Manchester United FC v SC Braga - UEFA Champions League

ProSoccerTalk’s daily soccer re-set

Leave a comment

Soccer birthdays:

Huge day for birthdays in our sport. So, let’s get started:

Wayne Rooney, having finally grown out of some of that youthful petulance – He was recently a captain for England, and what says “growing up” like that? – turns 27.

And a big “Happy Birthday!” to Juan Pablo Angel. Hope you have a good one, man. Suggested celebration: Get the heck out of that silly Chivas USA circus as quickly as possible. You’ve earned the right to wrap it up with something better. (The highly respected Colombian veteran striker turns 37 today.)

Former U.S. women’s national teamer Kylie Bivens turns 34.

Longtime Scottish midfielder Asa Hartford, who played 50 times for his country and a whopping 744 league games over 24 years (finishing up in 1991), turns 62.

Big Important Stories of the Day:

The second day of Champions League surely cannot replicate the upset potential and drama of Tuesday. Or can it?

There are changes afoot at two MLS clubs, Chivas USA and Toronto FC.

RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day:   Hank Steinbrecher

*Ahead on the blog today:

Are you seeing all of Richard Farley’s Champions League preview work? You should be. Or maybe you don’t want to be the smartest guy in the room when conversation turns to the world’s top club soccer competition.

We’ll have some thoughts on those changes going on around the MLS clubs, too.

Twitter daps:


What you should watch on TV today:

Zenit Saint Petersburg vs. Anderlecht begins the day of Champions League greatness on Fox Soccer Channel. That one is up at noon (ET).

Ajax hosts Manchester City from the Netherlands’ largest city at 2:45 p.m. in the day’s other live viewing on FSC.

German champion Borussia Dortmund host Real Madrid in what should be a terrific match. That kicks off on delay at 5 p.m. on FSC, or live at 2:45 p.m. on Fox Soccer Plus.

If the MLS playoffs started today (following 31 rounds):

Eastern Conference

(Wildcard round)

  • Houston at New York

(Second round)

  • Sporting Kansas City vs. Wildcard winner
  • Chicago vs. D.C. United

Western Conference:

(Wildcard round)

  • Vancouver Whitecaps at L.A. Galaxy

(Second Round)

  • San Jose vs. Wildcard winner
  • Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle

PST background noise while blogging today: Catching up on the DVRed Champions League matches that weren’t seen today. Sometimes there is just too much of this wonderful stuff, and it’s too hard to take it all in. (Not that I’m complaining!)

*Always subject to change; you know how it is

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

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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.