2007/08 Soccer Thread - Euro Fever!

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Because it's never too early to start talking about the new season.

As an appetizer, may I present to you, courtesy of YouTube, some fine, fine goals.

Some of the Best Goals of the Premiership, Part I and Part II.

The 50 Best goals of La Liga in Spain. 50-25 and 24-1.

And some fantastic goals from Serie A in Italy. Have a looksee.

So, of course, the biggest news of the offseason was the Match-Fixing scandal in Italy. Read On Here.

In short, Juventus, the most successful club in Italy, have been relegated to Serie B (the Italian second tier) and docked 30 points for the beginning of the season. Fiorentina and Lazio were also demoted, and AC Milan was kicked out of European competition and docked 15 points. All clubs are appealing the verdict.

What this means for the rest of the footballing world is, basically a fire-sale on players from all the involved clubs, especially Juventus. Supposedly, Fabio Cannavaro (the real best player at the World Cup), Lilian Thuram, Patrick Viera, and a host of other Juventus players will be leaving Turin for greener, less relegated pastures. Milan may also see some of its players leaving.

The most entertaining part of the summer months for me is always the utterly ridiculous transfer market. Players moving to and fro with reckless abandon, and teams overspending on players who aren't that good. I'm particularly interested by the move of Fabio Aurelio to Liverpool from Valencia. Now, Football Manager certainly isn't the best way to rate a player's talents, but christ, this guy is fantastic in FM. But will he adapt to the English game and become a valuable part of the Rafalution?

Things should really crank up for the upcoming weeks, as teams really get to buying and selling. Look for Arsenal to sign a new center-back, Ruud to leave Manchester United for Real Madrid, Fernando Torres to head for Manchester (perhaps) and Real Madrid attempt to buy their way back into a title.

I'm looking forward to next year, esepcially to see if Barca can keep it up, if Fulham can stay up, and if Newcastle can do less with more, again.

Good times people, good times.

Reading:

On no new faces at Manchester United

On the Scandal In Italy.

And on Aston Villa.

Oh, Predders. You are a joy.

I seriously had typed out my 2006/2007 intro post yesterday complete with threads on the Scandal and Villa and on the Zidane/Materazzi ruling, then erroneously clicked away from the page, losing the post.

I should have just left it to you in the first place. Great compilations of goals for last season. The Lennon goal was genius, but I'm surprised they didn't include Jenas's free kick against Man U. That was beautiful and clutch.

On to my contribution to the thread - My friends and I are getting primed for our annual Fantasy Premier League.

While I was disappointed with the Premierleague.com's handling of the fantasy World Cup, they know their stuff when it comes to the highest tier of English football. Its free and easy, most importantly. So if the Goodjers want to play too, you can join in our league, or I can create another private league just for GWJ.

PM me with an email for an invite to 'The League'.

I saw Shaolin Soccer for the 1st time this weekend. I wish all soccer was like that!

Bill Simmons' Page 2 Article on How to Pick an EPL Team.

I won't spoil it for you, but I think he made the right decision.

Well of course YOU do. I was hoping he'd choose Newcastle, just because, as a Red Sox fan, that'd be a hilariously perfect choice for him, although the Red Sox are 10x more competent than the Toon are right now. (See: THEY HAVE NO STRIKERS. No, Shola Ameobi doesn't count, I don't care how many he scored against Lillestrom.)

My Favorite Story of the Day: The Italian FA completely pussies out.

Take note. If you cheat in Italian Soccer, you'll be given a light slap on the wrists, unless we have a ton of proof saying it was you. Seiously, a eight point deduction and forcing Milan to go through all the qualifying stages? Is that really a punishment? Is Milan going to have any trouble beating some teams from Cyprus? Why even punish them? I vote, next time, the FIGC just [Wildly improper reference of deviant sexual activity] Silvio Berlusconi. Christ.

In other news, Liverpool signed Jermaine Pennant (Why?), Fernando Torres says he's staying at Atletico, Ruud seems headed for Bayern Munich (Him, Podolski, Makaay and Roque Santa Cruz up front? Christ.), and Randy Lerner's (owner of the Cleveland Browns) is apparently interested in buying Aston Villa.

Why did Ronaldinho suck at the World Cup? Sex and FIFA 2006 (NSFW).

The link is only NSFW because it's a link to The Sun (they of the Page 3 girls) and features a very chilly picture of Ronaldinho's SO, who is smoking, may I add.

Prederick wrote:

Why did Ronaldinho suck at the World Cup? Sex and FIFA 2006 (NSFW).

Throne. How does a woman with a body like that end up with a man who has horse teeth?!

Oh, that's right. Because he is a genius with a football, and has millions of dollars.

I need to play World Cup 2006 more. I started the qualifications, but never wrapped it up. I should do that.

Haakon7 wrote:

How does a woman with a body like that end up with a man who has horse teeth?!

Maybe that's not the only part of him that resembles a horse.

Rat Boy wrote:

Maybe that's not the only part of him that resembles a horse.

Point taken.
I'd still be worried that he may decide I look like a feedbag full of oats and start munching away.

His biggest mistake is playing that EA horse-sh*t called FIFA 2k6 instead of Pro Evo 5/ Winning Eleven 9.

Now banging that sweet lady, that was NOT a mistake. Yowza!

dejanzie wrote:

His biggest mistake is playing that EA horse-sh*t called FIFA 2k6 instead of Pro Evo 5/ Winning Eleven 9.

So true.

So, Ruud van Horsey finally leaves for Spain. I still think this was a dumb move by Ferg, but he's Lord Ferg, so who knows?

Currently, i'm enjoying watching the chaos at Aston Villa.

Michael's leaving us to fill his shoes as a Devil.
That disappoints me. Such beautiful control in midfield. We'll miss that, but Jol's tried to keep him & he insists on moving. Not smart in my mind. We'll see if he gets regular play with United.

We're three days away from the EPL kick-off.
Predictions? Who's taking the top four slots? Who's going down?

Top Five:
Chelsea
Man United
Liverpool
Tottenham
(Arsenal)

Bottom Four:
(Aston Villa)
Watford
Portsmouth
Reading

News:
Villa's got a new boss. And a world-class one, at that. O'Neill won't let the drama & politicking continue, and hopefully, the Villains can get back to fighting for a 10-14 spot.

I would love to see Hargreaves at Spurs, but it looks like the Red Devils have an eye on him. I'm glad Bayern is hanging onto him. He'd be a definite force in the EPL, so unless he's on our side...

Great article on Berbatov. He's been on fire in the preseason. I'm looking forward to he, Keane and JD up front for us, if Jolly can make it work. Seems to be doing alright so far.

Haakon7 wrote:

Bill Simmons' Page 2 Article on How to Pick an EPL Team.

I won't spoil it for you, but I think he made the right decision.

That was a really entertaining article. Thanks for that.

I can't make a selection for the Premiership, I really can't. After the Community Shield, as useless as it is, I think Liverpool and Rafa Benitez may actually have Chelsea's number. I am greatly, greatly anticipating this season, but then again, i've been greatly anticipating the new season for the past few seasons.

My Top Five:
Liverpool
Chelsea (The "Special One" Gets Canned After No Premiership and No Champions League)
Arsenal
Tottenham
Man Yoo

Bottom Four:
Reading
Portsmouth
Sheffield United
Watford

Vector wrote:
Haakon7 wrote:

Bill Simmons' Page 2 Article on How to Pick an EPL Team.

That was a really entertaining article. Thanks for that.

I really enjoyed it to. As an American with some friends who just dismiss soccer as something other countries play, I think its a great 'entry' article to get a sense of how the upper echelon of English football works. Hopefully that leads on to a desire to know more and actually watch the matches.

What makes it all the more interesting is that I went through a similar process four or five years ago and came up with the same answer. I liked their style of play, the history, and the 'openness' of the club.

Prederick wrote:

I can't make a selection for the Premiership, I really can't.

I'd love to see Liverpool pull it off. I just don't see Chelsea falling that easily. But maybe they have over-extended themselves, with the signing of Ballack & Sheva. I have the feeling that Mourinho has crossed the line from genius to arrogance. It may be that the change in mindset will cripple his attempt to coalesce his super-stars into a real team.

I wish i'd gone through a process like that. Really, I don't have a team I support yet, I just haven't been able to link myself to anyone. More than any other team, I go for Fulham, but that was mostly about Brian McBride. To be perfectly honest, the first team I liked was Arsenal because, when I started paying attention to the Premiership, they were ABU ("Anyone But United") so that worked out. But I can't really get behind them now, despite how much I like Thierry Henry, because I hate jumping on a frontrunner right off the bat.

OOH, on the news front (I really feel bad focusing on England like this. They play fantastic footy in Spain, they really get behind the teams in Germany, and we won't mention Italy for now until they can at least get the cheating down to a dull roar)...

Ashley Cole's still at Arsenal, although he's been dropped for Aston Villa's visit Saturday...

Manchester United are going after Owen Hargreaves, which seems silly, having already overspent by about 8M on Michael Carrick. I guess Sir Alex believes that, if he buys enough Defensive Midfielders, one of them will have to be the next Roy Keane, just by the law of averages.

And Dirk Kuyt (You'll remember him from the Dutch World Cup squad. He had a pretty crap haircut, and played a pretty crap World Cup) is now headed for Liverpool, as, for god's sake, someone's got to be able to be a Striker and score for Liverpool.

And now, for your dose of smartiness, here's an article on how important the Defensive Midfielder has become once again. There are also German, Dutch and French season previews up over at Soccernet, but i'm far, far, FAR too lazy to link you to them.

That is a really nice process he went through. Too bad I just don't have a time to put that much effort into picking a team, so I just go with old standby reasons. I started out liking Man U just because it was easy to follow them in the US and they were good, but as I learned more about the premiership I gravitated toward Arsenal but left them for the same reasons Pred mentions (including his part about really liking Henry). For the last 3-4 season I've been following Blackburn, this started because of Brad Freidel whom I think is an amazing keeper. I'll probably end up sticking with them because I have really started to like the way the team acts/plays and the fan base isn't as hoolaganish as some of the others. They seem to have fallen into that "almost" there catagory for a top finish. Personally I don't think they will ever be able to afford the talent at the big clubs but they do make the best of what they have, which I think is even better.

As far as other teams in Europe, I only follow PSV Eindhoven and Aarhus (a small danish team that got relagated last year ).

I picked Man City mainly because of my English friends who are fans of Man City and come watch Priemership over my place.. and now they got a Greek playing for them as well.

The Scene: The City of Manchester Stadium. A boring 0-0 draw between Manchester City and Portsmouth enters the second half.

Enter Ben Thatcher

Needless to say, he's been suspended by the club, will certainly be suspended by the English FA (for hopefully 10 games, not just six) and even the City of Manchester Police are looking into it, although they probably shouldn't be. Still, jeezus.

As always though, The Guardian FTW...

With a turn of the shoulder and a flick of the elbow, Ben Thatcher ended Pedro Mendes's participation in Portsmouth's match at Manchester City on Wednesday with an act of breathtaking brutality. It wasn't even Thatcher's first such offence, with Nicky Summerbee and Paul Kitson having previously felt the force of that very same swinging ginglymus (most medical words are at least four times less interesting than whatever it is they describe, but that one's a lot better than elbow). The former offence, in January 2000, prompted so much outrage that Kevin Keegan, who had been planning to call up the player for England, dropped him so emphatically that he ended up a Welshman.

Now Thatcher's name is once more being spat with fury by the nation's commentators. It was, without doubt, a horrendous challenge - a point proved when the referee Dermot Gallagher, taking into account the new season's directive to get all major decisions completely wrong, waved a yellow card and issued a mild ticking-off. "What do you have to do to get a red, kill someone?" wondered Mendes's manager Harry Redknapp as his charge was placed under neurological supervision. On Match of the Day, Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson agreed that such mindless violence has "no place in football".

It was this caveat to their complaint that earned my attention. Insisting that Thatcher's elbow has "no place in football" is a tacit admission that it does have a place somewhere else. Assuming that extremely destructive Thatcher Elbows cannot be manufactured on a grand scale by dastardly munitions companies, I could think of only one possible use for it.

Sir Isaac Newton was an admirable fellow, and by all accounts a half-decent mathematician, but whoever decided that he would also make a decent unit of measurement was clearly mistaken. Somehow, nearly 300 years after his death, Newton remains our default way of judging force - with dangerous results. We just don't know what he means any more, and the result is clear: we throw force around with excessive and frequently destructive abandon.

Thatcher's elbow could quantify force in a much more meaningful manner. After all, we've seen the impact that one Thatcher's Elbow can make - you do the maths. Dull definitions in humdrum news reports would suddenly spring to life:

"With its brake fluid already used to water the family's petunias, which were at risk of drying up as a result of this summer's hosepipe ban, Mr Smith lost control of the car as he attempted to navigate a route down the treacherous slopes of Primrose Hill, their ordeal only ending when they crashed into a horse chestnut tree. Scientists estimated that they hit the tree with the force of 6.3 Thatcher's Elbows, enough to dislodge its entire crop of conkers, in turn causing a passing cyclist severe concussion - which serves him right for not wearing a helmet."

Wow, thats all I have to say. That was at least as bad as the head butt from Zidane.

BTW nice commentary.

The new season has begun, and with the transfer deadline fast approaching, there are some new moves to consider. Inter's Obafemi Martins has left for Newcastle. For reasons noone quite understands, Jean-Alain Boumsong has left for Juventus and Serie B. Steed Malbranque has gone to Tottenham with Wayne Routledge going in the other direction. But one move really confuses the living sh*t out of me.

Tevez and Mascherano to West Ham?!?!

For those of you not in the know, Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano are two Argentines and two of the game's hottest talents. Much is expected of both, both are very, very good. So why in the hell either would leave Corinthians for West Ham rather than AC Milan, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and so on, and so on is beyond me. I know everything seems above-ground on this one, but I smell something unseemly. Just saying.

Enter Ben Thatcher

Bah, that was a perfectly fine hockey hit.

Prederick wrote:

The new season has begun, and with the transfer deadline fast approaching, there are some new moves to consider. Inter's Obafemi Martins has left for Newcastle. For reasons noone quite understands, Jean-Alain Boumsong has left for Juventus and Serie B. Steed Malbranque has gone to Tottenham with Wayne Routledge going in the other direction. But one move really confuses the living sh*t out of me.

Tevez and Mascherano to West Ham?!?!

For those of you not in the know, Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano are two Argentines and two of the game's hottest talents. Much is expected of both, both are very, very good. So why in the hell either would leave Corinthians for West Ham rather than AC Milan, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and so on, and so on is beyond me. I know everything seems above-ground on this one, but I smell something unseemly. Just saying.

The only thing that I can think of is that they think they will get more playing time at West Ham. And then they will just demand to be transfered in January or next year for obsene amounts of money, thereby west ham being happy with it, even if they only get there talent for a little while.

Zaque wrote:

The only thing that I can think of is that they think they will get more playing time at West Ham. And then they will just demand to be transfered in January or next year for obsene amounts of money, thereby west ham being happy with it, even if they only get there talent for a little while.

That's my guess. And there's also the 'buy a Premiership team' trend that's going on with Joorabchian. I think you're probably right, Pred. Something's awry.

Two excellent players though they are, that still doesn't imply performance from the Hammers as a whole. But with all of the bigger clubs (minus the U) stumbling early, I think they have a good shot at another UEFA spot. Not Champions League, but definitely UEFA.

I have a responsibility to this thread, which i've been lax in, so i'm going to do a quickie news roundup, with a few relevant links.

Juve kicked off the year in Serie B, drawing 1-1 with Rimini. If you're interested in wailing and gnashing teeth, swing by Juventuz.com and read through some of the forums. Like looking into the monster's mouth it is.

During the International break, England beat two teams noone gives a crap about, but that idiotic optimism is starting to build. Let's all promise to remind ourselves that beating Macedonia 1-0 is fine, but it's during that damnable tournament itself where stuff really counts. As quickie asides, Italy's having a tough time of it with their new coach Roberto Donadoni, Northern Ireland somehow managed to beat Spain 3-2, and Germany dropped 13 on poor San Marino.

Back to the Prem, ManU has started the season off in style, with four wins from four. Portsmouth and Everton are second and third, with Chelsea fourth. The surprise is that Arsenal is 17th, with two draws and a loss, and no wins thus far.

So it looks like Aaron Lennon's got a serious knee injury, so he'll be out for Tottenham, Ruud hit a Hat-Trick in Madrid, Roy Keane's managing Sunderland (no really) and that's all I can honestly think of.

The Champions League kicks off in earnest this Tuesday, and may I once again advise, if you'd like to see the games, sign up with Uefa.com and watch the world's best play. And Levski Sofia.

Wonderfully, Soccernet's got another good preview up for your perusing.

1-0 To The Gooners!

And 1-0 to Chelsea

Suddenly, Didier Drogba looks like a real striker. I'd like to add however, that Shevchenko is NEVER going to live up to that price tag. Ever. He'd have to have a 40-goal season, and on current results, that ain't happening.

Keep an eye out if you've got FSC for the six-goal barnburner between Blackburn and Manchester City (4-2 to the Rovers). And hey, Newcastle even got a win.

It definitely looks like Didi is on fire at the moment. He's definitely feeling the pressure to keep his place in the squad with Sheva in the mix, but honestly, I think Shevchenko is the better player and that will show through in time. Mourinho does too.

With the Liverpool v Newcastle game up tomorrow, I'm hoping for a big match and plenty of goals for Stevie. Gotta stay at the top of the table! (Now if only Robbo and the Spurs could do the same...)

Watched Roma v Siena over the weekend. And while I can enjoy the flashes of brilliance that were occasionally apparent, it was just another reminder why I love the EPL so much. It has a heart and a pulse in every game.

What a frustrating start to the season, in terms of points hauls. Spurs have let me down in terms of points so far, but its not as though they're playing bad football. Watching the ManU game and here again at Liverpool, we've kept pace with the big boys, but failed in the execution.

I just hope the rest of the season is better.

In other news, Silva's not going to be playing again, and Big Sam is going for the Beeb's throat.

What could be funnier than the BBC reporting on Sam Allardyce threatening to sue the BBC?

Other Notes:

Arsenal 3-0 Sheffield United. Thierry has a hand in all three, but is he still a big-game bottler?

Reading 1-1 Manchester United. I said it at the beginning of the year, and I still believe it. Reading will stay up, Sheffield and Watford go back down.

Fulham 0-2 Chelsea. Two goals from Frank Lampard. How long has it been since we heard those words?

In Spain, Barca and Valencia draw a 1-1.

Champions League action today. A good day for England with Arsenal and Man U winning (the former looking a good deal better than the latter, if not for Benfica looking like utter sh*t). Real Madrid nets five, Celtic beats Copenhagen, et cetera et cetera.

Chelski v. Levski Sofia tomorrow afternoon on ESPN 2. The joy of watching Mourinho turn a 5-0 walkover into 2-0 drudgery.

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