....in the Joan Gamper Trophy (Torneig Joan Gamper).It is an annual pre-season football competition hosted by FC Barcelona. It is named in honour of Joan Gamper, a founding member and player who later became president of the club.The goals were scored by Ronaldinho, Giovani, Yaya Toure,Iniesta and Motta.
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August 2007 Archives
....in the Joan Gamper Trophy (Torneig Joan Gamper).It is an annual pre-season football competition hosted by FC Barcelona. It is named in honour of Joan Gamper, a founding member and player who later became president of the club.The goals were scored by Ronaldinho, Giovani, Yaya Toure,Iniesta and Motta.
More bad news for LA Galaxy.Apart from the SuperLiga trophy final defeat against Pachuca a fairly innocous looking tackle by Fernando Salazar during the game has gone and knocked the ligament in Beckam's knee out of shape.He will be out of action for 6 weeks or thereabouts.The video gives a good look the collision between the players.
The Baggies have agreed to let Villa talk to Curtis Davies, the highly rated England U21 centre back and barring a last minute hitch the deal should go through. The transfer will enrich the Baggies by £9million. The Baggies have already lost talents Jason Koumas, Diomansy Kamara, and Nathan Ellington.
If all goes according to plan Villa will suit Davies up for the Chelsea encounter. They could use his big body against Didier Drogba.
Donovan misses a golden opportunity to win the Galaxy the first Super Liga title. Beckham limps out injured with a right knee sprain and reduced to near tears, and Frank Yallop uses the F-bomb liberally in his press conference . Grant Wahl writes more on a thoroughly entertaining final >>
Anelka seems to taken the adage " for better or worse" by committing to Bolton and Sammy Lee for another four years. Lee surely must be breathing easier now because Anelka will be invaluable to whatever Lee's aspirations are right now as he struggles to keep Bolton from sliding further in the post Allardyce era.
Anelka however kept a chance of a transfer working out in the future by hinting that he would leave i if Bolton's poor start continued.
Harpeol Beersheba's Chaswe Nsofwa, a former Zambian international became the third player in the space of ten days to collapse on the field and die of heart failure, following Clive Clarke's of Leicester, who collapsed during halftime but appears to be doing better, and Sevilla's Antonio Puerta who died on Tuesday of complications arising from his heart attack suffered in a match against Getafe.
Dirk Kuyt scored two goals.Sami Hyypia and Crouch chipped in with a goal each in Liverpool's 4 - 0 win against Toulouse in their Champion's League qualifier .The match began with the playing of Everton's Z Cars theme preceding "You'll Never Walk Alone" in tribute to Rhys Jones, the 11-year-old murdered in Croxteth last Wednesday. Goals here..
Puerta's funeral was attended by his friends who grew up together playing in the Sevilla youth system Sergio Ramos, Jesus Navas, and Kepa Blanco. The current coach of Atletico Bilbao, Joaquin Caparros, who gave Puerta his debut in the senior squad while he was the Sevilla coach also was in attendance. More than 20,000 fans showed up to bid farewell to Puerta.
More tributes from players and coaches including Liverpool's Fernando Torres >>
As Spain and Sevilla mourned the death of Antonio Puerta, the dramatic locker room collapse of Sunderland's defender, Clive Clarke on loan to Leicester sent shock waves through the soccer fraternity in England.
It remains to be seen whether Clarke also like Puerta had right ventricular arrythmia which is the leading cause of sudden cardiac arrests and syncope in endurance athletes. Clarke however seems to have recovered enough to sit up and talk.
The tragic death of Puerta and the sudden collapse of Clive Clarke signals a more serious health concern than the myriad hamstring and ankle sprains that soccer players go through in their career. One step would be to instill more discerning cardiac tests and ascertain previous health information including family history of cardiac problems that might prevent athletes at risk from grievous harm.
These collapses took place in the most followed soccer leagues and in developed countries with superior health care. We can only imagine what the situation might possibly be in less developed countries with less visible leagues. I don't think we have the statistics on that. This is something that the FIFA should take a constructive lead on.
It seems Sven Goran has his sights now on Nicholas Anelka who should bring an instant impact on attack which so far has been impressive in spells. But they need a proven goal scorer to round off a club on the upswing. Man Utd is also in the mix as it took a superlative strike and a bit of a fortuitous contact to get them their win against Tottenham.
The big news is that Chelsea may still be able to grab Daniel Alves as the wingback has all but wrecked his relationship with Sevilla and was left out of the match against Getafe as well as the CL qualifier against AEK Athens. The asking price is steep, estimated at 36 million euros. But if there is any club that can pull of such a last minute expensive transfer it will have to be Chelsea. Alves is a better bet than Ronaldinho whose recent sluggish form and loss of motivation might make him an ever greater liablilty.
Also on the transfer block is Jermaine Defoe who has yet to sign a new contract with Tottenham and is surplus to their requirements. He may wind up at West Ham who maybe looking for a replacement for Kieron Dyer now that his season has ended with a double fracture.
Another reported transfer is SWP but Chelsea is beginning to see the best of the right winger who is really bringing a spark to the attack this season. I think that Mourinho would like to keep him if the Alves transfer does not work out.
Ok. So Landon Donovan and David Beckham are out of the Super Liga final along with half the LA Galaxy team. You really can't do much about injured players. But does this make sense?
"The title match is a sellout. Attendance was capped at 12,500 in the 27,000-seat stadium to limit traffic and ease parking problems for students in their first week of fall classes at Cal State Dominguez Hills. The school shares its campus with Home Depot Center.
And MLS wants to promote soccer.
The greatest contribution of the US to soccer aka football is the bowdlerization of 'association football' to soccer. The US being the prime arbiter of popular culture soccer is now universally recognized as an interchangeable term for football. To sticklers across the pond, it signifies ignorance of the global game. But soccer serves a practical purpose of nomenclature distinguishing it from American football.
However, there is an even more insidious word creep taking place in soccer and this is assist. It got thrust into the international stage when David Beckham provided three assists in the LA Galaxy vs NY Red Bulls game. There it was flashing on FSC as Becks was being interviewed.
As far as I can see assist is purely a statistical term that is bandied about in the US but seems to be picking up steam through newswire agencies that keep match reports brief. It cuts short descriptions such as "Beckham's lovely swerving freekick curled up and across the human wall, that moved nary a muscle, as the ball moved from right to left, and settled gently on the forehead of Pavon who flicked it in effortlessly. Vintage Beckham " Or some such thing that the Guardian columnists can do better.
The word was highlighted in the LA Galaxy vs Red Bulls match but it has been in existence for a while in this country. Do you know that Landon Donovan is the all time assist leader in the national team with 23 breaking Cobi Jones record in April 2006? I have my doubts whether Beckham's statistics were recorded that closely when playing in England or Spain. But that is all about to change.
Is the term assist a measure of a meritocratic society or a national obsession with individual statistics? After all, it does make a difference as to who set up the goal and why their contributions shouldn't be recognized more fully. Or is it an effort to make a game more palatable to a larger audience?
A trip to the statistics zone at www.ussoccer.com is a revealing one. Compare that to the FA website, the world's oldest archive of player records, which is downright threadbare. The same set is used to describe greats like Stanley Matthews and contemporaries like Ashley Cole. It pretty much amounts to caps and goals scored. The entry on Landon Donovan is a veritable excel spreadsheet of numbers with categories on assists. There is a interestingly enough, a category on points scored which is an aggregate of goals and assists made.
Donovan leads with 21 (9 goals, 3 assists). Statistics like assists and points scored highlight how invaluable a player is to the national squad but it also suggests the ethos of an underlying individuality in US team sports, even one as soccer, with its unparalleled global connections. These categories are not anomalies. I think they are part of the US rubric. I can almost hear myself saying "Donovan is a good player" in a conversation and another person shooting back with " Do you have the numbers to back you up?"
The downside to descriptives like assists and points scored is that they make for convenient record keeping and newswire reports but they do not necessarily make for good soccer journalism. Which is why I think a Yank's commentary on a match is received with much more skepticism. After all what exactly is an assist in soccer? Its jargon.
Mido has found a home in Middlesborough and his output is proving critical in mitigating the loss of Mark Viduka. His two goals in his two matches are an encouraging sign that Mido is shrugging off his disappointing season at White Hart where he was sidelined by the Spurs striker depth. He gained weight and his unhappiness at his lack of playing time soon soured the welcome that he had received coming back on a permanent transfer from AS Roma.
He finally joined Boro after a deal with Man City fell through at the last minute and the club matched Birmingham and Sunderland for his services. Gareth Southgate must be pleased that the £6m transfer is working out.
The Palestine U-19 team that was supposed to tour England playing teams like Chester City and Blackburn Rovers have been refused visas on the eve of their visit. The official explanation is that the British foreign office was concerned that the players would seek asylum because of the horrible economic conditions prevailing in Gaza.
The unofficial explanation is that there is no guarantee that they would be let back into Gaza thanks to Israel's policy of controlling the entry and exit to and from the Gaza strip, thus creating a refugee status.
More examples of how Israel continues to humiliate the Palestinians. In 2005, the Israelis prevented the Palestinians competing on the world stage by detaining players in Gaza during a world cup qualifier. They also prevented the entire team leaving Gaza for an Asian Cup qualifier against Singapore in 2006 and barred the team from re-entering Gaza for over a month after they competed in Jordan in June of this year.
We can do something about this. Go to www.windowintopalestine.blogspot.com and find out how you can help.
Write to the British consulate in Jerusalem at email@example.com and to firstname.lastname@example.org (Attn: Kamal Kalloub).
Write letters to FIFA (email@example.com), the FA (firstname.lastname@example.org) and UEFA (email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org) protesting the favourable treatment of the Israeli national team who are to meet England at Wembley on Sept 8th.
A win over Arsenal, their bitterest foes in next month's derby might be just about enough to save Jol his job. Since the Gunners are firmly in the Spurs sights to vault over them to fourth spot this appears to be a reasonable yardstick. Graham Roberts, the former Spurs captain thinks so >>
However it is not matches against the existing big four that will make or break Jol's future, it is winning matches in between against clubs that the Spurs should easily coast over. Meanwhile Darren Bent's overpriced transfer has become a bone of contention between Jol and director of football operations, Daniel Comolli. Similar to Sheva being an albatross around Jose Mourinho's neck after his transfer was pushed through by Roman Abramovich.
Aston Villa is reportedly interested in acquiring German and Werder Bremen defender Per Mertesacker and his beanpole 6'6" frame to Villa Park to bolster a defense that is thin in the depth chart. They need another central defender to provide Mellberg company. So far Villa has done well to keep opposing teams away from goal but the season is young and injuries are a concern. Plus, they really need Gareth Barry's services as a midfielder and not as a makeshift outside back.
Arsenal and Man Utd are again reportedly in the hunt for Obafemi Martins although Big Sam insists that there have been no negotiations for big Nigerian striker. But I can see why both clubs would be very interested as the undersized Eduardo who has impressed with his speed has not really been up to the mark when it comes to the physical challenges. Man Utd needs a physical presence now that Wayne Rooney has gone. Tevez is a snappy little player with his legs constantly in motion but he has not yet proved to be a major threat in the box.
Martins transfer rumours have been done to death but there are a few days left in the transfer window and Wenger could still spring a surprise.
If the reigning champions of the Premiership are having a tough time winning matches then the French Ligue champs Lyons are also in a pickle and in 10th place. Both clubs have lost key players to injury. Lyons has questions on both the defensive and attacking end.
Lyons have lost goalkeeper Gregory Coupet, midfielder Sydney Govou, and in the biggest blow, their central defender and skipper Cris for the season. They now have Anderson Kleber from Benfica filling that spot.
But injuries only tell a partial story as there are a group of players in transition. Fred the disgruntled and injured Brazilian striker who seems to have made few friends at OL is waiting to be transfered to Sevilla. This deal will go through should Dani Alves leave Sevilla for Chelsea as expected. Juninho the attacking midfielder appears distracted by the constant transfer rumours involving him and Valencia. Sylvain Wiltord, Lyons super sub has finally transfered to Rennes.
One way of boosting their attack would have been to get Mancini, the attacking midfielder from AS Roma who has been in stunning form for the Serie runner up to augment Karim Benzema, Milan Baros, and Hatem Ben Arfa up front. But AS Roma has balked at selling him stating that Mancini is untransferable.
Karim Benzema has been magnificent for OL so far and leads in every statistical category but he needs help up front.
Sevilla midfielder Antonio Puerta continues to be in intensive care as he collapsed in a match against Getafe. He has been diagnosed with a cardiac arrest caused by bouts of severe ventricular arrhythmia.
Clinical studies have shown that endurance athletes who suddenly collapse have structural defects of the right ventricle resulting in reduced ejection fractions (blood flow). There is a slim chance that Puerta maybe able to come back to the soccer field but he will have to wear a cardioverter fibrillator that can shock the heart back into beating again.
So how worrisome is this condition exactly?
However, Heidbuchel added that ventricular arrhythmias aren't common, and endurance athletes don't need to worry about them too much.
"But they need to be vigilant and honest with themselves: If they have a family history of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), arrhythmias, sudden death or other heart complaints, or if they have experienced exercise-induced light-headedness, palpitations or fainting, then they should see their doctor for an evaluation," Heidbuchel said.
The LA Galaxy crashed to its third defeat in the post Beckham era losing to Chivas, 3-0. To be fair the Galaxy only played Beckham in its NY match which led to a pulsating 5-4 draw in a match of the ages.
Yallop has few options- either the Galaxy get to the playoffs or not. He cannot even cite the bottom line as remaining in the MLS as there is no promotion and relegation system. Thus so far, the introduction of Beckham has caused Yallop more headaches because it has created the expectancy that one player is more than the sum of the game. The media has already bought into the story that Yallop cannot handle the pressure of coaching David Beckham.
Except that in this case Beckham came when the LA Galaxy already had no legitimate chance of making the playoffs and he also came injured. He might have brought the crowds to see the game last Saturday but he did not help the LA Galaxy win any more games. Thus so far he has been ineffectual for his clubs' fortunes. This is not Yallop's fault.
But all this is about finding a scapegoat. Alexi Lalas has to justify the purchase of his golden goose. Does this mean the Frank Yallop loses his job as Jurgen Klinsmann is being tapped for the managerial position? Yes. Because one superstar is going to coach another superstar. Mark my words. Klinsmann is going to become Beckham's personal trainer because the warped thinking is that the LA Galaxy is going to find its glory days through this one player phenomena. A truly sickening phenomenon.
Ironically, it was Alexi Lalas who signed Yallop on as manager on the strength of his success against the LA Galaxy in the MLS finals leading the San Jose Earthquakes to two MLS titles. Yallop must be wondering where the good old days went when they won without any superstars.
Horrible refereeing decisions have marked the beginning of the Premiership and it does not seem as if mere suspensions will rectify this situation. The game has quickened beyond the human eye to make timely adjustments and the stakes have gotten much higher.
A decision that can cost a club threading a fine line between relegation and staying afloat in the Premiership or a CL position or the ultimate goal of a Premiership. A retina retains an image for 1/16th of a second before a new image can be imposed on it. In that time a foul leading to a penalty could have taken place and the referee would have no inkling save for a linesman who would have to see the same visual. You are talking of constant human error and not the skills of an English referee which is second to none.
Lets look at this fledgling Premiership season.
Already Fulham has been at the receiving end of some truly horrible refereeing decisions including a sure shot goal by David Healy that crossed the line before Schwarzer scooped the ball. It should have been a draw, instead Boro eked out an ill deserved win.
Liverpool was robbed of a victory as Malouda faked a foul and Lampard converted the penalty kick. Replays showed that Malouda was untouched by Carragher.
Fulham was again at the receiving end of a poor refereeing decision as Chris Baird gets sent off on a red card which replays showed as a legitimate challenge. Fulham are reduced to ten men as they lose to Aston Villa.
Spurs were denied two penalty kicks as Berbatov was bumped by Vidic in a goal scoring situation and then Wes Brown handled the ball again as Berbatov tried shooting home. The glaring errors resulted in a Spurs team that grew frustrated and distracted enough for Nani to shoot home the Man Utd winner.
At stake is Fulham's aspirations to remain in the Premiership and in Spurs case, Martin Jol's job that unfairly is on the line. All resting on the case that the referee gets it right which of course is increasingly limited by our physiological constraints as the game gets faster.
The Premiership is unmatched in its global reach. It is the most watched league and the amount it generates in viewership and merchandising is close to 2.5 billion pounds every year which easily dwarfs second place La Liga that receives about half. If there is any technology that will going to impact the global game in a meaningful then the best vehicle for its introduction and acceptance is the Premiership.
I think the time has come to think about refereeing as bound by human physiological limitations just as running a 100 meters in 5 seconds is an impossibility given the human musculo-sekeletal plant. It is too much of a task. For those naysayers who think it will slow down the game. How much time do players waste arguing a call or a non-call? In that time having the luxury of a TV replay means that players secure in the knowledge that a refereeing decision can be second guessed leads to less time wasted. You can limit the number of TV replays and impose a penalty for over eager managers hoping to force a call.
TV replays should be instituted. Right away. It solves the problem of injustice being done to teams.
Two chances and Berbatov was involved on both occasions. In the first instance, he was brought down by Vidic as the ball continued to roll towards goal only to be booted out by Rio Ferdinand. Then Berbatov's shot was parried away by Wes Brown's arm. Two penalties might have sealed a Spurs win. Not to take away from Nani's superb strike but this game became about justice denied.
Gareth Bale is a find. His corner taking is on target and he constantly forays forward. His pass led to the Berbatov chance.
The question is whether the Spurs board that was watching the match consider the result within the margin of safety for Jol and that the penalties that were denied extenuate his shaky circumstances.
Just last week Beckham and the LA Galaxy came to NY and played a match that lifted soccer and MLS and could make it potentially a start to a larger sporting ethos. But I suspect, this had equally to do with the golden goose finally getting on the statistical end of the sport, and expectations beyond that should be more circumspect.
Two weeks prior served a reminder of how enmeshed baseball is in the US national psyche. With one short sharp stroke Barry Bonds hit his 756th home run erasing Hank Aaron's 33 year record of most home runs. The same week saw Alex Rodriguez becoming the youngest player to hit 500 home runs in MLB history. Only hours earlier, Tom Glavine recorded his 300th win as the Mets won against the Cubs. The nations newspapers and the big networks were on hand as they recorded these historic and personal milestones.
Two months ago, Landon Donovan tied Eric Wynalda's 7 year national record of 34 goals when he scored against Mexico in the Gold Cup. A blip that was reported in soccer journals and some sports publications. The nations newspapers at best reported it in sports briefs sections and the big TV networks barely mentioned it.
756 vs 34. It is not just that the magnitude of the statistic cited is more impressive when we consider it in a black and white frame. After all, Bonds scores a home run every four games he plays and Donovan scores a goal faster with one in three. Donovan could realistically score a thousand goals in as many matches that Bonds has played. But statistics barely tell the story.
Walt Whitman brings up this singularity "...it's our game; that's the chief fact in connection with it : America's game; has the snap, go, fling, of the American atmosphere; it belongs as much to our own institutions, fits into them as significantly, as our constitution's laws; is just as important in the sum total of our historic life"
A month ago I saw A Field of Dreams at Brooklyn in a pub which organizes movie nights on Sundays and watching the movie put all these achievements in perspective. Kevin Costner can make eating a sandwich look schmaltzy but as you look at Ray Kinsella, the character he plays, discovering baseball became a way of bonding with his dead father, as he encounters characters along the way whose love for baseball exceeds any achievement that they might have ever wished for, as they meld into the cornfields of Iowa.
It's the sport where the US creates its heroes, immortalized in Shoeless Joe Jackson, Sam 'Wahoo' Crawford, Jackie Robinson, and Joe Di Maggio, and turns to them in times of trouble and doubt. As Simon and Garfunkel sang "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you?" Baseball seems to have this redemptive quality even as controversy swirls around Bonds record and Pete Rose is continually denied entry into the Hall of Fame. Hank Aaron congratulated Bonds and Harvey Araton called for letting bygones be bygones and celebrating Bonds achievement.
This is not as if mens soccer lacks its heroes in the USA who are all from that quintessentially geographic location that suggests soccer too has a uniquely American heart. The movie "The Game Of Their Lives" documents a group of players growing up in St. Louis, part of the under rated US team who went on to beat mighty England, 1-0 in the 1950 World Cup. One of their members Gino Parisi, recently died and his obituary was recorded in major publications. But this is a quaint factoid. A piece of trivia that a bright spark in Alex Trebek's show will be able to answer correctly.
As the present ESPN miniseries "The Bronx is Burning" shows a city reeling under record unemployment, bankruptcy, and rolling blackouts.
In this backdrop the Yankees win the World Series after 15 years with two outsize personalities in Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner representing the past and the future, clashing over Reggie Jackson, the player who came to define the World Series, uniting a city seething with anxiety over a summer of endless looting, mugging, and a psychopath on a killing spree. Baseball became a symbol of triumphalism in these trying times. A confluence of events begins as private citizen Curtis Sliwa and his band of Guardian Angels, provide security in the city's subways to augment an overwhelmed police force slow to deal with these events and ends with Felix Rohatyn's successful restructuring of city debts and a gradual urban renewal.
Soccer provides thousands of such examples in other countries as in the Ivory Coast and most recently, Iraq, where it can unite a country for an ephemeral moment. However, in this country it seems to engender exactly the opposite sentiment. The Fugees became a cause celebre as their soccer playing in Clarkston, Georgia, becomes an extension of a fear and anxiety taking over a older community towards the sudden influx of African immigrants, taking over town parks and and established lifestyle of baseball and barbeques.
Soccer is catching on but till we can string together a series of The Games of Their Lives with unfailing regularity from an entirely different cast of characters in a newer group of immigrants who can redefine the hinterland we can barely hope to touch the core that baseball has achieved. Till then all we have is detours, false starts, and smoke.
Lovely bit of work by Hleb and an even better finish by Cesc Fabregas. Go Gunners!
Oh! No. Fabregas gets a finely threaded pass by Hleb, instinctively thinks about passing, but then decides to have a go. His angled shot beat a Schmeichel who till then looked like he was going to go another game without conceding a goal.
It was the best decision for goal in a long time for Arsenal who should have gone up a goal with RVP's penalty kick. I think if Cesc had decided to go for another extra pass the ball would have wound up on Richard Dunne's foot.
The return of Gilberto was key as he was the catalyst for Arsenal's moves from deep within as well as his defensive flair in denying Elano and Petrov from building up steam. I think Wenger did the right thing by starting Almunia. The Spanish goalie made sure that he did all the small things right and came up with two great saves, one against Mpenza and the other one against Kasper Schmeichel's header, to keep a clean sheet. He looks much steadier controlling and clearing balls unlike Lehmann who always causes some hearts to stop. Adebayor with his height and length caused all sorts of problems round the goalmouth but to be fair Richard Dunne also stuck out an opportune foot to deny him on a number of occasions.
I think there is nothing more satisfying than seeing Arsenal score after creating chance after chance. But this was very sweet seeing Fabregas taking matters into his own hands and score. As I have said Arsenal's goals will have to come from different players as Eduardo da Silva comes to terms with the vagaries of Premiership soccer. So far Hleb and Fabregas have produced.
This Arsenal side took the ball away from the Man City players and won the 50-50 chances. I think it was the closest you can come to seeing total football as even RVP and Adebayor drifted in deep to deny the Man City players.
The one thing that Arsenal can do better is to get more effective positioning of players up front to take advantage of the chanced near goalmouth. There were at least three chances with Adebayor angling the ball and RVP arriving a fraction late and then RVP doing the same with Adebayor pulling up. That is where we miss Henry. I think Hleb's patience operating on the right side paid off with the Fabregas goal but the Belarus midfielder was also guilty of wasting chances pulling the ball to his left foot giving Dunne and Richards more time to close out.
Sven Goran has some questions to answer. His side did not have much possession even with Elano who always looked a step quicker than the rest of his players. Their best player today was Kasper Schmeichel who looks like a chip of the old block. I think giving up that goal infuriated him so much that he almost got one back in Man City's last gasp approach.
It turns out that Ronaldo was getting fat not because he was eating more than the required number of calories but because he is suffering from a medical condition called hypothyroidism.AC Milan have him under medication and are confident that he will soon become once again the sleek streamlined striker that he was in the past.So it looks like we have been misjudging the lad.Meanwhile the video below shows the other still sleek streamlined Ronaldo saving the day for Portugal in their Euro qualifier against Armenia a couple of days ago.Ronaldo's goal was the equaliser in the 1-1 draw.
Jesse Marsch fouled Beckham from behind in the Chivas USA vs Los Angeles Galaxy game and chaos ensued.The scrap that ensued included a head butt and the ref had to dole out 2 red cards to bring dignity and decorum back to the proceedings.The video says it all.
Galaxy lost the game 3 - 0 eventually.
And here's another breaking story on Beckham.Scientific research on the locomotion of prehistoric life has revealed that David Beckham cannot run faster than a dinosaur...even if it happens to be a relatively slow one like a Tyrannosaurus Rex...!
Kim Kallstrom gave Sweden a 1-0 victory over the United States .The Americans almost pulled one back late in the match when Bradley got his head on the ball off a free kick and sent it towards the left corner. But the chance was saved by a diving Shaaban.
A bad thigh injury picked up when an opponent fell on him during Italy's 3 -1 loss to Hungary.Goals below and report here..
Juande Ramos, the Sevilla coach is claiming that he turned down a very lucrative deal to coach at White Hart Lane. The Spurs are denying any contact with Ramos or any other coach. I think they protesteth too much.
This is fast developing into a farce and the losers are the Spurs administration who have got their knickers in a twist after losing to Sunderland and Everton. They have egg on their face.
Basically, even if they get Ramos for Jol, the new coach will face the same problem of inflated expectations after Spurs doled out huge amounts of money in the transfer market. It is now written as an edict that the Spurs will finish no less than fourth and book a CL spot. There appears to be little possibility from deviating from that script. But just three games into the Premiership the Spurs want to throw Jol under the bus.
A really classy move. I think Jol dereves better than that. I can see managers lining up to take the Spurs job knowing full well that this board will boot them out at the slightest hint of trouble. But this board is still looking to making a splashy transfer.
So now we have the rumours that Spurs are looking to Juan Roman Riquelme to steady their midfield. This is ridiculous. How much money are the Spurs willing to throw away? At 17m pounds Bent was easily overvalued by about 5m. Look, the Spurs have horrendous injury problems. They don't have Berbatov and Lennon who are their catalysts. Look at Man Utd, three games into the season and they can't buy a goal. Who would have thought that was possible? You do the best with the players you have, not who you want to have. (heh!)
The problem is possibly one of image too. Jol is not a cuddly bear. He is a dour and unsmiling man whose emotional register is one of perpetual glumness. He rarely reacts as if the world is on fire. In an environment of such charged expectations, Daniel Levy might feel like Jol does not have the fire in his belly. This is entirely untrue. Jol is as competitive as the next coach. In fact, as a coach he has done more for the Spurs to bring them to the level where they can even think of cracking the big four. The honourable thing to do would be to give him this season to prove himself without getting into an unseemly row which would bring morale down.
But the people who count are the players. It is upto Robbie Keane to assume a leadership role and come out with an unambiguous statement that supports the manager. This will force the hand of the board because fans come to see the players and not suited poofs who sit in their box with their mineral water and latest squeeze.
While Beckham's first goal for Galaxy made headlines here's another equally good first MLS goal for Chicago Fire from their new recruit Cuauhtemoc Blanco that's not got much press at all.
It seems like no one was happy about the win against Derby except for Jol and the Spurs faithful. At least not the ones that counted. The chairman and the sporting director. And as Paul McCarthy explains the present structure at Spurs set up by Daniel Levy works against Jol. It seems Jol has lost control even over transfer decisions. He really might not last long. So back room calls are going out for Juande Ramos and Jurgen Klinsmann.
That loss against Sunderland really set off a gigantic s*itstorm, did'nt it?
Hitting the crossbar as a target. Really nice to see the Arsenal spirit come through and Gallas seems to be enjoying his captaincy. Song and Senderos were terrible and Walcott made a mess of his shot. Surprisingly, it was Almunia who was on target. Maybe he can open with RVP up front! H/t to Arseblog who provided the link.
So Marco Materazzi decided to reveal in his yet to be released autobiography what he actually said to Zidane. He after all has to sell his book which probably is a pop up book with graphic pictures of him mowing down players. After all this is Materazzi!
And I have heard worse. Its a schoolyard taunt. PG-13.
Materazzi's book is out on August 30th.
Iraq sent shockwaves through the continent by overcoming the likes of Australia and Korea Republic to storm into the final, where they overcame Saudi Arabia to lift the trophy. What were the driving forces behind the team's success?
"Obviously we have a group of talented youngsters who have come of age. All these years we spent a lot of time training and playing together, and having gained enough international experience the team were in top form. Iraqi people have been going through a hard time and we wanted to make our suffering people happy so much. We also hoped to show the watching world that we, despite the pains and sufferings, are an optimistic people. I believe it was such a belief that carried us all the way through."
More on the Iraqi captain's interview >>
A shocker as Al Hilal takes apart Ahly in a CAF Champions group match leaving the champions aspirations for a third successive title in jeopardy. Ahly looked lethargic and overwhelmed by a hustling Al Hilal. They did not have play makers Mohd Shawki and Flavio Amado. Check out the second goal by Hassan Eshag, a long piledriver that was squeezed between the goalie and the post.
Managers and coaches face different degrees of pressure when they manage a soccer team. Many factors influence this pressure.
Priority: Is it to win the Premiership or to stave off relegation? Is it to remain respectable? To build for the future? To get to the CL or qualify for the UEFA?
Experience: The new ones want to prove themselves to the fans and the management that hire them subjecting themselves to a higher degree of pressure.
Players: A coach who loses a valuable player might be subject to a greater degree of scrutiny.
Tactics: A manager introduces a new approach faces instant pressure to prove what he believes will yield results.
Past history: Some managers have a history that readily lends itself to credibility issues. Are they to be trusted?
Splash the cash: The newly bought teams by business magnates whose expensive investments in players will put pressure on their managers because they want an instant return.
If one were to construct Venn diagrams of these factors then there would be a great deal of overlap. Because they are not mutually exclusive. Someone like Sven Goran Erickson obviously has issues with past history but he also has to deal with the recent takeover by Thaksin Shinawatra who has given up big money to get players to Man City. Then there are priorities. Will Svennie settle for a mid table finish? Or crack the top ten?
So we come up with a degree of pressure which is based on the pain analog scale which ranges from 0 to 10. With zero there is no pain and with ten you are basically a candidate for sedation. Since no manager will admit to not being under pressure, a zero is impossible. But the Premiership is all about pressure, so a reasonable start is five or in qualitative terms, mildly queasy. But managers are also typically not willing to admit that they are going to pieces (bad for player morale), so ten would not be a likelihood. A nine would be more like it.
The antacid popping brigade:
Alan Curbishley: West Ham staved off relegation last season because of Carlos Tevez. He is now gone. Can Curbishley prove that West Ham is more than Tevez? Can he prove that his club will move away from the sour taste that Kia Joorabchian and Sheffield Utd left in the off season. Freddie Ljungberg is not the answer. Mark Noble might be. With an anxious Eggert Magnusson and his ever vigilant presence hovering around, Upton Park is a cauldron. DOP 9.
Chris Hutchings: Wigan dodged a bullet by pipping Sheffield Utd on the last day, staving off relegation. To make sure that they would never had to suffer the agony of such a close shave again, Hutchings signed stellar Titus Bramble, Mario Melchiot, and Antoine Sibierski. Wigan also bade farewell to standouts Leighton Baines and Lee McCulloch. Will rugby prevail if the Latics fail? Will the JJB crowd remain at home? DOP 9
Sven Goran Erickson: He last coached a club a decade ago. But Man City's new coach is high profile because of his international and national team experience. His stint with England was memorable more for his off field dalliances, less for any notable achievements. He has a new owner who has injected millions to get new transfers. Now all they need is a coach and a monkey off their back. Sven will want nothing more than shake off the past. DOP 9.
Arsene Wenger: Dealing with the departure of a player of the caliber of Henry, a mainstay of Arsenal for a decade was never going to be easy. But Wenger's reluctance to splash the cash for some big name strikers in the off season in favour of untested but talented youth leaves him under even more pressure. He is also under pressure to commit to the club on a new contract. This coupled with the fact that Spurs are challenging Arsenal for an entry into the big four. When your sworn enemies want an entry into the big dance, it is time to get out the stressbusters. DOP 9.
Rafa Benitez: He has finally been given the keys to the bank. He now has Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel to up the ante and make Liverpool a 70+ goal team to challenge Chelsea and Man Utd for a legitimate shot at the Premiership. With Liverpool making serious moves to a new stadium and debt servicing looming large, this might be the only season that Benitez gets to prove that he is capable of winning a trophy on English soil. DOP 9
Martin Jol: Jol's coaching abilities have so far escaped scrutiny largely because he was never in serious contention to enter the big four without players of caliber. But now he has added Bent, Bale and Berbatov to an already stellar group of players to fuel the fire. He will have run out of excuses and food poisoning if he cannot get this group to produce. So far it has not been easy. DOP 9
Gareth Southgate: Middlesborough lost Mark Viduka and will likely lose Yakubu to Everton, the two players responsible for Boro's 12 th position last season. Their replacements include Jeremy Aladiere who never lived up to his promise at Arsenal and Mido, the prima donna Egyptian striker who can either produce or implode. Not a confidence builder and Boro might be in for a relegation fight. He does have Jonathan Woodgate, always an injury concern, considered Real's worst signing, on a permanent transfer. DOP 9
Lawrie Sanchez: A new coach whose previous club managerial experience was without much success and limited to second division clubs is now in charge of a Premiership team that flirted mightily with relegation last season. Sanchez has had much more success managing the NI team and has brought a number of them to Craven Cottage including David Healy, in an effort to replicate those winning ways. Sanchez's first order of business is to keep Fulham from slipping down. Not an easy job for a new coach. DOP 9
Martin O'Neill: Last season was a rebuilding season and the off season saw an exodus of players that never warmed up to O'Neill's gung ho attitude, finding their way out, led by Steven Davis. This year O'Neill has pinned his hopes on youth and a future nucleus in the England squad, Ashley Young and Luke Moore. He would also like Stilian Petrov to shake off his inertia and become more assertive. The defense has some question marks. This is the first year of his new look team and O'Neill will be under pressure to reproduce his winning days at Celtic. DOP 9
I'll skip the curry:
Sammie Lee: Living under the shadow of Sam Allardyce is not easy. Big Sam took Bolton and its cast of aging players and castoffs from elsewhere and made them win ugly. Enough to make Bolton into a top ten club with an UEFA entry. Lee also has to contend with the bolting Wanderers like Anelka who might be landing up at another club. The only thing going for Lee is that he will never be mistaken for Allardyce. DOP 8
Roy Keane: Some managers are just prone to putting pressure on themselves even as their team over achieves. There might not be a better example than Roy Keane whose hunger and intensity to give off his best is unmatched. It can lift a whole team. Sunderland are the beneficiaries as long as Keane exerts that pressure. With Keane there is no free ride as players found out in their loss to Wigan. DOP 8
Sam Allardyce: Allardyce left Bolton because he wanted a club that could give him the money to get closer to a title. The problem with Newcastle is that it is a club born under a bad sign. With the club under investigation for kickbacks and a perennial problem of injured players, it will never be smooth sailing at St. James Park. Allardyce has a reputation for managing struggling clubs well and it will be put to test this season. He got rid of Titus Bramble and Sibierski for a good start. But it will be more difficult to hold onto Martins and Owen. DOP 8
Steve Copell: Reading overachieved brilliantly last season when they scored over 50 goals on their way to a eighth place finish. Can Reading prove that it was no flash of the pan performance this season? The creative force behind these goals, Steve Sidwell left for Chelsea dealing a big blow. Copell's team is superbly coached and tightly disciplined but their weakness is their lack of attack. Steven Hunt is a fly in the ointment but that is about all. DOP 8
Harry Redknapp: Portsmouth started out hot last season with Kanu banging in goals regularly. They were just lurking behind the Spurs for an UEFA cup spot when they lost momentum and finished ninth. This year Kanu has company up front with John Utaka for a powerful Nigerian one -two. Portsmouth should inch closer to an UEFA Cup spot which is what Redknapp is hoping for. DOP 8
Jose Mourinho: Actually, yes. The relationship between Abramovich and Mourinho is a bit complicated. Its good for now and a number of good Bosman transfers (read free) have helped ease some of the pressure from last year. But the complication is the Africa Cup which looms large for Chelsea could see them lose talisman Didier Drogba and Michael Essien early next year. Mourinho will be under pressure to get off to a very good start to keep the damage done in those three weeks in January to a minimum. DOP 8
Maybe its time to refill that prescription:
David Moyes: Everton had a very good season last year with success in a high powered attack with Andy Johnson and a watertight defence that got them a berth in the UEFA cup. But Everton under Moyes has been extremely inconsistent alternating great performances with indifferent ones. Everton has finished 15th, 7th, 17th, 4th, 11th, and last year they finished 6th in Moyes six years as manager. This year they might be in for a let down. Moyes will be under pressure to see that this does not happen. DOP 7
Mark Hughes: Can Blackburn make it to the UEFA Cup this season? Hughes would hope so. He has gained more heft on attack with Roque Santa Cruz and he probably has the most physical defense in the Premiership in Ryan Nelsen, Andre Ooijer, Chris Samba, and Robbie Savage. But they do give up goals as they are not the brightest of lads. Discipline is a problem and Nelsen's send off on a RVP foul in their last match should serve as a warning to Hughes. DOP 7
Queasy but I'll chew gum:
Sir Alex Ferguson: Winning that ninth title was a relief and according to SAF, the biggest one yet, after seeing Chelsea and Arsenal having a good run. So you have a pretty relaxed manager with some of the world's best players regularly sought out by Real and Barca ready to drop 40-50 m quid on them. Of course, as seen in the first few games, nothing is easy, and injuries to Rooney and Ronaldo have exacerbated their inability to score. But then there is always hard pumping Carlos Tevez and a late transfer possibility in Anelka to right the ship. But this year should be the CL. DOP 6
Steve Bruce: Birmingham made it to the Premiership this season but at present lack the personnel to keep them there. But it would be nice to spring a surprise here and there. Some good talent in a trio of ex Arsenal players (Djorou, Larsson, and Muamba) should see them do just that. They prove themselves to be tough competition in their opening match against Chelsea, forcing a draw against Sunderland, and narrowly losing to West Ham. DOP 5
Billy Davies: Tottenham blistered them 4-0 easing some pressure of Jol. And that is what the Rams will provide for managers who are facing pressure cooker situations, a safety valve. Davis is a passionate manager but he does not have the players. However he would like nothing better than more games like the first one against Portsmouth. Derby will be followed closely in the US because of Benny Feilhaber, an exciting prospect in the national squad. DOP 5
Sevilla claimed their fifth trophy in about a year with a 5-3 victory over Real Madrid in second leg of the Spanish Super Cup.Frédéric Kanouté hit a hat trick and Renato scored two.Sevilla has won back-to-back UEFA Cups, one Spanish Cup and the European Super Cup in the last 15 months.
Nearly 67,000 fans came out to see this match and they were not disappointed. David Beckham came out to play and put on a tantalizing display of dead ball precision. The man that all the fans had come out to watch seemed fired up and feisty. It helped because this match was much anticipated nationally. Three Beckham guided lasers zeroed onto their man and the LA Galaxy matched the NY Red Bulls in a pulsating ding dong battle. It was heading towards a draw till Angel pulled the winner out for NY in stoppage time. It was great theater.
To put it in context, the defence was shoddy and the goalkeeping at times was terrible, although Joe Cannon pulled off some spectacular saves. A few of Beckham's passes were errant and one led to a Jozy Altidore goal.
He was also guilty of very poor defending standing in the box with Van den Bergh moving the ball around the LA defence that led to the Mathis volley. On another occasion he lost the ball to Mathis almost leading to a goal. My player of the match was Jozy Altidore. He is powerful, quick, uses both feet, although more comfortable with the left, has a cannon shot, and is technically a very sound player. His second goal was a beauty.
What does this match augur for the future? We see this as an event because in its star power, intensity, number of fans and goals scored, it was unparalleled. There have been very few games like this. I think it does one immediate thing and that is take off pressure instantly from Alexi Lalas and Frank Yallop for the hitherto no show Beckham, providing some vindication. Does it save the LA Galaxy from the cellar? No. The Galaxy has a porous defence and that is something Beckham can do very little about. The match also does not solve the problem of his chronically injured ankle that will limit Beckham to a match time decision and impact his future.
The bigger question. Does this mean it is going to become sexy for people to come out and watch MLS? An additional 45,000 came to see the match because of Beckham. A number of them were what the English would dismiss as the prawn sandwich brigade opportunistically following a fashionable phenomenon. They will not show up for the next match. But that would be entirely missing the point out here.
From the standpoint of MLS viability, Beckham is akin to a conduit. It is in players like Jozy Altidore wherein lies the saliency of the MLS. In a big match like this drawing national attention because of Beckham, Altidore’s performance spotlighted what the future MLS brings to the fans. For a number of those who had come to stargaze Beckham, Altidore’s performance would have been an eye opener, a display of Deion Sanders like athletic grandeur. The type of display that make fair-weather fans want to come back for more because of the type of player he is. A gradual uptick in the attendance would be a great achievement.
Fernando Torres's first competitive goal for Liverpool was a beauty.
Apart from the dubious penalty awarded by ref Rob Styles - there was also a Graham Poll kind of three card trick that he pulled off during the game.More here...
Jens Lehmann is playing like as if his mind is elsewhere. Entirely too casual. Man Utd is struggling and suddenly the Premiership is wide open with clubs like Man City and Wigan shockingly on top. Arsenal could have come away with full points against Blackburn but Lehmann committed another costly blunder.
The last thing you need is a blundering goalie in a club that is going to have a bit of a struggle cobbling together goals. The margin of victory will be slim at best. Two blunders and two goals. Arsenal was able to pull its way through against Fulham but against tougher clubs it will be a more uphill battle. There is one way to do this. Bench Lehmann and give Lukacz Fabianski a start.
It was a beautiful little cross by SWP which caught the Liverpool defense napping. There was some incidental contact between Carragher and Florent Malouda and the Chelsea winger went down but he was nowhere near the ball to do any damage.
It hardly raised any eyebrows as Drogba chased the ball down and the rest of the Chelsea players never really reacted. But Rob Styles had different ideas and whistled for a penalty. It was quite unbelievable. Lampard gratefully accepted the gift and Chelsea equalized.
Liverpool went up a goal scored by Fernando Torres in a lovely bit of hustle and pace when he blew past Tal Ben Haim and angled his shot past Cech after as he was put through with a gem of a pass by Gerrard. It was Torres first goal and it could not have come at a better place or against a better opponent.
Other than that it was a grim and dreary game mostly fought midfield. Riise is a bonafide hoofer who kills all chances with that one foot speed. And Chelsea became predictable in attack as everyone tried to find Drogba who was quite effectively shut down by Carragher. Things picked up a bit for Liverpool when Babel came on and he showed a few great touches including a cross that Riise should have been able to put away but Cech closed down quickly.
Chelsea needs to put away games because early next year key players like Salomon Kalou and Didier Drogba will be missing for the Africa Cup for at least a couple of weeks. They are now five points ahead of Man Utd which this early is huge.
Torres showed his talent but he also showed a few terrible flaws when he was not able to provide a decent pass and showed a penchant for soliciting cheap fouls. He was given a earful by Terry when he tried drawing the Chelsea captain into committing one. But this match was overshadowed by a micromanaging Rob Styles who doled out the yellow cards and fouls in an arbitrary fashion.
....and you can get a look at Lehmann's second ghastly blunder of the season here...
The season could not be sweeter for City as they fell Utd with a Geovanni goal scored in the 32nd minute. Utd won all the stats except the one that counts. They are 16th in the table with the season now looking very long. If Chelsea and the Special One score over Liverpool then they are looking at a 7 point hole unless Rafa and Torres have other plans.
I think right now Sir Alex is speed dialing Nicholas Anelka's agent to get Le Sulk before the transfer window closes down. Anelka might be keen to ditch a sinking Bolton. Or he is conferencing Wenger to get his thoughts on a team that hogs the ball but fails to score.
We might see Eduardo Da Silva making his English debut today when the Gunners travel to Blackburn. The last time they met a strike by Benni McCarthy halted their FA Cup progress and prompted Cesc to trash talk Mark Hughes.
Da Silva was the biggest Arsenal purchase this summer and he will partner RVP up front. An Arsenal concern is the lack of width on the right. Emmanuel Eboue is still transitioning into a wide midfielder and Walcott although he has great pace and good ball skills has some difficulties translating that into meaningful ball service. Arsenal has a number of players operating through the center including Fabregas, Rosicky, and Hleb. Clichy is coming along fantastically well on the left and he has really provided a spark up that flank.
Blackburn's strength is its defence and Andre Ooijer, Ryan Nelsen, Aaron Mokoena, and Brett Emerton will try and bottle up the middle from where the Arsenal attack will flow. Wenger might again think of using Bendtner whose aerial presence and quiescent goal attacking capabilities might be a better match up against a physical Blackburn defence. He provided some highlight moments against Fulham.
The Blackburn attack will center around new transfer Roque Santa Cruz, the Paraguayan international who scored on debut in the UEFA cup. Benni McCarthy might make an appearance recovering from concussion. Hughes also has the highly rated Euro U21 top scorer Maceo Ritgers who can provide a lift to the attack. David Bentley will be hoping for a big match against his former club giving the attack extra width on the right.
The encouraging sign is that Arsenal has so far found ways to put the ball into the back of the net. And it has been done by players not known for goalscoring. But we will take what we can get and in the end that is what counts.
The most infamous back heel in League history which saw Denis Law score against his former club sending them into the second division in 1973. Law later said of the goal: "I have seldom felt so depressed in my life as I did that weekend. After 19 years of giving everything I had to score goals, I had finally scored one which I almost wished I hadn't."
Long suffering City fans can look forward with hope today against their nemesis, Man Utd. The Red Devils are limping in with Wayne Rooney missing, a suspended Cristiano Ronaldo, and Carlos Tevez, who has had to be force fed into the attack. Man Utd has only managed two draws.
Meanwhile, City's stingy defense just got infinitely better with new signings Vedran Corluka and Javier Garrido and their attack received much needed heft with Elano, Martin Petrov, Geovanni, and Rodolfo Bianchi. All the new signings got to see action against West Ham and Bianchi and then Geovanni scoring goals in the win. Man City also won against Derby and are now on top of the table. Sven's boys are riding a high.
With Rooney and Ronaldo out, Utd have lost a lot of speed up front. Nani has looked good and appears to be goal scoring threat every time he penetrates the box but his accuracy has been off. He will partner Tevez. Owen Hargreaves makes his debut behind Scholes and Giggs. City builds its attacks through Elano and Petrov.
The adjustment that the tireless Elano needs to make is that he often anticipates City players to be in position for his first time passes and they do not necessarily pan out. But the creative catalyst comes from the left in Martin Petrov who relishes taking on defenders one on one a la Ronaldo minus the petulance . City tends to give up quite a bit of possession this way to make way for the suddenly free flowing soccer that they are playing.
25 minutes into the game and it is 0-0 with Man Utd almost having a 3:1 advantage in possession. Makes you wonder about those Arsenal Man Utd matches which should be a ball hogging tasty treat.
A closer look at Elano >>
Harry Redknapp's record signing of former Rennes striker John Utaka, reportedly costing Pompey in the region of £8m has paid off so far.
Utaka has scored two goals and has helped set up two others. Pompey's emphatic win over Bolton was sealed when Utaka turned the jets on midfield and outran the Bolton defenders, slotting the ball past Jaaskelainen. Earlier, Utaka in a nice bit of ball control, deflected a pass onto Nwankwo Kanu, who opened his season's scoring, making it a Nigerian one-two.
Utaka has had a long trek before moving to the Premiership, his career began in 1995 with hometown club Rangers Club of Enugu before moving onto Egyptian club Ismaili. He helped them reach the CAF final in 2000. He also played for Al Sadd in Qatar helping them to reach the semi-final of the Asian Cup Winners' Cup in 2002.
His big European break came when he joined up Ligue 1 club Lens on a reported $2m transfer. His Lens stay was fairly unspectacular and in the three years he only scored eight goals. His career really took off when he moved to Rennes and replaced injured Swiss forward. In February 2006 he scored two consecutive hat-tricks against his former club Lens and Lyon. It made the headlines and put him firmly up in the transfer market.
More specifically he became Harry Redknapp's target. He and Preston North End forward David Nugent joined the club this summer and Pompey has looked very good so far winning two and forcing a huge draw against Man Utd.
Oliver Kahn kept the ball out of his goal but a record 4 goals went in at the other end in Bayern Munich's game against Werder Bremen.Kahn was quick to remind everyone that his team would the team to beat.
Miroslav Klose joined the growing list of injured players after a hard tackle by Naldo less than four minutes into the game. Naldo got a yellow card and Klose did not return for the second half and will also sit out the friendly against England next week.This will be some consolation for McClaren who has a long list of players injured or unavailable.Germany coach Joachim Loew will be without three strikers - Germany's Player of the Year Mario Gomez, Lukas Podolski and Jan Schlaudraff and three midfielders Michael Ballack, Torsten Frings and Tim Borowski .
Samuel Eto'o on Friday rejected the "Fantastic Four" label given by the media to him and Barcelona's three other star strikers.
"It is flattering but that can be a bit deceiving, look what happened to the 'Galacticos'," he said -referring to the nickname given to Real Madrid after they signed a series of star players at the start of the decade.
More on that story here...
Another headline botchup to rival the Beckham penalty kick one.This time we have Jovan Kirovski 's name being spelt as Kirvorski in a headline from ESPNsoccernet.Jovan Kirovski scored two goals in Colorado Rapids 3 - 0 win over New England Revolution.Goals here...
Maybe he has to score a few more for the headline composers at ESPN to get it right.
The list of McClaren's walking wounded is growing.Steven Gerrard has joined Rooney on the sidelines with a hairline fracture of his big toe.Henry Winter writing in the Telegraph fears worse when he says ."A beach has been built this summer in the walled garden of England's elegant Hertfordshire hotel and, given Steve McClaren's current scarcity of luck, one of his players will probably trip over a sandcastle, get trapped in a deckchair or stung by a stray jellyfish when the squad gather on Monday."
However injured toe or not Steven Gerrard will nevertheless be playing against Chelsea on Sunday.But he won't be playing for England in a friendly against Germany three days later.I'm not sure if that's putting the cart before the horse but Benitez says he is sure McClaren won't miss Gerrard that much and that he will understand.
Beckham scored one of his signature tune free kicks from 25 metres out.His first goal for Galaxy came in the 27th minute of their 2-0 victory in their SuperLiga semifinal.He later added an assist when he setup Landon Donovan early in the second half.Writeup here and Video below.
...and this link will take you to a headline calling the above goal a penalty kick.Someone is a bit confused about the finer details of the game there..!
Musically enhanced highlights of Manchester United's second draw in as many games.The 1 -1 draw against Portsmouth also saw Ronaldo getting a red card for a head butt on Richard Hughes .Chelsea came back from a goal down to beat Reading 2 -1(great goals from Lampard and Drogba) and have opened a four point lead over their rivals.Man U will go into their next game missing not one but two R's - Ronaldo and Rooney.More here...
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Arsenal's opened its CL campaign against Sparta Prague with a win and they won ugly which is a beautiful thing. They were not their fluent self but they put away their chances when they got them even though it took them sometime to warm up. This is the second game that they won late in the second half which would indicate that this squad is still finding its groove but the encouraging thing is that they are winning.
The scoring is coming from players who are not exactly known for their sharp shooting which is ideal because it takes pressure off RVP. Cesc got off the mark early this season with his first goal against Sparta. Hleb got his second goal in less than a week and is on a bit of a roll. The assists were provided by Clichy who continues his bright form and Bacary Sagna who showed that he was not shy coming forward to put pressure on the Sparta defenders.
For a club that has been slated to break into the top four, you could not have asked for a worse start. Spurs lose to Sunderland in their opener and now, Everton. They also lost Younus Kaboul and Dimitar Berbatov to injury. This in addition to their starting defenders Ledley King, Michael Dawson, and Gareth Bale. Spark plug Aaron Lennon is also MIA.
Rafael Benitez made six changes to the team that beat Aston Villa on the opening day of the Premier League season last Saturday and that included bringing Peter Crouch back into the squad.Andriy Voronin struck late in the first half to get the only goal of the game.More here..
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Carlos Tevez will be filling in the gap left by Rooney as Man U look for their first win.
I don't think there are too many clubs that can claim that their fortunes rest on a serious consideration of an extradition treaty between England and in Thaksin Shinawatra's case, Thailand.
If however the Thai government threat is taken seriously then Thaksin's failure to appear in court in a land graft case and possible conviction could become a legal concern for the EPL. Even if he dodges this one, the government is lining up 12 separate charges of corruption which would have to be all considered potential ownership rule breakers.
Big rumour speculations that Alves is poised to join Chelsea after being left out of the Sevilla squad that is preparing to meet AEK Athens in their UEFA cup fixture.
In the wake of Rooney's third foot injury there's some sort of a scientific enquiry afoot [pardon the pun] about whether lighter football boots are to blame.
Nike meanwhile who are responsible for the T90 Laser's Powerzone boot that Rooney was wearing when he keeled over are denying that their boots could be to blame.
Headlines like the "Beckham - The Idle Idol" and news stories that begin "English megastar David Beckham resumed his tour of American soccer benches on Sunday. . . . " are an indication of a significant loss of enthusiasm among the fans for Beckham and his famous injured ankle.
Bad news for England and Manchester United.Rooney has a hairline fracture in his left foot.Thus England who face crucial Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel on September 8 and Russia, four days later, at Wembley - will have to do without him.The injury occured when Reading defender Michael Duberry had accidentally landed on his foot as the pair challenged for the ball in the area.This is the third time that Rooney has gone and broken something -having already suffered two broken metatarsals in his career.
The three players that were subjects of intense Arsenal transfer speculations in the off season all acquitted themselves extremely well as Obafemi Martins scored a brace against Bolton, including a highlight bicycle kick. Martins was the subject of a reported transfer between Bolton and Arsenal after Arsene Wenger expressed his admiration for the Nigerian and former Inter striker. Nicholas Anelka, who was himself linked to an Arsenal return scored the only goal for Bolton.
Ryan Babel began his Premiership debut dishing of a nifty pass for a Gerrard strike at goal and himself volleying a blistering shot at Taylor who just managed to fend it off. Babel's introduction at the expense of Pennant enhanced Liverpools' game against Aston Villa. Babel had in the past expressed his admiration of Wenger and his desire to play for Arsenal. He was touted as a possible cog in widening Arsenal's game.
Florent Malouda was also in the hunt as Chelsea. Liverpool, and Arsenal showed an interest in the Lyons winger who earned the Ligue's POY award in the 2006 season. Malouda scored his first Premiership goal in Chelsea's win against Birmingham City.
Martin Jol called his teams display match against Sunderland "boring." The critique does not augur well for the potentially explosive Spurs attack that managed just three shots on goal. But then again this is a Sunderland team whose most famous personality happens to be their manager.
It is said that soccer is the one sport that a coach exerts the least influence. Once the game begins it is all up to the players. No time outs. No hand holding. But maybe, just maybe the force or the cult of personality is so strong that it permeates the team. Which is true for Roy Keane. It almost seemed like Keane pushed Chopra's leg forward when the striker got the match winner in stoppage time. A draw against a Spurs team would have been creditable enough. But Keane was never known for just rubbing your nose in the mud.
Sunderland did not make too many big signings apart from Michael Chopra and Kieran Richardson in the off season. Sunderland clawed its way back from Championship relegation to Premiership contention under Keane. Most of the players reflect Keane's low key hard nosed blue collar ethos, a combination of journeymen and Sunderland stalwarts, typified by Dean Whitehead, Nyron Nosworthy, Graham Kavanaugh, and Carlos Edwards.
I certainly think that he would not have much in common with present day Man Utd, nor would he have much tolerance. And today's display against Reading would have affirmed his belief that costly talent in itself is no substitute for the hard work necessary to win. This well maybe the reason why Kieran Richardson and Liam Miller who were reported to be in Keane's doghouse when at Man Utd joined Sunderland.
Sunderland will win a few, draw a lot more, and not lose too many, but it will do enough to be a thorn in the big clubs sides as it supplants Bolton in the fear factor as a spoiler. Sunderland has the most optimistic fans and their winning start against a club that is favoured to break into the top four will have done little to dampen the optimism. But the reason for optimism is entirely because of the present manager's cult of personality. Slackers beware.
Brave, brave team. Steve Coppell's Reading withstood Man Utd at Old Trafford as the Red Devils put on a suffocating display. It was a siege as Man Utd stormed Reading's bastions, took the drawbridge down, put up the climbing ladders, as surge after surge could not in the end breech the entrance. All the possession in the world, a man down, and a referee seeming only too eager to give free kicks, could not provide Man Utd its three points. What a difference from their 5-0 swamping of Fulham in last season's opener which set the tone for their championship run.
Reading gave Man Utd all the space to roam and threw bodies at the back and Ulises De la Cruz, Duberry, Shorey, and Ingimarsson, did a fantastic job of keeping the marauding Red Devils away. And when they were breeched, Marcus Hahnemann turned in one of his finest performances in goal. What was truly amazing was his gathering the ball so cleanly on his first touch because any spillage would have resulted in a goal.
Dave Kitson's introduction for Kevin Doyle was expected but what was not expected was his foul on Evra would result in his expulsion within a minute of his appearance. But it makes Reading's heroics even starker as they were reduced to ten men with more than a half hour left.
I think this is the sort of game that gets talked about a lot when you put together a season. Last season's run contained losses against Arsenal which did not in the end affect the final result but Man Utd could not have been too happy to have lost to one of their fiercest rivals. This match should have been put away but was not. And so they drop two valuable points to their competitors early on but more importantly there might be this nagging feeling that their high octane attack can be stopped by a team as determined and disciplined as Reading. The flip side is that Steve Coppell should ensure against a let down after this heroic display.
Arsenal 2 Fulham 1.
To watch Arsenal start this season against Fulham was to watch another piece of theater as the ridiculous, the sublime, and the strange all played out in 90+ minutes. It left you with a myriad of emotions ranging from despair to delight. Jens Lehmann's bone headed fumbling which led to a disastrous goal within a minute of the start of play when all that was needed was a simple clearance brought back memories of other ways Arsenal have managed to shoot themselves in the foot. This time it was David Healy, another one of Laurie Sanchez's NI signings that gratefully accepted Lehmann's ghastly little flub.
And then it was deja vu all over again as wave after wave of beautiful Arsenal build ups broke down with one pass too many, the errant final pass, too few options up front, a physical Fulham defense led by Zat Knight and Carlos Bocanegra winning the aerial challenges, and underscoring Arsenal's lack of inches in attack. I became tired of hearing how good Tony Warner was at goal. It was not Warner's good goalkeeping as much as Arsenal shooting the ball straight to him after that extra pass ensured Warner was in the right position to stop the ball. He is a journeyman goalie, not Petr Cech, fer cryin' out loud!
Wenger's introduction of Nicklas Bendtner very late in the game was the key to Arsenal's pulling this game out. Wenger must have seen how the Arsenal attack was being shunted aside by the taller Fulham defense. The Danish lad has height, strength, quick feet, and was physically assertive. He went up against Zak Knight and Carlos Bocanegra winning the aerial challenges and showed (gasp!) good goal poaching instincts. You could see the Fulham defense becoming less sure of themselves with Bendtner around. I think it was this bit of doubt that paved the way for Toure's sizzling little run, being brought down by Bocanegra desperation tackle, and Van Persie's penalty kick equalizer.
The ball was then hogged by Jack Warner who would not let it go. Flamini stripped him off it and a strange rugby like scrum ensued with both teams milling around trying to tear the ball away. Papa Dioup came up with it and Fabregas chased him down swiping the ball from his hands. All part of the age of Aquarius. It resulted in three yellow cards.
Lehmann must have heaved a sigh of relief that was bottled up for almost 83 minutes. But he had to deal with Toure, the hero of a few minutes earlier almost scored an own goal in a typical casual mix up that seemed to plague Arsenal's defense in this match.
But the best little piece of play came from "long overdue for a big game Alexander Hleb", as he chested down a nice lofted pass from Cesc, stayed on his feet after being challenged by Zat Knight, and angled his shot across the goal mouth, finding the left corner of the net. Nice bit of work and the best part was the undersized Hleb managed to stay on his feet.
Eboue still has some ways to go before he can rove effectively on the right and transition into an attacking midfielder. Walcott again showed great pace and some nice skills but I have always found his cross and shot making decisions suspect. He really needs to work on those to become threatening. Gallas needs to provide defense and his involvement in the game should be more than arguing with the referee and poking his nose in an altercation. Bakary Sagna performed very well and the Auxerre lad showed why he is so highly rated by Les Bleus. But the performer today was Nicklas Bendnter who in his 10 minute appearance showed that he could provide an exclamation point to all those dazzling Arsenal build ups.
This was shaping to be a match of two defining mistakes. Martin Laursen's own goal and Jamie Carragher's handball that led to the Gareth Barry's penalty kick. That was still the 87th minute when a Stilian Petrov foul on Steve Gerrard gave Pool a free kick. And Gerrard punished Villa with a perfectly placed shot that squeezed its way over Taylor's outstretched finger tips. It was a bit of magic that will most likely be played throughout this season.
Liverpool has some real hoofers in Gerrard and Riise and with these two you can expect some stratospheric blasts but as the free kick demonstrated, when Stevie Gerrard gets it right, on those occasions, it looks sublime.
It was a testy match with a Bouma Pennant dust up setting things on edge. Liverpool's attack looked the more dangerous with the hustling Kuyt and explosive Fernando Torres. And Kuyt's graft paid off as he chased down a Torres shot that Taylor managed to keep away. His center led to Laursen's reflexive own goal. But then Liverpool disappeared for a lengthy period of time in the second half as Villa exerted more control over the ball. Ashley Young turned in a dazzling performance down the left that had Agger and Carragher second guessing his moves. Villa really looked close to equalizing till Benitez introduced Ryan Babel taking Pennant out who otherwise did very little of note.
Babel created a chance for Gerrard, took a stinging shot that had Taylor just about saving another goal, and brought more fluidity to the attack which looked like it was petering out. I think Rafa will most likely start Babel instead of Pennant as the disparity in talent becomes obvious. Torres was good in patches but if this match is any indication, he does disappear a lot. If memory serves me correctly, this was what happened when he played for Spain in the World Cup. The Liverpool defense had some real problems getting the ball out of danger. They were lucky that John Carew given his strength and height, lacked assertiveness during the times the ball was fed to the box, resulting in few chances.
I think the player in my mind was Villa's Ashley Young. He should be a regular England pick up. And Ryan Babel showed his talent in that cameo appearance.
Elano. Corluka. Onohua. Geovanni. Bianchi. Garrido. Bojinov. Petrov.
The late season signings all paid off for Thaksin Shinawatra and Sven Goran Erickson as Man City's squad with a roving Elano fed a beautiful ball into the box and a sliding Rolando Bianchi found the net in the first half. A shell shocked West Ham slowly worked its way back at the end of the first half. Defender Vedran Corluka making his debut showed his great strength in a vintage moment when Freddie Ljungberg tried turning him around as Corluka planted his 6'3" frame in his way.
West Ham had its moments in the second half as City narrowly when substitute Matthew Etherington controlled a beautiful little chip by Zamora and then sliced a pinpoint cross across the goal line with a scrambling Ljungberg arriving a bit too late to slide the ball home. But West Ham did not do themselves any favours as they went into the heart of the City defense where Micah Richards and Richard Dunne turned the long balls away with impeccably timed headers. All the West Ham possession, and there was plenty, turned out ineffectual.
Richards is the best English talent in central defense right now and Steve McLaren must have been extremely pleased with what he saw. Sven Goran's second half substitutions paid off as Onohua outmuscled a slowly reacting West Ham defense and found Geovanni (substituting or Elano), who controlled and laid the ball past a diving Robert Green for the second City goal. But the best City player was Martin Petrov whose creative runs down the left kept the Hammers guessing. He took on Anton Ferdinand turned him around and his little flick was met by Bojinov whose header just sailed away from the crossbar. Garrido hustled the right flank bumping Bellamy off stride.
Great start for City as they get their three points. For West Ham, the bright spot was the return of Dean Ashton, who played the second half and got a few good looks at goal. But there was little else to celebrate.
The Man Utd -Man City derby got a whole lot more interesting with this new look City squad.
19-year-old Ivan Rakitic scored after a solo run to give Schalke a 2-2 draw against defending champion Stuttgart in the opening round of the Bundesliga's 45th season.The other goals can be seen here... .
West German goal-scoring legend Gerd"the bomber" Muller said that his record of 40 Bundesliga goals in one season would never be broken.
He said .."The record of 40 goals will never be beaten, I believe.Many people say that it was easier to score goals in my day, but that is wrong.With today's defences containing four players, it is much easier for a centre-forward to score.In my day, there was a sweeper and a defender to worry about, I was always marked by two players."
...he took the shot about a metre or two from the half line.The game was a european champion's league qualifier between Levadia Tallinn and Red Star Belgrade .
And if that hapless goalkeeper was left reeling from what came as a bolt from the blue here's another even more hapless goalkeeper.Marco of Belenenses managed to keep Real Madrid out of his goal for 89 minutes and then went and let one go through his legs. Video and match report.
Nani scored a great goal in Man U's 3 - 0 win against Glentoran in Belfast.And then he went and did the flip anyway - ban or no ban.The reason he flipped with such impunity was that Fergie was not among those present at the match - he himself having been banned from attending football matches for a while by his wife.
Barcelona continue their conquest of Asia. A backheel from Ronaldinho was followed by a through pass from Eto'o' which cut through the defense like a laser beam.Giovani completed the move - putting the ball past Tetsuya Enomoto, who, up to that point had looked sharp in goal for Yokohama.
If Dani Alves joins Chelsea then the odds of Man Utd winning the Premiership again, got a whole lot slimmer. With Malouda blistering the left flank and Alves cranking up the right, the outside inside game will have defenders back pedaling all the way to the goal, as they open up the game for the best finisher in the business, Didier Drogba.
Except that Drogba does not have to do it alone, as Malouda and Alves are perfectly capable of pouring it in. Malouda showed his form in the match against Man Utd and Alves finished off a perfect one two with Vagner Love against Argentina in the Copa America final. I can just see Neville, Rio, and Wes Brown with their hands on their hips looking at each other.
The Sevilla transfer will make him more expensive than Malouda but it will introduce the EPL to one of the most versatile players in the world today. He plays everywhere - and in the same game, too. He is, says this morning's AS: "Three players in one: a central midfield playmaker with a winger's soul who plays at full-back."
He also brings a zestful and mercurial personality to a rather dour Chelsea side whose manager eschews any individuality to the ultimate good of the team. Alves will also likely introduce us to the less savoury aspects of his game, he was amongst the players with the most fouls and dives in the Liga. All these fit into a player that commits himself to giving his best. If he arrives at Stamford Bridge he might just become the most talked about transfer this season.
Dani Alves YouTube clip >>
Alexander Pato most recently seen in the Brazil U20 squad that crashed out of the World Cup has been snapped up by AC Milan for 20m euros. He is now in Milan undergoing a physical and because he is still below 18 years will be eligible to play for the senior squad in January 2008.
The former Internacional striker joins Brazilian icons Kaka and his idol, Ronaldo as Milan fortifies its attack.
Two words. Roy Keane. Find out why the Mackems believe that they can finish in the top ten.
And in the opposite direction, the Magpies stumble into the Premiership with injuries to key players, as disgruntled fans attack Kieron Dyer's house in a transfer that goes awry, and a boss who may not endear himself to the St. James faithful.
I am really looking forward to the Sunderland Newcastle games which should pit two of the most combative personalities against each other. Keane seems to have mellowed but still look for some off field action between him and Allardyce.
Chelsea's most expensive summer import Florent Malouda scored this great goal in Chelsea's Community shield game against Manchester United.
And an interesting comparision between Malouda's moment of debut brilliance and Andriy Shevchenko's moment of brilliance (video)against Liverpool last season - and subsequent failure to live up to expectations -can be read here....
Villa probably has the most under rated midfielder in Gareth Barry who continues to delight and surprise with his matchplay, meanwhile all under the radar. He is Villa's fulcrum and showed what he could do as they blanked Inter. This is the year that Martin O'Neill can bring forth his managerial skills that made him a Celtic legend after a rebuilding season as a number of players left the club.
If one had to pick a surprise team, it might have to be Villa. They have lost a duo of experienced Nothern Ireland players to Laurie Sanchez's Fulham. Steven Davis, their long time strength in midfield and Aaron Hughes, a versatile defender, have gone, as they became less influential under O'Neill.
The rejiggered Villans defense rose above themselves in forcing 17 draws and conceded just 41 goals is still intact with central defender, Olof Mellberg, their feisty heart and soul of the Villans still around. They must hope that Martin Laursen, the tall Danish defender who has been around for ages, but never played a complete season remains healthy, as Wilfred Bouma, at left back, continues to improve, after injuries and loss of form, forced Gareth Barry to take over the left back spot for many games. However, Martin O'Neill is understood to be close to signing a deal for central defender Curtis Davies, which should see the highly rated WBA player land up at Villa Park.
In midfield, Nigel Reo-Coker, the England U21 captain, recently transfered from the Hammers, whose lackadaisical performance under Pardew and Curbishley should turn around under O'Neill boosts Stillian Petrov, who started out very strong but faded as the season went on, in his distribution. The three pronged midfield is complete with Barry taking over dead ball duties
The attack shows glimpses of greatness and could have some future England squaddies with Gabriel Agbonlahor (tipped however to play for Scotland) and his devastating acceleration and Ashley Young, who provides a lot of assists. But the focal point is built around John Carew, the giant Norwegian national, a larger version of Didier Drogba, surprisingly nimble of foot, coming in for the injured Milan Baros. Carew and Young should have their first full season under O'Neill's tutelage. Marlon Harewood, another Hammer provides yet one more attacking option as does Luke Moore and Shaun Maloney.
This squad looks a lot more cohesive and it should have no difficulties breaking into the upper half of the Premiership. Tomas Sorenson is solid in goal and Villa might get another goalie talent in Hearts Craig Gordon. I agree with Barry, Villa should improve significantly this season, but is a still a couple of seasons away from a Eurropean berth.
Bottomline: Gabriel Agbonlahor is going to have a fantastic season. It will be difficult to keep him away from goal.
Another magnificent free kick from Ronaldinho.Giovanni dos Santos and Andres Iniesta were the other two goal scorers in Barcelona's 3 - 0 win over Beijing Guo'an on sunday.The chinese fans at the match on sunday were not allowed to swear at Ronaldinho for scoring this goal because the cops had given them strict instructions to keep the language clean.
All three goals of the match can be seen here..
Having started their Asian tour on a winning note Barcelona continue now with a game against the Yokohama Marinos in Japan, and then against a Hong Kong all-star team.Whether the fans there will be allowed to swear will depend on the stand that the respective administrations take regarding the touchy issue of freedom of expression..!
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You really can't teach penalty shootouts because it all comes to mental edge and this part of the game seems to be Chelsea's achilles heel. Man Utd won the Community Shield as they won on penalty shootout, 3-0. Van Der Saar showed his class while Chelsea just continued where it left off in the CL semifinal against Liverpool. Florent Malouda scored his first goal hustling pass Rio and poking the ball past VDS.
Man, these Chelsea Man Utd games just stink don't they? These two managers just hate to lose to each other and the matches become a drag.
Reports are that Man U and You Tube have merged to create a soccer video jockey behemoth, Tube Man U, that has largely eliminated the use of talent scouts on the ground. Instead, fathers who are proud of their sons soccer prowess will now post their videos on Tube Man U which will be viewed by experts like SAF and Man Utd's estimated fan base of 75 million. Labeling them as the next Rooney or Owen will be an essential feature. Videos will be considered by Man U with rights to a first offer before being turned to other clubs. Man Utd hopes to corner 90% of the world talent this way. Rhain Davis is just the first of many.
While talented MLS players will always be a target for European clubs, there has been very few players who have singled them out so avidly like Freddy Adu. It is telling that Adu reserved his best for the U20 squad and came to the attention of Benfica following his stellar tournament. But his MLS career turned out quite humdrum. First with DC United where he ran afoul with disciplinary issues under Peter Nowak and then at RSL, where he frankly looked like he was sleep walking. One goal in 900 minutes of play. You could see where his priorities lay and it was not the MLS.
So here we have Beckham who is brought in as a symbol of a resurgent MLS, whereas Freddy Adu is backpedaling as fast as he can to Europe. Another example of a mixed message.
So Freddy Adu, the teenage phenom, often misguidedly compared to Pele, is leaving for a bigger club in a bigger league. Benfica paid $2m for the services of the RSL striker. He is now in Portugal apparently apartment hunting with his mother.
Benfica was home for the legendary Eusebio, the Black Pearl, Portugal's best known player. It was also the first club to break the Real Madrid stranglehold on the European championships, when it enjoyed its finest decade in the 1960s and 1970s. And it leads in the number of Portugese cups won. But of late it has gone through a slump. although there has been a revival of sorts with a Cup win in 2005. It usually places third after Porto and Sporting Club de Portugal.
So the big question is whether Adu who would have definitely seen protracted bench time or reserve duty even if Man Utd had by some miracle signed him on, gets to play in the Benfica starting line up? Well, Benfica might have not won enough silverware in the recent past but it does not lack outstanding players.
It is a club that till recently had Simao Sabroso, the outstanding playmaker who recently left for Atletico Madrid. Adu's compatriots include Rui Costa, the Portugal and former Fiorentina and AC Milan midfielder rated on talent as one of his generations's finest playmakers, Nuno Gomes, a striker who has been having a successful Euro 2008 campaign. Benfica has also benefited from additions to their midfield with two highly rated players from Rosario Central, Angel Di Maria, the Argentinian U20 attacking midfielder who drew praise for his performance in the recently held World Cup and Andres Diaz. Oscar Cardozo, of Panama, signed this season became the most expensive striker in Benfica history. Then there is Petit, another Portugal national team regular who is their go to player for dead ball situations. Kostas Katsouranis, the holding midefielder who led Greece to their shocking Euro 2004 victory over Portugal. And not to overlook the talented Manuel Fernandez who maybe returning to Benfica after his loan spell at Everton.
Given the plethora of talent in the Benfica squad, Adu might see brief spells on the field but I doubt if he could get into the starting squad at this juncture.
Fernando Torres scored his first goal for Liverpool when he picked up a beauty of a pass from Yossi Benayoun.Steven Gerrard doubled the score with another goal in the second half.Match report here.
Meanwhile both Liverpool and Arsenal were handed tricky Champions League qualifying ties.Liverpool will have to face French club Toulouse and Arsenal have to face Czech side Sparta Prague.More on that here..
16 minutes. That is the sum total of Becks appearance. You know if Alexi Lalas was at all concerned about Beckham's ankle healing properly he would have asked him to wait out this season. It might be a bit too late for the LA Galaxy to make it to the playoffs and having Beckham might have not made much of a difference. However, it would have given the ankle time to heal and would have stopped all the second guessing and finger pointing going on.
So get used to these headlines. This weekend Beckham flies in with the Galaxy but he probably will not play. To protect themselves from the wrath of many who thought that this might be his debut, Toronto issued this statement " As with any other player under contract with either club participating in the game, should Mr. Beckham be unable to play in the game, no refunds will be issued.''
For skeptics not sold on soccer, this may well be the biggest reason. I guess no one considered that Beckham's no shows could actually cause soccer more harm than good.
In early October the Galaxy will also play friendlies against the Minnesota Thunder and the Vancouver Whitecaps of the USL First Division. Even though the setup does maximize Beckham's star power, the schedule's hectic enough to evoke sympathy even from Toronto head coach Mo Johnston.
"You're asking too much for a person to come into a new country, a new climate, and come in and play all those games," Johnston said.
I have no idea what Mo Johnston is talking about. This is Beckham who has played in the most rigorous league in the world, the Premiership with 38 matches in the season, a number of pre-season friendlies, the FA Cup, the CL matches, and during the time of the Euro or the World Cup, the qualifiers and finals, all added up could mean 75 matches for a player. In one week, depending on the FA, Premiership, CL and UEFA schedules, a club like Man Utd can end up playing three matches a week.
I don't think Florentino Perez was especially concerned when Beckham came to Real in 2003, whether he liked the schedule, the weather, or paella. At 35m euros you were expected to play.
You can expect sympathy for his ankle on which the US soccer has vested its future but don't try and build up the MLS in its intensity, a langorous schedule that allows Beckham to attend all the parties and mixers that Posh wants.
Simon Kuper first met Florent Malouda at Camp Guingamp four years ago playing alongside team mate Didier Drogba. They played another club from Le Havre. Kuper recalls "Malouda played terribly. Guingamp lost 2-1. They looked like a village team."
Now after being voted as the Ligue player of the year. Kuper says
"He has no weaknesses: he can dribble, tackle, run, score and cross with either foot. He can play in most positions. A stringy 5ft 10in tall, he looks as if he designed his own body to play professional football. Like most of Lyon’s players, he is fit enough to play two games consecutively. (Instead of buying Malouda, Chelsea could have cut out the middleman and signed Lyon’s brilliant fitness coach Robert Duverne.)"
It is quite an article because Kuper is not an easily impressed writer but Malouda seems to have everything it takes to be a success including being one of the fittest soccer players on this planet so the increased rigour of the Premiership should pose no problem. He is also a good soldier which should fit right in with the micromanaging Jose Mourinho.
As he told the newspaper L’Equipe: “Since my arrival in metropolitan France, I’ve erased certain traits of my character to avoid being rejected by the system, to the point where I get reproached for nonchalance even though I’m an electric battery.”
Which gives rise to a question: Malouda sounds like a cipher channeling certain statements on demand. Does he have the fire? Will he live up to the hype?
Simon Kuper thinks so. Malouda will be worth it. That day in Guingamp, a club director told me: “From time to time we have a little fantasy: a Brazilian player comes, or Szarmach, the Pole who played three World Cups.” With hindsight, having Malouda and Drogba in the village team wasn’t a bad fantasy either.
We shall see. Last year proved to be a bust for Sheva and Ballack, two players who were supposed to have lifted Chelsea from their penchant for cautious play making but failed. So Malouda has some big shoes to fill.
West Ham gets a 2m pound registration fee and Kia Joorabchian and MSI get to keep the transfer fee which is estimated at 25m-30m pounds. But finally, Carlos Tevez will be a Red Devil.
There is an overwhelming sense of relief from all parties involved. But I think now comes the hard part of trying to make third party contracts work within the existing PL/ FA rules. If not then I think a rule will have to be formulated down the line which every club can agree upon because I don' t think we have seen the last of these types of transfers.
There are a number of reasons and when one says Man Utd will not win this season's Premiership one better have a myriad of good reasons.
1) A number of teams got better: You have to single out Liverpool and Spurs. My feeling is that Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel are going to be the deal makers for Liverpool this season. That is because Torres and Babel were coaching decisions, unlike Andrei Shevchenko who was solely brought over at the behest of Roman Abramovich and became the focal point of the unseemly row between Mourinho and Abramovich. Spurs got Bent, Kaboul, and Gareth Bale, to bolster an already potent strike force. Remember Dimitar Berbatov was a huge Man Utd target. Chelsea has not lost a step and Pizzaro and Malouda open a more innovative angle on the conservative attack, largely centered around Drogba. Arsenal had Man Utd's number last season and there is no reason why it should be otherwise, because the first win at Old Trafford occurred without Van Persie and Thierry Henry.
2) The defense has given up some big games. Man Utd's last season was by and large smooth sailing but there have been concerns. Both games against Arsenal were losses, shock wins by Portsmouth and West Ham, and the defense was schooled by AC Milan and Chelsea, in the Champions league semi-finals and the FA Cup final, respectively. Injury problems have smitten Gary Neville and Rio Ferdinand. Wes Brown and Gaby Heinze have not been the brightest sparks. Nemanja Vidic is the only defender who earned his spot. Evra is a speedy wing back but his tackling skills are a bit suspect. At this juncture I would take Man City's defense in a heartbeat. Micah Richards is the future of the English squad and Vedran Corluka is going to be a force to reckon with. Man Utd looked in a defensive meltdown against Inter in a friendly.
3) The Gaby Heinze factor: Remember how Sir Alex singled out the improved locker room atmosphere for the Premiership win, implicating Van Nistelrooy's departure as a key factor. Well, the Heinze factor basically sets that back. You have a vitiated atmosphere in Man Utd because of a disgruntled player who has been refused a transfer to one of its bitterest rivals. Yes, Gaby Heinze has been consigned to the reserves for daring to negotiate with Liverpool. He is going to chip away at the locker room camaraderie with his unhappiness.
4) The Carlos Tevez factor: Something tells me that this Carlos Tevez imbroglio that has already set Sir Alex's teeth on edge is going to come back. With a number of strikers at Sir Alex's disposal, each one a transfer target, investing so much on one striker, is going to have an unsettling effect on the rest of the attack. It just says that Sir Alex's trust goes so far. Such a contrast to Arsene Wenger's approach that has seen him repose faith in his present attack.
In the player sweepstakes race, City just finished the season very strongly.
Of the slew of City's recent signings, there is no one potentially as gifted as Vedran Corluka, the Dinamo Zagreb center back, who pundits feel is slated for greatness. Slaven Bilic, Croatia's manager believes he is their best defender in a team full of big names, like Robert Kovacs, Dario Simic, and Igor Tudor. Corluka's presence should mitigate the disappointment of Juve's Giorgio Chiellini who looks like he is not joining up. He was recently seen tangling with Peter Crouch in Croatia's win over England as another ex-Dinamo Zagreb star and Arsenal striker, Eduardo da Silva put them ahead.
An observation: I think Sven has seen the numbers from last year's premiership and he believes that this City defense can get even stingier. It feels like an England redux again. City's question marks are their attack resting on some very young strikers and some not so impressive graybeards.
Sven is also looking for this defense to be active in attack through set pieces and down the wings. Defenders like Corluka with their 6'3" height and quickness fit into this plan as does Chiellini. In short City's hopes rest on their defense. Narrow wins, lots of draws, and a vise like grip on the defensive aspects of the games with set pieces accounting for the goals.
Maybe the biggest change in theme is, "City's hopes" rather than "hapless City."
On a side note Dinamo has made a pretty packet with two of their stars heading to the Premiership this season. Corluka and Da Silva's transfers have enriched them by 20m pounds.
I think Robin Van Persie's words should be taken seriously because it means that there are players who look beyond salaries and the chance of winning at all costs. Players like Dennis Bergkamp, Paul Scholes, and Ryan Giggs are a rare and vanishing breed. But we love them not for the glory days but because they stuck around during the days of despair.
Van Persie's words and actions are an endorsement for Arsenal's brand of soccer. It does two things. It clearly and unequivocally separates Arsenal from Man Utd, Chelsea, and Liverpool. And he is stepping in neatly into a leadership role too. These words were a potshot at the other clubs but it could be construed as aimed at some Arsenal players both past and present. His words separate him out very quickly from Henry who never quite endorsed Arsenal's quality in such ringing words, seemingly more concerned about big signings and lack of titles.
He might strike some as being combative and critics will be quick to point out the lack of silverware but Van Persie, if healthy, is showing signs that he is ready to take on the mantle of the striker that Arsenal was looking for. He is not as quick as Henry and his predilection for his left foot limits him but he has incredible skills with the ball as seen in the beauty of a goal against Inter in the Emirates Cup. But he also has hubris, a fighting spirit, and a willingness to be vocal in a way that Henry never was. He also appreciates the faith that Wenger has placed in him.
I think the greatest thing that Arsenal has got going for them is the lack of faith in many that they are incapable of challenging for the title. When they do, they will do so with a brand of soccer that will put a smile on the lips of the most blighted soul.
Reading under Steve Coppell was the Premiership team last season and the reason it did so was because they were the most effective shooting team. They finished eighth with 52 goals scored. In the 2006 Championships they scored 100 goals as they ran away with the title, 24 more than second placed Sheffield Utd, 23 more than qualifying Watford.
In fact, all three clubs scored more or as many goals as first placed Sunderland in this year's Championships.
Soccerblog's statistics show that Reading scored goals with the least number of goal attempts, significantly better than the big four, even as their output fell to half as compared to the Championship. This remains an extraordinary achievement.
This was in large pat due to a lethal attack led by Kevin Doyle, Steve Sidwell, and Leroy Lita. But their attack was not just restricted to their forwards as Nicky Shorey discovered that he could take some long distance pile drivers.
So which of the newly promoted Premiership teams will go the distance, causing heartburns to the more established teams. Would it be Billy Davies Rams, Roy Keane's Black Cats, or Steve Bruce's Blues? Mind you, we are talking of survival, not a Reading like performance.
It does appear that to remain in the Premiership, the teams should look at scoring about 35+ goals and hope that the defense does not screw up big time. Man City was an exception as their defense tightened up, resulting in fewer losses.
Both Sunderland and Birmingham under Keane and Bruce have upgraded their defense. Keane has gone for homegrown talent with Nyron Nosworthy and Danny Collins recently bolstered by the additions of Greg Halford and Paul McShane. Steve Bruce has relied on international help, with Radhi Zaidi, the Tunisian international and Olivier Tebily, the Ivoirian born player, providing the pillars of his defense.
However, Keane has been more proactive in shoring up the midfield and the attack, with Michael Chopra joining from Cardiff City, having an exceptional season with 20+ goals and Kieran Richardson from Man Utd in midfield. The Black Cats have some experienced names in midfield and attack with Carlos Edwards, Dean Whitehead, Graham Kavanagh, and Dwight Yorke. On paper, it would appear that this attack should score 35-40 goals.
Bruce on the other hand is relying on a younger midfield with Fabrice Muamba and Sebastian Larsson, a couple of highly rated Arsenal talents, Daniel de Ridder, a former Ajax player and a member of the Dutch U-21 team, and former French international, Olivier Kapo, a recent Juventus arrival. The only notable name up front is Gary McSheffrey, who scores goals at a regular clip. Given the fact that the Blues only scored 67 goals in the Championship, it seems that 35+ goals in the Premiership will be hard to achieve. Birmingham will need help which they might get considering Wigan has gone from bad to worse with signings like Titus Bramble.
As for Derby, I think Rob Smyth has the goods on them. It will be a miracle if they survive the Premiership.
.....in the NIKE Manchester United Premier Cup u -15 Tournament.The tournament is on from the 1st to the 4th of August.The East Bengal Football Club is part of a contingent made up of 19 others teams from around the world. Fixtures and some other details can be viewed here...
And it looks like the lads from Bengal need to go back to the basics.
Did anyone notice the political underpinnings of US foreign policy in the Iraq vs Saudi Arabia Asian Cup final? It was not an ordinary match and not just because Iraq won, setting off a rare moment of unity in that war torn country.
One could not ask for more contrasting US foreign policy stances towards each country.
Saudi Arabia has been the recipient of continued US largesse even as reports suggest that the country supplies the most number of insurgents to the Iraq civil war. And then there is the small little problem of 9/11 being carried out by terrorists, a majority of them, Saudi Arabian nationals. But the fact is the Bush and Clinton administrations bought over by oil money, are thick with the Saudi Arabian aristocracy, and have treated them with kid gloves, even as Saudi Arabian money fuels a wave of fundamentalist schools set up across the world.
Contrast this with the almost inhuman sanctions against Iraq during Saddam's times, resulting in one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the world. Now, Nuri Al Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister is being left twisting in the wind as the Bush administration gradually changes the political frame, blaming Maliki for failing to meet benchmarks. This is as Bush has repeatedly declared Iraq to be the central front in the GWOT.
It is small wonder that Mohammad Younus, the Iraqi striker and star in his country's win, used the triumphal occasion to air his opinion of the war. "I want the Americans out of Iraq, " he said. As for the White House, the last time George Bush had talked about giving "freedoms" to the Iraqi soccer team during the 2004 Olympics, he was met by universal derision by the Iraqi players and their coach. This time around there was not one word from the White House on the Iraqi success.
Al Ahly, the club that has done more to put Africans playing in Africa in the limelight is on track to claim their third CAF title in a row.
They scored an emphatic win over Tunisia's Esperance, 3-0 winning through an opening goal by the wonderful Mohammed Aboutreika, who continues to impress, even as he spurns the overtures of bigger European leagues which have seen fellow Egyptians, Mido, Mohammad Zidan, and Hossam Ghaly, crossing over.
Aboutrika was the nominee for the 2006 African player of the year and lost to Didier Drogba, in a nomination process that appears loaded in favour of the more high flying European leagues.
Man City still looks to struggle to score goals and they were at the bottom of the table tied with Watford with 29 last season. Where are the goals going to come from this season? Joey Barton has gone.
Man City improved in midfield with the addition of Martin Petrov. The news got better with Elano Blumer set to join City from Shakhtar Donetsk. We saw Elano in the Copa finals against Argentina when he came on for Gilberto who was suspended. Elano played well making some dangerous forays down the right and assisted in the Baptista goal before being substituted by Dani Alves.
As per Dunga, Elano represents his vision for the future Brazilian team. Technically sound, eschews flashiness, uses both feet well, and leverages both attack and defense with intelligent passing. If Elano is the quintessential Dunga player, fellow Brazilian player Geovanni will probably never see Brazil duty. It will be upto Sven Goran Erickson to tap Geovanni's considerable but inconsistent talent.
City are quite strong at the back and this again looks to be their main strength. They were one of the stingier defenses and they have a strong back four with perpetual transfer favourite, Micah Richards, leading the way.
I think City could spring a few surprises. But they still have to find a quality striker to give them goals. Nery Castillo came close but he turned them down to move to Shakhtar Donetsk. Darius Vasell and Paul Dickov are past their prime and even at their best were not goal scorers. Samaras and Corradi have been disappointing. That leaves Mpenza who has shown promise in his brief appearances and new signing Rolando Bianchi, a Serie standout as their main goal scoring threats.