Saturday, August 23, 2008

FERGUSON VS WENGER: A THING OF THE PAST?

Sir Alex Ferguson - Arsene Wenger , Manchester United - Arsenal (PA)
A THING OF THE PAST?
Has Mikael Silvestre's transfer from Manchester United to Arsenal signaled the end of this iconic feud? Alan Dawson looks back at the most dramatic moments of fierce rivalry bet...


The sight of a sophisticated Frenchman and a moxie Scot living in publicised inharmony had long been a leit motif in Premier League history.

Sir Alex Ferguson had built up such a successful team throughout the 1990s that he began to monopolise English competition. Arsene Wenger's appointment as the orchestrator of affairs at Arsenal in 1996 acted as a catalyst for a clash of personalities, cultures, and footballing creeds as the little-known former Grampus-Eight manager appeared to threaten the status quo of Manc dominance and superiority. The press loved it, the fans looked forward to it and the meetings between the two sides was constantly billed as compulsory viewing as folk from all over our green and blue ball tuned in to witness.

The fixtures contained everything: from spilt soup and pitched pizza; to boot-bombardment and cut eyebrows; to a magnitude of carding, harming, penalty-calls and brawls, as the head coaches started seething by the touchlines with at least one of them weeping pride.

My how times have changed. Despite coveting certain players within the other managers' squad, neither would cement their interest with a weighty financial bid. Ever. It was unheard of. But on August 20 here we are, contemplating how Mikael Silvestre - who spent nine trophy-laden years at Old Trafford - will fit into the Emirates regime.

How did two teams, and specifically two managers, decide to do business after a dozen bitter years of heated and well-documented animosity? What changed?

Genesis

Before Sir Alex could even offer Arsene a private post-match glass of red, he publicly whined: "He comes over here from Japan and tries to tell us how to run English football." Welcome to England Arsene, do enjoy your bonny sojourn.

Relations continued to sour in 1998 as the new Arsenal boss and his north London side were crowned Premier League victors for the first time in its new format - Manchester United claiming the trophy for four of the previous five seasons. Marc Overmars not only netted a crucial goal against the M16 team on their march to the league, but also scored the first of two in that year's FA Cup final against Newcastle. The Gunners sealed a glorious double at the expense of United.

And so began years of title tug-of-wars between London and Manchester that would increase in scurrilousness with every passing season. Each side's venom for the other ironically boiled down to the same vented belief: a disgust at the other side's disrespectful arrogance.

Exodus: Fergie's Flying Boot (February 2003)

The sixth round of the FA Cup in 2003 pitted the two adversaries against each other at Old Trafford. Three yellow cards within the opening seven minutes were issued indicating a tumultuous tie had rightly been anticipated. Jeff Winter, officiator for the emotive afternoon even appealed to captains Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira for peace. Arsenal emerged triumphant due to an Edu free-kick that took a deflection off David Beckham, and a neatly slotted side-foot courtesy of then record-signing Sylvain Wiltord.

Despite the highly charged nature of the match, it was really the calm before the storm, as a controversial melee kicked off in the home side's dressing room that David Beckham would later pay testament to in his autobiography My Side.

Beckham was deemed to be at fault for the first of Arsenal's goals. "I was getting bullied in public, and was backed into a corner for no reason other than spite," he said. Sir Alex was issuing his infamous hairdryer treatment to the team, but Becks was bearing the brunt of it. The fiery Scot then lashed at a football boot that socked the Golden Boy's brow. Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs, and Ruud van Nistelrooy then had to hold Beckham back as he 'went for the gaffer'. The midfielder emerged the next day in front of the paparrazi with his hair tightly pulled back showing off his cut to the world and his wife.

Ferguson later apologised, but Beckham was still sold that summer.

Battle Of Old Trafford (October 2004)

Pizzagate. The nadir of their competitive rivalry unraveled in front of an estimated 500,000,000 people. Arsenal had gone the previous season unbeaten and were on a 49-game run without loss. The equivalent fixture the season before (September 2003) saw Van Nistelrooy miss a last minute penalty, who was then duly molested by an over-excited Martin Keown and a Motley Crue of furious Gunners. The whole match was marred by petty gamesmanship, with Vieira getting sent off for a kick at Ruud. Four Arsenal players were banned as a result of their altercation with van Nistelrooy and had to pay a collective fine of £275,000. Two Red Devils were also fined for improper conduct.

The Battle of the Buffet, as it had been dubbed with hindsight, was to be no different.

Claims of unsporting conduct, vicious fouls, cheating, penalty calls, and poor refereeing were made throughout the 90 minutes and beyond. Manchester United defeated the 'Invincibles' by two goals to nil. But it is the post-match antics that are of more interest as a gastronomic riot erupted in the tunnel.

In My Defence, Ashley Cole's autobiography released after the 2006 World Cup, he revealed: "This slice of pizza came flying over my head and hit Fergie straight in the mush. All mouths gawped to see pizza slip off this famous face and roll down his nice black suit."

It didn't end there. Coffee was hurled, pea and/or tomato soup was lobbed, and Paul Johnson - Arsenal's equipment manager - was seen to have claret dripping from his nose.

Arsene Wenger accused the referee, this time Mike Riley, of Manc favouritism and labelled Man U's poaching striker (RvN) a 'cheat'.

Tension was so tight that when the return leg was due at Highbury in February 2005, Metropolitan Police urged the warring managers to end their dispute for fear their personal battle would translate to opposition fans.

Revelation: Chelsea - The Rise Of The Common Enemy

The rise of London's next force - an Abramovich enriched Chelsea side - saw both Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson unite in wanting to slay a common enemy. The arrogance of a newly-installed cocky Champions League-winning manager in Jose Mourinho, together with top-class signings such as Michael Essien and Shaun Wright Phillips in 2005, and then Michael Ballack, Ashley Cole, Salomon Kalou, and John Obi Mikel in 2006, were seen as a threat that would destabalise United's and Arsenal's ability to conquer.

The signing of John Obi Mikel to Chelsea diverted Sir Alex's attention away from Arsene, and toward Jose. In 2005 Manchester United offered Norweigan club Lyn Oslo £4million in order to buy their Nigerian midfielder, Mikel. The deal was struck, it was announced on the Red Devil's website, and Mikel even appeared in a press conference with red shirt in tow, expressing his delight.

However, around the same time, Chelsea countered United's claims that Mikel was theirs, and stated the player had even trained in front of Jose Mourinho. After a long-drawn out saga Chelsea paid £4million to Lyn Oslo, and £12million to United. Ferguson lost out on a prime target.

Mikel aside though, Ferguson and Mourinho always seemed to have a mutual respect for each other. The same could not be said of Mourinho and Wenger. The Chelsea manager accused Arsene of being a 'voyeur', claiming the Frenchman to be obsessed with his ranks. Wenger on the other hand regarded Mourinho as a man 'disconnected with reality'.

The emergence of Chelsea as a Premier League contender diluted the hostility between Ferguson and Wenger.

Post-Match Grace

In recent times Sir Alex and Arsene have viewed the other with greater venerability, and this was evident at the end of Manchester United's defeat of Arsenal at the back of last season. Arsenal drew first blood, but United clawed their way back due to a Cristiano Ronaldo spot kick, and an Owen Hargreaves free kick.

At the end of the game, in seasons gone by, one would have expected twelve rounds, but there wasn't even a bell. After the final whistle Sir Alex consoled his old adversary and, with an arm round his shoulder, Wenger humbly accepted defeated: both respectful of the other's achievements and footballing ideology.

Mikael Silvestre

Mr. Wenger has a habit of surprising his supporters. His latest acquistion will come as the greatest shock though as the last footballer to have been traded from Manchester United to Arsenal was Brian Kidd in 1974, and this is the only transfer to have ever been struck involving Wenger and Ferguson.

On his arrival, Silvestre told Arsenal's official website: "I’ve spent nine years at United and I’ll remember that time fondly but I’m ready for a new challenge. Arsenal is known for playing technical and skilful football, and has a young but experienced squad. I’m really excited about this next stage of my career, hopefully playing my part in helping the Club to new successes."

Sir Alex paid tribute to his former player, but chose not to mention the club where he will now be plying his trade. "Mikael was a great servant and a wonderful professional. We wish him all the best at his new club and thank him for his service."

Where does this leave Arsene and Alex, then? Will we never again find them feuding on the touchline? Will the competitive rivalry the two clubs have built up continue to gain sustenance in the absence of violent on-and-off pitch quibbles? Will the most important fixture in the calender be earmarked for their respective local derbies, or for one of their biggest threats?

Old Testaments

Sir Alex Ferguson: "He [Arsene Wenger] is a disgrace."

Arsene Wenger: "I will never again answer any questions about this man."

Sir Alex Ferguson: "He ran at me with his hands raised saying 'what do you want to do about it?'"

Arsene Wenger: "What would I do if Alex wasn't around? I would have no one to keep me on my toes or to fight. Of course I am pleased that he changed his mind [about retirement]. I enjoy our rivalry. It is good for Arsenal, good for Manchester United and good for both of us"

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Official: Shevchenko Joins Milan

Official: Shevchenko Joins Milan
Chelsea have announced that Andriy Shevchenko has re-joined Milan, ending months of speculation in the process.


Milan and Sheva have finally got what they both wanted as the player returns to his old hunting ground. Chelsea have announced the player will move back to San Siro subject to a successful medical.

One of the longest running transfer saga's has finally come to an end. The Ukrainian was favourite to go back to the Rossoneri before Chelsea scuppered the deal.

However, the English club have announced they have agreed to allow the hit-man rejoin his old side.

A statement on the club's official website reads:

"Shevchenko returns to Milan.

"Chelsea FC have agreed terms for Andriy Shevchenko to return to AC Milan. Details of the agreement will remain confidential.

"The move is subject to a successful medical."

Milan also confirmed the player's return.

"AC Milan announce that the club have agreed with Chelsea for the return of Shevchenko," read a statement on the Rossoneri's official website.

Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti has always kept the door open for Sheva and the club have never given up hope on his return. It is not yet known whether the player is back on loan or permanently.

Reports in Italy claim that Chelsea didn't want a loan deal to go through but it remains to be seen as to which option both parties agreed on.

Sheva has never really managed to make it in England and his return to Serie A is likely to delight Rossoneri tifosi.

The striker is expected to fly out to Milan this evening and he will undergo a medical on Monday morning where he will be unveiled.

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D'Alessandro Returns To Argentina Squad

Andrés D'Alessandro - Internacional
Internacional man Andres D'Alessandro is the most notable inclusion in Alfio Basile's Argentina squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Paraguay and Peru next month...


Former Real Zaragoza and San Lorenzo man Andres D'Alessandro won his last cap Paraguay in 2005, but has now surprisingly made the initial 19-man squad for Argentina's crucial impending double-header.

Argentina trail the Guaraníes in the South American leg of the race for South Africa 2010 and will look to haul themselves back to the summit with a home win over the Paraguayans, before putting whipping boys Peru to the sword four days later.

U23 coach Sergio Batista has done some groundwork for Basile, guiding the likes of Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano to Beijing gold ahead of the senior challenges.

However, fellow Olympian and Boca Juniors star Juan Roman Riquelme will have to wait. The Argentine Football Association have confirmed via their official website that, although the initial squad contains all foreign-based stars, a few domestic players could be added in the coming days, with former Villarreal man Riquelme on standby.

Beijing hero Angel Di Maria, who netted in the 1-0 triumph over plucky Nigeria, will make the step up to the Albicelestes squad proper.

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We'll Lift The Scudetto - Ronaldinho

Milan magician Ronaldinho has returned from the Beijing Olympics with a bronze medal and he has now turned his attentions to silverware as he insists upon the Scudetto.
Milan magician Ronaldinho has returned from the Beijing Olympics with a bronze medal and he has now turned his attentions to silverware as he insists upon the Scudetto. Expectations are high at San Siro and the former Barcelona star is itching for some major trophies...


The Brazilian magician is in confident mood after some dazzling displays for the Selecao. He cannot wait to get back in action with his club and ‘Dinho believes he will be lifting the Tricolore next May.

Milan have not been too great during pre-season but the former PSG man believes that the rustiness will be smooved over and the Rossoneri machine will be ready for a shiny new season.

“I am ready and I want to play against Bologna,” Ronaldinho told Il Corriere Dello Sport.

“Pato is right, Milan will win the Scudetto. We have the potential to do it.

“We have the best armoury to win and we can feel it deep down inside that we are favourites.

“However, we have to go out and prove it for real.”

The Brazilian arrived from Barcelona this summer in a mega money deal. He looks completely different to the player who endured a hard time at Camp Nou.

Fitter, leaner and raring to go, ‘Dinho will try to spread his magic around Serie A and conquer the Scudetto this term.

The Rossoneri’s prime objective is domestic success and they are ready for action with an opening day fixture against Bologna next week.

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Don’t Call Me Zizou, Pleads Nasri

Arsenal's Samir Nasri is overjoyed after scoring on his Premier League debut, against West Bromwich Albion in the season opener.
Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri has asked for the constant comparisons with Zinedine Zidane to stop as he settles into life in North London.


Like Zidane, the former Marseille player has Algerian roots, and coupled with his skill and pace have meant that comparisons with the French great have been frequently made by some commentators.

However, speaking to the Arsenal's official club magazine, the new Gunner admitted that living with the Zidane tag was difficult.

“The comparison with Zidane is one that is drawn with a lot of the youngsters who come from north African backgrounds,” said the 21-year old before adding, “It’s quite often that these young kids are likened to him in some sort of way and he’s definitely a fine role model to have.”

Yet whilst Nasri is clearly pleased with the comparisons he did admit that it added pressure which was difficult to handle at a young age.

“While it’s flattering to be compared to him initially, it can be very detrimental to a young player’s career, especially when you’re 17 or that kind of age,” said Nasri before concluding, “It means people are expecting a lot from you and it can prove restrictive.”

Nasri signed for Arsenal for £12 million in the summer and scored on his league debut for the Gunners last weekend as they beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 at the Emirates.

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Video: Golden moment for Argentina

Argentinian players pose on the podium with their national flag as they celebrate winning gold in the men's Olympic football tournament at the national stadium in Beijing during the 2008 Beijing Olympic games on August 23, 2008. Argentina won gold ahead of Nigeria and Brazil. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI
Two Olympic golds in a row for Argentina.Hungary was the last team to do that - winning consecutive golds in 1964 and 1968.
20-year old Angel Di Maria - known as "The Little Angel" - came up with a heavenly chip that sailed over the goalie and into the net.It was to be the only goal of the final.




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Video:USA make it 3 out of 4 Olympic titles

US players display their gold medals after beating Brazil 1-0 in the women's football competition in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in Beijing on August 21, 2008. AFP PHOTO/DANIEL GARCIA
Carli Loyd scored the winning goal six minutes into extra time to give the US women's team the Olympic gold for the second time running.Their first Olympic gold was in 1996 and there was a silver medal in 2000.History etc here..




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Thursday, August 21, 2008

City Sign Kompany From Hamburg

Reports have emerged that Hamburger SV have accepted a bid from Manchester City for Belgian defender Vincent Kompany, believed to be in the region of €13.8million.
Bundesliga outfit Hamburger SV have announced the departure of Belgian defender Vincent Kompany to Manchester City. The centre-back had not exactly been flavour of the month in Hamburg following his Olympic mishap and leaves for a fee of around €13.8million...


Although Hamburg's official website does not carry details of the deal, it is understood that the two clubs have agreed a fee for the 22-year-old.

Kompany has been at Hamburg for the past two seasons, but has failed to make the expected impression since landing from Anderlecht.

Kompany was rated as one of Europe's brightest prospects when he moved from his homeland to the Bundesliga, however, he has not set the German top divison alight.

His club were far from impressed earlier this summer when Kompany reneged on an agreement to return from his country's Olympic bid.

Hamburg had permitted the centre-back to feature in Belgium's first two outings, however, he contrived to have himself sent off in the first against Brazil, thereby ruling him out of the second against hosts China.

The Belgian FA were not in accordance with Kompany's decision to remain in China with the under-23 panel past the accepted deadline, and he was forced to return to his club.

He played last week in the 2-2 Bundesliga opening-day draw with Bayern Munich, however, he now seems to have played his last game for the club.

Manchester City have now reportedly lodged a bid on his services, and a deal may be pushed through before the weekend.

Hamburg's director of football Dietmar Beiersdorfer said: ."We wish Vincent all the best for his future."

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Madrid Eager To Squeeze The Rabbit Out

Madrid Want Saviola Out
Real Madrid are continuing their search for a new top shelf striker but they are also desperate to off load one that they have now in the squad - Javier Saviola. Yesterday the player said he was happy at Madrid but recognised that his circumstances could change: it looks like it's starting...


Saviola, nicknamed the Rabbit, made little impact during his time at Barcelona and he has made even less of a contribution with the Catalans’ arch rivals, Real Madrid, since joining them last season.

The capital giants are believed to be rather desperate to off load the pint-sized striker for two reasons. One of the main concerns is that the 26 year old signed a four year contract with Los Merengues when he swapped the Camp Nou for the Bernabéu on a free transfer.

That contract is believed to be worth €3 million per season and with still three years left, the Madrid board are understandably less than reluctant to keep on paying the wages of someone who only spent 400 minutes on the football pitch last season.

Coach Bernd Schuster has already made it known that the former River Plate man does not fit into his plans for the new season, despite the German’s desperation to have a back-up striker in the squad for Raúl and Ruud van Nistelrooy.

And the arrival of that new striker could now depend on whether or not the club can ship out Saviola, who took over the Number 9 jersey vacated by Roberto Soldado, as he currently occupies one of the 25 places allocated to each team in the league. That, ofcourse, is the second reason why Los Blancos are so eager to release him.

Premiership side Newcastle United are rumoured to be interested in the 1.68m tall forward, but the player himself revealed to Madrid’s official website that he has not yet heard anything official from Newcastle or from any other club.

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Drogba Out Till October?

Out Till October?
Didier Drogba is still at least a month away from making his comeback, according to his national team boss Vahid Halilhodzic. The Cote D'Ivoire manager revealed that the forward will play no part in their World Cup qualifier against Mozambique on September 5th...


The Ivory Coast star, who missed Chelsea's entire pre-season with a knee problem, was only expected to be out for the first couple rounds of the season, but Vahid Halilhodzic's latest comments on the matter suggest otherwise.

"Drogba will not be back before a month, a month and a half," Halilhodzic was quoted as saying by Sky Sports News.

"He has started to run but he will not be available for the match against Mozambique (a 2010 World Cup qualifier, September 5)."

Whether the apparent setback in his bid to regain fitness will force the Blues to dip into the transfer market remains to be seen.

The fact is that Luiz Felipe Scolari has precious few forwards to call upon. Claudio Pizarro has left to join Werder Bremen on loan, while Andriy Shevchenko is expected to follow suit to Milan. At least Salomon Kalou has by now returned from Olympics duty with the Ivory Coast, but the burden of expectation up-front will continued to be placed squarely on the shoulders of the in-form Nicolas Anelka, who bagged a goal during the opening day romp against Portsmouth.

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Berba Spotted Signing For United

Berba 'Signs' For United
Tottenham Hotspur are up in arms after want-away striker Dimitar Berbatov was photographed signing a Manchester United shirt at an airport in Bulgaria following his match-winning brace for his country. The Spurs star is reportedly on the brink of a move to the champions...


The Sun exclusively snapped the Bulgarian hitman scribbling his signature on a Red Devils shirt proffered to him by a fan at the Sofia Airport.

Berbatov has been itching for a move to Old Trafford over the last few weeks, as he is desperate to play in the Champions League once more.

And while Spurs and United are deep in negotiations, a disagreement over the transfer fee means the deal remains incomplete.

The 27-year-old recently attempted to quash speculation that his desire to leave was causing problems at White Hart Lane, insisting he had behaved professionally and above board despite his wish to move on.

Lilywhites fans remained doubtful regarding Berbatov's commitment to the club, however, and this latest development will surely complete his transformation from hero to villain.

Spurs legend Jimmy Greaves said: “Signing the United shirt is certainly cheeky.

“He clearly wants to leave. If he doesn’t want to stay they should get rid of him.”

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Ramos Targets Reinforcements

Juande Ramos - Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur head coach Juande Ramos has given the clearest indication yet that more recruits will be brought to White Hart Lane before the summer window closes...


Tottenham have been quite active in the window thus far, having sealed deals for, among others: PSV glovesman Heurelho Gomes, England hopeful David Bentley, Mexican forward Gio Dos Santos, and Croatian playmaker Luka Modric.

Despite these high-profile recruits, Ramos insists that more names will be incoming, telling the Echo: "We've got a list of targets we are working very on. Negotiations are tough and are even tougher than usual. We know what we are working towards and we know what our objectives are."

He continued: "The process of signing players takes time, but fans should be aware we are trying to strengthen up front and sign a new forward."

He concluded: "It's true to say we have one or two areas that we need to look at defensively and maybe solve a few problems at the back."

Diego Capel, Andrei Arshavin, and Vedran Corluka have all been linked with a move to the Spurs.

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Di Michele Not Moving To Roma - Agent


Davide Di Michele’s agent has denied rumours linking his client with a lucrative move to Roma.

The Torino forward has been heavily linked with a switch to the Stadio Olimpico this summer, but so far the move hasn’t taken off.That situation isn't likely to change after the player’s agent ruled out the possibility of his client leaving the Granata.

“There is nothing concrete regarding that situation,” the agent told Tuttomercatoweb.

“I don’t know if Roma have made any enquiries. If that’s the case we have not heard anything and they have not been in contact with us.

“I don’t know if Di Michele will leave; it’s hard to tell with 10 days of the transfer window still remaining. Roma are no longer making any moves on the market.”

Reports in Italy suggest that the striker has fallen out with coach Gianni De Biasi after a pre-season disagreement.

His move to the Giallorossi now seems unlikely, as the Trigoria-based side have already invested heavily in Julio Baptista.

Torino finished 15th in Serie A last season and they just managed to escape the drop in Serie B.

Improvements are expected this term as the club tries to climb back up the Serie A table.

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Argentina And Nigeria - Twelve Years On

Argentina And Nigeria - Twelve Years On

All4All Blog take a look at the historic Nigerian Olympic victory over Argentina in the final of the 1996 Games, and what it means today...

Nigeria's famous Olympic Gold in the the 1996 final was not just the culimination of a thrilling Games, but in fact the conclusion of a rivalry that in fact started earlier. What's more, it was proof that European and South American sides were no longer the only ones worth watching on the global stage...

African Hope

Nigeria's mid-90s squad was of considerable strength. At the 1994 World Cup (pictured) the Super Eagles finished top of a tough group - one that contained would-be semi-finalists Bulgaria - before being edged out by eventual finalists Italy in the knockout stages. As well as losing to the Italians, there was another defeat for the Nigerians - against Argentina.

Samson Siasia had put the Super Eagles ahead after just eight minutes of play, but two quickfire goals from Claudio Caniggia midway through the first half kept the albiceleste in the competition for another round at least. Thus when the two sides were thrown together at the Games two years later, Nigeria were on a revenge mission - one in which they were deemed underdogs.

Argentine Expectation

Argentina's fans, meanwhile, expected their heroes to put the humiliation of second round elimination in the USA two years prior well and truly behind them. Nigeria, having been beaten at that tournament, were judged to be second best to an Argentina side that had gone without losing. There were question marks over group stage draws with Tunisia and Portugal, but overall Daniel Passarella's men had impressed, not least with a 4-0 mauling of Spain in the quarter-finals and a 2-0 win over Portugal in the semis.

Nigeria, meanwhile, had taken took a circuitous route to the final. After a hard-fought win over Hungary, they made hard work of unfancied Japan before losing out to Brazil in their final group game.

They then overcame Mexico in fairly routine circumstances, setting up a clash with Brazil. The South Americans, with a certain Ronaldo in their ranks, had just eliminated Ghana, leaving the Nigerians as the sole remaining African force.

After going 3-1 down by the 40th minute it seemed as if the tournament was over for the Super Eagles, but Victor Ikpeba and Nwankwo Kanu had different ideas as they hit a late goal apiece to force extra time. Poetically enough, Kanu then managed the golden goal just four minutes into the extended perior to seal an historic win for his side.

Then, of course, came the final.

The Big Game


The Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia, is more suited to hosting American football, but with what was essentially a capacity crowd packed in on August 3rd it was, at least temporarily, a soccer city. The locals had already witnessed both of the semi-finals and the bronze medal game (a rejuvenated Brazil won that one 5-0) and as such appetite for one more game was real.

Passarella's men came out swinging. Carlos 'Piojo' Lopez opened the scoring after just three minutes, but, just as against Brazil, Nigeria played the role of comeback kings. Nigeria responded through Celestine Babayaro, who ensured that the scores would be level at half time.

Five minutes after the break, though, Taribo West conceded a needless penalty that Hernán Crespo coolly struck home, and Argentina were in control.

Yet with fifteen minutes to go Daniel Amokachi struck the equaliser with a delicious little lob , and another period of extra time loomed.

Passarella had other ideas. Eager not to take part in the lottery of the 'golden goal', he pushed his defence far up the pitch to force the attacking issue.

The Nigerian defence, withering under the pressure, soon enjoyed a moment of great fortune that was to decide the game in their favour. Hitting on the break down the left, they won a free-kick out at the edge of the goal area. As the ball swung in, it looked as though the Argentines timed their offside runs perfectly, but no whistle and no flag came to their rescue. Alone facing goal, there was Emmanuel Amuneke to seal the gold medal with mere seconds remaining on the clock.

Argentina were furious with referee Pierluigi Collina's decision to award that final goal, but nonetheless it stood, and Nigeria had their gold medal. Whether or not they'd have gone on to win without that third goal is a question for the ages, and there were more than a few recriminations to come over the coming months from the unhappy albiceleste.

Twelve years on, Nigeria have lost some of their prominence on the world stage, but the albiceleste are as bright as they were then. Who will prevail this time? Samson Siasia, a medal-winner at that tournament, will look for his second piece of gold: Argentina, perhaps justifiably, will seek revenge.

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Reports: Shevchenko To Milan Collapses

Reports: Shevchenko To Milan Collapses

There are reports emerging from Italy that Andriy Shevchenko’s move back to Milan has collapsed after Chelsea refused to release the player on loan.

The Rossoneri have been searching for a first striker all summer, and it had seemed as though former hero Shevchenko was on the verge of a move back to San Siro.

The basis of a one-year loan move, with Chelsea contributing part of the Ukrainian’s wages, had supposedly already been agreed upon.

The Corriere dello Sport claimed this morning that Milan transfer chief Adriano Galliani was to travel to Monte Carlo today to dine with Shevchenko and Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon.

There they would tie up the last details of the deal, before the transfer would be officially signed, sealed and delivered tomorrow, with Sheva arriving in Milan on Sunday or Monday.

However, according to reports just emerging from Italy, the transfer has now collapsed after Chelsea refused to release the player on loan, with an option to make the move permanent.

The Londoners have made it clear to Milan that they will only offload Shevchenko if Milan buy him outright. The Rossoneri will not consider such a proposal, and if these reports are true, it now seems as if Sheva’s hopes of re-joining the Diavoli have all but disappeared.

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Official: Chievo Sign Granoche


Chievo have made their third purchase of the day after completing the signing of Triestina striker Pablo Granoche.


The Flying Donkeys, who were promoted from Serie B last term, earlier today snapped up Udinese duo Antonio Langella and Giampiero Pinzi on one-year loan deals.

They have now moved to make a third signing within a matter of hours by capturing highly rated Triestina hitman Pablo Granoche in a co-ownership arrangement.

The Uruguayan scored 24 goals during the 36 matches in his first season with the Alabardati last term, firmly cementing his reputation as a prolific scorer.

The 24-year-old arrived in Europe in the summer of 2007 from Mexican side Coatzacoalcos, and is now hoping to move on to the next level with Chievo.

The Verona-based outfit have now made 11 signings this summer, and they will be hoping that all these new players gel quickly in order to give them the best chance of avoiding relegation.

Chievo kick off the 2008/09 season with a home clash against Reggina on August 31.

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Torres The Best In The World - Kuyt

Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt has lavished praise on fellow striker Fernando Torres, believing he can carry over his incredible debut season into this campaign...

Dirk Kuyt and Fernando Torres - Liverpool

Torres joined the club from Atletico Madrid for a fee in excess of €25 million from Atletico Madrid last summer. The striker has long been known as an extremely talented prodigy in Spanish football, but did not manage to rack up a significant goal difference with los Rojiblancos in all his time with his hometown club.

However, upon his move, he settled into English football better than any other striker before him, racking up an unprecedented 33 goals in a debut season, surpassing Ruud van Nistelrooy's record made with the Reds' bitter rivals Manchester United.

El Nino had a considerably less remarkable Euro 2008 campaign with Spain, but still ended up a vital part of the title-winning side, scoring the one and only goal in the final to give la Roja the trophy - their first in 44 years and only the second in their entire history.

Kuyt, shunted to right wing to accommodate Liverpool's new prodical son, could not be more impressed with the 24-year-old. "Fernando showed last year that he's maybe the best striker in the world," he said.

Torres got his league campaign off to the perfect start last weekend, netting the only goal of the game with perhaps his only genuine chance against Sunderland to give Liverpool a victory they scarcely deserved. "He doesn't need much to score a goal and you almost know before he shoots he will score," Kuyt continued.

"We work very hard as a team and you know we will progress every game and be better.

"We have a lot of quality in the team like Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and of course Torres so we know if we work hard, we'll get our chances and we have the ability to score in every game."

Kuyt is confident the Kop may finally witness a team capable of winning their first ever Premire League, and first league title in 18 years. Bitter rivals Manchester United are closing in on the Reds' all time record and could in fact go level with them if they win their third successive title this season.

"The team is getting better and better and the most important thing is to look at ourselves," added Kuyt.

"I think we don't have to look too much to be teams like Manchester United or Chelsea or Arsenal, we just have to look at ourselves.

"If we can just win our own games the gap will be closer.

"The team is getting better and better and the most important thing is to look at ourselves."

Another to have impressed Kuyt is new signing Andrea Dossena, from Udinese. "He did well but he had already showed his quality in pre-season," remarked the Dutchman.

"He still needs to grow into his role but I think he played really well."

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Veron: We Should Have Won Another Way

Estudiantes de La Plata captain, Juan Sebastian Veron, told the press that he thinks his side should have won their Copa Sudamericana tie with Independiente in normal time...
Veron: We Should Have Won Another Way

After ninety minutes of intense football, Estudiantes de La Plata went on to beat Independiente 5-4 on penalties, to advance to the next round of the Copa Sudamericana on Wednesday.

"We should have won in another way. I think that, other than their goal, Independiente hardly attacked us at all," stated Veron, who fired in Estudiantes' first penalty in the penalty shoot-out.

Veron admitted that "winning in this manner is typical of the history of the club" and he believes this victory will help motivate them for the following round of the competition where they will either meet Arsenal de Sarandi or Motagua of Honduras.

"Despite everything, we didn't suffer during the ninety minutes, because Independiente didn't attack us much, only in the goal. We were much deadlier in the first half," he concluded.

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Borja Not A Baggie Just Yet - Mowbray

Borja Valero - Mallorca
West Bromwich Albion boss Tony Mowbray has cooled speculation suggesting the club have already signed Borja Valero from Real Mallorca...


The Real Madrid youth product was one of many players last season for Mallorca who hit hot form, including coming off the bench to score against his former club, and has since attracted interest from the Premier League this summer.

The midfielder was thought to have completed a move to newly promoted West Brom, who lost to Arsenal on the opening day, for a fee in the region of €6 million.

However, what would be a record signing for the club is not yet complete. "The deal is not done," declared Mowbray. "I don't want to eulogise about a player who has not signed in case it doesn't happen.

"But it is no secret we admire the player and we'd like to tie something up.

"We've watched him for a while and he has got the technical ability to help our squad."

Borja, 23, scored four goals in 35 league appearances in his first and thus far only season with Mallorca.

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Gunners Loan Traore To Pompey


Arsenal have loaned youngster Armand Traore to Portsmouth in a season-long deal...


Sky Sports News report that the Frenchman will play out the season at Fratton Park, as the club's second and therefore final - as per Premier League rules - loan signing of the summer. The permanent signing of Jerome Thomas from Charlton Athetlic, who had previously been on loan, allowed this move to be finalised.

Traore, 18, has shown glimpses of explosive potential at Arsenal, having been plucked from Monaco's youth ranks in 2005, but is currently understudy to the incredible Gael Clichy at left-back, and Samir Nasri has started the season in perfect form with a goal on debut from left wing.

He will join Ben Sahar of Chelsea as a loanee at Fratton Park, competing most probably for a slot at left-back, competing with the likes of Herman Hreidarsson for a starting spot.

Pompey got off to an awful start to the season with a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on the opening day of the Premier League season, having also lost the Community Shield to Manchester United on penalties, following a drab 0-0 draw.

Traore recently signed a long-term contract extension with Arsenal.

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Official: Frey Quits France

Official: Frey Quits France

Fiorentina goalkeeper Sebastien Frey has announced his retirement from international football, and he leaves no doubts as to who is to blame for his decision; France coach Raymond Domenech. Frey, who is just 28-years-old, is rated as one of Europe's best 'keepers.

Frey is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe, and was considered by many as the top performing shot-stopper in Serie A last season.

Despite his undoubted quality, and magnificent form, the 28-year-old has been constantly overlooked by France coach Raymond Domenech, and has won just two caps for his country.

He was selected for France’s squad for Euro 2008, but did not play a single minute in the debacle, as Domenech controversially opted to play Gregory Coupet, a choice the coach was heavily criticised for, along with his decision to not call-up the likes of David Trezeguet, Mathieu Flamini, Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy.

Frey has started the new season brilliantly, but he was controversially snubbed for France’s friendly against Sweden last night, with Domenech mysteriously selecting Marseille’s Steve Mandanda, and Lyon new-boy Hugo Lloris.

Frey suggested last week that he was on the verge of quitting France due to Domenech repeatedly snubbing him and, after considering his options, he has now officially announced his retirement from international football.

“After a long reflection, I would like to publicly announce that with the current technical staff in charge of France, I have decided to devote all my time to Fiorentina,” Frey is quoted as saying by ANSA.

“I do not want it to sound disrespectful to the current coach, but obviously I will not return given his choices.”

Frey becomes the second Serie A star to quit Les Bleus because of Domenech, with the other being Juventus’ Trezeguet, who was also frozen out by the coach despite his outstanding form for his club.

This announcement is only going to further fan the flames surrounding Domenech and the France national team, and it remains to be seen what the coach’s response to this news will be.

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Italy 2-2 Austria Match Highlights

Marcello Lippi failed to weave his magic in his first match since returning to the Italy helm as the Azzurri were forced to recover from two goals down to draw with Austria in a friendly in Nice on Wednesday.


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Germany 2-0 Belgium

Second-half goals from Bastian Schweinsteiger and Marko Marin lifted Germany to victory over Belgium in an international friendly on Wednesday night.Schweinsteiger struck from the spot in the 59th before Marin's beautiful strike put the one-sided issue beyond doubt 13 minutes from time.





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Portugal 5-0 Faroe Islands

1-0 C.Martins 23'
2-0 Simao 49'
3-0 Duda 86'
4-0 Bruno Alves 89'
5-0 Nani 90'+1




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Video: Great goal from Henrik Larsson

Friendly : Sweden - France, Steve Mandanda (France)
France came back from a goal down and won the friendly against Sweden 3 -2.Henrik Larsson marked his 99th cap with a stunning scissor kick goal.

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Sweden 2-3 France Highlights

Two goals by Sidney Govou helped France come from behind to defeat Sweden 3-2 in a friendly on Wednesday.Veteran Henrik Larsson opened the scoring for the hosts with a spectacular volley from a cross by Kim Kallstrom in the fifth minute.


Highlights

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Russia 1-1 Netherlands Highlights

Watch highlights of the International friendly match between Russia and Holland here, Right after the match.

Russia 1-1 Netherlands Highlights

Feyenoord defender Giovanni van Bronckhorst has been named as Holland’s new skipper ahead of their friendly with Russia.
The Dutch captaincy has been up for grabs following the international retirement of former first-choice stopper Edwin van der Sar following Euro 2008.

Van Bronckhorst’s appointment was made public by new Oranje boss Bert van Marwijk on Tuesday, as he puts the final preparations in place for his first game in charge in Moscow on Wednesday.

Russia will be without the services of full-back Aleksandr Anyukov and midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov after they were ruled out due to injury.

Anyukov did not meet up with the national team in Moscow on Monday after sustaining a rib injury while playing with Zenit St Petersburg.

Bilyaletdinov was ruled out of boss Guus Hiddink’s side on Monday night after he failed to respond to treatment on a muscle injury.

Highlights


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Video:England salvage last gasp draw against Czechs - Highlights

A motley collection of ageing not so indomitable three lions didn't roar too loudly.Milan Baros (off Ashley Cole) put the Czech Republic ahead.Wes Brown equalised by putting his head to a Beckham corner .Jankulovski put the Czechs in front again with a great free-kick. Joe Cole managed a scappy equaliser in the 90th minute.
TAMED LIONS ... England look dejected after conceding the opener



England 2-2 Czech Republic Highlights

England rescued a fortunate draw against Czech Republic but were poor in their last game before the start of the 2010 World Cup qualifiers.

Milan Baros turned England skipper John Terry and had his shot deflected in off Ashley Cole to put the Czechs ahead.

England equalised with a powerful Wes Brown header but were out-classed and outplayed by the visitors.

Marek Jankulovski restored the Czech lead with an superb free-kick before Chelsea’s Joe Cole scrambled in a leveller.

Cole’s goal was more than England deserved and their performance will have given boss Fabio Capello plenty to think about before the qualifying campaign for the next World Cup starts against Andorra on 6 September and a game against Croatia four days later.

The Italian has made it clear he wants his side playing as a unit and the players mirroring their club form for their country.


22′ [0 - 1] M. Baros
44′ [1 - 1] W. Brown



48′ [1 - 2] M. Jankulovski


90′+4′ [2 - 2] J. Cole

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dunga's dilemma

Dunga's dilemma
His future as coach of Brazil has a big question mark hanging over it after the mauling from Argentina.All those who had said he shouldn't have taken on the Olympic job seeing that Alfio Basile had decided not to coach the Argentine Olympic team are saying things like " We knew this would happen"
Maradona is adding fuel to the flames and salt to the wounds by saying he had never seen Brazil play like that - (meaning it as an insult and not a compliment).Dunga has two World Cup qualifiers in early September -- an away game to Chile and a home game against Bolivia.Why can't he recreate the team that beat Argentina 3- 0 last year when they won the Copa America?That's Dunga's Dilemma....

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Sheva To Join Milan Tomorrow

Sheva To Join Milan Tomorrow
Chelsea striker Andrei Shevchenko will complete his return to Milan tomorrow in a one-year loan deal, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport.


This Rossoneri have been having something of a forward crisis in recent weeks as Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato are away on Olympic duty with Brazil, Kaka is recovering from a knee operation, Marco Borriello is injured, while Pippo Inzaghi is only just working his way back to full fitness.

With the 18-year-old Alberto Paloschi the only other striker option, Milan have been forced to go back into the market for a frontman, and over recent days they have been quietly working on a deal to bring Andriy Shevchenko back to the club.

Sheva To Join Milan Tomorrow
Roman Abramovich and Silvio Berlusconi held a decisive meeting last Thursday, which took place at Villa Certosa in Sardinia, where they came to an agreement which will see Shevchenko move to San Siro on loan.

The transfer is likely to be completed tomorrow, or Friday at the very latest, and Chelsea will also pay €6.5m of the player’s wages.

Shevchenko, who is surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge, and was not called up for the first game of the season against Portsmouth on Sunday, is set to be handed the number 76 shirt, after the year of his birth.

The 32-year-old had seven brilliant seasons with Milan from 1999 to 2006, scoring 127 goals in just 208 games, before moving to Chelsea in 2006 for a whopping €45m.

However, he has had two dreadful years in the English capital, and is well known to be desperate to move back to Italy.

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Arshavin Priced Himself Out Of Gunners Deal

 Greedy Arshavin Prevented Arsenal Move Andrei Arshavin's agent claims that Arsenal were serious about acquiring his client but were not able or not willing to meet his salary demands.
Andrei Arshavin's agent claims that Arsenal were serious about acquiring his client but were not able or not willing to meet his salary demands.


Dennis Lachter sounded almost rueful when he admitted to the Daily Express that the top-rated Russian ultimately vetoed the move because the London side were not willing to break their notoriously rigid wage structure for him.

"Wenger was serious about buying Arshavin," said the agent.

"If Andrei could have tempered his financial appetite, it was quite possible he would be playing at the Emirates right now.

"Arsenal were prepared to pay about £15million for him.

"(Arsene) Wenger is indeed a cunning fox who always says one thing and does the other. He wanted Andrei, but Arsenal are the only top English club who do not pay large salaries."

This past weekend was supposed to be a make or break one concerning Arshavin's future, but so far neither Tottenham, Barcelona or Arsenal have been willing to meet the hefty demands of both the Russian club and the player.

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Klaas Or Milito For Madrid?

Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster may be finally getting the new striker that he has long demanded as the club look to have yielded to his request.
Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster may be finally getting the new striker that he has long demanded as the club look to have yielded to his request.


According to Catalan-based newspaper, Sport, the Real Madrid hierarchy have begun a last minute operation to recruit in a top class striker, as per coach Bernd Schuster’s orders.

The board at the ‘White House’ has apparently given in to the German’s wishes after previously telling the trainer that he would not be getting a new striker to provide cover for the aging Raúl and Ruud van Nistelrooy.

But after much commotion in the media yesterday, sporting director Predrag Mijatovic is eager to avoid an explosive confrontation with his coach and it is now reported that he will begin looking into prospective signings for the ‘Number 9’ role.

Although Didier Drogba remains the number one preference for Schuster, the club has essentially withered the options down to two names: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Diego Milito.

Mijatovic is believed to be an admirer of Huntelaar but Schuster has confessed before that the Dutchman’s style does not quite fit into team’s system and game plan. But with less than two weeks to go before La Liga kicks off, the ex-Getafe técnico is now reportedly open to the idea.

The second option, Diego Milito, is more viable. He is a player that would interest Schuster greatly as he is much faster and versatile and he can easily adapt to any attacking position that he is required to play in. In addition, he is also already familiar with La Liga, unlike Huntelaar who may require some time adjusting to his new environment.

It is also believed that the 25 year old Ajax hitman is unwilling to join Los Merengues to play second fiddle and he will only agree to any personal contract that guarantees him regular first team football as he continues to push to cement his status in the Dutch national set-up.

On the other hand, negotiations with Diego Milito would be much more straightforward. Even though he has a buy-out clause of €100 million, his club Real Zaragoza are well aware that they cannot hang on to their top marksmen while playing in the Segunda División and they have already shown that they are prepared to put him on the transfer market and listen to offers.

Madrid valuate the 29 year old Argentine at €20 million, a figure that they would have no problems dishing out and a fee that Zaragoza might happily accept.

Over the last four seasons or so at club level, Huntelaar has scored 104 goals in 128 games, while Diego Milito has notched up 84 goals in 167 appearances.

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Ibra’s Knee Breaks Down Again

There are fitness concerns once again over Zlatan Ibrahimovic after he reported severe pain in his troublesome left knee.
There are fitness concerns once again over Zlatan Ibrahimovic after he reported severe pain in his troublesome left knee.


Ibrahimovic has suffered terribly with a chronic knee injury this calendar year, and this forced him to miss most of Inter’s Scudetto run-in last season.

The problem cropped up while on Euro 2008 duty with Sweden, while he limped out of Inter’s first pre-season training session last month after just 20 minutes.

The forward returned to training a few weeks ago, and he has been working his way back into action, playing in both the Amsterdam Tournament and the Eusebio Cup.

He was due to play for Sweden tonight in the friendly against France, but pulled out of the game yesterday. Originally it was reported that this move was just as a precaution so that he could rest ahead of Inter’s Italian Supercup match against Roma on Sunday.

However, it has since been reported that Ibrahimovic’s troublesome knee injury has come back once again, and there are serious fears over whether this problem will ever go away.

"I feel strong in the knees and legs,” Ibrahimovic insisted.

“At the end of the last game [against Benfica last Friday] I felt a slight discomfort, but after two days of rest everything was fine.”

Only a few hours later though, Ibrahimovic broke down in training for Sweden, and is said to have been in real pain. The frontman is now considered a huge doubt for the Supercup, and with Adriano also out injured, Inter will not be ideal condition up-front.

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Madrid Want Di María - Report

Madrid Want Di María - Report
Real Madrid have apparently pinpointed Benfica starlet Angel Fabián Di María as a potential replacement for Robinho. The 20-year-old has long since been on the blancos' agenda, but now they appear close to making their interest a bit more concrete...



As.com reports that the 20-year-old has enjoyed a fine Olympic Games campaign with Argentina thus far, leading Madrid to believe that he may be a long-term solution for the left flank.

If Robinho moves on, as is said to be still possible, then the addition of Di María to the squad would add depth, as well as competition for Arjen Robben.

In any case the former Rosario man is under contract at current club Benfica until 2012, with a release clause of €30m. Previously he was part-owned by his former club, but Benfica bought out their remainder this summer.

Portuguese sports daily Record, meanwhile, claims that Madrid operatives in Beijing were willing to offer €15m to Benfica up front for the player, but the Lisbon side rejected this offer.

However the player has been informed by one of his agents, Andrés Miranda, of Madrid's interest. His other agent, Jorge Mendes, is well-known to the Spanish club due to his representing Cristiano Ronaldo.

Madrid have in fact tracked Di María since 2006, when he was still with Rosario. Back then, though, sporting director Predrag 'Pedja' Mijatovic opted to move for Fernando Gago and Gonzalo Higuaín instead of their fellow Argentine.

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Lippi: Del Piero The Italian Rooney

Lippi: Del Piero The Italian Rooney
Marcello Lippi admits that he wants to model his Azzurri attack on Manchester United, and reportedly considers Alessandro Del Piero as the Italian Wayne Rooney.


Lippi returns to the Italy bench tonight in the friendly against Austria in Nice, as he hopes to repeat the glories of his first reign when he led the Azzurri to World Cup success at the 2006 World Cup.

The early signs are that Lippi plans to use a 4-3-3 formation where possible, and the reference point will be European club champions Manchester United and their three-pronged attack of Cristian Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez.

“It fascinates me to have a national team with three attackers who can make themselves available for the team like Wayne Rooney did for Manchester United in Rome [in the Champions League last season],” said Lippi.

It is reported in the Italian press that Lippi sees Del Piero as the player to replicate the role that Rooney carries out for Man Utd, and he will test out the Golden Boy tonight in Nice.

Indeed the Azzurri will line up with a 4-3-3 against Karel Bruckner’s men, with Alberto Gilardino and Antonio Di Natale tipped to complete the forward trident.

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Babel To Return Against Boro

Babel To Return Against Boro
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is expecting Ryan Babel to feature in Saturday’s Premier League fixture against Middlesbrough, following the Netherlands’ elimination from the Olympics.



Benitez was far from happy at the Dutchman’s inclusion in his nation’s Olympic panel after he suffered an ankle injury on the eve of Euro 2008.

Liverpool were hoping that a restful summer would see Babel fit for the opening day of the season. However, having seen his recovery progress at a rapid rate, Dutch Olympic coach Foppe de Haan decided to include the 21-yrear-old in his squad for the Beijing games.

Following their defeat to Argentina at the quarter final stage last week, the Dutch panel are now free to rejoin their club sides.

Middlesbrough are the opposition for the Reds on Saturday, and Benitez expects the ex-Ajax man to take part.

He told the club’s official website: "It's bad news for Holland that they went out but it means we get a player back. Hopefully he can be here either today or tomorrow to train with the rest of his team-mates.

"He has been playing important games so I don't think there will be any problems with his fitness, but our doctor and fitness coaches will check with him and then we will see about the weekend.

"I am sure he will be okay. If he trains normally then he can be available for Middlesbrough."

Babel failed to illuminate Anfield in his first season with Liverpool. The winger came with a hefty price tag from Ajax, but made only 15 Premier League starts last season. Benitez hopes that this season will be different for Babel, given that he is one year older and wiser.

“He's one year older and more experienced now. He knows the club, he knows his team-mates and so I'm sure this could be a big season for him," he stated.

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Keane: More Signings Imminent

Keane: More Signings Imminent
Since their promotion to the top tier last year Sunderland have employed an aggressive transfer policy in the following summer window. One year on and this summer is no different...


Black Cats boss Roy Keane has been busy these past few weeks sealing deals that would bring Pascal Chimbonda, Steed Malbranque, Teemu Tainio, El-Hadji Diouf, David Meyler, and Nick Colgan, all to the club. On those six players £15million has been spent, but according to the former Manchester United hardman, that is still not enough as he looks to bring in even more faces.

There has been constant speculation linking Celtic's Aiden McGeady with a move south of the border, while Mikael Silvestre, David Healy, and Anton Ferdiand have also been put forth as possible Keane signins.

The Sunderland manager is quoted by Setanta Sports as saying: "There's been lots of speculation and we've been linked with hundreds of players and I don't think we'll be signing all of them."

He added: "If we sign any decent players we'll release a statement, but there's no point me talking about players who might or might not be coming to the football club. We've made good progress over the last day or two and I hope we have some news over the next 48 hours.

"We've made some great offers for players and good deals with clubs. If players want to come and we can take them to another level, fantastic, but if they want to stay at the clubs they're at, good luck to them, it's not a major problem."

He continued: "I'm not looking to let any players go, but if an offer comes in, like every other manager I've got to balance the books. I've heard managers say certain players aren't for sale, trust me, if the price is right then everybody is for sale."

Roy Keane has been outspoken in the past concerning players who have rejected the chance to move to the north east, citing WAGS who want to live in England's major cities as the cause. He believes the footballer's career is the priority.

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Giggs: Chelsea Are Hungry And Determined

Giggs: Chelsea Are Hungry And Determined
After watching Chelsea brush-aside FA Cup winners Portsmouth, Ryan Giggs admitted that the Stamford Bridge outfit look like they have a hunger for glory...


Ryan Giggs knows a lot about hunger. Not only is he the most decorated player in the current Manchester United squad, having won the Premier League ten times, the FA Cup four times, the League Cup twice, the Champions League twice, the Uefa Super Cup once and the Intercontinental Cup once, he also holds the record for most appearances in a United shirt.

The Welsh winger is never content on resting on his laurels, and continues to push himself for further honours. So when he recognises that same drive in another team, you know he is speaking the truth.

He told Sky Sports: "They [Chelsea[ didn't win the Premier League last year. I've been in that position where you've not win it. You're hungry and determined, and you want to win it, simple as that."

On how he and his team-mates can counter this, he said: "We've got to match their determination, their hunger, and desire. We've got players at the club who've tasted success over the last couple of years and want more."

The Old Trafford side already find themselves two points off the remainder of the top four due to their home draw with Newcastle United. "We're all disappointed we didn't win... every team wants to get off to a winning start, but we did okay. Carlos [Tevez] was not there on Sunday, and Wayne [Rooney] missed a bit of pre-season."

Manchester United face Portsmouth this weekend hoping to do what they failed to do in the Community Shield - score in open play.

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Inter Increase Quaresma Bid

Ricardo Quaresma -Inter Increase Quaresma Bid
Inter are ready to increase their bid from €17m to €20m for Ricardo Quaresma as they attempt one final assault on the Porto man according to Sportmediaset.


The midfielder is on the verge of leaving the Dragoes as he has hardly featured in any pre-season games. The Nerazzurri have been after the Portuguese international all summer and a deal now seems imminent.

Sportmediaset claims that Quaresma has fallen out with his club and that an exit is on the cards. Jose Mourinho is keen on his fellow country man and he is ready to move into action.

The Beneamata are ready to lay an extra €3m on the table in order to convince the Portuguese side to part-company with their player.

A number of injuries to the Inter squad have forced the club back on the market and the Porto player is likely to be drafted in as cover for the crocked players.

David Suazo and Hernan Crespo are likely to be axed in order to make room for Quaresma to come into the squad. Reports in Portugal suggest the midfielder has reached the point of no return with his side and ‘A Bola’ claims he is unhappy at Porto.

The Nerazzurri will be aiming for the Champions League this term and the ‘Special One’ is trying to build a strong enough squad in order to challenge for Europe’s most wanted trophy.

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Conte: Italian Hooligans Are Shameful!

Antonio Conte, Bari (Foto Grazia Neri)
Former Juventus star, and current Bari coach, has slammed the hooligans who attacked him in his hometown of Lecce.


Conte was relaxing on a beach near his hometown of Lecce on Sunday where he took part in a five-a-side match, before a number of local thugs attacked him, accusing him of being a traitor for coaching rivals Bari.

“As soon as I finished a five-a-side match, which was a memorial for my cousin who died in a car crash a few years back, seven or eight men walked on to the field and came straight at me,” Conte told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“They were holding sticks and metal bars. They tried to hit me, but fortunately didn’t manage it. They were wearing T-Shirts with ‘I Hate Bari’ and even chased after my brother, Gianluca. Thankfully they were scared off by a police car and a few of our friends.

“Physically I am fine, but psychologically I am hurting badly. I am furious at this incredibly serious incident. It happened in front of my wife, my nine-month-old baby and many other children who were at the game.

“I never imagined someone could organise an ambush in my home city. It’s shameful!

“Lecce is my city. My family lives here. I just hope this incident can shock people into realising how ridiculous that attitude is and that those responsible do not get away with it.”

The image of Italian football has been badly tarnished in recent years by scandals both on-and-off the pitch, and hooliganism is a serious problem that the authorities are struggling to stamp out in view of this latest incident.

Conte played for Lecce from 1985 to 1992, but his best known for his spell at Juventus from 1992 to 2004 where he won virtually every honour in the club game, including five Scudetti, a Champions League, UEFA Cup, and a Intercontinental Cup.

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Premier League Team Of The Week: Round 1


Welcome to All4All's team of the week. After each round of the Premier League we sieve out the major performers. This week, three debutants and five Englishmen make the first eleven...



Goalkeeper

Shay Given
(Newcastle): The Republic of Ireland international pulled off a string of saves to keep Manchester United at bay in their own ground. Even managed to pull of a remarkable block from a Fraizer Campbell header using his own forehead.

Defenders

Jose Bosingwa (Chelsea): He has a lot to live up to after making a €30 million move, but most definitely made the perfect start, bombing up and down the right as Chelsea used their width to good effect.

Andrew O'Brien (Bolton Wanderers): Was named as the local paper's Player of the Season last term, and began the season in equally fine form as he proved a thorn in Stoke City's attempted attacks.

David Wheater (Middlesbrough): A defender in the old-school mould. Not the most elegant of players on the ball, but can tackle well, and possesses an aerial threat from set-play. Netted 'Boro's first goal with twenty minutes left on the clock after having a goal disallowed in the first half for alleged shoving.

Ashley Cole (Chelsea): Flourished under Scolari's regime, returning to his scintillating days donning the Arsenal red. Mirrored Bosingwa on the opposite flank, attacked well, and defended stubbornly.

Midfielders

Deco (Chelsea): What a debut. The Portuguese international was a revelation in his roaming role, pulling strings from start to finish as Portsmouth were made to look pedestrian. A fantastic and much deserved debut goal too.

Xabi Alonso (Liverpool): Came on after the break and turned Liverpool's display around, eventually setting up Fernando Torres with a precise pass. One fails to understand why Rafa Benitez has been looking to replace him with Gareth Barry all summer.

Gareth Barry (Aston Villa):
There may be a cloud over his future, but the Villa skipper has shown over the last four days that he is not going to let it affect his game. Helped set up three goals as Villa romped to a 4-2 win.

Samir Nasri (Arsenal): Was everywhere. His link-up play with Clichy was so well-rehearsed it looked as though the playmaker had been a Gunner for years, rather than weeks. Capped his debut by rounding off a typical Arsenal move with a goal in the opening three minutes.

Strikers

Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa): A superb seven minute hat-trick heaped more misery on a Manchester City side already under pressure. If he can get to 20 for the season, Villa might well finish in the top five.

Dean Ashton (West Ham United): The strong centre forward scored both of West Ham goals in their victory over Wigan. The first was pure power, the second was from close range. Would have been happy to have sealed a brace within the first ten minutes, especially as it was under the watchful eye of England head coach Fabio Capello, unfortunate to have his day ruined by injury.

Given

Bosingwa O'Brien Wheater Cole

Deco Alonso Barry Nasri

Ashton Agbonlahor

Managers: Luiz Felipe Scolari & Phil Brown, for impressive Premier League debuts.

Those Who Came Close

Joe Cole (Chelsea)
Mikel Arteta (Everton)
Danny Guthrie (Newcastle United)
Geovanni (Hull City)
Boaz Myhill (Hull City)
Michael Turner (Hull City)
Johan Djourou (Arsenal)
Jimmy Bullard (Fulham)
Roque Santa Cruz (Blackburn Rovers)

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Nike Courage

Nike Courage - Rooney - Nike wallpaper

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Man Utd 1-1 Newcastle Highlights


Manchester United made an unconvincing start to the defence of their Premier League title as they were held at Old Trafford by an impressive Newcastle.

The hosts were denied a penalty when James Milner appeared to handle, but Newcastle took a first-half lead when Obafemi Martins powered home a header.

Manchester United levelled only two minutes later when Darren Fletcher converted Ryan Giggs’ left-wing cross.

Nemanja Vidic headed against the bar, but Newcastle fully deserved a point.


First Half


Second Half


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Chelsea 4-0 Portsmouth Highlights


Luiz Felipe Scolari’s reign as Chelsea boss started in style with an impressive win against Portsmouth.

Joe Cole slid home Michael Ballack’s pass after 12 minutes and Nicolas Anelka headed in Deco’s cross from close range in the 26th minute.

Frank Lampard added the third from the spot on the stroke of half-time after Sylvain Distin handled.

And Deco crowned a superb Chelsea debut with a swerving shot from 25 yards a minute from the end.

Scolari hopes to bring a more attractive brand of football to Stamford Bridge - and his new charges certainly delivered in their first Premier League game.


First Half Highlights



Second Half Highlights


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West Ham vs Wigan Highlights: EPL Highlights

After two strikes in the first ten minutes West Ham should have won the match comfortably. But Wigan had other ideas and they fought back till the end, hammers were lucky to win this game.
England boss Fabio Capello saw Dean Ashton score twice to help West Ham make a winning start to the season.

Ashton collected Julien Faubert’s early cross and turned past Paul Scharner before firing into the roof of the net.

The striker then scored from close range after Wigan failed to clear Faubert’s left-wing corner.

Eygpt striker Amr Zaki pulled a goal back with a stunning left-foot volley on his Wigan debut but also missed three golden opportunities to equalise.

West Ham boss Alan Curbishley began the day as the bookmakers’ favourite to be the first Premier League manager sacked this season and had nine first-team players already sidelined through injury.

Highlights




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