Friday, August 08, 2008

2008 Beijing Olympics: Sunday's Schedule

5:00am EDT

Argentina vs. Australia
Nigeria vs. Japan
New Zealand vs. Brazil
Cameroon vs. Honduras

7:00am EDT
Serbia vs. Ivory Coast
United States vs. Netherlands
Belgium vs. China
Italy vs. South Korea

EPL Season Previews: Hull, Liverpool and Manchester City

It would be beautifully mad if Hull survived but it's not going to happen.


Anfield's nearly men will remain just that.


City's prospects look bright but Thaksin's travails will determine progress as much as Mark Hughes's management.

Manchester City

The Mill + ++

Friday's Rumours



Scottish Premier League Previews

The SPL kicks off this weekend with Celtic looking to claim their fourth title on the trot...

It will take another season of masterstrokes from Walter Smith to prevent the title staying at Parkhead.

Celtic are not laughing at Rangers demise

Arsenal: Carling Cup Sacrifices and The Pre-Mature Return of Bad Luck

Traditionally Wenger has used the Carling Cup to give the young players a chance. But there is an underlying tension amongst fans that if Arsenal doesn’t collect any silverware this year then integral players such as Fabregas and Adebayor will leave. With this in mind, I ask whether or not it is worth fielding a “B” Team for the entirety of the Carling Cup campaign.

Wenger's starting Carling Cup left midfielder warms up...

Lyon start bid for eighth successive French title

French champions Lyon hope to get their quest for an eighth successive Ligue 1 title off to a good start when they host Toulouse on Sunday in the opening round of the season.

Business as usual for new-look Lyon

2008 Community Shield: Portsmouth vs. Manchester United

The Community Shield is the annual pre-season event that pits the winner of the FA Cup against the winner of the Premier League. It's an exhibition match for charity but can often provide some tense action since it's usually contested between fierce rivals. For the first time in God knows how long (mid-90s?) the Shield features a club outside the "Big Four."
Neville and Carrick named in United squad

Rooney and Ronaldo not named in United squad

Pompey take big shot at United dominance

Roy Keane and Mark Hughes with the Shield in 1993

Desperation hangs over England football Championship madhouse

A sense of desperation hangs over the Championship as the race for the Premier League promised land starts again this weekend. Everywhere you look clubs who have dined at English football's top table are struggling to come to terms with their reduced status ahead of Saturday's kick-off. Even those who are well used to competing outside the elite are struggling to maintain their cool. Such is life in England's most cut-throat division.

Two Similar Views on the Ronaldo Saga

Even when his explanation is composed so plainly and yet articulately, it is hard to find much sincerity in a player whose ego allowed him to sanction the publication, in what passes as a biography, of an image of himself smouldering in a shower beside the caption: "I like to feel good with my body
United will be followed by a darkening Ronaldo cloud
Ronaldo woos United fans but Real love will be back

Rafa Cursed!

Liverpool manager says winning the European Cup in his first season inspired unrealistic expectations at Anfield
Benitez rues 'curse' of Istanbul

Broken Calderon

When Ferguson attacked Real with talk of Franco, and Queiroz likened the Spaniards' pursuit of Ronaldo to an Iberian border dispute, a clearly stung Calderon took a step back from the soap opera that had begun to dominate the summer
Calderon's credibility lies in tatters

Thursday, August 07, 2008

2008 Beijing Olympics: Thursday's Results (updating as available)

Brazil were made to work for it but got their campaign for Olympic Gold off to a winning start with a 1-0 victory over nine-man Belgium at the Shenyang Olympic Stadium.
Brazil 1 - 0 Belgium

Grumpy Dunga complains about the pitch...and says it's too hot.

Italy got first-half goals from forwards Sebastian Giovinco and Giuseppe Rossi, and Robert Acquafresca added another in the second as Italy beat Honduras 3-0 in its opening Olympic soccer match.
Honduras 0 - 3 Italy

It's too hot, says Serb coach
Australia 1 - 1 Serbia

Late Acosta strike rescues Argentina
Argentina 2 - 1 Ivory Coast

Thursday Wrap

Japan 0-1 United States: Holden nets winner

Stuart Holden ended the United States' three-game scoring drought with a goal in the second half, giving the Americans a 1-0 victory over Japan on Thursday in the Olympic opener for both.

Jen Chang's Take

Nowak Proud of His Boys

Sir Bobby admits defeat in battle against cancer

Former England manager Sir Bobby Robson has admitted he will lose his battle with lung cancer 'sooner rather than later'.

EPL Season Preview: Fulham

It's never easy to pre-judge a team who've been revamped so quickly, but Roy Hodgson's team could well avoid another nerve-shredding dogfight.

Marcela Mora y Araujo in Argentina

We still don't know whether Lionel Messi will be allowed to play, but Argentina remain confident for a tournament they love.
Argentina's Olympic heritage will withstand Messi saga

We already know that he's playing...and scoring. But I like her articles. -Ed.

The Mill + ++ +++

Thursday's Rumours




Ronaldo: Why I am Staying at United

After months of speculation Cristiano Ronaldo last night confirmed he will definitely be playing at Manchester United next season.

The winger admits he did desire a move to Real Madrid this summer for a "new challenge" and to be closer to his family but he has now committed his "heart and soul" to United and says he wants to help the club retain the European Cup next year.

Full Ronaldo Interview

Fulham finally complete £10.5m deal for Johnson

Andrew Johnson has completed his transfer from Everton to Fulham for an undisclosed fee, believed to be an initial £10.5million.

Can Birmingham, Reading and Derby bounce back?

Paul Fletcher wonders whether Derby, Birmingham or Reading can win promotion.

Bundesliga Season Preview: Borussia Dortmund

With the start of a very exciting Bundesliga season upon us, previews two teams daily as a part of our build-up. Next up is Borussia Dortmund...

Clubs U-Turn Over Olympic Brazilians (and Messi?)

In a remarkable backtrack, Bundesliga sides Werder Bremen and Schalke 04 have released their respective Brazilian players to join up with their olympic team, after it was revealed they had won their case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport...

Barcelona are set to allow Lionel Messi to remain in Beijing for the Olympic Games, according to reports in the Spanish press.

Ref Clattenburg suspended in debt probe

Clattenburg is alleged to have run up debts relating to companies connected to him, forcing the Football Association and the referees body Professional Game Match Officials Ltd to act.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

2008 Beijing Olympics - Spoiler Alert

Since the soccer matches take place early in the morning, SSN will have results listed around the start of the work day for viewers on the East Coast. If you plan to tape matches to view after work, I'd suggest you keep away unless you want to know the result.

The U.S. begins play early tomorrow morning against Japan, in what most people are calling a "must win" match.

The other countries in our group at Holland and Ivory Coast.

Barcelona win appeal to prevent Lionel Messi playing in Olympic Games

Barcelona, Werder Bremen and Schalke 04 had taken their case to CAS after arguing that Fifa's position that it was "mandatory" for all players aged 23 and under to be released was not enforceable as the Olympics do not appear on Fifa's official calendar.

Bradley Chasing Pot of Gold in China

Of all the players in the Olympic men’s soccer tournament, few have as much to gain over the next few weeks as American Michael Bradley.

Court orders Inter to pay fan upset by 'existential damage'

The Italian champions Internazionale have been ordered to pay a Napoli fan €1,500 (£1,190) for "existential damage" caused by banners displayed during a match at San Siro last October calling Naples the "sewer of Italy".

EPL Season Previews: Chelsea & Everton

With a canny manager and the most talented squad in the league, expect at least one trophy to head to Stamford Bridge.

Unless a threadbare squad is rapidly reinforced, David Moyes will struggle to mastermind a repeat of last season's fifth-place finish.

United and Liverpool Worry Over Fitness of Rooney & Stevie G

Manchester United
and England were dealt a severe blow last night when Wayne Rooney was ruled out of the start of the season and possibly much longer after being struck down by a tropical virus during his club’s controversial trip to Nigeria late last month.

boss Rafael Benitez could be without captain Steven Gerrard for next week's Champions League qualifier against Standard Liege. 'It is a thigh strain. We need to wait but it could be one week,' Benitez told

The Mill + ++ +++

Wednesday's Rumours




Bundesliga Team-By-Team Preview: Schalke

Clark Whitney looks at how the Gelsenkirchen heroes will fare as the Bundesliga prepared to kick off for a new season...

Another SSN favorite returns...

Champions League Qualifying: FBK Kaunas 2 - 1 Rangers

Rangers' European exit just the start of Smith's problems

Can anyone tell me why DeMarcus Beasley didn't even make the bench for this tie? He returned and played well at the end of last season but there's been no sign of him of late. -Ed.

Norman Hubbard: Spurs left to plug goals gap

The cliché is that goals - and by extension, goalscorers - win games, not their suppliers. Tottenham seem intent on putting that long-established theory to the test this season. They may lose a 46-goal strike partnership this summer but Robbie Keane, sold to Liverpool, and Dimitar Berbatov, wanted by Manchester United, could not earn them a top-half finish in the Premier League last year. Exit the goal machines, it seems, and enter the inventors.

Revolution make a statement by downing Dynamo

Dell 'Apa: All-out brawls marked the postgame events of the semifinals. But the final became as much a bonding experience for the players as an occasion for the New England Revolution to gain vengeance on the Houston Dynamo.

New England triumphed 6-5 in a penalty shootout after double overtime had seen both teams tied at 2-2.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I Saw Barca/Chivas And It Was Fun

Barcelona met Mexican giants Chivas at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday and the result was a somewhat low key enjoyable 5-2 goalfest which Barca won comfortably. They got goals from new players (Alexander Hleb), old vets (Xavi), players slated for departure (Eto'o with 2), attacking players (Pedro) and defenders (Jose Caceres). Chivas ran out a first team that was shredded but their B team played respectably in the second half, especially Jesus Padilla who beat Carly Puyol like a rented mule in bagging a peach of a goal. There are plenty of recaps out there which will do a better job of telling you what happened, for instance here and here, so I won't waste your time with any of that. Instead here are a few observations from row 9 by the corner flag:

- Interesting choices up front to start. With no Messi new manager Pep Guardiola started with Pedro in the wide right position, Hleb through the middle as the target man and Theirry Henry wide left. It seemed to be a baffling decision to say the least; I don't know enough about Pedro to comment, but Hleb in the middle is a head scratcher as he's more of a hold up player than a finisher. Henry is wasted on the left. With little room to open up the jets and no good angle to shoot he was left to make a lot of feints, back pass and take the ball to the corner. He'll never be the same player in Spain as the defenses play further back than they do in England, but Barca would have gotten the same production out of any number of run of the mill left wingers out there.

- Dani Alves appears to have a lot less to do at Barca than he did at Sevilla. With Sevilla he had the run of the right wing and at due to Barca's 3 man midfield he's got a good deal of space to work with up to a point, but the presence of the third striker on the right limits his attacking options in the final third. A shame as when he's on the fly there's no more entertaining right back in the world. Second Sevilla signing Keita looks very strong in the central holding role. It's going to be a tough year for the Andalucians having lost that much talent.

- All of the stars of Spain's run to glory at Euro 2008 were there, which was a pleasant surprise. Xavi and Iniesta both played magnificently and showed how well suited their skills are to the slower pace of the Spanish game. Neither are flyers but are capable of keeping the ball until the killer pass materializes.

- Puyol's hair looks just as ridiculous in person as it does on TV. Combined with Rafa Marquez's samurai knot and Jose Caceres' greasy mane hanging to mid-back Barca could have Europe's silliest backline hair combination. Only Dani Alves sports a look your mother would approve of.

- Why are Barca selling Eto'o? He came in early in the second half and easily converted the two chances that came his way. Much of it had to do with great build up play, but he simply finishes everything. Nobody else on that team plays as a pure finisher as well as he does and the mark of a great goal scorer is scoring the ones he should score as well as the freak goals and feats of skill. They'd be fools to play Hleb ahead of him and I doubt they can win without him given the amount of talent Real has stockpiled.

- Chivas fans know how to have a good time. The crowd was roughly 2/3 for Chivas and their fans were remarkably good spirited compared to other matches I've attended. The Mexican wave made its rounds, the Chivas cheers were endless and people seemed to enjoy themselves without getting too worked up about the result. The only annoying aspects were the people surrounding me seeming much more interested in getting on TV than watching the match and the guy sitting behind me in the Mexico keeper shirt (clearly a Caucasian American) whose running string of inane and repetitive commentary in the first 20 minutes nearly caused my head to explode. And even he took it like a champ when I turned around and told him to shut the fuck up. He didn't pour his beer on me and the rest of the game was much more enjoyable. All in a good day's fun.

Win or bust as Rangers face moment of truth

The Ibrox club are going through one of their intermittently glum periods, having drawn 0-0 in Glasgow with FBK Kaunas last Wednesday in the second qualifying round, first leg, before being routed and humiliated by Liverpool at Ibrox on Saturday.

This evening, Rangers face the Lithuanian team again, and the flak will fly in Walter Smith’s direction if he doesn’t guide his team to a final qualifier against Aalborg BK later in the month.

Bundesliga Team-By-Team Preview: Werder Bremen

Once again Werder Bremen entertained everybody last season with their attacking brand of football that saw goals aplenty, but once again their title challenge fizzled out. Can Thomas Schaaf stiffen his side’s resolve and provide a real challenge for this season’s Bundesliga? Mathew Burt looks closer...

EPL Season Previews: Blackburn & Bolton

Paul Ince's big-time experience and galvanising qualities are what Rovers will seek to harness as they look to push on this season.

Gary Megson's men will do enough to ensure a successful campaign - given that success round these parts is defined solely by survival.

Gabriele Marcotti: A welcome lack of patriot games

If you like your clichés corny and your stereotypes tired, you would have loved last week’s New England Revolution versus Atlante clash. The occasion was the semi-final of the North American SuperLiga, an embryonic faux Champions League pitting the four best sides from Major League Soccer and Mexico.

The Mill + ++

Tuesday's Rumours



English Debate: Are Spurs About To Overtake Arsenal?

After a significant summer of transfer activity so far in North London, Graham Lister asks whether Tottenham Hotspur are finally ready to oust neighbours Arsenal from the Premier League’s ‘Big Four’…

Bundesliga Season Preview: Bayer Leverkusen

Finishing seventh last season ultimately cost trainer Michael Skibbe his job and Leverkusen have taken a punt on young trainer Bruno Labbadia for the forthcoming campaign.

Is he the one to finally take a highly promising young Bayer side onto the next level?

Superliga Final Preview: New England Revolution v. Houston Dynamo

New England Revolution vs.
Houston Dynamo
When: 8 pm ET
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA
TV: TeleFutura

Thrice is nice, as an all-MLS affair at Gillette Stadium pits the Revs and the Dynamo in yet another final. Can the third time be a charm for the perpetual runners up Revolution?

Championship Preview: Barnsley to Wolves

Richard Jolly looks at every club in England's second division...

Monday, August 04, 2008

Hamburg announce Van Der Vaart Madrid deal

Van der Vaart, whose mother is Spanish, said: 'Last night everything came together and I am now moving to Real Madrid.

Moving the family to Spain...

French football icon Thuram retires

Lilian Thuram's retirement has meant one of France's finest players of the past decade, who transcended the sport and made an impact in political and social circles, has finally hung up his boots.