Any games on today?
Yes! Champions League day! And almost every single fixture (well, half of them at least) matters based on the group standings at the moment. Today fate will determine whether Bayer Leverkusen, Shakhtar Donestsk go through, as well as Juventus, Olympiakos, Benfica…plus some meaningless fixtures. Anyway, the entire list of matches is here, which you should compare against the CL group standings here. The End. Oh wait, the Beebs has a good feature on what to watch this week here.
What’s the big story today?
♫Match fixer, match fixer, fix yourself a fire that you can throw yourself on!♫
The Football Association’s general secretary Alex Horne has insisted match-fixing is not widespread in the game but has warned against complacency.
Horne was among representatives from five sports – football, cricket, tennis and the two rugby codes – who attended a meeting with ministers in Whitehall on Tuesday morning for talks on tackling fixing. It followed the arrest of six people, including the Blackburn Rovers striker DJ Campbell, following an investigation into spot-fixing in football by the National Crime Agency.
This is a big problem. And I have to stress this again: despite the Pollyannas who think this sort of thing could never happen in the Premier League/World Cup, don’t be naive. And don’t forget that should evidence have ever surfaced of a top flight match/spot fixing incident, there are very powerful interests out there who would prefer it never reach the light of day until an arrest is made.
Any other news?
Yes. Roy Keane has gone and done an interview that has resurfaced some old beefs. Here he talks about the tunnel incident against Arsenal with Patrick Vieira way back when—”"I started it. I was cool, I was really calm, I was smiling at him – and then he lost it.” Here he lets loose on Alex Ferguson’s “massive ego,” calls Gary Neville “the weakest link” and chides Ryan Giggs for not “being a great player.” The remarks come as part of an ITV documentary that is yet to air…Keane is great entertainment, but this analysis is a little too steeped in bitter, recriminatory syrup for my taste.
Pepe’s pre-match press conference in Copenhagen becomes part of a Greenpeace protest.
Barcelona manager Tata Martino hasn’t yet decided on the future of Everton’s 19 year old wonder winger and Barca loanee, Gerard Deulofeu. “If you ask me do I think he is a great player I would say yes, but there is no decision yet with respect to the players on loan (for next season.)”
Wanna buy Gareth Bale’s Essex estate? Good luck to you, sir.
And after helping Sporting Kansas City to the MLS Cup, keeper Jimmy Nielsen announced his retirement: “I will remember these years forever. To the best soccer fans: since day one they have always been behind me and I want to thank them for all the support. I made the final decision to retire today and to end this part of my life and it was the perfect timing, finishing with a great championship that the entire city deserves.”
Any fun stuff?
Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher battle over which striker will score more goals, Aguero or Suarez:
Any good reads?
A couple of things. Mark Ogden tries to correct the record in the wake of Roy Keane’s remarks about Ferguson’s influence at Old Trafford after his departure:
Unlike Sir Matt Busby following his retirement, Ferguson does not have an office at Old Trafford or United’s Carrington training ground.
He has yet to pop his head around the dressing-room door, even though his role as a director – a non-executive director at that – gives him the right to congratulate or commiserate with Moyes’s players after a game.
Even the ambassadorial role he was given by the Glazer family has proved to be little more than ceremonial position, which will merely see him glad-hand sponsors across the globe.
And John Brewin has a great, historically informed go at the concussion debate.