Friday, November 05, 2010

Spain: Eduardo Alvarez's Quiniela

Last weekend, La Liga and its Quiniela taught us a few things: first, the fact that everything seems to be working out in your life does not mean you'll be able to get a perfect ten. Second, if you're a Portuguese coach, chances are that you won't succeed in Spain, unless you have a very Special nickname. Third, any La Liga team can score three goals in one match, even the current reincarnation of Deportivo La Coruna. And fourth, Royston Drenthe indeed deserves his own reality show.

Let's start. As usual, it's '1' for a home win, 'X' for a draw and '2' for an away win.

The Joy of Six: Football Documentaries

From that Graham Taylor film to Jimmy McGovern's Hillsborough here are half-a-dozen great documentaries and docu-dramas.

Lazio hit the heights while Roma wait in the wings

It's taken a long time but, at 65, the Lazio coach Edoardo Reja - almost universally known as Edy - has finally reached the summit of Italian football.

During his varied coaching career of almost 30 years, which has seen him take charge at 21 different clubs, he's tasted modest success in the lower divisions but few would seriously have expected him to have guided a team to the top of Serie A, especially the perennial under-achievers of Italian football.

England: Premier League Weekend Previews & Predictions

A full programme of top-flight fixtures this weekend starts with Tottenham Hotspur's trip to Bolton Wanderers before Liverpool host Chelsea in a potentially explosive meeting on Sunday.

Manchester United welcome Wolverhampton Wanderers to Old Trafford in one of six 3pm kick-offs on Saturday.
Everton will strive to maintain their excellent upturn in form when they make the trip to Bloomfield Road to face newly-promoted Blackpool.

Sunderland simply must respond from their heavy 5-1 loss at bitter rivals Newcastle when Steve Bruce's men host Stoke City at the Stadium of Light. Aston Villa have slid down the table of late, with Gerard Houllier's side now occupying 14th. The Frenchman will be desperate for his charges to respond when they make the journey to Craven Cottage to lock horns with Fulham.

Lastly on Saturday, Blackburn Rovers do battle with North West counterparts Wigan Athletic.

On Sunday lunchtime, Arsenal welcome Newcastle United to Emirates Stadium. At 3pm on Sunday, West Bromwich Albion face Manchester City.

Preview I
Preview II

Team News

John Carter Previews Bolton vs. Tottenham
Paul Merson Previews Bolton vs. Tottenham

John Ley Previews Liverpool vs. Chelsea

Lawro's Predictions

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Preview

Schalke – St Pauli


Borussia Moenchengladbach – Bayern Munich
Eintracht Frankfurt – Wolfsburg
Hamburg – Hoffenheim
Nuernberg – Koeln
Freiburg – Mainz


Hannover – Borussia Dortmund
Bayer Leverkusen – Kaiserslautern
Stuttgart – Werder Bremen


Italy: Serie A Weekend Previews

Roma head into Sunday's derby with Lazio in the unfamiliar position of watching their local rivals flying high at the top of Serie A. Inter Milan host strugglers Brescia on Saturday on the back of a midweek 3-1 loss at Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League.

AC Milan lie one point behind Inter and visit bottom-side Bari eager to return to winning ways after a 2-1 defeat to Juventus was followed by a 2-2 Champions League draw against Real Madrid, who equalised in injury time.

Juventus are decimated by injuries going into Sunday's match against Cesena. Fiorentina have to cope with the absence of goalkeeper Sebastien Frey when they host Chievo on Sunday.


Lazio vs. Roma: Preview

Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview

Real Madrid will focus their full attention on this weekend`s mouthwatering derby with Atletico Madrid. Barcelona, like Madrid, also drew their Champions League match this week, but their 1-1 tie at FC Copenhagen was not quite enough to put them through to the last 16.

In La Liga, Pep Guardiola`s side are a point behind Madrid at the summit and two ahead of third-placed Villarreal, who will look to make it five wins out of five at El Madrigal this season when they host Athletic Bilbao.


Major League Soccer Playoffs: New York Red Bulls 1-3 (2-3 on agg.) San Jose Earthquakes

Bobby Convey opened the scoring in the sixth minute and added his second during a frantic five minutes in the second half that saw the Earthquakes take the series lead, the Red Bulls equalize through Juan Pablo Angel, and the Earthquakes take the lead again through Chris Wondolowski.

A large crowd of 22,839 cheered on the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena despite rainy 48 degree weather. The sloppy weather was reflected in the play as both teams were opened up on the wet surface, creating a multitude of chances.

Wayne Rooney sent to Nike Town, USA, by Manchester United

Rather than use the state-of-the-art facilities at their Carrington training base, United have opted to use Nike's centre in Oregon, as much in a bid to get Rooney away from the constant headlines, which have dogged him since first news of his unhappiness at Old Trafford was raised nearly three weeks ago

Roberto Mancini in denial as Manchester City lose third on spin

Roberto Mancini cut a defiant figure in the wake of Manchester City's third successive defeat tonight though critics of the Italian might say he was in denial.

The 3-1 loss to Lech Poznan in Poland in tonight's Europa League's tie raises serious questions about Mancini's suitability as the long‑term manager of the world's richest club.

UEFA Europa League: Thursday Review

Steven Gerrard grabbed a hat-trick in the final 15 minutes as Liverpool ran out 3-1 winners over Napoli. Two late goals from Lech Poznan condemned Manchester City to a 3-1 loss. Third-placed Juventus remain winless in Group A after being held to a goalless draw by basement team Salzburg.


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, Wayne Rooney is to be burned on a bonfire, a US General 're-educates' some over-zealous Aston Villa stewards, the Rome derby is deemed too scary for an eagle and Rafa Benitez speaks more wibble at Inter Milan.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Sanford's Soccer Net Exclusive: Pat Buckley's Basel vs. Roma Champions League Video Wrap-Up

Rome derby deemed too crazy for Lazio's eagle

Since Lazio bought a real, live American eagle named Olimpia over the summer, the club have gone on an incredible run, topping Serie A and going undefeated at home.

But with the rage and chaos the Rome derby usually features, authorities are worried that it would all be too much for Olimpia to do her usual three laps around the pitch before the match.

USA Defender Clarence Goodson Joins Danish Side Brondby IF

The former FC Dallas defender, who stands at a towering 6'4, spent the past three seasons in Norway with IK Start and recently represented the United States at the 2010 World Cup. The 28-year-old will join Brondby when the transfer window opens in January.

First XI: Bad Decisions

In light of Harry Redknapp's claim that Mark Clattenburg's decision to allow Nani's goal on Saturday was one of the worst he'd ever seen, ESPNsoccernet selects a First XI of terrible decisions.

As a number of the most infamous decisions have been covered in the First XI World Cup blunders, errors from that tournament have not been included in the feature.

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's Round-Up, Reports & Analyses

Chelsea cruised through to the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League with an easy win over Spartak Moscow, but Arsenal were undone by old boy Eduardo away to Shakhtar Donetsk.

Real Madrid snatched a last-gasp point away to AC Milan to go through from Group G as Auxerre kept their qualification hopes alive with victory over Ajax.

Bayern Munich are safely into the knock-out phase and Roma are favourites to join last season's runners-up, while Marseille enjoyed a record-breaking win and Braga overcame Partizan Belgrade.


Chelsea 4 - 1 Spartak Moscow
Kevin McCarra at Stamford Bridge
Dominic Fifield at Stamford Bridge

AC Milan 2 - 2 Real Madrid
Sid Lowe's Report

Shakhtar Donetsk 2 - 1 Arsenal
Jamie Jackson at the Donbass Arena
Player Ratings

Basel 2 - 3 Roma

Tom Adams: Rewind to 1901

This weekend brings with it the first round of the FA Cup as those clubs outside of the elite begin to dream of giant-killing feats and a lucrative cup run. But only one club has won the FA Cup as a non-league side - Tottenham in 1901. Inspired by one of football's forgotten reformers, and spearheaded by a deadly striker, this is the story of how Spurs upset the odds over a century ago.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Sanford's Soccer Net Exclusive: Pat Buckley's Basel vs. Roma Champions League Video Preview

Rooney Must Burn

Wayne is being put to the stake as bonfire society reveal giant
granny-loving shrek lookalike as their annual Guy Fawkes figure.

Wayne Rooney effigy to be burned on bonfire in Kent

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's Previews

Arsenal will look to wrap up their qualifying campaign at Shakhtar Donetsk, while Chelsea can also secure their spot in the last 16 against Spartak Moscow.

Two European giants collide when AC Milan take on Real Madrid at the San Siro, while Ajax travel to Auxerre and Roma visit Basel.

Cesc will stay home with his Grams instead of traveling to the Ukraine...

Elsewhere, Bayern Munich make the trip to CFR Cluj, MSK Zilina host Marseille and Partizan Belgrade entertain Braga.


AC Milan vs. Real Madrid
Key Battles

Chelsea vs. Spartak Moscow

McGeady ready for Chelsea

Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Arsenal
Jonathan Wilson on Shakhtar

Tony Adams caught up in controversy over caged bear in Azerbaijan

Tony Adams, the former Arsenal and England captain, has become inadvertently involved in a bizarre controversy over the treatment of a caged bear in Azerbaijan.

The original article

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini to sell Shaun Wright-Phillips and Wayne Bridge

Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, has lost patience with Shaun Wright-Phillips and Wayne Bridge and is likely to sell them in the January transfer window.

Revolution's Twellman set to end his career

New England Revolution forward Taylor Twellman is expected to announce that concussion issues are forcing him to end his career.

The 30-year-old Twellman has scheduled a press conference Wednesday at Gillette Stadium with head coach Steve Nicol to announce that he will abandon his quest at a comeback.

EPL report card: Newly-promoted sides flourish with attacking style

With a quarter of the Premier League season done and dusted, now feels like a good time to take a look at a few player/manager report cards.

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Round-up, Reports & Analyses

Tottenham Hotspur exacted stunning revenge against UEFA Champions League holders Inter Milan as Manchester United moved to the brink of the last 16, but Rangers lost away to Valencia.

FC Twente claimed a first victory in Group A, while Lyon continue to lead the way in Group B despite losing to Benfica, while Schalke drew in Israel. Both matches in Group D finished all-square to leave FC Copenhagen and Barcelona as the favourites to go through to the knock-out rounds.


Tottenham 3 - 1 Inter Milan

Kevin McCarra at White Hart Lane
John Brewin at White Hart Lane
Phil McNulty at White Hart Lane
Five things we learned
The Italian Press Reacts

Bursaspor 0 - 3 Manchester United
Daniel Taylor at Bursa Ataturk Stadium

Valencia 3 - 0 Rangers

Copenhagen 1 - 1 Barcelona
Pep loses his cool

Werder Bremen 0 - 2 FC Twente

Sergio Batista names first squad as permanent Argentina boss

Batista, who was today given the job he had been doing temporarily on a permanent basis, selected Manchester City's Carlos Tevez and Pablo Zabaleta as the only Premier League players for the match in Qatar, while Valencia midfielder Ever Banega returns to the side.

Tevez targets derby return

Carlos Tevez has earmarked next week's Manchester derby for his return from injury.

The Manchester City skipper has had hours of intensive treatment on his troublesome right thigh in a desperate bid to regain full fitness.

In his absence, City have hit a slump, losing to both Arsenal and Wolves. Not since January have they won a Premier League game in which Tevez has not scored.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Tottenham's Harry Redknapp is no stranger to referee rants

"I never walk in after games and complain about a referee but this guy is scary. He’s a poor referee and I’ve seen him make a mess of so many games. He’s really not good enough."
On Steve Tanner’s display in a 2-0 defeat at West Brom in December 2008

The Rest

Van der Vaart and Sneijder begin Twitter battle

Sneijder kicked off the battle with a message for Van der Vaart, who missed the first match through suspension, saying: "I'm cleaning the Champions League trophy with a Tottenham shirt." But Van der Vaart replied: "Thanks for cleaning it up for me. I'm already creating space in my cup cabinet."

Sneijder has since upped the ante, claiming: "We're gonna [sic] give you a football lesson in London." But Van der Vaart retorted: "I met your defence in Milan, it didn't look good. It was like cheese with holes in it."

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Previews

Tottenham will be looking for payback at White Hart Lane when they face reigning champions Inter Milan, while Manchester United travel to Bursapor and Rangers make the trip to Valencia. Werder Bremen see FC Twente arrive in Germany, Barcelona visit Copenhagen and Benfica and Lyon meet in Portugal. Elsewhere, Schalke 04 visit Hapoel Tel-Aviv, while Rubin Kazan entertain Panathinaikos.

General Preview

Tottenham vs. Inter Milan
Tom Adams' Preview
David Hytner on the Dutchmen
David Hytner on Samuel Eto'o
Key Battles

Valencia vs. Rangers
Preview I
Preview II

Copenhagen vs. Barcelona

Bursaspor vs. Manchester United
Preview I
Preview II

Sid Lowe in Spain

La Liga is a two-horse race, again, as imperious Real Madrid and Barcelona crush the hopes of the also-rans.

Mourinho the resuscitator breathes new life into Benzema as Real stand tall.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Jürgen Klopp's second return to Mainz saw him leave with three points after a high-powered pressing game between two uber youthful sides.

Bubbly Borussia Dortmund pass the 'Pepsi test' with relative ease.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

Rank outsiders two months ago, Lazio now look genuine title contenders after another gritty defensive display at Palermo.

The devil is in the detail as Lazio move four points clear in Serie A.

Kevin McCarra: Manchester City fail to add up to the sum of their expensive parts

Defeat by Wolves is no catastrophe but Roberto Mancini is still struggling to find the right blend of personnel and tactics.

Cheers and Booze

Let's face it, one of the hallmarks of English soccer culture is the excessive drinking that surrounds it. From the legions of lager-loving louts who travel by train up and down the country on game day to the after-hours bar brawls that are sport for players on their days off, it's as much as part of the EPL as diving, take-no-prisoners tackling and WAGs.

And it's nothing new.

Phil McNulty: Mancini must reassert authority

When Roberto Mancini casts off his black overcoat, things must be bad. When the Italian's trademark sky blue and white scarf goes the same way, it almost signals a crisis.

Mancini and Manchester City may not be at the tipping point just yet but the manager's impromptu striptease during the defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers was a public sign of the stresses and strains pulling on everyone at Eastlands.

Americans In The UK: Dempsey Double Dip

Clint Dempsey halted Fulham’s losing streak, notching a double during Saturday’s victory.

The Rest

Americans On The Continent: Low Country Highlight

Sacha Kljestan scored a vital goal as Anderlecht secured a crucial win against Racing Club Genk.

The Rest

Ernst Bouwes in Holland

Three days after the devastating 10-0 rout in Eindhoven, Feyenoord faced relegation rivals VVV-Venlo at De Kuip. In the weeks before the PSV thrashing, Mario Been's side had also crashed out of the cup and the qualifiers of the Europa League, while also slumping to 15th place in the league. So how would Feyenoord's supporters react to the homecoming of their fallen stars?

Phil Ball in Spain

Halloween is not such a big deal in Spain as in the northern European countries, but the following Monday, 'All Souls Day' or 'Day of the Dead' is an appropriate occasion to put the struggling sides under focus. And if you'll excuse the phrase, down in the nether regions things seem to be stirring. We are more or less settling into the expected pattern at the top, as Real Madrid and Barcelona threaten to pull away as Valencia begin to sputter, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla can find no consistency, and Villarreal are left to fight the good fight - so let's look at the other end of the table, with almost the first quarter of the campaign complete.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Martin Rogers: Simplicity key to improving MLS playoffs

The rules governing the format for the Major League Soccer playoffs take up 656 words and an entire page on the league’s website. If the “powers that be” simplified their formula into a more sensible model, the whole thing could be summed up neatly on the back of the business card.

MLS does plenty of things right, and its reputation internationally has never been better. But the playoffs are a clunking mess, full of unnecessary permutations and quirks, and could use a timely overhaul.

Rafael Benitez reborn with Inter Milan in Serie A

At the start of the season, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was asked about the implications of Rafael Benitez replacing the Real Madrid-bound Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan.

"They favour Madrid, no doubt about that," was the characteristically blunt response from Ferguson.

Five things we learned from the Premier League this weekend

Mark Hughes is better than Roberto Mancini; Newcastle have a great pair; Aston Villa don't; and Phil Neville is rather good.

England: Premier League Weekend Review, Reports & Analyses

Newcastle United thrashed Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby, Manchester City were beaten by Wolverhampton Wanderers while Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal all left it late. Tottenham Hotspur's 21-year wait for a league win at Old Trafford was extended as they were beaten 2-0 by Manchester United, whose second goal was rather controversial. Fulham secured their first victory in six attempts as Clint Dempsey's brace saw off Wigan Athletic at Craven Cottage. Yakubu Aiyegbeni scored his first Premier League goal since April as he fired Everton to a 1-0 success against Stoke City at Goodison Park. Lastly, the less probably said the better about Aston Villa's Second City derby versus Birmingham which saw the pair play out a goalless stalemate at Villa Park.


Blackburn 1 - 2 Chelsea
Richard Jolly at Ewood Park

Manchester United 2 - 0 Tottenham
Daniel Taylor at Old Trafford

Newcastle 5 - 1 Sunderland

Rob Stewart at St. James' Park

Bolton 0 - 1 Liverpool

Andy Hunter at the Reebok Stadium

Fulham 2 - 0 Wigan
John Ashdown at Craven Cottage

Arsenal 1 - 0 West Ham
David Lacey at Emirates Stadium

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Review

Borussia Dortmund went back to the top of the Bundesliga standings as Hoffenheim staked their claim for third. On Saturday, Sidney Sam's second-half goal gave Bayer Leverkusen a 1-0 victory at Schalke, whose nightmare season continues. heofanis Gekas continued his fine goalscoring form with a double as Eintracht Frankfurt recorded an impressive 3-1 away win over St Pauli. Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich continued building towards top form with a convincing 4-2 win over Freiburg that Toni Kroos capped with a stunning strike from 25 yards.


Spain: La Liga Weekend Review

Villarreal lost ground at the top of the Primera Division standings after being held to a 1-1 draw by Sporting Gijon. Cristiano Ronaldo struck two late goals as Real Madrid fought back from an early deficit to down giant-killers Hercules 3-1. Barcelona produced the performance of their season so far to beat Sevilla 5-0 at the Nou Camp.


Italy: Serie A Weekend Review

Ten-man Lazio extended their lead at the top of Serie A with a smash-and-grab 1-0 win over Palermo at the Stadio Renzo Barbera. In the evening kick-off, controversial striker Adrian Mutu returned to the Fiorentina line-up for the first time since completing a nine-month doping ban but could not inspire his side to victory in a goalless draw at Catania. AC Milan missed the chance to move to the top of Serie A as they slipped to a 2-1 loss at home to Juventus on Saturday. A fortuitous goal from Sulley Muntari gave Inter Milan a 1-0 win over Genoa to start the weekend's action.


Monday MLS Breakdown

Lack of composure hampered efforts by several sides, fueled successes for others.

The Fifth Official: Clattenburg's Halloween horror show

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.