Friday, May 31, 2013

Manchester United need Arsenal's help to sign Cesc

11:32 AM Posted by Miyamoto Musashi , , , No comments

Manchester United continue to be linked with Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas but it looks like they will need some help from Premier League rivals Arsenal to land him.


David Moyes would love to make the Spanish midfielder his first big signing but according to both the Daily Mail and the Mirror, Arsenal have the first buy-back option on their former captain.
As part of the deal that brought Fabregas to the Camp Nou in 2011, Arsenal inserted a clause which says they must be notified of any offer for him and then be given the first option of buying him back for £20-£25m if Barcelona decide to sell.
Things get even more complicated because if Barcelona end up selling him to another club then Arsenal are entitled to a 50 per cent sell-on clause according to the Mail.
That would mean the Liga champions would have to receive a bid of £70m for the player from United just to break even on the £35m they paid for him.
Fabregas is believed to be "frustrated" at Barcelona and open to the idea of moving back to England, and all the above complications mean that an emotional return to Arsenal would be the easiest move to manufacture.
It is believed Fabregas would be keen on a return to the Emirates but Arsene Wenger might not be eager to spend a big chunk of his transfer kitty on his former player.
"While a new central midfielder is on the club's shopping list, Wenger is looking for a more defensive-minded player," explains the Mail.
"And with Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla all vying for central midfield slots, Wenger may view the signing of another creative player as unnecessary, leaving him with the dilemma of turning Fabregas down."
United managed to get Arsenal to sell them Robin van Persie last summer, but persuading them to drop their cut of any Fabregas deal looks a much harder proposition.
To other rumours, and Real Madrid have offered Luis Suarez a four-year contract worth £140,000-a-week. Real believe there is a £40m buy-out clause in the controversial 26-year-old's contract, but will only go to £25m as a straight-cash fee. Instead, they are prepared to offerLiverpool a player-plus-cash deal of £20m plus their Spain Under-21 forward Jose Callejon.(Daily Mirror)
The first test of Jose Mourinho’s second spell as Chelsea manager is likely to surround the future ofDavid Luiz after it emerged that the Portuguese has earmarked the Brazil defender as his most saleable asset as he seeks to raise the funds required to reshape his new side. Mourinho is also thought to be unconvinced by Branislav Ivanovic, John Obi Mikel and Fernando Torres and would like to bring in Sami Khedira from Real Madrid. (The Times)
Mourinho also wants Porto centre-half Eliaquim Mangala as his first Chelsea buy - but not at the £30m asking price. (The Sun)
Tottenham are ready to dump David Bentley, William Gallas, Emmanuel Adebayor, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Jake Livermore, Tom Huddlestone and Heurelho Gomes off the wage bill to help finance a new deal for Gareth Bale. (Daily Mail)
Bill Kenwright will hold a second round of talks with Roberto Martinez in the next 24 hours as the Wigan Athletic manager continues to consolidate his position as favourite to succeed David Moyes atEverton, even though other candidates remain under consideration - most notably Vitor Pereira,the Porto coach and Ralf Rangnick, the sports director at Red Bull Salzburg in Austria. (The Times)
Manuel Pellegrini will raid the Spanish market to add more foreign flavour to his Manchester Citysquad. The Chilean has given the go-ahead for City to bring in Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazilian defensive midfielder Fernandinho and he has asked the club’s hierarchy to work on deals for Real Madrid defender Pepe, Malaga’s attacking midfielder Isco, Sevilla winger Jesus Navas and Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara. It is a potential outlay of £86m. (Daily Mail)
Carlos Tevez, the Manchester City forward, expects to meet the club’s hierarchy next week to establish whether he has a future at the Etihad Stadium. The Argentina striker has emerged as a target for a number of continental sides, including Juventus and Monaco. (The Times)
And finally, Fulham are closing in on a £3m deal for Roma goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg. Manager Martin Jol narrowly failed to sign the Netherlands keeper on the final day of the January transfer window but has revived the move

Forget the formation, England’s approach is the real problem

5:17 AM Posted by Miyamoto Musashi , , , No comments

Just four days after a gripping Champions League final had hundreds of millions of fans enthralled by the high level of technique and ability on display, it was an unfortunate comparison to make.
And in the very same stadium where Juergen Klopp’s lavishly talented Borussia Dortmund side were defeated by a late goal from Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben, on a night that illuminated Wembley’s huge stands, when delivered it felt almost ludicrous - especially following a desperately dour draw between two of international football’s less impressive sides.
“There's been far too much discussion about systems,” said Roy Hodgson following a 1-1 draw with Ireland. “We look to find systems. I was asked to do programme notes for UEFA about the systems Bayern and Dortmund had brought to European football, but Borussia Dortmund played 4-4-2 in the same way we played 4-4-2.”
Cue some raised eyebrows worthy of Carlo Ancelotti. Was one of 4-4-2’s most committed disciples comparing himself to the trendiest coach in European football?
On closer examination, though, this wasn’t a completely outrageous claim, purely in terms of the system at least. Without the ball, Dortmund had Kevin Grosskreutz tuck in on the left to make them more compact and the hard working Jakub Blaszczykowski also dropped back to flank Sven Bender and Ilkay Gundogan. Meanwhile, Marco Reus played off Robert Lewandowski, so if Klopp’s formation was not a pure, English-style 4-4-2 then it was at least 4-4-1-1 when on the back foot.
England had a similar complexion against Ireland. Hodgson’s famous two banks of four were in full effect but Rooney also played a bit deeper than Daniel Sturridge, and then Jermain Defoe following an injury to the Liverpool striker. As a bristling Hodgson said when the tactical issue was brought up in his post-match press conference: "You say it was a 4-4-2. Was Wayne Rooney a midfield player, one who plays behind the front player, or is he an out-and-out front player?"
Rooney – though some way short of his best form after a season that ended in turmoil due to his insistence on leaving Manchester United - was actually most effective when coming off the front to play between the lines. In the second half he dinked a neat ball over for Theo Walcott, combined with Phil Jones in a lovely one-touch move and then played in the same team-mate with a cute angled pass to open up the defence – all from a position just outside the box.
Squint, and could that be Reus on Saturday night, tormenting Dante and Jerome Boateng with his movement and class? No, not for a second. But at the very least, the way Rooney came a bit deeper to manipulate the ball could have been a passable if unconvincing impression of Mario Goetze on an average day.
When on the attack, England had two very direct wingers in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott, both of whom looked ready to run at their man, join the attack and have a shot or two.
The point is that England’s base shape wasn’t altogether different from Dortmund’s. The real difference lay in the execution of the idea. England, despite being denied on a few occasions by the impressive David Forde, were pretty lifeless, inspiring some rather forthright criticism from Gary Lineker.
"Don't like England playing this system," he wrote on Twitter. "So easy to play against. Brazil will thrash us [on Sunday] if we line up the same way. Predictable and dated. Even though results haven't been great, felt tactically England were maturing, but this is a step back to the dark ages of 2 lines of 4. It's not about playing in straight lines, it's about playing between the lines. Depth gives flexibility, passing alternatives, creativity."
Whereas Dortmund are all quick transitions, dashing counter-attack, skill, imagination and technique, England all too often resorted to hopeful balls over the top or predictable passing patterns. The foundations may have been similar for both sides, but the building process was borne of two very different architectural schools.
As Lineker suggests, England have at times looked a more progressive side under Hodgson when playing 4-2-3-1. Away at Moldova, at home to Ukraine, the two games against San Marino and away to Montenegro are examples of the use of the formation from the World Cup qualifying campaign.
This shape has often relied on Tom Cleverley, though, who is missing from the post-season friendlies due to a calf injury. His probing passing and ability to find pockets of space can allow for a more complex style of play, even if he is by no means the finished article as a No. 10 or a deeper midfielder.
But Cleverley or no Cleverley - and whether 4-4-2, 4-4-1-1 or 4-2-3-1 - England are only second in their group to Montenegro and still struggling to eradicate legitimate gripes over their style and approach. These are deep, historic structural and cultural failings but, after an uninspiring performance, Hodgson looks no closer to solving them.
Drawing comparisons between a club side soaked in a progressive philosophy and performing in the Champions League final, and an international XI contesting a meaningless friendly in a rare get-together, is probably harsh, but Hodgson invited it nonetheless.
It wasn't his only notable line either. Looking ahead to Sunday’s game in Rio, Hodgson said when comparing Brazil to Ireland: “They play a slightly different style of football”. It was a masterful piece of understatement, and certainly applies to his own side too.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

International friendlies - Lampard earns England draw with Ireland

2:22 AM Posted by Miyamoto Musashi , , , No comments

International friendly, Wembley Stadium - England 1 (Lampard 23) Republic of Ireland 1 (Long 13)


Ashley Cole made his 102nd appearance for England, but it was the centurion's Chelsea companion Frank Lampard who netted in a 1-1 friendly draw with Republic of Ireland at Wembley Stadium.
In a match that was an otherwise fairly drab affair on a dull night in London, Ireland struck the opening goal on 13 minutes when Shane Long rose highest to nod Seamus Coleman's cross into the corner of the net as home goalkeeper Joe Hart failed to claw out the header.
England equalised 10 minutes later when Lampard scored a sixth goal in six international matches as he lifted the ball over Ireland goalkeeper David Forde after Sean St Ledger failed to wallop clear Daniel Sturridge's cross.
Cole - who led England out as captain for the night after being presented with a golden cap by manager Roy Hodgson to commemorate his achievement - was applauded off the park by the England fans in the ground after being replaced by Leighton Baines on 52 minutes amid the usual rash of changes in these fixtures, but did not miss much afterwards in a match that had a certain end of season feel emanating from it.
England face Brazil in another friendly in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday as part of the Football Association's 150th year celebrations while Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland host Georgia in a friendly before their World Cup qualifier with the Faroe Islands a week on Friday.
Liverpool forward Sturridge will not be travelling to Brazil for that friendly after falling awkwardly on his ankle in the first period and being replaced by Jermain Defoe on 33 minutes.
England manager Hodgson appealed for calm among the England fans before this match to mark what was the first meeting of the countries since a friendly match was abandoned back in 1995 at the old Lansdowne Road in Dublin due to crowd trouble.
But he needn't have worried apart from a flare being launched onto the pitch in the first period. There were few fireworks elsewhere from either side.
Aiden McGeady threw in a corner on 41 minutes that Robbie Keane almost connected with after Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka had failed to clear a loose ball.
Keane went to ground under pressure from Wayne Rooney, but the referee rightly waved play on.
Theo Walcott tried to set up Cole for a rare international goal early in the second half, but Coleman did just enough to race back in making the intervention after some bright play by Rooney to create space.
Defoe then played provider for Walcott with a cute pass. Walcott slammed the shot at goal, but goalkeeper Forde reacted quickly to make the stop.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had the chance to win it for the home side on 82 minutes, but Forde halted that effort before keeping out Walcott with another fine stop as the visiting side held on for a merited draw.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Seamus Coleman (Republic of Ireland) - An excellent performance from Coleman. Never stopped running, and was particularly effective in covering work.
PLAYER RATINGS
England: Hart 6, Johnson 5, Jagielka 6, Cahill 6, Cole 6, Carrick 6, Lampard 7, Walcott 7, Rooney 7, Oxlade-Chamberlain 6, Sturridge 6. Subs: Baines 6, Foster 6, Jones 6, Milner 6, Defoe 6.
Republic of Ireland: Forde 7, Coleman 7, O’Shea 7, St Ledger 7, Kelly 6, Walters 7, McCarthy 7, Whelan 6, McGeady 7, Keane 6, Long 7. Subs: Hendrick 6, McClean 6, Cox 6, Sammon 7.

World Cup - Podolski scores after nine seconds as Germany beat Ecuador

2:21 AM Posted by Miyamoto Musashi , , No comments

Lukas Podolski scored one of the fastest goals in international football when a largely second string Germany beat Ecuador 4-2 in a friendly on Wednesday.


The Arsenal striker netted after only nine seconds as the Germans once again showed their impressive strength in depth.
The crowd had barely taken their seats before Podolski robbed defender Gabriel Achilier and confidently drove home.
Davide Gualtieri's goal after 8.3 seconds for San Marino against England in 1993 is considered by FIFA to be the fastest goal in a World Cup match.
Germany were 2-0 up after just three minutes when Sidney Sam picked out Lars Bender's run and the midfielder, with no defender near him, strolled through a hole in the back four and fired home.
In the 17th minute, Max Kruse broke down the left and pulled the ball inside for Podolski to blast in number three and it was 4-0 after only 24 minutes when Roman Neustaedter fed Bender whose low shot sneaked past Ecuador keeper Maximo Banguera.
Joachim Loew's team, without any players from Champions League finalists Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund, dominated the match, taking full advantage of some awful defending.
Just before halftime Ecuador pulled a goal back through Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia and they made the score more respectable with another after 84 minutes from a curling free kick by captain Walter Ayovi.
In between, Germany keeper Rene Adler pulled off a superb double save in the 58th minute to keep out another blast from Valencia and the follow-up from Jefferson Montero.
Germany play the second game of their tour against Juergen Klinsmann's United States in Washington on Sunday.

Suarez slams UK press, admits Madrid interest

2:19 AM Posted by Miyamoto Musashi , , No comments

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has admitted he would find it hard to turn down Real Madrid after saying this year was “difficult” for him and his family.


The Uruguay star is widely regarded as one of the best players in English football but has endured a troubled time in the Premier League, showing genius on the pitch but serving eight and 10-match bans for racially abusing and biting opponents respectively.
Liverpool failed to qualify for the Champions League again, so the former Ajax forward has been linked with a number of Europe’s top clubs, including Real.
And with Suarez and many associated with Liverpool believing the press and FA have an agenda against the player, he said he could walk out on England.
“I have spoken with my agent and saying no to Real Madrid would be difficult,” Suarez said in an interview with Spanish radio station COPE’s Latin American correspondent Martin Charquero.
“I am happy with Liverpool, I love the club, I have nothing but praise for the fans, but this year was very difficult for me, my wife and my daughter.
“I have spoken to Brendan Rodgers, and he knows what I want. I have a family, a daughter and I am not prepared to continue this way with the English press.”
He did, however, deny that he was already in talks with managerless Real, as had been reported in the Spanish press.
"So far I have not received any official offer from Madrid," he confirmed, although any contact is likely to come after Real appoint a new manager.
Suarez has also been linked with Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.
In a separate development, Liverpool have been linked with Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas.
Aspas, 25, has scored 12 goals for the Liga strugglers this season. Celta must win their final game of the season and hope results go their way to avoid relegation.
He would cost in the region of £8 million.

International friendlies - Sturridge to miss Brazil clash

2:19 AM Posted by Miyamoto Musashi , No comments

England striker Daniel Sturridge will miss Sunday's friendly in Brazil after suffering an ankle injury in the 1-1 draw with Ireland.


The Liverpool forward, who created Frank Lampard's equaliser, was carried off on a stretcher in the first half at Wembley with what England manager Roy Hodgson thought was ligament damage.
"He's not going to Brazil," Hodgson said. "He had a good start and we were sad to lose him.
"He hadn't played for a while and was carrying a slight injury. I fear it will keep him out for a few weeks."
Hodgson is running out of attacking firepower for the prestigious game against Brazil at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
Andy Carroll was already ruled out through injury and with Danny Welbeck also not fully fit, Hodgson may have no option but to play Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe, who came on for Sturridge against Ireland, against Brazil.
"We've got to hope that Welbeck will recover and Defoe will get fitter in the coming days," Hodgson said.
"It will be difficult to get someone in now so we will bite the bullet and accept that we are short up front and look at other options."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ligue 1 - Falcao 'to have Monaco medical on Monday'

1:15 AM Posted by Miyamoto Musashi , No comments

Radamel Falcao is set to have a medical with Monaco on Monday before moving to the Ligue 1 club for £51,295,000, according to reports in Spain.


The Colombia striker has long been linked with a move away from Atletico Madrid with Manchester United and Chelsea mooted as possible destinations.
However, it appears that Monaco have jumped to the head of the queue with the newly-promoted team having already recruited the likes of highly-rated Porto pair Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez for a combined fee of around £60million.
President Dmitry Rybolovlev is highly ambitious, evidenced by his capture of the Porto pair, who are former team-mates of Falcao who has scored 32 goals in 36 appearances this season.
Atletico manager Diego Simeone has already said he will not bear any grudge if the 27-year-old leaves, and Sunday night's Primera Division match against Real Mallorca at the Vicente Calderon is looking increasingly likely to be his last home game for the Rojiblancos.
Monaco assistant coach Jean Petit is reported to have told Radio RCN on Friday: "Yes, we are expecting Falcao and four or five other players of his quality.
"We have spoken and we continue to speak with Falcao and his representatives, negotiations are ongoing. We hope to seal a deal as soon as possible.
"Monaco need a player like Falcao because he can help us a lot and because he can attract other top players, and that's the best way of confirming out project is big and interesting.
"Signing Falcao is a big coup on sporting and media levels for French football."

Champions Barcelona win derby at Espanyol

1:13 AM Posted by Miyamoto Musashi No comments

Alexis Sanchez and Pedro’s goals saw Liga champions Barcelona defeat local rivals Espanyol 2-0 at Estadio Cornella-El Prat.



Tito Vilanova’s side were already guaranteed to regain their league crown heading into match day 37, and the derby success puts them 15 points clear of Real Madrid, who were held 3-3 by Real Sociedad.

Athletic Bilbao lost the final game to be played at their San Mames stadium as Juanlu’s stoppage-time strike gave Levante all three points in a 1-0 victory.

Atletico Madrid drew 0-0 at home to bottom club Mallorcadespite the presence of free-scoring Colombian Radamel Falcao, who is reported to be on the verge of sealing a huge move to Monaco.

A last-minute Diego Castro own goal handed Rayo Vallecano a 2-1 win at fellow Madrid outfit Getafe, while Javier Saviola, Julio Baptista and Isco fired Malaga to a 3-1 triumph over relegation-threatened Deportivo.

Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini, who said this week he was leaving at the end of the season and is expected to replace the sacked Roberto Mancini at Manchester City, was given a warm send-off by the home fans at the Rosaleda.

The La Coruna side find themselves in a four-way battle for survival on final day next weekend and are one point above Celta Vigo – who won 2-0 at Real Valladolid – and Real Zaragoza – who were thumped 4-0 at Real Betis. Mallorca’s point in Madrid leaves them in with a shout, two points from safety.

And Osasuna came from behind to win their final home game of the campaign, despatching Sevilla 2-1.

Heynckes 'would accept Real Madrid job'

1:11 AM Posted by Miyamoto Musashi , No comments

Outgoing Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes would accept an offer to return to Real Madrid to take over from Jose Mourinho, his agent was quoted as saying on Sunday.


German Heynckes, who turned 68 this month and speaks fluent Spanish, is leaving Bayern at the end of the season after leading the club to the Champions League and Bundesliga titles.
He guided Real to a Champions League crown in 1998 and has also coached La Liga clubs Athletic Bilbao and Tenerife.
Heynckes' agent, Enrique Reyes, told Spanish radio it was up to Real president Florentino Perez to decide whether to hire his client or continue his pursuit of Paris St Germain's Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti.
"It is Florentino's decision," Reyes said. "If Florentino calls us we would accept the offer.
"The one who has to accept is not Heynckes it is Florentino. For the moment, he (Heynckes ) is only retiring from the Bundesliga."
Mourinho is leaving Real after the club ended the season, his third in charge, without major silverware, while Heynckes is being replaced at Bayern by former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.

Scottish Football - Celtic down Hibs to complete double

1:10 AM Posted by Miyamoto Musashi No comments

Scottish Cup final, Hampden Park – Hibernian 0 Celtic 3 (Hooper 8, 31; Ledley 79).


Celtic beat Hibernian 3-0 in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden to complete a domestic league and cup double.
The Hoops rode a difficult start to take the lead against the run of play when Gary Hooper finished Anthony Stokes’s cross.
The same combination saw the SPL champions double their lead and, while Hibs worked gamely to get back into the game, Celtic controlled the match to seal a 36th Scottish Cup title when Joe Ledley added a late third.
It also means Neil Lennon is the third Celtic coach to win the double both as a player and a manager.
Meanwhile, Hibs’ wait for a Scottish Cup stretched to 112 years after a second Hampden defeat in as many campaigns, having lost last season’s event to Edinburgh rivals Hearts.
Pat Fenlon’s side started well enough, pressing high up the pitch as top scorer Leigh Griffiths combined well with Eoin Doyle, the former possibly playing his last game for Hibs as his loan spell from Wolves comes to an end, the latter definitely so ahead of a move to Chesterfield.
Former Chelsea and Leeds midfielder Tom Taiwo hit one effort just over, while England hopeful Fraser Forster saved well from a Doyle header as Hibs bossed the opening exchanges.
But Celtic took the lead against the run of play, and from then on they were in charge.
The breakthrough came somewhat typically in the sense that Hibs have been vulnerable in wide positions all season. And it was a superb cross from Stokes – who should never have been allowed to deliver by Alan Maybury – that picked out Hooper, who hooked the ball past a confused Ben Williams at the far post.
Celtic suddenly stepped up a gear as they hunted a second, with Ben Williams saving well from Ledley after he scuttled through on goal.
Hooper completed his brace with a near-identical goal to his first, although this time he used his head to bury Stokes’s left-wing cross after more slack defending from Hibs.
That pretty much killed off any hopes of a fightback, although Griffiths did flash a low effort across the face of goal before half-time.
The second half was less open as Celtic dictated its tempo, Hibs looking well beaten as Griffiths and Doyle were both substituted after failing to make an impact.
Chances were rare though, with Stokes hitting a rasping drive just wide and Hooper shooting over as he searched for a hat-trick.
With 11 minutes remaining the Englishman had another chance to take home the match ball, but he was unable to convert Mikael Lustig’s fine low cross.
However, Ledley was on hand to guide home the loose ball as he entered double figures for the season, and Celtic put a gloss on a fine win that reinforces their dominance of Scottish football.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Robben wins final for Bayern Munich

2:25 AM Posted by Miyamoto Musashi , No comments

Champions League final, Wembley - Borussia Dortmund 1 (Gundogan 68 pen) Bayern Munich 2 (Mandzukic 60, Robben 89)


Franco-Dutch move involving Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben in the final minutes settled a memorable all-German Champions League final as Bayern Munich beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 at Wembley.
Frenchman Ribery's backheel allowed Dutchman Robben to break through a gap in the Dortmund defence and dance round goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller to score the 89th minute winner.
The goal sent Bayern's fans into raptures as their team became European champions for the fifth time to match Liverpool's haul of titles.
Only Real Madrid with nine triumphs and AC Milan with seven have been crowned champions more often.
Bayern soaked up almost non-stop Dortmund pressure before going ahead in the 60th minute when Ribery and Robben again combined in the build-up to set up Croatian Mario Mandzukic to hook in with his left foot from close range from a Robben cross.
Dortmund, who fashioned seven scoring chances in the first half, pulled level when Bayern defender Dante clumsily kicked Marco Reus in the stomach eight minutes later with Ilkay Guendogan sending Manuel Neuer the wrong way with his penalty.
But just as the match appeared destined for extra time, Robben, who missed a penalty in last season's final, pounced to collect Ribery's clever backheel and score the winner.
The victory eased the pain of Bayern's defeats by Inter Milan in the 2010 final and the heartbreaking defeat to Chelsea on penalties in their own stadium a year ago as they lifted the European Cup for the first time since 2001.
Bayern's success puts them in touching distance of an unprecedented treble for a German club as they have already been crowned Bundesliga champions and play VfB Stuttgart in the domestic Cup final in Berlin next week.
It also means Bayern's 68-year-old coach Heynckes, who is leaving at the end of the season, becomes only the fourth manager to win the European Cup with two different clubs following his earlier success with Real Madrid in 1998.
He joins an elite group of Ernst Happel, Ottmar Hitzfeld and Jose Mourinho and either his tactics or fortune stood him in good stead at Wembley where Bayern finished the stronger side after Dortmund threatened to overrun their opponents in a blistering first half exhibition of attacking football.
For their part, Bayern, coming back off the ropes, attacked almost as much and between them the two sides produced 12 scoring efforts in the opening 45 minutes with Bayern creating five good chances - three of them falling to Robben.
However, both goalkeepers were in superb form with Weidenfeller saving everything Bayern conjured up while Neuer was just as eye-catching at the other end in the first all-German European Cup final.
Dortmund, looking to add a second European crown after their 1997 victory, played Bayern at their own game with a high intensity, penetrative attacking plan devised by their impressive young coach Juergen Klopp.
Next season he will have to pit his wits against Pep Guardiola who will inherit a Champions League-winning side who just had a little too much depth and experience for the losers.
Dortmund began at blistering pace which they maintained for almost 30 minutes with Reus and their Poland striker Robert Lewandowski pulverising the Bayern defence.
Lewandowski had the first of their seven scoring chances in the opening period, powering in a 30-metre shot which Neuer turned over the bar for a corner.
Neuer also made a superb stop when he stuck out his left leg to prevent Jakub Blaszczykowski scoring from close range after he was set up by Lewandowski.
Bayern were virtually over-run at the start but battled back to create five good scoring chances of their own - three falling to Robben who could well have netted a hat-trick by half=time.
A poor touch scuppered the first when he had only Weidenfeller to beat, and the goalkeeper stopped him again by taking a shot straight in the face when Robben had the goal gaping just before the break.
Weidenfeller also stopped a powerful goalbound header from Mandzukic after 26 minutes, tipping his powerful effort on to the bar and over.
The only surprise was that neither side made the breakthrough after 45 breathtaking minutes of superb football.
The game continued to be end-to-end for most of the second half, but Bayern gradually took control as Dortmund faded with Lewandowski failing to have the kind of impact he made in the semi-final when he scored four times against Real Madrid.
Reus also faded as Bayern's defence tightened up, while Ribery and Robben kept powering forward and in the end their pace and guile came together to win the day, leaving the players to celebrate with the big trophy and the departing Heynckes.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Hoffenheim enjoy play-off win

11:50 PM Posted by Miyamoto Musashi No comments

Hoffenheim won 3-1 in the first leg of their relegation play-off with Kaiserslautern on Thursday night.


The home side took the lead against their local rivals when Roberto Firmino converted from a Sejad Salihovic free-kick.
Firmino claimed a second after 29 minutes but Kaiserslautern claimed what could be an important away goal when Mohamadou Idrissou rounded the keeper to score.
Hoffenheim, though, ensured a two-goal cushion heading into the second leg thanks to Sven Schipplock.

Monaco in talks over £60m double deal

11:49 PM Posted by Miyamoto Musashi , No comments

Portuguese champions Porto are negotiating the possible sale of midfield duo Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez to Monaco, club president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa said on Thursday.


Costa said negotiations over Portuguese international Moutinho and Colombia's Rodriguez started after Porto clinched their third consecutive league title on Sunday.
"I only got the news that there was interest on Sunday. We are negotiating," he said in an interview with Portuguese television RTP. He did not confirm media reports that a deal could be worth up to 70 million euros (£60 million).
Monaco, who were bought last season by Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, were promoted to Ligue 1 this season.
They are also expected to secure a deal for Atletico Madrid's wildly prolific striker Falcao.

Ferdinand signs new deal at Manchester United

11:47 PM Posted by Miyamoto Musashi No comments


The final touches have been put to the deal that will extend Ferdinand's time at Old Trafford into a 12th season.
"I am delighted to have signed for another year and I am looking forward to working with the new manager," said Ferdinand.
"Who wouldn't want to play in this fantastic team in front of 75,000 fans each week? It has been an incredible journey and I am glad it will continue.
"I can now fully concentrate on my club career, which has worked well for me over the past few years.
"This is a great team to be part of and we are now moving into a new era with the club which is very exciting.
"I am really looking forward to working with (David Moyes) and winning many more trophies with this great club."
New boss Moyes is also delighted at the news.
"It is clear for everyone to see that Rio has had one of his best seasons with the club," he said. "Even from the outside you can see what a big character Rio is around the dressing room.
"I am delighted he has signed a new contract and I am looking forward to working with him."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Klopp’s swift Goetze call a mini-masterstroke

11:06 PM Posted by Miyamoto Musashi , , No comments


Borussia Dortmund's star player, Mario Goetze, is out of the Champions League final. There's no way to spin this as a good thing.
The fans may have turned against him in light of his summer move to Saturday's opponents Bayern Munich, but he remains a key player for Dortmund.
Or rather, remained, because his thigh injury means he has played his final game for the club.
It's a big blow for a team that need all their big guns firing against a side that finished 25 points ahead of them in the Bundesliga table.
But ruling Goetze out three days before the final is the smartest move Juergen Klopp could make.
At a stroke, he extinguishes the media firestorm of 'Will he, won't he?' stories. He removes uncertainty. He gives himself a chance to settle on a new starting lineup, and his players a chance to focus on a Goetze-free future.
What's more, he removes the temptation to throw out a half-fit Goetze in a desperate attempt to coax one last moment of genius from his main man.
The deployment of ailing star players rarely ends well - in fact the trail of wreckage stretches all the way back to the 1998 World Cup final.
There, coach Mario Zagallo omitted Ronaldo from the Brazil team after the striker suffered a seizure.
Mysteriously, Ronaldo was reinstated and proceeded to perform like an impostor as a disturbed and disjointed Brazil fell to a 3-0 defeat against France.
England have had plenty of experience in this department. David Beckham taught us all about the metatarsal in 2002, and went to the World Cup while patently below his best. Fatefully, the England captain jumped out of a tackle that led to a Brazil goal, and England departed in the quarter-finals.
The same body part failed Wayne Rooney prior to the 2006 tournament - again he made the trip in body but not performance as he struggled for fitness in Germany.
And Gareth Barry completed the trilogy by playing the 2010 World Cup despite a hobbling ankle injury - a decision whose folly was neatly illustrated by the sight of Germany's Mesut Ozil motoring past him.
This season's Champions League has seen two prominent examples - Efe Ambrose played Celtic's last 16 first leg against Juventus despite arriving in Glasgow from the African Cup of Nations on the morning of the match.
It showed, and Ambrose's blundering display propelled Juve to a fortunate 3-0 win.
Perhaps the best case came in the semi-finals, when Barcelona were boosted by the news Lionel Messi would start the first leg against Bayern.
But the world's greatest player looked more like a pub clogger as the Germans romped to a 4-0 win. Mind you, Messi didn't play in the second leg and Barcelona lost 3-0 at home.
Goetze's absence on Saturday might hurt - but not as much as the sight of Dortmund's talisman limping his way to defeat at Wembley. Klopp has made the best of a bad situation.

City a better option than Chelsea for Mourinho

11:02 PM Posted by Miyamoto Musashi , , No comments
I can see the rationale behind Jose Mourinho returning to Chelsea – he said he wanted to be somewhere where he loved and where people loved him, and they certainly love him at Stamford Bridge.
But there are several reasons why Mourinho’s next move shouldn’t be Chelsea.
The first reason is precisely why people think he should return to Stamford Bridge – he’s done it before, he’ll go back and the fans will chant his name. While you could admire the single-mindedness of Chelsea’s fans (unless you’re Rafael Benitez), it’s a bit one-dimensional to think it’ll be a Groundhog Day scenario.
Back when Jose was so successful at Chelsea, everything was set up for him to be a winner – the club were already progressing (they had just finished second), they had a very good squad but they lacked that toughness and defensive ability that Mourinho brings to clubs. They had not yet won anything, and it was his destiny to bring silverware to Stamford Bridge.
Fast forward a few years and you see a very different Chelsea – a Chelsea who managed to win what they could not win under Mourinho: the Champions League.
For Mourinho to be anything like the success he was before, he has to win the Champions League with Chelsea. Not the title, not the FA Cup, the Champions League.
And he has to do it with a team that is not one of his own making and – unless Roman Abramovich is willing to sanction a clear-out of multi-million pound players he’s only just brought in – a squad that is not really the type he likes to work with.
Mourinho likes to play a defensively-minded, direct game that – at the attacking end – revolves around one star player, a Didier Drogba or a Cristiano Ronaldo. Remember what happened to the likes of Arjen Robben and Joe Cole at Chelsea the first time? Mourinho tried to drill the flair out of them. Robben was lucky in that he got out quickly, but poor Cole was ultimately ruined by it.
It is ironic that the much reviled Rafael Benitez turned Chelsea into one of the best attacking sides around, but how is Mourinho going to fare with free spirits like Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar? Is he going to turn them into functional wingers? I’m not sure it’s the right club for him any more, not in terms of personnel anyway.
There is also the question of his personal relationships – he fell out with Roman Abramovich the first time, and who’s to say he won’t again? Both are temperamental, and the owner is a touch irrational in his decision making.
Aside from Chelsea not being the right choice, I think there’s a much better option for him, one which suits both Mourinho and the club.
Assuming he wants to come back to England – which he loves and where he is loved – Manchester City is made for Jose to come in and wave his magic wand.
The squad under-achieved last season, the dressing room needs a motivator and a boost after the nightmare that was Roberto Mancini, and the defence and keeper need working on. While there are lots of attack-minded players there, they are of a more direct nature than at Chelsea and several have been at City for a while anyway and could do with being moved on.
Additionally, the club has not exactly been spoiled with success – an FA Cup and a Premier League title were most welcome, but they have flopped in Europe. Chelsea have won the Champions League but City haven’t even got out of the group stage. I have no doubt that Mourinho would take them to at least the quarter finals.
Mourinho loves a challenge, he loves to be loved and both those criteria would be met at City.
All this is assuming that Jose is limiting himself to England.
I see PSG as an even better fit for Mourinho, who does speak French and already has a squad tailor-made to his requirements – they are solid defensively, have a lot of physical players, a smattering of creative forwards and the one, big target man he can arrange his game around. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic, PSG have their Didier Drogba.
And challenge-wise, imagine if Mourinho brought the Champions League to France? Brought PSG their first European Cup? Paris would go crazy for him, he would be a hero for life. They’re already halfway there – they were unfortunate to lose to Barcelona in the quarters – and I could really see him doing it with Paris.
There are no guarantees it would work out at Chelsea and I wonder that he may ruin his reputation. Mourinho is a bit crafty though, and you don’t know how he’s thinking – is he using Chelsea to deflect the attention away from somewhere else as he manoeuvres his next move? All this talk of loving the club is great, but does he really want to return? I’m not so sure.
If he comes to England he should try and go to City; if not, PSG would see him as a real coup and it would be a fantastic challenge. He would be loved at both, which is something he lacked at Real and even Inter. He certainly should avoid Chelsea.


Pellegrini confirms Malaga exit amid City rumours

11:01 PM Posted by Miyamoto Musashi , No comments

Manuel Pellegrini has confirmed that he will leave Malaga at the end of the season and is expected to join Manchester City.


The Chilean has been linked with a move to Premier League Manchester City who are looking for a manager after sacking Roberto Mancini.
"Professionally, these are my final hours at Malaga," Pellegrini said at an awards ceremony in the Costa del Sol city, according to local media.
"On Sunday, I will take charge of my last match at the Rosaleda. Everyone has the right to follow their own path. I am not leaving because of financial ambition, but because of a sporting project that will allow me to feel fulfilled."
He gave no further details about his future.
Malaga are sixth in La Liga and host Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday as they chase a place in the Europa League next season, though they would not be able to take it up unless a UEFA ban, imposed because of delays in payments to creditors, is overturned.
Their final game of the season is at Barcelona on June 1.
"It's going to be very emotional and we hope to leave the club with a place in European competition," the 59-year-old Pellegrini added.
"The agreement with the club has been gratifying and satisfactory."
The former Villarreal boss, who joined Malaga after being sacked by Real Madrid in 2010, led the Qatar-owned club to the Champions League quarter-finals in their debut season, where they lost to finalists Borussia Dortmund.
Known as 'The Engineer', Pellegrini has had a strained relationship with the club and its owners over their long-term commitment to the project.
After an initial investment in playing staff when they took over in 2010, the owners have sold some of their best assets including Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal to Arsenal, and Salomon Rondon to Rubin Kazan.
Malaga have appealed against the UEFA one-year European ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and expect to get a ruling early next month.

Dortmund's Bayern-bound Goetze to miss final

11:00 PM Posted by Miyamoto Musashi , No comments

Borussia Dortmund's Mario Goetze has been ruled out of the Champions League final against rivals Bayern Munich on Saturda

The versatile 20-year-old German international, who will join Bayern next season, was injured in the second leg of the semi-final against Real Madrid on April 30 and had been battling to get fit for the final at Wembley.
"That final was my goal, I've struggled hard to be fit in recent weeks and I am incredibly sorry for not being able to help the team in this important game," Goetze said on the Dortmund website."I will of course travel to London to support the guys," said the talented player, who had joined team training on Tuesday in a last-ditch effort to be fit for the game.
His coach Juergen Klopp had earlier in the week sounded upbeat about the midfielder being fit.
Goetze is likely to be replaced by fellow Germany international Kevin Grosskreutz who would move to the left wing with Marco Reus shifting back into the middle. Klopp could also opt to move Ilkay Gundogan behind forward Robert Lewandowski and introduce Nuri Sahin as a holding midfielder.
Goetze stunned his colleagues and fans when it was announced last month, before Borussia and Bayern had even qualified for the Champions League final, that the Dortmund youth academy product was joining bitter rivals Bayern next season for 37 million euros.
That raised the unusual prospect of him playing against his new club in the final, but the injury has ended that possibility while also putting a dent in Dortmund's preparations for the final.

Friday, May 17, 2013

David Beckham: All things to all people

5:04 AM Posted by Miyamoto Musashi , , , , No comments


You knew it was coming. As sure as night follows day, David Beckham would one day have to retire. But somehow, like Sir Alex Ferguson before him, Beckham is one of those ageless figures who seemed to have it in him to carry on forever.
Ten years ago England played South Africa in a friendly in Durban, and in the run-up there was a PR meeting set up where Beckham, then the captain, met Nelson Mandela.
At that time, Beckham said: "If I look after myself and treat my body right – which I have done – then I would love to be here in 2010 leading England into that tournament."
It seemed so far-fetched back then, but as fate would have it, only an injury denied him the chance to be part of that 2010 squad.
Not that that stopped Beckham, of course, from assuming centre-stage. He put on a smart suit and he stood near manager Fabio Capello and he wished the rest of the team well. My, how he cheer-led – as England crumpled 4-1 to Germany in the last 16.
He was still a footballer at 35 – hell, at 38 he has become a Ligue 1 champion and a Champions League quarter-finalist. But by now Beckham has long since transcended football - he isn’t even being paid for it any more, with PSG donating his 'salary' to a children’s hospital instead. Instead he is an entity, a fascination, a being who interested men, women, sports nuts, fashionistas, you and your grandmother.
Hence, with the help of his 'people' he has mastered the art of being the perfectly-manicured story even when he isn't the story. It was oddly natural that he could be a face of the 2012 Olympics when he wasn’t participating in the Games. He could have 'BeckCam' set up to track his every movement on his Paris Saint-German debut – one in which he spent the first 76 minutes on the bench. It had largely stopped being about the football a while ago.
So rest assured: Beckham after football will be very similar to the Beckham we know and love/hate/feel indifferent to today.
And this is perhaps to get to the heart of the matter. His retirement will not change the way you look at the man.
If you admire Beckham the footballer, today is a chance to bask in an excellent career, in which he won titles with Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy and PSG.
If you think of Beckham as the man who will sell you sportswear, scent or a new pair of pants, you can bet your bottom dollar that he'll still be making top dollar.
Resent the man for his success, or his lifestyle, for his interests outside football, his ever-changing hairstyles and ever-expanding tattoo collection? I've got bad news for you.
Like Beckham, the gentleman? The statesmanlike figure who appears just as comfortable drumming up support for your upcoming World Cup bid, or who can promote Chinese football and be an ambassador for Sky TV? Don’t worry, he’s all those things.
Prefer the caricature of Beckham the idiot? The man who once said that "my parents have always been there for me, ever since I was about seven"? Those sorts of quotes won’t disappear any time soon.
Beckham emerged in the early days of the Premier League, and more than any other figure he has embodied the marketability of the English game. He has made his fortune from the game, bagged the pop star wife, exploited every commercial opportunity going, and taken his brand around the world.
If the infamous 39th game proposal were a footballer, it would be David Beckham.
You might not have liked it, you could even argue it was in bad taste - but it would put bums on seats.
People's views of Beckham, accordingly, often tell you a lot about their views on football.
If they think he’s a money-grabbing opportunist, they’re probably not hugely sympathetic towards any footballer on six-figure weekly wages.
Ignore his talent – and there are plenty who do – and it points to the public disillusionment with modern football. His trophy haul is remarkable and there were unforgettable performances amid a lengthy career at the top of the game. He was not on the level of Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo or Ronaldo mark one, but he was for a time one of the world’s best players.
But for all the cynics there are equally a number of people who think Beckham personifies all that's good about football – that his willingness never to turn his back on England duty, his professionalism and politeness and now his longevity allied to his talent, mark him out as a special figure in the game.
Is he all things to all people? He certainly means something, for better or worse, to almost everyone.
And that’s the magic of Beckham. He's a blank, handsome, canvas, who will happily do his thing while the rest of the world projects their hopes or prejudices on him – whether or not he’s kicking a football any more.