Is there football on today?
Yessir, the Champions League has returned! It never, ever ends! So what should you watch?
Sadly there are no early games (all kick offs are at 2:45 PM EST) so you’ll have to either flip around (always recommended if you have the means) or just settle on whatever the television decides to give you. Of interest to the Premier League People–and the latest research says that’s probably most of you even if you were to claim otherwise–would be Man United vs Leverkusen, in which David Moyes says hello to Europe. Sligtly less sexy is Victoria Plzen vs Manchester City.
But because this is an opening group round match, and because everyday should be an opportunity to discover new things, why not watch Real Sociedad fight for a chance to challenge the impression that Spain is a two team league? They’ll face the always intriguing Shakhtar Donetsk at home. Though Socidedad’s league form isn’t very good at the moment, so despite claims this will be an “open game”, fair warning.
Oh and Bayern are at home to CSKA Moscow, “defending” their European Cup, if you believe in that kind of nonsense. Dzagoev won’t be with the away team having picked up an injury, so that will certainly put a damper in things, while Pep will have no Thiago Alcantara, Schweinsteiger, Javi Martinez or Goetze. Good. Good.
What’s the conventionally agreed upon big story today?
Jonjo Shelvey feels like a prat for playing a bit bad for Swansea against Liverpool but also scoring goals, and David Moyes wants red cards awarded after the fact for diving, which of course will open a needless can of worms about the subjectivity behind judging when a player simulates a foul and when it is “real.”
What’s are people actually talking about?
Sky Sports, and not the usual “TV is destroying the soul of the game” type stuff either, but an actual program featuring two fairly recent former footballers, Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher who, it must be said, are both doing their part to cast off the former-footballer-pundit-as-bumbling-idiot stereotype.
Here for one is a little video of Carragher needling Neville:
And here is the exchange that actually warranted a lead story on the Guardian:
“They are three world-class players. Top for me is Stevie, the reason he is top is in terms of his big game influence, in Istanbul and in Cardiff,” Carragher said.
“Lampard the same, his goals in the FA Cup final, to win the league at Bolton. He’s slightly ahead of Scholes for me.”
This was too much for the former United defender Neville, who leapt in two-footed straight away.
“Paul Scholes is the best player I’ve ever played with. He’s a unique talent,” he said.
WAATP has screen capped Neville’s reaction to Carragher’s summary, which should be kept in reserve.
Elsewhere, there’s a debate raging over whether retired Premier League referee Mark Halsey’s relationship with managers like Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho crossed the line of appropriateness. This comes on the heels of a critical editorial from the Times’ Matt Dickinson, written ahead of the release of Halsey’s upcoming book Added Time (the Dickinson editorial is paywalled but someone took a lovely full spread snap here).
Halsey doesn’t seem like a paragon of good judgment exactly, but condemning the man for allowing Jose Mourinho—who was managing in Spain at the time—to pay for a free trip for his wife then suffering from leukemia, when it wasn’t even clear that Halsey would return to referee a football match again, seems, well, mean-spirited.
What else is in the news?
Former PSG manager Carlo Ancelotti tore some strips off his old club in L’Equipe, who made up a great cover spread for the occasion:
— Andy Brassell (@andybrassell) September 17, 2013
“When I sign a contract, I usually hope to extend it and stay for a long time,” the Italian told French sports daily L’Equipe.
“When I signed with PSG I believed in a project. New players were joining, a team was about to be built and this is something that takes time,” said the Italian who switched to Real Madrid in June.
“The first six months were good but the following year I understood that the management had changed their point of view. There was no project anymore just an idea to get results immediately.”
So I guess that’s kind of interesting?
Oh, and Australia may seek financial compensation from FIFA should the world football governing body decides to move the 2022 World Cup to winter:
Australia invested heavily in the World Cup process,” [Football Federation Austrialia president Frank] Lowy said.
“Since December 2010, Australia has been careful not to let its misgivings about the process be
interpreted as sour grapes.
“But now, with increasing speculation about a change that will impact on us as one of the bidding nations, and because our competition will be affected, we have made our position public.”
A FFA statement also asked Fifa to look at awarding “just and fair compensation” to those nations that “invested many millions, and national prestige, in bidding for a summer event”.
That’s going to be quite the shit sandwich for FIFA to chow down on in the midst of a potential political fracas over moving the competition.
Any interesting reads?
Always! James Horncastle has a great post on the spy novel-esque background behind the Genoa derby.
And Statsbomb with their ten points…always a fascinating read.