Ibrahimovic impact shows Barca his worth

November 30, 2009

“Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s superb second-half volley was enough to give Barcelona victory over fierce rivals Real Madrid in the Primera Division’s first ‘El Clasico’ of the season at the Nou Camp and move the Catalans back to the top of the table. Ibrahimovic replaced Thierry Henry early in the second half and fired Barca in front less than five minutes later as he volleyed home Dani Alves’ cross.” (ESPN)

Cristiano Ronaldo fluffs lines as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scripts perfect ending
“This time, Iker Casillas wasn’t wearing his Iker Casillas face, the one that says ‘you call that a defence?!’ This time, his defence was a defence. He was, though, wearing the face of an idiot. Up the tunnel and through the plywood door, chapel to the left, dressing room to the right, Dani Alves was wearing the face of a grinning simpleton, all glazed expression and cheeky smiles. Xabi Alonso was wearing the face of the disappointed, doe-eyed and sad, Pepe was wearing the face of Stanley Ipkiss, and Cristiano Ronaldo was wearing the shiny but not particularly happy face of someone who applies too much lotion. It was hard to see what kind of face Carles Puyol was wearing but he was probably smiling behind all that hair.” (Guardian)

FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid Highlights on 29/11/09
(All About FC Barcelona)

Video Of The Week: Match Of The 70s – 1971/72

November 30, 2009

“This week’s Video Of The Week is the second in the series of “Match Of The Seventies” videos, as hosted by Dennis Waterman. The 1971/72 football season was significant for several different reasons. Brian Clough’s Derby County pipped Leeds United to the Football League championship, evening matches were banned by the government as the energy crisis kicked in and Hereford United knocked Newcastle United out of the FA Cup thanks to Ronnie Radford’s right foot suddenly taking on the properties of a traction engine.” (twohundredpercent)

Book Review: Watford FC on This Day

November 30, 2009

“Memories are often conjured up by sensations. As Proust’s nameless hero bites into the madeleine, the physical rush of the tea soaked cake brings childhood reminiscences flooding back. Hence for Watford fans, a wander down a Mediterranean sidewalk in blazing sunshine might remind them of the time they took a cheeky peek at a day old English newspaper in a Greek newsagent’s to discover that Tony Coton had joined Man City for a cool million pounds in 1990; a chocolate egg devoured might remind them of an Easter Monday thumping of hated rivals Luton in 1983, with those twin heroes Barnes and Blissett instrumental; a Boxing Day hangover might evoke a subsequent win over the Hatters three years later, with Kevin Richardson and Gary Porter on the scoresheet.” (thetwounfortunates)

Inter look set for yet another Scudetto success

November 30, 2009

“On the morning after Internazionale had beaten Livorno 2-0 on the first weekend of November, there were those who speculated that, were the scudetto a boxing match, the referee would simply stop the fight and declare Inter the winners, fully six months ahead of time.” (WorldSoccer)

Disorganisation at the Scottish Football Association

November 30, 2009

“You don’t need a particularly long memory to remember Scottish football’s (last) Darkest Hour. In an attempt to appear contemporary and relevant and just like their more illustrious English counterparts, the SFA appointed Bertie Vogts to take charge of the nation’s football hopes between 2002 and 2004, and then crush them. Does the end of George Burley’s reign hold a candle to that shambles? It is certainly a dark time, with the general attitude of most being that things are only bound to get better under a new manager, be it Calderwood, Collins or Levein, because they really can’t get any worse.” (WSC)

Reds complete smash and grab raid

November 29, 2009

Ludolf Backhuysen – The Warship Hollandia in Full Sail
“Liverpool produced a smash and grab Merseyside derby victory to claim fifth place in the Premier League on a day of raw tension at Goodison Park. But they will have sighed with relief after being pounded for almost all of this very local showdown, but somehow emerged with the points. An own goal from Joseph Yobo, deflecting a Javier Mascherano effort past Tim Howard saw Liverpool ahead at the break despite being almost permanently on the back foot as Everton poured forward.” (ESPN)

Everton 0 – 2 Liverpool
“Liverpool took the honours in the Merseyside derby as Javier Mascherano’s deflected first-half shot and Dirk Kuyt’s late strike gave them victory at Everton. The home side dominated for long periods but paid the price for failing to turn possession into goals as Liverpool took full advantage of their rare moments of attacking threat.” (BBC)

Fortune favours laboured Liverpool as Everton lament lack of finishing touch
“It is premature to suggest Liverpool have emerged from their trough, and some might label that a ludicrous assertion on this performance, but the breaks are no longer going against Rafael Benítez. Outplayed for much of the 212th Merseyside derby, they nevertheless emerged with a monumental triumph at Goodison Park. Campaigns have turned on much less.” (Guardian)

Liverpool take smash and grab derby victory
“Liverpool produced a smash and grab Merseyside derby victory to claim fifth place in the Barclays Premier League on a day of raw tension at Goodison Park. But they will have sighed with relief after being pounded for almost all of this very local showdown, but somehow emerged with the points.” (Independent)

Everton 0 Liverpool 2: match report
“Sunderland’s beach ball, Lyon’s offside, Cameron Jerome’s thunderbolt. If Liverpool have had their share of bad luck as their season has disintegrated, they more than made up for it with a priceless derby win against Everton despite being comprehensively outplayed.” (Telegraph)

Dirk Kuyt secures Liverpool victory in Merseyside derby
“Liverpool bounced back from their premature Champions League exit to beat neighbours Everton 2-0 on Sunday, a result which relieved some of the pressure that has been building on manager Rafa Benitez. Javier Mascherano’s long range 12th minute effort, which took a heavy deflection off defender Joseph Yobo, set Liverpool on their way before Dirk Kuyt sealed victory eleven minutes from time.” (TimesOnline)

Liverpool Everton – Recap and Video Highlights – Sunday, November 29, 2009
“One of the top rivalries in the English Premier League resumed as Everton hosted Liverpool. The two clubs are located in Liverpool and have played some great derby matches in recent years. Here’s a recap of the match from Sunday, November 29, 2009 along with video highlights.” (The 90th Minute)

The World Cup is no economic boon for South Africa

November 28, 2009

“It remains the most stirring South African sporting moment. The country’s Springbok rugby team had just won the World Cup of 1995, uniting South Africans of all colours. Nelson Mandela walked on to the pitch wearing a Springbok jersey, shook hands with South Africa’s captain Francois Pienaar and said, ‘Francois, thank you very much for what you have done for our country.’ Pienaar famously replied: ‘No, Mr President, thank you for what you have done for our country.'” (FT – Simon Kuper)

Football Weekly Extra: The last word on Liverpool’s Champions League exit

November 28, 2009

“These include: Liverpool crashing out, Chelsea marching on, Juventus looking shakey and joy for those Viola of Florence. Sid Lowe joins the fun from Madrid with news of Inter’s dismal performance in Barcelona, plus a preview of the weekend’s El Clásico between Barça and Madrid.” (Guardian – James Richardson)

The Team of the Decade – Football

November 28, 2009

Gianluigi Buffon
“A few weeks back I said my player of the decade as Zinedine Zidane and earlier today I posted my cricket team of the decade. So, now, as Mr. Eugenides states in the comments to the cricket team, a footballing team of the decade will be much harder to put together. He is, as often is the case, correct. In every position I had an exceedingly difficult choice. Do I play 4-4-2? Do I play 4-1-4-1? Do I play 4-5-1? Do I play a False 9? Do I play a Makelele and if so, do I play Makelele? Choices, choices and all of them enviable ones.” (Left Back in the Changing Room)

Early Football Violence: Glossop v Bolton Wanderers 1908

November 28, 2009

“That’s your man John Cameron again. If he’s being ghost-written, he keeps his intercessor busy in this period – in addition to this weekly column, there are his chapters in Association Football and the Men Who Made It and his own book Association Football and How to Play It . In fact, Glossop and Bolton were striving to get out of Division II: the Third Division (North) didn’t exist until 1919.” (James Hamilton)

Messi wait for Barca

November 28, 2009

“Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola is still sweating on the fitness of Lionel Messi ahead of Sunday night’s El Clasico with Real Madrid, but believes his side can win with or without the Argentina winger. Messi picked up a thigh injury in last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao and was missing as Barca beat Inter Milan 2-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday night.” (ESPN)

The dawn of El Derbi
“The Saturday before a ‘clasico’ in Barcelona is like Christmas Eve. And it’s not just the kids who are getting overly excited. The first meeting of the season between Barca and their arch-rivals Real Madrid takes place at the magnificently imposing Camp Nou on Sunday and the city has been almost entirely consumed by the affair for days.” (BBC)

Troubled players deserve a Sporting Chance

November 28, 2009

“In the wake of the tragic suicide of Robert Enke, the world has begun to ask questions about the levels of psychological support available to players who have to deal with the highly pressurised environment of professional football. In England, the Sporting Chance Clinic has been asking those questions and providing that support for the eight years since its inception.” (ESPN)

English Premier League, Spanish Primera División, Scottish Premier League

November 28, 2009

ESPN – Sat, November 28, Sun, November 29
ESPN – Sat, November 28, Sun, November 29
ESPN – Sat, November 28

The FA vs The Premier League Reaches Critical Mass

November 27, 2009

Jean Cousin the Elder, Saint Mammes and Duke Alexander
“Lord Triesman could be forgiven for wondering why he is bothering. England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup, a bid which was widely reported as being theirs to lose, stands at the point of collapse after what is starting to look like a systematic attack on the credibility of Triesman and the Football Association. It is starting to feel as if the battle lines are being drawn for some sort of Battle Royale for ultimate control of the English game, and that the emotive subject of hosting the World Cup finals is being used as the opening gambit in the battle.” (twohundredpercent)

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard calls for unity ahead of Everton derby clash

November 27, 2009

“Liverpool were dumped out of the Champions League group stages on Tuesday night, despite a 1-0 win over Debrecen in Budapest, and have lost five Premier League fixtures in the opening 13 games this season. It is two more defeats than they suffered in the whole of the 2008/09 campaign. But despite the poor start to the season, Gerrard, who has recovered from a groin problem and will lead his seventh-placed side into the 212th Merseyside derby against Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday, maintains everyone is still working in unison towards attaining Champions League football next term.” (Telegraph)

In Diplomatic Crisis, Ireland Presses a Demand on France: World Cup Rematch!

November 27, 2009

“As the European Union gathered in Brussels to name its first permanent president Thursday night, Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen pulled French President Nicolas Sarkozy aside to broker an urgent backroom deal: Would Mr. Sarkozy back Mr. Cowen’s call for a replay of the previous night’s soccer game between their countries? It was no ordinary match. France’s victory Wednesday evening propelled Les Bleus to next year’s World Cup in South Africa and sent Ireland home. But the French victory has created a firestorm around the world, thanks to the manner in which it was decided.” (WSJ)

Chile Saved From World Cup Expulsion

November 27, 2009

“Chile has saved its spot in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa after a domestic relegation dispute threatened FIFA action. The Chilean club Rangers was deducted three points for using one more foreign player than allowed in a league match on Nov. 8, a 1-0 defeat to Cobreloa. The penalty saw the Rangers relegated to the second division, prompting the club to file a suit in the Chilean courts, which quickly raised FIFA’s ire.” (NYT)

England’s unfortunate striker

November 27, 2009

“Harry Redknapp sold Darren Bent to Sunderland in the summer as he thought Jermain Defoe was a better goalscorer. With Fabio Capello now facing the same choice of strikers for a place in his World Cup squad, Bent will have woken up on Sunday a happy man. After he was harshly criticised for his performance in England’s tame defeat to Brazil the week before, his goal against Arsenal should have been enough to restake his claim for a place in Capello’s squad. That Defoe should respond with a five star performance against Wigan on Sunday afternoon was typical of Bent’s recent luck.” (WSC)

Jamie Carragher and Liverpool Aim Low

November 27, 2009

“Smiling through gritted teeth and forcing an unconvincingly contented smile, reminiscent of Tony Blair’s during the Iraq war; Jamie Carragher looks to be a man who’s had his heart and soul ripped out by Liverpool’s horrendous start to this season. Before Tuesdays clash with Depression in the big boys European League he attempted to put a gloss on the turd of the season that he has found himself buried in.” (Three Match Ban)

More to Egypt riots than football

November 26, 2009

“The chauvinistic brand of nationalism that swept across Egypt last week – the violent fringe of which saw riots outside the Algerian embassy in Cairo – really isn’t about the football, despite what Joseph Mayton says in his Cif article yesterday. The spark was a football match, certainly, but Mayton’s contention that depressed Egyptians were simply ‘unable to deal with the fact that even on the football pitch, they cannot achieve success’ does not tell the whole story.” (Guardian)

Egypt-Algeria World Cup violence used to rally support for Mubarak regime
“Street-level clashes between fans that began over a soccer game between Algeria and Egypt last week have escalated into an international diplomatic incident that goes to the core of Egypt’s identity and its waning role as Mideast powerbroker. Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi announced today he would accept an Arab League request to mediate in the escalating conflict between the two states after Algeria beat Egypt for the last African slot in next summer’s World Cup.” (CS Monitor)

Efforts to Defuse Tensions Between Algeria and Egypt
“As readers of The Lede will be aware, North Africa has been facing a new source of strife in recent weeks — soccer. Last Wednesday, after the Egyptian national soccer team lost its World Cup bid to rival Algeria 1-0 in Sudan, 32 police officers and 21 Egyptian fans were reportedly injured in violence. The next day, Egyptian demonstrations outside the Algerian embassy in Cairo turned violent.” (NYT)

Gaddafi ‘to mediate’ in Egypt-Algeria football row >
“Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi has agreed to mediate between Algeria and Egypt in an increasingly heated row over football, state media say. Libyan news agency Jana reported that the Arab League had asked Col Gaddafi to intercede between the two nations. Each side accused the other’s fans of violent attacks after last week’s vital World Cup play-off, which Algeria won. Meanwhile, about 150 Egyptian and Algerian academics and intellectuals issued an appeal to defuse the row.” (BBC)

African view: Not just a game
“In our series of viewpoints from African journalists, Zimbabwean filmmaker and journalist Farai Sevenzo asks whether football has not grown too big for its boots. I don’t know about you but my last two weeks have been dominated by sports. Watching it not playing it, because I haven’t become a fitness fanatic nor am I addicted to the gym and I remain resolutely lazy when it comes to kicking up a sweat unless it is for pleasure. But with 198 days and counting down to the Football World Cup in South Africa, the season of inexplicable nationalism and outrageous passion is upon us.” (BBC)

30 seconds with referee Jerome Damon
“Jerome Damon of Cape Town has grown in stature since making his debut as a professional soccer referee in 1996. Now a member of the Caf and Fifa refereeing panels, he has officiated in three Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, in Tunisia (2004), Egypt (2006) and Ghana last year. A fourth official at the 2006 World Cup, he held centre stage in the World Cup qualifier between Egypt and Algeria at the Cairo Stadium last Saturday.” (TimesLive)

Murdoch Sounds The Death Knell For News Corp Soccer Coverage

November 26, 2009

“In the clash between old media and new media, I find it comical to see traditional old media establishments floundering to survive and concocting irrational business plans to hold on to the very little power they still have. The best example is Rupert Murdoch’s recent attempt to remove the websites he owns from the Google search engine results pages, and his plans to put up a paywall for many of his news sites to prevent readers from accessing articles for free.” (EPL Talk)

Soccer in Iraq: Another Field for Argument

November 26, 2009

“Iraq’s national soccer team has certainly endured hardship. Saddam Hussein had players beaten after losses. And the war that deposed him forced them into exile, after extremists started killing sports figures. Their first game at home in years was just this summer — against the Palestinians, the only team willing to come here during a war.” (NYT)

Ten Greatest Comebacks Wins in European Football History

November 26, 2009

“Throughout the history of European football, there have been many great comebacks that have changed seasons, careers, and the fate of clubs and/or countries in the process.” (Bleacher Report)

Q. & A. With Simon Kuper, Author of ‘Soccernomics’

November 26, 2009

“The British author Simon Kuper was born in Uganda in 1969 and grew up in London and Leiden, the Netherlands. He is currently a Paris-based sports columnist for The Financial Times. His book “Football Against the Enemy” won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award for 1994. He is also the author of “Ajax, the Dutch, the War.” His most recent book, “Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey — Even Iraq — Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World’s Most Popular Sport,” written with the economist Stefan Syzmanski, was published in the United States in early November.” (NYT)

Will South Africa 2010 produce a new Pele?

November 26, 2009

“Last Thursday was the 40th anniversary of Pele’s 1,000th goal when he rolled a penalty past the Vasco da Gama keeper in his favourite stadium – the Maracana. Subsequent research has revealed that the milestone had probably been reached a few matches earlier and the achievement is open to question anyway, as the numbers were inflated with goals scored in army matches and so on. The point is, though, that Pele’s greatness as a footballer cannot be reduced to grim statistical accumulation. He is remembered not for scoring over 1,000 goals, but for shining so brightly for so long at the highest level of the game.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)

Denmark: 2009-10 Superliga

November 26, 2009

“Denmark, Superliga table … 16 of 33 rounds have been played in the competition, which will go into it’s long winter break after matches on 9 December, 2009, to start up again on 14 March, 2010. Denmark is currently ranked 16th, for 2010-11 UEFA competitions. That’s up 3 places from the last ranking, and is indicative of the progress Denmark has been making in football. The Denmark National Football Team’s recent qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup is another example of this. The Danish Superliga is currently playing it’s 20th season. Reigning champions are FC Copenhagen (FC Kobenhavn in Danish). FC Copenhagen won the double in ’09, with a 1-0 win over AaB in the Danish Cup final, for their fourth Cup title.” (billsportsmaps)

Scandal and Corruption Cloud Champions League Restart

November 26, 2009

“Barcelona defeated Inter Milan on Tuesday, 2-0, at the Camp Nou in Spain. The victory, coupled with a 0-0 draw between Rubin Kazan and Dynamo Kiev, catapults the Catalan side to the top of Group F with 8 points and helps save the European champion from embarrassment. (The day’s results are here.)” (NYT)

Ngog seals win but Liverpool crash out

November 25, 2009

Théodore Géricault, The Raft of the Medusa, 1819
“Liverpool crashed out of the Champions League after a bitterly disappointing victory in the Hungarian capital. They needed to win to give themselves any chance of reaching the last 16, but events in Florence ended those dreams with Fiorentina achieving the victory they needed to qualify. David Ngog scored Liverpool’s early winner, but they struggled painfully to produce a convincing display, the damage having been done in two games against Lyon that cost them four points.” (ESPN)

Liverpool’s bread and butter looks stale as their rivals ice the cake
“Move along, there’s nothing of interest here. Apologies for an intro that breaks every rule in the newspaper style book, even if it happens to be true, but I just wanted to pre-empt all the blog fascists who regularly use those words in an attempt to persuade other readers not to bother with a point of view with which they happen to disagree.” (Guardian)

Liverpool deserve more from us, says Javier Mascherano
“Javier Mascherano has claimed Liverpool’s players will not be demoralised by demotion to the second tier of European football but must take responsibility for the club’s damaging early exit from the Champions League. With qualification for next season’s competition essential for Rafael Benítez, the Argentina captain has called on Liverpool to turn the misery of Budapest into a sustained assault on a top-four finish and victory in the Europa League.” (Guardian)

Benitez focused on top-four finish
“Rafael Benitez has confirmed Liverpool will prioritise their bid to make a swift return to the Champions League over a tilt for Europa League glory. Being winners of Europe’s most-prized club trophy in 2005 and finalists in 2007 counts for little now in the wake of an exit in the group stages for the first time in six seasons under Benitez.” (Independent)

Debrecen 0 Liverpool 1: match report
“Liverpool’s supporters were defiant until the bitter end, hoping against hope for news of a miracle in Florence that never came. After hearing that Fiorentina had beaten Lyon, so evicting Rafa Benítez’s side from the Champions League, Liverpool fans chanted “we’ve won it five times’’. Strong past, weak present, uncertain future. Forget the financial cost of this collapse, the millions Liverpool will not make from continued feasting at football’s top table. It is the emotional price that will prove most substantial, the painful realisation that they are now amongst Europe’s also-rans.” (Telegraph)

Pique and Pedro see off limp Inter

November 25, 2009

“Holders Barcelona moved two points clear at the top of their Champions League group after producing a classy display to defeat previous leaders Inter Milan at Camp Nou. Barca could have found themselves out of the competition if results had gone against them on Tuesday, but Pep Guardiola’s side are now within touching distance of a place in the last 16 after brushing aside Inter thanks to early goals from Gerard Pique and Pedro Rodriguez.” (ESPN)

The 10 Largest Football Stadiums In The World

November 24, 2009

Rungrado May Day Stadium
“In this article we look at the world’s ten largest football stadiums, some perhaps better known than others, and assess their legacies and impact both on the game and in their individual countries. We also look ahead and ask what the future may hold for this selection of magnificent sporting venues.” (SoccerLens)

The Only Thing You Need to Know About France-Ireland Is the 100 Greatest Quotes from The Wire

November 24, 2009

“Stowe sent me this ‘100 Greatest Quotes from The Wire’ video on Twitter the other day, and I watched it, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, The Wire,’ because I haven’t seen it in a few years and this sort of brought it all back. Then, for no obvious reason, this video started tugging at my brain after the Thierry Henry handball rocked the core of everything that had a core to rock yesterday. So I watched it again, and oh my God, The Wire, because about 87 of these quotes apply directly to the game and its aftermath.” (Run of Play)

Video Of The Week: Match Of The 70s – 1970/71

November 24, 2009

“This week’s video of the week is the first episode of ‘Match Of The Seventies’, the BBC series that filled summers of the 1990s with nostalgia for the football of the past, and this episode focusses on Arsenal’s double season – 1970/71. It provides a reasonably good primer on the subject of English football in the 1970s. Host Dennis Waterman struggles to avoid stating the bleeding obvious at times, but unfettered access to the BBC’s massive football archive and the fact that length of each episode of the programme allowed the producers to touch upon areas of 1970s football that slightly less well remembered rescue it from the trash bin. This episode is the first of the series, and we’ll be putting the rest of them up if there is sufficient interest.” (twohundredpercent)

Places Eighteen to Twenty Four in the Championship

November 24, 2009

“Places Three to Six in the Championship have had an amorphous look all season and while the occupants of the automatic spots have an ominous aspect, few would bet on the four currently browsing the magazines in the promotion foyer to be the exact same four come May. We said this about Burnley last year of course, but what are the chances of the current quartet hanging on to those lofty perches?” (thetwounfortunates), (Places Eighteen to Twenty Four in the Championship – thetwounfortunates)

Champions in Early Battle

November 24, 2009

“It isn’t yet six months since Barcelona overcame Manchester United in Rome to win the UEFA Champions league final, crowning a magnificent season under new coach Josep Guardiola. But while the image of captain Carles Puyol raising the trophy in May remains fresh in memory, Barça is already losing its grip on European football’s most glittering prize.” (WSJ)


November 24, 2009

UEFA – Nov 24, Nov 25

The Life, Death, & Life of Ferenc Puskas

November 23, 2009

Ferenc Puskas
“As you may have guessed, I am a practicing Roman Catholic. Within my belief structure, boxes exists for spirits and ghosts and hauntings. Purgatory awaits those with impure souls, the flames of hell toned down to a mild orange so as to burn away sinful elements of our time on this Earth. Up until this point, I had thought of Puskas as adversarial and one minded. He only wanted goat’s blood. Yet I had been equally adversarial and one minded – I had created major-struggle-mountain out of a molehill. But I took a deep breath and asked myself a very basic, simple question: why did this former Real Madrid legend want goat’s blood? And what did it have to do with me?” (Futfanatico)

Save us from Le Hand of God!

November 23, 2009

“All us fans of the Irish football team felt well and truly sucker-punched last Wednesday night. Thierry Henry’s ‘blatant handball’ (it is now the law that every mention of his handling of the ball is preceded by the word ‘blatant’) killed off Ireland’s dreams of dribbling their way to the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 (judge the video for yourself below). We were angry.” (Spiked – Brendan O’Neill)

Henry’s Handball & the Moral Ambiguity of Football

November 23, 2009

“The ball rebounded to Thierry Henry’s hand, first once and then again. He scooped it gently, and let it fall to his feet. He made a controlled pass to his teammate William Gallas, who scored a much-needed goal against Ireland. The referee didn’t call the handballs (clearly visible in recordings of the match). Henry didn’t ask him to. And Ireland are out of the World Cup. The LA Times is running a poll, asking readers what they think FIFA should ‘do’ about Henry’s handball. It’s a somewhat typical response: there must be one agent responsible for evil, a clear solution to a problem.” (From A Left Wing)

Bruce’s Masterplan Downs Big Guns Again

November 23, 2009

Steve Bruce
“Like a lower league side strutting their stuff in the latter rounds of the FA Cup, Steve Bruce is transforming his Sunderland side into one of the biggest upset merchants in the Premiership. The Black Cats’ latest scalp was a 1-0 victory at home to Arsenal. Bruce’s side have now taken 7 points from a possible 12 this season against the big four. Sunderland sit in 8th at the moment, below Liverpool who have taken just 3 points from 9 against their rivals, and above Stoke in 9th who have come away empty handed in all of their three matches against the league’s elite this term.” (EPL Talk)

Uruguay: 2009-10 Primera División.

November 23, 2009

“The Primera División de Uruguay plays Apertura and Clausura competitions like many Latin American leagues, but the champion for the season is determined by a two-legged final between the Apertura and Clausura winners, played in June each year (but in 2009 played in August after fan violence had forced postponements). Reigning champions are Nacional. The Uruguayan football scene has been dominated for decades by two clubs…Peñarol and Nacional.” (billsportsmaps)

You Can’t Fire The Players

November 23, 2009

“After three wins in fourteen matches- culminating in a humiliating 3-0 loss to a ‘rec level’ Wales squad last weekend- George Burley is out as manager of Scotland. As the title of this piece suggests, you can’t place all the blame on the manager, but… It’s worth keeping in mind that it was Burley picked the players who are now being accused of ‘not playing for the manager.’ It’s also worth noting that Scotland scored only seven goals during his tenure as manager, and none in the final three matches he oversaw, essentially ensuring that Scotland would not qualify for the World Cup.” (Avoiding the Drop)

Benayoun pegs back City

November 22, 2009

“Liverpool proved they are not ready to be replaced in the top flight elite by Manchester City just yet as Yossi Benayoun’s equaliser secured a draw at Anfield. Mark Hughes’ men from Eastlands arrived on Merseyside intent on proving they were top four material but they found a Liverpool side in defiant mood despite more injury problems.”

Manchester City waste the chance to confirm their top-four ambitions
“Manchester City should seek a placenta cure for their lack of ambition when they next visit the besieged Belgrade home of Mariana Kovacevic. A point at Anfield is no disgrace, as Mark Hughes mentioned once or twice afterwards, and but for the deflection that aided Liverpool’s equaliser, his game-plan could have yielded a victory of renewed intent. Even with mitigation, however, this was a glorious opportunity wasted by City.” (Guardian)

Liverpool face a winter of discontent after one win in 10 games
“Their recent run now reads a solitary victory, albeit an epic one over Manchester United, in 10 outings and this week threatens more misery, more darkness. Liverpool are fighting two Champions League campaigns at once, battling to stay in this season’s competition and struggling to qualify for next year’s. Both dreams could effectively be terminated over the next eight days, filling the horizon with black clouds.” (Telegraph)

Liverpool draw little comfort
“A POINT at Anfield would normally be regarded as a fine result, but not now and not for Mark Hughes and Manchester City, who have had more draws than the national lottery in the past few weeks. Both managers had agreed beforehand that this was a “make or break” game, a match capable of propelling their teams into a sustained challenge for the top four in the Premier League. But a sixth successive league draw for City and two more points dropped at home by Liverpool did neither Hughes nor Rafa Benitez any favours.” (TimesOnline)

Tevez cameo ends Rafa’s chances of top billing
“Having untypically and unwisely agreed that this was a ‘make or break’ game, Liverpool’s manager Rafa Benitez was last night left facing the unpalatable fact that his team’s Premier League hopes are broken beyond repair for another season. Worse, one victory in 10 games has not only left them with too much ground to make up on stronger domestic contenders, but on Tuesday they go to Hungary in the Champions’ League knowing that even a win over Debrecen will be irrelevant if Fiorentina beat Lyon.” (Independent)

Barca Dissappoints Again; Athletic – 1, Barca – 1

November 22, 2009

“For the third time in row Barca failed to win their La Liga match after an international break. They are known to carry their form in La Liga to the UEFA Champions League, and if that happen we will definitely see holders Barca getting knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage. In the preview of this match I have written about my concern about our away form. What irritates me most is Guardiola’s attitude after the match, he made a statement which is in line with his usual standing – that he is unconcerned with Barca’s dip in form.” (All About FC Barcelona)

Barcelona held at Bilbao
“Barcelona will head into El Clasico next weekend in second place in the Primera Division after being held to a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao. Pep Guardiola’s side kicked off the clash at San Mames having relinquished top spot to Real Madrid, who beat Racing Santander 1-0 earlier on Saturday night. The Spanish and European champions looked on course to reclaim their place at the summit when Dani Alves opened the scoring in the 54th minute, but substitute Gaizka Toquero levelled matters nine minutes later and Athletic held on for a point.” (ESPN)

FIFA 100

November 21, 2009

“The FIFA 100 is a list of the world-renowned Brazilian striker Pelé’s choice of the “greatest living footballers”. Unveiled on March 4, 2004 at a gala ceremony in London, the FIFA 100 marked part of the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the international governing body of football.” (Wikipedia), (YouTube)

Football Weekly Extra: Ireland’s World Cup dreams ended by Thierry Henry

November 21, 2009

“James Richardson welcomes a bumper panel of Paul Doyle, Barry Glendenning, Sean Ingle and Jonathan Wilson to discuss the week’s dramatic World Cup play-offs. The pod start by discussing the reaction in Paris and Dublin to Thierry Henry’s double handball before William Gallas’s goal, before arguing about video technology, Henry’s reputation and what, if anything, Ireland can do now.” (Guardian – James Richardson)

Accepting Defeat in Egypt and Ireland

November 21, 2009

“International relations continued to suffer on Friday from the reverberations over two soccer matches played on Wednesday.” (NYT)

How It Feels To Reach The World Cup Finals…

November 21, 2009

“204 nations entered the running for a place at World Cup 2010. From Burundi to Guam to Tahiti, everybody wants to be involved in the planet’s most popular spectacle. ‘Around half the planet watched the 2006 World Cup final,’ writes David Goldblatt in his seminal masterpiece The Ball Is Round. ‘Three billion human beings have never done anything simultaneously before.’ But only 32 nations make the finals. The other 172 can only watch and dream.” (Just-Football)

Pack up your troubles in your old Kit(son) bag and smile, smile, smile

November 21, 2009

“Again, my apologies for the lack of recent postage. In fairness, not a lot has happened. A drab international match between England and Brazil, which meant so much to all concerned that the majority of Fabio’s team got their mums to scribble some quick notes. I fell asleep during the second half, by which point a disinterested Brazilian team that was a little bit better than England Seconds had taken control and proved Wes Brown and Darren Bent aren’t international class, telling us nothing that we don’t already know. I’m writing this while listening to Ireland contest extra time against the French. This has heartbreak written all over it, the hapless Domenech’s team capable of shading it on quality, but I should very much like to see at least one Boro player go to South Africa in the summer.” (Smog-Blog)

The Friday Five: Footballing Heartbreakers

November 21, 2009

“In the wake of Ireland’s heartbreaking aggregate defeat to France, where Thierry Henry’s handballed assist for William Gallas to score an equaliser in extra time denied a team who had performed magnificently to haul themselves level, we pay tribute to five of the greatest footballing heartbreakers in recent memory. We start off, perhaps predictably, with the greatest last-gasp turnaround of events in recent footballing history.” (SoccerLens)

Liverpool draws with Manchester City 2-2 – Recap and Video Highlights

November 21, 2009

“Liverpool hosted Manchester City in the English Premier League on Saturday, November 21, 2009. The match took place at Anfield as Steven Gerrard returned to the line-up for Liverpool but Fernando Torres was out with an injury. Were Liverpool able to get a much needed win or did Manchester City show they are ready to challenge for a top four finish? Here’s a recap of the match along with video highlights.” (The 90th Minute)

Should We Be Surprised If European Football Is Fixed?

November 21, 2009

“As the Thierry Henry story rumbles on into its fourth day, a story is starting to break which might begin to put it into perspective. It is a story that is breaking from Germany and involves the arrest of seventeen people in connection with what would be the biggest, most systematic match-fixing ring that European football has ever seen. It concerns the fixing of over two hundred matches across nine countries in Europe for betting and the amount of money concerned is said to be over €10m. If true, it is a story that is going to break a lot of hearts and finish a lot of careers across the entire continent.” (twohundredpercent)

Final national team ranking out

November 21, 2009

“UEFA has published the final national team coefficient ranking following the end of the FIFA World Cup qualifying group stage and completion of the play-offs which have decided the remaining European teams to take part in next summer’s final round. The coefficients are relevant for the pot allocation to be used during the UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying draw that will take place in Warsaw on 7 February 2010.” (UEFA)

Football Weekly Extra: Ireland’s World Cup dreams ended by Thierry Henry

November 20, 2009

The Angel of Death, Evelyn De Morgan
“James Richardson welcomes a bumper panel of Paul Doyle, Barry Glendenning, Sean Ingle and Jonathan Wilson to discuss the week’s dramatic World Cup play-offs. The pod start by discussing the reaction in Paris and Dublin to Thierry Henry’s double handball before William Gallas’s goal, before arguing about video technology, Henry’s reputation and what, if anything, Ireland can do now.” (Guardian – James Richardson)

Henry admits replay would be fair“Under-fire France striker Thierry Henry believes a replay of the World Cup play-off with the Republic of Ireland would “be the fairest solution”. The Republic appealed to have the match replayed after an Henry handball helped France to a 2-1 aggregate victory. But their plea was rejected by Fifa, while the French Football Federation (FFF) will not advocate a rematch.” (BBC)

Thierry Henry: Replay the “fairest solution” for Ireland
“Thierry Henry has conceded that Republic of Ireland “definitely deserve” to qualify for the World Cup finals and has backed calls for a replay, even though FIFA have already ruled out such a scenario.” (ESPN)

Quick Links from Usual Suspects
“I’m working around the clock on something that will change everything, alienate half of you, and blow the minds of the other half, so don’t think I’m neglecting this place, even if actual blocks of text with my name attached have been in short supply lately. I’m here behind the scenes, listening to Annette Hanshaw records in a posture of revolutionary toil.” (Guardian)

James Lawton: Henry has never been an angel. Now he is beyond redemption
“Irish football is entitled to believe it has never seen anything so cynical, so far removed from the spirit of sport, as the devilish hand played by Thierry Henry to deny Giovanni Trapattoni’s team a place in the World Cup finals that would have been so thoroughly deserved. But then how do you draw up a ranking table of deceit when you know how far, how sickeningly, the list of precedents for Henry’s action stretches back – and how feeble has been the reaction of the authorities?” (Independent)

FIFA: No Replay of World Cup Qualifier Between France, Ireland
“FIFA, the world governing body for soccer, said Friday that Wednesday’s World Cup qualifying match between France and Ireland can’t be replayed or the result changed.” (WSJ)

2010 World Cup: Team-by-team guide

November 20, 2009

Xavi Hernandez
“Qualification is complete and now we can look forward to South Africa 2010, which kicks off on June 11. Ahead of the tournament, Football Editor Glenn Moore scouts the star players and hidden threats of all 32 teams at the 2010 World Cup.” (Independent)

Ten Minutes of Victorian Street Scenes

November 20, 2009

“Here’s an astonishing Pathe lineup of – almost entirely – Victorian English streetscape. Because the bulk of this was shot in 1896-7, the camera was too bulky to manouvre but too new to be recognised for what it was, lending these scenes an intimacy, almost an anonymity, that Mitchell and Kenyon would neither seek nor enjoy four years later.” (James Hamilton), (1930s Film Rushes from British Pathe – James Hamilton)

Arrests in Europe Over Soccer Fixing Investigation

November 20, 2009

“European enforcement officials said Friday that they had arrested the ring leaders of a far-reaching match-fixing cartel involving 200 soccer games in nine countries across the continent. The investigation, which was led by the German police, suggests that the sport is riddled with far more corruption at nearly all levels than fans or officials may have suspected. Announcing that 17 people had been arrested — 15 in Germany and 2 in Switzerland — prosecutors said they might have uncovered only the tip of the scandal.” (NYT)

Egypt-Algeria World Cup anger turns violent in Cairo

November 20, 2009

“Riot police in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, quelled a violent demonstration near the Algerian embassy in the early hours of Friday. Egyptian protesters reportedly hurled firebombs at police protecting the embassy and overturned a police van. Egypt’s interior ministry said 35 people were injured. The clashes stem from Egypt’s defeat by Algeria in a World Cup qualifying match on Wednesday, securing Algeria the last African place for next year’s finals.” (BBC)

Match Of The Midweek: Algeria 1-0 Egypt
“It’s a rivalry that goes back decades. Some say that it’s political, whilst others point at matches from the past that have inflamed sensibilities in a world that seems to consider the art of taking offence to be the next step in the evolutionary chain. Both sides of the divide sees the other as being the absolute opposite without ever seeming to take the similarities between their two nations into account. Football is truly a global game in the twenty-first century, and Algeria versus Egypt has become one of the international games Battle Royales.” (twohundredpercent)

Irish demand replay after controversial finish vs. France

November 19, 2009

Antiquities of Provence, Hubert Robert
“Ireland appealed to both France and FIFA on Thursday to replay their World Cup playoff after an obvious handball by Thierry Henry set up the deciding goal. Ireland’s government and football association asked for Wednesday’s 1-1 draw in the second leg at Stade de France to be replayed. France advanced to next year’s World Cup in South Africa 2-1 on aggregate.” (SI)

FAI request France replay
“The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) have lodged a formal complaint with FIFA over the controversial World Cup play-off defeat to France and have urged world football’s governing body to replay the match. • Maher: Ireland hard done by • Keane blasts FIFA and UEFA • France 1-1 (2-1 agg) Ireland • Ireland fuming over handball • Henry admits handball” (ESPN)

Irish Demand Replay With France
“Ireland appealed to France and football authorities Thursday to replay their World Cup playoff in Paris after an obvious handball by Thierry Henry produced the winning goal. Ireland’s government and football association united in demands for Wednesday’s 1-1 draw in France to be replayed, but Irish coach Giovanni Trapattoni dismissed the prospect as ‘impossible.’ In extra time, Mr. Henry twice handled the ball to prevent it going out of play, then passed to William Gallas in the Irish box for the deciding goal.” (WSJ)

Irish ask Fifa for France replay
“The Football Association of Ireland has lodged a complaint with Fifa asking for their World Cup play-off against France to be replayed. Republic of Ireland were beaten 2-1 on aggregate after France won with goal scored when captain Thierry Henry handled the ball in the build-up. Fifa insisted its disciplinary code says referees’ decisions “are final”. And the situation took on a political aspect as the Irish and French prime ministers disagreed over the matter.” (BBC)

Irish ‘cheated’ by Henry handball

Don’t be so quick to judge Henry

Hand Thierry Henry – Ireland / French 2010

Yahia cracker seals play-off win

November 19, 2009

“Antar Yahia’s spectacular goal earned Algeria the final African qualifying spot in next summer’s World Cup finals in South Africa. The centre-half volleyed home five minutes before half-time and a solid rearguard effort in the second half kept out Egypt. Emad Meteab had the best chance for Egypt but was denied by impressive Algeria keeper Fawzi Chaouchi. A capacity crowd filled the Khartoum Stadium in Sudan – with 5,000 more fans locked outside the ground.” (ESPN)

Match Of The Midweek: Algeria 1-0 Egypt
“It’s a rivalry that goes back decades. Some say that it’s political, whilst others point at matches from the past that have inflamed sensibilities in a world that seems to consider the art of taking offence to be the next step in the evolutionary chain. Both sides of the divide sees the other as being the absolute opposite without ever seeming to take the similarities between their two nations into account. Football is truly a global game in the twenty-first century, and Algeria versus Egypt has become one of the international games Battle Royales.” (twohundredpercent)

Algeria celebrates victory over Egypt
“I have to admit that I was scared for ten or so minutes after the final whistle blew here in Oran, Algeria last night. I watched Les Verts’ World Cup play-off game with Egypt in a cafe in darkened streets of a city that I don’t know. Anthar Yahia’s 40th minute goal, a Van Basten-esque angled volley, unleashed the country’s wildest celebrations since July 1962 – the month Algeria secured its bloody independence from France. Chairs flew over the road, aerosal sprays flashed into the sky, cars vroomed down the streets backwards and sideways, kids slalomed between klaxoning motorbikes and I had to duck once or twice to avoid the fireworks thrown like confetti.” (WSC)

Algeria battle to victory
“Nicknamed the ‘mother of all matches’, the grudge match that was Algeria vs. Egypt did not contain the sparks of the thrilling final group game; but Algeria won’t care. Beating the back-to-back African champions 1-0 in Sudan, the unfancied Algerian side worked wonders to reach their first World Cup in 23 years and many will suggest that it was well-deserved.” (ESPN)

Yahia sends Algeria to World Cup
“Algeria booked a first trip to the World Cup in 24 years by beating Egypt 1-0 in a tense play-off in Sudan. Centre-back Antar Yahia settled the contest with a stunning first-half volley at an angle eight yards out from Karim Ziani’s punt into the box. Rookie goalkeeper Fawzi Chaouchi was the night’s other hero as he constantly denied the six-time African champions. The two were forced to go to the one-off play-off in Khartoum after finishing level in Group C.” (BBC)

Algeria beats Egypt in playoff to reach World Cup
“Algeria qualified for its first World Cup in 24 years with a 1-0 win over Egypt on Wednesday, triggering wild celebrations in Algiers. A stunning first-half strike by defender Antar Yahya gave Algeria victory in the playoff match. Yahya’s 39th minute winner came against the run of play when he took advantage of a lapse in concentration by Egypt’s defenders to hit a perfect volley in off the underside of the crossbar with his right foot from an acute angle. (SI)

Scottish football’s deep-lying problems

November 18, 2009

Family of Country People, Le Nain brothers
“After an embarrassing string of results, George Burley’s reign as Scotland manager has come to an end, costing the SFA an estimated £300,000 after he recently signed a contract extension. The vast problems with Scottish football are not down to George Burley. Granted he hasn’t had the most fruitful of terms in charge, but give him some credit, he was better than Berti Vogts. The problems in Scotland are evident at all levels.” (SoccerLens)