Saturday, May 31, 2008

Transfer Rumors

Here are some of the latest rumors regarding the upcoming transfer season:

Crouch to Leave Liverpool Ribery on His Way In?
With Fernando Torres being the number one guy at Liverpool, Peter Crouch has not seen much of the field. Crouch has asked for a transfer out of Anfield, however Liverpool president Rafa Benitez has named a ridiculous asking price of 15 million for Crouch. Aston Villa and Portsmouth are interested in Crouch but the price tag is too high. Supposedly Crouch has asked Benitez to lower his price about 5 million less, in order to insure that he can get out.
Also, Liverpool is supposedly prepared to make a 20 million euro offer for Bayern Munich midfielder Franck Ribery. The French international has won Bundasliga Player of the Year, and it now considered one of the top players in the world.  Bayern Munich paid 17 million euro in order to acquire Ribery from Olympique de Marseille, so Liverpool might have to offer much more then 20 million to get him.

Newcastle is After Jozy Altidore
18 year old striker Jozy Alitore of the MLS's New York Red Bulls, might be on his way to England. Newcastle president Kevin Keegan is ready to make an offer to acquire Altidore. No word on the transfer fee however Altidore has made it clear that he wants to play in Europe.

Tevez To Spain?
Manchester United midfielder Carlos Tevez has said that he wants to play in Spain in the future.

Henry to the MLS?
Barcelona striker Thierry Henry will not deny the possibility of him coming to the MLS with a huge contract to play for the new expansion team the Seattle Sounders.


AC Milan to sign Zambrotta
Italian defense-man Gianluca Zambrotta is very close to be on his way out of Barcelona, and into Milan. Milan is currently coming to terms on a transfer fee with Barcelona. 


Amauri to Juventus
In a HUGE move in the Serie A, Palermo midfielder Amauri is moving to Juventus. The Brazilian is one of the best midfielders in the Serie A, as he scored 15 goals last season. The deal was worth about 23 million euro, as  Juventus sent Antonio Nocerino to Palermo.

Friday, May 30, 2008

FIFA Endorses "6+5" Rule


The FIFA Congress has endorsed a rule which would limit the amount of foreign players that can play at the club level. 

The rule would force teams to begin games with at least 6 players that could qualify for national team play.

For example, Manchester United would have to start a game with 6 players that could play on the England national team. 

AC Milan would have to do the same with 6 players who could play on the Italian national team....etc....

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that the rule "Would safeguard the national identity of clubs and national teams."

I think this rule is both good and bad. It levels the playing field for smaller teams, because now big teams with lots of money cannot simply buy all of the best foreign players. 

At the same time you do want to see the best players be able to play in the highest level, a level that can only be achieved for the most part by playing on big teams.

Also, this rule severely goes against the basic principle of the free movement of workers. How can FIFA tell a player he is ineligible to play on a team because he is a foreigner. Let the best players play where they want to play!

Best Soccer Commercial Ever

Nike soccer has really stepped their game up.  This commercial for Nike's new "Take it to the Next Level" campaign is a thing of beauty.

In the video you follow journey of a young teen playing in a youth game, who is spotted by Arsenal, who then plays alongside Fabregas, and against players like Rooney, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, and ultimately plays with the Netherlands national team.

When I first saw the video I immediately thought the player that we are seeing play was Robin van Persie because he was the only person I knew on Arsenal that was from the Netherlands.

However, van Persie is sponsored by Adidas, and if you slow down the footage you see on the players shorts that he is wearing either number 45 or number 43. I had to look it up but the only other player on Arsenal that is from the Netherlands is a 18 year old kid by the name of Nacer Barazite. He hasn't made an appearance for Arsenal yet.

Watch the best soccer commercial ever:


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Euro 2008 Fantasy Game

ESPN has a Euro 2008 fantasy game where you get 100 million dollars to build a team of 14 players.

This is the link to the game: Fantasy Game


Make a team and see if you can beat mine. If you make a team, post a comment and list your sqaud.


My starting team is:
GK-Buffon (Italy)
D-Carvalho (Portugal)
D-Puyol (Spain)
D-Sagnol (France)
D-Metzelder (Germany)
MF-Pirlo (Italy)
MF-Ambrosini (Italy)
MF- Ronaldo (Portugal)
MF- Fabregas (Spain)
F- Henry (France)
F- Pookolski (Germany)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

England beats USA in Friendly


England defeated the United States 2-0 Wednesday at Wembley Stadium. 

John Terry, who was named captain for the game, scored a goal for England only 1 week after missing the penalty kick that would have given Chelsea its first Champions League title.

Terry scored on a perfect free kick cross from David Beckham who played half the game and was replaced by newcomer David Bentley.

The second goal for England was scored by Steven Gerrard in the 59th minute. 

England did not look overly dominant but did enough to get the job done. 


International Roundup:

In other International games on Tuesday, France defeated Ecuador 2-0 behind a pair a goals from Bafetimbi Gomis. The game was Gomis international debut. 

Also on Tuesday, Germany saw their 2 goal lead disappear as they were held to a 2-2 draw against Belarus. Miraslav Klose and an own goal from Belarus was the scoring for Germany.

Germany appeared to be tired towards the end of the game which led to sloppy defense, and 2 goals from Belarus striker Vitaly Bulyga. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

UEFA Euro 2008 Preview



With the Euro 2008 tournament coming up in little over a week, I give to you my Euro preview.

The 16 team tournament has been broken up into these 4 groups.

I'm listing the teams in the order I believe they will finish in group play.

Group A:
Portugal
Czech Republic
Switzerland 
Turkey

Group B:
Germany
Croatia
Poland
Austria

Group C:
Italy
France
Netherlands
Romania

Group D:
Spain
Sweden
Greece
Russia

To me there are 5 teams that have a possibility to win Euro 08. They are Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Portugal.

Lets take a look at each of these 5 squads.

Italy Preview: Italy comes into Euro 08 as the defending 2006 World Cup Champions. Italy boast a strong lineup that includes the best goalkeeper in the world in Gianluigi Buffon and some of the best defenders in Fabio Cannavaro of Real Madrid and Marco Materazzi of Inter Milan.  The Italy attack will be lead by two of the best scorers from 2008, Luca Toni and Alessandro Del Piero. Del Piero scored 24 goals this season for Juventus which lead all of Serie A while Toni scored 39 goals for Bayern Munich which lead all of the Bundesliga. You have to think with two of the leading scorers in Europe on the same side Italy should score goals in bunches.

France Preview: France comes into Euro 08 as the 2006 World Cup runner up's, with a roster resting heavily on the strength of its midfield. The French squad includes the Bundesliga Player of the Year Franck Ribery as well as Chelsea players Claude Makelele, Florent Malouda, and the captain Inter's Patrick Vieira. All of this talent and I've still failed the mention the best player of them all, Barcelona striker Thierry Henry. Henry has scored 44 goals in international competition and was the 8th highest scorer in the qualifying rounds for Euro 08.  Look for Henry to lead the way in scoring and France to at least the Quarterfinals.

Germany Preview: The German team comes into the tournament as the 3rd place finishers in the 06 World Cup, and as a team that has gotten better over the past 2 years. Germany is lead by the attacking trio of captain and Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack, and Bayern Munich teammates Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski. Both Klose and Podolski were among the top 10 in scoring for the Euro 08 qualifying games with Podolski scoring 8 goals and Klose 7. Ballack recently lost in the Champions League Final and will be looking to win this tournament. Look for Germany to make it to at least the semi-finals.

Spain Preview: The Spain national team is coming off a disappointing result in the 2006 World Cup where they failed to make it past the round of 16. Spain looks to be a favorite this year due to the young talent they have. Their 3 main attackers Fernando Torres, Cesc Fabregas, and David Villa are all under 26 years old. Torres had a spectacular season with Liverpool in 2008 scoring 33 goals for them. Fabregas scored 13 goals and led the Premier League in assists with 24. David Villa led the Spain national team in scoring during the Euro 08 qualifying games, netting 7 goals. Defensively, Spain is backed by the great captain goalie Iker Casillas of Real Madrid and the most capped player of the team, defender and captain of Barcelona Carlos Puyol. The one man that is missing on this years squad is former captain and Spain's all time leading scorer Raul. Without Raul it will be difficult for Spain to win Euro 08, but the young players definitely have the talent to do it.

Portugal Preview: Portugal is coming into Euro 08 as the 4th place finishers in the 2006 World Cup, and the winners of the "Most Entertaining Team" award winners. Portugal also lost in the finals of the last Euro tournament to Greece. The biggest name as we all know on this squad is Manchester United midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo had a monster 2008 scoring an incredible 42 goals while leading Man U to the Champions League and Premier League titles. Ronaldo also led Portugal in Euro 08 qualifying goals with 8.  While we know how talented Ronaldo is, the real question with Portugal is who else will step up? Former captain Luis Figo has left the squad leaving behind a team full of young players. Only 6 players on the 24 man roster are over the age of 30. Exciting youngsters such as Nani, and Ricardo Quaresma must step up in order for Portugal to win. In all likelihood what will happen is Ronaldo will simply put the team on his back and carry the team to the semi-finals.


Even with these great teams, we know that anything can happen in the Euro tourney as seen by Greece's win in Euro 04 (Greece had 100:1 odds to win). 


My prediction: Italy over Portugal in the Finals.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Jose Mourinho to Inter?


The Italian press is reporting that Jose Mourinho has given Inter Milan an ultimatum, to offer him a job to coach the team by midnight on Monday or he will look for a job elsewhere.

Inter President Massimo Moratti was supposedly having second thoughts about whether or not he wants to fire current coach Roberto Mancini but has said Mourinho would be the man to replace Mancini. 

Mourinho would supposedly be offered a 3 year contract worth 9 million per season. It is also believed that Mourinho would immediately begin to go after his former players such as Frank Lampard and Deco to try and bring them to Inter.

We will see if Inter offers Mourinho the job. I believe they should.

Iraq Suspended by FIFA



FIFA has suspended the Iraq national team from competing in international competitions. This ban comes after the Iraq government dissolved its National Olympic Commitee and national sport federations which break FIFA and Olympic regulations. 

The FIFA Congress meets in Sydney on Friday and would recommend a ban on Iraq for 12 months unless the government reversed its decision by Thursday. 

Obviously this ban would destroy Iraq's hope of competing in the 2010 World Cup. 

The Iraq national team won the Asian Cup in 2007.

Franck Ribery Named Bundesliga Player of the Year


Bayern Munich's French midfielder Franck Ribery was named Bundesliga Player of the Year. He won 57.8 percent of the vote with Luca Toni coming in a distant second with 24.8 percent of the vote. 

Ribery came to Bayern Munich  from French club Olympique Marseille last year and has made a huge impact on the team, leading them to the German Cup and Bundesliga Championships. Ribery scored 11 goals this season for Munich. 

Bayern's Ottmar Hitzfeld was voted coach of the year, gaining 32.9 percent of the vote in his final season in Munich. 

(The Bundesliga Player of the Year award is voted on by 268 Bundesliga players).

Ronaldo Putting Unneeded Pressure on Man U


After winning the Champions League title with Manchester United this season, Cristiano Ronaldo has left open the possibility for a transfer to another team, most likely Real Madrid. 

Ronaldo, who is only 1 year into his 5 year contract with Man U, had said he will announce within the next 2 weeks where is will be playing next season. Ronaldo said, "I want to do this the right way. If I end up staying, thats fine. If I leave, that's fine too."

To me this seems like an attempt for Ronaldo to simply make more money. Ronaldo signed his 5 year deal in April last year for 237,600 a week.  Newspapers are speculating that Real Madrid is prepared to offer him 435,600 a week for his services. 

More then likely Ronaldo will sign a new deal with Manchester for more money and play for Real Madrid sometime in the future. All of this speculation is unneeded however and is not something Ronaldo should be focusing on with Euro 08 coming up.

Alberto Gilardino to Fiorentina



It has been confirmed today by Fiorentina sporting director Pantaleo Corvino that a deal has been made to bring Italian striker Alberto Gilardino to Fiorentina from AC Milan.

Gilardino scored 9 goals in 40 games for Milan this year and was stuck on the bench for most of the season playing behind Filippo Inzaghi and Pato. This past season was a big step down for the player that won Serie A player of the year in 2005. 

Gilardino is still young at only 25 years old and should be a starter for Fiorentina playing alongside Adrian Mutu. Don't be surprised to see Gilardino's name among the leaders in goals next season in the Serie A. 

Have You Seen This Goal?

In what will be a regular feature on the blog I give to you the goal of the week.

Who better to show in the 1st ever goal of the week then David Beckham. 

Beckham scored this goal against the Kansas City Wizards from over 60 yards away! This goal gave Beckham his 4th goal this season and the Galaxy a 3-1 win. 



Sunday, May 25, 2008

John Terry


After watching what was a great Champions League Final which saw Manchester United defeat Chelsea in penalties, one man you have to feel sorry for is Chelsea captain John Terry.
Terry if you didn't already know slipped on the wet grass and missed the 5th penalty kick which would have given Chelsea their first ever Champions League title. 

Today Terry published an open letter of apology on the Chelsea website saying that he will be haunted forever by his penalty miss. 

Terry wrote, "I am so sorry for missing the penalty and denying you the fans, my team-mates, family and friends the chance to become European champions. I have relived that moment every minute since it happened. I have only slept a few hours and wake up every time  hoping its all been a bad dream. I have had some amazing support from fans, current and ex- players, family and friends and I need to thank everyone for that. But I am a big man and I take responsibility for us not winning." 

You have to remember the amazing play that Terry made to save a goal late in the game in which Terry headed the ball over the net.  Its just sad to see such a great player sink to such a low. 

Avram Grant Chelsea Manager No More


Only 3 days after his Chelsea squad lost the Champions League Final, Avram Grant has been fired as manager of Chelsea. Chelsea did not win a single trophy this season, something that hadn't happened for the past 3 seasons. 

I personally don't think Chelsea should have done this move. Chelsea was one John Terry penalty kick away from winning the Champions League and if they had done so it would have made Grant a legend in Chelsea history (seeing as they have never won the Champions League in their history). 

Taking your team to the finals of the Champions League and a 2nd place finish in the Premier League does not sound like a resume for a manager who got fired.  Chelsea obviously believes that there is someone out there who can do a better job then Grant did.  The only person I can think of who can do that is Jose Mourinho, the manager who left Chelsea last season. 

With the team that Chelsea has they have the talent to make it back to the finals next season. As for Grant,  his resume shows he can win games and I'm sure he will get a job with a big club, perhaps Barcelona?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

2007-2008 World Player of the Year

Last years award saw 1 player from the three major Leagues have an appearence in the top 3, (Italy, Spain, England) with Kaka, Messi, and Ronaldo going in that order. This year could in my opinion have an all English affair.

There is no doubt that the winner of many of this years awards will go to Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo scored 42 goals for Manchester United this season and helped lead them to a Champions League victory. He was without a doubt the best player in the world this season
.

The player I believe should finish second in the voting this year is Fernando Torres. Torres scored 33 goals in his first season with Liverpool and his first season in English football. His 24 goals in the Premier League was a record for a player in his first year in England.  In any other year Torres could have won the World Player of the Year Award. 


The third spot in the voting this season is up for grabs but I feel that Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal could pull away. Cesc scored 13 goals for Arsenal this season and lead the Premier League with 24 assists. Cesc has already won the PFA Young Player of the Year award, so who knows, maybe Cesc can pull out an upset.



I wouldn't be surprised if I saw Lionel Messi, Kaka, or Steven Gerrards name in the top 3. 

My Top 10 Players

Soccer is the worlds game, with the best players coming from every part of the globe. These 10 players are the worlds current best.



Number 10

Raul

Raul is a Spanish born striker for the Spain club Real Madrid. He has been playing with Real Madrid since 1994 and is currently the team captain with over 200 goals in his career for Real.







Number 9

Didier Drogba

Drogba is an Ivory Coast born striker who currently plays for the English team Chelsea. Drogba led the English League in scoring last year with 20 goals and is always a threat to score due to his large size.







Number 8

Thierry Henry

French born striker Thierry Henry currently plays for the Spanish club Barcelona. Henry made his career playing for Arsenal where he lead the English League in scoring for 3 seasons in a row. Henry has been nominated for the FIFA Player of the Year award twice. Henry is highly regarded as one of the best one on one scorers.








Number 7

Robinho

Brazilian striker Robinho currently plays for the Spanish club Real Madrid. Robinho is one of the best ball handlers in the game, and uses his quickness to score goals.







Number 6

Steven Gerrard

England born midfielder, Steven Gerrard is the current captain of the English team Liverpool. Gerrard has been nominated for the FIFA Player of the Year award 3 times. In 2008 he was named the England player of the year.







Number 5

Fernando Torres

Currently 23 years old, Spanish born striker Fernando Torres is currently the leading scorer for English club Liverpool and the second leading scorer in all of the English League. Torres previously played 5 seasons with the Spanish team Atletico Madrid where he scored 91 goals.







Number 4

Lionel Messi

The 5 foot 6 Argentina born striker Lionel Messi currently plays for the Spanish club Barcelona. Messi has scored 41 goals in 3 full seasons with Barcelona. He was named the World Young Player of the Year 2 times, and was the runner up last year for the FIFA Player of the Year award. Many former legends such as Franz Beckenbauern and Diego Maradona consider Messi to be the best in the world.







Number 3

Ronaldinho

Brazilian midfielder Ronaldinho currently plays for the Spanish club Barcelona. He is a 2 time FIFA Player of the Year and was a key member of the 2002 Brazilian World Cup championship team. Ronaldinho is known for his amazing moves and creative finishes.







Number 2

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo was born in Portugal and currently plays for the English club Manchester United. Ronaldo combines the best aspects of midfield and striking play in his game. Ronaldo is known for his quickness and finishing ability. He is the leading scorer in the English League this season and has scored 92 goals in 5 seasons with Manchester United. He is a 2 time Young Player of the Year award winner and was a runner up for the FIFA Player of the Year award.







Number 1

Kaka

Brazilian midfielder Kaka currently plays for the Italian club AC Milan. Kaka is known for his breathtaking moves, amazing speed, and great goals. No player in the world is better at setting up their teammates then Kaka. Kaka won both the FIFA Player of the Year award in 2007 and the Ballon d'Or. Kaka has scored 79 goals in 5 seasons with AC Milan.

















Other Great Players Not in the Top 10:




Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Francesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter Milan), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid), Francesco Totti (Roma), Samuel Eto'o (Barcelona), Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal), Alessandre Pato (AC Milan), David Beckham (LA Galaxy) Michael Ballack (Chelsea).




Welcome

Welcome to the blog, il mondo di calcio which for those of you that do not speak Italian means, "The World of Soccer."  In this blog I'll post the latest soccer news and rumors and offer up my own thoughts regarding the beautiful game. 


A few notes about my soccer preferences:

My favorite team is AC Milan and my favorite player is Kaka. Hopefully my thoughts on Milan and Kaka won't be too biased!