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Portugal 0-1 Spain

June 30th, 2010 No comments

php8GomBsWithin minutes of Portugal’s elimination from the World Cup, Carlos Queiroz, suggested that his team would ‘hopefully’ play with more ambition the next time they grace this stage.

As David Villa ruthlessly proved, however, by scoring the goal that secured for Spain a quarter-final against Paraguay on Saturday, there is no time like the present to grasp the chance to claim glory.
Spain, with their kaleidoscopic football, are the present and the future. Portugal  might be ranked as the third-best team in the world by Fifa, but their negative tactics, with their hopes resting solely on the skills of Cristiano Ronaldo, are thankfully now history at this World Cup.

They appeared frightened to death by the threat posed by Spain’s attacking quartet of Villa, Fernando Torres, Xavi and Andres Iniesta and, when asked by after the game to explain why it had gone so badly wrong, Ronaldo threw the ball firmly at his coach’s feet by replying, “Ask Queiroz.”

When Ronaldo performs, Portugal perform. When he doesn’t, it all falls apart. Spain have no such over-reliance on one player, though, and with Torres continuing to struggle to overcome the effects of knee surgery in April, the European champions simply carried on regardless. Read more…

David James : Let me take a penalty

June 27th, 2010 No comments

php80mjf8DAVID JAMES wants to be the shootout hero against Germany - by SCORING a penalty.
The England keeper says he is willing to take a spot-kick if needed tomorrow as well as trying to keep the Germans out.

James said: “Of course I’ll take one because if the situation occurred, there would be certain players who would rather not take penalties.

“I’m not naming names but the reality is that some players are less inclined. Maybe I’ll take the last one.”

It would not be the first time a keeper has stepped up to hit a penalty in a shootout involving England.

Portugal stopper Ricardo famously scored his side’s winner to put England out in the Euro 2004 quarter-finals.

But James is adamant it will be England going through from tomorrow’s last-16 clash.

He insisted: “We have a strong side and we are not fearful of them at all.

“We are confident we will make the British people happy by beating Germany.”

Boris Becker column—– This is a team competition, and Germany are a better team than England

June 27th, 2010 No comments

phpWNVjJmThe Germans take a different approach to penalties – unlike the English, we don’t make such a big deal of it. You’re asked to shoot and you shoot and you don’t think about it too much.
We want to finish the match in normal time, of course, but the English are afraid when it comes to penalties, even though you could still beat us after 90 minutes and extra time.

For us, it’s not about penalties, it’s about playing football over 90 minutes against the English. Yes, we missed a penalty for the first time in 28 years in the group stages, but Germany are not afraid of penalties, and you can’t practise them.
I think there’s more pressure on the England  players because the core of the team won’t play in four years’ time. By 2014, they are going to be too old. They are called the golden generation and yet they haven’t won a big championship. They know that it’s now or never for them at the World Cup.

You know as a country, even though you have great individual players, you haven’t done a whole lot at international tournaments, and that’s always surprising to us in Germany. Germany have only one or two star players, and England have three in Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and John Terry, but Germany seem to be more of a unit, more of a team. And it is a team competition. Read more…

Mourinho : My only options are Madrid or Inter

May 20th, 2010 No comments

phpS0bCyVThe Special One looks certain to replace Manuel Pellegrini as coach of the Galacticos after leading Inter Milan into Saturday’s Champions League final.

Yet while the former Chelsea chief revels in his self-proclaimed lofty status, Benitez isn’t so sure.

And the Liverpool boss thinks Real could be dropping a clanger if they think the Portuguese coach is the man to turn them into European kings again.

The two men enjoyed almost constant verbal battles throughout Mourinho’s time at Stamford Bridge and will never be the best of buddies.

And Benitez insisted: “I know Mourinho has dreamed a lot of coaching Real Madrid but I do not know if he is the right person to train Madrid.

“Pellegrini has done a great job and deserves great respect because he’s still coach and it’s not pleasant to hear talk about who’s going to replace you.”

Mourinho has admitted: “My only options are Madrid or Inter.

“To get me to leave this club after two years of incredible work, only Real Madrid could achieve that.

“If I go, I will move with a clear conscience having changed the club.”

Sevilla win Copa del Rey

May 20th, 2010 No comments

phple2pAbDiego Capel scored in the fifth minute and Jesus Navas added a goal in second-half injury time to lead Sevilla over Atletico Madrid 2-0 Wednesday night for its second Copa del Rey title in three seasons.

Capel beat goalkeeper David de Gea with a rising shot from just outside the penalty area before a crowd of about 90,000 at Camp Nou. Goalkeeper Andres Palop denied Diego Forlan in the 79th minute, and Navas scored on a counterattack against the Europa League champions.

Sevilla, which beat Getafe 1-0 in the 2007 final, has won the Spanish cup five times.

A double is great, but a treble would be better

May 16th, 2010 No comments

phpbJNdWPIn the first of their two finals in eight days, Bayern swept aside the challenge of Werder Bremen to win the DFB Cup for a record 15th time, clinch their eighth championship-cup double (and the sixth since 2000) and complete the perfect preparation for next Saturday’s European Champions League final against Internazionale in Madrid.

Dutch winger Arjen Robben was a constant thorn in the side of the northerners and he gave the newly-crowned champions a deserved first-half lead from the penalty spot. After the interval the floodgates opened with Ivica Olic, Franck Ribéry and finally Bastian Schweinsteiger scoring further goals. Bremen had no answer, a flurry of yellow cards and Torsten Frings’ sending off a quarter hour from time testifying to their frustration as the game wore on toward its inexorable conclusion.
As promised, Bayern coach Louis van Gaal sent out his strongest side rather than resting key players ahead of next weekend’s Champions League final. Thomas Schaaf surprisingly left Marko Marin on the Werder bench as he sought to achieve what would be a record fourth DFB Cup victory as a manager. The Bremen side contained three former Bayern players – Claudio Pizarro, Torsten Frings and Tim Borowski – while Bayern had one-time Werder striker Miroslav Klose on the bench.

Bayern immediately took the initiative and Robben had the first shot of the match turned aside for a corner by Werder goalkeeper Tim Wiese after three minutes; Martin Demichelis headed over from the subsequent corner. But in the eighth minute Jörg Butt was called into action, saving first Pizarro’s close-range drive after the former Bayern man had evaded Daniel van Buyten and then a follow-up strike from Frings, before Holger Badstuber blocked Aaron Hunt’s effort.

It was to prove the only serious chance of the first half as the newly-crowned champions pressed their opponents back, although captain Mark van Bommel and Olic both found their way into the notebook of referee Thorsten Kinhöfer for fouls within the first 20 minutes. In the 23rd minute Wiese had to be alert to save from Robben after Philipp Lahm’s cross was deflected to his feet, and in the 30th minute the Dutch winger shot just wide from 16 metres after receiving a return pass from Thomas Müller. Read more…

Anelka slams Portsmouth boss Avram Grant

May 15th, 2010 No comments

phpb5rDFdNicolas Anelka has launched a scathing attack on his former Chelsea boss Avram Grant.

Blues striker Anelka is out to sink the Pompey chief in today’s FA Cup final.

And his determination will be fired by the six unhappy months he spent under Grant in 2007-08.

In a new book published tomorrow, he even claims he missed the seventh and decisive penalty in the 2008 Champions League final as his confidence was so low.

Anelka writes: ‘I set great store by emotions and Grant did not show great confidence in me.

‘In the 2008 Champions League final against Manchester United, Grant threw me on as a sub without giving me any warning.

‘In the end I messed up the very last penalty in the shootout, which Edwin van der Sar pushed away. It is sad to say but I knew I was going to miss my kick.’

Grant has previously claimed Anelka, a £15m buy from Bolton, was brought in against his wishes in January 2008.

Anelka, played mostly out wide or as a sub by Grant, adds: ‘Grant used to look down on me.

‘It was as though he felt I should be grateful and not ask for anything. The pretext for this was I had been brought in from Bolton.’

Bridge refuse Terry’s shake hand

February 28th, 2010 No comments

phpzdBZHH Footballer Wayne Bridge refused to shake hands with John Terry today when he came face to face with him for the first time since it emerged his former teammate had an affair with his ex-girlfriend.

There was huge interest in how the pair would behave towards one another ahead of the game between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge, west London,

As the off-pitch tension built up in the wake of allegations about Terry and lingerie model Vanessa Perroncel, the mother of Bridge’s three-year-old son, City player Bridge made his feelings clear by snubbing the Fair Play handshake courtesy to Terry.

As Terry, 29, stood in line with his Chelsea teammates, he held out his hand as Bridge filed past with his fellow Manchester City players.
But while Bridge, also 29, shook hands with the rest of his opponents, he walked past Terry without making any contact.

The ritual was introduced by the Premier League two seasons ago as part of the Get On With The Game campaign to encourage acceptable behaviour.

Such was the interest in the interaction between Terry and Bridge that Sky Sports viewers were able to see the crucial moments before kick-off.

Usually, the broadcaster would screen adverts during the routine and return to the pitch for the main action.

But timings were altered to make sure nothing was missed. Read more…

The Glazers may be bad for United but good for the game

January 28th, 2010 No comments

phpLyLwPwIt would appear Geoffrey had fallen a little out of the loop while on tour, so he was brought up to speed on a few things. Ending on a positive note, I mentioned United were considering having a whip-round among famous fans and had heard he was good for a few quid. He didn’t seem too interested in that, and wandered off to resume butchering England’s batsmen.

Bumped into Geoffrey Boycott, England legend and Manchester United fan, in Johannesburg this week. ‘So,’ he said, with the smug smile of one who is not used to hearing bad news about his club, ‘who are we buying, then?’

And this is the contradiction at the heart of the Glazer saga. Empathy for Manchester United supporters, while quietly relishing what is happening to their club for the change it might bring to English football.

Not because anyone has it in for United specifically but because the balance of power in football must alter over time if the sport is not to become moribund. Evolution takes place when the alpha club mess up. Read more…

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