Real Madrid v Galatasaray
Real Madrid v Galatasaray
One can only wonder why this lone, stunned Spurs supporter stayed at the Etihad this long (Image: Reuters)
Poor Spurs …
Fresh off their biggest defeat of the season, a 6-0 smack-down courtesy of Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, Tottenham were mocked by more than one player from North London rivals Arsenal.
Chronic Re-tweeter Emmanuel Frimpong retweeted a pair of exasperating messages during the match, one a (successful) plea to make the defeat even heavier, and the other a harsh evaluation of a particular Spurs player:
Not one to miss an opportunity for some Spurs trash talk (or piano dissing) Gunners keeper Wojciech Szczesny took to Facebook instead, trolling his rival supporters with this message:
During the match, a whole block of City supporters flashed Tottenham the famous “Heart” sign which Spurs were used to seeing from a certain Gareth Bale:
Talk about rubbing it in. It can’t get much worse for Spurs, who tumbled down to ninth place with the loss and have a goal differential of minus 3. In fact, Sergio Aguero, who scored two goals Sunday, now has one more Premier League goal this season (10) than Tottenham (9).
Spurs fans, if there is one reason to remain optimistic it is this: Manchester United were down in the bottom half of the table only a month ago, but after a streak of six games without a loss, find themselves back in 6th.
Mexico complete its escape from the abyss in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Most of the hard work occurred a week ago at the Azteca, but the 4-2 triumph in Wellington dispatched New Zealand for good and guaranteed El Tri’s place in the World Cup draw next month.
The two-legged victory bolstered Miguel Herrera’s considerable claims for a full-time appointment and rescued this sputtering qualifying mission at the last possible instant. Oribe Peralta grabbed a first-half hat trick to erase any lingering doubts, but the second half — peculiar as it was — could prove more useful to Herrera as he starts to plot the next step.
Each move from now until next summer will prove crucial. Herrera must accomplish a great deal in a short amount of time. And he must weigh a few of the take-home points from this second leg at Westpac Stadium along the way with him to achieve those ends:
1. Directness works for this group: Mexico must figure out what it can take from this modest test and apply to more rigorous examinations. Herrera’s emphasis on playing quickly through midfield and providing service behind the line should stick. This team must counterattack deftly against better opponents. This setup — a 5-3-2 formation reliant on overlapping wingbacks and tidy passing sequences — should fare well enough if Herrera can insert one or two players capable of increasing the tempo even further.
2. Carlos Pena makes everything tick …: El Tri labored through this year with a central midfield incapable of providing the incisive pass and unwilling to join the attack at the proper junctures. Pena eradicated those concerns and finally transferred his domestic effectiveness to the international scene. His relentless vertical running through midfield makes Mexico more potent and offers a necessary dimension against more diverse opposition. His clever feed to Peralta for the opener showed he possesses the necessary guile to play through the lines, too.
3. … and Peralta makes everything worthwhile: The streamlined approach through midfield only works if the forwards hold up the ball usefully and polish off the chances presented to them efficiently. Peralta earned top marks in both departments during both legs. He brings other players into attacking sequences and then moves intelligently into spots where he can convert in front of goal. His place in this lineup — barring a recurrence of those troublesome knee complaints — looks assured for the moment.
4. Late reminders underscore persistent defensive concerns: Herrera expects his three central defenders to establish a resolute base for his side to venture forward. The past three matches suggest this personnel group simply isn’t sufficient to fulfill that role against stronger competition. New Zealand played behind Rafa Márquez, Maza Rodríguez and Juan Carlos Valenzuela far too easily given the paucity of genuine quality in its ranks. Rory Fallon’s goal, in particular, sounded a loud warning for trouble ahead. This stopgap trio needs reinforcements to cope with more astute players capable of punishing Mexico for its inability to cope with clever runs or tend to space properly.
5. Time to make peace with the foreign contingent: The late wobbles in this second leg owed much to New Zealand’s persistence in Ricki Herbert’s final match in charge, but they also reinforced the need for further strengthening over the next few months. Herrera cannot afford to lean on a domestic core next summer. He must find a way to integrate Giovani dos Santos, Javier Hernández and Héctor Moreno into this revamped setup. And he needs to concoct a plan to persuade the exiled Carlos Vela to return to the fold as well. Those four players make Mexico a better and more complete outfit. It is now down to Herrera to ensure they carve out meaningful roles and spark El Tri to success in Brazil.
Images provided by Getty.
Man United vs Arsenal
Our bus broke down at the stadium. Option A: Hitchhike with fans. Option B: Wait. What do you think we did? pic.twitter.com/ntqwBIVHFp— Sydney Leroux (@sydneyleroux)
— Hope Solo (@hopesolo)
We really do have THE BEST fans!I mean,having our backs when our bus breaks down?And getting us back to our hotel safely! Awesome!— Hope Solo (@hopesolo)
Hey @CarleyPainter thanks to you all for the ride home today buddy. Hopefully I’ll be able to return the favor someday!!— Abby Wambach (@AbbyWambach)
Barcelona v AC Milan
The “fiery” rivalry between Serbian clubs Red Star Belgrade and Partizan Belgrade is considered by many to be one of the most intense in the world, if not the most. The latest edition of the “Eternal Derby” more than lived up to the billing.
With home side Red Star up 1-0 early in the second half, Partizan fans began throwing flares on the pitch. OK, pretty standard rivalry etiquette so far. But then, the supporters began lighting several fires in their own cheering section.
More and more fires started in the away section, and before long the referee had to stop play until smoke cleared the stadium. Fire trucks were brought in to quell the flames, before the match could restart.
Despite all of their fans’ efforts, Partizan still lost to Red Star. And they probably deserved that.
The highly-anticipated Revierderby between historic rivals Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 was delayed after the away fans set off a series of flares prior to kick-off. Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller ran over to the away section but had little luck calming down his fans, instead getting more flares thrown his way.
Unperturbed on the field, Dortmund took apart Schalke 3-1 to exact sweet revenge for last season, when the Royal Blues pulled the double on Dortmund with two 2-1 victories. This time around, the Bundesliga’s most historic derby underscored Dortmund’s terrific form at the moment and saw them reclaim authority in the region.
Strikes from Patrick Aubameyang, Nuri Sahin and Kuba Blaszczykowski proved the difference for Jurgen Klopp’s men, who didn’t enjoy as much possession as the hosts but were more clinical in front of goal. Sahin’s goal was by far the best of the bunch, as he turned back the clock to his pre-Real Madrid, pre-Liverpool days when he was the Bundesliga’s best player in 2010:
Dortmund kept pace with Bayern Munich, who won at Berlin, while widening the gap on their rivals to 11 points. Schalke fell to sixth place in the standings.
You could see how much the derby spoils meant to the BVB players, as Lewandowski posted this to his Instagram after the match from the dressing room:
One of the lighter moments of the match came on the touchline as Klopp, everyone’s darling, volleyed a ball going out of bounds and inadvertently struck the head of the fourth official:
Video H/T 101GG
Image courtesy of Getty.
Ever since Iker Casillas lost his starting role at Real Madrid, questions have swirled about his future, but not much has been confirmed. We now know that Casillas is going to decide in roughly three months whether he’s staying with Los Blancos.
Who squeezed this information out of him? A child, of course.
The interview begins with a child asking him sweetly if he thinks Real Madrid are playing well. But it’s the next kid who steps up to the mic that asks the hard-hitting question.
"Would you like to stay at Real Madrid?"
Considering his surroundings — a publicity event with a bunch of young children — Casillas opens up and reveals how deeply he’s thought about his future.
He reiterated that he wants to stay at the club that he’s been with since he was little, Casillas admitted if things don’t change soon he may leave:
"As of now my decision is to stay and fight, to struggle and play every day. If I wasn’t sure about it I would have told the president I wanted to leave in September and that no matter what at Christmas. But I decided that I want to be part of this squad for a long time yet.
"That said, if the situation doesn’t change within three months, I’d say that I’ll be looking to leave."
If the Spanish international decides to leave, we can think of a club that is in the market for a goalkeeper (we’re looking right at you Manchester City).
Bosnia-Herzegovina wasn’t even in existence until 1992, but just two decades after its national team played their first match (a year later, in 1993) the small Balkan nation has clinched its first-ever World Cup appearance after a 1-0 win at Lithuania on Tuesday.
The historic moment unleashed a large-scale celebration in the streets of Sarajevo, the nation’s capital. It wasn’t the only milestone on Tuesday.
Though Iceland didn’t qualify directly, the small Nordic island nation did make the playoff round for the first time ever, which was cause for celebration in its own right. After earning a draw at Norway — coupled with Slovenia’s loss at Switzerland — Iceland has a chance to become the smallest-ever nation to make the World Cup finals if it navigates through the playoff round held in November.
Close to 3,000 Iceland fan traveled to Norway to see the country’s biggest game ever (to date), which is almost one percent of Iceland’s entire population. Below is some fan footage of the exact moment when Iceland knew they clinched a playoff spot:
Congratulations to both nations for their terrific accomplishments!