Sunday, August 31, 2008

Serie A Week 1 Results

This weekend is the start to the 2008-2009 Serie A season.

Here are the week 1 results:

Inter  1-1 Sampdoria
Udinese 3-1 Palermo
AC Milan 1-2 Bologna
Atalanta 1-0 Siena
Cagliari 1-4 Lazio
Catania 1-0 Genoa
Chievo 2-1 Reggina
AS Roma 1-1 Napoli
Torino 3-0 Lecce
Fiorentina 1-1 Juventus

Here are game highlights:

Roma vs. Napoli

Fiorentina vs Juventus 

Saturday, August 30, 2008

My Birthday

Today is my 19th birthday...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Champions League Draw and Awards

I know this post is a little late, but I've been working a lot this past week and haven't had the time to update.

The groupings for the 2008-2009 Champions League tournament have been set. Here are the groups:

Group A: Group B:
Chelsea Inter Milan
Roma Werder Bremen
Bordeaux Panathinaikos
Cluj Anorthosis

Group C: Group D:
Barcelona PSV
Sporting Atletico Madrid
Basel Liverpool
Shakhtar Marseille

Group E: Group F:
Manchester United Lyon
Villarreal Fiorentina
Celtic Bayern Munich
AaB Aalborg Steaua

Group G: Group H:
Arsenal Juventus
Dynamo Zenit
FC Porto Real Madrid
Fenerbahce Bate

This group stage is going to give us a couple of huge matchups, Chelsea vs Roma, and Juventus vs Real Madrid in the group stage....are you kidding!!!

The European Club Football Awards were also given out. 

Goalkeeper of the Year- Petr Cech (Chelsea)
Defender of the Year- John Terry  (Chelsea)
Midfielder of the Year- Frank Lampard  (Chelsea) 
Forward of the Year- Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
European Club Footballer of the Year: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

England took a clean sweep of the awards as was expected. Lampard as midfielder of the year was surprising, as I don't think he had a better season then Gerrard or Fabregas. Ronaldo winning the big award was no surprise and if you forgot what he did in 2007-2008, here are all his goals:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Shaun Wright-Phillips Rejoins Man City

Shaun Wright-Phillips left Manchester City three years ago for a transfer fee of 23 million.

Now he's headed back for an undisclosed fee. Wright-Phillips signed a 4 year deal with City and said, "Obviously I'm delighted to come back to City and I just can't wait to get started again."

Wright-Phillips is just like Andriy Shevchenko, as he was a big money Chelsea man who couldn't break into the starting lineup. Now they are both back with their former clubs.

Wright-Phillips move could be connected to Robinho's imminent move to Chelsea, with Robinho there Wright-Phillips would never get off the bench.

David Villa Signs New Deal

The rumor that David Villa could be headed to Real Madrid is now finished.

Villa signed a new 6 year deal with Valencia which will earn him 4.4 million per season.

This signing comes only days after Valencia rejected a bid by Madrid on Villa of over 60 million euro.

Villa was quoted as saying, "Today is a very happy day for me. In the last month and a half, a lot of things have happened around me and in my head. I am proud of what I have done because I didn't know how I was going to react."

Villa scored 22 goals for Valencia last season, and was the leading scorer in the Euro 08 tournament.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Champions League Results

4 more Champions League qualifying games took place today in Europe.

Liverpool steal a win

Liverpool was going into this match with a 0-0 aggregate against Standard Liege and it took them 90 minutes to finally score a goal and advance into the next round of the Champions League.

Dirk Kuyt scored the goal for Liverpool in stoppage time to give Liverpool an unimpressive win.

Atletico Score 4 and Advance

Atletico Madrid needed to win this match against Schalke in order to advance to the Champions League group stage. They did just that, winning 4-0 and moving on with a 4-1 aggregate.

Goals were scored by Aguero, Forlan, Luis Garcia, Maxi Rodriguez, and Schalke will now be playing in the UEFA tournament this season.

Arsenal Dominate 4-0

After an unconvincing 2-0 win in the first leg against FC Twente, Arsenal dominated the second leg 4-0 to advance to the next round.

Theo Walcott was the man of the match scoring a goal and setting up another, while Samir Nasri, William Gallas, and Nicklas Bendtner all scored.

Fiorentina Advance with Draw

Fiorentina was held to a 0-0 draw with Slavia Prague, but advanced 2-0 on aggregate.

This is Fiorentina's first time in the Champions League group stage since 1999-2000.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Champions League Results

6 teams were in action today in Champions League qualifying matches.

Juventus advance in 1-1 draw

Juventus was held to a 1-1 draw with Artmedia but advanced easily 5-1 on aggregate. 

Artmedia jumped out to an early 1-0 lead off a beautiful goal from Branislav Fodrek in the 14th minute. 

Watch the awesome bicycle kick:

Juventus got the goal back in the 25th minute thanks to a header by Amauri, who is trying to make his case for a starting spot on the team.

Juventus didn't necessarily dominate the game, but they didn't have to.

Barcelona lose, but still win

Barcelona had a very off night, and lost 1-0 to Wisla Krakow, but advanced 4-1 on aggregate to move into the next round of the Champions Leauge.

This match was the first loss for Barcelona in the 8 matches they have played under new coach Pep Guardiola. 

The attacking duo of Samuel Eto and Thierry Henry looked good at times, but couldn't produce a goal.

Like the Juventus game, Barcelona fans shouldn't be worried about La Liga, but Barcelona shouldn't assume they can just waltz their way into the Champions League final.

Panathinaikos defeat Sparta Prague 1-0

Panathinaikos went into this match winning 2-1 on aggregate, and won this match to ensure their place in the Champions League group stage. 

A late goal in the 90th minute by Rodrigo Souza was the difference in the match. 

Have You Seen This Goal?

In the 7th installment of the Goal of the Week there was a battle between 2 goals.

The two goals I had to decide between were Deco's goal vs. Wigan in which he scored on a beautiful free kick that gave Chelea a 1-0 win, and Daniele De Rossi's goal vs Inter in the Supercoppa.

Ultimately the Goal of the Week goes to Daniele De Rossi of Roma. This goal was a thing of beauty from a long way out.

Here is Deco's goal as well:


Monday, August 25, 2008

Week 2 Premier League Results

Every team in the English Premier League has played their 2nd game of the season. Here are the results.

Liverpool   2-1 Middlesbrough
Newcastle 1-0 Bolton
Stoke 3-2 Aston Villa
Tottenham 1-2 Sunderland
West Brom 1-2 Everton
Blackburn 1-1 Hull
Fulham 1-0 Arsenal
Wigan 0-1 Chelsea
Manchester City 3-0 West Ham
Portsmouth 0-1 Manchester United

Gerrard Saves Liverpool

Liverpool escaped with 3 points against Middlesbrough thanks to a Steven Gerrard goal late in the 90th minute. The volley was classic Gerrard and it stole a draw from a Middlesbrough side that held its own the entire game.

Through 2 weeks, it is tough to say who is the best team in the Premier League. In week 1, Chelsea looked like an unstoppable force, a team that could live up to all the hype and the talent that they have. However in this week, they really didn't dominate the match or look like the same team they did in week 1. Manchester United is playing without Ronaldo, but are still getting points. I wonder how long they can continue to win games without Ronaldo. Arsenal hasn't looked good in either of their first two games, and Arsenal fans should start to worry in my opinion. 

However, it is easy to say that Deco is looking like the best signing of the summer so far.

Madrid Bid on Villa

Real Madrid have had their 47 million euro offer on Valencia's David Villa rejected.

Valencia president Vicente Soriano made a promise to Valencia fans last month that David Villa and David Silva, the clubs two best players would not be sold for a quick profit.

Villa showed the world his skills this summer at the Euro tournament, and should once again be the leading scorer for Valencia this season.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Inter win the Supercoppa Italiana

Inter beat Roma 2-2 (6-5 on penalties) to win the Supercoppa Italiana. The Supercoppa is the preseason game between the winners of Serie A and the Coppa Italia from the previous season (the same way the community shield is played in England). 

This was the 3rd straight meeting between Inter and Roma, with Inter winning in 2006, Roma in 2007 and now Inter in 2008.

Sulley Muntari and Daniele De Rossi traded goals in the first half, and Mario Balotelli and Mirko Vucini again equalized the score in the 84th and 89th minute respectfully.

In the penalty shootout, Dejan Stankovic's shot hit the bar for Inter, but Francesco Totti also hit the bar with a chance to win the game. Juan's kick was then saved, and Javier Zanetti converted for Inter to give them the trophy.

Here is the penalty shootout.

Robinho Must Pay to Leave

Another twist has come in the Robinho transfer saga. 

Robinho was told that in order to move to Chelsea he must personally pay Real Madrid 45 million euro.

The 45 million euro would cover the 40 million that was offered by Chelsea, and the 5 million still left on his contract. 

I hope for the sake of both teams that this issue is sorted out soon, because any distractions are unneeded with both the Premier League and La Liga seasons already underway. 

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Shevchenko Is Back!

AC Milan and Chelsea have confirmed that striker Andriy Shevchenko is returning to Milan.

Shevchenko was one of the best scorer's in the history of AC Milan, scoring 127 goals in 208 games during his time there. 

However, since his move to Chelsea 2 years ago, Shevchenko hasn't seen much of the field, and has been unhappy and hasn't been able to score goals.

Shevchenko has been rumored to return to Milan all summer and now, "I'm happy, I have hoped for a return for a while and yesterday I began to believe that this deal could end well. For me it is as if I've won the Champions League."

This transfer is HUGE for Milan fans everywhere. Milan now has 3 first class strikers in Shevchenko, Pato, and Inzaghi, and Milan have just completed the best transfer summer of any team this year.

In case you forgot how good Shevchenko can be, watch the video.

Argentina Win the Gold

Argentina beat Nigeria 1-0 to capture the gold medal at the 2008 Olympic games.

Argentina was my pick, and the favorite of many to win the gold at these Olympic games, and they didn't disappoint. 

Angel di Maria scored for Argentina in the 58th minute off a great through ball from Lionel Messi. Messi wasn't able to score in the game, but was key to every attacking chance Argentina had in the game.

The biggest factor on the game was the heat. The on field temperature for the game was 107 degrees, and FIFA decided to give water breaks to the players during the game. I think this was a good idea, and I'm sure the club teams like Barcelona appreciated it. The last thing you want to see is a player getting heat stroke before the start of a season.

Overall Argentina winning was the outcome that everyone expected, and this game once again shows how dangerous Argentina can be.

Friday, August 22, 2008

UEFA Announce Club Footballer of the Year Nominees

UEFA announced a list of 20 nominees for the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award.

17 of the 20 players on the list are from the English Premier League, with no players from Serie A represented.

The players nominated are:

Didier Drogba
Lionel Messi
Cristiano Ronaldo
Wayne Rooney
Fernando Torres
Michael Essien
Cesc Fabregas
Steven Gerrard
Frank Lampard
Paul Scholes
Jamie Carragher
Rio Ferdinand
Carles Puyol
John Terry
Nemanja Vidic
Manuel Almunia
Petr Cech
Manuel Neuer
Pepe Reina
Edwin van der Sar

UEFA will determine a best player at each position (attack, midfield, defense, goalkeeper) and an overall best player.

The winners will be announced next Thursday, August 28th, at the draw for the 2008-2009 Champions League group stage.

I gotta think that Cristiano Ronaldo is the favorite to win the Player of the Year. If not him then Rio Ferdinand. My prediction is that someone from Manchester United will win.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nike Soccer Behind the Scenes

I've posted the greatest soccer commercial ever made on the blog, done by Nike soccer.

Here is a video of behind the scenes.

It lets you see a little of the personalities of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Wesley Sneijder, and Cesc Fabregas.

USA Win Gold Medal!

The United States women's national team won the gold medal, defeating Brazil 1-0.

Carli Lloyd scored the games only goal in the 96th minute to secure the gold for America.

Lloyd said, "It was hard, and this win wasn't just down to my goal. It was only achievable with the team we have and that we played for each other."

This game really was a team effort, as Hope Solo played great in goal, and 2 time FIFA Player of the Year Marta was shut down.

Marta said, "I have no idea why we can't win a final. It's something I'm gonna keep asking myself for a long time. You keep asking what you did wrong."

This is the 3rd time Brazil has lost a major tournament final, as they lost to America in the Olympic finals in 2004, and lost the World Cup final to Germany last year.

Click the link to watch the game highlights.

Poll Result

To the question, "Who will win the Serie A title this season?"

50% said AC Milan
20% said Inter Milan
13% said Juventus
3%  said Other
1%   said Fiorentina

Therefore the readers of Il Mondo di Calcio agree with me in saying that AC Milan will win the Serie A title this season.

Thanks for voting, and keep voting on the polls!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Arsenal Sign Mikael Silvestre

Arsenal have confirmed the signing of Manchester United's Mikael Silvestre.

The transfer fee for the deal was not released, but Silvestre did sign a 2 year deal with the Gunners.

Silvestre said, "I've spent a large part of my career at United, the last nine years, and I'll remember that time fondly, but I feel I'm ready for a new challenge."

Silvestre's signing is the first between Manchester and Arsenal since 1974.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Have You Seen This Goal?

Don't think I've forgotten about the Goal of the Week, its just that there hasn't been that many games since the end of the Euro tournament.

In the 6th installment, the Goal of the Week goes to Deco of Chelsea for his goal against Portsmouth. 

In the 89th minute of the game with Chelsea leading 3-0 Deco fired a shot from way outside to box to give Chelsea the 4-0 win. The game was the perfect start to Deco's career at Chelsea.

Argentina Defeat Brazil

Argentina defeated Brazil 3-0 in the Olympic semifinals to earn a trip to the gold medal game against Nigeria.

Sergio Aguero scored 2 goals, and Riquelme added a penalty to give Argentina a seemingly easy win.

This game was the first victory for Argentina against Brazil since 2005.

Many people wanted to see a Messi vs. Ronaldinho matchup, and both players created chances for their teams. Ronaldinho hit the post with a free kick, and played well enough to ensure Milan fans that he should be in good form going into the Serie A season. Messi seemed to be the most dynamic player on the field, and his moves created the penalty kick which led to the 3rd goal.

The result sets up Argentina vs. Nigeria in the finals, with Brazil vs. Belgium in the bronze medal game.

The New England Captain is Set

Fabio Capello has officially announced that John Terry will be the new captain of the English National team.

Most people figured that Rio Ferdinand would get the honor, but he was instead named vice-captain.

At the press conference Terry said, "I think everybody realizes it means the world to me. I was a little bit shocked to be fair. Rio has been in awesome form on the pitch for Man United in what he has achieved in the last year...for me to get it above the likes of him and the other players in the squad means an awful lot to me."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Milan Win Berlusconi Trophy

AC Milan added another trophy this preseason defeating Juventus 4-1 to win the Berlusconi trophy. 

Goals were scored for Milan by Marek Jankulovski, Filippo Inzaghi, and 2 by Massimo Ambrosini. 

Not only did Juventus lose this game, but Giorgio Chiellini was injured in a collision with Gennaro Gattuso, and will likely be out for at least a month.

Clarence Seedorf played very well, and set up 2 goals. I think Seedorf's play this season will be huge to the success of Milan. With the crowded midfield of Milan (Pirlo, Gattuso, Flamini, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Ambrosini) Seedorf needs to stand out.

This game has to be good news for Milan as they haven't been playing well this preseason. You have got to figure that Milan will be much better when Pato and Ronaldinho return from the Olympics, and Kaka returns from injury.

Week 1 Premier League Results

Every team in the England Premier League has played their first game.

Here are the week 1 results:

Arsenal 1-0 West Bromwich Albion
Bolton   3-1 Stoke City
Everton 2-3 Blackburn
Hull City 2-1 Fulham
Middlesbrough 2-1 Tottenham
West Ham 2-1  Wigan Athletic
Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool
Chelsea 4-0 Portsmouth
Aston Villa 4-2 Manchester City
Man United 1-1  Newcastle United

Chelsea Look Strong

Goals from Joe Cole, Anelka, Frank Lampard, and Deco gave Chelsea a 4-0 win over Portsmouth. Deco was the man of the match, and scored the goal of the week. In my opinion, Chelsea looked the best of any team in the Premier League in week 1.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bayern Kicks Off Bundesliga Season

Defending Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich kicked off the new Bundesliga season with a 2-2 tie with Hamburg.

Bayern who were playing without Luca Toni and Franck Ribery wasted a 2 goal lead.

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski scored to give Bayern a 2-0 lead only 19 minutes into the game. However, Guerrero scored for Hamburg in the 25th minute, and Trochowski scored in the 57th minute off a penalty, to salvage a draw for Hamburg.

Roma Sign Baptista!

AS Roma have confirmed the signing of Julio Baptista from Real Madrid.

The transfer fee is 9 million euro, payable in 3 parts.

Baptista signed a 4 year deal with Roma, and will earn an estimated 4.5 million euro per season.

"The Beast" has spent time in both La Liga and the Premier League, but this will be his first time playing in Serie A. This is a big signing for Roma, as I felt they hadn't done enough this transfer season.

Baptista scored 4 goals for Madrid last season.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Champions League Results

Many of the top clubs in Europe were in action today in the first legs of Champions League qualifying matches.

Arsenal defeat Twente Enschede 2-0

Injuries forced Arsenal to field a less then perfect side, but goals from William Gallas and Emmanuel Adedbayor gave Arsenal a 2-0 victory. 

Juventus destroy Artmedia Petrzalka 4-0

Juventus are finally back in the Champions League tournament, and they arrived in a big way defeating Artmedia Petrzalka 4-0.

Goals were scored by Mauro Camoranesi, Del Piero, Giorgio Chiellini, and Nicola Legrottaglie.

Barcelona defeat Wisla Krakow

Barcelona looked like the team to beat in Europe dominating Wisla Krakow in a 4-0 victory. 

Samuel Eto'o had 2 goals, while Theirry Henry and Xavi Hernandez both scored. 

Once Lionel Messi returns to Barcelona, they should be unstoppable.

De Rossi's Father in Law Shot Dead

Sad news out of Italy today, as the father in law of Roma's Daniele De Rossi was found dead.

Massimiliano Pisnoli was found in Aprilia near Rome with gunshot wounds to the head and shoulders. Forensics suggest that he had been dead for over a week.

Pisnoli had a criminal record and was involved in robberies in the past.

De Rossi skipped todays practice session with Rome, but did not release a statement.

Lampard Signs New Deal

This summer Frank Lampard wanted one of two things to happen. 

He either wanted a transfer to Inter Milan, or a new long term deal at Chelsea. Today, Lampard has confirmed that he has signed a new 5 year deal with Chelsea. 

Lampard said, "I've just turned 30 and I see it as my final big contract, and I will play out my days at Chelsea. It has taken a while to get the deal done and there has been a big of compromise on both sides."

Lampard has 110 goals for Chelsea in his career.

Monthly Power Rankings

I've decided to start a monthly power ranking, where I will rank the current top 10 teams in the world, and the top 10 players in the world. 

For the club teams, I will take into account the clubs place in the league standings, the level of competition in the league, and success in international and domestic tournaments.

For the players, I will judge the form in which the player is in by the amount of goals, assists and key plays made. Also keep in mind  that when I rank the players every month, it is not only a ranking for that month. (For example, Kaka could be having a great season, have an off month, but still easily be the best player in the world at the moment.)

Monthly Power Rankings:

Club Teams

1. Manchester United (England)
2. Chelsea (England)
3. Bayern Munich (Germany)
4. Real Madrid (Spain)
5. Inter Milan (Italy)
6. Barcelona (Spain)
7. Liverpool (England)
8. AS Roma (Italy)
9. Arsenal (England)
10. Boca Juniors (Argentina)

Top 10 Players in the World as of August 2008:
1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
3. Kaka (AC Milan)
4. Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona)
5. Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
6. Fernando Torres (Liverpool)
7. Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)
8. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
9. Thierry Henry (Barcelona)
10. Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)

What do you think of the power rankings for this month?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fiorentina win Champions League Qualifier

Italy's Fiorentina won it's first Champions League qualifying matchup 2-0 against Slavia Prague. 

The two players who should lead Fiorentina this upcoming season, Adrian Mutu and Alberto Gilardino, both scored in the game.

The second leg of the match will be played on August 27th in the Czech Republic.


High profile teams will be in Champions League action tomorrow, with Arsenal, Liverpool, Barcelona, Juventus, and Athletico Madrid all in action.

Monday, August 11, 2008

International Federation of Football History & Statistics Rankings

The International Federation of Football History and Statistics have released their club world rankings.

Here are their top 15 club teams in the world:

1. Manchester United (England)
2. Glasgow Rangers (Scotland)
3. Chelsea FC (England)
4. Bayern Munich (Germany)
5. Barcelona (Spain)
6. AS Roma (Italy)
7. Liverpool (England)
8. Arsenal (England)
9. Boca Juniors (Argentina)
10. Inter Milan (Italy)
11. Sao Paulo (Brazil)
12. Fiorentina (Italy)
13. Fluminense (Brazil)
14. Olympique Lyon (France)
15. AC Milan (Italy)

I have a few issues with this list. First of all, Rangers as number 2 in the world?? Are you kidding me? Rangers were just eliminated in the UEFA tournament, and aren't even the best team in Scotland in my opinion (that honor goes to Celtic). 

Also, no Real Madrid in the top 15 but Barcelona is 5th?? Doesn't make sense to me. I also feel that Inter is a better team then Arsenal and Liverpool and should be higher on the list for winning Serie A.  Juventus was also 95th on the list.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Manchester United Win the Community Shield

Manchester United defeated Portsmouth on penalties to win the Community Shield. 

For anyone that doesn't know, the Community Shield is a game putting the previous seasons Premier League winner's against the winners of the FA Cup.

Manchester played without both Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, and instead relied on Nani and Tevez to lead the attack.

United dominated the game, but were unable to score. United was perfect in the penalty shootout, winning by a 3-1 margin.

Here is a clip of the penalty shootout:

Friday, August 8, 2008

Robinho Officially Wants Out!

Just as one transfer rumor has come to a close, another one starts up again.

Robinho is unhappy at Real Madrid, and wants a move to Chelsea. 

Chelsea have made an official offer to Madrid in the area of 2o million euro, but this offer will most likely be rejected.

Robinho's unhappiness with Madrid seems to have started during the Cristiano Ronaldo transfer saga. Robinho was unhappy with his name being brought up as a player to be sold in order to make room for Ronaldo. 

Robinho's agent said that Robinho can't become the best player in the world at Madrid because they treat him like a normal player. 

What do you think about Robinho wanting a move?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ronaldo Confirms He Will Stay at Manchester

The transfer saga of the summer has suddenly come to an end.

Cristiano Ronaldo has finally done what soccer fans have been begging him to do all summer, deliver a concrete answer to the question of his future.

Ronaldo has confirmed to Publico that he will stay at Manchester next season. 

He said, "Ferguson heard my arguments, I heard his, and in fact, it was settled that the best for both parties would be for me to stay. Therefore, I can confirm that, next season, I will play for Manchester United."

Ronaldo answered the question that I had been asking myself all week. I thought, if Ronaldo does play for Manchester next season, what type of effort will he put forth, and where will his mind be? 

Ronaldo answered and said, "Before rumors emerge saying that I will play against my will, I want to make this clear...I will play for Manchester with all my heart and soul. I will fight and honor that shirt with the same commitment and dedication as always."

Ronaldo also claimed responsibility for the controversy surrounding his move, but said that a move to Madrid in the future will most likely happen. 

All in all both Man U fans and Real Madrid fans should be happy that this story has come to an end. Man U gets the best player in the world right now back on the squad, and Madrid gets to concentrate on the team that they have, while having the knowledge that they will one day get Ronaldo in the back of their mind.

The real question now is will Man U fans accept Ronaldo upon his return?

What do you think of the news? 

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Olympics Preview!

With the memory of the Euro 08 tournament behind us, soccer fans have another tournament to look forward to this summer, the 2008 Olympic games in China!

First off let me say this: Soccer is in a different position then other sports in the Olympics. For many sports such as swimming or track and field, the Olympics is the ultimate tournament and test for the athletes to see who is the best. However, for soccer the ultimate tournament is not the Olympics, but the World Cup.  Ask any soccer player which would they rather have, a gold medal at the Olympics or a World Cup title, and the overwhelming majority would be the World Cup.

With that being said, all of the players playing in the Olympics want to win, and all represent their countries with pride.

Now for those of you that don't know, the Olympic squads are made up of players under 23 years old, and 3 spots are open for players over the age of 23. This is one factor as to why the prestige of the tournament is less then the World Cup or even the Euro tournament. Many of the top players in the world are ineligible to play!

Here are the groupings for the tournament:

I'm listing the teams in the order in which I believe they will finish

Group A:
Ivory Coast

Group B:
United States

Group C:
New Zealand

Group D:

In my opinion there are 3 possible teams that can win the gold medal at the Olympic games this year. They are Argentina, Brazil, and the United States.

Argentina Preview: After a long court battle, Argentina look to have secured the services of possibly the best player in the world, and easily the best player in the Olympics in Lionel Messi. Messi will not be alone however, as Argentina also has Liverpool's Javier Mascherano and Boca Junior's Riquelme. In short, Argentina is young, talented, and dangerous, and should make it to the finals.

Brazil Preview: When you think of Brazil you think of them dominating soccer. However, an Olympic gold medal is the only major title that Brazil is yet to win! Brazil is without some of their usual international players such as Kaka and Robinho, and will instead have to rely on a few youngsters and one veteran dying to prove a point. Two of the youngsters that will have to come up big for Brazil are Alexandre Pato and Anderson. Both players are coming off good years at their clubs, and the Olympics will give them great experience going into next year. If you didn't already guess, the "veteran dying to prove a point" is of course Ronaldinho. The newest member of AC Milan, Ronaldinho believes that he can still play at the highest level, despite concerns about his health and weight. He believes that the Olympics are the perfect showcase to show the world he is still one of the world's best. I believe that if Ronaldinho can play close to the level he is capable of, and more importantly gives enough advice and support to Pato the other youngsters, Brazil could make the finals.

United States Preview: The United States seem ready to go all out in this tournament. With many of their young talents playing overseas players such as Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley are in my opinion, just as good as the foreign talents their age. With many of the world's best not playing in the Olympics, the best the United States have to offer may just be good enough to win it all!

(Also look out for the Netherlands, led by youngster Ryan Babel).

Assuming Messi plays to the level he is capable of, I see no reason why Argentina shouldn't walk away with the gold.

Who do you believe will win the gold?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ruud Calls it Quits

Dutch and Real Madrid striker Ruud van Nistelrooy has announced that he is retiring from international competition.

Ruud said, "After stuyding the schedule of Real Madrid and the Dutch team I realized playing for both teams would mean too tough a physical load for me. Therefore I made this choice. I'm taking no chances and after the enjoyable Euro 2008 finals, I can look back upon this decision with a good feeling."

Ruud made his international debut in 1998, and has scored 33 goals in 64 appearances. 

This decision coupled with Edwin van der Sar's retirement from international play really hurts the Netherlands team. Both players have played such an important role for the team and the two veterans leave an already young an inexperienced team.

Van der Vaart to Madrid

The La Liga champions are only getting better.

Real Madrid have announced the signing of Hamburg SV's Rafael van der Vaart.

The transfer fee for the deal is around 13 million euro. Van der Vaart is expected to sign a 5 year contract with the team, and is to be presented to the public on August 5th.

Van der Vaart has been the leading playmaker for Hamburg over the past 3 seasons, scoring 21 goals in 44 appearances for the club last season. 

Van der Vaart made 3 appearances this summer for the Netherlands in the Euro tournament, getting 2 assists.

Madrid is getting a quality player in Van der Vaart, who is now getting to prove to the world that he is among the world's best.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Chelsea Destroy Milan 5-0

Chelsea and AC Milan played each other in the 3rd place game of the Railways Cup pre season tournament, and the game was anything but a game.

Chelsea got 4 goals from Nicolas Anelka of all people and a goal from Frank Lampard to win 5-0.

Milan was playing without Kaka, who has been ruled out of the rest of the preseason due to injury.

Milan did almost nothing to stop the Chelsea attack which was boosted by the return of Michael Ballack, who made his first appearance for Chelsea since he finished playing for Germany in the Euro tournament.

Earlier in the week Milan goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac said that between him, Dida, and Abbiati, Milan had the best set of keepers ever. Kalac looked stupid today. Kalac played horrible and was fooled on shots he could have and should have saved.

As far as Nicolas Anelka goes, I'm still not totally convinced that he's a great player. I watched him play last season and I wasn't impressed, and I watched him during the Euro's for France and I was not impressed either. 4 goals in a preseason game can't totally wipe out a year and a half of bad play.

As a Milan fan, hopefully they can shake off this bad showing at the Railways Cup and remain focused on winning Serie A.