Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lampard arrives in Italy to finalize Inter move

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard has arrived in Italy to finalize a move to Inter Milan, Italian media reported on Saturday.

Lampard will join Inter

The England midfielder is understood to have agreed a four-year contract with the Nerazzurri, Calcio Italia said.

Inter will reportedly pay $15 million for Chelsea to lure Lampard to the Giuseppe Meazza.

Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho, who took over at Inter following the sacking of Roberto Mancini, has made no secret of his desire to re-unite with Lampard.

He is also believed to be tracking Deco and Didier Drogba, who played under his guidance at Barcelona and Chelsea respectively.

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Abou-Treika Wants Speedy Recovery for Fans Sake

Injury-prone Mohamed Abou-Treika is eager to recover in time for Ahli's crunch meeting against Zamalek for the sake of the Egyptian champions’ faithful.

Abo Trika

Ahli fans will be desperate to see their favorite man step onto the pitch when the Red Devils host arch-rivals Zamalek in the Champions League group stage next month.

Their hopes are reasonable, definitely.

Those kinds of matches always prove to be a special occasion for the classy playmaker.

Against Zamalek in particular, Abou-Treika makes the difference through his dazzling skills, neat passes and accurate shots.

"I will be very sad if I fail to participate in Zamalek match because Ahli fans are not used to missing my presence in season curtain-raisers," Abou-Treika said.

"Hopefully, I will be fully fit come the anticipated clash. It will be then up to the technical staff to decide whether to field me," he told Ahli official website.

The 29-year-old notched eight goals against Zamalek, an impressive record for a player who has arrived at Ahli just four years ago.

Abou-Treika, who is suffering from a recurring knee problem, was apparently frustrated with Manuel Jose’s insistence to prevent him from training while not fully fit.

Nevertheless, the former Tersana man showed nothing but gratitude to the Portuguese coach.

"I tried several times to convince Jose to let me participate in training. My efforts were to no avail."

"Jose kept on telling me that any risk could lead to dire consequences. He insisted that my football career is much more important than playing any match.

"I was unhappy to be denied the chance to train, but at the same time I appreciated Jose’s caring about me. To be honest, he always does the same things with all players."

Important Encounter

Abou Treika

Abou-Treika believes a win over Zamalek in the upcoming Champions League encounter would bring Ahli huge benefits.

"A win over Zamalek in the group stage opener will help us approach the second game against ASEC Mimosas, which is also a very tough one, in the best possible way."

"It will also boost the players’ morale before we face Zamalek once again in the Egyptian Super Cup few days after the African clash."

Abou-Treika insists that beating Zamalek is never easy despite Ahli’s superiority over the White Castle in recent seasons.

"Zamalek are a prestigious team, we have to fully respect them," he commented.

"They strengthened their squad after signing some players with great quality. Zamalek’s new technical staff will be also keen to prove their worth.

"Our opponents are very motivated to win silverware, so we shouldn’t expect an easy ride."

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Does Europe Need Better Scouting?

I wonder how football pundits in Europe have just discovered that there is someone called Andrei Arshavin worth watching in Russia.

Andrei Arshavin

A scout is someone responsible for detecting hidden talents all over the world for the intention of selecting a suitable player for his respective club.

But when those talents become visible to everyone, the scout's role simply erodes.

Arshavin has been magnificent for club and country throughout the past couple of years, but he burst onto the scene only after starring in two EURO 2008 games.

Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger admitted he would have wanted to sign the Russian sensation if he was 21 or 22 years old.

The French manager went on to explain why Arshavin and Co. are only being noticed now.

"Mainly I would say that you discovered Russian players only at this tournament because you see them playing less. All the others you know."

Arshavin was named Russian Footballer of the Year in 2006, after which he sparkled for Zenit, leading them to a sensational UEFA Cup triumph last season.

The quality of the player is the fact that matters, not where he plays.
So for a genuine football follower, the dexterous striker is no emerging talent.

"It's not only me. There are many good players in my country, but people are now discovering us," said Arshavin.

The same applies to Roman Pavlyuchenko, who scored twice against England in the qualifiers, but was only discerned when goals started to flow in Austria and Switzerland.

Another EURO 2008 revelation is Holland midfielder Orlando Engelaar, who is now on the wishlist of clubs in the Premiership and the Bundesliga.

However, Engelaar is 28, he was not that impressive for the Oranje in the EURO finals, but caught attention because he played regularly.

There is no question that top competitions should introduce new faces to the world of football every now and then, but is also unfair to those who cannot get an opportunity to shine.

The 1996 competition in England was followed by an exodus of home-based Czech Republic players to top European leagues.

But what would have happened if the team failed to the EURO finals? Does that mean that the likes of Pavel Nedved, Karel Poborsky, Vladimir Smicer and others would have remained in anonymous?

A decent footballer does not have to wait so long to bare the fruits of his efforts and get a better move.

Or else UEFA should be considering the prospect of holding the competition every two years (against popular demand), so that more hidden talents could be unlocked.

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Germany v Spain preview

Glory is within touching distance for Germany and Spain as the duo contest the Euro 2008 final on Sunday evening at the Ernst-Happel Stadion in Vienna.

Euro2008 Trophy

The European Championship showpiece promises to be an absorbing encounter with Germany's undisputed ability to dig deep when called upon set to clash against Spain's free-flowing panache.

Joachim Low's side have stuttered at times in Austria and Switzerland, emerging as runners-up in Group B following their setback against Croatia.

They demonstrated their attacking qualities with gusto to down Portugal in the quarter-finals but were forced to rely on a late, late goal to advance past a spirited Turkey.

No-nonsense

The fitness of Frings and absence of Villa could be the key to Sunday's final

Spain, meanwhile, under the guidance of no-nonsense head coach Luis Aragones, all-but cruised through Group D before disposing of world champions Italy on penalties in the last-eight.

Russia promised to offer a sterner test, but the Spaniards proved too strong, brushing their opponents aside with a 3-0 triumph.

It will be Spain's first major final appearance since they were beaten by host nation France in the 1984 European Championship.

In the intervening period, Germany have featured in five finals, lifting the World Cup in 1990 and the European crown in 1996.

Aragones - who is set to step down as Spain boss after the final - will be desperate to finish on the most elevated of highs by ending the country's 44-year wait for international success.

However, he will have to make do without star striker David Villa, who is the current top scorer at Euro 2008 with four goals, after the Valencia forward suffered a small rupture in his right leg muscle against the Russians.

Villa out

Villa Out

Villa's absence paves the way for Cesc Fabregas, with the Arsenal schemer poised to make his second start of the tournament.

Fabregas, who netted the winning penalty against the Azzurri, has been in inspired form from the substitutes' bench at Euro 2008, and is likely to play off lone striker Fernando Torres as part of a five-man midfield.

Andres Iniesta and David Silva are expected to continue to operate on the wings, while Xavi will be partnered by enforcer Marcos Senna.

Carles Puyol and Carlos Marchena are set to marshal Spain's central defence in front of goalkeeper Iker Casillas with Sergio Ramos and Joan Capdevila in respective right and left-back roles.

For Germany, Low is expected to stand by his system rethink, with the disappointing Mario Gomez unlikely to be recalled to the starting XI after he was dropped following the group stages.

Clinical frontman Miroslav Klose is poised to lead the line with Chelsea's Michael Ballack to provide support from deep.

Lukas Podolski, who has netted three goals at this summer's finals, and Bastian Schweinsteiger will then occupy the flanks.

Two from three

Lehman vs Casillas

In the centre, Low must choose two from Torsten Frings, Simon Rolfes and Thomas Hitzlsperger as his side's holding men.

The Germany head coach will be looking for an improvement from defensive pairing Christoph Metzelder and Per Mertesacker after previously shaky displays from the duo.

Stuttgart-bound Jens Lehmann will start in goal, while semi-final saviour Philipp Lahm and right-back Arne Friedrich will complete the back-line.

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Beckham is collecting markers for a change..

After having spent all his football playing life trying to get away from markers here is Becks trying to collect them for a change.For a few dollars more...


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Iraq crashes out of the World Cup qualifiers

In the midst of Euro fever, there was sad news for the millions of Iraqi fans as their national team crashed out of World Cup qualifying contention beaten by Qatar.

A draw would have sufficed to get them to the final round of qualifiying.

For the Iraqis, their national team was one of the few unifying forces that brought the various warring sects together, laying down their differences to answer the call of their common passion.

Just ten days ago, the team was flying high as they eliminated China from the race through a 2-1 win through goals by Nashat Akram and Emad Ridha. A few weeks earlier, the Iraqis had defeated the Socceroos, arguably the toughest team in Asia, 1-0 through a sizzling free kick by Emad Mohammad.

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Viva Espania - Spaniards singing in the rain..

Guus Hiddink couldn't get his Russian Ballet started last night and it was Flamenco all the way.Where was Andrei Arshavin ? He changed superhero identities last night.For the last couple of games he was the kind of superhero who was leaping over tall defenders and goalkeepers in a single bound.Yesterday he was the kind of superhero who runs around being invisible.It was the reign of Spain in the rain.Goal video below.


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Spain outclass Russia to reach EURO final

Spain moved a step closer to losing their underachiever tag after claiming a much-deserved 3-0 victory over dark horses Russia to reach EURO 2008 final.

Three second-half goals from Xavi Hernandez, substitute Daniel Guiza and David Silva condemned Russia to a heavy defeat.

Spain, whose only major triumph is winning the European Cup in 1964, will face three-time European champions Germany in the finale on Sunday.

Chances were few and far between in a dull first-half as both sides adopted a cautious approach.

Sergio Ramos was Spain's liveliest performer, beating Yuri Zhirkov on several one-on-ones.

However, his selfishness denied him from making a notable impact as he opted to shoot goalwards whenever he had a chance to whip in crosses.

Andrei Arshavin, Russia's inspirational player, was kept at bay by Spain's solid defenders.

Russia's sole chance in the first half came in the 31st minute when Spain's in-form keeper Iker Casillas tipped away Roman Pavlyuchenko's top corner-bound curler.

Spain were dealt a major blow when their top scorer, David Villa, sustained an injury. He made way for Cesc Fabregas.

Spanish forward Fernando Torres talks to His team mate David Villa after Villa suffered an injury during the Euro 2008

Spain's Domination

Spain were by far the better side in the second half, outplaying Russia in every aspect of the game.

They deservedly went ahead in the 50th minute when Andres Iniesta's attempted shot came across the box and found Xavi, who converted it between the legs of Igor Akinfeev.

Spanish midfielder Xavi Hernandez celebrates after scoring

Luis Aragones opted to take off the below-par Fernando Torres, who wasted several clear-cut chances.

He introduced Primera Liga top scorer Daniel Guiza, who scored Spain's winner against Greece in the group stage.

Guiza repaid his coach's faith in the 73rd minute when he chested Fabregas' neat chip before calmly knocking the ball over Akinfeev and into the net.

Spanish forward Daniel Guiza taps the ball past Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev

Impressive winger Silva completed the rout seven minutes from time after he controlled Fabregas cross inside the area before firing home with aplomb.

Spanish forward Daniel Guiza celebrates after scoring Spain's second goal during the Euro 2008

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Russia v Spain Preview

Russia and Spain meet for the second time at Euro 2008 with the stakes raised substantially and a place in the final against Germany just 90 minutes away.


Arshavin vs Villa

The opening match in Group D saw the two go head-to-head, with Luis Aragones' men romping to a 4-1 victory thanks to David Villa's superb hat-trick.

But Russia are a very different proposition from that clash just 16 days ago, most notably because of the mesmeric displays of playmaker Andrei Arshavin.

The Zenit St Petersburg ace was suspended for the opening two fixtures of the tournament, but his return has revitalised Russia and caused a clamour for his services among Europe's leading clubs.

Arshavin has even earned comparisons with the legendary Pele and Michel Platini for the manner in which he has orchestrated victories over Sweden and Holland to reach the last four of the tournament.

Wily coach Guus Hiddink has bolstered his own reputation with Russia's progress, but has twice seen his teams fall at the semi-final hurdle on the international stage.

The Dutchman was at the helm of his home country as they were beaten by Brazil on penalties in the 1998 World Cup, before losing out to Germany at the same stage in 2002 during his stint with South Korea.


Duo suspended

Hiddink

Hiddink is missing two players for the game in Vienna as defender Denis Kolodin and attacking midfielder Dmitri Torbinski will not feature after receiving their second yellow cards of the tournament in the win over the Dutch.

Spain laid to rest two hoodoos of their own with their quarter-final victory against Italy, their first against the Azzurri in 88 years in competitive action, with the shoot-out triumph ending a series of five defeats in the last eight of international tournaments.

Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas will be hoping for a starting berth after coming off the bench to score the winning penalty against Italy, but Aragones may well stick with Xavi.

In-demand Valencia striker Villa and Liverpool ace Fernando Torres will again be handed the task of leading Spain's attack, but Aragones also expects them to defend from the front.

He said: "I want to see them pressing the central defenders, not just shadowing them. I want proper, high-energy pressing and I want them to rob the ball from Russia's defenders as early as possible."

Villa leads the Euro 2008 goalscoring charts with four to his name, but Russia's Roman Pavlyuchenko is just one adrift on three, as is Germany striker Lukas Podolski.

Any players who have already been booked in the tournament go into the semi-final safe in the knowledge that another yellow card will not rule them out of the final, after Uefa changed the rules to expunge previous cautions from the record.

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Germany vs Turkey Full Match Highlights

The Turkish march has ended.They scored an equaliser 4 minutes from the end and then finally ran out of miracles.Germany beat them at their own game - Philipp Lahm scoring a last gasp winner in the 90th or so minute to take the game 3 -2.

1st Half


2nd Half

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Germany 3-2 Turkey - who will join them in the final?

Germany denied Turkey the chance to be dubbed the comeback kings once again as they emerged winners from Wednesday's EURO 2008 semi-final.


who will join them in the final?

Turkey lived up to their reputation of having a never-say-die attitude when Semih Senturk made it 2-2 against Germany with four minutes to go.

But Philipp Lahm ensured the three-time European champions won't suffer an embarrassing exit when he netted the invaluable winner in stoppage time.

Despite having a heavily depleted squad, Turkey took the initiative through Ugur Boral midway through the first half.

Bastian Schweinsteiger equalized for Germany shortly after and Miroslav Klose put them ahead in the 79th minute.

Germany survived a late Turkey comeback, a usual one, to reach the final, where they will meet the winner's of Thursday's semi-final between Spain and Russia.

Surprising Start


Kazim

Against all expectations, Turkey dominated the early stages of the game and threatened Jens Lehmann on several occasions.

After 12 minutes, Colin Kazim-Richards rattled the crossbar with a thunderous right-footed shot after being set up by Ayhan Akman's low cross from the right.

Turkey's numerous raids towards goal were orchestrated by lively midfielder Hamit Altintop.

Fatih Terim's men deservedly went ahead in the 22nd minute to stun the Germans.

Kazim-Richard's half-volley from a right-wing cross struck the bar and fell to Boral, whose close-range shot went through Lehmann's legs and into the net.

Turkey laid siege to Germany's area, but the attacking approach led to their defense being exposed.

Schweinsteiger brought Germany level in the 26th minute after rounding off a swift counter attack, which involved the in-form Lukas Podolski.

Podolski darted down the left flank before providing a low cross to Schweinsteiger, who neatly flicked the ball home with the outside of his right foot.


Thrilling Half


Lahm Scored superb Goal

Dreadful errors from both keepers were the highlight of a thrilling second half.

Klose put Germany in front in the 79th minute when he took advantage of a mis-timed jump from Turkey keeper Rustu Recber to head home Lahm's in-swinging cross.

Turkey never gave up, an attitude that has become a trait of their players throughout the hugely exciting tournament.

Senturk, who rescued Turkey on a couple of occasions before, grabbed the equalizer four minutes from time.

Impressive full-back Sabri Sarioglu got the better of Lahm on the right before crossing to Senturk, who got ahead of Lehmann at the near post to slot home.

Lahm atoned for his mistake in a superb fashion.

In stoppage time, he exchanged passes with Thomas Hitzlsperger and burst into the area before firing into the roof of the net to send the Germans into ecstasy.

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Barcelona Make Official Arshavin Move

Barcelona have made an official approach to Zenit St Petersburg about signing Andrei Arshavin after the player made an appeal for the Catalan club to sign.


Arshavin

The bid was confirmed by an official from the Russian club and could see the Blaugrana jump to the front of the queue in the race for the highly-rated forward's signature.

Arshavin stated publicly that he has always been a Barça fan and that if he were to leave Zenit then his preferred destination would be Camp Nou.

Arsenal are also said to be interested, but Barcelona have now made their move and approached the player's club directly with an opening gambit, the clubs sporting director revealed.

"Barcelona has made a formal proposal to Zenit for the purchase of Arshavin," Konstantin Sarsaniya told Sovietski Sport. "We will only talk about this once Andrei returns to Zenit."

According to reports in Spain, the 27-year-old had already been brought to Barça's attention in conversations between Zenit bos Dick Advocaat and Frank Rijkaard's assistant Johan Neeskens.

The recommendation was passed on to the board and after receiving very favourable scouting reports, the Blaugrana have made their move with a bid.

Throughout the summer, the Catalan media have claimed that Pep Guardiola would only secure one more signing with a forward joining the club, but that was expected to be a lofty striker.

Emmanuel Adebayor has been strongly linked while Dimitar Berbatov has also been mentioned and Barcelona may still pursue either of them to play alongside Arshavin and Leo Messi.

There is a referendum on the current board on July 6 where fans will vote to see if Joan Laporta and his regime should stay in place and if they choose to remove him then all transfer activity at Barça will cease until at least September.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Inter On Verge Of Signing Quaresma

Inter Milan are on the verge of signing Porto winger Ricardo Quaresma for €31m, according to Portuguese newspaper A Bola.

 Porto winger Ricardo Quaresma

The Nerazzurri have yet to make a big-name signing this summer, however A Bola says that they are just days, if not hours, away from completing the capture of Quaresma.

The Italian champions have been heavily associated with a move for the 24-year-old, and despite late interest from Juventus, they are on the brink of announcing a €31m deal.

Inter have been looking for some more technically gifted players in the final third of the field, as new coach Jose Mourinho aims to win the club their first Champions League since 1965.

Quaresma began his career at Sporting Lisbon before enduring a miserable season at Barcelona in 2003/04.

He then moved to Porto where his career really took off again. He has won 23 caps for the Portugal national team, scoring three goals, although he was somewhat disappointing during Euro 2008.

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EURO 2008 Preview: Germany vs. Turkey

European powerhouses Germany face a wretched Turkey side in the semi-finals of EURO 2008 in Basel.

Germany KitTurkey Kit

Buoyant by their impressive win over Portugal in the quarters, a full-strength Germany team are considered firm favorites for the St. Jakob Park clash.

Whilst the Turkish squad is plagued by injures and suspensions, their relentless coach Fatih Terim is hopeful the team can carry on their gutsy displays.


Head-to-head:

Germany win: 11
Turkey win: 3
Draw: 3


Germany

"Maybe ten to 15 years ago they wouldn't have been capable of coming back in three consecutive matches but now they can do that," said Joachim Loew.

Germany team

"They have always had talented players but when they were behind their heads tended to go down. They have learned never to give up.

"We had a setback against Croatia but have responded very well since and we have no worries about injured players. We are confident in our strengths."

Team News: The Germans have no injury concerns as Thorsten Frings should retain his place in midfield after missing the Portugal game with a broken rib.

Probable Line-up: Lehmann- Friedrich, Lahm, Metzelder, Mertesacker- Frings, Ballack, Hitzlsperger, Schweinsteiger- Podolski, Klose.

Turkey

"If you asked the eliminated coaches if they would be in my place with the injured and suspended players, or watching the semi-final from home, I suppose they would still like to be here," said Terim.

Turkey team

"We have courage and believe in our chances. We respect Germany but we are not afraid of them, just as we've not been afraid of any other opponent."

Team News: Terim implied that he might use reserve goalkeeper Tolga Zengin as an outfield player, due to his long list of casualties.

First-choice keeper Volkan Demirel, center-half Emre Asik and influential midfielders Arda Turan and Sanli Tuncay are suspended, while Mehmet Aurelio returns.

Joint-top scorer Nihat Kahveci and full-back Emre Gungor are also definite absentees due to injuries.

Captain Emre Belozoglu and defender Servet Cetin are major doubts, while Tumer Metin is facing a fitness battle.

Probable Line-up: Rustu- Balta, Zan, Altintop, Sabri- Topal, Aurelio, Kazim, Gokdeniz, Mevlut- Semih.

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African team can reach World Cup final

Players like Samuel Eto''o, Didier Drogba and Michael Essien could steer an African team to the World Cup final when the event is staged there for the first time in 2010, organisers said on Tuesday.

African triple

Danny Jordaan, head of hosts South Africa''s organising committee, also said it was important for the World Cup to be an African celebration.

"African players like Eto''o, Drogba and Essien are now among the best players in the top leagues in the world," he told a news conference on the fringe of the Euro 2008 tournament.

"African teams will be able to compete in 2010. By 2010, African teams will have the correct level of support to be major contenders.

"That shows the progress African football has made over the last five years."

Cameroon''s Eto''o, Drogba of Ivory Coast and Ghana''s Essien have become key figures at top European clubs. Eto''o helped Barcelona win the 2006 Champions League, while Drogba and Essien have enjoyed trophy success in England with Chelsea.

No African team has gone beyond the quarter-finals of any World Cup to date. A last eight place was achieved by Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002.

"We want to see an African team in the final for the first time," Jordaan said, adding there were a number of nations who had shown they could do well in the finals, including Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria.

AFRICAN SOIL

"There is no reason that an African team cannot reach the final on African soil," he said.

Jordaan did not mention the hosts themselves as potential finalists. South Africa failed to qualify for the World Cup finals in Germany in 2006 though are sure of a place in 2010 as host nation.

But he said it was important that South Africa, who made a group stage exit at the African Nations Cup in January, did well at the tournament.

The enormous street celebrations when France won the 1998 final in Paris and when South Korea reached the semi-finals in 2002 showed how home team success can generate a great tournament atmosphere, he said.

Jordaan promised that the creation of fanzones and public viewing areas would create an unrivalled atmosphere of celebration.

"Football in Africa can create a truly wonderful celebration," he said

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Chelsea offer €25m for Arshavin

Chelsea tabled a €25M bid to sign Russia in-form forward Andrei Arshavin from Zenit St Petersburg, claimed reports in the English press.

andrei arshavin

The Daily Star revealed on Tuesday that Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich talked with Zenit bosses and made an official offer to sign the 27-year old player.

Arshavin produced a magnificent display at EURO 2008 so far, leading Russia to the semi-finals after beating hot favorites Holland 3-1.

He missed his country's first couple of games due to suspension but then played a key role in Russia's precious victories over Sweden and Holland.

The Russians will face Spain in the semi-final on Thursday.

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Sneijder rules out United talks

Wesley Sneijder has refuted claims that he is joining Manchester United from Real Madrid, stressing that he is happy at Santiago Bernabeu.

Sneijder

The Holland midfielder was involved in a part-exchange deal, including Real target Cristiano Ronaldo, who is eager to join the Spanish titans.

"I'd like to comment briefly on the reports and rumors that I might be going to Manchester United as part of some kind of exchange deal," Sneijder was quoted by personal website Sneijderofficial.com.

"As I've said already, when I left Ajax, all I wanted was to go to Real Madrid. They are the best club in the world.

"And now that I'm here, all I want is to win as many trophies as I can with them and wear the white shirt for as long as possible.

"The same rumors have been doing the rounds about Robinho. Well, I hope he stays too, and I hope that Cristiano Ronaldo joins us at the Bernabeu.

"In short, I'm flattered to be linked to Manchester United...but it's not happening. End of story."

Despite the Oranje's quarter-finals elimination at the hands of Russia, Sneijder enjoyed a tremendous EURO 2008 campaign, scoring some cracking goals in Austria and Switzerland.

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Ballack slams Bayern for Gomez talks

Germany skipper Michael Ballack has criticized Bayern Munich for holding talks with his compatriot Mario Gomez in the middle of the EURO 2008.

Mario Gomez

"I certainly find it odd negotiations are taking place during the European Championship. That is not good for the player and disturbs concentration," the former Bayern midfielder told Die Welt on Tuesday.

The Stuttgart striker, who produced a scintillating performance in the Bundesliga last season, scoring 19 goals, has been underachieving at the EURO and even lost his place in Germany's starting line-up.

"I have always had the view that I have done something before or after a tournament, so that you don't have to be busy with it during the tournament," added Ballack.

Gomez emerged as one of the hottest German prospects over the past couple of years and has been heavily linked with the Bavarian side.

Reports suggested that Bayern have dropped their hunt following his poor performance at the EURO but sporting manager Uli Hoeness played down such claims.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ballack talks turkey

A collection of Ballack quotes about the semi final against Turkey.
"I am very calm. All us see a great chance to be in the final and win the title.It's up to us.

Ballack challenge turkey

They know how to adjust to opponents and that shows they are very strong mentally.I expect them to be more defensive, I think we will have more possession. We won't underestimate them, for sure, we respect everyone and we expect a difficult job.Turkey beat Croatia and we lost to it. There is no favorite.The memory of Dortmund shows us that we have to give our best until the end, and especially against the Turks we have to be committed until the final whistle."
Meanwhile rumour has it that Lehmann is busy compiling a a new set of cheat sheets in case the game goes to penalties.The last cheat sheet if you remember was up for sale in December last year.

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Arshavin could be in the Emirates

Arsene Wenger is pursuing the Zenit St. Petersburg striker with deadly intent notwithstanding his coy statements. To do that he has to cloud Arshavin's mind by blurring Arsenal's style with that of Barca (which remains Arshavin's first choice). Having Cesc Fabregas team up with the Arshavin on displayin this Euro should be a mouthwatering proposition for Arsenal this season.



Arshavin could be in the Emirates

So far La Liga has not paid much interest to Arshavin whose age appears to be a factor. The Spanish league loves to catch 'em young, watch them grow, unless you happen to be RVN or Thierry Henry, proven superstars. Barca is also shopping their surplus in Deco, Eto'o, and Ronaldinho, and some of the money in that trade will be used to woo Adebayor, also being pursued by Milan.

Here is how I see it. Arsenal's attack stems from the midfield. Other than RVP, the rest of the strikers rely on clear supply lines. Man U's distinct advantage lies in the fact that their strikers are more adept at creating goal scoring opportunities unlike Adebayor or Eduardo. I have seen Rooney and Tevez go deeper than Adebayor to nurture attacks. Rooney has honed his short passing skills to great effect. This is in part because Scholes and Giggs, in their waning moments, are not the crisp passers they once were and Anderson and Nani, their potential replacements, are still in the showboating phase of their development. Man U's stutters in midfield are glossed over by their accomplished striker corps.

Arshavin does everything. He drops deep to fuel an attack with his efficient passes (54 passes completed out of 72 attempts), he uses his speed and ball skills to split the game wide, as his zigzagging run found Dmitri Torbinski for the second goal against Netherlands, and he has shown great opportunism, zipping between Andre Ooijer and Wilfred Bouma, for the third goal. At age 28, he is a late bloomer but with his UEFA exploits and now the Euro, he appears to be in a hurry to cement his legacy. He could be the right antidote for Arsenal's now familiar late season swoon.

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WORK STARTS ON REDS GROUND

Liverpool have begun work on their new 60,000-seater after the club were granted full planning permission by Liverpool city council.

The new ground at Stanley Park, which could ultimately be capable of holding up to 73,000 supporters, will replace The Reds' current home at Anfield and is expected to be completed for the beginning of the 2011/12 season.

New Liverpool Stadium

The club has also recieved outline planning permission for a mixed use development on the existing Anfield stadium site.

Co-chairman George Gillett told the club's official website: "This is a significant milestone for the club and I am delighted that the design received full planning consent and that we are now on site.

"We have been working very hard over the last six months to move the details of the design along but this is the first tangible evidence for fans that a New LFC Stadium will be built.

"The stadium design is unique and will be recognised across the world as the Liverpool FC Stadium. It incorporates a Kop stand that will hold 18,000 fans and we hope that the stadium will be as noisy and atmospheric on a matchday as Anfield."

Co-chairman Tom Hicks added: "We recognise the importance of a new LFC Stadium as part of the wider regeneration of the local area.

"We have watched the council transform Stanley Park over the last six months and the ongoing refurbishment of houses in the Anfield/ Breckfield area.

"I am pleased that now the club has received full planning permission it can join the regeneration process with the commencement of enabling works."

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AGENT PLAYS DOWN NASRI CLAIMS

Samir Nasri is not an Arsenal player just yet despite claims on the France midfielder's website that his move from Marseille was complete.

NASRI

Nasri, who turns 21 later this week, is expected to join the Gunners at some stage in the next week but his agent Jean-Pierre Bernes insisted on Monday night the reports on the midfielder's site of a done deal were "premature".

Bernes told French newspaper L'Equipe: "Nothing has been finalised. It is premature to announce this. Discussions are continuing between the two clubs and the player."

The Gunners, in line with their usual policy, have made no official comment but the France international has long been a target of manager Arsene Wenger.

The posting on Nasri's website claimed the player had signed a four-year contract with the Barclays Premier League club.

It is understood the midfielder - who can play down the centre or on the wing - is likely to cost Arsenal around £12million, and would be their second major signing of the summer following the capture of promising Welsh teenager Aaron Ramsey from under the noses of Manchester United.

Wenger had made it clear he continues to have great faith in his current young squad - which finished third after leading the Premier League for long spells last season.

However, he also accepted they would benefit from the addition of some experienced "super-talent".

Wenger clearly believes Nasri has a bright future. Speaking earlier this month, he said: "At 21 years old his whole future is ahead of him and he has (quite) a margin for progressing further.

"He has, in any case, the qualities needed to assert himself at the highest level."

Wenger has, though, already lost midfielder Mathieu Flamini, who walked out of Emirates Stadium to join AC Milan on a free transfer, and reports in Italy suggest leading scorer Emmanuel Adebayor could also soon follow if Arsenal do not up his current pay deal.

Belarus winger Alexander Hleb is another whose future is uncertain, while Wenger has been linked with a swoop for Russia's Euro 2008 star midfielder Andrei Arshavin.

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We won't pay €100M for Ronaldo, says Calderon

Real Madrid chairman Ramon Calderon insisted that the club will never pay €100M for any player, amid the transfer saga of Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United.

Ronaldo

Calderon conceded that the capturing of the Portuguese wizard is unlikely, with Manchester United's reluctance to sell him.

"There is no 'Cristiano Ronaldo case' because Manchester do not want to sell," he told Marca.

"In any case, Real Madrid will never pay 100million Euros for anybody."

Ronaldo revealed his 'dream' of joining the Spanish champions, despite enjoying a dazzling last season at Old Trafford.

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Abou-Treika to undergo scans after collapse

Ahli midfielder Mohamed Abou-Treika collapsed during training on Tuesday morning and is set to undergo intensive scans in Germany.

Abou-Treika

"Abou-Treika will undergo intensive scans and a full check-up as it is not the first time he falls unconscious," Ahli's marketing manager Adli Al-Qaeyi told all4all-m.blogspot.com Reporter

The International playmaker collapsed last season in a league game against Ismaili.

Abou-Treika joined his teammates in their pre-season training camp at Schalke as he has just started rehabilitation from a knee injury.

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Dunga's scheme grinds out draws

The man who has made it a mission to bleach Brazil of the memories of the Tele Santana era and has some success doing it his way with his system of prizing workman like players and sound technical skills over artistry and attacking play is having a hard time motivating Brazil in the World Cup qualifiers. They are presently 5th in the group with nine points, having survived a dreary draw against Argentina. The Seleccao have dropped points with draws against lowly Peru and Colombia, and then losing to Paraguay. Their one bright spot is a 2-1 win over Uruguay and a 5-0 drubbing of Ecuador.


The Brazilian press and the public have hammered Dunga's approach.

Dunga's playbook revolves around creating a seamless connection between the attack and the defense through his system of holding and attacking midfielders. Elano, Julio Baptista and Gilberto Silva figure as the featured players. The defense has cemented around Lucio, Juan, Dani Alves, and Maicon, with a decidedly physical style of play (Argentina learned this the hard way at the 2007 Copa America). However, in this scheme of play, it is the attack that has been susceptible to Dunga's vagaries and has a decidedly unsettled look.

Earlier tinkering saw lesser lights Vagner Love, Daniel Carvalho, Rafael Sobis, and Luis Fabiano getting the call once Dunga was made manager in the aftermath of Brazil's poor showing in the 2006 World Cup. This was probably natural as none of the marquee players played to their capability. Dunga did eventually recall Kaka. But Dunga's initial rejection probably accounts for the AC Milan star's lukewarm national commitment. Robinho's performance of late has been abysmal, Adriano and Ronaldinho's hard partying has attracted more news media than their no shows on the field. Fred has had a look in but the Lyon striker is not the easiest to discipline. Alexandre Pato remains the one bright spot having an impressive first season for Inter. The attack therefore has been very patchy going through goal scoring droughts.

Dunga has also shifted his emphasis from open field goals to set pieces and Elano, Julio Baptista and a 6' defense offers Brazil their best chance of scoring such goals. This leaves Brazil exposed to fast counter attacks which takes advantage of slow reacting or an out of position defenses. Paraguay was able to win through such means.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Andrei Arshavin - A new star rises in the east

Andrei Arshavin


Andrei Arshavin - wears the number 10 shirt and wears it with the style that matches other wearers of the famous number in the past. His virtuoso individual performance eliminated Holland and there was a similarly impressive display in the Group decider against Sweden. Arsenal and Chelsea are circling like vultures and and so are clubs from the Bundesliga.Wenger and Zidane have said they were impressed.He doesn't know much english - but who cares about that as long as his feet do the talking.But anyway - he doesn't need the english language.He's going to the La Liga.

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Lehmann ready to die...

Lehmann ready to die...

Iker Casillas has been getting all the media coverage because of his great penalty saves yesterday. Jens Lehmann is claiming his own share of the spotlight by apparently saying that he was prepared to put his life on the line in Wednesday's Euro 2008 semi-final against Turkey.You may have to take him seriously though because just the other day he said he had a secret plan to prevent Ronaldo from scoring in the quarter final game -and whatever it was - it seemed to have worked.

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Casillas Heroics Oust Italy

Despite an awful and boring match on Sunday night, Spain managed to lay their ghosts to sleep and beat rivals Italy for the first time since 1920.

Spain needed a shootout to beat Italy 4-2 in Vienna after two sublime saves from skipper Iker Casillas.

Saint Iker denied Daniele De Rossi and Antonio Di Natale before Francesc Fabregas scored the decisive spot kick.

The win also ended a bad record for the Spaniards who had lost three quarter-final penalty shootouts in major tournaments on June 22nd.


Man of the Day: Iker Casillas

Iker Casillas .. Man of The Day

Casillas was like an octopus against Italy and managed to deny Luca Toni and his teammates on three occasions.

The Real Madrid guardian superbly parried the efforts of De Rossi and Di Natale in the shootout to secure Spain's place in the semi-finals.


Save of the Day: Casillas denies Mauro Camoranesi

Save of the Day

Italy's attempts on Spain's goal were rare, but dangerous. The closest Italy came to finding the net was in the 61st minute when Luca Toni towered to a cross in the Spanish area, causing a goalmouth scrabble.

The ball fell directly to substitute Camoranesi who fired a low drive from close range only for Casillas to show some great reflexes and stop the ball with his foot.

Casillas responded had responded to the threat very swiftly even though he was off-balance. A goal for Italy would have killed off an already fading game.


Play of the Day: Donadoni looking for players to take penalties

Donadoni looking for players to take penalties

Usually, a coach is prepared with a list of players who would act as penalty takers if the game goes to a shootout.

However, it was different for Italy coach Roberto Donadoni who appeared in the cadre asking his players if they wanted to take one of the penalties.

Donadoni were looking at players and asking if anyone wants to volunteer, and you could even see Giorgio Chiellini shaking his head and turning down his coach's offer.

Donadoni confirmed the situation in the post-match press conference when he was asked why he chose De Rossi and Di Natale to take the kick, noting that they were the ones who volunteered while others didn't.

"We made the decision simply because you have to feel you are ready to take a penalty," Donadoni told a news conference.

"I don't decide the penalty takers, I don't oblige them to take them. We decide together when we know how they are feeling."


Quote of the Day: Iker Casillas

Casillas vs Italy

Usually players pounce on the opportunity to claim a victory to themselves. But it wasn't the case for Spanish hero Casillas, who remained modest despite denying two spot-kicks.

"I've had good and bad experiences with penalty shootouts," said Casillas.

"We knocked out Ireland and lost to South Korea in the 2002 World Cup and this time we were lucky to go through. They are a complete lottery."

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ronaldo Vs Germany

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Simao vs Germany

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Puyol & xavi & inesta vs Russia

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Russia vs Netherlands Full Match Highlights

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Italy, Spain to vie for Euro 2008 semifinal berth

Italy are eager to prove their world champions reputation in the quarterfinals against Spain on Sunday after surviving the Group of Death.

Italy only qualified for the last eight thanks to second-string Dutch team's 2-0 victory over Romania and their 2-0 win against France in the last round of Group C.

But Italy have their reasons to be optimistic as they have a habit of starting slowly but coming to the boil when it really matters.

To the contrast, Spain, who had scored three straight victories in group stages, had often faded quickly in knockout stages of major tournaments after making promising start in group stages.

spanish team

In 2006 World Cup, Spain looked unbeatable in early stages but were stopped abruptly by France.

"This team have learned a lot since the World Cup," said midfielder Xabi Alonso, "We were a young side then and now we know what these competitions are like."

Italy will have to reshuffle their line-up due to the suspensions of midfielders Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo.

Massimo Ambrosini and Mauro Camoranesi should replace them in midfield while Antonio Cassano is likely to start alongside Luca Toni up front.

Spain coach Luis Aragones admitted that he is wary of the world champions though they looked in poor form in the group stage.

Aragones

"They aren't the team I would have most liked to have met. Defensively they are almost perfect," said Aragones.

"We all know what Italy are like and it is not for nothing that they are world champions.

"That tells us everything. They seemed dead and buried and now they are in the quarter-finals. Italy know how to cope with the good and bad times and their history shows that they have some enormously talented and hard-working players," added Aragones.

Spain will have to overcome the psychological obstacle that they have never beaten Italy at the finals of a major international tournament.

As the quarterfinal clash will be played on June 22 in Vienna, the Spanish team will have to break the June 22 jinx -- they fell three times in major tournament knockout stages on that date.



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'Traitor' Hiddink turns Russian

It seems after all that Guus Hiddink will be the 'traitor of the year in Holland' after steering a classy Russia side to a 3-1 win over the Oranje in Basel.

Against all odds, the Russians outclassed Marco Van Basten's side, who were tipped by many to lift the Henry Delaunay trophy this summer.

However, an unlikely title contender was unveiled on Saturday, evidenced by a dazzling display from Andrei Arshavin and Co.

Man of the Day: Andrei Arshavin

Andrei Arshavin

The return of Arshavin from suspension demonstrated how instrumental he is to the Russian side, who netted five goals in two games in his presence.

After he was voted man of the match against Sweden, the Zenit St Petersburg ace did it again as he capped a brilliant performance with a goal and an assist in the Dutch victory.

The dexterous striker ran rings around the Oranje defense, causing havoc for Van Basten's side with his blistering pace and exquisite dribbling.

With more than 110 minutes of play, Arshavin did not show any signs of fatigue when he outpaced Andre Ooijer before sending a pin-point cross for Dmitri Torbinski, who netted the winner in extra-time.

He then got his name on the scoresheet with a tight-angled shot that went between the legs of Edwin Van der Sar four minutes from time.

Goal of the Day: Roman Pavlyuchenko

Pavlyuchenko proved that he is a quality striker when he opened the scoring at St. Jakob Park with a superb finish.

The Spartak Moscow hitman made a clever diagonal movement to avoid the attentions of his marker, before meeting Sergei Semak's cross with an accurate volley past Van der Sar.

Play of the Day: Kolodin's red card escape

Denis Kolodin breathed a sigh of relief when referee Lubos Michel reverted on his decision to send him off in the 90th minute.

Michel decided to give the Russia defender a second booking for a foul on Wesley Sneijder, but was alerted by the linesman that the ball has already gone out of play.

"I paid the referee a compliment," Russia coach Hiddink said.

However, Kolodin will not be available for the semi-finals as he received his second yellow card of the competition.

Quote of the Day: Guus Hiddink


Guus Hiddink

"I have seen tremendous joy all over Russia and that gives more responsibility to the team – to give joy to many millions of Russians," said Hiddink.

Hiddink's comments might sound natural for a Russian citizen, but the fact that he is a Dutchman makes it an ironic quote.

The former Holland boss is now in a different position than 'many millions' of unhappy Dutch fans.

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