Friday, November 30, 2012

Madrid Derby, Farewell Golden Balls, German Clasico

Surprise start today because we're going to Brazil. You should know that they fired their coach last week and replaced him with Big Phil. Jack Long things that's a step in the wrong direction. Why ditch the guy who was molding a strong, young team for the old geezer who will simply destroy all the good work that's been done? Back to square one for Brazil.

Thanks for the memories, Golden Balls...
The MLS Cup is Saturday (4:30pm EST on ESPN). David Beckham's last match in MLS. Feel free to take a time out to shed a tear.

Right, so it's L.A. Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo Part Deux. Here are five factors that helped it all turn out that way once again. Jeff Carlisle argues that Robbie Keane's renaissance is certainly a key factor, if not his absurdly poor goal celebration technique. Grant Wahl has an interesting interview with Commish Don Garber. Read it and learn. Here's a preview for the match itself. In fact, it's the final MLS Friday Forecast for a while. Say that three times fast.

Big matches in Europe this weekend. Perhaps the biggest is the Madrid Derby. Real vs. Atlético at the Bernabéu. Atlético currently sit second in the La Liga table while Real sit third. Expect some excellent expressions from Mourinho along with a Ronaldo goal. And a Falcao goal. Here's a preview. Let's stick in Spain and throw in a Quiniela from Eduardo Alvarez. It's been too long, frankly. Eduardo thinks the away team will win the If you want to catch the contest find a TV tomorrow at 4pm EST that is tuned to beIN Sport USA. Oh, and Barney Ronay looks at Ronaldo and Messi. Messi and Ronaldo.

DAS BUNDESLIGA! Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund. Tomorrow at 12:30pm EST on GolTV. Bayern are ten clear at the top of the table with Dortmund in third 11 points behind. Leverkusen sit second. You'd have to think that if Bayern can win they'll take the title for the first time since 2009/2010. Preview? Here's one from an unlikely source: The New York Times.

England, you say? The Premier League? Fine, but let's be brief. Here's a preview. Here's Lawro. Here's Merse. Look out for these ten things. Done.

We're out. Enjoy the weekend.



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Just England: Clint Speaks, Giggs Goals

Let's just jump right in with a look at yesterday's matches in England's top flight, because that's about all we're got. We'll start at White Hart Lane, where Spurs managed to see off Liverpool. Gareth Bale scored twice, once for Tottenham, and once for Liverpool. His IN THE FACE goal for Liverpool was awfully special. Paul Doyle has a report. 

Across town at Stamford Bridge, Rafa kept up his fine record of draws with another 0-0 affair, this time against Fulham. Berbatov looked lovely whilst floating about the pitch, but nobody could score. In fact, Fernando Torres has not scored in 10 hours and 49 minutes. Doh! Owen Phillips was there.

Up in Liverpool, there was another stalemate as Everton and Arsenal drew 1-1. It wasn't a bad match, and if we were betting folk, we would have put some money on a result such as this. Everton had a clear penalty denied when Arteta hauled back Pienaar, but it really was an even contest. Leighton Baines, in particular, was exceptional. Tim Rich was at Goodison Park.

What else? Well, RVP scored the only goal to give Manchester United the home win against West Ham (Richard Jolly reports), Swansea looked fantastic in their victory over West Brom, Stoke beat Newcastle 2-1, Manchester City kept pace with a win against Wigan (Balotelli actually scored!), and Southampton and Norwich drew 1-1. Here's the table. And here's a Round Up.

Staying in England, Yank Abroad Clint Dempsey says he only left Fulham because he did not feel appreciated. Interesting. Sorry to hear that, Deuce. We thought you wanted Champions League football. But then you went to, maybe you're telling the truth. We'll watch your return to Craven Cottage this weekend with extra interest.

Ryan Giggs is now 39 years old. Good grief. Here's a look at his top-10 goals. No gifts for guessing Number One. It's a bit of a no-brainer.

That's really about it.



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Death to the Europa League?, Big Phil in Brazil, More Americans Abroad, More Midweek Action, Chelsea "Regrets"

Good Morning,

There really are a lot of Yanks playing abroad. Guys in Mexico, Denmark, Sweden, and Austria. Guys like Charlie Davies. Apparently, Chuck came on as an 82nd-minute substitute and was sent off with a straight red card in his last match for Randers. Randers is Denmark's sixth-largest city, by the way. We digress. Davies got bumped into the corner flag by a defender while fighting for the ball and retaliated by pushing the defender down from behind before lunging at him leading with his head while both were on the ground following the tackle. Easy there, buddy.

Sorry Charlie. Davies gets the boot in Denmark.
'Arry Redknapp is back on the touchline. Not in Ukraine, as we had hoped, but over in St. John's Wood. Arry's men supplied us with a drab scoreless draw against Sunderland. In the other match, Villa won 1-0 thanks to a late header from their prodigy Christian Benteke. Once again, Darren Bent was left out completely. Not even on the bench. Aston Villa paid £24m for the guy (the club-record signing), most likely because he has scored 102 Premier League goals. After the match, Paul Lambert, the Villa manager, was asked a total of 22 questions about Bent's absence. And we learned absolutely nothing. Bizarre.

With those two fixtures out of the way we can look at what this afternoon has on offer. And it's quite lovely, indeed. Chelsea host Fulham, Tottenham host Liverpool, Everton host Arsenal, Manchester United welcome West Ham, Wigan welcome Manchester City, West Brom go to Swansea, Stoke host Newcastle, and Southampton welcome Norwich City. Lawro has some predictions. He correctly called a draw for QPR/Sunderland and win for Villa (so did Paul Merson) so let's see how he does today. Here's a preview of all the matches.

Some rather big news today from our friends (cough) over at UEFA. It would seem that Platini and co. are considering terminating the Europa League in favor of extending the Champions League from 32 to 64 teams. So, make of that what you will. We'll worry about it in 2014. In the meantime we'll look forward to Manchester United vs. Videoton FC.

Big Phil! You missed him, right? Word on the street is Brazil will name Luiz Felipe Scolari as their new national team manager later today. He took them to the 2002 title. Let's see how 2014 goes. We'll throw in a touching photo of him with Ronaldo when he headed up the Portuguese side.

Speaking of Ronaldo, the excellent Jonathan Wilson has a simple question: Is Cristiano Ronaldo a strength or a weakness to a team?

In other news, Chelsea "regrets" the Clattenburg incident. Really? Idiots.

Like Darren Bent, Wesley Sneijder is not playing. Unlike Darren Bent, we know why. It's simply because Inter Milan want him to take a 30% wage cut and he refuses. Like Jonathan Wilson above, James Horncastle wonders if Inter are better without him.

It would be a bit odd if we could go a few days without something about racism, right? Thankfully, the police have arrested the Sunderland twat who "allegedly" aimed a racist 'monkey' gesture at Lukaku last weekend. Judging from the photographic evidence, there's nothing alleged about it.

That's your lot. Enjoy the afternoon matches if you can.



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Frenchie Joey Barton, Podcast, Spain, Italy, Germany, Soccer in Queens, Midweek Action, Americans Abroad

Only one place to begin today and that's with Jimbo and crew. Here's the preview: A stonking Football Weekly awaits you today, with James Richardson joined by Barney Ronay, Barry Glendenning and our favourite Frenchman (after this guy), Philippe Auclair. We start with the extraordinary scenes at Stamford Bridge where the Rafa Benítez era began to an accompanying soundtrack of boos and plenty of vitriol as Chelsea drew with Manchester City. Next, it's to the top flight's other new managerial appointment, Harry Redknapp, who funnily enough didn't take charge of Ukraine, but has succeeded Mark Hughes at QPR. Finally, we round up all of the rest of the weekend's action and look forward to a cracking round of midweek fixtures, including Arsenal's trip to Everton, Tottenham's game with Liverpool and Reading's clash with Aston Villa. All of that plus sexy managers; the end of the title race in Spain; and Joey Barton's belated debut in Ligue 1.

Speaking of Joey Barton in France, we saw this yesterday but didn't put it in. He's speaking with reporters in English...with a French accent. Pretty bloody hilarious.

Sadly, we need to go back to the ugly scenes at White Hart Lane. Thankfully, Big Sam has changed his tune after being criticized (surprise!), and West Ham will take a strong stance. Good.

It is Tuesday, after all, so let's hear from Phil Ball. He's in Spain, in case you forgot. And he does not like fixtures on Fridays (neither do we). Sid is over there as well, of course. He's pretty much resigned to the fact that the La Liga title will go to Barcelona.

Interested in Major League Soccer? Avi Creditor has his season award picks here. Sticking with MLS for a second, it looks like New York will get second team and it will actually play in New York. The stadium deal in Queens is set to be sealed, according to Commish Garber. The Queens team can be your favorite team in 2016.

You might have noticed that Brazil fired their coach Mano Menezes a few days ago. Tim Vickery is down there, and he has this to say: When Brazil play well the players get the praise. When they disappoint the coach gets the blame.

Raphael Honigstein. The Bundesliga. Engulfed by flares and violence. Yikes!

Schalke fans turn up the heat...

Paolo Bandini. Serie A. It's getting tight at the top. Paolo filed Sunday so he didn't know what happened last night in the Monday fixtures. Inter lost and Napoli won. Done.

Speaking of matches not on the weekend, we've got some EPL action today. The juicy fixtures are tomorrow, but if you need to get a fix this afternoon, you've got Reading at Villa and QPR at Sunderland. How will 'Arry fare in his first match in charge at Rangers? Hopefully, he'll lose. Wanker.

Right! We've got American citizens plying their trade abroad. Guys like Gooch.

Let's finish once again with King Eric. Here are 20 of his greatest quotes. This is our favorite: "I didn't study; I live."



Monday, November 26, 2012

Kolo No Incognito, 'Arry's Back, Post-Thanksgiving Stuff(ing), West Ham Anti-Semitism

Sorry, we bailed for a few days there. The familial obligations took over and we had to shut down the SSN Headquarters for a few days in order to consume massive quantities of bland food. Thankfully, we're back open and ready for business with a healthy helping of hot sauce at the ready.

Why are you crying, Kolo...?

Where to begin? How about we look at what Kolo Toure's been up to of late? Check this shit out. Dude told some woman he was a car salesman while he had an affair with her for two years. He said his name was "Francois". The picture in the shower is priceless. Tip of the hat to SSN's France Bureau Chief J.D. for the heads up.

Right! It wouldn't be Monday without The Fifth Official. Luckily, this Fifth Official actually does something other than stand on the end line. Today there's plenty to go on. Mark Hughes sacked by QPR and 'Arry jumps in. Di Matteo sacked by Roman and Rafa fills in to the dismay of the Chelsea faithful. Plus, Brendan Rodgers can't beat his old club.

While we're on the EPL, let's quickly review. Manchester United are top after winning against QPR. Manchester City and Chelsea drew 0-0. West Brom won again and sit third. Villa and Arsenal couldn't score in a lovely Midlands downpour. Spurs beat West Ham but the Hammer fans had to go and get all anti-Semitic. What's the problem with Nazi salutes? "You're getting gassed in the morning?" Lovely. Here's what Sam Allardyce, West Ham's manager, had to say about the allegations: "I don't want to be a political animal - I'm here to talk about football and not what fans are saying and singing." Apparently, though, you DO want to be a cunt. Well played, then.

Here's a summary of what went down in England's top flight over the weekend. And some Talking Points for the water cooler.

Meanwhile, in Spain. Yes, La Liga. It's over. Barcelona won, Real Madrid lost. That's all you need to know. We think Barcelona are something like 11 points clear, so there you go. Sid and Phil will investigate tomorrow, but here's an interesting piece. Barcelona won this weekend with a team comprised completely of players developed at their academy. Love them or hate them, that's impressive.

Italy? Yes, Serie A. Milan managed to defeat Juventus thanks to a dodgy penalty. Paolo will investigate tomorrow.

Cantona Cantona Cantona. 20 years, now.

You know what? That's about it for today. We'll return with the guys in Europe tomorrow, along with more of the usual Tuesday fare.