Friday, March 16, 2012

The Joy of Six: British and Irish Managers in Europe

From George Raynor's Olympic success with Sweden to El Tel in Barcelona, we pick half-a-dozen bosses who made their mark on the continent.

England: Premier League & FA Cup Weekend Previews & Preditions

Eight teams will be looking to book their trip to Wembley as the last eight of the FA Cup gets underway. First up Sunderland travel to their bogey team Everton, where the Black Cats have won just two league games in 30 years. Elsewhere Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham take on Bolton at White Hart Lane for a place at Wembley. The remaining FA Cup quarter-finals see Chelsea take on the sole remaining Championship side Leicester City, while Liverpool tackle Stoke.

The Premiership
has a diluted schedule this weekend, but leaders Manchester United are in action at Wolves as they look to maintain top spot. Elsewhere Fulham take on Swansea who’s victory over Manchester City last week knocked Roberto Mancini’s men off top spot, while Newcastle United face a trip to Carrow Road to take on Norwich City.


Premier League

Premier League Spotlight
Team News
Paul Merson's Previews

FA Cup
Tottenham vs. Bolton: Preview
Chelsea vs. Leicester City: Preview
Team News

Lawro's FA Cup and Premier League Predictions

Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

Napoli are riding a five-match winning streak in Italy and travel to the Friuli stadium to face Udinese on Sunday. Mazzarri's side are fourth in the standings, level on 46 points with Udinese and just two points behind Lazio, who are third and hold the last Champions League qualifying spot. AC Milan, the only Italian team still in the Champions League, will look to extend their six-match unbeaten run with victory at Parma on Saturday. The Rossoneri are four points clear of second-placed Juventus at the top of the standings. Juventus look to end their four-match winless run when they travel to Tuscany to face Fiorentina on Saturday.


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

Madrid host Malaga on Sunday and will look to build on their six-game winning run at home in all competitions since they were beaten by Barca on January 18. Barcelona go to Sevilla and at the other end of the table, Granada host strugglers Sporting Gijon on Saturday.



Eden Hazard: The player set to spark a summer transfer scramble

Eden Hazard looked mildly amused when he was informed by his interviewer at half-time of Lille's match against Lyon on Saturday that Sir Alex Ferguson was in the stands and had been caught yawning on camera. "I didn't know he was here," the 21-year-old shrugged. "Maybe he's tired."

UEFA Europa League: Thursday's (Round of 16, Second-Leg) Review, Reports, Quarterfinal Draw

Both Manchester clubs headed out of the Europa League on Thursday night in a thrilling night of action. A Klaas Jan Huntelaar hat-trick helped Schalke come back from behind to beat Steve McClaren's FC Twente, with a 4-1 win on the night giving them a 4-2 aggregate win. AZ Alkmaar survived a major scare to book their place in the quarter-finals of the Europa League following an incident-packed 2-1 second leg win against Udinese.


Athletic Bilbao 2 - 1 Manchester United (5-3 agg.)

Stuart James at the Estadio San Mamés
Basque brilliance blitzes Manchester United

Manchester City 3 - 2 Sporting Lisbon (3-3 agg.- Sporting Lisbon advance on away goals rule)
Kevin McCarra at the Etihad Stadium
Mark Ogden at the Etihad Stadium
Richard Jolly at the Etihad Stadium
Jamie Jackson at the Etihad Stadium
Joe Hart: I thought it was in

Friday MLS Forecast

The Forecast discusses the next step for Los Angeles and Seattle after continental heartache and predicts out the Week 2 fixture list will unfold.


UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final Draw

AC Milan have been drawn to face holders Barcelona in the quarter-finals of the Champions League while Chelsea have been paired with Benfica.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

UEFA Europa League: Thursday's (Round of 16, Second-Leg) Previews

Manchester United and Manchester City will both be hoping to overcome first leg losses on Thursday evening to progress in the Europa League. Manchester City have the easier task of the two neighbours when they host Sporting Lisbon at the Etihad Stadium after losing the first leg 1-0 last week. On the other hand, Manchester United will face the uphill task of having to overcome a 3-2 deficit against Athletic Bilbao from the first leg tie at Old Trafford. Dutch sides AZ Alkmaar and FC Twente will be defending their lead away from home against Udinese and Schalke respectively. Alkmaar managed a 2-0 win last week while Twente scrapped past Schalke with a 1-0 victory.


Athletic Bilboa vs. Manchester United (agg. 3-2)

Manchester City vs. Sporting Lisbon (agg. 0-1)

Paolo Bandini in Italy

There was sadness in the Italian press after Napoli's Champions League exit at the hands of Chelsea, but a lot of pride too.

'Napoli kept dream alive right to the last moment, then they woke up' 

Sid Lowe: Is Spanish soccer the best in the world? Recent results indicate yes

Lionel Messi scored five goals in a single game last week, becoming the first player in the Champions League ever to do so. Most were impressed; some were not. Against Bayer Leverkusen, they said: So what? It is a familiar argument -- and one that Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in particular have been forced to confront time and time again. Between them, they have racked up astonishing goal scoring figures, breaking records at every turn -- Messi has scored 50 goals already this season, Ronaldo 40 -- but the nagging doubt lingers. Yeah, they say, but against who?

Toronto FC defeat LA Galaxy to advance to Champions League semifinals

After watching his team surrender a tying goal, thoughts of a second straight wasted lead ran through Ryan Johnson's mind. Except this time, Toronto FC had the clock on its side. Nick Soolsma scored in the 67th minute and also had an assist and Toronto beat the Los Angeles Galaxy 2-1 on Wednesday night to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals.

Chelsea v Napoli: Didier Drogba's cheating exposed by peek-a-boo during Champions League thriller

You'd think Didier Drogba would have learnt by now that the camera misses nothing and so it proved last night when the Ivorian's blatant cheating was exposed by his very own peek-a-boo.

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's (Round of 16/Second-Leg) Review & Reports

Chelsea beat Napoli 5-4 on aggregate to progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League. A thrilling game ended 4-1 on the night in a tie that was only decided in extra-time by a thunderous strike from Branislav Ivanovic. Real Madrid secured their passage to the quarter-finals with a comfortable 4-1 win over CSKA Moscow.


Chelsea 4 - 1 Napoli (agg. 5-4 after extra time)
Henry Winter at Stamford Bridge
Daniel Taylor at Stamford Bridge
Richard Williams at Stamford Bridge

Real Madrid 4 - 1 CSKA Moscow (agg. 5-2)
Sid Lowe at the Bernabéu

Rewind to 1987

Napoli's rise to prominence can be traced back to 1984 when President Corrado Ferlaino paid a record sum to bring Diego Armando Maradona to the Southern Italian club. The Argentine would single-handedly lift the Neapolitans to two Serie A title in three years, the first of which came under the reign of Ottavio Bianchi in 1987.

First XI: Goals That Never Were

After Clint Hill was denied in QPR's defeat to Bolton, this week's First XI pulls out a selection of some of the other goals that never were. Note: several such incidents - including those involving Clive Allen, Pedro Mendes and Freddie Sears - have previously been covered in the First XI bad decisions.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Under-8s game in Poland abandoned after crowd trouble

An under-8s indoor football match in Poland came to a premature end after crowd trouble forced the referee to abandon the game.

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's (Round of 16/Second-Leg) Previews

Chelsea vs. Napoli (agg. 1-3)

Preview II
Daniel Taylor: Chelsea Old Guard's Last Chance

Real Madrid vs. CSKA Moscow (agg. 1-1)

Tim Vickery in South America

A Brazilian journalist this week came up with the thoroughly sensible idea that 7 March henceforth be commemorated as world football's Day of the Goal. It was not only the date on which Lionel Messi chalked up his five for Barcelona in the Champions League; in the South American equivalent, the Copa Libertadores, Neymar of Santos also added a magnificent hat-trick of his own. The first was nothing to write home about - a penalty which was perhaps harshly awarded. But there can be no quibbles about the other two. Both times Neymar picked up possession in his own half, cut through the defence and ran some 70 metres before scoring. The goals showcased his extraordinary control over the ball while running at pace, his capacity to understand space and improvise with its possibilities inside a fraction of a second, and also his eerily cool finishing.

Liverpool Captain Steven Gerrard's Greatest Games

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish admitted he did not have the words to adequately describe the quality of captain Steven Gerrard's performance in the Anfield club's 3-0 victory over Everton. BBC Radio 5 live summariser Pat Nevin had no such difficulty, calling the Reds skipper's three-goal display the best he had seen by any player this season. "I think the best defender on the pitch tonight was Steven Gerrard, the best midfielder was Steven Gerrard, the best attacker was Steven Gerrard, the player with most vision on the ball was Steven Gerrard and the player with the best attitude was Steven Gerrard," enthused Nevin. "Honestly, you really can't beat that. I don't know what you can do in a game of football better than that." It is not the first time Gerrard has used his skill, strength and determination to almost single-handedly drive Liverpool to victory, often saving his very best for the biggest matches. Here, we look back at five of the midfielder's greatest games.

England: Monday's Premier League Reports

Liverpool 3 - 0 Everton
Henry Winter at Anfield
Jamie Jackson at Anfield
Richard Jolly at Anfield
Kevin McCarra at Anfield

If it wasn't for soccer mums, MLS would be bigger than Nascar

Soccer in the US is about much more than carpools and orange slices. I wish more of America would wake up to that fact.

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's (Round of 16/Second-Leg) Review & Reports

There was late drama in Italy as, despite netting a late penalty and winning 2-1, Inter Milan were knocked out of the Champions League on away goals by a 92nd minute effort from Marseille's Brandao. Mario Gomez hit four goals as Bayern Munich swiftly eliminated the threat of a Champions League exit before humiliating FC Basel 7-0.


Bayern Munich 7 - 0 Basel (agg. 7-1)

Inter Milan 2 - 1 Marseille (agg. 2-2 - Marseille advance on away goals rule)
Report II

Uli Hesse in Germany

Isn't it amazing how often Cologne feature prominently in these concise weekly reports, even though they are having neither an awful nor a fantastic season? Or maybe it's not that amazing after all, considering the club have a well-earned reputation for being a constant source of turmoil and upheaval; a headline-generating machine whose inner workings will forever remain mysterious to the outsider. And probably also to the insider.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sid Lowe in Spain

Few have recognised Unai Emery's role in making Valencia the best in Spain's other league. When they're not, perhaps they will.

Valencia: prisoners of their own success

Henry Winter: Imagine the impact David Moyes would make with "Old Trafford Cash"

Imagine, to borrow a phrase from Beatleville, the even warmer glow cast over David Moyes’s decade at Everton if Pierluigi Collina had not disallowed Duncan Ferguson’s headed goal against Villarreal on Aug 24, 2005.

England: Tuesday's Premier League Previews

Who: Liverpool vs. Everton
When: 4pm EDT
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
U.S. TV: ESPNDeportes, ESPN3
Preview II

Kevin McCarra: Liverpool's widening fault lines give Everton their derby opening

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's (Round of 16/Second-Leg) Previews

Bayern Munich vs. Basel (agg. 0-1)
Preview II
FC Basel quintet providing hope for Swiss football

Inter Milan vs. Marseille (agg. 0-1)
Preview II

Major League Soccer: Five Things We Learned in Week One

Sebastian Velasquez outshines David Beckham; Canadian rivalry is good for the MLS; and Colorado Rapid's Quincy Amarikwa's goal of the week.


Paolo Bandini in Italy

Adored perhaps more even than Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi's imperfections make him more identifiable to fans.

Ezequiel Lavezzi heads to Chelsea with his – and Napoli's – confidence soaring.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Pivotal matches for two misfiring powerhouses created drama on and off the pitch – and only a sliver of optimism.

Lumbering heavyweights Köln and Hamburg face fight to stay up.

The Trawler: Diouf: I'm like King Eric

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.

Monday (Tuesday this week - sorry) MLS Breakdown

Although some teams impressed during the first weekend of the 2012 season, many clubs are still trying to sort things out as the campaign gets underway.

Opening weekend sees cautionary steps taken by most sides.

Americans Abroad

Jermaine Jones played 90 minutes for Schalke as it continued its outside challenge for the Bundesliga title, beating Hamburg 3-1 at home. All the goals were scored in the first half, with Teemu Pukki, Christoph Metzelder and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar netting for Schalke before Gojko Kacar pulled back a consolation goal for Hamburg just before the break.

The Rest

Plus a couple more

Lionel Messi shows off goalkeeping skills during Barcelona training session

It seems Barcelona forward Lionel Messi's talents know no bounds. A day after scoring his 50th goal for the Catalan club this season, the 24-year-old showed off his skills between the posts during a training session yesterday.

Carlos Puyol tweets image of "little phenomenon" in goal for Barça.

England: Monday's Premier League Reports & Table

Arsenal 2 - 1 Newcastle
Henry Winter at the Emirates Stadium
David Hytner at the Emirates Stadium
Amy Lawrence at the Emirates Stadium
Kevin Palmer at the Emirates Stadium

1Manchester United2811123915103129124167
2Manchester City28140042673427144966
3Tottenham Hotspur281022301363522211853
6Newcastle United2875221155361926-144
11Swansea City2866219103381224-336
12Norwich City2855421184461827-636
13Stoke City286441814428925-1236
14West Bromwich Albion2842814166352021-335
15Aston Villa2844615173831618-433
16Blackburn Rovers2841920272662033-2025
17Bolton Wanderers28329172840101429-2623
18Queens Park Rangers2825714223291526-1922
19Wolverhampton Wanderers2832917302571328-2822
20Wigan Athletic2816711243381329-2921