Thursday, December 20, 2012

Champions League Draw and a Bit More

Right to the main story of the day. Here are the match-ups:

Galatasaray v FC Schalke
Celtic v Juventus
Arsenal v Bayern Munich
Shakhtar Donetsk v Borussia Dortmund
AC Milan v Barcelona
Real Madrid v Manchester United
Valencia v Paris St Germain
FC Porto v Malaga

Gabriele Marcotti breaks it down like this. You've got to say that Ronaldo's return to Old Trafford is the biggest story here. And if United oust Real, will The Special One get the sack? It all sets up nicely for some fun action beginning February. Michael Cox looks at the tactical side of things.

In the What's in Your Wallet Cup yesterday, Leeds got the first but Chelsea got the next five to advance to the semis. We thought the chance for the upset was there with all the traveling Chelsea's had to do. Credit to them, though, they worked through it.

Germany in 2012. What happened? According to the expert Raphael Honigstein, it was the year of broken dreams. Ahhhh. Regardless, we DO know that this hilarity ensued in Germany in 2012:

The rumors keep coming. The Mill has some and here's your Plus One.

Things are happening in Major League Soccer. Nobody is playing, but things are happening. At least that's what Jeff Carlisle says. Apparently New York and Kansas City are on the move. Take a look.

That's your lot!



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gooch Goal, Fiver Christmas Awards, Zenit, Leeds and Chelsea, Parkhurst to Augsburg, Sturridge to Liverpool,

We had an interview link with American Abroad Michael Parkhurst yesterday. In said interview, he claimed he was ready to leave Denmark with the Bundesliga his most likely destination. Today news is he's signed for Augsburg. So, there you go. Another Yank in Germany.

We've got a Yank in Spain, too, and his name in Onyewu. He scored a goal in injury time to assure his Malaga side stay in the Copa del Rey. Way to go Gooch.

Leeds and Chelsea. Chelsea and Leeds. Certainly two of the rougher sides of the 60s and 70s. Well, they are set to resume their rivalry in the Capital One Cup this afternoon. Chelsea have just returned from their loss in Japan so it'll be interesting how they perform in this one. Another loss could really dampen spirits around the club. Here's a preview. And another look back at the two most likeable (cough) sides in English football.

Uli Hesse is in Germany. But, if you've been around SSN for any amount of time, you already knew that. The Bundesliga is hibernating for the winter. Relevant or redundant?

To The Mill! It's December 19, don't you know? Only a few more days until the transfer window opens wide with all its goodies. Apparently Daniel Sturridge to Liverpool is already a done deal. Here's your Plus One.

We heard about Zenit's fans wanting to keep players of color and non-heterosexuals out of the team. Thankfully, the club has responded properly. Jonathan Wilson is an expert in Eastern Europe. He's got a good column that looks at some of the nuances and culture at play.

Arsenal signs five British players to long term contracts and suddenly that's the strategy. Keep "local" players who will be more loyal to the club. Interesting. Jim White does not think it will work.

The Fiver. Everyone's favorite hilarious look at the footballing world. They've got their annual Christmas awards all lined up. Here's one to entice you:

Chelsea in Big Cup. And yes, of course they're entitled to their bus but it doesn't mean the rest of us have to blow smoke up their nether regions for doing so. Besides, their fans had the last laugh – they've won Big Cup and look how happy they are now.

Let's complete the day's work with a look at Americans Abroad. Jozy just keeps scoring.



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ronaldo Not Fat, Podcast, Napoli Docked, Scribes, MNF, Tactical Trends

Wow. Loads today. Let's bust out with the Podcast. Here's your breakdown: AC Jimbo welcomes Owen Gibson, Barry Glendenning and a festive Sean Ingle to the pod to discuss Aston Villa's destruction of Liverpool and QPR's first win this season. Elsewhere in the programme ... Chelsea come home beaten from Japan - will they be disorientated come Wednesday against Leeds? Has Marouane Fellaini played his last game for Everton? And was West Brom v West Ham the worst game this year? Owen Gibson has just come back from Qatar and has some interesting thoughts on how the 2022 tournament will play out. But can it possibly be played in the summer, as the Premier League would like? Plus we have time to cover your notes and queries, Sid Lowe ponders the plight of Real Madrid and there's more Serie A with James and Barry. Please leave your own thoughts on any of the above, below.

From James Richardson let's hop to Jonathan Wilson and his look at the tactics that dominated 2012. Possession football, strikers' struggles and Barcelona's passing and pressing were all in the mix.

There was actual football played yesterday. Arsène Wenger let Theo Walcott play up top and it proved a wise decision as Reading were defeated 2-5. Arsène knows, or so they say. Santi Cazorla had a hat-trick. Both defenses were terrible. Phil McNulty was there.

A quick shot of props to Ronaldo who has lost over 35 pounds during a variety show fitness program in Brazil. Here are the before and afters...

Meanwhile, over in Italy, Napoli have been docked two points and defenders Paolo Cannavaro and Gianluca Grava banned for six-months in the latest match-fixing action in Serie A. Napoli now fall to fifth in the table. Read about it here. Sticking in Italy, let's check out Paolo Bandini's latest submission. Paolo didn't know the Napoli news when he wrote, and ironically he wrote about how Bologna won at Napoli this weekend with a winner from a defender returning from a ban for failing to report an attempt to rig a result. It's the same offense that got Cannavaro and Grava banned. Wow.

Spain: Phil Ball is thinking about Mallorca. Sid Lowe says the title race is indeed over. Speaking of title races being over, Raphael Honigstein wonders if Bayern Munich might have a lock on the Bundesliga already. 

This is pretty funny. Apparently Chelsea's World Club Cup defensive tactics sheet was found in a dressing room trash can by some Brazilian reporter. 

Time for The Mill. Your rumors for Tuesday. Word is Newcastle are about to get that French bloke Loic Rémy. And your Plus One.

Graham Parker poses this question: Was Rafael Márquez the worst ever MLS designated player? Nery Castillo, anyone?

Michael Parkhurst. American Abroad. Denmark, specifically. Nordsjaelland, more specifically. You saw him play (and play well) in the Champions League. His contract is about to expire and he wants to move on up. Here's an interview.

And there you are.



Monday, December 17, 2012

And We're Back!

Right. Let's jump in with the Club World Cup. You all thought Chelsea would cruise to the title, right? No so fast. Corinthians had different ideas and edged the Blues 1-0. Tim Vickery claims it's a watershed moment for South American clubs. Too bad for Chelsea, though. All the way to Japan just come up empty. At least they got to experience Beatlemania.

Back in their domestic league, the biggest surprise had to be Aston Villa's romp over Liverpool at Anfield. 3-1 in favor of the visitors with only a late consolation goal for Liverpool. Rodgers' reign is not going so well. Elsewhere, Fellaini headbutted Shawcross (ref didn't see it = he'll be banned) as Everton and Stoke drew, Spurs beat Swansea, United cruised, City should thank Cisse for his miss as they won at Newcastle, and West Ham and West Brom failed to score. How about Ten Talking Points? And Berlin has Five Thoughts.

And how about a Clint Dempsey interview? Everybody loves Clint, right? Right? Hmmmm.

Over in Europe Barcelona ensured that their clash with Atletico Madrid was disappointing by cruising to a 4-1 win. Falcao got one, but Messi got two. If you thought the La Liga title was still up in the air you can think again. Real Madrid could only draw at home with Espanyol. Barca are now nine clear of Atletico and THIRTEEN!! clear of Real. Done and dusted. More from Phil and Sid mañana.

In Italy Lazio beat Inter, Napoli lost, and Juventus won. Juve are now seven clear at the top with a host of clubs cluttered beneath them. Here's the table.

The Mill. We're almost January. Here's your Plus One.

Monday Night Football is Reading vs. Arsenal. 3pm EST on ESPN2. Here's a preview.

Sorry, but we've got to finish on a low note today. File under utterly disgusting: Zenit St. Petersburg's largest supporters group issued a manifesto demanding the team field an all-white, heterosexual team. Fuck you.

We out.