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Nov 052013
Italia weekly 2013-14 logo

Brian Sanders navigates the multitude of Serie A results before jumping in and examining the upcoming European adventures and weekend fixtures

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Oct 292012

Clint Dempsey, Terrance Boyd, and Herculez Gomez all found the back of the net this weekend, while other Americans competed in the first round of the Europa and Champions League.


Brad Friedel made one save in Tottenham’s 2-1 win over Southampton on Saturday. This comes after not starting for Tottenham last Thursday in the team’s 1-1 draw against NK Maribor in the first phase of the Europa League. Clint Dempsey played the full match on Saturday and scored his second goal for Tottenham since joining the team in August. Dempsey’s stoppage time goal became the game winner for Tottenham against Southampton. On Wednesday, Friedel and Dempsey take on Norwich City in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup before hosting Wigan Athletic on Saturday. The team now jumps to fourth in the league just one point over Everton.

Brad Guzan made three saves in Aston Villa’s 1-1 draw against Norwich City on Saturday. Eric Lichaj played 36 minutes for Aston Villa. Villa hovers two points above the relegation zone in the 17th spot. Villa, now just two points above the relegation zone, takes on Swindon Town in midweek League Cup action, when they take the field next. On Tuesday, the Villans play Swindon Town in a Capital One match-up before traveling to Sunderland on Saturday.

Tim Howard made two saves for Everton in their 2-2 draw against Liverpool on Sunday. The Toffees remain fifth place in the league and travel to Fulham on Saturday

Geoff Cameron played the full match in Stoke City’s scoreless draw against Sunderland on Saturday. Maurice Edu was not included on the game-day roster. The Potters drop to 13th in the league. They travel to Norwich City on Saturday.

Tim Ream played 90 minutes for Bolton Wanderers in their 2-1 loss to Middlesbrough on Saturday. Just days before Ream and Bolton played to a 2-2 draw against Wolverhampton in midweek action. Bolton remains at 18th in the league and host table-leaders Cardiff City on Saturday.

Jonathan Spector was subbed in for Birmingham City in the final minutes of the team’s 1-0 shutout over Leeds United on Saturday. The Blues host Ipswich City on Saturday.


Oguchi Onyewu came on in the final minute of Malaga’s 1-0 win over AC Milan last Wednesday. Onyewu was an unused sub in Malaga’s scoreless draw against Espanyol in league play on Saturday. Los Boquerones host Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.

Carlos Bocanega went 90 minutes in Racing Santander’s 1-0 loss to Elche on Sunday. With the loss the team drops in the relegation zone in the 19th spot. Racing have gone five matches without a win. Bocanegra and Racing host AD Alcorcon on Saturday.


Steve Cherundolo was an unused sub in Hannover 96?s 3-2 loss to Borussia Moenchengladbach on Sunday. On Thursday, Cherundolo played the full 90 in Hannover 96?s Europa League win over Alejandro Bedoya and Helsingborgs IF on Thursday. The Cherundolo and the Reds played to a 2-1 win in first leg of their match-up against Helsingborgs. Hannover drops to tenth in the league and will host FC Augsburg on Saturday.

Jermaine Jones and Schalke 04 played to a 1-0 win over FC Nurnberg on Saturday. Timmy Chandler went 90 minutes for Nurnberg in the match. Last Wednesday, Schalke came out victorious in the first leg of their match-up with Arsenal with a 2-0 shutout Jermaine Jones and the Royal Blues take on Hoffenheim on Saturday along with Americans Fabian Johnson and Danny Williams. Chandler and Nurnberg have not had a victory in seven matches. They host VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday.

Fabian Johnson and Danny William both went 90 minutes in Hoffenheim’s 3-0 defeat to Mainz on Saturday. Williams picked up a yellow card in the match. Hoffenheim sits at 14th in the league.


A week after returning from suspension, Jozy Altidore made an assist in AZ Alkmaar’s 2-1 win over Vitesse Arnhem on Sunday. The win moves AZ to tenth in standings. Their Dutch /cup match against Sneek on Wednesday has been postponed. Altidore and AZ return to league play on Sunday when they host VVV Venlo.


On Friday, Michael Parkhurst was an unused sub in FC Nordsjaelland’s 1-0 win over Aalborg BK on Friday. Parkhurst and Nordsjaelland are third in standings one point behind second. The team travels to Sonderjyske on Saturday.

Clarence Goodson picked up a yellow card in Brondby IF’s 1-1 draw against FC Midtjylland on Sunday. Brondby is at the bottom of the table in the relegation zone. Goodson and Brondby have not had a win in 11 matches. They take on Odense BK on Sunday.


Mix Diskerud went 90 minutes in Rosenborg BK’s 2-0 defeat to Molde FK on Sunday. On Thursday, Diskerud picked up a yellow card in Rosenborg’s 2-1 loss to FC Metalist Kharkiv. The loss drops the team to second in standings. Rosenborg take on Stromsgodset on Sunday.


Alejandro Bedoya went 78 minutes in Helsingborgs IF’s 3-1 win over GAIS on Sunday. Last Thursday, Bedoya and his team were defeated 2-1 by Steve Cherundolo and Hannover 96 in the first leg of their Europa League match-up. Helsingborgs sits at fifth in the Allsvenkanliga league. The team hosts IFK on Wednesday before traveling to Gefle IF on Sunday.


Terrence Boyd scored the game-winner in Rapid Vienna’s 2-0 win over SV Salzburg on Sunday. Boyd also picked up a yellow card in the match. Boyd and Vienna were defeated 4-0 by Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday in the first round of the Europa League. The team travels to SK Sturm Graz on Saturday.


Jose Torres had an assist and picked up a yellow card in Pachuca’s 1-0 shutout over Tigres UANL on Saturday. Pachuca sits at 13th on the table. Torres and Pachuca travel to Azteca on Saturday to take on Club America.

Herculez Gomez scored a goal for Santos Laguna in the team’s 3-2 loss to Monterrey on Saturday. Gomez also scored last Wednesday in Santos’ 1-0 win over Toronto FC in the CONCACAF Champions League. Herculez’s game winner eliminated Toronto FC from the competition. With the win, Santos advance to the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. Santos hosts Cruz Azul on Friday.

Youth Served! (Liverpool 5-3 Young Boys)

 Posted by on September 20, 2012 at 9:01 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Liverpool
Sep 202012

Okay, so it’s not exactly a pun but it’s still very cliche!

The headlines pretty much wrote themselves yesterday when Brendan Rodgers declared he would be bringing a whole lot of young players with him for Liverpool’s Europa League opener against Switzerland’s Young Boys. However, as the match showed us you don’t need experience to produce a quality match.

The scoring was opened by Young Boys who conceded a fourth minute own goal. They would storm back later in the first half, only to have Andrew Wisdom reclaim the lead for the Reds just before halftime. Then things really became interesting. The Swiss lads then proceeded to score twice in less than ten minutes before Sebastian Coates tied things up. Jonjo Shelvey then sealed the deal with a pair of goals in the 76th and 88th minutes.

There’s certainly a lot to be optimistic about. This was a genuine reserve squad that not only solved the first team’s greatest obstacle (scoring), but did so in a Europa League match against a legitimate Young Boys IN Switzerland. They kept their composure throughout a very back and forth match. Even better for Liverpool was the result of the group’s other match: a 1-1 draw between Udinese and Anzhi Makhachkala.

Take the result with a grain of salt though. The defense was still quite porous against the group’s weakest opponent. And even if Brendan Rodgers was crazy enough to play this same lineup on Sunday against Manchester United, they still wouldn’t have a prayer of duplicating their performance against the Red Devils. It’s great to know the reserves are capable of scoring in bunches, but it remains to be seen if the first team can do the same against a strong United defense.

The crowd will certainly be electric this weekend. A rivalry match in the first home match since the Hillsborough Report was released is sure to get the players excited and ready. Unfortunately, United will prove to be a tough nut to crack for Liverpool’s First XI.

Prediction: Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United


“Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone!”

Aug 232012

They didn’t score, but Liverpool will leave Scotland with a one goal advantage thanks to a 78th minute own goal from Hearts defender Andy Webster.

I found the game to be surprisingly enjoyable, though for all the wrong reasons. It was a very back and forth affair with both sides making more mistakes than actually creating chances. When it was all said and done though, all I could think about was one thing.

“I’m absolutely right.”

Arrogant, I know. A couple weeks ago I wrote about how I wish Liverpool would go out and spend more during the transfer window. Well this match showed just how much Liverpool need to spend if they want to remain a serious threat for the English Premier League title and a berth in the Champions League every year. Right now it seems like Fenway Sports Group and Brendan Rodgers have a long term plan in place to rebuild the squad from the ground up with Rodgers handpicking each player for his “tiki taka” system.

I don’t think Liverpool can afford to wait that long though. Rodgers sent out a reserve team against Hearts (minus Daniel Agger and Pepe Reina) and they struggled mightily against the Scottish side. Hearts certainly played well enough to have earned a draw, but we saw the reinforcements, so to speak, for Liverpool and they did not impress. I asked myself: how many of these starters would I feel comfortable inserting into the regular Starting XI at a moment’s notice? All I could come up with was Raheem Sterling and he didn’t have that great of a match. No other player impressed me enough for consideration.

This is where money and transfers comes into play. Many will say that Manchester City bought the EPL title last season. Strange when you consider they needed a last gasp goal on the final day of the season to do so. Sure, City have splashed lots of cash on plenty of quality players. That’s exactly what you’re supposed to do. Because if you’re a top flight club in England, you need all the help you can get. It’s already difficult trying to navigate league play from August until May. It’s even more difficult when you have two cup competitions and European competition thrown on top of that. You almost need two Starting XIs in order to be successful. City had that last season and Arsenal have attempted to do so going back to last summer. You don’t spend a ton of money on one player (i.e. Ronaldo, Fernando Torres, etc) but rather you go out and spend on many different players. Last season Arsenal pulled in the likes of Yossi Benayoun and Mikel Arteta. This season they’ve gone out and gotten Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud, and Santi Cazorla. Chelsea have gone out and bought Romelu Lukaku, Daniel Sturridge, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Gary Cahill, and now (reportedly) Victor Moses; all within the past 18 months.

Now I realize the problem here: Liverpool went out and did just that last season by buying up Andy Carroll, Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing, and Sebastian Coates. They spent a fortune on a handful of players. But those players were not being properly rated. Why? Because for whatever reason, British players are constantly being overvalued in today’s transfer market. So far Joe Allen and Fabio Borini, Brendan Rodgers’ two purchases who have played so far, have looked like decent pickups. Time will tell if Oussama Assaidi was a smart choice to bring in. But it can’t stop here. Liverpool HAVE to do whatever it takes to bring in Clint Dempsey AND Nuri Sahin. Veterans (Jamie Carragher) and promising youngsters (Jonjo Shelvey and Jay Spearing) have to be sold in order to be flipped into a quality center back and striker who are talented enough to start on any given Saturday, regardless of the system being used. The new system relies so much on precision and timing that you literally cannot afford to have mediocre players playing within it, regardless of their pass completion percentage. It works for Barcelona (and Spain) BECAUSE they have the best players in the world…and then some very good players coming off the bench as well.

Depth is the most important thing right now for Liverpool if they want to return to the Top 4 every year. If Manchester City, Arsenal, and Chelsea have taught us anything, it’s that you need to reach deep inside your wallet to obtain that depth. Two of those clubs weren’t always great. They became great when they found owners willing spend money to make money.

It’s time Liverpool does the same before Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson become the only options available to start at a moment’s notice.


“Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone!”

Reunited and it feels so good

 Posted by on August 25, 2011 at 11:46 pm  Uncategorized
Aug 252011

The road to Munich begins at Stamford Bridge

uefa Reunited and it feels so good

UEFA held the draw in Monaco today determining the makeup of the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. Chelsea were drawn in Group E with Spanish side Valencia Club de Fútbol, German club Bayer 04 Leverkusen, and Belgian Pro League Champions KRC Genk.

There will be a couple of reunions in Group E as a new Chelsea signing will return to face his former club, a former blue will return to Stamford Bridge but this time as the opposition, and two clubs will battle it out again after playing one another in pre-season.

The Opposition

Valencia could be a tough opponent in the group stage especially at the Mestalla. Roberto Soldado will be at the head of Valencia’s attack with midfielders David Albelda and Ever Banega providing the support. A few new young players arrived over the summer, Sergio Canales arrived from Real Madrid on a two year season long loan. Pablo Piatti, the young Argentine striker was bought over the summer and looks to be the replaccement for the now Chelsea player Juan Mata. “The draw has been a little bit devious in putting Valencia and Juan Mata’s Chelsea in the same group. said Valencia manager Unai Emery “It will be something special for our fans to see Juan playing at Mestalla in a different shirt. Everyone who has shared a dressing room with him has learned from him as he is a great footballer. I wish him all the luck in the world in his new adventure, except of course when he comes up against us.” Valencia were only able to make it to the round of sixteen in last season’s Champions League, however Los Che did finish third in La Liga last season behind Real Madrid and Barcelona. With the financial hardships Valencia is dealing with can they actually make it out of the group stage let alone top the group? We’ll see in December.

Though they’re not the same team that were runners-up to Real Madrid in the 2002 final, Bayer Leverkusen did come in second in the Bundesliga last season and made it to the round of 16 in the Europa League. Now under manager Robin Dutt, Bayer are hoping to exceed what they did under Jupp Heynckes who is now manager of FC Bayern München. Leverkusen will be without last season’s leading goal scorer Arturo Vidal who moved to Juventus in the summer, but the Werkself are hoping to have a fully fit Stefan Kießling this season. The 6 ft 4 inch German striker missed some of last season due to an ankle injury and only scored nine goals last season compared to the twenty-one he scored the prior season. Chelsea will see a familiar face in the Leverkusen squad. Michael Ballack will return to West London where he made 105 appearances and scored 17 goals for Chelsea winning three FA Cups, a Carling Cup, and a League title. The 34 year-old midfielder moved to the BayArena after his contract expired with Chelsea in May of 2010 and signed a two-year contract with Leverkusen that summer. So far Ballack has made nineteen appearances for the club.

KRC Genk have connection with Chelsea as the Blues acquired goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois earlier in the summer, but immediately loaned him to Atlético Madrid. The Belgian Champions will be without their highly rated youngster Kevin De Bruyne who Chelsea were interested in buying this summer. The Belgian midfielder will be out at least four more weeks with a leg injury. Mario Been has replaced Frank Vercauteren as the coach of KRC Genk. Vercauteren left the Belgian champions to join United Arab Emirates side Al-Jazira Club. KRC Genk played Bayer Leverkusen back in July and lost to the German Club 4-1.

Chelsea’s first match in the group stage is at home to Bayer on September 13. On September 28 they travel to the Mestalla to play Valencia. Chelsea are back home on October 19 where they will play KRC Genk, then they play the away match on the first of November. On November 23 they head to the Germany to Bayer, and the final match in the group stage is at home to Valencia on December 6.