Monday, January 30, 2012

Massimiliano Benassi

It seemed like a foregone conclusion. Inter had been on fire, winning their previous seven Serie A matches. Lecce found themselves at the other end of the table, but managed to exact revenge for their 4-1 trouncing at San Siro earlier in the season with a surprise 1-0 win over Claudio Ranieri's men. Serse Cosmi will have Massimiliano Benassi to thank, with the 30-year-old keeping Inter's all-star cast at bay for 90 minutes. 

Dazzled David de Gea and Suarez

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea turned in another disappointing performance as the Red Devils suffered a 2-1 FA Cup defeat to Liverpool on Saturday. And as he watched from the stands, Luis Suarez, who is currently serving an eight-match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra, came up with the secret ingredient - a doughnut, for which De Gea is known to have a craving.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Bayern Munich's transfer 'bomb' backfires

On Thursday, Bayern Munich revealed that they were set to announce the signing of a "bomb" striker, leaving the football world on the edge of its collective seat. A variety of names were touted as potential arrivals, only for the Bavarians' official website to announce that it was the public - Bayern's 12th man, and they were simply seeking publicity.

Sergio Ramos sees red for Real again

Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos has been making the headlines lately, but for all the wrong reasons it seems. Following on from accusations of a bust-up with coach Jose Mourinho in the aftermath of the defeat to Barcelona in last week's Copa del Rey last-eight clash, he became a new record holder on Wednesday night - his dismissal for a raised arm on Sergio Busquets was his 13th red card for Los Blancos, beating one-time Madrid stalwart Fernando Hierro's previous high of 12. Unwanted or not, it's still a prize fit for a bull, right?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wenger changes send Van Persie packing

Robin van Persie was forced to take to Facebook on Tuesday to dispel rumours of a rift between himself and Arsene Wenger after the Dutchman was visibly flabbergasted on Sunday when his boss replaced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - Arsenal's best player on the day - with Andrey Arshavin, whose feeble defending cost his side the game. Could the 28-year-old be at the end of his tether in north London?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Super Mario keeps Man City riding high

'Super' Mario Balotelli emerged from the bench against Tottenham Hotspur and soon left his mark on the game: winning and scoring a 95th-minute penalty. However, Spurs boss Harry Redknapp was left fuming as he was adamant the Italian should have been sent off for a stamp on Scott Parker's head moments earlier.





Sunday, January 22, 2012

Boateng whipped out of shape

The girlfriend of AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, Melissa Satta, has claimed that the couple's frisky sex life - where she "likes to take control" - is the real reason behind the player's recent injury troubles, after the Rossoneri ruled the 24-year-old out for four weeks with a 'muscular problem'.

Friday, January 20, 2012

PSG drawn towards Paolo Maldini

Abramovich adds another pawn to his chessboard

There seems no stopping Andre Villas-Boas and his rebuilding plans at Chelsea, as the arrival of Gary Cahill is likely to be the first of many through the revolving door.

However, the manager's policy of squad rotation and the disposal of several experienced heads from the team has made for an uncertain state of affairs - almost as much so as David Luiz's defending.
The ruthless style exhibited by the 34-year-old gaffer sees the Brazilian stopper likely to become the sacrificial lamb, while Frank Lampard remains in the cold despite his recent goalscoring form.

But chairman Roman Abramovich has come up with a solution - treat the game as a chess board!

Enter Ashley Cole as the queen, John Terry as the king and an unhappy Lampard as a ... rook? Told you it was confusing - and that's not even taking into account the conundrum involving Didier Drogba or Fernando Torres. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pepe's madness hits Mourinho where it hurts

Pepe was the villain for Jose Mourinho as his play-acting and perseverance in his attempts to injure Lionel Messi only hampered Real Madrid's chances of retaining the Copa del Rey, as they went down 2-1 to Barcelona in the quarter-final first leg.

AC Milan bring back the wrong Merkel


AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi will recognise the name of his side's latest signing, but will be relieved it is Alexander Merkel and not Angela coming to bail him and his team out.

The former Italian prime minister had economic problems in his political career, which were addressed and aided by the German chancellor.

On this occasion, however, a 19-year-old playmaker has been drafted back to the Giuseppe Meazza on a loan deal to help with a crisis on the pitch.

Merkel will act as much-needed midfield cover for injured pair Gennaro Gattuso and Alberto Aquilani, and may find himself featuring for the Scudetto holders regularly as Kevin Prince-Boateng has also picked up a knock.

Unlucky Angela, there's always the summer transfer window ...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Guardiola's jar of players bordering on empty

There must be another attacker in there somewhere... somewhere... 
Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola might have scooped up the Coach of the Year award at the 2011 Fifa Ballon d'Or Gala in Zurich last week, but the Catalan trainer has little reason for optimism at the moment.

After previous injuries to Ibrahim Afellay and David Villa, the Blaugrana also lost Pedro and Andreu Fontas due to various physical problems last week.

Additionally, Brazilian full-back Maxwell left the club for Paris Saint-Germain earlier in the week, while Seydou Keita has been included in Mali's 2012 Afcon squad.

This has left Guardiola with selection problems ahead of Sunday's away game against Betis and the 40-year-old has to dig deep to find 11 players... 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Barbara sticks with Pato & boots Tevez

It seemed like the transfer saga that would never end. Will Carlos Tevez finally get his wish and swap Manchester City for AC Milan? Will Paris Saint-Germain get their trophy-signing and bring Alexandre Pato to Parc des Princes?
It appeared salvation had finally arrived on Thursday. Reports emerged that PSG had agreed a fee for Pato and the Italian champions had already lined up a ready-made replacement in the form of Tevez.

But then it all fell apart. Pato announced that he had no intention of leaving his 'home' in Milan, and any move Massimiliano Allegri would make for Tevez had stalled.

The powers that be stepped in. Barbara Berlusconi, AC Milan board member and the daughter of Italy's mercurial politician, put the kibosh on any deal, unwilling to lose her boyfriend to Tevez, a less aesthetically pleasing alternative.

I guess we have her to blame for an inevitable 18 further days of speculation ... 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Tweet

The Samba star Redknapp wants

Never 'eard of 'im, never 'eard of 'im, don't know him, Samba? We'll 'av 'im

With Tottenham's search for a defender well-documented, it seems Harry Redknapp has met his match in the most ironic of circumstances.
Fresh from his insightful analysis of Santos and Brazil midfielder Ganso, where he claimed to have never heard of the young star, his knowledge of Samba footballers seems to have redeemed itself.
However, it is the signature of Blackburn and Congo defender Christopher Samba that has now stirred his imagination. The burly stopper has long been linked with moves away from Ewood Park after forging a hugely successful career so far in the Premier League.

But despite there being no question of his ability in bolstering the Lilywhite's rearguard, or his name, he maybe doesn't have the guile or flair of his fellow contemporaries as such ...  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Balotelli and the Mirror

A Messi vision of the future for Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo

        On Monday evening, Barcelona star Lionel Messi once again stole the show as he was voted the best player in the world for the third year in succession during the annual Fifa Ballon d'Or Gala in Zurich.

The Argentina international thus followed in the footsteps of former France star Michel Platini to become only the second player in history to win the award three years in a row.

Two of the main personalities of the football world who weren't present at the ceremony at the Kongresshaus were Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho and his compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo, nominated for the Coach of the Year and Player of the Year awards respectively.

The duo opted not to attend as they prepare for Tuesday's Copa del Rey away match against Malaga, and was possibly watching the event unfold on television.

Neither of the two won in their respective categories, but perhaps they will have better luck in the next few years ...

 

Maxi Lopez story with AC Milan

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cantona, Sir Bobby follow Scholes out of retirement?

Fergie: Don't worry Paul - you won't be the oldest in my team by February!
 Hours before the weekend's Mancunian derby, Manchester United dropped a bombshell by revealing that manager Sir Alex Ferguson had dragged Paul Scholes out of retirement to aid his midfield crisis.

Despite a couple of shaky moments, the 37-year-old debutant looked good on the ball, and showcased the same tenacity that defined his career during his first stint.
Apparently fed up with his youthful side's anaemic performances, Ferguson is looking to bring club legends Eric Cantona and Sir Bobby Charlton's back to Old Trafford.

With Wayne Rooney's form waxing and waning with every passing game, Charlton and Cantona's eyes for goal could come in useful - they netted over 300 goals for the club between them.

Let's just hope the duo aren't suffering from persistent hip problems.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Thierry Henry's return to ignite Arsenal

Opposing defenders are already quaking in their boots as they dare to look at the Arsenal team sheet.

Thierry Henry standing alongside Robin van Persie. The Frenchman is the Gunners' all-time leading scorer and the Dutchman has just broken his returning team-mate's record for the most goals in a calendar year at the north London club.
Arsene Wenger hopes that his on-loan signing from the New York Red Bulls will rediscover his scoring prowess in the Gunners' front line.

From 1999 to 2007, Henry terrorised Premier League defences, scoring 174 goals in 254 appearances and winning the league's Golden Boot award four times.

While scoring goals may not be a problem for Arsenal, they are among the league's worst in goals conceded. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Mou, CR7 & Perez cannot bear to see Barca scoop more awards

PEREZ: Guys, guys! We're losers, guys!

Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo will not be attending the Ballon d'Or gala on Monday in Zurich.

The official line from the club is that the pair will be too busy focusing on the Copa del Rey round of 16 second-leg against Malaga the following evening.

Zinedine Zidane and Emilio Butragueno will represent the Spanish giants at the star-studded event, which will see Ronaldo battle it out with Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Xavi for the prestigious award of best player in the world.

Mourinho will be up against Catalan counterpart Pep Guardiola, with Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson completing the shortlist for best coach.

One has to praise the Portuguese duo's professionalism to shun the glitz and the glamour, yet the pessimist in us all will wonder whether the real reason for the no-show is the unwillingness to watch Barcelona win another double.

Firmagon animation

 
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Animation by: Omar Momani and Sameer Timoshenko Aburezeq

Friday, January 6, 2012

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson drinks through the New Year




Sir Alex Ferguson was left needing a stiff drink over the New Year period after watching his Manchester United team crash to successive defeats.

The Premier League champions had the chance to go into 2012 top of the table with what appeared to be the easiest match of the season - at home to basement club Blackburn.

It was not to be. Yakubu sent the relegation candidates into a two-goal lead, before the hosts got back on level terms. Fate intervened and a late Jack Hanley effort gave Rovers an unlikely 3-2 victory at Old Trafford.

Four days later it was a similar story. A lacklustre display at the Sports Direct Arena saw Newcastle run out 3-0 winners, with Phil Jones scoring a comical own goal to compound matters. 


Liverpool's Pepe Reina hands Manchester City a tasty meal

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

'Duck, everybody' - Ancelotti's on the hunt


 Carlo Ancelotti has been appointed as the new coach of Paris Saint Germain, and is expected to go on the offensive this January.

With the Qatari Investment Authority backing the big-spending Ligue 1 side, the Italian coach may well go back to former club AC Milan for transfer targets.
Alexandre Pato had a frustrating 2011 through injuries and a dip in form, and has been linked with a move from the Giuseppe Meazza.

Will Ancelotti use PSG's financial firepower to ensnare The Duck this January?

Lampard & Terry refuse to boogie with AVB


Last month Andre Villas-Boas dismissed reports that he had asked his Chelsea players to include him in their goal celebrations as nothing more than sprurious speculation.
But on Monday afternoon his players, instructed or not, did swarm to their manager on the touchline to give him a great big hug after Ramires slotted home the opening goal against Wolves.

However, while David Luiz, Ashley Cole, Ramires and Raul Meireles were all keen to boogie with their boss, stalwarts John Terry and Frank Lampard stood bemused as their team-mates crowded round their manager.

Happy 2012