Friday, February 17, 2012

The Joy of Six: Big Derby Wins

Remembering occasions when teams have put the hurt on their biggest rivals, from the north-east to north London, via Glasgow.

England: FA Cup Weekend Preview & Predictions

Arsenal are wary of suffering more misery when they take on Sunderland in the FA Cup, while Crawley Town and Stevenage will be dreaming of giant-killings against Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur. The fifth round also contains outings for Premier League clubs Liverpool, Chelsea, Everton, Norwich City and Bolton Wanderers.


Lawro's Predictions

Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

AC Milan go into Sunday's game at relegation-threatened Cesena with a full head of steam after Wednesday's demolition of Arsenal in the Champions League. In Serie A, Milan are one point clear of Juventus, although the Turin outfit has a game in hand. Juventus are unbeaten but host Catania after two straight draws, including Wednesday's goalless result at Parma. Lazio are third and four points behind Juventus. The Biancoceleste take on Palermo at La Favorita looking to end their rivals' three-match winning streak at home. Napoli, who host Chelsea in the Champions League next week, ended a five-game winless run with a 2-0 triumph over Chievo on Monday. The Naples outfit faces a test in Tuscany on Friday against a Fiorentina side that has won their last two games. Also on Friday, Inter Milan will look to stop the rot when they take on Bologna at the San Siro.


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

Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes believes a good Champions League run could be the catalyst to a La Liga fightback. The Catalans face a tough clash against third-placed Valencia this weekend and come into the game off the back of an impressive Champions League win at Bayer Leverkusen. Defeat could see Barcelona fall 13 points behind Real Madrid, who host relegation-threatened Racing at the Bernabeu.



Sid Lowe: Madrid-Barca dispute over Spanish Cup final venue a divisive saga

Even when it's not about them it's about them. The big issue in Spain over the last week or so has been the final of the Copa del Rey: wherever you look, they're indulged in the same, familiar argument. Seeped in the same hatred and the same suspicion, it follows familiar lines -- the constant search to feel offended, to demonstrate the other side's moral inferiority. A playground argument: You started it, no you did. You're the bad guys, no you are. Everyone everywhere seems to be talking about the rivalry between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona and how that will play out at the Spanish Cup final. So what? So Real Madrid aren't in the final of the Copa del Rey, that's what. Athletic Bilbao are. And so -- and this is the killer -- are FC Barcelona. Two years ago, Athletic and Barcelona met at Mestalla, Valencia. There were 52,500 fans packed into the stadium; over 15,000 more were left outside; others were stuck at home. It was the first final that Athletic had been in since 1985 and its supporters were desperate to go. They tried anything to get hold of tickets. For thousands of them, it was not possible -- but they went to Valencia anyway, traveling in hope, determined to enjoy the atmosphere even if they could not get into the ground.

Daniel Taylor: Champions League Woes Show Premier League In Poor Light

Arsenal's thrashing by Milan leaves English football potentially facing its worst European Cup performance in 16 years.

Premier League shown in poor light by clubs' Champions League malaise.

Richard Williams: Wenger's Entire Philosophy Failed

Theo Walcott's and Aaron Ramsey's poor performances in Milan symbolise the failure of Wenger's entire development philosophy.

Arsène Wenger has allowed Arsenal youngsters too much of a comfort zone.

UEFA Europa League: Thursday's Review

Premier League duo Manchester City and Manchester United recorded impressive away wins as they began their Europa League quest on Thursday night. Atletico Madrid also impressed, seeing off Lazio 3-1 at the Stadio Olimpico. Steve McClaren's FC Twente beat Steaua Bucharest 1-0 at home thanks to Ola John's superb lob and fellow Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar also beat Anderlecht by a solitary goal from Adam Maher.


Uli Hesse in Germany

Much has been made of the Bundesliga's thrilling title race in the last few weeks. Sky Germany has even dubbed the leading teams the Fantastic Four and for obvious reasons likes to point out that we are watching the closest race since 1991-92. (When, after 21 matchdays, fourth-placed Kaiserslautern were only two points behind table-topping Dortmund.) Yet the jockeying for position among the top-flight's alpha males is nothing if you compare it to what's going on in the lower tier - the Second Bundesliga. Because only two points separate Paderborn in fifth place from the team in first, Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Aston Villa manager in Cleveland to learn from Browns' Pat Shurmur

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish is visiting his Cleveland Browns counterpart to pick up coaching tips amid mounting fan protests as the club battles against relegation from the Premier League.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

TTFF claims Jack Warner controlled account holding missing Haiti funds

Funds donated for earthquake-hit Haiti that never made it to the Caribbean island were paid into a bank account controlled by the former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner, the Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) claimed on Thursday. Around £440,000 of emergency aid money has gone missing since it was donated two years ago and Fifa has frozen funding to the TTFF until it explains what has happened.

UEFA Europa League: Thursday Round of 32 Preview

Not too pleased to be here...

Manchester United start their Europa League campaign away to Frank de Boer's Ajax, while Manchester City play Porto at the Estadio do Dragao. 


UEFA Europa League: Dutch police arrest Ajax fans ahead of Manchester United clash

Another 54 supporters of the Belgian club Anderlecht, who were also thought to be seeking confrontation with United supporters, were detained and sent home.

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's Round of 16 First-Leg Reports & Analyses

AC Milan 4 - 0 Arsenal
Henry Winter at the San Siro
Daniel Taylor at the San Siro
Richard Williams at the San Siro
David Hytner at the San Siro
Paul Hayward: Wenger must break up the side to save himself
Italian Press Reaction
Five Things We Learned
Player Ratings

Zenit St. Petersburg 3 - 2 Benfica

Five Things We Learned From the Week

Donovan picked as Everton's top player in January

Landon Donovan has been picked as Everton's player of the month for January for the second time in three years.

Redknapp: For Club or Country?

Norman Hubbard: It may prove the most popular coronation of all time. Players, public and press have united in anointing Harry Redknapp the next England manager. The chances are that the FA will take the less than subtle hints and, as is their habit in coaching choices, go from one opposite to another; from the distant, authoritarian Fabio Capello to the gregarious, wisecracking Redknapp. After the overpaid Italian, many find something reassuringly English about Harry Hotspur.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Marina Hyde: Viva Carlos Tevez – all hail football's ultimate anti-hero

By foregoing millions on a principle probably even he does not understand, the Manchester City striker is laying bare what football has become – a series of cynical transactions.

The Forgotten Story of … 17 November 1993

The final night of the old World Cup qualifying system was a sensory overload of drama that included death, 'murder', illegal aliens – and Jack Charlton almost chinning Tony Cascarino

Wenger's Unrequited Obsession

For all Arsene Wenger's reputation as a continental football master, one of the anomalies of his career is that he's never quite mastered continental football. In fact, he's never won any of its competitions but been bridesmaid in all of them. In 1992, his Monaco team lost the Cup Winners Cup final to Werder Bremen. In 2000, his Arsenal lost the Uefa Cup final to Galatasaray and, most recently in 2006, he saw the Champions League slip away against Barcelona. The strong likelihood this season, of course, is that the wait will go on. Possibly indefinitely.

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's Round of 16 First-Leg Previews

AC Milan vs. Arsenal
Preview II
Daniel Taylor: Arsenal aim to find streetwise edge
Chris Bevan: Seedorf looking to turn the tables
David Hytner: Vermaelen ready for Milan
Amy Lawrence: Ibrahimovic out to prove a point
Nick Bidwell: Milan show respect to Arsenal

Zenit St. Petersburg vs. Benfica

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

FC Bayern Munich has been following Xherdan Shaqiri's progress keenly since September 2010, when the Swiss winger's raw ability was noticed in two Champions League meetings with FC Basel at the age of 18. "If Bayern was to call, I wouldn't have to think too long," Shaqiri said at the time, in response to Swiss media speculation that the Germans were interested to secure his services. Bayern kept tabs on the player and asked Basel keep the lines of communication open. "The name Shaqiri is anything but new to us," Bayern president Uli Hoeneß told Zurich-based Tagesanzeiger last year. In Swiss papers, a bid had been speculated throughout last season and again in the summer, so there was little surprise when an agreement was finally announced last week. Despite this sense of inevitability, it still took a number of coincidental as well as interrelated developments to bring the €11.6 million ($15.1M) deal to fruition.

United fan sells land to block City expansion

A Manchester United fan aims to block rival Manchester City's "goals of football domination" by selling off thousands of parcels of a site earmarked by the world's richest club for a 100-million-pound ($158 million) training complex. Businessman Shaun O'Brien has divided the land at his vehicle recovery company, OB Trucks, near City's Etihad Stadium, into 18,500 square-foot plots for sale in a bid to disrupt a proposed council order to make him sell it.

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Round of 16 First-Leg Reports

Bayer Leverkusen 1 - 3 Barcelona

Lyon 1 - 0 APOEL Nicosia

Spurs sign Uvini from Sao Paulo

Uvini, captain of the Brazilian Under-20 side which won the World Cup in Colombia back in August, is expected to fly into London on Wednesday to sign a loan deal until the end of the season.

Arsenal are predictable, weak and lacking a winning mentality, says Dennis Bergkamp, ahead of Milan clash

Alan Smith: The first time I met Dennis Bergkamp he was heading the other way. Forced to retire with a knee injury in the summer of 1995, I popped into the Arsenal training ground on the first day of pre-season to say my goodbyes.

Scotland: Blue Gloom

As reigning champions Rangers officially enter administration, this week's North of the Border assesses the damage at Ibrox.

Uli Hesse in Germany

Some 11 months ago, there was a debate in the Bundesliga about how proper, not to say ethical, it was for clubs to hire coaches who had just been sacked by a rival. Or, to look at it from another angle, how becoming it was for coaches to sign contracts with clubs soon after having been fired by a competitor. The discussion, if you recall, centred on Felix Magath. On March 16, 2011, he was sent packing by Schalke. On March 18, he signed a contract with his old club Wolfsburg. On April 9, he coached Wolfsburg against Schalke.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sid Lowe in Spain

Can Real Madrid win the title quickly enough to force Barça into a humiliating guard of honour when they meet at Camp Nou?

It's hard to avoid the conclusion that La Liga's title race is over.

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Previews

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Barcelona

Lyon vs. APOEL Nicosia

Barcelona look to bounce back, surprise package APOEL continue their run

African Nations Cup 2012: BBC's team of reporters recall the highlights

Zambia brought proceedings at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations to a close on Sunday, with a dramatic penalty shoot-out climax to an exciting and eventful tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. The BBC's team of reporters followed all the action in the four host cities of Malabo, Bata, Libreville and Franceville throughout the competition. Here, they reflect on the highlights and memorable moments - on and off the field - from this year's Nations Cup.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

The remarkable off-field story of Emiliano Mondonico now has an on-field addition, after Novara did the double over Inter.

Novara fans left wishing they could play Internazionale every week.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Borussia Mönchengladbach's journey from faded institution to credible force again is the Bundesliga's story of the season.

Lucien Favre's love affair with Borussia Mönchengladbach picks up steam.

Ryan Giggs Interview

Just over 12 months ago, Ryan Giggs was considering the end of his career, with injuries and frustration leading him to arrange a meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson in which he disclosed that he was contemplating the end of the road at Manchester United.


Manchester United's Ryan Giggs aims to stay at top table and is hungry for more silverware as milestone looms.

Steve Davis: Ten MLS Preseason Storylines

Major League Soccer teams once scattered across the continents to optimize preseason training. But new facilities and tournaments in Florida and Arizona are providing the goods now. For instance, five teams were training in Arizona last week. Here are 10 things to know about the early goings-on from five sides prepping in the Arizona sunshine.

Americans Abroad

On Dec. 19, 2010, Charlie Davies made his triumphant return to Sochaux's first team, a mere 14 months after the well-documented car accident that nearly took his life and claimed the life of another passenger. On the surface, it appeared to be a dream development, but in reality, the personnel decision was a symbolic gesture made by Sochaux's technical staff to award his progress. Davies knew he wasn't going to get on the field against Bordeaux that day, and so did his coaches. He didn't sniff the club's first team roster again. Until this past Saturday. Wearing Sochaux's No. 12 shirt, Davies made his entry against Stade Rennes on Saturday as a 78th-minute substitute to complete his European comeback and make his first appearance with the French club since Oct. 3, 2009. Returning to the mix at Sochaux was a bit of a surprise development, but one that indicates that he is even further along in his progression than some may have anticipated.

The Rest

Jonathan Wilson: Best and worst moments from the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations

From the disappointment of Senegal, to Kily Alvarez's goal and Ali Bongo's wild celebration.

From Barça to Zenit: How this week's Champions League teams shape up

Leverkusen's Dutt gets to face Barcelona after their loss to Osasuna at the weekend...

Can Apoel cause another shock against Lyon and will Barça recover from a rare domestic defeat to beat Leverkusen?

Tevez says Mancini treated him like a dog

Manchester City officials are ready to forgive Carlos Tevez for his misdemeanours and begin the process of integrating him back into Roberto Mancini's squad when he returns from Argentina on Tuesday . Tevez, for his part, said: "I know what it takes to revert the situation," while admitting issues remain with his manager. Indeed Tevez went as far as to say Mancini treated him "like a dog" over the incident at Bayern Munich in September.

The Trawler: Pompey fans get shirty

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.

Phil Ball in Spain

y...hasta luego, Marcelino...
During a podcast I did for the US a few months ago, I was asked who my three favourite managers were in La Liga, aside from the famous few. I replied with Marcelino, Manolo Preciado and Gregorio Manzano. The perceptive ones among you will realise that they have all been subsequently sacked - a fact that was pointed out to me by the interviewer, a few days ago in an e-mail entitled 'The kiss of death'.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Spain: La Liga Weekend Reviews



Italy: Serie A Weekend Reviews



Mick McCarthy sacked as Wolves manager after West Brom defeat

Wolves have sacked boss Mick McCarthy following Sunday's 5-1 home thrashing by Black Country rivals West Brom. McCarthy has been in charge at Molineux since July 2006 but his side have won only one of their last 13 matches.

Manchester United vs. Liverpool: Fallout

Luis Suárez's future at Liverpool has been placed in doubt after the contrition the club has been accused of lacking throughout his dispute with Patrice Evra emerged in an unprecedented series of statements from Anfield on Sunday. Suárez, branded "a disgrace" by Sir Alex Ferguson for refusing to shake Evra's hand at Old Trafford on Saturday, first issued a public apology for his actions on the club's website. Ian Ayre, the Liverpool managing director, then released a statement that accused the 25-year-old of misleading the club before Kenny Dalglish, himself widely condemned for an interview that followed the 2-1 defeat to Manchester United, apologised for conduct not "befitting of a Liverpool manager" during his appearance on Sky.

It took Liverpool 24 hours after their defeat to Manchester United to apologise for Luis Suárez's refusal to shake hands with Patrice Evra. But was a story in the New York Times calling for the owners to take action the key reason behind the club's attempt to draw a line under the conflict? Here is the story in full.

Richard Williams: Poison lingers after apologies
Jonathan Liew: Suárez has unique ability to unite world in loathing
Andy Hunter: Suárez must show Liverpool he is worth the trouble

No action by FA

England: Weekend Premier League Review, Reports, Teams of the Week, etc.

Manchester City, Manchester United, Spurs, and Arsenal win, Blues and Magpies stumble


Manchester United 2 -1 Liverpool
Mark Ogdon at Old Trafford
Paul Wilson at Old Trafford
Andy Hunter at Old Trafford
David Pleat: United Old Guard too slick

Everton 2 - 0 Chelsea
Joe Lovejoy at Goodison Park

Sunderland 1 - 2 Arsenal
Louise Taylor at the Stadium of Light
Luke Edwards at the Stadium of Light

Tottenham 5 - 0 Newcastle
Gerry Cox at White Hart Lane
Kevin Palmer at White Hart Lane

Best of the Weekend

Team of the Week

Garth Crooks's Team of the Week

Five Things We Learned

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.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

African Nations Cup: Zambia Win

Zambia clinched their first African Nations Cup crown with a poignant penalty shoot-out win over Ivory Coast. Nineteen years after a plane crash which killed 18 members of their squad in Libreville, the Chipolopolo returned to the Gabon capital to record the most famous victory in the country's history. A dramatic shoot-out at the end of 120 minutes of largely underwhelming football went the way of Zambia when Gervinho shot wide and Stophira Sunzu stepped up to slot home. The final proved a tale of penalty woe for Ivory Coast, chasing their first continental crown for 20 years, with Didier Drogba also failing from the spot during the 90 minutes.


Drogba ghosts return as Zambia wins shootout

Jonathan Wilson: Zambia stun Ivory Coast to gain redemption

Dominic Raynor: Off the Ball

Off the Ball never rests in its mission to scratch around the underbelly of professional football to find the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories. This week, Corinthians put striker Adriano under 'house arrest' to make him lose weight, a 12-year-old girl wakes from a coma after listening to Alessandro Del Piero, St Etienne's goalkeeper Jeremie Janot reveals he likes to pee inside a wet suit to keep warm and Neymar gets 'caked'.