25
Aug

Portland Timbers unfurl epic ‘Wizard of Oz’ tifo ahead of Seattle Sounders clash

The Timbers Army is at it again.

As you would expect anytime the Seattle Sounders come to town, the fans in Portland conjured up an epic pre-match tifo to give their rivals a warm welcome to Providence Park for Sunday’s Cascadia Cup match.

This time, they really out-did themselves with a Wizard of Oz-themed tifo. A yellow brick road connected Dorothy holding a can of gasoline on one end, and a burning city of Seattle (appropriately known as the “Emerald City”) on the other. The message “There’s no place like home” hung right above it.

The tifo was absolutely brilliant. Their team? Well, the Sounders left Portland with a convincing 4-2 win over their bitter northwest rivals.

Check the tifo out in action, below:

Image provided by USA Today

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:

8
Sep

Josip Simunic sets Croatia-Serbia relations back 20 years with brutal foul

There are few football rivalries — if any — that are as deep-rooted and ferocious as that between Croatia and Serbia. The feud on the pitch obviously pales in comparison to the bitter wars in the Balkans, yet fighting between soccer hooligans from both countries drew world attention in the early 1990s and became part of the bigger picture.

This past March, Serbia played its first competitive game against Croatia as an independent nation, the first of its two World Cup qualifying duels.  In that match, Serbian fans were banned from traveling to Zagreb as a safety measure, (as were Croatian fans on Friday), reporters at the game overheard a distinct “Let’s kill the Serbs” chant, and Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic was accused of nationalist gestures during a goal celebration.

Needless to say, tempers were frayed on Friday to begin with. But then Croatia’s Josip Simunic, with the score tied 1-1 late in the match, unleashed a horrendous challenge on Serbia’s Miralem Sulejmani. Simunic deliberately took out the Benfica forward in a full speed collision, trying to prevent a clear breakaway and sending Sulejmani a good 4-5 yards in the air.


Simunic was appropriately sent off, and showered with boos and several missiles by the home crowd. The match ended in a draw, knocking Serbia out from the World Cup qualification process.

12
Aug

Angelic tifos, great goals, fights - the Romanian derby had it all

image

Image & videos via 101GG

The Bucharest Derby, played between Romanian clubs Dinamo and Steaua Bucharest, is one of the most intense feuds in all of soccer. Though not as high-profile as the main rivalries in Europe’s top leagues, this derby features all the passion, anxiety and mutual hatred that make all local rivalry games so compelling.

On Sunday, the latest edition of “The Eternal Derby” delivered on all fronts. To begin, the home Dinamo fans unfurled a giant, awesome tifosi depicting Catalin Hildan and Florea Dumitriche, two former club legends that have passed on, rising up into heaven:

After the pre-match festivities, however, Dinamo fans had little to cheer about. It took Steaua defender Iasmin Latovlevici little more than four minutes to score this cracker of a goal, a stunning volley from long range: 

His celebration was almost as spectacular as the goal. First, Latovlevici hiked up his shorts to John Stockton’s level, then paraded around with the jersey of his teammate Paul Parvulescu, who was celebrating his birthday.

Defending champions Steaua would finish ruining Dinamo’s day, winning the derby 2-1 to remain undefeated in the early part of the season.

Sadly, the violent side of the rivalry also reared its ugly head. Ultras from the two teams got into a nasty fist fight in the stands that required intervention from riot police:

Par for the course for the Bucharest derby — one of the greatest in the game.