Thursday, September 30, 2010

English teams win as Barcelona slips up to Rubin Kazan

The Champions League is providing plenty of interesting stories, for example, do you remember Vincent Enyeama? He was the Nigerian goalkeeper in the 2010 South Africa World Cup, and he basically stopped Messi from scoring his first goal of the World Cup.

Well, Enyeama became the third goalkeeper ever to score in a Champions League match when he slotted in his penalty for Hapoel Tel-Aviv. In that match, where Lyon won 3-1, we also saw a superb strike by Michel Bastos. This was an amazing volley from outside of the box which curled into the top right-hand corner, watch it if you want to see something mesmerizing.

Arsenal's Marouane Chamakh (R) celebrates with his teammate Tomas Rosicky after scoring against Partizan Belgrade during their Champions League Group H soccer match in Belgrade September 28, 2010.  REUTERS/Marko Djurica (SERBIA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Chamakh and Rosicky awkwardly hugging after the second goal
Partizan - Arsenal

Speaking about keepers, Fabianski put in a great performance for Arsenal away against the Serbian side Partizan. Arsenal started with an amazing goal by Andrei Arshavin, Jack Wilshere provided the sublime assist for the Russian, rolling the ball backwards for Arshavin to slam into the back of the net. After that, Cleo equalized for Partizan from the penalty spot, making the sides go into halftime equal.

It was in the 71st minute which Arsenal grabbed the winner, Chamakh clumsily hoofed in the second. And then in the 82nd minute Squillacci grabbed his first goal for Arsenal, a header which Samir Nasri set up from a corner.  But Fabianski truly proved his worth, he saved a penalty to make sure the Serbian side didn't find an equalizer, and then made some great interventions, stopping any chance of a consolation goal for Partizan.

White Hart Lane, Tottenham Hotspur v FC Twente , UEFA Champions League Gp A 29/09/2010 Gareth Bale of Tottenham scores the 4th goal 4-1  Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Gareth Bale scoring the fourth goal for Tottenham
Tottenham - Twente

And Tottenham also won, the Spurs defeated Twente 4-1 in a match with penalties galore. First we saw Rafael van der Vaart have his penalty saved by Mihaylov, but the Dutch midfielder made up for his mistake by scoring a great volley in the 48th minute. Then in the 51st minute Tottenham was given another penalty, this time the Russian Pavlyuchenko stepped up to take it, and he found the back of the net. 

After that, things took a turn for the worse for the Spurs, van der Vaart was sent off after receiving a second yellow card due to some silly tackling, and then Twente pulled one back to make it 2-1. But Tottenham were resilient and were awarded another penalty! Pavlyuchenko stepped up again, and scored again, making it 3-1. The match was practically over, and when Gareth Bale scored in the 85th minute, the Tottenham fans were celebrating their first win in the Champions League.

Stamford Bridge, Chelsea v Marseille , UEFA Champions League Gp F 28/09/2010 Nicolas Anelka of Chelsea scoring his penalty 2-0 Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
A cool cucumber
Chelsea's match against Olympique Marseille had probably one of the best taken penalties I've ever seen. The English side won 2-0,  the first goal was Terry flicking in at the near post from a corner, but the second was a lesson on taking penalties. It was Anelka who took it, and he practically skipped during the run-up, casually bouncing his way toward the ball until he coolly sent Mandanda the wrong way.

Manchester United managed a 1-0 win against their main group rivals Valencia, and it was Javier Hernandez/Chicarito who scored the late winner. Macheda squared the ball to the young Mexican, and somehow Hernandez managed to finish the ball into the bottom corner with two defenders attached to him. But maybe the United's opposition is Rangers, the Scottish side won 1-0 at Ibrox Stadium against Bursaspor. This puts them top of the group, sharing the first place with Manchester United.

KAZAN, RUSSIA. SEPTEMBER 30, 2010. Barcelona s Lionel Messi seen during the Champions League Group D soccer match at Central stadium in Kazan. The match ends in a 1-1 draw. (Photo ITAR-TASS/ Roman Kruchinin)   Photo via Newscom
Messi made his return for Barcelona
But it's not all about the English! We saw Jose Mourinho win thanks to a late goal by Angel Di Maria. Real Madrid were having difficulty breaking down Auxerre, although they were solid at the back, something generic of Mourinho's teams. But the Argentinean broke the deadlock in the 81st with a volley from inside the box.

However the Blaugrana didn't win in Russia when the faced Rubin Kazan, Barca's ultimate bogey team. The match ended 1-1 with both teams scoring penalties, Noboa scored for Rubin and Villa scored for Barcelona. And there was some good news for the Catalan fans, Messi returned after his injury, the Argentine replaced Javier Mascherano in the second half.

Among these results, we also saw Inter Milan destroy Werder Bremen 4-0 at the San Siro. Samuel Eto'o scored a hat trick, taking advantage of the very shaky German defence. And the other side of Milan could only draw with Ajax. AC Milan conceeded first when Suarez broke down the rossoneri defence by nutmegging Nesta and squaring the ball to El Hamdaoui who scored. But the magical Swede Zibra saved AC Milan yet again, an awkward close-range volley equalized against his former team, with the match ending 1-1.

Inter Milan's Samuel Eto'o dribbles (L) past Werder Bremen's goalkeeper Tim Wiese to score during their Champions League Group A soccer match at San Siro stadium in Milan, September 29, 2010.    REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini (ITALY - Tags: SPORT SOCCER IMAGES OF THE DAY)
My favourite picture with Eto'o about to score against a flying keeper
Roma managed a 2-1 win against Cluj with Mexes scoring first from a corner, and then Borriello scoring a fantastic volley to make it 2-0. Cluj got a consolation goal with Rada in the 78th minute, but they weren't able to equalize. And last years finalists Bayern Munich won 2-1 against FC Basel. The Germans conceded first when Frei scored in the 18th minute, but Bayern came back thanks to a double by Schweinsteiger, winning 2-1.

What were your thoughts on the Champions League? Comment below!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Review of the Concave PT+ Classic

After having used the Concave PT+ Classic football cleats for about two weeks now, I've truly enjoyed every moment of it. These cleats have just about all the features needed to accommodate any type of player, as long as you take time to adjust to them. If you're interested in reading about the features of the Concave PT+ Classic, check out my preview of the boot here, and if you want to visit the Concave website, visit it here.

Getting used to the cleats

The first thing that I need to mention about these cleats is something I noticed right away, it will take you some time to actually get your foot to enter the cleat. This is due to the large Concave Component on the top of the boot which covers the laces. That's why Concave gives you a handy shoe horn which you'll need to use to get your foot to enter the boot. But once your foot is inside, the comfort is extremely noticeable. The K-leather is what makes this boot so great, as it moulds to your foot, providing no discomfort or blisters. The boot was actually slightly roomy, and it certainly accommodates wide feet.

After you've got the boots on, you need to make sure you get used to shooting with these. At first I found it new, and I was blasting balls high over the crossbar with little accuracy. But my coach gave me the best advice as I was practicing free kicks, he simply said, "Just put your foot through it". With that mentality, I scored a rocket top-corner free kick (in practice), and I began to understand how I should use the boots to shoot, pass, and cross.

How they perform

After a few practices, I was able to take hard shots from farther out, and place long balls and crosses with more ease. The Concave Component truly does what Concave says, it reduces the amount of force that a player needs to use when kicking the ball. It enlarges your sweet spot, reducing the chance of bad connection between your foot and the ball. While I was obviously unable to prove the statistics that Concave reports, I saw a noticeable improvement in my shot power and shot accuracy.

In fact, I found out that these boots allow a player to use his "wrong" foot with much more ease. It was much easier to take shots with my left foot, mainly because I knew I was going to get a strong connection thanks to the Concave Compenent.

Concave Component close-up

I used the Concave boots in three games, and in all three I appreciated their durability and protection. The shoe truly offers protection like no other, it is unrivalled in this sector. The pain of a stomp on the foot didn't exist anymore for me thanks to the Metaguard on the front of the boot, and the shoe was durable as it gave overall solidity to my feet.


Using the Concave PT+ Classic, I found few negatives. But to start with, these boots aren't for a speedy winger, they offer protection along with the Concave Component which weighs down the boot. If you're interested in being the fastest player on the field, then look at another type of boot, because these don't offer any advantage in that area. The other negative for me occurred just when I had to put them on. Some days when I wanted to just slip on my boots, I couldn't. I had to use the shoe horn, and really stuff my foot through the opening. But trust me, once the foot is inside the boot, you'll love the comfort.

The trusty shoe horn at the top-right
Final judgement

Here's my final word on the cleats, while they aren't flashy and colourful like some other cleats on the market, they're among the best I've used. They offer protection like no other, an increase in performance, and a high amount of comfort thanks to the K-leather. All this is also proved by the fact that Premier League players like John O'Shea and Wes Brown use the Concave PT+ Classic.

Share your thoughts regarding the Concave PT+ Classic below, and be sure to visit Concave's official site here. If you'd like more information on the features of the boot, click here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Roma Dramatically Defeat Inter and Michael Owen Returns

In case you haven't noticed, there have been some boring games but awesome results this weekend. Roma vs. Inter Milan is one among many which was relatively boring, but the result has huge ramifications for just about every other team in the Serie A. Another example is Real Madrid's 0-0 draw with Levante, which although wasn't extremely exciting, caused Los Blancos to fall behind their rivals, Barcelona.

Another thing which you've hopefully noticed is the poll on the right sidebar. Have your say on who will win the English Premier League, and although Chelsea is running away with it right now, they've just been stopped by Manchester City. This could cause Ancelotti's side to falter, and maybe give away the title, but that's up to you, the voter. So be sure to vote on the poll which is located at the top of the sidebar.

And the last thing I wanted to mention before we move on to the soccer results, is that my review of the Concave PT+ soccer cleats will be up sometime tomorrow. I've already done a preview which goes over the innovative features which the company offers, and if you want to find out more info about the company, Concave Sports, click here. And now, on to the soccer.

Vucinic scored his first goal of the season against Inter
Roma - Inter Milan

While some say Serie A is a boring league with Inter Milan constantly winning, I have to say that they're wrong. And I'd have to point at this result (along with others) which shows that the title race is not boring, and it might provide a new winner this season. The first half was a pretty equal showing by both teams, with the Stadio Olimpico full of charged supporters cheering the giallorossi on. The second half became a stop-start affair, full of stoppages due to fouls. But the magical moment arrived for all those fans who patiently cheered on their team for the full 90 minutes. It was substitute Mirko Vucinic who got on the end of Daniele De Rossi's cross with a diving header, scoring the only goal of the game. This last-gasp goal has not only raised Roma's spirits for their upcoming matches, but it has also lowered Inter's mentality as they prepare to face Werder Bremen in the Champions League, and after that, Juventus.

He has returned...
In Italy, Edinson Cavani scored two fantastic goals in Napoli's 4-1 win away against Cesena, the first was a quick dribble and a perfect finish, the second was spectacular with the Uruguayan hitting the ball first time, curling it into the far right hand corner. AC Milan also got a win, but with a slightly less extravagant scoreline. It was Ibrahimovic who scored the only goal as the rossoneri defeated Genoa 1-0, Zlatan's goal was a fantastic long ball which he volleyed/chipped over Eduardo. Juventus got a big win against Cagliari, the fast Serbian winger, Krasic, scored a hat trick helping the bianconeri win 4-2. And Juventus will be hoping to continue with their good form, especially since they'll have to face Roberto Mancini's Manchester City in the Europa League, and then Inter Milan on the weekend.

An unlikely return to say the least
In England, Michael Owen has returned! Well, not exactly, but he scored an important goal for Manchester United which evened up their match with Bolton, making the final score 2-2. Bolton played well and went in front with Knight, but then Nani equalized, with Bolton then grabbing a second scored by Petrov, it was then that Ferguson played his card and put in Owen, who scored for the Red Devils and salvaged a point. Chelsea also suffered, they lost 1-0 to Manchester City with Carlos Tevez scoring the brilliant goal which finally made Ancelotti's side lose. It was a perfect finish by Tevez, a low diagonal ball which Cech would never have reached, and now we could see Chelsea possibly slipping up again next week at Stamford Bridge against Arsenal.

The Gunners though lost 3-2 at the Emirates Stadium against West Bromwich! Not to doubt West Brom, but I expected at least a 3-0 win by Wenger's side, but the result was going the opposite way for West Brom. The newly-promoted side was 3-0 up by the 71st, with the game securely controlled. After that, Nasri found two goals, but they weren't enough to salvage a point against the mighty West Brom.

The perfect strike
Emile Heskey scored on Gerard Houllier's debut on the Aston Villa bench, the 88th minute winner by Heskey defeated Wolves at Molineux Stadium 2-1. Liverpool drew 2-2 at Anfield against Sunderland, and they were literally given a goal when a muck-up by Michael Turner who passed the ball back so that his keeper could take a free kick, but the ref took it a little differently. The ref (Stuart Attwell) thought that Turner had just taken the free kick, and then Torres leaped on the ball, got in front of Mignolet, and easily squared it to Kuyt for the finish. After that incident, Sunderland fought back with two goals by Darren Bent, making it 2-1, but the wonder-captain Steven Gerrard equalized for his side, making the final result 2-2.

Another unlikely return by a former great striker
In Spain, Jose Mourinho was unable to get Real Madrid to win against newly-promoted Levante, Los Blancos were held to a 0-0 draw, with Gonzalo Higuain missing chances aplenty. Barcelona on the other hand had little trouble winning without their talisman (who is injured) Lionel Messi, 3-1 was the final scoreline against Atheltic Bilbao. The win was fairly straightforward and it was the midfielders' turns to score with Keita, Xavi, and Busquets all scoring for Barcelona. Hercules continue with another surprise win, the newly-promoted side defeated Sevilla 2-0 with ex-Juventus forward David Trezeguet scoring both goals. And Valencia stay top of the table after their 2-0 win away against Sporting Gijon, it took just 10 minutes for Valencia to win the match, with Topal scoring in the 8th, and Soldado in the 10th. Now Valencia are top of the table, one point ahead of Barcelona, two points ahead of Real Madrid, and three ahead of Atletico Madrid.

What were your thoughts on this weekend's action? Share them below, and remember to vote in our poll!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Carling Cup: Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City dumped out

Liverpool's poor start to the season continued as they were sent crashing out of the Carling Cup by League Two side Northampton 4-2 on penalties in a night of shocks.
Nathan Ecclestone
Nathan Eccleston shows his frustration after missing the penalty.

Abdul Osman scored the winning spot-kick after Nathan Eccleston missed his for Liverpool. Michael Jacobs looked to have sealed an historic win for Northampton in extra-time before David Ngog forced the match to penalties at 2-2. Milan Jovanovic's opener was cancelled out by Billy McKay as the sides were level after 90 minutes.

Shola Ameobi's last-gasp winner secured a surprise 4-3 win for Newcastle to send Chelsea crashing out as well. Nicolas Anelka's two late goals looked to have been enough to force extra-time at Stamford Bridge, but Ameobi's glancing header from Jonas Gutierrez's cross sealed an impressive win for the Magpies.

Chelsea looked set for a comfortable victory after Patrick van Aanholt scored his first senior goal after six minutes, but Nile Ranger, who was at fault for the opener, went some way to atone for his mistake when he equalised shortly before the half-hour mark. Just moments later Ryan Taylor's free-kick put the visitors ahead, and Ameobi scored his first to give Newcastle a 3-1 lead shortly after half-time.

To add insult to injury, Chelsea lost Salomon Kalou to a hamstring injury, and when Yossi Benayoun hobbled off, Chelsea had no option but to continue the match with ten men with Carlo Ancelotti having already employed all three of his substitutes. But two late goals from Anelka, including a casual penalty with three minutes remaining, set up a tense few minutes, but Ameobi wrapped up a memorable victory for Newcastle with his late winner.

Holders Manchester United were forced to come from behind to beat underdogs Scunthorpe 5-2. Josh Wright's long-range strike gave the home side a deserved lead, but it proved to be shortlived as Darron Gibson beat the offside trap to lob Joe Murphy from Chris Smalling's long ball just four minutes later.
After his role in United's opening goal, it was Smalling's turn to get on the scoresheet, netting his first senior United goal to put the visitors ahead.

Scunthorpe could have clawed their way back into the match when Kuszczak palmed Jonathan Forte's long-range effort away, but the ball bounced just in front of his right post before spinning wide.

Scunthorpe battled valiantly, but the gulf in class and fitness began to appear, and the game soon ran away from them with two goals from Michael Owen and one from Park Ji-Sung before Martyn Woolford's 90th-minute consolation.

Ashley Young scored two goals in three minutes as Aston Villa came from behind to beat Blackburn 3-1 at Villa Park. Gael Givet gave Blackburn the lead after 34 minutes before Emile Heskey equalised on the hour mark. And Young's double 13 minutes from time secured victory for Gerard Houllier on his first game in charge of Villa.

West Brom also came from behind to beat Manchester City 2-1. Jo's left-footed strike put the visitors ahead on 19 minutes, but two goals in quick succession from Gianni Zuiverloon and Simon Cox sent Roberto Mancini's men crashing out.

Charles N'Zogbia's 90th-minute strike sealed a late 2-1 win for Wigan at home to Preston North End. Wigan looked to be heading out of the competition after Keith Treacy put the Championship side ahead after 23 minutes, but Jordi Gomez's 87th-minute equaliser looked to have been enough to force extra-time before N'Zogbia spared Roberto Martinez's men's blushes.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ex-Referee Byron Moreno Caught with Drugs

Moreno sending off Totti in 2002
The Ecuadorian ex-referee Byron Moreno was caught today at the JFK airport in New York, trying to enter the United States with at least 13 pounds (6 kilograms) of heroin. Moreno has already had past accusations of drug use, but Moreno went on to referee important matches in the 2002 World Cup, including when he ridiculously eliminated Italy with some terrible decisions.

Gigi Buffon released this statement when he heard about Moreno,
"Six kilograms of drugs? I think that Moreno already had the drugs back in 2002, but not in his underwear, in his body... But putting aside jokes, when people in sport get in ridiculous situations it means that they're scratching the bottom of the barrel. It means that he has lost the true sense of sport, which would also be to save many kids from the street and dangerous circles, like drug addiction."
It's an interesting piece of news which shows that back then, FIFA didn't pay much attention to a referee's past. What are your thoughts regarding this? Share them below by commenting.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

AC Milan and Arsenal stutter with draws

While the Serie A looks to return to normality with Inter Milan near the top, Spain's La Liga is looking competitive, and in the EPL Chelsea is running away four points ahead of second-placed Arsenal. The Bundesliga looks very interesting with Bayern Munich ninth, seven points behind first placed Mainz 05, and the Ligue 1 looks very complicated with plenty of teams fighting for the title. Plenty of interesting results, so lets get started.

Manchester United's Dimitar Berbatov (R) shoots to score past Liverpool's Pepe Reina during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England, September 19, 2010.   REUTERS/Phil Noble (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)
Berbatov with six goals in the Premier League
Manchester United - Liverpool

This epic match finished 3-2 for Manchester United, it was Dimitar Berbatov who grabbed a hat trick for United while Gerrard could only score a brace. The scoring started with Berbatov heading in from a corner before halftime, putting United in front. After the half, Berbatov struck again with a beautiful bycicle kick which looped over Reina, hit the bottom of the crossbar, and bounced into the back of the net. A truly sublime hit which put Ferguson and his men into dreamland. 

While Manchester United enjoyed plenty of chances, against the run of play, Raul Mereiles played Torres in, and Evans plowed through the Spaniard, giving Liverpool a lifeline. Gerrard scored the penalty making the score 2-1, and soon after Liverpool earned a free kick right outside Manchester United's penalty area, and Gerrard scored again. So another lead lost by Manchester United, and with only 8 minutes to go Liverpool were looking more composed than ever.

But United fought back and found the winner, Berbatov again heading the ball past Reina to complete his hat-trick and give United three important points. Berbatov is the first player in 64 years to score a hat-trick for Manchester United against Liverpool, back when Stan Pearson did it. And so the match ended 3-2 for Manchester United who are now 3rd in the table, while Liverpool are 16th.

In Italy, AC Milan are beginning to stumble, a 1-1 draw against Catania was all they could manage at home. Capuano scored a stunning long range volley to open the scoring, and AC Milan only found the back of the net with the eternal Filippo Inzaghi, if you want more info on that match, click hereFiorentina lost 2-1 at home to Lazio, while they started the scoring with the 18 year-old Ljajic (one to watch out for) slotting in a penalty, Lazio fought back well to get three points away from home. 

Inzaghi equalized for AC Milan
Another one of Inter's main opponents for the title stumbled this weekend, Roma drew 2-2 against Bologna at home. While things looked rosy as the giallorossi went two goals up, Bologna fought till the end with Di Vaio scoring a late double to ruin Roma's party. But Juventus managed to win 4-0 against Udinese with the ex-Udinese players Quagliarella and Iaquinta scoring. Udinese find themselves bottom of the table with 0 points, and if they don't begin to win, then Guidolin will be without a job soon.

Inter Milan came back a goal down against Palermo to win 2-1 at the Renzo Barbera stadium. Both teams created plenty of chances and wasted a lot of them, but Eto'o scored a double to make sure that Inter draw near to the top of the table, right behind Cesena on goal difference. Cesena grabbed a 1-0 win against Lecce thanks to a sweet goal by Bogdani, who perfectly curled the ball onto the post and into the back of the net, to put the newly-promoted side at the top of the table.

Arsenal head coach Arsene Wenger points to his watch to the linesman after Sunderland scored during their English Premier League soccer match at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland, England September 18, 2010. REUTERS/David Moir (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) NO ONLINE/INTERNET USAGE WITHOUT A LICENCE FROM THE FOOTBALL DATA CO LTD. FOR LICENCE ENQUIRIES PLEASE TELEPHONE ++44 (0)
Wenger babbling on about too much stoppage time
In England, Chelsea just can't stop winning, another big win for them against Blackpool which finished at 4-0 with Malouda scoring twice. Tottenham completed a late comeback against Wolves to win 3-1, with Van der Vaart scoring his first goal for the Spurs from a penalty. Tevez shined as Manchester City defeated Wigan at the DW Stadium, the Argentine scored a sublime chip and then assisted Yaya Toure for the second goal in City's 2-0 win. Arsenal slightly messed up in their 1-1 draw with Sunderland, Fabregas scored early as he was closing down Anton Ferdinand, and the defender's clearance hit his shin and looped into Sunderland's goal. Then, around the 70th Arsenal were given a penalty, Rosicky stepped up to take it, and he blasted it just inches over the bar. After that chance, Arsenal were punished in the 5th minute of stoppage time, Darren Bent knocking in an epic equalizer for all the fans at the Stadium of Light.

In Spain, Barcelona recover from their 2-0 loss to Hercules last week and defeat Atletico Madrid at the Calderon 2-1. But there's some sad news for any Barca fans out there, Messi received some ligament damage to his ankle and could be out for up to two weeks. Real Madrid also won 2-1, defeating Real Sociedad. Di Maria started the scoring with a wonderful goal, looping over the keeper into the far corner, and then Sociedad equalized from a free kick. It was Ronaldo who won the game, his free kick deflecting off of the wall and into the back of the net, giving Jose Mourinho a tight win.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi reacts after sustaining an injury in the final minutes of their Spanish first division match against Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid September 19, 2010. REUTERS/Paul Hanna (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Messi could miss some important games for Barcelona...
Sevilla, Villareal, and Valencia all won 2-1 defeating Malaga, Levante, and Hercules respectively, with Nilmar scoring both goals for Villareal, and Trezeguet scoring his first goal for Hercules from a penalty kick. 

Right now the La Liga table has Valencia two points ahead of Sevilla and Real Madrid, with Barcelona dragging behind in 6th place. Maybe this season we could see a different winner? What are your thoughts? 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Resurrection of AC Milan and Real Madrid

Image from Reuters UK
This article was written by Amr Samy, you can visit his site here, and his articles on EPL Online here.

AC Milan and Real Madrid have begun their Champions League campaigns winning 2-0. Bad performances by them last season brought a lot of criticism towards the two giants of European football. Real being knocked out by Lyon and AC Milan losing to Manchester United made them the laughingstocks of last sesson's UEFA Champions League. But this season AC Milan and Real Madrid seem to have different mindsets from last season.

Ac Milan defeated Auxerre 2-0 at home, they had good chances and scored two goals in three minutes. But we can't consider that this performance will make them go far in this tournament. Auxerre were proactive, they tried to score, and had two dangerous balls in the match. AC Milan didn't have a full control over the match and this needs to be fixed if in their next matches they want to defeat strong teams, and ultimately aim for the trophy. Ibrahimovic had a great performance and it was a good response to all who criticized him, but he must have consistency.

Real Madrid on the other hand had complete control in their match, they put in a great performance and won 2-0, a good result. They controlled the match and showed their skills with little trouble. Real played a good match under Mourinho and it's a good start for their first match in the UEFA Champions League this season. The team was offensively active, a lot of chances were created. And the most important thing that they were coming from different ways and players, that is what Mourinho added to Real Madrid. They will go far in this tournament if they stay concentrated and continue with performances like this one against Ajax.

AC Milan will face Ajax next Champions League matchday as Real Madrid will face Auxerre. They'll both have to win these matches as the next match they'll be facing each other. So if they can have six points before they face each other in the, they'll both be in a good position. And then we'll have a spectacle to enjoy when the two teams battle each other for the top spot on the group.

This article was written by Amr Samy, you can visit his site here, and his articles on EPL Online here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mourinho finds winning way and holders struggle in Champions League

Real Madrid's coach Jose Mourinho gestures during their Champions League Group G soccer match against Ajax at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, September 15, 2010. REUTERS/Andrea Comas (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Jose Mourinho, ready to win more
The Champions League has begun, and while we are only at the group stages, I still find it very interesting to see how teams are finding European competition. There were plenty of interesting results in this group of matches, and as you'd expect, some ridiculous thrashings.

Make sure to click "Read More" to read more, and find out just what happened in Europe's top competition...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Plenty of goals in Serie A as Barca lose to newly-promoted Hercules

Stoke City's Kenwyne Jones celebrates his goal against Aston Villa during their English Premier League soccer match at the Britannia Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, central England, September 13, 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)
Kenwyne Jones celebrating his goal against Aston Villa
This weekend was wonderful for me. A return to domestic football which has begun to really excite me with plenty of surprise results. And there was another thing which made my weekend, there were plenty of goals scored. I'm not just talking Serie A, where there were 35 goals scored in the last slate of games, but there were exciting matches everywhere. In the EPL, Serie A, and La Liga, there were only two scoreless games, for me, that's awesome.

In England, we continue to see a Chelsea team which truly dominates. While they conceded their first goal in the Premier League this weekend, they had little trouble defeating West Ham 3-1 at Boleyn Ground. Essien scored a brace with Malouda scoring the other goal for Chelsea, and a late goal from Scott Parker brought one back for West Ham, but his pretty chip wasn't enough to stop Chelsea.

On the other hand, Manchester United were unable to win at Goodison Park. They were 3-1 up against Everton when the Toffees pulled two back in stoppage time for an epic 3-3 draw. The United defence looked shaky letting in two goals in the final minutes of the match, while I expect them to win the title, maybe they're just not secure enough at the back.

Arsenal had no trouble winning 4-1 against Bolton at the Emirates Stadium, while Manchester City should've done better only drawing 1-1 against Blackburn, with Vieira scoring their goal for them. West Brom and Tottenham also drew 1-1 along with Sunderland and Wigan. Blackpool got their second win this season beating Newcastle 2-0 at St. James' Park, a great result for the newly-promoted side which find themselves in fourth right now, only five points away from table leaders Chelsea. Liverpool could've done better, only drawing 0-0 against Birmingham, while Fulham defeated Wolves 2-1, and Stoke City defeated Aston Villa by the same scoreline.

Real Madrid's coach Jose Mourinho is pictured before their Spanish first division match against Osasuna at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, September 11, 2010. REUTERS/Juan Medina (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Mourinho working his magic at the Bernabeu
In Spain, Jose Mourinho finally found the winning formation. Real Madrid won 1-0 against Osasuna with Ricardo Carvahlo scoring the only goal. Mesut Ozil was combining well with Ronaldo, and Higuain like always was pretty wasteful in front of goal.

However Real Madrid's main rivals for the title, Barcelona found a way to mess things up at home against newly-promoted side Hercules. Guardiola's men lost 2-0 in front of their fans, who were probably expecting the blaugrana to spank Hercules with five or six goals. This wasn't the case as the Paraguayan Nelson Valdez scored twice, with Trezeguet nearly scoring a third. It's advantage Mourinho (by one point), all the Portuguese coach has to do now is win the rest of his games.

In La Liga you also had an eight goal thriller between Real Zaragoza and Malaga! Malaga were five goals up by halftime, but after that the home fans of Zaragoza watched their side pull three back, hoping for probably one of the most epic comebacks in history. Atletico Madrid now stand at the top of the table after having defeated Athletic Bilbao 2-1. Forlan and Tiago scored to make it 2-0, but Llorente pulled one back in the 89th, yet the equalizer didn't arrive.

Juventus' Simone Pepe (L) celebrates after scoring against Sampdoria during their Italian Serie A soccer match at the Olympic stadium in Turin September 12, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer (ITALY - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Pepe celebrating his goal (assisted by Krasic) against Sampdoria
In Italy, Juventus and Sampdoria played out a 3-3 draw, and the new signing Krasic was instrumental for the bianconeri, providing two assists. AC Milan lost to Cesena 2-0 as Ibrahimovic and Robinho couldn't do much in their debut against the newly-promoted side. Another title contender lost, Roma suffered a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Cagliari who found it easy to win after Nicolas Burdisso was sent off. Inter Milan were able to win 2-1 against Udinese, with Lucio scoring, and Samuel Eto'o tucking in the rebound of his penalty which was saved. Bari drew 2-2 against Napoli at the San Paolo stadium, where they played some fantastic football. A radically attacking possession game which was extremely risky, but produced plenty of chances which the Bari players were unable to put away.

That's basically all that happened this weekend, what are your thoughts on this weekend's action? Share your thoughts below by commenting!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bartek Kalanski finishes among final 26

Arsene observing the players. Image from Nike Facebook Page
Bartek Kalanski, the young Polish goalkeeper, went to the Nike: The Chance trials for the UK. He was among 100 players chosen from the UK, fighting to move on to the global tryouts. The trials lasted two days: after the first day, Bartek was chosen among 25 others to move on to the second day. From here, only four would move on from the final 26.

Sadly, Bartek wasn't chosen to move on to the global trials, but he did get to meet Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Here's the Nike video where you can see some of Bartek's saves, along with the final four which were chosen.

We wish Bartek good luck, as he has the talent to go pro one day. You can visit Bartek Kalanski's facebook page here.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

EURO 2012 Qualifiers kick off with wonder-goal by Altintop

This has been an international break which has provided us with plenty of new info, and after this break, the return to the domestic seasons are very much welcomed. While there are so many small story-lines zipping around like Cassano being back, France losing to Belarus at home, Cypress getting a 4-4 draw against Portugal, Portugal losing to Norway, England getting into their groove, and Scotland first in their qualifying group, above Spain!

Yes, so much to talk about, and there will be so much which I'll probably miss, but let's start with this amazing goal by Hamit Altintop. A wonder-volley which helped Turkey win 3-0 against Kazakhistan, and right now their group has Germany first, Turkey second (both at six points), Austria third with three points, and Belgium, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan all at zero points. 

Here's the goal below, I certainly think that it's the best I've ever seen: so much power and precision, just to shoot a ball like that from the corner boggles my mind, but to place it where he placed it, absolutely wonderful.

I hope you liked that...

Now, moving on to other matters, Italy have finally found their form again with a 2-1 comeback win against Estonia and a 5-0 demolition job against the Faroe Islands. Cassano was instrumental in both games, getting two goals (one of which a fantastic powerful shot), and a sublime back-heel assist. It seems like not only has Cassano found his form again, but so has Italy, and the 2006 World Cup champions now find themselves comfortably in first place with six points, two points ahead of second placed Serbia.

Probably the other big disappointment at the World Cup found a way to make us laugh again, I'm talking about France. Les Bleus found a way to lose 1-0 to Belarus at the Stade de France in Paris, a goal by Kislyak in the 86th minute made every Frenchman hold his head in his hands, realizing that the Domenech might still be looming over the team. Luckily enough, the French team did find a way to win away against Bosnia-Herzegovina, with Benzema smiling for the first time in about two years after scoring. Malouda scored the other goal as France now find themselves fourth in their group a point behind first placed Albania.

Sweden have returned to winning, a 6-0 win against San Marino with Zibra's return to the National team helps them move up to first in their group E. They're ahead of the Netherlands by goal difference, who only thrashed San Marino 5-0, shame on the Oranjes who will also be interestingly be missing Robin van Persie (aka weakling), and Dirk Kuyt (aka clueless). The Arsenal man will be missing about 6 weeks, and the Liverpool forward could miss around 4 weeks. Two big losses for their clubs, Arsenal will lose their main striker yet again, and although I called him clueless, Kuyt does cover a lot of ground as he sprints around the field chasing the ball better than most dogs would do.

Theo Walcott injury England 2010/11 Switzerland V England (1-3) Group G 07/09/10 UEFA Euro2012 Qualifier Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
These Arsenal boys go down like fleas
Fabio Capello seems to have found the perfect formula for England, no Terry and no Lampard, the midfield has been free for Gerrard, and the entire team is just happy that Terry is gone. First England waltzed to a 4-0 win over Bulgaria at Wembley Stadium, with Defoe scoring a hat-trick thanks to Rooney who set up all of the goals, and newcomer Adam Johnson also scoring. Then England defeated Switzerland 3-1 away from home, with Rooney getting on the scoresheet, along with Adam Johnson yet again, and Darren Bent near the dying minutes. Sadly there were some casualties Walcott and Defoe were stretchered off, Walcott will miss two weeks, but Defoe will miss six. There's also the injury of Michael Dawson to be taken into account, who has been ruled out for up to six months, good thing Spurs picked up Gallas, a smart move by Harry Redknapp.

Not much else to say in context to the European Championship qualifying of 2012, although it should be mentioned that Portugal have decided to be the new France as they drew 4-4 against Cyprus at home, and then lost 1-0 to Norway. They find themselves bottom last in their group with one point, a great start for Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest of his Portuguese buddies.

I have to mention that Argentina defeated the World Champions Spain in a friendly, the final result was 4-1. The Spanish team were tired from travelling, and the result really flattered the Argentineans as Spain hit the woodwork about three times and Pepe Reina probably had his worst game ever, and I mean like ever since he started playing. But it shows that maybe, just maybe Maradona wasn't the right guy, and while all of us love him a little bit inside, maybe the Argentinean FA should stick to sane coaches. If you want to read more about Argentina winning against Spain and see the highlights, check out Livin La Liga.

Share your thoughts below if you'd like by commenting, I can't wait for domestic leagues to restart, what about you? BTW Remember to vote in the poll at the top of the sidebar on who you think will win the Champions League, the group stages start soon! Cheers.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bartek Kalanski selected for Nike The Chance UK trials

Aforementioned in this post, SWU is following Bartek Kalanski's journey in the Nike: The Chance competition. As a young goalkeeper, Bartek has plenty of competition, but if you go on his facebook page and check out his videos, you'll certainly understand why SWU is supporting him! Be sure to like his facebook page as he could become a professional keeper one day, and he's going to get a chance with the Nike competition.

Now Bartek Kalanski has made it to the UK selection, 100 players from the United Kingdom have been chosen (with Bartek among them) and they will face a two day trial the 8th and 9th of September. Only 50 will be chosen to move on to the second day of the trial, and then after the second day, only a handful will move on to the global trials.

At the global trials there will be 100 players (one of which we hope will be Bartek), and then only 8 of those 100 players from around the world will be offered contracts to become part of the Nike academy. From the Nike academy a world of possibilities opens up, and one of those is most certainly to become a professional soccer player.

The UK trials will take place at Barnets FC training ground, and the players will be staying in the Abbey Mariott Hotel. If you want to see a bio of Bartek Kalanski along with how the Nike: The Chance competition works, check out this post here.

SWU hopes that Bartek has the ability, determination, and luck required to become a professional footballer, but it will be up to him to show it to the world. Good luck Bartek!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Preview of the Concave PT+ Classic

Thanks to the people at Concave, I have the opportunity to review the Concave PT+ Classic soccer boots. These are Concave's top of the line soccer boot, and in this preview I'll talk about what you can expect from these boots, from the new protection technology, to the interesting enhancements it will have on your game. In a couple of weeks, I'll have reviewed the boots, and I'll let you know about how these really work, and in my opinion most importantly, how the boot feels.

I currently use a pair of Nike T90 Laser III's, and as an attacking midfielder/trequartista these are very useful because they provide some protection, along with some features to help you out with passing and shooting. But Concave's boots takes all of this to a whole new level, whether it be protection, shot accuracy, or shot power.

Concave's biggest technological advancement in these boots has to be the Concave Component, the front plate covering the laces. This component is part of the MetaGuard, which is made of a flexible layer of TPU and reinforced cushioning foam which protects against occurring metatarsal injuries. It certainly looks like if nasty defender stomps on your foot while you're wearing these boots, you won't feel much.

But the Concave Component also provides probably the coolest feature of these boots: as you can see, it's made with the impact of kicking a ball in mind. The concave upper "cups" the convex ball, giving you plenty of benefits, especially when taking shots. In fact, Concave have found out that in independent scientific testing, the concave component resulted in 30% improved accuracy! Independent player tests showed that it also provides a 15% increase in power! 

You'll probably be wondering how this is possible, it's because the Concave Component which increases the sweet spot of your foot by up to four times. As shown in the image on the right, your natural sweet spot is pretty limited, but with the Concave PT+ Classic, the sweet spot dramatically increases. The Concave Component also makes sure that you don't have laces in the way, which can disrupt your shot accuracy.

While I still have to find out whether this works as well as  is said, the prospect certainly seems really exciting.

As for the other technologies in this boot, there's also what Concave calls, the SBS, or Shank Balance Stabilizer. This is on the bottom of the boot, between the upper part of the studs, and the heel section of the studs (I'll be sure to get a picture of it in the review). What this aims to do, is to provides support and reinforcement to the mid-foot area, helping control balance between the front and rear of the foot. The SBS prevents an over extension of the middle of the boot, and if this occurs, it can lead to metatarsal bone damage.

Concave PT+ Classic cleats in black
It's quite obvious that Concave want to make the safest and most injury-proof boots on the market, and they haven't left out any important details. The PT+ offers probably one of the most important things for me in a soccer boot, good quality materials. For the upper, Concave have used K-leather, which is in my opinion the best type of material that a company can use for cleats. It should be comfortable, snug, and provide no irritation like blisters, so that's certainly an aspect I'm looking forward to.

I can't wait to test out these cleats and see how they work, expect a full review talking about all these things and more in the next few weeks. There'll be images and more which will help you understand how the cleat helps enhance your game. There's plenty of more information on Concave's site, so if you're interested in finding out more about Concave's cleats, check out their website here.


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