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SHARES
19 May 2008
Good Day 
SHARES
19 May 2008
So in the end there was no massive bottling and historical choker from Inter.In fact, it turned out to be something of a damp squib as Zlatan Ibrahimovic was unwrapped from cotton wool to provide the coup de grace.It was a soggy old afternoon for any sporting event and tempers in and around Parma’s compact Tardini stadium were frayed almost to breaking point.
SHARES
18 May 2008
Mexican football usually catches the fans’ eyes with a beautiful, exciting, offensive game. But historically it has led them to nothing but disappointment. With no major international crowns – except in the Concacaf competitions, where they play alone – their clubs, performing well but failing to deliver at crunch time, tend to live up to the national team motto: jugó como nunca, perdió como siempre (played like never before, lost as usual).  This year, however, America is not honoring this tradition. Perhaps the most successful side in Mexico’s football history, the Eagles entered this Libertadores campaign with one of their worst squads ever. No-one thought they would go further than a burrito left alone in the sun. But, playing mostly miserable football, they are somehow still alive and kicking. On Thursday night they beat Santos at home 2-0, taking a huge advantage to Vila Belmiro for the second leg.How do I begin to explain that the team that reached rock bottom at home are a step away from the Libertadores semifinals? Sorry, I just can’t do that.The only thing for sure is that the turning point of their campaign was the clash against Flamengo in the Libertadores’ round of 16 earlier this month. They went into the first leg as the worst team in the Mexican Clausura: two wins, two draws and 11 (yes, 11) losses. No wonder the Azteca Stadium was empty for the game against the high-flying Brazilians, who killed the poor birds 4-2. After the fourth goal America’s Argentine gaffer, Ruben Romano, made with his hands the unequivocal “it’s over” sign. And in the changing rooms, to avoid further shame, he resigned from his job.But in the second leg, at the Maracanã Stadium, headless America needed a 3-0 win to qualify. In other words, a miracle. Which it was just what they got.
SHARES
17 May 2008
I’ve just got back from the Russian consulate. I was half expecting to be asked to perform a traditional Cossack dance to a panel, but the reality was a mute official who didn’t make eye contact slipping my passport under a glass screen.
SHARES
16 May 2008
Saturday 
SHARES
16 May 2008
The ghosts of Inter’s past are no doubt rattling the windows of Massimo Moratti’s luxurious Milanese penthouse.The president has banned all talk of May 5, 2002 as his side stare into the abyss of the greatest collapse in modern Italian football after holding a 11-point lead back in February.Six years ago, the Nerazzurri had allowed a five-point lead with five games to go to disappear, leaving Juventus just a point behind going into the final day.In the heat of Rome’s Olympic stadium the likes of Marco Materazzi, Ronaldo and Christian Vieri wilted in a 4-2 defeat to Lazio. It’s something Inter fans had become used to as the team suffered a similar fate back in the 1966-67 season, with Juve once again profiting from their last-day jitters.However, the Turin side have also suffered the indignity of blowing what seemed an unassailable advantage when they led Lazio in the 1999-2000 season by nine points in April, only to fall apart in spectacular fashion.
SHARES
15 May 2008
Levante are downing tools after two years without pay after one player had to send his missus home to live with his mother while he dossed down on a mate’s floor, after a whole fleet of flash cars were taken back, after bank accounts were frozen, after Riga had his house dispossessed, after threats and stand offs, after protest t-shirts and a protest kick-off in which they allowed Deportivo’s Sergio to run through unchallenged on goal, and after the aborted strike of a few weeks back.  That time, the strike was averted because the club, the council and their preferred loan sharks promised to find the money to pay them; this time, the strike is back on because the club, the council and their preferred loan sharks broke their promises.
SHARES
15 May 2008
Could football have prevented the Russian revolution? The Scottish spy, journalist, diplomat, assassin and footballer R.H. Bruce Lockhart certainly thought so. In chapter two of his memoirs, Lockhart recalls how two Lancastrian mill owners, Clement and Harry Charnock, introduced the sport to the Russian capital “as an antidote to vodka drinking and political unrest” among their staff.
SHARES
14 May 2008
'He wore the Argentina flag, he wore the Argentina flag,' was a phrase that I think, with only a little bit of exaggeration, was what every one of my Argentine friends said to me on Monday morning.

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