Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year (plus a tad of weekend action and a pair of cunts)

The transfer window opens tomorrow. Things about to get all crazy up in here. The biggest story currently involves Dembe Ba and his potential move to Chelsea. Word is it was all but done but now it's hit a snag. We'll see how that plays out.

Best Goals of 2012? Yes. Bring it.

Over the weekend, there were no real surprises. Frank Lampard scored twice to help Chelsea beat Everton. RVP scored again for Manchester United in their win. Arsenal let in three soft goals against Newcastle but grabbed seven for themselves (Walcott with three) to get the win. Tottenham came back to win at Sunderland. Aston Villa let in three more goals at home against Wigan and lost 0-3. West Ham lost at Reading and Manchester City won a thriller at Norwich after Nasri (cunt) was sent packing.

We've got a whole other set of EPL matches mañana. None of the clashes are particularly exciting on paper but at least we've got footie to watch on New Years Day. No complaints here.

Buh By...

Speaking of cunts, Sepp Blatter has spoken. This time the idiot said this: "There is no very strong professional league (in the U.S.)," Blatter said. "They have just the MLS but they have no professional leagues which are recognized by the American society." Hey Sepp! Piss off!

We'll throw in The Podcast today. Here it is:

And so, 2012 comes to an end, and on the final Football Weekly of the year, James Richardson has Jacob Steinberg and watch-botherer John Ashdown in the pod to reflect the highs and lows of the Premier League weekend - including Liverpool's trouncing of QPR and Theo Walcott's humdinger of a hat-trick as Arsenal beat Newcastle 7-3. Amy Lawrence was at the Emirates to see it and shares her thoughts. Other items up for discussion include Samir Nasri's headbutt as Manchester City came away from Norwich with a 4-3 win, Chelsea seemingly not that bothered about Frank Lampard, and Aston Villa's continuing slump. Finally, we throw some love towards the lower leagues, giving some props to the return of tiki-taka's Alex McLeish and the sacking of Henning Berg at Blackburn.

We're going to leave it at that for today. We'll return to (fairly) normal service tomorrow. Enjoy the end of '12.



Friday, December 28, 2012

WAGS, Phil Ball, Newcastle = "Wee Club", Previews

Michael Cox has emerged as one of the more astute tactical observers out there. Here he takes some time to simply look back at 2012 and give us his Top 10 moments, complete with video links. Number one will surprise you.

Yesterday we were treated to Grant Wahl's favorite stories of 2012. Today, Mr. Wahl grants (hah!) us access to his 10 soccer predictions for 2013. Here's number 10: Soccer will continue passing ice hockey in U.S. popularity. Works for us.

Yikes. We were already enveloped in Christmas travel and insanity and missed Phil Ball's dispatch from Spain last week. He looks at Mourinho's decision to drop Iker Casillas in the match against Malaga. Real Madrid went to lose said match. Cue shit hitting fan. Enjoy.

Sir Alex is all fired up, don't you know? In response to Alan Pardew saying the Man United boss should be punished for his sideline behavior (kettle? black?) during Wednesday's match in Newcastle, Fergie provided this gem: 'He's the worst for haranguing refs. He shoves them, then makes a joke. It's because I'm the boss of the most famous team in the world, not a wee club in the north-east...' Good stuff. May it continue apace. It does bring up the question, though. Is it one rule for Fergie and one for the rest? Duh. Henry Winter thinks Sir Alex is setting a bad example.

The bloody Mill is still on vacation! Where will David Villa go? Is Baines on the move? Falcao? Ronaldo? Beckham? Thank God for our Plus One.

OK, on to the English Premier League. We've got another round of fixtures this weekend. The final round of 2012. Can you believe it? Good grief. 2013. Anyway, the most intriguing match has to be Everton vs. Chelsea. That match on Sunday features two sides in the thick of things near the top. Elsewhere, leaders United host West Brom, City have a tricky trip to Norwich, Arsenal return to action against Newcastle at the Emirates, Sunderland host Spurs, and Liverpool are at QPR. Here's a preview.

And here are the necessary sides to go with that main course...

Let's finish with some WAGS. Frankly, it's been too long. Here's your lot.



Thursday, December 27, 2012

Boxing Day Action, Football Weekly, Bale or Rooney?, "To Zlatan", Transfers

Ho! Ho! Ho! 

We're glad Christmas is behind us and we can march forward to 2013. If you celebrate that holiday, we hope it went well for you and you're not stuck on the tarmac or on the highway staring at this:

If you don't celebrate that holiday, hopefully you were able to get some time off to do whatever you wanted to do.

The only people playing any soccer of note right now are in England. The EPL does not have a winter break (quite the opposite), so the action continued as we hung our stockings with care. The long and short of it is Manchester United have opened up a seven-point gap at the top of the table after a barnstorming win against Newcastle yesterday. The match included Sir Alex going nuts at the referees, but don't worry, he won't be punished. Shocking.

United's neighbors City couldn't score against Sunderland and went down to a goal from their old boy Adam Johnson. Hah! Hah! You know Mancini is covering his scarf with spit as he unloads a barrage of Italian invective. Have your Ten Talking Points, why don't you?

Everyone is talking about Berbatov's t-shirt. "KEEP CALM AND PASS ME THE BALL". Makes perfect sense to us. Elsewhere, Liverpool lost to Stoke and Bale grabbed three against Villa in Tottenham's victory. Poor Yank Abroad Brad Guzan. Dude's had to get the ball out of his net 12 (12!!!) times in the last two matches.

Speaking of Bale, my mate Mr. Dependable considers him to be superior to Wayne Rooney at the moment. We took an informal poll here at SSN Headquarters and nobody agrees with Mr. Dependable. So what do you think? Would you rather have Rooney or Bale? We simply think Rooney brings far more to a side than the swashbuckling winger that is Bale. We'd love to know your thoughts. Speaking of thoughts, Peter Berlin has FIVE. And here's a link to the table while we're at it.

So, are United clean and dry? Will they blow it? Here are some "expert" opinions.

Right. So what else is up? Grant Wahl has 10 favorite soccer stories from 2012 that he would like to share with you. They include U.S. TV's soccer splurge, U.S.A. women vs. Canada, and, quite simply, Lionel Messi. Check it.

The Transfer Window will open in five days! For some absurd reason, The Mill went on vacation. Thankfully, we have a Plus One.

Thank The Lord AC Jimbo and crew haven't bailed on us for some sort of holiday. They've provided a lovely podcast. On today's festive Football Weekly Extra, AC Jimbo has Jacob Steinberg and debutant/débutante Daniel Harris in the pod - as well as a cameo appearance from a late, soaking wet and bedraggled Barry Glendenning - to look back on all the action from Boxing Day, including Manchester United's dramatic 4-3 win over Newcastle and Gareth Bale's barnstorming display as Tottenham tonked Villa. Plus, they discuss Stoke's surprisingly stylish victory over Liverpool, wonder who'll be taking over at Nottingham Forest after Sean O'Driscoll was sacked, and ask which Premier League is the tastiest in a fight.

One more thing about the recent action in the EPL. Chelsea's David Luiz is now playing in the midfield. Tim Vickery is in South America and he reckons the move boosts Brazil's World Cup hopes.

Sweden. Bikini Teams. Dragon Tattoos. Zlatan. Sweden has added the verb ‘to Zlatan’ to their national dictionary. Indeed, the Swedish Language Council has approved the term, since it has been increasingly used in conversation by Swedes referring to an outlandishly talented action. How about that?

We'll finish by acknowledging that they are playing football in Turkey. Sort of...



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Champions League Draw and a Bit More

Right to the main story of the day. Here are the match-ups:

Galatasaray v FC Schalke
Celtic v Juventus
Arsenal v Bayern Munich
Shakhtar Donetsk v Borussia Dortmund
AC Milan v Barcelona
Real Madrid v Manchester United
Valencia v Paris St Germain
FC Porto v Malaga

Gabriele Marcotti breaks it down like this. You've got to say that Ronaldo's return to Old Trafford is the biggest story here. And if United oust Real, will The Special One get the sack? It all sets up nicely for some fun action beginning February. Michael Cox looks at the tactical side of things.

In the What's in Your Wallet Cup yesterday, Leeds got the first but Chelsea got the next five to advance to the semis. We thought the chance for the upset was there with all the traveling Chelsea's had to do. Credit to them, though, they worked through it.

Germany in 2012. What happened? According to the expert Raphael Honigstein, it was the year of broken dreams. Ahhhh. Regardless, we DO know that this hilarity ensued in Germany in 2012:

The rumors keep coming. The Mill has some and here's your Plus One.

Things are happening in Major League Soccer. Nobody is playing, but things are happening. At least that's what Jeff Carlisle says. Apparently New York and Kansas City are on the move. Take a look.

That's your lot!



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gooch Goal, Fiver Christmas Awards, Zenit, Leeds and Chelsea, Parkhurst to Augsburg, Sturridge to Liverpool,

We had an interview link with American Abroad Michael Parkhurst yesterday. In said interview, he claimed he was ready to leave Denmark with the Bundesliga his most likely destination. Today news is he's signed for Augsburg. So, there you go. Another Yank in Germany.

We've got a Yank in Spain, too, and his name in Onyewu. He scored a goal in injury time to assure his Malaga side stay in the Copa del Rey. Way to go Gooch.

Leeds and Chelsea. Chelsea and Leeds. Certainly two of the rougher sides of the 60s and 70s. Well, they are set to resume their rivalry in the Capital One Cup this afternoon. Chelsea have just returned from their loss in Japan so it'll be interesting how they perform in this one. Another loss could really dampen spirits around the club. Here's a preview. And another look back at the two most likeable (cough) sides in English football.

Uli Hesse is in Germany. But, if you've been around SSN for any amount of time, you already knew that. The Bundesliga is hibernating for the winter. Relevant or redundant?

To The Mill! It's December 19, don't you know? Only a few more days until the transfer window opens wide with all its goodies. Apparently Daniel Sturridge to Liverpool is already a done deal. Here's your Plus One.

We heard about Zenit's fans wanting to keep players of color and non-heterosexuals out of the team. Thankfully, the club has responded properly. Jonathan Wilson is an expert in Eastern Europe. He's got a good column that looks at some of the nuances and culture at play.

Arsenal signs five British players to long term contracts and suddenly that's the strategy. Keep "local" players who will be more loyal to the club. Interesting. Jim White does not think it will work.

The Fiver. Everyone's favorite hilarious look at the footballing world. They've got their annual Christmas awards all lined up. Here's one to entice you:

Chelsea in Big Cup. And yes, of course they're entitled to their bus but it doesn't mean the rest of us have to blow smoke up their nether regions for doing so. Besides, their fans had the last laugh – they've won Big Cup and look how happy they are now.

Let's complete the day's work with a look at Americans Abroad. Jozy just keeps scoring.



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ronaldo Not Fat, Podcast, Napoli Docked, Scribes, MNF, Tactical Trends

Wow. Loads today. Let's bust out with the Podcast. Here's your breakdown: AC Jimbo welcomes Owen Gibson, Barry Glendenning and a festive Sean Ingle to the pod to discuss Aston Villa's destruction of Liverpool and QPR's first win this season. Elsewhere in the programme ... Chelsea come home beaten from Japan - will they be disorientated come Wednesday against Leeds? Has Marouane Fellaini played his last game for Everton? And was West Brom v West Ham the worst game this year? Owen Gibson has just come back from Qatar and has some interesting thoughts on how the 2022 tournament will play out. But can it possibly be played in the summer, as the Premier League would like? Plus we have time to cover your notes and queries, Sid Lowe ponders the plight of Real Madrid and there's more Serie A with James and Barry. Please leave your own thoughts on any of the above, below.

From James Richardson let's hop to Jonathan Wilson and his look at the tactics that dominated 2012. Possession football, strikers' struggles and Barcelona's passing and pressing were all in the mix.

There was actual football played yesterday. Arsène Wenger let Theo Walcott play up top and it proved a wise decision as Reading were defeated 2-5. Arsène knows, or so they say. Santi Cazorla had a hat-trick. Both defenses were terrible. Phil McNulty was there.

A quick shot of props to Ronaldo who has lost over 35 pounds during a variety show fitness program in Brazil. Here are the before and afters...

Meanwhile, over in Italy, Napoli have been docked two points and defenders Paolo Cannavaro and Gianluca Grava banned for six-months in the latest match-fixing action in Serie A. Napoli now fall to fifth in the table. Read about it here. Sticking in Italy, let's check out Paolo Bandini's latest submission. Paolo didn't know the Napoli news when he wrote, and ironically he wrote about how Bologna won at Napoli this weekend with a winner from a defender returning from a ban for failing to report an attempt to rig a result. It's the same offense that got Cannavaro and Grava banned. Wow.

Spain: Phil Ball is thinking about Mallorca. Sid Lowe says the title race is indeed over. Speaking of title races being over, Raphael Honigstein wonders if Bayern Munich might have a lock on the Bundesliga already. 

This is pretty funny. Apparently Chelsea's World Club Cup defensive tactics sheet was found in a dressing room trash can by some Brazilian reporter. 

Time for The Mill. Your rumors for Tuesday. Word is Newcastle are about to get that French bloke Loic Rémy. And your Plus One.

Graham Parker poses this question: Was Rafael Márquez the worst ever MLS designated player? Nery Castillo, anyone?

Michael Parkhurst. American Abroad. Denmark, specifically. Nordsjaelland, more specifically. You saw him play (and play well) in the Champions League. His contract is about to expire and he wants to move on up. Here's an interview.

And there you are.



Monday, December 17, 2012

And We're Back!

Right. Let's jump in with the Club World Cup. You all thought Chelsea would cruise to the title, right? No so fast. Corinthians had different ideas and edged the Blues 1-0. Tim Vickery claims it's a watershed moment for South American clubs. Too bad for Chelsea, though. All the way to Japan just come up empty. At least they got to experience Beatlemania.

Back in their domestic league, the biggest surprise had to be Aston Villa's romp over Liverpool at Anfield. 3-1 in favor of the visitors with only a late consolation goal for Liverpool. Rodgers' reign is not going so well. Elsewhere, Fellaini headbutted Shawcross (ref didn't see it = he'll be banned) as Everton and Stoke drew, Spurs beat Swansea, United cruised, City should thank Cisse for his miss as they won at Newcastle, and West Ham and West Brom failed to score. How about Ten Talking Points? And Berlin has Five Thoughts.

And how about a Clint Dempsey interview? Everybody loves Clint, right? Right? Hmmmm.

Over in Europe Barcelona ensured that their clash with Atletico Madrid was disappointing by cruising to a 4-1 win. Falcao got one, but Messi got two. If you thought the La Liga title was still up in the air you can think again. Real Madrid could only draw at home with Espanyol. Barca are now nine clear of Atletico and THIRTEEN!! clear of Real. Done and dusted. More from Phil and Sid mañana.

In Italy Lazio beat Inter, Napoli lost, and Juventus won. Juve are now seven clear at the top with a host of clubs cluttered beneath them. Here's the table.

The Mill. We're almost January. Here's your Plus One.

Monday Night Football is Reading vs. Arsenal. 3pm EST on ESPN2. Here's a preview.

Sorry, but we've got to finish on a low note today. File under utterly disgusting: Zenit St. Petersburg's largest supporters group issued a manifesto demanding the team field an all-white, heterosexual team. Fuck you.

We out.



Thursday, December 13, 2012

SSN Headquarters Closed

There's a bad bug going around. Hopefully we can open tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Moral Compass, The Mill, Scribes

It's not been the best of times for football on the social front of late. David Conn is wondering if the moral compass is gone. Lord Ouseley sure thinks it has. Terry, Suárez, Bassong, Evra. Ugh. Paul Hayward is convinced that football is now a toxic sport that is spinning out of control because it's not just racism. It's violence and anti-semitism, too. Social media is a problem as well. These pictures provide a nice summation of the madness. Perhaps "cultural lessons" will help. Hmmm. No.

Sorry to begin with such a downer but it's unavoidable. That said, let's move on. Fulham and Newcastle played last night at Craven Cottage. It was a win for the home side. Here's a report. Ben Arfa's goal was sublime for the losing side, by the way. Tonight is Sunderland vs. Reading. We really don't think a preview for that clash is necessary...

Also on the cards tonight -- The Capitol One Cup! Yes, everyone's favorite competition returns with a quarter-final match between Bradford City and Arsenal at Bradford's Coral Windows Stadium. Here's your preview.

The other quarter-final is Norwich vs. Villa. No preview for you!

Did you know that the Club World Cup is going on over in Japan? It's a worthless competition. Hiroshima vs. Auckland? No, thanks. Chelsea is over there, though, so the Japanese are pretty excited. We suppose it's good for them to be able to see Torres and crew in the flesh. Thanks to Tim Vickery, we now know why the tournament sucks. The fault lies with Santos FC, apparently.

It is Tuesday, after all, so that means we get to check in with our favorite correspondents around the globe. We already heard from Vickery (Brazil) so let's jump over to Honigstein (Germany). Raphael is wondering what is eating Schalke. They are in crisis mode, apparently. Have a look.

From Germany let's head down to see what Bandini (Italy) is getting into. Antonio Conte's four-month ban ended and he returned to guide Juventus to victory against Palermo. Have a look.

From Italy let's go see what Ball and Lowe (Spain) have on offer. Phil wants to talk Messi. Have a look. Sid wants to talk Messi. Have a look.

You want a dive? Here's a dive courtesy of Juve's Leonardo Bonucci. Impressive stuff, really.

Let's end with The Mill. Nani to Arsenal? Here's your Plus One.



Monday, December 10, 2012

Manchester Derby Fallout And Other Stuff

Bloody Hell. Literally. Some clown in the stands at the Etihad hit Rio with a coin. It marred what was otherwise a great Manchester Derby. United won in the end when RVP's free-kick bounced off old pal Nasri's leg and eluded Joe Hart. Some other clown invaded the pitch to confront Ferdinand but thankfully Hart intervened. Can we not just have a great match and leave it at that? The idiot who came on the pitch now says he's sorry. It would appear to us that he simply does not want to get banned. Should have thought of that before you left your seat, pal. Moron. Are nets the solution?

Richard Jolly was there. As was Daniel Taylor. You want Talking Points? Here are FIVE. And we cannot forget Henry Winter. We were not there, but we watched, of course. Why did Mancini start Balotelli? Tevez on the bench? Foolish. For the Reds, Rooney was masterful.

Here's a great rant. Paddy Crerand completely loses it.

Right. What else happened over the course of the weekend? Well, Everton beat Tottenham in a thriller, Torres scored twice to lead Chelsea over Sunderland, Santi took a dive to help Arsenal win, and Liverpool (Joe Cole scored!) beat West Ham. Here's a little review from Sunday, and here's one from Saturday.

Can't leave England (or Wales) without another dose of racism.

Spain. Messi. Yes, he broke the record. He's scored a lot of goals this year. Real Madrid. Ozil's free-kick enabled them to avoid defeat at Valladolid. Falcao. He scored five goals against Deportivo La Coruna. Dude is good. Guillem Balague has a nice little article about the weekend in Spain.

Italy. Inter beat Napoli apparently because Napoli couldn't finish. More tomorrow. Juventus won too, by the way.

Shit, back to England. There's Monday Night Football. Fulham host Newcastle. It's on ESPN2 at 3pm EST.

The Mill. Demba Ba. Where's he going? Here's your Plus One.

Can we finish in Germany? Thanks. Uli Hesse is over there and he discusses the solidarity that exists between German supporters with his usual skillful eye.



Friday, December 07, 2012

Manchester Derby, Euro 2020, Messi Sneezed, And the Whole World Caught A Cold, The Joy of Six, The Mill

Right! Friday! Bloody well time, we think. What a week. Thankfully, it's over and there are loads of tasty matches on the menu this weekend. Before we dig into all of that, UEFA says Euro 2020 will be staged across Europe in a bunch of different nations. Maybe we're spoilsports but can't they just pick one frickin country and go with it? No, they can't. And they can't because Platini and Co. need to make as much money as they possible and this is the way to do it. We're worry about that more in 2019. Meanwhile, Martin Samuel has his opinion about all the nonsense.

Speaking of UEFA, they're still running this thing called the Europa League. We're down to the final 32 (yawn) in that one. Spurs snuck in (goals from Adebayor, Dempsey, and Defoe), Liverpool are there, Inter Milan made it through, Newcastle will be's a round-up.

On to Friday's Rumors. Fernandinho. Right. Anyway, here's your Plus One.

Hey! Stuart Holden is back in training! Bolton's American Abroad has been out for over a year. Best of luck, Stuart. You're good enough, you're smart enough, and, doggonit people like you.

Sid Lowe is in Spain. He says that Messi's injury scare sent the soccer world into state of shock. 

Before we get to the EPL, let's look at the other what will happend in Spain, Italy, and Germany this weekend. 

In Spain, Valladolid host Real Madrid which could be interesting. And Barcelona go to Sevilla to face Real Betis. Betis currently sit fourth in La Liga. So, Barcelona will probably win. Eduardo Alvarez has his Quiniela.

In Serie A action, Yank Abroad Michael Bradley and his Roma side host Fiorentina on Saturday, while Sunday offers the biggie in the form of Inter vs. Napoli at the San Siro. That kicks off at 2:45pm EST and can be viewed stateside live on RAI or on BeIN SPORT delayed at 5pm EST.

DAS BUNDESLIGA! Ehh. Not really any interesting matches this weekend from our point of view.

OK. Check out this lineup for Sunday in the EPL. AT 8:30am EST you've got Manchester City vs. Manchester United (FSC). At 10:00am EST you've got Everton vs. Tottenham (Fox Soccer Plus). At 11am EST you've got West Ham vs. Liverpool (FSC). Not too shabby. Here are all the pertinent links:

And finally, Phil McNulty wonders if it's a two-horse race between the Manchester clubs. Hint: Yes, it is. 

Let's finish up, shall we? The Joy of Six is always a joy to behold on Fridays. Today we get Weird Football Stories. Marco Boogers! Yes!

But wait. Six Classic Manchester Derbies. We couldn't leave that out, could we?

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Holders to Europa, Celtic Miracle, Rewind to 2001, The Mill

And so the Champions League withdraws from the stage. We won't have any action on that front until December 20, and that will be the draw for the Round of 16. Chelsea, the current holders, will not be participating. They romped past a hapless Noerdjaeaeoueajouelland side at Stamford Bridge but it was all in vain as they now hold the title as the the first Champions League holders to fail to advance beyond the group stage. Dom Fifield was at Stamford Bridge and he's got some talking points.

So no Chelsea, but Celtic (yes, Celtic) will have a ping-pong ball with their name on it on December 20. Whodah thunk? Alasdair Lamont has a nice little piece about their hard work paying off. Snoop must be higher than normal today.

So! Here are your Final 16 by group:

Group A: PSG, Porto
Group B: Schalke, Arsenal
Group C: Malaga, AC Milan
Group D: Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid
Group E: Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk
Group F: Bayern Munich, Valencia
Group G: Barcelona, Celtic
Group H: Manchester United, Galatasaray

And here are the essentials as we bid adieu to the Champions League until February:

10 talking points from match-day six
Five Thoughts
Richard Williams: The Champions League Story So Far
Final Group Results and Standing (plus a little Europa)

Let's jump straight to The Mill. Kaká to L.A.? Oh, dear. Here's your Plus One.

What were you doing back in April of 2001? We were watching far too much soccer. My, how things have changed...

Sorry, back to the narrative. In 1997 Roy Keane was still recovering from a bender when he led Manchester United out against Manchester City. Long story short, he tore his cruciate ligament trying to kick Alf-Inge Haaland. Alf-Inge Haaland thought he was faking it. Keano was quite angry. Fast forward to April 2001. Roy Keane ends Alf-Inge Haaland's career with a bit of revenge, Keano-style! But if you clicked on the link above you remembered/learned that already thanks to Jon Carter.

What's the point? Don't fuck with Roy Keane. Roy Keane holds a grudge.

Right, what else is going on out there? Not that much. Until tomorrow.



Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Mill, Champions League, Hulk Angry, Henry Back to Arsenal, Bilbao, Inter, Messi, Americans Abroad

Manchester City. You finished bottom of the group. Embarrassing? Oh, yes. Really, a team consisting of superstars like yours can't even win one match in the Champions League group stage? This was supposed to be the year you conquer Europe. But here's the silver lining if you support the blue side of Manchester. Finishing bottom of the group ensures that you don't get dumped into the Europa League. No trips to the far reaches of Eastern Europe for Thursday matches. Nine fewer games. No Sunday/Thursday/Sunday/Thursday crap to deal with. Still, though...

What else went down? Arsenal lost in Greece (Barcelona, anyone?), Real Madrid romped over Ajax, Gooch and Sasha drew in a battle of Americans Abroad, and Milan lost to Zenit thanks to a goal from some guy named Danny. Here's the round-up and all the permutations. And we'll throw in Five Thoughts. And Five Talking Points.

In terms of today's matches, most eyes will be on Group E, where the fates of Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Chelsea will be determined. Celtic still have a chance to advance as well, and they host Spartak Moscow in Group G. Wonder if Snoop will be watching...

Liverpool fans! Jamie Carragher knows how to save the Champions League. Here's his plan.

Henry Winter wants to talk about Mr. Messi as he approached his goal milestone. The greatest ever? We obviously never saw some of the greats in their primes but it's had to argue against the little Argentine.

Americans Abroad! We've got a few of them hitting the pitches south of the border. Joe Corona, in particular, is doing quite well for Club Tijuana. Avi gets us up to speed on what's going on around the world with our Yanks.

The Mill! Yes, how you've been missed. How about Wednesday's Rumors (Sneijder to City?) and a Plus One.

Speaking of Sneijder, Gabrielle Marcotti wants to figure out why Inter Milan are so adept at self-destruction. And what's the deal with Athletic Bilbao? Graham Hunter investigates why they are about to leave San Mames in such bad shape.

It would appear that Thierry Henry will return yet again to his old club in London. Good? Bad? Indifferent?

Let's finish on a high note by going to Holland, shall we? The Daily Tackle brings us a nice clip of a dude trying to kick a ball, slipping, and losing his full beer. Bummer.



Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Mill Returns, Podcast, Champions League, Euro Scribes, Kolarov's Jingle Bells

Instead of busting into Tuesday with the Podcast, let's instead welcome the return of The Mill. Yes, it's been a while since we entertained the rumors of the footballing world, but we've been wandering aimlessly around SSN Headquarters and suddenly found ourselves face to face with THE TRANSFER WINDOW!! And it is almost ready to open. Here's your Plus One.

Glad that's out of the way. This week's Podcast proceeds with...AC Jimbo shootin' the breeze with Barry Glendenning, Barney Ronay and Paul MacInnes, and there's much to discuss. First up, we deal with the crises at Chelsea and Arsenal, both of which would no doubt be solved by bringing in smiling Uncle Avram Grant – but unfortunately for Chelsea fans, he's only friends with their squillionaire owner. Next, we vacuum up the rest of the action in the Premier League, including Norwich's upturn in form, QPR's winless streak, and Manchester United's wobbly defence. Finally, Sid Lowe tells us about José Mourinho's attempts to quell the unrest of the Real Madrid faithful; house partying with a 16-year-old Kate Moss; and Liam Ridgewell's bum note.

Newcastle won last night. They beat Wigan. Demba Ba looked back to (close to) his best. Kristan Heneage was at St. James' Park. And here's the current EPL Table.

Let's go to Spain, shall we? Phil Ball is there and he's bummed that Atletico were so defensive against Real. He's also given up on anything like a competitive league and is just watching the numbers. Sid's over there as well, of course. He's more focused on Valencia where Pellegrino got the sack.

Continuing our world tour let's check in with Tim Vickery in South America. This week he's checking in to see who is tops in the leagues across the continent.

And...back to Europe. Rafael Honigstein, of course. He looks back at the Klassico (really?) between Bayern and Borussia Dortmund that ended in a draw. It looks good for the Munich side as the Bundesliga nears its annual winter hibernation. And Paolo. Paolo, Paolo, Paolo. He's in Italy where the Man with the Mohawk Stephan El Shaarawy is working his ass off trying to maintain some dignity for AC Milan. The kid is only 20 but he's lighting it up.

The Champions League returns to action today for the final phase of the group stage. Ben Lyttleton takes a look at what's at stake. Here's a preview of today's action with Manchester City at Dortmund, Arsenal resting several starters for their trip to Athens, and Ajax at Real Madrid. And our look wouldn't be complete without a complete breakdown of the groups. Ok, and the BBC breaks it all down. Fine.

Richard Williams says this about Arsenal: The signs of decline have been evident since David Dein was forced to resign five years ago.

Let's finish with Alex Kolarov, yes? Folks have been asking about this and here is is. Good grief.



Monday, December 03, 2012

Galaxy Win Cup, The Fifth Official, Onyewu, FA Cup, Monday Night Football

Monday. The Fifth Official. So many targets available. Chelsea and Rafa, Arsenal and Wenger, Bale and Suarez. Have fun.

On to Major League Soccer. No real surprise that the Galaxy took the Cup. The only surprise was that the match was so entertaining. We know it's the end for Becks, but is it also the end for Lando? Jeff Carlise was there and has this report. And Grant Wahl has his usual astute Three Thoughts. And how about Five Things We Learned?

Right. EPL. Quite a bit of fun this past weekend. West Ham 3 - 1 Chelsea. Reading 3 - 4 Manchester United. Arsenal 0 - 2 Swansea City. Manchester City 1 - 1 Everton. Fulham 0 - 3 Tottenham. Sticking with our numbers theme, here are 10 Talking Points. Worried about Arsenal? Nigel Winterburn says it'll all be OK. Concerned about Chelsea? Matt Stanger says you should be. Want to read about the crazy first half at Reading? Jamie Jackson observed on behalf of The Observer. How did West Ham win against Chelsea? Dominic Fifield observed on behalf of The Observer.

Oguchi Onyewu. You know, Gooch? American Abroad? The D.C.-native has plied his trade at Metz, La Louviere, Standard Liege, Newcastle, AC Milan, FC Twente, Sporting Lisbon, and now... Malaga! The BBC has a lovely little look at the fullback ahead of his side's Champions League match mañana.

Monday Night Football. Newcastle vs. Wigan. Things have not been going well of late for the Geordies. Demba Ba wants out. Cisse isn't scoring much. Four losses on the trot. Here's your preview.

The FA Cup is ready to rear it's ugly head early next month in the form of the Third Round. The draw was announced and Arsenal get to see Swansea again, this time in Wales. Manchester United have a tricky trip to Upton Park, and Chelsea go down to Southampton. Oh, and Aldershot host Rotherham United. Here's the info.

Let's hit the continent. Fiorentina drew, Inter barely won, Napoli won, and Juventus won. That's your Italy. More tomorrow. Barcelona won and Real won the Madrid Derby. That's your Spain. More tomorrow. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund drew. That's your Germany. More tomorrow.

That's it. We out.



Friday, November 30, 2012

Madrid Derby, Farewell Golden Balls, German Clasico

Surprise start today because we're going to Brazil. You should know that they fired their coach last week and replaced him with Big Phil. Jack Long things that's a step in the wrong direction. Why ditch the guy who was molding a strong, young team for the old geezer who will simply destroy all the good work that's been done? Back to square one for Brazil.

Thanks for the memories, Golden Balls...
The MLS Cup is Saturday (4:30pm EST on ESPN). David Beckham's last match in MLS. Feel free to take a time out to shed a tear.

Right, so it's L.A. Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo Part Deux. Here are five factors that helped it all turn out that way once again. Jeff Carlisle argues that Robbie Keane's renaissance is certainly a key factor, if not his absurdly poor goal celebration technique. Grant Wahl has an interesting interview with Commish Don Garber. Read it and learn. Here's a preview for the match itself. In fact, it's the final MLS Friday Forecast for a while. Say that three times fast.

Big matches in Europe this weekend. Perhaps the biggest is the Madrid Derby. Real vs. Atlético at the Bernabéu. Atlético currently sit second in the La Liga table while Real sit third. Expect some excellent expressions from Mourinho along with a Ronaldo goal. And a Falcao goal. Here's a preview. Let's stick in Spain and throw in a Quiniela from Eduardo Alvarez. It's been too long, frankly. Eduardo thinks the away team will win the If you want to catch the contest find a TV tomorrow at 4pm EST that is tuned to beIN Sport USA. Oh, and Barney Ronay looks at Ronaldo and Messi. Messi and Ronaldo.

DAS BUNDESLIGA! Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund. Tomorrow at 12:30pm EST on GolTV. Bayern are ten clear at the top of the table with Dortmund in third 11 points behind. Leverkusen sit second. You'd have to think that if Bayern can win they'll take the title for the first time since 2009/2010. Preview? Here's one from an unlikely source: The New York Times.

England, you say? The Premier League? Fine, but let's be brief. Here's a preview. Here's Lawro. Here's Merse. Look out for these ten things. Done.

We're out. Enjoy the weekend.



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Just England: Clint Speaks, Giggs Goals

Let's just jump right in with a look at yesterday's matches in England's top flight, because that's about all we're got. We'll start at White Hart Lane, where Spurs managed to see off Liverpool. Gareth Bale scored twice, once for Tottenham, and once for Liverpool. His IN THE FACE goal for Liverpool was awfully special. Paul Doyle has a report. 

Across town at Stamford Bridge, Rafa kept up his fine record of draws with another 0-0 affair, this time against Fulham. Berbatov looked lovely whilst floating about the pitch, but nobody could score. In fact, Fernando Torres has not scored in 10 hours and 49 minutes. Doh! Owen Phillips was there.

Up in Liverpool, there was another stalemate as Everton and Arsenal drew 1-1. It wasn't a bad match, and if we were betting folk, we would have put some money on a result such as this. Everton had a clear penalty denied when Arteta hauled back Pienaar, but it really was an even contest. Leighton Baines, in particular, was exceptional. Tim Rich was at Goodison Park.

What else? Well, RVP scored the only goal to give Manchester United the home win against West Ham (Richard Jolly reports), Swansea looked fantastic in their victory over West Brom, Stoke beat Newcastle 2-1, Manchester City kept pace with a win against Wigan (Balotelli actually scored!), and Southampton and Norwich drew 1-1. Here's the table. And here's a Round Up.

Staying in England, Yank Abroad Clint Dempsey says he only left Fulham because he did not feel appreciated. Interesting. Sorry to hear that, Deuce. We thought you wanted Champions League football. But then you went to, maybe you're telling the truth. We'll watch your return to Craven Cottage this weekend with extra interest.

Ryan Giggs is now 39 years old. Good grief. Here's a look at his top-10 goals. No gifts for guessing Number One. It's a bit of a no-brainer.

That's really about it.



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Death to the Europa League?, Big Phil in Brazil, More Americans Abroad, More Midweek Action, Chelsea "Regrets"

Good Morning,

There really are a lot of Yanks playing abroad. Guys in Mexico, Denmark, Sweden, and Austria. Guys like Charlie Davies. Apparently, Chuck came on as an 82nd-minute substitute and was sent off with a straight red card in his last match for Randers. Randers is Denmark's sixth-largest city, by the way. We digress. Davies got bumped into the corner flag by a defender while fighting for the ball and retaliated by pushing the defender down from behind before lunging at him leading with his head while both were on the ground following the tackle. Easy there, buddy.

Sorry Charlie. Davies gets the boot in Denmark.
'Arry Redknapp is back on the touchline. Not in Ukraine, as we had hoped, but over in St. John's Wood. Arry's men supplied us with a drab scoreless draw against Sunderland. In the other match, Villa won 1-0 thanks to a late header from their prodigy Christian Benteke. Once again, Darren Bent was left out completely. Not even on the bench. Aston Villa paid £24m for the guy (the club-record signing), most likely because he has scored 102 Premier League goals. After the match, Paul Lambert, the Villa manager, was asked a total of 22 questions about Bent's absence. And we learned absolutely nothing. Bizarre.

With those two fixtures out of the way we can look at what this afternoon has on offer. And it's quite lovely, indeed. Chelsea host Fulham, Tottenham host Liverpool, Everton host Arsenal, Manchester United welcome West Ham, Wigan welcome Manchester City, West Brom go to Swansea, Stoke host Newcastle, and Southampton welcome Norwich City. Lawro has some predictions. He correctly called a draw for QPR/Sunderland and win for Villa (so did Paul Merson) so let's see how he does today. Here's a preview of all the matches.

Some rather big news today from our friends (cough) over at UEFA. It would seem that Platini and co. are considering terminating the Europa League in favor of extending the Champions League from 32 to 64 teams. So, make of that what you will. We'll worry about it in 2014. In the meantime we'll look forward to Manchester United vs. Videoton FC.

Big Phil! You missed him, right? Word on the street is Brazil will name Luiz Felipe Scolari as their new national team manager later today. He took them to the 2002 title. Let's see how 2014 goes. We'll throw in a touching photo of him with Ronaldo when he headed up the Portuguese side.

Speaking of Ronaldo, the excellent Jonathan Wilson has a simple question: Is Cristiano Ronaldo a strength or a weakness to a team?

In other news, Chelsea "regrets" the Clattenburg incident. Really? Idiots.

Like Darren Bent, Wesley Sneijder is not playing. Unlike Darren Bent, we know why. It's simply because Inter Milan want him to take a 30% wage cut and he refuses. Like Jonathan Wilson above, James Horncastle wonders if Inter are better without him.

It would be a bit odd if we could go a few days without something about racism, right? Thankfully, the police have arrested the Sunderland twat who "allegedly" aimed a racist 'monkey' gesture at Lukaku last weekend. Judging from the photographic evidence, there's nothing alleged about it.

That's your lot. Enjoy the afternoon matches if you can.



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Frenchie Joey Barton, Podcast, Spain, Italy, Germany, Soccer in Queens, Midweek Action, Americans Abroad

Only one place to begin today and that's with Jimbo and crew. Here's the preview: A stonking Football Weekly awaits you today, with James Richardson joined by Barney Ronay, Barry Glendenning and our favourite Frenchman (after this guy), Philippe Auclair. We start with the extraordinary scenes at Stamford Bridge where the Rafa Benítez era began to an accompanying soundtrack of boos and plenty of vitriol as Chelsea drew with Manchester City. Next, it's to the top flight's other new managerial appointment, Harry Redknapp, who funnily enough didn't take charge of Ukraine, but has succeeded Mark Hughes at QPR. Finally, we round up all of the rest of the weekend's action and look forward to a cracking round of midweek fixtures, including Arsenal's trip to Everton, Tottenham's game with Liverpool and Reading's clash with Aston Villa. All of that plus sexy managers; the end of the title race in Spain; and Joey Barton's belated debut in Ligue 1.

Speaking of Joey Barton in France, we saw this yesterday but didn't put it in. He's speaking with reporters in English...with a French accent. Pretty bloody hilarious.

Sadly, we need to go back to the ugly scenes at White Hart Lane. Thankfully, Big Sam has changed his tune after being criticized (surprise!), and West Ham will take a strong stance. Good.

It is Tuesday, after all, so let's hear from Phil Ball. He's in Spain, in case you forgot. And he does not like fixtures on Fridays (neither do we). Sid is over there as well, of course. He's pretty much resigned to the fact that the La Liga title will go to Barcelona.

Interested in Major League Soccer? Avi Creditor has his season award picks here. Sticking with MLS for a second, it looks like New York will get second team and it will actually play in New York. The stadium deal in Queens is set to be sealed, according to Commish Garber. The Queens team can be your favorite team in 2016.

You might have noticed that Brazil fired their coach Mano Menezes a few days ago. Tim Vickery is down there, and he has this to say: When Brazil play well the players get the praise. When they disappoint the coach gets the blame.

Raphael Honigstein. The Bundesliga. Engulfed by flares and violence. Yikes!

Schalke fans turn up the heat...

Paolo Bandini. Serie A. It's getting tight at the top. Paolo filed Sunday so he didn't know what happened last night in the Monday fixtures. Inter lost and Napoli won. Done.

Speaking of matches not on the weekend, we've got some EPL action today. The juicy fixtures are tomorrow, but if you need to get a fix this afternoon, you've got Reading at Villa and QPR at Sunderland. How will 'Arry fare in his first match in charge at Rangers? Hopefully, he'll lose. Wanker.

Right! We've got American citizens plying their trade abroad. Guys like Gooch.

Let's finish once again with King Eric. Here are 20 of his greatest quotes. This is our favorite: "I didn't study; I live."



Monday, November 26, 2012

Kolo No Incognito, 'Arry's Back, Post-Thanksgiving Stuff(ing), West Ham Anti-Semitism

Sorry, we bailed for a few days there. The familial obligations took over and we had to shut down the SSN Headquarters for a few days in order to consume massive quantities of bland food. Thankfully, we're back open and ready for business with a healthy helping of hot sauce at the ready.

Why are you crying, Kolo...?

Where to begin? How about we look at what Kolo Toure's been up to of late? Check this shit out. Dude told some woman he was a car salesman while he had an affair with her for two years. He said his name was "Francois". The picture in the shower is priceless. Tip of the hat to SSN's France Bureau Chief J.D. for the heads up.

Right! It wouldn't be Monday without The Fifth Official. Luckily, this Fifth Official actually does something other than stand on the end line. Today there's plenty to go on. Mark Hughes sacked by QPR and 'Arry jumps in. Di Matteo sacked by Roman and Rafa fills in to the dismay of the Chelsea faithful. Plus, Brendan Rodgers can't beat his old club.

While we're on the EPL, let's quickly review. Manchester United are top after winning against QPR. Manchester City and Chelsea drew 0-0. West Brom won again and sit third. Villa and Arsenal couldn't score in a lovely Midlands downpour. Spurs beat West Ham but the Hammer fans had to go and get all anti-Semitic. What's the problem with Nazi salutes? "You're getting gassed in the morning?" Lovely. Here's what Sam Allardyce, West Ham's manager, had to say about the allegations: "I don't want to be a political animal - I'm here to talk about football and not what fans are saying and singing." Apparently, though, you DO want to be a cunt. Well played, then.

Here's a summary of what went down in England's top flight over the weekend. And some Talking Points for the water cooler.

Meanwhile, in Spain. Yes, La Liga. It's over. Barcelona won, Real Madrid lost. That's all you need to know. We think Barcelona are something like 11 points clear, so there you go. Sid and Phil will investigate tomorrow, but here's an interesting piece. Barcelona won this weekend with a team comprised completely of players developed at their academy. Love them or hate them, that's impressive.

Italy? Yes, Serie A. Milan managed to defeat Juventus thanks to a dodgy penalty. Paolo will investigate tomorrow.

Cantona Cantona Cantona. 20 years, now.

You know what? That's about it for today. We'll return with the guys in Europe tomorrow, along with more of the usual Tuesday fare.



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Di Matteo Gets Di Sack

You're not surprised, are you? Chelsea lost in Turin last night and it would seem Roman has had enough of his latest gaffer. You're fired, Roberto. So what now? Guardiola? Benítez? Why would anyone want that job? Here's a nice rundown of sacked Chelsea managers. And Phil McNulty on the issue at hand.

OK, what else happened? Shak won their match so it does look like Chelsea will exit the Champions League sooner rather than later. Shak used a heavy dose of unsportsmanlike conduct to get their win, however. Check out this goal. Not in the spirit of football, indeed.

Celtic lost at Benfica, Manchester United Light lost at Galatasaray, and Messi scored twice (yawn) as Barcelona cruised. Here's the latest group update.

Today we've got Manchester City vs. Real Madrid (Ronny Returns to Manchester!), Arsenal vs. Montpelier, Ajax vs. Dortmund, and AC Milan vs. Anderlecht. And a couple more. There's absolutely no reason you should be working this afternoon. Take the time to watch some footie. It's a Thanksgiving tradition.

Thierry Henry might come back to Arsenal yet again. Here, check it out if you wish.

And that's really all that's happening today. Apart from the Champions League and Chelsea, it's all a bit quiet. Let's end with Martin Samuel. He's wondering if Luis Suarez can really be Player of the Year.



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Football Weekly, Golden Balls, Juventus vs. Chelsea, Hammers and Potters, Phil, Sid, Rafa, Paolo, Tim

Ahoy! Podcast. Football Weekly: James Richardson's joined by Barry Glendenning, Gregg Bakowski and Twitter's latest arrival, Amy Lawrence. We start with the action at the top of the Premier League, with Arsenal tonking Tottenham and Manchester City hitting top spot after United lost at Norwich. Next, we turn to the Champions League, where Chelsea – fresh from defeat at West Brom – have another tricky fixture at Juventus. Finally, an angry Michael Hann comes in to tell us how dreadful things are under Mark Hughes at QPR, now 4 points adrift at the bottom after losing 3-1 at home to Southampton. All that plus Sid Lowe, breastfeeding, and Snoop Lion (née Dogg) buying into Celtic.

Make it stop...
Monday Night Football: West Ham drew with Stoke in a decent match. We took it in and were not terribly disappointed. Yelling at a television containing images of Sam Allardyce can be quite therapeutic. David Hytner was there. Here's the current table.

David Beckham has announced that he will leave the Galaxy after the MLS Cup match. How will the league cope without its biggest star? Jeff Carlisle thinks about it. Richard Williams reckons Golden Balls has one more gig left in his pants before he leaves the pitch for good. And here's the view from Beckham expert Grant Wahl.

Phil Ball and Sid Lowe are in Spain, don't you know? Phil wants to talk some Benzema. Sid wants you to remember somebody named José Antonio Reyes. Who? Yes, him. He played a big part in the  Seville Derby! Check out his goal after just 12 seconds. Kick-off, back to keeper, keep to Reyes, goal. Oops.

Raphael Honigstein is in Germany where Schalke lost to leave Bayern Munich eight points clear at the top. Done and dusted, then.

Paolo Bandini is in Italy where Sampdoria beat Genoa to claim honors in the Lighthouse Derby. Word is Samp have a bit of young talent. Hmmm.

Right! There are matches today, and a couple of them matter a bit. The biggie is Juventus vs. Chelsea. Torres to be dropped? Di Mateo on his way out? The pressure is on! Richard Williams is already in Turin getting ready for the clash. He's got his mind on Pirlo. Don't we all?

Elsewhere, Manchester United return to "hell" but they'll play a reserve side, and Celtic go to Benfica. Here's a look at all the groups. Ben Lyttleton is correct when he claims the Champions League group stage is approaching a climactic finish. 

Let's finish with Tim Vickery down in Brazil. This week, Tim investigates why the Brazil club matches attract fewer folks than MLS matches. Here are some hints: The calendar is badly organised, the cost of tickets has risen too much, pricing many out of the game, and people of all income levels are preferring to watch the games on TV either at home or in bars. The timing of games does not help - 21:50 at night is too late and in the big cities, 19:30 on a midweek evening is too early. But for all the blame that can be heaped on the organisation and the facilities, the mentality of the fans themselves is also part of the problem.

Right! Off you go!



Monday, November 19, 2012

Weekend Review, MNF, Snoop Wants Celtic Scarf, Gazza in Italy, MLS, Chelsea Crisis?, Pirlo

Well, that was quite the weekend, huh? Where else to start but the Emirates Stadium? You simply knew Adebayor would score when he was listed on the team sheet for Spurs. What you didn't know, was that he would continue his now alarmingly common penchant for violence in a manner that would push the self destruct button for his team. Arsenal had their usual poor start and Spurs looked ready to dominate the proceedings until Ade struck. His best performance for the Gunners? Depends on your perspective, we suppose... Daniel Taylor was there.  Jonny Boyle looks back at the tactics. We told you Friday to expect goals. Turns out there were seven.

Elsewhere Manchester United lost at Delia Smith's house which allowed Manchester City to go top after their romp against Villa, Chelsea also lost on the road (crisis??!!???!!), and Luis Suarez led Liverpool  to victory. Five things we learned. Ten talking points.

L.A. Galaxy are going back to the MLS Cup Final again. They defeated Seattle on aggregate and will now face Houston Dynamo in a couple of weeks. Where is that match, you ask? At the Home Depot Center -- the Galaxy's stadium. 

And you don't stop. And you don't quit. Cheuh.
OK. Europe. Italy. Inter are angry about their draw with Catania, Fiorentina continued their good form thanks to Liverpool outcast Aquilani, Juve and Lazio drew, and Napoli and AC Milan drew. More tomorrow from Paolo. In Spain, as you might expect, Barcelona and Real Madrid both cruised to wins. The only shocker was that while Real scored five, Ronaldo didn't get any of them. And...Messi scored twice. More tomorrow from Sid and Phil.

Snoop Doggy Dog uh ogg. One, two, three and to the four. The biggest footy fan in the world of rap wants a piece of that icky icky Celtic shit. Read about it.

If you have any desire to see Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce at the same time, you're in luck. Check out Monday Night Football this afternoon. West Ham host Stoke City. 

Let's recall an era when Britain fell in love with Italian football and Italy fell in love with the madcap antics of Paul Gascoigne, shall we?

And then we're left with Andrea Pirlo. The Daily Mail has an exclusive. We now know Pirlo's favorite English player is Wayne Rooney. His top teammate? It has to be Maldini.

That's your Monday! Relax, it's a short week.