Friday, February 22, 2013

Europa League Drama, Weekend Previews, Milan Derby, Di Canio's Midnight Raid,

A Good Friday To You!

Well, that other European competition served up some nice action yesterday. Tottenham, Newcastle, and Chelsea barely advanced. Liverpool barely did not. Holders Atlético Madrid crashed out after their win at Rubin Kazan wasn't enough. Inter Milan made the final 16 where they will face Spurs in a glamor tie of sorts. And those guys at Viktoria Plzen beat Napoli again! Here's a wrap of all the matches.

The What's in Your Wallet Cup Final is on Sunday. It's Bradford City vs. Swansea City at Wembley. Sky Sports was kind enough to provide us with this "exhaustive" preview ahead of the clash. We're confident that none of our SSN regulars hold either club terribly close to their heart, but it could be a very entertaining contest. It's available on beIN Sport USA at 11am EST.

Sticking with the League Cup, The Joy of Six is League Cup Goals, including this cracker from Savo Milosevic (remember him?).

We've got another big match at the San Siro this weekend. Right on the heels of their victory over Barcelona, Milan must face Inter in the on Sunday in the Derby della Madonnina. If you've got RAI or beIN Sport en Español you can check it at 2:45pm EST. If you don't, look for stream. You've got to think it's a great chance for Inter to claim the spoils after Milan's massive win on Wednesday. Here are FIVE BOLD PREDICTIONS and here is a preview of all the Serie A fixtures.

Barcelona will attempt to pick themselves up and brush themselves off at home against Sevilla. Here's a look at the weekend stuff in Spain. And, as always, Eduardo Alvarez has his Quiniela. Gracias, Eduardo.

So that brings us back to England. Manchester City vs. Chelsea is the big match of the weekend. Monday has a nice London Derby with Tottenham heading down to West Ham, but that's Monday. Here's a preview. Here are 10 Things to Look Out For. Here are Lawro's Predictions. Here are Paul Merson's Predictions. is the current table!

Raphael Honigstein is in Germany where everyone is talking about an American named Jermaine Jones. Hit it, Rafa.

There have been a lot of chumps in English football that we've hated over the years. David Bentley comes to mind. Alan Smith. Lee Bowyer. Stan Collymore. Craig Bellamy. David Dunn. John Terry. Stuart Pearce. Robbie Fowler. Wayne Rooney. Dennis Wise. Ashley Cole. Robbie Savage. The list goes on. Certainly Stephen Ireland deserves to be on that list. Here's further proof.

We'll finish with that crazy Italian, Paolo Di Canio. Here's the latest on his midnight raid of his old office.

Enjoy your weekend!



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Barcelona Lose An Important Match, American Abroad Jones Scores For Schalke, Tottenham Fans Attacked, Gold Cup Venues

Holy Shit! Milan defeated Barcelona at San Siro yesterday. The first goal benefitted heavily from a handball that wasn't called and was followed be an excellent finish. The second came after a lovely round of keep-y-uppy that culminated in a lovely strike from former Portsmouth star Sulley Muntari. We also think the bizarre sanitary napkin that Barca's medical staff decided to use on Carlos Puyol's forehead wound had something to do with his poor defending for both goals. All of that aside, Milan had the better of the match. For some reason, Barcelona didn't press like usual when Milan had possession. The Italian side had unexpected time on the ball and took advantage. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the game was the play of the best player in the world. For the first time in a long time, he went missing. Completely missing. It was like he wasn't even on the pitch. Most odd.

There's a napkin on my head, damnit!
It was a fun match to watch, with the exception of those God-awful Barcelona kits. The popsicles we used to get in the summer at 7-11 looked similar. As you might expect, the Spanish press is all over it.

As we hoped, Sid Lowe was up in Milan and filed this report. Oliver Brown was there as well. You want a tactical review? Hit it.

In the night's other match, Shalke and Galatasary drew in Istanbul. Apparently, Schalke plan to contest the result because they don't think Drogba should have been allowed to play. Sour grapes aside, the Germans return to Gelsenkirchen with a priceless away goal thanks to...wait for it...Yank Abroad Jermaine Jones! And we're a but late here, but get your complete Americans Abroad on, if you wish.

Now that the Champions League is done for the moment we can focus on its little brother, the Europa League. Spurs are in France to face Lyon and some of their fans got a rough welcome. 50 versus three? Not the best odds. Apparently there were some anti-semitic aspects to the attack, so...awesome. Here's a preview of all of today's action on the pitch.

Back to Tottenham's neighbors up in North London. Phil McNulty looks at the big decisions facing Arsenal. Because, let's face it: No team can replace top-class, in some cases world-class, players with inferior models and get away with it for long.

The venues for this summer's Gold Cup have been announced. Hopefully one is in your neck of the woods.

Let's finish with the dance party led by Balotelli and Robinho at the San Siro last night. That embarrassed looking woman is Super Mario's girlfriend, Fanny Nequesha.



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Rooney's Motorcycle, Arsenal and Bayern, Milan and Barca, Fiorentina's Jovetic, Best Stadium in Europe?

Off we go with the Champions League where Bayern Munich had little trouble brushing aside an inept and grossly inferior Arsenal side at the Emirates. Gabby Marcotti reckons Bayern are the only team good enough to possibly knock Barcelona off their perch. We're not sure about that, but they are pretty damn strong. Not that Arsenal offered much resistance. Mertesacker and Cazorla in particular had nights to forget. The German press certainly loved the result. How about some reports?

In the day's other match, Porto defeated Malaga 1-0.

AC Milan play today, know...
Right. So, today we've got AC Milan vs. Barcelona. Not too shabby. Here's a preview. Here's another. Barcelona's manager is still in NYC getting treatment after his recent throat cancer operation, but Andy West explains that they are in good hands regardless. And look at this: every single Eurosport dude in Europe thinks Barcelona will advance. Way to go out on a limb, guys.

As has been the rule this year in the Champions League, the other match of the day isn't so hot. It's Galatasaray vs. Schalke. Drogba will play, we think. So, that's interesting.

Fiorentina. La Viola. They've got a hell of a player in one Stevan Jovetic. He's from Montenegro, which is a beautiful country, we're told. Beaches like Croatia but cheaper and less touristy. But, we digress. Michael Cox wants to talk Jovetic Tactics.

We all know Wayne Rooney has class, right? HAH! Sorry. Hmmm. Yeah, so the fake-haired one has designed a motorcycle and thanks to his personal touch the value of the bike dropped by £15,000. 

Let's finish with a discussion on The Greatest Stadium in Europe. Craven Cottage makes the list! San Siro? Bernabeu? Camp Nou? Cast your vote.



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Champions League, Scribes, Goal Line Technology, Di Canio

Right! So, Manchester United deservedly defeated Reading in the FA Cup yesterday. Reading made it a bit nervy with a late goal but the Red Devils held on to progress. Mark Ogden was at Old Trafford.

FIFA. Not really our favorite organization. Lots of wealthy, conniving, dishonest, sexist, racist, homophobic old men. Well, they finally got something right. There will be goal line technology at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. No more ghost goals. We hope.

The Champions League is back today. On tap is Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich and Porto vs. Malaga. Similar to last week, it's one big match that everyone will be watching and one, well, not so much. Everyone wants to talk about Arsenal, especially after their limp effort against Blackburn on Saturday and Wenger's freakout press conference yesterday. Stewart Robson thinks Arsene is to blame for the empty trophy case. Henry Winter says Arsenal need a new hero like Vieira. Does anyone want to talk about Bayern? Yes, David Hytner does. Thank you, David. Here's a match preview. And Michael Cox talks tactics.

Phil Ball in Spain. Sid Lowe in Spain. Paolo Bandini in Italy. Raphael Honigstein in Germany.

Paolo Di Canio has stepped down as manager at Swindon Town. Here's a look at his tenure.

That's going to do it for today.



Monday, February 18, 2013

The Fifth Official, Blackburn Beat Arsenal, Landon Donovan, Hamsik Robbed Again, Robbie Roberts is Gay, Ronaldinho is a Cheeky Bastard

Happy Monday, y'all. We'll begin with the Fifth Official. As we all know, his/her favorite pastime is bashing the Gunners and there's plenty of material with which to work. Losing at home to Blackburn in the FA Cup after the League Cup debacle with Bradford isn't sitting pretty with Arsenal fans. Arsenal now join the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham, Norwich, QPR, Aston Villa, Sunderland, and Newcastle. All were knocked out of the FA Cup by teams from lower divisions.

Sticking with the Cup, Man City had little trouble with Leeds, Oldham scored late to draw with Everton, Chelsea ended Brentford's dreams, and Wigan walked all over Huddersfield.

Dominic Fifield was at the Emirates and Martin Keown called the defeat a "smack in the face." Richard Jolly was at the Eithad Stadium and Daniel Taylor was at Boundary Park.

Here are Ten Talking Points. Here's a Team of the Weekend. Here's a Little Wrap.

The draw for the next round means that if Manchester United defeat Reading this afternoon (3pm EST on FSC) then the Reds will face Chelsea in the Quarterfinals. Call us crazy, but we're going to put it all on the line right here and now and say that the Reds will face Chelsea in the Quarterfinals.

There was one match in the Premier League this weekend. Michael Laudrup rested several starters and paid the price handsomely as Liverpool crushed Swansea City 5-0 at Anfield. It's really not a bad piece of business for Swansea, though.  As embarrassing the defeat may have been, they'll be fully rested for the League Cup final against Bradford. You've got to prioritize silverware if you've got the chance to get it. Andy Hunter took in the action in Liverpool.

The Photo
Landon Donovan is in the news! That means we get to use The Photo. Enjoy. Why is he in the news? Because he says he'll return to the Galaxy next month and continue playing soccer. The news is so exciting it prompted a Monday MLS Breakdown. How exciting. Not as exciting as The Photo, though.

Back to Europe. Let's start in Spain where Messi scored again. And again. Is there really any point anymore? It's Groundhog Day all over again. The two this weekend were his 300th and 301st for Barca. Real Madrid overcame a Ramos red in the 18th minute to when and their neighbors Atletico won at Valladolid. Here's your review.

Over in Italia, the Serie A race became more intriguing thanks to one Francisco Totti. The Roman Icon's goal was enough to defeat leaders Juventus. Napoli could only draw but the gap at the top is down to four. Elsewhere, Fiorentina crushed Inter Milan, Mario is suddenly super again for AC Milan, and Siena and Lazio play tonight. Here's your review. Sticking in Italy for a moment, Napoli's Marek Hamsik was robbed at gunpoint after his side's draw in Naples. Sounds like it was pretty scary stuff.

Back in the USA, Robbie Roberts announced he's gay. The former Columbus Crew standout also announced his retirement from the sport at the age of 25. Roberts has struggled with his situation for his entire career. Hopefully he can now find some peace. Grant Wahl reports. And here's a nice piece from

Ronaldinho? That cheeky bastard. The geri-curled one grabbed some water from the opposing keeper, received a long throw, and made the assist on a goal. It's all legal. And pretty genius.

We'll return to Arsenal to end our Monday. Arsenal have gone 2,830 days without a trophy. Since then, 25 departing players have won 73 medals! Oh, the humanity! Of course, some of those illustrious trophies include Frank Simek's Football League Trophy with Carlisle United, Stephen O'Donnell's League of Ireland trophy with Shamrock Rovers, and Jose Antonio Reyes' League Cup with Benfica. Here are all the stats.

Right. Off you go.