Sunday, September 30, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
7:30am Manchester City vs Newcastle Utd Setanta Sports
10:00am, Bayer Leverkusen vs Bayern Munich GolTv
10:00am Chelsea vs Fulham FSC
12:00pm Birmingham vs Manchester United FSC
1:00pm Roma vs Inter FSC
4:30pm Livorno vs Fiorentina FSC
7:30pm New York vs Salt Lake FSC
9:00am AC Milan vs Catania FSC
1:00pm Getafe vs Real Madrid GolTv
2:30pm Torino vs Juventus FSC
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Today the United States Women lost in their semi-final World Cup match to
It will be interesting to watch how this plays out for women’s football here in the States. Organizers were hoping to build on a
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Roma, of course, has pretty much been the best team in Italy this year. Even without striker Francisco Totti (who is out with a thigh strain today) they are still a formidable team. But keep your eye on Fiorentina. With young guns Sebastian Frey, Dario Dainelli, Fabio Liverani, Riccardo Montolivo, Martin Jorgensen, Adrian Mutu, and especially Giampaolo Pazzini, and along with grizzled vet Christian Vieri, they are one to watch for the future. They should be right in the thick of title races for the ext few seasons. But frankly, with a few breaks, they could be right in the middle of it THIS season. Look for them to put up a game fight at home in Florence today.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
As readers know, I provide a link to Phil Ball’s column nearly every week, because he is both very good and also because he provides a very useful window into la Liga, a great football league that tends to get overlooked here in the States because of the focus on the Premier League.
Two or three times a year, however, Ball’s columns are transcendent, and move from being “really good” to “almost beautiful.” This week’s column is an example of the later. Not only is it a summary of the weekend that was in Spain, but it is also a charming meditation of how football is integrated into everyone’s life in that nation; how they live and breath football just as they do their food, friends, and family. It’s a must-read.
On a more pedestrian note, Ball thinks that Ronaldinho is gone after the telling events of this week. (Reports are that the smiling Brazilian was clubbing and boozing 48 hours before his latest game.) Ball thinks Barca was the source that ratted Ronnie out to the press, a sign that he will be sold either during the winter or next summer. Interesting. Ball certainly knows what he’s talking about, but we will see what become of Ronnie’s performance over the next few weeks.
One hope by Spurs fans does need to be quashed: they won’t get Mourinho. Apparently there is a clause in Jose’s contract that states he can’t be hired by an English club for a specified period of time. I don’t know if that’s true, but it makes sense. Would Ramos from Sevilla come over to coach Spurs? Probably not mid-season. The question remains, then, of who would guide Tottenham to their traditional 5-th place finish. Although the way this season is going, it might be a more un-traditional 18th place finish…
Monday, September 24, 2007
Readers of the blog will know I am not as careful a follower of the EPL as Matt; I try to distribute my game watchin' between England, Italy and Spain. I did watch a bunch of Premiership games this weekend, however, and I must say I was entertained by a number of them. Three games in particular were wildly different in style, but I found all three to be great:
1). Fulham v. Man City: Any 3-3 draw with that much back-and-forth action is going to be fun to watch. Lots of entertaining players on display as well, including Dempsey, Richards and David Healy. Conventionally, the "best " game of the weekend.
2). Arsenal v. Derby: By any conventional measurement, conversely, a 5-0 drubbing would be a bore, but I have found Arsenal riveting in recent weeks. They play gorgeous football with gorgeous passing. The beautiful game, anyone?
3). Man United v. Chelsea: Essentially a 1-0 game with a lousy penalty scored at the end, the supposed highlight game of the weekend seems to have been a dud. But in fact I enjoyed the game immensely; not for the goal chances created but for the skill on display at virtually every position for both teams on the field. The television announcers correctly noted that it took players some time to sub-in to the games; that is essentially because the ball never went out of bounds. Also, Avarm Grant kind of scares me.
Don't think I'm going soft on the Premiership, however. The best game in Europe this weekend was still probably the Juve-Roma thriller which ended in a 2-2 draw. But that is digression; I do hope you enjoy Matt's excellent Premiership review.
Before I begin this week's review, I wanted to inform the readers why I talk about certain teams. For starters, I'm a
I start with the best team right now in the Premier League, who also have the current best player in the League: Arsenal and Cesc Fabregas. I know it is still early in the year, but both are my current choice for champions of the league and player of the year. While the chances of Arsenal winning the Premier League will be discussed further in a little bit, I wanted to begin discussing the amazing talent of one Mr.
Fabregas. In a word WOW!!! This 20 year old is simple amazing, and is quickly making Arsenal fans forget about the departure of Thierry Henry. Now some may say I'm a bit biased based on my previously mentioned feelings on the player, but it can't be debated how well his form has been lately. This is a player that his manager, Arsene Wenger, this week compared to the great Michel Platini, which is quiet a complement, and hopefully that rings true for both fans of Arsenal and
However this has clearly been cured with Cesc seeming to score in every game he plays, and usually with some amazing shots. He was at it again this weekend, when Arsenal demolished
Now I know that before the season began I predicted
One further note from the game is that Steven Gerrard was given man of the match. For what??? I love Gerrard, he is one of my favorite players, and god knows he tries hard and wanted to win the match badly, but he played poorly. There simply didn't deserve to be a man of the match in this lackluster display by
Then after these 2 games, I checked on the best American playing soccer right now. Mr. Clint Dempsey.
Unfortunately the team he plays for isn't that good, but they never give up and keep on fighting. The Fulham v.
In other notable games, Middlesbrough and Sunderland drew 2-2 in their northeastern derby, but we all know that the real team from far up north is the Toon Army.After a disastrous display this past Monday when they lost to the worst team in the league,
Speaking of the Special One, I am sad to see him go. Believe me, I won't be missing his boring style of play while in charge of
Friday, September 21, 2007
7:55am USA vs England ESPN2
10:00am Arsenal vs Derby County FSC
12:00pm Fulham vs Manchester City FSC
2:30pm AC Milan vs Parma FSC
4:00pm Barcelona vs Sevilla GolTv
8:30am Newcastle Utd vs West Ham Setanta Sports
9:00am Roma vs Juventus FSC
11:00am Karlsruhe vs Bayern Munich GolTv
11:00am Manchester United vs Chelsea FSC
3:00pm Valladolid vs Real Madrid GolTv
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Today’s post was supposed to be a brief recap of the action in Matchday One of the Champions League. And it certainly wasn’t a bad two days. We saw Arsenal absolutely dominate a very good Seville team, (the gooners might now very well be favorites for the cup, as well as other trophies) Thierry Henry score his first for Barca, Manchester United squeak by Sporting in a snoozer, and we watched Real Madrid do what it has done for the past eight months: turn on the jets in the second half and outlast the competition.
All of this has been overshadowed, however, by the most shocking result so far:
Although there have been rumors circulating about Mourinho leaving Chelsea for quite some time now, the particular timing of the resignation could not be more shocking. Yes, it’s true that
So this could be, at the very least, a short-term problem for
That situation will bear watching, as will considerations about Mourinho’s time in
But Mourinho was also increasingly making me despair. His version of football was getting grimmer and grimmer, as his team ground out one 1-0 win after another. It got to the point for me personally that I couldn’t stand watching
So the Mourinho era is over at
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
So, ESPN2 shows one game each day at 2:30, live. Setanta Sports also shows a live game at 2:30 and other games on tape later in the day. ESPN Classic usually shows a game on tape at 5:00, but is doing so only on Wednesday this week. (I will get to that in a moment.) The website UEFA.com shows pay-per-view games on its website as they are being played. I have never done that, so I can’t vouch for quality.
I am very much looking forward to seeing Real Madrid (since it is the first chance I’ve had to see them) against a good opponent in Weder Breman. Barca-Lyon should be good, and most people see Arsenal v. Sevilla as the pick of the litter. It should be, on the whole, a very good slate of games.
Finally, you will note that ESPN is only showing one game and not two today. Why? Because they are showing a Woman’s World Cup game instead. This leads to a question sent to me by a reader who asked about my thoughts on the Cup. My answer, unfortunately, is that I don’t have any. I’m not watching. I have too much football on my plate, and I just don’t care enough about woman’s football. I wish my country well, and will (maybe) watch the Cup Final, but to be honest I would rather watch the Champions League. Unfortunately I have to watch one less game of it than I wanted.
More coming later!
2:30pm Chelsea vs Rosenborg Setanta Sports
2:30pm FC Porto vs Liverpool ESPN2
10:00pm Real Madrid vs Werder Bremen Setanta Sports
2:30pm Arsenal vs Sevilla Setanta Sports
2:30pm Sporting CP vs Manchester United ESPN2
5:00pm Barcelona vs Lyon ESPN Classic
8:00pm Barcelona vs Lyon Setanta Sports
10:00pm Fenerbahce vs Inter Setanta Sports
Monday, September 17, 2007
This season, however, Ball's work is more necessary than ever to American readers, as Real Madrid and Barcelona games are STILL not being shown on GolTV. Even though I am huge Real Madrid fan (and I desperately want to see how Henry is fitting in at Barca) my first chance to see them will be this week when the Champions League starts.
I don't know what the specifics of the problem are, GolTV, but you better get your act together soon. People here in the states are finding less and less reasons to watch your channel. In the meantime, readers, below please find a link to the latest Phil Ball round-up of action in Spain to keep your interest whetted.
We are going to start this week with another excellent and comprehensive look at the weekend that was in the Premiership with my good friend Matt. In this column he explores the idea of the “good” draw and the “bad” draw, and also asks if Rafa really has the Premiership title in mind, or if his eyes are again turned towards
Also, this week marks the start of the group stages of the Champion’s league, and we will spend much of the rest of the week previewing and then reviewing the start of the most entertaining club competition in the world. Now, onto Matt…
A few weeks back, Liverpool played Chelsea at Anfield, and what should have been a win for the Scousers ended as a draw when Chelsea were awarded a dubious penalty on a non-existent foul in the box, and which Frank "I ate all the pies" Lampard slotted home for the 1-1 draw. At the time,
Carrying on the topics of both bad draws and blowing points that may lead to losing the title race, I move to the equally bland 0-0 result between Liverpool and
Which leads me to Man United, and their match at
Tevez can't seem to do anything, and they aren't jelling like they did last season. I know they have had their injuries and suspensions, but I just don't think they are going to do it this season, and see it as a transition year of out with the old of Neville, Scholes, and Giggs and allowing players such as Anderson and Nani to grow into their replacements. Be that as it may, Man U did something this weekend that championship teams do; they found a way to win on the road even when they didn't play so well. Everton deserved a draw, but the Red Devils found a way to knick a goal from a Vidic header to get a crucial 3 points in 1-0 victory over the Toffees, and put themselves back in the title race.
Now on to what I thought was the game of the week: the
Lastly a quick shout out to Deuce. Once again Clint Dempsey scored a goal, and is quickly becoming both a fan favorite at Craven Cottage and the best current American outfield player in the world (Sorry Landy-Cakes). Unfortunately, Fulham gave up a late equalizer and had to settle for a draw again. I just hope they find a way to win a few games so that this great talent isn't playing in the Football League Championship next season. Then again, if they are, maybe he will be sold to
Don't laugh!! With a win against
Friday, September 14, 2007
I will be back later with a book review. Enjoy the games this weekend.
7:00am Everton vs Manchester United Setanta Sports
8:30am Tottenham vs Arsenal FSC
9:30am, Bayern Munich vs Schalke 04 GolTv
10:30am West Ham vs Middlesborough FSC
12:00pm Chelsea vs Blackburn FSC
2:30pm Lazio vs Empoli FSC
4:30pm Sienna vs Milan FSC
9:00am Juventus vs Udinese FSC
11:00am Murcia vs Atl. Madrid GolTv
1:00pm Sevilla vs Recreativo GolTv
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Last night my wife and I, along with some good friends, attended the Brazil-Mexico friendly held in
We live only a few minutes from the stadium, but left our house nearly two hours before the start to make sure we arrived in time, and it was a good thing we did. 495, one of the major interstate highways that leads to the stadium, was jam-packed with cars full of revelers, with many hanging out of their windows waving giant flags. The
After negotiating 495 and the equally treacherous Route 1 (the notorious two-lane blacktop that directly feeds Gillette Stadium) we arrived at the parking lot, and forked over $40.00 for parking. Because the Kraft family (owners of the stadium and the MLS team the New England Revolution) haven’t ripped us off enough this year.
Eventually we made our way into the stadium. It was a beautiful sea of yellow. The crowd was already going crazy ten minutes before kick-off, and just got louder as the teams came out. We were lucky, too. We had great seats behind the goal and both national teams brought their stars:
The first half was great.
Other assorted thoughts from the game…
, he might very well have been worth it… Chelsea
- I wish both teams would have put names on their shirts as well as the numbers. I thought Elano scored the first goal, and I didn’t even realize that 18-year-old Barca starlet Giovani Dos Santos had taken the field as a sub for
. I would have watched this up-and-comer much more closely had I known. Mexico
- The ‘Keystone Kops’ level of security at Gillette was laughable. Our section (right behind the goal) was flooded with people from the cheap seats who wanted to be closer to the action. Many were sitting in seats they didn’t buy and the aisles were completely blocked. Twice security tried to clear things out and openly gave up the second time, clearly intimidated by the Brazilian and Mexican supporters. If something bad had happened, it could have been a bloodbath. Luckily, everyone we encountered, from both sides, was good natured, so everything was fine.
- But, as my wife has pointed out, the security goons at Gillette don’t mind busting chops and cracking heads when it’s the 13-year-old girls who attend the Revolution games. Then security keeps the aisles clear.Let’s not be frightened just because some guy is wearing a sombrero, okay fellas?
- Finally, the Boston Globe is reporting that the game was considered such a success that
will almost definitely come back again. I say great: this was a fun experience for any football lover, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Brazil
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
Below please find notes from my friend Matt on this past weekend’s internationals. As usual, I agree with almost everything he says, and the things I don’t agree with (his summary of the USA/Brazil game) stems from the fact that I haven’t seen the match yet. I’ll catch it on my DVR in a day or two.
Other than the flood of internationals, the only other big football news from this weekend was that everyone’s favorite chubby center-forward, Ronaldo, will be hurt for at least another month. Apparently he has a bum knee. Whether the bad knee resulted from having to lug around an extra 25 pounds of Ronaldo is largely beside the point; sadly, we won’t see the big fella in the black and red for some time yet.
Finally, note that my friend says he can’t wait to see
Just a quick note on this weekend’s internationals. Not that I could watch them, but apparently
Then there was the USA/Brazil game, which can be looked at from two points of view if you support the
Friday, September 7, 2007
This weekend, in
That means this weekend also marks the start of the 2007 Fantasy Football season, and it is quite possible that each event equals the other in importance.
Fantasy Football is remarkably popular hear in the States, and I most certainly don’t have to explain it to any American readers. In a nutshell, a group of friends or co-workers get together and draft real players from the NFL, and their play in real life mirrors how well you do in your fantasy league. The system works wonderfully well because anyone can play, it’s fairly easy, and it generates massive interest in the NFL. For instance, I watched with great interest a game between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints last evening, even though I did not care at all who won the game. I “had” players in the game on my fantasy team. I am the commissioner of a Fantasy Football league and also participate in a fairly serious fantasy baseball league. This keeps my interest high in both sports, even though at heart I am a fanatic only for real football.
Fantasy Soccer (I use the term to differentiate it from American football) has two broad types. One can either participate in a league where all the players in, say, the premiership are available for all fantasy players. You just have to fit them under your salary cap. Thus all of the teams in the fantasy league can employ, say, Christiano Ronaldo if the owners so wish. The other format is an auction league (the format that I suspect will be more successful in the long run.) In this format participants use monetary value to draft players; thus the fantasy owner who wants Christiano Ronaldo the most will bid the highest for him. This format is probably the more challenging and rewards the fantasy participant who knows the most about the game.
Still, as I said, Fantasy sports have not caught on in Europe like they have in
Does this mean Fantasy soccer will never take off the way fantasy football and baseball has? Perhaps. It is a shame, on one hand, for clearly fantasy sports brings new and enthusiastic converts to the table all the time. On the other hand, however, I like the game just as it is, with the game being played on the field and not on the stat sheet. And it is my fantasy that it stays that way.
11:00am Russia vs Macedonia FSC
12:00pm England vs Israel Setanta
12:00pm Iceland vs Spain FSC
2:30pm Italy vs France GolTv
4:00pm USA vs Brazil ESPN2
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Because of this, we have decided to try a little experiment here at the Fan-Atic. We are going to publish Matt's thoughts and summaries from the premiership action he watched the previous weekend, both because I think there is some smart analysis there and also because I think it is useful to get the perspective of football fans who are watching from the U.S.. That is, after all, what this website is all about.
So here is Matt's first report on Premiership action, which covers the Premiership matches he watched on Saturday, September 1. If this works out, and we both wish to keep doing it, we will presumably post these reports much sooner after the actual matches. This first one took a little while, as we were trying to co-ordinate.
I do hope you enjoy these summaries as much as I do. Let me know your thoughts...
Here is my review of today's games (either seen in entirety or fast forwarded throughout with DVR; shameless plug for DVR).
The day started with what would be the game that actually turned out to be the best one of the day to watch: Fulham v. Tottenham. Tottenham got out to an early 2 goal lead, and Tottenham's defense was so shambolic that I was saying to myself that Fulham will be getting relegated this year. But then came the cavalry led by Clint Dempsey, who scored a fabulous header before halftime to give Fulham a glimmer of hope and make me happy as well as he is on my fantasy team. Things worsened for Fulham at the beginning of the 2nd half, but brightened even more for me, when another one of my players, Gareth Bale, scored, giving a 2 goal advantage once again to the Spurs. However, Fulham kept fighting, and through two more assists from Dempsey (although Yahoo only credits him with one), they salvaged a draw. I wonder if Martin Jol still has the vote of confidence after dropping 2 more points?
The next game I watched was the absolute destruction of Derby by Liverpool at Anfield, as the Scousers won 6-0 behind a 2 goal performance by Torres (yet another player of mine) as my day brightened further. Then came the Newcastle/Wigan game, which had lots of emotion for me. Newcastle absolutely dominated the game, but I was having fits when after 80 minutes the score was still nil nil. In fact at that time it should have been 6-0 to Newcastle, but for 2 incorrectly offside calls, which cancelled an Owen goal and a Steven Taylor goal, two hand balls by Titus Shambles which weren't called, including one in the penalty area that should have rewarded Newcastle a penalty kick, and about a gazillion break-aways and one-on-ones with the goalie in which Newcastle couldn't put the ball in the old onion bag (most of the time Owen blowing them). I was screaming his name until he headed in a beautiful cross from Martins to secure a 1-0 win. Naturally I am happy with the win and the fact that Owen finally scored, but I was upset that he blew so many chances, that Newcastle could have won this game comfortably instead of waiting until the end to secure a victory, and most of all about how terrible the referee’s decisions were once again. Two perfectly good goals had been called off, and the ref was the only person in the stadium that didn't see the hand ball by Bramble. If they had lost because of this I would be fuming, but I can't remember the officiating being this bad last year. Yes there were bad calls last year, but it seems this season has already surpassed all of the one from last season. Newcastle even gained an advantage of a referee blunder when a Wigan player was red carded after receiving his second yellow just as the second half began, which he shouldn't have gotten. They say that these bad decisions work themselves out over the course of the season, but I have my doubts. Still I can't be too upset with a Newcastle win and with them remaining undefeated.
I quickly fast forwarded through the West Ham/ Reading game in which the Hammers won 3-0 so I could get to the game of the day if not the weekend: Man U v. Sunderland. Nothing could have been farther from the truth as this game was an absolute snooze-fest. I thought that I was watching Chelsea play Chelsea except that the players were taken from the Galaxy (without Beckham) and Toronto FC. Even though they eventually won, I do believe that Man U are not going to win the title. With the exception of Saha coming on, they never looked like scoring and with Liverpool running on all gears and Chelsea doing their thing, I think Man U fans are in for a long and trohpyless season.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
* The always candid LA Galaxy GM made a long appearance on FSC's "Fox Football Fone-In" last night. I've got to give him credit; as sleazy as he sometimes appears, he is willing to go on a public forum and take his medicine. Among other gems, he admitted that David Beckham didn't play in New England because of the turf (essentially saying 'Fuck You, suckers' to all the families who paid $50.00 a seat to multiple games to see Becks) and that ESPN put pressure on the Galaxy to make Beckham appear in that meaningless exhibition vs. Chelsea in July. Good job, guys. If anyone gave a crap about the MLS, this would be big news. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: this whole Beckham thing could end up hurting American soccer more than it helps it.
* In England, two games within the next week will tell us if Smilin' Steve McClaren will be fired or not. He doesn't have David Beckham, probably doesn't have Fat Frank Lampard, and Steven Gerrard has a bum toe. Still, I'm pulling for England. The Euro's won't be the same without them losing on penalties in the second round.
* The perpetual circus at Chelsea continues unabated. This week they left midfielder Michael Ballack of the eligible-list for the first half of Champions League play, insisting that he still isn't fit. However, reportedly Ballack told his German national coach that he is ready to go. Nice. They're paying $250,000 per week to a player they don't like. Hey, I'll play midfield for a third of that...
* One thing I am looking forward to: next Wednesday's Brazil-Mexico clash at Foxboro Stadium. Maybe I like international week after all....
More coming soon!
Monday, September 3, 2007
This coming week will be a little slow with the international break, but we will have plenty to talk about, including fun in England, Italy, and elsewhere, as well as a rather quiet close so the transfer season. More soon.