31
May

Fan throws impossibly accurate paper plane during England-Peru friendly

England beat Peru 3-0 on Friday at Wembley, with Daniel Sturridge scoring this beauty of a goal, but it wasn’t even close to the highlight of the match.

No, instead that honor goes to the fan who somehow managed to craft a paper airplane that was tossed from the upper deck AND HIT A PERU PLAYER. You have to see it to believe it:

That pinpoint accuracy is nearly unbelievable. The thrower must be the smartest luckiest fan in the world — England might want to consider taking him to Brazil as a good luck charm.

Disclaimer: We do not condone throwing things onto the pitch. But this is so insane it had to be seen.

19
Nov

Setting the table for England vs Germany

imageWayne Rooney will lead Roy Hodgson’s side in attack on Tuesday night (Images: Reuters).

The classic rivalry between England and Germany will write another chapter Tuesday night at Wembley Stadium (live, FOX Sports 1, 3 p.m. ET), so let’s run down a few things to know:

1. Twice as nice: Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge will be paired together up top, with Rooney playing in the No. 10 role. This is great news for England, who need Rooney to be in top form and utilized in his best position in order to make a run at the top teams. You can read more about what this means for England in Patrick Barclay’s match preview.

2. Taking it easy: You’ll notice that while the Three Lions are fielding their best XI, more or less, the Germans will miss a lot of key players. Captain Philipp Lahm and Manuel Neuer have been left behind in Germany to rest for Bayern Munich’s upcoming clash at Borussia Dortmund, while Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil will be rested as well. Also absent are injured playmakers Bastian Schweinsteiger, Ilkay Gundogan and Sami Khedira, as well as strikers Miro Klose and Mario Gomez. Joachim Low will have to give his side a new look, including Lars and Sven Bender in holding midfield.

imageWith his team hampered by injuries, Low will be forced to experiment vs. England (Images: Reuters).

3. Players to watch: Don’t feel bad for Germany, they still have plenty of weapons. Watch Marco Reus and Mario Gotze closely today; the two  wingers are competing with Ozil and Thomas Muller for starting spots next summer. The same thing goes for Max Kruse, who starts as the lone striker today.  On the other side, keep an eye on Adam Lallana and Andros Townsend. Still new to the national side, they, too, need to present themselves to the manager.

4. History lesson: The old rivalry has been a story of two eras. From their first meeting in 1908 through the legendary 1966 World Cup final, England completely dominated Germany (10W-2D-0L). It’s been a different story since then; Germany is 13-2-5 against England after ‘66. However, the Three Lions won the last meeting, 2-1, in November 2008 in Berlin.

5. Going tubing: Yesterday, the German national team took the Tube to Wembley Stadium for their final practice. This would be unfathomable if not for the well-known fact that getting to Wembley any other way actually takes ten times as long. This just speaks to Joachim Low’s thorough preparation. A video of the team’s unique transport is below:

25
May

Trecker’s Travels, Day Sixteen: Rain, Rain, Go Away

Photo: Jamie Trecker / FOX Soccer

By Jamie Trecker

Maxwell J. Lieberman was a desk editor at the Hartford Courant, back in the 1950s and 60s, and a special breed of man. Desk editors are a reporter’s secret weapon: they are by nature patient and meticulous, with a clear grasp of how to get from A to B. They make us look sober and sensible. But they are not reporters: we a far more reckless breed. Sadly, the desk man’s affliction is the burning desire to be out in the field, where he imagines the romance to happen.

Courant legend has it that Liberman got his chance. It was a slow news day in Hartford and he was sent out to recap the Elizabeth Park lawn bowling tournament, about as tame as you can get. Unfortunately, his first line was: “It was a beautiful day…” and no one remembers the rest, because the editor in chief came down, ripped the story out of the paper and told Mr. Lieberman in fragrant terms that he was not going to lead the sports section with a weather report.

I’ve been thinking a lot about poor Max, because it’s so difficult not to lead with the weather here. It’s awful. London is experiencing its coldest spring in 37 years. On Wednesday night at the women’s Champions League final, you feared pleurisy; it rained so hard that the normally packed Covent Garden was empty. At Inverness Market, the vendors didn’t even bother to set up the stalls. I guess there are German fans here, but they are so bundled up in rain suits that it is hard to pick them out.

My colleagues saw a few more Germans over at Stratford, where the fan fest kicked off on Thursday. But at Trafalgar Square, where luminaries such as Cafu were supposed to be offering “lessons” of one sort or another, the artificial pitch had puddles several feet wide. Most decided they’d rather see that exhibit at the National Gallery after all.

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24
May

Hitting the London Scene: Wembley Dreams

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Photo: Thomas Hautmann / FOX Soccer

By Thomas Hautmann

On Friday, the FOX Soccer crew headed to Wembley for a walkthrough ahead of Saturday’s big game. The stadium is quite a sight: you can see the whole of it as soon as you get off the Underground stop at Wembley Park. I’ve never been to London before, but I do have seen plenty of modern stadiums and have to say Wembley is amongst the finest I’ve been to. Sadly, I’d never been to the old one.

Rob Stone, Eric Wynalda, and Warren Barton, visibly jetlagged yet looking dapper as ever, made their way to their little studio, the press box and finally on to the pitch, where I reverted back to being 10 years old, feeling as happy as a clam. And then depressed because I never realized my dream of actually playing on such a perfect pitch.

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22
May

Trecker’s Travels, Day Fourteen: All quiet

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Photo: Jamie Trecker / FOX Soccer

By Jamie Trecker

LONDON - The city is quiet, pummeled into depression by a spring that has been anything but spring-like. The markets that line Camden Town and London Bridge, selling summer dresses and tank tops, have been despairing of takers. Most of their time has been spent sitting about, smoking cigarettes and swearing baroquely.

The Germans are coming, or so the papers tell us each morning. The problem is, they aren’t here yet, and when they get here, it’s unclear exactly what they will do. For reasons known only to UEFA, the Champions League fan fest won’t open until Thursday, and it is about as far from Wembley as one can get – it’s across London in Stratford. And news about the tournament? Well, once suspects that since no English team is in it, the less said the better.

In Trafalgar Square, across from the National Gallery, one of the viewing boards was just being put up. But there was little hint of any of this in Wednesday’s papers. The news was of Tony Pulis’ departure, Wayne Rooney’s curious choice for a baby name and the tale of Manchester City’s latest foray abroad. (The Sun, never one to miss a chance to put the boot in, had Frank Lampard doing just that in an “exclusive” interview about Rafa Benitez. Go on, Frank!)

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Photo: Jamie Trecker / FOX Soccer

The fact is, London doesn’t seem very cheery about the prospect of this Champions League final. We heard tales of how 200,000 fans were going to descend on the city – and then little else. Did they not come? One enterprising vendor set up a stall with Germany’s national treat, the currywurst, only to find that at high noon, he was left reading the newspaper with a lot of left-over sausages. He and his cart had vanished by the time I returned this afternoon.

It all feels a bit anticlimactic. And yet, there is a game even further under the radar.

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3
May

Trecker’s Travels, Day Two: Hello Wembley!

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Photo: Jamie Trecker / FOX Soccer

By Jamie Trecker

LONDON, ENGLAND

Wembley Stadium will turn seven later on this year. For a toddler, it’s getting quite a workout. Over the next several weeks, London’s iconic stadium will host the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League finals and then the Football League promotion playoffs – the richest game in all of soccer.

On Thursday, we were invited to an FA program shoot (you’ll see it on May 25) that will show off some of the stadium’s history and legacy. One of the most surprising things about it is how vibrant a venue it is outside of game days. During our taping, Wembley was crawling with tours, so many that the guides had to call in reinforcements and extend hours. It should come as no surprise that many of these visitors spoke German.

One thing that those visitors got to see – and did not know it – was the Champions League trophy itself. It’s kept in a silver gig crate up in the FA’s office on the fourth floor, and two young men carry it down to you. As we had the trophy outside, next to Bobby Moore’s statue, for security purposes we asked the tour group leaders to tell the visitors it was a replica. But, I can tell you now, that if you were a visitor between 2:30 and 3:30 on Thursday, you saw the real thing. Special congratulations to the enterprising little boy who went up and touched it.

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13
Apr

FA investigates Millwall fans, violence

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Photo: REUTERS/Darren Staples

Following the disturbing scenes from Wembley Stadium on Saturday, England’s Football Association launched an official investigation after Millwall fans fought among themselves during an FA Cup semifinal loss to Premier League side Wigan Athletic.

Reaction quickly spilled to Twitter, with many blasting the 30,000-plus Millwall section after images on television showed police being outnumbered against the unruly fans while trying to defend themselves with batons (read more here).

image@TelegraphSport