jeudi 19 mai 2011
samedi 14 mai 2011
vendredi 6 mai 2011
mardi 3 mai 2011
vendredi 29 avril 2011
jeudi 28 avril 2011
mardi 26 avril 2011
- Lille have lead Ligue 1 since January, but doubts persist about their championship credentials.
- Lille are still top, but Marseille have just two points fewer and a game in hand.
- Lille remain the most fluent team in Ligue 1, but have won none of their last three league matches.
- Lille can call on the league's most talented attacking player, Eden Hazard, but he's only scored six goals all season.
- Lille also boast France's best defender, Adil Rami, but his form has been patchy since he injured his shoulder on international duty against Croatia.
- Lille's Mickael Landreau and Florent Balmont have both won Ligue 1 (with Nantes and Lyon respectively), but the club itself hasn't won a French title since 1954.
- Lille's remaining fixture list is fairly sympathetic, but does include home and away matches against fourth-placed PSG.
- Lille expect to build on this season whatever its outcome, but will have to do so without Rami who has already signed for Valencia.
- Lille may hold on to their other star performers (Hazard, Moussa Sow and Gervinho), but are equally likely to lose one or two of that trio this summer.
A: Enduring but(t)s.
jeudi 14 avril 2011
lundi 11 avril 2011
mardi 29 mars 2011
jeudi 24 mars 2011
vendredi 18 mars 2011
lundi 14 mars 2011
jeudi 10 mars 2011
mardi 8 mars 2011
mardi 1 mars 2011
jeudi 24 février 2011
The incident that evoked it may be old news, but I'm still distracted by Graeme Souness' comment to the effect that if Joe Jordan and Reno Gattuso were locked in a room together, one of the pair - Gattuso - would leave on a stretcher. I think Souness is onto something. That said, I'd suggest that he's underestimated the potential popularity of such a spectacle. Why stop at a single bout? I propose a series of fights, featuring various niche divisions, to be held in summers without a World Cup or European Championship to entertain us. Divisions might include Dreadlocked Dutch Middleweights, Welterweight Full-backs Called Paul and Lightweight New Maradonas. Since the eureka moment belonged to Souness, he should officiate, resplendent in a black and white striped shirt (rather like fellow Scot John Anderson on Gladiators).
The event would be invitational, so who should receive the call? Well, Jordan and Gattuso are in, and presumably Steven Gerrard would fancy a crack at the 'pussycat' Gattuso. These three are - to greater and lesser degrees - Genuine Football Hardmen (a catch weight division and the most prestigious) and there are numerous players past and present to whom that tag is so persistently attached that they, of course, would merit an invitation: Patrick Vieira, Roy Keane, Diego Simeone, Big Dunc Ferguson, Andoni Goekoetxea... and all those guys from the seventies with nicknames that sound like the titles of slasher movies.
In the spirit of WWF/WWE, the gory stuff would be interspersed with some light relief in the shape of, say, a G. on P. Neville carve-up. Or perhaps a clash of the preening Frenchmen: David Ginola and Laurent Robert circling, each imploring the other, "Pas le visage!" Better still, picture Karen Brady pummelling Richard Keys with a very postmodern rolling pin.
The world of sport is changing. Cricket, rugby and even snooker are experimenting with sexy new formats. If football refuses to adapt, it could well go the way of skittles and Penny Farthing time trials. We can no longer afford to ignore the oracle that is Graeme Souness.
mardi 8 février 2011
This story is of a match won. A galaxy of stars on display for both host and visitor. Initial indications of an away victory. A wing-back had flown from Catalunya with a will to attack. Sagna and Rami anxious.
But Blanc's boys found a foothold. Gourcuff and Madrid's pup linking sharply, visitor Pato continuing to show his abundant gifts. Caught by this spirit too was Lucas. That said, Lloris was not in action, which might account for his poor kicking.
Frankly, though its samba-cancan rhythm was brisk, this show had no punch. A high foot just prior to halfway through did it. A gold shirt back on its hook, navy shirts off it. And soon, logically, a goal! Unhappy in Spain's capital, Karim was back on form last night, scoring thanks to first-class work from a Roman forward.
On a pitch by now awful, Hulk out to no avail. Sons of Gaul dominant until Mr. Stark's final blow. Auxiliary points? David Luiz was solid, as was Roma's Phil.
vendredi 21 janvier 2011
mardi 18 janvier 2011
Despite its youth and a relatively meagre haul of silverware, Paris Saint-Germain FC is regarded as one of the great institutions of European football. The capital's other club, the imaginatively named Paris Football Club, was established in 1969 - a year before PSG - but was quickly eclipsed by its precocious sibling. While PSG has grown into a slick, commercial enterprise, Paris FC has roundly failed to fulfill the ambition of its founders.
In the two decades after 1945, Paris became something of a football hotbed: Red Star, Olympique de Paris, Racing Club de Paris, CASG and Stade Français all competed among France's elite. Ultimately, such abundance proved unsustainable as playing talent and public enthusiasm (and thus revenues) were diluted to the extent that by the end of the sixties, no Parisian team remained in the top flight. In a bid to rectify the situation, a dynamic group of industrialists and administrators conceived Paris Football Club. Their aim was to publicise the benefits of physical exercise and provide a boon to civic pride by uniting the city's erstwhile football enthusiasts under a single, dominant banner.
At the same time, negotiations were underway to merge Racing Club with the smaller Stade Saint-Germain. Crucially, the plan was backed by the mayor's office, which also volunteered a loan to the fledgling, which was christened Paris Saint-Germain. PSG would be based in the suburbs: the authorities were less enthusiastic about Paris FC's intention to reside at the Stade Charléty, just a stone's throw from the celebrated Rive Gauche.
So began the difficult relationship between PSG and Paris FC. Like so many sibling rivalries, it was rooted in the accusation of favouritism. PSG had been cast as favourite, consigning Paris FC to the role of the black sheep. Regrettably, as the clubs' respective fortunes have diverged, enmity has given way to indifference.
While PSG today lie second in Ligue 1, Paris FC are hidden in the depths of France's third division, National. Coach Jean-Marc Pilorget cites promotion to Ligue 2 within the next three years as his objective. Modest this may be, but the potential development of Paris FC seems decidedly limited given that attendance to matches throughout France has fallen dramatically in recent seasons - nowhere moreso than at the Parc des Princes, home of PSG.
Still, for romantics, there is an innocence inherent in Paris FC's perennial struggle to escape anonymity. It's surely appropriate that a football club located so close to Paris's literary heart embodies the darker aspects of the human condition, besides the fleeting joy of triumph. In the course of a season, fans of Paris FC can expect to experience joy, anger, disappointment and ennui in equal measure. I'll wager that Sartre would have found more of merit in that than in the happier tale of PSG.