ProSoccerTalk’s daily soccer re-set


Soccer birthdays:

Is Marco Materazzi the most famous victim in soccer history? Everyone following the global game six years ago remembers the bizarre moment when the peerless Zinedine Zidane famously head-butted an Italian defender during the 2006 World Cup final. That defender was Materazzi, who turns 39 today.

(Head-butting someone square in the chest! I mean, who even thinks of such a thing?)

The YouTube clip is here.

Newcastle defender / midfielder / free kick specialist Ryan Taylor turns 28 (the quintessential sweet spot in most pro soccer careers: old to know, still young enough to do.)

Big Important Stories of the Day:  

The other half of Champions League group stage round 1 is up today, and there are some dandies, of course.  Chelsea, Juventus, Celtic, Manchester United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Valencia are all on the grass today in the world’s richest club team competition.

On our side of the Atlantic, a contest between two of the top Eastern Conference clubs (Sporting Kansas City and New York) tops a threesome of MLS matches.

RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day): Shep Messing

Twitter daps:


*Ahead on the blog today: Previews from Richard Farley of the other four Champion League groups are already up.

We’ll have “Winners and Losers” from the Champions League matches, plus analysis and highlights from MLS matches and the L.A. Galaxy’s and Sounders’ CONCACAF Champions League appearances.

What you should watch on TV today:

Chelsea-Juventus is the feature Champions League match on Fox Soccer Channel at 2 p.m. ET

Manchester United – Galatasaray follows on FSC (on delay) at 5 p.m. ET

Other UEFA Champions League matches are scattered across the other Fox platforms (Fox Deportes and Fox Soccer Plus)

If the MLS playoffs started today (following 28 rounds):

Eastern Conference

(Wildcard round)

  • Houston vs. D.C. United

(Second round)

  • Sporting Kansas City vs. Wildcard winner
  • Chicago vs. New York Red Bulls

Western Conference:

(Wildcard round)

  • Real Salt Lake vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

(Second Round)

  • San Jose vs. Wildcard winner
  • Seattle vs. L.A. Galaxy

PST background noise while blogging today: Podcast day at ProSoccerTalk headquarters. Soccer podcasts, naturally.

*Always subject to change; you know how it is…

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.