Friday, April 11, 2014

Champions League Draw Pits Chelsea vs. Atlético Madrid & Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid, Manchester City vs. Liverpool, The Joy of Six, Hillsborough

And there goes another week in the books...

The Champions League Semis were set this morning over in France, and the Spanish teams were kept apart. Bayern and Real will go at it and Chelsea and Atlético will clash. Juicy stuff. Sid Lowe still can't stop talking about Atlético Madrid. And why should he? They're having the time of their lives, don't you know? Meanwhile, we're not the only ones thinking about who will make the final. Michael Cox is also wondering who will emerge from two titanic battles. Gab Marcotti suggests we all just strap in and enjoy the ride. Sounds wise.

Per usual, we'll begin with a look at the weekend in England and Wales:

FA Cup Semi-Final Preview: Wigan vs. Arsenal
FA Cup Semi-Final Preview: Hull City vs. Sheffield United
Liverpool v Manchester City: Five steps each that set up Sunday's game

There is league soccer in Spain this weekend, too. Here's your La Liga preview. Serie A? Look for these Five Things. And here's a more complete preview.

Gosh. The Joy of Six this week is Goalscoring Goalkeepers. How awesome is that?!

Europa League. Valencia (?!), Juventus, Sevilla, and Benfica make up your semi-final crew.

SSN Staffers don't really get too excited about summertime friendlies here in the United States. This, however, would be pretty fun.

Lucky for us, Barney Ronay has a wonderful imagination. Today, he's putting it to use by imagining a Premier League truly made in Britain. Hmmmm...

Read: "Over the next couple of months, is profiling two valuable, but perhaps undervalued, under-the-radar players on each of the U.S. men's national team's Group G opponents at this summer's World Cup. As a result, the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil and Asamoah Gyan will make way for their lesser-heralded teammates in this space. The next in the Know Your Enemy series is versatile Ghana midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah."

We're going to end on a sad note today with a look back at Hillsborough. It was 25 years ago.



Thursday, April 10, 2014

Atlético Madrid Oust Barcelona, Bayern Munich Defeat Manchester United, Hilarious Soccer Dives, MLS In 2020, No Acrobatic Sex For Brazil Players, Gentleman Ultra's Alternative Serie A Guide To Genoa

Pre-gaming United fans in Munich...
Good Day, friends! Barcelona are out of the Champions League thanks to yet another impressive performance from Madrid's "second" side. Manchester United are also out of the Champions League thanks to yet another normal performance by the reigning champs. Let's get down to business:

Jonathan Wilson: Stifle and Survive
Atlético Madrid 1-0 Barcelona (agg. 2-1): Report
Bayern Munich 3-1 Manchester United (agg. 4-2): Report

The draw for the semis is tomorrow. A quick straw poll around SSN Headquarters reveals that we all want Real Madrid vs. Chelsea and Bayern Munich vs. Atlético Madrid. Jonathan Wilson tells us how the last four compare.

Ohhhh, Barcelona. You've given us such great football and so much more. Your tiki-taka, your elegant style, your panache, your whining from Dani Alves, your hair-farm from Carlos Puyol, your wife of Gerard Piqué, your boot studs from Javier Mascherano. Is this the end of it all? Is the era over?

Someone took the time to gather some gifs of dives. They're quite lovely. Enjoy.

Major League Soccer continues to expand. Atlanta looks set to get a team. Minneapolis might be in line for something. Brian Strauss gives us an update on potential changes to the U.S.'s top league.

Contrasting emotions at the Vicente Calderón...
Brazil gaffer Luiz Felipe Scolari said this: ‘Usually normal sex is done in a balanced way but some like to perform acrobatics. We will put limits and survey the players.’ We'd like to see the results of said survey...

The Gentleman Ultra is back with his Serie A Alternative Club Guide, and this time he's tackling Genoa. We can't wait to dig in.

There are matches of note (minor) today. Yes, everyone's favorite secondary European competition continues with Juventus, Benfica, FC Porto and FC Basel hoping to make the semis. Take a gander if you care.

With that, we'll see you on Friday.



Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Chelsea & Real Madrid Advance, Bayern Munich vs. Manchester United & Atlético Madrid vs. Barcelona Are Today, Barney Ronay On United, Martin Samuel On Loans

Right! It's Hump Day already. Chelsea were indeed able to overturn the deficit thanks to a late goal from Dembe Ba (yes, The Special One did his touchline run), and they've advanced to the semis of the Champions League. We said yesterday that there was no way Borussia Dortmund would be able to do the same against Real Madrid, but it almost happened. They won 2-0 thanks to a brace from Marco Reus, and came close to the all important third goal, but just couldn't do it. Here's your lot from yesterday's action in London.

Chelsea 2-0 PSG (3-3, Chelsea win on away goals): Daniel Taylor at Stamford Bridge
Jonathan Wilson: Mourinho does it again

Don't rest yet, friends. We've got two more lovelies on the ticket for this afternoon. Madrid and Barcelona clash at the Vicente Calderón Stadium, with the home side slightly ahead after last week's 1-1 draw at Camp Nou. Guillem Balague argues that the Madrid side are indeed the favorites, and, of course, Sid Lowe is on the case, don't you know? Preview? Done. Matchpack? Yes.

Over in Munich at the Allianz, Manchester United meet the defending champs in their second leg. The result at Old Trafford was also 1-1. Here's a preview. Here's another. Word on the street is that Shrek will play. We shall see. On the other side of the aisle, Raphael Honigstein argues that even though Bayern have already won the Bundesliga, this is a massive match for Pep.

Tim Vickery has a piece on Ecuador and Antonio Valencia. They'll be in Brazil this summer. Did you know that the Wright Brothers introduced soccer to Ecuador? Not Orville and Wilbur, though...

Martin Samuel wants a word. He'd like to discuss the current loan system in the Premier League. By all means, Martin.

And finally: Manchester United: how did they get into this mess? Leave it to Barney Ronay to make it clear as day.



Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Top Five Divisions In England Without A Black Coach, Chelsea vs. PSG, Spurs Beat Sunderland, Scribes, Goals Of The Week

Sherwood Salutes
Ahoy! A lovely Tuesday to you and yours. As with most Tuesday's we've got loads to get through. We'll begin with action on the pitch. Tottenham struggled a bit early but eventually hit their stride and dispatched of Sunderland by a score of 5-1. Christian Eriksen, in particular, was fantastic for the hosts. Here's the current Premier League Table. Sunderland look to be going down...

In Italy, Juventus are now eight points clear after yesterday's win over Liverno, and Honda got revved up for Milan with a goal in their win at Genoa.

Sticking with action on the pitch, the biggie today is Chelsea vs. PSG. The Parisians lead the tie 3-1 so The Blues will have to go for at The Bridge. Check it at 2:45pm EDT on Fox Sports 1. Sadly, The Zlatan is injured so audiences won't be graced by his presence. Here are some previews to get you excited:

Chelsea vs. Paris Saint-Germain: Date, Time, Live Stream, TV Info and Preview
Chelsea vs. Paris Saint-Germain: Preview

The other Champions League match today is Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid. The Germans have to overturn a 0 - 3 deficit. That won't happen. No previews for you.

We noted yesterday that Norwich sacked Chris Hughton. Now that he's gone, it means there are no black coaches in the top five divisions of English football. Don't worry: we did the math. That's 116 clubs. Not much you can say about that.

Off you go, Jacko.
There were some great goals this past week! Among them, a lovely free-kick from Down Under by Alex Del Piero. Yes, folks, he's still got it.

Back Stateside, let's take a look back at the weekend in Major League Soccer. Jason Davis says Cascadia chaos, understudies step up, pivotal red cards. Good. You want Power Rankings? Jeff Carlisle's got 'em. Good. More MLS? Liviu Bird can help. Good.

So Barcelona broke the rules when they signed some kid. FIFA got angry. FIFA said Barcelona can't transfer any players for two windows. Guillem Balague takes a closer look.

Meanwhile, Marcotti continues to muse. This week, it's Martinez impresses, Bayern's priorities and Bale's brilliance. OK.

We're up to Number Nine of the Guardian's series of World Cup: 25 stunning moments. Scott Murray reminds us about Diego Maradona's Hand of God.

Good Grief. Scribes, people. Scribes!

Where? Spain. Who? Sid Lowe. What? Valencia drift towards mediocrity

Where? Germany. Who? Uli Hesse. What? End for 'gentle giant' Hyypia

Where? Italy. Who? Paolo Bandini. What? Destro has slim chance of Italy place

Where? Germany. Who? Raphael Honigstein. What? Problems at Hannover 96 give hope to Braunschweig

The BBC has this thing going: The World Cup is only 66 days away, with the opening match between host nation Brazil and Croatia taking place in Sao Paulo on 12 June. BBC Sport, with the help of European football expert Andy Brassell, is taking a weekly look at happenings from across the world of football and what impact they could have on the tournament in the summer.

And finally...what becomes of that absurd Michael Jackson statue at Craven Cottage? It's going to a museum.



Monday, April 07, 2014

Leicester City Promoted, Hot Weekend Premier League Action, Dempsey Hat-Trick, Monday Night Football, Norwich Sack Hughton Top Three Win In Spain

Hey! We're back. SSN Headquarters closed for a few days so we could take a much-needed company retreat. The staff headed to Florida where we had some very productive meetings, breakout sessions, group meals, and no small amount of excellent PowerPoint presentations.

SSN's La Liga Expert takes a stroll between team building exercises...
Of course, we kept our eye on the proceedings of The Beautiful Game and are eager to get back on the horse. Where else to start but with the Premier League where the title race, the race for Europe, and the race to avoid the drop are hotting up, as they say. Let us begin:

Manchester City 4 - 1 Southampton: Amy Lawrence at the Etihad Stadium
Chelsea 3 - 0 Stoke City: Sachin Nakrani at Stamford Bridge
Everton 3 - 0 Arsenal: Jamie Jackson at Goodison Park
Newcastle 0 - 4 Manchester United: Louise Taylor at St James' Park

Miguel Delany is taking a look at the tight relegation picture in the Premier League. Just who is safe? Just who is not?

What's the opposite of relegation? Why promotion, of course. Leicester City have dominated the Championship all season and have already confirmed they will re-join the Big Boys for 2014-2015. Here are ten factors behind the Foxes' success story.

Poor Chris Hugton. As you no doubt read above, he finally got the sack after Norwich lost at home to West Brom. You had to say it was coming, really.

As we noted, the Big Three in La Liga all won at the weekend. Gareth Bale had a beauty as Real Madrid won at Real Sociedad, Messi grabbed another two for Barca, and Rudi Garcia scored the important one for Atlético Madrid to stay top. This little piece will get you all up to speed prior to tomorrow's insight from The Scribes.

Mario keeps in on the DL in Milan...
There is some decent Monday Night Football to enjoy today. Struggling Sunderland travel to White Hart Lane to face Spurs. Here's your preview. In Italy, both Juventus and and Milan are in action this afternoon/evening. Here's a wrap of what already went down in Serie A, where Hellas won the Verona derby, and Bologna held Inter Milan to a 2-2 draw in one of the best games of the Serie A season. Elsewhere, Lazio defeated Sampdoria before Atalanta fell to bottom side Sassuolo, while both Roma, Fiorentina and Parma won easily.

We mentioned in the subject line that Deuce got three in his MLS match. It was the 85th meeting between the Sounders and the Timbers and it ended 4-4. That's a wrap.

Holy Christ! Bayern Munich lost again. Oh, wait. Philipp Lahm, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben were not even in the squad? Ylli Sallahi, Mitchell Weiser and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg started? OK, we understand now.

It's good to be back!