Archive for October, 2007

McManus Likely to Play

October 22nd, 2007

Though it may have seemed a long shot just a few short days ago, it looks as if Celtic skipper Stephen McManus is all set to play in his side’s match against Benfica this week. Despite widespread speculation that’d be lost for the match, McManus was given clearance to travel with the team yesterday.

McManus was involved in a nasty play in the team’s match against Rangers on Saturday. Fans were left worried as the player had to be assisted off of the pitch by both a stretcher and an oxygen match. He went up for a 50/50 ball during the closing part of that match, and suffered what appeared to be a vicious head bump. After spending some time recovering in the hospital on Saturday, McManus was cleared by Celtic team doctors to travel. He will even be able to join the team for their flight from Glasgow on Monday morning, instead of meeting them directly in Lisbon for the match.

According to a team released statement at the official website, “Doctors were happy with the results of the tests carried out on Stephen and his progress with be monitored by the Celtic medical team over the next few days.”

This is certainly good news for fans of the Celtic side, as they go into a game that most think that should win. Celtic are in second place and in good position to claim Group D as they’ve earned three points in the opening two matches. They’ll face a desperate Benfica side, which don’t have any points in group play thus far.

Chelsea Lose, but Advance Through Knockout Stage

October 18th, 2007

Even though they couldn’t claim a positive result against Werder Bremen in Germany, Chelsea has made their way through the knockout portion of Champion’s League competition. Chelsea, who claimed the Premiership championship earlier this season, was defeated when defender Per Mertesacker connected on a beautiful header in the game’s 27th minute.  Mertesacker scored the goal in a typical German way, rising high above the other players to finish a beautiful corner from teammate Torsten Frings. Still, Chelsea are happy to make their way through the difficult knockout stages of competition.  

 

For the entire night, Bremen appeared to be the better of the two sides. Still, Chelsea had their opportunities to connect on a tying goal at various stages of the contest. No opportunity was better than when Michael Ballack got a chance from just in inside the box. Bremen goalkeeper Tim Wiese was up to the challenge, though, and make a marvelous stop to preserve the score.Chelsea will take on Manchester United in a pivotal Premiership match this Sunday and will have to go without both Ballack and Didier Dogba. The two key players suffered injuries during the match in Germany.

Drogba had to leave the match at the midpoint of the second half because of an apparent knee injury. Ballack, on the other hand, played hard through an ankle injury that slowed him during the match.

If Chelsea want to head to the next round as the winners of Group A, they will need to get a positive result against Polish side Levski Sofia in their final match.

Liverpool, Benitez Eye Improvement for Red

October 16th, 2007

It hasn’t exactly been a happy start thusfar for Liverpool, as the Reds have struggled to keep up in the extremely competitve UEFA Champion’s League and in the English Premiership. After showing early signs of life during the first part of the season, coach Rafael Benitez’s squad looks to have lost its way in recent weeks. Their poor play has led the Liverpool head man to voice his concerns through the media.

For Benitez and the rest of the Reds, the emphasis has been placed upon the long term as opposed to focusing on the short term. The coach knows that his squad’s hot start had many people believing that it could be their year. Now, it looks like a season that is quickly headed downt he drain.

Benitez knows that keeping an eye on the long term prize is more important than focusing on short term struggles. “I think we are in good position at the moment, but it is true that we need to improve,” Benitez told the media during an interview last week. In short, there is reason to believe that the Reds might have a plan in mind to improve over the course of the season.

Benitez has been somewhat challenged upon his platoon approach that has been employed over the last few seasons. While many pundits have estimated that the coach is misusing his players, the head Red has argued that he’s actually saving his best guys for a late season run. Their fresh legs should be an advantage in trying to track down Arsenal and the rest of the leaders over the next few weeks.

 “I think we are in better condition that last year,” he said. “We have the legs to challenge from here on out.”

UEFA Ruling Hurts Celtic, AC Milan

October 15th, 2007

When an unruly fan stormed the pitch during last week’s match between Celtic and AC Milan, no one could have ever estimated the costs to both sides that occurred because of the incident. Celtic pulled off the major upset, but that wasn’t the only loss that Milan suffered on the night. Milan goalkeeper Dida has been suspended for two matches following the incident, causing a windstorm of criticism in recent days.

After the Celts’ Scott McDonald notched the eventual game winning goal during the second half of the game, a supporter made his way onto the field and into the action. That fan made his way towards the Brazilan Dida and caused the goalkeeper’s response that would eventually lead to his suspension. Dida was brushed by the fan, but he faked a much more serious injury following the incident. This should have a significant impact on Milan’s ability to compete over the next couple of matches. Milan had been pegged as a 9-1 favorite to win the UEFA Champion’s League. Dida wasn’t alone in taking punishment for the incident. Scottish side Celtic was fined because of the incident. Some estimated that UEFA might use their power in affecting the outcome of the match, but that did not happen. According to league officials, there was no evidence that the incident had a severe impact on the match’s outcome.

The fine against Celtic came as a result of what the UEFA board deemed a “lack of organizational control”. Dida, on the other hand, was guilty of violating one of the game’s most basic premises. He violated the game’s “principles of loyalty, integrity, and sportsmanship”, which are protected vigorously under league rules.

At last word, Milan indicated their desire to appeal the decision against their goalkeeper. If the appeal is not granted, then Dida will have to sit out the club’s next two matches which will be against Shakhtar and Donetsk. The most informed members of the soccer community don’t expect UEFA to overturn their previous decision.

Celtic has taken action against the fan that caused the widespread ruckus. He has been convicted in court of disturbing the peace and will have to suffer under a lifetime ban from all future Celtic matches.

AC Milan Reportedly Shopping for a Goalkeeper

October 13th, 2007

AC Milan’s situation at goalkeeper seems to be a volatile one. With their appeal to UEFA still pending, the club is looking to expand its options in the net. Dida is still the go-to guy for Milan, they are reportedly looking to add a proven keeper to the mix for the immediate future.

As far as potential replacements go, it looks like Milan will look to poach a keeper from La Liga. Reports and rumors indicate that Villarreal keeper Diego Lopez is on the top of Milan’s list. Lopez was previously with Real Madrid, but his rights were purchased for the hefty price of six million euros during 2006. Because Lopez has been around for a while and has proven to be an ultra reliable option in the net, AC Milan sees some value there.

According to published reports, AC Milan made contact with former Real Madrid goalkeeping coach Franco Tancredi. The purpose of that contact was clear, as the club sought to uncover more information about their potential replacement goalkeeper. Milan was reportedly encouraged by the positive review provided by Tancredit, as the former Roma legend put forth a solid recommendation for the player.

There are a few other names being thrown into the ring, as well. CKSA Moscow goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev is only a young man at age 21, but he has drawn some serious looks from the Milan brass. Akinfeev has played internationally with Russia, including a couple of appearances in the 2004 European Championships. He is a player who is thought to be a future star of many years, so Russian clubs aren’t likely to let him walk for less than a king’s ransom. Akinfeev will be on display in the next couple weeks as his club with square off with Inter in Champions League tie action.

Football news!

October 8th, 2007

Count Liverpool FC winger Mark Gonzalez as one of those who knows that the Red’s UEFA Champion’s League semifinal match against Chelsea won’t be an easy one. When Liverpool rolled over PSV in its quarterfinal match, they saved some players on the bench in preparation for a tough game. Those associated with Liverpool know that rival Chelsea will pose the toughest test yet on the road to a second title in three years.

With a roster that is composed of players from 15 nations, Liverpool has quite a bit of international flavor on its side. Its biggest star, however, is a home grown hero with ties to Chelsea. Following Liverpool’s second leg victory over PSV Eindhoven, lanky striker Peter Crouch was confronted with questions from reporters who wondered about his connection with the Red’s next opponent.

Liverpool was able to knock off Chelsea by a score of 2-0 in a January Premiership match, but Crouch and the rest know that the early winter result is no indication of what might happen in this match. Chelsea, the English champion, is not only a capable opponent, but the only thing standing in the way of Liverpool’s second trip to the UEFA Champion’s League finals in the last three seasons.

Regardless of the result of Liverpool’s semifinal match against Chelsea, the world will once again be served with a notice that the English Premier League is the preeminent force in international soccer. Counting the powerfully talented squad from Manchester United, the league has provided the Champion’s League with three of its four semifinal teams.

Mark Gonzalez, a veteran of both the English Premier League and the top leagues in Spain, is well aware of the English soccer power that seems to be taking center stage. “I’ve always stated that the English Premier League is the best league in the world,” the player said. “With Manchester United FC performing well and Chelsea in the semifinals, it’s pretty clear where the best soccer is played.”

When he takes the field against that Chelsea squad, Gonzalez hopes to walk away with his first trip to the Champion’s League final and a chance at Liverpool’s eighth overall title. Though it’s not far away, the player knows what a staunch challenge stands ahead.

All united need a draw at home

October 8th, 2007

All United need is a draw at home and they are through to the next round, no major injury or suspension concerns at this time for Peter Nowak’s side;

The victory put to rest all talk of DC struggling to make it out of the first round of the playoffs again. United had struggled down the final stretch of the season but that was due in large part to having used a lot of reserve players in the team. DC were looking to nurse back some of their key players such as Alecko Eskandarian from injury.

 Clinching a playoff spot almost 2 months before the end of the season affords clubs that sort of luxury. There were many who felt that Peter Nowak’s side would not be able to respond once the playoffs started. For the time being however, the joke is on the nay sayers. Another sign that United were back to their championship midseason form was the fact that they kept a clean sheet for the first time since the 16th of August.

The injury situation for United this week sees Nick Rimando unavailable due to an ankle sprain. He joins Dominic Mediate and John Wilson on the injured list. Nowak looks to be leaning towards going with the same starting eleven that played the first leg, with Brandon Prideaux , Matias Donnet and Clyde Simms all starting on the bench. The victory in the first leg pushed DC’s dominance over New York in the playoffs to 5 wins against the Red Bull’s 1 win and they have outscored New York 10-3. DC won 4 of the 6 points up for grabs at RFK Stadium this year with a 2-2 draw on 2nd April and a 4-3 win on the 23rd of September.

There is no tomorrow for the Red Bull, only a victory at RFK over United can see them through to the next round, Edson Buddle and Mark Lisi are out;

Red Bull New York blew a golden opportunity to get the edge over DC United in their first round playoff series when they dropped a 0-1 decision at Giants Stadium. United had been struggling in their final matches of the season and save for a 4-3 victory over this same Red Bull side at RFK Stadium, had looked very beatable.

The side managed by Bruce Arena were able to start Markus Schopp , Amado Guevara and Youri Djorkaeff for the first time this season. With Marvel Wynne and Carlos Mendes at the back, New York could not have asked for a stronger formation at the beginning of the match. While the match was very even and close, Red Bull once again came up on the short end against United and must now travel to their personal house of horrors- RFK Stadium, and win a match in what has been an absolutely impossible venue for the Red Bull to win over the years.

This is especially true if they cannot get more of a contribution from Guevara, Schopp, and Djorkaeff. If New York cannot count on those three to have a big game, then they don’t stand much of a chance of winning this match. Edson Buddle, with a right hamstring strain and Mark Lisi, with a right adductor strain, headline the injured list for Arena’s squad. They join Shawn Kuykendall on the injured list while Peter Canero , Jordan Cila and Jerrod Laventure are listed as doubtful.

The absence of Buddle means we will see 16 year old Josmer Altidore once again in the New York attack. The Red Bull were unable to win at RFK all season long, but they did play United tough, holding out for a 2-2 draw in the first match before finally succumbing 4-3 in a back and forth affair last month. It is those two results on which they will have to build to pull out the result they need this week..

Saint Pele A Football Great

October 1st, 2007

The King Of Football Gets A Holy Promotion!….

Pele Football Great

 Having played the bulk of his career for santos – a club whose very name is portuguese for saint – its`s fitting that pele has recently been depicted as a disciple of god in a new painting.

 Dominic Show – the man behind the artwork – claims the picture was his way of paying homeage to one of his heros. A decent bit of brushwork it may be, but portraying a footballer in such a sanctified light just may offend those of a sensitive religious disposition. So what these sanctimonious types will say when he puts the finishing touches to his angelic interpretations of Diego Maradona and George Best, the next two greats on his list, is anyone`s guess.