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The Soccer Thread
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Bendrix
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2008 6:16 pm    Post subject: The Soccer Thread Reply with quote

Ok, after discussion in the 'hello, my name is...' thread, I thought it might be worthwhile making a Soccer thread (Iíve had a good look and there doesnít appear to already be one, my apologies if Iím mistaken).

Outside of the top European leagues and world competitions my knowledge isnít particularly great, and Iím ashamed to admit that I hardly know a thing about the MLS. I understand that the sport probably wonít be the most popular on this forum, but by having one thread encompassing all the leagues, hopefully we might get some good discussion.


Useful links:

The English Premier League (and English and Scottish Soccer in general):
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport/
http://www.skysports.com/football/0,19521,11065,00.html

For more in-depth analysis and contentious discussion (the level of quality in sports journalism over here is just shocking), youíre best off visiting the national newspaper websites. The blog at http://www.101greatgoals.com/blog/ does a good job at collating the dayís most interesting articles.

I donít personally subscribe to any podcasts, but I know that The Timesí ĎThe Game,í podcast is very popular and itís presented by two of the more respected European soccer pundits, Gabriele Marcotti and Guillem Balague. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/audio_video/podcasts/thegame/article3247310.ece

European Soccer, including Italy (Serie A) and Spain (La Liga):
Not particularly great coverage, but Eurosport and Sky Sports run all the major stories and league tables.
http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/football/
http://www.skysports.com/football/0,19521,11065,00.html

South America
Iím not too sure about decent sites for new updates and weekly coverage, but Tim Vickery from bbc sport writes an interesting weekly blog on South American (and specifically Brazilian) football, from and English perspective.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/world_football/default.stm

News Updates/Rumor Mill
(World Soccer) http://newsnow.co.uk/newsfeed/?name=Football&x=5&y=8
Bearing in mind that 90% of the stories on there are rubbish. It takes a bit of time to identify the reliable sources (bbc and sky are generally good markers).

(Britain: the bbcís daily gossip column) http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/gossip_and_transfers/default.stm

Video highlights, goals etc.
http://101greatgoals.com/ (it provides links to goal videos from such sites as youtube and d1g)


Iíve left out American sports sites as Iím sure people on here have a better idea of whatís good and whatís not than I do. So let the discussion / abuse of the sport commence... Any questions, please feel free to fire away.
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SheriffWannaBe
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2008 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nobody has to respond to this, but I just felt like stating my piece Smile

I like watching soccer a lot, but never start talking soccer w/ me. I will be more lost than a gerbil trying to find its way out of a circular maze.
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Justin
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2008 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sheriff27 wrote:
Nobody has to respond to this, but I just felt like stating my piece Smile

I like watching soccer a lot, but never start talking soccer w/ me. I will be more lost than a gerbil trying to find its way out of a circular maze.


geaiseiohjbewisj soccer, sjodigj3eriobjsdjjj?
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2008 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sheriff27 wrote:
Nobody has to respond to this, but I just felt like stating my piece Smile

I like watching soccer a lot, but never start talking soccer w/ me. I will be more lost than a gerbil trying to find its way out of a circular maze.

Now why'd you have to go and pull Richard Gere into this discussion? Confused
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shoewizard
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2008 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I lived in Hong Kong in the mid-late 80's, I got into Soccer.......because it was the only thing on the Sports Channels to watch. That and Tennis and Auto Racing, and Badminton, and Ping Pong.

It was fun watching the world cup in the Pubs in Hong Kong.....a lot of crazy soccer fans there from all over Europe......especially the UK of course.

But I haven't really followed it much at all since the mid 90's, except for the world cup a bit.

Which league is considered the best league nowadays? Back then it was probably the Italian League that generally got the best stars from around the world.
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Bendrix
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 3:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My opinion is bound to be slightly biased as I don't currently have the opportunity to watch other leagues outside of England week in week out, but I think that the general consensus is that it would be between the English Premier League and the Spanish La Liga, probably favouring the EPL at this moment.

I don't think that the Italian League has fully recovered from the 2006 match fixing scandal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Calciopoli_Scandal) - the league was a non-contest last year with Internazionale cruising to the title, finishing 22 points above second place Roma. It looks like it will be a similar situation again this year (although it may not be quite so convincing). There is also still a problem with hooliganism, something that it seems the English game has stamped out (on a domestic stage anyway, we sadly still have problems in European and World tournaments).

Sections of the English media hold a very arrogant view that the EPL is by far the best in the world, probably leading to the ridiculous expectations and overrating of the English National team. Detractors comment on the hold 'The Big Four,' of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, have on the game. When following the league, you have to accept that realistically, they are the only four teams who have a chance of finishing the season as champions. I don't think that this is too dissimilar to the other leagues - whilst there is slightly more variety in who finished in the top four in Spain, the title is still very much a battle between Real Madrid and Barcelona. It is something that is often debated over here.

Interesting point about the major stars thing - I think that they are probably shared equally among the top 3 European leagues at the moment. Italy and Spain have definitely enjoyed a dominance over the South American market when it comes to signing young talent, with the view that the EPL is an incredibly hard league to adapt to. This could well change over the next few years though, as a number of South American players appear to be having great success in England.

Quote:
I like watching soccer a lot, but never start talking soccer w/ me. I will be more lost than a gerbil trying to find its way out of a circular maze.


Ha, I can understand that, I'm exactly the same with American Football. It's interesting that we generally don't use a lot of statistics when discussing soccer over here. If you were to compare, say two defenders, you'd talk about the technical, mental and physical skills/weaknesses each may have, without having any statistics to support your opinion. In that way I think it is easier to follow than most sports (once you understand the basic rules), and it gives the chance for everyone to have an opinion (although whether that's a good thing or not, I don't know!)
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coolwater
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well,I'm not a big Soccer fan, however, Steven Gerrard and Fernado Torres of Liverpool FC are my favorite players .

Premier League is Hot sports topic in Asia.
Since some Korean Players ( J.S Park of ManUTD , Y.P Lee of Hotsper) Have Joined that League,P- League Popularity was like rocket high in here.
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moviegeekjn
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bendrix wrote:
My opinion is bound to be slightly biased as I don't currently have the opportunity to watch other leagues outside of England week in week out, but I think that the general consensus is that it would be between the English Premier League and the Spanish La Liga, probably favouring the EPL at this moment.


I wish we had more access to this brand of soccer here...

When I was last in France in 2005, I got to watch the European Cup final ... where Liverpool made a comeback to upset Milan. I'd watch a lot more than I do now if we could see this level of play here... Mostly have to wait until the World Cup every four years to see consistently decent level.

If anyone knows of cable offering of English or other quality league play, please post in this thread.
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Bendrix
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Well,I'm not a big Soccer fan, however, Steven Gerrard and Fernado Torres of Liverpool FC are my favorite players.

Torres is having a fine first season in the EPL, he appears to have settled in very quickly. Unfortunately his good goalscoring form is about the only positive thing going for Liverpool right now.

Quote:
Since some Korean Players ( J.S Park of ManUTD , Y.P Lee of Hotsper) Have Joined that League,P- League Popularity was like rocket high in here.

As a Manchester United fan I quite like Park-Ji Sung, it's a horrible cliche, but he's got a great work rate and adds something different to our midfield. Saying that, he's been awful since his return from a long injury layoff, hopefully he can recapture his old form with more games as he was showing signs of good improvement before the injury.

Quote:
I wish we had more access to this brand of soccer here...
When I was last in France in 2005, I got to watch the European Cup final

It is rather brilliant at the moment, I think I sometimes take the level of soccer for granted - if only we had great baseball over her too! Manchester United and Arsenal are playing such consistent, fast-paced attacking football at the moment, it's a joy to watch. I do love the American Sports' League structure, but one of the things I think you miss out on is the equivalent of our FA Cup in Soccer. Any English team can qualify for it, so in the early rounds you can have a Premier League team playing against an Amateur team, full of players with ordinary day jobs. Again I use a horrible cliche, but there seems to be a certain 'spirit of the cup,' which every so often inspires a great giant-killing, making for fantastic viewing.

And I think you saw one of the all-time great Champions League finals, a truly incredible comeback as you say.

I'm not sure about which package would suit you, but these are the three main stations that I've read about. Wikipedia is quite useful in breaking down what each offers. I don't know price details but I think that Setanta is pretty expensive.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Setanta_Sports_North_America
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fox_Soccer_Channel
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GOL_TV
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moviegeekjn
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bendrix wrote:

I'm not sure about which package would suit you, but these are the three main stations that I've read about. Wikipedia is quite useful in breaking down what each offers. I don't know price details but I think that Setanta is pretty expensive.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Setanta_Sports_North_America
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fox_Soccer_Channel
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GOL_TV


Looks like I can get Fox Soccer via Cox cable.. Just checked schedule and weekday games seem to run during the afternoon (working hours). Today they have Chelsea v. Reading at 11 AM followed by Arsenal v. Newcastle United and Manchester United v. Tottenham Hotspur at 3 PM.

Saturday morning they have two games listed as "live": Portsmout v. Chelsea and then Liverpool v. Sunderland. Any heads up on special matches would be appreciated... Appears that Fox Soccer rebroadcasts games on this channel in addition to the live matches.
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AZ SnakePit
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bendrix wrote:
Detractors comment on the hold 'The Big Four,' of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, have on the game. When following the league, you have to accept that realistically, they are the only four teams who have a chance of finishing the season as champions. I don't think that this is too dissimilar to the other leagues - whilst there is slightly more variety in who finished in the top four in Spain, the title is still very much a battle between Real Madrid and Barcelona. It is something that is often debated over here.

Be grateful you're not in Scotland, where the two Glasgow teams, Rangers and Celtic, have won the league every year since 1984-85. That's 22 consecutive seasons now. Indeed, since I was born [April 1966], they've won 37 of 41. The concept of enforced competitive parity is utterly unknown in the European leagues; there's little or no revenue sharing and no draft to try and level the playing field.
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Stuart
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bendrix wrote:
The concept of enforced competitive parity is utterly unknown in the European leagues; there's little or no revenue sharing and no draft to try and level the playing field.


Which is part of the reason why my interest in soccer is at an all time low. I Used to love it back when i was a little 'un, making the trip to see Chris Waddle destroy a team of curly permed scousers. The days where contact was legal, where players werent on stupid salaries and played for pride, played for the shirt, played for the TEAM.

Now in just about every single league thats worth anything, there are 3 or 4 teams at the top who are financially rich and the rest have no chance of catching up. The rich teams are getting richer, and the poor teams are getting poorer.

(A NON-bitter Sheffield Wednesday fan Shocked )
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Bendrix
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry for not posting in here for a while.

Quote:
Any heads up on special matches would be appreciated... Appears that Fox Soccer rebroadcasts games on this channel in addition to the live matches.


Yeah no problem. That 101gg blog that I linked to further up the page sometimes previews the weekends big games, but I'll try to remember to give you a heads up whenever I can.

Some of this weekend's games:
Chelsea v Liverpool (sun) - two of the 'big four' in action. Might not be the most enthralling of encounters though. Chelsea are defending what I think is an incredible 75 match unbeaten (in home league games) streak, whilst Liverpool ae hoping to bounce back into the top 4, most likely without their star forward Torres, who looks set to miss the game through injury.
Man Utd v Man City (sun) - the Manchester derby, which will have even greater significance as it marks 50 years of the Munich air disaster. Bound to be a nasty atmosphere at this one.

Sevilla v Barcelona (sun) - very difficult test for Barcelona as they look to carry on the momentum gained from last week and try and close the gap at the top from Real Madrid. Should hopefully be a great game.

Quote:
Be grateful you're not in Scotland, where the two Glasgow teams, Rangers and Celtic, have won the league every year since 1984-85. That's 22 consecutive seasons now. Indeed, since I was born [April 1966], they've won 37 of 41. The concept of enforced competitive parity is utterly unknown in the European leagues; there's little or no revenue sharing and no draft to try and level the playing field.


Ha, yes, it is a ridiculous record.

Quote:
Which is part of the reason why my interest in soccer is at an all time low. I Used to love it back when i was a little 'un, making the trip to see Chris Waddle destroy a team of curly permed scousers. The days where contact was legal, where players werent on stupid salaries and played for pride, played for the shirt, played for the TEAM.

Now in just about every single league thats worth anything, there are 3 or 4 teams at the top who are financially rich and the rest have no chance of catching up. The rich teams are getting richer, and the poor teams are getting poorer.


Do you both think that the adoption of American league features, trying to bring about, to borrow your phrase as you put it so well, enforced competitive parity, is viable over here and would be the way forward? I think with the amount of league teams you have over here, you could never set up a finite club, super league, but ideas such as a salary cap could work. Something has to happen, whether it will just be a natural change or not. I agree with the club loyalty comment, players are definitely more mercenary these days.

As a lifelong United fan, I admit that I don't quite feel it as hard as most. Other than the life-long brand of a glory supporter, I don't have the same problems with seeing my team on the field suffer because of an unfair system - we get the benefits of it. The spiralling ticket costs are ridiculous though. We used to be comparatively inexpensive, but the recent price hikes are alienating fans - there seems to be no end to it. I'm no longer a season ticket holder as we moved down south several years ago, but for some of my friends and family who are, this will probably be their last season watching the club. The treatment of supporters as a result of the obscene amount of money in the game is terrible, and unless there are radical changes I can't see it improving. [/melodramatic post for the day]

Speaking of that, it appears that the clubs are in discussion again over the possibility of holding fixtures overseas. I've no problem with them having something like the League Cup final around the world, but meaningful league ties and the proposal cited in that article is a no-no for me.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/7232390.stm
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Stuart
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2008 6:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I dont think directly enforcing anything from american sports would ensure competetive parity, i just dont think you can do that in soccer because its structured in a totally different way, always has been and always will be.

I have no objection to having a big group of teams in the league, thats always going to happen, but look back 20 years and it was 4 different teams, what worries me is that its now so hard to break into the top ones because of the financial clout involved. This is creating disinterest amongst fans of teams not in the elite.

What makes the US standout over soccer for me, is there is massive interest in their sports at 'grass-roots' level (IE, college sports) and their is a chance of teams seeing their local team in action on tele if the game sells out. But over here you HAVE to buy skytv to see your team if they are lucky to be one of the televised games, but those who cant afford it are stuck.

Football over the years was built around the community and the working class man, now its all businessmen, £50 tickets and £2 for a crappy arse pie with hairs in it.
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Bendrix
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I promised I'd give a heads up for special matches, the champions league returns this evening with the first round of the knockout stages. Not sure which games you're able to view, tonight's clash between liverpool and inter should hopefully be an interesting one.

I also just read that Paolo Maldini made his 1000th appearance for club and country last weekend; a truly incredible career.
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Justin
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bendrix wrote:
As I promised I'd give a heads up for special matches, the champions league returns this evening with the first round of the knockout stages. Not sure which games you're able to view, tonight's clash between liverpool and inter should hopefully be an interesting one.

I also just read that Paolo Maldini made his 1000th appearance for club and country last weekend; a truly incredible career.


How many games do they have in 1 season? Sorry stupid question... Embarassed
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Call me when it's time for the World Cup. Other than that, I've watched a lot of Soccer, and the only time I'll actually watch a match is when one of the big "FA CUP" teams is playing another, and I just happen to stumble upon it.
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moviegeekjn
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bendrix wrote:
As I promised I'd give a heads up for special matches, the champions league returns this evening with the first round of the knockout stages. Not sure which games you're able to view, tonight's clash between liverpool and inter should hopefully be an interesting one.
.


Appreciate the heads up... Now checking Cox listing

Manchester v. Arsenal is only one listed (in U.S. Manchester is considered "sexier" than a Liverpool match Rolling Eyes ) It might be broadcast another day tho.
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Bendrix
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
How many games do they have in 1 season? Sorry stupid question...

Not a stupid question at all, I'm not too sure myself sorry! In Italy there are 38 league games. The Italian Cup is always changing formats, but I think that this year his team AC Milan could play a maximum of 7 cup games. Then there can be anywhere between 6 and 16 games in the Champions League. Finally there can be additional odd games, such as Super Cups and Club World Championships! I'm even more unsure on how many national team games are played each year, I would guess somewhere between 10 and 20 depending on whether it's a European Championships/World Cup year.

After all that babbling, I'd say that a first teamer would average anywhere between 40 and 50 games in an injury free season. Bearing in mind that Maldini is now 39, retired from international football and is no longer an automatic first team player for Milan, he's still averaged around 30 appearances in the last 3 seasons. He's Italy's (the national side) most capped player ever. Apart from being one of the greatest, if not the greatest, defender of his generation, what's amazing is that in this modern game with very little club loyalty, AC Milan is the only team he has ever played for. For him to be playing at a fairly high standard for one of the best teams in the world at this age, is incredible.

Erm.. excuse the long snooze fest of a response, I hope you can find the answer to your original question somewhere in there!

Quote:
Call me when it's time for the World Cup. Other than that, I've watched a lot of Soccer, and the only time I'll actually watch a match is when one of the big "FA CUP" teams is playing another, and I just happen to stumble upon it.

For me, the Champions League is up there with the World Cup for my level of enjoyment. The meeting of such diverse cultures and playing styles that you get in the World Cup is something incredibly special though.

EDIT: I somehow forgot to include the relevant quotes. Not really needed but I'm a perfectionist (bad grammar aside)!


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just wondering what you made of the Eduardo "tackle" and Arsene Wengers response to it. Being a lower league fan ive seen my share of appaling tackles (including one on saturday) which was imo a worse tackle than Martin Taylors but luckily didnt cripple our player.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ceannsaich wrote:
How many games do they have in 1 season? Sorry stupid question... Embarassed

"It depends" is the best answer to that, because it depends how far teams get in the various knockout competitions. If you lose in the first round of everything, you'll find yourself playing a lot less than if you make it all the way to the finals. For example, here's the games played by Manchester United in the 2006-07 season [excluding pre-season friendlies]

Premier League: 38
FA Cup: 8 [reached final]
Carling Cup: 2 [lost in fourth round]
Champions League: 12 [reached semi-final]

All told, that's 60 games. The Carling Cup is very much the least important of these competitions, and many teams will run out their second-string players there. Manchester United ended up losing to Southend United, though their team that day did include Ronaldo.
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Bendrix
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
in U.S. Manchester is considered "sexier" than a Liverpool match

Nothing wrong with that from a Manchester United fan's perspective. Laughing I know exactly what you mean though, we have to put up with similar things over here. Of the return legs, the AC Milan v Arsenal tie is nicely poised at 0-0, so that could be a cracking game to watch (Tuesday 4th March). It's been a terrible few weeks for Arsenal yet they're still top of the league and still have a good chance of progressing in the Champions League, March will be a huge month for them. I think the Inter v Liverpool second leg is a week later (as AC Milan and Inter groundshare), that could also well be worth a watch.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
I just wondering what you made of the Eduardo "tackle" and Arsene Wengers response to it. Being a lower league fan ive seen my share of appaling tackles (including one on saturday) which was imo a worse tackle than Martin Taylors but luckily didnt cripple our player.


I think when viewed in real time it doesn't look too bad a tackle and there's the argument that those things will always look worse in slow motion/pictures. That's probably not the point, however, it's terrible that his foot was that high, studs up. You're exactly right in what you say though, there are worse tackles happening pretty much every week, it was always going to take a freak accident like that to properly bring attention to it and hopefully bring some sort of a resolution. There's always the fear that through strict refereeing of tackling, you could almost turn it into a non-contact sport, which I think is a rubbish view. The sooner that those studs up tackles are taken out of the game, the better.

The Wenger point I have mixed feelings on. While it was a terrible thing to say (for those of you who didn't see it, he said that Martin Taylor - the player who's tackle broke Eduardo's leg - 'should never play football again'), you might almost be able to excuse it as a heat of the moment thing, which in fairness he has since retracted. That aside, it was incredibly unprofessional of him and I hope that Fergie would not have come out with something similar had it been one of our players. I think Arsene Wenger is a great manager, but there's definitely an argument to there being an unprofessional attitude / bad sportsmanship streak underlying the various Arsenal squads throughout the years of his management. At this minute I won't go on - maybe this is just Manchester United bias talking! People could well say the same about our team.
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Bendrix
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apologies for the lack of recent updates in this thread.

English Premier League

For Americans interested in the EPL, the so called big 4 are all in action against each other this Sunday:

Manchester United v Liverpool
Chelsea v Arsenal

This is the kind of weekend that our media thrives on, the amount of time you hear the phrase 'super sunday' the whole week before the fixtures take place makes you want to cry. Unfortunately, for all the hype, the matches invariably disappoint as spectacles; the amount of pressure on teams not to lose usually results in cagey, low-scoring games.

With 8 games left in the league season, the top of the table currently looks like this (i'm sorry, i'm awful with code so won't even attempt to use it):

P GD PTS
1 Man Utd 30 46 70
2 Arsenal 30 36 67
3 Chelsea 30 31 65
4 Liverpool 30 34 59


Man Utd will be looking to extend their lead at the top, while Liverpool will be looking to haul themselves back in the race for a top 3 position (the title is most likely out of their reach), after a great run of 5 straight league wins. The north-west Man Utd v Liverpool derby is pretty big, as there's a great deal of animosity between the two clubs. At the very least there's always a good atmosphere at the games.

Chelsea enter their game protecting an unbelievable 70-odd game home unbeaten streak in the league, and will be hoping to bounce back from dropped points at tottenham last night (a highly recommended watch if you can catch a replay), as they continue their late title charge. Arsenal have now drawn 4 league games on the bounce, but they still have to quality, if not the strength in depth, to win it.

Champions League

The Champions League quarter and semi final draws have been made, and look like this:

Roma v Man Utd,
Schalke 04 v Barcelona, (the winners playing each other)

Arsenal v Liverpool,
Fenerbahce v Chelsea, (the winners playing each other)

Man Utd, Barcelona and Chelsea will be strong favourites to progress, but as is the brilliance of cup football, nothing is a foregone conclusion. The Arsenal v Liverpool match should be a cracking tie, Arsenal playing fantastically well in Europe knocking out AC Milan to reach the quarter finals, while Liverpool remain European Cup specialists under manager Rafa Benitez, who always seems to get his tactics right in these big games.

The English FA Cup

It's been an incredible year for the FA Cup, with a semi-final draw that includes only 1 EPL team (Portsmouth), and 3 from the Championship (the league below the EPL).

Saturday, 05 April 2008
West Brom v Portsmouth
Sunday, 06 April 2008
Barnsley v Cardiff

The two favourites for the cup, Man Utd and Chelsea, were surprisingly dumped out of it last round by Portsmouth and Barnsley respectively. That's why the cup is loved so much here as results like those are such shocks. To put it in perspective, the last time three non-top flight (EPL) teams reached the semi-finals was 1908:

1912: Barnsley's FA Cup win
1927: Cardiff's FA Cup win
1939: Portsmouth's FA Cup win
1968: West Brom's last FA Cup win

The gulf in spending power between those teams, though less so Portsmouth, compared to the top EPL teams is astronomical, yet they have brilliantly out-performed several teams much better than them on paper, to reach the semis. It should hopefully be an exciting end to the cup.

Other:

The EPL and other English league tables can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/sport

There are around 9 teams that are in danger of being relegated from the EPL.

Internazionale still look likely to win Serie A, while Milan continue to struggle to break into the top 4 that will ensure Champions League qualification for next year.

Real Madrid remain favourites to win La Liga, with Frank Rijkaard looking more and more likely to receive the sack next summer, Jose Mourinho the favourite to take over from him at Barcelona?


As always I'm obviously happily open to requests for information on other European leagues or teams that I haven't included in this rather poor attempt at a summary. I think I'm going to have to try to follow the MLS more closely too when it restarts. Happy Easter everyone.
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stu
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Joined: 12 Aug 2006
Posts: 4492

PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Levski FC should be included in every report.
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Bendrix
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Joined: 28 Jan 2008
Posts: 119
Location: England

PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ha, I have been wanting to ask for a while now whether the poster levski is of Bulgarian descent.

Strangely enough, I don't actually know much about the Bulgarian leagues... going from wiki though, Levski are having a disappointing season and are in 3rd place, 12 points behind leaders CSKA Sofia. And that is as much as I know right now. I'll have to dig around for more in-depth Levski updates.
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