World Cup - Group Stage Draw
World Cup - Group Stage Draw
This week, U.S. national team record goalscorer Landon Donovan joins Fox Soccer’s UEFA Champions League broadcast as an analyst on FOX Sports 1. But first, he answers a few questions about his foray into television.
FOX Soccer: What draws you to TV commentary?
Landon Donovan: “I’ve always had an outside interest. I’ve watched from afar and always thought it was something that would be enjoyable. As most of us are, I can be pretty opinionated and sometimes I see things on TV and I go, ‘Oh, I wish they would have mentioned that’ or I think ‘The viewer would have wanted to see that.’ While I understand it’s probably not easy, it’s always something that I’ve had an interest in so when this opportunity came up it was something I wanted to do.”
FOX Soccer: You’ve been talking about wanting to do television commentary for a year or so, maybe even longer. You’ve been saying you want to better educate the public. What do you think you can add to the conversation?
LD: “I think we’re at a point now where people watching our game are thirsty for more intimate knowledge and that’s why guys like Warren [Barton] and Eric Wynalda, [Brian] McBride, you see Kasey Keller and Taylor Twellman and [Kyle] Martino, all these guys can add an insight that a lot of the commentators couldn’t in previous years. I think that people understand the game better now, people are more connected to the game than they ever have been in our country. There’s still a lot of insight and a lot of intimate details of the game that people I think would really enjoy hearing our thoughts about.
FOX Soccer: With all respect to the guys you’ve mentioned, you’ve seen and done more than any American soccer player ever. Do you think that adds a dimension for the viewer?
LD: “I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of different experiences, played in all sorts of different competitions and against many high-class players so I’ve been able to see the game in many different ways, in many different scenarios. I think I have a pretty good understanding of what happens and why it happens and why certain teams play certain ways and all those finite details. I look forward to sharing that with people.
FOX Soccer: Why the UEFA Champions League?
LD: “The timing was good. FOX was very proactive about having me. I’ve made it clear to my agent and a lot of different people that this is something that I’m interested in and FOX really took the initiative to give me an opportunity. If you’re going to do a broadcast it doesn’t get much better than the Champions League and I’ve been really looking forward to it.
Landon Donovan hopes to add some “forward thinking” to this week’s coverage (Image: Thomas Hautmann/FOX Sports)
(Image courtesy: Franck Fife/AFP)
Poor Sacha Kljestan.
Despite his team, Anderlecht, securing a surprising 1-1 draw against PSG on Thursday, it appears the American international still wound up taking one on the chin. Or in this case, the upper lip.
On-pitch trash talk is nothing new, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic bagging on Kljestan for his mustache is too good to pass up.
Ibra, — likely frustrated by his inability score four goals again — took out his aggravation on Kljestan.
Per Het Nieuwsblad, Kljestan claims Zlatan “told me I have an ugly mustache.” Now, not one to lay down, Kljestan offered this retort: “I told him he has a long nose!”
What witticism from both parties! No telling if either side stuck their tongue out or thumbed their nose. At least the mustachioed Kljestan kept it above the belt, unlike Joey Barton:
And there you have it. It can always get more immature.
Manchester City achieved club history on Tuesday night by reaching their first-ever knockout stage in the Champions League, blowing out CSKA Moscow 5-2. Alvaro Negredo netted a hat trick after two goals by Sergio Aguero had put City comfortably ahead. Not even the two goals conceded by Costel Pantilimon — in place of the benched Joe Hart — could spoil the party.
After two consecutive painful group stage exits, the relief amongst the City players and fans was noticeable on social media:
We have book our place in the knockout round of the champions league for the very first time tonight. It feels so good !!! 😍😍😍👏👏👏👏— yaya toure (@Toure_yaya42)
Very proud of the team and the qualification. And thanks to all the people of @MCFC for their support, they deserve this and much more!— Sergio Aguero (@aguerosergiokun)
City wouldn’t have made history had they not received a little help from their Group D rivals Bayern Munich. Bayern still had to take care of business at Viktoria Plzen. Not surprisingly, they did just that, winning 1-0 on a Mario Mandzukic header in the second half:
Not only did Bayern secure a Round of 16 spot themselves, it was also their ninth straight victory in the Champions League, which ties the all-time record set by Barcelona in the 2002-03 season.
Bayern manager Pep Guardiola, said afterwards: “I’m very happy over this new record. I hope we can extend it in Moscow.” Indeed, they would set the all-time mark with a tenth straight win.
— FC Bayern München (@FCBayern)
Bayern Munich beat Viktoria Plzen 5-0 on Wednesday in the Champions League, but that scoreline doesn’t even begin to describe how dominant the reigning champions were. According to UEFA’s official match report, Bayern incredibly out-shot Plzen 35:0. Twenty-two of Bayern’s attempts were on target.
No, really. This is a fact:
To be fair, stat services WhoScored.com and Opta both had it at 35:1 shots, crediting Plzen with one blocked attempt. But either way, this marks the biggest-ever shot discrepancy since such data was recorded:
34 - Bayern hatte gegen Pilsen 35-1 Torschüsse, eine solche Differenz gab es in der CL in 90 Minuten noch nie seit Datenerfassung. Übermacht— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz)
Translation: “Bayern had 35-1 shots on goal against Plzen, such a difference has never existed in the [Champions League] in 90 minutes since data collection. Superiority.”
Want more fun Bayern facts?
Bayern have held an average possession advantage of 71% so far in the Champions League, the highest of any team. Their 76 shot attempts are also the most of any team, while they’ve conceded only five shots on target thus far, another top mark. And Wednesday’s win was Bayern’s eighth straight Champions League victory, a new club record.
In short, we’re thinking Bayern are still the team to beat in Europe.
Image courtesy of Getty
If it seems like we’ve been tossing out one Zlatan Ibrahimovic story after another, it’s because we have. It’s not our fault, though. When Zlatan does incredible Zlatan things, we must obey.
On Wednesday, the PSG striker scored not one, not two, not three… but FOUR goals in a Champions League affair against RSC Anderlecht, making him just the tenth player to accomplish that feat in the Champions League era.
Zlatan hit his first three goals in a span of just 19 minutes in the first half, the eighth-quickest hat trick in competition history. None were more Zlatan-esque than the third, a stupendous half-volley from distance that practically broke the sound barrier. We clocked the strike at approximately 72.6 mph, though you could’ve told us it was 150 mph and we would’ve believed it. After that golazo, Anderlecht’s fans stood to applaud Ibrahimovic, knowing full well they wouldn’t get a better reason to do any cheering. Of course, Zlatan applauded right back at them.
In the second half, Zlatan graciously allowed Edinson Cavani to get his name on the score sheet before rounding out his four-pack in the 62nd minute. Sadly, Ibra couldn’t nab a fifth goal, which would have made him only the second player after Lionel Messi to score five in one Champions League match.
Perhaps next time. We can’t wait.
Image courtesy of Reuters
How’s this for a wager?
In the 87th minute of Wales’ World Cup qualifier against Belgium, 16-year-old Harry Wilson entered the match to became his country’s youngest-ever senior player. As great of a moment as it was for Wilson, it was perhaps even better for his grandfather, who fifteen years ago wagered £50 that Harry would suit up for Wales’ senior team one day:
Great moment for me personally tonight, would like to thank everyone for the support and all the kind messages!🙏— harry wilson (@harrywilson_)
Wilson’s grandfather, Peter Edwards, was given 2,500/1 odds by a bookmaker in 2000 for the bet, when Wilson was just 18 months old. He’s now £125,000 richer, and, at age 62, is set to retire a year earlier than he planned.
Edwards told the BBC:
"I was shattered because I had to wait for 85, 86 minutes before he came on and I was panicking because they’d already substituted twice, so I thought he wasn’t going to make it.
But when he came on I had another glass of wine. (I was) a proud granddad first for sure.”
If Wilson doesn’t receive the best Christmas present of his life from his grandpa this year, something is seriously wrong.
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.
Hegeler belts beautiful free kick
Mitroglou stripes sensational shot to notch hat trick
Bulut tucks in late goal in thriller
My, what an eventful day in the Champions League. Plenty of goals to go around, but we’ve picked out what we believe are the best three. Which goal is the best of the best, though? That’s for you to decide.
Is it Jens Hegeler’s wonderfully stroked free-kick curler to give Bayer Leverkusen all three points in the closing seconds against Real Sociedad?
Perhaps it’s Olympiakos forward Kostas Mitroglou long-range bullet to seal his hat trick, and the win, against Anderlecht?
Or does Umut Bulut’s equalizer for Galatasaray vs. Juventus to claw out a draw steal the show?
Choose for yourselves!