CATEGORIES

The usual mess for Italy in the run up to Euro 2012

The Euro 2012 tournament is less than a week away and the Italian national team find themselves in the usual state of disorder with an embarrassing loss to Russia in a friendly and of course, Italy is embroiled in yet another match fixing scandal.

What does it all mean? If history is any indicator, it probably means the Italians will win the tournament.

Man City goes for the Premiership title tomorrow

Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Hughes reacts during their English FA Cup soccer match against Milton Keynes Dons at Loftus Road in London January 17, 2012. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh (BRITAIN – Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

They’ll be plenty of subplots tomorrow in what promises to be the most nerve wracking match in the last 40 years for Man City fans.  The biggest sub plot of all is that Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Hughes was dismissed by Man City a few years back and his dismissal was handled by Man City in a way that left a bad taste in Hughes’ mouth.   Now Hughes finds himself with the rather delicious irony that he can deny a rare championship to a Man City club that he believes treated him poorly.   More importantly QPR need exactly 1 point to avoid the disaster of relegation.

Anybody who believes that Man City will have an easy time tomorrow may have a surprise coming.  Look for QPR to play Italian style football, in other words a physical, defensive minded game that has a 0-0 tie as it’s goal.   QPR will be very conservative, using tactical fouls all game long to avoid any mismatches.   Hughes will play what I jokingly call the 0-0-10 formation, that is he will have his midfield and even his forwards focused on helping out on defense and consuming time.  QPR surely will play not to lose and this is an incredibly hard strategy to overcome.

Roberto Mancini’s troops must find a way to score early to put the pressure on QPR to attack.  Man City should have its hands full in what promises to be great match.  The longer this matches goes without a score, the more that the pressure will rain down upon the shoulders of Man City players.   Should be fun!

Manchester City defeats Manchester United

Man City prevails in this epic match.

The English Premier League did not crown a new champion Monday night, but it sure felt like it.

Manchester City’s 1-0 triumph over Manchester United could not have been sweeter for the blue half of this city and took the club to within touching distance of a title that would soothe the pain of decades of suffering in the shadows.

Vincent Kompany’s headed goal in the waning moments of the first half was the difference, but this was the night that City stood tall and dominated a showdown billed as the most important clash in EPL history.

Anything other than a City win would have effectively handed the crown to United, which went into the game three points clear. Now, with the teams level at the top, City’s superior goal difference means that it will almost certainly become champion if it can get past Newcastle and Queens Park Rangers in its final two games.

Let’s see if they can close it out.

USA shocks Italy for first win ever against the Azzurri

This one is a shocker.

The United States beat Italy for the first time in 11 games over 78 years, a 1-0 victory in an exhibition Wednesday night on Clint Dempsey’s goal in the 55th minute.

Dempsey took a short pass from Jozy Altidore following Michael Bradley’s cross and put a right-footed shot from just inside the penalty area just past an outstretched hand of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. It was his 25th goal in 83 international appearances.

A native of Nacogdoches, Texas, who turns 29 on March 9, Dempsey has had the most accomplished season by a U.S. attacking player in European soccer. He’s scored 16 goals this season for Fulham, becoming the American career scoring leader in England’s Premier League with 43 goals.

The loss was particularly deflating for Italy, a four-time World Cup champion preparing for the start of the European Championship in June. The Americans, who are getting ready for their opening qualifier for the 2014 World Cup in June, had been 0-7-3 against Italy and had been outscored 32-4.

Italy dominated for stretches but the American defense held and the Azzurri were called for offsides nine times.

The Italians had been playing well, but forwards Giuseppe Rossi and Antonio Cassano were out with injuries. Also, Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli was “left off the squad because of his temper and unpredictability” according to this ESPN article. He’s a well-known hot head so this shouldn’t be a surprise.

Lionel Messi interview

Lionel Messi might be the best soccer players in the world. He’s also a low-key superstar. Check out this recent interview of Messi.

Journalists are evenly split on whether or not they should interview their personal heroes: some say you shouldn’t because you’ll find your idol has feet of clay, others argue the opportunity is too good to miss. For me, it was a no-brainer. Lionel Messi is not only the shining star of my favorite team, FC Barcelona, (although among my sentimental favorites, he ranks behind stalwarts Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernández and Andres Iniesta) he’s also a highly unusual sporting icon. In an era when many sports celebrities swagger extravagantly, on and off the field, Messi is something of a throwback: a well-behaved young man who keeps his nose scrupulously clean.

On the field, he shows little of the petulance and amateur dramatics of so many soccer players, including one or two in Barcelona colors. When he scores, he always raises two forefingers to the sky, dedicating the goal to his late grandmother. When he’s fouled, he rarely — rarely — exaggerates his pain: he’s too much in a hurry to get the ball back at his feet. Off the field, he lives a quiet life, with his father in the Barcelona suburb of Castelldefels. Unlike many top players (including some of his recent teammates), he’s rarely seen in the city’s bars and discos, with a supermodel on his arm.

Read the entire interview. He seems like a classy guy.