Friday, October 15, 2010

US company NESV set to announce purchase of Liverpool

New England Sports Ventures are set to complete their takeover of Liverpool after the club's co-owners removed the restraining order blocking any sale.

Tom Hicks and George Gillett accepted defeat in their bid to prevent a sale to NESV but say they will pursue £1bn damages, arguing the deal is "illegal".

Carlisle: Holden right there

Whenever an American player heads overseas, the move is fraught with questions. Will he settle in quickly and crack the starting lineup, or will he find himself in purgatory, forgotten, and left to rot on the bench?

Fortunately for Bolton Wanderers and U.S. international midfielder Stuart Holden, getting playing time at a top club hasn't been a problem.

Merseyside Derby Moments

Ahead of Sunday's meeting between Everton and Liverpool, ESPNsoccernet selects the First XI moments from the match that has historically been known as the 'Friendly Derby'.

England: Premier League Weekend Previews & Predictions

The Merseyside derby pits troubled Liverpool against a resurgent Everton on Sunday. Elsewhere, newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion travel to Old Trafford, Aston Villa host league leaders Chelsea, Arsenal aim to bounce back against Birmingham City, while Blackpool welcome Manchester City to Bloomfield Road. Draw specialists Fulham are in action against London neighbours Tottenham Hotspur at Craven Cottage. Stoke City seek to maintain their improved form when they make the trip to Bolton Wanderers, while just a point separates Newcastle United and Wigan Athletic as with the pair lock horns at St James' Park on Saturday. The last game on Saturday sees Wolverhampton Wanderers go head-to-head with West Ham United at Molineux.

Team News

Aston Villa vs. Chelsea: Preview
Manchester United vs. West Brom: Preview

Andy Gray: Everton have fewer problems than Liverpool

Lawro & Kobe's Predictions

Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be a key absentee when the Rossoneri host Chievo in Serie A on Saturday. Inter Milan are level on 11 points with Milan and Napoli and this weekend travel to face a Cagliari side which remains unbeaten at the Sant' Elia this season. A tough examination for Rafael Benitez's side will be made that bid harder by the possible absence of several key players, among them Diego Milito, Goran Pandev and Esteban Cambiasso, all of whom are carrying knocks. Lazio expect to pick up where they left off before the international break when they travel to Bari. Fiorentina will have an added motivation to beat Sampdoria in Genoa knowing that a defeat could see them drop into the relegation zone, while struggling Roma host Genoa on Saturday desperate to claim their second win of the campaign.


Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview

Pacesetters Valencia will look to prolong Barcelona's stuttering home form and prove to be genuine title contenders this weekend. That match takes place on Saturday night, along with the local derby between Atletico Madrid and Getafe at the Vicente Calderon and Real Madrid's trip to 10th-placed Malaga.


Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Preview

Koeln – Borussia Dortmund

Bayern Munich – Hannover
Mainz – Hamburg
Schalke – Stuttgart
St Pauli – Nuernberg
Werder Bremen – Freiburg
Wolfsburg – Bayer Leverkusen

Kaiserslautern – Eintracht Frankfurt
Hoffenheim – Borussia Moenchengladbach


The Joy of Six: Great Dribbles

From the first-ever Varsity match to Paul Gascoigne, via Garrincha and Pele, here are half a dozen memorably mazy runs.

Minute four is lovely...

Wayne Rooney plays with fire to clear Sir Alex Ferguson's smokescreen

The Manchester United forward knew what he was doing by contradicting the manager, but it was not the wisest course.

Friday MLS Forecast

The Forecast previews FC Dallas – Real Salt Lake before sorting through the Week 29 fixture list.

Focus: River Plate

In the boardroom, things have seldom been calmer at River Plate. Daniel Passarella became the club's president at the end of 2009, and recently his board of directors approved an ambitious new refinancing programme. The fans, alienated and angered by the corrupt and bumbling administration of previous president Jose Maria Aguilar, had almost forgotten what it was like not to feel irritated by the board. Sadly for them, they've merely been given reason to transfer their ill feeling away from the directors' box and towards the pitch during recent matches. After an impressive start to the season, which saw them top of the Apertura table after four matches, River have slipped away and now languish in mid-table. More seriously though, thanks to Argentina's bizarre system, they're also falling off the pace in their battle to rise clear of the relegation struggle.

Dominic Raynor: Off The Ball

Off The Ball never rests in its mission to scratch around the underbelly of professional football to find the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories.

This week, Liam Gallagher is accused of stealing Eric Cantona's car door, Japan plan to beam live holographic matches around the world, a voodoo goat is blamed for Egypt's shock defeat and a fan gets a full-chest tattoo of Andres Escobar's shirt.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Martin Rogers Column

Two more friendlies, two draws, two goals and precious few answers came from the United States’ efforts over the past week. Yet with two more years to go until the business end of Bob Bradley’s second cycle really begins, the head coach can afford to take his time in clicking things into place ahead of the next World Cup.

Abby Wambach Hits Guy Carrying Food

Will La Liga spread the wealth?

Whisper it, in these troubled geopolitical times, but Spain is getting ready to invade China.

The fact that sports economists predict that there is at least $210 million to be gained by the Spanish clubs if they market and sell a properly structured package of television rights to China has been a galvanizing force in the Primera Division.

Spain does not have a coherent sales structure for Primera Division rights in China -- or any other important part of Asia. The problem is that, unlike their major European competitors, Spain's clubs do not sell rights collectively. It's every club for itself, so to speak.

Tom Adams: Rewind to 2000

After flirting with relegation last season, Lazio are the surprise leaders of Serie A after six matches. Could an unlikely title challenge be on the cards? Probably not, as the Biancocelesti have won the scudetto just twice in their history. Their most recent title success came in chaotic circumstances in the 1999-2000 season as a team bankrolled by Sergio Cragnotti, coached by Sven-Goran Eriksson and inspired by the likes of Juan Sebastian Veron snatched glory away from Juventus on the final day of the campaign.

Yossi Benayoun perplexed by Chelsea's failure to spot torn achilles

Yossi Benayoun has admitted his surprise and dismay that Chelsea's medical staff "missed" detecting the seriousness of an achilles injury after the Israel international was tonight ruled out for up to six months.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

VfB Stuttgart's early-season woes are nothing new. For the last few years the Swabians have started the season lethargically, only to look like a different, stronger team in the second half of the season. But sitting 18th and last in the Bundesliga, management was alarmed enough to change coaches yet again.

Roberto Gotta in Italy

Qualifiers for the World Cup and the European Championship are seen by most Italian fans less as competitive, unmissable affairs than chances to witness the progress towards another inevitably exciting month of June, every two years, when all of that will come to fruition.

Genoa Riot Explained: Serbia hits rock bottom

One has to ask how all sorts of illegal weapons could enter the stadium in Genoa, and how did the troublemakers manage to slip under the radar of the Serbian security and judicial system and travel as far as Genoa with the intent of causing a major incident?

The first question, related to the Italian hosts, I'd prefer to leave with UEFA's pending investigation.

The answer to the second question is rather complicated and requires a look into the past 25 years.

Liverpool board return to high court to overturn owner's injunction

The battle over the future of Liverpool returns to the high court today after its American owners used a court in Dallas to prevent a sale of the club.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Felipe Alvarez gets full Andres Escobar shirt tattoo, is hardcore

When Andres Escobar was killed not long after scoring a decisive own goal against the United States in Colombia's disastrous 1994 World Cup showing, Felipe Alvarez was just 9 years old. Now 25 and a obsessive fan of Atletico Nacional -- Escobar's club team at the time of his death -- Alvarez has paid tribute to Escobar in a painful and permanent way.

Richard Williams: A bad moment for English football

The FA's money-grubbing imperative is putting the future of England's gifted young players in grave danger.

England need long-term planning to ensure talent is not wasted.

Wayne Rooney struggles to see big picture in England stalemate against Montenegro

Rooney ought to have found the Montenegro defence easier to penetrate than those of Chelsea, Inter Milan and Barcelona, despite the blanket nature of it.

That he failed again to leave a substantial mark on a game of football, as opposed to the ankles of Elsad Zverotic, for which he was booked, is a consequence of two things; a dearth of talent and the blunt thinking of Capello.

Ernst Bouwes in Holland

Ruud Krol and Frank de Boer are the only world-class left backs the Dutch have ever had. Few kids ever aspire to become a left back, so in professional football this position is mainly occupied by frustrated left wingers who have been demoted by their coach. The supply is even more restricted as a left-footed orientation is preferred. Now Giovanni van Bronckhorst has retired, there is glaring vacancy in the Dutch team, but maybe a long forgotten name has the answer.

Edgar Davids involved in a furious training-ground bust-up at Crystal Palace

The Dutch hothead, 37, stunned players and staff by grappling with left-back Julian Bennett and shouting: "I'm the boss around here."

International Friendly: United States 0 - 0 Colombia

With the United States experimenting again with a new formation, the Americans finished the home portion of their 2010 schedule with a dull 0-0 draw against Colombia on Tuesday night that extended their three-year winless streak against South American opponents to nine matches.

Eric Lichaj and Brek Shea made their national team debuts, among the only highlights on a night U.S. coach Bob Bradley changed five starters from Saturday's 2-2 tie against Poland in Chicago.

The U.S. is 4-5-4 this year, in danger of its first losing record in a year since going 5-6-7 in 1997. The Americans complete 2010 play on Nov. 17, when they return to South Africa for an exhibition against Bafana Bafana in Cape Town.

U.S. Player Ratings

Steve Davis: Firing Blanks

Euro 2012 Qualifying: Tuesday's Review

England left Wembley with the jeers of their own fans ringing in their ears as they failed to score at the rebuilt stadium for the first time and had their 11-match winning streak on home soil ended by Montenegro. Fernando Llorente's late winner for Spain sealed a 3-2 win and broke Scotland hearts after they had come back from two goals down at Hampden Park. Holland made it four wins from four in qualifying, with a handsome 4-1 win over Group E rivals Sweden. France strengthened their hold on Group D with a 2-0 win over struggling Luxembourg in Metz.


Liverpool takeover to go ahead as owners lose case

The High Court has ruled in favour of Royal Bank of Scotland and against Liverpool co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, meaning the takeover agreed by the board with New England Sports Ventures (NESV) can go through as planned.

Barney Ronay at The High Court

Italy vs. Serbia clash abandoned after violence

Ivan the Terrible...?

Italy's Euro 2012 Group C qualifier against Serbia was abandoned by UEFA after just six minutes had been played due to crowd disturbances. The game at Genoa's Luigi Ferraris stadium was delayed for 35 minutes after a section of Serbian fans threw fire crackers and flares in the direction of the north stand where Italian supporters were seated, and onto the pitch.

After a manhunt lasting half the night, Ivan was found in the baggage compartment of the last coach to leave Genoa. He was the leader of the troubles last night in Genoa, cutting the fence around the pitch and leading the hooligans live on TV.

Video of the arrest

UEFA probes Serbian fan violence

Serbia apologize for trouble

Three possible reasons for their actions

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Liverpool future unclear amid court case, new bids

Liverpool’s proposed takeover by the owners of the Boston Red Sox is uncertain after a Singapore businessman raised his offer for the Premier League club on Tuesday and lawyers representing the current owners said a third group is also making a bid.

The future of the club was being discussed in a hearing at the High Court in London.

International Friendly Preview: USA - Colombia

United States vs. Colombia
What: International Friendly
PPL Park, Chester, Pa.
Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET
ESPN2, Galavision

What Is The Best XI That Could Be Constructed From Nations Of The Former Yugoslavia?

The 1960 European Championship final squad of Yugoslavia featured players from four of today's FIFA eligible nations. Those are Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia - Herzegovina. There was also representation from Kosovo, which is not formally recognised by FIFA.

What follows is not intended as a politically charged discussion. It is an examination of the football talent currently available to nations in the Yugosphere. The pretext is simple; to ponder the best XI of internationals in the region.

Euro 2012 Qualifying: Tuesday's Previews

It might still be early days in qualifying but the matches remain a crucial test for many big football nations which flopped at the World Cup in South Africa. England, Italy and France all have the chance to take big steps into securing their Euro 2012 Qualifying Groups with wins tonight.

Here are the previews for all the groups.

Mark Lomas: Blanc's French revolution marching on

Jonathan Wilson: Montenegro can win at Wembley
Jeremy Wilson: Lowdown on Montenegro

Steve Archibald: Scots must capitalize on Xavi absence

Charlie Davies fined for speeding

U.S. soccer player Charlie Davies was fined $1,040 and his license was suspended by French police because of a speeding violation in which he said a teammate was driving.

This would be a fine candidate for a "Really?! with Seth and Amy" segment...

Davies was with Sochaux teammate Jacques Faty when they were pulled over in the early hours of Oct. 3 after being clocked at 125 mph in France's Jura region. Faty and Davies have both said Faty was driving, but they switched positions because Faty thought his license was still suspended from a previous speeding infraction.


Before Ian Holloway stepped into the intense spotlight of the Barclays Premier League most football fans' only exposure to the quirky manager came via his highly publicised post-match metaphors - which included comparisons to pulling women in the back of a taxi and burgling houses - but after just seven games in the English top flight the Blackpool boss has asserted what he is really about: attacking, entertaining football.

Uli Hesse in Germany

At 3.30pm on October 22, 1977, Cologne forward Yasuhiro Okudera attempted to separate Duisburg's Herbert Bussers from the ball. It was the first minute of Okudera's first Bundesliga game and it would have been his first touch of the ball in a competitive game in Germany. If he had made proper contact with the ball, that is.

Monday MLS Breakdown: Tactical Switch Prompts New York-Real Salt Lake Postseason Preview

New York's adjustments to Dane Richards' absence contributed to eventual stalemate.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Danny Murphy wrong to criticise managers, says LMA

The League Managers Association has criticised Danny Murphy for his comments about Sam Allardyce, Tony Pulis and Mick McCarthy, in which the Fulham captain accused the trio of encouraging reckless tackling.

The Fifth Official: The Liverpool soap opera continues

Few of us like Mondays but The Fifth Official does, for it brings with it a chance for him to point the finger and laugh. Here he pulls out the pretty, the puzzling and the downright pig-ugly from the past week in football.

Troubled Gazza on new drink-drive charge

Former Spurs and England midfielder Gazza, 43, was stopped by cops just before 3pm on Friday after a member of the public reported him driving erratically.

Officers pulled over his blue MG sports car in Jesmond, Newcastle, and breathalysed him. He will appear before the city's JPs on October 20.

Gazza is to stand trial next month accused of drink-driving during a "lost weekend" fishing trip in February.

Sid Lowe: Early-Season La Liga Review Part II

Previously, on SI, we reviewed this season's Spanish football awards, as presented by the sports daily Marca, and asked who will win them next year. Having started with the Pichichi and Zarra awards for the top scorer and top Spanish scorer respectively, we then left you on a cliff hanger as we prepared to continue the run down of next year's likely winners, based on the opening weeks of the season, turning our attention to the best coach, referee, and player.

International Friendly: United States 2 - 2 Poland

The U.S. finally played with a lead, only to waste it.


Oguchi Onyewu's goal and Jermaine Jones' assist in his first game in an American uniform weren't enough for the United States, which had to settle for a 2-2 draw in an exhibition against Poland on Saturday night after giving up leads in each half. Jakub Blaszczykowski scored on a deflected pass in the 73rd minute for Poland, winless in seven consecutive matches as it prepares for the 2012 European Championship.

Davis: U.S. flaws on display vs. Poland

Carlisle: Player Ratings

Winners & Losers

Euro 2012 Qualifying: Group Round-Ups

Group A
Germany continued their impressive start to qualifying for Euro 2012 with a win over Turkey, while Austria overcame Azerbaijan and Belgium defeated 10-man Kazakhstan.

Group B
Republic of Ireland produced an impressive last-gasp comeback but were unable to overthrow Russia in a 3-2 defeat at Dublin's Aviva Stadium. Armenia claimed their first win in Euro 2012 qualifying Group B by impressively defeating Slovakia, while Macedonia were too strong for Andorra.

Group C
Italy remained on course to qualify for Euro 2012 after their goalless draw against Northern Ireland left them top of Group C.

Group D
Two goals in the final seven minutes helped France secure a vital home victory against Romania to go top of Euro qualifying group D. Albania go top of Group D after 1-1 draw with Bosnia.

Group E
Hungary produced a comprehensive 8-0 thumping of San Marino, while Holland saw off Moldova 1-0 in Euro 2012 qualifying Group E.

Group F
There were victories for Georgia and Greece in Group F of Euro 2012 qualifying, while Malta and Latvia see their hopes fading.

Group H
Portugal kick-started their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign with a 3-1 triumph over Denmark, while Norway beat Cyprus 2-1.