Friday, November 25, 2011

Taking the Day Off

Right! SSN Headquarters has cleared out for the Thanksgiving holiday and I plan to follow the staff out the door. There are plenty of good matches this weekend. Check your local listings. See you Monday with a complete review. For some reason I'll be here (see left) tonight...


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's Review, Reports & Analyses

Chelsea were beaten 2-1 by Bayer Leverkusen after a last-minute header means they must wait to qualify from the Champions League. Valencia will face the Blues in their final group game with a place in the last-16 at stake after a 7-0 thrashing of Genk. Arsenal qualified for the Champions League knockout stages for the 12th consecutive season after Robin van Persie's double gave the Gunners a 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund at the Emirates Stadium. Barcelona secured top spot in Group H after leading AC Milan three times to win 3-2 at the San Siro. APOEL Nicosia became the first Cypriot side to qualify for the knockout stages as they dug in for a goalless draw at Zenit St Petersburg.


Bayer Leverkusen 2 - 1 Chelsea
Dominic Fifield at the BayArena

Arsenal 2 - 1 Borussia Dortmund
Phil McNulty at the Emirates Stadium
Kevin Palmer at the Emirates Stadium
Kevin McCarra at the Emirates Stadium
Phil McNulty: van Persie proves his worth again

AC Milan 2 - 3 Barcelona
Ian McCourt at the San Siro

Amy Lawrence: Five Things We Learned

Gabriele Marcotti: 12 Thoughts

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cypriot Champions League Surprise Package

The standard football cliches have been out in full force in Nicosia in the last few weeks. As the Cypriot press runs headlines like "APOEL Among the Stars", "APOEL - I Have Lost my Mind" and "Living the Dream" to name a few, players and coaching staff at APOEL Nicosia have repeatedly tried to play down expectations of qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League.

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's Preview

Arsenal and Chelsea head into Matchday Five searching for victories that will see them safely into the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League. AC Milan and Barcelona have already booked their place in the last 16, but first place in Group H remains up for grabs and both sides will have their foot on the gas in an encounter that will see Zlatan Ibrahimovic face his former employers for the first time since making an acrimonious departure from Camp Nou.


How Robin van Persie compares to Europe's hotshots

Arsenal's Robin van Persie goes into tonight's Champions League game against Borussia Dortmund as one of the most feared strikers in Europe. And with good reason.

Eagle back on Poland kit, under fan pressure

The association cited marketing rights for the change made when ordering jerseys from Nike ahead of Euro 2012, which Poland will co-host with Ukraine.



MLS 2011: Best and Worst of the Season

The Guardian's suggestions for goal of the year, miss of the season, the worst haircut in MLS and many more.

What are yours?

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Review & Reports

Manchester City's UEFA Champions League ambitions are hanging by a thread after losing to Napoli, while Manchester United face a tense finale after drawing at home to Benfica. Bayern Munich booked their place in the knockout phase as Group A winners as they extended Villarreal's miserable Champions League record this term. FC Basel go into their final group game at home to the Red Devils just a point adrift of Sir Alex Ferguson's side after scraping past Otelul Galati 3-2. Real Madrid continued their majestic progress through Group D as they extended their 100 per cent record by demolishing whipping boys Dinamo Zagreb 6-2. Ajax look certain to join Real in the next phase after another 0-0 draw against Lyon with the Dutch outfit three points clear of their rivals and boasting a significantly superior goal difference. Lille's 2-0 victory over CSKA Moscow in Russia in the early kick-off in Group B ensured that Inter Milan progressed to the knockout phase before their clash with Trabzonspor.


Napoli 2 - 1 Manchester City
Daniel Taylor at the Stadio San Paolo
Richard Williams at the Stadio San Paolo
Italian Press Reaction

Manchester United 2 - 2 Benfica
Richard Jolly at Old Trafford
Paul Wilson at Old Trafford

Uli Hess in Germany

Last week we said "quite a lot of eyes will be on a seemingly rather mundane clash between Cologne and Mainz", a prediction which unfortunately came true in an unexpected way and for all the wrong reasons.

Some two hours before this game was supposed to kick off on Saturday, the referee in charge of the match, Babak Rafati, did not show up for the scheduled pre-game meeting with his assistants.

They went looking for him and found Rafati in the bath of his hotel room, his wrists slashed.

Roberto Gotta in Italy

If only Claudio Marchisio's Turinese accent was stronger, it would make the stereotype of 'local lad done good' jump out of the page at you. The Juventus midfielder, though, while retaining several of the peculiar traits of his origin, has matured too steadily on and off the pitch to be cast in the role of someone whose imagination and dreams barely stretched beyond the confines of Chieri, the small town right outside Turin where he was born in January 1986.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sid Lowe in Spain

The frenetic and controversial climax to Real Madrid's 3-2 win at Valencia led to a familiar war of words in the press.
Spain plays video games after Real Madrid win a thriller at Valencia.

The Big Interview: Arrigo Sacchi

The manager of the last team to win back-to-back European Cups is changing the way Italy's youth learn their trade.

Arrigo Sacchi, the magician of Milan, begins to build a new Italy.

Americans Abroad: Jermaine Jones and Timothy Chandler go head to head

German-born U.S. internationals Jermaine Jones and Timothy Chandler played against each other, while Tim Howard and Everton earn much-needed win.

Grant Wahl: Harkes out as ESPN's lead analyst

John Harkes is out and Taylor Twellman is in as ESPN's lead analyst in the booth for MLS and U.S. Soccer broadcasts in 2012, several sources have told Harkes, the U.S. Hall of Famer who played in two World Cups, was recently informed that his contract would not be renewed. Twellman, the former New England Revolution star whose playing career was cut short by concussions, has spent this season working in ESPN's studio coverage and as the analyst for local broadcasts of the Philadelphia Union.

Ian Darke will continue to be ESPN's lead play-by-play voice for the U.S. national team, the English Premier League, Euro 2012 and select MLS broadcasts. Alexi Lalas will continue in his position as an ESPN studio analyst. Adrian Healey is expected to continue calling MLS games when Darke is not involved.

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Previews

Manchester City can secure their spot in the knockout stages with a victory over Napoli in Group A after picking up back-to-back wins against Villarreal. Group A leaders Bayern Munich can confirm their progress to the last 16 when they play host to lowly Villarreal at the Allianz Arena with the Spaniards yet to pick up a point. Manchester United will celebrate qualification into the knockout stages by beating old European foes Benfica at Old Trafford. Inter Milan travel to Trabzonspor in Group B knowing a draw will be good enough to secure progression, but Claudio Ranieri's men will be out for revenge after losing their opening game in the group to the Turkish side. In Group D Real Madrid are already assured of their place in the next phase, but they will be aiming to secure top spot in the group when they play host to basement boys Dinamo Zagreb at El Santiago Bernabeu. Lyon play host to Ajax in a must-win encounter for the French side at Stade Gerland as they currently lie three points behind the Dutch giants.


Napoli vs. Manchester City
Daniel Taylor: City determined to smash Wall of Sound

Manchester United vs. Benfica

Trabzonspor vs. Inter Milan

England: What City and United must do to advance

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Mario Götze's goal gave Dortmund another victory at Bayern, but the match was far too tight to draw any major conclusions.

Bayern stay calm after Dortmund's 'quantum leap' opens up title race.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

Lazio parked the bus to frustrate Napoli, who go into their crucial match against Manchester City having not won for a month.

Napoli struggling to hit top gear ahead of Manchester City visit.

Top five most intimidating overseas stadiums: In Pictures

Henry Winter lists five of the most intimidating grounds around the world.

Estádio São Januário, Rio, Brazil...

Tim Vickery in South America

A year ago, when the Soccerex trade fair came to Rio, I ended up taking some BBC bigwigs to a Brazilian league game - Botafogo against Internacional.

It was the penultimate round of the campaign and much was at stake. Botafogo badly needed a win to qualify for the Copa Libertadores, South America's Champions League equivalent, for the first time since 1996.

The stadium was half-full, with a crowd of 19,604, which surprised the visitors all the more when I explained that tickets were half-price in an attempt to pack as many in as possible.

Botafogo lost 2-1 and the home crowd probably hindered as much as it helped. My guests were amazed at how the home fans turned against their own team, picking out certain players for particularly vicious treatment.

Monday Night Football: Reports & Analyses + EPL Table

Tottenham 2 - 0 Aston Villa
Kevin McCarra at White Hart Lane
David Hytner at White Hart Lane
Jeremy Wilson at White Hart Lane

Kevin McCarra: Spurs' panache could be undermined by a lack of punch

Team GP W D L Pts GF GA GD
Manchester City 12 11 1 0 34 42 11 31
Manchester United 12 9 2 1 29 29 12 17
Tottenham 11 8 1 2 25 23 15 8
Newcastle United 12 7 4 1 25 18 11 7
Chelsea 12 7 1 4 22 25 17 8
Liverpool 12 6 4 2 22 16 11 5
Arsenal 12 7 1 4 22 25 22 3
Aston Villa 12 3 6 3 15 16 17 -1
Queens Park Rangers 12 4 3 5 15 13 22 -9
West Brom 12 4 2 6 14 11 17 -6
Norwich City 12 3 4 5 13 17 20 -3
Everton 11 4 1 6 13 13 16 -3
Swansea 12 3 4 5 13 12 16 -4
Stoke City 12 3 3 6 12 10 22 -12
Sunderland 12 2 5 5 11 14 13 1
Fulham 12 2 5 5 11 14 15 -1
Wolverhampton 12 3 2 7 11 13 20 -7
Bolton 12 3 0 9 9 19 29 -10
Blackburn 12 1 4 7 7 16 27 -11
Wigan Athletic FC 12 1 3 8 6 10 23 -13


Ernst Bouwes in Holland

With accusations of racism in the boardroom, the internal crisis at Ajax has reached a new low. Johan Cruyff's velvet revolution, started last year after the humiliating defeat at Real Madrid in the Champions League, has descended into a war of words and Cruyff could be facing a battle for his own survival.

Phil Ball in Spain

It was General Election day on Sunday in Spain, and as you can imagine, everyone was really interested in who the next Prime Minister was going to be. Well, as long as the football results were in first, of course.

Monday, November 21, 2011

England: Monday Night Football Preview

Tottenham will want to ensure that Harry Redknapp enjoys a stress-free return to the dugout on Monday when they play host to Aston Villa.


La Liga & Serie A: Weekend Reviews

La Liga

Serie A

England: Premier League Review, Reports, Analyses & Teams of the Week

Manchester City are now the only unbeaten side remaining in the Premier League after they inflicted a first defeat on Newcastle. Roberto Mancini's men grabbed a 3-1 win over the third-placed Magpies at the Etihad Stadium. City's lead at the top remains five points after rivals Manchester United claimed a 1-0 win at Swansea, with Javier Hernandez scoring the only goal in the first-half. SuperSunday certainly lived up to its billing this weekend, as Liverpool claimed a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge, to stun Andre Villas-Boas' Chelsea. Arsenal maintained their charge back up the table and Robin van Persie continued his brilliant form in their 2-1 win over Norwich. The game of the weekend was surely witnessed at the DW Stadium as relegation contenders Wigan and Blackburn shared six goals.


Chelsea 1 - 2 Liverpool
Phil McNulty at Stamford Bridge
Richard Williams at Stamford Bridge
Henry Winter at Stamford Bridge
Five Things We Learned

Swansea 0 - 1 Manchester United
Kevin Palmer at Liberty Stadium

Everton 2 - 1 Wolves
David Hopps at Goodison Park

Five Thoughts

Five Things We Learned

Team of the Week I
Team of the Week II

MLS Cup 2011: Report & Analyses

The L.A. Galaxy claimed a 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup final on Sunday night in what could prove to be David Beckham's last game for the club. Landon Donovan scored the winner after latching onto Robbie Keane's pass in the 72nd minute. Donovan dinked a classy finish over goalkeeper Tally Hall, much to the delight of a sell-out crowd of 30,281 at Home Depot Center.


Steve Davis: Does big-name Galaxy's MLS Cup title signal a new era for league?

Grant Wahl: Three Thoughts

The Fifth Official

PlayStation Sideshow Bob, Taylor-made

Eboue pelted by objects in Turkey

The home fans at Besiktas' Inonu Stadium threw a series of objects, including water bottles and lighters, whenever the Ivory Coast international went near the touchline.

Video Here

Tevez wins Argentina golf tournament

Tevez, who returned to his homeland without City's permission after being charged with misconduct following his refusal to warm-up against Bayern Munich in September, won a Buenos Aires Grand Prix for professionals and amateurs, partnering golfers Sebastian Fernandez and Andres Romero.

Nice pants...