8
Aug

Take your pick: Ronaldinho or Cristiano Ronaldo?

There are few players in the world who can bend the ball perfectly over a wall, past the goalkeeper and into the net on a regular basis. Sure, sometimes you get lucky and hit your free kick just right, but to do it consistently takes a tremendous amount of practice and skill.

Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo are two of those players that have absolutely mastered the art of the free kick. And on Wednesday night, the legends played a game of soccer HORSE across two continents.

First up was Ronaldinho, who scored this stunner for Atletico Mineiro in Brazil against Botafogo:

But Cristiano Ronaldo countered with this beauty during the International Champions Cup final win versus Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea:

Alright, Ronnie, you’re up next. Let’s see what you’ve got.

8
Aug

Pitch “invader” gives Ronaldo lengthy hug as Real Madrid clinches ICC title

The preseason is a time for extensive fitness regimens, wrinkles in the playbook, welcoming new players, a little bit of fun, and of course, hugs. Warm, intimate, unabated hugs. 

Cristiano Ronaldo was on the receiving end last night during the International Champions Cup final, after a young fan ran onto the pitch to spend some quality time in the arms of his idol. The young man, who benefited from an alarmingly unresponsive security team, whispered sweet nothings into Ronaldo’s ear for a good twenty seconds before the star of the evening (CR7 scored two great goals to lead Real Madrid to the title) helped direct him back to the sidelines, visibly touched by what he heard.

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We couldn’t possibly know what was said, but judging by Ronaldo’s face, it was probably something to the effect of “You totally should have won every Ballon d’Or over Messi.”

This is the second instance this summer where a fan was barely stopped from reaching their idols. A few weeks ago, a die-hard Didier Drogba fan had to be dragged off the pitch by the Ivorian striker himself during a friendly match in Shrewsbury.

Meanwhile, no fans ran up to hug Jose Mourinho, who before the match took a stab at his former player by saying he is not “the real Ronaldo” (the Brazilian). Not feeling so special now, are we Jose?

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7
Aug

Mario Balotelli the latest soccer star trying out American sports

The International Champions Cup has not only been a great opportunity for American fans to enjoy their favorite European stars in action, but also a chance for those players to try their hands at American sports.

We’ve already seen Andrea Pirlo and Leonardo Bonucci fool around on the football field, and who could forget this classic:

Out of the bunch, Balotelli seems the closest to having his talents translate to other sports, as these thunderous jams above prove. Maybe Super Mario and Steve Nash, who’s proven he can keep up on the soccer pitch, can coordinate a brief player swap next season?

3
Aug

The ICC came, saw, and conquered Dodger Stadium

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Think back to a time when there were no preseason tournaments, no trophies to play for on baseball fields, and clubs simply resorted to friendlies against cupcake opponents as way to get ready for the season. How dull!

Thanks to the International Champions Cup (ICC), Los Angeles became the latest of US cities to host the newest — and really the most compelling — of preseason competitions. On Saturday night, it did not disappoint.

Four teams from four countries — Real Madrid, Juventus, Everton, and the hometown LA Galaxy — offered fans an entertaining night of soccer and, more importantly, the unique opportunity to see their favorite players in the flesh. While some preseason fixtures fall flat due to teams’ unwillingness to trot out their best sides, the International Champions Cup delivered.

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Cristiano Ronaldo, Tim Howard, Andrea Pirlo and Landon Donovan all played at least one half to the clear approval of the fans. Every Ronaldo step-over was greeted with a rising ensemble of “ooh’s” and “aah’s.” USA chants rang out every time Howard touched the ball, and ladies in every section fainted at the sight of Pirlo’s herculean beard (okay, that last part was made up. Maybe. You really can’t be sure.)

The fans’ enthusiasm at Dodger Stadium was heard and felt throughout the night, and the players returned the favor with some fine showmanship. Ronaldo’s bravado was on full display, Howard made some truly outstanding saves, and the late consolation match between Juventus and LA was a high-energy affair thanks to LA taking the play to the Italian champions. In other words: the fans most definitely got their money’s worth.

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The tournament also provided some unintentionally funny moments;  Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez celebrating his goal against Gigi Buffon as if it was a World Cup final; the referee getting booed mercilessly for cutting a half 30 seconds short; Real Madrid’s Kaka — merely a rotation player now — receiving by far the loudest cheers of the night. It were those quirky moments within the competition that reminded us it’s still the preseason (well, except for LA). Yet, they also added to the charm of the International Champions Cup.

In the end, there will be one champion lifting up a trophy. But to the fans, the media, and maybe even some of the players, Saturday night could be summed up by one thought: is the preseason supposed to be this much fun?

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1
Aug

Pitch invader takes penalty kick, unfazed Tim Howard saves it

It’s not every day that a fan makes his way onto the field without getting caught by security in just a few seconds, and only the most talented of pitch invaders can manage to get their foot on the ball, or their hands on a player. But a pitch invader actually taking a penalty kick in the middle of a shootout, well, that’s got to be a first.

After last night’s International Champions Cup match between Everton and Juventus went into sudden death penalty kicks, a fan ran onto the pitch just as Juve’s Kwadwo Asamoah was stepping up to his kick and beat him to it. Everton’s Tim Howard was rather unimpressed, nonchalantly catching the ball that was, to be fair, hit right at him.

Sure, it wasn’t the best-taken penalty, but we doubt the fan cared much either way. It was a funny moment, and we can only tip our hat to the fan’s rambunctiousness. As Ron Burgundy would say, “I’m not even mad, that’s impressive!”

Update: We’re not 100% positive on this one, but we just might have a double offender on our hands. Last year, a man clad in the same headgear and jacket as Wednesday’s pitch invader creatively interrupted an interview with golfer Webb Simpson:

The man was then identified as Andrew James Dudley of England, reportedly a deforestation activist who calls himself, get this, “Jungle Bird.” He wasn’t charged.

Whether or not Jungle Bird got off for this as well, or if it is even him, we can’t know for sure. But you decide for yourself.

28
Jul

Chelsea set sights on Bayern Munich’s Luiz Gustavo

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Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea are preparing well for the new season with three wins out of three so far. As they build up for the International Champions Cup the speculation continues as to where they will strengthen their squad. In today’s newspapers, the Blues are linked with highly-rated Bayern Munich midfielder Luiz Gustavo. Gustavo is out of favor after the addition of Thiago Alcantara to the Bayern roster and may be open to the move.


For this rumor and all the other transfer gossip, click here.