soccer

Yesterday in soccer history

Featured image On May 15, 1985, Everton defeated Rapid Vienna 3-1 to win the European Cup Winners Cup. The competition featured the winners of the top domestic cup in all European football leagues. It no longer exists — the cup winners now play in the Europa League. Most Everton fans viewed the final as almost anti-climactic. We thought the hard work had been done in the semi-final against German giants Bayern Munich. »

Britain’s excellent new sports minister

Featured image Fresh off of his electoral victory, British Prime Minister David Cameron has named MP Tracey Crouch as Minister for Sport. Crouch is an FA (Football Association) qualified soccer coach. She has coached a girls’ team for the past eight years, and is described as “a keen footballer herself.” During a Tory-Labour match she reportedly embarrassed Labour’s shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy by putting a penalty kick through his legs. As »

Lowly Everton is England’s last hope [UPDATE - and then there were none]

Featured image This has been a dreadful Premier League season for Everton Football Club. Our record is 7 wins, 12 defeats, and 10 draws. For the first time in years, we have genuine relegation worries. In fact, until Sunday’s 3-0 victory over Newcastle, Everton was only three points above the drop zone. Nonetheless, Everton is the last English club playing in European competition. Mighty Chelsea, Manchester City, and Arsenal were all eliminated »

More tears for Piers

Featured image Piers Morgan is no longer on American television, thank God. But he’s still serving up embarrassing soccer commentary. Before Saturday’s North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, Morgan tweeted that Spurs emerging star Harry Kane “wouldn’t get on [Arsenal's] bench.” Kane proceeded to score the two goals that gave Tottenham a famous 2-1 victory over their bitter rivals. Kane is the hottest forward in the Premier League. Arguably, he’s »

Chris Christie, “Gooner”?

Featured image Chris Cillizza reports that Chris Christie, who is visiting London, attended today’s Arsenal match wearing an Arsenal scarf. The Gunners defeated hapless Aston Villa 5-0. I may be able to overlook Christie’s chummy encounter with President Obama just before the 2012 election. But the Dallas Cowboys and now perhaps the “Gooners”? That would be too much. »

On Messi, Mourinho, and Martinez

Featured image Why not end the year with a soccer post? This one will cover (1) the world player of the year award, (2) the EPL title race, and (3) Everton. 1. Three players are finalists for world player of the year, to be announced next month. The three are Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Manuel Neuer. Ronaldo has been phenomenal this year for Real Madrid, but did not shine at the »

A Captain’s performance

Featured image Wayne Rooney made his 100th appearance for England in yesterday’s Euro 2016 qualifying match against Slovenia. Only eight players have played more matches for England. Rooney should surpass Steve Gerrard (115 appearances) as England’s most “capped” outfield player. And, as Rooney is still only 29 years old, Goalkeeper Peter Shilton’s record of 125 appearances is also in jeopardy. Rooney wore the captain’s arm band yesterday, as he has since Gerrard »

Tim Howard still saves

Featured image European soccer returned to Goodison Park this week after an absence of more than four years. Everton celebrated with a 4-1 victory over the German side Wolfsburg in a Europa League match. The score flattered Everton. It was achieved on the strength of Tim Howard, the U.S. goalkeeper whose performance in the World Cup had some liberals lobbying to rename Ronald Reagan Airport after him. In his signature match against »

Sometimes the best deals are the ones you’ve already made

Featured image There’s a saying in sports that sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make. This, I suppose, is the sports version of “don’t do stupid [stuff].” For Everton football club, the best deals it made this offseason were the purchases of two players who were with the team last year. The players are Gareth Barry (who was on loan last from Manchester City) and Romelu Lukaku (on loan »

2014 World Cup all-stars

Featured image The World Cup ended two weeks ago, which means that it’s high time for me to offer my World Cup all-star team. But first, a word about the tournament. The consensus among those who covered it is that this was the best World Cup in modern memory. I’ve followed every World Cup since 1978 (ten in all), but my memory of the early ones has become hazy. Certainly, though, this »

World Cup preview – The Final [UPDATE: Germany wins]

Featured image Germany and Argentina will play tomorrow in the World Cup final. Germany is the betting favorite. Nate Silver’s team estimates that the Germans have a 63 percent chance of winning. That sounds about right to me. Ever since it settled on its current lineup, Germany has been the best team on display in Brazil. The reshuffling was substantial. Lahm moved from midfield to right back; Schweinsteigger and Khedira were paired »

Germany vs. Argentina, the history

Featured image When Germany and Argentina play in the World Cup final on Sunday, it will be the fifth time in the past eight World Cups the two teams have met in the knock-out stage. Argentina beat Germany in the 1986 final and Germany reversed the result in the final four years later. In 2006, Germany eliminated Argentina on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals. In the 2010 quarterfinals, Germany routed Argentina 4-0. »

The World Cup Week in Pictures: Holy Cow!

Featured image So it’s Argentina versus Germany in the final.  I’ll naturally defer to Paul handicapping how the two teams match up on the field in the conventional way, but if we consider the matter theologically, Germany has to be favored for a simple reason: The retired German Pope (Benedict) is philosophically and theologically superior to Pope Francis.  While you’d think God would be neutral between his two living Popes, I say »

World Cup preview — Argentina vs. Holland [UPDATED -- Argentina wins]

Featured image Before taking a look at tomorrow’s World Cup semifinal between Argentina and Brazil, let’s take a quick glance back at today’s remarkable 7-1 victory by Germany over Brazil. It’s clear that Felipe Scolari made a huge mistake by not using three central midfielders. As I suggested before the match, doing so might have enabled Brazil to protect its back four, which was missing its best player (Thiago Silva); to limit »

World Cup preview — Brazil vs. Germany [UPDATED]

Featured image The romance of the free flowing, relatively high-scoring World Cup Group Stage is a distant memory now. At this point, the big boys are playing for keeps, and they are taking no prisoners. All three of the big boys in the semifinals — Brazil, Germany, and Argentina — won their quarterfinals match by scoring early and then grinding the life out of the opposition — Colombia, France, and Belgium. Only »

World Cup update: What goes around comes around for Brazil

Featured image Brazil defeated Colombia 2-1 yesterday in a foul-filled match. But the hosts paid a price. Neymar, their best attacking player, will miss the rest of the tournament due to injury. And Thiago Silva, their best defender, will miss the semifinal due to suspension. Brazil’s manager, Felipe Scolari, came up with both the lineup and the tactics necessary to bring down the high-flying Colombians. He replaced Dani Alves with Maicon at »

An islamist critique of soccer

Featured image Conservative pundits aren’t the only activists with ideological objections to soccer. Salafi clerics in Saudi Arabia and Egypt issued fatwas against viewing the World Cup before the tournament began. Their beef is that watching the World Cup will cause Muslims to neglect their religious duties and expose themselves to negative influences. Saudi cleric Sheikh Abd al-Rahman al-Barrak put it this way: There is no doubt that football, played according to »