2007/08 Soccer Thread - Euro Fever!

So, Barca won.

And This Is Genius

So we know Chelsea are good, right? Well, offing Everton in a thrilling fightback is pretty damn good. Great goal by Drogba, who is, in my opinion, the most in-form striker in Europe right now. I know it's a little silly, but the Shevchenko experiment is not working on London. Might he leave in January?

Arsenal draw 2-2 with Portsmouth and inadverantly provide 100 more reasons why they're not getting anywhere near the title this year.

Liverpool beat Charlton 3-0. but that's expected for just about anyone these days.

And West Ham got a great 1-0 win over Man U, slimming down Manchester's lead to just two points. Ze title race, she is on.

Here's a fun game though, which i'll try in a minte. If you could sign one player from every Premiership team, who would it be?

A question about your game. Are you trying to make a team or just someone whom you'd want on any team you'd have. Ie, ending up with 20 strikers and 0 goalies is fine?

I really wanted Man U to take the title from Chelsea, well ok not Man U but I just really didn't want to see Chelsea win it again this year and was even ready to root for Man U to see this done. I just can't seen it happening now though. Maybe if Man U can sign Hargreaves and he fits in perfectly they can stay above Chelsea. But if I were a betting man Id bet on Chelsea running away with the Premiership after the winter break.

And that video is genius.

There are no particular rules to the game, although i'd ask that people attempt to vary things a little bit.

I'll try to spread this around abit. If I were building an ideal Premiership club, these lads would be a helluva foundation.

GK: Jussi Jaaskeleinen (Bolton)
GK: Paddy Kenny (Sheffield)

D: Jaime Carragher (Liverpool)
D:Jay DeMerit (Watford)
D: John Terry (Chelsea)
D: Zat Knight (Fulham)
D: Sol Campbell (Portsmouth)

M: James Milner (Newcastle)
M: Morten Gamst Pederson (Blackburn)
M: Michael Carrick (Man U)
M: Gareth Barry (Aston Villa)
M: Joey Barton (Man City)
M: Stuart Downing (Middlesbrough)
M: Kevin Kilbane (Wigan)
M: Andy Reid (Charlton)

F: Thierry Henry (Arsenal)
F: Robbie Keane (Spurs)
F: Bobby Zamora (West Ham)
F: Kevin Doyle (Reading)
F: Andy Johnson (Everton)

I read the DeMerit article awhile back, but forgot to share it. That kid's got heart. If you haven't read it, I'd recommend it. The best part is I lived for a year about a block and a half from where that photo's taken by Tower Bridge.

Okay, i'm going to do BOTH of the games I suggested and never followed through on. Here's my list.

GK: Shay Given (Newcastle)
GK: Brad Friedel (Blackburn)

D: Zat Knight (Fulham)
D: Micah Richards (Man City)
D: Emanuel Pogatetz (Middlesbrough)
D: Matthew Taylor (Portsmouth)
D: Phil Jagielka (Sheffield United)
D: Jay DeMerit (Watford)
D: Anton Ferdinand (West Ham)

M: Gary Speed (Bolton) (Old, but still great).
M: Michael Essien (Chelsea)
M: Mikel Arteta (Everton)
M: Xabi Alonso (Liverpool)
M: Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)
M: Matthew Taylor (Portsmouth)

F: Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa)
F: Darren Bent (Charlton)
F: Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd) (He's a tit, but on his day...)
F: Seol Ki-Hyeon (Reading)
F: Dmitar Berbatov (Tottenham)
F: Henri Camara (Wigan)

And predictions for the weekend!

Fulham 1-1 West Ham
Arsenal 2-1 Blackburn
Aston Villa 0-3 Man Utd
Liverpool 3-0 Watford
Man City 0-1 Bolton
Middlesbrough 1-0 Charlton
Newcastle 1-2 Tottenham
Portsmouth 0-0 Sheffield United
Reading 2-2 Everton
Wigan 0-2 Chelsea

So, past boxing day and all, and things are beginning to take shape. A few notes...

I can't believe i'm saying this, but I think Jose Mourinho's job is on the line now. Chelsea has Real Madrid-caliber expectations, which is to say, anything short of the Champions League and the Premiership is a failure. Mourinho could get away with just the Champions League, but with the frailties Chelsea's been showing this season, they're not favorites. They've drawn Reading, Fulham (Double Yay!) and now Aston Villa. The Special One has some trouble.

Despite impressing absolutely nobody, Liverpool is 3rd, with Arsenal 4th and Bolton 5th. I think, of the three, Bolton is obviously the best story. Watching the Wanderers may be like stabbing yourself in the thigh with a knife sometimes, but they get results. As opposed to Arsenal, which if you watched their 1-0 capitulation to a Sheffield United side who had Phil Freaking Jagielka in net, absolutely cannot cope with any side that shows a good work ethic, some grit and graft and plays them rough and tough. I will say this about Arsenal, that is absolutely not the team of Tony Adams and Co. They may not be "Boring Boring Arsenal" anymore, but that atypically "English" backbone ain't there. In that sense, they miss Viera. Short of Giberto Silva, there is noone threatening in the midfield, and Rosicky and Hleb have never looked completely comfortable on the wings. Work needed.

Man U is, of course, for real, and everyone, including myself, who thought that Sir Alex might be over it will have to eat crow. Chelsea had it at two, now it's six, and Man U don't look like stopping anytime soon.

That win against Man U may have fooled some people, but I think we can safely tip three teams to go down. West Ham, Wigan and Charlton. Charlton especially.

The January Transfer window is open, and while I have no idea what's going to happen, I will say that I think the Argentinian experiment at West Ham will end this month. Tevez is trying, bless his heart, but Mascherano can't even get a game. Neither of them left Brazil for this. The deal stunk to high heaven to begin with, and it will take an absolute miracle for both of them to still be there in August of next year.

So, the FA Cup fallout...

I thought picking up Henrik Larson was a genius move by Sir Alex, and while scoring against Villa isn't the sign of a world-beater, they don't need him to score 30 goals, just score the ones they need to get three points, and I think he'll do that. As of current, Utd's got the title edge.

Chelsea have to add someone in January to have a shot at the title. I'm convinced. I also feel bad for Andriy Shevchenko, who seems a nice enough guy (as far as Soccer players go) and certainly cannot be casually dismissed as a crap player. He's got oodles of goals under his belt, but getting acclimated in a new league, in a new nation has obviously been hell for him, and getting benched hasn't helped his confidence. And this isn't a man used to having his confidence take this kind of a battering. I do hope he'll turn it around.

Arsenal knock out Liverpool, with Tomas Rosicky looking like a slightly-less mercurial Aleksandr Hleb. Both I think are good players, but the problem is that Arsenal's formations never worked with attacking midfielders quite like them, and neither make particularly skilled wingers.

On the video game front, I just bought myself a copy of Worldwide Soccer Manager 2007, and it's more fine Colombian crack being jammed into your veins. Every year they add just enough to make it indispensable. They've succeeded again as such. Bill Harris had a fantastic post on what makes WWSM/FM the best text-based game of any kind out there, and it's the breadth and depth of the game. No other sports game in the world gives you the opportunity to take some middling team from nowhere and make them into the biggest club in the world. To give you an example, it'd be like if MLB 2K6 allowed you to play as some Single-A short-season team, and work your way up to the Big Show. Just tons of fun.

Prederick wrote:

I thought picking up Henrik Larson was a genius move by Sir Alex.

I agree completely, and with Saha injured, it looks like we'll see Larsson up front against Villa with Rooney. They've only got him for ten weeks, so they might as well take advantage of it. Do you think Larsson will sign at the end of his loan?

Spurs drew at Cardiff, with neither team having a glut of chances. It wasn't a bad game, though. Maybe that's because I really enjoy the FA Cup. I'm a perennial fan of the underdog. Not rooting for Cardiff over Tottenham, but look at Forest's draw against Chelsea, or Southend/Barnsley v Spurs. What a great opportunity for a League side, and it brings football back into the raw for somebody like Chelsea. Toss 'em into the mud and rain and grit of a tiny, packed stand at full voice, and see if they perform as well as they do in the comfort of the Trafford, Emirates, or the Bridge. Gut wrenching stuff, but as visceral as it gets.

Speaking of Forest v. Chelsea, Bennet thinks they can win, based on his PS experiences.

Predders wrote:

On the video game front, I just bought myself a copy of Worldwide Soccer Manager 2007, and it's more fine Colombian crack being jammed into your veins.

Sounds interesting. I haven't messed at all with the Manager games. Are they really worth it?

I just finished FIFA World Cup on Professional, winning legitimately with the Irish. Didn't play any matches over, and took the results as they came. I started the process with England, Sweden, Italy, Turkey, Ireland, the Czechs and Scotland. Played through all the qualifying matches on 2-minute halfs, then moved up to four minute for the World Cup group stage, then eight minute halves for the knockouts. Loads of fun.

Only England, Sweden, Ireland and Italy made it to the Final 16. The English got beat by Norway, and the Italians by France, and the stupid game seeded Sweden and Ireland together in the Quarter Finals. Morocco went down in the semis and the Final was a 4-1 win over Paraguay, of all countries.

I do not think they will sign Larsson. What I do think will happen, is that Henrik will extend his Loan until the end of the season. It's genius as a Loan, paying for a full-on transfer? Dumb.

The FM series is really going to be hit or miss, but if it hits, roughly 100 hours of your life may utterly dissapear. Or more. You know how many hours i've logged in WWSM 2005 according to XFire? 400. And I don't regret a freaking minute of it.

They're text-based sims at their core. They're deeper and more engaging on every level than any other sports game on the market, but if you can't stomach text-based games, you'll hate it. However, if you've ever played one and enjoyed it, you really must give FM a shot. And it's $29.99 at Amazon right now. I've been losing my life to this thing since CM 01-02, and it's hard for me to generalize, but i've had more varied experiences in this game than with almost anything. Like, Oblivion varied. Feel free to ask or PM me any extra questions though.

EDIT: Liverpool 3 - 6 Arsenal as Baptista hits four. Damn.

Looks like Becks is headed to the ass-end of the world.

The LA Galaxy.

Personally, I think its great for the American game, but come on. LA? With Landon? I dunno. I guess there must be pressure from the missus.

Haakon7 wrote:

Looks like Becks is headed to the ass-end of the world.

The LA Galaxy.

Personally, I think its great for the American game, but come on. LA? With Landon? I dunno. I guess there must be pressure from the missus.

ESPN and the Guardian have good articles about this, and what it means to American soccer and what it means for Mr. Beckham.

He could've returned to England. But that would've meant facing Man U (which he didn't want to do) and living somewhere unfashionable (which would clash with him being Brand Beckham). So that's out. Italy was out, since noone sane would've given a increasingly slow soon-to-be 32-year old with a decreasing-in-dimension game, and noone in Spain wanted him.

So the U.S.A. it is, and it's a mixed bag. This isn't a coup from a Soccer perspective. We're getting a dead-ball specialist who excels at crosses and the like, but isn't going to score 30 in a season. He's no Ronaldinho (hell, he's no Djourkaeff), and he's not getting better from here on out. But from a marketing perspective, it's an absolute coup. People will go to see LA play, because he's the only name in Soccer most Americans have ever heard about. He's the "It-Boy".

LA was the only choice. It's the only place that meets the demands of the celebrity lifestyle he lives. If he wanted to still be the best footballer possible, he would've returned to England, so in that sense, this is really a bit of career capitulation from him. He's admitting that he's not the best, and is more interested with image than on-the-field-play.

Normally, that'd be a bad thing, but David will give 100% for the Galaxy, he'll play, and he'll draw crowds. Lots and lots of girls will line up to get his autograph. It's a boost for the league, indeed, but it doesn't solve all the problems. Is he going to improve the game? No. Not even close. Will he gets some more much-needed butts in seats? Yes.

A 5-year, $250 million contract? Is that correct?

MaxShrek wrote:

A 5-year, $250 million contract? Is that correct?

It is. That's $25,000,000.00 dollars/year if its an averaged payout.

Does anybody really know that the MLS is out there? That's an insane amount of cash!

The Wiki article has it at $3 million more than A-Rod's 10-year contract, so US$255 mil.

Here's the Beeb Article.

Actually, Pred, I think he might be more of a force than you'd think on the pitch. The pace of the game here is exponentially slower than in the Premiership and La Liga, and its not like we play incisive, counter-attacking football here. His ball control and crossing ability are going to help LA tremendously on the attack. I'm sure that entered into his calculations. Barring injury, I wager he plays for the full five years.

I'm excited about this, but I can't help thinking about the NASL. Spawning a new slogan, perhaps? 'The MLS: Where good footballers go to die.'

I'm not convinced, personally. He's not the kind of player who is the fulcrum of an attack, he never has been. I mean, he's good, but just not that good, I think.

And that's just a ludicrous contract, really.

It looks like the contract isn't all the LA Galaxy's money. Its just that he gets the pay from his media contracts and a share in the club.

I'm calling it. This is officially a crisis at Chelsea.

A 2-0 loss at Anfield that featured Mourinho refusing to even shake Shevchenko's hand at the end of the game leaves Chelsea six points back, and assuredly wobbling. There are a few assumptions we can make here.

One. Peter Kenyon's full of it. At this rate, the only way Chelsea's season is going to have a good ending is if they win the Champions League, and like this, I wouldn't favor it.

Two. Mourinho is leaving. Short of a miracle title win, I can't see him staying.

Three. I'm not ready to call Sheva a failure yet, but the meter's reading "EXTREME DISSAPOINTMENT" right now. I know it takes a while to acclimatize, and his confidence must surely be shot, but, unless he sticks it out and has a great year next campaign, he may have to leave in the summer.

Arsenal and Manchester United provided the thrills, with the Gunners stealing a 2-1 win over Man U at the death thanks to Mr. Henry's late header. The result is bad for ManU, obviously, who miss the chance to go nine clear, and good for Arsenal, who can hang on to some sliver of a hope of a title race. With Liverpool winning, does it mean the Reds are in contention? At 11 points back, probably not, unless ManU pull a Newcastle.

I'd just like to repeat how right I am when I say Reading are staying up.

And Middlesbrough got probably their best result of the season, beating Bolton 5-1.

Video links now. Eh? Eh? You like?


Against Wycombe though. So what, that counts as... 1/2 of a goal?

No... See, Pred, he scored two, so that counts as one, right? Or maybe, if he scores two, but is penalized some fraction for it being against Wycombe, it works out to 1.346473 goals?

Maybe there will be more, but let's just say I won't be putting him at the front of my fantasy team. Though, come to think of it, I put van Persie up there and he broke bones in his foot after one week, so maybe I'm controlling some kind of voodoo doll?

And yes, the video links rock.

FA Cup action at the weekend. Bolton drag Arsenal into a 1-1 draw. I mean, on the one hand, I really cant' hate Bolton for doing what works, but dear god, I refuse to watch them play. It's painful.

Continentally, here's a Fantastic Article from Phil Ball on Real Sociedad's impending relegation.

Oh, and Michel Platini is the new head of UEFA, and Gooch may be heading for the 'Toon. I'm conflicted about this.

A good question for this week. There's an interesting article about the gulf in class in the Premiership between the "Big Four" (Liverpool, Arsenal, ManU and Chelsea) and everyone else. Here's the question i'm raising. If you could build your own personal team out of the best of the other 16 Premiership clubs, do you think they'd have any shot of competing with the big four?

I think no.

I'll get to today's games on Monday, there's only one talking point right now.

Read For Yourself

A large part of the problem is, and has been, for Italy, the Ultras. Yes, sure they may bring some fantastic atmosphere to the game in terms of cheers, banners, flags, songs, and so on, and so on. The downside is, they also bring violence and death to a f*cking game.

Italy has had tons of events like this, unfortunate deaths (Second one in two weeks, I think), Racism, etc, and the Italian FA has always talked tough, then done nothing of any import. At some point, maybe now, they'll realize that they've got to take this as a serious threat. Either they actually crackdown, or the Italy resigns itself to the notion of some unfortunate soul dying every 2-3 years.


Quickie reminder...

It's $3.95 a month for a subscription to the UEFA.com On Demand Video. $29.95 for a year subscription. All in all, it's pretty cheap (I think) and is great to keep up with the week-to-week goings on of the Champions League. (Not the Prem or anything, mind)

QUICK RANT: If the G-14 weren't so goddamn greedy and demanding their own television deals, clubs could make an obscene amount of money with a collective TV agreement (NFL-style) and could much easier offer streaming views of each week's games. Instead, we get this "Club TV" BS. Like i'm going to pay some obscene amount of money (40 pounds at ManUtd.com) just to see one team's highlights package. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Anyway, UEFA.com video. Fast, quick, cheap, easy, Internet soccer that's not grainy 60-second videos in Japanese on YouTube.


England aren't impressive against Spain. To the tune of a 1-0 loss to a disinterested Spain side.

U-S-A! U-S-A!

And Mexico says... WAAAAAHHH

Frank Lampard to Barca Again?

Arsenal and Colorado?

Refitting Stadia In Italy

And Cristiano Ronaldo's future is very much in question, as he is playing the "Will He-Won't He Game" in regards to a move to Spain. He might end up at Barca, while supposedly, Ronaldinho is headed to AC Milan in the summer.

While I don't know about "The Winker" captaining ANY nation, he sure did do well against Brazil.


Bolton 2-1 Fulham. Interesting question to ask about Fulham, Chris Coleman has certainly done well in keeping a side constantly tipped for relegation out of the mire, but will the club at some point get more ambitious and can him? I hope not.

Arsenal 2-1 Wigan. See Mr. Henry acting a bit of a prat. Not the worst thing of the weekend, should we have reason to believe that Joey Barton's stamp on Pedro Mendes was intentional.

Newcastle 2-1 Liverpool. Great game from Gooch.

ManU 2-0 Charlton. Can Charlton be saved? Maybe.

West Ham is going DOWN. A 1-0 loss. At home. To Watford. Going down.

Reading 2-1 Aston Villa. Y'know, while it's really nice that Reading's actually chasing a European place, I feel like reminding everyone that West Ham did the same thing last year.

Chelsea 3-0 M'Boro. ManU's lead is still six.

See the wonder of Calcio in Italy with no fans present!

Here as well.

Barca wins thanks to two more from Ronaldinho.

And did I mention that Tom Hicks and George Gillett took over Liverpool? One of the "lost in translation" moments of this seems to be over one word. "Franchise", which means something considerably less nice there than it does here. An Article on the takeover, although I think there'd be a lot less bleating if it wasn't for the fact that Gillett and Hicks weren't Americans.

I don't even care about the FA Cup right now, so here's something to horrify you.

Jesus. Christ.


It was funny as a joke. Now i'm just scared.

Thank god, the Champions League is back this week. Featuring....

Matchday 7 - Tuesday, 20 February 2007
Celtic - Milan
PSV - Arsenal
Lille - Man. United
Real Madrid - Bayern

Matchday 7 - Wednesday, 21 February 2007
Roma - Lyon
Barcelona - Liverpool
Porto - Chelsea
Internazionale - Valencia

It's really an odd CL season. The in-form sides are Inter and ManU, and to a lesser extent, Roma and Arsenal. You've got a rapidly aging Milan side with little punch up front, a Real Madrid team in near-crisis (again, as a reminder, at Real Madrid, "crisis" means 3rd place and still in the Champions League) playing a Bayern Munich team that, on current form, may not even make the CL next season. Then there's a Lyon team that just went through an early-season drop in form, a Barcelona team experiencing infighting between its two best players and just lost 2-0 to Valencia, a Liverpool team that should've been going into this game strong until Craig Bellamy decided to try out his Sand Wedge on John Arne Riise, a Chelsea team who could do just about anything at this point (Crash out or win it all) and a Valencia side who could be a sleeper hit, if they stay healthy, which they haven't been able to so far.

Honest and true, you'd be better off playing Russian Roulette with a Gatling Gun than trying to figure out the CL this year.

That's the devil, Pred. I'm surprised you didn't notice. And its in Israel? How did that get to Israel?

I am actually looking forward to the FA Cup quarters in March. After that 4-0 drubbing of Fulham, if Tottenham decide to show up, Spurs v Chelsea should be a great game.
Goals for your edification. Berbatov's lob was cheeky, and Keano's second volley was fantastic. (Watch out! Crazy foreign commentary!)

The CL is definitely having a topsy-turvy year. I'm glad to see Roma performing, but Lyon will be a tough match.

I'm finding it hard to get motivated about football at the moment, though. Either its too much going on, or I'm burnt out from the emotional roller-coaster that was the NFL season. Maybe by the time the baseball season starts up I'll be in a better mood.

The week, in a nutshell.

Liverpool beat Barca 2-1 as Bellamy celebrates with a allusion to beating John Arne Riise with a golf club.

ManU beat Lille on a quickly taken freekick that has the Frenchies... well, there's lots of caterwauling going on. Unsporting? Sure. But legal.

Chelsea draw with Porto.

Arsenal blow it at PSV.

Most of the rest of the other CL games sucked, save for Real Madrid - Bayern Munich (3-2) and Internazionale - Valencia (2-2).

Then the weekend came. ManU beat Fulham to extend their lead to 9 points. Tottenham remembered how to score in a 4-0 thrashing of Bolton. West Ham just about doomed themselves to the drop, losing 4-0 at Charlton. Liverpool smacked around Sheffield United 4-0 (lots of goals, eh?) and some other teams I don't care about played.

Oh, and the Carling Cup Final. Two goals from Le Drog allow Chelsea to win 2-1. There was a great goal from Walcott, John Terry getting kicked in the head by Abou Diaby (KO'ed. Quite scary actually), and a end-of-match "melee" that looks totally, completely, utterly pathetic compared to the fracas between Buffalo and Ottawa last week.

Oh, and Ronaldinho's fat now, apparently.


On the left, 2003, on the right, now.