Friday, May 11, 2012

England: Premier League Final Previews, Predictions, Insanity

The Premier League season is set for a spectacular culmination on Sunday afternoon with matters still to be decided at the top and bottom of the table. Manchester City will be looking to stay one step ahead of their illustrious neighbours Manchester United and win their first top flight title in 44 years. Arsenal, Tottenham and Newcastle, meanwhile, are intent on snaring third place and a guaranteed spot in next year's Champions League. Plus, at the bottom of the table, Bolton and QPR are striving to avoid the fate already suffered by Wolves and Blackburn - relegation to the Championship.

Manchester City vs. Queens Park Rangers: Preview

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Martin Rogers: Soccer and religion meet on the pitch, where the English Premier League considers a change

English soccer is poised to change one of its oldest traditions following an awkward moment at the end of Manchester City's dramatic victory at Newcastle on Sunday.

Yaya Toure was presented with a ceremonial magnum of champagne for his man-of-the-match performance in the 2-0 triumph that left City just one win away from clinching its first English Premier League title.

Toure, however, refused to accept the bottle and immediately handed it over to teammate Joleon Lescott.

Toure is a devout Muslim who does not drink alcohol.

"I don't drink because I am a Muslim," Toure told Lescott. "So you keep it."

Italy: Nesta to leave AC Milan, ponders move to MLS

Nesta helped Milan to two Serie A titles and two Champions League trophies. The defender also won the World Cup with Italy in 2006.

England: Henry Winter selects his squad for Euro 2012

England: Blackpool advances to Championship playoff final

Blackpool will play West Ham on May 19 at Wembley for a spot in the Premier League after tying 2-2 at Birmingham on Wednesday night in the second leg of their League Championship playoff semifinal to advance on 3-2 aggregate.

The Big Interview: John O'Shea

The 31-year-old faces his old club United for the first time on Sunday and is determined to be on the winning side.

Sunderland will not be an easy ride for Manchester United.

UEFA Europa League: Final Reports

Atlético Madrid 3-0 Athletic Bilbao

Rewind to 1995

Blackburn are facing a bleak future with relegation confirmed, but back in 1995 they were involved in one of the great days of sporting drama on the final day of the Premiership season - which could be repeated this year as Manchester City and Manchester United are separated by goal difference with one game to play.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Uli Hesse in Germany

Even though the team was not involved in the two issues that were finally resolved on the last matchday of this season, common decency demands we open this report with new - and old - league champions Borussia Dortmund. That's because their 4-0 victory over Freiburg completed a campaign the likes of which the Bundesliga has not seen before.

MLS Week 9 Power Rankings: Sounders surging, Timbers failing

Pacific Northwest rivals continue to head in opposite directions. That and more after a spirited Week 9 in MLS.

Houston Dynamo have a new home as MLS puts down its roots

Houston Dynamo will play its first game in the new BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday, signalling the end of a journey that has taken in San Jose, a couple of MLS Cups, and a long term rental. It is a sign too of MLS's journey.

UEFA Europa League: Final Previews

Who: Atlético Madrid vs. Athletic Bilbao
When: 2:45pm EDT
Where: National Arena, Bucharest, Romania
U.S. TV: DirecTV

England: Tuesday's Premier League Reports

Liverpool 4 - 1 Chelsea

Dave Whelan: 'Roberto Martínez would have been brilliant as England manager so why FA overlooked him I do not know'

There is no doubt in my mind that Roberto Martínez is the best manager I’ve worked with. He has done incredible things at Wigan and it’s a good thing nobody at the Football Association has got enough sense to go for the best manager in the Premier League.

John Brewin: This was how it felt to be City

Champions-elect and deservedly so on the balance of the 2011-12 season, Manchester City are footballing proof that "Money Changes Everything", as Wythenshawe Blue Johnny Marr once entitled a Smiths instrumental. Just don't expect everyone to applaud you when big investment finally pays off. City were once admired throughout the country for the loyalty of their fans, and the sharp gallows humour displayed at Maine Road.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Sid Lowe in Spain

Granada's fury at their defeat was inexcusable but the league organisers do not help ease the concerns of suspicious minds.

Granada lose their bottle and respect by pointing finger at referee.

England: Tuesday's Premier League Preview

Liverpool and Chelsea renew their rivalry in the Premier League on Tuesday just three days after contesting the final of the FA Cup.

Euro 2012: Poland's football hooligan fears

Some Wisla fans sang an anti-Semitic song about the supposed Jewish origins of their rivals and when a Cracovia player left the pitch, fans shouted: "To the gas chambers." When the match ended Wisla players went over to their fans to thank them, some of them making obscene chants about Jews. Beforehand, some Cracovia fans made monkey noises at Wisla's Brazilian player, Cleber, when he was sent off.

Juventus revel in redemption after their first Serie A title since 2003

Juventus coach Antonio Conte gestured to his players from the sideline, holding up three fingers of his right hand and two of his left. "It was like a Pope giving a blessing," wrote La Gazzetta dello Sport, describing the moment Conte informed his players that they were all but champions of Italy for the first time in nine years. It signalled that, crucially, Inter had taken a 3-2 lead through Diego Milito's hat-trick in an enthralling Derby della Madonnina against AC Milan. If the scores remained the same, Juve - who were 2-0 up in their match with Cagliari in Trieste - would seal the scudetto with a week to spare. Shortly afterwards, word got round that there had been another goal at San Siro. Juventus fans have cursed Inter's full-back Douglas Maicon in recent years, but not any more. His shot from outside the box, which made it 4-2 to Inter, was not the one famously heard around the world but it did travel from Milan to Trieste in double quick time and the celebrations really got going.

Americans Abroad

Clint Dempsey scores a free kick beauty, Sacha Kljestan wins a title.

The Rest

Henry Winter: Manchester City's players shine away from the pitch too and it's time to ditch the mercenary tag

Manchester City are the club of immense wealth, of controversial individuals such as Carlos Tévez and Mario Balotelli, spicy themes that tend to dominate headlines. City are also the club of a 26-year-old community department, of good citizens such as Vincent Kompany and Micah Richards. When critics talk of the riches spent in edging City towards a first title in 44 years, they should remember the richness of character in Roberto Mancini’s dressing room.

MLS: 5 things we learned in week nine

Los Angeles woes for Galaxy and Chivas; Vancouver upset the San Jose bandwagon; Impact's joy is Sporting's disappointment; Seattle have momentum for busiest month.

Five Things

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Poor performances from the boardroom, the managers and team have seen the club relegated for the fifth time in 15 years.

Black cloud over Köln as the shambolic club goes down in smoke.

Ben Lyttleton: Yaya Toure is City's Driving Force

Maybe Arsene Wenger was right all along. The Arsenal coach had Yaya Toure on trial at Arsenal in 2003 and thought his best position was playing behind a center forward. That was where he scored for the Gunners back then in a friendly match against Barnet; and from a similar position this weekend, he scored two goals that swung the title race decisively Manchester City's way.

The author is incorrect when he says Toure was "snubbed" by Arsenal...

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Dortmund must roll with changes for success in Champions League.

England: Blackburn Rovers Relegated

As a tale of cowboys and Indians reached a suitably bloody climax, there was a starring role for a chicken. That is Blackburn Rovers, a club where the sad and the surreal mix, where relegation came coated in rancour and where the image of an ignominious campaign came when the farmyard met the football field.

Eduardo Alvarez in Spain

El señor Ball and I chose to swap columns - he wrote a remarkably accurate Quiniela on Friday, while here's my weekend summary - in what was probably one of the busiest weeks in Spanish football this year. Even though the league title already had a rightful owner in Real Madrid after their sixteenth away win of the season in San Mamés last Wednesday, there was still plenty to decide in the standings and several off-the-pitch events demanded our undivided attention.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Monday MLS Breakdown

Colorado continues to adapt to a new coach and his positive approach...

Oscar Pareja's side has ditched its pragmatic leanings and embraced a possession-oriented philosophy, plus a look at the key moments in Week 9.


Didier Zokora assaults Emre Belozoglu in a very painful part of his body but only earns a yellow card

Safe also to say that such a horrible attack was not a result of mere over-exuberance. Emre admitted racially abusing Zokora in a match earlier this season. Despite calling Zokora "'A dirty n*****'," Emre said "In the heat of the moment in matches, you say bad things to one another."

England: Clint Dempey's Goal vs. Sunderland

England: Premier League Weekend Review, Reports, Analyses

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson concedes neighbours City have 'probably two' hands on the Premier League trophy as the penultimate weekend of the season ended precisely as it had started with both clubs locked at the top, but with Roberto Mancini's side boasting a significantly superior goal difference. On a day when Manchester City needed a big performance on their travels to Newcastle United it was Yaya Toure who led by example as his exquisitely taken brace was enough to silence an expectant St James' Park, while United beat Swansea by the same 2-0 scoreline in the day's late kick-off. Alan Pardew's UEFA Champions League hopefuls threatened intermittently to do Manchester United a favour but few would deny Mancini's champions elect were full value for a three-point haul that takes them to the cusp of ending a 44-year wait for a league title. Aston Villa are now all but certain of hosting top flight football after holding Tottenham to a draw in the Midlands, while QPR left it late to grab a hugely significant win over Stoke City. Bolton let a two-goal lead slip at home to West Brom to drop two precious points, while Fulham won the day's only mid-table affair in edging past Sunderland. At Molineux a stalemate was played out as Everton could not find a way past already down Wolverhampton Wanderers.


Arsenal 3 - 3 Norwich City
Amy Lawrence at the Emirates Stadium
Ben Findon at the Emirates Stadium

Newcastle 0 - 2 Manchester City
Henry Winter at St. James' Park

Daniel Taylor at St. James' Park

Aston Villa 1 - 1 Tottenham
Kevin Palmer at Villa Park

Stuart James at Villa Park

Fulham 2 - 1 Sunderland
Julian Bennetts at Craven Cottage

Manchester United 2 - 0 Swansea
Kevin McCarra at Old Trafford

Five Things We Learned

Team of the Week

Garth Crook's Team of the Week

England: Chelsea Win FA Cup

Chelsea 2 - 1 Liverpool

Italy: Juventus Win Scudetto

Juventus captain Alessandro Del Piero and vice captain Gianluigi Buffon led the title celebrations after the Bianconeri secured a first Scudetto since 2003 on Sunday.

Paolo Bandini: Unbeaten Juventus scale the barriers to be crowned champions again

The Fifth Official

Few of us like Monday 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.

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, Liam Gallagher hogs the City spotlight, Roy Hodgson is ridiculed by the Sun but revered by the West Brom fans, Javi Martinez puts Ronaldo in his place, Neymar predicts a Santos result and Delio Rossi is sacked for smacking his own player.