30
Aug

Schalke tip cap to miners with awesome new stadium tunnel

Schalke have paid homage to the mining community that supports their side by revamping a tunnel in the Veltins-Arena stadium to look like a coal mine.

The club is nicknamed “the Miners” because of the area’s history of mining, and it’s pretty awesome to see Schalke embracing it.

With clubs like Bundesliga champion Bayern Munich lining up in the dark, imposing tunnel alongside Schalke’s squad, we’d say the pregame intimidation factor gets a bump in Schalke’s favor.

Let’s just take one more look at that:

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Awesome stuff.

(h/t Metro)

28
Aug

Legia Warsaw fans fire back at UEFA with amazing tifo over Champions League ruling

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After having its UEFA Champions League qualification tossed out on a pretty bogus technicality, Legia Warsaw were steaming mad.

To recap, Legia Warsaw blasted Celtic in their Champions League playoff to the tune of a 6-1 aggregate win, but the Polish side were deemed to have fielded an ineligible player late in their second-leg win. As a result, Celtic were reinstated, and Legia Warsaw were dropped to the Europa League.

To make matters worse, Celtic did absolutely nothing with the extra chance they were given at Champions League glory, losing to Slovenian side Maribor in their playoff earlier this week.

So, yeah, Legia Warsaw’s fans were none too pleased with UEFA. Luckily, they channeled their frustration into creativity and put together an amazing tifo. Ahead of Legia Warsaw’s Europa League playoff match against Aktobe, they busted out this:

The tifo meet all the requirements needed to send a message to UEFA: A gigantic, greedy pig holding a “6<1” sign with a caption of “Because football doesn’t matter, money does” with the backdrop of the UEFA logo?

Message received.

(h/t 101GG)

27
Aug

Cosmin Moti: The Champions League’s newest sensation

Merely an afterthought at the beginning of Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League shuffle, Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Steaua Bucuresti wound up turning into a true thriller.

The drama really kicked off when Ludogorets scored just before Spanish referee Alberto Undiano blew for full time, sending the contest into extra-time. With an apparent affinity for heightening drama toward the end of a period, Ludogorets then had their keeper, Vladisov Stoyanov, sent off with a red card.

Out of substitutions and with a penalty shootout looming, the team turned to central defender Cosmin Moti to save the day. And boy, did he:

Moti donned backup keeper Ivan Civorovic’s keeper shirt, but it may as well have been a cape. Not only did Moti step up to take his side’s first kick of the penalty shootout (with his goalie gloves on!), he drilled it past his counterpart.

Then, the new Champions League star went on to save not just one, but two Steaua penalties to seal the win. Moti’s heroics earned lowly Ludogorets their first-ever berth in the Champions League group stage.

Here’s to hoping Moti and his scrappy side keep the hits coming against some other big boys.

20
Aug

Man gets Man U tattoo because his name is already “Mr. Manchester United”

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Quite possibly the nuttiest football fan in the world, “Mr. Manchester United” — yes, that is his actual, legal name — now has United’s club badge tattooed on his forehead.

Our sources say that Mr. Manchester United got the tattoo out of fear nobody knew exactly just how big his love for Manchester United really was….

In all seriousness, the fan did offer an explanation for this to The Sun, and it is hilarious:

'The tattoo's my ID card,' he said. 'People don't look at me in a funny way, they look in admiration.' 'Now, whenever someone asks my name, I point to my forehead and smile. It makes me stand out and proves my loyalty to United,' he added.

Earlier this year, Zdravkov Levidzhov won a 15-year legal battle to change his name to Mr. Manchester United.

Mr. United drew inspiration for his name - and life - change after watching the Red Devils’ victory over Bayern Munich in the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final… on TV. (He wasn’t even there? Some fan!)

Oh, and his cat’s name is “David Beckham.” Of course it is.

(H/T and Image: The Sun)

16
Aug

Real Madrid full-kit pitch invader tries to blend in on corner kick

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This is Cristiano Ronaldo. He played and scored against Fiorentina in Real Madrid’s 2-1 friendly loss on Saturday. He was subbed off at halftime, but somehow ‘Cristiano Ronaldo’ magically appeared back on the pitch in the 75th minute.

Okay, clearly that is not the Cristiano Ronaldo. It is a fan who thought himself clever by wearing a full kit, invading the pitch and trying to blend in on a Fiorentina corner kick. It actually worked pretty well as no one seemed to know what was going on or what to do.

He was pretty much was given free rein to walk wherever he pleased.

Security? Anybody? No? Okay then. Well played, sir.

15
Aug

Jack Wilshere trolls birthday boy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to perfection

Arsenal youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrated his birthday on Friday, blowing out 21 candles (we assume) on his birthday cake.

Oxlade-Chamberlain’s teammate, Jack Wilshere, however, took the cake when it came to saying, “Happy birthday.”

Wilshere posted a photo on Instagram with the caption, “Happy birthday to my boy @alexoxchamberlain.” The only hook? Wilshere used a photo of fellow Gunner Kieran Gibbs.

This all goes back to a game last season in March, when Oxlade-Chamberlain handled a ball inside the area against Chelsea. The referee, Andre Marriner, rightly showed a red for the infringement, but accidentally sent off Gibbs instead of Oxlade-Chamberlain.

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Oops! Andre Marriner mistakenly sends off Kieran Gibbs during a Premier League match against Chelsea last season (Photo: Getty Images).

Kudos to Wilshere for pulling this little gem.

Curious, though, that he’d want to dig up a game where Arsenal were blown out to the tune of 6-0.

Oh, well. Happy birthday, Ox!

14
Aug

FA Cup history set to be made with 22-year-old manager

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(Image via BBC.com)

What were you doing when you were 22 years old? Perhaps you were finishing up college, or starting a new job, likely mixing in some partying. Highly unlikely you were coaching a soccer team in England’s FA Cup.

That’s exactly what Romsey Town manager James Phillips is set to do, believed to be making history in England’s storied tournament. Phillips is likely to become the youngest manager in FA Cup history when Romsey Town faces Fareham Town on Saturday. The Football Association confirmed to BBC Sport they were unaware of anyone younger.

The youngster’s story and rise starts out predictably enough. He played a lot of video games in his early days, namely “Championship Manager.”

"I was one of those sad people after school who was sat there for hours playing Championship Manager," he told BBC Sport. "I always used to try and take a really small club up through the leagues."

The game piqued Phillips’ interest in coaching, kick-starting his coaching career at age 16 with Lyndhurst Football Club.

Last season, Phillips took the position of assistant reserve-team manager at Romsey Town before taking over for management duo Carl Bennett and John McFarlane. Phillips continued to impress, and named the first-team manager in April.

His ambition doesn’t stop there, either. “My ultimate aim is to work in the professional game in some capacity, whether that be as a coach or a manager, in the future.”

From playing video games to living them, Phillips has it figured out.

"Now I’m doing it in real life. It’s a little bit different with a bit more pressure."

Making history is just a BIT more pressure? Way to keep it cool, kid.

(h/t BBC Sport)

14
Aug

Bundesliga lowers drawbridge to castle before German Super Cup showpiece

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DORTMUND, Germany —

A few weeks ago, the Bundesliga invited FOX Sports to a two-night stay in the heart of Germany ahead of the German Super Cup. Having already booked my vacation in Germany for August just days earlier, I “sacrificed” myself for the good of the team. “Fine, boss, I’ll extend my stay in the country of my birth for two extra weeks. You totally owe me.”

After a brisk 14-hour journey from Los Angeles to Dusseldorf, I was greeted by our soon-to-be partners from the Bundesliga at the Hyatt Regency, a fancy hotel right on the Rhine. A couple hours later, we crossed a bridge over the Rhine for a nice dinner with former Germany internationals Jens Lehmann and Christoph Metzelder. Both played for Borussia Dortmund for several years and won a championship together in 2002, and here they were chatting with us for several hours over life lessons, cuisine and football.

Naturally, Lehmann commanded most of the table’s attention. He discussed at length the performance of goalkeepers at the World Cup and what made Manuel Neuer “the only truly world-class goalie today.” “The very best keepers,” he said, “they act, instead of react.” Anyone who saw Neuer play in Brazil this summer will know what Lehmann meant by this.

When I asked him to rate Tim Howard’s performance, Lehmann lauded the United States No. 1 for his record night against Belgium, but also said he was poor against Germany, blaming him for the lone goal of the match. Howard parried the shot straight to Thomas Muller — who buried the rebound — than out and to the side, he remembered. Tough critic, that man. Unsurprisingly, he’s an analyst right now for German television

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Lehmann also gladly recounted tales of his days with Arsenal’s “The Invincibles.” He did not, mind you, care to discuss the night he received a straight red card against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Final in 2006 with me, his perfect record in penalty shootouts, or Jurgen Klinsmann’s decision to drop Oliver Kahn in favor of him just weeks before the 2006 World Cup. “[Kahn] did not talk to me for four or five days after that,” Lehmann admitted with a sheepish smile.

And the fun didn’t stop there.

On Wednesday, I had an opportunity to meet, Christian Seifert, the longtime CEO of the Bundesliga, for a thorough presentation on what has made the German game so successful since the new millennium.

Seifert, as you would expect of a man in his position, was a remarkable speaker, with his heavy, amusing German accent shining through at times. Next to him on either side were the Bundesliga trophy — the “ugly salad bowl — and the FIFA World Cup. The real deals, in all their glory.

There were three main components to Seifert’s presentation; the Bundesliga’s ascendancy on the pitch, the economic stability of its clubs, and the extraordinary fan support and passion. They all combine to make the league as strong as it is today, he said.

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Several statistics jumped out at that may surprise some folks who don’t follow the league too much. For one, the Bundesliga’s recorded profit of €264 million in the 2012-13 season almost tripled that of the Premier League, which spends more than twice as much money on player salaries. A reason for this is German clubs rely much more on younger and cheaper homegrown talent — all part of the common strategy the clubs share with the German national team.

With an average attendance of over 43,500 fans per match, the Bundesliga is also the second-most attended sports league in the world, only behind the National Football League. And with 3.16 goals per game, it’s tops among the big five soccer leagues in Europe. These last two figures, specifically, explain why Seifert is so optimistic over the continued growth of his brand.  With FOX Sports securing its rights starting next season, there’s mutual excitement and an eagerness to work together to bring the Bundesliga to the mainstream American media.

After Seifert (and the trophies) posed for pictures, we were on to our next appointment. There was no time to waste as we had only several hours before the Wednesday’s German Super Cup final.

First, we stopped off at the BVB “Fan Welt,” a new, giant fan shop outside the stadium that we were told is “like the Amazon.com for Borussia Dormtund fans.” You could literally get everything there in black and yellow, including your own, personal BVB lawnmower. Yep.

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We then stopped by the BVB youth academy a couple of miles away, where club legend Lars Ricken greeted us. Ricken, who famously scored in Dortmund’s 1997 Champions League victory over Juventus on his very first touch of the bench, gave us a tour of the facilities, which included the revolutionary “Footbonaut,” a robot used to test player’s reaction time and pass accuracy.

Ricken demonstrated the amazing training tool for us. The robot itself is a cage consisting of several dozen squares and ball machines on all sides. Much like a pitching machine, balls are spit out at random and the player has only a split second to gather the ball and hit it at the square that lights up, also completely at random.

Finally, we made our way back to Signal Iduna Park to watch the German Super Cup between Dortmund and Bayern. We know how the match went by now — the hosts won the preseason fixture for a second year running by completely overpowering a Bayern Munich side that was still noticeably lacking in conditioning and pretty much every other department on the day. The Yellow Wall did it’s job, too. Chants of “Zieht den Bayern die Lederhosen aus!” (translation: Strip Bayern of their lederhosen) rang through the night, as well as the orchestra of whistles that serenaded Mario Goetze when he was substituted on in the second half.

After the match, our whole group returned back to the bus, exhausted but mostly thankful for such an incredible experience and two days of fun-filled events in the hotbed of German soccer.

Images provided by Thomas Hautmann / FOXSports.com

12
Aug

Landon Donovan is the latest athlete to have a “Short Memory”

It was a tough summer for Landon Donovan. The United States legend was left off of the World Cup roster in what would turn out to be his last chance to play in the world’s biggest tournament.

Some might say it was a summer to forget for the LA Galaxy star. Well, for Foot Locker’s latest edition of athletes with short memories, it literally was just that.

Donovan joins Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen on the list of greats that that have simply “forgotten” the worst moments of their careers. 

"I’m the captain!" Apparently it’s not just short memory that’s afflicting Donovan, but "revised" memory as well.

8
Aug

Wes Brown still saves his cereal box coupons for Legoland tickets

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Even professional soccer players like to save a buck or two.

Sunderland’s Wes Brown earns over $2 million a year, but that hasn’t stopped him and his wife Leanne from collecting coupons off the back of cereal boxes in order to get a discount at Legoland.

While on vacation before the start of the new Premier League season, the spouse of the Black Cats defender revealed their money-saving ways on Twitter a couple days ago:

There’s no punch line here. We would’ve done the same thing.

H/T Daily Mail
Photo courtesy of Getty Images / FOX Sports Illustration