The Tournament of Legends

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Best of British: Liverpool's Worthy Record

Defeated by AC Milan in Athens in May, 2007, Liverpool still have an impressive record in the European Cup/Champions League competition with five victories - the best in British football

The game in Athens against AC Milan was their seventh final, by far the best record of any British team. They have won five of those finals, again the best record in English football and a record across Europe bettered only by their successful opponents this season and Real Madrid. AC Milan have now won the trophy on seven occasions from eleven finals while Real have been victorious on nine occasions from twelve finals.




Liverpool became a power in English football under their legendary manager Bill Shankly but surprisingly they failed to lift the European Cup during his time in charge. It was his successor, Bob Paisley who brought the first European Cup triumph to Anfield.

1977: Liverpool 3 Borussia Monchengladbach 1
in Rome

Goals from Terry McDermott, Tommy Smith and a late Phil Neal penalty secured victory over the Germans.

1978: Liverpool 1 Club Brugge 0
at Wembley

In a very close final, a Kenny Dalglish goal enabled Liverpool to become the first British club to retain the European Cup.

1981: Liverpool 1 Real Madrid 0
in Paris

A goal by defender Alan Kennedy brought Liverpool’s third success over past European Cup masters Real Madrid who had already won the trophy an impressive six times. Bob Paisley became the first manager to win the trophy on three occasions.

1984: Liverpool 1 Roma 1
in Rome

Now with Joe Fagin as manager, Phil Neal had given Liverpool an early lead but following Roma equalising, the game went to extra time and then penalties and Liverpool’s first major penalty shoot-out triumph. The shoot-out will be remembered for Liverpool goalkeeper, Bruce Grobbelaar’s wobby legs as he waited for the penalty kicks to be taken against him. Liverpool’s fourth European Cup success.

1985: Liverpool 0 Juventus 1
in Brussels

A game not remembered for the football but for the terrible scenes and disaster that occurred in the Heysel Stadium and led to the death of 39 fans. Liverpool were unable to repeat their feat of 1978 and retain the trophy but that was of no significance when set beside the loss of life. Following this tragedy, English clubs were banned from Europe for a number of years.

2005: Liverpool 3 AC Milan 3
in Istanbul

Changes to the European competitions now allowed Liverpool entry to the Champions League even though they hadn’t won the Premiership. Finding themselves three goals down at the interval, Rafa Benitez inspired a tremendous second half comeback led by Steven Gerrard. Liverpool scored three goals in seven minutes early in the second half. Gerrard scored the first, two minutes later Vladimir Smicer scored and then Gerrard won the penalty from which Xabi Alonso scored. Into extra time and penalties, Liverpool were always in the ascendance and won as goalkeeper Jerez Dudek became the instant hero by saving Andrily Shevchenko’s penalty.

2007: Liverpool 1 AC Milan 2
in Athens

AC Milan avenged the defeat of two years earlier. Having controlled the first half, Liverpool went behind when Milan scored from a free kick that was deflected into the goal off Inzaghi. In the second half Liverpool never showed the same assurance or belief and went two behind with only six minutes remaining when Inzaghi finished from a lovely through ball from Kaka. Dirk Kuyt’s goal was only a late consolation.

Liverpool’s record in the top European competition is way beyond anything achieved by any English club. Even Manchester United with all their history and worldwide acclaim have only won the trophy three times. First in 1968 under Matt Busby against Benfica and then thirty one years later, when Alex Ferguson’s team caused an unexpected turn around by scoring twice in the final moments to deny Bayern Munich, while they finally added to the tally this year.

While Liverpool may have failed to add to their honours in Athens in 2007, the club’s record as the best British team in the European Cup/Champions League competition is worthy of acclaim and one that will not be easily taken away from them.


Friday, August 15, 2008

How to Choose the Soccer Position that's Right for YOU!

Advice from the how2playsoccer.com website:


I can remember when I first started playing soccer when I was very young, everyone wanted to be a striker because they wanted to score all the goals and getall the glory. And it's probably still true today that young kids first starting to play the game will mostly want to have the ball for themselves and take all the shots. That's only natural and it's why you see people just chasing the ball around the pitch without creating any space for themselves. But just because everyone wants to be a striker, it doesn't mean everyone should be one.

No! Everyone has different strengths in life and this is no different in soccer. So if you're wondering what position is right for you then don't just go with the popular vote and be a striker, think about which position will fit your talents. If this is indeed striker then by all means play up front- it is after all a great position, but if the position that suits you is not a striker, then don't be afraid to choose it.

Of course you might now be thinking, 'how do I know which position my abilities are suitable for?' and 'can't I just play where I want and like to play?'. And to this I say that yes, you should always only play where you enjoy playing- if you don't enjoy sport what's the point in playing right? But you do also need the appropriate abilities to go with any given position and to find out if you have these, you need to know what attributes are needed for each and every one of the soccer positions.

So by now you'll have realised that choosing your soccer position comes down to three fundamental things: which position you think you'll like to play in, which skills are needed for that position and whether you have or could develop those skills to play in that position.

If you want to be a goalkeeper for example, you will need to be brave, agile and have good reflexes. You'll also need to develop presence and confidence as you go along and practice the specific techniques like shot stopping, handling and taking crosses. You'll need to be able to use instinct, have a good sense of position,read the game, communicate well and have good judgement. One thing about being a goalkeeper though is that you get long periods where you don't have to do anything. And keep it in mind that the majority of the action is simply coming out and collecting the ball! Sometimes, however, you will get the chance to make a fine save and this is when the real thrills of the position come out. If throwing yourself in front of a hard hit shot sounds like fun to you then this could be the position you were made for!

With a defender, the ability to tackle and head are very important. A good sense of position is also important and communication is essential. You've also got to be quick and strong as well as to be able to do the simple things like make good short passes. Defender can be a very hard position to play in and is only for a certain type of person who can pull it off. You don't get to score many goals or even set them up so its probably the position with the least amount of glory involved, but if it's right for you then it's right for you: simple as that!

Midfielders need to have good passing and crossing abilities at their disposal, and equally significant is the talent and vision to be able to seek out the people to pass it to. Tackling and positioning can be very important for a defensive midfielder, whilst for an attacking midifelder it is a useful quality to be able to hit accurate long shots at goal... plus speed is crucial for getting up to support the forwards.

Strikers need to good movement, dribbling ability, shooting ability and heading ability as well as the natural instinct to get themselves in the box at the right time. The most succesful strikers can make good runs and get onto the end of balls they're not expected to make, whilst also being able to weave some magic like a skillfull or powerful goal.

I hope by giving you a brief insight into the requirements of each position you can see what qualities you'll need to play there. The aim is that this leads you on to see whether you have or want to develop these qualities in order to play in the position that automatically appeals to you. And if no single position attracts you, just keep watching lots of soccer to try and make a decision. Or even better, try them all out by playing yourself and see what suits you best. Once you've found a position you love you might find yoursef at home there and want to play there forever!

So this article should have given you at least a little assistance if you were unsure which position to play in and if not, then my advice is just to keep watching and playing soccer until it becomes obvious to you.

And if you need any help or furthe reading then I might refer you to http://www.how2playsoccer.com/soccerpositions.html



About the Author

Website helping soccer beginners to get into the game by increasing their knowledge and understanding of everything in the game and then improving their skills. The information covers soccer positions, soccer formations, soccer rules and much more!

Lionel Messi: Saviour of Barca

One of the brightest stars FC Barcelona, a team with no shortage of world-class talent, is a young Argentinean player who has played with Barcelona's youth team since his early teens.

Aged 11, his diagnosis with growth hormone deficiency in Argentina coincided with the collapse of the Argentinean economy and neither the Messi family nor Club Atlético River Plate, which had expressed an interest in the player, could afford the treatment.

The saviour of Lionel - or Leo, as he his commonly called - came when Barcelona's sporting director saw him play for his local club, Newell's Old Boys. Carles Rexach put an offer on the table that his parents were simply unable to refuse - to pay his medical bills in exchange for his family was willing to move to Spain and play in the FC Barcelona youth team, an offer that must have seemed like divine intervention at the time. His performance soon saw him making regular appearances in the Barcelona B team and in 30 matches he scored 37 goals.

Leo Messi made his first appearance in the first team against local rivals RCD Espanyol in October 2004, while May 2005 saw his first goal for the main FC Barcelona team. His appearances in the first team remained sporadic, with Frank Rijkaard seemingly easing him into the first team, but he remained a popular player with the club's supporters and frequently displayed footballing magic on a par with Ronaldinho.

His appearances became more regular throughout the 2005-2006 season, but he received a setback in March after injuring his thigh in a Champions League match against Chelsea. Barcelona went on to win both the League and Champions League titles, with Messi playing no small part in the success of the team.

Finally at the beginning of the 2006-2007 season Messi was awarded his first team number. Until this point he had worn the number 30 shirt signifying his status as B team, but he was now promoted to 19. However he received another setback in November when he was once again laid off through injury - this time a broken metatarsal prevented him playing for three months.

His recovery saw his return in February, in time to play Real Madrid in the Classic. The match, played in March, saw a game fought hard on both sides and FC Barcelona were able to score a 3-3 equalizer in the last minute. Incredibly Leo Messi was responsible for all Barcelona's goals! If he can keep injury free then the future for Lionel Messi remains bright. He constantly demonstrates a resolve to put the ball in the back of the net and his footballing skills, while perhaps not as flashy as Ronaldinho, show equal genius. While internationally he plays with Argentina he seems home in Barcelona and we can only hope that the club is able to prevent him from being lured away by some bigger, better offer. Only time will tell.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Serious about American Sports? Visit SportsGist

If you're an American, serious about your sport and are looking for a site that can live up to your passion, then Sportsgist could be the place for you. This site offers a wide range of facilities for the American sports devotee, or even those who are involved in college recruiting.


SportsGist is for all the best high school sports live

The sheer volume of information and resources available make this site the one stop destination for American sport lovers. Featuring the best in regularly update sports blogs, the most up to date latest news,  user groups devoted to the sports that you love, a wealth of stats for all levels of sport from high school boys and girls through to the major leagues, forums for debate and discussion about your most loved (and most hated) teams, as well as a classifieds section, not forgetting the option of watching all those future stars in the college recruiting video area. 

If you're truly passionate about American sports, you can become a member which allows you to truly make the most of the SportsGist networking experience by allowing you to upload your own videos of your future sports stars as well as making your online sports scrapbook, as well as allowing those involved in college recruiting to get that all important head start in finding the stars of tomorrow. Make SportsGist your next stop.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Beijing Olympics Women's Football - Can USA Finally Win It?

Expert commentary provided by Ross Howard

Women's football has progressed in leaps and bounds, and there can be no further proof of that than in the Beijing Olympics when watching the live Olympics football. There will be a total of 12 international teams taking part in this edition of the football tournament, and gone are the days when women's football will see huge scorelines in the favor of the more established nations. There is now a close resemblance to the men's game in results, as well as the tactical and technical abilities of the women footballers.

The 2008 edition of the women's Olympic football tournament has a number of excellent teams taking part. The usual suspects of Germany, Brazil, Norway and Asian champions North Korea will all be in the mix and shooting for a medal finish. There is also the very popular USA women's football team, who are in a unique position. They are actually on a better standing in the sport compared to their male counterparts, and have won both the Women's World Cup many times, as well as countless international tournament. It is with this pedigree that expectations are often high of the USA women's football team. But the talent pool is also large, with the sport enjoying immense popularity on various levels from the grassroots up.

The questions are therefore unavoidable. Will the USA women's football team win the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics? They certainly have the players to achieve that, although some key players have suffered unfortunate injuries before the start of the tournament. But with other quality players like Hope Solo still available for selection and fit to play, the strength in depth of the USA team is there for all to see. They have also often competed against their strong rivals like Germany and Brazil, and come out on top at the end of it all.

Perhaps the only point that the USA team might need to take note of that might jeopardize their medal hopes, would be their need to avoid complacency within their ranks. They have been grouped in a relatively easy pool of teams in the initial stage, with the likes of Norway, Japan and New Zealand making up the rest of the competition. On paper, the USA women's football team should overcome these teams easily. Yet, with the leveling up of many teams over the years, the USA will have to be at their best to avoid upset results against their group rivals.

As long as the USA women's soccer team can get off to a good start in the tournament, they should have little trouble qualifying from the group stage. The tough competition will come in the knockout stages, where they might have to face difficult teams like Germany and Brazil. With those matches enjoying a nature not unlike Russian Roulette, it will be the luck of the draw for most teams. But if they are able to safely negotiate the group stage, their medal hopes will be increased dramatically, and the USA women's soccer team will have as good a chance to win the gold medal as Germany and Brazil would have.



About the Author

Ross Howard provides commentary on live streaming football telecasts and will be looking forward to live Olympics football when the men and women's competitions begin.

Friday, August 8, 2008

New English Premiership Season

Well, with the new premiership season on the horizon who is going to come out on top. After the amazing climax to last season with the champions and relegation issues resolved on the final day, can we be so lucky as have the same again.

Mr Scolari will be settling into his new post at the Bridge while the longest serving manager will be the obstacle he will have to overcome. What about the rest? Arsenal, too much in house fighting? Or can the players detach themselves from that? Cup team Liverpool, can they really put up a challenge this year? Who knows?

Outside that top four you have the nearly men, who would love to win the championship, but in reality would settle for a top four place and a spot in the champions league. Everton, Villa, Spurs and perhaps Portsmouth seem to be the main contenders, but can one of them really knock down that door and get in?

After that, the teams who will finish up mid table, their only highlight being when the manage to take a few points off the big four and another false dawn appears until the following week when a team from the relegation zone brings them back to earth.

And finally too the relegation zone. The three teams promoted from last year will be favourites to go straight back down. West Brom are probably best equipped to prove me wrong having been over the course before. If they did avoid the drop that leaves a spot for one of last years survivors, Bolton, Sunderland, Wigan and Fulham are waiting in the wings to fill the vacant spot. Fulham are in the best position to be well away from the relegation area if they can continue from where they left off at the end of last season.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

- The Aragones Era Begins: Fenerbahce 2-0 MTK Budapest

Luis Aragones' era as Fenerbahce coach begins with this second round first leg victory over the Hungarians.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The team that Brian built

Richard Williams on Brian Clough

It would have been nicer, perhaps, if Brian Clough had died with Nottingham Forest's record of 42 consecutive league matches unbeaten still intact. But at least when Arsenal finally surpassed it just under four weeks ago the old magician's name returned to the sports pages for the right reasons.

Bungs or no bungs, what Cloughie did for Forest was nothing short of a miracle. He took an old and proud but stagnant club and, with the minimum of resources, lifted it to the pinnacle of European football for two years running. While a statue inside the City Ground and his name on a grandstand are the visible signs of his 18 years there, his enduring place in the hearts of supporters ensures that all his successors will be measured by his achievements.

Yet the news of Clough's appointment in 1975 was not met with unanimous delight. To many he was the loud-mouthed upstart who, while rescuing the hated rivals Derby County from near oblivion, had stolen the heart of Johnny Carey's fine Forest side of the late 60s. Terry Hennessey and Alan Hinton were among those who swapped the red shirts for the white as Clough drove Derby to promotion from the Second Division and then to the League Championship.

Worst of all, during the 1971-72 season Clough staged a raid aimed at enticing Ian Storey-Moore, Forest's dashing left-winger and leading goalscorer, to the Baseball Ground. He paraded Storey-Moore at half-time during one of Derby's home games. But the contracts had not been signed, and such was the uproar at the other end of the A52 that Forest's directors were forced to withdraw and sell the prized player to Manchester United instead.

It took months and the arrival of Peter Taylor, his old Derby assistant, for Clough to win the wholehearted support of the City Ground. Now players began to flow the other way, although the early arrivals of John McGovern and John O'Hare from Derby via Leeds, followed by Archie Gemmill direct from the Baseball Ground, were greeted with initial suspicion.

It gradually became apparent that Clough was building a team of substance. Peter Shilton moved from Stoke to fill the goalmouth. At right-back the gangling Viv Anderson left the nearby Fairham Comprehensive to start a career that would make him England's first black player. Larry Lloyd, discarded by Liverpool then Coventry, formed a solid partnership in central defence with Kenny Burns, who was transformed from Birmingham's thuggish centre-forward into a sort of Franz Beckenbauer of the East Midlands. The veteran Frank Clark completed the rearguard, replacing the promising but ill-fated Colin Barrett, plucked respectively from Newcastle and Manchester City.

With McGovern as the water-carrier, the midfield creativity was supplied by the bustling Gemmill, the thoughtful Martin O'Neill and the Scottish left-winger John Robertson - who, along with Burns, was the finest example of Clough's ability to persuade a talent to express itself. The "little fat lad" who beat players through guile and wit would play a crucial role in both Forest's European Cup wins.



Up front were the sparkling Tony Woodcock and the powerful Peter Withe, the latter replaced by the unknown Garry Birtles one unforgettable European night against Liverpool. Later came Trevor Francis, whose fee fell a few coppers short of £1m because that was how Cloughie wanted it and who got on the end of Robertson's cross to win the first European final.

As Clough's eye for a deal began to take precedence over his eye for talent, the failures of Ian Wallace, Justin Fashanu, Peter Ward and others began to chip away at the facade. But the fans continued to enjoy teams packed with players as gifted as Des Walker, Johnny Metgod, Peter Davenport, Stuart Pearce, Franz Carr, Hans van Breukelen, Roy Keane, Chris Fairclough, Steve Hodge and Clough's son, Nigel.

Many of those will be queuing up today to express their gratitude for his influence. Perhaps they will be joined by the two young fans whose ears he boxed when they tried to invade the pitch during a League Cup match at the City Ground one night 15 years ago, earning himself a fine and touchline ban merely for treating them as if they were his own sons.

In the end he stayed too long and had to be eased out. But no manager has left a newly relegated club more wreathed in admiration and gratitude, and few will cast a longer shadow.


Friday, August 1, 2008

1968: Manchester United FC 4-1 SL Benfica


British rule extended into a second season in 1967/68, as Manchester United FC marked the tenth anniversary of the Munich air tragedy by lifting the European Champion Clubs' Cup against SL Benfica in London. United had picked up the gauntlet after holders Celtic FC lost to FC Dynamo Kyiv in the first round. They beat Hibernians FC, FK Sarajevo, KS Górnik Zabrze and Real Madrid CF on the road to Wembley, surviving a number of scares along the way.

Matt Busby's side failed to win a single away game, a statistic that almost cost them dear in the semi-finals. Three-one down in the return leg in Madrid, United were facing a fourth defeat at this stage of the competition until late strikes by David Sadler and Bill Foulkes carried them through, 4-3 on aggregate.



Benfica, meanwhile, had been the first team to win a tie on the new away goals' rule. This helped them past Glentoran FC in the first round, before further wins against AS Saint-Etienne, Vasas SC and Juventus FC, 3-0 on aggregate in the semi-finals. However, Portuguese luck ran out in the final at Wembley, just as it had two years earlier in Portugal¹s FIFA World Cup semi-final against England. Alex Stepney's late save from Eusébio sent the match into extra time after Jaime Graça had cancelled out Bobby Charlton's 54th-minute opener. And when Munich survivor Charlton struck for a second time, the result was beyond doubt, goals from George Best and Brian Kidd merely icing United's cake.