say that none of the following players managed to score at West Ham: Carlos Tevez, Sergio Agüero, Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko, Samir Nasri, Yaya Touré. Basically players who cost about the same as the GDP of a decent-sized nation.

Talking points. Everybody loves Talking Points. Here are 10.

The Soccer of the Major League variety. Playoffs. Break it down like this!

Holy shit. Stop the presses. Juventus and their Chuck Norris-like talisman Andrea Pirlo lost to Inter Milan. It's their first loss in 50 matches in Serie A. It's their first loss EVER in their new ground. Suddenly, after a crap start to the season, Inter are the form team in Serie A. Funny old game. More on that from Paolo domani.

AC Milan, you say? Well, they won convincingly at the San Siro against Chievo. And Chris Bevan chats with their winger Urby Emanuelson about all their recent changes.

Spain. Right. Real Madrid and Barcelona both won. What more do you want? We'll let Phil and Sid hash it out for us tomorrow.

Would you care to see Stuart Holden talking about the state of soccer in the States?

Right. Off you go.

Wait! There's Monday Night Football. West Brom (not bad so far) host Southampton (God-awful so far). Here's a preview.