Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday List of Little or No Consequence #186

Who did you say you were again?
6 Countries That Have At One Time Or Another Worn Their Name On Their Shirts

1. USSR (shown here in 1986)

2. China (shown here circa 1979)

3. East Germany (shown here in 1974)

4. Canada (shown here in 1986)

5. Algeria (shown here in 1986)

6. Iran (shown here in 1998)

The Bundesliga Show Episode 20 - Sadness for Schalke, Stuart Dykes and the title on hold for Dortmund

This week on The Bundesliga Show, Terry Duffelen and Jon Hartley are joined by Schalke UK's Stuart Dykes to talk over the Champions League semi-final against Manchester United. It may have been a sad night for Schalke amidst a wonderful Champions League campaign and the pod crew talk about the star of the show, Manuel Neuer and the bright times ahead for the Royal Blues.

Also on the podcast, a look at the players who have been turning the fortunes of some relegation threatened sides. Plus a preview of some of the key matches up coming on matchday 32 of this rollercoaster Bundesliga season. By next week will there be a new champion and who may have taken the drop?

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

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Weekend TV Preview 29 April - 2 May 2011

Friday 29 April

07:00 Cerezo Osaka v Albirex Niigata, J-League, British Eurosport 2
The third week of the J - League gets underway. The away side have made an unbeaten start to the season and lie second. Meanwhile the Osaka club have yet to register their first win.
19:30 Werder Bremen v VFL Wolfsburg, Bundesliga, ESPN / ESPN HD
The 2009 Bundesliga Champions lie in the Relegation Play Off spot. Returning coach Felix Magath is slowly reviving die Wolfe who are awash with top quality players. Werder can dispel all possibility of relegation, themselves, with three points.

Saturday 30 April

11:30 Motherwell v Rangers, Scottish Premier League, ESPN/HD
The "Clausura" is in full swing and the World looks on with disinterest to see if Scottish Football can go through another weekend without making a fool of itself.
12:30 Leeds United v Burnley, npower Championship, Sky Sports 2/HD2
With only two fixtures left, both teams are tantalisingly close to the top six and a coveted Play-off spot. It's a must win game and guaranteed drama.
17:00 Chelsea v Tottenham, Barclays Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
The battle for the right to enter a play-offs for the Champions League and a juicy London derby which forms part of your lunchtime selection.
17:00 Cesena v Inter, Seria A, ESPN
Inter are left with the forlorn task of putting some sort of pressure on Milan at the top. In truth, it's time to break out the holiday brochures.
17:15 Real Madrid v Zaragoza, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Deflated after their almost certain Champions League exit at the hands of the hated Barcelona, Madrid will look to take out their frustration on their next hapless opponent.
19:00 Real Sociedad v Barcelona, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Elated after their almost certain Champions League victory over the hated Real Madrid, Barca will look to celebrate by taking it out on their next hapless opponent.
19:45 Napoli v Genoa, Seria A, ESPN
Napoli's title challenge may be over but a welcome entry into the Champions League awaits them, next season if they can hold it together for a few more weeks.
21:00 Deportivo v Atletico, Madrid, La Liga, Sky Sports 4/HD4
A mid table tussle of little or no consequence.

Sunday 1 May

11:30 Liverpool v Newcastle United, Barclays Premier League, ESPN/HD
Suddenly Liverpool are in the frame for a European spot which would prove something of an embarrasment to Harry Redknapp and Spurs, given what a shocking start to the season the Reds have had. Newcastle have had a great season, despite the best efforts of their owner.
12:45 Celtic v Dundee Utd, SPL, Sky Sports
Celtic should be heavy favourites as they continue to push for the title.
14:05 Arsenal v Man Utd, Premier League, Sky Sports 1 / HD1 / 3D
The Big One. Arsenal's last chance to prolong their agony in their ill fated attempt to convince anybody that they are title contenders. They have a chance too as United may be a touch fatigued after their awesome display against Schalke 04.
14:15 AC Milan v Bologna, Serie A, ESPN / ESPN HD
A win could see Milan win the title, depending on how Inter fare this weekend. You suspect that it's a forgone conclusion, however.
16:10 Man City v West Ham, Premier League, Sky Sports 1 / HD1
A crucial game at both ends of the table. Despite a slight upturn in form, the Hammers are back in the doo-doo. City, meanwhile need to get that fourth Champions League slot in the bag so they can look forward to the Cup Final.
18:00 Villarreal v Getafe, La Liga, Sky Sports 1 / HD1
The home side have entered a competiton to to win a trip to Dublin so may have other things on their minds. Team Dubai Getafe have problems of their own so a football match will be a welcome distraction.
19:45 Bari v AS Roma, Serie A, ESPN / ESPN HD
Should be a straightforward affair for the Rome club as they seek to overhaul Udinese and receover from a dissappointing season.
20:00 Osasuna v Valencia, La Liga, Sky Sports 1 / HD1
Valencia are reasonably comfortable in third while Osasuna need the points to get themselves out of the relegation zone.

Monday 2 May

14:30 St Mirren v Hamilton, Scottish Premier League, ESPN/HD
The bottom two face off in this relegation six pointer. One problem: There is a nine point gap between the teams.
17:15 Cardiff City v Middlesbrough, Championship, Sky Sports 1 / HD1
First in a Championship double header that may determine the second promotion spot to the Premier League. A win for Cardiff sees them move into second above Norwich by a point with only one round of fixtures remaining.
19:45 Portsmouth v Norwich, Championship, Sky Sports 1 / HD1
If Cardiff lose in the earlier fixture then a win for the Canaries will see them into the Premier League and Stephen Fry into raptures.
19:45 Lazio v Juventus, Serie A, ESPN
A big game for Lazio who are in fourth place and have a hankering for some Champions League action, next season. Juve, on the other hand will be anxious to put this disasterous campaign behind them.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Midweek TV Preview: 26 - 27 April 2011

Tuesday 26 April

19.45 Schalke v Manchester United, Champions League Semi Final 1st Leg, Sky Sports 2/HD2/3D
Ok, let's go back to 2002. Real Madrid and Barcelona are playing each other in one half of the Champions League Finals while Manchester United play unfancied German opposition in the shape of Bayer Leverkeusen. United travel to Leverkeusen for the first leg and get a 1-1 draw - a scoreline most feel is enough to take back to Old Trafford. Leverkeusen go on to lose 2-1 to Real Madrid in the final. "Hold up! Latest odds are coming up nah..."

Wednesday 27 April

19.45 Real Madrid v Barcelona, Champions League Semi Final 1st Leg, ITV1/ITV1 HD
El Super Clasico Part the Third... or is it Part 3 Chapter 1... quite frankly I'm not too sure. Iniesta plays after being cleared of earning a deliberate yellow in the first league of the quarter final meaning he missed the return dead rubber and didn't risk missing this fixture. Yet another niggling, minor, inconsequential debating point that all adds up to Mourinho's own version of dark forces out to get him.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Football Americana Week 6: Zakuani and Ferreira injuries mar the weekend

A relatively low key week of Major League Soccer action saw the debut of New England's Benny Feilhaber but was overshadowed by a serious injury to Seattle star Steve Zakuani.

New York Red Bulls began the weekend by waltzing into DC United's back yard on Thursday evening and thumping them 4-0. Typically, Thierry Henry followed last week's goal with a quickfire double at RFK, his first coming after 12 minutes and once again with his head and his second from close range eight minutes before half time. Joel Lindpere broke away before finishing off a lovely goal with quarter of an hour remaining, and teenage phenom Juan Agudelo capped off the win with yet another stunning finish. Branko Boskovic hit the woodwork twice as United created some chances, but RBNY were imperious and DC's defence almost non-existent.

Friday's match was spoiled by a double leg break suffered by Seattle Sounders winger Steve Zakuani (pictured). He suffered fractures to his fibula and tibia after less than five minutes at the hands of Colorado Rapids' Brian Mullan, whose X-rated tackle was utterly sickening. Mullan got a straight red - hopefully only the beginning of his punishment - and Fredy Montero's goal saw the Sounders to a 1-0 win. Matt Pickens should have stopped it.

Chivas USA became the final team to earn their first 2011 victory with a comeback win over San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium. Chris Wondolowski put the Quakes ahead early, nodding home in the 16th minute. Alejandro Moreno's glancing header in first half stoppage time drew Chivas level and a second half tap-in from Mariano Trujillo won all the points for the Rojiblancos.

The Dwayne DeRosario trade took Tony Tchani from New York Red Bulls to Toronto FC, and he took centre stage as his side drew 1-1 with Columbus Crew. He smoothly fired home a ball over the top, but then jumped into the crowd to celebrate and was rewarded with his second yellow card. The Crew equalised a few minutes after the restart with a stooping header by Emilio Renteria.

Vancouver Whitecaps lost at home for the first time, falling to a 2-1 loss at the hands of FC Dallas. They went ahead through a Alain Rochat header from Davide Chiumiento's cross, but couldn't hold their lead even with Dallas missing a penalty. Two minutes after the goal Rochat was punished for a handball in his own area and FCD's David Ferreira saw his penalty swing wide of Jay Nolly's goal. George John headed the equaliser even as Ferreira was receiving treatment on the touchline for what turned out to be a broken ankle, and Eric Avila driving in the winner with six minutes left on the clock.

Sporting Kansas City continued their goal-heavy road trip but it was New England Revolution who emerged victorious with a 3-2 win at Gillette Stadium. Marko Perovic opened the scoring for the Revs, curling in from the edge of the D after a lay-off from debutant Benny Feilhaber. Kei Kamara crashed home the equaliser a couple of minutes later and put Sporting in front with a confident penalty 20 minutes from time. Shalrie Joseph headed in the equaliser to make it 2-2, and the game got away from Sporting when Aurelien Collin was sent off. Rajko Lekic headed home the winner, leaving Jimmy Nielsen stranded with a pinpoint finish.

Chicago Fire (in a fetching white kit with dull green socks) and Houston Dynamo split the points at Toyota Park, sharing a 1-1 draw. Diego Chaves blasted in the opener after some determined and somewhat fortunate work by Marco Pappa, but Bobby Boswell popped up inside the last ten minutes to head in the equaliser.

In the final game of Week 6, LA Galaxy thumped Portland Timbers 3-0. They raced out into a 2-0 lead, with Chad Barrett scoring after just three and a half minutes with a fantastic strike from outside the area. Landon Donovan was held back just outside the area three minutes later, but the penalty was given and Donovan rolled it in without any fuss. He doubled his tally in the middle of the second half, heading in Juan Pablo Angel's chipped pass across the goalkeeper.

That win took LA to the top of the West, although second-placed Real Salt Lake have four games in hand as they aim for CONCACAF Champions League success. Seattle are now level on points with Colorado, who've lost three consecutively. Chivas haven't lost in four and are now above the Whitecaps and the Earthquakes.

New York now lead the East, a point clear of Philly, who have a game in hand. Houston are up to third, but Kansas city and Chicago are struggling at the bottom.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday List of Little or No Consequence #185

Here come the girls...
13 Current Women's Club Champions From Around The World

1. Arsenal (England)
2. AZ (Netherlands)
3. Brisbane Roar (Australia)
4. Glasgow City (Scotland)
5. Incheon Red Angels (Korea)
6. LdB Malmö (Sweden)
7. NTV Beleza (Japan)
8. Olympique Lyon (France)
9. Rossiyanka (Russia)
10. Santos (Brazil)
11. Sassari Torres (Italy)
12. SU 1 Dezembro (Portugal)
13. Turbine Potsdam (Germany)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Weekend TV Preview: 21 - 25 April 2011

Thursday 21 April

19.30 Freiburg v Hannover, Bundesliga, ESPN/ESPN HD
Hannover's challenge for a Champions League spot took a turn for the worse last weekend, with Mirko Slomka's men having to settle for a goalless draw at Hamburg while Bayern Munich thrashed Bayer Leverkusen to all but end the title race. Freiburg played their part too, losing 3-0 to BVB.

01.00 (Fri morning) DC United v New York Red Bulls, MLS, ESPN/ESPN HD
These two mirrored one another at the weekend, both picking up their second wins of the season with 3-0 wins. Former Notts County forward Luke Rodgers put in an impressive two-goal performance for RBNY, while DC's Charlie Davies leads the league with five goals.

Friday 22 April

17.15 Nottingham Forest v Leicester City, Championship, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Forest have now won just one league game in 11 in their faltering quest to make their way back into the Premier League. They're now just three points clear of local rivals Leicester, who visit in this Good Friday derby. Both teams desperately need a win to keep them in the hunt for the playoffs.

19.45 Kidderminster Harriers v Fleetwood Town, Blue Square Bet Premier, Premier Sports
The hilarious Premier Sports' latest offering is this vital Conference game. Fleetwood are four points clear of Harriers in the race for the final playoff spot so Kidderminster can't afford to be beaten here. However, Town have won their last five in the league and Kidderminster are on a run of draws that hasn't helped their position.

19.45 Leeds United v Reading, Championship, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Leeds, in the last playoff spot, haven't won in three and now have Forest (although we've mentioned their form already) and Hull City breathing down their necks. Reading, meanwhile, are absolutely flying. Eddie Hitler's side are in fourth and have won eight consecutive league games.

Saturday 23 April

06.00 Kawasaki Frontale v Vegalta Sendai, J-League, British Eurosport 2
The J-League returns from hiatus this week after the horrific events and aftermath of March 11th, during which Sendai's stadium was left in ruins. The league will make up the lost time by playing through the period during which a team of European-based Japan players will compete in the Copa America in Argentina.

11.30 Roma v Chievo, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
The Flying Donkeys jet into the capital to face AS Roma in the first Serie A game of the easter weekend. Their hosts look almost certain to fall short of a Champions League spot and instead should be looking to hold of Juventus for Europa League qualification.

12.15 Dundee United v Kilmarnock, Scottish Premier League, Sky Sports 4/HD4
The top half of the split SPL table outside the Old Firm title race isn't the most thrilling prospect, but this match sees the meeting of Conor Sammon and David Goodwillie, two of the league's top goalscorers who aren't the departed Kenny Miller and don't play for Celtic.

12.45 Manchester United v Everton, Premier League, Sky Sports 2/HD2/3D
The title, surely, is United's, and it wouldn't be the first time a game against Everton has helped them get a firmer grip on first place at the business end of the season. The Toffees are unbeaten in six.

12.45 Cardiff City v Queens Park Rangers, Championship, BBC1/HD1
QPR's Monday night goalless draw with Derby leaves them needing one win to secure automatic promotion, and where better to achieve that than at the home of the team in pole position to join them? It won't be easy - Cardiff have won four on the spin.

17.20 Millwall v Preston North End, Championship, Sky Sports 2/HD2
North End are in deep trouble in the Championship relegation zone but unlike Sheffield United they seem to be fighting. Millwall's hopes of sneaking into the playoffs will almost be gone if they fail to win this meeting at the Den. Defeat for Preston would be a disaster.

17.30 Chelsea v West Ham United, Premier League, ESPN/ESPN HD
West Ham are in real relegation trouble now and were beaten at home by Aston Villa in a crucial battle last Saturday, Gabby Agbonlahor's stoppage time header sinking the Hammers. Chelsea did a few teams a favour by coming from behind to beat West Brom 3-1.

19.00 Valencia v Real Madrid, La Liga, Sky Sports 1
This one, bizarrely, will be showed with a two-hour delay...thanks, Sky. Defeat is not an option for Real Madrid (when is it ever?), although if Jose Mourinho still has hopes of winning the title perhaps a visit from the men in white coats is in order. He's smart enough to be concentrating on the Champions League and I'm sure that's what he's doing after last week's 1-1 draw in the Clasico.

20.00 Santos v Ponte Preta, Paulista Championship, Premier Sports
It's Paulista last eight time and big city behemoth Santos face Serie B Ponte Preta, who defeated Palmeiras on their way to reaching the quarter finals. Interesting Wikipedia fact: this was Pele's last fixture in Brazil.

20.00 Juventus v Catania, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
As mentioned, Juventus are still in the hunt for a European spot. They're shaping up reasonably well, and are unbeaten in five - however, the three games before that were all defeats for the Bianconeri.

21.00 Barcelona v Osasuna, La Liga, Sky Sports 1
Like the match from Valencia, this one's on a two-hour delay. Even if Real win, Barca will be five points clear with this game in hand. It's a bad time for Osasuna to be in such a position - their form is nose-diving and they're just two points ahead of Malaga, who are third from bottom.

23.15 River Plate v Godoy Cruz, Argentine Primera Division, Premier Sports
Jorge Da Silva's Godoy Cruz have lost three out of ten games so far in the current Argentine season, but a win would take them past second-placed River Plate, who take their lofty position despite scoring on average less than a goal a game.

03.30 (Sun morning) LA Galaxy v Portland Timbers, MLS, ESPN/ESPN HD
Major League Soccer newbies Portland opened their refurbished stadium last week and did so with a thumping win over Chicago. This weekend John Spencer's side face a glamourous trip to California and will be looking to upset the accumulator forms with a win at HDC.

Sunday 24 April

12.30 Rangers v Celtic, Scottish Premier League, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Ibrox, Rangers v Celtic, crucial game in the title race. And just to make matters even spicier, this Old Firm derby comes in the midst of even more antipathy than usual between these two sides. Oh, and it's on Easter Sunday - not that that means anything, because these two clubs are all about the football, right?

13.30 Feyenoord v PSV Eindhoven, Eredivisie, ESPN/ESPN HD
Mid-table Feyenoord face league leaders PSV, but at least they do so on the back of a big result. Last Sunday they went 1-0 down at home to bottom club Willem II but roared back with a 6-1 win. Ryo Miyaichi and Georginio Wijnaldum got two each.

16.00 Bolton Wanderers v Arsenal, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Last Tuesday, Arsenal's title hopes forced their undead claws through the dirty like an extra from a zombie film; last Wednesday, a 3-3 draw with North London rivals Spurs blew their freakin' brains out. It didn't do Spurs much good either, but at least Manchester was happy.

16.30 Nuremberg v Mainz, Bundesliga, ESPN/ESPN HD
Another big match for Europa League qualification, this one sees Mainz visit Nuremberg looking to prevent their hosts from pinching their spot in fifth. The gap between the two is currently two points, and their goal difference identical, so a win for Nuremberg would make the run-in very interesting indeed.

18.00 Atletico Madrid v Levante, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
No delayed coverage here, just good old fashioned live action. Atleti are looking to hold onto their position in the Europa League spots with Sevilla on their coat-tails at the time of writing. On Sunday, a draw at Espanyol prevented the capital side picking up a third consecutive victory.

20.00 Sevilla v Villarreal, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Sevilla are level on points with Atletico but face a difficult visit from Villarreal on Sunday. Giuseppe Rossi, scorer of 16 league goals this term, scored the only goal last Sunday as the visitors here beat Team Dubai...sorry, Real Zaragoza.

Monday 25 April

12.15 Colchester United v Brighton & Hove Albion, League One, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Stand up for the champions - it's Brighton on the road in League One and there's nothing to play for but pride. The Seagulls followed up their success with a win at Walsall, and mid-table Colchester are next on the docket. United's season is effectively over already.

16.15 Hamilton v Aberdeen, Scottish Premier League, ESPN/ESPN HD
This one's in the bottom half of the SPL, and Hamilton have put only three wins on the board all season. Aberdeen have already beaten this opponent three times this season, with Accies yet to score against them.

19.45 St Johnstone v Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Scottish Premier League, ESPN/ESPN HD
The top team in the bottom half of the split SPL, Inverness CT, face St Johnstone, who are four points behind them. Neither team is going down, so...uh, yeah.

20.00 Blackburn Rovers v Manchester City, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1/3D
These two have played out some corking matches over the years, but their first meeting this year wasn't much of a blockbuster. Nikola Kalinic and Patrick Vieira got the goals in a routine 1-1 draw back in September.

The Bundesliga Show Episode 19 - Bayern batter Bayer plus Phil Bonney and the run-in

After another decisive weekend in the Bundesliga, Terry Duffelen and Jon Hartley look at the big games with the top crop - Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich and talk about the future at BVB.

Plus the show welcomes back its first ever guest, Bundesliga commentator Phil Bonney, to look forward to the run-in for the final four games of the season. What will it mean in the race for Europe and for those seeking to hold off relegation?

If that isn't enough, find out about yet another managerial move in the Bundesliga!

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

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Eintracht Braunshweig - Former Bundesliga champions bid to return from obscurity.

The Hamburger Strasse Stadion held around 38,000 spectators in 1967. The home of Eintracht Braunschweig’s capacity is considerably less these days but it’s a wonderful thing that over four decades later the old ground is still playing host to this club with a modest but not unsuccessful history. For it was in 1967 that this club, located in Lower Saxony, won their first and last Bundesliga title.

The trophy was lifted on the final day of the season after the home side put FC Nurnberg to the sword by four goals to one. It was a proud day for one Jurgen Moll who scored the fourth in the final minutes of the game. The 27-year-old was born in the city and spent his entire career at Die Lowen. That career, as well his young life, would come to a tragic end the following year when he perished in a car accident.

Much like the previous season’s Bundesliga winners, 1860 Munich, the Braunschweig team were not exactly packed with internationals. The fledgling league was only formed in 1963 with many of its traditional power houses still in formation. Also, like 1860, the club were to go into decline in the decades that followed. Their last appearance in the 1. Bundesliga was in 1985. For the most part they were mainstays of the 2. Bundesliga but spent much of the Noughties yo-yoing between the Second Division an the Regionalliga. In 2008, Braunschweig were awarded a place in the inaugural season of the third national division, the 3-Liga - a division they celebrated promotion from two weekends ago, some 20 points clear of third placed Offenbach.

The key to their success was a magnificent unbeaten run which saw them drop only six points. So far, only seventeen goals have found their way past Goalkeeper Marjan Petkovic. Thirty-two of their seventy goals have been scored by the strike partnership of Dominick Kumbela and captain Dennis Kruppke. Twenty-one-year-old winger, Karim Bellarbi, made two appearances for the German Under-20 side, scoring one goal, and has supported the front line strikers with seven goals this season - the most recent being the solitary strike at Unterhaching that gave them the three points they needed to seal their promotion.

The coach is 37-year-old Torsten Lieberknecht. As a player, Lieberknecht enjoyed a relatively modest career which began at FC Kaiserslautern. However, he soon dropped a division to Mainz where he spent seven seasons in the Carnival Club’s midfield. There was time for a quick stop at Saarbrucken before playing the final four seasons of his playing career at Braunschweig. From there he made the transition to coaching, starting at the Under-19 team before taking control of the first team in May 2008 after replacing Benno Mohlmann. Nearly three years later he is due to celebrate his first major honour by returning Braunschweig to where their size and history suggests they belong.

Of all the Bundesliga winners since the competition's inception, only Eintracht Braunschweig and 1860 Munich are currently playing outside the top flight (although Wolfsburg, Borussia Monchengladbach and Kaiserslautern may alter that statistic at the end of this season). It may be a stretch to think they can become a 1. Bundesliga regular as they were for so many years, much less repeat their title success. Apart from anything else, their thunder has been stolen somewhat by Hannover and latterly Wolfsburg. However, they surely possess the support to sustain a prolonged period in the 2. Bundesliga. We are about to find out.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Football Americana Week 5: Jeld-Wen Field opens in style

A soaked Week 5 in Major League Soccer, and the opening of their refurbed stadium seems to have done the trick for Portland, who won twice in a matter of days to kickstart their inaugural season in the league.

The week's action kicked off at BMO Field, where Toronto FC played out a goalless draw with LA Galaxy in a game that will be remembered more for David Beckham's post-match criticism of MLS officiating than for the action itself. Chad Barrett's shot that thudded against the crossbar after 12 minutes was the highlight and one of three occasions on which LA hit the woodwork. Midfielder Juninho earned a yellow card mid-way through the first half and went on to be handed a second in the dying moments for an aerial challenge with Tony Tchani.

Portland Timbers played their home opener on Thursday, welcoming Chicago Fire to a rain-drenched, chainsaw-echoing Jeld-Wen Field for their first home game in MLS, and what a night it was! The first (given) goal at the refurbed stadium was scored by Jorge Perlaza after half an hour, a fine composed finish that had coach John Spencer out of his new seat. Less than ten minutes later it was 2-0 thanks to Rodney Wallace's volley through the crowd after a free kick.

After the break, Wallace turned provider with a low cross that goalkeeper Sean Johnson spilled right onto the toes of Perlaza for 3-0. The Fire had a tilt at turning the dream to a nightmare, dragging the game back to 3-2 through an Eric Brunner own goal and Marco Pappa's delicious curling effort after some nifty footwork ten minutes from time. With Chicago hunting down a third, the Timbers made it 4-2 from a corner and an almight goalmouth scramble which began with a Kenny Cooper handball and culminated in Dasan Robinson's unfortunate own goal.

The Galaxy and the Fire met at the weekend, with the LA side triumphing 2-1 at Toyota Park. They were significantly under strength and had to wait almost until half time to break the deadlock, Chad Barrett getting his name on the scoresheet with a poacher's finish against his old club. Omar Gonzalez (pictured) doubled the lead with just under 20 minutes to go, leaping highest to head home the vital goal. Dominic Oduro's consolation was the familiar run at speed combined with an uncharacteristically assured finish, but LA goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts should have saved it and, truth be known, caught it.

Portland's second game at Jeld-Wen Field against FC Dallas resulted in another win, again a win that should have ended more comfortably than it did. The Timbers took a 2-0 lead into the dressing room at half time thanks to Jack Jewsbury's shot that bounced off the post and then Kevin Hartman, and a great header by Kenny Cooper. Rodney Wallace cracked in his second of the week to make it 3-0 and the Timbers should have been home and dry. But Dallas responded with two goals in the last ten minutes, David Ferreira getting the first by sliding in to knock home Break Shea's pass, and Shea grabbing the second for himself with a delicate finish after the Colombian returned the favour. Ferreira would have a shot saved onto the crossbar still later.

It was 2009 champions v 2010 champions as Real Salt Lake hosted Colorado Rapids at Rio Tinto Stadium and it had looked like ending with the same result as TFC v LA. Fabian Espindola had the ball in the net just before half time but it was ruled out for offside, and the Argentine had to wait until the 93rd minute to finally score the goal that handed RSL yet another win. Javier Morales' brilliant free kick came off the post and Espindola reacted quickest to score the only goal of the game.

High-flying Philadelphia Union looked certain to continue their good start only for Seattle Sounders to score a stoppage time equaliser at PPL Park. Carlos Ruiz gave the Union the advantage with a deflected free kick in the 32nd minute. 20 seconds into stoppage time Alvaro Fernandez headed Fredy Montero's cross in off Faryd Mondragon's post to earn a point for the Sounders.

DC United got back to winning ways thanks to a Chris Pontius (pictured) brace at Toronto FC. His first came in the fifth minute and was a brilliant solo effort that saw him go past two men and finish emphatically into the bottom corner. Five minutes later Charlie Davies' fifth of the season made it 2-0 after he followed up Josh Wolff's saved effort to slide the ball into an empty net and matters got even worse for TFC when Ty Harden was dismissed just after half time for a professional foul. The decision could be seen as a harsh one in the sense that few referees apply the letter of the law quite so closely in terms of denying a goalscoring opportunity. Pontius' second was as superbly done as his first.

It was a rare goalless game involving Vancouver Whitecaps when Chivas USA came to town over the weekend. It's another point for the Caps, who sit in fourth in the West, but winless Chivas prop up the entire league at present.

A second half goal from Robbie Rogers was enough to secure a 1-0 win for Columbus Crew over ever-travelling Sporting Kansas City. Julio Cesar was booked before the Crew's goal for a foul from which Columbus would have been far better served by an advantage being played, but they soon led through Rogers' finish from a tight angle in the 53rd minute. Sporting played 20 minutes with ten men after Cesar accidentally handled the ball to earn a second yellow.

Like DC, New York Red Bulls raced out into an early 2-0 lead. A quickfire double from Luke Rodgers got the scoring underway against San Jose Earthquakes, his first a poacher's header and his second a tap-in after Thierry Henry had mugged the full back and played a great ball across the six yard line for the former Notts County man. Late on, Henry got one of his own on a night when it really didn't seem to be going his way. Rodgers' fantastic pinpoint cross did the damage and Henry thumped his header back across goal and into the corner.

The week finished in controversial fashion at the end of a game between Houston Dynamo and New England Revolution. The Dynamo had already had a goal denied when the ball appeared to have crossed the line before their winning goal in the dying minutes. With the ball dropping from high after it had headed skywards off the bar, the ball found its way over the line by way of an accidental handball by Hunter Freeman. Controversial, maybe, but goalkeeper Matt Reis was fouling Freeman right on the line in any case.

Philadelphia remain on top of the East, two points ahead of New York, Houston and Columbus who all gained ground. Chicago are bottom and have now lost three consecutive matches. In the West, Real Salt Lake are level on points with LA but already have a much stronger goal difference and three games in hand. Colorado are third.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Midweek TV Preview: 18 - 21 April 2011

Monday 18 April

17.30 Ponte Preta v Palmeiras, Brazilian Campeonato Paulista, Premier Sports
Palmeiras are top of the table and a win will keep them there ahead of the State Championship play offs. Ponte Preta are comfortable seventh place.
19.45 QPR v Derby County, Championship, Sky Sports 1 / HD1
A win for Rangers would see them go 14 pints clear of third placed Norwich in the Championship with only four rounds of fixtures left. If Norwich don't beat Ipswich on Thursday, the hoops will be promoted.

Tuesday 19 April

19.45 Newcastle United v Man Utd, Premier League, Sky Sports 1 / HD1 / 3D
A fixture that has lost some shine since the early days of the Premier League but an opportunity for United to get back on the horse after their Cup defeat at the weekend. Or to look at it another way, a chance for Newcastle to kick the Reds when their down.
23.15 Internacional v Emelec, Copa Libertadores, Premier Sports
Down to the final round of fixtures in the Group Stage. A win for Emelec would see them overhaul their Brazilian hosts and see the Ecuadorians in the knock out round.

Wednesday 20 April

19.30 Kilmarnock v Celtic, SPL, ESPN/ESPN HD
The Scottish Clausura is upon us and Celtic are a point behind Rangers, no doubt due to some vast conspiracy or another. Assuming the Rangers supporting Space Aliens, working for the SFA and the Scottish Media don’t zap them with their interferon rays, the bhoys should be fine.
19.45 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal, Premier League, Sky Sports 1 / HD1 / 3D
Spurs rise to the upper echelons of the Premier League has added additional importance to this fixture, beyond the local issues. Arsenal cannot have ruled themselves out of the title race while Tottenham will be desperate to relive their Champions League adventure next season.
20.30, Real Madrid v Barcelona, Copa Del Rey Final, Sky Sports 2 / HD2
El Clasico Encabezado Quadrupal continues with the Spanish cup final. Last Saturday's game was pretty cagey until Real went a goal down and decided that they weren't going to let matters stand. Drama guaranteed but this is the appetiser for the main event next week.

Thursday 21 April

19.30 SC Freiburg v Hannover 96, Bundesliga, ESPN / ESPN HD
The Bundesliga Weekend kicks off a day earlier to avoid Good Friday. This match should prove an ideal introduction to those of you keen to explore the German top flight's lesser known clubs. Both teams have risen above their usual mediocrity and have had impressive seasons. Particularly Hannover who have a great chance of a Champions League spot.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday List of Little or No Consequence #184

Get with the programme
11 Official FIFA World Cup Finals Programmes (1966-2006)

1. 1966 Official FIFA World Cup Programme

2. 1970 Official FIFA World Cup Programme

3. 1974 Official FIFA World Cup Programme

4. 1978 Official FIFA World Cup Programme

5. 1982 Official FIFA World Cup Programme

6. 1986 Official FIFA World Cup Programme

7. 1990 Official FIFA World Cup Programme

8. 1994 Official FIFA World Cup Programme

9. 1998 Official FIFA World Cup Programme

10. 2002 Official FIFA World Cup Programme

11. 2006 Official FIFA World Cup Programme

The Bundesliga Show Episode 18 - Schalke Spectacular & Deutsche Welle's Matt Hermann

Wow...what a week it has been for Schalke in the Champions League. In this episode Jon Hartley and Terry Duffelen take a look at how they made it to their first Champions League semi-final, and if they have a chance against next opponents Manchester United.

Deutsche Welle Sports Editor, Matt Hermann joins the pod to discuss the perpetual managerial merry-go-round that has seen the departure of Louis Van Gaal from Bayern Munich, no contact extension for Marco Pezzaiuoli from Hoffenheim and Holger Stanislawski set to leave St. Pauli.

There is also a look forward to what could be a crucial round of fixtures in the Bundesliga season at both ends of the table.

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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Weekend TV Preview: 15 - 17 April 2011

Friday 15 April

19.35 Bohemians v Shamrock Rovers, Airtricity League, Premier Sports
The Champions, Shamrock Rovers, lead the early table heading into the Dublin derby but lost to lowly Bray Wanderers last time out. Goal difference alone separated these two for the title last season.
19.45 Norwich City v Nottingham Forest, Championship, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Still hard to beat but Norwich have been drawing too many games recently to hold on to their automatic promotion position; Cardiff and Reading look far more likely to take that honour. Forest's win against an equally out-of-sorts Burnley doesn't suggest they've turned a corner for the run-in and they'll do well to get anything from this one.

Saturday 16 April

12.45 Motherwell v St Johnstone, Scottish Cup Semi Final, Sky Sports 1/HD1/BBC1 Scotland (Sky 971)
St Johnstone are in desperate league form, without a win in ten and scoring just once in that time. Motherwell can boast recent wins against Celtic and Dundee United (twice) in that time and must go into this as favourites.
17.15 Man City v Man United, FA Cup Semi Final, ITV1/ITV1 HD
No Tevez for City, no Rooney for United. Comparing United's victory over Chelsea in the Champions League to City's woeful defensive display against Liverpool on Monday, you can only see one outcome. But hey, magic of the cup and all that.
19.45 AC Milan V Sampdoria, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Samp are plummetting towards the relegation zone while Milan sit three points clear at the top. Milan's nearest rivals have the tougher run-in with Napoli and Inter still to face each other at the Stadio San Paolo in the penultimate weekend.
21.00 Real Madrid v Barcelona, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Part one of four. Probably the least important of the quartet of El Clasico's coming up in 16 days, with Real eight points adrift and with the much tougher run-in. Part two, the Copa Del Rey final is on Wednesday.
00.30 New York Red Bulls V San Jose Earthquakes, MLS, ESPN/ESPN HD
Both go into this with just one win each from their first four. Thierry Henry has still to get off the mark for the New Jersey side.

Sunday 17 April

12.45 Aberdeen V Celtic, Scottish Cup Semi Final, Sky Sports 1/HD1
A Cup semi-final is a small crumb of comfort in a terrible season for Aberdeen. They must still feel the bruises from a 9-0 demolition from today's opponents back in November. Under Craif Brown their fortunes haven't really improved, losing all of their last five league games.
14.45 Hibernian V Hamilton, SPL, ESPN/ESPN HD
Away from the cup action, the regular season in Scotland ends this week- with relegation for Hamilton already pretty much a foregone conclusion. Hibs will miss out on a top half place regardless of the result here.
16.00 Bolton Wanderers V Stoke City, FA Cup Semi Final, ESPN/ESPN HD
More revenue for the M6 toll road. Thursday nights on Five awaits the winner.
16.00 Arsenal v Liverpool, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1/3D
A must win for Arsenal in their faint hope to catch United for the title. They will need victories here and at White Hart Lane on Wednesday to stay in the hunt.
18.00 Osasuna v Athletic Bilbao, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Bilbao are one of four teams fighting over the three Europa League spots. Osasuna still have some work to do to guarantee a twelth consecutive season of top flight football.
19.45 Napoli V Udinese, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Udinese's fantastic post-new year run looks to have come to an end with back to back defeats denting their Champions League chances. Di Natale's recent hot streak of 16 goals from 14 games in that period has seen him overtake Cavani in the scoring chart. Seeing them both in action in this game should be a rare treat. Cracking finale to a bumper weekend.
20.00 Espanyol v Atletico Madrid, La Liga, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Espanyol's season has fallen apart since the end of January - going from the Champions League places to eighth now. Atletico are just a point above them but look far more likely to hold on to their Europa League spot.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Football Americana Week 4: Philly show the Red Bulls how it's done

An incredible EIGHT (tabloidy!) red cards were shown in Major League Soccer this weekend, and perhaps the fact that none of them went to Philadelphia Union players, who were particularly prolific in dismissal terms this time last year, might go some way to explaining their impressive start to the season. Here's the roundup of all the action in Week 4.

Vancouver Whitecaps picked up two of the three red cards dished out in their 1-1 home draw against New England Revolution. Gershon Koffie was sent off just before half time for leading with the arm in an aerial challenge with the Revs' Pat Phelan, and the Caps' DP Eric Hassli (pictured) would soon follow.

He was lucky to get away with a yellow card for a far more dangerous elbow on Kevin Alston than Koffie's, but his second booking was pure comedy. Camilo was brought down in the area and Hassli dinking in the penalty before celebrating by removing his shirt to reveal an identical shirt - name, number and all (except for sleeve length). Second yellow card and off, and that's a remarkable five yellow cards in three Caps appearances for the Frenchman.

Revs rookie AJ Soares got an extremely harsh straight red for fouling Atiba Harris in the corner but the visitors got their point against the nine men thanks to a stoppage time equaliser from Ilija Stolica, a few minutes after having one disallowed for offside.

The Revolution went on to get two more reds in their second game of the week, a 2-0 home defeat against Real Salt Lake. Chris Schuler's opener could have been avoided, as it resulted from a corner that was conceded by Ryan Cochrane when he could've just as easily given away a throw-in. Paulo Junior got the second with a crisply finished one-on-one just after the break. Shalrie Joseph was sent off with twenty minutes to go for his part in a ridiculous spat with Kyle Beckerman off the ball. Will Johnson's late tackle on Phelan earned him a first yellow card, and the pair were later sent off together when Phelan's disgraceful tackle on Robbie Russell provoked an angry reaction from Johnson, who got his second booking.

Seattle Sounders finally got their win, beating Chicago Fire at Qwest Field. O'Brian White opened the scoring  with a great header, only for Diego Chaves to equalise. Steve Zakuani's cool finish for 2-1 proved the winner.

FC Dallas had got the weekend action off to a great start with a 3-0 victory over Colorado Rapids, the team who defeated them in the 2010 MLS Cup final. Ugo Ihemelu got the scoring going with an opportunist's finish after the Rapids failed to clear a corner in the middle of the first half. David Ferreira's irresistible chipped finish made it 2-0, and the Colombian (pictured) added a third with a tap-in straight after the kick-off in the second half.

The stuttering start endured by New York Red Bulls continued with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of I-95 rivals Philadelphia Union. One goal was enough to settle it at PPL Park and it came courtesy of substitute Roger Torres in the middle of the second half after the Red Bulls' new superstar Juan Agudelo had hit the woodwork twice in the first. 19-year-old Torres fired past Bouna Coundoul just seconds after coming on, making the Red Bulls pay for Tim Ream's mistake at the back.

DC United and LA Galaxy played out a 1-1 draw at RFK. The Galaxy took an early lead, Mike Magee heading home a David Beckham corner. Just before half time Beckham put in a horrible scissor tackle on Josh Wolff, which should have earned him a red card, and the most vocal United objector, Santino Quaranta, would later be dismissed himself. Despite losing a man to two late bookings, United found a controversial last-minute equaliser. Sub Charlie Davies cruised into the box before going down after minimal contact from Omar Gonzalez - the penalty was given and Davies deftly scored his fourth United goal, his third from the spot. Jovan Kirovski picked up a red card after the final whistle for dissent.

Chivas USA and Columbus Crew also drew, but had to settle for a goalless game at the Home Depot Center. Eddie Gaven squandered the best chance of the game for the Crew, allowing the goalkeeper a decent save when he should have buried it.

There was another draw between San Jose Earthquakes and Toronto FC, with former Chivas man Alan Gordon opening the scoring for the Reds through a scrappy prod home in the 27th minute. Simon Dawkins rolled in the equaliser ten minutes later to earn a point for the Earthquakes.

In the final game of the weekend the Whitecaps headed for Texas to face Houston Dynamo and left with nothing. Cam Weaver scored first for the Dynamo ten minutes after Danny Cruz saw a fantastic solo effort hit the bar. Vancouver took just a minute to equalise, Chiumiento and Camilo again linking up and the Brazilian's turn in the box was sublime. Parity was shortlived, however, thanks to Bobby Boswell's goal before half time. Rookie Will Bruin all but made the game safe for the Dynamo with a cool finish 15 minutes from time after a great pass by Brad Davis.

With four weeks played, Philadelphia lead the East with nine points from four games. In the West, Salt Lake have won three out of three and are above Colorado on goal difference. Every team in MLS is on the board, but Chivas and Portland are yet to win. You can see all the Week 4 action at

Midweek TV Preview: 11 - 14 April 2011

Monday 11 April

20.00 Liverpool v Manchester City, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1/3D
Liverpool got a taste of Roy Hodgson's yam yam medicine in their last outing and host Manchester City on Monday night. They haven't beaten City since 2008, when a Fernando Torres double helped to punish the home side after Pablo Zabaleta's dismissal with City leading 2-1.

Tuesday 12 April

18.00 St Johnstone v Celtic, Scottish Premier League, ESPN/ESPN HD
SPL leaders Celtic travel to Perth two points ahead of closest challengers you-know-who. Last time Celtic played away in the league they fell 2-0 at Motherwell, John Sutton bagging a brace to take the sting out of the Hoops' win over Rangers a week previously.

19.45 Crawley Town v Luton Town, Blue Square Bet Premier, Premier Sports
And so, Project Promotion was a success. Crawley secured promotion with a 3-0 win over Tamworth at the weekend and will no doubt celebrate with gusto when they face Luton at Broadfield Stadium. One can only hope their success brings with it greater scrutiny.

19.45 Manchester United v Chelsea, Champions League, Sky Sports 2/HD2/3D
There's probably only one Champions League quarter final that wasn't settled in the first leg last week, and this is its second leg. Manchester United dodged a couple of clear Chelsea penalties to hold on to a 1-0 away win last Wednesday, leaving Chelsea with a difficult task at Old Trafford on Tuesday. By the way, Chelsea kick off the Women's Super League on Wednesday night at Imperial Fields, the home of the mighty Tooting & Mitcham United.

19.45 Shakhtar Donetsk v Barcelona, Champions League, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Barcelona turned on the style at the Nou Camp, thumping Shakhtar 5-1 in the first leg to all but seal the tie at the first time of asking. They had five different goalscorers too: Andres Iniesta, Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Seydou Keita, and Xavi all found the net as Barca cruised to victory.

Wednesday 13 April

19.45 Tottenham Hotspur v Real Madrid, Champions League, ITV1/ITV1 HD
Harry Redknapp will be avoiding Madrid for a while - that's twice he's been absolutely mugged there in a matter of months. A double from former Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor set Real on their way to a 4-0 win in the first leg of this quarter final, leaving Spurs with a mountain to climb. Good luck with that.

19.45 Schalke v Inter Milan, Champions League, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Ralf Rangnick's back, and he means business. Schalke's incredible second half at San Siro put them in the driving seat against defending champions Inter, the first leg ending 5-2 despite the Nerazzurri twice taking the lead in the first half.

00.50 (Thu morning) Estudiantes v Cruzeiro, Copa Libertadores, Premier Sports
It's Libertadores in the early hours again this week, and two big names meet in La Plata in Group 7. Four-times Libertadores champions Estudiantes are at home to Brazil's Cruzeiro, their final opponents when they won the competition in 2009. Cruzeiro ran out 5-0 winners when these two met in the first game of the group stage in February.

Thursday 14 April

04.00 (Fri morning) Portland Timbers v Chicago Fire, Major League Soccer, ESPN/ESPN HD
Portland return from a weekend off to play a Chicago side defeated by Steve Zakuani's goal for Seattle on Saturday. This game is the opening match at Jeld-Wen Field, the newly re-furbed and renamed Portland stadium. Expect noise.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday List of Little or No Consequence #183

Where did all the Rons go?
The 8 Most Popular First Names For Managers* Of Clubs In England's Top Four Tiers

1. Paul
(8 - Jewell, Ipswich; Lambert, Norwich; Tisdale, Exeter; Dickov, Oldham; Hart, Swindon; Peschisolido, Burton; Sturrock, Southend; Buckle, Torquay)

2. Steve
(5 - Kean, Blackburn; Bruce, Sunderland; Harrison, Coventry; Cotterill, Portsmouth; Tilson, Lincoln)

3. Gary
(4 - Megson, Sheffield Wednesday; Simpson, Macclesfield; Johnson, Northampton; Waddock, Wycombe)

4. John
(4 - Ward, Colchester; Still, Dagenham and Redbridge; Coleman, Accrington Stanley; Sheridan, Chesterfield)

5. Mark
(4 - Hughes, Fulham; Robins, Barnsley; Yates, Cheltenham; Grew, Port Vale)

6. Andy
(3 - Thorn, Coventry; Hessenthaler, Gillingham; Liddell, Rotherham)

7. Mick/Micky
(3 - McCarthy, Wolves; Wadsworth, Hartlepool; Adams, Sheffield United)

8. Nigel
(3 - Clough, Derby; Pearson, Hull; Adkins, Southampton)

* Includes Caretaker Managers, Player-Managers and Joint Managers.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Weekend TV Preview 8-10 April 2011

Friday 8 April 2011

19.30 Eintracht Frankfurt v Werder Bremen, Bundesliga, ESPN/HD

Frankfurt's new coach, Christoph Daum's legendary moustache is looking a little trimmer these days. He and his soup strainer are making their first home appearance. His team face a Bremen side who are five games unbeaten but short on wins. May be hard work to watch, this one.

Saturday 9 April 2011

12.45 Wolves v Everton, Premier League, Sky Sports 2/HD2
It's a measure of how competitive the Premier League is that Wolves have only lost one game in five and yet are second from bottom of the League. Meanwhile Everton are all of nine points off a Europe League Spot they are only four away from Liverpool. Incentive enough to keeping going until the end of the season.
17.00 Inter Milan v Chievo, Serie A, ESPN/HD
Vital game for the champions who are in need of a lift after the derby day defeat last weekend and Champions League humiliation at the hands of a mid table Bundesliga side. Chievo are mid table themselves but should be there for the taking.
17.00 Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid, La Liga, Sky Sports 4

Fifth placed Athletic club will be a sterner test than Tottenham were on Tuesday for Real. Domestically, Jose Mourinho is still coming to terms with what it feels like to lose at home. A trip to the lovely city of Bilbao (with it's Norman Foster designed subway stations) may be just the ticket).

17.20 Swansea City v Norwich City, Championship, Sky Sports 1/HD1
An ideal opportunity for fourth placed Swansea to narrow the gap two a single point between themselves and second placed Norwich. That won't be easy as the Canaries have only lost twice on the road since September last year.
19.00 Barcelona v Almeria, La Liga, Sky Sports 4
Top plays bottom. This could be a match that Barca choose to phone in given they have a trip to Donetsk in the offing.
19.45 Udinese v Roma, Serie A, ESPN / HD
Both teams had their progress interrupted by defeats last week so both will be anxious to get back on their horses. The Udine club have won a lot of friends with their brand of attacking football which makes this game, must watch status.
21.00 Mallorca v Sevilla, La Liga, Sky Sports 4
While Bilbao battle against Real Madrid, Sevilla have a choice to overhaul them in the table with a win over mid table Mallorca.
00.00 Philadelphia Union v New York Red Bulls, MLS, ESPN/HD
The second year expansion team, Chester Union take on the Harrison Energy Drink Concern FC. The new MLS season is still taking shape as these to Eastern Conference rivals meet. Union have the edge in the table but New York are just a point behind.

Sunday 10 April 2011

11.30 Juventus v Genoa, Serie A, ESPN/HD
Buoyed by a decent result against Roma last week, Juve are keen to achieve something this season. Even if it's a Europe League Spot. Genoa should be a surmountable obstacle.
12.45 Hamilton v Rangers, SPL, Sky Sports 4/HD4
Not much of a contest here, in truth. Hamilton are rock bottom of the table and preparing for life in the First Division. Ranger did lose recently to Dundee United but it would take a brave person to back a home win.
13.30 Blackpool v Arsenal, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
Both teams seriously need the points to restart their seasons. Three consecutive draws for the Gunners is hardly what the Dr Wenger ordered. Meanwhile Professor Holloway, the Mad Alchemist, is in danger of turning his nugget of green into a splat!
14.00 Bologna v Napoli, Serie A, ESPN/ESPN HD
Anyone who still thinks that Serie A is dull has been watching too much Sky Sports and not enough Napoli. Their heart stopping 4-3 win over Lazio last weekend was one of the highlights of the season in any league. All being well, next season, the Naples club will be in the Champions League.
16.00 Aston Villa v Newcastle United, Premier League, Sky Sports 1/HD1
The ever hungry Grumpy Monster of Villa Park sits in the bowels of the old stadium feeding off the Harumphs of the Villa faithful. He'll look back on this season as a golden age.
16.30 Bayer Leverkusen v St Pauli, Bundesliga, ESPN/HD
Leverkusen continue to shore up a Champions League place. However, all eyes are on St Pauli whose last match was abandoned after a supporter threw a beaker of beer at a linesman, hitting him on the back of the head, during their last home game against Schalke. The result stood at 2-0 with further sanctions against the club to come. The Hamburg club have now lost six in a row and need a performance to restore some faith.
19.00 Atletico Madrid v Real Sociedad (Second Half Only), La Liga, Sky Sports 2/HD2
While Atleti have only lost one game in their last seven their home record is not great. Having said that, Sociedad 's away from home record is nothing to write home about. Not one for the accumulator, methinks.
20.00 Valencia v Villarreal, La Liga, Sky Sports 2/HD2
As you retire to the drawing room for port and cigars, be sure to take in what should be a cracking match between the third and fourth placed team in La Liga.

The Bundesliga Show Episode 17 - Tim Röhn and Paul Lambert

Stand-by for a bumper extended edition podcast! Jon Hartley and Terry Duffelen talk about the amazing night for Schalke in the Champions League with their extraordinary victory over Inter. There is also the sorry scenes at the Millerntor to discuss after an official was hit by a plastic pint glass in St. Pauli's game with Schalke last weekend.

There are two interviews on the podcast this week, the first with former Borussia Dortmund legend Paul Lambert and also a chat with Tim Röhn from Bild (@BILD_Werder on twitter) about the fortunes of Werder Bremen.

If that wasn't enough thre is also a look forward to the weekend fixtures in the Bundesliga

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

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Football Americana Week 3: Whitecaps comeback stuns SKC

It was another dramatic weekend in Major League Soccer, with some high-scoring matches and a few controversial red cards.

Columbus Crew got the action underway with a 2-0 win over FC Dallas at Crew Stadium. Two second half goals did the trick after the first half sending off of FCD's Jackson, who picked up yellow cards for a high tackle followed instantly by a stupid trip on Eddie Gaven. George John brought down Emmanuel Epko in the 53rd minute, allowing Andres Mendoza to make Dallas pay from the spot. Gaven added the second in stoppage time with a lovely curled finish.

Toronto FC and Chivas USA split the points at BMO Field thanks to a 1-1 draw. Alejandro Moreno got Chivas off the mark after just 111 seconds but the LA club had to settle for a single point after they were punished for missing early chances by a former team-mate. Alan Gordon had already headed against the post by the time he found Toronto's equaliser, a glancing header from a deep free kick. TFC had a second goal disallowed before half time and missed a real sitter with 25 minutes to go.

The game of the week once again featured Vancouver Whitecaps, who hosted Sporting Kansas City in a rip-roaring encounter at Empire Field. The Whitecaps had some good first half chances but it was KC who took the lead before half time through Teal Bunbury's finish from the edge of the box. He got his second with a superb turn and finish before Sporting made it 3-0 with Kei Kamara's controlled shot.

Amazingly, Vancouver went on to take a point from the game. Atiba Harris nudged in their first with just over quarter of an hour to go but the Whitecaps entered injury time two goals behind. Davide Chiumiento turned the ball inside for Camilo (pictured) to poke in their second, and the Brazilian lifted the roof of the stadium with an unstoppable diving header a minute later.

It was 1-1 when New England Revolution met Portland Timbers, both goals coming in the first half at Gillette Stadium. Stephen McCarthy gave the Revs the lead - and opened his MLS account - halfway through the first half with a volley that should have been stopped by the goalkeeper. Timbers skipper Jack Jewsbury equalised with a powerful shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

The same score failed to differentiate between Houston Dynamo and New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena as the fancied Red Bulls again failed to take maximum points. The second half started brightly for them, Dane Richards finishing coolly after a defence-splitting pass from new Red Bulls signing and former Dynamo player Dwayne DeRosario. Cam Weaver's equaliser just minutes later was a composed lob over Bouna Coundoul.

In California, LA Galaxy edged out Philadelphia Union with a 1-0 victory courtesy of Leonardo's first half header past Faryd Mondragon. It was Leonardo's first MLS goal, and was an easy finish after he'd been left wide open from a David Beckham free kick. That was that for the scoring, but the second half was a story of two dismissals. Chris Birchall went first, leaving the Galaxy to defend their lead for 40 minutes. The Trinidad & Tobago international walked for his involvement in an off-the-ball incident with Carlos Ruiz. The Union's red came deep into stoppage time when Jack McInerney was sent off for raising his hands to Chad Barrett after a thumping challenge by the LA substitute.

Four goals were shared down the middle by San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders, who are yet to win this season despite being tipped for success. Brad Evans opened the scoring for the Sounders, poking in after quarter of an hour, only for Simon Dawkins to level it for the Quakes with a neat finish. Seattle went in ahead at half time thanks to O'Brian White's header, but Khari Stephenson equalised early in the second period with a wonderful strike in off the bar from distance. The goal came shortly after Ryan Johnson had been fouled by Jeff Parke but no penalty was given.

A late assault by Colorado Rapids turned 1-1 into 4-1 at home against DC United at a snowy Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Under-strength DC went behind through Caleb Folan's first goal for the Rapids, scored thanks in large part to appalling defending. United equalised with 20 minutes left, Santino Quaranta volleying home from a superb cross by rookie Chris Korb. Jamie Smith put the Rapids right back into the lead and from there it was all Colorado. Folan (pictured) got his second with a header that Pat Onstad should have dealt with, and the fourth was scored by substitute Omar Cummings who nodded home after Pablo Mastroeni's pass ricocheted up to him on six yards.

So that's Week 3 down, and it's time to have our first look at the tables. Philly continue to lead the East and are the only team in the conference with two wins under their belts. New England, New York and Chicago remain unbeaten. In the West, the Rapids are three for three and lead the conference ahead of LA and Real Salt Lake. You can see all the action at

While we're on the subject, huge congratulations to RSL for eliminating Deportivo Saprissa to reach the CONCACAF Champions League final, where they'll play Cruz Azul or Monterrey over two legs at the end of the month.

Our Favourite XI

Our good friend Chris Nee has recently hit upon a winning format for his wonderful website, and it’s called ‘My Favourite XI’. In it, he invites people to submit a fantasy football team made up of players that are special in some way to the author.

To that end, we – that’s Terry, Graham and Chris, your humble Football Fairground spear-carriers - thought we’d get together to create a joint  Favourite XI which we’d initially put together through the medium of our Sound of Football podcast. You can hear our verbal machinations here, but for those of you that can’t bear the sound of our voices, here’s the team we ended up selecting...

Goalkeeper: John Burridge
Look up ‘journeyman’ on Wikipedia, and it should, if there’s any justice in the world, show you a picture of this former Crystal Palace goalkeeper. Actually, he’s everybody’s former goalkeeper as there are probably very few teams in the UK that have never had him on their books. But sheer endurance is only one aspect of his game. As well as being a very gifted shot-stopper, he also liked to entertain the crowd before, during and after every match. A forerunner to the likes of Bruce Grobbelaar, you’d often see Burridge walking on his hands before kick-off to get the crowd in a good mood, a talent which The Big Match was keen to featuring in its opening title sequence for many years. A great bloke, great keeper and a great entertainer.

Defender: Roberto Carlos
Ever wondered how Roberto Carlos was able to hit those powerful, bending banana shots with every free kick? It was all in his thighs. Those great tree trunks for thighs. That, and those enormous run-ups which would start so far away from the ball that opposition defenders could legally block his route because he was more than ten yards back. A Brazilian genius and star of the game that kept the legend of the Seleçao burning through Le Tournoi and beyond.

Defender: Bobby Moore
One of two players born in Barking, Essex to find their way into this team, although that particular criteria was in no way influenced by Chris who was born in Barking, Essex. A tremendous reader of the game and an iconic figure from English football history, Moore proved you didn’t have to be a brain-dead numbskull intent on hoofing the ball left, right and centre in order to succeed.  His intelligence was the key behind his innate ability to make timely tackles and killer passes. Just ask Pele, a man who knows how a well-placed tackle can result in a considerable feeling of impotence.

Defender: Franz Beckenbauer
As close to the perfect defender as you can get. Having robbed opposition strikers of the ball (which he did with great regularity), his first thought was usually to charge upfield to instigate the next attack rather than dwell on his next move. Tactically astute and a great observer of the game, he could cross the ball and pass it as well as anybody. Not only that, but he could strike the ball with great power and accuracy as well as any midfielder or attacker. A member of more winning teams than you can shake a stick at, Beckenbauer was a captain, coach and football ambassador par excellence.

Defender: Tony Adams
Adams earns his place in this team out of sheer respect for his ability to overcome adversity. Having become a fixture in George Graham’s Arsenal side of the late 80’s, his self-confidence took a knock during Italia 90 when Marco Van Basten ran him ragged in a goalless draw between England and Holland. Having been nicknamed ‘Donkey’ by many a non-Arsenal fan, he then had the more serious problem of alcoholism to get the better of, but get the better of it he did. A reformed character growing in experience and skill, he capped off Arsene Wenger’s first league title-winning season with the final goal of the campaign in 1998 against Everton. The goal was as emphatic in its finish as Adams' own victory over his personal demons.

Midfielder: Trevor Brooking
Oozing style and grace on the ball, Brooking could connect defence and attack with his clever passing and intelligent running. Not that he was the quickest of players, but that didn’t matter – his awareness of where his colleagues were on the pitch was all he needed to make magic happen. He also had the confidence to try the odd shot or two and quite often he’d score important goals as a result, as was seen in his stanchion-snagging shot against Hungary in a 1981 World Cup qualifier. Now a Sir with a stand at Upton Park named after him, and rightly so.

Midfielder: Zinedine Zidane
‘Exciting potential’ doesn’t even come close. Whenever Zidane received the ball, anything could happen – 80-yard cross-field passes, defence splitting balls down the centre of the field, volleyed shots... or maybe the sort of safe, connecting balls that people all too often take for granted. Or maybe the running that would pull opposition players out of position... Zinedine Zidane could seemingly do it all, and to great enough effect that he lit up every team he played in.

Midfielder: Paul Gascoigne
Precocious talent, exciting unpredictability... and an unfortunate ability to lose his composure when he least needed to. Paul Gascoigne was the random element that made watching England so great between 1988 and 1998. From the moment he set foot on the pitch for his debut against Albania through his tearful exit in Italia 90 to the sublime chip ‘n’ slam against Scotland in Euro 96, Gazza never gave anything less than 100% in every game. He was also quite good at club level, as fans of Newcastle, Tottenham and Rangers will tell you. Flawed genius? Absolutely, and we wouldn’t have wanted him any other way.

Midfielder: Matthew Le Tissier
A rare thing in the modern game: a one club man, and didn’t Southampton reap the dividend of that? Never mind those people that said Le God didn’t fulfil his potential at national level – here was a man quite happy to show his extraordinary talent for scoring brilliant goals at The Dell throughout his career. Such was the mind-boggling skill and ingenuity he used to put the ball into the net, the Match of the Day ‘Goal of the Month’ competition was rendered pointless for the greater part. No-one else could match him for creativity, technique and originality... oh, and he was deadly from the penalty spot too.

Striker: Dennis Bergkamp
A latter-day legend. Think of all the great goals you’ve seen in your lifetime and you can be almost certain that there’s at least one in there that was scored by the Non-Flying Dutchman for Arsenal or Holland. Part of Bergkamp’s success was his quick feet and ability to control the ball before he put it in the back of the net, while others point to his running off the ball and positional awareness. Few, however, can deny his amazing natural talent to score goals in whatever way he saw fit, and when he retired from international duty, he was first on the Dutch all-time goalscorers list. Peerless.

Striker: Zico
For a nation so blessed with outstanding talent down the years, it’s quite an achievement that Zico was able to stand out so much from almost all the rest. As a member of arguably the greatest side never to win a World Cup, Brazil’s 1982 campaign was illuminated by Zico’s flicks, tricks and wonder goals. Against Scotland, his free kick was so well placed that Alan Rough didn’t even move. Against New Zealand, his bicycle kick had much the same effect on Frank Van Hattum. Though not the greatest striker Brazil has ever seen, he did enough in that one tournament to inspire millions of kids around the world to pick up a ball and play.


Gary Sprake
A man who used his clumsiness and greasy palms as a way of enhancing his career – not only domestically for Leeds, but also in a lengthy spell between the sticks for Wales.

Eric Young
The Ninja from Singapore who left Wimbledon to form the backbone of a Crystal Palace side that finished third in the top flight in 1991. That’s right – third.

Liam Brady
The Irishman with the silky skills and the quality left foot who carved out a niche for himself as a journeyman in Serie A after leaving Arsenal in 1980.

Ian Wright
One of the greatest goalscorers the Premier League has ever seen, notching up nearly 400 despite being something of a late starter.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Midweek TV Preview: 4 - 7 April 2011

Monday 4 April

19.45 QPR v Sheffield United, Championship, Sky Sports 1/HD1
The Blades have had a couple of very good wins recently against Forest and Leeds but their away form is still woeful - just one point in the last ten games - making that seven point gap between them and Crystal Palace all the more wider.

Tuesday 5 April

18.00 St Johnstone v Rangers, SPL, ESPN/ESPN HD
The weekend's defeat to Dundee United has left things very uncomfortable for second placed Rangers. Defeat for St Johnstone as good as seals their place in the bottom half of the table two games before the start of the Clausura.
19.45 Real Madrid v Tottenham Hotspur, Champions League Quarter Final 1st Leg, Sky Sports 2/HD2
With recent performances in this competition, Spurs can approach this with confidence (despite a run of average performances in the League). Of course, the talk will be of backlashes following the end of Mourinho's staggering 9 year, 150 game unbeaten home league record at the weekend. Madrid will need to win the tie here.
19.45 Inter Milan v Schalke, Champions League Quarter Final 1st Leg, Sky Sports 4/HD4
From 2012/13 season the Bundesliga will have four Champions League places while Serie A clubs will be fighting over just three. Inter turned over a home defeat to Bayern in the last round, form says they should defy UEFA's number crunchers and knock out more German opposition here.

Wednesday 6 April

16.30 Al Rayyan v Zob Ahan, AFC Champions League Group D Matchday 3, British Eurosport 2
Zob Ahan, last season runner ups in this competition, lead the early table. Al Rayyan finished mid-table in Qatar but qualified thanks to a successful Cup campaign - with just one point from their first two games, another defeat will pretty much end the competition for them.
19.45 Chelsea v Manchester United, Champions League Quarter Final 1st Leg ITV1/ITV1 HD
Anyone who persists in saying that the Premier League is the best in the world should be made to sit and watch both legs of this predictably awful fixture. Avoid.
19.45 Barcelona v Shakhtar Donetsk, Champions League Quarter Final 1st Leg, Sky Sports 2/HD2
Is this a formality? Shakhtar have won seven of their eight fixtures in this competition, more than anyone else. Their only defeat came at the Emirates - a defeat they'll have learned a lot from for this fixture. I'll be watching this one, thanks.
00.45 Santos v Colo Colo, Copa Libertadores Group 5 Matchday 4, Premier Sports
If you enjoyed watching Neymar in last week's friendly between Brazil and Scotland you can watch him again here. His Santos side are still looking for their first win in this group. For top team Colo Colo this competition has been a welcome distraction from their woeful domestic form in the Chilean League that's seen them lose six out their first ten games.

Thursday 7 April

20.05 Benfica v PSV Eindhoven, UEFA Europa League Quarter Final 1st Leg, Channel 5/Channel 5 HD
Both sides come into this fixture having lost to their domestic title rivals at the weekend. Benfica's defeat handed the title to Porto with five games left to go; PSV's loss saw them knocked from the top of the Eredivisie by Twente. The winners of Dynamo Kyev versus Braga await in the semis.
20.05 FC Porto v Spartak Moscow, UEFA Europa League Quarter Final 1st Leg, ITV4/ITV4 HD
Having been crowned Portuguese Champions at the weekend, Porto have the rare luxury to be able to solely concentrate on this competition. Having beaten CSKA in both fixtures in the last round, Porto must be considered favourites to face the winners of...
20.05 Villareal v FC Twente, UEFA Europa League Quarter Final 1st Leg, ESPN/ESPN HD
Twente may have risen to the top of the table at home but their away form in Europe this season has been pretty awful. The Yellow Submarine should have enough to edge this one out over two legs.