England’s elimination from the European championship was the top story around the world: foreign fans and the media respect English soccer far more than those at home and the failure of the Three Lions has been greeted with as sense of shock and awe.
In Croatia, the fans celebrated the triumph with crackers and fireworks, seeing the 3-2 win at Wembley as one of the three greatest ever in the 16-year history of the national team. The other two are the 3-0 thumping of Germany in the 1998 World Cup quarter finals and the 2-0 defeat of England last year in Zagreb. Although England is not at their finest hour, beating them away from home will guarantee a place in the national soccer history for the Croatian team that achieved that.
The result will no doubt be long remembered as well in Russia, who scraped through with a shameful 1-0 win in Andorra. It was the case of the smallest of the qualifying nations helping the largest nation to qualify too: Russia outnumbers Croatia by 33-1 in population, its territory 300 gimes bigger than Croatia’s.
The disconcerted and poorly coached English team have made history too: this is the first time that England lost both games to an opponent during one qualifying campaign. In the former 24 qualification cycles (11 for the European championships and 13 for the World Cups) no other team had been able to defeat England twice. How dramatic that this tradition should have ended when a mere draw would have secured the home team a place at the biggest soccer event for the next two and a half years.
Real Madrid renew Drogba offensive
Real Madrid representatives met with Didier Drogba’s agents late last month in order to discuss the options for bringing the big Ivorian to Santiago Bernabeu. Madrid’s directors initially put a stop to the operation cosnsidering that the fee Chelsea asked, a reported 40 million euros, was too high for a player close to his 30th birthday.
According to The Mirror, the Spaniards may have changed their position and are now ready to pay the said fee, while Chelsea have started to negotiate the purchase of Nicolas Anelka, currently of Bolton Wanderers. It is possible that the new Real offensive for Drogba may be related to Ruud van Nistelrooy’s recent muscle injury, which will presumably keep the Dutchman out of action for ten weeks.
Totti rejects Italy yet again
Italy has reached another final Bandar Togel Online stage thanks to their agonizing 2-1 win over Scotland at Hampden Park, but their star striker Francesco Totti has not changed his mind. “I will not return to the national team. I know the rules of the team and I could not possibly think of a comeback to the Azzurri,” said Totti in reference to the unwritten rule that only those players who have achieved qualification should be used in the final tournament.
“I took my decision immediately after last year’s World Cup finals. I am in no quarrell with (coach) Roberto Donadoni and the Football Federation. My relationship with them is clear and civil. I can only wish my teammates the best of luck at the Championship,” said the 31-old Roma captain, who collected 58 caps for Italy.
Benítez denies Bayern rumours
Liverpool’s coach Rafael Benítez will not move to Bayern Munich any time soon. “I have heard the rumours last weekend and it is flattering when I’m related to other big clubs, because it means I’m doing a good job. But, as always, whatever the club may be trying to contact me, I am very happy with my current club, my fans and the city. There are so many things I wish to do here, so I plan to stay here for a long time,” wrote Benítez on Liverpool’s web page.
Houston retain MLS title
Houston Dynamo have retained the Major League Soccer championship by beating New England Revolution in the playoff finals 2-1. The Revolutionaries from Boston went 1-0 up through a Taylor Twellman goal in the first half, but the champions turned it around thanks to strikes from Joseph Ngwenye and Dwayne De Rosario.
The Texan team became the first MLS club to have defended the MLS title after DC United achieved that in 1997. For New England this was the fourth loss in the finals and the second in the row to Houston.
Nine arrested over incidents in Serie A
Nine Genoa and Sampdoria supporters have been arrested in Italy on Wednesday on suspicion of having caused incidents before the Genoa city derby played on September 23rd. The accusations include battery, infliction of injuries, unauthorized carrying of guns and causing material damage.
13 other persons have been investigated for possible participation in one of the many violent episodes that have been marring Italian soccer.
Riquelme: “Return to Boca inevitable”
One of the key members of the Argentinian national team, Juan Román Riquelme, delighted his fans again with his display that included two goals against Bolivia in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers.
His coach Alfio Basile did not spare compliments regarding the masterful midfielder.
“Riquelme is phenomenal. His two goals were extraordinary. I’m full of pride and joy for having such a player on my team,” said Basile, relieved that his gamble of fielding an inactive player in the first place.
Riquelme, for all his skills, has been out of action at his club Villarreal since the start of the season due to contractual and personal issues with the coach Manuel Pellegrini and the chairman Francisco Roig. Boca Juniors have stepped up their efforts to bring Riquelme back after five years in Spain and Villarreal seems to have softened their posture regarding the transfer fee.
“Boca Juniors is my home and I know I’ll be back. Perhaps even as early as for the World Club Championship in Japan. I hope my status will be resolved soon, because the players like to be in action every weekend,” said the creative midfielder who has scored 17 goals in his 45 appearances for Argentina.
Riquelme (29) has won one Intercontinental Cup and three Libertadores Cups with Boca, including one last June while on loan from Villarreal.