Arsenal make a bags of it again.
More defensive frailties.
Kyle Bartley scored an own goal with four minutes to go cancelling out the one goal that Van Persie scored earlier on.
Thierry Henry got a standing ovation
July 2011 Archives
Did someone say defensive frailties ?
Arsenal let Boca Juniors come back and score two goals in the second half after Van Persie and Ramsey had put them ahead.
The Fabregas saga continued.He walked out of the game at half time.
The game with the mighty impressive sounding title was played near Washington.Man Utd beat Barcelona 2 -1.
Barcelona however were playing without Messi,Xave and Gerard Pique. Pep Guardiola's take on the seriousness of the game could be estimated by his attire which consisted of bleached jeans and white trainers.
The goal of the game was scored by Thiago Alcantara.
Man Utd's new goalkeeping hope David De Gea was left standing.
....against Aston Villa in the final of the Barclay's Asia Cup. More by accident than by design.But a goal is a goal.And Torres will be relieved.He was prowling in the penalty area when a shot from Malouda landed at his feet leaving him with no choice but to score.He couldn't have missed from there.
Ireland were absolutely no match for Spain in the under 19 European Championships currently underway in Romania.They were dismantled by the tournament favourites five goals to nothing.They were down 2 - 0 at half time and couldn't do much about the 3 goals that were then scored in the second half either.Spain now go through to meet the Czech Republic in the finals.
szólj hozzá: Spain 5-0 Ireland(European Rom
Spain are also firm favourites for the FIFA under 20 World Cup which is also going on even as you read this.Thats being held in Colombia and England haven't made a very bright start again.They were held to a goalless draw by North Korea.
Chicharito Hernandez not seen in action this week suffered a "mild concussion" according to Sir Alex after a ball hit him on the head following a training session. He is expected to be out for the next two weeks.
This maybe the case but it has been muddied by the revelations of Rafael Ortega, the MD at Hernandez's former club Chivas de Guadalajara, that the striker has a history of suffering from migraines since his teenage years. This is news to all concerned in Man Utd who ran a bill of clean health when he joined last season.
Migraines sufferers know their condition can be incapacitating. The throbbing headache spreading its tentacles of pain on one side of the head is the popular characterization of a migraine. But even after the acute episode is over it can lead to days of loss of energy, concentration, and in some cases disorientation.
There are a number of triggers including alcohol, exercise, loud noises, and food that can cause migraines. Some of the signs and symptoms include nausea and vomiting, numbness, tingling, or weakness, and problems concentrating, trouble finding words. These also characterize the symptoms of felt after a concussion. The MRI run on Chicharito did not find any abnormality which is usually done to rule out any accompanying neurological overlay.
Michele Bachmann, the Tea Party favourite whose entry into the presidential foray caused her Republican rivals headaches was forced into posting a medical statement by her doctor after damaging allegations that she suffered from migraine episodes that would incapacitate her for days. A sensitive topic given the good health of the president is of paramount importance.
Ortega claims that Hernandez has not suffered one in six years and all the tests run on him came back negative. It's possible post season fatigue and the increased travel between Mexico and the UK in the last few months for international duty and now in the USA for Utd's pre-season could have triggered a rare episode.
For more information on migraines >>
Liverpool's pre-season has not gone swimmingly. They might have wished Emmanuel Eboue had signed earlier with the Turkish club for any relief because they were not getting any in this match.
The squad had none of the stars in Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard, Raul Meirelles, Pepe Reina, Lucas Leiva, Martin Skrtel, or even new signings Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing. It was a former Liverpool hero, Milan Baros who got things rolling for Galatasaray on the very grounds six years ago where the Reds came back from the ashes to record a historic triumph.
For Galatasaray and other clubs in the Super Lig these might be the only matches for a while because their season has been delayed as authorities carry out a match fixing investigation.
That would be Nicklas Bendtner. The legend in his own mind is on the verge of completing a £9m move to Sporting Lisbon.
Bendtner it must be said was not half bad. He was utilized badly by Arsene Wenger shifting him to the flanks where he rarely troubled his opponents because of lack of speed and dubious ball skills. However on the occasions he was employed as a centreforward showed a distinct penchant for a back pass which really is not in the job description.
He could have pulled off an incredible win over Barca on the away leg goal factor in the second leg of the CL knockout stage but muffed an easy chance with his ungainly first touch.
Sunil Gulati, US Soccer president announces Bob Bradley has been relieved as head coach of the MNT.
"During his time as the head coach of our Men's National Team he led the team to a number of accomplishments, but we felt now was the right time for us to make a change."
The announcement comes less than two weeks before the USA meet Mexico in a friendly in Philadelphia, their first meeting since that humiliating loss in the Gold Cup finals in June this year.
There were key moments when Bradley failed to noticeably raise the team. One of them was the World Cup quarterfinals against Ghana which saw the USA fightback only to lose in extra time to a defensive lapse. The USA's performance in the World Cup was uneven characterized by slow hesitant starts and defensive frailties before coming into their own with strong counterattacking instincts and gaining a reputation for their stirring come from behind performances.
It was widely assumed that Bradley would be relieved of coaching duties after the World Cup and there were reports that Randy Lerner was keen on bringing him to Aston Villa as replacement for Martin O' Neill. However Sunil Gulati was not able to convince Juergen Klinsmann to takeover which meant Bradley was allowed to continue unchallenged.
The Gold Cup final which the USA lost after being in a commanding position further damaged Bradley. Mexico came back and scored four unanswered goals as the USA retreated into bunker mode. Bradley was initially praised for his bold personnel changes bringing injecting youthful talent in Freddy Adu, Eric Lichaj, Juan Agudelo, and Alejandro Bedoya.
The turning point for many of his critics was Bradley's fit of atavism sending in Jonathan Bornstein as left back after Steve Cherundolo's injury forced him off the field and re-engineering Eric Lichaj into the unfamiliar right back position. The Mexicans through Andres Guardado, Gio Dos Santos, and Pablo Barrera capitalized on this re-jiggered line with Bornstein and Lichaj hopelessly exposed.
For most the overarching theme was not Bradley's coaching but Mexico's superiority and the relatively poor performances of some key US players. That is why this is a surprising development. The real reason is the anticipated announcement due Friday of a replacement with Juergen Klinsmann heavily favoured to succeed Bradley as US coach.
Who thinks Karl Heinz Rummenigge's call for a breakaway from FIFA/ UEFA would not have happened anyway? He's the president of the powerful European Football Association, the organization that ostensibly represents the interests all 197 clubs. Within that group the interests of nine clubs supersede all the rest. The idea of the top clubs breaking away and forming their own league is nothing new. It was first proposed by Fiorentina Perez in the Group of 14, the previous incarnation of the ECA.
Their bottomline then as it is now is to make more money without FIFA/ UEFA seeing a penny of it. As Matt Scott in the Guardian points out, FIFA generates revenue of $1bn through World Cup related events as millions over the world follow top drawer talent like Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Wayne Rooney. That is seed money for a future super league with 20 teams where the revenue is pooled like the NFL.
In effect, the future of European football is to be decided by a kleptocracy. Rummenigge's focus on FIFA corruption as a driving force behind a super league fails to call for fixing the financial doping that is adding more debt to untenable levels with some of these clubs. Meanwhile without cutting down costs these clubs seek to increase revenue with skyrocketing prices on tickets and merchandise. There is no self policing within their own group which is why Michel Platini stepped in with his financial fair play rules.
In 2014 the MOU between the ECA and UEFA lapses and if no agreement is in place by then then the Champions League could fold and an alternative tournament with a select group of clubs competing for honours. This arrangement could end any international obligations of top players in the conventional sense. As Matt Scott points out the loss of the World Cup could be mitigated by a club version with players representing their countries. Alternatively, the national squads could be filled with second drawer talent to carry on the present version of the World Cup. It's football's version of the Kerry Packer circus magnified a billion times over.
The EPL's success is the benchmark for this future league. There lies some of the problems as the European leagues and with it their clubs have different drawing power. The present divisions have proven little grounds for animosity and financial disagreements. A pooled super league works on the presumption that revenues generated are market blind. But that is not the case demonstrated amply by the EPL. There are huge differences between Arsenal and Chelsea in the way they do business. The Real Madrid and Bayern Munich models are equally disparate. In reality, the slices of pie should be larger for some clubs but the operating conceit here is they are cut equally. Monetary concerns behind the formation of a super league will rear their heads again after a sufficient lapse of time.
Neymar did some fanatastic sleight of leg jugglery to score the first goal of the season contender.
The game between Santos and Flamengo could well stake a claim to be the game of the season also. Santos were 3 goals ahead within 26 minutes before Flamengo organised the comeback of the season.
Ronnie Ronaldinho showed more than a few glimpses of genius and scored a hat trick when no one was expecting it.Flamengo won the game 5 - 4 eventually.
Ji Sung Park had the goal of the match. Man Utd showed flashes of brilliance in their short passing game leading to Anderson's opening goal. David Beckham had a couple of long distance salvos against his former club. Anders Lindegaard had to come up with a very good save to deny Beckham. The MLS All Stars could have at least claimed a goal through Omar Bravo but the Mexican striker missed an easy chance on a rebound.
Utd look very sharp in their pre-season. There are few encouraging signs for their rivals who will have to be very, very good if they have to dethrone the reigning champions.
The Daily Mirror is reporting that Juan Mata, the versatile Valencia winger is close to signing a £15m deal that will bring him to Arsenal. The report has been confirmed by Marca which says his father who represents Mata is also evaluating the pros and cons of other offers including one by Tottenham.
Valencia has a buyout clause of 20m euros (£17.75m) for the player which also carries a provision to retain him by increasing his salary by an additional 750,000 euros. But the Che are also cash strapped and are in no position to bear any extra costs.
Keeping my fingers tightly crossed that this is indeed true. As sad as it would be to see Cesc Fabregas leave the thought of getting Mata fills one with the hope of a new winning era at Arsenal.
Hong Kong champions Kitchee were knocked out 4 goals to nothing.Goals from Lampard,Drogba and Sturridge.
Torres still hasn't got his name on the score sheet.
Kitchee scored one goal against themselves to complete the rout..
szólj hozzá: Kitchee 0-4 Chelsea
Carlos Tevez must have got the message loud and clear. Whether he leaves or doesn't Sergio Aguero is set to join City at an estimated price of £38m. However it does set up a quandary for Roberto Mancini who seems to have a line up promising to break all sorts of goalscoring records but are emotionally and mentally brittle.
Mario Balotelli's chip on the shoulder attitude and tendency to implode means this highly talented striker will be limited to an impact role. Under Jose Mourinho this was indeed the case especially towards the end as Balotelli became embroiled in a series of coaching and on field controversies. The racism that led him to act out against some Italian fans has not been a factor in England. But despite that there appears to be no let up in that destructive trend under Mancini.
There is however no relief with Tevez who's mental attitude stem from an opposite set of problems. Tevez's crying call is the juagdor del pueblo which so far has eluded him in his English sojourn. He puts his heart out on the pitch but it is off the pitch where he needs to be nourished because his idle mind fills with imagined slights and omissions leaving him marginalized and homesick. What really does damage to Tevez's transfer prospects have less to do with the price tag and his wages which obviously few clubs can afford as his image of a wayward son whose grievances are profitable to third party operators making many deals as possible before retirement.
Whether he feels he can make a go of it at City after the Corinthians bid failed is likely to be a key issue but Mancini is not waiting. It will be interesting to see whether he decides to use both Tevez and Aguero as both can play the position of first and second striker but on the occasions they have played alongside for Argentina have proved less effective lacking height and suffering from positional redundany. Which might mean the Italian manager will have to pair up one of the two with Dzeko who's had his emotional crosses to bear and is desperate to justify his £27m price tag after a disappointing first season.
Off to the side are the unhappy trio of Craig Bellamy, Emmanuel Adebayor, and Roque Santa Cruz who are looking for a way out for regular first team action. There are loan deals in the offing - Adebayor is on Harry Redknapp's radar and Santa Cruz will most likely continue at Blackburn.
On paper this line up can easily score over 70+ goals. Off it there are many X's and O's to be filled before it makes sense. The arrival of Aguero will pose a challenge to the group Mancini already has in place. As a manager he has to make sure it remains a competitive one.
Some very harsh refereeing saw India collect two red cards in the first 24 minutes of their World Cup qualifier against the UAE. Defender Debarata Roy and goalie Subrata Pal were sent off for fouls that could have been dealt with more leniently. India to their credit managed to keep the score at 3 - 0 even though they playing with 9 men for most of the game.
Pep Guardiola seems to be very optimistic that the long drawn out Cesc Fabregas soap opera will finally be over this week. He hopes to include Fabregas in the US tour.
Barca have come back with a new bid said to be about £33m which is still short by a considerable margin from the £40m that Arsenal seeks. However according to Marca, Wenger appears to be softening his position and might settle for less. Barca are also hoping that Fabregas's unhappiness with his current situation will further pressure Arsenal into accepting a lower figure.
Josep Maria Bartomeu, Barca's vice-president who flew in last Friday to London for further negotiations was less sanguine. In a press conference he stated the club could expect more signings by Aug 30th. However when asked specifically about Fabregas, he said, "there is no news about Cesc".
Arsenal has given Barca till July 30th to close a deal. At this point does anyone care? Get it over one way or the other.
As per The Guardian - the transfer fee is said to be £4m. Jay Emmanuel Thomas goes to Ipswich Town for £1m.
The fate of Nicklas Bendtner is less clear. He wants to leave but Borussia Dortmund the club he's most linked with seem to have cooled their pursuit. Manuel Almunia's days as as a Gunner draws close with Malaga, Atletico Madrid, and Fenerbahce (that's right three whole clubs!) interested in him.
Even the LA Galaxy players cringe as Mario Balotelli probably trying to copycat Theyab Awana from open play misses miserably with his back heel.
An incensed Roberto Mancini reacts immediately subbing him with James Milner. It gets even uglier on the sidelines as Balotelli angry at being replaced after 30 minutes tells Mancini to stick it where the sun don't shine or words to that effect after which the Inter manager goes after him as the striker stalks off.
It's worth taking a look at who replaced him. James Milner. Measurably less talented than Balotelli but few who can match him for effort and professionalism. With City's multi million dollar signings it's going to be a struggle to make appearances but he remains unfazed. Like a good foot soldier he's vowed to fight for his position. And here is Balotelli who could care less if he is on the team or not. There is a sign which says go back to Italy and join MIlan.
Justice was done. The better team actually won and quite comfortably. The Guarani had come to the finals with no wins in their five matches and it would have been a travesty of immense proportions if they had managed to pull off another penalty shootout win.
It never happened because Uruguay went on the fore foot right away and their two strikers delivered. Luis Suarez left no one in doubt about his quality opening the account and later providing a genius heads up assist for Forlan's second goal. The MVP of the World Cup finally found his scoring touch with his brace. Suarez deservedly picked up that honour in this Copa with his all around brilliance.
The Guarani had their own Mano de Dios moment in the 2nd minute itself when Sebastian Coates header was blocked on the line by Nestor Ortigoza's hand. It should have been a red card and a penalty. It could have been a lot worse for them but for Justo Villar's magnificent effort in goal. He's the real reason the Paraguayans are in the finals.
The Uruguayans are now the most decorated Copa America winners with their fifteenth title. Forlan ties Hector Scarone for leading national goal scorer with 31.
Can we say Kenny Dalglish was a bloody genius when he signed Suarez?
Arsenal's first two signings made quite the first impression in the match against Koln. Gervinho for all the right reasons scoring both goals all poacher like to put Arsenal ahead. Lovely bit to finish Wilshere's heads up play and then muscling in Walcott's cross at some physical cost. Really badly needed with all the pointless strolling Arsenal are wont to do in the final third. That he did so without expending his considerable forehead is a remarkable story.
But ...... and there are a number of buts as Carl Jenkinson's own goal amply illustrates when it comes to the defensive end. It's in line with all the boneheaded meltdowns we've had in the past. One loses count. Wenger's reacts with a nonplussed little shake of the head rather than the more flamboyant arm flapping routine reserved for rivals.
I mean how many more signs does he need to sign a proven center back? We're a hard luck team and the chances of shooting ourselves in the foot is more than chance (p <.05).
The corollary. Sepp Blatter, FIFA president for life!
Mohamed Bin Hammam is banned from all footballing activity for life as the FIFA ethics (now that is an oxymoron) committee finds him guilty of bribery charges as feared but we all know who is smiling through all this. Its laughable that this is being lauded as FIFA's attempt to finally clean up its act when all this really amounts to is a political hit job.
Why do we know this? Because Blatter's first instinct was to install another commission within FIFA that included Placido Domingo to investigation corruption. To put in place more people beholden to him. How is that for conflict of interest?
Circumstantial evidence points to Bin Hammam's complicity but what is noteworthy is resorting to such lengths to try and garner votes. This is what happens when the world's game is being run by a despot. Other than a coup d'etat the best bet lies in buying votes. Absolutism breeds absolutism.
Even Rupert Murdoch, the soulless greedhead that he is must be consumed by the green eyed monster. Blatter has built an empire that can turn phone hacking into a virtue. Which brings us to the real reason why he remains willfully impervious to new technologies that determine a fair result on the pitch. Any controversy there trumps any controversy within FIFA. If tomorrow Uruguay vs Paraguay flame out on an offside goal in the Copa America finals then look for the creation of some new villains. Human error is the gift that gives endlessly and takes the heat off Blatter and his calculations.
Blatter has also vindictively punished banning countries from football if their government is perceived as meddling even peripherally into the affairs of the national associations or when there are conflicts within that body. It's all a nicely calibrated game of the virgin vs vamp. And anything that Blatter can do to swaddle himself in pure white snow is yet another term won. Lets not forget that Mohamed Bin Hammam even if guilty as charged has not wrought nearly enough damage to the sport that Blatter has in his two decades and counting as FIFA president.
Faithless are a Brit electronica band formed by Maxi Jazz, Sister Bliss, and Rollo. The last mentioned is the brother of chanteuse Dido. Both are huge Arsenal fans.
After a six year title drought the Gunners are all ready for "I want more".An apt song and to boot very, very danceable. Give in.
Have fun with this interactive graph from the Wall Street Journal that allows you to click and drag the victims of the NOTW phone hacking in line with the chain of villains who actually carried out these black ops. All unintentional of course but worthy of a snicker or two.
You can do this with Ryan Giggs, Paul Gascoigne, Jude Law, and liberal firebrand George Galloway, all of them hacking victims amongst many. Courtesy Jim Edwards who alerts us to the WSJ cherry picking when it leaves out a number of principal actors and marginalizes James Murdoch from the fray.
The WSJ is the flagship of Rupert Murdoch's media empire and here they deliberately blur the fine line between objective reporting and editorial ideology to reconnoiter these turbulent times.
What is wrong with people? The best British midfielder in decades and one who has been front and center in all of Man Utd's success since 1990 finally breaks the top ten in shirt sales for the first time in 613 appearances. All because he had an affair with Imogen Thomas which he stupidly tried to cover up. Really.
The 10 day deadline set by Arsenal seems to have worked as Barca after forging a war by proxy actually flew in Josep Maria Bartomeu, their vice president and director Raul Sanllehi to London to negotiate for Cesc Fabregas's transfer.
Their new bid reported at £33.5m will still be short of Arsenal's valuation of £40m. Fabregas did not leave with the club for their Cologne fixture ostensibly because of injury but the more likely reason was to await the outcome of these talks. An educated guess would be Barca incrementally creeping towards that valuation but still falling short.
Which might mean forcing Fabregas's hand to publicly declare his disaffection with Arsenal. A situation everyone most of all Wenger would like to avoid. It could all end amicably by acceding to a revised amount. There are other reasons to do so.
Wenger is keen that Barca meet their valuation but he's equally of the mind if Fabregas should depart there be enough time left in the transfer window for a suitable replacement.
There is enough reason to believe reports emerging from Valencia that Juan Mata is now on the pipeline. A sum between £35 and £40m for Fabregas plus £7m from Clichy's transfer should be enough to go after him and a decent centre back. Mata is also said to be on Liverpool's radar so speed is of the essence.
If you have not fallen already in love with Hope Solo, you will all over again. She has a demure voice for someone in goal, traditionally the most gestural and vocally animated of positions. At 150 lbs she is nicely proportioned too. She becomes personal when asked about her benching in 2007 World Cup - not the best of times for her and gets back at Dave Letterman a little while later.
Dave, no soccer player likes questions about brain damage. Abby Wambach handled that really well with a touch of wit. She comes off as grounded and intelligent.
The last bit was vicariously enjoyable - trying to get a cab in Midtown makes you feel like doing that at times. And Hope "Yes, I have a shot" Solo really belts the ball.
Good on you ladies and to the Nadeshiko as well for one of the most memorable finals. Respect.
They are as crooked as they come. But while there is little sympathy for Mohammed Bin Hammam for allegedly bribing CFU officials for presidential votes there is no doubt that only he of all those who stand accused is being put on trial. The consequences if found guilty are severe - he stands to be barred for life from FIFA under corruption clauses.
Jack Warner is not a target because he resigned following which FIFA put out a statement "presumption of [his] innocence is maintained". Say what? In what alternate world can a resignation following a bribe to vote scandal be considered a presumption to innocence. Just the opposite. Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester who have been identified as the CFU officials who handed out packets of $40,000 in cash to members of the Bahamas Football Association do not have to stand trial as their organization falls outside of FIFA jurisdiction.
It looks like a nicely worked out political hit job. Warner resigns, the CFU officials cannot be booked, and Mohammed Bin Hammam is left holding the bloodied knife.
"Does it not surprise anyone that although I have been suspended for the last seven weeks from involvement in all football-related activities for allegedly bribing individuals, none of those who it is claimed received those alleged inducements have faced similar action?"
When all is done we will find out that Sepp Blatter probably ordered the disappearance of hundreds of his opponents a la desaparecidos in his bid to retain power at all costs. For now we will have to satisfy ourselves with title of most hated man. Well, he and Rupert Murdoch.
Drogba took a free kick.The ball hit the post,hit the ground and then came spinning backwards towards the goalie who then grabbed it.
Did it cross the line.Video replay shows that it may not have.
The ref and linesmen who got only one shot at seeing it said it was a goal.
It's a familiar story.
Chelsea's lack of form and Torres inability to score a goal even in Malaysia are other aspects of the familiar story.
The game ended with the score reading 1 - 0
Chelsea,at least in this game,were unable to attain the heights set by the other recent visitors to these parts - namely Arsenal and Liverpool.
The AFA is meeting on Monday to decide the fate of the embattled Sergio Batista under whom Argentina suffered a humiliatingly early exit in the Copa America. The general manager Carlos Bilardo seems to have lost faith in him and in a blow Batista's biggest cheerleader, the AFA president Julio Grondona also appears inclined towards a change at the helm.
This comes despite Batista's recently signed contract which was to run till the end of the 2014 World Cup. However, there is growing disenchantment with how Argentina responded under him scraping draws against Colombia and Bolivia, beating a Costa Rican youth team, and then losing to Uruguay in a depressing penalty shootout. All the while playing scrappy disjointed football with Messi underutilized and players playing out of position.
The atmosphere has been further vitiated with a war of words breaking out between Batista's brother Fernando acting as proxy and Diego Maradona after the Copa America debacle with the latter calling for Batista's voluntary resignation. Maradona has been a vocal critic of the present manager saying "nothing will change with him in charge."
He further added, "If I won just one game in the Copa, I would have resigned. If I were Batista I would just stay in my house. Because I cannot light a fuse under my players to rip it up week to week."
Batista's brother Fernando hit back saying, "I do not remember Maradona resigning after Bolivia scored six goals."
To which Maradona responded, " The football played was very mediocre and the response is not to be mediocre. I do not need my brothers to defend me and I have not asked for Batista to be fired." He also ruled his return out as manager saying, "no one wants me."
The two candidates on the short list to succeed Batista are Alejandro Sabella, the former Estudiantes coach now signed with the UAE's Al-Jazira club and Gerardo Martino, the present gaffer of Paraguay who play against Uruguay in the Copa America finals this Sunday.
A record breaking crowd at Rochester's Sahlen Stadium saw many of the heroes of the Women's World Cup in action between the Western New York Flash and magicJack.
Christine Sinclair showing no ill effects of her broken nose sustained in the Germany clash scored two goals and assisted in another as the Flash ran out 3-1 victors over magicJack. The biggest cheers were reserved for Alex Morgan who replaced her in the 80th minute. Morgan's performance in the World Cup finals lifted the USA with a goal and an assist on Abby Wambach's strike. The Flash also had Marta in the ranks and the wily Brazilian provided Sinclair with her second goal.
Abby Wambach, a
Pittsfield PIttsford native was honoured by the mayor of Rochester with keys to the city in front of the biggest crowd to see a sporting event in that city since Pele's Cosmos came visiting more than three decades ago.
A £10m reported offer by Arsenal for Everton centre back Phil Jagielka has been rejected. This is £2m less than Wenger offered last summer for a defender he supposedly admires. One wonders if Arsenal work on an EBITDA like scheme for football players to come up with such a reduced offer. And here we go into paroxysms on how Sandro Rosell wants to knock of a couple of million because of Cesc Fabregas's hamstrings.
With Jagielka showing no inclination to move to Arsenal there is really very little hope the Toffees will budge from the £20m they want for him. Besides ever transfer in this area is vitiated by Man Utd coughing up close to £20m for Phil Jones, a U21 prospect. So realistically, Arsenal better do better if they want a quality central defender whether it is Jagielka, Gary Cahill, or Chris Samba. Or else start look elsewhere away from the overpriced European market where even Jacques Tweedledee will cost in that range.
Wenger's scouts in the Copa America should hopefully be sending back glowing reports on Venezuela's Oswaldo Vizcarrondo who was the standout in this competition. He's a year younger than Jagielka at 27 years of age and about 3" taller. For his height he's shown he moves quickly (refer to Brazil, Paraguay, and Chile matches), tackles with elan, and gets to all those aerial balls on set pieces at both ends. Then there is the X-factor with his physicality and competitive spirit that should stand him in good stead in the bruising Premier League. He will come at a third of the price for the budget conscious Arsenal manager. Now all that is needed is to take a chance. Vizcarrondo and Vermaelen sound like a good match.
The Sounders made a match of it till halftime only down by a Michael Owen goal. After the break they pulled a number of their starters as Utd introduced Wayne Rooney and Ji Sung Park to the attack. Utd got going as Rooney scored a hattrick and then with eyes at the back of his head assisted on a Ji Sung Park goal. Just as sublime as the goals was his movement off the ball.
Oswaldo Vizcarrando's headed goal in the 38th minute was waved off by the linesman, Humberto Clavijo, who appears to have spotted an infraction - possibly Salomon Rondon standing in front of Justo Villar making inadvertent contact with the header while marginally offside. Maybe a correct decision but it still does not rid the feeling of being robbed.
Paraguay rode their luck as Venezuela the far better team on attack created more goal scoring chances but had the misfortune of finding the upright three times.
In the end that disallowed goal would have made the difference between a footnote and a red letter day in Venezuelan history. As it was Paraguay who seemed to have made a killing on penalty shootouts prevailed once again as Justo Villar stopped Franklin Lucena's shot.
There was some drama on the sidelines. Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino was ejected early in extra time for complaining and got into a verbal altercation with his Venezuelan counterpart, Cesar Farias, who signaled with his hands for his opposing counterpart to leave. After the shootout a brawl broke out between both teams as the Guarani celebrated. They make their first final since 1979 when they beat Chile in the playoffs and this is also the first time both neighbours meet in the finals.
The Premier League is introducing goal line technology from next season which will hopefully resolve the issue of those hundreds of goals that cross the line every season but are never given. And the hundreds of goals that don't but are given. It has already cost Arsenal three titles and relegated West Ham. All because of Frank Lampard's "ghost goal" in the World Cup.
Seriously, far more goals are scored from diving which goal line technology will never solve. The fallacy is to elevate this technology to Wimbledon like proportions when video review can solve everything.
The Costa Rican wonderkid will remain at Deportivo Saprissa. Apparently his father was not too professional about the whole thing. He probably had City or Chelsea on his radar.
Players represented by family carry that risk - Nicholas Anelka comes to mind.
Luis Suarez showed his uncanny ability off the ball and a lethal finishing touch to get both goals.
Peru's goalie Raul Fernandez spilled Diego Forlan's swerving left footed shot straight to Suarez who finished smartly with an angled drive. Minutes later Alvaro Pereira laid it on a thread for the motoring Suarez who beat the offside trap and the onrushing Fernandez to slide the ball home.
Peru's Juan Vargas was given marching orders in the 69th minute after elbowing Sebastian Coates in the face to make it a long evening for Peru.
Uruguay enter the finals for the 21st time. They will be looking to establish a record15th title, one more than Argentina.
Pep Guardiola's words have to be carefully parsed for how much they do not want Cesc Fabregas.
" We will fight to the end to try to get Cesc because we believe he will improve the team and the squad."
Nowhere in that sentence are the words "needed", "important", "future", "1000 year reign", "homecoming", or "enough already".
The longest running transfer saga in the football world boils down to a milquetoast hunch.
In that same statement Guardiola says, " There is a sum of money in the strong box set aside for this signing but if it doesn't work out it will be kept in the box for something else."
We've already seen that strong box as Barca forked out fistfuls of cash for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Dmytro Chygrynskiy leaving everyone fearing for their sanity. Now, the focus is on Alexis Sanchez because Bojan Krkic is leaving and Jeffren might follow suit which will leave them short handed on attack. Guardiola acknowledges as much saying his focus is not on the midfield.
"The priority is an attacker. We have more players in midfield than in attack. Jeffrén [Suárez] also wants to leave, so the attack is more important."
Meanwhile it has been days since the last solid offer for £26m was tabled. Arsenal made it clear they are looking at £40m. Since then it has been an endless parade of ciphers from Xavi, Pique, to the Catalan mayor speaking for Fabregas. They all seem to know his mental state and his vital signs better than the man himself.
Wenger has done the right thing. He's given them a deadline of 10 days to come up with their best offer and if it does not resonate with him then Fabregas is staying. If they meet the fee then he gets a month to find a suitable replacement.
Carlos Tevez's move to Corinthians is not happening.
An official note on their website confirms the deal is off.
" The board of Sport Club Corinthians Paulista hereby officially communicate the impossibility of hiring the Argentine striker Carlos Tevez."
The deadline for the Brazilian transfer window for overseas players is Wednesday, the 20th. According to Andres Sanchez, the president of the Timao there were disagreements on the structure of payments, the length of the contract, and the surrender clause which the board could not go through at such short notice.
The club however said that they still hoped to count on Tevez in the future.
This is a sticky situation for City because there is no Argentinian league side that can afford his transfer fee that will bring him close to his daughters but they are also reluctant to sell him domestically or to any other European rival like Real Madrid. However they might be forced to because every indication is they are set on acquiring Sergio Aguero. Possibly if Tevez so desires there could be an arrangement to loan him out to his former club Boca Juniors.
Carlos Tevez's transfer to Corinthians has run into some headwinds.
The president of the Timao, Andres Sanchez insists there is no agreement as City have changed the terms and the board needs to consider the counter proposal. He alleges the Premier League club have changed the total value of the transaction and the schedule of payments. In addition, they are insisting that Tevez pay up a surrender amount. City insists that there is only a minor detail in the first installment of payments that needs to be changed and it does not relate to the total transfer amount estimated at €44m (€40m plus €4m in add-ons).
The Brazilian transfer window closes tomorrow.
A majority of City fans want Tevez gone and have turned their attention to Kun Aguero whose English speaking skills are an improvement amongst his more obvious footballing ones. Aguero is being sought out by Juventus, Real Madrid, and rivals Chelsea but City are confident that they can land him. His agent Hernan Reguera has made it clear that the striker future will be resolved by next week.
This awkward looking back heel penalty (degree of grace -1.75) had the unfortunate effect of mesmerizing the goalie into thinking Awana was going to moon him when he turned around because his reactions were that of a man drugged on a cocktail of morphine, percocet, and trazodone topped off with 30 shots of moonshine.
But it really means Carlos Tevez and Elano have a better chance of scoring penalties this way.
UAE was already leading Lebanon 5-2 and it was the 78th minute which perhaps emboldened Awana into this lifetime performance. For comparison sake here is Totti's far more graceful version.
The professor is adopting a less academic tone with his confrontational remarks while on the Asian tour. He railed against Xavi for being disrespectful, went after City for its controversial Etihad naming rights sponsorship, and now, turned his wrath on Roberto Mancini for being out of order for pursing Samir Nasri.
Really, all this summer so far has been is the Fabregas, Nasri, and financial fair play soap opera. It's so easy to push Wenger's button on these issues. Meanwhile Sebastian Squillaci continued his horrendous display by coughing up a goal to Hangzhou Greentown. Shouldn't that have set off alarm bells? Where is the defensive cover that Arsenal need to avoid another dismal season? It's almost as if these remarks are meant to distract Wenger from taking real steps to address what is obvious to everyone.
Being the lone voice of conscience is admirable but in the end a mouth drying one. What City, Xavi, and the Catalan mayor, are doing is nothing new. If you fancy yourself as an activist then step down, join a watchdog organization, devote your energy and ideas to cleaning up the sport. As a manager there is far less room for this thin skinned ideology. Playing the victim does not further the notion of a big club. It accomplishes just the opposite leaving you vulnerable to future attacks.
Ivan Gazidis unambiguously stated today Wenger has the transfer cash to make big purchases. A suggestion - use it to give Thomas Vermaelen a decent partner. There is nothing to distinguish a goal conceded from open play or a set piece. They all need to be stopped and it really is an abdication of one's managerial responsibilities if the proper personnel to do that is missing. As an Arsenal supporter one more season of defensive ineptitude would be unforgivable.
Costa Rican teenage sensation Joel Campbell who caught the eye in the Copa America campaign is set to join Arsenal for a sum of £900,000. The Ticos exited in the group stage but Campbell made his mark scoring in a 2-0 win against Bolivia. They were outclassed 0-4 against Argentina with Campbell again shining with his speed and dribbling skills.
Campbell only has six internationals under his belt, 75% less than the requisite number and has to apply for a work permit approved by the Home Office. Arsenal can apply for a special dispensation or loan him out to another club like they did with Carlos Vela.
Meanwhile, Denilson is returning to his former club Sao Paulo on loan.
For a budget conscious club like Arsenal the £3.4 million represented big money for a reserve player not fully broken into the senior squad. His arrival in 2006 was something of a surprise. We can now in hindsight say Denilson was not one of Wenger's wise choices.
His big moment came when Mathieu Flamini and Gilberto Silva departed the club and initially he showed some promise but never quite acquired the physical presence or the organizational capabilities required of a holding midfielder. His 2010 -11 appearances were limited as Wenger now relied on Jack Wilshere and Alexander Song for midfield duties.
There were rumours that Wenger was offering him and cash to Shakhtar Donetsk in lieu for the services of Douglas Costa but it was rejected.
Denilson on his return:
" I'm now focused on doing well in Brazil next season, but will always be looking out for the Arsenal results. It is a great club with many great players, a good team spirit and a top-class manager. I wish you well for next season."
The US women played their hearts out against Japan and they were in long spells the better team. They lost to a cruel lottery of penalty kicks.
Post match they showed their class. No grumbling. No wasted tears. As Hope Solo put it:
"We lost to a great team, we really did. Japan is a team that I've always had a lot of respect for, and I truly believe that something bigger was pulling for this team. As much as I've always wanted this, if there was any other team I could give this to it would have to be Japan. I'm happy for them and they do deserve it."
Keep your heads up, ladies. We will see you again soon in 2015. And I am not wrong in saying by that time there will be millions more to watch what has been an engrossing three weeks of football which has largely been void of the gamesmanship and cynicism that has soured so many off the men's version.
Japan's win over USA in the Women's World Cup final set a record 7,196 tweets per second (TPS). It was followed closely by the 7,196 TPS generated by the Brazil vs Paraguay in the closing minutes on the same day.
In comparison, the previous record set on New Years Eve in Japan in 2010 produced 6,939 TPS at its peak. Kate Middleton and Prince William's nuptials in April saw 3,966 TPS. Other huge volume events were the 2011 Super Bowl and this year's devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
These records will probably be eclipsed soon enough with the fact that 600,000 new users sign up daily for Twitter. It is interesting to note that the 2010 Men's World Cup finals did not figure in these records even though that match had its share of non-football related dramatic moments.
A beaming Homare Sawa shows of her Golden Boot. 5 goals in 6 matches, none bigger than the 116th minute equalizer against the USA in the finals. And who can forget her setting up Karina Maruyama for that extra time goal that torpedoed defending champions Germany?
Sawa also gave the Nadeshiko the lead for good against Sweden in the semi-finals with her improvisational skills. To top it all she captured the accolade of first ever hat trick this World Cup, all headers against Mexico in the group stage. It will take a herculean feat to top Sawa's accomplishments in subsequent World Cups.
Just to make sure that this Copa was not done providing upsets. Venezuela joined the eye widening list of semi-finalists as they overcame Chile.
Oswaldo Vizcarrando already a legend for his goal line save in the Brazil group match cemented his status as he diverted the ball into goal off a Juan Arango free kick with a perfect flick of his head.
El Chupete restored parity for Chile with his equalizer. It was another Arango set piece that proved their undoing when goalie Claudio Bravo spilled his free kick and Gabriel Cichero lurking in front of the goalmouth was at hand to deliver Venezuela a historic win.
Their first ever entry into the semi-finals means this line up is unprecedented in the 95 years of this championship. This puts 2001 into perspective when Colombia won the Copa beating Mexico and Honduras prevailed over Uruguay to capture the third spot.
Could there be any more dire penalty taking than the Selecao display against Paraguay? Elano and Andre Santos were completely off target while Thiago Silva's effort was saved by Justo Villar. Each miss left the Brazilians in the stands looking incredulous.
At the other end Paraguay kept its nerve after Edgar Barreto dragged his shot wide left. Marcelo Estagarribia and Cristian Riveros converted their penalties. Up stepped Fred charged with the onerous task of keeping Brazil's hopes alive as anxiety mounted with every passing moment. His body hunched over in tension the veteran broke a long run up with a series of stutter steps and launched the ball wide off the goal.
Villar was also outstanding in the previous 120 minutes - he had to be because the Brazilians were the far better team. He saved off Ganso who had a brilliant game and he also twice denied Pato and Neymar.
The US women can testify it is a cruel sport as their penalty shootout loss to Japan proves- its not always the better team that ends up winning.
C Ron scored a good goal in a recent Real Madrid v/s LA Galaxy friendly.He gave a demo of all his skills - speed, dribbling, stepovers ...and a great finish.
Real Madrid won the game 4 -1
The more thinks of this match the more admiration one has for the Nadeshiko. There are fewer bigger goals in history men or women than the one Homare Sawa pulled off in the 116th minute of extra time. The US did everything humanly possibly to win this match but for those who know better this can be such a cruel, cruel game. I have no other words other than the Japanese were guided by destiny. They never stopped coming back. These are highlights from match time and extra time.
Then came the penalty shoot out and it all fell apart for the USA. Ayumi Kaihori pulled of a monstrous save stopping Shannon Boxx. And Saki Kumagai finished off to give Japan a wondrous victory. I don't think there was a soul left untouched by what transpired in that match.
Megan Rapinoe was the best player on display fully justifying Pia Sundhage's faith in giving her the start. She was electric with her speed and crossing abilities and through her efforts the USA should have gone ahead with Lauren Cheney almost pulling off a version of her France goal.
It was Rapinoe finding Alex Morgan with her long distance connection and the Cal State striker blew past the Japanese defense a la Fernando Torres against Phillip Lahm in the 2008 Euro final. With the Japanese on the ropes it was left to a terrible mix up between Rachel Buehler and Ali Krieger that gifted the ball to Aya Miyama and she made no mistake. The USA again went ahead in extra time as Abby Wambach powered in her header from Morgan's cross and it appeared the USA for all practical purposes would be celebrating their third World Cup title. Till Sawa's historic goal.
The 1991 US team broke new ground winning the first ever World Cup and repeated the feat eight years later. By that time Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, and Kristine Lilly were household names. US women's soccer and success are so inextricably intertwined with those names leaving each succeeding squad aspiring to reach the same heights and write their names into history. It's a double edged sword providing both motivation and pressure at the same time.
Today, the US looks to a group that have that chance. Some like Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx, and Christine Rampone have fought in previous World Cups but have come up short. This time around they have put into place some of the missing pieces that should give them their best chance in 12 years. Lauren Cheney is has having the tournament of her life and she has a partner in Heather O'Reilly who provide the cut and thrust down the flanks.
The US will have to take full advantage on the counterattacks because their opponents the Japanese have shown stifling control of the ball. The US still have the best attacking weapon in Abby Wambach who has found the net with some huge momentum changing goals. The danger with Japan's possession game is that she might be forced into ball retrieval duties leaving her in an disadvantaged position during the counterattacks. For that not to happen, the US needs to close down the gaps very quickly and throw the Japanese off their passing game. Homare Sawa is their metronome and there might be good reason to shadow her. It was Sawa who found Karina Maruyama to send the Germans out of the World Cup.
The Nadeshiko have also shown that they're no slouches when it comes to set pieces themselves with Aya Miyama the cream of the crop despite her short stature. She showed her ability to bend the ball around the taller Swedish defense and there is no reason to suspect that she might not do the same against the US.
One cause for optimism here is the US defense who were very good against a very organized French attack and in Hope Solo, they have the best custodian possible. An early goal will be a great way to begin and in both instances when the US has done so they have prevailed. Pia Sundhage can look to Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan for impact off the bench. The Japanese have not won against the USA in 26 encounters but this is a very different team. The US is favoured to win but the Nadeshiko have the emotional support of millions in the world.
The end of Colombia came almost anticlimactically in extra time after 90 minutes of spectacular shots which had both goalies jack knifing through the air, a missed penalty by Radamel Falcao, and two reprieves for Peru as the ball blasting Dayro Moreno and Fredy Guarin threatened to end the match. But Peru survived it all and in turn tested Luis Martinez with Luis Vargas and Adan Balbin coming close.
Peru administered a shock in the 102nd minute when Luis Martinez coming yards out to collect a free kick spilled it straight into the path of Carlos Lobaton. The midfielder taking a few steps blasted the half volley straight into the back of the net with Martinez sprawled out helpless on the pitch. At the other end Raul Fernandez had to endure another long distance thunderbolt from Fredy Guarin and after the teams crossed over Moreno had another go. It was Martinez at fault again with a rather casual return kick which Guerrero intercepted and racing ahead found Vargas who smashed the ball home.
Los Cafateros looking so good in the group stage were unable to finish their chances. Dayro Moreno and Fredy Guarin were the cream with their long range efforts. Guarin in particular weaved a mesmerizing mazy run down the left but his shot was saved by the excellent Fernandez. Peru make their first semi-final entry since the 1997 Copa.
The manager says he intends staying on and seeing his contract through to the end of the 2014 World Cup. The Copa America exit clearly hurts but the larger picture is the World Cup and its preparations.
Batista mentioned that the team did not play upto expectations against Bolivia and Colombia. But they found themselves in the Costa Rican match and played exceptionally well in the first half against Uruguay despite going behind early. He singled out Leo Messi.
"Leo played exceptionally well in those 30 minutes. The idea was to widen the game with more players. But our tactics changed after the bad luck with Mascherano and we could not find more offense even after bringing on Pastore."
"This is not failure. We did everything we could to win the Copa America. That we could not do so is not failure. That is just too strong a word. We gave it our best and that is why I am undisturbed."
These are revisionist words. The goal always was to win the Copa in home soil. Argentina last meaningful title was the 1993 Copa America and as Jonathan Wilson points out Batista lost the tactical battle to Oscar Tabarez.
Once again an Argentine squad packed with some of the best attacking talent in the world underachieved falling to a Uruguayan side in the Copa America quarterfinals. After 120 minutes, the teams battled to a 1-1 draw with both teams missing a number of chances.
Carlos Tevez, who's been the news for a strongly rumoured return to Corinthians could not put away his PK as the baby faced Fernando Muslera saved his effort. Minutes later the Uruguayan goalie almost stopped Javier Pastore as the Charruas showing the requisite composure came through in the penalty shootout. Martin Caceres did the honours with his match winning PK.
It was Caceres's flick of a Forlan free kick that got Sergio Romero into trouble and as the ball came lose Diego Perez was at hand to finish off the simple chance. Argentina came back with Messi showing his trademark control cutting in to lay a brilliantly placed cross which El Pipita gliding past the defense directed home.
Uruguay suffered a setback early after Perez already on a yellow was ejected in the 38th minute for a foul on Higuain. They showed some splendid regrouping and shut down the Argentinian attack well into the second half. The Albiceleste too played a man down after Javier Mascherano was sent off three minutes before match end.
The Messi slagging has begun - he's a choker and a pale imitation of Maradona, But Maradona, surrounded by lesser lights was remarkably fortunate to have players who knew what it took to play as a team. He only came alive in the quarterfinals and semi-finals of the 1986 World Cup as the group stage was carried by Oscar Ruggeri, Jorge Valdano, and Jorge Burruchaga.
With a core like that Don Diego was freed of the burden of expectations to take on England and Belgium where his performance is now the basis of all these comparisons. They also had a great coach in Carlos Bilardo who unfortunately has taken a hiatus from the national scene after his fallout with Maradona.
Messi like the 2010 World Cup had to endure changing roles in the same tournament on the whimsy of his coach as Fernando Gago and Ever Banega were unable to step up as creative playmakers. His circumstances have also left him with the burden of proving his national identity. Much of this has to do with years of living abroad in the protective confines of La Masia in his growing years and later on at Barca.
Maradona on the other hand spent his years abroad getting disillusioned paving his way for an eventual return much to the delight of the home crowd. He's enshrined in the national consciousness. It's an impossible act to follow and there have been many meaningless second comings of Don Diego (including his son in law, Sergio Aguero).
Messi and to a lesser extent, Mascherano were the two best players for Argentina and undoubtedly playing in a system that values the collective made that possible. It left them naively expecting the same sort of cohesion from the rest of the team.
A note on the victors. The Uruguayans once again showed they seem to possess that necessary mental toughness to win close matches.
Hassan Shehata is the new head coach of Zamalek.Hossam Hassan who led the team from 13th place to second was sacked ignominously for reasons unknown.
The decision to sack Hossam Hassan has not gone down well with Zamalek fans.
Zamalek fans are capable of some pretty impressive pyrotechnics..
After a cavalcade of circumstantial evidence pointed to Cesc Fabregas's final season at Arsenal there are now increasing doubts whether he will finally leave for Barca, his boyhood club.
Simply put the financial figures for Barca are not very flattering. The club has the highest wage bill in the world, a stupendous €234.8m (£205.3m) which push up operating costs to €380.1m (£333.75m) per year. The arrival of Alexis Sanchez will add to this amount in no small way. The club is technically in bankruptcy.
Sanchez's arrival should be put in its proper perspective. Barca is paying Udinese £40m (£27m + variables) for augmenting their attack even as the above figures show they are stretching their means to the limit. Fabregas's arrival will cost them £40m in transfer fees and add substantially to that wage bill. Meanwhile there is increasing talk of Thiago Alcantara, like Cesc, a La Masia product providing cheaper midfield cover. In three years he will be primed to take over Xavi. Sandro Rosell's foot dragging over Fabregas is indicative that there is a rethink going on.
The longer this goes on the more the media/blogs will swing to the viewpoint of Fabregas staying put. However, as Arseblog points out there are equally big priorities. All those Gary Cahill, Christopher Samba, and Phil Jagielka rumours have turned cold. The reason is Wenger ostrich like believes that Arsenal have very few defensive problems. Some mumbling about set pieces but really, actually, unbelievably they are good at the back. One should have suspected all this when he welcomed Pat Rice's extension.
Arsenal misses out on a golden opportunity to recruit the class of the 2004 Invincibles. Patrick Vieira retires and is absorbed within the Man City ranks as football development executive.
Vieira would have been an inspiration to an Arsenal team that has struggled with self belief and a six year drought after he left. Wenger was interested in him when he announced he was leaving Inter in 2009. In retrospect, the Arsenal manager thrashed the theory that he never re-signed a player already sold with his Sol Campbell and Jens Lehmann overtures. He could have hardly done worse with Vieira. Chalk this one up to stubbornness and short sightedness.
Arsenal could have really put meat on the bones with its talk of installing a winning mentality and showing loyalty by bringing Vieira to the organization. This Arsenal board is now known best for its preoccupation with internal wranglings and share buyouts.
Today, however, as Arsenal fans we salute Vieira as a legend who gave his club his best years and in turn gave us our best years.
The most notable arrest in the match fixing probe sweeping the Turkish league has been that of Aziz Yildirim, the chairman of league champions Fenerbahce. Almost 100 people have been taken into custody throwing the future of next season into doubt.
Match fixing suspicions are centred around 17 matches, five which involve the league champions who rose from a distant third in the second half of the season to pip Trabzonspor to the title on goal difference. If proven then Fenerbahce could be stripped of the title at the least and also face relegation. But Trabzonspor fans who had started to celebrate a possible awarding of the title had to hold off as their chairman Sadri Sener was detained for questioning into the match fixing allegations.
In a list dominated by NFL teams in which all 32 find a spot in the top 50 sports franchises, the pride of place goes to Man Utd with a valuation of $1.86 billion.
Utd is a branding behemoth and their AON shirt sponsorship is worth $32m over four years. Next year their Nike shoe merchandise will be renewed for $70m, an increase of $30m over their existing contract to expire in 2015. They are also set to go public at the Hang Seng which will push their valuation to over $2.7b.
Real Madrid is 5th ($1.45b)and Arsenal 7th ($1.19b). There are eight football teams in all, second only to the NFL. The rest are:
19. Bayern Munich ($1.03b) 26. Barcelona ($975m) 34. AC Milan ($838m) 46. Chelsea ($658m) 49. Juventus ($628m)
The clubs located in cities where real estate/commercial property is expensive naturally have an advantage as their stadium and surrounding environs are valued more. Chelsea is an exception because although located in London it is also one of the most leveraged clubs with $889m of debt put on the club and its holding company.
The Sun reports Man Utd are in advanced negotiations with Inter over Wesley Sneijder with his signing expected within the week. David Gill, Utd's CEO did not accompany Man Utd on their US tour staying back to tie up the last details before Sneijder is announced. Inter have settled on £35m as his transfer fee.
In Milan, Inter's Marco Branca however was still denying Sneijder was on sale. As per Branca, there has been no official offer tendered and club is committed to keep their star midfielder.
Sir Alex has made clear he expects a quality replacement for Paul Scholes and his announced targets were Xavi, Iniesta, Nasri, and Sneijder. The first three proved unattainable with Sneijder, relatively available because Inter appears to be in the process of offloading with the financial reforms looming large.
The Asian tour saw Arsene Wenger upbraid Man City for their obvious ploy to circumvent financial fair play rules by signing an inflated £400m sponsorship deal part of which changes Eastlands to Etihad Stadium.
City can now put this amount in the revenue column and claim they are living within their means. Meanwhile the largess from this naming arrangement makes for business as usual. The club can go its merry way skewing the transfer market by paying exorbitant fees for the players it wants.
Wenger who's been a staunch proponent of financial reform has openly questioned the deal and says such sponsorship deals have to be at market value. City's naming rights deal is the first big test in UEFA's drive to ensure a uniform playing field.
In this particular case the chairman of Etihad Airways, Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan is the half brother of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan. UEFA's financial reforms stipulate that such family connections could trigger the "related party" smell test that examines such financial arrangements to see if there is undue influence between parties.
However all this could prove difficult in ascertaining a mark to market value on this complex sponsorship deal because it already resembles a mortgage backed security.
There is real estate and commercial development involved as the adjoining areas of the stadium are to be developed as Etihad campus envisioned as a world capital of sport and include "a sixth form college, sports science centre and a headquarters for national sports' governing bodies." City wants to develop other sports as well like basketball, rugby, taekwando, badminton, and netball.
The expansion has already been greenlighted by Manchester's executive council in conjunction with New East Manchester and the club. City's deal with Etihad will provide the council with £18-20m of funds needed to kickstart this massive project.
It is clear that UEFA will run afoul of public sentiment and more pertinently City can claim the deal cannot be examined through the prism of a simpler stadium and shirt sponsorship with all its secondary accruements which could yield substantial long term economic benefits to the community at large far beyond the 10 year contract. All they have to show are charts of projected job opportunities and valuations of the sports city infrastructure to create a picture of a commensurate market value.
Wenger and Karl Henry's concerns are well understood but really there is no way that UEFA can establish a fair market value on this deal. They can make vague conflict of interest noises and frown disapprovingly but this arrangement cannot be revoked. In some ways this is a limitation of the financial fair play rules as big clubs with their superior revenue generating sources will always find a way around them. It's the smaller clubs that face the full measure of these financial reforms which really does not make for a level playing field.
He's now officially a wantaway. Why does Daniel Levy drive away all the good players from his club?
Chelsea will get Modric in the end.
Josefine Oqvist's early goal flattered to deceive as Japan tightened the screws around Sweden and ran out 3-1 victors in an exhibition of Barca style touch football. Nahomi Kawasumi scored a brace and Homare Sawa added another for Japan. The Nadeshiko play their first World Cup final in one of the fastest ascents in world football.
Lauren Cheney's goal and set piece assist proved vital to the US semi-final win over France. The US fought off a very impressive French attack and then launched some very opportunistic counterattacks against some questionable defending to prevail. Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan were the other US goalscorers. Sonia Bompastor scored for Les Bleus. The US now faces Japan in the finals on Sunday.
David Bingham's debut for the San Jose Earthquakes was quite seismic. Before his epic goal he actually thinks of throwing the ball to a player in the outfield.
He then boots the ball (physics tells you the longest trajectories by projectiles are achieved at 45 degrees to the horizontal) which bounces on the D in front of West Brom's Boaz Myhill and skips over. Myhill barely moved a muscle. Chalk up another spectacular MLS goal in a list of quite a few this year. It was the game winning goal as the Earthquakes won, 2-1. West Brom under Roy Hodgson finished a respectable 11th in the EPL.
We can honestly report that the craft of football won this match. The Nadeshiko outclassed a physically superior Swedish team with their sophisticated possession, precision passing, and end product. There is no shame comparing them to Barcelona and Sweden to Man Utd because it resembled the Champions League final in scoreline as well as in the contrasting styles of football.
Like Xavi, Busquets, and Iniesta for Barca; Homare Sawa, Kozue Ando, and Aya Miyama painted pretty triangles of one touch football as Japan swamped the Swedish goal putting the goalie Hedvig Lindahl under tremendous pressure. Somewhat similar to Edwin Van Der Sar who did not have the best performance between the sticks for Utd, she too cracked, her weak parry of a cross falling to Sawa who lost in the melee of tall Swedish defenders improvised heading the ball in for Japan's second goal.
Lindahl minutes later was caught out of position as her weak clearance fell invitingly to Kawasumi who showed wonderful touch to lob the ball into an open goal. It was the midfielder's second goal, the first coming off a Miyama cross which took the Swedish defense by surprise with Kawasumi injecting herself in front of Josefine Oqvist to bundle the ball between Lindahl's legs for Japan's equalizer.
Sweden's first and only chance resulted in an Oqvist goal after the Swedish striker latched onto a Sawa mispass and then blew past the Japanese defense to finish like Rooney. It was a start that flattered to deceive because for the next 80+ minutes Sweden did not have any other meaningful attempt at goal. Lotta Schelin was completely shut out as the Swedes struggled to mount anything coherent. There was nothing remotely resembling the team that managed to get to the semi-finals unbeaten.
We can shake our heads in disbelief and wonder why Sweden with an average height advantage of 4" over Japan could not do better on set pieces. It was Jonathan Wilson who observed that Barca's possession football is a type of defense with its purpose to keep the ball away from the opponent. This is what the USA should bear in mind when facing an undersized Japan. The other thing to be heeded when Japan does lose the ball it sets about immediately regaining possession. But they're not just married to this philosophy as Miyama and Shinobu Ohno have shown to be extremely dangerous long distance threats.
This is a victory to be savoured by football purists. For those less invested in such matters this is a uplifting win for the Japanese. The past months have been extremely draining as the nation rebuilds after the devastating earthquakes and faces a long term nuclear nightmare. There is much to celebrate in the human spirit here.
First, kudos have to go to the unsung US defense that battled a spectacular French side to no more damage than Sonia Bompastor's equalizer. Take a bow Christine Rampone, Amy LePeilbet, Ali Krieger, and especially Becky Sauerbrunn whose assured performance belied this being her World Cup debut.
In the second half, the French continued where they had left off from the first putting the USA to the sword riding on the scintillating performances by Louis Necib, Camile Abily, Gaetane Thiney, and Sonia Bompastor. The latter deservedly got the equalizer when Thiney missed her swerving cross and a distracted Solo could not recover in time to keep the ball out.
Just when the USA were wondering what they had to do to get back into the game Pia Sundhage introduced Megan Rapinoe for Carli Lloyd in the 65th minute. Slowly but surely the US clawed their way back as they managed to disrupt the French possession game and with Rapinoe down the left and Cheney shifting to the centre mounted some telling counterattacks of their own. Cheney again showed why she should be the MVP of the World Cup launching a perfect corner which only a player of Abby Wambach's height and power could get to giving the USA the lead once again. An aggressive French side pressing hard were exposed once again as Alex Morgan broke free and scooped the ball over Berangere Sapowicz. Icing on the cake.
Being an Arsenal fan, I can tell Bruno Bini watching his French side that possession and creative superiority count for nothing if one cannot finish chances and fail to defend. In fact, the similarities are quite similar as in Necib and Abily you've the equivalent of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas with their elaborate build up which in retrospect appear de trop. The other side meanwhile counts on a soft, error prone defense and an indecisive goalie for all the set piece mistakes that follow. Which is what happened. But this French side is a pleasure to watch and if they can solve some of their defensive problems should be a future top contender.
Now, the US meet either Sweden or Japan with the former being the more familiar foe. For sheer drama it should be Sweden as they were the ones to get the better of the USA in the group stage. But Japan remain the sentimental favourites for knocking off the defending champions Germany and what their country are going through post Fukushima.
Carli Lloyd's clever back heel has Heather O' Reilly doing what she does best -haring down the left flank and with a sliver of space curls in a cross which Lauren Cheney arriving near post turns into into goal. Perfect finish.
The USA got off to an early start for the second time in a row. And a good thing it is because so far it has been France waging war against Hope Solo. The US goalie has been on top so far making a great save off Gaetane Thiney and then riding her luck as Sonia Bompastor's shot off a set piece clanged off the crossbar. Louisa Necib has been sensational in recycling the French attack.
The next 45 minutes should see France press even harder which of course means the USA can sneak in another goal with a counterattack. But Les Bleus are known for their second half goals. An intriguing finish awaits.
...against Chinese and Malaysian sides respectively.
Liverpool beat Chinese team Guangdong ( a name vaguely reminiscent of someone ringing a bell) 3 - 4
szólj hozzá: Guangdong 3-4 Liverpool
Arsenal beat an All Stars Malaysian side by a more convincing 4 - 0 margin..
szólj hozzá: Malaysian XI 0-4 Arsenal
Team USA in a few minutes will take to the pitch facing an extremely dangerous France. Both teams are coming off exhausting quarterfinal matches against their opponents which went to penalty shootout. A key factor will be how well both teams rebound from those mentally and physically challenging roller coasters.
France has a powerful centre in Marie Laure Delie, a Didier Drogba like presence with her ability to muscle her way through opposition. Bruno Bini has a surfeit of attacking talent and can turn to Elodie Thomis, Eugenie Le Sommer, Sandrine Bretigny on the bench. But the key to France's success is in the midfield with Laura Necib sitting in the playmaker role with Camile Abily playing just behind Delie and one of the best holding midfielders in Elise Bussaglia. The wide game comes from Sonia Bompastor and Laure Lepailleur two wing backs who like to maraud down the flanks.
The USA will have to make sure they attack down the wings through Lauren Cheney and Heather O'Reilly and push Bompastor and Lepailleur into defending duties. The French defense is aggressive and likes to play a high line. On numerous occasions they've been caught out as England found their way through Jill Scott so a well placed long ball to Abby Wambach could be the way forward.
Becky Sauerbrunn gets her first taste of World Cup action in place of the suspended Rachel Buehler. This is a trial by fire and she will have her hands full. For the French, their first string goalie Berangere Sapowicz, is in the line up after serving her suspension.
Update: Bruno Bini has replaced Sabrina Viguier in a shake up of the centre back pairing with Ophelie Meilleroux.
The Udinese winger now doing duty for Chile at the Copa America has signed for £40m to be paid in installments with a down payment of £25m.
His transfer fee has been seized by Arsenal as evidence that Barca can pay more for Cesc Fabregas. The English side are now demanding a minimum of £35m for the services of their captain. This puts another wrench in the proceedings.
Pep Guardiola seems to be entertaining serious doubts as to whether this will end favourably and is reportedly chagrined by Sandro Rosell's inertia to close the deal. He has pointed out that the delay makes it more difficult to prepare his squad for the forthcoming season and is contemplating turning to Thiago Alcantara, whose outstanding U21 Euro performance shows he's primed for the senior squad.
Stay tuned to this story that will go to the wire. The longer this goes on the better the prospects of Fabregas remaining at Arsenal. If this happens then he will stay till 2015 when his contract runs out. Hopefully by that time he will have become a legend.
As for Sanchez, he just makes a club that already has everything in place a lot better.
The Arsenal midfielder shows why he might be the doyen of his generation. At a press conference when asked whether Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas would stay on he went completely unscripted.
"Loyalty is a big part of football and it shows if you are a real man or not."
We cannot put a finer point on this. There is always this huge onus on bringing the right players to finally break that title drought. This is but an expensive and ill wrought substitute for belief in the club. Wilshere's words are extremely important because this is the first time an Arsenal player has addressed a central theme in the club's failure to cohere. He's thrown down the gauntlet and demanded the rest of the players rally around the club. "Then we will see if we can get a trophy or not." Very nicely put, Jack.
In an ideal world every time an Arsenal player goes out on the pitch they should remember who they are representing. Not an agent nor a sum of money. Football is a simple game, its instincts paradoxically are far more complex. But fealty should be the zero sum game.
Wilshere's words are going down big in the Spanish media who are so used to the Barca players gaming the whole Fabregas saga with their own statements. Today was no different as Xavi vacationing in Ibiza with the Arsenal captain said he looked preoccupied with the whole situation. According to Xavi, Arsenal had given Fabregas permission to leave this year but were reneging on that promise. Wenger is now calling on him to publicly declare his unhappiness which he said will be the only way he would let him go. Fabregas is loth to do so as Wenger had dug in his heels and says he's not here to make money but to keep his best players.
Here is the crux. What is Barcelona doing about it? They just signed Alexis Sanchez for close to £40m to be paid to Udinese in installments. Now that is what wanting a player looks like. Meanwhile, they are dilly dallying with Arsenal over Fabregas's transfer fee. Forget about that lip service towards bringing down the debt and playing by the financial fair play rules. There is only one club that is creating all this unhappiness and it is not the English one.
Alive and Kicking is a registered charity that operates as a social enterprise.They manufactures footballs for children, with each ball having a health-related message printed on it to try and raise awareness about issues such as the spread of AIDs and malaria.
Alive & Kicking Kenya's 2011 road show visited four zones around the sugar town of Mumias in western Kenya. Funded by the Safraricom Foundation and in partnership with Sporting Chance, the road show bus was officially flagged off from the Safaricom House on May 6th, and by the time it returned on June 12th over 40 schools had taken part in football coaching, tournaments, and HIV/AIDS education.
Argentina found themselves as a team facing Costa Rica after desultory draws against Bolivia and Colombia. A must win situation against a team with a huge incentive to force a draw.
Brazil also followed suit with draws against Venezuela and Paraguay. They face their weakest opposition in Ecuador far from the high altitude comfort of Quito. Uruguay similarly face an already eliminated Mexican team composed of mostly second stringers. The last round has been fortuitously lined with weaker opposition with few stakes to play for other than pride.
Mano Menezes has already conceded that the Brazilians did not show the requisite patience against Paraguay. But more damagingly, many players played out of position and forced into a number of individual errors. In particular, Dani Alves was found wanting in stopping Marcelo Estigarribia from his Gareth Bale impersonation. Their insipid performance has renewed calls for Ronaldinho and Kaka.
These are the growing pains of a team putting its faith in a new generation that includes Paulo Henrique Ganso and Neymar alongside veterans like Alves, Elano, and Lucio. There is a degree of unfamiliarity evidenced in the different tempo and the missed connections. The learning curve will have to be extremely brief but like Argentina against Costa Rica, the Selecao might finally gel to get past Ecuador in style. If that happens then Menezes has the template of a squad that will do battle for the 2014 World Cup.
All the stars point to a Carlos Tevez move to Corinthians. He wants to be closer to his daughters and the Brazilian club is familiar territory leading them to the championship in 2005. The most doubtful part is not how they could come up with £35m. As Tim Vickery points out Lula's neo-liberal policies are benefiting the club with deep roots to the democratic movement which ended years of military rule. There is a different reason why this sounds so improbable.
Tevez's transfer if it happens will bring back painful memories of the years following the 2005 season. His agent Kia Joorabchian, a former board member of MSI, the sports marketing giants who took over financial control of club was virtually on the lam as a Brazilian judge issued arrest warrants for him, Nojan Bedroud, and Boris Berezovsky, a Russian oligarch exiled in the UK, on money laundering charges. Berezovksy was reported to be MSI's main funding source even as he continued to deny his association with Joorabchian and MSI.
The turmoil deepened further when it was discovered that Alberto Dualib, the Corinthians president was discovered to have received a huge payout for ceding control to MSI. The board in the pocket of MSI were bamboozled by the prospects of high priced Galacticos revolutionizing the club. It never happened and the club was relegated in 2007 and their assets frozen. The club severed ties with MSI thereafter following a fallout in relations with investors and fans focusing their frustrations around the company's interference in transfers. The club was left victimized by damaging third party transactions when it was discovered it only owned five players.
So why risk Tevez and his unsavoury association with an agent, part of an ethos that ushered in Corinthians darkest hour? It's not as if Tevez himself is less of a risk blowing hot and cold with every club he's been so far including fleeing from Corinthians because he feared for his life. If they have £35m to blow then why not go for some of the higher priced Brazilians in the European leagues. Surely there are players matching in talent with less happy feet than Tevez.
Sir Alex says Samir Nasri is not joining Man Utd thus confirming Wenger's commitment not to sell to a rival. However, there is an increasing likelihood that the Arsenal manager might be willing to see Nasri's contract expire next year and risk losing him for free.
Nasri is presently in Malaysia as part of Arsenal's Asian tour which can be taken as a strong indicator of his continued career at the club. However, this being Sir Alex he was not willing to let go without introducing some doubt.
"I don't think he is coming to United," said Ferguson, who was speaking at the start of United's American tour.
"That is all I can tell you. I think he has agreed to go somewhere else."
Where to? Which of course should make for good tabloid fodder. Utd for their part will have to focus on Wesley Sneijder or Luka Modric to rebuild their midfield.
From what one reads Leo Messi will never be the people's player no matter what he does. There are too many questions when it comes to where his heart lies. But the question really should be does Argentina deserve Messi?
The best thing Checho Batista did against Costa Rica was to put that £250,000 per week mercenary Carlos Tevez on the bench. Tevez of course is the people's player so this was a gutsy call by Batista. In his place Angel Di Maria got his start and right away the winger's mobility and unselfish play lifted the team.
The other thing Batista got right was to promote Fernando Gago over Ever Banega and his organizational skill was key to the team's success. Finally after two matches we had a shape and structure to the Argentinian squad. But this match was all Messi. And it is a good thing he created a half dozen chances because Gonzalo Higuain was dire. At times the Real Madrid striker resembled John Arne Riise in hoofing the ball into the stratosphere.
Not so Sergio Aguero, a grateful recipient of Messi's lovely little through ball for his second goal. Angel Di Maria was also the beneficiary of number 10's vision as he smashed in the third goal. All through the match Messi was given special attention by the Costa Rican defense and clearly in one instance a penalty should have been called but the referee chose to wave it off. That inexplicable bit of ignorance was nothing compared to Higuain held back in full sight of the linesman with a clear path to the goal treated as a non-event.
Argentina made their intentions amply known in the first half as they showed their impatience to get on the board quickly but their finishing let them down.Things became tense as Higuain and Aguero missed miserably with Messi's impeccably delivered service. The breakthrough finally came at the stroke of half time after the Costa Rican defense failed to clear a cross adequately with the ball falling to Gago whose volley was initially saved by Leonel Moreira but the resulting rebound was picked up by Aguero for an easy finish.
The second half was all Argentina with Messi leading the way. By the time Ezekiel Lavezzi, Lucas Leiva, and Javier Pastore came on it was all over. Ricardo La Volpe, the Costa Rican coach very obviously played for a draw but he came across an Argentinian squad that finally played as a team. It was heartening to see them come across an energized Messi to hug him after the match. A stunning contrast from the forlorn droopy shouldered image he cut in the draw against Colombia.
Even the most cursory of followers would not have failed to be gripped by the epic unfolding yesterday. As the end of extra time approached the USA was in mortal danger of failing to advance past the quarterfinals for the first time leaving Brazil with their first taste of victory in the World Cup over their rivals.
How Abby Wambach summoned all her nerve to power in that header from Megan Rapinoe as extra time winded down to its last moment one will never know. The stage was set for the penalty shootout demanding even more fortitude and courage. Ali Krieger sealed the win as millions watching this match finally exhaled. It was like a beloved soap opera coming to a close with its twists and turns. An emotional rollercoaster that resulted in a happy ending for the USA.
The US got off to a magnificent start first within a minute and a half as Shannon Boxx raced to swipe a ball headed for the endline. The Brazilians were clearly unprepared for the low driving cross that she got off as Daiane fronted her goalie inadvertently for an own goal. The USA were on the frontfoot as Brazil took about 20 minutes to mount their first serious challenge.
The 65th minute was probably the moment Marta's reputation was destroyed. She clearly sold that penalty kick which got Rachel Buehler ejected. Hope Solo was able to save the penalty as one thought justice was done. But the Australian referee Jacqui Melksham spotted an encroachment by a US player and the PK was retaken and this time Marta made no mistake. Solo was also booked for dissent.
The second goal was controversial too but this time Shannon Boxx should have known better to have taken her eye off the marauding Marta out as she appealed for an offside that was not given. That's all the space the Brazilian needed to separate herself for her second goal. She ties Birgit Prinz with 14 goals as the World Cup top scorer. Brazil was up 2-1 in extra time and with the minutes winding down sensing victory till Wambach's miraculous goal in added time. All credit to her and Rapinoe whose head's up play made it all possible.
In the PK shootout, Boxx got things going after a re-take as the Brazilians and the US traded penalties till Daiane, she off the own goal failed to convert as Solo guessed right. It all came to an end as Krieger coolly slotted the ball past Andreia. On a note here, one clearly sees Rapinoe relishing her spot as she positively belts the ball into the net. What a fighter. Another defining moment in so many.
Pia Sundhage after the match:
"I have no words. Phenomenal. The goal and then the PKs. Someone is writing this book. There is something about the American attitude to find a way to win. Unbelievable."
Abby Wambach on her goal and the PK shootout:
"Megan Rapinoe just put that ball on my head. Luckily I didn't miss and the rest is history, I guess. We had the momentum going into penalties. Shannon Boxx being able to re-take that first one obviously gave us a lift. Getting that first goal is huge."
Hope Solo again proving she's the best goalie:
"I was very confident. It's a hard way to win. It's a hard way to lose. You want the better team to win and I think the better team did win, but sometimes it doesn't always go that way. You never know what is going to happen, but I was confident. We've been practicing, we've been looking good in practice. Everybody was pretty much stone cold. We were ice. I felt like we put them away well."
These are the sort of matches that inspire a generation of new footballers. All praise for the US women for continuing to believe in themselves. They picked themselves up after losing Buehler in the 65th minute and falling back after a number of controversial decisions went against them. Wambach proved immense and one hopes that she has effectively silenced her critics. This was also the match that saw Marta tarnished as she showed her less charitable side. She clearly lost the crowd even as the world acknowledges her as arguably the best woman player to have played the sport. To have graced the sport has a completely different descriptive quality. A teary eyed Marta continued to insist that the fans loved her. Her team mate the much victimized Daiane did not talk to the media.
The USA meet a very good French side this Wednesday in the semi-finals while Sweden take on Japan. Wambach's words that she finally does not want to envy those who lift the World Cup might be coming a bit closer to fruition.
The US women's team would have felt pretty hard done by if they had lost this game.Both goals scored against them were controversial.The first came off a penalty that was retaken for reasons best known to the referee alone.The second was came from a pass from a player who was offside.
Abby Wambach equalised in the 122nd minute and Hope Solo lived up to her name and reputation by proving to be the better goalkeeper at the penalty shootout.
A much better write on the proceedings up from Shourin is sure to follow.You will have to make do with this till then....!
In a short while, team USA plays what will be one of its most important matches - important because the trope of the USA being a dominant force in women's soccer rides on how they perform in this World Cup. The competition has seen Norway and Germany crash out, two traditional rivals of the US and in their place France and Japan have been installed as rising powers. Sweden is the only country that have matched their on paper credentials.
The US have done well considering Abby Wambach managed her first goal only in the third and final group match in the 1-2 loss against Sweden. They've been infected by remarkable inefficiency like the men's team in converting scoring opportunities. Much has to do with a sort of inbuilt shot clock which does not allow the play to develop leading to low percentage shots. Against Sweden, they created far more opportunities but their finishing let them down. Against Brazil they will need to maximize all the scoring chances they get.
They have an overwhelming record against the Selecao but their more recent encounters have been quite close. One of the key match ups will be how the US centrebacks deal with Cristina and Rosana. Marta loves to play down the wings cutting in and trying to find Cristina playing closer to goal with Rosana roaming upfield to try her hand at those long range sizzlers. Does Pia Sundehage go with Amy LePielbet shadowing Marta everywhere she goes like Bruna did for Equatorial Guinea? There are pros as Marta was rendered ineffective in the first half but Brazil went to its myriad attacking options running out easy victors by match end.
The USA should start Heather O' Reilly with her attacking instincts and drive proving to be a more attractive option than Shannon Boxx. Against Sweden there was too much time spent in midfield and O'Reilly should bring a more direct style.
A note on Solo. She has shown little after effects of the right shoulder surgery so far but there have been reports of having difficulties with full extension.The Brazilians will test her from distance to see if this is indeed true.
Update: Pia Sundaghe has included both O'Reilly and Boxx. The inclusion of Boxx brings a more defensive mindset with her shadowing Marta in her free role.
After eliminating Norway in the group stage, the Matildas could not become Scandinavian giant killers falling to Sweden in the quarters. But they did stretch their opponents as Ellyse Perry scored to make inroads into Sweden's lead. Lisa De Vanna, Tameka Butt and Kyah Simon kept the back line busy and Collette McCallum was a constant threat with her set pieces.
Australia could have made it more competitive but a defensive giveaway gifted Sweden their third goal as Lotta Schelin pounced on Kim Carroll's casual back pass to put the ball past Melissa Barbieri. Schelin and Therese Sjogren were the architects in Sweden's win as the former set up the latter for Sweden's first goal. Sjogren then found Lisa Dahlkvist with her inch perfect cross to send up Sweden two ahead.
Sweden now take on Japan in the semi-finals between two technically gifted teams. The Nadeshiko have shown they're not afraid of a physically superior side having shocked Germany yesterday. Their underrated defense have been the surprise of this World cup.
Fred's last gasp goal saved Brazil from a quick exit from the Copa America. Ganso's flick found the veteran striker who took it one bounce and laid it past Justo Villar. After that the team celebrated as if they had won the World Cup. The way they're playing such celebrations might be in order.
The big names Dani Alves, Pato, and Neymar were just terrible. Alves in particular got taken to the cleaners by Marcelo Estigarribia for both of Paraguay's goals. Neymar went in for ball hogging glory and Pato did not show up.
Brazil's first goal was the result of Ramires industry- the Chelsea winger striding through midfield, falling after getting tackled, recovering the ball and passing to Ganso all in one continuous sequence. Ganso found Jadson cutting in from the right. The Shakhtar Donetsk striker angled a scorching grounder past Villar to give Brazil the lead.
Paraguay answered back in the second half after Estigarribia blowing past Alves found Santa Cruz with his cross which the Blackburn striker clinically converted. It was his 25th international goal which makes him Paraguay's joint top scorer along with José Saturnino Cardozo. There was a comic interlude on the sidelines as Gerardo Martino brusquely waved off Haedo Nelson Valdes's celebratory overture.
Valdes was the focal point of Paraguay's second goal as the indefatigable Estigarribia bundled Alves off the ball and laid the ball across goal to find Valdes whose attempt led to an inadvertent ping pong of rebounds with the ball finally lodged at the back of the net.
Just when the Albirroja looked like they were going to pull off a memorable win came Fred's equalizer. In Group B the Venezuelans occupy the top spot with Paraguay and Brazil tied for second. Ecuador brings up the rear.
Beckham bent it as only Beckham can against Chicago Fire. This was the winning goal.
Earlier he bent another free kick goalwards and which was then headed in by Donovan.
Germany with its many weapons fall silent after Karina Maruyama's brilliant finish off a pinpoint pass by Homare Sawa. The defending champions were sent packing as Japan showed skill and true grit throughout the match. A well deserved win for the Nadeshiko.
Kim Kulig was an early exit suffering a knee strain as the Germans absorbed her absence to create a number of opportunities. But the Japanese proved to be resilient on defense setting up the scenario for Maruyama's historic goal in extra time. It was almost as if the Germans had walked themselves into a rope a dope knockout.
This was not the sendoff Birgit Prinz envisioned. For a generation of fans coming of age Prinz was the byword in women's football. As iconic as Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, Sun Wen, Sissi, and Hege Riise. She was a non-factor in Sylvia Nied's scheme of things in this World Cup. A player of her quality deserved better. An adieu and an acknowledgment to one of the best in women's football is in order.
Edge of seat stuff. This World Cup has captured the imagination of millions around the world because of the way women have chosen to play the sport.
An outclassed England hung on grimly as France with their superior game threatened to swamp them at every given moment. PK's finally decided the game. Karen Bardsley was immense but she too was fighting the inevitable, as France the fitter and faster team, finally got their deserved win.
Hope Powell will get called out on the unforgivable sin of keeping Kelly White and Faye Smith on as they played wounded. It hurt just to see these two greats grimace every time they put weight on their foot. Powell should also be held accountable for putting ingenue Claire Rafferty on the spot for the PK shootout.
There is a gulf in the game between both countries wider than the straits of Dover. France have so much depth in midfield. Abily, Bompastor, Necib,Thiney, and Bussaglia were pound for pound on a different level altogether. Bruno Bini looked unperturbed because of his deep bench. Necib the best player on display was pulled because Bini had the luxury of Thomis, Bretigny and Le Sommer in reserve.
Watch out for France because they could go all the way.
The biggest shock in World Cup football. Can it getter bigger than this? The Women's World Cup champions are eliminated ignominiously. OMGD!! Homare Sawa the midfield general sends Karina Maruyama streaking and the Philadelphia Union striker finishes off impeccably as the Germans flounder in a field of pain.
After weeks of the never ending tragicomedy spectacle of the media getting pretzel shaped over Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas, Arsene Wenger finally broke radio silence vowing to fight as hard as possible to keep both players at the club.
The announcement came as one report had Nasri sold to City for £23m and the other Wenger agreeing to raise the French midfielder's wages to £110,000 per week. Nasri is included in Arsenal's maiden Asian tour while Fabregas has a 'small muscular' problem that will keep him out.
The Sun (through cell phone hacking) have learned that Fabregas has already told team mates that he's leaving Arsenal this summer. Barca and Arsenal are haggling to the wire as conflicting report have Maxwell or Jean Abidal arriving at the Emirates while another has Barca deducting the costs of Jon Toral and Hector Bellerin to keep the transfer fee down. The Daily Mail has Barca's bid of £31m being rejected with Arsenal demanding £4m more to secure his transfer.
Wenger meanwhile also went on to say that Gervinho is close to signing. Which should keep a few hearts from exploding. He's also working long nights to bring those boatloads of transfers as promised. But here is the rub, the inflow is predicated on the number of players moving out. Which means that this transfer season will be rather long as clubs try and pay as little quid for Denilson, Squillaci, Bendtner, and Almunia.
The transfer market has been most active within the top tier standouts in the same league. This degree of insularity is by design. With belt tightening few can afford to risk spending on a high priced overseas transfer in the toughest league. The problem with Arsenal is that over the years their bench has been exposed for their underachieving ways while being paid exorbitant wages per week. They're simply unattractive to league rivals. For Wenger it creates an unpleasant stasis of sorts.
He will have to look outwards to flog the likes of Denilson, Bendtner, Squillaci, and Almunia. But other than the Russian league which is flush with new money most clubs in the other European leagues are financially crocked. They might take on these players but at desperately cut rate prices as the transfer window winds down. It leaves Wenger with very little wiggle room. But one suspects he's not really sweating bullets over this aspect.
Through all this hype, Wenger has been remarkably consistent in his theme of 'tweaking' the team. 95% he's gotten right and 5% is all else that is needed for 'success.' Here he provides more evidence.
"I have said many times that we were very close to winning things last season, despite the disappointment we had at the end. I hope that provokes a response from my players. We were so close this time we want to come back and achieve it."
He's not looking to the outside. The solution lies within the existing group of players who're expected to step up to the plate. Despite all those snafus on the pitch Wenger echoes a battered wife analogy of times are going to get better. The priority remains:
"My responsibility is first of all not to lose players and then to add and make us stronger.
He ends ominously in a sort of half whisper you hear while headed out the door:
"Let's hope we can bring in one or two more additions of top quality."
At times this well worn obduracy can be unwelcome. But one has to admire him for his refusal to buckle to the judgment by committee on how things need to be done. He's reminding fans and critics that he's still Arsenal's manager. They're not.
In a few minutes, Hope Powell's squad take on Les Bleus in the quarterfinals. The English are finally gelling after a slow start with Kelly Smith, their top scorer yet to open her account. But their spark has come from other players like Rachel Yankey, Jill Scott, Stephanie Houghton, and Ellen White.
The French are entering the quarterfinals for the first time determined to make this a memorable World Cup. On talent, Les Bleus edge out the English with no player the calibre of Camile Abily and the power of Marie-Laure Delie. This however, is the knockout stage where only goals matter and England's display against a technically gifted Japan should provide that much needed confidence booster.
The English defensive unit will have to be on guard against the crosses and set pieces into the box to Delie and Laura Georges. The French led their fightback against the Germans through the air with Delie and Georges on target. The Three Lionesses best hopes on attack are through Yankey and Smith with Ellen White proving dangerous with her improvisational ability.
An amount of £150m to switch the name from Eastlands to Etihad. It's nice to have deep pocketed friends rush in to save you from those pesky financial fair play rules looming in the horizon.
The players have a spanking new Airbus 330 to ferry them around for their matches. Sky blue in the team's colours with their logo and badge emblazoned on either side.
Let the good times roll. Money continues to be football's deepest philosophy.
It doesn't get any better than this.With Mexico and Germany tied at 2 goals each at 90 minutes Jordi Lopez scored a briliant winner with an overhead kick.
Pele's goal against the Germans at the end of Escape to Victory was fiction.This one is for real.
The comparision is a bit odious because those Germans were the bad guys and should not be confused with this marvellously talented bunch of U 17 german players who played a very good game of football here.
However the similarity is there.
And the goal is just marvellous.
Full highlights of the game here..
Gerald Pique dressed like one of the quidditch players from Hogwarts gives an old lady some potion to drink which makes her display football skills that are normally beyond the reach of ladies of that age.
Pique does not get on his broom and fly away at the end - which is a bit disappointing.
Sky Italia have something to do with this...
Harry Redknapp says Luka Modric is dazed and confused but otherwise happy. Which brings us to Led Zep's legendary song with a few revisions.
Been dazed and confused for so long it's not true
Wanted a real club, never bargained for you
Lots of people talk and now we all know
Wages of a man was created at the Bridge, yeah
You hurt and abuse tellin' all of your lies
Run 'round dirty 'Arry, Lord how you hypnotize
Dirty little 'Arry, I don't know where you've been
Gonna leave you baby, high on dry gin
Every day I work so hard, bringin' Spurs my smooth arsed play
Try to love you 'Arry, but you push me away
Don't know where you're goin', only know just where you've been
Dirty little 'Arry, I'll leave you high on dry gin
Oh yeah, alright
I don't want your finger this time yeah
Oh don't leave me so confused, ah
Been dazed and confused for so long it's not true
Wanted a real club, never bargained for you
Take it easy baby, you can say what you will
Tongue wag so much when I see you at the Bridge?
Oh yeah, alright
The only piece of business done so far is Gael Clichy and the only signing yet is Carl Jenkinson. The Arsenal transfer rumours are driven by a couple of different subtexts.
The club has not won silverware for six years: The fact that our winning tradition died quite some time ago leads to lots of angst. This has become the dominant theme with every passing year. Players like comparing their trophy count and unfortunately none at Arsenal have the luxury of even one. It's a breeding ground for wantaways, yes? Players desirous for success look to established winners. Darwin had something to say about natural selection.
The work of Dan Ariely, a Duke University sociologist establishes women are intrinsically drawn to taller men and the difference in inches is made up by a commensurate increase in their earning power. There is even a scalable index. A 5' 9" man to be considered equally attractive as a 5' 10" competitor has to earn £25,000 more a year. Which would ensure a scramble for limb lengthening procedures or the cheaper option of pimp daddy shoes to forgo that second job to be with the one you crave.
In the context of Arsenal would even one Premier League title won in the last few years make a practical consideration to a player seeking a bump from £90,000 to £140,000 per week? If Ariely's observations are generalizable then it is so. Since Arsenal enforces a line in the sand when it comes to player wages it remains an untestable hypothesis. We've to look to our rivals to establish that premise. In this case City without a winning record but with the financial wherewithal has proven a conduit for former Arsenal players with access to a pool of disgruntled transferees. The media playing up Nasri's association to City is working on past precedent and with Wenger warning off Utd's approach to the French midfielder is hedging its bets on an Eastlands move.
The arrival of Gervinho is off the burners. There is no news at all. Yesterday, there were reports in the Telegraph and swallowed whole by this blog about the Lille winger undergoing a medical at the London Colney training grounds. Gervinho in an interview talked glowingly about Arsenal and it being his first choice. This too has a context. He's made an impact in the French Ligue which naturally piques Wenger's interest. After all the composition of the present Arsenal team is but a subset of the Ligue. Bendtner and Chamakh have failed to give RVP the relief he needs up front so there is reason for additional help. At £10m Arsenal he's the perfect price for the price conscious Wenger. All these bits of circumstantial evidence build up to a powerful case of Gervinho's arrival.
Wenger's close to the chest attitude also helps drive these speculations. Unlike Sir Alex who telegraphs his intention and then uses Utd's drawing power to expedite the transfers. There really was no mystery to Phil Jones and it was just Blackburn hoping to squeeze out more money. David De Gea played coy with his move for a few weeks but everyone in the media knew he was looking to Old Trafford for his next challenge. Ashley Young's was a done deal. Meanwhile the Emirates hangs in a twilight zone with the media taking up the vacuum to pump story after story. Some like grapeshot are bound to hit the target but there is a context to each one provided by precedence and Wenger's motivations.
Watching Leo Messi, a shadow of himself struggle against Colombia throws into sharp relief the magnificent Barca midfield that makes goalscoring look so easy. The Albiceleste should on first look fare just as well with their squad teaming with the creative talent the likes of Ezequiel Lavezzi, Ever Banega, Javier Pastore, Fernando Gago, Esteban Cambiasso, and Angel Di Maria.
They, however could not find their way through a dogged Colombian defense led by veteran Mario Yepes. There was no one in midfield to take on the responsibility of orchestrating the attack. In the initial stages of the 2010 World Cup, a cautious Maradona looked to Juan Sebastian Veron to provide the linkage between midfield and the upper third and it worked admirably till the devil got to Maradona and he jettisoned Veron to the disastrous result against Germany.
Against Colombia, Batista employed Javier Mascherano and Esteban Cambiasso as holding midfielders with Ever Banega as the creative nexus but the disjointed and frantic performance at times saw Cambiasso out in front of Messi with Tevez stuck out in the left where he was ineffective.
Passes went helter skelter as players played out of position and the Colombians found it easy to garner the ball. In the last Copa, the Albiceleste were buoyed by Juan Roman Riquelme and Veron until the finals against Brazil where they were spanked when Riquelme did one of his disappearing acts. Batista went to his bench bringing in Aguero, Gago, and Higuain but it made no difference.
At the other end the few times the Colombians did mount an attack they looked very threatening with the speedy Adrian Ramos, Radamel Falcao, and Fredy Guarin testing Sergio Romero a number of times but the AZ Alkmaar goalie proved equal to the task preventing a shock victory. He was the man of the match.
It's not just Argentina but other big names like Brazil and Uruguay who have struggled against swarming defenses disrupting the attacking flow. The results so far have been a series of disappointing draws with many of them scoreless. So far only Chile have played to expectation but that too was against a completely new look Mexican team.
Kyah Simon scored a brace as the Matildas shrugged off a sluggish first half performance to battle the more experienced Norwegians on even terms in the second half. It was the Norwegians, however, exploiting the soft Australian defense who went up first through Elise Thorsnes.
Australia came back with a perfect answer as Lisa De Vanna's cross found Kyah Simon for the equalizer. De Vanna again linked up with Simon minutes later but this time her shot dragged wide. At the other end the Matildas escaped when Trine Ronning's booming freekick struck the crossbar. Riding that piece of luck the Matildas mounted a series of attacks one of which resulted in a corner. The impeccable Collette McCallum swinging delivery broke free to Kim Carroll who launched a cross into the box for Simon to glance her header past Erika Skarbo.
Norway were done for and the Australians celebrate their second consecutive entry into the World Cup quarterfinals where they will meet Sweden who topped Group C after defeating the USA.
Abby Wambach scored her first goal in this World Cup but it was not enough to stop Sweden whose rampaging Lotta Schelin subjected the US defense to all kinds of pressure. Amy LePeilbet had a horror show lucky to escape with just a yellow after she brought down Schelin in the box.
Referee Etsuko Fukano pointed to the spot. Hope Solo came inches away from stopping Lisa Dahlkvist but her shot had too much power. Matters became worse when Nilla Fischer's free kick from 20 yards out was diverted into goal by LePeilbet as Solo looked to have it covered. The half ended with Sweden up 2-0 and the USA spurning a number of chances as Amy Rodriguez, Wambach, and Carli Lloyd came close.
On resumption, the USA again dominated possession with a number of chances but only Wambach's conversion of a corner resulted in a goal. Sweden could have added to the tally but Schelin was mistakenly adjudged offside.
The USA now face Brazil in the quarterfinals and their lack of finishing should be of concern to Pia Sundhage. To get past the Brazilians they have to maximize their chances because the one thing the Selecao have shown is a killer instinct for goals.
Sundhage after Sweden's first win over the USA in four previous World Cup matches highlighted the lack of penetrative power.
"We could have been a little bit more patient, especially in the attacking third. We were too eager to play the ball into the box and we could have fought to get to the endline a little more. At times we knocked it around quite a bit in the midfield but we could have created bigger chances by fighting to the endline and playing from there."
The only player capable of doing that appeared to be Lauren Cheney. The introduction of veteran Shannon Boxx and Carli Lloyd slowed down game to one of attrition in the midfield. Heather O' Reilly should have been introduced to give more creativity on attack.
Arsene Wenger's nil by mouth approach as Arsenal head towards major resection this summer has dominated the discourse as signs point to a club heading towards dysfunctionality and descent into gradual oblivion.
Paul Scholes writes that Utd's energies are now devoted to fending off Chelsea not Arsenal, Paul Hayward opines Wenger's experiment is stuffed which only a £80m enema will relieve, Dominic Fifield blames the club's refusal to go over £90,000 per week in salary for the mass desertion, Phil McNulty believes Wenger faces his greatest challenge since he was blamed for the demise of English football. The Arsenal board has also not shown the requisite alacrity in dealing with these vexing developments, a failing pointed out by both Nina Bracewell, former member and Alisher Usmanov, the other major stockholder.
Actually I'm sick that this great club is being taken apart by people paid to write this stuff. Where are the plaudits for a club that takes the greater global financial crisis in context and is sensibly tightening its belt while the rest lurch to the next overpaid transfer for a never ending happy hour? Have the naysayers who constantly harped about how Wenger would never suffer to see an English tinge in his squad recalibrated their criticism now that he's rebuilding the squad around Jack Wilshere?
Where is the criticism of City, Chelsea, and even Utd for their spending? Was Liverpool upbraided for skewing the transfer market spending £20m for Jordan Henderson? Right now the media celebrates Andre Villas-Boas elevation to a club that has built no legacy other than a smorgasbord of departed coaches, badly behaved players, boring football, and mounting debt. Where is the outrage there?
Arsenal should probably join the ranks of those continually dodging any footballing philosophy for the deadening banality of the long ball and leaden feet. Their relinquishing this aberration in style to a more English norm will be greeted with relief by those who drive these sort of narratives. For some reason these media tropes continually remind of Donald Rumsfeld's answer after the WMD's failed to be located post Iraq war.
" We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."
The clue here is a club showing the rest of the league how attractive and attacking football can be played in a financially responsible manner. There will be a crop of new players joining Arsenal as Wenger reconnoiters this very fluid situation and comes up his replacements and the requisite transfer money. Please to be patient is an apt Indian colloquialism.
Samir Nasri is now being hotly pursued by Man City with a reported bid of £19m but their crosstown big brothers Utd are also in the chase. Meanwhile Chelsea has also added their name to Nasri's suitors.
Ricardo Alvarez has joined Inter for £10m but Arsenal should not really feel too bad for a midfielder not even in consideration for Sergio Bautista's squad.
Finally something to cheer about. Gervinho is to undergo a medical this afternoon at the London Colney training grounds. Once that formality is over his signing should be announced end of this week for a reported £10m. A major depressive disorder has been avoided and now Arsenal fans can just return to their baseline blues.
His Cote D'Ivioirian team mate Kolo "my wife made me do it" Toure believes he could be the next Samuel Eto'o. Which may or may not not make Song very happy. It does look like we could bounce a dozen goals off that massive forehead.
The Germans who had huffed and puffed their way against Canada and Nigeria finally showed their class in the much anticipated final group encounter against Les Bleus. Sylvia Nied opted to open with Ilka Grings and Fatmire Bajmaraj. It was Kristin Garefrekes who got them on the frontfoot with her header with Grings following suit to put Germany two up.
After the half the French fought back with Marie-Laure Delie rising up near post to meet a corner to cut the lead down. But 10 minutes later came the turning point as Berengere Sapowicz, the French goalie scythed down Bajmaraj after she was sprung free by Grings. The Finnish referee Kirsi Heikkinen had no hesitation sending off Sapowicz and pointing to the spot. Up stepped Grings and she made no mistake against Sapowicz's replacement Celine Deville. 3-1 up and a win but certain.
Their opponents were not done yet however as Laura Georges again exposed Germany's weakness on set pieces with her thumping header. But towards the end fatigue set in and they failed to clear a cross which fell to Celia Okoyino Da Mbabi who swung it into goal.
So far Birgit Prinz has been a non-factor and it remains to be seen whether Nied will turn to her to pull a rabbit out of the hat if required. So far Germany have done well with their deep bench. But now comes the knock out stage with the competition getting tougher and Prinz's experience might prove attractive.
Hope Powell's squad delivered two killer blows to sink Japan. Ellen White breaking free lobbed the ball perfectly over backpedaling Japanese goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori. Then, substitute Rachel Yankey used her speed to get the better off an onrushing Kaihori to flick the ball from an acute angle.
Japan were the more technically proficient team with their measured set pieces and control of the ball but were unable to solve Rachel Bardsley and her dominating performance in goal. Who says athleticism and speed cannot win?
England avoid top ranked Germany and instead face France in the quarterfinals which will not be easy. Japan on the other hand will go up against the defending champions. Should make for some very fascinating clashes.
Carlos Tevez whose career trajectory off the pitch has been a bewildering zigzag of contract disputes, perceived slights, disillusionment, and familial absences is unsurprisingly in the news again for wanting to leave City.
The striker submitted a transfer request because he wishes to be closer to his daughters and estranged partner, Vanesa who live in Argentina. There is the little matter, however, of his £250,000 per week salary, the highest in the Premiership. The rest of Europe can barely match that amount cited as one of the reasons Inter cooled their pursuit of Tevez.
To get closer to his family, the City striker might have to join the Argentinian first division which will have to meet his £40m valuation and at the same time negotiate his salary down to near bankruptcy levels. This is unimaginable unless a more long term solution is worked out where the buying club becomes beholden for a considerable period of time by sending their prospects to City for free. Tevez's decision is undoubtedly influenced by the proximity to his family because of this month's Copa America being held in Argentina.
Tevez might be lured back in a strange twist if he gets disillusioned by his stay in Argentina. He threatened never to play for Sergio Bautista who left him off the squad after a series of miscommunications and only reversed his opinion after a public display of contrition by the Argentine manager. That's Tevez for you, invaluable on the pitch, a nightmare off it.
The blatant handball by Bruna of Equatorial Guinea against Australia that the referees missed has been blocked from You Tube. FIFA figures that if folks don't see it, then they won't know and Blatter will continue to ignore video review technology as the only realistic solution.
A video that slipped through the FIFA dragnet below to give you an idea of how bad it was.
szólj hozzá: Gaál Gyöngyi benézi
The Seleccao were unable to find their way around a tough Venezuelan defense. Alexander Pato spurned a couple of very good chances. Neymar was ineffective down the left and Ganso was underwhelming in his role as playmaker. Robinho was dire. Mano Menezes brought in veteran Elano after half time but there was no change in potency.
The man of the match was definitely Oswaldo Vizcarrando sliding down on the ground to stop Robinho's goal bound shot with his shoulder. The referee turned down the Brazilians appeal for a handball penalty and the replay shows it was the right decision.
The match was temporarily halted for a few minutes to escort out a dog who obviously decided he had enough of the desultory proceedings and wanted his money back. The other topic of interest was Robinho and Dani Alves sporting variations of Neymar's mohawk.
The best player in women's soccer history shows up against Norway. Her contribution; two goals and an assist. This World Cup is turning out to be a no show for Birgit Prinz and Abby Wambach but Homare Sawa against Mexico and Marta's statement today clearly show we should not write these big names off too early.
Marta's first goal was a bit controversial as she pushed Nora Holstad and the Norwegian defense expecting a foul to be called were caught a bit off guard as the Brazilian danced her way past the scything legs of Maren Mjelde to lay the ball past Ingrid Hjelmseth. But there was no mistaking her genius in the second goal as she simply blazes past the Norwegians dragging them into a black hole and cuts in and then cuts in some more to find Rosana who buries her shot.
Very few have the speed and at the same time possess the patience needed for greatness which we see in Marta. The third goal was all of that pouncing on a horrible mistake by the Norwegians but then waiting just enough to coolly sidestep her challenges and then making sure to slide the ball past Hjelmseth. The average is still large but it's moments like these we see the ever narrowing gap between the skill levels of men and women's football. This is beyond idle conjecture but one day we shall see women compete alongside men.
The Norway loss opens up Group D as now Australia could get through even if they manage to hold their last match against the Norwegians for a shock entry into the quarterfinals. The Brazilians are now almost certain to top Group D barring a meltdown against Equatorial Guinea which puts additional pressure on England in Group C to come up with the goods against Japan to avoid a quarterfinal clash with them.
The Matildas overcame Gyoengyi Gall's bizzare non penalty call (sure to be a You Tube classic) and two horrendous pieces of defending by Servet Uzunlar whose first name maybe apt in the manner she gifted Genoveva Anonman a brace of goals. Leena Khamis and Emily Van Egmond reversed roles of provider and finisher in the first two goals and Lisa De Vanna off the bench scored the decisive third goal.
Equatorial Guinea bow out of the World Cup but they've got some real talent and big heart. We're most likely to see them back. Anonman was obviously the pick. Australia are now in a tight contest with Norway for the second spot as the Scandinavians went down hard against Marta and her brilliance in the second Group D encounter with Brazil.
Watch Bouna Condoul fumble a run of the mill grab of a corner and gift the ball to Ryan Stephenson for San Jose Earthquakes equalizer. Last weekend he was similarly embarrassed when he completely flubbed Marco Pappa's soft shot on goal.
Condoul's horrifically incompetent goalkeeping is a seamless transition from his predecessor Greg Sutton's equally inept performance.
The Red Bulls forced yet another draw their tenth this season as their stellar beginning fades to distant memory. The arrival of Dax McCarty brought some zip in midfield and it was the new man creating the move that led to Roy Miller finding acres of space down the left to send in a curling cross which Joel Lindpere was able to sweep home after regaining possession of the ball. Then came Condoul's blooper and just like that the Red Bulls momentum evaporated.
It was San Jose's centreforward Steve Lenhart rising above Tim Ream to head Steven Beitashour's cross which propelled Frank Yallop's team ahead. Jon Busch playing larger than his 5' 8'' frame bringing off a couple of stellar saves before Lindpere struck late in the 85th minute as his spanking drive was headed by Bobby Burling for an own goal. Chicharito Hernandez could not have done it better. To add insult to injury Burling was ejected after receiving his second yellow in added time.
Hans Backe needs a new goalie. Even Manuel Almunia might be preferable to the two mishaps he has on his roster.
Watch Bruna of Equatorial Guinea casually pick up a ball in full view of the world when it is in play. Incredibly, the referee Gyoengyi Gall from Hungary and her referee crew miss it altogether or chose to ignore it completely.
This incident took place in a Group D match against Australia in the 15th minute when Collette McCallum sends in a cross which Leena Khamis flicks onto the upright and as the ball rebounds back into play, Bruna picks it up and carries it in her hand for a couple of seconds before releasing it. The Australians appeal and then turn incredulous at Gall's decision to overlook this clear penalty.
Khamis was not declared offside and there was no other indication that the ball was anything but live.
A similar event unfolded in the U20 World Cup on the same ground in a match between South Korea and Germany when Alexander Popp's shot hits the crossbar and balloons towards the sideline where it is caught by a South Korean defender clearly while on the pitch. The Germans appeal and Peruvian referee Sylvia Reyes consults with her linesman and then awards a penalty which was the right decision.
Thierry Henry cleverly camouflaged his hand from the referee while providing the assist that doomed Ireland from participating in last year's World Cup. Last month was 25th anniversary of Maradona's unforgettable hand of god goal against England in the 1986 World Cup. In both instances the referee was bamboozled into believing its legitimacy. But what do you do when incompetence or ignorance is in full view and you do not need TV replay to catch it?
Alicia Ferguson, a former Australian international reacts to Gall's bewildering decision to not confer with her linesman, "What was going on?". Australia managed to get past Equatorial Guinea, 3-2 which somewhat mitigates this absolutely bizarre and shocking non-call but any other result would have been catastrophic to their chances of advancing to the quarterfinals. What gall, Gyoengyi!
Paul Hayward furthers the Arsenal in crisis trope which is a particular favourite amongst sports pundits. The central theme revolves around a group of disillusioned players who want to leave Arsenal because it has consistently defied the usual barometer of success. Breathing titles is healthier for team morale than living off the same stale fumes of a winning legacy that burned out a considerable time ago.
The fundamental question remains can Wenger's experiment of buying underpriced raw talent and developing them into world beaters be considered a failure? In principle, for football or for any sport this remains the most attractive of proposals. In reality, it is rife with the vagaries of the learning curve. After six years, Arsenal have hit a ceiling. Wenger's revisionism from the original outcome to a far less substantial one in order to deem his experiment a success reeks of desperation. An inadvertent admission of failure which his critics have latched onto.
In Darren Aronofsky's 'Black Swan", the chief protagonist a mentally rigid but gifted ballerina has to find another doppleganger to play the part for which she feels no emotional attachment. Success comes at a high price leaving her shredded of sanity as she descends into an underworld of hallucination and self mutilation. There are some undeniable parallels in Arsene Wenger's unyielding personality and his rejection of financial doping to pay for talent.
Unlike the one off performance of Natalie Portman's character that characterize the fraught and ephemeral world of ballet there appears to be no indication the Arsenal manager will ditch his philosophy. That is because the advent of FIFA's financial fair play rules keeps alive his original intent as well as shifts the focus to the winning attributes of the club, its enviable financial stewardship and self sustaining model. In a few years Wenger believes he will be vindicated when a level playing field provides a true measure of his accomplishments. His challenge is to find players who believe in that day.
There appears to be a solution in the more subtle Anglicization of the squad with Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, the two players groomed to take over midfield whose pride in their club shines through. Samir Nasri might leave this year or next but his desire has not matched his creativity. Fabregas has worn out his heart on the sleeve and awaits his homecoming. Wilshere and Ramsey's chin up attitude should steer their English teammates Kieran Gibbs and Theo Walcott towards more positive performances and augment the true believers - RVP, Song, Thomas Vermaelen, and Wojciech Szczesny. With the sale of Arsenal's biggest assets Wenger can afford a few canny additions like Gervinho, Juan Mata, and Gary Cahill without double dipping into Arsenal's accounts and spurning his philosophy for Socratic style dialectics.
Fredy Guarin will be one of the most sought after players after this Copa America is over. The Porto winger's almost laconic but inch perfect through pass from midfield fell in front of the surging Adrian Ramos who took it past Leonel Moreira to put Colombia up for good. Guarin's Porto team mate, Radamel Falcao meanwhile is getting all the attention. The Colombians dominated the match but Moreira's superb display between the sticks ensured just that one goal damage.
The Ticos played a man down when Randall Brenes was sent off in the 27th minute after a dangerous tackle on defender Luis Perea. The other Group A match between Argentina and Bolivia ended in a 1-1 draw.
A Lebanon Kuwait friendly ended up in a brawl after the game itself ended with the scoreline reading 6 - 0 in favour of Kuwait.
Video of the unfriendly ending here..
Heather O'Reilly scored a brilliant goal in the12th minute. Megan Rapinoe scored another after the break and Carli Lloyd added to the tally to make it a very comfortable 3 - 0 win for USA in the Women's World Cup.
szólj hozzá: usa 3-0 colombia
Sergio "Kun" Aguero vs Neymar is the topic of hot debate between Real Madrid fans. The Atletico Madrid striker provided a glimpse in Argentina's 2011 Copa America opener iagainst Bolivia as to why he's such a wanted commodity with his fiercely struck volley which pulled his country back from an embarrassing defeat.
Bolivia went ahead against the run of play when Ever Banega mishandled a clearance on the goal line off a weak Edivaldo Rojas back heel. Argentina saved themselves from a bigger hole when Romero's timely intervention stopped Marcelo Martins who had broken free from the defenders.
Nigeria made a quick exit from the Women's World Cup falling to Simone Laudehr's 64th minute toe poke through traffic. The defending champions had numerous chances but were unsettled by the physical Super Falcons. However, Germany kept their composure and in the second half Celia Okoyino Da Mbabi's free kick (she's half Nigerian) led to a goalmouth fracas ending in Laudehr's strike.
The Super Falcons could not look to divine intervention and no lesbians could be blamed for their exit.
We have the first blow out in a tightly contested Women's World Cup. Les Bleus overwhelmed Canada with their pace and superior passing leaving the defense and Erin McLeod in goal in sixes and sevens.
Emily Zurrer, Candace Chapman, and Desiree Scott all had nightmare performances. At the other end the Canadians failed to register a shot on goal. France's four goals were of top quality as Gaetane Thiny bagged a brace with Camile Abily and Elodie Thomis rounding off the tally.
France have arrived. They look very, very good and if they find consistency, should go far in this World Cup.
Man City have reportedly made a £7m bid for Arsenal left back Gael Clichy which is soon to be accepted. The Eastlands side also contemplating a swoop for holdout Samir Nasri.
Gael Clichy's demand for more money per week is likely to be met by the deep pocketed owners of City. His departure leaves no void with Kieran Gibbs in a lock for his position.
The second story is a bit more problematic. Nasri's contract is in its final year and he could walk for free at the end a situation Arsenal is very keen to avoid. But they're equally keen to avoid the sale of a player of Nasri's calibre to a rival.
The more salubrious outcome would be Nasri waltzing out to a different European league with Arsenal holding a cheque for the same amount City can obviously afford. Today, however was officially the deadline for those wage negotiations and nothing has emerged so far which could mean two things. He's leaving and he's leaving. Nasri is also being courted by Utd, AC Milan, and Inter.
His departure could bring an £20m to the transfer pot and make more money available for additional signings. With Cesc's impending departure and Nasri next to leave the question is can Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere be entrusted with providing the same quality to the midfield? In short, will we see that killer pass? Maybe not as much. But it won't be the lack of trying. There will be a refreshing return of that good old bottle and more zip in middle earth.
However, one really feels Arsenal need to go after Juan Mata for that creative flair and having watched some of the Liga matches, the Valencia midfielder also has the necessary doughtiness for the Premiership. On the quieter defensive front (Wenger always has a yen for attacking players) it appears Arsenal have entered advanced negotiations with Bolton for Gary Cahill's services.
A thought to chew on: Would the current trope of an Arsenal exodus be one if Wenger had jettisoned some of those players in the preceding years? This is overdue housecleaning. Apart from Cesc. Sniff. Sniff.
The winger with the forehead the size of a small country is on the bubble. Arsenal are reportedly wrapping up their negotiations for Gervinho for £10m. Meanwhile, the player has already checked in.
"I chose Arsenal because it's a young group within which I will be able to integrate easily," Gervinho told France Football magazine. "I could develop more over there. There's only a few details left to sort out."
The Lille winger also stated he's willing to fight for his place on the starting squad.
"I'm going there to play, not to be on the bench. Arsenal love the game and I love teams that love the game."
Good positive words. And Gervinho's arrival at the Emirates lifts the drooping shoulders of those fans confronted by stories of a mass exodus without the necessary relief. He should be flying in for a medical within a day or two. And if all goes to plan be unveiled as Arsenal's latest signing before they depart for Asia.