Tag Archives: Henry Winter

Harry Kane shows clubs should not discard players too early

“Many magic numbers are being thrown around about Harry Kane, adding up to why the Tottenham Hotspur striker is being feted as such a strong candidate for the players’ Player of the Year and the writers’ Footballer of the Year. Numbers like four. Kane has just become only the fourth man to win back-to-back Premier League Player of the Month awards, joining such illustrious names as Robbie Fowler, Dennis Bergkamp and Cristiano Ronaldo.” Telegraph – Henry Winter


Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson backed by peers after fan with row: ‘You said what rest us want to say’

“Nigel Pearson is one of the most measured, thoughtful managers in the country so it was a warning sign of the pressures his profession is under when even he snapped at an abusive fan, an offence that brought a Football Association charge on Thursday. The Leicester City manager remained phlegmatic when being alerted of the FA’s decision in the afternoon, just as he stayed calm earlier in the day despite the deep frustration after one of his best players this season, Kasper Schmeichel, broke a metatarsal in training. Leicester’s goalkeeper undergoes an operation today and will be out for ‘four to six weeks’, according to his manager.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Wayne Rooney can take England’s goals record but not the glory of his predecessors

“The Sir Bobby Charlton suite is the most luxurious room in the hotel currently occupied by England at St George’s Park albeit hardly the Ritz. The Gary Lineker pitch (No 11) is, contrary to expectation, more than two six-yard boxes. Yet nowhere at England’s training base is there any room or pitch named in tribute to Jimmy Greaves, the distinguished international lying third behind Lineker and Charlton as his country’s all-time goalscorer. Greaves’s photograph does hang alongside those of Lineker and Charlton on the walls of the corridors that Wayne Rooney will walk along on this morning, heading off out to Pitch 6, the main England practice area. Rooney will soon pass the fabled trio in the record books as well as the corridor, starting with Greaves possibly this week. His elevation will stir sadness as well as admiration. Rooney can equal the maths but not the history.” Telegraph . Henry Winter

Manchester City 1 Chelsea 1: Frank Lampard comes off the bench to upset former club and save the champions

“Frank Lampard holds a special place in the Chelsea record books and in the hearts of their fans. Even when their club’s all-time leading scorer, ‘Super’ Frank Lampard, equalised for Manchester City here, Chelsea supporters continued to sing his name. He cost them two points but had given them 13 unforgettable years. Lampard will always be in credit in their ledger of loyalty. At the end of a contentious, slightly surreal encounter, Lampard walked over to thank the away fans, who waved banners and chorused his name again in return. Little sportsmanship resides in football in the cynical modern era so it was an impressive reaction by the Chelsea contingent.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Tottenham Hotspur 0 Liverpool 3: Raheem Sterling, Steven Gerrard and Alberto Moreno secure victory

“Brendan Rodgers celebrated his 100th game in charge of Liverpool with a good win against Tottenham Hotspur and a very good joke about Raheem Sterling’s astonishing second-half miss: ‘Raheem ran into the box like Ricky Villa and finished it like Ricky Gervais.’ This was more than another day at the office for Liverpool. This was Rodgers’s side back in business. After Liverpool’s defeat at Man­chester City last Monday, a few dark clouds of doubt scurried across the Melwood skyline. But Rodgers calmly trained his players well all week, setting them up tactically to outwit Spurs and particularly expose their high-pressing tactics. Liverpool moved the ball quickly, occasionally over the top, catching Spurs out.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal discovers harsh reality after Swansea loss – and there’s no quick fix

“It risked being lost in all the debris of an opening-day defeat for Louis van Gaal, and amid the understandable calls for urgent reinforcements, but Manchester United’s new manager kept returning to a vital theme, namely the need for players to be ‘not only running, but also to use your brain’. Welcome to England, where physics is still one of the main sciences. Van Gaal spoke after this deserved 2-1 loss to Swansea City about players making poor choices in their decision-making, especially in the first half. He also wrote in the programme about ‘I always train in the brains and not in the legs,’ adding, most pertinently, about an issue he had noted in training that ‘a lot of players are playing intuitively but they have to think’.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Louis van Gaal endures Manchester United debut to forget
“It is a new season with a new manager but for Manchester United fans the 2014-15 campaign began in all-too familiar fashion – a depressing home defeat. ‘Things can only get better’ and ‘King Louis is here – United are back’ was the message on some of the many scarves and T-shirts on sale outside Old Trafford on Saturday showing United’s new boss Louis van Gaal’s face as their main design feature. Sadly for the United supporters who saw their side suffer seven home league defeats last season, Swansea would prove those statements to be mostly inaccurate, for now at least.” BBC

Van Gaal needs reinforcements
“Over to you, Ed Woodward. Time is slipping away; there are 16 days left of the transfer window. Manchester United’s opening defeat to Swansea City offered almost indelible proof that the club no longer has the personnel to compete to win the Premier League. Louis van Gaal had warned that these things will take time. David Moyes, watching in a Doha TV studio, ought to have allowed himself some schadenfreude towards the executive vice-chairman who sacked him in April. Indeed, the former Old Trafford boss urged time for his successor.” ESPN

World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi shines after tactical change

“On the eve of the Argentina-Bosnia game, a Brazilian newspaper came up with a cruel statistic. In one World Cup game, Neymar had scored more World Cup goals than Lionel Messi had managed in his entire career. The Brazilian was leading by two to one. The little wizard has now levelled the score, and did it in style in his first ever game in Rio’s iconic Maracana stadium. His strike, which turned out to be the winner in Argentina’s 2-1 victory over Bosnia, is the moment a packed crowd will guard in their memories of Sunday’s game. It was Messi at his best, cutting in with the ball tied to his left foot, exchanging quick passes with Gonzalo Higuain and curling a shot in off the post. Without a slight deflection off a Bosnian defender the ball would probably have gone just wide, but few would complain – apart from Bosnians, and some Brazilians.” BBC

Lionel Messi lights up World Cup with stunning strike in Group F victory as Argentina triumph against Bosnia
“Messi at Maracana: what an event. This was part-homage to one of the game’s greats and part-launch of Argentina’s World Cup campaign. The two themes were inevitably intertwined as Lionel Messi embarked on his mission, using his phenomenal footballing capabilities to try to guide his country to victory in these finals that are already being hailed as one of the finest ever. The tone of the tournament has been on attacking and here it was Messi’s turn. He was short of his highest standards, short of the brilliance that has defined his Barcelona career but he still created Argentina’s first and then scored their second, giving the feeling of a special cameo being performed in front of an audience of 74,738, the majority enrapt by his work. It was astonishing to think that this was only his second ever World Cup goal in nine games.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

World Cup Tactical Analysis: Argentina 2-1 Bosnia
“In a game that was expected to be Argentina’s announcement of intent in this World Cup, the favorites met stern opposition in the form of Bosnia and Herzegovina. And though Argentina certainly did the business by walking away with the 3 points, it may have been Bosnia and Herzegovina who perhaps made the bigger statement.” Outside of the Boot

Argentina vs. Bosnia in GIFs
“Messi strikes in Argentina’s opener at the Maracanã. What else could a fan ask for? Argentina and Lionel Messi in Brazil’s greatest stadium, the Marcanã in Rio. Will Argentina be there on July 13? Maybe, maybe not, but it would start today for Argentina against talented World Cup first-timers Bosnia. Let’s look at our favorite GIFs.” Fusion (Video)

World Cup 2014: England Squad Selector – pick your 23 then compare with our choices

“Ever wanted to be Roy Hodgson? It’s a common condition. His is a life of easy charm, muted bookishness and lovely warm coats. But there’s one unenviable task looming for the England manager ahead of Fifa World Cup 2014 in Brazil, and that’s picking 23 men to make up a squad capable of avoiding humiliation. With Hodgson set to announce his provisional list of players on Monday May 12, we’ve cast the net wide for potential England squad members, from the players who are on the plane barring a late metatarsal injury (Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Joe Hart), the youngsters who may or may not have done enough to impress (Luke Shaw, Ross Barkley) and the longshots (Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, ideally both at once).” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Arsène Wenger at Arsenal and Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United prove the value of the ‘manager’

“Some self-admiring owners invade the dressing room, diluting the power of the manager, a damaging trend. If Arsène Wenger guides Arsenal to glory in the Premier League it would be a wonderful, well-timed triumph for the managerial profession. Managers are not just for Christmas. Even Wenger’s rivals would surely acknowledge privately the long-term benefit for their industry of the success of a manager who will have been in his job almost 18 years, who alone decides recruitment and loan policy, whose influence is so all-pervading at the Emirates that he even chose the wall colours.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Burnley manager Sean Dyche eager to take Championship leaders into the Premier League

“Sean Dyche strides from Burnley’s training pitch on the banks of the River Calder, having taken his Championship-leading players through a detailed and energetic session in advance of Saturday’s trip to third-placed Leicester City, and marches into a modest building that resembles a Lancashire village hall on the outside but Nasa on the inside. It is all sports science, mission statements on the wall and borrowed hi-tech running machines. It is clear there is far more to Dyche, the 42-year-old former centre-half, than the general perception. His shaven-headed, physically imposing presence belies a sophisticated approach to the game, a hunger for knowledge and a determination to change critical views of English coaches.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

World Cup draw set to reveal unique magic

“Day after day, reports from the land of the next World Cup send shudders through the soul. A collapsing crane claims the lives of two construction workers at the stadium in Sao Paulo. The Brazilian FA, the CBF, makes the sad announcement that the legendary left-back Nilton Santos has passed away after a lung infection. Concerns rise over local companies fleecing visiting fans over accommodation and internal flights. Anger at socio-economic problems is expressed through protests. The 2014 World Cup is currently associated with many issues, few relating to the promise of an on-field spectacle.” Telegraph – Henry Winter (Video)

West Bromwich Albion 2 Aston Villa 2: match report

“With one decision, Paul Lambert changed the destiny of this thunderous West Midlands derby. With one bold move, a triple substitution after 57 minutes, Lambert re-energised Aston Villa, seizing the initiative back from a West Bromwich Albion side who had been magnificent until then. Lambert had had to act. Albion were leading 2-0 and should have been over the horizon. Shane Long was so good, almost unplayable at times. He scored two fine goals, the first full of power, the second full of deftness.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Arsenal 2-0 Napoli: Arsenal win the game early by attacking down the right flank

“Arsene Wenger fielded five natural central midfielders, but Napoli were opened up repeatedly in their left-back zone. Wenger was without a variety of players comfortable in wide roles – Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – while Jack Wilshere was rested, with Mikel Arteta coming into the side and Arsenal’s three attacking midfielders playing fluid roles. Rafael Benitez was still without Christian Maggio, and also lost Gonzalo Higuain through injury. Arsenal were dominant from the first whistle, and Napoli rarely offered a goal threat.”
Zonal Marking

Arsenal 2 Napoli 0: Mesut Özil sets the tone as Arsene Wenger’s side turn on the style against Napoli
“When Arsenal play with the precision, pace and elegance that spiced some of their mesmerising first-half movement here the feeling grows stronger and stronger that the long, soul-searching, inquisition-scarred wait for a trophy might yet end this season. If it does, the player who should touch the trophy first should be Mesut Özil, who impressed again in a 2-0 victory. The German has strengthened Arsenal psychologically and as an attacking, trophy-threatening force. He has brought belief, assists and now his first goal for the club, a strike that celebrated his sumptuous technique. Özil was almost unplayable at times, gliding hither and thither, twisting away from opponents, the ball merrily snuggling his left foot, leaving Napoli bewildered and bewitched. Telegraph – Henry Winter


Manchester City 4 Manchester United 1: match report

“As Manchester City fans staged a party, a search party was scrambled for Manchester United’s defence. The champions were so disorganised and lacking in resilience for 50 minutes as City ripped them apart through swift counters and set-pieces. Sergio Aguero took the headlines with his brace but there were superb performances throughout the City ranks. Samir Nasri, a weak link in previous Derbies, was outstanding here, tracking back, creating and scoring and deservedly being named man of the match. Yaya Toure controlled central midfield, totally eclipsing Marouane Fellaini, and popping up to score at a corner.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Manchester City 4-1 Manchester United: Tactical Analysis
“The Manchester derby is a game that is always filled with drama and excitement. In recent times owing to City’s new found wealth, it’s become a fixture about more than bragging rights and 3 points alone. With both sides battling it out in the upper echelons of the Premier League, the fixture has taken on even more significance. Both Moyes and Pellegrini experienced their first taste of the rivalry and had an early chance to lay down that much talked about early marker.” Outside of the Boot

Manchester City’s success built on Samir Nasri and Aleksandar Kolarov
“Samir Nasri was the villain in this fixture last season, when his half-hearted attempt at blocking a Robin van Persie free-kick sent the ball spinning past Joe Hart to seal a Manchester United victory, but the Frenchman was one of the key performers in this superb City display. Both sides were not far off playing a simple 4-4-2, but whereas United were rigid and unimaginative throughout Nasri was the only player who varied his positioning intelligently.” Guardian

Premier League fans have been put out of the picture by 3D cameras

“The joy of such enthusiastically delivered news might be lost on some of those fans actually present. Sixty season ticketholders have been moved from their favoured habitat. This new £3 billion Premier League television deal comes at a cost for the match goer. Caring clubs are seeking to accommodate them in other parts of the stadium but fans are creatures of habit, wanting the same familiar routes, gangways, characters, seats, neighbours. It is like breaking up a good party, or even family. Television grows ever more powerful and demanding. More games are being screened in more countries with more cameras, some of them of the bulky, space-commanding 3D variety.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Bayern Munich 2-1 Borussia Dortmund: Dortmund take control with good pressing, but Robben moves upfront to make the difference

“Bayern initially struggled to get into the game, but eventually emerged victorious after a strong second half performance. Jupp Heynckes selected Jerome Boateng rather than Daniel van Buyten at the back – the only real selection decision either manager had to make. Jurgen Klopp named his expected XI. Dortmund started the game excellently, pinning Bayern back and attempting six shots before Bayern had managed one – but eventually their pressing dropped, and Bayern continually exploited the space in behind the Dortmund defence.” Zonal Marking

Champion Bayern Munich sets magnificent yet troubling standard
“For Bayern as a whole, this was a story of redemption. For Arjen Robben, in particular, it was a story of redemption. And for Jupp Heynckes it was, a story of vindication, of proving his point so that he can leave, having been forcibly retired, having proved he is a winner and having become only the fourth coach — after Ernst Happel, Ottmar Hitzfeld and Jose Mourinho — to win the European Cup with two different teams. Bayern had lost in the final in 2010 and 2012. It had been defeated at the last in 1999. It had lost surprisingly in 1987 and 1982. It had come to look guilty of that least German of attributes: choking. There was a moment at Wembley when it looked as though it might once again falter at the last: after an awkward opening half hour it had dominated and had taken the lead, before conceding an equalizer with a wholly needless penalty.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich: Thomas Müller simply refused to be denied in Champions League final
” On the eve of this visit to Wembley, and reflecting on chastening nights in Madrid and Munich, Müller had observed: “If you lose three finals in four years, you are going to be labelled chokers.’’ Not here. Not on Müller’s watch. He would not let it happen. Bayern would not be called chokers. Müller and his team-mates wanted this too much. They were too fit, a reminder of the exceptional medical conditioning of the celebrated physician Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt. Bayern were too hungry, particularly as a compelling game wore on and the lactic acid ganged up on Borussia Dortmund.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Dortmund 1-2 Bayern- Tactical Analysis
“A full house and an electric atmosphere greeted the two top teams of Germany and Europe in the UEFA Champions League Final. Bayern came into the game as favourites to win the game,and won a wonderful end-to-end contest. A weakened Dortmund team started without their talisman and future Bayern player, Mario Gotze. Weidenfeller started at the back, with the usual back 4 of Pisczcek, Schmelzer, Subotic and Hummels in front of him. In midfield, Bender and Gundogan were the deeper pair, and Grosskreutz, Reus and Kuba were in the advanced roles. Up front, it was the Pole, Robert Lewandowski.” Outside of the Boot

Robben gets redemption as Bayern Munich wins Champions League
“… Arjen Robben, a winger but always in the center of things. We saw by turns the worst, the best, the worst and finally the best again of the brilliant Dutch midfielder. It is ever thus with Robben. In the first half, he had golden chances on two occasions but failed to convert as Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller stoned Robben twice, bringing back memories of similar Robben chances in the 2010 World Cup final.” SI

Alex Ferguson was as adept at evolving tactically as any manager in history

“Perhaps Sir Alex Ferguson’s greatest gift, certainly the one that has maintained him at the top of the British game for 35 years, has been his ability to evolve. No side he has managed has ever been good enough to satisfy him; he has always been willing to cut and adapt. Probably the most shocking change came in 2000. United had won the Treble the previous season and they were 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League when they met Real Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. No game since the Premier League came into being has arguably had such tactical ramifications.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

End of an era as Ferguson calls it quits
“One of the most momentous eras in world club football is about to draw to a close with the retirement, in 11 days’ time, of Sir Alex Ferguson as manager of Manchester United. United confirmed his departure – to become a director and club ambassador – after a rush of sudden overnight speculation.” World Soccer

Alex Ferguson retires: Manchester United prepare for life with David Moyes but aura of a ‘mad man’ will remain
” All that drive, all that competitiveness, all those early starts to get on with plotting campaigns and all those late nights to keep on plotting triumphant campaigns. All the teams built and rebuilt, all those rivals seen off and trophies claimed. Ferguson slept little and won loads. Year after year, season after season. And now it is over. English football will seem so different in the post-Ferguson era. It will feel like Trafalgar Square without Nelson. As a manager, Ferguson was inimitable. David Moyes, a sound appointment as his successor, must be himself when assuming control of Manchester United, not seeking to replicate his more illustrious compatriot.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

A Few Thoughts on Ferguson
“We’ve been preoccupied with term papers the last few weeks, but this is important. Alex Ferguson retired this morning, meaning that the long summer we’ve grown accustomed to slipped into Winter before we even had a chance to catch up on Doomsday Preppers. Ferguson, austerity embodied, was never the type to arouse any sort of intense passion. Besides a few Chicharito-induced flirtations, notable for being as fervent as they were fleeting, I had no relationship with Manchester United, nor any practical concern for their well-being. To a certain extent, that’s a result of the indifference that follows unattached fans, but perhaps more so, evidence of my casual disdain for successful clubs.” Futbol Intellect

Sir Alex Ferguson’s highs and lows
“Even when reaching the standards that Sir Alex Ferguson has maintained at Manchester United, there have been moments of crashing disappointment that match the crazed highs. Ferguson, though, has used the failures as fuel to fire his successes.” ESPN (Video)

David Moyes a safe choice for Manchester United but comes with risk
“There is a paradox in the employment market, something anybody who has ever applied for a first job, or tried to step up to the next level in their chosen career will have experienced — and that is the issue of experience. It’s understandable that employers want employees who have experience, but if you haven’t got it, how are you supposed to get it if nobody will give you a job without it?” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Man United Alex Ferguson retiring at end of season
“Alex Ferguson is retiring at the end of the season, bringing a close to a trophy-filled career of more than 26 years at Manchester United that established him as the most successful coach in British football history.” SI (Video)

Manchester United 1-2 Real Madrid: red card allows Real to take control

“Manchester United’s starting strategy nullified Real Madrid’s main threats, but Jose Mourinho reacted quickly after United went down to ten. Sir Alex Ferguson left out Wayne Rooney and Shinji Kagawa, favouring Nani and Ryan Giggs on the flanks. Tom Cleverley started in place of Phil Jones, while Jonny Evans dropped to the bench as Ferguson favoured the old-school Ferdinand-Vidic partnership. Jose Mourinho named his expected side. Gonzalo Higuain was upfront rather than Karim Benzema, Raphael Varane continued at centre-back. Sadly, we were denied a chance to see how the 11 v 11 game would play out – Real had looked impotent until Nani’s red card, and it would have been fascinating to see how they tried to break down United in the final half hour.” Zonal Marking

Controversial red card changed complexion of Madrid-United tilt
“There was no doubt about the moment that changed the game. Manchester United had been leading 1-0 on Tuesday night, 2-1 on aggregate, and was winning the tactical battle when, 11 minutes into the second half, Nani leapt to try to take down a dropping clearance from Rafael. His raised foot caught Alvaro Arbeloa in the stomach, and Turkish referee Cunet Cakir decided, to widespread surprise, that he was guilty of serious foul play and showed a red card.” SI – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

Manchester United red with rage after referee wrecks Champions League dream with Nani red card against Real
“When Manchester United’s devastated players finally emerged from the dressing room, they would not, probably could not talk. The club had advised them to stay silent over Cuneyt Cakir’s unspeakable decision to send off Nani. Their inner fury, the anger in the eyes said it all.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Wins over Man. United and Barcelona give Mourinho an exit strategy
“There is a phrase, borrowed from bullfighting, which the Spanish use a lot: por la puerta grande. Out through the main door, triumphantly. Maybe even on the shoulders of supporters while a crowd gathers at your feet, holding the trophy in the air — a bloodied bull’s ear, in this case, the cup with the big ears if we’re talking football. There are different ways to depart after the fight, many ways to leave, and departing victorious is always best.” SI (Video)

Newsstand: British Tabloids Aflare After Man United’s Controversial Loss To Real Madrid
“Real Madrid eliminated Manchester United from the Champions League today with a 2-1 win at Old Trafford. The English champions led 1-0 after an own goal by Sergio Ramos, but the turning point came when Turkish referee Cuynet Cakir sent off Nani for a studs-high challenge.” SI (Video)

England’s World Cup winning captain Bobby Moore: 20 years gone, but never forgotten

“Across town at Wembley, setting for Moore’s finest hours, the flag of St George will fly at half-mast. A skilled surgeon operated on Moore’s colon in 1991 but the cancer would not yield. It spread to the liver. Moore never complained. He simply set about delaying its pitiless impact. Eventually, on Feb 15, 1993, England’s World Cup-winning captain released a statement, revealing his illness was terminal. Two days later he was at Wembley, commentating on England’s game against San Marino for Capital Radio, his collar turned up to hide his paleness. A week later, on Feb 24, 1993, Moore passed away. He was only 51.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

David Beckham needs to beware the motives of Qatar moneymen behind his move to Paris St-Germain

“Good old Paris, always the city of romance. David Beckham and Paris St-Germain fell into each others’ arms, smitten with a short-term passion from the Englishman’s perspective and an amorous long-term game-plan devised by the club’s Qatari owners.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Liverpool owner John W Henry offers some laughable points with his letter to fans

“If Lennon’s hymn of homage was to Mia Farrow’s reclusive sister, Henry’s homily was a love letter to the similarly elusive soul of financial restraint. Henry’s open missive to the Kop sought to justify the contentious actions of his Fenway Sports Group in the newly-closed transfer window. Admirable in his intent, namely communicating with the club’s lifeblood, Henry provided a window on the owner-manager-player-supporter dynamic in the modern game. Some of Henry’s observations defied belief. Others introduced some welcome perspective in the ‘Greed Is Good’ world of the Premier League.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Roberto Mancini may be frustrated over Manchester City’s transfer policy but the buzzword is sustainability

“In the background will be the clinking sounds of yachts, Champagne flutes and roulette wheels, making Monaco a slightly surreal setting for a discussion on tightening belts and balancing books. Marwood, though, does not need any advice from Platini’s Financial Fair Play document or any prompting on the need for fiscal restraint. Contrary to popular perception, the buzzword ‘sustainability’ has long been heard within the corridors of power at City.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Spain cements its place in history with unprecedented title run

“Three thoughts after Spain’s 4-0 win over Italy in the Euro 2012 final: • Let’s call Spain what it is: The most accomplished international soccer team of all time. What more could you ask for? On a glorious summer night in Ukraine, Spain played a spectacular game against the four-time world champions, carving up the Italian defense with speed and precision to leave no doubt that this Spanish team’s accomplishments deserve to be in the sport’s pantheon ahead of Brazil (1958-62, 1970), France (1998-2000) and West Germany (1972-74). In doing so, Spain becomes the first country ever to be a two-time reigning European champion and World Cup champion at the same time. Just as importantly, Spain turned on the style more than it had at any point in this tournament, giving us brilliant passing sequences that led to goals by David Silva, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata. The highlights of their goals — the motion, the imagination, the beauty — will live on in the history of sports, and for that we can all be thankful that we got the chance to witness it.” SI

Spain 4-0 Italy: Spain win Euro 2012
“Spain produced by far their best performance of Euro 2012, and won the final with ease. Both teams were as expected. Vicente del Bosque made a single change – Cesc Fabregas returned upfront in place of Alvaro Negredo. Cesare Prandelli also made one change, bringing back Ignazio Abate at right-back, with Federico Balzaretti dropping to the bench. Giorgio Chiellini continued at left-back, although didn’t last long before Balzaretti replaced him. Spain were the better side by a considerable distance. They didn’t settle for mere dominance of possession, and instead attacked with speed and determination to produce a wonderful display of football.” Zonal Marking

Spain 4 Italy 0: match report
“This was so much more than a stunning Euro 2012 scoreline conjured up by one of the most magical collection of footballers in history. This was a statement by Spain, a thrilling 90-minute advertisement to the world over how the game should be played, with skill, movement, bursts of unstoppable pace, with pass after pass after pass. This was simplicity and beauty, golden football leading to silverware. This was history in the making, Spain recording an unprecedented three trophies in a row. Vicente Del Bosque’s side of all the talents were good from back to front. Iker Casillas made some important aerial interceptions. Jordi Alba was all shimmering class at left-back, Xavi and Andres Iniesta controlled midfield as if they had been presented with the title deeds while Cesc Fabregas was immense in attack.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Euro 2012: Reign of Spain goes on as Italy trail in their stardust
“In the end, Spain were the best team in Euro 2012 by a considerable distance. They turned the final into a procession and, when they reflect on becoming the first nation to win three major tournaments in succession, the sense of jubilation should be greatly enhanced by this being the night when they were rewarded for having absolute conviction in their principles. They never wavered in the face of great scrutiny and Vicente del Bosque’s formation, however unorthodox, was shown ultimately to be based on the strongest of foundations, to the extent it feels bizarre in the extreme that a team of this brilliance could ever be accused of not entertaining.” Guardian

Euro 2012: Spain v Italy – five talking points
“Spain are not boring. They are unstoppable … Vicente del Bosque’s side are history-makers, their hat-trick of major trophies secured here in such scintillating if characteristic style. They were also, quite clearly, the best team at these finals. Others have attempted to stifle them, some relatively successfully, but Spain cannot be out-passed or unpicked: the statistics suggest as much, but a glance at their fluid approach-play is more revealing. Rather, it is awe-inspiring.” Guardian

Spain makes history against Italy
“In a bravura display of creative, free-flowing, tactically nimble football, Spain made history with a 4-0 victory over Italy. With a performance fitting of champions, Vicente Del Bosque’s Spain became the first team to win three straight major tournaments and the first to repeat as Euro champions. After their campaign had been stigmatized by allegations their possession-hungry style of play had become “boring,” La Roja summoned an extra gear in this final to elevate their game and eviscerate their critics.” ESPN (Video)

Euro 2012: The Final – Spain 4-0 Italy
“Football writers the world over will be frantically thumbing through their thesaureses this evening, desperately searching for new superlatives for a performance from Spain that we may well one day look back upon as the definitive of our age. Over the last few days a frankly tedious circular debate has been raging on the subject of whether Spain are ‘boring’ or not. It’s an argument that was rendered suddenly and startlingly obsolete this evening by a complete football performance which rendered a previously impressive looking Italian side bloodied and broken. If this match had been a boxing match, it would have been stopped long ago. Had it been a horse race, they’d have shot both the horse and the jockey.” twohundredpercent

Italy 0-0 England: Pirlo dictates the game

“Italy somehow failed to score despite dominating for 120 minutes, but won the resulting penalty shoot-out. Cesare Prandelli brought in Riccardo Montolivo to play at the top of the diamond, because of concerns over Thiago Motta’s fitness. Roy Hodgson made no changes from the XI that narrowly defeated Ukraine in the group stage. Italy were the better side all over the pitch here – only finishing let them down.” Zonal Marking

Euro 2012: England versus Italy, an abbreviated but charged rivalry
“England against Italy feels as though it should be one of football’s classic fixtures, a meeting between the motherland of the game and a country that has won the World Cup four times. Yet the sides have met only twice before in major tournaments, never on neutral soil, and only four times in qualifying games for major tournaments. England have won just one of those six competitive fixtures and Italy are one of only four teams (Brazil, Uruguay and Romania being the other three) to have the advantage over England in a head-to-head comparison. It was, though, a game against Italy in 1948 that brought perhaps England’s greatest ever victory.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Euro 2012: The Quarter-Finals – England 0-0 Italy (Italy Win 4-2 On Penalty Kicks
“So, then, to Kiev and to the quarter-finals of the European Championships. It’s the final match of the round this evening, featuring an Italian side that is something of a curates egg, excellent against Spain in matching them every inch of the way before being slightly underwhelming against Croatia and The Republic of Ireland, whilst England remain somewhat enigmatic, decent enough in fits and starts but also a little lucky in places and, for fifteen minutes against Sweden nine days ago, almost apocalyptically disorganised. The history books say Italy, who have a considerably better record against England than many realise due to the infrequency with which the two sides have played each other over the years, but England have showed considerable character over the last few weeks and this match felt, prior to kick-off, difficult to call.” twohundredpercent

England v Italy: match report
“This was a chronicle of a death foretold, of a failure to prepare properly. This deserved defeat on penalties, England’s sixth reverse in seven shoot-outs, highlighted technical deficiencies also painfully apparent during the two hours of football. Italy, and Andrea Pirlo in particular, were vastly superior. Italy deserved to progress to a Euro 2012 semi-final with Germany in Warsaw on Thursday. Some of Pirlo’s passing was sumptuous; he guided the ball around England’s half as if using satnav. He cherished the ball’s company whereas England, following a deceptively promising start, continued to surrender it cheaply.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Euro 2012 paper review: ‘The world has been turned on its head’
“The devilishly handsome model in the Zegna menswear advert may be too smouldering and intense to express much in the way of emotion, but elsewhere in La Repubblica joy is unconfined. Underneath their masthead, the Italy goalkeeper Gigi Buffon can be seen celebrating Italy’s Euro 2012 quarter-final penalty shootout win over England with team-mates Antonio Cassano and Daniele Di Rossi, among others.” Guardian

Three thoughts: Italy nips England for well-deserved berth in semis
“Here are three thoughts on Italy’s 0-0 win over England in penalty kicks: 1. Justice was done in the end. From the second minute of the match, when Daniele de Rossi struck a swerving shot from 30 yards out that cannoned off the inside of Joe Hart’s post, Italy might have felt it was not going to be its night. Mario Balotelli had a hat-trick of chances in the first half, the last of which a close-range toe-poke that was deflected over the crossbar, led him to kicking the goalpost in frustration. It was not so different in the second period, most of which Italy dominated.” SI

Redemption for England and Italy
“The exact role of coaches is a hotly debated topic in soccer. Is the sport like jazz in which the players use their creativity to improvise genius, with the coach merely there to provide the cut-away reaction shots the television cameras need to enhance the drama? Or is it akin to a symphony in which the coach is the conductor, a Bill Parcell-ian puppet master orchestrating every move?” ESPN (Video)

Euro 2012: Poland and Ukraine has given us excitement, new stars and the hallmarks of a classic tournament

Danny Welbeck
“If these Euros maintain their winning blend of technique and tempo, Poland and Ukraine may even eclipse events in Holland and Belgium for all-round entertainment. There is so much to celebrate. The dark arts of diving, dissent and dangerous tackling have been witnessed infrequently, a hugely welcome development. Refereeing standards have, by and large, been more than acceptable. Unexpected stars have lit up the night skies, including Alan Dzagoev, Mario Mandzukic, Danny Welbeck and Mathieu Debuchy.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

England 3-2 Sweden: long balls, set-pieces and terrible defending

Danny Welbeck, Andy Carroll
“A scrappy game low on quality, but high on entertainment. Roy Hodgson made one change. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was dropped with Ashley Young moving to the left, and Andy Carroll coming upfront as a target man. Erik Hamren brought in three players – Johan Elmander upfront, Anders Svensson in the middle, and Jonas Olsson at the back, though Sweden played pretty much the same formation as against Ukraine. This was a crazy, open match that could have gone either way – both sides had spells when they were on top.” Zonal Marking

England’s show of character
“Buzzwords in the England camp the past few days included ‘bold’ and ‘creative.’ For large parts against Sweden at the European Championships at an Olympic Stadium mostly bathed in yellow, England was anything but. However, an inspired substitution of Theo Walcott by manager Roy Hodgson will ensure most will only remember the result, a frenetic 3-2 England win that knocked the Scandinavians out of the tournament.” ESPN (Video)

Sweden 2 England 3: match report
“Danny Welbeck struck a goal of elegance, athleticism and immense significance for England, here on Friday night. It was a magical flicked finish, created by Theo Walcott, who helped turn a crazy game on its head with a vibrant second-half cameo. England were trailing 2-1 when Walcott arrived, swiftly equalising and then fashioning Welbeck’s winner with a superb darting run and cross. England were panicky at times late on but held on and now face hosts Ukraine in Donetsk on Tuesday knowing a draw sees Roy Hodgson’s side into the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Euro 2012: Danny Welbeck hits late winner as England beat Sweden
“There was a point here when all of England’s old failings had resurfaced and the match was straying dangerously close to an almost implausible ordeal. Sweden had turned the game upside-down with two goals early in the second half and, at that point, it looked like Roy Hodgson’s team might finish the evening at the bottom of Group D.” Guardian

France 1-1 England: France dominate possession but creativity stifled by England sitting deep

“A match with little invention, played at a very slow pace. Laurent Blanc chose his expected side in a 4-3-3, with Florent Malouda shuttling forward from the midfield. Roy Hodgson’s side contained one surprise name – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who started on the left. James Milner started on the other flank, and Danny Welbeck got the nod over Andy Carroll upfront. As expected, France dominated possession (65%) and had 21 shots compared to England’s 5, but many were from long-range, as Blanc’s side struggled to create clear-cut chances.” Zonal Marking

Three thoughts: England’s set play success forces draw with France
“1. England thrives with English goals. In the Balkans and perhaps elsewhere, a goal scored with a powerful header is known as an English goal. If that header comes from a set play, that makes it even more English (British, really, but in the Balkans comprehension of the distinction is blurry). So far in this tournament, that stereotype has proven to be true. Only two goals have been scored with one touch from a set play, and, appropriately, both were scored by players on English clubs: Sean St Ledger of Leicester City for Ireland and Joleon Lescott of Manchester City for England.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

France 1 England 1: match report
“Good point, average creativity. England were under sustained pressure towards the end of their opening Group D game but they held on and will take deserved satisfaction from this result, if not necessarily the display. It’s a good start though. The French were more technical, more assertive through the likes of Franck Ribery and their terrific right-back, Mathieu Debuchy, comfortably the man of the match. Uefa awarded the honour to Samir Nasri, who had brilliantly equalised Joleon Lescott’s header, but Debuchy really impressed most.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Euro 2012: Samir Nasri’s goal for France echoes England’s old failings
“New coach, but familiar pattern. England have scored before conceding at every international tournament they have competed at since 1990. Yet so often they lose that lead with a goal struck from a similar position. For years England’s weak zone has been the space between defence and midfield and it has constantly been their downfall in opening games. In 2000 the game-changer was Portugal’s Rui Costa, who got all three assists as England squandered a two-goal lead to lose 3-2. In 2004 Zinedine Zidane scored a superb free-kick after a clumsy Emile Heskey foul in that position. Two years ago Clint Dempsey turned past Frank Lampard’s poor challenge before his weak shot squirmed between Robert Green’s legs.” Guardian – Michael Cox

Not a bad start for England, France
“Not a win for England, but not a bad start. A team devoid of four regulars, including Wayne Rooney, showed grit, organization and calm to earn a 1-1 draw with tournament dark horse France, which extended its unbeaten streak to 22 games. Les Bleus won’t be disappointed, either. Neither team wanted to lose.” ESPN (Video)

England, France draw in Group D
“England held on for a 1-1 draw with France on Monday at the European Championship, giving the Group D favorites one point each. Joleon Lescott put England in the lead with a header in the 30th minute, and Samir Nasri leveled for France shortly before halftime with a strike into the bottom corner of the net. France still has not won a match at a major tournament since the 2006 World Cup. The national team, however, is unbeaten in its last 22 matches.” SI

Euro 2012: England humbled by Auschwitz pain and misery as Wayne Rooney vows it will never be forgotten

“Wayne Rooney and the England players kept coming back to the same photograph, the image of the SS doctor, Heinz Thilo, standing on the ramp at Birkenau and signalling whether the distressed, disorientated souls stumbling from railway wagons would work or go straight to the gas chambers.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Sacked Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish will never walk alone

“Kenny Dalglish walked away from Anfield yesterday but he knows he will never walk alone. For all the mistakes he made, for all the poor PR, misguided handling of the Luis Suárez saga and the meagre league form, Dalglish’s love affair with Liverpool will never end. He may have gone but the fans will still sing his name.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea: Chelsea do an Inter 2010

“Chelsea produced an astonishing defensive display – and still created chances – to progress to the Champions League final. Pep Guardiola made the surprising decision to drop Daniel Alves, bringing back Gerard Pique in defence. Isaac Cuenca was fielded on the wing, and Cesc Fabregas in an attacking central midfield role. Roberto Di Matteo named an unchanged XI from the side that won 1-0 in the first leg, and set out in the same shape.” Zonal Marking

Chelsea reach Champions League final as Fernando Torres has final word in 2-2 draw against Barcelona
“What a night. What a display of defiance from Chelsea after the dismissal of John Terry for kneeing Alexis Sánchez. To the delight of their fans up in the Gods, 10 men went to mow a meadow, and thrillingly, amazingly, they cut mighty Barcelona, the European champions, the team of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta down to size.” Telegraph – Henry Winter (Video)

Barcelona’s stunning failure to beat Chelsea: What does it all mean?
“Barcelona’s failure to beat misfiring, mismatched, misbegotten 10-man Chelsea was one of the most surprising and indeed troubling results in recent history. It calls into question everything we thought we knew about the sport. Pep Guardiola’s free-flowing tiki-taka merchants are supposed to be the greatest team on the planet, if not the greatest team in history. So what went wrong?” SI

Torres stuns Barcelona and books Chelsea into Champions League final
“There are many emotions inspired by Chelsea’s arrival in the final but, more than anything, it is sheer wonder. They refused to be cowed after John Terry’s red card and deserve their place in Munich on 19 May because of the heroism that went into a night of rare achievement and glory. As triumphs in adversity go, the night they went down to 10 men and knocked out Barcelona on their own ground will take some beating.” Guardian (Video)

Stoic Barcelona fans refuse to say that the Pep Guardiola era is over
“Something strange happened in the dying moments of the semi-final. Fernando Torres had just scored the goal that ended Barcelona’s hopes of reaching the European Cup final, his eighth in 11 matches against the Catalans. Defeated by Real Madrid in the league, relinquishing the title, Chelsea had now knocked them out of the Champions League. In four days, Barça had lost virtually everything. But no one left and no one whistled; no one stayed silent. Instead, the chant went up. Soon it was going round right the stadium: Ser del Barça és el millor que hi ha! Being Barça fans is the best thing there is!” Guardian

Guardiola decision imminent
“Pep Guardiola has revealed he plans to make a decision on his Barcelona future in the coming days. Barcelona have endured a hugely disappointing week, with the home defeat to Real Madrid on Saturday all but ending their hopes of winning the league and a 2-2 draw with Chelsea at the Camp Nou on Tuesday resulting in their exit from the Champions League.”

Barcelona stunned as Didier Drogba gives Chelsea Champions League hope with 1-0 first-leg victory

“It may not prove a knock-out blow but Drogba has given Chelsea a fighting chance, especially if they defend like this again. They travel to Catalonia next week refusing to pay homage. To the delight of their highly vocal fans, Chelsea’s defending was immense. This was not anti-football; few of the game’s dark arts stained Chelsea’s play, barring Drogba’s occasional theatricality. There was little shirt-pulling, no filthy challenges, no baulking. Chelsea just defended well. If this had been AC Milan, Inter Milan or anybody else from the land of catenaccio, the headlines would have bubbled with paeans for such defensive virtues.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Chelsea 1-0 Barcelona: Chelsea score the type of goal they were trying to score, and the type Barcelona were trying to prevent
“Didier Drogba’s goal in first half stoppage time gave Chelsea a surprise victory. Roberto Di Matteo brought in Raul Meireles, with Salomon Kalou dropping to the bench and Juan Mata moving wide. David Luiz was injured, so Gary Cahill played at centre-back, and Branislav Ivanovic at right-back. Pep Guardiola didn’t select Gerard Pique, electing to play Adriano at left-back, so Carles Puyol could play in the centre of defence alongside Javier Mascherano. Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas both started. Chelsea rode their luck and Barcelona squandered chances – but overall this was a very disciplined display from Chelsea, and an extremely impressive defensive performance.” Zonal Marking

Chelsea’s Golden Night: Barcelona Are Brought Down To Earth At Stamford Bridge
“They came,they saw and they kept possession as ever, but this time they couldn’t quite conquer. Barcelona arrived in West London this evening with the sound of a Spector-esque wall of praise ringing in their ears. They’re a great side. Indeed, if it is possible to draw comparisons across the different eras of the game, then they might just be the greatest of all time. Tonight, however, when they turned on the tap in the expectation of at least a trickle of goals, they found it to be blocked with a defensive performance so obdurate that it sometimes felt as if the Chelsea defenders were only one step away from bricking up Petr Cech’s goal and having done with it.” twohundredpercent

Drogba grabs winner as Chelsea beats Barca 1-0
“Didier Drogba swept the ball into the net late in the first half, and Chelsea managed to hang on. With an inspired performance, the Blues beat Barcelona 1-0 Wednesday night in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal and set up a must-see second leg of the total-goals series in Spain next week. Either Barcelona will move within a victory of becoming the first back-to-back winner in more than two decades, or Chelsea will have the opportunity to win Europe’s top club title for the first time.” SI

Chelsea v Barcelona: five talking points
“Barcelona had the more accomplished players against Chelsea but Roberto Di Matteo’s ‘perfect game’ was essentially ugly but effective” Guardian

From Ashley Young to Carlos Tevez to Hillsborough: how Twitter has transformed football

Venetian School, Francesco Guardi
“From Ashley Young’s unpopular testing of Newton’s theory of gravity at Old Trafford to some Chelsea fans’ ugly chants and Juan Mata’s ‘ghost goal’ at Wembley, Sunday demonstrated graphically how much the match-going experience has been transformed by the social-networking revolution.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Liverpool 2 – 1 Everton

“Liverpool’s much-maligned record signing Andy Carroll went some way to justifying his huge price with the goal which put his side into their first FA Cup final since 2006 and ended the dreams of Everton in the all-Merseyside encounter at Wembley. The £35million striker had endured a testing afternoon, heading one straightforward chance wide, but came up with the winner four minutes from time at Wembley.” ESPN

Five points on Liverpool 2-1 Everton
“Liverpool fought back from 1-0 down to book their place in the final. Kenny Dalglish went with Andy Carroll upfront and Luis Suarez behind. Jordan Henderson started on the right of a four-man midfield, and at the back Jamie Carragher was selected at centre-back, which meant Daniel Agger moving to left-back. David Moyes selected Magaye Gueye on the left of midfield, Darron Gibson in the centre of midfield, and Phil Neville at right-back. This was a rather poor game lacking in technical quality – the goals came from two huge defensive mistakes and then a set-piece. There were a few individual areas of interest, however…” Zonal Marking

Liverpool 2 Everton 1: In-Depth Tactical Analysis
“This was to be the fifth FA Cup semi-final between the two Merseyside giants. Everton won the first (in 1906), but Liverpool have progressed through the last three. No other fixture in FA Cup history has seen more than three semi-finals. On all three occasions Liverpool have beaten Everton in an FA Cup semi-final, the Reds have gone on to lose the final. [not so keen on that one Mihail – time to end that sequence] Liverpool and Everton have been drawn together 16 times before in FA Cup history, with The Reds emerging victorious on nine occasions and the Toffees on seven.” Tomkins Times

Liverpool’s ‘work in progress’ must translate into Premier League success, starting at Anfield
“A record of only five home wins, as many as QPR and Blackburn Rovers, is too poor for a club with a proud European past and enduring Champions League ambitions. As Kenny Dalglish observed on the day Liverpool reached the FA Cup final by beating neighbours Everton 2-1, his team remain a ‘work in progress’. They won on Saturday but it was a semi-final long on noise but short on technical poise, Luis Suárez apart. Overall, Liverpool have the framework of a decent team.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Robben plays party pooper

“Long to reign over us? Stuart Pearce’s grasping of the England nettle in his country’s hour of need has drawn both admirers and detractors, but any comfort in his tenure being extended was always likely to hinge on a positive result. Wanting the job will not be enough. Pre-match statements of intent can only fade into the shadow of defeat. Now, the clamour for Harry Redknapp will grow as a result of a victory from a clinical Dutch team, for whom anything beyond second gear was not required, even when England looked to have fought back for a 2-2 draw.” ESPN

England’s revival snuffed out by the brilliance of Arjen Robben in friendly against Holland at Wembley
“This was a mad end to another mad day in the England madhouse. From a shock choice as captain to a crazy finish, via some alarming naivety of play and an even more alarming sequence of injuries, England’s friendly defeat to Holland contained all manner of dramas.” Henry Winter (Video)

Milan 4-0 Arsenal: Milan make their strength count and win comfortably

“Milan thrashed Arsenal in an amazingly dominant performance. Max Allegri went for the usual diamond in midfield. Clarence Seedorf started on the left but went off injured quickly, and was replaced by Urby Emanuelson. Philippe Mexes started at centre-back, rather than Alessandro Nesta. Arsene Wenger picked two natural full-backs, with Kieran Gibbs fit enough to start, but not fit enough to complete the game. Tomas Rosicky was a surprising choice on the left of midfield.” Zonal Marking

Arsenal’s Champions League hopes shattered as Robinho scores twice for AC Milan
“Good players have not been properly replaced. Mikel Arteta for Cesc Fabregas? Not good enough. Wenger’s failure to invest properly last summer finally caught up with his team on Wednesday night. This was men against boys, heavyweights battering lightweights, a ruthless Serie A side ripping apart naive, nervous visitors from the Premier League. Arsenal were outpaced, out-thought and out-fought. There was no leadership, no energy, no boldness.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Zlatan Ibrahimovic inspires Milan to the perfect game
“If there was a football equivalent of a “perfect game” then AC Milan might have executed it. Unlike baseball though, it’d be qualitative because Milan didn’t overwhelmingly dominate in any of the main statistics – except shots – but their game-plan went perfectly according to plan to emphatically defeat Arsenal 4-0 in the 1st leg of the Champions League knock-out stage.” The Arsenal Column

Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool: United exploit the space around Spearing

Nicolas Poussin, Joshua’s Victory over the Amorites
“Two goals from Wayne Rooney took Manchester United to the top of the Premier League. Sir Alex Ferguson moved Ryan Giggs out to the left, bringing in Paul Scholes after his impressive cameo against Chelsea last weekend. Chris Smalling was out, so the defence picked itself. Despite Craig Bellamy and Andy Carroll enjoying a decent partnership in recent weeks, Kenny Dalglish picked neither and went with Luis Suarez upfront alone. Jose Enrique returned, so Glen Johnson went back to right-back.” Zonal Marking

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is walking alone in standing by Luis Suarez
“For those of us gathered here at Old Trafford yesterday for the latest outbreak of hostilities between Manchester United and Liverpool, Suárez’s behaviour was embarrassing to behold. The fires of enmity always burn between these ancient rivals but Suárez inflamed the mood further by refusing to shake the hand of Patrice Evra. Those tuning in across the planet were presented with the picture of Suárez offending further an opponent he had racially abused. For a club that prides itself on its renown around the world, those pictures were a PR disaster.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Taylor sickened by Suarez snub
“Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor says he feels ‘sick in my stomach’ after Luis Suarez caused further controversy by refusing to shake the hand of Patrice Evra on Saturday.” ESPN

Liverpool ‘misled’ as Luis Suárez says sorry for Evra handshake snub
“Liverpool have accused Luis Suárez of misleading the club, the striker has apologised for not shaking Patrice Evra’s hand and Kenny Dalglish has described his television interview with Sky as not befitting the conduct of a Liverpool manager as Anfield issued an unequivocally contrite response to the condemnation that followed their performance at Old Trafford.” Guardian

Wayne Rooney double beats Suárez and Liverpool for Manchester United
“Fighting in the tunnel at half-time is not really to be recommended as a stimulant, but it seemed to work like smelling salts on Manchester United, who took advantage of the quite unnecessary prolongment of the Luis Suárez affair to return to the top of the table through two goals in two minutes from Wayne Rooney.” Guardian

Sorry still seems to be the hardest word for Liverpool in Luis Suarez affair

“Kenny Dalglish and the club have done the right thing, electing not to appeal against Luis Suárez’s eight-game ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra, the real victim in all this. There was little chance of winning any reprieve for their Uruguayan for directing the word ‘negro’ at Evra.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish fears a Craig Bellamy agenda

“Dalglish believes that Bellamy did not deserve the bookings against Fulham, QPR, Aston Villa and Wigan Athletic. The Welshman, who faces his old club Blackburn Rovers at Anfield on Monday, has been in good form for Liverpool and the club would be loathe to lose him to suspension for a fifth caution. ‘He has been booked four times and he hasn’t deserved any of them,’ said Dalglish.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Fabio Capello a lost soul looking for a new leader in English football’s moral maze

“The contrast with the calm demeanour and technical calibre of this week’s opponents, Spain, the champions of the world and fine ambassadors for the sport, must be painful for Capello to behold. As he outlined his views on the England squad yesterday, and particularly sought to justify his inclusion of John Terry but not Rio Ferdinand, the Italian was again accompanied by an interpreter; what he really needs is a guide to steer him through the moral maze of English football.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

QPR’s Anton Ferdinand must speak up in row with Chelsea’s John Terry, says Lord Ouseley

“Anton Ferdinand, the QPR defender, should “demonstrate courage”, remember the sacrifices black players made in the past and state publicly what he believes Chelsea’s John Terry allegedly said to him, according to Lord Ouseley, chairman of the Kick It Out anti-racism campaign group and a Football Association Council member.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Man United 1-6 Man City: City turn a dominant performance into a historic thrashing

Aurora, The Goddess of Dawn, Guido Reni
“City crafted a clever first half advantage over United, then were rampant after half time. Sir Alex Ferguson went with the 4-4-2ish shape he’s favoured this season (but moved away from last weekend at Liverpool). There was no Nemanja Vidic, nor Phil Jones at the back. Danny Welbeck was alongside Wayne Rooney. Roberto Mancini had to replace Nigel de Jong with Yaya Toure (though this might have contributed to the fluidity of his side), and used Mario Balotelli rather than Edin Dzeko as the main striker.” Zonal Marking

Mario Balotelli sets Manchester City ablaze at Manchester United
“Manchester United must endure a result that will figure in the lore of this fixture for generations. The red card in the 46th minute for Jonny Evans, after he had pulled back Mario Balotelli, was damaging, but Manchester City already held a 1-0 lead by then. While the hosts went on to trim a growing deficit to 3-1 with an impeccably directed drive from Darren Fletcher, that simply galvanised City. They struck three times more in the closing minutes, two of the goals coming from the substitute Edin Dzeko, with a David Silva strike to separate them.” Guardian

Manchester United 1 Manchester City 6: match report
“By the end of the Demolition Derby, Manchester City fans were convulsed with joy, revelling in the sight of the majestic David Silva putting the champions to the sword, serenading Sir Alex Ferguson with “getting sacked in the morning” and designing their “Six and the City” T-shirts. Incredible. The noisy neighbours just marched into Manchester United’s back yard and staged their own party. Roberto Mancini brought a bottle of wine.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United: little technical quality in open play, goals from set-pieces

“A poor first half was followed with a more positive second, but neither side stamped their authority on the game. Kenny Dalglish went with the expected side – Steven Gerrard returned to play just behind Luis Suarez, with Dirk Kuyt in the side on the right. Sir Alex Ferguson’s line-up was far from expected – he used Phil Jones in midfield, with Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Nani all on the bench. Liverpool probably had the better of the game – 15 shots (to United’s 11), five on target (to United’s two) and more clear-cut chances. The overall tactical battle was uninteresting, however – static, pedestrian and cautious for the majority of the 90 minutes.” Zonal Marking

Ferguson shuffles his pack at Anfield
“By the end, Sir Alex Ferguson had reverted to type. He had introduced attacker after attacker, seen Manchester United score the latest in a long line of late goals and witnessed and withstood an eventful finale. Quintessential Ferguson? Perhaps, but earlier he had illustrated he is the oldest chameleon in the business. The advocate of experience doubles up as a champion of youth, the apostle of all-out attack venturing into the realms of the defensive strategist. United, the side with 14 goals in three previous games against title rivals, opted for Operation Stifle.” ESPN

Liverpool have good day at the office as owners seek an equitable life
“Until this week there was the sense of it being one long handshake – one big nod to the Kop tradition – but now Liverpool’s new owners are getting down to business, coveting a larger share of overseas TV rights and bemoaning the cost of modern players.” Guardian

Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney show why they must both take their place on plane to Poland
“Ever since Rooney’s eviction from a rain-lashed field in Montenegro nine days ago, Welbeck’s star has risen higher and higher. He started against Liverpool, a delight to those United fans who viewed the “19” on his back as a reminder to their hosts of Old Trafford’s title collection. Capello has confirmed Welbeck will feature prominently during England’s ensuing friendlies as the coach seeks the “solution” to Rooney’s absence for the group stage in Poland and Ukraine. Only 20, Welbeck signalled his promise with a selfless 90 minutes.” Telegraaph – Henry Winter

Brian Glanville on the importance to England of Wayne Rooney

“And so: no Rooney. Not at the beginning of the European finals which now may or may not take part in disorganised Ukraine as well as Poland. Nor the ensuing friendly at Wembley against Spain. A match from which Fabio Capello has logically enough excluded him.” World Soccer

Euro 2012: Wayne Rooney’s three-match ban a major headache for Fabio Capello
“The nightmare deepens. Rooney has been banned for the group stage of Euro 2012 and England’s manager, Fabio Capello, faces the biggest decision of his tenure over whether to select somebody who could prove only a tourist at the tournament. Rooney was said to be ‘shocked and disappointed’ at the three-game ban. Capello himself was understood to be ‘stunned’ when the news from Nyon was broken to him, a reflection on his conviction that Rooney would receive only 90 minutes in purdah and how grievously he felt the lengthened loss of such a talent. Yet this largely unlovable Italian is not paid £6 million a year to clamber on to the nearest window-ledge at the first hint of adversity.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Fabio Capello has to make big decision over Wayne Rooney for Euro 2012
“Fabio Capello has been forced to consider leaving Wayne Rooney out of his squad for Euro 2012 after Uefa’s control and disciplinary body handed the England striker a three-match ban that will rule him out of the group stage of next summer’s tournament in Poland and Ukraine.” Guardian

Montenegro 2 – 2 England

Jacques-Louis David, The Intervention of the Sabine Women
“Wayne Rooney was sensationally sent off for the second time in his England career to spoil what should have been the celebration of reaching Euro 2012. First-half goals from Ashley Young and Darren Bent were enough to claim a draw against a Montenegro side who were rampant in the second half following Elsad Zverotic’s deflected effort in stoppage time before the break, and they levelled at the end through Andrija Delibasic to grab a play-off berth. But the journey home for England was spoiled by Rooney’s red.” ESPN

Montenegro 2 England 2: match report
“On a stormy night in the Balkans, England made desperately heavy weather of reaching Euro 2012, receiving a timely wake-up call about the work required before next summer, also receiving a painful reminder that Wayne Rooney can still walk on the wild side. No excuses for Rooney. No expectations for England. As the rain lashed down, goals from Ashley Young and Darren Bent put Fabio Capello’s side in charge but poor concentration allowed Elsad Zverotic and then Andrija Delibasic to underline the reality that England are only a qualified success.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Montenegro or bust: England must be wary of an in-form striker
“England: beware Mirko Vucinic! He has a penchant for scoring goals against English sides; as he showed when he was playing up front for Roma. Now the Montenegro striker is playing up front with great success for Juventus and had an outstanding match last weekend when Juve beat Milan in Turin. Just turned 27, Vucinic was the perfect all round lone ranger, linking cleverly with his midfielders, well able to hold the ball up, as well as to strike for goal.” World Soccer

Self-harming England give Fabio Capello plenty to ponder
“Fabio Capello must now prepare not for one European Championship, but two. At some point in the group stage – after one game or two if Uefa extends the punishment – the England coach will have to take his team sheet for the start of the tournament and rip it up, to allow for the return of Wayne Rooney, who was dismissed against Montenegro for a lamentable loss of self-control.” Guardian

Euro 2012: Five lessons Fabio Capello can learn from World Cup failure
“1. Avoid a repeat of the claustrophobic training camp in Rustenburg. England and Fabio Capello appear to have learned from their experiences in South Africa, where their choice of base – the isolated, if plush, Royal Bafokeng complex on the outskirts of Rustenburg – prompted the familiar complaints of mind-numbing tedium from his squad.” <a href=”

Liverpool 1 – 1 Sunderland

“Striker Luis Suarez gave Liverpool the perfect start to their season but they wasted the opportunity to press home their advantage as they were pegged back by Sunderland. With £49 million worth of new signings on the pitch there was a feeling of optimism around Anfield and it was therefore fitting Suarez, the January acquisition who ignited the second half of last season, should score the first goal of the new Premier League campaign.” ESPN

Henry Winter: Liverpool’s new boys appear ready for the Anfield revolution
“Sometimes it can take time for new players to settle. In that feted Liverpool side, Peter Beardsley really shone only after Christmas. As Aldridge looked down from the radio box yesterday, and Dalglish attempted to marshal his resources from the dug-out, Liverpool’s new boys sought to live up to a famous tradition. Unlike in 1987-88, it will not happen overnight. Time, gentlemen, please.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Downing on the right? Meirelles on the left? The spirit of Rafa Benitez lives on…
“One of the most maddening things about Liverpool under Rafa Benitez was his frustrating penchant for playing square pegs in round holes (Peter Crouch on the left-wing, anyone?). After today’s disappointing draw with Sunderland, let’s hope history is not going to repeat itself under Kenny Dalglish. I grew up idolising Dalglish so I wouldn’t presume to question the King’s tactics; however, I just can’t understand the decision to move Downing to the right and play Raul Meirelles on the left wing for the last part of the game.” Liverpool Kop

Liverpool 1-1 Sunderland: Suarez Penalty Miss Proves Costly
“It’s the start of a new season, and for a soccer fan in America, it means setting the alarm extra early (or waking up on your own two hours early, shaking with excitement), putting on a pot of coffee, playing the appropriate tunes, and participating in rabid Twitter discussions on the coming match. The first one of the season is always special, as it seems to se the tone for at least the first half of the season.” EPL Talk

Andy Carroll still looking to let out his inner monster for Liverpool
“In January’s great striker sale, £85m worth of goalscoring talent passed through Anfield. Fernando Torres went out for £50m and Andy Carroll came in to break the record fee for an English footballer. There is no certainty of a return on either splurge. Starting a new campaign in the No9 jersey, Carroll was sometimes lumbering, off-target with his heading and often loose in his distribution of the ball. This is not to say that the £35m bank-transferred from Liverpool to Newcastle United is already burning around the edges. Plenty of good judges say this giant pony-tailed bruiser is England’s next top-class centre-forward.” Guardian

Liverpool 1-1 Sunderland
“Liverpool started off with an excellent first half performance – dominating possession, attacking and defending at a high tempo which Sunderland couldn’t cope with. Suarez missed a penalty he himself had won – Richardson brought him down – before heading in Adam’s freekick. The second half was not good enough – Liverpool were too deep and couldn’t keep the ball. Maybe due to the first half effort, the high tempo tired the players out, resulting in a much slower second half. It could have been a very different outcome had Richardson been sent off and if Carroll’s goal had stood in the first half.” Footy Room – Video

FC Barcelona: Culminating With a Dream

“This season has seen FC Barcelona reach what must surely be the pinnacle of the quite remarkable cycle of success that this team has enjoyed since the appointment of Pep Guardiola in 2008. Playing a style of football that is as effective as it is beautiful, Barcelona have mastered both patient passing when with the ball and relentlessly energetic pressing without, their beguiling proficiency seeing them repeatedly outclass the rest of Europe.” The Equaliser – Video

Style and Stylelessness
“Some last-minute thoughts . . . Last year I wrote something about styles and stylelessness in soccer, and I’m thinking about that again as the Champions League final approaches. Everyone knows, because fifty articles a day say so, that Barcelona has a very distinctive style of play. You can name it and describe it, and you can see clearly when other sides try to imitate it. Xavi may be the perfect embodiment of the style, but it’s bigger than he is, and everyone knows it. Whenever Victor Valdés starts a Barça possession not with an aimless punt but with a sharp clean pass to Piqué or Busquets, the crowd at Camp Nou cheers. ‘Even our keeper plays the Barça way!'” Run of Play

Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United: Barcelona are European Champions
“Goals from each of Barcelona’s front three gave Pep Guardiola’s side victory at Wembley. Sir Alex Ferguson named his recent ‘big game’ XI – which meant Javier Hernandez upfront with Wayne Rooney behind, and Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick in the centre of midfield. The biggest surprise was Dimitar Berbatov not even being on the bench. Guardiola was able to call on Eric Abidal at left-back, but not Carles Puyol at centre-back, so Javier Mascherano started in defence after all. The overall pattern was not completely different from the 2009 final. United enjoyed a good opening few minutes, but were then the poorer side for the rest of the contest.” Zonal Marking

Barcelona outclasses Man United with a performance for the ages
“Surely now the doubters have been won over: this Barcelona is one of the greatest teams there has ever been. In Pep Guardiola’s three seasons in charge Barca has twice won the Champions League, and it was denied a hat trick that would have placed it statistically alongside the Ajax and Bayern Munich sides of the seventies only by the combined might of Jose Mourinho and an Icelandic volcano.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Lionel Messi the little master offers timely reminder of the beautiful game as Barcelona thrill
“This was the sort of spellbinding performance from Barcelona, and particularly their wonderful Argentine magician, that makes even cynics fall back in love with football. Pass and move, move and score. Bewitching. For a sport dogged by negative headlines, the club season climaxed with a celebration of the sport’s oft-hidden virtues. The spotlight turns to Fifa today, and the judgment of the Ethics Committee on recent shenanigans, but here was a reminder of what the game should be about. Not greed. Just glory. Just a love of the ball’s company, a passion for guiding it past opponents.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Brilliant Barcelona are a high point in football’s evolution
“In the buildup to this final, the BBC debated who was the greatest of all club football sides and settled on the Real Madrid team who won the first five European Cups from 1956 to 1960. There was unanimity in favour of Puskas, Di Stéfano and Gento: white-jerseyed enemies to the people of Catalonia. Study the tapes of those Real Madrid XIs and you see skill, exuberance, thrust and machismo; a regal confidence across the team. You also register a wholly different version of football in which possession is easily surrendered and defending often laissez-faire. The greatest of all Real’s early triumphs – the 7-3 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in 1960 – was a goal avalanche impossible to imagine in a Champions League final today.” Guardian – Paul Hayward

Prized Possession for Barcelona: Champions League Title
“LONDON — With the fans at one end of Wembley Stadium singing and dancing, and those at the other sulking and leaving, the public-address announcer made the most obvious of proclamations: Barcelona was the winner of the Champions League.” NYT

Barca vs. Man United player grades
“Reviewing the individual performances in the 2011 Champions League final (players graded on a scale of 1-10)…” SI

Barcelona 3 – 1 Manchester United
“For the second time in three years, brilliant Barcelona denied Manchester United Champions League glory with a sensational performance at Wembley. Although United could take some small consolation from the knowledge they were more effective than that 2009 letdown in Rome and even managed to level Pedro’s first-half strike through Wayne Rooney, once again the better team won. On the ground where the Catalans lifted their first European Cup, Lionel Messi also laid his personal ghost to rest, scoring his first goal for Barcelona on English soil, belting home what proved to be the winner nine minutes into the second half.” ESPN

FC Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United – Extended Fox Sports Video Highlights
Extended Fox Sports video

FC Barcelona Trophy Celebrations After Winning 2011 UEFA Champions League
Video highlights of the trophy celebration by FC Barcelona on May 28, 2011

Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid: Barca progress

Pedro, David Villa
“Barcelona rarely looked under real pressure and completed a 3-1 aggregate victory. Pep Guardiola named the expected XI – Andres Iniesta returned from injury to replace Seydou Keita. Javier Mascherano continued at centre-back, with Carles Puyol at left-back. Jose Mourinho switched to his 4-2-3-1 system but made two surprise selections. Kaka was in ahead of Mesut Ozil, whilst Gonzalo Higuain started upfront. Mourinho was not in attendance at the stadium (as far as is known at time of publishing) so assistant Aitor Karanka was in charge for the night.” Zonal Marking

Barcelona 1 – 1 Real Madrid
“Barcelona comfortably advanced to the Champions League final following a 1-1 draw at home to fierce rivals Real Madrid at Camp Nou. Following a completely one-sided first half in which Madrid keeper Iker Casillas kept his side in the game, Pedro gave Pep Guardiola’s team the lead nine minutes into the second period.” ESPN

Barcelona 1 Real Madrid 1: match report
“For those who came to the Nou Camp expecting a fight, a football match broke out, a decent one. After all the play-acting and name-calling, this was an El Clasico more worthy of the name, ending with the best player on the planet, Lionel Messi, a zephyr with the ball, heading towards Wembley. There were still noises off, squalls of complaints, particularly about the embarrassing Javier Mascherano, who again auditioned for panto, but this was a far less heated affair than earlier episodes of the Antics Road Show.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Barcelona hold off Real Madrid threat to reach Champions League final
“The last instalment of a four-match, 18-day scorpion dance that became nastier by the hour was a proper contest in which Real Madrid recovered their attacking urges but Barcelona advanced to a probable meeting with Manchester United in the Champions League final at Wembley. ‘This has been one of the most beautiful nights I have ever lived,’ said Pep Guardiola, the Barça coach.” Guardian

FC Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid (El Clasico) – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Champions League
The 90th Minute

Henry Winter: Cristiano Ronaldo’s plight highlighted by Manchester United’s latest fantasy football show

“When Real Madrid ran out to warm up before Hell Clásico last Wednesday, 10 of Jose Mourinho’s players strode en masse to the far side for some final drills, almost like soldiers filing at speed on to a parade ground.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona: two goals for Messi

“Lionel Messi scored a poacher’s strike and then a superb solo effort to give Barcelona a major advantage in the tie. Jose Mourinho named his expected side – Lassana Diarra was in for Sami Khedira, whilst Raul Albiol came in for the suspended Ricardo Carvalho. Pep Guardiola also chose the side expected in the preview. Carles Puyol returned from injury to fill in at left-back, whilst Seydou Keita replaced the injured Andres Iniesta. The game was scrappy, dirty and not particularly pleasing on the eye. For much of the contest, the objective of both sides seemed to be to get opposition players sent off, rather than actually try to score a goal. Tactically, it wasn’t fascinating for long periods.” Zonal Marking

Jose Mourinho claims Barcelona benefit from refereeing conspiracy after stormy Champions League loss
“Mourinho made mention of four officials: Anders Frisk, who he claimed received a half-time visit from Frank Rijkaard, the then Barcelona coach, in 2005; Tom Henning Ovrebo, who turned down a succession of Chelsea penalty claims against Barcelona in 2009; Massimo Busacca, who sent off Arsenal’s Robin van Persie at Camp Nou this season, and Wolfgang Stark, who showed a red card to Real’s Pepe on Wednesday. Mourinho was also expelled.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Real Madrid 0 Barcelona 2: match report
“Two moments of beauty stood out amidst the beastliness of the Game of Shame last night. Two moments of magic from Lionel Messi, his second goal echoing Diego Maradona’s dribbled gem against England in 1986, rescued this match from the dark ages. Clasico, crasico. But for Messi remembering that football should be about joy, adventure and imagination, and Xavi also playing with style, this was the game that dignity forgot. There was no respect, no charm, no integrity.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Messi puts Barca on brink of Wembley
“Lionel Messi struck twice late on as Barcelona took a huge step towards the Champions League final with a 2-0 semi-final, first leg win over 10-man Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. Messi, taking his tally to 52 in all competitions this season, netted in the 76th and 87th minutes – the second a typically brilliant solo effort – to settle an ill-tempered clash which saw Madrid defender Pepe sent off in the 61st minute.” ESPN

Barcelona and Real face UEFA action
“Both Barcelona and Real Madrid will face disciplinary proceedings from UEFA after their tempestuous Champions League semi-final first-leg tie at the Bernabeu. Barcelona won the game 2-0 thanks to two goals from Lionel Messi, but the clash was littered with unsportsmanlike behaviour, diving and fights. After the match, Real boss Jose Mourinho (who had been sent to the stands during the game for comments made to the fourth official) then launched into a tirade about the influence that the Catalan side have over European football.” ESPN

Negative Soccer Mars Real Madrid vs Barcelona Semi-Final
“Thank goodness the embarrassing spectacle of Real Madrid against Barcelona in the Champions League was played out in the semi-final of the tournament instead of the finale. The first leg of the semi-final was an example of everything that people hate about soccer. Barcelona players crowding the referee on several occasions to influence his decision. Players exaggerating contact. Poor refereeing decisions. The referee stopping and starting the game seemingly every few minutes. Off the pitch pushing and shoving. This is not what soccer is about. This was anti-soccer.” EPL Talk – Video

Champions League press reaction: ‘Mourinho has perverted history’
“If José Mourinho was feeling disgusted after Barcelona’s controversial 2-0 victory over his Real Madrid team, the Spanish press contained little to soothe his feelings. While figures from both sides offered predictably opposed views about the dismissal of Pepe which had such a major effect on the Champions League semi-final first leg at the Bernabéu, most commentators took a dim view of the Portuguese coach’s approach to the game and his complaints afterwards.” Guardian

Real Madrid 0-2 FC Barcelona – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Champions League
The 90th Minute

Schalke 0-2 Manchester United: Schalke torn apart by United’s passing and movement

“Manchester United were superior throughout the 90 minutes and could have won by a much greater margin.
Ralf Rangnick was without Benedikt Höwedes at the back, which meant Joel Matip had to play at centre-back. Other than that, it was the expected team in the expected formation. Sir Alex Ferguson omitted Nani to play Antonio Valencia on the right, and played Fabio behind him. The side was the same as the XI that started against Chelsea, with the exception of one Brazilian twin in for the other.” Zonal Marking

Schalke 0 Manchester United 2: match report
“Manchester United are so close to Wembley they can see the traffic. They moved to within touching distance of the final of the Champions League with a performance that was so mature, so mesmerizing that it must rank up there with their greatest ever.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

United dismantle Schalke to close in on final
“Barring an unlikely Schalke victory at Old Trafford next week, Manchester United will contest the Champions League final at Wembley on May 28 after a one-sided encounter in Germany. Ryan Giggs and the outstanding Wayne Rooney scored United’s goals in a two-minute second-half spell in the semi-final first leg at the Vetlins-Arena. Prior to that, though, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men had wasted an astonishing 13 chances to score – 11 of them coming before the break.” ESPN

Schalke 0-2 Manchester United – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Champions League
The 90th Minute

Henry Winter: Jose Mourinho’s rivalry with Pep Guardiola is the stuff of soap opera

“When they first ran into each other, Mourinho was assisting Bobby Robson while Guardiola was Barcelona captain and darling. Staff versus family, outsider versus insider: as Mourinho’s world collides with Guardiola’s again, a past dynamic underpins the present drama. As Mourinho prepares a Champions League ambush for Guardiola’s side in the Bernabéu this Wednesday, some of the energy fuelling his astonishing career surely stems from a desire to prove himself to Barcelona, whose faithful still deride him as ‘The Translator’.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool: amazing late drama

Kenny Dalglish
“Robin van Persie broke the record for the latest-ever Premier League goal…then Dirk Kuyt broke it again. Alex Song was only fit enough for the bench, so Arsene Wenger played Abou Diaby and Jack Wilshere in the centre of midfield. Theo Walcott came in for Andrei Arshavin. Kenny Dalglish named his expected side, although he had to make two like-for-like changes because of injury during the game – both Fabio Aurelio and Jamie Carragher were forced off. Amongst the crazy few final moments, the main tactical story from this game was simple – Arsenal struggled to break down a disciplined Liverpool defence.” Zonal Marking

Late penalty drama rocks Gunners
“Arsenal saw their Premier League title hopes all but extinguished in a dramatic 1-1 draw with Liverpool. Dirk Kuyt secured a point for the Reds with a penalty after 10 minutes of injury time – just moments after Robin van Persie’s own spot-kick had looked enough for victory. The Gunners are now six point points behind leaders Manchester United having played the same amount of games.” ESPN

Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1: match report
“And that is why Arsenal remain beautiful bridesmaids. And that is why Arsenal, for all their individual elegance, for all their collective style, will not be champions of the Premier League. Manchester United would have seen this game out, protecting their lead with their lives. And that is why United are destined to lift the trophy.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool – MOTD – Sunday, April 17, 2011
The 90th Minute

Black Stars light up Wembley

“Sir Alex Ferguson should try telling Ghana fans that international friendlies are a “waste of time”. A day after the Manchester United boss also labelled the fixtures “worthless”, 21,000 ecstatic Black Stars supporters celebrated Asamoah Gyan’s last-gasp Wembley equaliser as though it had erased all the heartache of last summer’s World Cup quarter-final exit in an instant.” ESPN

England fans are given a glimpse of the future by Fabio Capello
“The pace of change is quickening in this England side, and though Andy Carroll may not be swift in his current half-fit state, the country’s most expensive home-born footballer led the way in an entertaining friendly with his first international goal. A B-team went home with an A for enterprise.” Guardian

England 1 Ghana 1: match report
“Fabio Capello may have 100 words to elucidate his tactical vision but Asamoah Gyan had the final word. Just when England looked to have secured a good victory through Andy Carroll, Gyan equalised brilliantly in the dying moments of one of the finest friendlies in living memory.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

England 1-1 Ghana – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – Friendly
The 90th Minute

Deeper Running Problems?

“One of the supposed benefits of Roy Hodgson’s arrival was his ability to get closer to players and re-invigorate their on the pitch performances. Despite what he has eluded to, or (some of) Fleet Street will spout, we do have a squad of players and certainly a first XI which should be competing for fourth place – as a minimum.” Invincible Bastion

Henry Winter: Kenny Dalglish would want Liverpool manager’s job long-term if successful at Anfield
“The manager, Roy Hodgson, is struggling, retaining the faith of the dressing room but patently not the majority of the Kop nor the owners. The former manager, Kenny Dalglish, would readily accept caretaker duties should Hodgson be sacked, giving the board six months to locate a long-term successor. Liverpool’s most famous name would want to be considered permanently if he revitalised the team. It’s complicated in L4. With the fans so full-throated, Anfield risks becoming Animal Farm.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Ralf Rangnick: Hoffenheim’s loss could be Liverpool’s gain
“The rumour mill has been fully operational lately as the transfer window opens and management changes become a seemingly hourly occurrence. Terry Duffelen has been interested by one in particular as a coach from the Bundesliga has been increasingly linked with a move to England to manage in the Premier League.” two footed tackle


“I hugely resent the management’s suggestions that I have been unduly influenced by others,” said Tevez. “I am disappointed that the management should now see fit to try to portray the situation in another light.” Run of Play

Henry Winter: Manchester City must remember that the club is bigger than any one player – including Carlos Tévez
“Adios, amigo, and thanks for all the goals. If Carlos Tévez leaves for Real Madrid, there can be no doubt that Manchester City and the Premier League would be a poorer place without the sparkling little Argentine. Eastlands and English football would, however, be a better place without his agent, Kia Joorabchian.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti says Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard is among best in the world

“‘Diego Maradona,’ came the bold claim from Roy Hodgson, Gerrard’s manager at Liverpool. ‘Giancarlo Antonioni, Rainer Bonhof and Wolfgang Overath,’ came Friday’s verdict of Carlo Ancelotti, whose Chelsea visit Gerrard’s lair on Sunday. Praise indeed. All four have won World Cups.” (Telegraph – Henry Winter)

England manager Fabio Capello snubs Joe Cole for Euro 2012 qualifying matches

“The variety and skills offered by the new Liverpool player have been overlooked with the England manager instead selecting five wingers, including Shaun Wright-Phillips and Ashley Young. In another surprising move, Capello has picked Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe, despite the Tottenham Hotspur pair being doubtful with injuries. Capello wants them to report to The Grove at 4pm today, when Crouch’s rib problem and Defoe’s hernia complaint will be assessed.” (Telegraph – Henry Winter)

Tottenham Hotspur take their seat at Michel Platini’s grandest party

“The competition’s anthem is a stirring call to arms, a signature tune for excellence and, as Spurs fans will soon appreciate, the opening bars to an extraordinary symphony conducted with a baton of iron by Uefa. Briefly deemed under the sway of greedy clubs, the Champions League is now utterly ruled by Michel Platini, the Uefa president.” (Telegraph – Henry Winter)

World Cup 2010: Henry Winter diary part 1

“June 3: Pride before a fall. England swan into town and the locals start dancing. They’ll soon be laughing, but for now respect fills warm air of the savannah at the Bafokeng Sports Campus outside Rustenburg. Even the king of the Bafokeng tribe turns up to greet Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand. The noble warrior does well to get close. England are surrounded by heavy security as they disgorge from a battle-bus emblazoned with the slogan ‘Playing With Pride And Glory’’. Someone obviously has a sense of humour. A nearby building would be better suited to hosting England — the Phokeng Trauma Centre.” (Telegraph – Henry Winter, Part 1), (Telegraph – Henry Winter, Part 2), (Telegraph – Henry Winter, Part 3)

Henry Winter Interview: World Cup, Premier League and Custard Creams

“EPL Talk’s Laurence McKenna had an opportunity recently to sit down with Henry Winter, one of the most accomplished English football authors and writers in the United Kingdom. Just minutes before the England versus Mexico friendly at Wembley, McKenna had a chat with Henry Winter, outside the hallowed Wembley Stadium, about several fascinating topics revolving around the World Cup, England national team and the Premier League including…” (EPL Talk)