Sanford's Soccer Net Archives for January 2010

England: Carling Cup Quarter-Final Previews

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West Ham vs. Manchester United




Arsenal vs. Wigan

Spain: El Clásico Reports & Fallout

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Barcelona 5 - 0 Real Madrid
Report I
Report II

Phil Ball: No Contest

Sid Lowe: Barcelona do it their way

Tom Adams: Judgement emphatic

Phil Minshull: Where do Mourinho and Guardiola go from here?

Paolo Bandini in Italy

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As displayed in their impressive 3-1 win over Roma, the Rosanero have serious designs on the Champions League.

Josip Ilicic steals the show as Palermo flip the script.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

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Hamburg's skittish win over Stuttgart provided evidence that Bundesliga managers are not up to the standard of its players.

Armin Veh will be lucky to stay course at 'heaven and hell' Hamburg.

Uli Hesse in Germany

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You will hear few dissenting voices when you argue that the two top teams in the Bundesliga owe a good deal of their current success to their respective coaches - Thomas Tuchel, masterminding Mainz, and Jurgen Klopp, directing Dortmund.

Tim Vickery in South America

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For much of Sunday in Rio de Janeiro, televisions in bars and restaurants were all showing the massive operation of security forces and their invasion of the Alemao group of favelas. By late afternoon, though, they had switched to coverage of the penultimate round of the Brazilian Championship. Viewers were transfixed by both.

Peter Begrie: Central Focus

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The pride of the East Midlands will be featured live on Sky Sports this weekend. The region's three Championship clubs - Derby County, Nottingham Forest and Leicester City - are all in action and all three have aspirations to reach the play-offs this season.

Derby travel to Burnley on Saturday, while Leicester host Forest on Monday night, but which East Midlands side will finish highest?

Sir Alex Ferguson Vs Arsene Wenger: Who Really Is Bringing Through The Best Youngsters For Manchester United And Arsenal?

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Although it has enjoyed a revival of sorts in recent seasons, the League Cup is still not the playground of the established stars - at least not for the very best teams, and not until the later rounds.

With Arsenal to face Wigan Athletic and Manchester United clashing with West Ham United in the quarter-finals of the competition on Tuesday, both Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson are unlikely to change their regular practice of selecting a young team, a system that has generally worked well in recent years.

Anelka and the Pigeon

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Tip of the hat to J.D...

Americans On The Continent: Winning Return

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Steve Cherundolo returned from suspension to captain Hannover 96 as they defeated SC Freiburg 3-0 over the weekend.

The Rest

Americans in the UK: Dempsey At It Again

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The Fulham man scored the equalizer during Saturday's match, continuing his impressive season.

The Rest

Italy: Serie A Worst Team Of The Week

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Stefano Mauri (Lazio): Mauri has been outstanding for Lazio in the early part of the season, but things are now starting to veer off course. Expected to act as the emblem of the team, he was banished to the margins in a less than radiant game.

The Rest

Nicky Butt has high hopes for Hong Kong tryout

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Former Manchester United and Newcastle midfielder Nicky Butt says he is looking forward to playing for Hong Kong league club South China in a tryout game on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old former England international said that he and the club will make a decision about his future sometime over the next few days.

Martin Rogers and Norman Hubbard on Tottenham

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Martin Rogers:
Upstart Tottenham start new, exciting trend



Norman Hubbard:
Romantic Spurs short of solidity

FA Cup Third Round Draw: Manchester United drawn against Liverpool

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Manchester United have been drawn against Liverpool in the FA Cup. They will meet at Old Trafford in the undoubted tie of the third round. Meanwhile, Leicester City boss Sven Goran Eriksson will be given the chance to face former club Manchester City at the Walkers Stadium, while Arsenal host Championship side Leeds, who secured a memorable upset at Old Trafford last season.

Spain: El Clásico Previews, Rewind & Joy of Six

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Who: Barcelona vs. Real Madrid
Where: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
When: 3pm EST
U.S. TV: GolTV, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3
Preview I
Preview II

Sid Lowe:
Hype goes into overdrive

Graham Hunter:
The game's best rivalry


The Joy of Six: El Clásico Classics

Rewind to 2002: Figo's Great Betrayal

Real Madrid Team Bus Stoned On Arrival At Barcelona Hotel

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Publication Marca alleges that poor security allowed a group of radical Barcelona supporters, believed to be from the group known as the Boixos Nois, to attack the bus as it arrived, and a member of Los Blancos security team was struck on the neck during the incident.

The Fifth Official

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Few of us like Mondays but The Fifth Official does, for it brings with it a chance for him to point the finger and laugh. Here he pulls out the pretty, the puzzling and the downright pig-ugly from the past week in football.

England: Premier League Weekend Review, Reports & Analyses

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Manchester United put seven past Blackburn, Tottenham earned a comeback victory over Liverpool while Chelsea continued to stutter at Newcastle. Everton continued to stutter and their fans went away from Goodison Park with no winter cheer following a remarkable 4-1 defeat at the hands of newly-promoted West Brom.

Italy: Serie A Weekend Review

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Lazio missed the chance to cut AC Milan's lead at the top of the Serie A table to a point as they were held 1-1 by Catania. Inter Milan put their injury and form crisis behind them at the San Siro as they beat Parma 5-2 in a remarkable game. Antonio Di Natale scored a hat-trick as Udinese recorded an impressive win which denied Napoli a place in the top three in Serie A.

Spain: La Liga Weekend Review

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Carlos Gurpegi earned Athletic Bilbao the derby honours as they beat Osasuna 1-0 in the Primera Division. Mallorca climbed into the top six with a 2-0 win over Malaga, who have now suffered successive defeats under new coach Manuel Pellegrini. Eleven players were booked as Real Sociedad scored a goal late in each half to claim a come-from-behind 3-1 win at Sporting Gijon.

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Review

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Hugo Almeida scored a hat-trick and was then sent off as Werder Bremen won 3-0 over St Pauli. Borussia Dortmund re-established their seven-point advantage atop the Bundesliga with a 4-1 win over Borussia Monchengladbach. Bayern Munich moved into the top five for the first time this season thanks to a comfortable 4-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.

Five things we learned from the Premier League this weekend

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Tottenham's spirit mirrors Manchester United's in 1999 while Nani is stepping out of Cristiano Ronaldo's shadow.

Turkey

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Bill Clinton: A Perfect Match for 2022

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This past summer I joined thousands of fans in the stands of the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, to watch as the United States faced a strong Ghana team during the round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup.

I had changed my schedule to attend the game, following an exhilarating U.

Steve Davis: Increasing MLS playoff field is all wrong

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When it comes to MLS playoffs and the tricky business of postseason design, every structure falls into one of two categories: "imperfect" or "even more imperfect." So it is with the new format being finalized. Commissioner Don Garber and the league's board of directors are adjusting the postseason structure -- the deciders just haven't quite decided yet on the final tweaks.

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's Preview

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With a poor domestic season so far, Rafa Benitez will be looking to seal Champions League qualification as quickly as possible for Inter Milan. The Serie A side will face FC Twente at home on Wednesday, while Group A leaders Tottenham Hotspur will also face the same scenario when they face off against Bundesliga side Werder Bremen.

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Round-Up, Reports & Analyses

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Chelsea narrowly avoided being embarrassed by MSK Zilina while Arsenal were beaten away to Braga to leave their qualification in doubt. Marseille made sure of their progress from Group F behind Chelsea with a 3-0 victory over 10-man Spartak Moscow at the Luzhniki Stadium. Real Madrid secured top spot in Group G as they thrashed Ajax in Amsterdam and AC Milan join the Spanish side in the last 16 following their success away to Auxerre.

Uefa set to investigate Real Madrid duo for 'deliberate' red cards

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Uefa says it will study the match referee's report before deciding whether to charge Real Madrid players Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos for appearing to get intentional red cards in their Champions League match against Ajax.

Paul Wilson: An intentional red card is not that bad

Under article 5.

The best transfer deals in Premier League history

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The signing of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is recognised as one of the shrewdest pieces of business in Sir Alex Ferguson's entire time as United boss. The £1.5million move looks like the type of deal that will be pursued this January as managers look for bargains in another potentially quiet transfer window.

Martin Rogers: Chelsea troubled on and off the field

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This is not the story of a dramatic comeback or even the welcome avoidance of a horrifically embarrassing defeat. Instead, this is the story of how the most in-form team in Europe suddenly forgot how to play and stumbled into a crisis that threatens to ruin what looked with all certainty like a glorious season.

CFR Cluj coach Sorin Cartu puts foot through away dugout's perspex in anger

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CFR Cluj coach Sorin Cartu left viewers wondering what might happen in the dressing room at the final whistle on Tuesday night after the Romanian took out his frustration on a Swiss dugout during his side's exit from the Champions League.

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Previews

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Arsenal can clinch their place in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, while Chelsea are already through but still need to secure top spot. It looks a straight shootout between Spartak Moscow and Marseille for the second qualifying berth alongside Chelsea and the teams, currently level on six points, lock horns in an early kick-off in the Russian capital.

Kevin McCarra: Chelsea's old guard can still deliver for Roman Abramovich

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It would be ironic if trouble in coping with a relentless domestic programme lets Blues fix their attention on the Champions League.

The Funniest Football Chants

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"Two Andy Gorams, there's only two Andy Gorams"
Celtic fans on Andy Goram after it was revealed the keeper was diagnosed with schizophrenia

"Deep fry yer pizzas, were gonna deep fry yer pizzas"
Scotland fans when in Italy


"He's blond, he's slick, his name's a porno flick"

Arsenal fans on Emmanuel Petit

The Rest

Phil Ball in Spain

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With friends like that, who needs enemies? This may well have been the phrase most resonant in Juanma Lillo's head at full-time on Saturday night, when his Almeria team had just equalled the worst home defeat of all time in the history of La Liga. Pep Guardiola, sitting glumly on the bench as the eighth Barcelona goal went in, realised that he had condemned his friend and erstwhile teacher to the dole queue, just as Lillo had settled down nicely in his little house in the tiny fishing hamlet of La Fabriquilla, in Cabo de Gata, one of the hippest places still standing in the far south of Spain.

England: Monday's Premier League Report + Table

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Sunderland 2 - 2 Everton

Report




CLUB PWDLGDPTS Chelsea149141928Man Utd147701328Arsenal148241326Man City14743825Bolton14572622Tottenham14644222Sunderland14482220Stoke14617019Liverpool14545-119Newcastle14536118Blackburn14536-118Blackpool14536-618Aston Villa14455-517Everton14374116Birmingham14374-216West Brom14446-916Fulham14284-314Wigan14356-1314Wolves14239-119West Ham14167-149

Samuel Eto'o handed three-game ban for headbutting

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Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto'o has been banned for three Serie A matches for headbutting Chievo's Bostjan Cesar.

Americans On The Continent: Carlos Bocanegra Returns To Action

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Michael Bradley, Borussia Moenchengladbach (Germany)
Vs. Mainz, 2-3, 89 minutes, Yellow Card

Substitute Sami Allagui scored two goals in 13 minutes to cancel out Monchengladbach's Marco Reus's own brace and snatch a rather deserved victory for the visitors.

Americans in the UK: Rough Weekend

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Mike Grella, Carlisle United

Vs. Walsall, 2-1, (90 minutes, 1 goal)

Grella signed a loan extension that will keep him at Carlisle until the New Year. Great news for both parties as the partnership has been going very well. Grella rewarded his club on Saturday, scoring the opening goal after 26 minutes as he followed up a Simek attempt with a smashing strike.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

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Samuel Eto'o's headbutt and likely suspension may be the least of the problems facing Internazionale's beleaguered manager Rafael Benítez.

Rafael Benítez on notice after another disaster for Internazionale.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

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The notorious open-door policy at Bremen has been taken to a new extreme. Now there is merely a vast thoroughfare.

Werder Bremen: the end of an era?

Sid Lowe in Spain

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Junma Lillo is regarded by Pep Guardiola as 'the best coach' he's ever had - but after a record defeat he is again without a job.

Guardiola deals death-blow to his mentor as Barça hit eight in Almería.

Tim Vickery in South America

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A tragic, real-life soap opera unravelling in Brazilian football over recent months has been the story of Bruno, goalkeeper of Rio giants Flamengo, who is in prison accused of ordering the brutal murder of an ex-lover. Flamengo fans have found a way to extract some black humour from such horrific developments.

Georgina Turner on the EPL

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Thoughts on the weekend's action in the Barclays Premier League:

Major League Soccer: 2010 Cup Final Reports

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Colorado Rapids
2 - 1
FC Dallas

Report

Steve Davis: Colorado grinds its way to first title

Grant Wahl: Five Thoughts

Colorado finally pays attention to the Rapids

Eto'o Headbutt

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(Summary is not available.)

Spain: La Liga Weekend Review

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Barcelona leapfrogged Real to go top after an 8-0 victory at lowly Almeria. Pep Guardiola's side raced into a 5-0 lead before half-time in a hugely one-sided contest which saw Lionel Messi score a hat-trick. However, Barca's time at the top was short-lived as Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick as Madrid inflicted a 5-1 defeat on Athletic Bilbao.

Italy: Serie A Weekend Review

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A fantastic Zlatan Ibrahimovic strike saw AC Milan edge four points clear at the top of the table with a 1-0 victory over Fiorentina. Samuel Eto'o may find himself in trouble after he was filmed headbutting Chievo defender Bostjan Cesar as the defending champions suffered their second successive defeat with a 2-1 loss to heap more pressure on manager Rafael Benitez.

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Review

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Borussia Dortmund extended their lead at the top of the Bundesliga thanks to a 2-1 win at Freiburg in a dramatic match at the Dreisam Stadion. Both Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich lost further ground on the runaway league leaders Dortmund as they shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw at the BayArena.

England: Premier League Weekend Review, Reports & Analyses

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Arsenal capitulated in the North London derby, champions Chelsea lost again while Manchester City scored goals against former manager Mark Hughes. In light of Arsenal and Chelsea's slip-ups, Manchester United took advantage to go level on points with the latter at the summit. The Red Devils overcame Wigan Athletic 2-0 at Old Trafford albeit in unconvincing style.

Five things we learned from the Premier League this weekend

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Arsenal and West Brom need a win, Kevin Davies keeps learning new tricks and Blackpool continue to amaze.

English Premier League title race: Key moments in most open campaign for years

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As Manchester City and Tottenham emerge as genuine contenders to win the Premier League, Telegraph Sport looks back at key moments this season that have contributed to the title race becoming the most open it has been in years.

The Fifth Official

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Few of us like Mondays but The Fifth Official does, for it brings with it a chance for him to point the finger and laugh. Here he pulls out the pretty, the puzzling and the downright pig-ugly from the past week in football.

England: Premier League Previews & Predictions

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Arsenal can climb to the top of the Premier League table if they beat bitter North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday lunchtime.

A triumph for Arsenal would put further pressure on out-of-sorts Chelsea as the Blues travel to St Andrews to face Birmingham City. Manchester United are also in action at 3pm as they welcome Wigan Athletic to Old Trafford with Wayne Rooney expected to make his comeback.

From hate filled banners to pig's heads

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North London derbies need no added ingredients to make them feisty encounters but Saturday's clash at the Emirates will have some extra spice in the return of William Gallas.

Gallas left Arsenal in the summer, only to go down the road to White Hart Lane to join Arsenal's arch rivals Tottenham.

Arsenal v Spurs: Six of the Best North London Derbies

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When Arsenal meet Tottenham it is rarely dull. And, on occasion, the north London derby serves up something a little bit special.





North London Derby,
21 January 1934

Tom Adams: Rewind to 1919

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On Saturday, Arsenal and Tottenham meet at Emirates Stadium in the latest instalment of one of English football's fiercest rivalries. But what lies at the root of this bitter North London dispute? The answer can be found in a sequence of events in the 1910s, and in a shadowy, legendary figure found deep in Arsenal's history.

Friday MLS Forecast

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It isn't much of a surprise to see weather crop up as a point of discussion ahead of Sunday night's MLS Cup clash between Colorado and FC Dallas.

In some ways, it was always bound to happen. Placing the league's most important fixture smack dab in the middle a Toronto November guaranteed the meteorological outlook would capture a decent share of the attention in the buildup to the match.

Major League Soccer: 2010 Cup Final Previews

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Steve Davis: Dallas has the edge

Jeff Carlisle: Dallas has the edge

Five Reasons to Watch

Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview

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Real Madrid are set to face a player they are reportedly keen on when they welcome Fernando Llorente and his Athletic Bilbao side.

Barcelona, who have won their last five league matches - one less than the run Madrid are on, are away to third-bottom Almeria this weekend.

Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

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Inter Milan coach Rafael Benitez goes into Saturday's game at Chievo feeling under pressure after his team's poor run of form.

The mood in AC Milan's camp is in stark contrast.

The Rossoneri host Fiorentina on Saturday on the back of three straight wins and top Serie A by one point from Lazio after 12 games played.

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Preview

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Saturday
Eintracht Frankfurt – Hoffenheim
Nuernberg – Kaiserslautern
Borussia Moenchengladbach – Mainz
Schalke – Werder Bremen
Freiburg – Borussia Dortmund
Hannover - Hamburg
Bayer Leverkusen – Bayern Munich

Sunday
Stuttgart – Koeln
St Pauli – Wolfsburg

Preview

Dominic Raynor: Off The Ball

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Off The Ball never rests in its mission to scratch around the underbelly of professional football to find the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories.

This week, Zlatan Ibrahimovic auditions for the Karate Kid, Crisitiano Ronaldo has a tantrum after Nani ruins his wonder goal, Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola "should be in a mental asylum" and the miss of the century.

MLS fixes Donovan snub to honor star

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Landon Donovan benefited from some hasty rule-bending by Major League Soccer chiefs in order to be selected to the league's annual Best XI.

Donovan was listed on the ballot for the award, which selects a goalkeeper, three defenders, five midfielders and two forwards – as a forward.

Yet after the votes cast by players, coaches, general managers and the media were tallied, Donovan was left out in the cold, with his Los Angeles Galaxy teammate Edson Buddle and league top scorer Chris Wondolowski of the San Jose Earthquakes being named in the forward roles.

Dzeko back on the agenda as City plan clear-out

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Manchester City have alerted football's top agents that they are willing to write off close to £100 million worth of players in the January transfer window. Joleon Lescott, Wayne Bridge, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Emmanuel Adebayor, Roque Santa Cruz and Jo have been earmarked either to be sold off at cut-rate prices or loaned out with the club willing to pay 50% of the players' wages.

FA faces £500,000 bill after Steven Gerrard is sidelined for a month

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Fabio Capello's decision to persist with Steven Gerrard against France could cost the Football Association up to £500,000 in compensation after the Liverpool captain was ruled out for three to four weeks with a hamstring injury.

The Fateful Life Of Jose Antonio Reyes

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On one flank at the Bernabeu stood Cristiano Ronaldo. Opposite him stood Jose Antonio Reyes. Ronaldo was wearing the white of Real Madrid. Reyes donned the red and white stripes of Atletico, but as the Madrid derby progressed on Sunday night, it became increasingly difficult to shake off the feeling that he also should have been decked out in Real's colours.

Pires pays tribute to Wenger ahead of Villa move

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Pires, 37, will sign for Villa on a free transfer later this week if he successfully completes medical tests and agrees the finer points of his contract, marking an unexpected Premier League rejuvenation for a player who has spent the past four seasons in Spain with Villarreal.

Uli Hesse: Dedicated Followers of Fashion

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The other day I was watching the Manchester derby. Those of you who've seen the game will know that it was the kind of encounter where you look hard for something - anything, really - that might grab your attention. That's how I came to notice the gooey spot on Dimitar Berbatov's shirt.

Driver pleads in Charlie Davies crash

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The driver in a crash that injured U.S. national team forward Charlie Davies and killed a female passenger pleaded guilty Tuesday to involuntary manslaughter and drunken driving.

Sid Lowe: La Liga gets it wrong with clásico

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And so at last it's official: Barcelona versus Real Madrid, Spain's clásico, will be played at 9 p.m. on Nov. 29. That's MONDAY, Nov. 29. It will be the last game of jornada, or Match Day, 13.





It should still be, ya know, a classic...

Mario Balotelli sick of racist abuse with Italy national side

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The 20-year-old was the subject of abuse every time he touched the ball in the international friendly that was played in Austria, reportedly mostly from his own fans.

First XI: Golden Oldies

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After Dickie Borthwick made headlines after turning out for Wyke Veterans on his 75th birthday, ESPNsoccernet selects some of the oldest players to grace the game.

International Friendlies: Round-Up, Reports & Analyses

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Round-Up

Argentina 1 - 0 Brazil
Louise Taylor at Kahlifa Stadium
Jonathan Stevenson:
Messi wins it late
Tim Vickery:
Messi trumps new-look Brazil


England 0 - 1 France
Phil McNulty at Wembley
Owen Gibson at Wembley
Kevin McCarra at Wembley
Richard Williams at Wembley
John Brewin at Wembley
Dominic Fifield: Five Things We Learned
Player Ratings

Portugal 4 - 0 Spain
Portugal Rout World Champions

Ronaldo Tantrum After Nani Ruins His Goal

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Nani says he's sorry

Major League Soccer foolishly ignores the sport's American history

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Last Sunday night, with one final smolder for the cameras, David Beckham conveyed his hairstyle off the pitch and out of the MLS playoffs. The L.A. Galaxy's 3-0 loss to F.C. Dallas—a game in which Beckham's slow-wilting sprout of a ponytail was an accurate meter of his side's fortunes—deprives the competition of its most telegenic team.

International Friendly: South Africa 0 - 1 United States

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Juan Agudelo had a dream debut for the United States national team as the 17-year-old scored the only goal of the game as the United States beat South Africa 1-0 at a sold-out Green Point Stadium in Cape Town. The win closed out the year for the U.S. but also gave hope for the future of the national team as five players earned their first cap.

Sanford is Sick: Day Off

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(Summary is not available.)

Martin Rogers: Passion trumps star power in West final

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As the Los Angeles Galaxy's title hopes collapsed amid a heap of red mist, the reality that star power counts for little in Major League Soccer has never been so brutally obvious.

The MLS Cup dreams of David Beckham, Landon Donovan and the league's most famous club didn't just drift away on Sunday night, they were blasted into orbit by an FC Dallas side short on celebrity but packed with passion.

England: Premier League Weekend Review, Reports & Analyses

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The Premier League season that keeps on giving in unpredictability again delivered as Sunderland beat champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Arsenal played prior to Chelsea's slump as they travelled to Everton and won 2 - 1. Despite Manchester United drawing at Aston Villa, the result turned out to be a point gained by the Red Devils - although they again left it late.

Five things we learned from the Premier League this weekend

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Chelsea and Manchester United are no invincibles, Johan Elmander is actually pretty good and in praise of goalless draws.

Henry Winter: Jay Bothroyd proved at Arsenal he is hard work - but so is England's farce with France

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The French are in town but it's England laying on the farce. John Terry, Ashley Cole and Gabby Agbonlahor yesterday pulled out of Wednesday's friendly at Wembley while Carlton Cole, Stephen Warnock and Gary Cahill were drafted in.

Major League Soccer: Conference Finals Reports

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Los Angeles 0 - 3 DallasJeff Carlisle: Hartman key to Dallas win



Colorado 1 - 0 San Jose

Italy: Serie A Weekend Review

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A solitary goal from AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was enough to beat city rivals Inter Milan 1-0. Lazio had earlier temporarily climbed to the summit after easing to a 2-0 win over Napoli. Juventus and Roma had to settle for a share of the points in a lively 1-1 draw at the Stadio Olimpico. Fiorentina moved up to ninth thanks to a 1-0 win over struggling Cesena.

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Review

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Borussia Dortmund pulled further clear at the top of the Bundesliga as two second-half goals saw off Hamburg. Bayern Munich climbed above local rivals Nurnberg into sixth in the Bundesliga with a 3-0 victory in the Bavarian derby. Kaiserslautern and Stuttgart remain just outside the relegation zone after the home side came back from a three-goal deficit in the second half to snatch a draw.

Spain: La Liga Weekend Review

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Real Madrid returned to the top of the La Liga with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Sporting Gijon. Lionel Messi struck twice as Barcelona overcame an unjust offside decision to beat Villarreal 3-1.

Review

USA Squad For South Africa Friendly Full Of New Faces

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GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, England), Dom Cervi (Celtic, Scotland).

DEFENDERS: Nat Borchers (Real Salt Lake), Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa, England), Clarence Goodson (Start, Norway/Brondby, Denmark), Jonathan Spector (West Ham, England), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA/Tigres, Mexico), Tim Ream (New York), Gale Agbossoumonde (Miami/Braga, Portugal).

The Fifth Official: Mancini's tactical masterstroke

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Few of us like Mondays but The Fifth Official does, for it brings with it a chance for him to point the finger and laugh. Here he pulls out the pretty, the puzzling and the downright pig-ugly from the past week in football.

Spain: Eduardo Alvarez's Quiniela

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The weeks leading to the hugely anticipated first Clasico of the season have brought us distressing news: the match will be played on the night of November 29: a Monday. The previous Sunday, Catalans are due to vote in the elections to their Parliament (Catalonia's legislative body), and La Liga's governing entity believes that playing the match on that same Sunday would generate 'security issues'.

Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview + Table

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Villarreal will be out to prove the fight for the title is not just another two-horse race this season when they take on Barcelona. Pacesetters Madrid will be following that match with interest as a draw would give Jose Mourinho`s men the chance to stretch their lead at the summit to three points on Sunday when they go to Sporting Gijon.

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Preview + Table

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Two important local derbies take centre stage with Bayern Munich hosting Nurnberg and Cologne playing Borussia Monchengladbach. Bayern are already 12 points behind league leaders Borussia Dortmund and that gap will increase if the Westphalians win their home game with Hamburg tomorrow night.

England: Premier League Weekend Previews & Predictions

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Manchester United's travel to Aston Villa, Manchester City welcome Birmingham to Eastlands, Blackburn make the trip to Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool are away at Stoke City, Everton lock horns with Arsenal and Chelsea meet Sunderland. West Ham United boss Avram Grant will come under extreme pressure if his side do not see off Blackpool at Upton Park.

Sam Kelly in Argentina

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After the will-he, won't-he saga surrounding his contract negotiations, after the repeated demonstrations, in nearly every match, of how much his team are missing him, and after a long injury layoff, Juan Roman Riquelme returned for Boca Juniors on Saturday. Perhaps fittingly, he did so against his first club, Argentinos Juniors - who also happen to be the club that current Boca manager Claudio Borghi took to the title back in May.

The Joy of Six: TV Football Pundits

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From Eamon Dunphy to Brian Clough, via Danny Blanchflower and Jimmy Hill, here are half a dozen broadcasting gems.

Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview + Table

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A massive weekend in Italy with the Milan Derby heading the fixture list. Elsewhere, Roma travel to Juventus and Lazio face Napoli. Cesena travel to Tuscany to face Fiorentina inspired by their midweek 1-0 triumph over Lazio.

Preview


CLUB PWDLGDPts AC Milan11722923Lazio11713422Napoli11632721Internazionale11551720Juventus115421019AS Roma11533018Sampdoria11362215Chievo Verona11434115Palermo11425114Catania11353114Genoa11425-214Udinese11425-314Fiorentina11335-112Lecce11335-1012Cagliari11254111Parma11254-311Brescia11326-411Bologna11254-511Cesena11326-611Bari11236-99

Germany and Bayern star Mario Gomez urges gay footballers to go public

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The Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez has broken ranks with the football establishment, including members of his own team and the German football federation, who have warned that coming out could destroy a player's career.

But Gomez, who has not said whether he is gay, told a German magazine that being honest about their sexuality would improve gay players' performance.

Andy Carroll's capers are small beer compared to champagne George Best

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At the height of his notoriety, George Best once had similar restriction placed upon him.

He was due to give evidence in court on behalf of his Manchester United colleague Paddy Crerand, who was up on an assault charge after stepping in to a nightclub fracas to protect Best's diminishing honour.

Sid Lowe: Copa del Rey losing significance

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The phone lines opened at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. At the same time, ATMs all over Spain were activated. Tickets were on sale for Atlético Madrid's Copa del Rey match against Universidad de Las Palmas at the Vicente Calderón -- the ground where the fans are proud of their loyalty and where season-ticket sales actually increased in the summer in which Atlético was relegated.

Major League Soccer Cup Semifinals Preview

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With the chase for MLS Cup down to four contenders, it's time for a capsule look at each conference final. Due to the wacky bracket set-up, which will hopefully be gone next season, all of the Major League Soccer survivors hail from the West.

Colorado Rapids v San Jose Earthquakes
Saturday 9:30 pm ET - Fox Soccer Channel

Los Angeles Galaxy v FC Dallas
Sunday 9:00 pm ET - ESPN2

Dominic Raynor: Off The Ball

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Off The Ball never rests in its mission to scratch around the underbelly of professional football to find the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories.

This week, Gazza targets a role in the remake of Escape to Victory, Napoli striker Edinson Cavani has a pizza named after him, an invasive examination reveals players' potential, Carlos Tevez gives Rio Ferdinand a helping hand and the quickest own goal from a sub was scored.

Ruthless Chelsea sack Ray Wilkins as Carlo Ancelotti seeks fresh ideas

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Ray Wilkins has been left devastated by his surprise dismissal with immediate effect from the post of assistant coach at Chelsea.

The 54-year-old knew nothing about his sacking before being called to meet with Ron Gourlay, the chief executive, while watching Chelsea's reserves play a training-ground friendly against Bayern Munich at lunchtime today.

Arsenal's Gael Clichy was once the Premier League's best left-back. What happened?

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When Ashley Cole disappeared in a cloud of acrimony to Chelsea, there was a smug feeling among many Arsenal supporters that they had still got the best of the deal.

Not only did the club receive £5 million and an excellent defender in William Gallas but there was also the consolation of believing they already had a ready-made replacement in Gael Clichy.

Tom Adams: Rewind to 2002

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Sunday's FA Cup draw induced a collective gasp from English football fans as it threw up the possibility that AFC Wimbledon could face their nemeses, MK Dons, in the second round. If both clubs win their replays then wounds will be reopened - wounds that are still savagely raw following a decision eight years ago that ripped a club from its community, spawned the derogatory nickname 'Franchise FC' and resulted in the birth of a supporter-owned club that would prove a model for such ventures in future.

Prankster Pique still likes throwing stuff at people

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As Pep Guardiola once spastically gestured about, Gerard Pique is a little crazy in the head. And when he's not bleeding profusely, he loves to play pranks on people. Whether it's spitting on old men during Spain victory parade or chasing Bojan around while only wearing a towel in the background of a news report, Pique is well known for being a big goofball.

England: Premier League Midweek Review & Reports

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Chelsea are four points clear at the top of the table after a 1-0 win to Fulham while the Manchester derby ended goalless. Arsenal moved to within a point of second-placed United thanks to Marouane Chamakh's double in a 2-0 win at Wolves. West Ham remain bottom of the table after West Brom came back to earn a 2-2 draw at Upton Park.

Joey Barton: Said and Done

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Dec 2004 - stubbed a lit cigar into the eye of young team-mate Jamie Tandy during Manchester City's Christmas party. Fined six weeks' wages by City. Forced to pay four weeks' salary - approximately £60,000 - immediately, with a further two weeks suspended for a year.
Barton says: "If I was to do something similar, I'd be the biggest fool ever.

Marina Hyde: Why does England expect so much from footballers?

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Unless we really have given up as a culture, we might consider investing the lives of players with less symbolism, not more.

Italy: Serie A Midweek Review

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AC Milan went top of the Serie A table on Wednesday as Lazio lost while Inter Milan were held to a 1-1 draw by Lecce.

Review

Paolo Bandini in Italy

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Ahead of this weekend's Milan derby, Milan are top for the first time in two years but Inter's form has taken a downward turn.

Milan return to the Serie A summit but Inter are struggling in their slipstream.

Barca and Real agree Monday night Clasico date

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The two heavyweights will meet at the Nou Camp on November 29 to avoid a clash with the Catalan elections which take place in Barcelona a day earlier.

England: Wednesday's Premier League Preview & Predictions

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The Manchester derby takes centre stage on Wednesday as City aim to go level on points with bitter rivals United at Eastlands. Table-toppers Chelsea are looking to respond from their loss at Anfield when they host West London London neighbours Fulham at Stamford Bridge. Another team looking to bounce back are Arsenal after their title hopes took a hit following a 1-0 loss at home to Newcastle.

England: Tuesday's Premier League Reports

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Tottenham 1 - 1 Sunderland
David Hytner at White Hart Lane
Jonathan Stevenson at White Hart Lane


Stoke City 3 - 2 Birmingham City
Phil Shaw at the Britannia Stadium

Basel & Luzern Fans Throw Thousands Tennis Balls Onto Field

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(Summary is not available.)

England: Manchester Derby Previews

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Who: Manchester City v Manchester United
When: 3pm Eastern Standard Time
Where: City of Manchester Stadium
U.S. TV: ESPN2
Preview I
Preview II
Alan Hansen's Preview

Daniel Taylor:
Mancini working on cure for City-itis

Jonathan Wilson:
Derby biggest test yet for United

David Ornstein:
Tevez is City's crown jewel

Giuseppe Rossi is in good company

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At first glance, Giuseppe Rossi's statistics appear to tell you all you need to know. This month, the 23-year-old reached 100 La Liga appearances for Villarreal. In his time with the club, he has scored 40 league goals -- and added another 13 goals in other competitions for the Yellow Submarine, putting him seven strikes from overtaking Diego Forlan as the club's all-time leading scorer.

Pippo provides a good January option

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AC Milan veteran Pippo Inzaghi has recently hinted at a January exit, after falling down the pecking order at the club. The summer arrivals of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho have played a big part in the Rossoneri's rise to second in Serie A, and it has forced the legendary striker out of coach Massimiliano Allegri's plans this season.

Phil Ball in Spain

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Just in case you wanted to know, Atletico Madrid's veterans stuffed Real Madrid's 7-0 on Friday afternoon, and Ricky Carvalho beat Diego Forlan 1-0 in the FIFA 11 (virtual) game in a Madrid hotel the same day. The scorer was Ronaldo, of course. Interestingly, in the real thing on Sunday night, Carvalho opened the scoring and Forlan failed to find the net, but the Uruguayan was at least remaining faithful to tradition.

Andy Brassell in Portugal

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And how it was. Benfica's five-goal mauling has left them deep in shock, and few in Portugal doubting that the title will be heading back to its habitual home in the north after a one-season 'loan' to the capital club, even if November is only just beginning. Porto's win stretched their lead to ten points over the defending champions - their nearest challengers - with just ten games gone, and their unerring form to date (nine wins and a draw) is as ominous for Benfica as their own struggles.

Americans On The Continent: Baby Steps

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Jermaine Jones and Schalke 04 secured an important win over St. Pauli as they aim to pull themselves out of the Bundesliga relegation zone.

The Rest

Americans In The UK: Holding Their Own

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Stuart Holden has been a key figure for Bolton this year and continued his solid play on Saturday as his squad defeated Spurs 4-2.

The Rest

Cheeky Ronaldo Chastised

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(Summary is not available.)

Steve Davis on MLS

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Five things we learned over two legs of the first round of the MLS playoffs:

Georgina Turner: Thoughts on the weekend's action in the Barclays Premier League

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This wasn't a bad weekend to watch Premier League soccer, from Sunderland's controversy-laden 2-0 victory against Stoke, to the lively 2-2 draw between Blackpool and Everton, to Arsenal's 1-0 loss to Newcastle at the Emirates.

Tim Vickery in South America

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A successful and promising relationship has come to a premature end with the news that Marcelo Bielsa will not continue as coach of Chile. There is little point in appointing a foreign coach unless he brings something fresh - which the eccentric, but highly respected Argentine certainly has in the course of his three years in charge.

Virus hits Manchester United squad ahead of derby against City

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Manchester United have been hit with a virus ahead of tomorrow's derby against City with Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic, Dimitar Berbatov and Paul Scholes all believed to be among the victims.

Didier Drogba has malaria, reveals Carlo Ancelotti... but Chelsea striker is set to face Fulham

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Didier Drogba has been diagnosed as suffering from malaria, Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti has revealed.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

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Defeat in the derby could have pre-empted the end of his tenure, yet instead Claudio Ranieri's team moved up to seventh spot.

Roma triumph where eagles dare not fly.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

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Theo Gekas hardly runs, rarely tries to stay onside and doesn't mind switching off, but he's as hot as any striker in Europe.

Eintracht Frankfurt's cold-blooded killer makes light work of latest prey.

Sid Lowe in Spain

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It's a sorry state of affairs when Atlético are satisfied with simply not being beaten badly in what used to be Real's biggest game.

Real Madrid withdraw another three points from the bank of Atlético.

England: Tuesday's Premier League Previews

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Stoke City vs. Birmingham





Tottenham vs. Sunderland

Ten rounds in, still no favorite in Serie A

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Ten rounds into the Serie A season, there is still no clear-cut favorite.

Five-time defending champion Inter Milan is struggling with a series of injuries and a thin bench, surprise leader Lazio is coming off a 2-0 derby loss to AS Roma, while AC Milan and Juventus are just starting to find form under new managers with a bevy of new players.

The Fifth Official: This week on Kev and Andy

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Few of us like Mondays but The Fifth Official does, for it brings with it a chance for him to point the finger and laugh. Here he pulls out the pretty, the puzzling and the downright pig-ugly from the past week in football.

Monday MLS Breakdown

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For all of the shortcomings persistently cultivated by its quirky structure, the MLS postseason consistently brings one positive quality to the table.

It is, by and large, never short on drama.

Spain: La Liga Weekend Review

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Real Madrid maintained their one-point advantage at the top of La Liga with a 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid.

Review

Italy: Serie A Weekend Review

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Marco Borriello and Mirko Vucinic converted second-half penalties as Roma beat Lazio 2-0. Alessandro del Piero was on target again as Juventus came from behind to beat Cesena 3-1 and register back-to-back league wins. Fiorentina leapt into the top half of the table thanks to a win over Chievo at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Review

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Borussia Dortmund continued their fine start to the season while champions Bayern Munich's erratic form cost them more points.

Review

England: Premier League Weekend Review, Reports & Analyses

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Liverpool defeated champions Chelsea to maintain the Reds' revival, Arsenal slumped at home against Newcastle United while Manchester United left it typically late to claim the spoils versus Wolverhampton Wanderers. Manchester City returned to winning ways courtesy of Mario Balotelli, who had a mixed outing at West Bromwich Albion.

Edgar Davids leaves Crystal Palace

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The former Netherlands international made only seven starts for the Eagles.

Davids, who won a Champions League winners medal with Ajax, added: "I want to thank all the people who supported me and gave me one of the greatest experiences of my life."


But he looked so excited when he arrived.

Five things we learned from the Premier League this weekend

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Andy Carroll could be a Christian Vieri in the making, Mario Balotelli needs to stop fighting it and Fernando Torres is a delicate flower who needs help.

Newcastle striker Andy Carroll's stormy start to the season

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Six goals, two court appearances, one burnt-out Range Rover - Andy Carroll has had a memorable start to his Premier League career.

Liverpool fan with strangest sign of the weekend

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As Daniel Sturridge came on for Yuri Zhirkov in the 76th minute of Liverpool's 2-0 win over Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday, the cameraman caught an utterly bizarre sign being held by a Liverpool fan.

The Joy of Six: Football Documentaries

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From that Graham Taylor film to Jimmy McGovern's Hillsborough here are half-a-dozen great documentaries and docu-dramas.

Spain: Eduardo Alvarez's Quiniela

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Last weekend, La Liga and its Quiniela taught us a few things: first, the fact that everything seems to be working out in your life does not mean you'll be able to get a perfect ten. Second, if you're a Portuguese coach, chances are that you won't succeed in Spain, unless you have a very Special nickname.

England: Premier League Weekend Previews & Predictions

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A full programme of top-flight fixtures this weekend starts with Tottenham Hotspur's trip to Bolton Wanderers before Liverpool host Chelsea in a potentially explosive meeting on Sunday.

Manchester United welcome Wolverhampton Wanderers to Old Trafford in one of six 3pm kick-offs on Saturday.

Lazio hit the heights while Roma wait in the wings

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It's taken a long time but, at 65, the Lazio coach Edoardo Reja - almost universally known as Edy - has finally reached the summit of Italian football.

During his varied coaching career of almost 30 years, which has seen him take charge at 21 different clubs, he's tasted modest success in the lower divisions but few would seriously have expected him to have guided a team to the top of Serie A, especially the perennial under-achievers of Italian football.

Major League Soccer Playoffs: New York Red Bulls 1-3 (2-3 on agg.) San Jose Earthquakes

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Bobby Convey opened the scoring in the sixth minute and added his second during a frantic five minutes in the second half that saw the Earthquakes take the series lead, the Red Bulls equalize through Juan Pablo Angel, and the Earthquakes take the lead again through Chris Wondolowski.

A large crowd of 22,839 cheered on the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena despite rainy 48 degree weather.

Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview

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Real Madrid will focus their full attention on this weekend`s mouthwatering derby with Atletico Madrid. Barcelona, like Madrid, also drew their Champions League match this week, but their 1-1 tie at FC Copenhagen was not quite enough to put them through to the last 16.

In La Liga, Pep Guardiola`s side are a point behind Madrid at the summit and two ahead of third-placed Villarreal, who will look to make it five wins out of five at El Madrigal this season when they host Athletic Bilbao.

Italy: Serie A Weekend Previews

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Roma head into Sunday's derby with Lazio in the unfamiliar position of watching their local rivals flying high at the top of Serie A. Inter Milan host strugglers Brescia on Saturday on the back of a midweek 3-1 loss at Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League.

AC Milan lie one point behind Inter and visit bottom-side Bari eager to return to winning ways after a 2-1 defeat to Juventus was followed by a 2-2 Champions League draw against Real Madrid, who equalised in injury time.

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Preview

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Friday
Schalke – St Pauli

Saturday

Borussia Moenchengladbach – Bayern Munich
Eintracht Frankfurt – Wolfsburg
Hamburg – Hoffenheim
Nuernberg – Koeln
Freiburg – Mainz

Sunday

Hannover – Borussia Dortmund
Bayer Leverkusen – Kaiserslautern
Stuttgart – Werder Bremen

Preview

Dominic Raynor: Off The Ball

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Off The Ball never rests in its mission to scratch around the underbelly of professional football to find the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories.

This week, Wayne Rooney is to be burned on a bonfire, a US General 're-educates' some over-zealous Aston Villa stewards, the Rome derby is deemed too scary for an eagle and Rafa Benitez speaks more wibble at Inter Milan.

UEFA Europa League: Thursday Review

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Steven Gerrard grabbed a hat-trick in the final 15 minutes as Liverpool ran out 3-1 winners over Napoli. Two late goals from Lech Poznan condemned Manchester City to a 3-1 loss. Third-placed Juventus remain winless in Group A after being held to a goalless draw by basement team Salzburg.

Roberto Mancini in denial as Manchester City lose third on spin

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Roberto Mancini cut a defiant figure in the wake of Manchester City's third successive defeat tonight though critics of the Italian might say he was in denial.

The 3-1 loss to Lech Poznan in Poland in tonight's Europa League's tie raises serious questions about Mancini's suitability as the long‑term manager of the world's richest club.

Wayne Rooney sent to Nike Town, USA, by Manchester United

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Rather than use the state-of-the-art facilities at their Carrington training base, United have opted to use Nike's centre in Oregon, as much in a bid to get Rooney away from the constant headlines, which have dogged him since first news of his unhappiness at Old Trafford was raised nearly three weeks ago

USA Defender Clarence Goodson Joins Danish Side Brondby IF

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The former FC Dallas defender, who stands at a towering 6'4, spent the past three seasons in Norway with IK Start and recently represented the United States at the 2010 World Cup. The 28-year-old will join Brondby when the transfer window opens in January.

Rome derby deemed too crazy for Lazio's eagle

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Since Lazio bought a real, live American eagle named Olimpia over the summer, the club have gone on an incredible run, topping Serie A and going undefeated at home.

But with the rage and chaos the Rome derby usually features, authorities are worried that it would all be too much for Olimpia to do her usual three laps around the pitch before the match.

Sanford's Soccer Net Exclusive: Pat Buckley's Basel vs. Roma Champions League Video Wrap-Up

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(Summary is not available.)

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's Round-Up, Reports & Analyses

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Chelsea cruised through to the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League with an easy win over Spartak Moscow, but Arsenal were undone by old boy Eduardo away to Shakhtar Donetsk.

Real Madrid snatched a last-gasp point away to AC Milan to go through from Group G as Auxerre kept their qualification hopes alive with victory over Ajax.

First XI: Bad Decisions

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In light of Harry Redknapp's claim that Mark Clattenburg's decision to allow Nani's goal on Saturday was one of the worst he'd ever seen, ESPNsoccernet selects a First XI of terrible decisions.

As a number of the most infamous decisions have been covered in the First XI World Cup blunders, errors from that tournament have not been included in the feature.

Tom Adams: Rewind to 1901

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This weekend brings with it the first round of the FA Cup as those clubs outside of the elite begin to dream of giant-killing feats and a lucrative cup run. But only one club has won the FA Cup as a non-league side - Tottenham in 1901. Inspired by one of football's forgotten reformers, and spearheaded by a deadly striker, this is the story of how Spurs upset the odds over a century ago.

Sanford's Soccer Net Exclusive: Pat Buckley's Basel vs. Roma Champions League Video Preview

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(Summary is not available.)

Rooney Must Burn

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Wayne is being put to the stake as bonfire society reveal giant
granny-loving shrek lookalike as their annual Guy Fawkes figure.

Wayne Rooney effigy to be burned on bonfire in Kent

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini to sell Shaun Wright-Phillips and Wayne Bridge

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Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, has lost patience with Shaun Wright-Phillips and Wayne Bridge and is likely to sell them in the January transfer window.

Tony Adams caught up in controversy over caged bear in Azerbaijan

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Tony Adams, the former Arsenal and England captain, has become inadvertently involved in a bizarre controversy over the treatment of a caged bear in Azerbaijan.

The original article

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's Previews

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Arsenal will look to wrap up their qualifying campaign at Shakhtar Donetsk, while Chelsea can also secure their spot in the last 16 against Spartak Moscow.

Two European giants collide when AC Milan take on Real Madrid at the San Siro, while Ajax travel to Auxerre and Roma visit Basel.

Cesc will stay home with his Grams instead of traveling to the Ukraine.

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Round-up, Reports & Analyses

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Tottenham Hotspur exacted stunning revenge against UEFA Champions League holders Inter Milan as Manchester United moved to the brink of the last 16, but Rangers lost away to Valencia.

FC Twente claimed a first victory in Group A, while Lyon continue to lead the way in Group B despite losing to Benfica, while Schalke drew in Israel.

EPL report card: Newly-promoted sides flourish with attacking style

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With a quarter of the Premier League season done and dusted, now feels like a good time to take a look at a few player/manager report cards.

Revolution's Twellman set to end his career

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New England Revolution forward Taylor Twellman is expected to announce that concussion issues are forcing him to end his career.

The 30-year-old Twellman has scheduled a press conference Wednesday at Gillette Stadium with head coach Steve Nicol to announce that he will abandon his quest at a comeback.

Tevez targets derby return

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Carlos Tevez has earmarked next week's Manchester derby for his return from injury.

The Manchester City skipper has had hours of intensive treatment on his troublesome right thigh in a desperate bid to regain full fitness.

In his absence, City have hit a slump, losing to both Arsenal and Wolves.

Sergio Batista names first squad as permanent Argentina boss

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Batista, who was today given the job he had been doing temporarily on a permanent basis, selected Manchester City's Carlos Tevez and Pablo Zabaleta as the only Premier League players for the match in Qatar, while Valencia midfielder Ever Banega returns to the side.

Kevin McCarra: Manchester City fail to add up to the sum of their expensive parts

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Defeat by Wolves is no catastrophe but Roberto Mancini is still struggling to find the right blend of personnel and tactics.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

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Rank outsiders two months ago, Lazio now look genuine title contenders after another gritty defensive display at Palermo.

The devil is in the detail as Lazio move four points clear in Serie A.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

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Jürgen Klopp's second return to Mainz saw him leave with three points after a high-powered pressing game between two uber youthful sides.

Bubbly Borussia Dortmund pass the 'Pepsi test' with relative ease.

Sid Lowe in Spain

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La Liga is a two-horse race, again, as imperious Real Madrid and Barcelona crush the hopes of the also-rans.

Mourinho the resuscitator breathes new life into Benzema as Real stand tall.

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Previews

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Tottenham will be looking for payback at White Hart Lane when they face reigning champions Inter Milan, while Manchester United travel to Bursapor and Rangers make the trip to Valencia. Werder Bremen see FC Twente arrive in Germany, Barcelona visit Copenhagen and Benfica and Lyon meet in Portugal. Elsewhere, Schalke 04 visit Hapoel Tel-Aviv, while Rubin Kazan entertain Panathinaikos.

Van der Vaart and Sneijder begin Twitter battle

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Sneijder kicked off the battle with a message for Van der Vaart, who missed the first match through suspension, saying: "I'm cleaning the Champions League trophy with a Tottenham shirt." But Van der Vaart replied: "Thanks for cleaning it up for me. I'm already creating space in my cup cabinet."

Sneijder has since upped the ante, claiming: "We're gonna [sic] give you a football lesson in London.

Tottenham's Harry Redknapp is no stranger to referee rants

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"I never walk in after games and complain about a referee but this guy is scary. He's a poor referee and I've seen him make a mess of so many games. He's really not good enough."
On Steve Tanner's display in a 2-0 defeat at West Brom in December 2008

The Rest

Ernst Bouwes in Holland

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Three days after the devastating 10-0 rout in Eindhoven, Feyenoord faced relegation rivals VVV-Venlo at De Kuip. In the weeks before the PSV thrashing, Mario Been's side had also crashed out of the cup and the qualifiers of the Europa League, while also slumping to 15th place in the league.

Americans On The Continent: Low Country Highlight

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Sacha Kljestan scored a vital goal as Anderlecht secured a crucial win against Racing Club Genk.

The Rest

Americans In The UK: Dempsey Double Dip

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Clint Dempsey halted Fulham's losing streak, notching a double during Saturday's victory.

The Rest

Phil McNulty: Mancini must reassert authority

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When Roberto Mancini casts off his black overcoat, things must be bad. When the Italian's trademark sky blue and white scarf goes the same way, it almost signals a crisis.

Mancini and Manchester City may not be at the tipping point just yet but the manager's impromptu striptease during the defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers was a public sign of the stresses and strains pulling on everyone at Eastlands.

Cheers and Booze

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Let's face it, one of the hallmarks of English soccer culture is the excessive drinking that surrounds it. From the legions of lager-loving louts who travel by train up and down the country on game day to the after-hours bar brawls that are sport for players on their days off, it's as much as part of the EPL as diving, take-no-prisoners tackling and WAGs.

Phil Ball in Spain

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Halloween is not such a big deal in Spain as in the northern European countries, but the following Monday, 'All Souls Day' or 'Day of the Dead' is an appropriate occasion to put the struggling sides under focus. And if you'll excuse the phrase, down in the nether regions things seem to be stirring.

Rafael Benitez reborn with Inter Milan in Serie A

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At the start of the season, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was asked about the implications of Rafael Benitez replacing the Real Madrid-bound Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan.

"They favour Madrid, no doubt about that," was the characteristically blunt response from Ferguson.

Martin Rogers: Simplicity key to improving MLS playoffs

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The rules governing the format for the Major League Soccer playoffs take up 656 words and an entire page on the league's website. If the "powers that be" simplified their formula into a more sensible model, the whole thing could be summed up neatly on the back of the business card.

MLS does plenty of things right, and its reputation internationally has never been better.

England: Premier League Weekend Review, Reports & Analyses

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Newcastle United thrashed Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby, Manchester City were beaten by Wolverhampton Wanderers while Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal all left it late. Tottenham Hotspur's 21-year wait for a league win at Old Trafford was extended as they were beaten 2-0 by Manchester United, whose second goal was rather controversial.

Five things we learned from the Premier League this weekend

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Mark Hughes is better than Roberto Mancini; Newcastle have a great pair; Aston Villa don't; and Phil Neville is rather good.

Monday MLS Breakdown

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Lack of composure hampered efforts by several sides, fueled successes for others.

Italy: Serie A Weekend Review

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Ten-man Lazio extended their lead at the top of Serie A with a smash-and-grab 1-0 win over Palermo at the Stadio Renzo Barbera. In the evening kick-off, controversial striker Adrian Mutu returned to the Fiorentina line-up for the first time since completing a nine-month doping ban but could not inspire his side to victory in a goalless draw at Catania.

Spain: La Liga Weekend Review

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Villarreal lost ground at the top of the Primera Division standings after being held to a 1-1 draw by Sporting Gijon. Cristiano Ronaldo struck two late goals as Real Madrid fought back from an early deficit to down giant-killers Hercules 3-1. Barcelona produced the performance of their season so far to beat Sevilla 5-0 at the Nou Camp.

Germany: Bundesliga Weekend Review

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Borussia Dortmund went back to the top of the Bundesliga standings as Hoffenheim staked their claim for third. On Saturday, Sidney Sam's second-half goal gave Bayer Leverkusen a 1-0 victory at Schalke, whose nightmare season continues. heofanis Gekas continued his fine goalscoring form with a double as Eintracht Frankfurt recorded an impressive 3-1 away win over St Pauli.

The Fifth Official: Clattenburg's Halloween horror show

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Few of us like Mondays but The Fifth Official does, for it brings with it a chance for him to point the finger and laugh. Here he pulls out the pretty, the puzzling and the downright pig-ugly from the past week in football.