Friday, May 07, 2010

The Joy of Six: Political Footballs

From Hitler to Mussolini, via a Cup final assassination and a terrifying Keegan/Hughes/Thatcher coalition.

Gareth Barry injury throws his World Cup summer into doubt

England may have to tear up their World Cup plans after news that the vital holding midfielder Gareth Barry is in danger of missing the competition.

Early this afternoon Barry's club manager, Roberto Mancini, confirmed that Barry's sprained ankle is "not good" and that he may be out for four weeks.

2010 World Cup: The Ghana Squad

Ghana were the only African side to make it into the second of the 2006 World Cup in Germany where they lost to Brazil.

Goalkeepers: Richard Kingston (Wigan, England) Daniel Adjei (Liberty Professionals), Stephen Ahorlu (Hearts of Lions) , Stephen Adams (Aduana Stars)

Defenders: Samuel Inkoom (Basle, Switzerland), Hans Sarpei (Bayer Leverkusen, Germnay) Lee Addy (Bechem Chelsea), John Mensah (Sunderland, England), Rahim Ayew (Zamalek, Egypt), Isaac Vorsah (Hoffenheim, Germany), John Pantsil (Fulham, England), Jonathan Mensah (Granada, Spain) Eric Addo (Roda JC, Holland)

Midfielders: Dede Ayew (Arlese Avignon, France) Michael Essien (Chelsea, England) Kwadwo Asamoah (Udinese, Italy) Agyemang Badu (Udinese, Italy) Stephen Appiah (Bologna, Italy) Anthony Annan (Rosenborg, Norway) Haminu Dramani (Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia), Sulley Muntari (Inter Milan, Italy) Quincy Owusu-Abeyie (Al Sadd, Qatar), Derek Boateng (Getafe, Spain) Bernard Kumordzi (Panionios, Greece) , Laryea Kingston (Hearts, Scotland), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Portsmouth, England)

Strikers: Prince Tagoe (Hoffenheim, Germany) Asamoah Gyan (Rennes, France), Dominic Adiyiah (AC Milan, Italy), Matthew Amoah (NAC Breda, Holland)

England: Premier League Weekend Previews, Predictions & Table

With fourth place now decided, all eyes are on where the top-flight crown is destined. League leaders Chelsea host Wigan Athletic while Manchester United welcome Stoke City to Old Trafford.

Elsewhere, Arsenal must avoid defeat against Fulham if they are to fend off UEFA Champions League-bound Tottenham Hotspur who are hungry for third, while Hull City, Burnley and Portsmouth play their final Premier League fixtures for at least another campaign.

Preview I
Preview II

Burnley vs. Tottenham: Preview

Lawro's Predictions

Manchester United3782
Tottenham Hotspur3770
Manchester City3766
Aston Villa3764
Stoke City3747
Blackburn Rovers3747
Bolton Wanderers3736
Wigan Athletic3736
Wolverhampton Wanderers3735
West Ham United3734
Hull City3729

Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview + Table

Mourinho hopes that Inter can carry their momentum into the final two Serie A games and hang on to their two-point lead over Roma. Inter face little threat in the final two Serie A games against Chievo on Sunday and Siena the following weekend.Roma play Cagliari and Chievo and would win the title if they finish even on points because they drew and beat Inter in the direct league clashes.A charged game takes place in the island of Sicily, where Palermo welcome Sampdoria, holding a two-point lead in the race for the last of four Champions League berths.


AS Roma3622862474
AC Milan36191071967
Chievo Verona3612816-244

Spain: La Liga Weekend Previews + Table

There is still all to play for in the La Liga title race heading into the penultimate round of fixtures after rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid both claimed 4-1 wins this midweek. Barca, who face second-bottom Real Valladolid in their final match, have a tough trip to fourth-placed Sevilla, while Madrid are at home to eighth-placed Athletic Bilbao before finishing their campaign at struggling Malaga.


Eduardo Alvarez's Previews

Real Madrid3630246392
Sevilla FC36186121660
Athletic Bilbao3614913-151
Atlético Madrid3613716-146
Deportivo La Coruña3612816-1344
Real Zaragoza36101016-1740
Sporting Gijon3691215-1339
Racing Santander3681216-1836

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Preview + Table

Nuernberg – Koeln
Hertha BerlinBayern Munich
Wolfsburg – Eintracht Frankfurt
Borussia M’gladbach – Bayer Leverkusen
Mainz – Schalke
Bochum – Hannover
Hoffenheim – Stuttgart
Freiburg – Borussia Dortmund
Werder Bremen – Hamburg

The Final Weekend

Bayern Munich33191043967
Schalke 043319772264
Werder Bremen3317973160
Bayer Leverkusen33151352758
Borussia Dortmund3316981457
VfB Stuttgart3315991054
Hamburg SV33131281551
VfL Wolfsburg3313812447
Eintracht Frankfurt33121011-546
TSG Hoffenheim3311814241
FC Cologne3391113-838
Borussia Monchengladbach3310815-1738
SC Freiburg338817-2632
Hannover 96338619-2730
VfL Bochum3361017-2828
Hertha Berlin335919-2024

Friday MLS Forecast

The Forecast lauds Montreal's MLS arrival before discussing its Week 7 choices.

Sam Kelly in Argentina

"One of the greatest players in the history of Argentine football," was how one TV pundit described him a few weeks ago. It's a huge epithet to bestow on any player, but in the case of Juan Roman Riquelme, it might be justified.

The Week That Was

This was the week that Snoop Dogg teaches David Beckham to rap, Louis Vuitton design a man-bag for the World Cup trophy, Wayne Rooney reveals Coco Pops are the key to his success and Francesco Totti takes down Mario Balotelli with an unmissable 'tackle'.

Manchester United to embark on five-match tour to US, Canada, Mexico

Manchester United will embark on a five-match pre-season tour of the United States, Canada and Mexico this summer.

Celtic v Manchester United
July 16, Rogers Centre, Toronto

Philadelphia Union v Manchester United
July 21, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia

Kansas City Wizards v Manchester United
July 25, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas

MLS All-Stars v Manchester United
July 28, Reliant Stadium, Houston

Chivas v Manchester United
July 30, Guadalajara

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Spurs must heed warnings from history to get into the Champions League

From an admittedly quick glance at Europe’s elite competition since Everton last broke into the Premier League’s top four, it seems fair to say that only one side – David Moyes’s team’s conquerors that year, Villarreal – have taken to life in the Champions League with immediate aplomb. It may not be a stretch to suggest that, the Spanish minnows apart, not one debutant has escaped the group stage in the last five years.

Richard Williams' Column

Six Tottenham players impressed during their victory over Manchester City and must be in Fabio Capello's thoughts.

Harry Redknapp's England contingent on course for South Africa as well.

Ten to watch – the World Cup contenders out to convince Fabio Capello

Guardian writers give their thoughts on who the England manager should scout before he names his 30-man squad on Tuesday.

Inter 1-0 Roma: Diego Milito Powers Nerazzurri To Coppa Italia Triumph

Inter defeated Roma 1-0 in the Coppa Italia final at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Wednesday night to keep their hopes of a historic treble alive. A wonderful Diego Milito strike five minutes before half-time was enough for the Serie A leaders to win the Italian Cup for the sixth time in their history. Roma had Francesco Totti sent off late in the second half.

2010 World Cup: Germany pick surprise names

Germany Squad

Goalkeepers: Hans-Jorg Butt, Manuel Neuer, Tim Wiese.

Defenders: Per Mertesacker, Heiko Westermann, Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Andrea Beck, Arne Friedrich, Serdar Tasci, Marcell Jansen, Holger Badstuber, Dennis Aogo.

Midfielders: Michael Ballack, Sami Khedira, Piotr Trochowski, Marko Marin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Christian Trasch, Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos.

Forwards: Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose, Stefan Kiessling, Cacau, Thomas Muller, Mario Gomez.

Sid Lowe in Spain

While Barça and Madrid duke it out for the title, almost everything else in Spain is still up for grabs with a fortnight left.

3,486,784,401 reasons to tune in to a ridiculously dramatic La Liga finale.

Spain: La Liga Wednesday Review

Cristiano Ronaldo struck his first Real Madrid hat-trick as the title hopefuls produced a brilliant second-half display to down Real Mallorca 4-1 and trim the gap on leaders Barcelona back to one point with two games remaining in Spain's La Liga.

Sevilla shrugged off the absence of star striker Luis Fabiano to destroy Racing Santander 5-1 at El Sardinero.

Both sides were desperate for a win with Sevilla two points off the Champions League places and Racing just one point above the relegation zone.


Beasley not expecting new deal from Rangers

"Rangers haven't spoken to me about coming back so I guess you can put two and two together and make your own conclusions,'' said Beasley, whose three years in Scottish football have been blighted by injury. "But never say never. I would consider (a pay cut) so I wouldn't count that out.

England: Tottenham Defeat Manchester City and Claim Final Champions League Spot

Manchester City 0 - 1 Tottenham
Kevin McCarra at the City of Manchester Stadium
James Ducker at the City of Manchester Stadium
Richard Jolly at the City of Manchester Stadium
Patrick Barclay: Redknapp deserves praise
Phil McNulty: Redknapp joins the elite

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

World Cup 2010: Heartbreak Hotel

With just over a month to go until kick-off in South Africa, attention is slowly being drawn away from the respective domestic leagues and focused onto the 32 teams. While the latest FIFA rankings show that a poor qualifying campaign (Argentina and Portugal) can elevate you up the table, it is the training bases, team meetings and fitness camps that will dominate the headlines until the next round of friendlies arrive, but it has not all been plain sailing, especially for Nigeria.

English Premier League: Manchester City vs. Tottenham

Match Preview

Kevin McCarra:
Redknapp's nous vital for Spurs

Big Four Showdown

Daniel Taylor:
Mancini confident of club's future

Player Ratings


Quotes & Chants of the Week

"They started in that tournament in July. July! Crikey. I was on the beach." Sir Alex Ferguson on why Roy Hodgson deserves the Manager of the Year award, after steering Fulham to the Europa League final.

"I remember seeing Boy George sing for the first time and having a debate with my mates as to whether it was a boy or a girl. The fact he was called Boy George was a bit of a clue."
Matt Le Tissier on his 80s dilemma.

"We've won seven out the last eight league games, and we can't do any more than that."
Harry Redknapp ahead of Spurs' clash with Manchester United.

"If you expose the opposition's weaknesses enough, then, in the end, those weaknesses will be exposed." Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce stating the obvious after beating the mighty Arsenal.

Commentator 1: "Looks like he's pulled his groin and has to come off."
Commentator 2: "Yeah, he must have done it during the one or two touches he's had in this game..."
Commentators describing Maxi Rodriguez's impact after 43 mins during Liverpool v Chelsea.

"I just want to say one simple word. Thank you."
Avram Grant in his speech to Portsmouth fans. I don't think maths is his strong point.

"We're just a town full of bigots!"
Rochdale fans in the wake of Gordon Brown's visit to the town and the subsequent 'Bigot-gate'.

The Rest

Spain: La Liga Tuesday Review

A Lionel Messi brace helped Barcelona beat Tenerife 4-1 to move four points clear at the top of La Liga.

Madrid travel to fourth-placed Mallorca on Wednesday night in what looks like the hardest remaining fixture for Manuel Pellegrini's side.


World Cup 2010: Star players who will miss out on finals

Ruud van Nistelrooy has become the latest player to be told he risks not featuring at the World Cup 2010. Here are some others who have been snubbed by their national team coaches or have ruled themselves out of selection.

England: Some News

Harry fury at City over Bellamy

Chamakh "counting the days" until Arsenal move

Foster ready to leave United

Campbell secures extra year at Arsenal

More Americans in Europe

Fulham's Europa League adventure, which began way back in July, continues. Clint Dempsey is looking for a starting spot when the Cottagers meet Atletico Madrid in the May 12 final. Jozy Altidore's season didn't end the way he wanted, while Eddie Johnson kept his faint World Cup hopes alive by netting twice for Aris.

Here's the latest fortnightly roundup of Americans in Europe.

Carlos Valderrama: Colombian King

With his frizzy mop of hair, sparkling jewellery and colourful personality, Carlos Alberto Valderrama Palacio is unquestionably one of the most recognisable footballers to have graced the World Cup.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The World Cup’s Stars Wear Their Flags—And Little Else—For Annie Leibovitz

For the June issue of Vanity Fair, Annie Leibovitz set out to capture some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba, Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o, and Brazil’s Kaká. Leibovitz’s portraits are, well, revealing. And underwear has never looked so patriotic. In America, these men might not enjoy the same name recognition as the stars of the N.F.L.—that game that we call football—but for most of the planet, they are more than just showstoppers. They are gods.

Henry Winter: Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez must leave now or risk tainting the club’s proud history

If Rafael Benítez truly respects Liverpool Football Club he'll leave Anfield today. The players have lost the faith, the boardroom is unimpressed with the politicking and the supporters are suffering, albeit in silence.

Rafael Benitez's five best and worst transfers at Liverpool

With Rafael Benitez said to be on the verge of ending his six-year tenure as Liverpool manager to take over at Juventus, Telegraph Sport looks at the five best and worst signings of the Spaniard's reign.

World Cup 2010: Laurent Blanc set to replace Raymond Domenech as France coach

Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc has been offered the chance to replace France coach Raymond Domenech after the World Cup, French football federation (FFF) president Jean-Pierre Escalettes has disclosed.

World Cup 2010: Ruud van Nistelrooy axed from Holland training squad

"My assistants and I have seen a lot of Ruud playing recently. We don't think it would be useful to call him up at the first step but that does not mean that he's out of the picture," the coach said.

"I'm giving myself until May 11 to decide. I'm leaving him until that date to convince me that he is sufficiently in shape to take part in the World Cup."

Spain: La Liga Midweek Preview

With just three games left in La Liga, Barcelona are in the pole position to retain their league title but there is no room for error with eternal rivals Real Madrid breathing down their necks a point behind in second.

Barcelona overcame one of their most difficult fixtures with a 4-1 win at Villarreal on Saturday and entertain strugglers Tenerife on Tuesday at Camp Nou knowing a slip-up could allow Real to snatch the title from their grasp.

Sid Lowe in Spain

A year ago, Valencia were €547m in debt and on the brink of going bust. Now, however, the Champions League beckons.

Valencia's brilliant bluff pays off as they close in on a winning hand.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Hard-working Schalke have no style and even less money but they deserve to be the Bundesliga's runners-up this season.

Schalke find something beautiful in being second best.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

Roma's director Gian Paolo Montali said 'even Inter' may be embarrassed after an easy win at Lazio kept them top.

Lazio roll over to leave Roma railing at 'absurdity' of Serie A. MLS Rankings: Week 6

Houston climbs four spots after Saturday's 3-0 thrashing of Kansas City, but Los Angeles retains the top spot in this week's MLS Rankings.

Iain Dowie Blasts Jozy Altidore For Bad Training Habits

"I've spoken to Jozy [Altidore] a number of times since I've been here and, if Jozy can train the way he plays, I think he's got a great opportunity but he needs to understand that it's day in, day out,” added Dowie.

“He's a lovely, laid-back boy and there's no bad side to him but he needs to focus on training at a better level. You've got to stretch yourself every day in training."

Americans On The Continent: Six For Safety

Eddie Johnson, Aris Thessaloniki (Greece)

Vs. Olympiakos, 2-0, 90 minutes, 2 Goals; Away to PAOK FC, 0-2, 90 minutes

Freddy Adu and Eddie Johnson started and went the full 90 against Olympiakos in Champions League qualifying, with Johnson netting both goals as Aris Thessaloniki won 2-0 thanks to two goals from Johnson and an assist from Freddy Adu. Traveling to PAOK, Aris then fell 2-0, with Johnson playing the full 90 and Adu getting 66 minutes on the day. With the loss, Aris sits in third place behind PAOK and Olympiakos with three points to their seven, respectively.

The Rest

Americans In The UK: Destination Relegation For A Group Of Americans

Mike Grella, Leeds United

Grella came on for the final six minutes but Charlton got a tricky goal late, winning 1-0 against Leeds. Leeds now needs a win next week to clinch automatic promotion.

The Rest

England: Monday's Premier League Reports

Wigan 2 - 2 Hull City
Andy Hunter at DW Stadium

Blackburn 2 - 1 Arsenal
Paul Wilson at Ewood Park

Phil Ball in Spain

I can rarely remember a week that has featured so much chit-chat about managers. Sometimes you begin to wonder whether the players matter any more. Mourinho this, Mourinhno that. The implications of Barcelona's elimination from the Champions League last week spread far and wide, but in Spain all that matters is that Mourinho has allegedly proved himself eligible for the Bernabeu hot-seat.

St Pauli schlägt zurück

The Boys in Brown are back in the Bundesliga. Here's a nice little article on their return from the BBC...
St Pauli ready to hoist the Jolly Roger over the Bundesliga

Monday, May 03, 2010

Liverpool's downfall highlights the flaws in Rafael Benítez's squad

The Liverpool manager may have four more years on his contract to stay at Anfield but something has to give.

Shakira’s World Cup anthem doesn’t impress some

Pop star Shakira’s official World Cup anthem “Waka Waka” has received an unofficial “No, no” from South Africans.

The song, which is a collaboration with South African band Freshlyground, was released to radio stations last week but has not hit the right note with football fans in the host country.

“Waka Waka—Time for Africa” takes its inspiration from Cameroonian music, but South Africans aren’t convinced Colombian singer Shakira is the right person to represent Africa’s first World Cup.

Premier League final-day title deciders

For the fifth time since the inception of the Premier League, the title race will go down to the final day of the season as Chelsea host Wigan Athletic and Manchester United take on Stoke City at Old Trafford on Sunday. Telegraph Sport looks back at the top flight's tightest finishes and where the trophy ended up.

Steve McClaren singing in the rain as his Twente team win Dutch championship

As the rain careered down in the Rat Verlegh Stadium, Steve McClaren was damned if he was going to offer the prospect of any cheap photo opportunities. So 'the wally with the brolly' was not about to metamorphose in front of our eyes into 'that clever feller under the umbrella'.

Monday MLS Breakdown: Same Old Frustrating Story For FC Dallas

FC Dallas once again collected fewer points than it deserved in Saturday's 1-1 draw at New England. The phenomenon continues because FCD can't find its range in front of goal or in the defensive third, according to Kyle McCarthy.

Crystal Palace draw condemns Sheffield Wednesday to the drop

It was always going to end in tears, and it still might for Crystal Palace's supporters depending on their club's future, but the only long faces here were wearing Sheffield Wednesday's colours. Darren Purse's goal three minutes from time set up a dramatic finale but Palace managed to hang on to escape finishing in the bottom three and condemn Wednesday to League One football next season.

Eight fans were arrested during the violence that flared following Sheffield Wednesday's relegation to League One, South Yorkshire police said today. The club have promised that those found guilty will be banned from Hillsborough for life.

Is there a way to stop end-of-season farces?

AS Roma are absolutely livid after Inter Milan regained the lead in Serie A with a 2-0 win at Lazio, where the home fans cheered the goals as much as the away supporters. Lazio fans hate Roma so much that many of them wanted their own side to lose on Sunday as it meant their bitter city rivals were knocked off top spot.

Italy: Serie A Weekend Review

Inter Milan regained top spot in Serie A with a 2-0 win away to Lazio.

Roma had gone one point clear with Saturday's win at Parma, but Jose Mourinho's side continued their good form with goals from Walter Samuel (45) and Thiaggo Motta (70).