October 9, 2006
With England deciding to crap the bed against Macedonia, the media focus has turned to Wayne Rooney’s inability to score for his national team. The Manchester United striker has not scored in two years, which is all the more disappointing to him considering Peter Crouch’s record year in an England shirt.
Scotland secured a famous 1-0 win over France at Hampden Park on Gary Caldwell’s header. Despite that, there are problems within the squad. Lokomotiv Moscow striker Garry O’Connor is not only homesick, but he has jeopardized his international career by not joining up with the squad in Ukraine.
Wales were emphatically destroyed by Slovakia, but at least Craig Bellamy’s assault trial was pushed back in their only good bit of news.
An inept defensive display by the Republic of Ireland saw them leave Cyprus on the wrong end of a 5-2 scoreline. Steve Staunton will be lucky to be in the job much longer after making Cyprus’ attacking displays look like Barcelona.
Italy finally got their qualifying campaign going with a 2-0 win over Ukraine, and the pressure is increasing on Marco van Basten after the Netherlands’ 1-1 draw in Bulgaria.
A recap of club action around the world after the jump.
October 4, 2006
As I search for a new name to call this that actually has some originality, here is that same daily item.
Alan Pardew is learning that you actually need to be winning matches in order to have influence over a club. [Sporting Life]
David Dein is now the most powerful man in the organization that fights against international football and Chelsea. [Eurosport]
Hidetoshi Nakata will not be coming out of retirement to play for amateur side Auckland City in the FIFA Club World Championship. [Sky Sports]
Fernando Gago wants to join Real Madrid just days after scoring his first for Boca Juniors. [International Herald Tribune]
Miroslav Klose wants to move to a bigger club outside of Germany, Premiership clubs surely interested. [Soccer365]
September 22, 2006
Celtic v. Rangers – It’s the first Old Firm derby of the season, and it is when it is at its best, before they play each other for the fifth time in the season. Celtic are beginning to run away with the title with their four point edge on the Gers, and apparently Paul Le Guen has no idea who to pick for this crucial match.
Catania v. Messina – Newly promoted Catania looks to continue their good start to life in Serie A against the second best team in the league and in Sicily in Messina. Christian Rigano and Giorgio Corona will probably find their way onto the scoresheet in this one.
Cerro Porteno v. Nacional – The weekly Unofficial World Club Championship is up for its weekly defense as the Tricolor of Nacional look to keep it against the side that held it for three months in Cerro Porteno, who also happen to be leading the Clausura.
Chicago Fire v. Los Angeles Galaxy – Landycakes and the Galaxy could be eliminated from playoff contention if results do not go in their favor on Saturday, while Chicago sits and waits for New England to be confirmed as the third place team in the East.
Barcelona v. Valencia – This is a huge match in La Liga this weekend as they will battle to see who can stay with a Sevilla side who have won their last nine league matches over two seasons. Valencia have key injuries while Barcelona have the nothing of the sort to worry about.
September 12, 2006
Roy Keane really goes out on a limb with this prediction. [BBC]
Ben Thatcher’s Elbow of Mass Destruction was worth a 12 match ban. [Sky Sports]
Marek Heinz has found a home at Saint-Etienne after leaving Galatasaray in the summer. [Soccerway]
A ballboy scored a late equalizer in the dying moments of a match in Sao Paulo. [The Offside]
While Freddy Adu may score some decent goals, the announcer gives a masterclass in how not to do his job with his reaction. [YouTube]
September 8, 2006
Atletico Madrid v. Valencia – Two teams expected to contend for the title battle it out at the Vicente Calderon. Sergio Aguero picked up an injury in training this week and will be on the bench, while Mista looks to get revenge on the team that thought he was not good enough after scoring 19 goals for Valencia three seasons ago. Joaquin and Maniche could make their debuts for the visitors. One would expect a few goals in this match.
Derby County v. Sunderland – Roy Keane makes his managerial debut at Pride Park. Only Dwight Yorke out of his six late signings will not make their debut against the Rams as Sunderland looks to escape the relegation zone in the Championship.
Fiorentina v. Inter Milan – The Nerazzuri begin their defense of the Scudetto against strugglers Fiorentina. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Hernan Crespo should be among the Inter players making their debuts, while Adrian Mutu will partner Luca Toni in attack for the Viola.
Rimini v. Juventus – The long road back to Serie A begins for strugglers Juventus. They are already many, many points behind their newly-promoted hosts Rimini. At least the Bianconeri get to start in one of the most scenic locations in world football.
Nacional v. Tacuary – The Tricolor get to defend the Unofficial World Club Championship against an unpredictable Tacuary side. The sides sit 5th and 4th respectively in the Apertura table, so it could go either way.
September 5, 2006
European Pub Teams?
The talk after the weekend of Euro 2008 qualifiers is including a qualifying round for the weaker teams in the confederation. Talk of Andorra, 5-0 losers to England, and the Faroe Islands, 6-0 losers to Scotland, struggling against pub teams is probably overstated.
The argument ranges from giving the poor little countries a chance to win some matches. The counterargument being that it gives them a chance to improve even if they might never qualify for a major tournament.
Estonia is a good argument for the latter. In their first 20 competitive matches, the managed a single point with a -58 goal difference in 1994 World Cup and Euro 96 qualification. Ten years later, Estonia finished off a World Cup qualifying effort with 17 points and a -1 goal difference in 12 matches. Of course they may be the exception to the rule.
The Rest of the Qualifiers
In a week in which 20% of the matches had any interest in the eyes of Arsene Wenger, the results went the way of the favorites for the most part. There were a couple of surprises, though.
A Jari Litmanen brace and a third from Mika Vayrynen gave Finland a shock 3-1 win in Poland. Iceland cruised to a 3-0 win in Northern Ireland. Most shocking of all was Italy’s 1-1 draw against Lithuania.
The World Champions continue to suffer from a World Cup hangover, and it doesn’t get easier with France as the next opponents.
Asian Cup Qualifying
With Australia having been qualified for over a month, Asian Cup qualifiers continued for the 11 other spots up for grabs. Saudi Arabia went top in Group A after beating Japan 1-0 on a Saleh Bashir goal. In South Korea, Vahid Hashemian grabbed a late equalizer to keep Iran in contact with the Koreans at the top of the group.
South American League Action
Boca Juniors continued their 100 percent start to the Apertura with a 2-0 win over eight-man Estudiantes . And just to show that things are returning to normal in Argentina, River Plate now sit third.
In Brazil, a Martos Mattos goal moved Corinthians out of the relegation zone in Serie A. While Rogerio Ceni scored yet another goal to move Sao Paulo even further clear at the top in a 3-1 win over Santa Cruz.
And in Paraguay, Nacional successfully defended the Unofficial World Club Championship to the tune of 4-0 over Sportivo Luqueño. Their next defense will be against Tacuary on Sunday.
September 1, 2006
Chelsea – So rich they can choose who to sell to, and affect where the best young prospects in the world can go. The Damien Duff transfer was a showcase of selling and not ruining your chances of winning the league. Roman Abramovich’s money probably played a role in Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano’s relocation to Upton Park. Let’s not forget their bullying of Arsenal that gave them one of the best left backs in the world in Ashley Cole.
Relations between Ajax and Feyenoord – For the first time since 1992, the two clubs collaborated on a transfer. Greek striker Angelos Charisteas moved from Amsterdam to Rotterdam in a €2.5 million move.
Juventus – The Serie B strugglers managed to hold on to more of their world class talent than they deserved to, although their ability to cope with the physicality of their new surroundings has not yet been tested.
Barcelona – The Catalan giants did not need to do much this summer and they still managed to improve. Aging legend Henrik Larsson departed with a Champions League medal, and Eidur Gudjohnsen was brought in from bitter rivals Chelsea. The additions of Gianluca Zambrotta and Lilian Thuram should help them retain the Primera crown.
Arsenal – With no depth at the wing positions, and very little experience at the back even with the addition of William Gallas, it is difficult to say the Gunners really improved at all this summer. The future is bright though.
Fans of Corinthians – Not only have they had to endure a fall from grace from winning the title a year ago, they also had to see two of their best players leave yesterday with the club seeing none of that money. The very existance of the club is a real doubt should they be relegated this December.
MLS – The league continues to be unaware of its rather low place on the economic totem pole of the transfer market. Turning down a decent bid for Clint Dempsey was the last thing they needed to do to a player desperate to prove himself in Europe.
Manchester United – They brought in an overpriced, unproven midfielder in Michael Carrick. Then they acquired a backup goalkeeper in Tomasz Kuszczak, who was once scored on by the opposing keeper from 90 yards out. Sure they got £12 million for a player who never played a game for them in John Obi Mikel, but the depth in the squad has been utterly decimated. The damage of which is after the jump. Now they find themselves trying to win the league when Darren Fletcher and John O’Shea will be regular partners in the center of midfield. At least the Glazers have reduced the debt a little, right?
With Euro 2008 matches going on, this may seem like a difficult mission to find five good league fixtures. I will let you know at the end how hard this really was scouring the globe for good ones.
Melbourne Victory v. Sydney FC – The Victory, inspired by captain Kevin Muscat (left) finally knocked off Adelaide United last week to open the season with three points. Champions Sydney have to deal with the departure and exchange of words upon the departure of Dwight Yorke to Sunderland. Expect plenty of fireworks and few goals from this encounter.
FC Dallas v. Houston Dynamo – The Texas rivalry continues to build in a match between the top two sides in the Western Conference. Dallas will be hoping to end a four-game losing streak in front of the Pizza Hut Park faithful. The Dynamo will be looking to go top of the conference with just a few weeks remaining in the regular season.
Brentford v. Bradford City – It is early days in League One, but two promotion contenders meet to decide who can hang with leaders Nottingham Forest. Brentford, despite the long injury list they are sporting, are unbeaten this season. Bradford continue to be carried by Dean Windass, whose four goals have taken the Bantams up to third in their last four matches.
El Nacional v. Deportivo Quito – Someone will have to win this match in the hopes of ending Barcelona’s march to the Clausura in Ecuador. Deportivo Quito sit three behind in second place, while El Nacional are third; a further two points behind with a match in hand.
Sportivo Luqueño v. Nacional – The Unofficial World Club Championship hits Luqueño on Sunday. The bottom side in the Paraguayan Clausura will be hoping to move up against the Champions who are nowhere near the top of their own domestic competion.
As you can see from the placement of a League One match in this, it was quite difficult.
August 31, 2006
This item will probably be updated a few more times over the rest of the day so we start in England of course.
Read the rest of this entry »
With links to nearly every major club in Europe, Corinthians duo Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano were supposed to make a lot of money for themselves and for MSI. Yet, with hours remaining in the transfer window they were negotiating permanent deals with West Ham United. How did it come to this?
It’s quite simple on the part of the players involved and for MSI chairman Kia Joorabchian. The players had already refused to play another game for relegation strugglers Corinthians and were willing to play for any club in Europe, be it Chelsea or Leyton Orient. For Joorabchian, whose company actually owned the players, he knew he had to sell them today to whomever he could. The fact that he is a West Ham supporter probably played a role in the selection, but it could also be satisfactory for Roman Abramovich, who is rumored to be an investor in MSI.
And as with the Damien Duff deal, the Argentinian internationals still will likely not harm Chelsea’s chances of winning the Premiership, and they will certainly not affect their chances of winning the Champions League. It is also likely that MSI will get a large percentage of the fee when West Ham sell the pair.