Saturday, July 30, 2011

All The Latest Transfer Gossip

With the English Football League season kicking off a week today and the Premier League season in two weeks time, transfer speculation is rife in the UK and right across Europe at the moment. Some of the biggest names in world football, even at this late stage, do not know where they will be plying their trade this coming season, while many clubs are desperately trying to put the the final touches to their squads before the big kick-off. Although the transfer window remains open until the end of August, I am sure most clubs would like to have their squads in place sooner rather than later, as last minute signings can sometimes be seen as panic buys, often bought at over-inflated prices!

Tottenham, Arsenal, Valencia, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Chelsea, Manchester City, Juventus, AS Roma, Sao Paulo, Liverpol, Palermo, Manchester United, AIK Solna, Lazio, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, Sporting Lisbon, Fiorentina, Inter Milan, Napoli, Genoa, Bayer Leverkusen, Sunderland, Wigan, Newcastle, Fulham, Liverpool, Bolton, Newcastle, Galatasaray, Blackburn, Everton, Stoke, Wolves, QPR, Birmingham, Lokomotiv Moscow, Marseille, West Ham, Leicester, Fulham, Bolton, Swansea and Nottingham Forest............are all currently caught up in transfer gossip.

Is your club involved?

Tottenham have tabled a bid of around £22m for Arsenal target Juan Mata. The Valencia winger is open to a move to the Premier League and Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is a fan of the 23-year-old but he is yet to make a formal offer - Daily Mirror

Juventus have reached an agreement with AS Roma for forward Mirko Vucinic (right), La Gazzetta dello Sport has revealed. They have now agreed to pay Roma €15 million over the course of three years - &

Roma have also confirmed that Argentine defender Gabriel Heinze will join the club on a free transfer after the player left Marseille in June. Roma have signed the player on a one year deal -

AC Milan chief Adriano Galliani has reiterated that neither Cesc Fabregas nor Kaka are on the Italian champions' radar this summer.

Arsenal captain Fabregas has been strongly linked with a £40million move to Barcelona this summer, but reports recently emerged that the Rossoneri had joined the hunt for his signature. Chelsea and Manchester City have previously been linked with Real Madrid striker Kaka this summer, while Tottenham are believed to have emerged as his latest suitors -

Liverpool and Tottenham are set to go head-to-head for the signature of Sao Paulo midfielder Lucas, according to reports in Brazil - talkSPORT

Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini has revealed that Javier Pastore is on the verge of completing a move to Paris Saint-Germain for a fee in the region of €43m. Chelsea were thought to be chasing the talented youngster's signature, but it appears they have been beaten to the punch by the French Ligue 1 outfit - &

Manchester United are tracking another teenage strker - Teteh Bangura (right) of Swedish side AIK Solna. United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has sent brother and chief scout Martin to assess the Sierra Leone international - talkSPORT

After being frustrated in their rumoured £40m pursuit of Inter Milan’s Wesley Sneijder, Manchester United will switch their attentions to Lazio midfielder and Slovakia captain Marek Hamsik, who is available at a less costly £25m -

Despite recent rumours that Arsenal's Danish international Nicklas Bendtner (23) is about to join Sporting Lisbon, Leões chairman Carlos Freitas has reportedly denied it, calling it "just fictitious news" -

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has made a move for Fiorentina winger Alessio Cerci, according to reports in Italy - Gazzetta dello Sport

Meanwhile, Manchester City and Inter Milan will hold talks over a swap deal involving strikers Carlos Tevez and Samuel Eto'o this weekend - Daily Telegraph

The agent of Inter Milan forward Goran Pandev has hinted that his client would be interested in a move to Napoli. The FYR Macedonia international rejected a move to Genoa in exchange for Rodrigo Palacio, but his agent has now hinted that Naples is his preferred destination - &

AS Roma star Daniele De Rossi, who is a target from Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United will not be leaving the Stadio Olimpico this summer despite being out of contract in twelve months' time

Dimitar Berbatov's agent says the Manchester United striker will not be leaving the club, even if the Premier League champions sign another forward this summer - Inside Futbol

Several English clubs including Wigan, Sunderland and Newcastle are targeting Bayer Leverkusen's Swiss international winger Tranquillo Barnetta (right) -

Everton are considering a move to sign Manchester City's Adam Johnson on a season-long loan. Johnson is behind midfielder David Silva in the City pecking order, and may feel he needs a move if he wants to keep his place in the England squad in the run-up to Euro 2012 - Daily Mirror

Having publicly declared he would not leave Tottenham for the northeast of England after Newcastle United showed interest, striker Jermain Defoe could be the subject of a bid by London neighbours Fulham - Footie Online

Liverpool are plotting a £15m double defender deal for Newcastle United's Jose Enrique and Birmingham City's Scott Dann -

Bolton Wanderers boss Owen Coyle has set a deadline of this weekend for the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs to come forward with an acceptable bid for defender Gary Cahill - Bolton News

Stoke, Wolves and top-flight newcomers QPR are all thought to be interested in the former Republic of Ireland international Birmingham right-back Stephen Carr -

Queens Park Rangers manager Neil Warnock is lining up a loan deal for Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha - Daily Mail

Warnock also plans to make Tottenham striker Robbie Keane, 31, his last signing of the summer - The Sun

Real Madrid's, French international defender Lassana Diarra (26), has been targeted by Galatasaray, who are ready to offer €8m for him -

Argentinian striker Mariano Pavone, who is a free agent after buying out the remaining year of his contract at Real Betis, has confirmed that talks with Blackburn over a potential move have completely broken down. The 29-year-old had agreed a three-year deal contract at Ewood Park but the Premier League side were unable to finalise the deal -

Blackburn are in talks to sign Romania striker Ciprian Marica (right) on a free transfer, having moved ahead of Marseille and Lokomotiv Moscow in the race for his services, after he left German side Stuttgart -Daily Mirror

West Ham have confirmed the signing of midfielder Joey O'Brien on a free transfer after he was released by Bolton earlier this summer -

Birmingham City are closing in on the signing of former West Ham United utility player Jonathan Spector. The 25-year-old is available on a free transfer after his contract at West Ham expired -

Big-spending Championship side Leicester are to bid £4m-plus for Birmingham striker Cameron Jerome, who is also a target for Premier League sides Stoke, Fulham and Bolton - Daily Mirror

Swansea City have had a third bid of £1.8million turned down by Nottingham Forest for goalkeeper Lee Camp -

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Forlan fires Uruguay to 2011 Copa América triumph.

Uruguay celebrate after winning the 2011 Copa América today

Uruguay defeated Paraguay 3-0 in the Copa América final at the Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires, to win South America’s continental soccer championship for a record 15th time.

Luis Suárez opened the scoring in the game’s 12th minute and Diego Forlán (right) made it 2-0 late in the first half. Forlán added his second and Uruguay's third goal in the game’s final minutes, to secure Uruguay’s first title since winning on home soil in 1995.

The victory lifts Uruguay, who reached the semi-finals at last year’s World Cup, one championship clear of arch rival Argentina in the 43 tournaments of soccer’s oldest international tournament.

Uruguay's squad featured 20 of the 23 players it took to the World Cup a year ago, and they won the tournament with a combination of good teamwork, a solid defence, along with a burning hunger and desire - despite not having the vast pool of 'star' players available to them, compared to the likes of Argentina or Brazil.
Uruguay eliminated the host nation and pre-tournament favourites in the quarter-finals.

Paraguay, the 1953 and 1979 champions, had been seeking its third title after advancing to the final without having won a single game. The Paraguayans drew all three group games and needed penalty kicks to get past Brazil and Venezuela in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.

Today’s win also earned La Celeste, as Uruguay’s team is known, a berth at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.

Of the region's top four teams in the FIFA world rankings, only Uruguay (ranked world number 18 by FIFA) made the semi-finals of this years 12-nation event, following up its fourth-place finish in South Africa last year.

Uruguay was the clear favorite going into the final, wrapping up a tournament filled with surprises.

Uruguay beat Argentina 5-4 in a quarter-final penalty shootout, while Brazil's bid to win the tournament for the fifth time in the past six occasions ended when lost 2-0 on penalties to Paraguay, missing all four of their spot-kicks in the process!

Not only had Brazil and Argentina been sent home early, but Venezuela reached the third-place match on Saturday before losing 4-1 to Peru.
Those two countries have been the weakest in the region in recent years, but they suddenly look formidable going into the regional World Cup qualifying matches starting later this year.

It was only the second time in the tournament’s 95-year history that neither Brazil nor Argentina made the semi-finals of a tournament in which at least one of them took part.

Uruguay could have even have taken the lead as early as the second minute, when 'keeper Justo Villar superbly kept out Fenerbahçe defender Diego Lugano's powerful point-blank header.

Luis Suárez (right) did give Uruguay the lead ten minutes later, in a match they dominated from start to finish. Receiving a pass in the area, the Liverpool forward beat defender Dario Veron to score with a deflected left-footed shot that went in off the far post.

Atlético Madrid's Forlán, who was voted the best player at last year's World Cup in South Africa, made it 2-0 just before half-time, lashing home an angled drive following a pass from Egidio Arevalo Rios.

Sebastian Eguren almost made it 3-0 in the 74th minute, but Villar saved well.
Forlán notched the final goal in the last minute. Cavani swept a cross-field pass to Suárez, whose cushioned header found Forlán and he calmly rolled the ball into the corner of the net, past the advancing Villar to register his 31st international goal.

Paraguay seldom threatened the Uruguayan goal, and badly missed their injured duo of striker Roque Santa Cruz and winger Aureliano Torres. In addition Paraguay Coach Gerardo Martino and assistant Jorge Pautasso were suspended from the match after being sent off for repeatedly arguing with the referee in Wednesday's victory over Venezuela.

"The important thing was getting started well, with two goals in the first half, I think it was very difficult for them to come back," said Suárez after the match.

"We played as a group,I think when groups are united like this, everyone together and going for the same thing, you can get things done," added Suárez, who was both the competition's joint top-scorer, and voted the 'best player of the tournament.'


Uruguay: Fernando Muslera, Maximiliano Pereira, Diego Lugano, Sebastian Coates, Martin Caceres (Diego Godin, 88), Alvaro Gonzalez, Diego Perez (Sebastian Eguren, 69), Egidio Arevalo Rios, Alvaro Pereira (Edinson Cavani, 63), Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez.

Paraguay: Justo Villar, Ivan Piris, Dario Veron, Paulo Da Silva, Elvis Marecos, Nestor Ortigoza, Cristian Riveros, Victor Careces (Hernan Perez, 64), Enrique Vera (Marcelo Estigarribia, 64), Nelson Haedo Valdez, Pablo Zeballos (Lucas Barrios, 76).

Goals: Luis Suárez 12', Diego Forlán 42', Diego Forlán 89'

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Penalty pain for USA, as Japan hold their nerve in Women's World Cup Final shoot-out !

Japan celebrate their World Cup success after defeating USA in a penalty shoot-out tonight

Japan became the first Asian nation to win the Women's World Cup, beating the USA in a penalty shoot-out in Frankfurt tonight.

It was a heart breaking end to the tournament for the USA, who were just three minutes away from becoming the first country to lift the trophy for a third time, in what was a truly exhilarating final.

The USA dominated the opening stages. Lively winger Lauren Cheney forced a save from Ayumi Kaihori with a shot from an acute angle, just 25 second into the contest.

On eight minutes, Megan Rapinoe found some space on the left and her excellent near post cross was turned just wide again by Cheney. Barely a minute later, Abby Wambach fired a shot over as USA maintained their bright start.

Then it was Atlanta Beat midfielder Carli Lloyd who had the next chance to break the deadlock. Japan were unable to deal with Shannon Boxx's cross into the penalty area and the ball dropped kindly for the midfielder, but her sweetly struck shot from inside the the box sailed just over.

In the 12th minute Rapinoe then pushed the ball wide at the near post in a move reminiscent of Cheney’s effort a few minutes earlier.

In the 29 minute Wambach, the USA’s all-time top FIFA Women’s World Cup goalscorer, hit a stunning shot from close to the corner of the penalty area which rattled the underside of the crossbar and rolled away to safety.

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, with the USA looking the far more threatening and the more likely to score.

Alex Morgan who came on at half-time for Cheney immediately imposed herself on the game. Four minutes after coming on the youngster got on the end of a Heather O’Reilly cross, only to see her toe-poked effort come back off the upright.

Then on the hour mark a Wambach header forced an excellent save from Kaihori as USA pushed ever closer to an opener.

However it was Morgan (right, wearing 13) who eventually gave the Stars and Stripes the lead on 69 minutes. A quick counter attack saw Rapinoe play an excellent long ball through for Morgan to run onto. She used her strength to hold off a defender, before the 22 year-old substitute hit a perfectly placed angled drive past the despairing Kaihori. 1-0 USA.

The USA seemed comfortably on course for victory with Japan posing little in the way of an attacking force, but with nine minutes of normal time remaining and against the run of play the Asian side equalised. Rachel Buehler and Alex Krieger failed to clear their lines following a cross from the right, allowing Aya Miyama to smash the loose ball past Hope Solo. USA 1-1 Japan.

So for the fourth time in six FIFA Women’s World Cup Finals, the match went into extra-time.

The USA regained the lead in the 104th minute when Morgan aimed a pinpoint cross towards the towering Wambach. The forward powered home a header from six yards, Wambach's fourth goal of the tournament - all from headers. 2-1 USA

But once again, resilient and stubborn Japan equalised when captain Homare Sawa produced an audacious flick from a corner that left keeper Solo helpless. USA 2-2 Japan

The USA pressed again in search for a late winner. Morgan was en route to scoring her second before she was cynically brought down by Azuza Iwashimizu on the edge of the area, and the full-back received a straight red from German referee Bibiana Steinhaus.

The free-kick came to nothing which was followed by the whistle to signal the end of extra-time and penalty-kicks.

Shannon Boxx and Tobin Heath both had their penalties saved by Kaihori, whilst Carli Lloyd completely missed the target, as the USA failed to convert any of their opening three penalties. Although Yuki Nagasato had her effort saved by Solo, Saki Kumagai stayed cool to fire in the decisive spot-kick for Japan as they claimed the FIFA World Cup for the first time.

"We're so happy about the title, now we're number one," said Japan captain Homare Sawa, who won the Golden Boot for top scorer in the tournament with five goals.

Ayumi Kaihori, Japan's goalkeeper added: "We have some very good players on the team and this is why we have been able to win the final. I received excellent support from the other players and I want to emphasise this is a team effort. In the penalty shootout I just had to believe in myself and I was very confident."

USA goalkeeper Hope Solo offered her congratulations to Japan saying: "As much as I've always wanted this, if there were any other team I could give this to it would have to be Japan. I'm happy for them and they do deserve it."

Abby Wambach, the USA striker added: "Japan just kept coming and they never gave up, and in the end they're the world champs."

Match highlights: Women's World Cup Final - USA v Japan on 17th July 2011

Goals: Alex Morgan (USA) 69', Aya Miyama (JPN) 81', Abby Wambach (USA) 104', Homare Sawa (JPN) 117'

Penalty shoot-out:
Shannon Boxx - Saved
Aya Miyami - Goal
Carli Lloyd - Missed
Yuki Nagasato - Saved
Tobin Heath - Saved
Mizuho Sakaguchi - Goal
Abby Wambach- Goal
Saki Kumagai - Goal

Japan beat the USA 3-1 on penalties.

The next Women's World Cup finals will be held in Canada in 2015.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

USA reach Women's World Cup Final as the French are fried!

For the first time since winning on home soil in 1999, the USWNT is back in the World Cup final, after they defeated a spirited French side 3-1 today in the Women's World Cup semi-final at the Borussia Park Stadium in Moenchengladbach, Germany.

Pia Sundhage, the Swedish coach of the USA team, was forced to make one lineup change from the starting eleven that took the field in the quarterfinal against Brazil. With defender Rachel Buehler serving a one-game red-card suspension, Sundhage opted to start Becky Sauerbrunn in her place in central defense.
Sauerbrunn aged 26, a former University of Virginia defender, was making her World Cup debut.

Although France started off the brighter and more adventurous of the two teams in wet conditions, it was the U.S. that took the lead in the ninth minute, when Lauren Cheney scored her second goal of the tournament. Following Heather O’Reilly’s strong run and cross down the left flank, Cheney was on hand at to deftly deflect the ball home at the near post.

Approaching the half-hour mark a Louisa Necib's shot from the edge of the penalty area forced Hope Solo (pictured right, at training yesterday) into a smart save, as she tipped the ball over the crossbar.

Then in the 33rd minute, the French then came even close to scoring an equaliser, but Sonia Bompastor's fierce shot rattled the crossbar.

USA striker Abby Wambach came close to increasing the American's lead twice in a matter of minutes before the interval. First she could only direct a header across the face of goal following a Shannon Boxx cross, and then she should have scored at the near post, but instead stabbed her shot wide.

However the first-half ended with the USA a goal to the good.

The second period continued in a similar vein to the first, with high tempo and end-to-end action. France restored parity ten minutes after the interval with a somewhat fortuitous goal, although one that proved reward for their persistent attacking endeavour. Bompastor played a searching cross into the penalty area for Gaetane Thiney and with Hope Solo in the American goal anticipating a header, she was caught wrong-footed when Thiney failed to connect, allowing Bompastor's cross to sail directly into the net.

Immediately Pia Sundhage made a couple of substitutions, bringing Alex Morgan on for Amy Rodriguez and Megan Rapinoe on for Carli Lloyd, and moving Cheney into the center of midfield.

With just 11 minutes remaining the U.S finally broke the deadlock and took the lead when Lauren Cheney's peach of a corner was met by Abby Wambach. The American striker scored with a towering header giving Berangere Sapowicz no chance in the French goal.

That goal saw Wambach, draw level with fellow American Michelle Akers as the USA's most prolific scorer to date in Women's World Cup Final tournaments, with twelve goals.

Alex Morgan, (below, wearing 13) who came on as a second-half substitute for Amy Rodriguez, added a third just three minutes later with a smart finish following a swift counter-attack, to put the result beyond doubt.

The 3-1 scoreline somewhat flattered the U.S, who were often outplayed by a French team that were resilient, dominated possession and were a constant goal threat throughout the match.

However their poor defending and goalkeeping was their undoing and proved to be the ultimate difference in the match.

So a combination of determination, some solid defending, particularly from the U.S central defensive pairing of Becky Sauerbrunn and Christie Rampone, and a a bit of luck saw the U.S through, but France have shown that they can compete with the superpowers of women's soccer. They are undoubtedly a team to watch in the future.

"First of all I’d like to thank the French team. They’re a fantastic side with an amazing attack. It was a great game and a privilege to play against them today. We stuck together out there. We stayed strong and we kept going when things got tough. In the dressing room I said to [Lauren] Cheney: ‘When we have a corner send the ball to the far post and we’ll score’. Her delivery was exceptional. I was so close to the post I thought I was going to bang my head against it, but luckily I made contact with the ball. I couldn’t be more excited, proud or happy." - USA striker Abby Wambach's post-match reaction.

"We didn’t play well today. France played well. But the team found a way to win and that’s the great thing about being the coach of this team. I made some tactical errors today, but my coaching staff gave me a hand and switched the midfield around just when France were playing their best football." - Pia Sundhage, the USA coach speaks after his sides victory over France.

Match highlights: Women's World Cup Semi-Final - USA v France on 13th July 2011

Goals:Lauren Cheney (USA) 9', Sonia Bompastor (FRA) 55', Abby Wambach(USA) 79', Alex Morgan (USA) 82'

In today's other semi-final, Japan beat Sweden 3-1 and will play the USA in Sunday's Women's World Cup Final.

Sunday 17th July: FIFA Women's World Cup Final, United States v Japan, in the Frankfurt Stadium, Germany, kick-off 19.45 BST, live on BBC3, ESPN, British EuroSport1, ARD, CBC,,, SBS One Australia, TLN.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Congratulations to Mexico - 2011 FIFA Under-17 World Cup Winners

Mexico captain Antonio Briseno holds aloft the FIFA U-17 World Cup

Hosts Mexico won the FIFA Under-17 World Cup on Sunday, with a 2-0 victory over Uruguay in front of a crowd of just under 100,00O at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

Goals from Antonio Briseno in the 31st minute and Giovani Casillas in second-half stoppage time saw Mexico lift the trophy for the second time, having previously won the tournament in 2005.

Briseno scored on 31 minutes, with a close range volley after a cross from the right was headed back across goal by striker Carlos Fierro, leaving Uruguay keeper Jonathan Cubero stranded.
Uruguay nearly hit back straight away, but Elbio Alvarez's long range effort came back off the upright.

Mexico started the the second-half with more urgency, and looked the more likely to score as they tested Cubero with shots from distance.

However it was Uruguayan striker Juan San Martin who almost levelled the scores in the 61st minute, only to see his left foot shot from six yards strike the post with Richard Sanchez beaten. It was the second time the home team had been saved by the woodwork.

Casillas got his goal and Mexico's second in second-half stoppage time, scoring on the counter attack as Uruguay pressed for an equalizer. The final whistle followed just seconds later, sparking joyous scenes of unrivaled passion from fans and players alike.

"This is an amazing feeling and one of my absolute greatest sporting moments here in Mexico. We have a strong group of players in this young Mexican team, I love this job and I love this team. This is a great day." Mexico coach Raul Gutierrez after the game.

"I can't even begin to explain how happy I am, to play at the Estadio Azteca, we're so happy, me and my teammates. We worked really hard, I can't even explain how I feel," said Mexico goalkeeper Richard Sanchez.

The Under-17 World Cup tournament is famously unreliable as a guide of future success at senior level. Brazil has won the event three times, but so has Nigeria. Spain and England have never lifted the trophy, but Saudi Arabia and Switzerland have. Germany played in the first final, in 1985, but has never been back.

However, only two weeks ago the Mexico senior team won the CONCACAF Gold Cup — a competition to determine the regional champion of North America, Central America, and the Caribbean combined — defeating the United States 4-2 in the final in California.
Mexico also won the Gold Cup trophy in 2009, so are we about to witness a new era of world football domination, in the shape of Mexico? We shall see!

Mexican midfielder Julio Gomez – star of the semi-final win over Germany – was handed the adidas Golden Ball as top player while his teammates Jorge Espericueta and striker Carlos Fierro picked up the Silver and Bronze Balls respectively.

Ivorian striker Souleymane Coulibaly held out as the top finisher, to scoop the adidas Golden Shoe. His nine tournament goals in just four games was a record-equaling feat, tying him with previous tournament top scorer Frenchman Florent Sinama Pongolle, who reached the milestone playing three extra games back in 2001.

The adidas Silver Shoe went to Samed Yesil of Germany who scored six goals (and set up a further five) in a tournament where the Germans finished third.

Uruguayan goalkeeper Jonathan Cubero was awarded the adidas Golden Glove for best goalkeeper in the tournament. The Cerro man helped Uruguay earn their reputation as the meanest defence at these finals, only conceding five goals in his team’s seven games.

Full match highlights of the 2011 FIFA Under-17 World Cup Final

Friday, July 08, 2011

The 2011 FIFA Under 17's World Cup Final


This Sunday the 2011 Under 17's World Cup Final takes place between Mexico and Uruguay.

Tournament hosts Mexico dominated Group A, winning all three of their games against North Korea, eventual group runners-up Congo and the Netherlands, scoring eight goals in the process. Next they despatched of Central American rivals Panama 2-0, setting up a quarter-final tie with France which they narrowly edged 2-1.

After their stunning 3-2 victory over Germany in the semi-final the Mexicans now move on to the final of the tournament at the Estadio Azteca on the 10th July, where they will meet Uruguay, who beat Brazil 3-0 in the other semi-final.

One of the biggest stars for the El Tri Under-17 team is striker Carlos Fierro, who plays for Club Deportivo Guadalajara, of the Mexican First Division - the parent club of Chivas USA. He's Mexico's leading scorer with four goals.

Arguably, El Tri's most gifted player has been the young man who flanks Fierro on the left, Giovanni Casillas. He has two goals and his been instrumental in others. Like Fierro, he also plays for Club Deportivo Guadalajara.

Mexican midfielder Julio Gomez is the only player in coach Raul Gutierrez’s squad to have already played in Mexico’s top flight. His last minute winner against Germany - a dazzling overhead kick will go down in the legend and lore of Mexican football and the U-17 World Cup.

Gomez said: "Just thinking about playing in front of a full Estadio Azteca makes me extremely happy, because it means we’ve managed to reach the final." He added, "It’s a reward for all our efforts, but we’re not finished yet. We’ve got one more very tough match against an opponent we know well (Uruguay). They beat us 6-2 in the last friendly we played together, so this could be sweet revenge."

Mexico are a best priced 6/5 with Paddy Power, Betfred and William Hill to win the final in 90 minutes, and 8/11 with Betfred to lift the trophy.

Uruguay coach Fabian Coito’s side booked a place in their first-ever final of a FIFA Under-17 World Cup with a 3-0 win over South American neighbours and arch-rivals Brazil in Guadalajara in Thursday's semi-final.

Uruguay's attacking plans may have worked out perfectly so far, but the foundation for their exploits at Mexico 2011 has been their miserly defence, which has let in just three goals in six games.

In the group stages Uruguay recorded victories over Rwanda and Canada 1-0 and 3-0 respectively, but lost 2-0 to England in their final group game having already qualified for the second stage before they took to the field.
Next up for Uruguay were Congo and the South Americans had to come from a goal behind to edge out the African Congo 2-1 and book their passage into the quarter-finals.

Uruguay secured their place in the semi-final round of the FIFA U-17 World Cup with a comprehensive 2-0 quarter-final win over Asian side Uzbekistan in Monterrey.

Their collective determination and opportunism is a hallmark of Fabian Coito’s spirited side, whose run to Sunday’s showpiece match has been founded on teamwork rather than individual brilliance - teamwork encapsulated by the contribution of squad members such as Guillermo Mendez and San Martin.

Uruguay are a best priced 12/5 with Bet365 to win in 90 minutes and are even money with Betfred to lift the trophy.

Mendez said after his sides thrilling semi-final victory over Germany: "This team always battles hard and gives everything it’s got. And we do that because we know what this jersey means. Now we’re on the way to the final."

One of the most impressive aspects of Uruguay’s relentless advance to Sunday’s showdown with Mexico at the Azteca is that is has been achieved despite a troublesome knee-injury to their star asset Juan Cruz Mascia. Despite his absence from the front line for their quarter-final against Uzbekistan and the semi-final with Brazil, Coito’s charges still managed to rack up five goals, conceding none in the process.

With Mascia sidelined, the attacking burden has been shared. Santiago Charamoni and Rodrigo Aguirre were the men on target against the Uzbeks, while Elbio Alvarez struck from the spot to set 'Los Charrúas' on the road to victory over Brazil.

Mendez concluded: "There’s no such thing as pressure as far as I’m concerned. When I’m out there I try to get on with my job, which is to play football. I don’t pay much attention to what’s going on off the pitch or in the stands."

Given the cacophony of noise that the Mexico fans are sure to serve up at the Azteca on Sunday, that approach looks to be a sensible one.

My Tip of the Weekend:

In what I expect to be be a closely fought affair I fancy Mexico to win the final by the odd goal, particularly as they are playing in front of their own fans. Mexico to win 2-1 is a best priced 8/1 with Paddy Power, Betfred and William Hill, and looks a value bet.
If you think the game will go beyond the 90 minutes, Paddy Power are offering odds of 9/2 on the final being won on a penalty shoot-out.

Sunday 10th July: The 2011 FIFA Under 17's World Cup Final - Uruguay v Mexico, Aztec Stadium, Mexico City, kick-off 00.00 BST, live on British Eurosport 1, ESPNU, Galavision and SBS One Australia.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

All 'White' On The Night - England's Lionesses March On!

England booked their ticket into the quarter-finals of the 2011 Women's World Cup tonight, with an impressive 2-0 victory over Japan, in the Impuls Arena, Augsburg to claim top spot in Group B.

England now face a quarter-final in Leverkusen on Saturday, against France who lost tonight 4-2 to hosts Germany.

England manager Hope Powell made four changes to the line-up that started against New Zealand in their last match.

Captain Faye White and midfielder Fara Williams were both rested while Jess Clarke and Karen Carney, both substitutes against New Zealand, were preferred to Yankey and Eni Aluko by the England manager.

England were forced to hold off some intense early pressure from the Japanese, before taking the lead in the 15th minute in quite spectacular fashion.

Karen Carney delivering a perfectly weighted ball from inside her own half for Ellen White to chase.
Running in between the Japanese centre-backs, the Arsenal striker did not break stride before lifting the ball sublimely over goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori from the edge of the penalty box, to score arguably the goal of the tournament so far.

England striker Ellen White celebrates after scoring a 'wonder goal' in the Women's World Cup tonight

Not long after her goal striker White who was a constant threat, saw another stunning effort, an acrobatic hooked volley fabulously tipped onto the crossbar by Kaihori.

Japan's potent attack, which put four goals past Mexico in its last game, was unusually quiet and their best chance came when Kozue Ando had her shot blocked and cleared near the goal line by England defender Sophie Bradley midway through the opening half.

The second goal eventually came after 66 minutes from half-time substitute Rachel Yankey. England's most experienced player took down Rachel Unitt’s cross before cleverly chipping the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper from a tight angle.

The Japanese, who were already guaranteed a last-eight berth, impressed with their neat approach play and movement, but they could not find an end product to match.

England played the rest of the game out in relative calm, with few scares, while New Zealand produced a terrific fightback in Sinsheim, scoring twice in stoppage time to earn a 2-2 draw with Mexico in tonight's other Group B fixture.

England, despite a disappointing opening draw against Mexico followed by a narrow 2-1 win against New Zealand, will go into Saturday's game against France full of confidence after this solid performance against a talented Japanese side.
England look to have a strong squad with strength and depth in all areas, and most importantly they seem to be peaking at the right time.

In Tuesday's other match in Group A, Nigeria beat Canada 1-0 in Dresden, a third successive defeat for the Canadians.

"We were very, very good today. You've got to respect Japan and the way they play, but we had a gameplan and we implemented it. The ambition was to get out of the group and top the group and we've done that. We're in the quarters and we'll have to do our best" - England manager Hope Powell's post match comments.

"It's almost indescribable, scoring in a World Cup, it's the pinnacle of your career. You've got to beat the best to be the best, so bring them on in the quarter-finals" - England scorer Ellen White's post match comments.

Match Highlights - England v Japan, Women's World Cup 5th July 2011

England Ladies:(4-4-1-1): Bardsley; A Scott, Bradley, Stoney, Unitt; Carney, J Scott, Asante, Clarke (Yankey 46); K Smith (Aluko 62); E White (Bassett 90).

Subs not used: F White, F Williams, Brown (g), Houghton, Susi, Rafferty, Chamberlain (g).

E White (15), Hankey (66)

Friday, July 01, 2011

Babes Of The Month - Sexy Soccer Stars of 2011 World Cup

Top: Madeleine Giske - Norway and Arna-Bjørnar, midfield/striker, aged 23.

Middle left: Jessica Landström - Sweden and FFC Frankfurt, midfield/striker, aged 26.

Middle right: Corine Franco - France and Lyon, defensive midfielder, aged 27.

Bottom: Alex Morgan - United States and Western New York Flash, striker, aged 21.