“Manchester (United Kingdom) — Defending champions Bayern Munich proved they remain the team to beat in the Champions League with a classy 3-1 win at Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.”
My AFP report on Bayern Munich’s breath-taking performance against Manchester City can be read here.
“MANCHESTER, United Kingdom — David Moyes’s first derby as Manchester United manager turned into a nightmare on Sunday as Manchester City inflicted a humiliating 4-1 defeat at a triumphant Etihad Stadium.”
My AFP match report on a dazzling display by Manchester City and an abject afternoon for Manchester United can be read here.
“MANCHESTER, United Kingdom — Wayne Rooney reached 200 Manchester United goals with a brace to give David Moyes a 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen in his first Champions League group game on Tuesday.”
My AFP match report on Wayne Rooney’s milestone moment for Manchester United can be read here.
Reaction: Moyes salutes ‘world-class’ Rooney
“Sporting the captain’s armband for Paris Saint-Germain, Sakho conceded a penalty with a rash sliding challenge on an opposition forward in the 71st minute of a French Cup tie at Lorient’s Stade du Moustoir. Worse, PSG were playing Saint-Colomban Locminé, an amateur team from the French fifth tier, who promptly equalised from the resulting penalty. Worse still, Sakho was making his first appearance under new coach Carlo Ancelotti, who had succeeded Antoine Kombouaré just 10 days earlier.”
I’ve written a piece for AFP on why things fell apart for Mamadou Sakho at Paris Saint-Germain, and you can read it – should you wish – here.
“KIEV — England inched closer to qualifying for next year’s World Cup after surviving a number of scares to record a potentially crucial 0-0 draw against Ukraine in Kiev on Tuesday.”
My AFP match report on England’s laborious goalless draw in Ukraine can be read here.
“MANCHESTER, United Kingdom — Wayne Rooney may have played his way out of a transfer to Chelsea after a committed display in Manchester United’s 0-0 draw against their Premier League rivals on Monday.”
My AFP match report on the first major head-to-head encounter of the new Premier League season can be read here.
Related link: Ramsey rubber-stamps Arsenal progress
David Moyes is only two competitive games into his tenure as Manchester United manager, and his tactical strategies are likely to evolve as the season progresses, but his side’s early performances have already benefited from the unique skillset of versatile forward Danny Welbeck.
In both the 2-0 victory over Wigan Athletic in the Community Shield and last Saturday’s 4-1 win at Swansea City, Welbeck operated in a role that was difficult to define; hugging the left touchline one minute, darting into the box the next. In this respect he dovetailed with Ryan Giggs, who was United’s most advanced central midfielder in both games.
Welbeck and Giggs were the only players in the United XI who could be said to have taken up unorthodox positions in the two matches. Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley patrolled the centre of the pitch – Cleverley slightly ahead of his England colleague – and while Wilfried Zaha (in the Community Shield) and Antonio Valencia (against Swansea) stayed wide on the right flank, Robin van Persie led the line as a conventional number nine.
Welbeck and Giggs, however, were harder to pin down. Giggs played slightly in advance of Carrick and Cleverley, and was often the player charged with carrying the ball forward into opposition territory, but he occasionally drifted wide to take up a role on the left. Welbeck orbited in support of Van Persie, typically moving to the left when Giggs was not there, but in the game against Swansea he also made a series of bursts into the penalty area from central positions, as his two goals demonstrated. The 22-year-old blends the stamina and work ethic of a central midfielder with the pace and dainty footwork of a winger, and his mobility equips United with both an outlet on the left flank and a foil for Van Persie.
“LONDON — José Mourinho made a winning return as Chelsea manager with a 2-0 success at home to promoted Hull City in the club’s opening Premier League game on Sunday.”
My AFP report on José Mourinho’s Stamford Bridge homecoming, as well as a successful Premier League debut for Roberto Soldado, can be read here.
“LONDON — Manchester United manager David Moyes picked up where Alex Ferguson left off on Saturday as the Premier League champions began their title defence by winning 4-1 at Swansea City.”
My AFP report on the opening day of the 2013-14 Premier League season can be read here.
“[Laurent] Blanc nicknamed him ‘The Plank’ due to the way his Bordeaux team-mates bounced their attacking moves off him, but despite his skill at holding the ball up, his lack of pace was always likely to provide an obstacle amid the cut-throat speed of the English top flight. So it proved, and by November 2011, Bordeaux president Jean-Louis Triaud was already on the phone pleading with him to return to the Stade Chaban-Delmas.”
I wrote a piece for AFP on why things went wrong for Marouane Chamakh at Arsenal, and how he’s hoping to revive his career at Crystal Palace. You can read it here.
“LONDON — Rickie Lambert scored with his first touch as an England player to earn a 3-2 win over old enemies Scotland in a gripping friendly game at Wembley on Wednesday.”
My AFP match report on an unexpectedly thrilling evening at Wembley can be read here.
“LONDON, England — New Manchester United manager David Moyes put a testing pre-season behind him as his side beat Wigan Athletic 2-0 in the Community Shield at a sun-soaked Wembley on Sunday.”
My AFP report on David Moyes’ first official match as Manchester United manager can be read here.
Having waited 19 years and 13 days to reacquaint themselves with the rarefied air at the summit of French football, Paris Saint-Germain were rather dismayed to see their Ligue 1 title celebrations unravel into a sorry mess in the space of barely a week.
Twenty-four hours after a 1-0 win at Lyon on May 12 gave PSG their first title since 1994, supporters clashed with riot police at Paris’ Place du Trocadéro (scene of Zlatan Ibrahimović’s glitzy unveiling the previous summer) and plans for a triumphant trophy presentation at the Hôtel de Ville were shelved. PSG were quick to condemn the “few hundred troublemakers” responsible for the violence, but the title euphoria dissipated further as Carlo Ancelotti abruptly announced his desire to leave the club for Real Madrid.
Sporting director Leonardo then had his suspension for shoving referee Alexandre Castro increased from nine to 13 months, while an initial lack of transfer activity was compounded by a glut of headline-grabbing arrivals at newly promoted Monaco, as well as media reports linking Ibrahimović and Thiago Silva with moves away from Parc des Princes.
The sense of flux was heightened by the unexpected string of rejections that PSG had to wade through before finally appointing a successor to Ancelotti. No fewer than six coaches – José Mourinho, Arsène Wenger, Fabio Capello, Guus Hiddink, André Villas-Boas and Frank Rijkaard – were reported to have rebuffed the French champions’ advances, before former France coach Laurent Blanc eventually took the plunge following a year out of the game.
“FORTALEZA, Brazil — Jesús Navas settled a nail-biting penalty shoot-out 7-6 for Spain as the world and European champions edged Italy on a sultry evening in Fortaleza on Thursday to set up a Confederations Cup final meeting with Brazil.”
My AFP match report on Spain’s rope-a-dope semi-final victory over Italy at the Confederations Cup can be read here.
“On July 16, the day of the game, Rio newspaper O Mundo carried the headline “THESE ARE THE WORLD CHAMPIONS!” alongside a picture of the team, and an estimated 200,000 fans streamed into the giant concrete arena in anticipation of Brazil’s coronation. Opponents Uruguay, narrow victors over Sweden in their previous game, were offered up as the sacrificial victims and they seemed destined to fulfil that role when Friaça put Brazil ahead early in the second half. Juan Alberto Schiaffino equalised, but Brazil remained on course for the trophy until Uruguay winger Alcides Ghiggia surprised goalkeeper Moacir Barbosa with a low shot in the 79th minute that stunned the stadium. “Only three people have ever silenced 200,000 people at the Maracanã with a single gesture,” Ghiggia once said. “Frank Sinatra, Pope John Paul II, and I.”"
I’ve written a piece for AFP on the Maracanazo, and you can read it here.