Friday, May 04, 2012

Friday MLS Forecast

Warming up the spotlights for the big night...


England: Premier League Weekend Previews & Predictions

After Monday's drama at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester City can close on the Premier League title knowing it is all in their hands.

City lead Manchester United on goal difference with two matches remaining but face a tough trip to high-flying Newcastle, who go into the game fresh from an impressive victory at Chelsea.

United will hope to keep in touch when they host Swansea later on Super Sunday, while the battle to avoid relegation remains incredibly tight.

Before Blackburn's crucial game at Wigan on Monday, Bolton, Aston Villa and QPR are all in action and will be desperate for three points ahead of the final day.


Premier League Spotlight

Newcastle vs. Manchester City: Preview

Team News

Paul Merson's Predictions

Lawro's Predictions

Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

The Scudetto race is still open heading into the penultimate round of Serie A games, with AC Milan going into Sunday's derby trailing league leaders Juventus by a single point. Unbeaten Juventus travel to Trieste to face Cagliari. Fiorentina must put a controversial 48 hours behind them as they go in search of a point at fellow relegation candidates Lecce to ensure Serie A safety.

England: FA Cup Final Previews

Who: Chelsea vs. Liverpool
When: 12:15pm EDT
Where: Wembley Stadium, London
U.S. TV: Fox Soccer Channel

Liverpool Fans Debate: Winning two cups or reaching Champions League?

On the eve of the FA Cup final against Chelsea, two Liverpool-supporting Guardian journalists discuss the respective merits of claiming trophies and reaching the European elite.

Chelsea submit offer to buy Battersea power station in new ground plan

Chelsea have made an offer to buy the site of Battersea power station with a view to building "one of the most iconic football stadiums in the world", but have stressed that no final decision has been taken on moving from Stamford Bridge and that there are a lot of obstacles to overcome before work could begin on a new ground.

Chelsea have been looking to move for a number of years, despite expensive redevelopment of their home since 1905. The site is hemmed in by railway lines, making expansion of the capacity to a figure that would compete with Old Trafford's 76,000 or the Emirates Stadium's 60,000 difficult.

Grant Wahl: Dempsey heads top-15 list of American performances in Europe

Let's come right out and say it: Clint Dempsey is having the best season ever by a U.S. international in Europe. With his late equalizer against Chelsea on Monday, the Fulham sniper now has 16 Premier League goals this season. The only Premier League players who have more goals in all competitions than Dempsey's 22 are Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero.

Naturally, the rumor mill is already in overdrive predicting Dempsey's future: Will he be leaving Fulham for a Champions League team next season? But all that talk is mere conjecture at this point, and if you ask me it takes the proper focus away from what Dempsey has already accomplished in this remarkable 2011-12 season.

To put Dempsey's achievements in historical context, I'm devoting this column to ranking the top 15 European seasons for U.S. internationals.

Bob Bradley finding his footing in Egypt

When football riots broke out in Egypt in February, American Bob Bradley did not hesitate to speak out despite having only just arrived as the new coach of the national team. It didn't matter that he'd been in the country less than six months or was still coming to terms with Egypt's post-revolution politics.

He felt he needed to make his views clear on the events of Feb. 1, when up to 74 people were killed when supporters of two rival clubs clashed. The cause remains murky. Several police officers have been charged with helping supporters of Port Said's Al-Masry club attack rivals from Cairo's Al-Ahly.

"It became apparent this was way more than rival fans who didn't get along,'' said Bradley, whose team was in Dubai for several friendlies ahead of the team's 2014 World Cup qualifiers in June.

"As the coach of national team, you have responsibility,'' he said. "The national team has to be connected to people, represent the people. There is a responsibility when something like this happens. You can't just ignore what took place. You can't have your head in the sand and totally ignore it.''

Bradley's willingness to be heard on the issue has helped make his early months in the Egypt job a success so far.

Rewind to 1997

It had been 27 years since Chelsea last lifted the FA Cup in 1970, but the Blues claimed the famous trophy once more in 1997; although they required a monumental second half effort to come from 2-0 behind to beat Liverpool 4-2 in the Fourth Round. Under the leadership of Ruud Gullit, eventually it would be current manager Roberto Di Matteo who made the difference in the final.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Ronaldinho: All 53 Free Kicks of His Career So Far

Lukas Podolski and Marko Marin: The Germans are coming (at last)

There has been a lack of top German players in the Premier League until now, but will others follow as Lukas Podolski heads to Arsenal and Marko Marin moves to Chelsea?

Fabrice Muamba happy to be back at 'special' Bolton

Fabrice Muamba said he was delighted to be back at Bolton after arriving to watch their crucial meeting with Tottenham at the Reebok Stadium.

Tim Vickery in South America

Gus Poyet was recently remembering the advice he received when he joined Chelsea 15 years ago.

"I had a team-mate at Zaragoza who had spent four or five years in England and he told me all the things that I shouldn't do," he said to the Uruguayan press.

"'Don't dive in the area, trying to get a penalty, don't score a goal with your hand, don't try to cheat the ref, don't try to pressure him to give a yellow card to an opponent'. At that moment I wondered where I was going. I thought I was on my way to another planet! But I adapted."

Football might be a universal language, but we speak it with different accents - one of the reasons that bringing in a player from a different culture always contains elements of a gamble. Not only is he a human being who has to adapt to life in a new country, he may also have to change some aspects of his behaviour on the field - or face the consequences.

All of this has since been discovered by one of Poyet's compatriots. When Luis Suarez joined Liverpool I imagined that his attacking thrust and the range of his talent would make him a firm favourite with the club's fans.

I also suspected that his competitive nature and temperamental streak would mark him out as the type of player whom opposing supporters love to hate. I did not bargain on an international incident.

England: Wednesday's Premier League Reports, Analyses, Table

Chelsea 0 - 2 Newcastle

Bolton 1 - 4 Tottenham

Pos Club                 P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Man City         36 26 5 5 88 27 61 83
2 Man Utd         36 26 5 5 86 33 53 83
3 Arsenal         36 20 6 10 68 44 24 66
4 Tottenham 36 19 8 9 63 40 23 65
5 Newcastle 36 19 8 9 55 46 9 65
6 Chelsea         36 17 10 9 62 41 21 61
7 Everton         36 14 10 12 47 39 8 52
8 Liverpool         36 13 10 13 43 38 5 49
9 Fulham         36 13 10 13 46 48 -2 49
10 West Brom 36 13 7 16 41 47 -6 46
11 Sunderland 36 11 12 13 44 43 1 45
12 Swansea         36 11 11 14 43 49 -6 44
13 Stoke City 36 11 11 14 34 50 -16 44
14 Norwich         36 11 10 15 47 63 -16 43
15 Aston Villa 36 7 16 13 36 50 -14 37
16 Wigan         36 9 10 17 38 60 -22 37
17 QPR         36 9 7 20 40 63 -23 34
18 Bolton         36 10 4 22 42 73 -31 34
19 Blackburn 36 8 7 21 47 75 -28 31
20 Wolves         36 5 9 22 38 79 -41 24

Paolo Bandini in Italy

Juventus are two games away from an unbeaten season, their title hopes were knocked by a late Lecce equaliser – but Delio Rossi's clash with Adem Ljajic takes centre stage.

Fiorentina become fight club to put Buffon's blunder in the shade.

Spain: Real Madrid Win La Liga Title

Real Madrid sealed the Spanish La Liga title in style with a 3-0 win over Athletic Bilbao at the San Mames on Wednesday. Goals from Gonzalo Higuain, Mesut Ozil and Cristiano Ronaldo saw Los Blancos to victory, as the Basque side finished the encounter with ten-men, with Javi Martinez dismissed for a second bookable offence.

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick to break the record for most goals scored in a European season as Barcelona in a convincing 4-1 win over Malaga. Carles Puyol fired Pep Guardiola's side in front at the Nou Camp, only for that lead to be cancelled out by Jose Salomon Rondon. But Messi scored twice from the penalty spot before wrapping up his treble with a low drive to take his tally to 68 goals for the campaign, passing the previous mark of 67 set by Gerd Muller in 1972-73.

Jose Mourinho has now won seven titles in four different countries.

Sid Lowe: José Mourinho's mission accomplished as Real Madrid seal title

Italy: Delio Rossi banned following attack

Fiorentina coach Delio Rossi's physical assault of one of his own players sparked outrage Thursday, and the club announced that club manager Vincenzo Guerini will take over the team for the final two matches of the season.

Rossi was fired for slapping Adem Ljajic in the face after the Serbian forward protested his first-half substitution Wednesday during a 2-2 draw with Novara. The coach then had to be pulled away as it appeared he was lining up a punch.

Meanwhile, the Serie A banned Rossi for three months -- even though he has no club now.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Toshack's Madrid XI

Former Real Madrid manager John Toshack says only four of the current crop at the Bernabeu would get into his championship-winning side of 1990.

Toshack led Los Blancos to the La Liga title 12 years ago and compared his team to Jose Mourinho's table-topping XI, who will break the league's points record if they win all their remaining games this season.

It was Toshack's Madrid side that set the La Liga record and the Welshman told Revista that both eras have quality in abundance.

England: Wednesday's Premier League Previews

Chelsea vs. Newcastle
Preview II

Bolton vs Tottenham
Preview II

Italy: Wednesday's Serie A League Preview + Tuesday Review

There are 17 places between them in Serie A but Juventus coach Antonio Conte has described Wednesday's visit of lowly Lecce as the most important match of the season. Juve, who were stripped of the 2005 and 2006 scudettos because of their involvement in the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal, could claim their first title in nine years should they defeat Lecce and AC Milan lose to Atalanta at the San Siro. Equally intriguing is the battle for the third and final Champions League (qualifying) place for next season after Udinese's 2-0 defeat of Lazio on Sunday night left those two sides along with Napoli and Inter Milan all sharing 55 points. Inter, who host rivals Milan and travel to Lazio in their final two games, face a tricky trip on Wednesday to resurgent Parma, while Udinese visit relegated Cesena and Lazio entertain Siena. On Tuesday, Napoli kept in the Champions League driving seat with a crucial 2-0 victory over Palermo, while Roma drew 0-0 at Chievo in Verona.

The Juventus roster when they last won the title in 2002-2003...