La Liga 09/10 Preview: Will Real Madrid and Barcelona live up to expectations?

August 21, 2009

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Juande Ramos and Pep Guardiola
“Last season Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona thrilled Europe with their fluid, vivacious, irrepressible brand of football. Led by the combined talents of Xavi, Iniesta, Henry, Messi and Eto’o, Barca surged to an exceptional treble which established the Catalan club as the most formidable on the planet.” (SoccerLens)


Wildebeest, the Alamo & Dudu’s voodoo

August 21, 2009

“The cliché coaches like to use when their teams win the first leg of a cup tie is that their team has a foot in the next round. After their 5-1 demolition of Anderlecht, Lyon have both feet inside the door and are just about to close it behind them. Even on television, the atmosphere in the Gerland felt like a carnival – unless, of course, you were an Anderlecht fan for whom it felt more like a burial.” (FourFourTwo)


Pro Vercelli: No Title, No Leash

August 21, 2009

“I’m not going to spend a lot of time crying about what a tragedy last season was. We won the European Cup. Yes, we lost our streak of consecutive Serie A titles and got blown out by A.C. Milan, but we still finished second in the league, won the Club World Cup and the UEFA Super Cup, and ended the season as champions of Europe. That’s not a bad year, even if it doesn’t live up to all our (unearthly, outsize, hyperinflated) expectations.” (Run of Play), Pro Vercelli: The 3-4-3 in Action – (Run of Play)


Serie A’s ‘Year Zero’ may not be as dire as the doom-mongers suggest

August 21, 2009

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Jose Mourinho
“First came denial, then anger, bargaining and depression. Now, at last, acceptance: Serie A has reached the end of an era. No Italian sides reached the quarter-finals of last year’s Champions League, and there is a strong possibility that one of the country’s four places in that competition will soon be lost to Germany. More troubling still, Serie A’s 20 teams now boast a collective debt of close to €2bn. More painful still, two of the league’s most gifted players – Ricky Kakà and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – have left for Spain’s La Liga. Three of its most iconic – Paolo Maldini, Pavel Nedved and Luis Figo – have retired.” (Guardian)

Q. & A. With A.C. Milan’s Oguchi Onyewu
“Oguchi Onyewu joined his new team, A.C. Milan, during the club’s preseason tour of the United States last month. After a day of training and promotional events in the Boston area, Onyewu and his teammates enjoyed a team dinner at the Four Seasons downtown. After dinner, he sat down with The New York Times for an interview about his new team and his experience playing soccer overseas. What follows is a partial transcript of my interview with Onyewu.” (NYT)


The Joy of Six: underrated footballers

August 21, 2009

“From Irish predators to a Danish maestro, we look at six players who didn’t get the credit they deserved” (Guardian)


Review of the week

August 21, 2009

“When Man Utd toured the Far East this summer, Dimitar Berbatov said he felt like a Beatle. On Wednesday night the striker and his team-mates looked more like Bez – dazed and confused. United’s defeat by Burnley was the biggest shock since Robert Smith first discovered hairspray, as a thumping effort from Robbie Blake (or ‘Blobbie Rake’ as he’s known in the trade) earned the striker the freedom of the city.” (BBC)