3
Apr

Trecker’s Travels Day 2: Allez Paris Saint-Germain

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By Jamie Trecker
FOX Soccer

PARIS—The Metro pulled out of Porte St. Cloud with a roar: “Allez Paris! Allez, Allez, Allez Paris!” The chrome cars were draped in red flags and men raced through the compartments, clutching cans of Leffe, singing, hoarse and sweaty: “Trois-un! TROIS! UN!” Their giddiness was understandable for PSG had done the unthinkable: they had knocked off mighty Chelsea, and put one foot into the semifinals of the Champions League.

Wednesday’s win was a high point for this young French club – PSG has only been in existence since 1972 – and signaled that Qatar’s ambitious program is paying immediate dividends. This match was no fluke: the Parisians lacked some skill and technique, with Edinson Cavani spectacularly wasteful, but they more than made up for it in possession and drive. By the end of the game, Chelsea were penned back, swept into their own area by a sea of dark blue shirts.

Jose Mourinho was his usual provocative self after the match: he called Javier Pastore’s brilliant individual goal at the death “a joke;” he said he had played Andre Schurrle because he had “no real strikers,” and when he was was asked if the tie was over, he smiled wanly and said no. His face read: “yes.”

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29
Mar

This might be the strangest pitch invader yet

Just when you think you’ve seen everything, along comes Betty Boop.

During Marseille’s 1-1 draw with Sochaux, a fan interrupted Mathieu Valbuena while he set up to take a corner kick.

Why would someone would bring this doll into a soccer stadium? You know what, don’t answer that. We probably don’t want to know.

H/T 101GG

27
Mar

Rejoice, world! The Zlatan stamps are now on sale

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As we first told you in November, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been immortalized by the Swedish Postal Service (Posten) with his own line of stamps. And on Thursday, after an excruciating four-month wait, the stamps finally went on sale, obviously to roaring success.

Football fans all over the continent have been flocking to their local post offices for the first time in probably a decade. Posten’s Head of Stamps Britt-Inger Hahne told TT news agency that five million stamps have already been sold in advance.

“The French are particularly interested,” Hahne said. “One customer ordered 1,500 packages for his French friends.” (Okay, we’re not sure if that means 1,500 Facebook “friends” or actual friends, but regardless, that’s a lot of stamps!)

Zlatan himself has been overjoyed at the thought of seeing his big schnoz on the bills he will receive. In November, he said:

It’s a great honour to be on a postage stamp and I’m very happy and proud to have been chosen. I usually receive bills and they seldom have nice stamps. Maybe that will change now.”

As you can see, the Zlatan stamps all feature images of him in action with the Swedish national team, and two of them capture the iconic bicycle kick he scored against England, which won the FIFA Puskas Award in January for Goal of the Year.

Image: Getty

6
Mar

Zlatan praises Matuidi wonder goal

Blaise Matuidi scored a ridiculous goal for France in their friendly against the Netherlands yesterday. The entire soccer world took notice, and for good reason.

The best way to describe it is a no-look spinning scissor kick, but it’s better if you just watch it:

The stunning strike even caught the attention of PSG teammate and soccer god Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Only Zlatan can get away with talking in third person while complimenting another player. Because Zlatan does what Zlatan wants.

28
Feb

Laurent Koscielny donates thousands to save accordion factory

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Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny may be living in England, but he certainly hasn’t forgotten his French roots.

The 28-year-old was born and raised in Tulle, France, home to the famous accordion factory Maugein. It was established in 1919, but late last year it was threatened with closure. Koscielny wasn’t going to let this happen.

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French media has reported that the defender is part of an investment group that has put up more than $800K to help save the factory.

The company makes these gorgeous instruments from scratch, but have been undermined by competition who made cheaper accordions. Thankfully, for the sake of the art and music, Kolscielny has stepped in to keep Maugein alive.

Via The Guardian

Images courtesy of Getty, Action

21
Feb

Monaco defender gets ultimate revenge

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When Layvin Kurzawa took a thunderous cleat to the chest in the 83rd minute of Monaco’s Ligue 1 match against Reims, it looked like he might not be able to continue.

But after a minute of agony — and watching offending Reims player Aissa Mandi being sent off — Kurzawa soldiered on, and boy, did it pay off.

On what would be the final kick of the match, the 21-year-old scored the game-winner, securing a crucial three points in the race for the Ligue 1 title.

The lesson here: Don’t mess with Layvin Kurzawa.

Image courtesy of Getty

25
Nov

What was this fan thinking?!

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A Saint Etienne fan was pictured hanging off the terrace railing on Sunday as an ugly brawl between supporters marred the Ligue 1 side’s road match at Nice. (Ironic, right? “Nice?” Forget it.)

How did he get there?

Tensions already ran high hours before the match when a pack of Saint Etienne fans had their bus stoned while arriving to Nice’s grounds. Once inside Allianz Riviera stadium, the roadies had revenge on their minds, ripping apart some 200 seats and using them as missiles before the match even began. Riot police quickly intervened and tried to remove the violent fans, numbering around 100, from the stadium:

imageimageimage Looking to get out of dodge, one fan then attempted to climb over the railings and get to the other section, channeling his inner Sly Stallone in Cliffhanger … or Rambo … or any Stallone action movie ever:

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Pretty stupid.

According to reports, nine people were injured during the brawl, and Nice’s public prosecutor Eric Bedos said that an investigation was already underway, although he didn’t give any more details. The French League, meanwhile, threatened a ban on traveling fans after the incident.

From The Guardian:

"Enough! The few cretins who claim to be supporters do not even realise they ruin the image of football," the French League (LFP) president Frédéric Thiriez said in a statement.

"I will ask a meeting with the ministry of Interior to discuss the supporters’ trips to away games. If we don’t succeed in resolving this problem it will end with a systematic ban on [supporters’] trips, which nobody wishes."

That would be severe punishment, no doubt, but at least fans woulnd’t dangle off railings like Christmas tree ornaments anymore.

Watch the crazy video below:

(All images: Valery Hache/AFP/Getty)

20
Nov

Porno site, weathercaster pay bets after France seals World Cup ticket

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Pornography mogul Marc Dorcel found an avalanche of users eager to cash in on his bet. (Image provided by Getty)

There are a few things we learned when France dug themselves out of a huge hole and qualified for the World Cup against Ukraine:

  1. Never bet against the down-but-not-out Les Bleus
  2. The French have an affinity for bets involving nudity

First on the docket, one of France’s biggest pornography producers (so we’ve heard), Marc Dorcel. Owner of website of a mature nature, Dorcel offered to remove the pay wall on his site if France managed to qualify.

Once the final whistle blew and France were through, Dorcel’s site crashed in 45 seconds. To Dorcel and his staff’s credit, they tried to protect themselves against the droves of members looking for free content, but alas, accidents happen.

Of course, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. We all know how guys react to free porn:

Ghislain Faribeault, Dorcel’s Vice President of Media, told the French press:

"Seeing the score change in a positive way, we started to try and beef up our servers and prepare for scalability. We decided this operation in a bit in a hurry. But we did not expect such a result!"

Luckily, it seems nobody left empty-handed. Dorcel’s company quickly set up additional website to help handle the load, and users got the free media they were assured.

Now, not to be outdone, French weathercaster Doria Tillier had a lot of the web wondering if she’d come through on her promise to do the weather in the buff once Les Bleus sealed their ticket to next year’s summer bash in Brazil.

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Tillier has seen some time on the silver screen as well as the TV screen. (Image: Getty)

Well, Tillier came through on her promise. Indeed, scantily glad in nothing but a pair of boots, Tillier ran around a lush green field while cheering:

You didn’t really expect to SEE anything unmentionable, did you? It might be foreign TV, but there ARE standards of decency.

Speaking of decency, our favorite part of the video? The sound of nearby church bells ringing as Tillier frolics about. We’re hoping nobody saw anything too titillating.

(h/t 101GreatGoals)

19
Nov

Heavyweights deliver goods on memorable final day of World Cup qualifying

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What a day of football.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a tremendous hat trick to lead Portugal into the 2014 World Cup — besting Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s brace, which had briefly revived Sweden’s hopes — while France became the first nation ever to qualify for a major tournament after losing a playoff first leg 0-2 on the road.

Elsewhere, Greece and Croatia also booked their tickets to Brazil, while African World Cup qualifying concluded with Ghana and Algeria claiming the last two African spots.

Care to see some goals now? Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic held their own personal shootout at Friends Arena, with CR7 ultimately besting Zlatan, 3 goals to 2. Whereas Ibra scored his brace on a pair of set pieces — one being an unstoppable free kick — Ronaldo feasted on a trio of breakaways, each finish cooler than the last:

Ronaldo thus wrapped up a clutch performance for the ages; he scored all four of Portugal’s goals over the two legs to ensure that he, and not Zlatan, is heading to Brazil. Not surprisingly, FIFA president Sepp Blatter was quick to congratulate Ronaldo, just weeks after publicly slighting him in favor of Lionel Messi. Even Blatter must have realized that a World Cup without the Ballon d’Or frontrunner would kind of be a bummer:

Ibrahimovic, for his part, could only applaud:

A historic moment of truth for Zlatan, realizing there are other players out there as good as him?

Eh, maybe not.

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Home fans were in a much better mood in Paris, as France grabbed a historic win over the Ukraine. Needing to win by three goals or more (had Ukraine scored an away goal), Les Bleus did just that, capping the comeback on an own goal in the 72nd minute:

Good thing, too. Imagine a Carnival without France. Impossible!

Before Tuesday, soccer fans had to prepare themselves for the possibility of a World Cup without the two leading Ballon d’Or candidates — Ronaldo and France’s Franck Ribery (apologies, Messi, but you were simply injured too often in 2013).

It would have been the first time in history that the reigning Ballon d’Or winner would watch the World Cup from home. But thanks to two incredible performances — one by Ronaldo himself, the other, a great  team performance by France — those fears have been squashed. A great World Cup awaits.

Only without Zlatan.

Images provided by Reuters.

14
Oct

Four direct berths, playoff spots in balance as UEFA WCQ comes to a close

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Expect plenty of drama and turmoil to unfold as Europe concludes the group phase of its World Cup qualifying efforts on Tuesday.

Most of the heavy hitters have either locked up a place in Brazil or situated themselves properly to claim one ahead of the last round of fixtures. Several prominent sides – including England and Spain – still need a result to guarantee a direct berth, while other countries – ranging from the usual suspects in France and Portugal to potential first-timers Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iceland – must obtain results to either finish in top spot or seal a place in the playoffs next month.

Here is a look at the state of play heading into a decisive day across the continent:

Qualified: Belgium (Group A), Italy (Group B), Germany (Group C), Netherlands (Group D), Switzerland (Group E)

Into the playoffs: Croatia (Group A), Sweden (Group C)

Assured of a direct berth or a playoff spot, depending on results: Bosnia-Herzegovina (Group G), France (Group I), England (Group H), Greece (Group G), Portugal (Group F), Russia (Group F), Spain (Group I)

Group A: Nothing to see here with Belgium (qualified) and Croatia (playoffs) already confirmed as the top two.

Group B: Italy has already booked its place in Brazil. Bulgaria (13 points, +6 GD), Denmark (13 points, -1 GD), Czech Republic (12 points, +3 GD) and Armenia (12 points, -1 GD) remain in contention for second place, but the low point haul and the smattering of the results here and elsewhere means not one of the four sides is likely to qualify for the playoff as one of the top-eight finishers (only the results against the top five teams in the group count in that convoluted table).

Bulgaria hosts the Czechs (already eliminated from playoff contention based on results) in Sofia with a chance to claim second place. If the Bulgarians falter, then Denmark will almost certainly top them given their task at home to bottom side Malta. Armenia must win in Italy and then hope for some help along the way.
 

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