Monday, August 30, 2010

Serie A and La Liga start with Barcelona and AC Milan winning

Now the world's top football leagues have kicked off: The Premier League continues to be dominated by Chelsea, Barcelona pick up where they left off in La Liga, and AC Milan romp to first place in the Serie A. Soon enough the transfer window will close, and as last minute deals are beginning to be strung together, teams need to begin to returning to their last season's stride, or else.

Aug. 17, 2010 - 06336656 date 16 08 2010 Copyright imago Dimitar Berbatov of Manchester United Miss Times A Volley Barclays Premier League Manchester United v Newcastle United 16th August 2010 PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK Football men England Premier League 2010 2011 Manchester Action shot inzelbild cut out Vdig 2010 horizontal Highlight premiumd.
A very nice goal from Berbatov
In England, Chelsea continue their winning streak as they defeat Stoke City 2-0, not conceding anything as their goal difference remains an impressive +14. Manchester United also remain strong with a 3-0 victory with Rooney scoring a penalty and Nani and Berbatov scoring. Tottenham suffer a 1-0 loss to the hands of Wigan after having qualified for the Champions League against Young Boys, and Manchester City were defeated by Sunderland after they thrashed Liverpool 3-0 last week. Everton continue their bad run after losing to Aston Villa, and Liverpool managed a 1-0 win thanks to Torres against West Brom. Arsenal had some difficulty but defeated Blackburn 2-1 away at Ewood Park with Walcott scoring yet again as Arsene Wenger continues to play him as a central striker instead of a winger.

Barcelona players celebrate a goal against Racing Santander during their Spanish first division soccer match at the Sardinero Stadium in Santander August 29, 2010. REUTERS/Vincent West (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Barca players celebrating the first goal
In Spain, Barcelona defeated Racing Santander 3-0 with no trouble after letting Ibrahimovic leave and go to AC Milan. A glorious chip by Messi accompanied by Iniesta and a David Villa header helped Barcelona set the tone to the new La Liga season. Real Madrid on the other hand had trouble when they went to Mallorca, Jose Mourinho's side could only manage a 0-0 draw after Higuain and Ronaldo missed some important opportunities. The other half of Madrid continued their good form after winning the UEFA SuperCup against Inter Milan, and they defeated Sporting Gijon 4-0 with Forlan netting a double. Villareal lost 1-0 to Real Sociedad and Sevilla won 4-1 against Levante with Konko scoring a double.

Swedish soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimovic holds an AC Milan jersey during a presentation during the Italian Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Lecce at the San Siro stadium in Milan August 29, 2010. AC Milan reached agreement with Barcelona on Saturday to bring former Inter Milan striker Ibrahimovic back to Italy in a move the club hope will ignite their title chances. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo (ITALY - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Zibra smiling ominously
In Italy, the Serie A was a low scoring affair, only 15 goals were scored in the ten matches played, and four of those came from AC Milan who defeated Lecce 4-0 with no trouble at all. Ibrahimovic was presented at the San Siro to the fans, and he watched his future teammates, Ronaldinho and Pato, orchestrate the destruction of the newly-promoted side. Inter Milan had trouble away against Bologna, and Sneijder's magical free kick taking was met by Emiliano Viviano who between the posts was particularly fantastic. Eto'o hit the crossbar but in the end Inter Milan could only get a point from Bologna. Fiorentina and Napoli drew 1-1, Napoli's goal didn't actually cross the line, Cavani headed the ball onto the crossbar having it bounce onto the goalline, but the ref gave it. In that match D'Agostino scored a wonder-volley to equalize the score, and then Vargas and Blasi were sent off. Juventus were defeated by Bari 1-0, Bari dominated and eventually Donati scored a wonderful goal which sealed Juve's loss.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Atletico Madrid conquer UEFA Supercup over flat Inter

Atletico Madrid's captain Simao (C) lifts the European Super Cup soccer trophy after defeating Inter Milan at Louis II stadium in Monaco, August 27, 2010. Atletico Madrid beat Inter Milan 2- 0 in the European Super Cup at the Stade Louis II on Friday. REUTERS/Sebastien Nogier (MONACO - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Second trophy of the year, more to come this season?
This was probably one of the most interesting UEFA Supercups I've seen, while some might have expected domination from the Champions League winners, it was Atletico Madrid who bossed the game and won 2-0. And although it's strange to think that this year Atletico Madrid have won more trophies than Barcelona, it's true. If you happen to be an Atletico fan, or if you're interested in a good blog to read about the UEFA Supercup winners, check out Madrid Atleticos.

Inter Milan - Atletico Madrid

While the match began relatively evenly, both teams were unable to put together many memorable opportunities. They were both solid in defense, with Atletico causing more problems than Inter was, but in the end there were only some shots which fizzed wide from Eto'o and Aguero in the first half.

Atletico Madrid's Jose Antonio Reyes celebrates after scoring against Inter Milan during their European Super Cup soccer match at Louis II stadium in Monaco, August 27, 2010. REUTERS/Philippe Laurenson (FRANCE - Tags: SPORT SOCCER IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Reyes celebrating the first goal
The second half was a different affair, Atletico began to keep possession, they created more and more chances, keeping the ball away from Inter's front line. Diego Milito barely touched the ball, Eto'o was dangerous but isolated, and Stankovic wasn't a smart choice for starter from Rafa Benitez. Eventually the breakthrough came, Julio Cesar had already saved a couple of insidious shots, but Reyes found a way to slip it past him in the 62nd minute.

There wasn't a reaction from the Inter players, Benitez took off Stankovic and put on Pandev, giving a bit of creativity, but soon enough the Macedonian found himself unable to change the situation. Then the Inter coach decided to take out a disappointing Sneijder and put in the young Brazilian talent, Philippe Coutinho. But right after the switch, Atletico scored again with Aguero. A simple tap-in which was due to Inter's back line falling asleep, Chivu ignored the Argentinean's run into the six yard box and basically let him finish off the team.

There was more reaction after this goal from the Inter player than the first, they pushed more, and eventually substitute Coutinho almost unlocked the situation, creating an attack which earned Inter a penalty in the dying minutes. Diego Milito stepped up to take it, but David De Gea parried the shot well, keeping a clean sheet for Atletico as they went on to defeat the Champions League winners, and conquer the UEFA Supercup.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Inter Milan draw newcomers in Champions League group stages

Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp attends their Champions League playoff second leg soccer match against BSC Young Boys at White Hart Lane in London August 25, 2010.  REUTERS/Eddie Keogh (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Harry Redknapp's Spurs will have to battle against the holders, Inter Milan
The Champions League groups have been drawn, and there will be plenty of action in the group stages. First, here are the groups for you to look at:

Group A
Inter Milan
Werder Bremen
Tottenham Hotspur
FC Twente

Group B
Olympique Lyonnais
SL Benfica
Schalke 04
Hapoel Tel Aviv

Group C
Manchester United

Group D
Rubin Kazan

Group E
Bayern Munich
FC Basel
CFR Cluj

Group F
Olympique Marseille
Spartak Moskva
MSK Zilina

Group G
AC Milan
Real Madrid

Group H
Shakhtar Donetsk
Sporting Braga
FK Partizan

The UEFA Champions League individual awards were also recently awarded, and Inter Milan sweeped them all, with Julio Cesar winning best keeper, Maicon winning best defender, Sneijder winning best midfielder, Diego Milito winning best striker, and Diego Milito again for best player.

Inter Milan have drawn two newcomers to the competition, Werder Bremen and Tottenham Hotspur, but that doesn't mean that their group will be easy. Manchester United will have to face off against Valencia as Bayern Munich will battle Roma for the first place in their group. AC Milan and Real Madrid meet yet again, but this time Ajax might have something to say about how the group goes. Plenty of exciting match-ups, but what are your thoughts on the groups? Comment below!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Crouch hat-trick defeats Young Boys in Champions League qualifiers

White Hart Lane , Tottenham Hotspur v Young Boys, Europa League Play-off 2nd Leg 25/08/2010  Peter Crouch of Tottenham celebrates scoring the 1st goal with Tom Huddlestone of Tottenham Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Hat-trick finished with a penalty
While there have been rumors regarding a possible departure from Tottenham for Peter Crouch, it seems like those possibilities have faded ofter his hat-trick against the Swiss Young Boys. A resounding 4-0 victory from Harry Redknapp's Spurs which lets them move on to the group stages of Europe's elite competition. The aggregate of that tie was 6-3 for Tottenham Hotspur, who in the first leg lost 3-2 in Switzerland.

As for the other Champions League ties, here's the aggregate scores with the teams who will proceed bolded. And if the aggregate score is a draw, that means that the team proceeded thanks to away goals:

Zenit St. Petersburg - Auxerre 1-2
Rosenborg - Copenhagen 2-2
Sparta Praha - Zilina 0-3
Young Boys - Tottenham Hotspur 3-6
Dinamo Kiev - Ajax 2-3
Salzburg - Hapoel Tel Aviv 3-4
FC Basel - Sheriff 4-0
Partizan - Anderlecht 4-4 (finished with penalties)
Sporting Braga - Sevilla 5-3
Werder Bremen - Sampdoria 5-4 (finished in extra time)

Full of upsets and fantastic games, the best probably being Werder Bremen who at the return leg scored a late away goal to take the match to extra time, then they finished it off with another goal after having played badly for the entire match. A huge upset is Portuguese side Sporting Braga knocking out Sevilla, with an extravagant 4-3 win in Seville. We also saw Shevchenko score a penalty for Dinamo Kiev, but it was useless in the end because the Ukrainian sie was knocked out by Ajax.

Tommorow there will be a gigantic list of Europa League fixtures,and then there will be the draw for the group stages of both the tournaments. As soon as the draw happens, you can check here to find out the groups of the Champions League and the Europa League.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Man City pummel Liverpool in 2nd day goalfest

So many goals, 38 goals to be exact. With so many teams thrashing others, the Premier League is really beginning to get exciting. Along with this, Chelsea have achieved the best start in Premier League history, two wins and a goal difference of 12 goals. And now, let's see how many teams got thrashed, starting with Liverpool.

Manchester City's Carlos Tevez (2nd L) celebrates scoring against Liverpool during their English Premier League soccer match at the City of Manchester stadium in Manchester, northern England, August 23, 2010.  REUTERS/Darren Staples  (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) NO ONLINE/INTERNET USAGE WITHOUT A LICENCE FROM THE FOOTBALL DATA CO LTD. FOR LICENCE ENQUIRIES PLEASE TELEPHONE ++44 (0)
Thing 1 and Thing 2 celebrating the second goal
Manchester City - Liverpool
I was doubtful about Manchester City and it's massive spending spree, and I was also doubtful about how Roberto Mancini would do, considering at Inter Milan he was the master of defensive football. But Manchester City played some fantastic football against Liverpool, crushing the reds 3-0. Barry started the scoring with a fantastic well worked opportunity which started with Johnson and ended with him tapping the ball past Reina. Then in the second half Tevez scored a double, flicking the ball in from a corner and scoring a penalty earned by Johnson. City played like a team, every player was fantastic, and the new signing, James Milner fit in fantastically. But there's just one curiosity from my part about this team, what about Silva, Balotelli, Adebayor, Santa Cruz, and Robinho? Will they get any playing time?

Chelsea's Nicolas Anelka (R) celebrates scoring with Didier Drogba against Wigan Athletic during their English Premier League soccer match in Wigan, northern England, August 21, 2010. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER IMAGES OF THE DAY) NO ONLINE/INTERNET USAGE WITHOUT A LICENCE FROM THE FOOTBALL DATA CO LTD. FOR LICENCE ENQUIRIES PLEASE TELEPHONE ++44 (0)
Celebration from Anelka and Drogba, the meaning of it?
As for the other matches, Chelsea destroyed Wigan 6-0, with Anelka and Kalou getting doubles and Benayoun and Malouda scoring the other goals. Arsenal also reached six against Blackpool,
dragging them back to earth after their opening day win 4-0 over Wigan. Walcott got a hat trick with some phenomenal play up front, and Chamakh got his first goal for the gunners. Newcastle also scored six in a surprise win over Aston Villa with Carroll scoring three so that Joey Barton can finally shave. Fulham drew 2-2 with Manchester United thanks to a late equalizer from Hangeland who just five minutes before scored an own goal. Gareth Bale scored a double to let Tottenham win 2-1 away at Stoke City, Everton drew 1-1 with Wolves, Birmingham beat Blackburn 2-1, Bolton beat West Ham 3-1, and Roberto Di Matteo's West Brom defeated Sunderland 1-0.

And a reminder, be sure not to miss the second leg of the Champions League qualifiers tommorow! There's tasty battles like Sampdoria who at home will need to overturn the first leg loss of 3-1 against Werder Bremen, Sevilla who need to beat Braga at home after they lost 1-0 in Portugal, and there's a couple of more rather un-interesting ties for the general public, but if you can, take a look anyways because they could be in this season's Champions League!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Inter Milan and Barcelona claim domestic Supercups

Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates his second goal against Sevilla with his teammates Dani Alves (L) and Pedro (R) during their Spanish Super Cup second leg soccer match at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona August 21, 2010.  REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Messi and company celebrating
After the update on the English Community Shield, French Supercup, and the German Supercup, Inter Milan and Barcelona won their respective Supercups. Inter defeated Roma 3-1 at the San Siro winning their 5th Italian Supercup, and Barcelona defeated Sevilla in their two leg Supercup, losing the first leg away 3-1, but winning the return leg at the Camp Nou 4-0 with Messi scoring a hat trick (aggregate score 5-3 for Barcelona).

Barcelona lost the first leg in Seville 3-1 (with Ibrahimovic scoring), but they didn't have trouble winning the second leg by more than enough at the Camp Nou. The scoring started in the 13th minute when Pedro dribbled into the Sevilla penalty area, and his shot hit Konko, who unluckily scored against his own team. Then 11 minutes later the Messi show started, his first goal was provided by Xavi who split the Sevilla defense with a sublime through pass, and Messi provided the finish. The second saw Messi served inside the box, with the Argentinean smashing the ball into the roof of the net with no trouble. The fourth goal came in the dying minutes after Iniesta played the ball for Messi to crash into the net, winning the Spanish Supercup with an aggregate score of 5-3 for the Catalans.

As for the Italian Supercup, you can find a match report here, on Serie A Talk. What are your thoughts on the two trophies won? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Premiership starts with United and Chelsea on another level

Manchester United's Dimitar Berbatov celebrates scoring against Newcastle United during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England, August 16, 2010.  REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) NO ONLINE/INTERNET USAGE WITHOUT A LICENCE FROM THE FOOTBALL DATA CO LTD. FOR LICENCE ENQUIRIES PLEASE TELEPHONE ++44 (0)
Berbatov scored?!
The Premiership has started, now all of the preseason enigmas will slowly be solved until we finally realize who's the best team in England.

While Chelsea hasn't changed much from last season, they're still a very powerful team, and they could retain the title if they continue like they started. Manchester United has left me a very good impression, I think that they're going to win the title this year, an emerging Rooney, along with Nani, and great subs like Hernandez and Macheda who know how to score goals. As for Arsenal, while they've reinforced with Chamakh and Koscielny (smart signings yet again from Mr. Wenger), they still don't seem able to compete with physical clubs.

As for Liverpool, Tottenham, and Manchester City, they'll be fighting it out for the fourth spot, and in my opinion it's this battle that will be the most exciting. While for me it will probably be Manchester City that will reach the fourth spot this season, Roy Hodgson's Liverpool doesn't seem weak at all.

But now, enough of my thoughts, lets see what happened the first day of the Premiership:

Aug. 15, 2010 - 06330393 date 15 08 2010 Copyright imago Liverpool s Joe Cole Gets Sent Off for This Late Tackle ON Arsenal s Laurent Koscielny Barclays Premier League Liverpool v Arsenal 15th August 2010 PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK men Football England Premier League 2010 2011 Liverpool Action shot Vdig xsk 2010 vertical premiumd.
Liverpool haven't appealed against Cole's red card
Chelsea hammered West Bromwich Albion 6-0 with Didier Drogba scoring a hat-trick, Drogba scored a hat trick on the last day against Wigan last season, and now one on the first day against West Brom. Manchester United had little trouble with Newcastle, Berbatov scored in the 3-0 victory which included silky smooth one-touch passing along with Javier Hernandez's debut in the Premier League. Arsenal and Liverpool drew 1-1 with Roy Hodgson's team playing much better, but when Joe Cole was harshly sent off with a direct red, the match became tough for the reds. N'Gog opened the scoring, putting Liverpool ahead with just 10 men, but then Pepe Reina scored the own goal of the season, worse than Green at the World Cup. Reina's blunder gave Arsenal a lucky point, but Hodgson refuses to blame individuals for the draw. Wigan were defeated 4-0 by newly promoted Blackpool, a fine show of attacking football from Holloway's side which demolished Roberto Martinez's team at the DW Stadium. Tottenham and Manchester City drew 0-0 and so did Bolton against Fulham, the only goal-less matches this season so far. And the surprise result has to be Blackburn defeating Everton 1-0 at Ewood park, it was Kalinic who secured Blackburn the win.

Joey Barton Newcastle United 2010/11 Manchester United V Newcastle United (3-0) 16/08/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
When will it end?
It was exciting, it was scintillating, and it was full of goals, there were 26 goals scored in the first day of the Premiership, a very positive statistic. And the league already has controversy mixed in well, Blackpool 2nd in the table, can they continue? Joe Cole gets a red on the first day for the reds, a harsh decision from Atkinson to say the least. Chelsea dominate, will they be unbeatable this season? Bellamy has left City to go on loan to Cardiff, and Joey Barton won't shave until Newcastle get their first win in the Premier League, oh dear... What are your thoughts on the first day of the Premier League? Comment below!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

5.5 billion Euros of debt and how to get rid of it

I've recently written an article on Soccerlens regarding UEFA's financial fair-play, while at first many of you might not be very interested in what Platini wants to do in the future, you probably should be. The article runs over the catastrophic debt in European football, the dependance of teams on the Champions League, and how Platini wants to reduce 5.5 billion Euros of debt by 2017.

The clubs in the top five leagues in the world (England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France) have accumulated 5.5 billion Euros of debt, and Platini wants to reduce that money so that clubs can be run like proper businesses.

The article is entitled "UEFA's Financial Fair-play and why we should care", a complete rundown which will either convince you that the little French head of UEFA is mad or a genius. Check it out and comment on it.

Serie A previews

Another interesting thing you should know is that on Serie A Talk, I'm teaming up with another writer to preview all 20 teams of the top Italian league. Find out the new transfers, the way that the teams will play, and youngsters to watch out for. If you're interested in Serie A, then you should certainly check out these previews.

I "like" SWU

The last and final thing is to mention that SWU has now incorporated Facebook "like" buttons at the top of every post. This is in hope that you will "like" it, then all your friends will see it, and then they will visit the site! An impeccable formula that relies on you to "like" the posts that you like. So feel free to like this post, and share it with all your friends, and don't forget to become a fan of the SWU facebook page, and follow us on Twitter.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Community Shield, and Super Cups

The pre-season is slowly coming to an end, the transfer market drags on into it's nothingness, teams play useless friendlies, and Manchester City buy (with no limit). But what is giving me hope as I wait for the start of the European seasons is the super cup, or community shield. A preview of what will be coming next season, the winner of the domestic cup and the winner of the domestic league pitted against each other for a trophy which can be considered relatively important.

Here's what happened in the English Community Shield, French Super Cup, and the German Super Cup:

Aug. 08, 2010 - 06295246 date 08 08 2010 Copyright imago Javier CHICHARITO Hernandez of Manchester United Celebrates Scoring His Side s Second Goal community Shield Chelsea v Manchester United 8th August 2010 PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK London men Football England community Shield 2010 2011 Single Action shot Vdig xmk 2010 Square Highlight premiumd.
Javier Hernandez celebrating his first goal
Manchester United defeated Chelsea 3-1 at Wembley stadium, while the blues had the better of the chances, United put away the opportunities they had. The scoring started with Valencia before the half, Rooney squaring the ball perfectly across the box with his first touch, leaving Valencia to apply the finish. Then after the half the newly bought 22 year-old Mexican, Javier Hernandez, scored his first goal for United on his debut. A strange tap-in with the ball ricocheting of his foot and onto his face to somehow end up in the back of the net. Then Kalou brought one back for Chelsea, but after, Berbatov put an end to the match with a delightful chip, putting the final score at 3-1.

Bayern Munich's Holger Badstuber (R) and Bastian Schweinsteiger celebrate with the trophy their victory against Schalke 04 after their German Supercup final soccer match in Augsburg August 7, 2010. Bayern Munich won the final 2-0. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle (GERMANY - Tags: SPORT SOCCER IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Schweinsteiger lifting the German Super Cup
As for the German Super Cup, Bayern defeated Schalke 04 2-0, thanks to goals from Klose and Muller. The score was 0-0 until the 75th when Muller scored a simple goal while the Schalke defense fell asleep, after that, the second goal came thanks to Olic's rampaging run down the right wing, a couple of step overs and then a simple pass to Klose to finish off Felix Magath's team, and claim the German Super Cup.

July 28, 2010 - Tunis, Tunisia - epa02264553 Olympique Marseille players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Trophee des Champions soccer match against Paris St. Germain at the Rades stadium in Tunis, Tunisia, 28 July 2010. Marseille won 5-4 after penalty shoot-out.
Taiwo lifts the French Trophee des Champions
The French Super Cup was a different type of match, Olympique Marseille and Paris Saint Germain battled a tight 0-0 until it came to penalties. After 5 kicks from each team the score was 4-4, and when Giuly missed for PSG, Cisse scored his right after to give Marseille the French Super Cup, or what they call the Trophee des Champions, the Trophy of the Champions.

As for the Italian and the Spanish Super Cups, the Italian one will be played the 21st of August between Inter Milan and Roma, while the Spanish "Super Copa" is a two-legged affair which will take place the 14th of August and the 21st of August between Sevilla and Barcelona.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Mario Balotelli signed shirt and Julio Cruz signature

I mentioned in my previous post that I received a 2009/2010 Inter Milan home shirt of Mario Balotelli, signed by the Italian forward. Along with a couple of photos of the shirt, I've also put up a couple of photos of a signature I got from Julio Cruz, retired Argentinean striker who played most notably for Inter Milan and lastly Lazio.

Here are some pictures of the shirt and the signature (which for some reason are backwards because I used a mac, which isn't mine, to take the photos):

The signature in Italian which says, "To Niccolo, Mario Balotelli 45, with friendship"

The signature in Italian which says, "To Niccolo with lots of affection Julio Cruz"

A close-up of the reversed signature, which in the middle has "J. Cruz"
When I return home from my vacation in Italy I will be framing the shirt along with the signature from Cruz, and soon I will restart to post about soccer news, regarding the transfer market and more. In the meantime, if you haven't already, become a fan of SWU on facebook and follow us on twitter where you can receive updates of soccer news from around the world. 
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