Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Dumbest Rule in Sports

AC Milan have been eliminated from the UEFA Cup following a 2-2 draw at home. 

Did Milan lose in a penalty shootout? Nope, Milan lost due to the dumbest rule in sports, the away goal aggregate. 

For some reason in 2 leg matches away goals are used as the tiebreaker for draws. 

I don't understand why away goals are valued this way. 

Both teams have an equal opportunity to play 1 game at home and 1 game away. Since the advantage of playing at home is given to both teams, the advantage cancels itself out. 

No matter how each team plays at home or away, total goal aggregate should be counted with ties going to a penalty shootout or extra time situation. 

Just because Milan tied 1-1 away and tied 2-2 at home does not mean they played worse than Bremen nor does it mean that the 3 goals Bremen scored were in any way better than Milan's goals. 

Its unfortunate that rules like this and the proposed 6+5 rule are being used because I really think it takes away from the game. 


Nedved To Retire


Juventus's Pavel Nedved has announced that he will retire at the end of the season.

The 36 year old was the former Ballon d'Or winner in 2003 but says that he realizes its time to make way for the younger players.

He said, "I'm still enjoying playing but considering my physical and mental condition I understand that the time has come to make way for younger players, they deserve to play."

Nedved has signed 1 year deals for the past 2 seasons but it doesn't look like he'll go back on his word to retire.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Milan Giving Up on the Season?



Sorry if I seem to only be writing about AC Milan lately but there are a lot of interesting things happening in Milan and Serie A recently.

I just read a story in which David Beckham was quoted as seemingly giving up on the Serie A season and claiming that Inter had basically already won the title.

His quote in the Gazzetto Dello Sporto is "I'm sorry to say it, however at this point in time, our chances of winning the championship are very slim."

I guess Beckham is being realistic as Milan are 12 points behind Inter with 14 games left however I do have a problem with a player publicly admitting that he and maybe the rest of the team do not think they can win the title and are possibly giving up on the season. 

Crazier things have happened in soccer and I don't think Beckham's statement reflect the right attitude to have after a tough loss on Sunday.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Kaka A Winner


That is one cool trophy.

In the inaugural voting for the Samba d'Or, an award given to the best Brazilian player playing in Europe, Kaka has come out on top.

Kaka beat out Robinho and Luis Fabiano for the award. 

The award is given out by the Sambafoot Association, with votes for the winner also coming from current players and fan vote. 

The award was presented to Kaka at the Milan training center where he is currently trying to come back from an injury that kept him out of yesterday's match with Inter. 

On the Milan website the statement is, "The most recent trophy won by Kaka is the Samba Gold. The player was awarded with the prize at Milanello and he is recognized as the best Brazilian player in Europe for 2008."

Poll Result



To the question, "Will Kaka Wind Up at Real Madrid ?"

70% said No
30% said Yes

Therefore the readers of Il Mondo di Calcio believe that Kaka will not make a move to Madrid this offseason.

Kaka was one of many players that were rumored to join Madrid this offseason, with Cristiano Ronaldo being the only likely candidate to make that switch. 

I feel if Kaka turned down 150 million to go to Manchester City, he will stay at Milan for the rest of his career. 

Thanks for voting and keep voting in the polls.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hand Ball Gives Inter the Win



A handball goal by Adriano in the 29th minute propelled Inter to a 2-1 victory in the Milan derby. 

Stankovic added another goal in the 42nd minute which made Pato's goal for Milan in the 70th minute not enough. 

Milan were playing without Kaka and certainly missed his creative and scoring touch. Further bad news came out of this game for Milan as David Beckham injured his hamstring in the game, most likely due to the fatigue from the England vs. Spain friendly on Wednesday. 

Inter is now 9 points ahead of second place Juventus and look well on their way to winning yet another title. 

This game was the last derby for Milan captain Paolo Maldini who will be retiring at the end of the season. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wait Until Next Year



David Beckham's time at Milan is now coming to an end.

It has been announced that the LA Galaxy have not received an offer from AC Milan regarding David Beckham which means Beckham will return to LA next season. 

MLS president Don Garber had named Friday as the deadline for which Beckham's move to Italy could be completed. If the move was not completed by today, the MLS would not approve the move. 

LA Galaxy president Tim Leiweke said, "I know David is emotionally invested, but I don't think Milan really was that interested in spending the money we would have had to receive to compensate us for our losses."

This is a difficult situation to assess. David Beckham clearly does not want to return to America after finding out that he still has the ability to play at a high level. Many people in America feel betrayed by Beckham's thought of leaving and many people just don't care. 

I think it will be a tough year for Beckham, a year that might hear him get many more boo's than cheers.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Not In Our House!



The United States continued their dominance over Mexico today, winning in Columbus 2-0. This game was the first of 10 World Cup qualifying games for the United States and Mexico, who are the clear favorites to advance to the Cup. 

Michael Bradley scored both goals for the United States, the first off a corner kick and the second off a shot outside the box in extra time. 

Bradley the coaches son said, "I think everybody on our team was really excited to play tonight."

One of the biggest storylines from this game was the weather. The conditions on the field were good, but the wind and rain from a huge storm that passed by very close to game time made it difficult for players to get good first touches on the ball and make great passes. 

Also in the 65th minute Mexico captain Rafael Marquez was given a red card for spiking United States goalie Tim Howard. After the play Howard was also given a yellow card which by accumulation makes him unavailable to play in the United States next game.

The United States are now 9-0-2 against Mexico on U.S. soil since 2000. 

Here are the highlights of the game:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Brazil Defeat Italy 2-0



This week many of the best international teams will be in action.

Today, Brazil defeated Italy 2-0 thanks to goals from Elano and Robinho.

This victory ended Italian coach Marcello Lippi's streak of 31 straight games without defeat.

Brazil was playing this game without Kaka who is sidelined with a foot injury, but got a much needed spark from Ronaldinho and Robinho. Robinho's goal is certainly a candidate for goal of the week, and the creativity he showed really proves how good of a player he is. His goal will certainly be included on every highlight video.

Italy looked horrible the entire night, controlling the ball for only 38% of the time. Many people are quick to criticize Lippi for his choice of players, leaving out players such as Fabiano Santacroce and Antonio Cassano. 

Here are the goals from the game while the video still lasts:


Tomorrow is another big day for international soccer with Spain playing England and USA playing Mexico.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Luiz Felipe Scolari Fired!!



Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has been fired today after several games of poor form by the Blues. 

Assistant coach Ray Wilkins will take charge until another coach can be found. Most rumors point to the possible return of Avram Grant to coach the team.

Chelsea's statement was, "The board would like to record our gratitude for his time as manager. Unfortunately the results and performances of the team appeared to be deteriorating at a key time in the season. In order to maintain a challenge for the trophies we are still competing for we felt the only option was to make the change now."

Personally I did not see this move coming. While this team doesn't look like the same Chelsea team that went to the Champions League final last season, I didn't expect Chelsea to fire Scolari before he even completed one season with the team. 

Chelsea are currently in 4th place, 7 points behind leaders Manchester United.

(I wonder how much Quaresma is liking his loan to Chelsea now?)

ALSO:

After going winless in 9 straight games, Portsmouth have fired their coach Tony Adams.

Adams took over on October 25th after the firing of Harry Redknapp. 

Adams told the press that he was "surprised" that he was fired. 

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Kaka Injured



Kaka's goal on Saturday salvaged a 1-1 draw for Milan, however an injury that occurred 12 minutes from time will leave Milan without the Brazilian for 2 weeks.

First reports were that Kaka had a broken foot, but the injury is not that serious. 

This injury means that Kaka will be unavailable to play in Brazils game against Italy on Tuesday and he will be unable to play in Milan's game against Inter on February 22nd. 

The official statement from the club was, "AC Milan communicates that the footballer Kaka underwent medical tests today which confirmed a sprain to his left foot, ruling out a more serious injury. The prognosis is that he will be out for at least a fortnight."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Champions League Preview (200th Post!)



This is my 200th post on the site, and I would like to say thank you to anyone who has gone on the site and read anything. It has been a lot of fun posting the latest news and my own thoughts and I hope to continue doing it for another 200 posts. For the rest of 2009 I hope to get an interview with a professional player and host some contests with prizes for readers so be on the lookout for that. Once again thanks to anyone that comes onto the site.

With that being said lets move on to a preview of the 2009 Champions League round of 16.

All of the expected teams advanced out of the group stage, which has given us some truly awesome matchups in the first knockout round. Looking at the matchups it seems like its Serie A vs. the Premier League, and La Liga vs everyone else. 

The 2 legs of these games will take place on February 24th and 25th, and March 10th and 11th.

Chelsea vs. Juventus 

Juventus had a great group stage, going undefeated including 2 wins over Real Madrid. Alessandro Del Piero is tied for 5th in scoring with 4 goals so far in the tournament. Juventus are playing well right now in Serie A and are carrying momentum into this matchup. Chelsea came in 2nd in their group but are somewhat struggling in the Premier League right now, coming off a 2-0 loss to Liverpool. Perhaps the new addition of Quaresma can propel Chelsea to a victory.  This is a very even matchup with superstars on both sides, however I predict Juventus will advance. 

Villarreal vs. Panathinaikos

Panathinaikos were the surprise winners of group B beating out Inter Milan. Panathinaikos lost their first 2 games and drew on their 3rd game, but then pulled out 3 straight wins to win the group. However, I don't think that momentum will carry over when they face Villarreal. Villarreal finished second in their group and exploded for 6 goals in 1 game. I predict Villarreal will advance. 

Sporting CP vs. Bayern Munich

Sporting had a very good group stage winning 4 games and only losing to Barcelona. Despite this I feel that Sporting will be no match for the German champions Bayern Munich. Bayern went undefeated in the group stage which included victories over very good teams like Lyon and Fiorentina. Miroslav Klose led the way for Bayern with 5 goals tying him for the tournament lead. In addition, whether it be by coincidence or not, Bayern has seemed unstoppable in the Bundesliga since the addition of Landon Donovan. With Klose, Donovan, Luca Toni, and Franck Ribery leading the way, I see Bayern Munich advancing.

Atletico Madrid vs. Porto

Porto was almost not allowed to play in this tournament but eventually were allowed to play, and responded by winning their group. Lisandro Lopez played very well for Porto scoring 4 goals to lead the team. Porto will have to play a very dangerous Atletico team led by superstar Sergio Augero. I feel that there are too many weapons on Atletico and Augero is too good to bet against.

Lyon vs. Barcelona

This is a matchup I'm really looking forward to. The French champions Lyon were the 2nd highest scoring team in the tournament, led by superstar Karim Benzema. However, they are playing the team that scored the most goals in Barcelona, led by an even bigger cast of superstars including leading scorer Lionel Messi and the leading scorer in La Liga Samuel Eto'o. While I think Lyon are great I think that Barcelona is just too good right now. 

Real Madrid vs. Liverpool

This is a matchup of two underperforming teams. Madrid has been plagued by bad performances this season in La Liga but managed to finish second in their group. They play a Liverpool side that just got Fernando Torres back from injury, but just lost their leading scorer in the Champions League in Steven Gerrard and also just sold Robbie Keane. Both sides really need to win these games to get their seasons back on track, but I feel that with Gerrard back for the second leg of the series, and barring any other injuries, I think Liverpool will prevail. 

Arsenal vs. Roma

I might have spoken to soon when I said that Madrid vs Liverpool was the matchup of underperforming teams. Roma had a great start to their Champions League tournament winning their group over Chelsea, but have really been playing poorly in Serie A. Hopefully now that captain Francesco Totti is back from injury, Roma will regain the scoring that they have been missing. The real mystery however is on the Arsenal side where the addition of Andrei Arshavin will be watched with immense detail. Arshavin just completed a long transfer saga and these games against Roma will be the perfect opportunity to prove that he is worth the money spent on him. Arshavin will join Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie(who has been having a great couple of weeks lately) and Emmanuel Adebayor who will hopefully overshadow the poor Arsenal defense. Arsenal advances in a close one. 

Inter vs. Manchester United

Last but not least, the matchup in which I am most interested in. The Italian champions vs. the English champions. Inter surprisingly came in 2nd in their group and have actually been struggling as of late in Serie A but are still on top of the standings. Inter have one of the top 5 strikers in the world in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Zlatan has really been having a great season so far. Inter must defeat the defending champions however in Manchester United who also went undefeated in the group stage, winning their group. Dimitar Berbatov is actually leading United in scoring so far this tournament, but that was when Cristiano Ronaldo was both injured and out of form. Ronaldo is currently scoring goals in bunches and will prove hard to handle for the Inter defense. Speaking of defense, Edwin van der Sar is currently destroying the competition in goal setting the Premier League record for longest time without giving up a goal. The defense for Manchester United will only get better with the return of Rio Ferdinand. Even worse for Inter, Carlos Tevez has reportedly been offered a new deal with United which will put his mind at ease and allow him to play better. With all that being said I feel this game can go either way but I feel the defending champions will move on. Manchester United advances.

To recap, I'm predicting Juventus, Villarreal, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester United to all advance to the next round in the tournament. 

What do you think? Who will advance? Which players will stand out? Leave a comment and let me know....

New Deal for Tevez?



Carlos Tevez has been back and forth about his desire to remain at Manchester United. Tevez's current deal runs out at the end of the season, and many people speculated that he would not remain at Manchester, and possibly go to Inter Milan.

Now reports are coming out that Manchester United is ready to offer Tevez a new deal worth about 30 million pounds for the next 3 years. 

Tevez was previously unhappy with his playing time and role on the team, especially since the signing of Dimitar Berbatov. However, Tevez has just had a meeting with coach Sir Alex Ferguson where the coach reaffirmed his desire to keep Tevez. 

I personally feel this would be a great move for United, as I feel Tevez is the second best outfield player on the team behind Ronaldo. Tevez is always a high energy player that in my opinion is underutilized by Ferguson. 

Whether or not Tevez deserves as high a salary as they are reportedly ready to give him remains to be seen, but keeping him at Manchester is a no brainer.

More Trouble for Liverpool



Liverpool cannot catch a break. Fernando Torres just returned from injury to help Liverpool win, but now the news is that Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard will be out of action for 3 weeks with a hamstring injury.

Gerrard tore the hamstring in Liverpool's 1-0 loss to Everton on Wednesday.

This news means that Gerrard will not be available for England's friendly against Spain on February 11th (I see a callup for Beckham) nor in all probability will Gerrard be available to play against Real Madrid in the Champions League. 

Some people like coach Rafa Benitez are blaming the injury on the fan and ownership pressure for Gerrard to play in every game. While this might not be entirely true, it is obvious that the pressure is there.

This injury coupled with the selling of Robbie Keane could mean a significant reduction in offensive productivity. Players like Torres and Dirk Kuyt will now have to step up in order to keep Liverpool's Premier League and Champions League hopes alive.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Arshavin Deal to be Completed Tomorrow



In case some of you didn't know, England is experiencing one of the worst snow storms in recent memory. Due to this, many planes in England are grounded meaning players such as Andrei Arshavin are stuck in England. 

The FA ruled that since many people were stuck in England, teams could have an extra day to work out a deal with players. 

According to numerous sources, the deal to bring Andrei Arshavin to Arsenal has been completed and will be finalized by the Premier League tomorrow. 

This deal has been on and off for the past month, but when Arsene Wenger announced earlier that he was optimistic that the deal would be done, most doubt was put aside. 

We will have to wait until tomorrow to hear the final transfer fee and other terms of the deal, but for now I can confirm that Arshavin will be a member of Arsenal. If I had to guess, I would say Arsenal paid 15 million pounds for Arshavin.

UPDATE:

The deal is finished, with Zenit reporting that they will receive a transfer fee of 16.9 million euro. This is a record fee paid by Arsenal. Also, Arshavin will return to Russia to take care of personal matters. Arsenal also doesn't know when Arshavin will play in a game, as the last game Arshavin played in was on November 25th.


My biggest concern is how much effort Arshavin will put in at Arsenal. Arshavin has the reputation at Zenit St. Petersburg for not putting forth any effort for Russian League games. Arshavin will try to play well for Champions League games, and international games, but he seems to not try during Russian league games. The Premier League is too good for Arshavin to not try in any game, or against any opponent. 

In case you forgot how good he is though, watch this:


Quaresma to Chelsea



Chelsea have confirmed on their website that they have signed Portuguese international Quaresma on loan from Inter Milan until the end of the season. 

Quaresma had not been getting much playing time since his move from FC Porto to Inter, and I would certainly bet with his old Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari in charge at Chelsea, that Quaresma should see plenty of action.

Quaresma scored once in 16 appearances for Inter this season, with Jose Mourinho claiming that there wasn't chemistry between Quaresma and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

In case your not familiar with Quaresma here are some of his highlights:



UPDATE!!!!! THE ARSHAVIN DEAL APPEARS TO HAVE GONE THROUGH.....FULL STORY A LITTLE LATER...

The Return of Robbie Keane!



Today is the final day for transfers, and could prove to be a very busy day with the likes of Arshavin, Quaresma, and Brian McBride all possibly changing teams today.

However, one move that is confirmed is Robbie Keane's return to Tottenham from Liverpool.

Keane left Tottenham 6 months ago after 6 long years with the club in which he scored over 100 goals. Keane was a Liverpool supporter his whole life, and was looking to form a great scoring duo with Fernando Torres, much like he had formed one with Dimitar Berbatov at Spurs. 

However, Keane was frequently left off the first team and saw himself substituted out in almost every game. 

Tottenham have now had their bid of 15 million pounds accepted by Liverpool, thus ending Robbie Keane's unhappy stay with his favorite club.

Keane said, 'It was a difficult decision to make to leave Tottenham in the summer. It proved not to be the right move for me. I know some Spurs fans will feel I let them down by leaving but I can assure them I shall be giving my all for this club. This club has terrific fans and I want to repay them for all their support. We've got to get on and fight our way up that league table."

I think this is the smart move for Keane to make, and I expect him to start scoring goals at the rate he's done for the past 6 years.