Archive | March, 2010

Arsenal hosts Barca, Moscow travels to Inter

31 Mar

If yesterday’s games are any indication, today’s Champions League quarterfinals should be good ones.  Arsenal plays host to Barcelona and former Gunner Thierry Henry, who is apparently dreading this match.  Meanwhile, Inter Milan hosts CSKA Moskva.  Arsenal has the uneviable task of trying to stop Lionel Messi.  Good luck with that one, you’re gonna need it.  Messi has been a stud for Barcelona, especially as of late.  It’s amazing to watch  what he can do.  Arsenal’s no pushover though.  They’ve been strong against non-English competition, going unbeaten in their last 34 home matches against clubs from the continent. 

Inter is aiming for their first semifinal since 2003.  They’ve played CSKA twice in the past and emerged victorious each time.  You can’t count on the past to get the job done this time though.  CSKA has won their last two Champions League away games and won’t go down easily.

TV Schedule
Arsenal vs. Barcelona – 2:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)
Inter vs. CSKA Moskva – 5 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Delayed)

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Rooney expected to be out 2-4 weeks

31 Mar

Wayne Rooney has likely suffered a sprained ankle that will keep him out of action for 2-4 weeks.  The United striker is set to have the ankle scanned on Thursday.  He’s almost sure to miss the big clash with Chelsea this weekend as well as the home leg of the Champions League tie with Bayern next week.  Depending on the severity of the injury, he could also miss out on league games against Blackburn, Manchester City and Tottenham.  Rooney has scored 34 goals this season and his absence will be quite the blow to United during this crucial period in the season.

England fans are hopeful that it’s only a sprained ankle since that would mean he won’t miss any World Cup action.  I think there would be a massive meltdown in England if the injury turned out to be more serious.  The English squad has a habit of having bad injuries happen to good players in the World Cup buildup (Beckham in ’02, Rooney in ’06).  The last thing they need is another injury to one of their top players.  Fabio Capello’s got to be sweating it out as several other players are also nursing injuries that could potentially keep them out of action in South Africa.

Bayern stuns United, Lyon wins

30 Mar

Bayern Munich’s Ivica Olic scored the game-winning goal in the 92nd minute to give the hosts a 2-1 victory over Manchester United.  To further deflate United, striker Wayne Rooney had to be helped off the pitch after suffering a supposed ankle injury during stoppage time.   Rooney opened the scoring in the first minute of play, but Bayern equalized in the second half on a Franck Ribery strike.  The result sets up an excellent second leg as a single United goal would send them through.  There’s no word yet on whether Rooney’s injury is bad enough to keep him out of action for a while, but with a crucial clash with Chelsea this weekend, United will be hoping for the best.

Lisandro scored a double to lead Lyon to a 3-1 home win over Bordeaux.  It was Bordeaux’s first loss in eight Champions League games.   Lyon will be without Lisandro in the second leg due to yellow card accumulation.  Bordeaux still has a chance at the semis, thanks to a crucial away goal from Marouane Chamakh.  It all shapes up to be a stellar second leg.

Champions League quarterfinals start today

30 Mar

The first two quarterfinals of Champions League play kick off this afternoon. Lyon hosts Bordeaux in an all-French affair and Bayern Munich plays host to Manchester United. With Lyon and Bordeaux meeting in the quarters, a French team is assured of a spot in the semifinals. Bordeaux is on a seven-match Champions League win streak, two shy of the all-time record. This streak includes three straight away shutouts. Meanwhile, Lyon is unbeaten in their last six CL contests. And obviously, as these teams meet in Ligue 1 as well, they are extremely familiar with each other. It should be a tight contest.

Meanwhile, Bayern will be missing two top players for the clash with United. Arjen Robben is likely out with a pulled muscle and midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger is suspended. United has won seven straight games in all competitions and will bring a full-strength squad to Germany. It will be a tall task to shut out Wayne Rooney, who has scored 33 goals this year, including four in the Champions League.

If you can’t get to a TV, you can follow along on the Yahoo! match tracker or of course, pay for the games on UEFA.com.  I’m sure there are other ways to watch the game online too if you look hard enough.

TV Schedule
Lyon vs. Bordeaux – 2:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)
Bayern vs. United – 5 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Delayed)

Liverpool shows what could’ve been

29 Mar

Liverpool easily dispatched Sunderland, 3-0, behind a two-goal performance from Fernando Torres.  The Reds dominated the game from start to finish and should’ve scored at least three more goals.  Pepe Reina only had to make one save.  In other words, it was a complete performance, something the team has not done much this year.  If only they could have played like this earlier this year, gah! 

 The win put Liverpool into fifth place, four  points back from Tottenham, who have a game in hand.  Liverpool definitely has the easier run over the last month and half of the season, including three teams facing the threat of relegation, and they need to take advantage of it.  Winning is the only option if Liverpool want any chance at the fourth and final Champions League spot.  Hopefully, we will actually  see some consistency (and more goals from Nando!)  as they come down the home stretch.

The remaining schedule for the Reds: @Birmingham, Fulham, West Ham, @Burnley, Chelsea and @Hull.  Obviously Chelsea is a tough game and as West Ham, Burnley and Hull fight for their Premier League lives, those clashes will be battles, as well.  It’s no cake walk, but Liverpool has the potential to end the season on a really positive note.

  Now, the remaining fixtures for Spurs: @Sunderland, Arsenal, Chelsea, @Manchester United, Bolton, @Manchester City, and @Burnley.  I would say this is just a little bit tougher than what Liverpool  have to face.

Seattle is an MLS dream

26 Mar

The Seattle Sounders kicked off the 2010 MLS season against the Philadelphia Union Thursday night.  There were 36,000 people in attendance.  That’s nuts, especially for a soccer game on a Thursday night.  The Sounders have 32,000 season ticket holders, which is also insane.  Those Seattle people love them some soccer.

From all accounts, the atmosphere at a Sounders game is spectacular.  A co-worker of mine (a soccer coach, none the less) said that the atmosphere in Seattle is better than at a Premier League game.  Now, this is only one person’s opinion, but still, that’s lofty praise for an American soccer venue. 

The Sounders are only in their second season of existance, but their enthusiastic and huge fan base is one that every MLS club can aspire to.  Of course, each team already has a loyal following, but rarely, if ever, a turnout of 36k. 

I know that Real Salt Lake has started an initiative with the local colleges to get the college-age crowd out to more of the games.  I think that’s a fantastic idea.  Soccer is continuing to grow in this country (it’s already huge), and ideas like that are only going to help breed more soccer fans.

Messi is highest paid footballer

24 Mar

In news that will shock few, Lionel Messi has been tabbed as the world’s highest paid footballer, pulling in an estimated £29.6 million ($44.2 million in the US) yearly.  David Beckham is second at £27.3 million ($40.7m) and Cristiano Ronaldo is third at £27 million ($40.3m).  The list was compiled by France Football

At this point, Messi more than deserves to hold the top spot.  He was instrumental in Barcelona’s treble last season and has been absolutely phenomenal this season.  His latest conquests include sublime hat tricks in two of his last three games.  Barca is top of the Spanish league and has advanced to the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

It’s interesting to note that the top six athletes on the “rich list” all play in Spain or Italy.  Carlos Tevez of Manchester City is the first player from a English club on the list at No. 7.  The other interesting fact that comes out of this is that Messi is only fourth on the sports “rich list” behind Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and LeBron James.  Even though football is the most popular sport in the world, players rarely crack the list of top 10 highest paid athletes in the world.  Those lists are generally populated by U.S. sports stars.

1. Lionel Messi, Barcelona – £29.6m ($44.2m)
2. David Beckham, LA Galaxy/AC Milan –  £27.3m ($40.7m)
3. Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid – £27m ($40.3m)
4. Kaka, Real Madrid – £16.9m ($25.2m)
5. Thierry Henry, Barcelona – £16.1m ($24m)
6. Ronaldinho, AC Milan – £15.5m ($23.1m)
7. Carlos Tevez, Manchester City – £13.8m ($20.6m)
8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Barcelona – £13m ($19.4m)
9. Frank Lampard, Chelsea – £12.8m ($19.1m)
10. Samuel Eto’o, Inter Milan – £12.4m ($18.5m)