Rumor mongering

So evidently Real Madrid's starting eleven next year will be:

Casillas, Boulahrouz, Zamnbrotta, Cristiano Ronaldo, Fabregas, Beckham, Reyes, Emerson, Joaquin, Rooney, Robben

And they will be coached by Wenger, Capello, and Ericksson.

Quite a dream team. Emphasis on the dream and less on the team.

Ameobi causing Roeder concern

Ameobi causing Roeder concern
Shola Ameobi has not yet returned to training and his continued absence is causing Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder some concern ahead of their Intertoto Cup campaign.

Newcastle took the decision to enter the Intertoto Cup in order to secure a route into Europe for next term, which has prompted an early return to training for the players.

Ameobi, though, only recently had an injection in his hip and is not yet ready to start training.

With Alan Shearer now retired, Michael Owen injured and Michael Chopra having moved on, Newcastle have a dearth of attacking options.
Should Ameobi fail to pass the doctor, Albert Luque and James Milner are likely to be asked to lead the line against either Keflavik or Lillestrom on July 15.

Hornets pounce for Powell

Hornets pounce for Powell can confirm Watford have signed Chris Powell from Charlton.

Powell has signed a one-year deal at the Premiership new boys after agreeing a pre-contract.
Powell has always been a quality (for the price) fantasy player. Looks like he'll be an option this year, if not a candidate for many clean sheet points.

Good on you, mate

While this may be accurate...

...this is funny...

Quite a dramatic finish. If the Italians weren't in the midst of a match-fixing scandal involving dubious penalties at key moments in matches... why you would just have to invent one.

But don't feel too bad for the Australians. Their version of a national scandal involves this woman.

Toon reject Jimmy talk

Toon reject Jimmy talk
Newcastle boss Glenn Roeder has hit out at reports linking him with a move for Middlesbrough striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

However, talk of this nature has now been dismissed by Roeder, who is less than enamoured with the fact his club have been linked to a player he insists they are not actively pursuing.
Why not? I think it would be irresponsible of them NOT to pursue JFH! Man... would I love to see him lineup for NUFC! JFH4NUFC!

Let's hope that this is one of those situations where the denial is followed quickly by the transfer. Like every deal Real Madrid is involved in.

The New Edgar Davids?

Zokora agrees Spurs move
Ivory Coast international Didier Zokora claims he has agreed a move to Tottenham Hotspur after shunning interest from other Premiership clubs.

Zokora has been one of the most in-demand midfielders in European football and a solid World Cup showing only enhanced his stock.

St Etienne have been resigned to losing the 25-year-old and it now appears Spurs have matched the French side's asking price.

Tottenham look ready to splash out £8.5 million on the midfield workhorse, who claims to have already agreed personal terms to move to White Hart Lane.

Liverpool wrap up Bellamy switch

Liverpool wrap up Bellamy switch
Liverpool have completed the signing of Blackburn striker Craig Bellamy on a four-year contract.

The 26-year-old Welsh international sealed the deal, which is thought to be in the region of £6m, 24 hours after passing a medical.
That didn't take long, did it? Wake up call for ManU and Arsenal. Gonna be another tough race for for the coveted CL spots, if not the Championship. More thoughts here.

Owen ruled out for several months

Owen ruled out for several months
Michael Owen is out of the World Cup and flying back to England after rupturing his anterior cruciate knee ligament in the 2-2 draw with Sweden.

A scan on Wednesday confirmed the worst fears about Owen's injury following his dramatic collapse early in the match.
Ameobi +10?

Does this mean Milner or Dyer gets moved up into an auxilliary striker role? In theory that's great (see The Rules), but in practice neither has really thrived in that position.

Dabo quits Lazio to join Man City

Dabo quits Lazio to join Man City
"Ousmane is a vastly experienced holding midfield player, and gives us more options. I am delighted he is joining us."
Does this free Joey Barton to play a more attacking role? Or does it free him up for a move elsewhere?

Or is it just cover for Barton's temper and Reyna's fragility?

Bellamy set for Liverpool talks

Bellamy set for Liverpool talks
Bellamy's contract at Ewood Park is thought to include a clause, active until June 30, that allows him to speak to any club offering £6m.

Liverpool are understood to have offered that amount, paving the way for contract negotiations to begin.

This would be a huge win for Liverpool, and a huge blow for Blackburn. Bellamy made an average team... well, dangerous, and spearheaded their bid for a European place. That same attitude, pace, and goal-scoring ability would do wonders for Liverpool's run at silverware.

Would make Bellamy a great buy for next season's fantasy game, though IIRC his value had risen to around $14. So maybe the value will be in whomever Blackburn brings in to replace him? My guess is that it will be someone who makes a name for themselves in the World Cup, but will never find form in the EPL.

Italy v United States Report

Italy 1-1 United States

Deserved (and more). Weak call. Weaker .

But "mission accomplished". We have a point from our first two games and need to beat Ghana to have a chance of advancing. Which is just how we thought it would be when the draw was announced.

C'mon USA! Forza Italia!

Dutch fans watch match in their underwear

Dutch fans watch match in their underwear
'I understand that FIFA has sponsors but you cannot tell people to strip off their lederhosen and force them to watch a game in their underpants. That is going too far.'
Too far, unless you're Swedish.

We told you so

Prem duo enter Heskey race
Wigan assistant manager Chris Hutchings admits the club could miss out on the signing of Emile Heskey.

Hutchings has confirmed that Blackburn and Portsmouth have entered the race for the Birmingham striker after The Latics made public their interest earlier this week.
Just remember, you heard it here first

Lost amid the Hulabaloo

United star heads for Hammers
Manchester United defender Jonathan Spector has completed a £500,000 transfer to West Ham.

The 20-year-old has become Alan Pardew's second signing of the summer window and follows hot on the heels of the capture of Lee Bowyer from Newcastle.
West Ham is quietly reloading for another run at Europe. They've added a bit of depth to their midfield in Bowyer, and we'll have to see if Spector is cover for Konchesky or if they can convert him into the right back they more desperately need.

Fifth Column?

BBC SPORT | Football | World Cup 2006 | Germany v Poland
The hosts look set to start with two Polish-born forwards in Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski.

Klose, who admitted this week he still communicates with his German strike partner in Polish, insisted the Poles would be a far bigger threat than in their 2-0 defeat to Ecuador.

Just so you guys don't think I'm ignoring you...

Here's what I've been up to since the last time I blogged...

I stopped by London...

And now I'm in Germany...

Apparently, there's some big tournament going on here or something.

Old Friends

BBC SPORT | Football | World Cup 2006 | Live: Spain 3-0 Ukraine

Nice to see that Serhiy Rebrov is still around. He never produced much for Tottenham, but he was solid for fantasy managers. Always 8-10 pts a game on shots and crosses.

Good to see he's still in the national frame, even if he never went on to the heights that his former running mate Sheva has.

Kaka has me smelling like a rose far.

BBC SPORT | Football | World Cup 2006 | Live: Brazil 1-0 Croatia
45 mins: Brazil 1-0 Croatia
Brazil's Kaka scores a stunning goal from the edge of the area with his left-foot after picking up the ball from Cafu. Stipe Pletikosa was given no chance in between the Croatia posts.
In a fit of pique I decided to pick up Kaka instead of Ronaldinho. Not sure how it will all turn out, but so far, so good.

Now if only I had the guts to make him my captain instead of the Fat One.

Roman's Legions

So far in the Cup the winners have got to be the Blues of London.  Even with Ballack on the sidelines for Germany's first game and Shevchenko questionable, we've had Drogba, Robben, and Crespo score; and Lampard, Terry, and Cole put in good games for England.

Winners and losers

The US did not come to play.  Period, end of story.  We were on our heels from the opening whistle, got caught out on our first attack and gave up a goal on the counter.  Never recovered.  The Czechs just sat back in banks for 4s and let the US come at them.  The US obliged and returned the favor by presenting them the ball time and time again.

And in the winners column, well, it looks like Arsenal have bought themselves a star.  And probably saved a few million pounds by getting the deal done before the Cup.

Rosicky +10

Fantasy beginning

Well, not really. Got 2 out of my 3 Germans correct with Klose and Schweinsteiger. Shame about Lehmann though. My gut was telling me that keepers would be a liability in this scoring system (-3 for a goal allowed) and I was right. I should listen to my gut more often.

Also wish I had Klose as my captain for the double points. 19 becoming 38 (by my maths) is going to be a really nice cushion over the rest of us slobs. And the -6 from Lehmann... ouch.

Okay, now I'm depressing myself. Must focus on the positive...

Great opening game and the hits keep coming. Eng-er-land tomorrow and I'll assume that this group has 3 apiece. Here's hoping for Gerrard's recovery and his continuing his knack for stepping it up on the big stage.

McDonald's/FIFA World Cup Fantasy Game

McDonald's/FIFA World Cup Fantasy Game

Be sure to get in now!

You have been invited to join jspitzberg's Private Group in McDonald's/FIFA World Cup Fantasy Game.

In order to join the group, just go to game front page and click on the "Sign Up" button to create a team. After completing registration, or if you already have a team, go to the "Groups" homepage, then click the "Join Group" line and follow the path to join an existing private group. Then, when prompted, enter the following information...

Group ID#: 26235
Password: adebayor

We will send you a confirmation with further details once you have completed the registration process.

-- McDonald's/FIFA World Cup Fantasy Game

Andres rules out Pompey stay

Andres rules out Pompey stay
Andres D'Alessandro has revealed he has no plans to stay at Portsmouth.
Portuguese giants Benfica are thought to be leading the chase for his signature and D'Alessandro admits he would be interested in a switch to Portugal.

"I do not know anything of the interest of Benfica, but if this is true that would be magic," added D'Alessandro.
Looks like 'arry is going to have to dig deeper into his own pot of questionably sourced Russian money. Though maybe if Benfica signs D'Alessandro, Robert will become available to Portsmouth again.

The smile's the thing

Soccernet is reporting that Wayne Rooney has been cleared to play for England.

Wayne Rooney boarded a return flight to Baden-Baden on Wednesday night, seemingly given the all-clear to join England's World Cup campaign. While there was no official confirmation from either the Football Association or Manchester United, Rooney's smiles as he left the building for Manchester Airport, suggesting he will play.
Seems like rather thin evidence, doesn't it?

In other injury news, Djibril Cisse broke his leg in a friendly today. Most likely Henry and Saha will lead the line for France. And Germany still waits on whether or not Michael Ballack will be fit for their opener v Costa Rica.

cross posted from | World Cup 2006

China crisis for Trez and Boumsong?

China crisis for Trez and Boumsong?
Boumsong started life as a holding midfielder and is not a natural defender, but copes fine when playing alongside an 'organiser'.
For 8 million pounds you HAVE to do better than that.

Also, it looks like France is leaning towards a Henry/Saha partnership up front. Sounds like an EPL fantasy lineup!

Ballack fitness still in doubt for opening match

Ballack fitness still in doubt for opening match
Germany are not yet certain that captain Michael Ballack will be fit to play in the opening match of the World Cup on Friday, although the player himself is confident of lining up against Costa Rica.

'We hope that after a little rest and the work of the medical department he will be fit,' assistant coach Joachim Loew said on Tuesday, three days before the Group A match in Munich.

'It's just a little calf muscle problem but it is a nagging injury,' added Loew.
Ballack should be an important part of Germany's attack this tournamenat, and they should do well, perhaps going all the way to the finals. Do you put him on your WC fantasy team from the start, or do you pick him up in the transfer window before the elimination rounds?

Pompey chasing Camara

Pompey chasing Camara
Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp has confirmed his interest in Wigan striker Henri Camara.

Redknapp is actively looking to strengthen his attack and is thought to have put Camara to the top of his wanted list.
Would Camara want to join Pompey? It was surprising enough when Bullard joined Fulham, but he has ties to the city. Yes, Camara has played for Redknapp at Southampton, but they got relegated together. Would he relish facing another fight against the drop (as might Bullard) on the South Coast.

What's up with Wigan and/or their players? After a HUGELY successful first season in the EPL there is far too much turmoil in the off-season. Camara is just the latest player either rumored or confirmed to be leaving the club after Chimbonda, Bullard, and Roberts.

I guess it will only be a matter of time before we start hearing names coming IN to the club. They need cover at all positions, especially down the spine of the team from attack, through center mid, and into the center of defense. If Jewell can repeat his successes in the transfer market again this summer, there should be some bargains for the fantasy manager come the fall.

McDonald's/FIFA World Cup Fantasy Game

Okay, here's your chance to show us (again) how little we know.

You have been invited to join jspitzberg's Private Group in McDonald's/FIFA World Cup Fantasy Game.

In order to join the group, just go to game front page and click on the "Sign Up" button to create a team. After completing registration, or if you already have a team, go to the "Groups" homepage, then click the "Join Group" line and follow the path to join an existing private group. Then, when prompted, enter the following information...

Group ID#: 26235
Password: adebayor

We will send you a confirmation with further details once you have completed the registration process.

-- McDonald's/FIFA World Cup Fantasy Game


Boro move for American ace
Middlesbrough look to have tied up a shock deal for USA star Oguchi Onyewu.

The 23-year-old, know as Gooch, is currently playing in Belgium for Standard Liege - but Boro are now understood to have tied up a deal for the highly-rated central defender.
Whomever got Gooch this summer, and it seemed obvious that he was going to move to a bigger club/league, was going to get a player with "tremendous upside potential". But Boro are smart to do this deal now, before a good showing in the World Cup increased his price by a few millions pounds.

Mourinho keeps faith with Drogba

Mourinho keeps faith with Drogba
Mourinho is hoping the two strikers can form a lethal partnership.

He added: "Andriy has creativity speed with the ball, movement, intelligence, he is an amazing player.

"Didier is strong, powerful, a fighter, fantastic in creating spaces for other people to score.

"Andriy has a lot of times played 4-4-2 in Milan like Chelsea do a lot of times with a diamond in midfield and two strikers."
Is this the end for Chelsea's wingers? Ballack, Lampard, and Makelele would be 3 automatic choices. That leaves Essien the most likely 4th, on the right of the diamond.

It's as if Chelsea have not only constructed an entire reserve squad of international calibre players, but that they also have a stable of players that they don't even need anymore. Or at least ones that allow them to play in a style that they are not interested in playing anymore.

It's quite amazing, and quite infuriating for fantasy managers.

Wenger joy at Rosicky capture

Wenger joy at Rosicky capture
Arsene Wenger believes new signing Tomas Rosicky is the perfect replacement for Robert Pires in Arsenal's midfield.

The Czech international joined The Gunners for £7 million last month and was expected to be the signing that would replace the departing Frenchman.


"I wanted to secure [Rosicky] before the World Cup started. He is a little bit similar position-wise to Robert.

"He can play in Dennis Bergkamp's role, on the left, in a 4-3-3 or central. But he is a slightly different style.
So does this mean that Reyes is relegated to the bench? What happened to his progress this last season? Wasn't he the long-term replacement for Pires?

Regardless, seems like Sheva/Berbatov/Ballack/Rosicky + 7.

Do the Crouch

Do yourself a favor and watch the goal too because it's pretty sweet... for a big man.