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Champions League Draw in Full

The draw in full

Group A: Bayern Munich, Juventus, Bordeaux , Maccabi Haifa

Group B: Manchester United, CSKA Moscow, Besiktas, Wolfsburg

Group C: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Marseille, FC Zurich

Group D: Chelsea, Porto, Atletico Madrid, Apoel FC

Group E: Liverpool, Lyon, Fiorentina, Debreceni

Group F: Barcelona, Internazionale, Dynamo Kiev, FC Rubin Kazan

Group G: Sevilla, Rangers, VfB Stuttgart, Unirea Uriziceni

Group H: Arsenal, AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos, Standard Liege

Analysis:

Group A:  Group A will be a very interesting group to watch unfold.  Juventus, Bayern and Bordeaux all have a great chance of reaching the knockout rounds, but it may all come down to how each of them play Maccabi Haifa – the Israeli champions.  In my eyes, whoever drops points to Haifa, doesn’t make it to the next round.

Prediction:

Bayern Munich and Juventus progress

Group B: Manchester United will be disappointed with all the traveling they will be doing, especially to Turkey where the hooligans go mad every time United come to town.  Wolfsburg is also going to be a bigger threat than they’re given credit for, watch for them to nick points in group play.  The Russians will be a stingy opposition and may steal points in the Motherland, but away from home may struggle to find their feet.  Wolfsburg are my dark horse of the tournament.  I don’t think for a second they deserved the fourth pot, but now find themselves with a tall order.  They can push for the knockout round, and their match against CSKA Moscow will make or break their run.

Prediction

Manchester United and Wolfsburg progress

Group C: Group C, along with F, is a “group of death”.  Somehow, Madrid dodged the British bullet (which makes for a more exciting knockout stage!), and they should find themselves in the knockout round before too long.  AC Milan have had a dodgy start to their campaign, and if they don’t start clicking could start dropping points in group play.  Marseille have been a tough nut to crack in years past, and with the addition of Morientes to their attacking play, will give Milan and Madrid a test.

Prediction:

Real Madrid and AC Milan to progress

Group D: The boys from London should have a spot in the knockout round if they keep their heads about them.  The only thing I would worry about is that they’ve been giving up goals early in the EPL and come from behind to win it, and may well do so against more formidable sides in this competition who won’t be so forgiving.  Atletico are always impressive to watch and I don’t see anyone but those two making it past this group.

Prediction:

Chelsea and Atletico Madrid to progress

Group E: Liverpool can’t have too many complaints here, they were grouped with great teams in Lyon and Fiorentina, but, to be honest, they should be able to cope.  The Merseysiders should claim the top spot, but the second one is completely up for grabs.  Fiorentina and Lyon are both squads that have firepower up top (Mutu and Govou) and can work to break down their opponents.  Fiorentina would love to have Melo back in their squad as I have no doubt he’d love to break up the Frenchmen in attack.

Prediction:

Liverpool and Lyon (by a hair!) to progress

Group F: This is it.  The group of death. We have the reigning Spanish and European champions as well as the Italian and Ukrainian league winners.  I’ve had to keep my mouth shut all day so as not to drool all over my desk.  Mourinho vs. Guardiola.  Eto’o vs. Pique.  Ibrahimovic vs. Cordoba.  Chocolate vs. Vanilla.  Coke vs. Pepsi.  Bert vs. Ernie.

Prediction:

It’s not going any other way.  Barcelona on top, Inter taking second.

Group G: My pick (and yours if you have sense) for the tamest group.  Not a lot to gawk at here.  Rangers and Sevilla will probably make the next stage, as I don’t think Stuttgart have enough bite to make any marks here.  Unirea Uriziceni will just be happy to be in the competition, and will love the fact that they have be thrown into this group.

Prediction:

Rangers and Sevilla to progress (in that order)

Group H: Arsenal may have the best of the English teams, and Wenger will be hard pressed to find something to complain about (if you can believe that!).  But remember the torrid time Standard Liege gave Liverpool last season in the qualifying rounds, as they could give group H some trouble.  Gunners aside, this group is fairly balanced.  Each team will fancy their chances at nabbing the last spot into the knockout stages.

Prediction:

Arsenal and Standard Liege to progress


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Transfer News July 23rd

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July 23rd, 2009

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MIRROR

  • Xabi Alonso has raised the stakes in his tense battle of wills with Rafa Benitez over his move to Real Madrid.
  • John Terry has told his team-mates he will stay at Chelsea.
  • Eidur Gudjohnsen admits he s thinking over a move to West Ham and the chance to work with Zola again.
  • Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is ready to move in on Aston Villa’s bid for Pompey defender Sylvain Distin.
  • Burnley boss Owen Coyle wants to sign Ecuadorian winger Fernando Guerrero after his sensational debut on their American tour.
  • Portsmouth have made a £2million offer for Hull defender Sam Ricketts.
  • Phil Brown aims to end his frustrations in the transfer market with a £7million deal for Cardiff’s Joe Ledley and Ross McCormack.
  • Preston boss Alan Irvine is in talks with Didi Hamann about a shock move to the Championship after he was freed by Manchester City.
  • THE SUN
  • John Terry will be staying at Chelsea.
  • Jamie Carragher has led the call for Liverpool to keep Real Madrid target Xabi Alonso.

    David Villa - still linked with a move abroad to England now that his moves to Spain seem to have fallen through

    David Villa - still linked with a move abroad to England now that his moves to Spain seem to have fallen through

  • Manchester United have denied any transfer funds are being kept from Alex Ferguson.
  • Steve Bruce wants to seal a £10million deal for Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh.
  • Phil Brown will test Cardiff’s determination to hang on to Joe Ledley by tabling a £5million bis.
  • Tony Pulis is poised to make Dean Whitehead his first summer signing at Stoke.
  • DAILY STAR:
  • Diego Maradona is being lined up by Portsmouth for a sensational move to the Premier League.
  • Chelsea expect John Terry to make a public announcement that he is staying at the club by the end of the week.
  • Bordeaux’s Marouane Chamakh was last night on the verge of joining Sunderland.
  • Hull manager Phil Brown will test Cardiff’s resolve with a £5million bid for Joe Ledley.
  • DAILY EXPRESS:
  • AC Milan are poised to make a shock £10million bid for Nicklas Bendtner.
  • Sunderland are in pole position to sign Marouane Chamakh.
  • Sunderland have also made a new move to sign Spurs striker Darren Bent.
  • Burnely have reignited their attempts to sign Norwich midfielder Darel Russell.
  • Manchester United’s owners, the Glazer family, have denied claims they have bocked Sir Alex Ferguson from spending the rest of the £8om kitty from Cristiano Ronaldo’s sale.
  • DAILY MAIL:
  • Manchester City will make a sensational last-gasp bid to sign John Terry by offering the Chelsea captain £1m a month in wages.
  • Darren Bent’s move to Sunderland looked back on last night.
  • Rafael Benitez is facing a crucial stage in his tenure as Liverpool manager as he fends off renewed interest in his disgruntled midfielders Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano.
  • Blackburn defender Keith Andrews is a target for Fulham.
  • Aston Villa will return with an improved £3m offer for 31-year-old Sylvain Distin.
    Bendtner - a surprise target for AC Milan

    Bendtner - a surprise target for AC Milan

    DAILY RECORD:

  • Macedonian striker Ilco Naumoski has asked Hearts to improve their offer and bring him to the SPL.
  • Rumours -Pure, unadulterated rumours.  No facts.  Just rumours.

    • Manchester United and Liverpool are both teeing up large bids for David Villa, but are both wary that should the Spaniard choose the rival club, it would spell humiliation for the other.
    • If Arsenal want Klaas Jan-Huntelaar, Real Madrid are asking to have first option on Cesc Fabregas when he chooses to leave the Emirates in the future.
    • Luis Fabiano and fellow Brazilian and former Ballon D’or winner Ronaldinho are on their way to Stamford Bridge.
    • Tottenham have secured the services on Aston Villa’s Ashley Young.
    • Michael Essien is preparing his move to Manchester United
    • Jermain Defoe will move to Sunderland with Keiron Richardson moving in the opposite direction.


    Transfer News – July 22nd

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    July 22nd

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    MIRROR

  • Spurs have tabled a £17million bid for Real Madrid striker Alvaro Negredo.
  • Ipswich boss Roy Keane is hoping to sign Danny Simpson from Manchester United and Sunderland midfielder Dean Whitehead.
  • Doncaster are leading the chase for Cardiff midfielder Paul Parry.
  • Sheffield Wednesday want Oldham striker Lee Hughes to replace Marcus Tudgay, should he move to Burnley.
  • AC Milan will not be signing David Beckham on a permanent deal from LA Galaxy.
  • Reading are hoping to land Tottenham midfielder Adel Taarabt on loan.
  • DAILY EXPRESS
  • Peter Crouch has handed Fulham and Tottenham a massive boost in their bid to sign him by telling Sunderland he does not want to move north.
  • Martin O’Neill’s £2.5million bid for Portsmouth defender Sylvain Distin has been rejected by new boss Paul Hart, who says he is not for sale.
  • Didier Drogba is poised to sign a three-year contract after new Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti dubbed him “irreplaceable”.
  • Sven-Goran Eriksson will return to England today in one of the most bizarre appointments in British football history after being offered the post of Notts County’s director of football.

    Real Madrid's Alvaro Negredo has been linked with clubs all over Europe.

    Real Madrid's Alvaro Negredo has been linked with clubs all over Europe.

  • DAILY STAR
  • Steve Bruce is closing in on £10million striker Marouane Chamakh after admitting defeat in his pursuit of Peter Crouch.
  • Sulaiman Al Fahim finally became Portsmouth’s new owner yesterday and immediately handed boss Paul Hart a new two-year contract.
  • Everton are leading the chase to sign Hull defender Michael Turner.
  • Premier League new boys Burnley are on the trail of Norwich midfielder Darel Russell.
  • Wigan have splashed out £1.5m to sign 18-year-old midfielder James McCarthy from Hamilton on a five-year deal.
  • DAILY MAIL
  • Egypt striker Mido has finally returned to Middlesbrough after being fined for missing the start of pre-season training.
  • Burnley are back on the trail of Norwich’s Darel Russell.
  • Chelsea and Manchester City are in the hunt again for Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso, whose proposed move to Real Madrid has stalled.
  • Sulaiman Al-Fahim has completed his £60million takeover of Portsmouth.
  • Manchester City striker Ched Evans is expected to join Sheffield United for a fee of around £1.5m rising to £3m on appearances.
  • Tottenham are weighing up a move for Man City winger Martin Petrov and are closing in on a deal for Portsmouth striker Peter Crouch.
  • Wolves are considering a move for Celtic’s Scotland defender Stephen McManus.
  • THE SUN
    The 6'7'' striker is on the radar of both Fulham and Tottenham after his move to Sunderland collapsed.

    The 6'7'' striker is on the radar of both Fulham and Tottenham after his move to Sunderland collapsed.

  • Craig Bellamy has defended Manchester City’s summer spending spree and blasted: The big four have been doing it for years.
  • AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani insists they will not splash any cash on David Beckham.
  • Nicky Butt will miss the start of Newcastle’s season with a hand injury.
  • Spurs are hot favourites to land Peter Crouch after the England striker pulled the plug on a £12million move to Sunderland.
  • Everton are leading the £8million chase for Hull defender Michael Turner.
  • Alan Pardew will make Ipswich left-back Dan Harding, 25, his first capture as Southampton boss.
  • West Ham have stolen England youth striker Frank Nouble from Chelsea as backup for striker Carlton Cole.
  • Wigan have completed the signing of 18-year-old Hamilton midfielder James McCarthy.
  • DAILY RECORD
  • Aberdeen boss Mark McGhee is hoping to sign Benin international defender Roda Johnson today.
  • Hibs boss John Hughes wants Plymouth goalkeeper Graham Stack as backup for Yves Ma-Kalambay.Rumours Pure, unadulterated rumours from around the internet.  Many claim to have inside connections, or themselves be connected with clubs.  Don’t believe it all, but if it makes you feel better…go ahead and believe it.
  • The Hammers will offload Dean Ashton to Celtic for £8m in two installments
  • Xabi Alonso’s move to Real Madrid seems to be stalling, and Manchester City look to capitalize.
  • A source with good friends inside Liverpool FC says David Villa will sign on with the Merseyside club shortly.

    Arsenal are said to be courting Dutchman Klaas Jan-Huntelaar.

    Arsenal are said to be courting Dutchman Klaas Jan-Huntelaar.

  • It was heard on good authority that Aston Villa will come back in with another bid for Sylvain Distin on Wednesday for £3.5m
  • Peter Crouch’s most likely destination is now Tottenham, as his move to Sunderland has looked to have fallen through.
  • AC Milan are set to bid £15m for injury hit Yakubu from Everton.
  • Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is stalling on the deal to stuttgart in order to speak with Arsene Wenger this week, as he has been given a heads up on the club from his pal Robin van Persie who just signed a new deal.


  • Hostile Reception for Becks
    July 20, 2009, 12:19 PM
    Filed under: MLS | Tags: , ,

    -SoccerNet

    England international David Beckham found the criticism too much to take in his first home game back with Los Angeles Galaxy, which came against, of all teams, AC Milan on Sunday.

    The 34-year-old tried to hurdle a barrier to get to a group of fans who had been jeering him throughout the match and appeared to make a “come on” gesture. Security had to hold the star back as he tried to get across to the supporters, while one fan had to be stopped from getting out of the stand to confront the star.

    LA Galaxy fans made their feelings toward the English midfielder known.

    LA Galaxy fans made their feelings toward the English midfielder known.

    A hardcore section of the crowd booed Beckham every time he touched the ball and held aloft signs reading “Go Home Fraud” and “23: Repent” in reference to his shirt number.

    Another read: “Hey Becks, Here Before You, Here after You, Here Despite You” while one stated: “Is evil something u are…or something u do?”

    Galaxy fans refuse to forgive Beckham first for opting to return to Europe to play for AC Milan and then for making no secret of his desire to stay at the San Siro.

    The apparent snub has angered some Galaxy fans, notably a hardcore that sit in the so-called LA Riot Squad section.

    Beckham explained afterwards in comments broadcast on Sky Sports News: “I tried to shake one of the guy’s hands but he didn’t want any of it. That’s the way it is.”

    It is not the first time that Beckham has reacted badly to such behaviour from the stands. He escaped punishment for making an obscene gesture to abusive England fans after 3-2 defeat by Portugal at Euro 2000. And he has never hidden his disappointment at jeering fans since.

    After the incident, Beckham was escorted into the changing rooms but did reappear for the second half while the group of fans who had upset the player were joined by a team of yellow-jacketed security staff.

    Even so, Beckham had a hand in both Galaxy goals, scored by Alan Gordon and Bryan Jordan, as they twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with the Rossoneri. Thiago Silva and Filippo Inzaghi scored for Milan.

    After the second Galaxy goal, Beckham turned and shrugged his shoulders in the direction of the section of crowd that had been jeering him.

    The former Manchester United star was substituted after 75 minutes and walked off to a mixture of cheers and boos.

    On the boos, Beckham said: “It’s to be expected. Sometimes it goes beyond it. The majority of the fans have been great.”



    Crouch Could Leave – Agent
    July 10, 2009, 7:02 PM
    Filed under: premier league | Tags: , , ,

    Peter Crouch’s agent believes the Portsmouth striker is available if another club make a serious offer.

    England international Crouch has been linked with a string of clubs over the summer due to the financial problems at Fratton Park.

    Yes...that's his girlfriend.

    Yes...that's his girlfriend.

    AC Milan have been credited with an interest and reports claim Sunderland are ready to make a club record £12million bid for the former Liverpool forward.

    Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce has suggested Crouch would be out of his price range as his future at Pompey remains uncertain.

    The player’s representative Jonathan Barnett stated last month that Crouch had “no intention” of leaving, but feels Portsmouth may now be ready to listen to offers.

    “I think Portsmouth have financial problems,” Barnett told The News. “I think every player is available.

    “You would have to speak to Portsmouth to see if they are willing to sell Peter. He doesn’t feel he’s been let down, though. He has a great relationship with Portsmouth. He doesn’t feel let down at all.

    “We haven’t heard anything from Milan or anyone at this stage.

    “He’s a Portsmouth player, he likes the club and thinks a lot of Peter Storrie and Paul Hart.

    “He is happy, but if there are circumstances where he has to move, that is football I’m afraid.

    “If Portsmouth were to receive an offer from somebody then we would have to listen to it.”

    – SportingLife

    Analysis:  Crouch might not be a bad idea for teams with strike issues or needs for a second striker (Sunderland, Fulham..etc).   He’s a proven Prem striker, which is paramount in bringing a striker into the league.  He’s got a decent scoring record for Portsmouth (11 goals), and his price is reportedly £11m.  AC Milan are even interested in the giant striker and are fixed to be making a bid shortly.

    Result:  There’s a good possibility Crouch could leave, but if he does, Paul Hart will have to find another point man for Pompey.  He was leading scorer for Portsmouth this season, so it’ll be important for them to try and hang on to him.



    Onyewu Picked Up By Rossoneri
    July 7, 2009, 5:30 PM
    Filed under: serie a, Transfer | Tags: , ,

    AC Milan have announced the surprise signing of American defender Oguchi Onyewu.

    Onyewu, who had a loan spell at Newcastle in 2007, has signed a three-year deal with the Italian giants after leaving Standard Liege.

    The American International was a hot commodity after the Confederations Cup showing.

    The American International was a hot commodity after the Confederations Cup showing.

    The 27-year-old was linked with a host of English clubs earlier this summer, but Milan have moved to lure him to the San Siro.

    Onyewu impressed during the recent Confederations Cup, helping the USA reach the final and Milan have decided to bring him in to bolster their defensive options.

    A statement on Milan’s official website read: “AC Milan would like to inform that they have signed Oguchi Onyewu on a permanent basis from Standard Liege.

    “The USA international has signed until June 30 2012.”.

    Analysis:  Don’t be fooled by this move just yet.  While I’m all for Americans abroad in the transfer market, I just don’t want to see Onyewu fall into the same situation as Adu, Altidore and Beasley.  If he can manage a starting spot and hold it, that would be a great boost for both his skill and national team.  However, he will draw competition from some of the world’s best in Nesta, Oddo, Zambrotta and Jankulovski.  If finds himself rotting on the bench, it could cause big problems for his career and he should seek time elsewhere.  Reportedly, there was interest from Inter Milan and Birmingham (says the club VP), so, if worst comes to worst, we know he wouldn’t have a horribly hard time finding a club.

    Result:  If Milan don’t seek any other defensive signings, Onyewu has a legitimate shot at making the starting eleven.  If, even for a minute, he doesn’t push himself and strive to be better, he’ll be eclipsed by other players.  This will be a brand new challenge for the American, and make no doubt, his hardest yet.