Barcelona to open football academy in India soon

The best football club in the world at present, FC Barcelona of Spain is all set to open its first football academy in India to nurture local talent and, hopefully, give the world another Lionel Messi in the next 5 years or so. The Catalans have tied up with Delhi-based Conscient Football and their (Barcelona’s ) football nursery FCBEscoles will be conducting camps at the Heritage School in Gurgaon to train kids in the age-group of 6-14 years.

“We don’t promise to create a Messi here. This is a social project and we want to support India. We have to go step by step.” – FCBscoles director Xevi Marce said.

This is really good news for football lovers in India. Many Barclays Premier League / English Premier League teams are opening academies in India and now the Spanish giants too are entering the land of customs. This shows that India has a lot of talent and it just needs expert guidance to produce world class players who will go on to represent their country and also someday make a mark in European club football.

EPL Sunday Roundup: Chelsea stutter, Manchester United win

The football season got of to a fantastic start yesterday, with lots of exciting and entertaining matches being played on Saturday in the English Premier League. The same enthusiasm carried on today with the two fixtures that were played today between Stoke City and Chelsea, and West Brom and Manchester United. While last season’s runners up didn’t have the best of starts under new manager Andre Villas Boas, reigning champions Manchester United earned a hard fought win over WBA at the Hawthorns thanks to a late goal (own goal) from new signing Ashley Young (maybe own goal from WBA defender). Here are the stats from both these games:

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Stoke

 

0-0
(HT 0-0)
Chelsea

 

Bookings:

Shawcross (10)
Wilson (80)

Bookings:

A Cole (66)
Lampard (88)

Match Report

 

West Brom

Long (37)

1-2
(HT 1-1)
Man Utd

Rooney (13)
Reid (og 81)

Bookings:

Reid (39)
Scharner (87)
Cox (90+2)

Bookings:

Young (56)
Anderson (80)

Down and Out!

India have won the world cup. We are the no.1 team in test cricket. Our 2nd string team beat West Indies in the West Indies. Fast Forward to August, we are in tatters. It wasn’t too long ago that India won the Cricket World Cup and were also atop the test rankings and the world was in praise of Dhoni and company but suddenly they have a poor month in England and as a result they are dislodged of the top of the charts in test cricket and what’s worse is that they have become the laughing stock, not only in England but throughout the world. India have lost their numero uno status in Test cricket after losing three consecutive test matches against England (not to mention by huge margins). This is India’s 1st test series defeat in two and a half years and one that hurt the most. England have beaten India convincingly in all three test matches. But whats been wrong with the Indian Cricket team suddenly?

 

Is it Injuries?

This Indian cricket team has been plauged with injuries at the moment. They didn’t have Sehwag for the first two tests. They lost Gambhir in the 1st test due to a disallocated elbow. They even lost Zaheer Khan in the 1st test. Then in the second test they lost Harbhajan and he couldn’t play the third test. What’s up, doc?

Is it lack of planning?

One could argue that after winning the world cup the Indian cricket team became over-confident. The way they were playing in the 3 tests it gave the feeling that they were completely unorganized. Poor batting performances in all 6 innings, lack of breakthroughs by the bowlers and lethargic fielding have all contributed to India’s downfall. The way they were playing they weren’t looking anywhere near like the the no.1 test side.

Is it because they have lost Gary Kirsten?

After winning the World Cup with India in March, Gary Kirsten went back to South Africa for personal reasons. He was replaced by Ex-England head, Duncan Fletcher. So is Duncan Fletcher not good enough to handle this side? Duncan Fletcher almost got a similar record with England to what Gary Kirsten had with India. He looked like a good replacement. So what went wrong then?

Was it the Sehwag factor?

I’m personally a very big fan of Sehwag. Is it that India missed Sehwag? Virender sehwag over the years has given a fantastic start to India every time. His record shows it all. He always gave India a flyer of a start and set the tone for the middle-order. He killed the shine of the ball within no time, smashing it all over the park. But without Sehwag the ball was always shining for about 25-30 overs. So did Sehwag’s absence hurt India in their first two outings? Err… He played the 3rd test and had a poor comeback after getting a king pair. So, was he really missed?

There are a lot of questions to be asked.  After three consecutive defeats they need to step up and play for Pride in the final test at Oval. It is said that the wounds can heal but the scar always remains.

Do you think England deserves to be the number one test side in the world?

Chelsea sack Carlo Ancelotti as United celebrate 19th title

Chelsea have sacked their Italian manager Carlo Ancelotti after he ended his second season at the club without a trophy. The Italian was dismissed following Chelsea’s 1-0 loss at Everton as the west Londoners finished second in the Premier League — a whopping 9 points behind eventual champions Manchester United (who won 4-2 at Old Trafford on the ultimate day of the season to send Blackpool packing back to the Championship).

The 51-year-old had one more year left on his contract at Stamford Bridge but Russian owner Roman Abrahamovic decided its time for him to go.

A club statement read: “This season’s performances have fallen short of expectations and the club feels the time is right to make this change ahead of next season’s preparations.”

Chelsea missed out in the Premier League as Manchester United clinched their 19th top-flight title last week, further compounded by exits in the Champions League (again at the hands of Manchester United), FA Cup and League Cup during the season.

More coverage on BBC

United! United! United!

Meanwhile, Manchester United celebrated their 19th title in style as they officially became the most successful club in the history of English football, overtaking Liverpool’s tally of 18 league titles. They beat Blackpool 4-2 as Ian Holloway’s men bowed out of the premier league. The game was United goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar’s last appearance for the Red Devils who gave his farewell speech after the game as the Dutchmen decided to hang his boots for the good.

The Red Devils all over the world are ecstatic with their 19th triumph and are mocking Steve Gerrard as even Michael Owen has won the premier league now. Here is what the former Liverpool player told the Manchester United official website:

“As they say, if you can’t beat them, join them” – Michael Owen (yup! he actually said that)

Select Results

  • Manchester United 4-2 Blackpool
  • Everton 1-0 Chelsea
  • Aston Villa 1-0 Liverpool
  • Fulham 2-2 Arsenal

“The home form has been fantastic. Another four goals today, seven against Blackburn, five against Birmingham and we’ve beaten Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham all here. They’re top teams so it’s pretty good.”

Sir Alex Ferguson

BREAKING: India win ICC Cricket World Cup 2011!

Hosts India staged a magnificent run chase to beat co-hosts Sri Lanka by 6 wickets here at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai, India.

Batting first, Sri Lanka a respectable 274-6, thanks to a well constructed century from Mahela Jayawardene.

In reply, India cruised home with 6 wickets and 10 balls to spare. Dhoni got the winning runs with a 6!

Gambhir top scored for India with 97. Dhoni was not out on 91.

India last won the World Cup 28 years ago in 1983, beating favorites West Indies in the final by 43 runs. India made 183 and West Indies made 140.

UEFA Champions League Quarter Final draw announced: Chelsea to meet Man United, Spurs face Madrid

Manchester United and Chelsea will face each other in the Champions League quarter-finals after being drawn in a rematch of their 2008 European final.

Premier League leaders United, who beat the Blues on penalties in Moscow three years ago, will enjoy home advantage in the second leg against the defending English league champions.

Tottenham were handed a glamorous but daunting clash against Real Madrid. However, they will take on the Spanish giants at White Hart Lane in the second match.

Favourites Barcelona, who conquered Arsenal in the last round, were handed one of the two supposedly easier draws and will take on Ukrainians Shakhtar Donetsk while defending champions Inter Milan will face German side Schalke 04.

The semi-finals were also drawn today and the winner of the Chelsea-United clash will meet Inter or Schalke in the last four, with the winning English side at home second.

Should Spurs come through against Madrid, they will be at home first against Barca or Shakhtar.

While Chelsea are reigning champions in England, rivals United currently lead them by nine points in the Barclays Premier League and have history on their side in the competition.

The Blues have never won the Champions League, despite owner Roman Abramovich’s best efforts. The closest they came was in Russia in 2008 when United edged them over 120 minutes and penalties, having drawn 1-1 in normal time at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Spurs, winners against AC Milan in the last 16, face a tough task on paper against the record nine-time winners Real Madrid.

However, Jose Mourinho’s Spanish aristocrats have not picked up the trophy since 2002 and are regarded as some way short of their rivals Barca on current form.

The quarter-final first legs will be played on April 5 and 6 and the return matches the following week on April 12 and 13.

The semi-final first legs take place on April 26 and 27 with the second legs on May 3 and 4, with the final at Wembley on Saturday, May 28.

Should they beat Schalke, Inter would represent a tough test in the last four for Chelsea or United. While they are without Mourinho, who led them to glory in the tournament last season, they are back in form since Leonardo replaced Rafael Benitez recently.

Schalke this week sacked Felix Magath despite his significant achievement in guiding them to this stage, appointing former Hoffenheim boss Ralf Rangnick as his successor.

Shakhtar are perennial Champions League stalwarts and are not to be taken lightly, especially as favourites Barca have injury problems as well as a Spanish league title race and domestic cup final to contend with.

Former Inter, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Portugal star Luis Figo, now retired and an ambassador for Inter, was pleased to see the Italians paired with Schalke.

“It’s a good draw for us,” he told Eurosport. “We’re going to be playing Schalke, who are obviously going through a difficult time at the moment.

“But of course, all the teams in the quarter-finals are good teams and Schalke will be no different. But overall we’ve got to be happy and in terms of styles of play,.their game will suit us.

“We respect them of course, but we believe if we play to the best of our ability, we will win.”

UEFA Champions League Quarter-Finals Draw

  • Real Madrid vs Tottenham Hotspur
  • Chelsea vs Manchester United
  • Barcelona vs Shakhtar Donetsk
  • Inter Milan vs Schalke

Quarter-final fixture dates

  • First leg: 5/6 April 2011
  • Second Leg: 12/13 April 2011

Semi-finals Draw

  • Real Madrid/Tottenham Hotspur VS Barcelona/Shakhtar Donetsk
  • Chelsea/Manchester United VS Inter Milan/Schalke

Semi-final fixture dates

  • First leg: 26/27 April 2011
  • Second leg: 3/4 May 2011

UEFA Champions League Final date

  • 28 May 2011

UEFA Champions League 2010-11 Draw: Milan, Madrid round up group of death + other groups

Ah, so the new season of the UEFA Champions League is here. At last some European football!

The draw for the group stages of the competition has just concluded and below is the group, in detail.

Group A

  • Inter Milan
  • Werder Bremen
  • Tottenham
  • FC Twente

Group B

  • Lyon
  • Benfica
  • Schalke
  • Hapoel Tel Aviv

Group C

  • Manchester United
  • Valencia
  • Rangers
  • Bursaspor

Group D

  • Barcelona
  • Panathinaikos
  • FC Copenhagen
  • Rubin Kazan

Group E

  • Bayern Munich
  • Roma
  • FC Basel
  • CFR Cluj

Group F

  • Chelsea
  • Marseille
  • Spartak Moscow
  • MSK Zilina

Group G

  • AC Milan
  • Real Madrid
  • Ajax
  • Auxerre

Group H

  • Arsenal
  • Shakhtar Donetsk
  • Braga
  • Partizan

Undoubtedly, Group G, consisting of  AC Milan, Real Madrid, Ajax and Auxerre, appears to be the group of death.

Apart from that, newcomers Tottenham Hotspur join reigning European Champions Inter Milan, German powerhouse Werder Bremen, and Dutch side FC Twente – the side where they lost their previous manager, Martin Jol to.

So which teams do you guys think will qualify for the next round? Let us know in the comments.

David Silva joins Manchester City

Manchester City have completed the £24m transfer of Spain international winger David Silva from Valencia.

Silva, 24, had a medical on Wednesday before signing a four-year contract at City, where he hopes to earn Champions League qualification next season.

“I will be happy if at the end we are in the Champions League – or if we win a trophy,” he told the club’s website.

“My first target is to get into the team, and then to fight for the league and the other competitions.”

Silva becomes City manager Roberto Mancini’s third signing of the summer following the arrivals of Hamburg’s German international defender Jerome Boateng and Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure from Barcelona as the big-spending Blues resume their quest to establish themselves among the Premier League’s elite.

“Roberto Mancini and [chief executive] Garry Cook have told me we are building a very good team with some of the best players in the world and we are going to fight for honours,” added the Spaniard.

Silva will not join up with his new team-mates until after he returns from a holiday in the Canary Islands following his World Cup campaign with newly-crowned champions Spain.

Silva fell out of favour with Spain boss Del Bosque at this summer's World Cup

Football Roundup: Mourinho gets better of former club Chelsea; CSKA-Sevilla share the spoils; Stoke dump Manchester City out of FA Cup; Pavlyuchenko re-born, gives Spurs victory

Diego Milito
Diego Millito, 2nd from left (in Blue), fired Inter Milan to a 3rd minute lead against Chelsea

Former Blues boss Jose Mourinho couldn’t have asked for more. His current side Inter Milan beat his former team Chelsea 2-1 in an entertaining first leg tie at the San Siro with all to play for in the 2nd leg. Diego Milito fired Inter to a lead in as early as the 3rd minute with Inter’s first attack. However, the advantage was nullified just after half-time when Kalou strucked in the equaliser. But the parity was short lived for the blues as Cambiasso scored minutes later to restore Inter’s lead – a narrow one to take to Stamford Bridge.

In another game, Sevilla were well on course for a deserved away win in their first leg tie in Moscow thanks to a goal from Negredo in the first half. But the home side played with added motivation in the 2nd half and with fans supporting their team in full flow, CSKA finally got the equaliser from Gonzalez to save their blushes.

In the English FA Cup, Stoke City ended Manchester City’s hopes for any silverware this season thanks to 2 extra time goals from Ryan Shawcross and Tuncay Sanli.

Aston Villa, Tottenham and Reading were the other teams to go through.

Continue reading “Football Roundup: Mourinho gets better of former club Chelsea; CSKA-Sevilla share the spoils; Stoke dump Manchester City out of FA Cup; Pavlyuchenko re-born, gives Spurs victory”

Premier League ponders play-offs for Champions League

The Premier League is considering a proposal to introduce a play-off for the fourth Champions League place.

The top four currently enter the tournament but the new idea would mean the teams from fourth to seventh playing in a mini-knockout competition.

Any change would need the agreement of at least 14 of the 20 top flight clubs, but there will be no changes for three years as the next TV deal is in place.

Everton boss David Moyes said the idea “was something worth looking at”.

But the Scot warned against the dangers of making too many changes to the traditional structure of the sport in England.

“I always think your league position is judged over all the games and where you finish is where you finish,” said Moyes, whose side have finished in the top seven in five of the last seven seasons.

“So to give a team that finishes three or four places down the table could be a little bit unfair.

“Nevertheless, the Championship play-offs for promotion into the Premier League have worked very well so it might be something worth looking at.

“However, I do not know if the teams would be madly interested in another three, four or five games at the end of the season. I think it’s not a bad idea.

“You have to make sure that you’re not tinkering too much. Before you know it, will finishing seventh or eighth be considered really good success? It shouldn’t do – it should be a good season but enough to maybe make you the fourth best team in England.

“I am for it in some ways, and against it in others.”

BBC sports news correspondent Gordon Farquhar said the Premier League has been presented with “a number of ideas for altering the competition’s format”.

The move is widely thought to be seen as a way of increasing competition in the Premier League because Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal have filled the top four positions in five out of the past six seasons.

The proposal was raised at a meeting of all 20 clubs on 4 February and will be considered again when they next meet in April.

The top four in the Premier League is the same so far this season, although Manchester City, Tottenham and Aston Villa are putting concerted pressure on Liverpool, who are fourth.

Two years ago the Premier League was widely condemned for a proposal to play a 39th game of the domestic season in Asia.

The Football Association, the sport’s world governing body Fifa and European body Uefa all rejected the idea and the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) condemned the proposal as being motivated by money, dubbing it Game 39.

A similar system to the idea of play-offs was introduced by the Dutch Eredivise in 2005-06, with teams finishing from second to ninth competing for a place in both the Champions League and what was then the Uefa Cup.

That idea was scrapped in 2008 for the Champions League, with teams finishing fifth to eighth now vying for a place in the rebranded Europa League.

Versions of the play-off system are also in use in rugby union’s Guinness Premiership and rugby league’s Super League.

Credits: BBC

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Egypt African Champions Again!

Egypt have won the Africa Cup of Nations for the 3rd year in a row as they beat Ghana 1-0.

They certainly have been the best team of the tournament and were deserved winners. Ghana, however, were probably the better team in the final, but never made the most of their possession and paid the price when Gedo came off the bench with 20 minutes to go and scored the only goal of the match.

Ghana at least have a consolation that they have a World Cup to look forward to and, with this young team plus the likes of Michael Essien, they have reason to be optimistic about their chances of getting out of their group in South Africa. Egypt get to keep the trophy as it’s their third successive victory.

Bryan Brother Champs again

Twins Bob and Mike Bryan underlined their position as the world’s top doubles team by successfully defending their Australian Open title in Melbourne.

The top seeds claimed a 6-3 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 over old rivals Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic on Saturday night to win the trophy for the fourth time in five years.