Friday, February 10, 2012

Papiss Cisse Interview

Not you, dumbass...
As the latest owner of the iconic Newcastle No. 9 shirt announced his arrival on Tyneside with a stunning winning goal against Aston Villa last Sunday, a new Geordie hero was born in an instant. Papiss Cisse could not have dared to dream that his first game following a £9 million move from Freiburg would end with a strike that is likely to be listed as a contender for Premier League goal of the season, with his sparkling start to life at Newcastle apparently whetting his appetite for more.

England: Premier League Previews & Predictions

Manchester United host Liverpool; Manchester City go to Villa; Spurs face Newcastle; Arsenal travel to Sunderland; Everton host Chelsea; Fulham welcome Stoke


Manchester United vs. Liverpool
Preview II
Key Battles

Team News

Lawro's Previews
Paul Merson's Previews

Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin expects a strong AC Milan despite the Rossoneri having to do without the team's leading scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic when the two sides meet on Saturday. League leaders Juventus visit Bologna on Sunday holding a one-point advantage over Milan but with a game in hand. Last weekend's 4-0 defeat to Roma was Inter Milan's second loss in three games. The Nerazzurri host bottom side Novara on Sunday knowing that anything but a win could see them fall further down in the standings. Inter are fifth and one point clear of Roma, who visit Siena on Monday.


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

Levante midfielder Vicente Iborra believes his side are capable of upsetting La Liga leaders Real Madrid for a second time this season when the teams meet at the Bernabeu. Madrid head into this weekend boasting a seven-point cushion at the summit - although Barcelona could reduce that when they visit Osasuna on Saturday - but Iborra reckons fourth-placed Levante should not be written off.


2012 Africa Cup of Nations Final Preview: Ivory Coast vs. Zambia

The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations is down to its last two teams. The Ivory Coast and Zambia have survived the winter tournament and will meet on Sunday at 2 p.m. EST in Libreville, Gabon, to determine the champion.

Danny Welbeck on debut goal: 'If that feeling was a drug I'd be dead'

This will be the modest young striker's first Manchester United-Liverpool game at Old Trafford – and he cannot wait.

USA vs. Brazil: Landover, Maryland, on May 30

The United States' exhibition soccer game against Brazil will be played May 30 at Landover, Md. The game was announced Jan. 12 as part of Brazil's three-game U.S. trip, with the site and date set Thursday by the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Grant Wahl: In aftermath of tragedy, Bradley stands in unison with Egyptians

It was nearly 1 a.m. Cairo time last Friday when Bob Bradley called. If you're the Egyptian national soccer coach, as Bradley has been since last September, lack of sleep is understandable these days. On Feb. 1, more than 70 people died in violent clashes after an Egyptian league game between Al-Masry and Al-Ahly in Port Said. Bradley was not at the game, having decided to attend a different one in Cairo instead. Like all Egyptians, he was profoundly shaken afterward. "No one comes close to anticipating something like this," the former U.S. coach told me. "The focus has to be on the respect for these families and the overall sadness about a senseless tragedy." Most foreign national-team coaches in Africa would have taken the first flight out of Cairo last week. But Bradley was different.

Steve Wilson: Villans and Heroes

It's turning into a difficult season for Aston Villa's players, management, chairman and supporters. The Villans have taken just 28 points from 24 games this season and sit 13th in the Premier League table. They have not won at home since early November and attendances at Villa Park are down around 10 per cent on last season.

Norman Hubbard: There's No 'I' in Team

Check the details on a lengthy CV and Sir Alex Ferguson has won 37 trophies in his time at Manchester United. Yet his reign has resulted in far more silverware ending up at Old Trafford. Over the past quarter of a century, United have had the PFA Player of the Year 11 times and the recipient of the football writers' award on a further six occasions. This season may be very different. United's indefatigability could earn Ferguson a 13th league title, if not the title of manager of the year, which ought to be contested by admirable overachievers Alan Pardew, Paul Lambert and Brendan Rodgers. When the recognition of playing excellence comes, it is still more unlikely there will be celebrations at Old Trafford.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Louise Taylor: Parker or Gerrard, and other questions facing England's new manager

Whoever the FA appoint to succeed Fabio Capello will have an in-tray full of issues to settle ahead of Euro 2012.

Sam Kelly in Argentina

In Buenos Aires, the humidity is stultifying and Tuesday night brought an immense thunderstorm that will at least break it and make the city bearable to live in for a couple of days before temperatures start climbing again. The timing was fantastic, because that storm came on a perfect night to stay indoors in front of the television; a midweek evening of football starting at 6:30 and carrying on until after midnight. Yes, folks, the Copa Libertadores is back.

The Mavericks: Frank Worthington: All Shook Up

Described by his former manager Ian Greaves as "the working man's George Best", Frank Worthington made no secret of his taste for birds, booze and the beautiful game. He was a self-confessed "individualist", though that much was apparent from his appearance, his sideburns and dress sense drawing clear influences from his Elvis Presley obsession. He once told the Daily Mail that "the way I played is more important than the team winning", and would speak out when frustrated by the lack of ability among his team-mates. "Some players' second touch is a sliding tackle," he once said. "Other players control the ball further than I can kick it."

Spain: Barcelona beats Valencia to advance to Copa final

Cesc Fabregas scored one goal and set up another as Barcelona beat Valencia 2-0 on Wednesday to advance to the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao. Lionel Messi lobbed a long pass that Fabregas chased down and deftly chipped over goalkeeper Diego Alves for Barcelona’s 15th-minute opener. And after Sofiane Feghouli left Valencia with 10 men late on after receiving his second booking, Fabregas set up Xavi Hernandez to send Barcelona through 3-1 on aggregate.

Sid Lowe: Athletic Bilbao bids farewell to the historical San Mamés Stadium

San Mamés bode farewell to the Copa as only San Mamés could. This is their competition and this was their way. Athletic Bilbao qualified for their 37th final with a 6-2 win over Mirandés that one newspaper aptly described as "a homage to the Cup."

African Cup of Nations: Semifinal Reports

Zambia 1 - 0 Ghana
Jonathan Wilson: Zambia book date with destiny
Ghana players rally to support Gyan

Mali 0 - 1 Ivory Coast

England: Capello Resigns

Fabio Capello has resigned as England manager, the Football Association has confirmed. Capello quit after a meeting with FA chairman David Bernstein and general secretary Alex Horne at Wembley.An FA statement read: "The Football Association can confirm that Fabio Capello has today resigned as England manager."
Henry Winter: Redknapp the only choice
Kevin McCarra: A bullying autocrat
John Brewin: No backward glances
Dominic Fifield: Terry the problem that never went away
Tom Fordyce: No love lost

Capello exit makes waves in Italy

More World Media

Highs and Lows of Capello's Reign

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

African Cup of Nations: A life less ordinary

Almost anywhere in the world you can get a t-shirt with a variation of the expression, "Football is life, everything else is only detail," emblazoned on it. In most places the actual meaning of that slogan is nothing. It's cute, it's catchy, it speaks to the dedication, commitment, passion and even obsession of lovers of the game but it still does not amount to anything but words.

Tim Vickery on South America

This year's major international tournament, the European Championship, was first disputed in 1960 - which makes it a mere youngster in comparison with the South American version, the Copa America, held as far back as 1916. But in terms of club competitions, rather than national teams, the seniority is reversed. The competition now known as the Champions League, originally the European Cup, first kicked off in 1955. The South American equivalent, the Copa Libertadores, only came to life five years later - and was a conscious attempt to emulate the European competition, so that the champions of football's two traditional continents could fight it out for the world title.

Uli Hesse in Germany

So far, almost all of these weekly reports from the Bundesliga have dealt with teams in the title race or a relegation fight. Which is only natural, as mid-table mediocrity rarely makes for heated debates. Sometimes, however, being average can be interesting.

Graeme Le Saux calls for more support for gay footballers

Former England defender Graeme Le Saux says more needs to be done to support gay footballers. Le Saux suffered years of baseless claims about his alleged homosexuality. Le Saux began his career at Jersey club St Paul's, going on to play 513 games for Chelsea, Blackburn Rovers and Southampton. But his desire not to live the archetypal footballer's life led to unfounded accusations that he was gay.

West Ham signing Ravel Morrison in homophobic Twitter threat

The former Manchester United midfielder Ravel Morrison has caused controversy after posting a homophobic threat on Twitter. After being provoked on the networking site, West Ham United's January signing tweeted: "Crack head ? Go suck out u little faggot your a guy that talks if u see me you try slap me I'm in manchester every week." The tweet was later deleted.

Landon Donovan enjoying second loan spell at Everton

Mullitude?  I'd say only 3.4

Everton's on-loan midfielder Landon Donovan says he has found it easy to settle into life on Merseyside during his second spell at Goodison Park. Donovan, 29, joined the Blues for two months from Los Angeles Galaxy following a similar deal two years ago. He has made eight starts during this stint and can play two more games before returning to the United States.

Harry Redknapp cleared of tax evasion

Harry Redknapp said his "nightmare" was over after being cleared of tax evasion. The Tottenham boss had denied accepting secret untaxed bonus payments from former Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric, while he was club manager. Mr Mandaric was also cleared of two charges of cheating the public revenue over the £189,000 payments. Mr Redknapp, who was close to tears, said the case "should never have come to court".

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Sid Lowe in Spain

Atlético, Málaga, Athletic and Espanyol are taking up position behind Levante in the battle for the fourth and final place.

The slow bicycle race for La Liga's final Champions League spot.

Americans Abroad: Sacha Kljestan knuckles home a free kick in Anderlecht win

Sacha Kljestan played 90 minutes for Anderlecht as it beat Racing Genk 4-2 at home to remain seven points clear at the top of the Belgian Jupiler League table. Christian Benteke opened the scoring for Genk in the eighth minute, before Matias Suarez equalized one minute later. In the 37th minute, Sacha Kljestan stepped up to knuckle home a free kick from 30 meters out after a teammate ran over the ball to dummy. Dieumerci Mbokani doubled the Anderlecht lead in the 61st minute, but substitute Elyaniv Barda put the visitors right back into contention just three minutes later, making it 3-2. A nervy 15 minutes followed before Mbokani completed his brace in the 80th minute, assuring the victory for Anderlecht.

The Rest

Dempsey's Diary: Things change with a family

It was difficult at the beginning when I first moved to England because my wife was still finishing her master’s degree at Appalachian State, so we weren’t able to be together and had to have a long-distance relationship. But we were able to figure out a way to make it work.

Argentinian football league renamed in honour of the General Belgrano

As tension rises over the 30th anniversary of the war between Britain and Argentina over the Falkland Islands, the Argentinian government has named the upcoming football season in honour a naval ship sunk by British torpedoes in the conflict.

Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey may be better together than apart

Conventional thought suggests Donovan and Dempsey don't play well together for the USA. The stats show otherwise.

Africa Cup of Nations 2012: Mali's heroes weep for a nation at war

Seydou Keita's tears after the quarter-final win should have been joyous but, with fighting at home, they preceded a plea for peace.

England: Monday's Premier League Reports and Cat on the Pitch Video

Liverpool 0 - 0 Tottenham
Daniel Taylor at Anfield
Henry Winter at Anfield
Kevin McCarra at Anfield
Richard Jolly at Anfield

Maradona proving controversial figure as coach of UAE's Al Wasl

The Austrian coach of UAE club Al Wahda Josef Hickersberger said in January that if he had been in the same position as his opposite number at Al Wasl then he would have been fired before admitting with a smile ... "I am not Diego Maradona." Maradona is different, just as he always was. As a player, he could do things that nobody else could and on the other side of the white line in the desert of the United Arab Emirates, he is doing things that most other coaches could not get away with. Just over three months since his first season kicked off, he has already: publicly criticized the board, been publicly criticized by a senior player, made eyes at other jobs, been fined by the league for remarks about another coach, kicked a supporter, had kidney stones removed and if that wasn't painful enough, he has taken an ambitious club on a mediocre run of results. Despite all that, he has not only survived in perhaps the most trigger-happy league in the world, he is now being linked with the national team job.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

The wheels emphatically come off for Inter, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic's dislike of February shows no sign of abating.

Serie A talking points.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Even the pessimists underestimated the malaise when Michael Skibbe took over. And things have gone from bad to worse.

Hertha continue to hurtle towards drop.

Phil Ball in Spain

The first thing you notice, as you approach the Camp Nou, is its rather slumped posture and the threatening wire fences that mark its enormous perimeter, as if visitors are both annoying and inevitable, until they've paid at the ticket offices on the outside, of course. The Bernabeu, on the other hand, has walls that you can touch anytime (should you be so inclined), and sports a pompous façade that pumps out its concrete chest onto the Castellana and announces its preening self-confidence from the outside. The Camp Nou in contrast, is rather more impressive once you're on the inside.

Monday, February 06, 2012

England: Monday Night Football Previews

Who: Liverpool vs. Tottenham
When: 3pm EST
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
Preview I
Preview II
Preview III

The Trawler: Irons show fire, Leeds hunt new boss

Welcome to The Trawler, your weekly submersion through the teeming waters of life in the Championship, League One and League Two. You might be surprised what you find down there.

Dominic Fifield: Fabio Capello risks undermining England's preparations for Euro 2012

The Italian's public disapproval of the FA's decision to strip John Terry of the captaincy could make or break the end of his tenure.

African Cup of Nations: Goalkeeper blunder gifts Ghana place in semis

Mali players rejoice
Ghana and Mali scraped through to the African Cup of Nations semifinals on Sunday, as Tunisia and Gabon fell in agonizing fashion. Ghana beat Tunisia 2-1 in extra time after goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi's blunder gifted the Black Stars a 101st-minute winner in a tense, bad tempered quarterfinal at Stade de Franceville that the Tunisians had controlled before Mathlouthi's decisive error. Mali beat co-host Gabon 5-4 in a penalty shootout in the quarterfinal in Libreville after they were level at 1-1 at the end of 120 minutes. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gabon's hero of the group stage, missed the decisive spot kick and dissolved into tears in the middle of a huddle of players as the home team's tournament ended in bitter disappointment. Ghana faces Zambia and Mali plays Ivory Coast in Wednesday's semifinals, leaving top-ranked African teams and tournament favorites Ghana and Ivory Coast still on course to meet in the Feb. 12 final.

Tim Howard's Mistake

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

Classic at the Bridge; City move clear; Stoke and QPR see red

Manchester City 3 - 0 Fulham
Kevin McCarra at Etihad Stadium
Richard Jolly at Etihad Stadium

Chelsea 3 - 3 Manchester United
Phil McNulty at Stamford Bridge
Daniel Taylor at Stamford Bridge
Henry Winter at Stamford Bridge
Richard Williams at Stamford Bridge
John Brewin at Stamford Bridge
Jeremy Wilson: Five Things We Learned
Dominic Fifield: Five Talking Points
Alex Dunn's Take

Arsenal 7 - 1 Blackburn
Amy Lawrence at the Emirates Stadium
Duncan White at the Emirates Stadium
Stuart James at the Emirates Stadium

Newcastle 2 - 1 Aston Villa
Louise Taylor at St. James' Park

Five Things We Learned

Team of the Week
Garth Crook's Team of the Week

European Weekend Review

Roma 4 - 0 Inter Milan
Real Madrid claimed a sixth Primera Liga win on the bounce to keep Barcelona at bay at the top, while the Serie A top five all dropped points. Borussia Dortmund pulled two points clear at the Bundesliga helm, while in Ligue 1 title rivals Paris St Germain and Montpellier continued to trade blows. PSV dropped points in the Eredivisie title race, while Rangers suffered a shock exit in the Scottish Cup.


The Fifth Official

Few of us like a Monday morning, 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 a week brimming with potential victims.