Friday, November 22, 2013

Clubs Are Back, More Ronny, MLS, Merseyside Derby, Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich, Verona Derby, Lawro vs. The National

And what a week is was! The Internationals that mattered were surprisingly entertaining but everyone at SSN Headquarters is ready for club football to return. More than ready, really. OK, so we've got the shakes. Withdrawal ain't easy, folks. Before we look at what's on the docket, we'll look back one last time at the big story of the week...

We spoke at length about Ronaldo yesterday with SSN's Man in Lisbon, Pedro Santos. Pedro had this to say: "There's a lot of Portuguese people that doesn't like him. But, I never saw such communion since last night. The Blatter thing, and the hate around him, is making us supporting him. And, after so many years underachieving in the national team, he's really making the difference now. Finally we have the player that United and Madrid have." So, there you have it. A concise summary of where Ronny's countrymen & women are in terms of their relationship with their nation's biggest star. Here's the complete video of Blatter being his usual asshole self.

As we know, The Zlatan won't be going to the World Cup this year. The Joy of Six this week is Football Greats Who Never Made The World Cup.

This does not look like a boat, Qatar...
Weekend action! Not only do we celebrate the end of the international break, but we celebrate with some fine fixtures. Let's start in Germany where Borussia Dortmund host Bayern Munich. There are all sorts of juicy subplots revolving around the clash of German giants. The main talking point is Mario Götze's return to his old ground. Marcus Christenson brings us up to speed. Not to be outdone, Raphael Honigstein has a piece.

Back in England, the Merseyside Derby takes center stage (this will be the 221st time Everton and Liverpool have met) at Goodison Park tomorrow morning (7:45am EST on NBCSN). Here are some stats about the rivalry. There are some solid matches elsewhere in the realm as Manchester City host Tottenham, Arsenal host Southampton (1st vs. 3rd), and West Ham welcome Chelsea. Here's your lot for all the Premier League fun:

You notice we posted Merson's predictions even though he said this prior to United's match against Arsenal: I can't see Arsenal losing this game and if you ask even the staunchest Manchester United fan then I think they would say they'd be worried. If you've watched Arsenal and Man United this season then you'd have to say that...If Stoke can rip through Man United for 45 minutes then what can Arsenal do? I'm tipping a 3-1 away win and I honestly think that's the easiest call I'm making this week. Ouch!!

In Serie A, it's been eleven years since the last Verona Derby. That's one of five things to watch in Italy this week. And here's a more complete preview.

In Spain, Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid looking to pounce on wounded Barcelona. Lionel Messi, Dani Alves, Victor Valdés, Cesc Fàbregas, Xavi and Jordi Alba are all out of Saturday's game against Granada (or questionable).

USA! The second legs of the MLS Conference finals go down tomorrow and Sunday. In the West, you've got Real Salt Lake leading Portland 4-2. In the East, it's all even between Sporting KC and Dynamo at 0-0.

Back to Southampton. Here's your headline: From absurd to third: The rise of Southampton

More on The Class of '92: Nobody felt safe peeing at the training ground because Scholes would hit them with a ball from miles away!

On Wednesday we noted that a French TV presenter promised to do the weather in the nude if France managed to overturn their deficit against Ukraine. She made good on her promise. Technically. Booooo!

We'll finish today in Qatar where working are being treated like shit and people think one of the stadiums for the World Cup looks like an enormous vagina.



Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Class of '92, World Cup 2014 Set, Stoke No Go For Agudelo

Beckham. Scholes. Giggs. Butt. Neville. Neville. Love them or hate them, they were one hell of a group. The Class of 92 is about to be released, and Barry Glendenning says it's quite good. We're looking forward to checking it out. Barry's article includes the trailer.

Finally, finally, finally. All of the nations are set for Brazil this summer. Not surprisingly, Uruguay finished the job last night. What is surprising is that even playing at home, they were unable to score against Jordan. They scored five against Jordan in Jordan. Tim Vickery is in South America and takes a gander at Uruguay's sitch.

So. Down to 32. Tactical experts Michael Cox and Jonathan Wilson rate all 32 nations here. Number One? Spain and Brazil (tied). Number 32? Algeria.

Yank Juan Agudelo had high hopes of being Yank Abroad Juan Agudelo. Sadly, his hopes were dashed yesterday after his work permit request was denied. His move to Stoke is dead. Too bad, lad.

Orlando. The news broke yesterday that the fine central Floridian city will have the newest MLS team. Some dude named Alex Labidou wrote an article about the dangers of expansion.

That'll do for today. We're busy preparing for tomorrow when we'll have previews for loads of biggies including Everton/Liverpool, Dortmund/Bayern, Man City/Tottenham, Arsenal/Southampton, and Sevilla/Betis.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ronaldo Masterclass, France Revival, Mexico Cruise, Croatian Pro-Nazi Chants, Orlando City SC, The World Cup Is Nothing Without The Zlatan

What an afternoon, eh? Goodness gracious. We've got to begin with the Ronaldo hat-trick that sent Portugal to Brazil and left the Swedes sulking. SSN's man in Lisbon, Pedro Santos, is over the moon and faxed this lovely piece over the interwebs to SSN Headquarters this morning. Obviously, the finishing is top-notch. But, the passes. Oh, the passes! As you might expect, The Zlatan has taken the defeat quite well. He and Kanye should hang out. This link has his comments along with highlights, thoughts, etc.

Don't fret, France. You're on the plane. A highly dubious no-call allowed Benzema to score from an offside position but Les Bleus deserved their victory and the restored confidence that is the result of their impressive comeback. Amy Lawrence is talking about some sort of "new dawn" for the French. We must admit. We were rooting for France.

Croatia will travel this summer, as well. They ended the Icelandic dream with a 2-0 win at home. And then they celebrated with pro-Nazi chants. Good times. Check out the video below.

In the fourth UEFA match, the Greeks kept the formula the same and grabbed a draw in Romania to win 4-2 on aggregate. Here's a report. And here are some UEFA Playoff Thoughts to think about. Whoa! And here are ten things we learned from the internationals.

Down in Africa, Bob Bradley's Egypt won at home but Ghana advanced, and Algeria will hit the caipirinhas after their win over Burkina Faso.

Major League Soccer announced its 21st franchise. It'll be in Orlando. Florida. Central Florida. Congrats, Orlandoans. Orlandos? Orlandites? Anyway, look for the purple team to hit the pitch in 2015.

Croatian defender Joe Simunic gets the party started in Zagreb. Dick.

Right. No surprise that Mexico have made the big dance. Otra vez: De Nada, Chicos! Sorry. Yes, they won 4-2 down in Kiwi-land and Mexicans everywhere breathed a big sigh of relief. Andrea Canales takes a look.

You probably know that England lost to Germany at Wembley. And...we've got nothing.

The Zlatan is certainly not the only big name who won't be in Brazil this summer. Check out this Best European XI of players who will also miss out.

Finally, The United States were in action in Vienna. And they lost. They played, however, better than they did against Scotland. Here are three thoughts.

We are now up to speed.



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Who Goes To Brazil?, England vs. Germany, Austria vs. USA

No playing today, homies. Check it:

Who: Croatia vs. Iceland
Where: Maksimir Stadium, Zagreb
When: 2:15pm EST
U.S. TV: Stream = ESPN3
Current Scoreline: Croatia 0 - 0 Iceland

Who: Sweden vs. Portugal
Where: Friends Arena, Stockholm
When: 2:45pm EST
Current Scoreline: Sweden 0 - 1 Portugal

Who: France vs. Ukraine
Where: Stade de France, St. Denis (Paris)
When: 3pm EST
U.S. TV: Stream = ESPN3
Current Scoreline: France 0 - 2 Ukraine

Who: Romania vs. Greece
Where: National Arena, Bucharest
When: 3pm EST
U.S. TV: Stream = ESPN3
Current Scoreline: Romania 1 - 3 Greece


Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand
New Zealand and Mexico? Well, that's technically not today. You'll have to stay up until 1am (EST) in the morning to catch the action in Wellington. It's on ESPN. The Kiwis (or All Whites) have their work cut out for them. Here's a preview. Uhhhhh, de nada, Mexico.

In Africa, the Egypt/Ghana match is pretty much moot, but Burkina Faso and Algeria remain tight. Burkina Faso won the first leg at home (3-2) and it'll be tough to see things out in Blida in order to make their first ever World Cup. You can see that one at 1:15pm EST on beIN Sport USA. The stadium? Stade Mustapha Tchaker.
Stade Mustapha Tchaker, Blida, Algeria
OK, so it's just a friendly, but England vs. Germany is always a big match. Even when England stink. And they stink. Here's a preview. Maybe Lallana can provide some spark for the Three Lions. Things kick off at 3pm EST. U.S. TV is Fox Sports 1. And while we're at it, let's take a closer look at this German squad. One thing we know, they travel very wisely when in London.

In other friendly news, the United States is in action today. Yes, our boys are in Austria. Vienna, specifically. Ernst-Happel-Stadion, more specifically. Here's a preview. Things kick off at 2:45pm EST. U.S. TV is NBCSN. Thankfully, Gus Poyet understands why Yank Abroad Jozy Altidore isn't scoring goals for Sunderland. They'll come...

There are a lot of Brazilians playing in England. Is that good for the national team? Is that bad for the national team? Do you care? If so, read.

Low takes his lads to Wembley for training via the Tube
We'd like to finish today by introducing you to a league of gentlemen. They are extraordinary, but not in a good way. Far from it. They are the £150m flop squad. Come on and meet the Premier League summer signings who have failed to match the hype (and one who's already left)!

Enjoy the matches.



Monday, November 18, 2013

Ivory Coast, Nigeria & Cameroon Go To Brazil, European Action, Podcast, Chile, USA

You saw it right there. Three more nations booked their tickets to Brazil over the weekend. Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Cameroon will join the fun across the Atlantic. We'll have to wait until tomorrow to see who will fill the other two African spots (Spoiler Alert: Ghana gets one).

Meanwhile, tomorrow's matches in Europe will let us know if France will be drowning their sorrows in pâté, wine, bouillabaisse, and butter, or if they can make a resounding comeback in Paris and send Ukraine home to cry in their banosh with brynza. You see, France lost 2-0 on Friday. They were toothless. They were insipid. They were so poor that most of their countrymen and countrywomen have already given up hope.

Cameroon qualify and it's time to party
Who won the Battle of The Zlatan and CR9? Why, it was CR9! Yup. Ronny scored the only goal as Portugal downed the Swedes. Now back to Stockholm to see if they can handle the Swedish Team at home. More on that tomorrow.

In the other two games, Iceland held on with 10 men to salvage a nil-nil draw with Croatia, and Greece can almost smell the sands of Copacabana after their 3-1 win over Romania.

As you might expect, the Podcast folks are ready to discuss everything that happened in the world of international football. Go: Welcome to another one of Football Weekly's infamous international round-ups! On today's ultra-informed show, AC Jimbo is joined by Barry Glendenning, Jacob Steinberg and Gregg Bakowski to look back on all the World Cup play-offs and friendlies. Fortunately, our gang has a bit of help. Philippe Auclair ponders France's precarious predicament as they stare at the precipice following defeat to Ukraine, Marcus Christenson pops in to tell us why there's still hope for Sweden despite losing in Portugal, and Rafa Honigstein explains why England may yet beat a weakened Germany after the horror show against Chile.

And Martin Samuel has a column that outlines his confusion over the fact that Ronaldo, Ribery and Ibrahimovic might not go to the World Cup...but Panama will.

Chile beat England at Wembley and Tim Vickery takes a look at the South American side managed by Argentine Marcelo Bielsa.

The United States? Yes, they played Scotland. It was about as dreary as a, well, Friday evening in November in Glasgow. 0-0. Three Thoughts? Fine. Sacha Kljestan? Fine.

Fans in Addis Ababa watch as their side fall to Nigeria
So! The European matches are tomorrow, New Zealand host Mexico tomorrow, Egypt and Ghana clash tomorrow, Algeria and Burkina Faso finish tomorrow, and Uruguay host Jordan on Wednesday. And then we're done. Thank The Lord.