Tag Archives: Cristiano Ronaldo

A fool's guide to an unpredictable weekend across Europe (except for Spain)

By Jonathan Gold

Manchester United’s completely unpredictable 1-0 win over Liverpool – sorry Kevin – and Spurs’ similarly shocking triumph over mighty Charlton were FA Cup fixtures reminding us of how dire the competition can be, but there were a couple of real surprises this weekend in the oldest cup tournament in the world.

Arsenal 1 – 1 Leeds United

While it’s not, you know, outside the realm of possibility for Arsenal to be stumped by lower-level opposition who outwork it and close down aggressively, the Gunners have been on a roll of late, after an important win over Chelsea and a disappointing draw with Manchester City that they nonetheless dominated utterly. However, Leeds led for much of the second half and were denied the win only by a very late penalty from Fabregas.

Manchester City 2 – 2 Leicester City

Anytime the lower-league club pulls it out over a top-flight competitor – particularly one whose team cost approximately 963 times more than the opposition – it’s fun to watch. And, somewhat surprisingly for a game involving Manchester City, it actually was a good one to watch, as Leicester leapt on City’s pallid defense, scoring in the first minute and pulling level again midway through the second half. For a team full of wildly expensive defenders and defensive midfielders, City really was shocking at the back and could easily have lost.

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Barcelona Thrash Real Madrid to Take Top Spot in La Liga

The Catalonians weren't disappointed at the Camp Nou with Barcelona's 5-0 thrashing of Real Madrid. (Courtesy Aldas Kirvaitis)

By Kevin Koczwara

El Clasico was billed as the Messi and Ronaldo show, but we (the media) should have known games aren’t decided by two players on opposite sides. Nope. Games are decided by teams and the individuals on those teams. Barcelona’s 11 men were superior, far better, than Real Madrid’s. The 5-0 win for the Catalans was as easy as that.

Madrid couldn’t handle Xavi and Andres Iniesta in the middle of the Barcelona midfield, and most teams can’t. The two World Cup winners control tempo, don’t give up the ball and eliminate opposing teams attacking players by not allowing them to ever touch the ball. Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil were lucky to touch the ball in the first half. The only chances for Madrid came when Angel di Maria smashed a shot directly at Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes and at the end of the half when Ronaldo took one of his two free kicks and missed just wide of Valdes’ post. Other than that, it was a forgettable night for Jose Mourinho’s men.

Mourinho and company came into the Camp Nou with a one point lead over Barcelona in the table, and now, they leave with a two-point deficit and a big time humbling.

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Real Madrid and Barcelona Battle for the Top Spot

Ronaldo and Kaka haven't seen the field together this season because of Kaka's injury problems. But, Ronaldo has not let the fans of Real Madrid down this year in the club's attempt to dethrone Barcelona as the best team in Spain. The two giants of Spanish soccer will meet this weekend. (Courtesy Tsutomu Takasu)

By Kevin Koczwara

One Point separates Barcelona and Real Madrid in the La Liga table. A solitary point. That’s all. The closest competitor, Villarreal (7-3-2, 24 pts), sits seven points behind second place Barcelona (10-1-1, 31 pts). The two horse race for Spain’s top division title has begun, but the main event won’t begin until this weekend’s ‘el Clasico’ where the Catalans take on their arch enemies in white, Real Madrid (10-0-2, 32 pts).

It’s no surprise the giants of La Liga lead the way. Madrid and Barca’s payrolls outreach just about any other club in the world – except maybe Manchester City – and their opponents in La Liga have little to no chance keeping up with them.

Barcelona’s squad bolsters most or Spain’s World Cup winning starters, a few of their bench players, the best player in the World, Lionel Messi, plus a bench and youth system that top clubs around the world pluck talent from.

Argentina national team captain Javier Mascherano moved to the Camp Nou this summer from Liverpool only to find limited playing time behind some of the world’s top midfielders, any team in the world would take on the fiery midfielder right now, but he’d rather sit out and watch from Barcelona’s bench right now because its just too good to pass up playing for. Who wouldn’t want to play alongside Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, David Villa, Bojan, Carlos Puyol, Dani Alves, Pique and Pedro? I know I wouldn’t pass up that chance.

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Rooney signs extension with United

After a turbulent few days regarding his future with Manchester United, striker Wayne Rooney signed a five-year contract extension with the club. (Photo Courtesy AtilaTheHun)

By Michael King

In an affair that’s become more bizarre than anything to hit the English Premier League in recent history, Wayne Rooney is staying with Manchester United. Is this just another example of manager Sir Alex Ferguson getting his way, or is Rooney’s commitment to the club genuine?

Answers to this question and others are far from evident. But is this behavior surprising from someone who has “Just Enough Education to Perform” tattooed on this right forearm?

Regardless of thoughts on anyone’s intelligence – or maybe emotional intelligence would be more appropriate here – the end of this saga should mark the return to brilliant soccer for Man U. Rooney’s alleged beef with the club surrounded its inability to secure enough talent to adequately complement his own. Certainly recent acquisitions Javier Hernandez, Chris Smalling and Bebe don’t exactly refute Rooney’s claim that United is a club in decline.

But from Man U’s perspective, losing Rooney was the Armageddon scenario. Surely with its brand, resources and, of course, Sir Alex, United would survive and remain competitive in the long term. The decision to sell Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid two summers ago for an obscene amount of money was driven by economics and the desire of the Portuguese international to play in his native Iberia.
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What The Soccer guys Are Reading — Sept. 14, 2010

Ajax midfielder Evander Sno suffered a a heart attck during Ajax's reserve match on Tuesday night. Courtesy CrazyPhunk

Telegraph — German Bundesliga academies provide valuable lessons for Premier League — by Jeremy Wilson

Champions League soccer kicks off today, and a few of England’s top teams will be facing German opponents in the group stage of the tournament, and they will see just how good the Bundesliga youth academies are. Germany’s national team finished third at this year’s World Cup thanks to their up-and-coming talent that has percolated through the German leagues youth ranks. Clubs have been forced to pump money into their academies since 2000 and the results have been positive for both the league and the national team. With teams able to spend less on big-name transfers and focus their money on their academies the clubs have been making yearly profits while developing the next wave great German players. Maybe some other leagues around the world should take notice.

NJ.com — Giase: Sky Blue president Hofstetter hopes to see Women’s Professional Soccer grow healthier, despite departures —  by Frank Giase/The Star-Ledger

The Women’s Professional Soccer League (WPS) has almost finished two seasons — only the playoffs remain– and over the course of those seasons a lot has changed, but the league keeps cutting its losses and making progress. 2009 regular season champions the Los Angeles Sol folded after last season, but the league went on and is even trying to expand with a team maybe in Dallas or a rebirth of the Sol. As this season comes to a close the league is trying to stick together and weather the tough financial times at hand and resolve some of the issues that players have expressed.

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What The Soccer Guys Are Reading – August 30,2010

Ronaldo could miss up to three weeks after injuring his ankle while playing for Real Madrid on Sunday. Courtesy Leslie Bay

Sky Sports — Injury blow for Ronaldo

The world’s most expensive player will be out for three weeks after getting injured during Real Madrid’s 0-0 draw with Real Mallorca on Sunday. Ronaldo picked up a right ankle injury and is expected to miss Portugal’s two upcoming EURO 2012 qualifiers against Cyprus and Norway as well as two league matches and the opening round of UEFA Champions League play for Madrid.

BBC — Villa to seek manager with Premier League experience

Caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald has Aston Villa in fourth place in the Premier League table after three weeks, but the club is looking for a more permanent replacement for the departed Martin O’Neill.  Villa’s management will be looking for a manager with Premier League experience to take the helm of the club as it looks to try and improve on last season’s results despite the loss of star James Milner and the resignation of manager Martin O’Neill. MacDonald has done a fine job leading the club, but a 6-0 thrashing a week ago to Newcastle was not a good showing the caretaker.

Boston.com — Hannover signs US midfielder DaMarcus Beasley

The former Rangers player was let go by the Scottish Premier League champions after his contract expired at the end of last season. Now, the U.S. international is set to join his compatriot Steve Cherundolo at Bundesliga club Hannover on a two-year contract. Hannover narrowly avoided relegation last season and has been looking to bolster their squad depth with inexpensive players.

The Guardian — Milan may bid for Manchester City’s Robinho, says Silvio Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi, AC Milan’s owner, has just signed Barcelona’s want away striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a loan deal and he is still looking for a few more parts to help bolster the Rossoneri squad. One possible move the the Italian club would be to try and strike up a deal with Manchester City for Brazilian Robinho. Robinho has fallen out of favor with City’s manager Roberto Mancinni and he is looking for a move out of England as he has not adapted to the style of play in the Premier League. While Milan are lining up more moves to improve their squad before tomorrow’s deadline, they could be seeing one of their best players from last season look for the exit. Striker Marco Borriello may be looking for a new club because the signing of Ibrahimovic means the Italian striker will have limited opportunities to play for the club this season.

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Best and Worst Performers at the World Cup

Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Holland's captain at the World Cup, was a stand-out defender. Courtesy Paul Blank

By The Soccer Guys

Kevin’s Picks:

Strikers

Diego Forlan – Forlan was the most dangerous striker on the field every time Uruguay suited up. He was handed the Golden Ball by FIFA as the World Cup’s best player, and he deserved it. He scored vital goals and did everything for the underrated and under-appreciated Uruguay team.

David Villa – Villa’s five goals tied him for the Golden Boot with Forlan, Germany’s Thomas Mueller, Uruguay’s Diego Forlan and Holland’s Wesley Sneijder, and his goals saved Spain from elimination. Without Villa, Spain might have been watching the final match from home rather than playing and winning the world’s biggest sporting event.

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A New Group of Stars Emerge At World Cup

Courtesy ???????? ????

By Joe Meloni

The stat lines of a few of the world’s best through the first few weeks of the 2010 World Cup may have left a few of the game’s newest fans a little confused. They’re wondering why Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo failed to lead his nation deeper in the tournament with a dazzling set-piece or two. They sat waiting as Spain and Portugal battled in the Round of 16, but they wound up remembering the name Gerard Pique instead as the massive Barcelona defender helped stifle Ronaldo and the entire Portuguese attack. Those opting to watch Argentina clamored with anticipation while Leo Messi left a defender or two in his path only to hit a ball wide or send one sailing into the crowd. It was Messi’s countryman Gonzalo Higuain drawing most of the praise for the Argentines in their run to the Quarterfinals.

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Who Won’t Win the World Cup Part 7: Group G

By Ryan Thies of the Long Beach Post

As a Group, group G is the most difficult to dismiss. It is undoubtedly the group of death and while other groups may run four deep, this group has three teams that could win the whole thing. But one of them won’t even make it to the elimination round. And the other two won’t win it all, because even they have their fatal flaws.

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The Mighty Mourinho

By Kevin Koczwara

Jose Mourinho’s teams win. That’s just what they do. You can’t say they are always the most entertaining side, or the best team on the field. But they score timely goals, come together in tough matches, and win. It’s that simple.

Mourinho won every trophy he could when he was in charge of FC Porto in Portugal, including the UEFA Champions League. He was introduced to the world during Porto’s amazing run through Europe. Mourinho’s men held off the marauding Manchester United and went on to win the trophy in 2004.

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