Posts Tagged ‘leg’

La Liga Previews: Real and Barca Face Tough Tests

January 16th, 2010

Barcelona vs Sevilla

Although Barcelona won their second leg in the Copa del Rey 1-0 over Sevilla, because of the loss in the first leg, the Catalonian giants missed out on their first trophy under Pep Guardiola.


For the Camp Nou side, the league fixture this weekend doesn’t look too bright facing none other than Sevilla.


Although Sevilla has not been fantastic as of late, falling to Racing Santander and Atletico Madrid recently, their 2-1 win and a 1-0 loss to Barcelona in the league cup says something about Sevilla’s performance when facing Barcelona.


Expect Guardiola’s men to struggle against Sevilla, although their opponent ranks in only 5th place and a whooping 13 points behind them. The way the matches have been going recently between these two, the points are completely up for grabs.




Bilbao vs Real Madrid


Madrid’s game with Osasuna has cost them quite a bit in their race with Barcelona for the La Liga trophy. However, their convincing 2-0 win over Mallorca, with a somewhat healthy Kaka, showed that Pellegrini’s men are still in the race.


They even get to face an Athletic Bilbao side that hasn’t been impressive as of late, picking up only one win in the last six fixtures.


It’s amazing how they still manage to stay at eighth, but rankings don’t matter much when you welcome a side like Real Madrid. At the end of the day, usually maximum points will be hard to come by for sides like Bilbao and that will probably be the case on Saturday night. Expect an easy Madrid win.



Valencia vs. Villarreal


Valencia has been both on and off lately. They did well in the league fixtures, but crashed out in Copa del Rey at the hands of Deportivo la Coruna.


On any other season, Valencia fans would be a little worried and even mores so for this match as they face Villarreal. This year though, that isn’t quite the case.


The Yellow Submarines are barely at the top half of the league (10th) and have failed to win in their last four matches. With talks of Rossi looking to move out this month or even this summer, everything seems to be going wrong for them at this time when have to visit Mestalla.


Between the two Copa del Rey’s recently eliminated teams, Valencia should have a better chance of turning the tides in this game than Villarreal.


Shaun - - live scores and sports

Why Does God Hate The Bengals?

January 11th, 2010

Once again this weekend, the Bengals demonstrated how, even with an experienced quarterback and a division title in hand, they can still manage to fail in the playoffs. A Heisman-winning quarterback can't find his receivers. Receivers can't hold onto the ball. Defenders can't hold onto the other team's running backs. You can't explain it. But if you have been a longtime fan of the Men in Stripes, you know that this is the pattern: The unexplainable happens and defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory.

Return with us to the beginning of this franchise, when a sharpshooting gunslinging quarterback out of the University of Cincinnati, Greg Cook, joined the team and looked all the world to be the leader this young group needed to install itself as a perennial powerhouse. Cook, instead, blows out his arm and is never a factor.

Jump ahead to the second Super Bowl appearance for the Bengals. Super Bowl XXIII in 1989. Boomer Esiason at the helm, a firepower offense. Then Cincinnati nose guard Tim Krumrie got his foot stuck in the turf and his ankle and lower leg spun around in a nauseating 180-degree rotation. Both bones in his calf were shattered. Krumrie had a 15-inch rod inserted into his leg and was never effective in comeback. Needless to say, San Francisco won the game and solidified the legend of Joe Montana.

And now, let's look at this season. First, the tragedies. Sharon Thomas, the executive director of the Marvin Lewis Community Fund, passes away in the spring. She was brought to Cincinnati by Coach Lewis himself to run the fund, and became friends with most everyone on the team. Then the wife of Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer is found dead in the couple's home. No rhyme, no reason, no health issues. Gone.

Then, in December, the death of Chris Henry, who was not with the team because of the broken arm he suffered in an earlier game. You can play all the 'what ifs' you want to in this one: What if he hadn't been hurt, what if he was still in Cincinnati, what if he still had the structure of the team and his teammates. But it didn't play out that way. And now he's gone.

Chris Henry's broken arm was just one of the devastating injuries suffered by the team this season: In training camp, dependable tight end Reggie Kelly went out with an Achilles' tear; Antwan Odom was the league leader with eight sacks when, in September, he also went out with an Achilles' tear. Many other injuries hit the Bengals this season, as they do with any team, but this last series was eerie in its intensity: Promising rookie Rey Maualuga with a broken ankle in the Chiefs game; Pat Sims, broken arm against the Jets in the season-ender; Rashad Jeanty, broken leg in the first play of the playoffs. Three games, three breaks, three IRs.

Coincidence? I think not. Somebody Upstairs isn't doing the team any favors.

So why the bad luck, bad karma, whatever you want to call it for this franchise? Is it a payback for some transgression? Is it a curse on the City of Cincinnati? (I haven't even touched on the Kenyon Martin broken leg that destroyed UC's Final Four chances) Is it because this city doesn't really like this Bengals team?

Think about that: The Bengals of the late '80s and early '90s are still revered in this town. Yes, of course, they were winning on a regular basis, but most importantly, they became part of this community. They didn't pack their bags and run out of the locker room for warmer climates like we saw this Bengals do on Sunday. They got married here. They raised their families here. They started businesses here. Krumrie's still here. Max Montoya opened restaurants. Cris Collinsworth married a local girl. Boomer is forever attached to this city through his Children's Hospital partnerships. They became one of us. And that's why we liked them then, and why we like them still.

Carson Palmer complained that he was tired of 'being booed at home.' We're tired of being jilted by the players who wear our city's name on their jerseys and represent us to the rest of the country but abandon us in the off season. Stay here year-round. Be part of this city you play for. Let us get to know you off the field as well as on. We want to cheer for you. We want to like you. We want you to care about the Bengals and the city and the games as much as we do. We want you to win. Maybe together we can break this bad mojo. And God will smile upon the Bengals.

France Squad for Irish Playoff Test Has No Room for Vieira

November 6th, 2009

France coach Raymond Domenech yesterday named his squad for the decisive play-off matches against Republic of Ireland in just over one week’s time.


Aside from Franck Ribéry’s absence through injury, the biggest talking point was Domenech's decision not to select Patrick Vieira, who despite his return to first team action at Inter Milan has still yet to be called up by France this season.

Elsewhere, Lyon left-back Aly Cissokho receives his first call-up in place of the injured Gael Clichy. The Arsenal full-back has been ruled out for around a month with a back injury so Cissokho will provide back-up for Patrice Evra at left-back.


The national call-up represents quite an achievement for the ex-Porto man who transferred to Lyon in the summer and was playing in the French second division for Gueugnon just two years ago. Cissokho remains eligible for Senegal as well until he makes his official debut for France.


Yoann Gourcuff returns to the squad after injury kept him out last time but there is no room for Lyon forward Bafétimbi Gomis.


Domenech has named a larger than usual 24-man squad, justifying this stance by stating that there are always last minute worries over players’ fitness; none more so than over Karim Benzema and Lassana Diarra.


The Real Madrid pair will join up late with the squad only three days before the first leg as they are needed for the second leg of Real’s Copa del Rey clash on Tuesday as they seek to overturn the embarrassing four goal deficit from the first leg.


Patrick Vieira responded to Domenech’s decision to leave him out of the squad for the crucial play-offs in L’Equipe this morning stating, “I know that in my position there isn’t anyone better than me in France at the moment. This might sound pretentious but I’m sure of it.”


The Inter Milan midfielder, however, refuses to call time on his International career: “I’m focused on the objective of playing at the next World Cup. What’s certain is that I will do everything to be there.”


France will wear a new shirt for the first time in the first leg in Dublin. The shirt features red and white bands across the body echoing the historic shirts of 1984 and 1998.


The previous shirt only lasted 13 months after being introduced after Euro 2008, far from the usual two year cycle which might not sit too well with the already far from happy French fans.



24-man France Squad for World Cup Qualifying Play-offs versus Republic of Ireland


Goalkeepers:  Carrasso (Bordeaux), Lloris (Lyon), Mandanda (Marseille)


Defenders:  Abidal (Barcelona), Cissokho (Lyon), Escudé (Seville), Evra (Manchester United), Fanni (Rennes), Gallas (Arsenal), Sagna (Arsenal), Squillaci (Seville)


Midfielders:  Diaby (Arsenal), Alou Diarra (Bordeaux), Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid), Gourcuff (Bordeaux), Malouda (Chelsea), Sissoko (Toulouse), Toulalan (Lyon)


Forwards:  Anelka (Chelsea), Benzema (Real Madrid), Gignac (Toulouse), Govou (Lyon), Henry (Barcelona), Rémy (Nice)

Why Mark McGwire’s Return Will Benefit the Cardinals

October 27th, 2009

Yes, his name is Mark McGwire. It isn't Mark McGuire, nor is it Mark Maguire, because he is not related to the main character of the movie Jerry Maguire . Spelling is a virtue.

He is also the new hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals. Do I care about this?

You better freaking believe it.

McGwire is my all-time favorite player. There was Dave Stewart, Dennis Eckersley, Jose Canseco (yes, even him), Tom Henke, Nolan Ryan, and now Albert Pujols. As you can tell, I was a fan of the early 1990 Athletics, the first team I rooted for before I saw the light and rooted for the age five.

There were all of those players, but McGwire stands alone at the top of my list. He stands there with an adolescent's bedroom filled with McGwire posters, pictures, jerseys, shirts, and a card collection.

McGwire will make an excellent hitting coach.

McGwire has already worked wonders with Skip Schumaker.

Sure, point out his misses with Chris Duncan and Matt Holliday.

Holliday wasn't ready to dump the leg kick. It became a part of him, and he didn't know how to handle the bat without his leg kick.

Duncan's issues did not stem from his stance, trigger, or anything else. His problems came from injuries and a wish to waste away his sorrows (Josh Hancock), injuries, fan backlash, and bad numbers in a place I can't mention for fear of libel/slander.

Is a blog libel or slander? There's something to think about if you're upset I haven't mentioned steroids yet.

McGwire knows how to hit, as evidenced by his 583 home runs. Yes, his career batting average is .263, and he would strike out, hit a home run, or walk 47 percent of the time in his career.

Who cares? The Cardinals had a problem with on-base percentage and hitting the ball with authority.

A .391 career on-base percentage and 583 home runs enter the equation here.

McGwire had one of the best eyes in baseball. He could see exactly where a ball was going. You can't teach an eye to players, but you can teach how to improve theirs.

Video and the fact that McGwire knows how to hit will help these players. How much is dependent on if they listen.

That was the problem with McGwire's predecessor, Hal McRae. McRae came in and got everyone to listen, and therefore was successful.

In 2008, the players still listened but tuned him out some.

In 2009, they tuned him out completely and didn't care what he said. Why? He didn't really know what he was talking about. He preached the same thing over and over, never backing off.

If a player was having a problem with what he was saying, he'd tell them they were doing it wrong, and he wouldn't help them until they started to get it.

Great strategy, no?

He waited until either they understood what he was saying and had adapted it before he'd help them go the distance. The problem was that his strategy didn't work, and the team knew that.

He wanted singles. Singles would conquer everything, even the common cold.

The players knew that singles were great, but extra base hits would score. Singles got there, but it would take two or three more singles to drive in the first guy.

Enter McGwire, or Mr. Extra Base Hit.

This team will listen. Count on that.

What they will also listen to is what McGwire says about steroid use. Happy now? I mentioned it.

I for one firmly believe that McGwire did nothing wrong. Steroids were not illegal in Major League Baseball in the 1990s.

My main reason he didn't do anything wrong: I firmly believe he took steroids in the very early 1990s and was off steroids well before 1997. That pins the use to 1991-1996, and that is at the latest.

Know what happened in that time frame? A lot of injuries.

McGwire was injured constantly during that time, and he wanted to stay in the lineup to help the team win. Did he do the right thing? Nope, but he did do what he thought was best.

The question remains, though, is whether or not he will admit to it.

As his number one fan, I hope he does.

I am hoping for an Alex Rodriguez-like press conference. One day, a few hours long, and McGwire answering questions.

He comes out and says he did steroids, when he did steroids, when he stopped, and why. Did he get caught? Was he afraid of what would happen to him if he did finally get caught?

Open up about it and then have a question and answer period for the media present. Finish it off and then leave it there. Any more questions asked about it will get the answer, "I'm not here to talk about the past anymore. I'm here to help these guys hit better with that tree limb in their hands."

And yes, he should most definitely say that. It is funny, to lighten the mood, and true. He answered the past, so leave him alone about it. You missed the press conference; therefore you gave up your right to ask him about his steroid use.

Why would I like to see him do this?

First, it will relieve some of the circus that will inevitably surround him. That allows for him to get to work and stay at work without constantly answering questions.

Second, if a player starts playing well, it would allow for a rational answer (started seeing the ball well, or McGwire does have some magic and helped him) instead of the irrational answer that McGwire is juicing the player.

Thirdly, it might actually allow him to finally get into the Hall of Fame—every player's dream.

Even for the player who says it doesn't matter to him.

New York Jets’ Leon Washington’s Leg Injury Opens Door for Rookie Shonn Greene

October 26th, 2009

The New York Jets lost running back Leon Washington for the season when he suffered a broken fibula during Sunday’s 38-0 win over the Oakland Raiders.

Washington was rolled up on from the side in the first quarter, breaking his leg so badly that the bone protruded through the skin. That raises the odds of a bad infection setting in, so Washington underwent emergency surgery after the game at a local hospital.

It was clear right away that the injury was sever when the training staff covered the injured right leg with a towel to blocks television cameras from capturing his bone sticking out of his skin.

This injury shifts some of the workload in the backfield to the third round pick out of Iowa, rookie Shonn Greene.

Greene looked to be a dynamic back on Sunday afternoon, carrying the ball 19 times for 144 yards and two scores.

The 2008 Doak Walker award winner and Big Ten offensive player of the year runs with a low center of gravity and works hard downhill right from the snap.

He lacks the explosive speed to be a threat on the outside, but he did show the ability to pull away in the secondary on a long touchdown run Sunday afternoon.

Although starter Thomas Jones still rushed for 121 yards on 26 carries, the Jets rely heavily on their brawny offensive line to pound down opponents in the running game.

Behind former first round picks Alan Faneca, Damien Woody, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, and Nick Mangold, the Jets rushed for 318 yards in their loss last week to the Buffalo Bills, and added on another 316 in Sunday’s effort against the hapless Raiders.

The running game has been amped up because of the five-interception performance from rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez in last week’s loss.

Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will surely be giving Greene and increased amount of carries for the remainder of the season.

Fantasy owners in need of a running back would be well advised to pick up Greene, who is a free agent in most leagues, if they need a running back slot or utility position to fill. 

He is capable of exploding for a big game, as he showed on Sunday, but is more likely to be a 10-15 carry back that finds the endzone a few times in the final nine games of the season.

Greene does have difficulty catching balls out of the backfield, so that is a definitely a limiting factor in his fantasy potential.

Despite not having great hands to catch balls, he has an excellent hold on the ball and is unlikely to lose fumbles. 

If that fits your need, then Greene could be a mid-season addition that solidifies your roster. 

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