László Kubala

June 30, 2009

“László Kubala Stecz (June 10, 1927 – May 17, 2002), also referred to as Kubala Stécz László, was a footballer and manager who played as a forward with, among others, Ferencváros TC, ŠK Slovan Bratislava, Vasas SC, FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol. He also played for three different national teams, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Spain, as well as the Europe XI and the Catalan XI.” Wikipedia, The Independent, YouTube

Fernando Torres: Liverpool FC can compete despite lack of spending power

June 30, 2009

“LIVERPOOL striker Fernando Torres accepts the club’s lack of financial muscle means they are unlikely to be able to compete for star signings – but he believes that will not affect their chances of winning trophies.” (Liverpool Dail)

Bank dismiss fears over Liverpool debts (ESPN)
“Liverpool’s bankers Royal Bank of Scotland have dismissed fears about the future of the club by stressing they are ”financially healthy and able to service comfortably its debt”. American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are currently in negotiations to refinance the £350m loan they took out to buy the Reds two years ago, with less than a month to go until the deadline for an agreement.”

Pepe Reina’s Guide to His Teammates (Liverpool FC)
“In an exclusive interview with Liverpoolfc.tv, Pepe Reina gives the lowdown on his teammates and reveals who he is close to off the pitch.”

Paul Anderson returns to the City Ground (This Is Anfield)
“Paul Anderson has just completed a £250,000 switch to Nottingham Forest signing a three year contract at the City Ground earlier today. The move was confirmed after he passed a medical this morning and marks a swift return to Nottingham for Anderson who enjoyed a successful loan spell at the City Ground last season.”

The true Spirit of Shankly (This Is Anfield)
“On 25th May, 2005, Liverpool re-created history by winning our 5th European cup. In true Liverpool fashion, we faced adversity, stared oblivion in the face, and rose up to fight and triumph against all odds.”

Exclusive interview with David Fairclough (LFC History)
“David Fairclough can be proud of his scoring record at Liverpool. He scored 37 goals in 92 starts and 18 goals in 62 substitute appearances. Everybody knows what he was called at Liverpool.”

The death of Italian football?

June 29, 2009

“Italians once referred to Serie A as ‘il campionato piu bello del mondo’, the most beautiful championship in the world, but this summer there threatens to be an exodus of top talent that could mark the end of an era for Italian football. The rise of the Premier League and La Liga has already impacted upon the standing of calcio in European football and the gap looks set to widen.” (ESPN)

Eto’o and Tevez Potentially Agree To Join Manchester City (EPL Talk)
“Well, two days are left until the transfer window opens again and Manchester City look like they’ve signed two strikers to help Mark Hughes drag them up the table. I suppose they need some good news down at Eastlands after the ground flooded on Saturday due to flash floods.”

Of course! The US beats Spain and an oil company helps analyze player performance! (Foot Smoke)
“In case you weren’t aware, the ever-prescient governing body of soccer has partnered with Castrol GTX to develop the “definitive system” to rate player performance. Not only does it rate performance, but it rates performance objectively! According to a clarifying explanation on the Fifa.com website, the infinitely complex system ‘tracks every move on the field and assesses whether it has a positive or negative impact on a team’s ability to score or concede a goal.'”

Brian Glanville: Shouldn’t Michael Owen gracefully retire? (World Soccer)
“SHOULDN’T Michael Owen gracefully retire? Once such a golden boy, an 18-year-old star of the 1998 World Cup finals, beyond doubt one of the finest, purist English talents of the last couple of decades. A shocking series of injuries has taken the edge off his speed and his game, he has lost his England place, despite somewhat fatuous attempts in certain quarters to propose his return.”

Breaking Bad … or Good? (That’s On Point)
“As explained in the quickee recap post, I needed to walk this one off. There was simply so much swirling after Brazil’s nearly epic 3-2 comeback over the U.S. at the 2009 Confederations Cup final that it was like watching a mindblowing ‘Lost’ episode. I needed to hit pause on the DVR, pick the melted ooze that was once my brain off the floor and collect myself.”

Tijani Belaid

June 29, 2009

Czech Republic Soccer Champions League
“Tijani Belaid (Arabic: تيجاني بلعيد‎) (born 6 September, 1987 in Paris, France) is a France born Tunisian footballer. Belaid currently plays for Slavia Prague.” Wikipedia, YouTube

Pro Vercelli: No Time for Losers

June 29, 2009

“And I can say that with authority, because we are the champions. How are we the champions, when we’re not even halfway through the season? Keep reading. Let’s do this McKinsey-style, to bring some discipline to the lives of all the English majors in the audience.” (The Run of Play)

Pro Vercelli: The Nickel Objects of Our Dime Desire (The Run of Play)
“The two implacable enemies of a successful football club are stagnation and arrogance. Stagnation leads to complacency, to a drowsy sense of timelessness. If things have always been and will always be as they are, why should we bother being fierce? Arrogance leads to laziness and a bitter, spoiled entitlement. If we’re special for who we are rather than for what we do, why should we have to prove it?”

Pro Vercelli: Contest Results (The Run of Play)
“One of the first pieces of news I got after the Champions League final was that the board had decided to expand the stadium by more than 11,000 seats. In other words, our not-even-one-year-old arena is about to have its seating capacity increased by almost 40%. This is huge news, and it only heightens the importance of finding a good name for the place. And thus, to the contest results.”

Selecao comeback ends U.S. dream

June 28, 2009

“Lucio scored a late goal to give Brazil a 3-2 win over the United States and a second straight Confederations Cup title Sunday. The Brazil captain headed in a corner from Elano in the 84th minute to help the five-time world champions hold off a spirited American team that had taken a 2-0 lead at halftime. (ESPN)

Match Tracking Confederations Cup Final: Brazil 3, U.S. 2 (NYT)
“The final of the FIFA Confederations Cup was a tale of two halves. First half: U.S. 2, Brazil 0. Second half: Brazil 3, U.S. 0. Final: Brazil 3, U.S. 2”

U.S. vs. Brazil Live Commentary (FanNation)
“It’s a bit of a depressing end to a fantastic run for the U.S. at the Confederations Cup. For 45 minutes, it looked like the Americans were going to win their first major trophy. But the U.S. earned some respect at this tournament — I can’t tell you how many e-mails and texts I’ve received from my English, Spanish and Brazilian friends telling me how impressed they were with the Americans’ performance in South Africa, especially after the debacles of the first two games.”

Brazil crown fitting finale (FIFA)
“The final day of the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009 produced ten goals and two comebacks, as Brazil and Spain turned the tables on USA and South Africa respectively. When matchwinner Lucio lifted the trophy, he also created history for Dunga, who became the first person to win the tournament as a player and a coach.”

Brazil shows why it’s Brazil (SI)
“Pedigree matters. If it didn’t, we might not have witnessed what happened at Ellis Park on Sunday, an unstoppable rally that gave Brazil the Confederations Cup title in a 3-2 win over the U.S. Heck, when was the last time you saw a team come back from two goals down at halftime in a major final? (Apart from the 2005 Champions League final, that is.)”

Scrutiny for South Africa Year Before World Cup (NYT)
“On June 11, 2010, soccer’s World Cup — the world’s largest sporting event and, many believe, the most important — will open with an African host for the first time. The monthlong, 32-team tournament, to be held in 10 stadiums around South Africa, will present organizers with significant challenges regarding security, transportation and accommodation of the expected 450,000 international visitors.”

Brazil eye their place in history (ESPN)
“Only one team in the history of the Confederations Cup has ever defended the title (France in 2001 and 2003), but Brazil are well placed to become the second as they meet the U.S. in the final on Sunday.”

Selling shirts no substitute for skill (WSC)
“While the daily papers are full of transfer gossip, one recent summer trend has been noticeable by its absence this year. Hardly any English clubs seem interested in bringing over footballers from south-east Asia any more. The only player who has been linked with a move so far is South Korean midfielder Lee Chung-yong who is supposedly the subject of interest from Bolton and Manchester City.”

Into the flood again

June 27, 2009

“In the wake of the Wednesday’s crazy 2-0 win by the U.S. over Spain in the Confederations Cup semifinals, we’ve seen the term ‘Miracle on Grass’ tossed around. Pardon me while I go vomit. Not to turn this post into another media examination, but drawing comparisons to the 1980 U.S. hockey win over the Soviets at the Lake Placid Olympiad is simple-minded thinking.” (That’s On Point)

Fearless U.S. braced for Brazil showdown (Guardian)
“The United States are one victory away from claiming a major FIFA competition for the first time if they can produce another shock against Brazil when the Confederations Cup competition reaches its climax on Sunday.”

Altidore, Afterthought in Spanish League, Stars for the U.S. (NYT)
“In the days before the United States stunned Spain in the Confederations Cup, forward Jozy Altidore sent a text message to his friend Joan Capdevila, the Spanish defender. ‘Be careful of the USA,’ Altidore texted Capdevila, his teammate at Villarreal in the Spanish league. Capdevila later joked that while Altidore’s sentiment was clear, his Spanish grammar was not.”

Gavin Hamilton: Some thoughts on the Confederations Cup (World Soccer)
“Ok, so we are still a way off the start of the new Premier League season, but the opening day fixtures are now out. See the full list of top-flight games and the early match betting.”

Kaka backs England for 2010 World Cup success (Telegraph)
“The South Americans have shown ominous form in progressing to the final of the Confederations Cup, where they will face the USA in Johannesburg tomorrow. Along with European champions Spain, Brazil look sure to go into next year’s tournament as favourites, but the Real Madrid playmaker believes they are not the only ones capable of taking the crown. ”

USA v Brazil (BBC)
“USA must make an enforced change, with midfielder Michael Bradley suspended after becoming the third American to be sent off during this tournament. Former Derby midfielder Benny Feilhaber is vying for Bradley’s spot with DaMarcus Beasley and Sacha Kljestan.”

U.S. aiming for upset in Confederations Cup final (ESPN)
“The United States are one victory away from claiming a major FIFA competition for the first time if they can produce another shock against Brazil when the Confederations Cup competition reaches its climax on Sunday.”

Betting Preview: Brazil v United States – Confederations Cup Final (101 Great Goals)
“While pre-tournament forecasters may have identified Brazil, the defending champions, as a likely finalist at the Confederations Cup, the United States arrived in South Africa in a state of flux and with most analysts skimming over the US challenge.”

Scout: Tomáš Necid

June 27, 2009

“Tomáš Necid (born 13 August 1989 in Prague) is a Czech football player who currently plays for PFC CSKA Moscow.” Wikipedia, YouTube, FIFA, zimbio

With One Swerving Free Kick, Brazil Darts Into Final Against U.S.

June 26, 2009

“On a rare night when Brazil was not always the better team, it remained the more patient one and ultimately prevailed, 1-0, over South Africa in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup on Thursday. A late substitute, the defender Dani Alves, delivered his specialty in the 88th minute, drilling a free kick from 19 yards that nicked the inside of the right goal post and sent Brazil to the final against the United States on Sunday.” (NYT)

Final week: The good and bad of Confederations Cup (Daily Monitor)
“Thieves, prostitutes, Italy’s exit, a United States miracle and vuvuzelas; it’s all been happening at the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa which climaxes tomorrow at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg. No one will dare suggest the tournament has not been a success, no chance.”

Iran Did Not Suspend Players, Coach Says (NYT)
“Afshin Ghotbi, the coach of Iran’s national team, said that the country’s soccer officials had taken no action against players who wore green wristbands in a recent World Cup game in solidarity with a presidential candidate who was disputing the results of the June 12 election.”

Panoramic view of transfers (WSC)
“The way the BBC flagged up Alex Millar’s exposé of bungs in football like an overexcited linesman may have been an attempt to reflate the reputation of the beleaguered Panorama, or because they had struck serious dirt. The lack of advance tapes heightened the air of expectation.”

Brown hoping to open talks with Owen (ESPN)
“Hull City manager Phil Brown is hoping to meet soon-to-be free agent Michael Owen early next week in the hope of convincing the 29-year-old to join the Tigers. Former England striker Owen will be out of contract from midnight on Friday when his deal with Newcastle United expires, and Brown is keen to open talks.”

Alves strikes late on

June 25, 2009

“Substitute Daniel Alves broke South African hearts with an 87th-minute free-kick for Brazil that dumped the hosts out of the Confederations Cup with a narrow semi-final victory in Johannesburg. The Barcelona right-back, who only came on for the closing stages of the game, smashed in a powerful 18-yard set-piece from the left to stun the huge crowd at the Ellis Park Stadium after their side had performed impressively for most parts of the game.” (ESPN)

Brazil survives South Africa on late free kick, reaches Confed Cup final (SI)
” Daniel Alves scored with two minutes left Thursday to give a lackluster Brazil a 1-0 win over South Africa and a place in the Confederations Cup final against the United States. South Africa had unsettled Brazil with a frantic hustling game of quick challenges and tight marking, but the substitute defender curled in a shot from the edge of the area to give his team a chance of a record third title after Ramires tumbled right on the edge of the area under a challenge from South Africa captain Aaron Mokoena.”

Santana in attack-mode for Brazil (Africa Soccer Union)
“If South Africa play as well as their coach Joel Santana talks then Brazil are in for a hiding in Thursday’s Confederations Cup semifinal. The Brazilian was in loquacious form at the eve of match press conference at Ellis Park on Wednesday, handling questions as deftly as a seasoned politician.”

Alves scores late as Brazil knocks out host (Associated Press)
“Just call Daniel Alves the spoiler. Alves scored the only goal on a free kick with just two minutes left at the Confederations Cup on Thursday, sending Brazil into the final against the surprising United States and ending host South Africa’s upset bid.”

Dani Alves v South Africa (101 Great Goals)

Parreira treads a diplomatic line (FIFA)
“”It’s not as if my loyalties are divided, but let’s just say I’m going to be neutral.” As those words suggest, former Brazil and South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira is trying hard not to show his allegiance to A Seleção ahead of their FIFA Confederations Cup semi-final meeting with the tournament hosts.”

Felipe Melo playing it cool (FIFA)
“Until very recently, the name of Felipe Melo barely figured in the world’s sports pages. During several seasons in Spain, the Brazil international turned out for largely unfashionable sides and his chances of appearing in competitions such as the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009 looked remote.”

Soccer Tries to Bring Unity in South African Sports (Bloomberg)
“Sports remain a question of color in South Africa, a year before the country hosts the soccer World Cup. Soccer is the game of the black majority, with cricket and rugby favored by whites, who make up about 9 percent of the country’s 40 million inhabitants. The government and sports officials are trying to broaden that support to help the national team and fill seats in the stadiums.”

Spain 0 – 2 United States

June 25, 2009

“The United States stunned top-ranked Spain 2-0 Wednesday night on goals by Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, advancing to the Confederations Cup final with one of the Americans’ biggest soccer victories. Altidore scored in the 27th minute and Dempsey added a goal in the 74th as the Americans became the first team to defeat Spain since Romania in November 2006.” (ESPN)

Spain 0 – 2 United States: The Gift Outright (The Run of Play)
“They didn’t play like green-eyed soldiers of beauty, but this wasn’t Chelsea taking tire irons to Barcelona, either. Especially in the first half, before the fatigue and stress started plinking their way up the keyboard, they had some attacking intent. I’d assumed the tactical thinking would be that the easiest way not to lose to the world’s best midfield would be to avoid the midfield entirely, but during the great 25-odd-minute spell leading up to Altidore’s goal, they somehow found space to exploit, kept possession, and actually dribbled at Spain rather than rainbowing rockets over them.” 

Spain 0-2 USA (BBC)
“USA caused one of the biggest surprises in Confederations Cup history by beating European champions Spain to reach Sunday’s final. Jozy Altidore scored the opener when he turned his marker Joan Capdevila to fire in from 15 yards. Fulham’s Clint Dempsey doubled the lead in the second half when he converted Landon Donovan’s pass from close range.”

Americans Stun Spain and Gain Final (NYT)
“A surprise advance to the semifinals of the Confederations Cup seemed to awaken the United States’ belief in itself. Previous caution strengthened into assertiveness Wednesday as the Americans earned one of their greatest victories, a startling 2-0 win over Spain, the world’s top-ranked soccer team.”

United States beats Spain 2-0 (seattle pi)
“The United States stunned top-ranked Spain 2-0 Wednesday night on goals by Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, advancing to the Confederations Cup final with one of the Americans’ biggest soccer victories. Altidore scored in the 27th minute and Dempsey added a goal in the 74th as the Americans became the first team to defeat Spain since Romania in November 2006.”

Confederations Cup Live Blog: Spain 0-2 United States (SI)
“It is finished. Spain’s 35-match unbeaten streak ends on a frigid night in Bloemfontein, where the United States men’s national team has engineered an improbable 2-0 upset of the reigning European champions. Goals from Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey have given the United States its most improbable upset since tipping England in the 1950 World Cup.”

Roy of the Rovers

June 24, 2009

“Roy of the Rovers is a British comic strip about the life and exploits of a fictional footballer named Roy Race which has run in various publications since 1954. The strip gave its name to a weekly (and later monthly) comic magazine, published by IPC and Fleetway from 1976 to 1995, in which it was the main feature.”

Roy of the Rovers kicks off series of comic reissues (Guardian)
“Fans of Roy Race will be able to relive the fictional football star’s tumultuous career – and introduce their children to the flaxen-haired soccer hero – with the publication of a collection of classic Roy of the Rovers comic strips next week, MediaGuardian.co.uk can reveal.”

Roy of the Rovers (down the tubes)
“Arguably the most famous British comics character of all, ‘Roy of the Rovers’ forty year playing career began on the cover of Tiger no.1 in September 1953. Since then, the phrase ‘Roy of the Rovers stuff’ has become part of the English language, regularly invoked by pundits to describe the essence of footballing dreams.”

Roy of the Rovers profile: All you need to know about the classic football comic (Mirror)
“Football fans who grew up reading classic comic strip Roy of the Rovers are in for a nostalgic treat when Roy Race and his Melchester United chums return to the newsstand next week.”

Xavi Is Spain’s Maestro of the Midfield

June 24, 2009

“In this, the hometown of J.R.R. Tolkien, it seems fitting that Spain’s attack is controlled by a hobbit-size midfielder. Xavier Hernández, known simply as WHITHER Italy? What price Marcello Lippi? After that crushing 3-0 defeat by Brazil, he can hardly put up the lame kind of excuse he did when the Azzurri in the Confederations Cup lost 1-0 to Egypt.” (NYT)

Liverpool close to vital refinancing? (ESPN)
“The last few days have brought good news and bad news for Liverpool fans. The good news is that something approaching financial stability could be on the horizon amid reports that banking groups RBS and Wachovia are ready to refinance the £350m debt that was threatening the club.”

After Fighting Out of Corner, U.S. Back in Ring at Confederations Cup (NYT)
“The e-mail messages kept coming until there were 200 of them, mostly angry, nearly all demanding that Bob Bradley be fired as the coach of the United States men’s soccer team. The United States had lost to Italy, 3-1, and to Brazil, 3-0, in the Confederations Cup. At least the Americans had played confidently against Italy, the game changing on a disputed red card.”

Spain aiming for record (Liverpool)
“Liverpool duo Pepe Reina and Albert Riera have been declared fit after a training ground collision left them both nursing minor knocks. The USA may stick with the same 11 players who outplayed Egypt. They are boosted by Sacha Kljestan’s return from suspension, while ex-Fulham defender Carlos Bocanegra has recovered from a hamstring injury.”

Brian Glanville: Whither Italy? (World Soccer)
“WHITHER Italy? What price Marcello Lippi? After that crushing 3-0 defeat by Brazil, he can hardly put up the lame kind of excuse he did when the Azzurri in the Confederations Cup lost 1-0 to Egypt. Viz: that his team didn’t take account of his instructions in the first half.”

Taking a moment to admire Spain (Soccer By Ives)
“Some teams are easy to hate, but some teams are just so good at what they do that you can only admire them. Spain is one of those teams.”

Vuvuzela – Local Football’s Beautiful Noise

June 23, 2009

“What’s plastic, a metre long, brightly coloured and sounds like an elephant? It’s the vuvuzela, the noise-making trumpet of South African football fans, and it’s come to symbolise the sport in the country. It’s an instrument, but not always a musical one. Describing the atmosphere in a stadium packed with thousands of fans blowing their vuvuzelas is difficult. Up close it’s an elephant, sure, but en masse the sound is more like a massive swarm of very angry bees.” (allAfica)

The Vuvuzela – Legendary Horn! (YouTube)

Money will talk louder than any vuvuzela (Reuters)
“The debate around the vuvuzela was always going to generate big noise but for some South African commentators it has become almost a neo-colonial conflict.”

No Heart? I’m All Heart Mother… (Foot Smoke)
“Lucky? Yeah. Holy shit, yeah. The U.S. got a waist-high boost from Brazil’s 3-0 thrashing of Italy to advance to the semifinal round of the Confederations Cup. But after the grit and determination it showed on Sunday, the team deserves some apologies, some reconsideration.”

Blue-collar Brazil still Kaká’s team (SI – Tim Vickery)
“Like many fans, my editor used the word ‘impressive’ when he asked me to write about Brazil at the Confederations Cup. And it’s hard to argue with the results. The Seleção won their three group-stage games by a combined 10-3.”

Scotland’s greatest export? (BBC)
“It is striking that three of the candidates being touted for the managerial role at West Bromwich Albion, vacated by Tony Mowbray on his departure for Celtic, are Scots. Preston North End’s Alan Irvine, St Johnstone’s Derek McInnes and Darren Ferguson at Peterborough United are young managers attracting the attention of club chairmen in England.”

A Dream Final Beckons (The Herald)
“GIVEN the drama that unfolded on Sunday night, nothing can be taken for granted but it’s hard not to believe that it’s all shaping into a Dream Final in this Confederations Cup pitting mighty Brazil and the team that is battling to replace them as the most exciting side in the world — European champions Spain.”

RvP & Steppin’ In The Right Direction (A Cultured Left Foot)
“Having resolved his defensive issues, Arsene has some work to do on the forward line with the siren call of Serie A serenading his strikeforce towards the rocks of oblivion. Nicklas Bendtner was the first to hear the sound but was steered to safety by Mr20%, who also conveniently has the part-time role of being Bendtner Senior.”

Gerard Piqué

June 23, 2009

“Gerard Piqué Bernabéu (born 2 February 1987 in Barcelona, Catalonia) is a Spanish footballer currently playing for FC Barcelona, as a centre back. A product of Barça’s cantera, he initially left the club for Manchester United where he played for four seasons, being rebought in 2008-09, and helping the club to become the first Spanish club ever to complete the treble.” Wikipedia, Gerard Piqué is back at Camp Nou, the man with Barcelona in his DNA (Guardian), Gerard Pique: From Fergie reject to Barça colossus (The Independent), ESPN, FANDOME

Brazil – youth, power, and a distaste for the passing game

June 22, 2009

“Sunday was the 39th anniversary of a previous Brazil victory over Italy by a three-goal margin. One of the main architects of that 4-1 win in the final of the 1970 World Cup was Pele, who last week was criticising the current Brazil side.” (BBC)

Notes from South Africa: The Forbidden Vuvuzela (The Run of Play – Anders Wollek)
“The Confederations Cup is underway in South Africa. Despite a disappointing result by the home team, a scoreless draw with Iraq, the interest level here is steadily rising. It’s helped that three of the games have been great spectacles in themselves: Spain’s 5-0 demolition of New Zealand, a 4-3 thriller between Brazil and Egypt, and a tense affair between Italy and the U.S., where the World Champions had to come back from a goal down against a U.S. team playing with ten men.”

Kaká Gives Brazil a Touch of Class in Confederations Cup (NYT)
“Five minutes into Brazil’s opening match at the Confederations Cup, Kaká settled a pass with his left foot, chipped the ball over one Egyptian defender, then another, and drove the ball low into the net.”

Brazil’s rocks of strength (FIFA)
“Brazil are sure to remember their handsome 3-0 defeat of Italy in Tshwane/Pretoria on Sunday for a long time. After all, comfortable wins over old adversaries tend to be few and far between, which explains why the Brazilians were celebrating gleefully at the final whistle and then in the changing room.”

Italy – Brazil (0-3): Confederations Cup (Mighty Football)

An American miracle (FIFA)
“It may have only been half-time in their second outing, but USA were already resigned to an early flight home. Having lost their opener 3-1 to Italy, Bob Bradley’s team trailed Brazil 2-0 en route to a 3-0 defeat that left the door seemingly padlocked on their chances of reaching the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009 semi-finals.”

U.S. shows passion and heart to rout Egypt (ESPN)
“Bob Bradley could have looked at the scenarios the United States needed to advance in the Confederations Cup and decided that Sunday’s game against Egypt would be a game to rest veterans and give youngsters a look. He could have decided, as most might have in his position, that beating Egypt 3-0 and having Italy lose 3-0 was such an improbability that even planning for that possibility would be crazy.”

U.S. Advances in Confederations Cup (NYT)
“One seemed more unlikely than the other, that the United States would win by three goals and that Italy would lose by three goals Sunday in the Confederations Cup.”

Egypt – USA (0-3): Confederations Cup (Mighty Football)

Flawless Spain flying high (FIFA)
“After three games, Spain have amassed nine points, scoring eight goals, conceding none, and playing fantastic football along the way. With records for consecutive wins and matches unbeaten to their name, what more could la Selección have wanted from the group stage of the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009?”

Castrol Index: Leading trio emerge (FIFA)
“David Villa has been the outstanding player of South Africa 2009’s group phase. That is the headline conclusion of the latest FIFA Confederations Cup Castrol Index, which shows the emergence of a heavyweight trio of contenders at the top.”

Africa responding to noise of the vuvuzela (ESPN)
“With the group stages now over and less than a week of the Confederations Cup left, South Africa’s dry run for the World Cup is proving something of a mixed bag.”

Brazil knock out Italy from Confederations Cup (Times)
“Brazil knocked world champions Italy out of the Confederations Cup with three quick goals just before half-time to earn a 3-0 victory on Sunday. Strikes from Luis Fabiano after 37 and 43 minutes and an own goal from Andrea Dossena just before the interval left the competition’s defending champions top of group B and set up a semi-final against host nation South Africa in Johannesburg on Thursday.”

Matthew Booth a white knight for the black masses (Times)
“One of the things you pick up rather quickly here in South Africa is that things aren’t always what they seem. Or, rather, that our untrained eyes (and ears), coupled with our own prejudices, can lead us to the entirely wrong conclusion.”


World Cup 2010 map (BBC)

World Cup is golden opportunity for Africa — if it succeeds

June 13, 2009

“The countdown has begun for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, an event, now only a year away, that could change perceptions about the whole continent and show the globe a festival of sport that reverses obstinate stereotypes of a region in constant crisis and violence.” (Reuters)

The British Transfer Record Spirals Out Of Control (EPL Talk)
“Just when you think you’ve seen it all, Torino have shelled out £100,000 to lure Dennis Law from Manchester City. Yes, it’s 1961 and the record transfer fee paid to or by an English club has broken the hundred thousand mark. Shocking.”

Your what in your hands, Carlitos? (ESPN)
“”Playing like that, we’ll win more matches’; ‘We’re still dependent on ourselves’; ‘We’re going to have our arses in our hands.’ Three members of the Argentine national side all – more or less – agreeing.”

Hiddink’s modernity slays Finland’s golden generation (ESPN)
“Guus Hiddink is a man used to rapturous welcomes. Fresh from his stint as Chelsea’s saviour, the former South Korea and Australia manager returned to the international stage to effectively end Finland’s hopes of qualifying for the World Cup, and the applause he received at the post-match press conference was indicative of the importance Russians attach to his role with their national team.”

When Do the Heads Start Eating Eachother? (Foot Smoke)
“I view billionaires from kind of the same curious perspective I view species of mysterious origin and function, like tapir or rare slime molds. I have lots of questions: How did they get there? And what do they do? If I see one, will I know it? Generally, these questions don’t have easy answers.”

World Cup 2010: football brings defining moment for South Africa (Guardian)
“The eyes of nearly a billion TV viewers are fixed on the vast Soccer City stadium. The winning team captain ­receives the trophy from a frail but radiant Nelson Mandela. The date is 11 July 2010 and, irrespective of what happened on the pitch, the true winners of the World Cup are the hosts.”

Soweto’s miracle: From strife to World Cup glow (Google)
“Having seen one impossible dream come true — the death of apartheid — Soweto is getting ready for another: the arrival of soccer’s World Cup, the most-watched sporting event on the planet. The vast township on Johannesburg’s southwest fringe is one of many which South Africa’s white rulers built to house armies of black workers banished nightly from white areas. Spartan, cramped and meagerly funded, even Soweto’s African-sounding name was a white bureaucrat’s contrivance, an acronym of ‘southwestern townships’.”

South Africa 2010: Countdown to kick off (CNN)
“The countdown to the 2010 World Cup, football’s biggest carnival, began in earnest this week with the passing of the one-year anniversary to the opening game of the event. The journey to the finals is long and challenging, with 200 teams competing across six global regions for qualification to a showpiece that will eventually see only the best 31 sides take part, along with hosts South Africa.”

History of the world transfer record (BBC)
“Just days after Real Madrid completed their chase for Kaka for a reported £56m, they look set to smash the world transfer record by paying £80m for Cristiano Ronaldo.”

Ray Clemence

June 13, 2009

“Raymond Neal ‘Ray’ Clemence, MBE (born 5 August 1948) is one of English and European football’s most decorated goalkeepers ever and was part of the Liverpool team of the 1970s.” Wikipedia, Top 50 English Players: Ray Clemence (Goal)

Alleging Racial Remarks, Soccer Player Seeks ‘Moral Compensation’

June 12, 2009

“During eight years of playing professional soccer in Europe, Oguchi Onyewu of the United States had grown wearily accustomed to monkey noises and racial remarks made by fans toward black players. But Onyewu, a defender whose parents immigrated from Nigeria, said he had never heard such discriminatory remarks uttered at him by another player until a playoff match last month to decide the Belgian League championship.” (NYT)

Beating the international minnows (WSC)
“Following England’s sound disposal of Andorra, a well rehearsed debate arises again: does the tiny nation deserve a place in UEFA’s qualification tournament? With a population of only 68,000, the principality is yet to field anything approaching a competent side. Last night’s game was, according to Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail, no more than ‘a training session dressed up as a football match… England scored as many as they could be bothered to’.”

For the World’s Best Players, Italy’s Lure Fades (NYT)
“Apart from Brazil, perhaps no country is more synonymous with soccer than Italy, where fevered fans are known as tifosi, or carriers of typhoid. The Italian national team has won the World Cup four times, only once fewer than Brazil, and is the defending champion. And the most celebrated team in the Italian League, A.C. Milan, is owned by none other than the country’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.”

What is the Confederations Cup? (BBC)
“On Sunday, the eight-team Fifa Confederations Cup gets under way in South Africa when the host country take on Iraq in Johannesburg. It is the eighth edition of a tournament that is still something of a mystery to many football fans around the globe. So, what is the Confederations Cup?”

2010’s unlikely star (BBC – Simon Austin)
“Zurich, 15 May 2004: The destination of the 2010 World Cup has been revealed and the icons of modern South Africa are celebrating. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, president Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela are enveloped by hugs and congratulations on stage at Fifa’s headquarters.”

Bloggers are Not Journalists (A More Splendid Life)
“First, to get this Real Madrid transfer business out of the way: Sir Alex Ferguson is getting pilloried for going back on his ‘I wouldn’t sell that mob a virus.’ But he didn’t sell them a virus, he sold them Ronaldo. So case closed.”

South Africans ring in one-year World Cup countdown (TopNews)
“Johannesburg – With exactly one year to go to kick-off in the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa, the organizers of the tournament were thumbing their noses at the sceptics Thursday and assuring preparations were on the ball. On June 11, 2010, the first salvo in the first World Cup on the African continent will be fired at Soccer City stadium outside Johannesburg, where home side Bafana Bafana meets an as yet unknown opponent.”

Football Fans Gone Wild (The Offside)
“Two videos have come to light in the last two days that display, unfortunately, just how stupid, for lack of a better term, football fans can be. The first comes from Mexico, where a fan was caught on video camera laying out another fan with a right hand.”

Lies, Damned Lies… (World Soccer – Brian Glanville)
“All the more – or less – so when you think of the resurgence of a Brazilian team capable of winning 4-0 in Montevideo against Uruguay, so often their bogey team, or the sweet combinations of Spain in midfield, bolstering an attack which contains Fernando Torres and David Villa.”

Pro Vercelli – Roma: The 2019 Champions League Final, Live from the Estádio do Dragão

June 12, 2009

“Welcome to Pretty Much the Exact Opposite of the Thunderdome. Okay, here’s the deal. It’s 2019. A dozen years after Twitter (not a fad, by the way) transformed the very way we think about information, the power of social networking is being harnessed at all times to redefine who we are and how we interact in a world of dynamic choices.” (The Run of Play), (1 – Pro Vercelli: Carpe Everything), (2 – Pro Vercelli: Iron Fine as Sand), (3 – Pro Vercelli: Blossoms to the Wind)

Argentina slump, Brazil and Chile steam ahead

June 11, 2009

“Argentina’s World Cup fear of heights resurfaced on Wednesday when they lost 2-0 in Ecuador while Brazil and Chile both moved closer to a trip to South Africa with home wins. South American group leaders Brazil came from behind to beat Paraguay 2-1 in a top-of-the-table clash while surprise package Chile thumped a negative Bolivia 4-0.” (ESPN)

Africa’s biggest and best struggle (ESPN)
“After two rounds of Africa’s World Cup qualifying matches not many experts would have guessed that the continent’s two most successful sides would be propping up their groups. Egypt have won a record six African Nations Cups while Cameroon have been the continent’s top side four times and are chasing a sixth World Cup finals appearance. Yet 2004 and 2006 African champions Egypt are yet to win in Group C and Cameroon are yet to score a single goal in Group A.”

Ecuador 2 – 0 Argentina (ESPN)
“Second-half goals by Walter Ayovi and Pablo Palacios gave Ecuador a crucial 2-0 win over Argentina and kept them in the hunt for a place in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.”
Mighty Football)

Colombia hand Peru eighth sucessive defeat (ESPN)

Brazil retain top place, Paraguay now third (ESPN)
(Mighty Football)

Chile too hot to handle for hapless Bolivia (ESPN)

The Offside Year End Power Rankings

June 11, 2009

“Yes, it’s been awhile, but by the time May had rolled around (we begin months on the tenth or thereabouts) we decided to eliminate the confusion and allow the lads to duke it out on the field. They did, someone won, and selecting the best team became a mere formality.” (The Offside)

England Cruise To A Respectable Win?

June 11, 2009

“The result was never in doubt against part-timers Andorra, but Fabio Cappello’s England fielded a strong side and cruised to a 6-0 victory, demonstrating the Italian’s respect for the opposition, although this was something perhaps that wasn’t reflected by other members of the England entourage.” (Soccer Lens) 

England 6 – 0 Andorra (ESPN)
“Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe both scored twice as England gave 58,000 fans, who refused to be beaten by a London travel nightmare, ample reward for their defiance with their biggest win in a competitive game since 1999.”

Finland 0 – 3 Russia (ESPN)

Netherlands 2 – 0 Norway (ESPN)

Confederations Cup: A To Z

June 10, 2009

Goal.com takes a look at the competing teams and history of the competition ahead of the big kick-off; along the way, we uncover some of the more curious points of interest of the Confederations Cup…” (Goal)

Chile plot course for South Africa 2010 (BBC – Tim Vickery)
“Four of the five games in this weekend’s 13 round of South American World Cup qualifiers were won by the away team. That’s a remarkable statistic in a continent where so often the home sides come out on top. Before this round, the campaign was reproducing the standard South American ratio of 3 to 1, with 31 home wins to 10 away.”

Brazil still battling the ghosts of ’82 (SI – Tim Vickery)
“They say people only ever remember the winners. They can say it all they like — it doesn’t make it true, especially when it comes to soccer. The game is known for its simplicity. But such simplicity hides myriad complexities.”

Best of the rest compete for 2010 World Cup soccer spots (The Canadian Press)
“Few doubt that Brazil and Argentina will qualify for the World Cup finals next year in South Africa. After all, Brazil has played in every one, and Argentina last missed out in 1970. But which other two teams will automatically advance from South American qualifying? A fifth South American team will also have a chance to make it, facing a playoff with the fourth-placed team from North and Central America and the Caribbean.”

World Cup safe from global crisis (Guardian)
” Africa waited decades to host its first soccer World Cup and when it comes, it’s during an unprecedented global economic crisis. The recession has impacted every country, raising fears for the planet’s most watched sporting event, which kicks off a year from now on June 11.
Yet not even the worst crisis since the Great Depression seems likely to deter millions of fanatical football fans or big commercial sponsors.”

Britain to take on match-fixers (BBC)
“The man who took on the drug cheats says match-fixing is fast emerging as a major threat to the integrity of sport. Dick Pound, former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, has told BBC Sport that sport must step up its efforts to combat corruption.”

The dread of pre-season training looms large (BBC – Gavin Strachan)
“Hi, hope you are all well. It might be June, but having reflected on the season that has just passed, the thoughts of professional footballers are now – grudgingly – switching to getting themselves prepared for pre-season training. For most players, those words ‘pre-season training’ are tantamount to an obscenity.”

The match that defined the Spanish season

June 9, 2009

“This year’s league title race effectively came to an end one sunny bank holiday weekend in Madrid at the start of May as Barcelona, champions for the 19th time, wrapped up one of the most brilliant campaigns in their history, in which they have scored more goals than ever before, and left Real Madrid empty-handed in second place.” (World Soccer, 2)

Switching allegiance: the transfer moves they said would never happen (Independent)
“These are the words of Real Madrid’s latest signing Kaka – this time last week. His move from AC Milan for a world record transfer fee of £58m is just the latest in a long line of players who have declared their undying loyalty to a club, only to switch allegiances.”

The Soccerlens Premier League 08/09 Season Review (Soccer Lens)
“So that’s it. The curtain has fallen on another season in English football and what a season it has been too! We’ve seen Manchester United look as though they would win every conceivable trophy and yet their season ends with ultimate disappointment. Liverpool’s recent form was the stuff of champions but in a campaign that looked to be promising so much, they ended up winning nothing.”

Revitalised Serbia riding high under Raddy Antic (Guardian)
“Red Star are disintegrating, crowds for domestic matches remain low and violent, and there are constant allegations of corruption. Serbian football should be in a mess – domestically it is in a mess – and yet somehow the national team sits atop what looked a tough qualifying group for the World Cup.”

Return of the Galacticos (NYT)
“It seems Real Madrid’s president, Florentino Perez, hasn’t lost his taste for galacticos. On Monday, Perez and Real Madrid completed the acquisition of the Brazilian star Kaka from A.C. Milan. The transfer fee was reported to be about $92 million, a record. (I guess money was everything after all.)”

Football: Europe’s top 40 summer transfer targets (Guardian)
“Cristiano Ronaldo His on-off move to Madrid looks like it could be back on again after Real’s new president, Florentino Pérez, said he wanted to bring both Kaka and Ronaldo to the club. Possible destination – Real Madrid. Value – £60m”

Tom Jenkins’s best pictures of the football season (Guardian)
“This was at the game between the so-called two richest clubs in the world and true to form the City fans had come prepared to show their backing to the new Arab owners. I like this sweet moment caught as the players, including Robinho on his home debut, warmed up in front of these young boys dressed in identical headwear.”

Top 10 footballers who revealed T-shirts with messages (Who ate all the pies)

Scout: Sebastian Giovinco

June 9, 2009

“Sebastian Giovinco (born January 26, 1987 in Turin) is an Italian footballer who plays for Serie A club Juventus. Giovinco is an attacking midfielder with noted dribbling and play-making skills.” Wikipedia, YouTube

Media clowns talking bull

June 8, 2009

“The football season may be over but the silly season is well and truly in full swing. It’s easy to see why Rafa might be frustrated with the lack of any progress on our new stadium, because if we were to sign half of the players the clowns in the media have us linked with in their many “exclusives”, we will need the extra capacity just to fit them all into the ground!” (This Is Anfield)

Loan ranger Tom Hicks Kops the blame for problems at Liverpool (Guardian)
“Liverpool’s co-owner said in a statement at the end of last week, before adding a pay-off so lacking in self-awareness that it was almost comical: ‘I don’t want any of this to be a distraction to the team and our fans.’ If any of this sounds familiar to Liverpool fans, who have watched their beloved club slide into almost constant tumult, at least off the field, since Hicks and his business partner George Gillett arrived on Merseyside back in 2007, then it was the same old story, too, in the States, where Hicks has earned a reputation for what the New York Times called wrong-headedness.”

Liverpool’s American owners make huge loss (ESPN)
“Liverpool’s parent company owned by Tom Hicks and George Gillett suffered a £42.6m loss last year – mainly due to interest payments on the debts the Americans took on to buy the club. In the annual accounts released tonight, Liverpool’s accountants have also warned that remaining uncertainty over refinancing the £350m debt before the July 24 deadline ‘may cast significant doubt on the group’s and parent company’s ability to continue as a going concern’.”

Liverpool left to tumble into £420m black hole (The Independent)
“The financial black hole otherwise known as Kop Football Limited – or KFL, the holding company of Liverpool – owed a total of £421.6m to creditors at the end of the 2007-08 financial year, but Liverpool’s manager, Rafa Benitez, will still be given summer transfer funds of around £20m plus whatever he makes in sales, according to sources close to the club’s owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett.”

KPMG warn that Liverpool could become the next Leeds (OLEOLE)
“Just like a sudden sharp pain down your left arm on a cold Tuesday night, Liverpool’s supporters were blindsided by financial auditors KPMG’s latest findings into their club. Unable to repay their loan debts in January, Liverpool’s owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, made arrangements with RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) and Wachovia to repay their financial arrangements on July 24, a sum of £350m.”

Real Madrid admit interest in Liverpool FC star Xabi Alonso (Liverpool Echo)
“REAL MADRID president Florentino Perez has admitted for the first time that he wants to sign Xabi Alonso – but Reds boss Rafa Benitez insists he’s not for sale. Perez is overseeing a major overhaul at the Bernabeu this summer and is prepared to test Liverpool’s resolve with a £25million bid for the 27-year-old midfielder.”

Kleber would entertain move to Liverpool (ESPN)
“Brazilian international Kleber has insisted he is happy to remain with Cruzeiro amid increasing speculation about a move to Liverpool, but would entertain a move to the Premier League should a fee be agreed between the two clubs. The 25-year-old is thought to be one of Rafael Benitez’s top targets for next season as the Reds manager looks to challenge Manchester United for the Premier League title.”

Reds make £20million move for Lavezzi (This Is Anfield)
“Liverpool have made a £20million offer for Napoli’s Agentine striker Ezequiel Lavezzi, according to the player’s agent. The 24-year-old has been strongly tipped to leave the Serie A club after writing an open letter to the fans last week saying he had been treated with disrespect by club officials over his contract.”

Moore’s love affair with football still burns bright (Wirral News)
“The Daily Post’s Tranmere Rovers reporter Nick Hilton reflects on Friday’s surprise sacking of manager Ronnie Moore. YOU can be sure Ronnie Moore won’t pass on the opportunity to offer some wry reflection on the unstable nature of the football management business when he stands up to address his wedding guests this week.”

Anfield Icon Robbie Fowler Would Love To Manage Liverpool (Goal)
“Former England international Robbie Fowler, 34, currently of the North Queensland Fury in Australia’s A-League, has u-turned on his previous ambitions of making an early retirement from football and has now declared that he would relish entering a career in coaching and management.”

Nigeria 3 – 0 Kenya

June 8, 2009

“Obinna Nsofor snatched two second half goals to help ensure a comfortable 3-0 win for Nigeria over Kenya in their World Cup African zone Group B qualifier in Abuja on Sunday. The Inter Milan forward, who saw little league action this season, converted a 72nd minute penalty and then hit home a thundering shot five minutes later.” (ESPN)

Cameroon 0 – 0 Morocco (ESPN)
“Cameroon and Morocco played out a 0-0 draw in their World Cup qualifier on Sunday, leaving the two nations struggling to qualify for next year’s World Cup finals in South Africa.”

Egypt thrashed in 2010 qualifier (BBC)
“Egypt face a struggle to qualify for the 2010 World Cup after an away defeat to Algeria leaves them stranded at the bottom of their group. Cameroon are another Africa giant propping up their group after a goalless draw with Morocco. But Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Ivory Coast and Ghana all won over the weekend to maintain their 100% starts to the final round of 2010 World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.”

Africa’s finest in action (BBC)
“Every week, the BBC World Service’s African sports programme Fast Track rounds up the continent’s goal scorers in the top leagues in Europe. Now with club action over for the season and players on their way to international duties, Fast Track brings you the best of the season 2008-09.”

2010 World Cup tables (BBC)
“The 5 group winners go through to join the world’s best at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The top three in each group will go to the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.”

Cameroon/Morocco: Lions Fail to Roar At Home (Vanguard)
“The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon failed to bounce back to World Cup contention after they were held to a barren draw at home by the Atlas Lions of Morocco. Both teams needed victory to stay in contention for the single.”

Nigeria/Kenya: Nigeria Beat Kenya (This Day)
“Super Eagles, yesterday in Abuja, humphed and laboured with their flight for the best part of 90 minutes to get their journey to the World Cup 2010 ticket on course. Still they had a 3-0 victory that looked emphatic enough to flatter them and their massive supporters on at the end of the game against the Harambee Stars of Kenya.”

Ghana/Mali: Stars Put Hand On Self Destruct Button (Public Agenda)
” It has not been pressed yet but the build up to the crucial 2010 joint African and World Cup qualifier against Mali will leave many Ghanaian football fans worrying weather the Black Stars are not on the verge of pressing the self destruct button.”

Nigeria Back On Track (MTN Football)
“Nigeria got their 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign back on track with a 3-0 defeat of Group B rivals Kenya at the National Stadium in Abuja on Sunday evening.”

Keeping blunder gives Brazil first competitive win in Uruguay

June 7, 2009

“Brazil capitalised on an early blunder by goalkeeper Sebastian Viera to thrash Uruguay 4-0 in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday and claim their first away win against their smaller neighbours for 33 years. Daniel Alves scored early when his speculative 40-metre shot bounced around six metres in front of goal, was completely misjudged by Viera and flew into the net.” (ESPN)

In a Busy World, Brazil Discovers the Will to Work (NYT)
“The 2010 World Cup in South Africa is beginning to take shape. The first four nations to qualify for the tournament are Australia, Japan, the Netherlands and South Korea. With due respect to them, this is relatively easy in their parts of the world. They are the expected qualifiers, big fish in their qualifying pools.”

Brazil serve up lethal cocktail in Uruguay (Guardian)
“Brazil served up another lethal cocktail of uncompromising defence and clinical counter-attacks in their unprecedented 4-0 win in Uruguay on Saturdau. Brazil soaked up the first-half pressure in Montevideo and found themselves 2-0 up at halftime on the way to their first win in Uruguay since 1976.”

Away joy for South American trio (FIFA)
“Visiting sides held the ascendancy in the latest round of qualifying matches in South America, with three of the four away teams in action on Saturday recording valuable wins on the road.”

Uruguay-Brazil, an old classic renovated with World Cup dreams (CONMEBOL)
“Uruguay’s national team will almost reach 50 goals, scored this season by its forwards Diego Forlán and Luis Suárez in Europe, in front of the best defense in the Qualifiers, that of Brazil that has only received 5 in twelve rounds, in a key match for both.”

Latest Photos (FIFA)

Argentina do just enough, but scare no one (ESPN)
“An improved second half performance from Argentina cemented them in third position in the South American qualifying group.”

Top spot surrendered by Paraguay (ESPN)
“Paraguay were knocked off the top of the South American World Cup qualifying group after a shock 2-0 home defeat to Chile on Sunday.”

Bolivia back down to earth (ESPN)
“Bolivia stumbled to a 1-0 home loss to a well-prepared Venezuela in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday, the high-flying hosts given a cold dose of reality after their stunning 6-1 win over Argentina two months ago.”

U.S. 2-1 Honduras: Bocanegra heads winner

June 7, 2009

“Clint Dempsey flubbed a backheel five minutes in, Honduras pounced on it and the United States fell behind early for the second time in four days. ‘Here we go again,’ U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra thought. Only this time, for the first time in 24 years, the Americans came from behind to win a World Cup qualifier.”(ESPN)

World Cup Qualifying: U.S. 2, Honduras 1 (NYT)
“Pregame United States Coach Bob Bradley made four changes to his lineup for Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Honduras, dropping DeMarcus Beasley and Marvell Wynne in an attempt to tighten up the defense. Mistakes by Beasley and Wynne led to two goals by Costa Rica in first 13 minutes of the Americans’ 3-0 loss on Wednesday. Jonathan Spector and Jonathan Bornstein replaced them in the starting lineup on Saturday night.”

USA rallies to beat Honduras 2-1, extends home streak against CONCACAF opponents (CONCACAF)
“Carlos Bocanegra scored his 11th international goal in the 68th minute to give the United States a 2-1 victory over El Salvador on Saturday, recovering from its loss three days earlier in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.”

Mexico woe as Ticos roll (FIFA)
“It was another action-packed night in the North, Central American and Caribbean zone. Costa Rica were made to work for their three points on the road in Tobago while the United States survived an early scare to beat Honduras in Chicago, with Mexico – struggling woefully in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying – losing out 2-1 in El Salvador. Join FIFA.com for a closer look at all the evening’s action from CONCACAF.”

2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier: USA – Honduras (FIFA)

El Salvador 2-1 Mexico: Quintanilla stuns El Tri (ESPN)
“Eliseo Quintanilla scored on a penalty kick in the 85th minute to lift El Salvador to a critical 2-1 victory over Mexico on Saturday in a World Cup qualifier. The result gives El Salvador some hope of reaching next year’s World Cup finals in South Africa, while plunging Mexico into a deeper hole.”

Late penalty lifts El Salvdor 2-1, continues Mexico’s woes (CONCACAF)
“A dramatic penalty kick with four minutes remaining by Eliseo Quintanilla lifted El Salvador to an emotional 2-1 win against Mexico at Estadio Cuscatlan Saturday night. Quintanilla struck from the spot after Mexican defender Oscar Rojas blocked Julio Martinez’s cross while sliding near the end line.

T & T 2-3 Costa Rica: Borges nets brace (ESPN)
“Celso Borges scored twice, including a tiebreaking goal in the 68th minute, and Costa Rica defeated Trinidad and Tobago 3-2 in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday night.”

France 1-0 Turkey: Benzema pen seals win

June 6, 2009

“France bounced back from their miserable performance against Nigeria earlier this week to beat 10-man Turkey in Lyon tonight. Having been booed off after a 1-0 loss in St Etienne three days ago, France were eager to put those memories to bed and did so courtesy of Karim Benzema’s first-half penalty at the Stade de Gerland.” (ESPN)

Unconvincing but enough for England (ESPN)
“Emile Heskey scored his first goal in a competitive match for England since the 2002 World Cup as Fabio Capello’s side took another important if unconvincing step towards the 2010 finals. The Aston Villa striker had not hit the target in an important match for his country since netting against Denmark in Japan seven years ago.”
Kazakhstan 0-4 England (BBC)
England bounce back to finish on a high in Almaty (Paul Hayward – Guardian)
Kazakhstan v England: Steven Gerrard revels on centre stage (Telegraph)

Youngsters do it for Wales (ESPN)
“Wales’ amazing youngsters grew up in front of boss John Toshack’s eyes here, to claim their first away win in this World Cup Group Four qualifier. Toshack had been shorn of 10 senior players for this long trip to the shores of the Caspian sea and he must have had doubts in the back of his mind that this bunch of raw youngsters could handle an occasion like this.”
Toshack praises young side (FIFA)

South Korea qualify for seventh time in a row (ESPN)
“South Korea qualified for their seventh consecutive World Cup finals on Saturday after beating United Arab Emirates 2-0 in a Group Two qualifier.”

Point not good enough for either (ESPN)
“North Korea spurned their chance of earning an early play-off place for next year’s World Cup finals in South Africa when they were held to a goalless draw with Iran on Saturday.”
Korea Republic clinch finals berth (FIFA)

Honours even in Sofia (FIFA)
“Richard Dunne kept Republic of Ireland on course for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ as Giovanni Trapattoni’s side scrapped their way to a hard-fought draw in Bulgaria.”

Bulgaria 1 – 1 Ireland (ESPN)
“Richard Dunne kept the Republic of Ireland on course for the World Cup finals as his side scrapped their way to a hard-fought draw in Bulgaria.”

Denmark beats Sweden 1-0 in WCup qualifier (SI)
“Thomas Kahlenberg scored an early goal and Thomas Sorensen saved a penalty to lead Denmark past Sweden 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday. The win – Denmark’s first over Sweden since 1996 – solidifies the former European champion’s grip on the top spot in Group 1 with 16 points from six games as it looks to qualify for the World Cup finals for the fourth time.”

Italy 3 Northern Ireland 0: Match report (Telegraph)
“Giuseppe Rossi scored one goal and set up another in Italy’s 3-0 win over Northern Ireland in a friendly on Saturday. The American-born Rossi found the target with a powerful shot from outside the area in the 20th minute, then provided a through ball that set up a goal for Pasquale Foggia in the 53rd.”

Foto Focus: Allianz Arena

June 6, 2009

Munich Allianz Arena
“This week marks the fourth anniversary of the opening of the Allianz Arena (or Fußball Arena München for UEFA-organised matches), home to FC Bayern München and TSV 1860 München and made famous during the 2006 World Cup.” (Pitch Invasion)

Topple Every Statue (The Run of Play)
“I’m pleased to announced that—thanks in part to readers just like you—we came home with a pretty decent haul from the inaugural EPL Awards sponsored by EPL Talk.”

A troubled tournament looks forward (ESPN)
“A tournament with a troubled history, the Confederations Cup is arguably the second most prestigious competition – behind the World Cup – staged by FIFA, but was only recognised as such in 1997. The first time a competition of this type was seen was in the Mundialito (Spanish for ‘little World Cup’) in 1980, when six teams from two confederations (UEFA and CONMEBOL) met in Uruguay, with the hosts beating Brazil 2-1 in the final.”

U.S. team overwhelmed in every facet by Costa Rica (ESPN)
“When the U.S. national team’s lineup versus Costa Rica was first revealed Wednesday night, it was easy to think the Americans were ready to attack and try to deliver their first-ever victory in a World Cup qualifier played in Costa Rica. A three-forward formation coupled with a pair of superfast fullbacks gave the impression the U.S. team would attempt to overwhelm Costa Rica with pace and attack down the flanks.”

A Response to Barry Glendenning on Gareth Barry (A More Splendid Life)
“Barry Glendenning doesn’t often write feature articles for the Guardian Football website, so when he does it means something is jammed deep in his craw, usually one of football’s false idols.”

England goalkeeper crisis (WSC)
“Injuries to David James and Ben Foster leave England forced to choose between Scott Carson, Robert Green and Paul Robinson to face Kazakhstan today. Three goalkeepers that many would accuse of lacking that oft mentioned, never defined quality of ‘international class’.”

FIFA can’t control agents (WSC)
“Wayne Rooney seems to be bearing up quite well considering that he is involved in a bitter conflict that has rumbled on for seven years. The warring parties are his current agent Paul Stretford and Streford’s former company Formation that he left last year.”

Leadership, consistency key for Aguirre in return as Mexican coach (SI)
“Once again, Mexico will usher in a new era and again it will start with a World Cup qualifier. Much like last August, a new coach will debut in a qualifying game in charge of El Tri and he’ll either be crowned the conquering hero or will leave many wondering why a change was made in the first place.”

Club down, Messi turns to country (SI)
“If there were still any doubts, Lionel Messi last week proved he is the best player in the world after playing a key role in Barcelona’s victory over Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League final. Messi wasn’t at his best that day, but he still made the difference, scoring Barça’s second goal with a spectacular header.”

A Cultured Left Foot – A Season In Review

June 6, 2009

“How will 2008/09 be remembered for Arsenal? Was it a failure, no silverware and fourth in the Premier League or should it be viewed positively, two cup semi-finals and Champions League football once more at The Emirates? The truth is a mix of the two.” A Cultured Left Foot – 1, 2, 3, 4

The Death of International Football?

June 5, 2009

“One week after a much acclaimed Champions’ League final in Rome, FIFA’s Congress passed a new resolution removing age limits on a player’s ability to change national teams. While the vote received little fanfare as more attention seems to be affixed on whether Kaka will play for AC Milan, Real Madrid or Chelsea, the potential repercussions on international football are enormous.” (Soccer Lens)

Kazakhstan v England: Fabio Capello has ‘big confidence’ in World Cup chances (Telegraph)
“With a perfect qualifying record so far, England can virtually guarantee their participation in next year’s tournament with victories in Almaty tomorrow and at home to Andorra on Wednesday. Capello has also made it clear that he will accept “no excuse” for any tiredness from his players at the end of 10 months of continuous football.”

US citizen Afshin Ghotbi chases Iran’s fading World Cup dream (The Sport Blog)
“Afshin Ghotbi has learned the adoring realities of Iranian hospitality quicker than most. The Iran national team coach arrived at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport last month to cheers and a hail of flowers. It was the second time the prodigal son of Iran football had been showered by his doting public. This time it was to mark the arrival of the national team’s latest boss by a public eager for good news as Iran teeter on the edge of World Cup oblivion.”

World Cup threatens fixture chaos for English clubs in 2010 (Guardian)
“The Football Association and Premier League are under intense pressure to solve a potential fixture list meltdown before next year’s World Cup. Fifa’s rules forbid domestic-season fixtures taking place after 16 May, yet with the season due to kick off on 15 August, it means all 38 league fixtures must be crammed into 34 available weekends, with 19 midweek dates already ruled out due to international and Uefa competition commitments.”

Scottish football’s end of season hall of fame (The Sport Blog)
“The dust has settled, the last ball has been kicked and the cast members are sunning themselves in Magaluf. What started off as a disastrous season for Scottish football on account of dismal performances by club sides in Europe simmered away nicely thereafter, boiling over on more than one occasion. Let the principle protagonists take a bow.”

Josep Guardiola

June 5, 2009

“Barcelona took the unusual step of promoting Guardiola from Barcelona ‘B’ coach to succeed Frank Rijkaard in July, 2008. The former Nou Camp midfielder had been a great player, but his relative inexperience in management raised many eyebrows: How he would manage to lead a dressing room filled with star names like Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto’o?” (ESPN)

Real Madrid Prepares to Spark Summer Frenzy (NYT)
“Less than a week after Barcelona’s great triumph in Rome, five of the eight richest clubs on earth have made drastic changes to their managerial structure. Removing the coach is a customary rite of summer. On Monday morning, Chelsea and A.C. Milan installed new men to run their teams, while Real Madrid went for the full revolution.”

Iniesta to miss Confederations Cup (World Soccer)
“England head to Kazakhstan this Saturday for a World Cup Qualifier knowing that the one and only time they met before the Three Lions won 5-1. Andres Iniesta has pulled out of Spain’s squad for the Confederations Cup after tests confirmed the Barcelona midfielder’s thigh muscle injury as serious.”

Bojan will not leave on loan this summer (FC Barcelona Blog: Barça Transfer Zone)
“Catalan sports papers El Mundo Deportivo and Sport both claim that Barcelona forward and Spanish youth international Bojan Krkic (18) will not leave on loan in the summer.”

Man City chief Cook working some weeks on Eto’o deal (tribalfootball)
“Manchester City have been working for some time on a deal for Barcelona star Samuel Eto’o, it has been revealed. The Times says Garry Cook, the chief executive, has spent several weeks putting together a package that he hopes will persuade Eto’o, the Barcelona striker, to move to the City of Manchester Stadium.”

Where Should We Re-Inforce? (All About FC Barcelona)
“FC Barcelona will be having a along and much tougher next season. We will be fighting for six trophies altogether as I explained in my previous post. Guardiola has already asked for a larger squad that means we will be going to the market looking to buy good re-inforcement.”

SFS “LIGA TEAM” 2008-2009 – Video (Spanish Football & Sports)

Latest transfer speculation

June 4, 2009

“The 2008-9 season ended with a bang, with the wonderful display of attacking football from Barcelona in the Champions League final in Rome. But before having had time to catch your breath, the transfer rumours are coming come thick and fast, with almost every professional player being linked with a move. With a few big deals having already been made, here are a few of the ones to watch over the summer.” (World Soccer)

Into Thin Air in South America (NYT)
“In 1973, Mario Kempes was a little known, 19-year-old Argentine striker who was still about five years away from leading his country to the 1978 World Cup championship. But as part of Argentina’s team involved in South American qualifying matches for the 1974 tournament in West Germany, Kempes and some of his teammates own a notable footnote — they were part of what the Argentine news media dubbed the ghost team.”

World Cup Debate: Proud Africa And Our Surrogate Teams (Goal)
“Finally the World Cup has reached Africa, and pride has filled the entire continent. In less than 400 days, on June 11th 2010 at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, South-Africa, the nineteenth World Cup and the first on African soil will kick-off. It is about time!”

Italian season ends with an exodus to leave the future unclear (The Sport Blog)
“In the space of one afternoon, Serie A lost three of its most iconic players and one of its most successful managers. The retirements of Paolo Maldini, Luis Figo and Pavel Nedved had all been announced well in advance, while Carlo Ancelotti’s departure from Milan came as no surprise, but that didn’t make their goodbyes any less emotional.”

Top 100 football moments of 2008/09: 25-1 (Telegraph)
“Sir Alex Ferguson loses it, Rafael Benitez loses it and Didier Drogba loses it in the fourth and final instalment of our 100 greatest moments of the football season.”

Why the World Cup in South Africa already looks like a missed opportunity (Mirror)
“It seems hard to justify spending billions of rand on football stadiums when millions are homeless and living in tin shacks. South Africa is a country of great contrast and will undoubtedly host a colourful and exciting World Cup next summer. But for those of us who like to think we have a social conscience, it will be hard to see a country besieged by so much poverty mortgaging itself to the hilt to lay on a tournament for such a cash-rich sport.”

Pro Vercelli: Offseason Factbook

June 4, 2009

“I decided to keep Ibrahimovic. When it came down to it, his character was just too fascinating to lose. I’ve never seen a player who was so expansively self-defeating or one so capable of turning every moment of triumph into a bellow of despair. It’s as if the better he gets, the more he has to betray himself: he’s playing for his favorite club, yet desperately wants a transfer; he’s playing for his favorite manager, yet spends all his time complaining; he’s a born leader, but never had a worse season than when he was asked to be captain.” (The Run of Play)

Costa Rica 3-1 U.S.: Ticos rampant at home

June 4, 2009

“When the U.S. soccer team plays in Costa Rica, the Americans resemble the doormat they used to be rather than the regional power they’ve become. Alvaro Saborio scored 79 seconds in, the second-fastest goal against the United States in a World Cup qualifier, and Costa Rica coasted to a 3-1 victory Wednesday night.” (ESPN)
World Cup Qualifying: Costa Rica 3, U.S. 1 (NYT)
Costa Rica 3, USA 1: The Day After (Soccer By Ives)
Saborio, Costa Rica get off to fast start, top U.S. in Cup qualifier (SI)
Costa Rica – United States (3-1) WC-2010 Qual, Highlights 04.06.09 (Mighty Football)

What’s the score with the Bundesliga?

June 3, 2009

Sascha Riether
Disclaimer: If you have been following these columns for a number of years, you might be bored by what you’ll find below. I cannot be held responsible for this inconvenience, because it’s time for the traditional end-of-season column which never offers anything new. Postscript: Then again, the very fact that nothing ever changes with regards to the end-of-season column is, at least from my point of view, quite interesting in itself. So why not stick around for some brainstorming?” (ESPN)

Real Madrid Prepares to Spark Summer Frenzy (NYT)
“Less than a week after Barcelona’s great triumph in Rome, five of the eight richest clubs on earth have made drastic changes to their managerial structure. Removing the coach is a customary rite of summer. On Monday morning, Chelsea and A.C. Milan installed new men to run their teams, while Real Madrid went for the full revolution.”

Rampant US face Tico test (FIFA)
“USA, currently top of the final six-team hexagonal in North, Central American and Caribbean qualifying, travel to Costa Rica for their next test on Wednesday 3 June. The game marks the start of a hectic period for the Americans, who face third-place Honduras in Chicago on Saturday before shipping out to South Africa to represent the region at the FIFA Confederations Cup.”

South American numbers game (FIFA)
“As anyone in football will tell you, statistics can be misleading while sequences, no matter how good or bad, all come to an end sometime. With this in mind, FIFA.com delivers some interesting facts and figures ahead of Matchday 13 in South American Zone qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.”

Onyewu Goes to Court to Stop Racist Abuse (NYT)
“The United States national team defender Oguchi Onyewu, who will probably be in the starting lineup Wednesday night when the Americans visits Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier, sued an opposing player Tuesday over what he said were racist insults in a Belgian league playoff game.”

Spain Top FIFA Rankings (Goal)
“Spain have completed a memorable year at the top of the FIFA World Rankings as they have remained in first place while those below them have swapped places after mixed results. Vicente del Bosque replaced Luis Aragones at the helm of la Furia Roja last summer and the switch has been almost seamless as the team have maintained their incredible form.”

Anatolia still searching for Turkish title (ESPN – Jon Carter)
“Back in February it looked as if one of the most remarkable stories in Turkish football history was about to unfold. Sivasspor, a club who have only been in the top flight since 2005, were sitting on top of the league and were poised to become only the fifth team to win the Super Lig title. By the final day of the season the club’s title dream was still a mathematical possibility, but a defeat to Galatasaray coupled with Besiktas’ win over Denizlispor sent the title to Istanbul’s Besiktas. Not that it was seen as failure in the eyes of the fans.”

Barry gets England talking (BBC – Phil McNulty)“Gareth Barry had plenty of time to ponder his decision to quit Aston Villa for Manchester City as he flew almost 3,500 miles to Europe’s Eastern extremity. Barry was part of England’s squad that travelled on Wednesday to Kazakhstan’s second city, Almaty, where they will play a World Cup qualifier on Saturday night. As European trips go, this is football’s longest and Barry’s preparations were interrupted by a deal that will have caused plenty of mid-air turbulence among his team-mates.”

Who wants whom this summer?

June 2, 2009

Gareth Barry
“Our team of reporters examine which players the Premier League and top European clubs are planning to buy and sell during the summer transfer window, opening today.” (Guardian)

Vote for your European goal of the season (Guardian)
“We’ve whittled down all your suggestions to a final shortlist of 12. But which one deserves to be named as our goal of the season?”

Before It’s Cone (Foot Smoke)
“Maybe soccer games can never truly live up to their hype. The whirring factory of the sport won’t let that happen. Before a game with weeks of buildup can settle in our memory, we have more championships to follow, transfer rumors to process, and international competitions to prepare for. The momentum of the sport turns with the globe.”

Ecuador’s defensive double act (BBC – Tim Vickery)
“Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand might not look back at the Champions League final with much pleasure, but a glance at Manchester United’s goals against column this season highlights the importance of a great centre-back pairing. It was Brazil who invented this concept – dropping an extra player into the heart of the defence to create the back four. Their first World Cup-winning side in 1958 featured the classic contrasting pair of centre backs.”

Last Italians in England: the hits and misses (The Independent)
“GIANFRANCO ZOLA – The diminutive Sardinian was idolised at Chelsea as a player. He was one of the first Italians to join the Premier League when he was signed by Chelsea in 1996 and is considered by fans at the Bridge to be one of their greatest ever players.”

European football’s changing of the guard? (CNN)
“As the season draws to a close across much of Europe there is a sense that the football landscape is changing, with a few unfamiliar names sitting proudly atop their respective leagues. In Germany, traditional powerhouses such as Bayern Munich and UEFA Cup finalist Werder Bremen were beaten to the Bundesliga title by a team from a relatively obscure town in northwestern Germany, more famous for being the home of automaker Volkswagen.”

South American numbers game (FIFA)
“As anyone in football will tell you, statistics can be misleading while sequences, no matter how good or bad, all come to an end sometime. With this in mind, FIFA.com delivers some interesting facts and figures ahead of Matchday 13 in South American Zone qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.”

All White on the night (ESPN)
“In these hi-tech days of sports science, it was touching to see Marseille boss Eric Gerets putting his faith in some tried-and-tested methods as he attempted – in vain – to help his side pick up the French title on Saturday.”

For the U.S., the (Fake) Grass of Another Country (NYT)
“Tropical flora, exotic fauna and faux grass will greet the United States this week when it plays Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifying match at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Aymá in San José on Wednesday.”

Rajevac: We need to be there (FIFA)
“Milovan Rajevac has reiterated his commitment to lead the Black Stars to their second successive FIFA World Cup in South Africa next year even though it is still early days in the final stage of African qualification.”

Scout: Davide Santon

June 1, 2009

Wikipedia – “Davide Santon (born 2 January 1991 in Portomaggiore, province of Ferrara) is an Italian footballer who plays for Serie A club Internazionale.” Wikipedia, YouTune

Chelsea’s top 10 summer transfer targets

June 1, 2009

“Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea’s new manager, will reportedly have more than £50 million to spend in the transfer market this summer, so which players could be heading to Stamford Bridge?” (Telegraph)

Few goals in England (WSC)
“It was perhaps fitting that Manchester United concluded the title formalities at Old Trafford with a soporific 0-0 draw against Arsenal. It was the penultimate of 42 goalless fixtures, the joint most common result in a season when Gary Lineker had to drain every last ounce of cheeky schoolboy charm to plug the gaps on action-bereft episodes of Match of the Day. Where have all the goals gone?”

Structural issues in Germany (WSC)
“Germany reintroduced play-offs this season, or rather relegationsspiele (relegation games). This afternoon Energie Cottbus, who finished third from bottom in the Bundesliga, travel to Nuremberg, who finished third in the second division, to try to claw back a 3-0 deficit from Thursday’s first leg.”

Step Up Their Games (Yanks Abroad)
“With the national team headed for a busy summer schedule that will include as many as a dozen matches, lists are beginning to turn up all over the place. Everyone seems to be guessing which fringe players might have a place in one of the squads head coach Bob Bradley will put together for the qualifiers against Costa Rica and Honduras, the Confederations Cup, and the Gold Cup.”

Prepare for the Worst (Yanks Abroad)
” If you thought Team USA had a tough time in El Salvador, just you wait until they head down to Costa Rica. Oh boy, that’s going to be fun. Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Aymá is one of the most hostile environments for any visiting team to suffer.”

Asian football remains deeply divided after Bin Hammam’s victory, writes Michael Church (World Soccer)
“Two votes were all that stood between Asian football and a major political crisis as the confederation’s president, Mohamed Bin Hammam, retained his seat on FIFA’s executive committee. Hammam, the incumbent, held off the challenge of Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman Al Khalifa to win a hugely divisive election by 23 votes to 21, with two of the 46 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) member nations spoiling their ballot papers.”

Lionel Messi Top 10 Goals (YouTube)