Thursday, July 15, 2010


Spain's World Cup hero Andres Iniesta insists he was always confident his side could lift the trophy, despite enduring a turbulent season.

Midfielder Iniesta, who netted the extra-time winner for Spain in Sunday's World Cup final against Holland, was plagued by a thigh injury last term and only returned for Barcelona at the end of the campaign.

The 26-year-old then aggravated the problem during Spain's friendly win over Poland ahead of the South Africa tournament and was sidelined once again as Vicente del Bosque's side lost 1-0 to Switzerland in their opening group match. But Iniesta, who reappeared to play a key role in Spain's first World Cup triumph, claims he never doubted his side could land the world title.

Iniesta admits he has trouble putting into words how it felt to score the crucial goal for Spain that ensured their "priceless" win. Up until Sunday, Iniesta's most celebrated goal was an injury-time strike against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 2009, sealing Barcelona's progression to the UEFA Champions League final, where they downed Manchester United. But the midfielder insists nothing compares to the feeling of helping secure World Cup success for his country.

Iniesta has also reiterated his desire to be reunited with Cesc Fabregas at Barcelona next season. The two combined to secure Spain's first-ever World Cup triumph on Sunday, with Fabregas' pass picking out Iniesta to score the extra-time winner against Holland.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Cesc Fabregas hailed a historic moment for Spain after he helped La Roja to their first World Cup triumph.

The Arsenal midfielder came off the bench to create the extra-time winner for Andres Iniesta as Spain beat Holland 1-0 in Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium.

Fabregas found himself playing a bit-part role throughout the tournament, but he said the victory made up for all the frustration. Fabregas also had some sympathy for Arsenal team-mate and Dutch forward Robin van Persie after the game.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Andres Iniesta's strike with four minutes left of extra-time fired Spain to World Cup glory for the first time in their history as they vanquished Holland in a fractious final at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium.

In a game when a record number of yellow cards were given and John Heitinga was sent off in extra-time, both sides missed great chances from Arjen Robben and Cesc Fabregas, but Andres Iniesta netted in the 116th minute to give European champions Spain their first World Cup title.

Spain completely dominated possession but had few clear-cut chances to show for it, with a free header from Sergio Ramos and a David Villa strike that was deflected over the best opportunities in normal time. Demonstrated some excellent touches in midfield, with plenty of classy interchanges and never showed frustration when they couldn't break through. 

After an unimpressive first period, in which four Dutch players were yellow carded, Bert van Marwijk's side came into the game more after the interval, trying to get the ball to Arjen Robben as much as possible. It almost worked to devastating effect on two occasions when Carles Puyol's pace was exposed, but Robben was twice thwarted by Iker Casillas. Were outclassed in extra-time and after losing their cool a third World Cup final defeat will be the bitterest pill to swallow.

The introduction of Fabregas injected some much-needed freshness into Vicente del Bosque's side and the winning goal was just reward for the team that unquestionably played the better football.

Three minutes into the first period of extra-time, Spain had appeals for a penalty rightly turned down by Webb, who judged that Xavi kicked into Heitinga when in the area. 

In the 19th minute of extra-time, Holland were reduced to 10 men after Heitinga received a second booking for pulling on Iniesta's shoulder. And with four minutes remaining, Spain scored the goal that won them the 2010 World Cup.

Fabregas slipped a pass to his right, and waiting was Iniesta. The Barcelona schemer took one touch before planting the ball past Stekelenburg with aplomb, sparking delirium from the Spanish players as they completed their mission for world domination.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Spain needed a 73rd minute goal from defender Carles Puyol to edge past Germany 1-0 on Wednesday and set up a World Cup final against Netherlands. Puyol climbed above the defence to head the winner from a Xavi corner and send Spain to their first World Cup final.

The Spaniards dominated most of the match but struggled to finish off a German side that was lacking their usual pace. European champions Spain dominated possession early on and needed only five minutes to carve out their first chance against a nervous German defence.

Spain forward Pedro, who started ahead of the misfiring Fernando Torres, played the ball for David Villa, who caught Arne Friedrich napping but could not beat keeper Manuel Neuer. With the Germans, who lost the Euro 2008 final to the Spaniards by the same score, boxed into their own half, Spain kept up the pressure, with Puyol heading an Andres Iniesta cross from the right narrowly over the bar after 15 minutes.

The Spaniards came agonisingly close in the 58th minute with a Pedro shot that forced a spectacular save from Neuer before Iniesta cut the ball across the face of goal a metre ahead of the sliding Villa. Germany remained on the backfoot and 17 minutes from time were punished when Puyol headed home the winner.

Spain will face Netherlands at Soccer City in Johannesburg on Sunday. The Dutch have been in the final twice before but have never won it so a new world champion is guaranteed.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Spain have received an injury boost ahead of their World Cup semi-final against Germany after Cesc Fabregas trained with his team-mates on Tuesday night.

Vicente del Bosque was handed a headache over the Arsenal captain, who is wanted by Barcelona, when he sustained a knock to his right leg in a previous training session.

But a scan revealed that Fabregas had not suffered a bone injury and he could be available to face Germany on Wednesday, with speculation suggesting that after being a substitute he is set to start in place of Fernando Torres.

Despite wearing a support strip on the back of his leg, the midfielder was able to take part in a complete training session in Durban on Tuesday to suggest he will be ready to take on Joachim Low's in-form side.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


An 83rd minute goal from David Villa defeated a dogged Paraguay as Spain unconvincingly booked a World Cup semi-final tie with Germany.

Villa scored with seven minutes remaining at Ellis Park to save his country's blushes following an unusually lacklustre performance and send them to the last four for the first time in their history.

The winning goal came after Oscar Cardozo and Xabi Alonso both missed penalties, the latter following a re-take.

Spain head coach Vicente del Bosque name an unchanged starting XI, despite pressure to remove the mis-firing Fernando Torres. Chile, meanwhile, made six changes to the team which beat Japan on penalties. Among those alterations, forward trio Roque Santa Cruz, Lucas Barrios and Edgar Benitez all dropped to the bench.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Wesley Sneijder insists that he has not fallen out with striker Robin van Persie ahead of Holland's World Cup quarter-final against five-times champions Brazil in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

The Arsenal striker was unhappy at being substituted in Holland's 2-1 second round victory against Slovakia in Durban and had been accused of suggesting to Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk that Sneijder should have been the man to be replaced with 10 minutes remaining in the match.

Van Persie has scored just one goal against Cameroon at the finals and has struggled to find his best form following an injury-hit season with Arsenal.

Inter Milan ace Sneijder has played down reports of a falling-out with the 26-year-old after they were both reportedly summoned for talks with Van Marwijk following Monday's match. Sneijder insists that there is a real sense of unity in the Dutch squad, unlike in previous tournaments.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels England were "killed by their own impatience" as they crashed out of the World Cup to Germany in Bloemfontein.

Fabio Capello's future as boss of the national team is under the spotlight following England's woeful showing in South Africa, which ended with a 4-1 footballing lesson from a young German side on Sunday.

However, Wenger believes it could have been different had the England players used their experience and not allowed themselves to be caught on the break as they pressed for an equaliser, which they had been denied when the officials failed to spot that Frank Lampard's lob had crossed the line.

Wenger also believes England's failure to cope with the weight of expectation was a big part of the problem.


Sunday, June 27, 2010


Manchester United have ruled out a bid to sign Joe Cole on a free transfer. Cole is out of contract this summer and, after Chelsea confirmed he will not be offered a new deal, he has been linked with several top clubs in the Premier League.

It had been reported that Arsenal had agreed a deal, but Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp this week said he believed the player would move to Old Trafford.

However, various reports now suggest United have said they have no intention of offering Cole a deal. The BBC claims that "although Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has been a long-time admirer of Cole, a senior club source at Old Trafford said he would not be making a summer move to sign him".

Friday, June 25, 2010


Holland maintained their 100 per cent record at the World Cup as they ensured Cameroon left the tournament pointless after running out 2-1 winners in their final Group E game.

Robin van Persie's crisp 36th minute strike gave the Green Point Stadium crowd something to get excited about in an otherwise drab opening period to what was a virtual dead-rubber.

But a much-improved second half saw the Indomitable Lions rewarded for their endeavour as Samuel Eto'o scored his second goal of the tournament via the penalty spot after Rafael van der Vaart was penalised for handballing Geremi's free-kick.

But Paul Le Guen's side were denied a point as Dutch substitute Arjen Robben quickly announced himself to the South Africa finals as his long-range blast cannoned off the post before allowing fellow replacement Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to tuck home the winner.

The Dutch top Group E with nine points and will meet Slovakia in Durban on Monday for a place in the quarter-finals while Cameroon head home empty-handed.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Cesc Fabregas has admitted he was frustrated not to get on the field in Spain's 1-0 defeat by Switzerland on Wednesday.

The Arsenal midfielder has been the subject of intense speculation regarding his future in England, with former club Barcelona desperate to bring the 23-year-old back to the side he left as a 16-year-old academy product.

Despite his standing as one of the world's finest playmakers, Fabregas has often been in the shadow of the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso in the international squad, who are favoured by coach Vicente del Bosque.

Spain headed into the World Cup in South Africa strongly fancied to win the tournament for the first time, but they were stunned by a gritty Swiss side who nullified their threat and hit them on the counter-attack with Gelson Fernandes' winner shortly after the half-time interval.


Denmark hit back from an early deficit to re-ignite their World Cup challenge and in the process extinguish Cameroon's chances of getting through to the second round.

In what was a hugely entertaining encounter between the bottom two teams in Group E in Pretoria, Cameroon took the lead in the 10th minute through captain Samuel Eto'o following a bad defensive error by Christian Poulsen.

Denmark recovered from that setback though, and goals from Nicklas Bendtner and the dangerous Dennis Rommedahl in either half earned the Scandinavians a hard-fought victory.

The result means that Denmark join their next opponents Japan on three points, while group leaders Netherlands are now guaranteed a top-two finish - making them the first team to progress.

For battling Cameroon though, the defeat sees them become the first side to bid farewell to the World Cup after losing both their opening two games.


Wesley Sneijder's second-half goal handed Holland a narrow win over Japan in their second Group E match and put the Oranje within reach of the last 16 of the World Cup.

After a frustrating opening half for the Dutch side, they finally broke through in the 53rd minute with Sneijder's stinging drive deflected by Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima into his own net.

Japan had the best chance to level the score one minute from time but an unmarked substitute Shinji Okazaki fired over the bar from just 10 yards as Holland held on for victory.

The Oranje, who had a sea of supporters at Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium, dominated possession but had just one shot on goal in the opening half.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


An own goal by Daniel Agger, thanks to Simon Poulsen's mistimed header, and a late Dirk Kuyt effort helped Netherlands begin their World Cup campaign with a comfortable victory over Denmark at Soccer City.

Both goals came in the second half after an assured first period of defending by the Scandinavians, who constantly thwarted a Dutch attack which appeared short of ideas without the injured Arjen Robben.

But the resistance was broken less than 60 seconds into the second half, when Robin van Persie's cross from the left was headed in the wrong direction by Simon Poulsen - he tried to head clear and sent it towards his own goal - and it struck the back of Agger and went in.

Kuyt doubled Netherlands' advantage five minutes from the end to ensure the highly-fancied Oranje a positive start in Group E.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Rafael Marquez denied hosts South Africa a dream start to the World Cup with his goal 11 minutes from time earning Mexico a deserved draw at Soccer City. The home side was lucky to escape when Khune flapped at a corner, but came so far he played Carlos Vela offside as the Arsenal forward latched on to a flick-on and tapped in.

After struggling through the first half, the home side came out firing after the break and took the lead through Siphiwe Tshabalala. But after missing plenty of chances to build on their advantage, they saw their lead cancelled out by the Barcelona defender.


Sunday, June 6, 2010


Holland came from behind to hit Hungary for six, but then suffered their own big blow with a late injury to Arjen Robben. Star winger Robben left the Amsterdam ArenA with a hamstring injury after notching a brace (64, 79), leaving him a major doubt for the World Cup.
Robin van Persie (22), Wesley Sneijder (58) Mark van Bommel (71) and Eljero Elia (75) were also on target for Oranje in their final World Cup warm-up game before their Group E campaign.
But the Dutch were caught napping for the sixth-minute opener when Sandor Torghelle's long ball from his own half was collected with ease by Balazs Dzsudzsak, who dispatched a powerful shot into the top-left corner of Maarten Stekelenburg's net from the edge of the area.



Navas' first international goal for Spain was enough to secure a 1-0 win over fellow World Cup finalists South Korea in Austria. Sevilla winger Navas' stunning effort four minutes from time earned Spain an 11th successive victory to stretch their current impressive run to just one defeat in 47 games.
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque opted to start with a side made up largely of fringe players, and aside from a Cesc Fabregas effort that hit the crossbar, they created little to worry South Korea in the opening period. The South Koreans, who suffered a disappointing 1-0 defeat against Belarus on Sunday, did not create many problems either before half-time, although they did come close twice.

Saturday, June 5, 2010



Mexico warmed up for the World Cup finals with a 2-1 friendly win over holders Italy in Brussels. Arsenal youngster Carlos Vela opened the scoring for Mexico and substitute Alberto Medina added the second before Leonardo Bonucci notched a late consolation for Italy.

Just as England had been outplayed by the Mexicans for long periods at Wembley last week, Italy were given the run-around by Javier Aguirre's team at the King Baudouin Stadium. Whereas England managed to battle to a 3-1 win however, the Italians were stifled by an improved Mexican backline.

Mexico, who will play the opening game of the 2010 World Cup against hosts South Africa on 11th June in Johannesburg, started with Tottenham's Giovani Dos Santos in attack alongside Manchester United-bound Javier Hernandez



Friday, June 4, 2010


Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas is set to play for the first time in two months against South Korea, but Fernando Torres will not be risked. The European champions take on South Korea in Innsbruck on Thursday in a World Cup warm-up as they prepare for their Group H campaign.
Arsenal skipper Fabregas, subject of a transfer bid by Barcelona, is set to come back from a cracked bone in his right leg in the game and Spain coach Vicente del Bosque is expecting no problems. Liverpool striker Torres is also close to a return from knee surgery but the hot-shot missed one of two training sessions on Tuesday as a precaution.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Barcelona have confirmed that they have made an offer to Arsenal for Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas.
Barca have been strongly linked with Fabregas for some time, and the player has now said he would welcome the chance to return to Camp Nou this summer.
The club's director general, Joan Oliver, confirmed on their official website that a written offer has been submitted and "formal" talks are now underway.


Theo Walcott says he felt he deserved his place in England's final 23-man squad but says he has been reassured he is still in Fabio Capello's plans for the future.
Darren Bent, Adam Johnson, Scott Parker, Tom Huddlestone, Michael Dawson and Leighton Baines were all told they had missed out on a place in South Africa on Tuesday, but it was Walcott's omission that provided the biggest shock.
Several newspapers report that Walcott was left out after failing to follow Capello's instructions to stay wide and beat his man on the outside in the last two friendlies, with his mistakes frustrating the coach during a DVD review of the matches, but the Arsenal man feels he had warranted a place.


Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt sent Holland on their way to a crushing friendly victory over disappointing Ghana in Rotterdam. Kuyt struck the game's opener on the half hour and second-half efforts from Rafael van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie saw the hosts ease home. Asamoah Gyan netted for the Africans.
Kuyt stabbed the ball home from close range after Ghana keeper Richard Kingson had parried the initial shot from van Persie. Coach Bert van Marwijk made three half-time substitutions and the Dutch struggled to make the game safe before Van der Vaart finished off a one-two with Mark van Bommel on 73 minutes.
Ghana pulled one back through Gyan before a long-range effort from Sneijder and a late penalty from Van Persie wrapped up a convincing Dutch win.

Friday, May 28, 2010


A brace from Robin van Persie saw Holland step up their World Cup preparations with a 2-1 friendly win over Mexico on Wednesday.
The Arsenal striker opened the scoring after 17 minutes in Freiburg before doubling the Dutch lead shortly before half-time.
Manchester United new-boy Javier Hernandez pulled one back for the Mexicans after the break but they slipped to a second defeat in the space of a week, having gone down 3-1 against England on Monday.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Arsenal have signed Morocco's 26-year-old striker Marouane Chamakh on a long-term contract from Bordeaux. He also held talks with Liverpool and Arsenal's north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur but set his heart on playing at The Emirates having followed the club as a youngster. Arsenal did not disclose the length of the contract.
Chamakh, who played 293 games and scored 79 goals in eight years with Ligue 1 side Bordeaux, joins on a free transfer at the end of his contract with Bordeaux. He scored 10 goals in Ligue 1 last season having netted 14 times in the previous campaign when he helped Bordeaux win the French title ending Olympique Lyon's seven-year reign.
Born and raised in France, Chamakh decided to play for the country of his parents and has played 53 times for Morocco, scoring 27 goals. He was part of the side that lost 2-1 to host nation Tunisia in the 2004 African Nations Cup final.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Barcelona forward Thierry Henry has rejected stories that he has agreed in principle to sign a contract with Major League Soccer side New York Bulls.
Henry, who seems certain to leave Barcelona this summer after a disappointing season with the La Liga champions, was widely reported in the US media on Monday to have already agreed to put pen to paper.
It was suggested that Henry will sign for the Red Bulls after the World Cup, with Henry in the French squad for the tournament in South Africa. But Henry wants to concentrate on the World Cup before considering his next move in club football.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


France coach Raymond Domenech will cut his World Cup squad to 24 players on Monday in order to give William Gallas every chance of making it. Domenech will make the announcement in TF1 programme Telefoot on Sunday.
Arsenal centre-back Gallas, who is recovering from a calf injury, is guaranteed place in the squad only if he is fit on June 1 when the final list of 23 names has to be sent to FIFA. On Tuesday, Domenech unveiled a provisional selection of 30 players for the tournament in South Africa.


Former England number one David Seaman believes Fabio Capello has selected the right combination of goalkeepers for next month's World Cup.
The Italian has picked Portsmouth's David James, West Ham's Robert Green and Manchester City's Joe Hart, who spent this season on loan at Birmingham, in his 30-man provisional squad.
Barring injury that trio will go to South Africa, despite Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce claiming Capello had made a mistake in not taking Paul Robinson.


Samir Nasri has said he is one of "four or five" Arsenal players who do not speak to William Gallas.
Nasri and Gallas are known to have a problematic relationship, with a bust-up at Euro 2008 documented in Gallas' autobiography, but Nasri has now revealed a number of players do not get along with the 32-year-old.
Kolo Toure revealed last month that his feud with Gallas had driven him to quit the club for Manchester City last summer.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque has named injured trio Fernando Torres, Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta in his initial 30-man World Cup squad, while uncapped Barcelona forward Pedro is also included.
Del Bosque has selected five goalkeepers in the list, with uncapped duo Victor Valdes of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid youngster David De Gea likely to be battling out with Villarreal's Diego Lopez to see who will be joining Iker Casillas and Jose Reina in the final squad.
Provisional Squad:
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), David De Gea (Atletico Madrid), Diego Lopez (Villarreal), Jose Reina (Liverpool) Victor Valdes (Barcelona), Raul Albiol (Real Madrid), Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid) Cesar Azpilicueta (Osasuna), Joan Capdevila (Villarreal), Carlos Marchena (Valencia), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Carles Puyol (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Sergi Busquets (Barcelona), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Javi Martinez (Athletic Bilbao) Marcos Senna (Villarreal), David Silva (Valencia), Xavi (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Villarreal), Jesus Navas (Sevilla), Juan Manuel Mata (Valencia) Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), Dani Guiza (Fenerbache) Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla), Fernando Torres (Liverpool FC) and David Villa (Valencia). 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Gilberto Silva may not have the eye-catching flamboyance of some of his team mates but still believes his role in Brazil's midfield is crucial for the five-times world champions, even if it goes unnoticed. The former Arsenal player is set to play at his third World Cup, yet after 91 appearances is still trying to convince Brazil's demanding critics that he is worthy of the famous gold shirt.
"I'm not the type of player who dribbles, scores goals and does anything eye-catching"
At times, Gilberto, who has managed three goals for his country, almost plays as a third central defender as the two full backs push up to join the attack. Gilberto was ever-present at the 2002 World Cup, having won his place in the team at the last minute when first-choice Emerson was forced out through injury.