Saturday, January 5, 2008

World Soccer News January 5 2008

World Soccer News January 5 2008.
World News for week of January 5th

Tyrants not relinquishing rule in top leagues
In three of the top European leagues the champions are on top, and in one they are a step behind. Inter, Lyon and Real Madrid have a solid lead at the start of the year, Manchester United just trail Arsenal and only Stuttgart are out of play at this stage.

Spain: Real Madrid have a seven-point advantage over Barcelona, whom they defeated by 1-0 at Camp Nou in the last match of the year. Real also have the League's most potent attack with 37 goals, 2.17 per game.

France: Lyon had their worst start to a season in a decade with two defeats in the first three rounds, but at the start of 2008 they are four points ahead of Nancy and six ahead of Bordeaux. And both closest rivals have yet to travel to Lyon.

Italy: The unbeaten Inter lead Roma by seven points with two games to go until the end of the first half of the season. Since the nerazzurri have mathematically clinched the honorary winter title, the statisticians claim it is a good sign because on the previous 14 occasions the winter leaders ended up champions (not counting the 2005/06 title stripped from Juventus and awarded to Inter by the Italian FA).

England: Manchester United briefly made it to the top on Boxing Day, when Arsenal got stuck in Portsmouth. Still, just before the New Year, United were defeated by West Ham and allowed the Gunners to overtake them again.

Germany: Stuttgart are the only champions to have abdicated at this early stage. Stuttgart are 11 points behind Bayern and Werder, a deficit impossible to overcome in any realistic scenario.

It will take a record fee to snatch Berbatov from the Spurs

Juande Ramos may have one of the least effective defenses in the Premiership, but at least he boasts one of the Premier League's most coveted strikers in Dimitar Berbatov.
Chelsea are reported to have offered 26 million pounds to Tottenham and Manchester United are also considering a bid.
According to the Spanish coach, the amount will not be enough to persuade Spurs to sell the Bulgarian.
"Some one would have to offer more than the 30 million pounds Chelsea paid to Milan for Andriy Shevchenko," said Juande Ramos. "It would be normal to require as much, since they are so few players of his class."
Still, the former Sevilla coach recently threatened to replace the entire defense, after another disappointing display by the Spurs' back four. With the wealth they could obtain by selling Berbatov plus whatever they can get for the defenders they have, maybe Juande Ramos will have enough funds to build the defense of his dreams.

Ronaldo voted the biggest flop in Italy

Ony twelve months after returning to Italy, the unfortunate Brazilian Ronaldo collected another resounding prize: the trophy for last year's biggest flop in Italian soccer in a poll conducted by the Corriere della Sera daily.

The Phenomenon, as he was called by the Italians ten years ago when he joined Inter, won over the hearts and minds of the Roman paper readers by collecting 40% of the vote. The Emperor Adriano of Inter, currently on loan to Sao Paulo, had to settle for second spot with a decent 29% of the vote. Two other Brazilans made it to the top ten – Milan's Emerson and Roma's Cicinho.

Ronaldo's return to action after recovering from a muscular injury is now set for January 20th.
Top Ten Italian League flops of 2007.

1. Ronaldo (Milan) - 40%
2. Adriano (Inter) - 29%
3. Tiago (Juventus) - 7.6%
4. Emerson (Milan) - 6.4%
5. Vieira (Inter) - 5.4%
6. Almiron (Juventus) - 3.2%
7. Muslera (Lazio) - 3.1%
8. Cicinho (Roma) - 2%
9. Diego Tristán (Livorno) - 2%
10. Recoba (Torino) - 1.3%

O'Donnell: sixth tragedy in four months

Phil O'Donnell's demise late last month raised to six the number of soccer-related deaths in a space of four months. Before Motherwell's captain, four players and one referee lost their lives after falling ill during a soccer game. Although the casualty figure amounts to a tiny fraction of the total number of athletes and officials who come on to the field each week, the new death must increase the concerns within soccer institutions.
Only a week before O'Donnell (35), an 18-year old Italian referee died after collapsing during a game of the Veneto region youth championship.

The dark four months began on August 28th with the death of Sevilla's Antonio Puerta from a cardiac arrest after three days in intensive care. Just a day after Puerta, Chashwe Nsofa (27) of Hapoel Beersheva suffered a fatal heart attack in an Israeli second division game. The terrible week ended on September 1th when Jairo Andres Nazareno (21) of the Ecuadoran third-division outfit Chimborazo felt chest pain during a match against Politécnica. As soon as he reached hospital, he was declared dead.
Finally, on December 20th, 31-year old Brazilian Cleber from Bahia died after two months in a coma due to a brain stroke.

Di Stéfano: It used to be 40,000 times harder to win the Champions Cup

One of the most important soccer player of all time, Alfredo Di Stéfano, marked the early years of the European Champions Cup by leading Real Madrid to five consecutive titles, scoring at least once in each final.
Today's incarnation of the competition he did so much to popularize is not entirely to his taste.
"They call it the Champions League. Champions of what? They should look it up in the dictionary. The press should know the meaning of the word," said the Hispano-Argentinian to the Spanish daily El Mundo.
"Maybe the current formula is more interesting because there are more teams and more possibilities, but if they had to expand the competition for financial reasons, let them change the name. Here it is: it is possible to finish fourth in the domestic League and then be crowned champions of Europe! In my time it was not possible."
Asked whether it was more difficult to become European champions, the two-time Golden Ball winner replied emphatically.
"You bet it was more difficult. Fourty thousand times more. It was a cup system back then and we were not eliminated in five consecutive seasons."

Copyright Ozren Podnar/Soccerphile

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