donderdag 31 mei 2012

maandag 28 mei 2012

Euro 2012: Spain's Official 23-Man Squad Selected


On Sunday morning, Vicente Del Bosque announced the names of the 23 players he will take with him to represent Spain for Euro 2012. La Roja will be looking to repeat as European champions and will start their Euro 2012 campaign on June 10 against Italy.

Without further ado, here is your Spanish national team for Euro 2012.

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Victor Valdes  (FC Barcelona), Pepe Reina (Liverpool)

Defenders: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (FC Barcelona), Jordi Alba (Valencia), Raul Albiol (Real Madrid), Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Javi Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid)

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (FC Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Xavi (FC Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Malaga), Andres Iniesta (FC Barcelona), Cesc Fabregas (FC Barcelona)

Forwards: David Silva (Manchester City), Fernando Torres (Chelsea), Juan Mata (Chelsea), Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), Jesus Navas (Sevilla), Pedro (FC Barcelona), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla)

Source: bleacher report

zondag 27 mei 2012

Spanish Squad for the Euro 2012 not yet divulged.

Del Bosque remains coy on Euro 2012 squad selection after Serbia victory
The former Real Madrid trainer was unwilling to divulge information regarding the 23 players he will take to the European Championship after his team's win this weekend

Vicente Del Bosque, Spain (Getty Images)

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque remained coy on his final Euro 2012 squad selection after seeing his experimental line-up defeat Serbia 2-0 on Saturday in St Gallen.

The reigning world and European champions were disappointing in the first half but improved after the break following several changes at the interval, including Adrian Lopez, who grabbed the opener and who won the penalty for the second, which Santi Cazorla dispatched.

Roberto Soldado and Alvaro Negredo started the match in attack together, but both flattered to deceive. However, Del Bosque confirmed he would judge his forwards on their performances over the course of the season and not the one friendly.

"The most real type of training possible is a match and we have simply completed a cycle of training sessions with a friendly," the former Real Madrid trainer told reporters after the game.

“We brought Adrian with us for this reason and he has the same chance as he did before today.

“Soldado also did well against Venezuela and Negredo with his club. I will value what they have done throughout the season.”

Meanwhile, Adrian was delighted with a goal on his senior debut and is keen to reach Poland and Ukraine after helping guide the Under-21 team to Euro glory last summer.

“I am very happy to have debuted with a goal. The coach gives the list tomorrow and I am very excited. It would be fantastic to go to the Euros," he added.

“I am happy with my performance this year with Atletico and for this work with my club I have entered the squad.

“Now, though, the competition is of a very high level and it is good that the coach has a lot to choose from. It will be difficult for him to do so.”

Del Basque lists his final 23-man squad on Sunday, with Spain set to face South Korea in another warm-up friendly on Wednesday.



Vurnon Anita, Jeremain Lens, Siem de Jong en Adam Maher reizen op 4 juni niet met het Nederlands elftal mee naar Polen

Adem Maher, Vurnon Anita en Jeremain Lens.
Adem Maher, Vurnon Anita en Jeremain Lens

De spelers kregen vandaag van bondscoach Bert van Marwijk te horen dat zij tot de laatste vier afvallers behoren en het EK op hun buik kunnen schrijven. De bondscoach koos ervoor om bijvoorbeeld de jonge linksback Jetro Willems (PSV), Luuk de Jong (FC Twente) en Luciano Narsingh (sc Heerenveen) wel een plek in de EK-selectie te geven. Ook de verdedigers Ron Vlaar en Wilfred Bouma zullen deel uitmaken van Oranje.

Weer net niet
Vooral voor Anita en Lens is de afwijzing een hard gelag. In 2010 ging ook al in de slotfase een streep door hun naam voor het WK in Zuid-Afrika. Of het viertal vanavond op de tribune aanwezig is bij Nederland - Bulgarije mogen de afvallers zelf beslissen.

Vervolg richting EK
Het keurkorps van Van Marwijk speelt vanavond om 20.00 uur een oefenduel met Bulgarije. Vanaf maandag neemt de ploeg zijn intrek in het Golden Tuliphotel in Hoenderloo, waarna ook op woensdag 30 mei (Slowakije) en zaterdag 2 juni (Noord-Ierland) nog oefenduels gepland staan. Oranje reist vervolgens op 4 juni naar de Poolse stad Krakau, de uitvalsbasis van de equipe tijdens de Europese titelstrijd.
Oranje speelt op 9 juni zijn eerste groepswedstrijd op het EK, in Charkov tegen Denemarken. Oranje gaat op 13 juni de strijd aan met Duitsland en sluit de groepsfase vier dagen later af tegen Portugal.

Source: detelegraaf

zaterdag 26 mei 2012

Barcelona wins Copa del Rey

Athletic Bilbao 0-3 Barcelona
Pedro double and Messi clinch Copa del Rey and offer Guardiola fitting finale
Three goals in the opening half hour saw the Blaugrana win the competition for a record 26th time, as Pep calls time on his four-year reign at Camp Nou in emotional fashion

Barcelona have collected a record 26th Copa del Rey title, defeating Athletic Bilbao 3-0 at the Vicente Calderon as Pep Guardiola's illustrious era came to a close. 

The Blaugrana were ahead after three minutes thanks to Pedro's opportunistic finish following a corner. Lionel Messi, and a second from Pedro, put Guardiola's side three up inside the opening half hour to all but confirm the 14th trophy of a phenomenal tenure. 

In a repeat of the 2009 final the opening goal came inside three minutes as Barcelona started at a breathtaking tempo. 

Messi gave Athletic a early warning as he was able to run at the opposition defence before putting his shot narrowly wide, before Adriano crossed for Pedro whose shot was deflected behind for a corner. The Catalans opted to swing the delivery in, and it reaped rewards when the ball fell to Pedro who reacted first to open the scoring. 

The Basques looked to retain possession in the hope of building a sustained period of pressure on Jose Pinto's goal, but despite the keepers nervous clearances Athletic never truly threatened. 

Barca continued to exploit the openness of Athletic's defence as Messi cut inside from the right before bending a goal-bound effort toward the top corner. But for Gorka Iraizoz's flying save, Marcelo Bielsa's side would have fallen further behind. 

The Argentine, however, was not to be denied a second time. Messi latched onto Andres Iniesta's perfectly weighted through ball, taking it into his path with the outside of his left foot before lifting it into the roof of the net with his right. 

And Barca extended their lead when Pedro curled a precise finish into the far corner, following Xavi's delicate lay off five minutes later. 

The third goal appeared to awaken Athletic Bilbao as they threatened immediately after the restart with Markel Susaeta forcing Pinto into a smart save. 

However, Bielsa's side could have conceded a fourth when Messi managed to evade the attentions of Fernando Amorebieta latching onto a long ball, the wily Argentine attempted a lob from inside the area but it lacked the sufficient height to beat Iraizoz.

Fernando Llorente, who had cut a lonesome figure in the attacking third for Athletic, was finally offered some support as the Basques found their passing rhythm. Iker Munian slid a pass through to Athletic's talismanic striker who turned expertly beyond Gerard Pique before, with a clear sight of goal, falling to ground only to see his claims for a penalty waved away by the referee.

Bielsa made two changes at the break in the hope of overturning the three goal deficit in the second half, the Argentine coach introducing Inigo Perez and Ander Herrera. 

The changes had an immediate impact on the game as the Basque began to prevent Barca from dominating possession and territory, and were even afforded the first chance of the second half. Substitute Herrera slid an inviting through ball to Ibai Gomez but his attempted lob over an onrushing Pinto dropped beyond the target. 

As the second half progressed the Catalans appeared to be content with their three goal lead as Athletic's chances were limited to set pieces. 

With the contest seemingly over Guardiola's side appeared to be content with their three-goal lead as Athletic failed to create an opening. In fact Barca continued to look the more likely as they broke away, with Pedro denied a hat-trick thanks to a last-ditch tackle. 

Messi then embarked on a typically magical run, evading the challenges of four Athletic defenders, only to be denied a second goal by Iraizoz's outstretched boot. 

Despite the substitution, Athletic were gifted a golden chance to register a goal when Jon Aurtenetxe was left unmarked at the far post only to direct his header wide of the target from point blank range. 

Xavi, one of the players to symbolise Barca as a club, was then given a resounding exit by Guardiola as the Catalan's looked to stroll to a comfortable finish.

The win, a 14th trophy for Guardiola in four years, cemented his place as the most successful Barcelona coach as he brings his legacy to a close, leaving the reigns to Tito Vilanova.

Guardiola: Messi is the best I've ever seen and probably the best I'll ever see
The Catalan coach departed with a 3-0 Copa del Rey victory over Athletic Bilbao, and bid goodbye with words of immense praise for his mesmeric Argentine

Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola has admitted that Lionel Messi is the best player he has ever seen - and probably the greatest that he is ever likely to see.

The Argentine netted his 73rd goal of the season in Friday's 3-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa del Rey, a triumph which ensured that Guardiola's tenure ended on a winning note.

The 41-year-old has led the Catalans to 14 titles in four seasons but he humbly claimed that he was learning from Messi during that time, and not the other way around.

"It has been an honour to be the coach of the best player I have ever seen and probably the best I will see," Guardiola told reporters after the game.

"Messi taught me to be even more competitive. We would have won trophies without him, but not 14 from 19."

Barca's campaign has been deemed as a failure by some pundits given they were dethroned as European and Spanish champions, by Chelsea and Real Madrid respectively, but Guardiola argued that the team has actually progressed this year.

"Football-wise, this has been the best season," he stated. "We introduced new concepts. And next season, we'll be even better."

It was then put to Guardiola that he had created the greatest footballing side the game has ever seen, but he was reluctant to accept such an accolade.

"I didn't invent anything," he insisted. "I'm just part of a process that started before me and will continue after me."

"And the best team in history? Would be pretentious to call us that. Those are big words."

Guardiola also reiterated his intention to take a year out from the game, admitting that he is need of a break.

"I'm tired - that's why I'll stop for a while now," he explained. "But I am very satisfied with the 14 trophies, and how we won them."

Guardiola succeeded Frank Rijkaard as Barca boss in 2008, after spending a year in charge of the club's B team.

Pep Guardiola - Despedida del FC Barcelona


vrijdag 25 mei 2012

Will Neymar leave Santos?

Santos president willing to listen to Neymar bids
Barca, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Juventus and PSG were all named as potential destinations for the forward, who could leave before the 2014 World Cup in his homeland

Neymar - Santos x Guarani

Santos president Luis Alvaro Ribeiro has admitted that Neymar could leave the Copa Libertadores holders as early as 2013, and also claimed that some of Europe's most prestigious clubs are interested in taking the young phenomenon across the Atlantic. 

Despite fierce competition between the likes of La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid to secure the 20-year-old Brazil international's signature, both Neymar and his club have maintained that they would not be rushed into a sale.

The player, valued at over €50 million by Peixe directors, signed a new contract at the end of 2011 and committed his future to Santos until the next World Cup, on home soil. 

According to Ribeiro, however, the club would be prepared to listen to offers before the previously-agreed date. 

"He will not leave until at least next year, but we are interested in talking with the clubs that want him," the chief explained to Tuttosport.

Ribeiro continued to explain that, besides the Spanish institutions, there were plenty of other clubs who would jump at the chance of signing his star. 

"It is not just Mourinho's Real Madrid; Barcelona, Juventus, Chelsea and PSG also want him."

Neymar will next be in action on Thursday evening, when Santos take on Velez Sarsfield as they bid to overturn a 1-0 deficit in the Copa Libertadores quarter-finals.


dinsdag 22 mei 2012

Cristiano Ronaldo reflects on season

Ronaldo: 'I'd give my season a ten'

Cristiano Ronaldo bettered his record-breaking goal tally to score 46 in La Liga this season

Cristiano Ronaldo has appraised his 2011-12 season at Real Madrid as a perfect ten, whilst the performance of his team as a whole is worthy of a mere nine out of ten.

Ronaldo, 27, notched 57 goals this campaign, including 46 in La Liga, bettering his record-breaking tallies of the previous season. He has been tipped by manager Jose Mourinho to win the prestigious FIFA Ballon d'Or award in December.

Despite his flawless individual campaign, Ronaldo sees room for improvement in his Real Madrid team, despite a La Liga season that saw them reach 100 points, whilst their tally of 121 goals was also a record.

"I would give my season a ten on an individual level and collectively a nine, because we wanted to win more titles - the Champions League for example," Ronaldo told Spanish newspaper AS.

"We've been close this year, but we need to stay calm. The tenth will arrive in the next season or two. We know that everyone is focused on winning the Champions League. You notice it in the street, but we need to stay calm.''

On Mourinho's claim that he is the prime candidate for the Ballon d'Or award, Ronaldo agreed, but added that personal awards did not concern him much with Euro 2012 kicking-off in a couple of weeks.

"I'm not the one who judges who deserves to win the Ballon d'Or, but I think I've had a fantastic season. I've won the most difficult league in the world," Ronaldo added

"I agree with what Mourinho said, but what I want now is to have a great European Championships, because that could also help me in the Ballon d'Or, although honestly it's not a matter that concerns me much. I'm happy with the season that I've had, but I'm already only thinking of helping my country now.''

Source: ESPN

Mourinho stays with Real Madrid until 2016

Mourinho at Real Madrid: titles and records

Celebración 32ª liga

The manager has won La Liga and the Copa del Rey, establishing impressive records at the club and in every championship, therefore prompting his contract to be extended to 2016.

Jose Mourinho has just finished his second season at Real Madrid. Since his presentation as the team's manager on 31 May 2010, he has won the 2011 Copa del Rey and the 2012 La Liga titles - the former was the club's first in 18 years. In two years, Mourinho has established countless records at the club and in every competition.

In his first season, Mournho coached the team to Copa del Rey glory, defeating Murcia, Levante, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla before winning 1-0 against Barcelona in what was possibly the best final in the tournament's history.

The manageer won the FIFA World Coach of the Year, La Gazzeta dello Sport's Man of the Year, the IFFHS World Coach of the Year and's Ideal XI awards during his first season at the club.

Mourinho won La Liga in his second campaign at Real, establishing impressive new records in the championship: the team took an unprecedented 100 points; scored a record 121 goals; won 32 games; earned the most victories, netted the most strikes and took the most points on the road (16, 51, 50); had the most turnarounds (9); and defeated all of its opponents.

Jose Mourinho is already the fifth Real Madrid coach with the largest number of victories in La Liga, and the one to reach the 50 victory mark fastest, needing only 62 encounters to do so. He has also defeated all 22 teams he's faced in the championship.

Real Madrid reached the Champions League semifinals two straight years, having played them last as far back as 2002/03. During the 2011/12 campaign, Real had the best run in the history of the competition's group stage by winning every single game.

With Mourinho at the helm, the Whites have scored 322 goals in 117 official encounters, and he has become the first coach in history to win league titles in Spain, England, Italy and Portugal.

Mourinho: First coach to win the league title in Spain, Italy and England

Mourinho is the fourth manager to win four different league championships in Europe and the fifth in the world to win leagues in at least four different countries

Athletic de Bilbao - Real Madrid

Jose Mourinho is the first Portuguese coach to win La Liga, the fourth manager to win four different league championships in Europe, and the fifth in the world to win league tournaments in at least four different countries.

"I had several objectives when I started training," said Mourinho upon arriving in Madrid close to two years ago, "I wanted to win the Champions League with three different clubs. Ernst Happel, Ottmat Hitzfeld and I have won the title with two different teams. Happel has passed away and Hitzfeld will retire soon, but I still have many years ahead of me. I also want to be the first to win the three main league championships in the world: La Liga, the Premier League and the Serie A. Fabio Capello has won in Italy and Spain, Ancelotti in England and Italy, and I've won in England and Italy. Capello won't be able to do so unless he goes back to club coaching, which he says he won't do. I guess it's up to Carlo and I, and I don't know if it is also one of Carlo's objectives. I want all three."

Well, he's managed to do this last thing, and the above words prove just how wimportant it was for him to win La Liga.

Mourinho is the second coach to win the league title with Real Madrid in his second full campaign on the team. He was preceded by Lippo Hertzka, who did so in 1932 without losing a single match.

Mourinho is, with Ernst Happel (who won in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Austria) and Trapattoni (Italy, Germany, Portugal, Austria), the third coach with four different league titles. Only Bela Guttman (Hungary, Italy, Brazil, Portugal, Uruguay) and Tomislav Ivic (Yugoslavia, Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Portugal, France) have won in more countries.


zondag 20 mei 2012

Torres seeks Chelsea talks

Disappointed hit-man wants clarity over role next season

Image text here

Fernando Torres has cast serious doubt over whether his long-term future lies at Chelsea after calling for clear-the-air talks with the club's hierarchy over what his role will be next season.

In a surprisingly candid interview with Guillem Balague a disgruntled Torres has wasted little time in expressing his disappointment at missing out on a starting place in the Chelsea side that claimed the UEFA Champions League on Saturday evening in Munich, going on to claim for much of his time in West London he has felt 'lost' and may even have 'given up' were it not for the support he has received from those close to him.

The greatest day in Chelsea's history saw them defy the odds once more in the Champions League in beating hosts Bayern Munich on penalties to claim what had become a Holy Grail for Blues owner Roman Abramovich.
Torres felt his improved form over the past month would earn him a starting spot but Roberto Di Matteoelected to go with Didier Drogba as a lone striker, who vindicated his manager's faith by scoring Chelsea's leveller before netting the winning penalty in the shoot-out after the two sides could not be separated at 1-1 after extra-time.

The Chelsea squad are currently enjoying a victory parade throughout the capital but for Torres any delight over claiming Europe's premier trophy has been tempered somewhat by the fact he played only a minimal role off the substitutes' bench.

Torres concedes he feels let down by how things have transpired at Chelsea since joining the European champions in January 2011 for a record £50million fee and it is a situation he is determined to rectify as soon as possible.

"It's contradictory because I feel like I'm at a peak moment in my career, with more desire and hunger than I've felt in a long time but I've had to spend the final on the bench. It was a huge disappointment when I saw the line-up, perhaps the biggest in my life," Torres told Sky Sports' Balague on his website

"I thought I would play in this game and I couldn't imagine not doing so. But in the end I could participate and offer the team something. I'm really happy.

"This season I have felt things that I never had before. I've felt like they treated me in a way that I didn't expect. Not in the way that was spoken of when they signed me. We've had a lot of talks and we'll talk about my future.

"I want them to tell me what is going to happen in the future. Football has been fair on us, on me.

"Now I do feel like football is worth it but I've been through a difficult time. The worst in my career. I don't want that again. There's been many times when I've felt lost, I wasn't sure what to do. I felt like I didn't know where I belonged.

"I'm eternally grateful to my family who have been by my side and also for the support of the owners who have stuck by me.


"There's been many times when I've felt lost, I wasn't sure what to do. I felt like I didn't know where I belonged. " said Fernando Torres

"And especially to the fans, if it hadn't been for them this season I would have given up."

Although Chelsea have yet to indicate whether they will reward Di Matteo for guiding them to FA Cup and Champions League glory with a permanent deal, Torres seems in no mood to wait to learn of what he can expect from the club next term.

"I need the club to tell me what is going to happen and what sort of role I will have within the team, what my duties are, what the club expects of me," he concluded.

"And then judge whether it is worth it."

Prior to the penalty shoot-out Torres was seen to be in heated discussion with Di Matteo, who elected against using the Spaniard as one of his five designated takers.

Gary Cahill has since revealed he was next on the list were the shoot-out to go to sudden death, but it is Balague's understanding Torres was keen to step up and play his part.

Source: skysports

Chelsea wins the Champions League!

Bayern Munich 1-1 Chelsea (AET, 3-4 on penalties)
Drogba is Blues' hero as they win Champions League for first time
The west London outfit needed a late equaliser from the Ivorian following Thomas Muller's opener and he went on to net the crucial penalty to life the trophy

On a night of remarkable drama, Roberto Di Matteo’s team overcame the odds with a display brimming with the unbreakable spirit that has characterised what history will now remember as an epic European campaign.

Drogba equalised with a powerful header with just two minutes of normal time left after Thomas Muller had headed Bayern 1-0 in front after 82 minutes.

The Ivorian then turned villain when he tripped Franck Ribery in the box early in extra-time to concede a soft penalty but Arjen Robben’s weak effort was well saved by Petr Cech.

With both sides looking resplendent in their adidas kits, the score remained locked at 1-1 by the end of extra-time. This meant that, for the second time, Chelsea’s fate in a Champions League final would be decided by penalties.

The two sides traded un-erring penalties - and misses through Juan Mata and Ivica Olic - before Bastian Schweinsteiger hit the post to leave Drogba to seal the win and the trophy.

The game will remain especially memorable for the way in which Chelsea overcame the disadvantage of playing away in the German side’s stadium while having four key players banned.

There had been a carnival atmosphere in Munich throughout the day as tens of thousands of replica-shirted supporters descended on to the main square and pavement cafes to down steins in the sunshine. 

It was replicated in the thunderous noise at the Allianz Arena.

A huge human wall of red and white, representing the Bayern masses, was in place a full hour before kick-off, almost unique in this day and age. The Chelsea fans filtered in more slowly, with reports they had been delayed in travelling by metro to the stadium on the outskirts of the city.

Before kick-off, Roberto Di Matteo had taken a gamble by submitting a team-sheet that included the name of Ryan Bertrand for the first time in a Champions League fixture.

The 22-year-old former trainee pushed up from his normal left-back position to provide balance and defensive know-how on the left side of midfield, a role that he filled capably for 70 minutes.

David Luiz and Gary Cahill returned to central defence after lengthy injury lay-offs (five and three-and-a-half weeks respectively) with hamstring injuries, John Obi Mikel and Frank Lampard protected the defence while Bertrand, Mata and Salomon Kalou were the three attacking midfielders behind Drogba.

Without four suspended players - who all watched helplessly in their suits from the touchline - it was a make-do-and-mend formation. Solidity had got Chelsea through this far and Di Matteo was not going to change the script and go all gung-ho in what could prove to be his last match as manager.

Bayern, without three suspended players of their own, plumped for an attacking formation, with Toni Kroos dropping back to partner Schweinsteiger and Mario Gomez filling in between the brilliant wing duo Robben and Ribery.

Feeding off the passion and noise of their fans, Bayern were quickest out of the blocks and dominated the opening half. Schweinsteiger controlled the midfield to provide a platform for a red siege on the blue goal. 

The error-prone Jose Bosingwa provided the first heart-in-the-mouth moment when he miscued a Lampard pass in the six-yard box. Shortly afterwards, the lively Robben tore through on goal and shot low and hard from a tight angle only for Cech to improvise smartly at his hear post. 

Chelsea had to wait until the 34th minute to register their first shot of the game but Muller’s wasteful volley immediately afterward seemed to stir them into action and Kalou tested Manuel Neuer with a stinging shot from a tight angle.

Chances continued to go begging for Bayern. Gomez was the biggest culprit, firstly failing to tame a miscued Ribery cross that reached him just outside the six-yard box and then shooting wildly over the bar.

By half-time, Bayern had registered 13 shots to Chelsea’s two, an accurate reflection of their dominance. The only stat that mattered, though, was the 0-0 scoreline.

Immediately after the break, Ribery tore down the left flank and sent in a left-footed missile that was athletically cleared by Luiz.

Flares were lit in the top tier of the Bayern end, creating visibility problems, whilst Chelsea continued to fight fires lit by the effervescent home side on the pitch, with Ashley Cole making a brilliant defensive clearance.

It was backs-to-the-wall stuff, just like the 180 minutes against Barcelona. Roman Abramovich, watching in the VIP area, looked inscrutable but might have wondered how all his largesse had been reduced to simple British qualities of yeoman defending and plucky resourcefulness.

Ribery had the ball in the back of the net only for it to be ruled out for offside and Bayern were unfortunate when a strong handball shout, after Cole handled a Philipp Lahm cross, was rejected.

By the 70-minute mark, Chelsea had blocked 11 shots in the match, more than any other team in any other Champions League game this season.

Di Matteo’s team had their best opportunity soon afterwards, when Neuer dropped the ball and it fell to Drogba’s feet. Clearly surprised, he scuffed the shot and the Germany No.1 gratefully grasped it.

Bayern continued to carve out opportunities and finally made their dominance count when Muller headed in at the far post after 82 minutes.

The Germany international stole in at the back post to direct Schweinsteiger’s centre into the ground and, for Chelsea fans, agonisingly over the head of  Cech and into the net off the underside of the bar.

It was due reward for Bayern’s complete dominance of territory and chances and sent the Allianz Arena, Bayern’s home ground, into a frenzy. 

But six minutes later the hitherto subdued Drogba made Bayern pay for their profligacy when he met Lampard’s corner with a powerful header from the edge of the six-yard box after stealing in front of his marker.

This carried the match into an extra-time marked by Cech’s excellent save from the spot, before the agonising arrival of penalties.

In the shoot-out Lahm, Gomez and goalkeeper Neuer scored for Bayern while Luiz, Lampard and Cole netted for Chelsea. 

Olic and Mata traded missed penalties before Schweinsteiger hit the post, paving the way for Drogba to score the 10th penalty. 

He duly did so, sending Chelsea's 17,500 fans at the Allianz Arena into raptures.


vrijdag 18 mei 2012

Champions League Final tomorrow

Bayern Munich, Chelsea Seek Same Champions League Destiny for Different Reasons

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 25:  Arjen Robben of Bayern Munich  looks on during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final second leg between Real Madrid CF and Bayern Munich at The Bernabeu Stadium on April 25, 2012 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Much of the buildup for Saturday's Champions League final has focused on Chelsea's rejuvenation under Roberto Di Matteo and their miraculous semifinal win against Barcelona, but Bayern Munich's story is just as compelling.

For the second year running, Germany's richest, most popular and most successful football club were outgunned in the Bundesliga by Borussia Dortmund.

Revenge was on offer in the German Cup final, but Bayern were once again humbled, swept aside 5-2 by a Dortmund side inspired by Robert Lewandowski and Shinji Kagawa.

Said Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes, as per The National: "Congratulations to Borussia. They deserved it today. They used our weaknesses. I don't need to explain what they were."

While there may be occasional weaknesses on the pitch for Bayern, there are none to be found in their bank accounts. According to Forbes, Germany's superpower is the fifth-most valuable club on the planet—behind only Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Arsenal.


Bayern generated $466 million in revenue for the 2010-11 season, which is more than double the $197 million mustered by Dortmund, and was bettered only by United ($532 million), Barcelona ($653 million) and Madrid ($695 million).

And then there's their comparatively small debt. Bayern's amounts for just 13 percent of their value, whereas Barcelona's debt is at 54 percent, United with 32 percent, and Chelsea at 22 percent.

Bayern's ownership structure plays a big part in their financial stability. Like all Bundesliga teams, Bayern's majority shareholders are their fans, who own 82 percent of the club and make decisions such as the ticket prices.

Here's football finance expert David Conn, writing in The Guardian:

Bayern reach Saturday's Champions League final having sought to maintain a balance between being supporter-owned and having the commercial clout to compete for and keep the world's best players.

Alongside the 82 percent of Bayern owned by 130,000 club members, nine percent stakes are held by two mighty German companies, Adidas and Audi, which also sponsor the club.

As Conn points out, Bayern's business model is the antithesis of that in operation at Chelsea.

The Blues are owned outright by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, who has total control and has poured an estimated £1 billion into the club since taking over in 2003.

Bayern president Uli Hoeness is clearly not a fan of Chelsea's ownership structure, nor Abramovich for that matter. Here's what he told the Daily Mail this week:

I get angry every week when I go to buy petrol. The oil mafia takes money out of my pocket to invest it in footballers. For me this stinks to high heaven and I include Mr. Abramovich in all this.

We need to beat clubs like Chelsea on the field of play. Chelsea are a club with their backs to the wall as a result of their patchy league season. If they lose they won’t be in the competition next year. 


If Bayern win it, we will make around £20 million. That is what the game is all about: sporting success based on sound economic sense. Mr. Abramovich has put £900m into Chelsea. If he pulls the plug on them, you’ll be able to pick the club up for the price of a puzzle magazine from a newsstand.

Hoeness echoes a sentiment felt by many others, but let's be honest, Chelsea would be nowhere near a Champions League final if not for Abramovich deciding they were worth both his time and considerable resources. Without Russian money, they'd be treading water in the Premier League—or worse.

Some have even suggested the club was on the verge of financial collapse when Abramovich swooped in—literally. Legend has it he chose Chelsea on a whim after spotting Stamford Bridge on a helicopter shopping trip over London.

Chelsea chose success over mediocrity. Guilty as charged.

Nine years on, Abramovich has already helped deliver three Premier League titles and four FA Cup wins to southwest London.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, center. 

The success of his team has coincided with a commercial explosion. Television markets are expanding and the global interest in the Premier League has soared. As a result, there are many in the U.S. who will know far more about Chelsea than they do about Bayern.

When you consider Bayern have won 22 league titles to Chelsea's four, and four European crowns to Chelsea's none, it's a skewed perspective.

But Abramovich won't be satisfied until he wins club football's biggest prize—the Champions League.


That is the weight of expectancy that falls on Chelsea this Saturday. Roberto Di Matteo and his team will enter the Allianz Arena knowing that only victory can quench the ambition of their owner.

All that money. All those semifinals and the lingering heartbreak of the 2008 defeat to Manchester United in Moscow. All of it will be worthwhile if Chelsea can reach the fabled promised land in Munich.

Bayern's motivation has nothing to do with money. Their currency is pride.

For Heynckes' team, a place in Bayern's rich history beckons. Not since 2001 have the Germans been champions of Europe. And for a club of their stature, the wait has felt like a lifetime. What better chance than Saturday, in their home stadium, to be back where they feel they belong?

Bayern might have missed out on the league title and the German Cup, but with victory against Chelsea, bragging rights will be emphatically restored. They will make a statement that will be heard throughout the world.

Suddenly, this Bayern team will be talked of as one who can rule the continent again—just as Franz Beckenbauer's men did in the 1970s, winning three straight European Cups in 1974, '75 and '76.

“You need an international title if you want to become a golden generation," said Bayern captain Philipp Lahm this week.

Win in Munich, and Bayern will be reborn. Lose, and the club will end the season trophy-less.

Destiny beckons Lahm and his teammates at the Allianz Arena, just as it does for Di Matteo and Chelsea.

And despite their differences, there could hardly be more at stake for both teams. And such is the defining nature of the contest: You wouldn't bet against the winners being back in the final in 12 months' time.

Source: Bleacher Report


maandag 14 mei 2012

European Champions 2011/2012

La Liga 
Real Madrid

Iker Casillas Iker Casillas of Real Madrid CF holds up the La Liga trophy as he celebrates with team-mates after the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and RCD Mallorca at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 13, 2012 in Madrid, Spain.

Premier League
Manchester City

Eredivisie (Dutch)

Serie A

Borussia Dortmund

Ligue 1

vrijdag 11 mei 2012

Lionel Messi Accused of Racism

Lionel Messi Accused of Racism by Royston Drenthe

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 05: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona runs with the ball during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou on May 5, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Innocent until proven guilty. That's the longstanding principle in matters like this, but whether or not it will prevail in the case of Royston Drenthe vs. Lionel Messi will become clear in the next few days.

Drenthe has accused Messi, the world's best player and reigning Ballon d'Or winner, of racism.

If he's telling the truth, the ramifications for Messi and Barcelona could be far-reaching. If he's not, Drenthe has stooped just about as low as you can go to seek out attention for himself.

Either way, Drenthe can expect to be besieged by the media in the days and weeks to come.

The Dutch midfielder, who is set to return to Real Madrid after a failed loan spell with Everton this season, claims Messi referred to him in the past as "negro".

It's the same accusation that was leveled at Liverpool's Luis Suarez by Manchester United's Patrice Evra. That case went before an FA disciplinary panel and resulted in Suarez being banned for eight matches and fined £40,000.

Here's what Drenthe told Dutch website, with translation by


 "I played against him [Messi] many times and we always have problems with each other.

You know what bothers me so? That tone with which he always says, 'negro, negro'. I understand that 'negro' in South America is very common, but we can not stand it.

Mahamadou Diarra, my team-mate at Real, could explode if 'negro' was aimed at him. The Argentinean Gabriel Heinze and Gonzalo Higuain said it initially on the training ground, but they were stopped.

When Hercules [the team Drenthe spent a year on loan with last season] played Barcelona, during the game I had a small altercation with him [Messi]. He gave me a hand in the match and again said a few times, 'hola negro'."

Thus far there has been no comment from Barcelona, Messi or Real Madrid. We have heard nothing further from Drenthe either.

It may be that nothing more will be said on the matter and, albeit very slowly, the issue goes away.

But with Spanish football fighting a very public battle against racism, the authorities could feel obliged to act. FIFA may even force their hand. The most obvious step would be to reach out to Drenthe and ask him to confirm the allegation.

If he does, we may yet see Messi facing a charge similar to the one against Suarez.

At that point, the reputation of the best footballer on the planet will suffer whatever the outcome. Messi's standing as one of sport's most untarnished role models will be forever undermined, and there will be many who will turn against him.

But, for now, we have a moral obligation to assume innocence on both the parts of Drenthe and Messi.

If Drenthe is telling the truth, his case needs to be heard. Equally, Messi's standing should be in no way affected unless this accusation is proved, and a ruling made.

To those who will argue that it doesn't matter if Messi said it or not, I will say this—while "negro" may very well be an acceptable term in South America, it surely doesn't take long to realize you can't take it with you to Europe.

Ignorance is not a defense in my book. But again, for now, no defense is required.

Source: Bleacher Report

woensdag 9 mei 2012

Europa League Champion 2012: Atletico Madrid!

Atletico Madrid 3-0 Athletic Bilbao

Europa League Champion! 

Falcao inspires Atletico to Europa victory

Falcao strikes twice and Diego adds clincher as Simeone's men are crowned Europa League champions
The prolific Colombian struck gold once more, scoring a brilliant brace in the first half which, added to a fine breakaway goal from Diego, sealed the trophy for the capital outfit

Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid - Athletic Bilbao) Europa League final
Radamel Falcao stood up to be counted once again as Atletico Madrid claimed the 2011-12 Europa League title, defeating Athletic Bilbao 3-0 in an all-Spanish final at the National Arena in Bucharest. 

The Colombian striker, who scored the winner for former club Porto in last season's final, produced two superb individual efforts in the first half alongside an equally fantastic clincher from Diego to ensure that Atletico regained the trophy that they last won in 2010.

Falcao's strikes took his tally in the competition to 12, confirming him as the tournament's top scorer for the second campaign running, as Bilbao never found a way back into the match, despite laying siege to the Atletico goal for large periods in the second half.
Atletico were on the front foot straight from kick off, impressing with some incisive link-up play in the attacking third. When the opener arrived after seven minutes, though, it was all down to the brilliance of one man.    

The ball was played to Falcao on the right side of the box, who showed delicate footwork to manufacture an inch of space and bend a sumptuous effort past Gorka Iraizoz into the top corner.

Bilbao were slow to respond to the setback and were faced with further danger when Diego dragged a shot wide from the edge of the area.

Atletico’s threat diminished shortly after, however, as they seemed content to sit back and invite Bilbao to take the game to them; an offer which the Basque outfit accepted.

Fernando Llorente sliced a close-range volley off target, before Iker Muniain forced Thibaut Courtois into a smart save with a low drive from just outside the box, as Marcelo Bielsa’s men began to establish a foothold in the game.

But just when they looked to be turning the match back into their favour, they were taken apart by another moment of quality from Falcao on 34 minutes.

Arda Turan’s pass found the Colombian in a great position, and his twists and turns left marker Jon Aurtenetxe on his backside before blasting home from close range for his 29th Europa League goal in 29 games.  

The momentum was now with Atletico, and Falcao nearly rounded off his hat-trick on the stroke of half time after cutting in from the left side, but this time his finish deserted him.

Bilbao came storming out of the break and a strong run and cross from Muniain was turned away at the last by Diego Godin with Llorente lurking for the tap-in.

Inigo Perez’s tricky cross-cum-shot forced Courtois to tip over, and as the game crossed the hour mark, Bilbao slowly began to set up shop deep in the Atletico half.

Two chances went begging for Marcelo Biesla’s men, with both Andoni Iraola and Oscar De Marcos firing over the bar from positions where they really should have hit the target.

Susaeta went even closer with just over 10 minutes to go with a low drive from the right that Courtois did well to beat away.

But with large numbers camped in the opposition half, Bilbao were always vulnerable on the counter. Falcao had another chance to complete his treble after breaking free in the 80th minute but could only strike the post with Iraizoz beaten.

Bilbao were caught out on the break again five minutes before the end, and this time Atletico made them pay. Collecting the ball a fair distance from goal, Diego left two defenders in his dust before stroking a fine finish across the goalkeeper to put the match beyond any doubt

Ibai produced a late stunner that hit the woodwork, but it was of little consequence, as Bilbao’s European adventure all too literally ended in tears, with Atletico emerging as Europa League champions for the second time in two years.  


zondag 6 mei 2012

Messi breaks record

Barcelona 4 - 0 Espanyol
Messi breaks record for most goals scored in a single European league season
The Argentine's record-breaking year is showing no signs of abating after he broke Dudu Georgescu's feat of 47 strikes in a single league campaign on the continent

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi has now scored the most goals in a single European league season after netting four times in Barcelona's 4-0 victory over Espanyol on Saturday.

The prolific No.10 broke Dudu Georgescu's record of 47 goals for Dinamo Bucharest in the 1976-77 campaign when he put the Blaugrana 2-0 up during the Catalan derby at Camp Nou.

Messi is now on 50 league goals for the season, having followed up his pair of strikes with a further two more on the night and securing his eighth hat-trick of the campaign in the process.

The record is just one of several in what has been a memorable season for the Argentine, beginning with his five goals against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League to earn him the distinction of being the competition's first player to score five in a single match.

Messi also became Barca's all-time top goalscorer and the highest scorer in one Spanish season, while in the past week, his treble against Malaga meant he broke Gerd Muller's long-standing 67-goal haul in one campaign.


Real Madrid Report

Granada 1-2 Real Madrid
Jose Mourinho's men on course for 100-point season after late drama
An uninspired Blancos side had two late goals to thank as they turned the game on its head to earn three points against the relegation-threatened Andalusians

Cristiano Ronaldo - Real Madrid

Real Madrid left it late as they laboured towards a 2-1 away victory against Granada to remain on course to finish the Liga campaign on 100 points.

Franco Jara grabbed the opening goal of the game in the fifth minute as an under-strength and under-par Los Blancos struggled to create anything of note. However, Cristiano Ronaldo's late penalty brought Madrid back into the game before David Cortes' inexplicable own-goal during injury time sent the newly-crowned champions onto 97 points.

Granada lost their discipline at the full-time whistle as Moises Hurtado and Guilherme Siqueira picked up red cards with Resino's side's survival in the Spanish top flight still in doubt.

After being given a guard of honour by the home side, Madrid made a shaky start to proceedings and the Spanish giants found themselves a goal down in the fifth minute. Picking the ball up on the halfway line after dispossessing Marcelo, Jara stormed past Ricardo Carvalho into the box before coolly slipping the ball underneath Antonio Adan's legs to find the back of the net.

Resino's men were nearly in wonderland two minutes later as they came mightily close to adding a second. Odion Ighalo's shot from the edge of the area was parried away by Adan before the Nigerian's rebound effort was cleared off the line by Marcelo - the Brazilian appearing in the right place at the right time to save his team further embarrassment.

Despite fighting their way back into the game, Los Blancos struggled to create goalscoring opportunities and had to wait until the 36th minute to have a shot at goal. Nuri Sahin picked the ball up 25 metres from goal before unleashing a swerving drive which narrowly cleared the crossbar.

Mourinho's men saw their first clear-cut chance of the match appear in the 42nd minute and Ronaldo was guilty of missing a glorious opportunity from close range. Karim Benzema held the ball up well before clipping a clever cross into the six-yard box yet his Portuguese team-mate could only screw his header wide of the target, much to the relief of Julio Cesar in the Granada goal as the home team headed into the interval 1-0 up.

The 2011-12 champions started the second period brightly after Gonzalo Higuain replaced Kaka and Xabi Alonso came in for Sahin, and they came close to the equaliser on 58 minutes. Marcelo's cross-field delivery evaded the Granada defence and found Benzema on the right side of the box. The Frenchman took one touch to bring the ball under his control before smashing it towards the top corner from a narrow angle; a shot which Cesar was equal to, parrying the ball out for a corner.

Seven minutes later Higuain slipped a clever through-ball into the path of Ronaldo but the former Manchester United man was faced with an angle too tight as his eventual effort was easily blocked by the goalkeeper.

Madrid were handed their opportunity back into the match in the 79th minute when Moises was penalised for wrestling Ronaldo to the ground in the box, earning himself a yellow card in the process. The Portuguese attacker stepped up to take the penalty himself, slamming his spot-kick in the bottom corner sending the keeper the wrong way to bag his 45th league goal of the season.

Los Blancos were to deal Granada a bitter blow when Benzema's cross into the box in injury time was turned into his own net by David Cortes to gift Mourinho's side all three points as Moises and Siqueira saw red cards after the final whistle.

Real finish their championship-winning campaign at the Bernabeu next weekend against Mallorca needing a win to set a new Liga record of 100 points in a single season, while Granada visit Madrid to face Rayo Vallecano in a direct scrap for survival.


Chelsea - FA Cup 2012 Champion!

Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool
Drogba fires Blues to FA Cup glory despite dramatic late Reds fightback
Ramires put Di Matteo's men ahead in the first half and they seemed to be crusing to victory before Andy Carroll scored one and was millimetres from a late second in a vain rally

FA Cup Final, Liverpool v Chelsea, Ramires; Juan Mata

Didier Drogba scored a record-breaking fourth FA Cup final goal to seal glory for Chelsea who won 2-1 despite an Andy Carroll-inspired Liverpool coming within millimetres of a comeback.

A quality-starved first half was punctured only after 11 minutes when Ramires capitalised on a series of Liverpool errors to burst down the right and slot into the net.

Drogba’s historic finish soon after half-time looked to have Chelsea comfortable, but Carroll came off the bench to slam home an emphatic finish shortly past the hour.

He thought he had pulled off an astonishing comeback in the 82nd minute when he powered a header at the far post, but somehow Petr Cech was able to claw it back before crossing the whole of the line, those few millimetres securing the Blues' triumph as they held off a furious final assault.

Kenny Dalglish opted to leave Carroll on the bench, Luis Suarez playing alone up front with the likes of Steven Gerrard and Craig Bellamy forward in support, while there was no place for stalwart defender Jamie Carragher.

Former Reds star Fernando Torres was named as a substitute for Chelsea, with Drogba chosen to lead the line, while Branislav Ivanovic parterned John Terry at the back and veteran Frank Lampard started.

After both sides spent the first 10 minutes acclimatising, an array of Liverpool errors allowed Chelsea through. Jay Spearing lost the ball in the centre, allowing Juan Mata into possession, who fed Ramires on the right. The Brazilian easily powered outside Jose Enrique before finishing calmly past Pepe Reina, who had committed to his dive far too early.

The Reds sought a quick response, some flowing football resulting in the ball falling for Bellamy just inside the Chelsea box. The Welshman hammered a fearsome snapshot but Ivanovic was on hand with a crucial block.

Both sides looked to attack as the halfway point of the first period passed, Salomon Kalou embarking on a mazy, unchallenged run into the Liverpool area before being caught out by Daniel Agger at the last minute.

The Dane himself then buckled swashes with his own powerful drive forward, but as he pushed on into the box, Enrique’s pass was hit slightly too hard, and the spark was snuffed out.

There was little more joy for either side, Suarez only able to stretch enough to tamely make headed contact with an inviting cross from Jordan Henderson five minutes before the break.

Chelsea opened the second period with a testing corner from Lampard, Glen Johnson displaying plenty of muscle to hold off Terry, though the Blues captain still got a desperate touch that flopped onto the top of the net.

They were on target five minutes later, though. Lampard had space to pick his pass with the Liverpool back line ahead of him, electing not to shoot but to play it in for Drogba on the edge of the area. The Ivorian took a touch and aimed through the legs of Martin Skrtel to roll his record fourth FA Cup final goal into the corner.

Dalglish threw caution to the wind by replacing the struggling Spearing with Carroll and the target man made an immediate difference.

Found by Enrique in the box, Carroll juggled and stepped over and seemed to have missed his moment to strike but instead whipped around the beaten Terry and slammed home left-footed to put Liverpool back in it.

The breakthrough woke the Reds up and they streamed forward, the substitute striker at the heart of it. His header down teed up Henderson to shoot wide from 20 yards as the crowd came alive.

Gerrard tried his luck next, attempting to meet a knock-down from over 30 yards out with a trademark howitzer, but he miscontrolled and fired wildly over the top. Carroll then came back into play as he met Enrique’s left-sided cross with a header not far off-target.

Liverpool thought the £35 million man had struck again in the 82nd minute, arriving superbly to blast a thumping header at the far post. Reds players and fans alike celebrated a goal but the referee's assistant made a superb call to point out that Cech had in fact jumped quickly enough with incredible reflex to keep the whole of the ball from crossing the whole of the line.

Dalglish's men hammered away in the final minutes with Chelsea clinging on desperately - although Skrtel had to cover for an exposed Reina at the death - but the final breakthrough just would not come and the Blues celebrated their fourth FA Cup triumph in six years.


Manchester City & United face crunch Sunday in title race

Roberto Mancini's side travel to in-form Newcastle knowing they must secure all three points if they are to stay top of the table, with the Red Devils hosting Swansea afterwards

Roberto Mancini,Sir Alex Ferguson
Manchester City head into Sunday's clash at Newcastle knowing one slip could leave them behind Manchester United in the Premier League title race once again.

City travel to Tyneside in the knowledge that if they can secure three points it will more than likely mean they will be crowned champions on the final day of the season. However, Alan Pardew's men are flying high in fifth spot and fighting for that all-important Champions League place, and with Papiss Cisse in the team anything seems possible at the moment.

Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping for a favour from the Toon, and will also have to make sure his own side do a professional job of beating Swansea at Old Trafford. If City slip up and United secure three points it will take United back to the top with one game remaining.

Another fixture with consequences at both ends of the table is Aston Villa against Tottenham. Spurs will be looking to build on their 4-1 demolition of Bolton in the week as they try to secure the final Champions League spot and overhaul Arsenal in third, while Alex McLeish's side sit just three points above the relegation places, and could slip further into trouble if results don't go their way.

QPR will be looking to build on their recent impressive home form with a win over Stoke on Sunday. Mark Hughes' men have beaten Liverpool and Arsenal in recent weeks at Loftus Road and know a victory over Tony Pulis' side could help secure their position in the Premier League for one more season.

Elsewhere, Bolton host West Brom in a game they must win to have any chance of avoiding the drop. Meanwhile Fulham clash with Sunderland and relegated Wolves will be attempting to stop the resurgent Everton and Nikica Jelavic.