Red mist descends at Craven Cottage

October 31, 2009

The Fire in the Borgo , Giulio Romano
“Rafael Benitez grimaced on the touchline as nine-man Liverpool were given a mauling in a humiliating defeat at Craven Cottage. Liverpool defenders Philipp Degen and Jamie Carragher were sent off for reckless fouls and by the end the Fulham crowd were chanting ”Easy, easy” as Liverpool resembled a shambles. Goals from Bobby Zamora, Erik Nevland and Clint Dempsey gave Roy Hodgson’s side a deserved victory with Fernando Torres grabbing the one consolation for Liverpool.” (ESPN)

Premier League: Liverpool crash at Fulham
“Liverpool’s hopes of a revived push at the Premier League title collapsed in spectacular fashion at Craven Cottage where a 3-1 Fulham win made it five league defeats from just eleven games played.” (ESPN)

Clint Dempsey crowns a fine win for Fulham after nine-man Liverpool implode
“Rafael Benítez grimaced on the touchline as nine-man Liverpool were given a mauling in a humiliating defeat at Craven Cottage. Liverpool defenders Philipp Degen and Jamie Carragher were sent off for reckless fouls and by the end the Fulham crowd were chanting “Easy, easy” as Liverpool resembled a shambles. Goals from Bobby Zamora, Erik Nevland and Clint Dempsey gave Roy Hodgson’s side a deserved victory, with Fernando Torres grabbing the one consolation for Liverpool.” (Guardian)

Lucas: ‘The boos at Anfield were my worst moment’
“Lucas Leiva cannot suppress a smile when he is reminded of the moment, 18 minutes into the game against Manchester United on Sunday, when he clattered into Paul Scholes, won the ball and played in Dirk Kuyt who almost scored. It was the moment that said Lucas was not going to be pushed around.” (Independent)

Fulham 3 Liverpool 1: match report
“Liverpool suffered their sixth defeat in seven outings in embarrassing fashion, finishing with nine men after both Philipp Degen and Jamie Carragher were sent off against Fulham. After the jubilation of the 2-0 win over Manchester United, Liverpool stumbled to another loss ahead of next week’s crucial Champions League trip to Lyon.” (Telegraph)

Nine-man Liverpool return to losing ways
“Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez endured another day to forget after his side were beaten 3-1 at Fulham and had two men sent-off at Craven Cottage here on Saturday. Defenders Philipp Degen and Jamie Carragher were both shown straight red cards in the space of two second half minutes as the good work the Reds achieved in reviving their Premier League title challenge during last week’s win over Manchester United was undone.” (TimesOnline)

Pro Vercelli: The End, Or Is It

October 31, 2009

“A new version of Football Manager is released today, which makes this, in my house at least, a time of hushed reflection. The old era is passing away, the new era is rising up before us. Everything we knew and loved is sliding into the sea, while before us, like a mountainous country, is thrust a terrifying and exhilarating possibility. Just like every day, really, but the arrival of a new FM makes it that much clearer. Here is the past, there is the future. Eurogamer gave it a 9, but wished more had been done to fix the press conferences.” (Run of Play)

Pro Vercelli – Brian Phillips

Fluminese’s troubles continue

October 30, 2009

José Roberto Torero
“Rooted to the foot of the table and staring relegation in the face, these are dark days for fans of Fluminense who had looked forward to this latest season with so much expectation. With national team striker Fred having been enticed home from French side Lyon to lead the attack and 1994 World Cup-winning coach Carlos Alberto Parreira at the helm, things got off to a flying start with a 1-0 win over Sao Paulo – champions for the last three years.” (WorldSoccer – Tim Vickery)

The Pandemonium Of Football Away From The Pitch

October 30, 2009

“Every weekend football will consistently highlight the inconsistency of the game, whether it is Liverpool’s return to form against Ferguson United or Real Madrid being thumped 4-0 by village team Alcorcorn in the Spanish King’s Cup. Like a good thriller or horror film the weekend’s football action can leave you unsure of which way the action is going to turn right up until the final curtain falls. Away from the field of play though the bizarre twists and turns of everyday life can be just as fascinating and this week football has seemingly stepped out of its comfortable isolated bubble that it normally inhabits and has joined the struggle and annoyance of everyday of life.” (Three Match Ban)

Capello rouses Italian clubs to take power back from Ultras

October 30, 2009

“England manager Fabio Capello breezed into the school of excellence at Coverciano on Monday with the air of authority that comes from having won everything there is in the club game. He was there to give an inspirational speech to the school’s students who want to follow in his footsteps. Instead, Capello launched an unexpected and scathing attack on the state of Italian football, telling the assembled audience that the game on the peninsula is now being held hostage by the Ultrás. “It’s impossible to stop the Ultrás running the game and no one has the courage to stand up to them. In England the grounds are always full.” (SoccerLens)

Gordon adds Bent to Boro

October 30, 2009

“So stated Gordon as he begins the arduous and ten million percent necessary task of stockpiling bodies into the Boro squad. Even the most die-hard Southgate apologists must be impressed. Days into the job and the new manager has already clinched his first signing, with more to follow as he tries to add fresh impetus to our promotion campaign. According to the Gazette, Gordon has taken Marcus Bent on loan from Birmingham City. Though an official announcement is yet to be made, it’s felt that Bent could make the squad for tomorrow’s game against Plymouth, one that currently sees Boro capable of fielding two first team strikers only.” (smogblog)

Tallest Soccer Players in the World

October 30, 2009

“This is a list of the tallest players currently playing professional soccer around the world.” (The Best Eleven)

Video: Inter’s Mario Balotelli has to be dragged away from penalty area to let Samuel Eto’o take it

October 30, 2009

“When Inter Milan’s Mario Balotelli won a penalty five minutes into their match against Palermo last night, he obviously felt that was justification for him taking it. Samuel Eto’o disagreed, pulled rank and placed the ball on the spot.” (Off the Post)

Top 10 European Cup Finals

October 30, 2009

“Ok, so it’s had it’s fair share of duff one’s, but having been graced by some of the finest footballing talent on the planet, the European Cup Final has also conjured up some classic matches. Over the next few weeks we’ll be revealing our favourite ten… ” (midfielddynamo)

In Soccer, It’s Manchester Divided

October 29, 2009

“Kevin and Tony Parker get along pretty well as far as being brothers goes. But during soccer season they sometimes won’t talk for days on end. Despite being blood relations, the Parkers find themselves on opposite ends of a soccer debate that has increasingly gripped this industrial town in Northwest England: are you a Red or a Blue?” (WSJ)

Football Manager 2010 Just Got a Lot More Interesting

October 29, 2009

“Say you’re on the fence. You’re sanding away the rough part of the day in the games store, and you’re thinking, ‘Gosh, I’d really like to buy Football Manager 2010, but I need some additional motivation beyond the fact that it is part of the greatest video game series ever created.’ Here. Here is your motivation.” (Run of Play)

Taxi for Laszlo?

October 29, 2009

“As the saga at Rangers continues towards a potentially horrid (or amusing, depending on your allegiances) conclusion, Walter Smith is not the only one concerned at the lack of progress. Over in Edinburgh things are not going according to plan for the Maroon half of the city, as Hearts gaffer Csaba Lazslo says he’ll consider his options unless transfer funds are made available to help his struggling strikers.” (Inside Left)

Scandals & murder taint Mbombela stadium

October 29, 2009

The Story of Aristaeus, Niccolò dell’Abate
“Mbombela is one of the most atmospheric new stadiums built for next year’s World Cup, nestled among the beautiful hills of northeast South Africa and supported by orange pylons that resemble giraffes. But the almost 1.3 billion rand ($172 million) stadium has been tarnished by a string of scandals, including the murder, apparently by professional hitmen, of a municipal official who blew the whistle on alleged corruption and malpractice.” (FourFourTwo)

Serious soccer back in South Africa

October 29, 2009

“With less than eight months until the 2010 World Cup, the South African national team has made a change. Joel Santana was removed as coach and replaced by fellow Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira, who had resigned some 18 months earlier. It could be a forward step. It might be a backward one. It’s certainly proving controversial. Many in South Africa are happy to see Santana go, but unhappy at the return of Parreira. They have not been impressed by the results under the Brazilian pair, and think that the time has come to put a local man in the top job. (SI – Tim Vickery)

Manzano is Mallorca’s miracle worker

October 29, 2009

“While other clubs are fighting for silverware, worrying over bad results or wondering if they could do better, there’s one team that is proving to be a revelation in the Spanish Primera División. Real Mallorca are reborn from the ashes and, with hardly any new faces, are comfortably in the top half of the table.” (ESPN)

10 Greatest Wins in United States Soccer History

October 28, 2009

USA vs. Portugal (2002)
“Throughout the years, the United States National team have had many great games. From the World Cup to cup finals, the United States have been able to become a strong international team within the last 20 years, and the sport continues to grow in America.” (Bleacher Report)

Fan Diary # 13: 2-0 Over United

October 28, 2009

“My normal pre-match bravado wasn’t at full strength after the four-game losing streak (Liverpool’s worst run since the Spring of 1987) and going into the fixture against Manchester United Sunday I was a sleepless bag of frenetic nerves. We tend to play our best against the strongest opposition (I thought our outing against Chelsea was one of our best performances of the season except for – of course – the two moments that led to their two goals) and Fernando Torres was on the starting team sheet. These thoughts came as desperately needed consolation as did the return of Glen Johnson. But still: this was United. Even if they were on a forty match losing streak and we’d just broken Arsenal’s unbeaten record, I’d still lose sleep the night before fretting over the outcome of this match.” (EPL Talk)

Déjà vu strikes Ramos’ Russian reign

October 28, 2009

“October 26 is a date that may send a shiver down Juande Ramos’ spine. Exactly a year to the day since his unceremonious sacking from Tottenham, the Spanish boss was relieved of his duties at CSKA Moscow, after just 47 days, although the reasons for his exit are slightly more complex than the poor run of results that saw his tenure at White Hart Lane come to an end.” (ESPN)

A Brief History of Football Kit Design in England and Scotland

October 28, 2009

“The first rules of football were laid down by English public schools to govern inter-house competition and fell broadly into two groups; the handling game developed at Rugby School and the dribbling game that emerged from Eton, although other schools such as Harrow, Winchester, Uppingham, Shrewsbury, Marlborough and Charterhouse all had their own versions. When the young men from these schools went up to university they formed football clubs but games descended into chaos as there was no consensus on the rules. The first attempt to draw up a uniform set of rules took place at Cambridge University in 1848.” (Historical Kits)

Valero and Vieri: the future and the past

October 28, 2009

“West Brom fans, and indeed many others, may be a bit surprised about what they are about to read next, but on Saturday night I think I might have seen the next great European midfielder. His name is Borja Valero and he plays for Real Mallorca. Yes, you did read that right. The very same Borja Valero who was the Baggies’ record signing for £4.7 million from Mallorca at the start of last season before enduring a miserable dysfunctional season which ended with West Brom being relegated.” (BBC)

Football Cup Primer: The CONCACAF Champions League

October 28, 2009

“We’re usually busy during Champions League weeks writing about, well…the Champions League. Like most soccer fans, the purveyors of this establishment watch UEFA’s iteration of this tournament pretty intently. While doing this, however, we’re mostly ignoring CONCACAF’s version; being an off week (and because I already did one of these on the Carling Cup, which resumes today), I figured we’d spend a little time getting our learn on. Your subject: the CONCACAF Champions League.” (Avoiding the Drop)

Doctor Battles to End Warfare on the Field

October 27, 2009

 Iraq, Sept. 18, 2008
” ‘If you come to Bruges,’ said the Belgian doctor, ‘I have something to show you that will make your spine run cold.’ In Bruges, he handed over a video that he, the senior medical officer for a game played by 260 million people around the world, has put together. It is a catalogue of fouls of such ferocity, such crude intent to harm, that do indeed numb the senses. Dr. Michel d’Hooghe said nothing. He watched his visitor as the video ran. A foul in the Newell’s Old Boys versus Rosario Central derby in Argentina, in which the boot was raised deliberately into the head of an opponent at fearsome speed. A foul by a Glasgow Celtic player who landed one boot on the neck of a fallen opponent, and at the same time the other boot on his victim’s ankle.” (NYT)

Stadium Spotlight: Grand Stade, Olympique Lyonnais

October 27, 2009

“For almost 60 years, Lyon have been playing in the Stade de Gerland, a venerable old stadium built in 1914 and a World Cup finals venue in 1998. But their recent run of success of eight consecutive championships from 2002 to 2008 has Lyon planning a rich new future at the Grand Stade in eastern Lyon.” (Pitch Invasion)

Liverpool beats Manchester United 2-0 – Recap and Video Highlights – Sunday, October 25, 2009

October 27, 2009

“The biggest match of the weekend in the English Premier League was on Sunday with Liverpool hosting Manchester United. Liverpool has been struggling of late and needs a win at home against Manchester United. So, who won the match and what happened? Here’s a recap of the match along with video highlights.” (The 90th Minute)

Beckham’s on his way to Milan… and the World Cup

October 27, 2009

“So AC Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani has assured the world that the loan deal to take David Beckham back to the red half of the San Siro in January is ‘100% done’ and ‘The only thing missing is the signatures’ which simultaneously confirms that he’s lying (let’s face it, unless it’s signed and sealed, it isn’t 100% done) and that David Beckham will almost certainly be part of England’s World Cup squad in South Africa next year.” (They Think Its All Over)

Liverpool Apply A United Shaped Sticking Plaster

October 27, 2009

“Crisis over at Anfield, then. Blimey, even David Ngog scored. Maybe it is because of such miracles that all the sensible advice from pundits about how “just one win” wouldn’t alter Liverpool’s dire on and off-field straits has gone through the defenestration process. Liverpool were almost everything against United that they weren’t against either Sunderland or Olympique Lyonnais. They were committed, organised and, most significantly of all, with Fernando Torres up front. Manchester United, however, were terrible.” (twohundredpercent)

Diego Maradona must learn to channel his emotions

October 27, 2009

“When Diego Maradona was appointed national coach, many in Argentina felt his mere presence on the bench would be enough to drive the players to new heights. All went well until his fourth match in charge, when a 6-1 defeat in Bolivia proved that motivational slogans were no substitute for effective planning for playing at altitude.” (WorldSoccer)

Managers who stoically shrug in the face of fate

October 27, 2009

“Post-match interviews with players are mostly dull because reporters only want to talk to the goalscorers, during which we learn that the player concerned is indeed quite happy to have successfully done his job. Managers, though, are interviewed as a matter of course, regardless of the game’s outcome. Again, not so interesting when the manager’s side has won but much more compelling after a defeat or a lost lead. A glance at this past weekend’s quotations presents an instructive picture of the several different ways of talking away failure.” (WSC)

Crisis in the capital

October 26, 2009

Francesco Guardi, Canal Grande e Ponte di Rialto
“A mixed week for Spanish fortunes, with the country’s leading European lights (at least in statistical terms), both slipping up in the Champions League, although Sevilla continued to make it look like child’s play with a 3-1 win at Stuttgart. Champions League? They’re ‘aving a laugh. Chelsea had one as well, predictably stuffing Atlético Madrid 4-0 and condemning their manager, Abel Resino, to the social security queue.” (ESPN)

Can European managers succeed in South America?

October 26, 2009

“‘Would any South American nation,’ asks reader Craig Thompson, ‘consider appointing a European coach (specifically Italian), and would the coach succeed with a South American team?’ There are a few precedents here. Jack Greenwell from England took Peru to victory in the 1939 Copa America. More recently, Xavier Azkargorta from Spain qualified Bolivia for the 1994 World Cup. And at around the same time Dussan Draskovic from Montenegro played an important part in the early stages of Ecuador’s rise.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)

Video: Ibrahimovic Free Kick Goal Against Zaragoza

October 26, 2009

“Due to popular demand, SFS posts the ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC free kick goal from yesterdays FC Bareclona 6-1 win over Real Zaragoza. The Swede has already 7 goals in the Spanish Liga.” (Spanish Football Sports)

Xavi: All is well at Barca
“Barcelona midfielder Xavi hopes his side’s 6-1 demolition of Real Zaragoza is more than enough proof that all is well at the European champions.” (ESPN)

Keita hat-trick as Barca hit Zaragoza for six
“Seydou Keita hit a hat-trick and Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted twice to lead Barcelona to a 6-1 thrashing of Real Zaragoza and send the La Liga champions three points clear of Real Madrid on Sunday.” (ESPN)

Chile: 2009 Primera División, with attendances.

October 26, 2009

“The Primera Divisón de Chile has it’s roots in the Liga Profesional de Football de Santiago, which was formed in May, 1933. Of the 8 founding clubs of the league, 3 are currently in the 2009 Primera División de Chile: Audax Italiano, Colo Colo, and Union Española.” (bill sports maps)

Supporter Ownership in Italy

October 26, 2009

Royalty Free
Fiorentina – Juventus
“In recent years the model of fan ownership exercised through supporters’ trusts has been increasingly high-profile in British football, not least thanks to the sterling work of the national body Supporters Direct (SD). Meanwhile, very different yet nonetheless successful models of fan ownership exist across the continent, as seen throughout the Bundesliga or alternatively with the ‘socio’ model as at Real Madrid or Barcelona. Though the scale varies along with the specifics of the structure, all of these systems share the basic features of greater fan participation in the running of the club. But until recently few projects of this kind have been found in Italy. Now at last that might be beginning to change.” (Pitch Invasion)

Benitez’s brinkmanship strikes again

October 26, 2009

“Rafael Benitez’s twin boyhood passions were football and a Spanish military board game called “Stratego” – both appealing to his calculating mind and analytical approach. So when faced with a simple calculation on the coach journey to Anfield to face Manchester United, Benitez weighed up the odds and took a gamble that could shape Liverpool’s season. Liverpool’s figures of influence, from Kenny Dalglish and managing director Christian Purslow to co-owner George Gillett, had formed an orderly queue to insist the club’s worst run in 22 years had not shaken belief in Benitez.” (BBC)

Strachan sees title there for the taking

October 26, 2009

“Middlesbrough’s vastly improved performance in their unfortunate 2-2 draw with Preston yesterday, capped by a brilliant Adam Johnson goal, will provide encouragement for the man openly touted to be unveiled as their new manager tomorrow, Gordon Strachan. For a man who will ever be associated with the red shirt of Manchester United, Strachan’s playing career was perhaps most significant at its bookends. In the early eighties he was a tireless presence in a never to be forgotten Aberdeen side, winning the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1983 after a win over Real Madrid in Gothenburg; at the dawn of the nineties, he was the pivotal figure as Leeds ended an eight year sojourn in the second division in 1990 and followed it up with a full English league title two years later.” (thetwounfortunates)

Reds respond in style. Liverpool 2 – 0 Manchester United

October 25, 2009

“Fernando Torres and substitute David Ngog left Manchester United reeling as Liverpool brilliantly halted their four-game losing streak. Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez had said prior to the game that one win would change everything, and what a result his team delivered to ease the pressure on the Spaniard. The champions were eventually beaten after a stunning performance of defiance that followed days of the worst crisis Liverpool have suffered in decades.” (ESPN)

Liverpool show signs of life with victory over Manchester United
“Liverpool’s season may not yet be over after all. After thousands of supporters had protested against the club’s owners, George Gillett Jr and Tom Hicks, prior to kick-off, the team produced a display that Manchester United simply could not cope with. Technically, both sides were lacking but that is always the case in one of the most fiery derbies in the sporting calendar. But United had no answer to Liverpool’s spirit as Fernando Torres and David Ngog scored the goals to reignite their faltering Premier League campaign.” (TimesOnline)

Liverpool halt slump as second-half goals sink Manchester United
“An occasion that had begun with angry Liverpool fans staging a protest march against their clubs owners ended with a precious victory for Liverpool, as Fernando Torres and David Ngog scored the second-half goals that brought an end to a run of four consecutive defeats.” (Guardian)

Liverpool end losing streak with win over United
“Fernando Torres and substitute David Ngog left Manchester United reeling as Liverpool brilliantly halted their four-game losing streak. Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez had said prior to the game that one win would change everything, and what a result his team delivered to ease the pressure on the Spaniard. The champions were eventually beaten after a stunning performance of defiance that followed days of the worst crisis Liverpool have suffered in decades.” (Independent)

The Last Word: The good Kop will tell Benitez when time is up
“It’s not much of a debate when one side is making all the arguments and the other is simply shaking their head and saying, over and over, ‘In Rafa We Trust’. But that is Liverpool Football Club, for you. And the game should not want it any other way.” (Independent)

Liverpool 2 Manchester United 0: match report
“Fernando Torres sparked the end of Liverpool’s four-game losing streak in a stormy Anfield clash that saw Nemanja Vidic and Javier Mascherano sent off. Second-half goals from Torres and an injury-time David Ngog strike moved Liverpool to within four points of champions Manchester United.” (Telegraph)

(Guardian – The best images from Liverpool versus Manchester United at Anfield)

Egypt against Algeria revives some bitter memories

October 25, 2009

“It’s not often that you see a grown man cry; rarer still to watch a grown man cry at a press conference in front of a baying phalanx of African football journalists. But for Rabah Saadane the pressure just got too much. Algeria’s national coach, returning to the side he led to the 1986 finals, was talking to the assembled media before June’s World Cup qualifier at home to bitter arch-rivals Egypt. After years of dealing with a demanding public, most people expected him to be inoculated from the sharp end of expectation. But no, the 63-year-old instead broke down in tears. What was stranger was the reaction of the press. No one in the room thought it particularly strange. This was Egypt versus Algeria, after all.” (World Soccer), (World Soccer – Part Two, James Montague)

Points not performances for Manchester United

October 25, 2009

“Gary Neville claimed this week that he would rather Manchester United lose their games against Liverpool and reclaim the championship than win the matches and concede the title. Most fans would agree, but when the clock strikes two this afternoon (or three if you haven’t put them back) it will not feel like that at Anfield.” (WSC)

Heeds In The Clouds?

October 24, 2009

“We are occasionally reminded that, although the amount of money in football has increased dramatically over the last two decades or so, football isn’t quite the “big” business that we might occasionally believe it to be. Real Madrid’s annual turnover is reported to be over £300m, which sounds like a lot until you start comparing it with other businesses. Edinburgh-based Morrison Construction, for example, have an annual turnover of £500m. Tesco, a company which one might say matches the biggest football clubs in the world in ubiquity, turns over £1bn per week.” (twohundredpercent)

Home cooking and triangles for Barca’s victorious youth

October 24, 2009

“You simply walk in off the street. Football’s best youth academy is housed in an old brick farmhouse in downtown Barcelona. Inside you are given a coffee and a friendly welcome at the bar. The Masía – FC Barcelona’s academy, named for the Catalan word for farmhouse – recalls AC Milan’s legendary training ground, Milanello. Both places feel like neighbourhood canteens, simple clubhouses where men gather for fellowship and coffee. Yet the Masía is unique. It has produced half the world’s best team, Barcelona, which plays next door in the Nou Camp stadium. Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Carles Puyol come from this farmhouse. So do Liverpool’s Pep Reina, Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas and Everton’s Mikel Arteta. Together they would be a competitive World XI. Luckily, three of the academy’s staff – Albert Capellas, Ruben Bonastre and chief scout Pep Boade – are happy to gather around a little table and divulge the Masía’s secrets.” (FT – Simon Kuper)

Stuttering Barca target response

October 24, 2009

“Reigning European and Spanish champions Barcelona will aim to put their first dip in form of the season behind them when they host Real Zaragoza in La Liga on Sunday. After losing their perfect league record with a 0-0 draw at Valencia, the Catalan side suffered a shock 2-1 Champions League home defeat by relatively unknown Russians Rubin Kazan in mid-week.” (TimesLive)

The Unofficial World Football Championships

October 24, 2009

“Do you know who the unofficial world football champions are? It’s not Italy, they’re the official world champions by virtue of being World Cup holders. The unofficial world champions are in fact the Netherlands. Who says? The Unofficial Football World Championships people says, that’s who.” (World Cup Blog)

The Top 10 Pele’s in Football

October 24, 2009

“So you thought Pele was good eh ? Well meet the other ones who,, aren’t quite as good., as we list the top 10 footballing Pele’s…. ” (midfielddynamo)

23 For 2010: Choosing the England Squad for South Africa pt. 1 – Keepers & Defenders

October 23, 2009

“An impressive qualifying campaign such as England’s throws up some interesting questions for those looking forward to next year’s global spectacle. The discussion about us being able to win it is not one I would wish to undertake single handed or sober.” (Just Football), (Just Football – 23 For 2010: Choosing the England World Cup Squad pt.2 – Midfielders & Strikers)

Pato champions Milan’s cause

October 23, 2009

“Alexandre Pato’s two goals in AC Milan’s stunning Champions League victory over Real Madrid on Wednesday night may just have turned the Rossoneri’s uncomfortable start to the season on its head. Ahead of their Serie A clash in to Chievo on Sunday evening, ESPN Soccernet’s Nick Bidwell caught up with the Brazilian international.” (ESPN)

My Belated Tirade on Statistics…

October 23, 2009

“So, I begin with a disclaimer. I love and hate statistics. As a graduate of a graduate school, I realize that statistics can cleverly mask value judgments and assumptions. If I feel like cleverly hiding my deontological proclivities, I reach for the graphing calculator. Brian Phillips at the runofplay has a philosophical aversion to such statistics, but for me, they simply cause a spell of indigestion. My defense of soccer focuses on the qualitative aspect of the sport. While some may focus on the “beautiful game” as a collective interaction between 11 men on each side, I will highlight individual moments and glimpses of brilliance which, for me, transcend a number or stat count.” (futfanatico)

Hitler, Soccer and Alfred Wainwright

October 23, 2009

“At the age of 31, Alfred Wainwright, chronicler of the fells, did what you might expect and took a walking holiday. Beginning at Settle, he went north via Appleby and Hexham, following Hadrian’s wall for a spell before returning to Settle by way of Ronaldkirk and Askrigg.” (James Hamilton)

Routledge Classic

October 23, 2009

“With those at the top of the table experiencing an autumnal crisis at the moment and Middlesbrough taking dramatic steps to offset this earlier today, it was my chance to assess the progress of one of the pretenders last night. Queen’s Park Rangers’ start to the season had been sluggish, with too many stalemates peppering their progress, but a notable win at Cardiff and hefty hammerings of Barnsley and Preston have followed – and the Super Hoops are now looking dangerous.” (thetwounfortunates)

The Gate Closes – Southgate Sacked!
“After a bad night’s sleep, I was stunned to finally wake up, switch on the computer to trawl the usual websites and come across early stories about Gareth being sacked by Sir Steve. This was my first exposure to the news, a sympathetic and regretful article by Rob Nichols – who was probably as close to the manager as any supporter was likely to get – that compared his departure with that of Lennie Lawrence.” (Smog-Blog)

Championship Chow: Abu Zaad
“An inexpensive rundown of dish promised much, and so it proved. Tempted as we were by a full range of hot and cold starters (another visit might see me take the meze route), my dining companion and I opted for Farrouj Abu Zaad, a dish of lightly spiced baby chicken and the Kastaleta, dainty lamb cutlets.” (thetwounfortunates)

Midterm grades in Champs League

October 23, 2009

“We’re halfway through the Champions League group stage, which means it’s midterm report-card time for Europe’s elite. In this evaluation, though, you don’t get a straight grade — you’re on a curve based on how you’ve performed relative to expectations.” (SI)

Tickets and Safety May Be Scarce in South Africa

October 23, 2009

“According to 2010 World Cup chief executive Dr. Danny Jordaan, stadium construction is on track, 1,000 more new buses and 200 additional aircraft will ferry visitors around the country and there will be plenty hotels for fans traveling to South Africa 2010 World Cup.” (NYT)

Rafael Benítez: 10 mistakes that have cost Liverpool

October 22, 2009

Giulio Romano, 1526-1534
“This summer’s transfer strategy. Rafael Benítez has purposely avoided conflict with Liverpool’s owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks, this season but there are signs diplomacy over their budget restrictions is beginning to wane as pressure mounts. “We signed three players and we wanted four,” he said before Lyon. The fourth, it is safe to assume, was a forward. Not signing quality cover for Fernando Torres, and being so short of strikers that David Ngog started the critical game against the French and Andriy Voronin was reluctantly brought back from loan at Hertha Berlin, is proving catastrophic.” (Guardian)

Liverpool could be counting the cost of European failure for years to come
“It is never a happy prospect to be staring at a possible Champions League exit and bonfire of title hopes even before 5 November but for Liverpool this autumn’s struggle for form is particularly ill-timed. Pride, history and the nagging sense of unfulfilled promise soak Anfield with highly-strung, permanent expectation, but at a time like this, to put it bluntly, they cannot afford to fail.” (Guardian – David Conn)

James Lawton: Rafa show is ready for the final curtain
“If there was any mystery to the question now being asked in open panic on Merseyside, the situation might not seem quite so hopeless. Unfortunately there isn’t. We know well enough, and have done so for some time, the answer to ‘What’s it all about, Rafa?’ It is almost entirely about Rafa, and no team has prospered long term under such egocentric control.” (Independent)

Red for danger: Liverpool empire could be one defeat from crumbling
“Four consecutive losses have left Liverpool seemingly at the risk of implosion. After defeat by Lyons in the Champions League on Tuesday, their next opponents are Manchester United and Rafael Benítez’s side will take to the pitch at Anfield on Sunday in the knowledge that another loss would all but end their Barclays Premier League title hopes with seven months of the campaign remaining.” (TimesOnline)

Liverpool v Manchester United: top 10 video moments
“Watch YouTube clips of classic matches between Liverpool and Manchester United as English football’s fiercest rivalry is renewed in the Premier League at Anfield on Sunday.” (Telegraph)

The Five Best Central Midfielders In World Football

October 22, 2009

“Situated in the heart of every great team is always a truly special central midfielder who is capable of taking matches by the scruff of their neck and dominating them. Some midfielders are specialists in the holding role, others have an uncanny knack of scoring goals but every so often a player comes along that can excel in all areas. A prime example of this particular species has to be this week’s ArsenalFCBlog’s interviewee Cesc Fabregas.” (SoccerLens)

Europe’s Big Names Falter on Surreal Night

October 22, 2009

“When Michel Platini promised to open up European soccer so that clubs from the east might enjoy the spoils of the Champions League, even he could not have envisaged a night like this. Hand on heart, who imagined that Rubin Kazan, Russia’s champion from Tatarstan, would travel to Barcelona on Tuesday and defeat the team acknowledged as the best on earth?” (NYT)

UEFA Champions League Group Standings after Matchday 3 – Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October 22, 2009

“The UEFA Champions League has complete three rounds of group stage matches or its half-way point. A few teams are very close to clinching a spot to the knockout stage while some clubs have a lot of work to do. Manchester United and Chelsea are both 3-0-0 and a win away from clinching their spots to the next round. Here are the updated UEFA Champions League Group Standings after matchday 3 and through Wednesday, October 21, 2009.” (The 90th Minute)

Explaining Egyptian underachievement

October 22, 2009

“Since losing to a Mark Wright header at Italia 90, Egypt have amassed a total of three African Cup of Nations (ACN) victories as well as seven African Champions Leagues shared between their two top clubs. They inflicted a 4-1 drubbing on Ivory Coast’s greatest ever side just under two years ago, disposed of Italy this year and put three past Brazil only to lose to a last-minute penalty. Yet this is also a country that has qualified for the World Cup just twice, with one being in 1934 where qualification consisted of one game and being willing to travel outside your own country.” (WSC)

The forgotten story of … East Germany’s DDR-Oberliga

October 22, 2009

“Here’s Timothy Garton Ash writing in the New York Review of Books: ‘The year 1989 was one of the best in European history. Indeed, I am hard pushed to think of a better one. It was also a year in which the world looked to Europe – specifically to Central Europe, and, at the pivotal moment, to Berlin. World history – using the term in a quasi-Hegelian sense – was made in the heart of the old continent, just down the road from Hegel’s old university, now called the Humboldt University. Twenty years later, I am tempted to speculate (while continuing to work with other Europeans in an endeavour to prove this hunch wrong) that this may also have been the last occasion – at least for a very long time – when world history was made in Europe. (Guardian)

Delgado strike condemns Liverpool

October 21, 2009

“Liverpool conceded an injury-time goal which puts their Champions League future in grave doubt. An injury-ravaged home side had produced a display of spirit and effort which did not deserve to see them finish as losers. But they have now lost four games in succession for the first time since 1987 as their season plunges into despair.” (ESPN)

Liverpool staring at European exit after latest injury blow for Steven Gerrard
“The Champions League has been a scene of spectacle for Liverpool on many occasions, but now they must achieve the highly improbable if they are simply to survive the group stage. They were defeated here as Lyon capped a comeback with the winner in the 90th minute, as César Delgado tuned in a perfect low cross from Sidney Govou.” (Guardian)

Delgado turns up heat as Benitez fights for survival
“From his seat in the Anfield directors’ box last night Gerard Houllier will have recognised the problems that are closing in on Rafael Benitez: a threadbare squad, injuries to key players, a terrible run of results and the daunting prospect of facing Manchester United on Sunday.” (Independent)

Liverpool 1 Lyon 2: match report
“Liverpool are running on empty, running out of players, energy and ideas. It is too soon to claim that Rafa Benítez is running out of time but this was a horror show, a hammer blow to their European ambitions and a brutal reminder of how poor Liverpool are without Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres. No Gerrard, no Torres, no leadership, no cutting edge, no chance.” (Telegraph)

Liverpool left reeling by Lyons knockout blow
“Sailing close to the wind has been a feature of Liverpool’s European adventures under the stewardship of Rafael Benítez. A defeat at home to Lyons last night meant they were all but blown off course altogether. As in 2007, only a trio of victories from their final three group games will give the Merseyside club a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages of this season’s Champions League, and having lost their past four matches — Liverpool’s worst run in 22 years — hopes will not be high that an upturn in fortunes is just around the corner.” (TimesOnline)

A Week Is A Long Time In Serie A: Oct 21st 09

October 21, 2009

“A week after the international break in which an ageing Italian national team qualified for the 2010 World Cup, Serie A has rendered some early verdicts. Inter traveled to Genova and crushed Genoa 5-0 (their best away win since the 1970s), Juventus were held to a 1-1 draw against Fiorentina in Turin, Sampdoria dropped points courtesy of refereeing mistakes in their 1-1 draw against Lazio, and Milan finally eked out a 2-1 win at home against Roma. Inter are now alone at the top of the table, leading Sampdoria by 2 points, Juventus and Fiorentina by 4 (and Milan by 7).” (First Touch Online)

Scotland: 2008-09 attendance map (all clubs drawing over 1,000 per game- 24 clubs).

October 21, 2009

“This is the 113th season of professional football in Scotland. Reigning champions are Rangers. This map shows all football clubs in Scotland that drew over 1,000 per game last season (2008-09 domestic leagues).” (billsportsmaps)

The Russian Banana Peel

October 21, 2009

Spain Soccer La Liga
“That was the general consensus when another ho-hum Champions League Group draw show came to an end and Rubin Kazan had wound up with Inter, Barcelona and Dynamo Kiev. A banana peel in a group of high-flyers, more or less. One that the well-oiled high powered Barcelona and Inter were planning to avoid slipping on, with Dynamo following suit.” (The Offside)

Rubin pull off massive shock at Nou Camp
“Gokdeniz Karadeniz stuck a second-half winner as Rubin Kazan claimed a shock Champions League victory over reigning European champions Barcelona at the Nou Camp. Karadeniz netted with 17 minutes to go to earn the Russian champions their first win in Group F and inflict a first competitive defeat over Barcelona since May. It was also the first European defeat Pep Guardiola’s men had suffered since losing at home to Shakhtar Donetsk last December having already qualified for the last 16.” (ESPN)