Friday, April 22, 2011

MLS: Juan Agudelo's Goal From Last Night

The Big Interview: Ian Holloway

Ian Holloway is subdued. It is not a description one would readily associate with the Blackpool manager, even in this of all weeks, but his demeanour is not shaped by the mounting threat to what he – and any fair-minded judge – would regard as the finest achievement of the Premier League era.

Jonathan Wilson in Eastern Europe

Bosnia are decently placed for Euro 2012 but the dispute over their federation's Bosniak, Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat structure threatens to derail their pursuit of qualification.
Three into one won't go for Bosnia as Fifa and Uefa ban hits home.

Police chief fears Easter Sunday violence at Rangers-Celtic showdown

Scotland's top police officer has warned that a combination of alcohol, sun and a bank holiday could make Sunday's Old Firm clash "the perfect storm".

The chief constable of Strathclyde police, Stephen House, predicted that violence, including rape and domestic abuse, will surge this weekend.

Friday MLS Forecast

The Forecast discusses New York's impressive win at D.C. United before sorting through the weekend slate.

Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

AC Milan hold a six-point lead at the top of the Serie A standings with five games left but coach Massimiliano Allegri is not taking it for granted.

Allegri, whose side are on course to clinch their first scudetto since 2004, has demanded full focus from his players ahead of Saturday's match at relegation-threatened Brescia.

Second-place Napoli travel to Sicily to take on Palermo looking to bounce back from last weekend's 2-1 defeat to Udinese that hindered their title challenge.

Inter are at the San Siro in Milan to square off against fourth-placed Lazio, who hold the last Champions League qualifying spot.


Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview & Eduardo Alvarez's Quiniela

Barcelona host a 16th-placed Osasuna side that have lost their last three games while Real Madrid must return to the Mestalla - the scene of their cup success -to take on third-placed Valencia.


Eduardo Alvarez's Quiniela

England: Premier League Weekend Previews & Predictions

Manchester United have the chance to go temporarily nine points clear at the top of the table in another crucial Premier League weekend. Sir Alex Ferguson has a 19th title in his sights as his side prepare for a clash with Everton, while Chelsea take on West Ham and Arsenal travel to Bolton. Wolves and Blackpool both have home games as they look to earn vital wins at the bottom of the table while the battle for fourth place continues.


Manchester United vs. Everton:
Manchester United vs. Everton: Paul Merson's Preview

Bolton vs. Arsenal:
Paul Merson's Preview

Lawro & Liam Gallagher's Predictions

West Ham's Scott Parker goes from MacDonald’s advert to player of the year

It has been a 19 year journey for Scott Parker from precocious talent appearing on our television screens as a fresh-faced 11 year-old in a MacDonald’s advert to Football Writer’s Player of the Year for 2011.

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger: 'I can't sit and be placid like I am on dope'

"I cannot ... sit there and be placid like I am on dope," Wenger said. "I care about the game and I'm motivated to win the game and agitated, yes.

"But it is one thing to be agitated and in control of your decisions and be lucid, or be completely out of control.

Phil Minshull: Real and Ronaldo show that Barca can be beaten

Did Real Madrid's victory over Barcelona in the Copa del Rey signal a shift in the balance of power between the Spanish giants?

Real are unbeaten in the first two of four back-to-back meetings in 18 days and their success on Wednesday will have fortified them for the two Champions League semi-final encounters to come.

We learned several things from Real's cup win. First and foremost, it showed Barcelona can be beaten.

Lille chase first major trophy in more than 50 years

The bar is filled with Lille supporters but only one man can remember the last time the club won the French title.

"Yes I was there that day," the charismatic Raymondi tells me while sipping his pre-match beer. "I never believed we could do it again but this year maybe yes. Fifty-seven years I am waiting for this. After this I tell people I can die happy, no problem."

Real replace damaged King's Cup with replica

Real Madrid have put a replica of the King's Cup on display at their stadium after the original was crushed during celebrations following Wednesday's 1-0 extra time final win over Barcelona.

The owner of the Madrid jewelry shop that made Spain's most treasured trophy, Federico Alegre, heard about the incident on the radio as he was driving back to Madrid from Valencia where he attended the final and immediately headed to the club to supply the team with a replacement cup.

"I arrived at the Bernabeu two minutes before the team bus arrived.

"I always make a spare in case something unexpected happens, lest the king be left with nothing to give out. The spare has been ready for a long time," he told daily newspaper El Mundo.

Gino Coutinho: Dutchman who makes Joey Barton look like Theo Walcott

What with Ashley Cole's air rifle and Joey Barton's many moments of questionable conduct – the most recent being his claim to be England's best midfielder – this has been another season of woe for the reputation of Premier League footballers. But as the campaign edges to its close they can all breath a sign of relief, for it transpires that there is a player in Holland who tops the lot when it comes to accusations of bad behaviour.

Step forward Gino Coutinho, goalkeeper of the Eredivisie club ADO Den Haag who, along with his girlfriend, was yesterday on trial in a Dutch court charged with owning a major cannabis farm and, as if that was not enough, being involved in forgery and money laundering.

First XI: Flaming the Fans

West Ham defender Danny Gabbidon upset the fans at the weekend when he told them to "f**k off" on his Twitter account.

Here, we take a look at those who have gone out of their way to offend their own club's fans.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tom Adams: Rewind to 1991

Thursday marks the 20th anniversary of Sheffield Wednesday's 1-0 victory over Manchester United in the Rumbelows Cup final - the last time a team from outside the top flight won a significant piece of silverware in English football. This is the story of Ron Atkinson's Wednesday side, and their unlikely triumph over Sir Alex Ferguson's United.

CONCACAF Champions League: Final First-Leg Report

Jason Kreis said he desperately wanted to become the first MLS team to win in Mexico.

A tie never felt as good as it did on Wednesday night, though.

Having been thoroughly outplayed the entire second half, and with Monterrey closing in on a third goal, Javier Morales scored a stunning goal in the 89th minute to lift the visitors to an improbable 2-2 draw in front of a sold-out Estadio Tecnologico in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final.

Grant Wahl: The story of RSL: A once-wretched MLS club is making history

In his first two years, Jason Kreis took Salt Lake from league laughingstock to 2009 MLS Cup champion. RSL is 4-0 in the young MLS season, and its 34-game home unbeaten run in all competitions may well be the longest in the world after Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk recently ended its 55-game streak.

Napoli officials target players' wives in bid to beat AC Milan to Serie A title

Avoid unnecessary domestic disputes, make your husband feel like a champion and offer as much support as possible - all tips on how to enjoy a successful marriage and maintain a Serie A title challenge, according to the Italian club Napoli.

José Sosa and his woman appear to be happy...

Best-Paid Athletes From 182 Countries

"Annual Salary" represents only base salary from the most recently completed season or calendar year from each sport, and excludes any other source of compensation, unless otherwise noted. In countries where official salary figures were unavailable, we estimated the number based on information from multiple sources, including leagues, agents, consulates, embassies, sports federations, cultural centers and the U.N. All figures converted to U.S. dollars. Per Capita GDP (Gross Domestic Product), a leading indicator of national wealth, is the market value of a country's goods and services divided by its population; we used most recently available GDP data for each country.

Sports represented: soccer 114, basketball 18, baseball 12, auto racing 6, golf 5, American football 5, hockey 5, cricket 4, boxing 3, track and field 3, rugby 2, tennis 2, badminton 1, cycling 1, motorcycle racing 1, sumo 1, yachting 1.

Barcelona, Real Madrid are world's best-paid sports teams

To find out which athletic organizations shell out the most dough, we surveyed 272 teams in 14 major pro leagues, covering seven sports, spanning 10 countries, comprising 7,802 athletes making a combined $15.2 billion in salary. Our final numbers, below, were compiled by Nick Harris, editor of "Average Annual Salary" represents base player salaries from current or most recently completed seasons from each sport, and excludes endorsements, bonuses, appearance fees and any other source of extra compensation. All figures converted to U.S. dollars. All IPL annual figures pro rata from weekly pay.

The sports and leagues: Aussie rules football (AFL), baseball (MLB, NPB), basketball (NBA), cricket (IPL), football (CFL, NFL), soccer (Bundesliga, EPL, La Liga, MLS, Serie A, SPL).
The countries: Australia, Canada, England, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Scotland, Spain, USA.

Arsenal Blow Title Chances: Where it all went wrong

Arsenal have dropped 13 Premier League points from winning positions this season. Telegraph Sport looks at where the damage has been done...

England: Wednesday's Premier League Reports, Analyses + Table

Tottenham 3 - 3 Arsenal

Phil McNulty at White Hart Lane
Kevin McCarra at White Hart Lane
Richard Williams at White Hart Lane
David Hytner at White Hart Lane
Jeremy Wilson: Wenger right to drop Jack

Chelsea 3 - 1 Birmingham
Mark Lomas at Stamford Bridge
Dominic Fifield at Stamford Bridge

Man Utd33201033870
Man City3216882056
Aston Villa33101013-1240
West Brom3310914-1539
West Ham3371115-1932

Sergio Ramos drops trophy under wheels of double-decker during open-top bus parade

Dropping the cup is the kind of things footballers usually joke about as they parade the silverware.

But last night Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos dropped a gleaming 35-year-old silver trophy under the wheels of a double decker bus.

The Copa del Rey - The King's Cup - is Spain's version of the FA Cup and Madrid celebrated wildly after beating their arch enemies Barcelona 1-0 to the trophy at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia.

Spain: Copa del Rey Final Reports

Real Madrid
1 - 0


Eduardo Alvarez:
Mourinho plan takes the Copa spoils

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

An Epic Swindle: 44 Months With A Pair Of Cowboys

As George Gillett digested the words he was reading, the blood drained slowly from his face.

Surely there was a misprint in this report about Steven Gerrard marrying his long-term partner Alex which completely changed its meaning.

He read it again but it came out the same, so he phoned his co-owner: “Tom, there's something you need to know. Our team captain is gay.”

A bemused Hicks asked for the evidence and when Gillett read it to him, in between guffaws, he explained that in England the term “partner” can refer to a member of the opposite sex.

Their captain wasn't tackling for the other side. Alex was a woman.

Martin Rogers: Opportunity awaits RSL in CONCACAF Champions League Final

For Real Salt Lake, the end of the road also could be the start of a dramatic new one, complete with the mouthwatering prospect of rubbing shoulders with the finest teams in the world.

The Utah club will visit Mexico’s Monterrey on Wednesday in the CONCACAF Champions League final, the first installment of a home-and-home series that will determine if it can become the first Major League Soccer team to win the region’s top interleague competition.

If it does, it won’t just be plaudits and an admirable little slice of history that awaits. The winner of the CCL will be granted an automatic place in the quarterfinal of December’s Club World Cup, a tournament held in Japan that features every continental champion.

Spain: Copa del Rey Final Preview

Barcelona vs. Real Madrid
(U.S. TV: GolTV, ESPND, ESPN3 at 3:30pm EDT)

England: Wednesday's Premier League Previews & Analyses

Tottenham vs. Arsenal
(U.S. TV: ESPN2 at 2:45pm EDT)
Preview I
Preview II
Paul Wilson: Harry should worry about Spurs and not Stoke
Paul Merson: Arsenal will struggle to recover from disaster
David Conn: Time to question the Arsenal model

Chelsea vs. Birmingham (U.S. TV: Fox Soccer Channel at 2:45pm EDT)
Preview I
Preview II

Tottenham vs. Arsenal: The Best North London Derbies

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Arsenal 0, 1992

It was Teddy Sheringham's (right) first North London derby and, unsurprisingly, all attention was focused on the striker. It was also the first north London derby of the newly-formed Premiership. Yet it was not Sheringham who grabbed the headlines but Paul Allen, who scored the only goal of the game.

The Rest

Wenger would have been fired by now in Spain, claims Fabregas

"If you went to Spain and said to Guardiola, Mourinho or Unai Emery that they would have three years without winning a trophy, it would be obvious they would not continue [at their clubs]. But here it is different. The manager is intelligent and the club value different things – that the team is always in the Champions League, that we compete until the end, that we have young players, economic stability.

"For the board this is important. But I imagine there will be a moment when you have to decide: do you win things or not?"

Tim Vickery in South America

The time has arrived in South America when fans all over the continent will need a calculator in one hand and the phone number of a cardiologist in the other.

This is the last week of the group phase of the Copa Libertadores, the continent's equivalent of the Champions League. Of the eight groups, four have been completed, while the rest have their last round coming up on either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Real vs. Barca: Teams of the Century

We decided to take the entire last millennium out of the equation and pretend the world began in 2000. At least, I consoled myself while I crossed out the names of Diego Maradona and Michael Laudrup, 99% of you taking part in this debate will have seen the contenders in action.

England: Tuesday's Premier League Reports & Analyses

Newcastle United 0 - 0 Manchester United

Louise Taylor at St. James' Park
Henry Winter at St. James Park
Kevin McCarra at St. James' Park

Michael Owen hits back at his old Newcastle fans

Parcel bombs sent to Neil Lennon, McBride and Godman

"Viable" parcel bombs have been sent to Celtic manager Neil Lennon and two high-profile fans of the Glasgow club, sources have told the BBC.

Sources said the liquid-based devices, sent in the past month, appear to have been intended to "kill or maim".

Porto Focus: Andre Villas-Boas

At 11pm on Sunday night in the media centre under their Estadio do Dragao, nearly an hour after champions Porto had beaten Sporting Lisbon, Andre Villas-Boas had the room in the palm of his hand. In that sense, the Porto coach is easily compared with the man widely regarded as his mentor, Jose Mourinho, but from there the two men made in Porto start to diverge. Villas-Boas speaks softly, but with authority.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

England: Tuesday's Premier League Preview

Who: Newcastle United vs. Manchester United

When: Tuesday, April 19 at 2:45pm EDT
Where: St. James' Park, Newcastle, England



Steve Davis on MLS

Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things you should know about Week 5:

Sid Lowe in Spain

José Mourinho's side avoided a sixth straight defeat against Barcelona, but not everyone enjoyed his 'prehistoric' tactics.

Real Madrid stem the bleeding, but critics turn on Mourinho's medicine.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Dortmund may be one game off the Meisterschaft but Schalke are the real talk of the Bundesliga.

Schalke's feelgood buzz keeps stellar Dortmund off the back pages.

Feelgood buzz? I had no choice...

Paolo Bandini in Italy

Despite being without their two best strikers, Udinese were strong enough to put a huge dent in Napoli's title chances.

Under-strength Udinese force Napoli to rewrite their Serie A script.

Americans On The Continent: Vital points dropped in Germany

Steve Cherundolo played 90 minutes, captaining Hannover from his traditional right-back position as his side drew 0-0 away to Mainz. DaMarcus Beasley was not included in the squad.

Hannover dominated the match, having the better of the chances throughout, but was simply unable to find a way past the immense Frank Rost in Hamburg’s goal. Hannover’s defense was just as stalwart, but going forward the visitors were unable to find a way through. Didier Ya Konan in particular failed to find his shooting boots, squandering several chances throughout the match.

On the other hand, Bayern Munich went about its task with ruthless efficiency, pummeling Bayer Leverkusen 5-1 and leapfrogging Hannover yet again to move into 3rd place in the Bundesliga with six matches left in the season.

The Rest

Americans In The UK: Edu’s Rangers Back in First

Maurice Edu has had a very under-the-radar type season. His numbers, four goals and one assist, are pretty pedestrian but his presence cannot be ignored. He’s done a tremendous job controlling the midfield this season and proved his mettle last week by playing efficiently during both Ranger wins.

On Tuesday, Edu played the entire contest and nearly headed in a second Ranger goal late but the shot was tipped aside. Still, Rangers got the 1-0 win over Aberdeen courtesy of a Nikica Jelavic.

Come Saturday, Rangers moved to the top of the SPL by defeating St. Mirren 2-1. Edu played the whole match again, nearly setting up a Jelavic goal early on.

The Rest

Arsenal Issues

David Hytner: Five reasons why Arsenal's season has unravelled

Kevin McCarra: Eboué's foul may come to define an era of missed chances at Arsenal

Ten top Ligue 1 talents who could be on the move this summer

The current row over TV rights in French soccer might not have made the news across Europe but its consequences soon will. Orange has dropped out of the bidding for next season's rights -- it paid the French league €200 million ($288M) to show one game a week for the last three seasons -- leaving Canal Plus as the sole bidder. Canal has shown a willingness to pay something similar to its current deal, worth €450 million ($650M), but whatever happens, it will not make up the huge shortfall caused by Orange's drop-out.

A smaller revenue for the French league therefore means less for the clubs themselves, and before too long they will be unable to keep their star players on big salaries. Last season, the likes of Yoann Gourcuff (€23.5M/$33M), Loic Remy (€15M/$21.6M) and Andre-Pierre Gignac (€18M/$25.9M) all made big-money summer moves within Ligue 1.

That pattern is unlikely to repeat itself this summer, so here are some of the stars, in no specific order, who could be leaving Ligue 1 at the end of the season:

Jonathan Wilson: Barcelona 2011 vs. AC Milan 1990

But what would happen if the teams played each other? Both probably produced their greatest displays in beating Real Madrid 5-0, Barcelona earlier this season; AC Milan in the European Cup semifinal in 1989 (both, oddly, also drew 1-1 in the Bernabeu the same season). So let's take the lineups from those two games and pit them against each other.

AC Milan
: Giovanni Galli; Mauro Tassotti, Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta, Paolo Maldini; Roberto Dinadoni, Frank Rijkaard, Carlo Ancelotti, Angelo Colombo; Ruud Gullit, Marco Van Basten

Barcelona: Victor Valdes; Dani Alves, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Eric Abidal; Sergio Busquets; Xavi, Andres Iniesta; Pedro, Lionel Messi, David Villa

Rio Ferdinand stalker convicted of harassment

A stalker who repeatedly turned up at the home of the Manchester United and England footballer Rio Ferdinand has been convicted of harassment.

Susanne Ibru, 38, twice disturbed the player and his wife Rebecca as they slept at their home in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, claiming she needed to speak to him.

Diouf heaps embarrassment on Rangers by admitting he admires his 'friend' Gaddafi

Gaddafi is a man who I have always admired,' declared Diouf. 'I am telling the truth. I know him, and I know his son Saif as well. They are my friends.

'I do not honestly know what is really happening in Libya at the moment, but it must be very hard for Gaddafi and his family.

'I cannot remain far away from what is happening in Libya. I do not know who is in the right and who is wrong, but it is a shame to see so many victims.

By the will of Allah, victory will go to the side that is in the right.'

Phil Ball in Spain

I thought the Clasico was a good game, even an interesting game, and I seem to have been engaged in arguments about it all Sunday. I guess they'll continue until Wednesday night, when we get the next instalment in the quartet - namely the small matter of the Copa del Rey at Valencia's Mestalla stadium.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday MLS Breakdown

Complicating factors muddle Benny Feilhaber's MLS move: the U.S. international midfielder will join an undetermined club after signing with the league, but his contract will force teams to assess whether he offers value within the budget.

Swiss Journalists Detained In Qatar For 13 Days While Trying To Report On The World Cup

The decision to award the 2022 games to Qatar has been controversial, because of the oppressively hot summer temperatures and the oppressive government that bans things like drinking, homosexuality, and freedom of the press.

From Fernando Torres to Bebe - the Premier League's 10 worst transfers of the 2010-11 season

Presenting the absolute best of the absolute worst, UK selects the biggest flops of the campaign based on impact, adjustment, price and contribution to their new sides.

Sam Kelly: Ortega Nearing the End?

The Club World Cup is a competition which perhaps struggles for relevance in Europe (if not the rest of the planet), but at times both it and its predecessor the Intercontinental Cup seem, in hindsight, to have marked an era. Fifteen years ago this December, it featured two playmakers who seemed destined for greatness: for European champions Juventus, a 21-year-old Alessandro Del Piero was Man of the Match and the scorer of the game's only goal. For South American champions River Plate, meanwhile, Ariel Ortega was a sprightly 22 years of age, and a key figure.