Well it should be another exciting weekend in the Premier League with the men in Chelsea jerseys facing the Red Devils of Manchester United. The Blues are coming in to the match on a bad streak after dropping points in the last five of their matches, and having slipped to fourth in the table. Manchester United haven’t exactly been sparkling of late either. Wayne Rooney may be back playing in the first team, but his form seems to mirror the up and down performance of the team as a whole. His absurd run up to the penalty he skyed over the bar seems to have said it all about the fortunes of United this season, lots of flash, questionable results.
United do have several things going for them going into the match, the first being their tendency to improve in the latter half of the season. Since their dismal display at West Ham a few weeks ago they have improved steadily, and now boast the linked passing and flowing, instinctive play which we have come to love. Beating Chelsea is never easy, especially at home, and the Red Devils have a poor record against them at home, however, they have never had a better chance. Frank Lampard, Chelsea’s center piece in the mid-field will be started for the match, but he only managed a few minutes against Tottenham. His nagging groin injury has plagued him for weeks now, but I think its too soon to see him come back for the whole of the match. Look for him to make it to the 60th minute, but I would expect him to subbed after that. Didier Drogba, who put the silly in his soccer shoes to miss the injury time penalty against Tottenham last week, will start, and I’m looking forward to watching him battle the United defense on both sides for possession, and perhaps sneak a goal.
As for United, they will be without the injured Paul Scholes, but should start their first team as well, but for the most part, they have to overcome their historical weakness playing Chelsea at home. Ferguson must adjust his tactics to take into account the punishing runs of the Chelsea strikers in his defense, and play tow strikers with a high midfield in order to volley in any shots parried by Cech.
It should be a cracking, end to end match with a few bad tempered tackles delivered by both sides. Combined with their standings in the table, and the hunger Chelsea have displayed to get a win at home over a big club to reignite their title hopes, I’m very optimistic. I’m predicting Chelsea 2-1 Man Utd
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
Every now and again, while tending to Ye Olde SoccerPro Shoppe, I look at the wall of soccer balls and think, “man, what if those were Texas sized?” Then I remember, we have a Texas sized ball right in the shop with the Select Grande Trainer ball! I bet three full size 5 balls could fit inside this bad boy, so long as you cut one ball in half and distribute it properly. When parents and kids come in the shop, both take notice of the ball. Kids think it’s cool because it’s awesomely huge, and parents dig it because it’s awesomely goofy. For me, it falls somewhere along that spectrum.
For the technical stuff, the ball has a PU casing and latex bladder construction and blahbity blahbity—it’s just as well constructed as any other ball, but Select had the cojones to make a ball brilliantly huge. Speaking of brilliant, the visual design of this ball is the same as the rest of Select’s Brilliant Super line. Each hexagonal plate is stitched together and is outlined by shapes that I can only describe as “Asteroid ships.” I mean the game, not the ship from the truly epic Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck cinematic masterpiece.
Do I think this ball would be great for dodgeball? Nope. Kids would be visiting the hospital too often. Is it great for four-square? I doubt it. It doesn’t bounce high enough or lend itself to being slapped very much. What do I suggest you do with this ball? Get a few friends together, and take it to the park. Spread really far apart, and then bomb this sucker to one another. You’ll definitely impress some fellow park-goers. Who knows, this soccer ball could be a soccer version of taking your puppy to the park. Sure, it’s $43.99 per ball, but can you really put a price on impressing people and potentially snagging a date? I don’t think so.
Written by: Kris Dyer, soccerprose.com
Mexico has been one of my favorite national teams for as long as I can remember, which just so happens to be the 1994 world cup. Originally my affinity for the squad stemmed from the national colors and their sweet jerseys. I mean, who doesn’t remember the totem jersey design from 1998? As time goes on, though, I find myself digging the squad for their players. Javier Hernández, Giovani dos Santos, and Guillermo Ochoa are exciting to watch and are definitely on the rise. However, the order of business today is not to discuss the future of Mexico’s national team, but it is instead to talk about the Adidas Mexico Goalkeeper Jersey.
At first glance, this goalkeeper jersey is a little deceiving visually—it seems to be a plain white jersey with the Adidas logo and the Mexican team crest. However, a closer look reveals a lot more going on with this jersey. The sleeves, for example, are sectioned off into three parts. The shoulders are a black background with a red 3-stripe design on top, which is of course a nice contrast with the white jersey. From the shoulder to the elbow, the jersey is indeed just white. After the elbow comes a return of the 3-stripes, although this time in green with a white background. The back of the elbow/forearm also has the necessary padding outlined by green. The sleeves are a simple, classic design that perfectly complements the front of the jersey.
At the top center of the jersey is a green stitched Adidas logo. On the left chest is a stitched Mexican team crest, which is classic in its own right. The two sides of the abdomen are a plain and simple white area fenced in by the same green fabric lines that border the elbow pads. Sounds pretty ordinary and mundane, right? Well, that’s where the subtle design on the front comes into play. The subtle design is a stylized bas-relief pattern that resembles feathers laid out in a shingle-like form. This of course makes sense by following the Eagle sitting proudly atop the team crest. Adidas made a smart move by making it a simple relief design rather than opting for a separate color altogether. The subtleness communicates that something is there when viewed from a distance, and when viewed up close, presents a classy, somewhat reserved design. On the other hand, one could see the design as being multiple spearheads, which I suppose lets opponents know that the keeper is “in it to win it” as they say and won’t be taking any guff.
As for comfort, this jersey is just as comfortable as any other on the market. It has the standard Adidas CLIMACOOL technology, and the elbow/forearm pads ensure that the jersey can be played in for quite some time. At the moment, these bad boys are on sale at SoccerPro.com for $59.99, which I’d say is a fair price. It’s high time these keeper jerseys get the attention they deserve.
Written by: Kris Dyer, soccerprose.com
Let’s get things straight first: I think the FIFA Club World Cup is a phenomenal idea. The world is getting smaller and smaller everyday with advent of new technologies and FIFA is right on board with this notion. Idea: Hold a contest between the best teams from all six continental confederations to crown a champion of the world. Problem: Formatting of the tournament makes the contest largely a competition between the UEFA Champions League Winner and a team from Brazil or Argentina.
Hold up, you say. Aren’t these the two best teams from their respective confederations and did they not prove their worth over other continental confederation champions? To answer this, let me paint a picture for you: imagine a restructured UEFA Champions League, one of the most exciting competitions in all of soccer. The new format pits only champions of domestic leagues in a knockout round, seeding the teams based off of prestige of the league (in essence, the EPL, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1, and Bundesliga champions all get byes and will never be pitted against one another until at least the semi-finals). No more group play. Do you want to live in that world? Didn’t think so.
Transport this same concept to a world tournament. Welcome to the Club World Cup. UEFA and CONMEBOL champions automatically get a bye to the semi-finals of a supposedly prestigious competition. Play two games and a squad has a new trophy to add to the case. I want to kick soccer balls directly into that case and steal that trophy, maybe sell it? I’d hope to get no more than $5 with how worthless the intrigue is of the competition. As an American, maybe I’m a bit bitter not to have a chance to prove MLS’s worth comparatively to other leagues around the world. Really, I’m crying out for another relaunch of a competition that could rival the UEFA Champions league, given the right nurturing and care.
Here’s the proposal so we don’t have any more quotes from Inter president Massimo Moratti hailing the importance of the competition:
1). 4 teams from each of the six continental confederations for a total of 24 teams. 6 groups of 4 teams, no more than 2 teams from the same confederation in each group. 3 group games for each team
2). Top 2 from each group advance. Top 4 point earners get a bye into the next round. Home and home knockout at each step in the knockout round with a one time seeding process to pit teams against one another.
3). Winner of Club World Cup automatically qualifies for next years tournament. Span tournament between 1-2 months smack dab in the middle of winner.
Really, this system would just steal the best elements from other established competitions instead of implementing its own ridiculous system. Imagine Inter Milan playing the Colorado Rapids in a game that actually mattered? I’m already grinning from ear to ear. Sure, there are the complications of fitting this type of competition into a footballer’s busy schedule. Logistics can be taken care of over time. Have faith.
The tribe has spoken. Let the debate begin over a currently utterly worthless tournament.
It’s probably fair to say that European football superpowers dominate much of the attention across the globe. That isn’t to say the attention is necessarily undeserved, but I still think clubs from leagues aside from La Liga, the EPL, Bundesliga, etc. should get some attention as well. With that said, let’s talk about a jersey from one of the premier Mexican league teams, Club América.
The team’s colors are navy and yellow, so of course those were the colors Nike used to create this Club America jersey. The collar, for the most part, is a plain yellow with a strip of red fabric running across the front of the neck. The sleeves are also simply yellow without any particular design, with a navy cuff. What really strikes me about this jersey is the design on the abdomen and the alignment of the sponsor logos and team crest. Starting from just below the neckline, we get a stitched Club América team crest pretty much where the sternum is. While we’re on the crest, I have to say, this team crest is definitely underrated. It’s slick and classy, I think, with silhouetted North and South America continents sitting between a capital “C” and “A” and a old style football playing background to it all. Very cool.
Anyway, just below the crest is the obligatory Nike swoosh in yellow. Beneath the swoosh is the “Bimbo” logo, which fits in very well with the shirt, and below that, is the Powerade logo, just for good measure. Normally, the team crest and production company are on either side of the chest, but I like what Nike did here. It kind of brings a unity to the shirt whereas the regular design style would have looked a little too chaotic. The other element tying it all together is the stylized abdomen. Starting from the armpit, there are wide diagonal bands, designed to simulate the abdomen muscles, I suppose. There’s also a vertical yellow band that begins about mid rib level and spans the stylized abdomen while gradually thinning out at the bottom. Oh, and there’s also a Corona logo printed across the shoulder blades on the back of the soccer jersey, because eh, what’s one more sponsor?
As for the feel of the shirt, I’d say the inside feels pretty much like a basketball jersey. It’s 100% polyester and made with Nike Dri-FIT technology, so it’s comfortable. The price tag is $63.99 at SoccerPro.com, which is definitely a fair price for this jersey. It’s a standard Nike jersey with some pretty cool design aspects, and it’s for a team in a lesser known professional league. What’s not to like?
Written by: Kris Dyer, soccerprose.com
“You’ve got Di Canio, we’ve got your stereo,” was a song once sung by the Anfield faithful, but now a days the snarky criticism is often turned inward, and less creative. The repeated chants of “Kenny Daglish,” and the reception shown to Gerard Houllier show that Roy Hodgson is all but settled in his new post at the club. Granted, he has a very little time in which to make an impact, but his record on the pitch has not endeared him to many fans.
The men in Liverpool jersey were always in for a hard season of ups and downs, especially once the power struggle between the now infamous American ownership of Hicks and Gillett and the club administration spilled first into the papers and then onto the streets. But even then, the resurgence of form that has seen Liverpool move up into the top 10 can hardly be regarded as a stunning success by Hodgson. His signings seem to have been equally uninspired and more targeted for a club like Fulham than one with the top flight ambitions of Liverpool. No offense intended to the Fulham faithful of course, but one question….Does you butler know your reading this?
Anyway, the real question is how long can the embattled manager hold on to his job, and do the new owners at New England Sports Ventures truly support him for the long term. He may have defended himself with strong words today saying he believes in his ability, but the look on his face spoke of desperation, and frustration. Hodgson is right about one thing, nothing with the team will change until the new owners decide to invest some money in new players. If the display tonight at Utecht is any measure of the squads future, then an injection of new blood is desperately needed. It seemed most of the Reds were asleep during one of the most boring matches in the history of the club. The BBC live text commentators took to making puns at each other they were so fed up with the match. At times, I felt like I might need a defibrillator to stay awake.
As the performances of the first team continue to stink of mediocrity, Hodgson days will begin to be numbered. If this woute is any indication, we may not be seing him on the touchline for much longer indeed,
Hodgson: “It doesn’t bother me because I can’t do more than I am doing, I can’t work harder, I can’t work better,” added Hodgson, whose team play his former club Fulham at home in the league on Saturday evening.
“I have great confidence in my ability, I don’t think there is any reason not to have.
“I know the players are working as hard as they can to win matches for Liverpool and therefore me as manager.”
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
According to Yahoo! Sports, Ballon D’Or front-runner and World Cup champion Andres Iniesta may be out the Catalan door and stepping onto the Eastlands ground in the January or summer transfer window. A couple of things surprisingly do add up in this move:
- Barcelona sit in $575 million of debt, a number that the board is desperate to reduce or eliminate all together (as evidenced by their 5-year, $150 million shirt sponsorship deal with the Qatar Foundation).
-Iniesta’s value will never be higher again and he will likely secure an $80-$100 million price tag, a fee that Manchester City will gladly put on the table to secure their man (as evidenced by their ridiculous transfers over the past couple campaigns). The English club have virtually unlimited resources and would be willing to offer Iniesta nearly any size wage packet.
These are somewhat fair points. However, the jig is up here. There are many ways which the club can make money off of transfers without selling one of the best players in the world. Take Dani Alves. The Brazilian wing back has 18 months left on his deal and would be an asset on almost any team. He would garner a decent size transfer fee, especially with his links to Manchester City in the past few weeks. With the addition of Adriano and Barcelona B players to a thin squad, Alves seems replaceable. If Alves becomes indispensable, 20-year-old starlet Bojan Krkic is another viable option for sale. With the stunning form of Pedro over the past year, Bojan has been forced to limited cameo appearances off the bench late in games already decided. With his talent, the Spaniard would love to get some reliable and quality minutes with a club. Amazingly, Manchester City will be linked with prying away the youngster and with the inevitable departure of Tevez and Adebayor at the Eastlands, the club will be looking to find a quality replacement to build around in the future. Bojan, Balotelli, and Jo as a three pronged attack will be a nice compromise with the club’s captain more than likely showing himself the door.
Bottom line: Pep Guardiola is not Arsene Wenger. He will not sell players at the height of their value just to cash in on the player. Barcelona play the most attractive football on the planet thanks to Iniesta and company and Guardiola would be a fool to let such a talented player walk. Did anyone ever ask whether Iniesta wants to leave the best club in the world? Think about that…throw this rumor in the trash, along with a bunch more in the future.
Who remembers playing the old FIFA games on the Sega Genesis? I certainly do, and that’s precisely why I plucked the Puma Foundation Graphic Stadium Tee off the racks in the shop. The soccer t-shirt has been in the shop for some time, and, until recently, I didn’t really know what to make of it. It’s pixilated goodness to be sure, but only now did it strike me as reminiscent of the old Sega FIFA games. I’m talkin’ about FIFA ’93 and ’94.
Alright, there are so many cool things about this shirt. First, the game that’s going on across the chest and upper abdomen is frozen in an action moment. A player is executing a bicycle kick from just outside the six yard box. The goalie is attempting a save, but, to be honest, I’m not sure where the ball is. Either way, it’s a goofy little touch that I’m glad Puma included. Aside from the game on the pitch, there is an awesome crowd lining the field. Puma worked a multitude of looks throughout the crowd as well. Dudes with ponytails, guys and girls with headbands, guys with baseball caps, red hair, green hair, blue hair, etc. The crowd definitely makes this shirt stand out to me. On the whole, the crowd adds another nod to the lighthearted and fun theme of the shirt. Oh, the stadium seating also has another cool aspect. There are camera people sitting on the roofs of the stands, you know, getting that award winning shot. On the bottom left hand side of the shirt, Puma even included a couple ambulances and a security guard in front of the door, just in case you wondered if this were for real or not. As for the puma logo, well, they pixilated it and stuck it on top of the stands. It’s definitely big, but it isn’t overbearing or anything. Good work Puma. One last little thing—the back of the shirt has a tiny ref holding a red card on the bottom, just to keep you in check.
Overall, I dig this shirt a lot. It’s a different style than you’ll find with any other brand, and it takes a funny nostalgic take on the game. Don’t worry—you won’t look like a little kid in this shirt. It’ll look more like a signal to others that you rocked the Sega FIFA back in the day. At $27.99 a pop, these shirts aren’t the cheapest. The price may be pushing it a little, but, as I’ve been saying so much recently, this would be perfect for a holiday gift.
Written by: Kris Dyer, soccerprose.com
If you had asked me for my dream match this season in August, a match with the quality to impress, and the power to truly change the fortunes of the leagues biggest sides, it would have been Chelsea v. Manchester City, but since then the men in Arsenal jerseys and Manchester United kit have proven that they are the most volatile combo one could hope for. Now, for the last two weeks I’ve felt like Moses trying to get blood fro ma stone, desperately hoping for some show of quality out of England that could match the excitement of the Champions League. Today, I think I’ll finally get it.
Arsenal and Manchester United have a storied history of beating the blood out of each other when they meet, as happened in 1990, and I’m looking forward to a cracking, but bad tempered match. Granted, you won’t have Roy Keane and Eric Cantona working as hatchet men, but I’m sure Vidic will get a chance for an elbow or two. Either way, if should be a great match and here’s why.
Alex Ferguson’s men are on the top of the world at the moment, although they may wonder how that happened. It certainly hasn’t been down to their play on the field which has looked at times to be as bad off as Wayne Rooney’s marriage. However, now that the man in the Rooney jersey is almost back to match fit and they have a long tradition of improving throughout the season to finish at the top. Paradoxically, the worse their troubles at the start of the season the better they seem to fair at the end. The saga involving Ronaldo’s “enslavement” at the club being a particularly absurd example.
As for Arsenal, they have two things working against them. Their open style of football leaves them open on the break, and they have an atrocious record when playing against to flight opponents. United have won 4 of the last 5 meetings between the two teams, destroying Arsene Wenger’s side by sitting back and waiting for them to over extend themselves by committing too many players to the attack. They then parry the assault through the skill of Ferdinand, and run down on the break catching Arsenal out of position and slot the ball past the seemingly greased hands of Lukasz Fabianski. Its worked to great effect in the past, and I’m relatively certain Ferguson’s men will try to make it work again, but they will need to be in top form for it. Keep in mind, most teams try this against Arsenal, but don’t have the quality to stop their attack, or the speed to punish them on the break.
I think its going to come down to the form of each side. If United are playing at their peak, and Rooney makes those incisive he was so famous for, the Gunners don’t have a hope in the world. On the other hand, if Arsenal can count on Nasri, and Fabinski and the not so dynamic Koscielny and Squillaci stay awake, it could definitely go their way. Fabregas is doubtful, which will hurt them, but they should be able to bring him on in the second half if they need to. As for United, look for Chicharito to feature with Rooney playing second fiddle as thye try to catch Arsenal on the break. Overall, it should be an exciting and fast paced match with great goals.
I’m predicting Man Utd 1-2 Arsenal
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com