It’s make or break for Argentina

“In a little more than a week, we’ll likely know if Argentina is a contender for the 2010 World Cup or a pretender, and a serious risk to miss out on South Africa altogether. Diego Maradona’s squad has little option but to claim all three points on Sept. 5 when it takes on archrival Brazil in a decisive South American qualifier.” (SI)

The summer was all about Real Madrid. The new La Liga season will be too
“Fifty-seven channels and there’s only one thing on: Real Madrid. This summer, Álvaro Negredo became the most expensive footballer in Sevilla’s history, Nilmar became the most expensive player in Villarreal’s history and somehow David Villa didn’t become the most expensive Spanish player in anyone’s history. Instead, Valencia busied themselves getting taken over by a company that got its logo from a kiddies’ colouring-in book and its ‘money’ from a fairytale, ditched them, got rid of the man who sunk them, issued €95m (£83m) worth of new shares and grabbed a lifeline. But no one seemed to notice.” (Guardian)

With Their Minds Possibly on the Fires at Home, Greeks Lose Tamely
“When your home, or that of friends and neighbors is burning, it puts a different perspective on playing sport, even in the Champions League. As Panathinaikos went down 2-0, and without much of a fight in Madrid on Tuesday, the television cameras focused on the extremes. Once again, Atletico Madrid’s victory was adorned with a goal of magical quality from Sergio Agüero.” (NYT)

Platini Wants Teams to Balance the Books or Else
“For at least as long as the global financial crisis has been wreaking havoc on economies and firms around the world, soccer clubs have been struggling with financial problems, many self-inflicted. And now Michel Platini, the president of UEFA, has had enough. European soccer’s governing body has warned teams to get their balance sheets, well, balanced or face a ban from the Champions League. Platini is not just targeting small clubs struggling with debt, but he also appears determined to get big clubs with deep-pocketed owners to operate in the black without incurring obscene debt.” (NYT)

English Premier League: Altidore, ESPN, Liverpool and Spector
“I’ve had multiple column ideas bouncing in my head the last couple days but haven’t been able to focus on one thing. So, to solve this, I’m just going to write about everything.” (Intelligent Soccer)

Pro Vercelli: Comets on Commas
“I spent €125,000,000 on one player during the January transfer window. Meet Alessandro Polenta, 23-year-old Italy left winger, ex of Barcelona, and in my estimation, The Best Player In The World. Here’s Alessandro Polenta’s transfer history, just to give you a sense of the shape his career has taken. He started as a 15-year-old at the youth academy of Novara (technically one of our fiercest rivals, though as they play in Serie C1 it’s been a while since we thought about them).” (Run of Play)

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