Pitchside

  • Ronaldinho missed a penalty on his debut for Mexican side Queretaro who lost 1-0 at home to UANL on Wednesday, frustrating a packed crowd who had turned out to watch the 34-year-old Brazilian.

    The former World Player of the Year, clearly short of match fitness, fired his effort over the bar in the 61st minute, having surprisingly been kept on for the second half despite looking tired.

    A full house turned out to watch the game in the Mexican Cup, known locally as the Copa MX, which features teams from the top two divisions.

    Ronaldinho, a World Cup winner in 2002, signed for the White Roosters

    Read More »from Ronaldinho misses penalty on Mexican debut
  • Arsene Wenger (Reuters)Arsene Wenger (Reuters)

    Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger recently stated that he is still on the lookout for the a midfielder in the ilk of Patrick Vieira or Emmanuel Petit after the two Frenchmen previously dominated sides in the Premier League.

    Wenger saw the French pairing become a huge success in England and were the core of a hugely successful side, with Vieira continuing for longer at Arsenal and captaining them to their record-breaking invincible season in 2003/04 when they won their last Premier League title.

    Furthermore, against Borussia Dortmund, it could be argued that holding midfielder, Mikel Arteta left

    Read More »from The 'new Vieira' Arsenal should sign (and two they should pass on)
  • Athletic Bilbao's Iker Muniain celebrates a goal (Reuters)Athletic Bilbao's Iker Muniain celebrates a goal (Reuters)---

    “Athletic Bilbao is more than a football club, it is a feeling – and as such its ways of operating often escape rational analysis. We see ourselves as unique in world football and that defines our identity. We do not say that we are better or worse, merely different. We only wish for the sons of our soil to represent our club, and in so wishing we stand out as a sporting entity, not a business concept. We wish to mould our players into men, not just footballers, and each time that a player from the cantera makes his debut we feel we have realised an objective which is in harmony with the

    Read More »from All about pride, not money, for 'different' Athletic
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    Iker CasillasIker Casillas
    When Iker Casillas triumphantly hoisted the Henri Delaunay Cup aloft in Kiev after Spain claimed a second consecutive European crown in 2012, he could scarcely have believed that within two years he would be roundly whistled by fans at Real Madrid's Bernabeu stadium.

    Born and bred in the Spanish capital and a product of the club's academy, goalkeeper and captain Casillas has been singled out by some supporters following a stuttering start to La Liga.

    They first vented their anger during Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to city rivals Atletico Madrid after Casillas was beaten at a corner by a Tiago

    Read More »from Casillas's fall from grace highlights divisions at Real
  • Juventus' Carlos Tevez (L) celebrates with his teammatesJuventus' Carlos Tevez (L) celebrates with his teammates

    Juventus are likely to need a shake-up at some point this season if they are to mount a serious challenge in the Champions League this season.

    New coach Massimiliano Allegri has so far left well alone after inheriting a team which won three successive Serie A titles under his predecessor Antonio Conte, who is now in charge of the Italian national side.

    Greeted with suspicion and even hostility by Juventus fans when he was appointed in July, the former AC Milan coach is treading carefully as he finds his way at his new club.

    In fact, it was hard to believe that there had been any change at all

    Read More »from Juventus need shake-up to be a formidable force in Europe
  • Barcelona dangermen Lionel Messi and Neymar Barcelona dangermen Lionel Messi and Neymar 

    With the 2014-15 Champions League kicking off this week, we polled our team of football experts across the continent to get their take on who they think will win.

    GERMANY - Daniel Rathjen

    Who will win the Champions League?

    Barcelona. The attacking line with Messi, Suarez and Neymar - in addition to Xavi and Iniesta, of course - is frightening. The team is more balanced than last year. They all want to prove that they can win the title again.

    Which team will be the surprise package?

    Bayer Leverkusen. You may giggle a bit when you've read these lines, but Roger Schmidt's team's start in the

    Read More »from Champions League 2014-15: The view from the continent
  • Di Maria, Herrera, RooneyDi Maria, Herrera, Rooney

    He scored a goal. He was integral in the build-up to the other three, and produced an inch-perfect 30 yard assist to give Juan Mata a tap-in. He pulled every string at Old Trafford, ran QPR ragged and put in a performance so complete that nobody is even worried about that £59 million transfer fee any more.

    But, friends, Angel di Maria is NOT in the European Team of the Week.

    Welcome to the murky world of football statistics, eh? The boffins over at Opta have crunched the numbers and decided that Di Maria was actually outperformed by team-mate Ander Herrera, who is United's sole midfield

    Read More »from European Team of the Week: Why Di Maria didn't make it - and why two of his team-mates did
  • Diego Simeone remonstrates with an officialDiego Simeone remonstrates with an official

    "I have a team of b*****ds – and I am the biggest b*****d of all."

    So said Harry Storer, the Derby manager of the late 1950s who was one of Brian Clough’s mentors. Yet it could easily have come from the mouth of Diego Simeone, the Atletico Madrid manager. Simeone would surely take such a description association as a compliment – and he’d be right to do so. Simeone, his team and even the Atletico Madrid fans are a bunch of glorious b*****ds, who have done two extraordinary things in the last 18 months. They have broken the most powerful duopoly in the history of football; and, more important

    Read More »from Atletico Madrid: Thank you for bringing the aggro back
  • Mario Goetze does goalsMario Goetze does goals

    Who's got the best squad in the Champions League this season?

    Is it Real Madrid, who added World Cup darlings James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos, while also strengthening with Chicharito and Keylor Navas?

    How about Barcelona, who dodged a transfer ban and spent over £100 million on Luis Suarez and friends?

    Or perhaps Chelsea, whose addition of Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa has given them a team devoid of apparent flaws?

    Wrong, wrong and wrong again.

    Bayern Munich have the squad in Europe, and it's not even close.

    Sure, they might have had a negative net spend this summer - but maybe that's

    Read More »from Bayern Munich are phenomenal and will win the Champions League
  • Ludogorets players (Imago)Ludogorets players (Imago)

    Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets claim to have found weaknesses in Tuesday's Champions League opponents Liverpool, the five time European champions they visit for their debut in the group stage.

    "Liverpool are a very strong side but they have some weak points and we should make the most of it," Ludogorets captain Svetoslav Dyakov told reporters before departing for England on Monday.

    "We need to minimise our mistakes because they can punish any mistake," added the 30 year-old midfielder, who was instrumental in helping Ludogorets win three successive league titles and reach the last 16 stage in

    Read More »from Tiny Ludogorets aim to exploit Liverpool's weakness