Friday, October 29, 2010

Weekend TV Preview: 29 - 31 October

Friday 29 October

15.45 Krylya Sovetov v Rubin Kazan, Russian Premier League, ESPN/ESPN HD
With Zenit suffering their first defeat of the season midweek, a faint opportunity for Rubin to retain their title has opened up. Krylya have had an amazing turnaround of form recently: stick-on relegation candidates a few weeks ago they have taken ten points from the last twelve - partly helped by 19 year old loan signing Pavel Yakovlev from Spartak, scoring goals in each of their last three games

19.30 Bayern Munich v SC Freiburg, Bundesliga, ESPN/ESPN HD
Should be a straightforward home win you'd think, Freiburg's early season form since evaporating especially away from home. Bayern haven't got into their stride at all this season, with Mario Gomez's hat-trick in their win against Hannover in their most recent home game the exception rather than the rule. Both teams had varying fortunes in the cup midweek: Bayern edging out Bremen while Freiburg were dumped out by 2-Bundesliga side Energie Cottbus.

19.45 Southport v Kidderminster, Conference, Premier Sports
Southport came out 4-3 winners when the two sides met in August but have found life in the national level of the Conference tough since then - taking just one win in the last ten games.

Saturday 30 October

12.00 St Johnstone v Celtic, SPL, ESPN/ESPN HD
Swindon fans may be pleased to see "Super" Sammy Parkin back in scoring touch with St Johnstone after a few miserable seasons of injury and poor form. He scored in the League Cup match between these two sides midweek; Celtic resisting a spirited comeback form the home team to win 3-2.

17.20 Barnsley v Hull City, Championship, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Jimmy Bullard's latest knee injury rules him out of this and the next three games. Hull need goals: just two in their last eight games, leaving them just three points off the bottom. Barnsley aren't faring that much better - Hull could leapfrog them in the table if they win.

17.30 Man Utd v Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League, ESPN/ESPN HD
If everything is right in the world Tottenham turn up to Old Trafford and lose - it is the way of things. They haven't won here since 1989 (even that was after a gap of 13 years) and they've come away losers in the last eight trips here. But everything is not all right with the world. Is it, children. Man U's run of 21 games without defeat and 21 years of hurt for Spurs ends here. There, I've said it.

19.00 Hercules v Real Madrid, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Arnold Schwarzenegger reprises his cinematic debut role to take on Jose Mourinho and his men.

19.45 AC Milan v Juventus, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Juve have shored things up at the back after a dodgy start to the season, keeping three clean sheets in a row including the 0-0 draw at the San Siro at the beginning of the month against Inter. That record will be tough to maintain with Pato, Robinho amd Ibrahimovic all likely to start for the Rossoneri. Much better than watching X-factor.

21.00 Barcelona v Sevilla, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Pep to Man U? Bit of a step down, don't you think?

Sunday 31 October

11.30 Palermo v Lazio, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Lazio are still riding high at the top of table which considering they spent most of last season skirting around the relegation zone shows how competetive Serie A is this season. Palermo are continuing in the same form as last season which saw them miss out on a Champions League place by just two points.

12.15 Hearts v Kilmarnock, SPL, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Hearts have one the last five encounters between these two. Kilmarnock will probably consider themselves unfortunate to be in lowly position they are - all six of their defeats so far this season have been by the odd goal.

13.30 Newcastle United v Sunderland, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1/3D
Apparently the 3D works by sending vertical stripes to one eye and horizontal stripes to the other. I can see a problem occuring in this game.

16.00 Bolton Wanderers v Liverpool, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Bolton are unbeaten at home this season, Liverpool have won just once away from home in 2010. This has hard fought draw written all over it.

17.15 Hoffenheim v Hannover 96, Bundesliga, ESPN/ESPN HD
Fourth place host third as both teams try to close the already yawning gap behind the top two -  Mainz and Dortmund who play each other immediately before this game (not covered in favour of egg chasing on ESPN). Senegal international Demba Ba is in a rich vein of form having scored in each of his last five games for Hoffenheim.

18.00 Atletico Madrid v Almeria, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1 (1st Half Red Button)
Almeria have yet to win in the Vicente Calderan and with only one win to their name so far this season it's unlikely they'll get one here.

19.45 Catania v Fiorentina, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Last week's win over Bari made the table look a little more respectable for Fiorentina lifting them five places from bottom. Catania are stumbling after their early season good showing but are still tough to beat - as Milan and Napoli will testify.

20.00 Athletic Bilbao v Getafe, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
The four points Getafe took off Bilbao last season were enough to get them a Europa League place at Athletic's expense. Bilbao's Lloriente is in the form of his life at the moment with 10 goals for club and country already this season.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bundesliga Week 10 Preview Podcast

Week 10 of the Bundesliga is upon us and Terry runs the rule over the forthcoming fixtures, including the top of the table clash between Mainz and Borussia Dortmund.

Click here to listen to the podcast or right click on the link to download it.

Alternatively, subscribe to the podcast feed here or the iTunes feed here.

(Kick Off 14:30 unless stated)


Bayern München v Freiburg


Werder Bremen v Nürnberg

Wolfsburg v Stuttgart

Köln v Hamburger SV

Kaiserslautern v Borussia M'gladbach

St. Pauli v Eintracht Franfurt

Schalke 04 v Bayer Leverkusen


Mainz 05 v Borussia Dortmund

Hoffenheim v Hannover 96 (16:30)

The next Bundesliga game on Picklive will be Bayern v Freiburg. Click here for a £3 sign up bonus.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Real DFB Pokal Round 2 Round Up

(With apologies to the Real FA Cup)

Terry is back with an impromptu run through of the results of the second round of the German Cup (DFB Pokal) including upsets for the top two teams in the Bundesliga.

Click here to listen to the podcast or right click on the link to download it.

Alternatively, subscribe to the podcast feed here or the iTunes feed here.

Football Americana Week 30: Regular season finale

So that's that then. Another Major League Soccer season done and dusted, and another barnstorming playoffs bracket ahead of us. Here's all the information you'll need from Week 30.

Before the final round of games got underway, there was one 29th game to deal with. San Jose Earthquakes headed into the final weekend of the regular season on the back of a 3-0 win courtesy of three second half goals by Chris Wondolowski against Chivas USA. He was fouled in the 54th minute and converted the penalty himself before squeezing in the second and deftly turning in the third. That put Wondo level with Edson Buddle at the top of the goalscoring charts with 17 for the season.

New York Red Bulls faced New England Revolution at Red Bull Arena with the Eastern Conference regular season title in their sights. Juan Pablo Angel's excellent pass found Dane Richards in the 17th minute, and he smashed his fifth of the season into the net from the edge of the box to give New York the lead. Joel Lindpere's composed finish confirmed the Red Bulls at the top of the East in stoppage time, completing an impressive turnaround from 2009 for the club.

Houston Dynamo ended a disappointing season with a win over Seattle Sounders. The visitors took an early lead through James Riley, who thumped in a 12th minute strike to open his account for the season. But Houston equalised through Geoff Cameron on his return from suspension and got away with a blatant penalty and sending off when Steve Zakuani was booked for diving after getting absolutely clobbered by Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric. The home side took advantage when Cam Weaver headed in Mike Chabala's cross in the second half.

DC United said goodbye to the legendary Jaime Moreno at RFK as the Bolivian played his last match against Toronto FC - and it was some game. Santino Quaranta took just 59 seconds to give DC the lead, pouncing on some good goalkeeping from Milos Kocic. Maicon Santos drilled the equaliser low past Troy Perkins but United regained the lead before half time and you-know-who bagged the goal. Julian De Guzman handled in the area, and Moreno stepped up to take his all-time MLS goal tally to 133, re-taking the record ahead of Jeff Cunningham. But a second half brace from Dwayne DeRosario took TFC to three points. The skipper headed in his first and capping a fine counter-attack for his second.

Playoff qualifiers San Jose Earthquakes were given a bloody nose by Kansas City Wizards, who beat them 4-1 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. The Wizards signalled their intentions by hitting the crossbar in the second minute, and got their breakthrough thanks to Birahim Diop's header in the 36th minute. He got his second after an hour, reacting fastest to head the Wizards further in front. The Earthquakes goal came courtesy of Chris Wondolowski, who put himself ahead of Edson Buddle in the race for the Golden Boot with the easiest goal of his 18 this season. Diop went on to get his hat-trick with a lovely left-footed lobbed volley, and a stoppage time own goal from Eduardo made it 4-1.

Real Salt Lake travelled to Colorado Rapids with Supporters Shield in their sights, but they almost let it get away from them by going 2-0 down, and two stoppage time goals kept them in with a chance but left them hoping for a defeat for LA. The deadly duo did the business again for the Rapids, Omar Cummings and Conor Casey finding the net to give their team a solid lead. But a final push from RSL yielded two Alvaro Saborio goals outside the 90 minutes, the first thanks to a shambolic comedy of errors by goalkeeper Matt Pickens and the second a penalty after Jamison Olave was dragged down in the area.

Like Moreno, retiring Brian McBride got on the scoresheet in his last game for Chicago Fire, who beat Chivas USA 4-1. McBride's goal was a delicate flick set up by Freddie Ljungberg and got the Fire's scoring underway. Ljungberg got a goal of his own just after the break but Giancarlo Maldonado's header brought Chivas back into the game. McBride's replacement Calen Carr restored Chicago's two-goal cushion by rolling the ball home after ghosting past Zach Thornton in the Chivas goal, and Baggio Husidic put the icing on the cake with Chicago's fourth in stoppage time.

With the Eastern regular season title already out of reach, Columbus Crew had little to motivate them against Philadelphia Union, but they romped to a 3-1 victory against the 2010 expansion club nevertheless. Guillermo Barros Schelotto got the first from the spot after 15 minutes following a foul on Eddie Gaven. Emilio Renteria took advantage of a high defensive line to make it 2-0 and give him an excuse to make a quick call on his boot (don't ask). Andres Mendoza made it 3-0 late on, but Sebastien Le Toux was again on target for the Union in the dying minutes.

In the final game of the regular season, LA Galaxy came from behind to secure first place in the single table and, of course, Supporters Shield. Goals from David Beckham and Juninho sent LA back to the top after Atiba Harris had given FC Dallas a first half lead.

And so we move to the playoffs. Six teams qualify from the West (all four wildcards plus the top two from the conference), so Colorado and San Jose go into the Eastern playoffs and will have two-legged semi-finals against Columbus and New York respectively ahead of the single match conference final. In the West proper, it's Salt Lake v Dallas and Seattle v LA. It all kicks off this week, so have a look at the final table, watch the Week 30 highlights and get ready for business.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More than meets the i?

If you walked into your local newsagents this morning and had your eyes suitably peeled, chances are you'd have spotted that rarest of beasts – a brand new quality newspaper. Today saw the launch of i, an affordable daily that caters for people too busy or disinterested to ready a bulkier title like The Independent, the parent newspaper from which i was spawned.

Working on the basis that the average attention span of a mature UK adult these days is about two-and-a-half minutes, i aims to bring each of its readers all the news without drowning them in a tidal wave of superfluous information. Something with the lightness of touch and monetary cost as The Sun, but without the tits, you might say.

And so we wonder what this new title might offer the football fan. After all, every newspaper devotes a few pages to the beautiful game, but this being i, you suspect there's some sort of niche angle they might be taking. As it turns out, there isn't one, really. Five of its fifty or so colour-filled pages feature football in some capacity, and it's largely the sort of fare you'd expect to see in any other paper.

The nearest you come to a faddish novelty is the Sport Matrix. This is a grid of around 15 'squares' into which you'll find a topical sporting gobbet no more than two sentences in length. It's the i way of giving you the latest sports headlines on a need-to-know basis, presuming you haven't the wherewithal to look further into any of the stories regardless of their interest.

In today's issue, there were six football stories in the matrix, one of which amounted to no more than goalkeeper Joe Hart telling us that the Man City squad of which he is part is really rather good. Another place in the grid was devoted to a 'Sport on TV' listing that had four events in it, and one of those was 'Live Greyhound Racing' on Sky Sports 1. It's probably best to leave that sort of thing to us, but then again we’re probably biased…

Aside from the Sport Matrix, there were more familiar pieces written with varying levels of insight on current football stories. Sam Wallace told us that Fabio Capello hoped his future English assistant would stay in the job right through to Euro 2012 and beyond, rather than using it as a stepping stone to a big career in club football. All well and good, but Wallace's concern that the FA still hadn't filled the role one month after it intended to was not felt by me or, no doubt, many of my fellow readers.

Nick Harris turned his focus on the recent FIFA World Cup 'cash for votes' scandal. Though we learned that Spain and Qatar were supposedly in cahoots in trying to secure votes for each others' bids, there was little else to be gleaned aside from the ever-present insinuations of corruption among the governing body's ranks.

Of more interest was Damien Spellman's article on Chris Hughton and his pleasingly level-headed treatment of Andy Carroll as an emerging talent in the Premier League. As well as the expected reminder that Carroll has seen more court action than Andy Murray just lately, we were given lots of quotes from the former Spurs defender which will only serve to increase the respect he already commands in the football community.

There was also a detailed match report of the Leeds v Cardiff match for which Simon Hart deserves some credit, plus some throwaway 'news in brief' and an item on Roy Keane's shaky start to his second season in charge at Ipswich. This latter piece by Derek Davis pre-empts Keane's exit at some point in the not-too-distant future and picks out five other former Man United players who have tried their hand at management with mixed results. Three of them – Mark Hughes, Alex McLeish and Steve Bruce – barely need any describing as everyone knows of their current (and recent) history, while the other two – Laurent Blanc and Bryan Robson – are inexperienced and shockingly bad respectively, as managers go. It was the sort of mini-feature that was crying out for a bit of expansion but which, ironically, there isn't any place for in this deliberately pared-down journalistic project.

The one item that did stand out, however, was James Lawton's full page take on the Wayne Rooney affair. Here, finally, was a chance to get one's teeth into a decent article written with gravitas and forthright opinion while avoiding the relentlessly over-the-top emotion shown by fans and writers alike in the last week or so.

Lawton chose as a counterpoint to Rooney's greed Joe Mercer, a former Everton player himself who eventually went on to bring glory to Man City as a manager. Respected In much the same way as his colleague, the late Malcolm Allison,  Mercer kept his achievements in perspective and reflected on his success with dignity at all times. The skill with which Lawton inter-played the character profiles of these two figures made for a genuinely interesting discourse on the way football has changed in the modern era, and for that he must be applauded.

To conclude, however, I'd have to say that i has some work to do if it's to attract football fans in their droves. It can't simply hide behind the excuse that they needn't write in depth about the game because it doesn't reflect the paper's remit. Football articles need to be interesting, incisive, entertaining or all three regardless of the publication they appear in, and so far i hasn't convinced me it will provide them.

It is, of course, early days but with plenty of competing titles vying for shelf space in the paper shops of this land, i would be advised not to rely solely on its football pages if it's to make decent sales in the future.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Midweek TV Preview: 25 - 28 October 2010

Monday 25th October 2010

19:45 Napoli v AC Milan, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
After a disappointing draw against Catania and the 0-0 snore-fest in the Europa League against Liverpool, here is a tasty fixture to liven up the Napoli fans. Not that they need much livening up mind.

19:45 Leeds United v Cardiff City, Championship, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Leeds fans may be a tad disappointed that they're not a little further up the table despite being a newly promoted side. Cardiff prosper despite the uncertainty surrounding their finances. A tribute to David Jones and his players.

Tuesday 26th October 2010

19:45 Fiorentina v Empoli, Coppa Italia 3rd Round, ESPN/ESPN HD
With the pressure easing slightly on the Viola after their 2-1 win against Bari, they enter this straightforward Cup game confident of victory. Their opponents are occasional visitors to the top flight and currently lie fifth in Serie B.

NB. At the end of ESPN UK's telecast of the Bayer Leverkusen v Mainz Bundesliga game they announced that they would be screening the Bayern Munich v Werder Bremen DFB Pokal match in this timeslot instead. However, I checked their official website at that says that they are showing the Coppa Italia match so who knows?

20:00 Man Utd v Wolves, Carling Cup 4th Round, Sky Sports 2/HD2/3D
Wolves boss Mick McCarthy will probably pick his first team just out of bloody mindedness for this one. New United manager Wayne Rooney will have to decide how important the League Cup is to him given their recent troubles in the Premier League.

Wednesday 27th October 2010

18:00 Ajax v Heerenveen, Dutch Eredivisie, ESPN/ESPN HD
A Dutch Double on ESPN tonight in the absence of anything more popular to put on. Despite their best efforts, the Amsterdam club are still find Twente above them in the table. Heerenveen are mid table so dropping points for the Amsterdam club should not be an option.

19:45 Newcastle United v Arsenal, Carling Cup 4th Round, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Be interesting to see if the Toon Army turn up in force for this one. Presumably Arsene will play a number of reserves but with a full house and a first XI an "upset" is on the cards.

20:00 Vitesse Arnhem v PSV Eindhoven, Dutch Eredivisie, ESPN/ESPN HD
Blimus! PSV beat Feyenoord 10(ten)-0 at the weekend. That's just not right is it? Vitesse caretaker coach Hans van Arum had best examine the Feyenoord performance on DVD and do the exact opposite to what they did.

Thursday 28th October 2010

19:45 Bari v Torino, Coppa Italia 3rd Round, ESPN/ESPN HD
Neither team are in scintillating form in their respective leagues so there's not much incentive for the non-Italophile. Nevertheless, this is a rare chance to see Torino since their return to Serie B.

19:45 Southport v Kidderminster, Blue Square Premier League, Premier Sports
The Harriers make the journey to Merseyside, presumably minus most of their core away support for a mid table clash on a Thursday evening in late October. Sorry, this TV deal is good for the Conference how?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bundesliga Week 9 Round Up: Tuchel top, Soldo sacked

Andreas Ivanschitz (left) has had a quiet season at Mainz, so far. The Austrian was one of the stars of the last campaign when his club finished a more than creditable ninth in the Bundesliga. However, injuries and the sparkling form of Messrs Holtby, Schurrle and co have force him out of the limelight somewhat. However, the spotlight is now firmly back on Ivanschitz after his 70th minute strike at the Bayarena which proved decisive in Mainz' 1-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen.

It was Ivanscitz fellow subsitute Andre Schurrle who provided the assist after some good work by Sami Allagui. At the point of his initial pass to Schurrle, Ivanschitz was offside. However, Schurrle's cross did not move the ball forward so I guess his team mate was onside and the goal stood. Mainz hung on although coach Thomas Tuchel was getting increasingly uptight on the touchline. This was unsurprising as his player persistently failed to retain possession and close the game out. As it happened, Leverkusen were not up to the challenge and failed to gain an equaliser.

This was in contrast to Borussia Dortmund who rescued their unbeaten run with a last gasp goal from a free kick by Antonio Da Silva deep into injury time, against Hoffenheim at the Westfalen. Demba Ba took the lead for the visitors after nine minutes. BVB should have equalised with a penalty by Nuri Sahin. However, referee Wolfgang Stark adjudged Sahin's team mate Lucas Barrios to be encroaching and ordered a retake which the Turkish international subsequently missed.

All this puts Mainz back on top of the table with twenty four points. Dortmund are second on twenty two. That's six points ahead of third placed Hannover 96. The leaders excellent form has seen them to the summit but the inconsistency of the other supposed title contenders has established a sizable gap so early in the season.

Bayern Munich and Hamburg must have known that they had been bumped in the UK by ESPN in favour of a Rugby match. They contrived a 0-0 bore draw to make those who missed the game not feel so bad. Schalke were also held to a goalless draw by Eintracht Frankfurt (or the other way round, depending on how you look at it). Steve McClaren's Wolfsburg lost again to Nurnberg 2-1 which is a bloody good result for Die Club. Werder Bremen did, however, notch up a 4-1 victory which is kind of impressive until I tell you that it was against the leaky cauldron that is Borussia Monchengladbach.

Elsewhere, Pappas Cisse continues as Bundesliga top scorer thanks to a goal for Freiburg who, in turn, are heaping more misery on Kaiserslautern. 2-1 was the final score at the Dreisamstadion. Stuttgart's inevitable post coach-sacking revival continued with a 2-0 win at home to FC St Pauli. It seems that the club can only function in a state of continual crisis.

Finally, the Bundesliga saw its second managerial casualty of the season in the forlorn shape of FC Koln's Zvonmir Soldo (right). After a moribund first campaign as coach, last season, the club were looking for some signs of life this campaign. Alas, with Lucas Podolski unsettled and out of form, the excellent Zoran Tosic gone plus a public falling out with veteran goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, Zoldo was on thin ice. On Saturday, after a defeat by Hannover and with the club propping up the table, the decision was made and the Croatian was put out of his misery. Under 23 coach Frank Schaefer will be expecting some sort of response from his players against 1860 Munich in the Cup on Tuesday.

That's it. Results and tables here.

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Jeu Du Jour 2010/11: Podcast 5

Episode 5 of the Jeu Du Jour podcast features news about the recent stumbles by front-runners Rennes and Saint-Etienne, Lyon and PSG going great guns in Europe and Grenoble still looking on course for a second successive relegation in Ligue 2.

Presented by your genial host, Chris O.

Download Jeu Du Jour Podcast 5 as an MP3 here

Friday, October 22, 2010

Weekend TV Preview: 22 - 24 October 2010

Friday 22 October

19.45 Bristol City v Queens Park Rangers, Championship, Sky Sports 1/HD1
It's bottom versus top in the second division as unbeaten QPR head west to face Bristol City. Rangers flew out of the blocks but most recently have drawn two games in a row. City have won just twice, once at home against Reading on Tuesday. Jamie Mackie's eight goals for QPR is still level best in the division, but he hasn't found the net in his last seven appearances for club and country.

Saturday 23 October

12.00 Aberdeen v Hibernian, Scottish Premier League, ESPN/ESPN HD
The Dons were beaten at home by Hearts in midweek, and will encounter another Edinburgh side on Saturday lunchtime. Aberdeen and Hibs are in eighth and ninth positions respectively and it's the hosts that are on a downward curve. They've lost five out of their last six league games, but Mark McGhee has outlasted his opposite number. Former Newcastle coaching staffer Colin Calderwood is now in the Easter Road hotseat after the departure of John Hughes earlier this month.

12.45 Tottenham Hotspur v Everton, Premier League, Sky Sports 2/HD2
These two sides will come into this game in differing spirits. Everton delivered a sharp reality check to neighbours Liverpool in the Merseyside derby last weekend, leaving Roy Hodgson's side (at the time of writing, that is) in the bottom three. In the Champions League, Tottenham were 4-0 down at San Siro against Inter Milan, but Gareth Bale's brilliant second half hat-trick gave them something to cheer about despite a poor first half performance and some unimpressive defending.

17.15 Doncaster Rovers v Sheffield United, Championship, BBC2
Two Yorkshire sides meet in this terrestrial television football extravaganza on Saturday evening - why oh why can't the BBC show more Football League games? Rovers are a single point ahead of United, but the stage could be set for the visitors to steal a march on Sean O'Driscoll's side. Doncaster haven't won in their last three home league games.

17.00 Real Zaragoza v Barcelona, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
A scenario, dear reader. You're bottom of the league. You're winless. You have just three points from seven matches. Which team would you least like to be hosting on Saturday? Spare a thought, then, for Real Zaragoza, who welcome Barcelona to La Romareda with Lionel Messi amongst the goals and five wins from a possible seven already banked in La Liga.

17.30 West Ham United v Newcastle United, Premier League, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Newcastle matches have already provided some surprises this term, both good and bad, and there's no reason to suggest that won't continue. Last weekend they were 2-0 down at home to Wigan and earned a point at the death. They are below last-placed West Ham in the Premier League form table so don't expect a classic in East London. A win for either team should see them leap up a few places in the table.

19.00 Real Madrid v Racing Santander, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Unbeaten Real Madrid will be on a high at the Bernabeu when Racing come calling on Saturday evening. Two quickfire goals saw off AC Milan in the Champions League, and Los Merengues are top of the league ahead of Villarreal, Barcelona and Valencia. The league's joint top scorer is one Cristiano Ronaldo, who's notched five goals in seven league games as well as getting on the scoresheet against Milan in midweek.

19.45 Fiorentina v Bari, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
If Roma are in crisis, spare a thought for the Viola. Siniša Mihajlovic's Fiorentina are bottom of Serie A after losing to Sampdoria last weekend and the Serbian coach is the inevitable subject of whisperings about a change in the dugout, with former Brazil coach and Fiorentina midfielder Dunga a possible candidate for his replacement. Bari have won two of their seven league games so far and are just three points off the bottom.

21.00 Valencia v Real Mallorca, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Sevilla, dead level in the league with Barcelona, take on Mallorca after something of a non-showing in their midweek Champions League action. United States midfielder Maurice Edu had a mixed evening at Ibrox, scoring headers for both sides as Rangers grabbed another valuable European point against Unai Emery's side and striking the foot of the post to set up one of two gilt-edged chances that should have won the game for Rangers. Valencia pressured the Gers as the game wore on, but they'll be expecting better on Saturday.

Sunday 24 October

11.30 Parma v Roma, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Claudio Ranieri and Roma have had a torrid time this season, defeating Inter to earn their first win and then dropping right back into poor form with a 2-0 loss to Napoli. The momentum from last Saturday's win over Genoa has likewise been jettisoned, the Lupi beaten at home by Basel in the Champions League on Tuesday evening. Parma have just one win under their belts and that came way back on opening day against Brescia. Three points from a possible 18 since then is not an impressive return.

12.00 Celtic v Rangers, Scottish Premier League, Sky Sports 4/HD4
There have been sixteen matches in total featuring the Old Firm clubs, and not a single point has been dropped by Rangers or Celtic so far. All that comes to an end on Sunday in the noon kick-off in the SPL. That's right, fixture fans - it's time for the first Old Firm derby of the season! The Gers currently have the edge on goal difference but Celtic's mean defence has conceded just four times. However, each of their last three league opponents have found the net and with 11-goal Kenny Miller on the prowl you have to fancy the visitors to score.

13.30 Stoke City v Manchester United, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
United head for the Potteries in a state of utter chaos. Wayne Rooney briefed journalists on Sunday that he intends to leave the club, and Alex Ferguson confirmed his imminent exit in a candid press conference in midweek. In years gone by, it's always been foolish to write them off regardless of previous results, form or crises. Sunday's clash will give some indication as to whether their mystique remains.

13.30 PSV Eindhoven v Feyenoord, Eredivisie, ESPN/ESPN HD
It's top against nowhere in the Netherlands on Sunday. Mario Been's Feyenoord have banked just eight points from a possible 27 in the Dutch top flight this term and haven't won since August. Their opponents are top and unbeaten, with Ola Toivonen and Ibrahim Afellay firing in the goals. Perhaps the only glimmer of hope for Feyenoord is that PSV travelled to Hungary for a Europa League tie with Debrecen on Thursday.

16.00 Manchester City v Arsenal, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
In their free-spending quest for a top four place, City have started well and sit proudly in second place. They're three points ahead of their ailing neighbours, but also ahead of Arsenal. The Gunners are shining brightest in Europe so far this season and will see their trip to Eastlands as a crucial fixture against a close competitor. There'd be the Emmanuel Adebayor factor too, if anyone had heard hide or hair of him this season. (Please note: I wrote this on Wednesday, before Adebayor's hat-trick in the Europa League, thinking I would be roundly applauded for my razor-sharp evil streak.)

16.30 Bayer Leverkusen v Mainz, Bundesliga, ESPN/ESPN HD
Remember Mainz? They're the team that broke the record for the longest unbeaten start to a Bundesliga season and impressed every football supporter with consciousness beyond the Premier League. They're not unbeaten anymore, having been beaten by a late Hamburg winner on Saturday, and face the possibility of being reeled in by third-placed Leverkusen who are currently six points behind.

18.00 Sevilla v Athletic Bilbao, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1/Red Button
Think Fernando Torres is in poor form? Well, you're half right. But Fernando Llorente Torres is banging the goals in for fun in the Basque country, with four in seven in the league and three so far in Euro 2012 qualifying for Spain, including a heartbreaking/relieving winner against Scotland. Sevilla are just one point ahead of Bilbao in seventh place.

19.45 Inter Milan v Sampdoria, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
The season's going to plan for Inter so far with the Nerazzurri poised to pounce should Lazio or Milan slip up. The transition from Jose Mourinho to Rafael Benitez has been relatively smooth. Samuel Eto'o and Wesley Sneijder, who combined to provide the only goal against Cagliari (a game interrupted by racist chanting), have been in sparkling form along with Esteban Cambiasso, who is currently sidelined with injury. If you tune in for this one, keep an eye out for Jonathan Biabany and Philippe Coutinho.

20.00 Villarreal v Atletico Madrid, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
High-flying Villarreal have been beaten only once in the league this season and will be looking to stay in touch at the top of the table against Atleti on Sunday night. Brazilian Nilmar is Ronaldo's equal at the top of the goalscoring chart, helping the Castellón side to five wins from their last six Primera Liga matches. Atletico are not far behind and a win would see them go level on points with their hosts.

01.00 (Mon) LA Galaxy v FC Dallas, Major League Soccer, ESPN/ESPN HD
Ladies and gentlemen, presenting the final match of the regular season in MLS. A Real Salt Lake win over Colorado 24 hours before would mean that LA needed a victory to win the Supporters Shield, but Dallas have proved to be a formidable opponent this season. Their 19-game unbeaten run came to an end last weekend but they have more points than any team in the East and cruised into the playoffs.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bundesbag Week 9 Preview Podcast

Join Terry for a whisper-stop tour of the upcoming Bundesliga action this week. Highlights include Hamburg v Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen v Mainz and Borussia Dortmund v Hoffenheim.

here to listen to the podcast or right click on the link to download it.

Alternatively, subscribe to the podcast feed here or the iTunes feed here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Football Americana Week 29: Wizards bow out of contention

Most teams in Major League Soccer have just one game left, and the only remaining business to be done in the regular season is some jostling for position in the playoff spots and the fight for Supporters Shield. All eight post-season teams have been settled with play to spare.

Kansas City Wizards kept their playoff hopes alive in midweek with a 2-0 win over Chicago Fire. Only maximum points for the rest of the season would give them any chance of success, and they started the week well at Toyota Park. Davy Arnaud finished confidently to give KC the lead on the stroke of half time and Teal Bunbury's 80th minute goal made it 2-0.

But the Wizards came unstuck at Gillette Stadium, where they were beaten by New England Revolution. Shalrie Joseph hit the post in the third minute, but the Revs skipper later scored the goal that eliminated Kansas City. Joseph pounced on a slight mix-up at the back to score the only goal of the game with half an hour gone. Bunbury hit the post in the second half but the playoffs were disappearing from view and the eight qualifiers are now confirmed.

As a result of the Wizards' defeat, Colorado Rapids had no pressure on them as they travelled to Carson to face LA Galaxy. Edson Buddle (pictured) found the roof of the net to give LA the lead, but the Rapids ran out 3-1 winners thanks to a free-flowing comeback. Juninho's own goal got the ball rolling and Conor Casey prodded in their second on the half hour. Omar Cummings set up Casey's goal, and got one of his own in the second half to seal Colorado's victory. The visitors had struck the woodwork twice by the time they put the game beyond LA.

LA's defeat left just a one-point lead over Real Salt Lake, who'd beaten FC Dallas to keep their unbeaten home run alive and end FCD's long undefeated streak. RSL blew the Supporters Shield race open with a 2-0 win thanks to goals in the second half by Ned Grabavoy and Javier Morales. Grabavoy rose highest to head in the first, and Morales' accomplished finish killed the game in the final minute.

The good form of Seattle Sounders kept momentum with Steve Zakuani's early goal against Chivas USA. Osvaldo Alonso made it 2-0 in the 26th minute as the Sounders played with a good degree of freedom. Chivas had one disallowed for offside and eventually got their consolation goal through Jesus Padilla in stoppage time.

Chicago's second match of the week was a home clash with DC United. It was Brian McBride's final home match and the two sides celebrated the career of a great striker by scoring exactly zero goals between them. McBride's moment almost came in the 15th minute, but he'd been whistled for offside before firing home against a defence that had played to the whistle. DC came closest, with what would have been a second half own goal had Andrew Dykstra not been sharp in the Fire goal. McBride's substitution late on was a great moment befitting of a great player.

There were incredible scenes at Toronto FC, where Columbus Crew got the rewards for a much-used but rarely successful last roll of the dice. Chad Marshall put the Crew ahead thanks to a fortunate ricochet off the goalkeeper but Maicon Santos' brilliant strike equalised for TFC. Jacob Peterson tapped home to put them in front with his first MLS goal. Halfway through the second half, Toronto goalkeeper Jon Conway and Crew striker Steven Lenhart clashed under a high ball and both were sent off. Conway's dismissal was inevitable after he took umbrage and Lenhart's challenge and angrily pushed him over.

But it was the other goalkeeper, William Hesmer, who stole the headlines with a goal in stoppage time. He went up for a corner, controlled it superbly and took the chance like a composed striker.

Like LA, New York Red Bulls were also beaten this weekend. Philadelphia Union were 2-1 winners against the Red Bulls at PPL Park. Fred got the scoring underway inside ten minutes, poking it in from close range after a corner. Michael Orozco's goal made it 2-0 before the 30 minute mark, and New York could only muster a single goal, Danleigh Borman's finish making the second half interesting but proving to be nothing more than a consolation.

Houston Dynamo's annual return to an old stomping ground was a successful one, with Dom Kinnear's side beating San Jose Earthquakes by the odd goal The sides were separated only by Andrew Hainault's diving header, but it won't change the fact that the Quakes are in the playoffs and the Dynamo are not even close.

With the dust beginning to settle on the season, the eight playoff teams are LA, Salt Lake, New York, Columbus, Dallas, Seattle, Colorado and San Jose. As it stands, LA play Seattle, Salt Lake play Dallas, New York play San Jose and Columbus play Colorado. However, there is still significant room for movement. You can see all the action here, and the playoff standings here.

Bundesliga Week 8 Round Up: Dortmund top, Mainz toppled

In the end it was Hamburg's old warhorse Ze Roberto who finally did for Mainz. His pace and directness caused the opposition defenders only a moments hesitation as he headed towards the six yard box. But it was enough time for the Brazilian cut the ball back to Paulo Guerrero who rifled home and sealed all three points in the 89th minute. The final score was 1-0.

Earlier in the game, Ruud van Nistelrooy had a goal ruled offside incorrectly. Given that event, Hamburg will claim that justice was done. However the rection from coach Armin Veh when the goal went in showed that this victory was hard earned. Mainz had hit the woodwork and had slightly more shots on target than Hamburg. The game was full of attacking play, the highlight of which was from Mainz' Lewis Holtby who evaded a tackle with a perfect Zindane spin before setting off on a diagonal run with the ball only to have his shot saved by 'keeper Frank Rost.

Thus Mainz were denied a record eighth consecutive victory. Furthermore, their solitary slip-up has cost them their place at the top of the Bundesliga table. This was also due, in part, to another last minute winner in Cologne where Nuri Sahin's defected shot robbed FC Koln of a deserved point and moved Borussia Dortmund to the top if the league.

BVB took the lead after 20 minutes with a scrappy goal by Jakub Blaszczykowski. Koln worked hard for their equaliser which came in the form of a rare goal (for his club at least) by Lucas Podolski. His strike from outside the area looked to have rescued a point for the Billygoats and give their under pressure coach Zvonmir Soldo a much needed fillip. It wasn't to be though and the home fans for pretty upset when the full time whistle blew.

The game will be remembered for a clash between Podolski and Sahin. After an altercation over a mistimed tackle, the German international Podolski held up three fingers and a zero with one hand to remind the Turkish Sahin of the Germany v Turkey 3-0 result in the previous Friday's Euro 2010 qualifier between the two nations. Minutes later when Sahin scored the winner he ran straight over to Podolski holding a single finger aloft. Not terribly dignified I know but very amusing.

So with the top two swapping places it was also time for the third place team to make way. Hannover 96 have enjoyed a great start to the season and given the recent form of Bayern Munich would have been in bullish mood ahead of their trip to the Allianz Arena. Unfortunately, for them, the 96ers encountered Mario Gomez who had finally found his shooting boots. Bayern won 3-0 with Gomex scoring all three. His hat trick was a reflection of his performance. Playing up front on his own he was the epitomy of a modern centre forward. Strong, direct, quick and deadly. Hannover couldn't cope with him. Check out Toni Kroos superb lob for the assist to the second goal. The German international has taken a lot of stick in recent months so credit where it's due. He was immense and exactly what coach Louis van Gaal is looking for in a lone striker.

At the other end of the table there was a huge match in Gelsenkirchen. Schalke (second bottom) played Stuttgart (bottom) in an early season sechs punkter. During the international break, the Reds performed their by now ritual sacking of their coach. Christian Gross was paid off with Jens Keller (not Jen Keller bikini babe fans) placed in temporary charge. The game finished 2-2 which helped no one. However, the away team can claim that they should have score a third after having one goal chalked off for offside, again erroneously.

Elsewhere, St Pauli notched up their first home win with a 82nd minute winner by Florian Bruns. to make it 3-2 against Nurnberg. Hugo Almeida scored the winner for Werder Bremen in a 2-1 win against Freiburg (Aaron Hunt's goal was a screamer). 'Fanis Geikas is determined not to make the Bundesbag look foolish, after it predicted that he would be a great signing for Eintracht Frankfurt, with a brace in his team's 3-0 win at Kaiserslautern. Hoffenheim got back to winning ways with a 3-2 win over Borussia Monchengladbach who were, to an extent, the architects of their own destruction by getting two player sent off. The first red card will leave long in the memory of Sejad Salihovic of Hoffenheim after 'Gladbach's Juan Arango showed his studs to the Bosnian's goolies. Ouch!!

Finally, Steve McClaren must be delighted with the way Diego is settling in at (Steve McClaren's) Wolfsburg. He took advantage of a momentary lapse of reason by Bayer Leverkusen's goalkeeper, Rene Adler, to open the scoring in the Saturday late kick off match between the two teams. Grafite scored die Wolfe's second on 68 minutes and the home side were cruising. Then Leverkusen coach Jupp Heynckes brought on Simon Rolfes as a substitute. Two minutes later Rolfes had scored. Then, after some calamitous defending, Arturo Vidal equalised with a penalty. You can see what's coming can't you. Super sub Rolfes netted the winner on 82 minutes.

This leaves McClaren is left staring at the defense chalkboards and asking for medical reports of centre back Arne Friedrich and goalkeeper Diego Benaglio in the hope that they will plug the gap in their back line which is costing them valuable points in their quest for the Bundesliga title and a place in the Champions League. Friedrich is expected back at the end of November while we're still waiting to hear about Benaglio. If you see a red headed Englishman entering an alternative therapy shop in the Lower Saxony area asking for horse placenta, you'll know things are bad.

That's it, results and tables here.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Midweek TV Preview: 18 - 21 October 2010

Monday 18 October

20:00 Blackburn Rovers v Sunderland, Premier League, Sky Sports 1 / HD1 / 3D
Darren Bent could be a doubt for this one due to a groin injury, and that'll be bad news for Steve Bruce. Without Bent's goals, Sunderland would be bottom of the table on just three points. Sam Allardyce, meanwhile, will be glad to get through 90 minutes without any of his players being sent off after telling Danny Murphy that that sort of thing doesn't actually happen in the real world.

Tuesday 19 October

17:30 Spartak Moscow v Chelsea, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports 2 / HD2
Chelsea return to the Luzhniki Stadium for the first time since their 2008 Champions League Final defeat to Man United, and this visit may be similarly frustrating. The Blues look set to be without D.D.A. Drogba due to illness while Spartak are in tip-top form, unbeaten in all competitions since the end of August. Definitely one to watch, so don't be caught out by the early kick-off time.

19:45 Arsenal v Shakhtar Donetsk, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports 2 / HD2
It's just over ten years since these two teams played each other in Europe's top competition. Back in 2000, Arsenal beat Shakhtar 3-2 during the group stage, Martin Keown scoring two of The Gunners' three goals. Arsenal made it through to the quarter finals that season only to be beaten by Valencia who then knocked out Leeds in the next round. Ah, those were the days, eh Leeds fans?

19:45 Real Madrid v Milan, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports 4 / HD4
A fixture that never fails to get the juices flowing, although all the talk prior to this one surrounds Kaka's on-off move back to Milan. AC finally got their first win at the Bernabeu this time last year, but few will be betting on a repeat of their 2-1 victory in 2009/10.

19:45 Bayern Munich v CFR Cluj, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
A timely weekend hat-trick for Mario Gomez against Hannover will give the Romanians something to think about, especially after they conceded five (CINCI) against Vaslui in Liga 1. A Bayern win will extend their lead at the top of Group E.

19:45 Roma v Basle, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
A once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity for Basle to get one over on Italian opposition given Roma's currently collapse into mediocrity. Whoever loses this one will probably end the evening bottom of Group E.

19:45 Marseille v MSK Zilina, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Zilina have just notched up their second successive 4-0 win in the Slovakian Super League, which just might be enough to put the frighteners up a Marseille side still trying haul their way up the Ligue 1 table.

19:45 Ajax v Auxerre, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Speaking of which, Auxerre are looking a shadow of their 2009/10 selves, but a trip to Ajax gives them arguably their most winnable game in Group G. Mind you, Ajax will be thinking they can get their first win on the board too. Beating Real or Milan is not a likely option, after all.

19:45 Braga v Partizan Belgrade, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Serbian football is desperate to be cast in a more positive light right now, so let's hope Partizan can put on a display that will take our minds off the terrible events in Genoa last week.

Wednesday 20 October

11:00 Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma v Al-Shabab, AFC Champions League Semi Final 2nd Leg, British Eurosport 2
Four of the eight quarter finalists in this season's AFC Champions League were South Korean, so it's no surprise that a couple of them made it through to the semis. Here we see last season's K-League runners-up Seongnam playing Al-Shabab, fourth last season in the Saudi Premier League.

19:45 Inter Milan v Tottenham Hotspur, UEFA Champions League, ITV1 / ITV HD
This is where we get the chance to see just how much Spurs have learnt about playing in the Champions League. Against Werder they only played well in the first half, while against Twente they only came to life in the second. Against Inter they may very well struggle in both halves.

19:45 Man Utd v Bursaspor, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports 2 / HD2
United are looking a shadow of their ruthless former selves. They weren't playing their best before this past weekend, but now they've got Giggs injured with a pulled hamstring and Van Der Sar endorsing Teflon goalkeeper gloves. Not the best shape to enter a match against the current Turkish league leaders, and even a defeat to Rangers in the previous round won't change our mind on that one.

19:45 Rangers v Valencia, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports 4 / HD4
Speaking of which, did you know the Scottish champions haven't lost a game in any competition since early May this year? Oh you did. Well there's no harm in mentioning it again, we suppose...

19:45 Twente v Werder Bremen, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
On current form, you'd have to go with Twente to win this one, battling away as they are in a three-way fight for the Eredivisie title right now. Werder are merely battling with themselves these days, although a much-needed 2-1 win over Freiburg on Saturday might put them in the mood for a scrap.

19:45 Lyon v Benfica, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
With eight games gone in Ligue 1, Lyon are currently enduring their worst start to a season for 14 years, and yet they still seem to be pulling the results out of the bag whenever the Champions League rolls into town. Benfica are doing much better on the domestic front, however, and will relish the taking of three points at the Stade Gerland.

19:45 Schalke v Hapoel Tel-Aviv, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
The Israelis should look refreshed and alert having not played a game for a month. Schalke, however, merely *wish* they hadn't played for a month. One win in eight in the Bundesliga does not a top European team make.

19:45 Barcelona v Copenhagen, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Here's an interesting one. Copenhagen are currently top of Group D, two points ahead of Barca, and all in no small part down to the former Wimbledon midfielder Ståle Solbakken. He's the Copenhagen coach these days and is doing wonderful things, by all accounts. Barca are up to second in La Liga and have just inflicted a first defeat of the season on Valencia, so expect a cracking match here against the current Danish champions.

19:45 Panathinaikos v Rubin Kazan, UEFA Champions League, Sky Sports Interactive
Elsewhere in Group D, the bottom two make a desperate bid to avoid the wooden spoon, and given that Rubin have only lost one game (to Copenhagen) since early August, one would expect the Greeks to be adding to their collection of culinary utensils by the end of the night.

Thursday 21 October

18:00 Napoli v Liverpool, UEFA Europa League, ITV4
Liverpool fans were reminded of the fact that their club's new owners might be heroes but they aren't necessarily miracle workers, as was shown in The Reds' woeful 'performance' against Everton on Sunday. The Neapolitans, however, have made a decent start to their Serie A campaign and will be eager to show more of their current form in European competition.

18:00 Utrecht v Steaua Bucharest, UEFA Europa League, ESPN / ESPN HD
Two teams united by their inconsistent form of late. Utrecht held Liverpool to a draw last time out, but then again that's nothing that Northampton weren't capable of. One for the purists here, we fancy.

20:05 Man City v Lech Poznan, UEFA Europa League, Five / Five HD
The Citizens gave former boss Malcolm Allison an appropriate send off with an entertaining 3-2 win over Blackpool at the weekend. A European win over some much-fancied Poles would be even more appropriate for those that remember City's win over Gornik Zabrze in the Final of the 1970 Cup Winners' Cup.

20:05 Atletico Madrid v Rosenborg, UEFA Europa League, ITV4
We're starting to wonder whether ITV4 have shares in Atletico Madrid, but no matter. The defending Europa League champions are always good to watch and haven't been in a goalless game since April this year, so expect Los Rojiblancos to come out fighting with all guns blazing here.

20:05 Red Bull Salzburg v Juventus, UEFA Europa League, ESPN / ESPN HD
If you're still reading this mammoth TV Preview, thank you and well done. Your reward is to be forewarned about a potential display of exhibition football by the Old Lady against a Red Bull side that failed to trouble Man City last month. Juventus played superbly in a 4-0 win against Lecce on Sunday and could very well repeat their performance in Austria if they're lucky.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Weekend TV Preview: 15-17 October 2010

Friday 15th October 2010

19:30 FC Koln v Borussia Dortmund, Bundesliga, ESPN/HD
Club football returns to our screens with a Ruhr derby. Dortmund are vibrant, effervescent and any other adjective ending an ant. Koln on the other hand can easily be described by any words ending in ants.

04:00 Chivas USA v Seattle Sounders, MLS, ESPN/HD (Saturday Morning)
The Sounders are on a hot streak which includes their second successive Open Cup Final win. The run has pretty much sealed a place in the Post Season and a shot at the Double.

Saturday 16th October 2010

17:20 Middlesbrough v Leeds United, Championship, Sky Sports 2/HD2
The team with a decent home record meet the team who bring a home crowd with them. Estimated time before the Sky Sports presenter points out that not so long ago this would have been a Premier League fixture: 30 seconds. Any advance?

17:30 Aston Villa v Chelsea, Premier League, ESPN/HD
Villa fans are still waiting a signature performance under new boss Gerard Houllier and what time to produce it than at home to the Champions. Chelsea's only league loss so far has been away from the Bridge and that was the last time they left London.

19:00 Barcelona v Valencia, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
The League leaders versus the Champions. Valencia's start to the season has been as impressive as their overdraft. Casual pundits will predict a home win as Barca make themselves comfortable in the the new season. This will certainly prove to be the toughest test of the leader's mettle so far.

21:00 Malaga v Real Madrid, La Liga. Sky Sports 4/HD4
Real have only been truly impressive against Deportivo La Coruna so far this season. However, according to Jonathan from the European Football Special Superpod, that's because Depor are dreadful.

23:00 Philadelphia Union v New York Red Bulls, MLS, ESPN/HD
If I'm reading my Football Americana right the Red Bulls are pretty much in the Play Offs while the Union are simply happy to be in the MLS in their inaugural season. I've not seen the Philadelphia club in action in their PPL Park home stadium but understand that they fans generate a decent atmosphere.

03:30 LA Galaxy v Colorado Rapids, MLS, ESPN/HD (Sunday morning)
Meanwhile, the Rapids still need the points to prolong their season. Taking them off a dominant Galaxy side with Landycakes and himself back on song may be beyond them.

Sunday 17th October 2010

11:30 Cagliari v Inter Milan, Serie A, ESPN/HD
Can't explain the early kick off for this one. Answers on a postcard please. However, the bleary eyed Cagliari fans loss of sleep is the UK-based Serie A fans gain as this tasty appetiser will be over just in time for the Merseyside Derby.

12:15 Dundee United v Celtic, SPL, Sky Sports 4/HD4
If you're Scottish, on the other hand, then your tastes are also catered for.

13:30 Everton v Liverpool, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1/ 3D
At the time of writing, a Texican judge was just about to rule that Anfield be destroyed by Godzilla. If Martin Broughton saves the day (perhaps by petitioning for the release of King Kong to battle the giant lizard on Stanley Park, in glorious 3D no less) then it's possible that prospective new Liverpool owner John W Henry will be at Goodison to find out what he has let himself in for.

14:00 Sampdoria v Fiorentina, Serie A, ESPN/HD
Neither team can look back on the start of the season with much pride, it should be said, so this will either be a nervous mistake-riddled affair or end 4-3 with its meagre TV audience laughing up their sleeves at the rest of us schmucks who chose to watch Sky instead.

16:00 Blackpool v Man City, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Just the sort of banana skin that Man City could slip up on. One thing is guaranteed: a 0-0 is deeply unlikely.

16:30 Hoffenheim v Borussia Monchengladbach, Bundesliga, ESPN/ESPN HD
More goals in store from Germany. Hoffenheim like to score them, 'Gladbach tend to concede them. Nice to see ESPN showing a whole match on Sundays. Presumably there's no egg chasing scheduled.

18:00 Athletic Bilbao v Real Zaragoza, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Bilbao's solitary win in five is all that separates them from a place in the bottom three alongside their guests. Zaragoza are looking to extend their unbeaten run to er two.

19:45 Bari v Lazio, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Surprise league leaders Lazio travel to mid-table Bari. Not that mid-table means much in a league that's tighter than a gnat's chuff. Looking forward to having a good look at Hernanez for the Rome club.

19:45 Sporting v Sevilla, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Sevilla travel to Gijon in good spirits after a promising start to life under new coach Gregorio Manzano. The Sporting club are winless since early September.

Bundesbag Week 8 Preview Podcast

The Bundesbag podcast returns after a slightly extended absence to quickly rattle through this weekend's Bundesliga fixtures before I go to work.

here to listen to the podcast or right click on the link to download it.

Alternatively, subscribe to the podcast feed here or the iTunes feed here.

Kick offs 14:30 UK Unless stated


Köln v Borussia Dortmund (19:30)


Bayern München v Hannover 96
Schalke 04 v Stuttgart
Werder Bremen v Freiburg
Mainz 05 v Hamburger SV
St. Pauli v Nurnberg
Wolfsburg v Bayer Leverkusen (17:30)


Kaiserslautern v Eintracht Frankfurt
Hoffenheim v Borussia Monchengladblach (16:30)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Football Americana Week 28: Wondo fires Quakes into playoffs

Seven out of the eight likely playoff participants now have just two matches left as the post-season looms large on the horizon. Here's what happened in Week 28.

After briefly losing first place to Salt Lake, LA Galaxy have snatched back complete control in the space of a few days and are on the brink of winning the Supporters Shield. Their second win of the week was a 1-0 victory over Philadelphia Union, secured by Edson Buddle's 16th MLS goal of 2010. The USA striker headed home a David Beckham corner in the 27th minute and the Union will wish they'd had a man on the post. Donovan Ricketts played well in the LA goal.

Columbus Crew's momentum is faltering since confirming their playoff place and their hopes of topping the East are alive, but in intensive care. They were beaten 2-0 by Chicago Fire, who are now eliminated from playoff contention. Peter Lowry and Brian McBride scored the goals either side of half time. Lowry ghosted into the area and prodded the first past William Hesmer on half an hour, and McBride turned a Patrick Nyarko cross into the roof of the net to double the lead. Marco Pappa hit the woodwork for the home side who really took the Crew apart.

The weekend's highest-profile match saw Real Salt Lake head east to face New York Red Bulls and the two cancelled each other out to put LA in the Supporters Shield driving seat. Andy Williams' effort crashed against the post for RSL but it was the Red Bulls who created the most chances, unable to make them count and almost made to pay on a few occasions as Salt Lake gave almost as good as they got.

Colorado Rapids are on the brink of playoff qualification after a 2-2 draw in Texas against FC Dallas, who continue their long unbeaten streak. Jeff Larentowicz gave the Rapids an early lead at Pizza Hut Park with a lovely low shot after a counter-attack. Dallas hit back quickly, Milton Rodriguez and David Ferreira (pictured) making it 2-1 before half time. Just after half time, Larentowicz levelled it at 2-2 and the teams shared the points.

The match between DC United and San Jose Earthquakes was down to ten-a-side after just eight minutes. Jaime Moreno and Brandon McDonald were dismissed after an ugly confrontation - after the game, Moreno pleaded his innocence and claimed to have been punched before McDonald's headbutt. There doesn't seem to have been any justification at all for the Bolivian's red card. From then it became the Chris Wondolowski show, with the in-form forward blasting in the first and volleyed in the second in a 2-0 Earthquakes win that secured their spot in the playoffs when combined with Kansas City's defeat.

Speaking of which, Kansas City Wizards were taken to the brink of elimination by a home loss against US Open Cup winners Seattle Sounders. Sanna Nyassi (pictured) found the net at the second attempt in the 66th minute and Alvaro Fernandez took the sting out of the game with the Sounders second 12 minutes from time. Davy Arnaud's penalty was scant consolation as the Wizards hit the post in stoppage time and were effectively knocked out of post-season involvement at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.

In a dead rubber at Home Depot Center, Chivas USA's 3-0 win gave Toronto FC a bloody nose. All three goals came in the second half after TFC had already created some great chances, with Jorge Flores tapping in the first, Jesus Padilla driving in a late second and Rodolfo Espinoza sealing it from the edge of the box. TFC hit the woodwork twice in a game they might have won had luck been on their side.

And in another game with little riding upon it, New England Revolution defeated Houston Dynamo 2-1 at Robertson Stadium. Shalrie Joseph sprung the Dynamo's defence just before half time to give the Revs a 1-0 lead only for Dominic Oduro to equalise with an hour gone with a well-taken volley at the back post. New England got their winner 15 minutes later, Kheli Dube cracking in their second after a defensive error. A lengthy period of stoppage time turned ugly for the men in orange, who pikced up two red cards. Joseph Ngwenya went for a reckless high tackle in the 92nd minute and four minutes later Geoff Cameron completely lost his mind, flooring Pat Phelan with a vicious forearm smash.

Two weeks to go, and seven sides have now confirmed their playoff spots. LA and RSL lead the West and the combined table, with first wildcard Dallas also on more points than Eastern leaders New York and Columbus. Seattle and San Jose are in and the final spot comes down to Colorado or Kansas City - in stark contrast to last season - although the Wizards need a miracle and more in order to progress. You can keep tabs on the playoff standings here, and check out all the MLS action here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Midweek TV Preview: 11-12 October

Monday 11 October

19.45 Brazil v Ukraine, International Friendly, ESPN
Pride Park hosts an intriguing encounter between two teams in transition. New Brazil manager Mano Menesez has two wins from his games in charge, as his side look to rebuild their reputation after heavy criticism of the Dunga era. Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine are unbeaten since losing their World Cup play off against Greece but under caretaker management have put in some unimpressive performances including a 2-2 draw with Canada in Kiev at the weekend.

19.45 Swindon Town v Bristol Rovers, League One, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Swindon will be without Paul Caddis and Thomas Dossevi thanks to international call ups; added to a lengthening injuries list they could struggle against an in-form Bristol Rovers side who put seven goals against them in their two games last season.

19.45 Scotland v Iceland, UEFA U21 European Championship Play off 2nd leg (1-2), Sky Sports 4/HD4
All to play for here, as the Scots attempt to claw back their one-goal disadvantage. Things could have been better for them after they took an early lead in Rekyavik but this Iceland side are no mugs, having got the better of Germany in their qualifying group. The away goals rule applies so a single goal will be enough for the home team.

Tuesday 12 October

12.30 Romania v England, UEFA U21 European Championship Play off 2nd leg (1-2), ESPN
England will have to manage without the services of Jack Wilshere who has joined the full squad for the game against Montenegro later the same day. Stuart Pearce's team will need at least another goal against a very attack minded Romanian side.

16.00 Faroe Islands v Northern Ireland, Euro 2012 Qualifying Group C, Sky Sports 1/HD1
A fascinating group - certainly one in which you can't see one side running away with the points. Northern Ireland have had a solid start so far and a win here will propel them up the table especially with Italy playing Serbia later.

19.30 Slovakia v Republic of Ireland, Euro 2012 Qualifying Group B, Sky Sports 3/HD3
These two were drawn together in qualification for the previous Euros. That time they both missed out in a group that included Germany and the Czech Republic. For this campaign it looks like it'll be either one of these to join Russia. The Republic came away with a 2-2 draw here last time, they'll have to push for all three points on this occasion.

19.30 Switzerland v Wales, Euro 2012 Qualifying Group G, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Both sides are played two, lost two; another defeat will effectively be the end of their campaign in this five team group. Despite their position, Switzerland are a good side, Wales on the other hand are a shambles - can only see it going one way.

20.00 England v Montenegro, Euro 2012 Qualifying Group G, ITV1/ITV HD
Meanwhile at the end of the group... both teams here go in with 100% records so far. Montenegro have put three 1-0 wins together, so expect them to park the bus and try and hit England on the break. Could be a long, edgy night for Fabio's boys until Crouch scuffs in a late winner.

20.00 Scotland v Spain, Euro 2012 Qualifying Group I, Sky Sports 1/HD1
You do realise that in the minute possibility that Scotland win this they'll declare themselves World Champions. "Aye. I know Argentina beat 'em first but like that were only a friendly"

20.00 France v Luxembourg, Euro 2012 Qualifying Group D, ESPN
You won't learn anything about this French side here as they romp to an unimpressive 3-0 home win.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Weekend TV Preview: 8 - 10 October 2010

Friday 8 October

19:00 Northern Ireland v Italy, Euro 2012 Qualifying, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Nigel Worthington will be hoping his team can build on their morale-boosting 1-0 win over Slovenia last month, but they'll find it tough against an Italy side scoring goals 'per divertimento', so to speak. The Italians haven't lost a competitive qualifier for four years, so you won't need us to tell you which way this one will probably go.

19:00 England v Romania, UEFA U21 European Championship Play-Off 1st leg, ESPN
And now... from Norwich... it's... *not* the quiz of the week, and for that we must all be grateful. Stuart Pearce's young charges are looking to qualify for a third straight finals, but here they'll have to do so without Micah Richards and Kieran Gibbs who are both injured. Romania will be tough opponents having lost only one of their ten group games prior to the play-off stage.

19:15 Czech Republic v Scotland, UEFA Euro 2012 Qualifier, BBC1 Scotland
Czech coach Michal Bilek has been pretty scathing of the Scots' style of play recently. Having suffered a 1-0 defeat to Craig Levein's side back in March, Bilek claimed Scotland played an aggressive, 'unpleasant' brand of football. Worse than that, he said they played in a similar fashion to Lithuania. Nasty piece of work, that Michal Bilek.

19:30 Republic Of Ireland v Russia, Euro 2012 Qualifying, Sky Sports 2/HD2
The Russians have already lost to Slovakia in this group and will be smarting something rotten as they travel to Dublin. That said, Dick Advocaat is complaining about a lack of decent players to pick for his squad, so maybe Ireland stand as good a chance as any of picking up all three points.

19:30 Wales v Bulgaria, Euro 2012 Qualifying, Sky Sports 3/HD3
To describe the state of the Welsh side as 'changeable' is something of an understatement. Under caretaker boss Brian Flynn, there are players withdrawing through injury (Joe Allen and Ched Evans), players withdrawing through retirement (Danny Gabbidon), players being tempted back into the squad from retirement (Danny Collins), and that's before we even get onto the subject of who will become the new coach on a permanent basis. Just the sort of unsettled team Bulgaria need to play if they're to snatch a rare win.

Saturday 9 October

12:00 Brighton & Hove Albion v Bournemouth, Npower League One, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Say what you like about Gus Poyet - he's got Brighton firing on all cylinders at the moment. A highly productive September earned the Seagulls' boss the Manager of the Month award, all of which has to be one in the eye for his opponents. (Geddit?!? Seagulls? One in the eye? Oh never mind...)

15:00 Shamrock Rovers v Sporting Fingal, Airtricity League, Premier Sport
The pressure's now on for Shamrock. Having been beaten by second-placed Bohemians on Tuesday night, Rovers' lead is now down to two points, so a return to form would be timely against an unthreatening Fingal side.

17:15 Rushden & Diamonds v Mansfield Town, Blue Square Premier, Premier Sport
Mansfield were topping the table not so long ago, but a recent run of three games without a win seems them down to seventh spot - just two points ahead of Rushden. A fascinating tie between two teams that need to up their game if they're to see their promotion hopes realised.

20:00 France v Romania, Euro 2012 Qualifying, ESPN
Having earned a creditable win in Bosnia-Herzegovina last time out, Laurent Blanc now has the job of maintaining momentum with an experienced side reeling from the withdrawal of several injured players. Fortunately for Les Bleus, Romania are without a win after two games and could very well make it three draws out of three once this game's put to bed.

Sunday 10 October

15:00 Ross County v Partick Thistle, Alba Challenge Cup Semi-Final, BBC Alba
Partick are looking to avenge their defeat at the same stage of this competition two years ago to Airdrie United, and they'll be taking inspiration from a 2-0 win from their dry-run in the league last Sunday.

16:00 Fleetwood Town v Cambridge Utd, Blue Square Premier, Premier Sport
Third-placed Fleetwood play 21st-placed Cambridge. It's not all gloom and doom for The U's, though - Cambridge chairman Paul Barry has just given manager Martin Ling his personal vote of confidence. Ah, er...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Football Americana Week 27: Nip and tuck at the top

The playoffs are approaching fast and five teams are already in, with three more on the brink. Here's all the action from Week 27 of the regular season.

It was a disastrous start to the week for the Philadelphia Union, who visited Dick's Sporting Goods Park and took a 4-1 thumping from the Colorado Rapids, who were 2-0 up by the 15th minute. Omar Cummings scored both, poking home after Mac Kandji's pull back after eight minutes and heading in from a corner less than ten minutes later. Wells Thompson added a third mid-way through the second half with a tap-in after Brad Knighton fumbled Pablo Mastroeni's free kick. Quincy Amarikwa notched the fourth before Jack McInerney's impressive 90th minute consolation.

With one team in form and the other sliding out of playoff contention, you'd be forgiven for thinking San Jose Earthquakes would beat Chicago Fire at home without breaking sweat. No such luck for the Quakes; Chicago came to town and dismantled them, winning 3-0 at Buck Shaw Stadium. Steven Kinney gave the Fire a 1-0 half time lead despite a more promising start by the home team, who should have had a penalty at 0-0. Freddie Ljungberg chipped in the second and Patrick Nyarko finally opened his 2010 account to make it 3-0.

Seattle Sounders gave themselves a nine-point cushion in the playoff spots with a 3-2 win over Toronto FC. TFC took the lead at Qwest Field thanks to Dwayne De Rosario's delicious finish against the run of play. The Sounders came roaring back into a 3-1 lead with Steve Zakuani (pictured) getting things rolling in the 21st minute with his ninth of the season. Blaise N'Kufo's fifth in three matches turned the game on its head in the 26th minute, and Sanna Nyassi looked to have wrapped up the points on the hour mark. But there was still time for a late scare, Chad Barrett making it 3-2 with a header from close range.

Philly's faint hopes died at PPL Park with a draw against Houston Dynamo. Andrew Hainault pounced on some questionable goalkeeping to give the Dynamo an early advantage, but the superb Union forward Sebastien Le Toux equalised before half time. The Frenchman controlled beautifully before sliding in his 13th MLS goal of the season.

The Earthquakes were back in action on Saturday and had to settle for a respectable goalless draw with Columbus Crew in amongst the vuvuzelas of Crew Stadium. The Crew had the best chances and Steven Lenhart should have scored with a free header in acres of space during the first half. William Hesmer had to get up into the corner to turn Chris Wondolowski's effort over the bar in the second.

After keeping Real Salt Lake's unbeaten home streak alive last weekend, Nat Borchers scored again to give his side the lead at New England Revolution. Salt Lake took 68 minutes to break the deadlock at Gillette Stadium, Borchers heading in once more. The Revs equalised through Kenny Mansally with eight minutes left but RSL left it late again, winning it with a header by Alvario Saborio. The win put Salt Lake on top of the combined table and praying for favourable results elsewhere later in the weekend.

New York Red Bulls kept up the pressure at the top with a 1-0 win over Kansas City Wizards at Red Bull Arena. Dane Richards won it early, breaking into the area in the sixth minute and bending a lovely finish past Jimmy Nielsen. Kei Kamara's second half free kick beat Bouna Coundoul in the Red Bull goal but hit the angle of the goal. Richards also hit the woodwork for the home team.

FC Dallas have had a remarkable season, losing only twice, and it came to a head this weekend when they booked their place in the playoffs with a 3-0 win against Chicago Fire. Striker Milton Rodriguez put Schellas Hyndman's side in front inside 20 minutes, bursting past the back-marker and driving in from just inside the area. Marvin Chavez's deflected goal made it 2-0 and Jeff Cunningham got the third with a penalty after he'd been brought down when through on goal. Dallas are now unbeaten in 18 MLS games, and Cunningham's goal brings him level with Jaime Moreno as the league's all-time leading goalscorer.

Moreno's DC United picked up a surprise win against Colorado Rapids. There was only one goal in it as DC won for the sixth time this year, Danny Allsopp firing in from his second chance in a minute during first half stoppage time. Andy Najar was instrumental yet again.

And in the final game of the weekend, the Superclasico in Carson saw LA Galaxy pick up a routine win over Chivas USA. The Galaxy raced into a 2-0 first half lead but not before David Beckham (pictured) and Edson Buddle linked up to create a chance that Buddle chipped against the crossbar. Buddle made amends by crashing in a lovely opening goal in the 24th minute and Beckham also got himself on the scoresheet in the first half. Buddle was fouled 20 yards from goal and the former England captain did what he does best, finding the top corner with an unstoppable free kick to make it 2-0.

Former Galaxy player Alan Gordon's scored the Chivas goal but Donovan Ricketts in the LA goal gaving him a real helping hand with a comedic fumble. Gordon was offside. For LA, Eddie Lewis, on for Beckham, was sent off with 15 minutes left for a nasty stamp on Rodolfo Espinoza, who was lucky to avoid censure himself.

So, table time. LA are back on top after their derby win, with Real Salt Lake two points behind them in the West. In the East, New York and Columbus have confirmed their playoff places but it is the West's third-placed side, Dallas, who are breathing down the necks of the top two. FCD have also secured their post-season entry. Seattle, Colorado and San Jose are in the three remaining wildcard spots with a seven-point gap back to Kansas City. Toronto and Chicago are hanging by a thread, while Chivas and Philly will have to wait another year for playoff action.