Senin, 31 Desember 2012

Cartoon of the Day: Happy New Year! Stars prepare to bring in 2013

Spain secured their place in the pages of football history, Chelsea marched to an unlikely Champions League triumph and two of the greatest players of all time have smashed yet more records. 2012 will be difficult to match.

With the fixtures in the world's major leagues wrapped up for the current calendar year, the game's biggest and brightest can celebrate a job (mostly) well done.

But there's plenty more to look forward to in 2013. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will carry on and, in all likelihood, reach a few more remarkable landmarks. A mouthwatering last 16 of the Champions League awaits. And, when all else fails, there's Mario Balotelli.

Messi or Ronaldo leading the line, Xavi or Pirlo pulling the strings - what is the best XI of 2012?

messi ronaldo

This year has seen plenty of individuals shine in the footballing sphere and, at the very end of 2012, now is the time to sing their praises by looking at who would make it into your best combined XI.

In Spain, Lionel Messi has broken record after record; Cristiano Ronaldo propelled Real Madrid to a Liga title once more; and Radamel Falcao's value has soared as he continues to deliver goals at Atletico Madrid.

In England, Robin van Persie has been imperious in front of goal all year; Juan Mata and Ramires were crucial to Chelsea winning the Champions League; while Vincent Kompany skippered Manchester City to their debut Premier League title.

In Italy, it will be Juventus' squad - Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, etc - that will feature most heavily in XIs, but the sudden rise of Stephan El Shaarawy has been impressive, while Edinson Cavani keeps on looking world class for Napoli in Serie A.

In Germany, Mario Gotze and Mats Hummels were axels in Borussia Dortmund's Bundesliga-winning team, while Marco Reus has been excellent since signing in the summer; on the other hand, numerous players in Bayern Munich's team - especially the in-form Franck Ribery - could make it into best-of-2012 XIs.

Elsewhere in Europe, Paris Saint-Germain's all-star squad includes the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic who has been fantastic since his transfer from AC Milan; Shakhtar Donetsk's attackers might not be obvious choices but they have excelled repeatedly; and Russian sides such as Anzhi Makhachkala and Zenit St Petersburg continue to build expensively-assembled but star-studded sides.

And across the rest of the globe, Neymar continues to set the Brazilian league alight, while Didier Drogba won the Champions League for Chelsea before trotting over to China in the summer.

Goal.com asked readers what should the best XI of the year is on Twitter, and we had w ell over a thousand responses!

Shaufy Sufyan: Casillas; Zabaleta, Chiellini, Pique, A Cole; Xavi, Ozil, Pirlo; Ronaldo, Messi, Ibrahimovic.

Carlo Garganese: Buffon; Piszczek, Thiago Silva, De Rossi, Ashley Cole; Vidal, Pirlo, Iniesta; Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic, Messi.

DarkDyson: Casillas; Piszczek, Ramos, Kompany (not including this season), A Cole, Yaya Toure, Xavi, Inies ta; Ronaldo, Michu, Messi.

Puneet Lalwani: Cech; Lahm, Ramos, Kompany, A Cole; Iniesta, Yaya Toure, Ozil; Messi, Falcao, Ronaldo.

Enis Koylu: Buffon; Piszczek, Dante, Hummels, Lahm; Khedira, Pirlo; Reus, Messi, Ronaldo, Lewandowski.

Shamoxen: De Gea; Acerbi, Vidic, Chiellini, Kolarov; Sergio, Rosicky, Vidal; El Shaarawy, Rooney, Giroud.

Robin Falken: Hart; Ivanovic, Ramos, Kompany, Alba; Xavi, Alonso,, Iniesta, Ronaldo, Messi, Falcao.

Miles Chambers: Buffon; Lahm, Chiellini, Kompany, A Cole; Xavi, Pirlo; Ben Arfa, Messi, Ribery; Van Persie.

You can still get involved by leaving your best XI of 2012 in the comment section below, or you can share your ideal starting 11 by tweeting to@goal_intl with the hashtag TeamoftheYear.

Sabtu, 29 Desember 2012

Chicharito wants to prove himself at 'biggest club in the world' Manchester United

EPL, Manchester United v Newcastle United, Javier Hernandez
Manchester United forward Chicharito is hoping to force his way into a regular role at Old Trafford after his last-ditch winner against Newcastle.

The Mexican netted in the final minute to give the Old Trafford side a massive victory on Boxing Day which, with rivals Manchester City losing to Sunderland, puts them seven points clear at the top of the table.

The 24-year-old was granted a first-team role with both Wayne Rooney (knee) and Danny Welbeck (illness) unavailable, but the match was only his fourth start in the league this season, with the striker not yet reaching 20 league starts in a full term.

The former Chivas Guadalajara man acknowledges that Sir Alex Ferguson has other high-quality options to select but is determined to prove his worth and eventually become a regular choice.

"Ask any player in the world and they will tell you they want to play every game," he told reporters.

"But the competition here i s incredible. It is the biggest club in the world. You need to be aware there are five strikers who want to be part of the games.

"I have to prove, in one minute or 90, that I want to start."

Though he did net the eventual winner late in the game, Hernandez wasted two golden opportunities to, possibly, seal the vital three points earlier in the day.

However, the Mexican insisted that he never dwells on missed chances in order to stay focused for the next one, while stating the most important thing was that they secured victory in the end.

"I didn't have those things in my mind," he added. "You cannot afford to regret every chance you miss because if you do you will never be concentrated for the next opportunity.

"You are never going to play the perfect game. You will never score five goals from five opportunities. That is the beauty of football. The most important thing was the win because here there are no heroes.

"It doesn't matter if I score in the last minute or we score four goals. We won and Manchester City lost. That is very good news."

Wenger: Arsenal have not lost interest in Henry loan

Thierry Henry - Arsenal
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that he still retains an interest in a loan move for striker Thierry Henry.

The Frenchman returned to the club where he scored 226 goals over an eight-year period on a short-team deal last season, famously netting the winner in an FA Cup clash with Leeds.

And Wenger has admitted that he has not yet ruled out a third Gunners stint for Henry, with the 35-year-old's current club, the New York Red Bulls, out of action during the MLS off-season.

"I've not lost interest in him," Wenger told reporters. "I've not completely [ruled it out]. But I haven't spoken about it with him at all.

"He's still coming today to practice with us. We are very close, but at the moment I think he has had a second spell at the club that was very successful. You have to be cautious that it's not one time too many."

Jumat, 28 Desember 2012

Beckham 'in no hurry' to join a new club

David Beckham calls for focus
Former England captain David Beckham is in no hurry to join a new club, according to his management company.

The 37-year-old ended his five-year spell with LA Galaxy by helping them to MLS Cup glory earlier this month but has no plans to hang up his boots yet.

Beckham is said to be mulling over his option as he seeks out one last challenge to end his career and has been linked with moves to teams in France, Asia and Australia.

And his management company say he is considering "a number of serious proposals" from a "host of clubs" but warned it is "early days in the process."

"David is in no hurry to make a decision, the key is making the right one as he has always done successfully in his career," the statement continued.

"David is enjoying spending quality time with his family over the holidays."

Rabu, 26 Desember 2012

Cruyff or Zidane in midfield, Maradona or Pele in attack - what is the greatest XI of all time?

Pele 1958

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are widely considered two of the best players currently plying their trade on the global stage, but would they fit into your greatest XI of all time?

In goal, some might root for the only shot-stopper to win European Player of the Year, Lev Yashin, while many might pick a more modern alternative such as Peter Schmeichel, Oliver Kahn or Gianluigi Buffon.

Defenders are often overlooked when it comes to choosing the greatest players in history, but Franco Baresi, Franz Beckenbauer, Paolo Maldini and Roberto Carlos are all household names who - at their peak - would be the star of many a team.

The likes of Zinedine Zidane, Johan Cruyff and Michel Platini have helped ensure that Europe has a rich history of midfielders, though there are names from across the globe worthy of a place in any best-of-all-time midfield.

And in attack there is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to deciding who to put in one 's team. Eusebio, Diego Maradona, Pele, Ronaldo (the Brazilian striker, not his Portuguese namesake), Gerd Muller and so many more leave even the most decisive football fanatic scratching their head as they try to decide who to pick.

Should an illustrious, silverware-filled career boost your chances of getting into the team? Or should those with trophy cabinets bursting at the seams not gain an advantage, and the choice be purely based on skill?

And what formation would you opt to deploy - a balanced 4-4-2, a fluid 4-3-3 or a 3-4-3 so that you can pile in as many attacking players as possible?

As a fun festive activity, Goal.com asked readers what should the greatest XI of all time is on Twitter, and we had well over a thousand responses!

Goal.com editor Carlo Garganese started the debate by tweeting his ideal 11, which featured players who would prove to crop up on a regular basis such as Maradona and Maldini, and shout outs for less frequent options such as ex-Selecao midfielder Roberto Rivelino. His XI in full: Buffon; Djalma Santos, Baresi, Maldini, Zanetti; Matthaus, Xavi, Rivelino; Platini; Maradona, Eusebio.

Featuring a team consisting of only those he has seen play consistently, The Bandwagoner has picked a meaty mix of stars who have plied their trade at either Real Madrid, Barcelona or AC Milan. His XI in full: Casillas; Cafu, Cannavaro, Hierro, Maldini; Makelele, Zidane, Iniesta; Messi, Raul, Cristiano.

Skipper of the Uruguay squad which won the 1950 World Cup, Obdulio Varela was a very uncommon (but canny) choice by Goal.com's South American expert Rupert Fryer. His XI in full: Zoff; Cafu, Baresi, Beckenbauer, Maldini; Varela, Matthaus; Messi, Cruyff, Maradona; Ronaldo.

A tweeter by the name of 'WORST' picked a slightly different (but still packed with superb stars) XI to many. His side is crammed full of those who impressed in Serie A over the last 20 years, and Roberto Baggio, Edgar Davids and Andrea Barzagli got rare nominations to be included. His XI in full: Buffon; Zanetti, Thuram, Barzagli, Maldini; Pirlo, Nedved, Davids, Zidane; Baggio, Ibrahimovic.

Goal.com's social media guru Joe Wright was one of the few to plump for Redondo in midfield, whil e Ronaldo (de Lima, not Cristiano) makes his second appearance on this list! His XI in full: Schmeichel; Cafu, Thuram, Maldini, Zanetti; Rivaldo, Redondo, Zidane; Ronaldinho, Messi, Ronaldo.

Ronaldinho was a name which sneaked into quite a few line-ups, while Deco and Alessandro Nesta creeped into a surprising amount of suggested sides. However, The Aficionado was surely the only person to tweet Steve McManaman in his selection! His XI in full: Vi tor Baia; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Roberto Carlos; Vieira, Deco, Ronaldinho; McManaman, Ronaldo, Nedved.

Goal.com's Dutch expert Stefan Coerts opted to put Manchester United and England legend Bobby Charlton in midfield, while a left-field pick is former Netherlands centre mid Willem van Hanegem. His XI in full: Yashin; Thuram, Beckenbauer, Maldini, Facchetti; Charlton, Xavi, Van Hanegem; Maradona; Cruyff, Pele.

Chris James thought he might have been a bit late with his submission, but his solid side - which features a rare nod for ex-Three Lions goalkeeper Gordon Banks and two-time Brazilian World Cup winner Garrincha - has earned his line-up a mention. His XI in full: Banks; Cafu, Beckenbauer, Baresi, Maldini, Mattaius, Zidane, Maradona; Pele, Messi, Garrincha.

You can still get involved by leaving your best ever XI in the comment section below, or you can share your ideal starti ng 11 by tweeting to@goal_intl with the hashtag greatestXI.

Selasa, 25 Desember 2012

Goal.com's bumper festive quiz: Part two starring Cristiano Ronaldo

Christmas (Getty Images)
Temperatures may be plummeting but the Premier League season is certainly hotting up as the hectic Christmas programme of matches now hits full swing.

Away from the drama on the pitch and your traditional Christmas dinner at home, though, we have some more content to get your teeth into!

All in the name of some festive fun, Goal.com have produced a bumper festive quiz! We are running a mini-quiz every day from Monday to Friday, with pictures, trivia and football-based brainteasers.

Read on for part one and have a go at the questions, leaving your answers in the comments box below. Enjoy!

GUESS THE YEAR



What year was the above picture of Cristiano Ronaldo taken?

GUESS TH E LINK



What is the link between the three men in this picture?

GUESS THE KIT



Which team is this?

TRIVIA

Who is the only current Premier League player to have scored for six different top-flight teams?

Nicky Barmby, Les Ferdinand, Craig Bellamy, Marcus Bent, Andy Cole and Robbie Keane are the former Premier League players who have achieved the feat.

Check back on Wednesday for round three of our fun festive quiz!

Rabu, 19 Desember 2012

New York Red Bulls sign Juninho Pernambucano

Juninho - Vasco (Foto: Site Oficial do Vasco)
New York Red Bulls have announced the signing of former Olympique Lyonnais star Juninho Pernambucano from Vasco da Gama.

The Brazilian played under the club's head of global soccer, Gerard Houllier, at Stade de Gerland, and the Frenchman has decided to bring the veteran playmaker to MLS.

And, despite the player's advancing years, sporting director Andy Roxburgh is certain that he will be a success in the USA.

"Juninho is a world-class player who our global sporting director, Gerard Houllier, and I have known and admired for many years," he said in a team-issued release.

"Aside from being a top dead-ball specialist and a tremendous talent, Juninho is a fantastic professional both on and off the field.

"He is in great physical shape, and we think he can make a positive impact for us in 2013."

Minggu, 16 Desember 2012

Beckham will not be joining Perth Glory, says owner

David Beckham

Perth Glory owner Tony Sage has revealed that David Beckham will not be joining his side and is unlikely to join any team in the Australian A-League.

Sage crossed paths with the former England captain at the premiere 'Viva Forever' at the O2 Arena in London and upon meeting the 36-year-old he admitted he could not resist asking him about a potential move to Australia, only to be turned down.

"I got the chance to chat to David, and of course I asked him about coming to Australia," Sage told footballaustralia.com.au.

"He looked me in the eye and basically said, 'That would be nice, but it's too far away from my businesses.'

Sage also believes Beckham is unlikely to turn out for any Australian side as it is too far from the midfielders current bases in America and Europe.

He continued: It would have been great to have him at Perth Glory, but it looks like that won't be happening. I just don't th ink he'll be coming to Australia, full stop."

Beckham is looking for a new club after ending his five-year association with MLS side LA Galaxy earlier this month.

Bradley honoured to play with Totti at Roma

Michael Bradley
Michael Bradley has revealed that it is an honour to play with Francesco Totti at Roma after describing the veteran forward as "one of the best players in history".

The USA international earned a summer transfer to the Giallorossi following an impressive 2011-12 campaign with Chievo, where he managed to get his career back on track after a failed spell at Premier League outfit Aston Villa.

He has since become a regular starter under Zdenek Zeman, making 10 Serie A appearances for the capital club, and Bradley believes the opportunity of working alongside 'Il Capitano' each day has been a rewarding experience.

"Everything has gone well so far," Bradley toldtopmercato.com. " I feel great, even if I have to improve my distribution and usage of the ball.

"I also appreciate the presence of a leader like Totti. He is one of the best players in history. I feel lucky to play alongside him."

After an inconsi stent start to the season, which culminated in a derby defeat to Lazio in early November, Roma have since strung together a run of five straight victories, including a 4-2 win over league rivals Fiorentina last weekend.

And Bradley believes his side have hit form at the right time, as the fight for a Champions League finish prepares to heat up after the winter break.

"We are a young team, but players like Totti and [Pablo] Osvaldo enable us to learn a lot," he added.

"Napoli, Lazio and Fiorentina are very strong, but we plan to fight with them for a place in the Champions League."

Sabtu, 15 Desember 2012

Al-Ahly - Monterrey Preview: After close call against Corinthians, Egyptian side hope to repeat 2006 finish

CWC Al Ahly-Corinthians - Actions 02


Six years after their bronze medal finish in the tournament, Al-Ahly are looking to cap off their fourth Fifa Club World Cup campaign with a third-place finish over North American challengers Monterrey.

The Egyptian side performed well beyond expectations in their December 12 semi-final against Corinthians, allowing just one goal and applying a surprising amount of pressure on the Brazilians throughout the second half. Al-Ahly's 34-year-old striker Mohamed Aboutrika, who had been used as a super sub in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, is expected to make his first start of the tournament.

Opponents Monterrey will be looking to recover their damaged pride following a 3-1 defeat by Chelsea in their semi-final. The Rayados rarely saw a chance to attack the European champions, surrendering two own-goals in the process.

  • Al-Ahlyare the only side participating in the Club World Cup to field a squad consisting only of domestic players.
  • The Egyptian side beat another Mexican side, Club America, to seize the bronze in the 2006 competition.
  • By scoring in this match, Mohamed Aboutrika would become the competition's top scorer with at least five goals.
  • Monterrey have already improved on their fifth-place finish in the 2011 CWC.
  • The CONCACAF champions have won just one of their last seven competitive fixtures.
  • After missing last year's CWC due to an ankle injury, striker Aldo de Nigris (right) will be facing an African side for the first time for either club or country.

Kamis, 13 Desember 2012

Monterrey - Chelsea Preview: Benitez searches for first silverware as Blues boss

chelsea preview


Chelsea club captain John Terry (knee) will miss the tournament through injury so Gary Cahill and David Luiz are due to start in the centre of defence for Rafa Benitez's side.

Oriol Romeu is definitely out after learning he has damanged his meniscus and anterior cruciate ligament, and is likely to miss the rest of the 2012-13 season through injury.

Daniel Sturridge (hamstring) has no set return date, and is unlikely to feature for the Champions League winners.

Monterrey forward Humberto Suazo has a tear in his right thigh muscle, and will miss the rest of the tournament as a result.

Cesar de la Pena (knee) is also out of the semi-final tie for the Mexican side.

  • Chel sea have won only three of their last 13, but were victorious in each of their last two matches.
  • Monterrey finished a disappointing seventh of Mexico's Apertura tournament, the first half of the domestic campaign.
  • This will be Rafa Benitez's third Club World Cup campaign, having lost to Sao Paulo with Liverpool in 2005 and triumphed with Inter over Mazembe in 2010. If Chelsea win the trophy, he will draw level with fellow Spaniard Pep Guardiola, who has two winners medals earned with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011.
  • Fernando Torres has scored four goals in his last two games - he currently has 23 in 92 for the club. The Spaniard is 3/1 to score the first goal with William Hill.
  • Torres attempted nine shots in Chelsea's Champions League match against FC Nordsjelland, the most he has ever attempted in a game for the Blues - he scored two goals.
  • Cesar Delgado (right) scored two goals for Monterrey in their last Club World Cup match against Ulsan Hyundai, with the match ending 3-1 to the Mexicans.

'Chelsea are the team to beat' - Goal.com experts give their lowdown on the Club World Cup final four

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The Fifa Club World Cup is underway, leaving the four semi-finalists slugging it out for the increasingly reputable title. With Chelsea, Corinthians, Monterrey and Al-Ahly competing for the crown, there is no other club competition able to draw from such a global selection of clubs.

Hosted in Japan, Chelsea are present on account of their dramatic Champions League victory under Roberto Di Matteo.

This time though, in their Club World Cup debut, Rafa Benitez will lead the Blues as he aims to become the first manager to win two separate titles with two different clubs. Oscar is the one Chelsea first-team player to have played in the tournament before, but he experienced disappointment in 2010 with Internacional as they surprisingly fell to TP Mazemba in the semi-finals.

The Stamford Bridge club face Monterrey, the Mexican winners of the CONCACAF Champions League. Though their prospects seem slim up against the multi-millionaires of Ch elsea, they boast a striker capable of killing off any side in Humberto Suazo.

In the other side of the draw, Egyptian powerhouses Al-Ahly arrive with an African Champions League title on their CV. Many of the squad draw their experience as the Egyptian African Nations winners of 2006, 2008 and 2010, including Mohamed Aboutrika, their battle-hardened 34-year-old midfielder.

They face Corinthians, who arrive as the much-feted Copa Libertadores champions and are predicted to meet Chelsea in the final. With Paulinho in midfield and Emerson leading the line, the Brazilian outfit promise to be competitive.

Goal.com cobbled together the experts to take a more in-depth view of each side. Joao Venturi casts his eye over Corinthians, while Jonathan Wilson puts a case forward for Al-Ahly. In the other side of the draw Peter Staunton assesses Chelsea's chances, while Martin Langer analyses the prospects of Monterrey.

Chelsea - Monterrey Betting Preview: Expect the reinvigorated Blues to have too much for their Mexican opponents

Fernando Torres, Chelsea
Chelseas mid-season sojourn to Asia may disrupt their Premier League season, but it will all be worth it if they can return home as World Club champions.

Interim manager Rafa Benitez has experience of this competition, having won it with Inter Milan and finished as runner-up with Liverpool, and he will be desperate to get the sceptical fans onside with a good performance in Japan.

The first hurdle is a match against North American champions Monterrey, and the Blues are heavy 4/9 (1.44) favourites with Paddy Power to get the ball rolling with a victory.

The Mexicans beat Asian champions Ulsan in the previous round to reach the semi-finals, but are not expected to go much further, at odds of 5/1 (6.00).

Five of the last 10 matches involving either of these teams have ended in stalemate, and you can get odds of 3/1 (4.00) on them cancelling each other out in normal time here.

After a slow start to life under the Spaniard, Chelsea have won their last two matches under Benitez by an aggregate score-line of 9-2, and even Fernando Torres has shown signs of hitting form.

With the former Liverpool striker supported by the likes of Juan Mata, Oscar, Eden Hazard and Victor Moses, the Londoners should have too much for the side with the second-worst defensive record in the top half of the Mexican league.

Considering Los Rayados have only kept one clean sheet in their last 12 matches, odds of 13/10 (2.30) seem very generous for the European champions to overcome a one-goal handicap and win this match.

To be fa ir though, Chelseas backline has hardly been impenetrable recently, conceding at least once in each of the last three matches.

With this in mind, it could be worth having a bet on Aldo De Nigris to hit the back of the net against the Blues, considering the Mexican international has scored twice in his last four outings.

The forward is one of the first names on the team sheet for Victor Vucetichs side, and is not to be missed at handy 4/1 (5.00) to score anytime today. Chelsea should wrap up a comfortable victory but this price looks very tempting for those wanting higher returns.


Sign up with Paddy Power for up to 250 in free bets

Al Hain-Cole is a Liverpool fan, experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.

Senin, 10 Desember 2012

'The greatest goalscorer the game has ever seen' - Goal.com World Player of the Week Lionel Messi


Lionel Messi surpassed the great Gerd Muller's record for goals scored in a calendar year by netting twice in Barcelona's 2-1 win over Betis on Sunday.

The Argentine's first strike involved a trademark dribble from right-to-left diagonally into the box, burying his effort in the bottom right-hand corner. His second came from a similar position, but was created by a deft Andres Iniesta backheel.

Tens of thousands congratulated the Camp Nou star on Sunday night via Twitter, and Goal.com's Robin Bairner suggested: "Tonight the debate should be: who is the second best in the world? [Cristiano] Ronaldo or [Radamel] Falcao? Outstanding from Messi."

Goal.com International's Spanish football expert Ben Hayward summed up the Ballon d'Or candidate's amazing 12 months: "Messi is now, officially, the greatest goalscorer the game has ever seen. Last season, he bette red Muller's mark of 67 goals in a season, netting 73 in 2011-12. And now he has surpassed the German great for goals in a calendar year. The record was 85. Now it's 86 and counting because Leo could yet feature in three more games this year for Barcelona.

"But perhaps the most impressive thing of all was the way he shook off what looked at the time a very painful injury (against Benfica on Wednesday) to come out as if nothing had happened and shoot down Betis with such brilliance just four days later: Messi is irrepressible, irresistible and unstoppable."


The Shortlist

David Beckham would polish the image of French football, believes Carlo Ancelotti

Ligue 1 : Carlo Ancelotti (Paris SG)
Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti has expressed his approval over a transfer of David Beckham to Ligue 1 side Monaco.

The Los Angeles Galaxy star has recently been linked with a number of clubs in Europe, and Monaco are believed to be one of the strongest contenders for the 37-year-old's signature.

The Italian tactician, who had previously ruled out signing the player for Les Parisiens, believes that having the midfielder move to Ligue 1 could do great things for the image of French football.

"[Beckham coming to Monaco would be] very good for the image of France," the 53-year-old told L'Equipe.

"I followed his last six months in the MLS," Ancelotti added. "He is still very good and efficient."

The coach had the opportunity to work with the star during his eight years at Milan, where Beckham enjoyed two loan spells in 2009 and 2010, and he went on to praise the midfielder for being "one of th e most professional players and serious [players] that [he] had."

But despite Ancelotti's comments, the former England captain has claimed that the first time he heard about the link with Monaco was when a friend asked him about it on his way to training, as Goal.com reported on Thursday.

Beckham has appeared 117 times for his country during his career, scoring 17 goals.






Minggu, 09 Desember 2012

Friedel: I'm happy at Tottenham

Europa League - Tottenham Hotspur FC v Panathinaikos FC,  Brad Friedel

Brad Friedel has rejected reports linking him with a return to Blackburn Rovers, insisting that he is happy at Tottenham, despite losing his Premier League starting position to summer signing Hugo Lloris.

The France international joined Andre Villas-Boas' side on deadline day, and after months of criticism from France manager Didier Deschamps, Lloris finally edged Friedel as the manager's number one choice.

But despite his status as 'second-choice', Friedel has insisted that he is focused on Tottenham, where he enjoys competing for the starting position with Lloris.

Friedel told reporters: "Im contracted to Tottenham and Im concentrating on Tottenham. Whatever role they throw at me Ill do it to the best of my capabilities.

"Theres no rivalry with Hugo. At every club, for 21 seasons, theres competition for places. As I said before when I signed the two-year contract I figured I would play last year, this year was an unk nown.

"The club have been on the look-out for a long-term goalkeeper for a couple of years. We also have two other outstanding goalkeepers at the club in Heurelho Gomes and Carlo Cudicini.

"So competition for places? Yes. But the club is going to be around a lot longer than any of us. They want to be in the Champions League and they want to try to win trophies so they continuously have to buy good players in every position.

"Do I thrive on competition? Absolutely. Or else I wouldnt be playing football, and definitely not at the age of 41."

Asked if he will leave White Hart Lane in January, Friedel responded: "Thats all hypothetical. Im at Tottenham and Im very happy here."

Friedel joined the club on a free transfer in 2011, and continued to build up his impressive statistic of consecutive Premier League games under Harry Redknapp.

However, his run of 310 games came to an end when Lloris started against Aston Vill a, meaning the 41-year-old missed his first Premier League game in over eight years.

Sabtu, 08 Desember 2012

QPR boss Harry Redknapp eyes MLS loan deals

Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS, MLS Cup
QPR boss Harry Redknapp says he could look to the MLS in the January transfer window.

However, the 65-year-old may have a limited budget at his disposal after Tony Fernandes already invested large sums in former manager Mark Hughes' underachieving squad over the summer.

Redknapp will look at loan deals for MLS stars keen to return to England during the American off-season. Former Everton stars Tim Cahill and Landon Donovan are among those mentioned, but former Spurs striker Robbie Keane is top of the QPR manager's list.

"The MLS market is one that we've got to look at," Redknapp told Sky Sports.

"Robbie's a good shout. He probably would be an interesting player.

"I haven't spoken to him yet, no, but he would be an interesting player. He's a good pro and he would be the ideal type to have around for sure because he would give us something."

Another former Spurs man who could be avai lable is David Bentley. His loan deal at Russian side FC Rostov ends in January.

"Bentley's a good player," Redknapp added. "It shows that he must have wanted to play football to go to Russia so credit to him.

"He could have stayed and took his money but he's gone out to Russia. Dave's a good footballer - I haven't had problems with him."

The west London outfit are still without a win this season and are rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table.

Jumat, 07 Desember 2012

Kaka laughs off LA Galaxy rumours

Kaka_UEFA_Real Madrid 4-1 Ajax
Kaka has reiterated his desire to stay at Real Madrid for the foreseeable future, and has insisted that there is no truth in the rumours linking him withLA Galaxy.

The MLS side supposedly see the Brazil international as the ideal replacement for David Beckham following the latter's departure, but Kaka is keen to remain at his current club.

"There's nothing going on with LA Galaxy or the MLS at the moment. We'll see what Real Madrid have in mind," Kaka was quoted as saying AS.

"I have always said I would be delighted to stay here. I'm fine and I have a contract to 2015.

"I hope to know the club's decision and its position shortly. In the summer we will find a solution. I will continue to train and do what I do."

Kaka featured from the start in Real Madrid's 4-1 Champions League win over Ajax on Tuesday, and netted once from outside the 18-yard box to help his side to a comfortable home victory.

Kamis, 06 Desember 2012

Henry agrees to rejoin Arsenal for a third spell

FA Cup - Arsenal vs Leeds United, Thierry Henry
EXCLUSIVE
By Wayne Veysey Chief Correspondent

Thierry Henry has agreed in principle to make a sensational return toArsenal for a third spell in January, Goal.comcan reveal.

The club are aiming for their all-time leading goalscorer to begin his second loan in consecutive seasons on January 1.

Henry has told Arsenal that he wants to return to the Emirates Stadium and the Londoners are now thrashing out an agreement with his club, New York Red Bulls, on the terms of the deal. The key sticking point is the length of the loan, with Arsene Wenger keen to have the 35-year-old for as long as possible.

The MLS club have given the go-ahead for Henry to join for a similar six-week period to last season but they are reluctant for the Frenchman to be allowed an extension to his stay much beyond mid-February.

Henry is due back in New York to honour the final year of his contract with the Red Bulls, where the season runs from March to November.

However, discussions are more advanced than at this time last year and there should not be a repeat of the hitches which held up the deal in late December and early January in 2011-12.

As a result of medical and insurance issues, the forward's registration did not go through until January 7 and the first of his seven substitute appearances was in the 1-0 win over Leeds United in the FA Cup two days later, when he came off the bench to score a late winner.

Arsenal and Henry are confident that he can make an even bigger impact than his output of two goals - a third strike was later chalked off retrospectively - in seven games last season.

Wenger decided to make a move for the club's 228-goal record scorer after being struck by his condition and sharpness during a few training sessions at London Colney in November after Henry had completed a third season at the Red Bulls.

The striker will train with Arsenal in December when he returns from holiday and should be back in the first-team squad and available for selection for the New Year.

Wenger has made no attempt to hide his desire to bring Henry back for a third spell, following his record-breaking eight years from 1999 to 2007 and then his loan last season.

Asked about his fellow Frenchman, Wenger previously remarked: "A loan [for Henry] is still a possibility but we will still try to strengthen for the long term.

"Henry is the talent that you dream to have. He has fantastic physique, fantastic technique, a fantastic brain, all built together in one man. At the start he was not confident enough but he has gone on to show what a great player he is."

Henry will offer a temporary solution to Arsenal's centre forward problem but Wenger is still keen to move for a long-term forward signing in January. As revealed by Goal.com, his top target is Atletico Madrid's Adrian Lopez.

The Londoners will lose Gervinho on Africa Cup of Nations duty in January for up to six weeks and doubt surrounds the future of Theo Walcott, even though progress has been made in his contract negotiations with the club.

Henry will return to Arsenal on the back of his best season for the Red Bulls. The former France international capped an excellent campaign, which yielded 15 goals in 29 games, by being one of the three players nominated for the MLS most valuable player of the year award. Graham Zusi of Sporting Kansas City and San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski are the other nominees.

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Selasa, 04 Desember 2012

Jol: Fulham did everything they could to convince Dempsey to stay

Clint Dempsey - Manchester United vs. Tottenham

Fulham boss Martin Jol insists he has "no regrets" over Clint Dempsey's summer departure to Tottenham, suggesting that the Cottagers did all they could to stop the midfielder from leaving.

The USA international was the club's top goalscorer last season with 23 goals in all competitions, but a desire to regularly play in Europe prompted a move to White Hart Lane on the last day of the summer transfer window.

And, ahead of Dempseys return to Craven Cottage with his new side, Jol has said he has no lingering regrets over the transfer saga and respects the American's decision to leave.

"We did everything we could do so there are no regrets, Jol told reporters.

"He wanted to be appreciated financially and he wanted a bigger club, a Champions League club, and that is what he probably got with Spurs.

"Even when I said in my last conversation with him that I loved him, it was not good enough to keep him here. If you feel appreciated, you would like maybe to stay at Fulham so there is a contradiction there.

"I think he felt loved but he still wanted to move, but of course I understand what he means.

Jol went on to suggest that Dempseys mind was made up about leaving Craven Cottage as soon as he returned for pre-season training in July, with Liverpool heavy touted as his initial destination.

"From the first day he came back from holiday he didn't want to play here. He wanted to move so of course you can force the issue and then come up with things," Jol continued.

"But hopefully he will get over it and hopefully he will feel loved at Spurs."

Keane wants long-term LA Galaxy stay

Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy, MLS
Robbie Keane did his best to dispel any notion that he is looking to leave LA Galaxy anytime soon ahead of Saturday's MLS Cup.

The Republic of Ireland international has been a major hit during his time in Los Angeles, so much so that his future in MLS has been called into question a number of times.

But, despite moves back to Europe being mooted, the ex-Tottenham and Liverpool forward plans to stay for the foreseeable future.

"I'm really enjoying my time here, and as long as I keep enjoying myself and as long as I keep letting my football do the talking I'll be very happy to stay," Keane told reporters at a press conference on Friday. "I look forward to a number of years here."

The Irish striker has not always spoken so definitively about his MLS future. Following a successful loan spell with Aston Villa at the start of 2012, Keane had hinted at a move back to England.

In 32 regular season games with the team this season, the striker has scored 18 goals and added 10 assists.

In five play-off games this year he has scored five goals. He was named to the 2012 MLS Best XI earlier this week, and will take place in his second consecutive MLS Cup on Saturday.

"I'm very happy and very content here," Keane insisted. "When you're playing in a team like this and getting to championship finals every year, for me this is the second year in a row, so that certainly does help."

With the January transfer window coming up for European clubs - and with Premier League sides such as Norwich, Everton and QPR reportedly interested - Keane says he has not yet decided on a if he will repeat last season's short-term return to England at the start of 2013.

"Regarding going back, it isn't something I've even thought about to be honest with you," the Irishman added.

"My main focus now is tomorrow's game and let's see how I feel, but for now my first prerogative is the LA Galaxy and that will always be the case."

Club World Cup 2012 Team Intros: Monterrey

Rayados de Monterrey
PROFILE
By Eric Gomez

The 2012 Club World Cup kicks off in less than one week, and is set to cap off the year in football as the world's most well-known clubs vie to be named the best.

The tournament, which runs from December 6 to 16 in Japan, will see the top clubs from all the world's confederations battling it out, and, while most football fans are familiar with the likes of Barcelona and Santos, several of the other competitors are in need of introduction.

Goal.com presents to you all seven teams that will be taking part in this highly-anticipated competition. Here, we profile Monterrey.


Senin, 03 Desember 2012

LA Galaxy - Houston Dynamo Betting Preview: Expect a high-scoring match for Beckham's grand finale

David Beckham - Los Angeles Galaxy
The MLS reaches its climax on Saturday evening, as the glamour of LA Galaxy take on the graft of Houston Dynamo with the championship title up for grabs.

The fixture is a rematch of last years final between these two sides, when Los Galacticos came out on top in a tight game thanks to a goal from Landon Donovan.

The champions are favourites to retain their title this year, with Marathon Bet offering odds of 22/25 (1.88) on a win for Bruce Arenas men.

Houston Dynamo actually emerged victorious in the last meeting between these two sides, but are a long shot at 71/20 (4.55) to take home the MLS Cup for the third time in their short history.

Only four of the 18 encounters between this pair have resulted in a draw, but you can get odds of 5/ 2 (3.50) on them cancelling each other out this time.

Although this match has understandably been billed as a farewell to David Beckham, who is set to leave the USA for a new challenge after the final, there are a number of other excellent players on display at the Home Depot Center.

Robbie Keane and Will Bruin have scored a combined 37 goals for Galaxy and Dynamo respectively, and both come into this match in fine form.

With such attacking talent on display, it is worth taking up the odds of 59/20 (3.95) on any player to score two goals, especially considering Keane has hit two doubles in his last three games, while Bruin also scored twice in the play-off win over Colorado Rapids.

Aside from that pair, the likes of Donovan, Oscar Boniek Garcia and of course Beckha m, will surely guarantee a fittingly entertaining final, with plenty of goalmouth action at both ends.

With seven of Galaxys last nine matches having featured at least three goals, odds of 11/10 (2.10) seem like terrific value on over 2.5 goals being scored in this match, and are surely too good to pass up.


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Al Hain-Cole is a Liverpool fan, experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.

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Minggu, 02 Desember 2012

Omar Gonzalez savours 'emotional' MLS Cup triumph

Omar Gonzalez, Tommy Meyer, Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS
LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez, described his side's MLS Cup triumph as "emotional" after scoring the equaliser in their 3-1 win over Houston Dynamo.

The match was billed as David Beckham's finale as he played his last game for the MLS outfit, but Gonzalez did his best to steal the show with an outstanding display that defied his previous injury struggles.

"I never thought for a second that when I made my comeback this season I'd be MVP in the final," the stopper said after the match. "It was a very emotional moment, after my injury I never thought I'd experience something like this.

"After my operation last winter I really had my doubts [if would get back to my best]. I was seriously wondering what kind of level I would be able to play at again.

"I know I'm back to where I was before the injury, but the best is yet to come."

The Texan suffered an injury to his left knee when on trial at Bundesliga club Nurnberg.

Cartoon of the Day: Hollywood ending for Beckham as curtain closes on LA journey

Does he write his own scripts? He must do, right? David Beckham ended his time in the United States by helping LA Galaxy triumph 3-1 over Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup final.

It meant the California franchise retained the MLS Cup for the second year running and ensured Becks left an indellible print on Major League Soccer after his five-and-a-half year association with the league.

Though he lived up to Los Angeles expectations with the happiest of endings - Beckham was substituted in the 94th minute to give him a chance to wave to the fans, hug his team-mates and indeed one 'unidentified fan' (Robbie Keane) - there is a sense that this isn't quite the end for the 37-year-old.

He admits he has "no idea" where he will move to for his final, final swansong, but you would not bet against him bringing just as much drama and theatre to proceedings - after all, he has now won the league title in his final year at Manchester United, Real Madrid a nd LA Galaxy.

Sabtu, 01 Desember 2012

LA Galaxy 3-1 Houston Dynamo: Dream end for Beckham as Robbie Keane completes scoring in MLS Cup victory

Omar Gonzalez, Tommy Meyer, Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS
LA Galaxy retained the MLS Cup with a 3-1 victory over Houston Dynamos in David Beckham's final game for the club, with Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane scoring goals to seal the win.

Omar Gonzalez and Donovan scored within minutes of each other to overcome Calen Carr's 44th-minute opener for the Dynamos, and the Galaxy added a stoppage-time penalty from Keane to capture their second consecutive MLS Cup title and send Beckham out of MLS as a two-time champion with a 3-1 victory in front of a sell-out crowd of 30,510 at the Home Depot Center.

The Galaxy had their fair share of chances to get on the board earlier in the game but could not convert. Donovan missed the most golden of the chances in the 13th minute. Beckham picked out Keane down the left with a trademark long pass out of the back, and Keane set up the American perfectly from point-blank range. The Galaxy captain's first-time effort went wide of the mark though, as confetti cannons at th e Home Depot Center shot off in anticipation of the finish.

The Galaxy then had another great chance in the 20th minute, with Beckham serving a pinpoint free kick from the right to the far post, where Mike Magee's close-range header went over the bar. Keane then had an apparent-equalising goal waved off in the 48th minute after a redirected Beckham free kick was sent in Keane's path, but the Irishman was in an offside position as he fired past Hall.

Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall had punched away a Beckham corner kick, but the ball worked its way back to Sean Franklin and then to Juninho, whose perfect ball from the right to Gonzalez was headed home in the 61st minute.

The Dynamo had taken the lead through Carr just before half-time. Adam Moffat played the speedy forward down the right, where he beat Tommy Meyer for pace and was kept onside by Gonzalez. Carr took a touch toward goal and finished with a drive past Josh Saunders as Meyer tracked back to recover, giving Houston a huge momentum swing heading into halftime.

Carr had been out with a left hamstring strain, missing the Eastern Conference final series against D.C. United but regained fitness at a perfect time for the Dynamo. He had a would-be second goal robbed by Saunders, who dived to his left to snatch a point-blank header from Carr off a cross from Will Bruin in the 56th minute. He departed soon after with an apparent leg injury after colliding with Gonzalez, though, and the Galaxy promptly equalised moments later.

Donovan netted the second (his MLS record 22nd postseason goal and record fifth cup final goal) from the penalty spot in the 65th minute, after a scramble in the area resulted in a handball by Ricardo Clark. That came moments after Gonzalez headed home the equalizer off a cross from Juninho.

Keane got his in the dying seconds, though, earn ing a penalty on Hall off a breakaway and firing home from the penalty spot to seal the victory.

With the victory, Donovan has a record-tying five MLS Cup triumphs, Bruce Arena has an MLS-record four as a coach and the Galaxy tied D.C. United with a league-best four titles.

Jumat, 30 November 2012

Keane fans flames in Kaka to LA Galaxy rumours

Kak√° - Brazil
Robbie Keane has fanned the flames linking Kaka with a move to LA Galaxy, as the MLS club begin their search for a big name to replace the outgoing David Beckham.

The Brazilian playmaker has struggled to find consistent first-team action at Real Madrid, and the MLS Cup finalists would offer a potential outlet should the Real Madrid star seek a transfer.

"If we want to - as a team and an organisation - to push on and be the best that we can, to attract players like Kaka would be brilliant," Robbie Keane has told reporters at a press conference.

Rumours continue to link the 30-year-old away from Santiago Bernabeu. Kaka has largely failed to recapture his AC Milan form which saw him awarded the 2007 Ballon d'Or.

"Someone like Kaka was only voted one of the best players in the world a few years ago," Keane said. "We welcome anyone with his stature and his ability to the Galaxy, but ultimately it's down to the boss."

The 'boss' - AEG president Tim Leiweke - agrees with the Republic of Ireland international. The man who brought Beckham to Los Angeles is now batting his eyelashes at Kaka, and doing so publicly.

Kaka has frequently talked of his admiration of the United States. His brother, Digao, plays for the New York Red Bulls, and the best man at his wedding, Marcelo Saragosa, is at DC United.

"We're well aware of Kaka's interest in MLS, and we in turn have made it very clear to him that he's aware of our interest in him," Leiweke told Sports Illustrated.

"We have a great relationship with Real Madrid, and just as we worked through a player with them six years ago [Beckham], I'm absolutely convinced we could find the right deal this time, too."

Beckham would be a super signing for Monaco, says Ranieri

Claudio Ranieri - Inter
Claudio Ranieri has admitted that David Beckham would be a fantastic signing for Monaco, but insists he has not yet spoken to the 37-year-old about a possible switch.

The re-emerging French powerhouse have recently been credited with an interest in the former Real Madrid and Manchester United man, who is set to leave LA Galaxy at the end of the MLS season.

And when quizzed about whether the midfielder would pitch up at Stade Louis II at some point during the January transfer window, the Italian coach was enthusiastic about the prospect.

"About Beckham, I read and heard the same thing as you in the media," Ranieri told reporters.

Rabu, 28 November 2012

Aguirre replaces Pochettino as Espanyol coach

Javier Aguirre observa atentamente (Getty)

Javier Aguirre has been named the new coach of Espanyol, taking over from the sacked Mauricio Pochettino.

The Argentine trainer had overseen a disappointing run of results that left the Catalan outfit bottom of La Liga with nine points from 13 games, and was dismissed on Monday.

And the club have wasted no time in appointing the former Mexico boss, who has signed a contract that expires at the season's end.

"Espanyol and Javier Aguirre have sealed a deal for the Mexican to become coach of the Blue and Whites until the end of the season," an official club statement read.

The Mexican, who has previous Liga experience with Osasuna, Atletico Madrid and Zaragoza, will get under way in the Primera Division with a trip to Granada on Sunday.