Category Archives: Football

Alan Shearer said Chelsea are the closest we have in Britain to Barcelona


I for one was surprised to hear Alan Shearer state on BBC’s Match of the day that Chelsea are “The closest to Barcelona we have in this country” on Saturday night but then again are we surprised?

Now don’t get me wrong, I am far from going over the top here about our new playing style and attacking three this season but you have to admit, the way they have got used to playing alongside each other and the understanding they have already is surprising and things are going well.

You think of Barcelona and you think of their midfield. Busquets, Iniesta, Xavi, Fabregas and Pedro all playing behind Lionel Messi and we have all seen just how amazing they can be.

We look at Chelsea now and we see Mikel, Ramires, Hazard, Mata and Oscar all behind Torres and you have to say we are well on the way to something similar but to say we are close to Barcelona is early days indeed.

The thing is, I can’t help but think that the more the likes of Mata, Oscar and Hazard play alongside each other, they can only get better and better.

Maybe then, and only then, we can even be compared to the best team in the world over the last few years (even though they still haven’t beaten us!).

Culled from

5 things we learned in the Champions League (Chelsea vs Valencia)

1 Lampard could be warming a few benches this season

As a message of where he figures in the André Villas-Boas project the placing of Chelsea’s once great ape among the replacements for a match that could define the club’s season and the coach’s tenure could not be clearer. At Newcastle United on Saturday Lampard started, then lasted just beyond the hour before being taken off, with the cameras zooming in on the 33-year-old’s thunderous face and a few hardly disguised shakes of the head.

Tonight Lampard was not trusted in the starting XI, Raul Meireles getting the nod. His Portuguese manager has clearly judged that the zip that made him Super Frank is no more. Lampard’s game sense and experience still remain, as they always do in any top professional. He now has to prove that Villas-Boas cannot afford to leave him out when it really matters: on this evidence it will be difficult. AndShould he fail, his place in the England squad may also be in doubt.

2 Stamford Bridge can rock if it needs to

Before this game Villas-Boas and John Terry exhorted the Stamford Bridge crowd to create an atmosphere as electric as Anfield famously is on a European night. Within three minutes the voltage jumped when Juan Mata laid off for Didier Drogba to smash home, and a few thousand hearts stopped when moments later Jordi Alba cruised down the left and smacked the ball back off Petr Cech’s right post.

Vibrancy flowed from the stands to the pitch and back again and when Ramires burst into the visitors’ area to double Chelsea’s advantage Stamford Bridge erupted. Two minutes before the break a cry of “Come on Chelsea!” urged the team to close down the opposition as there was a sense of intensity slipping, and that a goal now would presage the fraught second half no one in blue desired. Villas-Boas and Terry got their wish, but whether this was a one-off remains to be seen.

3 Oriol Romeu’s audition was unconvincing


The Barcelona old boy has the mean look and squat build of a midfield enforcer, but has yet to prove he can solve the problem created by Mikel John Obi’s sluggishness and lack of steel in the position. After 10 minutes Romeu, who has a senior Barcelona appearance to his name, harried David Albelda well but he did not continue and stopped to watch as Jonas unloaded a 30-yard rocket that Cech did well to tip behind. Another questionable moment occurred later in the half when Romeu dawdled before dangerously ceding possession near his goal, and with his side two goals up at the break there was a case for bringing on Lampard to ensure proceedings were closed down. Though he was nearly caught in possession (one of Mikel’s main crimes) early in the second half, when Villas-Boas, below, made his first change it was Ramires who was taken off, suggesting the manager has faith in the 20-year-old.

4 Swagger can be hard to find in a Chelsea shirt these days

In Villas-Boas’s redraw of Roman Abramovich’s team the strut of the José Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti title-winning sides is no more. With Lampard benched, Michael Essien a long-term absentee, and John Terry hobbled by seasons of defensive attrition and a back-catalogue of off-field incident, only Didier Drogba looks like he still remembers how to own a football field.

His surge-then-pass to Ramires that created Chelsea’s second, after the Ivorian had scored the opener, was a reminder of his and this team’s golden years. On a crucial night, Drogba was Chelsea’s Mr Total Football, dropping off the front – as Wayne Rooney loves to do for Manchester United – to ensure his side would not be eliminated from the competition. In Juan Mata, Meireles, Romeu and Daniel Sturridge, Villas-Boas has identified his new breed. In time, if they work the blueprint successfully, they will find their own swagger.

5 David Luiz was not a wise choice as penalty taker

As a £50m striker, Fernando Torres should surely be the go-to man when a penalty is awarded in any game. But a spot-kick in a Champions League group match against a Belgian side that should yield a regulation three points?Especially when still on the horizon is a tricky trip to Germany (to play Bayer Leverkusen, a game Chelsea went on to lose 2-1), and a final match against a Spanish side who the Blues could only draw with earlier in the group phase.

At the Cristal Arena on 1 November Nicolas Anelka was due to take the kick, but he had missed a penalty at Everton a week earlier. So there was even further onus on Torres to do the right thing and convert to claim a win that would not have left Chelsea’s hopes in the competition as precarious as they were ahead of Valencia’s visit. Instead, David Luiz took responsibility and missed, which as a central defender (even a Brazilian one), is forgivable.

Fifa to investigate Nigeria head coach, Eucharia Uche over homophobia

Fifa is to open an inquiry into the issue of homophobia in women’s football and Nigeria head coach, Eucharia Uche could be in line for investigation.

Three international bodies – AllOut, the Federation of Gay Games, and the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association – having secured 46,000 signatures for petition to condemn homophobia has forced Fifa to open an inquest.

“Today we are excited to see FIFA take a first, critical step,” AllOut co-founder, Andre Banks is quoted on Tuesday’s edition of Daily News.

“By launching an immediate probe into coach Uche’s homophobic statements, the international governing body of soccer is sending a clear and important message: homophobia has no place in football, on or off the field.”

The world soccer governing body through its head of women’s competition, Tatjana Haenni, had said in June it will talk to the Nigerian coach about her comment.

“FIFA is against all forms of discrimination,” Haenni told German television channel, ARD.

The Nigerian trainer had caused a stir in a New York Times interview on the eve of the Fifa Women’s World Cup in Germany this year by calling homosexuality “dirty.”

“Yes, the lesbians in our team were really a big problem. But since I’m coach of the Super Falcons, that has been cleared up.

“There are no more lesbian players on my team. I cannot tolerate this dirty life,” Uche had told the New York Times.

Her comments were perceived in many quarters as targeting the German squad that had reserve keeper, Ursula Holl being married to a woman and first-choice Nadine Angerer believed to be bi-sexual.

Ballack days at Chelsea

It will not be known until just before kick-off whether Michael Ballack will start Tuesday evening’s match against Chelsea but whatever the decision of his manager, the former Blues midfielder is anticipating an emotional return toStamford Bridge

The Bundesliga runners-up last season have arrived in London ahead of the opening Champions League group game but their manager, Robin Dutt, is not revealing publicly any details of his team until just before kick-off.

Ballack, who turns 35 later this month and left Chelsea in in the summer of 2010, has played two of Leverkusen’s five league games this season that have taken them to fourth in the table, including an hour of their win on Friday. Whether he starts or not, he will receive a presentation from Chelsea before the game.

‘When I first saw the draw I was really happy for me personally and for the club,’ Ballack says.

‘For me personally it is a very big, very important match, but also for the club it was a very nice draw. I played at Chelsea for four years and it is very nice to be back in London for the first game in the Champions League.

‘The presentation is a very nice gesture and it will be a very emotional moment for me tomorrow. There are still a few players there and some who left in the meantime who I am still friends with and whom I am still in touch with, and also a few of the staff.

‘When I moved to Chelsea it was a big, big challenge and experience for me at the time to play with so many good players. If I look back I had a very good time. I feel always welcomed by the fans and the club. They treat me always very well and we had success.

‘It could have been a few titles more,’ he notes, ‘we missed a few chances, but we had some successes and I will remember this always and it is a big part of my career.’

Choosing one moment that sticks in his memory more than the others is an impossible task for the former Germany captain, but he can narrow the choice down to three.

‘My injury right at the start because in the end I missed seven months and it was quite a difficult period for me.

‘The second memory is the Champions League Final with the penalty shoot-out that will haunt all of us for ever.

‘The third was winning the League and the Cup in the last year. After trailing to Man United for three years, winning two titles in the last year was great.’


Turning his attention from the past to the near future and Tuesday’s game, Ballack acknowledges that he has a big part to play in preparing what is a generally young and inexperienced Leverkusen team.

‘It is just a game of football although we are aware there are some big names on the other side,’ he says. ‘We will have our chances.’

‘Chelsea have not started like last year but you can’t start every year like last year. Especially in the last game against Sunderland they looked in a good shape, very strong and confident, so that makes it not easy for us.

‘They have great individual players but as a team it is maybe not the worst thing to play them now because the season has just started, but we will know more after the game.’

Leverkusen manager Dutt will make a decision on the fitness of midfielder Lars Bender after his final training session. He is expected to play. On the Ballack choice Dutt says:

‘I have already decided and I have told Michael but everyone will have to wait a bit longer to find out.

‘He is very experienced and it would be foolish not to use that experience, and he has shown in the Bundesliga that he is in very good form, but I want to leave a bit of doubt for the opposing manager.’

That manager in opposition is of course Andre Villas-Boas whom Ballack is not surprised to see in the job.

‘In my time at Chelsea I had a few coaches and sometimes they changed them maybe a little too quick but what is surprising is he is a very young coach,’ says the German.

‘When people talk about him they talk most of the time about his age but he showed his quality when even in this young age he won with Porto a European trophy which is unusual.

‘It is not surprising that Chelsea had their eye on him always, he worked there before in the background and he did a lot of important stuff for Jose Mourinho. Now he is in a main position as a coach and when he is talking you can see he is totally accepted by the club and the players and that is the most important thing.’

Chelsea demand explanation over Fernando Torres ‘slow’ comments

Torres was on the bench for Chelsea’s win over Sunderland on Saturday
Fernando Torres has been told to explain an interview in which he seemed to criticise Chelsea team-mates.

Torres, 27, spoke to the website of Spain’s Primera Liga last week, with a translation appearing on his personal website which quoted him as saying the club’s older players were “very slow.”

The striker has insisted he was misquoted in the English translation.

However Chelsea, who are seeking an original Spanish version, are unlikely to fine the player.

Torres’ interview was authorised by the club – had it not been he would have faced heavier censure – but he is still set to have to explain the contents to manager Andre Villas-Boas.

While the English translation carried the direct criticism of team-mates, a Spanish version on his site carried a line that translated as saying the team “play very slowly”.

Keen to get an original version, Villas-Boas said: “We are going in-depth to regain the tape of that interview.

“We’ll see if things play exactly as they are in that interview.”

Asked what action would be taken if the translation proved accurate, the Portuguese said: “We’d just talk. Just talk to share opinion.

“If it was unauthorised, I’d fine him, of course. Anyhow, it’s one player’s perspective.

“I don’t think it’s a perspective that the manager shares. I don’t have to share my players’ ideas sometimes.

“I think we have competence, apart from the ‘age problem’, which for me is not a problem.

“Maybe we just have to speak about that situation and he has to see our view as well.”

In the original interview, Torres admitted that it had taken him longer to settle at Chelsea than he would have predicted.

Despite becoming the most expensive player in British football when he completed a £50m move from Liverpool in January he has since scored just once in 22 club matches, was not involved in Spain’s Euro 2010 qualifier against Liechtenstein last week and found himself restricted to a late cameo in Saturday’s Premier League win at Sunderland.

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I think any player who’s not part of the squad or the selected players is not happy
Andre Villas-Boas
Chelsea Manager
Declining to say whether Torres was in line for an immediate recall for Tuesday’s Champions League opener against Bayer Leverkusen, Villas-Boas said he hoped being dropped could add as extra motivation.

“I think any player who’s not part of the squad or the selected players is not happy,” he said.

“I’m glad because maybe you can stimulate them to go one step further, or motivate them a bit more.”

Siasia again, now with Enyeama

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has confirmed that they are not aware if Super Eagles Coach, Samson Siasia has accepted the apology rendered by goal keeper, Vincent Enyeama following his omission from Nigeria’s last two games against Madagascar and Argentina.

Enyeama was dropped by Siasia after he raised concerns about the team’s travel arrangements to Antananarivo for their 2012 Africa Nation’s Cup qualifier against Madagascar.

The Lille keeper however apologized unreservedly on Friday saying he was completely misunderstood.

“My concerns were over safety, comfort and a better treatment in team’s preparation,” Enyeama said.

“What I said and how I went about it probably didn’t go down well with some people – but that was me.

“I raised a very sensitive issue, a selfless one in the best interest of the team, but was told of its bad timing.

“I felt it was something that was dealt with in-house (but) unfortunately it has been blown out of proportion in the media.

“I apologise to the coach, officials and to my colleagues, in particular, and to the nation in general for all that has happened,” the shot stopper concluded.

Quizzed on whether Siasia had accepted the apology of Enyeama, spokesman of the NFF, Ademola Olajire said he was not in the know.

“My brother, you will need to ask (Siasia) that (question). He has not said anything to us in that regard so I think he is actually in the best position to answer that question,” Olajire said.

However, Siasia was less than willing to speak on the subject. The gaffer reacted angrily when he was quizzed on the subject.

“I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to talk about it at all,” he said.

Siasia has a history of falling out with high profile players with well documented cases involving Chelsea’s John Mikel Obi and Osaze Odemwingie.

He also had a misunderstanding with Dickson Etuhu which forced the Fulham man to declare that he would never play for the Nigeria team as long as Siasia remains in charge.

Torres left out by Spain due to poor form with Chelsea

Spain boss Vicente del Bosque has made it clear that Fernando Torres must perform better for Chelsea if he wants to earn a recall to the national team.

Torres has struggled since joining the Blues from Liverpool for £50million at the end of the January transfer window, scoring just one goal for his new club.

He has been an established member of the Spain side for a long time but Del Bosque has insisted the 27-year-old will not be treated as a special case.

Del Bosque always picks his teams based on club form and, having left Torres out of the starting XI for Tuesday’s 6-0 Euro 2012 qualifying victory over Liechtenstein, he has told the Chelsea man to improve his performances if he is to get back in.

“There were ten players who didn’t play,” said Del Bosque.

“He (Torres) is an important player, but the people selected for the national team are those who do well for their clubs, not the other way round.”

Negredo backing

Alvaro Negredo scored twice against Liechtenstein to take his international goalscoring record to five in seven games, and the Sevilla striker has nothing but respect for Torres.

“He came down to the dressing room after the game and congratulated me,” said Negredo.

“I’m not going to enter into whether he was annoyed or anything – it was a great gesture to congratulate me for the goals.

“It isn’t much fun to come and not play a single minute, but he is a great colleague and is one of the captains of the team.”

“La Liga is the biggest joke in the world” – Sevilla president lashes out at Real Madrid – Barcelona domination

Del Nido has blasted the ‘third-world’ Spanish league and alleged that decisions were being taken purely to further strengthen the nation’s two biggest clubs

Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido has launched a scathing attack on the administrators of La Liga, claiming that recent negotiations over radio rights threaten to further dilute the competition’s quality in favour of benefiting the country’s biggest clubs.

The chief spoke out aftr a deal was finalised which will oblige Spanish radio stations to pay for coverage of La Liga, on the back of a weekend which saw Real Madrid and Barcelona crush their opposition 6-0 and 5-0 respectively.

For Del Nido, those in charge of La Liga have consistently taken decisions which favour the giants, including the most recent ruling.

“The reality is that they have chosen a terrible decision in order to continue widening the difference between the big clubs and the rest: to charge the radios,” he fired to Radio Nacional de Espana on Tuesday.

“For the love of God, are there any fans not saying that the league is prostituted, adulterated, corrupted? The radio income will be another scrap to make the biggest clubs bigger and the rest even smaller.

“Our tournament is not just the biggest joke in Europe, but in the world. It is a third-world league in which two clubs take the others’ television money,” he concluded.

Representatives of the Liga Nacional de Futbol Profesional (LFP) are yet to respond to Del Nido’s attack.

Manchester City and United signal Premier League title credentials

The two Manchester clubs went goal crazy yesterday, sending a statement to the rest of the Premier League that this could be a two-horse title race.

Manchester City, who had already netted seven goals in their first two matches, hammered Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 away from home, laying down a challenge to their local rivals.

And Manchester United answered that call, beating Arsenal, Tottenham’s North London neighbours, 8-2 at Old Trafford to go top of the table on goal difference from City.

The humiliating result also puts more pressure on Arsene Wenger, the beleaguered Arsenal manager who has seen two of this best players – Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri – leave in the summer. His team are now fourth from bottom and without a league win this season.

In a frightening example of attacking play, the rest of the league was left to marvel at the attacking prowess of both teams.

Nasri, who joined City on Wednesday, was one of the stars against Spurs, setting up three goals, while Edin Dzeko scored four. And the Bosnian striker believes City have yet to peak.

“Today was something special for me, to score four goals in the Premier League is fantastic,” Dzeko said on ESPN. “I think we’re getting better and better. I hope we can improve in the next game and try to win every game.”

Nasri said: “This is a tough place to win. I had a good game but the most important thing is we won 5-1 and sent out a signal to other clubs. This is just the start of the season, it’s important to keep our confidence, but I’m convinced we have a great team here and can win things.”

Wayne Rooney was also in the goals, helping himself to a hat-trick, as United romped past Arsenal to register one of the biggest ever Premier League victories.

“The performance was incredible and we deserved the result,” Rooney, told Sky Sports.”Whether or not Arsenal have a full-strength squad every time we play them we have a go and try score. They had some players out but that should take nothing away from us.”

Rooney’s goals also continued a trend against the Gunners. “A lot of my milestone goals have come against Arsenal,” he said. “My first goal when I was at Everton was against them and my first United goal in the Premier League came against them too.”

Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager, was surprised by the ease of his side’s success despite Arsenal missing so many first-team regulars. “When you play Arsenal you expect a difficult game,” he said. “If you look at Arsenal the team is weakened – but we still did the job.”

With Wenger likely to come in for more criticism, Ferguson again leapt to the Frenchman’s defence.

“I think it is unfair to criticise him,” he said. “The job he’s done for Arsenal and the philosophy he has – he has given Arsenal some very entertaining players.”

Wenger acknowledged he had been left embarrassed by the size of the defeat, but with the pressure mounting on him denied he would quit his post.

“You feel humiliated when you concede eight goals,” he said. “It was a terrible day for us, it was a combination of an understrength team and weakness. We collapsed physically in the second half.”

He added: “It is better not to talk too much about this because it hurts.”