Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Soccer News 4/17/2007

Soccer News 4/17/2007.
World news roundup 04/17/2007

It's D-day for Euro 2012

UEFA's Executive Council will declare the host of the 2012 European Championship on Wednesday, April 18th, in Cardiff. The three candidates are Italy, Croatia/Hungary and Poland/Ukraine, with the Italians as hot favourites on paper – that is, if UEFA's leaders forget about a seemingly endless string of scandals and violent incidents that have hit calcio over the past 11 months.

Franco Carraro, the same man who presided over the Italian FA when the damning discoveries were published as to how various top-clubs "worked" with the referees' organization in order to have the "most suitable" refs appointed for their games, is still a member of the Executive Council.

Carraro has no right to vote on this occasion, just like his Ukrainian colleague Grigoriy Surkis, but they have no doubt abundantly used their right to lobby with their fellow members.

The joint Croatian/Hungarian bid may be the only one free of scandals and controversies, but their market is far smaller than the Italian, and joint Polish and Ukrainian bids, with modest political weight to match.

The Croatian FA chairman, Vlatko Markovic, said that "giving Euro to Italy would be a sign of UEFA's moral collapse," but should the economic arguments prevail, it should be another win for the Azzurri ahead of Poland/Ukraine.

Levski Sofia tops Manchester United regarding goal difference

While the Croats of Dinamo Zagreb still have the highest percentage of points won in all European leagues, with a supreme 91%, the top team regarding goal difference is Levski Sofia. The Bulgarians, who did not do so well in this season's Champions' League, have scored 68 and conceded just five goals in 22 national championship games.

Manchester United is in second position with +52 goals, which carries far more merit in view of the equality prevailing in the Premier League. The least equality is apparently present in the Dutch League, whose three representatives – AZ Alkmaar, PSV and Ajax – are in the top five in the best goal difference chart.

1. Levski Sofia 68 - 5 (+63)
2. Manchester Utd. 75 -23 (+52)
3. AZ Alkmaar 78 -27 (+51)
4. PSV Eindhoven 69 -23 (+46)
5. Ajax Amsterdam 77 -33 (+44)
6. Dinamo Zagreb 62 -21 (+41)
6. Salzburg 58 -17 (+41)
8. Inter Milan 65 -25 (+40)
9. Porto 54 -15 (+39)
10. Shakthar D. 48 -10 (+38)
10. Žilina 50 -12 (+38)

Amazing luck for Barcelona

Things could not have gone better for Spanish champs and leaders Barcelona. All three matches involving the top teams went their way, when all of them could have finished with opposite results.

* Barca themselves beat Mallorca 1-0 with Navarro's own goal in the 89th minute. Previously Mallorca missed a penalty through Jonas.
* Sevilla lost away to Valencia 2-0, but at 0-0 they had a penalty missed by Enzo Maresca.
* Real Madrid lost to Racing 2-1 thanks to two dubious penalties for the home side. Also, two Real's players were sent off.

Barcelona now leads Sevilla by four and Madrid by five points with eight games to go.

Times, they are a-changing for Real

The times have certainly changed for Real Madrid. The once fancied team have collected the most yellow cards this season, 103, which is eight more than second-placed Levante. Real also received nine red cards, which places them third on this particular ranking. The most recent Real players to have been sent off were Mejías and Helguera, during the infamous Santander game in which Rácing won 2-1 with two strange penalties.

The referee Javier Turienzo Alvarez has become the target of Madrid's fans' wrath. Some of them apparently phoned his wife and threatened to kill Turienzo, who denounced the unknown individuals to the police.

Trapattoni's German amuses again

Ten years ago Giovanni Trapattoni, as Bayern Munich's coach, held a legendary press conference in which he slammed several of his players for a lack on commitment. Trap's funny German was the most entertaining feature of a lengthy tirade against Thomas Strunz and a couple of teammates.

Last week the Italian coach performed a similar show in Salzburg before the Austrian reporters. Asked why his team displays poor fitness, Trap replied in his hilarious version of German, which we shall try to render into English.

"People no understand nothing of training. They write, criticize coaching systems. Instead of blabbing, bla-bla-bla behind backs, why not come and say thing in the face? You just go qua-qua-qua. We top the table with this system!"

By the way, Trapattoni's Salzburg are runaway leaders and virtual champions of Austria.

It's Manchester United and Chelsea on three fronts

This may just prove to be the most exhilarating season so far in English soccer, as two gigantic teams brace themselves for a showdown in two domestic competitions and the Champions' League.

Chelsea will host Manchester United on May 9th at Stamford Bridge in what may turn out to be the decisive championship-clinching game, but the two teams will also meet at Wembley in the FA Cup final and may even clash in the Champions' League finals in Athens, all in space of under three weeks.

Of course, for that to happen Chelsea must eliminate Liverpool and Manchester Utd. must knock out Milan in two ties that can go either way.

In the FA Cup semifinals, at least, the big two did fulfil their part of the bargain. Man United crushed Watford 4-1 while Chelsea had a more difficult job of overcoming Blackburn 2-1 in extra-time.

Schuster fancies Mourinho to take over Real

Bernd Schuster sounded disgusted when a German sports agency announced that he had signed a pre-contract with Real Madrid for next season.

The current Getafe coach denied the claim and slammed the media.

"I don't see how a German agency could think they know better than the Spanish media as to what is happening in Madrid. I have no pre-contract with Real and it is José Mourinho who has the most chances of taking over there. I believe he will win the race for Real's bench," said the former Barca and Real star.

Jose Mourinho.


Renato quits over playing Romário

Renato Gaúcho has presented his resignation as Vasco da Gama coach due to poor results in the Rio de Janeiro Federal state championship and the favouritism with which he allegedly treated Romário. The 41-year-old striker is struggling to score his 1000th career goal and Renato gave him too many opportunities for the team's own good.

The new coach, Caio Roth, has already stated he also plans to help Romário fulfil his dream, but the veteran could be on his way to Mexico. Necaxa of Mexico City are contemplating hiring the player in the Libertadores Cup round of 16. If that comes to fruition, the old man's 1000th goal could come in the most prestigious South American competition.

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